Friday, August 31, 2018

This Interview Though!

This actual, real-life Cate Blanchett interview is something else. And by something else, I mean that it reads like real person Mary Sue fanfic as written by a queer woman and I am incredibly envious of the interviewer:
"'I thought we’d have a picnic,' Blanchett suggests, leading the way out of the front door and across the sun-bleached lawn down towards a small lake. In the centre of it is a tiny island, about 20 feet across, accessed by a wooden bridge. A table covered in a white cloth has been set up here in the shade of a tall pine-tree twined with last Christmas’ fairy lights. We sit down to homemade quiches and plates of ham and cheese, while Doug snuffles greedily at our feet. 'I never drink wine at lunchtime,' jokes Blanchett, pouring out glasses of iced rosé."
In the interview, Blanchett also refers to her "rage" at the "lazy incompetence of the men" responsible for Brexit.

I mean. Queer woman catnip right there. All of it.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Quote of the Day: White Evangelicals

Amy Walter has written of a Pew Research assessment of the 2016 electorate.

The first interesting finding is that Trump did worse among white women than what exit polls found. Exit polls suggested 52% voted for Trump, while the Pew data suggests 47%. That's still high, but the second notable point is that being evangelical is by far the strongest predictor of whether a white person supports Trump.

It remains odd to me that very few commentators on the left, when discussing Trump's support among white people, make note of this.

From Walter's piece:
"...Mike Podhorzer, AFL-CIO’s political director, suggests that if we want to have a better understanding of white, non-college educated voters, we need to stop lumping them into one, catch-all category. What really distinguishes a Trump-supporting white voter from one who doesn’t isn’t education or even gender, it's whether or not that voter is evangelical.

Using a data set from Public Religion Research Institute, Podhorzer broke out white voters by gender, education and whether they identified as evangelical. The gap between white voters who approve and disapprove of Trump by gender was 25 points. By education (college versus non-college) it was about the same at 26 percent. But the gap in perceptions of the president between white voters who are evangelical and those who aren’t was a whopping 60 percent!

This evangelical support gap transcends education and gender. For example, among white evangelicals, college-educated men and non-college educated men give Trump equally impressive job approval ratings (78 percent and 80 percent respectively). But, among white men who aren’t evangelical, the education gap is significant. Those without a college degree give Trump a 52 percent job approval rating, while just 40 percent of those with a college degree approve of the job he’s doing."
As I've written before, many evangelicals view Trump as a Christian Cultural Warrior are are quite willing to overlook his many flaws as long as he provides them with big culture war wins.

While some politicians, commentators, and advocates on the left operate as though white Trump voters can be swayed by promoting policies that might better their socioeconomic and health statuses, such as Medicare for All and free college, I'm not sure that's the case with many evangelicals - who have long been motivated by opposition to abortion, LGBT rights, and anything they and their leaders deem "political correctness gone too far."

I'd consider evidence, if presented, that the vast majority of conservative white evangelicals are latent socialists-in-waiting. But right now, I don't buy it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Few To Benefit From Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program

Back in 2008, I wrote a quite critical rundown of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 noting that, in a nutshell, it comes nowhere near addressing the astronomically rising costs of attending college.

I'll also note that the student loan experience is personal for me, as well. I'm the first in my immediate family to have received a 4-year college degree and had zero financial assistance from my family in doing so. Almost two decades after attending college and grad school, I'm still making monthly payments on my student loans.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act included a benefit for those who work in public service. To summarize, someone who makes monthly payments, while on the correct payment plan, for 10 years while working in full-time public service as defined by the US Department of Education, can have the balance of their federal loans forgiven.

In 2008, I noted:
"In addition, your loans must be what are called federal 'Direct Loans' held by the Department of Education. Private loans, which have higher interest rates than federal loans, are not eligible for forgiveness....

In addition, this provision does nothing to reward those who have already been working in public service. For people who, for instance, have been working at a nonprofit while paying down their loans for say the past 8 years, their years of public service for purposes of this loan forgiveness provision will still begin in 2007, just as a new graduate's will. Then after 120 payments beginning in 2007, any student loan debt that is remaining will be forgiven."
I knew then that it would be difficult for many people to remain eligible for this benefit. For one, public service salaries tend to be much lower than private sector salaries, which means if someone is working in the public sector with a huge student loan debt, it can be difficult to make ends meet or to meet other life milestones a person might also want to meet, such as buying a house and/or starting a family.

Also, as detailed in an important Mother Jones piece (worth reading in its entirety), many borrowers run into barriers with federal loan administrators, who often make mistakes, give conflicting information, and miscount payments, but are rarely held accountable. So that now, the current situation is as follows:
"October 2017 should have been a moment for celebration for those sunk by debt—it was the first time a cohort of PSLF participants, after 10 years of payments, could be forgiven. Yet of almost 900,000 people who have submitted at least one payment to the PSLF program and FedLoan since 2012, the Education Department expects fewer than 1,000 to be forgiven by the end of its fiscal year. The reasons for these astonishingly dismal statistics are myriad, but one fact is clear: A decade after McIlvaine and scores of others began paying into the program, many are only barely closer to their goal of being debt-free. And some are even more in debt than when they started."
Despite how difficult it already is for borrowers to benefit from the PSLF, the Trump Republican Administration wants to get rid of it.

As the Mother Jones piece details, Republican policy around tuition is grounded in a philosophy wherein college students have a "personal responsibility" to assume the risk of taking on massive debt for a college degree.

