Tuesday, September 30, 2008

And now for something completely the same. Roll your own Sarah Palin interview!

with Parrotbot!

It's downright eerie, it is.

QUESTION: How are you?

To the power brokers, to the captives, by the guards, day after day.

Throw in his economic plan, and let me be specific.

QUESTION: Why do you hate America?

Right, right.

It's dangerous.

QUESTION: Can I, like, touch your hair?

No, abso ... we Americans need to be wired in a way of being so committed to the families of special-needs children all across this country, will be ready. I'm ready.

Government has got to keep good relation with all of that closed door, good old boy network that has to do to secure its nation.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I read the news today, O boy

So, in case you hadn't been following, it would appear that Wall Street and/or the government (because they are completely separate entities as it stands, of course: we're not SOCIALISTS or nuffin') got into a wee spot of trouble, which means we the people are also...implicated. The proposal to save us all went a little something like this:

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

(thanks for the h/t, ravenmn)

And for the past few days, all signs have been pointing to, everyone hates the idea but we're gonna pass it because otherwise it's going to be even fucking worse. Going to have been. Whatever tense that is. Well...

"Is that the sound of tinkling ice and the warbling notes of Celine Dion in the distance?

In a vote that shook the government, Wall Street and markets around the world, the House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue for the nation's financial system, leaving both parties' lawmakers and the Bush administration scrambling to pick up the pieces. Dismayed investors sent the Dow Jones industrials plunging nearly 800 points, the most ever for a single day.

...All sides agreed the effort to bolster beleaguered financial markets, potentially the biggest government intervention since the Great Depression, could not be abandoned.

But in a remarkable display on Monday, a majority of House members slapped aside the best version their leaders and the administration had been able to come up with, bucking presidential speeches, pleading visits from Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and urgent warnings that the economy could nosedive without the legislation.

In the face of thousands of phone calls and e-mails fiercely opposing the measure, many lawmakers were not willing to take the political risk of voting for it just five weeks before the elections.

The bill went down, 228-205.

...The final stock carnage was 777 points, far surpassing the 684-point drop on the first trading day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

In the House, "no" votes came from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. More than two-thirds of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats opposed the bill. Several Democrats in close election fights waited until the last moment, then went against the bill as it became clear the vast majority of Republicans were opposing it.

...A brutal round of partisan finger-pointing followed the vote.

Republicans blamed Pelosi's scathing speech near the close of the debate — which assailed Bush's economic policies and a "right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation" of financial markets — for the defeat. It was not much different from her usual tough words against the president and his party.

"We could have gotten there today had it not been for the partisan speech that the speaker gave on the floor of the House," Boehner said.

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the whip, estimated that Pelosi's speech changed the minds of a dozen Republicans who might otherwise have supported the plan.

That amounted to an appalling accusation by Republicans against Republicans, said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the Financial Services Committee: "Because somebody hurt their feelings, they decide to punish the country."

More than a repudiation of Democrats, Frank said, Republicans' refusal to vote for the bailout was a rejection of their own president.

Well. Yeah. Lissen, whatever else we lose from here on out, I think we'll be mining rich lodes of irony and schadenfreude for the next while.

and then, well, I like this, I do:

McCain takes credit for bill before it loses

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his top aides took credit for building a winning bailout coalition – hours before the vote failed and stocks tanked.

Shortly before the vote, McCain had bragged about his involvement and mocked Sen. Barack Obama for staying on the sidelines.

“I've never been afraid of stepping in to solve problems for the American people, and I'm not going to stop now,” McCain told a rally in Columbus, Ohio. “Sen. Obama took a very different approach to the crisis our country faced. At first he didn't want to get involved. Then he was monitoring the situation.”

McCain, grinning, flashed a sarcastic thumbs up....

Meanwhile, we're all waiting with bated breath for this next round of debates. If nothing else, McCain/Palin win this, not just Tina Fey but a whole shitload of comedians should have fairly steady incomes. Do you know, she's still going, is Palin, with Couric? I mean, there's MOAR:

CBS News released an excerpt from tonight's interview between Sarah Palin and Katie Couric on the trail in Ohio.

Couric: Gov. Palin, since our last interview, you've gotten a lot of flak. Some Republicans have said you're not prepared; you're not ready for prime time. People have questioned your readiness since that interview. And I'm curious …

Palin: Yeah.

