Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sunday Reading

Still Silencing Women — Jia Tolentino in The New Yorker on what one year of #MeToo has done, and hasn’t, for women speaking up.

During the past year, I have grown increasingly uneasy with a fairly common bit of semantic slippage: in headlines, in think pieces, and on social media, many people use the phrases “#MeToo movement” and “#MeToo moment” interchangeably, without acknowledging the gulf between them. Is #MeToo—this jagged, brutal, contentious, and profound collective reckoning with the extent to which men have been allowed to abuse their power—an epochal shift toward a better and more equal society? Or is it fleeting—a piece of time that we can record and later revisit, but that we could never, in this country, under a twenty-times-accused-of-sexual-misconduct President, make last?

In recent weeks, as we neared the first anniversary of this moment or movement breaking into the mainstream, signs of a new narrative—or perhaps a very old one imbued with a new reactionary fervor—began to emerge, offering one possible answer to that question. Louis C.K., who has admitted to cornering multiple women who worked in the comedy industry and masturbating in front of them, started performing again, to the delight of supporters who seemed to believe that C.K. has been victimized by the Zeitgeist. Harper’s and The New York Review of Books published lengthy first-person essays by disgraced men who painted themselves as martyrs. The Republican Party pushed Brett Kavanaugh into a seat on the Supreme Court, despite multiple credible allegations of sexual misconduct made against him and his string of lies under oath about matters related to that alleged sexual misconduct. (Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.) At a rally in Mississippi, Donald Trump mocked the public testimony of Kavanaugh’s first public accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who claims that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her while they were in high school. Trump’s supporters, who had earlier chanted “We want Kavanaugh,” roared and laughed and cheered. “A man’s life is shattered,” Trump said, suddenly faking solemnity. He added, “They destroy people. They want to destroy people. These are really evil people.”

The underlying principle here is that the men who have been accused are the heroes, and that those who accuse them, and listen to the accusations, are the villains. This revanchism is not a sign of #MeToo’s overcorrection, or even of its success—it is merely evidence of its existence. This sort of backlash, as Susan Faludi wrote nearly thirty years ago, is “set off not by women’s achievement of full equality but by the increased possibility that they might win it. It is a preemptive strike that stops women long before they reach the finish line.”

When Ford spoke publicly, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in late September, she was unfailingly polite and deferential while being interrogated at length about a traumatic experience. She spoke like a woman who had understood since childhood that survival requires anticipating and accepting the displeasure of men. Kavanaugh, in contrast, who spoke after her, yelled and wept, behaving like a man whose entitlement had never before been challenged, and who believed that male power outweighs women’s personhood as naturally as a boulder outweighs a pearl. The hearing was a vivid illustration of the precise problem that #MeToo has helped to expose, and of the fact that many men consider the exposure of the problem to be the problem itself. At one point, Kavanaugh traded lines with an equally furious Senator Lindsey Graham about how the delay in his confirmation had put him “through hell.”

The anger crackling through Kavanaugh and Graham—and the thrum of vindictive satisfaction that I could feel passing through the base they were playing to—shut me down for the evening. I grasped, for the first time, the extent to which the past year has made some men crave the poisonous high of feeling wrongfully endangered. I also grasped the scale of the consequences that women and other sexual-assault victims will face as a result. Like the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, these men are borrowing the rhetoric of the structurally oppressed and delivering it with a rage that is denied to all but the most powerful. “I’m a single white male from South Carolina,” Graham said, at a meeting the morning after the hearing, “and I’m told that I should just shut up, but I will not shut up.”

The past year has been full of sweeping pronouncements. “Time’s up for these men.” “The silence is breaking.” The inflexible triumphalism of this language, like the cheerful pink emoji attached to the #MeToo hashtag, has always left me cold. It is often assumed that women like me, feminists who have argued for a redistribution of power, have been steadily rejoicing—that we’ve blown trumpets after every ouster—when in fact many of us have been exhausted and heartbroken and continually reminded of situations in which our ability to consent had been compromised or nullified in any one of a thousand ways. I don’t know a single woman who has permitted herself to be as openly furious about being sexually assaulted as Kavanaugh allowed himself to be, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, when speaking about being accused of sexual assault. Like Ford, we have had to be painfully careful about how we speak.

Women’s speech is sometimes wielded, in this #MeToo era, as if it were Excalibur—as if the shining, terrible truth about the lives of women will, by itself, vanquish the men who have exploited and controlled them; as if speech were a weapon that protects those who wield it from hurt. Supporters of #MeToo have, on occasion, adhered to this idea in a sort of delusive optimism. Opponents have brandished it, too, in bad faith, acting as though women’s speech has far more social and political and legal power than it has actually been granted. Until the nineteen-eighties, many jurisdictions required an alleged rape victim’s testimony to be corroborated before a conviction could be issued—even though, for nonsexual crimes, guilt could be established on the basis of a victim’s testimony alone. We saw a replay of this in the Kavanaugh hearing. Although the burden of proof should not have been as high as it would have been for a criminal trial—and though Ford’s testimony was widely regarded, even by many of Kavanaugh’s most powerful supporters, as credible—that testimony was described, again and again, as not enough.

It will be said that Kavanaugh was confirmed despite the #MeToo movement. It would be at least as accurate to say that he was confirmed because of it. Women’s speech—and the fact that we are now listening to it—has enraged men in a way that makes them determined to reëstablish the longstanding hierarchy of power in America. By imagining that they are threatened, men like Kavanaugh have found the motivation to demonstrate, at great cost to the rest of us, that they are still the ones who have the ability to threaten others.

And yet this awful truth will not stop women from speaking, and I do not think that it will turn a movement into a moment. It has become clear that there is not nearly enough left to lose.

Doonesbury — More twittering from the twit.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Going After Women

Freud would have a field day with this.

Trump was noticeably quick to cut off, interrupt or scold female reporters who asked him questions about his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during a press conference Monday in the Rose Garden.

Before ABC’s Cecilia Vega had a chance to raise her question about Kavanaugh, Trump was immediately combative. After calling on Vega to ask a question, he joked that she was not expecting to get called on.

“She’s shocked that I picked her, she’s in a state of shock,” Trump said. Vega waited to be handed the microphone, and either said “I’m not — thank you, Mr. President” or “I’m not thinking, Mr. President” as she stood up and glanced at her notes. Trump clearly thought she said the latter.

“It’s okay, I know you’re not thinking, you never do,” he said.

“I’m sorry?” Vega said, before Trump prodded her to ask her question, which was about the White House limiting the scope of the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh. Trump then steamrolled her, asking, “what does that have to do with trade?”

He refused to take any questions about Kavanaugh until he spoke more about the new trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Moments later, Trump scolded CNN’s Kaitlan Collins for attempting to ask a question about the limited scope of the probe. The two sparred briefly, before Collins’ line of questioning was cut off and she was forced to hand the microphone to another reporter who had questions about Trump’s new trade agreement.

“Don’t do that, that’s not nice,” he said.

Trump eventually took both Vega’s and Collins’ questions about Kavanaugh and the FBI probe into allegations of sexual assault against him, but interrupted Collins when he thought her turn was over.

“You’ve had enough,” he said.

While their questions weren’t about Kavanaugh, Trump was brusque with two other female reporters during the presser on Monday.

One woman asked him to clarify the comments he had made about Democrats not being “angels.”

“No, I think I’ll save it for a book like everybody else and I’ll write it, okay? I’m not giving it to you,” he said.

Trump also asked cut off another female reporter who asked him about the failure to follow through with a ban on bump stocks.

“No, you’re wrong about that,” he said.

We’ve always known that Trump has a problem with women being anything other than subservient or his target for sexual gratification, but after last Thursday when Prof. Christine Blasey Ford gave testimony in a calm and measured manner as compared to the dramatics and high dudgeon of Judge Kavanaugh, it’s obvious he’s taking out his frustration on women.  They’re ruining his nice he-men women-are-chattel club!

Polling indicates that women voters are going to return the favor in droves next month, and if he has to run against a woman for re-election, he’s going to be even worse than he is now, which is saying something.

Trump is not the only one attacking women.  Sen Tom Cotton (R-AR) — whose name evokes a character from “The Hobbit” — has issues with them as demonstrated by his concern-trolling for Prof. Ford.  Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post:

Right-wing male politicians such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) have the audacity to declare that Ford has been victimized … by Democrats. (Maybe ask her?) Even if you thought that, why would anyone say such a stunningly condescending thing? Telling someone who has said she is the victim of a sexual assault whom she should and should not hold responsible for her pain represents a new low in Senate Republicans’ twisted exercise in blame-shifting.

This will leave a mark.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Reading

One Year In — Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker.

Living as we do, on what is—as hard as it may be to believe—the first anniversary of Donald Trump in power, we find ourselves caught in a quarrel between Trump optimists and Trump pessimists, and one proof of how right the Trump pessimists have been is that the kind of thing that the Trump optimists are now saying ought to make you optimistic. Basically, their argument amounts to the claim that the stock market remains up, the government isn’t suspended, and the President’s critics aren’t in internment camps. In the pages of The Economist, as in the columns of the Times, one frequently reads some form of this not-very-calming reassurance: Trump may be an enemy of republican government, and a friend to tyrants, while alienating our oldest friends in fellow-democracies, but while he may want to be a tyrant, he isn’t very good at being one. This is the Ralph Kramden account of Trumpism: he blusters and threatens and shakes and rages, but Alice, like the American people, just stands there and shrugs him off sardonically.

