Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Beyonce, Bridesmaids, and Big Business

Morning, news junkies…hope you are off to a nice, relaxing Memorial Day weekend. I’m going to keep my two cents brief this Saturday, so grab a cup of whatever and let’s go!

Is Beyonce’s New Video Feminist?

I saw this item on AlterNet the other day and found the discussion in the comments interesting. I have to say, the author of the article itself didn’t put forward very compelling arguments for her stiletto feminism (and I love my purple suede stilettos), but her piece did alert me to NineteenPercent’s response to Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls),” which I recommend checking out.

What ‘Bridesmaids’ Can Tell Us about Small Businesses and the Recession

New Deal 2.0’s Mike Konczal uses Kristin Wiig’s storyline–her character loses a bakery she started during the recession–as a teachable moment on Keynesian economics, complete with nifty graphs. He concludes that “Full employment is the friend of new business owners. It would be great if either of our political parties would emphasize that in a time of 9% unemployment.” Amen to that. (I did get to see Bridesmaids last weekend, btw. It lived up to the hype!)

Why the Rich Love High Unemployment

Mark Provost’s guest post at George Washington’s blog, outlining precisely why neither of our political parties is emphasizing full employment. (See also lambert at corrente… DISemployment: Letting the Rattner out of the bag.)

Judge strikes down corporate donations ban

The oligarchy racks up another win, just in time for 2012. As ThinkProgress noted yesterday:

Today’s decision extends beyond the egregious Citizen United decision because Citizens United only permits corporations to run their own ads supporting a candidate or otherwise act independently of a candidate’s campaign. Cacheris’ opinion would also allow the Chamber of Commerce and Koch Industries, for instance, to contribute directly to political campaigns.

Chernobyl Times Ten: Fukushima and the Radioactive Sea

Via Counterpunch. Highly depressing but important read from Harvey Wasserman:

“When it comes to the oceans, says Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceonographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, “the impact of Fukushima exceeds Chernobyl.”

The greatest living surrealist has left the planet“…RIP Leonora Carrington (1917-2011)

I enjoyed this brief but thoughtful blog post on Leonora Carrington’s passing, and the LA Times blog posted two neat photos–one of a bronze sculpture by Carrington exhibited along Mexico City’s Avenue Reforma in 2008, and another of Carrington celebrating her ninety-fourth birthday earlier this year. Also from an essay last year by art historian Alan Foljambe:

Rather than rebelling in a violent way against those who would control her, Carrington creates a parallel reality in her paintings in which, represented by animals and female deities, she is in a position of strength where she is not in danger of being used as a vehicle for the schemes or motives of someone else. Rather than confronting reality and attempting to overcome it, Carrington retreats from the struggle and creates another reality in which she feels more at home.

The gendered expressions of mental illness and violence

This is a topic that I think relates back to much of the dynamics underlying gender politics. Teaser from Historiann’s commentary:

There are of course seriously mentally ill women who suffer from similar paranoid delusions and fixate on individuals the way the Tucson gunman did. For example, a story in this week’s The New Yorker by Rachel Aviv (sorry–subscription wall) offers a nuanced, tragic description of the progress of mental illness in a woman whose disease sounds quite similar to Loughner’s. Yet, she didn’t pick up guns and kill a crowd of people. Instead, she retreated into a New Hampshire farmhouse and slowly starved to death.

James Carville: Obama is looking like a 2008 Republican

In 1992, Bill Clinton famously proclaimed himself to be an Eisenhower Republican. By that measure, I’d say President Obama is a pre-2008 John McCain Republican.

But this much is sure: The policies of the eventual Republican nominee, that is, anybody left running for it by the time of the vote, will be right in line with those of Sarah Palin. It’s pretty remarkable that the next election is going to boil down to a competition between the 2008 Republican presidential candidate and his vice presidential nominee.

It’s not that Obama is a socialist born somewhere other than Hawaii, or that he possesses a Kenyan anti-colonial mentality — but that some Republican needs to stand up and say, with some legitimacy, that Obama is taking all of the GOP’s ideas.

Well, there you have it. NOTA 2012.

How Cornel West Did the Obamites a Favor

BAR’s Glen Ford hits it out of the park once again. Excellent analysis of the situation. I myself have always preferred to focus more on Obama-the-politician and leave Obama-the-man for his family and friends to concern themselves with.

Hillaryland

  • Dipnote: Welcome to Shelbyville (Welcome to Shelbyville airs this week on PBS; check your local listings. It’s also being streamed for free through May 31st on PBS’s website.)

Just a quick geek link before I wrap up…NYT: Evidence of Water Beneath Moon’s Stony Face

…throwing a wrench into the Giant Impact hypothesis.

This Day in History (May 28)

Pioneering woman scholar Abby Leach was born in 1855:

In the 1870s, there were many more opportunities for women in education than there had been a decade earlier–Vassar, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley had been all been founded by 1878. Still, the major men’s colleges of the day entertained no thoughts of educating women. Harvard held annual entrance examinations for women in New York City, but they only told the women who took them whether they would have gotten into Harvard were they men. Abigail Leach changed all that, however, when she arrived on the doorstep of three Harvard professors—William W. Goodwin, James B. Greenough, and Francis J. Child—in 1878 and asked them to instruct her in Latin and Greek. The men were so impressed by her courage and persistence that they agreed. Soon they would be impressed by her intellect as well.

Also see Abby Leach vs. Grace Harriet Macurdy.

What’s on your blogging list today?

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

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Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Women’s Rights, America’s Infrastructure, and Hillary’s Red Coat

Morning, news junkies…so are you ready for the gazillionth end of the world or what? I have to say, even after reading the FAQ at that link, I’m still a little unclear on the rules here in Texas. Do pregnant women have to get a sonogram before they can get raptured?

This Day in History (May 21)

  • The painting to the right is by New Deal/WPA-era artist Jerry Bywaters. Bywaters was born on this day in 1906, in Paris, TX, and died in 1989. Via the Blanton, at the Univ. of Texas:

In Oil Field Girls, Bywaters used a somber palette to describe the bleak and thinly populated west Texas landscape. With its economically depressed vistas, the town (if it can be called that) is clearly godforsaken. By contrast, the women poised to hitch a ride out of those sad environs are vivid and forceful; although they are most likely working as prostitutes, Bywaters made no apparent judgment of them, instead vesting them with a vitality, even ambition, that offers the picture’s only hope. A canny mixture of reportage and editorial commentary, Oil Field Girls is a history painting that captures a surprisingly humane narrative of a specific time and place.

I chose Oil Field Girls for the spotlight this Saturday because it reflects my mood lately, especially here in Texas. As I look at it, I’m visualizing all of us brazen little hussies at the grassroots hitching a ride out of our politically regressive environs. Something’s gotta give. The headlines, which I’ll get to in a moment, are that dreary.

