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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

That is what the right would have you believe of Al Gore's speech to However, the reality is that their critiques are the ones that have meaning problems. Daily Howler has great examples. A criticism of Gore's sound and fury:

He went on and on. He talked–he called for the immediate resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, other people as well. So do you think that that kind of rant–and he got a little more animated as he went along, that part was kind of calm–does it make an impact?

There was alot of sound and fury when Al Gore called for the resignation of Rumsfeld and Rice. However, was it signifying nothing? Was he really going "on and on" about something unimportant?
Actually, it turns out that what was going "on and on" was the unprovoked violence and torture against Iraqi prisoners. In this case, such torture signified nothing; most prisoners were innocent of anything and even those held on actual criminal charges weren't great sources of genuine intelligence.
You know what sound and fury signifies nothing? The sound and fury surrounding Al Gore's speech, the repeated lies about his mental health and his political associations. You know what sound and fury signifies nothing? Claiming that a raised voice during a political speech is somehow completely unacceptable, which is nonsensical in itself but also grossly hypocritical coming from the side that has Limbaugh and Savage spewing loud-mouthed rants about how Islam is the religiou of sub-humans.
Gore raised his voice and joined in a crowd cheering with high emotion, duh. Of course emotions are high. We are watching our beloved home, the land of the free and the home of the brave, succumb to the will of cowards who would squash dissent and free speech while sending other people's children to fight the wars they start. Free? No, of course not, not when you can't even protest effectively. Brave? Ol' Boil Butt Limbaugh and the rest of the draft dodgers are asking people to fight their battles for them and there's no way around that.
Why shouldn't we be angry? Why do right wingers use the whole "angry" argument against liberals? Does it work? Do we believe that anger is wrong for some reason?
Al Gore should be mad. He's being incredibly gracious, all things considered. But unless we learn to embrace the burning feeling of anger, we will continue to roll over and let the right take over. Anger gives strength. We might need that. As I pointed out earlier, fascists are threatening to take over our country. If we have to go underground and resist, then anger will be our best weapon.

All y'all

Matthew Yglesias is on vacation and is surprised to find out that "y'all" is actually used, and not just a stereotype imposed on Southerners. The discussion in the comments is funny.
I am continually amazed by otherwise intelligent people who make snap judgements on people based on their dialects and/or voices. I have been on the receiving end of many of such judgements, since I have a high-pitched, girly voice that is on the softer end of Texan accents and my speech is littered with things like "y'all" and "like". For instance, a common utterance might be, "Like, y'all need to quit being like 'fuck all y'all' to each other and like, just relax and shit."
Luckily, many of Yglesias's readers know that dialectal differences are no indication of intelligence and in fact argue for the clarity in Southernisms like "y'all".
I've been teased by Yankees and the like for saying "y'all", which is like, the best opening ever for just fucking somebody's world by suddenly turning on the Super Erudite Mouse and explaining, "Actually, y'all is a perfectly logical dialectal invention that compensates for the loss of the second person plural in English. It used to be that the singular address was 'thou' in the subject and 'thee' in the object and 'thy' in the possessive, while 'you' was used as both subject and object while 'your' was the possessive. However, the singular was dropped and the plural address was generalized to both the singular and the plural, causing much confusion. Southerners just subtly correct the situation by using the 'you' address only in the singular and creating the word 'y'all' as a plural address, both object and subject. For the plural possessive, of course, one would simply say 'y'all's', as in 'Y'all need to move y'all's shit before Bubba gets mad. Y'all know how a bunch of crap clutterin' his patio pisses him off.'"
After that, it's hard to act like Yankees have a natural-born superior intelligence.
I found Ken's comments in the comment box to be interesting, since he tries to tackle the linguistically complex use of the phrase "All y'all".

Y'all generally refers to a group within sight of a speaker, but usually that group is small and manageable. For sufficiently large groups, there are multiple y'alls available, such as y'all by the beer, y'all Tide/Tech/Gator fans, etc. The supergroup of this is referred to as all y'all.

Also, all y'all can refer to people not present. Witness "fuck all y'all". This slur is not just directed at the people gestured at, but also at their close friends, their maternal relations, their pets, and various other people, real or imagined, in need of fuckery.

He's making it too complicated. If you understand that Southerners roughly understand that "you" and "y'all" are the modern equivalents of "thou" and "you" in Shakespeare's time, then "all y'all" is easy enough to understand. It's used whenever one might say "all you" or "all your". It has less to do with who is there and who isn't and more to do with just adding emphasis to the statement at hand. Yes, it usually is a way to address a group larger than the supposed audience at hand, but it's not usually a racial or familial address.
For instance, the expression "Well, fuck all y'all" tends to come out only when somebody feels specifically pissed at one person but feels that all his fellows are somehow to blame. Say he pinches you and you turn around and say, "Fuck you," and his friends laugh. At this point, you say, "Fuck all y'all!" It's an emphasis phrase. If it seems complex, remember it's the equivalent of a non-Southerner saying, "Well, fuck all of you!" See? It's simple.
I used to be ashamed of having a Southern accent but in retrospect I realize I probably charmed more men than I would have otherwise by having a lilting Texas accent. And god knows I wouldn't have any type of wit if I wasn't trained to speak in a way peculiar to Texas women--half sarcasm, half good-natured ribbing. So yeah, our way of speaking is a good thing, and trashing on a dialect is ignorant and not cute.

Match-making is profiled by CNN here. There's alot of debate back and forth on the importance of compatible personalities and whether or not the test actually measures compatibility. What I find interesting is that, as is typical, outside factors and circumstances are not considered part of the equation of whether or not marriage works. They are buying into one of the most overwhelming modern myths, that marriage is about love, and the only debate is whether or not love is about compatibility or something else.
On one level, of course marriage is about love and I wouldn't want to take that away from anybody. We all deserve a shot at trying to find happiness with someone we love, and yes, even gays deserve that. And of course compatibility is an issue, though compatibility isn't as simple as having alot of traits in common. This article mentions that they don't match dominant people with wallflowers, but in fact that may be a more compatible match than two wallflowers or two domineering types. In my experience, alot of happy couples are formed when people find that they have complementary personalities. Two aggressive people might butt heads, but an aggressive and a tolerant person might complement and improve each other.
But my main issue is that we are becoming increasingly myopic on the subject of marriage in this country, seeing it strictly as a meeting of two personalities and if they can't make it work, we chalk it up to personal failing. Either you ruined a good marriage or you failed to make a good marriage. End of story.
But the reality is that the outside world probably puts more stress on marriages than any other factor. Certain groups have higher divorce rates than others--for instance, I remember reading somewhere that Christian fundamentalists have higher divorce rates than non-religious people or members of moderate churches. Why would that be? In our myopic worldview, we assume that it's a correlation, that people in fundie churches have flawed personalities and they bring that to their marriages. I find that unlikely. I find it more likely that the combination of economic and social factors is the reason.
It might be wise to use a hypothetical. Let's say we take two couples that have the same psychological make-up--in both couples, we have people who both scored high as "dominant" and should therefore be compatible. However, Couple #1 belongs to a Southern Baptist church and is working class. Both of them only graduated high school. Couple #2 is atheistic, college-educated and upper middle class.
You can see where this is going. Couple #1 has less money than Couple #2, and so Couple #1 is more likely to conflict about money issues. In Couple #2, the wife demands that her husband accept and respect her career and he makes an effort to do so, because their social circle is feminist and he values that and is shamed when he tries to control his wife. In Couple #1, the wife has a dominant personality and wants to go out into the world, but she is shamed into staying at home. She is to be submissive to her husband, but it's hard because he says alot of things she regards as foolish, but when she gives into her personality and disagrees, he, with the full authority of their social circle, tells her to step off and learn to respect his authority as the man. And resentment grows.
If marital troubles arise, Couple #2 will go to a marriage counselor who will walk them through their situation. Couple #1 will go to their preacher, who may do the same, but also may just tell them to try harder to fit their gender roles as husband and wife. But if the problem is that the wife's gender role is ruining her life, how good is that advice?
Both couples have a chance of breaking up, but Couple #1 is in more trouble. It has nothing to do with the personalities of the people in the marriages, but everything to do with their circumstances. The high divorce rate nowadays has nothing to do with people making incompatible marriages at a higher rate than they used to; if anything, people know their partners better than older generations did before they commit. If we want the divorce rate to go down, we have to start by addressing the economic and social issues that create strife. That won't eliminate divorce, but it would sure reduce it.

