Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing network news reporters go on and on about the physical assault against Joan Jett by young Republicans.

Wait...I'm imagining things, aren't I? They never even mentioned it.

On January 17, Jett performed at a Dean rally at Drake University in Iowa. A team of young Republicans representing the Midwest caucus leadership conference showed up and destroyed at least one Dean sign. One of them got on the stage and shoved Jett. Bear in mind, we are talking about Joan Jett here, and she shoved back and kept performing.

There has been no public apology for the assault, and no media discussion about it. Just think--if a group of young Democrats had shoved Bo Derek, Chris Matthews would have four guests on to discuss whether the assault laws are tough enough in Iowa. Which brings up the strange paradox that it is okay for a celebrity to get involved in politics as long as s/he is a Republican.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

According to the Charlotte Observer, almost 40 American female troops in Iraq have come forward to report rape or sexual assault by U.S. soldiers. The American military is always telling us that they really are working on this sexual assault problem they have, but then we get more reports like this.

As horrible as this news is, it pales compared with many of the responses expressed by participants in the Free Republic forum.

There are four equally absurd arguments that are being set forth by Free Republic posters:

1. Big surprise here--that it is the women's fault. After all, what did they expect when they joined the military? The men's hormones are raging all the time (oddly enough, these are the same people who believe that teaching abstinence will stop teen pregnancy and the spread of STD's!).

2. Some of them believe the women are engaging in illicit affairs and are coming forward in order to cover themselves. The problem with this argument is that, in the American military, any woman who brings such a report is punished. Indeed, some of the women in Iraq have already testified that they were threatened with punishment if they reported the assauts and rapes. It's not exactly the easy way out.

3. It is a flaw of our culture (yes! Clinton did it!), and if there were no women in the military, this wouldn't be happening. (At least these people believe the assaults are occurring.)

4. Some of the women are officers, and there is no way an officer would not be believed. (That one is too ridiculous to merit a comment.)

This hatred of women demonstrates the full strength of the backlash against the women's movement. It is a woman's fault if she is raped. And even if it isn't, well, she shouldn't have been there and it wouldn't have happened, so it's her fault, anyway. Misogyny is evil, no matter how you slice it, and it is particularly sad that there is so much internalized misogyny among women. Now, women who come forward to report sex crimes perpetrated on them by the male power base--whether it is a would-be actor and political candidate or a U.S. solider--are derided and blamed.

Women who serve in Iraq are risking their lives just as much as men. They, too, leave their families behind. They, too, are at risk to be wounded or to contract the war-related diseases that will be ignored when they return. It is their right to serve in the military if they wish. They consider it their duty. But not only are they assaulted by their peers, they are spat on by conservatives who sit at home Web-surfing while the war goes on.

Now that's patriotism.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Today is the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and the anti-choice crowd is having its annual rally to work to destroy the landmark decision. I say "anti-choice," though they call themselves "pro-life," and they call pro-choice citizens (most of America) "pro-abortion."

No one is "pro"-abortion. Abortion has always been with us, and it always will be. One of the causes of unwanted pregnancy in America is careless sexual behavior, to be sure, but there are many other causes: failure of birth control, rape (including marital rape, which is not uncommon, but which no one talks about), and sexual behavior performed by teenagers who have not been instructed in the proper use of birth control.

The term "pro-life" is just as absurd. If we interrupted the anti-Roe v. Wade rally and asked how many of the attendees favored capital punishment, we'd probably see a large number of hands go up (excluding those Catholics who follow the official condemnation of capital punishment). And some of those people would favor the death penalty even for adolescents.

More significant, if we asked what they were planning to have for dinner, most would probably say meat. So it is okay with them for a cow or a pig or a chicken to die, but not a fetus. And--let's look at the full picture--it's also okay for that cow or pig or chicken to be heinously tortured during its short lifetime. Probably many of the women would be wearing cosmetics made by companies that continue to do needless animal testing.

A pig is as important as a human? Putting aside the controversy over whether a fetus is a human being--that is not the issue. The issues are: 1. Who are we to determine which creatures are more important than others? and 2. Most definitely, a pig's suffering is as important's as a human's, no matter what we believe the heirarchy of creature importance is. A lonely rabbit in a cage, its eyes burning with acid, hurts just as much as you do if you are isolated in a cage with acid tossed into your eyes.

