Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Boy Scouts mistake unmitigated gall for courage

When it was discovered in 2000 that the Boy Scouts of America were cooking their enrollment books, the major news media, for the most part, ignored it. To my knowledge, only Rolling Stone did an in-depth piece on the scandal. Now, here it is, 2005, and after multiple promises that there would be no more hanky-panky, it turns out the Boy Scouts are at it again, this time in Atlanta. The Atlanta-area group has inflated its number of African American scouts in a program for inner-city youth.

Boy Scouts of America has gotten away with discrimination against gays, despite the fact that the organization is largely funded by churches, especially the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and would fold without their financial support. It has also gotten away with continually lying about its membership in order to receive funding.

A Boy Scout is supposed to be trustworthy, kind, and clean of mind. The leadership certainly isn't doing much by way of example.

Ponchatoula, Louisiana child sex abuser gets beaten up in jail

For those of you who are keeping up with the Louisiana church child sex abuse and animal abuse case, it has a new wrinkle: Over the weekend, one of the suspects, Nicole Bernard, was beaten by several inmates in the parish jail and had to be hospitalized. The sheriff is now talking about moving all of the suspects to other jails for their safety.

Want a crotch shot of Nadal? Don't hold your breath

It's hard to think of a more dignified sportswoman than Mary Pierce, so it was especially disgusting to see what the ESPN camera crew did to her right before the start of her French Open quarterfinal with Lindsay Davenport. Pierce bent down to re-tie her shoes, and when she did, her shirt slipped, exposing the tops of her breasts. The camera went directly to her breasts and stayed there for a very long time.

With Maria Sharapova out of the tournament, ESPN now has to get more creative in finding ways to sell sex instead of women's tennis.

It not only blurs the line between church and state; it's just plain stupid

A judge in Kentucky has been giving some alcohol and drug offenders the choice of attending worship services instead of going to jail or to rehab. Michael Caperton, described as a "devout Christian," says his sentences do not comprise a church-state issue because they are not mandatory and because he is careful to say "worship services" and not "church." Well, I'm glad to hear that; it gives convicted individuals an opportunity to finally worship at their local bowling alley or shopping mall.

The ACLU is stating that Caperton's sentencing clearly strays from government's neutrality toward religion because those who decline to go to "worship services" must go to jail. Of course, the ACLU is correct.

Beyond the church-state issue, however, is the issue of outcome. While jail usually does not rehabilitate alcohol and drug users, it at least provides consequences (granted, not always fair, in the case of marijuana) for illegal and often dangerous acts. Rehab units, in my professional experience, are not much help for drug addicts but are often successful for alcohol-dependent people. But there is no evidence that going to church has any impact on substance addiction recovery. And in the case of highly addictive individuals, compulsive religiosity can develop in churches that encourage that sort of thing.

Caperton's judgment is impaired, and the best outcome for him would be for the ACLU to put a stop to what he is doing.

The May garden

Antique canna 'Liberation'

Monday, May 30, 2005

"Tailors will take the names of any person not wearing underwear"

Only in the U.K would soldiers have to be reminded to wear their undies when they go to be fitted for uniforms. Because "it's always been the macho thing not to wear underpants," the British military speculates that none of the soldiers really meant to provide an unwanted show for the tailors.

Here in the U.S., we have the opposite problem.

If you want to insult a man, the best way to do it is to call him a woman

Which is exactly what Frank Rich does in his May 29 New York Times column, "Ground Zero Is So Over."

Rich calls John Kerry "...a character whose genius for equivocating on just about any issue rendered him a pantywaist..."

Liberals are already jumping all over Rich's attack on Kerry (they would do better to find a non-equivocating candidate), but who is really being attacked is every woman in the country. Every time we attack a man by saying he is a woman, we insult all women.

You can write to the Times at letters@nytimes.com

"They thought they had the kids under control"

Those were the words of a law enforcement officer after a 4-year-old boy was shot dead in Tower, Minnesota over the weekend. The boy's family and friends were shooting paper targets, the child wandered in the way, and he was killed by a bullet.

No charges are being filed because it was an accident.

Can anyone say "child endangerment?"

I guess not.

A good example of why mainstream conservatives make fun of liberals

When Lance Armstrong started wearing that yellow Livestrong wristband to promote his foundation, I knew what was going to happen, and it did. There are now colored wristbands for everything--pink for breast cancer, blue for tolerance, and an assortment that includes everything from a Jesus Loves Me wristband to wristbands for hope, peace, and harmony.

What Do I Know
has found the wristband to beat all wristbands, however. It turns out that the anti-poverty wristbands made for the Make Poverty History campaign are made in Chinese factories in conditions that violate both Chinese law and the Ethical Trading Initiative. In other words, sweatshops.

Doubtless, many other wristbands are made in similar conditions.

Memorial Day, 2005

The May garden--in the shade

A view of Holly's Shade Oasis, a small garden adjoining our deck which was planted in honor of our cat Holly, and which now serves as a memorial to her. A glass fishing buoy is visible, and there is a stainless steel sphere on the other end. Hanging above the garden is another fishing buoy, and several hanging baskets surround the area.

Asparagus plant on the wall above Holly's Shade Oasis

Student teacher files suit against Southeastern Louisiana University

A couple of weeks ago, I reported that one of the crazy right-wing teachers in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana attempted to run out a student teacher who complained that the teacher was violating the Constitution by leading the students in prayers. To say that she succeeded would be to excel in understatement.

Cynthia Thompson, a student at D.C. Reeves Elementary School in Ponchatoula, was uncomfortable when teacher Pamela Sullivan, who conducted Bible studies in the cafeteria, allegedly ordered that prayers be said in class. When Thompson mentioned that the activities were unconstitutional, the teacher ordered her to select a student to lead the prayers. Thompson selected a Lebanese student, who was clearly not at ease saying a Christian prayer.

According to Thompson, she then complained to her advisor at Southeastern Louisiana University, who responded by holding Thompson's hand and praying for guidance.

Please note: I am not making this up.

The Dean of the College of Education at SLU (which, by the way, is a respected university), Diane Allen, has now accused Thompson of "forgery, alteration, unauthorized possession or misuse of university documents." These "documents" amounted to a notebook, purchased by Thompson, in which she documented Sullivan's First Amendment violations.

Thompson gave a copy of her notes to Allen. She then received an F in student teaching, and--with the ACLU's backing--has filed suit against Southeastern Louisiana University, the Tangipahoa Parish School Board, and several university officials, including SLU president Randy Moffett and Sullivan.

New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist James Gills sums it up best: "The Christians of Tangipahoa have maintained in their letters that it can never be tyranny to let the majority have what it wants. The Christians of Iraq, however, take a different view."

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I'm sick of Bud Collins

Collins' latest insult is to call all of Lindsay Davenport's French Open opponents prior to Kim Clijsters "no-names." While it is true that Katerina Srebotnik, Shuai Peng, and Virginie Razzano are ranked well below the world number one, calling them no-names not only insults them, it insults Davenport.

So far, all of Davenport's French Open matches have gone to three sets, not what one would expect from a world number one, but not really unexpected in this circumstance: Davenport always struggles on red clay, and she did not play any of the European warm-up tournaments. And to the casual watch-only-the-Grand-Slam-final-matches reader, Srebotnik, Peng, and Razzano are indeed no-names. But to people who follow tennis, they are not. Peng, before entering the WTA tour, earned eight ITF singles titles. Srebotnik has three WTA singles titles.

This isn't the first time Collins has said something nasty. In 2003, he complained that a group of "players who can't play" were competing to be the next Anna Kournikova, that is, the next celebrity fashion plates. Though I, too, find it offensive for WTA players to become cover girls, in this case, Collins was talking out of his ass. At the time, I said that each of the players to whom Collins had to be referring was a proven tennis prodigy.

And I was right. Jelena Dokic won five WTA singles titles and was ranked number 4 in the world before her career was toppled by serious family problems (yet another abusive tennis father). Daniela Hantuchova won one WTA singles title and was ranked number 5 in the world before family problems curtailed her career, also. She is currently trying to regain her former status, and has worked her way up to number 22.

