Saturday, July 30, 2005

Saturday Dog Blogging

Kelly. For dog blogging on Saturday. It must be Saturday if I am in Rome?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Just a few newsbytes from Feminist Majority

Three press releases from Feminist Majority for your Friday afternoon; seven Democratic Senators, all women, told the media at a press conference that they will push Roberts to answer specific questions dealing with abortion and his position on the issue.

Seven Democratic women Senators announced at a press conference yesterday that they will insist Supreme Court justice nominee John Roberts respond to questions about his position on abortion. The Senators are also demanding that Roberts clarify his position on the right to privacy, which underlies not only a womanÂ’s right to legal abortion but also to birth control and a host of other civil rights for women and minorities. The Senators include Barbara Boxer (CA), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), Patty Murray (WA), Mary Landrieu (LA), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Maria Cantwell (WA).[...]

In an effort to give the public a say in Roberts’ confirmation hearings, the seven women senators have unveiled a new website that allows the public to submit questions that they would like the Judiciary Committee to ask of Roberts. “The Supreme Court has the last word on issues that impact all of our lives….This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land…We want the American people to have a voice,” say the women Senators in a joint statement on the website.

Leave it to the Democratic women Senators to have the courage to demand Roberts answer for his views on abortion. Goodness, why can't the other Democratic Senators do the same? In other news, Bolton hasn't been all that forthcoming in his past questionnaires and testimonies.

During his confirmation process, John Bolton, Bush's nominee to be the United StatesÂ’ ambassador to the United Nations, inaccurately stated in a questionnaire that he had not been interviewed as part of any administrative investigation within the last five years. After initially stating that Bolton had answered the question correctly, the State Department has confirmed reports that Bolton was interviewed by the State DepartmentÂ’s inspector general in an investigation into the false intelligence reports in 2003 that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium from Africa, according to the Associated Press.

Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesperson, told the New York Times, “When Mr. Bolton completed his forms for the Senate he did not recall being interviewed by the inspector general.” Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), who sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday asking about the inaccurate information provided by Bolton, said, “It seems unusual that Mr. Bolton would not remember his involvement in such a serious matter … In my mind, this raises more questions that need to be answered.”

BoltonÂ’s nomination has been stalled for months by Senate Democrats, led by Senator Biden, because of his history of hostility towards the United Nations, international law, and the International Criminal Court (ICC). President Bush has hinted that he will install Bolton in the position of US Ambassador to the UN in a recess appointment next week, even now that it has been confirmed that Bolton gave inaccurate information to the Senate during his confirmation hearing, according to Reuters.[...]
And as always with this administration when it comes to its members "behaving badly" or even outright illegally, I'm sure there won't be that much of a real outrage over it, no punishments, no sensationalised media circus, and nor will Bolton be properly reprimanded for it. Hell, look at Rove, he still has his job, and the media has been handling him with "kid gloves." How typical; no responsibility, no culpability, no admittance of ever being at fault, from this administration. But in more positive news today, a Judge found a company's refusal to cover women's contraception--so you know, women can keep working longer because they won't be on maternity leave--to be discriminatory and in violation of the Law.

US District Judge Laurie Smith Camp has ruled that Union Pacific Railroad's failure to provide contraceptive coverage in employee health plans was discriminatory and a violation of the 1964 Federal Civil Rights Act. Many preventative medications were covered by the plan, including impotence treatments, and Camp ruled that the policy discriminates by treating “medical care women need to prevent pregnancy less favorably than it treats medical care needed to prevent other medical conditions that are no greater threat to employees’ health than is pregnancy,” reports the Associated Press.

Union Pacific argued that fertility is “normal” and therefore contraception is not “medically necessary,” although it did cover contraceptives prescribed for purposes unrelated to birth control.[...]
Notice the subtle "women should get pregnant, rather than afford to take contraception, and keep working" undertone there. Women can only take contraception for non-birth control purposes. In another words, if a woman is taking contraception because she doesn't want to become pregnant (and "fulfill her biological destiny as a woman") she isn't covered. Meanwhile I'm sure the hypothetical woman's boss complains about women being on maternity leave. But yes, just keep pushing women out of the workforce and back into the home with lots of babies...

Planned Parenthood of Western Washington attorney Roberta Riley, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told Reuters that Union Pacific was one of the last major employers not to cover contraceptives, and that she hopes this case is “the nail in the coffin on this issue.” Union Pacific has 49,000 employees, and contraceptive coverage would affect not only the 1,300 female employees, but also the family members of all workers.
I wonder if they cover Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Enzyte, just as numerous insurance companies do, but not women's contraception. Would keeping men's penises erect and keeping them aroused be more "normal" then making sure that your female employees can stay working longer because you help them pay for their contraception? Which is more profitable and beneficial for the company in the end?

Get Your Own Tinfoil Hat!

