Saturday, April 09, 2005

Today's Deep Thought

It's by Bill Moyers, via Sigmund Freud (no, not that one) on Eschaton threads:

The delusional is no longer marginal.

Peach Jam and Stalin

Via Atrios I learn that the extremist radical right-wingers want to make peach jam out of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy:

Conservative leaders meeting in Washington yesterday for a discussion of "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny" decided that Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, should be impeached, or worse.

Phyllis Schlafly, doyenne of American conservatism, said Kennedy's opinion forbidding capital punishment for juveniles "is a good ground of impeachment." To cheers and applause from those gathered at a downtown Marriott for a conference on "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith," Schlafly said that Kennedy had not met the "good behavior" requirement for office and that "Congress ought to talk about impeachment."

Next, Michael P. Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said Kennedy "should be the poster boy for impeachment" for citing international norms in his opinions. "If our congressmen and senators do not have the courage to impeach and remove from office Justice Kennedy, they ought to be impeached as well."

Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

It's not really peach jam they're planning to cook up. They are planning to impeach everybody who doesn't think that the Constitution is a Biblical document. Thus, it is very odd and fascinating that Vieira quotes Joseph Stalin as support:

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem." Presumably, Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was not actually advocating violence. But then, these are scary times for the judiciary. An anti-judge furor may help confirm President Bush's judicial nominees, but it also has the potential to turn ugly.

Note that now it isn't the "activist" judges who are the problem, because wingnuts have found passive judges every bit as problematic. The only ok judges are the ones who obey the wingnuts. So now all ornery judges are called "supremacist".

This is both tragic and comic. Comic, because reading about this meeting in one of the most respected newspapers in the world is funny. To think that we are seriously reporting on all this is hilarious. Of course, only if you happen to live elsewhere. The tragic part comes when you live right here and realize that Americans will probably not lift a finger to stop these fanatics.

What Are You Worth, Baby?

Laura Zubulake just won twenty-nine million dollars in a sex discrimination case against Europe's biggest bank, UBS. The bank will try to have the verdict set aside as excessive.

I have never worked in the financial services industry, but based on my limited knowledge Wall Street seems to be a fairly crappy place for uppity women. The rules of the game sometimes include trips to strippers and nights out spent drinking with the boys. What is a woman to do? If she goes along to a stripclub how is she going to feel? Like a live turkey watching a Thanksgiving dinner being devoured? And if she doesn't go or isn't invited to these jaunts, how will she stay informed about what's going on in the firm?

So court cases like Zubulake's seem to be necessary. This case was made even uglier by the fact that

Zubulake's case got a boost when Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin sanctioned UBS for destroying E-mails related to Zubulake. The jury was told of the bank's action. Only some E-mails were recovered, including one in which a UBS exec advocated firing Zubulake after she filed the EEOC complaint.

Tsk, tsk. Better cover up the tracks more carefully next time, UBS.
Link via renatejns.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Friday Embroidery Blogging

The Eye of God

This is an early piece. I found a bag of sequins in a flea-market and wanted to use it for something. Fundamentalism seemed somehow appropriate. There's no actual embroidery in this piece, though the sequins are all sewn on. The people who are sucked into the eye are appliqued. Notice how I had to lengthen the robes of the largest figure? I think I have gotten a little more skillful with time, but in many ways this is a personal favorite. It makes everybody who visits the Snakepit Inc. uncomfortable...

Nothing Changes Instantaneously

This is from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. She is describing the change from pre-Gilead to Gilead, the fundamentalist misogynist America of her book:

Is that how we lived, then? But we lived as usual. Everyone does, most of the time. Whatever is going on is as usual. Even this is as usual, now.

We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn't the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.

Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub you'd be boiled to death before you knew it. There were stories in the newspapers, of course, corpses in the ditches or the woods, bludgeoned to death or mutilated, interfered with, as they used to say, but they were about other women, and the men who did such things were other men. None of them were the men we knew. The newspaper stories were like dreams to us, bad dreams dreamt by others. How awful, we would say, and they were, but they were awful without being believable. They were too melodramatic, they had a dimension that was not the dimension of our lives.

