Posts filed under ‘Current Events’

The Queen of Rage

Cover of "The Stepford Wives"

Cover of The Stepford Wives

Usually whenever some Fox news pundit goes on and on like a broken record about the liberal bias of the mainstream media, I have to laugh. However, the conservatives have a point when they bring up the latest Newsweek cover of Michelle Bachman. They titled the cover story, “Queen of Rage,” and they have a photo of Bachman looking like a mildly surprised homicidal Stepford Wife.

Tina Brown, the female editor of Newsweek, has worked overtime at implying that Bachman is crazy. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bachman is no friend of mine, and she certainly is no friend of the feminists. However, that doesn’t mean that tactics like Brown’s are acceptable in an attempt to make her unpalatable to Iowa voters.

Here we have a woman who’s running for the office of President of the United States of America. Ask yourself this: would any man who’s running for President be treated with the same indignity? I think the answer is no. So, is the Newsweek cover blatantly sexist? You bet your sweet bippy it is.

You don’t need to go searching through the galleries until you come up with the one photo of Michelle Bachman that’s actually unattractive. I mean, just how long and hard did Tina Brown have to search to come up with a single photo of Bachman that’s not flattering? My guess is: hours. In fact, the woman is so beautiful that I’m going to have to see her and Sarah Palin in a room together before I’m convinced that they aren’t the same person.

Michelle Bachman can be called a lot of things, including, perhaps, legitimately crazy and even dangerously simple-minded, but the way we judge those things shouldn’t be based on her appearance, but rather based on the substance of her campaign, her platform, her speeches, her words. There’s lots of fuel for the fire there.

Shame on Tina Brown for resorting to this kind of yellow journalism. It’s like a one-sided catfight in print. It’s the picture that was substituted where a thousand words would do. And Brown makes the loonies at Fox News actually right for once. She also makes me, as a feminist, have to defend a woman whose politics I abhor.

August 11, 2011 at 12:34 am 8 comments

The 99%

Classic General Electric neon sign, in Willaco...

Image via Wikipedia

An article in Vanity Fair from the May edition (the one with Rob Lowe on the cover) talks about income disparity in America. I’m sure it’s nothing that people in America don’t already intrinsically sense, but just in case you missed it: 1% of the people in America make 25% of the income, and the same 1% own 40% of its assets.

Instead of being the land of opportunity it dreamily advertises, America is on par with Russia and Iran in terms of the disparity between its haves and its have nots. This only addresses the top 1%: the wealthiest of the wealthy. Income and wealth distribution in America is much more unfair when you factor in divisions amongst the remaining 99%.

Once upon a time in America, this was a land of opportunity. Our founding fathers and subsequent leaders wanted to ensure an equality of opportunity (or at least as much of one as possible) and fought to keep America from becoming like a feudal European state. Part of the point of having a graduated income tax and estate and capital gains taxes and anti-trust laws was to keep the wealthy from, in effect, owning the country and then having those wealthy pass it on to their children. And so on and so on and so on, in perpetuity.

Now the rich get around these laws with special tax breaks for big corporations and the wealthy. I’m not anti-business. I’m not even anti-big business. The problem is when I hear that multi-billion dollar behemoths like General Electric paid no federal taxes last year. That’s something I take issue with.

The problem is when I see executives that make millions of dollars a year go unscathed after they make unethical decisions that cost “regular” people their jobs and their homes. That they haven’t been prosecuted is something I intend to remember in the next Presidential election.

The 1% elect other members of the 1% to represent the 1% and the interests of big business (not surprisingly, how much of the 1% makes its money). The 1% funds the campaigns of the 1% it elects. They fund the lobbyists who barrage the lawmakers with their requests on behalf of the 1%.

But there will be a day of reckoning. Make no mistake about it. I hope that day of reckoning will just be a day at the polls. One day the 99% will wake up and see what’s going on, and I only hope that the 1% make adjustments towards greater equality before that happens. I hate to think about what else could happen. Read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Ask Anistasia. Ask Marie Antoinette.

