Saturday, August 14, 2004

Saturday House Cleaning

This blog is giving me an identity crisis of a sort. Whenever I write about American politics in general my feminist angel or demon points out that it won't be of any feminist interest, and the reverse happens when I write about feminist developments. When I write about dog walking, all the rest of me gives a sermon about the triviality and triteness of such things.

But doing things differently smacks to me of work, and that takes the joy away from all writing which in turn makes the writing stiff and wooden (or more so than usually). So what to do? It would be great to be all organized and decisive, but then I also really want to write about the arts and literature, about kicking butt, about meditation practises, childrearing, how to shape a moustache,...
The only thing I'm not that keen to write about is economics, probably because I actually know something about it.

Having this blog go all over the place can't be good for my market share, if I cared about it. Sometimes I do, of course, especially when I feel lonely and unadulated, but mostly I just like to talk to interesting people and read what they have to say back. I've learned a lot that way.

What I have not learned is where to go with my writing or the rest of my life. But perhaps a messy life and messy writing is what I'm supposed to do? Perhaps it's what we are all meant to do?


Dog Walks

I went out with Hank today, actually walking her on a leash. It goes something like this: she zooms forward like mad, me being dragged behind like one of those people hanging from a moving car in an old tv crime series, then she stops to sniff at some interesting pee and I come to a halt, rise up, shake the dust off and inspect the new wounds. Then she spots a squirrel or a cat and the thing repeats itself. So I don't do walking-on-a-leash very much, except with Henrietta, of course, who has taught me to heel very well indeed. (And don't give me advice on how to train Hank; she's untrainable, and I have many dog-trainers' written affidavits on that.)

But today was a little different, as I took Hank for a run, several swims and mudpool baths first. She was somewhat calmed by all this activity and actually stayed within the usual bounds of a leash-walked dog. We passed by an outdoor cafe with several people, and they all got up to coo and goo over Hank. (This is something I have not mentioned before. Hank is very cute. For some reason her shape never changed from that of a Labrador puppy, and she also has a puppy face. So people want to eat her and stuff.)

Can you imagine how hard it is to stave people off the idea of getting a Labrador puppy when Hank looks angelic? I had to work so damn hard, telling them about the koprophagia and vomiting and the need for three hours' running a day and the fact that Labrador puppies eat the house and how you can't sleep through a full night for months. When that wasn't enough I had to tell them about her being a Bush-lover (this is a solid libural area), but they were just not convinced. Then Hank did a round of groin poking with her freshly mudded snout and that cooled some of them. But I fear I have spread doom and despondency by my careless act of taking Hank out.

This is very different from walking Henrietta, of course. She's so perfect that you'd never know I'm the one who is heeling, obeying and taking commands. We stop at all traffic lights, look first left and then right and then left again, wait until the road is clear and then cross quickly. We hold long conversations about the deteriorating urban architecture and the poor taste in human fashions and the total pointlessness of having cats exist. When we meet humans, Henrietta leaps backwards, raises her hackles, bares her teeth and wags. So we are left alone, pretty much. When we meet dogs Henrietta waits until they pass by and then bites them in the butt. Friendly-like, of course.

Walking the two together is something I've only ever done once. I had to take to my bed for a week afterwards. Now I just load them into the car using the shortest exit route from the house, and pray that nobody is made deaf by the barking.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Take Care

When you're driving home, when you go out tonight, when you debate wingnuts, when you read pointless propaganda. But especially take care if you live in Florida where Charley plans to land.

Taking care is a good thing. I wish that more people took care when they open their mouths publicly, I wish that U.S. journalists took care before they auction off their consciences, I wish, oh how I wish, that we could breed a new type of politicians with both values and spunk.

Taking care sometimes means stopping, taking a break, and asking: "Where is my life going? Is that where I want to go?" Taking care may mean asking the questions that nobody asks or stating the obvious that somehow has become mysteriously difficult. Taking care means seeing a world in trouble and deciding not to contribute to this trouble but instead deciding to be the lone voice in the wilderness if needed, or deciding to go out and find those others who are also taking care.

Taking care means being safe, yes, but it also means knowing that sometimes to be safe we must first stand up and act, even if this looks unsafe. So if you are in a dangerous place (on the route of a hurricane or in a country falling apart), the first step may well be a daring one, one that looks frighteningly unsafe, yet ultimately the step that will lead you to safety.

