Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The Experiences of Some Detained at Guantanamo Bay

You can read some stories here. There is no way of corroborating what these men say, of course, but I think the mainstream media in the United States should not ignore them. Be warned, the reading might not be easy for all.

The One that Got Away

If you write you know all about that feeling of being nothing but a conduit from some deeper, wider, more important place. Maybe you don't feel it often, but you do feel it sometimes, and then writing is more than pleasure, more than joy, something happening elsewhere yet everywhere. You look up from your work, and five hours have passed! Where did the time go?

The answer is that it didn't exist, because you were in an in-between place, out of time and out of space. You were nothing but a door through which the holy winds blow and everything you wrote down was perfect and nothing you wrote down was from you. It is a blessing to have these moments, worth of years of dental visits without novocaine and good beer.

This is what happened to me this morning, and I'm still weak at the knees. Then I erased it all, accidentally, and the sun died. It deserved to die, and I deserve to die and also to tell about it as publicly as possible. What I had on the screen is gone for ever, and this is because I was a clumsy oaf more in need of my decaf gallon than saving these sacred messages from Elsewhere. So. I hope you feel as bad as I do now. No, not really. Just wanted to share.

The Contraceptive Pill: A New Frontier for the Pro-Life Movement

I googled 'contraceptive pill' and 'implantation' this morning, and found literally hundreds of biased pro-life sites. Try it, if for nothing else, than to find out what the pro-lifers are het up right now. The topic of the day seems to be the regular contraceptive pill, not the 'morning-after' type, and its abortifacient characteristics. In other words, pro-lifers argue that the birth control pill kills babies. Or rather, tiny, tiny sons and daughters. The cunning way it manages to do this is by preventing the implantation of the fertilized egg onto the lining of the uterus.

Some sites tell about this in vivid terms: how 'your' desperate, starving tiny son or daughter is trying, trying, but failing to hook onto 'your' now-shriveled and hostile uterine lining. The writers of these tragedies have lost good career opportunities in some of the lesser known genres of literature, but I wish that they didn't assume the reader is a woman who is also the location of these events.

The reason why taking the birth control pill is murder, in the pro-life world, is the possibility that there might be an ovulation even though the pill tries to stop ovulations from happening, and that as a consequence an egg might be fertilized, but fail because of its inability to implant. The reason I was googling with those keywords as well as others more refined was to find out the studies that show exactly how the contraceptive pill stops implantation of the fertilized egg. I was unable to find any such study, and in fact an article in the Prevention magazine states that no such research exists:

At the heart of the debate between anti-Pill forces and mainstream medicine lies a profound difference of opinion about when pregnancy and life begin. The long-standing medical definition of pregnancy, held by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is that it starts not when an egg is fertilized, but when the fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining.

This distinction is practical: A pregnancy test won't show a positive result before implantation. "It can't be an abortion before there is a pregnancy," points out David Grimes, MD, a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and one of the leading contraception experts in the US.

But anti-Pill doctors and pharmacists say life begins sooner, at fertilization. Sloughing off a fertilized egg, in their view, is a "chemical abortion."

"How many women know that if they become pregnant after breakthrough ovulation, these 'contraceptives' will almost always kill any son or daughter they've conceived?" asks the anti-Pill organization Pro-Life America on the group's Web site,

Surprisingly, there's no science to back the theory that birth control pills really do discourage implantation. This claim, made by contraceptive manufacturers for decades, has never been proven, Grimes says. Even the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists agrees that it's just speculation.

This is so important it bears repeating:
Surprisingly, there's no science to back the theory that birth control pills really do discourage implantation. This claim, made by contraceptive manufacturers for decades, has never been proven, Grimes says. Even the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists agrees that it's just speculation.

You'd never think that there is any doubt about the scientific basis for the implantation-argument in the tens and hundreds of pro-life websites. No doubt at all. Contraceptive pills are abortifacients!:

The Pill and its "cousins" kill children earlier in their life than surgical abortion. In America, chemical abortions are estimated to kill more than 7 million babies each year -- while surgical abortions kill about 1.5 million babies each year.