Matt Taibbi has joined the tinfoil brigades:

I was in Washington last week, covering a story in Congress, when a friend invited me to a panel discussion in the basement of the Capitol building. I agreed before he told me what the subject was. Boy was I bummed when I saw the title on the e-circular:

What went wrong in Ohio? A Harper's Magazine Forum on Voting Irregularities in the 2004 Election.

Oh, Christ, not that, I thought. Like a lot of people in this country (and like most all of my colleagues in the journalism world), my instinctual reaction to the Ohio electoral-mess story has always been one of revulsion and irritation. Almost on principle I had refused even to look at any of the news stories surrounding the Ohio vote; there is a part of me that did not want to be associated with any sore-loser hysteria of the political margins, and in particular with this story, the great conspiratorial Snuffleupagus of the defeated left.

It had always seemed to me that I understood the psychology of the Ohio story without having to examine the facts involved. I thought the story appealed most directly to a group of people who were still reeling after 2000, an election which George W. Bush not only lost according to the popular vote, but plainly stole in the electoral college. The evidence for this theft has been there for everyone to see for five years now; few serious thinkers even dispute the matter anymore, just as few Democrats would even bother denying now that John Kennedy stole the 1960 election.

Then Taibbi find that perhaps there was a little more to what happened in Ohio and the rest of the country, too. It's a leedle disorienting to suddenly find oneself among the conspiracy theorists, I know, as that happened to me last November, and I'm the most rational of all goddesses (which may not say very much). The thing is, what looks like tinfoil-craziness from the outside may not look like that if one knows statistics and reads all the zillions of studies carried out about the elections. Some studies were discredited, others could be explained by more plausible theories, but too many remained unexplained and mysterious. Too many well-conducted studies which tell us that the confluence of events we observed is as likely to occur as the finding that the moon is made out of Edam, after all. And we are all just expected to ignore such little oddities.

But I digress. Let Taibbi tell what caused his slide into the group of us nutjobs:

• As was the case in Florida, the secretary of state (Kenneth Blackwell, in Ohio), who is in charge of elections, was also the co-chair of the state's Bush-Cheney campaign.

• In a technique reminiscent of the semantic gymnastics of pre-Civil Rights Act election officials, Blackwell replaced the word "jurisdiction" with "precinct" in an
electoral directive that would ultimately result in perhaps tens of thousands of provisional ballots—votes cast mainly by low-income residents—being disallowed

• Blackwell initially rejected thousands of voter registrations because they were printed on paper that was, according to him, the wrong weight.

• In conservative, Bush-friendly Miami County, voter turnout was an Uzbekistan-esque 98.55 percent.

• In Warren county, election officials locked down the administration building and prevented reporters from observing the ballot counting, citing a "terrorist threat" (described as being a "10" on a scale of 1 to 10) that had been reported to them by the FBI. The FBI made no such report. Recounts conducted during this lockdown resulted in increased votes for Bush.

• In Franklin County, 4,258 votes were cast for Bush in a precinct where there were only 800 registered voters.

There's lots more in the original documents, and some very similar things happened in several other states. No one incident may look like much, but if you add up all the myriad tiny incidents you get... what? I don't know because it has been regarded as somehow impolite or crude to look into the way elections are carried out in this country, or because we are told that the very same thing has happened in every single elections and therefore it's perfectly acceptable. Because we do it, too, you know.

Well, I doubt that anything on this scale has happened before, but even if it has isn't it time to start practising that thing Bush rants about: democracy? A good way of beginning our return to something that might resemble democracy is by returning to paper ballots in elections. At least all paper companies are not owned by Republican activists. Or so I hope.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Injunction that protects patients and staff of women's clinics heads to the Supreme Court

For seven years, the National Organization for Women has had a court-ordered injunction that protected patients and staff of women's clinics from anti-choice protestor violence--because I suppose violence, assault, hurling hateful slurs, bombings, shootings, stalking, threats, and vandalism are all apart of the misogynist "pro-life" dogma. This injunction was known as NOW v. Scheidler, and recently the Supreme Court agreed to review the case. And what is at stake is the safety and even the very lives of those who enter, exit, and work at women's clinics all across the country.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take another look at the nationwide injunction the National Organization for Women (NOW) obtained seven years ago against the Pro-Life Action Network (PLAN), Joe Scheidler and others, to stop violent attacks on women's health clinics.[...]

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the injunction after a jury concluded that the defendants' actions violated Rackteer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. After that decision, instances of clinic violence plummeted, and the defendants have relentlessly challenged this injunction against violent acts.

In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that while anti-abortion groups did commit crimes and interfere with clinic operations, the lower court's injunction could not be supported by these acts of extortion because no money or property had been obtained from the clinics as a result. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for further action, where NOW argued that even if defendants' acts of extortion were not covered by RICO, their acts and threats of physical violence were.