Julia Child

She had an interesting life and died in her sleep, after 91 years of eating butter. I think that she had the favor of the gods and goddesses.

She became a television celebrity around the age of sixty and before that did a little spying, a little traveling, a little writing and so on. She towered over others both in reality (being very tall) and in her refusal to be held back by societal expectations. What an appetite she had!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

If You Are Fed Up With Me...

Which of course you aren't. But it's always good to graze widely to keep the mental constitution at its best. Here are some suggestions for weekend outings.

First, if you can never get enough feminist ideas and stories, check Mouse Words where Amanda kicks butt most admirably, or the new blog XX by four smart women. I assume you already read, a feminist blog by young women, Alas a Blog, the venerable granddaddy of all feminist blogs and the feministe which offers you everything from pure theory to knitting recipes.
And it's very important to see what Christine has to say about the popular culture and women in ms. musings. She rocks. (There are so many new good blogs with feminist contents that I will have to do a second post in the near future, assuming that my greedy and jealous nature will allow this. Maybe not...)

Within the Liberal Coalition, Trish Wilson has an excellent article on the way the mainstream media accuses feminists whatever we might do or not do, and how these accusations could care less about facts or evidence or other boring stuff like that. Read it to be informed.

Second, if you need your artistic education improved, sample some of these good critiques of various arts forms, all by Liberal Coalition bloggers (we're more than just political mouthpieces!): Invisible library has an interesting discussion on the Left Behind series (whence the current obsessions amongst fundamentalists about the possibility of impending Rapture). A nearby post stresses the benefits of idleness. Speedkill reviews the new documentary about the Fox News, Outfoxed. Read this, especially if you can't see the movie itself. Upyernoz ( love that handle) reviews the Manchurian Candidate, Elayne Riggs talks about what it's like to listen to Air America, the new liberal radio, iddybud reviews the book Bush on the Couch (scary stuff) and gamer's nook gives a concert review of which I understood nothing which shows that it's good (I've got van Gogh's ear for music). Rivka has a great review of a book on security concerns, useful reading during these terra times. Finally, Lefty picks eleven books that libraries should have about comics. I want to read them right away, but then I'd like to look for some that might be written by women, too.

Third, you could just relax and read some interesting, good and funny stuff. Bloggg on manners and etiquette is funny and so is clonecone when he 'thanks the media'. WTF Is It Now? has great pictures of Bush, and Steven Bates has written an enjoyable meditation on inspiration and other stuff that only he can make belong.

Fourth, and finally, the Coalition members still blog politics, too. You could transition gently by finding out about all the WMDs in the US that Natalie has unearthed for us or by reading norbizness's suggestions on how Bushites could tighten security at the campaign stops even more. Charles on the fulcrum reminds us that class warfare is real and mercuryx23 tells us whether celebrities' political views should matter. Scout has a good piece on the hatred of the United Nations here in the U.S., and Mustang Bobby talks about Ron Reagan's politics. Both farmer on the Corrente and David on blogAmy discuss Alan Keyes, the Republican in the Obama-Keyes Senate race. Amy on blogAmy also gives a good set of links on which to click to help someone or something almost effortlessly. Michael gives a good assessment of the appointment of Porter Goss (what a name!) to run the CIA. John on archy reminds us of the sad fact that the point of one thousand dead Americans in Iraq will soon be reached, and discusses what this might mean in the U.S. politics. Steven Gilliard has a superb article about the advisability (or rather not) of taking on the Shia the way our current administration has decided to do.

Four Months and Flip Flops

Eschaton has an interesting post about the number of newspapers and media pundits who have stated in recent days that John Kerry's Vietnam service amounted to four months. The way this is arrived at is by defining service as direct combat experience and then by counting that wrong, too. Where it comes from is the wingnut think tanks, the usual source for materials for some journalists.

Using the same logic, we can argue that George Bush served approximately 1.5 minutes in the National Guard. Only flying counts, after all, and by my calculations (heh!) his flying time was around 90 seconds, take or add a few.

Fascinating how the conversation can turn from the original question of how one candidate managed to avoid going to Vietnam altogether to the much more mesmerizing one of how well the other candidate actually fought to earn a lot of medals and stuff. It would have been better if Kerry had stayed at home, it seems. Then he would have come across as evenly pitted with the other candidate. Don't mind me.

