Monday, November 29, 2004

Got dem ole Phyllis Schlafly on my TV screen blues

You don't see Phyllis much these days, which is fine with me. During the peak of the Second Wave, when I was a street activist, I considered her my personal enemy. Now I think of her as just another right-wing self-hater who got hers when when her son was outed 12 years ago.

What infuriated me this morning was listening to some of the callers. Schlafly was on Washington Journal with Marcia Greenberger of the National Women's Law Center to talk about the Title IX school sports controversy. One woman called in to vehemently disagree with Schlafly's Title IX-bashing rhetoric, but made a point of saying "I'm not a feminist--I don't agree with all that."

There is probably nothing that makes me angrier than someone going out of her way to support social, political, and economic equality for women, and then denying that she supports social, political, and economic equality for women. If someone doesn't take the media-created stigma off of the word "feminism" soon, we will all have to make female symbols in the sand with out toes.

During the 70's, the media's coverage was either of the "aren't they cute?" variety or the "these women are nuts" variety. Though there is no record of anyone burning a bra, and though no one is certain that Robin Morgan even said "Bras will be burned" (I hope she did), the myth that we all burned our bras in public lingers to this day. Thousands of women have gone out of their way to distance themselves from feminism while enjoying its fruits, a fact which infuriates me. Shallow, narcissistic talking head Chris Matthews and his ilk say things like "What do The Feminists have to say?" as though The Feminists were a small cult whose ideas are kept secret from the public. Wouldn't it be more sensible, in the 21st Century, to assume that everyone is a feminist, and be shocked by those who are not?

Another C-Span caller wanted to challenge Marcia Greenberger's statement that--prior to the passage of Title IX--many schools didn't have sports programs for women. "I find that impossible to believe," she said, "and know it cannot be true." Well, it certainly is true, and it wasn't that long ago--back in the early 70's--when women couldn't gain entry to law schools and medical schools, and if they did, they were persecuted by both the male faculty and male students until their lives were miserable.

A little women's history appears to be in order for a whole lot of Americans--men and women.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Drop it from planes, I say

Thanks to feministe for making me aware of Shut the Fuck Up, or How to act better in meetings, a guide for feminist men, but please don't hesitate to show it to everyone.

There should probably be a companion piece for women, Speak Up, Damn It. Many women (and some men) are not naturally assgressive in group situations which require a certain amount of aggression. Watch the TV talk shows (well, only if you need to induce nausea), and the women just sit while the men yell and interrupt. The hosts rarely intervene. The yelling and interrupting behavior (which, I should add, we also see in some women) is just plain rude, but it attracts viewers. On the other hand, sitting there like a table decoration when you have something to say is stupid.

In professional situations, the dynamics, of course, are usually more subtle, as Dan Spalding points out in his handy guide. But the outcome is the same.

Friday, November 26, 2004

They're MY moral values, too, you bible-waving twits

When I took some recent Zogby polls, the question of moral values and whether they apply to one's choice of a presidential candidate came up several times. They certainly did apply in my case--I consider the Bush administration to be immoral beyond belief.

Answering these questions made me suspicious about the now famous 22% of exit poll voters who said that moral values were their greatest concern in choosing a candidate.

Though ignored by the news media at large, it came out a couple of weeks ago that "moral values" were hardly ever mentioned by someone if it wasn't on a multiple choice list. The 22% response came chiefly from voters who saw a list with the term "moral values" as a choice.

Tonight, my suspicions were confirmed when it came out on Washington Week that many of the people who cited "moral values" as the reason for their voting choice were people voting for Kerry or some other non-Bush candidate. That's right--non-conservatives have moral values. What a concept! Some of us are actually morally opposed to the lying, war-mongering, greedy, hypocritical, misogynistic, freedom-haters in the White House. We take ethical opposition to blowing up a country under false pretenses, letting thousands of African babies die, and destroying American civil liberties.

However, the news media, in all its ignorance, immediately made the leap that the moral values crowd was made up of outraged conservatives.

All praise to Gwen Ifill for using her show as a truth platform, but who else will pick up the story?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Oh, okay...

Colin Powell on the Ukraine election: "We cannot accept this result as legitimate, because it does not meet international standards, and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse."

Supporting Bush is immoral--reason number 11

He makes a mockery of the teachings of Christ.

Jesus is revered by other major religions, and respected by the non-religious. Christians, whose belief is that Jesus is divine, supposedly follow his teachings in every aspect of their lives. In 2000, when Bush was asked by a debate moderator who his favorite philospher was, he said "Christ. Because he changed my heart."

Bush's so-called conversion occurred in 1985. But in the 19 years since then, he has: executed more people than any governor in the nation, and publicly mocked a woman who was executed in Texas, defrauded numerous investors by committing insider trading, deliberately poisoned the air and water in Texas (and is doing the same thing nationally) in order to fulfill the greed of polluting industries, refused to protect children from lead poisoning, lied in order to blow up a country he wanted destroyed, permitted his various election staffs to run scumbag lie-filled campaigns designed to ruin the reputations of his opponents, and--through the withholding of funds--overseen thousands of deaths of women and children in Africa.

