Monday, September 29, 2008

Change Happens

I went to the classroom today and taught as if everything in the world were normal.

I did ask for and present news on women & religion before lecturing, but I didn't mention the nation's financial crisis or the bumps in the McCain/Palin campaign--conservative voices increasingly speaking against her as the VP candidate, even saying McCain should drop her and get another running partner. We've spent enough classroom time on issues of women & religion in the Palin nomination.

I did introduce both classes to a new vocabulary word--usury--and pointed out that the Hebrew scriptures forbid taking interest on loans, that usury (in its original meaning of charging interest) was controversial for centuries, and that greed related to earning high interest rates on loans is related to the current financial crisis.

Driving home, however, I learned that the House of Representatives had voted against the proposed economic bailout and that the Dow Jones industrial average had dropped by 777 points.

Furthermore, the House has adjourned for Rosh Hashanah for two days. When I explained this holiday to my classes this morning, I didn't think it would be playing into the financial crisis, but on television tonight I heard people questioning whether the US in this crisis should take two days off for a Jewish holiday.

I can't continue to walk in and out of the classroom as if everything were normal. I'll have to take a few minutes to note the upheaval in our economy and let the students comment or ask questions, and I hope their other professors also offer some leadership in this area.

During the last eight years of my mother's life, my central prayer request for her was that she would "get through each day." It was really a prayer that the status quo would continue without any crises requiring my intervention.

Now the economy, which I prefer to ignore, is not just muddling along but requiring all of us to sit up and take notice.

And even the Palin campaign, which I had planned to enjoy, has taken a bad turn.

Last night CNN repeatedly played excerpts of Katie Couric's interview of Palin two days ago. I missed the interview, but it looks as if I'll have to go online and watch it.

To questions about the proposed economic bailout, Palin's answers showed she didn't understand what the bailout is--her answer included something about health care.

Dismayed, a conservative female columnist cited "the cringe factor" and asked that Palin be dropped from the ticket.

I don't want Palin to fall flat on her face--what an embarrassment to women everywhere. I expected her to campaign well enough, either lose or win, and become a footnote to history.

Instead, she seems to be destabilizing the presidential race, which itself is a threat to the ability of Washington and Wall Street to get our economic house in order.

So this is the shape of the 21st century: it began with a defiant attack on US imperial power, followed by an arrogant US solution to problems in the Middle East, but now US arrogance and economic power are shrinking as we struggle to get our own house in order.

We're like the wife of the alcoholic, who has been investing all her energy into solving his problems as her own health deteriorates. Suddenly we're being forced to focus on our own health.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Blurry and Slurry

I feel irritated after listening to the first presidential debate.

I'm supposed to feel grateful that it even took place. Thanks for showing up, John McCain.

For the first 40 minutes, both candidates evaded specifics on Jim Lehrer's questions about the financial recovery plan.

"Yes or no to the recovery plan?" Lehrer asked twice. Then, "Are there fundamental differences between you?" Then, "What would you cut out?" Then finally, "Can you admit that the financial crisis will affect how you govern?"

Both kept telling what they would not cut out. Finally Obama said he would cut $15 billion in subsidies to private insurers.

McCain threw out words like "liberal spending" and "invasion of Normandy" instead of getting specific. They fenced with the word "earmarks."

I was irritated by McCain's repeated misrepresentation of Obama's words.

When Obama said he'd cut taxes for 95% of Americans, but not the top 5%, McCain kept telling us, "I would cut taxes" and suggesting Obama would raise them.

"For the wealthy, not for the middle class," Obama interjected.

Finally McCain clarified that he meant the US business tax, which he blamed for US businesses going abroad.

Then we were treated to an hour of each candidate trying to be more willing to wage foreign wars than the other.

Lehrer tossed out the bait: Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, another 911?

McCain sneered at Obama repeatedly: "Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy" ..."He's naive; he doesn't understand..."

Obama repeated that going into Iraq was wrong in the first place; we should have kept our focus on Al Quaeda and Afghanistan.

McCain kept raising the spectre of "If we suffer defeat in Iraq..." We'll have wider war, he predicted, quoting a mother, "Make sure my son's death was not in vain."

