Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bravo, Professor Dutch

I couldn't have said it better myself.

(delagar, this one's for you.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sisters are doin' it to themselves

It began when a DePauw University psychology professor distributed a survey, and students described one sorority as "Daddy's little princesses" and another, Delta Zeta, as "socially awkward." Speaking for myself, I would rather eat rocks than be part of a group of Daddy's little princesses, but apparently, not everyone feels that way. The Delta Zeta membership at DePauw had declined, so some important DZs from the national office in Ohio went to Indiana to help. They interviewed 35 members of the DePauw DZ chapter, and concluded that 23 of them were "insufficiently committed" to the sorority. Those women were asked to leave the sorority house.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

Last night, I saw the documentary, Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. I didn't see or hear anything I hadn't expected to see or hear, but what stayed with me were some of the remarks made by participating soldiers. Specialist Sabrina Harman appears, smiling, in several of the horrible photographs. After one of them was shown, she explained: "It was nothing personal; I just always smile for a picture." Right. After you've wrapped a prisoner in ice or forced him to stay up for six nights in a row or tied him up, naked, by his hands, you want to look perky for that digital moment. (You can see Specialist Harman smiling for a picture here).

Another soldier talked about the day there was a prison riot. "Hey," he says he told the prisoners, "calm down. We're upset, too, you know."

It boggles the mind.

One prisoner tells how the guards let his father die. Another says that the American soldiers not only dragged his family to prison, but smashed their belongings and stole their gold and money. As terrible as the prison images are, the non-prison images are even more chilling. The moment that sickened me the most was once again seeing a smiling Rumsfeld, publicly "thanking" MP Joe Darby for turning in the torture photo cds. Darby's act was, of course, anonymous, in order to protect him from harm or even death by retribution. Rumsfeld turned him into a living target.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Man-hating lesbians do exist, it turns out

You can see them every Sunday, on The L Word. I have written before (too many posts to even start linking) that one of the many gaping flaws in The L Word is the writers' insistence on making all of the show's male characters grossly undesirable. From a thieving drug addict to a homophobic father to a man who thinks he is a lesbian, the men on The L Word are creepy. Then there's Henry, who--after a couple of sexual escapades with Tina, thinks he has the right to take away Bette's baby (don't get me started on how creepy Tina is). And Shane's cheating father. And the man who takes secret sex videos of his female roommates. And the gay man who cheats Kit out of her business. The men who aren't perverted and dishonest are portrayed as hopelessly clueless, humorless, and obsessed with their own gratification via girl-on-girl action. Now Angus (whom I never liked) is the latest cheater. The only man on The L Word who is portrayed as having both integrity and at least a little (in comparison) hip sensibility is Max, who is transgendered.

Yes, we have all met lying, cheating men, and men who see lesbians only through the glass of their own male-centered desire. Unfortunately, we have also met plenty of clueless, humorless men, too. But they are not the Entire Population of Men.

Characters like Shane and Papi, if they were men, would be called womanizers, but since they are lesbians, they are simply players. Give me a break. There are players, both male and female, who follow a code of ethics, and players who do not.

Some of the women on The L Word leave something to be desired, to be sure. Jenny, who used to be crazy but touching, is now pathologically vicious, Tina is a wimp who would sell out her own child, Marina was a manipulative trouble-maker to the core, and--in her past incarnation--the now kindly Helena was a scheming witch.

But we also get to see women of integrity on the show: Dana (what a pity she is gone), Shane, Carmen, Alice (she has morphed into an idiot, but she has integrity), Kit, and Bette, who appeared all too human when she cheated. In other words, we see all different kinds of women, and all different kinds of motivations and behaviors in each woman, while the male characters may as well be cardboard cutouts. Even Tim, who was the victim in his relationship with Jenny, was written so that, in the end, we disliked him and felt sorry for Jenny.

The men even look unattractive. Whenever we see a group of men, such as at a party or at a public place, they look hopelessly straight (not in the sexual way), with bad haircuts and stupid clothes, while the women sport high L.A. fashion. They are the kind of men whom all women--not just gay women--spend a lifetime trying to avoid. Probably a lot of men do whatever it takes to avoid them, too: They are dorky, creepy, out-of-it, lascivious goons. In this sense, The L Word is a cartoon, and not a very good one.

My only statement on the Academy Awards

Is thank goodness we just have to endure this circus once a year. Anyone who believes that the Academy really cares about film has been seriously deluded. The Academy Awards are politically motivated, sexist (a long tradition of screwing over women in the way the Best Supporting Actress category is handled is the overwhelming example), and generally tied to the box office (which is why the awards were created). Though worthy actors, directors and others sometimes win Oscars, many worthy ones are not even so much as nominated, and many really mediocre ones win. There is a long, heartbreaking list of artists who have been denied Oscars because of politics, pettiness and bad taste.

The New York Film Critics Circle has traditionally presented the most authentic awards, though--in the last decade or so--some of their choices have been very peculiar. The Film Independent Spirit Awards are notable, also, but the list of eligible films is, by definition, limited.

And you thought there was no good news

Sexist, homophobic anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan is stepping down.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sexist language here to stay

There couldnt' be a hipper, more progressive group than the Film Independent Spirit Awards people, right? Yet the announcer of the awards event introduced Maggie Gyllenhall as the event's honorary "chairman." Because old sexist habits don't die hard--they just don't die.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Bush has issued a disaster declaration for parts of New Orleans--11 days after the fact.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Money can't buy equality--ask Suze Orman

Now that Suze Orman is out, is she going to do some serious lobbying and speaking about having her financial life screwed up because of her sexual orientation? I hope so. Annoying as she is, she could do a lot of good for the LGBT community. Of course, as Roxanne points out, Orman first needs a little sex education.

