Thursday, March 20, 2008

Of the people, for the the people?

I don't want to wade too deeply or directly into the sleaze-athon that has developed like a thick and foul-smelling bog around (a) New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's adulterous liaison with a young prostitute and/or (b) Dr. Laura Schlessinger's jarring (though not totally unexpected) remarks on same. Of course, readers should feel perfectly free to wade in as deeply as they care to.

Unless you live on Planet Woosabi-6 with the likes of Michael Beckwith, you've certainly heard about Spitzer. And you've almost surely heard about Schlessinger as well. Just in case, I'll recap briefly. Dr. Laura had a number of interesting things to say about the Gov's indiscretions...and what is it with these East Coast governors, lately, anyway? Now the new New York Governor, too, has come out and admitted that both he and the wife were messing around during a difficult period in their marriage. And you've probably heard the recent allegations of a three-way involving Dina McGreevy, ex-husband James (formerly known as the governor of New Jersey), and a gay aide-de-camp. But back to Schlessinger. On the Today Show, under questioning by cohost Meredith Vieira, Dr. Laura had this to say about Mrs. Spitzer, whose name is Silda:

"When a wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings sexually, personally, to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like our hero, he's very susceptible to the charm of some other woman making him feel what he needs. These days, women don't spend a lot of time thinking about how they can give their men what they need."
Even when challenged by the normally mild-mannered Vieira—Could Dr. Laura actually be saying that women like Silda Spitzer drive their husbands to cheat?—Schlessinger didn't blink. After a token disclaimer, she replied, in part, "But yes, I hold women accountable for tossing out perfectly good men by not treating them with the love and kindness and respect and attention they need."

The reason such comments are not totally unexpected is that Schlessinger has long been a foe of the more militant foundation of "women's lib," with its "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" message. In her book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, she details the many ways in which—to her mind—today's women hurt, diminish and emasculate their men. That said, her thoughts on the Spitzer affair have not gone over well with women's groups, women generally, or most media observers (female or male). I think "outrage" is the word that best sums things up. However, leaving aside the specifics of what Schlessinger said, and even the overall psychodynamics of adultery, I think this teapot tempest demonstrates once again the dangers of the instant diagnosis to which self-help has conditioned us. I won't repeat here what I've said/written at length elsewhere—notably on pp. 48-50 and 177-178 of SHAM—but it's important to realize that therapy, true therapy, presupposes a thorough knowledge of the patient and his/her circumstances. Even in a controlled setting, where therapist and subject are working together under clinically intimate conditions for months if not years, therapists will hesitate to render unequivocal pronouncements on what a person's core-level problem may be, what motivates him or her to act the way he/she does, or even what he/she should do about it. Yet here we have a Laura Schlessinger, bereft of relevant credentials in the first place, dispensing advice and counsel as if she (a) knows the subject and the situation, and (b) knows all the answers and how they apply across-the-board to humankind as a whole.

Further, it is in very poor taste, as well as highly unprofessional, for mental-health experts to make a public spectacle of people in desperate straits by offering armchair opinions about their (supposed) foibles and states of mind. We saw this also in Dr. Phil's first and much-maligned prime-time special, wherein he implied that a 9-year-old boy was destined to become a serial killer, as well as in his offhand, ill-advised statements about Britney Spears.

Above, by the way, is a discreetly cropped photo of a younger and, shall we say, more free-spirited Laura. Back in the days when she was quite the little heart-breaker herself.

NOTE: Once again, none of this is to be interpreted as holier-than-thou on my part. When I talk about a "foul-smelling bog," I'm referring to the media coverage more than the central action itself.


Steven Sashen said...

I'm a fan of "sex scandals" because I harbor a fantasy (not sexual) that these situations present the perfect opportunity to examine some important issues about power, agreements, secrets, decision-making, compartmentalizing, projection, and much more.

Sadly, there hasn't been one scandal in either the political or spiritual worlds that hasn't immediately devolved into (and never elevated itself from) blame, finger-pointing, racing for the victim position, self-righteousness and, oh, let's not leave out pots making comments about the color of kettles.

I have a psychologist friend who was called by the White House on the eve of the Monica Lewinsky news. When asked what he thought Clinton should do, my friend said, "Have him hold a press conference RIGHT NOW and say, 'You're about to discover that I've been having an affair with an intern -- one of a series of affairs I've had. Here's what I was thinking that allowed me to justify doing so (insert an accurate report of thoughts), and here's exactly what we did (insert detailed list of, well, insertions). Any questions?' And then have him answer any question (of which there will be few) in one sentence that a 6th grader could say with the tone of voice that is usually used when answering 'What time is it?'"

There was a long pause on the other end of the phone, and then the WH aid said, "Uhh.... okay... thanks," and hung up.

Elizabeth said...

She is a fascinating woman, Dr. Laura. I'm looking at this photo and I see openness, joy, hope, love and a hint of mischief perhaps (yes, I've seen the rest of the picture and others like it of her -- and they are much more pleasant to look at than her current harsh, death-like visage). Since then, she has calcified into a shell of her former being, drained of the love, hope and softness she had in that photo. And this negative transformation has nothing to do with the natural aging process, which, more than anything else, appears to distill our essential characteristics in our external appearance, especially in our faces.

A while ago, Steve, you had a blog post and discussion on whether we can see people's "soul" in their eyes. Since I was not there, I couldn't weigh in, but my answer would be a resolute YES. Let's leave definitions of "soul" for another time, but who we are is written in our eyes and faces, and it is visible to all who want to notice. What I see in the current Dr. Laura's face scares the hell out of me.

So what happened to this person to turn her into a self-loathing, hate-mongering militant misogynist, without an ounce of compassion and empathy left in her bony body?

Not to mention any self-awareness and self-criticism. After all, this woman distinctly does not practice what she preaches. Just ask the "perfectly good men" she tossed out in her lifetime.

What is amazing (in a sad way) is the eagerness of the extreme moralistic fraction of the right, fueled by rabid anti-feminism and misogyny, to embrace and champion Dr. Laura's "teachings" without giving any consideration to the hypocrisy of the teacher. As if it did not matter.

Note that she is not a psychologist or professional counselor, so she is not bound by the ethical codes of those professions. She can say whatever she pleases with impunity.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the married man I dated who blamed me for his marriage! This was in the days before checking on the Internet and you had to take someone on their word if they were single, or not. When I found out he was married, he said it was my fault for being so attractive! Yes, I kicked him to the curb.

Anonymous said...

When I hear Dr. Laura's book title, I can't help of thinking I just got a pet instead of a husband. Did she intentionally want to compare keeping a husband with keeping a pet? I feel sorry for Mr. Laura. Can we break him out of the kennel?

Steve Salerno said...

He blamed you for his marriage? You mean he blamed you for the condition of his marriage?

Anonymous said...

I did not stay around long enough to clarify if he meant marriage, or its condition. It was bad enough he lied then insulted my intelligence so that was enough for me. He wasn't my problem, but his wife's.

Anonymous said...

What really got me about the Spitzer scandal was the information that he allegedly paid more not to use condoms with the prostitutes. If I were his wife, I would kill him for that alone. The $80,000 would have been a nail in his coffin too. Geez, for that kind of money he could have gotten a good doll.

The Crack Emcee said...

Steven Sashen,

You always come through for the laugh. Way to go, man. Hilarious.


As no friend of feminism, or so-called "women's lib", I can agree with some (or even most) of what Dr. Laura says on the subject, but - regarding Mrs. Spitzer - as a divorcee myself, I agree with you it's tasteless, and probably hurtful, for her to have said such a thing. Not adding to the pain of the betrayed is very important to me now, and I don't see how her comments can do anything but cause further harm. Thank goodness Mrs. Spitzer (I'm guessing but, still, pretty sure) isn't listening to anything from the media at the moment. As I said on my blog, I hope she's got some good, really sensitive, friends around her right now.


We all look like that in our youth. After my divorce, I lost 80 pounds *overnight*, started sprouting grey hairs, and smiled a lot less. (Still no frown lines, though.) And I'm definitely not the "sensitive" individual I was, that's for sure. As far as I'm concerned, that's what people looking for "happiness" can do to others: Make them distrust people, grow callous, foster disillusionment. I know I'll never be the same.

While, as I said, I don't agree with everything Dr. Laura says or does, I don't see her as a "self-loathing, hate-mongering militant misogynist" but, simply, someone who thinks "women's lib" has gone too far. (I've heard her show and hear lots of "compassion and empathy" in her for other women - she just doesn't buy into their rationalizations for bad behavior.) And she's not alone. Christina Hoff Sommers (who strikes me as a smart, sensitive, and caring person) gets chased off college campuses on a regular basis for challenging "womyn's issues" as well. Doris Lessing (a recent Nobel prize winner for literature) has been saying many of the same things, too.

