Friday, June 15, 2007

Civil Rights as Defined by Our Leaders

What the Justice Department fights for:
¶Intervening in federal court cases on behalf of religion-based groups like the Salvation Army that assert they have the right to discriminate in hiring in favor of people who share their beliefs even though they are running charitable programs with federal money.

¶Supporting groups that want to send home religious literature with schoolchildren; in one case, the government helped win the right of a group in Massachusetts to distribute candy canes as part of a religious message that the red stripes represented the blood of Christ.

¶Vigorously enforcing a law enacted by Congress in 2000 that allows churches and other places of worship to be free of some local zoning restrictions. The division has brought more than two dozen lawsuits on behalf of churches, synagogues and mosques.

¶Taking on far fewer hate crimes and cases in which local law enforcement officers may have violated someone’s civil rights. The resources for these traditional cases have instead been used to investigate trafficking cases, typically involving foreign women used in the sex trade, a favored issue of the religious right.

¶Sharply reducing the complex lawsuits that challenge voting plans that might dilute the strength of black voters. The department initiated only one such case through the early part of this year, compared with eight in a comparable period in the Clinton administration.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Natalie Neff on Internet Etiquette

Natalie is just about the only babe in all of North American auto-journalism. And she was apparently the target of gratuitous insults from a reader in response to which she felt a need to explain it all to us:
I felt compelled to share this e-mail with you to illustrate the simple point that an overreliance on technology can lead to a sort of mental laziness and, worse, the atrophy of some of our most basic skills. In our e-mailer’s case, I’m talking about decency.

We’ve all experienced the phenomenon, at some point been victims (and no doubt perpetrators) of the insulating effect that communication via QWERTY can have on our sense of common decency. We’ve all found insults fermenting in our mailboxes that no sober human being would dare unfurl to our faces, been emboldened to say normally frightful things thanks to the relative anonymity afforded by e-mail, where our basest thoughts may find easier expression in 10-point Times New Roman than through any deliberate articulation of the tongue.

Somehow, though, the insults hurt just as much, whether delivered in digital or analog.
P.S. I feel compelled to point out that however high she ranks as a babe and however much she knows her stuff (a lot, actually), she has been known to have her off days... well, actually, she once channeled Elizabeth Wurzel and her worst-ever piece for the New Yorker and wrote a piece that was, well, an auto wreck of an awful piece....

But on this she is of course dead on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Examples of Perversity and Dishonesty of Our Leaders' Communications

Yeah, yeah, all pols lie -- politics is about lying and corruption, at a certain level -- but Our Leaders and their enablers take it all to an untenable extreme.
Take this TomDispatch quiz and see if you can guess which quotes are too wild, or not wild enough, for the battling bureaucrats of the Bush administration. Let's start with a warm-up round:

1. At his January confirmation hearings, General David Petraeus, readying himself to command the President's "troop surge" in Baghdad and al-Anbar Province, promised to offer Congress periodic reports on how the plan was proceeding. No dates were offered. Within months, however, this vague promise had morphed into a specific September report to Congress and has now become a focus of endless, near-obsessional media attention and questions.

Is this September report regularly referred to as:

A. A Disaster Report

B. A Regress Report

C. A Baghdad Report

D. A Progress Report

The answer, of course, is D. And now that "victory" -- a word the President once used 15 times in a single speech -- has left the administration's fighting language, think of "progress" as the second team of words. No matter how badly things are going, "progress" (or its lack) remains the frame of reference for U.S. officials -- and for reporters asking questions. Typically, in a May 31st press briefing, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, Petraeus's second-in-command in Baghdad, and the reporters questioning him, managed to use the word no less than 23 times. ("We've made some very clear progress.... Anbar's economic and political progress.... But progress has been made.... Every day we are making progress…")

Now, let's make the questions just a tad harder.

2. Spokesman for the American military command in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, was recently asked about "progress" in the "Baghdad security situation." He responded:

A. "Progress will not be like flipping a light switch -- it will be gradual, it will be nuanced, it will be subtle."

B. "Progress is going to seem like a balky jeep. It will stall, it will kick, but sooner or later it will lurch forward."