Florida Appeals Court rules against girl based on fantasized future events

In 2004, two Florida adolescents--16-year-old Amber and 17-year-old Jeremy--took digital photos of themselves nude and engaged in some sort of sexual contact. They then sent the photos from a computer at Amber's house to Jeremy's email address. Somehow, the Tallahassee police got possession of the photos, and both Amber and Jeremy were arrested and charged with producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child. Jeremy was also charged with possession of child pornography.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Oh, to have the power of Clinton

I read on a message board this morning that someone told her/his mother about the horrific conditions at Walter Reed Hospital, and the mother concluded that such a thing could not possibly be true, that--you guessed it--Hillary Rodham Clinton had made it up to embarrass George W. Bush.

As though Bush needed Clinton's help with embarrassment.

This can be considered a silly anecdote, of course, but I think it reflects the belief of a lot of people: They either still think Bush is some kind of god, or they acknowledge that he has "made mistakes," but he is still superior to the evil Clinton, and that anyway, we should all "respect" the president. I don't think anyone should automatically respect anyone, but in this case, he isn't even the legally chosen president.

The degree of projection is scary. Bush, Cheney and the gang who sail with them are possibly the biggest liars in the history of the country, but anyone who points out the state of the nation or the state of the lies is "making it up." I am, to some extent, an apologist for Clinton, though I do not agree with many of her votes. But the heartless, cruel attacks heaped on her when her husband was president made me sick. And if it is easy for the right wing to hate Bill Clinton, how much easier must it be for the right wing to hate a female?

I do not care at all for Bill Clinton for many reasons, but the significant irrational hatred of him has always fascinated me. I recall a client sitting in my office, practically popping a blood vessel as he talked about how much he hated Clinton. He wagged his finger in the air and did a poor imitation of the "I did not have sex with that woman" speech. "Wow," I said. "You must have really hated JFK and Nixon." He stared blankly at me. "One was a drug addict who had sex with over a dozen different women a week, and the other was an alcoholic who beat his wife." He changed the subject.

The power attributed to Sen. Clinton is an awesome thing. I bet she wishes she really had it.


I stepped out of my home office to see if any of the cats wanted lunch, and found three of them in the living room, gathered around the Oriental rug, where they had cornered this snake. It was hard to tell whether the snake was dead, hurt, or just stunned. I got it out of the house and determined that it was alive, but either injured or in shock. I went inside to get some Rescue Remedy; usually, a drop or two will reverse a state of shock in any creature. But by the time I got outside again, the snake had regained its composure and was moving along nicely. Shy creature though it is, it allowed me to take these photos.

I go for coffee, and ruin someone's fun

This morning, I was in my local coffee shop, and the woman behind the counter showed me how she'd gotten burned. The burn had occurred while she was baking, but the man behind me--Mr. charity golf shirt with a cell phone--didn't know that, and quipped "Too bad this isn't McDonald's--you could sue."

I turned around, did my best confused smile, and said "What do you mean?"

"You know, McDonald's--hot coffee--lawsuit..."

"Oh, you mean the coffee is multiple degrees over the federal safety level and the government has warned McDonald's repeatedly how unsafe it is, and McDonald's ignores the warnings, is in contempt of federal standards, and then someone has an accident?"

He looked stunned. Then he said, "I didn't know that."

On the one hand, of course he didn't know it; the news media went out of its way to protect McDonald's and make everyone think that 79-year-old Stella Liebeck schemed to part poor McDonald's from its money. On the other hand, I knew the facts of the case, and there really isn't much excuse for Mr. Quick Wit's not knowing them.

But Americans aren't interested in learning facts. What they are interested in is making fun of victims, whether they are rape victims, victims of corporate negligence, victims of natural disasters, or victims of smear campaigns. The thread of sadism in the national conversation is getting thicker every day.

Friday cat blogging--post-Carnival edition

Planning a visit to Canada? You better be squeaky-clean

Americans are discovering there is no forgiveness for past discretions such as shoplifting or possession of marijuana when it comes to entering Canada. DWIs on your record will keep you out, too--driving while drunk is taken much more seriously in Canada than it is in the U.S. Traffic tickets and juvenile crimes are the only things that are not held against you--most of the time.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Borders bans book, refuses to tell author why

Author Aury Wallington wrote a teen novel called Pop!, which was well-received by reviewers. Pop! tells the story of a 17-year-old girl who decides to give up her virginity, and what the emotional consequences are of her choice. You can find it at Barnes & Noble, and you can even find it on Borders' website, but not on the shelves. And Borders refuses to say why it will not stock the book.

Wallington thinks it may because of a quotation on the book jacket: "Marit has made up her mind. Being a virgin is getting in the way of holding on to a boyfriend she really likes." This quotation, of course, has nothing to do with the overall context of the book; it is merely a plot teaser.

Borders should be ashamed for not stocking Pop!, and it should be even more ashamed of not telling the author why the book is unavailable. Wallington says that, despite extraordinary--and very creative--efforts on her part, Borders' action has caused her to have extremely low sales.

Christian nutbar greeting cards now available at Barnes & Noble

"Funny gal" evangelist Joyce Meyer, who tells her followers that I am part of the devil's plan because I am a psychotherapist, now has a line of greeting cards. No surprise there--she also sells mugs, pens, tote bags, calenders, DVDs, and various other items. The surprise was seeing the cards in my local Barnes & Noble. I usually expect to find this type of merchandise in my local Books-a-Million, which I frequent as little as possible.

I mentioned my surprise to the clerk at Barnes & Noble, and she said that the store did not engage in censorship. The hell they don't--there is no pornography in Barnes & Noble (thank goodness), for example. (She also told me, as an aside, that the one time she'd seen The 700 Club on TV, she went into gales of laughter because she assumed she was watching an SNL clip.)

Tag--you're It

About 50 students at New York University have signed up to play a game, "Find the Illegal Immigrant," created by student members of the College Republicans. One student is chosen to wear a tag identifying her as an illegal immigrant, and the first student "immigration enforcement agent" to find the tagged student wins a prize.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Thanks to Kos

For calling out Obama for who he is.

