Tweeting Your Miscarriage: Is Nothing Sacred?


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Short answer: R U kidding? No bodily function, emotional trauma or personal exchange is beyond bounds or beneath broadcasting these days. Thus did 43-year-old Penelope Trunk, CEO of the aptly named “Brazen Careerist” blog, Twitter her recent miscarriage: “I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a f***-up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.” (The asterisks are mine, not hers.)
Although my own first reaction was to look away and keep walking, such squeamishness was not widely shared. In fact, if the tweet was in part a PR stunt by Trunk, who makes her living by – wait for it — offering career advice to the young, it worked to perfection, and set virtual jaws flapping across the blogosphere and the political spectrum.
On the feminist blog Jezebel, Trunk’s disclosure was disparaged as both plain old gross and particularly unfortunate for supporters of abortion rights: “[D]o you want to hear about your male co-worker’s hemorrhoids in the workplace? Or the details of his wife’s miscarriage? And, unfortunately for everyone, now that this has gone national, the context and way in which Trunk framed this confirms the worst and most fantastical ideas of the anti-choice movement: that women (especially career women!) who have abortions all do so casually and callously on their lunch breaks, the way one might get a manicure.”
At Slate’s DoubleX women’s site, Amanda Marcotte cheered the simple elegance of Trunk’s communique. And no, that is not a malign paraphrase. Marcotte, best known for the anti-Catholic rants that cost her her job as a blogger for John Edwards’ ’08 presidential campaign, wrote that she “wasn’t even remotely bothered” by Trunk’s tweet. On the contrary, “I found it to be an elegant instance of the power of Twitter and the way people have learned to pack so much information into 140 characters. We as a culture applaud men who come up with choice quotes to describe death, courage, and war, but if a woman employs brevity to express relief at a miscarriage, suddenly there’s an outcry against the dangers of getting to the point” too abruptly.
I’ve written a lot about my conservative abortion views; nontheless, I do not think Trunk’s wahoo, drive-through view of abortion is typical. Most normal women take these and other serious decisions seriously. No, it’s her ‘tude toward disclosure that I see as a sign of the times.
Of course, to paraphrase Jesus, porn we will have with us always. And it’s OK that we no longer feel like those ladies of a tenderer time, who as the wonderful Judith Martin winkingly reminds us in Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, used to have a precise lifetime limit on the number of times they could comfortably see their name in print: “Thrice. Marriage, as well as birth and death – but only one of each – are the traditional occasions on which a lady is supposed to undergo the pain of public scrutiny. Miss Manners, however, is in no position to criticize those who exceed their limits.”
More recently, in the year of our Lord 1991 — before people fell in love or divorced on television — Madonna was still able to give the nation a frisson or two by hauling a camera crew around with her on a concert tour, then packaging the footage as a documentary film called Truth or Dare. The one thing I remember about the movie now isn’t its star’s exhibitionism but the droll comment of her then-companion Warren Beatty, who didn’t much like being filmed for the project and mocked her by asking something to the effect of “What’s the point of doing anything if it happens off-camera, right?”
The thing is, we are all Madonna now, or would very much like to be; this is a narcissistic time, when technology gives us the ability to unburden ourselves, and the illusion that over-sharing is a career- or image-enhancing activity. Now, I’m pretty free with info my own self – to the point that my children have been known to follow some comment that made me laugh with, “That was off-the-record!” But is discretion completely dead? Is any revelation so taboo we wouldn’t tweet it? Is social media the new confessional? Yes, no, and yes, I’m afraid. But aren’t those who go too far more apt to wind up feeling vulnerable than relieved?
Trunk says no: In a follow-up on her blog, she argues that miscarriage is a fact of life, that life happens at work, and that “you can’t manage your work life if you can’t talk about it.” But can you ever stop talking about it — or stop being talked about — once you’ve lobbed a doozy like that into the water-cooler conversation?