What would Jesus do?

If so many people are socially liberal, why don't I feel better?

One of my few must-reads, Mousewords, has some interesting commentary today on Salon's piece about the social conservative/liberal gap being, for the most part, generational, and roughly divided into pre-and post-Boomer. The gist of the Salon article is that the majority of social conservatives in America are older people, and that those behind them tend to be more tolerant and to assume that civil rights of all kinds are the norm.

Mousewords raises the question of what the gender breakdown (women are known to be more socially liberal than men) would be in the study analyzed by Salon's Leonard Steinhorn, and concludes that the greatest gender gap would be among Boomers. This is because many Boomer men, fed up with feminism, have decided, in their older years, that their father's way was right, after all.

This is a phenomenon of which I was unaware, since the only Boomer men I hang out with are liberals in the true sense. But it doesn't suprise me, especially with so much emphasis being placed on war and soldiers in the last several years. The post-war 50's, when men came home and took over everything, rushing their wives to the suburbs and showering them with avocado refrigerators and washer-dryer sets, was a nightmare of repressing by "protecting." Anyone who has seen the film version of The Hours has only to remember the haunting image of Juliane Moore's face at the window to comprehend this type of prison.

I'm afraid I don't have much optimism about the state of progressive values in this country. If Boomers, X-ers and Y-ers are really as socially liberal as they apparently say they are, then perhaps it is activism that is missing from their lives; I don't know. I was a Second Wave activist who endured repeated humiliation from idiots so that the country could be a better place for women, and sometimes I wonder why I did it (In moments of frustration, I have been known to exclaim: "I marched for bimbos!"). I will never forget Lisa Ling, who is not only a woman, but a minority woman, stating on The View something to the effect of: "These feminists go too far; we have everything we asked for, and it's time to move on." Apparently, Ling lives in a land where there is no wage gap, no glass ceiling, no sexual harrassment, no referring to women as children, no sexual assault and rape, no marathon discussions of the clothing of female political candidates.

Sexism, like racism, can be quite subtle. The phony politeness that puts women down, the exclusion of professional women from important social gatherings, the public humiliation of professional women whose male peers are chastised behind closed doors--men may not even realize they are perpetrating sexist behavior when they do these things. And women's failure to speak up, to say "I won't be treated differently from my peers," or "I'm not a girl" is dramatic. Most of the women with whom I speak on a weekly basis--X, Y, and Boomer--are well aware that there is sexism all around them, but they do nothing to make it stop, thus perpetuating the stereotype that women must be passive in order to stay "feminine." And they are often clueless when they themselves contribute to sexism, through their language, and through their attitudes about other women.

They need to think about the message they are sending to their children, who learn from them every day. Just last week, the governor of my state, who is a woman, told this story: Her daughter asked her 4-year-old son what he wanted to be when he grew up. She went through all of the standard suggestions--firefigher, pilot, police officer--and the boy said no to all of them. "Well," she ask him, "how about governor?" His reply: "Mom...I'm a boy."

Perhaps there really is reason to hope.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Not everyone feels gratitude

For most Americans, Thanksgiving represents a day of heavy eating, and perhaps football viewing and mental preparation for full-throttle shopping. I don't know what the schools teach children now, but when I was a child, we were taught that people in big hats and large-buckled shoes sat down at a table with Indians and enjoyed a meal. The Pilgrims, grateful for the help they had received during their settlement, wanted to return the Indians' hospitality.

Like most historical legends, the Thanksgiving one if flawed. Plymouth was once the site of a Pawtuxet village that was destroyed by a plague brought over by some pre-Pilgrim Europeans. Several Native Americans in the area had been sold as slaves, also. When the Pilgrims did arrive, there was tension between the Europeans and the native people, and eventually, a treaty was signed that did more to protect the Pilgrims than anything else, but it did bind both groups together in case of outside attack.

Here's where it gets nasty. In 1637, 16 years after the first Indian-white men feast, the governor of Massachusetts proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving to celebrate the massacre by English colonists of 600 Pequots who, incidentally, had just agreed to become Christians. Eventually, the treaty of 1621 was nullified, the Indians became subjects of the English government, and the colonists took over much of what had been the native people's territory.

The first Native American National Day of Mourning took place in 1970, when Frank James, Wampanoag leader, was invited to speak. However, when someone got a peek at the text of his speech--an angry statement about the history of oppression of Native Americans--the invitation was withdrawn. Like all suppression of speech, this act fueled a movement: the National Day of Mourning movement, which is observed by many Native Americans each Thanksgiving.

Today, we do not slaughter Native Americans; we merely repress them. However, we do slaughter thousands of turkeys, which brings me to the other ugly truth about Thanksgiving. Factory farm turkeys live in extremely cramped, foul-smelling conditions, breathing toxic manure fumes. The birds frequently end up with fractured or broken bones, and the young ones--deprived of their mothers--often starve to death.

In tight confinement, a lot of feather-pecking takes place, so farmers do to turkeys what they do to chickens--trim their beaks, but without the use of anesthesia. The birds' environment is dark, and they can hardly move. And now that factory farms are breeding top-heavy turkeys (the demand for breast meat is high), the turkeys are more likely to suffer bone and joint problems.