Wow, he's still in the years 1969, '71, '72, I thought.

"No soldier ever dies in vain carrying out" US policy, Obama declared.

Being "solely focused on Iraq... weakened our capacity to protect our country," he pointed out. Bin Laden is still at large and our spending $10 billion/mo on Iraq has weakened our economy "so we can't provide health care... fund veterans. We must start recognizing that the next president needs a broader strategic vision."

They both agreed that the US should stop torturing prisoners, but no one mentioned holding prisoners of war for years without filing charges or holding a trial.

McCain used frequent emotional appeals: "The veterans... I love them; they know I will take care of them." "When I came home from prison..." "She said, 'Senator McCain, please wear my son's bracelet.""

That bereaved mother was the only woman mentioned in the entire hour and forty minutes--oh, except for Miss Congeniality, whom McCain called on twice.

With Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin out of sight, women voters were also out of mind, as if our interests coincided exactly with the macho one-upsmanship being exhibited.

Only male faces appeared on the screen for that entire time. We didn't even have the relief of a woman showing up in an advertisement.

As a glimpse of our future in 2009 and the years thereafter, it was positively depressing.

If McCain wins, we get four years of military posturing and a VP who falls in line behind him.

If Obama wins, we maybe get a little diplomacy in between chasing down Osama bin Laden, but the Bush bash on the economy will probably prevent any real progress toward universal health care or improved child care or investment in education from preschool through college.

Sheesh--maybe they shouldn't have held this debate after all. I feel verbally waterboarded.

At least the differences between the candidates were visible, along with their huge areas of agreement.

If US voters put McCain in office, we deserve what we get.

I sure hope I don't have four more years of Republican mistakes to live through.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

South Dakota: Choice's Last Stand?

I'm still getting zillions of anti-Palin emails, but in the fuss over her and Alaska, we are forgetting about South Dakota and the attempt to ban abortion there in the upcoming election.

Sharon Billings emails me today about Planned Parenthood's new campaign to donate to PPFA "in honor of Sarah Palin" and have a note sent to McCain headquarters announcing your action in favor of full reproductive choice.

My daughter Marie sends a similar plea by email today: "mom and dad, maybe you could donate to this fund?" The fund turns out to be Feminist Majority's work to defeat Measure 11 in South Dakota. See or www/ or to donate against Measure 11,

FM has 24 paid student organizers and scores of volunteers working to register young voters on South Dakota college campuses in order to defeat the proposed ban.

A similar ban in South Dakota was defeated in 2006, narrowly, but anti-abortion forces are like barking dogs. They don't shut up when they are locked out.

I chose to bypass PPFA and FM, both worthy organizations, in order to send money directly to South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families at

I had first called my friend Marjorie Signer, Director of Communications and Policy at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in Washington, DC, to ask whether RCRC is mounting a major campaign in South Dakota this year.

RCRC was a key part of the coalition that defeated the 2006 attempt to ban abortion there, but she said that SD RCRC folks are working through the SD Campaign for Healthy Families this time, so I donated there for maximum impact.

Because RCRC monitors Congress and informs senators and representatives about the many religious groups and leaders who support women's full access to reproductive options, it's a good idea to donate there as well:

Anyway, the point is to fight for our rights, not send emails about Palin to online polls or further clog up your friends' email inboxes.

South Dakota is the frontline (again) this year for keeping abortion legal.

Like General Custer and his 225 men killed by Lakota Indians in 1876 near the Montana/South Dakota border, the pro-choice forces may be defeated in South Dakota this November by anti-choice organizations.

In 1876, Custer's friends came back to crush the Lakota and confine them on reservations.

But pro-choice side will be at a disadvantage for a long time if we lose South Dakota. The issue of whether individual states can ban abortion would go to the Supreme Court--and we all know that Roe v. Wade is imperiled there.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Toast Reconsidered

Seeing the documentary Our Disappeared shook my sense of being able to survive anything our government can dish out.

In Argentina in the years 1976 through 1983, secret military squads rounded up troublemakers of all kinds, tortured them, and killed perhaps 30,000 people. Yes, some of them were staging violent acts against the military junta, but others were working to change their government peacefully.