There seems to be this idea that women, today, are above criticism, which, in itself, should be a tip-off there's something wrong. I've been wondering if it's all that "daddy's little princess" stuff that makes ordinary - and sometimes less than ordinary - women think they deserve life on a silver platter. Nora Vincent wrote a "Black Like Me" styled book called Self-Made Man (where she went undercover as a man) and, during her investigation, she started hating women for their attitudes - and she's a feminist lesbian. It's like women don't see themselves. The despicable way they look at men. The way they can't walk down the street without looking for someone to admire them. The sense of entitlement, like men are nothing more than labor to serve them. I bought into it myself, but no more. Women may not use violence but, as the "cult of the mean girl" proves, they can get away with causing much more harm to others because, at least, there are social and legal barriers to violence. What's in place to stop the chaos, and mental mayhem, that a single sweet-appearing woman can unleash in other people's lives? And since such male concepts as honor, loyalty, and dignity, have been pooh-poohed by the women's movement, there's no drive to develop an inner guide to say "no" either. We can see it all around us, now, and Steve even writes about some of the most obvious results. (Lindsey, Britney, Paris, etc.)

You say "moralistic" like morals are bad things. Flip your comment over: Can you imagine what it's like for people who are attached to concepts, like family, community, and country, to find themselves living in a time that's abandoning morals? I'm not defending Dr. Laura here, but, when so many liberals are so quick to scream we're not perfect, who should stand up and say something? Does a person have to achieve perfection before they can say "enough"?

You say "She can say whatever she pleases with impunity." I would contend that's what most, if not all, feminists believe as well. The difference is - and I'm pretty sure about this - Dr. Laura wouldn't try to silence them.

Anonymous said...

What Dr. Laura did was blame the victim, Silda. Eliot broke his marriage vows and committed a crime. If he did not want to uphold his marriage vows, he should not have gotten married. If he wants to visit a prostitute, there are parts of Nevada where that is legal. That's all there is to it.

If my husband tried that Dr. Laura crap on me, he would be fishing his teeth out of the fish tank. I am not a violent person, but that type of stupidity would have me seeing red.

BTW, don't you guys hate being compared to animals? So all it takes for my husband is a pat on the head, some sugar talk, and sex to make him happy. Gee, all this time I thought he wanted to be treated like an intelligent human being. Thanks, Dr. Laura, you figured it all out for me.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Crack, sometimes you crack me up. Where should I start...

No, we do not all look like that in our youth. However, what we do look like, at 18 or 80, tells a lot about who we are (and I do not mean the wrinkles or lack of those, etc., but specifically the eyes and that something they express. People who know what I'm talking about, know what I'm talking about. Those who don't, won't -- and I cannot say it any better, at least not right now.)

You say, "that's what people looking for "happiness" can do to others: Make them distrust people, grow callous, foster disillusionment."

That's what life does to all of us, Crack. And I have to say, with my utmost respect and fondness for you, you do not have the monopoly on suffering. We all do, you know? That's what we all share and what binds us all, btw, regardless of our differences. But it is ultimately up to us and nobody else to decide whether our suffering will make us callous and distrustful, or whether it can teach us compassion for others. (Sorry for the preachy tone here, btw.)

Moralistic does not mean moral, in my POV here. Moralistic is ramming down your intolerance into other people's lives without showing an ounce of concern for their reality. And hypocritical moralizing -- Dr. Laura's special brand -- is doing that while putting herself above others' judgment and not adhering to her own preached values. Dr. Laura is a first-class hypocrite; does this not bother you?

I'm somewhat exasperated to hear you ask me: "Can you imagine what it's like for people who are attached to concepts, like family, community, and country, to find themselves living in a time that's abandoning morals?"

I would imagine that you'd know me a bit more, from my posts at least, to ask this question. But I would be wrong, obviously. So to answer, briefly, yes, I can (imagine). It does not change my views on Dr. Laura -- quite the contrary.

Now, about that whole women/womyn rigamarole... Ay vey. Maybe I'll tackle this one after dinner (though I can't promise).

BTW, the verf word is evowk. Nice, eh? (OK, Steve, ok... :)

mikecane2008 said...

>>>What's in place to stop the chaos, and mental mayhem, that a single sweet-appearing woman can unleash in other people's lives?

Whew. You remind me of "The Taming of the Shrew."

Go for the shrew, guys!

Ken said...

She wasn't excusing Spitzer, who is probably a malignant narcissist. She was saying that if a woman marries a decent man and she gives him what he needs, he's unlikely to stray. Spitzer is not decent.

My blog posting on this found here.

Oh, and I liked her book. We men ARE simple creatures.

Elizabeth said...

One thing, Crack: For someone who is so fiercely independent and who abhors the whole idea of assumed victimhood (in blacks, women, liberals, etc.), you so mind-bogglingly portray yourself as the almost perfect victim -- of your ex-wife, of the NewAgers, of "liberals," of feminists, etc. (*They* made you unhappy, *they* almost ruined your life, *they*... etc.)

Moreover, you ascribe almost superhuman powers to women, all of whom you lump into one category in one sweeping overgeneralization; and, by comparison, see men as, well, helpless victims of women's abuse.

I'm stumped. How can you reconcile these two diametrically opposed views (your disavowal of victimhood and looking at yourself, and at men in general, as victims)?

You may not realize that in your views of women and the women-men relationships, you are committing the very same mistakes (most notably assuming victimhood, projecting the sense of entitlement and unlimited power on the other gender, overgeneralizing) of which you are accusing radical feminists. (And of which they are often guilty, I should add.)

Cal said...

Although this is not directly related to the subject matter, has Dr. Laura ever commmented on the alleged troubles her son had in the military? I don't even remember the television media covering the story.

I thought she had faded away because my understanding is that she has lost a lot of her radio stations. She is not on the air anymore where I live. Is it only because she keeps writing books that get published? And Larry King or Hannity & Colmes will automatically have her on to discuss the book? "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands"? I never understood that -- are they like weeds?

How does she explain military men over in Iraq that cheat on their wives? Are they responsible when they are half a world away?

Elizabeth said...

Anon at 4:05p, very funny. :) (Not the relationship, of course, but your description.)

Anon at 5:18p, yes, I too am puzzled by the fact that so many people seem to gobble up Dr. Laura's "wisdom," even though it makes men appear infantile and dim. I ran her comments by my own testosterone contingent (my husband and two sons, one adult, one adolescent) and they all laughed at them. (My male dog remained oblivious, but he is old, so maybe he did not hear what I said. That's a joke, btw.;)

Steve Salerno said...

Very busy now--on Holy Thursday (or what my wife reminds is Holy Thursday, anyway), no less--but I have to say how drawn I am, at some visceral level, to Crack's line: "What's in place to stop the chaos, and mental mayhem, that a single sweet-appearing woman can unleash in other people's lives?" I guess, if there's a part of our collective experience that we males have trouble letting go of--just as so many blacks apparently have trouble letting go of their race-based paranoia of white society (to Obama's point, and Elizabeth's, above, about "realism")--it would be rooted somewhere in that memorable line by Crack.

Though believe me, I'm the last one entitled to complain....

Elizabeth said...

And, Steve, I dunno what you are referring to -- what do I say above about "realism"? I'm getting confuseder here with each minute.

Oh dear... (She sighed, scratching her head and checking her hair in the mirror at the same time, while discreetly looking for others to admire her...Thank God for my dog, she thought.)

Sorry, guys, just could not resist it. It's cracking me up, really. No pun, Crack. Or maybe pun -- and then some. Ay.:)

Steve Salerno said...

Elizabeth, I believe that thorazine, in excessive dosages, can produce symptoms such as you appear to manifest....

My remark about "realism" referred to your seeming contention that one cannot realistically (there's that word again, or a variant thereof) discount the role of race in American life. That we can't simply take the Rodney King approach. That's all.

Elizabeth said...

OK, I see. Thanks. (And, ouch!)

Elizabeth said...

BTW, my play with hair, mirror and etc. was in reference to Crack's comment about how we women "can't walk down the street without looking for someone to admire them."

Things do get lost in e-mails, obviously.

Steve Salerno said...

This is sort of off-theme, but since we seem to have edged into the subject of vanity-thy-name-is-woman: Most of the adult females* I've known have said, at some point, something like the following: "Don't flatter yourself. Women dress for other women, not for men."

True? Untrue? Of indeterminate origin and veracity?

