Friday, November 07, 2008

Women as a voting bloc (by Suzie)


         In 1994, I questioned (in print) why women don't elect more women to office, considering that we constitute a majority of voters. Because this question continues, I thought people might be interested in an excerpt from that article:
         Voters value ethnicity, religion and party politics more than gender, explains Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida. These values start in the home: Black children learn early about slavery, as do Jewish children about the Holocaust. But many girls don't hear about women's history until sometime later in school, MacManus says.
          Society has not paid as much attention to discrimination against women, she says, and people are less likely to agree about it - and less likely to think about it when they go to the polls.
          Women don't have the sort of group consciousness that creates a voting bloc, says Pamela Conover, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. "The core of group politics is us vs. them."
          Ethnic groups that are somewhat segregated can see how ethnicity affects their lives and can recognize shared interests. Integration breaks down that group thinking, Conover says, and no group is more integrated than women.
          "We sleep with the enemy. We live with them. We love them. They are our families. It's harder to get women to think in "us vs. them' terms."
           After women won the vote, men ... convinced many women that politics should be left up to the men, Conover says. Many women who were adults when the suffrage amendment passed never voted.
           "In my mother's generation, you voted, but you voted how your husband told you to," she adds.
       This article relates to Ann Nixon Cooper, a 106-year-old voter mentioned in Obama's victory speech. An Associated Press story notes that she first registered to vote in 1941.
Though she was friends with elite black Atlantans like W.E.B. Du Bois, John Hope Franklin and Benjamin E. Mays, because of her status as a black woman in a segregated and sexist society, she didn’t exercise her right to vote for years.

Instead, she deferred to her husband — Dr Albert B. Cooper, a prominent Atlanta dentist — who “voted for the house.”
          Black men began to vote in Atlanta in 1867 and at least some continued to do so, despite violence and statutory limitations. Women got the right to vote in 1920. Here's a good essay on the history of black voting in Atlanta. But it has little on black women, an issue raised in this article.
           For a related post, please see what Echidne wrote in her back-to-the-basics series: "That women are so integrated on that most primal of levels probably explains why sexism is harder to see than other -isms which oppress people."        

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Echidne The Career Advisor Auntie (Viewer Advisory: Ranting)

Here comes your pretty lead parachute for your career (not pink, not blue, not golden: lead): Become a writer who advocates for women's rights! It's a wonderful life, full of interesting debates and battles and you can piss off your nearest and dearest without any effort. You will stay in excellent mental shape, because your enemies are always looking for a way to take you down.

And those enemies abound. Let me count the groups:

1. Misogynists. Self-explanatory.
2. Religious fundamentalists. Self-explanatory.
3. The male-dominance-is-natural-and-impossible-to-change crowd among evolutionary psychologists.
4. Men who like women the way I like spaghetti with pesto. I don't want the pesto to get up and demand a plate and a fork, either.
5. Women who like men who like women the way I like spaghetti with pesto.
6. Men and women who are oblivious to the anti-woman aspects of our society and who don't want to be made to see it.
7. Men and women who benefit from the anti-woman aspects of our society.
8. People in the feminist movement who don't find you adequately feminist.
9. People in the feminist movement who find you feminist in the wrong way.
10. People in the feminist movement who find you far too feminist, thus ignoring the awful lot of male human beings.
11. The Independent Women's Forum gals.
12. Guys who want to talk about tits and cunts and to tell sexist jokes without getting told off by a prissy feminist. (Why is PMS the name of the premenstrual tension syndrome? Because mad cow disease was already taken.)
13. Almost anyone you pester by bringing up unimportant and stupid special interest topics about women when the Whole World Is Collapsing. Also anyone you appear to be blaming for the lot of women in this world. Anyone you give feelings of guilt.

Now isn't that list great fun? You get to debate them all! AND you get the honorary title of a Man-Hater.

What about the money, some of you might wonder. Don't you at least get rich doing all that work?

Well, at least I got a good belly laugh from that last question.

The Job With No Paycheck

What are First Ladies for? I suspect that their two most important tasks are to humanize the president and to give us all a nice empty bowl into which we can pour our preconditions, desires and fears about the gender roles in the United States. Hence the need to criticize the softness or hardness of the First Lady candidates in this presidential race, the need to find out if she dares to meddle in men's affairs or not, the need to reassure ourselves (well, for some of us) that he indeed is the boss in that family. Oh, and she is also supposed to be open to fashion critiques.

But in addition to that job, largely not seen as a job, the First Ladies also work quite hard. They have to be present at all those dos, to preside over countless dinners, to attend zillions of events, to travel, to smile, to shake hands, to answer letters and to work on some harmless-looking but oh-so-important-topic which actually isn't going to go anywhere. It's quite a hard job, being the First Lady, you know, with very long hours, a staff and a budget.

So what's the pay for this job, eh? As far as I can ascertain, there is no paycheck at all. None. This doesn't matter in the real-world financial sense, because she gets money from the president, just as all those other little ladies do. Perhaps that's her paycheck? But then she is his employee, not the employee of the whole country. Like a private social secretary and housekeeper and PR person all rolled into one.

Thinking about all this yields some heady feminist analysis, you know. Note that the First Lady is viewed as free labor for the country. The presidents are supposed to come with one, as part of their staff. How she is paid is up to him. What would happen if we got a president with no wife? Would he then be allowed to hire someone for the job and to actually pay the person out of federal funds? Or would we assume that he could do all that and presidenting, without any extra funding?

What all this means for the Obamas is that we view his election as a labor contract between not just Barack Obama and the country but also between Michelle Obama and the country. Yet she is not getting paid, because she is really viewed as part and parcel of him. I'm not sure why everybody feels free to criticize the First Ladies when they are not even paid for the job.

Turning Away From The Abyss

That is the first meaning of this election for me. I'm overjoyed by having an African-American president for this country, but I'm even more overjoyed (should such a thing be possible) about the way we have managed, at the very last minute, to grab the steering wheel of this bus we call the United States and to stop it from its imminent careen into an abyss. Now we can wipe our foreheads, take a couple of deep breaths and then start working on all that damage the bus has. There's a lot of work ahead (those wheels must go back on, for example) and progress will initially consist of just all that delayed maintenance. But don't forget that it really is progress.

