Friday, June 30, 2006

Who would have thought it?

Wherein Agitprop explains that Bush is not only The Decider, but also The Understander.

Violence and antisocial behavior in sports--the American way

A pro baseball manager hurls a chair after a game. A pro baseball player waves a bat menacingly in an umpire's face. A number of cyclists, including the world's top cyclists, are banned from the world's biggest race because of doping.

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

If anyone tells you that certain leftist newspapers like the Wall Street Journal (though they will probably say the New York Times, which is about as "leftist" as the WSJ) committed treason by leaking intelligence about the U.S.'s secret searches within a vast global database of confidential financial transactions--tell them to go to a "burning hot" place.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Friday cat blogging--rescue edition

This lovely tabby kitten will go up for adoption

A feral tortoiseshell relaxes before she goes for her surgery

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

Number of ATP players who have offered Venus Williams support for equal pay at Wimbledon


An inconvenient truth

During the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore never once uttered the "e" word.

U.S. Supreme Court strikes down military tribunal plans

In a 5-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court today stuck down George W. Bush's plant to conduct military tribunals for foreign terror suspects at Guantamamo Bay, Cuba.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Coalition of eleven insurgent groups tries to make a deal with the U.S.

The Associated Press has reported that eleven Sunni insurgent groups have offered an immediate halt on all attacks in Iraq if the United States will agree to withdraw foreign forces from the country within two years. These groups, which operate north of Baghdad, are know not for attacking Iraqi civilians, but for attacking U.S.-led coalition forces.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Greek professor denied entry into the U.S.

His visa was good but his politics were not.

A tall tale

I believe that it is a sin to be tall because my life manual tells me it is. But I'm not like those rigid people down the road who think you chose to be tall out of some perverse whim, that other tall people seduced you into stretching until you became that way, or that there are people whom you can pay to make you short. No, I love the sinner, and I accept you as tall-- as long as you do not act on your tallness.

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

It seemed too good to be true when the delegates to the Episcopal Church's national convention voted to dismiss Anglican leaders' request that they temporarity stop ordaining "openly" gay bishops. And it was. In a later vote, they went along with the resolution that doesn't use the word "moratorium," but clearly implies 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

The Wimbledon tournament has this beautiful tennis towel for sale. You have a big budget. Perhaps you could buy one--and stuff it in Pam Shriver's mouth.

Thank you.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Homelessness a threat to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

The government estimates that, on any given night, hundreds of military veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan are homeless. Some cannot adjust after being in a war zone, some cannot navigate federal red tape, and some simply do not have the money to afford a place to live. The problem is the worst in New York City because of the high cost of housing.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Got cruelty and hormones?

Monica Seles did it. Serena Williams did it. Chris Evert did it. And now, sadly, Lindsay Davenport has done it--made a Got Milk? ad for the American dairy industry. It isn't pretty, the way milk gets to the supermarket. Calves are snatched from their mothers, who cry for them. The males are placed in veal crates, where they can't even turn around, and they are bloated until they are weak and diseased, then slaughtered when they are a few months old. The females are also used as dairy cows, and when their production goes down, they, too, are slaughtered. Dairy cows do not get to graze freely, but are confined their entire lives.

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

From feministe (via feministing) comes the news about a severely disabled woman who was sexually assaulted by a 15-year-old male at a Colorado Springs High School. The school district has refused to mediate a civil lawsuit because, its "expert" says--take a deep breath and hang on to the arms of your chair--the event was "pleasurable" for the woman and "ignited her female desires."

The family has filed a federal lawsuit against the school district.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, just spy

The Pentagon has been conducting surveillance of groups who protest the U.S. military's ridiculous Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which has done nothing but make it as difficult as usual for gay soldiers to remain in the military. This revelation came out in a Freedom of Information request made by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Just when you think you've seen the most obscene vehicle decorations possible...

This afternoon I was behind a truck loaded for hunting trips. At the rear, on top of the trailer pull, was a big bobble-head dear with antlers. Under the pull, dangling from the hitch, was a pair of what appeared to be silver testicles. My suspicion is that this attachment is actually some utilitarian bauble unknown to non-truck and non-hunting types, but believe me, it looked for all the world like a pair of silver testicles.

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?

