Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Illustrating the same sex marriage debate

Hilarious! Ampersand draws it out for you how those opposed to same-sex marriage really are thinking only of children.





Here's why.


Baseball fans are less than flattered by having Dick "Fuck" Cheney use the the Yankees vs. Red Sox as a photo op.

During the singing of "God Bless America" in the seventh inning, an image of Cheney was shown on the scoreboard. It was greeted with booing, so the Yankees quickly removed the image.

By BushCo standards, it was a rousing success of course. Who cares if the rabble boo as long as the seat in the skybox is secure?

Update: Dammit, Blondesense beat me to it. And realized that they may just be booing impotence.

Giving propagandists a good name

Right Hook at Salon quotes a great on-air flip-out over Fahrenheit 9/11 from Hugh Hewitt on Fox News:

"The movie gives propagandists a bad name. At least it could have been well-made anti-American tripe. Instead it is a crudely made and insufferably dull march through the fever swamps of the unhinged left. It is pulling in big bucks, which is a testament to the disposable income of the swamp residents, but put me down as one in favor of even broader distribution and bigger box offices for the picture. It is an anchor around John Kerry's neck as ordinary Americans not filled with self-loathing will despise Moore for his transparent lies and not trust a political party that does not reject them ... "

Wow, the assumptions you have to have for that to make even the smallest lick of sense!
For one thing, you have to believe Fox News is giving propagandists a good name. And that this gives propaganda a good name:

And of course, you have to accept that no matter how well-verified, a fact becomes a "transparent lie" simply by seeing how it might not support the BushCo agenda.
But my favorite assumption is that the only reason that the movie did so well at the box office is because liberals are so incredibly rich. Because you have to have piles of cash lying around to afford that budget-breaking $10 it takes to see the movie. Actually, my ticket was $8.25, a small sum to my millionaire self.
Closer to the truth might be that yes, for someone like me, $8.25 is a bit high to go see a movie. Fahrenheit 9/11 was the first movie I've seen in a theater since, um, School of Rock or possibly Return of the King. See! I'm a rich liberal, rolling in the dough, having actually paid this outrageous sum to see 3 whole movies in a year's time!
Certainly, the working class existence of George W. Bush and the tuxedo-wearing working class he calls "his base" in the movie is beneath my snooty rich sneaker-wearing ass. God knows none of them have $8.25 to go see a movie, and it's downright incompassionate of us to just willfully go to the movies like this, almost rubbing their noses in the fact that $8.25 is the sort of disposable cash they can only dream of.

How can you tell a Nazi?

Why compare Democrats to Nazis? A lot of people have been discussing this question, because no matter what the mealy-mouthed BushCo dodge is, the fact of the matter is that they made a commercial that is a series of images of Democrats raising their voices intercut with images of one of Hitler's barking speeches. I mean, on the surface it seems obvious--it's a standard Rovian tactic to go after the lowest common denominator. (Remember how McCain's family was used to whip up racism in South Carolina?) But, as a lot of people have pointed out, this has a really good chance of coming back on the Republicans, as people will be seeing this specifically as Bush crossing the line.
But I think there's another reason for the commercial that has little to do with the Democrats and more to do with soothing their voters' worst fears about the direction of the party during wartime. The commercial serves to reassure the voters that it's easy to spot a fascist. You can tell them because they're the ones shouting and goose-stepping. And therefore as long as everyone agrees to abhor shouting and goose-stepping, then there's no chance that neo-fascism will creep into right wing rhetoric.
Well, this should be a very bothersome trend, because it's a deliberate refusal to learn from history. It should be obvious to anyone that if the Nazis had run around shouting all the time that they would have gone nowhere fast. No, fascism had to sell itself on a pile of polite denial and teary-eyed patriotism. We like to imagine that Hitler ran around drooling on himself and shouting all the time and that the Germans thought this was splendid for some reason. But the truth is that a lot of effort was put into making Hitler seem like a great guy. There were pictures of him in the magazines and newspapers of him playing with his dogs, hanging around outside, having fun, looking relaxed. The press cooed over the fact that he was austere in his personal habits, that he didn't even eat meat.
Fascism wasn't sold on hate so much as on nationalism. If you ever get a chance to look at the Nazi kitsch, you can get a good idea of what fascism meant to ordinary people. (Luckily, the Germans love kitsch as much as Americans.) A professor of mine from Germany had a clock from that era that had a picture of Hitler looking over a rising sun gloriously lighting up the German countryside and the look on his face was one of teary-eyed patriotism. A small swastika ticked off the seconds. The swastika actually moved backwards, which our prof interpreted to mean that it was a small act of protest, which is why he kept it. Personally, I agree with Margaret Cho, that we need to keep that kitsch because it reminds us of this fact, that Nazis were ordinary people and not a bunch of snarling monsters. That the swastika was used to keep seconds spoke to me about how ordinary that symbol was. I doubt that the owner bought the clock so much to show support for the Holocaust as to feel proud of his/her country.
The lesson is a deeply uncomfortable one. If America ever turned towards fascism, it wouldn't look like a politician standing up in front of a bunch of swastikas and barking at the crowd in German. Or even English. No, it would be sold with the American flag and the bald eagle and the "Star-Spangled Banner". Just like the Germans, we are vulnerable to arguments about moral purity, that there is a constant threat of sexual perversions that deplete our energies and replace our fighting spirit with weakness.
I'm not saying that conservatives are neo-fascists. But I do find it troubling that they are trying to appeal to people's need to believe that fascism is easy to spot because of the shouting. I hope that it was an accident, and not a deliberate attempt to mislead people on the subject of what fascism looks like.


As for the whole "technicality" argument that the "Wild-Eyed" commercial isn't "technically" comparing Democrats to Nazis, since the clip originally came from a MoveOn ad, apparently the Fox News pundits don't actually believe that. Media Matters has a pundit pretty much admitting that the use of the clip is a clever way to juxtapose Hitler yelling and Gore yelling.

But I've got to ask you something. I thought this spot [the Bush-Cheney '04 video posted on on June 25] brilliantly put together side by side Al Gore's raging, maniacal rant next to Adolf Hitler. It was actually pretty cleverly done.

And then he lies, saying that Kerry sponsored the original ads through "a Kerry machine". Boy, if Democratic party members won't give in and call Bush "Hitler", then they're just going to have to pretend they did.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Abstinence only education taken too far for even Texas

It's fairly well-known that Texas has a huge influence on what information gets put into public school textbooks that are made for the entire country, and that religious wingnuts have a huge influence on Texas public schoolbooks. And while Texas is no fan of giving kids useful information on how to use contraception and STD protection, the new health textbooks submitted by Holt, Rinehart and Winston and Glencoe/McGraw-Hill are so ridiculous in their "cold showers prevent AIDS" misinformation that it even surprises me that they were found to meet curriculum standards.

For example, Holt, Rinehart and Winston's "Lifetime Health" lists 10 steps for students to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. The use of latex condoms is not one of them. Students are advised, however, to get plenty of rest.

Who knew that lots of naps prevented HIV? Anyway, any moron could see that these books, which don't include any information about contraception or STD prevention, do not fit state standards, which are already low:

The books, which will replace 11-year-old texts, were found by panels of educators and citizens to meet state curriculum standards, including one which requires students to "analyze the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of barrier protection and other contraceptive methods including the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, keeping in mind the effectiveness of remaining abstinent until marriage."

The necessary information is in supplemental materials, which I imagine cash-strapped schools are loath to keep buying year after year. But since only one member of the textbook review panel, which has been notoriously hijacked by members of the religious right, is protesting the deliberate misinformation being presented as "facts" in these health textbooks, I imagine they'll probably get approved and distributed in the schools. And remember, folks, that where Texas goes, so does much of the nation. Even if you don't live in Texas, you can probably look forward to your teenagers coming home thinking naps prevent HIV and pregnancy.
Of course, when I was in high school, we didn't have much sex ed at all. All we had was a two week course in junior high school where the pill was discussed once and a biology teacher who took it upon herself to make herself available for questions we had about condom use.

Since the Houston Chronicle link isn't working anymore, here's more information. And another.

Taming feral cats

A post on the feasibility of taming feral cats at Cat Out Loud. I found this interesting, because my female cat was feral once and was about a year old when she was picked up by the feral cat program and fixed. During her recovery period, the woman she was staying with felt that she was tame enough to be adopted, so she was turned over to the adoption agency. They had already clipped her ear in half, which is how they mark feral cats that have been fixed already.
The agency resisted giving her to us initially and tried to push a curtain-clawing kitten on us instead. They said that formerly feral cats are skittish, and I guess they thought we'd be loud and make her jumpy or whatever. We eventually talked them into handing the cat over already.
And she's fine. She sits in my boyfriend's lap while he's watching TV and sleeps on top of me when I sleep. Like the other feral cats Cat describes, she prefers to attack you for a petting while you're sleeping or on the toilet. And for some reason, she thinks that eating is a good way to get pet, so she demands that you follow her to her bowl so you can pet her while she eats. She's a little shy, but not very, not really.
I don't have much else to add to the whole feral cat discussion except that, and I'm adding Cat Out Loud to my blogroll.