C. "Progress isn't like a faucet. You can't just turn it on and get hot water."

D. "Progress will not be like a cruise missile. You can't just fire and forget."

The answer is A -- and, by the way, General Bergner, the last one out of Baghdad, please turn off the lights. (Oh, sorry, we never got them on in the first place.)

Now, here's your next puzzler and it's you against the mob.

3. Another reporter with "progress" on the brain recently asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates whether "the pace of progress [in Iraq] is sufficient or whether in fact it looks to you like the surge will have to last longer."

Gates responded with which of these images?

A. "I don't think that the goalpost has changed, really, at all."

B. "I think it's all still in the same ball park."

C. "There is a Baghdad clock and there is a Washington clock, and the people in Washington are also going to have to take into account the Washington clock.... Our military commanders should not have to worry about the Washington clock. That's for us in Washington to worry about."

If you guessed A, congratulations, you're right! Of course, if you guessed either B or C, you're still right. Gates used them all in the same press briefing on the same subject.

4. Actually, our Secretary of Defense seems to love sports imagery. Recently, explaining why a "long-term U.S. military presence" in the oil heartlands of the planet was crucial, Gates used which of the following sports analogies?

A. "It's important to remember that the September re-assessment is only the seventh-inning stretch, not the bottom of the ninth. Using the Korea model as a guide, we might even go into extra innings. We might be in Iraq until at least the bottom of the 15th."

B. "It's important to defend this country on the extremists' 10-yard line and not our 10-yard line"

C. "It's important for Team USA to win on the road in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and we can't allow the Bin Laden blitz to get into our backfield again."

D. "It's important for the insurgents to learn that we're the Harlem Globetrotters and they're the Washington Generals. I mean, of course they're not the literally the Washington Generals. My generals are the Washington generals, but also the Globetrotters. Well, you know what I mean."

By a process of elimination, you should have quickly reduced this foursome to a twosome. Neither baseball, nor basketball is smash-mouth enough for the Global Analogy-War against Terrorism and, in any case, for America's top officials, football has always been war (and vice-versa). So the answer is B.

5. And how about our military surge leader, General Petraeus, in Baghdad? He's been fretting about progress too. But what image did he reach for to make his point?

A. "We're in a horse race now. And our horse in Baghdad is simply slower than Washington's. We better figure out how to spike its oats fast."

B. "I learned at Princeton that there are many ways to measure progress. As you know you can actually progress backward, and backward progress is progress just the same. The important thing is to keep progressing, whether forward or backward, which we are doing, and in doing so we're showing the terrorists we're making progress and that, in itself, is progress."

C. "Clearly, we're in the pit and Washington's the pendulum and we better figure out how to climb out quick before the next IED goes off."

D. "We're racing against the clock, certainly. We're racing against the Washington clock, the London clock, a variety of other timepieces up there, and we've got to figure out how to speed up the Baghdad clock."

Since these turn out to be the months of onrushing clock analogies, if you guessed D, you're ticking right along. General Petraeus was evidently the first one to wind up that clock image and set the alarm. It now has all Washington on the clock.

6. U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad Lt. Col. Christopher C. Garver, facing the news that, according to the Washington Post, "May was the third-deadliest month for American troops in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and the casualties reported over the past few days indicate that the insurgency shows no sign of abating," had what response?

A. "The road to ruin is paved with cement."

B. "When the tough get going, the going gets easier."

C. "This is going to get harder before it gets easier."

D. "This is going to get harder before it gets harder."

Given the history of the last four years in Iraq, the answer to this one, hands down, should be D. But reality and history are so overrated! If you guessed C, you were right on the mark. (By the way, few of the examples in this quiz are unique. For instance, just a couple of days after Garver made his comment, Deputy Director for Regional Operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff Brig. Gen. Perry Wiggins said of the surge at a Pentagon news briefing: "So, you know, it's going to get harder before we make it -- or it gets any easier.")