The workers who handle the turkeys do so carelessly, often breaking their legs and wings. The turkeys are transported in open crates, regardless of weather conditions, then hung upside down in shackles (including the already injured ones), where they are stunned before having their throats slit. They are then dropped into scalding tanks of water. And as with chickens, there are many reports of inaccurate stunning, so that turkeys end up conscious when their throats are cut, and sometimes even when they hit the scalding water. The Humane Slaughter (a phrase which would amuse me if it didn't make me sick) Act, which is poorly enforced to begin with, conveniently omits poultry.

Many of us do not think it is right to eat other creatures. Most people, however, think that it is an acceptable thing to do. And there are non-factory, organic farms that raise turkeys who are not confined to crates, do not have their beaks cut, breathe fresh air, socialize with other turkeys, and eat good food. They are slaughtered carefully and not tortured.

If you are a turkey eater, there are plenty of turkeys available that did not suffer horrible lives prior to their very inhumane slaughter.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A brawl at an NBA game--big surprise

It amazes me to hear any number of experts explain to us why the NBA brawl occurred in Detroit last Friday. The seats are too close to the event. The players make so much money that fans think they have a right to confront them when they are not pleased. The players make so much money that fans think they have a right to participate in the event. People watch so much reality television that they think this kind of behavior is normal.

Oh, please. It happened because certain sports enthusiasts get drunk and act like the assholes they are (in the case of the beer-tossing fan, the offender was a person with a criminal record that includes assault and drunk driving).

And because this is a very violent country with a double standard about its violence. You can assault women, whip children, and kick and punch people who are holding Kerry/Edwards signs. That's okay. But if you assault someone in a robbery (especially if you are not white), you go to jail. There has been so much sports-related violence that those in charge are now re-thinking a history of just letting the violence go. It's about time.

A few years ago, at a Saints training camp, some of the new players were physically assaulted and humiliated by some of the veterans. No charges were pressed, and no one went to jail. That's because men don't want to look "weak" by "telling." "You told!" is one of the first things we hear in elementary school if we have the audacity to appropriately ask an authority figure to intervene. "Telling" is a sin, and it is a mortal sin for males.

The other thing that I, as a psychotherapist, hear a lot is: "I didn't want to get him in trouble." The idea that we are responsible for someone else's behavior--not that the perpetrator gets himself in trouble--is so ingrained in our culture that it is very hard to get rid of it.

Now that we are living in a time when the national theme is "kick their ass," I expect violence to escalate. The mainstream news media has finally figured out that white supremist cd's are being marketed to children. Some bobble-head anchor on MSNBC was oh, so suprised, and wondered why it is happening now. Duh. From the moment that Reagan kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi--site of the 1964 klan murder of four civil rights workers-- with a call for "states' rights," we got the hint. Kick their ass. Blacks, women, gays, liberals, athiests, whoever offends Amuricans. Now we are taking up where Reagan left off, dipping the flag in testosterone, with God on our side, of course.

Brawling, quite simply, is what a violent nation does.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Yes, it is cruel and hard to understand

The tragedy that occurred in Wisconsin over the weekend, when an angry hunter shot and killed five other hunters and wounded three more, was a terrible thing. Rescuers and other hunters trying to help the wounded were also shot at by the gunman, who got carried away over an argument about a tree stand. There was a private property dispute, the man was not white, and one hopes one's worst assumptions aren't true, though it wouldn't make any difference at this point. The man has been arrested, but now we have before us one more incident of what happens when people have no clue how to deal with their anger, and what happens when those people own assault rifles.

A Wisconsin law enforcement officers appeared on MSNBC and said that the question he was asked over and over was "How could anyone do anything so cruel?" This struck me as a really crazy question to ask about hunters, given that their recreation involves destroying living creatures who have not attacked them. But it is a sign of our culture's denial and lack of insight that we would ask such a question.

I know the standard answer: The animals are suffering from over-population and it is better to kill them with guns than to let them starve. But why is killing living creatures recreation, i.e., something that people enjoy? Granted, in those places where over-populaton is a fact, killing animals with guns does indeed seem more humane. That is, until you realize that they are over-populated because we drove them from their homes so we could build more Wal-Marts and fast food franchises.

It happened where I live. Deer and raccoons used to wander this neighborhood, but now they walk down the highway and get hit by cars. But I can visit extraordinarily ugly banks and cell phone stores where the deer used to live.

The other thing wrong with the "hunting is humane" argument is that hunters (with the exception of the nut case in Wisconsin) are careful to "clean out" populations only of non-human creatures. If they think hunting is so good for the population problem, why don't they have a season for killing people?

Oh, wait...they do. It's called war.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Supporting Bush is immoral--reason number 10

When he was governor of Texas, he conspired with industry to reduce the already poor quality of the state's environment.

By appointing polluters to governing boards, reducing inspections, eliminating smog advisories, and manipulating pollution data, Bush knowingly endangered the health of the citizens of Texas, as well as the health and safety of the state's wildlife.

