Saturday, March 11, 2006

Molly's Had It

With the spineless Democrats:

Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don't know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I will not be supporting Senator Clinton because: a) she has no clear stand on the war and b) Terri Schiavo and flag-burning are not issues where you reach out to the other side and try to split the difference. You want to talk about lowering abortion rates through cooperation on sex education and contraception, fine, but don't jack with stuff that is pure rightwing firewater.

I love me some Molly, I do. Read the rest as they say.

Saturday Goddess Gossip

I'm having guests this weekend. Aphrodite is dropping by, to tell me all about her newest boytoy who apparently is like the Everready Bunny. At least he is still alive and it has been, what?, four days. He is happy as a clam, of course, even if he is shortening his life span consideraby by playing with a goddess. But we goddesses believe in free will, even for toyboys.

So I have been cleaning. Shoveling out doghair and snake scales and oiling all the banisters because 'Dite likes to slide down banisters and it's awkward if she suddenly gets stuck and plummets down head first. She still wears those flimsy draperies, you know.

Artful Asp is planning new death traps for 'Dite, as part of her school project in the snake school. I did tell her that goddesses can't be killed but Artful thinks that the death traps need to be run in first with someone who isn't hurt if they fail to kill the person completely. I'm so proud of her. A scale off the old skin. Where do you think she got her ethics from?

In other Olympus news, Nemesis is getting better. You may not know that she went completely bonkers when that Old Testament God got so popular, seeing it as a threat to her, and so she started walking the earth, moaning desolately all the time. You may have heard her and attributed her moaning to the wind. Nemesis is a little whinier if you want to check next time.

Anyway, we are trying to resuscitate her so that she'd start doing that revenge bidness again. On our behalf, "our" being the good people on the left and center of the American political spectrum. She used to be really good at it, creating earthquakes and locust rains and stuff. The wingnuts would do well with those, and Nemesis is the goddess for the job. Right now we are playing her taped prayers from humans. These will solidify her a little more and then we can pour some nectar in her for further recovery. I'll let you know how it is going.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Hank Report

For those who are wondering how Hank, my chocolate Labrador, is doing. She was diagnosed with histiocytic sarcoma. This is not good news. However, she is reacting extremely well to the palliative chemo that she gets every three weeks. Her quality of life is very good and most of the tumors seem so far to be on the surface layers near her skin, so her running and wrestling and food begging activities have not been affected at all. In any case, none of us knows how many days the big book of life has for us, and Hank sure is squeezing the juice out of every day that she has.

Henrietta, my other dog, treats her every day with an inspection and then licking any cancer sores clean. This is heartbreaking to watch. But then she hasn't been doing these things in the last few days because Hank is feeling especially good.

A Public Service Announcement

This came to me as a sudden miracle when I was reading about Bush's faith-based initiatives. We are now going to have them even in Homeland Security. One article discussing the faith-based programs tries to reassure us that a separation between church and state still remains:

Baltimore's Davenport says all of the people involved with The Door are "people who want to put their faith to work by serving those in need."

However, he adds, there is no religious component to any of the programs, other than perhaps saying grace when snacks are served to the students. And he says children of all faiths, or no faith, are allowed to attend.

At the center, there is no evidence of religion, other than that the building is a former church. There are no religious icons or pictures in view. Students receive individualized instruction in reading and math, much like any other school, although classes are smaller. Davenport says there are no required church services, no breaks for Bible reading. However, he says, religious values of respect for one another, humility, kindness and service to others are what make the programs run. "Faith is a key part of our programs, but any religion is done on our dollar, not on federal dollars," Davenport says.

The bolds are mine, to draw attention to a common argument in this context, that the federal money is somehow earmarked for secular stuff and has no impact on the faith-spreading stuff. This is very false.

Consider a case where a church has, say, fifty thousand dollars a year to spend on both good deeds and preaching the faith, and they decide to divide it into two equal halves. Then the faith-based grants come along and this church wins a twenty-five thousand dollar grant for its good deeds program. What is the effect of this on the preaching part? It has now twice as much money to use as before, if the church decides not to expand its social program.

