Tuesday, February 28, 2006

If you want some Mardi Gras

Tune in to WWOZ now.

Latest Zogby poll shows 85% of troops think they are in Iraq because of a Saddam/September 11 connection

The lastest LeMoyne College/Zogby poll, released today, is filled with interesting--and in some cases, alarming--information concerning the attitudes of U.S. troops toward the war they are fighting in Iraq. 72% of those responding to the poll said that the U.S. should leave Iraq within the next year, and about 25% said the U.S. should leave Iraq immediately. When asked why some Americans favor immediate troop withdrawal, the breakdown looked like this:

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Birmingham killer gets a break with "gay panic" defense

I really like to read Pam's House Blend, but I invariably become filled with rage over the news Pam covers. The latest is making me too angry for words: Defense attorneys in Alabama just successfully used the "gay panic defense" to get a murder a lighter sentence. Raymond Carlisle was convicted of felony murder (not capital murder) for killing an adjunct professor at Birmingham Southern College because he "reacted in the heat of passion when the 37-year-old victim tried to homosexually assault him."

Imagine for a moment that a man in Birmingham tries to "sexually assault" a woman, and she kills him, then her lawyers ask for leniency because of the effect the assault had on her. They would be laughed out of the courtroom and she would go to prison for the rest of her life.
Happy Mardi Gras, New Orleans!

Monday, February 27, 2006

House Rules Committee releases scathing report on the selling of America

Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, ranking member of the House Rules Committee, was on Air America Radio today to discuss the report released last week by her committee--"America For Sale--The Cost of Republican Corruption." Congresswoman Slaughter talked about Medicare, the disputed Halliburton money that has been returned to Halliburton, and the failure of contractors to provide safety for American troops in Iraq.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

How Homeland Security keeps us safe

If you work for a federal agency and you have the "wrong" kinds of bumper stickers on your vehicle, you, too, could get a visit from Homeland Security.

Whatever you say, Scalia

The attitude of people associating guns with nothing but crime, that is what has to be changed.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Scalia will glad to know that I am not so narrow-minded as to associate guns only with crime. I also associate them with intimidation, blowing up innocent creatures, and the horror of war.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Young Republican defends Coulter's gay-bashing

I don't usually comment on Ann Coulter because she is so over the top that she isn't worth noticing. And even here--though what Coulter says is very troubling--my purpose is not to comment on Ann Coulter.

First, what she said:

Coulter spoke at Indiana University on Thursday, and during a question and answer session, a boy asked her--if she didn't like Democrats, would she prefer a dictatorship. Coulter responded, "You don't want the Republicans in power, does that mean you want a dictatorship, gay boy?"

What I want to focus on, however, is the response given by IU College Republicans president Shane Kennedy:

I think the guy could have been more respectful to her. I mean, we already know that she was going to be controversial and she was just saying what people were thinking. If you are going to talk like you are gay, then Ann Coulter is going to call you gay. Of course, she said it in a spiteful tone, but it was expected.

So confronting Coulter, who has called for everything from the blowing up of the New York Times building to the invading of all Arab nations, is "disrespectful."

And as for talking "like you are gay," does that mean that the boy sounded like certain Will and Grace characters? If so, then she was making fun of him and showing contempt for gay people. Or--even worse--does talking "like you are gay" mean sounding stupid, as it does in the current youth vernacular? In that case, she was saying that gay = idiotic.

I usually don't really mind Coulter because I consider her a cartoon character, but kids like Shane Kenndy make me want to throw up.

Possibly the nastiest lead paragraph I've ever seen

Although she split from cyclist Lance Armstrong, singer Sheryl Crow got a taste of what her ex-fiance went through during his battle against cancer.

Get the little lady a refrigerator

A-1 Appliances has been running a commercial that is so 1950's sexist, it boggles my mind. It's a Februray Valentine spot, in which a family--a husband, wife, and little girl--go to an A-1 store to take advantage of the sale. The voice-over lets us know that they are going to get a flat-screen television for the man, and then the woman and the little girl go and check out the kitchen appliances. So mommy and daugher can cook and clean while Dad relaxes and watch TV.

I remember a time when no one would dare put such a spot on the air.

There is some compensation, though--the wife gets a dozen roses from A-1.

Friday, February 24, 2006

More about heart

It's time to add Sasha Cohen to this discussion. What she did is the very definition of heart--falling in her warmup, knowing things were not going to go right, falling twice at the beginning of her routine, and then skating the rest of it flawlessly.

Although I was crushed by Irina Slutskaya's misfortune--I really, really wanted her to win a gold medal--I also felt very bad for Cohen, and was amazed by how she was able to come back.

And congratulations to another of my favorite skaters, Shizuka Arazawa, on her beautiful gold medal skate.

About those six ports

According to the UPI, the number is actually much greater.

Lapham makes case for impeachment of Bush

Outgoing Harper's editor Lewis Lapham, instead of writing his usual "Notebook" column, has written an essay, "A Case for Impeachment," in the current issue. It will undoubtedly be online eventually, but for those who do not subscribe, you may want to pick it up at the newsstand.

One of the things Lapham points out is something that has bothered me, also--why it took illegal spying for people to use the "i" word when Bush has committed so many other impeachable atrocities.

Friday cat blogging--Mardi Gras edition

New adoption law proposed in Ohio

Ohio State Senator Robert Hagan has the remedy for this.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

More documents prove that top defense officials approved of abuse at Guantanamo detention center

The American Civil Liberties Union has released documents that prove that top Department of Defense officials endorsed interrogation methods at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp that the FBI described as both abusive and illegal.

“We now possess overwhelming evidence that political and military leaders endorsed interrogation methods that violate both domestic and international law,” said Jameel Jaffer, an attorney with the ACLU. “It is entirely unacceptable that no senior official has been held accountable.”

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Unmarried couple denied occupancy permit in Missouri

In Blackjack, Missouri, a couple has been denied an occupancy permit for their new house because they are not married. The man and woman have lived together for thirteen years and have three children. The oldest child is not the man's biological child, nor has the child been adopted by the man. The local board of adjustment requires people living together to have blood, marriage, or adoption ties.

This is not even about gay. This is about a man and a woman with children being told they cannot move into a house because of someone's ridiculous definition of "family." The wife-beater next door can live in his house. The child-beater down the street can live in her house. The three-times divorced man across the street can live in his house. But in Rabbit Hole, Missouri, a long-term couple with children cannot live in their house.

Thank goodness I do not treat children and that I do not practice in Virginia

Because under a proposed bill, any healthcare professional who works with children would be prohibited by law from asking the patient about guns in her or his household.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Perhaps I, too, could be a fashion expert

It would seem to me that a "fashion expert" would know the word "dirndl," but not Tim Gunn of Project Runway; he thinks it is a "drindyl."

He also doesn't "want to be a sexist" (whenever anyone says "a sexist" you know you're in for trouble), but shame on Irina Slutskaya for looking like a tomboy. Sorry, Tim--Slutskaya's costume totally kicks ass, and thanks to the (sexist) Olympic Committee for finally letting her wear it.

Update on the New Orleans situation

Recently, a New Orleans-based shipbuilding company had to give up a $170 million contract it had worked for months and months to obtain. This same company has also given up several smaller contracts. There are simply very few workers available, and though there may be multiple reasons for the shortage, the one that stands out as most significant is this: There are no places for workers to live.

There are a few businesses that are going extremely well. Casinos, for example, are doing well because of the workers who are there, and strip clubs are doing better than they have ever done. Strippers are reporting the highest earnings of their careers.

An unhealthy hostility has developed against New Orleanians who have left and are waiting to come back. Almost every week, there are letters to the editor which criticize those who left and still have the "nerve" to express opinions about the future of the city. How these people are supposed to return with no houses and no jobs is beyond me, but apparently, a lot of cheerleader-type people think they should.