The 7th Circuit Court did not decide that issue, instead sending the case back to the district court to hear arguments and make an initial ruling. The defendants then appealed to the Supreme Court, demanding that the injunction be lifted without further proceedings in any other court.

"Of course they want to have the injunction lifted," Gandy said. "They want to return to the days of using physical assault to terrorize patients and providers as a way to shut down these clinics. But even if they win, they won't be able to do that—if they return to the violence we will pursue them under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act."[...]

And remember how cozy Roberts is with Operation Rescue, another violent anti-choice group. Imagine him on the bench when one of these cases reaches the Supreme Court. Explain how violent attacks are covered under the First Amendment again? What, the belligerent anti-choicer version of the First Amendment, who believe that Jeebus and G-d inspired them to commit violence and assault?

Traveling Thoughts

Traveling puts me into a philosophic mood. Didn't someone say that an untraveled life is not a life worth living? I wouldn't go quite that far, but traveling certainly opens up the eyes. Why else would we urge the young to travel and experience the world? Even the armed forces used to advertize the military by pointing out how much fun traveling could be. Now that the military travel is no longer fun the recruiting posters have changed to focus on more traditional education opportunities.

But traveling is educational, too, though often in unexpected ways. For example, we learn a lot more about our own countries by traveling abroad than we learn about the foreign places we visit, at least if the travel experience is a little bit more than the "Eight Countries in Eight Days" tours. You go abroad and by doing that you create distance to your homeland. After a while you start seeing its rules and institutions, for the first time perhaps, as just one possible societal arrangement. This alone is worth the price of a ticket to somewhere exotic.

The first thing I always notice when I arrive in a new country is the color of the light and the second is the way the air smells. But the third is, always and everywhere, the manner in which all kinds of cultures see their way of doing things as the only possible one, as the natural one, as obviously inborn and genetic. And every culture sees the rules and traditions of other cultures as silly or at least quaint and exotic. Which is really very funny when you think about it.

What makes it less funny (in the ha-ha sense) is the fact that many of our current politicians don't get this joke. To get it you must be at least prepared to travel, and George Bush has made travel unnecessary for world domination. Instead, he is trying to run the whole world as if the only natural, immutable and possible societal and market arrangements are those prevailing in the United States.

And this makes neither him nor us very popular abroad.

Today's Action Alert

This one comes from FAIR:

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has urged the U.S. government to create blacklists of condemned political speech--not only by those who advocate violence, but also by those who believe that U.S. government actions may encourage violent reprisals. The latter group, which Friedman called "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists," includes a majority of Americans, according to recent polls.

Friedman's July 22 column proposed that the State Department, in order to "shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears," create a quarterly "War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and writers who are inciting violence against others." But Friedman said the governmental speech monitoring should go beyond those who actually advocate violence, and also include what former State Department spokesperson Jamie Rubin calls "excuse makers." Friedman wrote:

After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow "understandable" is outrageous. "It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and terrorism," Mr. Rubin said, "and an open society needs to maintain a clear wall between them."

The "despicable" idea that there may be a connection between acts of terrorism and particular policies by Western countries is one that is widely held by the citizens of those countries. Asked by the CNN/Gallup poll on July 7, "Do you think the terrorists attacked London today mostly because Great Britain supports the United States in the war in Iraq?" 56 percent of Americans agreed. In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll (7/7-10/05), 54 percent said "the war with Iraq has made the U.S....less safe from terrorism." Since they see a connection between Iraq and terrorism, a majority of Americans are what Friedman calls "excuse makers" who "deserve to be exposed."

Friedman's column urged the government to create quarterly lists of "hatemongers" and "excuse makers"--as well as "truth tellers," Muslims who agree with Friedman's critique of Islam. Friedman's proposed list of "excuse makers" would have to include his New York Times colleague Bob Herbert, who wrote in his July 25 column, "There is still no indication that the Bush administration recognizes the utter folly of its war in Iraq, which has been like a constant spray of gasoline on the fire of global terrorism."

Leading members of the U.S. intelligence community might also find themselves on such a blacklist, based on a report summarized earlier this year in the Washington Post (1/14/05):

Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank.... According to the NIC report, Iraq has joined the list of conflicts--including the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, and independence movements in Chechnya, Kashmir, Mindanao in the Philippines, and southern Thailand--that have deepened solidarity among Muslims and helped spread radical Islamic ideology.

Though Friedman calls on the State Department to compile the "Top 10 hatemongers" list in a "nondiscriminatory way," it's doubtful that such a list would, in fact, even-handedly include all advocates of violence. It would not be likely, for example, to include someone like Thomas Friedman, who during the Kosovo War (4/6/99) called on the Clinton administration to "give war a chance," writing, "Let's see what 12 weeks of less than surgical bombing does." In a follow-up column (4/23/99) he declared that "Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation," and insisted that "every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted." Despite the fact that by calling for attacks on civilian targets he was advocating war crimes, Friedman should have no fear that he'll find himself on a State Department list of "hatemongers."

