Friday, January 30, 2009

Oh, hey, look over at Iceland: world's first openly gay leader!

And a woman, also, too, yet. Johanna Sigurdardottir. True, she got the gig in the wake of the entire country melting down totally and mass resignation of the previous government, and is just holding an interim position till elections in May; but, y'know, progress is progress...

Buh bye, Blago


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. Rod Blagojevich was thrown out of office Thursday without a single lawmaker coming to his defense, brought down by a government-for-sale scandal that stretched from Chicago to Capitol Hill and turned the foul-mouthed politician into a national punchline.

Blagojevich, accused of trying to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, becomes the first U.S. governor in more than 20 years to be removed by impeachment.

After a four-day trial, the Illinois Senate voted 59-0 to convict him of abuse of power, automatically ousting the second-term Democrat. In a second, identical vote, lawmakers further barred Blagojevich from ever holding public office in the state again.

"He failed the test of character. He is beneath the dignity of the state of Illinois. He is no longer worthy to be our governor," said Sen. Matt Murphy, a Republican from suburban Chicago.

Blagojevich's troubles are not over. Federal prosecutors are drawing up an indictment against him on corruption charges...

Question: what made this guy so special, as far as corruption goes? Is the real difference mostly that he was more of a blatant asshole about it than, well, *koff* a bunch of government officials who somehow managed to avoid impeachment?

Not that I don't think he deserves it, I hasten to add. Just: wow, he's special, isn't he...

Maybe it's the hair.

Monday, January 26, 2009

One unexpected side effect of reading all the anti-Obama crap...

I mean the hardcore conspiracy Birther/supra-PUMA stuff, and I swear I'm moving past them, just noting, though:

While a lot of them are indeed right wingers, a fair number of them seem to have moved seamlessly from left-wing conspiracy tropes to the current ones wherein if they aren't right-wingers, they play them really well on TV. 9/11 Truthers, Bush stole the election(s), Black Box voting/Diebold means we'll never have a free and fair election again...the names and ideologies have shifted, but the ZOMG IT'S AN INCREDIBLY ELABORATE PLOT WE'RE ALL DOOMED is pretty consistent throughout, I notice.

And, okay. In 2004 or thereabouts, I read a lot of Democratic Underground and other such sites. While I obviously didn't have time for crap like "there were no planes on 9/11," or synchronized bombs or whatever the fuck (and yes, I had a few down the rabbit hole arguments on this with people I'd previously not tweaked were -that- ummm eccentric), at least some of it seemed somewhat...convincing. O.K., maybe the Chicken Little shit is a bit out of control, but yeah, the Diebold business--well, that is weird. So, Beverly Harris is -also- a bit weird, but there's probably -something- to all of it, right? We ARE really screwed, right? And--well, maybe Bush didn't KNOW beforehand, exactly, there is that whole PNAC business, and...yeah, okay, it's true that the final vote in 2004 was pretty solidly in line with most of the polls up till then, but dammit, it SHOULDN'T be possible that people would vote for the fucker AGAIN, there -must- be some mistake, and -everyone- knows THEY are so much more corrupt than we are, and, and...

and nothing, really. Listen, don't get me wrong: I haven't changed my politics. I don't think there's a damn thing benign about the way the Bush administration reacted to 9/11, and yeah, I think there was a fuckload of cynical opportunism. I do think people get disenfranchised in voting on at least some scale, and/or there's ballot-stuffing/dumping/tampering/whatever at least some of the time in some places; and yeah, it may well have made the difference in 2000, at least. And yeah, I think the Republican party, in its current incarnation at least, is a fucking cesspool, ideologically as well as ethically. (I make no claims for the sainthood of the Democrats--people like Blago are a great example of why not--but at minimum I feel slightly less cynical about them than I do the fuckers we just got rid of; which may just be a question of shiny newness, but otoh yes, ideology matters, and they're more or less -my- ratfuckers, more so than the R's, anyway, for now, like it or loathe it).

But...rightly or wrongly, I guess overall I'm now a bit more skeptical than I might once have been about -any- sort of "plot" talk. And yes, there IS Machiavellian shit in high places, no duh. I'm just not at all convinced that some random "experts" on the Internets have a better grasp of what is or isn't actually going down than, well, the rest of the world. Even if, next time, they DO happen to be more in line with my own beliefs. Wishing/fearing something doesn't make it so. And sometimes, Occam's Razor really does apply.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ah yes, the all-womens' college as a nurturing haven from the sexism of the outside world...

except when the venal, dumbass administration decides that using the campus to shoot a fratboyxploitation movie (while classes are in session) is a fine idea.

From The Bilerico Report (via Bitch Magazine and Uncensored Feminista):

Agnes Scott College, the supposed World for Women, has become the cesspool for Hollywood's C-list sequels. In my four years here, I've had the pleasure of experiencing the filming of such quality movies as a remake of "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Van Wilder III" Our most recent cinematographic credit is "Road Trip II: Beer Pong."

