The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Via Elle Magazine: Women who won on November 8, 2017

Good Monday, all. It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, and I cannot thank Fredster, DYB and GAGal enough for stepping up so wonderfully in my absence. Everything is fine, just working an average of 60-70 hours a week, including Sundays (which, at the moment, means packing for Monday travel again).

Back in the Old PUMA days, many of us struggled with our sense of betrayal by the DNC as we saw them put thumbs, hands and feet on the scale to make it seem like Obama was the favorite of the primary electorate. Even after massively over-weighting caucuses, and making huge states like California and Florida count as “half votes” (a decision much like Bush v. Gore, in that it only applied to Hillary Clinton and was never seen again), the DNC still failed to convincingly eliminate Our Girl the way she would crush Bernie Sanders in 2017 (by 4 million votes). The super delegates switched to Obama, however, making her nomination impossible. This cemented our perception that the DNC had driven the bus over the clear female favorite in order to install their guy. (Remember my radio show with Sheri Tag and other PUMAs, “Not Under the Bus?” Blast from the past!)

One of the reasons I had a bit of a reputation in those days was my advocacy for the 30% solution; in other words, work up to 30% women in government, and the balance will start tilting towards equality. I stated time and again that women needed to take matters into their own hands, wake up and realize that the DNC was not going to do enough to court and promote women for office. I stated also, in pre-Tea Party and Trump days, that Republican women were better than Republican men, and made it clear that I was only going to vote for women until the DNC heard me.

Some of what I said in the original 30% solution post hasn’t aged well. Palin turned out to be a disappointment (to say the least), and McMaverick ended up following his party off the extremist cliff as they became more and more out of touch with reality. And Barack Obama was not unelectable.

This part, unfortunately, was dead on.

If 30% of the Senate and House were women, you can bet your increasingly-less-valuable paycheck that both parties would be feeling a lot more responsible to that constituency. But as it is now, the Democrats have gotten fat and lazy, assuming that we will hand them our votes no matter what they do, resting on their decades-old laurels and doing little or nothing to stop [the] horrendous attack on our reproductive freedoms.

[snip]

[The Democrats]…will continue to be a Party divided on racial and sexual lines; a Party that thinks nothing of an African-American candidate who gains the support of 93% of AA’s by race-baiting, but is fauxraged at women who self-identified with Hillary and now Sarah Palin; a Party destroyed from within by the most divisive and destructive candidate in recent memory.

It’s up to you, Democrats. You can re-commit yourselves to social justice and gender equality, or you can continue on your path towards becoming the New Plutocratic Party. But be prepared to reap what you sow. Remember, pissing off your constituents, then blaming them for not voting for you, is never a good electoral strategy. Giving your constituents what they want, however, works every time.

Flash forward to 2015. The majority President Obama briefly enjoyed was quickly swept away in 2010 by the overwhelming Tea Party reaction to his election, and the Republicans have only gained ground since then. The Democrats have shrugged at the concerns of women and minorities, focusing solely on health care, fixing “the economy” (translation – improving the stock market and creating jobs for highly educated people) and litigating LGBT rights (which I’m happy about of course, but couldn’t they have walked and chewed gum at the same time?). The number of women in Congress has actually decreased, so the ERA remains DOA. And, equal pay for equal work was stripped out of the Lily Ledbetter Act in the Senate, even though Democrats controlled it at the time. This made the Act toothless and once again, left women out of the economic recovery Obama has presided over. And predictably, the number of health care options available for women has deteriorated astonishingly: for so many women in rural America, there’s no place to either get an abortion, or give birth.

Yet still, we failed to learn the lessons of 2008. Still, we put our faith in a Democratic Party hollowed out by the self-centered “leadership” of Barack Obama, tens of millions in debt and without a clear transition plan, electoral strategy or modern infrastructure. Still, we hoped against hope that this time, the Party would support the obvious, clear favorite, that they would empower her candidacy against a Republican Party suffering from its own identity crisis. Still, feminists of all genders, thrilled beyond words by the thought of the first female President, felt that finally, our time had arrived. The Party couldn’t, wouldn’t screw this up again, would it?