* "Adult females." That sounds vaguely like we'd be talking about fruit-fly larvae or something, doesn't it?

roger o'keefe said...

Women dress for other women? *Today's* women dress for other women? Give me a break.

Elizabeth said...

Good points, Cal, on the military marriages and all. I'm sure Dr. Laura would say that military wives are responsible; after all, in her universe, women are responsible for everything (especially everything evil).

Yes, Dr. Laura's son's story itself, not to mention her own marital misadventures, should give a pause to those who take advice from her on family matters. I think that story was hushed up, quickly enough after it exploded.

But I don't think she'll ever fade away -- and she's paraded in the media mostly for shock value, I imagine. Just see how much coverage the Spitzer's story itself got, and how much Dr. Laura's pronouncements on the subject did in comparison. She is a media darling, in her own perverse way. One would think that this kind of popularity is humiliating (or would be to anyone with some self-criticism and shreds of dignity). Well.

You ask, "Are they like weeds?" :) I dunno -- are they? Probably not weeds, because weeds are tough and resilient. Judging by Dr. Laura's opinions, they are more like frail and helpless seedlings, highly susceptible to unfriendly environmental conditions and able to survive only in a hothouse of feminine attention and care.

From the little that's publicly known about Dr. Laura's most recent marriage, it appears that she is the one who wears the pants in it, so maybe she knows what she's talking about, after all.

Elizabeth said...

Steve, I dress for my own pleasure.

But since we are on the subject of vanity, is it true that men buy those flashy sport cars to impress women?

The Crack Emcee said...



"That's what life does to all of us, Crack. And I have to say, with my utmost respect and fondness for you, you do not have the monopoly on suffering."

Believe me, Elizabeth, as someone from South Central who merely tells you guys a lot of stories about things I've seen, I know that my hurts (numerous though they are) don't add up to much. But they're real none-the-less for a boy from simple-minded South Central: If my foster mother was still alive, and I told her there was a very-real occult "movement" existing amongst "normal" white folks (I'm using SC vernacular here, Steve) that was even being helped along by some black people, like Oprah, she'd have ran for her Bible and never left the house again for the rest of her life. (My aunt and uncle took my parents to Vegas to see a show, and once the fan dancer's breasts showed up, that vacation was over as far as my folks were concerned.) That's the world I'm coming out of. Now, I was always smart enough to see through religion but The Occult? And to have discovered I actually married into it? Elizabeth, have you seen Rosemary's Baby? Would you tell Rosemary, "everybody's got problems"? Well, hi - I'm Rosemary. I'm a Rosemary who thought that, after a lifetime of struggle to get away from shootings, dead bodies, severed heads, rapes, gangsters, foster homes, and all the rest, I had seen it all - only to discover there's more: Now there are even more people - sinister people - that want my soul.

I'd say, after all I've heard of "white" life (divorces, mere murder, financial difficulties, etc.) that's unique.

And (just so you know) I was reading a religious person's site today and it gave me some food for thought about trying to get out more. So there.

"Moralistic does not mean moral, in my POV here. Moralistic is ramming down your intolerance into other people's lives without showing an ounce of concern for their reality. And hypocritical moralizing -- Dr. Laura's special brand -- is doing that while putting herself above others' judgment and not adhering to her own preached values. Dr. Laura is a first-class hypocrite; does this not bother you?"

Yes and no. One the one hand, if you look at the totality of what we know of Dr. Laura's life, she's been hypocritical. Since we all know how, I won't go any further. (Except to say, like Steve, I find her lack of credentials galling.)

On the other hand, she (and many others) are, in various ways, building a firewall against behaviors that I find irrational, and extremely corrosive, to a healthy society. And, if we are to look to each other, and try to see each other as human beings like ourselves, I find the demonization of people who, at least, believe in a healthy society (like, say, the president) to be a much bigger problem.

It's been said that one of the biggest differences between conservatives and liberals is how they handle the concept of "sin" (or, for us secularists, doing wrong): Liberals make excuses for it, while conservatives - who may do the exact same things - believe in punishment, making amends, etc. Many times, when I lay out my reasons why I don't want Hillary for president, my liberal friends will merely point out someone else who's done one or two of the exact same things, like compounding, or repeating, the wrong is the answer to things having been done wrong. The idea that we should try to stop the wrongs from happening doesn't cross their mind. That's what "moralistic" people are trying to get across, so, no, they don't bother me as much. The liberal approach, as presented, does.

Maybe, if liberals could voice their values in some manner that pointed to a better worldview, I'd feel different, but (like in Obama's speech) I can clearly see it's just a bunch of loose ideas, held together with duct tape, that they're hoping they can slip past me without me noticing: No dice. The "moralistic" crowd isn't doing that. They're saying, "Here it is - take it or leave it." And, in this new world I've recently been foisted into, filled with charlatans, I find that refreshing. So I don't blame "moralistic" people; I blame the Maharishi; I blame the "you can't know anything for sure" crowd; I blame westerners into Eastern religion; I blame the hippies for not knowing when to stop; I blame NewAge. I blame all the groups I now identify as having made "American" a debatable concept while they lived on her goodness and tried to suck her dry. Dr. Laura's going the other way.

Before you post on the woman/womyn thing, keep in mind - I was a soldier for the cause: Happily handing women the hammer they used to beat me over the head with.


Man, when I looked up and saw the array of women lined up to oppose me - I was a "man" once my divorce started, not that womyn's "soldier" I mentioned - and how everyone (police, courts, friends, even some family) regarded this "man" once my woman decided (even for cockamamy reasons) she was done with me, well, that was an eye-opener. Being a "husband", or a "man", or a "feminist", doesn't mean d*ck in this society and, unfortunately, you only find that out in the worst of circumstances and at the worst possible moments. Without other men (and a few of their wives) I know I wouldn't have made it: It all ran too deep.


I was a Spitzer fan but have since discovered things about him that made me regret my support. You're right: He was bad news.

And, yea, while I haven't read Dr. Laura's book, I have heard discussions about it on her show and wonder what the controversy (voiced by other women) is. Since men aren't looking for "validation" in the same way as women, we don't need much. My ex needed - needed - vacations to exotic places, spas, seminars, restaurants, "spirituality", massive amounts of attention, etc., while I'd fly through the roof if she brought me home something that tasted lemony. Just a whole different set of priorities. When we were divorcing, I thanked her for getting me a pair of red socks (long story) and she was so insulted. Like "That's it?" But that's what touched me most: Those red socks. She'd ruined all the other stuff with her final actions. The other stuff only mattered, to me, because we were together.


I don't feel like a victim. I feel like a zebra that's escaped a lion attack - but without a piece of it's butt.

About the power of women:

Elizabeth, when it comes to women, I feel like feminists have turned this country into a totalitarian state. Women will deny it but it's true. I guarantee you, right now, you can walk into almost any courthouse in this country and say "I'm scared" - nothing more - and the power of whatever state you're in will come crashing down on your significant other's head: Police will be at his door, putting him in handcuffs, while they "take a look around". They will have a court order, telling him where he can and cannot go, for the next three months. He will have to pay a lawyer to defend himself against your (alleged) fear. If you have kids, they may order them taken away from him. And all of this - and more - is "just in case" because you said you were "scared". In no other country on earth - except totalitarian states - can a human being's rights be snatched away so quickly for so little. (And lord help him if he owns a gun.) Totally totalitarian.

Almost all the women in my married life (our friends, etc.) had been discussing with my wife what she had been doing, and not one - not one - had the decency to say a word to me. Women I'd helped out of desperate scrapes - without my wife's assistance at all - had, all of a sudden, found common cause "sisterhood". They'd been whispering around me - you women do love to talk, don't you? - and conniving behind my back. (Remember that letter I showed you, I linked to it on my blog, from the feminist wife who's husband was conservative so, rather than respect her marriage vows, she snuck out to publicly read The Vagina Monologues without telling him? How does that happen? Where's the right and wrong?) Those women, in my life, got a thrill out of finally fooling me. And how'd they do it? In the same way - behind my back - by creating a web of deception that made everything worse when it all came apart. Totally totalitarian.

Now, I know what you're going to say: That was them. But I'll reply: Yes, "them". Not her: "them". It's part of the same female culture that destroys the trust in new marraiges by mothers telling daughters to keep a secret bank account - just in case - infecting the trust from the start. It's the women I overhear every-single-day at lunchtime, discussing what to do about some man they'll freely admit (to each other) they don't understand, but, damn it, they - "they" Elizabeth - have got a plan to get him in line. Will it be for the woman in question to directly, and honestly, speak her mind to him? Nope. It always boils down to manipulation of some kind. They, as a group, will guide him to thinking or doing what they want. Totally totalitarian.

