Saturday, December 31, 2005

Abramoff linked to U.S. Family Network--in a big way

Via The Carpetbagger Report comes news from The Washington Post that Tom DeLay's U.S. Family Network, already known for receiving $500,000 illegally from the National Republic Congressional Committee, was funded almost entirely by corporations linked to...guess who? Jack Abramoff, of course.

Do "nice" guys finish last?

Some of wish they would just finish. Period.

Amanda encounters a whiny "nice" guy who is all bent out of shape because women don't respond appropriately to his procurement techniques. Young women who think young men should pay for their dates need a serious dose of consciousness-raising, and why the hell aren't they getting it from their mothers? And their fathers. Young men who think paying for dates is "nice" and therefore entitles them to ownership of a young woman's social life and sexual decisions are prehistoric freaks who have been raised by the same mothers and fathers who forgot to tell their daughters that prostitution is a career choice, not a social obligation.

The 50's were terrible half a century ago; re-living them is a nightmare.

Please make this your must-read for the week

From American Street comes a post of utmost importance to anyone who cares what is really going on: "What are these lobbyists doing in Iraq?" Don't miss it.

I needed a good laugh

And I got it, from Bring It On, via Tennessee Guerilla Women.

Saturday raccoon blogging

It is very unusual to see a raccoon during the day;
this one was hiding under some Katrina debris in a ditch

It occasionally came out to stare back at us

With all the dogs (including a coon dog) around, and with all
the neighborhood kids passing by, we were worried, and decided
to tempt it out with some food and lure it to our wooded back yard
(which is not quite so wooded after Katrina)

Here it is, crossing the street, finally, only to follow me
to our back door and try to come into our house;
Roxie got a good look at it from high on her cat tree,
and when it toured our front porch, Velma got a good view
of it through our dining room window

Friday, December 30, 2005

I'm never sure what century we're in

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, after hearing a number of speakers, most of them women, thanked the "spokesmen" for their contribution. I appreciate what he's doing for New Orleans, but not what he did to the women on the panel.

Things that pleased me in 2005

(It wasn't all bad.)

Cindy Sheehan's reminder to America that when our elected officials are spineless, ordinary citizens can still exhibit courage

My attendance at the last half of the Family Circle Cup--the world's largest all-women's tennis tournament--near Charleston

The decision of a second major managed care company to dispense with the dreaded periodic paperwork

My new duties blogging for MoJo Blog

Hearing that Tom DeLay had been indicted

Martina Hingis's announcement that she is returning to the WTA tour (though it does make me anxious)

Our spring garden's immense beauty

Receiving so many generous offers of housing when we evacuated because of Katrina

Irina Slutskaya
's victory at the Women's World Figure Skating Championships. Slutskaya's journey to her second gold medal is an astounding one, ignored by the sports media and by sports fans--never mind athletics, it is simply an amazing story

Kim Clijsters' winning her first Grand Slam--finally, and Amelie Mauresmo's winning the WTA Tour Championships

The saving of Title IX by the U.S. Supreme Court, and then--a few months later--the strengthening of Title IX by that same court

John Conyers' emergence as a non-Kool-Aid drinking, non-denying, outraged elected official who actually represents me

Reading some of my poems on the NPR program, "Theme and Variations," and having some selected to be read on Martha Stewart Living Radio's "The Naturalist's Datebook"--hardly huge literary honors, but nice

Meeting two of my favorite bloggers

And most of all: Spending two weeks in Paris in the fall, easily the best two weeks of the year

"Did you take your dogs with you?" indeed

Ken Foster's editorial in today's Times-Picayune is worth reading.

Friday cat blogging--post-Santa edition

Velma, in cautiously Tortie fashion, peaks from behind the tree
to make sure there are no Fed Ex trucks or sleighs around

Roxie plays with a new toy mouse, which is her very favorite
thing to do; she stashes them under the sofa, the washing machine,
and the refrigerator

Velma gets down to business with a present

Roxie plays with her sister's new feather wand

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I write of Katrina

Most of my readers probably do not know that I am a columnist for Moondance. My latest column is on Katrina.

Things that really ticked me off in 2005

Ronald Reagan's being named the "Greatest American"--that my fellow citizens gave such an honor to an imperialistic, racist, misogynist, warmongering, murdering snake oil salesman made me sick. But if 25% of Russians would vote for Stalin again, I suppose Reagan-worship can be put into perspective.

The circus otherwise known as the death of Terri Schiavo

The trashing of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco in order to take the heat off of Chertoff, Bush, and Brown--the sad thing is that it worked.

The loss of Susan Sontag, Molly Yard, Andrea Dworkin, Marla Ruzicka, Arthur Miller, Teresa Wright, Anne Bancroft, Rosa Parks, Eugene McCarthy, Richard Pryor, and Mitch Hedberg

The final destruction of Sibel Edmonds' lawsuit against the Department of Justice--with it went that silly entity about which Americans care so little: the truth.

My neighbors, as usual, with their roaming dogs, speeding cars, and right-wing yard signs

Lindsay Davenport's failure to win a Grand Slam tournament

America's continuing, enthusiastic support of the torturous hell known as factory farming, as well as its companion entity, the laboratory animal testing industry

The loss of September--none of us down here knows where it went

The news media's ignoring the hundreds of victims of the Guatemala mudslides

My prolonged case of writer's block

The further destruction of American feminism

The idiots that kept cutting the phone cables every time they were repaired after the hurricane hit

Mariah Carey's comeback

Seeing New Orleans washed away while my government allowed its citizens and their companion animals to drown and starve

The loss of three vases and my only piece of Majolica pottery--most of them gifts--to the incorrigible force of nature known as Roxie

The discovery that the Army Corps of Engineers built the New Orleans levees out of toothpicks and modeling clay

And most of all: The news media's and most of Congress's ignoring stacks of solid shocking evidence that the Ohio election was stolen

These Christmas cookies are making me sick

The National Security Agency's website has been illegally placing permanent cookies on visitors' computers, a practice that has ended now that a privacy activist has complained, leading to an AP investigation.

The NSA has acknowledged its mistake, saying that the permanent cookies--"permanent" in that they did not expire until 2035, as opposed to when users close their web browsers--resulted from a recent software upgrade.

Stopped clock theory proven again

There are few organizations I am more frightened of than the New Orleans Police Department, yet I find myself in the strange position of having something good to say about it. I learned today that the NOPD does not use tasers.

Anyone wishing to comment about how easily its members use guns...I know, I know. But not using tasers because of safety concerns is still a good thing.

A thing that bothers me about C-Span

On "Washington Journal," there are three call-in lines--Democrat, Republican, and Independent. What about the rest of us? It should be Democrat, Republican, and Other. By using the current designations, C-Span dismisses third parties.

This morning, the invitation to call was especially disturbing: The topic was post-election Iraq, and the invitation was: "Those who support Bush's war policies, call in on the Republican line...etc." The implication, of course, was that all Republicans support Bush's war policies, which they clearly do not.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

WTA season begins in 5 days!

January 2 marks the beginning of the 2006 WTA season, when competition begins at Mondial (formerly Uncle Toby's) Australian Women's Hardcourts, a Tier III tournament held at Gold Coast, Australia. The defending champion is one of my favorites, Patty Schnyder of Switzerland, but the bigger news from Switzerland is that the great Martina Hingis will be there, making her first appearance on the tour in three years. Hingis retired in 2002 because of recurring foot injuries, and no one knows if her feet will hold up, but she is optimistic.