Of course it could, and of course it did, by letting a bitter, disingenuous and unelectable candidate exploit the cracks in the Party that Obama had exposed in 2008. Obamabots became BernieBros, and took to Twitter and Facebook to bully and silence Hillary’s supporters, aided and abetted by wingnuts and Russian bots. As before, policy and facts didn’t matter; sexist rants, death threats and abuse became routine for those who dared not bow to the Cult of Sanders. And even now, his toxic effects are being felt. Bernie’s “Unity Commission” recommendations are about to be shared, and they’re the worst ideas ever: more caucuses and open primaries, guaranteed to break the Party even more and expose it to epic Republican ratf*cking.

Yes, the Democratic Party was one of the factors that gave us Drumpf. And finally, ever since the day after Drumpf’s nightmare inauguration, we have been showing that now, we get it. Hat tip to Socalannie for sharing this article: The Glorious Anger of Female Voters, One Year Later.

As recently as the morning of November 8, 2016, I believed, as I think many American women did, that if we only played by the rules, we could rise to the highest positions of power.

[snip]

On November 9, we woke up, and Donald Trump had been elected.

It became clear that you can be the most qualified woman and still lose to the least qualified man.

That was like a spell being broken. All across the land, women woke up and realized we were never going to get where we wanted to go by playing by the rules. Even if you walked the tightrope of acceptable feminine behavior perfectly, even if you managed to sidestep every trap laid for women, you would still never to get to the top. The bar for men was so low they could slither right over it.

And I think something inside us broke. Some dam within so many women that kept them quiet, that kept their anger tucked away, pent up all the times women smile politely when we feel like screaming. That dam burst.

And every furious moment we’d tried not to think about came flooding forth. We were awake, and we were righteously angry.

Being women, and people of all genders who support us, what did we do with that anger? We turned it into action. #TheResistance was born. If the Democratic Party wasn’t going to support the most qualified, admired, exceptional woman in the world, then we weren’t going to waste any more time waiting for it to support us. Instead, we would run for office. We would form our own groups and support outside organizations that trained and supported female candidates. We would support Hillary’s new PAC, Onward Together, and donate to organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood instead of the DNC. We would speak out on Twitter and Facebook. We would stand up to rape culture by demonstrating the scope of the problem through the #MeToo campaign. And most of all, we realized that no one is going to listen if we don’t take control of the conversation.

So in 2017, we gave the Rulez a polite and definite middle finger. Women are running for office and winning at 4 times the usual rate for first-time candidates. Transgender candidates are running and winning. Suburban women are supporting their sisters. And men, more and more, are standing up proudly for equality, sharing their own stories about rape culture, and pledging to stand up to misogyny whenever they see or hear it. What’s happening now is the silver lining starting to shine through the dark clouds storming over our democracy.

I’m going to close this hopeful post with some words from Our Girl on November 8, always and forever our inspiration. We’re finally woke, and we won’t stop until we have the equality we deserve.

Last night, we were reminded what is possible when we come together and fight for what we believe in.

With the support of Onward Together, 40% of the candidates that Run for Something endorsed and supported won their races in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and more — compared to the 10% rate at which first-time candidates usually win. 86 women trained by Emerge America won last night, including nine of the seats flipped in Virginia. Color of Change PAC was instrumental in winning the district attorney race in Philadelphia. And Indivisible groups made more than 600,000 calls into Virginia to help pull out a win for Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax, and Mark Herring.

This year hasn’t been what any of us had hoped it would be. In fact, it’s been frustrating and, at times, painful. But we never lost faith in our vision of an America where our children and grandchildren can grow up safe and loved, and with every opportunity they deserve.

To those of you who worked your hearts out for these victories, including our friends on the ground in Virginia, New Jersey, and more: thank you. I am so proud to be on your team.

This is an open thread.

