A report from Ward 6, Saco, Maine

1613-saco-maine.jpgA dispatch from the Maine caucus from a Historiann family member in Saco: 

“My dears, I have just come home from Fairfield School and the Dem. caucus. It was interesting but long. . . . If my vote was dependant upon the speakers Hillary would get my vote.  A Saco State Rep. (female) gave an impassioned speech for her.  The chap who spoke for Barak Obama was deadly dull–fortunately my mind was made up [for Obama]!  Ward 6 (us) was evenly divided, 35 to 35, 4 delegates for each.  Now it goes to the state convention at the end of May.  At 6pm on the TV Obama is leading 52%-47%.  Tomorrow’s local rag will hopefully have a ward breakdown.  Ward 7 [also in Saco], Garside’s to the sea, had 5 Obama delegates to 3 Clinton.  Some wards went to classrooms, but we were in the gym with several other wards. . . a total firedrill.  It took nearly a half an hour to count the people in each ward and then match it up with the [votes]!  We needed a kindergarten teacher [to conduct a proper count.]”

UPDATE, MONDAY FEB. 11, our Maine relative reports the following:  “No ward breakdown in today’s local rag and the state Dem page is down.  Interestingly HRC won in Biddeford, Sanford and Lewiston, not surprisingly all mill towns and you know Biddeford [a working-class town], not as wealthy a population as Saco.  The most interesting fact is the number of voters who came out in bad weather:  42,000 plus 4000 absentee, breaking the record of 17,000 of 2004. Lines in Portland  were, at times, 3 blocks long.”

A good day for prodigies

eustace-tillarybama.JPGIt’s a good day to be a boy genius:  Barack Obama once again swept two big primaries and overwhelmed Hillary Clinton yesterday in a Southern state primary.  Now all eyes turn to the Eastward, to see which way the Maine caucus will go.  UPDATE:  As the nation goes, so goes Maine, at least this weekend?  Obama wins another caucus in a walk–so far, with 59 precincts reporting, it looks like 57-42 for Obama.

 In other boy genius news:  NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday featured an interesting bit of trivia:  this winter is the 150th anniversary of the popularization of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” as a wedding recessional.  The credit (or blame) goes to the planners of the wedding of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter Princess Victoria Adelaide Mary Louise to Frederick Wilhelm IV of Prussia, on January .  More interesting to me was the fact that Mendelssohn (1809-1847) composed the “Wedding March” as part his composition of music to accompany his favorite play, William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at the age of 17.

But as classical music historian Robert Greenberg says in the interview, Mendelssohn was already an accomplished mendelssohn1.jpgand ambitious composer who between the ages of 12 and 14 had composed four operas, twelve string symphonies, among others.  “He came from a wealthy banking family in Berlin, and his parents wanted only the best for their children,” Greenberg says in the interview.  “They were over-educated by any standards. Mendelssohn could speak multiple languages as a child, reading Homer in the original by the time he was 10. He was also an excellent water-colorist. Music was just another one of those things he mastered as a young man.”  It’s a good thing he accomplished so much at such young ages–he died at age 38 from a stroke.  Tragically, a stroke had killed his sister Fanny the previous year.  Brother and sister were very close–upon hearing of Fanny’s fatal stroke, Mendelssohn allegedly screamed and fainted away.  A rather Gothic flourish for a man known as the first of the great Romantic composers.

Do they kiss their daughters with those mouths?

I read this morning in the Denver Post that a State Representative here in Colorado, Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs, natch!called unwed teenage mothers “sluts” in a Republican caucus meeting Wednesday morning.  The Colorado Springs Gazette reported his comments, and to his credit, he apologized for his remarks on the floor of the House today.

Then, I click on over to Talking Points Memo for a little news fix, and I see that MSNBC’s David Shuster is taking heat for asking Bill Press last night, “doesn’t it seem like Chelsea [Clinton is] sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?” in the service of her mother’s campaign for the presidency.  (Would he have made the same observation about the Romney campaign’s “Five Brothers,” who have each spent most of the entire last year on the campaign trail for their Dad?  Should I stop asking questions to which I already know the answer?)  Shuster is supposedly going to offer an on-air apology today, too.

Grow up, boys.  I know teh Lady Parts make you really nervous and giggly sometimes, but get a grip.  Do you want your daughter talked about like that? 

UPDATE:  Shuster is temporarily suspended from all NBC broadcasts.  Wow–that was fast.  I guess that’s the difference between talking about “pimping” the daughter of a President, and say, calling the Rutgers University women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos.”  It took CBS nearly a week to fire Don Imus, but don’t worry folks:  he’s back on the air

Where can I get a high-fashion kevlar vest?

kevlar-vest.jpgTracy McGaugh at Feminist Law Professors points us to an excellent article analyzing threatening, violent, and/or murderous behavior by students.  The article is co-written by three scholars from different disciplines:  Helen Smith, a forensic psychologist, Sandra Thomas, a nursing professor, and Carol Parker, a law professor.  The title of the article is “Anger and Violence on Campus:  Recommendations for Legal Educators,” but their analysis and recommendations seem to me to apply to all college and university faculty and programs, and perhaps to high school faculty as well.  Read it, and consider passing it along to your department Chair or college Dean.

