Monday, February 28, 2005

Houston conference subject of PBS documentary

On Tuesday, March 1, Independent Lens will present "Sisters of '77," a documentary on the National Women's Conference of 1977 in Houston. I was there, and though my memories are rather vague, I do recall it was a very exciting time.

Maybe he can move to California and run for governor

After all, one of Schwarzenegger's accusers was 15 at the time of the alleged incident. Judge Medawar is a real piece of work.

Non sequitur of the day

Bush, in addressing the nation's governors: "I have surrounded myself with candid, open people."

As Bush's deceit becomes more blatant, thousands die

The Bush administration continues to deny AIDS prevention and treatment funding to programs that use the clean needle exchange program. Now, the White House--constantly accused of ignoring science--is citing the results of three different studies to "prove" its contention that there is no real evidence that clean needles prevent AIDS.

The problem is that in all three studies, the research scientists clearly advocate clean needle programs. One of the studies yields an unequivacable clean needle effectiveness result. Another of the studies was done by a group unheard of by world scientists, but which is known to have strong ties to the Bush administration. The third study questions the methodology of some clean needle studies, but concludes that there is ample evidence that clean needle programs reduce the spread of AIDS.

The Bush administration has taken portions of these studies out of context and twisted their meaning in order to justify their active participation in the needless deaths of thousands of people, including babies and children. No one is stopping them, and the Christians wonder why other countries hate us so much.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand what's going on here

Welcome to the U.S.A., where the men are strong, the children are happy, and the women have rocket fuel in their breast milk.

Scientists at Texas Tech University have reported that perchlorate, a toxic component of rocket fuel, appears in the breast milk of vitually all American women, in levels that are, on the average, 5 times greater than in cow's milk. Perchlorate affects the thyroid gland, which means that babies are the most vulnerable to its effects. An impaired thyroid gland in an infant can cause neurological problems that lead to lower IQ's and learning disabilities.

There is also perchlorate in our food and water supplies, which should come as no surprise to anyone. The EPA has just issued a safety standard of 24.5 parts per billion. A couple of years ago, the National Academy of Sciences recommended 1 part per billion, but the Bush administration ignored the recommendation. The assumption (and I'm not so sure that assumption is a correct one) is that 24.5 parts per billion is safe for adults, but now there is a question about whether it is safe for infants.

The average amount of perchlorate found in human breast milk was 10.5 parts per billion. The Department of Defense, at one time, was pushing for a standard of 200 parts per billion because, you see, it is very expensive to clean up perchlorate from the environment. Given what we have seen for the past four years, there is no reason to expect the so-called Environmental Protection Agency to call for a lower perchlorate standard any time soon, but it wouldn't suprise me if it called for a higher one.

If you see one of those new Republican mothers today, be sure to tell her how baffled you are that she has conspired to poison her baby.

Dubai to award women equal prize money

For the first time, the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open, a Tier II WTA tournament, will be awarding equal prize money to men and women in the popular tournament that began qualifying play yesterday. This is a big step for women's tennis, and perhaps Dubai's move will serve as a slap in the face to the European tournaments that still insist on giving men more money for their wins.

Back before the great Billie Jean King got angry and organized WTA players, the notion of giving women equal prize money was the object of ridicule in the United States. Now the U.S. leads the world in awarding equal prize money. The current excuse for paying men more is that they "work harder," that is, they have to take 3 out of 5 sets to win a match, whereas women have to win 2 out of 3. Men play 5 sets because the popular belief is that they can, whereas women's endurance is about right for 3 sets. If this is so, then--using the logic of the people who plan the tournaments--men are not working harder. You can't have it both ways: If 5 sets for men requires the same physical endurance as 3 sets for women, then why not award them the same money?

Oddly enough, the above argument is never used to justify equal prize money. The argument that is used is that the women's game is just as entertaining (these days, most people think it is more entertaining) as the men's, and there are just as many women's tennis fans (again, these days, there are more) as fans for men's tennis, so why not provide equal prize money?

The answer should be obvious.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

I can't HEAR you

ABC executives have forced Robin Williams to drop a song from the Oscars show that lampooned James Dobson and his obsession with Spongebob Squarepants. The show's executives gave all sorts of reasons for wanting the song changed or dropped, but none of them rings quite true for me.

Surprise, surprise...

The Justice Department has told a federal appeals court that Sibel Edmonds' lawsuit should not be allowed to proceed because it would cause "significant damage to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

This comes only a few days after the government admitted that classified material pertaining to the case could be released to the public.

He didn't seem to care about taking time to consider when he signed on to the Patriot Act

Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has declined to sign a letter calling for an inquiry into the Gannon affair because he was not given enough time to "carefully consider it."

If you think women's equality is a done deal, better think again

The Beijing Platform for Action, created in 1995 by 185 nations to advance women's rights throughout the world, may lose one of its chief architects, the United States of America. The platform seeks to provide universal education for girls, end violence toward women, and ensure access to essential reproductive care. Therein, of course, lies the rub. During the next two weeks, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women will review the platform, and the Bush administration has already hinted that the United States may not keep all of its commitments.

The White House, which doesn't give a damn about women, is willing to remove the United States from a program whose purpose is to save the lives of millions of women and girls, and to give them something more than a lifetime of servitude. This, remember, is the nation that is delivering democracy-to-go to the far parts of the world, but obviously not to women and children.

In the meantime, over at the Weather Channel, the temperature is rising. Marny Stanier Midkiff, as you may have heard, filed an age discrimination suit against the company last month, alleging its executives wanted to get rid of her so they could have younger women on camera. Stanier is a decrepit 41, by the way. In this month's issue of Harper's, you can read the entire transcript of a presentation given by Weather Channel programming chief Terry Connally. But don't read it on an empty stomach. Connelly compares the various suits worn by female anchors on different news networks, and how some can make you look "old." And he reminds the women to smile because that makes them look "young."

And finally, last night on Real Time, Bill Maher confronted Ohio Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones because she said it didn't offend her that Arab men will not shake a woman's hand. She excused the behavior because it was part of their religion, and Maher to her to task for it, asking her if she would excuse someone's not shaking the hand of a black person because of his religion. Maher's other guests, Tim Robbins and Tucker Carlson, backed him up. Jones deserved everything she got, but unfortunately, was unable to gain any insight from the confrontation.

And I would have savored Maher's feminism a whole lot more if he hadn't just called Jones a "Congressman." If you're so into feminism, how about not referring to women as men?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Where have you gone, Marlena and Greta?

Down in Fleming Island, Florida, it's not a good idea to be an outre lesbian. (Actually, it's probably not a good idea to be any kind of lesbian in Fleming Island.) Ask Kelli Davis. Her picture can't appear in the Fleming Island High School Yearbook because she is dressed in a tuxedo. The high school principal yanked the photo, and he was backed up by the Clay County School Board.