Friedman's suggestion that those who seek to understand or explain political violence are not part of "legitimate dissent" comes at a time when calls for censorship are becoming more and more blatant. Bill O'Reilly (Radio Factor, 6/20/05, cited by Media Matters, 6/22/05) made a chilling call for the criminalization of war opponents:

You must know the difference between dissent from the Iraq War and the war on terror and undermining it. And any American that undermines that war, with our soldiers in the field, or undermines the war on terror, with 3,000 dead on 9/11, is a traitor. Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care less.

The call for the arrests of Air America Radio hosts was said as though it were a joke, though O'Reilly is deadly serious when he says that the commentators on that network are "undermining" the war--and that such "undermining" is treason.

O'Reilly more recently (7/25/05) went after Herbert's column that argued that the Iraq War fueled terrorism: "Bob Herbert is most likely helping the terrorists, but his hatred of Mr. Bush blinds him to that. He's not alone, but this kind of stuff has got to stop. We're now fighting for our lives. And those helping the enemy will be brought to your attention."

"Attention," rather than arrests, is all that Friedman has threatened "excuse makers" like Herbert with. But it's a small step, as O'Reilly's rhetoric demonstrates, between marginalizing critics of U.S. foreign policy as "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists"--and criminalizing criticism itself.

ACTION: Please let Thomas Friedman know that opponents of the Iraq War do not deserve to be on a government blacklist--even if they oppose the war because they believe it encourages terrorism.

Thomas Friedman
c/o New York Times Editorial Page

As always, please remember that your comments have more impact if you maintain a polite tone.

In a way I feel sad about this action alert. It might have been fun to be included in the government's quarterly list of troublemakers!

Let's Try Again!

My wireless keyboard gave up on life, and it took me this long to find one that worked. Now I can try again. I'm not sure what exactly I'm trying here because jet lag has made a large nest in my brain, and the effect is a little bit like a permanent state of inebriation. Hiccup.

In any case, I'm gathering material about the old Europeans at a rapid rate. Life seems quite pleasant here on the continent which the wingnuts argue is going straight to hell in a handbasket. Taxes may be higher here (though that really depends on how one defines taxes), but services from the tax money seem quite a bit better than what we get in the U.S.. And people have lots more time for their families and stuff. You know, that thing called family values which doesn't really marry very well with the religion of free market economics and no worker protection and eighty hour workweeks and so on.

Now there is a cat sitting at my feet. He wants to lure me into cuddling his belly when he stretches on his back on the rug, but when I do so he starts biting me quite savagely. Odd creatures, cats. I'm not going to do his bidding, again. Fool me once etcetera.

Ok. This was just a practise post to get going again.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Greetings from Europe

I have arrived safely, and I'm learning to use this keyboard and stuff. Pseudo-Adrienne is taking care of the substance so I can do fluffy posts! Fun stuff.

So far I have learned that it's not a good conversation starter to come from the U.S.... Luckily, I'm a Greek goddess.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Majority of Americans want Roberts to answer questions on abortion and Roe

A new poll has shown that a majority of Americans want a straight-forward answer from Roberts on his opinion on abortion (gee, I wonder what it could be), and whether or not he would uphold Roe, if confirmed to be the new justice on the highest bench in the land.

A new poll found that the majority of Americans not only want to know Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' position on abortion but also want him to support a woman's right to legal abortion. According to a recent poll by the Washington Post and ABC News, 64 percent of Americans said that before the Senate votes on his nomination, Roberts should publicly state his position on abortion. Sixty-five percent said that they want Roberts to favor upholding Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the US. The poll further showed that 61 percent of Americans want Roberts to respond to questions about how he would have ruled on past Supreme Court cases.
And would this or anything else compel Roberts to answer us fluently and unambiguously on his exact position on women's reproductive rights and Roe? Forgive me if I don't hold my breath.

Just some info concerning these organizations, please?

It has already been reported that conservative and anti-choice groups such as the frequently aggressive and violent-towards-women-and-doctors-at-clinics--'Operation Rescue' (because that's "pro-life," remember?) and the pro-'Stepfordwife-ism' group 'Concerned Women of America' have given Roberts their endorsement and support to be the next justice on the Supreme Court. Naturally this would alert onlookers, such as pro-women's-reproductive-rights-advocates, who are anxiously concerned that these groups have too much influence over Roberts as he may have close contacts with group insiders . So NARAL Pro-Choice America has sent this "friendly" correspondence to the White House in the hopes of attaining more info on Roberts' legal history with these groups--especially dealing with his anti-Roe work with them.
Dear Ms. Miers:

Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, I am requesting records or descriptions of any contacts between your office, the office of Karl Rove, or any other White House employee with any of the groups named below concerning Judge John Roberts prior to his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Given the pressing nature of this information, and the upcoming U.S. Senate hearings on Mr. RobertsÂ’ nomination, I ask that you consider this request on an expedited basis. Surely, the American people have a right to the same information regarding a potential Supreme Court Justice as do representatives of ideological pressure groups.