Couric: … to hear your reaction.

Palin: Well, not only am I ready but willing and able to serve as vice president with Sen. McCain if Americans so bless us and privilege us with the opportunity of serving them, ready with my executive experience as a city mayor and manager, as a governor, as a commissioner, a regulator of oil and gas.

Oh, this is a new one; the last interview was the one with gems like this, on the bailout:

That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it’s got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in
spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

She was right about one thing, though:

(thanks for the h/t, Donna)

btw, I find the contrast in framing interesting, based on the pull quotes from Obama and McCain's respective post-fail video clips: (see current front page of yahoo)

McCain: "It's time to fix the problem"

Obama: "GOP has a failed philosophy."

Meanwhile, meant to say for a few days, I like this piece by hilzoy at obsidian wings a lot.

First: throughout all this, I've been torn between believing in market discipline and wanting to avoid moral hazard on the one hand, and thinking that of course that commitment flies out the window if we're seriously threatened with economic collapse, on the other. But it's worth remembering that we could have avoided having to choose between these unfortunate options. All we needed to do was have people in government who believed in good regulation.

Second: if anyone ever tells me that Republicans are the party of fiscal discipline ever again, I will either dissolve in laughter or bite their heads off. I don't know which. You have been warned.

Third: in particular, if any Republican ever tells me that a hundred million or so is just too much to pay to make sure that kids have health insurance, I will definitely bite his or her head off.

Fourth: I do not want to hear people tell me that regulation cripples the economy, unless they are willing to admit that a lack of regulation can also cripple the economy. Not ever. I don't understand why anyone is so much as tempted to think that "regulation" is good or bad, as a whole: to me, that's like being for or against "things" or "people". Some regulations are good, some are bad; obviously, we want people in government who can tell the difference, and implement regulatory systems that work well. However, altogether too many of my fellow citizens were willing to listen to ideologues, and now we all get to pay for their mistakes.

Fifth: if Obama wins, he and the Democrats will, in all probability, have to be the grownups once again. Reagan spent us blind; Clinton got us out of debt again. Now Bush has spent us even blinder, and we will be tempted, yet again, to put our ideas and aspirations on hold for the sake of the country.

I would like to hear one Republican, just once, acknowledge this fact.

I should also say: as people go, I am pretty willing to step up and be a grownup, even when other people aren't. But I am just about at the end of my rope. What that means, in practical terms, is that while early in the 90s I was willing to put various plans on hold for the sake of the country and its fiscal stability, I now think: Democrats' willingness to be sane and fiscally responsible just enables the Republicans. I am not willing to play that game. So don't count on me to think that universal health insurance is something we just can't afford any more.

Republican fiscal conservatives: if you've lost me, you've lost a whole lot of people. Because this is not a way of thinking that comes naturally to me at all. So step up to the plate and reform your party. You can't count on us to do your dirty work.

ETA: Queen Emily's post at Questioning Transphobia is well good also:

What I think this demonstrates is the utter improbability of anything resembling a welfare program in the United States. Can you imagine a similarly budgeted universal health care bill getting through?

*pause for laughter*

Because some things are necessary–like Wall Street making obscene amounts of money (and trickling it down, no really–and others, like access to health care and education, are not.

...All of this ...shows the woeful inadequacy of neoliberalism for fixing problems of its own creation. Those who will receive the worst of it will, as always, be those who can least afford it–poor people, immigrants, people of colour. People without money and social capital, “suspect populations” for the army to aimed at (since a racist system constitutes PoC largely as guilty unless proven otherwise)… And given the hysteria aimed at “illegal immigrants” it’s hard not to imagine an imminent campaign targeting immigrants as the internal antagonism responsible for the current crisis.

The response of Wall Street to its own incipient demise–to demand unimaginable amounts of money–amounts to more of the same. The mentality that creates disasters then reaps the rewards of the aftermath cannot be trusted to fix itself, let alone to take care of the average American, and nothing short of a massive change of political co-ordinates (such as the sort that can imagine universal health care, that will put human rights ahead of corporate interests) can make a bail-out anything more than a short term fix for an ailing economy feeding off its own death.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yeah, basically.

Josh Marshall on McCain's attempt to postpone the debate in the name of (go on, you can say it with a straight face) putting the good of the nation over partisan politics.