So we have just enabled a church to double its resources on religious activities, and we have done it through tax-payer money.

The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act

This is in the same series of acts as "The Healthy Skies Initiative". Doublespeak plusgood, using Orwell's language. It does have some good points for small firms which would be allowed to band together to offer health insurance. But the major way the act would make health insurance "affordable" is by demolishing all those pesky state requirements which state that certain things must be covered. The attack on states' powers here is another excellent example of doublespeak, given the wingnuts' usual penchance for giving everything to the states. Except of course all those things they want to determine centrally. Oh well.

Planned Parenthood points out that women will suffer under this Act:

"We need to move forward, not backward in expanding access to quality health care, including birth control," said Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards. "Congress should work to protect patients, not undermine them."

This federal legislation would raze hundreds of state laws that ensure patients can get the medical care they need and would

not allow women to designate their ob/gyns as primary care providers

not allow women to seek care directly from their ob/gyns, but would force them to be screened by their primary care doctors first

dismantle coverage for contraception

dismantle coverage for annual cervical cancer exams

not allow women to stay with the same doctor throughout a pregnancy, if that doctor was dropped from the insurance provider

As an aside, if women must be screened by their primary care doctors first, before getting gyneocological treatment, and if these women didn't have to be screened this way in the past the effect of this change will be to raise costs by an extra doctor visit each time one of these women wants to see her ob/gyn.

Dismantling coverage for cervical cancer exams is really idiotic, too. But I nowadays expect idiotic things from these new Acts, especially if they have bracing names such as "Modernization" and "Affordability".

Friday Dog Blogging

This is a puppy from the 1930s dragging a slipper around.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The International Women's Day Is Over

And it is easy to spot that this is true. For example, the New Republic has a Tierney-bashing article which never states that he hates women. Which he does. Any article bashing John Tierney that doesn't mention how every third article he writes for the New York Times is about the inevitable demise of the uppity woman is blind to the existence of women in this world.

Here is what I mean:

It's easy to see how The New York Times settled on John Tierney to replace longtime columnist William Safire last winter. Tierney is a veteran Timesman known for his wit and intellect. Many colleagues believed his libertarian streak would produce a quirky, iconoclastic take on the news. "He thinks outside the box, has a very distinct worldview, and I think he'll be a lot of fun," Times Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins told The Washington Post. Collins seemed to suggest that, in a time of intense partisanship, Tierney would be interesting because he doesn't fit comfortably into either party.

But, if Tierney's partisan sympathies have been fluid, his libertarian ideology has made him utterly predictable. Already, he has tallied seven columns lamenting the war on drugs, five bashing big government energy plans, and four more promoting vouchers. Other columns have savaged Amtrak and federalized airport security. No government initiative, however marginal, is safe from Tierney's withering gaze. (Here I submit to you all four Tierney columns about privatizing space exploration.) And so, while it can take years for the punishing, twice-weekly schedule to render most Times columnists unreadable, Tierney has managed the feat in a matter of months.


Of course, a lot of columnists have prominent worldviews. What distinguishes Tierney from his colleagues--including engaging libertarians like Dave Barry and Slate's Jack Shafer--is that his worldview orders almost every thought, even the apolitical ones. Why did Lawrence Summers encounter trouble at Harvard? Because Harvard's faculty is an entrenched bureaucracy insulated from market forces. How should men think of marriage? As a job: "Devote as much energy to knowing your wife as you would to an important business client."

The writer of this piece, one Noam Scheiber, has a worldview which allows him to criticize Tierney without ever seeing his misogyny. But then Scheiber also thinks that David Brooks, also of the wingnut stable at New York Times, is a shrewd observer of human nature. Yes, don't giggle. That's what he wrote. So.

The Koufax Awards

My last reminder for those of you who would like to vote for this blog in any of the categories it has been nominated for:

Most Deserving of Wider Recognition, Best Writing, Best Blog (nonprofessional) and Best Post (two posts, one at American Street and one here at home).

