Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Short HIstory of Mother's Day in the USA

Mother's Day in the US begins after the Civil War as a protest against War in general. The "official" unofficial begins with Julia Ward Howe's "Mother's Day Proclamation" (1870).
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Like most good social protests, the establishment stole the symbol of Mother's Day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official Mother's Day as a day "for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war," which seems to counter the original purpose as this legitimizes war.

And now for something completely different:
Yesterday, the House attempted to pass a resolution to celebrate Mothers. This occurs all of the time at the state and federal level. For example, Sue Myrick honored The Nature Boy Rick Flair; Congress honored Islam; Congress honored the Discovery astronauts; Congress honored Mary Eliza Mahoney, America's first African-American Nurse. Usually, this is quick, feel-good legislative work that makes constituents feel better.

Yet, every once in a while, the minority party does something stupid like block one of these ceremonial pieces of legislation to ensure another goal. Since the Republicans delayed the vote on the ceremonial legislation there was not time to debate and discuss the mortgage relief and the war funding bills. This means that Republicans voted against Mothers to delay economic relief for the poor and middle class and to perpetuate the war. Good move!!! And they will be rewarded in the fall.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Republicans Against Mothers

I know what you are thinking Oxymoron but this is not from the Onion. The Washington Post has an article on how republicans are against mothers and, ironically, they voted for it before they voted against it. The title of this article reads, "Republicans Vote Against Moms; No word yet on puppies, kittens."

The story? Read for yourself....

Because I Just Can't Let Eight Belles Go...

and, if you did, here's a reason to think about her again.

Here's a short Time article about almost everything we at the situation have been talking about as of late, with the exception of politics:

But it's only fair to point out that breeders aren't a solitary priesthood. They flip horses the way real estate speculators once flipped condos. With dollar signs in their eyes, they savor 2- and 3-year-old horses, exactly the way the fashion industry looks at long-stemmed 14-year-old girls, exactly the way the celebrity culture gazes on Britney and Lindsay and Miley, exactly the way shoe-company reps scrutinize boys on basketball courts. Horses, fashion models, teen stars--they're all produced for maximum profit.

Every market needs buyers as well as sellers, and that's where the rest of us come in. If horse breeders have stopped raising animals that are sound for the long run, it's because the audience for mature racehorses--like the audience for maturity in general--has vanished. Seabiscuit, over his 89-race career, drew huge crowds season after season. By contrast, this year's Derby winner, Big Brown, will command the public eye for two months at best, retiring after the Belmont Stakes in June. Provided he lives that long.

So it's about our obsession with youth as much as anything else. I think this is spot on. Unfortunately.


Senator Obama now leads Senator Clinton in pledged delegates, popular vote, and Superdelegates.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Comment to Harrogate and His Best Buddy

Well, I'm not sure what it means, but at least Best Buddy has taste in music. Here's Sweet Baby J's current favorite. I'm not impressed:

However, she also likes this one, which is some comfort:

Durand's "Progress (The Advance of Civilization)" (1853)

At the learned suggestion of Paperweight Harrogate checked out this painting early in the week. Interesting to compare with the Gast piece that Harrogate posted a while back. Here is a blurb Harrogate found on the piece:

In “Progress” an imaginary topography suggesting the Catskills and the Hudson River is replete with villages, farms, steamboats and a railroad. A dazzling city sits near the horizon, struck by the light from a benignly expansive sky. In the not-so-pretty foreground, a hardscrabble road leads out of the picture, and a clutch of American Indians survey the alarming scene from a rock in a forest area packed into the lower left corner of the canvas.

Dr. P.W., et. al: Thoughts on the blurb? On the painting?

A Brief Word on Harrogate's Best Buddy and the Ubiquitous Garnett/Gatorade Commercial

So, Harrogate admits it, he has once again against his better judgment subjected himself to the NBA playoffs. There are more reasons not to watch NBA Basketball, according to Harrogate's Aesthetic Rubric, than there are reasons to watch it, though good reasons there be.

Perhaps before this whole weird spectacle mercifully ends in June, Harrogate will elaborate on some of those "Pros and Cons."

But that is not really what this current literary outburst is about. What this is about, mostly, is the ritual Harrogate and his Best Buddy have developed each night, "cuddle time" before bed, watching basketball, cheering at every made shot, helpfully chanting "almost" at every miss, until Best Buddy begins to drowse off for real.

But there is one thing Best Buddy will not stand for, no matter what time of day it is. If the television is on, and this commercial right here comes on, there must be no distracting him. Verily, he stops everything and watches, mouth open. Gee, Best Buddy, thinks Harrogate to himself, the commercial is good, but it aint that good. So what we have here is perhaps the first subtle artistic disagreement betwixt Harrogate and his Best Buddy.

And so. Does his mesmeric state before it mean he will be a great athelete? A great musical composer?


