Thursday, March 31, 2005

RIP, Terri

Doug has a seriously quality rant here.
As for me:


Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.



--Emily Dickinson.


I'll be out of town for a few days, so until next time . . .

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Milestone

Today, according to sitemeter, I've reached 5,000 site views.

Thanks, everyone!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Fun with Lambuel!

Whoa.

This is my favorite part- where Lambuel is late for church (oh no!) and he must avoid temptations along the way:


It seems as though the temptations along the way include:

-lipstick (because Jesus HATES it when you put on mommy's makeup. It makes baby Jesus cry)
-a zero dollar bill (those don't look real good in the collection plate!)
-bed (either for sleep or . . . well, a temptation nonetheless)
-ice cream (which, as all good Christians know, only leads to eternal damnation.)

And here's another fun thing- click on the "Anti-Triclavianist" link in the left sidebar, and you will get "The Pastor's Corner," in which Pastor Andrew Miller offers a jaunty little "Rap" as an argument against the baptism of infants as "Wack." "Do not be put off by the unusual spelling;" he says, "it is part of the hip-hop vernacular."

Ah, that's what those young kids are listening to these days- ecclesiastical hip-hop.

And it just keeps getting better- a proposed change to the United States Flag:


Wow, apparently this particular denomination sees "subtlety" as a sin against nature.

As Diamond Jack Holgroth, the flag's designer says, though:
The design is non-denominational, and so won't offend the religious minorities who have yet to fully integrate into American Christian society.


Uh huh.

And lastly, Dr. Troy Franklin would like to reclaim Halloween . . . perhaps because it is the only time of year that he appears normal.

Wow. Either this is superb parody, or we have more to worry about than I thought. . .
Tuesday list . . .

But first, behold! Forced Democracy in action!

And now, the list:

ACTUAL QUESTIONS I'VE RECEIVED OVER THE PHONE AT WORK (and my imagined responses)

- "That article was kind of unclear. Could you, I don't know, rewrite it and run it again?"

(How about you just read it again, moron?)

- "Do you know how many of those new whooping cough cases were caused by (sinister drop in voice tone) illegal immigrants?

(Oh, probably nowhere near the number of cases spread by the white man via diseased blankets. But I don't know a specific number.)

- "Do you know where I should send my water bill?"

(I'm thinking you should probably send it wherever you got it from. But we're just the newspaper so what would I know about your water bill?!)

- "I want to place an ad but I don't want to pay for it. Do you know who I can talk to?"

(Uh . . . I think that wherever you go, the answer will be the same. Here, for fun, I'll transfer you to the mailroom!)

- "Can you print a version of the paper for me where the type is bigger?"

(For you? Anything!)

- "Did you know that AOL is going to start charging us for e-mail?!"

(No way! And did you know that I am a wealthy emissary from Nigeria, commissioned to carry a large sum of money from my offshore bank account and I need your help?!)



TWOFER TUESDAY:
LINES FROM REAL OBITUARIES I'VE PROOFED AND PUBLISHED:

- "In her idea of heaven, she is married to Elvis Presley, who is also the quarterback of the Broncos and they win every superbowl."

- "Mr. Brockish was also known as "Brenda" by some in the community."

- "Mr. Conilogue enjoyed travel and will be remembered for spreading joy via the "hooey stick" and his flavored popcorn."

- "She enjoyed painting ceramics. Mrs. Ocobock loved her dog, Brittney; fast cars and spending time with her grandchildren." (go granny go!)

Monday, March 28, 2005

Today is a good day.

Why you ask?
Because:

The Lisl Auman judgment has been reversed.

It looks like this outside and it is 68 degrees now.

I might get to go to this (not sure if I can get an interview, but if I did, I'd probably pass out).

I am wearing these shoes today:


In times like this, it's best, I think, to focus on the small happy things.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Goin on down to South Park . . .

This is waaay too much fun (Thanks, Doug).

Here's my South Park alter-ego. Pretty apt, I think:

Easter Greetings

OK, everyone who reads me knows how I feel about the way that Christianity has pirated all the fun pagan holidays, but I have to say that Easter is the most half-assed attempt at taking a holiday celebrating the full, fecund bloom of Spring and pasting over the whole death/resurrection of the Savior mythology.

I mean, they didn't even change the name- Oester was a fertility goddess of northern European mythology who had quite a lot of mystical powers. A bird came to her one day, and told her that she had fallen in love with a land animal, a rabbit, and wanted to be changed into a rabbit as well (how's that for a Rick Santorum nightmare scenario?). And so, Oester changed the bird into a rabbit, and in gratitude the rabbit laid eggs for the goddess for the rest of her life. Hence the Easter bunny.

So, we don't have easter bunnies because there may have been rabbits at the base of the cross, we have them because the Pagans fought a little harder to save the vestiges of their Spring festival when the Christians came to town. My theory is that the Oester festival was more important to them than the Winter Tree-centered festival, simply because fertility is such an important force in rural life. Think about it- the Winter festival is there just to keep everyone from going stir-crazy during the dark months. The Spring festival is everyone's reward for sticking with it and not offing themselves during the really dark days of a Nordic winter.

In that spirit, I reward all of you for making it through the dark days of winter and the first 85 days of another Bush term. I present, courtesy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press . . . AWARD-WINNING PEEPS DIORAMAS!!


South Peeps


St. John the Baptist, beheaded and presented to the Queen on a silver platter


Queer Peeps for the Straight Peep


Sermon on the Mount

And finally, my personal favorite:


Passion of the peeps.