Many think that Hingis will wipe out early in her first tournaments; she has not played tournament tennis in a long time, with the exception of World Team Tennis. Schnyder reports that Hingis has not lost her feel for the ball and her exceptional technique, and that she seems fitter than she was before. This is good news because fitness was always one of Hingis's weak points, along with her serve. It is hard to predict what will happen; I think it will take a few tournaments for Hingis to get her rhythm going, but after that, I'm inclined to think she can seriously compete. I hope so. It just hasn't been the same since she left the tour. So-called "power tennis" is fine, but nothing beats watching Hingis's point construction. Some think she is the cleverest player in the game's history.

Maria Sharapova, haunted last season by a pectoral injury, has pulled out of the Gold Coast tournament because of a shoulder injury. The 2004 Wimbledon champion did not win a Grand Slam this year, and tennis fans will be watching to see if she can win one in 2006.

And speaking of Grand Slams, it's probably now or never for world number one Lindsay Davenport. Davenport hasn't won a Slam since 1999, and she is obviously edging toward retirement. She was beating Sharapova in the 2004 Wimbledon semifinals, then, after a rain break, her game unraveled. It turned out that she was going through a career crisis right in the middle of the tournament. She dusted herself off, went on an incredible hardcourt tear, and looked like a cinch to win the 2004 U.S. Open, but was injured during her semifinal with Svetlana Kuznetsova, who went on to win the Open.

Her luck was no better at the beginning of the next season. She reached the finals of the Australian Open, and then kind of went to pieces, easily giving Serena Williams the win. I thought it was head stuff until I thought about the incredible Australian heat, and the fact that she had played doubles all the way to the finals, too. She was exhausted. When she got to Wimbledon, she lost one of the great thriller finals of all time to Venus Williams. It was heartbreaking to Davenport and her thousands of fans. At the U.S. Open, she lost her quarterfinal match to Elena Dementieva by simply not being focused throughout the whole thing.

Mary Pierce is also nearing the end of her career. Like Davenport, she reached two Grand Slam finals this year. The two-time Slam winner outplayed defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne all the way through the French Open, then lost miserably in the final, then lost her U.S. Open final to Kim Clijsters. Pierce was also in the final of the WTA Tour Championships, but lost to Amelie Mauresmo.

Clijsters, whose U.S. Open win marked her fifth time to reach a Grand Slam final, looks good for this season, which she says will be her last, but we are hoping she has a change of heart. Having overcome a terrible injury, she is playing extremely well and is quite fit. Henin-Hardenne, who came back after a debilitating illness, is still, in my opinion, the best player on the tour, but her 2005 comeback did not include a good serve, and until she gets her serve back, she will not dominate. I looked for Henin-Hardenne to become a multiple Slam winner of the Navratilova/Graf variety, but now I am stepping back to see if she can regain her former superiority. I hope she does.

The bad news is that Australia's Alicia Molik's attempt to return to the tour following a serious ear infection did not work out. The infection has made her so ill that she has dropped out of tournament play indefinitely. All of her fans--and who could possibly not be her fan?--wish her a full recovery. Molik worked for years to become an elite player, and when she finally reached her goal at the age of 24, she got to enjoy one good season before becoming ill.

We are all hoping to see Jennifer Capriati soon. Capriati was out the entire 2005 season because of a shoulder injury. Chanda Rubin, the Louisianian whose injuries have kept her from having the brilliant career she seemed destined to have, is returning soon, after having suffered yet another serious injury that kept her out most of the season. And former world number four Elena Dokic, whose ranking has fallen off the face of the earth, is back, playing once again for Australia, and hoping to regain her former place on the tour. Dokic is one of many WTA players whose career has suffered because of the crazy tennis father syndrome.

Now that she has won the WTA Tour Championships, Amelie Mauresmo may have gained the confidence she has so badly needed. Mauresmo is a brilliant and graceful player who should have won a Slam by now, and here's hoping this is her year. Nadia Petrova, once the hope of Russia but slow to develop, is also looking better. Anastasia Myskina, feeling better now that her sick mother is better, should also have a good season. Her countrywomen, Kuznetsova and Dementieva, I'm not so sure about.

Who will break through this year? It's hard to predict. Last year, many thought Tatiana Golovin would, but she stalled, partly because of recurring foot injuries. Ana Ivanovich did well, but not as well as some hoped; this may be her year. Jelena Jankovic was also a breakthrough hope last year, but not much came of the prediction. I think that if anyone is going to break through, it is Nicole Vaidisova, whose game has improved a lot lately, and who is champion material, though not on all surfaces. Look, too, for Sania Mirza to possibly break through, and keep an eye on Anna-Lena Groenefeld. Players I hope do well this year (aside from my top favorites--Davenport, Mauresmo, Schnyder, and Hingis) are Anabel Medina-Garrigues, Petrova, Elena Bovina, and Shuai Peng.

Schnyder, by the way, will begin the 2006 season as world number six, her highest career ranking.

New Orleans newspaper takes offensive tone toward those who stayed with pets during Katrina

Yesterday's lead story in the Times-Picayune was about the people who chose to stay behind during Hurricane Katrina--those who ignored pleas for them to be rescued. Though many of these people were simply stubborn, a large number of them stayed because the government refused to rescue their pets, yet the Times-Picayune writer lumps them all in together as people who made a choice not to go to safety.

Labelling these people as citizens who "chose" to stay and die reflects the same immoral, offensive attitude taken by the government in its refusal to rescue companion animals.

So much for wish lists

I sure didn't do very well in 2005.

Stevenson Palfi dead--another Katrina victim

I was shocked to read this morning that filmmaker Stevenson Palfi had killed himself on December 14 out of despair over his post-Katrina losses. Palfi, who is best known for his documentary, Piano Players Rarely Ever Play Together, lost almost all of his personal and professional possesions when his house was flooded with eight feet of water.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Raw Story confirms NSA spying on UN Security Council members

In breaking news, The Raw Story confirms that in 2003, former National Security Advisor and now-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice authorized the NSA to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor the private emails of members of the United Nations Security Council. The spying was done to determine how Security Council members would vote on U.N. Resolution 1441, which stated Iraq had failed to get rid of weapons of mass destruction.

According to The Raw Story, Rice authorized the spying at the request of George W. Bush, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also played a role in the spying strategy. On the eve of the Iraq war, The Observer reported the spying, but the report was given little coverage in the American news media, and was soon forgotten altogether.

Pentagon has yet to craft a policy to bar human trafficking

It has been three years since George W. Bush announced his "zero tolerance" of human trafficking by overseas contractors, and two years since Congress backed zero tolerance up with law. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act authorized more than $2 million to combat human traffickiing, including women and girls forced into prostitution.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Last abortion clinic in Mississippi facing obstacles

In the entire state of Mississippi, there is only one clinic where abortions are performed, and it is in trouble. The Jackson Women's Health Organization is waiting to hear whether it will be granted a new state certification so that it may continue offering its full range of procedures.

This year, Mississippi banned early second trimester abortions in facilities that did not have ambulatory surgical center standards, a move which made the clinic in Jackson ineligible to apply for a license. A federal judge dispensed with the new law, but at the governor's urging, the legistlature passed a second law that would make the Jackson Women's Health Organization elibible to apply. However, the clinic has not yet met all of the criteria, and there is a question as to whether the state will grant it a provisional license while final compliance details are worked out.

Mississippi anti-choice activist Terri Herring wants the state to require a doctor or doctor's assistant to offer women an opportunity to view ultrasound imaging of their fetuses, and to listen to the fetal heartbeat at least twenty-four hours before an abortion procedure takes place.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Welcome back, Pseudo-Adrienne

So it turns out

He was lying. Which really infuriates me, because this kind of thing really has happened to a number of Americans, and we don't need to have someone lie about it.