I experienced an odd reaction while perusing through the voting comments on the Best Writing category. It was very close to despair but with a mixture of joy in it. To be among such good writers made me feel an urgent need to slash my wrists or at least to pack in any attempt to write ever again, but then there was also this unholy joy at being among such great writers. I also felt that I have not really shown what I can do in that field. I'm going to write such stunning posts that my readers will have to run out of the room bawling. Or so my muse tells me when he is sober enough to talk at all.

You Are Better Off Not Knowing, Trust Me...

Who really wants to know that the tasty sushi you've been nibbling is full of mercury? That's yucky and damps your appetite. The U.S. House agrees with me and voted to keep us in the dark about anything disgusting that might hide in our foods. That way our beautiful minds (in the words of Barbara Bush the elder) won't have to be bothered by anything until they suddenly stop functioning:

The House voted Wednesday to strip many warnings from food labels, potentially affecting alerts about arsenic in bottled water, lead in candy and allergy-causing sulfites, among others.

Pushed by food companies seeking uniform labels across state lines, the bill would prevent states from adding food warnings that go beyond federal law. States could petition the Food and Drug Administration to add extra warnings, under the bill.

Lawmakers approved the bill on a 283-139 vote. Supporters expect a Senate version of the bill to be introduced soon.

Thank you, thank you. I'd rather not know that the lettuce I had in my sandwich had been sprayed with sulfites. Then when I get the asthma attack in the middle of the night I can just focus on the struggle to draw another breath. - It's an interesting experience, by the way, and one I'd recommend to all the wingnuts who voted for this law. The whining and the raspiness are especially atonal.

It's good not to know this stuff. It cuts down on a lot of worry, and it's also much cheaper for the food industry because they don't have to print so many different labels and the federally required labels don't ask as tough information. We are all going to be so much better off under this "Food Uniformity Act":

A model of special-interest legislation, the bill is called the National Uniformity for Food Act. A more honest moniker would be the Bring Back Arsenic in Water Act or the Bring Back Lead in Supplements and Candy Act. The Senate should show better sense and dump this bill in the trash.

The bill would gut virtually all state food-safety standards that are more protective than federal regulations. More than 150 laws in 50 states would be eliminated. Its biggest target may well be California's Proposition 65, which voters passed in 1986 to require warning labels on products containing ingredients that may cause cancer or birth defects.

Proposition 65 has been at the forefront of protecting the health and safety of Californians. Under this law the state successfully pushed for a major decrease in allowable levels of arsenic in bottled water, as well as in permissible amounts of lead in calcium supplements, ceramic dishes and leaded crystal. The measure helped take lead-soldered cans off the shelves and alerted women about the risks of eating fish with high levels of mercury. In all these cases, federal protections are far weaker.

The National Uniformity for Food Act would also undermine state laws ensuring the safety of milk, shellfish and eggs; state labeling laws that tell consumers whether the supermarket salmon is wild or farmed; and California laws regulating the use of certain supplements by high school athletes and banning the sale of lead-containing candy from Mexico.

Large food-processing companies, supermarket chains and others in the food industry have lobbied for this bill for years. They claim that different state regulations and labeling laws are costly. This year, without any meaningful debate, they've managed to convince a bipartisan majority in the House that the health, safety and consumer protections afforded by state laws should play second fiddle to industry concerns.

The pharmaceutical industry is going to benefit, too, from all the extra sickness this will cause. Everyone wins! That's capitalism for you.
Links via this Kos diary.

The War That The Media Lost

Now remember that this is the new fact about the Iraq war. If the war is lost it will be the fault of the media. This new wingnut theory is gaining rapid ground and Donald Rumsfeld is one of its pushers:

Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon that he thought the news coverage since the February 22 bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Iraq had been filled with inaccurate information that would inflame the situation there.

He based his comments on remarks made Friday by U.S. Army Gen. George Casey, the top-ranking U.S. military official in Iraq.

"From what I've seen thus far, much of the reporting in the U.S. and abroad has exaggerated the situation, according to General Casey," Rumsfeld said. "The number of attacks on mosques, as he pointed out, had been exaggerated. The number of Iraqi deaths had been exaggerated."

