Thursday Reads: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

modigliani young woman in a yellow dress

Good Afternoon!!

If you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, have a good one!

I’m illustrating this post with portraits of unsmiling women by Amadeo Modigliani. Why, you may ask? It’s just a little symbolic protest of the constant barrage of “instructions” from the media on how Hillary Clinton should behave.

For months we’ve been hearing from various male commentators–and even from her very loud male opponent–that Hillary needs to stop “shouting.” As Lawrence O’Donnell condescendingly explained, with help from Chris Matthews, “the microphone works.” Hillary should speak more softly and modulate her “tone.” She’s not being “ladylike” enough for them.

Tsk tsk tsk

On Tuesday after Hillary swept five Democratic primaries, Howard Kurtz offered this:

Glenn Thrush agreed.

Britt Hume thought she looked angry.

And then there was Joe Scarborough:

Each of these men was resoundingly mocked on Twitter, but not one of them apologized. Instead they were defensive. They complained about being attacked for their helpful advice and provided examples of various negative things they had written about male candidates’ speeches. They refused to listen to women who tried to explain to them why such unsolicited advice is sexist. You can check out their timelines to read more.


Every woman has experienced this kind of “constructive criticism” again again. It’s not helpful, and refusing to listen to women explain why is also sexist. Some examples at Vogue.

Samantha Bee had a great response. She tweeted a photo of herself frowning into the camera and asked for responses. Lots of other women tweeted back unsmiling selfies. Click on the link to go to Mediaite and see some of the responses.

Connie Shultz at The National Memo: Hey, Hillary: Smile, Girl.

You know, the world would be a happier place if a girl would just smile more.

Just ask the guys on Twitter.

Now, by “girl,” I mean a former U.S. senator and secretary of state who is likely to be the first female president of these allegedly united states.

As for “the world,” let’s narrow it down. We’re talking mean men who apparently spend much of their day breathing into paper bags because they’re not even allowed to ask a secretary to grab them a cuppa joe anymore without someone from HR signing them up for diversity training.

What? No more office wife? Evidence of hell in a handbasket right there. Just ask them.

So now we’ve got this Hillary woman going all presidential on us. She’s everywhere. Giving speeches. Declaring victories. Starring in one town hall after another. How much suffering must a good ol’ boy endure? ….

Some men hear what they want to hear, and too many men don’t want to hear from women at all. This is an unhappy century for them, and it’s only going to get worse. One grandmother barreling her way toward the presidency is bound to work up all kinds of other women who’ve had it up to here with the catcall mentality of men who measure our worth by our ability to make them feel better about their limited view of us.

Much more at the link.


Of course the advice about smiling and speaking in a softer tone are only the beginning of the unsolicited advice pundits have for Hillary.

Amanda Marcotte: Stop “helping” Hillary: Sorry, guys, but Clinton doesn’t need to smile, whisper, or have John Kasich as her running mate.

Tuesday night, those who were lucky enough to be watching their primary coverage on MSNBC were treated to what may be a record-setter in scorching hot takes, courtesy of, who else, Chris Matthews. “I do think if you could ever find a way to put a ticket together that would actually end some of this mishegoss, to use a Yiddish word,” Matthews spun out before coughing up, and you could feel this coming, that he’d like to see Hillary Clinton pick John Kasich as her running mate

“If Hillary Clinton were smart,” Matthews said, with a certainty that is unique to men discrediting the intelligence of women who are, in reality, much smarter than they are, “she’d make herself the alternative” for Republicans who don’t want to vote for Trump by putting Kasich on her ticket.
“Of course, this doesn’t happen in American politics,” he added wistfully, “because American politics is so free of wonder anymore. It’s so predictable.”
Yes, he said this during the administration of the first black president, during a campaign that pits the first major party female candidate against a reality TV star who is winning his party’s nomination against the party leaders’ wills and while running a fascism-reminiscient campaign. But what we really need to get out of the doldrums is for a liberal Democrat to pick a running mate that stands against everything she and her party stand for.

Read the rest at Salon.


Of course the big news is President Obama’s Supreme Court pick of Merrick Garland. JJ covered it thoroughly yesterday. Today the pundits are speculating about why Obama picked an “old white guy” instead of making a “truly progressive” choice. Of course Merrick is Jewish, so he would add to the diversity of a court that is packed with right win Catholics.

Merrick Garland grew up Jewish in Chicago suburbs of Skokie, worked his way to Harvard Law School and investigated the Oklahoma City bombing as a federal prosecutor.

The “mensch” of a jurist with a most un-Jewish sounding name and a sterling reputation for fairness won a coveted spot on the Washington D.C. court of appeals and rose to lead that prestigious court.

After twice being passed over for the Supreme Court, he is now aiming to become an unprecedented fourth Jew on the nine-member top court.

“He’s a total mensch,” said Jay Michaelson, a Forward columnist who once clerked for Garland. “He really wanted to get the law right.”

Garland’s first cousin, Marty Shukert, an urban designer in Omaha, Nebraska, said it was “almost dreamlike” to see Garland nominated by President Obama.