 

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Barbara Boxer: Cap and Trade Bill ‘Like Giving Birth Again’


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The process began nine months ago and there have been severe labor pains along the way, so when Sen. Barbara Boxer compared introducing climate change legislation to giving birth Wednesday, she wasn’t too far off.

After seeing the House shove through its climate change bill in June, and watching Majority Leader Harry Reid push back the Senate’s work on the issue, Boxer and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) held a Capitol Hill press conference to unveil the Senate’s version.

Like the House bill, the Senate measure would increase investment in new, cleaner energy technology while also creating a mandatory permitting process for large polluters, as well as an exchange for them to buy and trade carbon credits.

The Boxer-Kerry bill sets a more aggressive schedule than the House bill for reducing greenhouse gases. It calls for cutting emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. The House calls for a 17 percent cut by 2020.

The Senate bill also delays decisions on the specifics of the cap and trade portion of the bill, which generally involves “capping” overall carbon dioxide levels and letting companies buy and sell emissions permits. The sponsors also drop the politically loaded term “cap and trade,” calling it “pollution reduction and investment” instead.

Boxer, a California Democrat, predicted the bill will create 1.9 million new jobs by spurring new energy technologies. “If we pass our bill, billions and billions will flow from the private sector,” she said. “We will be a leader in the world as we protect the Earth for all who dwell here.”

Kerry said the bill is as much about national security as the environment. “It is time to reinvent the way America uses energy,” Kerry said. “Our security and our economy will both be strengthened and we cannot afford not to act.”

Kerry said the bill will strengthen energy sectors that environmental groups have long spurned — coal, natural gas and nuclear– as well as renewable energy. He also said that the cap and trade provisions will cover 75 percent of America’s pollution, but will have broad exemptions for homes, office buildings, stadiums, farms and small businesses.

Both Boxer and Kerry said the bill will be budget neutral and will not add to the deficit.

Republicans immediately whacked the bill as another tax scheme. Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said Democrats “produced yet another massive energy tax that will destroy jobs and raise electricity and gasoline prices.”

When asked by Reuters if he would vote for the bill, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “Of course not. Never, never, never.”

As was the case on the House side, Democrats with energy-based economies did not embrace the bill. Sen. Robert Byrd, from coal-heavy West Virginia, said in a statement that the bill has “a tough road ahead,” adding, “I will actively oppose any bill that would harm the workers, families, industries, or our resource-based economy in West Virginia.”

President Obama said Wednesday he is “deeply committed” to passing a climate change bill.

As she handed the program over to Kerry, Boxer said, “What a great day. It is like giving birth again.” Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a recent mom who stood next to Boxer, shook her head and said, “Not really.” To which Boxer said, “OK, it was a different kind of pain.”

 

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Melinda Henneberger Talks Public Option and Polanski on ‘Hardball’


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Welcome to “Sweet Corn Etc…” at Politics Daily, where we aggregate the media appearances of our contributors.

This space will be frequented by Lynn Sweet and David Corn, hence the joshing name, but be sure to check back for hearty helpings of perspective and analysis from various members of the Politics Daily team.

It’s only fitting that we begin with an appearance by Melinda Henneberger, Politcs Daily Editor in Chief, who was on ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews’ last night. Check out the embed below or click here for the video on MSNBC.

 

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Democrat Lincoln Vulnerable in Arkansas Senate Race


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Two-term Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln faces an uphill battle to hold her seat for the Democrats in 2010 with four Republican challengers besting her in potential match-ups, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted Sept. 28.

 

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Democrats’ Numbers Fall Under Obama


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Republicans have closed the gap when it comes to the number of Americans who identify with their party as opposed to the Democrats with the Democratic advantage shrinking each quarter that President Obama has been in office, according to a Gallup analysis of its date between July 1 and Sept. 30.

 

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Debate Over Immigrants Flares as Senators Reject Photo ID for Health Benefits


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After Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) yelled “You lie!” when President Obama told Congress that illegal immigrants would not benefit from health care reform, the president responded, “That’s not true.” But behind the scenes, Democrats scrambled to make sure that the president was right.

