Saturday, April 29, 2006

Saturday Dog Blogging

This is Fang, one of my earlier dogs. She was hell on wheels. She once attacked a Doberman Pincher (in the defense of a snake goddess) and she won.

We Are Not Amused

Rasmussen Reports says so:

Saturday April 29, 2006--Public approval of President George W. Bush continues to decline. Today, for the third time in two weeks, the President's Job Approval Rating has fallen to the lowest level ever measured by Rasmussen Reports.

Just 37% of Americans now give the President their Approval, only 16% Strongly Approve. Even among Republicans, approval has tumbled and is currently measured at 66%. For most of his first term, Bush earned Approval Ratings in the high 80s from Republicans.

At the other end of the spectrum, 62% Disapprove including 45% who Strongly Disapprove. Those figures are also the bleakest for President Bush ever recorded by Rasmussen Reports.

Sixteen percent strongly approve of George! We are down to those who base their diet on the KoolAid.

I was reading Gore Vidal the other night, and he pointed out how unlikely the Founders thought that democracy would prevail in America. Some of them predicted a fairly rapid decline into dictatorship. Would two hundred years be a "rapid decline"? For our disapproval of the president makes no real difference in anything, and the votes are now counted by methods which are secret because of private property rights, and the goddess of justice has grown eyes in the back of her head, the side where the bribes are given, so that the blindfold no longer matters at all. And then there's "America's Idol" and gas prices and not much else. Democracy is so dependent on people taking notice and being active and all that sort of boring crap.

Outsourcing Blogging and Other Saturday Private Thoughts

I bought new jeans yesterday and lay down in the early evening, wondering if they were tight enough. Clearly, they are not, as I woke up this afternoon, still wearing them. Blogger fatigue. That's the new black.

If I outsourced this blog to India or some other country with similar cost of living, it would be possible to live on the donations, which would mean less fatigue. And whoever was doing the blogging would be interesting in having a different viewpoint. Of course, once the Big Telecommunication Boys have their will on us nobody can read blogs like mine anyway. The futility of it all. There is a beauty in that.

Henrietta the Hound is doing much better. She no longer makes a big nest of all the cushions on the guest bed (the only one she is allowed on), in order to stay there ALL THE TIME. She even likes going out now, and begging for food and being difficult. I'm so happy to see that. Her grief over Hank's death is subsiding a little, and she may have taught us all the way to cope with grief: make a nest and stay there for a while. My excess sleeping may be the human equivalent of that.

Today Henrietta got the dregs of some curry I bought in a large plastic container. She then walked around holding the container nonchalantly at the very edge of her mouth. I've never seen any other dog carry things the way Henrietta does. If you give her a dog biscuit, she carries it as if it is a cigar, so that the biscuit leads when she walks. If you give her something heavy, she carries it by the smallest shred in one corner of her mouth. I'm not sure what all this conveys but it's funny to watch. Every pet, of whatever breed, is also an individual, and they are all fun to meet. The individual pets, I mean.

In the political landscape, spring doesn't mean that bumblebees come alive inside the house and must be helped out into the wilderness, like in the Snakepit Inc.. Instead, the corrupt and the greedy seem to come alive, are spotted, and must be helped into courts. And then they get pardoned and go out in the wilderness, where they most likely will host wingnut talk shows. Not only Rush but all the other caught Republican conmen, I predict. One day in the future you may be able to hear Karl Rove's thoughts on radio!

That's today's thoughts, pretty much, given that I just woke up. I'm going to look for some garden pictures or dog pictures to post now.

Friday, April 28, 2006

And Even More Wingnut Silliness/Values

Limbaugh has surrendered. Not to love, sadly. Via Atrios, who has more.

And Another Solution to the High Gas Prices

Is to pray:

A U.S. Christian group has grown tired of escalating gasoline prices and is set to stage a national prayer rally to lower the numbers at the pumps.

Various Christian clergy from around the country will convene around a Washington, D.C., gas station Thursday at noon to pray. For those who can't attend, a live Internet site and toll-free prayer line have been established.

In a release, the Pray Live group said many people are "overlooking the power of prayer when it comes to resolving this energy crisis."

Could the Pray Live group add a few small prayers for world piece and such, hmh?

My Liberal Values

I promised one of my readers a serious article on what liberals stand for. This reader doesn't like me being a reactionary by just reacting to the latest outrage. An alternative must be presented, and no, defending the last shreds of the existing civilizations against the onslaughts of wingnut hordes isn't an acceptable explanation of what liberals stand for.

Sadly, I'm unable to stay serious today, so the serious post will be delayed a little. Instead, I will present to you:


Brawny Bob For Christ and Granola!

The liberal incarnation of the godly he-man from the wingnut science fiction reality!

The softer side of Echidne of the snakes!

Q: So what do you liberals and lefties stand for? Other than free limousine services for all welfare recipients and dildoes in every bedroom?

Bob: Me hairy! Me have balls! Me a real man! Me same like Christ! Me love Granola! Munch, munch. Me kick ass! Me love everybody! Me hate wingnuts!