First, a quick tidbit from Francine Carraro’s Jerry Bywaters: a life in art…

For Bywaters the major contribution of the New Deal art project was the nationwide advancement of art and the decentralization of the art world. The golden age of American art could come for Bywaters only with the developing of “original art of the provinces . . . [rather] than provincial imitations of New York or European art.”

If your interest is piqued by any of the above, you might enjoy a virtual mini-tour of Bywaters’ WPA murals housed in the Paris public library, via someone who was kind enough to put them up on flickr. I especially recommend Paris Fire of 1916 and Rebuilding for the story they tell. Note the young boy at the lower right corner on the first. Bywaters was ten years old at the time of the Paris fire.

And, now for the week-in-review…

Women’s Rights: Texas

I’m going to focus on a bit of what’s been going on in my state. I hope some of you chime in with what’s going on in yours.

The forced sonogram has already gotten ink, so I’m going to try to draw out some of the other angles of abortion politics in the Lone Star state. This item is from the Austin American-Statesman the other day — Abortion fight derails women’s health initiative. If you haven’t been following this development, the article at the link gives a good overview of the dynamics at play.

Also see the Houston Chronicle — Texas House approves key Medicaid funding overhaul:

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas House voted late Thursday to strip state funding to all hospitals and clinics that perform abortions or even “abortion-related services,” endorsing an obscure amendment tacked onto an already convoluted overhaul of Medicaid funding and disbursements.

It’s despicable enough that, in a state where one in four people are uninsured no less, Rick Perry and his American Taliban flank have fast-tracked their anti-abortion agenda as an emergency legislative priority to “save lives” and this week made forced sonograms and Choose Life propaganda license plate options the law of the land in Texas while sending us on our way to stripping all state-funding from hospitals that provide abortion and abortion-related services. On top of that they’re jeopardizing the healthcare of thousands of low-income mothers and daughters. If the Women’s Health Program is not renewed, not only will it cut access to contraceptives but to screening for cancer, diabetes, blood pressure, anemia, and STDs. Unconscionable.

The control freaks can’t stand that 46% of women who access the program do it through Planned Parenthood, so women’s health be damned. State officials say the Women’s Health Program saved the state $21.4 million in 2008 by cutting back the number of births financed by Medicaid, but the state budget and taxpayer be damned too. Neither fiscally sound nor morally acceptable…but there they are, the Republican “family values” on display.

We already saw how PP’s lawsuit in Indiana went nowhere, but for what it’s worth this is what Planned Parenthood –Gulf Coast has to say:

Planned Parenthood will never back down from providing Texas women affordable reproductive health care. We have delivered a letter to Senator Deuell clarifying that if his bill passes the Senate, Planned Parenthood will pursue litigation on behalf of low-income Texas women who choose Planned Parenthood health centers for their health care.

We need your help. Please call your State Senator today and tell them to vote NO on SB 1854.

This is a freaking mess here in the “Don’t Mess with…” state. Meanwhile, the peanut gallery tried to “draft Rick Perry” again. Even Perry sorta yawned this time, with Perry adviser Dave Carney laying it on extra thick and saying Guv Goodhair “doesn’t have the fire to be president. Well, he sure does have the the fire to gut women’s health and health coverage in general apparently.

A few more notes out of Texas…

  • Check out this wild little extended metaphor/thought experiment from E.R. Bills in Fort Worth, via Dissident Voice — We Have Bigger Abbortive Problems Than Abortion. That’s all you’re going to get in the way of a teaser. If I excerpted, it would ruin the fun.

Maryland abortion provider under attack

Just a quick link on this, but it’s important. The American Independent has the scoop on “Summer of Mercy 2.0” — Radical anti-choice group targeting new abortion provider, previously went after George Tiller.

American Dystopia: News and Views

I’ve got a lot to cover so I’m not going to quote extensively from BAR this weekend, but I do want to point you to Bruce A. Dixon’s report this week, which echoes what I have long maintained about Obama being more of a “Don’t make ME do it” president than a “Make me do it” one like FDR.

Speaking of things Obama doesn’t want any of us to make him do too much about… Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters on America’s Crumbling Infrastructure:

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has been trying to raise the alert, filming short TV commercials in front of such monuments to government efficiency as the Hoover Dam. Individuals, corporations, cities and states do not build such things, she rightly notes; only nations can do it.

For 30 years, the United States has defied the need to repair and upgrade its infrastructure, spending the money on war, on defense, on entitlements — everything but making sure the roof wouldn’t leak. Leaks are appearing.

Of course if the oligarchy can keep the populace regularly fed on urban myths and religious claptrap about how we are all going to be buried under earthquake rubble or some other such hocus pocus within a matter of hours, I suppose they think we won’t disturb our beautiful minds too much over such leaks increasingly appearing in our infrastructure.

McFeatters references the 2011 Infrastructure report from the Urban Land Institute which warns that we will reach a breaking point in 5-10 years.

She ends her editorial with the grim picture of where we are headed:

If we do not act, which looks likely because of the determination in Washington to cut spending — Congress consistently refuses to pass a surface transportation planning act, this is what will happen:

Americans will spend an ever-greater portion of their incomes on services such as tap water, some of which will be undrinkable. There will be new tolls on highway driving and bridges and existing tolls will dramatically increase. Gasoline prices will soar, pushed by higher federal gas taxes.

Some cash-strapped cities will simply stop providing basic services, letting private companies take them over. Road maintenance in rural areas will become problematic. Bridges will collapse and not be rebuilt.

The badly needed new national electric grid to save energy will not be developed. A state-of-the-art satellite air traffic control system will not be built.

In 30 years, there will be almost 100 million more people living in the United States, but the infrastructure will not support 400 million Americans.

The really sad and disturbing part for me is that this seems like the oligarchy’s plan. An entire generation will be left behind so that no profit will.

Next up, a must-read essay in the American Chronicle by Gary Ater — ARE WE TODAY FAILING THE EFFORTS OF OUR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS? Ater goes through the New Deal Alphabet Soup listing several projects that would have never been built without these government agencies and calling it “one of the greatest infrastructure legacies of anything that could ever have been passed on to its inheritors,” and then asks:

But how are we inheritors treating that legacy today?

Well, as an example, due to a lack of maintenance, thousands of our nation´s bridges, built by our parents and grandparents decades ago, are in the position today to replicate the 2007 collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge in Minnesota. That bridge was listed as being in serious trouble, but it was still allowed to carry 140,000 cars every day until the day it collapsed. This situation could easily be replicated across the country with other federal buildings, hydroelectric dams, coal burning and nuclear power plants, schools, hospitals, libraries, airports, rail stations, levees, canals, tunnels and roads and highways. At any time, any of these old 1930 to 1960 structures, roads, bridges or past projects could go the way of Minnesota´s I-35 bridge.

