Saturday, June 23, 2007

Lies In - Disaster Out, Posted by olvlzl.

Going over some old posts recently this one dealing with the role the media plays in insuring bad government got my attention. I think the argument it makes is valid, the disasters in Iraq and New Orleans don’t seem to have produced its contradiction. In an inversion of how it is supposed to work, media now regularly prevents responsible politicians and public servants from telling the public the simple truth that public services have to be paid for. It prevents public servants from doing their jobs honestly and efficiently. Anyone who is honest about that risks being ridiculed as an idiot, a tax and spender... we all know the words the media whores use. Safe in their air conditioned studios either having or aspiring to the good life of a media shill it’s no skin off their back that the cities, states and entire country are falling apart.

Starting from there the results spread. Anyone who is unwilling to lie about the necessity of paying for things will be removed from office and be replaced by someone who is willing, if not eager, to lie about the possibilities of cutting taxes while cutting essential services to the point of non-existence. Then the media will point to that situation as proof that the public sector can’t deliver and those should be contracted to private companies. But when those contracts don’t work out the way they are supposed to do the media liars mend their ways? Do the politicians who handed them the public sector reconsider?

The media is the problem, they are the source of the lies. A country that lives on a diet of lies can’t govern itself. It is as simple as that, as certain as water flowing and unsupported construction falling. Our media believes that lies are good for ratings and good for business. They think that telling the public lies they will want to hear will give them a ratings advantage. Their ratings and the profit those bring are the only thing they really care about. They won’t stop lying until the news is made not-for-profit, a requirement for holding a broadcasting license or other privilege granted to those companies. And it will take law to force them to stop lying.

My Family Friendly Blog

Via the awesome watertiger, I found a site which rates blogs as if they were movies. Her blog got an R-rating. Mine, of course, got this:

Online Dating

I must try harder.

Silent Spring

I had my morning coffee in the garden, watching the opening sage flowers and the roses at their loveliest. The sun was gently stroking their heads and the birds were taking a rest from their busy flying and feeding activities. Coffee tastes so much better outside, I thought. And the quiet is nice.

Quiet? Where are the bees? They love the sage and my nepeta has been flowering for days now. They love that, too. Last year those violet flowers often looked more like brown-and-yellow ones, because of the number of bees on them. Where are the bees this year?

I took a tour of the garden. All I found were butterflies and one wasp. There were some bumble bees earlier in the year. But no other kind of bees at all.

You may have read about the sudden death of so many bees and about the various theories explaining it. Or trying to explain it. I read those stories, too. But to go out into your own garden and to not hear that buzzing, well, it hits the message home.

Saturday Cat Blogging

The dog and cat above belong to Barry. The caption goes: "Honest, officer, I found her like that."

This one is FeralLiberal's Pippin again. I collected several Pippin pictures for leaner times. The picture looks very zen to me.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Some Echidne Musings

Time for my self-indulgent post of the week. I spent most of this week at the Take Back America conference, and there will be further posts on that later on. For example, I met the Billionaires for Bush at the cocktail reception on Tuesday night. They are very funny. One of them told me that I clean up quite well (I was in my best duds and had high heels n all) and if I only could get some funds I could be one of them! A new career path opened up for me. -- Anyway, I might write about them.

Also on the Code Pink people. I interviewed a pink police officer holding a large "Stop the War" traffic sign. They are an interesting bunch of people and the way they are downplayed is also fascinating. It has feminist links, too.

Then again, I might not write about any of these people. Blogging is hard to do to a formula and often really interesting topics fall down on the to-do list, as some of you know; those who offered me topics I said I would do and still have not. Guilt. It's always with me. I think guilt smells of estrogen.

You can probably guess where I am going with this post. Time, once again, to twist my hands and moan incoherently about the road ahead. Where should I go with this blog? Who is going to guest-post for me on weekends? And when I go to the snake rites on the big mountain? Should I just close up shop or turn this into a team blog of many fascinating feminists? But I'm very bad in social intelligence and all that admin stuff, and even worse at having someone else tell me what to do. Yet the future lies in team blogs, I think.