7. In that same May 31st press briefing, General Odierno (his official title is: Commander, Multinational Corps-Iraq) was asked the following question: "General, it's Lolita Baldor with the Associated Press. You started out talking about some of the progress but also suggesting that it may take 60 to 90 days before you can see what impact the surge is having. At that pace, do you think you will be able to make an assessment within that 60-day window or do you think it's going to take longer to assess whether or not the surge is having an impact?"

Odierno responded with which play analogy?

A. "It's kind of like a jungle gym. Lose your grip past the turning point and you're likely to fall and hit your head on the ground."

B. "It's kind of like a teeter-totter; you work your way up the teeter-totter, and when you go past the tipping point, it happens very quickly, and we've seen that out in Anbar."

C. "It's kind of like a pogo stick. What goes up must come down – and vice-versa. We've experienced this in Baghdad."

D. "It's kind of like a slinky. A surge begins slowly but as it walks downstairs sooner or later it just springs toward the bottom."

The correct answer is: B. It seems the official pre-September surge assessment is that we're on a Baghdad teeter-totter, though our guess is that neighborhood playgrounds in the Iraqi capital aren't much in use these days.

8. Okay, let's up the ante here with a two-part question. One aspect of the President's "surge plan" turns out to involve the hope that the enemy's counter-surge will smash right into a wall. Literally. The U.S. military has been making plans to build giant walls around whole troubled neighborhoods in the Iraqi capital. Think of giant, grey slabs of concrete going up around your neighborhood. What kind of place, according to the military, do you now live in?

A. A terrarium

B. A prison

C. A gated community

D. A strategic hamlet

If it were 40+ years ago and the setting were Vietnam, D would be the correct euphemism, but today the answer is C naturally. Just like in Southern California! And who wouldn't want to be part of such an obviously upscale living arrangement?

Of course, you can't account for the tastes of foreigners. Strangely enough, when the first wall started going up around the Sunni community of Adhamiyah, people objected vociferously, leaving surge types somewhat on the defensive. When pressed on the subject recently, how did Dr. David Kilcullen, an Australian counterterrorism expert whose current position is Senior Counterinsurgency Adviser to General Petraeus (and who also likes to term such walled-in, embattled communities "gated") sum up the ongoing project?

A. "It's something you do when a patient is bleeding to death. But you don't leave it there forever or it causes damage."

B. "Good fences make good neighbors."

C. "Something there is that doesn't love a wall."

D. "Before I built a wall, I'd ask to know what I was walling in and walling out."

Yes, indeed, the answer is A. Dr. Kilcullen likes to think of these walls as "tourniquets" applied to bleeding Iraq. And you guessed it, the other three lines come from Robert Frost's poem, "Mending Wall."

9. Here's another two-parter. On Friday, Secretary of Defense Gates announced that he was not nominating Marine General Peter Pace to a second term as head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because he thought the congressional confirmation process would be "quite contentious" and possibly a "divisive ordeal." Instead, he picked Admiral Michael G. Mullen, whose record and views, he implied, would smooth the Congressional waters. What, then, has Adm. Mullen had to say about the President's Global War on Terror?

A. "I may be a Navy admiral, but I don't see us up to our eyeballs in millions of terrorists for a generation. I think this has all been overblown."

B. "Now is the time for sane policies that reflect a realistic assessment of the situation. With all due respect, I think we need a change of course and a fresh approach."

C. "Look, we can't go off half-cocked calling people ‘evil' and saying they hate us or they hate our freedom and democratic principles. Overblown rhetoric like that is unsophisticated, uninformed and won't do anything for us."

D. "The enemy now is basically evil and fundamentally hates everything we are -- the democratic principles for which we stand.... This war is going to go on for a long time. It's a generational war."

The answer is a hair-raising D.

Now for part 2: If you are one of the country's major newspapers -- yes, we're speaking of our hometown rag, the New York Times -- what do you label the admiral?

A. An Ideologue

B. An extremist

C. A pragmatist

D. A warmonger

It's C, naturally. (The paper's headline read: "Nominee for Joint Chiefs Is Called a Pragmatist.")