Elena Dementieva, a former world number 4 and currently ranked number 5 in the world, has won four WTA singles titles, and has been a finalist in two Grand Slams. And the other pretty blonde girl who "can't play" is Maria Sharapova, currently ranked number 2 in the world. Sharapova has won nine WTA singles titles, was the 2004 Wimbledon singles champion, and also won the 2004 end-of-season championships.

Please Bud, do us all a favor and shut the hell up.

Elena Dementieva practices before a match at the 2005 Family Circle Cup in Charleston

The May garden--more daylilies

This daylily turned out to be a mistaken shipment by the hypbridizer--name unknown

Passalong daylily--name unknown

Sunday reading

What Do I Know reminds us that--so far--the cost of investigating Whitewater is $70 million greater than the cost of investigating the Downing Street Memo.

arse poetica analyzes the Smithsonian's new film screening, and it's definitely one thumb down.

And still on the subject of evolution v. intelligent design, Jane Crow Journal presents a thoughtful analysis of the topic.

Ripple of Hope discovers that the most sickenly righteous Simon Leis is just another plagiarist.

ms. musings finds an essay in The New Republic that I wish I'd written--about the new film trend of having men be attracted to "quirky, free-spirited women" who are actually psychologically disturbed. This subject has bothered me for a while, and I'm glad someone wrote about it.

And finally, The Goddess asks us to please mind our language--we need some new phrases. Amen.

And you thought nothing was being done about outsourcing

Indian call center workers are being driven from their jobs because of verbal abuse from British and American customers. The insults are sometimes sexual and often racial, as in "You're a Paki, I don't want to talk to you," and "You're from India, you don't know anything."

The only good thing to come of this situation is that the stress is so bad, many Indians, heretofore forbidden by tradition from seeking help, are now in seeing psychotherapists.

Oops, pardon me...I thought I was raping my girlfriend

Yesterday, a court-martial was under way for an Air Force Academy cadet accused of raping a female cadet after a heavy night of drinking in Mexico. The accused, Benjamin Kuster, the alleged victim, and the accused's girlfriend were all sleeping on the floor. Kuster's defense? He mistook the alleged victim for his girlfriend.

In the meantime, an arrest warrant has been issued for Jennifer Bier, the rape counselor who counseled an alleged rape victim at the Academy. Bier is refusing to turn over her records of the counseling sessions.

A 2003 Air Force Academy scandal revealed that dozens of women were either ignored or penalized when they reported sexual assault and rape to Academy officials.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Put down that Guinness and try a Sanctifex No. 3 Red

Such is the shortage of Roman Catholic priests in the U.K. that the Catholic Church has decided to run recruitment ads on beer mats in pubs and on posters on the London Underground.

Picture some poor guy whose girlfriend (or otherwise) has just left him. He's sitting at the bar, nibbling on his crisps, and as he quaff his fourth pint, he looks at the beer mat at sees a way out of his misery. Or maybe he's playing his weekly game of darts, looks down, and realizes he doesn't have to be tossing darts, drinking with his mates, and having a rollicking good time--he could be a priest!

Perhaps I'm missing something, but it appears to me that the term "market research" may have escaped the Brit Catholics. Of course, if they ordained women and let priests marry, they probably wouldn't have to compete with Pimm's and Newcastle. As it is, I don't think I'm going out on a limb to say that Pimm's and Newcastle will get a hell of a lot more takers.

If you want to feel good for at least a moment...

Think about how painful it must be for guys like Frist, Lott, Chambliss, McConnell, Cornyn, Hatch, and Bush to spend so many of their waking hours promoting, praising, idealizing, getting all gushy over, and defending two female authority figures, one of them African American.

You can call it anything, but it's still bigotry

Delegar smacks down Colorado Governor Bill Owens.

French Open: A brief summary of the Mauresmo-Ivanovic match

Amelie, Amelie,
such an anomaly--
what a remarkable shame.
With the slice of a Laver
and the crowd in your favor,
you choke in the very last game.

The May garden

Fragrant jasmine spreads to the edge of the deck

Salvia will bloom throughout the summer

Friday, May 27, 2005

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception

The award-winning drama students of El Camino Real High School in Los Angeles need to raise some money, so they decided to perform the satirical play, "The Complete History of America (Abridged)." The original script jacket depicts George Washington with a Groucho Marx mustache and cigar, so the students' poster design showed George W. Bush with a Groucho Marx mustache and cigar.

Enter the form of ignorance that irks me to no end: frame-of-reference deficiency. One student--count 'em!--complained about the poster. In addition to objecting to the makeover of the president, he also complained that the poster made Bush look like an Israeli (Bush should be so lucky). The result? You've already guessed it: The posters are gone.

Aside from the obvious fact that at an institution of learning it would have been more instructive to explain irony and continuity to the offended student, there is another issue at play here: How many times, in the past several months, have we been told over and over by Bush supporters that the Constitution absolutely is not intended to protect the minority?

Have you ever noticed that the really horrible news stories are leaked on Friday evening?

Like this one.

This post made my day

Via Trish Wilson and feministe, I found a most wonderful narrative that made me happy.

Things like this make me cringe

In a medical story today, New York Times reporter Jennifer Bayot refers to Viagra and similar pharmaceuticals as "impotence drugs." I don't expect much of the public at large, but I would think that the Times would know by now that we don't call it "impotence" anymore, and with good reason. To say that a man is impotent is to imply that the total person is ineffectual. It is a terrible term for that reason, and so we have referred to the condition as "erectile dysfunction" for some time now.

Of course, I constantly hear all kinds of people, including people in the news media, say "stewardess" instead of "flight attendant." Not only does the catch-all term "stewardess" exclude the many men who perform the job, but a few decades ago, flight attendants protested the word and ask that we not use it. They found it objectionable because it implied that theie only duty was to serve food and beverage, when they really do a lot more.

Is this so-called political correctness? No, it's good old-fashioned correctness. And if you want to call it political correctness, fine. But whatever you call it, it's the reason we no longer say "crippled" and "colored people" and "harelip." We don't say those things anymore because they were offensive. And as slow as social evolution is, it cannot advance at all if the language doesn't go with it.

Pat Mitchell has a bad memory, but I don't

I just saw Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of PBS, on C-Span, declaring that PBS has always stood fast against pressure for it to change its content and programming.

Not quite, Pat. Though, to this day, PBS denies it, it is common and obvious knowledge that PBS folded like a tiki bar umbrella when right-wing religious nuts protested its airing of the first Tales of the City installment. The producers of the adaptation of Armistead Maupin's hilarious books got the message and produced the rest of the series in Canada.

The May garden

Mophead hydrangea m. 'Nikko Blue'

Kaemphera rotunda ginger leaves shoot up, replacing the beautiful, violet-like flowers that seemed to lay on the ground

Are the Williams sisters yesterday's news? I hope not

Today, in the third round of the French Open, Venus was defeated 6-3,1-6, 6-1 by Sesil Karatantcheva, the 15-year-old who won last year's French Open junior championship. Karantantcheva got back an amazing number of balls, and--despite the rather lopsided score--dominated Venus for most of the match. As always, the Venus forehand was shaky (except in the second set), and Venus made continual unforced errors.

Some of us thought that when Venus defeated Serena for the first time in three and a half years at this year's Nasdaq-100 in Miami, things would turn around for her. Granted, clay is not Venus's best surface, but in the past, she hasn't exactly been poor on it, either. Only last year, she won the green clay Family Circle Cup in Charleston, but she was knocked out in the round of 16 this year by rising star Tatiana Golovin. A week ago, she won the Istambul Cup, which is played on red clay.

Serena withdrew from this year's French Open because of an ankle injury. And "injury" has been the key word in the Williams sisters' tennis career for the past couple of years. They have both suffered multiple injuries, and Serena was not able to play for eight months. They have also gone through the murder of their half-sister, and two subsequent mistrials of the suspect. The toughest person cannot function at her optimal level when she is battling a beaten up body and major bereavement.