Time to come clean

Trish Wilson has a post about a blogger who was lying about his identity for 3+ years, claiming to be a woman with a rather detailed and upsetting past, but he is in fact a married man of 35. I realize how hurtful it is now to lie to your readers, mislead them about who you are and what your life is like. So, I've decided to come clean about something I've lied about in the past.

My cat is not a Republican. He is on the RNC mailing list, though.

As you can see, he's not too happy to find out I've been lying about him. Posted by Hello

Ralph Nader is a right wing tool

David Neiwert articulates why it's so wrong, and yet so revealing, for Nader to be using right wing resources to get himself on the ballot.

But even clearer now is what I only suspected in 2000, which is that Nader is a right-wing tool. I'm not saying that to demonize the man, but simply as a strategic reality. He's a stalking horse for progressive votes whose most ardent silent supporters are Bushevik conservatives, and his continuing flirtations with rightist elements underscores this fact in a poignant way -- because they call into serious question Nader's progressive credentials.

I remember that when I complained about his supporters going to places where they can be assured to find conservatives who will sign their petitions to get Nader on the ballot, there were a few people who told me that it seemed reasonable. But it seemed to me that he's managed to get well-meaning progressives to hit the streets and effectively work with conservatives to get Bush elected. And now he's taking on conservative politics. Hopefully, this will drive a few progressives back to the Democratic party.

More gambling with people's lives

Well, it scores political points, so who cares who dies?
Body and Soul on whether or not Bush is actually promoting the one thing that we know slows down the spread of AIDS--condom use. Short answer: No.
South Knox Bubba has this to say about Bush's bullshit.
Even if they do progress to taking away condoms and handing out Bibles, don't think this means that you can rip out pages from the Bible and use those instead of condoms. Thin Bible pages do not, I repeat, do not prevent pregnancy or the spread of STD's.


I've been so busy with house stuff that I completely missed that yesterday was the 35th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. Elayne Riggs remembered and cobbled together some really good links. Always fun reading about people fighting back against police oppression. And while there's still people in this country who would like to see the police rounding up gays just for being themselves, I think we can safely say that is far from the majority opinion now.
This article she links to from the Daily News reporting on the riot that day 35 years ago is a hoot.

The crowd began to get out of hand, eye witnesses said. Then, without warning, Queen Power exploded with all the fury of a gay atomic bomb. Queens, princesses and ladies-in-waiting began hurling anything they could get their polished, manicured fingernails on. Bobby pins, compacts, curlers, lipstick tubes and other femme fatale missiles were flying in the direction of the cops. The war was on. The lilies of the valley had become carnivorous jungle plants.

I would pay alot of money to have seen that.

Color me skeptical

The number of elective C-sections is supposedly up. There may be something I'm missing here, but I'm skeptical. Why would any woman choose to deliver in a way that's more invasive, more dangerous, leaves scars, is more painful, and is more expensive?
And who are these doctors that don't spell this out for them?
The woman in this story claims that she elected to have a C-section because she didn't want to go through labor, I'm guessing because she was afraid of the pain. But that seems ill-informed to me, considering the C-sections are painful in and of themselves and they take longer to recover from.
I don't know. Maybe she's watched too much TV, where labor is always shown as this incredibly painful experience that turns ordinary women into screeching harpies, but where surgery is a lark that takes mere minutes to bounce back from, at least according to the "Plastic surgery is great!" shows.
But I'm sure there's something I'm missing here. Anyone have an idea what I'm missing?

Monday, June 28, 2004

Nit-picky meanie liberals are at it again

Don't they know their leader, uber-nerd Al Gore, kinda sorta didn't lose the election? Now they're picking on the poor ol' Shrub for not knowing exactly how some stupid phrase really goes. I mean, c'mon, it's not like it's commonly used. The most famous example of the phrase is buried in some stupid speech that only nerds who stayed after school doing extra credit for the super special A++ grade would know.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

I mean, who would know that? And even Dr. King, who apparently wrote this speech, was taking the nerdy phrase from some song that no one's ever heard of.

My country,' tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;
land where my fathers died,
land of the pilgrims' pride,
from every mountainside let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
land of the noble free, thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
thy woods and templed hills;
my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
and ring from all the trees sweet freedom's song;
let mortal tongues awake;
let all that breathe partake;
let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.

Our fathers' God, to thee,
author of liberty, to thee we sing;
long may our land be bright
with freedom's holy light;
protect us by thy might, great God, our King.

I mean, I can see that this song might be the sort of thing you might want to drag out and get out there again, since it will have alot of appeal to those Jesus people that know all about how the Constitution came from the Bible and all that. But still, even I know these kinds of messages might not go over so well with campaign contributors. I mean, rocks and trees and stuff? That sounds kind of squishy enviromentalist to me, tree-hugging, anti-American stuff. You certainly wouldn't want the Iraqis knowing about our tree-huggers, they might get ideas and stuff that it's not so cool tearing up their entire country to get at some oil so that our over-sized cars can pollute the air some more.
Really, I'm glad that the Prez couldn't remember the exact phrase. First, you have freedom ringing instead of reigning and next thing you know you have to pay attention in class and people think you're an asshole for driving an Expedition (seats 9) back and forth 50 miles to work round-trip by yourself everyday. "Reign" looks fancier than "ring" anyhow.

Voter registration slight-of-hand

The Smoking Gun, probably succumbing to the weird urge to attack liberals unfairly to seem "fair and balanced" has gone after what they perceive to be lying by Michael Moore on his voter registration and party affiliation. August Pollak has a good refutation.
It's good, but it's also more detailed than necessary. All TSG has is evidence that Moore registered in New York, where he lives, and also in Michigan, where I guess he's moved back with his family. (Which doesn't surprise me. What little I know about Moore's family leads me to believe that they are deeply involved in Michigan communities and it's probably easier on his family life to live in Michigan.) His New York registration is still active, but I don't really see the relevance of that, unless he casts two ballots. For all the times I've moved around the state of Texas and re-registered, I've never bothered to cancel a former registration. Granted, that's in state, but I've known of friends who moved away and registered in their new states without cancelling a former registration, mostly because I doubt it seemed necessary. You vote where you're registered, period. I doubt it would even occur to most of us that it's possible to have a dual registration at all.
As for the party affiliation, I know what they're doing and it's nonsense. It looks like they are trying to turn the ass-whupping Al Franken gave to Lyin' O'Reilly on his party affiliation claims. For those who haven't read the book, O'Reilly claimed party independence to prove that his show was in fact not a partisan show. However, he actually registered as a Republican, a fact that Franken dug up pretty easily.
Well, Moore did the same thing, didn't he? Well, yes and no. He claimed not to be a party member, which is fair in the sense that he has quite publically thrown his support to the Green Party in the past and does not campaign for the Democrats, spout their talking points or any of the nonsense that O'Reilly does on his "fair and balanced" show. But mostly I think that party affiliation is important for O'Reilly in a way that it's not for Moore because of the relative amounts of cover-up and lying that they do about their motives.
Moore has never claimed to be "fair and balanced". That's why the attacks on him that mirror attacks on Fox News are not fair; he never claimed to be a news network that's reporting unbiased news. He's cheerfully and openly liberal, and therefore it should surprise no one that he checked "Democrat" when he registered. Moore quarrels with the Democrats because they are not liberal enough for him. But O'Reilly claimed to be a party independent for a totally different reason. He wanted to give the impression that he was centrist and open to liberal arguments, so that he could pass off hard-line conservative arguments as normative, centrist arguments. To bolster his false image as a centrist, he lied about his party affiliation.
Get that, TSG? Moore's claims of not being a Democrat were really not attempts to mislead his audience about his intentions, since he makes no effort to hide that he's a liberal. O'Reilly's were ugly attempts to pull the center rightward by disguising his hard-right opinions as centrist. There is a pretty big difference there.

Almost as bad as voting for Nader

Canadians have taken to eaten their ballots to protest sucky candidates. This is not recommended for the upcoming 2004 American election, as any digested ballots the Freepers can pull out of toilets will be counted as Bush votes, for intuitive reasons.

The women's vote shouldn't be taken for granted

Anna Quindlen writes on the women's vote and the effect of good girl stereotyping. She makes a good point, that the relationship between women and the Democratic party has drifted into habit and therefore is threatening to fall apart. Women don't get fired up about political issues that are important. Women don't vote as much as they should. But the Democrats need to quit expecting the women's vote out of gratitude and start working hard for it.
Well, it's impossible to get women as a group fired up out of their own energy. "Women" is a concept. Actual women are individuals, not parts of a machine or an institution. Speak to concerns many of them have and you will get more on your side. So, in my opinion, we can't just chastise "women" for not being involved. (Anyway, the ones you chastise are the ones who read the magazines, etc. and are already involved.) The Democratic party is going to have to court women and remind them of exactly why the Dems are the party for them.