Happy Oester, my little pagans!!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Real Republicans vs. The Bush Administration

In case you didn't know, it was Eisenhower that created the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower had the foresight in 1960 to set aside this arctic treasure for future generations. Congress reaffirmed the value of the Arctic Refuge in 1980, expanding the Refuge to 19 million acres and designating most of Eisenhower’s orginal Arctic Range as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The coastal plain was denied this critical wilderness designation because of last-minute pressure from the oil industry.

I am beginning to think there's a new way to frame the division in this country. We are not Republicans and Democrats, divided against one another. We are divided along the lines of who thinks that the President is competent and does things in our best interests, and then there are those of us who can read, tell time and tie our shoes. There are plenty of smart Republicans out there, I just wonder what they are doing and why they aren't being louder.

Friday vacation pic blogging

Me on the Brooklyn Bridge- after visiting the Superhero Supply store in Brooklyn

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bill O'Reilly

I'm tired, so here's an easy target: Bill "Falafelpants" O'Reilly on Terri Shiavo's case:
SCHIAVO HYSTERIA


For those of you wondering why the Terri Schiavo story is
receiving massive attention, the answer lies deep within the culture war.
Terri's sad saga is rooted in the battle over who has the final say on human
life: the State or the Creator?

Actually, we're not advocating that the state kill people, we're advocating that they respect an individual's desire to die, despite what her clearly whackjob parents want to do with the husk of a body she's left on the earth.

There is a difference.And if Bill had more than the collective memory of a goldfish, he'd know that liberals have been trying to keep the state from killing people for some time now.

Followers of the secular philosophy believe that the government
has the authority to terminate life in the womb and in the hospital. In
Texas, for example, a 2003 law gives medical personnel the final say over
who receives life-sustaining care and who doesn't. A few weeks ago,
5-month-old Sun Hudson died just seconds after being removed from a hospital
ventilator in Houston. His mother desperately fought the hospital's
decision, but a Texas medical ethics committee ruled that the baby's lungs
were incapable of growing and the condition was irreversible. Baby Sun died
in his mother's arms.


Yep. This is true. But Sun Hudson didn't die because of any "secular philosophy," he died because then-Governor George W. Bush signed into law the "Texas Futile Care Law" which means medical professionals are perfectly within rights to disconnect life support, regardless of a family's wishes. Which is not to say that perhaps baby Sun's time had come- I'm no doctor- but it is more likely that the financial constraints outlined in the Texas Futile Care Law effectively eliminated any chance of his future care or recovery. He may have not been to sick to live- just too poor.

People who believe in the Christian philosophy generally reject
these manmade life-death decisions. To them, all life is sacred because it
comes from a higher power who has the ultimate say about who is born and
when they die. Thus, abortion is rejected, as is euthanasia. Christians and
others of like mind are convinced that man should not have the power to take
life unless it's a matter of self-defense.


I agree that most real Christians probably agree with Mr. O'Reilly's last statement, however, let's look at who he's really talking about. He's really trying to tell us that the Bush Brothers and their ilk are life cheerleaders, all about leaving life and death decisions to God's will. Which is laughable. Florida and Texas have the dubious distinction of leading this nation in capital punishment and lest we forget, Bush's war has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. So . . . what is he trying to say?

This battle between the two philosophies is never going to be
settled. Emotions run high on both sides, and Terri Schiavo was the fuse
that reignited the brawl. At least the Christian side is focused about it.
The Vatican released a statement that supported Mrs. Schiavo's life purely
on theological grounds. The secularists are all over the place. They cite
legalities, states rights, humane treatment, and on and on.


Yeah, those pesky laws about humane treatment. When will those silly secularists stop trying to make rules?

But what it comes down to is a belief system. Who should control
human life? The legal system or a higher power?


The resounding answer from the Bush administration is clear: Who should control human life? Everyone but the person living or carrying it!

For those of us who realize that secularism must be the basis
for common law in a democracy, the Schiavo case was especially frustrating.
Both sides demagogued the issue, and both sides are full of it. No third
party really knows what Terri Schiavo wanted. Her court-appointed guardians
in Florida freely testified that her husband, Michael, had ulterior motives
in the case. The guardians also testified that Terri's family grew to
despise Michael Schiavo, and much of the controversy was born from that
hatred.


Ah, the "That Husband was Bad News" argument. Forget about the fact that he has repeatedly turned down millions to walk away from the case, forget about the fact that her parents are completely fucking nuts, forget about the fact that this has gone to trial what? More than a dozen times? and has always ruled in favor of the husband. Majikthise goes into greater detail on mythbusting this but I think I see why liberals are having such a hard time competing against right-wing rhetoric these days. We have a debilitating tendency to take facts under consideration, while the Right has never had that problem. Anything's possible when you ignore all medical evidence and legal processes!

In a clear-thinking world, the solution to this terrible case
would be obvious. Michael Schiavo would have dropped his litigation and
allowed Terri's family to care for her. Mr. Schiavo could have made a
statement that he tried to carry out his wife's wishes that she not be kept
alive by extraordinary means, but for the greater good he would grant her
family the right to keep her alive.


The greater good for whom? Those goggle-eyed morbid freaks you see in the videos, inches from her face, dressing her in little-girl nightgowns and talking to her like an infant? One wonders why Mr. Schiavo would have tried so hard to respect her wishes if he really just wanted to run away with his new girlfriend. If it was simply a matter of dropping her off at her parents' house and forgetting about it, he could have done that. If he were the heartless adulterer the Right-To-Lifers would have us believe, he would have done that ages ago. Clearly, simply giving it the old college try isn't enough for Michael. He deeply respects what she wanted, or else he wouldn't be going for it. And he probably isn't too tickled at the prospect of giving custody to the people who have stated that they would keep her alive limbless and gangrenous, just to have her live on.

What is the downside to that? Who gets hurt with that solution?
No one. According to doctors, Terri doesn't feel anything while on the
feeding tube. So if the family wants her around in that state -- why not?
Her family could even raise private funds to pay for Terri's care, thereby
taking Medicare out of it.