Glenn Greenwald points out an important aspect of that maintenance: Two or three Supreme Court Justices are likely to retire in the next four years. Had McCain been elected, the court would have become a rubber stamp for the Republican Party.

My New Approach

These days after the election feel like the beginning of a new year. My new year's promise is to become more demanding. I have been far too hesitant and nice. (*Bites off the head of a mouse.*)

Let's take this piece of news from Wednesday:

Papal officials, Islamic leaders and scholars began a historic summit in the Vatican yesterday, aimed at laying the foundations for better understanding between Catholics and Muslims, and averting future crises in relations between the world's biggest religions.

The three-day meeting is a direct outcome of the Muslim reaction to the Pope's controversial address in 2006 in which he appeared to link Islam with violence and irrationality. Last year, 138 Muslim scholars and clerics, dismayed by the violence the speech had provoked and fearing a "clash of civilisations", issued a manifesto stressing the values shared by Islam and Christianity.

I demand to know how many women participated in this summit on each side, both as absolute numbers and as percentages. If the numbers are tiny or non-existent I demand that the summit be called something suitably boyish.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


This source suggests that President-Elect Obama might consider Lawrence Summers for his cabinet. I hope that someone points out to him the reasons why picking Summers would be a very nasty gesture to one group of voters.

Welcome to the meritocracy (by Suzie)

         Echidne, forgive me for posting now instead of Friday, but I couldn't wait to share the good news of the meritocracy.
         In McCain's concession speech, he implied that electing an African-American as president proves that anyone can succeed in this country if they work hard enough. If they don't succeed, it has nothing to do with obstacles, but with their own wounds. We should expect this theme to continue.
        I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too. But we both recognize that though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.
         A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to visit -- to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now -- (cheers, applause) -- let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.
          Democrats are co-opted because of the narrative adopted about Obama. For example: I just came back from Ecuador, and I talked to people there who found him inspiring because they thought he had risen from great poverty. I related this to the friend who picked me up at the airport, and she agreed that this was true. Saying that isn't true does not take away from the fact that he has achieved something historic.
          In his victory speech, Obama described his campaign as coming from the grass roots, minimizing the incredible organization and marketing efforts, and the reliance on super delegates for the nomination. Now that he's elected, I wish we could stop mythologizing him.
         I have friends who adopted the talking point that Obama has a great ability to unite, forgetting the divide of the primary. I don't think he could have won if the Clintons had not campaigned their hearts out, rallying Hillary supporters like me. I wish he had added her name to the many people he thanked in his speech.
        Bonnie Erbe also wonders what Obama may do to repay his debt to her. 

Music For Today

Nina Simone and "Here Comes The Sun"

This is Good. This is Bad.

On the whole the elections led to defeats of anti-choice ballot initiatives and to a more pro-choice Congress. I'm too tired to write a careful post on this yet, but Colorado defeated the proposal to define fertilized eggs as human beings and South Dakota defeated the proposal to criminalize almost all abortions (once Roe would be overturned). As an example of a more pro-choice Congress, John Sununu (who is anti-choice) lost to Jeanne Shaheen (who is pro-choice) in New Hampshire's Senate race.

Proposition 8 in California is about to pass. It bans same-sex marriage in the state of California. If you are interested in the demographics of those who voted for and against this initiative, check out the exit polls. Similar bans also passed in Florida and Arizona.

Someone Had To Pee in the Punch Bowl

Imagine me dancing around the house, giving snakes cold kisses and feeling -- well, divine -- about Barack Obama's election victory. Then on MSNBC I get to hear Michelle Bernard, one of the Independent Women's Forum gals (an anti-feminist group), expound upon whose victory this really was: It was a victory for the manhood of black men. Black men needed to get their manhood back. Then she added something about wanting no e-mails from her African-American sisters about this. So the victory was for black men and nobody else, I guess. Certainly not for black women.

I then looked up this "favorite guest" of Chris Matthews. And I find that she wrote this last June:

Does sexism still exist in America and are some voters unlikely to choose a woman for president? Of course. But racism also still exists, and undoubtedly has cost Senator Obama as many votes as sexism has cost Senator Clinton. Indeed, both Clintons have played the race card. To Senator Obama's credit, he has not wasted his time whining about this ugly historical legacy, but has worked to create a new reality.

Consider the membership of the U.S. Senate. There are fifteen women and one African-American. Is sex or race the bigger barrier to winning high office?

Here it looks like she's comparing the effects of racism and sexism, and we are supposed to use "fifteen" and "one" as the crucial numbers (without relating them to the population numbers of women and African-Americans, I guess, which is incorrect use of statistics).

But now we aren't even supposed to let African-American women enjoy this election victory! Not only does she prioritize racism over sexism as she did last summer (thus joining the Oppression Olympics); she now redefines the victory as a victory for black men.

Chris Matthews looked like a cat who had just lapped up a saucer of heavy cream, with a big grin on his face. He is a misogynistic asshole.

And on top of all this, women's votes were crucial in getting Barack Obama elected.

From Emily's List

This information:

EMILY’s List Helps Elect Hagan and Shaheen – only the 14th and 15th Democratic women to have ever been elected to the US Senate in their own right.

EMILY’s List Helps Elect the Second Largest Group of New Democratic Women to the House in History

With four victories earlier this cycle in MA-05, MD-04, CA-37 and CA-12 – and the victories tonight, we helped elect the largest new group of Democratic women to the house since 1992. As of midnight, those victories include:

· In Florida, Suzanne Kosmas overcame outrageous attacks and defeated ethically-challenged incumbent Rep. Tom Feeney.

· In Illinois, Debbie Halvorson prevailed against wealthy self-funder Marty Ozinga in one of the most competitive races for the U.S. House.

· In Colorado, Betsy Markey fought back against nasty personal attacks to defeat right-wing extremist incumbent Rep. Marilyn Musgrave.

· In Arizona, Ann Kirkpatrick won a strong race to defeat anti-choice mining lobbyist Sydney Hay to take this seat back for Democrats.

· In Maine, progressive champion Chellie Pingree won a tough primary and went on to defeat Charlie Summers.

· In Ohio, Marcia Fudge has confirmed her place in the house to continue the tremendous work of the late Stephanie Tubbs-Jones.