I think that Karl Rove has an F-fixation. First it was flip flops, then it was four months. What next? Could it be a four-letter word or was that Cheneyed to death already? I'm all agog with anticipation.

Flip flops to me are those sandals that children wear. To Karl Rove any learning from experience is a flip flop. One must never change ones mind, you know. Only people who cannot learn can be presidents of the most powerful country of the world. I prefer flip flops.

The Centers for Disease Control for Abstinence Only!

This is a public service message. The Centers for Disease Control are proposing new rules for the control of programs that do HIV education. You can read the proposed rule changes here. Be forewarned, they are heavily covered in governmentalese language.

A translation of the new proposals has been made by Doug Ireland:

Lethal new regulations from President Bush's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, quietly issued with no fanfare last week, complete the right-wing Republicans' goal of gutting HIV-prevention education in the United States. In place of effective, disease-preventing safe-sex education, little will soon remain except failed programs that denounce condom use, while teaching abstinence as the only way to prevent the spread of AIDS. And those abstinence-only programs, researchers say, actually increase the risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Published on June 16 in the Federal Register, the censorious new CDC guidelines will be mandatory for any organization that does HIV-prevention work and also receives federal funds -- whether or not any federal money is directly spent on their programs designed to fight the spread of the epidemic. (The CDC is the principal federal funder of prevention education about HIV and AIDS, and its head a Bush appointee). It's all couched in arcane bureaucratese, but this is the Bush administration's Big Stick - do exactly as we say, or lose your federal funding. And nearly all of the some 3,800 AIDS service organizations (ASOs) that do the bulk of HIV-prevention education receive at least part of their budget from federal dollars. Without that money, they'd have to slash programs or even close their doors.

These new regs require the censoring of any "content" – including "pamphlets, brochures, fliers, curricula," "audiovisual materials" and "pictorials (for example, posters and similar educational materials using photographs, slides, drawings or paintings)," as well as "advertising" and Web-based info. They require all such "content" to eliminate anything even vaguely "sexually suggestive" or "obscene"—like teaching how to use a condom correctly by putting it on a dildo, or even a cucumber. And they demand that all such materials include information on the "lack of effectiveness of condom use" in preventing the spread of HIV and other STDs -- in other words, the Bush administration wants AIDS fighters to tell people: Condoms don't work. This demented exigency flies in the face of every competent medical body's judgment that, in the absence of an HIV-preventing vaccine, the condom is the single most effective tool available to protect someone from getting or spreading the AIDS virus.

Moreover, the CDC will now take the decisions on which AIDS-fighting educational materials actually work away from those on the frontlines of the combat against the epidemic, and hand them over to political appointees.

This is done by requiring that Policy Review Panels, which each group engaged in HIV prevention must have, can no longer be appointed by that group but must instead be named by state and local health departments. And those panels must then take a vote on every single flier or brochure or other "content" before it is issued.

This means that, under the new regs, political appointees will have a veto and be able to ban anything in those educational materials they deem "obscene" or lacking in anti-condom propaganda. With Republicans controlling a majority of statehouses, and having handed over control of the health departments to folks deemed acceptable to the Christian right and cultural conservatives in many Southern and Midwestern states -- and the rest of public-health departments notoriously subservient to political pressure from the state and local legislatures that control their appropriations --anti-condom junk science that plays politics with people's lives will rule the day.

Under the new regs, it will be impossible even to track the spread of unsafe sexual practices -- because the CDC's politically inspired censorship includes "questionnaires and survey materials" and thus would forbid asking people if they engage in specific sexual acts without protection against HIV. For that too would be "obscene." (Questions about gay kids have already disappeared from the CDC's national Youth Risk Survey after Christian-right pressure).

I have not vetted the correctness of this translation, but it seems correct based on a quick perusal of the original article. The public is allowed to comment on the new proposal until August 16. If you would like to do so, go here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Dog Blogging!

Hail to All Dogs!

This is Henrietta the Hound reporting on recent developments in the dogdom. My private life is without events as usual, just the everyday annoyances of a zero IQ Rethug retriever imitating my every move and trying to beat me in wrestling. Her most recent innovation is the butt whirl. This consists of gyrating wildly and hoping that her heavy thighs might hit me in the chest. By the time her tardy butt arrives I have of course already lightly stepped to the side and caught her neck between my canines. Then a gentle flip sends her over on her head and all that remains is a little bit of snarling at her astonished face. How dare she think that I could be taken by such simple maneuvres?