Those in the Trump-pessimist camp are inclined to point out not only that the final score is not in yet but that the game has only just started. In real life, as opposed to fifties sitcoms, the Ralph Kramdens tend to act on their instincts. Trump’s Justice Department has already reopened an investigation of his political opponent, after he loudly demanded it—itself a chilling abuse of power. And if, as seems probable, Trump tries to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel on the Russia investigation, we will be in the midst of a crisis of extreme dimensions.

But, even in the absence of overt criminality, Trump pessimists may also point to how degraded our discourse has already become—how the processes variously called “normalization” or “acceptance” or just “silent stunned disbelief” go on. We know that Trump fired James Comey, the F.B.I. director, because he wanted him to stop investigating contacts between members of Trump’s campaign and Russia—and Trump announced this fact in public, despite having had subordinates come up with more plausible-sounding rationales for him to cling to. And surely no one can doubt that, had Hillary Clinton become President and, say, a meeting had then been discovered to have taken place between members of her campaign and a mysterious visitor from an autocratic foreign power offering information designed to subvert democracy, with an accompanying e-mail from Chelsea Clinton saying “Love it!,” we would now be in the midst of Clinton’s impeachment hearings, with the supposedly liberal press defending her faintly, if at all.

Meanwhile, the insults to democratic practice continue. In any previous Administration, reports that the resident of the White House had paid off a porn star to be silent about an alleged affair would be a defining—and, probably, Presidency-ending—scandal. With Trump, Stormy Daniels hardly registers at all as a figure, so dense and thick on the ground are the outrages and the indignities, so already bizarre is the cast of characters. (It’s as if we have been watching some newly discovered season of “The Sopranos,” what with the Mooch and Sloppy Steve. Who now can even quite recall poor Sean Spicer?)

Worse still, in a sense, is the degradation of memory that this circus enforces. Not long ago, Bret Stephens, who left the Wall Street Journal for the Times and has been an admirable mainstay of the anti-Trumpist movement among conservatives, wrote a touching piece about his father, and the decency of the values that he exemplified, especially when it came to the treatment of women, in the workplace and outside it. “Our culture could sorely use a common set of ideas about male decorum and restraint in the 21st century, along with role models for those ideas,” Stephens wrote. “Who, in the age of Trump, is teaching boys why not to grope—even when they can, even when ‘you can do anything’?” But nowhere did Stephens acknowledge that, less than a year ago, America did have, in President Barack Obama, a near-perfect model of male decorum and restraint, who in his own behavior and words taught boys how to be men who honored and respected women.

The point is not that what Obama did was necessarily always admirable, but that amnesia about even the very recent past has become essential to the most decent conservative politics; only by making the national emergency general and cross-party can it be fully shared rather than, as it should be, localized to the crisis of one party and its ideology. In plain English, it becomes necessary to spread the smell around so that everyone gets some of the stink on them. This is why we have to read so much undue hand-wringing about our national crisis in civic values and family piety rather than recognize the abandonment of republican values that began when the mainstays of the conservative party decided to embrace Trump instead of—as their French equivalents had done, when confronted with the same choice between an authoritarian nationalist and a moderate centrist —reject him. It is always appealing rhetorically to insist that all of us are at fault. We’re not. The attempts to pretend that the Trump era is part of some national, or even planetary, crisis, stretching out from one end of the political spectrum to the other, obscures the more potent reality. Had Mitt Romney and the Bushes not merely protested, or grumbled in private, about Trump but openly endorsed Hillary Clinton as the necessary alternative to the unacceptable, we might be living in a different country. For that matter, if, during the past year, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell had summoned patriotism in the face of multiple threats to the norms of democratic conduct, then we might not be in this mess. They didn’t, and we are.

Needless to say, the degradation of public discourse, the acceleration of grotesque lying, the legitimization of hatred and name-calling, are hard to imagine vanishing like the winter snows that Trump thinks climate change is supposed to prevent. The belief that somehow all these things will somehow just go away in a few years’ time does seem not merely unduly optimistic but crazily so. In any case, the trouble isn’t just what the Trumpists may yet do; it is what they are doing now. American history has already been altered by their actions—institutions emptied out, historical continuities destroyed, traditions of decency savaged—in ways that will not be easy to rehabilitate.

And yet there are grounds for optimism. Institutions may crumble, but more might yet be saved. Restoration may be no more than two good elections and a few steady leaders away, as long as the foundational institutions of democracy—really, no more than fair voting and counting, but no less than those, either—remain in place. Political results are far more often contingent than overdetermined, much more to do with accident and personality than with irresistible tides of history. This is what makes them controllable. After all, not long ago a rational woman won the popular vote for President, rather easily, and only a bad electoral system prevented her from taking office. Part of the power of tyrants and would-be tyrants is to paralyze our self-confidence. The famous underground societies of the Eastern European countries, built under Soviet tyranny, were exercises not in heroism but in normalcy: we like this music, this food, these books, and no one can tell us what to think about them. What has happened is worse than we want to pretend. But it happened for highly specific and contingent causes, and the means of remedying them have not yet passed.

Meanwhile, our primary obligation may be simply not to blind ourselves to the facts, or to compromise our values in a desperate desire to embrace our fellow-citizens. Any anti-Trumpist movement must consist of the broadest imaginable coalition, but it cannot pretend that what we are having is a normal national debate. The reason people object, for instance, to the Times running a full page of Trump-defending letters is not that they want to cut off or stifle that debate; it is because the implication that Trumpism is a controversial but acceptable expression of American values within that debate is in itself a betrayal of those values. Liberal democracy is good. Authoritarian nationalism is bad. That’s the premise of the country. It’s the principle that a lot of people died for. Americans never need to apologize for the continuing absolutism of their belief in it.

One Year After the March — Lena Felton in The Atlantic.

More than 100,000 protesters showed up on a warm, sunny day in New York to celebrate the anniversary of the Women’s March protests that followed Donald Trump’s inauguration as president last year. But in contrast with last year’s events, this year’s gathering was optimistic, almost celebratory. The pink pussy cat hats were out; so were the signs (“A Women’s Place Is in the Revolution,” “Grab ‘Em By the Putin,” “Shed Walls, Don’t Build Them”). Couples danced to a brassy tunes floating from somewhere down the block.

Last year, more than 400,000 protesters clogged Fifth Avenue and descended upon Trump Tower, according to the Mayor’s Office. That event was just one of the hundreds that comprised one of the largest single days of protest in U.S. history, with more than 3 million people estimated to have participated, according to crowd-size experts. No matter that the Women’s March on Washington, the original event, was borne from a single Facebook post and organized entirely ad-hoc. People then were coming together for one reason: to protest the election of Donald Trump. This year, more than 300 towns and cities across the U.S. have registered for events.

The president, for his part, needled the protesters with a tweet.

“Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March,” President Trump tweeted. “Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!”

But for the protesters, these Women’s Marches aren’t just about opposing the president; for many, they’re about joining in a moment of cultural upheaval around issues of sexual abuse. When I spoke with Winnie Whitted, who attended the march in Austin, Texas, last year, she put it like this: “I think that #MeToo is the reason why women are coming together this year. This is now really a women’s march.”

The #MeToo movement, which was sparked by the revelation of multiple rape and sexual harassment allegations against the powerful Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, continues to be a central part of the national debate over sexual abuse.

Since Weinstein’s downfall, many other prominent figures in media and entertainment have faced allegations of sexual abuse and harassment as women across those industries have spoken up about their experiences. It’s no surprise, then, that #MeToo and #TimesUp signs featured prominently amongst the anti-Trump ones at the march. One protester, Kirsten Herman, was holding a large black one above her head when I spoke with her. She didn’t come to last year’s march, because she “has lots” of crowd anxiety. “But I knew I had to come this year,” she said. Harassment “is such a universal thing that women have to go through all the time, and we’re done with it.”

I asked Sarah Sibilly, who marched last year, what had changed from last year to this year. “Definitely more men,” she said. “They’re probably here in solidarity more than anything.”

Daniel Robinson was one of those men. He didn’t participate last year, but said that #MeToo was the galvanizing factor this time around. “I didn’t necessarily recognize [the issue of sexual harassment] to the same degree,” he told me. “But there’s a lot more understanding of what’s going on, and realizing the importance of it really brings everyone to the forefront.”

Cindy Brummer brought her husband, Bob, along with her to the march, which neither of them attended last year. Trump “brings out the feminist” in her, she told me. She thought she had seen the end of the fight for women’s rights in the seventies, but looking at the younger generation now, she says, makes it clear that the fight is far from over.

Others I spoke with cited the nation’s current sexual-harassment reckoning as an even greater reason to protest the president, whom 19 women have accused of sexual assault. Whitted called it “crazy” that men in Hollywood, the media, and politics were getting fired while “this guy is still in office.”

Where last year’s marches were simply a rejection of Trump, this year’s events were electorally focused. The Women’s March on Washington anniversary event planned for Sunday in Las Vegas, Nevada, is being billed as “Power to the Polls” and aims to get people to register and vote ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Virtually everyone I spoke with said Democratic success in the midterms is their biggest political goal in the coming year, and see the march as a good starting point to start encouraging people to show up to polls.