Democratic Women Sweep North Carolina

Along with Kay Hagan’s victory, North Carolina made history tonight by electing Bev Perdue it’s first woman governor. EMILY’s List Political Opportunity Program also helped create victories for two other Democratic women running statewide in North Carolina: Janet Cowell, who is the first women elected as state treasurer, and Beth Woods, who will take office as state auditor.

EMILY’s List Political Opportunity Program Helps Take Back the New York Senate

It has been 85 years since Democrats control the New York State Senate. The EMILY’s List Political Opportunity program has been working with the New York Senate Campaign Committee for three election cycles to turn that around. Tonight that partnership paid off, giving Democratic control of the Senate and putting the Democratic leadership firmly in control of the critical redistricting in New York.

Note that these are not necessarily final news and I haven't yet dug up information on Republican women in the House and the Senate. That will be later today. In the meantime, this site has some results.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Thread

This thread will be about the results as they come in. Use the comments thread to discuss the elections, your voting experiences, what you'd like to see happen in the next few months in government, what your favorite dessert is and how much you adore me. Stuff like that.

Indiana results have started coming in. More generally, CNN has the whole country results here.

This map from MSNBC is updated as results are predicted. Kentucky has been called for McCain. I'm not sure how reliable the map is. MSNBC also has a live feed here.
(Yes, my lovelies, women in their election coverage are indeed represented by Rachel. One woman is plenty for 51% of the population.)

8:20pm. Senate: Jeanne Shaheen (D) is projected to win over John Sununu (R) in New Hampshire.
8:36pm. Senate: Kay Hagan (D) is projected to win over Elizabeth Dole (R) in North Carolina.
9:29pm. Ohio is predicted to go to Obama. It's getting difficult for McCain to win this. Not impossible, but difficult. And yes, the MSNCB still has only one person of the girly persuasion. Plenty for 51% of Americans.
9:31pm. New Mexico is predicted to go to Obama. Ohio and New Mexico are both swing states.
10:10pm. Some very good news: The South Dakota "draconian" abortion ban failed. So did the Colorado proposal to define a fertilized egg as a human being.
10:21pm. Colorado predicted to go to Obama! I'm especially pleased with that one because it contains Wingnuttia Central.
11:00pm. MSNBC CALLS IT FOR OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Voice From The Past

In honor of my fifth anniversary as a blogger I'm reposting some old pieces. This was posted on November 30 2003:
Today's quote comes from Rose Macaulay: Mystery at Geneva (1923):

All sorts of articles and letters appear in the papers about women. Profound questions are raised concerning them. Should they smoke? Should they work? Vote? Marry? Exist? Are not their skirts too short, or their sleeves? Have they a sense of humor, of honor, of direction? Are spinsters superfluous? But how seldom similar inquiries are propounded about men.

The more things change...
Isn't it funny? Not funny-ha-ha, of course, but funny in any case. We are still asking which things women are allowed to do and what the problem with women might be.

Art on the Beach

This story is fascinating, in its way, about a large Obama painting or sculpture (not sure which it is technically):

Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez Gerada and an army of helpers sculpted it from sand on a Barcelona beach in northeastern Spain.

The team battled days of rain to finish just ahead of Tuesday's election. It is 140 yards long by 80 yards wide — big enough, Rodriguez Gerada hopes — to be photographed on Google Earth. The face was created using 500 tons of sand, gravel and white, brown and black pebbles at a cost of more than $13,000.

The team largely funded the project themselves, and the city agreed to let them use a stretch of beachfront at no cost.

Rodriguez Gerada says he did not intend to endorse Obama.

"The piece is not really based on giving support to Barack Obama," he said. "It is more about questioning Obama-mania."

Still, Rodriguez Gerada said he chose the large format as an allusion to the global importance of the American vote, and to represent the hope Obama has inspired in his supporters.

You can see the artwork here. The ubiquity of photo shopping makes the picture less impressive than it should be.

What about "Obama-mania?" Now that's a tricky topic to discuss, for all sorts of reasons. To have hope is so important and to demand more from politicians is also important. Yet to put all one's hopes on the shoulders of one man is most likely a recipe for disappointment. No one person can change a whole political system overnight, especially when the system is in an extremely precarious state of health and requires many painful and protracted treatments to recover. No one person should be expected to do that. It's too big a burden, and in any case Obama is a fairly middle-of-the-road kind of guy in his actual policy proposals.

At the same time, not to have those kinds of hopes is a recipe for utter cynicism. What we have lived through in the last eight years requires a vast correction in both actual policies and in political engagement, and for us to be able to make that correction requires hope and optimism and the willingness to work very hard.

In a sense, then, I think we should both hope and not-hope, at the same time. Perhaps this is the "optimism in hope, pessimism in expectations" that I've read about.

Then again, ProfWombat makes a good case for just plain old hope.

On Election Day

Vote if you haven't already. Then a very, very stupid question:

Why on earth are the elections not held over a Saturday and a Sunday?

More people could vote with fewer sacrifices (in terms of lost pay, having to work overtime to make up lost work or having to hire childcare) and that usually means that more people would vote in general. Employers should love this, because most of them don't need workers over the weekends and thus wouldn't lose money over the elections. If the polls were open two days the question of either one of them being someone's religious holy day would be less important.

Alternatively, voting could be organized in some high tech form. That these simple remedies are not strongly supported, that registering to vote is made as burdensome as possible in many states, all this suggests that the real intention is not to have too many people vote.
Added later: Amanda has done a proper post on this topic.

Miles to go (by Skylanda)

Normally Echidne only lets us guest posters post on the weekend. My hope is that she'll forgive me this one little trespass into her weekday dominion.

I can't remember where I got this graphic from - I believe it arrived un-bidden in my inbox, and I think there's a citation on the bottom. I like it.

But it's not quite time for cheers and toasts and bottoms up, the time has not yet come to chill. That time may come - maybe not, we will see - but this morning, as the sun rises across each state, there's still work to be done.

So this morning, here's a post of praise and of thanks.

Thanks to every precinct worker who is out this morning in the cold of a northern November morning - or a hot Florida fall day - making democracy work for all of us.

A shout out to every canvasser pushing to get out the vote for progressive candidates everywhere.