The slowly heating bathtub. That is the reason why I wanted to quote her. For now Atrios gives us this:

Participants at this week's Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration meeting said the group also will focus on forcing Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against any judge who does not conform with their biblically based interpretation of the Constitution, as well as permanently curb judicial authority over matters of church and state, marriage and governmental acknowledgement of a Christian deity.
"What it is time to do is impeach justices," Texas Justice Foundation President Allan Parker extolled a crowd of a hundred or so conservative lobbyists, attorneys and activists. "The standard should be any judge who believes in the 'living constitution' should be impeached."

Dog Blogging, from Down Under!

G'day, mates!

This is Kelly, an Australian dog! She lives with Helga Fremlin who is a wise commenter on this and other blogs. Kelly is totally superior as are all dogs, but she can also speak Australian!

Fear of Things Smelly and Sharp

Warning: Don't read this if you fear dentists!

Like dental equipment. The whining sound of the drill, the metallic clang of instruments being thrown aside, the smell of freshly-gouged-out blood. You look up and see these faces belonging to aliens, bugeyes staring at you with no emotion, large shields covering the mouths. White fabric-covered arms. They move towards you, something shiny in the plastic-covered fingers. The shiny thing comes closer and closer, and then you see it: the drill, probably with a diamond tip, whining, whining already for your blood. But something clamps your mouth down, starts sucking your tongue in and all your energy has escaped the room. You smell burning, you hear the whining sound, like a mosquite gone murderous and then, then, not quite yet, but now! It hits the nerve.

And then you wake up, all covered in cold sweat, realizing that it was just a nightmare. And you feel so light and happy and it's good to be alive. Until you remember that you have a dental appointment this very afternoon.

How Wingnuts Think

This is a little lecture on an important topic: how the opposition thinks. It's also going to be fun. I wish.

First, the wingnuttia brains assume that any evidence which doesn't support the wingnut worldview must not exist. If it still seems to exist, well, then it must be a forgery! Just consider this example on the memo about the Schiavo case:

It has become an article of faith among right-wing bloggers -- and, as of yesterday, the Washington Times -- that a memo identifying the Terri Schiavo case as a "great political issue" for Republicans was a fake, planted by the Democrats or created out of whole cloth by the liberal media conspiracy.

Only it wasn't.

As the Washington Post reports this morning, a staffer for Republican Sen. Mel Martinez admitted yesterday that he wrote the memo. The admission -- and with it, the resignation of Brian Darling, Martinez' legal counsel -- came after Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin revealed that Martinez had handed Harkin a copy of the memo on the Senate floor during debate on the Schiavo bill. Like every other Republican senator, Martinez had previously insisted that he'd never seen the memo before.

It worked in the past, of course, especially with the Rathergate. Most totally forgot that the topic under discussion: George Bush's military escapades, was under no dispute whatsoever. All that we remember is FAKE! Clearly, this strategy is always worth trying. Like suggesting that the Devil has planted fossils to lead us astray about all the evolution crap.

Second, if winguts dislike something in the news which they can't pretend to be a fake they can also yell that the presenter in the news is in cahoots with terrorists! This worked really well during the initial stages of the Iraq war when all those "the-emperor-really-is-butt-naked" people were shamed into silence. Now the wingnut blogs have tried it for pretty much everything. The most recent example is how to criticize the Pulitzer Prize the AP photographers won for their work in the Iraq war zone: biased, pro-terrorists, terrible! I have read several blogs on this but won't link to them because I care about you, my dear readers, and you don't want to go to those blogs.

The idea is to argue that one side of the war is favored by the so-called liberal media, the one that shows dead people and suffering and so on. The other side (which would show exactly what?) is not covered so this is bias. We shouldn't give Pulitzer Prizes for biased photographs. In fact, we shouldn't even mention those aspects of the Iraq war which make the American troops look bad, because this helps the terrorists.

Now some right-wing blogs admit that the AP photographs were not arranged to make Americans look bad, which is good to hear. Until this bit:

And while [Craver] reiterates his belief that the mainstream media "has done a terrible job of balanced news coverage from Iraq" because it "wants to be the voice of opposition," irony doesn't get a whole lot richer than with his take on the Michelle Malkins and Little Green Football throwers of the world:

"It's not like these Web sites to go off half-cocked with such limited information," Craver says. "The MSM are the experts at rumor, speculation and innuendo -- let's not follow their example."