That's how pro-lifers think. Even the smallest, hypothetical possibility of a fertilized egg not being implanted is adequate grounds to 'estimate' that seven million 'babies' are killed each year by women who use the birth control pill. This is the next frontier of the pro-life warplan, the natural next step to take after fighting abortion: to fight contraception. The frontlines will no longer be drawn at the offices of physicians who perform abortions, rather, they will be in the wombs of millions and millions of American women. Or that's what the pro-life movement would like to see happen, I believe.

Here's a glimpse of the first moves in this new stage of the anti-abortion war:

Though three states have conscience clauses for pharmacists, there is no such legal provision in Texas, where the CVS druggist refused to fill Julee Lacey's prescription.

The night it happened, Lacey says, she was shocked and responded, "Are you sure? I've had this filled here many times before." But the pharmacist was emphatic. "I just couldn't believe what I was hearing," recalls Lacey. "It was a school night, and I knew I had to put my kids to bed and get organized for work the next morning. I didn't want to run all over town for my Pills." Lacey and her husband complained to the assistant store manager that night and the district manager the next day. Finally, the pharmacy supervisor called and said he would have Lacey's prescription delivered that day. "He apologized and said he was unaware of the pharmacist's moral objections to the Pill. Apparently it was a new belief," says Lacey. (A CVS corporate spokesperson contacted by Prevention confirmed Lacey's story. None of the employees has ever been named.)

All that Ms. Lacey suffered was a small delay and some frustration. But what would the consequences be if ethical refusals by health professionals were more generally legal? What would a woman in a rural area with just one pharmacy do? Where would she go if the only gynecologist refused to prescribe the pill? Do these ethical refusals take into account all the abortions that might ensue because women get pregnant in the absence of the birth control pill they can't get prescribed?

More generally, do ethical refusals consider the fact that many women use the contraceptive pill for something else than pregnancy prevention? It is used to control acne, to reduce fibroids, to control endometriosis and to prevent ovarian cancer, a particulary deathly and symptomless form of cancer (the efficacy of birth control pills in preventing this type of cancer may be as high as 80%). Does this matter to the refusing professional? That the woman denied the pill might then actually die herself? Of course this is unlikely to happen today, given that most other professionals will not refuse to prescribe oral contraceptives, but shouldn't the ethical refuser consider his or her own choices and their consequences alone? After all, most of those denied the pill for birth control purposes will get their prescription filled elsewhere, and if the pill is killing tiny babies, it will do it irrespective of the person who prescribed or dispensed the order.

I'm unhappy with this ethical refusal rule, and wonder where it might lead us. Suppose that I present myself at the front desk of a pharmacy somewhere with a big packet of red and pink condoms. If the clerk helping me doesn't believe in adultery, can she or he quiz me on my marital status and on what I intend to do with the condoms? And does it matter that I'm going to use them in lieu of birthday balloons?

I'm also unhappy with the argument I found on a pro-life website that scientists have conclusively proved that life begins at conception. I believe, deeply, sincerely and fervently, that life begins before conception. The ova and the sperm are both alive and both human, and any man who ejaculates during sleep is guilty of mass murder. Likewise, any woman who needs to buy tampons this month is guilty of serial murder. When I get around to it, I'm going to start my own pro-life movement and go after the Catholic priests first of all. Think of all the lives they have denied! But even if I believed in the lukewarm version the current pro-life movement holds true, I'd be a little bit concerned about going after all women who use oral contraceptives just on the basis of a hunch. This seems a cruel and non-Christian thing to do, though to be fair to the pro-lifers, any woman who gives up her pills right now can still get forgiveness and a place in heaven. I wonder what the writers of this stuff will get when they knock on the final gates? A nasty surprise? Who knows.

Via the Rubber Nun

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

J. Leon Holmes was Approved

So. Religion has been affirmed, never mind about all that political correctness crap. You might be interested to know that Mary Landrieux voted for Mr. Holmes. I'm sure that she had asked for the permission of her husband before venturing to raise her voice in public in such a manner. If not, she can always repent later at leisure.