Even more importantly, is a blog of this type of any real use now that the feminist blogosphere is vibrant and full of all sorts of blogs? My good-cop schtick may no longer be of value if it ever was. And the low-tech setup stinks. No pictures or eerie snake music when you come to the site.

I don't take advice very well at all. Just ask my mom. But I would be interested in your ideas on all this, because a blog doesn't belong to just whoever is writing the posts. It belongs to those who read it and those who participate in the discussion.

Friday Weirdness Blogging

I saved these pictures a long time ago and the acknowledgements got separated from the pics. My apologies for therefore not saying who gave them to me.

These are food items on which we divines send you humans messages of great spiritual importance. The top is a piece of toast with the face of Ernest Borgnine. Now, what a message in that one might be is a very big mystery. But the bottom one is an easier one: a cinnamon bun with the face of Mother Theresa! To remind you not to eat more than your fair share of cinnamon buns.

John Howard and the Aborigines

Or "meanwhile, in Australia", I guess, to continue the format I've been using for short posts commenting on events in far-away places. The Australian government has decided to tackle the high rates of child molestation among the Aborigines by some swift and firm policies:

Australia's prime minister announced plans Thursday to ban pornography and alcohol for Aborigines in northern areas and tighten control over their welfare benefits to fight child sex abuse among them.

Some Aboriginal leaders rejected the plan as paternalistic and said the measures were discriminatory and would violate the civil rights of the country's original inhabitants. But others applauded the initiative and recommended extending the welfare restrictions to Aborigines in other parts of the country.

Prime Minister John Howard was responding to a report last week that found sexual abuse of children to be rampant in indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. The report said the abuse was fueled by endemic alcohol abuse, unemployment, poverty and other factors causing a breakdown in traditional society.

'This is a national emergency,' Howard told Parliament. 'We're dealing with a group of young Australians for whom the concept of childhood innocence has never been present.'

Howard announced the measures for the Northern Territory, an Outback region where the federal government retains powers it doesn't have over Australia's six states. He urged state leaders to apply similar tough rules in their jurisdictions.

The federal government can change laws in the territory with an act of Parliament, where Howard has a majority that ensures he can implement his policy.

What do you think of this approach? Should we ban alcohol and pornography in, say, Washington, D.C.? Only in Washington, D.C.? Should welfare payments be linked to alcohol tests showing no drinking, but only if you are a person of color?

Or perhaps a better comparison would be to do all this within an American Indian reservation. Only American Indians would be forced to stay sober and chaste. Everybody else could go on drinking and watching porn and all that would be paid from welfare checks if the person otherwise qualified. Yes, I like this comparison, because the Aborigines were also the initial occupants of a continent, pushed aside and put into reservations by the incoming Europeans.

I'm sure that the problems Howard talks about are real and horrible. But this solution seems unlikely to work, because it really is paternalistic, put in place from the outside, discriminatory and also wholly punitive. The underlying problems of poverty and unemployment are not addressed by it at all. This summarizes the main trouble with the action very well:

The plan angered some Aboriginal leaders, who said it was the kind of government behavior that has disenfranchised Aborigines and created the problems in the first place. They also complained they had not been consulted; the government had not previously indicated it was considering such action.

You can't feel ownership in a policy if you were never consulted.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On Pigs and Condoms

Amanda at Pandagon wrote about a condom advertisement that has been rejected by Fox and CBS. You can see the ad on Pandagon. It uses pigs. More about that later. But the point Amanda makes is an important one:

Okay, when I first read about this Trojan ad, I thought it would probably be at least mildly offensive. But I found it vaguely amusing.

It trades in the same gender stereotypes common to ads like this, but overall, I didn't think it hit on them too hard. The ad doesn't argue that men are de facto pigs, but it does suggest that men who push for condom-less sex are pigs, and that's a pretty fair assessment of that behavior. But the stereotype issues aside, the issue with this ad is that Fox and CBS rejected the ad and not because it peddles in the same stereotypes that their programming uses. No, they took issue with advertising condoms as being used for what they are used for.

Which is for contraception. It isn't clear why those networks rejected the ad, or not clear to me, at least. If it really is because of fear of the fundamentalist anti-contraception crowd, well, that is very bad news indeed. The first and foremost function of condoms is to prevent undesired conceptions. The second, though also a very important function of condoms is to protect the users against some sexually transmitted diseases.