They're counting on the gratitude factor. Democrats better than Republicans, 14 female senators better than none, America better than Afghanistan.

Alarmingly, the Democrats don't seem to get what it really means that more men are Republicans and more women are Democrats and how that makes their standing with women precarious. It doesn't take a statiscian to look at that fact and realize that there must be cross-pollinating between Republican men and Democratic women going on, and even though we live in more feminist times, the Dems can't guarantee that female votes won't cross over simply because they are giving into spousal pressure. I may be over-worrying it, but I've seen elsewhere that married women tend to vote more conservatively than single women. Not only do the Democrats not speak to single women, but they don't seem to be doing any work whatsoever to keep those women's loyalities when they marry and are pressured to become more conservative.
I know that sounds horribly unfeminist on one level, but I don't think it is. It's a fact that these pressures exist and I think they can be fought back by speaking directly to women about things of importance to them. With the reassurance that the Democrats really are fighting the good fight on equal wages, reproductive rights, and family issues, women have substantial reasons to vote Democratic instead of just doing so because they always have. "Always have" is a reason that falls away quickly when family pressures come into play.
It's been said before, but it's worth saying again, that the best measure of how good a society is doing is how well the women are doing. If Democrats approach female voters with that attitude, then they can expect a healthy response.

Via Feministing.

Time to smoke 'em out

Sex workers are gearing up for Republican convention-driven business. Blondesense has a great idea, to make a documentary following the prostitutes who will be servicing the members of the party of godliness, virtue, morality, blah blah. The only problem is that discretion is part of the average sex worker's job, so I doubt you'll get any kind of cooperation on this.
But boy, it's tempting to use this convention to smoke out the hypocrites, isn't it?

Sunday, June 27, 2004


Fahrenheit 9/11, #1 in weekend box office receipts.

Remind me again why it is Americans are supposedly a bunch of right-wingers?

Missing the point

Once again, in their desperation to seem not too feminist or sexually unhip, Salon has missed the point entirely. They blindly insist that the only possible reason that people dog-piled Jack Ryan was because we are blushing prudes. Well, I can assure Ms Burana that those of us who think Ryan is an asshole, a twit, and a hypocrite don't think so because we weren't aware of exhibtionism. No, we just believe that if a politician feels that he can use the law, particularly a Constitutional amendment, to discriminate against people because of their sexual behavior, he'd better be prepared to offer up his sex life for careful examination to make sure that it is pure and holy as well. Does Jack Ryan profess a belief that discrimination against people because of their sexual desires is righteous? Let's examine what he says.

Homosexuals deserve the same constitutional protections, safeguards, and human dignity as every American, but they should not be entitled to special rights based on their sexual behavior.

Granted, he said "special rights", but we all know that's inflammatory rhetoric to describe "equal rights". The idea of it is that since he, Jack Ryan, could not be discriminated against because of homosexual behavior, then it's not discrimination. By that logic, since I am not a victim of racism, being white, it must not exist.
Anyway, he is for legal discrimination against people who have sexual proclivities that are outside of the Republican-defined norm. And you know what? Exhibitionism is outside of that norm, too. So, by his own logic, he not only doesn't have a special right not to be discriminated against, but it's our social obligation to smoke him out so we can discriminate against him.
And I'm not even going to go into how moronic the idea that tricking a woman into going into a sex club and then unleashing emotional abuse on her for her reluctance to have sex in public isn't "some ham-handed clueless guy 'encouragement'".

The necessity of gore

Tbogg links to another weak-minded justification of the violence in The Passion.

Sometimes gore is the story. And we have to understand the gore to understand the evil that precipitated the gore. We need to put the gore in perspective. That's why I think we need to see more gore from the folks who love to dish it out.
We need to understand the reality of that gore, and we need to understand it again and again. That's why I differ from my colleagues in the media, even the fine organization with whom I'm associated, FOX News, when I say, show me those beheadings of innocents like Paul Johnson and 33-year-old South Korean humanitarian worker Kim Sun-il.

I concur completely! People need to have their noses rubbed in gore sometimes. They particularly need to see it when it is violence caused by the actions of their government, elected democratically, at least in theory. I'm glad the right is all over the idea of bringing the war home to people, by showing beheadings by terrorist insurgents. I'm sure they also want to be honest and show the caskets of teenage American soliders coming home. I'm sure that they want to show the bodies of murdered or mutilated Iraqi civilians who were standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's why we got vigorous protest from the right against BushCo's "no photos of coffins" policy. And I'm sure that's why they are first in line to see Michael Moore's new movie, because they want to make sure that they understand how awful it is to blow off the limbs of children because they just happen to be Iraqi.

Oh, I'm sorry. I was just informed that the right doesn't actually defend showing the cost of this war unless it can be directed into racism and nationalism. Hard to believe, considering this passage:

Show me the senselessness of their killings. Show me the evil behind their killings. Show me it. Show me all of it. And don't sanitize it. Don't blur it, mask it, color it or frame it. Don't gloss over it and try to make us not see it or be appalled by it. You see, I want us appalled. I want us angry. I want us outraged. I want us sickened.

Again, agreed! Show us Iraqis who were shot up for attending weddings, going to school, just standing there. Show us soliders who died fighting for no explicable reasons. If we are going to commit to war, show us what that means! Oh wait, apparently he means that the only violence that we should show is that of terrorists against us. How that is a good way to show people the totality of the situation is beyond me. I try, but it's hard for me to think that someone's death is somehow less important because it can't be harnessed to get votes for Bush.
Actually, The Passion does have some bearing on this whole attitude. During the controversy around that movie, I was dutifully informed by a rather alarming number of people that Christ suffered more in death than anyone else in history. Apparently, if he didn't, then their whole faith falls apart for some reason. Whenever I hear this, I always point out that crucifying people was the standard punishment in Roman times. Hell, the Bible says that there were two others killed with him that day! It's not a contest, but it really is ridiculous to claim that Christ was delivered a suffering beyond that which any other human has ever had to deal with.
But that reasonable point falls on deaf ears. Christ suffered more because he's important to believers. Others are not loved so their suffering is irrelevant. That logic is employed here--suffering only counts if it's an American suffering. And even then, it only counts if it's politically advantageous.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Lighter stuff

Okay, if you want my long-winded and boring opinions on Fahrenheit 9/11, read the last post. This is just a quick report on how fun it was to see it at my favorite movie theater, The Alamo Drafthouse. It's run by a couple of true-believing film geeks and it shows. Going there will renew your enthusiasm for movies, that's for sure.
Anyway, I pulled up 20 minutes until the movie began. There were signs all over the ticket booth declaring that Fahrenheit 9/11 was sold out. It had been sold out for all night by mid-afternoon, so I expected that. Then I saw something I have never seen at a movie. A man was scalping tickets in front of the theater. No joke. He had the whole thing down, waving them in the air, yelling the movie's name. A couple people wandered over and talked to him. I walked in but I think I heard someone else start scalping more.
One of the great things about the Alamo Drafthouse is that they try to make the whole period where you have your seat but the movie hasn't started interesting. When I walked in, the infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was off on a rant. It's hard to dislike Alex, even though he acts like a Jack Russell terrier on crack. He drifts close to reason quite often and a number of otherwise smart people have made alliances with him. Alex is a right-winger of sorts, a genuine libertarian. He said he really liked the movie, but that he felt it didn't go far enough. He was hawking his videos telling the "real" story of 9/11, as well as shirts mocking Bush that I was tempted to buy. When radicals like Jim Hightower and myself suggest that a genuine populism could pull right wingers like Alex Jones into the fold, we aren't kidding. The crowd was happy to have him. I told him I liked him, and it's the truth.
It was good that Alex Jones was there, because his theories are a good example of real conspiracy theories. I've heard noises claiming that Moore is peddling conspiracy theories, which is a way to equate him with the JFK assasination freaks and people like Alex Jones who think that the masters of the world are carefully organized and have regular meetings that involve Satanism. Moore isn't close. He just points out the truth--that our current leaders are ass-deep in Middle East oil money and that might be clouding their judgement.
After Alex spoke, they showed the usual round of trailers and ads. However, the Alamo Drafthouse fucks with the formula and makes it entertaining. They showed a piece from Moore's show "The Awful Truth", where he actually tries to have white collar criminals arrested and brought to jail like other criminals and fails. After that, the lowered the lights and showed the trailers. But those trailers were mixed in with submissions from the contest. Next weekend, you can see a whole bunch of submissions, much fun. We got to see two. In one, the subject was "What if the Bush administration was a parent?" and showed the parents treating a child like shit and taking out debts in her name. The other was, "What if Bush were a roommate?" and it showed two roommates furious and inept in the face of their roommate who has decided to decorate and that their input is irrelevant.
Then they showed a remix of the State of the Union address, which was hilarious.
Again, go see your movies there. They make even the dinkiest movie feel like an event.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Saw Fahrenheit 9/11