Meanwhile, we dumb slobs are just going about our lives - "Hey, Steve, how's it going? How 'bout those Lakers?"

Do you feel me? I swear - we're friends, right? - I swear, I do not exaggerate here. That's what it was like. I'm not "over-generalising" (god, I'm sick of people saying that) women either don't want to deal with it, don't see it, or are benefiting so much from it that it's in their interest to deny it's so, but it is. (I mentioned Nora Vincent's book before: get it.)

Elizabeth, no one NewAge woman hurt a guy like me. It took an army of women (and gay men, I might add), a culture, laws, and men in uniform to enforce it. Totally totalitarian to the core. That's the true basis of the men's movements out there but - in this totalitarian state of womanhood - nobody's going to listen to them, right? They're just a bunch of "crazy" freaks who desperately want to see their kids again. Hell, they must have done something awful bad to have them taken away. I don't know what it was but I heard Elizabeth said she was scared.

It's bullsh*t.


She has talked about it on her show - it was a bogus story, spread by the (feminist) forces against her.

"Are [husbands] like weeds?"

No, they're people whose roles have been so devalued as to be almost worthless. I mean, looking at my own situation, psychics, astrologers, homeopaths, and a cavalcade of other NewAgers - all who I heard, on tape, dissing me for being a "man" - ultimately held more sway over my wife's views than I did, though we slept in the same bed, and she was paying them. Go figure: This is some world "the left" has created.

"How does she explain military men over in Iraq that cheat on their wives? Are they responsible when they are half a world away?"

Of course. What kind of question is that? You're trying to "gotcha". That's really unbecoming, don't you think?

Steve and Roger,

I've learned to discount that kind of talk. It's just a kind of one-upsmanship gambit. Look around and tell me it's true.

One more comment on Nora Vincent:

One of the things that blew her away was the male handshake. How old, warm, and practiced, it is. Like a bear hug. She describes two women greeting each other - even old friends - as two opposing magnets trying to be put together. She says we can it best in behaviors men have no equivalent for, like "air kisses".

Women dress for each other? Sure - like this: "Did you she what Carolyn wore?" "I know - wasn't it ghastly!"

Here's the male equivalent - direct approach: "Dude, what's your problem?"

That, to me, really is the difference between the sexes today: Women are using underhanded means to get what they want. They're just too insecure - as people, not because of men - to deal with things directly. (See Steve Sahen's post) I swear, I'm no Dr. Laura fan, but she does spend an inordinate amount of time telling women to deal with their husbands instead of outsiders to the marraige. And I couldn't agree more. That's who they took their vows with. Vows that mean something to "the man".

Damn it, Steve - I'm sorry but you brought it up - doesn't it bother you that you're debating ideas with your wife (and ultimately walking out of your kitchen, frustrated) when she's getting them from a bogus TV preacher? I've thought a lot about her statement that people "need" to think a certain way to go on. You're her husband - don't you go on?

I just don't get it.

Elizabeth said...

Crack. I get your pain. I really do. And it breaks my heart. I'm really sorry you've had to go through all this. I am glad to hear you've decided to get out more. And I'm not laughing at all. I sincerely hope that new experiences and new people will help lessen your anguish (if you let them).

But I must say that all these (unfair, yes) generalizations about women are a bit much for me. I am a woman, have you not noticed, and I do not think I'm guilty of even half of the things you say we women do. Yes, we women are imperfect and sometimes we can be really bad, in so many ways, but somehow I do not think we are the source of all deadly sins. If we are going to turn it into women-bashing, then maybe I was mistaken about Steve's tea salon being so cozy. I'm sorry. Don't get me wrong -- of course you have the right to bash whomever, whenever, in whatever manner you choose; I just don't want to be part of it, is all.

Steve Salerno said...

See, there is a very, very big issue lurking in this discussion; perhaps the biggest issue facing us as a culture striving for justice and cohesion:

To what extent are we allowed to impute validity to our own personal experience in deciding how we feel--intellectually--about life?

It's a question that's relevant to Obama's narrative of the black experience in America--and in the way that today's whites, who see themselves as blameless, then react to black anger. It's a question that's relevant to some men's experience with women (and vice versa; I don't think I need to say that many of today's women are extremely jaded in their opinions on men). It's a question that bears upon the very way in which each of us makes decisions about the course of his life, and the confidence we have in making those decisions....or are they really decisions at all? Could they just be subconscious hurt and hatred rearing up and baring their fangs...?

Anonymous said...

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an edited version of a comment posted anonymously to begin with. I took out what was clearly a personal attack:

I am nothing like these women CMC describes either.

Everyone has known bad and good women and men. It's called life! I dated some scoundrals before I got married, but I never believed all men were horrible. I let each man show me their true character. My father gives Satan a run for his money, but I had great men who raised me too. It is up to the individual to overcome adversity and find the good in others. Anything less, is just a reflection of victimhood.

Do you know how many guys I dated who let their ex-whatever rule their lives? Too many for me to count. What I learned was these guys had let their bitterness control their lives. I could have been Mother Teresa and they would still found fault with me. I just moved on. My husband had met women like that too. My husband never let his ex-wife and first marriage make him bitter about life, which is why we are married today.

Yes Steve, *some* women are jaded towards men and I have met many men who want me to pay for that. Is that fair? I don't think so.

Why can't women and men realize that it is up to them to learn from those experiences and move on?

RevRon's Rants said...

A victim, according to Merriam-Webster, is "one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions."

Steve, we have all been victims of circumstance at one time or another, frequently beyond our control. However, whether to learn from our experiences and move on to happy lives or to use bitterness and self-pity as a guiding force in our lives is a conscious decision we each must make. In each of us, the decision we make is apparent in our demeanor.

The Crack Emcee said...

It's just occurred to me that, even though I've sided with Mrs. Spitzer, Dr. Laura, Nora Vincent, Doris Lessing, and Christina Hoff Summers, the label of misogynist is being stuck to me like glue.

That's the tunnel-vision of feminism, folks.

Dislike it, and you hate all women. It's sick.

Anonymous said...

For an unmated female, reproducing is generally better than not, even if -- when monogamy is the public norm -- such a reproducing female has to be a single mother. An EPC (non-monogamous coupling) can provide a female, whether socially mated or not, with fertility insurance, just in case her current partner doesn't produce enough sperm. She might also increase the genetic variety of her offspring by bearing the children of more than one male. An especially important consideration seems to be the genetic quality of her additional lover(s). It is very rare, for example, for already mated females to copulate on the sly with males who are socially subordinate to their current mates. Among those animals in which males sport secondary sexual traits that indicate unusual health and that females find sexually stimulating (bright plumage, enlarged feathers, especially attractive body features of other sorts), females will often mate with those fortunate males who are unusually good specimens, particularly if their own mates are less than prepossessing in this regard.

Barn swallows, for example, have deeply forked tails. The deeper the fork, the greater the appeal to females. Female barn swallows paired with males whose tails are only so-so tend to sneak copulations with neighboring males whose tail forkings have been artificially enhanced by researchers. Among the European birds known as yellowhammers, older males are brighter yellow; their enhanced brightness indicates that they have good longevity genes and also makes them more attractive to female yellowhammers, especially those mated to males whose yellow is less prepossessing.

A female can also gain immediate personal payoffs from successful EPCs. In some cases, she may be permitted to forage on territory maintained by a male, provided that she first copulates with him. When several adults cooperate in provisioning the young, males often adjust their parental efforts depending on their sexual access to the female: more fucking, more feeding. By inducing more than one male to have an interest -- or think he has an interest -- in the outcome of a bout of sex, cagey females reduce their own parenting duties. There are some species, including lions and a number of primates, in which adult males are likely to kill young they have not fathered. It has been suggested that in such cases females may have evolved to be sexually receptive to more than one male as a way of reducing the risk eventually faced by their offspring.

Neither are humans naturally monogamous. Anthropologists report that the overwhelming majority of human societies either are polygynous or were polygynous prior to the cultural homogenization of recent decades. They also suggest that individuals are mildly polygynous, having evolved in a system in which one man maintains a harem. This, incidentally, helps explain the persistent sex appeal of successful, dominant men, whether they be high-ranking politicians, movie or rock stars, glamorous athletes or wealthy entrepreneurs. Power, as Henry Kissinger once noted, is the ultimate aphrodisiac. At the same time, women can and do seek additional sex partners, even when already mated. Thus, monogamy -- when it occurs -- is shot through with EPCs, not just among birds. Otherwise, why would men have such a powerfully developed tendency for sexual jealousy?