It could be that the ads were rejected because they are pretty unflattering to men. I found them sexist, even if Amanda did not. See how feminists don't have a hive mind? I read the ad as saying that men are pigs except the one who gets the condom from the bathroom machine and miraculously transforms into a guy. Yes, I know that it's sort of funny. But it's still sexist. It's also sexist in another sense: It assumes that all those men in that bar are there just to get some pussy as rude bloggers might say, and that the woman picks the lucky recipient by the condom rule.

I hate to do this prudish feminist bit but sometimes my inner prude requires it.

On the Democratic Candidates' Speeches

I wrote one of those gut-reaction reports on how Obama, Edwards and Clinton came across to me at the Take Back America conference. You can read it on the TAPPED blog. The idea is to show that I can do the Chris Matthews type of journalism. And then I will get loads of money for chocolate from the mainstream media.

Digby Revealed

You can see her speak here at the "Take Back America" conference where she accepted the Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership Award we (the venomous rabid lambs of the left blogosphere as David Brooks once so memorably put it) were given.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Who Are You Gonna Believe?

Byron York of the conservative National Review says that the "Take Back America" conference booed Hillary Clinton when she praised the American military:

"We're going to end the war in Iraq and finally bring home the troops," she said as a number of Code Pink protesters stood up in the audience. When she declared, "The American military has done its job," boos began to be heard around the room. As the boos increased, Sen. Clinton raised her voice. "The American military has succeeded," she said, to more boos. "It is the Iraqi government that has failed to make the tough decisions." Still more boos.

Bill Scher posted what actually happened here.

Now, the funny thing is that I was there, sitting among the journalists, pretending to be one hot babee journalist and stuff. And so I was actually present when the boos started and know what they were about. As Scher states, York is mistaken:

That's flat wrong. The Politics on the Hudson blog gets it right: "They jeered the Democratic presidential hopeful when she blamed the Iraqi government for the continued violence that has bogged down U.S. troops."

Indeed. Clinton used the moderate Republican argument that what has caused the war to bog down is the inability of the Iraqi government to take charge. There was nothing at all wrong with the planning of the invasion (assuming that it was planned at all), there was nothing wrong with dismantling whatever civil society Iraq used to have, and the new Iraq government is somehow supposed to be in control of a civil war which includes among the fighters many members of its own military and police forces.

The argument is weak as lukewarm water and really beneath Hillary Clinton's intelligence. That's why there was booing. I didn't boo, by the way, as I was just then devouring a cold bagel.

It's interesting to ponder why Clinton is so adamant about her pro-war stance and about the way she voted for the war to begin with. Everybody knows that not supporting Bush was political suicide in those days of solemn patriotism, and her vote is fully explained by that. Most people don't say it, but the reason lots of politicians voted to hand over the warkeys to Bush was because that's what the Americans, on average, wanted at that point of time. I remember.

Now, it's one of those slimy politician things to vote a certain way just because that might get you elected, and you might decide not to support politicians who do this in the future. Still, we mostly tend to forgive them for their inconstancy. Take Mitt Romney, for instance. His beliefs are swiveling around faster than a Utah weather vane, but mostly people don't seem to mind very much.

This brings me to the question why Hillary Clinton refuses to change her explanation about why she voted for the war to begin with. Perhaps she plans to continue the heroic effort George Bush began. Or perhaps she does not plan to do so, but believes that a woman can't change her mind. La donna e mobile, you know. My personal pet theory is that she thinks the danger from the latter option is greater than the danger of looking like a warmonger. I may be wrong.

Effete, Effeminate and At Risk of Emasculation

This is the American Man, at least in the opinion of many right-wing and anti-feminist writers and bloggers. I came across these adjectives in reading what right-wing columnists and blogs worry about in the male presidential candidates, indeed in the American men. Glenn Reynolds, for instance, is most concerned about the feminization of the American culture (don't laugh). He recommends, repeatedly, a new book entitled A Dangerous Book for Boys. The idea of this book is to teach boys how to be boys, not the effete and effeminate wimps us feminists would wish to make out of them. Honestly.