Who gets hurt? Tell me, Bill, if you were in a vegetative state, trapped within your body, dressed in ridiculously juvenile nightclothes, unable to even answer the phone, much less make your beloved lewd calls on it, wouldn't you rather be released from this living hell? And even if you couldn't think or feel in this condition, what would be the point of going on? Just to please your parents? I think we know who gets hurt in the situation- the woman who wanted her dignity.

But reasonable solutions and thought are rare in the battle
between the secular and the religious. It is a titanic struggle, and the
culture of America hangs in the balance.


No it doesn't. People make these kinds of decisions daily- if there was a consensus between the parents and Michael Schiavo, they would have pulled the tube years ago and Terri would be dead. This is just a media circus event that has only reached prominence because it involves a Bush State, the dramatics of the Religious Right and people wealthy enough to bring the case to as many courts as they want. The culture of America will remain much the same after this, with the Right claiming that the Left likes to watch women and babies die and the Left claiming that the Right only values the lives of fetuses and vegetables. This is rather a tempest in a teapot, and I don't see much changing in the future except for the fact that another case has reached prominence that will make the religious right further despise our judicial system.

I don't know who will ultimately win the struggle. I do know
that everyone has lost in the Schiavo case.


Oh, don't be so dramatic, Bill. Not everyone has lost- Rove has another little story to bring up to the Religious Right when he needs to sway public opinion against "activist judges." Terri Schiavo will be freed from her current enslavement as a mascot of right-to-life crowd and people like me will be able to continue to hold out a little bit of hope that the court system is not entirely in the hands of the Bush Brothers and their evil minions.

The only one I can think of who's lost anything is Chimpy himself. His approval ratings are down and while the lefties like me can always be counted on him to disapprove, the Religious Right has got to feel a little bit betrayed that their God-appointed leader didn't sweep down in a red cape and whisk Terri Schiavo away to a prayer and speech-therapy camp where she will be miraculously cured. I think he's probably lost some ground with them. And I think he will continue to lose more.

Not that he cares . . . but if any of his little friends on the Hill want to run in '08, they are probably going to have to answer for this and the many other steps he'll take in the next four years to further distance himself from the evangelicals who elected him. It will be interesting, if nothing else, to see them all come to recognize that Bush might have made a lot of promises to them in the last election cycle, he's going to be taking care of the people who gave him the big bucks, not the people who gave him their piddly little votes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Kung Fu Monkey: I Miss Republicans.

Via Dougie's new blogspot
"At $200 billion we could literally give every person in the Middle East a thousand bucks to look the other way, maybe buy some Nike knock-offs and chill*. If we Fermi Problem it, figuring on just men, 50% down, then just adult men between , say 17-40, knock it down a quarter, then assume fairly effective terrorists need a smattering of English and some technical knowledge, that's down to maybe 10% of our working number ... that's between $50,000 to $80,000 to every reasonably viable terrorist to go out and not vaporize himself. That's good money. That's 'let's focus more on the inventing-algebra parts of Islam and slightly less on the jihad aspects while we watch the game on my new big-screen' money. Sure, you're gonna get your martyrs, but hey, that's what the Dept. of Homeland Security is for."


Ah, a voice of reason. Consider yourself blogrolled, my simian friend.

The Constitution stays . . . for now

Bloomberg.com: Top Worldwide:
"There's no denying the absolute tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo,'' they wrote. ``We all have our own family, our own loved ones, and our own children. However, we are called upon to make a collective, objective decision concerning a question of law. In the end, and no matter how much we wish Mrs. Schiavo had never suffered such a horrible accident, we are a nation of laws.''


But what troubles me is that the Constitution is not enough for the Religious Right. They have begun a process whereby any true reading of the Constitution is discounted as "activism" or "liberal bias." We've already seen this in the gay marriage issue- banning gay marriage is clearly unconstitutional but justices found to defend that stance are labeled as activists, going against a percieved moral majority. The Constitution is, of course, put into place to provide us with rules that transcend majority rule- it is the check and balance against mob rule. It is the genius of our forefathers, a document meant to both sustain us on a bedrock of rights and law and allow us to grow and change. The Constitution guarantees rights to the minority in a system where the majority makes the rules.

Hopefully it will stay that way. Hopefully the far Right won't be allowed to continue to trample on the Constitution to pursue their own agenda. And now that it looks like Bush has finally washed his hands of the issue of Terri Schiavo, perhaps there's reason to keep hoping. For now.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Marilyn "Chickenshit" Musgrave

Email Marilyn
"***Advisory***
Due to the anthrax incidents, any mail sent to my office is first shipped to a processing center in Ohio and New Jersey to be irradiated for any potential biohazard. This process delays the mail to my office anywhere from two weeks to five months. Therefore, I urge you to email, fax or call for a quicker response. Thank you for your patience. -- Marilyn"


He he. This from the woman that wouldn't leave our newspaper building because about a half-dozen protesters were assembled across the street. She was actually whining that we have them removed. Let me just say this- if your policies are so abhorrent, so destructive and so hateful that you fear groups of protesters that wouldn't even have an automatic gratuity put on their lunch check, maybe you should find a new line of work.

Tuesday lists

OK, I can only take so many pictures of a black cat, so I am going to try and institute a new idea: Tuesday Lists. This is where I come up with a list every week, a la McSweeneys. Relevant or not? Funny or not? You decide. And feel free to add to the list in the comments if you wish.

For those still wanting biting commentary on how the Terry Schiavo case is being used to erode further what dwindling civil rights we have, I direct you here.

