Saturday, September 30, 2006

Jodi Borrello--a standup comedy star is born

It isn't fair to compare comics with other comics, I know, but sometimes it is helpful in describing their style. If you crossed the manic intensity of Robin Williams (back when he was funny) and the ability to do characters of a Margaret Cho or a Whoopi Goldberg, you would get something like Jodi Borrello, a Louisiana comic who has recently had a national breakthrough, and who deserves to make it to the bigtime. Borrello doesn't have a particular political or sociological agenda like Cho or Goldberg; rather, she is a racanteur supreme, and her major story right now is Hurricane Katrina.

Of course, playing to a Louisiana audience, as she did last night in the "Now I Can Vote" tour concert, had to be a wonderful experience for her. Her routine was rapid-fire, her wit sharp, and her final bit--about how she and her sister found enough medication to get them through the aftermath of the hurricane--was one of the most inspired pieces of standup comedy I've seen in a long, long time.

From the problems of evacuation ("The murder rate in Houston is up 23%; they're killing us--we've gotta come home!") to managing children and dogs when a hurricane comes--Borrello covered it all with side-splitting material. The tears ran down my face the entire evening. If she comes to your town, do not miss her.

An anti-feminist, pro-child abuse, foul-mouthed comic comes to town

Last night I had an experience which made me ask, for the thousandth time: Is all comedy "funny" or is some of it just hostility poorly disguised by jokes? Does my strong political agenda keep me from appreciating the humor of those with whom I disagree? I did my best to keep an open mind during a standup set by Caroline Picard, a Louisiana comic who did not go on tour until she was in her forties.

Picard was appearing as part of the "Now I Can Vote" comedy tour, a title that hints rather strongly at feminism. The other two comics on the bill were Louisiana native Amanda Hebert, a heavily regional comic of minimal talent, and headliner Jodi Borrello, whose appearance was the reason I went to the show.

Picard is a foul-mouthed, gravel-voiced, beer-toting 54-year-old woman who uses her anger to fuel her comedy. She is angry that people these days are "retarded." That kind of anger could make for a great routine; I share some of her sentiments. Picard attacked the over-indulgence of many contemporary parents, and the resulting product: lazy, out-of-shape kids with no imagination.

Her solutions, however, left me cold. Throughout her routine, she longed for the good old days when parents hit their children, sometimes repeatedly. She also disavowed the existence of ADD, which many people do when they are ranting that American children are over-medicated. I happen to agree that American children are over-medicated, but why is it so hard to grasp the fact that that doesn't mean there is no such thing as ADD? And why is it so hard to grasp the fact that having lax parenting skills doesn't mean that the solution is whacking your kids?

Come on, Diane--it's a comedy act. Lighten up. You yourself believe that anything is fair game in standup comedy.

I kept telling myself that, and I do support Picard's right to do standup about any damned thing she likes, but there is a difference between doing one joke about hitting children and making it an obvious theme in your routine. The first is utilizing a comedy opportunity; the second is delivering a message.

One of Picard's other themes was that women could get a man and hold on to a man if they would just "shut up and leave him alone." The assumption behind this part of her routine, of course, is that a woman is desperate to find a man. The other assumption is that a woman is so desperate for a man that she should shut her mouth, cook, have sex, and just let him be "masculine."

Which brings me to a major flaw in Picard's rhetoric: She went on a rant about metrosexuals. Now, had she gone on a rant about the word "metrosexual," I would have enjoyed it, since I so loathe that word. But her rant was about men who cared about their clothing and who used cologne, etc. Now, not all women like men who who care about fashion and haircuts. There are also women who don't wish to be with men who don't care about those things. Something for everyone.

By now, dear reader, you have already guessed what she thinks about so-called metrosexual men--that they are gay. This, of course, is an American obsession (all you need to do is check the tennis boards to see how many Americans think Roger Federer must be gay because he is fashion-conscious). Obviously, such an opinion is idiotic. But in Picard's case, it is also deeply hypocritical. Picard wears "unfeminine" clothes, drags around a bottle of beer, curses constantly, and has a deep, gruff voice. By her own definition, she must be a lesbian.

By the way, whose fault is it that American men have been "feminized"? Why, Gloria Steinem's, of course. Picard fantasized about causing physical harm to Steinem. Since Steinem is the person I admire most of anyone in American life, it became harder and harder for me to "lighten up."

And now, for Picard's gem: "I voted for George W. Bush, and he is the greatest president we could have because he's a man and he acts like a man."

Then she said we should bomb the entire Middle East. Sadly, a number of people applauded. And at that point, Picard gave a new meaning to the term "standup." I stood up and walked out.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Congress had time to approve rape and torture

But not to protect Louisiana's coastline and finally give the state the royalties it has been owed for generations.

Congressman Foley is gone, but the problem remains

Florida Congressman Foley resigned today, after it became public that he had sent inappropriate emails to a 16-year-old Congressional page. There have been rumors about Foley's sexual orientation for some time, and perhaps it is now clear that he is gay, or at least bisexual.

Unfortunately, much of the criticism that will be railed against Foley will be because he is gay, not because he made inappropriate advances to a minor, and to an intern, no less. For Foley to send personal emails to a 16-year-old is a big problem, whether that 16-year-old is a boy or a girl. But if Foley had left the intern alone and had been seen in a bar with a 25-year-old man, he would still have to resign because of this culture's rabid fear of anything homosexual.

I am glad that Foley has to pay the consequences for doing something he should not have done, but I am sorry that his sexual orientation will be looked at as the problem.

How do you make money for an "educational" farm?

Training extremists while they are young

It is probably no more than an ironic coincidence that the Kids on Fire camp is in Devil's Lake, North Dakota. Or perhaps not. Kids on Fire is not your mother's summer camp; rather, it is a place where children--some as young as six--receive instruction in glossolalia, go on field trips to political protests, and learn to chant for "righteous judges" for America.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Friday cat blogging--my coat of many colors

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Here is a list of Senators

Who voted to permit the rape and sexual assault of detainees:


Note, for those of you who care about these things, that twelve of them are Democrats, and five of them are women.

Page gets unusual emails from Congressman Foley

Congressman Mark Foley of Florida, co-chair of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus, brags about co-authoring the overhaul and strengthening of sex offender penalties included in the Adam Walsh Child Safety Act, and he has introduced legislation that would vigorously attack the Internet child pornography industry.

It is of special interest, therefore, that Foley is alleged to have taken a more than average interest in a 16-year-old Congressional page, emailing him to request his photograph, his age, and asking what he would like for his birthday. Foley's office says it keeps pictures of pages so that later, if asked to recommend one for a job, the staff is aware of who is being discussed. The problem is that the boy in question never worked for Foley or his staff.

A matter of interest, to be sure.

Some thoughts on Hewlitt-Packard

It is quite unfortunate that a major company whose top two people were women saw them both fall from grace--Patricia Dunn with an especially loud thump (Carly Fiorina was outsted because the direction she took H-P failed to profit the company). With so few women in key posts like CEO and chairwoman, "putting women in charge" can now be given a bad name.

Perhaps just as contentious is the constant complaining among feminists that when women "make it," the last thing they should do is "act like men," i.e., use power to destroy others, and formulate little autocracies. Put simply, women should not replicate the patriarchy.