So I cut Venus and Serena some slack; they have been through a terrible time.

There is another side to the coin, however: Serena, in particular, is concentrating on a lot more than just tennis. She is a key Hollywood figure, and likes to make the club scene a lot. She also has her own clothing design company, Aneres, and she has publicly stated that she thinks acting and fashion designing are her main callings. This makes sense, when you consider that even the best athlete's years are always numbered.

Venus, for her part, owns and operates V Starr Interiors, an interior design and decorating company. As far as I can tell, Venus never has "ASID" after her name, and in the company bio, does refer to herself as an interior decorator, but apparently, she has designers working for her. Whether she intends to pursue ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) certification is unknown.

Tennis commentators are fond of saying that Venus and Serena raised the bar with their brand of power tennis, but then other players--especially the younger ones--took the challenge seriously, and now they, too, can play power tennis. Some of us, who prefer more strategic and graceful tennis, are not so thrilled about that, but that is the way it is. Maybe the pendulum will swing one day, maybe it won't.

In the meantime, Venus and Serena are vulnerable. Serena won the 2005 Australian Open, though it wasn't a pretty sight, with perfectionist and part-time head case Lindsay Davenport totally melting down (perhaps literally, so intense was the heat during the tournament) in the third set and practically handing the championship to Serena.

As the players gear up for Wimbledon, all eyes will be on the Williams sisters, who I hope will be injury-free and ready to give fans some tough Williams sisters game.

Friday cat blogging--French Open edition

Ready in front of the television, Velma gets her cheering on!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Why, as a Second Wave feminist, I sometimes have to bang my head against the wall

Today I was talking with some people and the man said he was in a serious relationship and would eventually marry his beloved, but there was no timetable. "At some point, I don't know when, I'll ask her to marry me," he said.

"What if she asks you next week?" I asked him.

He cracked up.

I told him it was a serious question. The other woman in the room said "Yes, what if she does?"

He looked at us as if we had just landed from Mars.

If you're feeling soft toward Voinovich

Get over it. On the Senate floor today, while talking against the nomination of John Bolton, he held up John Negroponte as a "fine example" of an appointee.

I appreciate Sen. Voinovich's being against a probable sex criminal (which, by the way, never gets mentioned), but I can't join him in singing the praises of an unindicted political/war criminal.

Oops, I voted again...

A little news from Miami-Dade

Students requied to read Genesis to prepare for American literature class

In two high schools in Boca, Florida.

I agree that reading Genesis is indeed, as the Florida educators are saying, a good way to develop a frame of reference for reading other literature. So is reading Roman, Greek, and Norse mythology. The problem is that the book of Genesis isn't on a list of required summer reading for the students involved: It is the only required summer reading.

Charges dropped against Marine lieutenant accused of killing two Iraqis

After studying an investigative report, Maj. Gen. Richard Huck has dropped the charges against 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano. Prosecutors had argued that Pantano intended to make an example of the men by shooting them sixty times and hanging a sign over their bodies: No better friend, no worse enemy, a Marine slogan.

Indiana judge tells parents they cannot teach their child about their religion

In a startling move, even for these times and even for Indiana, a judge in Indianapolis has ruled that a man and his former wife cannot expose their child to the couple's Wiccan faith. Thomas E. Jones and Tammy U. Bristol must not expose their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals," according to their divorce decree. The judge, Cale J. Bradford, an idiot of the type that boggles the mind, did not define "mainstream religion."

The child, a nine-year-old boy, attends a Catholic school, and the judge stated that the divergent belief systems in his life would confuse him.

Does this mean that the courts in Indiana will now demand that mixed faith marriages cannot exist if there are children involved? Is Islam a mainstream religion? Is Judaism? If the child were attending a Hebrew school, can you imagine the judge telling one of the parents s/he couldn't teach him about Jesus?

Jones has brought the case to the Indiana Court of Appeals with the help of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union.

The May garden

A dragonfly spends some time on top of a bamboo trellis

St. Francis stands alone in the cat cemetary tucked into a wooded area

North Carolina does it again

As though there haven't been enough embarrassing events lately in North Carolina, last night Durham was the scene of three cross-burnings. One was found in front of an Episcopal church, one near an apartment complex construction site, and one at a downtown intersection.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A renewed call to boycott ExxonMobil

Pam's House Blend has the goods--including photos of the eleven board bigots--on ExxonMobil's refusal to include sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination policy. Again.

It's time to update the list of criminals and would-be criminals in the Bush administration

There have been so many criminals, both convicted and otherwise, that Bush has appointed or tried to appoint to top posts that every once in a while, I like to update my list:

George W. Bush--Ersatz President of the United States
He received two dui's (and lied about when he received them).

He failed four times to file share sales declarations to the SEC when Harken Oil hit bottom, and made $1 million during one eight-month lapse. The "investigation" for insider trading was the kind of investigation any insider trader would love to have--no one interviewed anyone on Harken's board. The "investigator" was Bush's Texas Rangers attorney. And Bush's father was President of the United States at the time.

Bush has also never been investigated for his possible role in voter interference and intimidation in Florida in two different presidential campaigns, or his possible role in ballot fraud in both Florida and Ohio.

Though his machinations that led to the invasion of Iraq constitute impeachable actions, no move has been made to impeach him.

Dick Cheney--Alleged Vice President of the United States
He also received two dui's.

His secret oil committee meetings have yet to be invetigated because the court will not allow the investigation. He swore on several occasions that he had severed all ties with Halliburton, but has continued to receive stock options, as well as his deferred compensation.

Thomas White--Former Secretary of the Army
White was accused of lying under oath to a Senate committee.

He sold $3 million worth of Enron stock right before Enron went under, hardly a coincidence.

John Poindexter--Former Information Awareness Office Director
He was charged with and found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and destruction of evidence in the Iran-Contra affair. His conviction was later overturned, but it is generally accepted that Poindexter committed the crimes. At the very least, he was the co-creator of the illegal Iran-Contra operation.

Thomas Griffith--Nominee for the Federal Appeals Court of Washington
Griffith practiced law without a license for four years.

Cristina Beato--Nominee for Assistant Secretary of Health for DHHS
Beato lied compulsively on her resume.

John Negreponte--National Intelligence Director and Former Ambassador to the United Nations and to Iraq
Negreponte has been repeatedly accused of covering up both the human rights abuses and the drug trafficking of the Honduran military during the 80's.

Elliott Abrams--National Security Committee Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations
Abrams plead guilty to withholding evidence regarding the Iran-Contra scandal from Congress. He was pardoned by George H.W. Bush

Otto Reich--Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere
He was never charged with a crime, but was accused of conducting prohibited covert propaganda activities. He also used his influence to try to get a U.S. visa for convicted terrorist Orlando Bosch.

David Hager--Member, FDA Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs
Hager has been accused by his former wife of raping her over a period of several years. These events she said, all involved sodomy, and occurred while she was in a narcoleptic state.

John Bolton--Undersecretary of State and Nominee to be Ambassador to the United Nations
Bolton has been accused by his former wife of forcing her to participate in group sex.

Priscilla Owen--Judge, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
As a member of the Texas Supreme Court, Owen and her peers on the bench received large amounts of cash from both Enron and Halliburton. Almost all of the cases for these two companies resulted in favorable verdicts for them. At no time did Owen seek to recuse herself from the relevant cases.

But it's not about the oil

Of all of the oils, just Wesson
doesn't yet have the White House's blessin'.
But in time they'll snag the
big bucks from ConAgra.
Is our children learning this lesson?

Quote of the week

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
George W. Bush

Sex criminal and potential murderer gets probation

Remember the dentist in North Carolina who squirted semen into the mouths of his female patients? He was found sort of guilty and sentenced to five years probation.

The judge chose probation over a 120-day prison sentence. Why didn't he just make former Dr. Hall write "I will not play pranks on girls" a hundred times?