Holy crap

Jesus' General has a letter from the Santa Clarita Baptist Church that argues that war is a good thing, because it makes people more religious and stuff.
Between this and World O'Crap's post about Doug Giles's portrayal of the Garden of Eden that has absolutely nothing to do with the Bible's description of it and the events that happened there, I have to wonder if so-called Christians even read the Bible.
Unlike most fundie Christians, I've read the Bible. And that guy they supposedly follow, Jesus, was big on the anti-violence and the anti-war thing. Just to check, I occasionally ask the woman I share an office with, who actually spends alot of time reading the actual Bible what Jesus felt about war, etc. She says he was against it and that killing is a sin, period. In fact, it's apparently better to submit to death than kill another human being. Who knew? You'd think that Jesus's noble acceptance of his own death had relevance of something.
My guess is that these politically motivated Christian fundamentalists just look at coloring books with pictures of popular Bible stories in them and assume that the Bible says what they want to hear.

Red vs. blue and Atkins vs. carbs

On Hit and Run, they have a post regarding fat, diets, etc. But this part made me laugh out loud:

And while we're considering the topic, it may be time to realize that the red vs. blue state dichotomy is no longer a useful of talking about America (if it ever was). This story and this one suggest the third rail of American politics is rapidly becoming carb consumption.

No kidding. I am a member of that much despised minority--I don't eat meat. I just tell people that I'm a vegetarian to keep it simple, but I do eat fish, because I, like my cat, know that fish is just a separate and tastier category of food than boring ol' meat. Suffice it to say, I eat way less protein than your average American. And in an Atkins-crazed world, my diet has become an even bigger controversy than it was in the good ol' days when people used to just claim that I would die of anemia and claim that I was looking pale. Now they think I'm going to get fat. Which, as I point out repeatedly, is utter bullshit. There are vegetarians of all sizes and shapes, yes, but we do tend to live longer and be healthier in the long run. Regular bowel movements are a fun and exciting bonus.
Now there is the occasional fun of having someone look critically at a meal of mine and accuse me of "carb-loading", which I remind them is also known often as "fiber-loading". Don't let the Atkins assholes get to you if you like sandwiches with the bread on, people. When they start trying to make you feel like eating boring old carbs is a mortal sin, ask them point-blank when they last had a bowel movement. Sometimes I roll up my shirt a little to show the non-bloated belly to demonstrate what happens when you keep the track clean. Fun can be had all around.
Anyway, the Atkins diet seems to me to be another example of bloated American over-consumption. You know, like the Hummer, piling pounds of jewelry around your neck, disposable everything, sneakers that cost a couple hundred dollars, and yes, fast food in all its "size, not quality, matters" glory. It suits Americans to believe that they can only lose weight consuming only that food which does the most damage to our society and enviroment--meat, particularly beef and pork.
But in a way, the Atkins diet is an example of the red/blue divide that we all fear is growing. On the blue side, low consumption, concern for the enviroment and reading books like Fast Food Nation is causing people reconsider how their dietary choices have a larger effect. I myself chose vegetarianism, but many of my friends are going instead towards the organic meat option, which I whole-heartedly support as it is reviving the ranches around my adolescent home in West Texas.
On the red side, people are increasing their meat consumption in an effort to lose weight. But part of me also thinks it's because they are increasing their meat consumption as a symbolic gesture as well, defending their rights as Americans to consume the hell out of everything. When Eric Schlosser came to UT to talk, the College Republicans stood outside and protested by passing out fast food coupons. It was a marvel to behold how corporate America has convinced a good number of people that loyalty to the corporate system is "freedom" so thoroughly that they go out and work for free for these corporations to make what they think is a principled point. And many people have told me that it's a man's right to have a hearty steak if he wants one.
It's difficult to argue with people who make these points. They really have the benefit of simplicity--"It's a man's right to have a steak." Implication: liberals would deny a man his one simple, beloved luxury that he has earned by working his ass off for the system. It's hard to counter that with the nuanced point that the modern factory farms are destroying the enviroment and people's lives and property values, that yes a good steak from an organic rancher is a fine thing, but that McDonald's hamburgers are causing all sorts of problems, that by reducing meat consumption and redirecting alot of the grain that went to feed animals to feeding people we could reduce human suffering and therefore make strides to peace, that nothing is more vital than stepping back and asking how our personal contributions to this culture can make an impact on the world at large. So I end up just glowering and saying that I would appreciate it if they could respect my personal choices, as if I'm the one who has something to apologize for.

Hiding from the truth

A gallery owner in San Francisco is getting harassed because she dared to show artwork that depicted the truth, that American soliders have been torturing Iraqis. Alas, a Blog has the story. Her property is not only under assault, but she has also been physically attacked for not respecting people's desire to hide the truth about torture from themselves:

After displaying a painting of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners, a San Francisco gallery owner bears a painful reminder of the nation's unresolved anguish over the incidents at Abu Ghraib -- a black eye and bloodied brow delivered by an unknown assailant who apparently objected to the art work.
The assault outside the Capobianco gallery in the city's North Beach district Thursday night was the worst, but only the latest in a string of verbal and physical attacks that have been directed at owner Lori Haigh since the painting, titled "Abuse," was installed there on May 16.
Last Wednesday, concerned for the safety of her two children, ages 14 and 4, who often accompanied her to work, Haigh decided to close the gallery indefinitely.

I try not to be one of those leftists who cries fascism at the slightest injury. But this is incredibly worrisome. That people feel justified in lying to themselves about the Iraqi war and justified in assaulting people who simply tell the truth is a big fat goosestep in fascism's direction. I mean, how else are we to describe hoardes of people motivated by extreme right-wing beliefs to squash even the hint of dissent with violence? If that doesn't convince you, let me remind you that the right wing message being broadcast across our country regarding this torture--that it's fine, necessary and even fun to torture Muslims (Limbaugh, etc.) and that since Muslims are sub-human animals, then torture is the only way to get through to them (San Francisco's own Michael Savage).
One of the reasons that fascism took hold in Germany is quite simple. The Nazis took a bunch of complex political issues, folded them up and buried them under a simple solution. The problem was not X and X and Y and Y and difficult and complex. No, the country of Germany was in trouble because the Jews were plotting against the superior Aryan Germans. Period. Simple! And if anyone has a problem with it, they can go to the chambers with the Jews.
I am really, really, really afraid that's where we're heading.

Anyway, like it or not, those of us who are resisting the direction this country's taking are going to have to educate ourselves on fascism, because it is a growing political attitude nowadays. While I find it rather inconcievable that fascism might overtake this country, there are many months until the election and many more vile things about this war that are going to come out and polarize people. In the meantime, Karl Rove is going to be upping the "hate" factor in the Bush campaign. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly and Rove & Bush gotta fan the flames of hate in order to scare people into voting for them. The realm of possibilities is open at this point.
David Neiwert is a good place to start getting educated and fast on American fascism.

More on Gore

The Sideshow has a round-up of really good links on Al Gore's speech.
You know, that speech was great and got all sorts of publicity and got me to thinking--it would be great, just fantastic, if they could find a way to get Bill Clinton to make a similiar speech in the early fall. Since Gore has a reputation as a bit of a stiff in the media, I think they were caught off-guard by the power in that speech. But they already know that Bill Clinton is a fabulous public speaker. The media would play the hell out of a speech by him, in part because it would be good, but also because it would be high drama to have an ex-President that arouses such passions in people to denounce BushCo.
Plus, Clinton always comes off as genuine and interesting and intelligent and articulate. It would be a great contrast to the Smirking Chimp.
It would be stealing Kerry's thunder a little bit, of course, but it would help him. It would get the left energized while sparing Kerry from going negative, which is the kiss of death for the challenging candidate. I hope the Democrats or even MoveOn is negotiating something with Clinton now.

We are all campaign contributors to BushCo

Wow, the press is actually beginning to attack Bush for using our tax dollars to fund his campaign. Since BushCo doesn't actually realize that the position of President is a duty, not just another form of leverage to increase campaign funds, I guess they may not even realize that it's just wrong to make us pay for his campaigns. And they know that they won't have to deal with the consequences of breaking the law.
In further news, weekend warriors are deluded in their political inclinations just as they are in their views of themselves as tough guys. In case there was any doubt, tough, rocking biker mama Nancy Sinatra headed up the parade.

Making good on the threat

I thought Communion was something Christians did to show solidarity as Christians despite personal differences and to bask in Jesus's love for all. Silly me. It's actually just a ritual to show that you're in the special Jesus Club, the one you can only get in if the priests decide they like you and your politics.
Gay activists were denied Communion today in Chicago. Now sometimes I'm hazy sometimes on everything that Jesus said about the ritual, but mostly I remember it was something about blood and flesh and how he's in all of us. I don't remember the part where he said that you should reject breaking bread and having wine with your fellow human beings because you disapprove of their sex lives. But maybe I missed something. If I'm not mistaken, though, he allowed two who would betray him to have Communion with him. I guess sucking cock is a worse sin than betraying Jesus, then. Who knew?

A wonderful rebuke to the haters

Via Atrios, a fantastic smackdown to the homophobes out there who snort and sniff and think that being born straight makes them superior somehow. This is what family values is about--valuing your family as it is, not creating a fictional "perfect" patriarchal family to make other people feel inferior to.

