Saturday, August 13, 2005

This is Funny!

Advice in the case of terrorist attacks. Sort of. Go here.

Lest We Forget...

Or at least lest I forget, here is a reminder that the Bush administration is still a scandalous one as well as full of scandals. Think Progress reports on the large numbers of administration officials which have connections to the outing of a CIA agent.

And yes, indeed, people here in Europe don't understand why Americans elected Georgie Porgie (if he was elected), and people here in Europe also worry about how to talk to Americans now that these appear to be as fundamentalist as the Taliban rather than second cousins once removed. I'm telling them about the Left Behind -series and warning them of the possibility that the American fundies might see Europe as the domain of the devil. Sigh. There was a time when this would have been a not-so-funny joke.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Via BitchPhD again, I have discovered that NARAL Pro-Choice America has decided to pull their anti-Roberts ad. And now....are we here in the pro-choice community and movement going to keep bickering amongst ourselves about NARAL's tactics, or are we going to get our shit together, and focus our energy and protest on the threat of a Supreme Court Justice John Roberts?! Especially when it comes to protecting our civil rights and liberties such as privacy and a woman's right to choose--both of which Roberts apparently is not a fan. Priorities, people. Which is worse? NARAL doing something we don't like and us attacking each other about it, and splintering as a movement? Or forgetting all about the threat of Roberts on the bench and him even getting there with relative ease because we were too busy quibbling amongst ourselves (and with NARAL) to actually raise a protest against him? It's Roberts who we should be going after relentlessly, not NARAL. Focus. Yes, Roberts will probably make it to the bench...but that doesn't mean we have to make it easy for him.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

NARAL's ad, criticisms,, and irate pro-choice women bloggers

As some of you may have known and even discussed already throughout the blogosphere, NARAL Pro-Choice America recently put out a new ad exposing Roberts' past legal anti-Roe history. He willing sided with violent anti-choice extremists such as Bray who was a convicted clinic bomber--a domestic terrorist (see Bray v. Alexandria and N.O.W. v. Scheidler for more info). Roberts didn't have to represent Bray or anti-choice extremists (who define "pro-life" as bombing clinics, murdering doctors and clinic staff), and go against the attorney generals' decision at the time, but he did so anyway.

Of course, the ad was met with criticism--from the pro-choice community and movement. Many feared that the ad had "untruths" within it and suggested going to to do an analysis of the ad. (here's their analysis of the ad) Well NARAL did a fact-check of their own and found this... (via BitchPhD.)

On Monday, NARAL Pro-Choice America released our ad "Speaking Out" concerning John Roberts' record of siding with radical anti-choice groups in a critical Supreme Court case. By now you've likely seen an analysis of that ad from We wanted to share with you the attached document showing conclusively that their analysis was completely wrong. The basic fact about this case is incontrovertible: In his role as a top legal strategist for the first Bush Administration, Roberts put the U.S. Government on the side of individuals and organizations that had used violent tactics against women's health clinics -- in a case that was critical to efforts to curtail that violence. [...]