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It’s a crazy world out there folks. I don’t have to actually say that, of course. It’s always been crazy to some degree, but the current degree is basically hell. But did you know that the first dishwasher was invented by a woman? I know that seems random and it is. I just wanted to change the subject from the madness of the world with something to distract us for a minute or two and wasn’t sure of a graceful way to do it.

So anyway, Josephine Cochrane (1839-1913) from Ashtabula County, OH, was the co-inventor of the first automatic dishwasher. (Her maternal grandfather, John Fitch, apparently invented the steamboat!) Cochrane designed the first model of the dishwasher in the shed behind her house.

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To build the machine, she first measured the dishes and built wire compartments, each specially designed to fit either plates, cups, or saucers. The compartments were placed inside a wheel that lay flat inside a copper boiler. A motor turned the wheel while hot soapy water squirted up from the bottom of the boiler and rained down on the dishes. Her dishwasher was the first to use water pressure instead of scrubbers to clean the dishes inside the machine.

Mass production on this modern marvel started in 1897 at the Garis-Cochran factory, though the dishwasher didn’t become common until the 1950’s.

Did you know that Hedy Lamarr invented a bunch of things? One of the most talented and gorgeous of all Hollywood actresses spent her life inventing things. Like trying to improve the traffic light and a pill to make carbonated water (not a successes.) Howard Hughes thought she was a genius and funded a lot of her “tinkering,” like a new design she made of plane wings that made them less square and made planes fly faster.

During World War II, Lamarr learned that radio-controlled torpedoes, which could 220px-Hedy_lamarr_-_1940.jpgbe important in the naval war, could easily be jammed, thereby causing the torpedo to go off course. With the knowledge she had gained about torpedoes from her first husband, she came up with the idea of somehow creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed. She contacted her friend, composer and pianist George Antheil, to help her develop a device for doing that, and he succeeded by synchronizing a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals. They drafted designs for the frequency-hopping system which they patented.

Though Lamarr got a patent for her invention, the US military was too busy at the time (world war and all) and didn’t accept inventions from outside the military. However, in 1962 (during Cuban Missile Crises) a revised design of her invention appeared on US Navy ships. Lamarr and Antheil were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. This invention laid the foundation for WiFi and GPS.

Do you have a home security system? You should thank Marie Van Brittan Brown. She was born in Queens, NY in 1922 and she invented a security system in 1966 that included cameras that fed a signal to a monitor. Residents could also unlatch the door by remote. Brown said she was inspired to invent this because of the long time it would take the police to arrive after being called by residents. She died in 1999; her invention lives on and keeps people safe in their homes around the world.

United States Navy rear admiral Grace Murray Hopper was a pioneer of computer engineering. She believed that computer codes could be written in English. Many years of research led to the creation of COBOL, the high-level programming language still in use today. Though she was not personally involved in the creation of COBOL, it was her research that led to it and she is commonly referred to as “the (grand)mother of COBOL.”

This is an open thread.

 


Good Monday, all. There’s a lot going on, and most of it not good, as usual, these days. The new bootlicker Drumpf has hired to represent him on teevee is typical of all his stooges: narcissistic, greedy (h/t Prolix!), and intimately tied to Russia. He’s dangling lots of fake news in front of the cable news media, and they’re all lapping it up. Drumpf still doesn’t believe Russia attacked our elections!! (Of course he does, idiots. He and his campaign helped make it happen.) He’s looking into pardoning himself!! (Of course he is. That doesn’t mean he’ll do it, for heaven’s sake. He knows he’s going to get caught, and is looking for ways to evade the consequences, just the way he always does.)

Meanwhile, some Democrats are buying into stupidity of their own. Such as, “Hillary lost ‘the Obama coalition’ to Drumpf!!! ZOMG we have to chase those 70,000 switchers in swing states with a strong economic message!” Do old white guys like Chuck Schumer never get tired of mansplaining to women?