Now, since I sometimes criticize certain conservative politicians for bitching about problems without solving them, I would like to propose some prospective solutions. For one thing, we have laws in place to protect consumers in this country. It’s time we started enforcing them. Let Elizabeth Warren head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and give her the power and influence necessary to carry out her job instead of being a mere figurehead.

Take away all the special tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthy. Who are the wealthy, you might ask? Well, that probably depends on the size of a person’s family and the number of his dependents. However, I think most people in America would consider themselves very fortunate to make a six-figure income. Certainly, if you are making $250,000 a year, then I don’t care if you’re the Duggards or the Browns of The Sister Wives, you couldn’t possibly have enough children to be hurting on a quarter of a million dollars a year. No “special” tax credits for you.

With 401(k) plans, the government makes employers conduct something called nondiscrimination testing on an annual basis. If the rank and file workers in a company are making a disproportionate percentage of income compared with a company’s officers and upper management, then the upper management doesn’t get to sock away as much money on a tax free basis. These people received distributions from their 401(k) plans, and they are taxed on them at the normal rate…or they have to find other tax loopholes created for the wealthy. I have no doubt that there are some.

How about doing nondiscrimination testing on salaries as well. Establish a percentage that seems reasonable, and then for every dollar they make above what’s considered a fair amount, tax the hell out of it at a higher percentage rate. It’s unconscionable that executives, officers, and managers at a corporation should make well over 10, 20, or 30 times the salaries of the typical worker.

It’s immoral when these executives take all of the credit for a company’s success and none of the risk or the blame when it fails. A company’s success or failure depends on all of its workforce. I’m not advocating equal pay for everyone regardless of risk, stress, education, experience, and competence level. What I am saying is that it’s wrong for a few men to make billions of dollars while the men who work hard to keep his company afloat have to apply for food stamps and Medicaid when the company flourishes and get pink slips when it doesn’t.

I don’t expect that this post will get much traffic or inspire much thought or change. I expect things to remain in the status quo, right where they have been for the most part since Ronald Reagan was elected. I had hoped that Obama might accomplish change, but apart from his health care plan, I see little that has changed. And the health care plan hasn’t taken effect yet. If the Republicans and Tea Party revelers have their way, it never will.

http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105

July 1, 2011 at 1:44 am 1 comment

Reese Witherspoon Tells It Like It Is

Actress Reese Witherspoon in the Oval Office o...

Image via Wikipedia

Reese Witherspoon just made points with me, big time. She accepted an award at the MTV Movie Awards. In her acceptance speech she slammed reality stars who got famous making porn tapes and sexting nude photos. Witherspoon said that she was afraid that lots of teenagers were getting the message that that’s the way to get famous. Then she said that she vowed to make being a “good girl” look cool.

No secret just who her messages were meant for. Blake Lively, Vanessa Hutchens, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, stand up and take a bow. Recently, Laurence Fishburne’s daughter, Montana, made her porn debut because she believed that it would catapult her legitimate acting career. Why not? How many of us believe that Kim’s sex tape being released was an accident? I don’t. It’s more than just a “coincidence” that Paris and Kim are close friends.

These women who make sex tapes and send nude photos on the internet make a pretense of a lawsuit, cry on command for television talk shows, and always claim that the videos were “private,” and that they were in love. But it’s interesting to note just how often these women actually end up receiving a substantial percentage of the profits from the resulting home video sales. Just how badly did they really protest? How hard did they really fight to keep that moment “private”?

Once upon a time, in an America far, far away, if you made a homemade sex tape, and it was found and distributed, then your career was hurt. Not so, anymore. Maybe Rob Lowe should think about re-releasing his. Couldn’t hurt. I think he could probably do it legally in Thailand. Think about how it might increase the foreign receipts on his movie DVDs.

I never had any special affinity for Reese Witherspoon, but I sure as hell do now. It took a lot of courage for her to get up on that stage in front of Hollywood and say that. But it needs to be said.

