Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New Blogger

This blog is now on the new blogger. I was sure that everything would be ruined with the move (all my lovely add-ons dropped out, my blogroll decimated) that I stuck fingers in my ears and went nananah-can't-hear-you whenever the Blogger gently suggested that I move. Then they started playing hardball and told me that I'd have only one more chance before they kicked me and my puny blog across the threshold by force. So last night it happened.

And to my great frustration I can't find anything that has gone wrong after the move. Which might mean that I could have done the move much earlier. Or perhaps that it was a good thing to wait until all the bugs I read about were fixed.

See how I can contort everything to my own liking? It's the snake genes.

On Naughty Words And Blogging

The filthy language of many bloggers causes tut-tutting all over the Beltway and leads into campaigns such as the one I discuss below (in that post where I blew my stack which a blogger is never allowed to do because now we know that bloggers blow their stacks!). I get very angry at this horror of the naughty words but not because I would like filthy language. I hardly ever use it in my private life and I use it in blogging only when no other word quite says what I want to say. The value of a naughty word in an unexpected place is that it can shock someone into reading or listening in a different way, and sometimes filthy words are all one can choose to describe something much filthier. The killing of civilians at war, for example.

So I get angry at those who find naughty words horrible but who don't mind death and violence, as long as we talk about it in euphemisms. It is the two-facedness of this which is filthy, much filthier than any word I can think of. And this is what so much of the discussion about the horrible bloggers amounts to: If you only talked about beheading and hanging people nicely, with flowery descriptions of the ruby-red blood and the quivering intestines, well, that would be acceptable. It's also fine to crow over the death and destruction of your enemies or people who look like your enemies. But if you describe these violent scenes and swear, then you are doomed to the outer peripheries of all civilized worlds. It is the feelings, feelings of outrage and sadness and anger, which are seen as uncivilized.

And not only uncivilized but illogical. Because bloggers often write with feeling they are assumed to be illogical, not thinking at all. This is odd. There is no law against thinking and feeling at the same time, rather the opposite. That's how human beings mostly live.

Then there is the whole question of the literary style of blogs. Blogging is not the same as writing a long article for publication. It is an almost-instant form of communication, intended to be less edited and less distanced, and the rules of this new genre are different. A naughty word doesn't have the same power to shock as it might have smack in the middle of the front page of a newspaper, because it doesn't carry the same connotations. Its power to shock is closer to the power it would have to shock someone around the corporate water-fountain or during a lunch with friends. Blogs are somewhere inbetween conversations like that and published articles, and blog critics should learn the rules of this new genre.

Falling Flat

Wanna read about flat taxes? I wrote a piece for the American Prospect here.

And not one naughty word in the whole piece!

The Fuckity-Fuck Post

That title is intended to make absolutely sure that I will never be hired to blog for Sam Brownback's presidential campaign. Sniff. The sacrifices a goddess must make. I'm pretty sure Sam was almost ready to ask me.

But he can't ask me if I say bad words like "fuck" or if I have ever criticized Christianist fundamentalists for anything. Also it's very bad form not to have advocated genocide of all nonbelievers or not to have told the gays and lesbians that they're going to hell. Good form would be to write like Michelle Malkin and to advocate putting people into concentration camps.

Now you know. I learned all this from the ongoing right-wing campaign (led by such luminaries as Michelle Malkin and Bill Donohue) to get Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, better known as the bloggers of Pandagon and Shakespeare's Sister, respectively, off the John Edwards campaign payroll. Now the very boil on the liberal butt, the New York Times, has joined in this witchhunt:

The efforts by 2008 presidential contenders to exploit the megaphone of the blogosphere has hit a bump, it seems, as former Senator John Edwards's hiring of two controversial bloggers gathers more attention than his health care plan or even his new McMansion spread in North Carolina.

We are catching up a bit on the controversy. We first saw a kernel of this mentioned on Instapundit last week, when one of the two new bloggers, Amanda Marcotte, was supposedly caught by some other bloggers "airbrushing" some of her cruder language out of a post at her site, Pandagon.

The campaign also hired Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister. [forgive our earlier typo making sisters plural by accident.]

But now, both are under the spotlight, or rather the glare, with at least one blogger (Dean Barnett over at taking up a pool as to when the two might be fired by Mr. Edwards. Some are counting the hours.

On top of the pair's vulgar language in some posts, Bill Donohue of the conservative Catholic League called on Tuesday for their ouster from the campaign's nascent Internet foray, complaining about their anti-Catholic rants. (We can't repeat here some of their writings; they are quite frequently profane. Michelle Malkin has catalogued some posts here.)

The Salon has published a rumor stating that Amanda and Melissa have already been fired, but the Edwards campaign denies the rumor. Fun and games for all, huh?

So Bill Donohue of the conservative Catholic League called Amanda and Melissa "anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots". And we should take his arguments seriously? Some other things Bill Donohue has said:

* "People don't trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 2/9/06]

* "Name for me a book publishing company in this country, particularly in New York, which would allow you to publish a book which would tell the truth about the gay death style." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 2/27/04]

* "The gay community has yet to apologize to straight people for all the damage that they have done." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 4/11/05]

* Addressing former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) in a press release, Donohue said: "[W]hy didn't you just smack the clergyman in the face? After all, most 15-year-old teenage boys wouldn't allow themselves to be molested. So why did you?" [10/4/06]

* "I'm saying if a Catholic votes for Kerry because they support him on abortion rights, that is to cooperate in evil." [MSNBC's Hardball, 10/21/04]

* "We've already won. Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I'm not afraid to say it. ... Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 12/8/04]

* "Well, look, there are people in Hollywood, not all of them, but there are some people who are nothing more than harlots. They will do anything for the buck. They wouldn't care. If you asked them to sodomize their own mother in a movie, they would do so, and they would do it with a smile on their face." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 2/9/06]

This is not even the pot calling the kettle black, because neither Amanda nor Melissa has one speck of that general hatred-of-the-other in them. Neither Amanda nor Melissa have called for people to be put into concentration camps as a preventive measure. And I can't imagine neither Amanda nor Melissa doing something like this Malkin parody of Amanda as part of an attempt to bring Malkin down. Not that Malkin succeeds. All I could think of how good Amanda's prose sounded when spoken aloud, even by someone who tried to make it sound bad. But watch and decide (via Sadly, No):

Let's see if I get this right: Your career is destroyed if you ever used naughty words, but your career will soar if you advocate violence. And the only bloggers acceptable for political campaigns to hire are the non-controversial ones. But there is no such thing as a non-controversial blogger, not in the minds of the wingnuts and not if the person ever wrote more than a word or two, because ANYTHING can be made into a controversial issue.

