I would like to see these people have a real conversation about gun control and rape.

Rather than the scream-a-thon that unfolded, rife with straw man arguments, false choices, interruptions on the part of all of the participants “statistics” cited without being backed up, I wanted to hear what all of the women had to say, including the ones on the tape that Hannity played to introduce the segment.

What would it have been like if they had conducted a true dialogue that touched upon subjects like the role of statistics in the debate? For example, even if statistics really do show that more people have their guns used against them, should that be the end of the story? I don’t know the answer to the question, which is why I would have preferred to hear more of what everyone had to say on the subject. I would have liked them to ponder the question of whether we can both teach men and boys not to rape and still protect ourselves from the disturbed, “unteachable” offenders who are still going to attack.

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Specusation: When all else fails, question your opponent’s motives

No, seriously, if you want to “win” an argument, accuse the other person of being racist, sexist, homophobic, a “one-percenter,” a socialist, un-American, anti-religious, etc.

An attack on someone’s motives grabs headlines, is something you never have to back up with evidence, and completely relieves you of the responsibility of backing up your claim with facts and logic: who knows what evil lurks in the heart of the other person? One can only imagine.

Once accused, there is no way to be proven innocent. The accusation is the sentence. Nothing will make you look more racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic or unpatriotic than trying to prove that you are not.

Remember when Glenn Beck accused President Obama of having a “deep-seated hatred toward white people”? Like a dirty bomb spewing radiation into the atmosphere, that baseless “specusation” has lingered in the body politic for years, contaminating the public perception of Obama’s every statement and policy initiative.

The president himself, wisely and regularly refuses to dignify such remarks with a response. His top priority is getting his agenda passed, and his weapon of choice is reasoned debate. Engaging in a fruitless argument over whether or not he is racist or un-American or a Real Christian would distort his message and decrease the ratio of signal to noise in the overall debate.

Noting the rightward shift of the Democratic Party and his position as its standard bearer, some have called Obama an “Eisenhower Republican.” Policy matters aside, his leadership style does resemble that of Eisenhower, who, according to historian Fred I. Greenstein, avoided “engaging in personalities” at all costs, and who advised others to “never question a man’s motives.”

Engaging in personalities is a cheap way to win a fight. Making it into a habit causes the muscles of the heart to weaken and the brain to turn to mush. Specusation is seductive, precisely because it is so effective, and we as a society are forgetting how to debate in good faith using reason and logic. If we should lose that ability altogether, then our democracy really will be nothing more than legalized mob rule.

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Now on iTunes!

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Jian Ghomeshi Asks Camille Paglia, “What Is Fine Art?”

True confession – this weekend I was at the “Powerplant” Barnes and Noble in Baltimore & got mesmerized by Kitty Kelley’s biography of Oprah Winfrey.  Wanting more without actually having to buy it, I went on YouTube & discovered Jian Ghomeshi’s interview with Kelley and was so impressed that I have been watching Ghomeshi on YouTube ever since. One of the interviews is with Martin Short, discussing the Oscars and the episode of Saturday Night Live he hosted right after the Sandy Hook massacre. He also has interviews with Angela Davis and Paglia’s arch-nemesis, Naomi Wolf (bwah-ha-ha-haaaa!).

This interview makes me very happy for several reasons. One is that I just love watching Camille Paglia. The other is this: at about 2:00 Ghomeshi does something few journalists ever do, which is ask the interviewee to define a term. Ghomeshi asks Paglia to “back up three steps” and explain what she means by the term “fine art.” Another interviewer would have been afraid to ask that question. This is so important, because for one person, as he explains, “fine” could be a value judgement, as in this piece of art is “Fine” as opposed to that one, which is not so hot.The next time a conversation seems to go off the rails for no good reason, stop to ask people to verify that they are both talking about the same thing.

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Gateway Women: “I may not be a mother, but I’m still a person.”

Source: google.com.au via Jody on Pinterest


Julia Child, Betty White, Helen Mirren, Amy Tan, Angela Merkel, Sonia Sotomayor, Gloria Gaynor, Janeane Garofalo – what do they have in common?