School officials say their decision has nothing to do with sexual preference, but rather, with gender: Kelli had no right to dress in "boys'" clothes because she is a girl. Even Kelli's mother has Jell-O in her convictions. She made it clear that this wasn't a case of "gay rights," but of "human rights." Whatever. If it was good enough for Judy Garland, it ought to be good enough for Fleming Island.

Apparently, there is no written dress code for the photos, but school officials are allowed to set the standards for them. God only knows what would happen if the picture were to appear in the yearbook. 15-year-old girls would rush out to buy Shane wigs and join Amelie Mauresmo's fan club, and 15-year-old boys would be crushed over the knowledge that Kelli wasn't hot for them, after all. Sounds like anarchy to me.

Apologist for women, in so many words, blames women

Ms. Musings has a post this week about Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's book, Hating Women: America's Hostile Campaign Against the Fairer Sex. Rabbi Boteach delineates four negative stereotypes of women and then suggests that women "fight back" for their rightful place of honor. Ms. Musings also directs us to a column written by Rabbi Boteach, in which he uses Queer Eye for the Straight Guy to make a point about what is currently missing from men's education about how to be male.

The rabbi longs for the days when women taught men how to dress and how to act. Men could be civil again if only women would act like his mother did (which includes, by the way, at least one act of abusive behavior), or--at the very least--take some tips from the Fab Five. In other words, women must tame the beast or the hate will continue.

All that education, all those seminars, all that life experience, and the good rabbi just doesn't get it: It is not the responsibility of women to teach men how to act.

Here we go again--bloggers needed to stop Kansas witchhunt

Last time it was Virginia. Now it's Kansas. From the WBAY TV website:

The attorney general of Kansas wants to know the detailed history of the sex lives of nearly 90 women who received late-term abortions. Court documents show that Phill Kline wants to search the documents for evidence of crimes under laws that limit late-term abortions and require mandatory reporting of suspected child sexual abuse.

We went through something similar in Virginia last month, but when bloggers brought the ugly plan to light, it was scrapped. It's time to get to work.

Friday cat blogging

Bookstore cat, Capitol Hill--Seattle Posted by Hello

Bookstore cat, Capitol Hill--Seattle Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Congratulations are in order

To Amanda at Mouse Words, for winning the Koufax Award for Best New Blog. Mouse Words has it all: feminism, culture critique, music, attitude, and some choice cat blogging.

If you're a woman, there's not much hope from the Pope

It is sad that the Pope is ill. A once high-energy, athletic man, he has never been the same since he was shot, and now his health is obviously declining even more. His illness has prompted me to think about him and all he represents. What especially prompted me was a statement by his representative that the Pope is "a symbol of hope."

Hope for whom? I have to ask. Certainly not for the millions of worn-down Third World Catholic women who have been told repeatedly that any form of birth control is sinful. Or the Catholics who have been told by high church officials that condoms do not prevent transmission of the AIDS virus. Certainly not for the children born into never-ending poverty. Or the women in Bosnia who were raped and then told they could not get abortions.

The Vatican's oppression of women is extreme. Western Catholics deal with the ban on birth control by ignoring it, but it is a different story in other parts of the world. It is no coincidence that a church that forces women to get pregnant against their will also will not make them priests.

Goodman does it again

It's no surprise to me that Ellen Goodman has written my own favorite take on the Larry Summers issue. I dont' know what we'd do without her.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Ministry of Silly Walks is still up for grabs

Over at Pinko Feminist Hellcat, Sheelzebub (president-for-life of her own grand domain) is preparing to appoint ministers. If you believe you should be in charge of a ministry, you can go over there and make your case. I'm going for Minister of Second-Wave Outrage and Pro Tennis Hoodoo, so please don't request that one.

Eastwood attacked for "immoral" film

Libertarian Clint Eastwood is currently on the receiving end of the right-wing Hollywood attack squad because of his latest film, Million Dollar Baby, in which the lead male character (played to perfection by Eastwood) commits an act of mercy killing.

According to The Independent, the film was denounced by Rush Limbaugh as "liberal propaganda," and Michael Medved as "an insufferable, manipulative right-to-die movie." The head of the Christian Film and Television Commission called Million Dollar Baby "very anti-Catholic and anti-Christian."

According to a nurse acquaintance of mine, the film's portrayal of the protagonist's injury and its treatment were totally inaccurate. I have come to expect inaccuracy about all matters medical and legal (and probably everything else) in films, but I expected better from Eastwood. Shame on me. At any rate, instead of attacking the inaccuracy, our culture's so-called moral leaders have chosen to attack the film's morality. In Chicago, a disability advocacy group even picketed theaters showing the film.

Million Dollar Baby is a hard film to watch, once the fun part is over, and for me, all of it was hard to watch because I am revolted by boxing. It has wonderful performances, however, and tells a good story. Here is the main issue for me, with regard to the protests: The protagonist (Hilary Swank) is a woman with a strong sense of identity and purpose, and she asks--no, she begs--to be put out of her misery. She tries to kill herself, but is unsuccessful. She is cognitively intact, and at peace with the idea of death. Why, then, in this scenario, would the "moral" option be to walk away from her?

The same crowd who is oh, so shocked by euthanasia doesn't seem to give a damn about sending thousands of young Americans to be killed and maimed in a fake war. Or by letting thousands of children starve every day right here in America. Or by supporting the torture of millions of animals in factory farms and laboratories.

About the cost of war...

With the money we have spent so far on the Iraq war, we could have insured 93,254,096 children for one year, fully funded global anti-hunger efforts for 6 years, and fully funded world-wide AIDS programs for15 years.

These dramatic figures, and many more, are available from the National Priorities Project website. You can find out how much war money has been sucked from your state and even your city, if you live in a major urban area. You can also get a cost of war counter for your website and find out how your federal tax dollars were spent.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Taxpayers have been saved some money

The Justice Department has admitted that information regarding Sibel Edmonds' allegations it had retroactively classified can be released to the public. A hearing on the classified information had been scheduled before a U.S. District judge this morning.

My experience with Internet message boards

I used to be a member of a couple of major Internet message boards--one for liberals, and the other for writers. I am still a member of one major writers' message board, and I run a tiny message board for writers who defected from the other one.

I left both of these boards for the same reasons: 1. the ignorance of many posters, 2. the appalling lack of rational thinking, 3. rude behavior, and 4. rampant sexism. These characteristics were disappointing among writers, but not that surprising. All kinds of people think they can write; some of them actually can. But that doesn't mean they can think critically or that they have dealt with their prejudices.