As a word of advice, ladies, whether or not you want to be a porn star is no longer in your hands the moment that you agree to let anyone tape you having sex. You are now a porn star. I don’t care if it’s a stranger, a friend, a lover, a boyfriend, or even your husband, if you allow someone to tape you while you are having sex then you deserve what’s coming to you. Ooops. Scratch that. If what’s coming to you is fame and money, then you sure as hell didn’t earn it. If what you experience instead is shame, then you earned every minute of it.

When a man wants to make a “private” sex video what he’s saying is that he is devaluing what should be an actual private and special moment. You can rest assured that he’s not taping it for himself. He’s taping it so he has a record and something he can show to his buddies, in a best case scenario.

Here’s a news flash. Any man who’s in love with you (and some who aren’t) is going to have an indelible, virtual photo gallery of Polaroids in his head from your lovemaking. He can pull those out of his brain anytime he wants to use them. He doesn’t need any reminding.

Do you value yourself so little that you’re willing to share yourself sexually with the world? If so, then I hope that reality show and the monthly check from the video proceeds can help you buy back your self-esteem.

http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/06/reese-witherspoon-slams-stars-who-make-sex-tapes/?iref=obinsite

June 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm Leave a comment

Be Prepared: Mutual of Wichita Rape Insurance

Hi. You might not know me. I’m Kansas State Representative Pete DeGlaaf (R), and I love women and babies. In fact, I just kissed a baby 5 minutes ago. You missed it. During a recent house debate my colleagues and I were discussing a motion to make private health coverage for abortions illegal. I mentioned that women who were the survivors of rape or incest might just want to be prepared.

I mean, after all, I have a spare tire. I have life insurance. Why shouldn’t we expect women to plan ahead for these inevitable contingencies of life? Isn’t that what being a responsible adult is all about? We have fire insurance and flood insurance. Why shouldn’t we have rape insurance, too?

That’s when it occurred to me that I had come upon an excellent business plan, inadvertently. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t take advantage of my accidental flash of entrepreneurial genius! First, I googled to make sure that there wasn’t already a rape insurance policy out there.

It turns out there is, but it’s only available in South Africa. So, I thought why can’t we be like the progressive people of South Africa and offer this service to American women? I contacted my friends at Mutual of Wichita. They felt exactly the same way, and they made it happen.

I’m now pleased to announce that you can purchase Mutual of Wichita Rape Insurance at a very affordable rate. You can, like a Boy Scout, be prepared for life’s emergencies, such as random acts of penis. What does it cost? Well, the monthly premium is very affordable. And like life insurance, we base it on amortization tables designed to minimize risk. But any woman* can afford rape insurance.

Affordable Monthly Premiums

Girl, 18 & Under, Virgin

$75

Adult Virgin

$45

Female, Experienced, under 30

$35

Female over 30

$25

MILF

$30

Grandmother

$15

Cougar

$20

Crone

$10

Actress

$65

Model

$75

You might ask, what is the deductible, Pete? And again, it’s very affordable. The deductible is only $800. That’s right! $800! For the mere cost of a rape kit, you can start taking advantage of your rape insurance coverage.

What does rape insurance cover? I’m glad you asked. There are two options available for women. Both options, working, of course, in conjunction with your health care provider and your employer’s EAP, will pay for a portion of 8 counseling sessions with a qualified, approved Christian counselor.

We will pay, in conjunction with your health care provider, for a portion of the health care costs associated with the rape, up to and including the morning after pill, four AIDS tests, the recommended AZT cocktail, and a full test panel for STDs. We will also pay for your ultrasound and prenatal care and labor costs, if necessary.

For those of you that are victims of rape and incest, I am truly sorry. If, after 8 weekly sessions, your qualified, approved Christian counselor determines that an abortion is necessary for your mental health, then it will be covered after certain secondary requirements are met.

The Jaycee Duggard Plan The Joan Crawford Plan
Counseling Counseling
Health Care Health Care
Ultrasound Ultrasound
Pre-Natal & Delivery Polygraph Test
College Trust Fund Wire Hanger
Tea Kettle
Hydrogen Peroxide
Mirror
One Gallon of Distilled Water
2 Tea Towels
1 Box of Sanitary Napkins

We will, of course, require you to submit to a polygraph test and an ultrasound. If the polygraph determines that you have, indeed, been the victim of a rape or incest, then we will provide you with a coat hanger, a teakettle, a bottle of distilled water, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a small hand-held mirror, and one night in a private hospital room. If you absolutely must kill babies, then that burden should be on you alone. This is called the Joan Crawford Plan.

