Focused Women Then Moved

Colorful and incisive phrases from a review in the New York Times:

In late 1790 Wollstonecraft’s ”Vindication of the Rights of Men” the first counter to Edmund Burke’s treatise on the dangers of the French Revolution, was published anonymously; ”all the best journals of the day discussed it.”

But when she produced
The Vindication of the Rights of Woman
all hell broke loose
.

It was the most immodest emergence of a woman’s voice in memory and the 32-year-old Wollstonecraft became famous. While the American statesman Aaron Burr declared ”your sex has in her an able advocate . . . a work of genius” (and John Adams teased his wife, Abigail, for being a ”Disciple of Wollstonecraft!”) Horace Walpole’s reaction was more typical.

He called her “a hyena in petticoats.”

In her masterwork, Wollstonecraft expounded in dense and literate prose — Gordon might have quoted more extensively here — on the necessity of women becoming less trivial and more rational and educated creatures. She suggests that women ”labor by reforming themselves to reform the world.” A hyena, definitely.

“The minds of women are enfeebled by false refinement,”

She wrote, continuing: “Dismissing then those pretty feminine phrases, which the men condescendingly use to soften our slavish dependence, and despising that weak elegancy of mind . . . and sweet docility of manners, supposed to be the sexual characteristics of the weaker vessel, I wish to show . . . that the first object of laudable ambition is to obtain a character as a human being.”

She wrote,

“Dismissing then those pretty feminine phrases, which the men condescendingly use to soften our slavish dependence, and despising that weak elegancy of mind . . . and sweet docility of manners, supposed to be the sexual characteristics of the weaker vessel, I wish to show . . . that the first object of laudable ambition is to obtain a character as a human being.”

Lost Leadership

I’m surprised.

Eleanor RooseveltSurrounded in controversy Eleanor Roosevelt met the enemy Nikita Kruschev. In an interview afterward, she said our duty is to show those trying to decide between Russia and the USA that freedom is better. She said this is our challenge. She said, “It can’t be met just with guns.”

But Google is FAIL.
No results found for “It can’t be met just with guns.”


I should be patient. A day or so has gone by. MSNBC’s Meet The Press has diligently and graciously transcribed Eleanor Roosevelt’s televised interview. Google has used its robust engine to index Mrs. Roosevelt’s assertions and candor.

What is your feeling about the possibility of peaceful co-existence with the Soviet Union? Can America and Russia peacefully co-exist?

MS. ROOSEVELT: At the present moment, I think it will take some time. I–we’re living in a time when everything is changing. I think that we have to consider that there may be changes there and there may be some changes here. I would not say that as they are today there would be any basis for co-existence. We can live in the same world, of course, but co-operatively, it would be difficult.

There’s no use in belittling your rival.

There’s no use in putting your head in the sand and saying, “I don’t want to know.” It’s much better to know because what we have to prove to the neutral world or the world that is judging between us all the time, is that with freedom, we can actually do more for the lives of people than they can do with their system. And that’s the important challenge. That’s what we have to meet. It can’t be met just with guns.

(End videotape)

Fat and Furious

Yo! Our soldiers are well fed. Good news is rare and it’s good to hear our 150,000 troops are happy with their cafeteria in Iraq.

“A lot of people turn to food for comfort, and the opportunity is there.” [military.com]

mess hall desertsBarbecue ribs, fried chicken, rib-eye steak, lobster tails, crab legs, roast turkey, stir-fry, cheeseburgers, fries, onion rings, egg rolls, breaded shrimp, buffalo wings, chili, crepes, pancakes, omelets, waffles, burritos, tacos, quesadillas, quiches, bacon, polish sausages, pulled pork, corned beef hash, milk shakes and smoothies.

And that’s just for starters.

You name it, and American soldiers are eating and drinking it, except alcohol.

…a pasta bar, a salad bar and a sandwich and wrap bar.

…corn & potato chips, pretzels, jerky, cookies and bean or onion dip.

…mini Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway and Taco Bell.

And for desert?
…apples, pears and other fruit.