The sentence is so light because the state charged Hall with misdemeanor assault. Putting aside for a moment that what he did, in and of itself, was sadistic and pathological, he could easily have infected the women with any number of STD's, including AIDS.

Anyone who thinks there isn't a war being waged against women has, as Joe Biden stated so colorfully today, his head in a rain barrel.

The May garden

Society garlic blooms in the miniature rose bed

Gardenia--you will have to imagine the fragrance

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Take the DED Space liberal consciousness quiz!

This is not intended to be a promotion of Hillary Clinton, about whom I have mixed feelings; it is more a revelation of so-called liberal thinking.

In my visits to liberal message boards and such, I repeatedly hear that Sen. Clinton would be a poor choice for presidential nominee because she is "ambitious" and "polarizing."

Franklin D. Roosevelt was quite a polarizing figure when he ran for president as a physically disabled man. He then became even more polarizing because of his outrageous partisanism. He was elected four times to the office.

John F. Kennedy was frighteningly ambitious to the point of being dysfunctionally driven, and his Catholicism made him a very polarizing figure in the late 50's and early 60's, but he was elected and is considered an icon by many people.

His brother, Ted Kennedy, became beyond polarizing when he drove a car off a bridge in the middle of the night in the company of a woman who wasn't his wife, and she died, and he "didn't remember" the incident. He, too, was re-elected many times, and is an icon in the Democratic Party.

Few could be considered as ambitious as Bill Clinton, and though he was impeached, he is considered one of the most important living Democrats. Many Democrats say they would gladly vote for him if he were to run again.

And now for the quiz:

FDR, JFK, Ted Kennedy, and Bill Clinton: What do these four have in common?

Tick-tock, tick-tock...

Ding! ding! ding! You answered correctly!

Doesn't it make you kind of sick?

I'm so shocked--Orrin Hatch just lied

He referred to the term "nuclear option" as what the Democrats call the rule-change option. The term was coined by former House Majority Leader Trent Lott, and Hatch knows it.

North Carolina may win after all

In the race to determine which state is the most ignorant and repressive, North Carolina has been gaining, and is now one step closer to victory. That's showing them, North Carolina!

Unlike cat-killer Frist, Santorum is actually working on something progressive

It is always a bit uncomfortable to find someone against whom you are actively working doing something for your side, but such is the case from time to time.

Senator Rick Santorum
of Pennsylvania, however much we do not like him, is doing something a lot of non-Republican senators are not doing: working for animal welfare. Santorum is a leader in seeking funding to enforce animal protection laws, such as the Animal Welfare Act and the Humane Slaughter Act. He has also worked to ban dogfighting and cockfighting and to crack down on puppy mills.

What is interesting about animal welfare work is that it is not a Democratic Party issue. An equal number of Democrats and Republicans work on behalf of animals. Just not enough of them.

I have to give Santorum credit where credit is due. Though known among liberals for his concern that animals not have sex with humans once we permit gay marriage, he has also worked hard for real animal welfare.

Why Americans are on so many mood-altering pharmaceuticals

This is a converation I had this morning with a staff member of the Post Office:


"We didn't get any mail yesterday at _________."

"What did they tell you when you called it in?"

"I'm calling it in now."

"You didn't call yesterday?"

"The Post Office was closed by the time we got home."


"I just thought I should let you know."

"What is the name?"

"____. And ________."


"There are two names."

"Two names?"

"Two names."

"What are they?"

"____ and ________ (I spell them)."

"And what did the Post Office person you talked to tell you?"

"I didn't talk with anyone."

" Do you have mail today?"

"The flag is still up."

"And when you called and made the report, what was said to you?"

"I didn't call. I told you that."

"Maybe you just didn't get any mail."

"We always get mail."

"People sometimes don't get mail."

"Not us."

"Well, there's nothing here for you. If it happens again, be sure to call me."

I pledge not to let my daughter think

The large horrors all around us affect us deeply in our waking and sleeping moments. But it is the little horrors close to home that make us feel sick.

A few days ago, I learned that a Girl Scout troop in my city was disbanded because of the Cult of Bush. Several mothers of Scouts learned that the troop leader was a Kerry supporter and they pulled their daughters out of the troop. Eventually, the troop dissolved.

The troop leader said she heard that the mothers were afraid her daughter would tell the other girls that Kerry would make a good president, or that women don't have to stay in the home.

This boggles my mind. I live in a very conservative community, but I have to be constantly reminded that it has become this conservative. People around here used to put being hospitable before anything, but that has changed.

Senate roll call sexism in the 21st Century

I have brought this subject up before, but not for a long time. I have trouble watching Senate procedures on C-Span because of the roll call sexism. The women are referred to as "Mrs. Clinton" and "Mrs. Boxer," rather than "Ms. Clinton" and "Ms. Boxer." It has now been several decades since we stopped discriminating against women in the area of honorifics, but apparently, no one has told the U.S. Senate.

To make matters even worse, the honorific "Ms." is used for an unmarried senator or a senator who uses her family name instead of her husband's name, e.a. "Ms. Landrieu." Which puts us, more or less, back where we used to be before the 70's. Why, oh, why do the female Senate Democrats (and the female Senate Republicans who claim to be feminists) allow this to go on?

I know the standard "liberal" response to my complaint: "The country is in an illegal war, the Constitution is threatened, the economy is sinking. We have much bigger fish to fry."

Depends on how you look at fish. I believe that language will always be the biggest fish in our culture, or in anyone's culture. What does it say to us when the premiere law-making body of the nation insists on announcing the marital status of its female members when no other major institution does? And what does it say that the women don't seem to care?

The May garden--hydrangeas

Lacecap hydrangea M. 'Blue Wave'

Lacecap hydrangea M. 'Lady in Red'

Monday, May 23, 2005

More compassionate conservatism

Check out Tennessee Guerilla Women for the ultimate hyprocrisy of the lying, cat-killing doctor.

Here we go again

Not content that Bill Maher's ABC show was cancelled, Congressman Spencer Bachus from Alabama is now going after Maher's HBO program, "Real Time." Declaring that one of the comedian's remarks "borders on treason," Bachus has called for the end of "Real Time," also. The comment that has Bachus upset was something Maher said with regard to the Army's recruiting problems: "More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club. We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies."

New Rules: The humorless, ignorant, irrational, phony, warmongering, low-lying Congressional fruit needs to climb into an appropriate rat hole and stay there.

I wish I could say I was making this up

But in places like Texas, things like this just happen.

My favorite line is the excuse for what happened: "...the caption apparently was intended as a placeholder until the yearbook staff could identify the student." It's so hard to identify those black folks, you know, what with their all looking alike.

A list of the special rights of homosexuals

The right to save yourself a lot of money and stress because you cannot seek political office

The right to sleep in on Sunday because the churches do not want you

The right to spend a lot more of your money because the government won't let you adopt children

The right to enjoy your post-divorce free time because they government won't let you keep your children

The right to have more leisure time because the Scouts and ball teams don't want you near their members

The right to develop highly proficient duplicity skills, since revealing who you are may cost you your job, your social standing, and your family

The right to leave a room where there are children so that other people won't have to keep an eye on you all the time

The right to milk a lot of sympathy because members of the opposite gender say your sexual orientation is "such a waste"

The right, if you are a man, to bask in the knowledge that you seriously threaten a major portion of the male population

The right to gloat because so many straight people are convinced you desire them

The right to leave a party whenever you wish because you couldn't bring your partner or date in the first place

The right to stay home and watch television while your partner is in intensive care, since the hospital staff won't allow you in the room

The right to throw deadly kicks and punches because there is a good chance you will need to do so to keep your bones intact and save your life

The May garden

This sign is in our garden

And the bluebirds appreciate it

Sunday, May 22, 2005

U.S. military on fast track: Assault women before they are even recruited

Here's a twist on the recent outrageous tactics of Army recruiters: Staff Sgt. George O. Kirkman has been arrested for allegedly raping a potential recruit.