So the idea is still to scream LIBERAL BIAS! They probably will use this one after the Gilead arrives and we all live under the Christian fundamentalist version of the shariah law.

Which brings me to my third and final point about the wingnut philosophy: wingnuts are always the underdogs. Yes, they are the oppressed, and harassed ones, the ones discriminated against. This might be true here on my own private goddess blog, but it's not true out there. Unless you think that being in control of almost all branches of the government is being an underdog, unless you think that having Randal Terry on mainstream television being treated with respect is a clear sign of victimization and unless you think that the voices of Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter are never heard loud enough because of the oppressive fist of the liberals is pressing down on their lips.

Then there is the dreadful fact that Soros gives money to the liberal and progressives! Such unfairness! Never mind that the Schaifes of this world have been funding the whole wingnuttia infrastructure and the wingnuttia think tanks for decades, that most wingnuttia newspapers would fold overnight if they were not funded by some extremist sugar-daddies, that the Washington Times itself has never made a profit to its radical cleric (I'm the New Jesus) owner.

And I seriously believe that most of the wingnut trolls we meet on the internet are getting paid by some secret sugar-daddy, too. But that's just my own private delusion.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Dog Blogging

Such a divine day today! Crocuses turning their round little mugs up hopefully, only to be smashed to smithereens by the very fat feet of Hank the Lab. Both my dogs have the spring fever. Hank carries her George Bush doll everywhere with her and even smuggled it into the dog park where she instantly became a celebrity as all the dogs wanted to chew Georgie! Luckily the owners were largely Kerry-voters, too.

Henrietta walks around with her hackles raised, like some sort of a Maffia boss, while Hank follows half a foot behind but glued to Henrietta's right shoulder. They barrel out of the car like a cyclone and every other dog in the park cowers. I feel dreadful. Owning a pair of ill-behaved Maffia-type dogs is not fun, even if they have never bitten anything more than dog butt. And it makes me look bad.

So I have renewed dog training. It goes like this: I cut a meatball into small pieces and give the dogs various commands like "Sit!", "Down!", "Stay!", and if they get it right they get a sliver from a meatball. They'd do anything for a meatball, and this should work really well. In theory it does, in practice the dogs keep guessing various possible commands, sneaking looks at the other dog for hints, and in general getting less and less trained every second.

It's true that Hank is not the smartest of dogs, but she learns the commands almost immediately. She just doesn't see the point of doing them again after that, ever. Henrietta knows exactly what I try to achieve and she's not going to play into my hands. She has no intention of becoming a well-trained dog. She likes being the bully of the park.

Iraq Has A President

The presidency in Iraq is a largely ceremonial role. It goes to a Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani. He will now lead a presidential council consisting of three people: himself and his two deputies, one Sunni, one Shia, to appoint a Prime Minister for Iraq. The choice is expected to be Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a conservative Shia Islamist.

What does this all mean? It's hard to say. The Kurds are pro-American so can't be ignored but will a ceremonial post make a difference for them? They are more likely to be secular and want at least some local independence, whereas the Shias are keen on centralization and on an Islamist country.

I am still cynical about the whole situation and if I were a betting goddess I'd put my money on a final result of some kind of a theocracy in Iraq rather than anything resembling a secular democracy. But I desperately want to be wrong about this.

The USA Patriot Act

Some parts of the Patriot Act will expire at the end of this year unless renewed. The administration has begun its fight to renew them:

The Bush administration, launching its campaign to renew portions of the USA Patriot Act that expire at the end of the year, acknowledged today that it had used the act's most controversial sections dozens of times.

The administration also opened the door to accepting incremental changes in the law, which it has said is crucial in the fight against terrorism.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, strongly defended the administration's use of the terror-fighting law and warned that any effort to dismantle it would be tantamount to "unilateral disarmament" in fighting terrorism.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, testifying at the same hearing, argued for major new powers that would expand the bureau's authority to issue administrative subpoenas in terror cases that would give it access to a wide range of data without gaining court permission.

The hearing marked the beginning of what is expected to be a long and wrenching congressional review of how the Patriot Act has operated in practice.