MSNBC New Orleans headlines, in their order, on my home page:

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

Today is International Day in Support of Survivors and Victims of Torture, the culmination of Torture Awareness Month. Unfortunately, the institutionalized torture of women and girls through genital mutilation is, once again, not a focus of this movement against 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?

Venus Williams lays it on the line.

For those still too heartless to care about the cruelty of factory farming...

Tip them off about the EPA's total disregard for human life.

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

I have been re-reading Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (second edition), the incredible collection of Gloria Steinem's best essays. Many of the essays I have read several times because I read them in their first incarnation, before they became part of the first edition of the book.

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...

Sam Stosur prepares to serve at the Family Circle Cup

Justine Henin-Hardenne practices in Charleston

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:

Eleni Daniilidou
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.

Mara Santangelo
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.

Katarina Srebotnik
Another player who can volley like mad and could do some real damage to players seeded higher.

Samantha Stosur
"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:

Amelie Mauresmo
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.

Maria Sharapova
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.

Justine Henin-Hardenne
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.

Kim Clijsters
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.

Martina Hingis
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.

Venus Williams
The defending champion and three-time Wimbledon winner. Say no more.

Friday cat blogging--sister slumber edition

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Going after the "real" terrorists

Once again, Greenpeace activists are the target of law enforcement gone mad. A peaceful protest by members of Greenpeace resulted in the arrests of several people who were attempting to depict a whale "graveyard" with 863 cardboard "tails."

The French were not present, so at least the Greenpeace ship wasn't bombed.

The Supreme Court does a very good thing

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court made it much easier to hold an employer liable when that employer retaliates against an employee for making a charge of discrimination against the company. The unanimous ruling upheld a lower court decision on behalf of a forklift operator who said her company had retaliated against her when she made a charge of sex discrimination.

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

If you didn't get to hear the "Fresh Air" featuring Joseph Margulies, here it is. Margulies was on to talk about his new book, Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power. The stories he tells about our government are harrowing.

Group of Republicans stalls renewal of Voting Rights Act

A spokesperson for House Speaker Dennis Hastert says that the Republican leadership "is committed to passing the Voting Rights Act legislation as soon as possible."

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...

Everywhere I go on the Web, conservatives accuse non-conservatives of "getting your news from CNN." Hello! CNN=Fox, except that the anchors on Fox are more tolerable to watch.

What if we hadn't invaded Iraq?

I think about this during idle moments. Would our government still be applauding itself for having "rid" Afghanistan of the Taliban? Would there be any serious efforts to stop the ongoing oppression, especially of women and girls, there? How would Bush's campaign debts to big oil have been paid? Would any real money have been allotted to help America's first responders and to protect cargo holds and containers?

Your thoughts...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The book banners are at it again

The ACLU has asked a federal judge to stop the Miami-Dade County school district from removing some children's books from its libraries. The books include Vamos a Cuba and A Visit to Cuba, and were removed because school officials say they contain inaccuracies about life in a Communist country. Both the county schools chief and two advisory committees recommended that the books stay on the shelves, but the county board voted to remove them.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

ROFLMAO, or something like that

"Telling the truth is one of the better things people who have changed our history have done."

Lynne Cheney, speaking to a group of children at the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham

Women sue state trooper and member of Santorum's promotional team

Remember, back in August, when the Delaware State Police supported one of its members strong-arming of some women who came to protest Rick Santorum at his Barnes & Noble book-signing? The trooper was on private guard duty but wearing his official uniform. He arrested two of the women and threatened all of them with prison.

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

Just in case you are one of the totally ignorant people who continues to distribute ridiculous falsehoods all over the Web, for the one thousandth time...

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"

After New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast were devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, both Karl Rove's operatives and the Office of Homeland Security did a splendid job of blaming Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco for all manner of things she did not do. They also attacked her for doing things that were right (such as refusing to let Bush take over the state), and they accused her of not performing tasks she had performed (such as immediately calling for federal troops). New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin also attacked Blanco. This is not to say that Blanco did everything right, just that she was blamed for a great number of things that had nothing to do with her performance as the state's leader. The media ate this stuff up without chewing and spread Rove's lies, as usual. As a result, Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Bobby bumper stickers began appearing in south Louisiana.

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?