Occasionally..., in a perverse kind of private entertainment, I've found myself imagining what would happen if I pawned off on someone just the ballsiest, most inane excuse for flaking on some commitment. And not something that people might buy -- nothing entertaining about that -- but just something completely off the wall and nonsensical. What would people's reaction be? Speechless, laughter, tearing me limb from limb? Would they ever speak to me again?

So, let's see, I can't moderate the panel because I've been called to Washington to give a special briefing on guerilla tactics to be used against the Taliban?

Or maybe, I want to be at the meeting, but as weird as this sounds, all the bridges and tunnels out of Manhattan have been shut for the day. Some counter-terrorism thing probably. I tried renting a helicopter but they're all booked by people at the UN.

Isn't this pretty much what John McCain tried to pull today? But actually really did it? And on a national stage? He wants to cancel the debate? And maybe also Palin's debate. Are you kidding? Why not cancel the election too? And because he has to go back to DC to solve the financial crisis? Really? The topic he knows nothing about and after he's shown up less in the senate in the last two years than anyone but Tim Johnson, the guy who had the stroke? Which of my employees is going to call from home tomorrow and say they can't come to work because of the financial crisis?

What gutted me was, the first I read of this, the article was making like saying "um, how about no" was going to put Obama in a bad light, which, I can't even look at the latest spin/etc., but, really:

--oh, the same yahoo link now goes to an update. Before Obama's response it was something like, it puts Obama in a bind, because if he says "yes" it looks like he's following McCain's lead and thus not, you know, leading; but if he says "no" it looks like he's rejecting McCain's noble, selfless call to put the good of the country first and that makes him, Obama that is, look bad...

thankfully, his response was only a slight elaboration on the answer that was going through my brain like a CNN news ticker as I rode the J-line right after reading that yesterday ("Betch, please.")

"It's my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess," Obama said at a news conference in Clearwater, Fla. "It's going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once."

Honestly, I have to say, if he -hadn't- responded with something like that, I'd have probably written him off for good, because part of the president's or rather any effective politician's job is -also- to smack down such transparently bullshit manipulations as that as clearly and succinctly as possible.

I mean, it took chutzpah, I'll give him that, McCain. Sadly, all too often over the past umpty years, that's been enough to carry the fuckheads in charge through. Spit and chutzpah. "The Big Lie." Please Deity that -might- finally be coming to an end. -Please.-

and um yeah, hopefully a bit more will be said, come the day, on oh maybe -why- we're in this fucking meltdown in the first place.

I mean, not that I in any way suspect ulterior motives to McCain's wish to "cease campaigning" much less (!!) CANCEL THE DEBATE right about now, and particularly put the kibosh on any heated arguments over the IMMINENT ECONOMIC FUCKING CRISIS MY DOG WE NEVER SAW THAT COMING LO ALL THESE MONTHS AND YEARS, not in the light of say news tidbits like this:

Source: McCain aide's firm paid by Freddie Mac
By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer Wed Sep 24, 7:09 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Almost up until the time it was taken over by the government in the nation's financial crisis, one of two housing giants paid $15,000 a month to the lobbying firm of John McCain's campaign manager, a person familiar with the financial arrangement says.

The money from Freddie Mac to the firm of Rick Davis is on top of more than $30,000 a month that went directly to Davis for five years starting in 2000.

The $30,000 a month came from both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the other housing entity now under government control because of the nation's financial crisis.

Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, reported early Tuesday evening that Davis' lobbying firm remained on the Freddie Mac payroll. The New York Times reported all the payments, posting an article on its Web site Tuesday night revealing the $15,000 a month to the firm of Davis Manafort. The newspaper quoted two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.

On Wednesday, the campaign of McCain's Democratic presidential rival, Barack Obama, accused Davis and McCain's campaign of not telling the truth about Davis' continuing financial relationship with Freddie Mac.

Campaign spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said it was troubling that Davis' firm "continued to be compensated by Freddie Mac until as recently as last month, but that the firm did little work and apparently was being paid simply to provide access to the McCain campaign."

McCain' vice presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said her understanding was that Davis had recused himself from the firm's business.

"I don't know how long ago, a year or two ago that he's not benefiting from that," she said when questioned about the payments during an interview Wednesday with "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric. "And you know, I was ... I would hope that's not the case..."

Wouldn't you just.