In other words, these guys want to have even more secret powers to intrude in private lives. It is the secrecy of the law that has made it so difficult to criticize, actually, for we really don't know what the government has been up to:

Public opinion about the Patriot Act remains sharply divided, in part because much of the law and how it operates has remained shrouded in secrecy.

Even some congressional Republicans -- including Sen. Arlen Specter, the powerful chairman of the Judiciary Committee -- have expressed concern over how the law has operated and have indicated that revisions are needed.

What I would like to know is how, exactly, terrorism is defined by the administration, and who might be viewed as a terrorist. I'm worried that a lax definition allows the law to be used against anyone at all who disagrees with the administration, including those who are simply protesting the government's policies.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Cartoon of Merit

Echidne's Picture!

This is a cartoon drawn by a talented member of the Liberal Coalition, John J. McKay, from the blog archy. It's a picture of me or perhaps a picture of my innermost soul. If goddesses have such things.

Today's Action Alert

The Senate is hearing testimony today from the Attorny General concerning the Patriot Act. When passed, certain provisions of the Patriot Act were set to sunset unless reauthorized. in general, these are some of the more serious violations of civil liberties contained in the Patriot Act. The Attorney General is expected to ask the Senate to make these provisions permanent.

Contact your Senator and tell them that 9/11 DIDN'T change everything, including American's civil rights.

Thanks for taking today's action.


The latest of the foot-in-the-mouth disease sufferers is Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas. He doesn't like activist judges which means that he doesn't like lefty activist judges or judges who are not in fact activist but who decide against the wingnuts because that happens to be the law. Mr. Cornyn, himself a lawyer, is very angry at the U.S. judiciary. In a recent speech he said this:

Federal judges, who have lifetime appointments, should be held in check, he argued.

"It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions," he said. "No one, including those judges, including the judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, should be surprised if one of us stands up and objects."

And he also said this:

Cornyn continued: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. . . . And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence. Certainly without any justification, but a concern that I have."

There is a certain symmetry between the two statements, but one shouldn't draw too many conclusions from it. As Yglesias has pointed out, Cornyn wasn't threatening the judges, nope. He was just kindly warning them that if a certain behavior continues (like not finding for the wingnuts in all cases) then a certain consequence, sadly, might ensue (like getting killed by an outraged wingnut). Sad, yes, and Cornyn, himself, is most upset about this possibility, but what can you do? Add some mental shrugging of shoulders and tut-tutting here on Cornyn's behalf.

The best known recent cases of judges getting killed had nothing to do with political agendas, of course, but it behooves the right-wing to pretend that they did. The campaign for Taming All Activist Judges would benefit from a frightened judiciary, wouldn't it? The judges have grown far too big for their breeches, we all know that. For one thing, they are not adequately wingnutty.

Do you know what would be most interesting? It would be to study Cornyn's own legal decisions to see if he ever engaged in political activism. Not because if he had, one could then laugh at his inconsistencies, of course not, but simply to make sure that he has adequate protection in case someone else, someone totally unrelated, gets angry at him.

There Is No God

The proof is in the fact that David Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times and I'm but a penniless blogging goddess. His columns are not only full of lies and inaccuracies and made-up sociological trends which nobody else has ever observed but they reek of immense intellectual laziness. Isn't sloth one of the deadly sins?

Today's serving of Brooks-babble is unusually bizarre, though, almost interesting in its inanity. Brooks argues that Democrats are wrong in thinking that it's the Republican message machine and its fanatic efficiency which has brought them into power. He, of course, thinks that the Republicans are correct in their beliefs, but in case this doesn't quite go down with the morning cappuccinos of the Times-readers he also presents a theory so upside-down that it's almost fun:

Conservatives have not triumphed because they have built a disciplined and efficient message machine. Conservatives have thrived because they are split into feuding factions that squabble incessantly. As these factions have multiplied, more people have come to call themselves conservatives because they've found one faction to agree with.

Well, it is true that there are several types of Conservatives: wingnuts, wingnuts and wingnuts, for example. But Brooks really implies that the wingnuts argue with each other more than we do among ourselves, and that there are fewer types of us than them. Otherwise his argument has nothing to latch onto.