Q: Are you saying that the Democratic Party is not the party of effeminate pussy-lickers?

Bob: Me love pussy! Me love cock! Me love hitting wingnuts! Smash, smash. Hear me hit!

Q: So what you are saying is that your liberal values combine loving and strength? That Granola is not just for effeminate wussies? That a real man could be a Democrat? Now, this is a new plan, a new dawn for the country.

Bob: Me speak good, yes? Like Bush. Me a man of the people. Good to have beer with. Now watch me lick me eyebrows.

A Little Economics

Let's all rejoice for the good fortune of Chevron:

Chevron Corp.'s first-quarter profit soared 49 percent to $4 billion, joining the procession of U.S. oil companies to report colossal earnings as lawmakers consider ways to pacify motorists agitated about rising gas prices.

The San Ramon, Calif.-based company's net income, reported Friday, translated into $1.80 per share, two cents above the average estimate among analysts polled by Thomson Financial. It compared to a profit of $2.7 billion, or $1.28 per share, in the same January-March period last year.

Revenue totaled $54.6 billion, a 31 percent increase from $41.6 billion last year.

If not for continuing production problems caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last summer, Chevron said it would have made an additional $300 million - an amount that would have generated the highest quarterly profit in the company's 127-year history.

As it was, the performance marked the fourth consecutive quarter that Chevron has earned at least $3.6 billion as the company continued to capitalize on oil prices that have climbed above $70 per barrel since the first quarter ended.

Now these are the people of the Bush tribe, the guys whose back he has. Remember that the oil companies got special tax breaks and that quite recently these special tax breaks were continued?

You don't actually need a PhD in economics (though it helps) to smell something very wrong in a game which gives Chevron both its best profits ever and further tax breaks because times are hard, especially when times are not hard. For firms like Chevron anyway. The only negative they face is all those unhappy people paying them their record profits.

Then to the economics part. Profit is defined as Revenue Minus Costs. Revenue is all the money Chevron takes in from the people it sells its products to and Costs consist of all the expenses it has, roughly. Now firms like Chevron argue that their costs have gone up with the difficulty of getting hold of oil. Think of the unrest in Iraq and in Nigeria and so on. All this means, Chevron tells us, that the costs have gone up through the roof.

Poor Chevron. The only thing it can do to keep its profit from going negative is...what? Yes, it must raise the prices to increase Revenue, though raising prices is always hairy because when prices rise people want to buy less and Revenue = Price x Quantity Sold. But luckily for Chevron, gasoline use tends to show inelasticity in demand, which means that if Chevron raises the price term the quantity sold term doesn't go down enough to lower the whole product which makes Revenue. Hence, raising prices can save Chevron from bankruptcy.

Here's the problem. If we were watching real problems with the costs going up, Chevron shouldn't be recording incredibly high profits. It should be doing poorly. That it's not doing poorly means that the high prices we are seeing are not a consequence of high costs of oil, except in the sense that the oil costs gave Chevron the chance to really take advantage of the market.

Now there was clearly no reason to present that ecobabble to explain something that is quite obvious. But I thought that it might be interesting to show how it's done. I'm available for similar lessons on the major political shows. Shallowness and learnedness guaranteed.

Teach Your Children Well

I found this Amazon book through the Eschaton comments threads. The plot summary of Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!:

Book Description
This full-color illustrated book is a fun way for parents to teach young children the valuable lessons of conservatism. Written in simple text, readers can follow along with Tommy and Lou as they open a lemonade stand to earn money for a swing set. But when liberals start demanding that Tommy and Lou pay half their money in taxes, take down their picture of Jesus, and serve broccoli with every glass of lemonade, the young brothers experience the downside to living in Liberaland.

Neat. Now we can tell small wingnut children that liberals are evil people. That will guarantee a well-functioning and peaceful society one day. It's probably not even necessary to have political debates in that future scenario if enough wingnut parents obey. Their children will just gun all liberals down.

Friday Fun

Digby posted about this wingnut t-shirt humor some days ago. You can click on the image to make it bigger and hence more readable.

What's fun for wingnuts is to smack liberals around. But the Washington Post will not have a front page article on the wingnut anger. Nope, even though they just ran one on the liberal anger. The reason is that we lefties are expected to be calm and polite, whereas the conservatives are expected to be raving lunatics. Really. That's why they are more trusted on the question of national defense.

Note the term "bitchslap" in the shirt. This has gotten mileage on both sides of the blogosphere, as has the idea of calling certain types of politicans "bitches". Now, bitches are female dogs, and apparently something to despise. But the deeper point is that we have contempt towards "someone's bitches": women who are sexually subjugated. Which is very weird as this kind of a woman should be seen as the "good woman" in the wingnut world of macho gun-toting leader men.

I don't like the term "bitchslap", but I'm waging an unwinnable campaign here. At least it's applied to people of both sexes now.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Emmett Till

It's happening again, as reported in this link. Warning: Not easy to read.


I'm guest blogging on American Street today. You might be interested in this post about your possible future inability to read sites like this one.