But I mean, yeah, fuck knows, let's all come together and solve this problem, let's not point any fingers of blame, what's done is done, (just like Iraq, it's not like anyone's to BLAME for that being a fuckup, it just HAPPENED, let's move on, you know, let's not be ANGRY or anything)-- let's all just sing Kumbaya for six weeks until the election which is actually going to happen regardless, I didn't see any call for postponing the ELECTION, mind you, not even o somehow trying to get it on a weekend, as long as we're changing Big Shit at the very last minute, and hey maybe some more of the voters who aren't -yet- unemployed from the fallout of Big Fucking Greedy Institutional Bastards Who Overate And Have National Indigestion Now can actually go and fucking vote...

I mean, let's not get carried -away- or anything. Let's be, you know, -reasonable.- Noble, selfless, concerned for the nation's wellbeing as opposed to one's personal career and/or sorry ass, etc. etc. etc.

you MAVERICK, you.

ETA: oh dear, looks like the Dems really aren't feelin' the bipartisan luv. I'm surprised and saddened, I really am:

Democrats think that Republicans were backing away from a compromise many of them agreed to earlier Thursday — without McCain's involvement — in order to give McCain time to play a role and perhaps appear as a rescuer.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he believed the breakdown was simply an effort to allow McCain to miss Friday night's scheduled debate with Obama.

Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, seconded that belief. "I think McCain was hurting politically," Frank said. "I think this was a campaign ploy."

When McCain arrived in Washington to discover that an agreement was near, Frank said, it became necessary to upset it so that McCain could later be seen to have played a role. "He's making it harder to get things done," Frank said.

...fuck it, I keep saying I'm not paying attention to this shit, but it's time, I guess: tis now and truly the season. and hey, if everything burns down around our ears at least it makes the popcorn pop more better. Pass it over here.

-chomp chomp chomp-

Sunday, September 21, 2008

So, in human development class

the instructor read us some letters from a case study, a kid he'd actually treated, but was also a crime investigation.

Basically this was one high school student stalking another, for years. He read us some of the letters that he'd anonymously sent the other boy and had been given to the police.

The early ones went like:

well, no, I won't recreate them, because you know what, I haven't been stalked like that? and even for me, it was really hard to listen to them. Rather detailed and explicit threats and demands (to wear specific pieces of clothing, it was obvious that he really was monitoring the other student VERY closely), and elaborations on how exactly the one student planned to kill the other. Apparently at one point he'd actually followed through to the point of slitting a candy bar down the seam, filling it with rat poison, and leaving it in the other student's car. (He didn't eat it).

Needless to say, the family, and the school were rather frantic.

A year goes by, and then the student gets another letter:

(from recreation, roughly)

"Dear ___, I hope you don't think I've forgotten about you. I've been thinking about you more than ever. But this time, I'm not going to threaten you. I've been doing some thinking. I've come to a realization. I love you. You are the most beautiful, gorgeous, Adonis like..."

and so on. well, and then still with the "requests" that he meet the stalker at something like, either Tuesday, May the 8th or Friday the somethingth. at 2:14 or at 5 pm respectively; if on Tuesday, wearing the orange shirt with the __ team logo, if on the Friday... you get the idea.

and then, finishing off with, "with selfless and pure devotion" (as taken from the Webster definition of "love," which the kid made sure to include).

Well, I mean, this isn't exactly news, that stalkers have this uhm thin line between love and hate. The details were rather fascinating in a horrid way, though.

So, eventually, they caught him, and the instructor got to treat the offender--reluctantly, because, well, understandable: hi, what if he decides to change the object of his stalkerish affection to -him-? it's a real possibility...

we didn't get to many details after that, but one was: apparently, the kid had a pet.

We were asked to guess what the pet was. "A snake, a pit bull...a rock."


A goose.

Have you ever seen a goose? he asks. They're MEAN. They hiss, and they spit...

so, the kid's been keeping this -goose- in his house, in his room, shitting all over everything, honking, you know.

And, he brings the goose to family therapy, along with the raging violent alcoholic dad (surprise) and whoever else.

So every time the father tries to speak, the goose starts honking at him and beating him up...

Yeah, I know why I changed from theatre: this is MUCH more unlikely than any shit I could've made up.

Life, the universe, and everything

catching up with me, or vice versa.

please stand by.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

...I thought we had already determined the answer is "42."