This latter issue cuts to the deepest level of radical feminism: Not only is the patriarchy the cause of social ills, but the patriarchy is not necessarily made up of men exclusively. What Dunn did, in particular, demonstrates what can happen when people are given a lot of power. Feminism, as an inevitable change in the quality of women's lives in America, is going to continue, even at its snail's pace. But there is a difference between benefiting from feminism and living a feminist life.

Patriarchy equals corporatism, and until there is some fundamental change in the way America works and does business, the Patricia Dunns--both female and male--will be with us.

Fiorina put together what was considered bad strategy. Dunn was unethical. The only lasting harm that can come of their departures would be for Hewlitt-Packard to stop promoting women. Women are going to make strategic mistakes and are sometimes going to be ruthless in their leadership styles. It is appropriate to blame them for their failures, but it is equally important to not blame women as a whole.

Elizabeth Edwards shows an ugly part of herself to Time

I have little time for John Kerry, as anyone who reads this blog knows. But I also have little time for petty, hypocritical attacks, and Kerry has just received one from Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Kerry's 2004 running mate, John Edwards. From Time's "10 Questions For Elizabeth Edwards":

[referring to Kerry]
I'd be telling you things that weren't true if I said that he didn't have an impediment. He did. He was certainly able to be painted as someone who didn't understand what people did with their free time or what their concerns were when they sat around the table. But I don't think that if you looked at his policies you would have found that to be a fair conclusion.

And in describing her own lifestyle:

It's a different kind of luxury, I think. I know the people whose artwork is on my walls--they're not the old masters. I shop at Target. We eat at Wendy's. Even though we have a lot and I feel very blessed, we are basically the same people we were when we first started out and made, between us, $28,000 a year.

If there's one thing I hate, it's someone with a lot of money who brags about not spending it. Or perhaps John and Elizabeth are just Philistines and like to brag about that. Either way, it was a cheap, nasty attack, and she should be ashamed.

Emeril Lagasse and the Food Network promote foie gras

The Essence of Emeril is not pretty. On September 26, the New Orleans chef used his entire Food Network show to promote foie gras.

The making of foie gras is so cruel that the European Union has banned it (with loud protests from France). So has the city of Chicago, though several Chicago chefs are fighting the ban, and the mayor of Chicago is helping them by ridculing the new law, and by wholeheartedly supporting its repeal. In New York, Governor Pataki has given a large grant to a foie gras manufacturer.

And now along comes Emeril Lagasse to promote some of factory farming's most heinous torture. You can let the Food Network know how you feel here, and you can email Lagasse directly here. Both the network and the chef need to know that not all Americans support this promotion. In fact, Farm Sanctuary research shows that when people are educated about how foie gras is made, 80% of them oppose the product (the other 20%, I don't like to think about).

John Kerry opens his mouth and I cringe--again

Sen. John Kerry wants you to know he knows God. He wants you to know it in the worst way. In yet another tiresome speech about his 2004 mistakes, Kerry told an audience in Malibu all about how he returned to his Roman Catholic faith in 80s, after he had "wandered in the wilderness." He also said he was sorry he had been reluctant to talk about his faith in the 2004 election campaign. "I learned that if I didn't fill in the picture myself," he said, "others would draw the caricature for me. I will never let that happen again...."

No, John. The thing to do is to mightily preserve your right to keep an extremely personal matter personal. The thing to do is to oppose the tackiness of insisting that people expose the most intimate details of their inner lives to idiots from CNN. The Catholics who are anti-choice are not going to vote for you, anyway. The Catholics who are pro-choice (how do they remain Catholics?) can probably see through this charade. And the the non-Catholic fundamentalists think you are going to hell, anyway.

If you want to say that you are a Roman Catholic, okay. I don't like the idea that you feel you have to say it, but okay. But to talk about the most profoundly intimate matters of your life does not solve the problem.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Update: whistleblower sisters sued by their company

Kerri Rigsby and Cori Rigsby, the independent insurance adjusters who blew the whistle on State Farm Insurance's allegedly fraudulent practices following Hurricane Katrina, have been sued by a company that contracts with State Farm.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

The Saints won--enough already

I'll come clean right now and say that I am not a football fan and I never will be. To me, football is an uninteresting, thinly-veiled homoerotic free-for-all accompanied by near-illiterate interviews and commentary.

However, those of you who read this blog know that I do appreciate athleticism, and I totally understand the emotion that accompanies sport. I have postponed a dinner until after a tennis match, postponed most of my life until after a Grand Slam, gone to extraordinary lengths to watch a match on television, and shed tears over losses. I understand the emotions felt by New Orleanians when the Saints gave them an enormous win Monday night, even though I do not share them.

But the carrying on is already, in my opinion, ridiculous. Thousands of New Orleanians watched the game from various parts of the United States because they have not been able to return to their houses, or their houses have disappeared. Many left because they no longer had jobs. Many who stayed have rebuilt their houses, only to look next door and see a pile of trash that is inviting only to rats and termites. There is still debris all over the city, there is a very serious shortage of medical services (including badly needed mental health services), many of the city's landmarks are in almost total disrepair because the federal government has no intention of rebuliding them, and--most important of all--the levees are not safe.

It's okay to get excited over a football victory and the national publicity that surrounds it, but New Orleans has always been viewed as more of a show than a place where people actually live and work. It is beyond me how anyone can think the Saints victory and all that surrounded it can draw tourists when the lead stories in the newspaper every day are about the latest murders and robberies. New Orleans was in bad shape before Katrina, with a high crime rate, signficant poverty, a high rate of child abuse, and the most corrupt and inefficient school board in history. Now we can add to that a lack of services, lack of jobs, and a hyprocritical, swaggering mayor who stumbles and bumbles at every turn.

What's not to feel optimistic about?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

White House and Senate versions of detainee bill permit common types of rape and sexual assault

Rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse are mentioned twice in the bill that George W. Bush is trying to rush through Congress, with loopholes to spare. The bill, which deals with the jailing, interrogation and trying of terror suspects, defines rape as "forced or coerced genital or anal penetration." That's it. As the New York Times points out, sex without consent--the type that prisoners undergo frequently--is not mentioned at all.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Some thoughts on internalized sexism

Right here.

Disabled women undergo yet another type of abuse

Depo Provera is a progestin (synthetic progesterone) used by some women as a primary method of birth control. Progestins, though widely prescribed for a number of problems, have long been associated with a plethora of undesirable side effects: headaches, panic attacks, depresion, muscle pain, insomnia, cramping, and on and on. Depo Provera--used over a long period of time-- carries its own particularly nasty side effect: bone loss, which does not necessarily reverse when the drug is no longer injected.

Alas, a Blog reports, however, that Depo Provera is being injected into disabled women in some nursing homes so that the staff does not have to deal with the patients' menstrual cycles. It is against the law to do this: Sanitary napkins are among the supplies that federal law mandates nursing homes to provide to patients.

