Book Review: Listen Liberal-Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of the People by Thomas Frank

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Anybody familiar with my little corner of the Internet, knows I am a liberal. And I don’t feel any shame in that title. I’m very proud of it and it is one that I hold close to my heart…however…

I have been troubled by the ideas, opinions and actions by some of my fellow liberals for a few years now but never could I quite voice it in an articulate, yet simple way.

So thank goodness for Thomas Frank and his latest book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? In Listen, Liberal, Frank pretty much sums it up in a way I couldn’t without coming across like a blithering idiot.

Perhaps, you’re not familiar with the name Thomas Frank, but undoubtedly you’ve heard of his books. He wrote the classic What’s the Matter With Kansas, a book that should be on most political-minded folks reading list no matter what your views. I can also recommend two of his other books—The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, and Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right.

This time out, instead of focusing on conservatives and the current state of the GOP, Frank focuses on his fellow liberals and the Democratic party, and his summary is not pretty.

In my life, I’ve always felt I straddled two worlds, not feeling entirely comfortable in either one. I was raised in a middle class home by two college educated parents. I graduated from an excellent college with the highest of honors. I have worked in the professional realm of media, high tech, consulting, finance, law and various creative endeavors. I have eaten brie and drink wine. I enjoy my city’s cultural landscape whether it be our local art galleries or our wonderful film fest.

However, I also grew up in a rural area.  My family history is mostly wooden spoons, not silver spoons (my maternal grandmother never attended high school). I drove to high school in a pick-up truck where guys wore John Deere hats and spit up their chewing tobacco into the drinking fountains. As an adult I lived in roach-infested apartments in really dodgy neighborhoods. My feet have walked on factory shop floors and the floors of several retail establishments. I have worked as a temp for longer than I care to admit. I’ve been poor, really poor, so poor I’ve eaten out of garbage cans and spent sleepless nights wondering if I’m going to end up homeless.

And in both of the worlds, I’ve felt marginalized and misunderstood. I am fully liberal, but today’s flavor of liberal (which favors the first world I noted) doesn’t quite understand the life I’ve lived in the second scenario I noted. And we’re worse off for not realizing this.

For the longest time, the Democratic base included many of those who work blue collar, pink collar and other assorted non-professional, managerial type of labor. Then something happened. This base of working class Jacks and Janes were cast aside for a more elitist class, which included those with college degrees (often post-undergrad) degrees, impressive job titles and even more impressive incomes. These elites are under the illusion that many of them earned their way to the top through mostly their merits. And though many of them had, a lot of them also had supportive families, good connections, went to the best schools, and were able to grab the brass ring of internships, and later great jobs. And a lot of their good fortune is due to just plain good luck.

Now many of these elitist liberals are socially liberal (which is wonderful). But they often ignore the plight of the working and service classes, the gulf between the haves and have nots, those living in rural areas, globalization, and the stagnation of wages (while CEO pay is through the roof).

As I mentioned, a lot of elitist liberals believe their success is due to merit, their talents, smarts, skills, and education. And sadly, many of these people look down at the “others.” Clearly they don’t have what it takes to succeed. It’s total snobbery.

What these liberals (and their “liberal gilt”) need to recognize is the great unwashed, the salt of the earth must be taken seriously. This includes their ideas, concerns, opinions, fears and aspirations. All of us have a stake in our country and its future. There is strength in numbers and those Democrats in power must listen to all of us (so far only Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and not to mention pundit Robert Reich seem to be open to doing this).

Sure, meritocracy is a nice concept. But so is a sense of empathy. Listen Liberal implores liberal elites to stop being such snobs, open their minds, hearts, and souls to those they think as “lesser” to make effective change that works for all of us.

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Taking One for the Team: How to Choose a Husband – And Make Peace With Marriage by Suzanne Venker

When anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly died last year, most people’s reaction was, “I thought that old bat died ages ago.”

As many of you know I wrote a review of the late Schlafly’s book the Flipside of Feminism, a book she wrote with her niece, Gen X anti-feminist Suzanne Venker. After Phyllis shoved off this mortal coil, I thought, “Just who is Suzanne going to use to justify her existence now that she can’t ride her more famous aunt’s taint to shame and bitches?”

Alas, I mustn’t be alarmed. Good old Suzanne will soldier on and continue to throw feminism and women as a whole under the bus via her various articles, appearances on FOX News, her “I’d like to speak to the manager,” hair do and her books. Yep, Suzanne has written other books and I just had to review another one for my beloved readers. Hence, my review of Suzanne’s latest opus, “How to Choose a Husband: And Make Peace with Marriage.