And in Indiana, National Guard Sgt. Eric P. Vetesy was accused of sexually assaulting a half dozen female recruits and raping at least one of them. According to reports, Vetesy recruited girls out of high school, then culled their reports to determine which were the most vulnerable.

There have been similar cases filed in Maryland, California, and New York, and during the 90's, there was a major case in Seattle. If such behavior were unusual, then we could simply rely on the military to put a stop to it. But given the military's total failure to stop the sexual assault and rape of female soldiers in service, there is no reason to thing that recruits will be protected.

"I have come to realize what I did was wrong"

Thus spoke Spc. Brian E. Cammack, who was sentenced to three months in prison over the beating death of a prisoner in Afghanistan. Cammack plead guilty to charges of assault and two counts of making a false statement. In accepting a plea bargain, prosecutors decided not to pursue a charge of maltreatment (I guess manslaughter wasn't on the list of possibilities).

The prisoner whom Cammack struck died of a pulmonary embolism caused by being struck in the thigh by Cammack's knee. This form of assault is not supposed to be used unless a guard believes his life is in danger, but according to the soldiers who testified, it was regularly used with the knowledge of officers.

Howard Dean should get some type of award

For restraint. I'm not sure how he sat in that "interview" with news show shock jock Tim Russert this morning and resisted what must have been a strong urge to punch him out. Bush couldn't have a better spokesperson than the smarmy Russert.

I could have used Dr. Dean. I had a strong urge to vomit.

We are now up to 9 arrests in the Louisiana church horror

Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the wife of one of the accused child rapists, bring the total number of suspects to nine in the Louisiana church child rape and animal abuse case. The Tangipahoa Sheriff now says that the church group practiced devil worship and used cat blood in its rituals.

Stay tuned.

On the eve of the French Open, some thoughts on Chris Evert

When you are a diehard fan of women's tennis the way I am, you have many favorites. But my absolute favorite of all time is the great Chris Evert, who won the French Open seven times. In 1976, 1977, and 1978, when she was world number one and undefeated on clay, she did not play at Roland Garros, but if she had, one imagines her French Open wins would have totalled nine or ten.

Though American-born, Evert's baseline game was made for the slow red clay of Europe, and her performance on clay was the envy of every Spanish, Italian, and French player. She won a record 125 consecutive matches on clay, spanning a near six-year period between August, 1973 and May, 1979. That is the record, among men and women, for consecutive matches won on any surface.

And as great as Evert was on clay, she was also an enormous threat on other surfaces. Her .900 winning average is the best in tennis history, among both men and women. She won at least one of the four Grand Slam tournaments each year for thirteen consecutive years, an Open-era record. Evert won the Australian Open twice, Wimbledon three times, and the U.S. Open six times, and she won a total of five Grand Slam doubles titles.

Chris Evert is also famous for creating the now ubiquitous two-handed backhand. She was known as the Ice Maiden or the Ice Queen because she never showed her emotions on court, a tactic her father taught her when she was a little girl practicing in Florida. I also remember hearing her called Prissy Chrissy, for her ponytail-and-bow style sometimes contrasted with the on-court looks of other players.

Unfortunately, it seemed to me that players grabbed onto Evert's all-American girl look as a way to defend against suspicions of there being--oh, my!--lesbians on the tour. Monica Seles once said of her, “Chris brought a lot of femininity to the game with her hair in ribbons and her clothing." And Steffi Graf, in an especially offensive piece of flattery, said “Chris was the player who brought femininity to the game. A real lady who was always fair.” As though "femininity" has anything to do with professional athletics.

I like to think that both players regret having said those things, but they may still be clueless, for all I know. Evert played during a time when there was even more sexism in tennis than there is now, and she was always either being "complimented" for being feminine, or disparaged for not being "friendly." No one summed up Evert better than Rosie Casals, who said "Chrissie was funny off the court, but not so funny on the court."

Evert had a mental toughness that was the envy of everyone on the tour. Trapping her opponents on the baseline with shots of amazing depth and accuracy, Evert would then bring out her clay-court skills, and lob or drop for a point. So cleanly did Evert paint the lines, she was able to hit successful passing shots without even bringing her opponents to the net first.

Chris Evert is also half of one of the greatest sports rivalries in history. She and Martina Navratilova met a total of eighty times, with an almost even split of wins. They have also maintained one of the greatest sports friendships of all time.

Evert and the great Navratilova played with wooden racquets, which means that everything they did was much harder to do than with today's racquets. Evert won most of her early matches with Navratilova, but as Navratilova brought her new brand of power tennis to the game, she bgan to dominate the rivalry. Her serve-and-volley style would hardly be considered a power game today, however, when players like the Williams sisters, Lindsay Davenport, and Maria Sharapova all whack the ball repeatedly at high speeds.

A few years ago, a commentator asked Navratilova if, in her prime, she could have beaten the Williams sisters. Navratilova's response was "With a wooden racquet, I'd beat them today."

Many of us (and I'm in good company here; both Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe have called for the return of the wooden raquet) believe the demise of the wooden racquet was one of the worst things to happen to professional tennis, bringing an end to tactical tennis (with the exception of some clay court players, such as Patty Schnyder, and, of course, the wonderful Martina Hingis, and she is gone, too). I miss the Chris and Martina matches--the style, the mental competition, the strategy.

I miss Chris Evert.

Do the Democrats take the stupid pill every day or is there a one-time-a-week version?

I peeked at a message board this morning and saw a post about the nurclear option business that is so on-target. The poster said that the Democrats need to stop talking about the filibuster and talk about the crimes the judicial nominees have committed against the Constitution (my words, not the poster's). No kidding. And especially Priscilla Owen. Because there are Americans who are comfortable with doing away with California's anti-discrimination statute and the Violence Against Women Act, but who could possibly be against going after the Enron thieves and their cohorts?

The May garden

Antique canna 'Louis Cayeux'

Passalong daylily

Saturday, May 21, 2005

I'm reading my poems on an NPR program

I am reading two of my poems on "Theme and Variations," and I forgot to mention it in the blog. The show, which is distributed by NPR, was released by satellite yesterday and can be heard on various stations at different times. Here is a list of the stations. You can also hear it on Internet radio via Yellowstone Radio tomorrow, Sunday, May 22, at 11:00 a.m. MST.

I am reading "My Mother Sews Hats" and a sestina, "Visiting Your Remains." The radio show will be the premier presentation of both poems.

My favorite find today

Louisiana church members who rape children and pets update

8 arrests, as of today.

Priscilla "I'll do anything for Enron" Owen rated by peers

The Houston Bar Assocation poll evaluations came out today, and the chart speaks for itself. (The url does not change as you click through, so click on Supreme Court of Texas.)
Republicans, why are you just sitting there?

Attorney says if you let Shakespeare in, you have to let God in

The parents of a New Jersey second grader are suing the girl's school because they would not permit her to sing a religious song at her school talent show. She wanted to sing "Awesome God." A judge refused to compel the school to let her sing the song but is letting the lawsuit go forward. The attorney for the parents said that since a scene from "MacBeth" (witches, you know) was being done at the talent show, it should be okay for a song about God to be sung.

The song promotes sexism, Christianity, and creationism.

The May garden--daylilies

H. Byran Paul

H. Joan Senior

Friday, May 20, 2005

Friday not-so-random motherlode

I had a sudden urge to peruse my Berlin caberet songs (I have an album of them by the sublime Ute Lemper), and I hit upon "Munchhausen," by Friedrich Hollaender, first performed in 1931, sixteen months before Hitler was appointed chancellor. Since the lyrics are not copyright-bound, I'll put them (translated into English by Jeremy Lawrence) here:

I came across a wond'rous tree
and prickly as a porcupine
This cactus tree bore luscious fruit
and giant roses red as wine
It rose so high into the sky
its top was far, far out of sight
the leaves recoiled from the day
and then they turned to gold at night
And if you bored into its bark
hot coffee poured out rich and dark
Liar liar liar liar liar liar
I'm sick and tired of lies from you
but how I wish your lies were true
Liar liar liar liar liar liar
truth is hard and tough as nails
that's why we need fairly tales
I'm all through with logical conclusions
why should I deny myself illusions?

