Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hey, sports media--enough about Sania Mirza and the Muslim thing

Rising Indian WTA star Sania Mirza gets a lot of questions about her stardom in India, and about her fearlessness on court, but she also gets another question over and over: "How do you wear shorts and still honor your Muslim religion?" Mirza is poised enough to handle this question--"There are no perfect Muslims," she says, and changes the subject.

Of course, any time the sports media has a chance to talk about a woman's appearance, it's a good day for them, but Mirza's situation creates an angle that's new to the tennis scene. And that would be okay, I guess, if tennis reporters were also asking other players about how their clothing jives with their religious beliefs. The Williiams sisters come to mind: They are supposedly devout Jehovah's Witnesses (in the first episode of their recent reality show, Venus complains that doing yoga exercises violates her Christian beliefs), yet they wear sexually provocative clothing, participate in competitive sports, and represent their nation at the Olympics--all activities that are supposedly looked down on by their religion. The fact that the media never ask them about this leads me to the conclusion that certain players are off-limits for these kinds of irrelevant questions, but a Muslim woman is fair game.

I get a report from Camp Casey

I was not able to go to Crawford, but my friend Diana spent the weekend at Camp Casey, and was generous enough to take down my questions and to file a thorough report of what she saw and heard. Diana calls the experience an "encampment on the frontier of consciousness," and says she arrived in Crawford to the sight of restless natives:

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Memo from Evacuation Central

The sun is shining in Bunkie, a town that is filled with murals on the sides of its buildings and fences. A trip down the street put me face to face with the kind of south-to-central Louisiana food stands that serve outrageously delicious food that is very bad for you. In my case, most of it is also not part of my no-meat diet: boudin, meat pies, crawfish pie, even baked potatoes stuffed with roast beef.

While I was out, I met a UNO student who knows his apartment won't be there when he returns to Metairie. He advised me that my hotel's cocktail lounge was the town's hot spot and said he'd keep an eye out for me over the weekend, if we're still here. I should be upset about the noise the bands are going to make, but the guests are so loud, the bands will have to work hard to compete with them. Our room is next to the lounge, so we have no choice but to deal with it, anyway.

Roxie and Velma, our cats, have settled in. They still are eating very little, but they've stopped hissing and fighting, and every time one of us leaves, a cat tries to follow us out of the room. There are several dogs--a Pekingese, a Chihauhau, and a very large pug--in the hotel with us. I'm blogging and watching the U.S. Open almost non-stop (I remembered to bring my drawsheets), though we do take breaks to check on hurricane news, which doesn't seem to be totally connected to reality.

So far, the only things we have had to buy are a small brush-type broom and dustbin, a box of Kleenex, some wine and beer, a bottle opener, and a corkscrew. How a Louisianian can evacuate without taking her bottle opener and corkscrew, I don't know, but I left them behind. I did remember my camera, however, and am getting some good photographs.

FBI labels peace workers as potential terrorists

The ACLU has released an FBI document that identifies a Michigan-based peace group as a potential terrorist organization.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

It's worse than you think

The news media, for some reason, is invested in making the country think that things may not be hunky-dory in New Orleans, but they're really not that bad. Just so you know, portions of the Twin Spans bridge are gone, and there is some speculation that the entire bridge is a thing of the past. Two levees have been breached, the water continues to rise (up to 20 feet in some places), looting is rampant, the water is toxic, and martial law has been enforced.

In the city's Lower Ninth Ward alone, two hundred people were stranded on rooftops. At least 20 buildings have collapsed. Outside New Orleans, Metairie, Slidell, and Houma are underwater. The estimated bill for the damage is $26 billion.

Ladies and gentlemen: I give you....compassionate conservatism

From a conservative message board, on the subject of the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina:

...I was hoping that the Government housing was completly destroyed, but we built it too strong, now we have to replace their Bigscreens, Cadillacs and deep pile carpet so they can procreate in a manner that they have been accustomed to.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Covering property with swastikas may not be hate crime in city north of Atlanta

Law enforcement officials in Lawrenceville, Georgia say they are not sure whether to classify the burning of a swastika into the lawn of a Jewish family as a hate crime.

Two swastikas were spray-painted onto the road in front of the house, a swastika was burned onto the lawn--along with some obscenities--the trees were wrapped with toilet paper, and someone had urinated and defecated on the porch.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

National Guard not able to play usual role in hurricane crisis

Normally, the Louisiana National Guard would be out in full force to handle the devastation of a major hurricane, but that is not possible with Katrina because much of the Guard's equipment is in Iraq.

Suddenly, everyone cares about Louisiana

In her news conference yesterday, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said she had heard from George W. Bush, and that he was "very concerned" about Louisiana. It was only few weeks ago that Bush's sudden status as a Louisiana booster surprised the governor, and it may take her a while to get used to his newly found solicitousness. Bush has been bragging about the $540 million for Louisiana's coastal restoration that is part of the new energy bill. But only a week before the bill passed, the White House was trying to get the Louisiana appropriation changed to $57 million.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Lindsay Davenport gives Gimelstob what he deserves

I hardly needed another reason to like Lindsay Davenport, but she gave me one yesterday. The world number one responded to the sexist drivel ATP player Justin Gimelstob wrote in his blog about the WTA tour.

Here's a sample:

Another dynamic I find interesting is the players' lounges at joint events. In these player-exclusive hangouts, you'll find two groups of women: On one side you have the WTA players, many of whom are very attractive and in great shape. Unfortunately for them, they have to share the space with the most beautiful one percent of female creatures on the planet: men's players' girlfriends and wives.

It's an unfair competition when you have the girlfriends showing up looking like they're ready to stroll down a runway. Meanwhile, you've got the female players hanging out in tennis gear, dripping sweat from their practices and matches. We all know women are competitive creatures, and even I have some sympathy for the players who have to deal with the "glamour girls"whenever they turn the corner.

For Gimelstob to assume that the athletes in the locker room give a damn about visiting "glamour girls" is the height of sexist fantasy. Here is part of Davenport's reponse:

I'm always curious what the fascination is about men having to judge women constantly. What they look like. What they wear. Who they hang out with.

It's like women are, "Oh yeah, he's cute, well whatever." We don't sit there and go, "Oh, my gosh, his arms are a little too thin, his legs are a little too thick."
When asked to comment on Gimelstob's body, Davenport replied, "Yeah, really. I asked him if he wanted me to get into that. He said no."

Hurricane evacuation--report from the road

Taking two-lane highways the very long way around, it took us six hours to make what would normally be about a two-and-a half-hour trip to Bunkie, a small town in central Louisiana. We were very lucky to get a room in an old historically preserved hotel, where we have a lovely view of the courtyard. Our cats, Roxie and Velma, still recovering from evacuation stress, have taken turns sitting on the window ledge and watching the banana leaves flutter in the wind. When they aren't perching or sleeping, they are hissing, growling, and swatting each other. All in all, though, they have adapted amazingly well.

It took us longer to pack for them than it did to pack for ourselves. Our small hotel room is crowded with a litter box, food and water bowls, cat bed, two pet carriers, and computer equipment. We also have catnip, a toy mouse, some Rescue Remedy, towels, and a ZoomGroom on hand. I am able to watch the U.S. Open on the USA Network, so really, I have everything I need.

We passed miles of cotton fields to get here, and drove through small towns whose shops displayed signs like Perfection Brake & Clutch and Virtuous Woman Fitness & Tanning. Is some areas of Mississippi, there was a lot of kudzu, which protects the land from erosion. We watched a Weather Channel reporter stand on the flooded, windy streets of our city, and we were glad that we were not there.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Katrina is coming to call

More blogging when I can get to it--stay tuned.

Dumbing down tennis

The ATP (Association of Professional Tennis), the organization that runs the men's tennis tour, has set about to ruin the game of tennis, at least insofar as doubles is concerned. Under a proposed rules change that will go into effect following the U.S. Open, matches will feature no-ad scoring, with tiebreaks at 4-4, rather than 6-6.