Then something I've been thinking about a lot. Should I focus my posts just on feminism? Currently I drift all over the political landscape of topics and sometimes off it, too. This is a topic I've asked about before, and if I recall correctly, the idea of doing a mixed bag of posting won. But times might be a-changing.

I still plan to do book reviews, but I haven't had enough time to read many new books recently, so the next one will be on Sheri Tepper's science fiction this weekend. Nobody is paying me for the reviews, by the way, but I'm always open for bribes. Just kidding, though you can press the donations button if you feel especially flush with money.

Is there anything I forgot? If you have questions of technical etc. nature, put them into the comments threads.

A Look At A Different Social Power Structure

I made up this post while walking Henrietta the Hound in the woods. For some reason the story interested me, and I couldn't get to the basic reason right away. Take this beginning quote from one of the many articles discussing the Hasidic succession crisis:

Hasidic king was buried Monday night, even as two of his sons fought in secular and religious courts to claim his throne.

Satmar Grand Rebbe Moses Teitelbaum, the 91-year-old leader of the world's largest and
most powerful ultra-orthodox Hasidic sect, had been dead only three hours when thousands of Hasidim -- bearded and wearing black felt hats -- jammed into the main synagogue in Brooklyn for his funeral.

The scene was from another age -- 17th-century Eastern Europe, to be precise. Teitelbaum's sons loosened high-pitched wails and bowed again and again in prayer toward his wooden coffin. Male mourners, pressed so tightly together that breathing was difficult, surged across the floor, pushing, shoving, elbowing to get closer to the casket.

Upstairs, Satmar women watched, unseen, from behind wooden screens.

Outside the synagogue, loudspeakers pumped out the sons' eulogies and prayers into the night air, their cries echoing off the tenement walls of the Williamsburg neighborhood. More than 20,000 Satmar followers packed the streets, sat shoulder-to-shoulder on brownstone stoops, climbed trees or watched from rooftops and balconies.

There is the sex segregation to make me take notice, of course, and the suggestion of something wild, something emotional, something different than I expect from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect. Violence simmering under the funereal grief.

The reason for that violence is explained here:

The Satmar community is the fastest-growing ultra-orthodox sect in the world, controlling a $1 billion real estate and social services enterprise. It claims more than 100,000 members -- in Brooklyn; Montreal; Antwerp, Belgium; and Jerusalem. An additional 19,000 live in Kiryas Joel, an entirely Hasidic town 25 miles north of New York City.

But no one has devised a clear process for picking a new grand rebbe -- succession wars and angry splits are common among Hasidic sects. In theory, the grand rebbe anoints a successor, a rabbinical court agrees, and the choice meets with approval.

In the case of the Satmar, Teitelbaum's eldest son, Aaron -- who is chief rabbi in Kiryas Joel -- expected to succeed his father. But in his later years, Moses Teitelbaum came to see Aaron as headstrong and, perhaps, not capable of leading the entire sect.

So the father appointed a younger son, Zalmen, to run the Williamsburg congregation, splitting his empire.

Aaron never fully accepted the decision. Save for a few brief words of commiseration Monday evening, the middle-aged brothers have not spoken to each other in more than seven years, say advisers to the two men. Most Satmar Hasidim have lined up behind one brother or the other -- the sides are known as the "Zalis" and "Aaronis" -- and the past decade has been punctuated by fistfights, broken legs and arms, torched cars and homes.

Ignore the money stuff. It's a red herring in what I plan to say about the story. What is crucial here is to note that the grand rabbi was truly the ruler of the sect, that whatever he said was accepted as the ruling and that his reign was quite dictatorial. Patriarchy. True patriarchy shown in action.

Reflect on it a little. We have a social power structure where one old man decides everything, and people go along with this power structure, because it makes life easy for anyone who doesn't want to make decisions and keeps everything clear and simple.

Then the grand rebbe violates the basic rule of the patriarchy by rejecting the first-born son as his heir and favors a younger son instead! What to do???? Here is the absolute authority making a decision that clashes with the way absolute authority is supposed to be administered. Whose side are you going to take here??? Are you going to say that the utmost authority, based on maleness and age, is correct, and that therefore a younger son can be favored over an older one? Or are you going to decide that it's the older son of the great patriarch who is supposed to inherit the earth, whatever the patriarch himself happened to say?

Interesting, isn't it? Maybe not to anyone else, but I find it fascinating. It's really a living lesson about the fragility of patriarchy and of any system that is based on total accumulation of power and simple rules on how it is to be passed on. The sect has no procedure for solving this debate because such procedures would require democracy of some kind. Hence the violence. The violence is also a sign about the severity of the breakdown this quarrel represents. The wealth associated with all this is not the ultimate reason for the violence, as the article appears to suggest. The ultimate reason is the fundamental threat to the whole social power structure caused by Rabbi Teitelbaum's decision. He really put his followers into an impossible bind.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Small Group of Committed Citizens

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
--Margaret Mead

Fascinating to see this famous quote in action:

Public Citizen has released a report [...] detailing how "18 families worth a total of $185.5 billion have financed and coordinated a 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax, a move that would collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion."

