Archive for October, 2011

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We Have Hysterical Right Wing Newspapers In Canada Too

Last night there was a provincial election in Ontario (Canada’s biggest province — the one with Toronto and Ottawa in it). The incumbent Liberal party lost their majority in the legislature, meaning they’re going to have to appeal to either the NDP on their left or the Progressive Conservatives on their right to get bills passed. It’s most likely that they’ll do most of their collaborating with the NDP.

The Toronto Sun (circulation: 1,016,761, making it the 7th most read newspaper in Canada) offers I think the most measured response to this situation:


The Ottawa Sun’s running the same cover, as is likely every Ontario newspaper owned by the Sun Media Corporation, noted previously in this blog for its weak attempt to get a Fox News-style all-right-wing-hysteria-all-the-time network off the ground.

Update: The NDP won in Manitoba earlier this week. The next day’s Winnipeg Sun –

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SlutWalk vs. Occupy Wall Street (Or, How Language Affects Real Life)

Sady Doyle has a good post over at In These Times that’s well worth reading, but I want to quibble with the way she compares and contrasts SlutWalk and Occupy Wall Street:

It was hard to ignore Occupy Wall Street that day. Protesters discussed it amongst themselves while marching; on the fringes of the protest, people handed out the Occupied Wall Street Journal. That protest—describing itself as a “resistance movement” against “greed and corruption,” and comparing itself explicitly to the Arab Spring, which if nothing else shows that overblown self-promotional language is not just a SlutWalk problem—was in its third week, and had survived bad weather, reported police brutality, and a false rumor that Radiohead would be playing a free show there.

I had been staying away from Occupy Wall Street. I wasn’t sure why; I, like every other progressive in the city, had been exhorted to attend, reminded that it was both my right and my duty. As a recession casualty, and a woman from a working-class family, I often thought that my lack of money controlled my life, and brought violence and suffering into it, just as much as my gender had. But the exhortations made me resentful, for reasons I couldn’t name. It was something to do with the big, sexy, non-specific targets; something to do with the language of duty; something to do with the fact that men who had routinely given me gentle or not-so-gentle crap for my own activism were now Tweeting constantly about the power of the people and the obligation of the masses to protest.

It wasn’t until I marched in SlutWalk that I finally got it. It was simply this: No matter how hyped SlutWalk had been, no matter how long the marches had been going on or how global their reach was, no one ever imagined we could book Radiohead. We had all known that wasn’t our place; it wasn’t a degree of recognition we felt entitled to, even in our fantasies. Even on the day we marched, we weren’t the biggest show in town. We had accepted that. We didn’t tell the Wall Streeters it was their duty to join forces with us; we didn’t express resentment that more of them hadn’t come uptown. We were just feminists, after all. We might well be the next wave, but to the progressive community we looked a lot like the feminist waves before us: A sort of women’s auxiliary to the real movement. Maybe admirable, mostly irrelevant.

I like Doyle a lot, and she’s generally pretty dead-on in her cultural analysis, but this is just getting the facts wrong. Occupy Wall Street was treated with scorn and disregard from the get-go. Everybody stuck around anyway. I remember reading a thread on Reddit, centered around the relatively minor police brutality that was occurring early on in the protests (nothing compared to the shit the NYPD is pulling now), and just gaping at how furiously the assembled neckbeards mocked those who would deign to take their complaints to the street. It was essentially an attitude of “Fuck ‘em, they’re a bunch of crybabies anyway, and they’re getting what they deserve.” Hippy-punching. It was silly naive idealists being given a dose of the real world. Nothing to see here.

The American press gave it almost no coverage for the first week and a half of its existence — despite the fact that it was growing larger by the day and that they would’ve creamed themselves over a similarly sized turnout from the Tea Party — and the coverage they’ve given since has been less than sympathetic. I mean, can you imagine the shit storm that would be raised by Fox, and lapped up by the rest of the cable news networks, if the police had pepper sprayed a guy dressed like a colonial settler with a three-corner hat and a musket? It would’ve been bananas. It would have been bonkers. It would have been the condemnation of Barack Obama’s White-People-Hating Police State, and it would have been really, really ugly.

That is, if the cop didn’t get shot first.