...Although Agnes Scott was tied for Georgia's most LBGTQ-friendly campus by Atlanta newspaper, Southern Voice, students eating dinner were recruited in the cafeteria to be extras in the film's derisive "Lesbians until Graduation" scene. The recruiter assured us that the only requirement was "acting like lesbians." But in case we were interested, they welcomed same-sex "background kissers."

Apparently the main premise of the scene involved the male protagonists stumbling upon the room full of these "making-out lesbians" (to presumably "convert" them?). When we expressed offense, the recruiter said she was warned about encountering uncooperative students who were "really into being women" (versus into being objects?).

This recruitment was foreshadowed by a fake bulletin board as part of the movie's properties advertising the "exploratory meeting" for their fake college's "Lesbians Until Graduation" club, qualified by statements like "Miss your boyfriend from high school?" which is apparently the only acceptable "excuse" for being a lesbian.

To understand the mindset behind these actions, let's examine how the filmmakers put up signs that said that if we entered certain areas on our campus (including our main quad with our library and humanities building), we were granting the production crew permission to reproduce our images "throughout the universe for all of eternity." This same utter entitlement to our bodies was reproduced in the way that the production team assumed that just because we were on (our own) campus and that we were women, they could recruit us for this degrading "Lesbians until Graduation" scene.

...During the filming, we experienced other forms of dehumanization through harassment from the film's production team. One student, when walking by the set with a paper cup of coffee, was accosted by an extra, who asked the student to get him one. Another student was told, in the vein of a pick-up line, that she was so attractive, she should watch out for being raped...

Klassy, eh? What a great recruitment tool for new students, not to mention morale-boosting. Oh, apparently the school picks up 30K for letting the yobs run around campus and film their students, about the cost of one student's yearly tuition.

But, yes, the admin still thinks it's best for the bottom line, as noted in this comment at Bitch:

I am a student at Agnes Scott, and we did bring our concerns to the administration. After sending in individual letters to the deans, they were collected and apparently discussed. Our new president (founding director of Duke University's Kenan Institute for Ethics, no less) addressed the issues we raised by sending an e-mail out to the campus community. It was generally received to be vague with the clear intention of attempting to save face, very unreflective of the president the students had quickly come to know, love, and trust.

Some of the more direct and juicier bits of the email were as follows:

"In some cases, films have also helped to raise Agnes Scott’s profile and, in fact, have attracted students to apply and enroll. We make a decision on a case-by-case basis about whether to include, in the film contract, that Agnes Scott be listed as a location in the credits. In this instance this was not included in the contract."

Yes. We're not going to put our name on the credits. That'll keep our secret safe that we accept money from people who degrade women...

..." But I also need to acknowledge that if we restricted ourselves to films that fully reflect Agnes Scott’s culture and promote our mission, we would drastically reduce film-shoot revenues. I am hopeful that as more women – including Agnes Scott alumnae – enter positions of leadership within the film industry, they will work to change and improve it!"

Yes. Drastically reduce those $30,000 a pop revenues that happen a couple of times a year. This revenue is less than the cost of tuition for one student. Do the math. Also, of course, we should build up the female objectification that has gone rampant in the entertainment industry so we will have a bigger challenge to try to change it. Because, who doesn't love a challenge?

and another:

We protested to the best of our abilities. Several of us made signs, infiltrated the shooting of the "LUG Club" scene, and got the attention of the filmmakers. My sign said "I am not a stereotype." As a result of our silent protest (we stood behind the cameras quietly hold our signs), several crew members thanked us for sharing our opinion and the screenwriter took his photo with us. He thanked us for our interest and stated that he didn't really like these films, but they made money. Not a great excuse, but acknowledging that something wasn't right was a start. Many of us wrote letters to our administration outlining our concerns and were met with nothing short of a brush off from our president. Basically, it was explained to us that it came down to a matter of money (a mere 30K--not enough for one student's full-year tuition and definitely not enough to create a significant overall tuition increase)...Thank goodness I go to a school that will easily abandon its values for a quick dollar and then give me a response that is sanitized for my convenience when I ask why.

Oh, and they fired the harassing extras, so THAT'S all right, then.

So, in a nutshell, no, the students don't seem to get a say in this.

Still another letter:

This was right in the middle of midterms. A lot of students were frustrated that the administration would do this to us, especially at such a stressful time, but many were just too exhausted from academic work to do much more than a small protest. Doesn't excuse it, though.

In the future, I hope that WAVE, the campus feminist organization at ASC, or the LBTQIA Collective will provide more leadership in opposing this bullshit. Every protest that I know of was organized by students acting independently, and they just didn't have the resources to get the word out like those groups would.