A sigh of sympathy to every citizen of a foreign nation who is sitting on their hands tonight knowing that though they have no say at all in our election, their fate is profoundly bound up - for better or for worse - in who we elect to the American presidency today.

A thunderous cheer for the voter registration workers that have newly enfranchised thousands - nay, millions - of voters from traditionally marginalized walks of life, some of whom have been at the edges of representational democracy since the days of Jim Crow. Not since the beginning of the Civil Rights movement has there been such a push to see so many Americans take their rightful place among the voting public, and not since then have we had such hope for a government that truly represents an America that looks like all of us.

And to every poll worker, voter support crew, and door-to-door street canvasser, who will be working those dawn to dusk shifts today to ensure that voters are able to exercise their rights in those contested and crowded precincts: if there is celebrating to be done tonight, it will be in your name and in your honor. Until then, as the old poem goes, miles to go before we sleep. Miles to go before we sleep.

One way or another, the race is on: here we go. Any way it shakes out, November 5th, 2008 will be a hangover to remember. I'll see you on the flip side.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Useful Reminder

If you somehow missed my six-part (so far) series on the need for feminism, you can still read it!

1. The Right to Go Out

2. Planet of the Guys

3. Our Father Who Art in Heaven

4. The Invisible Women

5. The Female Body as Property

6. The Longest Revolution

Go Vote

Perhaps not something I need to remind anyone who reads this blog, but remember to vote. As Hecate (of this blog) pointed out last night, people have fought, struggled and died for the right to vote. Such a gift for us, such an honor and such a responsibility.

And of course the election outcome is of utter importance right now.

Fun With Free Markets

Not really, but this coincidence is worth pointing out: First the Chinese are now having trouble with melamine-tainted eggs. Melamine is suppposed to be used in kitchen counter-tops and the like, not in food, but it gets there because it registers as protein in the cheapest ways to measure protein and it's a lot cheaper than protein for the producers. Of course it's not a food...

You may remember melamine in pet food and how it killed cats and dogs in the U.S., then in milk which killed small children in China, then in candy and so on, and now in eggs. An unregulated market with less than perfect information provides incentives for stuff like this, and that is one of the reasons markets need rules and regulations. Of course it's true that markets often ultimately "self-correct" (though it's the government who has gone in to destroy the melamine-tainted animal feed), as is the case in China right now. But the cost is a lot of death and a complete collapse of the markets in which the problems finally are diagnosed. Just ask the Chinese dairy farmers.

That's the first set of events. The second set is this: Behind our backs while we are all eagerly looking towards the elections and the next administration the current administration is busily scratching consumer-protections and environmental protections everywhere. De-regulating the markets as busily as it can!

A Voice From The Past

I'm coming up for my five-year blogoversary, and I decided to repost some of my earliest posts as a part of the celebration. This one is an early post explaining more about me as a goddess. It's quite funny, too. You can click on the original to see the hyperlinks, some of which still work.

Pornography Goes Mainstream
Did I ever mention that retired gods and goddesses may sometimes take human form? Aphrodite has chosen to become an eighty-year old widow living in Florida. She adores Mickey Mouse, neon pink golf carts and polyester pant suits. She was really fed up with her long reign as a sex goddess, and wanted a more active life. I stopped by recently. We had a ball.

She took me to this new Viennese tearoom for women. They served exquisite little pastries, and the place was packed with 'dite's cronies. After we were served our cappuccinos, the waitress told us to help ourselves to all the tidbits on the center table. Can you believe this? The cakes and pastries were daintily arranged on the reclining still form of a gorgeous naked man? He was a real cupcake!

I reached out for a canape in his left armpit and watched his pupils dilate. His eyes moved to point at the large painted sign which warned against any bodily interference with the 'model'. So we could only look, not touch. And look we did.

I asked the waitress if the tearoom had had any problems with meninists protesting against their use of a male platter. She laughed and said that all publicity was good publicity. Besides, everybody knew that meninists had no sense of humor. We all agreed that we really respected and admired men, especially this lovely studmuffin!

When we were replete with cakes and the platter covered but with crumbs, 'dite took me back to her condo to watch some daytime soaps. I kept nodding off on the couch until she turned the channel to Oprah's show. The day's topic was "Getting in Touch with Your Inner Erection". It seemed to consist of some man flogging his book on 'bagel dancing'. The gyrations and contortions around a bagel suspended from a string in the ceiling were supposed to make men fit and better in the marital bed. I started feeling slight bouts of indigestion. I'm not a prude, as any of you may check on the Google, but this was just getting to be too much.

Men are people, too, after all. What was going on? Had 'dite interfered with earth's essential vibrational frequency? She adamantly denied having anything to do with these sexxee developments among men. Supposedly men had just collectively decided that titillating women was sex-positive and healthy. As proof 'dite mentioned a newspaper article about men's athletic wear stores in Paris. To drum up more business, these stores had hired coaches to teach men how to remove their jockstraps in an alluring fashion. One young man was quoted as saying that he had never before really understood how important it was to remove the football socks before rather than afterwards. The store had hung up framed sayings supposedly by Simone de Beauvoir: "The high time of the day on the sports fields is not when a man suits up but when he takes it all off for his woman."

I did mention to Aphrodite that according to the article there had been protests by some men's groups outside the store. She waved this detail away with her tennis-braceleted arm and pointed out an ad in a magazine I was leafing through as further proof of the same trend in sexual liberation. The ad was selling sweatshop-free underwear for men, but the pictures were extremely revealing crotch shots from below.

"Sort of pornographic, don't you think?" I asked. She nodded. "Porn has gone mainstream now. Care for a round of golf?"


I have slightly played with the truth in recounting this story. If you insist on the more politically correct but boring facts, here they are: Sushi served on a naked female, pole-dancing on Oprah, Parisian strip-tease lessons for women who buy underwear and American Apparel's ad for women's panties.

An interesting postscript:1. Folks in Seattle decided to alter the world to match my story better. That's the power of goddesses for you. See naked men as doughnut platters. 2. Daniel sent me this. It is a Swedish revision story of pornography going mainstream. In actual pictures. "Ombytta roller" means swopped sex roles. Just keep clicking on "mer sex"! I bet Aphrodite is behind this one, too.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunday Music Blogging (by Phila)

I posted this at my place earlier, but figured I might as well put it here, too.

