Friday, June 30, 2006
Violence and antisocial behavior in sports--the American way
A pro football player is arrested for failing to stop at stop signs, playing very loud music, and hauling marijuana (and a gun, but that may have been legal) around in his car. A pro baseball coach calls a sports writer a "fag."
And a very significant number of players (from many countries) in the World Cup punch, kick, trip, tear the shirts of their opponents, and fake injuries in order to turn the fate of the game around.
These are some sports news items from the month of June, many of them from the last few days. In a nation where a man convicted of rape and multiple vicious assauts is still idolized by sports fans, it is no wonder that some days, you have to look carefully to distinguish the sports page from the crime section of the newspaper.
Multiple reports of both college and pro ballplayers sexually assaulting women, abusing substances and punching and/or threatening other players and fans are everywhere. Again--no surprise. America is a violent country. We love guns, fights, war, punishment, and hitting children. We tolerate violence against women. We torture millions of animals a day at labs and factory farms. We say that a man who loves peace is missing his testicles and that having testicles somehow equals courage.
A man who can run very fast or hit a ball hard or use a gun against an enemy is a "hero," but a man or woman who negotiates peace or produces breathtaking art or tells the truth about governmental shams is either not a household name or is a "traitor."
Sports are part of our lives. We like to play them, watch them and follow them. For many of us, the athletes we enjoy watching are probably not people with whom we would want to have a serious conversation (I know that's true in my case), but we also should not consider it acceptable when they are violent, threatening and lawless.
You can't leak something that's already overflowing
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Friday cat blogging--rescue edition
These siblings--two orange brothers and their gray tabby sister, were glad to be reunited. They will go up for adoption.
This feral tabby tries to figure out what's going on. In the next cage, there is another feral tabby who is almost identical to this one.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
An inconvenient truth
U.S. Supreme Court strikes down military tribunal plans
Coalition of eleven insurgent groups tries to make a deal with the U.S.
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Greek professor denied entry into the U.S.
A tall tale
That means no rising above others in crowds, no taking things effortlessly off of high shelves, no buying the "tall" size pants from L.L. Bean, and by all means--no basketball. Even though you are tall, by not acting tall, you save yourself from the consequences of sin. I actually know some tall people (though not very well--after all, we don't have much in common), and they are polite, mow their lawns, and mind their own business. But too many tall people flaunt their height, even in front of my family, and it pains me to know that they are all going to hell.
I guess I believe you when you say you cannot be short. I suppose that is your bad fortune, but it gives you no right to be proud of your tallness. Even though you are tall, you can still contribute to society, and we will all pray for you, but when you pass me on the street, I ask that you stoop to my level.
They voted for it before they voted against it
The non-binding resolution calls on church authorities "to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate (for bishop) whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that "The wider Communion will therefore need to reflect carefully on the significance of what has been decided before we respond more fully."
In case you're wondering what that means, Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., explained it on "Fresh Air" today. Griswold said that American Episcopalians need to be in a personal dialogue with Anglicans in other parts of the world so that they can form relationships with members of the U.S. church, and therefore be more open to new ideas. That sounds good on the face of it, but how many people from deeply conservative cultures are ever really going to accept the ordination of gay bishops? And how much effort will the church make to activate this dialogue?
Also, the Episcopal Church of the U.S. does not recognize gay marriage and does not officially endorse the blessing of gay partnerships. So, in review, American Episcopal churches need to stop ordaining gay bishops whose partnerships they haven't blessed.
There was also a lot of talk about respecting the dignity and contributions of gay church members, which made me think of how the Baptist (and other) churches bend over backwards to explain that women are to be "respected," even though they cannot be ordained or can never be the heads of their households.
Note to ESPN
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Homelessness a threat to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Got cruelty and hormones?
Then there's the matter of the growth hormones that are injected into the cows, and the repeated artificial inseminations that create disease, which means chronic use of antibiotics. That is what people are drinking in this "wholesome" drink.
If you drink organic milk, you are drinking a much healthier beverage, but the cruelty is only slightly less, in that, at some organic dairies, cows are allowed to graze freely.
Davenport's native California "happy cows" are anything but that.
I will never understand why anyone would promote cruelty instead of fighting against it. But animal rights issues aside, it baffles me that athletes, of all people, are promoting a product that is anything but healthy.
Monday, June 26, 2006
If my head hasn't exploded by now, I guess it never will
The family has filed a federal lawsuit against the school district.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell, just spy
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Just when you think you've seen the most obscene vehicle decorations possible...
And whether the combination was purposeful or unconscious really didn't matter. The resulting image pretty much said it all.
Who doesn't like a bit of irony from time to time?
The City On The Road To Recovery
Teen's Body Found In Lake Ponchartrain
Deputies Investigate Fatal Shooting In Harvey
A day to think about torture
Torture surrounds us on every level. The torture of women is institutionalized, as is the torture of non-humans. Is it any surprise, then, that people of all nations do not rise up against political torture?
Much of the out-and-out American support of political torture is based on unclear thinking:
We need the information any way we can get it. Perhaps, but if you were being tortured, don't you think you'd say anything to get your torturers to stop?
They are the enemy. Actually, many of them are not; they have been caught up in a "homeland security" net that picks up a number of innocent people as well as legitimate suspects.
If we bring the activity down just a notch, we can call it something besides "torture." Fine--would you be willing to have the down-a-notch activity done to you?