Still yet another:

It seems to me we should have seen this coming after what our administration has allowed to take place on our campus over recent years.

Our campus was used for an American Eagle photoshoot, as well as a filming location for the failed Revenge of the Nerds remake. I felt insulted having to take detours to go from building to building so as not to get in the way of various shoots. Imagine, if you will, the a young woman lugging her physics books past a group of preening models lounging in the middle of one of our walkways and overhearing "Like, OMG, there are really no guys here? Why even go to college?" I kid you not. Or how about having to sit an exam while on the quad just outside, take after take of the Large-Crowd-Cheering scene goes on. Try studying or getting some much needed sleep while set up crews make all kinds of racket at 3 am. Yeah, I'm sure that had no detrimental effect on our scholarly pursuits...Need I also remind my fellow Scotties that our students were approached by Revenge of the Nerds crew to be extras as well, supposedly to play the part of average college students in the background of various shots, yet surprise, surprise, only the "hot" girls were actually given the parts, because we all know that only hot-chicks go to college, right?

Can I just say: 30K may be insulting chump change when it comes to how many pieces o'silver your alma mater is getting for all that disruption and disrespect; but it'd probably buy an exasperated student a fine education somewhere that's else. Hey, at least one former student agrees:

As an alumnae, I cannot express my disappointment enough in Agnes Scott. My time at ASC shaped me to become the woman leader that I have become and I am deeply saddened that the administration has actively participated in undermining the values that were instilled in me: think deeply, live honorably and engage the social and intellectual challenges of our time.

So, with a heavy heart but strong passion, I call on all you who are as outraged as I am to boycott Agnes Scott College. Don't apply, don't visit, don't volunteer, don't donate. I am saddened to see that ASC so cheaply sold its values but since that is their priority, a mass movement that impacts them financially may be the only way to get a message across.

So, join our Facebook group: Road Trip II: The Boycott of the Alums (Alums only) or our Facebook event: Road Tripp II: Boycott!

Make your outrage into action!

As for the alum who disagrees with the idea and thinks they should "donate like crazy" while insisting the money go to the places they want it to go (so that the school isn't -forced- to resort to renting the campus to Alan Smithee), ummm...I guess it's none of my business, never having been to Agnes Scott; but in my own experience of expensive private colleges that constantly solicit funds...generally, a) you might want to get into the financial office and take a look at the -actual- numbers; they could well be healthier than they let on b) earmarking your donations, especially if it's an administration that's been cheerfully impervious to -basic- requests like "please get these sexist fuckheads and disruptive camera crews out of our space and especially during fercrissakes MIDTERMS kthxbai," maaayyyyyyy not work. Maybe. Just saying.

Anyway. Ick.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I voted for Obama, and THIS -is- what I voted for:

Three days in, thus far, concrete things he's already doing/done:

Obama Lifts Global Abortion "Gag Rule"

President Barack Obama today signed an executive order lifting a ban on U.S. funding for international family planning groups that perform abortions or provide counseling about the procedure.

The order rescinds the Mexico City Policy, also known as the "gag rule," which President Ronald Reagan originally instituted in 1984 and President Bill Clinton rescinded and President George W. Bush revived in 2001.

The decision had been eagerly expected by family planning groups, women's health advocates and others, who hoped it would restore millions of dollars of funding to programs providing health care, contraceptive services, HIV prevention and other care around the world.

"For eight long years the global gag rule has been used by the Bush administration to play politics with the lives of poor women across the world," said Gill Greer of the International Planned Parenthood Federation in London. "In rescinding this disastrous and unjust policy, President Obama has returned the United States to the international consensus on women's health."...

...The lifting of the Mexico City Policy does not permit U.S. funding to be used to provide abortions but allows funding to resume to groups that provide other services, including counseling and referrals for abortions. Critics argued the policy resulted in more abortions by denying women access to contraceptives.

Obama Reverses Bush Policies On Detention and Interrogation

President Obama took dramatic steps yesterday to reverse Bush administration policies on the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists, ordering the closure of the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and banning the use of controversial CIA interrogation techniques. But he left open the question of how his administration will deal with any detainees it concludes are too dangerous to be released.

Flanked by 16 retired generals and admirals, Obama signed executive orders fulfilling his pledge to end what he has called torture and to abolish a facility that became a lightning rod for international criticism. His action drew praise from human rights groups as well as politicians and statesmen around the globe.

Obama insisted that the overarching message of his first national security orders was unequivocal: "The United States will not torture."

...The four executive orders signed by Obama in the White House's Oval Office had been largely telegraphed in advance and were in keeping with major campaign promises. The one closing Guantanamo Bay called for moving out all prisoners "no later than one year from now," after the case-by-case review.

...Obama's executive order on CIA interrogations mandated a permanent halt to the agency's use of secret prisons as well as coercive measures such as waterboarding. The order essentially puts the CIA out of the incarceration business and imposes strict limits on how the agency handles suspected terrorists who may be held temporarily for questioning.