To make matters worse, the governor and the legislature have concocted a scheme wherein people who stay will get back more money for their destroyed houses than people who leave. This is an outrageously unfair plan for reasons that should be obvious to anyone.

In the meantime, the Louisiana ACLU has asked the Justice Department to investigate the now-infamous incident during which the Gretna police did not allow evacuees to cross the Crescent City Connection.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Not that it matters...no one is paying attention

Stone Court has a nice explanation of why the Supreme Court's decision to hear a case concerning the constitutionality of the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is total hypocrisy.

When P.R. runs amok

Dear Austria and Germany:

We get it. You feel guilty about the Holocaust. You want everyone to know you feel guilty. Fine. But if you are going to put people in prison because of their opinions--however ridiculous and ungrounded in fact those opinions may be--you are behaving like...well, like Nazis.

What if we did this in the United States? Not only would all of our asinine Holocaust deniers go to prison, but so would the slavery deniers, and the people who deny or minimize the reality that our nation's leaders helped slaughter hundreds of thousands of native Americans. Why, we might have to imprison all those talk show hosts who deny that we provided all that political support and weaponry to Saddam Hussein, and some day, imprison them for their support of our alliance with Saudi Arabia.

The Holocaust has become an easy metaphor for "Oh dear, wasn't that simply awful--so glad we don't do things like that anymore" when, in reality, someone in the world is always doing things like that. And when people speak of the Holocaust, they speak of the 6 million Jews who went to their deaths, not the entire 11 million people who were killed in the camps. Somehow, I cannot imagine Germany or Austria imprisoning someone for denying that a few million homosexuals were killed during World War II.

States move to ban gay adoption--what next?

Sixteen states have campaigns going to ban gay adoption, and these campaigns are being viewed as the next "natural" step after banning gay marriage. If banning adoption is the next logical step, then we can be assured there will be a step after that, too. Will there be a movement to ban gay teachers and gay childcare workers? My guess is that there will be.

Will these states also ban adoption by bisexual couples? What if one member of a couple is heterosexual, which is often the case? Oh, it gets so confusing, this banning of everything. Look at Mississippi: In that state, if you are gay, you can adopt a child unless you have a partner. If you are gay in a stable relationship, you are not allowed to adopt.

Of the thousands who are going to rally in march in favor of banning gay adoption, how many have adopted children?

Just another coincidence

Last month, George W. Bush apppointed David Sanborn as director of the U.S. Maritime Administration. Who is David Sanborn? Well, he is a graduate of the Merchant Marine Academy, and he is the man who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations. DP World, as you probably know by now, is the Dubai Company selected by the White House to oversee some of our major ports.

It turns out that Sanborn is not the only Bush administration official connected to DP World. Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose department led the panel that signed off on the DP deal, was chairman of the CSX Rail firm that sold its own port operations to DP in 2004.

Quote of the day

On the aftermath of the hurricane:

"There was no communication. We had to contact people the old-fashioned way--face to face and text messaging."
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

If you use the "w" word, do they take you to the Senate men's room and chew you out?

Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans is on C-Span, testifying again before the Katrina commission. He, like the male Senators, calls Sen. Susan Collins "Madame Chairman," though sometimes he realizes this isn't quite right (give him credit there--the senators don't have a clue), and out comes "Madame Chair." But he cannot get the word "woman" to come out of his mouth.

The U.S. Senate is supposed to be a very sophisticated body, but it insists on using outdated and sexist honorifics for women, and calling everyone "chairman," despite her or his gender. Obviously, the female senators do not put a stop to it.

I will not write another mini-essay on the importance of language; I'll just say this: Until our language reflects equality, until the word "woman" automatically rolls off of people's tongues, we will always know that the consciousness of even the "enlightened" members of our culture is basically sexist.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Privacy and Civil Liberties Board still has not met

What do the White House Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and the Vice President's Terrorism Task Force have in common?

Neither believes in holding meetings. Ever.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Great tennis joke on The L Word last night

"Someone on some website said I was faking my cancer so I could retire."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Poor Dick Cheney--he needs empathy

I was listening to the radio in my car today, and someone from the White House press corps--I didn't catch who--said he found it kind of sad that no one in the press was showing any empathy toward Dick Cheney.

I tried not to run my car off the road. For the last six years, the White House press corps has given Cheney a much greater gift than their empathy: They have ignored his warmongering, his relationship to big oil, and his whopping lies.

But if you want to talk about empathy, where is Cheney's empathy for his own daughter? Where is his empathy toward the soldiers who are getting maimed and killed for nothing? Where is his empathy toward the elderly who cannot fill their prescriptions? Where is his empathy toward the people on the Gulf Coast who have no jobs and nowhere to live?

Poor Dick Cheney--it's breaking my heart.

The more I think about the Olympic ski situation, the angrier I get

Why isn't there an Olympic boycott? At least by other women skiers? Or--here's an idea--how about a boycott by Alyssa Johnson's brother, Anders?

When the U.S. Women's Soccer Team members won the World Cup and received one-tenth of the money the men's World Cup winners received, they went to Billie Jean King, who almost single-handedly put women's tennis on the map, and had to endure all kinds of hardship and abuse to do it. King helped the women realize that "they aren't going to do it for you--you have to do it for yourselves."

That is as true now as it was then. You would think women would have figured that out by now, but at the very least, can someone please call Billie Jean King?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

You can forget those nice thing I said about Italy

And its recognizing the value of women. Because the highest court in Italy ruled yesterday that a man who raped a 14-year-old girl can seek to have his sentence reduced because the girl was sexually active.

There was an immediate outcry against the ruling, which was condemned by UNICEF.

Sexism, women's tennis, and Kim Clijsters

2006 U.S. Open winner Kim Clijsters has always had a reputation for being a very nice person. She is nice to her fans and nice to other players on the tour. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before that reputation would be turned against her, and the turn is now taking place.

Back in November, when Sports Illustrated's Elizabeth Newman was declaring Clijsters her pick as the "sportsman," (why, why, why can't even a woman writer stop calling women men?!), everyone was still basking in Clijsters' amazing comeback from a wrist injury and two surgeries that almost destroyed her career. But now, fans on message boards are are writing furiously about Clijsters' "fake injuries" (she was injured during the Australian Open, but played anyway, and rather well until her hip just couldn't take it anymore) and "constant whining" about her injuries.

Tennis writer Peter Bodo, not known for his generosity of spirit toward any player, recently went after Clijsters in a particularly vicious way in a blog post entitled "That Kim, She's Sooo Nice." Bodo attacks Clijsters for "harping on her injuries," thanking her courtesy car driver in a speech, and inviting to her Australian Open box a man who turned out to be a convicted heroin smuggler. He goes on to say that Clijsters, who has done her share of choking, needs the crutch of an injury as a back-up excuse in case she chokes again. He also says that she has never made an interesting observation in public, and I think I may have to agree with that one, but how many professional tennis players have? (Thank goodness for Amelie Mauresmo and Martina Hingis.)

When Clijsters won the U.S. Open, she bought everyone in her little Belgian village a beer. At the Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp, she bought her fans champagne. There has been speculation that she is insecure or that she has been manipulated by some promotional sharks.

I have no doubt that, being human, Clijsters is flawed. But the problem is that she never sought the title of "nice girl, and never claimed it for herself. It was an invention of the press, and it will be the oh, so clever press who "takes it away" from her. This has happened before, most notably when the great Chris Evert was on the tour. When Evert first appeared in her pigtails, she was called "America's Sweetheart." A few bows in the hair later, she was known as "Prissy Chrissie." And when she turned out to have the precision, focus, and desire of Beatrix Kiddo, she became the "Ice Maiden," which was a both a compliment and a term of disdain, depending on who was making the reference.