Now this isn’t a typical how to find a man and getting him to marry book you’re likely to find in the self-help section of your favorite book store or through a quick search on Amazon. Nope, in this book Venker goes on a totally tizzy about pop culture, the media, education, the household, careers and the workplace, raising children, confused men, bitchy women and her favorite punching bag, feminism.

How to Choose a Husband has two parts. Part One, named “You Go, Girl” contains four finger wagging chapters—The Naked Emperor, Never Rely on a Man, Slutville and Expectations. Part Two offers a 12-step program on how to find a cash register on legs (oops, a husband) and find the only true worthy life for all women, life as a wife and mother. And if you desire any life beyond a wife and mother, well, you are truly an awful person. These steps include the following:

  1. Live an Examined Life
  2. Get Over Yourself
  3. Return to Femininity
  4. Don’t Rely on Love
  5. Get a Ring. Not a Roommate
  6. Reject the Green Grass Syndrome
  7. Marry the Accountant. Not the Artist
  8. Know Your Body
  9. Accept It: You Can’t Have it All
  10. Decide to Stay
  11. Know God, Know Peace
  12. Learn How to Be a Wife: What Do You Bring to the Table

And in the last tiresome part of How to Choose a Husband, Venker provides a list on the “do’s and don’ts” of being a wife.

In “You Go, Girl, Venker pretty much spews out the same rubbish she (and her late Aunt) used to dismiss feminism, while also dismissing the self-esteem movement, pop culture, getting an education and having a career, and recognizing oneself as being a fully sexual human being. Needless to say, you can just read my review of Venker and Schlafly’s book The Flipside of Feminism to get an idea on how I felt about this part of How to Choose Husband.

And in the second part, Venker’s 12 Step program for finding your Mr. Right (Wing) pretty much is summed up in the chapter titles alone. Once again, I don’t have to go into very much detail other than to say Venker spends quite a bit of this book bitching about her first marriage to a man named Chris that ended in a divorce (and Chris probably thanking his lucky stars he was unshackled from Vengeance, I mean Venker), In fact, by the time I finished this part, I knew more about Chris than I know about Venker’s current husband. Damn it, Suzie Spew, get a grip or therapy or a fucking vibrator! This early marriage is dead and buried and now you claim to be in a happy second marriage.

I also noticed another thing while reading this part. Venker doesn’t seem to realize most women know that marriage is more than just being in love, fertility lessens as one gets older, being married to an accountant is probably a bit more secure than being a starving artist (then again a man can be an accountant and an artist, and an accountant can lose his job just as much as an artist can have a successful career as a graphic designer and paint in his free time), and nobody, including men, have it all. And if you ask me, I think “having it all” is more of a media creation than a component of feminism. I also think most women realize they should be committed to their marriage vows and they should bring good things to a marriage.

However, I must take issue with both returning to femininity and knowing God means knowing peace. On the first part, am I less feminine because, unlike Venker, I identify as a feminist? Or am I more feminine because I have long hair past my shoulders and Venker has short hair? I’m just so confused!!!!

I also deplored her step about knowing peace (in a marriage) means knowing God. Right now I can think of two marriages where the partners are quite secular and their marriages are thriving and very happy. I’d rather throw myself off a bridge than be married hardcore religious types like Josh Duggar or Phil Robertson.

Speaking of reality TV cretins, as much as Venker accuses pop culture of corrupting women’s minds, she wastes no time using pop culture to advance her point. She considers Steve “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” Harvey is an expert on marriage. Well, I guess he is; he’s on his third. She also thinks Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey is an upstanding guy because he asks, doesn’t demand Anastasia Steel to be his controlled, submissive, and masochistic boo. Well, now that you’ve put it that way, Venker:

Finally, after fully exhausting myself reading Venker’s tome of tantrums we get to the epilogue, Venker’s “dos and donts”, the final don’t telling women, “Don’t bitch, be sweet.”

Hmm, after reading How to Find a Husband, Venker might want to take that advice herself.