We request information regarding contacts with any of the following groups:

American Society for Law and Justice
American Values
Christian Coalition
Committee for Justice
Concerned Women for America
Family Research Council
Focus on the Family
Heritage Foundation
Judicial Confirmation Network
National Right to Life Committee
Operation Rescue
Progress for America
Third Branch Conference
Traditional Values Coalition
That's really not all that much to ask for from this White House, is it? Because we all know how forthcoming this administration is when it comes to factual information. ::rolls eyes::

Monday, July 25, 2005

Santorum - An Evil Fraud

Yes, these are strong words from a generally mild goddess, but this man is truly evil. His new book It Takes A Family is coming out today, and according to the advertisement:

It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good is the first book by Rick Santorum. Throughout, Senator Santorum emphasizes that it is the family and not the federal government that must be at the center of an ordered and just society. To advance the Common Good, public policy must act in accordance with this truth. It Takes a Family will reinforce Senator Santorum's role as the leader of reform minded conservatives in America.

Note the part about "an ordered and just society". Santorum has a Confucian idea of the state, with the family seen as a microcosm of the state, and with the need to have strict hierarchies within both. Weird, this, considering that he is a Catholic, but then Santorum is a very weird man. I am going to show you just how weird he is by looking at three themes Santorum advocates: his urging that women return home from the labor force, his condemnation of the "hostile cultural climate" (caused by us liberals, he believes) which encourages adultery and sexually transmitted diseases, and his belief that religion and public life should be more intertwined.

1. Traditional Families For Everybody

Santorum doesn't just advocate for families, he advocates for a specific type of family and against all other types of families. The one he likes has a husband who goes out to work and a wife who stays at home, and equality of the two doesn't exactly enter Santorum's thinking:

"In far too many families with young children, both parents are working, when, if they really took an honest look at the budget, they might find they don't both need to," Santorum writes.

Right. Yet he himself can't support his family on an annual salary of $162,100 without occasional checks from his retired parents:

Rick and Karen Santorum, a former nurse and a nonpracticing attorney, have six children between the ages of 2 and 14, and live in Leesburg, Va., about an hour from Washington and as close to Washington as they could afford a home big enough for their family. (Karen Santorum would not be interviewed for this article.) Santorum drives himself to and from Capitol Hill in a 2001 Chevy TrailBlazer. He will not work Sundays, except in extraordinary circumstances, and he rarely stays overnight when traveling because he does not like to be away from his family. He tends a large vegetable garden and several fruit trees, cuts his own grass and does home repairs. Santorum says he does not want his home-state voters to think he feels impoverished on his $162,100 Senate salary, but it is clear that money is a concern and that he is almost certainly one of the least well-off among the 100 senators.

''We live paycheck to paycheck, absolutely,'' he says. Does he have money set aside for college? ''No. None. I always tell my kids: 'Work hard. We'll take out loans. Whatever.' '' He volunteers that his parents help out financially. ''They're by no means wealthy -- they're two retired V. A. employees -- but they'll send a check every now and then. They realize things are a little tighter for us.''

Interesting, isn't it? He is accepting handouts from his parents who are not wealthy and who get their money from the retirement system that Santorum is working to destroy. If Santorum cannot quite make it on a salary that most of us would find princely, what does he expect ordinary families to do?

What he expects women to do is to return home, at least if they have children. He also likes the idea of home-schooling (all his children are home-schooled), especially if he can charge someone else for the teaching materials. His idea of the traditional family seems to be one where the mother will be fully employed in doing everything for nothing while the rest of the society gets a free ride.

And why aren't women eagerly obeying Santorum's stern advice? There is the money thing, of course, as families have to eat, but it's not exactly attractive for women to be told that working outside the home and enjoying it makes a mother morally deficient.

What about same-sex marriages? Wouldn't it make sense to let gays and lesbians marry so that there would be less of all that rutting about Santorum so strongly disapproves of? Here is his answer:

When I asked him if he viewed gay marriage as a threat to his own marriage, he answered quickly. ''Yes, absolutely,'' he said. ''It threatens my marriage. It threatens all marriages. It threatens the traditional values of this country.''

2. Sodom and Gomorrh

Santorum believes that the society is crumbling because of a "hostile social culture", pornography and extramarital affairs. Santorum has decided that all this is caused by us liberals and progressives. Not business interests or all those wingnuts I see in the news when they get caught for something really nasty, like sex with minors. Nope, it's progressives and liberals who advocate these vices. Of course he also fails to point out that mistresses and brothels have been around a very long time indeed.