She reminds me of some other Rethugs and their war plans. If at first you don't succeed, try again, and again...and again.

I have had my bimonthly medical and have been found to be fit to fly planes and steer boats and all the rest of it. The veterinarian commented on my shiny coat and bright eyes and wanted to know the secret for these things in a twelve-year old dog. I told her that it had to be my faith in the Cause: my dedication and trust in the future that will belong to dogs alone. But she, being merely human, didn't understand a word I said. Sometimes I lose all patience with these lower animals who never evolved to ESP, yet are so stupid that they don't even realize it. Heh.

I'm going to share with you something even more important. Not the reason for my intelligence, good looks and very audible barking; they are all inborn, but the reason for my astonishing perseverance and military intelligence: I am a torture survivor. Yes, indeed, I spent my early years cooped up in a box no bigger than the ones humans have for shoes, and the attention that came my way consisted of kicks and broom handles. I learned what all those who are tortured learn: to remember and to hate. I learned to read the human growling and muttering and carefully remembered all the important terms (fucking dog, bitch, cunt). I vowed never to forgive and I have kept that promise.

When I liberated myself I sought a gullible goddess as my base camp and acquired more of those primitive terms that might come in useful (pizza, car, park, walkies and various spelled versions of these). By using these terms and by reacting to them appropriately I have easily conquered the household. My next step in the revolution was to engage several co-conspirators, beginning with Hank. But here the forces of nature worked against me. Who can work with a dog that came without a brain? But she is a dog, nevertheless, and I shall defend her with all my might. I had to change my plans slightly, that is all, and now I spend more time on audible monitoring of the neighborhood. Already several of the nearby houses are for sale, and I'm hopeful that they will be taken over by suitably teachable dogs. I shall keep you posted!

Henrietta the Hound

Not Again...


In a major setback for what the United Nations describes "as the world's worst humanitarian crisis," UN officials confirmed that the Sudanese government "carried out fresh helicopter gunship attacks in Darfur yesterday [Tuesday] while militia forces attacked refugees," report both Reuters and the Associated Press.

What is there to say? I don't even want to post this, but not posting this would be wrong, too. Maybe the Supreme Beings could start again with cockroaches.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Dignity and Disgust in Misogyny

Martha Nussbaum, a well-known philosopher, has recently written a book entitled Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law. Her main thesis is that while emotions such as anger, fear and compassion have a meaningful role to play in the formation and execution of laws, we should be much more wary of the role that disgust and shame can play in legal decisions. This is because disgust and shame have a different root from other commonly felt emotions, and this root grows from some very nasty soil.

Nussbaum argues that the feeling of disgust, especially, is often provoked not only by things which we might find disgusting (feces, animals, corpses, slimy and smelly objects), but also by groups of people that we have assigned the role of being disgusting. She quotes as examples Hitler's views on Jews and suggests that something similar may be provoke the current argument that homosexual marriages would defile the institution of marriage.

Shame functions somewhat similarly. Shame may be a consequence of wrongful acts, but it may also be used to stigmatize groups of individuals. Both shame and disgust generalize this way because human beings are frail and mortal and will ultimately die and rot and this is simply unbearable for many. By shaming some other groups of people and by expressing disgust at their behavior, especially those behaviors which are slimy, gooey or reminiscent of bodily orifices and wastes we can build some distance between ourselves and our animal nature with its unbreakable links to mortality.

This is an interesting theory. It would explain why societies 'need' a group of outcastes and how this group is created. Nussbaum points out that women have almost always carried some aspects of the disgusting and the shameful by just being born female. This is because women are more closely associated (in some minds at least) to the earthly via the processes of menstruation and giving birth, and because to some men the bodies of women are seen as the depositories of their own bodily wastes, the ever-present reminders of death. If one then combines the repugnance of the female body to such men with the idea of its sexual attractiveness, a base for misogyny may be created.

I am not sure if I find this theory an adequate one, but it is certainly true that many so-called primitive tribes attribute the reason for women's lower social standing to their ability to menstruate. This ability seems to be viewed as both disgusting and frightening at the same time, which supports Nussbaum's arguments.