 

 

Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran

It’s probably not a secret that I’m a fan of British pop culture critic, author, feminist and all-around cool British bird Caitlin Moran. Ms. Moran began writing about pop music when she was still a teenager growing up in a struggling family that lived in a council house and later hosted a TV show. Later Moran proved her feminist street cred via her funny, soul-searching, thought-provoking columns on everything from her budding sexuality as a teenager to her challenges combing marriage, child rearing and writing. She also writes about serious issues that affect women (and the men who love them) with the same aplomb she writes about pop culture. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since I picked up to of her earlier books Moranthology and How to Be a Woman. And her novel How to Build a Girl is a must read if you’ve ever been a teen-age girl (or, just human).

So when I found out Moran had released another book of essays, Moranifesto, I did a little jig in my leopard-spot flats and got myself a copy, which I can safely say is another feather in marvelous Ms. Moran’s chapeau! And it’s the perfect feminist elixir in a time of the Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief, #marketplacefeminism, Brexit, the sad loss of pop culture icons like Bowie, and a host of other issues that affect women across the big pond and women who live in your neighborhood.

Moranifesto is divided into four distinct parts:

  1. The Twenty-first Century—Where We Live
  2. The Feminisms
  3. The Future
  4. Epilogue

In The Twenty-first Century—Where We Live, Moran examines why her utter disdain for the late Margaret Thatcher to her despair over the death of David Bowie. She muses the hatred of her printer (always a letdown for writers on a strict deadline), famous people she has annoyed and taking a rather unpleasant ride through the streets of New York City. Her chapter on her love of bacon will resonate with anyone who thinks bacon is the food of the Gods. And I adored her essay on smells that remind us of childhood—our mother’s perfume, pencil shavings, calamine lotion, puppies, lilac trees—scents that make us a wee bit nostalgic for perceived simpler times when anything and everything seemed possible.

In Feminisms Moran pokes fun at her face, which she describes part potato, part thumb and asks why we have to make everything “sexy?” She implores us to find another word for rape, her support of Hillary Clinton, giving up high heels, the most sexist TV show called “Blachman,” the type of show I hope never makes our shores, and speaking of TV, spends a day with Lena Dunham on the set of “Girls.”

And in part three, Moran looks into her crystal ball to figure out the future. In this batch of musings she claims reading is fierce yet she thinks it’s okay if her children aren’t big readers. She validates the importance of libraries. She also gets serious discussing Syria and refugees. And when she muses about women who mess things up things for the rest of us you might find yourself nodding your head in agreement.

The fourth part of Moranifesto, the epilogue, is brief, yet probably the most important part of the book. The epilogue is a letter to Moran’s daughter Lizzie. In this letter, Moran is dead (yes, a wee bit morbid). Lizzie is about the turn 13 and Moran want to share some advice Lizzie might find useful. Moran tells Lizzie “try to be nice.” Niceness will always shine and bring people to you. Also, keep in mind that when you think you are on the verge of a nervous breakdown have a cup of tea and a biscuit (British term for cookie).

Other sage wisdom, choose friends in which you can be your true self and avoid trying to fix someone or avoid someone who thinks you need fixing. Though it may difficult in our shallow culture with its fixation on women’s outer shell, make peace with your body. Make people think you are amazing conversationalist by asking them questions; what they say might prove useful one day.

And probably the most powerful piece of Moran’s letter to Lizzie can be summed up in the following sentence.

“…life divides into AMAZING ENJOYABLE TIMES and APPALLINGEXPERIENCES THAT WILL MAKE FUTURE AMAZING ANECDOTES.”

True…so true.

Throughout Moranifesto, there are essays that really got under my skin, but I can’t really share why because they are way too personal; and at times, I need to keep certain experiences close to my vest. But to give you a sneak peak, these chapters include:

  1. The Rich are Blithe
  2. Poor People are Clever
  3. Two Things Men Need to Understand About Women
  4. How I Learned About Sex
  5. Let Us Find Another Find Another Word For Rape

And some other interesting chapters I think a lot of women will find fascinating include:

  1. The Real Equality Checklist
  2. What Really Gives Me Confidence
  3. All the Lists of My Life

So my lads and lasses, grab a cuppa (cup of tea), enjoy some fish and chips (or as we call it here in Wisconsin a Friday night fish fry with French fries), ring up your mates (call your besties), and keep calm and carry on (Netflix and chill). Caitlin Moran is back and better than ever!