Garland called the nomination “the greatest honor of my life,” in a carefully scripted roll-out to the nation.

Recounting his Jewish family’s battle with persecution, Garland made an emotional pitch for the job he has coveted for decades.

“My grandparents left the Pale of Settlement…in the early 1900’s, fleeing anti-Semitism and hoping to make a better life for their children in America,” Garland told reporters in the Rose Garden, flanked by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

As the headline of the story says, Garland seems like a real “mensch.”

Modigliani woman

Josh Lederman at the AP: Analysis: Obama Dares GOP to Let Clinton, Trump Pick Justice.

By nominating an uncontroversial 63-year-old judge, President Barack Obama handed Republicans an unwelcome election-year proposition: Give in or risk letting Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump pick a Supreme Court justice the GOP might like even less.

Obama’s selection of appellate judge Merrick Garland landed with a bang the morning after primaries in Florida, Ohio and other key states made clear that Clinton and Trump will be their parties’ presidential candidates, barring extraordinary circumstances. Obama described Garland as an evenhanded consensus-builder, all but daring Republicans to block him and face uncertain consequences from voters.

Republican leaders dug in on their insistence that the next president get to choose the replacement for the late Antonin Scalia, the influential conservative and high court’s most provocative member. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it “an issue where we can’t agree.” ….

Republicans loathe Clinton, but they recognize that if she wins the presidency, she could nominate someone far more liberal than Garland, who’s regarded as a centrist. At the same time, the GOP establishment is extremely wary of the unpredictable Trump and desperate for an alternative.

A Democratic victory at the presidential level could be accompanied by a return of the Senate to Democratic control, further complicating Republicans’ ability to prevent Democrats from getting their way. Republicans are fighting their toughest Senate races this year in states like New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Illinois where Democrats are hoping independent-minded voters will be turned off by the GOP’s hardline position.

Brian Beutler calls Garland an “old white guy” and opines that Obama isn’t playing 11 dimensional chess. He just made a mistake in not choosing someone who would make all the progs happy.

Did you hear about the story that PBS News ran about the Tilly family, first-time voters working for Trump in North Carolina?  Please go to the link and watch it. PBS did not notice that a woman they featured prominently while she phone-banked for Trump had white supremacist tattoos all over her arms and hands. Gawker did notice. Here’s a photo of Grace Tilly.


From the Gawker story:

Above, you see Grace phone banking for Donald Trump, with the Celtic Cross tattoo on her right hand. Despite the tattoo being in plain view of PBS’ cameras, the story never acknowledges that it is interviewing a walking white power billboard. The Anti-Defamation League explains that the Celtic Cross is one of the most “commonly used white supremacist symbols.” Mark Pitcavage, senior research fellow at the ADL, tells me:

The Celtic Cross is an ancient and revered Christian symbol typically not associated with extremism at all. However, one particular version of the Celtic Cross—a squarish cross with a thick circle intersecting with it (also known as Odin’s Cross), has become one of the most popular white supremacist symbols around. In the past 20 years, its popularity has done little but grow, thanks to its use as the logo by Stormfront, the largest white supremacist website in the world.

And on her hand, Grace has a large tattoo that reads “88,” which according to ADL is “code for Heil Hitler.” See that photo at Gawker. So far, PBS has reacted to the Gawker story.

Woman with a necklace

On Tuesday night we learned that the Sanders Campaign plans to try to convince superdelegates to vote for him at the Democratic convention. Yesterday they announced plans to poach delegates that are pledged to vote for Clinton. It’s hard to remember now that only a couple of months ago, Sanders was supposedly running a clean, positive campaign. Time reports on a call with reporters hosted by camapaign manager Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ and strategist Tad Devine:

Although the Democratic pledged delegates are bound to a particular candidate based on state Democratic votes, Sanders senior strategist Tad Devine suggested there is some leeway there. Devine pointed to the Carter campaigns 1980 victory and their worry about holding onto pledged delegates. The Carter campaign was “deeply concerned about the defection of pledged delegates” to Ted Kennedy, Devine said.

“My point is that a frontrunner in a process like this needs to continue to win if you want to keep hold of delegates,” Devine continued. When pressed by a reporter, Devine said there was no plan “at the moment” to try to sway pledged delegates.

Weaver said that Sanders is doing Clinton a favor by staying in the race–because Bernie will protect poor fragile Hillary from Donald Trump.

“Were this contest to end, you know, by Secretary Clinton, or us getting out—certainly if the Secretary were still in the race, she could expect months and months and months of immediate, and vicious, and very personal attacks from the Trump people,” Weaver said. “So I don’t know if that’s necessarily healthy for her.”


WTF?! The people who said all along that the superdelegate process is undemocratic now want to win with their votes? And on top of that, they want to usurp the voters’ choices by stealing pledge delegates?

It’s just breathtaking. Here’s a great Greg Sargent interview with Hillary’s chief strategist Joel Benenson as an antidote: Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist: Sanders can’t win, and we’re ready to take down Trump. Read the whole thing at the WaPo.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your Thursday.