At long last, Wimbledon to offer equal prize money

This morning, the All-England Club announced it was finally bucking "tradition" and paying women equal prize money, beginning this year. A major shout-out here to Venus Williams, who single-handedly shamed the All-England Club with her kick-ass 2006 London Times editorial, "Wimbledon has sent me a message: I'm only a second-class champion," which is, sadly, no longer online.

And before anyone even dares to go there:

  • If men are stronger than women (and they are, of course) then their playing five sets is equal to women playing three sets, so the "the men work harder" argument is totally irrational.
  • However...just to shut everyone up, the women on the WTA have repeatedly offered to play five sets, and have been turned down again and again.

Anyone else see The O Tapes?

I saw this documentary, and have mixed feelings about it. The women themselves are touching, funny, brutally honest, and sometimes heartbreaking about their sexuality, but the experts leave something to be desired. They implicitly trash Masters' and Johnson's assertion about female orgasms, and--if they are correct--they really need to give us some research to back up their conclusions.

The women themselves, I must say, don't help; most of them use Freud-era language to describe their sexual experiences. That shouldn't surprise anyone, though. Sex education in this country is practically nonexistent.

I also think there could have been more discussion of gay and bisexual women in this documentary.

On the positive side, every woman who watches The O Tapes will idenify with at least one of the other women, and probably with several of them; I did.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Archbishop Akinola needs to watch some nature shows

Nigeria's Anglican archbishop, Peter Akinola, has declared that homosexuality is ''an aberration unknown even in animal relationships,'' a statement so ignorant, you have to wonder how one gets to be an archbishop these days. Hundreds of species, from beetles to primates, exhibit homosexual behavior as a way of bonding or communicating. Of course, Akinola also believes it should be illegal for homosexuals to form organizations, read gay literature and eat together in pubilc places.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Maliki orders that alleged rapists be honored

The woman who says she was gang-raped by Iraqi security forces is, according to Iraq's prime minister, "an imposter." Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Ghafoor al-Samaraei, head of the Sunni Endowment, came forward to say that the Iraqi security forces have raped several women. Maliki handled that pesky issue by firing Samaraei. He has also ordered that the alleged rapists be honored.

Support the troops.

The misogynist merchandise just keeps coming

This one revealed at Pandagon.

Richard Krajicek finally apologizes--sort of

Male tennis players have been known to denigrate the women's tour. Pat Cash referred to the women's game as "three sets of junk." John Newcombe once issued this "compliment"--"The ladies' game is the icing on the cake." And Richard Krajicek once described most women players as "fat pigs."

Now, Krajicek, who won Wimbledon in 1996, says he should not have used the term "fat pigs"--what he really meant was that most of them were out of shape. That is certainly open to discussion.

But never mind. Krajicek also says "Maybe my serve and volley could give Roger trouble." Right.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

An interesting visualization exercise

Gary Rosen, writing for the New York Times, asks us to imagine Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani in church, sitting in a pew, head bowed, or delivering a homily. Rosen bets that we can imagine Clinton and Obama in these scenarios, but not McCain and Giuliani. About them, Rosen says, "You somehow imagine them fidgeting during the hymns and checking their watches."

I couldn't agree more with this, though I have to say up front that I couldn't care less whether any of them goes to church or can deliver homilies. Giuliani in particular has used religion to try to destroy our civil liberties--recall his campaigns against art galleries and museums that exhibited art that might offend Catholics. Giuliani also has issues with divorce and an extra-marital affair. Again, I couldn't care less, but the so-called church group says it does. McCain is such a repulsive person, it is hard for me to imagine his being sincere about anything, much less religion.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Critical thinking skills--a distant memory

I just retired from a message board discussion in which either/or ruled, so therefore, it was impossible to make a factual, rational point, including the point at issue in the discussion. Rhetorical fallacies are no longer anything to be pointed out--they are the discourse. One is shocked when there are few of them in the course of a discussion.

Which brings me to the fake "free speech" argument. In a recent MoJo post, I pointed out something very offensive that was broadcast on television by a company, and, of course, someone immediately attacked me for wanting to "shut down" free speech. As a sane commenter pointed out, at no time did I say or imply that I believed the company did not have the right to say what they wanted--just that the content was offensive.

I see this fallacious argument a lot these days: Object to something someone says, and you are immediately accused of wanting to take away the person's right to say it. I remember, a few years ago, explaining to a woman that one of the many reasons I didn't shop at WalMart was that the store discriminated against women in its pharmacy. "But don't they have a right to sell what they want to sell?" she asked. "When," I asked her, "did I say they didn't?" She just looked at me with a blank look. "This discussion," I went on, "was not about WalMart's rights in the market; it was about gender discrimination." Another blank look.

False dichotomy (fallacy of the excluded middle), post hoc ergo propter hoc, either/or thinking, hasty generalization....these now rule the day. Doesn't anyone learn anything in school anymore?

Iraqi woman gang-raped by those wonderful security forces

A brave Iraqi woman (who knows how many other women there are who were afraid to talk?) reports that she was gang-raped by the great Iraq security forces. Americans took her to an investigative judge, and after her moment in court, she was raped again. She was also beaten and threatened with death if she told anyone about the rape.

The next time I hear Laura Bush or John McCain talk about what we've done for the Iraqi people--and specifically, for women--I may have to break something. As James Ridgeway says, someone in Congress, including the "feminists" and "liberals," had better say the words "war crimes" soon.