The CIA -- together with all other government agencies -- would have to rely on the same 16 interrogation techniques approved for military interrogators in a guidebook known as the Army Field Manual.

...CIA renditions would continue to be permitted during the task force review, an official said. Renditions, he said, could be both useful and justifiable in some cases, but "there will not be renditions to any country that engages in torture."

Ready to sign Lily Ledbetter/Fair Wage Bill

A wage-discrimination bill that narrowly failed less than a year ago moved closer to becoming law last night, when the Senate passed the legislation and sent it back to the House for final consideration.

The measure, approved 61 to 36, would overturn a Supreme Court decision to make it easier for women to sue employers for pay inequity, regardless of when the discrepancies took place. It may become the first legislation signed by President Obama, who campaigned in favor of it.

The bill, dubbed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, was introduced after a Supreme Court ruling in 2007 rejected a $360,000 award in back pay to Lilly Ledbetter, an Alabama woman who worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber. Ledbetter had discovered a large gap between her salary and that of her male colleagues, stretching back years.

The discrepancy cost her lost wages and also lowered her retirement earnings because her Social Security and 401(k) contributions were based on her salary. But the court ruled that Ledbetter's case was not allowed under the 1964 Civil Rights Act because the statute of limitations on claims was 180 days after the alleged discrimination took place.

...Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a main sponsor, noted that all 16 female senators voted in favor of the measure last night. "We've had an enormous victory," she declared...

I'm not going to address foreign policy, esp. wrt the Mideast and/or "the Muslim world" (not an ideal choice of words, there); a lot of people aren't best pleased at this point, and I can see why. I guess all I will say at this point is that the people who were having kittens about him being some sort of seekrit radical Islamic anti-Israel sympathizer ought to check into their nearest Reality Adjustment Center.

But not, please note, before the people who're -calling- themselves feminists and Democrats yet decided that -somehow-, McCain/Palin would be a preferable option. The above three stories? Any of it? Would not be happening. If you are stringently anti-abortion, think Gitmo serves a good purpose and waterboarding is just fine when it comes to terrorists and "bad people," are less concerned about employees getting fair pay than "frivolous lawsuits," then you are at least being logically consistent in continuing to think Obama is the ruination of this fair land, and wring hands and gnash teeth accordingly.

If not, however...well...-waves merrily-

And yes, I still think Favreau's a sexist dick. A good speechwriter, but a sexist dick. Execrate Rick Warren. Don't like some of the rhetoric, even still. Etc.

In the greater scheme of things, at the -moment-, I can't say I'm all that arsed.

Policy. Remember policy? Yeah, I sure do, and I can't wait to keep talking about more changes being made, and that need to be made, so pressure needs to be put on the new administration to make it happen. Fuck knows there's a lot to cover.

Meanwhile, however, in Russia

via Global Comment:

Yesterday, in broad daylight, in the center of Moscow, a human rights lawyer and a journalist were gunned down. Lawyer Stanislav Markelov was most famous for representing the family of Elza Kungaeva, a young Chechen woman killed by a Russian officer, in a case that polarized the Russian Federation. Anastasia Baburova was a young journalist for Novaya Gazeta - a publication that is still mourning the death of another journalist, Anna Politkovskaya.

This week, some across Russia are celebrating this tragedy. Comments on Baburova’s Live Journal site have been shut off, but before they were, news of neo-Nazis gloating over her death had spread far and wide. Others are merely wagging their finger at “poor Nastya” for having “kept bad company” - meaning, of course, that she should have known better than to hang out with the hated Markelov.

It looks as though “the enemy of the people” may be a phrase that we will have to start using in earnest again...

...The beauty of downtown Moscow, where Stanislav and Anastasia were shot, is being paid for in blood. There isn’t anything shockingly new here - three hundred years ago, St. Petersburg was practically built upon a foundation of dead serfs. Yet I like to think that we live in times that are a little bit more enlightened that those of Peter the Great’s.

Growing prosperity means nothing when journalists and lawyers are murdered like this.

The most bitter irony of it all is the people who celebrate the deaths of Anastasia and Stanislav have no clue than when it’s their turn - and their turn will surely come, if we don’t watch out as the “brown-shirting” of Russia continues - there will be no lawyers or journalists left to sound the alarm.

The only solace we can take from what happened yesterday is that the voices of Russian outrage are stronger. Far too many have died. The most oft-repeated sentiment I have read and heard today is more akin to a demand - a demand that the terrorizing of the Russian media and the greater public be stopped.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy, not satisfied, and that's how it should be

"True patriotism isn't about pretending this country's already perfect, it's about believing it can always get better."

Saturday, January 17, 2009


What she said.