I note that the Anne Cox Chambers daughter of the 1920 Democratic Presidential nominee, James Cox and owner of the Atlanta Journal Constitution is part of this cabal along with the Waltons (WalMart), the owners of the Seattle Times, the Nordstroms (owners of the department store), Ernest and Joseph Gallo (E & J Gallo Winery), the owners of Campbell Soup Co., The Mars family (candy) and Kock Industries to name a few of the miscreants.

If eighteen families can change the "death tax" in the United States, what could we all do if we worked together? Heh. Money is the great leveler, isn't it? (Now that sentence should be in the Collected Quotes of Snake Goddesses one day.)

It's a bit of a disgrace, the whole thing (if true). That a handful of people can have this much impact is a disgrace, but not as big a one as the fact we all allowed this travesty to go through, because it's wrong to tax "death", even of billionaires. And even if the resulting tax revenue loss means that either we have to cut services to the poor or that the little guys and gals must cough up a bigger chunk of tax payments. That's how kind and egalitarian we are. To those with money, in any case.

Defining Masculinity and Femininity

The post below on our dear deranged friend Doug Giles got me thinking about the way we define masculinity and femininity. These are not symmetrical concepts. Femininity is something women have almost by default, by the lack of testicles and penis apparent from birth. There is no struggle for most girls to "win" femininity, and although women who are viewed as very masculine may suffer from ridicule and may even face societal discrimination, mostly being a woman is no big deal in the sense of a quality that needs to be maintained. You are what you are sort of thing.

I'm not saying that there aren't gradations of femininity, but I very much doubt that the average woman worries about her feminine quotient. My theory is that this is because being a woman is not that great a thing in most places on this earth, and in general we don't struggle to gain the bottom of the ladder. If anything, we might even encourage girls who are seen as "tomboys", at least in the West, because they imitate those with more power.

It's with some hesitancy that I wrote the previous paragraph, because things aren't quite that straightforward and exceptions can always be found. But mostly the real struggles in these societal definitions are about how to define masculinity. Just think of what happens to boys who want to wear a dress in this country, or what happens to boys who want to play with dolls. Tomboys are not ostracized the way "sissy-boys" are, and the reason is that being a woman is less desirable than being a man, as a cultural value, and therefore a boy acting like a girl is bringing down shame on his whole family. A tomboy in a traditional society may be viewed at most with some pity as the adults know that she can't go on being a tomboy for ever. Reality will take her by the neck at puberty and might put her into a burqa or a training bra, and very few tomboys survive this stage. In other words, femininity is the default setting.

That may be why masculinity appears so brittle, so vulnerable to attacks from feminists, so hard to earn. It's not something you just have, not for wingnuts, at least. It's something that must be defined, over and over again, and it's something that must be rehearsed and defended. Because it's a step up? Because it really is this fragile? Or because masculinity is really the absence of femininity, and the horrible pink goo keeps sucking boys down the ladder?

One of the trickiest aspects of the wingnutty flavor of masculinity, the one that I most often read about, is that it's defined as a relationship to animals, the nature and women and even children. It's not a quality of the person, and therefore all those other actors seem to have the power to demolish masculinity by just refusing to act in the way the relationship-based masculinity requires.

Think about it a little. People like Giles define manliness by things that men do to others. A man is someone who leads, he tells us. But for anyone to lead, others must follow, and if all men are to be leaders the only ones who can be followers are women. So this definition of masculinity also defines femininity: women are the ones who obey. Or consider the idea that a man is the one who protects. Once again, for the definition to really work women must remain unable to defend themselves.

We are in a push-me-pull-you jam here. Any definition of masculinity, this important, powerful and oh-so-fragile concept, also defines femininity as the absence of masculinity. And from this follows all that patriarchal shit and women's oppression. An awful bind, isn't it? What looks like equality of the sexes to me looks like a total destruction of manliness to someone like Doug Giles. His well-being demands my suffering.

The solution is fairly obvious: Define masculinity in a way which doesn't tie it to the absence of all that yucky girl stuff. Accept that men and women are not the exact opposites of each other but more like two slightly different models of a car. Learn to find your self-esteem in something more realistic than in what is between your legs. Then discussions of masculinity and femininity could actually be interesting.

Doug Giles

Appears to be a wingnut radio talk show host. He also writes for the Townhall. And the way he writes! Here is his review of the newest Independent Women's Forum gals' little piece on how feminism has been really awful women. Carrie Lukas is the penwoman Giles adores here:

In an April 22 column touting a new book by Carrie Lukas -- director of policy for the conservative Independent Women's Forum -- conservative radio host and columnist Doug Giles slurred feminists as "misogynists with vaginas" and praised "lassies" who "[d]on't want their vagina turned into a sexual turnstile."

Giles wrote that in Lukas's upcoming book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism (Regnery Publishing, May 2006), Lukas "shreds the lies which the female chauvinist pigs (FCP) have sold our nation's fair ladies" and "shows the women who would be women the true identity of postmodern day feminists: misogynists with vaginas ... womyn who not only hate men, but women also."