In the days that followed, congressional staff added language to the Senate Finance Committee bill saying illegal immigrants would not receive benefits — a provision already in the House bill — and requiring verification of applicants’ citizenship or legal residency. To be eligible for the proposed health care exchange, where consumers could compare policies and shop for insurance, a person would have to provide the government with their name, date of birth, and Social Security or alien registration number before applying for enrollment.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans tried to push Democrats one step further with an amendment from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to require a photo ID to verify a person’s identity before he or she could apply for Medicaid or children’s health insurance. Grassley said that photo identification would cut down on fraud and is routinely required for everyday activities like getting a fishing license. “Should states require more to get a $10 fishing license than to get health care”? Grassley asked.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said that failing to verify a person’s identity with a photo ID would be just another example of Congress failing to keep the bill from growing beyond its original intent. “Congress doesn’t have the courage to make sure the taxpayers are not ripped off,” he said.

Democrats pushed back, saying a photo ID requirement would be a heavy burden for working people who do not drive. They would have to take off from work to get a passport or driver’s license, critics argued.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the only Hispanic member of the Senate, has complained in recent weeks that the health care debate has unfairly demonized immigrants, and said Wednesday that the Grassley amendment “would impact the most vulnerable in our society.” He warned that children who are U.S. citizens could be barred from coverage because their parents might not have legal documents, adding “the last time I checked, children don’t have photo IDs.” He also said that proof of citizenship in the United States is based on a birth certificate or Social Security number, not on a driver’s license.

Before the committee voted, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) argued that the photo ID requirement would not be workable for seniors in nursing homes. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) supported the amendment because, he said, without a photo ID, a person could present a valid set of documents that belong to someone else to get benefits. “There is no point (in the process) when you verify, yes this is that person.”

The Grassley amendment was defeated 13 to 10.

 

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Gov. Jan Brewer Still an Unknown to Many Arizonans


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Arizona’s embattled Republican governor, Jan Brewer, continues to struggle in the polls with those who approve or disapprove of her job performance tied at 37 percent each, according to a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism-Eight/KAET poll conducted Sept. 24-27. But just as problematic for Brewer is that 26 percent still don’t know enough about her to have an opinion.

 

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Gore Vidal: Obama ‘Dreadful’ as President


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Gore Vidal, American literary giant and Democrat insider, is publicly declaring he made a mistake in switching his support during the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama.

I was hopeful,” Vidal says of an Obama presidency. “He was the most intelligent person we’ve had in that position for a long time.” Now, Vidal says in an interview published in the British paper, The Times, he was wrong and Obama is performing “dreadfully” as president.

 

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Harry Reid Cancels Recess to Force Health Care Progress


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Sen. Harry Reid announced Wednesday he is canceling the one-week Senate recess, originally planned for the Presidents Day holiday in October, in order to make time for the Senate to consider health care reform and other pending business.

Health care is not the only unfinished work; the Senate is still considering an energy reform bill, plans for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the appropriations bills to fund the federal government in 2010. Because of the federal fiscal year begins Thursday, the Senate will pass a continuing resolution Wednesday to keep the government running at current funding levels until the bills are passed later this fall.

 

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Senate Democrats Opposing Public Option Get Most Cash from Insurers


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Several amendments that proposed public insurance options to the health care reform bill currently in markup in the Senate Finance Committee went down in flames Tuesday. And according to a slew of numbers posted at OpenSecrets, a Web site operated by the Center for Responsive Politics, all of the senators who voted against the amendments receive significantly more campaign cash from insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

 

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McDonnell Widens Lead Over Deeds in Virginia


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Recent polls had been showing Democrat Creigh Deeds closing the gap on Republican Bob McDonnell in the Virginia governor’s race, but now the second poll in two days has McDonnell back on top by a comfortable margin.