Columnist, tired of doing the woman beat, resigns from Chicago paper

In The China Syndrome, Jane Fonda's character, Kimberly Wells, is sick and tired of getting stupid assignments like covering the birthday parties of animals at the local zoo, but those are the only assignments she can get because she is a woman. Yet even Kimberly would be shocked by Debra Pickett's assignment from the Chicago Sun-Times: Her editor told her to breast-feed her son in public places and write about it.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

The winter garden

N. 'Grand Primo,' an early-blooming tazetta narcissus with a wonderful scent

Special Presidents' Day feature

Critiques of some former presidents:

Thomas Jefferson:
  • Obsessed with shopping, he galavanted all over the world, picking up knickknacks and objets d'art for his home when he should have been tending to state matters

Abraham Lincoln:
  • Preoccupied with his feelings, to the detriment of the country
  • Instead of being concerned with important subjects, he cared about things like theatre, which was his undoing

John F. Kennedy:
  • Quite simply, a slut, who brought shame to all God-fearing Americans
  • Naturally, the consequence of his slutty behavior, plus his predictable inability to cope with pain and stress, made him a drug addict

Richard Nixon:
  • Problems with his emotions made him irrational and led, of course, to substance abuse and crazy, violent behavior

Gerald Ford:
  • Made his spouse and children very important, as expected, and therefore could not really lead the nation

Yet another note to ESPN...

Women figure skaters cannot be "countrymen." This is because they are not men. They are the other gender--women. I know, in the 21st Century, it doesn't occur to you to call women "women," but maybe you could work on it.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Dear school librarians:

Scrotum! Scrotum! Scrotum!

I always think of libarians as the last guardians of free speech, but apparently, some school librarians are oh, so disgusted that children will read the word "scrotum" in the Newbury Medal-winning book, The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron, that they are banning it.

What is wrong with these people? It's a body part, for god's sake. In the book, a rattlesnake bites a dog on the scrotum, a plot device which Patron drew from an actual incident involving her friend's dog.

"I think it’s a good case of an author not realizing her audience,” said Frederick Muller, a librarian at Halsted Middle School in Newton, N.J. "If I were a third- or fourth-grade teacher, I wouldn’t want to have to explain that."

According to Muller, third- and fourth-grade students do not know what a scrotum is, and I suppose they don't, but why?

Stopping the "radical" Sen. Clinton

Dick Collins, a Dallas businessman, threw in $135,000 to start, a website designed, according to Collins, to derail Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her "radical ideas."

I'm trying to figure out what radical ideas Collins is trying to derail--Her vote for the Iraq War? Her assertion that America isn't ready for gay marriage? Her work to pass the Adoption and Safe Familes Act? Perhaps he means the Vital Voices program, or a woman's right to choose, or the extension of the LIFE Act. Oh, wait--Clinton was opposed to the relaxing of federal standards for nursing homes--that must be it. Or maybe it's her work to reduce acid rain and ozone smog. Increased benefits for childcare workers? Increased gun safety measures?

That Clinton--she's so rad.

Red Hats infecting every aspect of the culture

Only this morning, while we were sorting out old stereo equipment and throwing away cassette tapes, I was talking about the brilliance of Melissa Manchester's first two albums. They were never put on CD, but I still have the tapes of both "Bright Eyes" and "Home To Myself." In later albums, the extremely gifted Manchester left her creative lyricism at the door and went for pop fame instead, grinding out such cringe-worthy singles as "Don't Cry Out Loud" and "You Should Hear How She Talks About You."

I never forgave her for that, but now I find she has committed an even greater art crime: She has written songs for Hats! the musical. Yes, the dreaded Red Hat Society now has its own musical comedy. Apparently, politics wasn't enough--now these women have to become involved in theatre. And the once-great Melissa Manchester now finds herself in the company of other revered songwriters like...Kathie Lee Gifford. Even Gretchen Cryer has signed on for this project; somebody help me.

Women over 50 who want to feel good about themselves would do well to read some Gloria Steinem essays, get down with Eve Ensler, lobby their Congresspeople on behalf of women's health and economic issues, and go out and kick some patriarchal ass.

Outrageous idiot woman of the day

She's Laura Sessions Step, and Echidne of the Snakes has her number. Step has written a book, Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both. And if you don't already have a big hint, from the title, what is wrong with this book, perhaps you shouldn't be reading a feminist blog.

You've probably guessed it, though: Step's book, like all such books and articles, is aimed at women who hook up, women who aren't "training" for commitment, women who like casual sexual encounters. Because everyone knows--if girls and women don't have sex and therefore learn to commit (if you can follow that reasoning, by the way, you are as insane as Step), all male-female couples will enjoy depth and intimacy forever.

Women ski jumpers refuse to back down

Ken has a post up at After Atalanta that pleases me. Women ski jumpers, sick and tired of being told by the International Olympic Committee that their bodies are too fragile to compete in their sport at the Olympics, have filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The HRC has no jurisdiction over the IOC, sure, but I am for anything that keeps the issue out in the open and forces the IOC to deal with its own ridiculous notion about women competing.

The IOC has long held the notion that ski jumping--actually, the landing--puts too much pressure on women's bones. As Ken correctly points out, why are they allowing gymnastics and figure skating?

Telling women they are too fragile to compete is nothing new, however. There were no women's distance races at the Olympics until the 1980s because the IOC thought women's bodies were too fragile for distance racing. This was kind of peculiar, given that women were doing distance racing all over the world, and holding up just fine, thank you.

Of course, at one point in the first half of the 20th Century, the IOC considered doing away with all women's events. And in ancient Greece, women not only were not allowed to compete, but if they watched the games, they were subject to execution.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Someone needs to pick me up off the floor

I think I may have fainted when I read David Brooks' column, "No Apology Needed," in which he deconstructs the "When is Sen. Clinton going to apologize for her war vote?" brouhaha. Says Brooks:

I mean, have the people calling for her apology actually read the speeches she delivered before the war? Have they read her remarks during the war resolution debate, when she specifically rejected a pre-emptive, unilateral attack on Saddam? Did they read the passages in which she called for a longer U.N. inspections regime and declared, “I believe international support and legitimacy are crucial"?

Brooks makes the case that Clinton has been totally consistent in her approach to Iraq from the first vote through her announcement that she is a presidential candidate, and that she argued for diplomatic leverage both publicly and behind the scenes. He says that, having reviewed all of Clinton's speeches and statements, he no longer regards her explanation as "a transparent political dodge," but as an accuate reflection of where she has always stood on the subject of Iraq.