Another cool thing about The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism is that it was a young, accomplished woman, who also happens to be a happy wife and mother, who penned this work of non-fiction. These are not the crayon scribblings of some repressed, backwoods, barefoot, unenlightened Ellie Mae Clampett, but rather a girl who got her bachelor's at Princeton, her Masters at Harvard and did it without drinking the lesbians' -- I mean the feminists' -- Kool Aid.

This book is going to liberate ladies to be ladies; and contrary to the propaganda belched forth via our universities and MSM, there are a whole lot of lassies who:

1. Like being a woman, in a traditional sense. *I'll take a Katharine McPhee over a Hillary any day.


5. Look to their husband's to provide rather than looking to the feminists' sugar daddy, Uncle Sam.

Me a lassie? Hmmmmmmmm. My vagina a turnstyle? When did feminism require that? Should I hand in my membership card?

So I looked up more good advice Doug gives us misogynists with vaginas. He has a series of posts on how to bring up boys which feminists will hate. This is supposed to be a good idea, let me hasten to point out, because we feminists hate boys and men and also womanly women. Most interestingly, Doug has two daughters and no sons, so his advice is based on lets-pretend.

The series begins most promisingly: with the Creation story from the Bible:

Yeah, mom and dad, if . . . if . . . you dare to raise your boy as a classic boy in this castrated epoch, then you've got a task that's more difficult than getting a drunk Ted Kennedy to hit the urinal at Chili's.

Get it right, mom and dad—you are rowing against the flotsam and jetsam of Sally River. I hope you have a sturdy ideological paddle and some serious forearms, because postmodernism is determined to keep your boy and his testosterone at bay. Yes, they will attempt at every turn to either drill it or drug it out of him.

Parent, if you're groping for a creedal oar to help you stem the increasingly stem-less effete environment, I've got a novel idea: Howzabout going back to the Bible, in particular the book of Genesis, and see what God the Father created His initial kid to be. Check this out.


Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind"; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

Born to be Wild.

First off, parents, please note that the cradle God created for His firstborn was rough country—a thorny, critter-laden and butt-kicking badland. God wanted His boy brought up in undomesticated surroundings. The feral fashioned something in God's first boy, Adam, that Xbox, the mall and cell phones just couldn't provide to the charge under His tutelage.

Yeah, God's earthy 2IC was directly connected to the Spirit of the Wild. Adam lived in primitive partnership with untamed beasts, birds, big lizards and monster sharks. This is the way it was. And God said, "It is good!" Imagine that: good being equated to having no anti-bacterial gel, no bike helmets, no Trans Fatty acids, no poodles, no motorized scooters, no concrete and no Will and Grace. I know this doesn't sound like "paradise" for postmodern pantywaists that are immoral, lazy, stupid and fat, but it was God's—and His primitive son's—idea of "Yippee Land."

I get it. God created Adam when it was really rough and wild and tough. That's what makes boys different from girls. Because girls were not created when it was really rough and wild and tough. They were created in the pink frilly stage, once Adam had tamed and subdued every other thing and needed something more to work on.

Giles goes on about the Bible a lot. The Bible is a Wilderness Guide for him and also a book that can be read to find out ways make boys more masculine. More wild, I meant. Boys are wild and girls are domesticated. How did that happen?

Giles answers that question in the next column:

The day has come when you, as a parent, are going to have to be defiant for your son's masculine rights and upbringing. The man haters have an ideological agenda and some prescription med's ready to rid your boy of all his distinct behavioral traits—and it's your job, mom and dad, to make certain these jack asses don't lay their gloves on him. Pink Floyd's "Hey, teacher, leave these kids alone" line from "Another Brick in The Wall" takes on a whole new meaning in this new millennium as far as sons are concerned.

One great source for rebellious inspiration comes from the Bible. The scripture is a great font for prissy, culture-defying fodder. In the scripture you see the men being men, and the demons being scared. You don't have to wade very far through the holy text before God starts laying down His blueprint for the boys. You find God's plan in book one, chapter one.


Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

What does God want His kid with the gonads to be? Well, here are six of the characteristics: a kid who is comfortable in the wild, who's ready to rule, is a savvy steward, is a dragon slayer, pursues wisdom and reflects the image of God. Having covered the necessity of the wild in your kids' upbringing in last week's column, let's check out God's desire to make him a conqueror.

Born to Rule/Take Dominion.

God's initial earth boy was born to dominate creation and to exercise authority over the planet. God designed His first terrestrial son to be a leader, to take charge, to exert influence. Yaweh didn't construct Adam to be a passive clod, some indolent handout addict who abnegates his responsibility to other people or institutes; but rather, Adam was to be a bold and imaginative chief. This is the very thing the misandrists hate in men and are trying desperately to curb in your kid, namely, this can-do spirit.

Ok. I get it now. Boys are wild because they are born to rule and to take dominion, and any attempt to fight this is being a misogynist with a vagina. Probably because if ALL boys are born to rule and to take dominion, what is there left to rule over or dominate? Yes, that's what the fair lassies were created for! How stupid of me. I never before realized that feminists are spoiling all the fun Giles had pretending that he lived all alone in the wilderness while ruling everything he saw from some high perch.