 

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Large Majority Opposes Marketers Tracking Their Web Habits


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Sixty-six percent of Americans say they do not want marketers to tailor advertisements to their interests when they visit Web sites. And, when informed of the ways marketers gather information about consumers, that number rises to as high as 86 percent depending on the method, according to a survey conducted June 18 to July 2 for the Annenberg School for Communication and the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law.

 

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Corzine Closes the Gap on Christie in New Jersey


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The conventional wisdom in New Jersey is that the state is so Democratic, when a Republican starts out ahead in the polls, the lead is bound to erode as election day approaches. That may be coming to bear on the Chris Christie-Jon Corzine governor’s race, with Corzine now trailing by only 43 percent to 39 percent, with 12 percent for independent Christopher Daggett, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted Sept. 23-28. The margin of error is 2.8 points and 6 percent are undecided.

 

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Free Roman Polanski? A Backlash Begins as Some Folks Finally Get It


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Woody Allen signs a petition demanding “the immediate release” of Roman Polanski, and it’s not some sort of sick joke?

Hollywood just doesn’t have a clue. Whenever conservatives decry “Hollywood values,” the howls emanate from Malibu, with some justification. Why demonize an entire city’s residents as immoral and soulless when folks there have families and lives far removed — for the most part — from reality-show fodder?

Then a fugitive from justice is picked up in Switzerland to finally face the crime of having sex with a minor, a crime he pleaded guilty to more than 30 years before, and his famous friends circle the wagons. Cue the stereotype.
Not everyone in Hollywood and the European arts community is on board. The New York Times reports that while Polanski adds juice to his legal team — in the form of Reid Weingarten, a Washington power player — political and cultural leaders are pushing back against initial support for the director.

Marie-Louise Fort, a National Assembly member, is not the only French official shocked by the pro-Polanski statements from her country’s culture and foreign ministers. “I don’t believe that public opinion is spontaneously supporting Mr. Polanski at all,” she said in the Times story. “I believe that there is a distinction between the mediagenic class of artists and ordinary citizens that have a vision that is more simple.” An online poll backs her up.

In Los Angeles, Paul Petersen, former child star and president of A Minor Consideration, a foundation devoted to the protection of young performers, said: “The Hollywood community is protecting him. It makes me crazy.” Jewel and Sherri Shepherd have also tweeted their dismay.
But Polanski’s friends are so indignant in their support — more than 100 have signed on — that achieving justice seems beside the point. And justice is what this is about, not the fact that his victim, no longer 13 years old, has blessedly moved on. (Their newfound concern for the privacy of the now-grown wife and mother is weak compared to their vocal protestations on the director’s behalf.) Polanski’s defenders offer not merely sympathy. Pedro Almodovar, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and others in the film industry object to the Academy Award-winning director’s very arrest. Studio mogul Harvey Weinstein says Polanski “has served his time” for the “so-called crime.”

In an op-ed
, Weinstein says: “I hope the U.S. government acts swiftly because filmmakers are looking for justice to be properly served.” Oh yes, the government needs to get its priorities in order so next time, the director can pick up his Oscar in this country.
That Polanski’s supporters didn’t think it horribly inappropriate for Woody “the Heart Wants What It Wants” Allen — the guy who had nude photos of and later married his then-girlfriend’s daughter — to put his name on a petition speaks of a maddening cluelessness. When Allen received an ovation at the post-9/11 Academy Awards as he introduced a montage of New York film clips, I remember thinking, “Just when everybody finally loved the Big Apple, Hollywood puts this guy front and center?” At least skipping his later films is no hardship.
I really enjoy the work of Scorsese and Debra Winger, but who knew that they thought creative talent excuses criminal acts? My colleague David Gibson is correct in his righteous indignation, an opinion shared by folks who know Roman Polanski the shoe salesman would never merit such gold-plated support.
To those who know and have worked with Polanski, he might be a heck of a guy. But what’s next, a march down Rodeo Drive?
You realize how strange the controversy has become when Luc Besson, the French director of the wild and crazy “Fifth Element,” is the voice of sanity. In the Times article, Besson, who describes himself as a Polanski friend, is quoted telling a radio interviewer: “Our daughters are good friends. But there is one justice, and that should be the same for everyone.”