Philip Perry--making sure our chemical facilities have no security

Philip Perry, a former member of the powerful Latham and Watkins law firm in Washington, DC, left the law firm in 2000 to become part of the transition team of his father-in-law, Dick Cheney. He then became the third-highest ranking official in John Ashcroft's Justice Department before serving as General Counsel to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Friday cat blogging--fight club edition

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Edwards gets headlines, while Romney gets a pass

Regardless of how you feel about John Edwards' hiring of two "controversial" bloggers, his scolding of them, and their eventual resignation, the fact is that while the Edwards debacle got all kinds of media attention, a similar disaster, brewing among Republicans, got none. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romeny, identified in this blog as a pandering wonder, has problems of his own.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Here it is, at last

A thorough breakdown of the ridiculous mythology surrounding Sen. Clinton, from Media Matters for America.

Olbermann does it again

On the same evening that he announced his contract had been extended by MSNBC, Keith Olbermann let us know yet again that he thinks Britney Spears is a slut. Because maybe she has sex. The remark was a reference to her underwear, and was the usual Olbermann "witty" piece of sexism. He never makes these jokes about male rock musicians or Colin Farrell. Only about women. And here's the thing--what if Spears is having a lot of sex? So what? Oh, wait...I forgot...she's a woman, so it's not allowed.

One woman's kingmaker is another woman's scumbag

According to MSNBC, the three "kingmakers"--Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Pat Robertson--have about made up their minds which Republican presidential candidate to support. The decisions have come about against a backdrop of turf-fighting, of course.

Falwell appears to be going with Sen. John McCain, the vicious, right-wing panderer and hypocrite from Arizona. According to MSNBC, that alone eliminates McCain as Robertson's favorite, since Robertson would not be caught dead supporting Falwell's candidate. Robertson is leaning toward panderer and hypocrite Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.

That leaves child- and dog-beater James Dobson, who hasn't made a decision, but who is said to favor former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister Mike Huckabee.

This leaves former New York mayor and enemy of civil liberties Rudy Giuliani out in the cold, but perhaps William Donohue can endorse him.

Though we probably won't see the kind of worship we saw when fundamentalist Christians organized their worship of the lying, murdering, democracy-destroying George W. Bush, I think we will still see an organized movement behind whoever can demonstrate the most hate against gays and women. The up-front marketing of bigotry began with Reagan, and was brought into full fruition by W. Bush (and when I say that, I mean Dick Cheney, of course). The next Republican candidate has permission to publicly bash people of color, women and members of the LGBT community, as part of his campaign.

Riddles of feminism that keep me awake at night

  • How any woman can claim to be a "feminist' but reject radical feminism
  • How many radical feminists refuse to embrace the fight against exploitation and torture of non-humans, and--in fact--participate in both on a daily basis
  • How supposedly progressive talking heads, professors and others can discuss "the feminists" as though a call for social, political and economic equality for women were part of a cult involving spaceships and anal probes done by aliens
  • How few well-known in-your-face feminists there are in the U.S. today
  • How shamefully the daughters of the Second Wave have, as a group, conducted themselves

Those Tennessee Guerilla Women are cooking

With a Happy Birthday Susan B. Anthony post, and a post about why Elizabeth Cady Stanton could not have worked on the John Edwards campaign (just imagine the nasty things Elizabeth Edwards could have said about her).

Why pro athletes need to come out

Tim Hardaway was either sexually abused by a man when he was little, or he is gay and a half--or both. Trust me. Poor thing--I can't begin to imagine how many gay people have touched him on the court and in the locker room.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Twisters create emergency in New Orleans, Bush responds guessed it--nothing

A tornado system with twisters up to 135 miles per hour ripped through three major New Orleans neighborhoods early Tuesday morning, killing one person, injuring a few dozen, and doing what is estimated to be $20 million worth of damage. Several houses that had been rebuilt or almost rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina were torn apart, as were many FEMA trailers. Schools were closed, highways were shut down, piles of rubble were everywhere, trees were uprooted, and thousands of people were left without electricity.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

A valentine

The floribunda rose, 'Valentine', which grows in an urn in our garden. After you have enjoyed 'Valentine', you are invited to read Diana Souza's "Remedy for Love" in her beautiful blog, View from a Canary Perch.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Second blogger resigns from Edwards campaign

Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister has joined Pandagon blogger Amanda Marcotte in resigning from the John Edwards presidential campaign. McEwan, in her announcement, makes it clear that she was not forced out by the candidate, the campaign staff, right-wing bloggers, or even the media, but by the vicious and threatening behavior of individuals who opposed her opinions.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Christians respond to Amanda

Just in case you're a wee bit out of touch with the obscene misogyny inherent among many "religious" people who do not live in Muslim countries, there's a fine sampling of it at Pandagon. Take a look at what many Christian soldiers had to say to Amanda because she told the truth about the Catholic church.

(The site is down quite a bit, so if you can't see anything, try later--and bring a vomit bag.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Female athletes as sex objects--business as usual

Sheila G. Miller of the Herald News, has written a thoughtful article about the trap of being a female athlete who needs to be marketed as "sexy" or "pretty" rather than as just a good athlete. Female athletes receive only 6% of television sports coverage and 8% of print coverage, so there is a lot of pressure to get noticed in other ways in order to get endorsements and ad campaigns and in order for sports leagues to sell tickets.

But it isn't just about needing to get noticed. Female athletes still have to prove that they are "feminine," and that pressure is probably even greater than the pressure to get noticed so they can make money for themselves and their sports.

Maria Sharapova, who has exploited the "sexy girl" market better than any other sportswoman in recent years, was asked a couple of years ago whether the WTA was selling sex. "I don't care what they're selling," she replied. Sharapova, with her stylish looks and relative sophistication, doesn't have to care. And she has a right to make money any way she wants to, but every time she pulls a camera out of the leg of her shorts and tells us to "make every shot a Power Shot," she makes it that much harder for female athletes to be taken seriously.

I do realize that some famous male athletes have been featured in underwear campaigns, but they didn't need to show their bodies to get respect--they were already famous. And the millions of Web searches that are done about them are not about nudity or briefs, but about athletic achievement.