I saw a film the other day
that really varied from the norm
There were no soldiers on parade
and no one marched in uniform
its heroes were not supermen
and no one even shot a gun
The audience still loved the film
though not a single war was won
But I was really shocked to see
this film was made in Germany
Liar liar liar liar liar liar...

I saw a court of law where all
the justices were just again
Where all the lawyers worked for free
and all of them were honest men
You could be rich you could be poor
you could be Christian or a Jew
Your politics did not have sway
on how a judge would rule on you
Their hearts were young, their minds were free
they judged all men equally

I saw a woman trying hard
to feed her family of ten
She was poor and destitute
and worse was pregnant once again
She knew what they would say in church
she sought a doctor out instead
who told her if she had the child
that she herself might well end dead
Then in a calm and gentle voice
he said the law says its your choice
Liar liar liar liar liar liar...

I saw a brave republic where
one banner flew for all to see
Its stripes of black and red and gold
proclaim a new democracy
All banners from the past were banned
the empire's black and white and red
Yes now the black and red and gold
is flying everywhere instead
And nowhere will you see those flags
which sport that thing that zigs and zags
Liar liar liar liar liar liar...

I saw a land that hated war
and melted all its weapons down
to build a boat of love for kids
who planned to sail from town to town
declaring peace for all the world
Let killing now come to an end
embrace your enemies instead
your former foe is now your friend
Ev'ry conflict now will cease
and all of us will live in peace
Liar liar liar liar liar liar...

Quote of the week

"I am opposed to using taxpayer money to destroy life rather than save it"
George W. Bush

Maryland governor vetoes gay-friendly bill

Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has vetoed a bill that would grant unmarried couples certain rights if they register with the state.

Meanwhile, Britney Spears, whom Ehrlich's wife has a desire to kill, is married and breeding, but is better off staying out of Maryland. According to Ms. Ehrlich, Spears had better hope for a boy because they don't need any guidance about sexual activity.

The May garden

Antique canna 'Madame Angele Martin'

Torenia blooms where miniature peach daylilies used to be. The daylilies are sick and have been dug up and placed in a "plant hospital"

Oprah shows her ass again

For months, people have been upset with Oprah Winfrey for having models wearing furs on her show. Apparently, she didn't hear a damned thing anyone said. One of her favorite guests, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Columbia University's vice chairman and professor of cardiac surgery, is at the center of the complaint filed against Columbia with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Oz's lab is a place of terror for the dogs that are imprisoned there.

When a lab dog gave birth, lab officials ordered all the puppies killed. The fully conscious puppies were injected directly in their hearts, a practice condemned by the American Veterinary Association (and anyone with a shred of decency), an organization not exactly famous for its animal rights stands. Witnesses heard the puppies' screams through the closed door.

Oz has allowed extremely sick dogs to suffer for weeks before they died or were killed. When veterinarian Dr. Catherine Dell'Orto alerted PETA about the terrible conditions at the lab, her complaints were ignored by both university and government officials. Dr. Dell'Orto then resigned her position at Columbia, after being told that there was no point in confronting a celebrity doctor.

Oprah isn't the only guilty party. Oz also appears on the Discovery Health Channel.

Here is Oprah Winfrey's email address: Oprah.com@oprah.com

You may contact the Discovery Health Channel here.

Here is information for contacting the Inspector General of the USDA, to get the Columbia investigation re-opened.

Male homophobia=misogyny

It has always seemed to me that there are a lot more homophobic men than women. Women who hate gays tend to be those who were told to do so by their churches, but with men, fear of male homosexuality cuts a much longer and wider path.

And this brings me to a subject I don't think gets enough discussion: Men who freak out over men being together in a romantic/sexual relationship freak out because for them, it all comes down to their own fear of being someone's butt-boy. Which would be really humiliating and would turn a man into something truly loathesome--a woman.

The fear of being made "a woman" by another man will send an otherwise shallow and apathetic man into a letter-writing, Focus on the Family-contributing, Republican-voting lunatic. Show me a man who hates gay males and I'll show you a man who despises women.

For those of you keeping tabs on the Louisiana church child-rape animal-abuse story...

As of today, a total of seven people have been arrested, including the pastor's wife.

Friday cat blogging--celebrity edition

Roxie and Velma have gone and gotten themselves featured in a national magazine. The picture below (known around our house as "Huggy Sisters") is in the current issue of Best Friends Magazine, the official publication of the Best Friends Animal Society. Best Friends is a major sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals, and also works with humane groups and communities across the United States to help assure No More Homeless Pets.

The magazine can be purchased at your local newsstand, through subscription, or it can be downloaded free in PDF form.

As for the sisters, there's no living with them now. They have cell phones and an attorney, and they're looking for an agent.

Velma and Roxie make their national media breakthrough

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Here's someone who won't go to jail

But he sure ought to. There is a man who has lived next to the Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula for fifteen years. During the last few years, he has heard the pastor's wife screaming, and was able to identify one scream as "I'm going to whip the sin right out of this guy." He also found maimed animals outside the church.

He never reported any of it to anyone. Granted, reporting crime in Tangipahoa Parish is an iffy thing, especially if it involves the abuse of anyone other than a law enforcement officer's brother-in-law. But he didn't even try.

I knew it was only a matter of time before the witnesses would come forward, with no shame, as they always do.

"I'm not a feminist but"--oh, please, make it stop

Today I was reading a blog and I saw a post that made a reference to some women who are, according to the author, feminists, at least insofar as they "believe in social and professional equality for women."

Uh, so what part of feminism don't they believe in?

Oh, wait, I know! The forced lesbianism and the secret shoes...

They sure did blow off a lot of steam

So now it comes out that a U.S. Army captain staged a mock execution in Iraq in 2003. He kicked a detainee, held a gun to a detainee's head, pretended to hire a man to do welding, then led him to believe he was digging his own grave while soldiers fired shots. There's a lot more, too.

Update on Christians having sex with dogs, cats, and children story

There has been another arrest in this case. The latest alleged perpetrator, as well as the sheriff's deputy who was also arrested, have--at one time or another--given the church compound as their home address. Why go home when you can have such a wonderful church experience?

More arrests are expected.

FBI determines that leftist anarchists more dangerous than right-wing anarchists

The FBI has determined that so-called eco-terrorists and animal rights anarchists are more dangerous than right-wing militia groups and militant anti-choice groups. Though I speak as a person who is opposed to violence of any kind, I do find it more than interesting that the Animal Liberation Front, the Earth Liberation Front, and Stop Huntington Labs--groups that are violent against the material structures of corporations-- are feared more than people who murder doctors and kill children in daycare centers.

Why don't we talk about internalized sexism anymore?

Yesterday, I had a fairly typical encounter with a Gen X woman. She told me she was going to a naked sushi party. When I didn't respond with enthusiasm, she asked why, and I under-stated and said "That's kind of sexist." "Oh, it is sexist," she said, "but that doesn't bother me."

The circumstancnes didn't permit me to say anthing else, so I didn't. But I find this type of situation very common. And I know the arguments in favor of it: "The woman has a right to do what she likes with her own body." "We have bigger fish (so to speak) to fry." "Talking about something this trivial undermines our important work as feminists."

No, no, no. There is no more important feminist work than taking back our bodies to be our own, and not objects to be used as plates by leering sushi customers. Yes, the women who serve as naked human plates do so of their own free will, and that is called internalized sexism.

If an African American man said he liked wearing the uniform, running the elevator, and tipping his hat at the white men in business suits, the black community would discuss internalized racism. If a lesbian says her relationships are doomed because homosexuals cannot have stable relationships, the gay community would discuss internalized homophobia. But where are the women discussing internalized sexism?