I'm sure you get the idea of this series of columns by now. It goes on in the same manner. The goal is to make little can-do kings with can-kill guns out of all boys but also to make them clean their rooms and read books, and all that is a lot easier if the "fair lassies" like being subjugated a lot. The latter can be made much easier if those who advocate gender equality can be labeled as misogynists-with-vaginas.

Though Giles is refreshingly horrible in his anger and in his naive view of the Bible. There's hardly any pretense in his opinion pieces, and what little there was I have removed above for your benefit. But does this guy have some psychological problems! He hates me, for example, even though he has never laid eyes on my divine features (though of course he'd probably try to hex me or something, being the manly Christian he is, worshipping his manly guy god), and he makes all sorts of silly assumptions about what feminists do.

Living such a dualistic life must be pure agony, though. If masculinity is so brittle that it will not survive anything less than a godly bootcamp-in-the-wilderness and the assurance that every single man is entitled to be a dragon-slayer and a king, well, we indeed are in deep shit. But that shit is not something that feminists should be blamed for.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Deep Thought for the Day

Muscles are affected by how we use them, aren't they? Those who run a lot get more muscular legs, and ballet dancers look very different from the rest of us because they dance so much. So what is the effect of speaking different languages on our tongues? Take the rrrolling triple-r sound. English speakers don't use it at all, but I find it very good exercize for the tongue. Does this mean that I have a more flexible tongue?

This is what happens when I try to write lots of very serious posts.

Retrieved From The Memory Hole

By the blogger of Perrspectives:

But if Bush is being punished for high energy costs, he has only himself to blame. This May 7, 2001 response by then press secretary Ari Fleischer captures the malign neglect that is the Bush energy policy:

Q: Is one of the problems with this, and the entire energy field, American lifestyles? Does the President believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the President believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?

MR. FLEISCHER: That's a big no. The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one. And we have a bounty of resources in this country. What we need to do is make certain that we're able to get those resources in an efficient way, in a way that also emphasizes protecting the environment and conservation, into the hands of consumers so they can make the choices that they want to make as they live their lives day to day.

It's an excellent example of wingnut polibabble. Note that Ari Fleischer's answer contains not a single verifiable proposal or fact, just a lot of feel-good-and-orgasm words. Of course such words don't keep reality at bay.

The Steel-Toed Boots Of Freedom

Some marching along are not in Iraq voluntarily:

The top U.S. commander in Iraq has ordered sweeping changes for privatized military support operations after confirming violations of human-trafficking laws and other abuses by contractors involving possibly thousands of foreign workers on American bases, according to records obtained by the Tribune.

Gen. George Casey ordered that contractors be required by May 1 to return passports that have been illegally confiscated from laborers on U.S. bases after determining that such practices violated U.S. laws against trafficking for forced or coerced labor. Human brokers and subcontractors from South Asia to the Middle East have worked together to import thousands of laborers into Iraq from impoverished countries.

Two memos obtained by the Tribune indicate that Casey's office concluded that the practice of confiscating passports from such workers was both widespread on American bases and in violation of the U.S. trafficking laws.


Although other firms also have contracts supporting the military in Iraq, the U.S. has outsourced vital support operations to Halliburton subsidiary KBR at an unprecedented scale, at a cost to the U.S. of more than $12 billion as of late last year.

KBR, in turn, has outsourced much of that work to more than 200 subcontractors, many of them based in Middle Eastern nations condemned by the U.S. for failing to stem human trafficking into their own borders or for perpetrating other human rights abuses against foreign workers.

KBR's subcontractors employ an army of workers to dish out food, wash clothes, clean latrines and carry out virtually every other menial task. About 35,000 of the 48,000 people working under the privatization contract last year were "Third Country Nationals," who are non-Americans imported from outside Iraq, KBR has said.

"Pipeline to Peril," which was based on reporting in the U.S., Jordan, Iraq, Nepal and Saudi Arabia, described how some subcontractors and a chain of human brokers allegedly engaged in the same kinds of abuses routinely condemned by the State Department as human trafficking.

The newspaper retraced the journey of 12 men recruited in 2004 from rural villages in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal and documented a trail of deceit, fraud and negligence stretching into Jordan and Iraq. Most of the men had contracts filed with their government falsely promising them positions at a five-star hotel in Amman, yet all 12 were sent into Iraq in August 2004. They were ultimately kidnapped from an unprotected caravan traveling along what was then one of the most dangerous roadways in the world: the Amman-to-Baghdad highway.

All 12 men were subsequently executed by militants in likely the single worst massacre of foreign workers in Iraq since the American-led invasion more than three years ago.

Read the whole article. My quote from it doesn't do justice to the buck-passing and apathy and blaming someone else that is discussed in the piece.

I didn't post about this just to make the rest of your day unhappy. There is another equally valid point, and that is the problems in unregulated markets. Markets are not a god. Markets have no morals. If no laws forbid a market in, say, human slaves, such a market will be created. Halliburton is not a good substitute for a government. And so on.