Now that Kim Clijsters has won her first Grand Slam, she is on a pedestal, and everyone knows what we do to people on pedestals. But in the world of professional tennis, all the talk of "nice" and "not nice" is reserved for women. Of course.

Blogger has been repaired, and my losses were small

The Blogger people have repaired the very nasty problem many of us have experienced over the last 24 hours or so. I was able to retrieve two of my posts, but I lost a couple of comments and a lengthy post on the Schaefer incident in Maryland, which I'm just not up to re-creating.

Sexism at the Olympics

In the powerful 1999 HBO documentary, Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sports, one of the recurring themes is "We cannot allow women to (fill in the blank with a sport) because they could be physically harmed from it." The physical harm mentioned most often is "lose the ability to have children." Women and girls had to fight to be able to participate in every sport they participate in, and some events were closed to women even twenty years ago.

Imagine my disgust when I discovered that the Winter Olympics continues to bar women from participating in ski jumping. Why? Wait for it...

Ski jumping is just too dangerous for women. Don't forget, [the landing] it's like jumping down from, let's say, about two meters to the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.

No kidding. That from Gian-Franco Kasper, head of the International Ski Federation.

Eighteen-year-old American ski jumper Alyssa Johnson is ranked 141 places above her brother, Anders, but he is the one who gets to participate in the Olympic games. Johnson says that she has heard every excuse in the book for not allowing women to enter either the ski jumping competitition or the Nordic combined:

That it's too "dangerous" for girls. That there aren't enough of us. That we're not good enough. That it would damage our ovaries and uterus and we won't be able to have children, even though that's not true.

It may be the 21st Century, but you couldn't tell it from the International Ski Federation's rules.

Thanks to feministing for this story.

New York judge throws out Canadian's rendtion suit

Yesterday, Judge David Trager of the Eastern District of New York threw out a suit filed by a Canadian citizen who was arrested by U.S. authorities at John F. Kennedy airport in 2002 and sent to Syria to be interrogated. The plaintiff, Maher Arar, was suspected by the U.S. government of being a member of al Qaeda. He spent ten months in a Syrian jail, where he claimed he was tortured. Arar also said he was tortured in detention at Kennedy Airport. The United States government has never filed any charges against him.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday cat blogging--building a fire

Make sure you have plenty of firewood

You have to have enough material to get the fire started

We could use some fatwood over here

Watch the flames and get toasty warm

Thursday, February 16, 2006

14-year-old dies in Florida boot camp

Fourteen-year-old Martin Lee Anderson was sent to a boot camp in Bay County, Florida, and a few hours later, he went out--dead. A videotape shows that eight different officers, at different times, tried to get Anderson to do his required exercises by punching, kicking, and choking him. A nurse stood nearby and did not intervene.

The camp is under contract with the state of Florida, whose Department of Juvenile Justice changed its procedures in 2004 to utilize less physical contact in restraining adolescents. However, the department did not require the boot camp to follow its lead. There have been several lawsuits and complaints filed against Florida's boot camps, some of which have been shut down.

Anderson's death is being investigated by a number of state and county agencies. However, the Miami Herald makes a good point in advocating for an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office.

Very revealing Freudian slips not the sole property of Bush

"I hope and pray that some day, far in the future, we will be attacked by terrorists."
Rep. Jean Schmidt

What she was trying to say was that she hoped the attack was far off in the future, but it seems she is afflicted with the same unconscious brain leak Bush has.

Interestingly, Freudian slip aside, she had just finished saying she knew we would not be attacked by terrorists because our national security program is so good.

The selling of Maria Sharapova, Part 3

Sharapova has been on a sex market track for a while now, so it seemed inevitable that she would end up in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

Patsy Mink is turning in her grave.

Why I love New Orleans, even though I don't much like it

A Krewe du Vieux float sign: FEMA Says Beads are On the Way.

Steve Martin weighs in on the Cheney shooting affair

Right here.

What in the world are kids being taught in school?

I spent part of yesterday evening in a message board discussion (something I rarely do) about a topic that matters to me, and about which incorrect information was being published. The incorrect information led to incorrect conclusions and to faulty reasoning. I politely presented the facts, as well as presenting a big picture of the issue, which casts a totally different slant than oen gets when examining smaller, less significant parts of the issue.

Not only was there no apparent ability to follow logical reasoning and see through logical fallacies, there was no desire to. The facts were irrelevant. Logic was irrelevant. Reasoning was irrelevant. Causal relationships were irrelevant. Complex factors working together were irrelevant. Comparison and contrast were irrelevant. History was irrelevant. Meanings of words were irrelevant.

I finally gave up. Most of the people on the board are much younger than I am. When I was their age, I was not an idiot. I was able to listen to two sides of an argument and rationally defend my beliefs. I was able to learn. When confronted with facts, I was able to adjust my opinion.

These were young people from different parts of the world, not just the U.S. This trend is worse than global warming. These same people are possibly voting, they are paid to perform some type of work, and--worst of all--they will one day be raising children.

Gay airline employee told he cannot use his free tickets

Rob Anders of La Mirada, California, is a long-time airline industry employee. At his company's Christmas party, Anders won a pair of round-trip airline tickets from Northwest Airlines, to be used by him and a companion. He chose his partner of fifteen years, and they decided to use the free trip to visit Anders' mother and attend a family reunion in Florida. The airline, however, refused to accept Anders' partner as the other passenger. A Northwest representative said that the airline would recognize only a spouse, another airline employee, or a dependent child as a "companion."

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The best piece I've seen on the Cheney shooting incident

Is this poem by Marcus Bales.

(Go to the February 13 post.)

Paris Hilton gets the flour treatment

But I'm sure that the entire Web will be talking about how PETA members threw blood on her.

For about the 100th time: PETA does not throw blood on people like Paris Hilton, even though they deserve it.

"...the hapless elderly voters confused by the butterfly ballot"

That was Ann Coulter's comment when the Florida 2000 election nightmare was taking place. Well, at least some of more elderly voters had an excuse.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

In Spotsylvania, Virginia, the sheriff is very serious about convicting prostitutes

So serious, that he has encouraged his deptuties to have sex with them so that there will be sufficient evidence to convict them. Sheriff Howard D. Smith says that only unmarried detectives are permitted to do this type of evidence-gathering. He has not commented, to my knowledge, on what happens if his hard-working deputies have sex with underage prostitutes.

A valentine with no heart

On my bookshelf is a photograph of my father showing my mother how to shoot a rifle. They are standing in front of an old shack in the middle of nowhere, both looking smart in their 40's trousers. My father towers over her as he stands behind her, helping her steady her hands on the gun. She looks like Hedy Lamar in a still from a pre-war Western.

I found this gem several years ago, after my mother died and I had to go through her things. The picture haunts me. The entire time I lived with my parents, I never saw my father help my mother do anything, and the only time I saw them stand close to each other was when he was punching or slappping her. They didn't dance together, though my mother was a great dancer. They didn't sit near each other. They barely spoke. There are no other photographs of them together.

It is somewhat ironic, therefore, that the one photo I have of them in a position of physical closeness is one in which the focal image is an instrument of violence.

My mother was a war bride. After I had grown up, she told me that one of her friends had warned her that her husband would probably be violent. The first week they were married, he hit her because she opened his wallet. My mother, I should add, was the most provocative person I have ever known. Though seldom physically violent toward me, she did everything she could to provoke me to hit her, and I used to hear her doing the same thing with my father, who was often happy to oblige. Theirs was a relationship, like most relationships, based on mutual need, and the needs were very unhealthy.