Apparently the fact that Nate Silver, expert pollster, agrees with Hillary’s analysis of why she lost, has failed to penetrate. And, apparently the fact that the Resistance is female, and the base of the Democratic Party is female AND of color, is immaterial to Chuck and his fellow mansplainers.

Someone please tell me this: how is it a good strategy to target only a few white men by focusing on an economic message that is proven to be irrelevant, and ignore the giant mass of women that is active, energized and ready to vote, and run, as Democrats?

Like this woman.

In Prince William County, Hala Ayala is hoping to bring her values of empowerment for women and equality for all to Richmond, and at the same time, send home one of Virginia’s leading anti-choice, anti-immigrant delegates.

Ayala has long been involved in local politics. She volunteered for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. And in 2014, she helped revive the National Organization for Women (NOW) chapter in her community, becoming its president.

Now THAT is the Obama coalition, you jack*sasses!

The Democrats would be much, much better off energizing its base with a sharper version of Hillary’s message, than losing its principles by trying to gain the voters who want to go back to the fake 50’s in their heads.

Hala Ayala is doing something. And we should too. Forget the Democratic Establishment. The more we Do Something, the more they will get the message.

So let’s go to marches. Let’s form groups. Let’s donate to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Let’s call our Senators and attend Town Halls.

It’s all working. Let’s stick with it!

This is an open thread.

 

 

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Just in time for Independence Day, NBC News wrote an article about the excavation of Sally Hemmings‘ living quarters at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello plantation. The byline reads: “Thomas Jefferson’s mistress Sally Hemings’ secret living quarters finally discovered.” NBC’s use of the word “mistress” is unfortunate. Hemmings was a slave. She was 14 years old when Jefferson first raped her. What editor wrote this byline without a bolt of lighting striking them down?

We are living in a diseased world. Trump himself is not the disease, he is a symptom. He used the disease of misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc., to get himself elected. He launched his campaign by declaring all Mexicans as rapists and murderers. (And some, he assumed, were ok.) We are living in the same world that also houses Brock Turner. On January 18, 2015 Turner raped an unconscious woman. He was convicted of his crime. The presiding judge, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, sentenced Brock to 6 months in jail. A year since that ruling, Judge Persky has finally decided to explain himself. ““I have a reputation for being fair to both sides,” Persky says. Let that sink in for a moment. Persky was looking at a victim of rape and the man who raped her while she was unconscious. And Persky prides himself on being fair to both sides. He is running for reelection. I’d like to say that there’s no chance Persky will get reelected, but we are living in a Trump world. He might.

I ran into this article at Mother Jones about men taking credit for women’s work. (Last week Bernie Sanders embraced Hillary Clinton’s public option healthcare plan. It was the same plan he and his Bros previously excoriated Clinton for. But now Sanders is taking credit for it, and some in the media are happily giving him credit. Sanders also previously embraced Hillary’s college tuition plan after being vehemently against it. The  media gave him credit for Hillary’s plan too.) Mother Jones digs far, back to cave paintings. Newest research suggests they were painted by women. From Mary Shelley to Ada Lovelace to the rapper M.I.A. and singer Taylor Swift – the more things change, the more men continue to take credit for women’s work. (Remember when Michael Moore claimed to be the leader of the Resistance? Yeah, no Michael Moore. You’re NOT the Resistance.)

We’ve all heard the word “mansplain.” It’s a word that has entered the lexicon fairly quickly. I didn’t even notice it, it was just sort of there. I did not realize it originated with a 2008 essay “Men Explain Things To Me” by Rebecca Solnit. Solnit related an anecdote that at a party she got into a discussion with a man who had heard Solnit was an author. She began to tell him about her latest book about Eadweard Muybridge and the man interrupted her to inform her that just last year a new and popular book about Muybridge came out. Had she heard of it? It so happens that she had. Solnit wrote it.