Anyone following U.S. politics knows that progressives and liberals are as herdable as a bunch of cats. Everybody and their uncle has a different theory about the best thing to do next, and all these theories are expressed with great conviction, usually at the same time. Think about it. We have the greens, the trade union people, the traditional Democrats, the human rights people, the feminists and so on. All these groups bicker incessantly.

But Brooks hasn't noticed any of this. Instead, he believes that the wingnuts spend their days having erudite debates about their favorite philosophers (Jesus?) and this is why they have figured out the natural moral order of the society so well (wingnuts on the top, everyone else below them in color order, women always a rung below the otherwise comparable men). Progressives and liberals, on the other hand, know nothing about any of this deep stuff because they don't read books of philosophy.

Sceptical about what I said here? Read this:

Liberals have not had a comparable public philosophy debate. A year ago I called the head of a prominent liberal think tank to ask him who his favorite philosopher was. If I'd asked about health care, he could have given me four hours of brilliant conversation, but on this subject he stumbled and said he'd call me back. He never did.

Liberals are less conscious of public philosophy because modern liberalism was formed in government, not away from it. In addition, liberal theorists are more influenced by post-modernism, multiculturalism, relativism, value pluralism and all the other influences that dissuade one from relying heavily on dead white guys.

As a result, liberals are good at talking about rights, but not as good at talking about a universal order.

Modern liberalism was formed in government?!!! Philosophers themselves have nothing to do with concepts such as relativism and value pluralism? Liberals (John Locke, John Stuart Mill, John Rawls) are not good at talking about a universal order?

Why didn't Brooks bother to google some of this stuff if he didn't know anything beforehand? And if he didn't know anything beforehand, how did he get to write a column in the New York Times? I honestly don't want to address this stuff which makes me wonder why I wrote about it in the first place. Probably in revenge for early morning indigestion Brooks gave me. Well, thank God he's not on our side.

An Opinion Survey

Nothing in the news gives me that internal "beep" which I need to write, not at this hour anyway. When you don't know what to say it's time to ask questions. People always like to answer questions! Everybody loves to talk about themselves. So, how many STDs have you had? Just kidding...

Here are some questions I have stolen from various places on the internet:

1. Do you like where you live? Why or why not?
2. Do you have a silly fear or phobia? Or can any fear or phobia be called silly?
3. How much of the reason for those patient paper gowns is to make sure that the patients feel powerless and humiliated?
4. How much chocolate in one day is too much chocolate in one day? (I sort of have a reason to ask this one...)
5. What do you like best about yourself? Be honest and boastful!
6. What is the one thing you'd absolutely want to have done with the rest of your life?
7. Say something nice about a wingnut.

Monday, April 04, 2005

About the Pope, With a Frown

John Paul II did quite a few good deeds during his earthly sojourn, and many have told us about them, with love, George Bush included. He spoke for peace and for the poor of this world. What also needs to be mentioned is his shadow side. We all have one, even the most saintly among us (the presence of the shadow side being what differentiates humans from angels), and John Paul II had quite a sizable one.

It was the policies of the church that he pushed for which made condoms unacceptable for Catholics in African AIDS-stricken countries. It is probably not possible to measure how many lives could have been saved by a more liberal Catholic church, but this does not mean those lives were not lost.

The pope's social conservatism may have made him close his eyes to the pederasty scandal in the American church, too. It's as if the church was more important for him than the people it was intended to serve here.

John Paul II was, if anything, consistent in his limited view of women (not equal to men) and their allowed roles (mothers and nuns) in this world and in his policies towards gays and lesbians (you must not exist). He showed very little mercy and love in these areas.

Thus, I agree with Frances Kissling in that the next pope could do better than the previous one:

We can only hope that the next pope will engage all Catholics in ways this pope did not. An extraordinary communicator, John Paul II was also a great polarizer. Through the choices he made in dinner companions, papal appointments, religious orders and lay associations, he exacerbated the divide. Women in the North were told that we were exaggerated or extreme feminists and that our desire for autonomy -- bodily, spiritual and intellectual -- was not shared by the good women of the South. First-world Catholic women who believed in radical equality between men and women in the church were demeaned and caricatured by other women whom he appointed to Vatican commissions.