Rock Out With Your Glock Out (by Phila)

Doug Giles encourages "young dudes" to quit being "wussies" and realize that Obama is gonna, like, totally take away their freakin' guns, man! For reals!
Yep, Dufus, if Barack becomes dictator — I mean president — and you begin to see your right to bear arms erode like Bill Clinton’s conscience at Hooters and you commence to spot the sport of hunting disappearing like a massive bag of Cheetos in front of a rather peckish Rosie O’Donnell, I sure as heck don’t want to hear any of you Obama backing wussies whine about it.
Fuckin' A! If Giles' gnarly, balls-out 'tude isn't enough to convince you, I suggest that you commence to spot the fact that "Obama supports gun owner licensing and gun registration." Worse, he "voted to limit gun purchases to one per month." Check it out, dude: Do you want to prevent Bill Clinton from sexually assaulting your mother, and save your Easter ham from being swallowed whole by that fat dyke Rosie O'Donnell? If so, it's gonna take two or three guns, minimum. Anything less would be like trying to screw [insert stupid liberal bitch's name here] without a bottle of Viagra and a burlap sack. Am I right, dudes, or am I right?

Obama has also voted to "ban almost all rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and sport shooting (United States Senate, S.397, 7/29/05)." If you're a pencil-dicked wussie like me, something about the phrasing of this complaint might inspire you to revisit what the bill in question actually said. As it happens, S. 397 was sponsored by that consummate he-man Larry Craig, and was intended "to prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition." Ted Kennedy offered an amendment that would've protected police officers by restricting the use of armor-piercing ammo in handguns, and Obama wisely supported it. (It failed, by the way.)

Since all regulations on ammo are, by definition, part of a plot to impose metrosexual tyranny on full-blooded American dudes, it was obvious to the cognoscenti that this was a back-door (!) attempt to make deer-hunting (and, by extension, traditional masculinity) impossible. If you can imagine it happening, it will happen; denials, appeals to logic, and facts to the contrary signify nothing more than the lengths "they" will go to deceive tough-minded (yet hopelessly insecure) gun owners:
I know what some of you are thinking: Garsh Doug, Obama said he would “let us” keep our guns, and he doesn’t have a problem with hunting. Yes, I know that Barack said that, Dinky. He also said that Ayers is just a dude from his neighborhood, he didn’t know Rev. Wright was a freak, Iran is a little non-threatening nation, “spreading the wealth” is not socialism and Michelle Obama really is nice and loves America.

Totally! TMI! Don't even go there! Talk to the hand!

In summation, whether you're a young white dude in Overland Park who plans to buy three assault weapons this month, or a young black crack dealer in West Baltimore, for whom Michelle Obama's message of hatred and vengeance is all compelling, Giles has some friendly, totally non-wussified advice for you:
So . . . young dude . . . before you do something goofy on November 4th by voting for Obama, please, my young gun and hunting fan, please go to Starbucks, order a double espresso and wake the hell up and vote for your Glock.
Just for the record, Giles is a preacher who claims to keep the dominionist RJ Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law on his desk, and sees himself as "injecting some testosterone [at last!] into the church."

A Busy Period (by Phila)

We all remember how the Clinton team vandalized the White House after the 2000 election, in a last-minute orgy of petulance before the Adults came in to restore order. Although it didn't actually happen, it nonetheless communicated something essential about the horrific nature of the Clinton Regime: The fact that they didn't do it doesn't mean they couldn't have, or didn't want to; there's no smoke without fire, after all.

The Bush Administration, by contrast, prefers to spend its last hours vandalizing the entire continent:
As the U.S. presidential candidates sprint toward the finish line, the Bush administration is also sprinting to enact environmental policy changes before leaving power.

Whether it's getting wolves off the Endangered Species List, allowing power plants to operate near national parks, loosening regulations for factory farm waste or making it easier for mountaintop coal-mining operations, these proposed changes have found little favor with environmental groups.
Well, those people are always complaining. People who matter seem to be quite happy with the effort, not least because BushCo is taking careful steps to ensure that the regulations will come into force before the inauguration:
The burst of activity has made this a busy period for lobbyists who fear that industry views will hold less sway after the elections. The doors at the New Executive Office Building have been whirling with corporate officials and advisers pleading for relief or, in many cases, for hastened decision making.

According to the Office of Management and Budget's regulatory calendar, the commercial scallop-fishing industry came in two weeks ago to urge that proposed catch limits be eased, nearly bumping into National Mining Association officials making the case for easing rules meant to keep coal slurry waste out of Appalachian streams. A few days earlier, lawyers for kidney dialysis and biotechnology companies registered their complaints at the OMB about new Medicare reimbursement rules. Lobbyists for customs brokers complained about proposed counterterrorism rules that require the advance reporting of shipping data.
Here's my favorite part:
One rule, being pursued over some opposition within the Environmental Protection Agency, would allow current emissions at a power plant to match the highest levels produced by that plant, overturning a rule that more strictly limits such emission increases. According to the EPA's estimate, it would allow millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, worsening global warming....

Jonathan Shradar, an EPA spokesman, said that he could not discuss specifics but added that "we strive to protect human health and the environment." Any rule the agency completes, he said, "is more stringent than the previous one."
That seems like a crazy thing to say, until you consider who benefits from this increased "stringency."

I don't think it's remotely realistic to believe that McCain would undo this damage if he were elected. I also think it'd be dangerous, if not fatal, to wait until 2012 to start working on the project. That leaves Obama as my only hope, which doesn't exactly fill me with confidence; while I'm pretty certain that he has the political skill to defuse these environmental time bombs, I'm not entirely convinced he has the will. If he's elected, I'd like to see a task force dedicated to solving this problem within the first 30-60 days of his administration (if not before).

Granting that some people on the Left remain unwilling to vote for Obama, for whatever reason, I hope we can all agree that these changes are unconscionable, and that we'll all be willing to apply whatever pressure it takes to get these insane, brutal, stupid anti-regulations overturned.

"Science " Undermining The Efficacy of Reason Is Inescapably Anti-Democratic by Anthony McCarthy

As a never ending source of soc-sci nonsense, the well known Boston Globe’s Sunday “Ideas” section can be lots of fun. But this morning’s nonsense about political and even partisan political behavior being biologically determined strikes me as both absurd and dangerous.