Don't read if you don't want to be spoiled.
I had an idea that I would sit down and write everything in the movie that was an indisputable fact and blog them, so that liberals who buy into the conservative myth that one exaggeration or misstep disqualifies an entire argument might be wowed.
To me, it was simple. The facts of what BushCo has done since 9/11 to consolidate power, enrich the rich on the backs of working people, and destroy dissent are not in dispute, not really. The amount of information regarding the situation is overwhelming. If Moore could gather it up, streamline it, and present it in an engaging way, I was ready to hand him his laurels.
A lot of people say that no one will see this movie that isn't already educated in all the crap and already against Bush, but I don't buy that. The fact is that movies reach way more people than any other medium other than TV can. Also, as the movie progressed, it became apparent that even someone who reads the papers every day, hell, even someone who reads the papers, the journals, the blogs, the editorials, and watches the news as well as the Daily Show might get so lost in the bullshit and minutiae that the big picture is hard to grasp. This movie could serve us very well, by presenting some kind of unified version of what's going on, an big picture to get people thinking. That does not mean that it's coercive or simplistic. But a big picture view is necessary, if only to bounce ideas off of.
Well, Moore accomplished what I hoped and a whole lot more. Some friends saw it earlier in the day and called me up and gushed and practically cried. (Beware, pretentious language ahead.) Moore had a lot of information to cram into his movie, but he did so with ease and elegance because he is a genuine auteur. He functions as a great auteur does, with an unwavering vision. And his vision was more clear at the end of this movie than any other of his I've seen--Moore believes in democracy. He believes in it thoroughly, that if we really could achieve a one man one vote society, justice would be possible. He also grasps the uncomfortable concept that in a democracy, what our government does reflects on all of us and effects all of us. We all say it, but Moore really believes it. I really don't get the whole idea that he's a "faux populist"--there was nothing in his behavior or ideas that discredits ordinary Americans at all. And he's the only white media figure I can think of that really understands that race is still a massive problem. You can dispute all sorts of small things with him on race, but he looks at two facts that most white media people won't acknowledge and he does so unflinchingly--that black Americans are disproportionately poor and that black Americans are painted unfavorable as much as possible by the media. Just the fact that he allows black Americans to speak for themselves without some kind of "urban" framing device is so different from most media that you immediately realize how racist most media really is.
Well, I filled out 3 pages, back and front, with notes on what is indisputable fact in the film. That's too much to blog here. Anyway, you watch it and you realize he didn't have to puff up his film with lies, since the truth is overwhelming as it is. So, just a few notes I took that have some bearing on the zeitgeist:

*Few stories are as under-reported as the disenfranchisement of black voters in the 2000 election. Tellingly, a number of representatives stood up and protested that if nothing else, stopping the recount in Florida was racist. Al Gore was a model of fairness, forcing the representatives to obey the rules while betraying sympathy to their cause, which was voter enfranchisement as much as anything. His voice cracked but he never wavered. The representatives uniformly insisted on addressing V.P. Gore as Mr. President. This was the first time I cried, and it was 2 minutes in. I cried, because I know how fond Republicans are saying that if the black vote didn't count....
*The protests at the inauguration were really ugly. Some shots reminded me of the 1968 Democratic convention. The Republican convention in New York is going to be a disaster. I hope that anyone who plans on going takes lots and lots of pictures.
*I didn't know that Bandar and Bush were having dinner on the same day that the Bin Laden family was flown out. I didn't know that Bandar defended this action on TV. There's no denying it.
*He drew on Bowling for Columbine beautifully, taking his theory that we are kept cowed by fear and applying it elegantly to the shop-fear-shop-fear messages that come from BushCo.
*We've all heard the horror stories of how the PATRIOT Act has been used to intimidate ordinary people. Well, you get to see them, and it brings it home how ordinary they are.
*I remembered that we amazed over being allowed to bring a lighter on board months ago at the airport, even though my mother had a nail file confiscated. He addresses this disparity and resolves tons of research in one, very accurate shot to explain why that would be.
*He shows shots of ordinary people in Baghdad. I've read critics who complain that he was arguing that they were free people with these shots. I disagree. It reminded me of an incident a week before we invaded. We were at a happy hour visiting with a friend and he told us that his wife was expecting in 6 months. After a round of congrats, he dug into his backpack and pulled out a bunch of fliers. He handed me one--it was a woman with her hair covered holding a smiling boy no more than 3 in her lap. "These are the people they are going to kill. Please hand out these fliers," he said. I sympathized but felt like no one in my neighborhood was really pro-war so it might be a waste. Make of that what you will.
*Someone needed to do a really good montage of the assertions that Iraq has WMD's juxtaposed with assertions that they never said such a thing. That part of the movie should be excerpted and shown ad nauseum.
*The audience laughed when a guy said the President should know that his policies are killing people, as he personally, dude from Flint, had written an email.
*The people he interviews are rock solid, ordinary American types. The 2nd half of the movie is a love letter to ordinary people. Soliders are given free range to speak their minds. So are their families. The real pain of trying to do the right thing and do your job while knowing that shit is seriously fucked up is explored well and sympathetically. I realize some will disagree, since we actually see what happens when soliders shoot civilians. But I say that this unflinching willness to show the violence in Iraq is the only way to give the soliders credit; otherwise it's easy to discount how miserable we're really making their lives.

Impressions. Go see the movie!

My cat, the Republican

Max Power saw Michael Moore's new movie. As you can see, he's none too happy about it. So, go see it! It's pissing off Republican cats everywhere. Posted by Hello

The family values of Jack Ryan

In all their glory.

I believe that marriage can only be defined as that union between one man and one woman.

And all the people who that the husband wishes to have sex in front of, if only to prove that he gets to fuck a TV actress.

Homosexuals deserve the same constitutional protections, safeguards, and human dignity as every American, but they should not be entitled to special rights based on their sexual behavior.

But if you're a Republican politician, you do deserve the special right to demand public sex from your wife in exchange for dinner. Ordinary husbands, whether gay or straight, don't have this special right and they know it.

The breakdown of the family over the past 35 years is one of the root causes of some of our society’s most intractable social problems-criminal activity, illegitimacy, and the cyclical nature of poverty.

And that's why I treated my wife as little more than a sex toy and drove her to divorce me. Because if anything is more important than keeping the family together, it's the right of a good, old-fashioned Republican to fuck his wife in public.

Remember, fellas. First they let wives turn down public sex and next thing you know, they're making you marry a man.

Thanks, Atrios.

Cognitive dissonance

Mary at Pacific Views has a great post on why it's been such a hard long fight for the truth about Iraq to start chipping away at Bush's approval ratings. Basically, the issue is one of cognitive dissonance and the psychological theory of resistance. The more invested in an idea a person is, the more distress they will have at learning that they are wrong, and therefore the more likely they are to reject learning that they are wrong.
It's my theory, and I'm not sure how much the psychological establishment agrees with me, that one of the great weapons that wears down the resistance from cognitive dissonance is time. People are presented with new information and they reject it, but the information doesn't go away and they learn to live with it and their resistance goes down. You see this all the time with conservative thought--new things are immediately rejected but within a few years they are commonplace and conservatives are beginning to think they invented the new thing. Take civil rights as a good example. Conservatives resisted it and pandered to open racism. Now racism is considered wrong and many conservatives act like would be hitting the streets with MLK if it was happening today.
Anyway, the spinmeisters of BushCo know this happens and I think, unlike some of the commenters, that they knew that after it was revealed that they had lied to get us into Iraq, they could only buy a few months before the truth settled in and everyone started hating them. I doubt they thought they could hide it forever. They just had to hide it long enough to skate by in the next election.
And that's why the cover-ups were so haphazard. For one thing, cover-ups are always haphazard. But mostly I think that they didn't see their lies about Iraq (amongst other things) as long-term secrets. They just needed to stall the truth long enough to squeak past the election.
Timing the war was critical and they screwed up. It had to be close enough to 9/11 to use the events of that day to work people into a frenzy. But couldn't be too far from the election, because when the truth came out, cognitive dissonance was only buying them a year, max. My guess is that they thought they could draw out the are-there-or-aren't-there WMD's debate a little bit longer. But unfortunately for them, our military may be a little too good and they squelched the notion that there were tons of WMD's rather quickly.
So it's time for argument #2, which might have worked, since people were suffering from cognitive dissonance (are you sure I was wrong that the war was a good idea?) and they were grasping for relief. #2 provided that relief--we were there to save people. (See, it was a good idea.) And all the needed to do was stall those pictures of torture just long enough to coast through the election. But the couldn't do it.
And that's what they are doing with the censorship attempts at Fahrenheit 9/11. They don't really think that they can actually stop people from seeing this movie; they just want to stall it's release. At this point, an "every second counts" attitude has sunk in. The sooner people get the new information, the sooner their brains will start tearing down their resistance, which is low already due to their anger at the lies and the torture.
They're fooling themselves, though. The floodgates have opened and his poll numbers are beginning their dive. Stalling this movie for a month wouldn't help much. And I really do think by the time the Democratic Convention rolls around, people will be really open to what John Kerry might have to say.