Historiann passes this along to you, gentle reader, because she’s been feeling more than a little vulnerable since the dreadful events at Virginia Tech last year.  My university is the V-Tech of Colorado, and Colorado is a state where almost anyone can obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun.  And when the state legistlature passed the concealed-carry law in 2003, it specifically excluded college campuses from the list of places one could not bring in a concealed weapon–K-12 schools, and quite conveniently, the Colorado State Capitol building are all on that list, but in universities we’re expected to shift for ourselves.  (In fact, the Capitol building just recently and permanently re-installed metal detectors because a disturbed man with a gun entered and threatened the Governor’s life before being gunned down himself last July 16.)

The only place where I take issue with Smith, Thomas, and Parker is in their conclusion, where they lay the blame on “aggressive role models in television, movies, videogames, and other popular media.”  They cite a persuasive recent longitudinal study, so I see that exposure to violent media is certainly one factor, but where is the discussion of gender and violence?  All school and university killers in the past several years have one thing in common:  they were all boys or men who had access to guns.  Most (but not all) tend to be younger rather than older, and the overwhelming majority of them have been white.  “Anger and Violence on Campus” cites a few examples of women law students who displayed inappropriate behavior to law professors, but it was only verbal aggression cited in the cases involving women students.  So, aggression and violence on campus is overwhelmingly a problem with angry young men who feel entitled to use guns against people they perceive to have wronged them.  Historiann herself has written about the highly gendered aspects of gun ownership in colonial America, so I am amazed that the connection between American masculinity and guns today hasn’t receieved more attention.  (Is the connection between men and guns so naturalized that we don’t question it?  Why doesn’t this alarm us more?)

woman-gun.jpgThe bottom line in this paper is that faculty members are largely on their own when it comes to dealing with crazed students.  Start packing heat, if that’s your style–and if you live in a concealed-carry permit state, then it’s all nice ‘n legal.  (Just be sure to disarm before you go pick up little Emma and Cody at school.)  If administrators at your school don’t take advice from Smith and Wesson, Thomas, and Parker, this article will at least arm you with a little more knowledge about identifying disturbed students.  Have you had any experience with dangerous and/or armed students?  How did you deal with them, and how did your university respond?  Do you think that professors in feminist studies might be more vulnerable to threats and violence from students because our perspectives may especially threaten disturbed young men?

UPDATE:  As Knitting Clio points out in the comments below, sadly there was a fatal shooting with a female perp at Louisiana Technical College in Baton Rouge yesterday morning, which I learned about after publishing this post.  However, I don’t think that one female perp is a meaningful trend when every other example of fatal violence at schools (junior high through universities) has featured male shooters, especially given the longue duree of the connection between guns and masculinity in this country.  How awful for the faculty and students at Louisiana Tech–yet another school whose sense of safety and fellowship in academic pursuit is shattered.

Tag, I'm it–Yo la tengo!

malintzin.jpgOrtho at Baudrillard’s Bastard has tagged me on a bit of bloggy fun.  Here are the rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

I picked up Malintzin’s Choices:  An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico by Camilla Townsend (2006).  Here are the selected 3 sentences on p. 123:

“About the same time as the students of the Franciscans were interviewing elderly men who remembered the battle for Tenochtitlan, other friars were supervising the transcription of some of the old Nahuatl songs that had come down through the years.  For centuries, the songs had evolved with each new generation; they were malleable, constantly reflecting the new experiences of the singers and their audiences.  By the 1550s and 1560s, many of them contained references to the Christian god and to other elements of life with the Spanish.”

Not coincidentally, this is a woman’s biography–have any of you out there read it yet?  Any thoughts?  I’m considering it for my early American women’s history class in the fall, and for a historiographical essay I’ve agreed to write.

Super Duper Tuesday Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking!

nast-donkey.jpgWell, not so much quarterbacking as straight reportage.  At Historiann’s precinct 114 in Potterville, Colorado, the vote count was 57 for Barack Obama, and 26 for Hillary Clinton–a better than 2-to-1 margin.  That tracks with his margin of victory statewide, now pegged at 66% to Clinton’s 33%.  It was wonderful to see so many people turn out–there were nearly 90 of my neighbors in my precinct meeting room at the local high school, and the other seven classrooms looked equally jammed full of commited and patriotic Americans.  It was clear that the Obama people had really organized the hell out of the caucus–they were there in force, with signs and stickers, and they drew a truly impressive turnout.  So that an encouraging sign if Obama’s the man in November–if they can organize this state into a solid Democratic pickup, I’ll be with them all the way.  However, caucuses inevitably favor a particular subset of the Obama base:  affluent people with graduate degrees, whereas Clinton’s base is more working class, female, and Latino–people who might have a harder time getting out at a particular time on a particular weekday evening.  Women turned out in good numbers, but Latinos and working-class people were very underrepresented, not just in my precinct, but from what I could tell about the other precincts too.  Historiann was a dewy young thing compared to most caucus-goers, who were overwhelmingly 55+, although that’s a group that in previous primaries and caucuses has favored Clinton, so good on Obama for improving his age spread in Colorado.