I'm tired of your foolish rhetoric about the "homosexual agenda" and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

Yep, the family values crowd values motherhood so much that they are going out of their way to ruin the lives of women who mother homosexual children. I like what she has to say about the retarded debate about where homosexuality comes from:

At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join. The fact is that if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won't get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don't know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn.

I agree with what Molly Ivins has pointed out about homosexuality. If you can step back from all the fear and moralizing and whatnot and just look at the facts, then it's no more surprising that a certain percentage of people are homosexual than that a certain percentage of people are left-handed. We don't wring our hands and debate endlessly if left-handedness is a lifestyle choice, an inborn tendency, genetic, or the result of some kind of childhood trauma. It just is so, and we can accomodate left-handed people without breaking a sweat.
But that wasn't always so. Not that long ago, the fact that left-handedness was a minority orientation was enough for people to brand it as evil, or at least a sign of mental weakness. Children were chastised and even struck for favoring their left hands. I've heard from some older left-handed people that their left hand was bound in school so that they couldn't use it. And then one day society just woke up and realized that we were persecuting a minority for no reason whatsoever, except that they were different. And now being left-handed is regarded with roughly the same amount of interest as being near-sighted or blue-eyed or something else rare-ish but not remarkable. We need to grow up and realize that homosexuality is no more remarkable than that.
Nowadays, we have left-handed scissors, desks, and even cars with the shifter on the left side. Accomodating left-handedness has not threatened right-handed people in any way. The existence of left-handed scissors didn't drive right-handed scissors out of existence. So why should gay marriage threaten straight marriages?
From now on when people tell me that gay people can be reformed, I am going to hand them a pair of scissors, the ordinary right-handed scissors and tell them to cut a shape into a piece of paper left-handedly. Odds are that they will manage to produce something that looks similar to say, a heart-shaped piece of paper, but it will be crooked and all wrong. And that's the essence of the closet. Being in the closet, or "reformed" or whatever doesn't make gay people straight; it just means that they are producing a bad imitation of heterosexuality.
She points out how arrogant one must be to think that homosexual kids won't "happen" to the self-righteous idiotic fundamentalists. Well out here in Baptist Country you see it all the time. Families torn apart when people discover that the hated homosexual isn't a foreigner, a godless atheist, an sophisticated and debauched urbanite, or a lurking pervert but is in fact their own sons and daughters. And rather than grow up and get over it, they fight and gnash and often lose their relationships with their own children. Or the children just never tell their own parents and the cloud of lies and denial in the room at family gatherings is so thick you could swim in it. Family values indeed.

The "Who's a Big Slut" contest

World O'Crap has a great post about the pile-on over Jessica Cutler, the infamous Washingonienne blogger. First Michelle Malkin and now Charlotte Allen of the IWF have both put forward the opinion that because Wonkette is friends with Cutler, that means that she must be a big ol' slut, too, because, you know, it's catching. Allen posts a picture of the two girls out drinking together and claims to be shocked, shocked I tell you, that a married woman like Ana Marie Cox, aka Wonkette, would venture outside of the house to hang out with her friends without her husband around. My god, she might as well just offer herself up to a gangbang. Married women should be at home knitting baby clothes, not out having friends and fun as if they were normal young people like everyone else. That's a husband-privelige, not a wife-privelige.
Really, I think All and Malkin are just jealous 'cause the most that they ever got for anal sex was a pat on the back and a kiss on the forehead, not a roll of hundred dollar bills.
But you know what I think is much more morally reprehensible than going out with friends and drinking even though you're married? That is even more morally reprehensible than accepting large cash gifts from older men you have sex with, unappealing as that is to me? And yes, even more morally reprehensible than actually enjoying sex even though you are a woman? More than all these things, I find it reprehensible when a man take a vow of fidelity, aka marriage, and then betrays the woman he supposedly loves by sneaking around and paying other women to have sex with him. But call me peculiar. It's clear that according to the "family values" crowd that they only people expected to actually behave morally are women.

Your cheating heart

The New York Post has a story to both simultaneously amuse and depress their readers. The reporter posted an ad on Craigslist saying she was looking for sex with married men and got 80 replies in a half-hour. She met with six of them and she describes the meetings. It's depressing how trite and typical their complaints are. Is there a cheater out there with the guts to say, "I am a cheating louse, my wife doesn't deserve to be cheated on this way, but hey, c'est la vie?"
No, they all stick to the traditional lie--my wife doesn't understand me so really it's her fault that I have to cheat. Jeez, guys, this is the 21st century. Can't we come up with a new excuse for the oldest betrayal?

Condoms give you cancer!

I'm kidding. They probably don't. But a team of German scientists have found that a carcinogenic substance is present in the majority of condoms that they tested. My guess is that follow-up studies will show that the cancer risk in condom use is small and certainly it's less of a risk to your health than the one you take on having sex without a condom.
But my guess is we'll be seeing this study again. How can the abstinence-only crowd resist it? I imagine they've been itching to tell kids that condoms cause cancer for a long, long time and now they have their chance. Long after the cancer risk of condoms is thoroughly discredited, it will be trotted out in abstinence-only classes, snuck onto government websites, repeated by Rush Limbaugh, and taught in churches. You know, like the "fact" that HIV passes through condoms or that abortions cause breast cancer.
Or maybe the anti-sex crowd will miss this one. We'll see.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Television history

I was watching Bravo earlier today and they had documentary about different groups and their evolving representation on TV. When I tuned in, one hour about women was beginning. After that was one hour about racial minorities (my guess from the title) and the last hour was about gays and lesbians. I wanted to watch all three, but I had an appointment, so I could only watch the one about women.
Well, I laughed out loud at least three times, which is more than most TV shows can do for me, so that was a good thing. I laughed when they showed a "I Love Lucy" clip where Lucy opens the oven and the bread, which apparently is like half yeast, bursts out and pins her to the wall. I laughed at a clip of Bea Arthur on "Maude", where her daughter suggests than an abortion is no scarier than going to the dentist and she says, "Oh, I'm really scared now." And I laughed at a "Sex and the City" clip that shows the foursome at a wedding drinking martinis, and the bride throws the bouquet at their feet. They all watch it fall and then one of them says, "Wanna 'nother drink?" or something like that and they all wander away.
That last joke cracked me up--I have actually hidden in the bathroom at weddings rather than be subjected to people nudging me and pressuring me into participating in the bouquet-throwing.
Anyway, I thought it was okay, considering they had to shove 50 years of women's roles into one hour of television. I got annoyed when they credited the media with dressing up feminism and making it palatable with "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" after showing a clip of women protesting the 1968 Miss America pagent. For fuck's sake, the only reason feminists had such a poor reputation as strident ball-busters was because that's how the media decided to portray them. Even in the brief clip they showed of the 1968 protest, you could see how the cameras were doing their best to focus only on women who were shouting or doing other unattractive things. But it was hard for them to do, even then, because no matter how tight the focus on a woman showing anger, you could see women cutting up and laughing in the back. No matter how hard they tried to keep conventionally attractive women offscreen, there they were in the background.
Anyway, I digress. There were good things for sure. I liked how they pointed out that while the amount of sexism on "Lucy" is amazing by modern standards, it was a weirdly subversive show in its own way. After all, we the audience love Lucy because we empathize with her desire to break free. At the end of the show, her "rightful" place in the home was supposedly affirmed, to placate the network standards. But in reality, the audience knew she would just try again next week. And they also loved the real-life Lucy, a woman with a successful career. My guess is that 50's audiences, like today's audiences, watched their programs with a a grain of salt, poo-poohing the tedious "Father Knows Best" type messages that conflicted with the reality of their own lives.
The part that I found most interesting was their take on the show "Dynasty", and the Alexis vs Crystal catfight. They had the writer Susan Douglas on, who articulated the nature of the catfight, but they cut her off before she could criticize it. I've read a couple of her books; my guess is that she next pointed out that real feminists didn't have any desire to engage in catfights with stay-at-home mothers, but in fact many of them were stay-at-home mothers and most of the rest fought and are still fighting for housewives to have more rights.
But what I thought was interesting is that the creators of the show seemed to be totally blindsided by the fact that Alexis quickly became the favorite character, as did the Joan Collins, who played her. They kind of chalked it up to a bit of villian-infatuation, but there is more to it than that. Again, they had Douglas on the show to point out that Alexis embodied alot of character traits women have but can't express, as did Erica Kane on "All My Children". Too bad they gave Douglas less time than a couple nimrod actresses, as she actually had interesting things to say.
But it was a good transistion to the show "Rosanne", which was wildly popular. And that's when I knew they were doing what alot of shows do when covering feminism, which is they admit that in the past feminists had a point but blah blah things are different now and women want less choices because their little brains just can't take having almost as many choices as men. Back to that in a sec....
Nearly everyone I know likes that show "Rosanne". Oh, many won't admit it, but they do. When I was in college, a couple friends of mine and I used to sit around and watch reruns of that show and laugh our asses off, and then we would watch "Golden Girls" and laugh our asses off at that, too. And those friends were guys, so it just goes to show that funny is funny if you'll give it a chance. Most of the segment was dedicated to tracing how a minority of people jumped all over Rosanne Barr, the person. They neglected to mention it didn't hurt her ratings at all.
Of course, the ended up defended "Ally McBeal", claiming that it was important for women to have characters that showed that working women aren't perfect, aren't heroes, and that it's natural to be torn between career ambitions and family ambitions. That would make sense if working women had been shown as superwomen heroes in the past, but they weren't. Or if there were a multitude of shows pointing out how hard it is for men to choose between career and family, or how hard it is for a successful man to get a good woman. I started watching "Ally McBeal" with my mom, but we both got tired of it pretty quickly. They would set up a character we liked and then they would tear her down and "show her a lesson" or whatever. Like we really liked the character played by Portia di Rossi, because she insisted on being treated like an equal by men; then you find out she's a lonely little girl with daddy issues. Barf. We faded away from the show.
They ended up talking about "Sex and the City" as if it was in the same league of backlash as "Ally McBeal". The show is hardly a feminist parable, but it's not retrograde slop either. While they acknowledge the high pressure put on women to abandon their own selves and submit to simpering, boring, "True Womanhood", they also consistently showed how that pressure is a load of crap. On "Ally McBeal", the only reason that the writers could conceive that a woman might be single in her 30's was because she's crazy, cold, or emotionally damaged. But on "Sex and the City" they all had good reasons to be single. In fact, 3 of the 4 characters were pretty much single because they didn't want to get married at all and that was fine.
One thing that is plain obvious to me is that are not enough programs that even attempt to address women's lives as they really are, not fantasy versions of such. And they didn't point out really that when a show gets close, it often shoots straight up to top of the ratings. Who'd thunk it? Good programs with good writing that has realistic characters that speak to the audience? Why would they think that works?