Glenn Greenwald has an interesting post on the whole topic. He notes that the right-wingers think America is being emasculated, and they want to fight back before it is too late. Notice how the terms pile up: effete, effeminate and now emasculated. It is the testicles of boys that are at great risk, it seems.

The fragility of masculinity is an odd and important topic. I have never quite understood how masculinity can be so immensely fragile and at the same time so immensely powerful in the minds of some people. It is such a paradox: First, the traditionalists believe that men and women are biologically very different, in fact extremely so, and these "innate" biological differences are proposed as the explanation for anything at all that women might not excel at.

Why so few women in sciences? It's because women can't do math and don't find it interesting, silly. Evolution has built that into our genes. Or why do women get paid less than men, on average? Well, women "choose" to focus on children and the family. This is a biological imperative and nothing much can be done about it unless we want the Western civilization to collapse. Hidden in all this is the assumption that it would be similarly biologically impossible for men to take on some of those childrearing tasks. Because men and women are innately different and intended for different tasks. In a complementary way, natch. For instance, the low earnings of women compensate for the higher earnings of men. And so on.

But then suddenly this very concept of masculinity is at risk, threatened, something that needs to be taught to boys who would otherwise grow up to be something totally different. Turtles, perhaps.

This makes no sense, no sense at all. Either masculinity is biologically determined and will take a certain form in any case or it is not. You can't have it both ways, but the anti-feminists insist on this impossible combination.

Hence the need to change the education, upbringing and environment of boys (by, say, having them read books about how boys should act). Changing education, upbringing or the environment of girls is seen as totally futile, given the biological imperatives these folks embrace.

But of course this nonsensical view tells us much about what really lies behind the fear of the emasculation of American men. The fear is that men might end up not being any better than women are, and given the hierarchical world we still mostly inhabit, this would be a real loss for the men who currently stand on a high rung of the power ladder and also for the women who depend on these men. One of Ursula le Guin's books contains a snippet of conversation about this between Tenar and Ged. When Tenar wants to know why women in that book can't do men's magic, Ged answers by arguing that if women could do the same magic as men then men would be nothing but women who can't give birth.

I found that fascinating, because it is such an insulting statement and also such a revealing one about how women might be viewed. Note first that all women who live long enough will at some point be women who can't give birth and that some women are never able to give birth. Ged sees these women as something without purpose or without use. Then note how Ged defines women by their ability to give birth. This is revealing, because at its most extreme misogyny allows women now other area but the one in which men can't substitute for them. In a sense, the definition of femininity becomes the ability to give birth and this is then the totality of what it means to be a woman. In such an extreme case masculinity is pretty much everything else; all other abilities, characteristics and traits. Only female sexuality and fertility and practical tasks associated with them will be viewed as properly feminine.

This long preamble is to explain why I find the wingnut worry about the emasculation of American culture so frightening. To me it looks like yet another attempt to hoard all sorts of human characteristics under the title of masculinity, and to the extent this succeeds the allowable spheres for women's lives become smaller and tighter and meaner.

Consider the terms "effete" and "effeminate". I looked them up on the Internet and found this definition of effete:
depleted of vitality, marked by self-indulgence, trivial, decadent, overrefined, effeminate

Effeminate, in turn, is defined as follows:
having qualities or characteristics more often associated with women than men;
characterized by weakness and excessive refinement

The antonym of "effeminate" is "manly", which is defined as
having qualities traditionally attributed to a man;
courageous, strong

See the problem? The definitions of effete and effeminate are both circular, being based on what one deems as typical for women or men. But then the additional definitions assign good things to masculinity, such as courage and strength. By definition, then, femininity will lack those.

And this is why Glenn Reynolds worrying about the masculinity of American men and boys directly affects me and other women.

My apologies for the writing. It's hard to do any at this conference. I promise I will rewrite this later on. Heh.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Guest post by Kay: Pedro Guzman

This is a story that's been floating around for the past week. Penny covered it, and Belledame at Fetch Me My Axe has too. From the ACLU press release:
U.S. Citizen Illegally Deported From Jail Is Missing in Mexico

ACLU and Law Firm Seek Federal Help to Find Developmentally Disabled Man

Monday, June 11, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Federal immigration officers and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department illegally deported a U.S. citizen last month, the ACLU/SC has learned. He is missing in Mexico, and today the ACLU/SC and the law firm of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking his safe return.