Actually, it's a good reminder, a cold shower if you like, about what is important in this world. Religion is, and bombs are and wars. Human rights are very unimportant, except when they come handy as a shield behind which better political plots can be hatched.

And you will not get a link or anything. I'm a fed-up goddess, and in fact I've put in my application to start a new world somewhere far away. Populated by nothing but snakes.

Guess Who's Really Oppressed in America?

This is an easy one: it's white Christian men, especially the ones who try to get appointments as Federal Judges. The most recent victim of this incessant harassment of Christians is J. Leon Holmes, a district court nominee. He's mercilessly oppressed by not only the Democrats, of whom we expect nothing but such stigmatizing, but even by some wishy-washy quasi-Republicans! Yes, indeed, moles have buried deep into the Republican underbelly, and the season to get rid of them is now!

So tremble, Arlen Specter, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Olympia Snowe! Quiver and shake, ye women of the Republicans in the House and Senate! We shall smite you down in your arrogance! We have heard mutterings and rumblings that all Republican female Senators are against this noble and valiant Christian soldier, and we warn you that the Right will prevail.

Why does any misguided soul oppose our brother-in-faith J. Leon Holmes? He is, after all, wielding the sword against abortionists and people who refuse to see the righteous truth in the commands of the holy Bible. All Leon is accused of is stating clearly that which we all know to be true deep in our bosoms: that women are not equal to men. It is not Leon's fault that this is how things are, what is written is written. And what is written must be true. Read Ephesians 5 yourself if you doubt me.

And did you ever hear anything more idiotic than this:

Critics have portrayed Holmes as anti-woman. Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, issued a statement yesterday saying that "Holmes' record and extreme views about the role of women and other subjects will make it impossible for many who come before him to believe they will get a fair hearing."

How lamentably wrong can these communists be? What is wrong with taking Epheseans 5 as your guiding light in deciding on court cases concerning the weaker sex? What is wrong with holding the holy truths about the submission of women above the purely earthly concerns of this republic? What is fairer to women than the religion we know to be the only right one?

See, brethren, how we battle the dark forces. Yet they rise again and again, and in their anger and wrath trample over our sacred rights and the True Way of Life. They oppress us and don't let us rule over their pagan multitudes. They discriminate against us and don't let us preach the true words from the judicial pulpits. We are the oppressed and the victimized, we are the ones who must be affirmed.

Please rise and assure that our brother J. Leon Holmes receives the judgeship that is his by right. If he can be denied on such puny grounds as not seeing the sexes as equal, how can we ever grant equal opportunity to those of us who hold even firmer views on these matters?

Via Holden on Atrios.

John Edwards

So now it's a campaign of the two johns. About the only real opening this gives the wingnuts.

Edwards was a good choice, I think, if there is such a thing as a good choice in thir particular election year. Anyone Kerry would nominate would be treated to an immediate autopsy by the right-wing pundits. Just to see what Edwards might have in store, I went around looking for any nasty things that was said about him.

Here's a sampling:

From corporate America:

Wall Street was also concerned about Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's selection of John Edwards as vice president. Edwards, a trial lawyer, is seen by the conservative investment community as a proponent of the expensive class-action litigation that often plagues corporate America.
"Clearly, Edwards isn't the choice of business. But the primary question is John Kerry the choice for business?," Pears said. "The answer to that question is less clear for John Kerry, and he's the one running for president, not Edwards.

From the Bush/Cheney campaign:

The Bush/Cheney campaign released new TV ads in an attempt to downplay Kerry`s announcement. They show Bush and Republican Senator John McCain hugging on the campaign trail and say McCain was Kerry`s first choice in a running mate, not John Edwards.

From Republican commentators more generally:

But Larry Sabato also says Republicans will question whether John Edwards is qualified to become vice president.
"Edwards is so inexperienced," he said. "He has never served in public office before this one Senate term and he has a very thin resume in the Senate. He really was not a very dedicated senator. So, I think the question can fairly be asked, is this fellow really ready to assume the presidency on a moment's notice in this very dangerous time?"

and from the mouth of the beast itself, the National Review Online:

Party strategists will undoubtedly answer that in the general election it is the presidential candidate who really matters, and that in the area of national security, voters placed much more trust in John Kerry. That's true. But given that the war in Iraq, and to some extent the larger issue of national security, will likely dominate the fall campaign, it's also true that Kerry has chosen a running mate who is extraordinarily weak on those issues that matter most.