Why, then, does monogamy occur at all? Maybe it's like Winston Churchill's observation that democracy is the worst possible form of government except for all the others that have been tried. At least monogamy is a great equalizer (in theory). It assures that in a species with equal numbers of males and females, no one need be left out. But at the same time, it cannot and does not prevent individuals of either sex from looking elsewhere.

The Crack Emcee said...


If you get so upset we can't talk then the game is blown. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings.


It's not "life" - it's "people" - and these ideas they come up with. I'm not talking about individuals, I'm talking about an "ism" - feminism - which has a culture, organizations, foot soldiers, to advance it's cause. That's what rolls over individuals.

Women aren't the source of all sins - by a long shot - but I don't think many women get the same point Elizabeth asks of me: They're pain ain't all there is - and they can cause a lot for themselves and others. As I guy, and an outspoken one, I've had to grow up with the knowledge there's always somebody bigger, stronger, and less inclined to just talk. That's ultimately every woman's beef. But to deny men live with the same thing - women giving themselves an "get out of jail free" card - just compounds the problem. Adds another layer to the potential for problems for everyone. And they don't deal with that.

BTW, I don't know a woman who will cop to it. Even the women I clearly see doing it denies it. As Doris Lessing says, the capacity for self-analysis in women today is severely lacking.

I know women, good women, who'd never fall for the feminist line. They support their husbands - who will kill for them. (The deepest form of manipulation those women would engage in is maneuvering their guy into position for his surprise party.) But, generally, that's not what's going on out there: People are telling women to look outside of their marriages, turn away from their husbands, find "yourself" for fulfillment. Creating a new truth. But there is no new truth. They're just creating new pains as one group attempts to walk over another. And that causes new resentments. And, as far as I know, there is no male equivalent.

This attitude that one should just "move on" to walk into another brick wall, switching husbands and wives with each new disappointment - each time vowing it's for "life" - is nonsense. Somebody was doing wrong to someone who was truly committed and believed in the good the other encouraged. And that attitude's allowing that wrong, which is probably the most corrosive in society, to breed and grow like a cancer. Nobody wants to marry, have kids, accept responsibility, anymore. My male friends would rather play video games than listen to a woman now. That's the world feminism is creating. "Where do each of us fit into that?" is the question.

It's one many people, men and women, are too cowardly to answer.

And - yes, I'm going there - meanwhile, Al Qaeda lurks, knowing what they believe in. Don't want to use your heads? Fine. You'll lose it. They ain't confused. They see us as weak simply because we pay so much lip service to this nonsense. And we are. Many people are actually considering picking a leader for our country (in war time!) based on race and sex - nothing more. It doesn't get more pathetic than that. It doesn't get more Alice In Wonderland than that. That's the result of a drugged-up generation that thought discovering The Beatles made them better than the generation that defeated the Nazis - it's kooky. And it's wrong. They had the numbers and that's all:

They were severely lacking in common sense.

roger o'keefe said...

To the most recent Anon who left a comment at 1:59 above: You are a literate and scientific person, and I think that like many such people, what you miss in this equation is only THE WHOLE POINT. We humans aren't just another species to be cataloged by phylum, order, what have you. We are human beings, endowed with the capacity to override the biological programming that makes lesser animals lesser animals. This is not a religious argument, but an argument that's just as scientific as your own. You cannot, after all, deny the reality and existence of the human mind, with its glorious ability to civilize and mitigate the base primate tendencies that you refer to here.

If that were not true, the female of our species would still be chewing off the cord and eating the placentas after delivery.

Anonymous said...

Roger, I am going to throw this argument back at you. You have stated that markets should not be interfered with yet you will quibble with a scientific statement? So humans are above being unfaithful, but not able to deal with each other ethically in business?

Anonymous said...

Barn swallow or not, being unfaithful takes too much work. I just don’t know how people can do it. Mating and romancing takes effort and there are other outlets for my time. I got married so I wouldn’t have to think about that stuff.

RevRon's Rants said...

To me, "moving on" simply means choosing not to walk into the same brick walls I've already encountered, without devoting my emotional energy to hating the walls.

To analogize, copperheads are prolific in this part of the world. They aren't evil; they're just snakes. My dad was terrified of the things, and looked so intently for them that he missed out on ever enjoying a sojourn into the woods. Ironically, there were a couple of times that had someone else (me, actually) not intervened, he would have stepped on the things and gotten himself bitten. He was so focused upon the objects he feared that he was blinded to their presence. That blindness was a very real physical danger to him.

When we focus our fear/hatred/anger on something, we end up just as blinded, and the resulting emotional venom is just as destructive, albeit not on a physical level... at least, not immediately.

The Crack Emcee said...

Elizabeth, are you out there?

C.N.M. said...


One of my bff is from SC. We were roomies for a few years. What a guy! He taught me a lot about racism in a town I once believed was not racist.

We all project our life experiences onto others. How is Dr. Laura, the performer, anti-totalitarian state? I know of her from charitable events and she writes for the local paper. The person who plays Dr. Laura is not the performer, Dr. Laura. I've heard her radio show infrequent but enough to get the differences. She was not even authentic orthodox, she did join up and did the act. At times she may write as if she's not totalitarian, but she turns around and wants to censor according to her small group of elitists, who are trying to take over local government for their "needs", more yacht slips and helipads. She's for replacing one group of totalitarians with her more exclusive and harsh group of totalitarians. Don't be fooled. Do you think the marriage to Dr. Lou Bishop is like the fantasies she projects? She does wear all the pants in that charade.

I don't mind as much that she's a misogynist or not. My problem with her is her dishonesty about almost everything and how destructive she continues to be in the community. What's wrong within a society that allows immoral people to scam the naive? How can reasonably intelligent people trust her at any level? Why did Meredith Vieira's boss allow Laura Schlessinger to be on a panel that furthered the Dr. Laura illusion?

I'd like to see a more responsible FCC deal with all the sham doctors in media. The way she works the charity world needs deep inquiry, as well.

Crack, there are people who know Derek, her son. He's had many internet accounts and friends who know that is what he's like. He wasn't charged by the Army but they didn't say that was not his cartoon. The pictures are him. I think the Army did state it wasn't the foes of Dr. Laura, gay activists, feminists and so on. It was her son. What must be looked into is how the government camouflaged this incident within minutes of seeing the evidence.

Cal, there was almost a total media black out on her son's problems. Her troubles with him go back long before the military. It is not unusual for the rich to conceal unsavory family members. In this situation she's entwined with the publishing world and the military. Her son will act out again and one of these times he might not have a way out.

Steve, you are appreciated for all you're doing. Keep it keeping on.

Elizabeth said...

I am, Crack.

Anonymous said...

A lot of what is being discussed is what I call, “my way or the highway” thinking. This describes a person who is so insecure he or she cannot tolerate another point of view and takes any view other than their own as a form of criticism. Men and women can both be guilty of this mindset and neither are ever very happy.

It is an overused phrase, but an apt one, people need each other. People do not need to be around people who invalidate them, because of their own insecurities though. I am not saying people should treat others unethically, but if your significant other dismisses your feelings over and over, he or she is dismissing you. What is the point of being with that person then? You would do better with a brick wall.

In business it’s called “throwing good money after bad.” At first you try to reason with the other party, but as time goes on you realize that person would rather “win” then listen to you as a person. This is where you waste your time in dialogue with them. You keep trying to open avenues of communication, but the person hears “blue” when you’ve said “green.” You can stay and waste more time or you can cut your losses and move on. In business, a company has a set business plan to meet. It either meets the plan or the money gets cut-off. I think that is apt for relationships too.

Now I am not advocating bad behavior. A person treating you bad does not give license to break marriage vows or visit hookers. If you have gone to the other party and said, “I’m having problems in this area with you and here’s why, etc.” I believe it is only fair that the other party listen to you with an open mind and try to empathize with you. If the other party is unwilling or unable to do this, you have your answer.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon...I want to be entirely sure I understand what you're saying here. At first I thought you were talking about styles of argument (or discussion). Then I thought you might be giving us your version of what you think happened in Spitzer's case. Or--which I think more likely--are you giving us a general explanation for infidelity? Please clarify if/when you have the time and the inclination.

The Crack Emcee said...


I honestly don't think Dr. Laura fools me. (I've said, a number of times, I'm not a fan.)Neither do Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, or any of the other conservative media mandarins who (I'm sure) wouldn't be able to sit and enjoy my favorite Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel album with me. I'm an artist, and atheist, who just doesn't choose to condemn them with the same vigor I reserve for a sleazy Left that hasn't been any more honest than they are - far from it, actually.