For those of you that aren’t baby killers, we have the Jaycee Duggard Plan. This option covers not only your medical costs associated with gestation and labor but also provides your rapist’s baby with a college education, regardless of whether or not you decide to keep the baby. That’s right. You can give your baby up to a loving, caring, Christian family that’s just waiting for a bundle of joy and rest assured that your child will receive a college education at an approved Christian college.**

But wait!! That’s not all. If you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, to a panel of Christian clerics and medical experts, that you were a virgin prior to your assault, then you will receive an extra $10,000 for pain and suffering to be spent in any way you deem fit. You can also qualify for discounts on your insurance premiums if you agree to carry pepper spray, take a self defense course and never leave your home without your arms, legs, ankles and decolletage fully covered. We will provide an additional discount if you wear a burka or another full head and face covering.

*  Mutual of Wichita Rape Insurance doesn’t cover strippers, massage therapists, sex workers or transgender women. Pre-existing conditions such as prior sexual abuse can disqualify you for coverage as well.

** Approved Christian colleges include Liberty University, Bob Jones University, and Oral Roberts University.

Disclaimer: I am not Pete DeGlaaf or Pete DeGraaf, the dumbass Republican member of the Kansas State House of Representatives. This “advertisement” is a satire meant to call attention to the stupidity and misogyny of Representative Pete DeGraaf of Kansas.

http://www.kansasvotes.org/Legislator.aspx?ID=16863

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-05-31/opinion/granderson.rape.abortion_1_incest-victims-abortion-sharron-angle?_s=PM:OPINION

June 2, 2011 at 2:56 am 1 comment

Love Should Be Multiplied, Not Divided

Sister wives

Image by Elizabeth Haslam via Flickr

The recent popularity of HBO’s series about polygamists in the Fundamentalist Mormon Church has spawned a TLC reality show. Again, Wal-Mart has corrupted me into buying immoral DVDs with a ridiculous price of $13 for the entire first season of Sister Wives. Why, why, why do I feel compelled to watch such trash? Well, it seemed like a kind of interesting sociological experiment for $13 and also seemed like a series that might be full of fodder for a feminist dissection.

The problem is that these people are so wholesome and loving and sane that it’s just impossible to have a bitch fest on them. I can’t do it. The lifestyle isn’t for me. I see the appeal, and not just from a reproductive standpoint. Obviously, a man with more than one wife can produce more children than, say, the opposite scenario. But the appealing thing is having more than just two adults to share household duties and obligations with. Hillary said it takes a village, and these people are their own village.

In the beginning we meet Kody Brown and his three wives, Meri, Janelle, and Christine. We meet their thirteen children. We get to see old pictures and hear the courtship stories of all three women. This isn’t some compound where boys are abused and girls are married off to old men at the age of 12. All three wives were adults who made the decision to enter a plural marriage.

The first wife, Meri, knew that she would not be the only wife when she married Kody. In fact, she seems to be the jolly matchmaker. Janelle jokes that Meri is in mergers and acquisitions, and no one gets to Kody without first bonding with Meri.

Janelle works outside the home, and Meri works and attends college. All three women say that they just want to raise healthy and happy, productive members of society. If the children choose not to engage in polygamy or to leave the faith of their upbringing, that will be okay as long as they are making their own choices. Above all, they want their children to have the freedom to choose for themselves. Janelle even lectures her girls that they will be finishing college before they get married.

I’d like to denounce these people for their “perverted” lifestyle, but it’s just not the case. Everyone’s needs are being met. Sure, the women experience some jealousy, especially when Kody brings on a fourth wife, Robin. But all four of these wives have a loving and considerate husband. A lot of other women would give up 100% of their one shitty husband to trade for 25% of a good one. And I realize that it’s a reality series. How ideal their domestic bliss seems probably has more to do with the editors than it has to do with “reality.” But these women seem significantly happier than Kate Gosselin, even after she dumped Jon.