Look back at your own risk

Media Matters for America's Most Outrageous Statements of 2005.

Post-Katrina rape numbers now believed to be higher than reported

Following the outrageous media reports of numerous murders in and around the Superdome, New Orleans officials were quick to correct the misconception that there was a serious crime spree taking place after Katrina hit the city. Now, it appears that in at least one category, the numbers may be high. The report of four rapes is being looked at again, and there is one estimate that puts the number at forty so far.

New Orleans singer Charmaine Neville was raped at a school shelter, and she has come forward to talk about it, in the hope of encouraging other rape victims to speak up.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A merry Christmas, in spite of myself

Everything today has gone well--so far. But it has been like a sitcom over here for the last few days.

Our neighbors were coming over on Friday night, so Thursday evening, I made some snacks. I roasted some Mexican tomatoes, made an olivata, and made a spread with cream cheese substitute, chives, walnuts, and pomegranate arils. Tasty.

But where to put all these things so roving felines wouldn't get to them? Even though the bowls were covered, I thought I should put them safely away. The microwave is my favorite storage place, but I couldn't get everything in there, so I put a couple of the bowls in the oven.

Friday evening, I realized we were running out of tea cakes, so I decided to make some more. I turned the oven on to heat it, and you know the rest. When I opened it to put the cookie sheet in, I saw two blue globs that used to be plastic bowls. It was around 6:00, and the neighbors were coming over at 7:00. While my husband scraped melted plastic out of the oven, I went into some kind of primitive Martha Stewart mode, trying to stay calm, beat the clock, and replace the snacks. Fortunately, the roasted tomatoes were stored in the microwave. I found a jar of calimata olives, got out the garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts, and made a second--much stronger--olivata. It took awhile because of the pits in the olives.

I had nothing else that resembled cream cheese, and I had no more walnuts, but I found some sour cream substitute, some more chives, and some more arils, so there was another spread made within moments. Also working on adrenalin, my husband got the oven functioning, and I managed to bake the tea cakes. Then we lit the candles, put on some music, and in walked the neighbors.

Yesterday, I decided to get as much of the Christmas cooking out of the way as possible. I made whole wheat muffins and put them in the oven. While they were baking, I found Roxie (see above) in the bedroom, poking around near an electrical outlet. Suddenly, she ran by with a lizard in her mouth. I chased her into the living room, with instructions to "drop that lizard!" She did. I couldn't get to Velma, but I grabbed Roxie to shut her in the bedroom. Only my muffins were going to burn, so I galloped into the kitchen, tabby cat under my arm, and with the other hand, got a potholder and pulled the muffins out.

I then ran with Roxie to the bedroom, shut her in, and returned to the living room, where my husband had overturned the armchair under which the lizard had run. To our amazement, it didn't move, so I was able to grab it and take it outside. Somewhere in that span of time, I managed to get a pot of lentil soup on, so we had lentil soup and whole wheat muffins, and I was very tired.

So far today there have been no mishaps, but the day is young.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The indoor Christmas garden--part 3

Christmas cactus blooms in the bay window

Hyacinth forcing vases
I use them and a number of jam jars for forcing the hyacinths,
which will be ready tomorrow for removal from their long chill

Here is a serious and amazing hyacinth forcing vase collection

Friday, December 23, 2005

Refrigerator Town

Chris Rose's October 30 column from the New Orleans Times-Picayune. I just learned of it today.

The indoor Christmas garden--part 2

Fresh pine is wrapped around the dining room chandelier...

Draped across the hall tree...

And wrapped around the living room ceiling fan blades

There is also a wreath of fresh greens on the front door, and a pine Christmas tree

The plight of Laurel Hester

Pam Spaulding at Pandagon has written about Laurel Hester, the New Jersey terminally ill police officer whose life partner cannot get her pension because of the good Christian bigots on the Ocean County Board of Freeholders (note that Joseph H. Vicari gets extra credit for compassion--he has been honored by the March of Dimes, an organization that blatantly abuses so many animals it is known as the "March of Crimes").

Michael Jensen of The Big Gay Picture interviewed Hester.

Friday cat blogging--cozy Christmas edition

Our bed got trashed (it wasn't our fault!),
so we have this new, plush, comfy bed

We needed to size up, anyway...

Because Velma has grown into such a large cat

Now there is plenty of room for both of us

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The indoor Christmas garden

H. 'Blushing Bride' blooms near the fireplace;
we grow many different types of amaryllis

Paperwhites grow in a Victorian Father Christmas tin

Roxie and Velma like this Victorian freize of cats carrying plum puddings; you can see the amaryllis H. 'Susan' about to open

Close-up of one of the Victorian cats

Women not wearing headscarves blamed for tsunami

No kidding.

As if being blamed and shamed for the disaster were not enough, we now know that an inordinate number of women died in the tsunami because their required cumbersome clothing kept them from escaping in a timely fashion.

Boy wears kilt to school dance and is told to put on pants

A student in Jackson, Missouri decided to honor his Scottish heritage by wearing a kilt to his high schoool dance, but when he arrived, the principal told him to put on a pair of pants. This is the latest in a series of "no kilts allowed" actions by principals at school dances across the country.

A southeast Louisiana student told me that at her school, students are not allowed to attend the dances unless they have dates. That, of course, is a lawsuit waiting to happen, but no one at the school has filed one, to my dismay. And if one of them should obey the rule and bring a date of the same gender, I can only imagine how that would turn out.

Dear "Liberals"...

You know how you feel when conservatives make derisive remarks about progressive ideas like work safety, fair trade, prisoners' rights, universal healthcare, and environmental controls?

Well, that's how some of us feel when you make derisive remarks about feminism.

That's how we feel when you make derisive remarks about animal liberation.

That's how we feel when you want gays to shut up about gay marriage.

It seems that liberals now have a menu, and choose which issues are deserving of a campaign for peace and justice and which are not. Fed up with women's "demands"? Off the list. Don't want to give up your factory farm burgers and animal-tested cosmetics? Off the list. Irritated with "gay this, gay that"? Off the list.

The Democratic Party gave up on liberal values a long time ago in exchange for a corporate-run America and silence about right-wing crimes against the nation. This is one of the many reasons I am no longer a Democrat. Conservatives do not pick and choose their issues, but wage war on behalf of all of them. Pity they have liberals helping them with some of their campaigns.

Americans are not alone in their insanity

25% of Russians recently polled said they would vote for Stalin if he were alive today. And to celebrate his birthday, yet another statue of him was unveiled.

Every day, in every way

It's feeling more like Nixon. Only it still feels like Reagan, too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Kansas Supreme Court does the right thing

I'm late in reporting this, but Matthew Limon is free.

Good news from New Orleans

For the second time in two years, a lawsuit seeking to end New Orleans' domestic partner registry and provision of health coverage for gay partners of municipal employees has been thrown out of court. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a Civil District Court decision to dismiss the case, which had been brought by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of a six of its New Orleans members.

The Civil District Court's decision was based on the ADF's not being able to show that the arrangement in any way affected them or their property.

Notes allege "FEMA is not a response agency for disasters"

Notes from a meeting, released yesterday by a union representative for federal emergency workers, say that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told employees that changes planned after Katrina were "partially a perception ploy to make outsiders feel like we've actually made changes for the better."

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Why are there so few good Christmas movies?

Though there are a few I can watch and enjoy--Christmas in Connecticut (the original, obviously), Desk Set (a sort-of Christmas movie, and the only one of the wretched Hepburn/Tracy films in which she doesn't have to learn to be submissive to the man)--there are only a few Christmas movies I really, really like: the Alistair Sims version of A Christmas Carol, of course, Miracle on 34th Street, Meet Me in St. Louis (which isn't really a Christmas movie), The Man Who Came to Dinner, and my new favorite, Love, Actually.

