Monday Reads: The Republican Arsenal of Ad hominem Attacks and Lies

Vincent van Gogh – In the Café – 1887

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Happy Carnival Season!

Yesterday was 12th night and the city was hopping with all the usual activities welcoming the start of the season. Usually, this is my favorite time in New Orleans because we’re post Sugar Bowl and pre Amateur Mardi Gras Tourists. We’ll see if Air BnB continues to wreck our neighborhood revelry this year. It would be such a relief to be able to have a street full of real neighbors again. They’ve overtaken just about every thing these days and staying out of the Quarter brings no relief anywhere.

Today is a good day to dance and yell “impeach the motherfucker” to distress all the Republicans around you.   The right wing media is going crazy over weird things this week and it’s mostly just stuff done by women in power that they don’t even blink about when men do it.  I had to laugh at Lady Lindsey who was on the tube yesterday complaining that the Democratic party had been over taken by by the “radical left”.

Graham insisted that an agreement on a spending bill to get the government up and running again was nearly impossible, but Brennan reminded him of the thousands of federal workers who are either furloughed or punching the clock without pay.

“With that in mind, with them in mind, why can’t you reopen the government while you argue about the things you just laid out?” she wondered.

Graham argued it couldn’t yet be done.

“Why would you negotiate with somebody who calls you a racist if you want a wall?” he shot back. “Who gives you a dollar for a wall when the Democratic Party supported 25 billion dollars in the past? We’re not going to negotiate with people who see the world this way.”

Let’s just say the wall’s a waste of time and money.  We’ve already got walls where they supposedly work.  Let’s talk about all those Canadians that overstay VISAS and why is it always about the brown people?  That’s hardly a radical leftist position to point out that no one talks about a wall along the Canadian border.  Why is it always to block brown people?  And we have no crisis of undocumented immigrants …

Pablo Picasso – Absinthe Drinker – 1901

All the Republican Party is about these days is attacking every one that’s not them.

Meanwhile, the attack continues on Elizabeth Warren and yes, it’s about “likability” today.  Here we go again and this is from a woman via the Daily Beast.

I’m a conservative, so I don’t really worry about whether I’ve offended liberal feminists. I don’t have a problem saying that Warren is unlikeable. She seems preachy and angry to me. Actually, she’s a combination of some of the horrible math teachers I endured in middle school, and a friend’s overly emotional mom.

This might sound pretty specific, but we’ve all met people like Warren. She’s an archetype of a genre that I’m pretty sure would turn off a lot of voters. What is more, she increasingly looks like a phony—a problem she is reinforcing by trying to copy Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s Instagram game.

This is not an indictment of powerful women, but of Elizabeth Warren. I’m a fan of Nikki Haley. And though I’m no more ideologically simpatico to Nancy Pelosi, Krysten Sinema, or AOC than I am to Warren, the aforementioned progressive women seem kind of charming to me.

Yes, even Pelosi. First, above all else, you have to respect her. Second, let’s be honest, she’s stylish and glamorous—and who doesn’t like that? Pelosi serves up a pretty effective one-two punch of commanding respect and then charming you after she gets what she wants. Warren, by my estimation, fails to deliver on either front.

To be fair, it may be that this adjective (likeable) is applied more to women than it is to men. But everyone experiences some type of unfair bias on a daily basis. Each of us is constantly judged by the immediate impressions of others. They decide if they like us or trust us based not our résumés, but rather on some amalgam of information based on looks and perception.

Male candidates are judged by likeability, too. We may call it “charisma,” or talk about it in terms of which guy we’d rather have a beer with. But it’s the same thing. When two men are running against each other for office, is it fair that the taller candidate almost always wins, or that a full head of hair may be worth a point (or two)? When we attribute leadership qualities to politicians, who knows what arbitrary factors influence us?

Mina Carlson-Bredberg, Académie Julian, Mademoiselle Beson Drinking from a Glass (circa 1884). Courtesy of the Dorsia Hotel, Gothenburg, Sweden/the American Federation of Arts.

Well, it’s Mean Girls again.  Oh, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez danced at University and because she didn’t grow up in the Bronx she’s a poseur and you can find the links to that on your own. I don’t want any of those readers over here.  Women’s behavior is still under scrutiny and Trump can marry a porn star, drag her into the White House to “be best” and act like and sound like a dog, but hey, Cortez dances, and Rashida drops the F bomb and suddenly decorum is the topic du jour.