Arkansas House rejects Thomas Paine

A lot of conservative spokespeople like to say that America's founders were Christian, when, in fact, most of them were not. Members of the Arkansas state House of Representatives now know that Thomas Paine was not a Christian: A proposal to commemorate January 29 as "Thomas Paine Day" failed because of concerns about Paine's criticism of Christianity.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Now even Leonard Pitts is buying James Dobson's lies

Doesn't anyone do a background check anymore? "30 years of social science evidence" pulled straight from Dobson's ass.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The indoor winter garden

'Lady Derby' in a blue forcing vase

A closer look at 'Lady Derby'

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday cat blogging--whirl of colors edition

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Note to Ilene Chaiken: Fire the writers

The last two episodes of The L Word might just as well have been called "Kill Jenny" and "Kill Alice For Good Measure, " but since all episode titles have to begin with the letter "L," perhaps "Let's Destroy Jenny" and "Let's destroy Alice, Too" would be more appropriate.

Alice has always been a mere breath away from obnoxious, but she had enough smart and cute going on to make us like her. No more. Now she is hideously intrusive, inappropriate, crude, and aggravating. When I see her, I want to stuff a sock in her mouth.

As I pointed it out in another post, Alice had become bisexual in name only, and sure enough--in the season opener--she said she had "come to my senses" and now considers herself a lesbian. That's okay, but there was no reason to change everything else about her.

What the writers have done to Alice pales, however, compared with what they have done to Jenny. Jenny has always been edgy--very edgy--a troubled young woman with no clear sense of self, sexually or otherwise, who is filled with anger. But Jenny was growing (too fast, when you consider that six months of psychotherapy wiped out all of her severe problems--just like that), and now, in this new season, she has regressed to a point that she no longer resembles any Jenny we have seen.

Jenny would not viciously attack Tina for being in a relationship with a man. Jenny would know the definition of the word "political." Jenny would not pull a modified Bill Frist with a pound dog. I hate this Jenny, and I really liked the old one.

One of the good things about this season is the addition of Cybill Shepherd to the cast, and an even better thing is the addition of Marlee Matlin, whose character Jodi is totally charming. My jury is stil out on the new character Papi, but so far, okay.

It is hard for me, as both a viewer and a writer, to imagine what is going on in the minds of this show's writers. Last season, they made Bette and Tina suddenly stupid, and this season, they have made Jenny and Alice people with whom I would find it painful to have even a cup of coffee.

Quote of the week

"For some reason, the military seems more afraid of gay people than they are against terrorists, but they're very brave with the terrorists. If the terrorists ever got a hold of this information, they'd get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad."

Guantanamo Bay investigator fails to interview alleged victims, files his report

Col. Richard Bassett, the Army officers assigned to investigate possible abuse at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, has concluded that there is no evidence that guards mistreated the prisoners. In the course of his investigation, Bassett failed to interview any of the alleged victims.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Another look at the anti-Bush protest arrests at the 2004 convention in New York

James Ridgeway, writing for MoJo Blog, looks at the evidence, and the planning that went into jailing and arresting protesters smells of White House involvement. But even if there was none, what happened was unthinkable.

Okay, here I am, and I WILL "malign" your faith

Only it is hard to "malign" something that is so inherently harmful to begin with.

First, here is the message from John Edwards regarding the bloggers about whom I wrote yesterday:

The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte’s and Melissa McEwan’s posts personally offended me. It’s not how I talk to people, and it’s not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it’s intended as satire, humor, or anything else. But I also believe in giving everyone a fair shake. I’ve talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone’s faith, and I take them at their word. We’re beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can’t let it be hijacked. It will take discipline, focus, and courage to build the America we believe in.

Both bloggers made it clear that they write political satire and political news and there job was not to malign anyone's faith.

As an outsider who does not belong to either major corporate-controlled party (and who sometimes has trouble telling them apart), I an not personally concerned with anyone's campaign, so I am happy to say that the Catholic Church represents a long history of rampant social control, accomplished by such means as horrific torture, mass killing, Nazi protection, child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, lying, covering up, telling Third World women that condoms will not prevent AIDS, denying condoms to women and girls who are at risk for getting AIDS, making people feel ashamed of their sexuality, and forcing girls and women to have children they do not want and cannot feed.

Throughout history, the focus of the church's social control has changed, with one exception: the controlling of females is a goal that has been sustained for centuries. I realize there are women in the church who are trying to change things, but it is painfully obvious that they haven't had much success.

Catholic League president William Donohue refers to Marcotte and McEwan as "vulgar, trash-talking bigots." Pull the 20-foot beam out of your own blind eye, you misogynistic, homophobic hypocrite.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What happens to one-slam wonders?

This evening, I read a series of comments about whether it was right to induct Gabriela Sabatini into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and whether Kim Clijsters--if she doesn't win another Slam before retiring at the end of this year--should be inducted. The general results of the discussion were:

1. Sabatini should not have been inducted.

2. It was right to induct Sabatini because: a. she would have won more Slams if she hadn't been playing in the error of dominating tennis geniuses Steffi Graf and Monica Seles, b. she brought much more to tennis than just Slam competition, including c. her glamor and sex appeal.

3. Clijsters should not be inducted unless she hurries up and wins another Slam because, unlike Sabatini, she has not brought much else to the world of tennis.

Clijsters has won 34 singles titles and 11 doubles titles, including two Slam titles. Sabatini won 27 singles titles and 14 doubles titles, including one Slam title. Clijsters was a finalist in 4 Grand Slam events; Sabatini was a finalist in 2 Slam events, and she also won a silver medal at the Olympics. Clijsters has been an active Fed Cup team member, and--like Sabatini--won the WTA Year-End Championships twice. Clijsters, unlike Sabatini, has been ranked number one in the world.

Looks about even to me. Both are properly called under-achievers. Sabatini retired suddenly at age 26, and Clijsters is retiring (she'll be 24) long before her fans want her to.