I hope John Edwards understands this and that he also understands that any blogger he hires will be attacked by the wingnut phalanx. That's how they act.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Today's Action Alert

Never mind. The program is not about Plan B but about RU-486 which indeed does cause abortions. Sorry about the confusion. Though the website for the program does call RU-486 the "morning after pill". Which it is not.

Concerns the popular show Veronica Mars:

Tonight, the CW network will air an episode of Veronica Mars that is based on misleading right-wing claims about contraception. The show is about a young woman named Veronica Mars, who is both a college student and a part-time private investigator. This week, Veronica is hired by Bonnie, "a promiscuous classmate, to find out who secretly slipped her the morning after pill, causing her to have a miscarriage"


The morning-after pill — also known as Plan B — is not an abortion drug. It is a form of emergency contraception that when "taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the two-pill series can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent." It cannot cause a miscarriage. Plan B works only when taken before a woman becomes pregnant.

Go here to find out what to do.

The Two -Year- Long Presidential Campaign

This is where I fail miserably as a political blogger. I can't get excited about 2008 yet, just can't. Do we really have to talk about the candidates for the next two years while ignoring everything else that happens in the political arena? Can't someone make a law that the campaign period can't run for more than a few months?

My Final MRA Post

Are you sick of these? A couple of commenters in the earlier posts wanted to know why I'd go on the MRA sites and suspected that I just want to bathe in misogyny. Now, misogyny is of course one of my very favorite things in this world, but that is not the reason why I went there. This time I ended there quite accidentally, but then I remembered an earlier commenter accusing me of not looking at what the opposition is saying, and this seemed a good opportunity to do so. Also, if I go there you, my sweet readers, don't have to. Unless you want to check on my impressions.

My two earlier posts on this topic have discussed emotions and misconceptions, respectively. This one addresses the topics which I found contained at least a gist of truth in them, in the sense that what is being described can cause anger, pain and frustration in some men, and their roots are in the arrangements of patriarchy. But in some cases it is the intermediate stage in which we live, neither patriarchy nor something egalitarian, that causes the grief. Before I discuss the topics I picked for closer analysis, I want to dispense with one more topic which is very common in the MRA sites and which doesn't have anything to do with gender roles as such.

This is that individual people can be really horrible and that it is quite possible that a particular man's ex-wife or current wife or colleague is a pretty vile person. That this is true, of both women and men, does not tell us anything at all about women or men in general or about feminism. In a similar manner, the court system can fail and produce results which are unfair towards one of the people involved in it. This could happen in the most heavenly of societies, as long as information is partial and humans prone to error. In short, anecdotal evidence is anecdotal.

Now let's attack the meat of the story.

The first concern of some relevance on MRA sites has to do with male military conscription. In most countries where conscription is used it is only men who have to physically go to war and to risk death as a consequence. I think this is a legal unfairness to men.

But note that it is not feminists who had anything to do with this arrangement; it is pure patriarchy (in the sense of the old men in power sending the young men off to fight), and based on the past where most able-bodied women where too often pregnant or breast-feeding to be of much use on long war-campaigns and where fighting was based on physical body power much more than it is today. Also, the maternal mortality rates were very high in those days (and still are in Afghanistan, say), so that women usually died at earlier ages than men, even with all the warmaking.

The feminist writings on this topic I am familiar with apply to the United States. They tend to take one of two possible stances: either women and men should be treated the same and conscripted at the same terms or neither women nor men should be forced to wage wars at all. I don't know of any feminist writings that argue that men should be conscripted and women not, though such writings may well exist. But the usual argument is for equal treatment, though some feminists point out that war is a particularly male business and that perhaps women shouldn't be forced to fight in wars unless they have more of a say on when to start a war in the first place.

The military conscription argument is currently not terribly valid in the U.S., given the professional military forces and no draft, but the argument has validity in general, I think. What should be remembered here, too, is that it is the anti-feminists who fight against women in direct combat roles, not feminists.

I don't think I got the whole flavor of the MRA arguments about war here, because many on those sites also believe that women can't do war and so don't really want equality in this sphere but special rights to counteract the need for men to die in wars. An excuse for patriarchy, perhaps.

The second general MRA argument that has some validity has to do with men's reproductive rights. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I'm not sure if anyone has the right to become a parent as such, but we usually argue that people should have the right not to become parents if they so wish. For both men and women contraception is what one uses in that case (or should use), but what happens if contraception fails?

It is then quite possible for a man to be in a situation where he can no longer refuse parenthood even though the woman still can, through abortion. If she decides not to abort the pregnancy, he is going to be a dad whether he wants it or not. And this means child maintenance payments for two decades, even if he decides not to have anything else to do with the child.

I think this is an unfairness, of a sort. Of a sort, because it is caused by avoiding an even greater unfairness: having someone outside the woman's body dictate its uses. The unfairness is created by the fact that pregnancy takes place inside a woman's body. If we had uterine replicators I could easily see the rules being different. But we don't have uterine replicators, and I can't see another solution to this unfairness that wouldn't bring in something even more horrible.

Many MRA sites argue that a man in this situation shouldn't have to pay child maintenance. He didn't want to be a parent in the first place. I actually have sympathy with this view. Where things get complicated is when the baby is born, because from that point onwards we have three people to consider in the equation, and the child maintenance is not because of some victory points for the woman but because the child needs food, clothing and so on. It is a mess, though.

The obvious lesson from all this to learn is that nobody should trust another person to take care of the contraception, and that it might be a good idea not to go to bed with people whose motivations you don't know. But I can see the MRA point in this case.

The third general complaint on the MRA sites has to do with divorce, the awarding of custody and the treatment of fathers in divorce courts. This is linked to the previous topic in that many of the comments argue that once a man is divorced he should no longer have to pay anything towards his children. This viewpoint is present as often as the viewpoint that men should have custody more often than they do. Other versions of the anger divorced fathers feel have to do with ex-wives stopping them from seeing their children often enough and with the question of how the child maintenance payments are used.