By 1999, Texas had become the state with the worst ozone pollution.

Friday, November 19, 2004

One less monster

Bobby Frank Cherry is dead at 74, which means he spent only two years of his miserable life serving a murder sentence. It wasn't until 2002 that Frank was convicted of killing Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Diane Wesley, and Carole Robertson, when he and two other klansmen blew up the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963.

According to one of his attorneys, Cherry rejected a deal in which he would receive probation if he pleaded guilty to transporting explosives over state lines. However, Cherry continued to deny any involvement in the bombing. An equal-opportunity child-stalker, Cherry was already in jail in Texas on charges of raping his stepdaughter.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is one of America's most spellbinging museums. Located across the street from the 16th Avenue Baptist Church, the Institute utilizes every imaginable medium to present the history of the civil rights struggle. There is music, art, sculpture, a large collection of documents, and artifacts such as Dr. King's jail cell. Throughout the museum are videos that are horrifying to watch. In one portion of the museum, as you walk, you hear an audiotape of people talking; their conversation isn't overtly racist, but it is a reminder of how people talk when they are one-up in the society, and hearing it is a chilling experience.

After you have seen the state-of-the art museum, you can walk across the street to the church and view the small area where there is a simple memorial to the four girls who were murdered there. It is a visit you won't forget.

Birmingham, a lovely city, has placed its horrific history right in the middle of town, where it belongs, for everyone to see.

Cherry is dead. Another of the bombers, Robert Chambliss, also died in prison, leaving Thomas Blanton Jr.--who once bragged of his plans to bomb more churches--serving a life sentence.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

How men put women down by being "polite"

A few days ago, I had to call a managed care company (something I have to do several days a week) to report that I was confused about a telephone message one of its employees had left on my voice mail. When I finally found someone who would listen to me without insisting I go through a litany of identification numbers that had nothing to do with the call, I explained that an employee had left me a message and I didn't understand it. She spoke so quietly, I explained, that I was unable to ascertain her name, and therefore could not return her call.

The man with whom I was speaking told me that "since the young lady didn't speak up, you have no information, and I can't help you."

I could accept the reasoning, but where did the "young lady" come from? I never suggested the employee was young. I merely said she was a woman. But he immediately turned her into someone young, and not even a "young woman." Here is the litmus test: If I had said that a man had spoken too quietly for me to understand his message, the person at the other end of the line would never ever have said that the "young gentleman" didn't speak up.

"Young lady" is "girl" lite. It reduces an adult woman to someone childlike, simply because of her gender. For a brief period in the 70's, if you said "girl" or "young lady," women reminded you that they were adults, but today, you can talk as 1950's as you want to and no one challenges you. Women, of all people, still talk about "this girl who works with me," and I always say "you have children working there?" And they say "of course not--you know what I mean." And when I ask if they call the male employees "boys," they say "of course not."

You deserve a clogged artery today

For those of us who think it is wrong to eat meat--and obscene to eat meat from factory farms--the new Hardee's Monster Thickburger is a grim reminder that the worst kinds of animal torture constitute an acceptable American activity. To people who are concerned about obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, the sandwich--two one-third-pound slabs of Angus beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese, and mayonnaise on a buttered sesame seed bun--is a reminder that America is a land of overweight people who are not concerned with their health.

It is worth noting a comment made by Hardee's chief executive Andrew Puzder, who told CNBC that the company's latest sandwich is "not a burger for tree-huggers."

This is a comment worth deconstructing: Environmentalists should stay away from this sandwich. Why? It is safe to say that most environmentalists (sadly) have no interest in animal rights. Perhaps Mr. Puzder assumes that they do. But why didn't he just say "it's not a burger for PETA fans" or some other such slight to the animal rights movement? Perhaps he is going for something a little less factual and a little more political--"Tree-huggers," in our current socio-political climate, are "girly men." Those who are not real men won't be interested in consuming 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat at one sitting. Anyone who doesn't want to eat a Monster Thickburger is probably, you know, a woman, God forbid.

"Tree-hugger" began as a useful put-down of "nut cases" like Rachel Carson and Lady Bird Johnson who expressed fear that we were destroying the natural balance of the Earth. Like all put-downs of liberals, it has become feminized. Senator John Kerry, who--prior to the year 2004--was known for his environmental record, did not even mention the environment in his presidential campaign. An argument can be made that he skipped this issue because the country was focused on terrorism and Iraq, but it is also true that a Democrat desperate to look like a soldier-hunter-killer manly man didn't want to be associated with a feminine crowd of tree huggers.

Supporting Bush is immoral--reason number 9

He has surrounded himself with liars and conspirators.

Let's start with Dick Cheney, who still insists he has severed all financial ties with Halliburton. The fact that he gets a deferred compensation check from the company every month is probably not relevant, but he also continues to have stock options, and that is hardly a severing of ties, no matter how you spin it.

Then there was former Secretary of the Army Thomas White. White, one of the persons suspected of exploiting California's energy crisis on behalf of Enron Corporation, lied under oath to a Senate committee.