Gateway Women is a site for and about women who are not mothers, by choice or by circumstance. Here are some of their “Childless and Child-free Role Models.”

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Nica Noelle, intellectual and porn auteur, profiled in the Huffington Post

Brava Nica! One of our first interviewees, Nica Noelle, was profiled in the Huffington Post!

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Episode #5 – Larry Rubin discusses voting rights and SNCC

Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner

Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner. Civil rights workers killed during Mississippi Freedom Summer.

Larry Rubin volunteered with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the 1960s in Georgia and Mississippi. His job was to help register African-American voters, an often dangerous task in the segregated south. At the end of the interview, Larry and I talked about the last national election and attempts to restrict voting in some states. Larry had some surprising suggestions for diminishing the influence of “tea party” style rhetoric in the national conversation.

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CD Review: “Lucky Day” by Laura Byrne

Laura Byrne playing Irish music on the flute.

There is so much to love about Lucky Day, Laura Byrne’s second solo recording of traditional and original music on the Irish “simple system” flute, but I am going to try to limit myself to three items:

1)The “voice” of Laura’s flute is spectacular. The tone of the wooden flute used in Irish music can sound dull or breathy to listeners accustomed to the sound of a metal orchestral flute, but Laura brings forth the instrument’s full spectrum of textures and colors, from earthy and mellow to bright and ringing.

2) The ensemble backing Laura, which includes Billy McComiskey on accordion, Donna Long on piano, Myron Bretholz on bodhran, and Pat Egan and Sean Earnest on guitars, is crisp, light, and right in the pocket. The tunes simmer at the perfect tempo, propelling rather than pushing.

One quality I appreciate about the Irish music scene in Baltimore and which is exemplified by this ensemble, is a reality-based approach to the tunes that is more about getting a job done than impressing with superhuman feats of speed, complexity or obscurity. The “job” in this case is playing on a regular basis for dancers who don’t care who is playing the tune, much less who wrote it as long as the music keeps them on the dance floor. Laura’s engaging choice of material, her settings of each individual tune and the way she has combined them for drama and lift are a testament to the hours she has clocked as a “blue collar” musician serving the dance community.

Another major influence on Laura’s playing and on the Baltimore music scene is button accordionist, composer and teacher Billy McComiskey, whose name appears on this CD more frequently than anyone else’s, including Laura’s. Through his musicianship and personal charisma, Billy has mentored two generations of musicians as an inspiration and as Baltimore’s answer to Jo Jones, the drummer who drove Charlie Parker to the woodshed with a flying cymbal. One of his compositions, a jig called “Ohm’s Law,” kicks off the first set of tunes on this recording.

3) The pleasant surprise on this album, buried at track eight out of ten, is Laura’s singing. The only vocal track on the album is a charming, homegrown American version of one of the warhorses of Irish music, an old-time waltz called “The Galway Shawl.” Laura’s moving unaccompanied version comes from Brooklyn NY by way of Albany.

Laura’s singing is delicate and unpretentious. She decorates the tune sparingly, bringing forth the inherent beauty of the simple tune, polishing rather than smothering it. Like the best traditional Irish singers, she just tells the story of love with a happy ending, a fitting choice for an album called Lucky Day. To hear tracks and buy a CD, visit CDBaby.com.

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“I’m not a feminist”

This article in Salon is about the trend for women in public life to identify as “not a feminist.” This has led to much controversy, including a feud between Naomi Wolf and Katy Perry. This might be one of those cases in which the parties do not all share the same definition of the word. When i hear a woman say “I’m not a feminist,” first I think, “How could you not be? Do you want to be June Cleaver?” I think it must mean “I’m pretty, I shave my legs, I like men, and I don’t want to wear aviator glasses.” What do you think being a “feminist” means?

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Happy weekend – enjoy the artwork of Tara Sinn

More Tara Sinn

CAT BOUNCE! A website of bouncing cats.

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