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Archive for June, 2012

Trinity Brewhouse, Providence RI

Posted in Food and Drinks on June 13th, 2012

While in Providence, we had a chance to visit Trinity Brewhouse. Both times we ate there, the place was packed with convention goers, so I don’t know what the atmosphere is like on a typical night in Providence, but I did have a good time. Their seafood bisque is divine, and I mean that even by New England standards! We also enjoyed their french fries and sandwiches on homemade focaccia bread. The service was good and we appreciated that there was a lot of outdoor seating. Indoors, you could see the actual brewery, albeit behind a glass covered in bumper stickers:

Their beer list is simple, but has something for everyone.

I had the Hefeweizen (beer on the right in the above picture) which was a phenomenal pint of banana bread heaven, and the Saison, which was also very good and a nice compliment to my meal. Adam had the Kolsch (beer on the left, above), and Sir Perrys Pear Cider which he enjoyed as well.

If I am ever in Providence again I will definitely be heading back to Trinity Brewhouse, to check out the basement bar, try the Russian Imperial Stout I just did not have the time to savor, and to chat with the locals. Check it out if you are ever in town!

Movie Review: The Purity Myth

Posted in Editorials on June 12th, 2012

When I was at Netroots Nation, I had the chance to attend a screening of the documentary “The Purity Myth” featuring Jessica Valenti. I had read the book it is based on, which is in my opinion her best work so far, so I was excited to see the film.

The movie is short, about 45 minutes, and features Valenti explaining her thesis – that The Purity Myth is our cultural myth that a woman’s worth is based on her sexual behavior and not on her character or accomplishments – interspersed with short clips giving examples from popular culture, politicians, religious leaders and educators. The film draws heavily from the BBC Documentary, “The Virgin Daughters” about the Purity Ball movement in America.

What I liked about this documentary is that it is more open about the link between the moral panic around young women’s sexuality and religion than other panels I had attended. I was suprised that some of the people in the audience laughed while watching John Hagee rant about the “blood covenant” between a man and his virgin wife. It’s absurd, but I felt outrage, and sadness for the millions of women who approach their weddings in a state of panic instead of joy because they could potentially suffer harsh consequences if their vaginas do not bleed on their wedding night. Even in the United States, this is still a point of pride for some men.

The movie also featured a short vignette of adult women in wedding dresses, which were fairly revealing. Someone in the audience asked if they were supposed to be that sexy, and Jessica Valenti said that she was puzzled by them also and did not choose that clip. I think the film maker made a good choice here. This shows the paradox of the “sexy virgin.” Valenti explains in her book and during the film that by spending so much time and energy focusing on the virginity of young girls, we are in reality sexualizing them. I thought of the mania surrounding American weddings and that there are entire television shows about not only wedding planning in general, but just about wedding dresses specifically. The pressures put on brides to look beautiful but not too sexy are intense, and reminded me of this paradox.

The Purity Myth is a powerful idea against an oppressive cultural narrative. Valenti makes the case against it and in doing so, also against similar myths – that women are only good for sex, or for having babies. I think this film is an excellent tool for generating discussion, and for an insight into how sexist cultural messages are harming young women.

Netroots Nation 2012

Posted in Editorials on June 11th, 2012

This year was my first Netroots Nation. For those of you who couldn’t make it, or who, like me, were unable to be in multiple locations at once, many of the panels were recorded and are available to watch for free online at NetrootsNation.org.

My favorite moments included:

Getting to see Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. He spoke at the opening keynote and during a panel about Citizens United.

Jasiri X performance:


Jordan Miles

I attended a training from the Analyst Institute called, “Randomized Controlled Experiment Results To Win Your Campaign: What We Know Works – Getting Closer To Your Goal With Proven Tactics.” It was a really fascinating look at the science of voting behavior, and my biggest takeaway was that no one should hesitate to conduct small experiments within their own campaign as it’s going on. For example, try several differently worded emails, and see which one brings in more donations or volunteers.

Frustrated with Eric Schneiderman’s slowness to act, The Progressive Change Campaign Committee distributed these placards before his speech at the opening keynote:

When he took the stage, a woman yelled, “INVESTIGATE THE BANKSTERS!” He paused and said, “Thank you. I’m getting to them.” He handled a very mixed reaction with grace, and even said “Thank you for pushing me.”