10. And how long will that "long war," which the admiral so likes to talk about, actually take? Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice evidently glanced at her own curious version of a clock the other day, and then addressed this question at a meeting with the Associated Press editorial board. Which of the following did she say?

A. "And I think that what this President has done is in some ways comparable to beginning to set up the long struggle that we are going to have to resolve, particularly the problem of the growth of extremism in the Middle East, which was clearly there underneath the surface and exploded on September 11th so that we finally knew what the real problem was."

B. "Now, will we see the end of all of this? Maybe not. But when you're confronted with a fundamentally changed strategic set of circumstances, you can try to put band-aids on it or you can say we're going to have to deal with the root problems here and it may take a long time and it may take successive administrations to succeed."

C. "But we know what we have to put in place so that successive administrations can succeed, and you don't get there by covering the problems or trying to find a temporary solution to them that isn't worth the paper that it's written on."

D. "We're here at the beginning of a big historic transformation, and some of them may still work out on our watch and some of them may not. But now if you -- if you -- with all due respect, if you try to judge what you should do by today's headlines, you miss the fact that history's judgment is rarely the same as today's headlines."

If you guessed A, B, C, and D, all said practically in a single breath, you were 100% correct. It took Condi a bare few minutes with the AP editorial board to extend the last six years of mayhem and catastrophe another easy 12-20 years into the future ("successive administrations"). So it turns out that, while Secretary of Defense Gates and General Petraeus are looking at clocks whose second and minute hands are speeding along far too fast for their taste, the new head of the Joint Chiefs and our Secretary of State have timepieces whose minutes pass in weeks, hours in months, and days in years.

11. When discussing American efforts to arm Sunni groups who now claim they are willing to fight al-Qaeda, what did Major General Rick Lynch, commander of the Third Infantry Division, recently say?

A. "We don't negotiate with terrorists, but sometimes we renegotiate who we call terrorists."

B. "This isn't a black and white place. There are good guys and bad guys and there are groups in between."

C. "You see... in this war, things get confused out there--power, ideals, the old morality and practical military necessity."

D. "We've had good success in operations like this before. Look at Afghanistan in the 80s. We armed Sunnis to fight the Soviets and we ultimately won that one. Imagine what we can produce by getting behind Sunni fighters in Iraq today!"

If you thought you could imagine an Army general intoning answer C, there's a reason. The line comes from the fictional General Corman in the film Apocalypse Now. The real answer is B. One wonders, however, how such thinking fits with the strict dichotomy of good and evil proffered by the likes of Admiral Mullen and Vice President Dick Cheney who, as it happens, is the subject of our bonus challenge.

Bonus Challenge: The ever-stalwart Dick (in the throes of being) Cheney recently got up before the graduating class at West Point and said, in part:

D. "The terrorists know what they want and they will stop at nothing to get it.... Their ultimate goal is to establish a totalitarian empire, a caliphate, with Baghdad as its capital. They view the world as a battlefield and they yearn to hit us again. And now they have chosen to make Iraq the central front in their war against civilization.... They are surging their capabilities, attacking Iraqi and American forces, and killing innocent civilians. America is fighting this enemy in Iraq because that is where they have gathered. We are there because, after 9/11, we decided to deny terrorists any safe haven."

Didn't he mean that, in Iraq, "we decided to deny terrorists any unsafe haven?" Anyway, yes, the answer is D. Now, it's up to you to create your own A, B, and C. Can you top Dick's "war against civilization"? Can you match him image for rabid image? Give it a shot.

After all, why should administration officials and military spokesmen be the only ones to run wild, guns cocked, in the fields of imagery, spraying everything in sight? Just remember though: When you're done, close the playground gate, shut down the ballpark, turn off the alarm on your clock, and turn out those lights. If you don't, I guarantee you, they won't.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our Leaders have Micro$oft's Back

The only reason would be the money.
In the most striking recent example of the policy shift, the top antitrust official at the Justice Department last month urged state prosecutors to reject a confidential antitrust complaint filed by Google that is tied to a consent decree that monitors Microsoft’s behavior. Google has accused Microsoft of designing its latest operating system, Vista, to discourage the use of Google’s desktop search program, lawyers involved in the case said.