Did we really need to "imperil the earth?"

and I mean, really, wouldn't you think: you've seen one particle pile-up, you've seen them all? a bit like arguments on the Internets really...and yet, still, you think, THIS time, I might actually figure out the Meaning Of Life! if I could only -understand- WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE, and WHY.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

On the way home yesterday...

There was a guy walking his West Highland White Terrier. I grew up with one, so had to stop and fuss--really sweet adorable little dogs, if a pain in the ass (stubborn as all hell).

anyway, so he sez the dog's name is John Paul, named after the Pope.

as in, Pup John Paul.

sadly, no Pupmobile.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

And speaking of chilling fascist portents: hey, yeah, Europe, let's single out a nationless ethnic group for fingerprinting, wicked idea.

From the EU Observer via Debi Crow:

Italy's plan to fingerprint Roma people has received a green light from the European Commission, with Brussels' experts suggesting that the controversial measures are not discriminatory or in breach of EU standards.

A commission spokesman told journalists on Thursday (4 September) that the practice proposed by Italian authorities earlier this year is only aimed at identifying persons "who cannot be identified in any other way" and excludes the collection of "data relating to ethnic origin or the religion of people."

The centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi sparked protests from human rights organisations and several in the European Parliament after announcing its plan to fingerprint Roma people - including children - as part of a census of Roma camps.

Some critics of the move compared it to the policies of Benito Mussolini, the country's fascist leader during the Second World War...


Debs also linked to this petition, which is

"to be sent to a summit on the future of the Roma at the European Parliament on 16th September. Please sign it and spread word to everyone you know about it"

...In recent weeks, Romany people in Italy have been subjected to police registration, by means such as fingerprinting, and to forcible rehousing. The Italian government claims this is part of their efforts to control immigration but the actions smack of racism and are a gross violation of basic human rights.

In May 2008 rumours of an abduction of a baby girl by a Gypsy woman in Naples led to an outbreak of racist violence against Roma camps. The response by Italy's Interior Minister Roberto Maroni to this was “that is what happens when gypsies steal babies”.

That this can happen in Europe in the 21st century, 53 years after the defeat of Nazism and Italian fascism is extremely worrying. On 10th July the European Parliament called the fingerprinting of Gypsies in Italy a clear act of racial discrimination and urged the authorities to stop it. The EU assembly said the measure is not supported by EU human rights treaties and that EU citizens of Roma, or Gypsy, origin must not be treated differently from others in Italy, who are not required to submit their fingerprints.

In Austria, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitors and reports on the human rights situation in its 56 participating states, including Italy, also expressed serious reservations about Italy's handling of Gypsies.

The Roma suffered greatly in the Holocaust and I worry that the relative apathy towards the actions of the Italian Government, let alone to far right parties and those with far right sympathies across Europe, will give the far right more confidence to undertake more extreme actions that recall terrible memories of the 1930s and 40s. As history shows, if people and nations remain silent bystanders then fascism can take root and I think that a hard stand is required.

I am well aware that Italy, like many countries in Europe, is concerned about immigration, crime and so on, but am also keenly aware that treating the Roma as second class citizens is not an answer and is a fall-back to the less glorious days of Europe's recent history.

and a facebook community with updates.

ETA: and via Devious Diva, who's been tracking European and particularly Greek treatment of the Roma for some years, had this to say on what's happening in Italy:

Although, this post is based on events happening in Italy, attitudes towards the Roma is no different here or in the rest of Europe. They are probably the most openly discriminated against people in Europe.

Italy has begun fingerprinting the entire Roma population. The European parliament has “urged” the country to stop this racial profiling (rather than condemn the process altogether). Left-leaning newspapers, human rights groups and activists are outraged but world leaders have been silent on the subject...

...One recent newspaper survey found 68% of people wanted all Italy’s Gypsies expelled, whether or not they held Italian passports. Another poll said more than three-quarters of people want unauthorised camps demolished.

This attitude seems to be sanctioned and reinforced by some of the highest authorities in Italy.

Italy’s legal system has already indicated there is nothing to stop discrimination against Roma. In a ruling handed down earlier this year, but only recently reported, the country’s highest appeal court ruled in the case of six people accused of anti-Gypsy racial propaganda that it was acceptable to single out Roma on the basis that they are thieves.

...There was one particular event that prompted me to write about the racial profiling in Italy (as you know I don’t cover many stories from outside Greece). I had briefly seen on the CNN ticker a sentence about the drowning of two Roma girls in Naples. Then theriomorph sent me some links to the story.