And who can forget John Poindexter, former director of the frightening Information Awareness Office. Poindexter, you will recall, was behind the Iran-Contra affair that occurred during the Reagan administration. He was charged and found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and the destruction of evidence. Poindexter's conviction was eventually overturned, but even if he did not commit the crimes for which he was charged (which is highly doubtful to most observers), he was still the admitted architect of a reprehensible scheme.

Then there was Thomas Griffith, whom Bush nominated to be a federal appeals court judge in Washington. The problem was that Griffith had been practicing law for years without a license.

Or how about Christina Beato, nominated to be assistant secretary for health for the Department of Health and Human Resources? Beato's nomination got into trouble when it was discovered that she had never set foot in many of the institutions in which she claimed to have held positions. And the positions on her resume which she really had held were nowhere near as important as she described them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Pray for Star

Star Jones has to be the only person in America whose goal was to out-do the gaudiness of Liza Minella's last wedding, and she may have succeeded, considering all of the gifts-for-plug activities that took place. The most notable thing about the ceremony, reporters say, was the presence of fur. Some celebrities had on real fur and some wore fake--I don't know who had which, so I am not in a position to take anyone but the bride to task (but Kim Cattrall, Natalie Cole, Angela Basset, and Lorraine Bracco--I am ashamed of you if you had on the real thing).

Jones wore a full-length white mink, which she removed in order to display her 27-foot veil, which required seven people to carry it.

After the wedding, Jones issued this statement: "God has blessed us with each other and we're so happy that our two lives have finally become one. Please keep us in your prayers." prayer is that Star wanders into the wrong part of the woods, gets her veil caught in a leghold trap and has to chew her considerably inflated head off. Barring that--may she get a honeymoon visit from Sophie Ellis Bextor.

Monday, November 15, 2004

David Broder lives on another planet

This is not a new realization on my part, but one which the columnist reinforces almost every time he puts fingers to keyboard. Yesterday's column is a perfect example. In it, he takes Maureen Dowd to task for writing that, with Bush's election, "the forces of darkness are taking over the country."

Broder goes on to explain that not all Republicans hold extremely conservative views. I agree, but that's the only part of his column with which I am in agreement. Though moderate Republicans can hardly be called forces of darkness, the people running the country have earned that title in the past four years (and thousands of moderate Republicans voted for them, come to think of it).

Broder's arguments are ridiculous: Everything's okay because Andrew Card is from Massachusetts, and because John Ashcroft has resigned. Oh, I feel so much better now. After all, there are no other right-wing religious nutcases who could possibly be appointed to high positions.

Here's my favorite part, though: "I can count two dozen Senate Republicans who have experienced with their own families and friends the pain of mental or physical illness, or poverty, or racial or sexual discrimination. Do you think they would stand silent while a vendetta against any of those groups was carried out?"

Duh! They've been "standing silent" for four years (along with many Democrats, I should add) while the Bush administration chose the wealth of pharmaceutical companies over the health concerns of older citizens, refused to lower lead standards to protect children, relaxed every environmental standard in the country, oversaw the greatest decline of jobs in modern history, made every effort to prevent women from finding out how to protect their rights in the workplace, tried to nominate judges whose careers have been built on discriminating against women and I need to go on? The entire Bush residency has been a vendetta against women, minorities, the poor, the sick, and the middle class.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Supporting Bush is immoral--reason number 8

He lied--oh, how he lied--about his support of patient rights when he was governor of Texas.

During the 2000 campaign, Bush bragged about his getting Texas a patients' rights bill, but the truth is that he did everything he could to block its passage. In 1995, he vetoed a patients' rights bill that included report cards on managed care companies, improved emergency room access, and elimination of the gag clause that prevented doctors from explaining all treatment options to patients.

A few years later, Bush did sign some of these reforms into law, but refused to sign legislation that allowed patients to sue managed care companies. He was then overcome by the Texas legislature, and had to let this legislation go through without his signature.

Inaugural Day or Mourning

There is now an official movement for an organized Day of Mourning on January 20. The idea is for people to march to the steps of the legislatures of all 50 state capitals in protest of the inauguration. The site includes tips for organizing and some helpful links.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

All along the radar tower...

On Thursday, the students at Boulder High School had visitors in bad suits--members of the Secret Service. What they did to effect this visit was to read a little Bob Dylan; specifically, "Masters of War."

The students were rehearsing a reading of the song for the school talent show, and a there was a rumor that they planned to change the last verse to make a specific reference to George W. Bush. Some students and parents were so upset by this that they called the Secret Service to investigate the matter. We all know, of course, that if 16-year-olds are going to carry off the assassination of a world figure, they will let everyone know by verse at a student talent event.

After my tax money was used to determine that Bush was in no danger from the guitar-wielding group that calls itself the Coalition of the Willing, everyone returned to class.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Supporting Bush is immoral--reason number 7

He lied about his relationship with Ken Lay.

George W. Bush and Enron Oil and Gas were in business together in 1986, and Lay has been a powerful political figure in Texas for years. Lay was also a major donor to Bush's second gubernatorial campaign. Bush denied he had much of a relationship with Lay by stating that Lay had given money to Ann Richards, which he did, but not near as much as he gave to Bush.