And now, my list:

CONVERSATION-ENDING SENTENCES I'VE UTTERED WHILE DRUNK:

1. "Yes, but wouldn't you agree that Christianity itself is a bastardized religion?"

2. "Even for being normally-aspirated, it still goes like hell."

3. "I don't know, I didn't see that- I found that the entire Lord of the Rings series was more about the struggle between rural, agrarian cultures and the encroachment of industry."

4. "I think the larger problem is the fact that the media is now merely a cheerleading squad for the whole administration."

5. "Oh crap. I have the spinnies."

Monday, March 21, 2005

Bizarro Republicans

So, here's a rundown. Republicans are supposed to be the party of small government. But:

-The federal government can intervene in this situation, this situation, this situation and this situation.

I won't even get started on the whole "party of fiscal responsibility" thing (at this point, the Republican Party is as much the party of fiscal responsibility as Michael Jackson is the King of Pop) but come ON, Republicans. This president is making an ass of all of you.

Friday, March 18, 2005

And by "freedom" we mean "constant threat of violence"

Just how does this fit into the grand plan of spreading freedom and liberty throughout the Arab world?

Here's a snip from the article:

In southern Baghdad, the hazards of life have come to this: Gangs of militant Islamists are warning barbers that it is haram - forbidden - to shave men's beards or do Western-style haircuts. As many as 12 barbers have been killed, Iraqi officials say, including five in one day in late January. With little hope of police protection, most now refuse to offer the offending cuts, and have placed prominent signs in their front windows saying so.


This may seem like a small thing, but if it is unsafe for Iraqi men to have a western-style haircut, imagine for a moment what life must be like over there. Clearly Iraqis are not- either out of ideology or fear of retribution from ideologues- going to embrace the freedoms of the Western World. This is a culture that has long seen the West as an enemy, and this doesn't seem to be changing. In the Times today, an editorial basically says it all:
Things are even worse on the Arab street. While hope for change may be rising, opinion about the United States has never been as profoundly negative. Even under the best circumstances, it would have been hard for the proud people of the Middle East to acknowledge any benefit from an armed intervention by a Western power. And the occupying forces have made themselves easy to hate with maddening human-rights disasters. When the average Egyptian or Palestinian or Saudi thinks about the Americans in Iraq, the image is not voters' purple-stained fingers but the naked Iraqi prisoner at the other end of Pfc. Lynndie England's leash.


This is so important, and yet so ignored by the American people. We are kept in a sort of Platonic Cave, seeing only what is shown to us. This is progress, we are told, as we are shown images of the Cedar Revolution, Iraqi voters, handshaking between Mideast leaders. And it is, and I hope as much as anyone else that it will continue. But we also have a responsibility to ourselves and to history to become aware of the fact that this "progress" is neither a direct product of the Bush Doctrine, nor is it consequence-free. We owe it to ourselves to understand the complexity and future repercussions of these issues.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Culture of Death- not just a Cure cover band anymore

The Culture Of Death

In a world where complex ideologies are constantly being reduced to their most black-and-white essence, we now have the extreme right telling us that the Terry Schiavo ruling and even birth-control pills are a detriment to the "culture of life," and therefore . . . wait for it . . . contribute to the CULTURE OF DEATH!!!

Now, I'd just like to say this: the term "Culture of Life" is actually pretty stupid. It has little to no semantic value, as Dex would say, as a term. Culture is something that has to, by virtue of being a product of humanity, deal with both life and death. Simply deeming a human cultural event such as the Terry Shiavo ruling as promoting a "Culture of Death" is nonsense. A culture of any kind must be a culture both of life and of death.

But again, the reductive powers of the religious right and their profiteers (the Bush administration) have shown time and time again that there is no issue so complicated, no concept so nuanced, that it can't be boiled down into a good versus evil proposition in the able hands of Karl Rove.

Finally, how can a culture that counters death with killing, such as in the contexts of war and capital punishment, ever be deemed a culture of life? How can an administration that has killed 100,000, probably more, Iraqis in the name of their liberation call itself the promoter of a "Culture of Life?" There obviously is only a small segment of life that this "Culture of Life" considers sacred- the lives not yet begun and the lives no longer lived.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Just when I feel better, he suggests Wolfowitz for World Bank president.

I was pleased to see that same-sex marriage bans were named unconstitutional in California. And I was even more pleased to see an editorial in the NYT today saying what I've been saying all along- that the "Activist Judge" soundbite is quickly losing all meaning as a phrase, since the Constitution grants rights to the minority whether the majority likes it or not (could it not be said that the real "radicals" are the ones who wish to go back in time to a homo-free era?). I particularly liked this quote:

No matter how much opponents of same-sex marriage will try to say otherwise, Judge Kramer is not a radical liberal judge, wired on lattes in Haight-Ashbury. He's just now catching up to what the mayor and city council and state legislature - and courts from sea to shining sea - have known for years: that all Americans are entitled to equal treatment. Is that news?


Might be for some people, but not for me.

And then there's this:



World Bank choice Wolfowitz magnet for criticism
Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:04 PM ET
By Charles Aldinger
WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) - Paul Wolfowitz, chosen by President George W. Bush to head the World Bank, is a prominent administration conservative with broad experience in world affairs who has generated controversy as a leading Pentagon architect of the Iraq War.

Wolfowitz, 61, has served as deputy secretary of defense since 2001 and is an expert on East Asia and the Middle East. He was previously U.S. ambassador to Indonesia and served in the administration of Bush's father during the 1991 Gulf War.


Does Bush just have a dartboard of his associates and when an open appointment comes up, he just tosses one out and pick whoever it lands on? Or maybe Wolfowitz was just the closest to Wolfensohn in pronunciation and Bush thought it would lead to less confusion?