I suppose it's difficult to make a film about Christmas that isn't cloying and offensive or overtly religious. When I look at the list above, I am am struck by the fact that, with the exception of the sumblimely silly Love, Actually, all of the films were made a long time ago by directors who knew how to weave holiday themes through great stories, or how to turn already great stories or plays into great films. Such directors exist today, but they do not touch Christmas.

For those of you who would like a red Christmas, the Encore Channel is presenting "A Very Quentin Christmas" on December 25.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Where I come from, we call it lying

Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires--a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.
George W. Bush

Flee the Fur Ho

Now, this is a game I can get into.

It's official

As a member of PETA, I am now a terrorist suspect. But I can't say I'm surprised. We knew about this sort of thing months ago.

Ah, Kansas...

Lawrence is the only liberal oasis left in Kansas, so leave it to one of the braindead Kansas nutcakes to desecrate it. From feministing comes news of a holiday tree that I suppose one could say celebrates the baby Jesus in a unique way: It's decorated with pink and blue stockings stuffed with plastic fetuses.

Some holiday photos

Our new cow ornament, a gift from our cow-loving friend

My car

Plenty of post-Katrina updates for your holiday reading pleasure

Up until three weeks ago, the contractor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was hauling off all post-Katrina debris. Now, suddenly, out of nowhere, the Corps has announced that debris from vacant lots cannot be hauled away, leaving the town of Mandeville, Louisiana with 2,500 tons of debris in one of its subdivisions. The cost for hauling it away is about $100,000.

New Orleans' City Park has decided not to allow first-responder trailers on its property because it doesn't want to give the impression that the park is a housing site. Makes sense--the hundreds of thousands of tourists in beautiful New Orelans certainly don't want to see trailers.

And various citizens whose neighborhoods are more or less intact do not want any trailers in their neighborhoods, either. You may recall that Mayor Nagin got in trouble for putting trailer parks in playgrounds, an act for which he apologized. However, he has since decided he does not have to consult with the City Council about trailer locations, after all.

Two lawsuits have been filed against Louisiana's secretary of state and governor because of their decision to delay elections in the New Orleans area. It took the state weeks to convince FEMA to provide the names and addresses of residents living outside the state so that they could cast absentee ballots, and now proponents of a timely election want all New Orleans area citizens to vote by mail.

The Charity Hospital system has laid off 2,000 employees. Charity is Louisiana's flagship teaching facility.

The Baker Bill, which would have created the Louisiana Recovery Corporation, failed in Congress.

And over the weekend, Louisiana citizens turned out in droves to buy washing machines, refrigerators, stereo equipment, and televisions during the three-day state sales tax holiday.

Perhaps liberals have bad memories

As dangerous and destructive and embarrassing as Bush is, I have had these feelings of fear and disgust before--during the presidencies (and at least they were, as far as I know, legitimate presidencies) of both Nixon and Reagan. Here's a news flash for those with short memories: Nixon spied on citizens. A lot. He also got away with it. Americans who supported the Vietnam war thought it was fine and dandy for him to spy on citizens. To this day, they buy the lies his administration told about Jane Fonda. Trashing people who do not support whatever crazy-ass war we are fighting is a tactic taken right out of the Nixon playbook.

Reagan, as I have noted many times, based his presidency on racism, misogyny, fear-mongering, imperialism, and an appeal to the poor, persecuted white male. He is now considered the "Greatest American."

There is not much room for liberalism--and no room at all for the progressive movement--in American government. Carter sold out the women's movement, Clinton sold out the gay rights movement. We do not ever have "friends" in the White House, but it is becoming more and more common for us to have enemies of the Constitution living there. There is no doubt in my mind that the current occupant stole two elections, but no one even talks about that.

Stealing elections is even worse than spying on citizens, if one has to make a distinction. Americans, as a whole, do not care. Steal the election, spy on the people next door, send soldiers to their deaths for Halliburton, teach children sexist, dangerous nonsense in the schools, poison the air and the water, let New Orleanians drown and then blame them for it.

If Americans cared, none of this would have happened.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Dear Louisiana parents who voted for Bush

Please be aware that the country of France, as part of its program to aid Katrina victims, is donating $1 million to Louisiana schools. If you ever ordered Freedom Fries or if you have one of those anti-French bumper stickers on your SUV, you cannot, in good conscience, accept this donation. Go straight to your child's school, if it is one of the beneficiaries, and pay back the amount of money donated by the French government. You cannot take a handout from the enemy, okay?

How the Department of Homeland Security keeps you safe

Thanks to both Geeky Mom and Delegar, I now know about this, and when does it end? Geeky Mom wants to know why we haven't rioted. (Hell, I'm still trying to figure out why all hell didn't break loose when Jimmy Carter cut the Second Wave off at the knees, leaving the movement vulnerable for Reagan to kick it to death. Now that feminism isn't important, why should we think that anything else of value is?)

What happened to the Dartmouth student is what has happened to many Americans who just happened to be reading the wrong book, constructing the wrong art show, photographing the wrong building. Note that all of these activities fall under the category of "art and literature." If you are shopping at Wal-Mart, going to the Baptist Church, or buying a These Colors Don't Run bumper sticker, no one is going to pay a call on you.

Oh, dear. I've just gone an made an "elitist" statement.

Chinese government continues to brutalize Falun Gong practitioners

In the latest reported incident of the Chinese government's crackdown on its citizens who practice Falon Gong, two women in Hebei Province were beaten, stunned on the breasts with a stun baton, and raped by police officers. Other female detainees report that they have been stripped naked, beaten, kicked in the breasts and genitalia, raped, and subjected to vaginal probes with stun batons. Pregnant women and nursing mothers have reported similar treatment by the Chinese police.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Elvis returns to Louisiana for the holidays

I'll have a blue roof Christmas without you
I'll be too stressed to be thinking about you
Decorations and lights that fill our memories
Won't be the same dear, since I lost all my trees

And when the New Orleans rain starts fallin'
It's that elusive adjuster I'm callin'
You'll be doin' alright
With your roof on real tight
But I'll have a blue roof Christmas

George W. Bush explains it all

He just told a reporter that secret spying on Americans is necessary because times have changed, and people change their phone numbers.

Oh my god. That never occurred to me. I don't want to think about what will happen when he figures out that people change their email addresses.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Women workers are "only good for the bed"

So says the owner of Threemile Canyon Farms in rural eastern Oregon. In September of this year, a lawsuit against the dairy farm was settled out of court and owner agreed to hire more women. Since that time, he has not only hired more women, but owner A.J. Bos has stated that "I don't want women at the farm--they are only good for the bed."

Now another sexual bias suit has been filed against him, and there is a movement by labor unions and religious leaders to put pressure on lender Bank of the West, which extended Threemile Canyon Farms a $101 million line of credit, to demand that Bos end his discriminatory practices.

Yes, religious leaders. And that is a piece of good news.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

You can build better levees in Louisiana

If you drill for oil in Alaska.

Not an easy thing to read

But important.

There is no end to this White House campaign

The trashing of Kathleen Blanco is now complete. When she tried to get a meeting with George W. Bush while she was in Washington, he was "busy." During the hearings, she was practically accused of being a mass murderer, while the names Bush, Brown, and Chertoff were suddenly forgotten. When Bush relented and decided to offer more money for Katrina and Rita recovery, he did not invite the Louisiana governor to the White House for the ceremony.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Friday cat blogging--Why cats don't blog

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush

Just to save you the trouble...