Richard Armitage says maybe soon, because Iraq will ask us to.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Press secretary does Snow job on Imus

It doesn't take much to get Don Imus to endorse all manner of lies and distortions. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow found it was pretty easy on June 14 when he stated that George W. Bush had never linked Saddam Hussein with the attacks of September 11, 2001.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Once again, the Senate endorses fraud, waste and mismanagement

In another vote on whether to investigate massive waste and fraud in the awarding of Iraq-related contracts, the U.S. Senate voted along party lines (with the exception of Lincoln Chafee) not to do so.

To my surprise, the American Episcopal Church does the right thing

I thought the delegates would cave, but they didn't: A majority of delegates to the General Convention voted against a measure that would have urged dioceses not to consecrate gay bishops.

Schultz-McCarthy returns to tennis, and not all the spin is topspin

Dutch tennis star Brenda Schultz, now Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, used to have the fastest serve in women's tennis--she once clocked a ball at 123 mph. Venus Williams' 127 mph. ball is now the record, and other women have hit the ball at 123, but Schultz-McCarthy did a lot of damage with her serve during her years on the tour, and was in the top 10.

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

Writing in yesterday's USA Today, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein called for passage of the Flag Protection Amendment. Her rationale, provided by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White, is that the flag is a "monument," and we would not allow anyone to deface a national monument.

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

Though the mental health profession stopped labeling homosexuality a mental disorder decades ago, it turns out that the Pentagon did not. An official Pentagon document lists homosexuality along with mental retardation and personality disorders, as a "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%

A document compiled at the request of Rep. Henry Waxman of California, confirms that federal contracts are now the fastest growing component of federal discretionary spending. The Government Accountability Office and the Defense Contract Audit Agency were two of the agencies whose 500 reports, audits and investigations were used to compile the report.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Can't they at least be proud bigots?

Some people who signed the petition supporting the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, are unhappy that their names have been published on the Know Thy Neighbor Florida website. The petition, however, is a public record.

And shouldn't you know that when you sign it?

And shouldn't you be proud to "protect" marriage?

And boo-hoo.

Endorsements and party loyalty

If endorsements do not mean anything, then politicians need to stop making them. For example, the Republican (he "changed" to the Democratic Party two days before his first election, and has governed totally as a Republican--he is a fake if ever there was one) mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, endorsed Bobby Jindal for governor of Louisiana. Jindal is a slick, fast-talking former Bush administration bureaucrat who also happens to be an extreme right-wing nutcase.

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

For many of us, the concept of torture is so horrific, we find it difficult to believe that it is practiced. Torture is not practical, but sadistic. Those who practice it do so because of a desire to make others suffer. Who is stupid enough to think that people being tortured will not say just about anything to make the torture stop? In America, our government justifies the less horrible types of torture by calling them "abuse." But that is only when the government and military officials' backs are against the wall: Most of the time, they consider such practices normal.

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?"

Well, over the weekend, five teenage boys were shot to death in Mid-City.

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

You just have to see it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Episcopal Church in America: good news/bad news

The good news is that a woman, the Right Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, has been elected the first female presiding bishop in history.

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.

Make sure you check out the Postcards for Post-Feminists at Mind the Gap. This is my favorite.

I am tired of being referred to as a man

I recently went to lunch with a female friend, and after we sat down, the young waiter said "What can I get you guys?"

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

Yesterday on NPR's "All Things Considered," Nina Totenberg did a lengthy feature in which law enforcement officials all over the country said they not did not need the U.S. Supreme Court's destruction of the Fourth Amendment. Police spokespeople said they liked the law just as it was, and considered the Supreme Court's move as both unnecessary and harmful.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Jamea Jackson dethrones defending Birmingham champion Sharapova

Jamea Jackson takes a break during practice at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston

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

Remember Macy's in Boston caving to pressure from homophobic activists and removing those mannequins? The Macy's spokeswoman said: "We believe in diversity, and our customers are very important to us. But [the display] did offend a few of our customers, and we had to reexamine it."

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

After a series of tornadoes hit eastern Iowa and caused millions of dollars worth of damage, Governor Tom Vilsack requested for Presidential Disaster Declarations for the three affected counties. He says he is "extremely disappointed" that George W. Bush turned down his request.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Barack Obama--I don't buy what he's selling

Every time Obama opens his mouth, he attracts of crowds of liberal supporters. But listen to some of what he has said:

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

Congressmen Christopher Shays and Peter DeFazio have introduced H.R. 5557, the Farm Animal Stewardship Purchasing Act. This bill would require all factory farms who supply products to federal programs of any kind to comply with moderate animal welfare standards. That means that these animals would, for the first time, have room to move around, get adequate medical treatment, adequate food and water, and not left to languish and die if wounded or sick. It would also prohibit force-feeding.