Picking Wolfowitz for World Bank president is like picking Paris Hilton as president of the FAA. There is no logical basis for this decision, but like so many other of his decisions he is guided by the forces of his administration, not by the forces of logic or reason. I don't know who thinks this is a good idea, but all Bush has to say is basically "whatever happens happens" and damn the consequences.

Hopefully this, like the Social Security reform debacle, will dissolve like so much tainted kool-aid in the coming weeks. But if anyone is taking Bush seriously on this, something needs to be done.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

livejournal-style quizzes for literature geeks

From Pete at Perfectly Cromulent:

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

A post-apocalyptic culture needs humor, so I'd want to be something light hearted, like "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

From a book, definitely Holden Caulfield. From a film, I'd say Cary Grant in "Philadelphia Story" or Steve McQueen in . . . well, just about everything.

The last book you bought is:

The latest McSweeney's Quarterly Concern- the Comics edition.

The last book you read:

See above. But before that, "Naked" by David Sedaris.

What are you currently reading?

"Reading Lolita in Tehran."

Five books you would take to a deserted island.

5. The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck
4. Catcher in the Rye, Salinger
3. My Norton Anthology of English Literature (dark ages thru 1870)
2. The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald
1. Catch 22, since I still haven't finished it and I really need to.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

To my fabulously well-read and considerate readership. Why? Because we like you!

Monday, March 14, 2005

'Mildly Pro-Choice' Rice Won't Rule Out Presidential Bid (washingtonpost.com)

'Mildly Pro-Choice' Rice Won't Rule Out Presidential Bid

Mildly pro-choice. Huh. Care to elaborate?

"If you go back to 2000 when I helped the president in the campaign," she said, "I said that I was, in effect, kind of libertarian on this issue. And meaning by that, that I have been concerned about a government role in this issue. I am a strong proponent of parental choice -- of parental notification. I am a strong proponent of a ban on late-term abortion. These are all things that I think unite people and I think that that's where we should be. I've called myself at times mildly pro-choice."


So,by "libertarian on this issue," she means that she thinks the very personal and sensitive issue of abortion should be regulated by federal laws. And by "mildly pro-choice" she basically means that her views on abortion are like her views on everything else- completely dictated by whoever's lap she's dogging at the time.

Case in point:

Rice, a former Stanford provost, told the Times that she believes the president "has been in exactly the right place" on abortion, "which is we have to respect the culture of life and we have to try and bring people to have respect for it and make this as rare a circumstance as possible."


Sad thing is, her point of view pretty closely mirrors the point of view of the new, moderated Left, one that wrings its hands and says "nobody wants an abortion!" This is the same point of view that DLC types are using to try and win those single-issue abortion voters to their side. I don't like this point of view because it is completely noncomittal and offers no real solutions to a very real problem. "Mildly pro-choice" means that you don't approve of abortion but you don't want to make it illegal either and you certainly don't want to divert federal funding to make it more available to the people who need it. "Mildly pro-choice" is like being a vegan who eats the occasional McNugget.

The labels of pro-life and pro-choice need to become meaningless- and they are well on their way down that path. However, we need to institute a new ideology that says that there is a broader issue at hand. There is the issue that young women and single women and poor women are at a disadvantage when it comes to feeling empowered and having control of their bodies. There is the issue that these women are being roadblocked at every opportunity when they try to take control of their bodies and try to attain birth control options. There is the issue of health conditions that can lead to a need for late-term abortions.

If you are going to be "mildly pro-choice," you are already admitting to the fact that there is a gray area. Why not admit to the fact that the entire issue is far too complex for monolithic legislation such as out-and-out bans on late-term abortion and parental notification laws?

A little advice to the dems- leave the abortion issue alone. We can't win the evangelicals. Instead, how about this angle? Remember that angelic-looking blonde woman at the one presidential debate who asked John Kerry how she could be assured that her tax money would never go to funding abortion? How about this- answer her question with a question. Would she prefer that her tax money go toward a war? Toward funding the torture of detainees? Toward developing a faster, better nuclear weapon? There are many ways to be pro-life, I suggest we look at the bigger issues first.

Friday, March 11, 2005

To the city that blends and mends and tests

So.

I'm back from NYC, back from a much needed vacation and the most hellish airport experience I think I've ever had. There was a blizzard in NYC the third day I was there- jammed up the flights for the next day and caused icy runways at LaGuardia, so getting out on time was a no-go. Ah well-

Tuesday in the city was gorgeous- I'll have plenty of pics to share later and to burden my Photobucket account.

Still trying a bit to sort out my feelings about the city- was it love? Was I just overwhelmed? Could I really ever see myself living there? I am not sure yet. I liked the city a lot- but when I was laid over in Chicago, I remember thinking that Chicago was my town, that I felt so much more at home there. Plus I can't yet stomach the idea of spending $1400 on a one-bedroom apartment . . .

All in all it was just great to get away, to finally get acquainted with the city that I had grown up wanting to visit. It was amazing to just wander around, and then get caught by surprise by something huge, like the Trump Towers or Times Square or Rockefeller Center. Everything is so close together so you don't have to go far before you run into something you recognize. I liked that part. And I liked being able to zoom anywhere in town on the subway. And I liked Barney Greengrass "The Sturgeon King" on the Upper West side. That was cool.

I want to go back . . . when it's warm.

Friday, March 04, 2005

When life imitates "The Simpsons"

Over at World O Crap, there was a discussion of the logic behind Bush's trumped-up stagestop tour promoting the Social Security. Why is he touring with this? We can't vote on it, it makes no sense for him to promote it, especially to ticketholder-only, cherrypicked audiences who already swallow everything he says as absolute truth and well-meaning pragmatism (ugh).

So, I came to the conclusion that he's like Lyle Lanley from the Marge vs. Monorail episode of "The Simpsons." He's just taking our money and making it sound good so we all think it's our idea.



