Archive for January, 2013

January 13th 2013
Hillary Clinton still too old, sick, and worst of all, unattractive

Posted under American history & Bodily modification & Gender & jobs & wankers & women's history

As I predicted earlier this week, the sneering, sexist dismissals of Hillary Clinton are back, baby.  And just like in 2007 and 2008, it’s not right-wingers leading the charge–it’s people on the so-called “progressive” side of things.  Meghan Daum writes in the Chicago Tribune today:

Clinton’s finale could hardly have been more dramatic. After falling ill with a stomach virus in early December, she fainted, suffered a concussion and landed in a hospital with a blood clot between her brain and skull. Meanwhile, her detractors drummed up conspiracy theories about “Benghazi fever,” and her supporters had a moment of genuine fear that Clinton might not be around to follow the script that so many have been writing for her over the last several years.

Really?  Getting a tummy bug and a bump on the head is “more dramatic” than, for example, having a chronic heart condition (eventually requiring a heart transplant) and shooting a guy in the face?  I thought that was a lot more dramatic, especially for someone considered perfectly fit to be a mechanical heartbeat away from the U.S. Presidency!  And wait–what about choking on pretzel while watching a football game?  Maybe that was more ridiculous than dramatic, but I’d hardly call Norovirus high drama.  On to the comments about Clinton’s looks: Continue Reading »

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January 12th 2013
A dumb and dishonest view of American history education in Texas

Posted under American history & class & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & students

Simple arithmetic foils dumb report!

Via Inside Higher Ed, we learned yesterday that the National Association of “Scholars” has issued a report on the alleged dominance of race, class, and gender in American history survey classes at both the University of Texas at Austin and at Texas A&M University.  Its analysis, called “Recasting History:  Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?,” claims that vitally important topics in political, intellectual, and military history (for example) are being ignored because of professors’ insistence on elevating “RCG” topics above all others:

We found that all too often the course readings gave strong emphasis to race, class, or gender (RCG) social history, an emphasis so strong that it diminished the attention given to other subjects in American history (such as military, diplomatic, religious, intellectual history). The result is that these institutions frequently offered students a less-than-comprehensive picture of U.S. history, 5.

The report’s methodology, such as it is, is a laughably incomplete review of just course syllabi and web pages to determine faculty research interests in “RCG” topics, as the NAS calls it:  “[W]e divided course readings and faculty interests into 11 broad content categories well established in the discipline,” 10.  So, how do the course reading assignments in UT and TAMU American history courses break down?  Here are their numbers, found on p. 16 in the report.  I’ve taken the numbers from a chart and arranged the above topics in descending order in their appearance in course readings on syllabi: Continue Reading »

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January 10th 2013
Joe Scarborough is right

Posted under American history & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

This time, anyway.  The President’s cabinet is a total sausage party, and it’s getting even whiter too now with the resignation of Hilda Solis.  I guess women just can’t keep up with the boys in the weekly pickup hoops games.

Binders full of hypocrisy, anyone?

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January 9th 2013
Just who does she think she is?

Posted under American history & Gender & jobs & women's history

I am big. It’s the Bloomberg columnists who got small.

Michael Kinsey writes about what he calls “Hillary Clinton’s ego trips,” and proves that there’s no way you approach your professional life and responsibilities as a woman that won’t be held against you.  His main complaint seems to be that Hillary Clinton thinks she’s so big:

The world is a better place because of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. That’s not the question. The question is whether it is a better place because of those last 20 hours of her 80-hour work week. Or because of the extra miles she flew to distant capitals?

On one trip in 2009, according to the New York Times, “she traveled from talks with Palestinian leaders in Abu Dhabi to a midnight meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, then boarded a plane for Morocco, staying up all night to work on other issues, before going straight to a meeting of Arab leaders the next morning.”

Very impressive, but did it bring us any closer to peace in the Middle East?

Kind of strange, don’t you think?  Has anyone ever written about a man that he worked too hard or was just too dedicated to his job, let alone that his dedication was a form of self-aggrandizement?  What’s worse is that in Kinsey’s estimation, Hillary Clinton looks like a 65 year-old woman:

Clinton looks awful and has looked worse and worse for years, since long before her recent hospitalization for a blood clot resulting from a fall. I don’t mean to be ungallant. It’s just that she clearly has been working herself to death in her current job as well as in her past two, as senator and first lady. Continue Reading »

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January 8th 2013
The Full Crazy

Posted under American history & Gender & Intersectionality & race & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

Inside the mind of a Second Amendment rights absolutist who believes that the right to “keep and bear arms” empowers Americans to take up arms against the state, among several other charmingly evidence-free beliefs.  I don’t think I’d ever say this in my lifetime, but kudos to Piers Morgan for allowing all of us to see, hear, and smell the crazy.  (And of course, he’s a 9/11 Truther, and just as angry as a Scientologist about psychopharmacology.  You’ve heard of the Full ClevelandThis is the Full Crazy.)

Something else I’d never thought I’d write:  Alan Dershowitz is right, and good for him for reminding us that not all Americans look like that crazy guy, and that we’re still Americans if read the Second Amendment differently (as in the not-crazy way.)