The man has been saying goodbye for so long, he’s come to resemble one of those reconstituted rock bands that have been on a farewell tour since 1982. We had exit interviews by the carload and then a final press conference on Monday, in which he reminisced about his arrival on the national stage in 2000. “Just seemed like yesterday,” he said.

I think I speak for the entire nation when I say that the way this transition has been dragging on, even yesterday does not seem like yesterday. And the last time George W. Bush did not factor into our lives feels like around 1066.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mr. Potato Head Goes To Washington. Israel, whatever.

Withering take on Joe the Plumber Intrepid Journalist's increasingly overextended fifteen minutes Over There.

Pajamas TV is a right-wing blog whose mission statement includes “exposing both bias and deception by the typically liberal Main Stream Media”. And as Roger Simon, one of their contributors, argued that as the American press – yes, the American press – was obviously an extension of Hamas, only Joe the (previously passportless) Plumber could redress this grievous imbalance for the fact hungry nation....

(ETA: This was rather nice, also)

And then, when you've had a rueful snicker, there's a bunch of other articles there at Arab Comment; the most recent, found in the sidebar, are mostly about, well, Guess What Subject (unsurprisingly, right now, of course). Lots of writing from people who're actually intimately familiar with the Middle East, (including an Israeli or so) as in actually from and/or living in Israel or Palestine, or at least somewhere in the larger region, are versed in Israeli (for example) politics, links to other Middle Eastern news sources and blogs, that sort of thing.

So, jumping off from there, among various other places, right now I'm mostly just reading up on the current shitstorm in/on Gaza.

Slap my ass and call me internalized-anti-Semitic, but I will probably -not- be prioritizing some (other) random U.S. kibitzer's -seven- volumes' worth of thinky thoughts (purportedly) on the subject, no. Much less joining in on the ensuing discussion. I um, have an urgent appointment with a hairdresser and/or a spork.

There are a number of reasons that I haven't offered my own thinky thoughts. Arguably many of them not terribly noble.

That said, need it be said, this is rapidly becoming seriously FUBAR.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Some news is good news

Via the New York Times opinion section:

President-elect Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress are already signaling a welcome new seriousness in Washington about protecting civil rights after eight years of erosion.

They are planning swift action on legislation to overturn an unjust 2007 Supreme Court decision that has made it much harder for people to challenge illegal discrimination in employment, education, housing and other fields.

The 5-to-4 ruling in 2007 involved Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Alabama. She received much smaller raises over several years than men in comparable positions.

Tossing aside longstanding legal precedents, government practice and a jury verdict in Ms. Ledbetter’s favor, the narrow Supreme Court majority decided that she was entitled to nothing. They ruled that Ms. Ledbetter should have filed her claim within 180 days of the very first decision to pay her less. The justices rejected the argument that each subsequent discriminatory paycheck was a new violation of the law.

The impact of the Ledbetter decision has been broad injustice. As Robert Pear reported in The Times on Monday, courts around the country have cited the decision hundreds of times as a reason for rejecting lawsuits claiming discrimination based on race, sex, age and disability, without regard to the underlying merits of the individual cases.

The House is expected to vote this week on a legislative fix that would restore the law’s original intent. The measure would state that a violation occurs each time a person receives a paycheck resulting from “a discriminatory compensation decision.” The Senate is expected to take up the bill soon after. It merits passage, along with a related bill, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which contains other useful steps for combating gender-based wage discrimination.

More from the Robert Pear article mentioned above:

Mr. Obama describes the bill as part of a broader effort by his incoming administration to “update the social contract,” reinvigorate civil rights and close the pay gap between men and women.

At issue in the Ledbetter case was the deadline for filing charges under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court did not deny that Ms. Ledbetter had suffered discrimination, but said she should have filed her claim within 180 days of “the alleged unlawful employment practice” — the initial decision to pay her less than men performing similar work.

The Supreme Court rejected the argument that each paycheck was a violation of the law.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the statute of limitations must be strictly interpreted to protect employers against “stale claims” and “tardy lawsuits.”

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Ms. Ledbetter’s pay fell behind that of men because of “a long series of decisions reflecting Goodyear’s pervasive discrimination against women managers in general and Ledbetter in particular.”

Justice Ginsburg invited Congress to correct the court’s “cramped interpretation” of the law.

That is exactly what Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats say they plan to do...

...In the last 19 months, federal judges have cited the Ledbetter decision in more than 300 cases involving not only Title VII, but also the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Fair Housing Act; a law known as Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in schools and colleges; and even the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects prisoners’ rights.

Lower-court judges have been influenced by two particular aspects of the Ledbetter decision. The Supreme Court drew a sharp distinction between “discrete acts” of discrimination and the continuing effects of past violations. Employers, it said, do not necessarily violate the law when their recent actions have no discriminatory purpose, but perpetuate the adverse effects of pay decisions made in the past.