Eve LaPlante joins a list of “Ideas” scribblers in undermining the assumed efficacy of such antiquated and romantic concepts as reason, which many of us take as one of the essential guarantees of effective beneficial political action, in favor of the, frankly, scientistic-religious iconography of “brain scans” and those always at hand, twin studies. Her faith in the arising priesthood of political scientists aping alleged scientific methodology, would be “scientists” of "political physiology", is sufficient that not a single word of skepticism is allowed to enter her article in today’s paper.

As with so much of this bilge, those hankering after the prestige and glamor given to this kind of stuff, cog-sci glam boy Steven Pinker was an inspiration:

John Alford, one of the study's authors, said that these genetic study results, along with his reading of Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker's "The Blank Slate," persuaded him and other scholars to embark on a quest to uncover the physical correlates of political ideology. Pinker's book argues against the popular conception of the brain as a blank slate, which in his view skews research across disciplines, in favor of the notion that the brain possesses innate qualities that influence individual experience and opinions.

"To what degree are we political scientists guilty of implicitly assuming that the human brain is a blank slate?" Alford recalls wondering. Does political ideology have roots in biology? Could genes predict how someone might vote?

The next step for the young field was to look for ways that genetics and biology might affect social and political opinions. "We needed to find an actual path from genetics to how people feel about political issues of the day," Hibbing said, "and then to see what physical systems are involved in these feelings about politics."

Passing up the clear fallacy of equating an (alleged) correlate with causation, I just love how “ the next step” is always the same, to get a few scans of brains, a few of those wonderfully predictable “twin studies” and a few dozen non-randomly chosen test subjects together to invent an entire new “field” of “science” For example:

A subject of this study, seated in a chair in the lab, is a resident of Lincoln, Neb., who has been identified from random phone calls. In the initial phone call the subject indicated to researchers that she felt strongly about a political issue or had based a vote on the basis of a single issue. Since then she has responded to a lengthy questionnaire about her political attitudes.

As the images and noises are presented, a machine records the subject's physical responses. An electrode above her eye measures automatic muscle movements that make up the "blink startle" response. A lead attached to her finger measures "skin conductance," the amount of perspiration on the skin, another physiological sign of stress.

After examining 46 such subjects, researchers found a strong correlation between subjects' political attitudes and their physiological responses to threat. People who showed more "blink startle" and perspiration after a threatening stimulus tended to cluster on the right politically. They advocated capital punishment, school prayer, and defense spending, and they supported the Iraq war.

In contrast, liberals - who supported "less protectionist" policies such as gun control, open immigration, and increased foreign aid - showed significantly less physical response to the threatening stimuli. While education had some effect on the results, subjects' blink and skin-conductance responses were much better predictors of their political attitudes. And the degree to which a person was startled by threatening stimuli indicated how much he or she advocated policies that protect society from external and internal threats such as wars and crime.

46 test subjects. 46. And that's divided into two groups, so let's assume actual samples of 23. If you could find 46 randomly selected subjects and come up with a coherent description of “conservatism” or “liberalism” as sufficiently fixed category so as to form, unanimity among short-lived political discussion groups, it would be a miracle. If university level political science “scholars” can’t appreciate the complexity of what these guys are proposing to do science about, they don’t need to be branching out but handing out dope slaps.

Of course, behavior sci being what it is today, the entire shoddy mess is alleged to demonstrate evolutionary adaptation.

In fact, viewed through the long lens of evolutionary time, it would seem that the two camps depend on each other. A person who's hard-wired to protect himself from danger may be able to avoid getting eaten by an attacking tiger - while his neighbor, who's hard-wired to adapt to change, may sense an impending Ice Age in time to escape.

This is the reassuring note offered by political physiology at the end of another long, divisive American presidential campaign.

"The biological variation between liberals and conservatives is itself adaptive," Alford said.

The evo-psy habit of pretending what it says it sees through their entirely imaginary "long lense" can function as real science has become one of the most pervasive and insane manias of our intellectual class. There doesn’t seem to be much of any protest against it by real scientists, though I’d imagine eventually a reaction is going to set in.

But protecting the integrity of science is the business of scientists. When this anti-democratic junk starts to make its way into politics, it is all of our business. This stuff, not science by any honest definition, has the same potential as pseudo-sciences of the past to gain political influence. When a major, respected newspaper in the United States can print an article like the one linked to, we are in serious danger from it. If scientists won’t call them on it we peons who favor democracy will have to.

Democracy presupposes the efficacy of informed reason, it cannot exist without that. Other parts of the fashionable pseudo-sciences undermine other essential prerequisites of democracy such as equality and self-sacrifice. I don’t see any way in which democracy can withstand these academic assaults without us calling them on their scientific and scholastic short comings and basic dishonesty.

Guest Lineup for the Sunday News Shows

You might wish to count the number of women among these guests, the last Sunday before the election:


ABC's "This Week" — David Axelrod, campaign adviser for Barack Obama; Rick Davis, campaign manager for John McCain.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Axelrod; Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and John Ensign, R-Nev.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.


CNN's "Late Edition" — Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa.; Govs. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Mark Sanford, R-S.C., Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., and Deval Patrick, D-Mass.

"Fox News Sunday" _ Davis; David Plouffe, campaign manager for Obama.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Little Old Ladies (by Phila)

Patricia Lee Sharpe of the excellent blog WhirledView catches this obnoxious quote from Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle:
“We aren’t a bunch of little old ladies in tennis shoes,” Pacelle says, paraphrasing his mentor Cleveland Armory, an animal rights activist. “We have cleats on.”
Ms. Sharpe points out that "the notion that grandmothers generally are soft-headed, slightly-addled bundles of sentimental sweetness who must be protected from ugly realities is...more than a little ludicrous and insulting."

Which is certainly true. But I'm also irritated by the implication that these feeble, silly women (and feminized men like yours truly) have had their chance to address the issue of animal cruelty, and it's now time for a new breed of hypermasculine go-getters like Pacelle to kick ass and take names. Like so many other problems, this one becomes truly serious only when men -- real men, with cleats! -- get involved.