We lived in a rural area, and my mother was isolated from social circles where she might have found some emotional satisfaction. There was no displaced homemakers' program, no battered women's shelter, no job training, and no child protection services (that part hasn't changed much). The police considered domestic violence a "personal affair." I once heard a policeman tell a man who was beating his wife in public, "Take her home and beat her there."

Whenever I get those emails about how great it was "back then," I want to scream. I get them from time to time from seemingly intelligent people who must have really liked segregation, gay bar raids, toxic abortions, and laws that made women virtual prisoners in their own homes. My father drank a lot, but no one ever did an intervention on him. No one ever offered war trauma services to either of my parents. There was no government program to send my mother to school, no consciousness-raising group to help her understand why she was an abused woman, no self-help group so she could talk with other women who were victims of domestic violence.

She never left him. Where could she go? She had little education by American standards, little job training (she had worked as a millinery designer), and practically no self-esteem. When he died, she seemed sorry, which I found abhorrent.

When I look at the photograph of my parents with the gun, I am always a bit surprised that some time, long ago, even if they were just posing for a photograph, they were in sync enough to actually look like a real couple. That picture is the only evidence I have that at some point, they may have liked each other and planned a future together.

That photo is their valentine, as far as I am concerned. It was the best they could do, and it wasn't anywhere near good enough. They are gone, and there is nothing anyone can do for them. Now it is a new century, and today, in America, women and girls are battered at a rate of one every nine seconds. Those who try to leave their abusers are at a 75% higher risk for being killed than those who stay.

No amount of cards, chocolates, and flowers can change the truth.

Entry for the Feminist Valentine Blog Awards

Move over, Justine Henin-Hardenne

Because the title of Worst Sportswoman is no longer yours. It now has to go to Russian figure skater Tatiana Totmianina, who, with her partner, Maxim Marinim, won the gold medal in pairs yesterday. After Chinese skater Zhang Dan took a terrible spill and yet somehow went on to skate beautifully and complete her program, the camera went to Totmianina, who--unlike everyone else--showed no expression of either sympathy or wonder. I figured that she was just one of those people with little affect, but then I heard her interview.

When asked what she was thinking when she saw Zhang Dan take the terrible fall, she said "nothing special" went through her mind. She added that Zhang and Zhang had been "very aggressive" during the warmup and had consequently "eaten themselves up" in the warmup.

There is probably some truth--maybe a lot of truth--in Totmianina's statement, and there is nothing wrong with her making such an observation. But to not express any sympathy, especially when Totmianina herself took a very frightening fall in 2004, is strange. And to not give Zhang Dan any credit for going back on the ice and skating her heart out is inappropriate by anyone's standards.

What a big surprise

The Bush administration is giving a big fat gift to oil companies.
Roxie and Velma heart all of our readers

A case of heart

Today, Valentine's Day, is as good a day as any to talk about the elusive quality we refer to as "heart." And while I hate the fact that practically every discussion in America is reduced to a sports metaphor, this is, after all, the Winter Olympics, and nowhere can we find more heart than in the field of figure skating.

Heart is courage, but it is more than that. It is acting in spite of fear, putting aside negative thoughts, and believing in oneself, no matter what. We have seen this quality over and over in figure skating. In Scott Hamilton, who, as a physically handicapped child, stopped growing altogether, but began skating and went on to become a figure skating legend. In Nancy Kerrigan, who survived an attack by a thug and went on to skate only one-tenth of a point short of an Olympic gold medal.

Yesterday, amazingly, we saw it in every pair who won a medal. Gold medalists Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin of Russia had scores so high, they blew away the rest of the competition. Their road to the Olympics was rough. In late 2004, Totmianina fell on her face during a one-hand lift at Skate America. She sustained a concussion. She does not remember the fall, but Marinin remembers it only too well, and that was evident yesterday when he became tentative during lifts in the pair's free skate program. Nevertheless, the pair took home another figure skating gold medal for Russia.

The bronze-winning pair from China (who also took the bronze in Salt Lake City), Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, also arrived at the Olympics with quite a story. Last August, Zhao injured his Achilles tendon, putting him out for the season. Though he has not been feeling pain in his foot, he says some of his power has gone, and it was evident in his skating in both the short proram and the free skate. Nevertheless, the pair wound up on the podium.

But it was the silver medalists who will never be forgotten. Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao of China, shortly after they began their free skate program, attempted something that had never been done before--a throw quadruple Salchow. Zhang Dan flew fifteen feet into the air, made two and a half revolutions, then fell to the ice, where she cracked her left knee, and the rest of her landed against the wall. In tears with pain and disappointment, Zhang Dan had to be helped off the ice by Zhang Hao. It looked as though she would not be able to walk, much less skate. Then, a few moments later, after a consult with a trainer, she and her partner returned to the ice and proceeded to skate a program of great skill and artistry, which included a triple twist. Zhang Dan had a less than perfect landing on her last jump, but other than that, she skated as though she had never taken an injury break.

It was an amazing Olympic moment, one which will be talked about for years to come. Not only did Zhang Dan show enormous heart in returning to the ice, but so did Zhang Hao, who had to continue lifting and tossing his partner. Zhang Dan had her knee bandaged for the medals ceremony, which NBC, damn them, did not show.

A valentine for a Congressman

Though I do not have a very high opinion of Congress, a few of its members do stand out, and none more than John Conyers Jr. While most of his colleagues practice denial, Conyers stands--often alone--and tells the obvious truth: that the Ohio election was not an honest one, that Bush should be impeached...things like that. He will soon be holding hearings on Bush's illegal wiretapping program. Everyone on the left owes Conyers a big valentine.

Songs for Valentine's Day

Last Valentine's Day, I presented a list of what I think are the best romance films ever made. This year, I've decided to list love songs I think are superior. The love songs (or maybe just seduction songs) I like the best of all are, in no particular order:

"I Concentrate On You"

"Speak Low"--my favorite version is the one done by the sublime Uta Lemper

"Midnight Sun"--a friend of mine once called it "a perfect song," and I cannot argue with that

"I'll Be Your Baby Tonight"

"Together Alone"--a lesser known, but hauntingly seductive, song by Melanie Safka

"Easy"--Melissa Manchester's delicious little song of persuasion

"A Case Of You"

"Seems Like Old Times"

"How Long Has This Been Going On?"

"In My Life"

And there there are the torch songs and bittersweet songs:

"Long Long Time"

"What About Me?"

"The Man That Got Away"--the greatest torch song ever written

"The Man I Love"

"A Lucky Guy"

"I'll See You In My Dreams"

"I'll Be Seeing You"

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cheney's disastrous hunting trips

What is it about Dick Cheney and hunting trips?

In December of 2003, he was seen participating in a canned hunt, a despicable activity in which animals are trapped and regularly fed so that they will wander out and become easy targets for "sportsmen." Canned hunts are for "hunters" who cannot hunt and who do not care what kind of cruelty is involved as long as they "bag" their game. Mind you, I am not fond of hunting in any form, but canned hunting is beyond the beyond.

Then there was the alleged vice president's famous Louisiana hunting trip he made with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. That trip happened to take place shortly after the Supreme Court agreed to deliberate Cheney's appeal in the suits filed over his handling of the Bush administration's energy task force.

Now Cheney has gone and shot his friend, who is in the hospital with wounds to his neck, shoulder, and chest.

Cheney is, of course, a darling of the NRA. Here he is with some NRA bigshots in a photo that I can't help but call "Nerds with Gun." And here, just to make this report complete, is Cheney's scheme for avoiding picking up a gun to fight in Vietnam. Perhaps that was a good thing.
Morrocco, not exactly a country that sets a good example in how it treats detainees, is getting some assistance in building a new interrogation and detention facility for al Qaeda suspects. That assistance is coming from the United States, according to western intelligence sources. The new facility will be run by the Moroccan secret police, and there is increasing speculation that Morocco is one of America's partners in the rendition program.