Third Wave, here's a suggestion for you: Maybe it's time to rev up the old consciousness-raising groups again. Past time.

Gaddafi's lobbyist advising Energy Department

The name Randa Fahmy Hudome is not exactly a household word, but it belongs to a woman who has an interesting relationship with the United States. She is a lobbyist for Muammar Gaddafi, and she sits on the Energy Department's top advisory board.

Libya, of course, is classified as a sponsor of terrorism, but since Bush rolled back sanctions on Libya, anything goes.

Libya and Saudi Arabia: They hate us for our freedom; we love them for their oil.

"This president has presided over one of the most ethical administrations in history..."

That would be White House robot Trent Duffy describing George W. Bush.

But wait...it gets better. Duffy said this is in defense of the White House's editing of what was supposed to be a non-partisan analysis of social security. Derrick A. Max may be the director of two groups that are working to overhaul social security, but he is definitely lacking in computer skills. He emailed his testimony to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, complete with the edits made by the White House. Max say that after fifteen years of Microsoft Windows use, he still doesn't know how to turn off "track changes."

Max claims that the edits were technical and grammatical, but some Democrats doubt the veracity of this assertion.

Porn star and porn-maker Republican advisors get down with Rove

Porn star Mary Carey and her boss, Kick Ass Pictures president Mark Kulkis, are attending a dinner with George W. Bush on June 14. Presumably, they will all wave their flags. The National Republican Congressional Committee invited Kulkis.

Carey, who ran for governor against real-life porn creator Arnold Schwarzenegger, will join Kulkis in a meeting with Karl Rove, at which they will give "their recommendations on important national issues."

Kulkis serves as an honorary chairman of the NRCC's Business Advisory Council. Because you can't have too many family values.

Catholics allow boy on stage and ban girl

A pregnant high school senior at a Catholic high school in Montgomery, Alabama was told she could not walk across the stage to receive her diploma at graduation on Tuesday. The father of her child, also a senior, was allowed to do so.

Alysha Cosby walked across the stage, anyway. When all the other names had been called, she called her own name and made the walk, to the applause of her peers. Her mother and aunt were then "led" out by police.

The May garden

The leaves of the walking iris bend to the ground, where they form new plants

Here is the flower

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I don't know how I missed this

It happened a week ago, and thanks to The Wall of Separation for giving me the news. Captain Melinda Morton, one of the people who spoke out against evangelical Christian bias at the United States Air Force Academy, has been fired by the academy's head chaplain. Morton says that her boss, Colonel Michael Whittington, pressured her to deny the details of what occurred at a religious service held during cadet training.

Here's a peek at the academy's character mission statement, which is all about integrity. Whittington is both a clergyman and a military authority figure, so it doesn't count when he tells someone to lie. Got it.

Give me some of that child flesh and a big dog, and thank you, Jesus

Tangipahoa Parish, in south Louisiana, is known for its delicious strawberries, its right-wing politics, and its unwillingness to obey the law. Recently, it was discovered that Tangipahoa strawberry farmers in Amite and Ponchatoula--some of whom are law enforcement officers--routinely kill the federally protected cedar waxwing.

The citizens of Loranger and Amite have also repeatedly violated a court order that forbids them from publicly praying in school. So flagrantly have the schools disobeyed the court order that the ACLU has asked federal judge Ginger Berrigan--who has been more than patient with the Tangipahoa Christians--to put a few of them in jail. One teacher reportedly compelled a student to recite a prayer, and this same teacher attempted to run out a student teacher who objected to the compulsory praying.

Well, it turns out, certainly not to my surprise, that some of the Tangipahoa Christians, while they were on their knees, made the most of the opportunity. The former pastor of Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula has been arrested for having sex with children and animals. A church member and a sheriff's deputy have also been arrested, and more arrests are on the way. Children, dogs, and cats were all victims of the abuse.

Law enforcement officers killing protected species, teachers violating federal court orders and stomping on children's Constititional rights, authority figures--including a pastor--raping children and domestic pets. It's easy to understand why these people think they need to pray a lot, but it doesn't seem to be doing a hell of a lot of good.

Be careful before you give that squash casserole to a poor person

The FBI is watching.

And today, the ACLU charged that both the FBI and local police are engaging in intimidation by monitoring law-abiding human rights and other activist groups. The groups targeted by the FBI include: Food Not Bombs, which provides vegetarian meals to the hungry; Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, United for Peace and Justice, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimiation Committee.

The ACLU, after hearing numerous complaints from memberes of activist groups, filed Freedom of Informaton Act requests in six states and the District of Columbia in December of 2004. According to ACLU officials, the FBI is illegally withholding thousands of documents. So far, the agency has produced a whopping twenty documents. In response, the ACLU has filed suit against the FBI.

There is much more detail here.

"I wonder if I could kill him myself...

"Or if I would need to hire somebody."

Thus wondered radio host Glenn Beck about Michael Moore on his radio show yesterday. The program is syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks, which--big surprise--is owned by Clear Channel Communications.

You can listen to Beck here, if you really want to.

Sam Brownback is a lying bastard

There he was on C-Span, showing the Senate a graph on judicial nominees. There was Johnson, with a 95% approval rate, Carter with a 93% approval rate, and W. Bush with a 67% approval rate. He conveniently left out Clinton, who had only a 72% approval rate. How stupid does he think the Senate is? The public is stupid, yes, but that chart was a waste of paper.

The May garden

Little Mermaid, a miniature replica of climbing rose Mermaid. Little Mermaid was not hybridized, but came about naturally several years ago when a fire occurred in a yard where Mermaid was growing.

Climbing rose Seven Sisters. We have three tuteurs (small obelisks) covered with this once-a-year-bloomer. Every April, it puts on a stupendous show. This year, it waited until May to bloom, with very disappointing results.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Why I am a proud member of PETA

A line I hear constantly from liberals is "I'm no fan of PETA, but...." Invariably, the person will go on to talk about how upset she is over some type of animal abuse or neglect. But it seems to be necessary to qualify all such statements with a disclaimer that the speaker certainly isn't endorsing PETA.

Well, I'm here to endorse PETA.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is not the only organization that fights cruelty and neglect. The Humane Society of the United States and the Doris Day Animal League do a wonderful job, also. But it is PETA that makes people uncomfortable. And that is good. In any reform movement, there must be a faction whose existence gets people's attention and makes them uncomfortable. That is how a movement gets media attention, and it is how a movement makes people change the way they look at the world.

People were angry when PETA representatives told school children that the adults in their lives were part of the massive animal suffering brought about by factory farming. But it is the truth.

People got really upset when PETA launched its "Holocaust on Your Plate" campaign. I have the set of posters, and looking at them requires all the courage I can muster. It is not an insult to Jews (or to homosexuals, Gypsies, the disabled, and all of the other 5 million forgotten Holocaust victims). What the factory farming industry does every day to thousands of creatures is obscene and evil. Their suffering is horrific, and American consumers happily support it.

PETA does not break the law, but people like to insist that anarchist acts such as letting lab animals loose or causing property damage are things that PETA does. That simply is not true.