The elimination of ad-scoring in all women's matches has also been proposed by tennis legend Martina Navratilova, and it is the worst idea she has ever had. What would be the point of watching tennis without the ad point?! Every time a game goes to deuce, a new drama unfolds. The more it goes to deuce, the more drama there is for fans.

Eliminating the ad point and requiring fewer games to get to a tiebreak would make the matches shorter, which is another bad idea. But the point seems to be to sell tennis to non-tennis fans--people who might buy a ticket, but who don't want to waste their time watching high-quality, tension-filled matches while they wait for a glimpse of Maria Sharapova or Roger Federer.

Don't forget Operation Yellow Elephant

"Frankly, I want to be a politician. I'd like to survive to see that."

"If there was a need presented, I would go."

"I think I could do more here."

"We don't have to be there physically to fight it."

"There are Republican policies to maintain and protect and an economy to sustain."

"I'm staying here to fight the culture war."

These are some of the explanations college Republicans have given for why they have not enlisted to fight in Iraq. You can help them see through their hypocrisy by downloading and distributing enlistment forms, putting stickers on your correspondence, memos, bulletins, and backpacks, and distributing one of the Operation Yellow elephant public service announcements.

Because even college Republicans need help with some subjects.

Things to read while you bang your head against the wall

I went to Pam's House Blend, where Pam published a bunch of freerepublic quotations concerning Jerry Falwell's revelation that housing and employment are not "special" rights. One of them so completely boggled my mind that I think my mouth fell open, as the old song says, like a country pond: "...Gays want privileges like blacks and women have been granted. I've always wanted to ask one of these special rights people for just one example of how they were treated unfairly."

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Friday, August 26, 2005

I didn't think I could possibly like Eve Ensler more than I already did

But after tonight's "Real Time," I do. If you missed it, catch the re-run. There's no ass left--she kicked it all.

With friends like these, who needs bin Laden?

Speaking on a panel on C-Span today, Juliette Kayyem, a terrorism expert at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, said that 40% of the suicide bombers in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia. 79% of the September 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has one of the most repressive governments in the world. But it's all in who you know.

Looking for a way to jump on the French-hating bandwagon?

I have two for you.

Someone brought it to my attention today that fisherman on Reunion Island are using live puppies and kittens as shark bait. Animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot is calling on the French government to put a stop to it.

Of course, we don't know how the France will respond to this atrocity, but we do know how they have responded to another one. The French government and French restauranteurs are vehemently opposed to the proposed ban on foie gras. The making of fois gras is cruel on the same level as the making of veal.

God hates fags

Turning our backs on women's suffrage

Today is Women's Suffrage Day. 85 years ago, women in the United States gained the right to vote. In the 70's, we used to have a parade, dress in period costume, and do public readings. Now, the only thing I have to look forward to each year is Ellen Goodman's annual Sexism Awards.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Friday cat blogging---memorial edition

Today is the second anniversary of the death of our wonderful friend Princess, for whom the Princess Cafe was named. We really miss her. You may view Princess's memorial page here.
Her grave marker

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Liar, liar

Camo pants on fire.

They exploded instead

The American Journal of Medicine has been getting mail about fetuses.

Please...someone in Congress

Make these people pay taxes.

Hey-- American Legion! Bring it on....

Delegates to the American Legion annual convention say they will "use whatever means necessary 'to ensure the united backing of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism.'"

The 2.7 million-member organization has "declared war" on antiwar protesters, calling for an end to all "public protests" and "media events" against the war.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Who can be bothered with details?

In 2002, AOL Time Warner, Inc. obtained AT&T Corporation's stake in their cable television, film production, and programming partnership in exchange for it.

About five years ago, Enron and their partners stole it from California's electricity and gas customers.

Duke Energy recently agreed to acquire Cinergy for its value in stocks.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Fetuses feel no pain

With this news, the crazed fundamentalist right wing should implode, but it won't matter because they do not "believe in" science.

For Cindy and those who camp with her

With grateful acknowledgment to Allan Sherman:

Hello Stacy, hi there Tracy
Here I am at Camp Casey
Camp is really quite inspiring
And I'd like it more if I could stop perspiring

Lance went biking with the liar
But the health pie won't get higher
You remember the brush-whacker?
He's in Idaho because he's such a slacker

They call us hippies, call us traitors
Say the town's full of agitators
Larry Mattlage wants no patriots
So he fired his gun to show how much he hates us

Now I don't want to alarm you
But some of them want to harm you
Since arriving, we've had more losses
Some big redneck came and mowed down all the crosses

Won't go home, my dearest Stacy
Won't go home, I love Camp Casey
Don't send me back to the city where
I might not meet Americans who care
Won't go home, I promise I will make a lot of noise
Hope it's the ranch house it annoys
Made up my mind to stay
Until the very last day

Dearest Stacy, darling Tracy
You would love it at Camp Casey
Won't come home yet, though you miss me
I don't care how many Freeper no-necks dis me

Wait a minute, Cindy's here now
Folks are smiling, drinking beer now
Having her back makes it better
Stacy, make 10,000 copies of this letter

Symbolism is not a right-wing value

A common right-wing criticism of Cindy Sheehan's encampment in Crawford is that she doesn't really want to ask Bush a question, she doesn't really want to see him--she's just there to put on a "staged" event, to call attention to her cause, and to get media coverage.

Well, a double-layered "duh" to that. Of course she is there to call attention to her cause and to get media coverage. Oh my god--someone is using symbolism to make a point. What a concept. What will we tell the children?

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

The truth about the yellow dog

I left the Democratic Party for a long list of reasons, but the main one was the fact that I felt dismissed as a woman. And nothing has changed. Even in the 21st Century, all the Democratic Party had to offer for a presidential ticket was two white males. To add insult to injury, John Kerry--not at all surprisingly--turned out to be the worst candidate in modern times.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Sharia comes to Kano, Nigeria

The women of Kano, Nigeria, are facing a life of misery as Islamic law takes over their community. The dominance of Sharia has already done away with prostitution, gambling, and the drinking of alcohol, and now it appears that Kano will end up like Zamfara, which has compulsory same-gender schools, and which has banned the Nigerian women's soccer team.

Under Sharia, women are now forced to sit in the back of the city's mini-buses so that their presence will not entice male passengers. Most women in Kano, however, use the motorcycle taxis for getting around, but since these vehicles are operated by men, they will no longer be permitted to ride on them.

Sharia also requires amputation as punishment for theft, and flogging or stoning as punishment for adultery. A woman, as you can imagine, are presumed to have committed adultery if a man says she has. No other proof is required.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"Armstrong Bikes With President Over Sheehan Grave"

Greg Palast is my kind of guy.

This poll is almost as offensive as Pat Robertson

I used to think that all of the media stupidity was concentrated at CNN and Fox, but then MSNBC got really competitive with them, and now it's a toss-up. All cable news polls are offensive--most of them ask Americans to decide on things that even the smartest citizens aren't qualified to have opinions on--but today's MSNBC poll is a real prize.

No, it isn't going "too far" for a religious leader (god, those two words were hard to type) to ask that a world leader be assassinated. First of all, think of all the terrible things Venezuela has done to America. Second, consider that famous Christian principle of killing as many people as possible. Third, think of how America doesn't need any allies right now.

Real estate firm's attempt to discriminate against gays fails

Pam's House Blend has the story, and it's worth reading.

Remember Afghanistan?

This morning, during Donald Rumsfeld's news conference, a reporter asked him to comment on the Pentagon's reopening of the investigation into Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan. He knew nothing about it--he didn't even know the investigation had been reopened.

Because Afghanistan is so 2001....

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Letter to the editor author says Bob Herbert's criticism of Bush's long vacation "borders on treason"

Dear Mr. Ignorant-by-Choice in Kenner, Louisiana:

Stealing a presidential election
borders on treason.

Conspiring--before you have even unpacked your cowboy boots and bass lures--to invade a country that has shown no sign of attacking our country borders on treason.

Enticing a weak Secretary of State, a zealous National Security Director, and the leader of a major ally to help cook nonexistent "intelligence" borders on treason.