We have a right to do anything our government deems necessary in order to win the "war on terror." Well, now that our government has widely increased terrorist sentiment against us, it may seem that way. But international law says we do not have that right. And common sense says that the more we torture others, the more others will torture us.
One final thought...a significant number of Americans who support torture (of political prisoners--almost all Americans appear to support torture in some other ways) identify as Christian. It is really, really difficult for me to imagine Jesus advocating torture, but what do I know?
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Equal prize money at Wimbledon?
For those still too heartless to care about the cruelty of factory farming...
Factory farm may soon have to get permits from the so-callled Environmental Protection Agency when farm animal waste winds up in local rivers, streams and lakes. And guess who the EPA has put in charge of determining what pollution is? If you guessed "the farmers," you win a prize!
A federal appeals court ordered the EPA to also consider formulating new standards for disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites in factory farm run-off, but the agency has decided not to do so.
Clitoridectomy--an American tradition
There is a chapter (co-authored by Robin Morgan) on clitoridectomy and its variations, which are too horrible to describe. One of the things Steinem makes very clear is that it wasn't until the 1990s that even the most "progressive" human rights organizations included female genital mutilation in their campaigns or in their funding. It just wasn't seen as an important issue, and when someone brought it up, it was referred to as a "cultural difference."
Clitoridectomy was sometimes performed in the United States, as this essay desribes, in the 19th Century, as a means of "curing" masturbation (it worked) in women, and men who were known to masturbate were also subjected to terrible tortures, such as having acid poured on their penises. The essay goes on to to say that the advent of the 20th Century brought about an end to the use of clitoridectomy in the U.S. Steinem refutes this assertion, however, by referring to clitoridectomies performed in the U.S. in the 1950s to--you guessed it--stop female masturbation, "melancholia," "promiscuity," and to "cure" lesbianism (because everyone knows that "mature," i.e., heterosexual, women have "vaginal" orgasms).
Some of you may remember the "love surgery" procedure from the 1970s, in which the clitoris was moved to a different location (in our current political climate, those in charge would probably like to move it to somewhere in Old Europe). This little bit of "progress" in the medical community finally acknowledged two things: that women receive sexual pleasure via the clitoris, and that women were entitled to receive such pleasure. But instead of encouraging men to "find" the clitoris (how did they lose it?!) and learn to stimulate it, the medical community's answer was to just move the damned thing so the penis could get to it more easily during intercourse. Aside from being incredibly male-centric and misogynistic, this "solution" was also a product of ignorance, for not all women can receive successful clitoral stimulation from intercourse.
In 1979, one American doctor was completely reconstucting women's vaginas so that the penis could have "better access."
Last year, when Eve Ensler appeared on Real Time, she made the rest of the (male) panel visibly uncomfortable when she said that though behaviors may differ, attitudes toward women and girls are the same in this country as they are everywhere else in the world. A short history of clitoridectomy in America shows us that sometimes, even behaviors are the same.
Friday, June 23, 2006
White skirts, strawberries, begin...
Monday marks the first day of the 2006 Championships at Wimbledon. The Grand Slam on grass, always made more interesting by rain interruptions, is the favorite of many tennis fans (not this fan, though it is the one that got me started--I was in London when the great Evonne Goolagong won her first Wimbledon). The Brits do not award equal prize money to men and women; in fact, they don't even give equal per diem money to men and women. However, they did bother to give the officials new Ralph Lauren uniforms.
This year, for the first time, Web viewers can buy either an all-access pass or day passes to watch streaming video of matches.
Neither Lindsay Daveport nor Mary Pierce will be there; both are sidelined with injury. This is especially sad for Davenport and her fans. In 2004, she was leading in her semifinal against Maria Sharapova. There was a rain delay, and during that time out, Davenport underwent an emotional slump, suddenly feeling all the fatigue and stress of her long time on the road. Her husband rallied her to go on, but when she returned after the lengthy delay, Sharapova took over and won the match. She also went on to win the tournament.
Last year, Davenport made it to the final and lost in a thrilling, high-quality, heartbreaking match against Venus Williams. It was the longest women's final in Wimbledon history, and Williams took it, 4-6, 7-6, 9-7. I was depressed for days. To make matters worse, Davenport had somewhat of a physical breakdown during the 2005 Australian Open final, and in the 2004 U.S. Open, she became injured while playing (and losing) her semifinal against Svetlana Kuznetsova, who went on to win the tournament. She has come so close to winning another Grand Slam during the past few years, but nothing has gone her way.
Players to watch:
The Greek player is as streaky as you can get, but on grass, she shines, and her serve-and-volley game can be dangerous. She just reached the semifinals at Ordina, and last year, she took out Justine Henin-Hardenne in the first round of Wimbledon.
Santangelo is another serve-and-volley player whose game should be at its best at Wimbledon. I'm not sure why Santangelo hasn't done better in grass tournaments.
Another player who can volley like mad and could do some real damage to players seeded higher.
"Slammin' Sam," number one in the world in doubles, has a wonderful serve, is a great volleyer and is a lot of fun to watch. But, as people have pointed out, Stosur is at her best when she is defending, and given a chance to take control of a match, she tends to flub. Here's hoping that won't happen next week; Stosur is one of the biggest delights on the tour.
