Thanks for the memories

Monday, January 14th, 2013 · 66 Comments »

First off, I want to apologize for my extended silence. What started last November as a holiday break from blogging turned into a series of very weird and distressing events, culminating in the heat death of my old computer. The enforced hiatus made me think that maybe it’s time to hang this thing up for good. It’s not that I don’t love you all, because I do. (I’m talking to my regular commentariat, of course.) But the fact is, I’ve pretty much said everything I want to say. I’m done. If this were a book it would be finished by now, and if not my editor would be saying “wrap it the hell up already.”

Do you realize I’ve been blogging for seven years? Holy shit.

There’s also the fact that I’m just sick of dealing with the crap that feminist bloggers have to deal with. I put up with it for a long time because I had stuff to say, and then, even after my personal well had started to run dry, I put up with it because I enjoyed hanging out with my commentariat. But in the past few months the balance has shifted, and I’m just no longer willing or able to deal.

So, this is goodbye. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship and support over the years. I will miss you more than you know, because you guys really have been my friends. But hey, maybe we’ll meet again sometime.

And now I’m going to close, because I’m hopelessly bad at farewells. Especially painful ones.



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Happy Thanksgiving from 1976

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012 · 4 Comments »

How’s your Thanksgiving so far?

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Let’s compare Thanksgiving menus

Sunday, November 18th, 2012 · 15 Comments »

Baked corn pudding.

I’m always fascinated by people’s family traditions at the holidays, particularly with regards to food. This is my family’s planned menu for Thanksgiving (as supplied by four different cooks):

  • Turkey
  • Stuffing
  • Pan dressing (this is a bread-like version of stuffing, baked in a pan and sliced into squares)
  • Giblet gravy
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole
  • Corn pudding (see picture above)
  • Sweet potato casserole (with pecans on top, not marshmallows)
  • Yeast rolls
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Fruit salad (a mayonnaise-based recipe my mother has been making for as long as I can remember)
  • Pumpkin pie

What’s going to be on your family’s table?

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Irish murder

Friday, November 16th, 2012 · 6 Comments »
Savita Halappanavar, an aquarium who thought she was a person, and whose life was less important than that of the nonviable fetus inside her uterus.

Savita Halappanavar, an aquarium who thought she was a person, and whose life was less important than that of the nonviable fetus inside her uterus.

I haven’t written about the death-by-Catholicism of Savita Halappanavar, because it makes me so angry my typing fingers curl into knots. I’m not really going to write about it now, either, except to post a couple of links that sum up my attitude.

From the India Times: Ireland Murders Pregnant Indian Dentist. Pretty much.

And from Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check:

Last month, a woman was admitted to a hospital in Galway, Ireland. She was 17 weeks pregnant with a wanted child. She was experiencing severe back pain. She was found to be miscarrying the pregnancy.

Within days, she was dead.

Why? Because she ended up in a Catholic hospital, governed by an ethic that even a non-viable fetus doomed to die is more important than a living, breathing 31-year-old woman.

It really is that simple.

Yes, it is.

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Romney now running for Grand Wizard

Thursday, November 15th, 2012 · 2 Comments »

Mittens speaks: Romney Says Obama Only Won Because He Gave ‘Big Gifts’ To Blacks And Latinos.

And this on top of Ryan’s complaint about the “urban vote.”

I would say something pithy but I used up all my pith in the title of the post. These guys just disgust me.

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Too depressing for words

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 · 15 Comments »

National Schadenfreude Day Week now being over, the nation is rudely jolted back into the reality that it has just reelected the most Republican president since the last Republican president:

Leaked deal memo for last year’s Grand Bargain: “Obama willing to go quite far”. The money quote:

“This is a confidential document, last offer the president — the White House made last year to Speaker Boehner to try to reach this $4 trillion grand bargain. And it’s long and it’s tedious and it’s got budget jargon in it. But what it shows is a willingness to cut all kinds of things, like TRICARE, which is the sacred health insurance program for the military, for military retirees; to cut Social Security; to cut Medicare. And there are some lines in there about, “We want to get tax rates down, not only for individuals but for businesses.” So Obama and the White House were willing to go quite far.”

And apparently they’re still willing to go that far.

Is this what the nation just voted for? Nope. Is this what Obama is going to try to do anyway? Yep.

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The GOP begins to re-think

Friday, November 9th, 2012 · 11 Comments »

National Schadenfreude Day is just gonna last all week, isn’t it? The headline from the Washington Post:

Republican Party begins election review to find out what went wrong

Hello, Republican Party? What went wrong is that you hate female people, black people, brown people, gay people, non-rich people, educated people, rational people, etc. That’s a lot of people.

Party officials said the review is aimed at studying their tactics and message, not at changing the philosophical underpinnings of the party.

Okay, see, this is going to be a problem. Because the philosophical underpinnings of your party are that you hate female people, black people, brown people, gay people, non-rich people, educated people, rational people, etc. Do you see where this is going?