In fact, many of the difficulties involved in protecting animals boil down to gender politics of a particularly witless and ugly kind (as witless and ugly men like Jonah Goldberg and Daniel Clark are more than happy to demonstrate). Which is why I get distressed (in a disgustingly feminine way) when activists like Pacelle -- or the far more offensive folks at PETA -- fail to grasp the ideological connection between their portrayal of women, and the popular view that indifference to the suffering of farm animals is "normal" and "rational."

Of course, I'd argue that this logic cuts both ways, which is why I hope that any readers who are in a position to help California's Proposition 2 pass will do so.

The Concept of Non-Ownership (by Phila)

I've been thinking lately about the form that architecture takes in an economy based on land speculation rather than, say, industrial productivity. Is there a certain type of building, or building style, that becomes dominant during a real-estate bubble?

McMansions seem like the obvious answer. They increase in size as land values skyrocket. And their interiors seem oddly divorced from how people actually live; they recall traditional ideas of wealth and gentility that were based on an entirely different sense of time and space and leisure, with the result that even when they're inhabited they have the feel of something that's outlived its purpose. They seem more like a crude stereotype of a rich person's house than an actual dwelling. Or a marker and a warning, like the hotels on a Monopoly board.

I was also brooding about how shopping centers seem to grow quainter and more village-like as communities become more fragmented, and houses more imposing and unwelcoming. Which reminded me that I'd addressed this question several years ago, in a long post on architectural imitation:
It's strange how often we romanticize aspects of America that we blithely destroyed because there was money to be made. And it's even more strange that having destroyed such things, we replicate them shoddily, and market them as antidotes to the very psychic emptiness that made the real things seem worthless.
At a cost hardly anyone can afford, I should've added.

Apropos of which, the American architect Lebbeus Woods notes that Americans increasingly view homes as "instruments for getting a return on their money," and wonders whether a new and improved American Dream could be built around the idea of non-ownership:
Architects, locked for so long in the ideal of home ownership -— from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City, where everyone would have their sovereign acre of prairie (and a Wright house planted squarely on it), to Frank Gehry’s twisty luxury condo tower in Lower Manhattan —- have difficulty generating any comparable vision of the American home. It is telling that the most gifted designers today —- American and not -— can only come up with snappy new wrappers for prevailing, but finally fading, ideas. The current bursting of the “housing bubble,” and the coming financial shakeout, which will be global in extent, and giga in scale, could leave them with more time to consider the reality of how most people live, and about the nature of home in the contemporary world.

The concept of non-ownership would be good a place to start. Or, at least, with the idea that money is not at the heart of it.
It sounds like Georgism but with state-owned housing, which sounds like communism, which means that Obama will undoubtedly get right on it if he's elected.

Meanwhile, over at BLDGBLOG, Nicola Twilley discusses "micro-territoriality as both a cause and a symptom of social exclusion." She's responding to a cognitive mapping project that asked young people to draw their neighborhoods as they perceive them; what makes this project especially interesting was that the participants' maps included "enemy" areas:
Some of the sketches...remind me of medieval maps: the known world is an island of familiarity, simultaneously shown much larger than scale but made tiny and precious by the monsters of “Terra Incognita” that surround it. In the case of a 15-year-old girl from Bradford, today’s dragons are “moshers,” “chavs,” “Asians,” and “posh people” – all “Enemys....”

In other words, bored and economically deprived teenagers are transforming 1960s council estates and Victorian terraces into a real-world, multiplayer World of Warcraft.
Or perhaps the game was already there, and they're trying to find a way to win it.

Twilley goes on to point out that "current policies in urban regeneration are dominated by strategies to increase 'place attachment' as a means 'to reinforce social networks and maintain the quality of an area through pride.'" This, of course, can serve to encourage micro-territoriality, which seems to persist -- or perhaps even intensify -- when a place has virtually no worthwhile qualities:
It was difficult to say which was more depressing – the relentless defense of a featureless piece of open space on the fringes of a Glasgow housing scheme where there is nothing whatsoever by way of amenities, or the confinement to a socially isolated but densely populated and built-up quarter-square-mile of London of young men for whom the culture and wealth of one of the world’s great cities might as well be on another continent.
She also notes the use of sports as a means to "encourage association" and defeat "problematic territoriality"; Anthony's recent post on sports gives us ample reason to be wary of this strategy (though Subtopia's promotion of border ball is certainly heartening).

Like Woods, Twilley wonders whether these problems can be solved by architects and urban planners: "Can the design of the city itself generate – or mitigate against – territoriality?"

Obviously, urban design doesn't "generate" territoriality; it is territoriality, period. In psychological terms, it seems to me that the question of micro-territoriality hinges on the transgression of micro-borders, which in turn hinges on security and control, and ultimately on identity (which has a lot to do with the sense of one's own position within society).

If urban design is going to reduce this tension, and encourage a relative sense of non-ownership, it seems to me that it has to de-emphasize borders (e.g., by changing the uses of transitional spaces where, as Twilley notes, most territorial violence is concentrated); the installation of a community garden in an abandoned lot would be one possible way of turning a border area into something of value to people on both sides of a divide. Facilities dedicated to community clean-up -- or better yet, mediation -- would be other possibilities.

Needless to say, ideas like these are totally alien to current political -- and therefore architectural -- trends, which stress the need for hypervigilance, perimeter security, and preparedness, and which usually boil down to security rituals whose basic steps can be recognized in international airports as well as "across the spectrum of low-income housing stock." In this sense, the maps Twilley reproduces don't seem medieval at all; their assumptions are very much of our time.

But ultimately, the assumption that we can change society by changing architecture relies a bit too much on the assumption that architecture got us where we are today; theory's fascination with power tends to make power seem fascinating, and its plans for opposing that power are too often based on familiar, imperious assumptions about the ability to impose a particular worldview on citizens by rearranging their neighborhoods. Instead of cheap imitations of a conservative past, with fake Victorian lamps, and streets named after whatever natural features were bulldozed to make way for them, we could (continue to) end up with cheap imitations of a utopian future, which pay lip service to radical ideas of community while leaving residents' day-to-day life basically unchanged.