On to glamor and sex appeal, but first let me first address the obvious sexism inherent in this consideration. To even suggest that a woman should or should not be inducted into the Hall of Fame on the basis of "glamor" is deeply offensive. In this case, it is also not fact-based. Sabatini is very glamorous now, but when she was on the tour, she was not. She did, however, have one of the most graceful and beautiful games of anyone I can recall. Clijsters, for her part, astounds fans with her athleticism, and especially with the Clijsters splits.

I personally think that a lot more should be considered than just Slam wins in the decision to induct someone into the Hall of Fame. Yes, there should be at least one Slam victory, but there are tour titles, Fed Cup, the Year-End Championships, the Olympics, and the consistency of a high ranking to be factored in.

The language of rape

Today, on a message board, someone asked if a particular male celebrity "took" a female celebrity's virginity. I suppose that is still a common term. A woman's virginity (or any other part of her) is not something for a man to "take"--it is hers to do with as she pleases. To say that a man or boy "takes" it is to endorse the language--and the concept--of rape.

Brides still say that their fathers "give them away." This phrase refers to the possession of a woman or girl by one male in order to pass her on to another male. It, too, is the language of rape.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I consider language the most important transaction we have. As long as we continue to talk about men and boys' "taking" a woman's or girl's virginity or about men "giving away" their daughters, we are endorsing rape. rape

Reagan on "diversity"

There is no way I could possibly hate Ronald Reagan more than I already do. Reading this speech excerpt, provided by Lawyers, Guns and Money (via The Daily Blatt) reminds me yet again of what a vile, racist, piece of scum he was.

The Edwards campaign fills my heart with confidence

As I have already written, I cannot seriously consider John Edwards as a presidential candidate because his last ACLU rating was only 60% (speeches are nice, but that pesky record always speaks volumes).

Actually, I would not consider any white male as a candidate if he chooses a white male running mate but that is another story altogether.

The Edwards campaign, indeed, has been one big bungle after another.

First, there was Elizabeth Edwards' unbelievably nasty and assinine remarks about John Kerry and Teresa Heinz. She isn't running for office, I realize, but she is part of the campaign, and someone should have told her to keep her judgmental vitriol to herself. Oh, and don't forget...Elizabeth is also "more joyful" than Sen. Clinton; she had to apologize for that one, too.

Then there was Edwards' campaign kickoff in New Orleans. He did a big photo op at the damaged house of a Katrina victim...only no from the campaign bothered to tell the homeowner that a presidential candidacy announcement was going to be made from her yard.

And now there is the Amanda Marcotte/Melissa McEwan situation. The bloggers for Pandagon and Shakepeare's Sister, whom Edwards hired for his campaign, have been attacked by the right wing for everything from being anti-Catholic to using crude language (oh, my). The word is that Edwards has fired them. The other word is that he may re-hire them. As I write this, there is probably even another word I haven't yet heard.

Well, let's lay it out. If Edwards hired Marcotte and McEwan without reading their blogs, then he is, in a word, stupid. These bloggers are outspoken liberals and outspoken feminists (I regret that these two categories are not necessarily one and the same). They write what they think and let the chips fall where they may. They call out the hypocrites, bigots, liars, misogynists, fascists, and other assorted right-wing freaks and those who sail with them. If Edwards didn't know that, you have to wonder how he makes his other decisions.

On the other hand, if he did read their blogs, then he would have to know--within about the first two minutes of reading--that Marcotte's and McEwan's writing would be severely criticized by the fake-patriot, woman-and-gay hating right wing crowd. Which means he made a decision to hire them anyway, which means he later made a decision not to stand by them.

However you slice it, it's an unappetizing pie, this Edwards campaign.

Why I loathe Joe Biden

Yesterday I noted that some feminists seem to have forgotten Ralph Nader's 2000 trashing of the women's movement. So--before things get out of hand--I beg you to please not forget who Joe Biden is: the man who presided over the soul-murder of Professor Anita Hill. He has never even bothered to apologize, though I imagine any apology would have been a fake one.

The indoor winter garden

'L'Innocence' opens in another forcing vase

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Here's hoping the Democrats pass on this suggestion

Mike Lyon calls Andrew Jackson the "patriarch of our party," and says we need another Old Hickory in the White House.

Well, Jackson is dead, and--alas for Trent Lott--so is Strom Thurmond. But even Thurmond's racism couldn't compare with Jackson's. He not only worked tirelessly to remove Native Americans from their land and was the architect of what eventually became the Trail of Tears--he also sold slaves.

If Chris Rock says it, it's funny; if Sarah Silverman says it, it's tasteless

A lot has been written about how women are perceived to be either "not funny" or "not as funny as men." Now that there are a number of respected women comics, that paradigm has changed somewhat in that women can be funny as long as their humor is not aggressive. Ellen DeGeneres, for example, is generally considered funny by anyone who is not a hopeless homophobe, partly because her humor is not at all aggressive (this is not a criticism, by the way--I think DeGeneres is hilarious). Margaret Cho is another story: She says bad words, and she talks about sex in great (and hysterically funny) detail. She not only makes people uncomfortable--she is a woman, she is Asian-American, and she is a member of the LGBT community, to boot.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

How quickly feminists forget about Ralph Nader

On another blog, there is a discussion of Ralph Nader's possible intention to run for president again if Clinton is the Democratic nominee. This idea appeals to a lot of people, many of them feminists. Here's a quick reminder of Nader's 2000 stands:

1. He assured American women that no one would try to over turn Roe v. Wade; therefore, it was not an issue. He was furious when Gloria Steinem supported Al Gore, but she did so largely because Gore promised to support choice, rather than pretend it wasn't an issue.

2. When asked about gay marriage, his reply was "I don't deal with gonadal politics."

3. He also told us all to "stop talking about the patriarchy."

He toned it down in 2004, but it was too late for me. Nader has been treated unfairly by the election establishment, and I defend his right to have a national platform, but as a feminist and a supporter of LGBT rights, I find him unacceptable, and wish the Green Party had never had anything to do with him. Nader represents everthing I believe in, on paper, but his personal attitudes give him away.

