Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Naughty Liberals

Did you know what we are trying to do to this country? Wow, we are really terrible people:

The RNC also is running radio ads in several states urging people to register to vote.
"There is a line drawn in America today," one ad says. "On one side are the radicals trying to uproot our traditional values and our culture. They're fighting to hijack the institution of marriage, plotting to legalize partial birth abortion, and working to take God out of the pledge of allegiance and force the worst of Hollywood on the rest of America."
"Are you on their side of the line?" the ad asks before making the plea to "support conservative Republican candidates."

I better start working on these issues right away. Especially on 'forcing the worst of Hollywood on the rest of America'. Like the hairdos and the clothes and the cosmetic surgery. Don't want to disappoint any wingnuts.

Later: And note the tone of the quote. It's all about us vs. them, about war inside America. Now who's the one with the inexplicable hatred?
Link via Chuck Currie.

It's Done With Mirrors: The Finale

Remember my theory about Karl Rove being behind the possible forged documents about George Bush's Guard duty? (Well, ok, I was just one of many conspiracy theorists on this topic.) Now go and read what Digby says about what happened!

Friday, September 17, 2004


Paralympics have just started in Athens with a beautiful opening ceremony. Too bad that we won't see that or any of the many events in the U.S.. The television networks here were not interested...

Flop, Flop

The flop-flop presidency! This term is due to cornbread on the Eschaton thread, but it deserves to be shouted from the top of the roofs everywhere. What has NOT flopped under Bush? Except for the bank balances of the wealthy, everything else in this country has gotten worse: incomes are down, employment is down, the cost of health care for the elderly is up, all children are left behind, mother nature is ransacked at will, and most importantly, of course, thousand of people are dead in Iraq because some Saudis butchered people here. I don't even have to mention issues like contempt for women's rights or for scientific inquiry or the eagerness to redefine torture as frat boy games.

And here's another flop I hear from a bathroom somewhere in Florida: Nader is ba-aaaa-ack! Courtesy of Jeb Bush and your other wingnut friends.

Or how about the Gallup poll today? Why is the only poll which predicts Bush ahead getting so much attention in the SCLM (so-called liberal media)? Granted, some commentators point out the confusing results, but how many bother to actually find out why Gallup polls biased and whether this is on purpose? And I'm not calling the Gallup polls biased by accidents. You can learn here and here how it is done and why.

Ok. So I'm angry. Even goddesses get angry, and this is not something humans should cause without a very good reasons. I think that I'm going to rain frogs for seven days now.

Oh By The Way...

check the news today. Friday is the day when the administration dumps all bad news, hoping that nobody reads them in their hurry to go out carousing.

If you don't want to do that, check out new ice-cream flavors before the autumn really strikes. I found a delicious one based on creme de menthe and chocolate chips and other unidentifiable but lushious bits. One day I'll write about sex with the same fervency as about ice-cream, I promise. Maybe even more fervently. But for now consider the ice-cream sublimation plot.

On Dust, Dinners and Dollars

The Department of Labor just published a study on the division of domestic chores in U.S. households. The results are what I expected, given that I have followed the research in this field for a very long time:

Because the survey is entirely new, it offers no comparison with how people spent their time 10 or 20 years ago. But it does confirm that the old divisions of labor between men and women at least partly remain.
The average working woman, for example, spends about an hour and a half a day caring for other members of the family, the average working man barely 50 minutes. Likewise, the average working woman spends more than 1 hour 20 minutes on household chores, the average working man less than 45 minutes.
Almost as many women as men hold jobs, the Labor Department said: about 78 percent of women, compared with 85 percent of men. But two-thirds of all women said they prepared meals and did housework on an average day, compared with only 19 percent of men who said they did housework and 34 percent who said they helped with meals or cleanup.

Though this particular survey may be new, many studies over the years confirm the same pattern. But it's worth noting that the percentage of men sharing in domestic chores is rising over time, albeit slowly. The figures from the late 1980s would have been much more dismal.

It's also worth pointing out that the above summary of the study doesn't tell us how many hours the men and women in the study work, and in some cases the division of labor may come from the men's longer working days. But not in all cases. And it may be interesting for you to know that single women spend more hours on domestic chores than singe men do.