Edward Hopper, Automat 1927

Oh, and don’t say mean things about Julian Assange either.  When did men become such wusses? When women decided to fight them on their own battlegrounds?

The 5,000-word email included 140 statements that WikiLeaks said were false and defamatory, such as the assertion that Assange had ever been an “agent or officer of any intelligence service”.

WikiLeaks also said it was false and defamatory to suggest that Assange, 47, had ever been employed by the Russian government or that he is, or has ever been, close to the Russian state, the Kremlin or Putin.

Other items listed as false and defamatory included more personal claims including that Assange bleaches his hair, that he is a hacker, that he has ever neglected an animal or that he has poor personal hygiene.


Edoward Manet, Corner of a Cafe Concert, 1880

Meanwhile, the women we have in power are getting things done. From the LA TImes: ” Susan Zirinsky will replace David Rhodes as CBS News president, becoming first woman to lead division”.

Longtime producer Susan Zirinsky is replacing CBS News President David Rhodes in March, becoming the first woman to lead the storied division in the network’s history.

Zirinsky had been a leading candidate to become the executive producer of the network’s newsmagazine “60 Minutes,” replacing the program’s ousted leader, Jeff Fager.

But CBS Corp. acting Chief Executive Joseph Ianniello wanted to put Zirinsky in a larger role as Rhodes, who has been president of CBS News since 2011, is nearing the end of his contract and indicated he was ready to make an exit. He had been brought in by former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who was recently stripped of his $120-million severance over allegations of sexual misconduct after a four-month investigation.

“ ‘60 Minutes’ is the No. 1 news program and will continue to be that,” Ianniello said in an interview. “Susan can add more value creatively on some of our other broadcasts and have an impact that’s much greater on the entire organization.”

Speaker Pelosi continues to talk on the problems we have with the Trump Regime.  From CBS News: “Nancy Pelosi: “We have a problem” if Trump doesn’t care about governance”.

Nancy Pelosi capped her unlikely comeback this past week surrounded by children. The California Democrat was elected, once again, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and become the most powerful woman in American history.

“That’s funny, isn’t it?” she laughed. “Sadly, I was hoping that we would have an American woman president just two years ago.”

“Well, that didn’t happen,” said “Sunday Morning” anchor Jane Pauley. “But Speaker Pelosi is the most powerful woman in American history, and the most powerful woman in American politics. But you can’t make the government open?”

“Well, the Speaker has awesome power. But if the President of the United States is against governance and doesn’t care whether people’s needs are met or that public employees are paid or that we can have a legitimate discussion, then we have a problem, and we have to take it to the American people,” she replied.

Speaker Pelosi ushered in a new era of divided government in the midst of a government shutdown – 800,000 federal government employees furloughed or working without pay, national parks and museums closed.

President Donald Trump is demanding $5.6 billion to fulfill his campaign promise of a wall along the Mexico border. Pelosi has vowed to block any funding to build it. A tense standoff between the president and Democrats at the White House Friday lasted two hours.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer reported the president said “he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years” – a promise Mr. Trump confirmed at a press briefing later that day.

Pauley asked Pelosi, “Was that bluster? Hyperbole?”

“Well, I hope so,” Pelosi replied. “But the fact is, he has said it again and again.”

“Are you recalibrating your assessment of how you can work with this president?”

“Well, let me first say that our purpose in the meeting at the White House was to open up government,” said Pelosi. “The impression you get from the president [is] that he would like to not only close government, build a wall, but also abolish Congress so the only voice that mattered was his own.”

Justice Ginsberg will miss opening arguments but will be following them at home since she is still recovering from her Cancer Surgery.

So, the struggle continues. The attacks have been varied and consistent.  From the attacks on new Congresswomen being called out for taking their oaths on the Quran to calling Elizabeth Warren ‘Sacagawea’. Republican men have gone on the attack.  It likely will continue as the old white boys club learns to deal with diverse women as peers.

Freshman Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), who this week became one of the first two Native American women sworn into Congress, said it was “offensive and hurtful” for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to call Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) “Sacagawea.”

Haaland slammed Gaetz for making the comparison to Sacagawea, the Lemhi Shoshone woman who helped the Lewis and Clark expedition.