The Ledbetter precedent has stymied a wide range of civil rights plaintiffs.

...The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit extended this logic to a housing discrimination case in Idaho. The ruling significantly limits the ability of plaintiffs to enforce their rights under the Fair Housing Act.

The Idaho plaintiff, Noll Garcia, uses a wheelchair. He said his apartment violated federal standards because it was not readily accessible. Under the law, he had two years to challenge a “discriminatory housing practice” in court.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, writing for the majority, said this two-year period began when construction of the building was complete. Mr. Garcia lost out because he filed suit in 2003 — within two years of renting the apartment, but 10 years after it was built.

Three dissenting judges said the decision showed how “statutes of limitations have been twisted by courts to limit the scope and thrust of civil rights laws.”

This, on the other hand, is truly horrific.

I'm just going to second Natalia here:

I’m not a PUMA sympathizer, but I think this woman’s rage needs to be heard. Her daughter, Louisa, was shot by her other daughter’s ex. She is in a coma and not expected to make it. Her other daughter is battling cancer. In 2009, it looks like this woman, Betty Jean, may lose two daughters. In a particularly horrifying twist, the man who shot her daughter is now claiming that Betty Jean was his intended target.

Betty Jean and her commenters talk a lot about advertising that celebrates violence against women - although I am as appalled by it as anyone else is, I think it’s a symptom, not the cause. Violence against women has existed for millennia, it won’t go away if we make disturbing Dolce & Gabbana ads go away, although this may be a good start.

Neither do I think that banning porn and refusing to wear tight blouses, or whatever, as some commenter suggested, is going to prevent women like Louisa to become the hapless victims of assholes armed with guns. I think this violence is much more primal and horrible than that...

There is also this: the man who shot Rodas, one George Hartwig, had already been convicted of abuse. Specifically, apparently, for attacking his wife, the -other- daughter, the one who's dying of cancer. With a hammer. In the face. Because he wanted her cancer drugs. He went to jail, yes, last summer. For three months. And then, they let him out. And then this happened. Gee. Who'd have thunk it, huh?

By the way, January is National Stalking Awareness Month.
(Via Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

Okay. You got my attention. Clap, clap.

Mind you, I do tend to be drawn to shit like this; given that I can spend hours at a time perusing David Icke's alien classifications, I wouldn't read too much into my choosing to post on this, but anyway:

Most pathetic post I've read in a while, and that's saying quite a bit.

Is puma the new jew - a people persecuted for their beliefs, and eventually for their failure to fall in line, and follow the chosen one?

Now, I am not saying that PUMAS have been subjected to the horrors of the holocaust, or the years and years of persecution, but I thought it was a snappy intro that might grab your attention.

I started this post with the intent of trying to better understand the current Israel/Hamas conflict, by creating *what if’s*. I thought if I brought the concepts *home* I might be able to better understand the anger and outrage coming from both sides. The process, and research led me to thinking about the hate directed towards one group for holding beliefs different than the majority, which brings me to the comment, *is puma the new jew*.

""You know, I had to work through lunch for the third day in a row. And then when I got home, the takeout place was all out of my favorite cashew chicken AND the hot and sour soup, and my roommate finished all the milk so I couldn't even have mac n cheese, and the grocery store was already closed, and I realized...I now have a bit of understanding what the Irish potato famine was like. I mean, I haven't had any potatoes in WEEKS. Not even a french fry. Now, I'm not saying I've been subjected to the horrors of mass starvation unto the point of genocide, but, well, it's as close as I'm ever going to get, and I can now speculate, based on my feelings of irritation and tummy rumbling, what it -might- be like to starve to death along with my entire family and country, and that led me to more thinky thoughts, isn't that -fascinating?- Damn, I'm getting deep."

And no, Empathy Einstein, Jews have not been solely persecuted for -beliefs-; do you know anything about history whatsoever? The Holocaust? Conversion wasn't an option at that point. To begin with.

I say this as a comfortably assimilated third-to-fourth generation Jewish-American who in no way would appropriate the persecutions of my ancestors and/or distant relatives as my own, nor would attempt to use them as a way of excusing the horror currently going on in Gaza. Commentary on which I have been steadfastly avoiding for a number of reasons. All I will say is that if you truly can't understand why anyone in Palestine, at least, would have a problem with Israel, unless it maybe has to do with garsh Muslims don't tolerate Jewish -beliefs-, that -must- be it, then you are beyond hopeless. At least, -I- can't think of a clue phone that'd ring loud enough. Maybe someone can. Me, I'm just sitting here with the popcorn, as so often.

Oh, I liked this bit too:

To bring Judaism into modern times, the last 2000 years, Jews rejected Jesus as the son of God, which was a major turning point in western history. Jesus was a major game changer in our history. The acceptance of Jesus changed things politically and religiously.