Conservative Catholic intellectuals who had unprecedented access to him and the Curia dined on that access and publicly degraded mainline Christian churches and leaders as irrelevant while lauding conservative evangelical and fundamentalist Christians as true partners in faith. Bullies who spoke to and of those they disagreed with in the ugliest terms were welcomed in the Vatican. I can only cringe at my memory of Randall Terry -- who stood in front of abortion clinics in the United States screaming at women entering those clinics and justifying the murder of healthcare professionals who serve them -- meeting the pope.

How To Interview Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda has written a new book and we are going to be subjected to several opinion pieces on her. The Guardian already published on interview with her. What struck me is how difficult it is to write a story about someone like Fonda. What should she be made into? A star? A good actress? A radical lefty, the Hanoi Jane of various right-wing websites? A member of the wealthy elite? A nutcase? A feminazi? A fitness fanatic? A woman who has managed to age well? Ted Turner's ex-wife? Tom Hayden's ex-wife? Roger Vadim's ex-wife?

All of these must be squashed in and the whole thing must be done so that Fonda will end up looking ridiculous whatever she actually says:

I get up to leave. "I'll show you out a different way," she says. We walk through an atrium painted in pale pink, with huge silver doors leading out of her flat. "I designed it myself," she says. "It represents the womb. The doors are the labia, and this" - she points to the corridor - "is the birth canal."

I stare at her. Are you serious?

"Yes," she says. "I'm serious."

This has been done for so long that I really don't know what she is like. This is tiresome. Maybe I should read her book?

Whom Do You Believe, Thomas Sowell or Your Own Eyes and Ears?

I had to lie down and take a glass of calming nectar after reading in Media Matters for America that Thomas Sowell, a right-wing economist, has said this in a recent column:

People on the political left not only have their own view of the world, they have a view of the world which they insist on attributing to others, regardless of what those others actually say. A classic example is the "trickle down theory," which no one has ever advocated, but which the left insists on fighting against.

What happened? Did I go totally mad at some point? Did I actually assign university students economic articles on the trickle-down theory to read if it was so trivial that nobody had even recommended it? No wonder a minor Greek goddess took over my body; I must have been bonkers already. Or so Thomas Sowell would have us believe.

Thomas Sowell is an African-American wingnut economist. His books are mainly discourses on how minorities can pull themselves up by their Nike shoelaces. But he also appears to be an expert in long-term memory loss.

A Bill to Limit the Jurisdiction of Federal Courts in Certain Cases and Promote Federalism

And what is this weird thing? It's sponsored by Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and co-sponsored, among others, by Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, and it says:

Constitution Restoration Act of 2005 - Amends the Federal judicial code to prohibit the U.S. Supreme Court and the Federal district courts from exercising jurisdiction over any matter in which relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government or an officer or agent of such government concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.

Prohibits a court of the United States from relying upon any law, policy, or other action of a foreign state or international organization in interpreting and applying the Constitution, other than English constitutional and common law up to the time of adoption of the U.S. Constitution.

Provides that any Federal court decision relating to an issue removed from Federal jurisdiction by this Act is not binding precedent on State courts.

Provides that any Supreme Court justice or Federal court judge who exceeds the jurisdictional limitations of this Act shall be deemed to have committed an offense for which the justice or judge may be removed, and to have violated the standard of good behavior required of Article III judges by the Constitution.

Let me assure you that this act will not pass. There are insufficient wingnuts still for that sort of thing to happen. But note that the act would both make it illegal to learn anything from any other country's legal systems and, much, much more importantly, it would make the United States into a theocracy! Any decision of a lower court that is argued to be based on the Bible could not be appealed, by anyone. Reminds me of the shariah law.

If the "Constitution Restoration Act" (what a cynical title!) doesn't have any chance of passing, why I am writing about it? Because it is crucial to see what the wingnuts intend in the long-run, and to remember that each little step they take is on purpose. The proposed act reflects the United States they wish to build after the destruction of the current one is complete. Never forget that, never fall for the easy view that they are just a small vociferous minority which will go away if ignored or appeased. They will do neither of these, and this vociferous minority is in power, right now.