Is enforcing the double standard a medical concern?

Even the FDA panel that recommended that emergency contraception be sold over-the-counter understood that unless the double standard was protected, they couldn't recommend it. So they made sure that it didn't increase promiscuity in teenage girls before they recommended it. Now I'm sure that I'm not the first person to ask if that is a legitimate medical question to ask. In one sense, it is, because obviously someone who has unprotected sex with multiple partners is at greater risk of catching an STD than someone who doesn't.
But I cannot for the life of me imagine a time when the FDA will feel the need to make sure that X drug or device doesn't increase promiscuity in teenage males. Whenever there's hand-wringing over some contraception or STD-prevention that applies to both sexes or to males only (like condoms), usually the promscuity of teenagers, no gender mentioned, is mentioned. If it's female-specific everyone lets down their hair and lets their true feelings be known--that it's the sexuality of teenage girls that needs to be contained.

Thanks, Trish Wilson.

Which lead me to a tangential thought that crosses my mind occassionally--isn't it odd how contraception is still framed as being a "woman's" issue? Now that reliable contraception is the social norm, yes, women's lives have improved dramatically. But men's lives have as well, and they know it. My guess is that nearly as many men as women believe that contraception is a right. And, correct me if I'm way off, but most men, particularly those in committed relationships, participate in contraceptive decisions. Hell, I know men who have cheerfully submitted to vasectomies, figuring that it's their turn to handle contraception now. And I've known guys to fall apart during a pregnancy scare while their girlfriends calmly outline their options.
It's somewhat understandable that smart, good, feminist men may not understand the full ramifications of the abortion debate in their own lives, in part because it's not their bodies under assault and in part because having their rights assaulted due to their sex is outside of their experience. But by now I think it's clear that the vast majority of men and women see contraception as part of their lives.
So why, when it comes to politics, is contraception still framed as a woman's issue? Obviously, the people behind banning the over-the-counter pill are mostly wild-eyed misogynists. Go to any anti-abortion rally and check out the majority of the men in a male-majority crowd--the fear and loathing of women in their eyes is telling. It's obvious that the anti-woman crowd goes after contraception because it's a way to go after women.
But rarely do you hear someone point out how men's rights are under assault by birth control bans as well. Take a typical situation where emergency contraception would be used--young couple using condoms as birth control, a joint decision most likely, and the condom breaks. Well, both of them are affected by how quickly she can get that emergency contraception, aren't they?
I'm not saying that because men are affected, it somehow makes the right to contraception more precious at all. I'm just amazed sometimes at how the debate has been totally framed by the idea that contraception is a "woman's issue", which does make it a big, fat target for the misogynist crowd. And I'm amazed more men aren't compelled to stand up and say, "Yo, I don't want a bunch of unplanned babies, either."

Okay, I figured out how to post pictures on here. Friday cat blogging has been pushed to Saturday.

Katy in an artistic mode. Posted by Hello

Max is always getting kissed on. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 28, 2004

When crafting fake terrorist threats, don't get your information from Fox News

This flight attendent is being charged with interference with an airline, and I'm sure that more will probably come. She tried to scare people into thinking that terrorists had put a bomb on the plane.
As for her personal motivations, I wouldn't read too much into it. There are always a few people who are cracked and need attention and since it never occured to them to be a blogger and just spout off their opinions into cyberspace, they create unnecessary drama over stuff people actually take seriously.
However, I think this is very, very interesting:

The note read, "There is a bomb onboard this flt to Boston in cargo. Live Saddaam!" according to Nashville television station WSMV.
"She was one of the people we interviewed, and our investigation revealed that she was indeed the person responsible for the note," (FBI agent Doug)Riggin said.

My guess is that after reading the "Live Saddaam" part of the message, the FBI agents decided that the person who found it wrote it and went to have a beer. Because they would know that Saddam Hussein doesn't have anything to do with our current, Al Qaeda-driven terrorist threat. My guess is that this woman was watching all sorts of Fox News and decided that a real terrorist must be driven by his untoward love of Saddam Hussein.

Fox News: Making criminals dumber.

BushCo once again proves that they are wily bastards when it comes to robbing and cheating

Looks like the Medicare drug benefits are working out just as planned--they are too fucking complex for any human being to figure out so most elderly people are not taking the discount and just paying up the full amount to the drug companies, like God intended. It takes a real leader to stand up to the simpering old people and tell them, yes, you must choose between food or drugs. Because if drug companies make less than maximum profits, well, I hate to say it, but the terrorists have already won.

Making the kind of sense that doesn't

Media Matters is on Limbaugh's case again. I'm not tired of this by any stretch. The right relies way too much on the regular media's need to be fed new stories constantly; if Limbaugh is so last week, than he is free to spew hate and bile all he wants without getting called on it. Stay the course, David Brock!
Tonight's post about Limbaugh's latest descent into lunacy is great, so great they just linked to his page. Rush knows that for a long time, the Democrats in office in the 90's treated him like their mothers taught them to treat bullies, which is to say, ignore them and they'll go away.
Well, we all know how well that works. And it worked even less when your school administration openly supported bullies, because they could toss a ball around or something. Supporting bullying behavior comes rather naturally to the bullies in the White House, and it's about time someone called them on their shit. And Al Gore was the man to do it. (I know, I'm still reeling in surprise. I may have to watch it one more time to be sure.) He demanded that the White House denounce Rush's support of torture in the prisons; Rush about wet himself to have Al Gore acknowledge his existence.

Just sitting here minding my own business. I'm not bothering anybody. Just doing my job here on the EIB Network, and the vice president, ex-vice president, of the Democratic Party, has demanded today that George W. Bush condemn and denounce me.

Of course, now it's time for the bullshit (beyond the bullshit that he just happened to be sitting there doing nothing and got denounced for no reason). He plays the commercial where a hood is put over the Statue of Liberty like it was done to that prisoner is Abu Ghraib. He pretends not to know what they mean by it, and acts like they are doing a bunch of inept and incoherent theater:

So that's their latest commercial, and I haven't seen it, but apparently during one of the darkest moments of that commercial is where a hood, an Abu Ghraib hood, is placed over (laughing) the Statue of Liberty. That's what I meant earlier about these people kind of going a little too far. They're really going to persuade people with this.

Okay, I was an English major and therefore maybe quick to pick up on symbolism. But it seems to me that the point was that the Statue symbolizes Liberty (hence the name), which we were going to give to the Iraqis. And the hood symbolizes the way we've actually treated them.
Or maybe he does get it, and it really is funny. I don't see why it was funny, but okay, Rush. I mean, you're right, anyone who doesn't see that torturing Iraqis in lieu of giving them promised liberty is a big fat joke is just a boring liberal.