Destroying the infrastructure of a country for no reason borders on treason.

Causing the needless deaths and maimings of hundreds of American soldiers borders on treason.

Causing the deaths of thousands of Iraqi citizens borders on treason.

Creating a climate in which anti-American terrorist groups are either born or strengthened borders on treason.

On second thought, none of that borders on treason: It is treason.

A different kind of national defense

Excerpts from the message boards:

Let her give these speeches from Canada--I surely hope not a penny of my tax dollars ever goes to this misguided, delusional woman.

Come on. She is obviously delusional....She is a disgrace.
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Right-wing Silver Ring Thing feels sting

Good news: The government has finally suspended funding of the Silver Ring Thing, a nationwide Christian organization that uses abstinence-only programs to minister to students. Not only does the Silver Ring Thing violate church/state separation, it also presents dangerous information to adolescents, encouraging them not to use any type of contraception or disease prevention techniques.

Studies have shown that adolescents who abstain from sexual intercourse have as many--and in some cases, more--STD's than other teenagers. Apparently, silver ringers are extremely technical about their virginity and engage in a lot of oral and anal sex. Bill Maher once remarked, when talking about his own adolescence, "If I'd known I was going to get porn star sex, I'd have been so down with Jesus."

Since the Silver Ring Thing is in the process of taking its, uh, dog and pony show to other parts of the world, its leaders can look forward to seeing even more disease and suffering than ever.

Pat Robertson calls for assassination of Hugo Chavez

We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Report on Camp Casey

Amanda at Pandagon has written an excellent report on her visit to Camp Casey, which you can read here.

The only thing worse than an animal abuser

Female scientists continue to be victims of sexism

A group of American researchers, writing in the latest issue of Science magazine, report that--despite major advances--female scientists continue to be the victims of sexism, both overt and subtle. The researchers identify four areas in which women in science have difficulty--the pipeline, the climate, unconscious bias, and the family/work equation.

I'll sacrifice my whole family

"If I have to sacrifice my whole family for the sake of our whole country and world, other countries that want freedom, I'll do that."

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

The problem with Cindy Sheehan's nickname

The news media loves to trivialize important issues and by giving them nicknames. They especially love to trivialize women and women's issues. This has been going on a long time: Consider that suffragists were called "suffragettes" (and unfortunately, still are, by both news professionals and other citizens). Second Wave feminists were called "women's libbers." And now Cindy Sheehan is the "Peace Mom."

Calling Sheehan the "peace mom" accomplishes a number of things. It makes her and her cause "cute," which is always the first line of attack against women who should be taken seriously. It also invites images of the 60's--hippies, war protesters, drugs--all the things that conservatives hold in contempt. And it implies weakness. That the word "peace" is a synonym for impotence is sad, but it is a fact, thanks not only to conservative talking points, but to the fourth estate.

So I have a new nickname for Sheehan: She is the "Truth Mom."

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Court of Appeals panel overturns judge's order that parents cannot expose their child to Wiccan faith

Remember the nutcake judge in Indianapolis who ruled that a man and his former wife could not expose their child to their Wiccan faith? The Wall of Separation reports that a three-judge panel of the Indiana State Court of Appeals has unanimously invalidated Judge Bradford's ruling.

The bad news is that the panel did not overturn the decision on constitutional principle, but rather, relied solely on Indiana's child custodial laws to form its opinion.

A reminder to get your MoJo on

And meet me at Mother Jones.

News media continues to label pro-war groups "patriotic"

Twice today--once on MSNBC and once in an AP article--there were more nauseating examples of the media's referring to the pro-war group in Crawford as the "patriotic" group. This happens frequently, and needs to be confronted via letters to media outlets every time it happens.

Quote of the day

"Capitalizing on political defeat and emerging socioeconomic trends, the DLC and the New Democrats have offered the most durable and sustained effort to oppose the dominant liberal faction of their party."
From the DLC website

Protesters arrested for...well, protesting

Ol Cranky has yet another disturbing story posted at The Disenchanted Forest. It seems that Rick Santorum couldn't handle having some protesters at his August 10 Barnes & Noble book-signing in Wilmington. We would expect that. The significant part of this story is that--without consulting Barnes & Noble--a Delaware state trooper, acting in his capacity as a private security guard (but wearing his state trooper uniform), threatened the protesters with arrest if they did not leave. Two of them stayed and were arrested.

And just when you think the story can't get any worse, we learn that the Deleware state police supported the trooper's behavior.

Here's hoping for a civil rights violation lawsuit. airs offensive TV spot is promoting tennis as a way to stay fit and have fun. During the commercial breaks of the U.S. Open Series, is running a spot that--a couple of decades ago--would either never have been made, or feminists would have seen to it that it was yanked from the airwaves.

An attractive young woman is in a bar. A man comes up behind her and whispers something in her ear that is apparently so offensive that her response is to slap him. Only he ducks, and the following dialogue ensues:

He: Nice swing.

She: Nice reflexes

He: I bet you play tennis.

She: Every weekend.

He: Twice a week.

By this time, they are madly flirting. Because everyone knows that women will forgive a crude verbal assault if it comes from a guy who is physically fit.

You may write to at: And I hope you do.

On today's "Meet the Press"

"...women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they're there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective."
Reuel Marc Gerecht, Director of the Middle East Initiative for PNAC

Another enticement to enlist

The federal government has filed a request to dismiss the lawsuit of Sean D. Baker, a former soldier from Kentucky who is suing the Army and the Navy for injuries he received during a training exercise at Guantanamo Bay. The government says Baker cannot sue for injuries incurred while he was in the military, nor can he sue in the United States, since the injuries occurred in Cuba.

Baker claims that, during the exercise, his head was repeatedly banged against a steel floor, causing brain trauma. He is asking for $15 million in damages, and for the judge to order the Army to fully investigate the incident.


"If one wants the youth of America and the world sashaying around in garish sequined costumes, hair dripping with pomade, body shot full of female hormones to prevent voice change, mono-gloved, well, then, I suppose 'Michael,' as he is affectionately known in the trade, is in fact a good example...."
John Roberts
(in a memo advising President Reagan not to jump on the Jackson bandwagon by sending the singer a note thanking him for his charitable work)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Atomic bomb earrings no longer available from museum store

Since we recently observed the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I have no idea how I missed the announcement that the National Atomic Museum in New Mexico has decided to stop selling Fat Man and Little Boy earrings.

"Where else will you find a pair of Fat Man and Little Boy earrings?" the museum website advertised. Nowhere else, thank goodness. After hearing those oh-so-sensitive Japanese people complain about them, museum officials decided not to order any additional atomic bomb jewelry.

How on earth could anyone have ever thought this was a clever idea? What kind of people bought the earrings?

Don't get too excited about the museum's sudden insight, however. You can still buy Fat Man and Little Boy shot glasses. No showing off your WMD on your earlobes, but a few drinks among friends, and it's bombs away.

They hate us for our freedom...

1,100 dead bodies in July alone

Via BlondeSense, we learn from Robert Fisk about the number of mutilated and disfigured Iraqi corpses that have turned up at the Baghdad mortuary. Most of the victims were executed, according to Fisk.

The word "hypocrite" is SO inadequate

Via Jinky the Cat: Unindicted but well-established sex offender (are you listening, Soledad O'Brien?) Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling for tougher laws against sex offenders.

Something about which I disagree with Cindy Sheehan

When Larry Northern mowed down the crosses, Sheehan declined to press charges. Fortunately, local law enforcement officers paid no attention to her and arrested Northern for felony criminal mischief.

To let Northern's behavior go unpunished will not teach him a damned thing about tolerance. But it will teach him and others like him that it's okay to destroy other people's property. I hear this kind of thing a lot--about sexual assaulters, drunk drivers, thieves. Not pressing charges against people who commit crimes against you is actually just saying it's okay for them to come and commit crimes against me. No thank you.

Northern, whose truck tire was punctured by one of the crosses he ran over, was released after posting a $3,000 bail. The penalty for felony criminal mischief in Texas ranges from 6 months to 2 years in prison. Let's hope Sheehan's representatives don't show up in court to plead for leniency.