Please contact your Representative now and urge him or her to support this bill. It is a start.

Bonus baby lizard blogging

Oglala Sioux president suspended by tribal council

Cecelia Fire Thunder, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, has been suspended by the tribal council. The suspension came after the council voted to ban abortion on the tribe's Pine Ridge Reservation. Fire Thunder recently responded to South Dakota's anti-abortion law with a pledge to defend women's reproductive rights.

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

Is Joan Frank of Metairie, who writes to the New Orleans Times-Picayune about the objections to Louisiana Sen. David Vitter's comment that there is no issue more important than banning gay marriage. Frank says that the proposed amendment is "not anti-gay," and that "If the government doesn't support the best family life for children in our society, we will crumble as a nation."

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

Letters, videos, a full-page open letter in Billboard, and rallies failed to move Beyonce, so PETA bought a dinner with her at an ebay auction. Beyonce and her sister and mother were taken to Nobu 57, a New York restaurant, and PETA members then asked her how--knowing what she knows about fur farms--she can continue to wear furs. Beyonce was then shown the Pamela Anderson DVD about fur. She left the dinner early. I like to think she was feeling too nauseous to get dessert down.

Minnesota company never charged with theft of 45 tons of Ground Zero disaster relief supplies

Following the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Kieger Enterprises of Minnesota sent trucks to a warehouse in Long Island and proceeded to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donated bottled water, clothes, tools, and generators, which were then moved to Minnesota, where the company planned to sell the items for profit. Dan L'Allier, a Kieger employee, witnessed the trucks being loaded. He and disaster specialist Chris Christopherson told a Kieger executive, who told them to keep quiet about the theft. They then told the FBI.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Friday cat blogging--dental edition

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Torture Awareness Month

June is Torture Awareness Month, and if you'd like to blog about torture, you can add your blog to the list here.

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

Matthews said that Rudy Giuliani would be the "perfect" candidate to replace Bush in 2008.

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

The AFI needs to stop making lists. The latest, the 100 Most Inspiring Films Of All Time, is topped by It's A Wonderful Life, Frank Capra's tribute to American neurosis. George Bailey is so busy pleasing everyone else, he is incapable of pleasing himself. Self-sacrifice, while often worthy, does not make a good lifestyle. Of course, there are other ways of getting the job done.

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

Remember Minnesota State Senator Michele Bachmann, who hid behind some bushes so she wouldn't have to face her gay and gay-supporting constituents? She is obsessed with banning gay marriage and about how sick gay people are. Well, Bachmann is campaigning for the U.S. Congress now, and Dick "freedom means freedom for everyone" Cheney is throwing a fundraiser for her.

Perhaps Mary and Heather can clean up after the guests.

The Royal Academy of Arts

May not be able to define art, but they know it when they see it.

Can't those Muslim women take a joke?

Only yesterday, I was insulted in a vile way on a message board, and the poster immediately said "Oh I don't know what's gotten into me with this sarcasm. It was just 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

Today is Flag Day. Of course, it used to be illegal and "unAmurikan" to wear the flag, but a man who cared about his civil rights went to court in the 60s and changed all that, so now you have so many options for flags, like this patriotic stress ball (I could use one of those) and this "awareness bracelet" and my favorite, this patriotic sham--say no more.

"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

The admiral in charge of the prison at Guantanamo Bay invited the news media to come to the base on Saturday to cover the suicides of three of the prisoners. Reporters responded, but on Tuesday night, the Pentagon sent an email citing a directive from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Chris Matthews plays hardball

Thanks to Think Progress for this gem from Jossip: how Chris Matthews handled the Ann Coulter controversy:

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.


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

He was then promoted, and you know the rest of the story. Army Spec. Suzanne Swift is now under arrest for refusing to take a second tour of duty in Iraq. Read this only if you have a strong stomach.

While the soldiers are "protecting" us, who is protecting the soldiers?

Just wait...

Until Wiccans start handing out literature in the same spot.

About that "P.R. stunt"...

James Gill, writing in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, says it better than anyone.

I'm worn out

I've been engaged in a lengthy discussion of sexism on a sports-related board. The cluelessness is staggering, the anti-feminism significant.