Players to seriously watch:
World number one Mauresmo had her usual crash-out at the French Open, and she was knocked out of the second round at Eastbourne this week. But never mind that. Her biggest nemesis at Wimbledon, where she has reached the semifinals the last few years, has been Serena Williams (their 2004 match was one of the best women's matches I've seen this decade), and Williams won't be there this year. Though she is an all-surface player, grass is Mauresmo's best surface by far.
Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004, became a household name, and hasn't won a Slam since. But grass is her surface, and she is surely very hungry to win again. Last year, she lost her semifinal against eventual winner Venus Williams (the mutual screaming was more than I could take). Sharapova has a great second serve and is mentally tough. Like Serena Williams, she can find amazing shots when she needs them.
She may be the Clay Court Queen, and Wimbledon may be the only Grand Slam she hasn't won (she was a the finalist in 2001), but she is to be feared on any surface. When Henin-Hardenne is on, she's very difficult to beat, though it can be done. Some think that her post-virus physical fragility will prevent her from playing her best after her full two weeks' work at the French Open, but I think differently.
Clijsters has been complaining of never feeling physically right anymore, and clay season was really hard on her body. A grass court gives her muscles a rest, however, and since she is one of the speediest women on the tour, the fast pace of grass suits her game well. Clijsters does have meltdowns from time to time, but if she is up, she is a threat to take the tournament.
Because her game is still the best one to watch on the women's tour. And if--and only if--she doesn't have to use that joke of a second serve, she is a contender.
The defending champion and three-time Wimbledon winner. Say no more.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Going after the "real" terrorists
The French were not present, so at least the Greenpeace ship wasn't bombed.
The Supreme Court does a very good thing
I heard a report about it on NPR, and a spokesperson for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was disappointed and said something to the effect of "Oh well, we'll just have to train people not to retaliate." You have to train people not to retaliate against their employees? I guess you do. His statement pretty said it all.
Terry Gross interviews Joseph Margulies
Group of Republicans stalls renewal of Voting Rights Act
Maybe not. Today, just as the vote to renew the Voting Rights Act was about to take place, some members of the Republican Party met behind closed doors and decided to stall the vote. Their reason? That some of the requirements of the act were no longer relevant to key southern states that historically have tried to prevent African Americans from voting. Two Congressmen from Georgia, Lynn Westmoreland and Jack Kingston, led the movement to delay the vote, and they were joined by 78 other Republicans.
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
This is how stupid a lot of people are...
What if we hadn't invaded Iraq?
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
The book banners are at it again
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
ROFLMAO, or something like that
Women sue state trooper and member of Santorum's promotional team
That trooper, Sgt. Mark DiJiacomo, has been sued by four of the women and one minor, and there is also a suit against an unidentified member of Santorum's team. The women have filed the suit because of the deprivation of the First and Fourth Amendment rights, and for distress caused by false arrest and threats.
If you are going to argue against anti-cruelty campaigns, at least have a clue what you're talking about
PETA did not smash up any lab buildings. PETA has never destroyed any property. PETA is subversive, not lawless.
Yes, there is something wrong with Beyonce, the Williams sisters, or anyone wearing fur. We may not agree that it is wrong to kill an innocent creature because you want to look chic in a Miami club (and yes, I think there is something frightening about your not agreeing), but how can we not agree that it is wrong to torture that creature before it dies? Leghold traps, lifelong confinement in a tiny space, and anal electrocution are examples of extreme cruelty.
Yes, animals kill and eat each other in "nature." They also urinate and defecate wherever they happen to be, have sex with whoever is in heat wherever they happen to be, and physically attack whoever frightens them. So...are we "civilized" about some things and not about others? That's convenient. And anyway, other animals do not torture their prey before killing and eating it.
Telling animal rights group to "work for legislation" instead of participating in activist activites is, frankly, a ridiculous suggestion. They do work for legislation, of course. But waiting for legislative bodies to stop oppression has never worked because those bodies are made up of the oppressors, and of people who are afraid to act. There would be no black civil rights movement if there had been no sit-ins, marches and riots. There would be no gay rights movement without Stonewall. There would be no women's rights movement (such as it is) if the suffragists had not chained themselves to public buildings.
Humans are not superior to "animals." Humans are animals. If having a lesser-functioning brain means that you can be trapped, confined, tossed live into boiling water, dragged behind a truck, force-fed, and anally electrocuted, then I should be wearing Sean Hannity-skin shoes and carrying a Michelle Malkin-skin handbag.
On "playing the blame game"
Bashing Blanco and Nagin became a national sport on talk shows, message boards, blogs, and in letters to the editor. Then memos of what actually happened were released, and the despicable Brown began spilling the beans and whining. It turned out that Blanco did request everything that she should have, that Bush knew about the crisis early on, that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers knew they were designing levees destined to fail.
The incompetence and gross immorality of these failings is colossal in nature, but when it came time to accuse the Corps of Engineers, Bush, Chertoff, etc., we were told "Don't play the blame game." "Stop playing the blame game." It was okay to accuse Blanco, Nagin, and the citizens of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast of being incompetent, lazy and ignorant, but to point the finger where most of the finger belongs is "playing the blame game" and is not allowed.
I have found that when people--conservatives, to be exact--are caught in deception and irresponsibility, any attack on them is part of a "blame game" that is "not constructive." I experience the same thing in my psychotherapy practice, on a more personal scale. If your mother beat you or your father molested you, "move on" and don't "blame" them.