…carrot cake, triple chocolate cake, strawberry cheesecake, black forest chocolate cake, devil chocolate cake, banana nut cake, apple pie, cherry pie, chocolate and vanilla pudding, three types of cookies, three types of ice cream bars, cones and popsicles, ice cream with all the fixings, including caramel and chocolate syrup, crushed nuts, whipped cream, and blueberry and strawberry toppings.

A Ballot Praised

I didn’t find this until today, but it’s important vigor.

Election Day, November 1884
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
‘Twould not be you, Niagara–nor you, ye limitless prairies–nor
your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite–nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic
geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon’s white cones–nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes–nor
Mississippi’s stream:
–This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name–the still
small voice vibrating–America’s choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen–the act itself the main, the
quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous’d–sea-board and inland–
Texas to Maine–the Prairie States–Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West–the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling–(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s:) the
peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity–welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
–Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify–while the heart
pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s sails.

…while the heart pants, life glows
…a swordless conflict!

The Test of Life

At age 4, success is...not peeing in your pants.
At age 12, success is...having friends.
At age 16, success is...having a driver's license.
At age 20, success is...having sex.
At age 35, success is...having money.
At age 50, success is...having money.
At age 60, success is...having sex.
At age 70, success is...having a driver's license.
At age 75, success is...having friends.
At age 90, success is...not peeing in your pants.

by Ben Liberman

The Dirt on Morals

Tests reported at The Economist show that when we concern ourselves with ‘moral cleanliness’ we encourage greater immorality.

Ponder this:

A study just published in Psychological Science by Simone Schnall of the University of Plymouth and her colleagues shows that washing with soap and water makes people view unethical activities as more acceptable and reasonable than they would if they had not washed themselves.

It’s somewhat hard to explain.
Dr Schnall found that “washing with soap and water makes people view unethical activities as more acceptable and reasonable than they would if they had not washed themselves.”

When feeling unclean beforehand, people make decisions which are more ethical. She’s noticing that feeling disgusted or wrong triggers increased ethical behavior – to right the wrong.

But, if feeling clean beforehand, i.e. through religious purification, we become less alert about what’s ethical or moral. When we’re feeling “pure, washed, clean, immaculate and pristine”, we condone a more relaxed attitude to morality.

After all, Pontius Pilate washed his hands.

I posted a year or so ago, Who’s using Google to search for sex?, that Google Trends will show that ‘sex’ is the top search term in nations that are the so-called bastion of morals, and ‘sex’ is high on the list in religious pockets in the West.

Reminding me of Karl Jung, we can’t fix or repair what we can’t see or admit. If we keep ourselves in the dark, we learn nothing about our shadows. Lit only by moral code, a culture fails to acknowledge its nature but fuels its passion nevertheless.

Am’Bush’ed Children

FEMA trailers poisoning kidsLet them breathe poison.

Irwin Redlener, Children’s Health Fund president and a professor of Public Health at Columbia University has found the sickest children he’s ever seen in the USA.

“Forty-one percent of the children are anemic—twice the rate found in minors in New York City homeless shelters—and 42 percent have respiratory infections.”

The kids he’s describing lived in FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina. There are still nearly 10,000 families in trailers. A TIME story is here.

Statistics On Sanity

“The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they are okay, then it is you.” – Rita Mae Brown

Fool’s Heat

What has been wrought since Reagan, since the noisy scream of less government?

The cost structures of the unproductive parts of the economy (government, medical care, etc.) have skyrocketed at rates double or even triple the growth of the economy as a whole; the total tax burden (property taxes, payroll taxes, junk fees, permits, income taxes, business taxes, phone taxes, fuel taxes, sales taxes, etc.) have outraced both income and the overall economy, channeling whatever surpluses have been created into unproductive bureaucracies consumed with paper shuffling.

Like the frog being boiled alive, we do not seem to be aware of the heat rising.

Replacing Thoughtless Harm

I think it is better to have a government that wants to provide good government than a government that doesn’t believe in government. – George Soros

“I am against market fundamentalism.

“I think this propaganda that government involvement is always bad has been very successful — but also very harmful to our society.”

Average citizens are not much impressed. They no longer trust Wall Street.

“That mistrust is well placed.