P.S. Moran’s sister works at a perfume shop and she let Moran smell the fragrance David Bowie wore and Moran claimed it smelled of pineapple and platinum. Well, I know what pineapple smells like, but what about platinum? What does platinum smell like? I suppose it smells cool and metallic. But this Bowie were talking about. I bet it smells warm and ever ch, ch, ch, changing to whatever we desire. For me this would smell of a special amber oil in my possession, vanilla as I pour it into some cookie batter, a match after I blow it out, the lavender growing in a mug on my window sill, freshly made bread, the pages within a book, my mother’s chicken soup, and yes, bacon.

Taking One for the Team: Crippled America- How to Make America Great Again by Donald Trump

Crippled_America_-_How_to_Make_America_Great_AgainNow do you really think I could take one for the team without reviewing a book by the GOP’s presidential nominee Donald Trump? Of course not. Initially, I thought of reviewing Trump’s classic The Art of the Deal. But decided to check out Crippled America: How to Make Great Again because this idea of making America great again is Trump’s campaign slogan, and according to the bloviating Cheeto, only he is capable of making the good old US of A great again.

And boy, in Crippled America Trump never fails to remind you of this…

Now I’m not exactly naïve. I know damn well Donald did not write this book; he can barely handle writing a decent Tweet. Most likely he hired a ghost writer to write Crippled America basing this tome on Trump’s speeches, interviews, and yes, his Tweets.  Well, I can say one thing good thing about Trump; he’s keeping ghost writers in business. They can use the paycheck.

Okay, onto the book…

After a preface called “You Gotta Believe”, Crippled America is divided into 17 short chapters focusing on several key issues: 1) Winning Again 2) Our “Unbiased” Political Media (the quotes are in the text of the book) 3) Immigration: Good Walls Make Good Neighbors 4) Foreign Policy: Fighting for Peace 5) Education: A Failing Grade 6) The Energy Debate: A Lot of Hot Air 7) Healthcare is Making Us All Sick 8) It’s Still the Economy, Stupid 9) Nice Guys Can Finish First 10) Lucky to Be an American 11) The Right to Bear Arms 12) Our Infrastructure is Crumbling 13) Values 14) A New Game in Town 15) Teaching the Media Dollars and Sense 16) A Tax Code That Works 17) Making America Great Again

Now I have to give The Donald some credit. He is quite right on certain things that need attending to here is the good old USA, including our schools, our healthcare system, our infrastructure, our economy and our treatment of our returning veterans. However, these are mere talking points and he never gives us solid, key evidence of how he can solve this other than using the Trump Brand.

You might ask yourself, “Okay, Donald. Just what is crippling America?” And unless you’ve been taking a very long nap, what’s crippling America are the very things Donald has been spewing about ever since he threw his hat into the political ring last year. And pretty much what he says are the same things political pundits spew about on everything from FOX News to AM radio to various Sarah Palin’s word salads vented via her social media. They include:

President Obama, Hillary Clinton, most Democrats and other assorted liberals, Congress, Muslims, immigrants, unions, the media, public schools, science and scientists concerned with climate change, and big government (well, any form of government actually)

Not surprising President Obama isn’t Trump’s favorite person. After all, Trump was a total birther who doubted the validity of the President’s birth here in the United States even after Obama presented his long-form birth certificate. He pretty much hates Obama, blaming him for everything from our relations to foreign countries to our healthcare woes to our piss poor public schools.

Other conservative talking points Trump pukes up within the confines of Crippled America is the threat of China’s booming economy and American companies outsourcing jobs to China (like Apple) without taking responsibility for outsourcing many Trump-related products to China. He just says they are good practices for him because they help him save money.

His take on energy is pretty much the same as Sarah Palin’s, “drill baby, drill,” while dismissing various green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines. He is also a denier of climate change and doesn’t seem to give a rip about anything environmentally-sound.

His only solution when it comes to our troubled healthcare system is to completely repeal and dismantle the Affordable Care Act while not offering any valid concepts and ideas on how we can offer good healthcare options that serve the public’s best interests.

At blame for our educational systems is mostly teachers and teacher unions. He blames government interference for our troubled economy, and doesn’t even brooch the issues of Wall Street greed, big business malfeasance and stagnant wages hindering the average American’s spending power. He talks about religious freedom but only how it affects good Christians like himself. As for Muslims? Well, you don’t have to read Crippled America to know how feels about Muslims. And his take on immigration is pretty much “Mexicans suck. Close the borders.” He is a huge fan of the second amendment and brags about having guns and doesn’t even want to discuss the most benign arguments for gun control.