The "No Comment" Files

Concerning the Pope's visit to Poland:

Poland's TVP public broadcaster is to ban television adverts containing erotic and violent scenes during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the country next month, officials said.

"Programmes of masses will obviously not be accompanied by publicity," Zbigniew Badziak, the TVP official responsible for publicity, told AFP.

"For other programmes linked to the pope's visit, we will eliminate all advertisements that could hurt religious feelings, particularly those containing violent or erotic scenes."

Badziak also said TVP would avoid transmitting adverts for products such as beer and intimate hygiene items during the pope's visit.

Bolds mine.

Because the Pope doesn't menstruate? Yes, sigh, I said there would be no comment.

Monday, April 24, 2006

And Even More Flanagan

Should you not have had enough for lifelong immunity, you can watch her go on about her book in an interview with Colbert (via BitchPhd).

Imagine a black person doing an equivalent interview on how blacks had it so much better in the past. I bet you can't imagine it, and not only because patriarchy wasn't anywhere near as bad as slavery, at least for some women. It's also because there's apparently something silly in the idea of women's liberation. Very lucrative field, the feminist-bashing one.

And don't miss the bit where Flanagan tells us how she originally planned to call her book's subtitle something about feminists destroying a generation. We feminists are like giant termites, gnawing away, gnawing away, and before you know it: WHOOPS! The Western Civilization collapsed. Must go sharpen teeth.

More Blog Envy

This time not from me. Susie Madrak writes about the mainstream media's envy of blogs:

While waiting for my clothes to dry, I did something I do much less often these days: Read the Sunday Inquirer - on paper. The front page of the Currents section (the former News & Views, I think) is themed "Can we live without newspapers?" and includes the piece Jeff Jarvis did on the norgs conference, something from Hugh Hewitt and from Rick Stengel, CEO of the National Constitution Center.

Inside was this snippy little piece from staffer right-wing hack Jonathan Last.

If I were his editor, I would have made him rewrite it. (But then, I always was conscientious that way.)

But the biggest evil of blogs is that first flaw, blogging's original sin: the discounting of news-gathering in favor of news analysis. Bloggers are forever telling us how easy journalism is, yet very few of them have ever really practiced it. Sure, they may have written opinion pieces that compare favorably to the work of Molly Ivins or Ann Coulter, but opinion writing is a tiny - and let's be honest, inconsequential - corner of the journalism world. Real journalism - the practice of adding to the store of public knowledge by reporting news - is a difficult, thankless, and often unpleasant task. Bloggers want no part of it. Everyone wants E.J. Dionne's job; no one wants to be Michael Dobbs.

There is really no excuse for this kind of "straw man" silliness, and part of the problem is that Last makes no distinction whatsoever between the left and right blogosphere. This is akin to confusing professional wrestling with the Olympic event.

Susie is a wonderful writer, isn't she? That's why it's quite funny when she discusses the second alleged problem with the blogs: lack of quality writing:

Plus, it's such lazy, half-assed writing. (Maybe his laundramat has wifi, too. Maybe he had one eye out for an open dryer as he wrote this extended pout.) "Bloggers are forever telling us how easy journalism is"? Which bloggers, Mr. Last? How many? When? Can you find any on the left side of the top-ranked blogsphere who say journalism is easy? (I know I've pointed out how a story should be done on many occasions - but then again, I'm an award-winning journalist with 20 years' experience.)

Another worry is that, as a medium, the blog does not value well-crafted writing. Except for Mark Steyn and James Lileks, it's hard to pick out even three beautiful writers from the millions of bloggers.

And here's where we figure it out. Mark Steyn? James Lileks? (Yes, that James Lileks.)

Don't get out and around the liberal blogosphere too often, do you, Jonathan? (Which bolsters my perpetual argument about the sheer laziness of reporters. It's been a few years since conservative blogs truly dominated the landscape, and yet some journalists are still referring to the same old bookmarks. See, once you're in their Rolodex, virtual or otherwise, that's it.)

Heh. But I actually understand why many in the traditional media might feel a teeny bit peeved about the blogs. Wouldn't you if you had gone to school for years first and then written for several more years on small-town happenings at a minimum salary, in order to finally reach your dream job and for what? To find the audience drift away to read untrained and opinionated amateurs who don't even bother to write properly? It must be tough.

Though not as tough as Last makes it seem. Blogs are not in the business of reporting news. Most are intimately dependent on someone else doing that reporting well so that there is good evidence for whatever argument the blogger engages in. The only aspect of traditional journalism that blogs really threaten are opinion columns. Perhaps that is the real thorn in the side of these journalists. I've read that writing opinion columns used to be the plummy job at the end of the line. Now every Dick, Harry and Echidne is doing what was supposed to be the crowning glory of a journalist's career. And they are doing it for free! You know, we must be a little crazy.

But even in this subfield the official opinion columnists are needed, the ones who are paid for writing. Whom could I tear to pieces here if David Brooks wasn't a paid hack for the New York Times? And would there be any joy in Mudville if we couldn't cheer when Ann Coulter strikes out? Or whom would I worship if Katha Pollitt and Molly Ivins were silenced?