Harrogate reports. Ye decide.

A VP for Barack (An Open Letter to Senator Obama)

Okay, Barack, it looks like you've wrapped up the nomination. Not that you're taking anything for granted--we know, we know--but still, it's looking better than good. And even if you swear up and down that you haven't thought about it, we all know you're seriously considering candidates for the Vice Presidency.

I've got to tell you, Barack, it took a lot for me not to support the first viable woman for the presidency. It would have felt really great. But I believe in you, Barack, so throw me a bone here. If not Hillary--and I understand that there's some bad blood there, plus the shadow of Bill--then give me a female VP I can get behind.

Here's a suggestion: Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. A two-time Democratic winner in her state,

At the heart of Governor Sebelius’ administration is a commitment to growing the Kansas economy and creating jobs; ensuring every Kansas child receives a quality education; protecting Kansas families and communities; improving access to quality, affordable health care; and taking advantage of the state’s renewable energy assets.
Governor Sebelius serves on the National Governors Association’s Executive Committee and is co-chair of the National Governors Association’s initiative, Securing a Clean Energy Future. Sebelius chairs the Education Commission of the States and as past chair of the Democratic Governors Association, she currently serves on the DGA Executive Committee.

She's already on your side, having endorsed you several months ago. Kansas went for Bush in 2004 and 2000, but Sebelius on the ticket would probably ensure you the state's electorate. (It's only six votes, but you've shown that those smallish Midwestern states really add up.)

So just consider it. And check the comments section for this post. I bet the rest of the Situation bloggers will have other suggestions.

The Michigan Problem....and Electability

First, Michigan Democrats agreed to a plan that would split the Democratic Presidential Delegates 69 - 59 in favor of Senator Clinton, allowing the delegates to be seated at the convention.

The Obama campaign agreed to the terms of the deal. However, the Clinton Campaign rejected this proposal because it would not include the popular vote.

This is a "Heads I win, tails you lose" scenario for her. If she accepted the proposal, then that would guarantee her loss in the primary today no matter what happens between now and the convention. Of course, since she rejected the deal, her argument, and ethos, over seating Michigan and Florida takes a major hit as she rejected a proposal that would seat one of the states. It is hard to argue that you want to make sure the voices have been heard and reject deals that would make that possible. Just ask the Obama campaign.

As long as she argues from a position of weakness, she will most likely not get a better deal on this matter.

Second, the Clinton campaign believes publicly that Senator Obama cannot win in November. Yet, for Clinton to win the nomination, there would need to be intra-party chaos from now until the convention, which conventional wisdom suggest that the Democrats would not be able to win in the General Election. Maybe privately the Clintons believe differently. A Reasonable interpretation of their actions would be that the Clinton campaign believes a Democrat will win no matter who the nominee and no matter when the nomination is secured. If the Clintons are political realists, this would be the only way for them to stay in the race now and jeopardize a possible 2012 run. It appears 2008 may be their best chance for the White House.

The best movie never viewed in the theaters

It is the 15th Anniversary of True Romance. To celebrate the cult flick, Maxim has a interview with the cast. It is a good read.

This has to be one of the best casts to ever appear in a single move. And it has some of the best lines ever for a movie.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Do we really want FL's vote to count after this?

Be careful out there all you educators.

12:11 am: May the General Election Begin

The race is over.

Politico reports that Senator Clinton loaned her campaign more money. On MSNBC, Tim Russert reports that she canceled her TV appearances on the Wednesday morning shows and other public appearances.

At this point, Indiana is too close to call with 8% of the vote left to tally. The problem for Senator Clinton is that Lake County, the northwest corner of the state, has not fully reported its vote tally. With 28% of the vote counted, Obama cut a 40,000+ lead down to 20,000. To say this county will go to Obama is an understatement. Further, there are three more counties out: a sparsely populated county that Clinton will win and two larger counties that Obama will win.

Senator Obama may not win Indiana but Senator Clinton will not continue the race. A few Super Delegates will approach her tomorrow when her campaign meets.

****Update: Senator Clinton still has some public appearances today, with stops in West Virginia and a fundraiser tonight. However, her chances are still grim as not many will be donating to her campaign and her campaign email last night did not ask her supporters for money. The AP, via Politico, reports that Senator Clinton loaned her campaign $6.4 million last month.

In his speech last night, Senator Obama reached out to Senator Clinton to help bridge the divide between the two candidates and their supporters. In her speech, Senator Clinton presented two themes, one on winning and one on unity, though the second theme was not as clear. Look for Senator Obama to continue to ask for reconciliation. As for Senator Clinton, if she desires to continue, she will attack Senator Obama in West Virginia. If she knows that she will not be the nominee, look for her to attack only Senator McCain and graciously walk out of the campaign in case she wants to run at a future time. If she attacks Obama in the next two weeks, knowing that she cannot be the nominee, she will not be able to run again in the future. The negative campaigning is over.