The official, Thomas O. Barnett, an assistant attorney general, had until 2004 been a top antitrust partner at the law firm that has represented Microsoft in several antitrust disputes. At the firm, Justice Department officials said, he never worked on Microsoft matters. Still, for more than a year after arriving at the department, he removed himself from the case because of conflict of interest issues. Ethics lawyers ultimately cleared his involvement.

Mr. Barnett’s memo dismissing Google’s claims, sent to state attorneys general around the nation, alarmed many of them, they and other lawyers from five states said. Some state officials said they believed that Google’s complaint had merit. They also said that they could not recall receiving a request by any head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division to drop any inquiry.

Marching Ahead to Victory

Not only are we stuck in the Iraqi quagmire for no known, verified reason, we are working actively to prolong the mess:
Taking sides in the civil war wasn't a decision "for America" to make because the president had already decided to do so himself.

According to the New York Times, American commanders "earlier this year" began arming groups of Sunni insurgents who say they're willing to fight al-Qaida. In some cases, the Times says, the groups now getting American weapons and money are "suspected of involvement in past attacks on American troops or of having links to such groups."

They're also the same groups, of course, that are working to undermine the Iraqi government the Bush administration is trying to prop up.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch told reporters over the weekend that the United States wouldn't support any Sunni group that has attacked U.S. forces in the past. While that may be the case in Baghdad, the Times says the no-help-for-enemies ban appears to have been "set aside or loosely enforced in negotiations with the Sunni groups elsewhere, including Amiriya, where American units that have supported Sunni groups fighting to oust al-Qaida have told reporters they believe that the Sunni groups include insurgents who had fought the Americans."

Way to go, Bushie! You are an exemplar of leadership....

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Couple of Exemplars

Of 201 House Republicans, at least six are known to have attracted the attention of federal investigators - and four are from California. Their woes come in the wake of the lurid corruption scandal that sent ex-GOP Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham of San Diego to prison last year for taking $2.4 million in bribes.

Although their situations have a few common threads, some analysts attribute the cluster of California cases to coincidence, plus the state's large size and district lines drawn to protect incumbents.

"When your seat is so safe that you're not concerned about perception, you become too wedded to Washington and you lose touch with your constituency, and you lose touch with your real purpose," said Karen Hanretty, a Republican strategist and former California Republican Party spokeswoman.

Rep. John Doolittle, a nine-term Northern California conservative under investigation in the influence-peddling scandal around jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has his own theory about why federal corruption investigations seem to be concentrated in California.

"I think it's part of this manufactured culture of corruption that the Democrats have come up with and they decided to, given what's happened with Duke Cunningham, they decided that California Republicans on the Appropriations Committee would be a great place to start," said Doolittle, who plans to seek re-election next year.

The ethics cloud is discouraging the party faithful who've already watched the GOP shrink to minority status in California. And they add to the dilemmas of Republican strategists aiming to retake Congress next year following election losses blamed partly on GOP ethics problems.

"There is a sort of feeling among Republican activists who work hard to elect Republicans of, 'What the heck is going on here?'" said Los Angeles GOP analyst Allan Hoffenblum.

Republican Rep. Richard Pombo was chairman of the House Resources Committee when he lost in a GOP-leaning Central California district last November amid questions about his ties to Abramoff.

That reduced the number of Republicans in the nation's largest congressional delegation to 19, the lowest since their numbers shrank from 24 once district lines were redrawn after the 2000 census.

There are 33 Democrats from California, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, and none are known to be facing active FBI scrutiny. A 34th California Democratic seat is vacant after the cancer death in April of Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald.

The GOP hopes to take back Pombo's seat next year. The districts of the four incumbents with ethics issues are heavily Republican, and will probably stay in GOP hands.

But their problems make them less valuable allies for Republican presidential candidates looking to compete in California's primary, newly advanced to February. And the ethics clouds discourage a GOP base already chafing at moderate Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's constant compromises with Democrats.