I experience it as an animal rights activist, as a feminist, and as an LGBT rights activist. "Culture" and "tradition" are used to justify cruelty and bigotry every day.
I experience it in interpersonal communication. "I didn't mean anything by it." "I was just saying..."
Here is a novel idea: What if the group that is constantly hitting us on the head with the concept of "taking responsibility" took responsibility for destroying New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast?
When we will leave Iraq?
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Press secretary does Snow job on Imus
Once again, the Senate endorses fraud, waste and mismanagement
To my surprise, the American Episcopal Church does the right thing
Schultz-McCarthy returns to tennis, and not all the spin is topspin
A herniated disc stopped Schultz-McCartney's career in 1999, and she set up a tennis camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Last year, however, she coached the Netherlands' Fed Cup team, and when she realized she could play better than her team members, she decided to give the tour another go.
In order to get back into professional tennis, Schultz-McCarthy had to hand over most of her considerable tour winnings to repay her insurance money from the injury. Though she won the DFS Classic in 1992, the tournament declined to give her a wild card, which many of us think was on the mean side. She then entered the Ordina Open, where she has already made it to the round of 16, having beaten both Laura Granville and Poland's talented Marta Domachowska.
Schultz-McCarthy is 35 years old. When Pete Sampras won his last U.S. Open, he was 31. Everyone said what an amazing athlete he was. If Schultz-McCarthy keeps winning, some people will say she is a good athlete, but many will say her success just proves how bad the women's tour is. They are already saying it. What a difference a gender makes.
Flag Protection Amendment is scary, unnecessary, and vague as all get-out
It is quite a stretch to call the U.S. flag a monument. The flag is not an erected structure or an original document ecased in glass, but rather, a reproducible symbol. It also does not symbolize a shared belief--conservatives abandoned the Constitution and the foundations of the republic some time ago. Of course, it is wrong to deface a flag that is flying on a government building, a business, or someone's house. That is vandalism, and is already illegal. I believe in harsh penalties for vandalism, but I do not believe that vandalism of a flag is any worse than vandalism of another part of someone else's property.
Feinstein, in an ambiguous statement that I hope is the fault of a bad copy editor at the newspaper, says:
The Flag Protection Amendment would not prohibit flag burning. Rather, the amendment would simply return to Congress the ability to protect the flag as it has been protected throughout most of this nation's history.
Actually, that is good to know, since part of standard flag etiquette, taught to us when we were children, is that the only proper way to dispose of a flag is to burn it. So if the FPA passes, will all proper burning/disposals of the flag have to be done under cover, or will people have to obtain permits to perform them? The amendment defines neither "flag" nor "desecration." If I have an American flag shirt and I cut it up to make rags to clean my car, am I in violation of the amendment? If I stand on my own property and set fire to my own personal American flag, can my neighbors report me to the police?
The Citizens Flag Alliance, which supports the amendment, lists some truly chilling reasons for supporting it:
It is commonly accepted today that the traditional values upon which our nation was founded and which find tangible expression in our respect for our flag are essential to the smooth functioning of a free society. Flag protection highlights and enhances these values and thus helps to preserve freedom and democratic government.
The government has a fundamental interest in protecting the most basic condition of freedom; our bond to one another in our aspiration for national unity. With traditional unifying elements of American language, culture and heritage fraying, the flag remains a single unifying embodiment of our unceasing struggle for liberty and equality and our basic commitment to others. The flag affirms that without some aspiration to national unity, a free people and constitutional government cannot long endure.
Finally, the flag is an important incident of our national sovereignty. The United States--like many other nations--displays the flag to signify national ownership and protection. By pronouncements in the earliest years of the Republic, the Framers of the Constitution made clear that the flag, and its physical requirements, related to the existence and sovereignty of the nation and that insults to the flag were matters of great national concern that warranted strict punitive action.
"Traditional values." "With traditional unifying elements of American language, culture and heritage fraying...." "...insults to the flag were matters of great national concern that warranted strict punitive action." Scare you to death? It ought to.
The FPA is not only unnecessary and hysterical, it is so vague that no one has any idea what it really means and what could be the consequences of its passage.
Pentagon document continues to classify homosexuality as a mental defect
The document, found by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, is not in accordance with other Pentagon mental health regulations, and is to be reviewed.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Halliburton contracts up by 600%
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Can't they at least be proud bigots?
And shouldn't you know that when you sign it?
And shouldn't you be proud to "protect" marriage?
Endorsements and party loyalty
During the gubernatorial election, Jindal made it clear that he wanted prayer of every fashion in schools and he wanted the Ten Commandments stuck everywhere imaginable, including, probably, my front yard. He is "pro-family," and also campaigned as being against abortion in all circumstances, including rape, incest, and to save the health or life of the mother.
So Nagin endorsed him. And I'm sure he endorsed him because of his bureaucratic skills, but that does not erase the fact that Jindal promotes an extreme right-wing agenda. The very good mayor of the town on whose outskirts I live endorsed Jindal, and our very effective parish president endorsed him, too. I appreciate the good work that both of these local Republican leaders have done, especially post-Katrina, but it does not remove the moral stain they now carry for endorsing someone who would rather see a woman die than permit any abortions to take place, and who seeks to destroy the U.S. Constitution.
As for Jindal--during the campaign, he talked about how happy he was that Baton Rouge was his home and how settled he was there with his pro-family family. When he lost the election, he promptly moved to a New Orleans suburb and was elected to Congress.