Paul Hackett on "Real Time"

Did anyone else find him shallow and phony? This was the first time I'd seen him, and I couldn't wait for the interview to be over.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Torture and murder continue in China

This woman was shocked with three electric batons for seven hours. She died in June while in police custody. Her crime? She practiced Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual practice with beliefs similar to those found in Buddhism and Taoism. The Chinese government began suppressing Falun Gong six years ago, with no let-up. Though the suppression was in the news for a while, it faded quickly.

Falun Gong practitioners have been tortured and killed on a regular basis by the Chinese government. This is not easy to look at, nor is this.

If you are unfamiliar with these atrocities, please take some time to learn about them.

Quote of the week

From a 1985 memo about a corporate scholarship program for women:

"Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good."
John Roberts

The WTA tour--the Walking Wounded

Lindsay Davenport, who went on a hardcourt tear last year and won four consecutive tournaments, was unable to defend any of them during the past few weeks because of a lower back injury that occurred during her heartbreaking Wimbledon final. Serena Williams had to withdraw mid-way through the Rogers Cup competition in Toronto this week because of a knee injury; a few weeks ago, she was out with an ankle injury. Both Williams sisters were frequently off the tour with various injuries last year and the year before.

Maria Sharapova also withdrew from the Rogers Cup tourament because of a pectoral strain. Mary Pierce, who recently won the Acura Classic in San Diego, withdrew from Toronto and from the JPMorgan Chase tournament in Los Angeles because of a strained right quadriceps. Anastasia Myskina and Li Na both have ankle injuries, and Ana Ivanovic has a pectoral strain, and had to retire during the third round of the Rogers Cup. Li Na had to retire also; Myskina just kept on playing, though obviously in great pain; it is possible she will not be able to play in the quarterfinals. Elena Bovina, last year's Pilot Pen champion, will not be defending her title in New Haven next week because of a shoulder injury.

Kim Clijsters, who is tearing up the hardcourts this year, was out almost all of last year with a wrist injury, and there have been numerous other injuries among WTA players. There are two factors that are usually considered to be the cause of so many injuries: the lack of time off for players, and the use of metal racquets. Though some of us long for the days of wooden racquets, they are not going to return, so there needs to be an assessment of the tour schedule. Of course, players choose which tournaments they wish to compete in, but if they do not compete in several, they cannot stay ahead point-wise.

It isn't looking too good for the U.S. Open, which is a real shame.

Update at 7:20 p.m. CST: Nadia Petrova just retired in the third round of her Rogers Cup quarterfinal match with Amelie Mauresmo because of some type of injury.

As always, Ellen Goodman gets it right

Air America's promo for Rhandi Rhodes

"Woman power!"

Isn't that cute?

Hypocrites of the Month: The Rolling Stones

And how lovely it was to hear someone say it--and say it cleverly--yesterday on American Public Media's "Marketplace." Commentator Jamie Carr exposes the Stones for the shameless hypocrites they are. It doesn't take long to hear this commentary, and it is worth hearing.

Friday cat blogging--Now we are 2!

Roxie and Velma have a birthday some time this month; we don't know the exact date. Here they are at 6 months old, after they had lived with us for a month. They were rescued from a yard on the other side of the lake, placed in foster care, then put up for adoption by the local rescue organization. Roxie is now a small cat, and her sister is huge.
At 16 months old, having a much better Christmas than they had before they were rescued
A recent portrait of Roxie, relaxing among the African violets
And one of Velma

Thursday, August 18, 2005

And I wanted to go to Twin Peaks

Agitprop gives us a story so outrageously ridiculous that you have to laugh while--at the same time--you want to cry over the insanity of our culture. Malibu has been, shall we say, surgically removed in order to save us all from phallic overload.

An invitation to join me at Mother Jones

Beginning Monday, I'll be guest-blogging for Mother Jones for a couple of weeks. I'll be posting here, too, but please do come over to the MoJo Blog and visit me when you get a chance.

Auto art

Thanks to all who stopped by the Virtual Vigil last night

Many people stopped by to visit. Special thanks to those who left comments, links, and reports, all of which will be mailed to Cindy Sheehan.

According to a Washington Post reporter, "The White House thinks this whole story is a silly obsession of bored reporters with nothing better to do during the slow August."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Virtual Vigil for Cindy Sheehan

Peace to Cindy and all who stand with her.

All Cindy supporters are welcome at this Virtual Vigil. Please leave comments, links, poems, prayers, and statements of your support. If you attend an actual vigil tonight, please post a report and/or leave a link. Feel free to email me a photo and I'll put it up.

I will start by directing everyone to a poem written by 13-year-old Joseph Grigg.

And the lyrics to Marianne Faithfull's "Broken English."

History Lesson
By Diane E. Dees

Ancient heads of stone have fallen,
shattered by the desperate mobs
who, for decades starved and battered,
took no comfort in their relics.

Liberators ignore the past;
ancient heads of stone have fallen.
The book that tells of Babylon
is missing pages forever.

Gone the Korans, gone the tablets--
taken quickly in broad daylight.
Ancient heads of stone have fallen;
history no longer matters.

Our oldest civilization
now a mass of shards and rubble;
those who clean up take no notice.
Ancient heads of stone have fallen.

Originally published on the Poets Against War website

Those who wish to donate money to Cindy Sheehan and the Crawford Peace House may do so by using PayPal, or by sending donations directly to the Crawford Peace House, P.O. Box 710218, Dallas, TX 75371-0218.

Surprise, surprise...

John Northern, the Waco man who used a truck, a pipe, and some chains to mow down the crosses in Crawford, is described as a "gun enthusiast" and president of his local gun club. He is also a realtor, though he doesn't exactly have a respect for property.

Update on chicken roping

Some of us wrote letters to the Colorado newspaper about the hideous "game" of chicken roping. The Humane Society of the U.S. has been notified, and their Rocky Mountain region has written a letter to the editor, and has confronted the 4-H Club. I don't think there will be any more chicken roping.

Don't forget the Virtual Vigil tonight

The Virtual Vigil for Cindy Sheehan--for those who cannot attend actual vigils--will be held here tonight, beginning at around 7:30 p.m. CST. Bring comments, poems, prayers, quotations, donations (instrutions will be available), or anything else you would like to share. If you attend an actual vigil, feel free to post a report or leave a link. If you send me a photo of your vigil, I will post it. The transcript of the virtual vigil will be sent to Cindy Sheehan.

In the meantime, if you are going to a vigil, you can download a beautiful graphic from The Heretik, and you can also download a window sign here.

For once, I have something to be proud of about my city

My little city--despite its piney groves, colorful banners, rivers, parks, abundant tubs of flowers, and beautifully preserved architecture--has an ugly soul. It is full of relentlessly right-wing people, as are the towns that are adjacent to it. But of course, not everyone here is an ignorant nutcake. I learned this morning that two of our citizens are in Crawford, acting as attorneys for Cindy Sheehan! One of them I have written about before, and she is there with her husband, along with many other people from my state.

This morning, I also learned that as a Poet Against War, I can join a PAW project on Sheehan's behalf. I can't be in Crawford, but at least I can help a little, as can we all.

Files missing from Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

What files? you may ask: The files that contain Judge John Roberts' work on affirmative action cases during the Reagan years.

How long have they been missing? you may also ask: Since July, when White House attorneys reviewed them.

The Justice Department has offered to use its notes to reconstruct the missing files.

Request made for investigation of Ashcroft

Congressmen John Conyers and Maurice Hinchey are requesting that the U.S. Inspector General's office investigate former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft because of an alleged conflict of interest. This conflict, say Conyers and Hinchey, occurred when Ashcroft failed to recuse himself during the initial investigation of the outing of Valerie Plame.