The point is, the struggle to improve neighborhoods is largely a political one, and the work involved is not particularly glamorous, or intellectually stimulating, or aesthetically thrilling. As the radical architect Teddy Cruz acknowledges:
“I can design the coolest-looking building, or I can engage the fact that the minimum parcel size is huge and the economic and political logics have been inflated to benefit privatization,” he says. “Without advancing housing and lending policies and subsidies, we cannot advance design.”
I'd add that without advancing, say, healthcare, contraception, abortion, sexual autonomy, and marriage as basic rights, the physical and conceptual space of neighborhoods is going to be less important than the stress and misery of the people who live in them. The problem isn't simply that housing and space aren't properly designed; it's that human beings (and women too, naturally) are so devalued and debased by the formal denial of rights and autonomy and compassion that their surroundings hardly matter. If you want to move towards a society of "non-ownership," a good first step would be to affirm people's ownership of their own bodies.

The Bible Makes It Clear (by Phila)

Offered without comment:
Some Web sites and conservative Christians have tried to argue that Obama could be the foretold Antichrist. In August, John McCain seemed to tap into evangelical anxiety with his ad, "The One," in which he mocked those who use messianic language to describe Obama.

The Rev. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the millennial Left Behind series, told the Wall Street Journal that he recognized allusions to his work in the ad but comparisons between Obama and the Antichrist were incorrect.

"The Antichrist isn't going to be an American, so it can't possibly be Obama. The Bible makes it clear he will be from an obscure place, like Romania," the 82-year-old author told the paper.

The Democratic Party Has To Get Used To Walking The Ethical Tight Rope, It’s The Only Road To Better Things by Anthony McCarthy

Dan Payne in this morning’s Boston Globe has stolen my thunder in his campaign warp up, no matter how it turns out this election is the nail in the coffin of process liberalism. Thus a hasty re-write.

First and most importantly, if Barack Obama had chosen public financing he would be guaranteed to lose this election. It would already be over and we would know that much of the result. That he has a good chance of winning is due largely to his grass roots* fund-raising which has brought him an unprecedented ability to run a national campaign. His decision to forego public financing was criticized early on by some of the professional process liberals but it was absolutely the right decision. If you need any proof of that you can hear the echoing, outraged disappointment of Republicans that he has beaten them in fund-raising and not done what a good Democrat is supposed to do, accept a preordained defeat on principle. There is, of course, a major difference between grass roots fund raising and the traditional plunge into the deep pockets. Running a campaign on average contributions of $85 isn’t selling access, it’s funding the effort to elect a less corruption prone government.

Process reform as a strategy was flawed at its inception, taking it as a given that the courts would place an egalitarian, honest, representative government at the fore front of those rights The People fully possess. Instead they got the doctrine that money equals speech. What that really meant under the prevailing conditions was that money buys air time to lie the most corruptible politicians into office where they can hand everything over to their owners. Which is what we got, mostly from Republicans with a few Democrats joining in. The spectacle of the Reagan and Bush administrations, objectively the most corrupt in our history when measured by convictions and incompetence, has not moved the Justices off of their stare decisis in order to save the country. We can’t wait for them to see the light or to die off, if we don’t get better politicians in office those anti-democratic Justices are replaced by even worse. Clearly the process reformers are barking up the wrong tree if they think the present day Supreme Court is going to do anything that risks more democracy happening.

Another part of this stumbling over the process, was the Michigan, Florida primary situation. The primary calendar is firmly out of the hands of the parties, except in so far as they can game things through a willing state legislature. In Michigan and Florida, Republican state legislatures set a trap for Democrats and it was only through last minute negotiations that the damage from those was kept to a minimum. The Rules Committee of the DNC has got to be taken out of the hands of people more interested in rules and gaming them for their own advantage than in the Democratic candidates winning elections. I’d clean it out and start anew, dumping the scheming and those addled by abstract theories for those who know that winning elections is the only reason for the party to exist.

The rules lawyers have a lot in common with those trying to figure out how to game the process, their first loyalty clearly isn’t to The People and their ability to govern.

As Payne points out, the long season, far from depleting the funds necessary to run in the general election, gave us a candidate who had the enthusiasm of a far larger number of people. Obama became a stronger and better candidate through the long trial by ordeal.

We’ve got to give up the notion that we are going to be able to change the process at the rules and laws level, the corruptions they are meant to address run deeper, through the unmentionable flaws in our federal system and the anti-democratic rulings of Supreme Courts. Short of amending or changing the Constitution, repairing that level of the system is beyond our reach. We’ve got to work with what we’ve got.

It’s not surprising that the elite insiders in DC and other centers of power can’t understand that going directly to The People, thorough grass roots organizing on a national basis, asking them for their volunteer time and small contributions, is the logical way for The Peoples’ party to get on with things. It’s no surprise that they didn’t get the internet**.

I strongly suspect that in the aftermath of this election one of the things that will be clear is that Hillary Clinton’s connections to the connected ended up being a burden to her. How they lost such an excellent candidate so many opportunities has to be studied to identify examples of what not to do again. A lot of the people involved in her and other losing campaigns should be kept at a distance from future campaigns.

This is mighty serious business, electing our government. When conducting The Peoples' business, we can’t allow personal friendships, personal loyalties or insider status to allow the incompetent or inflexible the ability to ruin our chances to win elections.

We also can’t let those who insist on an unrealistic and unavailable ideal to hobble our candidates. That kind of sentimental idealism is a sham. It is the kind of thing that is just barely tolerable as a personal scruple to be preened over in self-congratulation, it is immoral in politics. A political principle which doesn’t get a more egalitarian, democratic and competent government into office is a failed principle. In politics, as in life, it is the results that justify the principle and determine their ultimate morality.

* Howard Dean and his 50 State Strategy and a number of other changes he made have also been incalculably important to changing Democrats prospects.

** The internet is an important part of Obama’s campaign, it’s a permanent and enormously powerful political entity from now on. It is, as this campaing has revealed, one that has inherent problems and dangers of its own. Democrats have to study those dangers and come up with effective means of dealing with them even as they are powerless to eliminate them.

P.S. The absurd idea that the country exists for The Constitution, instead of The Constitution existing for and gaining its legitimacy from The People is something that must be overturned. Unfortunately, that necessary safe guard is in the hands of the legal establishment for now. If we are lucky and he is our next president, we should remind Barack Obama, the former law professor of this generally forgotten fact.