Thoughts on Torture Awareness Month
Extraordinary rendition, in which the U.S. has been very active, is the passive aggressive bureaucrat's preferred method of torture. Send the "person of interest" to a country where torture is a fine art, and then wipe your hands clean of the consequences. "Not out problem anymore." How convenient.
The events that took place at Abu Gharib are perfect examples of torture as an exercise in deriving sadistic pleasure. Prisoners were hurt and humiliated because it gave their captors a high to hurt and humiliate them, not because they were providing essential intelligence about a war that, by the way, is being fought for no reason.
There is nothing new about any of this. The way to get soldiers to be amoral and hyper-aggressive is to get them to hate the enemy. Last year in Harper's, there was an interview with a Palestinian soldier who said that he figured the Israeli soldiers were okay people, but it was his job to kill them, so that's what he did, and he did it well. There is nothing extraordinary in this soldier's statement: It is the nature of war. You kill or be killed, you kill because it is your job, or you kill because you have been taught to hate the enemy.
But the concept of torture is not confined to war. Remember, during the 90s, how eager so many thousands of Americans were for the young American prisoner in Singapore to be caned? Look at American prisons: Sadistic torture is often the order of the day. Look at many American homes, where children are beaten, whipped, burned, and routinely humiliated by kneeling on rice, sometimes while holding cans of food.
And finally, consider this: Many of the people who are so appalled by the treatment of prisoners at Abu Gharib and Guantanamo Bay sit down to discuss their indignation over a dinner of factory farm meat. Hogs crowded into gestation crates and hens stuffed into battery cages so small that they cannot turn around, downed animals left to die slow, painful deaths, very young and weak calves dragged behind trucks to slaughter houses, chickens' beaks cut off without anesthesia, chickens thrown up against wall for the "pleasure" of the chicken factory employees, geese with tubes forced down their throats to fatten them, veal calves confined to tiny cages where they, too are force-fed, hogs legs' pulled off, live chickens thrown into scalding water, sores and diseases everywhere, and on and on.
Some people were angry when PETA published its "A Holocaust On Your Plate" campaign, but a sentient being is a sentient being. I own the posters, and it is very, very hard to look at them.
In the end, the real difference between tortured humans and tortured non-humans is that the non-humans are eaten, worn as clothing, and swept away as lab trash.
It is time for Americans to take a look at our attitudes about torture. During wartime (even during fake wartime), we consider humiliation, pain, and rape "normal." Many parents consider the humiliation and pain of children to be "normal" because it reflects how they were treated by their own parents.
And millions of the biggest liberals around think nothing of dining on or wearing the products of daily, mass torture that is arguably the cruelest of all. If we are going to stop torture, we need to stop all of it.
People ask "When will New Orleans be back to normal?"
Two NOPD officers were recently arrested for shaking down a massage parlor owner.
An NOPD officer recently roughed up and threatened a Jefferson Parish taxi driver who was making a legitimate drop-off in the city.
Mayor Nagin ordered use of new landfill right smack on top of one of New Orleans' largest Vietnamese neighborhoods. Residents are afraid for their health, and also doubt whether the landfill is safe with regard to nearby major wetlands. Right before the election, Nagin stopped the dumping. Right after he got back in office, he resumed it.
Sounds normal to me.
Sometimes, there's nothing to be said
Sunday, June 18, 2006
The Episcopal Church in America: good news/bad news
Several delegates to the General Convention said that they "feared the global consequences" of this election. ''I can't help but consider the peculiar genius our church has for roiling the waters,'' said the Rev. Eddie Blue of Maryland. ''I am shocked, dismayed and saddened by the choice.''
Gee, Eddie, you would have been a colossal failure as an early Christian. And you don't sound like much of a modern one, either.
And get this--Rev. Blue is African American. So it's okay by him to roil the waters plenty as long as men are being honored. The pathetic hypocrisy in Blue's statement is beyond disheartening.
There are some at the General Convention who want the church to promise the Anglican Communion that the American church would stop blessing gay unions and would stop consecrating gay bishops. When the convention ends on Wednesday, we will know how that turns out.
Something we could sure use in the U.S.
I am tired of being referred to as a man
I told him we weren't guys, and he did that kind of "oh yeah I always say that, huh?" look, smiled, and said "What can I get you ladies?" We smiled back and ordered. He brought us our food, and a while later, came back and asked "How is it, guys...oops...ladies?" We smiled and said it was very good and thanked him.
Later he came back and asked "Can I get you g-...ladies some more tea? And there was a bite in the "ladies" because, you know, who the hell did I think I was, asking to be referred to as a woman and not a man?
I wouldn't have to do this if women gently reminded people that they are women and not men, and if women stopped calling women men. And if every feminist approached each group of men or each mixed gender group and said "Hey, what's up, you gals?"
Police dispute Supreme Court decision
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Jamea Jackson dethrones defending Birmingham champion Sharapova
In a thrilling, tight first set, and a second set that was over much sooner, American Jamea Jackson defeated DFS Classic defending champion Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-4, to go to the finals against Russia's Vera Zvonareva. Though the Birmingham tournament is a Tier 3 event, it is nevertheless important because it is one of only two grass court tournaments before Wimbledon.
Jackson had already burned her way through Jelena Jankovic and Elena Likhovtseva to get to today's semifinal. The Birmingham victories, plus her victories at the Fed Cup games, would have her jumping several ranking spots if quality points (exra points for beating players of higher rankings) were still awarded, but they are not. Jackson is currently 81st in the world, but her ranking will be higher as of Monday.