According to F.R.I.D.A. (Response In Disability Activism), some nursing home patients are using their tiny SSI allowances to buy their own menstrual products, if and when they are allowed to. F.R.I.D.A. has established the Pad Patrol as a way of getting sanitary supplies to disabled women in nursing homes in Chicago. The organization maintains that private help for these patients does not dilute the goal of getting nursing homes to obey the law; rather, it brings the problem to public awareness.

Ben & Jerry's finally does the right thing

After promising for a year to stop using battery cage eggs, Ben & Jerry's--under pressure from the Humane Society of the U.S.--will phase out use of the eggs over a four-year period. The company has also agreed that all of its cage-free eggs will meet the standards of Humane Farm Animal Care.

This is very good news, but this "progressive" company should not have needed this type of pressure to do the right thing. The term "progressive" seems to nearly always exclude concern about non-human suffering.

Back in the Superdome and winning

But da po' blog has what I think is the real story.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bush's comma

"When the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma..."
George W. Bush

There has already been quite a bit of discussion about Bush's "comma" remark. Greg Mitchell, writing in Editor & Publisher, suggests it will be more like a period, to replace what he calls the "hopeful" comma. Pedant that I am, I am inclined to agree with Bush, but that is because I actually understand what a comma is. A comma may indicate a pause, which is what Bush was getting at, but a pause cannot exist without the resumption of time and circumstance.

For what might the war in Iraq serve as a pause? Not world peace, for it is nonexistent. Not peace in Iraq, for--despite the horrors of the invasion--it wasn't a bed of roses under Saddam Hussein. Not peace in the Middle East, for it does not exist, either. What the war did interrupt, however, was the sympathy most of the world had toward the U.S. following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

And following the comma will be the next clause, the one in which other nations do not want to hear about the United States' problems or become partners in the United States' international "projects." That will lead to the paragraph in which some emboldened world leaders are bound to notice that there is no war on terror in the U.S. and there never was. None of this will make any difference to the American people (if you believe that Reagan was a great leader, you will believe anything), who are not into reading paragraphs, anyway.

Oh, it's a comma alright. A pause at the brink. The punctuation of a list-maker with multiple tasks.

Deciding which torture to oppose

Torturing prisoners is not only morally objectionable; it is also stupid. Even a person without much intelligence can deduce that someone might lie in order to stop getting tortured, and that those whose prisoners are tortured will be more than happy to torture our soldiers when they are the captives. It just doesn't take a lot of IQ to figure this out.

I believe that so many people back the torturing of detainees because it is sadistic. We like to have a defined "enemy"--never mind if that person has been detained for no particular reason, and never mind that torturing him or her violates the tenets of our more or less state religion.

What I wish is that people of conscience--be they liberal or conservative--who are morally opposed to the torture of detainees would also speak up about the treatment of prisoners in our own country, and about the rampant child abuse in America. And if you want to talk about torture, how about factory farming, an industry that tortures (I use the word literally) millions of helpless cows, sheep, chickens, pigs, ducks, and other animals every day? Why is it okay to sit down to a dinner of baked chicken or hamburger--knowing that the chickens and cows were put through constant, horrific pain and discomfort every day of their lives--but not okay for Americans to use a waterboard technique on detainees?

The mayor of Dallas wants you to breathe freely

But the governor of Texas doesn't give a damn. The coal industry wants to build seventeen more (there are already eighteen) factories in heavily polluted (thank you, George W.) Texas in the next four years, a project that is getting fast-track treatment from Governor Rick Perry. Dallas mayor Laura Miller has put together a coaltion of eighteen Texas mayors who oppose the building of any new coal plants that do not utilize the integrated gasification combined cycle technique. Using this technique cuts air pollution by 70 to 90%.

As you may have already guessed, using integrated gasification would cost the coal industry more money and would take more time. The industry maintains that it can build coal factories today that reduce the old factories' toxic emissions by 20%, which is nice, but it isn't 70 to 90%. Governor Perry says that a delay of any kind would damage the state's economy, and that Miller and her group wish to "return Texas to the era of the horse and buggy." Perry, of course, wants to return Texas to the era of black lung disease.

The federal government does not regulate the emission of carbon dioxide, and the proposed Texas power plants will emit the equivalent of 19 million automobiles' worth of carbon dioxide annually.

Public Expression of Religion Act could become a reality

Last year, the Public Expression of Religion Act was introduced in Congress. This bill would bar the recovery of attorneys' fees to those who win lawsuits asserting their constitutional and civil rights in cases brought under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

McCain, naturally, jumps into the Chavez-is-the-Devil fray

Despite what one may think of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, the rush by Democrats to say as many over-the-top, fundamentally unAmerican things about him as possible set a hysterical precedent. There is no way that Republicans can top the ridiculous rhetoric of Rangel and Pelosi, but if there is an alternate avenue, we know Sen. John McCain will find it.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

FEMA to the rescue!

Having given Elva Galatas a too-small trailer a second time, a FEMA crew arrived last weekend and removed trailer number two. The crew also removed the handicap access ramp and the sewerage pipes and brought in a third trailer for Galatas and her handicapped son, and installed sewerage pipes again.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Get the cream cheese, and plenty of it

What is going on with Amelie Mauresmo? World number one Mauresmo lost the China Open final today, 4-6, 0-6 to Svetlana Kuznetsova. It was 4-all in the first set, and then there was a rain delay. After play resumed, Mauresmo never won another game.

That is strange enough, but today's final marks the fourth time in as many weeks that the world number one has been served a bagel. In her U.S. Open round of 16 match against Serena Williams, Mauresmo dropped the second set at love. And Maria Sharapova, who had never before beaten Mauresmo, took two love sets off of her in their U.S. Open semifinal.

It happens to everyone on occasion. Everyone remembers the double-bagel Sharapova had to eat when she played Lindsay Davenport last year at Indian Wells, marking the first time in history that a top three player failed to win a game in a tour match. But to be number one in the world and get bageled four times in a month is significant. The most likely cause is Mauresmo's poor preparation. She skipped the entire hard court season, and got to the U.S. Open semifinals on the strength of her talent. This was not a good plan, and she should avoid it in the future.

Mauresmo is my favorite WTA player. I waited a long time for her to finally reach her potential, and it is disturbing to see her play so erratically.

Hurricane Rita--a year ago today

A year ago today, Hurricane Rita, a category 4 storm, struck the Louisiana/Texas border, and did $10 billion worth of damage. Because of the nightmare created when the pieces of junk called levees in New Orleans broke, and the pieces of trash in the federal government did nothing, Rita was--to some degree--ignored by the news media and the public. But the losses were devastating.

In Louisiana, the environmental damage alone is a very serious matter. Only 5% of Cameron Parish's residents have returned to the parish, which was once filled with houses, businesses, beaches, and fishing camps. In Texas, many low-income people without insurance saw their houses destroyed by Rita, and it may be years before adequate repairs can be made.

$895 million in federal disaster loans has been approved for the victims of Hurricane Rita, but only $235 million has reached them, though a year has passed.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A look at FEMA today

Elva Galadas is a resident of Lacombe, Louisiana, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Her house was as good as destroyed by Katrina, leaving her with rotten wood, mold, and "tin roof rusted." Galatas, who is 73, has a son who is paralyzed from the waist down and who has epilepsy. He also has a broken ankle, an injured arm, and a allergies that require him to get daily oxygen treatments.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

On hating Bush

Talking heads like to refer to "the Bush haters"--those who hate Bush so much they cannot even acknowledge when he does something good. As a long-time Bush (the entire BFEE) hater, I have given some thought to this issue. When, I have asked myself, has Bush done something right, or something good?