All this sounds very weak to me. Which means that John Edwards was a good choice for Kerry. Let the games begin.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Blogger Pains

The Blogger is experiencing growing pains again. If you have trouble getting here or to any other blogspot site, it's not your fault. Normally trying again a couple of times will work, or if not, alternating with should do the trick. We apologize for this inconvenience, but plan to do nothing to fix it as blogspot is extremely appropriately priced. Though I will personally scold them, again.

Women Priests

I am for them, but the Roman Catholic church is somewhat less enthusiastic. Well, considerably less enthusiastic. This is not hard to understand: if women became priests, who'd be left to do all the drudge work that is needed in running the churches? Still, I don't understand the Pope's brain on the topic of women. He appears to have but the faintest idea of what women are. Maybe this isn't so unexpected given the way the Catholic church makes sure that its priests will not live in families which would be one way of finding out about women, at least partially. Not that women are very different from men, of course, but it seems to be part of the Pope's belief systems that they are. For example, women can't be priests because they weren't among Christ's disciples (ok, I have no idea if the Pope believes this, but many in the church do, and I want to make the argument here). This hasn't stopped the church from electing a Polish pope, and I'm willing to bet my pocket money against the possibility that any of the original disciples was Polish. In any case, some scholars argue that Mary Magdalene was a disciple and that her role was erased in later rewritings of the gospels.

I think that women should be priests because I would have made a wonderful priest, if I had happened to have been born Catholic (and human). This makes me believe that we are losing countless numbers of wonderful priests because of attitudes which really should be outdated by now. I also don't like giving little girls messages about their second-class status, and being told that you can't become a priest simply because you are a girl tends to do funny things to your head. It may even serve to breed future feminists!

So the following news should be regarded as good ones by all concerned:

Six Catholic women, including two Americans, were ordained as Catholic deacons on June 26 at a service on the Danube River in Passau, Germany. The service was a continuation of a series of ordinations that began in 2002 in the same location, at which point seven women were ordained into the priesthood.
For a religious community still in the shadows of the clergy sex abuse scandals, these ordinations are seen as a positive step toward the healing of the Catholic church, according to advocates of female priests.

Ida Raming, a German theologian and one of the priests who performed the ordinations of women two years ago, argued that baptism, not gender, determines eligibility for the priesthood. At the 2002 service she said that the opinion of the current church leadership on women priests--as well as the Biblical canons that it is derived from--are "based on a grave lack of respect for the human dignity of women and their Christian existence."

Not that any of this will be accepted by the Catholic church. The most likely outcome is that all those involved in these ordinations will be excommunicated. There is something very sad about a church which must excommunicate those who most desperately want to serve it.

Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid!

Welcome to the post 7/4 world. It's time to be afraid again:

The federal authorities, concerned about a terror attack during this summer's national political conventions, have begun a new effort to identify potential extremists inside the United States, including conducting interviews in communities where terrorists might seek refuge, government officials said.
The fears about an incident during the conventions or later in the year have also led state and local officials to impose extraordinary security precautions. Persistent if indistinct intelligence reports, based on electronic intercepts and live sources, indicate that Al Qaeda is determined to strike in the United States some time this year, the officials said in interviews last week.
Almost half the budgets in each convention city will be spent on security, local officials said. The Democratic National Convention will be held in Boston at the Fleet Center from July 26 to 29. The Republican National Convention will be held in New York at Madison Square Garden from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.
New York is regarded as a higher risk than Boston by counterterrorism officials because George Bush is a Republican and because of consistent intelligence.

Clearly, the counterterrorism officials have been busy protecting George Bush already from possible terrorists. In his ninth visit to West Virginia since taking office, Bush told Americans that their country is safer because Saddam Hussein is in a prison cell. However, his own security seems to have been seriously endangered by this brave public appearance:

Two Bush opponents, taken out of the crowd in restraints by police, said they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing shirts that said they opposed the president.