Zvonareva is a former top 10 player whose ranking tumbled because of her emotional fragility. She is a very talented player, however, and I hope she can get back into the top 10 where she belongs.
Macy's makes it even worse by lying
Now the gutless wonders at the department store say that removing the mannequins was a "mistake"--not a "we made a moral mistake" mistake, but an "oopsie" mistake, one of "miscommunication."
Federal aid denied to Iowa counties hit by tornadoes
Friday, June 16, 2006
Barack Obama--I don't buy what he's selling
I am a great admirer of our founding charter and its resolve to prevent theocracies from forming and its resolve to prevent disruptive strains of fundamentalism from taking root in this country. I think there is an enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God's mandate.
No one can accuse Obama of "claiming God's mandate," but he hasn't been shy about using religion to justify his lack of support of gay marriage. And Obama, like the other so-called liberals in Congress, knows full well that there is no difference whatsoever between gay marriage and a "civil union." Instead of attacking the language charlatans, Obama et al are the language charlatans.
Obama also said:
I don't think marriage is a civil right, but I think that not being discriminated against is a civil right.
This is "Is 'is' is?" territory. If marriage is not a civil right, but not being discriminated against is a civil right, then who determines what the exceptions to not being discriminated against are? Obama? And on what grounds should there be exceptions? Obama says on biblical grounds, exactly the grounds given for why his own biological parents' marriage was "illegitimate"--his father was black and his mother was white. This brings to mind Colin Powell, whose arguments against gays in the military are identical to the arguments that were used to keep African Americans out of the military.
There is a lot to like about Obama, but for me, someone cannot be called "progressive" until he gives the same blessing to gay citizens that he gives to heterosexual ones.
Please, please phone, email, or fax your Congresswoman or man
Please contact your Representative now and urge him or her to support this bill. It is a start.
Oglala Sioux president suspended by tribal council
On March 20, Fire Thunder announced that she would establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on the reservation, and consequently, she has been suspended for thirty days and awaits an impeachment hearing. The council claims that she solicited funds for the clinic without its permission. There is also some question as to whether Fire Thunder's suspension violates the tribe's own constitution. The council has also placed a gag order on her, which she has violated.
Fire Thunder, the first woman to ever be elected president of the Oglala Sioux. She has worked as a nurse, is one of the founders of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and has been an advocate for the preservation of the Lakota language.
In 2004, the tribal council suspended Fire Thunder because, it claimed, she exceeded her power in securing a $38 million loan from the Skakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota without seeking tribal councl permission.
My choice for Idiot of the Day
Poor Joan. She is so behind and misinformed.
The government, by choice, does not support the best family life for children. Every child protection agency in the United States is under-funded and under-staffed. People with no clue about either child development or parenting have children and beat them, whip them, molest them, rape them, ignore them, abandon them, talk down to them, exploit them for their own narcissistic fulfillment, teach them to hate other people, punish them for fulfilling normative developmental tasks, ignore their education, encourage them to be bullies, humiliate them, and intimidate them.
If someone like Hillary Rodham Clinton comes along and advocates for children, she is called a "Communist." If a government reminds churches that physical abuse is not part of appropriate daycare, that government is called "godless."
So let me get this straight, Joan Frank. If abortion were outlawed, suddenly, like magic, there would be:
No more child abuse
No more children schooled in bigotry
No more developmentally arrested people getting married--sometimes again and again--and ruining their children's lives through constant family disruption
A sudden generosity on the part of Congress to fund child advocacy programs
Wow. That's kind of like magic. And I suppose that this new "respect for life" would also result in no more war and no more factory farming or animal testing.
Beyonce gets a big surprise
Minnesota company never charged with theft of 45 tons of Ground Zero disaster relief supplies
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Torture Awareness Month
A week ago, delagar said: "Torture is bad. It's hard for me to believe that we need to say that." I feel the same way, but it is very hard to convince many people that torture is bad. I will have much more to say about this subject, and--since I plan to break away from the confines of Torture Awareness Month--some of what I have to say will not go down well with liberals. What else is new?
Finally...I agree with Chris Matthews
While he was mayor of New York City, Giuliani was taken to court 26 or 27 times for violating people's civil liberties. He lost every case. It's not total corruption and deception, but it's a start.
Every time a bell rings, the AFI goes nuts
There are some other stinkers on the list: Erin Brockovich, Places In the Heart, and On Golden Pond. And there are also many good ones.
I believe I can fly
All morning, the nestlings were sticking their heads out of the nest and chatting. I went to the window several times to view them. But--wouldn't you know it?--I missed the moment when they flew to the next fern basket on the wall, a couple of feet over, and joined their mother. When I saw them there, I went outside, and I suppose my appearance accelerated their flight lessons. They suddenly flew all around the wall, pausing at the strangest spots, then trying again. And--wouldn't you know it?--I didn't have my telescopic lens. When I put it on, my batteries ran out. It was one thing after another. By that time, the family was in a nearby tree. Now I don't see them at all, but I can hear them. I imagine I will see them soon at one of the feeders.
Cheney proves his love
Perhaps Mary and Heather can clean up after the guests.
The Royal Academy of Arts
Can't those Muslim women take a joke?