Confronting so much ignorance, irrationality, and sexism on a so-called "liberal" board was more upsetting. Women were attacked routinely, as was anyone involved in the animal liberation movement. I was even stalked on the board by someone who was offended by my campaign to stop theft of my copyrights.

There is a sports board that I read sometimes, but I would not join because of the rudeness and the sexism. In this case, the constant female exploitation is done mostly by women.

When I left the writers' forum, one of its leading members was upset with me, and asked me why I went away (it seemed obvious to me that I went away because being attacked by crazy people did not amuse me). I told him I thought there was quite a bit of psychological instability among the members (many of the outbursts and writing patterns were clearly products of mental problems). He wrote back asking if I didn't think there was about the same amount of psychological instability in the forum as in the general population. I wrote back that there wasn't that much mental instability in my psychotherapy practice. That was the end of our correspondence.

It is possible for people to behave reasonably on a message board, as is evidenced by the writers' forum of which I am still a member. Of course, things will get out of hand from time to time, but there are moderators to deal with that, and such things are rare occurrences. There is plenty of disagreement, for sure, but posters are focused on the subject of their writing, and they are serious about it.

I believe that all social intercourse, face-to-face or otherwise, should be civil. But I find it is especially important to be civil in a cyber situation because we cannot see each other's facial expressions and body language. Unfortunately, the cyber situation seems to being out people's most negative behavior.

And an awful lot of people need to read up on the logical fallacies, the sooner the better.

Monday, February 21, 2005

A call for fair Coulter-bashing

Liberals hate Ann Coulter. Coulter is nuts, to be sure, but I give her some credit for having a sense of humor, which most right-wing talking heads do not seem to have. Coulter is over the top, she knows it, and it's part of her routine. It has made her rich and famous. Her ideas are revolting, but at least she is entertaining.

What is not entertaining is the way liberals attack her. Calling her "Ann the Man" because she has a noticeable Adam's apple, or displaying pictures of her with male parts is not only not funny, it is cruel, and it is also disgustingly sexist. When we don't think a woman looks "feminine" enough, we call her a man, thus attacking her sexuality. An when some liberal men don't like the way a woman behaves, they tend to call her ugly, thus equating--yet again--a woman's worth with the way she looks.

What we do to men is just as bad. Perceived as "weak"? You're "like a girl." "Don't be a little girl," fathers tell their sons when they cry over an emotional or physical wound. This is, of course, just another way of insulting women. God forbid that anyone should wind up a girl.

There is plenty to criticize about Ann Coulter without attacking her sexuality, because those kinds of attacks are what liberals are supposed to be fighting against.

A question that should frighten everyone

Dave Lindorff of the International Labor Communications Association, asks what I consider the question of the month--maybe the year:
When CBS goofed up, people were fired and quit in disgrace. But when dozens, maybe hundreds of news outfits run Bush administration-made propaganda posing as legitimate news reports, nobody has to resign. What gives here?
What gives, indeed? "The real culprit in this massive propaganda scam though," writes Lindorff, "has to be the public, which seems to take little interest in actively evaluating the news it is being spoon-fed."

That is because the public is: a. intellectually lazy; b. not trained by the educational system to do analytical thinking; and c. hearing what it wants to hear: America is strong and good, and our enemies must be vanquished. Those enemies, of course, are terrorists, but terrorists cannot be vanquished by blowing up countries, and it doesn't take a degree in geo-political science to figure that out.

But then there are our other enemies: people of color, uppity women, homosexuals, and dissenters. The message of the Bush administration is very much like the message of the Reagan administration: If you are fed up with the queers, liberals, athiests, and welfare queens, stick with us; we're fed up with them, too. It worked for Reagan--he is now considered nothing less than a god--and it works for Bush. It has worked for every fascistic power-hungry leader in history.

The White House controls the media, so there will be no repercussions for the newspapers, wire services, and television news networks that distribute White House propaganda, even when it is wrapped in extra layers of deception.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Riddle me this...

If John Negroponte was telling the truth when he said he didn't know there were death squads in Honduras, then why should he be trusted to be in charge of national intelligence? If he was lying, that makes him--what's the word?--oh, yes, a liar.

Was he lying? The evidence indicates that he was.

Significantly incompetent or complicit in war crimes? Take your pick, and then sit back and watch while another member of the Reagan Mafia ascends to world power.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Why not buy them dinner, too?

This disgusting sentence, handed down by New Orleans Criminal District Court Judge Julian Parker, speaks for itself.

Black History Month--Remembering Althea Gibson

Though it was the graceful Australian Evonne Goolagong (herself a breaker of cultural barriers) who ultimately hooked me into a lifetime preoccupaton with women's tennis, my earliest tennis influence was Althea Gibson. Though I was a baby when Gibson made her breakthroughs at the U.S. Championships (now the U.S. Open) and Wimbledon, she was still winning grand slams when I was a little girl, and I saw her on television and read about her in magazines.

Gibson won 56 singles and doubles titles in the 1950's, including what we would now consider 11 Grand Slam titles, and was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971. She was the first African American woman to play in the U.S. Championships, the first to play in the French Open, and the first to play at Wimbledon. Gibson was also the first African American to be voted the Associated Press's Female Athlete of the Year. From 1975 to 1985, she was the New Jersey State Commissioner of Athletics. Off the court, Gibson was an accomplished golfer, musician, and singer.

In 1958, Althea Gibson wrote her autobiography, I Always Wanted To Be Somebody. She was. Gibson, who died in 2003, opened the door to everyone from Zina Garrison to the Williams sisters. The United States Tennis Association, in honor of Black History Month, has selected the Top 10 Moments In Black Tennis History. Not surprisingly, the Number One moment is Althea Gibson's appearance at the 1950 U.S. Championsips.

Friday cat blogging

It's easier to stay well-groomed if you have a sister Posted by Hello

Some parts are harder to groom than others Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005

It's not a joke, but it might as well be

If you are a liberal, or even a person who has used your brain in the last year or so, you probably use humor to get yourself through the day. You may ask things like, "Who is Bush going to nominate as intelligence czar--John Negroponte?!

Ha ha. The answer--for real--is "yes." That would be the same John Negroponte who executed the Reagan administration's covert strategy to crush the Sandinista government during the 80's. The same John Negroponte who covered up human rights violations in Honduras. The same Negroponte who lied about the cover-up.

And he will be appointed because the same Senate who approved Alberto Gonzales and John Ashcroft will usher him right in.

A couple of good reads

Civil Liberties Watch has an excellent and thorough analysis of the Lynne Stewart conviction.

