Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Hillarization of Elizabeth Warren

I coined that term in an earlier post.  It's intended to define the process which the right-wing uses to demonize Democratic politicians who are female.*  That process is harsher than the one used for Democratic politicians who are male.  Much smaller flaws are used and they are greatly magnified by repetition, repetition and repetition.  Just consider how many times Trump in his campaigns called Hillary "crooked."

Now he has said this about Elizabeth Warren:

President Trump reportedly mocked Democrats in a meeting with senators this week for allowing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) become the face of their party.
"Pocahontas is now the face of your party," Trump said in the meeting, sources told CNN.
Trump frequently called Warren "Pocahontas" as an insult on the campaign trail, mocking her for previously talking about having a distant Native American ancestry.

Remember Trump's imaginary Swedish ancestry?   Well, it's true that we have a cornucopia of horrible stuff to pick when trying to call Trump names, whereas Warren is so squeaky-clean that something like one comment about possible Native American ancestry will be thrown into her face forevermore.

To be honest, I don't have statistical evidence on Hillarization, because too few women have reached high enough a level to be deemed dangerous enough for it, so right now Hillarization is my working hypothesis.  If you see evidence for or against it, let me know.


*  The same process could work in the opposite direction, too, so that female conservative politicians get attacked for flaws which would not be employed to attack male conservative politicians. 

Today's Gender Research Piece: The Cold God of Science vs. the Feather-Brained Gender Feminist

The framing of arguments is always fascinating.  I tend to spot a possible bias in the first paragraphs of most studies, articles and opinion pieces by just looking at the basic framing.

Is the author telling that her or his side is God's side, the objective, neutral side, the absolute truth side, even without any evidence?  Is the author telling that the other side is the Devil's side, the subjective, fluffy-headed side, the absolute ignorance side, even without any evidence?

Looking at those features saves me time, and they saved me time in reading this Los Angeles Times article about girl brains and boy brains by Debra W. Soh, titled "Are gender feminists and transgender activists undermining science?"

It's not the arguments Soh makes about actual research pieces that have that flavor of bias for me.  It's not the fact that she writes a  science column for the Playboy Magazine (about sex, as in threesomes and such) or that she doesn't seem to have gotten her neuroscience PhD yet.

It's statements like these:

Gender feminists — who are distinct from traditional equity feminists — refuse to acknowledge the role of evolution in shaping the human brain, and instead promote the idea that sex differences are caused by a socialization process that begins at birth. Gender, according to them, is a construct; we are born as blank slates and it is parents and society at large that produce the differences we see between women and men in adulthood.
The idea that our brains are identical sounds lovely, but the scientific evidence suggests otherwise. Many studies, for instance, have documented the masculinizing effects of prenatal testosterone on the developing brain. And a recent study in the journal Nature’s Scientific Reports showed that testosterone exposure alters the programming of neural stem cells responsible for brain growth and sex differences.

Here's what I find objectionable in those two paragraphs:

Thursday, February 09, 2017

The Scold. AKA Senator Elizabeth Warren.

One hilarious aspect of this Turd Reich is the way all sorts of creepy-crawly critters eagerly come out of the woodwork to say all those things they couldn't say when they had their lips sewn together in that horrible liberal totalitarian era.

The responses to the silencing of a hussy in the US Senate are a good example of this.  Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Ma, was told to shut up by the Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, because she was "impugning" the character of a Senator (Jeff Sessions) during the Senate hearings.  (Sessions is now our attorney general, protecting our civil rights, which is a bit like approving of a wolf to care for the lives of sheep.)

McConnell's poetic utterances about Warren have now been etched into our collective memory:

“She was warned,” McConnell said later. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
But others have written better about all that and also about the many and varied reasons for McConnell's behavior.

They may not have been rooted in just sexism, because Warren is a very effective speaker.

Neither is the fact that McConnell later allowed several male Senators to read the Coretta King letter for which Warren was censured necessarily just yet another indicator of the widespread conservative view that women are meant to be silent and obedient but men are not.  Because once you step into pig shit by accident, you might not want to then do a step dance in it.  Or in cleaner terms, McConnell stepped into that pig shit and then tried to wipe his expensive shoes clean.

It is the conservative reactions to all this that are of interest.  Here's* Mike Huckabee, god's best buddy forever and a rigid interpreter of the Biblical code for women:

I love that!  A politician is a scold.  And that would be a female politician.