Much of the sectarian violence that has followed the bombing of the Al-Askariya Mosque in Samarra has pitted Shiites vs. Sunnis.

On Friday, Casey said the military had confirmed about 30 mosque attacks and about 350 civilian deaths. CNN and other media outlets, citing local officials, have reported more than 100 mosque attacks and at least 500 deaths during the same time.

"Interestingly, all of the exaggerations seem to be on one side," he said. "It isn't as though there simply have been a series of random errors on both sides of issues. On the contrary, the steady stream of errors all seem to be of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists and to discourage those who hope for success in Iraq."

The number of deaths has been exaggerated. Ok. The Washington Post has an excellent article on this very topic, but given that it's part of the media it is naturally going to be biased, right? Decide for yourselves:

Days after the bombing of a Shiite shrine unleashed a wave of retaliatory killings of Sunnis, the leading Shiite party in Iraq's governing coalition directed the Health Ministry to stop tabulating execution-style shootings, according to a ministry official familiar with the recording of deaths.

The official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because he feared for his safety, said a representative of the Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, ordered that government hospitals and morgues catalogue deaths caused by bombings or clashes with insurgents, but not by execution-style shootings.

A statement this week by the U.N. human rights department in Baghdad appeared to support the account of the Health Ministry official. The agency said it had received information about Baghdad's main morgue -- where victims of fatal shootings are taken -- that indicated "the current acting director is under pressure by the Interior Ministry in order not to reveal such information and to minimize the number of casualties."


On Sunday, as a Washington Post reporter briefly visited the morgue office, five bodies were brought in from a town just outside Baghdad. All were neatly dressed men, all had their hands bound, and all had been shot in the back of the head. Morgue officials took the bodies to one of the refrigerated trailers. No mention of the five appeared in news reports.

This is a proper article, an actual piece of investigative reporting, and my short quote from it doesn't give it justice. It's a beauty. Do read it, and then save it as there might never be another one, once the media is made to heel the desires of the U.S. and Iraq governments. Er, I meant once the media is made to stop exaggerating the numbers of the Iraq dead, natch.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why A Special Day For Women?

Today is the International Women's Day, March 8th. The idea is to pay attention to the plight of women in so many countries of this world and to celebrate the achievements of women in general. I have heard more than one anti-feminist argue that having a special day for women is really unfair, because there is no such special day for all men. The proper answer to this is that the other 364 days are special days for men in fields such as politics, music, science, sports, arts, journalism, cartoons, the academia, wars and religious organizations, to mention just a few male dominated fields.

But still, to have a "special" day for the majority of this world's citizens is insulting. It tells us that sexism is well and alive, that "women" are a subcategory of the human race and one which is not expected to demand very many "special" days. At the same time, it is equally insulting when this "special day" of ours comes and goes and hardly anybody bothers to even make a note of it. In recent years I have noticed that racism is still a BAD thing but sexism, well, not so much, and this is one of the reasons why we are in such deep shit in regard to reproductive rights and why our president can talk about sexism in Iran and remain mum on the topic of sexism in the United States. The politically correct use of sexism here is all about how unfair the world is to men and boys. If anything at all seems to be unfair to women and girls it's caused by a) the immovable will of God, b) the unchangeable rules of nature or c) women's own desires to be trampled upon. Maybe that's why The International Women's Day causes such a torrent of... media silence.

There are so many good topics to write about on this International Women's Day. I could have written about the almost four hundred dead women found in Juarez, near the U.S. border, all murdered and all pretty much ignored until the feminists got on the case of the Mexican police. I could have written about the problem of obstetric fistulas in Africa, a medical condition which affects thousands of women in Africa, which leaves them incontinent and often shamed by their communities, and which is a direct consequence of the societal tradition of using very young girls for childbreeding combined with lack of medical resources. I could have written about honor killings as a form of patriarchal control on women and the similarities it has with poorly punished rapes in the West as a form of invisible and perhaps unintended control over women's freedoms. And I could have written about the rapidly disappearing reproductive rights in this country, among many other topics.