All this points out the strength of traditions and perhaps upbringing and preferences by gender in determining the sexual division of labor in families. The economic explanations for such differences would fail to explain why couples where both work full-time would still have the rest of the work so unequally divided or why single women do more chores for themselves than single men do for themselves.

For a feminist, the messages of this study are several. The most obvious one is that the revolution that led women to the labor force was only a partial one. Women took on some roles that in the past were denied from them, but men have not taken on the roles that in the past were defined as female to the same extent. Or as some say, the revolution hit the streets and the offices but not the homes. That would be the next stage, perhaps, and one which should be started by both men and women, given that men have a lot to gain from being allowed more time to be a father and a partner, a lot to gain from not being viewed as a money-making machine vulnerable to a sudden breakdown. There are men and women already walking this new path of a fuller humanity for everybody.

For an anti-feminist, the message is very different. It goes something like this: See! Women can't have it all. Go back to the two extreme choices. You can have a family or you can have a job, but you can't have both. We told you so in the first place. And no, we will not change anything in the society to make other options available to you, we will not bring up children differently, we will not allow for flexibility in careers and jobs. Who do you think you are?

World's First Women's Mosque?

This is being planned in Tamil Nadu, India. The reason is that traditional mosques don't allow women to attend the jamaat (citizens' council) which is always attached to a mosque and which makes judgments on the domestic affairs of the community, including domestic violence. This means that a woman claiming that she is a victim of domestic violence cannot be present when her case is decided.

How will this plan fare? Here's one problem:

According to the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, male-controlled jamaats are stating that "women should have the right to offer prayers in mosques. In at least five percent of Tamil Nadu's mosques there are separate enclosures for women. But a women's mosque is unacceptable."


Thursday, September 16, 2004

Proud to Be American

This bumper sticker was staring me in the face for a few minutes on the road today. It also had a picture of the head of a bald eagle.
Bumper stickers are not meant to be dissected. They are meant to raise high emotions and to make the reader feel either good or bad. But I prefer dissecting.

It might go something like this: "Proud to be American. Instead of what? German? Norwegian?" What's so bad about being German or Norwegian? And why tell everybody in America that you are proud to be the same as everybody else driving on that road (with the exception of a few stray goddesses)?

And what makes one so proud about the verb "to be"? Everybody born in this country automatically becomes an American. Only those who change their nationality have some right to boast about the verb "to be".

And what does the bald eagle have to do with any of this? Or is it supposed to be the eagle who says the sentence? If so, the eagle is a very weird bird indeed, given that we nearly brought it to extinction.

And finally, why the emphasis on pride? Why would it be something that needs to be stressed? Self-confidence in my experience doesn't need to go out and boast about its achievements (goddesses are an exception to this rule, naughty you).

I'd have more data to work on if I could tell when the bumber sticker was glued on the car. It looks too new to have been there very long, however, so I doubt that this sticker was part of the 9/11 events. It might be a response to the Iraq war, stating that the driver is proud of Bush's war and telling the shameful anti-war people to shut up. But this is probably not a warranted conclusion. Most likely it's just meant to provide a small moment of patriotic pride in the day of busy commuters. Which is fine with me; only I wish that the bumper sticker makers would think a bit more carefully before they scribble something down.

It's Done With Mirrors, Part III

From CBS:

CBS/AP) Congressional Republicans on Wednesday turned the high heat on CBS News, charging that last week's revelations about Lt. George Bush, which aired on 60 Minutes, were based on fake documents and demanding that 60 Minutes and Dan Rather retract the story.

"It's very clear the documents were forged. They were laid on him and this time he bit," said Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah.

Forty members of the House signed a letter accusing the network of deception. The letter asked CBS if the documents are authentic, and why the network won't say how it got them, reports CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

"I think at the very least CBS should characterize the source," said Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri. "I think it's amazing that they haven't already done that."

See how it's done? Forty members of the House go to bat for Bush. What did the Democrats do when the affair of the blue dress was discussed, when the Whitewater affair was discussed? Notice how Representative Blunt demands that the press tells their source? Did he do the same in the Plame affair? Did he?