Following last year’s marches, my colleague Conor Friedersdorf wrote, “The political future depends on where Trump opponents focus their energy and whether they are adept at expanding their coalition.” This year did indeed see more women than ever before sign up to run for office, and a record 28 women were elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates in the November 2017 elections. New public-opinion research conducted by SurveyMonkey also shows that Trump is losing ground amongst women—regardless of race or class—who previously supported him, a trend which will likely be consequential in the 2018 congressional midterms if it holds up.

The crucial work for the marchers still lies ahead; it’s unclear if the momentum will hold. But protesters were still hopeful: “Here we are a year later, doing it again,” one marcher, Emma Saltzberg, said. “It shows we’re here to fight and we’ll push for people to vote. You have to if you want to see change in the future.”

Charles P. Pierce:

In other political news, the Charleston City Paper informs us that Stormy Daniels is visiting a strip club in Greenville tonight:

The club is promoting the event as part of Daniels’ “Making America Horny Again Tour” days after the Wall Street Journal reported that candidate Donald Trump paid her $130,000 through a shell company one month before the 2016 election to cover up an alleged 2006 affair. Daniels is said to have signed a non-disclosure agreement as part of the alleged payoff, but years earlier she reportedly spilled all the salacious details to InTouch Magazine about having sex with the future president…”He saw her live. You can too,” reads one poster for the event posted on The Trophy Club’s Facebook page, referring to President Donald Trump’s alleged sexual encounter with the porn star. A YouTube video promoted by the club says “The Twitter Storm Sensation” is visiting for a “one-night performance.”

The first day of the government shutdown is also the anniversary of the inauguration of the president*, and if that doesn’t convince you that a Higher Power is running things, and that the Higher Power has a sense of humor best described as perverse, I don’t know what to tell you. A year ago, he stood before an embarrassingly small crowd on the steps of the Capitol and gave the worst inaugural address in American history, even worse than the one that actually killed William Henry Harrison. A year ago Sunday, he sent his press secretary out to lie about the size of the crowd, and we were pretty much off to a year of actual American carnage.

The most striking thing about the extended burlesque in the Senate as Friday night became Saturday morning was the almost complete lack of urgency in the chamber. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, now presiding over his second government shutdown, held the cloture vote on the House’s continuing resolution open for hours after it had clearly failed, and in a resoundingly bipartisan manner.

As minutes became hours, ad hoc bipartisan groups of senators—Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake, Maggie Hassan and Elizabeth Warren?—gathered and dispersed, like small flocks of birds, but there was no real sense that a real emergency was going on around them. There was an endless trail of rumored deals—A two-week CR? Three weeks? Pledges to deal with the Dreamer kids later?—and an equally endless train of broken promises.

“The bottom line is that time only matters if there’s will,” said Lindsey Graham, as he briefly held out hope for a three-week funding compromise that he was pushing. “I may live to eat these words, but the Congress is beginning to realize that the American people expect more of us. Between the soldier in the field and the DACA recipient, we have some real-world reasons to get our act together and grow up, I may be wrong, but I think we’re getting there.”

He was wrong. According to Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, the last real chance went a’glimmering on Friday when he spent a lot of time negotiating with the president*, and even offered a substantial concession regarding the president*’s stupid wall, only to have White House chief-of-staff John Kelly call him to tell him the framework under discussion was too liberal.

What became clear was that a) that there is a serious faction that wants the Dreamer kids out of the country, and that this faction includes Kelly, who apparently has been appointed President For Immigration Matters, xenophobic madman Stephen Miller, and Senator Tom Cotton, the bobble-throated slapdick from Arkansas, and b) that the president* himself has decided to decide by not deciding, and to lead by not leading, and that he believes the essence of being presidential is agreeing to deals that Kelly will talk him into reneging the first time he gets the president*’s ear.

Maybe gushing about a guy just because he once was a general wasn’t the best idea professional pundits ever had. Kelly’s tenure as Secretary of Homeland Security, during which he unleashed ICE to run amuck, should have hipped us all to that. As for the fact that the president* has abdicated his obligation to lead, and that his word in negotiations is not to be trusted, hell, everybody’s used to that by now. Which is probably why nobody seemed to be in any rush to get anything solved.

So, no deal was reached. Nothing happened. McConnell finally closed out the vote. And, as Saturday dawned, both Houses remained in session. The president*, or someone like him, got out the electric Twitter machine.

So the “DACA kids” are now “illegal immigrants,” and the guy who killed at least two deals in the past 10 days is complaining about how nobody wants to negotiate with him. His alleged former inamorata is doing a VIP show at a strip club not far from the godfearing campus of Bob Jones University And we have had a year of this now, a year in which we’ve all been living in what the nuns used to call, “the near occasions of sin.” Things are looking up!

Doonesbury — Worth a shot.

Monday, October 16, 2017

It Helps If You Were There

Ross Douthat is blaming Harvey Weinstein’s crimes on the 1970’s and Hugh Hefner.

The coarse worldview I’ve called “Hefnerism” endured, as the victims of Weinstein and Bill Clinton and Donald Trump can well attest. But while feminism struggled to restrain it, in the educated classes some restraint has been imposed. And the worldview you might call Polanski-ism, which winked at the use and abuse of teenagers, became disreputable and then generally condemned.

Moreover this relative-to-the-1970s restraint has held lately, at least provisionally, even as we’ve gone through an aftershock of that social revolution, in which religion has waned some more and permissiveness increasingly dominates opinion polls. Old-fashioned mores are not coming back — but neither, for now, is the wild erotic acting-out of the ’70s, their often-cruel dionysianism.

No, actually it started long before that — check with the women of Hollywood in the 1930’s — and it wasn’t just Hollywood and Hefner.  It was the updated macho bullshit culture that was a backlash against the rise of feminism of the 1960’s.  And it involved a lot of so called “family values” men and their enablers who hit back.

Ross Douthat was born in 1979, so his recollection of the time is based on purely what he’s read in the history books, which are still being written, or re-runs of “That ’70’s Show.”  Either way, it helps if you were actually there before using the collective “we.”

(For what it’s worth, I remember the ’70’s as being far more restrained and refined than the 1960’s.  But that’s just me.)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Out In The Open

I’m not at all surprised that Trump tweeted what he did about Mika Brzezinski; misogyny is as much a part of his character as his lying, the dye job and the skin bronzer.  It was an almost everyday occurrence during the campaign, and the tape on the bus with Billy Bush was no surprise.  Gross, boorish, vulgar, and childish, but no surprise.  And now that he’s in the White House, seeing it in full flower like we did yesterday just confirms it.

It was especially amusing in a sardonic way to see all the pearl-clutching by the Republicans on Capitol Hill as they did their Captain Renault routine of being shocked, shocked that Trump treats women that way.  But anyone who’s paid the slightest attention knew this was just another day on Twitter for him.

As Michelle Goldberg notes in Slate, it’s actually a good thing that he’s out in the open about it.

I’m not sure that even well-intentioned men understand how relentlessly degrading this presidency is for many women. Having a man who does not recognize the humanity of more than half the population in a position of such power is a daily insult; it never really goes away. Perhaps this is why many women found the TV version of The Handmaid’s Tale so resonant, even though Trump, the former owner of a casino strip club, is the last person one can imagine instituting a Calvinist theocracy. Gilead’s fictional dystopia captures our constant incredulous horror at finding ourselves ruled by thuggish, unaccountable woman-haters who appear to revel in their own impunity.

If there is the barest sliver of consolation, it’s that Trump appears almost as miserable and anxiety-ridden as we are. He’s losing the tiny bit of control he had. It’s better for Trump to show us all who he really is than to let his lackeys pretend he’s remotely worthy of his office. Every time he tweets, he reveals his presidency as a disgusting farce. Let’s hope he keeps doing it.

My one fear is that this farce will become the new normal; that instead of being reviled by it, some will say that it’s refreshing that we no longer have to worry about being “politically correct” and that if the president can be a total dick, then so can anyone… if you’re twelve.

If that is the case, then we owe it not just to women but to civilization to fight back, to make it unacceptable, and to remind the sycophants who think it’s perfectly okay to degrade women now that they were the same ones who were incensed and outraged by the behavior of Bill Clinton and who plastered the airwaves with “character counts” and wailed about “what do we tell the children?”

It took a grand jury and leaked surreptitious wiretaps to reveal Clinton’s bad behavior.  This toad brags about it.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Reading

Happy Mother’s Day — Brandon E. Patterson in Mother Jones reports that Black Lives Matter is bailing out women for Mother’s Day.

Black Lives Matter has a big gift for some moms this Mother’s Day—their freedom. Groups affiliated with the police and criminal justice reform movement have been bailing black women out of jail ahead of the holiday on Sunday. The nationwide effort, dubbed National Black Mamas Bail Out Day, seeks to reunite the women with their families and raise awareness of the disparate impact of incarceration and the bail system on black women.

So far, more than 50 women around the country have been bailed out by the Mother’s Day effort. Organizing groups in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, Oakland, and 13 other cities, have been raising money through an online fundraising campaign. So far, they have brought in nearly $500,000 for the campaign, with $25,000 set aside for use in each city. The average bail paid off has varied widely; organizers in Atlanta bailed out 19 women with their pot of money, whereas 4 women have been bailed out in Oakland.