Like I said, it’s not for me. I wouldn’t endorse the lifestyle or the religion. However, this is America. As long as the adults involved are consenting and no one is being abused or coerced, the children are well provided for, and the welfare system isn’t being abused…then what business is it of ours?

May 12, 2011 at 11:26 pm 3 comments

Greg Mortenson & 60 Minutes

Greg Mortenson in Afghanistan 3500ppx

Image via Wikipedia

Previously I’ve written about Greg Mortenson, his non-profit, the Central Asia Institute, and his book about his journey to build schools for the children of rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. The book is called Three Cups of Tea, and its accuracy has been called into question by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes and journalist Jon Krakauer. In addition to alleging that Mortenson’s autobiography is less than truthful (remind anyone of James Frey?), there are even more serious allegations of money mismanagement.

In addition to the tall tales that Mortenson supposedly told in his books, Krakauer and 60 Minutes  are saying that Mortenson has not built as many schools as he claims he has.  Many of the schools Mortenson claims that CAI has built or is funding are not currently functioning. Central Asia Institute has only furnished one audited financial statement in its 14 years. Several board members have quit over misgivings about financial accountability. And Mortenson’s travel costs are paid for by CAI while Mortenson himself retains speaking fees for speaking engagements and promotional tours for his books. The proceeds from the books go to Mortenson and not to the institute.

Some of the allegations here shouldn’t be terribly shocking to anyone who read Mortenson’s book. Mortenson himself admits that he is a poor planner, ineffective with time management, money management, and people management. But for some reason he has a knack with the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And no one is alleging that he isn’t an effective advocate for girls’ education in developing countries. No one is stating that he hasn’t vastly improved the lives of literally thousands of children. What they are claiming is that Mortenson has not been a good steward of CAI resources and that perhaps he’s indulged in some tall tales or some creative license with his story.

In one portion of the scandalous expose, 60 Minutes interviews a man that Mortenson identifies in a photo from his book as a member of the Taliban who kidnapped him for several days. Kroft interviews the man, and the man says he’s not Taliban and that he didn’t kidnap Mortenson. But honestly, if you were a member of the Taliban or if you had kidnapped someone, would it be in your best interest to admit to it on American national television? Why would we take this guy’s word at face value any more than we would Mortenson’s? And what due diligence did 60 Minutes undertake to ensure that this guy really was who and what he claims to be? We’re not told.

Three Cups of Tea was co-written by a seasoned journalist named David Oliver Relin. I have a hard time believing that he didn’t do any research on Greg Mortenson and his claims. After all, his professional reputation was on the line. I’d be interested in getting his take on things. Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times has asked that the public reserve judgment about Mortenson. Kristof is unimpeachable.

As for 60 Minutes and Krakauer, I’d like to say that, to be fair, the piece isn’t a complete hatchet job. Kroft indulges in some sensationalism in following Mortenson to a public book signing. Shame on you for grandstanding, Steve Kroft! It’s beneath you. And Krakauer may feel duped for having given $75,000 to a man who’s perhaps been less than truthful. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s envious of Mortenson’s greater success with his books. Krakauer wrote two bestsellers, one of which was made into a movie that was directed by Sean Penn. But his books haven’t sold as many copies as Greg’s, and Jon Krakauer probably can’t command the same speaking fees. Maybe his motivations are not entirely pure.

Even if Greg Mortenson has done a lot of good in the world, as I’m sure he has, he should still be held accountable. At the very least, Mortenson should start freely sharing audited financial statements on an annual basis. I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone contribute one penny to CAI until this happens. Mortenson himself has admitted that he’s a lousy businessman. Why shouldn’t he continue to be the front man for his charity and hire someone else who’s experienced and knowledgeable to handle the day to day nitty gritty of being CAI’s executive director? I am sure that there are plenty of qualified individuals who would love the challenge of reforming such a worthy charity.