And at The Wall of Separation, you can read about a potential IRS investigation of James Dobson's Focus on the Family.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Enough with the Christo bashing!

All over the Internet, people who do not like "The Gates", or who do not like any of Christo's art, are not only trashing it (and saying that it isn't art), but are complaining that he could have used the money for some important humanitarian purpose.

First, if Christo's environmental installations are not art, I am hard pressed to figure out what they are. Second, the creation of art is an activity of supreme humanitarian purpose. After much of London was obliterated by the Blitzkrieg and someone criticized the rush to re-build an art museum, Churchill said "I thought that's what we were fighting for."

There is also the fact that it costs absolutely nothing to view Christo's installations. And the fact that for decades, proceeds from his non-environmental works have gone to fund everything from Third World children's funds to American environmental projects.

What bothers me most, though, is that people take out this "the money could have gone to something important" argument when they talk about contemporary artists. I am willing to bet that those same people go to professional sports events, rock concerts, and films and never say "The money could have gone to some more important humanitarian purpose."

Sexual harrassment: our national pastime

Over at Utopian Hell, there is a really disturbing post about sexual harrassment in the gaming community. There is a report of a female gamer who logged in as her character, was given an unwelcome "compliment" by a male player, and--when she complained--got trounced by both men and women for "ruining the game." If you have the stomach for it (I barely did), here is the original thread.

In the 50's and 60's, the general attitude was that women should either enjoy unwanted sexual advances and comments, or--at the very least--passively receive them. During the Second Wave of feminism, women were finally able to say a resounding No to unwanted sexual behaviors from men. But the gains of the Women's Movement have been seriously eroded, in case you haven't noticed, and saying no is not a popular option these days.

Today's "solution" to sexual harrassment is to ignore it. Ignoring it, you see, doesn't hurt the poor perpetrator, and it keeps everything nice and fun. But calling someone on it--as you can see from the vicious gaming thread--is way out of line.

Note poster number 7 in particular, who is completely wrong in saying that sexual harrassment in the workplace is "have sex with me and you won't be fired." That is not correct (but what do you expect, when Americans don't even know how to pronounce "harrassment" and are made fun of on TV when they pronounce it correctly?). Sexual harrassment in the workplace includes any sexual behavior or remark that makes another person feel uncomfortable. And the other person does not have to be the recipient of the remark; it can be someone within earshot of it.

For example, if Bob is alone in the office with Mary, and every day he says things like "Your ass looks good in those pants," and Mary is stupid enough to think that is an appropriate workplace remark, Bob is not committing sexual harrassment. But if Bill is in the room, too, and he is offended by the remark, then it is sexual harrassment. That's the law.

Like everything else, the sexual harrassment laws have been twisted around to attack women. "Now women are offended if you tell them you look nice" is the catchphrase. No, women are offended if you refer to, comment on, or touch their bodies when you have no right to or when you do so in an inappropriate setting. Apparently, that is just too much to ask. And the woman who speaks out is somehow betraying her desperate sisters who will subject themselves to anything to get a man (or some facsimile of one).

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Westminster sponsored by animal-abusing company

I always enjoy watching the Westminster Kennel Dog Show on television. This year, there was even a judge who wasn't dressed like a fashion freak show and who smiled at the dogs and handlers. They usually look as though they are presiding at Nuremburg.

This Westminster, however, was disappointing for a couple of reasons. The main sponsor was PETCO, whose major claim to fame is its history of cruelty to animals. The abuse has been so pervasive that many PETCO employees have become whistleblowers, and at this time, there has been no resolution of the problem. (You may write to the Westminster Kennel Club at

The other disappointment was that the television announcers pushed breeds for two nights running, but never mentioned how many wonderful dogs are in shelters, waiting for homes.

The 2005 Best in Show, by the way, is Champion Kan-Point's VJK Autumn Roses, a.k.a. Carlee, a beautiful German shorthaired pointer.

One nation, one way to think

Earlier this year, Michael Newdow's suit to remove the words "under God" from the pledge of allegiance was renewed by three California families whose children attend northern California schools. The first decision, in Newdow's favor, was reversed because Newdow is not his child's sole custodian, and his former wife was opposed to the lawsuit.

In the meantime, in Virginia, the Spotsylvania County School Board voted to remove a policy requiring students to stand during recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance. The policy resulted from a state senate bill that required students to stand and recite the Pledge unless they could articulate a religious objection and provide proof of their religious beliefs.

The presumption behind this rule is that you have to have a religious reason to refrain from standing with your hand over your heart when the pledge of allegiance is recited. But what about the students who do not have a "religious" reason, but who think it is wrong to recite the pledge? And what happens if--just pretending here, of course--the pledge is restored to its original form (minus "under God"), and people still object to reciting it?

I am one of those people. Loyalty oaths scare the hell out of me, and they always have. Then there is that business about liberty and justice for all, which certainly does not exist in this country. Perhaps it is because one of my parents did not become an American citizen until later in life, or perhaps it is because I have never been good at doing something without questioning the authority behind it. Whatever the reason, a group of people standing and pledging loyalty to something in unison gives me a creepy feeling, and it always will.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Great romance films

In observance of Valentine's Day, here are some thought-provoking films that treat romantic love with depth:

High Noon--The famous 1952 western is about male honor, and how it must be fulfilled before romantic love can be properly taken on. In this case, the frightened and impatient woman (Grace Kelly) grabs a gun and helps Gary Cooper get on with it.

My Man Godfrey (the original, with the great Carole Lombard, not the horrible remake)--Also one of the greatest screwball comedies ever made, My Man Godfrey, though not directed by Preston Sturges, could have been. Lombard picks up a hobo as part of a scavenger hunt, brings him home to her loony family, turns him into a butler, and falls in love with him. The joke is on her, though, because the hobo isn't who he seems to be. A very funny look at class politics in 1930's America.

The Philadelphia Story--Adapted from the play, the film version has an edgy sophistication that makes it a joy to watch. Katherine Hepburn, in all her glory, is about to marry a boring society man. A cheeky journalist shows up to spoil things, and falls for Hepburn, thus spurning his photographer/lover Ruth Hussey (always splendid, and always under-rated). But it is Hepburn's ex-husband, played by Cary Grant, who is her real love, and in a Shakespearean ending, all of the improper spells are broken and the right two couples wind up together. (Unfortunately, this film contains some pretty rough father-daughter sexism.)

The African Queen--Charlie (Humphrey Bogart) gets more than he bargained for when he takes prim Rosie (Katherine Hepburn) on the wildest steamer trip imaginable. The female lead was originally intended for Bette Davis, who would also have been a great Rosie.