It's useful here to take a step back from these arguments and to look at what is going on in these cases from a more neutral seat. Note, first, that these cases are not just about a man and a woman getting divorced. There are children involved, too, and the courts usually consider the children first in deciding on custody and child maintenance. If one parent gets custody, that parent then becomes the custodial parent and has different rights and responsibilities than the non-custodial parent.

And this is the crux of the complaints which are all from non-custodial parents. It is not that these people are fathers that matters here: it is that they are non-custodial parents. A mother without custody rights to her children is in the very same position.

So what makes this a Men's Right topic? The fact that custody is usually awarded to the mother. In most cases this is done without any challenge from the father, but in the cases where the father challenges the mother for custody his odds of winning it are quite good. Still, most non-custodial parents are fathers, and what they are angry and hurt by are the opportunities that this system offers for exploiting the non-custodial parent. As I mentioned earlier, it is the custodial parent who decides how the child maintenance money is used. Assume a nasty divorce and a lot of grudges on both sides, and you can see how this can be an unpleasant situation for the non-custodial parent. Games could be played to turn the children against you and your hard-earned money might go towards buying fancy clothes for your ex. Or your ex might make it hard for you to see the children. And so on.

Of course very similar stories can be told by the custodial parent: child maintenance not being paid for years, the non-custodial parent badmouthing you when he or she meets the children, the children not being picked up when agreed, and even worse stuff, stuff about abuse and the custodial parent's inability to stop visitation rights by an abusive non-custodial parent. And so on.

How does this all relate to feminism? The usual argument is that feminism made divorce easier and that feminism gave women more rights in the case of a divorce. But note that the problems these men discuss are not related to their sex directly but to the patriarchy-based tradition that it is the women who have more to do with children and the court rule that custody is usually awarded to the parent who did more hands-on care of the children, to keep the children's lives as constant as possible. A stay-at-home father would get custody under these rules, and feminists have certainly advocated for a greater role for fathers in the day-to-day care of their children.

It is painful, divorce and losing daily contact with your children, or divorce and ending up a single parent. Painful and horribly hard in many cases. But the causes and remedies are not in some return to patriarchy where children are automatically the father's property. Imagine a very bad marriage that you can't escape at all and then imagine what that does to the children and to the fighting parents.

The final point on which I found the MRA arguments to have some merit has to do with the possibility that a man might meet a woman who is not a feminist or a woman who is a feminist, and that these two might have quite different ideas of the man's proper gender roles. How should he behave then? What if he thinks he married a feminist and ends up with a wife who expects him to work two jobs so that she can stay at home with the children? Or what if it is the reverse? Confusing. Of course, the very same confusion faces women meeting men who run the gamut of Rush Limbaugh types to radical feminists.

The point I'm making is that when societal norms are changing it can be hard to know what is expected of you, and I sympathize with the frustrations. Communication might help to make things clearer, too.

A related and perhaps more important point was made by one commenter who stated that the public sector is increasingly open for women but that the private sphere of the family and the children may not be equally open for men. Not only are traditional norms still pretty much focused on men as breadwinners but there are women who don't want to share direct parenting with their partners. And there are, I might point out, many men who want nothing to do with childcare or household chores.

This commenter has a point, I think. The feminist wave of the 1960s and 1970s addressed mostly the problem of how to let women access to the labor markets and societal decision-making positions in general. Many of the feminists also wanted to tackle the reverse problem of how to get men access to wider household roles in general, but the revolution slowed down before much progress there took place. This is the job for the next wave, a wave which must consist of both men and women.

Monday, February 05, 2007

More On the Anti-Feminist List of Complaints

Those of you who read my earlier post about Mired in MRA Land are probably eagerly awaiting the post in which I talk more about the substance of the anti-feminist complaints, expecting me to shed tears and to repent and to find a common ground to build a better society with those friendly folk. And you will not be disappointed! Just kidding... But you will get not just one post but two! This is the first one of the two.

What I want to do in this post is to look at some of the most common talking points on the MRA sites, points, which are presented as evidence that either patriarchy hurts men more than it hurts women (and that this makes patriarchy just fine) or that feminism hurts men so much that we must return to patriarchy or that being a man is a crappy thing to be and so women shouldn't aspire to have the same rights or that what women mistakenly see as extra rights for men are indeed just extra burdens or responsibilities. Often all these arguments are mixed together in one paragraph, and often essentialist arguments about women's inferiority dance polka with the argument that men are inherently more fragile.

It is a tangled weave I try to unravel here, so tangled that I found myself going around in circles, chasing my logic which ended up all dizzy and wanted to have a nap. But here are some of my semi-logical observations:

Some of the most common talking points on MRA sites are illogical or based on some odd view of how the world works. For example, it is very common on these sites to argue that feminism gave women choices, that women can choose to work or choose to stay at home, choose to divorce, choose to act like feminist women or choose to act like traditional (i.e. nonfeminist) women, whereas men have no choices at all.

Now why would this be the case? It doesn't make sense at all. I saw several people arguing that men have no choice but to work dangerous jobs (and possibly get killed young) because they have to support a woman who has chosen to stay at home. Yet if we use this "choice" framework, the decision to accept a dangerous job is every bit as much a choice as the decision to stay at home with children, say. Both have some negative and some positive consequences and neither is necessarily a "free" choice but constrained by money, other resources such as education, and the society's norms and expectations. And there are no laws which ban men from staying at home with their children, no laws which say that men can't initiate divorce or refuse to work dangerous jobs. What is it that looks to these men as lack of choice in their own lives? All I can think of is that perhaps the norms of patriarchy no longer work that well and that an unthinking acceptance of those norms might feel like not having any choice.

Another common fallacy on these sites is the argument that any attention or remedies intended to help women are by their very existence evidence of a bias against men. Thus, university Women's Studies Programs discriminate against men because there are no Men's Studies Programs and the Violence Against Women Act (WAVA) discriminates against men because it is about women. What is this based on?