Cracker Barrel sued for discrimination--again

A gay woman in Londonderry, New Hampshire, has sued a Cracker Barrel restaurant, claiming that management did nothing after she complained of employees sexually assaulting her and making crude references to her sexuality. The woman, Bonnie Usher, joined the Cracker Barrel staff as a cook in 2000. In the complaint she filed with New Hampshire human rights commission, she says that she was denied better work shifts and promotions because she is a woman, that she was subjected to abusive language, was groped by a co-worker, and that a photo of the groping was hung on the wall of the restaurant's employee area.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

White House prefers we think Bush was incompetent and heartless, rather than ignorant

Frances Townsend, assistant to the resident for Homeland Security, just said in a news conference about the aftermath of Katrina: "President Bush knew well the dangers of the storm."

So there you are. Someone has made a calculation that it is better for Americans to think anything but that their leader was ignorant of current events that even a six-year-old knew about. So let us say that Bush did know well the dangers of the storm. The conclusion then, is either that he didn't give a damn or that the White House is so incompetent that nothing was done.

Townsend hammered her point home several times--Bush knew, Bush knew, Bush knew. Surely there is a Part 2 spin to come...

Quote of the week--maybe the month

If you asked them to sodomize their own mother in a movie, they would do so, and they would do it with a smile on their face.
William A. Donohoe, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

I am not a fan of Hollywood, mainly because of the chronic sexism and gay-bashing that goes on there. Donahoe, however, has other objections, as he expressed in an interview on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" on a segment entitled "Hollywood Hating America." He went on to say "...it's such a cop-out to talk about freedom of expression."

I understand that a lot of people do not like to see a lot of sex and violence in films. Frankly, I am one of those people, though there are some films in which the sex and violence are not gratuitous, in which case I am usually fine with such content. Then there are people who do not want to see a film such as Brokeback Mountain (one reviewer described the people who snickered during the trailer as being in one of three groups: idiots, the insecure, and the insecure idiots) because it makes them uncomfortable or they have been told it is about something "sinful." I heard one conservative radio talk show host say he believes people when they say that Brokeback Mountain was possibly the best film of 2005, but that just goes to show you how bad off Hollywood is.

Donahoe's comment, however, feeds the belief that American film actors have no morals all. And while it is true that the Angolina Jolies and Brad Pitts of Hollywood make us want to gag, and that Jennifer Lopez's fur-wearing makes us sick, the only solid evidence we have that some Hollywood actors will do anything for money is the largely pitiful collection of film roles chosen by Julia Roberts.

There is no evidence that anyone in Hollywood is more morally bankrupt than anyone else in America--the people in Hollywood just happen to have their lives examined and recorded every moment of the day. What goes on in Hollywood is nothing compared with, say, what goes on in Washington, D.C., where the morally bankrupt live and work. As far as I know, no one in Hollywood has lied repeatedly to the American people, invited terrorists to make us a target, encouraged the poisoning of our air and water, begun a campaign to destroy our civil liberties, or gone out of his or her way to create a giant gap between the rich and everyone else.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is upset by what it describes as a "bigoted portrayal" of the Catholic Church by the media, and "slanderous assaults" made against the Church. This is the same organization that exists to suppress the rights of women, that has colluded with the Bush administration in withholding life-saving health information from women and girls in developing countries, and whose priests have sexually abused thousands of children. Pardon me if I can't work up any sympathy for those who promote it.

A likely farewell, and thanks for the memories

It was heartbreaking to see the great Michelle Kwan withdraw from the Olympics, thus ending any chance she had of finally winning her gold medal. Given the chronic state of her injuries, this is, in all probability, the end of her competitive skating career. Kwan has won five world championships, is the most decorated American skater in history, and has earned the most 6.0's (using the old system) of any skater in history, man or woman. But she has not had good luck at the Olympics, where she won a silver medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2002.

This morning, while I was in the bank waiting for a customer service representative, Sting came on the sound system, singing "Fields of Gold." The connection between that song and Kwan's skating is so strong that I just stood there feeling sad again. Kwan justifiably became a symbol of American sport because of her dedication, her style and grace, and her all-around class.

In a move even more tasteless than we have come to expect of network television, NBC, upon hearing of Kwan's withdrawal from the games, immediately offered her a job as an Olympic analyst. Not only was this a tacky distraction from the American team, which Kwan (tactfully) acknowledged, it also showed the network's total lack of sensitivity toward Kwan, whose heart must be breaking even worse than the hearts of her fans.

For me, a great fan conflict has been removed. There is nothing I would have liked more than to see Michelle Kwan finally win her gold medal. However, I am a huge fan of Kwan's close friend Irina Slutskaya, and at age 27, this is her last shot at Olympic gold (she won the silver medal in 2002). I found myself torn between wanting both her and Kwan to win the gold, and now that is, sadly, no longer an issue. Though a win by the enormously graceful Sasha Cohen would please me, my heart is with Slutskaya, who is an amazing athlete with one of the most amazing comeback stories in sports history, though it has been largely ignored by the press.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The indoor winter garden

N. 'Campernelle' in a vase

More 'Campernelle'

Early-blooming N. 'Campernelle' keep this angel company in the garden

N. 'Campernelle', an antique, is known for the uneven edges of its petals

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Behold the liberal media!

On February 16, Mike Tirone was listed as one of the speakers on a $279-per-listener conference call, "How To Reach Masses of Conservative Voters with Your Cause."

Tirone is a senior producer at MSNBC and a former producer of "Hardball."

Tirone's name, however, has now been removed as a conference call speaker.

Thank you, Italy!

For a very real, nonpatronizing presentation of the significant role of women in the areas of peace, justice, and sports, in the artistically stunning opening ceremonies of the 20th Winter Olympics.

Friday, February 10, 2006

This was Velma's reaction when she saw where Hurricane Katrina was headed. This was Department of Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff's reaction. This was George W. Bush's reaction.

Is there something we should deduce from all this?

Thousands of FEMA motor homes stuck in Arkansas

There is an airstrip in Hope, Arkansas where close to 11,000 80-foot motor homes are stored. These motor homes belong to FEMA, and were purchased to serve as temporary housing for victims of hurricanes. FEMA has signed a two-year contract with the city of Hope to keep them at the airstrip for a $25,000 a month rental fee.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Dear Senator Lieberman, Senator Warner, and cronies...

FYI...Senator Collins is not a man.

Men beat and run over pigs but are not charged with animal cruelty

On January 21, two men broke into the Nocona, Texas Future Farmers of America's barn, beat several pigs with a shovel, then ran over them in a truck. Three pigs died and six others suffered injuries.

The two men were arrested and have been charged with criminal mischief and burglary of a building. No animal cruelty charges have been brought because, says the Nocona Chief of Police, swine are not included in the Animal Cruelty Act. The Texas statue also excludes cattle, horses, sheep, and goats.

However, even bearing this outrageous omission in mind, the act could still be prosecuted as a felony under Texas Penal Code Ann. 42.09(a)(1), which states that a "person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly...tortures an animal." Pigs are not exempted from this statute.

Here are some contacts for you to use to urge Texas lawmakers to amend the Animal Cruelty Act, and also to urge the D.A. and the Chief of Police to charge the two men with a felony.

Friday cat blogging--lap o' luxury edition

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I'm sitting around waiting for the outrage

But there is still no one on television having a fainting spell over Tom DeLay's having been appointed by Congress to investigate himself.

For that matter, I'm still wating for at least a discussion of the Ohio recount lawsuit's getting tossed out of court.