The hallmark of the anti-choice movement is its desire to deny self-determination to women, not any true desire to respect and protect life.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

So it turns out that Howard Dean has made his campaign people work his schedule around his son's ball games. No matter what was going on, he would leave and fly to Vermont to see his boy play ball. That, I believe, is what the "family values" crowd calls "quality time" (a destestable phrase that they don't even know comes from 70's parenting lingo). It's what anyone would call dedicated parenting.

The man who is trashed daily on talk shows as being a "leftist (he isn't very far left at all) fringe case" is actually a man who has put being a father and husband first. In other words, he has been living the values he is accused of trying to destroy. He has based his life around nurturing his children (including when he was governor), and chosen to be in an equal partnership with his wife.

But in this country, people get their "education" by listening to corporate-owned Stepford anchors and Constitution-hating radio talk show hosts. Everything has been inverted, like in Alice In Wonderland, and ignorance is the fuel which runs the nation.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Last week, FIFA president Sepp Blatter made the outrageous suggestion that women's soccer would attract more and better sponsors if the players wore tighter and skimpier shorts.

That someone in a position of authority would say something so blatantly offensive and sexist in the 21st Century is sad indeed. That there hasn't been a major uproar over it is even sadder.

Julie Foudy, co-captain of the U.S. national team, got it right. She said if Blatter really wanted to help women's soccer, he would focus on " increasing its support for the women's game by instituting another world championship for youth women, pushing federations around the world to support their women's programs, or giving prize money to teams in the Women's World Cup."

Blatter owes women soccer players--and all women--an apology. It took decades for women athletes to be accepted as athletes, and his remarks are ugly and misogynistic.

Foudy said it best: "We'll start wearing tighter shorts when he starts doing press conferences in his bathing suit."

Friday, January 16, 2004

Yesterday, when introducing former senator and ambassador Carol Mosely Braun, Sen. Tom Harken of Iowa betrayed himself and all 98 of his colleagues. For years, he said, they'd "had" to listen to the subtle racism of Sen. Jesse Helms. Then Mosely Braun arrived in the senate, like a breath of fresh air, and set Helms straight.

The fact that Harken could say the above without shame is disturbing, and is an excellent barometer of how our Congressional representatives deal with racism. Why did Harken believe they had to listen to Helms' racist rhetoric, and why did they have to wait for an African American to "straighten him out"? There were close to a hundred of them present, day in and day out, so why didn't they take care of the problem long before Mosely Braun arrived in the senate to be insulted by Helms?

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Isn't it ironic that the people who are always telling the truth-loving, Constitution-defending people to leave America and go live in some totalitarian country are the ones who espouse totalitarian principles? The fact that they themselves cannot see this indicates that they are, well, stupid. Don't point out the obvious, don't advocate free speech, don't oppose injustice or hypocrisy, don't speak against the leaders. Those dictates are, in case you've forgotten, the tenets of fascism.

Consider the case of Natalie Maines. (This is a particularly interesting case, since some slightly more enlightened Maines-bashers said it was okay for her to say what she said, but she shouldn't have said it in another country--a lesson they undoubtedly learned in their families of origin, e.a., "Yes, Daddy is a drunk and everyone in town knows it, but when you're at the neighbors' house, pretend you don't know it.") Or Danny Glover. Or Sean Penn.

Now it is Margaret Cho. Cho did a political stand-up set at a show, and she has been barraged with attacks from right-wing, [foreign-made] flag-waving, Bush-worshipping Amurikans, many of whom didn't even realize her words were part of a comedy performance. They didn't realize this because they are so out of the cultural loop that they have no idea who Cho is, and because Matt Drudge made a point of taking the transcript bits out of context and publishing them on his homage-to-yellow-journalism website.

The attacks on Cho are all pretty much the same: that she is stupid, unpatriotic, etc. That's amazing in itself, since Cho is extremely bright, and is a 24/7 defender of the U.S. Constitution. She is also attacked for being Chinese, which is interesting, because she is American. However, the ignorant people were actually referring to her ethnic heritage, except...that is Korean. But hey, all those yellow-skinned people look the same, so give the bigots a break, right?