Could such a thing happen in the USA?

Our military is already rounding up anyone suspicious in Afghanistan and Iraq, torturing them, and holding them without trial in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and elsewhere.

We aren't that far from what happened in Argentina.

In the film I learned that when Juan Peron was trying to return to Argentina and take power, many on the left supported him. He persuaded both socialist and fascist organizations that he would support their goals.

Only after he gained power did his true colors show. Fascist elements in his government took control and systematically killed those who opposed them.

After the extreme anti-liberal, anti-community-organizer rhetoric of the Republican Convention, it's eerie to see McCain now asking for bipartisan support, trying to get the votes of independents and middle-of-the-road Democrats, especially women.

Like Peron, he could use the middle and then turn to the right.

I could live on if my side lost political power and if I lost my comfortable economic status.

But if I were unable to have political views and work for justice without endangering my life... yes, I would be toast.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Nuestros Desaparecidos" /"Our Disappeared"

Yes, the disappeared of Argentina, 1975-83.

This new documentary, appearing in the LA Latino International Film Festival, brings you face to face with parents, children, and friends of a few of those who were kidnapped by secret military squads, tortured, and killed.

In any theater you sit down willing to have your mind and emotions taken on whatever rollercoaster the director of the film has in mind, but this film was a wrenching experience to watch.

Get more information at It will appear on PBS in spring of 2009, perhaps May. To be sure not to miss it, go to and sign up for emails of upcoming shows. See also a review in the LA Times, "A dark chapter in Argentina's history" (9/2/2008).

If you're young or depressed, this is not the film for you, but if you identify as a world citizen responsible to know recent history and work for human rights, this film will help you to understand Argentina.

You will encounter the evil that humans and their goverments have done and are still doing. Director Juan Mandelbaum provides both human stories and political background on Peronismo, the military junta, los Montoneros, etc.

By hearing these people tell their stories, watching footage shot thirty years ago, and seeing the Escuela Mechanica de la Armada where much of the torture took place, I felt myself slipping into the feeling of terror that permeated Buenos Aires at that time.

One of the worst moments, however, was hearing Henry Kissinger say for the camera something like "We support the Argentine government's efforts to get their terrorism under control."

I was relieved to learn that when Jimmy Carter became president, US policy changed. The US Embassy in Buenos Aires began taking reports of disappeared persons and challenging Argentina's ruling junta.

Afterward the director and a young woman interviewed in the film spoke with the audience. Her parents had been killed shortly after her birth; in order to save her daughter's life, her mother had left the baby girl on grass at the Buenos Aires zoo when she saw military officers coming to arrest her.

I was too shaken up to linger and talk with these people. It was surreal to emerge from the theater into the noise of a live band and walk out on the red carpet in front of lights and cameras waiting for celebrities.

I was button-holed, however, as I stumbled out by a man who had also watched the film. He had noticed my bright blue Madres de Plaza de Mayo t-shirt proclaiming "30 anos de vida venciendo a la muerte" and struck up a conversation.

As we got acquainted, I learned that Juan Vicente Risuleo had himself left Argentina in about 1978; he too had been interrogated by police.

Now the owner of a couture bridal and evening salon in Beverly Hills, he was then a student of art history who worked in fashion design.

He described a moment thirty years ago when he had stopped briefly in a small news and snack shop one day. Looking at a fashion magazine, he felt a sudden tap on his shoulder from behind.

"Why are you looking at that magazine? Are you gay?" the apparent government agent asked.

Though he quickly talked his away out of being hauled off, it was a close call.

Today in Los Angeles he's an avid newspaper reader, alert to government deception and "inconvenient" news stories tucked into the back pages.

He recalls his professor of social history, Jose Luis Romero, saying "You need to clean the news like you clean a fish--eat it all away until you see the skeleton underneath."

More cherished advice from this professor: "Preserve your mind like it's a sacred space. Don't let anyone throw trash into your mind."

All in all, a mind-stretching night.

And then off into the chaos of tourist scene at the corner of Hollywood and Highland: two Marilyn Monroes dressed in white standing above air-blowers from under the sidewalk; a bronzed, nearly nude snake handler; noisy street music performers and their audiences.