This does not go over well with many liberals and so-called liberals, but sometimes, I really do enjoy Bush's humor. I have laughed out loud before over things he has said. And even though he currently looks as though he has slept in his clothes for six days, there was a time when I found him well-dressed.

That's about it, I'm afraid. He is ignorant, next to illiterate, bumbling, totally lacking in compassion, greedy, criminal, and without any moral direction, as far as I can see.

Of course, he is also a sock puppet, so that leaves me with the question, "What has Dick Cheney done that is good?"

Nothing. The entire Cheney family creeps me out beyond belief. The fake feminist wife, the daughter with the gargantuan case of internalized homophobia, and Cheney himself, who actually may be worse than Reagan...they are all very scary.

Friday cat blogging--now we are 3!

We don't know the date, but Roxie and Velma were born some time in September. Here is a recent photo of them relaxing in the middle of the sofa with their favorite pillow.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Who makes up these rules?

A few years ago, when the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines told a London audience she was ashamed that George W. Bush was from Texas, a lot of the outrage occurred because Maines had "insulted" the "president." But I also heard some people say they supported Maines' right to criticize Bush, but that she shouldn't have said what she said "over there." To these people, it was somehow improper for an American citizen to criticize the country's leader (well, you know...) while on foreign soil.

This made no sense to me at all. Bush is just as dreadful and idiotic a person, whether you happen to be in Chicago or London. It's not a secret, either: The rest of the world knows that he is an ignorant, callous, greedy philistine.

Now, enter Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader, loose cannon and drama queen who called Bush "the devil" while he was visiting the United States. Rep. Charles Rangel spoke harshly of Chavez, declaring he had no right to criticize Bush:

You don't come into my country, you don't come into my congressional district, and you don't condemn my president. If there's any criticism of President Bush, it should be restricted to Americans--whether we voted for him or not.

Oh? What a ridiculous notion. Bush isn't my president, and I didn't think he was Rangel's. Bush, as far as many of us are concerned, is not even the president. And, since we pride ourselves on our rapidly disappearing free speech, doesn't that apply to visitors? And why on earth should criticism of Bush be restricted to Americans? Like Reagan, Bush is an internationally meddlesome--and menacing--American leader (I use the term loosely). He has interfered with the people of every continent, bringing about death, homelessness, destruction, and fear.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi was even worse. She called Chavez an "everyday thug" for making the devil comment. It is not my intention to defend Chavez as a leader; rather, it is my intention to examine thug-like behavior. Attacking a country for no reason, poisoning the environment of your own country, declaring those who dissent to be unpatriotic, participating in tainted elections, and forcing illness and death on African women and children--that, dear readers, is what a thug does.

What Rangel and Pelosi did is what a coward does.

The filibuster--it's okay when Republicans use it

Remember all the threats to use the "nuclear option" when Democrats planned to filibuster Bush's racist, sexist, homophobic judicial nominees? No one was pushing harder for it than Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Some things that are nice to look at

Here is the peach ginger (I know longer know which variety of peach ginger it is) in full bloom, and above are the buds

My collection of garden misters, some of them reproductions of antique pieces

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

You bet your ass I'm more afraid of Bush than bin Laden

Right-wing talking heads like to "smear" liberals (or at least, those whom they perceive as liberals) by saying they are "the people who think we should be more afraid of George W. Bush than we are of Osama bin Laden."

Well, I for one am certainly more afraid of George W. Bush than I am of bin Laden. Osama bin Laden, as single-mindedly crazy and filled with hate as he is, did not tamper with two elections in order to make sure he took over my government. Nor did he arrange for the air and water to be poisoned, put American children at risk from lead poisoning, or arrange for the schools to teach that females should be submissive to males. bin Laden did not make me afraid to take photographs in public places or make it easy for Americans to get arrested simply by exercising their First Amendment rights. bin Laden did not cause American soldiers and Iraqi citizens to be maimed and killed for no reason at all. He did not trash decades of scientific research that holds the keys to individual and collective survival. He did not arrange for anyone with half a brain to be called unAmerican. He did not put the country in colossal debt, nor did he determine that he could ignore any law passed by Congress. And it was not bin Laden who set up a climate in which women are dictated to about their health needs by pharmacists who are actively violating their own codes of ethics.

The bin Laden family and the Bush family are close, of course, because of the Carlyle Group. Prescott Bush did business with the Nazis. It is all about money, and it always will be. Millions and millions and millions of dollars were pumped into the campaign of George W. Bush, an ignorant man who had never held a real job, other than being governor of Texas. And he used that job to poison the Texas environment and make pollutors very rich. That was all he needed to do.

So yes, I am a lot more afraid of George W. Bush than I am of anyone else other than the real leader of the country, Dick Cheney, and his pair of goons, Karl Rove and Karen Hughes. Oh...and the Ameican people scare the hell out of me, too.

The company they keep

James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, is well known for his extreme anti-feminist, anti-gay, pro-child- (and dog-) beating, "pro-family" philosophy. Bill Bennet, self-appointed "values" czar, is known for his compulsive gambling problems. Sen. George Allen, who recently came under fire for making racist comments, is also known to have a history of violence. Ann Coulter is known for desiring the death and destruction of a number of non-conservative ("non-conservative" is actually a stretch when desribing the New York Times, but you get my point) citizens. Jerry Falwell blamed gays, feminists and the ACLU for the attacks of September 11, 2001. And Sean Hannity's nightly broadcasts speak for themselves.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Two things I learned today

1. Don't kiss on a commercial airplane--unless you are heterosexual.

2. If you are so socially ignorant that you wish to continually offend female flight attendants by calling them "stewardesses," you can get a job at the "liberal" New Yorker (or the equally "liberal" New York Times, for that matter).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Priest in Manila insults world number one Amelie Mauresmo

Speculating on why Sharapova gave such a beating to Mauresmo at the U.S. Open, Fr. Bel R. San Luis writes "Was Amelie distracted by her opponent's beauty or was her focus not on the ball but on something else?"

There is no way in hell he would have said such a thing about a heterosexual athlete. Not only does the parish priest turned writer take a shot at Mauresmo for being gay, but he also suggests she is so weak-minded that she would let a "pretty girl" (not Sharapova, by the way, in my opinion) keep her from winning the U.S. Open.

Do these priests ever think about anything but homosexuality?

The Finer Points of War

The Finer Points of War
By Diane Elayne Dees

A twelve-year-old boy, kidnapped in Iraq
and held for ransom. The family paid--
his sexually abused body then found
in a plastic bag, hanged by his own clothes.
"This," says CNN's talking head,
"isn't regular warfare--it's barbarism." What I would like
for him to tell me is which part of the whole affair
is regular: the bombing of families in their homes,
the raping of children, the blowing up of buildings?
The murder of members of one's own religion,
the deaths of soldiers through roadside bombs?
What of the torture of prisoners, the abandonment
of veterans, the assaults on our own soldiers by our own soldiers?
I am not schooled in the fine points of atrocity--
where is the expert to tell me whose blood flows
in a regular stream down a street of debris and despair?