Activists have also raised money individually as well. Members of the Atlanta chapter of Southerners on New Ground (SONG), an LGBT-focused racial justice group, canvassed neighborhoods and collected small donations in a hat, according to Mary Hooks, an organizer with the chapter who came up with the idea for the nationwide initiative. “Black people have a tradition of using our collective resources to buy each other’s freedom,” she says, referring to the slavery-era practice of free black people saving money to purchase the freedom of their enslaved family members and friends. “We have an opportunity to do that when we understand how the cash bail system works. The sooner we can get folks out, the ability for them to mitigate their cases increases and the less collateral damage they are likely to incur.”

The organizers have drawn on their existing relationships with other criminal justice organizations to identify women to bail out of jail. In Oakland, the public defender’s office sent organizers names of women in jail, says Gina Clayton, an organizer with Essie Justice Group. Essie Justice organizers also sat in on arraignment hearings to identify women who would need to be bailed out. One of the people bailed out in Oakland was a mother of two who was jailed on a $10,000 bail about a week earlier, Clayton says. When organizers visited the woman to tell her they were paying her bail, she cried. Organizers with the Oakland office of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, an immigrants’ rights group that focuses on black migrants, bailed out a Haitian woman who had been held in a detention facility in Southern California. The woman had fled domestic abuse in her home country, according to Devonte Jackson, an organizer with the group. BAJI bought the woman a bus ticket to Florida so she could visit her family for Mother’s Day.

The term “mama,” as it’s used by the National Black Mamas Bail Out Day campaign, is broadly defined to include not just women with biological children, but all women—including trans women—who are linchpins for their families and neighborhoods. “It’s about knowing and naming that black women play such a critical role in our communities,” Hooks says.

The number of women behind bars in the United States has increased 700 percent since 1980, according to the Sentencing Project. More than 100,000 women are currently in jail. Many have not been convicted of anything but are unable to make bail, and a disproportionate number of them are black. Eighty percent of incarcerated women are mothers, according to the Vera Institute of Justice.

Nationally, the median bail set for a felony charge is $10,000, almost a year’s income for the average person unable to meet bail, according to the Sentencing Policy Initiative. Nearly 90 percent of inmates awaiting trial can’t afford bail; The average bail amount in felony cases has nearly tripled since 1990.

Bail reform is a key part of the national policy platform released last summer by the Movement for Black Lives, a broad coalition of groups affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Many of the groups bailing out women this week are also working on efforts to pass local and state legislation that would abolish cash bail in their jurisdictions. Earlier this year, New Orleans and New Jersey eliminated cash bail requirements for a range of low level offenses.

This weekend, organizers in some cities are holding events to welcome newly freed women back home. In Atlanta, organizers are hosting a picnic for the women and their families on Mother’s Day. Volunteers will help connect the women with resources for housing, employment, and legal assistance, Hooks says. The groups are also raising money for a possible bail-out effort to commemorate Father’s Day on June 18.

He Is What He Is — David Roberts in Vox on the tendency to overanalyze Trump.

We are not accustomed to having someone so obviously disordered in a position of such power. Trump is surrounded by people — not only members of his administration but Congress, the press, pundits, conservative ideological groups, industry lobbyists — eager to invent stories to make sense of his behavior.

Politicos and journalists need a story in which Trump’s stumbling and grasping can be construed as a savvy media strategy, a “distraction” from some other wrongdoing he has going on, or a “pivot” from his current omnishambles. Those are all versions of political maneuvering with which they are familiar. They need for Trump to want things, to be after things, to have a plan.

Politicians, journalists, analysts, the public — everyone wants some kind of story, some Theory of Trump. And so Trump surrogates try to provide it, scrambling to weave a coherent narrative around his careening, erratic lies.

But there’s no there there. He’s lunging this way and that, situation by situation. Firing Comey? Trump just got mad. He wanted Comey and the Russia investigation off his TV. There’s no deeper story than that.

This is an utterly terrifying conclusion. A Machiavellian Trump — one who was merely acting the fool, manipulating the public and media in service of some diabolical long-term agenda — is less frightening than a purely narcissistic and impulsive one.

No agenda guides him, no past commitments or statements restrain him, so no one, not even his closest allies (much less the American public or foreign governments) can trust him, even for a second. He will do what makes him feel dominant and respected, in the moment, with no consideration of anything else, not because he has chosen to reject other considerations, but because he is, by all appearances, incapable of considering them.

This makes him, as many others have noted, extremely vulnerable to being manipulated by whoever happens to talk to him last, whoever butters him up and makes him feel important. (And that includes the TV.)

It’s one thing when that involves a wild Twitter accusation or the firing of a staff member. All Trump’s crises so far have been internal and self-inflicted, more or less.

But what will happen when he gets into a confrontation with North Korea, when Kim Jong Un deliberately provokes him? Will his response be considered and strategic? Will he be able to get information and aid from allies? Will he be able to make and keep commitments during negotiations?

There’s no sign of hope for any of that.

More likely he will prove, as he has in literally every confrontation of the past several years, congenitally unable to back down or deescalate, even if doing so is clearly in everyone’s best interests.

More likely he will be desperate to maintain face and will listen to whatever his security staff whispers in his ear.

More likely he will make rash and fateful decisions with insufficient consultation and no clear plan.

That’s who he is: a disregulated bundle of impulses, being manipulated by a cast of crooks and incompetents, supported by a Republican Party willing to bet the stability of the country against upper-income tax cuts. We need to stop looking for a more complicated story.

Expletive Not Deleted — Alan Burdick in The New Yorker on why swearing is good for you.

By several accounts, Donald Trump has spent a decent amount of time in recent weeks screaming at his television. Almost certainly he’s been swearing at it; what else do you scream at your television but expletives? Besides, the President doesn’t often censor himself, even in public. On the campaign trail, he vowed to “bomb the shit out of ISIS,” suggested that U.S. companies that move their operations overseas should “go fuck themselves,” and proposed to begin trade negotiations with China by saying, “Listen, you motherfuckers.” As he told the audience at February’s National Prayer Breakfast, “The hell with it.”

Melissa Mohr, the author of “Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing,” has noted that cursing can be a handy rhetorical strategy: it’s common parlance, so employing it makes Trump seem more like a man of the people. But perhaps the President has also been reading about the analgesic benefits of profanity. In 2009, Richard Stephens, a psychologist at Keele University, in England, asked a group of volunteers to plunge one hand into a bucket of ice-cold water and keep it there for as long as they could. Sometimes Stephens instructed them to repeat an expletive of their choice—one that “they might use if they banged their head or hit their thumb with a hammer,” according to an article he wrote about the study. Other times he had them repeat a neutral word, like “wooden” or “brown.” With few exceptions, the volunteers could hold their hand in the water for longer when they cursed—about forty seconds longer, on average.

Swearing, Stephens thinks, may be a form of pain management, maybe even empowerment. Last week, he and a colleague, David K. Spierer, of Long Island University, described a new study in which swearing seemed to bolster physical strength. One group of volunteers pedalled an exercise bike for thirty seconds against intense resistance; sometimes they repeated a curse word, and other times they repeated a neutral word. “It’s a hugely difficult task,” Stephens told me. “Your heart rate goes through the roof.” A second group was challenged with a hand dynamometer, which measures grip strength. Swearing improved the performance on both tasks—between two and four per cent for the cyclists, and eight per cent for the squeezers.

It’s perhaps not so surprising that profanity has these occult powers, since it differs from the rest of language in a number of ways. For one thing, as Benjamin K. Bergen, a cognitive scientist at U.C. San Diego and the author of “What the F,” has pointed out, vulgarity bends the usual rules of grammar. For instance, the common expression “Fuck you!” is the rare sentence in which the verb has no subject. It’s not like “Curse you!” in which the “I” is understood; who’s fucking you in this case? The expression isn’t even a proper imperative. (That would be “Fuck yourself.”) Or consider the sentence “There’s too much work in this fucking class.” Is “fucking” an adjective? An adverb?

Swears are also unique in their effect on the human body. In 2011, researchers at the University of Bristol found that saying aloud the words “fuck” and “cunt” (but not the words “glue” and “dumb”) prompted a silent emotional reaction from the people who said them, detectable as an increase in the conductivity of their skin. One leading idea about swearing is that it is the fundamental language of emotion, and it seems to be generated by the parts of the brain from which emotions arise.

Indeed, sometimes, when the rest of language is stripped away, profanity is all that’s left. One of the earliest studied cases of aphasia, from 1843, involved a French parish priest who had suffered a stroke. He could say just two words: je (“I”) and foutre (“fuck”). In a similar case from the nineteen-nineties, a patient known as R.N. was left with a vocabulary of six words: “well,” “yeah,” “yes,” “no,” “shit,” and “goddammit.” Language is assembled in different parts of the brain, but obscenities seem to occupy a bin of their own; so long as neurological damage is limited to the regions governing intentional speech, the obscenity bin stays intact. In “What the F,” Bergen describes the case of a patient, E.C., who had the entire left half of his brain removed. In the process, he lost most, but not all, of his language abilities. He would open his mouth, say a few words, struggle to string them together, and then, with a burst of emotion, clearly express a series of expletives, including “goddammit.” “You don’t need your left hemisphere to talk as long as you’re swearing in frustration,” Bergen writes.