The indoor winter garden

'L'Innocence', an antique hyacinth (1873), rests in a frosted glass forcing vase in my home office.

'Lady Derby', another antique (1875), rooted in a reproduction Belgian-style handblown glass forcing vase. These vases were popular from the 1830s into the 1900s.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Hipness stops where gender issues start

I like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. The show that the Hollywood establishment hates is fast and funny, with some wonderful characters and fine writing. Those characters are portrayed as very hip, too, but in tonight's episode, we found out just how hip they really are. Matthews and Harriet (played by the sublime Sarah Paulson) can't shake each other off, even though they broke up some time ago. And it turns out the core conflict is that...he hasn't proposed to her. Very hip and progressive, yes?

Men are from Mars, but only if they're straight

Today, AmericaBlog reported on the offensive SuperBowl commercial that aired yesterday. In it, two men, nibbling from both ends of a Snickers bar, wind up accidentally kissing, and then have to do something "manly" to neutralize the incident. Three alternate endings to the commercial were posted on a special Snickers website created by Mars, Inc. Also posted was a video of Bears and Colts team members reacting to the commercial, saying things like "That ain't right" and making faces of disgust.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

Americans prefer stupid, criminal soldiers to gay soldiers

Writing in the MoJo Blog, Elizabeth Gettleman reports that a new Harris Poll shows that nearly half of Americans--45%-- do not want gay citizens serving as "openly gay" people in the military. 19% said that gay soldiers could serve if they kept their sexual orientation a secret, and 18% said they should not be allowed to serve at all.

Our military is unable to conduct proper intelligence because, in its wisdom, it forgot to hire people who could translate Arabic languages, and most of the ones it did hire turned out to be gay and were tossed out of the service. So much for the "war on terror."

Our military has also lowered the bar considerably in its recruitment of soldiers, now permitting drunk drivers, drug abusers, neo-Nazis, and those who have committed aggravated assault, robbery, vehicular manslaughter, receiving stolen property, and--wait for it--making terrorist threats. So much for soldiers' personal safety.

In addition, 40% of the soldiers recruited by the the U.S. military, as of last summer, scored in the bottom half of the armed forces' aptitude tests. So much for the safety of soldiers again.

So, to review...druggies, thieves, thugs, skinheads, drunks, and stupid people--fine. Gays--not fine. What a country.

Feminist songs

I've been thinking about how few mainstream feminist songs there are. My favorite is probably Christina Aguilera's "Can't Hold Us Down" (despite the inclusion of Li'l Kim) because the lyrics are so powerful and to the point. I also really like Madonna's "What It Feels Like For a Girl." Others that come to mind are No Doubt's "Just a Girl," Ani DiFranco's "Not a Pretty Girl," and maybe the best of all--John Lennon's "Woman Is the Nigger of the World."

What are your favorites?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"Floodwall" now on display in New York

Jana Napoli's Katrina installation, "Floodwall," is now on exhibit at the World Financial Center in New York. Napoli created "Floodwall" from dresser drawers that floated out of New Orleans houses or were discarded after the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina. The artist collected more than 600 drawers, and 300 of them are arranged in three vertical rows along a 250-foot platform that spans the length of the Liberty Street Bridge.

The exhibition, which opened January 4, ends on February 9.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

More poetry

A pantoum and a sonnet, in the new issue of Slow Trains.

Many women do not trust the health care industry

Oh, what a big surprise.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A lesson in sportsmanship

The Elstonville Sportsmen's Association (whose name is misspelled on its logo, but hey--no surprise) believes that its members did not commit cruelty when they staked live turkeys to bales of straw and used them as targets in a bow and arrow contest. One wonders what these sportsmen would consider cruelty.

The association is fighting charges of eight counts of cruelty to animals, which one of its members called "propaganda." Since we all know that justice is beyond blind when it comes to the subject of animal cruelty, a letter or fax to the prosecutor would help.

Friday cat blogging--sleepytime edition

Roxie and Velma spend most winter nights and mornings in their bed

Tarzan likes to sleep close to a friend

Ziggy Stardust sleeps in his favorite chair

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Abused women have higher health care costs and more health care visits

A new study shows that women who experience spouse or partner abuse have much higher health care costs and utilize more health care services than women who have no history of such violence. Years after abuse stops, these women continue to use the health care system more and to incur higher costs.

(Continue reading at MoJo Blog)

First we take their homes, then we punish them for finding new ones

Washing baby terns off of your barges with a pressure hose is not only unspeakably cruel, it creates an environmental problem. May the punishment be much more than I suspect it will be.

The cowards of Congress

As you may know, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was passed on a voice vote so that your representatives in government would not be forced to go on record in favor of animal torture and citizen abuse. For the record, only one person spoke against the AETA--Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

China and the Olympic spirit

You may have heard that the Chinese government, in an attempt to curb rabies and clean up Beijing for the 2008 Olympics, has issued a one-dog-per-family rule, and that one dog cannot be mid- or large-size. So far, the government has rounded up 50,000 dogs, most of them people's pets, and beaten them to death, often in front of their people.

Can anyone say "boycott"?

Ah, yes...The New York Times

I could have guessed that the Times would place a story about sports and and about gender in the "Home and Living" section. This newspaper has become so dreary.

Harry Reid--guarding your civil liberties

I've been engaged in a discussion at another blog about the candidacy of John Edwards, and my concern that his last ACLU rating was 60%, which, for me, amounts to "no one I would ever vote for." In looking at the most recent ACLU ratings, I discovered that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's ACLU rating has actually gone up--to 44% (from 40%).

That's right. The Senate leader of the Democratic Party, more times than not, votes against protecting your civil liberties. Congratulations, Democrats.

"Not racist" quote of the week

"You got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy...I mean, that's a storybook, man."
Sen. Joseph Biden on Sen. Barack Obama