And as it was in the 1930´s, the conservatives are once again saying, “America cannot afford to spend tax-payers revenue on its critical infrastructure situation”.

I say, as it was back then, in today´s down economy, we can´t afford NOT to invest in American workers and their ability to restore, or build new, all that we have inherited over the past decades.

Ater goes on to say that we need to replace everyone who doesn’t want to rebuild America with everyone who does. Unfortunately, at the end of a piece that was otherwise astute, he seems to suggest that we can do that by making a choice between Republicans and Democrats in 2012. I’d argue that the American people already made that choice in 2008 and look where it got us. It’s not as simple as who we pick on election day.

For a contrast, and since the wingnuts will just reflexively and mindlessly yell “socialist!” at anyone not in their tribe anyway, I would like to take a look at what actual socialists are saying and put it out there for discussion. This is a recent opinion piece in the WSWS by the SEP’s National Secretary Joseph Kishore — The social counterrevolution in America and the tasks of the working class:

The general strikes in Toledo, San Francisco and Minneapolis in 1934, followed by the great sit-down strikes in Michigan in 1936 and 1937, propelled the reforms of the New Deal, including Social Security, and the gains of manufacturing workers throughout the country. Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s were the byproduct of the mass mobilization of workers in the civil rights movement, combined with the militant labor struggles of the post-war period.

For the last 40 years, these gains have been under persistent attack. Vast sums of wealth were transferred upwards, into the hands of the financial and corporate elite, fueling the stock market mania of the 1990s and 2000s.

Now under the Obama administration, this scorched earth policy is entering a new phase. The first step was taken last year under the guise of “health care reform,” a drive to reduce corporate and government spending under the fraudulent slogan of “universal coverage.” Now, there is little attempt to hide the fact that what the administration is seeking is a sharp reduction in access to health care and other social programs.

This assault takes place at the same time as the sums of money controlled by the wealthy reach record highs. Corporate profits in the first quarter of this year are expected to break the record set the previous quarter of $1.68 trillion at an annualized rate. CEO pay for 2010 exceeded the previous record levels set prior to the crash. The combined net wealth of just the 400 richest Americans is, at last count, $1.37 trillion—approximately the same amount that would be saved over an entire decade through cuts in Medicaid that will threaten the lives and health of millions of people.

Another view from the WSWS (which picks up where Dakinikat’s Who are they protecting…? expose left off last weekend) — Victims of Mississippi flood must be made whole:

The Obama administration has allocated only a minimal amount in grants for temporary housing and other emergency needs. It is urging those affected—most of whom have no flood insurance or means of rebuilding—to apply for federal disaster and other government loans. In addition to having to pay interest, those who qualify for federal disaster loans are compelled to buy flood insurance to qualify for future assistance.

Like the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina, the Obama administration has shown callousness and indifference to the plight of the workers and poor families hit by the latest disaster.

The diversion of floodwaters helps ExxonMobil and other big oil companies operating refineries along the Mississippi River, but the administration has never raised that these corporations—rolling in cash from skyrocketing gas prices—should in any way help compensate those being flooded out of their homes and farms.

I don’t want to end on such a miserable note, so let’s turn to our Energizer Secretary.

Hillaryland

As Obama pointed out this week, Hillary is approaching her one million frequent flier mark. In honor of Hill’s globetrotting, here’s my choice for pic of the month… Hillary wheeling down in Greenland on May 12th, in a cheerful red coat:

A couple more Hillary items from this week, briefly:

On Hillary’s agenda next week: London and Paris…

Mr Toner said Ms Clinton will also deliver keynote remarks in support of the launch of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education.

The Global Partnership will bring together companies, non-governmental organisations, and governments to develop innovative programmes to deliver education to women and girls, he said.

Well, now we’re full circle from where I started at the beginning of this post…as Bill Clinton (no doubt influenced by Hillary) said in an interview to Slate’s DoubleX a couple years ago, putting all the girls in the world in school is the only proven stragety to slowing the birthrate (hence less abortions) and raising per capita income.

Sheros on the Screen

A few super quick links to wrap things up:

  • RH Reality Check on why Bridesmaids is striking a chord. Obviously portraying women as human beings is a good start, if in fact that’s what Bridesmaids does. I still would like to judge for myself. I’ll probably go see it this weekend or next.
  • Anyone else following Top Chef Masters right now think they’re dropping the anvils all over the place about a woman actually winning this season? I’m thinking it will come down to Naomi and Traci.

The End! What’s on your blogging list?

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Self-governance

Anthony and Stanton

Morning, news (& history!) junkies.

My weekend roundup is going to be more heavy on history this Saturday (though there will be news sprinkled in too), because “what is past is prologue,” and that applies very much to the present-day rollback of women’s fundamental rights to govern themselves.

On This Day in History (May 14)

In 1863, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton suspended work on women’s suffrage to form the Women’s National Loyal League, which held its first convention on May 14, 1863, at the Church of the Puritans, NYNY. I’ll let you decide how much of a history lesson you want on a Saturday morning–if yes, click over and view the leaflet calling for a meeting of “loyal women of the nation” to discuss the Civil war, along with a transcription of a letter on the second leaf, from Susan B. Anthony to Amy Post. But, I do want to highlight one particular excerpt from what Anthony said at the convention:

SUSAN B. ANTHONY: This resolution brings in no question, no ism. It merely makes the assertion that in a true democracy, in a genuine republic, every citizen who lives under, the government must have the right of representation. You remember the maxim, ” Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This is the fundamental principle of democracy; and before our Government can be a true democracy- before our republic can be placed upon lasting and enduring foundations -the civil and political rights of every citizen must, be practically established. This is the assertion of the resolution. It Is a philosophical statement. It is Dot because women suffer, it is Dot because slaves suffer, it is not because of any individual rights or wrongs it is the simple assertion of the great fundamental truth of democracy that was proclaimed by our Revolutionary fathers. I hope the discussion will no longer be continued as to the comparative rights or wrongs of one class or another. The question before us is: Is it possible that peace and union shall be established in this country ; is it possible for this Government to be a true democracy, a genuine republic, while one-sixth or one-half of the people are disfranchised?

Conservative women’s groups have tried to subvert feminism and reappropriate this feminist pioneer as one of their own in their crusade against the autonomy, privacy, and equity of all women, but Susan B. Anthony shared a mutual admiration with the socialist movement and was a suffragist, abolitionist, and practitioner of civil disobedience for which she was brought to trial. As evidenced in the passage above, what drove her tireless championing of civil rights for both women and blacks was a core belief in the inalienable right to self-governance.

