Ann Althouse’s Obsession with Jessica Valenti’s Breasts

Several months ago I had this post about the absurd attacks on Jessica Valenti from Ann Althouse. Believe it or not, this dispute has reappeared repeatedly. In brief, Jessica attended a bloggers meeting with Bill Clinton and posed for a picture. She was dressed conservatively but the picture revealed the fact that, as with most members of her gender, Jessica has a pair of breasts under her sweater. Beyond that there was nothing remarkable–not even a low neck line. Apparently to Ann Althouse this remains a crime against feminist beliefs. Another play by play of the whole episode can be found here.

With this event continuing to be brought up, Jessica mentioned it when she had the opportunity to write a column on the blogosphere for The Guardian:

Last year I had my own run-in with online sexism when I was invited to a lunch meeting with Bill Clinton, along with a handful of other bloggers. After the meeting, a group photo of the attendees with Clinton was posted on several websites, and it wasn’t long before comments about my appearance (“Who’s the intern?; “I do like Gray Shirt’s three-quarter pose.”) started popping up.

One website, run by law professor and occasional New York Times columnist Ann Althouse, devoted an entire article to how I was “posing” so as to “make [my] breasts as obvious as possible”. The post, titled “Let’s take a closer look at those breasts,” ended up with over 500 comments. Most were about my body, my perceived whorishness, and how I couldn’t possibly be a good feminist because I had the gall to show up to a meeting with my breasts in tow. One commenter even created a limerick about me giving oral sex. Althouse herself said that I should have “worn a beret . . . a blue dress would have been good too”. All this on the basis of a photograph of me in a crew-neck sweater from Gap.

I won’t even get into the hundreds of other blogs and websites that linked to the “controversy.” It was, without doubt, the most humiliating experience of my life – all because I dared be photographed with a political figure.

It is unfortunate that this experience turned out to be humiliating to Jessica as she did nothing wrong. This view is not changed by Ann Althouse’s response:

And I still maintain that it was absolutely justified to mock that photograph. Distort what I was really saying there all you want, but the fact remains: Cozying up to Bill Clinton is not something a feminist should be doing. You have never responded to what I was really writing about. You have instead chosen to attack me, and you’re doing it again, and you and your friends have leveraged what was a minor satirical blog post for your advantage. You’re exploiting it again and going through the whole routine of trying to ruin my reputation again. It’s an ugly way you’ve chosen to try to build a career as a feminist writer.

I’d love to see you take some responsibility for what you’ve done instead of whining that everyone’s talking about your breasts. I don’t give a damn about your breasts. What I care about is the way feminists sold out feminism to bolster the fortunes of the Democratic Party. But you will never talk about that, because you don’t have anything to say there. So it’s on and on about breasts, breasts, breasts, please don’t talk about my breasts.

First of all, although Bill Clinton did many things which feminists could object to, it is perfectly understandable that a liberal blogger would attend a bloggers meeting with him, and absurd to think that such a blogger would refuse to be photographed with him. Not many people get the chance to spend such time with a former President. Secondly, this is only about breasts because Ann Althouse made it about breasts in her initial post on the subject. Unless she expected Jessica to wear a burqa instead of a normal sweater, there is nothing salacious about this picture.

Defenses of Nancy Pelosi’s Visit to Syria

Congressman Tom Lantos has debunked many of the recent attacks on Nancy Pelosi’s middle east trip:

USA TODAY’s views distort both the nature of Speaker Pelosi’s trip and the constitutional role of Congress in foreign policy. As a member of the speaker’s delegation who accompanied her to every meeting, I would like to set the record straight.

Let’s be clear. Speaker Pelosi acted well within the bounds of current U.S. foreign policy. During her visit in Damascus, she publicly declared that she supports the administration’s goals regarding Syria. She delivered strong messages to President Assad condemning Syria’s support for terrorists in Iraq and throughout the region, its association with Iran, its destabilization of Lebanon, and its efforts to obstruct the investigation into the Hariri assassination.

But she also demonstrated that she agrees with the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that constructive dialogue is a critical means of addressing our concerns with Damascus. The speaker believes – and I wholeheartedly agree – that dialogue does not mean defeat.

Nor did Speaker Pelosi challenge the president’s right to make foreign policy. Far from it. As The Washington Post reported Thursday, “Foreign policy experts generally agree that Pelosi’s dealings with Middle East leaders have not strayed far, if at all, from those typical for a congressional trip.”

One source of confusion for critics is the very nature of U.S. relations with Damascus. These are far more “normal” than the White House usually lets on. The United States has long-standing diplomatic relations with Syria, and the two nations have direct diplomatic contact daily. Although there is no U.S. ambassador resident in Damascus, we have an embassy there run by a senior-level diplomat. Similarly, the Syrians have an embassy in Washington, with an ambassador who is highly visible in most of the U.S. media.