The man whom Bush affectionately nicknamed "Kenny Boy" suddenly became someone Bush denied knowing very well when the Enron scandal broke.

Attention America...

All marriages are civil unions.

No matter what combination of genders gets married, the contract is a civil union, in all 50 states. You get the license and you sign it in front of a judge, a justice of the peace, a member of the clergy, a sea captain, or whoever has been appointed by the government to make the contract official.

Creating a false distinction between "gay marriage" and "civil unions" is a cheap lie that thousands of people believe. No one has perpetrated this lie more than Democrats, who think that if they don't use the "m" word, people will be more accepting of the concept. And in doing so, they are catering to both ignorance and bigotry.

This evening, wanna-be boy Chris Matthews inteviewed Wesley Clark about the subject, and Clark was quick to point out that Americans aren't ready for gay marriage. "They're threatened by it," he said, and then either misspoke, or showed his true colors--I don't know which--by saying "Gay marriage threatens traditional marriage."

Thousands of heterosexual couples get married at City Hall, or at the JP's office. Thousands more get married in a church only because "it loooks nice" or "our parents wanted it" or "it feels right." Many others marry in a church for religious reasons. None of them is more married than any of the rest of them. They are all married because they have entered into a civil union.

Some churches will bless the marriages of gay couples; most won't. If a gay couple wants to be married in a church, that couple can probably find one. But they will be just as married by a "civil union" as they will be by a civil union blessed by a church. It is all marriage.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Supporting Bush is immoral--reason number 6

He lied about lead, and took children poiltical hostage.

In the spring of 2003, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study that showed--as scientists had long suspected--than even low levels of lead are harmful to children. The CDC estimates that more than 400,000 children in the United States under the age of five have elevated levels of lead in their blood. In 2000, when he was campaigning for the presidency, Bush said he intended to lower lead levels, but once he was the resident, his administration got rid of the lead experts and utilized lead industry "scientists" to help him back out of his promise.

So often, Cynthia Tucker says it best

And she certainly did on November 8.

Maureen Dowd nailed it, too, just a day earlier.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

How stupid does Alan Simpson think we are?

Former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson, known for his sense of humor, made a total ass of himself on the last episode of Real Time. He accused Bill Maher of making fun of conservatives and gay people, and then wondering why they wouldn't listen to him. Hello! There is no bigger supporter of the gay community or of the right of gay people to marry than Maher, who makes jokes about everybody. Here's a hint, Alan: Maher's a comic.

We saw a similar I'm-so-shocked stance when Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm was visibly uncomfortable being interviewed by Maher in an earlier episode of the show. "What did you expect?" Maher asked her, reminding her that she was on an HBO satire program.

But if Granholm's response was caused by a deficit of humor, Simpson's was caused, I think, by something much more sinister. Just as conservatives rushed to say that Democrats were anti-woman, anti-Hispanic, and anti-black when they blocked the federal court nominations of such bigots as Janice Brown and Miguel Estrada--now they are rushing to say that liberals are anti-gay because Kerry pointed out that Mary Cheney is a lesbian. This is an especially vicious strategy that works well in influencing people who have a lifelong commitment to refrain from thinking.

And if Simpson is so sensitive toward minorities, what was he doing participating so actively in the gang that soul-raped Anita Hill during the Thomas hearings?

Supporting Bush is immoral--reason number 5

He executed the mentally retarded and lied about it.

It seems that even George W. Bush eventually realized that most people outside of Texas are opposed to the execution of mentally retarded people, and he has broadcast his own opposition to these executions all over the world. However, when he was governor of Texas, two mentally retarded men were executed, and Bush did nothing to stop the proceedings.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Where's Mama Gump when you need her?

On election night, one of the cable networks interviewed a Bush voter, whose words keep reverberating in my head. He said something to the effect of: "A lot of us don't like the way Iraq is being handled and we aren't too sure about several of his policies, but we're sick and tired of being called 'stupid' by liberals. That's why we voted for Bush."

Talk about your non sequitur.

When I worked in a hospital and did groups with alcohol- and drug-dependent patients, one of the therapists was fond of saying to them, "Okay, I'll show you--I'll hurt me!" If that's what's going on here, then why aren't liberals voting against their own interests because they're sick and tired of conservatives calling them "unAmerican" and "wackos"? Maybe because they're not stupid enough? Just a thought.

I'm not sure how stupid these conservatives are, but I know there is a lot of ignorance involved. These voters refuse to learn about Bush's record as governor of Texas, which is one of corruption, corporate greed, and environmental rape. They don't want to learn about the Bush family's ties to the Saudi royals, and the international implications of that relationship. They can't be bothered to find out how their own children are being poisoned by Bush's environmental "policy." They can't name one way they would be harmed if a gay couple got married. And they don't know the difference between an average and a median, so they think the tax break is helping a lot of people.