And finally: on June 26th we celebrated the 20th anniversary since the publishing of the first Harry Potter novel: “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” (Retitled “The Sorcerer’s Stone” in the US.) Joanne Rowling famously started jotting down the novel onJK-Rowling a napkin in an Edinburgh cafe when she was a single mother and broke, living on welfare. She finished the manuscript on an old-fashioned typewriter. It was rejected by 12 publishers. Finally a small children’s publisher Bloomsbury accepted. They asked Rowling to create a gender-neutral name because a novel about a boy wizard was likely to sell better if boys didn’t know a woman had written it. So Joanne became J.K. Rowling. Bloomsbury printed 500 copies of the original hardcover (now worth a fortune!) 300 of those copies were sent to libraries and only 200 into the wild. The rest, of course, is history. Over the course of seven novels Rowling’s story of the boy wizard and his best friends Ron and Hermione’s struggles against forces of evil have inspired generations of children and adults. Movies and a play made billions. Rowling herself became a billionaire (Forbes claims she is the first writer to make a billion dollars from writing alone), and at one point Rowing was proclaimed to be richer than the Queen of England. However, Rowling gave away so much to charity that Forbes had to remove her from their list of billionaires. She is currently said to have only about $840,000,000.

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Over the weekend I edited a short fundraising video for organizations that help victims of human trafficking. These are all religious institutions and the women interviewed were all nuns. One from NYC, one from London, and one from Mombasa, Kenya.

Human trafficking is the 2nd largest crime industry in the world, only behind drug trafficking. It generates hundreds of billions of dollars in profit – at the expense of human lives. And it is also the fastest growing “industry” in the world today. In 2012 it was estimated that as many as 20.9 million people around the world were victims of human trafficking. Imagine what those numbers are in 2017. Human trafficking includes sexual exploitation (including sexual slavery), forced labor, organ harvesting. The International Labour Organization (a United Nations agency) last compiled their statistics in 2012. Some excerpts:

90% are forced to labor for private economies or corporations

22% are in forced sexual exploitation

55% are women and girls & 45% are men and boys

26% are under the age of 18

Sister Jane Kimathi, from Mombasa, speaks of victims as young as 4 years old, forced into prostitution. Many, she says, come to their safe houses unable to speak because of the trauma. Some stay with the Sisters for as long as two years, as they try to rehabilitate them and find new homes. While their order is Catholic, they welcome all victims and their prayer room is nondenominational. She mentioned that Mombasa is a popular tourist destination. But the “tourist destination” designation is people who come there specifically searching for young children to abuse. Because of the many conflicts in Africa, the number of refugees spikes the numbers of slaves. They are people looking for ways to support their families. Nobody is looking for glamour or prestige in the sex trade, Sister Kimathi says. “It’s poverty and desperation.” Some of the children were sold by their parents into slavery. Some are orphans and some are runaways who were promised happiness by relatives, who then exploited them.

It’s a story the Sister from New York, Joan Dawber, picks up on. Sister Joan runs safe houses in Queens. She described one woman’s story: She came to New York to be a student, sponsored byp1562069350-3 an extended family. When she arrived, the family forced her to become their slave. She never attended school. She was forced to take care of the family, including raising their young children. She was forced to eat off the floor. Not just having her plate on the floor, she didn’t have a plate. Whatever food she was allowed to eat was put on the floor. If she was hungry and snuck any food out of the fridge, she was punished. She was her family’s slave in Queens, NY for five years. Her salvation came in the form of a neighbor who suspected something odd based on the young woman’s behavior in public. She tried to speak to her repeatedly, ask her how she is, only to have the young woman run away. Eventually the neighbor gave the woman a cell phone with pre-programmed numbers for the police and safe shelters. The young woman finally found courage to escape, using the cell phone to call for help. She has since finished school and lives in New York.

Sister Dawber points out that human trafficking exists in every state of the USA. It is not an issue that only happens out there somewhere. It exists all around us. It could be the waitress in a restaurant, or a manicurist at the nail salon. They could be of any age and any race. It can be almost impossible to know that this person ringing up our groceries is indentured to someone.