Oh, Brother …

This has to rate up there with one of the biggest displays of ignorance by a pundit/journalist I’ve read in some time. Of course, it happened on Faux News, and of course, its bias shows their bias in general. It’s a biggie from Brent Hume about Tiger Woods’ serial infidelity. I guess if Hume was a Republican office holder he might have a special insider view on serial infidelity, but instead he said something that is so laughable that I have to wonder if he’s every really looked at any other religions.

I grabbed this off of “the raw story” which oddly just listed a bunch of celebrity Buddhists as some kind of justification for Tiger’s Buddhism.

Buddhism is inferior to Christianity when it comes to forgiveness of sins, according to Fox News pundit Brit Hume. Tiger Woods should turn his back on Buddhism and become a Christian to be forgiven for cheating on his wife, Hume told Fox News’ Chris Wallace Sunday.

“The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith,” said Hume. “He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of redemption and forgiveness offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger is, ‘Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

Okay, so now you can watch it yourself.

I want to talk to you about the complete strangeness of this response in terms of what Buddhists believe. I’ve been a Buddhist for some time . I’m a vajrayana buddhist from a Sherpa Nyingma Lineage. That’s the oldest of the Tibetan/Himalyan sects. It’s not the one the Dali Lama leads. His sect is Gelupka. I actually share lineages with Steven Seagal through his guru Dilgo Khyence Rinpoche but that’s another story.

So here’s exactly how wrong it is in Buddhist terms, let alone ‘political correctness’ or polite society terms. First, there is no creator God in Buddhism so there is nothing to sin against. Sin isn’t really a relevant concept in Buddhism. If you commit a negative action you don’t insult any invisible being, you create karma which comes back at you like a tsunami. Karma is the result of the effect you caused by the action.

You can of course see that Karma is already hitting Tiger squarely in the billfold and just about every place else, including the break up of his marriage and family. Adultery in Buddhism is considered sexual misconduct and comes under the idea that you’re undertaking a harmful behavior. It creates bad karma for you and it hurts others. Hurting any sentient being is considered the number one bad action of any Buddhist. There are, of course, levels of bad actions, and, of course levels, it follows from that differing levels of karma created by those actions. Karma (again, it’s simply a word the means the effects from your actions, thoughts or speech) can be good, bad, or neutral as a result of an action, thought, or spoken word that is either good, bad or neutral.

In Buddhism, you basically reap what you sow. As a matter of fact that saying and all the other Jesus parables were taught by one Buddha–the one you known as Gautama–who was born in Nepal about 2500 years ago. His teachings were written down in the Sutras shortly after his death by his students and are considered to have made it to Rome when Constantine ordered the locked up local priesthoods to come up with one religion that would be known as the Roman religion. They obviously lifted a lot from Buddhism as well as the other prevailing beliefs at the time.

Forgiveness of sins, to a Buddhist, is basically considered absurd on many levels. First off, you’re asking for something from something external which is dualistic thinking which is considered the root of all ignorance and suffering. So merely by begging for something from something outside of you creates more suffering.  Also, you’re asking for something from something that doesn’t exist.

Your actions were against yourself and the folks around broke vows and promises that you have made and created really really bad karma. As part of the karmic chain, the only folks involved are the folks involved; not some imaginary being in an imaginary plane of existence. It’s like saying I dropped a glass and spilled something so I’ll just go ask the Queen of England for a pardon. What’s the Queen got to do with my mistake? She’s a party to nothing. That’s even given the Queen exists and a Buddhist doesn’t believe “God” exists.

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about is the fact that Brett Hume can’t even seem to grok how absurd the statement is because he’s so swimming in the concepts of sin and the need for forgiveness that he can’t imagine what it means to some one who believes that neither exists. He can’t see outside of his own paradigm. (Gosh, I hate that stupid word, but it works here.) He’s thinks that’s important for Tiger because it’s important to Brett.

This is the problem with most folks and with religious discussions. My favorite one is that you’ll go to hell if you don’t believe (fill in the blank). Well, believe me, that threat may sound horrible to some one who seriously believes all that, but to some one who doesn’t it’s like saying Santa isn’t going to bring you presents under your tree. I think frequently when an atheist is accused of being smug, it’s because generally you’re so shocked that folks think actually believe a threat like that would even register on anything but your funny bone scale. Again, if I believe it’s not relevant and it’s imaginary, I’m going to look at you like you’ve lost it completely because you can’t seriously have listened to anything I’ve ever said. But again, it’s because, if you do believe that, it’s a really scary threat for you. What if some one said pissing off Vulcan will mean you’re going to get struck by lightening? What if some one told YOU that with a straight face?

So, Brett, there’s no sins to forgive in Buddhism so how can something that teaches something is irrelevant and doesn’t exist be inferior? You’re telling Tiger everything will be okay on Christmas morning as long as he leaves his cookies and milk out for Santa.

What does it mean to be  plain ignorant in front of that many people, let alone rude and socially unacceptable?  I don’t think Brett Hume’s mother raised him to be that rude, but I may be wrong. I’m sure Tiger’s recovery process will not depend on Brett Hume’s theology, even though the arrogant Hume seems to think so.