“Sacagawea made great sacrifices that changed American history,” Haaland said. “When anyone speaks her name, it should be with great respect.”

Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe in New Mexico, called Gaetz’s comments “offensive and hurtful.”

“I invite him to meet [with] me so I can share how such comments are a continuing assault on indigenous people,” she added.

Ashes, Edvard Munch ,1894

It’s an ongong battle to keep every one in their place. Kamala Harris is ready for the fight and may be the next woman to directly challenge Trump.  From the Guardian “Will it be a black woman who turfs Trump out of the White House?” and the keyboard of Richard Wolffe.

Outside Trump’s wall of delusion and distractions, a host of strong women candidates is poised to join Warren. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota have often found themselves entirely misjudged by the men around them. Gillibrand was considered vulnerable in her first Senate election in 2010, but she trounced all comers in all of her contests. Klobuchar proved more than a match for the clumsy bullying of supreme court nominee – now Justice – Brett Kavanaugh last year.

But one likely candidate particularly intrigues. Kamala Harris embodies the driving force pushing Democrats to record turnouts in non-presidential contests over the last two years: women of colour. The California senator has served just two years in Congress – like the last freshman senator to win the Democratic nomination, in 2008. But unlike Barack Obama, Harris has a very significant record of public service in her pre-Senate career, serving as her state’s attorney general for six years and as San Francisco’s district attorney for seven years.

While all the Democratic candidates can appeal beyond their own demographics, personal perspectives can and do influence political character. There’s no mystery about why Trump performs so well with older white men. And there should be no surprise that Harris – the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants – has already won the overwhelming support and respect of influential women of colour who will help shape the Democratic primaries.

Harris, like the other candidates of colour, will face the same questions Obama did in 2008 about appealing to the white working-class voters across the rust-belt states that Hillary Clinton narrowly lost to Trump. However, working-class challenges are most acutely experienced by minorities, and each of the former industrial states that tipped the 2016 election – Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin – have diverse electorates that shifted decisively against Trump last year.

The test for Harris, and all the other Democrats, is whether she can effectively demonstrate that she is listening and responding to those voters in order to overcome the culture wars that Trump will happily wage. Obama succeeded in 2008 by showing he was the adult in the middle of a financial crisis. He succeeded again in 2012, by showing Mitt Romney was out of touch with economic reality. If anything, Trump fills both boxes even more snugly than his predecessors.

I’m heartened to see so much fight against all the bullying.  It’s nice to know there’s a critical mass that can push back within the beltway these days.  It’s nice to see that the some of our grand old institutions are looking more like “We the People”.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Picture This: 51% of the World’s Leaders are Women

Top women leaders from around the world took to podiums at the United Nations to demand a greater global political role for women.  The picture at the left shows US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff.

“Despite notable progress, gender inequality persists,” Rousseff, who became Brazil’s first female president earlier this year, said at a high-level event held at the United Nations ahead of this week’s UN General Assembly.

“Women are still the ones who suffer the most from extreme poverty, illiteracy, poor healthcare systems, conflicts and sexual violence.”

Rousseff noted that today she would become the first woman in the history of the United Nations to open debate at the UN General Assembly.

“As someone who tried to be a president, it’s very encouraging to see those who actually ended up as a president,” Clinton joked at Monday’s event, in a reference to her unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2008.

The event–held on Monday–was sponsored by UN Women.

Women make up less than 10 percent of world leaders, and globally less than one in five members of Parliament is a woman, according to UN Women.

Increasing gender equality and putting more women in leadership roles will promote economic development, said Michelle Bachelet, the head of UN Women and a former president of Chile.

“We now have data to show that countries with greater gender equality have higher gross national product per capita and that women’s leadership in the corporate sector results in improved business performance,” she said.

The participation of women in this year’s wave of popular uprisings in the Middle East demonstrated that women are “determined to fight for democracy,” Bachelet added.

“The message is loud and clear: There is no turning back,” she said.

Other participants in the event included the European Union’s top foreign policy official, Catherine Ashton, and female officials and leaders from Africa, Asia and the Americas.

“Women’s political participation is fundamental to democracy and essential to the achievement of sustainable development and peace,” the attendees said in a joint declaration.