Sister Lynda Dearlove runs a safe house in London. Their organization primarily helps prostitutes. The interesting thing is that their mission isn’t strictly to “rescue” the women from prostitution. It is to offer them a safe home and counseling when in need. Many only come to sister-lynda-dearlovespend the night, take a shower and eat. Some then return to the streets. The Sisters there never force anyone to stay. Many women have been coming to them for years for a night or two of peace. The Sisters hope that by offering women a shelter and offering them counseling they can help them enable themselves. Sister Dearlove passionately says that the can not force anyone to do anything. The best they can do is show the women that there is hope and they need to find it for themselves. Maybe not today, but possibly tomorrow. “They are valued and they are loved, and if anything happens to them we want them to know that we will miss them.” She says that people blame women for becoming prostitutes and that it is one of the biggest challenges we as a society face: The need to understand that if any of these women choose prostitution it is only because they are fleeing abuse, or drugs, or so many other possible traumas. Many are trying to support families and stay alive. They must never be judged or condemned, she says. They must be offered hope.

Note: Sister Dearlove was appointed a member of the Order of the British Empire in 2010.

This is an open thread. What’s on your mind fellow Widdershins?

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Oh, No He Dwa – Wa

Good Monday, Widdershins! It’s been another dizzying, crazy-making week in Washington. It’s almost impossible to make sense of all the Republicans melting down in public, including the fact that Mike Pence (currently being marketed as “The Normal One”) used a private email server to conduct government bidness as Indiana’s governor! Yes, that’s Our Girl reading about it over there on the right side.

Let’s take a little break from the cray-cray and talk about some of the good things going on. As we know, March is Women’s History Month, and March 8, 2017 is International Women’s Day. Thanks to the Women’s March, a spontaneous outpouring of love, positivity and opposition the day after Drumpf’s inauguration, women, and those who support us, have been energized for activism in a way they haven’t been in decades.

This year, March 8 is A Day Without A Woman.

In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity. We recognize that trans and gender nonconforming people face heightened levels of discrimination, social oppression and political targeting. We believe in gender justice.

Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways:

  1. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
  2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
  3. Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman

Ah, but what are we women yammering about, skeptics may grumble. After all, women aren’t that far away from being equal. And it’s true, we’ve made some strides. Maybe we should wait! According to the IWD website, if we continue on our current course, women will achieve gender parity in 2186.

I’ll just let that sit there for a minute.

When I read that figure, I thought, huh. Weren’t we doing better a few years ago? Why yes. Yes we were.

On average, the 144 countries covered in the Report have closed 96% of the gap in health outcomes between women and men, unchanged since last year, and more than 95% of the gap in educational attainment, an improvement of almost one full percentage point since last year and the highest value ever measured by the Index. However, the gaps between women and men on economic participation and political empowerment remain wide: only 59% of the economic participation gap has been closed—a continued reversal on several years of progress and the lowest value measured by the Index since 2008—and about 23% of the political gap, continuing a trend of slow but steady improvement. Weighted by population, in 2016, the average progress on closing the global gender gap stands at a score of 0.683—meaning an average gap of 31.7% remains to be closed worldwide across the four Index dimensions in order to achieve universal gender parity.

Out of the 142 countries covered by the Index both this year and last year, 68 countries have increased their overall gender gap score compared to last year, while 74 have seen it decrease. It therefore has been an ambiguous year for global gender parity, with uneven progress at best.

Sometimes statistics like this can seem dry. This year, in which we saw a feces-throwing orangutan being inaugurated as President, instead of the first woman ever, it’s as pertinent and full of emotional impact as the shameful and terrifying deportations, anti-Semitic hate crimes, and virulent, violent racism flourishing in the Age of Republican Hate.

But damn, I was going to talk about the good things, right? Here are 31 days of sheroes to inspire us. And for those who want to talk about the insanity du jour, this is an open thread.

 

 

white-houseA few of random thoughts for the week, my fellow Widdershins.