"This is presenting a huge distraction from the debate over ideas that really needs to happen in terms of who's going to control Congress," said Jon Fleischman, a GOP activist in Orange County. "It creates a degree of cynicism that is certainly real."

Besides Doolittle, California Republicans with ethics problems are:

_Rep. Jerry Lewis, now in his 15th term and chairman of the Appropriations Committee last year when federal prosecutors in Los Angeles began investigating his ties to a lobbyist with clients in his district.

_Rep. Gary Miller, in his fifth term, who's drawn scrutiny over a tax deferral strategy he used in a profitable real estate sale to a Southern California town outside his district.

_Rep. Ken Calvert, in his eighth term, who denies any conflict over pushing federal funding for a planned freeway interchange 16 miles from property he sold at a profit. The FBI pulled Calvert's financial disclosure forms a year ago, but he says there's no evidence he's under active investigation.

The four deny wrongdoing, and it's not clear that Miller, Calvert or Lewis are in immediate legal or political jeopardy. Not so with Doolittle, who barely won re-election last year in one of the most heavily Republican districts in California.

Many local officials still publicly back him, but some Republicans in Doolittle's district are starting to say they can't risk having him as their nominee.

"The fact of the matter is John Doolittle will be defeated by a Democratic candidate in an overwhelmingly Republican district because of the ethical morass of his own creation," said Steve Schmidt, a former White House adviser who backs a potential primary challenge by Eric Egland, a former Doolittle supporter.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tell me that these People Really aren't F^cking Nuts

Ahh, a blast from the past....
It all started, apparently, with this photo of several "a-list" liberal bloggers. It seems that conservative Ann Althouse took issue with Feministing Jessica Valenti's breasts ... and that nutter Reynolds and other buttheads and beavises got off on how Jessica gets off having breasts.
Says Althouse from a very high horse:
Making this colloquy into this new blog post, I actually click over to Jessica's blog, and what the hell? The banner displays silhouettes of women with big breasts (the kind that Thelma and Louise get pissed off at when they're seen on truck mudflaps). She's got an ad in the sidebar for one of her own products, which is a tank top with the same breasty silhouette, stretched over the breasts of a model. And one of the top posts is a big closeup on breasts.
Lovely insight there, Ann. Did they ban the concept of irony from your university?
Sooooo... apparently, Jessica writes one of those blogs that are all about using breasts for extra attention. Then, when she goes to meet Clinton, she wears a tight knit top that draws attention to her breasts and stands right in front of him and positions herself to make her breasts as obvious as possible?
The sexual hang-ups apparent in right-wing Clinton obsession are well known by now, so this boob-phobic bombast should be expected, I suppose. Even the juvenile Beavis and Butthead-worthy sentiments in the comments threads trod the well-worn ground of little green-with-envy right-wing bloggers.
But really, Ann, Glenn and you other dittoheads seemingly driven by nether puckering over other people's bodies and sexuality, this is 2006. It's been 23 years since Madonna danced around in lace singing "Lucky Star" on MTV. It should not be a big shocker to consider that women are entitled to their sexuality.
But of course, that's the "problem," isn't it? Women claiming independence from patriarchal claims on their sexuality? That's why all this fuss over Plan B, sex education, the cervical cancer vaccine, reproductive rights and the ERA, right? Women (and our breasts) should know our place, right?
Guys love breasts. I think Jessica knows that quite well. And I think for all her gasping outrage, she's thoroughly pleased to get this attention.
And that somehow seems to be wrong, according to Althouse. Women must not be sexual. That is wrong. That is dangerous. That threatens the self-control of men. It threatens men's control of women.
Women can only be free of they self-abnegate their sexuality, according to our good professor. The straw-feminist must be pilloried! Break out the burqas!
Jessica responds:
You know, I was psyched to be invited to this lunch and was feeling pretty honored. But then things like this remind me that no matter what I do or accomplish, because I'm a young woman all I'm good for is fodder for tacky intern jokes and comments that I don't "represent feminist values" because of the way I posed in a picture.
What's worse is that this comes from other women, other progressives, and other supposed feminists. How are we supposed to move forward as a movement if we're busy bashing each other with this ridiculousness?
For more on Althouse's boob obsession:

Anyway, about breasts. My feminist view on them is a very simple one: they are the property of the person who has them on her chest, having breasts does not preclude having brains and having breasts is perfectly acceptable in the public sphere. And women are not responsible for controlling the reactions of some men to the presence of breasts, women don't have to don burqas for the sake of these men or to bind their breasts, either....
...Sadly, the pragmatic approach often boils down to choosing the least unpleasant of the available options and the Democratic party is still the better choice for feminists, especially now that the Republicans have handed over all posts having to do with women's rights to their Taliban section.
zuzu at Feministe:
Althouse wasn’t the only one trying to put Jessica in her place; as I also mentioned, there were any number of commenters across the progressive blogosphere that made comments about Jessica’s fuckability. They didn’t know who she was, or why she was there, but they sure as hell felt free to speculate that it had something to do with sex.
Even those defending Jessica have often focused on the appropriateness of her posture, her pose, her clothing and her smile, as if those were really the issues. They’re not. The issue is that Jessica was invited to that lunch because of her accomplishments and her intelligence, but people like the commenters discussing her fuckability and Althouse criticizing her for having breasts are reminding her that no matter how much she’s accomplished in her life, no matter how smart she is, she doesn’t really belong in that group.
In other words, they smacked her down for being so uppity as to think that she had the right to be there.
(She also calls out some pertinent questions about the (lack of) racial diversity at this lunch in Harlem. Liza Sabater wonders, too. So does Elayne Riggs. Pam Spaulding has a thoughtful post on the dynamics and demands of blogging politics, and how that can shake out in the A, "B, C, D lists of Blogistan.")
Jill at Feministe:
Ann then accuses Jessica of not being a “real” feminist (compared, apparently, to… Ann…), and tells her that she’s misappropriated the word feminism and has done nothing for the movement....
I know [Jessica]'s inspired many more than just me. And talking about her breasts all the live-long day won’t change the fact that she is an amazing, brilliant, good human being who I’m sure will shape the world in more positive ways than Ann Althouse could ever aspire to.
What Jessica did wrong was show up at a political event in a female body. End of story. Ann, you should be ashamed.
Stone Court's Fred Vincy:
Who Killed Feminism?
Ann Althouse solves the mystery.
Last week, it was Ann Bartow and Belle Lettre, for not joining in the hilarity of David Lat's "hottest ERISA lawyer contest" and pointing out that being featured against one's will on a prominent website as a "hottie" might not be the best thing for a lawyer's career or psyche. ("I wonder if Belle has considered whether this grim, censorious, humorless -- nay, humor-phobic -- attitude helps women. I know you want to be taken seriously, but being so intent on being taken seriously is one of the main things that make people want to mock you. And not just you, but feminism.")
This week, it's Jessica Valenti for daring to stand up straight when she met with President Clinton.
Althouse seems to think feminism would be thriving, if only we didn't have all those feminists....
egalia at Tennessee Guerilla Women wonders:
Would Althouse really be happy if Jessica were to bind her breasts, don a mumu, and cast her humbled gaze toward the floor?

No sense, no shame, and Big Media gives them a scintilla of credibility....

A Momentary Lapse: Chris Matthews is Right about Something

Of course, problem is he's dissing our next President....
I agree with what Fareed Zakaria wrote in “Newsweek” this week, which is terrorism isn‘t explosions and death, terrorism is when you change your society because of those explosions and you become fearful to the point where you shut out immigration, you shut out student exchanges, you shut people out of buildings, you begin to act in an almost fascist manner because you‘re afraid of what might happen to you. That‘s when terrorism becomes real and frighteningly successful. That‘s what I believe, and that‘s why I question the way Giuliani has raised this issue. He raises it as a specter. In a weird way, he helps the bad guys.

Memorial Day 2007; Conclusion