 

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Republican Corbett Looks Strongest in Pennsylvania Governor Race


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Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, is term-limited, and his party’s field to succeed him includes three candidates who all poll within three points of each other. There’s a clearer picture on the Republican side, with Attorney General Tom Corbett way out in front, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted Sept. 21-28.

 

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Newsmax Columnist Suggests Military Coup to ‘Resolve the Obama Problem’


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The conservative magazine Newsmax published a column suggesting a “peaceful” military coup might be necessary to save the United States from President Obama’s “radical ideal” for the country, TPM reported Wednesday. The column, written by John L. Perry, was removed from the magazine’s Web site shortly after it was posted Tuesday. (The full text can be read here.) Perry noted in the column that “describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it.”

“Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation,” Perry wrote. “Skilled, military-trained nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.”

Perry also said Obama is turning the U.S. into a “Marxist state” and that the president’s agenda is inviting the imaginary coup Perry helpfully envisions in his column. “Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic,” he warns.

Perry writes a weekly column for the magazine that is often devoted to sharp criticism of the president. TPM’s call for comment was not returned.

 

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Is Health Care Government’s Job? Americans say Yes, No


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Americans believe by 61 percent to 37 percent that they themselves — and not the government — have the primary responsibility for ensuring they have health insurance, according to a Gallup poll conducted Sept. 11-13.

 

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CQ Fires Senior Editor for Questioning Layoffs, Ignites Online Backlash


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A “personnel matter” at Washington-based Congressional Quarterly spilled onto the Internet and into the mainstream press yesterday after the publication fired senior editor Brian Nutting, 62, for questioning unexpected layoffs. Readers and other D.C. journalists blasted the magazine on Twitter, tagging the incident “#cqfail” and encouraging other users to cancel their subscriptions and stop following the publication’s updates online.

Nutting, who had been at CQ for 27 years, first made news when he wrote a memo to his superiors asking them to explain 44 layoffs they had announced at CQ and its sister publication, Roll Call. The e-mail, with the subject line “We need answers,” was immediately leaked to FishbowlDC, a blog that covers Beltway media. “The newsroom needs to hear in person from those who are responsible for today’s [layoff] announcement. Someone in authority should appear before us to attempt to justify the actions announced,” Nutting wrote. He said staff at the publications had been previously informed that both CQ and Roll Call were making money.

 

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Is Obama Serious About Afghanistan?


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Is President Obama serious about Afghanistan?

Of course, he’s serious when it comes to his goal of disrupting and destroying al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies. No doubt, he and his aides are thinking long and hard about what to do there and how to respond to the recent assessment submitted by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. (In that review, McChrystal notes that the “overall situation is deteriorating” and that the Afghan government is a major problem, but he implicitly makes the case for more troops.) On Wednesday afternoon, Obama’s scheduled to hold a big powwow on Afghanistan with his entire national security squad, including Vice President Joseph Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Adm. Mike Mullen, Gen. David Petraeus, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, CIA chief Leon Panetta, McChrystal and others.

Yet Obama is caught in a rhetorical trap regarding his devotion to the war in Afghanistan, as I’ve noted before. And on Tuesday, the White House fell into it again.

 

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Macho, Macho State: Iran’s New Foreign Policy Objective


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So, you’re a politically tumultuous state fresh off of an election with widespread allegations of fraud and torture; you’re building an internationally frowned-upon nuclear program; and you’re on the eve of your first multi-national talks, which might result in economically crippling sanctions against you. What do you do?

Well, if you’re Iran, you orchestrate a series of test missile launches and start loudly issuing a public list of things you refuse to talk about.

 

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