A Star Is Born--The Judy Garland version, of course--and the restored version, of course-- which is one of the greatest films ever made, and which stars James Mason (no one else wanted the part) in the role of his career. The music is divine, but the story is also compelling. Unlike most stories in which a woman's career eclipses her husband's and the husband feels emasculated, this one is colored by many shades, not sexist black and white. Mason's downfall is his own fault (he is a drunk), he believes deeply in his wife's talent, and she adores him.

The Apartment--A film I could see over and over. I have seen it over and over. Jack Lemmon is a lonely, regular guy who is taken advantage of by the womanizers in his company, who promise him great things if they can just use his key. He is smitten with the elevator operator (Shirley MacLaine, at her charming best), who is suicidal over one of the married executives. But Lemmon takes his chances, and the film has a delightful ending.

Casablanca--Another film that pits love against honor, and that does so with a great deal of class and wit. In the original casting, the part of Rick was to have been played by Ronald Reagan.

Ninotchka--The film whose promotional line was "Garbo Laughs" is one of the most delightful romantic comedies ever made (1939 was an incredible year for American film). Garbo, in a wonderful comic turn, plays a severe, stone-faced Russian bureaucrat who travels to Paris on official business, and is corrupted by capitalism, most notably in the form of Melvyn Douglas.

Holiday--Another great pairing of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn (the best known, and the greatest of the screwball comedies, was Bringing Up Baby). Grant, a free spirit, is all set to marry Hepburn's wealthy sister, whom he does not know is wealthy until he goes to her home. There he meets Hepburn, also a free spirit, and the two of them have a conversation that is one of my favorites in film. Wonderful things transpire, including some impressive displays of tumbling. Of course, Grant and Hepburn wind up together.

Bringing Up Baby--Better known as a screwball comedy than a love story, but a good love story nonetheless. Madcap society girl Hepburn sees handsome, geeky Grant and does anything she can think of to make him stay with her. Anything. Their relationship is a series of accidents, adventures, and moments of irritable affection. I think it is the funniest movie ever made (I have a list of those, too).

The Way We Were--Was there ever such great on-screen chemistry as that between Redford and Streisand? Was there ever a sadder love story? This bittersweet political romance holds up after decades.

Moonstruck--In my opinion, the greatest romantic comedy of all time. Cher is a cynical but sweet Italian-American widow, all set to marry the "big baby" she doesn't love, and then she meets his one-handed, wild-eyed brother (Nicolas Cage) and falls madly in love with him. In the meantime, she discovers her death-obsessed father (Vincent Gardenia) is having an affair. While all this is going on, her mother (Olympia Dukakis) is trying to figure it all out, and her aunt and uncle are waxing nostalgic over their youth, when they were overtaken by moonglow. There is also a glorious cameo appearance by John Mahoney. If ever a film could be called "magical," it is Moonstruck, which is also hilarious at every turn.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

On "Christian therapy"

I recently had a prospective client call me to schedule a psychotherapy appointment. She asked if she could ask me a question. That is pretty common. People usually ask questions that cannot be answered, like "What kind of therapy do you do?" (It depends on the person and the problem), "How many sessions will it take?" (I have no idea, since I haven't evaluated you yet), and "Do you do _____ therapy?" (Yes, but that doesn't mean it is the kind of therapy you need).

This particular woman hit me with one I hadn't been asksed in a long time: Are you a Christian? I told her that I did not reveal personal things about myself, and she said, "but I have to know, since I won't see anyone who isn't a Christian." I told her I did not reveal personal things about myself. She told me, of course, that she could not see me, and we hung up.

Not long ago, a client I was seeing said that one of her family members didn't want her seeing me because he was sure I wasn't "scriptural," and therefore, wasn't "righteous." This particular family member wasn't what I would call righteous, either, but that appeared to be beside the point.

There is such a thing as a "Christian therapist," though a colleague of mine (who is Christian) is always asking me "What the hell is a Christian therapist, anyway?" A couple of years ago, NPR's All Things Considered ran a feature on Christian therapists, and the therapist who was interviewed said something so irresponsible I almost drove off the road when I heard it. He said Christian therapists were different from other therapists because "they have empathy."

What a lie and an insult. All decent therapists have empathy. You cannot be in the profession if you do not possess empathy. The first, last, and always rule of psychotherapy is: unconditional positive regard for the client. And if you think about it rationally, what is it about the Christian religion that would make one of its therapists have empathy that other therapists could not have?

I never hear of anyone asking for a Jewish therapist or a Buddhist therapist. It is only some Christians who have been made to believe that finding a fellow Christian is more important than finding the most competent mental health professional available. And, not to put too fine a point on it, but it seems possible that a fellow Christian may reinforce someone's already unhealthy guilt about such things as homosexual feelings, gender equality within marriage, and avoidance of abusive family members.

Most of my clients do not talk about God, but some say they believe God must be punishing them. When I ask what they have done to be punished, the only answer they can give me amounts to "because I want a life." It is hard to clear away all of the guilt and self-loathing that have been planted in some people by some churches, but I suppose I would do a better job if I were righteous and had some empathy.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Rose are red, men are retail targets

media girl is looking for feminist analyses of Valentine's Day, so here are some thoughts I have about it...

If Valentine's Day exploits anyone, it is heterosexual men, who are pressured by both tradition and heavy marketing to do something over-the-top for their women. With the exception of Christmas, no other observance brings out as much vomit-worthy advertising. Mall jewelry stores pushing diamond bracelets, heart pendants, and--of course--engagement rings, vie with florists to take whatever post-Christmas cash men have.

The Victorians, whose lovely and whimsical Valentine cards are still reproduced, would all stagger to their fainting couches if they could see what we have done to February 14. The image of hearts, flowers, and cupids is a sweet one. The image of sickeningly enthusiastic men in bad suits and worse hair stacking pre-wrapped boxes of tennis bracelets is not pretty.

I personally do not know any men stupid enough to buy into this nonsense, and I have no sympathy for those who are exploited. As with Christmas, the question is: Since a special occasion has been comercialized to death, is it wrong to observe it? The answer is that everyone should do what s/he damn well pleases. When I was growing up, men bought candy and flowers for women, and women were proud of and grateful for their gifts. But Valentine's Day--despite its commercialism--is no longer part of the woman-stuck-on-a-pedestal syndrome. Women buy cards and flowers for men, and men like it. In fact, the modern observance of Valentine's Day puts the lie to the myth that women must be "courted" by men, that men must display proof of their provider status, and that romance is the exclusive property of heterosexuals.