Stephens took an interest in swearing a dozen years ago, while his wife was giving birth in the hospital. The labor was prolonged—more than twenty hours—and her swearing was profuse. Afterward, she was “a bit embarrassed,” Richards said; she apologized to the midwives and doctors, but they kindly brushed it off. “‘They said, ‘We hear this all the time. This is a completely normal part of giving birth.’ That made me start thinking about swearing and pain. People instinctively swear when they hurt themselves. They must do it for a reason.”

Stephens’s first major study on the subject was the 2009 ice-bucket challenge. In the course of it, he found that the heart rates of the volunteers who swore went up relative to those who didn’t—an indication that swearing had indeed engaged the parts of the brain involved in emotion. Notably, the volunteers weren’t shouting the curse word but were merely repeating it, without affect. The physical effect seemed to result from the word itself, not from the manner in which it was expressed.

Next, Stephens turned the logic around: if swearing increases one’s tolerance for pain, and if swearing is ultimately emotional language, then making volunteers emotional should increase their pain tolerance. To test this idea, Stephens had one group of subjects play a first-person-shooter video game—Medal of Honor—for ten minutes and a second group play Tiger Woods P.G.A. Tour 2007. Afterward, the Medal of Honor players reported feeling more aggressive; when Stephens submitted them to the ice-bucket challenge, they could withstand it longer than the golfers could. In January, Stephens and his colleagues published a related study showing that Medal of Honor players also did better on what’s called a swearing fluency test: they could list more swear words in a minute than they could after playing the golf game. (All told, the test subjects came up with sixty swear words, although the paper notes that nineteen of them—including “feck,” “fuckaroo,” “asstaxi,” “wanko,” and “penis”—were “deemed not to be a recognized linguistic form of swear word.”)

Both studies were consistent with Stephens’s theory that swearing eases pain by triggering aggressive emotions, much in the way that the mere act of smiling can make a person feel happier. The aggression, in turn, triggers a fight-or-flight stress response, releasing adrenaline, which is known to increase physical performance. But his latest study, involving handgrips and stationary bicycles, complicates that story somewhat. In previous physical-challenge experiments, volunteers who swore had higher heart rates than those who didn’t—telltale signs of the fight-or-flight response. In the recent study, however, they didn’t. “Our latest findings are an effect but without an explanation for it,” Stephens said. There are at least two possibilities, he added. One is that swearing aloud may distract people from their pain, enabling them to better tolerate it. Or “it could be that swearing brings about a general disinhibition,” he said. “People feel less uptight when they’ve been swearing, and that lets them go for it a little bit more.”

Either way, Stephens said, the profanities traditionally considered most vulgar are losing their power to shock. Even the Democrats are trying to capitalize on the trend. Bernie Sanders has publicly denounced the President’s “shitty budget.” Politicorecently highlighted a New York magazine profile of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that “included one ‘fuck,’ two ‘fucking’s, one ‘bullshit,’ one ‘pissed off,’ one ‘they suck,’ and a ‘what the hell is going on?’ ” In April, with children standing behind him, Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told a crowd that Trump “doesn’t give a shit about health care.” (For thirty dollars, the D.N.C. is also selling a T-shirt that reads, “We give a shit about people.”) Feigning offense, Fox News has complained that Democrats want to “make using profanity a new normal.”

Will profanity lose its pain-relieving magic along the way? At one point in his research, Stephens found that people who swore more in the course of an average day didn’t gain as much of an edge in the ice-bucket challenge, but he’s since had trouble replicating that finding. Odds are, though, that if profanity begins to fail us, we’ll find a way to upgrade it. “We’re getting to the point where the four-letter words are diminishing very much in their meaning,” Stephens said. “But there will always be new taboo words and phrases. We might be in a kind of plateau at the moment, before new oaths and profanities and whatever come along. But they will.”

 Doonesbury — No clue.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Going After Women

After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used a rule dating back to the time when discussing abolition was forbidden on the floor of the Senate to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a number of senators, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, got up and read the same letter that got Ms. Warren banished from speaking.  Why weren’t they silenced?  Because they are men.

Institutional misogyny is so ingrained in the fiber of American culture that people of every stripe often fail to see in such attacks on women leaders the particular markers of that disease. But in our hearts, women know. Elizabeth Warren was effectively told, in the words of Politico’s Seung Min Kim, to “sit down—and shut up.” Any domestic violence expert will tell you that those are the sort of words that often precede the connection of a male fist to a female face.

Never mind that Warren wasn’t reading the King letter to comment on Sessions’s motives or conduct in his role as U.S. senator; she was speaking against his nomination to one of the most important jobs in the executive branch—a job that is, among other things, charged with enforcement of the citizens’ franchise of the vote. Never mind that King’s letter spoke directly to that concern. Never mind that over the course of the last two years, as The New York Times reports, both Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas appear to have violated the rule according to its true intent, without having it invoked against them. Cruz’s 2015 impugning of a fellow senator’s conduct motives was a critique of McConnell himself, described by Cruz as a liar. They’re men, and white men at that (and Republican).

Senate Republicans may not all love Donald Trump, but a significant aspect of their agenda dovetails nicely with Trump’s base-stoking, and that is the revival of a white male patriarchy that sees itself as threatened by a multicultural population and the changing roles of women in society. Trump’s courtship of the religious right speaks to this, as does his chief strategist’s courtship of white nationalists and supremacists, whose ideological misogyny is often overlooked.

Make no mistake: McConnell’s bullying of Elizabeth Warren for reading the words of Coretta Scott King was intended to convey to women—white, black, and of every other color and identity—just who’s boss.

I am very glad that Senate Democrats rose to fill in for Ms. Warren, and perhaps if there wasn’t institutional misogyny in American politics no one would have noticed what she read on the floor of the Senate except for the watchers of C-SPAN.  But in doing so, one might hope that shining this glaring light on the He-Man Woman-Haters Club might actually do some good.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Just For Men

President Obama addresses the guys.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on men to “look inside” themselves and think about bias if they have any doubt about voting for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“To the guys out there, I want to be honest,” Obama told a crowd in Columbus, Ohio, at a Clinton campaign event. “You know, there’s a reason we haven’t had a woman president before.”

He asked male voters to think about their potential biases against Clinton, who would be the first female president in U.S. history.

“I want every man out there who’s voting to kinda look inside yourself and ask yourself, if you’re having problems with this stuff, how much of it is that we’re just not used to it?” he said. “When a guy is ambitious and out in the public arena and working hard, well that’s okay. But when a woman suddenly does it, suddenly you’re all like, well, why’s she doing that?”

Obama went on to praise Clinton. “She is so much better qualified than the other guy,” he said, referring to GOP nominee Donald Trump. “She has conducted herself so much better in public life than the other guy.”

Obama blasted Trump for his disrespectful treatment of women and said the behavior would continue should he be elected president.

“The only thing this office does is it amplifies who you are. It magnifies who you are,” he said. “If you disrespected women before you were elected, you will disrespect women once you’re president.”

I have no delusion that when we have a woman in the Oval Office that all of a sudden this kind of behavior will come to an end, just as racism didn’t end in America when Barack Obama became president.  In some ways, it got worse, and I’m not just talking about the crap on the internet with cartoons; look at how the Republicans in Congress reacted and tell me that subliminal racism wasn’t behind it.

I don’t expect the sexism and the misogyny brought to the surface by Donald Trump to go away, either.  But there are a lot more women in this country who are not going to let the men get away with it.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Leading While Female

Jocelyn Davis in the Santa Fe New Mexican:

You know the acronym DWB: Driving While Black. It’s code for how African-Americans are pulled over by police more often than whites for minor infractions — driving slightly over the speed limit, busted taillight — or sometimes for no reason at all. Yesterday, as I scrolled through a batch of anti-Hillary comments on Facebook, a similar acronym came to mind. LWF: Leading While Female.

Hillary Clinton (we are told) has a trust issue. There are (we hear) many voters who can’t stomach Donald Trump but who also aren’t comfortable with Hillary Clinton because (they argue) she’s untrustworthy. After all (they say), look at how she’s behaved: the scheming, the favors, the hostility toward adversaries, the coziness with bankers. Look, says Gen. Colin Powell in a leaked email, at her “unbridled ambition.” Thanks, Gen. Powell, for making the double standard so obvious.

See, Hillary has kicked butt her entire life. Whatever you think of her policies or party, you cannot deny that she is an incredibly successful political leader. Her peers are almost entirely men. And the men are judged very differently.

Here are four of Hillary’s LWF infractions. In my view, she’s guilty as charged. But the guys are just as guilty, and they aren’t getting pulled over; instead, the crowd is applauding as they speed on by.

Playing close to the line. When a successful woman bends the rules or beats the rap, she’s a liar and cheater who belongs behind bars. A Republican friend of mine said about Hillary, “She did what she did” — by which he meant he wasn’t going to excuse her for “what she did” even if decades of investigations have turned up nothing indictable. When a successful man walks that line, however, he’s a bold wheeler-dealer who knows how to work the system. “Wow, he pushes the envelope,” we say.

Trading in secrets. A woman who shares confidential information is either Lucrezia Borgia or a blabbermouth. If it’s intentional, she’s catty, conniving, possibly a traitor. If it’s unintentional, she’s shockingly careless. But a male secrets-trader knows information is power. He’s a smart networker, a valuable mentor who tells you the lay of the land. And if the spills are egregious, on a David Petraeus level, well, the poor guy was led astray by (you guessed it) a conniving woman. Tsk tsk.