Here's what confuses me: why doesn't the Left, which spends so much effort trying to discredit the Right, clean up it's own house? That's the only way they're going to find resonance with the likes of me now. Not by continually pointing out their opposition is imperfect too. I know that. We all are. But it was the Left that chased me into the arms of the Right. Offering more of the same isn't going to get me, or Christopher Hitchens, or David Mamet - any of the macho heavy-hitter types of the Left - back: We don't want to hear "change", we want to see it, and that just ain't in the cards. It's just the same lousy hand.

So I'm done with feminism, attacks on alleged "white" racists, conspiracies against my government, and charges against my president. I'm done with Eastern philosophy, alternative medicine, radical environmentalism, "spirituality", and animal rights that supersede human concerns. I'm done with identity politics, celebrity endorsements, NewAge fads, Self-Help's so-called gurus, and cultish thinking. I'm done with Universal Healthcare, Europe's feelings about us, Global Warming, and whether or not Africa's dictators ever get a clue. I'm done with all of it.

Now, I care about the United States, and it's place and role in the world. I care about winning the war(s) and doing whatever it takes to ensure no one ever even considers attacking America again. I care about keeping food and oil, crime, and taxes, low. I care about families being able to raise kids who can think, adults with job opportunities, and more people taking the words "right", "wrong", and "responsibility", seriously. I care about a revitalized American art movement, a respect for truth, the values of the Enlightenment, and a new American Century.

When any of that is included as part of the Democratic party's platform, you'll know where to find me:

I'm the guy talking to Elizabeth.

The Crack Emcee said...


I'm really, really, sorry, and I promise I'll try to use my words with more care, O.K.?

Now go: talk.

I'm listening.

Elizabeth said...

Crack, you said, "If you get so upset we can't talk then the game is blown. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings."

It's alright, Crack. It wasn't all your doing anyway.

As to "talking to Elizabeth," LOL, judging by your conditions, it is going to be a long wait, Crack. In the meantime, let me remind you that I happen to represent a lot of, if not all, that you think is wrong with America: I am a liberal feminist, who loves socialized medicine and thinks that absolute free market is incompatible with humanity. And I have friends who are liberal feminists. I like France and its people. Also their food. As if that was not bad enough, there is a strong possibility I may become Buddhist in the future, though I'm not certain yet. So now what?

Steve Salerno said...

Folks, at some point we have to learn to separate the personal from the political. We just have to. Otherwise there is no hope....

RevRon's Rants said...

So long as broad-stroke denigration of anyone who holds a given political/spiritual worldview - or is even a member of a given gender - is acceptable within the dialog, it will be impossible to separate the personal from the political. Remember... there's a huge gray area between political correctness and obnoxiousness, and that's where intelligent discourse happens. Allow the conversation to go to either extreme, and intelligent conversation ends.

Anonymous said...

Rev's correct in his assessment. Who wants to talk when he or she will get bashed for their gender, ethnic make-up, age, or ideas. Why waste the time?

Anonymous said...

Steve, my "my way or the highway" thinking applies to all that you asked me about.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron et al, not that it's going to make a difference, but I'll tell you a longish story that I probably shouldn't tell, as it may offend some people. (I would hope by now that people know ME better than to "kill the messenger." But ya never know.) I'm telling it because I think it makes an important point that we often lose sight of.

This story concerns my late brother-in-law, and goes back to Brooklyn, when I was 12 or 13. At the time, he and my sister had just gotten married and lived in our finished basement.

To all appearances, my brother-in-law was an extremely bigoted man. He worked for the gas company, and his usual route was "the projects," so night after night he'd come home and regale us with his latest story about "the niggers" or "the jigaboos"--stories that we tolerated, I suppose, because (a) it was "that era" and there was a great deal of social unrest going on in Brooklyn, and (b) most of these stories were told with a certain corrosive good humor, if that makes any sense. Let me reiterate: Neither (a) nor (b) excuses our passivity in the face of my brother-in-law's racism. It just happened, and I don't know that there's more that I can say in explaining it. If you want to know what Brooklyn was like where I grew up, rent/watch Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. That pretty much nails it.

But here's the kicker. One night my brother-in-law calls and says he's coming home with a couple of guys from work. And guess what? The two dudes he brings in...are black. (I thought my father was going to fall off his chair, not so much because there were black guys in his house, but because my brother-in-law, of all people, had invited them in!) And they're laughing and back-slapping and acting like they all sprang from a common womb. And the thing is, they weren't pretending! There was no reason for my brother-in-law to even bring those dudes home in the first place, except for the fact that they truly liked each other and enjoyed each other's company. Clearly there was genuine affection between them. And even as young as I was, I realized that this wasn't about hypocrisy, per se, but that there was something much deeper and more eminently human going on; I realized that it's possible for human beings to maintain an almost totally schizoid duality between what they think, or think they think, and what they actually do in living their lives from day to day. For all I know, those black guys might have gotten in their truck on the way home and told stories about my brother-in-law and/or other honkies.

A few years later, when I was older and felt I had more of a franchise in challenging my elders, I asked my brother-in-law about it. He shrugged and said, "There are black guys and there are niggers." (For the record, comedian DL Hughley has a routine that explores that supposed dichotomy, which, I hasten to add, I am not stipulating as reality. I'm just saying, it's an "observation" that wasn't unique to my brother-in-law.) But you see, I don't think my brother-in-law really felt that way about any actual "niggers." I think that those loathsome jokes and other remarks were motivated by a kind of fear and formless rage over a concept; they were a reaction to a lot of very bad things then going on in New York and other cities. What my brother-in-law said had nothing to do with how he felt about, or reacted to, any black people he actually met or got to know.

Point being, it is entirely possible to "hate" a concept and its conceptual adherents, e.g. "feminism and feminists," and yet like (and yes, even respect) every single woman that you meet. In fact, it is quite human to be that way. How many men and women do you know who absolutely rail about marriage and/or the opposite gender? Every other comedy act nowadays seems rooted in the irresolvable antipathy between men and women. But don't we all date and marry? Don't we all bring another generation into the world?

What you think and say is not what you are. (Often, I'm convinced, it isn't even really what you think.) You learn what you are by watching what you do.

Elizabeth said...

Scrap my last question, Steve, unless you already started answering it. Here is what I think.

We can no more separate personal from political than detach our heads from our bodies, or become disembodied entities trading pure thoughts through our computers. It just does not happen this way -- not for Crack, not for me, not for RevRon, not for anyone else on this forum, or any other in the cybersphere. Not even for you, Steve.

Personal is political and vice versa. And it can't be otherwise. We bring our beating hearts and battle scars to every discussion about "pure ideas," and especially to politics. It actually scares me to hear people say that they have separated their political from personal, because they are either not telling the truth, manipulating you, or living in a massive denial, or all of the above.

It's not the impossible separation we need to strive for, but maintaining respect for each other despite our political differences. That respect should acknowledge the beating hearts and battle scars, by the way, otherwise we needlessly wound the first and multiply the second. Needlessly.

Steve Salerno said...

It's interesting, Eliz, that you and I were probably composing our comments (i.e. your newest and my most-previous) at the same moment. And look where we ended up: totally different places. Fascinating.

Elizabeth said...

And yet we are closer than we may appear in this distorting mirror of imperfect words.

Steve Salerno said...

I am an optimist by nature, Elizabeth. (No laughing allowed, SHAMbloggers.) I believe that people like, and want to like, other people. Maybe it's because we're herd animals or whatever. I don't know why we devise all of these other psychic notions that separate us; I don't know why it seems so important to some people to keep others at arm's length, either philosophically or even literally. And I say that as someone who has tried to do that very thing for most of his life, in fact (and despite my almost-profound affection for the people who find their way in. I could be a lifetime project for even the best shrink). So who knows?

Elizabeth said...

"What you think and say is not what you are. (Often, I'm convinced, it isn't even really what you think.) You learn what you are by watching what you do."

What you are saying here is that both our words and thoughts deceive us (as we tend to be confused, deluded, etc.) And I agree, btw.

But then, Steve, the obvious follow up question is: So what remains?

What is that thing that makes us "what we are" and makes us do what we do? If not words and thoughts, then what is it? What do you think made your BIL to embrace his black buddies?

Could it be the so neglected and pushed aside (gasp) heart? As in empathy, compassion and common bond between all of us, human beings?

What do you think?

RevRon's Rants said...

"You learn what you are by watching what you do."