I'm going to the movies......

I'm lazy and usually I wait for stuff to come out on DVD before I'll watch it. But I'm going to see Fahrenheit 9/11 tonight. In part, because I'm really looking forward to it. But also because the message needs to get through to the blockheads that are doing everything in their power to censor Michael Moore: Censorship is un-American and if you try to censor somebody, you will just garner sympathy for them.
Anyway, alot of liberals are running around doing what we do best, which is handicap people who are effective at getting our message out. For awhile, it seemed like people were racing to disclaim Moore first. Well, the real bad guys have shown their faces, what with the censorship attempts that reach all the way to death threats doled out to theater owners and blatant lying by the right wing punditry. But I can see what some people might be reluctant to go see the movie. Moore is a blowhard, badly dressed, and dramatic, certainly not the polite, pulled-together Bill Moyers liberals that many would rather see. But you should see the movie anyway, so I compiled a list of reasons to go see it.

Top Ten Reasons to See Fahrenheit 9/11 and Soon

10) Because Ray Bradbury is being an ass.
9) Because even if some of the info in it is suspicious, most of it is true. How can you separate the blatant truths from the fudges if you don't see it? And believe me, with all the conservatives running around claiming that it's wall-to-wall fiction, you're going to want to know how much of it is the indisputable truth.
8) Because you know you're gonna laugh.
7) Because of the now infamous 7 minute children's book sequence. I haven't seen it, but my guess is that it will remind you of what you were doing in those 7 minutes and it will bring home how incompetent Bush is. I remember what I was doing. I spent it on the phone, calling everyone I could think of in a panic while my hair was wet on one side and dry on the other.
6) Because it will be fun sitting in a roomful of people who are also angry about everything that's gone on since then and realize that you are far from alone.
5) Because you can return to your somber, wonkish analysis afterwards.
4) Because, I hear, there's footage that has rarely, if ever, been seen.
3) Because Quentin Taratino and Roger Ebert liked it, and I really think neither of them are that easy to sway with partisanship.
2) Because it will be a way to give the finger to the media's hand-wringing over "balance" which has allowed conservatives an opportunity to dominate.
1) Because money talks and if this movie kills at the box office due to a stampede of determined liberals, Hollywood will listen. And the movie will get wider distribution and start pulling in people who know little to nothing about the dirty politics of BushCo post-9/11, if just for curiousity and nothing else.

Friday cat blogging

Max wedges himself between us in bed whenever we lay underneath his favorite blanket. Posted by Hello

A great shot of Katy's fat and fluffy belly. Posted by Hello

Cursing primer

Via Atrios, we learn that Cheney is doomed to hell for telling Pat Lehey to go fuck himself. We at Mousewords agree that the frequent use of curse words is why this country is going to hell. We also agree with our Commander-in-Chief, that it doesn't count if you curse in Spanish, since good Christians don't speak Spanish and don't know what you're saying and therefore don't have the sin of having heard curse words on their soul. They are still trying to wipe the sin of seeing Janet Jackson's nipple off their soul, so it's really unfair to burden them further.
So, as a public service, Mousewords is offering a primer on Spanish substitutes for common dirty words so that you may express your uglier side without dooming the country to hell by tarnishing God's own language, English. Bear with me if my spelling or exact definitions are off. My Spanish is no better than the President's English, so I'm bound to make mistakes.

Substitute Curse Words for Republicans and Other God-fearing Politicians

1) pinche(adj): This word is an adjective, perfect for disparaging someone or something. Can be used to replace "damn" or "fucking".
Ex. This pinche car has broken down again!

2) pendejo(noun): Insulting name. It's a way of calling someone trash, but for our purposes, it's a perfect subsitute for "asshole".
Ex. That pendejo I have for a neighbor is parking his car in front of my house.

3) huevos(noun): According to the President, it means "courage". Literally, it means "eggs". It's best translated as the equivalent of "balls".
Ex. It took alot of huevos to just go up and kick that biker dude in the huevos like that.

4) puta(noun): Most people would describe it as meaning "slut", but they are just being abashed. It really means "whore".
This is a word that conservative pundits need to embrace, as it is perfect for one of the 10 Standard Conservative Editorials, specifically #4: Girls These Days Like Sex And This Is Wrong. The major problem with these editorials, besides the general philosophy, is that the word "skank" is inexplicably favored as the best word to tarnish a woman's reputation, I guess because it's somehow less of a curse word that "slut".
It's a horrible word that rattles the ears, though. I suppose it's the harshest word they could come up with that's not an actual naughty word, until now. I propose "puta" as a replacement.
Ex. Don't look now, but that puta is hitting on your man again.
*This word is also good for another common phrase, "hijo de puta"--the equivalent of "son of a bitch".

Hopefully, these 4 or 5 words will go far in cleaning up the language you hear around D.C. and we can, as a nation, get closer to God. I would include more Spanish curse words on my list, but when I asked a Spanish-speaking friend to help me, he was inexplicably offended at my theory that Spanish words don't count.

Idea for a counter-ad

You know, to the pessimism and rage crap Bush is accusing the Democrats of.
Show an apartment and two guys in it, one of them looking rather frat boy-ish, if you'd like. The frat boy is running around smashing stuff. The other one trails around protesting quite mildly. "Um, that might not be the best idea. Well, okay, if you think smashing that chair would help. Oh, that was my grandma's china, I'll never get it back. Well, if you think it's for the best."
And then after the frat boy has trashed the apartment, show him shouting out the window, "Y'all can just kiss my ass!" to all the neighbors. He turns around, smirking.
The other guy actually shows some emotion at this point. "Now, that was really uncalled for. Those are our neighbors. Why make them hate us? We might need their help one day!"
And then the frat boy loses it, going beet red and screaming, "Why do you have to be so angry all the time? You're so rude! And a pessimist to boot!"
And the other guy immediately retreats and apologizes. Camera zooms on his sad face, and the voiceover says, "Is this really how the Democrats should react to someone who's tearing up America?"

Nah, it wouldn't work. But boy, it would be funny.

Bush's new ad

If you haven't seen the new low in attack ads, go over to Bush's campaign site and check it out. Since my cat, Max Power, is a Republican*, he received an email from the campaign praising the ad today.

Dear Max,

This new video shows something unprecedented in politics - the coalition that John Kerry is building to defeat our President - a Coalition of the Wild-eyed:

As the video shows, the faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party are ones of pessimism, rage, and baseless attacks.

The choice will be clear in November. This is not a time for pessimism and rage. It's a time for optimism, steady leadership, and progress.

The ad shows a series of liberals or Democrats speaking in angry tones of voices, most notably Al Gore raising his voice in response to the cheering crowd at It also shows tiny clips from the two ads that were submitted to and yanked by the owners that compared Bush to Hitler. The Republicans made a huge stink about those ads, and the lesson was learned--if anyone compares anyone to Hitler, ever, then the tarnishes anyone who ever voted for the same candidate as the person who made the comparison. Which is why it's interesting to me that anyone watching this new ad by the Republicans who is not aware of the controversy over these two quickly-yanked submissions would walk away with this set of images:

Al Gore making a speech
Hitler making a speech
More liberals and Democrats making speeches
Hitler making a speech

It must have been inadvertent and just very bad editing, because the juxtaposition does seem to imply that Democrats are Nazis whipping a crowd of fascists into a frenzy. Especially if you just hear the soundtrack, if say, you are one of those people who uses commercial time to get up and get something to drink or eat. Or even if you are one of those people who doesn't pay incredibly detailed attention to commercials so that you can go research every shot of them on the Internet moments after they air.
I explained carefully to my cat that the party that is harboring neo-fascists is certainly not the Democrats. I explained that even though BushCo will excuse itself by saying the images come from submissions to a contest at, that this still does not make it a part of civilized discourse. Because if the Republican are going to insist that the actions of a few radicals reflect on the the Democratic party as a whole, then it is only fair for us to make a commercial that is 60 seconds of people reading the comments section at Little Green Footballs over images of Bush speaking. Or juxtapose images of militia members suiting up and arming themselves with pictures of Bush speaking. But we've refrained from doing so, even though the conservative side has allowed extremists to be put forward as mainstream pundits, something the left has refused to do. Helly, all we need to do is run an ad of the neo-fascist statements Ann Coulter has made over images of Bush speaking, things like killing Muslims, "jokes" about killing liberals, statements equating being in another political party with being a traitor.
But above all, I reminded my cat that anyone who knows even the basic fundamentals of film theory knows that juxtaposing images is filmspeak for equating, or at least relating the two, and that the audience reads that subconsciously. The first thing they show you in a film class is the scene from The Godfather where Michael Corleone is at a baptism cut with scenes of his enemies getting systematically murdered on his orders around town, reminding the audience of the ugly side of this man who looks for the world like a devout Catholic without the cutting back and forth. And even if everyone in the Republican party who approved this ad disavows even knowing what movies are, it's still impossible for the person who actually did the editing not to know that by pairing Kerry and Hitler, you were implying a connection. In fact, that was exactly the problem that the Republicans had with the MoveOn submissions.
Max said, "Meow" and went and got his ball for me to throw. I took this to mean that he didn't care and that he was going to vote for Bush anyway. But he doesn't know that cats can't vote, and even if they could he's not 18 yet, so I didn't worry about it too much.