Last Year…This Year

A year ago today, Sarah Palin gave her address to the conservative and so-called “Susan B. Anthony List,” and a week later, history of women historians Ann Gordon and Lynn Sherr debunked the “feminists for life” mythology that Susan B. Anthony was a pro-life activist. Naturally this didn’t convince the FFL and SBA-List crowd any more than Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate convinced Orly ” it says African, not Negro” Taitz.

This is a screenshot I took of the SBA-List homepage on Thursday morning of this week:

Here is an FFL news bulletin from February 2011 that shows you what they were up to on SBA’s birthday and throughout Women’s History Month in March:

New Campaign Beginning on Susan B. Anthony’s Birthday

February 2011

To make holistic, woman-centered solutions a reality and effect lasting change, Feminists for Life members need information and tools. To effectively advocate for women and systematically eliminate the root causes that drive women to abortion, Feminists for Life needs members.

On Susan B. Anthony’s birthday, February 15th, Feminists for Life will launch a new campaign lasting through the end of Women’s History Month in March. Together we will celebrate our rich feminist history and reach out to educate others, encouraging them to join us in creating practical resources and support for pregnant women and parents.

Well, “practical resources and support for pregnant women and parents” sounds great and all, but if one of your sister groups has given top priority to defunding Planned Parenthood in Susan B. Anthony’s name and your Grizzly-go-tos are going to make vacuous remarks like “Hells no. I would not vote to increase that debt ceiling,” that really shows, on so many levels, how fake this call for practical resources for women is. If you want to defund planned parenthood and cut public spending on everything but the neverending war machine, then you’re not interested in helping anyone…other than the oligarchy, that is.

As I said last summer: Sarah Palin is neither the problem, nor the solution.

At the time I asked people to consider that tearing Palin down by calling her a bimbostein (etc. etc.) will do nothing to make the war on women stop.

Yes, she’s complicit in that war and as Madeleine Albright once said, there’s a place in hell reserved for that kind of thing. However, Palin is not in power. She has a megaphone she uses irresponsibly, but in a town where Barack Obama and Paul Ryan are declared to be the smartest suits amongst a sea of suits, the war on women was going to happen with or without the help of Palin, Bachmann, et al.

They’ve got less control combined than Barack Obama, who lest anyone forget signed an executive order that segregated women’s health care. It wasn’t a Speaker Palin who brought Stupak to a vote.

It was Speaker Pelosi… who Obama hung out to dry in 2010.

Women hold less than 20% of elected representation and make up 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs. At the rate we’re going, it will take 500 years for American women to achieve gender parity.

With or without Pelosi, Palin, and any other woman who sells the rest of her sisters out in politics, the rightwing rollback of women’s rights would be happening.

It is baffling watch them sell us out. Especially when they propagate garbage like the following…

From Diana Furchtgott-Roth’s How Obama’s Gender Policies Undermine America:

In other words, contrary to what feminist lobbyists would have Congress believe, girls and women are doing well. […] Policymakers should require that government contractors hire men to bring down their 10 percent unemployment rate. Health reform bills should feature Offices of Men’s Health to help men live to the same age as women. Unfortunately, the reverse is occurring. Both Congress and President Obama continue to advocate policies that favor women over men.

Dakinikat gave an apt description of Furchtgott the other day in the comments at Sky Dancing: “Schlafly as an economist.”

I’ll let a recent survey and Ms. Foundation’s Anika Rahman take care of responding to Diana Fuhgettaboutwomen’s thesis… New Poll: Economic Crisis Still Affects Majority of Americans, Impact on Women Especially Severe (via Reuters)…

The 2011 Community Voices for the Economy survey of 1,515 adults nationwide was conducted from March 15-24, 2011. It revisited key questions from a January 2010 survey.

“Last year Americans, and especially women, said they were profoundly affected by the recession,” says Anika Rahman, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. “This year, the impact continues virtually unabated, and in some cases is far worse, especially for low-income women and women of color. The so-called economic recovery is not reaching women or others in need — not by a long stretch.”

In a key indicator of economic security, the percentage of Americans who report living paycheck to paycheck all or most of the time was up five points over 2010 to 49 percent. But the increase among low-income women is especially staggering: 77 percent report living paycheck to paycheck, a 17-point jump from last year.

More highlights (or rather lowlights) on how women, men, and families are struggling in this economy:

* Seventy-one percent of women and 65 percent of men say the economic downturn had some or a great deal of impact on their families.
* Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) remain concerned that they or someone in their household could be out of a job in the next 12 months.
* Low-income women continue to feel the greatest impact from the downturn, with 80 percent saying it has had some or a great deal of impact compared with 73 percent of low-income men. Other groups experiencing a particularly strong impact are: Latinas (74 percent); single mothers (73 percent); and women without a college degree (74 percent).

Rahman describes the “triple blow” of the womancession:

Women are losing jobs faster than men because of drastic cuts in areas like education and health care where they make up the majority of the workforce. As the majority of state and local public-sector workers, women are affected most by attacks on public-sector unions. And women suffer most from cuts to social services because they’re more likely to be poor and care for children and the elderly.”

That’s not all the 2011 Community Voices polling uncovered. Most women and most Americans aren’t sounding like they would say “hells no” to raising the debt ceiling:

In a particularly notable finding, the survey revealed that women — and a robust majority of the American public — want the government to take a stronger role in fixing the economy and creating jobs, even if it means increasing the deficit in the short-term. In fact, a significant majority of Americans are concerned that deficit cuts will come at the expense of families and children.

Until we have equal representation in government, until we have more Anika Rahmans and Liz Warrens shaping the economic debate, until we have more women’s voices invited to the Sunday morning panels, what we need to be focusing the bulk of our energies on is not Furchtgott and her ilk. They deserve pushabck in due measure, but the war on women didn’t begin with them and it won’t end with them.

What we need to be doing to fight back the war on women is shoring up women who make good in politics — women like Kirsten Gillibrand.

From Robin Marty, via Care2.com… Gillibrand: Childcare IS a Jobs Agenda

“Childcare is part of a jobs agenda,” Gillibrand said in the live chat, hosted by the women’s political organization committed to supporting pro-choice candidates, voicing her frustration at a expense that has become a significant burden to numerous families with both parents in the workforce.

As a result of the rising cost of childcare, Gillibrand is proposing legislation that will help to reduce the ballooning cost of care. “In this difficult economy, parents cannot afford the rising cost of child care. Families’ incomes are just not keeping pace,” Senator Gillibrand said. “I speak with parents all over New York State, who tell me that something must be done. In addition to making child care more affordable for parents who work and go to school, my plan will provide special assistance to businesses that help their employees with the tremendous costs.”

Gillibrand’s proposal includes increasing the Dependent and Child Care tax credit to $6000, giving larger tax breaks to businesses that offer on site child care services, getting more workers into the child care industry and encouraging businesses to allow more telecommuting — a proposal that wouldn’t just cut the amount of money needed to be spent on childcare, but would also reduce road congestion, fuel consumption, and business expenditures for keeping employees in an office.