Ashcroft, you'll recall, was appointed upon the suggestion of Karl Rove, and Rove was paid $750,000 to handle Ashcroft's 2000 Senate campaign.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Virtual vigil at DED Space on Wednesday night

For those who cannot attend one of the Wednesday night vigils for Cindy Sheehan or who do not have a vigil to attend, feel free to check in to DED Space on Wednesday evening for a virtual vigil. Comments for Cindy, links, poems, quotations...all will be welcome. Also, if you attend a vigil, feel free to give us a report. If you have a photo of your vigil and would like to email it to me, I will post it.

Pastor who speaks out against hate speech is victim of threats and vandalism

Remember this idiot? Well, according to Pam's House Blend, his supporters are aggressively opposed to anyone who isn't offended by homosexuality. Dyan Abena McCray, pastor of Unity Fellowship Church in Washington, D.C., spoke out against Wilson's hate speech, and was rewarded with email threats, phone threats, and a brick thrown through her car window.

Homework, football, cheating--American school traditions

Recently, some students at Loyola University conducted a confidential survey at a Catholic high school in New Orleans, and reported some alarming--but not surprising-- statistics:

  • 84% of the seniors polled said they had engaged in cheating, and 14% of them cheated on a regular basis.
  • 50% answered "maybe" or "no" to the question "Does cheating matter in the long run?"
  • More than 50% identified scenarios they believed justified cheating, such as "when busy or on deadline," or "to help a classmate."
  • 60% said they had frequently witnessed cheating, but none had reported it.

This school's statistics, from what I've read, are not unusual. Cheating runs rampant in both high schools and colleges and universities. One complaint that professors frequently make is that students unintentionally cheat because they do not understand what plagiarism is. Give me a break. If you don't understand the concept of plagiarism, what on earth are you doing in an institution of higher learning?

Having had my own work plagiarized and my copyright violated on a number of occasions, I can testify that there is rampant ignorance over what constitutes theft, and that is really scary, especially when I consider how angry some people become when you point out that they have stolen from you.

The high level of cheating at the high school in New Orleans also demonstrates that "church values" do not translate to the students when it comes to getting by in school. Of course, these students have seen so much cheating in both their church and their government that it is easy to understand their disdain for the concept of honesty.

Also, the consequences for cheating seem to be minimal. A student who cheats may be put on probation, but a second-offender is given detentions, as opposed to the more appropriate consequence of failing the term and/or being expelled. Always, it seems, it is the "law and order/moral values" types who fail to provide consequences for breaches of law and morality.

If you want an example of the decay of morality in America, it's not about boys kissing boys. It's about the fact that children--the same children who may not have ever read a book-- consider cheating a normal part of the academic day.

Angry bubba disgraces memorial for dead soldiers

Last night, someone in a pickup truck plowed through the rows of 1,000 crosses set up in Crawford to represent soldiers who have died in Iraq. Because the people in Crawford support this war.

No need to worry about John Roberts...

Don't let a little thing like his being opposed to equal pay for women get you down.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Liberals have no right to grieve

That is essentially what nutcakes like Fred Barnes, Michelle Malkin, and Melanie Morgan are saying. Oh my, oh dear--stop the presses--we think Cindy Sheehan was already a liberal before her son died.

I don't know if this is true, though I like to think it is. But the resulting criticism amounts to a belief that liberals have no right to grieve if their children are killed in a war. And no right to be angry if they also happen to notice that their children died in vain. And that being a liberal robs you of legitimacy if you criticize the administration because--hey!--you're acting like a liberal! Liberals criticize the administration. So you're just being a liberal and so what if your son died?

My favorite piece of cognitive oopsy so far, though, has been the assertion by someone who wrote a letter to Malkin in which s/he said Sheehan's grief proves that pro-choice people are hypocrites. Say what?! Ready? "Respecting the right to choose what you do with your body does not include the choice of putting on a uniform and serving your country."

Fox News and Rosa Parks

Thanks to Shakespeare's Sister for directing me to this great Huffington Post tidbit.

South Carolina discovers the First Amendment

Thanks to Pam's House Blend for this news about Great Falls, South Carolina, where the church folk are digging into their pockets to pay the $65,000 in legal fees incurred by Wiccan priest Darla Wynn, who sued the town in 2001. Wynn charged that Great Falls violated the principal of church/state separation by using the name of Jesus in its official prayers. The town lost both the original case and the appeal, and is now stuck with the bill. The town's budget is small, so Christians are passing the hat to collect the money.

I'm all choked up about it.

Cindy Sheehan vigil hosts needed is looking for people who can host vigils for Cindy Sheehan on Wednesday, August 17.

Virginia's Pledge of Allegiance law upheld

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Virginia law which requires public schools to lead a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Though I appreciate efforts to restore the Pledge to its original form--minus "under God"--I am more disturbed that the Pledge exists at all. Loyalty oaths frighten me, and making children take loyalty oaths really frightens me.

For your viewing pleasure...

A couple of great graphics. At Pandagon, and here.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Korean War veteran calls Bush a liar, gets illegal visit from law enforcement

Don Stout of Albany Ohio said on a local radio station that the alleged president is a liar and that the administration has created a environment similar to that of Nazi Germany. He then received an unusual visit.

You can do something about chicken roping in Colorado

If this disgusts you, please write a letter to the editor of the Lamar Daily News. Click on the "Letters to the Editor" and Newsroom box.

Non sequitur of the week

Remarking that it was important for him to be sensitive to those (meaning Cindy Sheehan) who have something to say, but...

"I think it's also important for me to go on with my life..."
George W. Bush

Justice Sunday, and Congresspeople as quiet as church mice

This church in Nashville, as I write this, is hosting the Justice Sunday II live television program. The purpose of Justice Sunday is to push the evangelical beliefs of the Family Research Council and to rally congregations to insist that such beliefs be part of the federal judicial system. The Family Research Council is vehemently anti-choice and anti-gay.

Two Rivers Baptist Church and all the churches who simulcast the event are boldly showing their tax-exempt asses to the entire nation, and no one who could do anything seems to care. The fact that I am paying for them to both promote an agenda of hate and ignorance and spit at the Constitution enrages me. I realize, in faireness, that the members of those churches probably resent paying for such things as the NEA and public education, but the difference is that churches have a special (as in "ridiculous") tax-exempt status, and it is alarming that they can publicly push a specific government agenda and retain that status.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

"It's just pretty nice for the kids"

Thanks to Cat Out Loud for a new piece of animal abuse outrage: A 4-H Club in Lamar, Colorado has added a chicken roping competition to the events at the Sand and Sage Fair. I assume that, by now, one of the humane organizations has learned about this new piece of obscenity.

4-H says it helps kids learn about citizenship and life skills. I wasn't aware that included animal abuse.

"...I think it's great," one of the spectators said. "Everyone is having a good time."

Not the chickens.

Someone stands up for gay marriage--what a concept!

As anyone who reads this blog knows, the whole sham of "civil unions" makes me so angry I could break something. All marriages in the United States are civil unions. The priest or clergywoman will not marry you unless you have a marriage license, which is what proves you are married. It is a civil contract.

Calling gay marriage something else so that people will feel better is not only dishonest, but insulting. And in his latest concert, "I'm Swiss," Bill Maher takes on this ridiculous "liberal" notion. Maher compares calling gay marriage "civil union" to telling marijuana smokers that the drug is illegal, but everyone knows they can just leave the restaurant and smoke it in the alley. "Call what you're doing under your roof a civil union," he says. "Go stand in the alley and drink your brandy."


The case against Cindy Sheehan: Deconstructing the arguments

There are currently three lines of attack against Cindy Sheehan, sometimes used individually and sometimes in combinations. Each deserves examination:

1. She is a traitor. This is the hard line taken by people like Bill O'Reilly. In political terms, a traitor is someone who cooperates with the enemy or whose actions undermine her own government. Whenever there is a war protest, the protesters are said to be helping the enemy's cause. The illogical presumptions behind this argument are many:
a. That our government is always right
b. That there is only one enemy
c. That the government has correctly defined the enemy
d. That freedom of expression is forbidden during a war

If Sheehan is a traitor, then I am a traitor, too, for I write against the war, talk against the war, and intend to vote against those who support the war. I did not consider Iraq an enemy of the U.S. until we invaded it. Yes, the Saddam Hussein regime was an enemy of what the United States stands for, but so is the Bush administration.