Cecile Richards speech celebrating Planned Parenthood’s victories this year.

Darcy Burner’s speech, even if it depressed the heck out of Adam, and the rest of her panel about the War on Women featuring Mazie Hirono and Elizabeth Warren.

The story of how Netroots Nation came to Providence this year. The conference had been scheduled to be there last year, but was moved in support of union workers fighting for a contract.

The Center for Reproductive Rights party on Friday night was an amazing success! Amanda Marcotte and Marc Faletti DJed as lots and lots of people danced the night away at the basement of The Salon.

The Daily Kos 10th Anniversary Party on Saturday night at Whiskey Republic was also a great party, featuring a performance from the What Cheer band.

Netroots Nation Link Roundup – Below are organizations I became aware of or learned more about during the conference:

Advocates for Youth – “champions efforts that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.”

350.org – “a global, grassroots effort to solve the climate crisis.”

Ella Baker Center For Human Rights – “The Ella Baker Center is named for an unsung hero of the civil rights movement who inspired and guided emerging leaders. We build on her legacy by giving people opportunities and skills to work together to strengthen our communities so that all of us can thrive.”

CREDO PAC – “The CREDO SuperPAC is launching the Take Down the Tea Party Ten campaign to hold the worst congressional extremists accountable for their radical attacks on women, science and equality. We’ll engage millions of activists to power a unique, effective and unabashedly progressive field campaign, with staff, offices and volunteers in all 10 districts — and deal a knockout blow to tea party extremism in Congress.”

Mom’s Rising – “MomsRising takes on the most critical issues facing women, mothers, and families, by mobilizing massive grassroots actions.”

Much has been written about the lack of enthusiasm displayed at the conference, and how this portends badly for President Obama. It’s true that liberals are frustrated with the President and that we have been for a while. However, I saw plenty of exuberance from Netroots Nation – for labor, for feminism, for civil rights and social justice. I think that the same enthusiasm that elected Barack Obama in the first place is still available. It’s just going to require a little more than a “Hey guys…. I’m over here…” video address.

There was so much going on that I’m going to be blogging more about the convention with additional posts. Upcoming topics including a review of a film I saw, the beer scene in Providence, my previously promised post on race, several Letter Writing Sundays!

Newsbusters Targets Children

Posted in Editorials on June 10th, 2012

Recently, Ellen hosted Rainer and Atticus – two charming red-headed children who know a lot about the Presidents of the United States. (Disclosure: In real life, I am acquainted with Rainer, Atticus, and their parents.) Apparently their age and their cuteness do not shield them or their mother from attack by the right wing media.

During the clip, Ellen asked Rainer what was happening this year. He said he thought that Barack Obama should win reelection because,

“Barack Obama said that men and men can marry each other and woman and woman can marry each other and I think that’s right.”

You can watch the whole thing here:

Newsbusters, a conservative website touting itself as, “the leader in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias” published a post in response to the clip. I don’t see why this was necessary. Young Rainer was simply stating his opinion; “I think that’s right” – even at the age of six he knows not to phrase an opinion as a fact.

What’s more disturbing is the way the post attacked the boys,

Rainer and Atticus are liberally raised by their literary parents Matt Pasca and Terri Muuss. (The little fact they use their mother’s surname signals the feminism.) Muuss is a survivor of incest and travels with her own stage show called “Anatomy of a Doll.”

Let’s count the layers of this attack:

1. There is something wrong with having parents who teach children their own, liberal values.
2. There is something suspect about a woman keeping her name when she gets married, or naming her children after herself instead of her husband.
3. There is something wrong with being a feminist.
4. If a woman is open about being an incest survivor, she is an unfit parent.

I contacted Tim Graham, the author of the post on Twitter, wondering how someone mean-spirited enough to write a shallow hit-piece on small children would respond.

Elizabeth: “Nyah-nyah your mommy’s a feminist!” You dont have to respond to children as if you were one yourself.

Tim: I’m merely stating that Ellen put on cute little kids who just happened to tout Obama and gay marriage. My, what an accident.