If the Susan B. Anthony List and Feminists for Life actually cared so much about mothers and children, they’d be working on a childcare agenda, instead of trying to police pregnancy.

The Kirsten Gillibrands are our way to play offense in this war on women. They capitalize on where the rightwing is weak–which is basically on everything since their solution to everything is no government–and they fight back by offering an actual alternative, showing how government *can* work for women, men, and families. That’s an alternative that most Americans want.

Here’s what else Gillibrand is doing–fighting for Kathy Hochul in NY-26, where Rove is spending big money trying to prevent an upset by a Demcoratic woman in a district where Dems never win. Two women fighting like…Democrats!

Go, Kathy, Go!

Kirsten Gillibrand for President!

Puts to shame this from earlier in the week, which is pretty much the byline of 44 and his male-dominated Congress:

It’s unclear for now how much resistance Democratic lawmakers will put up to the Republican proposal.

BTW, take a look at what ThinkProgress has reported on one of Kathy Hochul’s opponents. Via ThinkProgress… Jane Corwin Voted To Allow Women To Be Shackled During Childbirth.

Like Madeleine said. Place in hell. It’s reserved.

Let’s return to inspiring women in politics…Mayor Lake Lady with her first “Post Card from the Edge of Municipal Governing.”

It’s an exciting read and look from the inside of government. Give it a look if you haven’t already.

Hillaryland

A few quick links on that other woman who’s been making good in politics for two decades now… h/t Stacy at SecyClintonBlog on the first two.

Slideshow (49 pics): Hillary wining and dining in Italy

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dines at Pierluigi restaurant in Rome with Tony Blinken and other colleagues. Hillary seems in good spirits, drinking wine and chatting with her team as they dined alfresco. The Secretary of State is in Italy to discuss Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s frozen assets and reportedly release the money to aid Libyans caught in the country’s conflict.
(May 6, 2011 – Photo by PacificCoastNews.com)

Youtube: raw footage of Hillary attracting a crowd–as she often does on her travels–this time on an unannounced visit she made to a shopping district while she was in Italy (2 minutes).

Reminded me instantly of this youtube of her from October 2009, in the streets of Dublin (1 minute)

“A woman who triggered a revolution in women’s health care”

I’ll close with this series of tribute to Barbara Seaman from On The Issues magazine:

Seaman lived in New York City near her three children and four grandchildren. “I didn’t start out to be a muckraker,” Seaman once said. “My goal was simply to try and give women plain facts that would help them to make their own decisions, so they wouldn’t have to rely on authority figures.

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

Saturday: Wonk’s Big Easy Reads

Morning, news junkies.

I’m going to start this Saturday with my history pick first:

La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans) was founded May 7, 1718, by the French Mississippi Company, under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, on land inhabited by the Chitimacha.


Click thumbnails for HQ views at pompo.com. Photography by Alfonso Bresciani.

I know we’ve had the perfunctory “Gulf oil spill: one year later” press coverage over the last few weeks, but since today marks the anniversary of New Orleans’ founding, I thought it would be prudent to take time out to dig deeper and get beyond the soundbytes. So this Saturday’s link dump is going to focus exclusively on the Gulf.

So how are NOLA and the Gulf Coast really doing?

Vanity Fair has posted a web exclusive from New Orleans-based photographer and CBS-affiliate videographer Jackson Fager, documenting the faces of shrimpers, fisherman, and oysterman along LA’s coastline, many of whom had their livelihoods snatched from them when the oil spill struck. Please check out Fager’s observations, thoughts, and photos. Here are the faces of the two women included in his slideshow (click for HQ and descriptions at the VF site):

Next up, from an interview (posted April 27th) with an environmental justice organizer with the Sierra Club:

BETWEEN THE LINES: And the Vessels of Opportunity, that was what BP set up to hire local fisher folks to clean up the spill, right?

DARRYL MALEK-WILEY: Right, that was funded by BP to hire people to go out and do clean-up work. A number of problems with that…No. 1, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network actually purchased safety gear and gave it to a number of fishermen to wear — respirators and things like that — because the environmental community knew about the dangers of the health impacts. And BP basically told fishermen and Vessels of Opportunity that if they wore the protective gear, they would no longer be working for BP.

In the interview, Malek-Wiley discusses a new organization called GO FISH (Gulf-Organized Fisheries in Solidarity and Hope), which is mobilizing fishermen and their families all the way from Alabama to Texas to fight for fair compensation from BP. Here’s what Malek-Wiley says these fishermen on the frontlines have to say about the official government spin that the oil has mostly disappeared:

DARRYL MALEK-WILEY: Yeah, what they say is that the oil is still here. We see it daily…tar balls are washing up all along the Gulf Coast. Just the way the winds blow…in the wintertime, the wind blows offshore so it’s blowing out into the Gulf; in the summertime we start getting southern winds blowing stuff back on shore. So we’re starting seeing tar balls come in; some of the oil come in. Because all the dispersant did was put it on the bottom of the Gulf, and so we’re starting to see some of that oil and dispersant coming back up and impacting a number of different coastal areas.

And, on dispersant:

DARRYL MALEK-WILEY: There is still a wide range of opinion. You know, the environmental community and fishermen basically agree that the use of dispersants without the needed scientific data on the long-term impacts of the stuff was not a smart thing. One point eight million gallons of dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico — nobody’s ever put that amount of dispersant anywhere in the world, so we don’t know what the impact of that is going to be. Some of the people who are sick, they’re taking samples of their blood and they’re finding the chemicals that make up the dispersants in their blood, as well as Louisiana sweet crude, and having serious health impacts.

Check out the rest of the interview to read more about those serious health impacts. It’s rather alarming, especially when you consider we’re talking about a population that has been out of work and lost their health insurance.

Dispersants: Questions remain

Last week the FDA declared seafood safe in Barataria, the coastal area hardest hit by the BP oil spill. The Miami Herald/AP article at the link says that means 99% of LA’s waters are open for fishing. The only meat I eat is seafood, and down along the Gulf we’ve gotten repeated “assurances” that our food supply isn’t tainted, but even all the way here in Houston a local chef who serves seafood still has unresolved concerns about dispersants:

“The thing that scares me the most about the oil situation is the dispersants, and from everybody that I talked to — from scientists to fisherman that’s the one thing that sit there and they hold onto,” he said.

Government scientists say their tests show no trace of any oil or dispersant in any seafood. They say the dispersant breaks down faster than oil in the water. NOAA says dispersant is simply not a concern, and for now, Caswell says he believes them.

“I eat it,” he said.