Dazed, I tried to find my parking garage.


I don't plan to be anyone's toast.

But my friend Bob maintains, "If McCain were to die in office, we would all be toast."

As the wild ride on Wall Street continues this week, I'm thinking we're toast already, without the help of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Apparently Bush and his war in Iraq and the insane "leveraging" game played by major US banking and stock management firms will be taking a severe toll on the income and taxes of average Americans economically.

Bob writes on September 16, "I actually believe that potentially, McCain, by continuing fundamental Republican policies/philosophy in an extension of Bush/Cheney, could do much more harm to this country.
* McCain says that he will make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
* He is clearly in favor of appointing Clarence Thomas clones to the Supreme Court. He opposes Roe and will kill it.
* He does not believe in government regulation of the market.
* His concepts about health care and health insurance are positively draconian.
* McCain is indistinguishable from Bush/Cheney. His record clearly establishes that fact.

Don't get me started on that air-head named Palin. If McCain were to die in office, we would all be toast. She is Joe Stalin in pantyhose. You can quote me on that.

I really believe that the Republican goal for this country is to create another version of what Brazil was forty years ago....a tiny percentage of their population holding incomprehensible wealth, and the rest of their population living in squalor with no voice whatsoever.

It will be darn close to the end of the world if McCain least a world worth living in, here in the US.

Well, Bob, you may be right.

But even if all that comes to pass--if injustice prevails, poverty grows, and my own ability to buy food and keep a roof over my head is imperiled--I refuse to succumb emotionally and be toast.

I will continue to enjoy the sunrise and sunset, to appreciate the ocean and mountains, to praise God and work for justice.

Governors vs. Organizers

Bumper sticker:


Sent to me by Marsha Fowler,
spoken a few days earlier by another friend.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Gender Politics

"This is quite a semester to be teaching a women's studies course," I commented to a friend at work today.

"I'm glad not to be teaching that this semester," she answered.

"Why?" I asked. "Last year the term 'gender politics' was just a concept my students had to try to remember and define, but this past weekend I've heard news commentators refer to it several times. It's almost a household phrase."

"I feel so strongly about this election--I couldn't talk about it in the classroom," she admitted. "It's so serious--just think what could happen if McCain & Palin win!"

She's definitely in the "end of the world" camp, but I stick to my guns (pardon the expression) that a McCain/Palin victory would be survivable.

"We've already seen the damage done by Bush & Cheney. It can't get any worse," I argued.

"But if she became president? Well, perhaps they could control her," my friend reflected.

I'm not sure Palin given the power of a vice presidency or presidency would be easy to rein in, but if I have to watch that show, I'm going to enjoy it a lot more than the George W. years or the Richard & Spiro years.

Sexist Acronyms Hit Bigtime

"Wasn't Tina Fey great!" my boss laughed.

"I missed it," I admitted--the opening moments of the season premiere of Saturday Night Live two days ago.

"Oh, you've got to see it," she answered.

Despite my protests of not wanting to take her away from her work, she pulled the show onto her computer screen right then and there for my benefit: Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton.

Each was right on target with the voice and mannerisms of her look-alike; together they were a great spoof.

"Sarah" begins by addressing the "now very ugly role sexism is playing in the campaign."

"An issue which I'm frankly surprised people suddenly care about," "Hillary" comments ironically.

I loved the performance until "Sarah" complains about being called a "MILF" and "Hillary" laments the acronym "FLIRGE."

"I had to google 'FLIRGE'" my boss admitted.

I didn't ask--she didn't tell, but my daughter supplied me with the words behind "MILF" and I googled the other one.

In each acronym, the "I" speaking is a young sexist male whose entire world view consists of which women he would or would not like to have sex with.

Both candidates are reduced to a vagina.

Thanks, SNL, for bringing millions of viewers this bottom-feeder grunge.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not the End of the World

A friend in Santa Monica writes to me, "McCain is now ahead in the polls. If he wins this election, we are truly screwed. We being the USA."

Whoa there--it's not the end of the world if McCain & Palin win.

After all, look who we've had for eight years: Bush and Cheney.