Had I been in a more positive mood I could have written about the hundreds of interesting women in our history and what they have achieved. I might even have done one of those "you've come a long way, baby" articles of patting our own backs, or given an interesting explanation why it was a woman who invented the brassiere and what should be invented next (a support for the testicles, perhaps). I could have done any one of these things if I had been a member of the proper media on this International Women's Day and if I had thought that women mattered.

Listen To Molly

She is always worth reading, and this particular article suits the International Women's Day very well. It is on the Talibamerica of South Dakota.

Happy International Women's Day!

A proper post will follow later today, but for the time being I give you something funny instead:

President Bush marked International Women's Day, which is celebrated on Wednesday, March 8 with a White House reception where he vowed to continue working for women's rights and democracy in North Korea, Iran and Burma.

American Politics 101

On the question whether George Bush illegally spied on American citizens: It looks like we are not going to find out the answer, because there will be no real inquiry into the matter:

Senate Republicans on Tuesday agreed to expand oversight of President George W. Bush's domestic spying program but rejected Democratic pressure for a broad inquiry into eavesdropping on U.S. citizens.

Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the committee voted to create a new seven-member subcommittee that would scrutinize the eavesdropping under a plan approved by the White House.

"Under a plan approved by the White House"? I'm laughing so hard that my tummy hurts. That is like having the defendant in a criminal case supervise and oversee the whole thing. Well, it isn't really funny. Just what a one-party government looks like. Such a government can do whatever it damn pleases.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Watch My Lips

That was Bush The Elder, of course, but it's a useful phrase for the son, too, though for a different reason. Bush refuses to move his lips on the abortion question. He's squirming around in order to say that he both supports South Dakota's draconian abortion law and that he doesn't support it. Or poor McClellan is doing the squirming. That is what underlings are for:

MCCLELLAN: The state law, as you know, bans abortions in all instances with the exception of the life of the mother.

QUESTION: And not rape and incest. And so, therefore, he must disagree with it, doesn't he? Doesn't he, Scott?

MCCLELLAN: The president has a strong record of working to build a culture of life, and that's what he will continue to do.

QUESTION: I know, but you're not answering my question. You're dodging it.

MCCLELLAN: No, I'm telling you that it's a state law.

QUESTION: Is he opposed to abortion laws that forbid it for rape and incest; isn't that true, Scott? That's what you said.

MCCLELLAN: Let me respond. Look at the president's record when it comes to defending the sanctity of life. It is a very strong record.

His views when it comes to pro-life issues are very clearly spelled out. We also have stated repeatedly that state legislatures, when they pass laws, those are state matters.

Think Progress points out that Bush does give his opinions on other state matters, a lot. This is about not angering the extreme radical clerics who are looking forward to the public stoning of whores and sluts and yuppity women in their future Talibarica, while simultaneously trying not to scare off the moderates who are more interested in other stuff but might wake up if they hear that their daughters could be forced to give birth after rape and that perhaps the rapist might even have regular visiting rights and so on.

Not that Bush has to fear getting pregnant by rape. That's why it is easy for him to squirm in an attempt to please all his bases.

Rabbits, Bully Boys and the State of Tennessee

These are pictures of vibrators. The first on the left is supposed to be a realistic one, the next one is the popular Rabbit and the third one is intended for men's use. All these are sex toys and all these might be banned in the state of Tennessee if a new bill proposal passes:

Thank God the state legislature is back in session. When they're gone, political columnists are forced to take up serious topics like the deputy governor lobbying subordinates on local political issues, U.S. national vulnerability to cyber-attack and the police chief threatening to storm out of a neighborhood meeting. But now that America's dumbest criminals have reconvened their lawmaking body, it's easy street for journalistic bottom-feeders to meet deadlines.

To wit: Senate Bill 3794 (House Bill 3798), legislation that would make it illegal to sell, advertise, publish or exhibit to another person "any three-dimensional device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs…." For that matter, if you offer to show someone your dildo collection—or possess a vibrator with the intent to show it to someone—you'd be violating this proposed state law. And don't even think about wholesaling those three-dimensional sex toys.

Funny stuff. Did all these state legislations spend as much time banning the inflatable sex dolls? I doubt it. This is about banning female frivolous sexuality. That way it links to the South Dakota brethren's bill on banning abortions, too. Good women should not enjoy sex.