And so, FlipYrWhig ran with the idea and rewrote the song to fit the new analogy:

Why do this while the deficit mounts?
You'll all own personal accounts!
Didn't you use to call them 'private'?
The system hurts, so we'll revive it!
What if our investments crash?
Think of all the extra cash!
Isn't the system still quite solvent?
Relax and let your Preznit resolve it!
I say it's America's only choice,
Throw up your hands and raise your voice! Personal...
Retirement...
Security!


You're doing this without a reason!
Arrest that man, he's speaking treason!
Personal...
Retirement...
Security!

Priva-doh!

FlipYrWhig • 3/3/05; 11:45:48 AM

Thursday, March 03, 2005

interesting survey dealy

From Bark Bark Woof Woof:
bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go here to have a form generate the HTML for you.

Dialectizer fun

The Inaugural Address, in "Jive" (the "Moron" and "Redneck" options were mildly funny, but a little too close to what he actually said."
Your Text, Dialectized (jive)

Vice Super-dude Cheney, Mr. Ah be baaad... Chief Justice, Super-dude Carter, Super-dude Bush, Super-dude Clinton, reverend clergy, distin'uished guests, dude citizens, dig dis:

On dis day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate de durable wisdom uh our Constitushun, and recall de deep commitments dat unite our country. Slap mah fro! ah' am grateful fo' de hono' uh dis hour, mindful uh de consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill de oad dat ah' have swo'n and ya' gots witnessed.

At dis second gaderin', our duties is defined not by de wo'ds I use, but by de histo'y we gots seen togeder. Ah be baaad... Fo' some half century, America defended our own freedom by standin' watch on distant bo'ders. Afta' de shipwreck uh communism came years uh relative quiet, years of repose, years uh sabbatical - and den dere came some day uh fire.

We gots seen our vulnerability - and we gots seen its deepest source. Fo' as long as whole regions uh de wo'ld simma' in resentment and tyranny - prone t'ideologies dat feed hatred and 'suse murda' - violence gots'ta gader, and multiply in destructive power, and cross de most defended bo'ders, and raise some mo'tal dreat. Man! Dere be only one fo'ce uh histo'y dat kin bust de reign uh hatred and resentment, and 'spose da damn pretensions uh tyrants, and reward da damn hopes uh de decent and tolerant, and dat be de fo'ce uh human freedom. WORD!

We is led, by events and common sense, t'one conclusion, dig dis: De survival uh liberty in our land increasin'ly depends on de success of liberty in oda' lands. De best hope fo' peace in our wo'ld be de 'spansion uh freedom in all de wo'ld.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs is now one. From de day uh our Foundin', we gots proclaimed dat every joker and honky chick on dis eard gots rights, and dignity, and matchless value, a'cuz dey bear de image uh de Maka' of Heaven and eard. Across de generashuns we gots proclaimed da damn impuh'tive uh self-guv'ment, a'cuz no one be fit t'be some master, and no one deserves t'be a slave. Advancin' dese ideals be de mission dat created our Nashun. It be de hono'able achievement uh our faders. Now it be de urgent requirement uh our nashun's security, and da damn callin' uh our time.

So's it be de policy uh de United States t'seek and suppo't de growd uh democratic movements and institushuns in every nashun and culture, wid de ultimate goal uh endin' tyranny in our wo'ld.

Dis be not primarily de tax' uh arms, dough we gots'ta defend ourselves and our homeys by fo'ce uh arms when necessary. Slap mah fro! Freedom, by its nature, gots'ta be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by de rule uh law and da damn protecshun uh mino'ities. And when de soul of a nashun finally raps, de institushuns dat arise may reflect customs and tradishuns real different fum our own. 'S coo', bro. America gots'ta not impose our own style uh guv'ment on de unwillin'. Our goal instead is t'help oders find deir own voice, attain deir own freedom, and make deir own way. Slap mah fro!

De great objective uh endin' tyranny be de concentrated wo'k of generashuns. De difficulty uh de tax' be no 'suse fo' avoidin' it. Man! America's influence be not unlimited, but fo'tunately fo' de oppressed, America's influence be considerable, and we gots'ta use it confidently in freedom's cause.

Mah' most solemn duty be to protect dis nashun and its sucka's against furda' attacks and emergin' dreats. Some gots unwisely chosen t'test America's resolve, and gots found it firm. WORD!

We gots'ta puh'sistently clarify de choice befo'e every rula' and every nashun: De mo'al choice between oppression, which be always wrong, and freedom, which be eternally right. Man! America gots'ta not pretend dat jailed dissidents prefa' deir chains, o' dat honky chicks welcome humiliashun and servitude, o' dat any human bein' aspires t'live at de mercy uh bullies.

We gots'ta encourage refo'm in oda' guv'ments by makin' clear dat success in our relashuns gots'ta require da damn decent treatment uh deir own sucka's. America's belief in human dignity gots'ta guide our policies, yet rights gots'ta be mo'e dan de grudgin' concessions uh dictato's; dey are secured by free dissent and da damn participashun uh de governed. In de long run, dere be no justice widout freedom, and dere kin be no human rights widout human liberty. Slap mah fro!

Some, ah' know, gots quesshuned da damn global appeal uh liberty - dough dis time in histo'y, foe decades defined by de swiftest advance of freedom eva' seen, be an odd time fo' doubt. Man! Americans, uh all sucka's, should neva' be surprised by de powa' of our ideals. Eventually, de call uh freedom comes t'every mind and every soul. We do not accept de 'esistence uh puh'manent tyranny cuz' we do not accept de possibility uh puh'manent slavery. Slap mah fro! Liberty gots'ta come t'dose who love it. Man!