Those emails to Israel were about my cousin's new baby. Oh, and there was that notice about my other cousin's online wedding album.

The emails and calls to and from the London area were to reassure my family we hadn't been blown away by Katrina.

The emails to Switzerland go out on a regular basis, I know, but that is because I have a friend there.

And I know the emails to France were highly suspicious, but I was making hotel reservations.

And that email from Greece the other day was an electronic Christmas card.

I guess that takes care of all the foreign correspondence. Well, you're probably wondering about Rhode Island, but you'll just have to ask Condoleezza or Mommy Karen to help you with that one.

Post-Katrina and gender--a hypothetical case to ponder

After Hurricane Katrina came through, there was a massive and highly successful smear campaign to discredit Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, who--though she certainly didn't do everything right--actually did a creditable job of handling the crisis. Karl Rove's mark was everywhere, as the news media rushed to report "news" that Blanco had waited to declare an emergency (false), waited to ask for federal help (false), waited to ask FEMA (as if someone should need to ask them) to bring in buses (false), did not ask for a variety of communications and rescue equipment (false).

Once the records were out for everyone to see, some Republicans continued to spread the lies, even spreading them on the floor of Congress, and even spreading them in her presence.

Now, however, apparently feeling a bit uncomfortable with evidence of all of the governor's requests and actions in front of them, along with all of FEMA's failure to deliver evidence in front of them, the bash-Blanco crowd has taken a new approach. The governor's failure has now been distilled into this issue: She wasted precious time haggering with George W. Bush over whether the federal government or the state would be in control of the troops in Louisiana. (Neither would give in, and Blanco maintained control of state troops, while Bush's people maintained control of federal troops.)

I am not going to make a judgment here about whether Blanco did the right thing, but here is something to think about: If the governor of Louisiana had been a man, and he had stood up to Bush and said "This is my state and the troops will be under my control," would he he have been as roundly criticized, or would people have either not gone there at all, or said "He stood up for us, he's tough--he wouldn't stand for the feds trying to run things."?

For those of you who admire Mark Crispin Miller

Here is Bob Cesca's interiew with him.

More bad Katrina news in my area

Lovely Fontainebleau State Park, which is in Mandeville, the next town over, is now going to be Fontainebleau meadow. The winds of Katrina knocked down thousands of trees in Fontainebleau, and thousands more were so damaged that they must be cut down.

Fontainebleau State Park is, or rather, was, a 2,800-acre hardwood and pine park that is used by the local citizenry for camping, hiking, birding, and cycling. People who enjoy their picnics at Fontainebleau have a view of Lake Pontchartrain. I'm ashamed to admit it has been quite a few years since I spent any real time in the park, and now Fontainebleau, as I knew it, is gone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

When deer attack

Suddenly, deer are attacking people, "for no reason," as I heard an expert say on CNN. This means, of course, "no reason that our species understands," and is kind of like saying that people from Russia "talk funny."

Imagine...a member of one species arbitrarily attacking a member of another species who has not done anything to harm it. What a concept.

One of the concerned parties on television said that it is no longer legal to kill deer where he lives, so it is impossible to "thin out" the deer population. The deer population needs thinning out because of habitat shortage. There is a habitat shortage because we took their habitats, therefore, we need to kill them, which is just conservation-speak for burning the village in order to save it.

I would much rather have the deer that used to inhabit my neighborhood than the two banks, cell phone store, smoothie shop, carpet store, two coffee shops, church, and clinics that are there now. "But they eat things in your garden!" So do the rabbits, and we use appropriate repellents to keep them at bay. I would rather deal with rabbits and deer trying to eat my plants than deal with the right-wing neighbors who put anti-choice signs all over their yards, let their dogs run loose, and drive 45 mph. in a school zone.

Pennsylvania student told to remove his T-shirt

Chris Schiano attended his Pennsylvania high school in a T-shirt that bore a photo of George W. Bush and said International Terrorist. A school security guard told him to take it off, and he refused, knowing full well that the school had no legal right to make him do so.

The principal of the school now says that, after talking with the ACLU, he realizes that Schiano's shirt does not violate the school's dress code: It makes no reference to sex, drugs, or ethnic intimidation, and it does not display explicit language.

Smart kid, and happy ending. But why do school authorities need the ACLU to come in and interpret their own policies to them? Are they not literate enough to read the guidebook? Well, they may not be, but assuming they are, the reality seems to be that the rules are meaningless. The Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, the UN Treaty on Torture, the North Penn High School rule book...all meaningless.

Healthcare worker "conscience clause" expanding

In the latest case reflecting the healthcare worker "conscience clause" movement, a California appeals court has ruled in favor of doctors who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian patient. Guadalupe Benitez filed a sexual orientation discrimination suit against the physicians at a women's clinic in San Diego for refusing to artificially inseminate her in 2000.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tookie Williams does not say the right thing to the governor

Governor Schwarzenegger said that he refused to grant Tookie Williams clemency because Williams never apologized for the murders he committed. Tookie Williams has maintained, all these years, that he did not commit them. If he did commit them, then he placed his pride above his own life, which was his choice--assuming it would really have made any difference to Schwarzenegger. If he did not commit them, then he placed the truth over his own life.

I am reminded of 14-year-old Caril Ann Fugate, who, along with Charles Starkweather, was tried as an adult, and who maintained throughout her trial and imprisonment that she was Starkweather's hostage. What does not appear in the now-brief accounts of Fugate's life is that she could have had parole much earlier if she had apologized for her crimes, but she just kept on insisting she had committed no crimes and had been a hostage. She spent eighteen years in prison.

By the way, as of this writing, Arnold Schwarzenegger has not apologized for committing multiple sexual assaults, but those types of crimes do not concern the people of America.

The New York Times may be doing a terrible job of reporting on Iraq

But it is kicking ass on Katrina.

I have figured out how to have a lot more leisure time

It's so simple, I'm surprised I didn't think of it before. All I have to do in my psychotherapy practice is refuse to treat clients whose values I find morally objectionable. That would include Republicans, hunters, factory farm meat-eaters, racist people, sexist people, homophobic people, fundamentalist Christians, supporters of the Iraq invasion, and people who shop at Wal-Mart.

I would be left with about two clients and I could see them both on the same day, thus giving me a lot more time to read, write, watch films, play with my cats, and tool around town. Of course, I would have a significant drop in income, but since I am a liberal, I am already considered to be either a rich dilettante or a lazy collector of handouts, so what difference would it make? I am also a minor Katrina victim, and everyone knows that we are all just sitting on our stoops, drinking beer and whining about the government, rather than building electrical grids, constructing houses with no assistance from workers, installing telephone lines, stimulating the economy with no jobs, and making ourselves impervious to disease.

Counting the dead in Iraq

For the first time, George W. Bush has announced to the American people the approximate number of Iraqi civilians killed since the beginning of the war. 30,000, more or less, is the number he used, and that number is certainly enough to provide reason to grieve for the families of the victims, and for the nation at large. But is 30,000 an accurate number? Many do not think so.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Monday, December 12, 2005

You don't know a thing about me

Blogger, in its blog, Buzz, is bragging about hiding the time stamp function. Thanks to their hiding it, I now have to do an extra click every time I post. Thanks for nothing.

Whenever I think I've heard it all

Someone comes along to let me know that, sadly, I haven't. This time it was Rad Geek.

Daddy, what did you do in the War on Christmas?