Originally published on the Poets Against War website

Get out the ammo--the Katricians are coming

Houstonian Jim Pruett, owner of Jim Pruett's Guns & Ammo, or--as he prefers to call it--your anti-terrorist headquarters--has a radio ad that warns Houston's citizens to arm themselves because the "Katricians"--Katrina evacuees from New Orleans--are going to attack if they do not get more free rent.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Spike Lee documentary has serious omissions

I finally saw When the Levees Broke, Spike Lee's 4-hour HBO documentary on what happened in New Orleans after Katrina made landfall. It is difficult viewing, to be sure; in fact, some of the scenes are horrific.

After the documentary was previewed, there were complaints that it focused only on African Americans. Others who had seen it questioned these complaints, since plenty of Caucasian victims are interviewed, and their stories are told in depth.

The answer lies somewhere in between: Despite the appearance of many white Katrina victims (or, more accurately, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers victims) in the documentary, there is no mention made of the Lakeview section of New Orleans. The white people featured (that is, those who are victims of the storm)--with the exception of one--all lived in the lower ninth ward or in St. Bernard Parish.
Lakeview is almost all white and is a middle class neighborhood with some wealthy sections. And while it is true that the people who live in Lakeview, as a whole, have more resources than the people who live in the lower ninth--nevertheless, many of them lost everything. To drive through Lakeview is not as shocking as driving through St. Bernard or the lower ninth ward, but it is still a scene of devastation.

I think Lee should have included a segment on Lakeview. His defenders say that he had to focus on what he needed to focus on in a given amount of time, but that given amount of time was four hours, and he could have included a major part of New Orleans that was destroyed.

However, that is not my main objection to an otherwise gripping piece of documentary work. The shocker is that in the entire four hours, there is no mention made of the thousands of dogs, cats, birds, horses, and other non-humans who lost their lives and their homes when the levees broke. There is no mention made of the heartbreak people suffered when the government literally threw their pets into the street. There are no scenes of drowning and starving cats and dogs. It is as though the only victims of Katrina were humans.

Monday, September 18, 2006

One big fiesta for immigrants and homosexuals

That's how Vernon Robinson describes America under the leadership of North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller. Robinson, who is running for Miller's Congressional seat, has radio and television ads that are so offensive, they are funny. Not so funny is Robinson's claim that those who are endorsing this campaign or who have endorsed one of his previous campaigns include Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Bill Bennett, the Police Benevolent Association, Governor Jeb Bush, the Wall Street Journal, and the Greensboro News & Record. If some of these endorsers do not endorse the current campaign, they certainly have not rushed to have their names taken off of the list.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Those lips, those...lips

I don't normally promote commercials, but when M-A-C (which does not test on animals) asks Miss Sandra to do one, well...I make an exception. 100% of the GLAM lipstick and lipglass selling price goes to the M-A-C AIDS Fund.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I left my gun in San Francisco

In 2004, Morgan Quitno Press ranked San Francisco as the ninth safest American city with a population over 500,000, putting it in the top 30%. This apparently did not impress Republican consultant Ed Rollins, who, on Wednesday, declared that House minority leader Nancy Pelosi "comes from San Francisco, one of the bastions of lawlessness in this country."

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Remembering Ann Richards

Nothing captures the spirit of former Governor Richards better than this.

Schwarzenegger to sign stupid law for which he will be roundly praised

California is about to get a new law which makes it illegal to use a cell phone while driving unless the cell phone is a hands-free type. Every study done has shown that the use of a hands-free cell phone makes no difference at all with regard to safety. Yet liberals are already praising this time-wasting, money-wasting legislation.

Nominee for quote of the year

"It's unacceptable to think there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists, who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective."
George W. Bush

Friday cat blogging--spin edition

And you thought the right wing had a spin machine...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Soldiers describe fighting in Afghanistan

American soldiers in Helmand Province have described to journalists from The Independent that "We are flattening places we have already flattened, but the attacks have kept coming. We have killed them by the dozens, but more keep coming, either locally or from across the border....We have used B1 bombers, Harriers, F16s and Mirage 2000s. We have dropped 500lb, 1,000lb and even 2,000lb bombs. At one point our Apaches [helicopter gunships] ran out of missiles, they have fired so many."

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

I love it when Landrieu gets angry

For those who didn't see it on TV--Sen. Landrieu, the Senate's resident filibuster specialist, said what needed to be said.

Did you know...

That how we degrade the soil is just as important as whether we torture farm animals?

Neither did I.

"People don't like mouthy women in country music"

That's a quotation from the Dixie Chicks' Emily Robison. Maybe some of her feminism needs to rub off on Natalie Maines. Or maybe America just "isn't ready" for an outspoken female country singer.

My tax money at work

It is bad enough that my tax money has gone to maim and kill American soldiers and Iraqi citizens, but it is also going to boost the Army's recruiting project by funding the video game, "America's Army." It isn't much money--just $2.5 million a year--but how tacky is it that the military has to produce a video game in order to find recruits?

Now "America's Army" has a new addition--the Army has added digital likenesses of actual soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The idea, of course, is to get adolescents to sign up. I assume that none of the digital images is of soldiers wounded, killed or suffering from a mysterious disease.

More bad news

The great Marianne Faithfull has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has cancelled her world tour, which was just about to begin.

Broken English remains a favorite album of mine, and, of course, few television decisions were more inspired than the casting of Faithfull as God in Ab Fab.

Faithfull says she plans to do the world tour next year.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ann Richards has died of cancer

Just six months after being diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, former Texas governor Ann Richards has died. Richards, 73, died tonight at her home in Austin.

A raconteur of the type that Texas seems to breed (think Sarah Weddington), Richards was an advocate for women and minorities, and was known for her quick wit. A few years ago, she did a session at a YWCA in Manhattan that was shown on television, and you couldn't watch it without crying from laughter.

It was arguably Richards' wit, however, that gave us George W. Bush. At the 1988 Democratic National Convention, she gave a memorable keynote speech, during which she said of George H.W. Bush, "Poor George couldn't help his blunders. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." Apparently, this made the younger Bush so angry that he ran against her in the next gubernatorial election. No one expected him to win, and the word was that the Richards campaign didn't make a lot of effort to get the governor re-elected. What Bush did was to bring in the disgusting Karen Hughes, who set about doing a daily smear campaign on Richards, who then lost the election.

During her term as governor of Texas, Richards established the Texas State Lottery in order to fund public schools, brought about prison reform, streamlined state government, and helped revitalize the corporate infrastructure of the state.

Richards shared with the public her recovery from alcoholism and her battle with osteoperosis. She will be remembered as brave, caring, smart, and as sharp-tongued as they come. It's a sad day.

Talk about a double standard

Pinko Feminist Hellcat makes the point that a woman has no right whatsoever to defend herself against a man's unwanted touches, but a man has the right to beat up or even kill a gay man who hits on him (and I'll add to that "who he perceives is hitting on him"). How right she is.