Shaking off the oppression of facts

If there is one thing that the right has taught us, it's that no amount of facts or evidence is enough to allow a politically inconvenient truth to be accepted as the actual truth. If you don't want to hear it, simply deny that it's true and then whine that your false viewpoint isn't given a bare minimum of 50%, if not more, of airtime, classtime, whatever in interest of "fairness" and "balance". (As we all know, "fairness" and "balance" will never be truly achieved until the right can cram any old lie down our throats without any threat at all of being called on it.)
The tactic of demanding that proven lies be given equal or more time as the scientific truth used to be reserved to a handful of issues, and the occasional expedient situation (Iran-contra, Watergate). The fight against teaching evolution laid down the strategy. First of all, declare your opponent's facts to be "beliefs", equal to any other. Then demand that all beliefs be given fair treatment.
Now there are sorts of facts that are "balanced" by blatant lies that support the right wing agenda. Abstinence-only ed. doesn't work, gays are normal, global warming is real--all are denied with a straight face by right wingers and the media feels obliged to equate their lies with the truth in the interest of balance. And while the feeling that lies are as good as the truth is spreading and quickly, there are still huge inconvenient facts that are just sitting out there unchallenged by the right wing. They need to get cracking!

My suggestion for the next fact that needs to be challenged and confused until people can't tell lies from truth: Where babies come from.

Think about it! It's perfect! I mean, the fact that babies come from sexual intercourse means that good conservative values (having babies and lots of 'em) are unfortunately overlapping with perverse liberalism (have sex, lots of it). It's obviously not enough to declare any non-procreative sex as perverse. Stupid Americans tend to mix up the procreative kind with the non-procreative kind because they look and feel roughly the same. And then worse they start thinking that they like the sex stuff but don't want the babies. And then they start thinking if other people want to have private sex lives, well, that's their business. Obviously, letting people know where babies come from starts people down a slippery slope to sin and even worse, to liberalism.
Until good family values and lots o' babies gets untangled from dirty, perverse sex, there's no hope. So I propose that right wing pundits start demanding that the stork theory receive equal time with the sex theory as to where babies come from. If someone challenges you with bothersome "facts", just say that one belief system is equal to another and Americans should decide for themselves whether babies come from the stork or from unspeakable perversions.
The next step of course is to beat feet back to the right wing media and start blasting off talk show segments, interviews, and magazine articles that decry the menace of secular humanists running around oppressing Christianity by claiming that life, yes human life itself! comes from perverse behaviors of communists who think they can just go around acting like perverts.
There's no choice. Until all sex is seen as disgusting, unpatriotic and unspeakably perverse, we will be sliding downhill into another Rome, with orgies and laziness. And the argument can't be made as long as people continue to think that something evil like sex can result in something good like more and more babies.

The death penalty, abortion, and Catholicism

As has been well-noted by many, many people, certain politcally-minded Catholic clergy are trying to get communion denied to Democratic Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, specifically John Kerry. Of course, they generalize it to make it seem like a principled thing, but of course, no pro-choice Republican has been singled out as of yet.
And of course, no Catholic clergy has come forward to ask that communion be denied to any politician who supports the death penalty, which the Catholic Church also strongly opposes. Many, many people have pointed out the hypocrisy of this.
Well, I've thought about it and I realized that it's even more important for a good Catholic to be against the death penalty than legal abortion. I was listening to Air America and they were interviewing Steve Earle to ask him about his work against the death penalty. And he said that since he lives in a democracy, every executed prisoner was blood on all our hands. And he doesn't want to be part of killing anyone, because he wants to go to heaven. Fair enough.
And something for Catholics to consider. We are the State, and so when they execute somebody, we all execute somebody. However, abortion isn't performed on our collective behalf. It is tolerated, which is a much different thing. When a woman gets an abortion, it's not on our collective behalf.
It seems to me that if Catholic clergy are truly interested in the souls of their flock, then they need to do what they can to keep them from being part of collective killing long before they start thinking about looking after the lives of their non-flock members who are getting abortions. And that applies to the war as well, which is also violence on the behalf of us all.

Polling religion

At The Talent Show, there's a post about how the majority of Americans polled are not only religious, but they seem to subscribe to old-fashioned, mythological, superstitious-type religion. check out the table.
Still, I wouldn't make too much of this. People lie to pollsters, and often. They tend to represent themeselves to pollsters as what they are expected to be more than what they really are. (I remember Katha Pollitt talking about catching herself lying to a pollster and claiming that she exercised everyday when the truth was the opposite.) With a subject as sensitive as religion, I would expect even more conformist-type answers than usual.
This doesn't tell you how many people believe in God and angels and the devil and whatnot. This mostly just tells you how many people are living under the pressure to say that they believe these things, and that's probably all. Of course, even that is worrisome. Why is it that 70% of Americans think that the socially appropriate belief is belief in the devil?

Mousewords live all weekend

Like World O'Crap, I'm not doing shit this weekend. Except blogging my brains out for all y'all. Enjoy!

My first Friday cat blog

Well, I like everyone else's Friday cat blogging and even though I don't have an ability to put images up on my blog (yet), I do want to participate. Anyway, my cats have pointed out that they are at least as cute as anyone else's cats, so they want their silly antics recorded, too.
I have two cats.

*Max, also known as Max Power, is our male cat. He's a gray tuxedo tabby and skinny, even though he has filled out as of late a little bit. My boyfriend has had Max since he was a kitten. I met my boyfriend and Max when Max was a year old. He was a bit shy then, but he still jumped in my lap and stuck his face in mine. Max and I were close from Day One.
Max is extremely tall and handsome and everyone admires him. He's such a beauty queen that my boyfriend, who dotes on Max, denies that there is a flaw to him. However, he has a small kink in the end of his tail, which is good. Perfect beauties are boring.

*Katy, also known as Lunchbox, is our female cat. She is fat and seems just to be getting fatter. What can you do? She loves to eat. She is half Siamese and half tabby. She is white with random stripes and has blue eyes, which are crossed. She was a stray for a year before she was taken in by a feral cat program. They fixed her and clipped one of her ears in half to mark her, but as she was recovering they realized they didn't have to release her into the wild again because she's a lover.
Katy was shy at first, but she has really come out of her shell. She likes to plop her fat ass on either my boyfriend or myself and purr so loud you can hear her in the next room. We sit and take it, because she's come so far from the cat who wouldn't come out from behind the couch. Katy likes to eat, but she likes it even better if you stand over her and rub her belly while she eats. She likes it so much that she will follow you around the house begging to be rubbed while she eats in her loud Siamese meow.

Those are my cats. They love each other to distraction. They spend inordinate amounts of time curled up around each other, licking and kissing each other. Really, it casts shame on us lesser mortals who have not learned to love with that much time and devotion.


I'm kinda late on this, I know. But I'm listening to the repeat of Al Gore's speech on Al Franken's show. And wow.
As for people who said, "Why couldn't be this angry before?" Well, I would suggest that, like all of us, he couldn't have possibly known how horrible this administration would be. And if he had known and told us, we wouldn't have believed him. It's just unbelievable.

Bill O'Reilly compares America to Genghis Khan, finds us lacking

I'm not kidding. O'Reilly is jumping on "You bet we torture! And we'd do it again!" bandwagon. And I swear to god, considers emulating Genghis Khan to be some kind of "middle ground".

But a middle ground must be found and fast. The terrorists have no rules, they kill at will. But we, the primary targets, have all kinds of boundaries, many of which put us in danger.

Fuck boundaries! Genghis Khan would have!
You know, Genghis Khan was also known for his hearty sexual appetites. If we need a leader that is willing to emulate Genghis Khan, I say bring back Bill Clinton.

Thanks, World O'Crap.

Please don't encourage them

World O' Crap has an update on the Christian separatists. Funny, of course. But this concerns me:

Asked by Sean Hannity about forces which might try to stop the secession if the movement sees success, Burnell responded, "We're receiving e-mails from liberals around the country who can't wait to get rid of us, so there's a benefit to everyone here."

Alright, people. It's funny, but don't encourage them. You will feel awful after the final shoot-out with the Feds a year or so from now.

Things get uglier

More on the OC rape case from Pinko Feminist Hellcat. It seems that the ol' "non-virgins can't be raped" argument is getting whipped out. The defense is arguing that since this girl had consensual sex with one of the defendents before, he basically not only had the right to rape her at will thereafter but also invite his friends to do the same. Between this and the people defending Kobe Bryant's right to rape a girl because she came into his room, I am seriously worried.

Making the world safe for John Ashcroft

I doubt there's anyone reading this that isn't aware that Ashcroft cannot handle artistic portrayals of nudity without getting embarrassing public hard-ons that sort of discredit his anti-lust campaigning.
Well, covering up just one statue has not fixed the problem. Hell, in this scary world, you might encounter artistically rendered nudity in all sorts of places, like museums, and even supposed houses of God. What's a good Christian to do?
Well, I don't know. But the good folks at Worth 1000 have made tenative first steps to making it safer for John Ashcroft and many others to leave their homes.