I eat it too, though I have cut back and still find myself wondering whether our public and private institutions are leveling with us on just how much they don’t know about the long-term impact of having these chemicals in our ecosystem and food supply and how far the reach of these effects might be. How many people have to get sick before they’ll admit anything?

Take for example this report out of Raceland, LA on fisherman Brandon Cassanova, who has mysteriously fallen ill, possibly due to exposure to dispersants. For months, Cassanova has been experiencing seizures, abdominal pain, memory loss, racing heartbeat, and elevated blood sugar, and his symptoms appear to be getting more acute. His lifelong primary-care physician, Dr. Mike Robichaux, believes Cassanova’s illness matches a “bizarre cluster” of symptoms experienced by people who say they have been exposed to dispersants and other toxins related to the oil spill. Robichaux, a former state senator and longtime advocate for locals exposed to pollutants, has written to Sen. Landrieu and others demanding the government for answers. He isn’t buying the line that the Gulf seafood is safe to eat, either.

While formal data collection by the LA Dept. of Health & Hospitals and long-term NIEHS research are underway, the task of proving causality between exposure and symptoms remains a hurdle. According to Tulane’s Dr. Luann White, most of the cases being reported are of a short-term and mild nature and dilution by the Gulf waters makes detecting chemicals and pathway of exposure to the public difficult. Anecdotally, however, Lafayette-based toxicologist Wilma Subra–who researched the chemistry of dispersants and came up with a list of possible effects–says she’s seen 600-700 people exhibiting this cluster of symptoms after being exposed to dispersants and crude, and that each of these cases seems to know of yet others going through the same thing.

A Thought Experiment on the Gulf Coast

This next one is interesting food for thought. Via geekosystem: What if the Gulf Oil Spill Never Happened? It’s a 2-minute animation clip by Chris Harmon, entitled Oil’d…please give it a look if you haven’t seen it yet:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Gulf Coast Oil Spill and Climate Change

I want to touch on the impact of the spill in terms of the broader environmental challenges for the Gulf…it seems like disaster capitalism struck this region and went into overdrive right at the time when it was most vulnerable and needed improvements in infrastructure and conservationist attention more than ever. Funny timing, that.

Over at Greenanswers.com, Chelsea Cooley paints a bleak picture with this headline… Last Days of Louisiana’s Bayous:

The 2010 BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico harmed Louisiana’s coastal eco-system in some obvious ways and in many other ways yet undiscovered. One unsettling truth is that the diminishing state of the wetlands actually aided the widespread effects of the oil spill, as the wetlands might otherwise have provided a protective barrier, preventing oil seepage into the bayous’ central regions. Barataria Bay, for example, a popular nesting ground for Louisiana’s pelicans, was one of the areas most polluted by the spill. The crisis compounded problems faced by an already delicate ecosystem.

However, the wetlands are also suffering due to a dramatic rise in sea-level associated with Global Warming. According to one professor of earth science from Tulane University, the sea-level rise in the Gulf Coast is occurring at a rate five times faster than it did in the 1000 years preceding the Industrial Revolution. The implications of human activity are on the table for all to see.

Also take a look at this SciAm/Reuters headline the other day that Dakinikat passed along to me… Seas Could Rise Up to 1.6 meters by 2100:

OSLO (Reuters) – Quickening climate change in the Arctic including a thaw of Greenland’s ice could raise world sea levels by up to 1.6 meters by 2100, an international report showed on Tuesday.

Such a rise — above most past scientific estimates — would add to threats to coasts from Bangladesh to Florida, low-lying Pacific islands and cities from London to Shanghai. It would also, for instance, raise costs of building tsunami barriers in Japan.

“The past six years (until 2010) have been the warmest period ever recorded in the Arctic,” according to the Oslo-based Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), which is backed by the eight-nation Arctic Council.

And, this piece at Huffpo brings it altogether. Pre-Spill, Coastal Threats Cannot Be Ignored, Environmentalists Say…It’s breathtaking to read the entire piece and the extent of the challenges the Gulf region is up against. I’m just going to quote a few snippets:

Dr. Virginia Burkett, senior science advisor for Climate and Land Use Change at the U.S. Geological Survey, said the spill contributed to Louisiana’s wetlands loss, which was already well underway because of multiple stressors. And, she said, a year after BP’s rig explosion, cumulative effects of climate change and the spill are still poorly understood. Climate change itself, however, has been well studied.

[…]

Louisiana is in the grip of global, environmental change. “Temperatures and ocean waters are rising because of increased greenhouse or heat-trapping gases, like carbon monoxide, in the atmosphere,” Burkett said. “Glacial mass and annual snowcover are declining more rapidly than many scientists had predicted.” Ocean temperatures and acidity are increasing, and rainfall volume has grown. But spacing between rain events has expanded so droughts are more frequent in some regions of the world, she said. And in several ocean basins around the globe, hurricanes have become more intense.

As much as our government tries to pretend like the oil that gushed out into the Gulf last year just disappeared, they cannot wipe away the consequences of the larger pattern of environmental destruction that the BP oil spill has contributed to in the area. The spill last year wasn’t the first domino to fall, and it won’t be the last:

Burkett said events that hastened coastal erosion in recent decades won’t be the last.”When I was a child, Hurricane Camille was the big benchmark event, then it was Katrina.” And in the current decade, the Gulf oil spill is the gorilla.

What can we do?

Burkett offers these suggestions:

“Barrier islands and wetlands can be restored for hurricane protection,” Burkett said. “River sediment can be used to build marsh, instead of letting sediment wash out to sea.” Preparations can be made for more intense drought and wildfires.

“Home owners and communities can elevate houses, and cities can adapt infrastructure to the rising sea. In some areas, however, retreat may be the most effective option.” Her parents, for example, moved inland when they lost their home in Biloxi, MS to Hurricane Katrina.

So how much ‘ruin there is left in a nation’ may very well depend on just how much ‘retreat’ there is in it.

And, our ability to retreat depends on us even knowing we’re in danger in the first place. We saw the failures to get people out in time during Katrina and the several weeks it took for the current Administration to really respond to the BP oil spill, but what about the mini-disasters that build up cumulative damage yet go virtually unnoticed, leaving people unaware of the true extent of the daily threat they’re up against and how unsustainable their living spaces are becoming. Wired.com had a really interesting read recently on what can be done to better track crude leaking into the Gulf using satellite imagery… Gulf Oil Shouldn’t Spill Beneath the Radar:

A year after the Deepwater Horizon blowout sent 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, smaller leaks still bubble across the Gulf — but unlike big spills, they’re largely ignored.

A nonprofit organization called SkyTruth, which uses public and commercial satellite imagery to assess environmental damage, recently added airplanes and ships to its Gulf monitoring. But the group can still investigate just a tiny fraction of spills and leaks that may be reported, underreported or not reported at all by oil companies.