Pedro Guzman, 29, was born in Los Angeles and raised in Lancaster, California. He was serving time at Men’s Central Jail for trespassing, a misdemeanor offense, when he was deported to Tijuana May 10 or 11. Mr. Guzman is developmentally disabled, does not read or write English well, and knows no one in Tijuana. He declared at his booking that he was born in California.

He spoke to his sister-in-law by telephone from a shelter in Tijuana within a day of his deportation, but the call was interrupted. Family members traveled to the city in an attempt to find him and have remained there, searching shelters, jails, churches, hospitals, and morgues.

There are no circumstances under which government officials may deport a U.S. citizen. Federal officials have refused requests by family members and a private lawyer to assist in the search for Mr. Guzman.

"This is a recurring nightmare for every person of color of immigrant roots," said ACLU/SC legal director Mark Rosenbaum. "Local jail officials and federal immigration officers deported the undeportable, a United States citizen, based on appearance, prejudice, and reckless failure to apply fair legal procedures."

"What has happened to Pedro Guzman is a tragedy," said Stacy Tolchin of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale. "His life may be in danger, and the government must act immediately to locate him and return him to the United States."

Jail and Department of Homeland Security officials failed to identify Mr. Guzman’s disability and improperly obtained his signature for deportation from the United States. "The procedures for determination of legal status implemented by Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs … fail even minimal criteria for constitutional due process," the lawsuit states.

Sheriff's deputies trained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conduct immigration checks at L.A. County jails. The ACLU and immigrant-rights groups warned that involving local law enforcement in immigration policing would lead to mistaken deportations and violate the due-process rights of inmates.

Anyone with information about Mr. Guzman can call the ACLU/SC at (213) 977-9500.
As noted at And We Shall March:
Guzman, a Southern California native, was abandoned in a place where he knows absolutely no one, with no money and without cognitive ability to get himself back to his home. As of right now our government won't even formally ask Mexican officials to search the morgues. That's how little care is extended for someone who is not a missing white girl.

There are no circumstances in which government officials may deport a U.S. citizen.

Cross-posted at The Gimp Parade

Guest post by Kay/Blue Lily: Kevorkian's Big Lie

I'm the guest blogger that just won't go away, eh? With Echidne busy at that conference, I once again get a chance to share some more thoughts with her readers. Thanks.

This is written by Diane Coleman, president of disability rights organization Not Dead Yet, from an op-ed in the North Country Gazette:
Every time the courtroom doors opened during Jack Kevorkian’s weeklong trial in 1999, security guards allowed two wheelchair users to enter and sit in designated spaces, as well as three disabled but walking advocates, all representatives of the group Not Dead Yet. We rotated the opportunity to be in the courtroom among about 40 disability activists who came from several states to represent the majority of Kevorkian’s body count, people with non-terminal disabilities.

Kevorkian had been quoted in Time Magazine to say he would love to debate the critics who charge that he is too hasty in deciding who may die. “I will argue with them if they will allow themselves to be strapped to a wheelchair for 72 hours so they can’t move, and they are catheterized and they are placed on the toilet and fed and bathed. Then they can sit in a chair and debate with me.”

In response, our leaflets simply stated, “We’re here, and we demand the equal protection of the law: Jail Jack.”

Kevorkian claims involvement in over 130 deaths, and it’s been irrefutably documented in such respected publications as the New England Journal of Medicine that over 70% were not terminally ill, and 70% were women. Many disability rights advocates view him as a serial killer of people with disabilities.
Read the rest here.

Why is this important now? Because Kevorkian was recently released from jail and the misinformation about his actions and motives continues.

I do believe reasonable people can disagree about the issue of assisted suicide, provided they understand fully the inequality of providing the "freedom to die" for a class of people routinely denied basic freedoms to live. But Kevorkian has no place being named a hero for his actions.

Cross-posted at The Gimp Parade

Facebook Feminism And Conferencing

Check this out: If you search for feminist pages on Facebook you get many more anti-feminist sites than feminist ones. Given the average age of those using Facebook, this suggests that we don't have a very big third wave going at the present time. More like the backlash from the second wave is still hitting the shoreline. This is a topic which deserves a much longer post, and it will get one in the future.