Seriously, though, it will be interesting to watch the Republicans retool over the next few years. I have no doubt they’ll do a very good job of it, too. They just need to get back to first principles. They need to get back to their true philosophical underpinnings, which are hidden deep in the party’s tiny little black heart of hell, or possibly in Dick Cheney’s undisclosed location.

At its core, the GOP is the party of the 1%. Yes, it started out as something different back in the 19th century, but for the past hundred years the GOP has been the party of the rich. The party of the 1%. And all the other stuff—from red-baiting to abortion to the Southern strategy to guns to gays—is just smoke and mirrors to trick the 99% into voting for them.

Racism and sexism have been particularly potent smoke-and-mirror techniques for the past few decades, so much so that there is now a generation of useful idiots in the lower ranks of the party who really think that’s what the GOP is about. But modern demographics are complicating that strategy. There are just too many female people and black people and brown people on the other side.

When your base is down to the Confederacy and Deseret, you have a problem.

So the Republicans need to retool. They need to come up with a new and improved line of bullshit to trick people into voting for them. What will it be?

Personally, I think one growth sector in Republican bullshit is going to be the national debt. Very few people understand macroeconomics, and even otherwise intelligent people are easily misled into thinking the debt is like some huge credit card bill we owe to China. And it scares them. A lot. Right before the election there was an article about some Romney volunteer who had actually quit his job to work full-time on the campaign because he was so terrified about the national debt. Can you imagine? It made me think of those pathetic people who gave up everything because they thought the Rapture was coming.

Of course it’s immoral as hell to scare people like that, but politicians don’t give a shit about morals. With the national debt, Republicans have found the perfect propaganda tool. Nobody understands the real situation so they don’t know they’re being conned, and it sounds so scary that people think they have to vote for whoever is promising to fix it. It’s a great racket.

As for solving the demographic issue, I think the Republicans are most likely to go after the Hispanic vote. This will mean dropping the immigration thing, but the advantage (in their minds) is that they might not have to drop any of the other shit. They probably think they can be pro-Hispanic but still virulently anti-black, anti-woman, and anti-gay. And maybe they can.

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Post-election links and open thread

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 · 16 Comments »

Here are a few interesting links from the roundup:

Many people on the left with whom I normally agree, such as Glen Ford at BAR, see Obama’s reelection as nothing more than the triumph of the status quo. And if you look at what Obama has actually done and proposes to do, there’s some undeniable truth to that. Nevertheless, I think Glen and others are missing the mark.

In the straitjacket semaphore world of voting, what happened yesterday was that the American people emphatically jerked their heads to the left. To the left. Go that way, go that way. See? Look at my shoulders. Look at my head. See the direction I’m pointing. That way. That way.

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Election Day Open Thread

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 · 24 Comments »

I thought about titling this post “Voting with Racists,” which you’ll understand when I tell you my story.

So I’m standing in line to vote, right? And the guy next to me—white guy in a trucker hat and denim—turns to me and says, “well, this ain’t bad. My buddy went to vote at 6:30 this morning in [nearby city], and there was a line of 400 blacks. He was scared! So he got out of there and said he’d wait and go vote this afternoon. Yeah, this ain’t bad.”

I was so stunned I just stared.

Simultaneous thoughts in my mind:

  • “Goddamn you’re a racist.”
  • “Goddamn I cannot believe you just said that.”
  • Blacks?
  • “What the fuck is so scary about Americans standing in line to vote? Is there anything more peaceable than American citizens standing in line to vote?”
  • “Your buddy is so racist and stupid he’s afraid of people standing in line to vote?”
  • “Goddamn.”
  • “How the fuck do you live?”
  • “Well at least the turnout is good.”
  • “400 people in line at 6:30 am? And in a Democratic town? Excellent!”
  • “Hope the goddamn machines aren’t rigged.”

I did not say any of those things out loud, of course. Picking fights with burly redneck strangers in public is not high on my list of things to do, especially when my mother is with me. I just switched lines—asking if I could change to paper ballot instead of electronic—and went about my business.

Did you vote?

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My vote tomorrow

Monday, November 5th, 2012 · 27 Comments »

Yesterday scott posed this question in the comments:

This is just a question for Violet, if she sees this. I’ve vacillated back and forth this entire year whether or not to vote 3rd party on the principle that Romney is evil, Obama has been sometimes comically bad, and that indicating you don’t like what’s on offer has some value. But, although I don’t like the way “progressives” yell at me when they make this argument, I am sympathetic to the argument that if I do that, maybe in some small way I am letting a douchebag like Romney in. Unlike lots of people who seem very certain about it, I’m not. What say you? I’m also in Virginia, getting harangued by phone and door by OFA types. I’d really appreciate your take (long or short) on this since I’ve liked your site ever since ’08. Either way, thanks!

I decided to answer in a post, since other people have also asked me this question.

I’m a situational voter. My goal is always to move the country towards progressive, feminist, economic enlightenment; that doesn’t change. What changes is the political situation in each election cycle. The question I always ask myself is: What message can I send with my vote? What incremental influence can I have with my vote this time around, given the current state of affairs? What will move the needle to the left? Or, failing that, what will keep the needle from swinging wildly towards Crazytown on the right?