Now how would Trump solve these problems that cripple our Nation? Well, he doesn’t exactly offer any salient policy, thoughtful ideas and solid evidence other than the various buildings and golf courses he has built around the world as if that is the same thing as running the United States. Though he does offer some ideas on making our tax code simpler, you’ve probably heard or read of these ideas elsewhere. Trump hardly breaks new ground.

Trump’s ego is all over Crippled America. He brags about his business acumen, never bringing up the failures of Trump University, Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka and other Trump-related beverages, Trump magazine, Trump’s line at Macy’s, various casinos and not to mention, his bankruptcies. He also brags of his family values, which is rather rich coming from a man on his third marriage and a known adulterer.

Crippled America is pretty much one big brag fest for Trump. As I mentioned offers no policies, ideas, evidence and careful research on how he would truly act if he was President. Furthermore, Crippled America is devoid of any endnotes or footnotes pointing out solid proof of what plagues America and why these issues plague America. If I handed in an essay in college written is such a flimsy manner I would have received a much deserved grade F.

You know, if Trump wasn’t running for the most important job in the world, I would just laugh over this book. But Trump is running for president and this chills me to my tailbone. The President of United States is not the same as being at the helm of a cheesy reality show. It is a job that requires wisdom, an open-mind to differences in race, gender, sexual identity, ethnicity, religious affiliation and differing ideas and opinions, diplomacy and empathy, the ability to see several sides to an issue, the aptitude to handle a crisis, excellent communication skills (especially listening), and other skills Donald just doesn’t seem to have or is willing to develop. Oh, being the President also requires a full understanding of the Constitution and its amendments, the Bill of Rights and how the three branches of government work. Wait, does Trump even know we have three branches of government?

When you think about, running for President is a job interview, the most important job interview I can imagine. Do you think you’d get a job if you spent your entire interview saying horrible things about women, Muslims, immigrants, your competition, or made fun of a disabled person?

I didn’t think so.

Trump sums up Crippled America, not with his tax returns, but with his so-called personal financials, and offers an “about the author” page that goes on for 17 pages. Yes, 17 pages. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount wasn’t 17 pages long.

In the end I can sum up Crippled America in 17 words: I survived reading Donald Trump’s Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. No liquor was involved.

Book Review: Under the Affluence-Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America by Tim Wise

under the affluenceEvery once in while there comes a book that makes me want to shout from the roof tops, “Everybody, please read this book if you truly care about humanity and society!” Tim Wise’s book Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America, is one such book. And though it may sound melodramatic, I truly think Mr. Wise’s book is an excellent primer on exactly why our nation seems so skewed, confused and messed-up, especially during one of our most scary, yet important presidential election years ever.

Scholar, activist and writer, the aptly named Tim Wise, has focused on societal issues since college and one of his first jobs was working against former KKK grand wizard, David Duke’s presidential bid. Since then Wise has worked on behalf of many progressive causes and has written several books, Under the Affluence being his latest.

In 2016 Wise wonders why do we (as a nation and a society) shame the poor (and let’s face it, anyone who isn’t mega wealthy) while praising the super-rich? And what does that say about us and what impact is this having on society?

Wise calls this detestable movement “Scroogism,” and, yes, based on Ebenezer Scrooge from the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. And it is a theme that has shaped our thinking about the haves vs. the have-nots and have-lessers, much of it encouraged by big business, Wall Street, billionaires and millionaires, CEOs, the radical right political pundits, the current state of the GOP, conservative Christianity, mainstream media and often, ourselves. And yes, that includes the have-nots and have-lessers. And Wise offers evidence through nearly 40 pages of end notes to give gravitas to Under the Affluence.

Under the Affluence and its theme of Scroogism is divided into three well-researched, scholarly, yet audience friendly, maddening, heartbreaking and in the end, cautiously hopeful chapters. These chapters include:

  1. Pulling Apart-The State of Disunited America
  2. Resurrecting Scrooge-Rhetoric and Policy in a Culture of Cruelty
  3. Redeeming Scrooge-Fostering a Culture of CompassionIn Resurrecting Scrooge,