VA Nurse in New Mexico accused of sedition

Here is part of the text of a letter to the editor written by Laura Berg, a clinical nurse specialist in Albuquerque, New Mexico:

I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government. The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes!...The public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder....

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Bob Marley's house to be declared national monument

Bob Marley's house, which is now the home of the Toff Gong International music studio in Kingston, will soon be declared a national monument in Jamaica.

I saw the house many years ago when I visited the island. I also got to visit a recording studio in Kingston. When I visited, there were army tanks on the street, and reggae was still banned on the radio. The recordings had the song on one side, and the "version" on the other, and the Jamaican "discos" were pleasant, outdoor facilities.

Coretta Scott King's Wikipedia entry attacked by illiterate hater

It's gone now, but some non-speller felt compelled to add some "information" about King's early sex life and introduction to HIV.

What surprises me is that, given the wiki nature of the site, this type of thing doesn't happen more often. Maybe it does, and the site administrators are ever vigilant.

Sorting out the terrorists isn't easy

Someone on a popular liberal message board has asked the inevitable question: Should the U.S. bomb Alabama? Obviously, the place is crawling with terrorists.

And that got me to thinking...Why hasn't the Homeland Security color been changed? Where are the magnetic auto ribbons? I mean, it's the Baptists' facilities that are being set on fire, for god's sake. Where is the outrage? I can understand the lack of interest if the Unitarians were being terrorized, but these are the churches that helped put Bush in the White House. Their members are anti-homosexual, Bible-quoting Christians, and--most important--many of them are white.

On the other hand, aren't we still best friends with Saudi Arabia?

Laura, you're doing a heck of a job

From Gallup News Service:

While her husband George W. Bush struggles to improve his low job approval ratings, Laura Bush remains a very popular first lady. Her current job approval ratings are among the most positive ratings Gallup has recorded for a first lady.

Job approval? Even though I know the First Lady is always very busy, I have trouble thinking of her activities as a "job" (the exception being Jacqueline Kennedy, who has rarely received serious credit for her significant role in carrying out our nation's foreign relations). Imagine, though I know it isn't easy, the United States with a woman president. Does anyone seriously think we would be rating the First Gentleman's "job performance" based on his success at throwing state dinners, his literacy program, or how well he stood by his wife?

More likely, our culture would mock him. I cannot imagine a First Gentleman not holding a "real" job while his wife was in office. But if a First Lady were to announce she planned to continue her law practice or professorship, well...consider what happened to Dr. Steinberg.

Just because what a First Lady does is not a paid vocation subject to employer scrutiny does not mean that it has to be useless. Consider Lady Bird Johnson, whom people made fun of at the time, but who turned out to be a wise and creative environmentalist. Or Betty Ford, who educated an entire nation on the treatment of addictive disorders.

Now consider Laura Bush, who I understand is a very well-read, intelligent woman. Put aside for a moment the fact that she is married to a dishonest, idiotic war criminal. What is is that she has done that has gotten her such a high approval rating? I'll tell you what she has done: She has kept her mouth shut. Early on, she committed the sin of saying she was pro-choice, and ever since then, the most daring thing she has said is that she hoped George would appoint a woman to the Supreme Court.

America likes its women to shut the hell up. If you shut up, you are feminine. If you shut up, no one can say you are "shrill."

She has allowed, however, that women and girls in countries where rape is an everyday affair, in and out of marriage, should just say "no" and stay away from those birth control education classes.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

You turned your back for a moment, and they did it again

Republicans in the House of Representatives have given Tom DeLay a seat on the Appropriations Committee. That's laughable, yes, but guess what else they gave him? A seat on the subcommittee which oversees the Justice Department. Sound familiar? It should--that's the subcommittee that is investigating the influence-peddling scandal involving Jack Abramoff.

Ohio election suit dismissed by judge

Yesterday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit from Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Bednarik and Green Party candidate David Cobb, both of whom have been waiting for recounts of the 2004 vote. Judge James G. Carr dismissed the case--despite his agreement that Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell's actions "arguably" conflicted with federal law--on the grounds that the U.S. Constitution prohibits lawsuits against states in federal court. There are a few exceptions, but Judge Carr ruled that the suit did not meet the requirements for an exception.

John Kerry was not a party to the lawsuit.

"More of a threat to the United States than the Russians"

More on Betty Friedan's life from Ellen Goodman.

Some thoughts on the "politicization" of King's funeral

Coretta Scott King was an anti-war, anti-poverty, pro-justice activist. One cannot imagne the subjects of war, poverty, and justice not being discussed at her funeral. Could the speakers, particularly Dr. Lowery, have talked about what King stood for without alluding to current events? Yes. Would they have then sounded like natural-born fools? Yes. And would critics have still found the "hidden meanings" in the text? Yes.

One does have to be careful not to go over the top, though. Imagine, for example, that a bunch of crazy people from Saudi Arabia used American airplane passengers to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, kill roughly 3,000 Americans, and temporarily wreck the U.S. economy. Now imagine that that horrific incident was used to sell Americans on the idea of invading Iraq, spying on citizens, removing peaceful protesters from public gatherings, holding people in prisons without benefit of trial or attorney, and establishing secret prisons throughout the world. Imagine that, after this incident occurred, Americans became convinced that anyone disagreeing with the above outrags would be considered a hater of America.

That would be carrying it too far.

The Heretik has a poem for you.

There's one gone, but how many more are there?

George C. Deutsch, the Bush-appointed NASA staff member who told public affairs workers to limit reporters' access to a top climate scientist and was responsible for adding the word "theory" to every agency website mention of the Big Bang, is gone. It seems there was a little problem with his resume: It says he graduated from Texas A&M University, and university officials have confirmed that he did not.

Deutsch did attend Texas A&M, but he did not graduate. However, the 24-year-old official (and apparently, unofficial) information distorter did work on Bush's re-election campaign and on the inaugural committee.

Deuthsch resigned from NASA yesterday when it became clear that he had falsified his resume.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hannity's Holy Trinity

Tonight, on his show, Sean Hannity decried cartoons and jokes that are "anti-Bush, anti-God, anti-Jesus." I have no idea why he left the Virgin Mary out.

Two civil rights leaders dead, but one is ignored

Daily Pepper is expressing my own outrage: Why is Betty Friedan's death not getting the same attention Coretta Scott King's is? Both were major civil rights leaders, and Friedan's work led to an entire movement. If ever there were two deaths that deserved the nation's top attention, it is these, but Friedan has left us with barely a stirring remark made.

Florida Pastor throws puppies out of truck

Vincent Kohn, pastor of the Annointed Church of God in Springfield, Florida, recently displayed his Christian compassion by throwing puppies out of his pickup truck. According to a witness, "He was actually throwing them, not setting them down, but throwing them as far as the trees. Just chucking them."

Police detectives found the puppies' mother malnourished and and chained up at Kohn's home, along with five other puppies who had no food or water. Several of the puppies were missing patches of fur and had sores on their skin.

Kohn cursed and threatened news reporters who came to his house. He was arrested and charged with animal cruelty and abandonment.

Will Iowa's health plan permit Tom Vilsack to get a spine?

The Iowa governor said yesterday that Democrats "risk political backlash if they object to the Bush administration's wiretapping but cannot show that Americans' civil liberties are at risk." He went on to say: "If the president broke the law, that's unacceptable. But I think it's debatable whether he did."

Nagin looks for help outside U.S., and Blanco sticks to her guns

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is considering seeking foreign assistance for the city since the government of the United States appears unwilling to rebuild it. Both France and Jordan have expressed an interest in helping. There is, by the way, no new Katrina aid in Bush's new budget.