What to expect from here: By May 20th, Senator Obama will win the majority of pledged delegates. To secure the nomination, a candidate needs to win the majority of total delegates 2,025. By the primary in Oregon, look for Senator Obama to clinch the nomination. A deal will be in place for Michigan and Florida by that time.

****Update Two: On a conference call, the Clinton campaign played the racial bloc voting card-- Senator Obama cannot win white voters. This may not be over as the Clinton campaign may try to run up the score in Kentucky and West Virginia.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Call For Unity

In light of tonights events, I would like to issue a a call for unity between the esteemed Democratic presidential nominees. This would entail that the senators meet upon some symbolically important location where Sen. Clinton will withdraw from the race and give her "full" backing and support to Sen. Obama. To further seal the deal and in order to appease the their backers, the senators should have metaphoric make-up sex (lets face do you really want to see either of them go at it?) in front of the party representatives and the gathered public to show that they have now kissed and made-up.

The Gas Tax Primaries....

The double-header will be a split as Senator Clinton will win Indiana by an estimated of 4 - 5 % and Senator Obama will win North Carolina by 10 - 15%. With the double-digit lead in North Carolina, Senator Obama will erase most if not all Senator Clinton's advantage in Pennsylvania from 4/22 in both delegate count and popular vote. Senator Clinton will most likely not be able to take the lead in pledged delegates or the popular vote.

Of course, what does this mean?
First, tonight is a victory for Senator Obama. Senator Clinton needed both states to make a claim to the nomination. Further, she needed to avoid a blowout. Neither happened. After tonight, the nomination is further from her grasp as her only argument is "electability" and not pledged delegates or popular vote. In a sisyphean sense, this means that the race for the nomination has not changed since the beginning of March. Though the goalposts seem to be changing, the candidates positions have not.

Second, the exit polls suggest that the divisions between the Clinton supporters and the Obama supporters is growing. Time may heal the division but it will take a lot of time. This suggests that there may be some Super Delegate movement this week. If they were to declare for Senator Clinton they would have done so by now and, with a double-digit loss, Senator Clinton may not be able to hold them in place.

Third, the division and the closeness of the race may suggest a Unity ticket. I still think that because of the apathy between the candidates and the specter of Bill hanging over the ticket, this will not happen as prominent Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi, object to this. If anything, look for the nominee to seriously consider, if not ask, a prominent surrogate from the other party.

Fourth, with losses tonight, if Senator Clinton believes she can still win the nomination she must invoke some "nuclear option" on Senator Obama by Oregon on May 20th or when the DNC credential committee meets on 5/31 to discuss Michigan and Florida. Clinton will win Kentucky and West Virginia in the next two weeks. However, if she loses Oregon and does not do well with Michigan and Florida, her probability of wining will be close to zero. Of course, if Super Delegates commit publicly, then this option becomes meaningless.

Fifth, a few commentators on MSNBC state that Senator Obama can clinch the nomination by May 20th. This means that the delegate count is 2025 (without Michigan and Florida). If this were the case, then the decision on Michigan and Florida does not matter. Symbolically, this is very important as the the DNC prize has been 2025 though Clinton campaign wants the media to adopt a new standard that includes Michigan and Florida. If Obama reaches 2025 before the media and the people acknowledge another threshold, it would be impossible to take the nomination away. Consequently, Senator Clinton must push for Michigan and Florida before Senator Obama announces 25 - 50 Super Delegates. This is the only race that matters.

Sixth, the speaking situations tonight will be interesting as Senator Obama must begin calls for unity. On the other hand, Senator Clinton may continue to attack or she may begin to pull back the reins, though even if she attacks her campaign may reassess in the morning.

McCain's Judicial Philosophy

While most people in the free world anxiously await the results of the Gas Tax Primaries, John McCain delivered a speech at Wake Forest on his Judicial Philosophy. The speech follows the traditional conservative "god-terms" of judicial restraint, activist judges, democratic decisions, and "devil terms" of international law, the constitutions of other nations, the meaning of life, evolving standards of decency, penumbras, and emanations.

If this speech represents his views, McCain does not possess a deep philosophy. For example, though McCain praises the god-terms of judicial restraint and democratic decisions, he derides the Supreme Court for its decision in Kelo v. City of New London, the eminent domain case from Connecticut. While this case certainly seems like an abuse of power by the New London, the city officials proceeded through democratic means and reforms in response to the decision have developed through democratic means. This is how democracy works. Instead of attacking this decision, McCain ought to praise this decision because the Supreme Court followed his god-terms. But that would take intellectual honesty and require him to cross his political backers.

So what does this mean?
First, this speech certainly reflects McCain's need and desire to appeal to the Religious Right. To do this means he may lose some Republicans and Independents by creating rhetorical demons over the "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" on the currency.