To be without a partner on Valentine's Day can feel rotten, I suppose, though it never bothered me when I was without a partner because I never gave Valentine's Day any particular importance. The only time I have ever let myself be hurt by one of these observances was when I took a woman who has been like a mother to me to lunch one Mother's Day, and the woman waiting our table handed us both roses, saying to me, "I know you must be a wonderful mother." I wanted to slap her until she bled, because, at the time, my childlessness was the source of extreme emotional pain for me. Later, when I thought about it, I wanted to slap her all over again because, for all she knew, I had beaten my kids with belts or driven them into the lake.

But back to the topic at hand...Valentine's Day, like Christmas, can be small and sweet, or big and gaudy. Or it can not be there at all. In an era when young women still sit by the phone and wait for men to call them and a major national pollster thinks that women must wait for men to propose marriage, Valentine's Day seems pretty benign.

I leave you, gentle reader, with some thoughts from Dorothy Parker.

Friday cat blogging

Velma takes a break on Fat Tuesday Posted by Hello

Roxie and Velma made this valentine because they heart you! Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Federal scientists say they were directed to distort data

According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 200 scientists employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say they were directed to alter official findings in order to lessen protections for plants and animals, according to a survey released yesterday. 30% of the agency's 1,400 scientific staff responded to the survey, which was conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

According to the Times, "More than half of the biologists and other researchers who responded to the survey said they knew of cases in which commercial interests, including timber, grazing, development and energy companies, had applied political pressure to reverse scientific conclusions deemed harmful to their business."

More than 20% of survey responders reported they had been "directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information."69% of those who responded to the survey said they had never been given such a directive. 44% said they have been asked by their superiors to avoid making findings that would require greater protection of endangered species.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Nick Rahall of Virginia have sent a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, asking her to respond to charges of political interference in the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Republicans in Congress plan to pass a bill that is described as a major overhaul of the Endangered Species Act.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

California governor kicks nurses' butts, gains another victory

At Ms. Musings, there's a reference to Jon Carroll's editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle about California Governor Schwarzenegger's crude reaction to the distress of nurses at the Conference on Women and Families. Carroll wonders why there has been virtually no outcry over Schwarzenegger's remark that nurses were a "special interest" and that he had "kicked their butts." This latest accomplishment of the governor's (perhaps an improvement on grabbing their butts) came about after some nurses protested his announcement that he was delaying hospital staff increases.

If it seems hard to imagine that an entire population of people (many of them believed to be liberal) would let nurse-bashing go, consider this: These are the same people who elected an unindicted sex criminal as governor. What do you expect? And before anyone accuses me of California-bashing, let me make it clear that I think Schwarzenegger could have been elected in many states, not just California.

And note to Jon Carroll: Maybe they still wear them in California, but where I live, nurses haven't worn those hats in several decades.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

If men aren't gentlemen, feminists are to blame

In his suggestions for An Antidote for Feminism, Roger Overton, who calls himself a "Christian apologetics junkie," sums it up like this: "The root of the problem... is the failure of men to take up and fulfill their God-given roles. More simply, men have failed to be men. The failure of women to be women is a problem as well, but is dependent first on the failure of men. Therefore the solution must be that men become men once again."

Overton suggests that for men to be men again, they must become true gentlemen and practice gentleness, courage, fidelity, and honor. According to Overton, the concept of the gentleman was destroyed by feminism and changes in the church.

What I want to know is how in hell feminism destroyed men's ability to be gentle, courageous, faithful, and honorable. Feminism requires that everyone behaves with repsect, courage, and gentleness toward others, and feminist women really, really like men who possess those qualities.

Overton's real agenda appears in a later post, when he tells us that all girls want to be princesses. "The beauty and magic of the fairy tales have captured their imaginations and left them wanting more. They want the stories to come to life, and they themselves want the starring roles.

"Little girls, and perhaps big ones too, still want to be princesses. They still long to look beautiful, to live lives that have a twist of fantasy and magic, and even, to some degree, be rescued by Prince Charming. They are our little Ariels, Princess Auroras, and Cinderellas, but where are their Prince Erics, Philips, and Charmings? Who will rescue them? Where is the boy counterpart to the girl’s dreams of princesshood?"

Overton has the answer to that, too: It's Spiderman, who does a lot of super-masculine things, but also displays humility, loyalty, and honor.

It is true that little girls (but not all little girls) want to be princesses because the princess is the feminine ideal, no matter how far from reality that concept may be. But they also want to be princesses because the image of the frilly, helpless, lovely thing has been thrust upon them by teachers, pastors, parents, storybooks, textbooks, and the advertising industry.

What it all comes down to is that Overton and those like him--including many women-- cannot give up the fantasy that women need to be rescued by men. Indeed, if I were in a physically compromising situation that demanded great physical strength, I would want a man or a very strong woman to help me. I appreciate it when men move the really heavy furniture, but I do know how to move it if I need to, and 99% of American life in the 21st Century has nothing to do with moving furniture.

The idea that women striving for social, political, and economic equality with men have caused men to act like like fools and to give up their Christian heritage is a hoot. If we have all of this power, why can't we get decent salaries, health care, job promotions, and freedom from sexual assault?

Women destroyed classless democracy in America

Don't believe it? Ask David Brooks, who, in his February 5 column, takes an amazingly circuitous route to get to his point--that well-off, educated people will fill the DNC's coffers when Howard Dean becomes the DNC chairman.

Brooks begins by recalling fondly the days of the Elks Lodges and Rotary Clubs. Men, both working class and affluent, uneducated and educated, rubbed shoulders regularly for fellowship and to perform community service. This example of democratic (well, if you skip the "men only," "white only" part) fellowship was destroyed in the 60's, Brooks says, because of the advent of organizations that were centralized in large urban areas, rather than being based on local chapter participation.

And which organizations does he use as examples? NOW and NARAL. But of course! It was women who came along and took all the fun out of getting out of the house one night a week to shmooze with the bank president and wear a funny hat. That Brooks would choose these two organizations as examples of the destruction of so-called American egalitarian fellowship says more about David Brooks than it does about changing American culture. Just when you think there is nothing else for women to be blamed for, along comes this.

Not only is Brooks' statement misogynistic, it is incorrect. I was a member of an urban NOW chapter for many years, and there was constant fellowship in chapter meetings. The chapter was made up of educated and not so educated women, women who were financially comfortable, and women who were barely getting by. We were a close group (Kim Gandy was one of our members), and we drew support from one another.