But that was all slightly tangential, and should probably be deleted, but whatever. Stay with me. Stay focused! My larger point is that Occupy Wall Street came up from nothing. Its promotion consisted of a campaign in Adbusters, a magazine that virtually nobody reads, a few shout outs from Anonymous, and then it just grew. Then it grew some more. And then it kept growing, to the point that it’s now swept the country, has received significant union backing (thereby substantiating it), and arrived at the point where Important People are starting to take notice. It’s been a grassroots groundswell, from a few hundred people standing in a park wondering exactly what they ought to do, to a movement that seems each day to hold its new “largest action.” It has become a festival. People go to festivals, they pitch tents, and they stick the fuck around.

SlutWalk, on the contrary, is a parade. Ephemeral. Look at the names of the two protests we’re dealing with here, look at how they preordain what kind of attendance to expect, should things go ideally in either schema. “Occupy” Wall Street. Slut “Walk.” The former is about inhabiting a particular place for an open-ended amount of time. The latter is about walking somewhere, presumably onward and out of sight. It’s not surprising that Occupy Wall Street, at this stage in its development (which was entirely unexpected, for what it’s worth), is garnering all the attention. By design, its function is to be a feedback loop. As it grows, it grows, and it grows, and it grows some more, until it (presumably) gets what it was aiming for and dissipates.

A parade doesn’t work like that, and neither did SlutWalk, again by design. A parade draws in a significant number of temporary onlookers (through heavy advertising, or cultural custom, or what have you), lasts for a few hours, and is complete. In its political form, its function is to draw a disparate group of onlookers together to consider a viewpoint they might not otherwise consider. If, as Doyle mentions later, she was able, at SlutWalk’s end, to successfully shame some of the male onlookers and photo-takers into running away from her own camera in embarrassment, then it served its function. It did what it was supposed to do. It raised the very valid and noble point that women aren’t on the goddamn planet to be ogled, objectified, and raped — and if you aren’t going to acknowledge that message, then get the fuck out of the way. That’s worth something.

It’s worth more than sour grapes, in fact, which is what I got from Doyle’s tone in that part of her piece. Feminism and the fight against entrenched oligarchy aren’t at odds with one another. They’re very much struggles of the same kind: to wit, toward egalitarianism and against the stratification of society into the haves and have-nots. The haves, in all fights against true injustice, are the people who don’t recognize their own privilege, and in failing to recognize it, defend it to the death, no matter how vile the arguments they’re forced to endorse in that defense. But what we see with the difference in attendance between Occupy Wall Street and SlutWalk doesn’t reflect that debate — that there are two parties going on doesn’t mean that the bigger party is oppressing the other. They can both be having parties! There are no have-nots in this situation; there are only haves!

Occupy Wall Street is as large as it is now because it was programmed to be. If everything went according to plan (or dumb luck struck) it would sweep the country. That’s happening. Sort of. SlutWalk went the way it went (and you’ll notice that here I use the past tense) because it was programmed to go that way. It was a one-off. And it went well. But SlutWalk was a parade. Occupy Wall Street is a festival. And there’s a difference between what each form is trying to accomplish.

You’re all on the same team, is what I’m saying.

As you were.

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Just a friendly NHL reminder

That the Boston Bruins will be hoisting the Stanley Cup banner up into the rafters tonight as their 2011-2012 season commences in earnest. Yes, my Canadian friends, I am rubbing it in.

(Cue obligatory outrage about what an awful person Chara is for one sketchy check in an otherwise clean and illustrious career. Oh, except the second part. Never mind then. Cue obligatory outrage about what an awful person Chara is, period.)

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This isn’t cool, Barack Obama.

Via Greenwald comes this lovely report from Reuters (emphasis Greenwald’s):

American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions . . . . There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council . . . . Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate. . . . The role of the president in ordering or ratifying a decision to target a citizen is fuzzy. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to discuss anything about the process. . . .

Glenn wonders:

Seriously: if you’re willing to endorse having White House functionaries meet in secret — with no known guidelines, no oversight, no transparency — and compile lists of American citizens to be killed by the CIA without due process, what aren’t you willing to support?

In a presidential race between Mittens and Obama, I’ll take Obama every time. But it’s getting harder and harder to feel anything remotely resembling enthusiasm about it.

Ninja Edit: I guess I should add that this is morally reprehensible, likely impeachable, grossly authoritarian, and more than a little bit horrifying. Congress should, you know, perform its duty of, you know, checking and balancing the executive on this one. And the press should probably be pasting this on the front page every damn day until something is done about it. But, naw, fuck it, an election is 13 months around the corner. There’s real news to cover!