Is there freedom of press if this happens after every major news story hurting the administration? How free is the press if they're going to find the big hammer of the Republicans fall on their heads every time?

It's done with the mirrors, and the mirrors are turned away from George Bush towards the so-called liberal media or Kerry or somebody somewhere. Not our fault! Look there! Liberal bias!
That's how the game is played nowadays. Welcome to the new age.

It's Done With Mirrors, Part II

This is about the possibility that the famous Guard duty memos are forgeries. Yet, as Media Matters points out, the contents of the memos appear to be the truth. Even the White House has not disputed that, and three witnesses have stated this in the context of the most recent debacle. So we may have the odd situation that someone has bothered to forge memos which tell the truth. Or maybe not.

In any case, what is the treatment of these memos in the so-called liberal media? It goes like this:

Primetime broadcasts focused on the issue of the memos' authenticity rather than on the far more relevant issue of whether Bush shirked his Guard duties and, if so, whether he benefited from his family's connections in escaping punishment for shirking his duty. There is ample evidence, wholly apart from the disputed documents, that both claims are true; statements by Knox, Hodges, and Via provide further evidence. While each of the three major network evening news programs -- CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and ABC World News Tonight -- addressed the memo controversy on September 14, only ABC reported on Killian's former secretary. And of the eleven primetime cable news shows that discussed the CBS memos on the evening of September 14, only four mentioned Knox. Although Via's account didn't emerge until late on the evening of September 14, not a single news program made the connection to Hodges.

Knox, Hodges and Via are witnesses who state that the memos are essentially accurate in contents. All this bolsters my theory that Karl Rove is behind the forgeries if the memos are forgeries. See how there is noise and furor about the authenticity of the memos while nobody even notices the fact that they're telling the truth?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Little Red Riot-Helmet

This is an autumn re-run of a story I wrote last spring or early summer. I feel like posting it again.

The Little Red Riot-Helmet

Once upon a time in a country far away lived a little boy called Georgie. He lived in a large, beautiful house with his mama and his papa, but the family was not happy with the house. They wanted an even larger and more beautiful house. That's why one spring morning when Georgie was outside playing riot police in his brand new red helmet, his mama called him in. "Georgie Porgie", she said, "Your papa and I have an important job for you. We want you to take a basket of Bible literature and food to your dear old granny Fundie. She's not feeling well, and we need her up by the elections." "Aawww, do I hafta?" moaned Georgie.

"Yes, you do. Elections will get us a bigger house," his mama said firmly. Then she packed a basket with some inspirational fundamentalist literature, a bottle of papa's Secret Health Elixir, and several hard-boiled unborn chickens. "Now, Georgie, remember to walk straight to granny Fundie's house. Don't stay gawking in the forest. There are dangerous Democrats there and even a terrorist who eats little boys!" And after having said this, Georgie's mama pushed Georgie out of the house.

Georgie was scared of the dark woods. He had heard about dreadful happenings there; stories about hordes of horrible feminazis attacking innocent wingnuts, stories about evil people who lived off the hard-earned savings of others and who were always on the lookout for more. Georgie feared that they might steal his basket of food or his brand-new riot helmet, but he didn't believe in any terrorists. Mama was just trying to scare him!

So off into the woods went Georgie, walking very rapidly, as rapidly as he could while carrying the heavy basket. He refused to look to the right or to the left, but went straight down the path. Evening was approaching and light was falling rapidly. Georgie could hear twigs snapping in the woods and he became very afraid. To keep his spirits up, he started singing a little ditty:

I'm Georgie, my helmet is red
I'm going to granny who is sick in bed
My basket will feed her and make her sing
And then mama and papa and I will win.

This was fortunate or unfortunate for Georgie, depending on your view. A very hungry and desperate terrorist was indeed roaming the woods, looking for something to devour. He saw little Georgie, all alone in his red helmet, and thought of making a quick snack out of him, but the ditty made him plan more carefully. Here was a way of getting a real meal: both the pudgy little boy and the granny. So the terrorist quickly ran along a sidepath to granny Fundie's house and knocked on the door.