The really sad part is that many so-called "moderates" don't know these things, either. And the mainstream news media, which has operated under the control of the White House since 2000, isn't going to tell them. Walk into a coffee shop and try to start a converation about PNAC or Sibel Edmonds and check out the blank faces around you. I don't have a problem with the national preoccupaton with values--bring it on, I say. But be prepared to listen to some grisly stories about the most immoral White House of all time.

Supporting Bush is immoral--reason number 4

He committed insider trading.

If anyone other than a Bush had done what he did, and if the FEC "investigator" didn't just happen to be Bush Sr.'s father, there would have been insider trading charges filed against Bush for his Harken Energy stock dumping actions. During the 2000 election, the news media behaved as though nothing was wrong with the story of the "lost" filings. But there is no doubt in the minds of anyone familiar with the facts that Bush's action's were illegal.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Voting in Florida

In Dixie County, Florida, there are 12, 887 registered voters, and over 69% of them are Democrats, yet--surprise!--Kerry received 2,180 votes there, and Bush received 7,738. In Dixie County, there are 4,988 voters, over 77% of whom are Democrats, and while Kerry received 1,959 votes there, Bush received 4,433.

There were other counties in Florida with similar, dramatic discrepancies, and all of them utilized machines that used optical scanners.

When you add this information to the wide gap between the results of the exit polls and the alleged results of actual voting, you are led to conclude that--wait, let me think--oh, I know--that votes may have been stolen in Florida. Imagine that. According to Congressional candidate Jeff Fisher, a Floridian, a similar "arrangement" was made in 2002 to assure Jeb Bush that he would be running against Bill McBride, not Janet Reno.

And I know you're all sick of hearing about this on television.

Supporting Bush is immoral--reason number 3

He lied about Bob Jones Univesity.

At a news conference in Florence, South Carolina in 2000, Bush was asked whether he wished he had spoken out against Bob Jones University's interracial dating ban when he visited the school, and his reply was that he wasn't aware of the policy.

Bob Jones III called Bush Sr. a" devil" when the elder Bush president suggested the university should lose its tax-exempt status because of its treatment of African Americans. The controversy was in the news for years. W. Bush has never forgotten any slight against his father, and, in fact, has generally been in charge of all vengeance against his detractors.

The lie was transparent, and--as always--he was allowed to get away with it.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

A real punch in the gut

Margaret Cho writes in her blog how amazing it is that so many Bush supporters are treating the election like a sports victory. "They are acting like it is some kind of sporting event," she says, "like their team won, and they are going to celebrate by doing beer bongs and hanging each other outside hotel windows by their big, stupid, un- evolved webbed feet."

If the opposition treats an election like a sporting event, they do so with plenty of encouragement from the media. How thoroughly sick I became of hearing (male) talking heads go on and on about the candidates "stepping up to the plate," being "down on the mat," "going for a touchdown," "going for a knock-out," "nearing the finish," "hitting a home run."

When all of the metaphors are about sports, the idea does seep in that an election is about candidates besting each other in physical competition. Not only does this idea reinforce the American bias toward distrusting anything intellectual, it really "drives home" the belief that political candidates in important elections are men.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if Chris Matthews and his guests said that the candidates are "ready to put it in the oven," or they "need to add some hot sauce"?

(Wouldn't it be really refreshing if Chris Matthews--the big, Bush-lusting-wanna-be--just went away?)

Supporting Bush is immoral--reason number 2

His campaign viciously trashed a Republican war hero, Senator John McCain, in order to obtain votes in South Carolina in 2000.

Dangerous right-wing activist though he may be (and it's amazing how many "moderates" and "liberals" have never bothered to check his record), McCain's extraordinary service and personal courage in Vietnam cannot be disputed, nor can his commitment to war veterans.

But in 2000, it was McCain's commitment to veterans that was twisted, lied about, and used as part of a campaign to defeat him in South Carolina. Charging that Senator McCain had "turned his back on veterans," Bush swept through the state with a huge win. But the charge about ignoring veterans was the nice part of the campaign: The Bush campaign distributed materials calling McCain "the fag candidate" and implying that while he was a POW, he had committed treason. There were also fliers that said that McCain's POW experience had made him too mentally unstable (yes, isn't it ironic?) to be president of the United States, and that his wife was a drug addict. There was also a rumor that the candidate had cheated on his wife.

The clincher, however, was the effort to make sure everyone in South Carolina knew that McCain had a dark-skinned daughter--he and his wife have a child they adopted from Bangladesh. McCain, the rumor went, has a "black" child because he made a prostitute pregnant when he was in Vietnam. Guess those gay soldiers will do anything during wartime.

This especially poisonous campaign was very similar to the one used by Karen Hughes to unseat Ann Richards in Texas. It worked, too, which is the worst thing of all. And which is further proof that Americans are not only racist and homophobic, but that they have no interest in discovering facts.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Supporting Bush is immoral--reason number 1

He lied about his criminal record.

During the 2000 election, while flatly refusing to discuss his cocaine use, Bush did acknowledge he'd had a drinking problem by saying "When I was young, I did a lot of foolish things." No problem. However, when a reporter asked him if he had a criminal record after 1968 (when he was arrested for disorderly conduct), he said he did not.