The administration’s static approach has not altered Syrian behavior one iota. Five Republican congressmen have visited Assad this week. A growing number of Republicans and Democrats share the speaker’s misgivings about the White House’s ineffectiveness in the region. Like Speaker Pelosi and myself, they are convinced that direct communication with Syria’s leader cannot worsen Syrian behavior. Rather, over time, it may just lead to improvement.

Tom Lantos is a Democratic congressman from California and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Horses Mouth  has more from Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson.

The attacks from the right wing lack not only substance but also lack originality. The same right wing bloggers who are so upset about Nancy Pelosi traveling to Syria were attacking John Kerry for his middle east trip a few months ago. The authoritarian right simply does not believe that any branch of government has a right to do much of anything unless it is firmly under their control.

SciFi Friday: Star Trek Cardinal

Slice of SciFi reports on a new Star Trek television show being pitched to CBS by Project Cardinal. I am impressed with their ideas as they show more understanding of what made Star Trek successful than those who created some of the more recent sequels.

Simply pointing in a random direction and exploring no longer works for fans of today. Star Trek fans expect an engaging, fast moving story with a definite direction in mind. The story must have a purpose, a soul that interconnects the various stories. Everything must have meaning.

In that vein, we give you the crew of the USS Cardinal, a small vessel which is charged with the unglorified job of maintaining the Ferengi border, a small rectangle that also happens to connect the Romulans to the Cardassians in a smugglers corridor. The crew would be charged with chasing criminals and would-be invaders. If this were the be all and end all to the series, some Trek fans might burn the studio down in protest.

They are right that this by itself isn’t enough, but even before reading further I see hope. Star Trek is about starships. While Deep Space 9 had many fine points, the chances for success are much greater returning to a ship instead of a space station. Star Trek fans also want to move forward in the Star Trek universe we have seen in Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. We don’t want to see a ship stranded in another quadrant or a prequel which shows the past rather than the future as in Voyager and Enterprise.

Star Trek fans also care greatly about what was happened in the past series and do not want to see a total reboot as some such as J. Michael Straczynski have suggested. This idea might be best for the upcoming movie considering that there isn’t a current television show to base the movie on. The current plans to have the next Star Trek movie feature the characters of the original show played by new actors would be the best way of attracting both long time fans and a new audience. However, for an entire television series it would be preferable to move forward from where the last shows left off, maintaining the rich future history of the galaxy which has been presented.


O’Reilly Loses His Mind–Can We Expect Snuff Debates Next From Fox?


Bill O’Reilly loses his mind arguing with Geraldo Rivera. Maybe Fox’s answer to declining ratings is all out fights in the rare cases where they disagree with each other–perhaps to the death.

Posted in Television. Tags: . 1 Comment »

The Dishonesty of Little Green Footballs

Via Memeorandum I found this link at Little Green Footballs. For those who don’t want to actually go to that site, it contains some anti-Semitic graphics taken from a diary at Daily Kos with the caption “This one speaks for itself.”

Of course it does not speak for itself as the presentation is misleading. They don’t mention that this is just from a diary there which anyone could put up. The diary was tagged as a “troll diary” and it might even have been placed by a right wing troll in the first place. Even if not, a single diary is not representative of the views of readers at Daily Kos. A better indication of their views might be seen in the comments, which are opposed to anti-Semitism. There is a comment to leave it standing as evidence of the problem of anti-Semitism in light of the denials of some that it exists.

The right wing has been trying for years to get the Jewish vote for the Republicans with attempts at fabricating a case of widespread anti-Semitism on the left along with denial of the more meaningful problem of anti-Semitism on the right. They aren’t fooling anyone.

Will a Weak Hillary Increase Chances of a Gore Run?

How much do we trust something attributed to a “well-connected Democratic operative” who is unnamed? If this was something significant I might not post it,  but will as it is all speculative any ways. Dan Gerstein quotes this “well-connected Democratic operative” as saying that the real reason that Hillary Clinton is concerned about Obama matching her fund raising in the first quarter is that this increases the chances that Al Gore will enter the race.

The theory is that Hillary Clinton is more afraid of Gore as an opponent than Obama, and the muddier the race looks the more likely he will enter. Clinton hoped that her nomination would appear inevitable, scaring off Gore. However, if Hillary looks weak, Gore might be tempted. Of course if Hillary keeps worrying about Gore and ignores the threat from Obama himself, she might find herself in for a surprise next winter.

Update: The Washington Times uses similar logic to consider Obama’s fund raising success a good sign for Richardson and Dodd. In other words, it looks like this might have been a good week for everyone except Hillary Clinton.