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Airbud the Last Airbud?

When I’m with you, baby [AIRBUD], I go out of my head, and I just can’t get enough, I just can’t get enough…

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Shunninglingus

There are many ways I could introduce the following article, but my wife’s mother reads this blog occasionally, so I’m gonna let the headline speak for itself:

Oral Sex May Cause More Throat Cancer Than Smoking in Men, Researchers Say

This is not going to make women’s lib crowd happy.

The cringey deets:

Researchers examined 271 throat-tumor samples collected over 20 years ending in 2004 and found that the percentage of oral cancer linked to the human papillomavirus, or HPV, surged to 72 percent from about 16 percent, according to a report released yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. By 2020, the virus-linked throat tumors — which mostly affected men — will become more common than HPV-caused cervical cancer, the report found.

[...]

“The burden of cancer caused by HPV is going to shift from women to men in this decade,” Maura Gillison, an oncologist at Ohio State University and study senior author, said in a telephone interview. “What we believe is happening is that the number of sexual partners and exposure to HPV has risen over that same time period.”

[...]

In a 2007 epidemiology study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Gillison and her colleagues found that having a high number of oral or vaginal sex partners are risk factors for HPV-associated throat cancer. The cancer may also be spread by open-mouth kissing, Gillison said in the interview.

“Nobody paid attention to oral HPV infections until 2007,” she said. “We are about 15 years behind in the research” compared with the data on cervical cancer and HPV, she said.

An editorial accompanying the study concluded that trials to see whether vaccines prevent oral cancer “are needed, given that prevention through vaccination will almost certainly be the ultimate solution” to HPV-positive oral cancers.

No comment no comment no comment

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The NYPD Occupies Wall Street

By beating people up, naturally.

People with badges are heroes, of course. Never forget.

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Wingnuts: “The Federal Reserve should stop worrying about the part of its mandate that promotes full employment, and should get back to the serious business of protecting rich people from imaginary inflation.”

No, I am not making my headline up.***

Also, while I was eating dinner Steve Jobs died?

Furthermore, and also while I was eating dinner, Sarah Palin has announced that she will not run for president, probably because it would be deeply embarrassing for all parties involved?

It’s a mad, mad world we live in.

***Clarification in comments

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Congressional Democrats Propose Hopeless Bill to Tax the Rich in Order to Pay for Obama’s Jobs Bill, Which is Also Hopeless

Despite the tilting at windmills aspect to the proceedings, I am pleased that Reid & cohorts are engaging in a little bit of the old “class warfare” on behalf of regular people for a change:

Senate Democratic leaders on Wednesday proposed a 5 percent surtax on people with incomes of more than $1 million a year to pay for the package of job-creation measures sought by President Obama and to quell a brewing revolt among Democrats against the White House plan

[snip]

The approach is unlikely to win any backing from Republican leaders who strenuously oppose increases in tax rates, saying they would put a damper on the economy and penalize “job creators.” But the plan, which Senate Democrats had aired last year to a cool response from the White House, is seen by party strategists as having appeal with the public.

Of course, it would’ve been nice if they had proposed this back when they had the Congressional majorities to maybe, possibly, in an ideal world, I dunno, get the damn thing passed (not that it ever would have with Vice-Chancellor Max Baucus chairing the Finance Committee, but hey, a brother can dream, right?). Still it’s better late than never, I suppose, and it’s good politics, as the Times notes.

Of course, you can always count on Chuck Schumer to make a boneheaded comment when he’s asked to weigh in on economic matters:

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, said Wednesday that he hoped the new proposal, with its $1 million threshold, would deflect criticism aimed at the financing proposed by the president.

In general, Mr. Schumer said, the Senate Democrats’ proposal would not increase taxes for households with incomes of $200,000 or $300,000. “Many of them are not rich,” Mr. Schumer said.

Because being in the 94th percentile of wage earners doesn’t make you rich; it puts you solidly in the middle class, according to Chuck Schumer.

I wish to subscribe to his newsletter. And his tax bracket.

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Google Brews Beer

For some good news on an otherwise depressing day in your march to mediocrity, feeble-mindedness, and eventual doom, check this shit out: Google is brewing its own beer now. And they’re doing it with Dogfish Head, which means I’ll probably never get a chance to try it. But maybe you will. And maybe this will make your life slightly more meaningful.

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