I can think of two explanations. One is that these men really believe that there was no inequality between the sexes to begin with, no need to address any unfairness towards women, and that therefore all these extra programs are like giving more ice-cream to your siblings than to you. The other one is a zero-sum game view of life: If women get something it must be off the men's plates. Either way, some of these arguments look to me like someone demanding that healthy people should have the same hospital facilities as sick people do. Consider the case of the Women's Studies Programs. The traditional feminist answer to the question why there are no Men's Studies Programs at universities is that all the rest of the curriculum is one large Men's Study Program.

A third common mistake on the MRA agenda is to assume that various types of problems men might have are caused by feminism even when the evidence contradicts this or when there is no evidence on it at all. Examples are the problems boys have at school and the high U.S. divorce rate. Both of these are frequently attributed to feminism. This ignores a whole lot of evidence from countries which have hardly any feminism at all and still suffer from the very same problems. It is highly unlikely that all these other countries would just happen to have the same social trends but for totally different reasons. It is much more likely that the reasons are the same in all these countries, and if that is the case feminism can't play a large causative role.

Thank God

Do you think that God is interested in who wins the Super Bowl?* Do you think that God roots for one side and gives extra help for the players on that side? Do you think that God does the same for people who win other sports events?

Some athletes seem to think that God takes sides like this, given the myriad times I've heard them thank their coaches and their teams and then God for some victory. Logically this implies that the losers of the same match should shake their fists at God. It's an odd and interesting God these people believe in. A details guy who can be made to work for some people and against others, perhaps by suitable rituals and prayers. Like a personal coach in the clouds.
*I didn't watch the Super Bowl and have no idea if anyone thanked God this year. But it happens a lot.

The Momtini Wars

Mothers: Have you ever thought about what might happen to your children while you are asleep during the night? Or when you are in the bathroom (unless you bring the kids in with you, every time)? Perhaps you should not sleep. One of your children might have a heart attack or develop a sudden fever and succumb to it before you wake up.

Do you have a car? A driver's license? A home resuscitation team handy? If you don't, you are a very bad mother. What will happen if your child suddenly gets sick? What are you gonna do? Get a cab? Bad mother!

You may be thinking that I've gone crazy, but I'm just reporting on the momtini wars: the Today Show (in late January) which decided to do a story about stay-at-home mothers drinking during playdates. "Decided to do a story" is exactly how they went about it, and it was specifically "mothers" who were to be evaluated as to how good caretakers of their children they might be after a glass of wine:

Well, the Today Show wasn't kidding around when they put together this "trend" piece more or less alleging that mothers who have a glass of wine while their kids are playing nearby are bad caretakers. The story implies they don't just drink, they get drunk: "There are safety issues to consider. Who would drive to the hospital if a child were hurt?"

That there was a subtext to the program is supported by this statement from one of the mothers who were contacted by its producer:

In the beginning they wanted to come and film my playgroup for the piece. Since our kids are now all in school full time, we don't have a weekly playgroup anymore so this was problematic. I suggested a more 'happy hour' gathering where we'd meet after school and our husband's would swing by after work for our usual family pizza night. Alicia [the NBC producer] said the mixing of dads would 'taint' the story (Read: "Make the subject more palatable because men keep their women in line and they have an auxiliary liver in their penises.") So I told Alicia it just wasn't going to work out.

Sheesh. Another one of those fake trends. Fathers would "taint" the story, because either fathers are allowed to drink or fathers are assumed to keep the mothers' drinking under control or, most likely, fathers are not seen as responsible for the children 24/7 so it doesn't matter what they do.

But mothers are on duty 24/7, and everybody can have an opinion on how they should act. This opinion is almost always that mothers should be perfect. Nothing less falls short and can be criticized. A good mother should lie in bed at night worrying about the possibility that an airplane might crash on the nursery. A good mother should imagine every possible if ever-so-unlikely risk her children might have, and a good mother should sacrifice everything, including all personal life, to prevent such risks.

I find it ironic in a very unpleasant way that now it is the stay-at-home mothers who are being criticized by the mother-the-madonna-or-the-whore school. We already know that this school finds all employed mothers to be heartless egomaniacs who have abandoned their children somewhere along the road to careers and to a paycheck, but it used to work as a defensive shield to stay at home. This is no longer true. Now the binoculars of the critics are aimed straight into the living-rooms and bedrooms and nurseries of all mothers.

I will now take a deep breath and say all the expected and moderate things I'm expected to say. Of course getting drunk while taking care of children is bad. Of course alcoholism is a terrible thing and having alcoholic parents is not good for the children at all. And of course it is a good thing to talk about how drinking and driving or being in charge of small children doesn't mix. But to then imply that there is no safe limit to the number of drinks a woman at a playdate can have? And to say nothing about the drinking that both parents might do after the father gets back from work (who's going to drive to the hospital?)? Or the father's drinking when he is in charge of the children? Or those similar risks caused by sleeping I mentioned at the beginning of this post?

No, the story is not about alcoholism per se. It is about women without a male supervisor possibly drinking and having fun while the Puritan ethic says that they should be suffering or at least feeling like they are performing some boring duties. The story is about the Mommy Wars, and the only new twist it has added to these wars is that now there are hardly any good mothers left at all and that everybody and their uncle Bob can criticize mothers while doing none of the duties themselves.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?

Walt Whitman, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed
In all of the tributes to Molly Ivins, all of the notice of her humor, her brilliance, her integrity and her great writing, not enough has been said about what lay behind it all. Molly Ivins was an extraordinarily decent human being. She never lost sight that there were people, both as groups and as individuals, behind it all. She always took them into consideration, sometimes to the exasperation of those of us impatient to ignore individuals and to look at their crimes.

Decency, it would seem, is an embarrassing thing for some people. That’s understandable considering what conventional culture presents as decency. It’s cloying and often dishonest. Sometimes what’s pointed to as decency is only a facade over a pile of rotten garbage.

But I’d recommend it. I’d recommend it because in Molly Ivins we saw what decency stripped of convention really looks like. It’s funny and brilliant and sometimes rather raunchy and funny. It can also be fierce and exacting, a blade to cut right through the crap and to get to the bone of the matter. Decency is one of the strongest tools that we have, in the right hands it will get us a lot farther than craftiness. Cynicism, the opposite of decency, is a road to egomaniacal dishonesty. It’s cowardly and it will always turn on us. And cynicism is the best of a host of poses and attitudes that are a danger to the left. There are worse ones. I can’t prove it to you. I can’t know it objectively, it’s too complicated. I’ve only seen it from examples in people, in their lives. Decency, plain and undiluted with sentimentality, is a good plan.