Today, America raps anew t'de sucka'ss uh de wo'ld, dig dis:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness kin know, dig dis: de United States gots'ta not igno'e yo' oppression, o' 'suse yo' oppresso's. When ya' stand fo' yo' liberty, we gots'ta stand wid ya'.

Democratic refo'mers facin' repression, prison, o' 'esile kin know, dig dis: America sees ya' fo' who ya' are, dig dis: de future leaders uh yo' free country. Slap mah fro!

De rulers uh outlaw regimes kin know dat we still recon' as Abraham Lincoln dun did: "Dose who deny freedom t'oders deserve it not fo' demselves; and, unda' de rule uh a plum God, kinnot long retain it. Man!"

De leaders uh guv'ments wid long habits uh control need to know, dig dis: To serve yo' sucka's ya' gots'ta learn t'trust dem. WORD! Start on dis journey uh progress and justice, and America gots'ta walk at yo' side.

And all de allies uh de United States kin know, dig dis: we hono' yo' homeyship, we rely on yo' counsel, and we depend on yo' help. Jes hang loose, brud. Division among free nashuns be a primary goal uh freedom's enemies. De concerted effo't uh free nashuns t'promote democracy be a prelude to our enemies' defeat. Man!

Today, ah' also rap anew t'my dude citizens, dig dis:

From all uh ya', ah' have ax'ed patience in de hard tax' uh securin' America, which ya' gots granted in baaaad measho' man. Our country has accepted obligashuns dat is difficult t'fulfill, and would be dishono'able t'abandon. 'S coo', bro. Yet cuz' we gots acted in de great liberatin' tradishun uh dis nashun, tens uh millions gots achieved deir freedom. WORD! And as hope kindles hope, millions mo'e gots'ta find it. Man! By our effo'ts, we gots lit some fire as well - some fire in de minds of men. 'S coo', bro. It warms dose who feel its power, it burns dose who fight its progress, and one day dis untamed fire uh freedom gots'ta reach de darkest co'ners uh our wo'ld.

A few Americans gots accepted da damn hardest duties in dis cause - in de quiet wo'k uh intelligence and diplomacy ... de idealistic wo'k of helpin' raise down free guv'ments ... de dangerous and necessary wo'k of fightin' our enemies. Some gots shown deir devoshun t'our country in deads dat hono'ed deir whole lives - and we gots'ta always hono' deir dojiggers and deir sacrifice.

All Americans gots witnessed dis idealism, and some fo' de fust time. ah' ax' our yungest citizens t'recon' de evidence uh yo' eyes. You's gots seen duty and allegiance in de determined faces uh our soldiers. You's gots seen dat life be fragile, and evil be real, and courage triumphs. Make da damn choice t'serve in some cause larga' dan yo' wants's, larga' dan yo'self - and in yo' days ya' gots'ta add not plum to de weald uh our country, but t'its character. Ah be baaad...

America gots need uh idealism and courage, cuz' we gots essential wo'k at crib - de unfinished wo'k uh American freedom. WORD! In some wo'ld movin' toward liberty, we is determined t'show de meanin' and promise uh liberty. Slap mah fro!

In America's ideal uh freedom, citizens find da damn dignity and security uh economic independence, instead uh labo'in' on de edge of subsistence. Dis be de broada' definishun uh liberty dat motivated de Cribstead Act, de Social Security Act, and da damn G.I. Bill of Rights. And now we gots'ta extend dis vision by refo'min' great institushuns t'serve da damn needs uh our time. To cut every American a ssnatch in de promise and future uh our country, we gots'ta brin' de highest standards t'our farms, and build an ownership society. Slap mah fro! We gots'ta widen de ownership uh cribs and businesses, retirement savin's and heald insurance - preparin' our sucka's fo' de challenges uh life in some free society. Slap mah fro! By makin' every citizen an agent uh his o' ha' own destiny, we gots'ta cut our dude Americans greata' freedom fum wants' and fear, and make our society mo'e prospuh'ous and plum and equal.

In America's ideal uh freedom, de public interest depends on private characta' - on integrity, and tolerance toward oders, and de rule uh conscience in our own lives. Self-guv'ment relies, in de end, on de governin' uh de self. Dat edifice uh characta' is built in families, suppo'ted by communities wid standards, and sustained in our nashunal life by de truds uh Sinai, de Sermon on de Mount, de wo'ds uh de Ko'an, and da damn varied faids uh our sucka's. Americans move fo'ward in every generashun by reaffirmin' all dat be baaaad and true dat came befo'e - ideals uh justice and conduct dat is de same yesterday, today, and fo'ever. Ah be baaad...

In America's ideal uh freedom, de 'esercise uh rights be ennobled by service, and mercy, and some heart fo' de weak. Ya' know? Liberty fo' all duz not mean independence fum one anoder. Ah be baaad... Our nashun relies on dudes and honky chicks who look afta' a neighbo' and surround da damn lost wid love. Americans, at our best, value da damn life we see in one anoder, and must always rememba' dat even de unwants'ed gots wo'd. And our country gots'ta abandon all de habits uh racism, cuz' we kinnot carry de message uh freedom and da damn baggage uh bigotsry at da damn same time.

From de puh'spective uh a raple day, includin' dis day of dedicashun, de issues and quesshuns befo'e our country is many. Slap mah fro! From de viewpoint uh centuries, de quesshuns dat mosey on down to us is narrowed and few, so cut me some slack, Jack. Did our generashun advance da damn cause uh freedom? And dun did our characta' brin' credit t'dat cause?