Favoring allies and squashing adversaries. A woman who grants access and favors to her supporters is corrupt. That’s pay for play. Whoredom. As for a female chief who punishes disloyalty or eliminates her enemies — that’s just plain evil. The man who does all of the above? He’s a savvy player, a relationship-builder who isn’t afraid to mix it up.

Aiming for high position. A woman who works hard for professional success is a greedy, power-hungry climber. How can we trust her when she so clearly wants that top spot? But a man who rises to the top is talented, driven, a superstar with big dreams and goals. Colin Powell surely didn’t stumble, whoopsy daisy, into his positions as four-star general, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state. Yet no one has ever accused him of “unbridled ambition.”

If you truly hate Clinton’s policies, go ahead and vote for someone else. But if you’re willing to risk a President Donald Trump simply because a brilliant woman has outplayed a lot of men at their own game, think carefully about that double standard.

Me, I’ll be voting for the notorious HRC and her wheeling-dealing, take-no-prisoners, no-you-smile blonde ambition. She’s guilty as charged — of LWF.

Brilliant.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Woman Card

Larry Womack in Huffington Post on the real reason a lot of people don’t like Hillary Clinton.  [Spoiler alert: it’s bullshit.]

It’s time to stop pretending that this is about substance. This is about an eagerness to believe that a woman who seeks power will say or do anything to get it. This is about a Lady MacBeth stereotype that, frankly, should never have existed in the first place. This is about the one thing no one wants to admit it’s about.

Consider, for a moment, two people. One, as a young woman at the beginning of a promising legal career, went door to door searching for ways to guarantee an education to the countless disabled and disadvantaged children who had fallen through the cracks. The other, as a young millionaire, exacted revenge on his recently deceased brother’s family by cutting off the medical insurance desperately needed by his nephew’s newborn son, who at eighteen months of age was suffering from violent seizures brought on by a rare neurological disorder.

What kind of a society treats these two people as equal in any way? What kind of society even considers the latter over the former for its highest office?

Generations from now, people will shake their heads at this moment in time, when the first female major party presidential nominee—competent, qualified and more thoroughly vetted than any non-incumbent candidate in history—endured the humiliation of being likened to such an obvious grifter, ignoramus and hate monger.

We deserve the shame that we will bear.

The majority of people in this country are women.  They live longer than men.  They often times are raising families on their own.  Why do I even have to post an article like this?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Looks Like A Losing Issue

Donald Trump sure has a way with women.

Hillary Clinton just doesn’t have the “look” necessary to be president, Donald Trump said in an interview on Tuesday.

ABC News’ David Muir asked Trump what he meant by questioning the first female major party nominee’s “stamina” and saying she doesn’t look presidential.

“I just don’t think she has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look,” Trump replied. “You have to get the job done. I think if she went to Mexico she would have had a total failure. We had a big success.”

Y’know, we could get into this discussion about what a woman should look like to be presidential, but it’s just not worth wasting precious pixels.  So let’s just leave that turd right there, shall we?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Bitch Of A Time

Michelle Cottle in The Atlantic warns of what’s to come if Hillary Clinton wins in November.  It has nothing to do with economics, foreign policy, or appointments to the Supreme Court.

A Clinton victory also promises to usher in four-to-eight years of the kind of down-and-dirty public misogyny you might expect from a stag party at Roger Ailes’s house.

You know it’s coming. As hyperpartisanship, grievance politics, and garden-variety rage shift from America’s first black commander-in-chief onto its first female one, so too will the focus of political bigotry. Some of it will be driven by genuine gender grievance or discomfort among some at being led by a woman. But in plenty of other cases, slamming Hillary as a bitch, a c**t (Thanks, Scott Baio!), or a menopausal nut-job (an enduringly popular theme on Twitter) will simply be an easy-peasy shortcut for dismissing her and delegitimizing her presidency.

Either way, it’ll be best to brace for some in-your-face sexist drivel in the coming years. Despite progress in the business world, women as top executives still prompt an extra shot of public scrutiny. (Just ask Marissa Mayer or Sheryl Sandberg or Carly Fiorina.) And just as Barack Obama’s election did not herald a shiny, new post-racial America, Clinton’s would not deliver one of gender equality and enlightenment. So goes progress: Two steps forward, one step back(lash). As the culture changes, people resent that change and start freaking out, others look to exploit their fear, and things can turn really, really nasty on their way to getting better.

Ms. Clinton has already had a head start of about twenty-five years of setting this up; she’s been vilified by the right-wing noise machine — which includes a number of women — since before her husband was sworn in, so it’s not going to be pretty.

As the article points out, going after Ms. Clinton based on her gender is the lazy way out of an argument: if you can’t win on substance, you attack on a personal level.  It’s juvenile, but as Rush Limbaugh and any number of like-minded bumper stickers can attest, it’s good for a deflection.

The only difference between the treatment Barack Obama got and Hillary Clinton will face is that women make up a majority of Americans, so for every knuckle-dragger who goes down the Bitch Road, there will be a wife, mother, daughter, sister, or co-worker who will remind him that men haven’t done such a bang-up job and to STFU.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Reading

Mike Pence vs. Women — Joan Walsh in The Nation on Trump’s VP pick.

It looks like Donald Trump blinked.

After a 13-month battle with the Republican establishment in which he won most every skirmish, Trump appears to be acting responsibly, as his campaign confirmed the news that he’d chosen mild-mannered Indiana Governor Mike Pence to be his vice-presidential nominee. It was hard to believe that was Trump’s first choice. There had been lots of reporting that he wanted Newt Gingrich (why not, God, why not?) and, despite New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s legal baggage (plus Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s mortal grudge against Christie for sending his father to jail), it seemed like Trump found in Christie a kindred soul/bully as well. But he was by most accounts scheduled to introduce the white-haired establishment favorite, Mike Pence, at an event in Trump Tower on Friday.

Then came the horrific attack in Nice, France, and late Thursday Trump announced he would postpone his VP announcement, presumably out of respect for the victims. (By the way, the Tour de France went on.) Then he said he’d take the weekend to continue mulling his choice, before tweeting official confirmation of his selection on Friday morning. If this is how Donald Trump makes decisions in real time, he is not looking terribly presidential.

Putting aside the drama of the past 24 hours, it’s worth looking closely at Pence, because he tells us a few things, too—about what counts as “establishment” in today’s GOP.

If Trump thinks he’s getting a running mate who can appeal to the center and swing voters, he’s wrong about that. Pence is so far right when it comes to women’s and LGBT issues, he makes Trump look like a Democrat. Frankly, he’s a smooth-talking Todd Akin.

In Congress, Pence co-sponsored a bill that would have redefined rape and limited federal funding for abortion to women who suffered “forcible rape”—what Akin famously described as “legitimate rape” when he doomed his 2012 Senate bill. Pence is also the guy who began the GOP’s ugly and so far unsuccessful crusade to defund Planned Parenthood, back in 2007. “He’s the only one I know of who has been so completely obsessed with Planned Parenthood,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said back then. “This just seems to be an enormous focus of his.” Of course, Pence got more company in the Tea Party Congress of 2011, and that year he threatened to shut down the government over continued Planned Parenthood funding.

Since becoming governor in 2013, Pence has signed various anti-abortion bills and succeeded in defunding Planned Parenthood in his state. That helped lead to a devastating resurgence of HIV/AIDS, since Planned Parenthood was one of a few providers of HIV testing in the state.

Unfortunately, there’s not much daylight between Trump and Pence on the issue of Planned Parenthood. Although daughter Ivanka reportedly got Trump to say nice things about the group’s women’s-health work earlier this year, both he and Pence have said that if Planned Parenthood wants to continue providing primary care for women, and crucial screenings for breast and cervical cancers, it should stop providing abortions.

“If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not be in the business of providing abortions,” Pence told a Vox reporter. “As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.” Sounds like Trump: “Millions of women have been helped by Planned Parenthood. But we’re not going to allow, and we’re not going to fund, as long as you have the abortion going on at Planned Parenthood, and we understand that and I’ve said it loud and clear.”

Also, Trump has promised to punish women for getting abortions (and then flip-flopped); Pence has actually done so. In Indianapolis, 30-year-old Purvi Patel was prosecuted for using the pills doctors prescribe for early pregnancy termination allegedly later in her term. Her conviction is being appealed.

Of course, Pence is probably best known nationally for supporting one of the nation’s toughest so-called “Religious Freedom” laws, and then backing down when big businesses from Apple to SalesForce to Angie’s List said they’d curtail commerce in his state. Pence says he “fixed” the law, but LGBT advocates don’t entirely buy it. Conservatives do, however, and they consider Pence a traitor for bowing to business.

Pence is an odd choice, for many reasons: He’s got low approval ratings in his home state and faces a tough reelection battle. He supports free trade and opposes Trump’s Muslim ban. The Indiana governor endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz just before the state’s crucial primary in May, but said wishy-washy nice things about Trump, too. When Trump crushed Cruz in Indiana, Pence got on the Trump train. He was ready to move up front and sit alongside the leader. But now he’s sitting in a New York hotel waiting for an announcement that may never come.