"Who's there?" croaked old granny through the door. "It's me, little Georgie, granny. I've come to see you with a basket of goodies from mama" piped the terrorist in a convincing imitation of Georgie. "Come in boy, the door is unlocked" the granny answered. The terrorist obeyed. What happened next is too awful to describe. Let's just say that granny Fundie ended up in the terrorist's stomach. The terrorist then dressed in granny's large Christian nightgown and lay down in her bed to wait for Georgie.

Georgie was unaware of all this, of course. He had been walking fast and scared and singing his ditty until he was too tired to sing. He had scratches from tree branches, and his knee hurt from a tumble caused by a nasty tree root. After that one he had taken a break and eaten all the unborn chickens. He had washed them down with papa's Elixir. Thereafter, the path seemed much shorter though curvier than before, and Georgie arrived at granny's door quite happy, except for a small fear that she might not like the basket's contents without the food and the drink. Still, what's done is done, Georgie thought, and straightened his red helmet. He knocked on the door and went in without waiting for an answer. Granny Fundie's door was always unlocked for boys like him, he knew.

Inside the cottage it was quite dark, and Georgie could just distinguish the looming shape of granny in her bed. "Hi granny, how are you?" Georgie said and sat down by the bedside. "Would you like me to open the drapes more to let in some light?" It seemed to him that granny was really unwell. She looked so different. "No! No light, please, my eyes hurt" the terrorist squaked.

"What's the matter with them, granny Fundie?" Georgie asked. "They look sort of red and bloated."

'It's all that pornography that Hollywood keeps pouring out, my dear boy. It corrupts us, even the most innocent of us."

"Ok, granny. And that's why your nose is quivering, too, I guess."

"Yes, my child. I can smell the infidels at their evil plans."

"Infidels?" George said, a little confused. "Never mind, granny. But why is your mouth so open?"

"So that I can better GOBBLE YOU UP!" shouted the terrorist and quickly swallowed poor Georgie, red helmet and all. Poor, poor Georgie. He was all eaten up.

You might think that this is the end of the story, but you'd be wrong. What happened next was this: the terrorist fell asleep, having eaten enough for the day. But he had been so greedy that neither granny Fundie nor Georgie were properly digested. In fact, they were both alive in the terrorist's belly, kicking each other and arguing over whose fault the whole disaster might be. They even made a long list of possible culprits.

All this made a terrible racket, of course, though the terrorist didn't wake up. He might have turned over in his sleep, though. But a brave young carpenter, called Muricanpeeple did hear the racket as he was walking by on his way to fell some Democrats. He looked into the cottage through a window, saw the terrorist snoring away, and immediately knew that something was really wrong. He tiptoed to the front door of the cottage and peeked in. The terrorist was still very asleep and didn't notice a thing. The carpenter gathered his courage and took hold of his trusty axe. Then he took a deep breath, rushed into the room and smote the terrorist's stomach open with one blow of the axe.

Out popped granny Fundie and Georgie, only slightly digested. They were so happy that they kissed and hugged the carpenter and sang great psalms of joy. They promised the carpenter all sorts of good things, like lower taxes and eternal peace as a reward and Muricanpeeple was very pleased. In fact, he was so pleased and flattered that he offered to go out into the world to look for more terrorists. Which he did.

Georgie and granny Fundie didn't go with him. Instead, they skipped hand-in-hand through the dark forest back to Georgie's house where his mama and papa greeted them with great joy and celebration. The election victory was now certain.

The terrorist also got up, holding his stomach together with his hands. He wasn't dead, you know. Instead, he was now very very angry, and ready to find many more terrorists. They would start a big war against that stupid carpenter, Muricanpeeple.

Now, all's well that ends well, don't you think?

The Bush Budget for 2006

This is very important: 1. While Bush's stomp speech criticizes Kerry's plans as big-spender ones, his own plans are likely to cost 50% more! 2. He's been spending so much on his war that he'll have to make some extremely cruel cuts in education and homeland security in 2006! He has already mortgaged our near- and far-futures, and he criticizes Kerry's plans....