Wise carefully researches how in the 21st century the United States is a society that bashes the poor, blames victims, the unemployed and underemployed, embraces a serious lack of compassion and celebrates cruelty while putting the wealthy and the powerful on a pedestal. And Wise examines the origins of class and cruelty in the United States, the ideas of the Social Gospel and FDR’s New Deal, the myths and realities of the War on Poverty from its inception to Reaganism (and how liberals responded), and the concept how culture of cruelty affects who receives justice and who receives nothing at all except horrifically de-humanizing insults, both in rhetoric and reality. It is probably these two chapters that truly stirred my rage, and at times, I had to put Under the Affluence down and take a few deep breaths.But just as I was about to chuck Under the Affluence across the room and spend a week in the corner rocking back and forth, I read the final chapter, and felt a bit of hope. Perhaps, as nation things aren’t as bleak as they seem. In this chapter, Wise reminds us to look for possible roadblocks on the way of redemption. He also mentions that besides facts, use storytelling because behind every fact there is a very human face with a story that must be heard. He behooves us to create “a vision of a culture of a compassion” and how we can help communities to control their destiny.

Now, I am a realist. I know for the most part Under the Affluence is a book that preaches to the choir, especially in 2016. But maybe, just maybe, Under the Affluence will open minds, soften hearts and act an agent for, as Elvis Costello so aptly put it, “peace, love and understanding.” Under the Affluence is not only one of the most important books to come out in 2016; it is one of the most important books to come out in the 21st century.

Wise also takes a look at the world of the working poor and the non-working rich, the myth of meritocracy, horribly mean-spirited remarks, much of it coming from the radical right, including pundits and politicians, excessive CEO and big business pay, the devaluing of work that truly benefits all of society-nursing, teaching social work, protecting the public, improving our infrastructure, creating art, taking care of the elderly and disabled, and so on. And let’s not forget the very valuable work that doesn’t pay-parenting, eldercare, volunteering, etc.

In Pulling Apart, Wise takes a hardcore look at our current state of joblessness, wage stagnation, underemployment and how they affect us in this stage of “post-recession recovering” America. He investigates today’s realities and the long-term effects of income and wealth inequality. Wise contemplates who and what caused these problems and how race, class and economics are involved.

Readin’, Writin’ and Rantin’: Alexis Bloomer-“Like, Talkin’ About My, ‘Like, Generation.”

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” – Socrates (469-399 B.C.)

The more things change, the more things stay the same. Sure, it’s a cliché, but often clichés are very true. Generations from the beginning of time have always looked at each other side-eyed with apprehension. They have made rude comments about each other, often the elder generation telling the young whippersnappers to get off their lawn, which is why Socrates’ (or as Bill and Ted might put it—Socrates Johnson) quote is both timeless and timely.

As if you can’t tell, I am a card carrying member of Generation X, a member of the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” demographic. And I’ve spent plenty of time calling Baby Boomers some choice names (“sellouts!”) and have joked about Millennials (“the vape cigarette is the man bun for the mouth”). But in the end, we’re all together in “this thing we call life” (RIP Prince). Plenty of good, bad and ugly can be found in all generations.

That brings me to Alexis Bloomer, Millennial-aged TV anchor and journalist based in Texas. A couple of weeks ago she posted a video of her pointing a finger at her generation, accusing them of being the worst generation that ever existed. The video went viral and Ms. Bloomer has been interviewed by several media outlets (most famous being Fox News). Some people think Ms. Bloomer’s speech (done in her car and filmed by her smart phone while she obviously reads off a written script), is the equivalent of Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech. For some of you who haven’t heard of Ms. Bloomer and her soul-stirring speech, here is a quick link:

“Dear Elders, I’m Sorry”

 

Now whereas, many people supported Ms. Bloomer and her rant, many have come forward to tell her she’s got some nerve to paint one entire generation with a generic brush. And I’m going to join the latter.

First off, Ms. Bloomer eviscerates her fellow Millennials for not having basic good manners, saying “yes, sir” and “Yes, ma’am.” She claims her generation doesn’t hold doors open for ladies or show any basic respect. Are there Millennials who have no concept of graciousness and class? Of course, but you’ll find rude people in all demographics. And has Ms. Bloomer seen the behavior of both Donald Trump (Baby Boomer) and Ted Cruz (Generation X)? Definitely not Miss Manners (Silent Generation) approved.

Obscene music? Has Alexis Bloomer ever heard of “I Shot the Sheriff” a song done by both Eric Clapton and Bob Marley and The Wailers? Did she know the Johnny Cash lyric, “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die” or “Fuck tha Police” by NWA? Misogyny also has a musical history with songs like “Under My Thumb” by the Rolling Stones, “I Used to Love Her” by Guns ‘n Roses, and “Bitches Ain’t Shit” by Dr. Dre.