It’s a frustrating proposition, because voting is such a dumb brute way of expressing political goals. It’s like trying to communicate string theory via semaphore while wearing a straitjacket. What I really want to do is submit a 10,000 word essay on political philosophy, with a long list of points on how the Democrats have failed and the Republicans are insane and our entire two-party system is an oligarchy of self-perpetuating evil. But all I get to do is walk into a voting booth and tick off a name.

It’s especially frustrating for liberals like me who are appalled by the conservatism of the modern Democratic party. How do we register that displeasure when the only electable alternative is the GOP, which has gone so far past conservatism that it’s now functionally medieval?

This is why 2008 was such a rare gift (albeit a squandered one). It’s the only time I can remember that Democratic conservatism—sexism, specifically—was the topic of the day. The party’s treatment of Hillary and the behavior of the Obama campaign gave women a precious opportunity to register their displeasure with Democratic sexism. The national media and the political operatives were actually watching to see if women would accept it or not. That was our chance to say, “yes, Republicans are so ridiculous they’re not even worth talking about, but you know what? You Democrats are pretty crappy too. And we demand better.” It’s the only time I can remember that it was at least potentially possible for female voters to reject a Democratic candidate and have that gesture widely understood as a rejection of sexism.

But that was 2008. The situation this year is completely different. Those of us who pay attention know very well that the Obama administration has betrayed women in serious ways, but in the straitjacket semaphore world of voting, that’s not what’s on the table. The only message women get to send this year is whether they will tolerate the Republican War on Women—which is so retrograde it makes Obama look like Andrea Dworkin. Transvaginal probes, yes or no? Rape is a gift from god, yes or no? Expecting your birth control prescription to be covered makes you a slut, yes or no?

You can always vote third-party, of course, and over the years I’ve done that a number of times. If you’re a genuine progressive and a feminist, not to mention a pacifist and an environmentalist, then the Green Party platform is almost certainly far more in line with your convictions than the conservative mess the Democrats have become. It is with mine. But again, voting is a situational issue. And so I ask myself: What message will my vote send this year? What impact will my vote have in this particular election?

In this particular election, I am not seeing any kind of mainstream breakthrough or momentum for the Greens. That’s normal, actually, since in most years the third-party candidates simply have no chance. There have been four presidential elections in my voting life when a third-party candidacy broke through and attracted some mainstream attention: John Anderson in 1980, Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996, and Ralph Nader in 2000. But most of the time, third parties are simply not a factor. In the straitjacket semaphore world of voting, the tiny number of votes cast for the Greens or any other third party are dismissed as gestures from the fringe. I’m not saying those votes are wasted or that it’s ever a mistake to vote your conscience; just that most of the time, third-party votes don’t change the main conversation.

And even when third parties do have an impact on the election, they still don’t change the conversation. (Notice that I’m talking about what actually happens, not what should happen or what may happen on some happy day in the distant future.) Consider: Ralph Nader won almost 3% of the popular vote in 2000, but that didn’t lead the Democrats to become more like the Greens. It sure as hell didn’t lead the Republicans to become more like the Greens. If Jill Stein wins 2% of the vote this year, it will possibly cost Obama the election, but will it push the Democrats to become more Green in response? I doubt it.

What will really happen if Obama loses is that the Democrats will mostly chalk it up to the economy. Yes, they’ll be aware that some on the left abandoned Obama because he’s Bush III, but mostly they’ll chalk it up to the economy. They’ll conclude that the Republican War on Women is apparently not so offensive after all—at least not offensive enough to keep Romney out of office. They’ll decide that the basic Republican approach (tax breaks for billionaires, screw the 47%) plays pretty well in Peoria. They’ll decide that the country really doesn’t care that much about healthcare reform, and that what they ought to be doing is talking about the debt and fiscal responsibility. In short, they’ll decide that they really need to be more like Republicans.

If the Republicans win, they will see it as a validation of every single thing they’ve done in the past four years, and everything they’ve promised to do. From the Tea Party to the birthers to state-mandated object rape to the Kenyan socialist Muslim conspiracy theory to the 47% to death panels to birth control sluts to Paul Ryan’s grotesque Randian budget to everything. Everything. It’s all good, they will think; this is what the country wants.

So I’m voting for Obama. I’m not happy about it, because I would really rather send a message about how angry I am with him about certain things. I’d rather send a message about predator drones and Plan B. I’d rather tell him that the Grand Bargain he’s cooking up on Social Security and Medicare makes me want to drive to DC and camp on the frigging White House lawn.

But I don’t see a way to do that this year without enabling the Republican apocalypse. As bad as Obama is, Romney is worse. Much, much worse. And Romney and Ryan together represent everything that I reject. They represent everything that I believe the country needs to reject, economically and socially and politically. I do not want these men in office. I do not want the Republican Party in power.

So Obama it is.

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