According to Washington Post:

The administration has been secretive about the cost of the war and the likely impact that the bulging defense budget and continuing cost of tax cuts will have on domestic spending next year. The White House put government agencies on notice this month that if Bush is reelected, his budget for 2006 may include $2.3 billion in spending cuts from virtually all domestic programs not mandated by law, including education, homeland security and others central to Bush's campaign.

Also of note:

The expansive agenda President Bush laid out at the Republican National Convention was missing a price tag, but administration figures show the total is likely to be well in excess of $3 trillion over a decade.
A staple of Bush's stump speech is his claim that his Democratic challenger, John F. Kerry, has proposed $2 trillion in long-term spending, a figure the Massachusetts senator's campaign calls exaggerated. But the cost of the new tax breaks and spending outlined by Bush at the GOP convention far eclipses that of the Kerry plan.
Bush's pledge to make permanent his tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of 2010 or before, would reduce government revenue by about $1 trillion over 10 years, according to administration estimates. His proposed changes in Social Security to allow younger workers to invest part of their payroll taxes in stocks and bonds could cost the government $2 trillion over the coming decade, according to the calculations of independent domestic policy experts.
And Bush's agenda has many costs the administration has not publicly estimated. For instance, Bush said in his speech that he would continue to try to stabilize Iraq and wage war on terrorism. The war in Iraq alone costs $4 billion a month, but the president's annual budget does not reflect that cost.

Bush is not a small government conservative, obviously. But his large government is an unusual one: it will give little to the poor, the sick, the old or the young, but it will give loads to the wars he plans and to his pals in business. And to the conservative elite, of course.

The whole article is well worth reading, even for those who think economics is too dismal to contemplate.

The Twilight Zone

This would be a good title for the era in which we live right now, but I'm going to use it slightly differently, to talk about all those inner vortices which hide in our minds. The really weird ones.

I was once invigilating an exam with two hundred students in the room. I was a student myself, then, only a little more advanced than the ones who were taking the exam. Someone was supposed to come and relieve me after two hours but nobody turned up. I was sitting in this enormous room, on stage, for hours and the sun kept burning straight into my face. There was nothing to do but to watch all those private moments of stress and concentration and the sudden realization that the exam is impossibly difficult, to listen to the sneezes and the coughs and the furious erasings, to hunt for any cheaters and to avoid looking at the ones who were crying. I tried to do statistical distributions on the numbers of eyeglasses and blue jeans and zits to stay awake, but I was rapidly approaching a point where I needed some water and food and sounds. I had also not slept a lot the night before.

Suddenly I got this overwhelming desire to jump up and scream:"FIRE!" The more I tried not to think of doing it the more I wanted to do it. The struggle was terrible; I was biting my tongue and this really obnoxious, wild, delicious laughter was bubbling up from my stomach. My rational part was giving a long speech about responsibility, ethics, my own career prospects and the Western civilization, and my twilight part was thinking of elaborations on the initial scheme.

I was rescued at the last moment by a professor who finally remembered that I had been there for six hours alone, in the middle of a sea of humanity. But if he hadn't wondered in I don't know what would have happened. I had actually bitten my nails into my palms so hard that I was bleeding. When I got out of the room I had to run for an hour.

The moral of this story: ?

It's Done With Mirrors

A good example of the way the wingnuts have taken over what goes for the media these days:

On the September 10 edition of his ABC Radio Networks show, FOX News Channel host Sean Hannity suggested that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) may have been behind the Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos. Hannity based his suggestion on his claim that the controversial memos relating to President George W. Bush's military service, which were first aired on CBS's 60 Minutes, were obtained by "the same person that had the Abu Ghraib pictures."
From the September 10 edition of ABC Radio Networks' Sean Hannity Show:
HANNITY: [T]his woman who also produced -- was the producer who obtained the Abu Ghraib photos. ... [T]he same person that had the Abu Ghraib pictures -- the Abu Ghraib photos is apparently the same one that got these documents. ... Now here's the question. Where did she get all this stuff from? So that could mean that Abu Ghraib -- where did that come from? Was that a DNC plot too? I mean, there's a lot of questions here

See how it is done? You take an assertion which is unproven: that the documents about Bush's Guard duty are forgeries and that these forgeries come from the DNC. Then you imply that this (totally unproven) assertion implies that something else might also be a forgery arising from the DNC. The Abu Ghraib photos of torture!
Mindboggling. But this is what goes for punditry these days. I can see why I wouldn't qualify.