“Those very prestigious institutions on Wall Street pursue their self-interest, and that is not identical to the common interest — which needs to be protected.”

Surviving Profit

We know little about the rich.
We don’t hear much from the CEO’s or shareholders responsible for the banks and firms toppling our flag pole.

Here’s an interview in Germany’s Spiegel,

‘The Pursuit of Profit Is an Innate Human Trait’

Werner Wenning, the CEO of German pharmaceutical giant Bayer, discusses the speculative excesses in the financial markets, the disastrous emphasis on short-term profit and the appropriateness of his multi-million-euro salary.

Mr. Wenning, speculative excesses have brought the financial markets to the brink of disaster. The industrialized countries are going into recession, and the reputation of executives is at an all-time low.

Is capitalism in a crisis?

Not Known As Consumers

I’ve always resented the term ‘consumer’.

Here’s a comment from TruthOut that says it well:

It is time we reject the term “consumer” as a description of the majority of us in this country. We are consumers for maybe an hour a week, while we are out shopping for essentials, etc.

We are the producers – the ones who earn and produce.

It is the corporations that are the consumers.

See These Fools

I’m not surprised that homeowners and workers are blamed for the financial crisis; too quick to sign a mortgage, too overpaid and pensioned, but I am ashamed that leaders and pundits are not sufficiently named and taken to the woodshed.

Here’s an example of short-sightedness, when Bernanke went to work for Bush, that reveals profound foolishness populates the leadership culture of our nation.

As chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Bernanke was expected to act as a public spokesman on economic matters.

In August, 2005, after briefing President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, he met with the White House press corps. “Did the housing bubble come up at your meeting?” a reporter asked. “And how concerned are you about it?”

Bernanke affirmed that it had and said, “I think it is important to point out that house prices are being supported in very large part by very strong fundamentals… We have lots of jobs, employment, high incomes, very low mortgage rates, growing population, and shortages of land and housing in many areas. And those supply-and-demand factors are a big reason why house prices have risen as much as they have.”

How far from reality will we let this class of leaders stay? Remember that Wall Street is still ready to take Social Security and keep Health Care.

There is a slippery Republican Plank that has made us mere crops in an agriculture of numbers.

This is a good rant

OK. This is the last bitchy post for today, but a good rant deserves a good reading.

The American Worker
by Rick Kepler

I am an American worker, and you are damn right I want the wealth to be shared and spread. I am talking about the wealth my hard work helped to create, but was taken from me by George Bush’s base, the very rich, or as I know them, my corporate bosses. For the past eight years I have watched W.’s and McCain’s (Country Club First) base grab the largest share of our country’s wealth. Where did they take it from? They took it from my family’s pocketbook, and my co-workers’ families’ pocketbooks. They stole the wealth that I was trying to build for me and my family when they stripped my pension plan from me and told me to invest in a 401k. Then they stole most of that 401k and other workers’ 401k savings with this economic meltdown. This was a massive transfer of wealth from the workers’ pockets into the already stuffed pockets of the rich. My retirement savings and my coworkers’ savings all across America have been looted by the corporate bosses, who just got bailed out while we got left out. Again!

Their greed is insatiable.

Candace Gingrich, American

Ha! Newt Gingrich is told off by his sister:

I recently had the displeasure of watching you bash the protestors of the Prop 8 marriage ban to Bill O’Reilly on FOX News. I must say, after years of watching you build your career by stirring up the fears and prejudices of the far right, I feel compelled to use the words of your idol, Ronald Reagan, “There you go, again.”

However, I realize that you may have been a little preoccupied lately with planning your resurrection as the savior of your party, so I thought I would fill you in on a few important developments you might have overlooked.

The truth is that you’re living in a world that no longer exists. I, along with millions of Americans, clearly see the world the way it as — and we embrace what it can be. You, on the other hand, seem incapable of looking for new ideas or moving beyond what worked in the past.

Welcome to the 21st century, big bro.

You should be more afraid of the new political climate in America, because, there is no place for you in it.

In other words, stop being a hater, big bro.

Explaining Politics

Larry Beinhart writes a very fine sum of today’s political shape.

I will post the entire piece as published in November’s issue of Hudson Valley’s Chronogram.