I mean, the worst that can happen has already happened. An election was stolen from the voters, a war of aggression was waged on a nation that had not attacked us, many innocent lives have been lost, our economy has taken a big hit, and our children will be paying for this war for years to come.

We already have been screwed. Nobody--even McCain and Palin--can screw up more than this.

"Anybody but Bush" is still my motto.

Of course, I don't want the right wing to win, but I've already lived through the Richard Nixon & Spiro Agnew Show, which played in what should have been the best years of my life, 1968-73.

I mean really, let's get some perspective on McCain & Palin. At least they would provide the interesting spectacle of a woman VP, and she couldn't be any worse than Cheney or Agnew, even if she became president.

As I watch developments in the remaining weeks prior to November 4, I refuse to go into panic mode.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

End of the Women's Auxiliary

A two-page color photo in Time magazine, Sept. 15, says it all.

Two men and two women are sitting around a table: Republican presidential nomineee John McCain, his wife Cindy, his campaign manager Steve Schmidt, and vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, holding her baby.

They're not eating or relaxing but at work on the campaign bus.

Two women and two men. And a baby.

For the first time in GOP campaign history, women are not relegated to the kitchen or poolside while men strategize--and a baby is part of the picture.

Reproduction is not a conveniently forgotten fact of life but a noisy reality.

I have to applaud this change in the national landscape.

Even if Democrats lose along with Roe v. Wade and the chance to "make peace not war" internationally, continents are shifting.

Gender roles frozen for millennia are thawing and reshaping.

The political cartoon in today's Los Angles Times shows a man in 1920 asking a suffragist, "Shouldn't you be at home, taking care of your family?" while a female critic in 2008 asks Palin the same question (drawn by Steve Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune).

It's delightful to see social conservatives confused over whether to support Palin as a right-wing anti-abortionist or condemn her for not staying home with her children.

To the extent that they go for those single issues, they are dragged kicking and screaming into the feminist revolution.

Values voters now have values looming up on all sides.

To vote against women, they have to vote for one woman.

What a hoot!

Sisters in Conversation

Commentary from my sister on antiwomanist attacks:

While we may disagree by degrees, I just love it that an everywoman is in the debate.

Some hate Sarah Palin for her views but express it in their antiwomanist attacks.

Maybe actions are louder than words. If we really are for women's inclusion in the conversation, then we must be willing to
1)have 'other' points of view and not just one view for all women to sign onto and
2) stay in the conversation ourselves.

As a moderate or even moderate/conservative woman, I have women friends who don't respect me enough to let me share my opinions. They assume I agree with them since I am career- and degree-gifted.

If I speak up, I am silenced with putdowns or accusations of betrayal to the sisterhood.

I liked Hilary. Though I disagreed with some of her platform, I felt she and I could talk.

Now I have a similar model in SP. I disagree with some of her platform, though less than Hilary's, and I think we can talk.

More importantly, she is like me in experience, in presence, and in humor.

McCain and Palin have, like, totally, got my vote. My party has finally kicked the door in on the good ol' boys.

We are in the treehouse, and the view is great. Now can we sit down with our peanutbutter sandwiches and talk nice?


The Prius Speaks

On an LA freeway, Roz A.E. reports seeing a Prius with the following bumper sticker:
At least the war against the environment is going well.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Code Pink

Thank you to Jeanne Sales for calling my attention to anti-war protests by Code Pink at the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

Recently retired from Amtrak, Jeanne volunteered at the Democratic convention and then moved on to St. Paul with some Code Pink friends to join in the protests there. What a journey!

The Women's eNews report on Code Pink at the convention can be read at

The Palins & Child Care

Thank you to Women's eNews for an excellent reflection by Tanya Melich on child-care issues raised by Palin's candidacy.

Read it at

"This child care issue was hot long before the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion," comments Melich, remembering when President Nixon vetoed the Comprehensive Child Development bill in late 1971, "... a genuine attempt to help the nearly 12 million mothers with children who were entering the work force."

By selecting a female running mate who has five children, some of them young, John McCain has raised the issue of who takes care of the kids and who pays to have them taken care of.