There are two obvious ways this post could go.  The first one, to be saved for a later post**, is a dissection of the way we are now supposed to live in the post-PC era, where everyone, including Mike Huckabee (but excluding anyone on this side of the political aisle), can blurt all sorts of nasty stuff straight into someone's face and expect not to be punished for it at all.

The second one is to note that the Hillarization of Elizabeth Warren has begun.  By "Hillarization" (my term, send royalties to Snakepit Inc.) I mean a process of smearing which is more rigorous, more extreme and more enduring for female politicians than it is for male politicians.  Warren will be Hillarized in no time at all, especially if it looks like she might be running for president in 2020.

We can't have a scold in that august position, now can we?

*  Read the Wonkette take, because it is delicious.

**  I think that post will be quite nuanced.  It's slowly simmering on the slow cooker part of my girl brain.


Trump's Enemies And Friends

The Enemies List:

1.  That bitch from the icy hell, though now she is of no consequence but back in her proper place.  Which is a silent one.*

2.  The Nordstrom department store.

3.  The failing New York Times.  And any other media not kissing Trump's anus.

4.  Mexico.

5.  All comedians making fun of Trump or his subordinates.

6.  All judges not kissing Trump's anus.

7.  Senator Richard Blumenthal.

8.  Australia.

The Friends List:

1.  Donald J. Trump.

2.  Donald J. Trump.

3.  Donald J. Trump.

4.  Donald J. Trump.

5.  Vlad "The Impaler" Putin

6.   Stephen "Adolph"  Bannon and other white supremacist boyz.

7.  Ivanka.  She is a perfect ten. 


This, my friends, is the president of the most powerful country on earth!  Now also the most entertaining country on earth, a nonstop Reality Show which lets all sorts of people in other countries have a good laugh (while of course also fearing the now-increased possibility of a new world war).

The point of this post, if it has one, is that Trump demonstrates very bad judgement, and because a sufficient number of American voters thought that it doesn't matter, his bad judgement is now our problem, where "we" means the whole world.


* As Senator Elizabeth Warren learned to her chagrin.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Will Your Vote Count in 2018? You Might Never Know.

This tiny news item might have escaped you, given the flood of horrible news items pouring out of the White House and the Congress.

But it is a very important one:

In a little-noticed 6-3 vote today, the House Administration Committee voted along party lines to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, which helps states run elections and is the only federal agency charged with making sure voting machines can’t be hacked. The EAC was created after the disastrous 2000 election in Florida as part of the Help America Vote Act to rectify problems like butterfly ballots and hanging chads. (Republicans have tried to kill the agency for years.)
Why would anyone wish to kill this agency?  The article mentions that it hasn't achieved very much, but is that worse than nobody knowing how votes are counted?

Transparent voting is the most essential safeguard for a democracy. Once we have no idea if the vote totals actually reflect how people voted, all sorts of foreign powers can stick their fingers in the pie.  Not to mention domestic powers.

I agree with the author of this piece, Ari Berman, that we should have strengthened the commission instead of destroying it.  And, honestly, let's return to a way of voting which allows for transparency.  Before it is too late.

All this is darkly funny, given that Trump wants to find and deport those three million imaginary illegal voters who chose not to kiss his feet.

Has anyone else noticed how the Republicans never see any possibilities for election fraud at the counting end?  Only at the end where they try to stop Democrats from voting, especially African-Americans?

Elecshuns Have Conzekwences

Betsy deVos is going to be the the new Education Secretary.  Her qualifications for the job are money, money, money, Christian fundamentalist beliefs in the superiority of Christian madrassas, money, money, money, her beliefs in free markets for even primary education*, and money, money and money:

The 51-to-50 vote elevates Ms. DeVos — a wealthy donor from Michigan who has devoted much of her life to expanding educational choice through charter schools and vouchers, but has limited experience with the public school system — to be steward of the nation’s schools.

Okay.  I very slightly exaggerate in the above paragraph.  But I have searched, and I can't find the formal qualifications deVos would have for this job.   In the hearings she was unable to answer the simplest questions having to do with the laws which govern education or the basic concepts the experts use to evaluate the quality of education children receive.  So she has a lot of studying ahead of her, and, no, the answers are not in the Bible.

Wanna hear my tinfoil hat conspiracy theory?

The conservatives, and especially the white supremacist so-called Alt Right men, don't want to educate the peasants.  They want real education to be reserved for the children of the wealthy (whites). 