Elizabeth: I doubt families opposing Obama or same sex marriage are beating down the door to have their children on Ellen.

Then it got weird.

Tim: As if they had the chance?

As if they had the chance? What family who opposes same sex marriage would want their children to appear on television with a lesbian? Conservatives frequently attack any positive portrayal of GLBT people in the media. Why would they want to expose their children to people they think are depraved and evil? Is there some kind of conservative group I haven’t heard of – the Million Moms Who Want Their Kids On Ellen?

Elizabeth: All people teach their children values, be they liberal or conservative.

Tim: Yes, I acknowledge my kids would have been cute little Catholics at that age. I haven’t really drummed my politics at them.

This is ignorant at best, but I think it’s plain intellectual dishonesty. Catholicism is a religion first and foremost, but the teachings of Christ, especially as explained by the Catholic Church are deeply political – even at the level a child could understand them. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a conservative tell a story about how they explained to children why they shouldn’t give money to homeless people. I was a small Catholic when I was Rainer’s age, and I wanted to help poor people – because of what my family, my Sunday School teacher and the priests at church had told me about Jesus!

Chatting with Tim on Twitter was illuminating in that it revealed two additional assumptions – firstly that Ellen was somehow “biased” in choosing Rainer and Atticus to appear on her show. Ellen’s website asks anyone to submit a show idea or to make their case as to why they should be a guest. But Ellen is in no way obligated to include homophobes on her show. The idea that this is necessary for “balance” is ridiculous and hurtful.

Secondly, Tim draws a distinction between values and politics. A family’s religion might be a part of their values, but somehow their politics cannot be. Politics and policy are the way we transform our values into reality – be they power, liberty, charity, lower taxes, freedom of speech, or anything else.

As the public increasingly supports same sex marriage, conservatives have the choice to accept this, or to be left behind. Their exaggerated reaction to a child who believes differently than they do reveals the weakness of their argument.

The Washington Post Quotes Me On Elizabeth Warren

Posted in Links, Site News on June 9th, 2012

Just wanted to share this link right now, I have a lot more to say about Netroots Nation and race, even as it pertains to Elizabeth Warren. But I’m glad the reporter got the gist of what I said, even though I wish she would have done some research to confirm what I was referring to about Native Americans.

Elizabeth Warren to ‘Romney-Brown Republicans’: ‘We don’t run this country for corporations’

Netroots Nation Thursday Morning: The Ubiquity of Religion

Posted in Editorials on June 7th, 2012

One of the things both of the panels I have been to this morning Have made me think about is the ubiquity of religion in American politics.

The first panel was called “Inside the Activists Studio: What to do when the right comes after you” and featured people from AFSCME, Planned Parenthood, and Jewish Voice for Peace. I found myself surprised that unions were currently under as great an attack as people who advocate for Peace between Israel and Palestine – rather than always thinking Israel is right, and reproductive justice. It quickly dawned on me that unions have been demonized in the United States almost as long as they have existed. Why was I surprised then to see them lumped in with Planned Parenthood and Middle East Issues? The common thread between opposition to reproductive justice and conflict in the Middle East is that they are both fueled by religious fervor. There is no religious justification, as far as I can tell to oppose worker’s rights.

The second panel was sponsored by Advocates for Youth and was called, “Paying the Price, Leading the Fight: Youth and the Politics of Reproductive Rights.” Panelist Debra Hauser stressed that we live in a sex negative culture. But when the panelists were asked why they think this is so, not one person named religion as the reason. A representative from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State spoke up, and the conversation shifted to the “Our Whole Lives” Curriculum and how some members of the religious left support the sexual health rights and education of young people. While as a Unitarian Universalist I am proud of OWL, I find it ironic to suggest that religion is the solution to the problem that it largely created.

Just my thoughts for now, there’s a lot more to unpack here.

Live Tweeting Netroots Nation

Posted in Site News on June 7th, 2012

I am so excited to be at my first Netroots Nation! Adam and I will be here all weekend. Follow me on Twitter @MissCherryPi, check out the happenings on #NN12, or watch video feed from NetrootsNation.org Send me a tweet if you want to meet up!