All in all, it's a real win for Jill Stein voters in the 2016 election. She trashed Donald Trump's opponent for months and promised the cancellation of student debt altogether, so now nobody's getting anything even remotely close to that!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

No, You Don't Have To "Tolerate" Nazi "Free Speech"

Today at Shakesville, I have a piece up about "free speech" and the tolerance trap:
"What if all of your abstract adherence to 'anything goes' free speech for, and liberal 'tolerance' of, bigots isn't principled at all; it's just a reflection of your own comfort with a bigoted status quo and your discomfort with taking a stand against abusers?"
 Read the whole thing!

Monday, August 27, 2018

On McCain: Something To Ponder

As the mainstream media breathlessly falls ass-over-heels onto its fainting couch detailing all the real and imagined indignities Donald Trump inflicts upon the honor of John McCain.

I really have nothing else to say except to note that, while yes there's a lot of news these days, it will never not be sickening to see mass displays of ahistorical insta-memoriams of dead conservative white men.

The bar is. so. fucking. low.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday Feeling

Brandi Carlile wearing a fedora, vest, and bandana.

Discuss this or anything!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

For Women, Our "Peak" Isn't Determined By Men

I have a new piece up at Shakesville, regarding Netflix phenom Nanette and women's "peak." A snippet:

"Near the end of her comedy special, after recounting previous experiences of men assaulting her when she was younger, Gadsby declares, 'I am in my prime. Would you test your strength out on me?' She defines her peak and, consequently, it's determined by when she feels strong, not by the extent to which men are comfortable or turned on. Indeed, to the contrary, her entire routine as a comedian in her peak does, and should, make many men feel deeply uncomfortable."
Check out the whole thing!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Homophobic, Male Supremacist Institution Also Predatory

[Content note: sexual assault]

This is deeply immoral. From the New York Times:
"Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and police officers not to investigate it, according to a report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday.


The report catalogs horrific instances of abuse, including a priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out, and another priest who was allowed to stay in ministry after impregnating a 17-year-old girl, forging a signature on a marriage certificate and then divorcing the girl.

Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,' the grand jury wrote. 'Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.'”
Given the depraved, shameless behavior of so many Catholic leaders, under what moral authority do the men in charge of the Catholic Church dare deny women and LGBT people our full humanity, bodily autonomy, and happiness in life?

To be clear, I see the Catholic Church's allowance of widespread predation as nothing less than the simple prioritization of male supremacy and institutional power over the well-being of human beings.

Don't worry though, I'm sure it's just a matter of time until Trump's Republican Administration proclaims that the Catholic Church has a right to practice its religious freedom to rape children.

Friday, August 10, 2018

"Debate Me, Coward"

I swear I will at some point get back to writing recaps and fan vids, but here I am just randomly sitting here on a Friday night thinking about that time Bernie Sanders, after he lost the 2016 Democratic Primary to Hillary Clinton, offered to debate her opponent, Donald Trump. The subtext, of course, was that Hillary was a weakling cowardly girl and that a man was needed to do a man's job of standing up to another man.

(Nevermind that Donald Trump declined Bernie's challenge. A man can decline such things and, rather than being widely viewed as a coward, he's just authoritatively setting a boundary).

That is my prelude to the apparent bafflement I'm seeing by some on "the left" that many Hillary supporters, particularly those who are not Bernie superfans, support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

It shouldn't be baffling at all, really, but when have some segments of "the left" ever stooped so low as to try to understand a "Hillbot alt-centrist." GLEEP GLORP.

The first step to understanding this great mystery is to first and foremost understand that many Hillary supporters aren't, contrary to peculiar "leftist" definition, "centrists" at all. Many of us are progressive, intersectional feminists who support various incarnations of democratic socialism but find white-leftbro and cool girl Twitter "socialism" completely dysfunctional, toxic, and counter-productive.

"Centrist" has only come to mean "someone who doesn't believe Bernie Sanders is the one true lord and savior" in very recent years, and it would be great if we could revert back to a less idiosyncratic and more accurate definition of the word. The mainstream media, of course, is of little help in this regard, as they've widely and lazily ceded this definition.

The second step is to understand that many of us experienced Bernie Sanders, his campaign, and his supporters as playing into misogynistic tropes about female politicians for his own political campaign. That's not something I've see Ocasio-Cortez do. Rather, rightwingers and her opponents are actually going to use such tropes against her. And, they already are, in fact.

I hope that helps clarify the situation.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

More Thoughts on Playing the Woman Card

I have a new piece up over at Shakesville on the parallels between female trial attorneys and politicians, and what it means to "play the woman card." A snippet:

"The legitimate critiques of progressive female politicians also often serve as a gateway rationale for 'progressive' misogynists to hold female politicians to vastly higher standards than their male opponents and, ultimately, dismiss them from consideration altogether.

You know how it goes, I'd vote for a woman, just not that woman. 

It's why I will always believe that Donald Trump was the candidate for many of the men who didn't care if people called him a misogynist. Bernie Sanders was the candidate for many of the men who did. Sometimes I wonder how much of The One True Revolution is built upon the reality that many misogynists who were anti-Trump simply needed, and found, in Bernie Sanders a candidate who wasn't the woman. But, when white men continue to dominate the narration of US politics, who within the mainstream media will tell you that?"
 Check out the whole thing.