Report Shows No Cooperation between Saddam and al Qaeda

Anybody who knew anything about the middle east realized that al Qaeda’s goal was to overthrow secular governments such as Saddam’s, and understood that the Bush administration’s claims of ties between Iraq and al Qaeda were fabricated. The Washington Post provides more evidence of this today:

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides “all confirmed” that Hussein’s regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community’s prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.

The Bush administration conned many into supporting their policies based upon the false claims about a tie between al Qaeda and Iraq. Dick Cheney’s not going to give up on what he sees as a useful propaganda tool:

The report’s release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq “before we ever launched” the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

“This is al-Qaeda operating in Iraq,” Cheney told Limbaugh’s listeners about Zarqawi, who he said had “led the charge for Iraq.” Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would “play right into the hands of al-Qaeda.”

No doubt those who listen to Dick Cheney on Rush Limbaugh’s show will continue to believe that Saddam was resonsible for 9/11. They’re the same people who also believe that there was WMD in Iraq, that the Swift Boat Liars both served with Kerry and were providing honest reports, that intelligent design better explains the development of complex lifeforms than evolution, and that there is a scientific controversy over climate change.

Paul Krugman: Money for Children or Health Insurance Companies

There are many reasons to criticize George Bush’s Medicare plan, which primarily provides financial rewards to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries for their political support. While most of the publicity has been about the prescription drug coverage, a less well-known aspect of the plan is increased subsidies to insurance companies which offer Medicare HMO’s. These Medicare Advantage plans cost more to care for patients despite cherry picking the healthier patients. They are being sold to elderly Medicare patients by salespeople who tell they all types of lies in order to make their commission. Paul Krugman also complains that the money used for Bush’s Medicare plan could be better used to provide medical care to the eight million uninsured children in this country. Krugman reviews the faults in the Medicare Advantage plans:

According to Medpac, the official nonpartisan commission that assesses Medicare payments, Medicare Advantage plans now cost taxpayers an average of 12 percent more per enrollee than traditional Medicare. Private fee-for-service plans, the fastest-growing type, cost 19 percent extra.

As I said, it’s hard to see how anyone can, in good conscience, think that preserving subsidies to insurance companies is more important than providing health care for children. But that is, of course, exactly the position taken by the Bush administration, which is adamantly opposed both to any attempt to expand the children’s health insurance program — in fact, the administration wants to cut its reach — and to any attempt to reduce Medicare Advantage payments.

The official reasons given for this position are evasive and dishonest.

Explaining the administration’s opposition to expanding the children’s program, Michael Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, said the program “should not be the vehicle by which we insure every adult and every child in America.” But that isn’t what the Democrats are proposing.

As for why the administration wants to keep subsidizing insurance companies, Mr. Leavitt says, “The president and I are for competition.” But nobody is against competition — it’s subsidized competition that’s the problem. Mr. Leavitt added that “the marketplace beats the government at controlling costs and delivering value” — but he’s not willing to put that assertion to the test by requiring that private insurers compete on a level playing field.

Lately, both the insurance lobby and the administration have also started playing the race card, claiming that Medicare Advantage offers special benefits to the poor and to minority groups. (Remember how Social Security was supposed to be bad for black people?) But a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities thoroughly debunks these claims: low-income and minority seniors are less likely than the average Medicare recipient to be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Joe Klein: An Administration’s Epic Collapse

The Time column by Joe Klein that I commented on earlier is now available on line. The earlier post gives some highlights, but the final paragraph sounds even stronger when read in its entirety:

When Bush came to office–installed by the Supreme Court after receiving fewer votes than Al Gore–I speculated that the new President would have to govern in a bipartisan manner to be successful. He chose the opposite path, and his hyper-partisanship has proved to be a travesty of governance and a comprehensive failure. I’ve tried to be respectful of the man and the office, but the three defining sins of the Bush Administration–arrogance, incompetence, cynicism–are congenital: they’re part of his personality. They’re not likely to change. And it is increasingly difficult to imagine yet another two years of slow bleed with a leader so clearly unfit to lead.

Joe Klein has really come a long way. Just last month he was attacking the left wing extremists who have been saying this all along. It is amazing that it took Klein this long to figure it out, and even more amazing that there are still many Bush-worshippers who do not realize what a disaster George Bush has been for this country.

This isn’t so much a collapse but an administration which never really got off the ground. On September 10, 2001 Bush was seen as an inept new President in his first year who already looked like a single-termer. The next day Bush got his big break and figured out how to play politics with the attack to look like a hero to a narrow majority who did not see through the Orwellian propaganda campaign from the right.

Despite all the propaganda, George Bush remained the same incompetent man who lacked the intellectual curiosity to do anything successful since his cheerleader days in college. There is only so much damage that can be done to the country before even the most closed minded figure out what is happening. If Joe Klein really wants to open his eyes, he will find material to fill all the columns he needs on the damage done by George Bush.