Ok. We've got Saddam in a cell and probably the Bush protesters as well (no, turns out that they were let loose, after all!). How about catching some of Al Qaeida, too? Or is this just not doable given the current budgeted expenditures needed in Iraq? To be honest, I'd much rather pay taxes for Al Qaeida hunting than either the fiasco in Iraq or the fiasco that took place in West Virginia. Though I guess we'll soon have nothing left to protect of the freedoms that Bush argues make the terrorists so mad at us.
Thanks to Tena at Eschaton for the link to the second quote.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Barbara Ehrenreich on the Fourth of July

From the New York Times:

When they first heard the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776, New Yorkers were so electrified that they toppled a statue of King George III and had it melted down to make 42,000 bullets for the war. Two hundred twenty-eight years later, you can still get a rush from those opening paragraphs. "We hold these truths to be self-evident." The audacity!
Read a little further to those parts of the declaration we seldom venture into after ninth-grade civics class, and you may feel something other than admiration: an icy chill of recognition. The bulk of the declaration is devoted to a list of charges against George III, several of which bear an eerie relevance to our own time.
George III is accused, for example, of "depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury." Our own George II has imprisoned two U.S. citizens — Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi — since 2002, without benefit of trials, legal counsel or any opportunity to challenge the evidence against them. Even die-hard Tories Scalia and Rehnquist recently judged such executive hauteur intolerable.
It would be silly, of course, to overstate the parallels between 1776 and 2004. The signers of the declaration were colonial subjects of a man they had come to see as a foreign king. One of their major grievances had to do with the tax burden imposed on them to support the king's wars. In contrast, our taxes have been reduced — especially for those who need the money least — and the huge costs of war sloughed off to our children and grandchildren. Nor would it be tactful to press the analogy between our George II and their George III, of whom the British historian John Richard Green wrote: "He had a smaller mind than any English king before him save James II."

It is all good stuff.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Colin Sings. Colin Dances.

If you want to see and hear Colin Powell dance and sing, click here, then click on the Watch and Listen square on the right.
Don't say I didn't warn you!

Via the Original Amazon.

Some News on U.S. Employment

The United States economy created 112,000 new jobs in June 2004. This is good news, or at least better news than a loss of 112,000 jobs would have been. But given the natural business cycles, recessions tend to be followed by employment upswings in due time. The latest recession appears atypical in many ways, and one of these is it's length: every other recession since 1939 has shown full recovery of the lost jobs within 31 months of the start of the recession. This time, thirty-nine months later, 1.2 million jobs are still missing.

The jobless nature of this recovery has economists scratching their heads. But not the Bush administration: they believe that we are experiencing the beginning of a very vibrant recovery and that the jobs are just lagging behind a little. Perhaps. But the administration has been unable to match its own employment predictions. According to them we should have 2,230,000 more jobs now, at the end of the first year after the highly touted tax cuts took effect. In other words, they promised much more than they are delivering.

Consider the numbers: The unemployment rate has remained steady at 5.6% since January this year, and the rate of underemployed people (those who work part-time involuntarily, those who are so discouraged that they have stopped looking for jobs and those who are only marginally attached to the labor force) is now 9.6%, up from 7.3% at the start of the recession. All this despite the increased number of jobs.

And what are the jobs like that were lost in the recession compared to those that are now being added? It seems that the new jobs are lower paying, less stable, self-employed and part-time jobs (eBay, anybody?), while the lost jobs were what's called high-quality jobs in sectors such as transportation, utilities, natural resources and manufacturing. The numbers of part-time workers and the self-employed have risen by roughly 5% since early 2002. Compare this to the 1.7% growth in regular employees. Since late 2001, jobs in high-paying industries fell by more than 2% and the jobs in low-paying industries rose by 1.2%.

It's fair to summarize these overall changes as a labor market that is paying less for jobs with less stability. We are not getting the good old jobs back; instead we are being offered poorer jobs with less hours of work. To be fair, the most recent statistics indicate that some of the better paying sectors are also beginning to hire, but the overall impact of these factors is to make the quality of the American jobs worse. For those who can find them, that is.