The proposed act is most likely unconstitutional because it violates the separation of state and church. Also, it denies the right of appeal in certain cases and it gives preferential treatment to those groups who believe in a personal god over those who do not (Buddhists and atheists, say). It will not pass, as I mentioned above, but the reason it is introduced is to please the religious wingnuts.

Meat-to-the-tigers sort of thing. The corporate Republicans do this all the time to the religious faction, thinking that it can be controlled by such feedings. But the tigers have long since escaped from their cages and are right now running the zoo.
Via this dailykos diary.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Tsunami and Women

We all know that far too many people died in the violent tsunami of last December. What may not be so well known is that the dead were predominantly women. A study by Oxfam International, done in villages in Indonesia, estimates that three times as many women as men were killed there. Some villages had only women die, and in one village the ratio of men to women is now ten to one.

Something similar happened in India where three women died for each man and also in Sri Lanka where most of the survivors in the camps are men.

Why this sex disparity? Were more men saved because of their greater average strength? Because they were better swimmers or could climb trees more quickly? Perhaps. But other effects were in play, too, including pure chance:

On the Indian coast many women were waiting for the fishermen to return with their catches, while in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka, the tsunami hit at the exact moment many of the women were taking baths in the sea.

Because it was a Sunday, most of the women in Aceh were at home with the children rather than at work.

Many of the men were either carrying out errands or in their boats out at sea where the waves were less ferocious.

Or are these examples of pure chance? Surely sex roles have an impact on who would be waiting on the beach for the fishing boats to return or who would be at home with the children. Sex roles and restrictions had an even more obvious impact on the excess death rate of Sri Lankan women:

The hardest part of Supini's story is the death of her mother. More than a month later, she still chokes through her tears as she recalls the way her 36-year-old mother disappeared.

"The water came with a huge force, moving like an angry monster across the sand and into the home. My mother helped my younger brother to tear of his shorts to swim away, but she didn't follow. She was just too modest to remove her clothes to escape," says Supini.

Modesty is highly valued in women in this area and inculcated in them from early childhood onwards. Tragically, the concept of modesty also demands that women are not taught how to swim.

Closely associated with modesty is the idea of proper female dress. In the affected areas of Sri Lanka this means traditional saris: a long piece of cloth wrapped around the body, and long hair for women. Both of these caused tsunami deaths:

Fernando, who has worked for years with rural women, says that most of the village women who drowned in the huge wave were wearing traditional saris that restricted them from running and also weighed them down when they became water logged after the sea swept into their homes.
Volunteers cleaning the areas also report several deaths in which women appeared to have been pinned by the long hair to broken rubble.

Isn't it odd how all these little facts, trivial in themselves, somehow add up to something huge and horrible?

That the traditional roles for women would make them less able to fight for their lives is not unexpected. Anything that encourages passivity, weakness and modesty will not help when a tsunami strikes. Add this to the lesser average strength of women and the fact that many mothers were carrying small children which made running or swimming almost impossible and it is easy to see why a seemingly neutral natural catastrophy would reap many more female victims.

What are the consequences from this to the affected areas? The Oxfam International study in Indonesia found:

...that even the women who survived suffered from the tsunami, many pushed into early marriages because of the relatively few women left.


Those in the emergency shelter told of physical and verbal harassment from the men and fear of sexual abuse.

Becky Buell, from Oxfam, said: "The tsunami has dealt a crushing blow to women and men across the region. In some villages it now appears that up to 80% of those killed were women.

"This disproportionate impact will lead to problems for years to come unless everyone working on the aid effort addresses the issue now.

"We are already hearing about rapes, harassment and forced early marriages. We all need to wake up to this issue and ensure the protection, inclusion and empowerment of the women that have survived."

Then there is the problem of taking care of the surviving children. In some of the tsunami-stricken areas the fathers are not trained in how to care for their children, and there will not be enough women left to help all of them.
This post was inspired by one by Linnet.

A P**e-Free Space

This post is completely p**e-free, nothing about his death or the selection of a new one or how wonderful he was or was not. Instead of the p**e, there will just be a blessed silence. Do whatever you wish with it.

As long as you don't mention the word p**e.