*He is also horribly vain and signs up for free samples of all sorts of make-up and hair supplies. And he's been known to illegally download music. I don't know what I'm going to do with him. Especially if he continues to take Penthouse Magazine, even though I asked him to cancel his subscription.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Entertaining fisking of sorts

From Pop Matters, Cynthia Fuchs fisks a pathetic attempt to make a controversy out of Madonna. Not that Madonna has shied away from controversy in her past, not at all. But it is extremely silly of the media to cover her latest controversial act in awed and outraged tones, as if they didn't need her to be controversial as much as, if not more than, she needed them. But Madonna is touring again, presumably because she wants to, and her fan base is built up enough that it's likely she doesn't need to shock people to attract more fans. This interview sounds pretty mundane.
The funniest part is the desperate attempt to reignite a slut panic:

If Maddy's current activities aren't so exciting, what about her past, all that salacious and promiscuous sex? She did, after all, go through what McFadden calls a "conga line" of men, including the usually trotted out picture assembly: Sean Penn, Dennis Rodman, and Warren Beatty, all, incidentally, apparently healthy and settled into their own current lives, much as she is. "I just ripped through relationships, in a willy-nilly, completely selfish, what's in it for me?" says Madonna. Nowadays, she's all about compromise. "Step number one to a successful marriage," Madonna smiles, "is learn to apologize, right?" Plus, she's on friendly terms with Lola's dad, Carlos Leon. Not much drama there either.

A conga line? Jeez, that's not a mean thing to say, is it? Madonna sounds like she practically apologized for doing what a majority of men in her position do. If I were her, this is exactly what I would say. "Oh, I'm sorry. Was I not supposed to use my fame to get a stream of hot guys into bed? Do you ask Mick Jagger to apologize for going through a 'conga line' of women?" Nah, she was nice about it, very professional.
I don't mean to disappoint anyone who wants me to hate on Madonna. I don't have a problem with her. I'm a little puzzled that she's so famous; if our society wasn't so puritanical, her pedestrian sexual displays wouldn't have much power. I guess there's a brillance to what she's done. By talent alone, she's nothing more than an exceptional dance pop singer. She doesn't deserve to be compared to consumate musicians like Prince or Bowie, like this article does. And by that I don't mean to put her down--it's not fair in general, and it's not fair to her because it's a way of deliberately ignoring what she does do. She's managed to position herself perfectly to be shocking enough to get press but not be so shocking that she couldn't get airplay, which is a target that is actually pretty hard to hit as it's constantly moving. But she's lost her touch, which is fine. We all have to get our gray hairs.

What's the point of opposing stem cell research?

The Talent Show has a good post about stem cell research and Ron Reagan Jr.'s opinions on such. Reagan is angry, as he should be, because the anti-abortion crowd is being incredibly hypocritical about this whole thing, because they oppose stem cell research but not in vitro conception. (Hell, fertility drugs have created heroes in the every sperm is sacred crowd--look at that woman who had 7 babies but got a pass because she made a big deal out of refusing selective termination and because she mewled about loving Jesus.) Well, the can't be against fertility treatments, of course, since one of the every sperm is sacred crowd is that all women should love having babies, and lots of 'em.
So, why go after stem cell research? Well, as Greg points out, it's a nifty way to blur the distinction between human life and not human life, which is necessary if you're ever going to convince people that contraception, which has improved their lives immeasurably, is wrong. And in order to do that, you have to deceive people about biology. (Another reason to protest proper biology classes--educated people may not be properly disposed to use women's fertility to oppress them.) The attempts to define blastocysts as full human beings requires alot of ignorance of biology.
An aside: The media is being shameful uninformative on this issue, and most likely in the interest of "balance". Why isn't it common knowledge yet that most fertilized eggs don't implant and doctors don't consider a woman pregnant until there's implantation? If more people that believed that pregnancy begins at fertilization realized that therefore it's most likely they've "lost" many "pregnancies", they may be forced to reconsider. The facts aren't "balanced" and therefore they are censored.
But I think outside of all the misinformation about basic human biology, there is another reason anti-abortion forces oppose stem cell research, and it's just more disingenous propaganda. I'd like to see a poll taken on stem cell research asking people where they think that the embryos come from--my guess is that the majority of people, particularly in heavily fundie areas of the country, think that they come from abortions. Which, of course, they do not.
Contraception foes are well-known for comparing contraception and abortion with eugenics and genocide. (Irritating, to be sure, since we squishy liberals are far from trying to shove contraception on anyone to kill them off.) Most people aren't buying it. But if they can somehow convince people that wicked scientists are killing babies to experiment on them, well, that's bound to make people uncomfortable. It's going to turn more people against abortion, and as a side bonus, it will make them suspicious of scientists who are actually trying to help people.
So, what to do? Bring up in vitro fertilization everytime you hear someone argue against stem cell research. The first point, last point, and major point that should be made and repeatedly is, "So, it's better to throw away the leftovers from IVF than use it to save people?" coupled with, "Shouldn't we make laws that get to the source and ban in vitro fertilization?" Remind them that stem cell research has nothing to do with abortion, and remind them until they get it.

The important thing is keeping women in the backseat

Okay, I stole the joke from Janeane Garofalo. Anyway, because it was in the comments section at Pandagon, this really great point might get lost our constant blogosphere babble. Topic: Jack Ryan's scandal. Point: This isn't just about snickering at another mean hypocrite caught with his pants around his ankles. This man is a mean bully.

What Ryan did has less to do with sex than it does to do with bullying. It's related to the bullying stunt Ryan pulled by sending a kid with a videorecorder to get in Obama's face and listen in on his conversations with his wife. And it's also related to Ryan's pro-life stance and his opposition to gay marriage. He's not a free spirit swinger type. He wants to control other people, particularly their sexuality. This is a major character issue, and this kind of man cannot be elected.
I guess I'm really troubled by everyone's inability to recognize the real problem here. This man treated his wife as chattel, and this is the kind of behavior that's rampant throughout the Republican Party at the same time that they're screeching to the high heavens about the sacred institution of marriage. It's the (perfectly legal) behavior of people like Jack Ryan within marriages that is helping cause the breakdown of the institution, not non-procreative marital sex. This is the kind of thing that should help spur a new look at the whole platform of family values. And I'm really, really disappointed at the liberal men out there who aren't speaking up about this but are instead focusing on the fact that Ryan *lied*.
-tully monster

Point more than taken--alot of conservative thought on sexuality has less to do with morals and more to do with subverting the sexuality of others to the whims of the tiresome straight white males.
But I do have a problem with the idea that treating one's wife like chattel somehow violates the "sanctity of marriage". For a good number of people, that's exactly what defines "sanctity of marriage"--the idea that a husband has proprietary rights to a wife. And that's why homosexual marriage undermines said "sanctity"--if marriages can be made between two men or two women, how do we determine who gets to treat who like chattel?

I've got my ticket

Screw it, I'm looking forward to it. The place to see Fahrenheit 9/11 is hands down, without a doubt, the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. Beer and pizza with your political documentary! Only $7.75 for a non-matinee show? Can I hear a "Hell yeah"?
They've already sold out a couple of showings. I expect by Saturday night, it will be the #1 topic of conversation.

Good news from a prominent swing state

A Cleveland, Ohio strip club is registering voters. Hopefully, the next step will be instructing customers of how this administration is threatening their ability to obtain porn and will probably go after strip clubs if they get half a chance.

Jim Crow is alive and kicking

Anyone who is familiar with the variety of laws and strategies employed to purge the voter rolls of black voters in the South in the Jim Crow days won't be surprised at the ingenuity behind the newest rounds of ways to avoid counting black votes. And anyone who has heard any of the conservatives who have wistfully remarked about how the Republicans would win all the time if you don't count black votes shouldn't be surprised that there are efforts to make that fantasy a reality. Read this story, it should be blared from the front page of every newspaper until some shit gets fixed.
Josh Marshall, etc. have commented at length about how random comments and actions from prominent Republicans has demonstrated that they really think that minority votes are illegitimate somehow. It reminds me of living in El Paso in high school how the conservative gossip mill was scandalized because Democratic volunteers were supposedly giving poor people, all Hispanic, rides to the voting booths so that they could vote. They were only doing that for political gain, people gasped in shock and horror. If in fact this was really happening, then of course they were. But they were also doing a good thing, making sure that true suffrage was a reality for impoverished citizens. You can only think that there is a serious problem with giving poor people rides to the polls if you think that those people should have as many obstacles as possible between themselves and casting a vote.