I have written before that certain Christians have taken Christ out of Xmas and then blamed the rest of us for taking Christ out of Christmas, and I have also written about the insanity of certain Christians focusing on what Wal-Mart clerks say during the holiday season, rather than on the decidedly non-Christian way that Wal-Mart conducts business.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Fake patriotism can kill in more ways than you think

If I were ever going to have an auto accident, it would have been about 45 minutes ago, when I was trying to leave the pit of congestion known as my neighborhood. We have no traffic light, so sometimes, you have to sit in your car for a long time and wait for an opportunity to dart into the turn lane. As I was sitting at the intersection, I saw a most incredible thing: A car passed by and turned left onto the street that intersects on the other side of the highway. It was a small vehicle, like the type almost everyone has in Europe. The bottom half was painted red, there were broad white stripes wrapped around the middle, and yes--the top half was blue with white stars. On the back was painted in white: God Bless America.

I assumed this was some kind of promotional vehicle and was curious to know what it was promoting. I didn't see anything on the right side of the car, but I got to have a second look when the driver turned around and came back, in order to make a right turn back onto the highway. There was nothing printed on the left side, either. This was, in other words, just someone's car. I wish I had a photograph of it so I could show my readers how totally freakish it was, despite its bold, colorful design.

The driver appeared to be not too old, so I wonder why he isn't fighting in Iraq.

I meet another of my favorite bloggers!

Some of you may recall that in July, I was fortunate enough to meet ae, author of arse poetica, when she and her friends came to visit us. Yesterday, we had the good fortune of entertaining another great blogging guest, Kathy of What Do I Know?, who left her cows and sheep in the U.K. for a while to hang out in the U.S.

Kathy's timing was good: We had just trimmed our Christmas tree and were preparing to build a fire.

We toured the meditation garden and our city's lovely downtown area, and we tried to have tea in the English tea room, but it was brimming with little girls in tea-party finery, and not catering to the likes of us. All the same, it was fun to direct our guest to a British phone booth in the middle of the piney woods region of south Louisiana.

So we had our tea at home by the fire, and tried to coax Roxie and Velma out for treats, but they would have none of it; they are still frightened of people they do not know, and perhaps were afraid Kathy had brought one of those cows with her. She did get a glimpse of them, though, and maybe the next time we are fortunate enough to have her in our home, the sisters will have developed more social skills.

The real deal, with a wonderful selection of teas, scones, crumpets, delicious lunches, British food goodies, a Brit phone booth, and English china.

Farewell, Richard Pryor

I am sure there must be some anti-Richard Pryor people somewhere, but I have never met one. Like all great comics, Pryor tapped into material that affects everyone, makes everyone uncomfortable, and makes everyone laugh out loud. He seemed such a gentle soul, too--someone I would like to have met.

I almost did meet him. In 1977, I was working for a company that sometimes did P.A. (public appearance) tours for Warner Bros. Pryor had just made Greased Lightning, the premiere was held in New Orleans, and he and producer Hannah Weinstein came to town for it. I dealt with Weinstein, and didn't actually see Pryor until the night of the premiere. At the time, I admired him as an entertainer, but hadn't yet grasped the importance of who he was.

I was accustomed to meeting celebrities because of this job, but I had no direct dealings with him, and therefore had no reason to speak with him. He looked shy and withdrawn. I sat a couple of rows behind him in the theater. Three years later, he set himself on fire. Now he is gone, and it is our great loss.

Interestingly, my failure, in 1977, to fully appreciate Pryor, was nothing compared with my failure to fully appreciate Weinstein. I knew she was a film producer and Paula Weinstein's mother. I helped her ship some seafood to Lillian Hellman, who was living on Martha's Vineyard. (Hellman was Paula Weinstein's godmother, and Paula Weinstein is Jane Fonda's best friend; Fonda played the role of Lillian Hellman in Julia, one of my favorite films of all time.) What I didn't know at the time is that she was also an American hero.

The power of the unconscious mind

Yesterday morning, on one of those dreadul fake news interview shows, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions said the most amazing thing. In praising Senator Joe Lieberman, Sessions said that all of the Democrats had voted for the war, but Lieberman had gone on to actively support it, and that "he has supported the president, who was elected this time."

Doubtless, what Sessions thought he meant was probably something like "elected without a court case," but it was a hell of a slip.

Of course, he wasn't elected this time, but that doesn't appear to bother anyone.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The lies never stop

Federal coordinating officer Scott Wells, testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said that Louisiana's preparedness and response to Hurricane Katrina contrasted sharply with Texas's "well-laid plans" in preparing for Hurricane Rita. Federal officials just say anything they feel like saying about Katrina, just like they do about Iraq.

Friday, December 09, 2005

How quickly context flies out the window

This morning on C-Span's "Washington Journal," U.S. soldiers who had been to Iraq were invited to call in and talk about things they had seen that perhaps the rest of us had not heard about. They reported battles won, help given to communities, and the existence of electrical power. One man said the media needs to concentrate more on Halliburton and the many problems of reconstruction. A woman said that everything the U.S. military rebuilds is immediately torn down again by Iraquis.

The overall assessment was that media coverage was unfairly negative. Putting aside for a moment my own, highly unpopular perspective, which is that all war is evil and unnecessary--there still remains the problem that no one can "win" an illegal war. What difference does it make if all of the insurgents are crushed and the entire country is rebuilt (which, by the way, is not going to happen), if the entire murderous, costly, distracting, enemy-attracting event was undertaken on false pretenses?

Winning or losing this war is irrelevant. The only issue worth discussing is our invasion of a country based on lies, greed, and the whims of PNAC.

Friday cat blogging--color coordination edition

Roxie displays her colors while she relaxes on the cushion of a wicker chair in my home office

An office is a busy place, but with the right furniture, you can still get some needed rest

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bolton now whining about criticism of war on terror

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said yesterday that the U.S.-led war on terror has undermined the global ban on torture. Her statement did not go over well with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, who called Arbour's statement "inappropriate and illegitimate." U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's spokesman said that Annan wants to take the matter up with Bolton as soon as possible.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Spoils o' war

Right around the time our country invaded Iraq, a caller on Bill O'Reilly's radio show asked him what was going to happen to all the oil in Iraq. "We take it all," he told her. "Spoils o' war."

He hasn't changed his attitude. A few days ago, he had this to say:

Fallujah should not exist. It should have been leveled a long time ago. Just leveled. That town should have been made an example of years ago....That town--everybody should have been evacuated and flattened.

This is O'Reilly's answer to the insurgency in Iraq. Flatten 'em. Whether it is Vietnam or Iraq, there is a stubborn resistance among many to grasp the simple fact that the more you destroy people's homeland, the more likely they are to continue killing you. And hating you. As for the O'Reilly oil deal, he is advocating lawlessness, kind of interesting for such a big law-and-order guy (well, a law-and-order guy who threatens to kill his guests). So, using his logic, if I go to his office building, beat the hell out of him and then take his money, that's okay.

I stand corrected

Obviously, I was wrong. Donald Powell is doing a fantastic job. I know because Bill Clinton said so while doing his Aw and Shucks routine on TV last night with George H.W. Bush.

Finally, a threat that is dealt with appropriately

For those of you who on the Web who threaten to kill people, here is a word for you: consequences.

Harold Pinter uses his Nobel acceptance to tell the truth

A sad day

Today is the 25th anniversary of the death of John Lennon. Every December 8, I get sad all over again. Lennon, like all humans, was flawed, of course, but his gift to us was considerable, in terms of art, entertainment, and his call to promote peace, speak honestly, and eradicate sexism. He was also very witty, and the likes of him are hard to find in today's often witless, unoriginal world.