2. She is a tool of the Democratic Party. That one is funny, in a way. The Democratic Party, as far as I can tell, doesn't have enough cohesion to make someone a tool, not to mention that its members do not seem to be especially outspoken against the war.

A reader of this blog speculated that the Demoratic Party is funding Sheehan's stay in Crawford. Actually, people like I are funding it, through small donations. Unlike the Democratic Party, we are against the war and don't have a problem saying that it is a complete sham, created for the purpose of making Halliburton et al wealthy beyond belief.

But there is a more important element to this argument, and that is that it implies that Cindy Sheehan is naive and stupid. And yes, I have to wonder if that criticism would be as popular if Sheehan were a man. Perhaps.

Finally--worst case scenario: that Sheehan is a tool of the Democratic Party. Well, at least the party picked a woman who is cognitively functional to be their tool, and not someone who is brain dead and lying in a hospital bed in Florida.

3. She is a grieving mother whose expression of grief has taken an inappropriate turn.

I won't dance around that one: It is out-and-out sexist. There is no way this criticism would be hurled at a man if he were grieving over his son. The "grieving mother" image gives conservatives an opportunity to express their "compassion" while bashing Sheehan at the same time.

The insults against Sheehan will increase as the number of her supporters in Crawford increases. As she becomes more of a threat, look for her personal life to be dragged through the mud, and for everything she has ever said to be taken out of context. And all of this will be reported by the news media, who has yet to mention that Bush is a lying, cheating, stealing, amoral killer. Oh yes...and a tool of PNAC.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Remind me again what decade we're in

I was in Barnes & Noble this afternoon, and there were some of those combination book/toy things for sale for kids. The choices were "Grandma's Purse" and "Grandpa's Briefcase." That was it.

Message for Pam Shriver

In the words of America's best-known unsportsman-like thug: Shut up, shut up, shut up!

When Shriver talks about tennis, she is one of the best--if not the best--commentator for the game. But when she goes off into other subjects, she can be really offensive. Whether she's insulting Claudine Schaul because the poor woman asked to have her name pronounced correctly, turning in a player for a time violation, or making sexist remarks, Shriver tends to make an ass of herself.

Today, during the JPMorgan Chase Open quarterfinal match between Kim Clijsters and Nadia Petrova, some children in the stands were screaming during play. Petrova, who had just hit a major winner, asked the umpire to ask them to be quiet. Shriver immediately went into a diatribe about how silly it was, right after you'd scored a winner, to start complaining. I can only imagine what she would have said if Petrova had complained right after she'd made an unforced error.

While it is true that Petrova is a temperamental player, her anger is almost always directed toward herself. Her sportswomanship is solid. Shriver's complaint was not only uncalled for, it reflected an American trend: To ask to have the rules enforced is "weak." In our culture, only losers seek justice through rules.

A few years ago, some players were seriously physically abused at the New Orleans Saints training camp in Wisconsin. They were too frightened to come forward, and no charges were ever filed against the perpetrators. When men are involved, it is especially deadly to turn in a perpetrator (think of all kids who were abused by Bobby Knight), but asking to have rules enforced is unpopular, regardless of gender.

As for Shriver, she needs to stick to talking about points and shots.

Feminist backlash in Sweden similar and different to American situation

On today's "All Things Considered," there was a disturbing story about feminist backlash in Sweden. It seems that Sweden and the U.S. are, in one way, opposite sides of the same coin. Whereas here, it is politically incorrect to say you are a feminist, in Sweden, it is deadly to say you are not. But in both countries, there is a significant pay gap, increased rape and sexual assault, and a rise in violence against women.

According to one of the women in the feature, Swedish women felt they had done all they could do for themselves, so they began to explore the socialization and behavior of men, and that did not go over well with the male population. Therein also lies the difference between Swedish women and American women: Women in Sweden feel their collective consciousness has been sufficiently raised, and here in the U.S., it appears the collective consciousness has been lowered. To ground level.

Couple flees Smithtown for the tolerance of North Carolina

Lois and Mitchell Fuchs--she's African American and he's Jewish--have been forced out of their Long Island community by activist bigot neighbors who sent them notes with messages like "Where's Hitler when you need him?" One enlightened neighbor, upon hearing the family was leaving, said: "We had lovely Negro, um, African American neighbors to the left and right. I think all that was blown out of proportion."

The family is re-locating to North Carolina. Talk about not thinking it through. North Carolina, where they offer comfort and protection to terrorists, toss out church members who didn't vote for Bush, fire you if you are living with someone to whom you are not married, try to sue citizens who make public records requests, don't want to feed the poor if they're Catholic or Muslim, teach children to proselytize for Jesus, beat up gay and dark-skinned students, and teach school children about how good the slaves had it.

Justice Sunday returns, it's still illegal, and John Roberts supports it

Not one member of Congress asked for the removal of the tax-exempt status of Highview Baptist Church in April, and not one will step forward in August.

A person under consideration for a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States should be the first person to call for the cancellation of this event. By not doing so, John Roberts is telling us everything we need to know about his disregard for the separation of church and state. It is up to us to see to it that the Senate confronts Roberts with this disregard.

Friday cat blogging--TGIF edition

Thursday, August 11, 2005

You have to hand it to Tyson Foods

It's an equal opportunity abuser. One of the most horrific of the factory farm torture factories, Tyson is also known for the lack of safety in its plants. And now we learn that in Alabama, there are racially segregated bathrooms.

Everything about Tyson is obscene, but people just go on eating Tyson products. Because people don't want to know, and the media doesn't want to tell them.

Joe Cuff--Crawford, Texas entrepreneur

Is a really bright guy. He says the protesters "should voice their opinion and go home," instead of holding a rally when Bush is at the ranch. "It's just becoming a nuisance. All they want to do is see the press."

Oh, no, Joe. Don't be silly. They just want to be seen by the 705 residents of Crawford, and who wouldn't? No one who ever held a protest wanted to be seen by the American people.

Joe, you're killing me.

"Sex-saturated society" maybe not so bad after all

Msgr. Eugene Clark, rector of New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, has spoken against our "sex-saturated society," and the evidence indicates that he ought to know. A private investigator says he has videos of Clark and his long-time secretary, Laura DeFilippo, entering and leaving a motel in the Hamptoms. And DeFilippo's teenage daughter says she saw her mother, dressed in a satin teddy, sitting on Clark's lap.

DeFilippo is married, and Clark has taken celibacy vows, so--according to the Church--they are sinning all over the place, but, of course, it doesn't count.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

70% of Americans think presidential candidates should be "strongly religious"

68% believe in Satan.

It gets worse.

Sexism and sports

There are two excellent posts at Overly Analytical about sexism and sports. One reminds us that after all the protest about the Augusta Golf Club, nothing has changed. The other is about the tendency of some female sportscasters to trade their professionalism for a trip to Bimboland.

The hidden victims of religion gone amuck

It is easy to discern that science, progress, and freedom are the victims of fundamentalism. Just as it is easy to discern that women and children are victims of the Catholic Church or that women and gays are victims of several religious denominations.

People who like to think about and examine the world around them, using both facts and the power of reason, are victimized by fundamentalists, who call them "sinful" and "godless." Likewise, when women or GLBT individuals assert their identities, religious people of many types call them "unnatural" and "evil." And athiests have been called everything, including "unAmerican" (by George H. W. Bush, former leader of the land of the free), by church members.

But there is another group whose members have been hurt by the church, and since there is no name for this group with which I am truly comfortable, I will call on author Winifred Gallagher's name: neoagnostic. In her moving and eloquent book, Working On God, Gallagher describes neoagnostics as "well-educated skeptics who have inexplicable metaphysical feelings." She calls neoagnostics "...America's most subdued, neglected religious group, yet they are one of its most powerful. They are everywhere, especially at the top."