I'm still attending the conference and collecting famous presidential candidates. This morning I saw Governor Bill Richardson, and this afternoon I will add Barack Obama and John Edwards to my collection. Wanna trade?

It's really hard to write proper posts in this setting. The bulk of my ideas will probably have to wait until I'm back home at the Snakepit Inc.. On the other hand, my muse has a hangover and might decide to work tonight. To atone, you know.

Who’d o' Thunk It?

A paper reports the news and the people read it. Posted by olvlzl.
Spending so much of my time bemoaning the media it was good to read a Buzz Flash piece by Rory O'Connor about a small paper that did some reporting, The Post Register in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The people at that paper did something like what the Boston Globe did in breaking and pursuing the clergy sex abuse scandal but it was the Boys Scouts and they went up against the Mormon establishment instead of the Catholics.

Here's what happened: after receiving a tip that a pedophile caught at a local scout camp in 1997 had not two victims (as the paper reported at the time) but actually dozens, Post Register reporters went to the courthouse to look for a civil suit filed by victims, only to be told that there was no such case. They later learned that the national Boy Scouts of America and its local Council had hired two of Idaho's best-connected law firms to seal the files -- thus covering up the entire affair.

Or so they thought... But the Post Register went to court and "dragged the case file into the light of day." What reporters found astonished them; scout leaders had been warned about the pedophile years earlier, but hired him (again!) anyway. Lawyers for the Boy Scouts knew about more victims, but never told those boys' parents. Top local and national leaders of the Mormon Church, which sponsors almost all area scout troops, had also been warned.

The Post Register ran a six-day series about the affair. The first story featured a 14-year-old camper -- "the son of a Mormon seminary teacher and a cinch to become an Eagle Scout" -- who forced adult leaders to call the police about the pedophile.

Then the backlash began. Mormon church members were among the first to complain, characterizing the paper's coverage as an attack on their faith. "The drums banged, and we were flooded with calls and e-mails and letters to the editor from readers who told us that holding the Grand Teton Council accountable was Mormon-bashing," Miller recounted.

The backlash came as well from advertisers, and the economic pressure built everyday the paper ran the series. "It's one thing to lose an account when you're an employee," Miller wrote. "It's quite another when you're also a stockholder; 140 employees hold close to 49 percent of the company's stock. For many families, this is their retirement." Nevertheless, he recalled, "Most of what I heard inside our building were words of support." Publisher Roger Plothow was also staunchly unapologetic throughout, "standing up with a stoic and clear-eyed defense... for the values of journalism."

The attacks weren't just financial, but personal as well -- including the outing of a gay staff reporter, Peter Zuckerman, by a local multimillionaire who bought full-page ads devoting several paragraphs to establishing that Zuckerman is gay. "Strangers started ringing Peter's doorbell at midnight,"

The local paper stood up for the right of their readers to be informed over what would seem likely to be a pretty severe punishment, financially and personally for its staff. Like what Bogart did in [“The Front Page”ct] Cut that, make it "Deadline".

But unlike in the movies and beyond what you, and the media itself, might expect, the paper that reported the news doesn’t seem to be suffering.

"One of the sweeter moments of our year occurred when we received figures from our circulation audit. While the sales numbers of other U.S. newspapers were in free fall, we were among the nation's faster growing daily papers."

Now that's a surprise ending. A story of a courageous newspaper staff and ownership that doesn't end in bitter-sweet cynicism and the paper closing. Maybe other papers should stop the presses and do a rewrite of their own story. Makes you wonder why they think people buy papers in the first place.

Update: My thanks to the poster who pointed out that I somehow got Charles MacArthur's play mixed up with one of Bogart's least appreciated movies. If you can rent "Deadline", it's worth watching.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Take Back America

I've been enjoying Washington, D.C. today, at the "Take Back America" conference. From my window I can see that phallic symbol of patriotism. More seriously, Washington is a pretty city, and I love the absence of tall buildings. What I don't love so much is the amount of street harassment I underwent in about thirty minutes. No, I don't want to get naked with you. And no, I'm not a sad young lady who needs some company. I'm an old grumpy goddess and ever so slightly drunk.