Factcheck.orgs analysis of the television advertisement released by NARAL Pro-Choice America on August 8, 2005 is deeply flawed, and its conclusion that the “ad is false” is unsubstantiated and should be retracted. The analysis, written by Matthew Barge, identified as a recent college graduate(1), is riddled with legal and factual errors and in many instances virtually mirrors the White House’s talking points[...];....The ad is not “false.” John Roberts did indeed file briefs supporting violent fringe groups, with the effect of excusing their actions by helping to remove a crucial legal remedy that had been the most effective tool against them.[...] Makes Factual Misstatement About “Clinic Bomber” Statement in Ad: asserts that ad is false in part because Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic “didn’t deal with bombing at all.” However, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s ad never claimed that it did. What the ad did claim – and what is in fact true – is that John Roberts “sided with violent fringe groups, including a convicted clinic bomber.” Long before Roberts involved himself in the case, Michael Bray, one of the named defendants in the Bray case, was convicted for his role in the bombings of several reproductive health facilities(2). John Roberts did, therefore, side with a convicted clinic bomber. He also sided with a violent fringe group - the violent history of Operation Rescue is well known. Falsely Suggests that Roberts Did Not Support Bray Defendants: In a puzzling statement, states that “the ad misleads when it says Roberts supported a clinic bomber. It is true that Roberts sided with the bomber...” Mr. Barge further states that Roberts merely “made the same arguments as” the defendants. However, there is no question that Roberts sided with convicted bomber Michael Bray and the other defendants, and, in doing so, Roberts supported those defendants....The filing of an amicus brief is a discretionary act, and the office of the Solicitor General enjoys wide latitude in deciding whether to intervene as an amicus in any particular case. If the Solicitor General’s office did not intend to support the Bray defendants, the office could have chosen to intervene on the side of the reproductive health clinics or not to intervene in the case at all.[...] Makes Factual Misstatement About Roberts’ Legal Argument: It is worth noting that even’s legal description of the brief Roberts filed in the Bray case is not accurate. Mr. Barge states that Roberts argued that the act at issue in the case “applied only to conspiracies to deprive people of civil rights due to racial discrimination, not gender discrimination.” In fact, that was not Roberts’ position. Roberts actually argued that, regardless of whether gender discrimination was covered by the act at issue in the case, the clinic blockades were not gender discrimination at all. The brief states that the question of whether gender discrimination was actionable under the law was one that there was “no need to answer” in this case(4). The brief further adds that, even if the act at issue was “broad enough to reach gender-based animus, the actions taken by the petitioners are not a form of gender-based discrimination(5).”[...] Minimizes Operation Rescue’s Lawlessness: paints a grossly misleading picture of the nature of Operation Rescue “protestors.” At the time of Bray, reproductive health clinics were under siege by anti-choice extremists. In many cases, state law enforcement was outnumbered, overpowered, and overwhelmed, despite their best efforts. For example, in their amicus brief in Bray, the State Attorneys General of Virginia and New York pleaded to the Supreme Court to make federal civil rights laws and remedies available to reproductive health clinics and other victims of Operation Rescue’s lawlessness. They insisted that “[n]o state, or group of states, is equipped alone to deal with and redress the deprivations of federal rights caused by the nationwide activity of Operation Rescue(7).”[...] Is Profoundly Misguided To State That Operation Rescue’s Behavior Is Akin to the Civil Rights Movement: Mr. Barge states that Operation Rescue’s actions “in some ways mirrored the non-violent tactics used earlier by civil-rights activists.” This restatement of anti-choice extremists’ talking points is clearly untrue. As Justice Stevens wrote in Bray, “the demonstrations in the 1960's were motivated by a desire to extend the equal protection of the laws to all classes – not to impose burdens on any disadvantaged class...Justice Stevens also noted that Bray “presents a striking contemporary example of the kind of zealous, politically motivated, lawless conduct that led to the enactment of the Ku Klux Act in 1871 and gave it its name(11).” [...]

(2) Bray was convicted of two counts of conspiracy and one count of possessing unregistered explosive devices. The court sentenced him to 10 years in prison and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $43,782. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned his conviction on a technicality relating to jury selection. Before he was retried, Bray entered a plea that resulted in him serving 46 months in prison.[...]
(read the rest at BitchPhD to see the resources cited by NARAL as they refuted and also see Scott Lemieux's post about the NARAL ad)

Forty-six months for bombing clinics--a terrorist gets only forty-six months. Had he'd been a member of Al Qaeda or some other extremist from the Middle East.....well, it doesn't even need to be mentioned, we know what would have happen to him. So, I will agree, needs some fact-checking of its own. And we here in the pro-choice movement need to stop quibbling over a flawed analysis of serious legal briefings in our nation's highest court. We need to focus on Roberts and his ties to violent anti-choice extremists he willing defended, though he didn't have to. By fracturing ourselves over "what this person said and this person said" gossip over a not-so-credible-after-all source on the net, we are loosing focus of our main objective which is bringing to light and into the eye of the public, Roberts' legal and ideological alliances with violent anti-choice terrorists. He did not have to defend them, but he did anyway. This is what the anti-choicers want--for us to loose our shit over what a not-all-that-credible source on the net wrote-up, so we'll forget about Roberts and what was our goal to begin with. Divide and conquer--it actually works.

Anyway, there was also criticism of NARAL's past endorsements of pro-choice Republican candidates, who vote against choice when they're in office. I will admit, that yes, these are valid criticisms, as one who values a woman's right to choose--her right to be an autonomous human being--cannot always trust nor expect the Republicans once they are in power, to keep their end of the bargain should they say at least during their campaign that they are pro-choice. When more than likely, they will cave-in to the majority vote of their party which usually leads them to be ardently anti-women's-reproductive-rights. So yes, NARAL should stop endorsing pro-choice Republicans until it is proven from the voting and legal records of these "pro-choice Republicans" that they are bona fide pro-choicers who would actually vote against the majority vote of the [anti-choice] Republicans, and are not just bullshitting us to get our vote. NARAL has made errors in their strategy and hopefully they will do all within their power to fix them. If not, then yes, we should voice our criticisms of their tactics to them.