The rest should get biiig doses of hierarchical religion, messages about obedience, guilt messages to women (Eve's daughters), general brainwashing (achieved by something akin to the memorization of the social rules that prevailed 2000 years ago in a nomadic shepherding community) and the most basic skills required to be a good lower-level worker.

But absolutely no critical thinking skills.

That pretty much this system of education has created tremendous problems in some Muslim countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia doesn't worry people like deVos.  She thinks she can get away with supporting just Christian madrassas.

And what about the spelling in the title of this post?  I want to fit in with the new post-factual era.  More about that in a later post.

*  Aka as the vouchers.  The problems with the vouchers are many, but a basic theoretical problem is the fact that most parents cannot judge the quality of education for their children without having the child experience it for a fairly long time, and then it will be too late to completely eradicate any negative effects.  Proper market competition requires the very kind of information parents do not have, and that is the major reason why almost all formal education is based on not-for-profit institutions and the avoidance of incentive systems where the administrators can take more money home if they cheat more parents.

What Angered Trump: Girl Playing Sean Spicer on SNL. Weak!

The Saturday Night Live (SNL, a comedy show) did two skits on the Trump Reich.  One spoofed Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer.  The other one spoofed Trump's bellicose nature, his lack of any knowledge about foreign policy and his relationship to Bannon, the evil spirit behind the throne.  Bannon was portrayed as a skeleton, perhaps the grim reaper, with "plans."

But that's not the one people are now discussing.  It's the Sean Spicer one, and the reason is that the comedian who pretended to be him is Melissa McCarthy.

Yes, that is a girly name, a weak name!  Or so Trump seems to have felt:

More than being lampooned as a press secretary who makes up facts, it was Spicer’s portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the president’s eyes, according to sources close to him. And the unflattering send-up by a female comedian was not considered helpful for Spicer’s longevity in the grueling, high-profile job in which he has struggled to strike the right balance between representing an administration that considers the media the "opposition party," and developing a functional relationship with the press.
"Trump doesn't like his people to look weak," added a top Trump donor.

Emphasis is mine.  And naturally I stress the importance of getting Trump to be spoofed by only female comedians from now on.*

And now to something quite trivial:  McCarthy succeeded beautifully in having her too-large suit work exactly like the too-large suit of Sean Spicer in the one press conference I watched.  How does one do that?  And why did he wear such a large suit?  Is there a secret guy message in that?

Here's the McCarthy-as-Spicer video:


*  Yes, I know.  That is picking up the tools of the opposition who detest girl cooties. 

But isn't all this such a wonderful revelation about the supposed post-feminist era I have been told (ohsomanytimes) we are now enjoying!  Well, at least the White House doesn't have to struggle with the long shadow of email scandals!

We only have to worry about a president who knows nothing concerning the three branches of the government or the separation of the powers or foreign policy.  Still, Trump is not an ambitious bitch from hell, and if he is in the pockets of Wall Street, well it's at least the pockets of man trousers.

Monday, February 06, 2017

From The Handmaid's Tale: Take Two. Rapists' Fatherhood Rights in Arkansas.

So the Republicans in Arkansas have given husbands the right to stop their wives from having an abortion, even if the pregnancy is due to spousal rape. 

Imagine a couple with an acrimonious relationship, veering toward divorce.  The husband could rape his wife and then force her to give birth.  The wife's fertility would then be controlled by the husband whose rights to become a father would not be diminished even by marital rape.

Similar arguments apply to the case where a father has impregnated his daughter.  He still has the right to try to stop her from aborting the pregnancy:

The most disturbing part of the new Arkansas law is a provision that allows the husband or legal guardian of a woman seeking a D&E to stop her from doing so by suing for injunctive relief. This means that a man who rapes his wife or a father who rapes his daughter will be able to prevent her from terminating a resulting pregnancy in the second trimester. A survivor of sexual violence may need an abortion later in her pregnancy because the trauma of assault could make it difficult for her to consider and confront the consequences. If a woman does get a doctor to perform a D&E, under the Arkansas law, her husband could also sue the abortion provider for damages.

Perhaps more insidious than the above extreme cases is the general idea that others can force a woman to give birth, whether she wishes or not.  Others cannot legally force a parent to donate, say, a kidney to their child, even if the refusal to donate results in the child's death.  But somehow pregnancies are viewed differently.  It's as if a woman's womb is a coop where the other family members and the clergy have shares.

I understand that this law is all about trying to make second trimester abortions impossible.  But, as I wrote earlier, the way the law has been sculpted reduces women's human rights.  It's doubtful that the law will be held as constitutional.