The conference has been interesting, though I arrived too late to attend the early sessions. I found today's deeper message to be the need to take care of the poor first. If we do that the middle classes will be propped up, too. More substantial posts tomorrow when I'm not quite so tired.

The More Things Change...

I recently posted on the stupid idea that one can make a tool or a gadget female-friendly just by painting it pink. Well, it seems that the marketing folks figured this out fifty years ago:

The Dodge La Femme was a product of the Chrysler Corporation's Dodge division between 1955 and 1956. The La Femme's Raison D'ĂȘtre stemmed from Chrysler's marketing department's observation that more and more women were taking interest in automobiles during the 1950s, and that women's opinions on which color car to buy was becoming part of the decision making process for couples buying an automobile. The La Femme was an attempt to gain a foothold in the women's automobile market.


The interior of the car also received attention and features. La Femme interiors were upholstered in a special tapestry material featuring pink rosebuds on a pale pink background and pale pink vinyl trim. The La Femme also came with a rectangular purse that coordinated with the interior of the car. The purse could be stowed in a special compartment built into the back of the passenger seat. Each purse was outfitted with a matching set, which included a compact lipstick case, cigarette case, lighter and change purse, all by designed and made by "Evans".

It didn't work then, either. I'm very saddened by this total lack of progress, perhaps because it implies that the group "women" are still not worthy of actual study by the marketing departments.

Honour Killings in the U.K.

Thanks for Jules for the link to this awful topic:

Dedicated teams of senior prosecutors are to be deployed in the UK's honour killing hotspots in the wake of the failings exposed this week by the case of a young Kurdish woman murdered by her family.

The prosecutors, who have all had experience of complex organised crime cases, will start work this month as part of an overhaul of how cases are handled. The move is designed to boost conviction rates and improve protection for victims.


The changes come after Banaz Mahmod, a 20-year-old Kurd, was murdered by her father and uncle because they disapproved of her boyfriend who was not a strict Muslim and was not of their tribe.

She was found dumped in a suitcase, with the shoelace used to kill her around her neck. She had repeatedly told police her family were trying to kill her. In one instance where she had escaped from her father, she was not taken seriously, and described as melodramatic and manipulative by an officer who interviewed her.

It is a horrible topic, and there isn't anything very bright I can say about it. I could say a lot about the feelings of despair that overtake me, the insistent disbelief I have that someone could do this to their sister or daughter or niece and yet be regarded as a good person, and what this all says about how the humanity of women is viewed in vast areas of the world.

But perhaps the wider lesson is that no family should ever be regarded as owning its members, that no family's honor should ever be regarded as lodging inside someone's vagina and that the police should not assume that families always want the best for their members, especially the women.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Fathers' Day!

Good fathers matter. So enjoy the ties and the baseball games and the monogrammed golf balls and the hugs.

What Comes Next After A Quarter Of A Century Of Right-Wing Dominance?

Posted by olvlzl.
One of the early posts I did talked about Victor Berger and the long lived, successful progressive-Socialist movement he was a part of in Milwaukee. I’m sorry to have to report that things don’t appear to be the same there anymore.

Next month in Milwaukee:

George L. Wilson of Children Need Heroes and Drew Heiss of Street Preach are planning to honor Paul Hill in a series of events called "Paul Hill Days" in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 26th - 29th -- "to honor him as God's man and our hero."

For those who have forgotten Paul Hill, he’s the murderer of the abortion provider Dr. John Britton and his escort James Barrett in Pensacola Florida in 1994. He also seriously wounded June Barrett in the attack. The “honoring” is timed to the week of the anniversary of Hill’s attack.

People everywhere should be putting pressure on political, community and religious leaders to condemn this, especially Catholic Bishops and Cardinals who have injected themselves into politics over the issue of ‘the right to life’. The three days of festivities is to include a 'Reenactment of 7-29-1994' (the murders of Dr. Britton and James Barrett and the wounding of June Barrett) we shouldn’t let them get away with a few mealy mouthed regrets. This is incitement to murder and recruitment of children into their ranks seems to be the primary motive of one of the cults involved. This is Jesus Camp-xtra. Let’s see how they really feel about the right to life.