I can’t get her off my mind and I hope I never do.


A Bowl of Meat

Posted by olvlzl.
It would be good if some of the ink and outrage spent last month over the rather odd looking deal between the Disney and Pop Warner corporations would be spent on what the playing itself does to the children who may have been shaken down by these big businesses.

The case or the retired football player, Ted Johnson*, is a disturbing story of the possible results of the cult of toughness and the callous indifference to athletes’ personal welfare that is known as “team work”. The story shouldn’t stop with him.

He dates the decisive incident of brain damage, they’re using the milder term, “concussion”, in 2002. He was an adult. If an adult was unable to resist the peer and corporate pressure that led him to go back to practice instead of retiring which would probably have saved him and his family a lot of confusion and pain, how can children be expected to? As has been mentioned here before, children who are encouraged to play football** and risk the only brain they are ever going to have are not adults. They don’t have the maturity or sufficiently developed personalities to resist the pressures to conform. They are at the beginning of the regime of conforming to the entirely artificial and unnecessary devotion to “the team”. They are at the age when it is instilled. They are at the beginning of the process that can end in catastrophic and permanent brain injury. Which is the more important thing that needs the protection of adults and the media, children’s brains or their money?

In one of the stories about Ted Johnson deciding to break the wall of silence on brain damage in football, one of his former team mates, who asked to remain anonymous, had this to say:

“I’m not saying what the team did was right. But if Ted thought his health was in danger, he never should have put on that blue jersey, You have to be your own advocate.”

His coach, Bill Belichick, said:

“If Ted felt so strongly that he didn’t feel he was ready to practice with us, he should have told me,”.

Let’s start with the fact that while he was supposed to be making these decisions he was, in fact, already suffering injuries that impeded his thinking. He was also being subjected to the direct peer pressure of his team mates, including in a massively ironic twist, one Tedy Bruschi, who very famously suffered a stroke. During the period when he was supposed to resist the pressure to put the team before his damaged brain he was also threatened with the suspension of his contract if he didn’t return. I’d say that his union did more than just let him down. So, a man schooled in the culture of football, suffering confusion and fuzzy thinking, perhaps expecting to end up entirely incapacitated and perhaps broke, was expected to “be his own advocate,” in face of what can only be called an onslaught of pressure to risk more damage. Be his own advocate. It’s always interesting to see the power of a cliche to entirely eclipse reality even for those living through it.

There seems to be some resentment of Ted Johnson for making this story public. The stories and reports about him keep mentioning how beloved Ted Johnson was with the fans and his team mates during his playing days. Where did the love go? And what does “love” mean in this context? Football players aren’t dead meat to be consumed by the football industry. They shouldn’t be pressured into treating themselves that way.

I hope that Ted Johnson makes a recovery. I wish other athletes would talk about what they’ve lost due to their participation in the sports industry. I wish more would show his courage and break through the wall of silence. I wonder what this tells about us as a country.

I’d planned on doing a humorous post about the homoerotic language of football but reading this story this week sort of put me out of the mood.

* I couldn’t get a link but this is based on the reporting in the Boston Globe beginning with the story “I don’t want anyone to end up like me” on Friday, February 2. Not being a sports fan I probably wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t for the look of anxiety in his picture. Some of the comments are from TV and radio. Yes, in fulfillment of my duties here I went so far as to listen to sports reports.

** Brain injury is also a feature of other sports, soccer, hockey... As someone pointed out the last time I posted on this subject.

Do You Really Want To Live Beyond Freedom And Dignity?

Posted by olvlzl.
You’ll be glad to know I’m not going to go into detail today. If you’ve read enough of what I’ve posted you'll know I don’t buy large swaths of the social and behavioral sciences. Among other things that make me a heretic is that they come up with entirely new systems just slightly less often than Microsoft. And in between new systems, theirs don’t even work that well. Thus the title. They patch together a gamma version and try to sail it into a grand unified theory of the mind.

At the end of the first discussion thread begun last Saturday, a very reasonable skeptic of what I had said mentioned that Susan Blackmore, in her book about “the meme”, claimed that they potentially negated free will. I haven’t read the book myself but it doesn’t surprise me, having read Blackmore on other topics. Since the beginning social and behavioral scientists have tried to fix their sights on freedom of thought. They’ve gotten off some shots but they never even fixed a bead on it.

Since free will is free, if it exists, why would scientists of any kind expect to be able to pin it down for study and classification? To do that “free will” would have to be one stable thing like a species or the member of an element family. It would have to be or its presence within either an experiment or model could never be reliably known.* It would have to be bounded tightly enough for it to not be free.

It is possible for the large majority, or, concievably, every last person, to freely will the same thing and something like that might show up in some experiment or study. If that was the case then the free will nature of it might be entirely invisible. Sometimes free will could be expressed in the outlyers that get pitched. If it exists there is every reason to expect that it would entirely elude even the most exact and careful science. I am confident that free will, by definition, could not enter into scientific study. Being too arrogant to acknowledge this limit, these less than rigorous people just declare that it can’t exist.

I don’t know if free will exists but either way, there’s not much that can be done about it. I think that the assumption that it doesn’t exist carries the danger of the kind of tyranny that some have always seen as a glint in the eyes of some mad psychiatrists, social scientists, and psychoanalysts as well as despots of every flavor.

It’s not that I fear a dictatorship of social scientists. The picture that I have of most of them is more like John Water’s deprogrammer in Hair Spray than Brave New World. Outside of an insufficiently regulated state hospital, it’s a wonder that some of them can run even a lab.**

What I really fear is that the general public will buy their line and decide that freedom is a myth, just as too many have bought the one that we are all selfish swine. A public which doesn’t have any faith in freedom won’t exert themselves to keep it and will go spend their time on trivial pursuits. Looking at our over indoctrinated educated class, that could already be one of the real life influences of these so-called scientists. They’ve already given up dignity in too many cases. That’s why I really don’t like the present regime in the social and behavioral sciences. It’s not just because they claim to know as fact what they, in fact, only believe and want to believe.

* The reason that both the pro and con of those “prayer studies” were bogus.