Second, there is no discussion of how to interpret the Constitution. Instead, McCain provides examples of what is right politically and, hence, legally (the Religious cases, Kelo, etc). McCain offers the standard line of Alito and Roberts as a model but does not note how they read the Constitution in any principled method.

Third, if Democrats need a way to create unity, this speech ought to work for the fall.

The Profession of Women

The following is an excerpt from Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe's The American Woman's Home: or Principle's of Domestic Science; Being a Guide to the Formation and Maintenance of Economical, Healthful, Beautiful, and Christian Homes, which was originally published in 1869.

It is the aim of this volume to elevate both the honor and the renumeration of all employments that sustain the many and varied duties of the family state, and thus to render each department of woman's profession as much desired and respected as are the most honored professions of men.

I read this a little while ago, and it struck me for some reason. Most of Beecher's writings (and Stowe's to a lesser extent) argue that motherhood is as valuable as any male dominated profession (keep in mind she wrote throughout the 19th century). In her time, she was revolutionary for advocating that women needed to be properly educated to complete domestic labor; for her such an education included mathematics, economics, science, and physical education. The rhetoric of it is interesting to me, as Beecher and Stowe focus on equality but maintain that women and men should focus on very different professions.

Pro-Choice Politics

MSNBC reports that the National Right to Life group is Robocalling Indiana voters on behalf of Senator Clinton and against Senator Obama. You can read the transcript of the call at The Huffington Post or listen to the call on You Tube.

The evidence that the Clinton campaign teamed up with NRL is not "official" though pointing out that Senator Obama is pro-choice while not mentioning Senator Clinton and telling voters to vote against Senator Obama and not Senator Clinton seems to help the junior Senator from New York. Since Indiana has strict Robocalling laws this ad may be illegal.

In the beginning of the campaign, the perception was that Senator Obama was not pro-choice enough. Now, the reverse is true.

Monday, May 05, 2008

In "Lizzie" Melville's Words: A Day in the Life

Okay, so this excerpt is really long, so long that Harrogate almost didn't post it. But Harrogate thought it might interest several of the Board Members in terms of the letter's Rhetoric, its provision of an intimate glimpse-at-a-now-famous-couple, &c. Perhaps, too, the letter tangentially intersects with M's research interests in the configurations of domestic space.

Anyway. Harrogate is currently reading Andrew Delbanco's amazing Melville biography, which contains this fully excerpted letter written from Elizabeth Shaw Melville to her stepmother Hope Savage Shaw. Delbanco qualifies this letter with a passage that itself merits a block quote. The letter, dated December 1847, conveys:

the heady mood in those New York days, making as clear as decency would permit that she and her "industrious boy" took domestic but still flirtatious pleasure in each other as she managed the household while he threw himself into his writing

And here is the letter:

We breakfast at 8 o'clock, then Herman goes to walk, and I fly up to put his room to rights, so that he can sit down to his desk immediately on his return. The I bid him good bye, with many charges to be an industrious boy and not upset the inkstand, and then flourish the duster, make the bed, etc., in my own room. Then I go downstairs and read the papers a little while, and after that I am ready to sit down to my work--whatever it may be--darning stockings--making or mending for myself or Herman--at all events I haven't seen a day yet, without some sewing or other to do. If I have letters to write, as is the case to-day, I usually do them first--but whatever I am about, I do not much more than get thoroughly engaged in it, than ding-dong goes the bell for luncheon. This is half past 12 o'clock--by this time we must expect callers, and so must be dressed immediately after lunch. Then Herman insists upon my taking a walk of an hour's length at least. So unless I can have rain or snow for an excuse, I usually sally out and make a pedestrian tour a mile or two down Broadway. By the time I come home it is two o'clock and after, and then I must make myself look as bewitchingly as possible to meet Herman at dinner. This being accomplished, I have only about an hour of available time left. At four we dine, and after dinner is over, Herman and I come up to our room and enjoy a cosy chat for an hour or so--or he reads me some of the chapters he has been writing in the day. Then he goes down town for a walk, looks at the papers in the reading room, etc., and returns about half-past seven or eight. Then my work or my book is laid aside, and as he does not use his eyes by very little by candle light, I either read to him, or take a hand at whist for his amusement, or he listens to our reading or conversation, as best pleases him. For we all collect in the parlor in the evening, and generally one of us reads aloud for the benefit of the whole. Then we retire very early--at 10 o'clock we all disperse.

Eight Belles' Genetic Make-up

According to Washington Post reporter Andrew Breyer, Eight Belles' life-ending accident after Saturday's Kentucky Derby can be blamed on problems associated with breeding. It seems that horse breeders are less likely to breed horses to race them themselves; they now breed horses to sell them, which means they are more interested in a "perfect" horse and less interested in one that can weather the physical demands of horse racing.