As a child, it would be expected to defer to the actions of one's elders, even when you find those actions distasteful. As an adult, however, there is little in the way of excuse for allowing and even encouraging boorishness - especially within a forum supposedly devoted to intelligent discourse. The fact that a boor may well behave appropriately in one milieu does not infer license for abusiveness in another, IMO. Granting that license effectively lowers the bar on the caliber of discussion, and inspires some people whose perspectives might prove to be interesting to avoid participation in the exchanges. Only you can decide if that is an acceptable trade-off.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: In a word, yes. But the heart also can hate. The heart confounds us because its actions--like a computer program whose code is forever hidden and unknowable--cannot be predicted or explained.

Elizabeth said...

You're right, Steve, the heart confounds us.

Nobody teaches us about the workings of the heart, but they are, in fact, as universal and predictable, though not necessarily explainable, as the laws of gravity (see my previous posts on emotional illiteracy). We fumble trying to learn about it throughout our lives because we fear these lessons, since they are painful, more often than not. We protect ourselves from the pain by keeping others at arm's length, or by putting others down, or whatever other means (we think) work best for us. In other words, by keeping our hearts closed -- and thus protected (or so we think). And yes, the heart can hate when it's neglected and mistreated (another universal). This is also predictable (and sometimes explainable, to a degree).

But we won't learn anything as long as we keep our hearts closed. You can't have a change of heart unless you open it.

Hm. Perhaps we should write "The Proper Care and Feeding of The Hearts: The Emotional Literacy Project." (To be published by SHAMblog Press.;)

Steve Salerno said...

Well, I think we've recently discovered where we both agree--and now this is probably where we most differ. I do not believe in free will or even free thought. (In other words, I believe that every single thought is predetermined.) Same for every single emotion. So if change is going to occur, it probably isn't going to occur from within the "closed system" of the individual (or it will occur on its own sweet timetable), but rather will require that closed system to be acted upon by outside forces. That's why, ideally, we shouldn't write people off--even people who piss us off. Of course, if we have to, we have to. There's no choice, after all. ;)

Elizabeth said...

Actually, Steve, we do not differ on this either -- or not by much. (Though I have a feeling we are talking near each other, rather than to each other, but so be it. I gotta go buy Easter ham and eggs, so have no time expanding on it now.)

Crack, are you there? Hope I did not scare you too much?

roger o'keefe said...

No offense to anyone, but I feel as if I stepped away for a few moments, then I come back and I'm at a knitting circle or a bridge club. All this whining and wheedling about opening our hearts and recognizing human dignity and the like. It's a freakin BLOG!

To my way of thinking, this is evidence, even here on an ANTI-self help site of all places, of Steve's point about how self-help has feminized our way of looking at life. Jesus H Christ, can't anybody just say what's on their mind anymore and be done with it?

Steve Salerno said...

I remind you again, folks: I'm just the messenger.

Elizabeth said...

Roger, and you say it like it's a bad thing...;)

Yeah, all that heart talk makes one nauseous. It's about feelings, eew. How feminine, yuck. We know that only females have them. Because men are rational and to-the-point, no feelings in their pronouncements, no way.

Wait, whaddya say about whining and wheedling? There would not be a feeling embedded in your words there, would it? C'mon, man, get a hold of yourself, after all it's a frikkin BLOG!

And don't even get me started on that whole dignity crap. Who needs that nonsense! Jesus H Christ... (no offense, and no feeling there either, of course).

OK, Roger, seriously now, substitute emotional response(s) for heart, maybe that'll make it easier.

And now let's return to our previously scheduled clobbering.


Anonymous said...

So how is your quilt coming along Roger?

Anonymous said...

I understand your story about your brother-in-law, but I don't agree with your thoughts about what constitutes people. I think what people say tells you who they are. We have two ears, because we need to listen twice as much as we speak. I think that would hold for blogging too.

I do my best to match up my thoughts, words, and deeds. Maybe I am unique, but it makes my life easier to manage. It's called being congruent. I work very hard at being self-aware and fair. Being fair is very important to me.

I'm all for compassion, but not intolerant behavior. If a person can't figure out their experience is *their* experience, they are not capable of having an exchange of ideas. They will paint every debate with their view, which is just one experience. Dandelion Hannity is very guilty of this, to show I am fair, Uber Olbermann is too.

On a side note, you’re not doing anyone any favors by not pointing out this type of behavior. An important quality to look for in a friend is the ability to tell the truth. That means saying, “hey is this what you really mean? Did you really mean to say this?” Most people allow this type of behavior to go and that is cruel in my view, but they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Elizabeth said...

Roger 'n all,
this to wash off that nauseating taste of the heart comments -- it's Pinker's article on the hea..., I mean moral instinct, from January this year (since I was not here, don't know whether you saw/talked about it).
It's relevant to this thread, as well as to SHAMblog in general (and political/moral discussions specifically).

The Crack Emcee said...


Yea, I'm here, just climbed into my shell for a while. And, no, you didn't scare me.

The crowd that showed up, with the torches and pitchforks, didn't surprise me either: I've seen "Frankenstein" and (despite the fact there's an actual monster in the village) they don't come off as the most intelligent, or sympathetic, bunch.

Look, my apology was real, Elizabeth - right from the heart - but, as much as it was contrition for hurting your feelings, it was also an acknowledgment (once again) that I understand I don't write as well as I like: everything comes off harsher than I intend. Which is fine for my blog, but - as in visiting any friend's house - I respect Steve enough to try play by his rules when I visit his place. Luckily enough, he's got a pretty good grasp on the concept of freedom, which makes me want to accommodate him. (Other folks, not so much.) I know he likes to keep things cool so I try not to swear, and, unless it's someone I really don't care for, I don't want to be the cause of his guests leaving. So, just so you know, he didn't ask me to apologize: I did it on my own - and I meant it.

And (this might seem like going a bit overboard to some; playing "teacher's pet" or something, but) "Thank you, Steve" for not asking anything of me for it: lesser men might have decided to bend their principles if a woman was offended by a guy, but you didn't, and that speaks volumes, to me, about the nature of your heart and the strength of your values. I continually feel I was right to have written you originally, back when my life had come apart, and I'm (still) amazed at how much I can learn from you about how to navigate the thicket of ethical dilemmas this new landscape presents. You're truly a great guy, and I appreciate all the time and attention you've put forth on my behalf. I hope I can return the favor one day, under more pleasant circumstances, I truly do.


I like that story about your brother-in-law. Not because it features black guys or anything but because it speaks to the human condition. It won't surprise anyone here to know I got popped in the mouth, exactly a week ago, because a friend said he was sick of my "certainty". What shocked him, and everyone that heard about it later, was that I didn't do anything in return. (I coulda crushed the guy. I had a friend pull a butcher knife on me, one time, that got the same reaction - which, to my ex, was insane.) Instead, this time, I just told my friend I was ashamed of him.

Why did I react like that? Because I've known him since he was fourteen. (He's 28 now.) He's had some really, really, tough breaks which, to me, have always lent him an air of poignancy, even after he grew up, became bullheaded, and stopped being so cute anymore.

Over the years he's had to rely on my advice to understand things but, with my change of political parties and post-divorce outlook, he's recently been determined to test my commitment and see if the old guy he once knew was still in there somewhere. Anyway, the day after he hit me, he called, blubbering, saying he was sorry and hoping we were still friends, which, I assured him, we were.

The reason I'm mentioning all this, after your story, is to say (and I hope you "spiritual" types are listening:) I know that none of us are just what we appear on the surface. I can be intimidating but, as Elizabeth noticed, there's a soft side in there somewhere. My friend may rely on me but he, obviously, resents it. My ex may be "spiritual" but there's a lot of evil lurking back there too.

So what's really real? Is America, because of its size and strength of its military, a form of "Big Brother" on the rest of the world? Or is it, by it's example of openness and willingness to act on the behalf of others far away, the best hope we have of stabilizing a dangerous planet? Are religion and spirituality actually filling a need that people have, or is it a con game, allowing our best intentions to be subverted by solipsism and arrogance? Is feminism a way for women to find find "liberation" or just another means to start a fight that'll get men (of a generation that generally supports women, I might add) to back away from their goals entirely? Elizabeth, is France really such a wonderful place - with wonderful food, politics, culture, and people - or is it a place where they eat the same boring crap a lot, are anti-American to the point of having a mental disease, lost in a sea of outdated ideologies, and so insecure they have to project arrogance onto everyone they come in contact with who isn't French? I think (and I think you, Steve, would agree) there's much more here than meets the eye.

I may be a bull in china shop about it but I think, in some ways, I know better. Call it "life in the ghetto", or blame it on an upbringing in foster homes, or who knows what, but the veneer that so many others want to be there just isn't for me: I see it plain. And, as Malcolm X said, I say it plain. Right, Roger?