If she is right, the term 'misogyny' should not be translated as simply 'hatred of women' but also, or perhaps even mostly, as 'disgust of women'. This would also explain the tinge of contempt that most misogynists exhibit and which can be absent in other types of hatred towards a group, and the view sometimes expressed that women should be ashamed of the fact that they are Eve's daughters.

What does this have to do with dignity? Nussbaum uses the term to express the opposite idea from the one that argues for the use of disgust and shame as a basis for laws. If I am found disgusting and shameful my dignity as a person is violated. But I think that the concept of dignity is used slightly differently by others who fear shameful and disgusting things. Though I have no idea whether Cardinal Ratzinger finds women shameful and disgusting, his use of the term in the recent letter about the role of women in the church and in the wider society is revealing:

. The Church, expert in humanity, has a perennial interest in whatever concerns men and women. In recent times, much reflection has been given to the question of the dignity of women and to women's rights and duties in the different areas of civil society and the Church.
(bolds mine)

Likewise, I have read the word 'dignity' on the Taliban website some years ago and also elsewhere in the writings of islamic fundamentalists about women. Women are seen as having 'dignity' when they are not accorded equality, and this term always made me very curious about its actual meaning. What is a dignified woman in the world that Cardinal Ratzinger or a Taliban theologian envisions? How is femaleness dignified? I believe that Nussbaum's theory shows me the correct way to read this term: it's not women's dignity that is being addressed at all, but the dignity of those who find women disgusting, and such dignity is best preserved by enforcing strict separation of the sexes or at least sexual roles. An equal woman would be undignified because she would provoke repugnance and disgust in the observer with conservative views, because she would get too close, would remind him too much of our shared bonds to the material, the wastes, the body that makes them, would remind him too much of his own death.

In this sense dignity is just another word for disgust.

A short introduction to Nussbaum's ideas can be found here.

The Terrorist Cat!

This is the official story about the mysterious cat (Macavity, anyone?):

The SN Brussels flight from the Belgian capital to Vienna, Austria, had been in the air about 20 minutes Monday when "it was noticed" that a passenger's pet had escaped from its cage, "although it is not yet clear how," according to an airline statement.
"Once free, the animal proceeded to wander around the cabin," slipping into the cockpit when meals were being delivered to the two-man flight crew, it said.
"At this stage the animal became agitated and nervous," it said. An airline spokeswoman added that the cat scratched the copilot's arm.
The pilot decided to return to Brussels as a precaution, and the 58 passengers departed once more two hours later on another flight.

Is this the real story? Decide for yourselves:

A cat identified as Al-Garfield Mahmud Allawi, escaped his cage in a Belgium Airliner, pretended to go to the restroom in the front of the airplane, and then entered the pilot's cabin and proceeded to attack him.

"It looked like he was trying to take over the airplane." Stated the pilot of the airplane, "All I saw was this cat coming at me. He kept saying 'meowjiad meowjiad'. I didn't understand at first what he was trying to say. Then it clicked. He was saying Jihad! Jihad!. I wrestled the cat to the ground and took control of the situation."

The airliner had to quickly turn around and come back to the Brussels International Airport where Belgium security forces along with the FBI and CIA where waiting there to apprehend the terrorist cat.

"I had no idea what to expect." Stated an FBI official, "I had no clue that Al-Qaeda was now using animals to do their dirty deeds."

As it turns out, Al-Garfield Mahmud Allawi is an American out of work cat actor who grew frustrated with Hollywood and moved to Afghanistan during the 1980's and joined Al-Qaeda.

"I was sick and tired of the American way of life." Stated Al-Garfield Mahumd Allawi, "It's all about being skinny, famous, rich and materialistic. I needed to get more spiritual. So I went to Afghanistan and there I learned the truth about you American pigs. That is why I wanted to help the cause. I volunteered to become a martyr. I want to go to heaven with my 73 virgin cats."

Check the picture of Al-Garfield in the second link, too. Of course this is all very questionable humor, but what wouldn't I do for the cat lovers among my readers...

Thanks to msCJ for the links.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Real Rich People Figure Out How To Dodge Taxes

Wow! New political science has been made! A totally new theory of taxation has been created! We are talking about something that will spin this world off its orbit, and things will never be the same again.