The most logical theory about the Bush Guard duty documents are that they are forgeries by Karl Rove. This makes sense because the facts are real, and if it was obvious that they would come out despite Rove's best attempts, then the way to muddy the waters would be to make some forgeries of the true documents. I'm not saying that my theory is true, of course, just wondering...

Uppity Negro

Aaron Hawkins, the brilliant writer and careful thinker of Uppity Negro has passed away. We all are poorer now. May you find peace, Aaron.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Taking Sex Roles Seriously

This is the title of a book by Steven E. Rhoads who seems to be an economist with not very many publications. Some reviewers call it a 'scholarly' work which might be a nice way to say that it was written by someone who has no expertise in judging the field, yet has unrelated letters after his name. I could do a few of those, too.

Anyway, Rhoads argues that sex roles are pretty much biological, that men are aggressive and criminal-minded and that women are nurturing and home-minded. Sounds like he really hates men, doesn't he? Yet his proposals are to make it easier for women to stay at home and not to have careers which would just make women unhappy.

This is a very conservative book, or rather a wingnut book, and I haven't actually read it. This makes the level of knowledge Rhoads and I have about equal on the subject matter of his book, but of course I really should read it to write about it. In my defense I could note that I have read a passel of similar books, all, by the way, written by men who seem worried about the possible demise of male supremacy, and they all rehash the studies that show differences in various behaviors by sex and then leap from that to telling how the society should be structured.

In this leap they tend to ignore the question whether these measured differences are biological, socially constructed or both, and they tend to take studies which show that some characteristic is shared by, say, 60% of women and by only 40% of men and then argue that all women share this characteristic and no men do, and so on. In other words, they tend to draw false conclusions from data (and not always from good data) and then quickly rush from these to rather sweepingly generalized policy conclusions.

More recently, these little books receive an air of authority by quoting gene research or differences in the PET scans of brain by sex. This sounds like the writers really know their stuff. The problem is that the research they are referring to is at its initial stages and doesn't provide the kind of evidence these books assume must exist somewhere. Moreover, there is a possibility that the relationship between genes and the environment is much more complex than the nature-nurture dualists assume. It's even possible that environmental conditions may turn some genes on or off. Likewise, differences in the brain images have been found to develop with behavior. One study found that the long-term memory part of the brain grew in those individuals who passed the very demanding street map test for taxi drivers in London. This means that referring to research about genes or pictures of the brain doesn't actually guarantee that any differences so spotted are inherent.

But I suspect that none of this matters for the writers of this genre. I rather imagine them beginning with the conclusions they wish to reach and then going backwards, picking and rejecting evidence, finding anecdotes and cutting out parts which don't work, and so on, until they finally write the Introduction in suitably sober and impartial tones.

It's sad, because the field of sex differences deserves better researchers and better writers. It would also be nice to have a similar field of sex similarities with journals which would publish all those studies that find no discernible sex differences at all, but that is unlikely to happen. The stakes are far too high for that for those who take sex roles 'seriously'.

Finally, the important note that every feminist must add to posts like this one: No, I don't believe that all sex differences are socially constructed. But I also don't believe that all women are the same and that all men are the same or that there is no overlap between these groups. I believe that men and women are fairly similar, to be quite honest. Certainly much more similar to each other than to anything else I can think of.
My information about Rhoads' book is based on Cathy Young's article. Imagine an anti-feminist attacking another!

Why so Many Americans Are Ignorant

This might be a new series portraying the culprits of the American ignorance. Or it might not, depending on how lazy I get. But here is one of the immortal statements of Rush Limbaugh to his faithful audience of dittoheads, most of whom are probably allowed to vote:

On the September 9 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed that global warming is "malarkey" and that "[t]he idea that we [human beings] have any power over nature is absolute absurdity." Yet, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Academy of Sciences has determined that "the Earth's surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century" and that "most of the warming over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities."

This is where many get their beliefs and their evidence, folks.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Monday's Dog Blogging

Hiya, everybody!