Friday, July 02, 2004


I can't force myself to post anything serious. Maybe tomorrow; I do have the materials together for something very long and tedious on labor economics. It's going to cause fireworks on the blog.

Instead of such an erudite treatise on the big questions in life, I want to ask you an even bigger question, one that requires every iota (what is an iota?) of your concentration, intelligence and senses:

If you could come back to life after death, what would you choose to be?

I would like to be very tall if human, and have eyes which send out angry zaps. If I could be an animal I'd probably want to be a turtle, if I could be a vegetable, I'd want to be an ornamental bean (they don't get eaten), if I could be a tree, I'd want to be an oak (and drop acorns on wingnuts). Oaks live a long time and don't cause a lot of raking in the fall, and I would be a very considerate tree.

Insects are not a good idea for reincarnation. Too much work for just a few days' worth of life, and I already have nightmares about being stepped on by a large rubber sole. Though being a disease-carrier could be a nice revenge for something.

Ok. This is what they mean by pure waffle. As I said, it's Friday and this is all that Friday produces in early July.

Happy Fourth of July!

I'm posting this early both because that way more people see it (and my attempt to be nice and culturally sensitive) and also because that leaves me free to go back to being nasty over the weekend.

So if you're an American who celebrates the Fourth of July, have a good time! Beware of hot dogs in excess and political debates in family get-togethers. And wear sunscreen.

Something very patriotic to do: Get registered to vote if you haven't done so already, or get someone else to register. Then consider the candidates for presidency carefully, and decide to vote for Kerry come hell or high water.

Zen Sarcasms

Via heini.

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me,
for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much
leave me the heck alone.

2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a
leaky tire.

3. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your
neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.

4. Sex is like air. It's not important unless you aren't getting any.

5. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be

6. No one is listening until you fart.

7. Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.

8. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

9. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of
car payments.

10. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their
shoes. That way, when you criticize them you're a mile away and you
have their shoes.

11. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to
fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

13. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was
probably worth it.

14. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

15. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.

16. Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time.

17. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes
from bad judgment.

18. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and
put it back in your pocket.

19. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

20. Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side,
and it holds the universe together.

21. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are

22. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need

23. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

24. We are born naked, wet and hungry, and get slapped on our
butt...Then things get worse.

25. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a
laxative on the same night.

26. There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

27. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too

28. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to
make a big deal about your birthday...around age 11.

29. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

I agree with the last one.

Thursday, July 01, 2004


Every time I log to my SiteMeter to check on if Aphrodite is still reading my blog I see the advertisements on the top of the page. Most of them are of the type that require being clicked on to tell the whole story. I never click on them, and so I'm only left with the mysterious messages they give at first.

In the spirit of proper liberal recycling, I decided to use these mysterious sayings as my meditation mantras. Here's how it worked:

The first one I chose says: "Colon Polyps. Stop them before they go bad." Translated into a mantra, this is the meditation it created:

Stop the polyps. Stop the polyps. UMMMMMM. How do you stop the polyps before they go bad? Do you squeeze your anus harder? Stop the polyps before they go bad. In the colon. In the Colin. Is this what is wrong with Colin Powell? How do polyps go bad? UMMMMM. Do they stink like sour milk? How do you find out if your polyps stink like sour milk? Do you ask a kind bypasser? UMMMMM

I don't think that I got any nearer to enlightenment with that one. The following week I had a new mantra:"How can you stop a car crash with a few ounces of metal?" This was very unpromising. Car crashes tend to make me uptight, and meditation is meant to do the opposite. But perhaps I was ready for the challenge:

Car crashes. Stop the car crashes. AAAAAA! Don't buy a car. With a few ounces of metal, AAAAA. What metal? Buy a gun and shoot all other drivers on the road? AAAAIIIIIH!

Then I had to go and have a nice liedown. The next one I'm going to work with is:"Yo. I'm Mike Mahi Mahi." It comes with a picture of a very happy fish. Happy to be eaten? I'll never know.