From CNN

Italian newspapers, an archbishop and civil liberties campaigners expressed shock and revulsion on Monday after photographs were published of sunbathers apparently enjoying a day at the beach just meters from where the bodies of two drowned Roma girls were laid out on the sand.

...from the Independent, this article entitled The Picture that Shames Italy

It was the sort of tragedy that could happen on any beach. But what happened next has stunned Italy. The bodies of the two girls were laid on the sand; their sister and cousin were taken away by the police to identify and contact the parents. Some pious soul donated a couple of towels to preserve the most basic decencies. Then beach life resumed.

The indifference was taken as shocking proof that many Italians no longer have human feelings for the Roma, even though the communities have lived side by side for generations.

That is what I want to say about these latest events in Italy. It is the indifference that pains me so much about attitudes towards minorities. That we can ignore what happens in their communities because we barely see them as human. We see them as “a problem” that needs to be dealt with. I posted the other day about how labeling people as “illegals’ dehumanises them and makes it easier for us to turn a blind eye....

much more, go read.

The Roma (aka "Gypsies") are perennial targets and were particularly devastated during the Holocaust for similar reasons as the Jews were: primarily, peoples without a nation in an era of nationalism.

Which is not to say that anti-Semitism is totally dead, either, of course, even now that "we" -do- have a nation-state of our very own, but...well, that's another post.

Also see (thanks for the link, DD) Roma Rights Network.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Arrests, police brutality and other authoritarian crackdowns at RNC protests

Lifting a few links here.

Two petitions to sign regarding the arrest of Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and other journalists, one at Free Press, the other from Credo.

little light, posting on the arrests of street medics, with further links and petitions to sign.

Coldsnap Legal, constantly updating with twitter.

Analysis by brownfemipower on who does and doesn't "deserve" or "should have expected" police brutality, on the lessons we all learn about power, and how yes, it's a feminist issue.

and a roundup and commentary from Ravenmn, on whose home turf this is happening.

ETA: Cedar has some commentary as well: RND, Police Brutality and Ableism.

ETA again: Pam's House Blend has an eyewitness account of the police lockdown during the RNC. These words should give anyone a chill:

"Blackwater's here."

"...and such small portions."

From the "one doesn't know quite what to say" department (but is glad others are on the ball): the comic stylings of one Dick Hafer, as presented by Ethan Persoff, who collects such things.

Specifically: Teh Gay Is Terrible, Let Me Tell SHOW you it. In graphic detail. For pages and pages and...

"We'll continue to discuss male sodomites primarily. Lesbians do many of the same acts, but rely on mechanical devices also, such as penis-shaped electric vibrators."

Starting with: kissing, which apparently involves swapping spit. And then...THE ORAL SEX!!

shocking innit. "bless."

oh yeah, and then there are all kinds of other disgusting things, most of which do NOT involve any clear eyed gazing whatsoever.

it's a sick sad woild...

thanks for the (offblog) h/t, Lisa.

ETA: apparently it made Boing Boing.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


I don't have time to get into it fully tonight, but wrt this from hexpletive, which you should read the whole damn thing?

I mean, there are only so many ways to say "omfg Heart you're a hateful pernicious idiot," but -really-:

I don’t care how many condoms get handed out in the Third World somewhere

You WHAT. You...no, I said I don't have time, and I don't. Not today.

But speaking of regressive policies that we really would rather AVOID voting their proponents into office if we can help it, that right there, you know, is a -great- place to begin for why Bush sucked and McCain/Palin will continue to suck, and why, once again, some "feminists" really need to stfu and go back to the waiting arms of the Religious Right from whence they sprang, thanks.

Also: what saorla said.

Well I care about condom distribution in the developing world (third world is pejorative now), I live in Cambodia. In Cambodia whether the sex work is through trafficking or voluntary the women call themselves sex workers. They feel that "prostitute" is pejorative. The major of sex workers in Cambodia turn to sex work through poverty, rape or trafficking and they are damned sure they want protection through condoms. People living with HIV are discriminated against and Cambodia has a high rate of HIV transmission.


It's nice that you have the luxury not to care when you live in a country that withdraws billions of dollars in vital aid when condoms or abortions for sex workers are funded.



You have a choice not to care. You could choose not to be callous about that choice. But your government makes sure to put these women in further danger.