What he sees everywhere today is something he calls "no-fault freedom":

One example of the consequences of no-fault freedom, he says, is how sexual freedom has resulted in "the debasement of women, mental illness, and an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, causing infertility cancer, even death."

He also rails against the "hostile cultural climate" -- influenced by the moral values shown on television shows such as "Friends" and "Sex in the City" to violent video games -- where parents must raise their kids, and praises companies such as Wal-Mart for refusing to sell some music CD's with offensive language.

The debasement of women. Mmm. I have heard that before from antifeminists. It goes hand-in-hand with the idea of women's dignity. Women's dignity is preserved only when they are safely subjected to men and the church. Some might think that deserves the title of debasement, too, but not Santorum. What is hidden from the public eye seems to be acceptable, and sometimes even public immoral acts are acceptable. If it's a wingnut who commits them:

FOR A GUY who just wrote a stinging book about family values, Sen. Rick Santorum sure sounded mealy-mouthed when asked about U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood's dalliances.

"I don't know how it's going to shake out," Santorum said Monday during an appearance at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Plains Township. "All I would suggest is that, again, until we know all the facts and we look at the job that Congressman Sherwood is doing and make decisions based on the facts and the work he's doing."

Santorum dodged a reporter's question about whether the allegations against Sherwood have hurt the Republican Party.

"I think what hurts and helps the Republican Party is what we're doing in serving the American people," he said, shifting the focus to the media, which he said likes to focus on racy and scandalous stories.
Sherwood, 64, has admitted to some sort of relationship with 29-year-old Cynthia Ore and apologized, more or less, to his wife and three daughters. Three days after a Times Leader story ran on April 30 about a 911 call Ore made to police saying Sherwood started to choke her, Sherwood issued a statement saying he's sorry for causing his family and supporters "pain and embarrassment."

Santorum is a two-faced fuckwit. In any sany society we wouldn't even know about this guy. In this one, he is harboring ambitions to run for the president of the United States.

I'm not going to even mention Santorum's arguments that it was the "no-holds freedom" in liberal Boston that caused the pederasty scandal in the Catholic church. Oops, I just did.

3. Religion

Santorum is a very religious man:

Santorum is not a reader of Scripture -- ''I've never read the Bible cover to cover; maybe I should have'' -- and has no passages he clings to when seeking spiritual guidance. ''I'm a Catholic, so I'm not a biblical scholar. I'm not someone who has verses he can pop out. That's not how I interact with the faith.''

How does he interact with it, then? If he is going to enforce his religion on all of us, we have the right to know where he gets his religious ideas from. Is it from the priests in the Catholic church? And if he hasn't read the Bible cover to cover (I have, and I'm a pagan goddess), how can he be so certain that his interpretations are the correct ones?

I guess it doesn't matter. People who are fanatically single-minded never see any complexity anywhere, never doubt their own personal telephone line to some divinity. Such people scare me.

Maybe the Dems will give us deeds rather than empty rhetoric

I don't believe a day goes by and the Congressional Democrats don't surrender in some fashion to the Republicans, and screw-over their voting base somehow. Already "moderates" and some Democrats in Congress have spoken of Bush's Supreme Court nominee, John G. Roberts Jr., as someone who perhaps does not warrant a harsh confirmation hearing. Oh joy. Then again, recently the Democrats have suggested that they will challenge Roberts on numerous key issues, that probably someday he would be confronted with as a justice on the Supreme Court, if he is confirmed.

Facing an uphill battle over the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court, Democrats plan to challenge President Bush's nominee on economic, social and regulatory issues, hoping to use the confirmation process to highlight their differences with the Republicans and exploit them for future electoral gains.[...]

Many Democratic strategists concede that Bush won the opening round of the confirmation battle, through his choice of a nominee who has been praised for his intellect and temperament and by a skillful unveiling that kept everyone guessing about the nominee's identity until an hour or so before Bush and Roberts appeared in the East Room of the White House.

[...] "The other side knew what moves they were making and we were necessarily reacting. . . . We quickly realized this was a candidate who needed further scrutiny. It would have been unrealistic to come out blasting John Roberts. It was time to hold our fire."

In that sense, the Democratic strategy remains a work in progress. The first goal of Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) has been to maintain a united front of neutrality among his Democratic colleagues and to avoid falling into what they see as a GOP-laid trap to vilify Roberts immediately and appear obstructionist and extreme.

Hmph. So the New York Times have taken to Bush's characterization of the Democrats as the "obstructionist party." Oh if only they really were, I would actually agree with them or even Bush.