The only person that conned me is the person I let in to con me. The rest of you can decide how you want to live your lives but, I think, my way (the American way) is closer to the truth - or a truth - than many of you outwardly softer types would care to admit.

I just got a call - gotta go to work.

You all mean a lot to me: let's not blow it.

Steve Salerno said...

Folks, I've said this to many of you individually, and now I say it for popular consumption: I do the best I can at picking my way through the thicket of (for the most part) very slyly assembled comments, many of which dwell in the realm of sarcasm to a greater or lesser degree, and at least some of which quite clearly were crafted by an author who made a determined effort to see how close s/he could come to "the line" without crossing it and thus suffering the ignominy of having his/her comment edited or even rejected. (I've had to edit/reject three comments already this weekend.) This is not an easy task, even less so when you're dealing with highly intelligent visitors who are expert at using nuance (and language generally) to their advantage. (If you think it's easy, try it.) What seems perfectly innocent to one of us may strike another of us as an unvarnished personal attack. And some people interpret anything that attacks their stated position as a personal attack--which is, of course, absurd. If that standard were upheld, it would totally preclude discourse of any kind.

So again...I apologize to people who feel victimized by things said on this blog. Just remember that I never purposely let one person "have at" another.

Anonymous said...

Placentophagy (from 'placenta' + Greek φαγειν, to eat) is the act of mammals eating the placenta of their young after childbirth.

The placenta contains high levels of prostaglandin which stimulates involution (an inward curvature or penetration, or, a shrinking or return to a former size) of the uterus, in effect cleaning the uterus out. The placenta also contains small amounts of oxytocin which eases birth stress and causes the smooth muscles around the mammary cells to contract and eject milk.

There is also a school of thought that holds that placentophagy naturally occurred to hide any trace of childbirth from predators in the wild, though the amniotic fluid not similarly ingested by the mother seems to discount this theory. Most placental mammals participate in placentophagy, including, surprisingly, herbivorous ones. Pinnipedia and Cetacea are exceptions to mammalian placentophagy, as is the camel. Placentophagy has been observed in Insectivora, Rodentia, Chiroptera, Lagomorpha, Carnivora, Perissodactyla, Artiodactyla (with the camel as a noted exception), and Primates. Marsupials, which are an order of metatherian (pouched) mammals, resorb rather than deliver the placenta, and therefore cannot engage in placentophagia; they do, however, vigorously lick birth fluids as they are excreted.

The most general benefit of placentophagy, according to recent research, is that placenta and amniotic fluid contain a molecule (POEF, Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor) that modifies the activity of endogenous opioids in such a way that produces an enhancement of the natural reduction in pain that occurs shortly before and during delivery.

Elizabeth said...

You gotta marvel at this, Steve:
This particular thread evolved in response to your post titled, "Of the people, for the people... in the people." Almost prophetic, no? ;) In a self-fulfilling sense.

And as if that was not enough, you encourage people in the beginning "to feel perfectly free to wade in as deeply as they care to." Be careful what you ask for. :)

If nothing else, I think we have shown that we, each of us, have an awesome power to affect each other through our words and from behind computer screens. Disembodied we are definitely not, despite (occasional?) wishes to the contrary. (And the cliche about responsibility associated with having power may be worth remembering here. I say this as one who too often forgets.)

C.N.M. said...


I was fooled by "Dr. Laura", no biggie, because I didn't invest in listening to her. I didn't consider her as "self-help". I had heard the name over the years and got the idea she counseled and was a M.D. It was when she moved to Santa Barbara and this "Dr. Laura" was around and one day we heard the physiology facts. The community began to research her past. She was a fraud to many of us. As we got to know her, she only went downhill after that.

I don't know you, maybe you aren't fooled? What amazed me was when you wrote something about those who were "totalitarian", as if she wasn't "totalitarian". It would take an encyclopedia to go into detail of "totalitarian" examples. She is often ignored here, but there are the times when the pot is stirred. She has a column 2 days each week. It is online for anyone to read.

Are you a musician, writer? It was Dr. Laura attempts as an art critic when she first started to appear "totalitarian" for me. There is a small local documentary called "Much Ado About W: Art Wars of Santa Barbara". The one I saw talked of Dr. Laura and "W". If anyone is interested to check out that part of her character or her relationship to community, google it. More so, it was yet another art project that upset her. The exhibit was at the Sullivan Goss Gallery. John Nava paintings, Neo Icons, 2006. It riled a group enough to make violent threats and the police got involved. No bomb went off, it was more like a warning. Nothing much was made of the
Dr. Laura column where she left out morals, like bomb threats are a no, no. She seemed to deliver a message for a group. It was not that she was against violent threats or actions. Sometimes you show you agree by not scolding bad behavior. She sets up others to say the words, it wasn't her "opinion" so much that said to censor, it is up to the artist to censor. The artist should know what others will approve? If not, there will be fires, bombs and so forth. I didn't read the book Dr. Laura suggested, I heard there was more silencing. She is slick, her "suggestions" don't stick to her. Online you can see the exhibit that was worthy of bomb threats at a downtown exhibit for the opening. Check it out, you might be shocked. Artists like Nava need to buy the whole belief system, of the group Dr. Laura supports, in order to produce exhibits that Dr. Laura's group will accept with peace.

I don't want to go into the multitude of reasons many in a town of 100,000 see her as "totalitarian", worse actually.

Not being that familiar with her "self-help" spiel, I can't say that part is "totalitarian". I can think of local incidents concerning relationships where she was on a "totalitarian" side. For the political part in Santa Barbara, it's as much the "right" that has a problem with Dr. Laura. On both the "right" and "left" there are those of high moral character and the shady ones. Btw, she recently wrote that she, the person behind the act, is a registered Independent. I don't know what that's about. She likes Bush, wanted Rudy, doesn't care for McCain, so far.

I was also confused, what did you mean about "morals" & Dr. Laura. You also say she's a hypocrite. A hypocrite that you like for her "morals"? I'm annoyed to digusted with anyone who lies to me. Dr. Laura can be looked at in different ways. I know she can have a nice social persona, it's the public money making machine that is the offender. Then there is her manifesto or what it is she dictates from. As you know, she and the Dr. Phil's are a modern day take on old scams. If they bottled fake medicine to sell as viagra, they'd be run out of town. Where are the morals when known hypocrites are allowed to lie to get fame and money? Why do they get by with their hypes? I don't even get how she is "self help" unless the only "self" is the Dr. Laura legacy.

"conservatives - who may do the exact same things - believe in punishment, making amends, etc."

They believe in punishment, making amends except for their transgressions. Her adult son's My Space incident was in legitimate publications, she claims falsely that it was not. The Dr. Laura team knows good damage control means you speak up and address issues right away, they did not. They attack the messengers instead. Not an ounce of making amends, etc. It is wrong to continue to blame the reporter at the Salt Lake Tribune or the vague "activist" groups. The entire incident needs a deep probe. If people knew more facts they would not use the excuse that "feminists" hacked a My Space and put up pictures of a group of friends. It matters because there have been so many lies told and for Easter we now count 4,000 dead Americans in Iraq alone. One incident won't change how the military handles public relations, but it's a part of the corruption and lack of morals that needs attention. Taking responsibility is important as a step toward ending the egregious behaviors. If your neighbor's adult child made threats or indicated child molesting and killing fantasy, you'd want to know incidents were handled righteously. An explanation and responsible behavior are paramount. So far Schlessinger lied the one time it came up. Her minions spread lies about who they allege did it.

You ended with "- and I'm pretty sure about this - Dr. Laura wouldn't try to silence them." What can I say? There is a necessity to know, learn more about Dr. Laura, if good people believe that. She is a silencer.

"building a firewall" "The idea that we should try to stop the wrongs from happening doesn't cross their mind. That's what 'moralistic' people are trying to get across, so, no, they don't bother me as much." ? ?
I don't get it... maybe Elizabeth can enlighten

Transparency and truth will help with "winning the war(s)".


And anyone interested in documentary film, there is also "Citizen McCaw", "It's the story about how a local daily newspaper impacts the life of a community". This gives you an idea of the climate around here. The Guardian has a brief review, 2008-03-24. There is so much to cover, we hear they are working on part two of "Citizen McCaw". The producers want to hear from both sides. If you think Dr. Laura journalistic endeavors deserve more attention, pro or con, let them know.

Dr. Laura is one of the characters at the Santa Barbara News-Press. She's a minor player, except her "manifesto" is public knowledge and her name and behaviors get reactions. Her on screen presence was booed at the sold out premier earlier this month. I am possibly too late for Crack to see this. The documentary is about journalism, ethics & Wendy McCaw.