That was a lie. He received a DUI when he was 30--hardly a youth, by the way. And who can forget the dizzying spin of Karen Hughes after the media reported Bush had lied (one of the few times the media has acknowledged his lies, by the way)?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Animal cruelty gets big boost in Louisiana

88% of Louisianians say they are against cockfighting, yet cockfighting persists in the state. Efforts to stop it get no help from Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, whose home district is probably ground zero for all cockfighting activity.

But the 88% figures comes into question when you consider that on Tuesday, 81% of Louisiana voters passed a constitutional amendment that gives rights to hunter, fishermen and -women, and trappers to do anything they want, restricted only by natural resources preservation laws and trespass laws (which are routinely ignored).

In other words, Louisianians say they are appalled by roosters going at each other with steel claws, but they think it is fine and dandy to catch creatures (intended or otherwise) in foothold traps.

The amendment was placed on the ballot with the hope of passing it before the animal rights movement could challenge the methods used to trap and kill and make attempts to restrict both times and seasons of hunting and trapping. Whether the animal rights movement will be able to challenge the amendment remains to be seen. On the other hand, what is clear is that the voters of Louisiana either don't really care about animal cruelty or don't bother to study the amendments for which they vote.

My guess is both.

"I've never been so proud to be an American"

That's what a very excited woman said when she called Rush Limbaugh yesterday. At that very moment, I was thinking that I had never been so ashamed to be an American. This morning, a man called C-Span to say he was grateful that the "hand of God had been on this election." That is a god who I hope keeps his (it was definitely a male--the caller made that clear) hand as far away from me as possible.

According to polls, Americans elected Bush president because of two issues: terrorism and moral values. If it weren't for the fact that this is my country that they have trashed, I'd be rolling on the floor laughing. Taunting terrorists and daring them to attack us is a good way to insure more attacks than we might have otherwise expected. Blowing up a major country on a PNAC whim is an excellent way to incur the wrath of terrorists, not to mention everyone else.

That people cannot see the obvious danger in electing a war-crazy president is almost beyond me, but not quite. Bush is the final spray of mega-testosterone in a culture already totally doused by the giant spray can of Reaganism. In Amurica, being a man still means fighting, bullying, avoiding nuance, and taunting anything intellectual. And it is vital, in such a culture, that everyone "be a man," regardless of actual gender. Because, well--you know--being a man is better than being a woman.

But I digress. It's the "moral values" part of the equation that really has me feeling I've dropped into a parallel universe. How did it come about that the "moral" leader of the country is a man who committed insider trading, bilked the entire state of Texas in order to fatten his investor friends, lied about almost every campaign promise or presidential initiative he has pronounced, lied about his substance abuse legal problems, manipulated it so that thousands of African women and children would die, blew up a country under false pretenses, and led a phony fight against the high possibility of curing serious diseases?

This is how: He first executed dozens and dozens of criminals. Then he declared a holy war on those dark-skinned people who don't like us. Then he led the latest fight to deny civil rights to gay citizens. Through it all, he waved a bible and a flag and declared liberals the enemy. This entire script comes out of the Reagan playbook, and Bush has added the always-successful element of creating a constant state of fear.

In this Through the Looking-Glass nightmare, up is down and east is west. People believe anything they hear as long as it is punctuated by conservative religious sentiment and has a subtext of bigotry. Of course, no one helped Bush more than the news media, who--for five years--have steadfastly refused to expose his Texas record, discuss his program of environmental destruction, challenge his empty intellect, list his multiple lies, or talk about the truly horrific behaviors of people in his administration (remember Valerie Plame?).

A concession must be made that John Kerry was the worst possible candiate to run against Bush. Not because he is (or rather, used to be) a liberal. Not because of his post-Vietnam record (they would have made up dirt about any candidate). But because he refused to attack the lies, incompetence, arrogance, and out-and-out evil of the Bush White House. The average person is unaware of the nightmare that is the White House because the average person is too "busy" to pay attention, and because the mainstream news media has made a point of keeping it all a secret. It was up to Kerry to bring the dirt out in the open, and he didn't even try. His sniping at Howard Dean--though utterly distasteful--had more spirit than his campaign against Bush.

We are becoming an increasingly right-wing nation. A nation that worships an ignorant, heartless bigot like Ronald Reagan is a nation that elects George W. Bush president.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The big gorilla in the basement

"The big gorilla in the basement" is what Robert L. Gallucci, dean of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and a classified consultant to the CIA and Energy Department laboratories, calls nuclear material from Russia and Pakistan. In fact, half of the world's stockpile if plutonium and enriched uranium is in Russia, according to the Washington Post.

Securing such nuclear materials is, as Bush would say, "hard work." And dangerous work. Bush has let two of the major programs lapse, in fact, because Russia refused to accept a clause in the agreement that would protect U.S. firms from liability for worker safety. He also cut budget requests for securing foreign nuclear materials by 9 percent ($41 million).

Do we face a serious threat from the nuclear stockpiles of Russia and Pakistan? Gallucci, an arms control specialist, says we do. Add this situation to the long list of things Bush does which are directly opposite of what he says.