Hank here, and ready to serve! BWAHAHAA! I sure like politics. It's like chasing them damn critters which look like little cats but then climb trees. There's one in the back and it's a terrarist if there ever was one and I'm gonna get it one day as sure as that my name is Hank. Just like George Bush who is my great idell because he shoots and doesn't think and he's kinda like me. Yessir.

I had me a good rollaround today in some shit in the woods. Nothing perks up a dog as much as a nice scary smell. The goddess is pissed-off as usual but she didn't dump me in the tub so I don't care. That's the thing I don't get about George. He's a good one, he is. But where's all the shit? Or is it hidden, huh? Like double-smart, clever trick against all those liburals? Or is he dumped in the tub every day? If so, I'm gonna go and liburate him, yes I am.

Snoozetime. Seeya all later!


Editor's comment: Hank is a five-year old chocolate Labrador retriever. She is a jock and likes the neocons. That she's still allowed to board with the goddess shows the latter's goodness and magnificence to all. That's the only reason also why Hank is allowed to blog here.

Prone to Self-Destruction?

These thoughts bubbled up in my head as I was vacuuming: That the most important issues the Republican party is running on are the war against terrorism and the war against reproductive choice, and that if the Republicans actually succeed in winning these 'wars', pretty much nobody will want to vote Republican again. So it's in the interest of the party to make sure that these issues will not be resolved though progress must be shown in that direction.

We are probably going to have Roe hanging on by a shredded toenail for more years than I can count, and terrorism will be carefully tended but not weeded out. How's that for mixed metaphors?

All politics has this self-destructive tendency, but it's so much more obvious with the current administration as their popularity is very much limited to a couple of issues and if these issues go so will the base of the party. What would Rove think of next? I shudder to imagine that.

The 9/11 Report Revisited

Atrios links to this article on the 9/11 report, and it is really worth reading through. If you don't have the time for it, here's an excerpt which reminds us all of the importance of voting in November:

As presented by the commission, the evidence of signals missed by the Bush administration is more startling than we had known. To take one example,a memorandum written in July 2001 to headquarters by an FBI agent in Phoenix, Arizona, specifically warned of the "'possibility of a coordinated effort by Usama bin Laden' to send students to the United States to attend civil aviation schools."
Though Bush administration officials said after the fact that no one could have imagined that terrorists would use planes to fly into buildings, the report shows that there had been warnings of attacks very much along those lines before September 11—including information from an informant in East Asia of the possibility of al-Qaeda's hijacking planes, filling them with explosives, and using them to crash into US cities. Richard Clarke had worried about this very possibility in connection with the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. In the commission's words, the "possibility" of this sort of terrorist attack "was imaginable, and imagined."
The most arresting document is the Presidential Daily Brief of August 6, 2001, which, until it was finally made public, had been described by the White House as "historical in nature." A single question by Ben-Veniste to Condoleezza Rice, asking her to state the title of the PDB, exposed that fiction. The title was "bin Laden Determined to Strike in US." That the commission was able to see the President's daily briefings by the CIA during the Clinton and Bush administrations at all was unprecedented. They could only do so, however, under strict rules set by the administration: only two commissioners were allowed to read the PDBs, and—for reasons that later became clear—they were forbidden to copy down their titles.
After the September 11 attacks, administration officials claimed that the information they'd received wasn't specific enough for them to act on it. But it was much more specific than they suggested. The government even received evidence in July 2001 that an al-Qaeda attack had been put off for two months but hadn't been abandoned. And the August 6 PDB itself was far more detailed than the administration admitted. It cited evidence, including reports in the press as well as clandestine information, that bin Laden had "wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US" since 1997; that al-Qaeda members had lived in or traveled to the United States for years, "and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks"; that FBI information "indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijacking or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York." It cited a call to the US embassy in the United Arab Emirates in May 2001, "saying that a group of bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives." It said that the FBI had seventy "bin Laden–related" investigations underway. The President told the commission that he'd found this last point "heartening." Others might have been alarmed. (The commission concluded that the FBI had exaggerated the extent of its investigations.)