Yoko Ono's gift to all of us is Strawberry Fields, Lennon's special area of Central Park.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Possibly the most whacked quote of the last decade

I was visiting Daily Pepper, and picked up this gem from 1999--Tom DeLay's response to the Columbine shootings:

Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence. The causes of youth violence are working parents who put their kids into daycare, the teaching of evolution in the schools, and working mothers who take birth control pills.

Chrisians with priorities extremely out of whack

So a lot of super-Christians are upset because the annual White House card doesn't say "Merry Christmas," but instead wish a happy "holiday season." According to the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, "This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture."

Wow. I need some help sorting this out. It's okay for Bush to lie, cheat, poison our children, increase the death count of African women and children, abandon people to drown, and have innocent citizens arrested, but it's not okay for him to send a card that doesn't say "Merry Christmas."

I must have missed something in the New Testament. Let's see, there's "Blessed are the merciful," and Bush has killed and maimed who knows how many Iraqi citizens and blown up their houses and businesses. His AIDS policies have made it possible for thousands more women and babies to die because they can get neither counseling nor birth control. While he was stuffing birthday cake in his mouth, people and animals were dying in New Orleans. There's "Blessed are the peacemakers," and Bush has declared war on a country that was not bothering us. Then there's "Love your enemies," and he hasn't done too well with that one, starting with John McCain. And how about "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth?" His tax policies have made the wealthiest people in America much wealthier, at the expense of the rest of us, and his war has made a bundle of profit for his family's pet companies.

The super-Christians don't seem to be bothered by any of that.

Ford caves to gay-hating bigots

Though Ford officials led us to believe they would not be influenced by the American Family Association, it turns out they were. It is time for every decent person in America to boycott Ford.

Breaking (good) news...

BradBlog says there is a potential class action suit against Diebold.

Killing black bears in New Jersey

Now that it is legal to kill black bears in New Jersey and fifty of them have been killed, I see the usual liberal message board fighting between those who are opposed to killing animals and those who defend the killings because the bear population is overcrowded and hunting is a sport.

I do understand the argument that the bear population, deer population, whatever, is overcrowded, and the animals will starve if they are not taken out. However...their populations are overcrowded because we took away their habitats. Talk about rationalization.

As for hunting being a sport, I supposed it is a recreational activity for those who enjoy killing, and a lot of people seem to enjoy killing. Some people say it is okay to kill animals only if you intend to eat them. Why anyone would want to eat a beautiful living creature is beyond me, but that is a very popular thing to do. And killing an animal in the woods for food beats hell out of eating factory farm animals, whose lives are horrific from the moment they are born.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Women have more opportunities for hiring and promotion in corporate America than men do

Came as a surprise to me, too, but Rush Limbaugh said it today on the radio. And here's why women now have so much more opportunity: Corporations are scared of being criticized, so they hire unqualified women to fill the slots, even when more qualified men are available.

The caller, a woman, was explaining to Limbaugh that corporate women need a network, mentors, contacts. "It's more important for women," she said. "Men can still work their way up from the mailroom, but women can't."

"I'm tempted to say that women can still work their way up from the couch," replied the misogynist, Constitution-hating, lying, drug-addled freak.

Kansas City boy suspended from school for speaking Spanish during recess

Zach Rubio, a student at Turner School District's Endeavor School in Kansas City, Kansas, was recently suspended for two days because he spoke Spanish during recess, which, among other things, is not against school policy. Despite Zach's not breaking any rules, however, the principal, Jennifer Watts, explained: "We are not in Mexico, we are not in Germany."

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

I'm loving the hearings so far

When white men in suits are left to trudge through floodwaters looking for a way to be rescued, when white men in suits are left to lie in the dark on the fetid floor of the Superdome, when white men in suits sit on their roofs with no food or water, when white men in suits are blamed for not having cars that can get them out of town, when white men in suits are separated from their family members and have no hope of finding them, when white men in suits have their beloved pets tossed onto the street to starve or drown, when white men in suits are left with no homes, when white men in suits are left with no jobs, when white men in suits are blamed for living where they live, when white men in suits are told to stop whining because they have lost everything...then, and only then, will I believe there was no racism involved in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Then, and only then, will I believe that Jeff Miller and Christopher Shays are anything but racist idiots.

Clijsters win both ITWA awards

The International Tennis Writers' Association has given both its 2005 Player of the Year award and its 2005 Ambassador for Tennis award to U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters of Belgium. Clijsters, who had been in numerous Grand Slam finals but had never won one before this year, was out most of 2004 with a wrist injury. She had to have two surgeries for it, and at one point, she was told she might not ever play tennis again. She swept the 2005 hardcourt season, much as Lindsay Davenport had swept it the year before, and completed the sweep with her win at Flushing Meadows.

A huge fan favorite, Clijsters bought everyone in her hometown of Bree a beer after she won her first Grand Slam.

Dear Alison Stewart...

I know this is a difficult concept for you, but we're in the 21st Century. There are women in Congress, too; they're not all "Congressmen." Try to accept this.

On fair-mindedness and being a "moderate"

Yesterday, I was hanging out on a sports message board I frequent, and someone, in discussing a sports personality's possible politics, said of her, "She is so fair in her views--so she is probably a moderate."

This statement immediately rubbed me the wrong way, but it also caused me to think a lot. On the surface, it would indeed seem that a very fair-minded person would "see both sides" of an issue. It is important to understand both sides of an issue and to make decisions based on observable fact; I agree with that.

But political opinions are formed because of values, not discreet facts. I am what most people would consider a progressive (or a feminazi, animal rights nut, gay agenda-promoting, tree-hugging, unAmerican leftist, if you want to go in that direction). I also consider myself fair-minded. I am the first to call out an idiot liberal (which keeps me pretty busy), and the first to condemn unfair bashing of a conservative. I also do not like assumptions made that cannot be backed up by fact. I also have a sense of humor.

But being fair-minded makes me no less liberal; I like to think it makes me more so.

What is a "moderate"? I'm not sure. Is it a person who thinks gays shouldn't be beaten up, but that they also shouldn't be permitted to marry? A person who understands there were no weapons of mass destruction, but who is nevertheless glad we got rid of Saddam Hussein? A person who knows that the war is wrong but who thinks it is in bad taste to protest?

In her fascinating book, Ferocious Romance, Donna Minkowitz writes that she found she had more in common with the right-wing groups she infiltrated than she did with many other "non-extremist" people. I understand that. As much as I profoundly disagree with right-wing people, and believe that much of their agenda is based on ignorance, I acknowledge that at least they give a damn. Their thinking about issues may be incomplete, but at least they have feelings about issues. They are no more frightening to me than the millions of Americans who are "too busy," or who "don't like politics," or are afraid to ever take a stand about anything.

NBC Ken doll poster boy for the dark side

I became thoroughly disgusted with NBC anchor Brian Williams when he was asked to comment on the industry's failure to hire and promote women both behind and in front of the camera, and his response was something to the effect of "There are a lot more important issues than that."

Now we know what the more important issues are.

Perhaps Williams and John "the network pays my salary but I work for Monsanto" Stossel can go have a power lunch together. Pity there are no girls allowed, or Judith Miller could join them.

I have a better idea

Let's keep the flag and trash Hillary Clinton.

Just how gay IS James Dobson, anyway?

Now Focus on the Family is severing ties with Wells Fargo because the bank promotes the homosexual agenda, whatever that is.

Monday, December 05, 2005

September 11 recovery money diverted to large international corporations

Last month, a bipartisan group of Congresspeople, in a rare display of doing what we elected them to do, turned the heat up on the Bush administration over the fact that so many Katrina recovery contracts had gone to large corporations in the usual Bush no-bid way. As a result, the contracts were re-bid.