Hillary Bashing

Hillary Rodham Clinton is in a lot of wingnuts' nightmares, it seems, given the amount of negative publicity she attracts. Here is Robert Novak, for example:
On the June 29 edition of CNN's Crossfire, co-host and syndicated columnist Robert Novak again ridiculed Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) by calling her "Madame Defarge" -- a reference to a distasteful character from Charles Dickens's novel A Tale of Two Cities .
According to , a website that provides study guides for classic novels, Madame Defarge is "a cruel, vengeance-seeking agent of the [French] revolution ... [who] spends her days knitting a 'register' of names of people she has marked for death."
Novak went on to say that Senator Clinton's proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy "sound[ed] like communism." Pointing out that Hillary Clinton's title is "senator," Novak's Crossfire co-host Paul Begala defended Clinton against Novak's attacks:
NOVAK: For a while, I thought that Hillary Rodham Clinton was actually trying to be nice. What disappointing behavior that would be for Madame Defarge. But she has been back in form lately. This week, in San Francisco, where else, she vowed to defeat what she called the Republicans' extraordinarily ruthless campaign.
She told Democrats who paid up to $10,000 to attend that event that she was going to raise their taxes -- quote -- "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." Doesn't that sound like communism?
NOVAK: But it's probably what the rich San Francisco liberals want, and certainly what they deserve, even if they don't want it.
BEGALA: Well, what Senator Clinton -- and that is her title, Senator Clinton -- deserves is better than being called a communist and better than being compared to Madame Defarge, who the English majors here will know is the woman who sat and knitted while people were beheaded during the French revolution in the book A Tale of Two Cities.
I think, given what's happening in Iraq right now, it's a really unfortunate way to characterize one of the finest people in public life that I know. And I know you'll apologize for that unfortunate...
NOVAK: I'll tell you. Certainly, next time I talk about her, I'll call her senator. Will that make you happy?
BEGALA: What about Madame Defarge? That is kind of across the line. I mean, come on.
NOVAK: Well, not my line.

Robert Novak has a habit of calling Senator Clinton Madame Defarge. You'd think that he could find more variation; the literary canon is full of evil and power-hungry female characters. I hope that Robert stays off cheese and wine late at night. Maybe he will then dream something nicer and more creative.

Robert is not alone in his Hillary-obsession. She is hated out of all proportion to both her importance and anything that she has ever done.
She isn't even especially left-wing in her opinions, and she has been a good little senator during her term in office. What makes the wingnuts say things like this?:

In a Washington Times op-ed about former President Bill Clinton's memoir My Life, titled "Harry Potter and Bill Clinton: 'My Life' should be titled 'My Lie,'" Jack Wheeler, identified by The Washington Times as publisher of, asserted that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is bisexual.
Wheeler wrote of Bill Clinton's memoir:
All of that stuff about Hillary being mad, making him sleep on the couch, going to marriage counselors for a year, yada yada, is all made up. They have had a pact for decades: He gets to fool around with women, and she gets to fool around with women (plus the occasional man like Vince Foster).
Yes, she's bisexual -- I disclosed that in an infamous Strategic Investment column in January 1993, and Dick Morris publicly revealed it a few years ago. You knew that, right?

I know that there is a bizarre connection between being obsessed about sex and wingnuttiness, but it really gets sick when we add it to the stew of Hillary-bashing. Remember Limbaugh and the testicles in a lock-box?

There aren't enough psychiatrists in this country to tend to all those affected by the Hillary hatred. She is not just a communist but a fascist (!), not just a sexual adventurer but a woman who wants to castrate men (!). She is Hitlery, the all-powerful, all-evil woman who is going to get us all if we don't stay alert, fight our nightmares and every morning write them down carefully for publication.

I'm sick and tired of this. Hillary isn't that horrible or that wonderful. She is probably a pretty ordinary politician, but in the minds of so many she is the worst threat to Western civilization since Karl Marx. And the reason isn't that hard to figure out. She stands as a symbol for all the things that men like Novak fear in women: independence, power and refusal to play by his rules. Whether Hillary in fact is a feminist or not doesn't matter. She has become the mythological nightmare for all those who fear equality.