Personally, I see this more so in a political arena, than a religious one, of the Jewish elders reluctance to Jesus as the son of God. I think they saw him as gaining a huge following, and gaining strength as a leader. Perhaps they just didn’t believe him, or what he claimed, or perhaps they were afraid of losing power. But Jesus arrived at a time ripe for change. He had garnered a huge following. Some people chose to believe he was *The Chosen One*, the Savior, the Holy One, and others didn’t. Jesus was a Jew, so he wasn’t some stranger from a strange land. He was one of them. But he divided the *party*. Those who followed him, and those who didn’t, whatever the reasons.

But, whatever the reason, they did not accept that Jesus was the savior. They didn’t believe or accept that he was The Chosen One, or sent down from God, as his son, and they have paid for their beliefs ever since.

-tucks tongue into cheek, hard-

I mean, I'd never be able to tell that the author was at least raised Christian, here. Because this in no way is redolent of all kinds of erm narratives that are only familiar to me from the general culture, decidedly -not- from my family or anyone else who's actually Jewish, at least, that -I've- ever encountered. Yes, it's now divorced from actual theology, -apparently-, but, well. No. Really. No.

"Jews rejected the Savior, and they've been paying for it ever since. Still, they -are- the Chosen People, and Israel plays an important role in eschatology, and the Muslims, well, they're just plain -bad-, so let's appropriate all the most poor-persecuted-us-because-we're-Speshul bits of the Old Testament narrative for ourselves; along with the Holocaust, of course, which is now available to pretty much everyone who feels put-upon anyway; it'll all go nicely with the already-headdesky narrative of 'we're being specially singled out and put up on the cross because we're the only ones who speak TEH TROOF.'"

Certainly none of this has anything to do with tribalism/racism, much less nationalism, or specifically what happens to ethnic groups who don't have a country of their own; and this in turn has nothing to do with why Israel was created in the first place, or why Palestinians might be just a tiny bit tetchy right now. Also, martyrdom is cool. Especially when you don't have to suffer any actual consequences for it beyond "wow, a bunch of people made fun of us for acting like dumbasses, and that doesn't feel very nice."

Yes, there's a lot of seriously hateful crap out there, and I particularly wasn't charmed by that same Wonkette thread. Most if not all of the hatefulness falls into yer classic gross misogyny, along with fat-bashing and a few other familiar categories. Are you really saying you haven't experienced or even -encountered- anything like that ever before? Not even -seen-? Lucky you. Seriously. And yes, it's fucked up. It's just not -new-, even remotely, and people for whom none of this is news aren't particularly charmed by the whole gormless "zomg, I had NO IDEA. Well...sputter...someone ought to -do something- about this!! Why doesn't anyone else think of that, huh?"

Strip all of that away, though, and no, ffs, you aren't being singled out for -persecution- as a political fringe group, of itself: You're being relegated to a running bad joke by more-or-less (relatively speaking, at least) serious politicos and/or bored rubberneckers for basically being the new Lyndon LaRoucheites. One more thing to google, yes.

ETA Oh ffs. From the comments (actually one of the less headdesky ones, but those aren't worth responding to, even rhetorically):

I always wondered about that…. If you are a non practicing Jew, why wouldn’t you say you were Israeli, or Israeli American, or wherever your ancestors are from? Is it a religion, or heritage or both? Saying you are Jewish, I assumed was like saying you are Catholic. And saying you are Israeli is being from Israel, but not necessarily Jewish. (which is one of the reasons I used Jewish for this, and not, for example, an ethnicity, because I was trying to equate it to *beliefs* In my opinion, it is ridiculous to *hate* people for their beliefs, whatever they are…as well as skin color, or sex. But like I said, I was trying to make a point about being hated for your beliefs)

"Wherever my ancestors are from" is, at least within living memory, and quite likely a good few centuries or so, Central to Eastern Europe. There -is- a specific term for ethnic Jews of Eastern European origin: Ashkenazim.

Why I don't generally go around calling myself an Ashkenaz-American:

a) Because most of the time, there's no particular reason to. For demographic purposes within the contemporary U.S., i.e. forms and such, I'm "white."

b) Because "I'm Jewish" is perfectly accurate and sufficient most of the time.

c) Because the blank stares would get kind of old.

If someone asks specifically "where are your ancestors from" (usually the preface is something like "are you Irish," based on my complexion and hair I expect, certainly not my features), assuming it's friendly-like and I want to engage them (usually the case), I might use the term, or just say "Eastern European Jewish."

If the question, however, is, "are you Jewish," the answer is, simply, "yes." I am not a -practicing- or -religious- Jew, that is correct. I also have no particular affinity with or sympathy for Israel the contemporary nation-state (have never been there, don't have any near relatives there, don't know more than your average American about daily life, etc); and I'm not a fan of mystic appeal to ancient legendary homeland blargh, hence would not refer to myself as "Israeli American," ever. Nonethless, I am Jewish, ethnically and culturally.