And of course, music has always sung the praises of carnal pleasure in such songs like Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and Liz Phair’s “F**k and Run.” Prince’s “Darling Nikki” got busy with a magazine and Cyndi Lauper extolled the virtues of female masturbation (or as I like to call it Rubbin’ Hood) in “She-Bop.” And when Nina Simone sang about wanting some “Sugar in Her Bowl” well she wasn’t talking about a sugar bowl you find on the kitchen table.

Ms. Bloomer also wags her finger at her generation for their love of cursing just to prove a point. People have been cussing since the beginning of time. Has she ever heard of Lenny Bruce or George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words?” Heck, even my grandma said shit!

Speaking of language, Ms. Bloomer isn’t fond of Millennials and their slang like “bae.” Please, all generations define themselves by their own unique language from 23-skidoo to neato keen to groovy to tubular to sick, and so on. (Somehow fetch never happened).

In her rant, Ms. Bloomer also accuses Millennials for idolizing the wrong people like the Kardashians as if no previous generation ever idolized certain celebrities. Fabian, David Cassidy, Vanilla Ice and Tiffany all had their fans and then pretty much disappeared.

Millennials are also lazy, entitled and don’t care about serving their country according to Ms. Bloomer, which is ironic considering she didn’t seem to put much work into her rant and she looks like she’s gunning for a position at Fox News. Back in the 1990s Generation X-ers were called slackers. And not serving their country? Well, just who does Ms. Bloomer think has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan? The Greatest Generation? And let’s not forget all the wonderful Millennials whose volunteer work enhances our communities.

Watching this rant (and also spending some of my time in the journalistic realm) I just knew there was a story behind the story. So I did some investigating to find out more about Alexis Bloomer.

For someone who scolds her generation for their addiction to the Internet and social media, Ms. Bloomer has quite a presence on both. She has both a personal website and several social media accounts. There is nothing wrong with having a personal website or working with social media; I have both. But Ms. Bloomer’s website and social media accounts have all the depth of a Jimmy Choo in-step. Ms. Bloomer seems more about making herself a brand rather than showing any evidence of solid journalistic work. Her Facebook page alone shows just a smattering of her interviewing rodeo riders and countless posts about fashion, jewelry, her personal PR appearances, professional photos that look more like cheesy boudoir photography and countless selfies including shots of her possibly fake breasts and belly ring. I’m sure iconic journalist Nelly Bly did the same thing. Oh, no, she didn’t! She was actually a ground-breaking reporter that paved the way for generations of women! I am a card-carrying feminist, but with the likes of Alexis Bloomer no wonder my favorite journalist is Bill Moyers.

And for every stereotypical Millennial Ms. Bloomer paints with a very broad brush, there are countless Millennials doing wonderful things, some well-known some living in obscurity. One Millennial I truly like and admire is Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter (now with CNN) Sara Granim who helped break the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky child molestation case.

As I mentioned, generations have always complained about one another, and this was often reflected in pop culture, especially in television. In the 1970s we had All in the Family. In the 1980s we had Family Ties. And now in the modern age we have Black-ish. Hmm, All in the Family, Family Ties, Black-ish? Sound like Kardashian-related shows.

And what will happen to Alexis Bloomer? Well, Fox News is probably looking for another addition to its roster of standard-issue blondes. But most likely Alexis Bloomer will be this year’s answer to Nicole Arbour and her “Dear Fat People” rant. Nicole Arbor? Who? “Dear Fat People?” What?

Exactly.

 

Taking One For the Team: The Flipside of Feminism-What Conservative Women Know and Men Can’t Say

flipside to feminismIt’s no secret to anyone familiar with my little place on the Internet that I am a liberal, progressive feminist, and I don’t apologize for it. But in a presidential year that is both historical and hysterical, I can’t help but be intrigued by conservative, right-winged, anti-feminist types. So, I’ve decided to take one the team, and read books written by these anti-me creatures and post my reviews for a new series I call Taking One For the Team. You’re very welcome. Here is my first effort.

Oh those irksome feminists with their abortion parties, man hating conventions and false accusations of rape. Feminists focus so much on frivolous things like equal pay for equal work, voting rights, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. Feminists, who are so hell-bent on power, they control the media, the workplace, families, government, education, Hollywood, sports, and religion. Feminists want to destroy! Destroy, I say!