Gallagher is not referring to trendy woo-woo seekers who like to tell you how "spiritual" they are, but to sincere intellectual people who may reject religion but can neither reject nor ignore transcendent feelings, sensations, and occurrences. The neoagnostic (again, Gallagher's term, not mine) may walk alone on the path of mystery, or she may be able to plug in to some of the religions or churches that are oriented toward the mystical rather than the dogmatic. Either way, she is isolated from what is known as "American culture," and she is probably isolated from what is known as "American counter-culture."

The agnostic person--contrary to popular misconception--does not profess to not know whether there is such a thing as God (again, for lack of a better word), but to believe that there is not enough information available for her to know, which is a shade different. By contrast, the athiest says there is absolutely no such thing as God, yet the "God" rejected by the athiest is often the ridiculous one marketed by the churches--my point being that there are actually more agnostics than one might think. Gallagher's neoagnostics are the people who can't resist the strong urge to keep seeking and responding to information by one means or another.

When our culture sets up a dichotomy between the religious and the non-religious, we leave out thousands who do not identify with either camp. Like bisexual and bi-racial individuals, neoagnostics tend to maintain a low profile because they are not perceived as "enough" of one or the other camp. America is an either-or culture, and this construct is getting more rigid every day. Between the raging, homophobic, mentally disturbed fundamentalists (and their less toxic cousins, the passive mainstream churchgoers) and angry, science-driven, often church-victimized athiests, there isn't much room for people whose intellectualism includes an acceptance of the concept of mystery and all that might entail.

America needs to grow up. Housing the poor, feeding the hungry, educating the disadvantaged, and protecting the abused would be an appropriate calling of the church, rather than conducting a non-stop campaign of hatred toward gays, women, civil libertarians, science, and people with dark skin. And it would benefit the Left to acknowledge that many very intelligent people do not profess to have all the answers, but they are deeply attracted to the Questions.

Clint Black latest c&w stooge for Bush and Cheney

Following an "America Supports Your Freedom" Walk from the Pentagon to the National Mall on September 11, Clint Black will perform a concert to commemorate the event's 4th anniversary. According to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the march will remind people of "the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation."

Bring it on. I want to know about the sacrifices of George W. Bush, a man with fake military credentials and a work record consisting of--well, nothing. Unless you count being governor of Texas, and there probably was a certain amount of labor involved in making sure the Texas environment was properly destroyed within the given time limit.

"America Supports Your Freedom." Fortunately, I can't stand Clint Black, so I don't have to worry about missing a concert that has nothing to do with me. Because this America most certainly does not support my freedom. I am a woman. I am a liberal. I am a civil libertarian. I am a non-Christian. I am not wealthy.

And my freedom may indeed be threatened by the hatred stirred up by the ignorant, amoral embarrassment who is living in the White House.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Crawford Peace House needs donations

You may donate through PayPal.

Just in case someone reading this is naive enough to think the September 11 Commission was a fact-finding body...

Feast your eyes on this. If it makes you have doubts, then sit back and get a review.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers whistle-blower meets fate of all whistle-blowers

Looks like Bunny Greenhouse is about to bite the dust.

Carlyle Group under investigation

Thanks to the Belleville News Democrat for this tasty piece of news. Federal prosecutors investigating corruption in a state pension fund in Illinois are looking into the weighty fees paid by the Carlyle Group (imagine your surprise, I know) to the treasurer of the Republican National Committee.

The most disgusting piece of news I've seen today

Comes from The Disenchanted Forest. And Ol Cranky appropriately asks why these tough patriots aren't in Iraq, doing some real fighting. Well, I think they are doing what the young Republicans say they are doing--fighting the Culture War.

On "having it all"

The "having it all" concept has made me angry for years, and I have never seen it better exposed for the pile of garbage it is than at Stone Court.

Top 10 reasons Bush won't meet with Cindy Sheehan

10. It's hot out there.

9. The highway department has already cut the brush, and there's no decent photo op.

8. So many "Dukes of Hazard" little time.

7. Condi is coming over to do pushups.

6. Can't find my cowboy hat.

5. Code Pink--isn't that some queer thing?

4. Karl said don't do it.

3. Who does that bitch think she is, anyway?

2. Karen said don't you dare do it.

1. That name's still just too hard to remember--Cady? Tracy?...

Not all advertising is bad

Hell's Pizza in New Zealand has a nice billboard.

It took the mainstream news media a long, long time

But the Los Angles Times has finally come through.

NBC cancels interviews with Sheehan

According to a Texas source, The "Today Show" failed to show up for its scheduled interview with Cindy Sheehan. "Connected Coast to Coast" (this is the program whose producer and hosts think judcial appointments and the Bolton nomination are trivial matters) and "Hardball" cancelled. An argument can be made that Peter Jennings' death trumped the Crawford story. An argument can also be made that these are all NBC programs, and you can follow the dots from there.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Quote of the day

Air America host: "What do you say to people who say we have to finish the job we started in Iraq?"

Cindy Sheehan: "What's the job?"

It's not a Muslim thing

One frequently sees people on television who are frustrated that mainstream Muslims are doing nothing to condemn Islamic extremists. There are various schools of thought as to why this situation exists, but I do not have enough knowledge about the subject to analyze them.

However, it should be noted that no one ever gets on television to vent frustration that mainstream Christians are doing nothing to condemn Christian extremists. One sometimes wonders if there are any mainstream Christians left among us. Snowflakes, science-bashing, clinic bombings, exploitation of a dying woman, financial support for Eric Rudolph, legislation to bar gay citizens from possessing civil rights...where is the protest? I'm certainly not hearing it.

Cindy Sheehan awaiting arrest

From Daily Kos: David Swanson reports that Sheehan is to be arrested Thursday on a charge of being a threat to national security.

Do what you can, which includes sending letters and cards of support to her at Crawford Peace House, 9142 5th Street, Crawford, TX 76638-3037.

Abuse of gay prisoners alleged in Los Angeles

Pandagon has a disturbing story about the treatment of gay inmates in the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles.

Women, gays, and people of color have always been fair game in American prisons. One of the commenters on Jesse Taylor's blog post reminds us that in the mid-90's, Congress curtailed the rights of prisoners to sue for civil rights violations, making it easier for jailers to use humiliation and other types of verbal abuse against the incarcerated. And, as Taylor points out, now that we are in a how-dare-you-question-our-torture-of-prisoners state of mind, things can only get worse.

The ignorant among us are aghast that anyone would have any compassion ever for prisoners. There are several things wrong with their attitude:

It flies in the face of the Christianity that just about all of them profess all over the place.

There are people in prison in the U.S. who should not be there, in that they did not do anything illegal, or they did things of small conseqence. Lumping a guy with some marijuana in with a rapist and murderer is shallow thinking, to say the least.

The same people who want the lawbreakers to be put away may also be lawbreakers. How about, for instance, that 30-Oxycontin-a-day guy who screamed for all drug addicts to be hauled to prison and kept there? How about the hoardes of "Christian" law-and-order types who, as I write this, are illegally dumping trash or littering the highway, concealing unlicensed guns, letting their dogs run unleashed, driving while intoxicated, hitting their spouses or their kids' soccer coaches, smoking marijuana, chaining their dogs for hours on end, not declaring income on their tax returns, bribing judges, lying on their resumes, leaving the scene of an auto accident, beating up gay citizens, asking people like me to commit insurance fraud for them, or engaging in that old favorite--molesting children?

Missing person report

In case you were wondering whatever became of this guy, it looks like arse poetica has found him: He's driving a truck now.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

So, who am I--the language police? You bet your ass I am--someone has to be

Today, at the Acura Classic, an all-women's tennis tournament for an all-women's tour, ESPN commentator Tim Ryan said Akiko Morigami was Ai Sugiyama's "countryman."

Here it is, the 21st Century, and blah-blah-blah prize money, blah-blah-blah crowds, blah-blah-blah sports legends. But it doesn't really mean anything if we insist on calling women men.

Why would they want to?

"...residents living in nearby apartments between Dooley and Ruth Wall Roads were warned not to look out of their windows Wednesday...."

During a time of war, words of wisdom for America

"Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."

"We need to counter the shockwave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates."

"People say, how can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil? You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you."