High gas prices

Arianna Huffington has a good column about rising gas prices and how there is something fishy going on. I think there is a certain reluctance on the part of many liberals to criticize escalating prices at the pump, even though it's clearly a straightforward soaking of the average consumer under an oil-friendly administration, because there is the continuing hope that if gas prices go high enough, then people will learn to conserve.
While conservation is an important goal, making small improvements in conservation on the backs of consumers is the worst possible way of going about it. For one thing, it's bad P.R.--it's not a good way to get working class people back on board with liberalism by arguing that their backs should be broken with high gas prices. If anything comes off as elitist posturing, it's a bunch of liberals suggesting that if gas prices just get high enough, then ordinary working class Americans will learn to cut back and do with less. In fact, that sounds suspiciously like the conservative blame-the-victim reasoning. You know, the kind that blames poverty on the poor for being lazy for instance.
When I hear a well-meaning liberal suggest that it's good for me to pay more at the pump, because maybe I'll learn to conserve, I get all red in the face. What shall I cut back on? Driving to work? Buying groceries? Or should I learn to suck it up and never see my friends again to cut out that less than 5% of my driving that is service of socializing? I imagine that most people feel the same as I do. Should they quit their jobs? Take their kids out of school?
Granted, it would have been better if more people had blown off the big SUV craze and purchased fuel-efficient vehicles. (Maybe I deserve to have a job and friends because I "sacrificed" and purchased a fuel-efficient vehicle.) But while it's fun to point and laugh at SUV drivers who are regretting thinking that the big car=big dick a few years ago, it doesn't really do much to help two of the biggest liberal goals, to help the enviroment and to help ordinary people.
Like it or not, rising gas prices is just another example of how money is getting redirected from the pockets of people who need it to those who don't. Driving is simply not an optional activity for the majority of Americans. So, if you look at it for a moment outside of enviromental concerns, one thing is clear. With the administration's help, oil companies are making record profits by rapidly inflating the cost of living of ordinary people. And that's a problem.
But luckily, by taking the issue to the top both the concerns of ordinary people and the enviroment can be addressed. Huffington goes into this in detail. But there's even more than what she suggests that can be done to help both people and the enviroment. For one thing, escalating housing costs need to be addressed, so that middle class people can afford to live closer to where they work. It's time to get out of the old, blame-the-victim way of thinking and start looking at the big picture.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

More hearts and minds

BushCo is going to blame the torture in prisons on a few bad apples. That's great, fine, whatever you liars.

But no matter how you say it, the Iraqis apparently don't have to believe it.

Which Bush is the real Bush?

The one who's campaigning?

Or the one we get if we actually elect this fucker again?

Do women like politics?

In case you can't tell, I am one of those very unfeminine women who likes politics. You know, we all have cankles...kidding. I have very nice ankles. But that's the stereotype.
But male political bloggers find it much more fun to hold forth on how men and women are different, and that's what it must be. Ever notice how the argument is always made palatable by casting men in a slightly unflattering light, as Matt does here by suggesting that men are obsessive in ways that women are not? But by chalking up obsessiveness to masculinity, you run the risk of insinuating that women just don't have the brain power to obsess over anything, that is, have a complex hobby. And that belief haunts Matt's post, even though I doubt he means it to:

All the political magazines have overwhelmingly male readerships, and surveys consistently show that women are less informed about politics than men, even when you do controls for income and educational attainment. I saw one book which alleged that women are even less likely than men to be able to correctly identify a candidate's position on abortion, despite the CW that women care about this more than men. Indeed, the research even showed that women do care about this more than men, in that among those who knew where the candidates stood, it was more likely to be a factor in women's voting decisions.

My thoughts on this are that there's a number of reasons women tend to be less political. No doubt one of those reasons is that women just have less time to get educated on politics. After working all day, most men come home and watch some TV, including the news which is on right around when they get home. But most women come home and cook and clean. I know that I can't settle in to watch TV well until the news is off; I have to make dinner.
But more than that--chalking up women's lack of representation in politics to sexual differences that can't be avoided is just so much post-feminist nonsense. Women have been pressured out of and outright excluded from politics throughout the history of this country. For god's sake, it's only been a little over 80 years that we've had the right to vote! And it's been less than a generation since there's been a noticable change in how women vote, from voting their husband's interests to voting their own alot of the time. And even then, I wouldn't say that most married women feel at all comfortable expressing opinions different from their husbands, and the fact that married women tend to vote and be more conservative than single women seems to be evidence for that.
On top of that, you have the old-fashioned social pressures against female intelligence. There's plenty of women who start off as brainy, opinionated types as children, just like men, and are ground down while growing up, especially in their teenage years. And the pressure continues well into adulthood. Being equal to men means that many women will be ______ more than alot of men, be it richer, smarter, whatever. And those women tend to be on the receiving end of name-calling (ball-buster) or jokes about their sexuality.

Oh, and if you disagree with my contention that ambitious and intelligent girls are still actively and enthusiatically put down and ground down, you might want to check out something I posted just yesterday.

The police state recruits delivery people

In New Hampshire, they are offering a $50 reward to delivery people who turn in alcohol and drug users who are minors.
"Protecting the children"--it's an incredibly useful way to turn people on each other, increase distrust and expand the state's power to exert control. If your pizza delivery boy is spying on you, what else might they turn you in on?

Joint custody, children and women's issues

Trish Wilson has an interesting, must-read post on joint custody and "cooperative" parenting issues.
Those of us who are never-married, childless, or happily married may be unaware of how a significant number of personal feminist battles are being fought out in divorce courts everyday. It used to be that the majority of divorces were initiated by husbands. But nowadays, the majority of divorces are initiated by women, a direct result of feminism. Conservatives wring their hands and moan and cry about this, claiming that feminists are trying to tear the family apart, but that's not the real issue here. While no one likes having a high divorce rate, it's disingenous to pretend that women get sucked in by feminism and decide to abandon husband and children. Most women who choose divorce have done so as a last resort, and now anti-feminist groups are lashing out by making it even harder for women to make effective child-rearing choices.
My parents, who were naturally unhappy about divorcing, still had their minds about them to make decisions with their children's best interests in mind. And they knew that the best interests of their children were served by having a quick, non-contentious divorce. And to opt out of joint custody in favor of frequent visits with my dad. Joint custody is just too hard on children, who need stability, which you can't provide shuffling them back and forth between two houses.
Trish makes some really good points about how these "father's rights" groups think that they are winning somehow because they have made their ex-wives' lives harder, which seems to be their major goal. But by doing so, they have just racked up their own trouble and own legal bills. I guess what you dish out does come back on you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

All it took was a day

This morning, Salon had an article about the Pentagon allowing Rush Limbaugh to have the troops ears without any real competition. By afternoon, Media Matters has a petition. Take Rush Limbaugh off American Forces Radio!

Via Media Matters.


John Kerry stands up for a little girl. How much cuter can you get?
Good first step! Now name a woman as your running mate........

Via Pandagon.

W. may not be smarter, but he has a bigger dick?

Well, that is apparently the new Republican campaign strategy--make this race a big dick contest.

August Pollak on Bush the Jock.

Sadly, No on Kerry vs. Bush on career history and wealth.

Bad, bad BAD idea, morons. Seriously, the cheerleader has a bigger dick than the Vietnam vet? Not gonna work, guys. Try again.

Creeping Puritanism

From Hit and Run, the Supreme Court is hearing two cases on bans on selling interstate wine. This is the sort of thing that goes under people's radar because it's a)a boring trade issue and b)only affects a tiny portion of the population, the kind of people who seek out local wines.
Hit and Run sees this as a liberties issue, and I agree. But more than that, if you peel some of these cases back, you'll see the squirmy little worms of the war against the small businessman in this country.
This is a perfect example of how self-righteous Puritans are being used as tools to shut down small business and reduce competition for big businesses. Alot of small wineries need that Internet business to grow. And I know for a fact that there are a lot of small restaurants that specialize in having an ever-rotating list of wines that their customer base is unfamiliar with.
It would be interesting to see if there is a paper and money trail around these laws that are being challenged that would lead back to corporate liquor and restaurant interests. I wouldn't be surprised. My guess is that is probably the driving force, if even the Washington Times tips their hat to this fact:

Lawyers for Juanita Swedenburg, the winery's owner, told the Supreme Court that it is unfair that out-of-state wineries must go through an expensive bureaucracy of wholesalers and retailers to sell in New York, while in-state wineries can ship products directly to buyers.

Good expose on Limbaugh being used as military propaganda

Salon has an article about how the military radio favors Rush Limbaugh over other commentators, which naturally could be confusing and misleading for the troops overseas.
What I find interesting is this:

Melvin Russell, director of American Forces Radio and Television Services, insists that Limbaugh's controversial show is broadcast for only one reason -- it gains big ratings in the United States. "We look at the most popular shows broadcast here in the United States and try to mirror that. [Limbaugh] is the No. 1 talk show host in the States; there's no question about that. Because of that we provide him on our service."

Well, they use Howard Stern as an example of a radio show that has high ratings but no place on American Forces Radio. But they had a quick answer for that--he's vulgar. Well, now they have another popular radio station that's beating Limbaugh in the ratings, at least in New York. I'm sure that our ratings-based military radio station can be counted on adding Al Franken's show immediately.