Brooks does name the Soroptimists in his list of good-old-days organizations. The first Seroptimist club was formed in 1921 by women who wanted to serve their communities but were not allowed to join the all-male service clubs. Today, Seroptimists have an emphasis on women's rights in their mission, so one wonders whether Brooks still likes them as much as he did back when they were mixing martinis and defrosting their avocado refrigerators.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Chisholm documentary is great viewing

Chisholm '72--Unbought and Unbossed is a terrific film by Shola Lynch that premiered tonight on PBS's P.O.V. Congresswoman Chisholm ran for president of the U.S. in 1972, and the film follows her campaign, but also includes lengthy clips from interviews done with her when she was older. Chisholm ran for president at a time when neither blacks nor women were considered "serious candidates"--well, nothing much has changed, I know--and much of her energy went into trying to convince the members of the black male caucus to support her. They didn't. And neither did many leading feminists, who went with McGovern.

Chisholm won a court order that forced the networks to include her in televised debates. She also carried 151 delegates to the Democratic Convention, whom she released after the first round of votes.

Watching the documentary made me angry, and it also made me miss Chisholm, who died just over a month ago. It is hard to imagine that there will ever again be such an outspoken person run for president, or maybe for anything. She was afraid of no question, no matter how hostile. If Congresswoman Chisholm were still with us and were to run today, the results would be no different than they were in 1972: People would still be demanding that she get out of the way so that the "real" candidates could run.

Lynch is to be commended for honoring this extraordinary woman.

The White House honors our soldiers

Rebecca Lawson of West Babylon, New York, told MSNBC this story: Her son, a reservist, was ordered to attend an inaugutation party whose purpose was to honor soldiers who had been to Iraq and their families. He arrived at the party, where he and others simply stood and listened to Bush say a few words. There was nothing there for them to eat, so later, they had to go to a fast-food restaurant. Lawson's son spent the night at a local military base, and then was told he had to pay for his room.

First we send them to a war for no other reason than to make some rich people richer. Then we fail to give them the necessary equipment to keep them safe. Then we cut their benefits. And when we "honor" them, we insult them and then make them pay for it.

And of course, we all know what is next: Refusing to acknowledge or treat whatever horrible war-related diseases they get. We've been there before, the last time we kicked sand in people's faces.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

We can't even compliment a woman without insulting her

This is what I was talking about here.

Sad to see Norville go

I am sorry to see Deborah Norville's show go off the air. Norville is intelligent, artiulate, funny, and a fine interviewer. The show is gone because its rating were so poor. In its place will be a new show with Tucker Carlson.

I am left wondering why the show didn't generate better ratings. Have we had so much screaming and interrupting that we have no idea how to watch an intelligent and civilized interview program? Or did the show tank because MSNBC went out of its way not to market it? I don't recall seeing any cross-promoton for it, but I may have missed cross-promotion because I do not watch the network that much.

I hope Norville emerges on another network; she is too good to just walk away.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

H. 'Lilac Wonder', my favorite amaryllis. My other favorite is 'Pink Floyd', but it is very hard to find. Posted by Hello

My bulb obsession

Fall and winter are my favorite times of year, mostly for the weather, but also because I can force bulbs. I am partial to antique bulbs, which not only fill my garden, but are often what I force indoors. I have a non-frost-free (doesn't suck up the moisture) refrigerator in my garage (if you live in a colder climate, you can just stick the pots in your basement), where I keep pots of narcissus, tulips, and crocus. When they are chilled, I put them into a transition room--a place with low light--for a week, then bring them out to bloom.

I also chill antique hyacinths, which I grow in Victorian reproduction forcing vases and French jam jars, and I do the non-chilled seasonal paperwhites and amaryllis, though--for some reason--this year, my paperwhites didn't bloom. Around Christmas, I usually have paperwhites and amaryllis (actually they are called "hippeastrum," but everyone calls them amaryllis, which is really a different plant) all over the house. In January and February, the hyacinths take over, followed by narcissus, and then tulips.

It takes a bit of experimenting to get the temperatures, the chill periods, and the bulb selections right, and even with the most careful preparation, bulbs sometimes seem to have minds of their own. The results, however, are well worth the time and research. The Victorians were obsessed with nature, and filled their homes with bulbs, terrariums, pressed flowers, and illustrations of botanical specimens. Maintaining such collections requires creativity on the part of the collector, and can even provide the forgotten thrills of childhood gathering and sorting. At any rate, bulb forcing gives me a much needed break from thinking about the collapse of society.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Quakers, veterans, and Eisenhower--our real enemy

At least that's what the principal of a Cookeville, Tennessee high school says. The two groups visited the school and distributed materials about the war in Iraq, but these materials were apparently way too "anti-American" and "anti-military" for the people of Putnam County.

Principal Wayne Shank, who is alleged to have told the groups they could not return to the school (he now denies this), pointed out some of the objectionable material--wait for it--such as this quotation from former General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower: ''Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed. Those who are cold and are not clothed.''

According to Veterans for Peace, Shank says the groups can return if their materials pass approval and they are in a setting in which a "balanced" presentation can be made. The school administration was never that worried about a balanced presentation when the Marines showed up.

Black clergy in Atlanta support gay rights

For years, Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial page editor Cynthia Tucker has called on black clergy to stop closing their eyes to the AIDS problem in their community because of their conservative views on homosexuality. It appears they have finally heard her. More than 50 black clergy from metro Atlanta have published a letter in the Atlanta Daily World calling on African-American churches to be more sympathetic to the political and spiritual struggles faced by gay men and women.

The letter, written to Martin Luther King Jr. by Alton Pollard III, director of the black church studies program at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, was sent to 100 members of the clergy, with the hope that a dozen would co-sign. Fifty-four did, making way for what we can hope is a revolution in the American black church community. It is hard enoug to be African American in this culture. To be gay, too, is quite difficult, especially if you have to hide it from your community's biggest source of support.

Friday cat blogging

Doing laundry can be a drag Posted by Hello

But not if you work it right Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Sexism alive and well on the Seventh Circuit

Thanks to Stone Court for pointing out this choice bit of sexism that I somehow missed: Judge Richard Posner writes that Harvard president Larry Summers’s suggestion that women on average are not as willing to invest as much time in a career as men should not have been controversial because "Women who want to have children, as most do, must expect to devote more time to child care that men do. "

Thank you Judge Posner, you prehistoric freak. Why is it that women must expect to do most of the child care? Because men do not know how? Because men's jobs are more important than women's? Obviously, Posner cannot bear to drag his sexist ass out of the 50's and 60's of his youth

Upfront on Sideways

I am wondering whether I am the only intelligent film-goer in America who was not totally enchanted by Sideways. I thought it was a good enough film, yes, but I am baffled by the hoopla surrounding it. In the song, "If A Girl Isn't Pretty," from Funny Girl, there's a line: "Everything you've got's about right, but the damned thing don't come out right," and that is how I felt about Sideways. The acting is top-notch, the story is original, the metaphor is effective. But overall, I was disappointed.