Via Lying Media Bastards.

Sounds a little to close to a Brave New World

Of course they're doing it for the money. But if BushCo sweeps the schools, diagnosing kids with mental illness that needs to be medicated, there is the pleasant side effect for them of having the power to sedate troublesome people.
There's already serious problems with people getting diagnosed in accordance with the comfort levels of the people around them instead of in accordance with their own mental health needs. I can only imagine how out-of-control it could get if the government set the standard for what would be considered mental illness in students. Odds are that it's just a matter of time before government literature describes anti-war activities as potential symptoms of mental illness in teenagers.

Via XX.

"Faux" populism

The letters to the editor about the two-sides-of-the-coin review that Salon gave Fahrenheit 9/11 are quite interesting. The reason I don't say "balanced" is because they dispensed with the media definition of "balance", which would mean that a liberal meekly says, "Well, I guess it might be censorship to keep the movie from being shown, and it's possible Bush has been less than honest, maybe" and a conservative compares Moore to Goebbels. Nah, they had a liberal who liked it and a liberal who whined that it seemed a little too entertaining. (Sorry, Zacharek, you're usually a good writer, too.) Anyway, the letters are funny. I like the one sop they give to fire-breathing conservatives:

Your article that puts him in the company of Dickens, Springsteen? At least they had a salable talent. Whether you agree with his politics or not, the quality of Moore's movies is B-movie crap. Maybe his next will be "The Fat, Stupid White Guy Who Screwed Us All ... for Money."

Who knew George Will had a crank habit? Anyway, how can it possibly make sense to praise Dickens and Springsteen for having salable talent in one sentence and then criticize Moore for making money off his movies in the next? Actually, the comparison to Dickens is apt. Both came out of nowhere and rose to the top of their fields on talent alone. Both championed for the poor and became wealthy doing so. Both hold the opinion that society is pretty much run by madmen. Both had the tendency to self-aggrandize and assume that their personal issues had some bearing on the zeitgeist, but weirdly, both are right about that. Both skate on the line between maudlin and brillant, a line that establishment critics like to pretend doesn't even exist.
One can only imagine how Dickens would be received if he were alive today. The right would come out against his novels (and the movie versions of them) with guns blazing. The left would clutch their pearls and wonder why he has to be so heavy-handed and maudlin, and why does he have to pander (aka, make his stuff entertaining so that busy people are inclined to make time to read/watch it). Bill O'Reilly would declare that Bob Cratchit wouldn't even have a job if there wasn't a Scrooge. Critics on the left would say that having a child who is crippled, and starved, and losing out on time with his father because his father has to work so hard to feed him is a little over the top, and don't you think it's a bit unfair to all but blame Scrooge for Tiny Tim's health problems? And sooner or later, someone would call him a "faux populist".
Who decided that personality, not politics, determines who a populist is? Somehow it got determined that in order to be a real populist, you have to eschew making money and have a good raport with "common" people? Left critics complain that Moore is just using people, subjecting these poor common folk to his street theater, using their sad stories to make a point. Jeez, how condescending can you be? It seems to me that the people in Moore's movies and shows are using him just as much--they know who he is and they know they can use him to get attention and leverage to their cause.
The accusations that Moore is a "faux populist" remind me of a profile I read of Jim Hightower (can't remember where, sorry) a while ago that examined the car he drove, the food he ate, and the beer he drank, looking for signs of genuine populism. Of course, Hightower couldn't win--drinking Lone Star, driving a pick-up, and eating ribs were only signs that he was trying too hard. If he had been sipping on import beer or wine, driving a Volvo, and eating quiche, then he would have certainly been labeled a "faux populist". Granted, Hightower does enjoy writing up his enjoyment of local beers and food, but that's color commentary, if you will, the way he brings the people and places he's writing about to life.
I suspect that the people who lob accusations of phoniness at liberals with a populist bent are those same people who suspect that the valorized Middle America has gone completely Republican, that every single working class white man and woman in the flyover states voted for Bush and intends to do so again. And therefore they believe that populist tendencies are lies in and of themselves--how can you sympathize with working class white people when they all hate your liberal guts, every last one? And populism isn't going to work unless it encompasses all ordinary Americans, yes, even the white working class.
That's a self-defeating attitude, to say the least. I've gone to see Hightower speak, and he's not kidding when he describes his audience as being a huge mix of people. Different ages, races, styles, whatever. Some people were clearly on their lunch hour, even though it was a Saturday. One man got up to ask a question and he was still wearing a dirty work shirt, and my guess is that after this he probably had to go back to work. There was the usual hippie contigent, but there were also grandmas. I've never gone to see Moore, but I wouldn't be surprised if you got a similar turn-out.
Of course, Austin is a bit different from the majority of Middle America. We have alot of tolerance and community involvement here. But that didn't just happen; people rolled up their sleeves and created this community, and they couldn't have done it if they thought populism was a joke. More liberals around the country need to see that injecting a little humor and populism in their politics will do wonders for attracting the white working class back to the fold. People like Moore are necessary for this. Instead of needling him on piddly shit, more people need to embrace his methods and hit the air, making jokes and engaging ordinary people.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Evangelicals and domestic abuse

Alas, a Blog posed the question: Do Evangelical Men Beat Their Wives Less? I had some thoughts on this, but refrained from blogging to see what the commentors would say. There were some good questions raised on methods, etc. which are illuminating and you should read it in total. But it seems like a good bet that evangelicals are simply under-reporting domestic violence, not that they have less domestic violence.
There are a few things that I think are likely causing evangelicals to under-report domestic violence more than others. To be blunt, in modern America, most women would most certainly classify being pulled over a man's knee and spanked to be old-fashioned wife-beating. But under a religious system where women are little better than children and subject to their husband's authority in the same way, things like spankings are much more likely to be considered just discipline and not abuse. Certainly, other things that most of us would consider outright abusive behavior are considered normal and even necessary in fundamentalist circles. If a friend of mine told me her husband was dictating her clothes and her friends, I would tell her to get out. But that's part of the fundamentalist belief system.
And evangelical women who would classify themselves as abused may be more likely to lie on these surveys. There might be fear of breaking up the families that isn't so strong with other women. I'm not sure on that.
There is a fundamental problem with the idea of defining domestic abuse in evangelical marriages. We can only define domestic abuse because we accept the precept that it's somehow wrong for one marriage partner to be forceful with another. And that's because we recognize the basic human rights of both partners. That's why feminism was the element that exposed domestic abuse; it wasn't until we realized that men shouldn't have authority over women that it became clear that physical measures to enforce that authority are deeply wrong. How do you define domestic abuse to a crowd that believes in natural male authority and therefore isn't even in the same mindframe as those who define what domestic abuse is?
Which leads me to my final thought--if, in fact, there is less wife-beating in evangelical marriages, can we really chalk it up to a better ability of evangelical men to control their tempers? It's not implausible to me that evangelicals fight less.
Movies like to show domestic violence in a very unrealistic light, with the simpering wife who just wants to please her husband getting an ass-whupping with absolutely no provocation. The reason for this is simple--the audience may not be ready yet to accept that a woman has a right to speak her mind without getting a fist in the mouth for her troubles. To emphasize the horror of a man beating his wife, the wife has to be made into a perfect victim.
But as many women who've actually been there will tell you, the hitting erupted in the middle of a heated argument, as a heated reaction to a woman who is not giving in but arguing back. If, and this is a big huge if, but if evangelical women really are taking to heart their subservience, it's possible that they conflict with their husbands less, argue less, and therefore get hit less.
By no means am I arguing that women need to adapt a subservient attitude in order to escape violence. In fact, I'm arguing the opposite. It is absolutely unreasonable and inhuman that women be kept in line with violence. A man who cannot engage in an argument, even a screaming, yelling argument, without hitting is someone with serious problems. (Ditto for a woman, but like it or not, that's a lesser issue in just sheer numbers.) That people feel compelled to restrict their own speech and behavior, no matter how reasonable, for fear of violence is one of the great shames of our society.
And someone who avoids violent confrontation by taking a lifelong role of subservience may be avoiding short-term losses due to violence, but in the long term, her losses are great. By measuring marriage success in terms of violence, we are doing a great disservice to women. It's just as surely abuse to control women by threatening them with God's wrath and the loss of all love, community and stability as it is to threaten them with violence.
I don't have a solution. But I do know that focusing on number of punches thrown in marriages is a nifty way for the evangelicals to avoid the larger questions of how their entire belief system is abusive towards women.