No, I don't believe Mr. Last's arguments. The blogs could equally well be argued to bring more readers to mainstream writers and reporters, especially because we provide places for people to discuss the news and events of the day. I hope, of course, that we bloggers keep the professionals on their toes and make them work even harder. That's good for the society in general and very enjoyable to watch, too.

How long we can have that influence is unclear. There are dark forces at work under the seemingly placid surface of the internet, attempts to make this free-wheeling place a market where those who have the most money decide whom you can read. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, so find out what to do by reading this post.

Gas Prices

Tom Tomorrow has fun graphs to study on this topic and some ideas about who might be benefiting from expensive gas.

The gas prices are rising because oil prices are, and the effect is not only on more expensive tank fillings at the pump and the related belt-tightening. Oil is energy, and when one part of energy reserves rises in price all others do, too. And energy is needed for most everything we do: making products, heating buildings, transporting products to stores and transporting ourselves. When energy becomes more expensive living becomes more expensive. The higher gas prices will make food (transported in trucks) more expensive, too.

Blog Envy

Sometimes I get it in buckets. There is this part of me that wants to rule the world by getting rid of the competition. Must. Fight. The. Shadow. Side.

Check out the wonderful blogs listed in my blogroll. There are countless fantastic writers and clear thinkers in them, and funny people, too. I spent some time today reading Amanda at Pandagon, but there are all the other great feminist blogs in that list, too, beginning with Alas, A Blog and continuing with Bitch PhD and so on all the way to Stone Court. And if you are not in the mood for feminism my blogroll contains many other interesting political blogs as well.

That wasn't as good as it could have been, but I struggled a little, at least, against the horrible monster of blog envy. Now, I never had penis envy, and I suspect that neither did any other woman. For one thing, penises can be shared so it's not absolutely necessary to own one. For another thing, the envy Freud noted was most likely to do with the privileges that women saw were attached to the little fellers.

But blogs. Now, a well-written and argued blog post is a thing of beauty and joy forever. Or at least until the next day, and if it's not mine I want to kill. Bad Echidne.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

An Initially Grumpy Book Review

Grumpy. That's how I felt tonight. Not only was it raining and bone-cold here but I went to a brick bookstore to relax and what reared up from the shelves? Books by anti-feminists.

First the Caitlin Flanagan (collected vituperations about the horror that is a uppity woman, by one who is more uppity than any of those she vituperates about), then the Kate O'Beirne scribble about how feminists ate Cincinnati and the rest of the universe (never mind that they also allowed Kate to have the career of upbraiding the rest of us), and then Carrie Lucas's little chirpy booklet about how it's really quite all right to tell other women to stay away from fields such as writing or working for a living, because Callie's got it covered. All these good ladies are doing the very thing they accuse the rest of womanhood for. Must be fun to be schitzophrenic like that.

What do you think I did next? Yes, I naturally looked for the feminists books that should have been displayed somewhere in the vicinity of the above-mentioned page turners, but lo and behold, there were none. Tucked away in a distant corner I did locate an interesting-seeming book about a woman who had dressed up as a man for a while. The back cover promised to reveal to us women the whole exotic world of maleness and how tough it is to be a man. The praises listed included one from Camilla Paglia and another from Christine Hoff Sommers. Google their writings if you don't understand why I sighed and put the book back on the shelf. But not before noticing that it was dedicated to the writer's wife, which probably only means that she is lesbian but to me seemed to whisper that this particular woman had managed to escape the Shedom and is now a free and far-ranging guy. Even though it's a tough world out there in Hedom.

All this is background to explain why I bought Marjane Satrapi's new cartoon book called Embroideries and why I laughed so hard at the restaurant where I withdrew to read it that I nearly choked on the broccoli. The back cover on that one promises bawdiness and does she ever deliver. I'm not sure if I had enjoyed it as much in a less pissed-off state, because the book is kind of tough on Persian husbands. But tonight it was just the thing to relieve my grumpiness. The double chocolate mousse cake did the rest. But I really have to write a book so that the wingnut women will also get heartburn when they visit a bookstore.
If you want a more professional review of Satrapi's newest book, check out this site.

Missing White Women and the Wingnuts

This is a most interesting post and well worth a feminist reading. It ties the treatment of the Duke rape case and the Natalie Holloway disappearance to wingnut politics by showing how talking about news like these in a certain way benefits the conservatives and why Fox News does it all the time.

An Interesting Opinion Piece on This Presidency

At the Smirking Chimp. Here are the conclusions:

If there is no "October Surprise," I would be shocked. And if it is not a high-risk undertaking, it would be a first. Without such a gambit, and the public always falls for them, Bush is going to lose control of Congress. Should that happen, his presidency will have effectively ended, and he will spend the last two years of it defending all the mistakes he has made during the first six, and covering up the errors of his ways.

There is, however, the possibility of another terrorist attack, and if one occurred, Americans would again rally around the president - wrongly so, since this is a presidency that lives on fear-mongering about terror, but does little to truly address it. The possibility that we might both suffer an attack, and see a boost to Bush come from it, is truly a terrifying thought.