Dese quesshuns dat judge us also unite us, cuz' Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by bird, is bound to one anoda' in de cause uh freedom. WORD! We gots knode divisions, which gots'ta be healed t'move fo'ward in great purposes - and ah' gots'ta strive in baaaad faid t'heal dem. WORD! Yet dose divisions do not define America. WORD! We felt da damn unity and dudeship uh our nashun when freedom came under attack, and our response came likes some sin'le hand upside a raple heart. Man! And we kin feel dat same unity and pride wheneva' America acts fo' baaaad, and da damn victims uh disasta' are given hope, and da damn unjust encounta' justice, and da damn captives is set free.

We go fo'ward wid complete confidence in de eventual triumph of freedom. WORD! Not cuz' histo'y runs on de wheels uh inevitability; it is human choices dat move events. Not cuz' we consida' ourselves a chosen nashun; God moves and chooses as He wills. We gots confidence a'cuz freedom be de puh'manent hope uh mankind, de hunga' in dark places, de longin' uh de soul. When our Founders declared some new o'da' of de ages; when soldiers got wasted in wave downon wave fo' some union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage unda' de banna' "Freedom Now" - dey wuz actin' on an ancient hope dat is meant t'be fulfilled. Histo'y gots an ebb and flow uh justice, but histo'y also gots a visible direcshun, set by liberty and da damn Audo' of Liberty. Slap mah fro!

When de Declarashun uh Independence wuz fust eyeball in public and de Liberty Bell wuz sounded in celebrashun, some witness said, "It rang as if it meant sump'n." In our time it means sump'n still. America, in dis yung century, proclaims liberty droughout all de wo'ld, and t'all de inhabitants dereof. Renewed in our strengd - tested, but not weary - we is ready fo' de greatest achievements in de histo'y uh freedom. WORD!

May God bless ya', and may He watch upside de United States of America. WORD!



For more fun, go to Dialectizer.

Attempts at humor

Observations from today:

A high number of bars locally are holding St. Patrick's Day parties that feature Karaoke. Because nothing is so rife of thoughts of the Emerald Isle as a pastime of drunken Japanese Businessmen.

People who write letters to the editor to propose the formation of a militia using vintage, WWII-era weapons to gun down illegal immigrants as they cross the border are not terribly good at grammar.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Good thoughts help

Hello everyone-
I was not going to blog on this because I do try to keep my personal life off of this site as much as possible. I've been steadily moving away from that kind of writing on here since I graduated from college, and like so many college students, realized that the world was much bigger than me and much more interesting.

But this is important and I think it's something that should be shared.

Someone very very close to me was drugged and raped this past weekend. I'm not going to say who, I respect her privacy very much and as much as I love her I know that she would not want to be pitied or anything like that. But all the same I feel that the people who come to read my stuff are generally very kind people who can help generate some very positive energy her way. So please keep her in your thoughts.

And, ladies of the readership, be careful. You never know who you can trust. I never thought this was something that could happen to her. But you never know, so you should always err on the side of caution.

When we were very young I remember defending her and beating up boys who picked on her, but I wasn't there to defend her this time. I'm dealing with a lot of baggage because of that.

Any encouraging words are welcome. This has been a pretty rough time for me and right now I'm just trying really hard to act and feel normal.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Vestal Vespa: Now with 48% evil!

So thanks to Mr. Corndog over at Corndoggerel I now know:
This site is certified 48% EVIL by the Gematriculator

And also:
This site is certified 52% GOOD by the Gematriculator

Good to know.

HoustonChronicle.com - Iraq's human rights abuses detailed

Ah, the sweet smell of newly minted democracy.

I got a call the other day from a woman, a mother of a soldier, one of many who have called with a similar idea. "I want to publish his letters," they always say. "They are doing a lot of good over there."

I buy that most of the soldiers are, in fact, doing good over there. But violence, war in general, warps peoples minds. The unacceptable becomes acceptable. The disturbing becomes normal. And then you get this.

The new Iraqi government has what even the Bush administration admits are "serious problems." In short, people in high places are still pulling the same kind of stuff that Sadaam did. Only this time, the U.S. is not just ignoring, not just tolerating but actively supporting and constructing a government that systematically tortures, rapes and illegally detains its own people.

If the U.S. government becomes at all proactive about these crimes, I will be as surprised as anyone. But I think they have bigger fish to fry right now and I am sadly more inclined to think that this behavior will be largely ignored, and will escalate once U.S. troops start to leave. Because this was never about the well-being of the Iraqis. This is about something bigger and greedier and uglier. This is about those permanent . . . or rather "enduring" in Luntz-speak . . . military bases. This is about the grand neocon plan to resurface the Middle East so we have every last drop of oil possible . . . This is no longer tinfoil-hat territory.

On a lighter note (could it get much darker?) it looks like Ron Jeremy is going to be giving a talk at Oxford. I think it's pretty nutty how porn is so mainstream right now. I guess in a way it is a good thing, as the more "out" an industry is, the more regulated it can be. And the less baggage people begin to associate with it. But I still don't care much for the way porn stars have eroded the women's movement. Being comfortable with one's sexuality is one thing, being sexually adventurous is one thing, but the kinds of sicko ideals that porn women are subjected to is still unsettling, and not at all liberating. When I met Annie Sprinkle, she came across as an artistic but deeply screwed-up woman, with a bit of an identity crisis.

On the other hand, I have always found Christian porn addiction sites to be extremely funny. I think that if a Christian guy is addicted to porn, it's more of a symptom of a problem than a problem within itself. But if you check out these sites, the "recovery" stories are pretty funny. However, the underlying issue always seems to be that the women in their lives have failed to be diligent and have allowed their men to "fall" under their care. The Christian male/female relationship is so weird- Men are supposed to think for their women, to act as their head, but when the man messes up royally, it is still the woman's fault.

At any rate, in four short days I'll be winging my way off to New York, so I'll try to get as much blogging in as possible between now and then. Until next time . . .