It's a start

I don't know if anything will come from it, but at least someone has started to call Justice Scalia on his shit.
I just wish that someone would realize that they need to have mental health hearings. I think that his ego is messing with his sanity.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

It's mean, but irresistible

I'm against forced sterilization, I really am. I believe in reproductive rights, the right to choose whether or not to have children, the right to choose how many, and the right to choose when to have them.

There's just no speaking truth to the deliberately ignorant

Panda's Thumb has a post on how the sincere belief that science education puts children's souls in peril is the major roadblock to establishing good biology education in schools. A quote from the writer's conclusion:

In fact, I’ll go further: Basing the effort to defeat attempts to weaken the teaching of evolutionary theory solely on scientific arguments is both a tactical and a strategic mistake. It increases the fear and reinforces the resistance by making the threat appear stronger and therefore more menacing. A defense of teaching good biological science that does not take into account the fear of the parents who oppose evolution might win in the school board or in court, but it does not address the fundamental reason for the resistance to science. A defense of science that directly addresses the fear has a better chance of both winning the battle and preserving the community.

I am afraid that's a good point, but how? If you can't use reason, if the only language they speak is Fundie Christian, what can you tell them? That their children won't turn away from God? You can't promise them that, even if you take evolution away completely. Fundamentalism is so unreasonable, so ridiculous, so alien to the normative culture that it's china-delicate. Their only protection is censorship; not letting their children hear anything but their viewpoint is the only way to protect their viewpoint. How can you address the fears of all-or-nothing types? Anything that is outside their belief system is automatically a threat. An example from the same post:

During the Q&A Ed told of meeting a biologist at a conservative southern university (that I won’t name here) who said that when evolution is being taught in a biology course required for pre-meds, students of the fundamentalist Christian persuasion make a practice of staying in the back of the lecture hall and holding hands and praying. No amount of scientific reasoning is an antidote to the kind of cognitive blocking exemplified by that behavior.

No amount of reason, but I would argue that no amount of emotional appeal or anything else will get through. If they compromise their delicate belief system on even one point, the whole thing will come crashing down. That's why fundamentalists pull away from society and create their own, because their religion doesn't withstand criticism. Their beliefs are only protected by the hardening of their beliefs, there is no support structure there.
So, what to do? I don't know. It's obviously wrong to let a minority of religious fanatics dictate public policy because they have set their own selves up to be crushed by even a hint of dissent. But of course, by forcing them and their children to have to live in the real world, we are crushing their religious beliefs. Well, too bad. They set the rules--either they take over the country or else. And letting them have the country is not an option.

Via Prometheus 6.

Teenage girls just have to learn to take it, I guess

Through South Knox Bubba, we find out that while it's not a good thing to sexually proposition your teenage students, it's much, much worse to interfere with the sacred right of teenage boys to sexually harass teenage girls and start fights.

Every sperm is sacred

Most 17-year-olds are foolishly throwing away billions of precious sperm in Kleenex every single day. This young man knew that was a waste and planned ahead.

Gullibility and the news

Rivka has a great and very educational post about the psychology behind over-rated fears.
While we are all prone to making these kinds of mistakes, sometimes I see people actively hurting themselves over-reacting to imagined fears. A co-worker of mine once told me that she doesn't let her nine-year-old daughter play outside because it's "so dangerous". A short time later, she complained that her daughter was getting chubby and she didn't know what to do about it. I had to refrain from saying, "Um, let her play outside." But in a way, she was putting her daughter in real danger (lifetime struggles with weight, potential for weight-related diseases) by protecting her from imagined dangers. Really, nine years old is old enough to know not to play in the street or get into cars with strangers.

O'Reilly is blowing some particularly noxious hot air

World O'Crap has the scoop. Obviously, the best part of this O'Reilly speech against people just running around and doing what they like as if this were a free country or something (as if!) is this lovely story:

As a teenager, he had been a fan of the popular rock band The Doors. Attending one of their concerts, he said he saw standing in front of him a family of four: a mother, father, and two young boys about 10 to 12 years old. Standing in front of them was a man smoking marijuana, and the smoke was drifting into the faces of the family.
The mother tapped the man on the shoulder and asked him to put out the joint, but the man refused, uttering an obscenity.
O'Reilly - there with a friend, "the Bear, who looked like a biker" - then tapped the man on the shoulder and told him, "you're gonna put it out, or you're gonna swallow it."
Amidst laughter and applause from the crowd, O'Reilly squinted his blue eyes and said, "That guy did nothing (without the threat of physical force), because he lived in an 'open society.'"

You know, I have to agree with O'Reilly--there is too much goddamn freedom in this country. I hate people who feel free to bring their minor children to rock concerts and then demand that everyone in the place conform to their expectations. There should be a law banning those people and their stupid kids from entering adult-only situations like rock concerts. What are people going to think they get to do next? Bring their kids to orgies and pitch a fit because there's nudity?

Monday, May 24, 2004

The equal rights of heterosexuals to have their marriages held up to question

Pandagon has a serious problem with Howard Kurtz's desire that every gay marriage should be about how sick and wrong it is. After all, if gays must have legal equality, can't we compensate somehow by trashing their relationships in the press?
Honestly, conservatives belief that cats can be squashed back into bags even though they'll be clawing and biting and tearing the crap out of everything around them until the stuffer gives up amazes me. It used to be that marriage was between men and women because it wasn't overly questioned. But now that it's questioned and conservatives want to enshrine what was never technically enshrined into law before, that marriage is by definition between a man and a woman, they have unleashed a potential legal nightmare.
For instance, say they get their way and somehow marriage gets defined as exclusive to one man and one woman. How do you enforce it? In most legal contracts, if there is a stipulation on entering it, such as age or credit or whatever, you have to prove it somehow. It used to be that people were just taken on their word for their sex, and marriages are actually made and have been made for a long time between members of the same biological sex who lived as different sexes. I have a funny feeling that conservatives who meddle in other people's bedroom practices are likely simply to accept that you are the sex you claim to be.
So what is it? How will "man" and "woman" be defined? Will there be a genital examination? If so, does that mean that transexuals and inter-sexed people will be barred from marriage altogether? What about transexuals who have such good surgery it's hard to tell? Who gets to judge? If the judge is someone so backwards that they believe in creationism manages to judge someone as inter-sexed who is not simply because her genitals might be slightly different than most women's, does the victim get to sue?
Or will we base it on birth certificate status, what the doctor declared you to be upon birth? This will immediately be a problem as well. For one thing, gay marriages will exist between natural born members of one sex and their spouses who were once opposite-sexed but have changed over. And again, alot of inter-sexed people are genetically male but deemed female at birth, but decide to go with their male identity as adults. Why should they be defined as "lesbians" and ineligible if they have male parts and want to marry women?
So I guess it will have to be a DNA test. But there are plenty of women who are genetically male, but there's way they'd know unless they took a DNA test. Do you want to be the person who tells a blushing bride that she's a man and a pervert in God's eyes for wanting what she thought was a lawful wedding? Do you want ostensibly straight men and women to "prove" their sex before marriage? What next? "Proving" fertility?
Like the one-drop rule that argued that to be black all you had to have was one black ancestor, the ridiculous nature of the legal distinctions has the power to cast a shadow of judgement over the unfairness of the entire system. Who's to say what makes a man and what makes a woman? If we decide who is to say, what gives them that authority? And aren't ordinary men and women going to revolt when they have to "prove" their biological sex just to obtain a marriage license?

Homophobia for its own sake

Any chance to push the stereotype that gay men are automatically disease-ridden is a chance taken lately. What next? Are they going to push banning lesbians from accepting sperm donations? Are they really afraid that homosexuality is genetic? If so, someone needs to tell BushCo that most gay kids are born to straight parents.

Someone else is getting ready for a stand-off with the Feds

These things never end well. Next time we hear from this group, it will be because they have holed themselves up in some kind of bunker, armed to the teeth, protecting people who have warrants out for terrorist threats, etc. and the FBI is trying to get them to come out.

Via Pandagon.

Further down the rabbit hole

The insanity continues. Now poor Quentin Tarantino has been pushed into the spotlight to defend the Cannes Film Festival's award decisions. We creep closer and closer to a Coulter-ish heaven where freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are utterly subject to a "patriotism", aka a non-critical of BushCo, test.
Of course, European jurors don't feel the need to be mincing or apologetic. After all, there's a number of countries that BushCo has to bomb through before they reach, say, Scotland:

When an Italian journalist complained that the film had "only one point of view," juror Tilda Swinton, an actress from Scotland, replied "We've heard what Bush has to say. We live with it. It's not a fair fight. This film helps to redress the balance."