Someone gave me a pot of seedlings early this summer. They looked like tomato plants so I stuck them in an open slot in the sun and forgot them completely. Now I bear the consequences of it: barrels and barrels of cherry tomatoes are adorning my kitchen, and many more are still hanging green on the vines.

Tomatoes have this odd smell: pungent and slightly unpleasant, and after I pick the day's harvest my hands stay smelly despite severe soap-and-water treatments. You might have noticed that I don't like the little buggers (tomatoes, that is), and this is true. I have never liked them, but after they were found to be one of the triggers of my migraine attacks I literally hate them. (I ate three little ones from the vine last week and had one night's pain to reward me for that. I wanted to check if they still caused migraines, I guess. Sometimes my curiosity makes me so stupid.)

Not eating tomatoes cuts your culinary world into half, though, and that's why I ate them for many years despite never finding their taste pleasant. And the structure: mucus surrounding hard seeds!

I'm not alone in being wary of eating tomatoes:

In botany, the tomato is considered both a fruit and a vegetable. Actually, the tomato has been used in many different ways for more than 500 years. Before, its introduction to North America from its South American origins, the tomato went to Europe. It was the Spanish conquistadors who discovered the tomato in Mexico at the end of the 15th century and introduced it to the continent. The tomato was not really eaten until 18th century because people thought it might be toxic. In North America, its cultivation didn't become widespread until the 19th century. Despite its torturous route, the tomato is now the most eaten vegetable in the entire world!

Maybe it shouldn't be the most eaten vegetable in the world. Maybe it should be banned.

Though tomatoes look pretty if you like orange, and now I have lots of gifts to carry to both friends and strangers. I really should write about some foods that I like.

Postcards from Iraq

This is New York Times, on the recent event where American forces shot several Iraqis:

In Baghdad, American military helicopters fired at Iraqis who were scaling a burning American armored vehicle. It was unclear how many Iraqis were killed in the airstrike. At least one television journalist was confirmed dead, and photographs immediately after the strike showed a group of four men severely wounded or dead at the site. American military commanders said the helicopters were returning fire aimed at them from the ground.

Compare it to this description of the same events:

On Haifa Street, a main road that has long been under the control of Saddam loyalists, there were hours of gunfire during a US mission to capture 21 men the Iraqi Government described as terrorists.
An armoured vehicle was damaged by a car bomb. Five US soldiers were wounded in the explosion and in the operation to evacuate the crew.
Later, a crowd of Iraqis gathered around the burning vehicle. Some began dancing in celebration.
Tumeizi was describing the incident on camera when two helicopter gunships flew down and opened fire.
He was hit and doubled over, shouting: "I'm dying, I'm dying."

Guess which one is circulating all over the Arab world?

And here's another postcard from the alternate reality:

In the same context, one Islamic group threatened in a statement attributed to it on the Internet of killing the two Italian women hostages who are held in Iraq "by beheading" unless the Italian forces withdraw from Iraq within 24 hours.

The "Islamic Jihad group in Iraq" set a grace period of 24 hours for the withdrawal of the Italian forces from Iraq. The statement said "if we do not see the Italian troops withdrawing from the land of Iraq, the verdict of the God will be carried out "beheading."

So convenient that God speaks through this particular group and so very clearly. You see why I hate writing about Iraq despite its clear importance?
A Postscript:
This is the reaction to the shooting of the journalist on the Free Republic forum (no, I will not link to them):

Nice, good hit on idiot terr perp loving journalist. A blasted to hell Islamfacist nazi reporter in the morning starts my day off right.

Just to remind us all that not all the hatred has gone to Iraq.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

On Whales and Sex-Segregated Schools

The Women's Educational Equity Act has been refunded by our current government! So Bush is for women after all. Except that the funding is less than one half of what has been allocated to the Whaling Partnership Program which benefits a small number of people in Alaska and Hawaii. And except that a large chunk of the funds which used to be applied to gender equity will now be used to study sex-segregated education...

Molly Ivins in the most recent Mother Jones summarizes the sneaky war that Georgie Porgie has waged against women. Go and read it if you can. If you can't the children's nursery rhyme about Georgie Porgie captures the spirit well enough.