Well, I don’t think feminists want to destroy much of anything other than strict patriarchy. But Phyllis Schlafly and her niece Suzanne Venker are quite certain feminists are a destructive bunch. And both of them try to convince us with their book Bitches Ain’t Shit. Oops, I mean, The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know and Men Can’t Say.

Many of you know Phyllis Schlafly. During feminism’s second wave, Phyllis spoke out publicly against the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) and pesky women libbers. Phyllis claimed to be simple housewife who treated politics as a hobby. But Phyllis wasn’t content to work the election polls in between loads of laundry. Married to a wealthy man, Phyllis had domestic help, is a Harvard educated lawyer, and a prolific writer and lecturer. She ran for Congress when her eldest child was a toddler and campaigned against feminism and the ERA when her youngest was in junior high and high school. Does that sound like a simple housewife to you? Nope, that sounds like a woman who benefited from feminism.

And who is Suzanne Venker? Not quite as well-known as her aunt, Suzanne has also authored several books and is a contributor to Fox News. She’s also just as smug as Phyllis. In the opening of The Flipside of Feminism, Suzanne assumes the reason why she’s a conservative, and therefore superior to liberal feminazis, is because she was raised by members of the Greatest Generation, not the Baby Boom generation. Yes, the reason why you feminists smoked the pot, had premarital sex, and now vote for Democrats is because you were raised by Steve and Elise Keaton, not Archie and Edith Bunker.

Suzanne wastes no time mentioning that her mother, Auntie Phyllis, and other assorted anti-feminists didn’t need feminism to obtain an education or a career. Well, that may be true for them, but plenty of women were denied education and careers simply because they were women. My own maternal grandmother was denied a high school education because she had to go to work at 14 to help support her family and an education was considered a waste on a girl. However, Suzanne would disregard my grandmother’s experience and others just like her. In fact, Suzanne and Phyllis arrogantly ignore their own privilege throughout this entire book and assume other women are simply not as smart, hard-working, or talented as them.

Suzanne and Phyllis also assume women turned to feminism because a handful of them, notably Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, experienced dysfunctional childhoods or rocky marriages, and society should not pay the price for their maladjustment. Gee, nice show of compassion ladies. As if conservatives never experienced crappy childhoods or bad marriages.

Speaking of marriage, feminists love divorce according to Suzanne and Phyllis. We love divorce so much we want to marry it! However, there is no examination why some feminists concerned themselves with divorce. Nor is does this book mention conservatives who are divorced like Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura.

Feminists may love divorce but we hate marriage and motherhood. We want to replace being supported by our husbands with being supported by taxpayers. And as for feminists demeaning motherhood, I just think feminism was brave enough admit motherhood wasn’t all sunshine and daisies for some women. You know who I think demeans motherhood? Michelle Duggar, who seems to see her children as accessories, not full human beings (though one is disgusting sister-molesting pervert and a cheating man whore). And we all know Michelle would never wear “This is What Feminist Looks Like” T-shirt.

What else? Well, feminists demand Title IX, which opened up athletic opportunities for girls, because guys who play sports are usually conservative (yea, right). We hate men but somehow are responsible for irresponsible sexual hook-ups. We lie about rape and sexual harassment. And companies are struggling because we want to earn the same pay as men for doing the same exact job. The nerve!

And who are these horrible feminists? Well, according the authors, feminists fit into two camps, radical feminists (Andrea Dworkin) and media feminists (Katie Couric, Oprah). Feminists are can be found in large urban areas like Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. Feminist want nothing more than to rip off a Montana born and bred housewife’s apron and replace it with a hard hat. Phyllis and Suzanne can’t imagine feminists who live in fly over country, bake cookies, work regular jobs, cherish their families, and include women, men, and children.

At the end of The Flipside of Feminism, Phyllis and Suzanne offer tips on how to combat the evil effects of feminism. One of my favorites? Educate your son how feminism has harmed society and encourage them to seek out conservative women. So if that cool chick your son meets in his French Literature class has a playlist filled with Ani DiFranco downloads he should run far away and date that simpering lass who owns a tattered copy of Fascinating Womanhood.

I must give Phyllis and Suzanne some credit. They write with total conviction; they don’t hem and haw. And I can imagine some people reading this book thinking feminism is the other “F-word.” However, people with critical thinking skills will be able to read between the lines and realize Suzanne and Phyllis are just a couple of snotty and selfish Queen Bees. They are all three “Heathers,” and the rest of just a bunch of “Martha Dumptrucks”.