She is also attacked for being fat, which she isn't. She is no longer the close--to-death skeletal Oriental girl-child manufactured by her employers at ABC for All-American Girl, but so what?

What could be more un-Amercan than attacking someone because of her race and her gender? Oh, what a long way we've come, baby.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Could someone explain to me why I am supposed to be proud to be an American when a large percentage of citizens (including Democrats) cannot name even one of the nine Democratic candidates for president? We are bombarded by news reports, both print and electronic, about the primaries, yet a vast majority of people do not know who the candidates are.

At least half, possibly more, Americans believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks of September 11, despite the fact that there is no known connection, and the fact that we are certain that Osama Bin Laden masterminded the horrible events. But such sentiments are fueled not only by the White House, but by such idiotic and offensive lyrics as David Worley's "And we vowed to get the ones behind Bin Laden, Have you forgotten?" No, David, we haven't forgotten. This will come as a great shock to you, I know, but some of us believe you can be outraged and get the facts right at the same time.

The latest polls show that Americans believe the current president is doing a good job with the economy. Obviously, they are too busy to notice that jobs are rushing out the door to China and India, schools are being shut down all over America, every state is making drastic budget cuts, and we made an $87 billion deposit on the gigantic cost of re-building a country we blew up.

A great number of Americans also believe that the president is the standard bearer for morality. What a strange concept Americans have of morality, since our chief executive has lied--and lied big--about every issue in his administration: energy, the environment, education, Medicare, public health, and the Iraq war. But Americans had already estabished that they didn't mind constant deception. After all, Bush committed insider trading, was a National Guard deserter, and continually lied to the people of Texas when he was governor of that state.

Now we have Patriot II, and every day, more and more civil liberties are going down the drain. People are held in prisons for months without the benefit of legal representation, and without being charged with crimes, a scenario right out of Through the Looking Glass. This White House even has people arrested (and in some cases, abused) for exercising peaceful demonstrations in the chief executive's presence. But that's okay, too: A shocking number of Americans believe that the Bill of Rights goes too far.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Dear Certain Citizens of Kentwood, Louisiana:

I have two news flashes for you.

One--Britney Spears doesn't owe you a cent. Apparently, there are some people in Spears' economically suffering hometown who believe that she should toss a few dollars their way. Why? Because she was born there? Because she has money and the people in Kentwood don't? Because Kentwood's one industry is on the skids? It is one thing to tax the rich; it is another to attempt it through emotional blackmail. Spears created the Britney Spears Foundation to run the Britney Spears Camp for the Performing Arts, not to help Kentwood solve its financial problems.

Two--Britney's clubbing, her kiss with Madonna and her magazine cover photos are not immoral, and they do not bring discredit to Kentwood. Does the pop star do things that are in bad taste? Sometimes. Was her two-day marriage tacky beyond belief? Yes. Do the citizens of Kentwood have a right to be angry because of the media swarm of Jason Alexander? Of course they do. But tacky isn't immoral, and even the television sets in Kentwood come with channel changers. While it is indeed pitiful that "spiritual" Britney thinks that Hinduism has something to do with the Kabbalah, there is no evidence that she is lying, cheating, stealing, or harming people. People who do those things are immoral.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Pants On Fire 3

Not long ago, President Bush told retirees that under his Medicare plan, corporations would not be excluding them from their current prescription drug coverage. A tax incentive was placed in the bill to encourage companies from dumping those covered by prescription drug plans.

However, the Wall Street Journal has noticed and reported the fine print in the new Medicare bill. It allows these same companies to severely reduce--to the point of making almost nonexistent--their retirees' drug coverage without losing the tax incentive. In other words, corporations will get rewarded for cutting retired people off from their insurance.

Your Congresspeople probably voted for this outrage. The AARP lobbied for it. It is a piece of unbelievable deception, but believe it--it is part of the bill.