I knew what had gotten into her--hostility. People who cannot own their hostility put it into "jokes"--"jokes" that are hurtful and vicious. This is a favorite tactic some men use with women. If the woman objects, the response is "Oh look--you can't even take a joke." Just like that, the incident is the woman's fault. But of course.
Cpl. Joshua Belile of North Carolina, one of the soldiers to whom I'm supposed to be grateful, is one of those men. After he came back from his tour of duty in Iraq, he wrote a little song and posted it on a website. The song (in part) goes like this:
I grabbed her little sister and put her in front of me. As the bullets began to fly, the blood sprayed from between her eyes, and then I laughed maniacally. . .I blew those little fuckers to eternity. . .They should have known they were fucking with the Marines.
I like it that when we liberate people, we can also produce art about our accomplishments. Of course, the posting of the song isn't the worst part. That would be Belile's "apology":
I apologize for any feelings that may have been hurt in the Muslim community. This song was written in good humor and not aimed at any party, foreign or domestic.
You see, it was joke. He didn't "mean anything" by it.
Belile should not only apologize (and by that, I mean a real apology, but that would require empathy) to Muslims, he should also apologize to women and girls, because the lyrics are clearly misogynistic as well.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Oops...I almost forgot
"These colors don't run." How true. Consider Iraq. No one attacked us, and we didn't run. Home of the brave.
Reporters invited to Guantanamo, then sent home by Rumsfeld
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Chris Matthews plays hardball
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you find her physically attractive, Tucker?
TUCKER CARLSON: I'm not going to answer that, because the answer, I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. That's not the point.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Positively.
RITA COSBY: Don't ask me that question.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Mike, do you want to weigh in here as an older fellow. Do you find her to be a physically attractive woman?
MIKE BARNICLE: I'm too old to be doing that. I had enough fights in my life.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: OK, Rita, do you find her to be a physically attractive woman?
RITA COSBY: I'll throw it back to you, Chris, do you find her attractive?
CHRIS MATTHEWS: You guys are all afraid to answer. No, I find her—I wouldn't put her—well, she doesn't pass the Chris Matthews test.
I kind of figured the Chris Matthews test was "She has a heartbeat" (or "He walks with a swagger"), but what do I know?
Ann Coulter may be a lot of things, but one of the things she is is a woman who is mistreated because of her gender. You don't have to like her--you can hold her in complete contempt--but she does not deserve to be picked apart or commented on because of her appearance.
Sergeant promises to "take care of" recruit, then sexually abuses her
While the soldiers are "protecting" us, who is protecting the soldiers?
About that "P.R. stunt"...
I'm worn out
"But women don't complain when they are called 'girls.'"
"It would be boring if eveyone were politically correct like you."
"Women have important issues, like equal pay, and you make it hard for them when you talk about trivial things like language."
"The feminists are right about equal pay, but some of the other things make no sense."
"I'm not sure what you're talking about."
"Women are like peacocks. They are treated as special and that's just they way it is."
I should add that some feminists joined the discussion, which made things much easier for me. All the same, where is The Heretik? I need a drink.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Mary Cheney--softspoken, articulate and delusional
1. She really wanted to support her father.
2. She had made a commitment to work on the campaign (does that sound like a woman, or what?).
3. She could not afford to be a single-issue voter when she knew that George W. Bush was the only person who could keep the U.S. safe from terrorists.
It is number 3 that fascinates me. Cheney sold out her civil rights in exchange for invading a country that probably would never have bothered us if we hadn't invaded it. And even if Iraq had been a threat, nothing is as big a threat as a threat to one's civil liberties.
Liberal Americans more willing to give post-Katrina aid to white victims
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
Monday, June 12, 2006
The nestlings are growing fast
Extreme Home Makeover--Corruption Editon
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
If you liked Rage, you'll love Batwoman
Thanks to handrummer for this tidbit, and this was the first I knew about the plight of disabled Barbie. You can't make that stuff up.
Polo Ralph Lauren agrees to stop selling fur
Mary Cheney's book a flop
Illegal immigration is caused by...abortion
George W. Bush says that illegal immigrants are taking jobs that U.S. citizens don't take. One reason is that there are not enough young workers to take these jobs. Could it be that a major reason is that the United States has legally eliminated 45 million people under the age of 40? Legalized abortion since Roe v. Wade has prevented 45 million young people from existing and adding to the worker pool in this country.
I'm not making this up. He goes on to say that abortion is a likely cause of the impending demise of Social Security.
Of all the inanity in Renaudin's "reasoning," the most interesting is the assumption that all of the fetuses aborted in the U.S.--if allowed to come to term and be born--would be eagerly waiting for the time when they could clean restrooms at fast food outlets and inhale pesticides in orchards.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
A sad note, a bit belated
Don't bother tuning into the satire shows
How could there be after what Colleen Graffy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, had to say about the three Guantanamo Bay detainees who hanged themselves (thanks to Kathy at What Do I Know? for this gem)?
But wait--there's more. As Julian Brookes at MoJo Blog points out, Rear Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., Guantanamo commander, announced that the suicides were "an act of assymetrical war waged against us."
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Dixie Chicks' new music
Justine Henin-Hardenne wins her third French Open
Defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, Justine Henin-Hardenne once again proved that she is the greatest clay competitor in the women's game. Though she came into the French Open with no 2006 clay tournament wins, Henin-Hardenne's did not drop a set throughout the red clay Grand Slam.