Oh and by the way, there's virtually no porn in Cambodia and definitely no hardcore stuff but sex work is at every level of society.

ETA: oh, you've got to be fucking KIDDING me now. No, Heart, Saorla is not a "john" or a "sex tourist," or a man for that matter; and, no, no one owes you independent proof of their identity ffs (who the fuck do you think you ARE?")

Edited, again, again: so, she apologized, apparently.

ETA again:
the original unedited thread is recapped at Renegade's, here, if you've an interest.

So this is the only relevant part about Bristol Palin's pregnancy, as far as I'm concerned:

No, Sarah Palin is not a hypocrite as such on -abortion- because her kid got pregnant and is having the kid. And no, the scandal as such should not be an issue. And, sure, "choose life," fine, it's still a choice...but here is my concern, well, one of them.

a) -Is- it really -Bristol's- choice? I mean it's great and all that Mom is speaking up -for- her, but um. Where's Bristol herself in all this? She's seventeen and still very much under Mom's thumb; the pressure to do what Mom wants must be enormous. I'm not saying she may not really want to keep the kid and participate in "family values" with the father. I'm just saying: if it so happened that she didn't? She'd kind of be screwed, it seems to me. I mean, hi: no pressure, there. True for many minors; I think it'd be -worse- when Mom's a major public figure (which she already was, lest we forget, even before the veep selection).

also: -mono-?

b) And here's where the "hypocrite" part does have some resonance: What about sex
ed, y'all? What messages did Bristol get, exactly?

Because, Sarah Palin, you know, is for "abstinence only"(...among other things.)

3. Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?
JB: We should not exclude abstinence-until-marriage education programs.
SP: Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support...

The above, btw, is taken from an Eagle Forum questionnaire that "was sent to all candidates for [Alaska] Governor with their responses listed in the order [Eagle Forum] received them." Note that all of the other candidates did not respond to this one, including the other three Republicans.

And then, too:

SP: I am pro-life. With the exception of a doctor’s determination that the mother’s life would end if the pregnancy continued. I believe that no matter what mistakes we make as a society, we cannot condone ending an innocent’s life.

2. Will you support the right of parents to opt out their children from curricula, books, classes, or surveys, which parents consider privacy-invading or offensive to their religion or conscience?

SP: Yes. Parents should have the ultimate control over what their children are taught.

So, among other things, we do learn that the buck stopped with SP, for what Bristol was "taught" wrt sex ed. Which apparently, assuming Palin was consistent, would've been limited to, "don't do it."

How's that working out?

And more to the point, how's that going to work out for a lot more young women if Sarah Palin gets into the second-highest appointed office in the land?

Oh, btw, here's McCain himself on the issue(s):

Republican John McCain, whose running mate disclosed that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, has opposed proposals to spend federal money on teen-pregnancy prevention programs and voted to require poor teen mothers to stay in school or lose their benefits.

...In Senate votes, McCain has opposed some proposals to pay for teen-pregnancy prevention programs. In 2006, McCain joined fellow Republicans in voting against a Senate Democratic proposal to send $100 million to communities for teen-pregnancy prevention programs that would have included sex education about contraceptives.

In 2005, McCain opposed a Senate Democratic proposal that would have spent tens of millions of dollars to pay for pregnancy prevention programs other than abstinence-only education, including education on emergency contraception such as the morning-after pill. The bill also would have required insurance companies that cover Viagra to also pay for prescription contraception.


Reporter: “Should U.S. taxpayer money go to places like Africa to fund contraception to prevent AIDS?”

Mr. McCain: “Well I think it’s a combination. The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn.** He believes – and I was just reading the thing he wrote– that you should do what you can to encourage abstinence where there is going to be sexual activity. Where that doesn’t succeed, than he thinks that we should employ contraceptives as well. But I agree with him that the first priority is on abstinence. I look to people like Dr. Coburn. I’m not very wise on it.”

(Mr. McCain turns to take a question on Iraq, but a moment later looks back to the reporter who asked him about AIDS.)

Mr. McCain: “I haven’t thought about it. Before I give you an answer, let me think about. Let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don’t know if I would use taxpayers’ money for it.”

Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

...Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”

Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”

I feel reassured, don't you?