Reportedly, Trump was angered by the leaks about Pence on Thursday and believed they came from the Indiana camp. For a while on Thursday, Newt Gingrich apparently still thought he was in the race; he came out last night with a proposal to “deport” all Muslims from the United States if they won’t denounce Sharia law—perhaps to remind Trump that Pence opposes such restrictions on Muslims.

Of course, journalists hoped Trump would pick either the voluble Gingrich or the combative Christie, to make the race more fun. I don’t think Hillary Clinton much cares which of the men Trump chooses; they will all send women voters into the Democratic camp even faster than they’ve been running from Trump.

Turkey’s Purge — Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker.

The coup in Turkey is over, and now the purge begins.

On Saturday, Turkish soldiers and police—those who had remained loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the uncertain hours of the previous day—were rounding up their enemies across the security services, reportedly arresting thousands. There will be thousands more. In the high-stakes world of Turkish politics—nominally democratic but played with authoritarian ferocity—justice for the losers will be swift and brutal.

The remarkable thing about Friday’s coup attempt is not that it failed, but that, after years of Erdoğan’s relentless purging of his opposition, there was a faction inside the Turkish military strong enough to mount one at all.

The confrontation was a long time coming. When Erdoğan first became Prime Minister, in 2003, he was the Islamic world’s great democratic hope, a leader of enormous vitality who would show the world that an avowedly Islamist politician could lead a stable democracy and carry on as a member of NATO, too.

Those hopes evaporated quickly. Erdoğan, who was elected Turkey’s president in 2014, has taken a page from Vladimir Putin’s playbook, using democratic institutions to legitimize his rule while crushing his opponents, with an eye to ultimately smothering democracy itself. Over the past decade, Erdoğan has silenced, marginalized, or crushed nearly anyone in the country who might oppose him, including newspaper editors, university professors, aid workers, and dissident politicians. (What an irony that Erdoğan, who has imprisoned so many journalists, and gone to great lengths to censor Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, may have saved his Presidency by using FaceTime to make an early Saturday appearance on a Turkish television news channel.) President Obama and other Western leaders, seeing Erdoğan as a bulwark against chaos, largely gave him a pass. In his most recent grab for authoritarian powers, Erdoğan pushed through a law that stripped members of parliament of immunity from prosecution, a measure that his critics fear, with good reason, that he will use to remove the few remaining lawmakers who still oppose him.

Then there’s the military. Since the Turkish republic was founded, in 1923, the county’s generals have imagined themselves the ultimate arbiters of the its politics, stepping into power—sometimes savagely—whenever they felt the government had become either too leftist or too Islamic. (After the military overthrew a democratically elected government in 1960, the generals executed the Prime Minister.) The military has had a special contempt for Erdoğan, whom they regarded as a dangerous Islamist—but they have proven no match for him.

In 2007, Erdoğan’s henchmen initiated a series of show trials, known collectively as Sledgehammer, in which fabricated evidence was used to remove the top tier of the Turkish officer corps. Hundreds were sent to prison, and the military itself seemed banished from politics forever. Indeed, Erdoğan must have been surprised that there was still a dissident faction of the armed forces large enough to try to bring him down. On Friday, the coup’s organizers didn’t even have the sense to detain the man they were trying to overthrow, and they apparently never seriously contemplated shooting their way into the palace. (After a coup in 1980, the military killed and imprisoned tens of thousands.) In the wake of their failure, the military will be soon be under Erdoğan’s total control, like virtually every other institution in the country.

In his dramatic appearance at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport on Friday night, Erdoğan blamed the insurrection on the exiled cleric Fatullah Gulen, a reclusive figure who lives in the Poconos. “I have a message for Pennsylvania,’’ Erdoğan said, a reference that must have baffled many non-Turks. “You have engaged in enough treason against this nation. If you dare, come back to your country.”

Gulen, an aging cleric who heads one of the world’s largest Islamic orders, fled Turkey in 1999, when it appeared that the military was going to arrest him. For years, he was one of Erdoğan’s closest allies, helping him in his rise to power. While Gulen preaches a message of love and tolerance, there has often been something mysterious about him and his followers, who do not readily advertise either their affiliation or their intentions. Over the years, Gulen’s followers quietly found positions within many Turkish institutions, particularly the courts and police. (It was the Gulenists who led the show trials against the generals and the press.) In 2008, James Jeffrey, the American ambassador, wrote a memo about the Gulenist infiltration of the Turkish National Police. “The assertion that the T.N.P is controlled by the Gulenists is impossible to confirm, but we have found no one who disputes it,” Jeffrey said.

Then, in 2013, Gulen and Erdoğan split, in what appears to be part of a naked struggle for power. In the years since, Erdoğan has purged the courts and police of thousands of men and women presumed to be Gulen loyalists. It’s hard to know whether Gulen was behind Friday’s attempted putsch, but at this point it seems unlikely. While Gulen’s followers predominated in the security services, they were not generally believed to be a large force inside the military. It seems more likely that the officers who led the revolt represented the remnant of the military’s old secular order. Now they’re finished.

During his speech last night at the Istanbul airport, Erdoğan referred to the attempted coup as a “gift from God.” Erdoğan is usually a precise speaker, but in this case, perhaps in his excitement, he showed his cards. With the coup attempt thwarted, he will no doubt seize the moment. In recent months, Erdogan has made little secret of his desire to rewrite the constitution to give himself near total power. There will be no stopping him now.

Listen Up — Paula Span on new technology to help those of you with hearing issues.

An estimated one zillion older people have a problem like mine.

First: We notice age-related hearing loss. A much-anticipated report on hearing health from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine last month put the prevalence at more than 45 percent of those aged 70 to 74, and more than 80 percent among those over 85.

Then: We do little or nothing about it. Fewer than 20 percent of those with hearing loss use hearing aids.

I’ve written before about the reasons. High prices ($2,500 and up for a decent hearing aid, and most people need two). Lack of Medicare reimbursement, because the original 1965 law creating Medicare prohibits coverage. Time and hassle. Stigma.

Both the National Academies and the influential President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technologyhave proposed pragmatic steps to make hearing technology more accessible and affordable.

But until there’s progress on those, many of us with mild to moderate hearing loss may consider a relatively inexpensive alternative: personal sound amplification products, or P.S.A.P.s. They offer some promise — and some perils, too.

Unlike for a hearing aid, you don’t need an audiologist to obtain a P.S.A.P. You see these gizmos advertised on the back pages of magazines or on sale at drugstore chains. You can buy them online.

But they go virtually unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. That leaves them “without the design control requirements, performance standards, technical standards or labeling requirements that apply to devices,” the National Academies report said. By law, manufacturers can’t even label or advertise P.S.A.P.s as intended to help with hearing loss.

The lack of regulation may foster faster innovation — F.D.A. approvals take time — but also creates consumer chaos.

New digital features — some P.S.A.P.s use Bluetooth technology to customize devices, and some will actually test your hearing — are sprouting like dandelions. Yet you can spend $70 or $700 on a pair with no simple way to tell helpful products from the worse-than-useless.

“The current market is pretty much a free-for-all,” said Dr. Frank Lin, an otolaryngologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a member of the National Academies committee.

“Some P.S.A.P. companies are very good, founded by former hearing aid executives and engineers,” Dr. Lin said. “The devices you see in Walmart for 40 bucks are terrible.”

Which P.S.A.P.s are the good ones? A Johns Hopkins audiologist, Nicholas Reed, has run electroacoustical tests on several devices marketed online, measuring their output or gain (translation: volume), frequency ranges and clarity, the three factors most important in helping people hear.

He has also tested them with users with mild to moderate hearing loss. (These devices won’t help people with severe hearing loss.)

Placing people in hearing booths with some background noise, he compared their hearing with various P.S.A.P.s to how well they could hear with no hearing device and with a midpriced $2,500 hearing aid.

Dr. Reed has tested just 29 participants so far, he cautioned, and real-world results will vary. Still, he and his colleagues were impressed with three P.S.A.P.s.

The Soundhawk, which operates with a smartphone, performed almost as well as the hearing aid, with a list price of $399. The CS50+, made by Soundworld Solutions, and the Bean T-Coil, from Etymotic, worked nearly as well and list for about $350.

The researchers also tested the MSA 30X, available at drugstores for $30, and found it actually increased distortion. “A pure waste of your money,” Dr. Reed said.

Dr. Lin’s research group is conducting two pilot studies that fit patients with P.S.A.P.s, and “we’re seeing very positive results,” he said.

Dr. Reed will present his findings at the International Hearing Aid Research Conference next month.

Ultimately, both the President’s Council and the National Academies committee recommend that regulators establish a new product category for these over-the-counter devices, sometimes called “hearables.” They’ve urged the F.D.A. to set specifications that ensure safety and effectiveness, and to require that devices meet certain manufacturing standards.

Then consumers can buy them with greater confidence, avoiding the “bundling” system, buttressed by state and federal laws, that makes hearing aids available only through audiologists.

(The exception: You can already buy some hearing aids online, but sometimes the only difference between them and the same devices marketed as P.S.A.P.s is their labeling.)

Industry groups have objected to changing the current setup. But the proposal resembles the way many consumers now buy eyeglasses: Get a prescription from an optician or ophthalmologist, then comparison-shop in stores or online for prices and styles.