Kuznetsova appeared to be rattled once again in the early part of the match, hitting balls long and delivering a very weak second serve. But she began the second set by defeating Henin-Hardenne in a love game, breaking her in a love game, and then winning two more points right away on her own serve. Henin-Hardenne looked tired, and was obviously vulnerable to Kuznetsova's deft movement. But Henin-Hardenne broke back and then increased the intensity of her serve to once again take control of the match. As she did so, Kuznetsova's confidence visibly crumbled.
After the match, Kuznetsova remarked that she had expected a much more attacking game from Henin-Hardenne, and apparently had been prepared for that.
Since returning from almost a year off (2004) with a terrible virus, Henin-Hardenne's serve has not been what it was, though this is something never mentioned by tennis commentators. During this tournament, however, her serving skills returned, making her game complete once more.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Does the Times have an ulterior motive or is it just sexism as usual?
New Orleans area residents suffering from increased mental health problems
(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)
I keep forgetting to post the Male Privilege Checklist
Now that you've had a taste of this liberation thing, what a relief to go back to waxy yellow buildup
The writers make it clear that they are talking about middle-class families who can afford to have one parent stay home. These people--surprise!--just happen to all be women, and they perceive their major role as being motherhood, rather than housekeeper. This statement, of course, is an insult to all of our mothers who stayed home because they thought they were supposed to or because they wanted to. What? They didn't think their major role was raising children?
According to research by academics at the University of Virginia, 52% of modern housewives describe themselves as “very happy” with their marriages compared with 41% of working women.
First, this statement fails to make clear whether the "working women" were all married with children, or married at all. But let's give the University of Virginia the benefit of the doubt and assume the working women were also married with children. In the same Times article, the authors say that in most marriages, women do twice as much housework as their husbands. So think about it: If you go to an office all day and then come home exhausted and do twice as much housework as the other adult who goes to the office all day, isn't there a chance you might feel some dissatisfaction with your marriage? The solution, as always, isn't for men to do more housework, but for women to stay home.
I am not arguing against women staying home to take care of young children. Quite the contrary; I think it is a great idea for those who can afford to do it and who want to do it. It is a fallacy that all women want to, however, and we never hear about the men who want to. Nor are men encouraged to. No one ever asks men about how they balance home life and work life.
When women express opinions
You make my heart go giddy-up
First, why are they being sold to girls only? Oh, wait...boys are going to be abstinent, so we don't have to worry about them.
Did I get that wrong? Let's try again...boys are sexually active only because they can't help themselves, but girls should know better. It is their responsibility to make the world abstinent.
Of course, the image of these girls sucking lollipops as a means of not thinking about sex is a riot.
Amanda explains that once the girls begin sucking and chewing on their cherry treats, they are reminded by abstinence educators that, of course, they certainly wouldn't want someone else's lollipop after it has been opened and sucked and chewed. Why, I wonder, are the educators not explaining that no one wants a guy's "lollipop" after it has been sucked and...well, you know. Only a girl's lollipop is a use-one-time-only product.
Teenage pregnacy is not a good thing. I would rather someone sold girls birth control devices instead of peddling them this kind of overt, obscene sexism.
We can try to comfort ourselves by saying "But this is just the religious right nutcake crowd." There are two things wrong with that argument. One is that this crowd is sanctioned and funded by the United States government. The other is that the double standard is as alive and well as it was in the 50s, religious right or no religious right.
Who's a red state now?
Once again, I ask how can any of these rules be enforced when they violate the pharmacists' code of ethics?
What it's like down here
As expected, wildfires continue to burn across St. Tammany Parish.
Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana stated that there is no issue more important than banning gay marriage.
New Orleans is losing over 85,000 gallons of water a day because of leaking underground pipes.
Everyone agrees that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was both immoral and incompetent in designing and constructing New Orleans' levees, but Congress thinks there should be less oversight of the agency.
The Corps of Engineers has announced that its deadline of August 1 to add more pumps to the 17th Street Canal has been pushed back to September 8.
Gardasil approved by FDA
All of those conservatives who would rather their daughters contracted cervical cancer than be vaccinated are doubtless weeping over the state of things.
Friday cat blogging--French Open edition, part 2
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Henin-Hardenne and Kuznetsova to meet in French Open final
Vaidisova is a good player who only recently has found her way to the big time. Her father/coach says it happened when she played Martina Hingis in Rome. She lost to Hingis, but it was in that match, he said, that his daughter learned to slow herself down. She forgot that in the third set today, and rushed through point after point. Credit to just-turned-17-year-old Vaidisova: She took out both top seed Amelie Mauresmo and Venus Williams and played with a champion's confidence. But her first Grand Slam semifinal gave her a bad case of nerves--lucky for Kuznetsova.
The other semifinal was the bore I expected it to be: Watching Justine Henin-Hardenne play Kim Clijsters is about as bad as watching the Williams sisters play each other. Today was a new low, however. Clijsters is not moving that well since her ankle injury (I think it is fear more than disability), and she also had one of her not infrequent meltdowns. On top of that, Henin-Hardenne played flawlessly, and dispatched Clijsters in straight sets.
I expect Henin-Hardenne to defeat Kuznetsova, also, only it won't be as easy as it was today. Kuznetsova is a really good clay court player, but she is given to bouts of nerves, and with Henin-Hardenne, she can't afford to fool around the way she did with Vaidisova.