ETA: Renee over at Global Comment has a number of salient points as well:

Though Bristol is going to have a difficult time having this child in the public spotlight, there are many issues that she will not face. If Bristol lived in Harlem, and her name were Latifah, this conversation would take a very different tone. That Bristol is a child of privilege, and is white, will forestall the questions of who is going to pay for raising this child. If Bristol were a Latina, there would be cracks about whether the baby was conceived to drain the limited social safety net and achieve US citizenship

Race and class will protect Bristol from the attacks that poor Black and Latina women face on a daily basis when they decide to become mothers. She will not have to negotiate social services trying desperately to get pre-natal care. She will not be looked upon as a social leech, or a raving whore. The aforementioned are labels that are attached to WOC. She will not lay awake at night wondering where the money to raise this child is going to come from.

...We will pretend that we are having conversations about morality, while ignoring the real issues of race, class and gender in our understanding of motherhood. In the end she will emerge reborn and reconstituted, a tribute to what white women are meant to do - breed.

But hey, we can hold office now, too, a very few of us at least, and that's what really matters, right?

**ETA again: Btw, in case you, too, were wondering, "whom?" this is "Dr. Coburn:"

Tom Coburn is a Republican Senator from Oklahoma, and he’s not a subtle guy. During more than three years in the Senate he has spoken out against both sex education and contraception (which didn’t prevent Bush from appointing him co-chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS). A 2007 article on his government-sponsored website likens sex ed to pornography.

He is a self-proclaimed unwavering defender of the sanctity of “life”. That being said, he believes unequivocally that anyone performing an abortion should be put to death by the state.

Coburn’s Chief of Staff is Michael Schwartz. During the 2007 conference entitled “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith” Schwartz distinguished himself with a speech in which he advocated

“the mass impeachment of judges” and denounced the Supreme Court for giving Americans “the right to commit buggery.”

In the 80’s Schwartz was a founding member of Operation Rescue, the vigilante “pro-life” group that has advocated militant tactics...

Yeah, THAT Tom Coburn. Senator Tom Coburn. It took me a minute because I wasn't used to thinking of him as "Dr.," for some strange reason. You know, this guy:

In 1997, Coburn introduced a bill called the HIV Prevention Act of 1997, which would have amended the Social Security Act. The bill would have mandated HIV testing in some situations, would have allowed physicians to demand an HIV test before providing medical care, and would have allowed insurance companies to demand an HIV test as a condition of issuing health insurance.[25]

In 2000, Coburn sponsored a bill to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from developing, testing or approving the abortifacient RU-486. On July 13, the bill failed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 182 to 187.[15] On the issue, Coburn sparked controversy with his remark, "I favor the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life."[16] Coburn also objects to legal abortion in cases of rape, and he has justified his position by noting that his great-grandmother was raped by a sheriff.[17] In the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings concerning Samuel Alito, Coburn asserted that his grandmother was a product of that rape.

...Coburn has also been quoted as saying:

“ "The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power... That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That's a gay agenda."[6]

but best of all wrt the good Dr.:

A sterilization Coburn performed on a 20-year-old woman in 1990 became what was called "the most incendiary issue" of his Senate campaign.[27] Coburn performed the sterilization on the woman during an emergency surgery to treat a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, removing her intact fallopian tube as well as the one damaged by the surgery. The woman sued Coburn, alleging that he did not have consent to sterilize her, while Coburn claimed he had her oral consent. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed with no finding of liability on Coburn's part.

The state attorney general claimed that Coburn committed Medicaid fraud by not reporting the sterilization when he filed a claim for the emergency surgery. Medicaid did not reimburse doctors for sterilization procedures for patients under 21, and according to the attorney general, Coburn would not have been reimbursed at all had he not withheld this information. Coburn says since he did not file a claim for the sterilization, no fraud was committed. No charges were filed against Coburn for this claim.

This, once again, is the guy to whose opinion McCain is deferring on all matters reproductive and sexual, the guy he "really respects."

Just noting.

I guess, you know, he would count as a sort of "maverick," would Coburn, on account of he's "someone simply uninterested in being popular" (so sayeth George Will, at least). It is a nice way of saying he's stubborn and has a bad tendency to say jaw-droppingly rude and ill-considered (at best) things. Moderate, though...not s'much.

And McCain himself? Still think he's a "moderate?" Still think Palin's probably at least sort of okay on account of hey she's got female bits? Still think Obama wouldn't be any better? Feminists? Moderates? Bueller?