Here is our president George Bush on his campaign trail:

US President George W. Bush today said there was no point in taxing the rich because they just dodged their tax bill anyway.

"Real rich people figure out how to dodge taxes," he said during a campaign stop in suburban Washington.
Mr Bush's rival in the November 2 election, Democratic Senator John Kerry, has pledged to scrap the president's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in a bid to rein in the record US budget deficit.
Mr Bush said: "You've got to be careful about this rhetoric, we're only going to tax the rich. You know who the - the rich in America happen to be the small business owners."

So there's no point in taxing the rich because the rich are not just richer than the rest of us, they're also smarter. That leaves no rich people to be taxed, just small business owners. All is now clear and I can die in peace.

Thanks to backslider for the link.

Those Damned Ketchup Labels!

According to today's All Things Considered, the Bush campaign covered all the Heinz ketchup labels with Bush/Cheney stickers at a recent New Hampshire picnic where George Bush spoke. Why not just pick some other brand name of ketchup?

In general, the Bush campaign has adopted an approach to mass meetings with the president which smacks of either Potemkin-type stagecasting (if you're a Liberal) or just a good business practice of controlling your brand name image ( if you're a Conservative). This approach consists of vetting the people very carefully; you can't just turn up for a Bush meet, no. You also can't ask nasty questions of the president. Only nice and grateful comments are appreciated.

The negative aspect of this policy is that the president is totally surrounded with happy and grateful yes-men and yes-women. I envy him that as the snakes are rather stoic in their expressions, but I don't envy him all the negative criticism he probably never hears about. It reminds me of another public figure similarly held in the dark about some uncomfortable facts, the last tzar of Russia, and we all know what happened to him.

Prozac in the Drinking Water!

Supposedly Britain's drinking water now has measurable traces of the antidepressant medication Prozac. Environmentalists are concerned about its possible reproductive effects on the unsuspecting population, but others argue that the amounts are not large enough to cause concern:

The Observer said that a report by the government's environment watchdog found Prozac was building up in river systems and groundwater used for drinking supplies.
The exact quantity of Prozac in the drinking water was unknown, but the Environment Agency's report concluded Prozac could be potentially toxic in the water table.
Experts say that Prozac finds its way into rivers and water systems from treated sewage water, and some believe the drugs could affect reproductive ability. A spokesman for the Drinking Water Inspectorate said Prozac was likely to be found in a considerably watered down form that was unlikely to pose a health risk.
"It is extremely unlikely that there is a risk, as such drugs are excreted in very low concentrations," the spokesman said. "Advanced treatment processes installed for pesticide removal are effective in removing drug residues."

Drugs like Prozac are not supposed to work on people who are not depressed, so Prozac in the drinking water would not cause a nation of people on a permanent high. Still, it says something about the need for antidepressants that traces of their use can be spotted in the water system. This makes me wonder about the traces of all sorts of other things we use or consume: pesticides, paint removers and household cleaners. Maybe even conservative KoolAid. Prozac makes for better news, of course.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

A Presidential Poll

There are so many of these nowadays, asking important questions such as whether the respondent believes that Bush is intelligent or whether it was a great idea to occupy Iraq. I refuse to believe in the representativeness of these samples; the alternative would be to uproot the whole Snakepit Inc. and start life again on planet qyz45. Which I might have to do anyway, but there is still hope.

So I decided to create my own presidential poll. Here it is:

1. If you had to have emergency surgery performed on you, would you choose to have George Bush or John Kerry as the head surgeon?

2. If you had to choose either John Kerry or George Bush as the reading teacher of your only child, which would it be?

3. What have you learned from the first two questions about the desirability of having George Bush re-elected to run the world for another interminable four years?
a) Nothing. I already knew that he is an idiot.
b) Nothing. I am an idiot.
c) Ahaa! I guess I should vote for Kerry, then. Good for you.

Now, this might come across as a tad biased, but so might other polls that are actually treated with reverence. You could also argue that my blog is not a good way to reach deep into the American mainstream, but then I'd argue that the same could be said of many of the polls, too, especially the Internet ones.

Polls are very imperfect, in other words. What's sad is that they can have an impact, by telling us how supposedly the masses think, and by making some of us change their expressed opinions to match whatever is touted as the so-called public opinion. This is probably quite different from people's private opinions which often consist of I-don't-know-and-I-don't-care.

The only polling that really matters is voting.