"The central question is about money," says Melich, wondering " do the Palins manage to pay for child care on a governor's salary of $125,000 and on her husband's lesser reported income."

She reminds us that Marilyn Quayle, "the social conservative who was also a hardworking lawyer," turned her party in the direction of accepting paid child care.

Whether private and public child care services should be federally aided is still an issue among Republicans.

Tanya Melich is author of The Republican War Against Women: An Insider's Report From Behind The Lines (Bantam, paper, revised, 1998; hardcover, 1996).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pretty Ugly

It was ugly: a person who started in politics with the PTA attacking her opponent for starting as a community organizer.

When she walked onto that huge empty stage at the Republican national convention, a lone woman in a pencil skirt and heels, smiling, waving, I found myself whispering, "You go, girl!"

She'd had a makeover: gone was the beehive, replaced by hair just below her shoulders in back.

But soon after she opened her mouth, I was shocked by the meanness.

* Obama "campaigning as a way to find himself."

* Obama as one who "wants to read terrorists their rights," not fight them.

* Obama "using change for his career" vs. McCain "using his career for change."

* Obama planning to raise taxes, despite his promise to lower them for 95% of us.

* Obama as all talk, having written two memoirs "but not one major bill" (a statement both erroneous and anti-intellectual, as my husband noted.)
I guess I'm now a member of Memoir Writers for Obama.

Caving in to cliche, she attacked "the media"--that convenient amorphous multiple singular.

George Orwell would ban such generalities. Please, could we all just list list 2-3 newspapers or tv pundits to which we object rather than spewing out fog words?

By the end, I realized that despite my strong desire to see a woman as president or vice-president of the US, I don't want her to win.

She's quintessential Republican, against most of what I'm for.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Abstinence All the Way

"Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100% effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually," declares the platform adopted by the Republican Party yesterday in St. Paul, Minnesota.

However, abstinence education is not 100% effective in preventing pregnancies. Would you say maybe 50%? 30%?

We can't even convince presidents and presidential candidates to practice abstinence when they consider sex with women other than their wives.

It's not surprising that Sarah and Todd Palin's kids don't consider the Republican platform before choosing to have sex.

The big mystery is why the platform says, "We renew our call for replacing 'family planning' programs for teens with increased funding for abstinence education, which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and expected standard of behavior."

The Republicans and anti-contraception people just don't get it, but the pregnancy of Bristol Palin nudges them a little closer to reality.

Sex happens, just like hurricanes and other unmentionables.

As a society, we can either prepare for it or face the consequences.

Under Republicans, the US began withholding dollars from UN-funded family planning clinics around the world if those clinics offer information on how to obtain abortions. We are holding populations of other countries to ideals that look so pretty in platform statements but don't hold up to real life tests.

The Republican platform also includes a plank saying that "life begins at conception"--well, duh. Any high school student in a biology class can tell you that.

What they mean is that a fertilized human egg should have the moral and legal status of an adult or newborn human being.

You can't mess with that one-celled being, they say, meaning that they oppose most forms of contraception: the IUD, birth control pills, the morning-after pill.

You can't even find a "pro-life" organization that fully endorses condoms, diaphragms, vasectomies, or tubal ligation. They just don't put support for any form of contraception into written statements.

Most heads of these groups have families of seven or more children, like John Sheldon, father of nine, who recently was elected president of Presbyterians Pro-Life, or his father Benjamin Sheldon, father of seven, grandfather of 34, and one of the founders of the National Pro-Life Religious Council.

They seem to believe that the sperm and about-to-be-fertilized egg deserve almost as much protection as the egg at the moment of conception.

"As many children as God gives us" is the ideal of most leaders of the anti-abortion movement.

I can respect a genuine concern for early stages of human life, even when these people try to impose their beliefs on others via the ballot box and Supreme Court.

But when that concern is coupled with an unwillingness to support contraception and sex education, I smell a rat.

People who oppose contraception and sex education cannot be called "pro-life." They're trying to stop life in all its splendid complexity.

What they really want is to control the choices of women and children. Since that's not possible, they end up with more abortions and teenage parents.

Children like Bristol Palin are calling their bluff.