And Governor Kathleen Blanco has not backed down from her stand on oil leases. The governor declared again, in the opening speech of the current special legislative session, that Louisiana would block future exploration in the Gulf of Mexico unless Louisiana finally received its fair share of oil and gas royalties. "It's time to play hardball," Blanco said, "because I believe that's the only game Washington understands."

Danish newspaper made a different decision on Jesus cartoon

The Guardian has a story today about Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that ran the cartoons heard around the world. It turns out that three years ago, the Sunday editor turned down an illustrator's cartoons about Jesus because, he said, they were not funny and "could cause an outcry."

The editor's explanation is "In the Muhammad drawings case, we asked the illustrators to do it. I did not ask for these cartoons. That's the difference."

This "explanation" only makes things worse, I'm afraid, though I know what he was trying to say--that he did not find the unsolicited cartoon funny, but he found the one he personally asked for appropriate.

It doesn't matter, anyway. There is nothing anyone can say that could introduce logic to a situation in which people are dying over a cartoon.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Chinese journalist serving 10-year sentence for sending email

Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, wrote for Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News), a Chinese Daily. On April 30, he was convicted of sending foreign-based websites the text of an internal message that the Chinese government had sent to his newspaper to warn journalists of possible unrest that could result from the return of certain dissidents on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Shi concurs that he sent the email, but denies that he is guilty of "illegally providing state secrets to foreign entitites."

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

British government defying Global Gag Rule

From feministing comes news that

The British government will today publicly defy the United States by giving money for safe abortion services in developing countries to organisations that have been cut off from American funding.

The Department of International Development will contribute 3 million pounds over two years. Nearly 70,000 women and girls died last year because of back-street abortions, and hundreds of thousands were injured. By defying George W. Bush's Global Gag Rule, the British government hopes to encourage other countries to do likewise.

Blog will be down for a while tonight

All Blogger blogs will be down tonight for about an hour for routine maintenance, starting at 9 p.m. CST.

Reactions to Massachusetts gay bar attacks

Jacob Robita, the Massachusetts gay bar attacker, is dead following a shootout with police in Arkansas. Robita attacked two bar patrons with a hatchet, and shot another. He then went on the run and killed a woman he picked up on the road, after which he kiled a police officer.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

She can make us angry, but when she's good...

She's very, very good. A big virtual bouquet of roses goes to Sen. Dianne Feinstein for her questioning of Alberto Gonzales at the hearings. She let him get away with nothing, and she posed this hypothesis (my words): If Bush believes it is within his authority to ignore the law, why wouldn't he consider it within his authority to have the attorney general lie?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Betty Friedan, mother of the Second Wave, dies

Betty Friedan, a major figure in the Second Wave of American feminism, died yesterday, on her birthday, at age 85. When Friedan published The Feminine Mystique in 1963, she spoke for the thousands of American women who suffered from what Friedan called "the problem that has no name"--feelings of unfulfillment and dissatisfaction from a lifetime of suppressing their own needs and desires. Friedan examined what forced domesticity and dependence on men had done to the psyche of American women, and in doing so, struck the spark that turned into a new phase of the women's movement in this country.

What Friedan did not know was that this movement would also embrace issues of women's sexuality, including lesbian identity and gay rights, and she was appalled when the movement took such an inclusive turn. Later in her life, however, Friedan became more socially conscious and joined other feminists in including a wide variety of issues on the agenda of the movement.

Friedan founded the National Organization for Women and the organization that is now known as NARAL. She was the co-founder, with Bella Abzug and Glorida Steinem, of the National Women's Political Caucus.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

DED Space may be down for a while

Changes in progress...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Jeb Bush wants federal government out of Everglades cleanup

Florida governor Jeb Bush wants to get rid of the federal judge who has accused the state of violating its promises regarding cleaning up the Everglades. Bush has aggressively sought the end of the 1992 cleanup court order, and has apparently taken his campaign to the Justice Department, the Department of the Interior, the EPA, and Karl Rove.

$100,000 a minute

That's how much the war in Iraq is costing us, but we are somehow not able to pay to correct the rather gigantic Army Corps of Engineers mistake that has almost destroyed New Orleans.

Meet John Boehner

Putting aside the obvious irony of selecting someone from Ohio to clean up the Republican Party's ethical problems, it seems like a good idea to take a look at who John Boehner, the new House Majority Leader, is. Boehner emerged, of course, in a role most had considered destined for Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri. Blunt, however, turned out to be too close to outgoing Majority Leader Tom DeLay for comfort, and Republican House members went with a safer choice.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

"...if women were respected and trusted as equals, abortion would hardly be an issue at all."

If you don't read anything else about abortion rights, read Media Girl's post on Gerri Santoro, Henry Hyde and his ilk, and the re-emergence of back-alley abortions.

Screaming cattle, still conscious, crushed to death at New Jersey slaughterhouse

Welcome to factory farming. A Trenton, New Jersey police officer recently described to the Trenton City Council what he witnessed at the Trenton Halal Meat Packing Company: cows and bulls being crushed to death against a concrete wall, screaming as their bones snapped.

The Humane Slaughter Act exempts religious animal slaughter interests from the requirement that animals be stunned before they are killed.

If you would like to help stop what is going on in Trenton, here is some contact information.

"I think it glorifies Satan in some way"

That's what a Bennett, Colorado parent said upon learning that an elementary school teacher showed first, second, and third graders a video about the opera Faust to her students. The video series, Who's Afraid of Opera? features Dame Joan Sutherland and some puppets, who have a discussion of Gounod's opera.

The superintendent of schools has declared that the teacher, Tresa Waggoner, was wrong to show the video to students that young, and the teacher has been accused of being a Satan worshipper, of course. Waggoner plans to relocate soon, presumably someplace where she can make child sacrifices and engage in s&m orgies.

Friday cat blogging--condo lifestyle edition

Thursday, February 02, 2006

When immigrants invade your country and trash it

Bradford Plumer has a detailed report at MoJo Blog.

Women of the Storm--easily blown away

By now, most people have probably heard that the Women of the Storm, a group of 129 women from New Orleans, went to Washington, DC Monday to urge members of Congress to visit the areas destroyed by Katrina. One of them, Cecile Tebo, a licensed clinical social worker, says in an editorial in today's Times-Picayune:

Like many of the women on the trip, before Katrina, I lived a very Ozzie and Harriet lifestyle. We worked and raised our families with little interest in politics or the goings-on of the federal government.

According to reports, all 129 of the women who went to Washington are supposedly leaders of some type--in their careers, in community groups, etc. If what Tebo says is true--that most of them lived with no interest in the goings-on of the federal government, that is frightening indeed. This means that they have been paying no attention while their Ozzie and Harriet children are being poisoned by pollutors, their country is being turned into a prime target for terrorists, their teenagers are being taught that girls should be submissive and that condoms are not effective in preventing pregnancy, their veteran parents are getting their benefits slashed, their neighbors are being spied on, and their sons and daughters are being killed in a fake war.

Perhaps they left the deep thinking to Ozzie.

Waxman and Kucinich...where are you?

Here are the members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have called for the resignation or impeachment of George W. Bush:

Neil Abercrombie
Tammy Baldwin
Lois Caps
William Lacy Clay
John Conyers
Sheila Jackson Lee
John Lewis
Jim McDermott
Cynthia McKinney
Jerrold Nadler
Major Owens
Donald Payne
Charles Rangel
Bobby Rush
Jan Schakowsky
Fortney "Pete" Stark
Maxine Waters
Lynn Woolsey

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Zahn moves CNN even farther to the right

For some time now, CNN has been an effective mouthpiece for the Bush administration, mostly through innuendo, flag-waving, and omission. Now, with Paula Zahn's help, the network's shift ever farther right has become more overt. Media Matters for America has documented several of Zahn's recent stunts, including this one:

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Roxie freaks out over Alito

A few moments ago, I was in the bedroom doing some straightening up. The television was on, and Alito was being sworn in again. Out of nowhere, Roxie ran into the room, stopped in front of the TV, bushed out, growled loudly at Alito, then kept running.