Brainfood For Our Troops In Iraq

What do they get to hear on their radios and laptops? They can get extreme wingnuts but not liberals. They can get Rush Limbaugh but not Air America, they can learn what G. Gordon Liddy says but not what Al Franken says. Really. I am not making this up.

On Wingnut Framing and Other Stray Thoughts

Someone today (Alterman?) pointed out that the Iraq war or occupation has no official name in the media. We don't call it Iraq WarII or Iraq Occupation or anything, really. The absence of a name is part of naming, too, because it is difficult to perceive the process as a war if it is not called one. It is difficult to perceive it as anything much if it has no name. That the Iraq WarII or the Iraq Invasion doesn't have a real name is not an accident, I believe. It is part of careful wingnut framing, because the namelessness of this thing helps their arguments.

It is not a long lateral move from this one to ask whether the whole South Dakota abortion outrage isn't actually helping the wingnuts, too. Do you notice how we now talk about what kind of a raped woman would deserve an abortion? We should be saying that these radical religious critics are nutcases and not worth talking about, but their framing is catching on, like a bird flu virus, and suddenly we are all quite voluntarily inventing ways of defining the women who are worthy of reproductive choice, and all these definitions are narrower than the current federal law. I have been especially guilty of doing that. I tend to fall into framing traps all the time.

The "other stray thoughts" in the headline were added to let me go on for a while longer without anything much to say, but I do have something else to say, though of little interest to anyone outside Echidne, and it has to do with my own framing choices. I don't frame things very strongly, and that hurts the messages I want to get out. I could write more fiercely, easily, but then I'd make more untrue assertions, so I have decided to stay on the gentle side of things. But it has its costs, and one is that I don't get as much debate going as I'd like to. Maybe an experiment in stridency is called for.

In other news, it is a beautiful spring day and you should go out and sniff the air.

Monday, March 06, 2006

How To Run An Interview

In an American political talkshow. Tweety (Chris Matthews) shows us the skill and objectivity that is required when he interviews Majority Leader John Boehner. They are talking about Hillary Clinton:

MATTHEWS: Is she a socialist?

BOEHNER: Uh, no. I've worked with her on a number of issues —

MATTHEWS: Well, on the issue of health care, is she a socialist?

BOEHNER: She would be to the left of most people I know.

MATTHEWS: But not a socialist?

BOEHNER: I wouldn't go that far.

MATTHEWS: You wouldn't go that far? What stops you?

BOEHNER: I don't like labeling of people.

MATTHEWS: You call her a liberal. You called it Hillarycare.

BOEHNER: I don't want to call her a socialist.

MATTHEWS: Could she carry Ohio in the general?

BOEHNER: I don't think so.

MATTHEWS: Who could beat her?

BOEHNER: Anybody.

MATTHEWS: Anybody. strong words. We'll be right back with House Majority Leader John Boehner. You can see this man's greatness.

Yet more proof of the difficulty for us irony-writers. How do you ridicule someone like Tweety? I need to stock up on nectar.

A Rant At Avast Conspiracy

If you are interested in my gentle rants, I have one posted on Avast Feminist Conspiracy. It's about misogyny.

The Hirsute Threat

That is my new pet name for John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who, by the way, hates the United Nations. Such are the qualifications needed for the job.

Now Bolton has been practising his favorite activity which seems to be bullying:

The US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, has told British MPs that military action could bring Iran's nuclear programme to a halt if all diplomatic efforts fail. The warning came ahead of a meeting today of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which will forward a report on Iran's nuclear activities to the UN security council.

So. We need to shed even more blood to bring peace and freedom to the world.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Greetings, from New Orleans

The blogger Scout Prime has gone back to visit New Orleans. She has a blog in which she writes about what she sees, hears and experiences in the post-Katrina city. Check it out.