**I’m told that students of biology are often disgusted with the way that psych departments take care of their lab animals. It’s students of biology who have told me this, though, just to keep this honest.

Coda: In Which olvlzl bows to a preponderance of the evidence.

I’ve been going back through various comment threads I’ve participated in, counting the times that someone has asked me, “Do you know how stupid you sound when you....”.

Just counting, clearly not.

Reification and conflation are the two original sins of the social sciences, they haven't yet had a savior who was able to expunge them of it. I think those sins, like the more traditional ones in real life, are based in personal ambition, pride and the kind of career building dishonesty that pervades our 'life of the mind'. And when it comes to areas like this, it's dangerous. Ask a woman who has to make a career in the real sciences if it isn't.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ok, Try This One.

Posted by olvlzl.
A man was walking down the sidewalk and heard a sound . Thump, thump, thump...
He turned and saw a coffin bouncing behind him, coming closer. He crossed the street and the coffin followed him, thump, thump.... He ran and the coffin came faster. He got to his house, ran in and slammed the door. The coffin started pounding against the door, it began to give way. The man ran up the stairs as the coffin broke through and, not missing a beat it followed him. He ran to the room with the strongest lock, the bathroom. He locked the door but the coffin started pounding against it, the door gave way. The man reached for the nearest thing, a huge bottle of Robitussin, threw it at the coffin and the coffin stopped.

Religion Corner

Posted by olvlzl.
I’m sure you’re ready for a little religion to round out your week. So I’m going to tell you about an Irish miracle.

A young woman named Dymphna was married for a year yet no baby was conceived. She went to the priest to ask his advice. He heard her story and said, “Lourdes, Dymphna, you must go to the Shrine at Lourdes and take the blessed water." So she went to Lourdes and, sure enough, she became pregnant and had a fine daughter. After two more years went by she came to the priest and said, “Father I’d love to give my daughter a sister or a brother but it’s the same as before.” “Well,” The priest said, “You went to Lourdes once and conceived, you must go again.” “Oh, sure, Father,” she said, “That fellow’s gone home years ago.”

Culture In The News

Posted by olvlzl.
Years ago, think it was in Mother Jones magazine, there was a cartoon. A nude, fat and out of shape, aging man, standing on a chair, his equally nude and out of shape wife on his shoulders, ready to dive into bed. The woman said “So this is it, Harold. This is as kinky as we’re going to get.”

There was a major disappointment in the Boston Cartoon scare, dealt with below and a minor one. The other one was seeing clips of Aqua Teen and the two dorks who pulled the stunt. I was in shock. This was it? This was what passes as edgy and risky in today’s pop culture? Oh, dear. A Turner Corporation cartoon as counter culture. I’m sorry to have to break this to anyone but there ain’t no counter in a culture like that one. If that’s what young people are settling for in the way of the edgy and the cutting edge, you’re settling for way too little. You deserve more.

Let me put it this way. Instead of those two - I don’t even know what the word for them is these days- idiots, let me suggest Jack Levine and Ed Sorel. One painting by Levine, one cartoon by Sorel has more edge and cuts a lot sharper than anything you’re going to get on TV. TV isn’t cool. The Cool won’t appear on TV.

It’s an odd position to be in. For probably the first time in history someone can be old fogey on the basis that youth culture is way too tame for them. It’s bland and commercial and stupid. That state of being is a counter-culture phenomenon of a totally unexpected variety. It’s a lot more surreal than a talking meatball and a white ditz in dreadlocks. Old people on the edge, young people grasping commercial security. It’s not right. It's against nature.

On the Boston Cartoon Scare

Would you like to be the first responder at the next incident, wondering if it's some dumb kid pulling a copy cat stunt or if it's a psychopath with access to explosives making believe it's a copy cat stunt?

Just Can’t Get Molly Off My Mind...

Posted by olvlzl.
The obituaries of Molly Ivins were all interested in what made her into such a great journalist. Luckily we don’t really have to wonder, great journalist that she was, she reported it. She said that for her, as for so many other Southern liberals, the question that sparked her off was race. Once you figure out that they’re lying to you about race you wonder what else they’re lying to you about. Honest people are really the best source to find out what makes them tick, you don’t need to filter it through some dumb theory.

Molly Ivins noted in that passage that children are notoriously honest before they are socialized out of looking for the truth. That reminded me of how much I love impertinent children. Just love them. Not the button pushing brats who say things and bring up topics just to make their elders squirm. As if that’s possible now that everyone spills their guts everywhere at the drop of a hat.

What I really like are children who ask questions and draw conclusions about things that get swept under the rug. Sometimes, like with race, those things are done for the filthiest and most apparent reasons. But sometimes it’s just out of convenience or habit. I’ve got the strongest hunch that any system that is devised, even one that tries to stay honest, will build up a crust of junk out of the exigencies of meeting deadlines, publishing papers and not offending colleagues. It’s been that way in just about anything I’m familiar with. Career building rewards you for ignoring the muck that you know is there, if just in the back of your mind. If a kid looks at it, someone without any career or social status to protect, they can cut through the crap and find the rot underneath.

A child like that gets told that they’re asking an impertinent question, every step of the way. Of course, being inquisitive, they will eventually ask why people insist on calling a question impertinent when it’s really the most pertinent question you can ask. But by the time they’ve learned those words they know that no one is going to answer their questions and they’re going to have to figure it out for themself.

It’s not every kid who does this, a lot of them show certain signs of being socialized in the most unfortunate way. Of course, they’re the cool kids, the ones who are at the top of one or more of the highschool elites and the ones who aspire to that. They don’t ask questions that will lose them status, usually not with their elders, certainly not with their peers. For them it’s the peers who are the bigger danger to curiosity and honesty. The elites of youth are just future conformists of the world, even if they like to strike the pose of being counter culture. I don’t usually worry about elites figuring they are in a position to take care of themselves, but I do worry about the horrors of that kind of anxious, painful maintenance of status in young people, the burden of the facade of cool confidence. If only they could give it up and breathe some really fresh air. After they grow up I’ve got less time to worry about them. Though I lose sleep over wondering what the world is coming to now that adults have extended the culture of highschool well past middle age.