You can fool Republicans, but tabby cats say--Can't get fooled again!

You don't get picked for the goon squad because of your hefty intellect

Beverly Young's assessment of the security officer who dragged her out of the State of the Union event--"Then you are an idiot"--says it all. When dissenting silently is called "protest," and supporting is called "protest," there are idiots at work.

In an attempt to ward off criticism that dissenters are punished, the Bush goon squad decided to punish supporters, too. Only they are so stupid they called the support "protest."

But this is the land where using the word "niggardly" gets you fired for racism; literacy is not exactly a priority.

Perhaps just letting the women cover up their shirts would have been sufficient. Perhaps buying a dictionary would be helpful, presuming they know how to read. And here's a novel idea: Let people express themselves freely.

How the Culture of Nice is destroying America

My psychotherapy clients, on an alarmingly frequent basis, begin sentences with the words "I don't want to say anything bad about him..." then go on to describe fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives who beat, cheat, lie, molest, and deceive. But they want to make sure I know that they really don't want to say anything bad about their family members or co-workers or neighbors.

Just this morning, a Democrat called in to C-Span's "Washington Journal" to say he did not agree with George W. Bush's policies, but he was tired of members of his party criticizing the Bush. (I would like to know who these Democrats are, because I haven't heard them do anything but kiss Bush's ass since 1999.) "They need to be positive!" he said.

Well, here are the facts: Bush was put into office by a collection of large oil companies who, of course, did not put him there because they liked his taste in clothes. He got to the White House because of big oil and a dishonest election process. He got there the second time through a dishonest election process. He lied to the American people in order to invade a country for no reason at all, and caused thousands of deaths and maimings. He put the country into debt, and made us a bigger target for terrorists. He has instituted a program to suppress free speech, nominated judges who specialize in depriving people of their civil liberties, and put policies in place that protect pollutors. He has contributed to the suffering of thousands of Third World women and children from AIDS, given massive tax cuts to the very wealthy, and appointed a long list of criminals and morally distasteful people to positions in his administration.

And we're not supposed to say anything bad about him?

The same "nice" culture I see in my office is the one that chastises us if we do not "respect" Bush because he is the president. First of all, he isn't the legally elected president. But even if he were, that is like saying children must respect their parents because they are parents, which is also an American value. People have to earn respect, and they do not do so by neglecting, abusing, and setting terrible examples.

Americans do not want to know the truth because it might make them feel bad, and it is important to feel good at all times. "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

A few years ago, a woman in my office was describing her son's psychosis. He was paranoid, and part of an anti-federal government survivalist-type movement. She started her description by saying to me: "You know how you always assume the president of the United States is acting for the good of the country?"

I told her, "No, I don't assume that." Her eyes got wide, and I realized that those of us who do not believe that our leaders necessarily have our best interest at heart are assumed to be mentally ill.

What is mentally ill is mass denial. Stealing is stealing. Lying is lying. Fraud is fraud. Oppression is oppression. Torture is torture. Hypocrisy is hypocrisy. Those who commit these things are not "nice." They are evil. Someone needs to speak up.

Governor Blanco finally utters the magic words

That all other Louisiana governors have failed to say.

Tim Kaine achieved a notable accomplishment last night

He actually made John Kerry look like the opposition.

Bush: "Today our nation lost a beloved, graceful, and courageous woman, who called America to its founding ideals..."

Reality: Coretta Scott King stood for world justice. The administration condones inhumane treatment of prisoners, sanctions secret prisons, and practices rendition.

Democratic response: Silence

Reality: King fought for affirmative action. The White House appoints judges that oppose it.

Democratic response: Silence

Reality: King was an advocate for gay rights. The Bush administration opposes gay marriage and supports the states which have taken civil liberties from gay citizens.

Democratic response: Silence

Bush: "The terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear."

Reality: George W. Bush has chosen the weapon of fear, right within the homeland.

Democratic response: Silence

Bush: "We're on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory."

Reality: No one has yet to outline that plan.

Democratic response: Silence

Bush: "In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS..."

Reality: The Bush administration has allowed right-wing Christian organizations to dictate its AIDS policies, depriving women and girls of crucial disease prevention education, and has fought to keep affordable AIDS medicines out of the hands of Third World victims.

Democratic response: Silence

Bush: "The terrorist survellance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks."

Reality: There is no evidence whatsoever that the interventions to which he referred could not have been made without illegal surveillance, and plentiful evidence that they could have been made.

Democratic response: Silence

Bush: "We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy--even though this economy could not function without them."

Reality: The corporate-driven economy does not want to function without a large work force that receives very low wages and no protections from abuse.

Democratic response: Silence

Bush: "We need more than temporary tax relief. I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent."

Reality: The great bulk of the tax cuts have gone to the very wealthy, while health care, veterans' programs, educational programs, and first responder needs have been continually cut.

Democratic response: Silence

Bush: "America is addicted to oil."

Reality: Bush was put into office by oil companies, who donated unprecedented millions of dollars, over and over, to his campaigns. Oil companies have also been the greatest recipients of the administration's generosity, particularly with regard to the Iraq war.

Democratic response: Silence

Bush: "We must also change how we power our automobiles."

Reality: Bush said this a few years ago, and then promptly ignored it.

Democratic response: Silence

Bush: "A hopeful society expects elected officials to uphold the public trust."

Reality: The Bush administration is based on corruption. There are truckloads of evidence that the Bush campaign stole both the 2000 and the 2004 elections. Bush has repeatedly appointed people of dubious ethical character (in some cases, convicted criminals) to positions in the administration. He has told multiple lies about everything from weapons of mass destruction to his association with corporate thugs. He has prevented Congress from obtaining vital information related to September 11 and to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Administration agencies such as the EPA have deliberately omitted and distorted official information in order to protect companies which poison the air, water, and food. The religious right has been permitted by the White House to enter the schools and tell lies about disease prevention that could endanger the lives of adolescents.

Democratic response: Silence

Bush: "We're removing debris and repairing highways and rebuilding stronger levees. We're providing business loans and housing assistance."

Reality: The people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast would beg to differ.

Democratic response: Silence

"... we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived."

Reality: Bush is refusing to cooperate with the commissions investigating those challenges.

Democratic response: Silence

Did Kaine actually say anything besides "There's a better way?" Yes, a few times. He responded directly to Bush's statement, "We've made a good start in the early grades, with the No Child Left Behind Act..." Kaine pointed out that NCLB had caused chaos in school systems throughout the nation. Bush said "Our government has a responsibility to provide health care to the poor and elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility," and Kaine brought up the cuts in Medicaid.

Kaine also addressed the fact that Bush wants to keep the tax cuts even though there is a huge national debt. Bush said, "
We must keep our word...and stand behind the American military in this vital mission....We're grateful to all who wear our nation's uniform." Kaine responded that our soldiers had inadequate body armor and veterans' programs had been cut, but he failed to mention inadequate miltary vehicle protection, lack of improvement in the nation's veterans' medical facilities, and lack of protection for female soldiers are are raped and sexually assaulted.

Generally speaking, Kaine ignored the corruption, duplicity, dishonesty, Constitution-bashing, stonewalling, and amorality of the Bush administration.

One commentator--I forget who--made the delicious point that Kaine performed a piece of "life imitates irony," in that his speech echoed the superficiality and hollowness of the Robert Redford character's in The Candidate.