Pity such a group wasn't around after September 11.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Good news, bad news

First, the bad: Why on earth do we need another remake of King Kong?

Now, the good, no real apes were used in the making of the new film. Trained apes are among the most mistreated of all animals. Here is a short flash film to watch (try to get past the narrator's aggravating voice).

Something that is bothering me a lot, but doesn't seem to bothering anyone in the media

When the Army Corps of Engineers designed and built the levee system in New Orleans, the staff of the engineering firm who handled the contract claim they warned the Corps that the sheet pilings were not nearly as deep as they needed to be to protect the levees from collapsing in the soft soil, as they did during Katrina. The Corps allegedly refused to listen, and went ahead with the design.

Why on earth didn't the engineering firm come forward and tell the public that they were about to get faultily designed levees?

Limbaugh goes back on the air in New Orleans

Last week, New Orleans radio station WWL put Rush Limbaugh back on the air for the first time since Katrina changed everything. One of his main topics that day was blasting the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. He couldn't figure out why people were saying things were in bad shape in New Orleans; as far as he knew, things were going well. And what was this nonsense about no place to live? And it was the city's fault the levees were faultily constructed.

The station is inviting him to come here and see for himself the terrible destruction and the lack of federal response. It won't matter; he'll find a way to blame the state and the city for everything.

The issue is: Will any of Limbaugh's idiot fans see him for the lying piece of garbage he is? My guess is no. They found a way to let him off the hook for being a drug addict and a criminal, and they will find a way to let him off the hook for this. It doesn't help that the state's lack of foresight does play into the tragedy, and it doesn't help that the state legislature just showed its ass bigtime in a special session. But the facts remain: a federal agency built slipshod levees, and then refused to respond when a major tragedy occurred.

September 11 Commission still pretending they provided a service

The members of the September 11 Commission are on C-Span, talking about how dangerous it is that the balance is tilting away from protection of civil liberties in America. They are patting themselves on the back, but they would have been a lot more effective if they had done their job in the first place instead of wasting who knows how much taxpayer money.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Honoring Jesus the Wal-Mart way

The Heretik is riffing on Bill O'Reilly's boycott of stores whose personnel do not greet us by saying "Merry Christmas!"

He also reminds us that the Catholic League boycotted Wal-Mart, in part because it was displeased with how little Christmas it found on a Wal-Mart website search. If I weren't so tired, I'd fall down and laugh. Or weep.

Wal-Mart discriminates against women by not paying them what it pays male employees doing the same or comparable work. Wal-Mart is not very nice when an employee files a disability claim. Wal-Mart has locked its night employees in so that, in an emergency, that would die. Wal-Mart has refused to give employees their legally earned lunch breaks. Wal-Mart is accused of not paying proper overtime wages. The list goes on and on. The Catholic League is an organization whose purpose is to promote religious and civil rights, but the best it could come up with to get excited about was Wal-Mart's alleged multiculturism.

The Heretik asks us when the shopping madness will end, and I have no answer, but it is certainly a cold irony that all of the fighting about honoring Jesus, damn it, is focused on great big stores where people buy gazillions of things in order to properly honor Jesus.

How can I honor Jesus if, when I give my last dollar to the nation's biggest employee-abuser, the clerk doesn't say "Merry Christmas!" to me?

How can I honor Jesus if, when I buy all those clothes made by slave children in sweat shops, the clerk says "Happy Holidays!" to me?

How can I honor Jesus if, when I buy a cartload of cosmetic products tested by pouring acid into the eyes of imprisoned cats and rabbits, the clerk takes Christ out of Christmas?

How can I honor Jesus, if, when I buy all that factory farm meat, the product of horrifically tortured cows, pigs, and birds, the clerk implies that there are people in my community who are not Christians?

What's a good Christian to do nowadays?

Vatican bans singer because of fear she would promote the use of condoms

Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury has been banned from performing at the Vatican's 2005 Christmas concert because concert officials heard she might openly promote the use of condoms to combat the spread of AIDS. God forbid. Fearing they were going to be Lauryn Hilled, Vatican officials uninvited Mercury.

The Catholic Church advises that the best way to stop the spread of AIDS is through "fidelity within heterosexual marriage, chastity, and abstinence." Just so you know.

Man in charge of Gulf Coast reconstruction reconstructs reality

Donald Powell, who is in charge of post-hurricane Gulf Coast reconstruction, is nothing if not a predictable Bush White House product. As most people know by now, he has announced that he has yet to make up his mind about whether New Orleans' levees need to be strengthened. Here is a little reminder of what his boss said in September:

Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do whatever it takes. We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. And all who question the future of the crescent city need to know there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans.

So much for that. Powell has also claimed he had no idea that the Army Corps of Engineers had refused to release documents relating to the construction of the levees, which were built all wrong because of the Corp's incompetence and neglect. Funny, it was in all of the newspapers, and all over television and the radio.

Garland Robinette, a long-time New Orleans broadcast figure and a leader in the current movement to hold the federal government to its promises, reported recently that Powell had been on his radio program, and Robinette had introduced the idea that since Louisiana supplies 30% of the nation's oil and more than 25% of its natural gas, it would be in the national interest to do whatever possible to help the state recover. Robinette then described Powell's response: Clueless.

Language, I say again for the 1,000th time, shapes our culture

Thanks to media girl for directing me to The American Street's account of the Oregon rape trial in which the alleged victim is being charged with a crime. It turns out that Kevin Hayden, blogger for The American Street, knows the alleged victim and attended the trial. Hayden points out that, although the alleged rapists are men, the judge referred to them as "boys," thus bringing about the obscene, but accepted, concept that "boys will be boys."

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am constantly ranting about the power of language, and that feminism will not take hold until women insist (like we did during the Second Wave) that we be referred to as women, not as girls. Neither men nor women refer to men as boys, except in the concept of "a night out with the boys," but grown women are constantly referred to as children: "This girl who works at my office" (who is usually about 35 years old), "I was dating this girl" (who turns out to be 30), etc. To refer to a man as a "boy" is rare indeed. The judge knew exactly what he was doing.

Kerry couldn't help but believe an honest man

John "If you give me a chance, I know I can run a worse campaign than Dukakis" Kerry was on television a moment ago, saying he would not vote the same way on Iraq today as he did before. Kerry said he "believed the president of the United States" when Bush said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Why? Because of Bush's prior record of honesty? His lies about his DUI's, his lies about his military record, his insider trading at Harken, his package of lies against Governor Richards, his theft of the 2000 election--none of that impressed Kerry. You can't blame him; it didn't impress the news media or the American people, either.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I'm too sexy

For my hair.

Where is Al Jolsen when you need him?

How do you respond when a white Quaker chaplain dresses in drag and blackface and performs songs that stereotype African Americans?

I learned about "The Twelve Days of Kwaanza" on Intelligence Squad and Daily Kos, but the story is really much more interesting and complex than I thought. Chuck Knipp, who sings in drag as Shirley Q. Liquor, is clerk of the Gulf Coast Quakers, a professional chaplain, and a minister with the American Unitarian Conference. He is also a notary public, a registered nurse, and a libertarian. He does a radio show called "Daily Ignunce," and has performed with Tracy Morgan and Rupaul.

Shirley Q. Liquor is an intensely religious alcoholic black woman with nineteen children. Knipp's portray of Shirley has resulted in one of his sold-out New York shows being picketed by protesters.

Considering Knipp's association with African American performers, notably fellow comic Morgan, there is at least some evidence that some African Americans have accepted his act within a context of their knowlege of him. On the other side of the equation, however, is the fact that Knipp's holiday song is getting a lot of airplay on stations that are maybe not known for, shall we say, their hip sense of humor.