Control and Sex

I earlier linked to Digby's post about the South Dakota ban on all abortions except when the woman's life is threatened by the pregnancy. In that post Digby quotes an example of the type of abortion which would not be allowed under this ban:

Meanwhile, outside the twisted imagination of Senator Psycho there, we have reality:

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: One patient she saw was this woman, probably in her early 20s. She would not reveal even her age. With a low-paying job and two children, she said she simply could not afford a third.

"MICHELLE," PATIENT WHO TERMINATED HER PREGNANCY: It was difficult when I found out I was pregnant. I was saddened, because I knew that I'd probably have to make this decision. Like I said, I have two children, so I look into their eyes and I love them. It's been difficult, you know; it's not easy. And I don't think it's, you know, ever easy on a woman, but we need that choice.

Too bad. She shouldn't have had sex. Three kids and no money are just what the bitch deserves. Her two little kids deserve it too for choosing a mother like her.

Digby then received a response from someone who is anti-abortion, and posts some of that answer:

I don't really get it. I am supposed to feel sorry for this woman? Does Digby expect me to sympathize with her? I hope not, because she's a selfish woman who was thinking only of herself.

That's right. You read that correctly. She couldn't afford to have another child so she terminated the pregancy. That is selfish. She wanted to have her fun and get laid, but she didn't want to have to deal with the possible consequences of her actions and guess what people? When a man and a woman have sex and the make [sic] is capable of producing sperm and the woman is capable of producing eggs, there is the possibility of the woman getting pregnant.

Digby makes the wisecrack about her not having sex. I can only take from his comment, that he is like so many other's of the same ilk who believe we're all like jungle animals and have to hump when the mood strikes. Of course, that isn't the case. People don't walk down the street and just bump into each other and start screwing (unless it's a Cinemax movie). We have the mental capacity to be able to take care of such business in private. We also have the ability to abstain. Nothing is going to happen to us if we don't have sex.

And if you're in a position like this woman, a low paying job and two kids already. Guess what? Don't fuck.

As human beings, we have the cognitive ability to think before we act. The choices we make carry consequences. And we have to accept responsibility for those choices. If we choose to smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day, we have to accept it when we get lung cancer. If we drink and then drive, we have to accept it if we kill somebody in a car wreck. If we eat at McDonalds every day, then we have to accept it when we gain weight. It's about choices. Having sex is a choice. It's as simple as that. Saying, "I can't afford it" when a woman learns she is pregnant because of that choice is not accepting the results of that choice.
Personally, I believe abortion is a moral issue, not a legal one. Therefore, contrary to my personal feelings regarding abortion, I don't support South Dakota's law. As pro-life as I am, I find this law to be too draconian. That's not going to stop me from calling out this woman as a selfish person who is concerned more with making herself feel good then dealing with the consequences of the choice she made.

Read Digby's answer to this wingnut blogger. It is a good one.

My take on this wingnut post is that it is an excellent example of one particular right-wing mindset, the type that believes there is a cause-and-effect pattern for all events in this world and that this cause-and-effect can be totally controlled by any individual.

The thinking goes like this: Work hard and you will be rich! Therefore, if you are poor you did not work hard. You deserve to suffer. Have sex and you deserve to get pregnant! If you are now pregnant and don't want to be, don't come and complain to me! Smoke like a chimney and accept that you will die. Don't expect me to pay for your medical bills. Work for an asbestos company and of course your lungs will ossify! What are you moaning about?

There is a certain appeal to this way of thinking, because it makes the universe clear and simple and it assigns the individual enormous powers of determination. If you only do the right thing everything will be sunny and happy and good and you will deserve that BMW you are driving around, polluting the environment. Did you notice the little crack I introduced into the smugness of the sentiment in that last sentence?

Because life isn't quite that simple, and the law of consequence doesn't run as simply as this wingnut wants it to. When we introduce complications, though, we tend to lose the ears of the wingnuts. That is one law of consequence that is always valid, sigh. But still. It's worth discussing the real universe in more realistic terms, for the rest of us.

Take this blogger's example of the nice cause-and-effect chain about drinking and driving and then going out and killing someone with the car. Yes, this could happen, and it is the reason why we make driving under the influence of alcohol a crime. But then I might go out for a walk totally sober and get knocked down by this drunken maniacal driver. What did I do wrong? Where was my control over the situation?