This weekend I attended a friend’s wedding in Washington DC. My friend, Mike, served for 5 years in the Army, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and worked his way to Captain before leaving service. He came out of the closet to his friends in the army shortly before leaving and before DADT was repealed.  (His husband used to work in a publicity firm in DC that serves politicians. Because everybody needs good PR.) They took Trump’s election very personally, especially as a gay couple. But it was encouraging to have the military chaplain, who presided over the ceremony, acknowledge how difficult life for gay men and women is in the military and how much he hopes things get better.

I was seated at the table with some of my friend’s former military brothers and sisters, all straight. My direct neighbor was one very Southern redneck from Texas.  I, the East coast elite, looked at him with suspicion at first. But as he cheered the grooms’ first dance I was reminded of a story another friend once told me about Spike Lee. That friend was a manager of a movie theater in Harlem and they held premieres of several Spike Lee movies. At one premiere a fight broke out in the audience. Lee came up to my friend afterwards and apologized for the fight, though he had nothing to do with it. My friend responded: “Oh it’s fine, we were expecting it so we were prepared.” Lee responded: “You shouldn’t have expected it and it shouldn’t have happened. I’m sorry it happened.” Lessons learned about assumptions, so I shouldn’t have made any about this large Southern military man and what he thinks about gay people and their marriages.

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Speaking of gay, Madonna was just named Billboard Magazine’s woman of the year. I love Madonna, not just in that back-handed “Well she’s proved her mettle for 30 years and she’s got a few big hits” sort of way. I genuinely love her music, she’s written some of the most infectious and important pop songs of the last 30 years.  She’s charted more No. 1 hits than any other artist in Billboard’s history. Her tours have earned $1.3 billion, the most of any female artist.  So it’s not just shock values, she has proven her musical chops for 30 years.  I also admire her determination. This is one woman who refused to bake cookies.  One may not like her music or respect her approach to fame, but it’s hard to argue she’s more famous than Jesus’s mother at this point.  That’s quite the feat.  She’s paved the way for many women in the entertainment industry. Now, as a 58 year old, she’s still pushing boundaries. About a year ago she posted a photo to Instragram with hairy armpits. Internet broke. People were very upset. Mind you, she caused controversy with hairy armpits in the 1980’s too and maybe the fact that people were still angry about it is why it was important for her post the photo. The Billboard interview that accompanies the Woman of the Year headline, by the actress Elizabeth Banks, touches on a few interesting topics. Madonna hosted a rally for Hillary Clinton in Washington Square Park in NYC the night before the election. She says since the election she’s felt like “someone died.” And she was disappointed by how many women voted for Trump.

Women’s nature is not to support other women. It’s really sad. Men protect each other, and women protect their men and children. Women turn inward and men are more external. A lot of it has do with jealousy and some sort of tribal inability to accept that one of their kind could lead a nation. Other people just didn’t bother to vote because they didn’t like either candidate, or they didn’t think Trump had a chance in the world. They took their hands off the wheel and then the car crashed.

Madonna is also asked about ageism in the entertainment industry and America. One thing people constantly tell Madonna now is she should stop flaunting her boobs or hairy armpits because she’s an old woman. One way to dismiss her is to call her “irrelevant.” Nobody says that about Mick Jagger. And they were telling Madonna to not flaunt her boobs when she was in her 20’s too.

Age is only brought up with regard to women. It’s connected to sexism, chauvinism and misogyny. When Leonardo [DiCaprio] is 60 years old, no one is going to talk about his relevance. Am I relevant as a female in this society that hates women? Well, to people who are educated and are not chauvinists or misogynists, yes.

 feminism-quote

lincoln-memorialAnd speaking of Washington DC, above is a photo we took at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday.