I think I might be drifting, but then so could Molly Ivins. Not within a piece, she was a great worker who wrote about as tight a piece as could be imagined. But she was telling the truth, she never stopped poking around no matter where it led her. What can we do to keep any part of her with us, now that she’s gone on?

We do what she did. Ask an impertinent question about something important every day. Ask it without worrying about the consequences from the elites or from your peers. Ask it for Molly. Ask it with heart.

... oh Lord, I hope I never do.

An Apology

Posted by olvlzl
In the movie The Sorrow and the Pity, Marcel Ophuls shows the case of a merchant named Klein who, under the Vichy occupation, took out ads in the papers to announce that, despite his name, he wasn’t Jewish. The scene dealing with Klein is painful to watch, his squirming explanations and the awful moral conditions under Nazi occupation it demonstrates are devastating and unforgettable.

What I did while arguing here last week was to correct the mistaken impression that I was a Christian. I’d done this several times in the past and it never really sat well with me. I didn’t realize why until I remembered the movie. What I should have said was that any religious affiliation I had was irrelevant, that only the truth or reasoning of what I had said was relevant. What if I had been a Christian? Would that have changed anything that had been said? Would it have changed any of the meaning of it? No, no more than if I’d been of any other religion or a member of any other group. Mr. Klein might well have been in danger of his life, which strikes me as at least an excuse. I’m not. What people say, if it’s true and if it makes sense, should be the only consideration. I’m sorry I ignored that fact.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Orange Snowmen?

I wanted to post a picture of the mousetrap someone in my family made in the 18th century but I can't find it now, and I haven't completed my self-imposed quota for today's blog posts. All this means that you are given even more nasty news:

Russia has flown a team of chemical experts to a Siberian region to find out why smelly, coloured snow has been falling over several towns.

Oily yellow and orange snowflakes fell over an area of more than 1,500sq km (570sq miles) in the Omsk region on Wednesday, Russian officials said.

Chemical tests were under way to determine the cause, they said.

Residents have been advised not to use the snow for household tasks or let animals graze on it.

One day we will have songs about the orange snowmen...

The mousetrap, by the way, is wonderful. It consists of a large wooden weight hanging precariously balanced over the area where the mouse will be served a dainty piece of cheese. When the mouse enters, BANG!

Mired in MRA-Land

I couldn't sleep last night, so I surfed the net and ended up reading all sorts of posts which led me to the Men's Rights Activist sites. This is never a good idea for a feminist but especially not in the middle of the night. Lots of anger and hatred blaring into my house from the screen, and the night-time brain is eerily open to begin with. So as a form of self-defense I decided to start trying to find what it is exactly that these activists are saying. What it is that feminists have destroyed so badly in this country, and what it is that makes men the truly oppressed gender.

But to do that I had to try to clean out the other stuff, the stuff that whirls around in the very air of those places,the stuff which is dangerous to inhale because it makes you stupid and slow. This post is an attempt to report on that cleaning process. I will write about the more substantive stuff on Monday.

This is the first of the odd wriggling creatures I caught by the neck:

According to many if not most MRA-guys, the whole world is ruled by a small cabal of radical feminists. George Bush doesn't run this country; the ghosts of radical feminists do, and what these ghosts want is not equality but female supremacy. They are driven by their deep hatred of men and every feminist proposal ever made has been intended to destroy men. Even more surprisingly, proposals and laws which feminists opposed and have fought are still attributed to them. As an example, I read that it is the feminists who don't want women in the military to be in combat roles and that it is the feminists who keep women out of firefighting so that they don't get killed as often as men do.

Now this is clearly delusional thinking. A cabal of radical feminists with such powers these men believe they have would surely have gotten rid of men altogether by now. Instead of that, we don't even have paid maternity leave in this country. So why is it that so many men seem to firmly believe in this fantastic scenario?

Perhaps for similar reasons as the ones that make people believe in black helicopters hovering over the United Nations building. But there is an additional reason, and that became evident when I managed to isolate and cage the next weird creature messing my brain up: The hermetically sealed and distorted set of "evidence" used in the MRA circles.

The same incidents crop up again and again, quoted as final proof of the perfidy of feminists. A famous rape accusation that may turn out not to be rape at all: Proof that almost all rape accusations are false. The case where terrible state laws put a young teenager to prison for ten years just because he received a blowjob from a minor: Proof positive that all sentences for sexual crimes are wrong and somehow proof positive also that feminists were behind this particular (and very old) law. Only certain cases are quoted and no attempt is being made to look at the actual numbers of different types of examples.

The more statistical evidence cited in these circles is also fascinating: The same few studies are mentioned over and over again, usually in a context where it is clear the person mentioning them didn't understand the study. And what studies these are! They come from the famous conservative gals of the Independent Women's Forum! Did you know that there is no gender gap in wages at all and that schools are run by feminists to destroy boys? They come from the guy who wrote the book Why Men Rule! Did you know that men earn more than women because they do all the dangerous work in this world? These are mostly really poorly made studies or perhaps not studies at all, in some cases, but they have been turned into the eternal truth in the MRA circles.

I'm not sure how one could calmly debate anything with these guys. Their whole world view is set.

I finally caught the most slippery of the nasty creatures, and despite the many colors and forms it took, I think it's called just plain old-fashioned misogyny. It is intertwined with everything that is said on those sites. Everything.

Misogyny makes it very hard to know what some of those men are saying. For one thing, the word "feminist" is often used as an euphemism for "woman that I can hate openly" and so what is being said about feminists really applies to women. Most men I read seem to think that equality of the sexes means going back to male supremacy and that this is necessary because feminism is destroying families and men and because women are quite stupid and weak and can't be garbage collectors and don't even want to be garbage collectors even though they try to usurp men's roles in life!

But many men also complain about what one might not call feminism-created women: Women who stay at home and who don't earn enough money to support themselves and the children that the man didn't want in the first place but was forced to bear. Indeed, both uppity women and downity (?) women are bad women.

It also occurred to me that some of these sites are guilty of blaming others for what is in fact in themselves. Thus, the idea of feminists as all man-haters sounds hollow when it comes from the head of a misogynist, and someone calling women illogical in a sentence that contains five major logical errors is disconcerting, to say the least.

More about this topic on Monday.