“We call upon all States, including those emerging from conflict or undergoing political transitions, to eliminate all discriminatory barriers faced by women.”

Also present at the meeting was Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar promised her countries a “gender neutral budget”.  She also shared her inspired personal story.

On a personal note, Persad-Bissessar shared with the audience her journey from a young girl to Prime Minister.
“I was 16 years old and I wanted to go to London to study and my uncle told my father, ‘Don’t send Kamla to England to study because she’s a girl, she has to get married and have children’… Let me say, I thank God for my mother, she insisted, and the rest is now history,” said Persad-Bissessar.

She noted she was this country’s first woman Attorney General, political leader, opposition leader and Prime Minister.

Persad-Bissessar spoke of her actions as Prime Minister towards the development of women, noting that she created a new Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development and also set a target of 40 per cent of women on State boards.

Her vision, she said, is one where women are transformational leaders comprising half the legislature, local government, State boards, private sector board rooms and all other spheres.

“A wise Chinese proverb states that ‘Women hold up half the sky’,” said Persad-Bissessar, which gained loud applause.

She said that it was “not okay” that so many women were suffering in the world.

She noted that 70 per cent of the world’s poor are women, that violence is perpetrated against women in homes, that young girls are victims of incest, sexual violence and bear the burden of teenage pregnancy and girls and women have the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS and bear the brunt of care.

Persad-Bissessar said change can be led though legislation, policies and programmes.

She proposed a global online mentorship programme targeted at young women leaders interested in a political career, who will engage with and learn from experienced women politicians.

Also speaking at the event, Clinton took note of Persad-Bissessar’s personal journey to leadership.

“Persad, when your uncle said no that young girls shouldn’t go to school and you said thank goodness for your mother, that’s a very familiar story, so parents need to recognise the values of their girls, invest in their futures, their education and then families, communities, societies need to do the same,” she said.

“There are stories like that that are percolating everywhere in the world and we have to do all we can to value the girl child, to provide support for families so they recognise and fulfil the promise of that young girl,” she said.

You can read more about UN Women and their efforts to improve the lives of women and girls around the world at their homepage.

Hillary’s Gender Agenda

abc_2hillary_080128_ms Here’s some news about Hillary Clinton’s New Gender Agenda as reported last week by the NY Times.

I have to say that Hillary really captured my admiration in 1995 when she gave that powerful speech in Beijing for the United Nations Conference. The only really feminist first lady that I can recall in my life time before Hillary Clinton was Betty Ford. Although I remember reading many many things about Eleanor Roosevelt, she died before I could truly appreciate her. All the other first ladies seemed so demure by comparison! But not Hillary Clinton!

She is our third female Secretary of State. While I appreciate Condi Rice and her brilliance, she was not always arguing positions with which I agreed so I always watched her with a raised eyebrow. I do, however, admire all three of them from Madeline Albright forward. As my Irish Grandmother taught me from her very superstitious nature, the third’s always the charm! Hillary has put women’s issues front and center and I have to say brava for that! There are so many issues facing women in the world these days that it is hard to choose one as a priority. The ones that have grabbed my heart recently are that of the plight of child brides and the girls (and young boys) trafficked for the sex trade. The one I work for is microfinancing for women’s businesses all over the world. (Shameless plug here for The Confluence Lending Team at Kiva.) Here are Hillary’s priorities.

Q: In your confirmation hearing, you said you would put women’s issues at the core of American foreign policy. But as you know, in much of the world, gender equality is not accepted as a universal human right. How do you overcome that deep-seated cultural resistance?

Clinton: You have to recognize how deep-seated it is, but also reach an understanding of how without providing more rights and responsibilities for women, many of the goals we claim to pursue in our foreign policy are either unachievable or much harder to achieve.

Democracy means nothing if half the people can’t vote, or if their vote doesn’t count, or if their literacy rate is so low that the exercise of their vote is in question. Which is why when I travel, I do events with women, I talk about women’s rights, I meet with women activists, I raise women’s concerns with the leaders I’m talking to.

I happen to believe that the transformation of women’s roles is the last great impediment to universal progress — that we have made progress on many other aspects of human nature that used to be discriminatory bars to people’s full participation. But in too many places and too many ways, the oppression of women stands as a stark reminder of how difficult it is to realize people’s full human potential.

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