In just the last few months, here are some things that PETA has accomplished:

  • Uncovered cruelty to monkeys at Covance U.S. The lab cruelty included striking, choking, and yelling at the monkeys; hosing cages with monkeys still in them; blaring loud music all day; slamming monkeys into cages right after dosing tubes were forced down their throats; and slamming doors to frighten them. Monkeys were found with rectal prolapses, monkeys were left to die painful deaths without euthanasia, their injuries went untreated, and they mutilated themselves out of chronic boredom.
  • Uncovered--for the second time--massive cruelty to lab animals at the University of North Carolina, who had promised to conform to proper standards, but had done nothing. Because of PETA's follow-up investigation, the NIH has now launched another investigation.
  • Uncovered terrible cruelty to dogs in the cardiac lab of Columbia University.
  • Led the fight against the Australian wool industry and against Benetton, who refuses to boycott Australian wool. Australia still performs the painful and barbaric practice of mulesing sheep, and also sends sheep on "death ships" to the Middle East, where their throats are slit. Only thousands of them collapse and die on the ships because of the temperature, which can get as high as 122 degrees.
  • Offered rewards to find various pet killers.
  • Led the campaign against Iams for its so-called nutritional research, which involves the killing of a number of cats and dogs. So far, Iams has responded by torturing mice, saying they will kill fewer dogs that way.
  • Led the campaign to stop the U.S. Park Service from trapping dogs with steel-jaw traps.
  • Began working with the Army Corps of Engineers to ban the use of steel-jaw traps.
  • Led the campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken, whose chickens are bred and drug so that they cannot walk. They are crammed into massive sheds where they live in their own excrement, then--at a very young age (all factory farm chickens die very young), they are scalded to death in feather-removal tanks.
  • Got passage of an anti-chaining law in Virginia Beach.
  • Obtained significant prison sentences for people who set dogs on fire, beheaded a dog, and starved several animals.
  • Convinced Junonia to go fur-free.

If some of PETA's stands annoy you, my question to you is: Do you agree with every single stand taken by your political party or your church?

Try to imagine the civil rights movement without the Black Panthers. Try to image the gay rights movement with ActUp.

Without PETA, the animal rights movement would not be as far along as it is.

Someone call an ambulance

Just in case it's not too late to get MSNBC's head out of George W. Bush's ass.

Today, on "Connected Coast to Coast," whose producer is bored to death by the most important issues of the day, Monica Crowley interviewed two Princeton students, both Republicans, one in favor of the nuclear option and one opposed to it. During the course of the interview, Crowley offered this alternative in a sentence about choices: "conservative judges or liberal activist judges." The "liberal" media is spitting out the talking points so fast you have to duck so you don't get wet.

Later, Crowley interviewed Eleanor Smeal and someone from Focus on the Family about the David Hager memo which purportedly brought about the exclusion of emergency contraception from over-the-counter sales, even though the drug had been approved by the same advisory panel on which Hager sat. There was a lengthy discussion of the safety of the drug, the myth that its availability would have adolescent girls rushing to get pregnant, and the myth that using the drug is the same as having an abortion.

At no point did Crowley mention the fact that Hager's former wife has accused him of raping her for years while she was a narcoleptic stupor.

The producer of "Connected Coast to Coast" says he wants your emails. Send them, oh please, send them: Connected@MSNBC.com

Don't miss

Ampersand's post, "Rape Culture and the Myth of 'Female Sexual Advantage'" at Alas, a blog.

If you want even a shot at justice, you better make sure you get killed

According to MSNBC, police in are considering filing criminal charges against the goons who punched out a referee and put a coach in the hospital with a head injury.

They're considering it? There are certain violent crimes--against women, children, gays, people of color, and the ones committed on sports fields--that you can pretty much get away with in this culture.

Talking about the lack of criminal investigation of hip hop killings, Chris Rock says if you want to get away with murder, kill the guy, stick a demo tape in his hand, and run.

Really, there aren't that many people left that you can't assault and get a pass.

You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to knock the table over

As far as I'm concerned, the Nelson-Pryor compromise is worse than the enactment of the nuclear option. If the compromise is accepted, horrible judges will be put on the federal bench, and guess who will determine what is an "extreme" case? The majority, of course. The party that understands how to utilize the news media.

If the nuclear option is indeed enacted, the next logical step would be to file a lawsuit, since such a move would be in violation of Senate rules. While the lawsuit is cooking and being thrown out of court by Republican judges and Democratic judges who don't want their heads blown off by God-fearing cretins from Kansas and South Carolina, the Democratic Party--if it only had a brain--could take its business outside and picket the Senate building. You have to fight massive evil with a massive campaign.

The only thing Democrats know how to spin is their wheels.

We may not like sex, but you better have an erection

Of all the Roman Catholic follies I have seen lately, this one takes the cake. But not the wedding cake. A Brazilian paraplegic man was denied the sacrament of marriage in the Catholic Church because his disability had caused erectile dysfunction.

Last night, the Sundance Channel showed Forbidden Wedding, a documentary by Flavia Fontes, a Brazilian filmmaker who lives in New York. The man whose wedding was forbidden wrote to Pope John Paul II but never got a reply.

The May garden--gingers

Curcuma Indora

Yellow flowers appear on Curcuma elata

Read on...

arse poetica shows us that red and blue have nothing to do with following Kyoto goals.

"Artists know what women know." The Heretik presents a beautiful meditation on loneliness.

Pinko Feminist Hellcat tells us what happens when a child is oppositional enough to write an essay about Ellen DeGeneres.

blackfeminism tells us how enlightened Kentucky was in the 80's.

And Amanda finally gets religion!

He was smart in more ways than one

My friend Bob sent me this quotation, and I am pleased to pass it on:

Heroism on command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how passionately I hate them!
Albert Einstein

God wants you to be holy, but deception and lawbreaking don't count

God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin. Then each of you will control your body and live in holiness and honour.
1 Thessalonians, 4, 3-4
This is the inscription found on the Silver Ring which 30,000 adolescents reportedly wear to signify that they will remain virgins until they are married. The ring is distributed by the Silver Ring Thing (which sounds like another item that isn't exactly associated with virginity, doesn't it?), which has received more than $1 million from the Department of Health and Human Services. Under U.S. law, faith-based organizations may receive such grants under the condition that they do not use the money for promoting religion.

In response to a suit filed by the ACLU against DHHS, the Silver Ring Thing program says that it is not promoting a religion.

And all these years, I was under the impression that Thessalonians was a chapter in the Christian bible. What do I know?

But it's not about the oil

Just keep saying "It's not about the oil."

Monday, May 16, 2005

The violence just keeps on coming

Over the weekend, a girls' rugby coach in Rohnert Park, California was severely beaten, and a referee was assaulted--until he was bloody and unconscious--by a group of people which included another coach. The referee ordered a spectator off the field, and was then punched in the face three times. When the coach intervened on his behalf, the crowd of spectator thugs jumped him. He was taken to the hospital with cuts and a head injury.

And still on the subject of lite crime...

Laurie Petrie, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services--according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer--said this of a 14-year-old boy who was beaten by his father, leaving welts and belt marks on his skin: "...we would be looking at that as possible abuse."

Possible abuse? I'd love to know what Petrie considers clear-cut abuse.

The father, by the way, is a member of the Cleveland City Council.

Sex crimes lite

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was accused of repeatedly grabbing women against their will and putting his hands under their clothing, the news media--including the "liberal" media--called it "groping" and "harrassment." Saying to your fellow employee, "Your ass looks good in that skirt--wear it every day" is sexual harrassment (a word, by the way, that the media needs to learn how to pronounce). Grabbing women and touching their breasts and buttocks is called sexual assault. And in the case of the adolescent who accused him, it is called child sexual abuse.

Back in October, I had a fit when Soledad O'Brien expressed shock that Schwarzenegger might be the subject of a criminal investigation because of the alleged sexual assault crimes. Here was a woman who found it ludicrous that a man who assaults women could be considered a criminal. Of course, she was joined by hoardes of California citizens who revered Schwarzenegger enough to elect him governor. And there was no criminal investigation.

I think that of all the setbacks to feminism, this is the one that has me the most deeply troubled.

Now we have David Hager, who--according to his former wife--raped her repeatedly, yet even she is reported to have said that he was guilty of "sexual abuse." It sounds as though she is using the term "sexual abuse" or "marital sexual abuse" for legal purposes, which implies that either she cannot seek rape charges or that she is somehow liable is she uses the term rape. But Hager forced her to have sex, and we have a word for that, and it begins with an "r." The news media--what little portion of it that has chosen to speak about this case--continues to say that Hager "sodomized" his wife, which he did, but that isn't the issue. The issue is that he raped his wife.

It is interesting that the culture which loves to accuse feminists of manufacturing "politically correct" language has its own politically correct lexicon, and the word "rape" does not appear in it.

The May garden

Miniature rose Green Ice