It's not a special right, it's an equal right

A friend of mine lost her boyfriend to a motorcycle accident recently. He was young, probably not even 30 years old. Obviously, they weren't married. However, they had lived together for a long time, and she took care of his finances and all his things were at their shared apartment.
Before he was dead but after the decision was made to take him off life support, his family swooped in like vultures. (Not all family members, but one in particular, yes.) Since she was "just" the girlfriend, they were pushing to make sure that she knew that as far as they were concerned, she had zero rights. She received four, five, or more phone calls a day, even before he had been declared dead and well before a funeral, from relatives making absolutely sure that he had left no money or assets behind that she, "just" the woman he lived with, could have. They made it quite clear that while she was suddenly responsible for half the bills of the household, she had no legal rights to anything that he owned outright. They were wasting their time, as he didn't own much, just the motorcycle which actually had been settled out in a will of sorts.
She had no rights in arranging the funeral arrangements. She was asked for his military uniform for the burial from the funeral home, and she turned them it over, knowing full well that he wouldn't have wished to be buried in uniform.
Considering the treatment she received, it's obvious that if he had left behind any type of assets, she would have had to suffer the indignity of a lawsuit challenging her rights on top of her grief.
These two were not married by choice, so one a certain level, while she was treated most unjustly, it could be argued that was the chance that they took by not marrying. But it made me reflect on how couples who are barred from marriage by law must suffer the same indignities all the time, and they have no recourse to rectify this. A gay couple can call themselves married, present themselves as married, live as married, share everything as a couple for decades and when one of them dies, the other must tolerate being treated with the respect you would treat a one-night stand who just happened to be hanging around if the deceased's family wishes it to be that way.
Let's be realistic. Marriage is not about family or even necessarily about love. It's about respecting our rights, as adults, to define the primary relationships in our lives. It's about society realizing that if someone dies, the person who is affected most profoundly on every level is the person that the deceased shared her life with. It's about acknowledging the basic human need to connect and the ancient practice of doling out social respect to that need.
When the Grumpy Old Fart Punditude claims that marriage is about raising children, on a logical level I laugh. On an emotional level, it makes me wonder about their own experiences with marriage and love. If their wife is merely their child-raising partner, what does that say about the validity of their relationship? Anyway, our society doesn't measure the validity of a marriage by children. My mother and father have no responsibility for each other despite having children together; they are married to other people. No, marriage is who you live with and sleep with, who makes your coffee and knows how you snore, who you can't wait to see at the end of the day to tell all about your day. It's the person who knows what you would want to buried in, not because they asked, but because they live with you.

Someone owes someone a check

Why does this Slate article and illustration remind me of something else?

Parent A and Parent B

Norbizness has a great takedown of a supposedly "reasoned" argument that gay marriage hurts children. Apparently, it's a paperwork issue:

My Department of Public Health has asked whether we must re-write our state birth certificates to conform to our Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. Must we remove “father” and “mother” and replace them with “parent A” and “parent B?”

You would almost think that this hadn't come up long before the marriage issue. Except that it has. Lots and lots of gay couples have children together, with both parents on the birth certificate. I do believe that they just scratch out the word "mother" or "father" and write in the proper one. So it says "Mother" and "Mother" or "Father" and "Father".
Maybe it really is way too scary to contemplate what it means to scratch out one word and write in another.

Sex advice from a virgin

This rules.
Virgin Ben manages to explain not only how to discover your own gender, but also why you should never walk beside him while he is going to the bathroom, since he will be unzipping his pants to verify that he knows which one to use:

Silly me. I thought that deciding which bathroom to use was a relatively simple operation: Check a few inches below your belly-button, and use the restroom that corresponds with your particular set of genitalia. That solution should cover 99.99 percent of human beings, no? If you are a guy but enjoy wearing women's clothing -- well, don't be shocked when people make fun of you. That's life.

Agreed. And under his rules, I should feel free to point and laugh at his weak excuses for not being able to get laid. Hey, if you can't score, that's life and I get to mock you.
Anyway, Ben, since by your own admission you haven't had hands-on experience with what women keep zipped up a few inches below their belly buttons, can you be so sure that it's that easy a test?
Personally, I like the movie test of whether a person is a man or a woman. When he/she takes off a helmet, if a cascade of shiny, wavy hair falls out in slow motion, the it's a woman.

Via World O'Crap.

Ozzie and Harriet

My boyfriend cooked dinner last night, causing me to make jokes about becoming irrelevant. I usually cook dinner, but I had been busting my ass and stressing out all day over house stuff and he took pity on me. I don't mind having to do the lion's share of the mortgage work, since I'm better at it and since he runs the inevitable errands that crop up when fax machines just won't do. But I was glad to be relieved of cooking for one night.
When you live with someone, the various household chores end up being divvied up communism-style--to each according to her needs, from each according to her abilities, at least ideally. The result, depending on individual ability, can sometimes look surprisingly like old-fashioned, Ozzie and Harriet gender roles. I push the vaccum, he pushes the lawn mower. I know how to read the cookbook, which can confound him, but he knows how to read the stereo manual, which mostly just irritates me.
My older relatives used to gloat and warn me in high school and college that oh yes, I may be a feminist now, but wait until I grew up and entered the shiny world of monogamy and marriage and I would learn that "men and women really are different". (And yes, I would point out that even if this were true, it's no excuse for inequality, but that falls on deaf ears.)
But what I learned was not that men and women have inherent biological differences, but how gender stereotyping profoundly shapes individuals. I'm not better at "female" stuff because of some brain chemistry. I was taught, often against my will, to cook and clean. That I know to separate whites from darks, and then to separate the darks into blue-based and red-based colors, and to separate white t-shirts with printing on them to be washed separately without bleach, and that whites take bleach and hot water and darks take just detergent and cold water and that you don't wash jeans or towels with fabric softener but always sheets because it smells nice, but my boyfriend doesn't, is not the result of something encoded on the double-X chromosome. No, I was taught that and he was not.
And that he can change his own spark plugs, set up elaborate systems to wire up everything, including the cat, to a single amplifier, and basically fix shit that I thought took magic powers to fix is less a matter of genetics and more a result of the various jobs he's had that require hands-on work fixing equipment. Work that he was pushed towards in his youth, while girls were being pushed in other directions.
But none of this is really a problem, as we are cognizant of the fact that we have fallen into doing what we do out of convinence and not out of inborn gender roles. And that's why it's no big deal for my boyfriend to cook dinner once in awhile without feeling unmanned. In this, as in many things, it's not necessarily what you do so much as how you frame it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

News flash

Apparently, those rock and rollers like to do dope. Really, from the picture they have of poor ol' Courtney Love, the article could be a concerned article about why rock and rollers feel this compulsion to get disturbing amounts of plastic surgery. But that will never happen. Our society has its stories in place: drugs are ugly, nasty, evil things, but plastic surgery is something you do for yourself, to enhance your self-esteem.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that the drug business is illegal and the plastic surgery business is a legal, advertising, Congress-bribing business. That wouldn't have anything to do with why one is considered the lowest of the low and the other is celebrated on Fox television shows.
I'm not excusing drug abuse at all. There is no doubt that for whatever reason, rock music attracts drug addicts. I've had my moments when I've shaken a friend or two and yelled at them for abusing drugs. I've seen people slip away. But make no mistake, there is a disingenous side to the anti-drug propaganda like this.
We live in a society that encourages self-hatred and self-destructiveness, because it turns a buck. Good, sober people dig themselves into nightmarish debt holes pursuing the ordinary, if materialistic, American Dream. People tear up and ruin their bodies with plastic surgery. Alcohol and tobacco abuse are the norm and billion dollar industries. People are openly offended if someone even dare question how their lifestyles are ripping up the enviroment, ruining it for future generations. To forstall inevitable oil shortages, we murder people by the tens of thousands on trumped up charges to get at their oil.
And we have the nerve to clutch our pearls and wonder in amazement that people, particularly those who are sensitive, artistic types, would rather get loaded until they die than despair in sobriety.

Promising development

A federal judge granted the sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart class action status today. This is just fantastic news; anti-sex discrimination laws have no meaning if there the enforcement mechanisms don't have teeth.
Do the women have a case? My guess is yes:

The lawsuit, brought three years ago in San Francisco, asserts that Wal-Mart, the nation's largest company, systematically discriminated against women in pay and promotions. The lawsuit noted that while 65 percent of Wal-Mart's employees were women when the lawsuit was filed, only 33 percent of Wal-Mart's managers were women.

As I posted earlier, it's more common than not to watch less-qualified men get promoted over women in many, if not most workplaces. Often, it's not intentional, but just the result of unconscious sexism, the tendency of both men and women to assume men are naturally more competent. (I got to hear a bunch of this today, as my co-workers discussed their fears that a woman will get promoted into the recently opened director's position at my office. I didn't want to get into it; I just said that I've worked for all sorts of women and some were good and some were bad.)
But there will be those who say the women are just whining, that it's only a handful of women spoiled by feminism, that there are always a few litigious people out there. When you hear this, remind them that there are 1.6 million women attached to the case. Walmart currently employs 1.2 million people.

Wal-Mart officials said they planned to appeal the ruling, which would include nearly all women who have worked at Wal-Mart since December 1998.

If the plantiffs win this lawsuit, there is a good chance that there may be some real corporate reform regarding pay inequity between men and women. Certainly, as this lawsuit goes forward, the issue will get some badly-needed press.