And now what you all have been waiting for--the dismissive, obviously sexist quips from so called "A-list" male bloggers such as the DailyKos, whom I have dubbed to be Frat-Boy-Lefty-Bloggers. There, I said it. Predictably they have been dismissing pro-choicers, women, and--duh--feminist bloggers who object to their "shut-up and listen here girlies, we can't deal with your girly pet causes right now, the big men are trying to deal with important shit right now" line of rhetoric and approach to the whole Roberts issue and the Democrat Party's platform. In this post over at the DailyKos, they attack NARAL's call to "A-list" left-leaning blogs to speak up about pro-choice issues and join the fight against Roberts. Because you know, that's what we're supposed to do since we're progressive and all that (or at least we say we are). But apparently, not so, in the "A-list" male corner of the progressive, lefty-blogosphere. Standing against a man who voluntarily represented anti-choice terrorists--because his anti-choice ideological sentiments are that strong and would compel him to do so--"aren't important enough." Instead, it's all about their Machiavellian strategy to get back at the Republicans, while disparaging and shooting-down their fellow pro-choice, liberal women, and feminist bloggers in general in the process. Hence why it is Machiavellian--"the ends justify the means"....they wish. Apparently, for so called "A-list" lefty male bloggers, telling pro-choicers--especially feminist women bloggers--to shut-up and let the big boys take care of everything, will make everything "a-okay" in the end. Rolling over on Roberts' confirmation, glossing over his past legal history and his strong ideological sentiments that would voluntarily drive him to defend anti-choice terrorists, and buying into the Rightwing's b.s. that he is a "moderate" will make everything "okay" for us in the end. [raises hand] Um, bullshit?! I'm just sayin'.

Here's Feministing's response to this.....

KosÂ’ post revealed a lot more than his feelings on NARAL; it made clear how he feels about womenÂ’s rights in general.

You know, nothing says they have to endorse an anti-abortion Democrat, but clearly they don't understand that good politics -- turning the Senate Democratic is far more beneficial for their issue (women rights) than anything the Republicans can muster.
Until NARAL (and the rest of the single-issue groups) understand that building a movement is more beneficial to their causes than singular devotion to their pet causes, I can't take them seriously.

Kos goes on to say that the groups he does take seriously are those “working to build an effective progressive movement, not a single issue.”

ItÂ’s bad enough to peg choice as a mere single issue, but womenÂ’s rights as a whole? Maybe itÂ’s just me, but I donÂ’t see how a progressive movement will be effective without addressing womenÂ’s rights.

But this kind of dismissive attitude isnÂ’t exactly new. It reeks of the New LeftÂ’s sexism that in part sparked the second wave.

Susan Brownmiller in In Our Time tells of a pivotal moment in the beginning of the womenÂ’s movement that occurred in the 1968 National Convention for New Politics. Jo Freeman and Shulamith Firestone had drafted a resolution on women, which was to be met with an all-too familiar pooh-poohing:

Back at the main session, Jo ran down the aisles handing out copies of the resolution while Shulie charged to the podium. “Cool down, little girl,” the session chairman told her. “We have more important things to talk about than women’s problems.”

Brownmiller also discusses the reaction of her male counterparts after women marched in an anti-war demonstration with a float dedicated to womenÂ’s rights:

The peace activists were appalled...Stopping the Vietnam War was the priority was still the chief priority, wasnÂ’t it? [This] action, they howled, was petty, disloyal, divisive.

Sound familiar?
Yes. But then again, what's the fight for preserving women's rights without some bashing from so called "liberal" and "progressive" male bloggers? (also see this other Feministing post, dealing with the same issue with Kos's response to NARAL and pro-choice, women bloggers). This fight against Roberts and unfortunately ourselves will be nasty, vicious, yet passionate as this fight deals with our--women's--fundamental right to control our body, and demand that our leaders, the Democrats--the people we voted for who are supposed to promote and ensure our rights and liberties--do their damn job to protect us from people such as Roberts and his ilk.

And remember, stop relying and hoping that the Frat-Boy-Lefty male bloggers will take our rights seriously, gals. It's up to us, not them. Let them play their little game of getting back at the Republicans via petty and shameless means in order to do so, by screwing over and shitting all over their fellow lefty-bloggers (just like the Democrats screwing over their voting-base) in the process, and we'll take care of business. Focus on Roberts and bringing a woman's right to choose and women's rights back to the forefront of this struggle. This is about our rights. But then again, I'm just a college-sophomore and some hysterical pro-choice feminist blogger--what do I know about politics? I'm probably just as bad (or worse than) as that recent college-grad over at, so I have no room to talk. But I don't work on a site called either and claim that I never make mistakes--I make mistakes all the time.