"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

Today, I heard part (that was about all I could take) of Terry Gross's interview with Mary Cheney. She asked Cheney to talk about the report that she had almost quit the 2004 campaign when she learned that Bush was going to make banning gay marriage one of his major issues. Cheney said she stayed on for three reasons:

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

The Washington Post conducted a study to determine how racial cues presented in Katrina news coverage influenced citizens' response to the hurricane's aftermath. These racial cues were found in both thematic stories that covered the hurricane in general, and in episodic stories that focused on particular individuals.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Monday, June 12, 2006

The nestlings are growing fast

They no longer just stick their heads out, with their mouths open. Now they stick their heads out and look around. They also have pretty markings, which they did not have just a few days ago.

Extreme Home Makeover--Corruption Editon

Businesses have donated $700,000 to Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick to pay for the renovation of his Austin apartment. Craddick and his wife say they do not think it is right for the public to pay for the renovation, but how can it be "right" for Craddick to accept so much money from businesses?

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

If you liked Rage, you'll love Batwoman

She is arriving in July, and she is a lesbian.

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

Activism works.

Mary Cheney's book a flop

It has sold fewer than 6,000 copies.

Perhaps it would have done better if she had put some lesbians in it.

Illegal immigration is caused by...abortion

But you knew that, right? Well, just in case you didn't, William S. Renaudin, a New Orleans physician, explains it you in his letter to the editor of the Times-Picayune:

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

Fritz Klein has died.

Don't bother tuning into the satire shows

There is no longer anything left to satirize.

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

Check out the Chicks at AOL Sessions.

Justine Henin-Hardenne wins her third French Open

Justine Henin-Hardenne's image on the outside of the Family Circle Cup stadium

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?

Just because Hillary Rodham Clinton is married to a famous person is no reason to use an inappropriate honorific in front of her name. The Times must be picking up tips from the Senate roll call.

New Orleans area residents suffering from increased mental health problems

Mental health experts report that depression, including suicidal depression, and posttraumatic stress have become increasingly common among people who were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. An educated guess is that more than 260,000 people are newly affected by anxiety, depression and substance abuse disorders, and there are not enough professionals or facilities to accommodate them. To make matters worse, many behavioral health professionals are also suffering from some of the disorders brought on by the devastation of Katrina and its aftermath.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

I keep forgetting to post the Male Privilege Checklist

But here it is, thanks to Amp.

Now that you've had a taste of this liberation thing, what a relief to go back to waxy yellow buildup

The "new woman" is a housewife, say writers for the Sunday Times, and this phenomenon has arrived across the pond from none other than the United States of America.

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

It isn't just their opinions that get attacked.

You make my heart go giddy-up

I love the things Amanda at Pandagon turns up. Her latest find is the sale of lollipops to girls by the abstinence-only crowd. These cherry-flavored treats tell girls "Don't Be a Sucker! Save Sex for Marriage!"

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?

The Washington State Board of Pharmacy has voted unanimously to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions on "moral" grounds. Governor Christine Gregoire is outraged over this decision, and--since she appoints the board's members--the Seattle Times has suggested she get rid of all of them and start over.

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

We are being told that the 60,000 flooded cars in New Orleans are finally going to be moved...but wait...not until someone figures out where to put them.

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

Somehow, FDA-approval of Gardasil, which successfully combats HPV, has come about, in spite of the religious right's tight hold on that agency.

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

Roxie checks out the seating

Everyone is getting in on the act

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Catch up, Beck!

Glenn Beck called Hillary Rodham Clinton the antichrist. Big deal. I did it first.

Henin-Hardenne and Kuznetsova to meet in French Open final

2004 U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova signs autographs in Charleston

Justine Henin-Hardenne has already won the French Open twice

Those of us who thought Svetlana Kuznetsova had too many clay court skills to let upstart Nicole Vaidisova push her around were right. Vaidisova prevailed in the first set, when Kuznetsova could not get her serve in, and she prevailed in the second set, too, until she tried to serve for it at 5-3. Failing to serve for the match, Vaidisova fell to pieces and never put herself back together, although late in the third set, it looked like she might. But by that time, Kuznetsova had found her serve, had slowed down the pace considerably, and was hitting low balls and delivering enough topsin to keep Vaidisova at bay.

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.