Please read Body Politic: The New Know Nothings

Chronogram, Larry BeinhartIt was Jesus Christ, if Matthew is to be believed, who said, “Love thine enemy.” It is in that spirit that I write this belated valentine to Sarah Palin.

Sarah, I love you for having revealed unto the media the snarling heart of the beast that is the base (and the soul) of the Republican Party. Yes, you have the lipstick and the heels, not to mention the calves and bosoms, that send Republican men into swoons, but you have more; the pit-bull snarl that rouses your supporters to cry out, “Traitor!” against Obama, and “Kill him!”

George Bush kept those folks in their kennels, ran as a “compassionate conservative,” and always masked his most heinous plans in double speak. Bush the Elder, Ronald Reagan, and even Richard Nixon never explicitly ran on hate and fear of “the other.” They used words that were coded enough that it was possible to pretend that they were true.

But now the beast is loose.
The Republican Party likes to remember Abraham Lincoln. And so they should. It’s a nice memory and brings credit to them. As does the accidental ascension of Teddy Roosevelt, environmentalist and basher of corporations. Back in the 1950s and ’60s, their party included such figures as Dwight Eisenhower—whose reputation grows ever better in retrospect—Nelson Rockefeller, who built New York’s state university system, and New York City mayor John Lindsey.

But there is another strand that runs through their history.
Back in the 1840s, there was a group called the Know Nothings. They were against immigrants and for real Americans. (“Real American” did not then, as it does not now, refer to Indians, it refers to descendants of English immigrants.) The movement was based on fear. Irish and German Catholics were going to take over. They would take orders from the Pope-in-Rome (one word). Their values were not “our values.” They drank. Their nunneries were virtual brothels and when the nuns had babies they practiced infanticide.

The Know Nothings started with secret societies like the Order of the Star Spangled Banner, associated with William Poole, better known as Bill the Butcher, depicted by Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York.

Their public political face was the American Republican Party, which became the Native American Party, and finally the American Party.

Their platform was:

  1. Severe limits on immigration, especially from Catholic countries.
  2. Restricting political office to “native-born” Americans.
  3. Mandating a wait of 21 years before an immigrant could gain citizenship.
  4. Restricting public school teaching to Protestants.
  5. Mandating daily Bible readings in public schools (from the Protestant version of the Bible).
  6. Restricting the sale of liquor.

For a brief time, the American Party was wildly popular. In 1854 party membership swelled from 50,000 to over a million in a matter of months. It elected mayors in Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Chicago, and won the state legislature and governorship of Massachusetts.

But there were other things going on: the Mexican War, slavery, secession, and the Civil War. The movement didn’t last long and was soon absorbed by the Republican Party.

Fair is fair.
Things morph and change. The Republican Party freed the slaves and tried to create an interracial democratic South during Reconstruction. The Democratic Party became the party of segregation in the South and the second home of the Klu Klux Klan. To be Republican is not to be necessarily narrow-minded and in dread fear of foreigners. To be Democratic is not necessarily to be liberal, progressive and open-minded.
But enough of being fair.

The Great Depression demonstrated that the principles of the Republican Party were bankrupt. Like most of the country. The Democrats became the progressive party, representing social justice and programs that would protect capitalism from its own worst tendencies, moving toward a vision of a perfectable world. The Republicans became—in a very literal sense—a reactionary party, reacting against whatever the Democrats were doing, engaged in a 60-year-long war against the New Deal.

Lyndon Johnson is the pivotal figure, both heroic and deeply tragic. The Democratic Party’s dirty public secret was that its political hegemony rested on the Solid South, still refusing to vote Republican out of hatred of Lincoln. Johnson knew that if he pushed through the Civil Rights Act his party would lose the South for a generation. Or more. His heroism is that he did anyway. No, he did not end the race issue, but he broke the back of segregation.

The Republicans saw their opportunity. They pursued the Southern Strategy, wooing resentful whites with great success.

But two things happened.
Racism became less and less tenable. The generation that cherished it has grown old. That pillar of the Republican Party is crumbling.