Global Warming

A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just been obtained by the press:

The world's leading climate scientists said global warming has begun, is "very likely" caused by man, and will be unstoppable for centuries, according to a report obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

The scientists - using their strongest language yet on the issue - said now that world has begun to warm, hotter temperatures and rises in sea level "would continue for centuries" no matter how much humans control their pollution. The report also linked the warming to the recent increase in stronger hurricanes.

"The observed widespread warming of the atmosphere and ocean, together with ice-mass loss, support the conclusion that it is extremely unlikely that global climate change of the past 50 years can be explained without external forcing, and very likely that is not due to known natural causes alone," said the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - a group of hundreds of scientists and representatives of 113 governments.

The phrase "very likely" translates to a more than 90 percent certainty that global warming is caused by man's burning of fossil fuels. That was the strongest conclusion to date, making it nearly impossible to say natural forces are to blame.

What that means in simple language is "we have this nailed," said top U.S. climate scientist Jerry Mahlman, who originated the percentage system.

Nice that we are mostly all agreed on that caused by humans bit. Too bad it looks like too late to do anything much about it. I hope I'm wrong in understanding the conclusions of the report that pessimistically.

The politics of all this is quite interesting:

The senior authors of the report, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. body convened every five years or so, have been inundated with e-mail messages and calls from some of the 650 other authors and outside experts eager to see findings tweaked in one direction or another.

With the clock ticking down and translators juggling six official languages, and government representatives trying to ensure that findings do not clash with national interests, tussles have intensified between climate experts and political appointees from participating governments.

Scientists involved in the discussions said today that the U.S. delegation, led by political appointees, was pressing to play down language pointing to a link between intensification of hurricanes and warming caused by human activity.

I don't know what to say about that all.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

This Sunday's Action Alert

The Grey Lady does not like women very much, if the kinds of columnists she regularly hires is any indication. Though getting rid of John Tierney's sermons about us ladies and our insignificance was a blessing, the truth is that the New York Times does not have very many female columnists at all. Maureen Dowd and Lisa Belkin come to mind.

Now Lisa Belkin's column on balancing work and family has been moved to the Business section of the paper, and some women readers don't like this at all. From an e-mail I got*:

Hi, friends, if you're like me either because you know Lisa or just love her column in the NY Times on the precarious balance between life and work that each of us is trying our best to accomplish (survive?) every week you may have been surprised last week when you couldn't find the column. It turns out that the Times has squished the careers section into the business section -- and Lisa's column along with it! Kinda rude to do to someone who has more comments and emails about her column than anyone except Maureen Dowd and Tom Friedman. And then I thought again, that it's actually an affront to all working women. How much less important could we women, the majority of subscribers, be to the NY Times!! This from a paper that has just one other regular columnist who is a woman!!

So, I wanted to ask for your help in moving the Grey Lady with an email campaign? I think we should wait until this Sunday so we can say that we may have missed the column last week but felt for sure that it would pop up again this week -- but alas, the column written specifically by and for us working women has disappeared!

Send an email to Bill Keller, the managing editor of the times ( starting on Sunday with the following talking points: (feel free to put it into your own words, don't want him to think that it is a canned campaign):

* Love the column and can't find it
* Feel slighted that the issue of work/life seems to have taken a back seat there
* Wonder what it would take for the Times to take women subscribers and women columnists seriously
* Why not move the column to the front of the business section or the op-ed page, on serious real estate, where it belongs?

I don't think you have to be a subscriber to find this offensive, just a woman trying to balance everything is enough!

Please pass this message onto your girlfriends who are also doing their very best to balance work and life.

Not a bad idea for something to do on a Sunday morning or afternoon.
*I'm not sure if the original sender wants her name made public or not so I omitted it here.

Congratulate Shakes

First Amanda and now Shakespeare's Sister. She, too, has joined the Edwards blog. This is wonderful news for women bloggers and suggests that our voices are beginning to be heard!

Now I will just sit back and wait for Sam Brownback to hire me for his net campaign...

Tweety Hates Girls

"Tweety" is Chris Matthews, the man who hosts Hardball, a political talk-show and "girls" is how Tweety sees women. He really is uncomfortable (imagine tugging at the collar and wiping off sweat from the noble forehead) with women in any kind of power. Other than sexual power. Some examples:

MATTHEWS SCANS THE LOBBY: To help you grasp the soul of your "press corps," let's return to the charity event we glancingly described in October 2005. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/24/05. Scroll down to "Culture Corner.") The emcee that night was Kathleen Matthews, then of Washington's Channel 7. On the way out of the Mayflower Hotel, we saw her husband, TV talker Chris Matthews, chatting with DC journo Mark Plotkin. We don't know Plotkin, but we know Chris a tad. So we decided to stop for a chat rather than walking on by.

"Tough crowd tonight," we thoughtfully said. Chris then offered us a look at the odd soul of the Washington press corps. His eyes stared past ours, scanning the Mayflower's block-long lobby in a classic thousand-yard stare. "I just saw the most incredible prostitute," he weirdly said. (Instead of "prostitute," he may have said "hooker.")

To Plotkin's credit—again, we don't know him—he seemed to be just as surprised as we were by Chris' oddball comment. But Chris wasn't through with his weird discussion; his eyes continued to scan the long hall as he said something like, "Yeah, you have to ask for the 'pink sheet' rooms when you check in." (Not an exact quote.) At no point did Plotkin seem to think that this was a recognizable topic. For ourselves, we'd have to say it was the strangest thing any man has ever said to us. No, it simply isn't our experience that men make such weird comments to other men—much less, to men whom they barely know. Men like Matthews apparently think that this is standard male discussion. (We googled and Nexised "pink sheet" the next day. We found no usage which conformed to what Chris had said.)

We mention this oddness, fifteen months later, because we've finally come to feel that people simply must get the fullest picture of the people who run their "press corps." We also mention it in the face of Matthews' endless rude remarks about Hillary Clinton—rude, sneering, gender-based insults which continue to show one part of the soul of this millionaire cohort.

Until the day he's made to stop, Matthews will continue his sneering remarks about Clinton. He'll call her "Dukakis in a dress." He'll say she reminds him of "a stripteaser." He'll pretend, as he did last Thursday and Friday, that Bill Clinton has called her an "uppity woman" (text below). These sneering, gender-based comments and insults will be available each evening on Hardball.

So now you know about Tweety and his secrets.