In my experience, most of the men whom I've heard complain that they were being hit on by gay men were not individuals--trust me--whom any gay man worth his salt would even look at, much less hit on. There is often a whole lot of projection going on. And the few who actually are hit on make me want to take out a big old violin and play a sad, sad song because even those overtures, as described, are not nearly as crass as the ones women and girls have to put up with every day.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

That's the title of a new documentary by director Kirby Dick, whose latest project exposes the irrational, incompetent, secretive, and downright bizarre goings-on at the Motion Picture Association of America's ratings board.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fun with Guns

University students in Michigan will have a chance to aim paint ball guns and BB guns at cardboard cut-outs of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. John Kerry, thanks to the Repaublican National Committee, which is funding Fun With Guns events for collegiate Republicans.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Cheney to campaign for drunken bully

Having Republicans in high positions who rape their narcoleptic wives, sexually assault dozens of women, and force their wives to have group sex is not enough. Now the GOP is sending none other than Dick Cheney to campaign for Rep. Randy Kuhl, who is running for re-election in New York. Kuhl is known for having bullied his wife with his shotguns, and--like Cheney--also has a DUI, and had his driver's license suspended for six months.

Because you can never have enough "family values" men in Congress.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Michigan senate considering bill to screen women seeking abortions

The state senate in Michigan is considering legislation that would require women seeking abortions to be screened to determine whether they have been coerced or intimidated into seeking abortion procedures. Michigan Republicans claim the legislation is designed to crack down on domestic violence, a motive doubted by some. The screening would have to take place 24 hours before the procedure is to be performed.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

September 11 poetry

Here is a September 11 poem, and another one, and some other poetry here and here.

September 11--the 5th anniversary

I remember wondering what it would feel like after five years had passed. It doesn't feel too good. The streets are still full of God Bless America bumper stickers, the newspapers are still full of lies and omissions, the White House is still full of war profiteers, and the streets of Iraq are still full of dead bodies.

Five years later, 85% of our troops believe they are in Iraq because of September 11, the September 11 commission is respected rather than condemned, the airplane cargo goes uninspected, the ersatz president of the United States milks the tragedy for all it's worth, and ordinary citizens cannot speak, take photographs, or display slogans on signs or shirts without wondering if they will be arrested.

People say that September 11 was the darkest day in American history. Perhaps that is true--it was a very dark day--but it certainly was not the darkest incident in our history. Much darker were the slaughter by our government of thousands of Native Americans, and the brutal, horrific treatment of thousands of African slaves.

Every October, we observe a day named after a man who led a campaign of unspeakable torture and slaughter, yet we rail against Saddam Hussein. Americans gave shelter and support to Eric Rudolph, but we are appalled by those who hide members of al Qaeda.

There are reasons to admire America, reasons to question America, reasons to emulate America, and reasons to hate America. Nothing is black and white. And despite having given the world many more reasons to hate Ameica through the invasion of Iraq, our biggest enemy is still religious fundamentalism. But that is not an enemy confined to people in caves in Afghanistan; it is also a rapidly growing enemy in the homeland.

September 11 taught us nothing we did not already know. There are people who hate our country so much that they will do anything to bring it down. There is little homeland security to protect us from attacks. And there are Americans who so despise the constitutional basis of our country that they will seize on the worst type of tragedy to subvert the government. Now, as in the 80s, they are the ones running the government. And though they were not legally elected, no one--not Congress, not the Courts, not the news media--did a thing to stop them.

Who are the enemies of America?

Something I've been meaning to post

Stone Court's breakdown of the extreme white maleness of The Daily Show.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sharapova wins U.S. Open: I feel pretty--impressed

Last night, Maria Sharapova won the U.S. Open in a straight set victory over 2003 U.S. Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne. Though I was disappointed that Amelie Mauresmo, Lindsay Davenport and Jelena Jankovic failed to make it to the final, I knew that with these two in it, there would be quality tennis.

Sharapova, who had never before defeated Mauresmo, beat her handily in the semifinals. She had also never before defeated Henin-Hardenne, but--after a shaky start--took control of the match. With her excellent service game, greatly improved movement and willingness to finally come to the net, Sharapova outclassed Henin-Hardenne throughout most of the match.

Henin-Hardenne recently changed her service motion again, and commentators were quick to call that the reason for her serving problems throughout the Open. Not true. Henin-Hardenne has had an on-and-0ff problem with her serve since she came back from the virus that knocked her out for so long. As a rule, she can work around it, so strong is her defensive game. But not last night, when she needed every possible shot to keep up with Sharapova.

Since Sharapova's dramatic 2004 Wimbledon win, people have been waiting for her to prove herself and win another Slam. Last night, she did just that, and with a lot of style.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Dear Congressman Sweeney...

You are a kind of hero right now because of your successful bill to ban horse slaughter. As an animal rights activist (how peculiar that we have to exist at all), I am supposed to be thanking you. But I am here to say I am appalled by your values.

You talked eloquently about the terrible abuses suffered by horses as they are crowded into trucks, where they often end up bloodied and injured. But then you lost me. You said that the slaughter of horses is different from the slaughter of cattle and chickens because horses such as Mr. Ed, Secretariat and Silver are "American icons."

So let me get this straight: Chickens and ducks and cows and pigs and sheep can endure the most horrific types of abuse their entire lives, and that is okay because we have not exploited any of them on stupid television shows or made millions of dollars off of them by having them race. They can be crowded into tiny spaces in which they cannot ever turn around, live in their own feces, have their beaks cut off, be thrown into a trash pile when their legs are broken, have their legs broken off by slaughter house employees, get thrown against the wall and smashed so employees can "let off steam," have tubes jammed down their throats every day, be packed so tightly in trucks that they cannot breathe, and be injected with so many hormones that they have multiple infections.

There is nothing more disgustingly immoral than factory farming, but you have endorsed it because the poor animals are not "icons."

Sorry, Congressman--you're not my hero.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Cartoon of the day

From yesterday's Times-Picayune, in time for the U.S. Open women's championship.

The worst Grand Slam semifinals I've ever seen

If you saw today's women's U.S. Open semifinals, you may have wanted to throw something at your TV screen. I did. I was cheering for the extremely talented Jelena Jankovic to beat Justine Henin-Hardenne, and for a set and a half, it looked like that was going to happen. But then Jankovic had some bad luck. She had an unpleasant encounter with an inappropriate chair umpire, and then a big wind hit the court. Between one thing and another, Jankovic lost her concentration, lost the second set, and then quickly lost the match.

The new challenge system, in which players on the major courts get two line call challenges per set (if they make a call right, they get to keep a challenge) and one per tiebreak, needs fixing. The player challenge relies on an electronic line call. In the past, the chair umpire would overrule a linesperson's call if s/he felt that was correct. But since the new challenge system has been initiated, some of the umpires have been reluctant to overrule calls. Now comes the news that the USTA actually instructed U.S. Open umpires not to overrule any calls in case they would end up embarrassed (players are also allowed to challenge overrules). That is outrageous.

To make matters worse, Jankovic perceived that some world-class gameswomanship was going on from Henin-Hardenne, who is well known for that sort of thing. It isn't against the rules, but it is tacky.