Lastly from Culture Kitchen, I leave you with this....

(1) People on your side are attacking this ad. What do you say about that?

(2) Is this the battle to invest in?

This is the swing vote. This is what shifts the court to the right. We could lose Rowe with this vote. This one is important.

"It is factual and it is tough".

There are consequences to the decision in Bray, that's why they are attacking Robets. A rash of violence has come about after Bray.

Roberts sided with the extremists and took away the tools law enforcement had to prevent these attacks to happen.

This is Sandra Day O'Connor'sseat and that is why this court appointment is about choice.

The fact of these organizations have our issues that we have to keep on the table. My job is to argue for women and their right to choose. The criticism is because we have affiliates over the states. You have to talk to the people on the ground and you have to take your criticism to them. We deal with candidates on the national level. Not an excuse just merely a reality. This is the deal it is us and it is them.

Vicky Suporter, President of the National Abortion Federation

Alice Cohen, Political Director of the feminist majority

Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL

This is coming from top male bloggers.
Do not rely on frat boys.
Markos says it is a women's issue organization.

This guy defended terrorist.
The majority of Americans support choice.
Anti-abortion is not the same as anti-choice.

This is not just about Roberts, this is about bringing choice back on the table on the political landscape.

A good strategy would be to push for state rights campaigns.

If we work from the POV that Roberts will get the nomination, what do we want?

IRONCLAD PARTY DISCIPLINE! Vote against him, make sure you express clearly how it is imperative to uphold the constitutional right to privacy as the foundation of choice, not just in relation to reproductive rights, but in relations to choose how we live, love, procreate and even die.
It was fun, gals ;-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What Do Men Want?

I've been reading women's magazines, again. They are interesting. Like messages from another reality. This time I read a long piece on what men want from women, with interviews of ten such men. Three of them wanted women to subjugate themselves to them, the rest wanted stuff like honesty and friendliness and so on.

What struck me about the whole piece was how preposterous it is to ask a question like this: What do men want from women?, when the answers are about what a particular man wants from a particular woman; the one he is paired with. The majority of this planet's people are women, and most of them are of no particular interest to any one man. Why, then, do we frame the question in such a generalizing and even sexist manner? The same applies to the stories which ask what women want from men. Though I don't ever remember reading the answers to this one. Funny, given that this particular article about men's desires began by stating that we all know what women want from men.

I have no idea what that might be, though I know that I want my physician (who happens to be a man) to apply medicine correctly, and I want the plumber to fix the sink and so on. Adulation is always welcome, naturally, but then that is what goddesses are meant for.

In any case, stories about what men want from women must sell women's magazines, as the one I read wasn't the only one I came across. But why would such stories sell? Is it just curiosity about other people? Or are the readers looking for some miracle formula, something that would make any relationship with the other sex perfect?

If so, they will be disappointed. Reality is complex and there are no guarantees.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Well maybe the Democrats should stop screwing-over women and pro-choice activists

The Democrats have been a damn shame to us as of late--not that you haven't noticed. And so have so called "A-list" predominately [frat-boyish] male-run liberal blogs such as the DailyKos (remember the sexist pie-wrestling episode with them?). Though these liberal blogs criticize the Dems for being the cop-outs that they have been recently, these liberal blogs have been acting like the Democrats in their own way without even knowing it. Case in point; the Democrats screwing over reproductive rights advocate groups and pro-choice voters. These liberal blogs, like the Democrats, have been treating women's reproductive rights like an easily discarded non-issue--and just flat out treating the women who vote for them or run as their candidates like easily ignored and brushed-off "pests". Sure, we hear all kinds of talk of Senator Hillary Rodham-Clinton being nominated in 2008, but do you think with the way the Democrats have been acting recently, trying desperately to woo ultra-conservative voters while screwing their original voting-base in the process, that they would really back her in 2008? For the Democrats it's all about mimicking the neocon-Republicans--to hell with their voting base, right? Now back to the liberal blogs who keep telling pro-choicers (female and male), feminists, or specifically women in general that abortion "gets in the way" and "women just need to compromise abortion-rights for the greater-good of the Democrats winning again," along with telling pro-choicers to "stop declaring war on left-leaning blogs,"well Feministing has this in response to them...