[...]But Leahy suggested that the Democrats' response to Roberts is not an indication that the nominee will have an easy time in the confirmation hearings. Leahy said that, even without having had an opportunity to fully explore Roberts's record, he already has serious questions about abortion and states' rights vs. federal power.

[...]The two sides sparred yesterday over the Democrats' plan to request documents covering Roberts's tenure in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Former Republican senator Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.), who is shepherding the nomination through the Senate on behalf of the White House, said the administration would oppose such a request, citing attorney-client privilege.

[...]Democrats face some difficult choices, individually and collectively, as they prepare for the upcoming battle, beginning with the issue of abortion. Senate Democrats have signaled their desire to broaden the challenge to Roberts and not to make his confirmation a debate about the future of Roe vs. Wade , which establishes a woman's right to an abortion. But that could frustrate some of the Democrats' most important constituency groups.

Democratic strategists fear that party activists could rebel if Senate Democrats fail to make abortion a central issue. "Women know what's at stake here, and they will make their voices heard during the process and will make their voices heard at the ballot box next November," said Ellen Moran, executive director of Emily's List.

[...]Leahy jokingly dismissed the notion that Democrats have a grand strategy but made clear that he believes the confirmation hearings will be illuminating. An aide to another Democratic senator put it this way: "At the end of the day, we don't know what will happen with Roberts. At the very least, we will show what Democrats stand for."
You mean actual stances that you don't runaway from because things get 'too hard' and you allow the cheap-shots of the neocon-Republicans and fundie ideologues undermine your resolve to represent your alleged party-platform? Yes, I and I'm sure many others would enjoy seeing you do that during these confirmation hearings. Then we'll know for sure if you're even worth our vote and support, or if we could just sleep-in on election days. Or form a new party--just to throw some ideas out there.

Biology, science--along with some political wrangling

Currently there are many restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research because the fundie-wingnuts pulling all the strings of this current presidential administration and neocon-Republican dominated Congress are afraid that it will lead to mass government funding of "snowflakes" or "microscopic Americans" being 'slaughtered' needlessly in petri dishes, all in the name of "hedonist, lefty, godless" science. Only already existing embryos can be "harvested" for stem cells, but new ones can't be created and used for the same purpose, though scientists have said that the "reserves" for the already existing embryos are running low--if memory serves correctly. Though it has been theorized by many doctors and scientists that perhaps stem cell research could lead to locating the causes for diseases, viruses, disabilities, and even the creation of treatments to combat these illnesses and health complications, our government--rather than let educated physicians and scientists figure it out and get back to us on their findings--would allow wingnut ideology to impede medical science. Seems almost nostalgic of the Roman Catholic Church censoring astronomers, biologists, and other scientists who discovered things contrary to the Church's dogma. Anyway, last Friday, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) has hinted that he may push the addition of an attached bill that would expand federal funding for stem cell research.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) indicated yesterday that he may attach a bill to expand federal funding for stem cell research as an amendment to the Labor-Health and Human Services 2006 appropriations bill. “I don’t like to put it on the appropriations bill, but we waited long enough,” said Specter, one of the primary sponsors of the bill, according to the Washington Post. The appropriations bill will be debated and voted on after the August recess. “I’ll bring [the stem cell research bill] us as the first amendment out of the box,” Specter said, according to Reuters.

The bill, which has already passed in the House, had been tentatively scheduled to receive a full Senate vote in the month of July. However, the bill has been stalled because of Republican attempts to introduce alternative stem cell research bills that would, among other things, only allow the harvest of stem cells without destroying embryos, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think there has been an effort to obfuscate the House-passed bill with a collection of other bills,” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), another primary sponsor of the bill, told Reuters.[...]
And I cannot wait to see the Republicans attempt to cut-up and re-write Senator Spector's proposed bill. Any guesses as to which Senator will reference "little Americans being killed in science labs?" But in other news in the realm of biological-polity, the women of Massachusetts may soon have access to emergency contraception at their local pharmacy without prescription and hospital if all goes well.

This week, the Massachusetts House and Senate both overwhelmingly approved legislation to make emergency contraception available from pharmacists without prescriptions and to require hospitals to offer it to rape victims. Following a final procedural vote in the Senate, expected next week, the bill will move to the desk of Governor Mitt Romney (R).