60 Minutes has tried to turn a hero into a charlatan. The truth is most likely somewhere between those two extremes. The jury’s still out on this matter, as far as I’m concerned. However, there are many questions that need to be answered. If Greg Mortenson is really concerned with helping the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan, then he’ll do his best to answer those questions honestly and to behave honorably with regards to the money that has been entrusted to him for those children’s welfare. Mr. Mortenson, the excuse of naivete will only get you so far. It’s time to grow up and do the right thing.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7363068n

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/15/60minutes/main20054397.shtml

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/greg-mortenson-author-of-three-cups-of-tea-nicholas-kristof-and-others-respond-to-the-controversy/2011/04/19/AFo6Zt4D_blog.html

http://danielglick.net/2011/04/60-minutes-expose-on-three-cups-of-tea-is-weak-–-and-wrong/

April 26, 2011 at 12:27 am Leave a comment

Aging Italian Lothario

Silvio Berlusconi in a meeting

Image via Wikipedia

We all know that I like to read. I was reading last week’s issue of The New Yorker when I came across an article on Italy and Italy’s Prime Minister, Sylvio Berlusconi. And you thought the title of Italian Lothario was going to be a puff piece on George Clooney! Berlusconi is currently the European leader who’s been in office the longest but not consecutively.

He’s embroiled in a controversy that involves a sex scandal, a divorce, allegations of government corruption, and sex with teenage girls. In Italy the age of consent is 16, but paying for sex is illegal. It’s alleged that Berlusconi, in his 70s, paid for sex with underage girls.

The article that I read in The New Yorker made it sound like Berlusconi’s sexual exploits are not only tolerated but virtually approved. It sounds like in Italian culture the primary qualification for public office might be the ability to get an erection. Maybe if both candidates have access to Levitra, they measure penises in order to find out who will be the better leader. Okay. That’s an exaggeration but not much of one. It is a heavily sexist, machismo culture.

Berlusconi describes his politics as moderate right, and he hangs on to the number of votes he needs to retain office by the skin of his teeth and with the help of another political party called the Northern League. The Northern League is dedicated to making the money in the North stay in the North and tends to be divisive. However, they say if Berlusconi will back what they term “fiscal federalism,” they’ll stand behind him.

But I gotta wonder why this guy is Prime Minister. Clinton couldn’t keep it in his pants, either, but at least our economy thrived while he was in office. And as far as I know he wasn’t playing the cigar game with teenage girls. He also wasn’t objectifying women or rewarding political positions to women that are basically based on whether or not he wanted to nail them.

Sure enough, if you can ignore the allegations of paying for sex or paying for sex with underage girls, then there’s the problems of this yahoo’s mismanagement. Corruption (in the form of bribery) abounds. The unemployment rate is high, particularly amongst young people, and those that are employed are mostly underpaid. They are second only to Greece in terms of debt ratios of European Union Nations.

It begs the question of how an effective businessman can manage to run his nation’s economy into the ground while he’s busy throwing parties to rival Hugh Hefner. Berlusconi has escaped criticism so far because he actually owns all 3 television networks in Italy. That’s not a conflict of interest. Not at all. It’s like if Rupert Murdoch ran for President, if Rupert Murdoch also purchased ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN. I shudder to think.

Berlusconi works to make sure that his country sees only positive images of him. He squashes anyone who protests or opposes him in the court of public opinion. Mostly, the message is that anyone who criticizes him must be partisan and leftist, as well as disloyal to Italy.

The tide is turning. Some Italians are finally tired of this guy’s nonsense. Guess who’s one of the groups leading the charge. Just guess. Feminists. They recognize this dick for just what he is. In case you were inclined to feel sorry for this dirty old man, just keep in mind that this is a man who also calls Muammar Ghadafi his dear friend.

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/silvio_berlusconi/index.html

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/12/13/world/europe/1247466111431/an-attack-on-silvio-berlusconi.html?ref=silvioberlusconi

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/20/berlusconi-italian-women-backlash

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2011/04/11/110411crat_atlarge_parks

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/feminists-for-the-italian-future/

April 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm 1 comment

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