SkyTruth founder John Amos, a geologist and a former oil-company research scientist, thinks roughly $3 million per year could buy the necessary data and provide the first continuous, accurate assessment of Gulf oil pollution.

“The oil industry has done a great job convincing the public that modern drilling pollution is nonexistent. But we’ve discovered wells damaged by hurricanes in 2005 that are still leaking,” said Amos, who may have caught an oil company grossly under-reporting one of its leaks. “We have some tools available to do investigations, but in many cases it’s just not enough. For smaller spills, we need an up-close look from satellite imagery.”

On the proactive side of things, over here at Houston’s Reliant Center, the Offshore Technology Conference this past week has yielded some interesting results:

A possible tool for preventing oil spills like last year’s Gulf disaster arrived on the floor of Houston’s Reliant Center this week, courtesy of an auto industry refugee and a jackknife can opener.

The Latest Threat

As mentioned earlier, the BP oil spill isn’t the first or last threat the area is facing. Here’s the latest trouble, via the Daily Comet… Flood will deal blow to struggling oystermen.

Via the Sun Herald… Another slam for the Gulf:

GULFPORT — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway on Monday, sending a flood of fresh water through Lake Pontchartrain, through a strait and into the Gulf.

It’s something officials don’t do often, because of the effect it has on the marine life and the Mississippi Sound.

But the Mississippi River — already high at 1.6 million cubic feet per second flowing past Natchez — is expected to increase to 2.45 million cubic feet per second by May 22.

Knowing that volume is coming down the river, opening the Bonnet Carre is an attempt to divert some of it before it gets to New Orleans.

But scientists who study marine life in the Gulf cringe.

“It will change things, that’s for sure,” said Bill Hawkins, director of USM’s Gulf Coast Research Lab. But how much change depends on the volume and duration of the diversion.

Jay Alford has more — The Coming Waters (h/t Dakinikat):

There’s more water on the upper Mississippi River right now than any time in history, period, in any time in history,” said Garrett Graves, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. “This overwhelms the volume of water that was in the river in 1927, 1937, 1997, 2008. An extraordinary flow is coming down the river.”

That water levels are expected to be above crest for seven to 10 days doesn’t inspire much confidence. Graves said there are “vulnerabilities everywhere from the levees in Baton Rouge to the levees in south Louisiana.”

Final Thought

I’ll close with the WSJ’s review this Saturday, of Rowan Jacobsen’s Shadows on the Gulf: A Journey Through Our Last Great Wetland.

The headline says a lot in itself… A Gulf Requiem:

Click to view on Amazon.

“Most of the Gulf Coast has not been touched by the oil spill,” Mr. Jacobsen reports, “and is beautiful and vital as ever.”

Yet these early avowals of glass-half-fullism notwithstanding, it’s hard not to hear the mournful sounds of a pipe organ on nearly every page. And you have to wonder why all the people—oystermen, oilmen, shrimpers, tourists—are so grim-faced, as if shuffling past what appears to be a Gulf-sized casket.

It’s a true shame that we’d let an area that is one of our national treasures become a laboratory for climate change and disaster capitalism in this fashion. Take a good look, because what’s happening to the Southern Louisiana area and the rest of the Gulf is foreshadowing of the rest of our country’s future, if the interests of profit continue to be put before people, unabated, and people get pushed off further to the margins of the margins.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if our president would have responded to the death of OBL by using the new presidential force behind the bully pulpit to restore our attention to the Gulf Coast and all that has been neglected over the past decade… too bad any reminder of the Gulf and the struggles of ordinary people conflicts with the fierce urgency of Obama’s permanent campaign.

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

It’s Little Isis’s Birthday!

I turn twenty-one today. And yes, you should be scared.

The semester is almost over, so Tamerlane decided to interview me for this landmark day, and I was only drunk for part of it. The transcript:

“Twenty-One” Questions with Little Isis.

Tamerlane interviews little isis in honor of her twenty-first birthday, May 1.

tamerlane: Where does the name ‘littleisis” come from?

littleisis: After my matron Goddess, Isis. That and when I started blogging most girls my age were doing haul videos.

TAM:  Why ‘little’?

LI:  I’m younger than most bloggers.

TAM:  You describe yourself as a Wiccan.  What does that belief/practice entail?

lI: To be completely honest I’m a little too eclectic in my practice to be just a Wiccan, but it’s easier to identify myself that way. Most people don’t know what Wicca is, and that usually works to my benefit, because I don’t have to use the words “witch” or “witchcraft”.

Wiccan spells are for healing and transformation purposes — to bend and shape your environment in a positive way. The basic premises is to be a positive person, don’t maliciously harm living things (including people obviously), and that everything you do, both harmful and helpful, comes back to you times three. Karma, basically.

We celebrate life, honor the seasons and the cycles of the moon, and worship many Gods and Goddesses. For us, God is both male and female, and that was one of the big things that made Wicca so appealing to me. That, and as polytheists we generally don’t have any doctrine or dogma. We don’t evangelize because there’s no point. All Gods are one God.

TAM: Do you belong to a coven?

LI: I’m a solitary witch, because with my current family situation belonging to a coven would be inconvenient.

TAM: Have you ever had sex atop a satanic altar?  For that matter, have you ever had sex with Chrissie O’Donnell?

LI: Tam, don’t put our business in the streets! I know Chrissie broke up with you for me but that’s no reason put everything out there. And the Satanic Alter was ONE TIME.

TAM:  You also revere deities from other pantheons – Egyptian, Greco-Roman – how do they influence you?

LI: Isis and Osiris actually came to me in a fairly interesting way. When I first became a Pagan I got somewhat interested in Gnostic Christianity, because I wanted to reconcile the extreme Fundamentalist Religion I was raised with. Anyway, I felt a connection to the figure of Mary Magdalen and I read a lot of books about her. Her day is May 1st, my birthday.  We can only speculate as to who she actually was since there is a Mary every two pages in the Bible. But a lot of Biblical Scholars and Historians figure she was a Temple Priestess for the Goddess Isis. It’s actually interesting to know that strong women influenced Jesus’s teachings. But Isis ended up becoming my Matron Goddess. That’s just one example of a deity that I work with a lot and why.

TAM:  What level & forms of religiosity do you see in your generation?  How is it different from older generations?

LI: It varies. A lot of kids my age who are raised in religious households end up prodigals. I think monotheism is starting to become too incompatible with our current society to hold clout for much longer.  Statistically, Christianity is losing a lot more followers than it’s gaining. And other religions, like my own, are growing much more rapidly.

TAM: What’s your major?

LI:  Social Work with a minor in Theater and Dance.

TAM: Oh, you’re one of those people who want to be a millionaire by age 30!

LI: That would be nice, but I’m not all that focused on becoming rich, just comfortable.

TAM:  Well, what do you want to be when you grow up?