The lies are many, and they are outrageous.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

A lesbian couple wrote a letter to the editor of my local newspaper, saying that they did indeed realize that America needs to "preserve the sanctity of marriage." These two women are in a long-term committed relationship and are raising their children to be tolerant of all people. But hey--if they're allowed to continue doing that kind of thing, they argued, what will become of American marriage as defined by Britney Spears? That has to be protected.

Well, it isn't just Britney who's defining American marriage. How about shows like Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?, Cupid, For Love or Money, The Bachelor, and The Bachelorette (a sexist term, to boot)? The concept of cheap, shallow, quick marriage is all the rage right now, so why bash a pop idol when the same thing is being promoted and talked about all over America?

Don't you just love Amurika, as it's now called? We get lectures on morality from pillhead Rush Limbaugh, gambling addict Bill Bennett, and world-class liar and insider trader George W. Bush. But two people minding their own business and raising their family are a threat to the "sanctity" of marriage in a country in which marriage is treated as a prime-time marketing scheme.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

House Majority leader Tom DeLay is holding a major fundraiser for Celebration for Children, Inc., an organization that helps abused and neglected children. He's holding it during the Republican convention, and whoever makes a nice big fat donation gets to schmooze with Tom. We have to make sure we have this straight: Al Gore can go to a Buddhist temple where there is some fund-raising going on, and DeLay's people call for a special prosecutor, but DeLay can sell his influence for help-the-children tickets, and that makes him a humanitarian. Are we in the rabbit hole yet?

DeLay and his wife are foster parents. (It is really creepy to think about the spectacularly vicious and hypocritical DeLay fostering a child, but that is another issue.) DeLay says that his organization can provide services for children that they can't get from the government, and that is all well and good. DeLay has consistently voted for programs that aid foster children, and he has often voted for other programs that assist children. There is no reason to believe that his organization will not provide important services.

But if DeLay really cares that much about raising money for the children, why muddy up the effort by mixing it with convention politics? DeLay is already a target of an investigation into whether corporate money linked to him improperly financed the Republican party's recent takeover of the Texas capitol. It's enough to make you think he believes he's above the law.

Tom Delay?! No...

Friday, January 02, 2004

According to The Army Times, the United States of America remains the number-one customer for the sex slave trade in South Korea. The Korean police have made it clear that they intend to continue to allow this practice to thrive. The girls and women are from former Soviet bloc countries and the Philippines. Here we have a package of sexism, racism, human rights violation, and in many cases, what we in the U.S. call statutory rape.

And there has still been no move from the U.S. to come down hard on our country's major contribution to this disgusting economy. Keep those Judeo-Christian values coming...

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Today is the first day of election year. There are some things to admire about most of the Democratic candidates: Howard Dean is a refreshingly honest speaker who doesn't come with a set of robot talking points. John Kerry (despite his "I'll side with Bush to make Dean look bad" strategy) has a wonderful environmental record. Carol Mosely Braun is intelligent and articulate and passionately addresses the reality that non-white males (that is to say, most of us) are given short shrift in this country. John Edwards is articulate and address the issues head-on. Al Sharpton tells it just like it is. Wesley Clark (despite his background) does indeed appear to have embraced solid liberal values, and--despite initial stumbling--is carrying a solid message. Dick Gephardt has a long record of standing up for working people and the poor. Even Joe Lieberman, generally considered the most conservative-leaning of the candidates, has a record of protecting civil rights and working hard in the Senate to help families.

But what if there were a candidate with a decades-long record of standing up proudly for all liberal values, a candidate who kept getting re-elected, even though s/he espoused "leftist" values at every opportunity? Who years ago not only saw the danger of huge corporate takeovers of communities, but who did something to stop it? Someone about whom there has never been a breath of scandal? Someone whose tireless work for peace among all people resulted in major international recognition? Someone so intelligent that s/he is able to infuse immense historical and factual knowledge with passion and pragmatism? Someone who whose platform thoughtfully address all of America's problems, even the ones that never get talked about, like child abuse?

There is! It's Congressman Dennis John Kucinich, and he's running for president. Now is the time to help him raise the funds he needs, and to contact the major news media, who repeatedly deny him equal time and call him a "minor" candidate because they made him one.