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January 7th 2013
But I thought guns made us all safer: fear and intimidation in Westchester County

Posted under American history & Gender & unhappy endings & weirdness

The New York Times has a revealing article about the suburban New York newspaper, The Journal News, and its decision a few weeks ago to publish a list of names and addresses as well as an interactive map of all of the people who hold handgun permits in Westchester and Rockland counties.  The print and online edition of the article, “The Gun Owner Next Door:  What You Don’t Know About the Weapons in Your Neighborhood,” became a nationwide sensation, and the Times’s summary of the story so far documents an amazing display of narcissism and projection:

Calls and e-mails grew so threatening that the paper’s president and publisher, Janet Hasson, hired armed guards to monitor the newspaper’s headquarters in White Plains and its bureau in West Nyack, N.Y.

Personal information about editors and writers at the paper has been posted online, including their home addresses and information about where their children attended school; some reporters have received notes saying they would be shot on the way to their cars; bloggers have encouraged people to steal credit card information of Journal News employees; and two packages containing white powder have been sent to the newsroom and a third to a reporter’s home (all were tested by the police and proved to be harmless).

“As journalists, we are prepared for criticism,” Ms. Hasson said, as she sat in her meticulously tended office and described the ways her 225 employees have been harassed since the article was published. “But in the U.S., journalists should not be threatened.” She has paid for staff members who do not feel safe in their homes to stay at hotels, offered guards to walk employees to their cars, encouraged employees to change their home telephone numbers and has been coordinating with the local police.

Was The Journal News right or wrong to publish this information in this fashion?  Most unusually, I have had a hard time formulating an opinion on this.  I can see the arguments from both sides:  Continue Reading »

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January 6th 2013
Oxycodone addict and member of notoriously drunken rich clan with fortune built on bootlegging opposes decriminalization of pot

Posted under American history & bad language & class & the body & wankers & weirdness & women's history

 

Alcohol is legal; smashing up bars is not.

I can’t make this stuff up.

Retired Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy is taking aim at what he sees as knee-jerk support for marijuana legalization among his fellow liberals, in a project that carries special meaning for the self-confessed former oxycodone addict.

Kennedy, 45, a Democrat and younger son of Edward Kennedy, is leading a group called Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) that opposes legalization and seeks to rise above America’s culture war over pot.

The sense of entitlement boggles the mind:  why would anyone find him a credible advocate?  Or is this a case of the convert being more Catholic than the Pope, as it were?  Continue Reading »

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January 5th 2013
2012: the Year of the Asshole?

Posted under American history & bad language & book reviews & European history & fluff & Gender & the body

Some of you have probably heard of Geoffrey Nunberg’s Ascent of the A-word:  Assholism, the First Sixty Years (2012) because of his platform as the resident linguist for NPR’s Fresh Air.  A few weeks ago, we learned that Aaron James, a philosophy professor at the University of California, Irvine, published a book in 2012 called Assholes:  A Theory, and this article describing James’s book made me laugh out loud:

So what is an asshole, exactly? How is he (and assholes are almost always men) distinct from other types of social malefactors? Are assholes born that way, or is their boorishness culturally conditioned? What explains the spike in the asshole population?

James was at the beach when he began mulling those questions. “I was watching one of the usual miscreants surf by on a wave and thought, Gosh, he’s an asshole.” Not an intellectual breakthrough, he concedes, but his reaction had what he calls “cognitive content.” In other words, his statement was more than a mere expression of feeling. He started sketching a theory of assholes, refining his thinking at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, where he spent a year as a fellow in 2009.

Now here’s the part I really like as a historian.  James pushes beyond the linguist’s focus on the word to explore the history and philosophy of the asshole avant la lettre:

He consulted Rousseau (who, James notes, was something of an asshole himself on account of his shabby parenting skills), Hobbes (especially his views on the “Foole” who breaks the social contract), Kant (his notion of self-conceit in particular), and more-recent scholarship on psychopaths. He spoke with psychologists, lawyers, and anthropologists, all of whom suggested asshole reading lists. “There are a lot of similar characters studied in other disciplines, like the free rider or the amoralist or the cheater,” James says, calling his time at Stanford an “interdisciplinary education in asshole theory.”

James argues for a three-part definition of assholes that boils down to this: Continue Reading »

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January 3rd 2013
A conversation with Chauncey DeVega about guns, masculinity, and the white violent crime epidemic; Gerda Lerner’s life and death; and why I’m okay with skipping the AHA (again!)

Posted under American history & childhood & class & conferences & European history & Gender & Intersectionality & race & women's history

Chauncey DeVega called me up a few weeks ago to talk about the Newtown murders, and in particular about the deep historical connection between white masculinity and firearms ownership.  We also talked about why Americans can have very different perceptions of physical safety, their own rights, and American history itself.  In any case, you can eavesdrop on our conversation: it’s available here at We Are Respectable Negroes and at the Daily Kos as well.  You can also access the interview here directly and either listen to it or download the mp3.  As you will hear, Chauncey is a very smart guy, and I struggled to keep up with him intellectually.  I had a great time, and will eagerly listen to all of the interviews he’s podcasting on his blog.

In other news:  Gerda Lerner, the pathbreaking women’s historian, died yesterday at age 92 (h/t to cgeye on the blog and Indyanna via a private e-mail for tipping me off.)  I for one am glad that her connection to Communism is right there on page 1 of her New York Times obituary–Betty Friedan might be rolling over in her grave about the prominent discussion of the CP, but can’t we be okay already with the truth of the historical connections between Communism and other mid-twentieth century Progressive movements like Civil Rights and feminism?  Continue Reading »

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