For one thing, I found the humor cheap and predictable--drunken friends doing "hey-hey"'s or their equivalent, old jokes we've seen and heard before, nude people in exposed situations, etc. Often, when I see a film, I am the only one laughing. With Sideways, I was often the only one who wasn't laughing. There were times when I felt there should be a laugh track, and I kept waiting for Adam Sandler to appear.

The other reason I was disappointed is quite subjective: I could find nothing to like about the two main characters. I know they are two flawed men doing the best they can and trying to come to terms with their lives during developmental crises. They are supposed to be likeable losers, but to me, they simply came off as caricatures: one an immature, shallow womanizer; the other, an immature, alcoholic narcissist. And though I tried, I could find no basis for the Virginia Madsen character's attraction to the protagonist.

I liked Payne's other films, especially the viciously hilarious, Preston Sturges-like Citizen Ruth, which stars the great Laura Dern, and which I consider one of the very best (and certainly one of the funniest) films of the 90's . Ruth Stoops may have been a burned-out glue-sniffer, but her ultimate plight as a pawn of the culture wars made her a sympathetic character. Miles and Jack, on the other hand--though they take a pretty interesting road trip--have no one but themselves to blame for the emptiness in their boring lives.

Road trip films are a staple of our culture. It would be hard to imagine American filmdom without Easy Rider, Two for the Road, and Thelma & Louise. I'm sure Sideways (a great title, by the way) will go down as one of the great ones, but for me, the line that kept coming to mind was "Are we having fun yet?"

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Oh, dear...some young people don't care about the mainstream media

In my newspaper today was a syndicated article by Newhouse writer Erin Hoover Barnet entitled "Only Disconnect: Do social sites thwart young people's civic engagement?" The article asks whether Internet use by adolescents and young adults--especially users of LiveJournal-- shields these young people from current events and creates a social disengage.

Barnet says: "Some academics wonder whether heavily social sites such as LiveJournal are fueling an erosion of young adults' engagement in public affairs and use of mainstream news sources to the deteriment of democracy."

I had to smile when I read that because I think any erosion of an engagement with mainstream news is a boon for democracy, not a detriment. Apparently, these "academics" are worried that young Americans will miss out on hearing that 1,000 people attended a protest against Bush, when it was actually 10,000, or 20,000 when it was actually 100,000. They will miss the 5 seconds devoted one time only to Sibel Edmunds. They will miss out on the experience of waiting all week in vain to hear the talking heads discuss Alberto Gonzales's Enron involvement. They probably missed the media conspiracy to knock Howard Dean out of the presidential race, and they also missed the All-SwiftBoat-All-the-Time interview and ad campaign. And sadly, they missed the round-the-clock discussion of what Martha Stewart was wearing when she was unjustly sent to prison.

They missed a lot.

So much for the liberal media and liberal academia.

David T.Z. Mindich, a journalism professor at St. Michael's College, who wrote the book, Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News, is one of Barnet's sources. Mindich cites the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research's figures: " 1972, 46% of college-age Americans read a newspaper every day. Today 21% do. Meanwhile, 11% of 18 to 20-year-olds list news as a major reason for using the Net."

Says Mindich, "The Internet more than any other media is a reflection of people's tastes, whereas, in a newspaper, you encounter information you wouldn't choose yourself or agree with."

Obviously, Mindich has never heard of the practice of reading the sports section or the comics only. To this day, I read only the Metro section on a daily basis. On Wednesday, I read the "cyberscene" section, on Friday I read the entertainment section, on Saturday, I read the garden section, and on Sunday, I read the books and travel section. And I am hardly an adolescent or young adult. And I am quite astute about current events.

To be fair, if I lived in New York, I'd read the Times. As it is, I read it on the Worldwide Web, where I am also able to read The Nation, The Guardian, and a number of other newspapers and magazines. The idea that picking up a newspaper means you will absorb information in which you have no interest may have some merit, but not much.

As for LiveJournal, it includes personal journals, communities, photo-sharing, and news syndication. Users learn what other users are thinking and doing, and that includes the formation of grassroots political activities. It sounds pretty stimulating to me. I am not of a LiveJournal age, but ever since I left the city in which I lived for years, I have found a community on the Internet that I could never find in the rural, conservative area in which I now live.

The other gaping flaw in the Chicken Little argument presented in Barnet's article is that it presumes that people who are not young are well-informed. Consider how many of the people over 30 you know who never read a newspaper or watch television news, or who are glued to Fox or CNN or some other excuse for a news channel. Consider how many people voted for Bush. That is probably all you need to know about how well informed the grown-ups are.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Someone said the "m" word!

Well, actually, it was the "i" word: A spokesman for Yale called the Pentagon's policy toward gays "immoral," which it is. The pronouncement was made after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia declared the Solomon Amendment unconstitutional, allowing Yale and other universities to continue its policy of not allowing military recruiters on campus as long as the Pentagon discriminates against gay soldiers. The court voted 2-1 that the Solomon Amendment violates Yale's First Amendment rights.

If the Pentagon found Yale to be in violation of the 1966 Solomon Amendment, which prevents universities from blocking military recruiting on their campuses, the university could lose millions of dollars of federal funding.

The White House will now try to take the case to the Supreme Court, where it is expected to be heard.

Iraq adopts U.S. style of "democratic" voting

When Bush said he wanted to bring American-style democracy to Iraq, he wasn't just whistling Dixiecrat. Though the denial of voting rights to people living in Sunni Arab cities because of violence and threatened violence has been publicized, it appears there were also other reasons people did not vote.

According to the New York Times, tens of thousands of potential voters in these cities were unable to vote because of insufficient ballots and polling centers. You've heard it before: They waited in long lines. They showed up and there were no ballots for them.

Oh, Florida. Oh, Ohio. Oh, Basra...When will voting rights be honored?

The liberal media is at it again

NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox have all refused to air a spot produced by advocacy group USAction. The spot, which opposes the Bush administration's so-called tort reform plans, has been turned down because it violates network standards for advertising about controversial issues. It was scheduled to have aired right before the State of the Union address.

We have heard this before. The major networks also declined to air and PETA spots during the Super Bowl because they do not accept "advocacy advertising."

Bear in mind that all advertising is "advocacy advertising." Bear in mind that these same networks accept enough "advocacy" advertising to buy a European country during election periods, including ads that are total fabrications. And they also run advocacy ads for the so-called war on drugs on behalf of the White House, as well as ads promoting the White House Medicare program.

So advocacy ads from the Bush administraton are fine, for some reason, but advocacy ads from those opposing Bush are not allowed. There is no one to police this mess, since the FCC also works for the White House.

CNN, by the way, is running USAction's ad. The other networks need to be flooded with emails and faxes.