In 2004 and 2005, Jankovic was a hot phenom. Then she got a bad virus that kept her out for a few months, and then she decided she might not want to be a tennis player. That led to nine straight losses, then--this year at the Italian Open--she got her game back together and has been terrific ever since. Her greatest flaw at this point is the immaturity that allowed an umpire, a weather change and a less-than-straight and narrow opponent get to her. With her stinging groundstrokes, wonderful net play and expert down-the-line backhand--once she grows up a bit--I see her holding a Grand Slam trophy.

If the first semifinal was a heartbreaker, the second one was terrible. World number one Amelie Mauresmo, my favorite WTA player, was defeated by Maria Sharapova--someone who has never before beaten her--6-0, 4-6, 6-0. These things do happen (last year, Sharapova was double-bageled by Lindsay Davenport), but they shouldn't happen at a Slam. To the world number one player. And especially to a player who, for years, was considered the greatest choker on the tour (how easily we forget that prior to that, Henin-Hardenne was considered the greatest choker).

Mauresmo does not care for the U.S. Open (many European players do not care for it because of its loud circus atmosphere). She blew off the entire summer hardcourt season, and therefore was not adequately prepared. Still, she managed to get to the semifinals, despite already being bageled in a set by Serena Williams. Perhaps Mauresmo should have just skipped the U.S. Open. Or perhaps there was just some kind of mental lapse that we will learn more about later when the interview is published. At any rate, just when she was finally getting the recognition she deserved, she wound up with an unbelievably embarrassing scoreline. The strange thing is that she played really well in the second set.

As a rule, semifinal matches are better than finals, but let's hope that isn't the case at this year's Open. I am not a particular fan of either Henin-Hardenne or Sharapova, so I have no emotion invested in the final. Sharapova, having won only her famous 2004 Wimbledon championship, is probably desperate to win another Slam, and many predicted from the beginning that she would win this one. Henin-Hardenne won the U.S. Open in 2003, and is always the most dangerous opponent anyone can face. Sharapova and Henin-Hardenne are the two mentally toughest women on the tour. Henin-Hardenne gets into service slumps and Sharapova doesn't always move as well as she could. Henin-Hardenne is certainly the better volleyer. Anything will be an improvement on today's affair.

Judge rules against ACLU in Georgia prayer case

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story has ruled that prayers that refer to Jesus Christ do not violate the U.S. Constitution and may continue to be offered at the Cobb County, Georgia county commission meetings.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Women crowded out of Mecca

Our good friends in Saudi Arabia have thought of yet another way to suppress women--by banning them from the Grand Mosque at Mecca. Why? Because it is getting too crowded. So naturally, the solution is to ban women. Though is supposed to be a possible plan, the word is out that it is already a practice.

Saudi women are not allowed to drive, and they cannot attend school, get a job, travel, or stay at a hotel without permission from a male guardian. And just for the record, a bunch of them attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

"I'm sorry that I sexually assaulted all those women"

You'll never hear that from unindicted sex criminal Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though one of the alleged victims was a minor. And even though he was known for assaulting women on the street before he was even a movie star. What Schwarzenegger did say was "Anyone out there that feels offended by those comments, I just want to say I'm sorry, I apologize." The California governor had commented that Puerto Ricans and Cubans were hot-headed because they had a mix of black and Latino blood.

The blogosphere will most likely have a field day with this, and though it shows Schwarzenegger for the idiot he is, it will doubtless get more play than Schwarzenegger's sexual assaults on women. Right after the media burned out from talking about how the then-candidate's opponents were "using" his allegedly criminal (are you listening, Soledad O'Brien?) activities against him, super-liberal Alec Baldwin came forward to tell us all what a "great guy" Schwarzenegger was. I doubt that it would had made any difference at all if someone had discovered that Schwarzenegger actually had rape convictions on his record.

Friday cat blogging--portrait edition

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Pollster pleads guilty to making up results

Tracy Costin, owner of DataUSA Inc. (now ViewPoint USA) pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. DataUSA Inc. has conducted polls for George W. Bush and Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

U.S. Open semifinals set

Maria Sharapova, losing her serve repeatedly and then regaining her mental edge, knocked out Tatiana Golovin, 7-6, 7-6 to enter the semifinals of the Open. Sharapova gained her edge so decisively at the end that she won the second tiebreak 7-0.

In a heartbreaking (for me) match, Justine Henin-Hardenne once again defeated Lindsay Davenport. The scoreline was a respectable--6-4, 6-4, with one break in the first set and three in the second. Davenport, try as she might, can no longer beat Henin-Hardenne. One more Grand Slam lost for Davenport, who is nearing the end of her career.

World number one Amelie Mauresmo cruised through her match against Dinara Safina, and yesterday, Jelena Jankovic--now known in the locker room as the JJ Express--ran over Elena Dementieva, 6-2, 6-1.

On Friday, Henin-Hardenne will play Jankovic and Sharapova will play her nemesis, Mauresmo. I expect Henin-Hardenne to defeat Jankovic, and I also expect Jankovic to finally get a case of nerves, which--so far--she has not shown. Of course, anything can happen. I also expect Mauresmo to beat Sharapova again, despite what must be Sharapova's hunger to finally win a match against her and to get into another Grand Slam final. Mauresmo, with her incredible variety--from the lowest slices to the highest lobs--knows how to pull Sharapova around the court, and for all her talent, Sharapova still isn't the best mover. But I think it will be close.

If things turn out as I believe they will, Henin-Hardenne and Mauresmo will face each other in a third Grand Slam final this year. The first was the infamous Australian Open final, still being talked about, in which Henin-Hardenne retired, robbing Mauresmo of the thrill of having her first Grand Slam championship point. The second was Wimbledon, where Mauresmo "proved herself" and beat Henin-Hardenne in three sets.

Everyone, it seems, loves a rivalry--except me. I loved the Evert/Navratilova rivalry because they were close friends and it was special. And I enjoyed the Graf/Seles rivalry, but only up to a point (I enjoyed the Graf/Sabatini rivalry more). But I am tired of the Clijsters/Henin-Hardenne rivalry, and I never liked the Williams/Williams Grand Slam matches. As much as I love seeing Mauresmo beat Henin-Hardenne (and I do love it), I really don't want to see them in another Grand Slam final. I like fresh blood and would like to see Jankovic advance to the final. Of course, there is a possibility that Henin-Hardenne will face Sharapova in the final, and that would be interesting to see, too, though very disappointing to me. If Davenport can't win, I want Mauresmo to.

On the bright side, it would have been maddening to see Davenport and Mauresmo, two of my three top favorites, face each other in a Grand Slam final. At least I have been spared that.

Teacher fired because of her personal website

Heather Weathers (I know--it's a great name) is a New Orleans feminist artist. After Katrina hit, she had to live in Lafayette, where she was hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board to teach at Comeaux High School. But after one week, Weathers was fired when the principal saw her website.

It is unknown whether the principal objected to Weathers' feminism, her explicit art, or both, though my best guess is that he objected to the explicit art, and it didn't help that it was feminist. Weathers has filed suit with the ACLU and is seeking compensation for lost wages, earning opportunity and benefits, as well as emotional distress.

That's what I call helping each other out during a disaster.

For those who like irony

John McEnroe is on TV complaining about a fan's "annoying behavior."