And one of the places we visited was the Holocaust Museum. The subject of the Holocaust is one I’ve read about a fair amount in the past. Nazi atrocities have always fascinated me so I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the subject because I keep trying to understand how ordinary people could such awful things. I highly recommend Richard Rhodes’ “Masters of Death,” for example, about the Einsatzgruppen, an elite group of SS soldiers who followed the German army into Eastern Europe and exterminated, virtually by hand, about 1.5 million people as the German Army advanced into the Soviet Union in 1941.  It was the first step of Hitler’s Final Solution. So the images and the stories at the museum are something I have been reading about and studying for some time. But having everything assembled in one place and in such a thorough fashion is very heavy. Two places at the exhibit were particularly haunting. At the end of the Final Solution section the hundreds of shoes in a pile are hair-raising. But the most emotional moment, unexpectedly so, was walking through a train car used to deport Jews to Dachau. You walk in, you stop for a moment inside – and it just takes your breath away. You can hear the voices still echoing inside the walls.

In the first part of the exhibit, about Hitler’s rise to power, it’s really difficult to not see the ascendancy of Trump and its parallels to Hitler. I know, you’re not supposed to compare people to Hitler. But sometimes you can and you should. Hitler rose in power in part because nobody believed he would do any of the horrible things he said he would do. His ideas and philosophies were not new to anyone. He articulated them in his book and he spoke about them at length as he rose to power, before he was appointed to be the Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg. Hitler challenged Hindenburg for Presidency in 1932. The vote was close and they had to have a run-off, one week of campaigning. Hindenburg delivered one radio address. Hitler rented a plane from Lufthansa and spent the week flying around Germany, holding rallies in 22 cities in one week. The public was electrified, he made headlines of every newspaper. Hindenburg, a very well-known figure, won the run-off. But Hitler, the master rally-holder, became a big enough thorn in Hindenburg’s side that he appointed Hitler to be Chancellor of Germany. Hindenburg’s allies convinced the aging President that Hitler could be controlled from the inside and that appointing him would be harmless. We know the rest.

history-cartoon

As Germany’s Left shattered because nobody could agree on a common adversary, and a certain wing of the Left didn’t think everyone else was pure enough to support – Hitler, who promised the frustrated Germans that he would make Germany relevant again – quickly consolidated his power. He then did exactly what he said he would do. In one documentary shown at the museum, a female reporter returning from Germany held a press-conference on a boat. (Sadly I did not jot down her name and have not been successful at locating this press-conference online. I couldn’t even narrow down the name of the reporter.) But she said explicitly that she observed that the Nazis had started doing in Germany exactly what they all along said they were going to do, so maybe America and the world should start taking them seriously.

I’m not saying Trump is Hitler. I’m just saying…

One thing I really liked in the exhibit is that the final section is dedicated to many individuals who fought against the Nazis and helped Jews during the Holocaust.  There are many names and photographs, and brief summaries of how they helped.  None of them are as famous as Oscar Schindler.  But how amazing that someone remembers their individual stories, ordinary men and women of different ages, backgrounds, professions and religions, who risked their own lives to save others.

I kept checking for their death dates and was glad to see that many of them did survive the war and lived long lives.  Though not all.

white-rose

Hans and Sophie Scholl with Christoph Probst in summer 1942

A few college students formed a small group The White Rose. Consisting of students from University of Munich that included siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, Willi Graf, Christoph Probst,  Alex Schmorell, another Scholl sibling Inge and a philosophy professor Kurt Huber.  The students were in their early 20’s.  Between June 1942 and February 1943 they distributed leaflets denouncing the Nazis and their mass murders of Jews, some of which the members of The White Rose hand witnessed first-hand at home and at the front.  Soon they were all arrested and executed.  Hans Scholl’s final words were: “Long live Freedom!”

Prior to their deaths, several members of the White Rose believed that their execution would stir university students and other anti-war citizens into a rallying activism against Hitler and the war. Accounts suggest, however, that university students continued their studies as usual, citizens mentioned nothing, many regarding the movement as anti-national. Their actions were mostly dismissed, until after the war when their efforts were eventually praised by the German consciousness.

 

 

What’s on your mind folks? This is an open thread.

 


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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

So similar

Take the kids to work? NO!

3 turds control fate of healthcare for millions

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

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“The” Book

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Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

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Storify version of E. Rogers HVF explanation