And then along came Bush-Cheney. Like Herbert Hoover, in the process of leading the country to bankruptcy they demonstrated that the Republican Party’s ideas were also bankrupt. They made government bigger, not smaller—and more intrusive, too. They didn’t oppose special interests, they were the special interests. They didn’t oppose lobbyists, they forced lobbyists to join their party at fiscal gunpoint. They were militaristic on parade, but could not run a war. They could not protect the country, nor punish the people who actually attacked us. Their policies demonstrated that free markets are a fiction, and real markets need more supervision than a grade-school playground.

Along came John McCain.
He looked out, from sea to shining sea, from the mountains, to the prairies, in search of voters who would vote for him. All he could find were the new Know Nothings. People who, frightened of the way things are changing, want to change back to that white, Protestant place it was, oh, sometime back before 1840. America Firsters. Anti-immigrant. Anti-foreigner. Anti-elite. Anti-intelligence.

Not quite capable of running as a true Know Nothing himself, he chose someone who could: Sarah Palin. She does it well, and in so doing, shows us, clearly and simply, who they really are.

Yellow Pages Eulogy

A three foot stack of newsprint is one tree.

Rose, Nov 19th, 2008 at TechDirt:

Fingers on crutchesI manage a branch of a small, family-owned jewelry company. We pay thousands of dollars each year for our tiny listing in the Yellow Pages, just one of the several publishing companies that distribute phone books. Literally, thousands of dollars.

We were recently discussing our advertising budget and we talked about what a waste that money was. We’ve been tracking our results for a while now and we’ve found that the newspaper and the Internet are our two biggest draws, with the radio being a close third.

Our television ads were horrendously expensive and useless, and the only phone book related business we get is people calling us on the notion that we’re a different local business with a similar name.

We’ve decided not to renew out contracts. This is a very old, established company owned by people who are not computer or Internet savvy. One of them can answer their cell phone and the other can sort of check their e-mail. So even the people who I most thought would not like change recognize the uselessness of the phone book.

Mass distribution of unused paper. Silly.

First Religion

First religion, spirit, witch, medicine, shaman, doctor, womanI’m not sure that the deeper we dig the more we’ll learn.

The discovery that the first medicine man is a woman doesn’t surprise me one bit.

(AP, from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) — Archaeologists believe a 12,000-year-old skeleton found in a grave containing 50 tortoise shells, a leopard pelvis, a cow tail and part of an eagle wing is the remains of a witch doctor. [dumb term I think]

The skeleton, found at an excavation near the Sea of Galilee is believed to be that of a woman around 45 years old. The bones were found in a carefully carved oval grave with the skull resting on a tortoise shell. An additional 49 tortoise shells were in the grave, along with items such as a pestle and mortar and leopard pelvis.

This is the first proof ever of “such a kind of behavior” within this hunter-gatherer group. Keywords: first, religion, spirit, witch, medicine, shaman, doctor, woman, 12,000 years before Sarah Palin, leopard pelvis, cow tail, eagle’s wing.

In any case, she could choose a happy view, ey wot?

Carve and Leave

Oil survey damage, Mississippi DeltaThis is oil exploration that aches in the great Mississippi Delta, the required and valuable wetland cover.

Do you think river delta and gulf waters around the world are the same? Do you think it’s different in the Arctic or across deserts and prairie? Are boreal and tropical forests ripped like this? Will sea-bottom and ridge plains be cheap filet for oil?

Can life complain or water cry? Why does nature give profits but we are left with threat?

Big Oil Hurt Coast. So why doesn’t it pay for repairs?
by Dennis Woltering, tip to NOLadder.

innie, outie or smoothie

Is it true?

‘Dogs have no belly buttons, because their mothers gently chewed the wound from the umbilical chord, and licked them while they were healing, doing so until there’s virtually no scar from birth.’

no belly buttonThere’s heaps of folks with no belly button, including a well-paid fashion model with a ‘smoothie’ belly.

Well, I never. I’ve never thought of it before.

Answers.com has heaps of comments about a dog’s belly button. After birth the momma dog bites it in two and it dries and drops off, leaving the belly button. It’s not as prominent as a human one but it is there, if you look real close on the dogs tummy you will find it – just a small “innie”.