"I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."

"Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction."

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

George W. Bush

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Women who flirt and show cleavage denied raises and promotions

A Tulane University study has concluded that women who send flirtatious emails, display their cleavage, cross their legs provacatively, and encouarage male co-workers to touch them receive fewer pay raises and promotions than women who do not practice sexual behaviors in the workplace.

The women in the study ranged in age from mid-20's to 60.

CIA blocks publication of book

Former CIA officer Gary Berntsen resigned from the CIA so that he could write a book about Osama bin Laden's escape from the mountains of Tora Bora. He has done just that, but the CIA is blocking the book's publication, and--according to Berntsen--is violating its own deadlines to do so.

Facts are good, but death, destruction, and increased terrorism are better

Do you think it's wearing those hats that makes them so damned stupid?

Cindy Sheehan is in Crawford

Along with a number of peace groups, the Sheriff's Department, and the Secret Service. Here is an update.

On the "dangerous" detainees at Guantanamo

Thanks to Patriot Daily for this piece from Think Progress, which does a great job of exposing the massive hypocrisy of the Bush administration regarding the detainees at Guantanamo.

The summer garden--yet another antique canna

Canna musifolia, better known as the "banana canna," features very small flowers
The reason to grow it, however, is for its height (it can reach 15 feet) and its banana-like leaves

Your best read for the weekend

If you're looking for a little something to make you laugh out loud and pick up your day, I have it. John Snid, the gay guy who runs Refuge, the camp that makes gay people not gay anymore, recounts his own story in what has to be the most unintentionally hilarious thing I've read in a while.

Here are some choice excerpts to whet your appetite:

How would I fit in at the retreat? I wondered anxiously. Fear of all fears, I have to share a hotel room with three other guys. What if they knew that I was coming away from a homosexual relationship? During my first night in a double bed with one of them, I felt like a mummy wrapped up in a bundle of insecurities. I did not sleep a wink for fear that I might bump into him in my sleep.

After dating several women, one gal began paying special attention to me. Vileen would come to my house to watch me mow the lawn.

"Misogyny." What was that? I found out very quickly that it meant "a fear or hatred of women." The hurts, rejections, and difficulties of past relationships with women came to a head with my new wife. Soon I realized that I was feeling a deep anger toward her that I didn't understand. My critical heart toward her was unfounded in anything she had done. She was kind, considerate, loving. She really was not doing anything wrong to merit my response. Where was all this coming from?

I am not making this stuff up. Here is the whole thing, so you, too, can enjoy.

48% of Americans too stupid to live

Thanks to those Tennessee Guerilla Women for pointing me toward this new poll, which indicates that 48% of Americans think Bush is honest. I guess I'm one of those half-empty people, but I don't see this as something to sing about.

Half of America thinks Bush is honest.

The same Bush who committed insider trading before he was elected. The same Bush who covered John McCain (for whom I have no sympathy) with garbage during the South Carolina primary. The same Bush whose Texas friend moved to Virginia, bought the Florida voter rolls, and tampered with them before the Florida primary.

The same Bush who has told so many lies we need a calculator to keep up with them.

The same Bush who has surrounded himself with traitors, liars, conspirators, and human rights violators.

The same Bush who vows to protect America, but whose pals have included both the Taliban and the House of Saud.

I would love to invite 48% of Americans over and sell them that proverbial piece of Florida swampland, complete with Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Culture of Life is making me crazy

In the last 24 hours, there has been a news report about a man who threw his teenage son's 5-month-old puppy off a 5-story balcony, and one about a woman (who works with young children) who clubbed her kitten to death because she couldn't afford to take it to the vet for a minor injury.

These events sound shocking, but they are fairly common. Even in municipalities where there are meaningful animal abuse laws, judges and police officers often find ways around them. Until there is strong public outrage, there will be either weak laws or good laws that are not enforced.

But even when there is outrage--as I'm sure there will be against these two latest perpetrators--the same people who are so shocked are usually participating actively as consumers in factory farm crimes in which millions of animals are tortured, or are still buying products tested on horribly treated lab animals.

Years ago, one of the so-called voodoo shops in New Orleans kept cages of chickens out on the sidewalk because some practitioners wanted chicken blood. The public was outraged, partly because the chickens were kind of crowded in the cage, but mostly because their fate was to be killed for a ritual. Yet those same people went to the grocery store and bought chickens who had been much more tightly crowded and also treated with extreme cruelty. So, torture and brutally slaughter a chicken for your dinner--okay; kill a chicken for a ritual--not okay.

Puppies, kittens, and young blonde girls (I suppose I should throw in "brain-dead women") get public sympathy when they are abused, go missing, or are good objects for exploitation. That kind of superficial "compassion" is useless, for it does not lead to change. A kitten matters (well, as long as it isn't a lab kitten), but a chicken doesn't. A little blonde girl matters, but a little black boy doesn't. A fetus is something to cherish, but an abused child can be ignored and left to suffer.

I am beyond being sad or being confused about this culture. I'm just in that kind of permanent state of shock that makes me want to escape to Neverland, only I'm afraid of finding out that Tinkerbell has been handcuffed and tasered.

A fresh concept--sexism benefits women

This morning, I was in a discussion about sexism in sports with a group of people who were, for the most part, younger than I. They had no concept of any sexism in women's athletics. In fact, they thought the attractive young women and girls were "lucky" because they could make so much money from endorsements. And they are not being exploited. And women should stop whining. One even went so far as to say that sexism benefits women.

Can you imagine if someone said that racism benefits people of color? Inasmuch as many people are still extremely racist, they at least would not say something that outrageous. But when it comes to women, there is some kind of twisted logic that says that oppression and exploitation are good things. We are back to pedestal thinking, of course--did we ever really leave it?--and the highly original idea that women should make money off of their looks and be thankful.

It seems that feminists speak a foreign language. White male privilege is so much a part of the national psyche that any suggestion of another paradigm for our social structure is not only rejected, it is literally incomprehensible. What in hell happened to the daughters of the Second Wave? And the sons, for that matter.

Friday cat blogging--guest edition

This is my friend's cat Greta. Years ago, she appeared at our house as a stray and wanted to move right in. We couldn't keep her, so we found her a home.
And here is her constant companion, Raquel

The Sibel Edmonds case--why doesn't anyone care?

Of all the shocking stories that the news media has either ignored or completely distorted, none is as potentially combustible as that of FBI whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds. Now that the Vanity Fair story is coming out, some bloggers are talking about her again, and it is disturbing to learn how many people--including scores of liberals--have no idea who she is. I have never stopped talking about her because I suspect that the government is more desperate to keep her quiet than most people can imagine.

If you still have not read her letter to Thomas Kean, please do so, though bear in mind that it omits some important things. A search of DED Space will also provide a history of the government's continuing suppression of her testimony. For reasons that I do not understand, the blogosphere has never become especially involved with the Sibel Edmonds case, despite bloggers' continuing preoccupation with September 11.

The Sibel Edmonds tapes very likely provide the pathway to information that is essential for all Americans to know, and that is not pretty.

This story doesn't have a happy ending

Remember the woman in Washington who was denied a divorce from a spouse abuser because she was pregnant? Well, she was just denied it again.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The wisdom of James Dobson

From the manual, How to Raise a Child, is the account of how to get a 12-pound dog to sleep in his crate:

That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!

On "spanking" children:

It is not necessary to beat the child into submission; a little bit of pain goes a long way for a young child. However, the spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely.

On how long to "spank" a child:

Yes, I believe there should be a limit. As long as the tears represent a genuine release of emotion, they should be permitted to fall. But crying quickly changes from inner sobbing to an expression of protest... Real crying usually lasts two minutes or less but may continue for five. After that point, the child is merely complaining, and the change can be recognized in the tone and intensity of his voice. I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears. In younger children, crying can easily be stopped by getting them interested in something else.

So here is the person who I believe to be the biggest well-known monster in America, and he is upset by embryonic stem cell research. Yesterday, Dobson likened stem cell research to the experiments conducted by Nazis during the Holocaust.