Farewell, Shinobu--we'll all miss you

Shinobu Asagoe awaits serve with her partner, Katarina Srebotnik, at the 2006 Family Circle Cup

Asagoe ready to volley

Andre Agassi's farewell at the U.S. has been shown over and over and over, even while exciting matches are going on. Martina Navratilova's final farewell has been almost ignored, though it has at least been mentioned, and she will be inducted in the Court of Champions. But what happens when a lesser known veteran, especially a non-American one, retires?

Nothing, it appears. Shinobu Asagoe of Japan, who turned pro over nine years ago, has won eight doubles tournaments and was once ranked as high as 21 in the world in singles. Her highest doubles rank was 13 (in May), and her current doubles rank is 18.

Her fans expected Asagoe to retire at the Tokyo Open, but she chose the U.S. Open. Yesterday, she played her last doubles match; she and her partner for the Open, Akiko Morigami, were defeated by the world's number one team, Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur. When the match was over, the Japanese fans gave Asagoe a standing ovation. You didn't see this on television, though, because the days of showing doubles matches are over, and even when doubles were shown, it was only the championship matches that were selected for TV viewing.

To my knowledge, none of the talking (in this case, babbling) heads has mentioned Asagoe's retirement, though it is possible that they did and I missed it. Though hardly a household name, Asagoe is well-respected among fans of women's tennis, and her doubles game is exciting and entertaining. One of the highlights of this year's Family Circle Cup was watching Asagoe bounding around the court and volleying like mad.

For those of us who follow the WTA, Shinobu's retirement is a loss. We all wish her well.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I highly recommend

Bush says EPA immune from protections for federal whistleblowers

Citing an unpublished opinion from the Attorney General's Office of Legal Counsel, the Bush administration has declared that federal employees may no longer pursue whistleblower claims and protections under the Clean Water Act. As of now, EPA employees will have almost no protection from retaliation if they come forward with information about water pollution enforcement breakdowns, cleanup failures, or the deceptive presentation of scientific findings. Approximately 170,000 employees are affected by this ruling.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Perhaps Democrats should take a look at themselves

Members of a very popular so-called liberal Web forum are having fits over the fact the Green Party has the audacity to run candidates. The reason, of course, is that running candidates in a third party may split the vote and help Republicans.

What these irate people do not understand is that those of us who are Green do not see much difference between Democrats and Republicans. We do not share the values of the Democratic Party; therefore, why should we go out of our way to see that Democrats are elected? The Democratic Party, especially under the Clinton-established DLC, stands for coproratism, just like the Republican Party. Yes, there are theoretically differences between the two, but you wouldn't know it from the illegal war votes, support for the Patriot Act, meager support for feminism and gay rights, and less than meager support for environmental responsibility.

Some of these same people, by the way, long for a third party. There is a third party, but they are railing against it.

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

Central City shooter's stray round kills man

Husband shoots man found hiding in bedroom closet

Man found fatally shot in warehouse district

Motorist shot by other driver

Stray bullet wounds Algiers man in east N.O.

Those are the headlines on the first two pages of today's New Orleans Times-Picayune metro section.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Quote of the day

"Well, you know, he has a sense of fashion. He's a showman. At the same time he has a tremendous amount of class. He's very nice. You know, he's always working really hard. You know, that's just, you know he's, you know, someone that I've admired all my life, my whole career. ..."
Serena Williams, on why Andre Agassi reminds her of herself

CBS really does serve a purpose

It allows me to realize that there is a tennis network more contemptible than ESPN. If you are not a tennis fan and you happen to tune in to the U.S. Open, you are apt to believe that women do not play professional tennis. There is not a woman to be seen, except for an occasional last game or last point of a game. This, despite the fact that there were matches between Justine Henin-Hardenne and Shahar Peer, Lindsay Davenport and Patty Schnyder, and a big upset of Svetlana Kuznetsova by Jelena Jankovic.

The USA Network hasn't done much better. There have been some women's night matches (world number one Amelie Mauresmo has yet to appear in a televised night match, while Maria Sharapova has played in two), but during the day, it has mostly been men.

Some of the men's matches were outstanding, but others were relentlessly boring. However, they featured Americans, so they must be seen at all costs. Of course, Lindsay Davenport is an American, but she is not a man.

No Jews allowed. Just kidding. No seriously."

Bill Frist, the animal shelter-deceiving, cat-killing, video screen-diagnosing, lying Senate majority leader all-around family values guy, has raised a son of whom he can be proud. Here is Jonathan Frist in his Confederate Army pants and beer holster, having himself a good-old-boy time.

And Roll Call reports that the younger Frist's Facebook entry described him as a member of "the Jonathan Frist appreciation for 'Waking Up White People' Group." Frist also mentioned a group where there were "No Jews allowed. Just kidding. No seriously."

Yo, Elizabeth! We're waiting...

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina's premiere idiot, interviewed by Fox News's premiere idiot, Chris Wallace, has yet to answer a simple question, Who are these people who believe terrorists can be appeased?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Why Mississippi is "ahead" of Louisiana in hurricane recovery

This letter to the editor says it all about Mississippi's claim to being so organized and self-sufficient.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I can't add anything to this

The late summer garden

This peach ginger, which has been in the garden for years, bloomed for the first time this month

Honeysuckle vines, along with beautyberry bushes, appeared in our yard after Katrina

This 'Royal Standard' hosta also bloomed for the first time this summer, though it has been here for years

The "banana canna" has huge leaves and small, flame-like blooms

As regular readers of this blog know, our garden has been in trouble for some time. We have lost our formosa lilies, red salvia, spider lily, and a stand of miniature daylilies. The walking iris did not bloom this year, and most of the gingers failed to make bracts and flowers. We are in the process of treating the soil, in the hope of getting some of our blooms back. In the meantime, Katrina gave us some surprises, and a couple of plants bloomed for the first time. The biggest successes were our 'Mermaid' rose, which--once it lost its sun-craving host tree--gave us spectacular bloom, and the night-blooming cereus.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bill Maher utters the 7 predictable words

Tonight on Real Time, Maher said something about what the Bush administration had done to "the working man." Mary Frances Berry, one of the panelists, said "The working woman, too. You said just 'the working man.'"

Then he said it: "There are so many more important issues. Don't hang me up here."

That is what people always say when they are called on using sexist language.

What if Maher had said "the working woman?" Wouldn't most of the men in the audience have objected? What if he had said "working white people"?

What would it have cost him to say "working people?"

Attention gay Wal-Mart shoppers...

Wal-Mart has formed a partnership with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, a move that Wal-Mart calls "a very sincere effort to reach out to people who are a significant part of our customer base."

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

They don't call it the USA Network for nothing

All day long, we have seen almost nothing but boring U.S. Open matches featuring American players (with the exception of Federer v. Henman). While it is sadly true that Americans in general are interested primarily in American sportswomen and men, tennis fans are not. Tennis fans like whom they like, regardless of country. Does USA really think that millions of non-tennis fans are watching, or is this just a presumption of chauvanism among tennis fans?

Friday cat blogging--U.S. Open edition

Velma had to shield her eyes from the train wreck that was Hingis's second round

But all their other favorites are still in!