Nationally, however, the news was much more favorable to Senator Clinton.  The vote between Obama and Clinton was split until the California results came in, with HRC picking up all of the really big states and most of the pretty big states (except Illinois and Georgia), including a very respectable showing of southern states.  Clinton’s double-digit blowout (at least so far, with 90% of the vote counted) in California helped her open up a 100-delegate lead.  Obama did well in states with caucuses, but states with lots of Democratic voters seemed to prefer Clinton.  And in the end, the Kennedy endorsements don’t appear to have helped Obama enough in the primaries, at least not in the states that the endorsing Kennedys actually live in.  Clinton won Massachusetts, despite The Senator’s nod (and Sen. John Kerry’s and Gov. Deval Patrick’s endorsements) and California, despite Maria Shriver’s endorsement and the late campaigning by the Obama-endorsing side of the family (by The Senator and Caroline, especially.)  Perhaps people who are persuaded to caucus or vote for Obama aren’t persuaded by the dynastic arguments, after all?  Well, good on them.

UPDATE (FOR JAMES):  The final delegate total is Obama 538, Clinton 534.  California and New Mexico weren’t included in the spread cited above or in the comments below.  Scuzzi!

Senatorella for President

New campaign slogan:  She’s got the smarts and the lady parts!

heathers.jpgIt’s caucus day here in my square state.  While I’m out doing my civic duty, here’s an interesting review by Susan Faludi of a new book called Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary:  Reflections by Women Writers, edited by Susan Morrison.  (H/t to the lovely and talented Amanda Marcotte.)  It sounds like the book should be called Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary by a Bunch of Jealous Heathers, plus a sensible essay by Katha Pollitt, although she’s voting for Barack Obama today.  What is it with Baby Boomers and their pathological envy of the Clintons?  I’ve always assumed that there was no small amount of class bias in the embarassingly obvious ressentiment of Maureen Dowd and the Washington establishment crowd.  Who did those hicks from Arkansas think they were, anyway?  (Well, Little Rock via those hick schools Wellesley, Georgetown, and Yale.)  Faludi’s review is a brief but brilliant foray into the gendered nature of Clinton-obsession, the Hillary version.  (Not that my generation should be let off the hook–although it would be nice if someone other than the obtuse Katie Roiphe were invited to comment, she who dismisses rape and Hillary Clinton because no one she knows has been raped or likes Hillary Clinton.  Well, no one I know likes Katie Roiphe, so there.)

The best part of the review is the introduction, where Faludi makes a counterfactual proposition that highlights the trivial issues the writers in this volume use to judge Hillary Clinton.  Faludi writes, “let’s imagine this book’s concept-30 well-known women writers talk about how they ‘feel’ about Hillary Clinton-applied to 30 male writers and a male presidential candidate. Adjusting for gender, the essay titles would now read: ‘Barack’s Underpants,’ ‘Elect Brother Frigidaire,’ ‘Mephistopheles for President,’ ‘The Road to Codpiece-Gate,’ and so on. Inside, we would find ruminations on the male candidate’s doggy looks and flabby pectorals; musings on such ‘revealing’ traits as the candidate’s lack of interest in backyard grilling, industrial arts and pets; and mocking remarks about his lack of popularity with the cool boys on the playground (i.e., the writers and their ‘friends’). We would hear a great deal of speculation about whether the candidate was really manly or just ‘faking it.’ We would hear a great deal about how the candidate made them feel about themselves as men and whether they could see their manhood reflected in the politician’s testosterone displays.” 

Seriously people, get over it:  it’s not about you–not about your unresolved conflict with your mother, not about your discomfort with ambitious middle-aged women (even if you are one too), and not about your need to pretend you know which superior choices the Senator supposedly should have made instead at any point in her well-documented life.  Cowboy up.  Git ‘er done. 

UPDATE:  Ruth Rosen, who will be appearing at the Berkshire Conference in June to speak on the topic of “Changes and Continuities in U.S. American Feminism, 1890-1990,” offers a different opinion in “Why Would a Feminist Vote for Obama?”

UPDATE II:  Perez Hilton endorses HRC!  (Hillary Rodham Clinton, not the Human Rights Campaign, although I assume he’s probably cool with both HRCs.)

UPDATE III:  Via Feminist Law Professors, here’s a great commentary on the mysterious, inscrutable origins of Hillary hating at Feminist Philosophers.  I think they’ve gotten to the bottom of it!