A social worker and an author, maybe I’ll go into public law. If I ever start my own non profit it will be for women with mental health problems and women who have been abused, and treatment will have a basis in alternative medicine. Big Pharma and I don’t have a good relationship.

TAM: What treatments you have in mind?

LI: My agency’s treatments would be Hollistic. If my patients really needed it or were in crisis they would be put on medication, but that wouldn’t be the only part of their treatment. We would focus on treating the whole person: mind, body and spirit. Here’s a good link that explains what Hollistic treatment for mental illness would entail.

Mental illness runs in my family, and it usually effects the women. (I’m happy to report that I’m still in posession of all my faculties!) I’ve found that with my mom, her medication makes her a zombie. There’s always a fashionable mental illness that they pin kids with too. In the nineties it was ADHD and lately Aspergers is a popular one. I just think there’s a problem when you’re putting kids on meth amphetamines when they’re six because they “are hyperactive and have trouble paying attention.” Are you serious? That’s because they’re KIDS! Studies show that kids put on Ritalin often have problems because of physiological issues and they’re likely to become cokeheads later, because basically Ritalin and cocaine are the same thing. That’s just wrong.

Pharmaceuticals are supposed to be used to temporarily relieve symptoms, they are not a cure. Also, the side effects cause other health problems and people have to be put on more drugs to fix that shit. Its all profit.

This is one of my biggest issues and I could go on about it forever.

TAM: You wrote recently about some suicides that took place at your high school, including a couple of your good friends.  How has this affected your outlook?  

LI: It affected me pretty profoundly. I started getting a lot more involved politically after they died. I just felt like maybe that wouldn’t have happened to them if things were different. Even now it still gets to me and I wonder what I could have done, but there’s no point in it so I don’t think about that much anymore.

TAM: Do you believe there is a suicide epidemic among young people?

LI: Yeah, there is a problem with suicide in people my age. I have been there myself, mostly when I was a lot younger. And I think if adults paid more attention and our society was a little different it might not be that way.

TAM: Why do you write?

LI: I’m good at it, and I like it and it makes me happy. I first started writing Harry Potter fanfiction when I was fourteen or so and things just evolved from there, but I rarely write fanfiction anymore.

TAM:  Fanfiction?  Like those stories where Kirk and Spock are gay lovers?  OMG — did you turn Harry Potter gay?

LI: No, he and Hermione had an illegitimate child with an attitude problem.

TAM: What else are you working on?

LI: I’m working on a novel, and I have Gods know how many articles for the school newspaper due later tonight.

TAM: Care to share about your novel?

LI: I guess so. I had a dream once about a half demon guy who was stuck in a Grimiore (spell book) and he was very special to me in the dream. I couldn’t pronounce his demon name so I just called him Scooter.  My novel is about a pastor’s daughter who has just recently suffered from some family trauma, and she renounces God in a town in Florida filled with Psychics, so the Grimoire comes to her and she and Scooter end up falling in love.

TAM: Sounds cool!  I bet Lifetime ‘d be interested in buying the rights.

TAM: You’ve been observing politics, and obama in particular, since you were 17.   How do young people feel about him right now?  

LI: None of my non-black friends like him anymore. Literally none of them. Just the other night my friend was talking about how she’d put a lot of faith in him and ended up feeling very disappointed. At one point in time I would have gloated, because in 2008 I felt like I was living in a twilight zone, because no one else saw through him. She’s a very perceptive person and he fooled her. He fooled a lot of my friends, and I hate that he built up their hopes for a better future and then squashed them.

TAM: Do you see yourself running for office some day?

LI: Maybe, but at this point in time and with my background, I couldn’t be elected city alderman. A lot of things would have to change in this country before I would ever want to do that.

TAM: So, what ‘skeletons’ would the Swiftboaters hit you with — that thing about you & Chrissie on the altar?

There are too many to name, College skeletons that don’t matter much, but I was mostly talking about my lifestyle. And I think that’s pretty self explanatory. I just rambled for an entire paragraph up there about the Egyptian Goddess Isis.

TAM:  How did you develop your political views? 

TAM: My parents didn’t influence me much. They were conservative and to please them I pretended to be a Republican until I reached puberty.  When I was little I asked Dad what party President Clinton belonged to, and he said, “he’s a DUMBocrat.” But my Aunt was liberal, a Dem loyalist, and she influenced my politics a lot.  She would talk to me about the things Bush would do.

TAM:  Do you and Donna Brazile still stay in touch?

LI: Naw. Got nothing to say to her.

TAM: You describe yourself as a feminist.  What does that mean to you?  

Feminism to me is simply about equality between the sexes. If you believe in the social, political and economic equality of men and women you are a feminist. It’s not that deep, really, but a lot of girls my age won’t say they’re feminists because some people associate feminists with lesbians who don’t shave their armpits. I’ve gotten a lot of my friends to come around, and I’m told I’m nice to look at so maybe that has something to do with it.

TAM: Do you see today’s feminism in sync with that of earlier generations, or is it heading in another direction?

I agree with liberal 2nd wave feminists about pretty much everything, but radical feminists like Mary Daley ruined it for the rest of us in some ways. Some of her writing was beautiful, but in general Red Tent feminism isn’t feminism to me because separate but equal is not equal.

Today’s feminism, I’ve noticed, concerns itself with the media and female and male stereotypes, and that is one of my biggest concerns right now too. I think male social dominance really hurts men almost as much as it hurts women. Sometimes I think it must be very hard to be a man. Jane Addams, the founder of Hull House, captured my feelings perfectly when she said: “I do not believe that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislature, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.”

TAM: If you had to pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

Colorful.

TAM:  Every generation believes they see things more clearly than their predecessors.  There’s an old adage, “from the mouths of babes, wisdom comes.”    You’re a babe, so what message/warning/advice do you have for us old folks?

LI: Just that before you start complaining about our generation, remember who raised us, remember whose debt we’re inheriting and remember the world you’re leaving behind for us to fix. Every generation thinks it’s better than the other, but every generation has its own unique set of problems. A lot of older people complain about the Internet and social networking, but the web is giving us a global village, and it can have a massive impact on Social Change. And also, we do love you very very much. Maybe if we stopped resenting each other so much we would agree on more.

TAM:  I, for one, don’t resent your generation. Your music sucks, is all. Anyway, what plans to you have to celebrate your 21st?

LI:  A lady doesn’t kiss and tell.

TAM:  Well have fun!  And thanks for sharing — this was truly fascinating.  Oh, one last question — what’s your cup size?

LI: I just found out it’s a D, but my girlfriends had convinced me I was a C. ‘Natalie,’ they said,  ‘they’re supposed to push out that way!’

TAM:  You must be breathing easier now.

LI:  Crazy biatches!

I’m going to Hell. Thanks for the FB Birthday wishes, all!