Although Romney indicated support for emergency contraception during his 2002 campaign, he has not taken a position on this legislation, prompting speculation that he is attempting to move right on choice issues in advance of a possible presidential campaign, reports the Associated Press. Nonetheless, the bill seems likely to become law for Massachusetts. Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) has expressed her support for the bill, and should it come up for approval during the Governor’s vacation would be able and willing to sign it into law, according to the MetroWest Daily News. Furthermore, the final version passed with the support of more than two-thirds of legislators, enough to override Romney’s possible veto.[...]
Well good. I think there is significant population of women in Massachusetts who do not enjoy having their reproductive rights toyed with by opportunistic politicians, who would turn anti-choice at the drop of hat in order to appease anti-choice organizations so as to receive more financial campaign contributions from them. Of course I'm "prejudging" and cynically speculating as to what Governor Romney will do with this bill. But with all the cop-out, quasi-pro-choice politicians we have how could I not be? **cough**Democrats!**cough** But, good for the Senate and House of Massachusetts for passing this bill, because such a proposal as this wouldn't even make it out of the mouth of a lawmaker here in Hoosier Land. Sigh... Thank goodness I have close relatives over there in Mass'--even an 'in-law' who works at a CVS and dispenses E.C. without giving it a second thought. She's your everyday pro-choice, liberal Catholic.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Blundering Around Haphazardly

"Real men get things done by blundering around haphazardly". This deep thought about the Bush administration, courtesy of Philaelethes of the blog Bouphonia, summarized my feelings nicely when I read this:

The Justice Department blocked efforts by its prosecutors in Seattle in 2002 to bring criminal charges against Haroon Aswat, according to federal law-enforcement officials who were involved in the case.

British authorities suspect Aswat of taking part in the July 7 London bombings, which killed 56 and prompted an intense worldwide manhunt for him.

But long before he surfaced as a suspect there, federal prosecutors in Seattle wanted to seek a grand-jury indictment for his involvement in a failed attempt to set up a terrorist-training camp in Bly, Ore., in late 1999. In early 2000, Aswat lived for a couple of months in central Seattle at the Dar-us-Salaam mosque.

A federal indictment of Aswat in 2002 would have resulted in an arrest warrant and his possible detention in Britain for extradition to the United States.

"It was really frustrating," said a former Justice Department official involved in the case. "Guys like that, you just want to sweep them up off the street."

British intelligence officials now think that in the days and hours before the July 7 bombings, Aswat was in cellphone contact with at least two of the four suicide bombers, according to The Times of London.

But wait a minute, was it the same Aswat? The Bush administration has had a lot of trouble with the names of various people who might or might not be terrorist suspects. But it seems to have been easier in the past just to sweep all of them into some nice location where they can be "questioned", so why would they let this guy go free, whether he is the right Aswat or not?

Nobody seems to know for sure why Aswat was released, but this is interesting:

As law-enforcement officials in Seattle prepared to take that case to a federal grand jury here, they had hoped to indict Aswat, Ujaama, Abu Hamza and another associate, according to former and current law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the case.

But that plan was rejected by higher-level officials at Justice Department headquarters, who wanted most of the case to be handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York City, according to sources involved with the case.

Ever since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Justice Department had funneled terrorism cases to its New York office, which had a lot of experience in that area. This frustrated law-enforcement officials in Seattle, who thought they also had a track record for handling terrorism prosecutions — such as that of Ahmed Ressam, trained by al-Qaida and arrested Dec. 14, 1999, in Port Angeles with the makings of a powerful bomb hidden in his rental car.

Justice Department supervisors in Washington, D.C., gave the Seattle office the go-ahead to seek an indictment against Ujaama only.

The-biggest-pecker competition amongst the judiciary, perhaps?

Old Yurp

I'm going there for three weeks tomorrow. With the exception of travel days, I have access to a computer (and a broadband!!!), so I plan on blogging from the other side of the puddle. But some of the time I'm going to talk to real people over there, to find if Rumsfeld is correct. This means fewer posts than usually. Luckily, Pseudo-Adrienne has kindly agreed to guest blog for me while I'm gone.

I'm happy now. Pseudo-Adrienne is here, the suitcases are packed and the dogs and snakes have gone to their favorite human being for a nice little vacation. And you will get posts with an exotic and refined flavor from me over there.

In Honor of Brett

I'll be Waiting.

Brett, a beautiful, smart and good dog has gone ahead on that long road we are all traveling. He wanted to wait for his friend, Raznor, the one he had shared miles and miles of wonderful travel with. But today he could no longer wait: the exciting scents and sounds from around the bend of the road were too much, so he turned his head and told Raznor that he'd be waiting for him, right around the bend.

And beautiful, smart and good dogs like Brett always keep their word.

The Raging Grannies

This is so lovely. The Raging Grannies, members of an anti-war group, caused havoc outside an Arizona military recruitment center:

Elderly members of a US anti-war group called the "raging grannies of Tucson" are due in court following a protest at an Arizona military recruitment centre.

They have been accused of trespassing after entering the centre earlier this month, saying they wanted to enlist.

The group, mostly women in their 60s and 70s, said they wanted to go to Iraq so their grandchildren could come home.

An army spokeswoman says the protesters were not serious about enlisting and were harassing recruiters.

Nine people - five elderly activists and four journalists - are due to appear in court on Monday.

How can the army spokeswoman know how serious the grannies were? Look at them:

Heh. I like these grannies. They should go to Bush next.