Hearing devices require more customization and instruction than glasses. And while glasses can correct vision, no device fully restores normal hearing.

But while F.D.A.-approved hearing aids fitted by audiologists may remain the gold standard for treating hearing loss, P.S.A.P.s may have a place. “Let the consumer find the device online, and then let the audiologist charge an hourly rate to fit it,” Dr. Reed said.

Already, he added, “a lot of savvy people are doing this for themselves,” patching together systems that use over-the-counter electronics and audio equipment.

Richard Einhorn, a Manhattan composer, suddenly lost most of his hearing because of a virus in 2010. He owns high-end hearing aids, but like many users, still struggles in noisy environments like restaurants.

His solution: He removes his hearing aids and turns to his iPhone. “The iPhone has fantastic audio specifications, on par with some professional gear,” said Mr. Einhorn, 63, a board member of the Hearing Loss Association of America.

He relies on an F.D.A.-certified hearing app, the Jacoti ListenApp; a plug-in directional microphone (he uses the Shure Motiv MV88); and quality earphones. (Disclosure: He serves as a consultant for Jacoti.)

Thus equipped, “you can hear really well in situations where even a hearing aid doesn’t work so well,” Mr. Einhorn said.

You’d hope that Medicare would eventually reconsider its policy on covering hearing devices, a step the National Academies report also urged.

The aging of the population means many more Americans will confront age-related hearing loss, and researchers have shown that it contributes not only to social isolation, but to increased risks of falls, poor health and hospitalization, cognitive decline and dementia.

Yet treating hearing loss has been largely an all-or-nothing proposition. You pay an audiologist lots of money, or you blast your TV and ask friends to repeat themselves. A third option, F.D.A.-regulated P.S.A.P.s, might represent a simpler, cheaper solution.

“Do you have to put in a hearing device that’s 100 percent perfect?” Dr. Reed said. “Maybe 85 percent is enough to improve your life.”

Doonesbury — Wear this to remind yourself and others.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Two Tall Women

It’s interesting to note that the two people who have generated the most fulmination out of Donald Trump have two things in common: neither of them are running for president against him, and they’re both women.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) cheerfully went after Mr. Trump and he went up like a Roman candle, hurling insults and racist nicknames back at her, much to her delight.  Now Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has ventured an opinion on him and Mr. Trump’s response is to question her sanity and demand that she be taken off the court.

No man, not even one running in the primaries, generated such vehemence and eye-popping, vein-throbbing responses.  Mr. Trump dismissed his male challengers much in the same way he sends back an undercooked steak.  But strong women really get under his skin — they always have, apparently — and when they stand up and give back as good as he gives, he’s a sight to behold.

I’ll leave it to the psychologists among you to come up with the reasons for this visceral behavior, but it really does make you wonder about what exactly it is about women that sets him off.

And now he has to run against one in the general election.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Annals of Asshattery

John Kasich schools us on how to prevent rape.

Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich [Friday] told a female college student concerned about “sexual violence, harassment and rape” that she should not “go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.”

And if you do, well, whatever happens is YOUR FAULT.

Blaming the victim is one of those ways that the conservatives can get anti-abortion legislation whooped through legislatures: hey, you should know better than to have gone to that party or gone out with that guy; it’s not his fault that you had a little too much, young lady.

Yesterday he was aghast that anyone would think he was victim-blaming by saying he’s the victim of being taken out of context.  Then he basically doubled down on what he said in the first place.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Fraud Wins

The Los Angeles Times has a detailed report on how the anti-choice group “Center for Medical Progress” conned the nation into believing that Planned Parenthood was selling baby parts.

She was subdued and sympathetic on camera. Her recollections of collecting fetal tissue and body parts from abortion clinics in northern California lent emotional force to the anti-abortion videos that provoked a furor in Congress last summer.

In footage made public last July, Holly O’Donnell said she had been traumatized by her work for a fetal-tissue brokerage. She described feeling “pain…and death and eternity” and said she fainted the first time she touched the remains of an aborted fetus.

Unreleased footage filed in a civil court case shows that O’Donnell’s apparently spontaneous reflections were carefully rehearsed. David Daleiden, the anti-abortion activist who made the videos, is heard coaching O’Donnell through repeated takes, instructing her to repeat anecdotes, add details, speak “fluidly” and be “very natural.”

“Let’s try it two more times,” he told her at one point.

Later, O’Donnell protested: “I don’t want to tell that story again. Please don’t make me again, David.”

For more than two years, Daleiden and a small circle of anti-abortion activists went undercover into meetings of abortion providers and women’s health groups. With fake IDs and tiny hidden cameras, they sought to capture Planned Parenthood officials making inflammatory statements. O’Donnell cooperated with the filmmakers, offering an inside view of the fetal tissue trade.

The videos sparked numerous investigations into Planned Parenthood and efforts in Congress to strip the organization of its federal funding.

Now, Daleiden, head of the Irvine-based Center for Medical Progress, and his associates contend that they were acting as investigative journalists, seeking to expose illegal conduct. That is one of their defenses in lawsuits brought by Planned Parenthood and other groups, accusing them of fraud and invasion of privacy.

But unpublicized footage and court records show that the activists’ methods were geared more toward political provocation than journalism.

The Times and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley took a detailed look at published and unreleased video footage, sworn declarations, excerpts of recorded dialogue and other court records from the lawsuits against Daleiden.

The truth is that in every state investigation into Planned Parenthood’s methods of operation, no one has turned up any wrongdoing.  And yet those states, including Florida, have cut off funding to the agency, some in defiance of federal law.

In short, these “pro-lifers” perpetrated a public fraud, were caught, and are going on trial for it, but they still got away with it because states run by anti-choice Jesus-shouters changed the laws and put women and their families in danger by depriving them of medical services from many clinics, few of which provided legal abortion services.

HT digby.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Of Brick Walls and Glass Ceilings

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville wasn’t always a Hillary Clinton supporter, but now she makes her case.

Not a perfect person. Not even a perfect candidate. I am not distressed by people who have legitimate criticisms of Hillary Clinton and some of the policies she has advocated; I share those criticisms.

What is distressing to me is that I see little evidence of that person in the public narratives about Hillary Clinton. Not everyone has the time nor the desire to deep-dive into documents the way that I have. If I hadn’t had a professional reason to do so, I may not have done it myself.

I may have—and did, before I was obliged otherwise—relied on what I learned about Hillary Clinton from the media.

Which, as it turns out, is deeply corrupted by pervasive misogyny.

The subtle misogyny of double-standards that mean she can’t win (even when she does), and the overt misogyny of turning her into a monster, a gross caricature of a ruthlessly ambitious villain who will stop at nothing in her voracious quest for ever more power.

This is a view held, and promulgated, by people who have a vested interest in stopping Hillary Clinton, or anyone who espouses even the most rudimentary progressive agenda. People who have long been watchers of and/or participants in the political process, who are old enough and sophisticated enough to know better.

It is also a view held by a startlingly large number of younger people, whose misperceptions are somewhat understandable, given that the ubiquitous campaign of misogyny-based dehumanization of Hillary Clinton has been around longer than they have been alive.

Many observations have been made about the fact that Bernie Sanders polls significantly better than Clinton among young people. (Specifically, young white people.) And I think there are a number of reasons for that, but chief among them is that, as my friend Kate noted, “Twenty-five-year-olds have literally never lived in a time where there weren’t whispers (or nationally televised shouts) about Hillary Clinton’s evil schemes.”

Young people, and people of any age who are newer participants in the political process, are coming to politics at a time when literally decades of demonstrably unfounded smears against Hillary Clinton—or “The Clintons”—have become cemented as historical fact.

I am old enough, and have been an engaged political nerd long enough, to remember Rush Limbaugh’s 1990’s TV show, back when he was busily coining misogynist slurs like “feminazi.” And now I see left-leaning Clinton opponents using those phrases, and invoking the unsubstantiable lore about her aggressive dishonesty and villainy invented by Limbaugh and his cohorts, as though they are something other than the fever dreams of intractably misogynist dirtbags with a nefarious agenda.

[…]

It has taken me years to find the real Hillary Clinton behind a brick wall of impenetrable misogyny.

And this is the reality with which we all need to reckon: A brick wall is infinitely more difficult to shatter than a glass ceiling.

I have said this before and I daresay I will be obliged to say it again: I have not been a reflexive defender (or supporter) of Hillary Clinton the politician. I have made criticisms of her campaigning and her policy. I expect to continue to make them, because I have significant points of disagreement with some of her positions and because she makes mistakes.

I have, however, I will openly admit, become a reflexive defender (and supporter) of Hillary Clinton the person. Certainly, it is partly out of self-interest, because I am myself demeaned and caricatured by misogyny, and because I want to see more female representation in politics and don’t want enormous hurdles standing in their way.

But mostly it is because it profoundly grieves me to see the way she is treated.

It hurts my heart—and it angers me—to have uncovered a person who cares, if imperfectly, so deeply about other people and observe the many ways in which she has been turned into a monster. It is intolerable.

And I flatly refuse to abide the rank dehumanization of Hillary Clinton in silence.

This is not the first time that a candidate who would otherwise be seen as a reasonable, normal human being turned into a caricature or a demon because of some irrelevant feature; say the color of his skin, perhaps.  What’s even worse is when it happens at the hands of those who would normally be allies.