(No, I don't know who I'm actually addressing at this point, but do with it what you will, ethernets).

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Speciesism run amok


Fuck you,

I do love this site. So much. Yeh, yeh, get in line. Thanks to Ilyka for tipping me off.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

It's official: pretty much anyone at all might invoke "feminism" in service of their ends

Really, I don't know why people keep saying the -word- is out of fashion and needs preservation; it seems to me the -word- is about as endangered as, well, the Traditional Nukular Family and Merry Christmas. As for the proper -spirit- of such things, well. I wouldn't know, being a degnerate heathen and all, but anyway: here are the thinky thoughts of one Father Joe, on "preserving purity:"

How should couples act prior to marriage? I would like to offer certain recommendations:

FIRST, the whole dating scene is a mess. We should opt for the older practices of courtship. Dating today is an excuse for “making out” and compromising virginity. Younger children should not go out on dates and older teens should be chaperoned. Young adults need the mindset that stepping out with the opposite sex is not simply for a good time, but part of the search for a future mate. Dating is transitory. Courtship plays for keeps!

SECOND, both men and women should prize their purity and do all they can to preserve it as a gift for their future spouse. There should be no double-standard for men. As for women, it is not true feminism or liberation to be as sleazy as certain men. Restraint in this area shows strength of character and a discipline that will keep them in good stead within marriage. Today, we must also contend with sexually transmitted diseases which infect millions, sometimes with lethal consequences. Sex kills! This is contrary to its very purpose. The only sure way to remain clean of infection is for a couple to remain pure and to enter upon the marriage bed undefiled.

THIRD, modesty in speech and dress should rule the day. Vulgar flirtation and immodest dress is in vogue starting with pre-teens and going into adulthood. Many complain that styles are so risqué that it is hard for true ladies to find decent clothing. Some women have resorted again to making their own dresses. Men and women are not the same. One pretty but flirtatious girl who had every boy’s eye remarked to me that she stopped short of getting the boys’ motors running. Poor thing, I explained, boys’ motors are always running! The best of young men can be quite weak in the flesh and they need good girls to keep them good. Young men should not lie or compel favors from women with their physical strength. Women should not tempt men with their clothes, or lack of clothes, and suggestive speech...

And so on, and so on, and so on. See, -true- feminism would be, uhhh, ummm, well...anyway, something better. See. Yeah. Isn't it always? Thanks, Father Whosit! We Value Your Opinion.

Oh, I like this bit, too:

FIFTH, while showing compassion to those who make mistakes, we need to retain a sense of shame for scandalous activity. I recall a teenage girl who had a child and everyone kissed and admired the beautiful baby. We were thankful that a prolife decision was made. However, I was troubled that she showed no remorse or embarrassment at having given away her virginity or having an illegitimate child. Most babies in the past born to such girls were given up for adoption. The stigma served a purpose and its eradication is no service to other girls who might make a similar mistake.

Clearly, the Magdalene Laundries were a hotbed of True Feminism. Not to mention True Christianity. Because if there was one thing the message of Jesus was all about, it was stigmatizing people, women especially, who flouted sexual convention and/or were already the untouchable caste in their respective societies. "Lock 'em up and throw away the key, the dirty sluts," sez Jesus. Also, hierarchy, "family values," and rigid adherence to ritual. That whole "whited sepulchre" thing? Or the railing about "scribes and Pharisees?" Don't worry about it, really.

Friday, January 02, 2009

A conundrum.

How is it that it is invariably the most backward, least evolved people--mentally, spiritually, socially, emotionally--who are the most fervent advocates of some form of Social Darwinism?

They look at the world, they see a fallen creation that's nasty, brutish and short (not unlike themselves), and they decide that the best way forward--o, for the good of the -species-, mind you--is to get rid of all those -other- people who really aren't contributing anything to the greater good, or at least their capacity to reproduce. You know, THEM. The BAD people. The DEFECTIVE people. The OTHER people.

They will tell you this, with much passion and spittle, using "logic" and often syntax that can be most generously described as "twisted," but more accurately is in fact "sprained." Sometimes--most often, no doubt-- they're the equivalent (virtual or not) of the town drunk. Sometimes they clean up decently and actually sound sort of plausible. Even publish books, occasionally. Sometimes, God help us, find their way to actual power.

But you get right down to it, and -none- of these people manage to make a terrifically good case for why -they- should be exempt from the chop. Oh, sure, they might recognize that no one can actually stand their ass; but -that- is not about their own inherent moral or existential deficiency, no; -that- is about society's failure to -understand- them properly. See.

Which means, clearly, that society is -wrong-; and therefore it's -society-, more or less, that should be up against the wall.

Ah, solipsism. You gotta love it.