DailyKos has taken issue with this post on BushvChoice, which called on pro-choicers to make their presence known in the comments threads of the major liberal blogs.

As Kos seemed to read it, the post was declaring war on lefty bloggers and, by proxy, the Democratic party. Not so. It was simply calling on pro-choicers to speak up.

Why is it so hard for the heavyweights of the liberal blogosphere to understand that, for many of us, choice is not something that "gets in the way" of more important Democratic party platform issues. It is the number one issue.

Sure, the Democrats are better than the Republicans on choice. But when Howard Dean is snuggled up with Democrats for Life and the party backs an anti-choice minority leader, forgive me if I'm not swooning in adoration.

I definitely don't think that NARAL should not be endorsing pro-choice Republicans who are running against pro-choice Democrats. Their strategy should also be focused on holding pro-choice Republicans (and Democrats) to their word. If Lincoln Chafee votes the wrong way, NARAL needs to pull their support. And be vocal about it.

But the underlying problem here is not NARAL endorsing pro-choice Republicans. The problem is the Democratic party's creep toward the center on reproductive rights. If Democrats want the support of the pro-choice movement, they have to earn it.
That forming a whole new party idea is really starting to look good right about now, with all of this disillusionment with the current Democrats. And we pro-choice and feminist bloggers have our own outlets in the blogosphere should the so called heavyweight liberal blogs keep failing us. Besides, I never expected frat-boyish "lefty" bloggers to take women's reproductive rights--or women's rights, period--seriously anyway. [/rant]

Simon Baron-Cohen

has written an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times. Baron-Cohen is one of those borderline weirdos in science, the ones who use various evolutionary psychology theories to explain why men are on top and why women are subjugated. I even bought his book The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain.

It is a very bad book, by the way. I have a wonderfully scathing review of it on the Amazon if they haven't taken it off yet, but sadly I can't access my notes from where I am now. But in any case the book is pure crap. It has two long chapters about Mr. Baron-Cohen's fairy tales on the prehistoric era when women were housewives and men read maps to find out where the dinosaurs were hiding. Or something not much different from that one.

Baron-Cohen's main idea is that there is an extreme male brain, all about logic and systematizing, and an extreme female brain, all about emotions. He believes that autistic children have the extreme male brain, and he is sure that we will one day find the extreme female brain, and when we do, we will also find that it is favored over the extreme male brain. So you see what Mr. Baron-Cohen aims at and how unbiased his research is.

He gets into a bit of a muddle because men refuse to have the male brain enough and women refuse to have the female brain enough, so he has to rig things a little to improve the outcomes. This is evident from the appendix to the book which contains a test you, the reader, can take, to determine how innately systematizing and male your brain is or how innately emphatizing and female it might be. Now, I scored very male on this test, because I knew what the researcher was aiming at.

To give you an idea of how the results can be rigged, consider these questions included in the test bank:
Do you know how to fix electrical problems in your house?
When you see a piece of furniture, are you interested in how it is made?
Do you like collecting rare coins or stamps?

All of these questions are intended to measure innate maleness! Too bad that the first question has an answer which changed for me a few years ago when I learned how to fix electricity. I guess I grew more male. Too bad that the second question might have quite a different answer if it was about a dress and the details of its construction, and too bad that collecting Barbie dolls or teapots was not used for the third question. In sum, all these questions are rigged to go with the societal gender expectations, and many other questions had similar problems.

Mr. Baron-Cohen is not interesting, and his science is poorly done. That he gets so much exposure for something so weak is somewhat interesting, or would be if I didn't already know the exact reason for the publicity.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Still in Europe

I'm still on vacation. Until the eighteenth, that is. And I'm still on the other side of the pond. Hence the scarcity of posts. I'm not even following politics very much right now, although politics are everywhere, of course, and can't really be avoided. But I'm pretending that I'm an apolitical Canadian goddess only interested in museums and cappuccino bars and good bargains in touristy crap.

The time is not wasted. I have found new types of chocolate (the bliss!) and new germs of ideas for this blog. Or maybe seeds would be a better word than germs; germs sound too unhygienic. Whatever they are, I'm bringing them home with me, together with the chocolate and the china and the metal shelf for my microwave and the clothing and the jewelry and...

It's All the Fault of Boston

At least according to Ricky Dick Santorum. He has decided that the pederasty scandal in the Catholic church has something to do with baked beans and cod and the Hub of the World. Well, I don't think Ricky Dick is ever right about anything, but it's certainly true that there is a pederasty scandal in the Catholic church. If you are interested in following it in more detail, check out Bobo's World.