Perhaps the wingnut blogger could amend the philosophy by allowing for some of us to be wholly innocent. We just happened to get killed by a drunken driver, ok. But what control did that leave me over my life? After all, the idea behind this philosophy is that people can control the bad things that happen to them. And what about the child born into poverty? How did that child deserve poverty?

Ok. Now we have two sets of people: Those who should be in control over their own urges and who can decide if they are going to get pregnant or rich or dead, and those who are hapless victims. This is the worldview of quite a few wingnuts, too. But let's add even more layers of complications.

Let's introduce the woman who already had children she couldn't quite support and who chose to have an abortion. The wingnut blogger wanted her to abstain from sex and called her selfish for not doing so. But suppose that she has a husband or a boyfriend who has just been fired from work, whose mother is dying from incurable cancer, who is severely depressed. This partner wants sex, just not to feel like dying, to feel warm and alive for one single moment. And she refuses the sex because it would be selfish to give him that comfort. Er, wouldn't it?

Did you notice how the selfishness of this woman happens in isolation in the wingnut story? She just goes to some store where they sell sex, buys some and swallows it. There is no partner, no social relationship, no questions of the kind I created in my imaginary story above. Selfishness is a difficult thing to measure, you know, and almost every choice we make can be viewed as selfish from some point of view.

Or perhaps she simply really needed sex, really needed the little heaven we people can experience on this earth otherwise so deficient in heavenly things. Working two jobs (as I imagine), dragging the children from home to daycare and back again, worrying about getting the groceries late at night, worrying about the bills and the rent, worrying about the cockroaches and the asthma the children might get, worrying about the future and being tired all the time. Perhaps she really really needed to go to heaven for a minute or two, even if there were no condoms in the house.

I have no idea if any of this is true, but I can imagine. The wingnut blogger doesn't seem to be able to imagine anything. Sometimes I think that this might be the main difference between the wingnuts and the rest of us.

Is that enough complexity for you? I might add another layer by asking why death sentence isn't ok if a woman knew that she might die giving birth. Nothing in the cause-and-effect story would make it wrong to just let her die. If people who choose to smoke should accept their deaths, why not women who choose to procreate? Why not have all the people with AIDS just die? They knew how dangerous AIDS was before they engaged in some risky activity.

The truth of course is that our choices do matter, but they matter in a probabilistic sense, not in the sense of being meted awards and punishments by some cruel wingnut god. And humans are human, which means that none of us can control everything in our lives. Not even wingnuts can do that, though they would love to control other people's lives.

Writing War History

Kevin Drum links to a historical comment by Instapundit, one of the big wingnuttia blog boys:

STAB IN THE BACK....Instapundit today:

The press had better hope we win this war, because if we don't, a lot of people will blame the media.

The war he talks about is the Iraq war, the one that Bush declared won when he was wearing the flightsuit with the codpiece. It's a little confusing that the war wasn't won then, and hasn't been won yet, but pay not attention to that. Instead, pay attention to the media who are not adequately equipped or armored or provided with good weapons, so that is why we are losing the war. Or rather, we are losing this war because the media is not giving enough positive news about schools getting painted in Iraq. If we had more of those and fewer news of hundreds of people being blown to smithereens or being shot in the back of the head or having their heads cut off altogether, well, then we would win. Because our battle spirits would be higher here in Murka.

That Instapundit has decided to blame the messenger for the message shows how desperate the wingnuts are. When I was a very naive goddess about political issues I took discussions like this one seriously and assumed that I should actually write a response, like the one in the previous paragraph. I assumed that the assertion was serious, you know. Now I know better, but I still can't control that automatic reflex of addressing the issue. Still, the idea is never to admit that you have made a mistake, never to accept that you have lost, never. And no, this is not infantile behavior and the refusal to grow up: this is how politics is done, it seems.

That's why the media lost the war.
Link via Eschaton.

Just A Reminder

That the voting for the Koufax awards has started. In case you want to vote for this blog. Details are here. And yes, I promise not to go on and on about this. Maybe one more tiny post later...