Fake outrage peaks over nonsense

Some people are pretending to be offended by Trudeau's illustration of the old saying, "bringing someone's head on a platter". They are pretending that they think he's making fun of poor Nick Berg, who I am most sure did not ask to be a phony martyr for right wing racist arguments justifying the war in Iraq.
Twenty bucks says anyone who is offended would probably consider himself a patriotic, Christian sort and therefore would be familiar with the story that is associated with the expression. Or do we only read the parts where Paul admonishes women to know their place and the Ten Commandments now?

If you can't see it, it isn't there

Rumsfeld is taking decisive action to prevent prisoner abuses, er, I mean getting caught. No cameras, no abuse! It's as simple as that.

Via August Pollak.

How to encourage population growth

I'm about to finish reading The Mommy Myth by Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels, an entertaining and interesting read. They basically tear apart the new cultural attitudes about motherhood (which some of those Amazon reviewers have bought hook, line and sinker), and demonstrate how they are anti-feminist and trying to replace subservience to men with subservience to children.
In passing, they mention what has become one of the cliches of modern feminism--that it's ironic that the conservative government is rolling back reproductive rights because they "love children" but at the same time rolling back any programs that make it possible for ordinary people to raise their children properly. Reading that and nodding, I thought, "Yeah, it's nearly impossible to raise kids nowadays, and that's one of the big reasons I'm not having any. Good thing we still have birth control."
And then it hit me--how can the government keep the population growth steady while undermining health care and education and steady wages and job security, the very things that make having kids an attractive proposition? Well, by giving women no choice but to have them, that's how.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Some thoughts on race and leadership from P6

Fantastic post. What Dr. King has to say on the nature of leadership is just startling in its prescience.
What's sad is that now that Dr. King is dead, many conservative leaders are dragging out his corpse, brushing it off and putting words into his mouth, implying that he would side with their agenda, both the openly racist and inadvertently racist parts. Rarely anymore do you get to hear or read anything he actually said, outside of carefully edited sections of his "I Have a Dream" speech. Dr. King has been reduced to a few nice words and an unfortunate death, while most of what he said and did is roundly ignored.
Of course, considering the hoopla around The Passion, I guess we shouldn't expect any better. We live in a nation of people that cares more for the dramatic circumstances of people's deaths than the meaning behind the way they lived their lives.

Time to praise the few brave journalists

Pacific Views has a great post about those journalists who are still out there, kicking ass and taking names even though the odds are increasingly stacked against them. Seymour Hersh is singled out for special praise, of course. Muck-racking is a fine art and, if done well, great reading. Let's hope that more journalists find their own reserve of bravery like Hersh has done.

The Simpsons are cruising for a bruising

I hope they got high ratings for that season finale. That was too funny. Probably the most cohesive and funny take on media consolidation and the free speech issues that arise from it. Basically, Mr. Burns buys out all the media outlets in order to bolster his reputation. Lisa starts an alternative newspaper that drives Mr. Burns nuts. He continues to mess with her operation until he basically drives her out of business.
But just as Lisa is accepting defeat in the face of the monolithic media empire owned by Mr. Burns, she realizes that many of the citizens of Springfield have set up their own newletters. Of course, The Simpsons has to slap at everyone that comes in their path, so they make fun of the general quality of the ordinary-people newsletters and the opinions within. But you also get a sense of the power in numbers. Mr. Burns can't shut them all down.
Funny and cool. Anyway, I'm cheered that the blogosphere, etc. has managed to capture the attention of The Simpsons' writers.
And yes, they do mention the name of Rupert Murdoch. How could they not when he and Mr. Burns are morphing into the same person?

I guess I'm behind on the times

I didn't know they remade The Stepford Wives. I can't believe this got the greenlight. The original movie was a sort of woman's worst nightmare kind of horror movie--that worst fear being that all men want out of women are cunts who cook and that your entire personhood is just a burden on society. Yeah, it was way overblown, but it was a dark comedy. But maybe I'm reading it wrong.
I just can't believe that this kind of slap at the domestic pigeonhole for women could get made nowadays. Are we not living in a time where newsmagazines are on a regular schedule to put out at least one article every three months or so claiming that feminism is so over, that women want their babies young, are crawling all over themselves to prove that they can't wait to change their names, that they like quitting their jobs to be domestic goddesses, that they know that ambition in women ruins their sex lives?
I guess we'll see. They probably sucked the bite out of the original story or found a way to ultimately blame the murder/replacements on the female victims. Or who knows? Maybe it will be better than the original, a little more nuanced while still driving home the point that there is something deeply sick and wrong about the cult of domestic female perfection. The casting seems promising, at least. It has a good chance at being funnier than the original.
One way or another, we'll all probably get the pleasure of Kate Roiphe and Ann Coulter declaring that women only wish that they could be Stepford Wives.

Doonesbury's on a roll

First, the poignant but funny story of B.D. losing his leg in Iraq. And now it looks like Joanie is going to sue the university for firing Boopsie for making a good faith effort to investigate rape allegations against members of the football team. My guess is that Joanie is going to trounce the university but good. Too bad this sort of justice is hard to get in real life.

Since when are Mexican immigrants terrorists?

David Neiwert has a couple of really fantastic posts up now. This one is about how certain Republicans are using the war on terrorism to implement anti-immigration policies aimed more at intimidating Mexican immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants. (Read the other one he posted yesterday about a fascist-style censorship flare-up in a New Mexican high school, it's also fantastic.)
I grew up in West Texas and I can tell you that there is some outstandingly unchecked racism against Mexicans, particularly recent immigrants, growing out in the Southwest. Of course, everyone there who expresses racist sentiments will immediately backtrack and say that they don't hate all Hispanics, they just have a problem with the ones who come over here and won't learn English. That other people can't or won't speak English is a problem of unparalleled significance, to hear some people talk about it. Neiwert addresses this, rather wittily:

Students of history are familiar with these complaints, since they have been leveled against virtually every group of immigrants to come to the United States. Of course, the language complaint also bespeaks a peculiarly American bit of unthinking arrogance about other languages; Americans are possibly the only people on Earth who are positively insulted that people from other nations have failed to learn how to speak English.

It's true. If you want a laugh, go to El Paso and watch white people's reactions whenever they hear people conversing with each other in Spanish out in public. How dare they speak to each other about things that aren't my business in a language I don't understand! The belief that in America, people should be speaking English all the time everywhere they go has been around long enough that in El Paso, at least, there are a number of complex assumptions that go with it.

* Whenever someone is defending this belief, they will trot out the cliche, "If I was going to move to Germany (or France or whatever, but very rarely Mexico for some reason), I would learn their language." I hear this all the time from people who clearly haven't given it a moment's thought. Yes, it makes sense to learn, say, German if you are going to live in Germany. Of course, in El Paso there is a huge army base filled to the brim with soliders who have been stationed in Germany, some for years. And many of those soliders brought their children over to Germany to enroll them in school there, but only in the English-speaking schools on the American bases. Very, very few people I know of who were stationed in Germany, even for long periods of time, learned a lick of German. But strangely, you never hear the "if you live there learn it" crowd chewing those soliders out for this.
* It's assumed that if you hear someone speaking Spanish, they don't know English, regardless of the situation. And it's beginning to go the other way, where many people hear someone speaking English and they assume that they don't know Spanish. This attitude always amazes me, because El Paso probably has one of the highest percentages of bilingual citizens of anywhere in the country.
* There's a hierarchy of languages. If someone hears two people, particularly two women, speaking Spanish to each other, they will get the disgusted. If someone walks up to a clerk in a store and explains in halting English that they don't really know English and could a Spanish-speaking clerk help them, they often get hostile treatment. But if this situation occurs with an uncommon language like French or German, it's rare that someone gets upset.
* If someone doesn't know English and only knows Spanish, it's assumed that they must be a lazy immigrant. That many people out shopping on a Saturday in El Paso actually live in Juarez and therefore have no real need to learn English is ignored. I know of no one who feels the compulsion to learn Spanish so that they can go shopping in Juarez, though everyone does go shopping in Juarez.

Well, the language thing is kinda funny, if unfortunate. But this whole military build-up on the border is a serious situation. It can only escalate an already hostile-ish border situation. I don't know why anyone thinks that's a good idea.

Sometimes it's all I can do to avoid despair

Pinko Feminist Hellcat on a defense attorney's outrageous claim that a passed out rape victim actually victimized her rapists by making herself so rape-able.

Whenever something like this makes the news, the Townhall-types run around looking for someone secular, liberal, female or non-white to blame. Porn is to blame. Parents who don't treat their girls like criminals and lock them in the house are to blame. Hip-hop is to blame. Free condoms are to blame. Bill Clinton's consensual sexual relationships are to blame.
Whenever you next hear a conservative commentator say these things, consider this. It is also the Townhall, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter crowd that is running around and decrying diplomacy, peacefulness, tolerance, and sexual equality as furthering the "feminization" or "pussification" of our culture. Their audience is predominantly the middle-aged men of this country, the very ones who are charged with the task of teaching teenage boys what it means to be men.
Just something to consider.