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August 31, 2008

Palin Derangement Syndrome Begins

Well that didn't take long. The reality based community have begun the obligatory self-beclowning contest. Via Glenn Reynolds, we present Contestant #1:

On the other hand, claims that Palin faked her pregnancy would have to count as dumber . . . .

Dumb has nothing to do with it. The truly scary thing is that these people are serious. But wait! Unbelievable as it may seem there's even more blithering idiocy where this came from!

Not content with slandering Palin's teenaged daughter (never mind all that righteous indignation about leaving candidates' wives out of the campaign - that was just for show), now Obama supporters are demonstrating their deeply held convictions about a woman's right to control her reproductive destiny.

You remember that, don't you? Senator Obama was quite explicit on this point. A woman's original decision regarding her reproductive destiny must not be questioned:

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Senator Obama's state Senate vote on abortion continues to draw criticism from all sides. And now audiotapes have surfaced of the Illinois senator arguing against the bill that would have protected babies who survive a botched abortion.

Now listen to this.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) ILLINOIS SENATOR: And that essentially adding an additional doctor, who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the decision to induce labor and perform an abortion.



Yep. Those lofty principles sure can prove inconvenient. And when they get in the way they must be sacrificed to expediency. So much for a woman's right to control her own reproductive destiny! And that pesky right to privacy thing? Out the window! Enter Contestant #2:

It's almost as if the Dems can't help but to resort to misogynistic antagonism in dealing with Gov. Sarah Palin. This comes courtesy of Alan Colmes, citing Rogers Cadenhead who questions Palin's maternal abilities:

One bit of weirdness associated with Palin concerns the birth of her youngest child. As the Alaskan media reported, Palin was attending an energy conference in Texas on April 18 when her water broke four weeks before her due date. After this happened, Palin didn't head to a hospital or even leave the conference, even though the premature rupture of fetal membrances [Ed note: Huh???] is normally a cause for an immediate examination by an obstetrician, who will observe the fetus on a monitor to guard against infection and other life-threatening complications. Two other reasons for heightened concern were Palin's age, 43, and the fact that prenatal testing indicated the child had Down syndrome.

Palin stayed at the conference and delivered a 30-minute speech, then boarded a 12-hour Alaska Airlines flight from Dallas to Anchorage, neglecting to tell the airline her water had broken — most airlines won't fly a woman in labor. The motivation for all of this appears to be the Palins' desire that the child be born in Alaska. Her husband Todd told the Anchorage Daily News, "You can't have a fish picker from Texas."

When she arrived home, Palin was hospitalized immediately and the baby was born prematurely after labor was induced in the middle of the night.

So let's look at the "charges" here:

Governor Palin stands accused of wanting to control her own reproductive destiny endangering her "fetus".

As we all know, this is something the reality based community finds utterly unacceptable. And then there's the troubling matter of the way Governor Palin neglected to tell the flight crew her water had broken! Apparently she was supposed to have done this because...

[wait for it]

...most airlines won't fly a woman in labor.

Except Gov. Palin wasn't in labor yet:

When she arrived home, Palin was hospitalized immediately and the baby was born prematurely after labor was induced in the middle of the night.

Now maybe it is just me, but normally doctors don't have to induce labor if one is already in labor. Oh wait a minute -- my bad. Logic and facts tend to interfere with the narrative, don't they?

The real question here is this: according to Barack Obama nothing must be allowed to interfere with a woman's absolute right to control her own reproductive destiny. You know: that whole "right to privacy" thing? It's sacrosanct... except when it gets in the way of the narrative:

... essentially adding an additional doctor, who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the decision to induce labor and perform an abortion.

According to Obama supporters, he doesn't support infanticide. He supports a woman's right to determine her reproductive destiny. Governor Palin consulted her physician and then made an informed decision regarding her reproductive destiny. But Obama supporters think a live child is a "risky" outcome that disqualifies her from being Vice President of the United States?

Lovely. I'm pro-choice and this doesn't make sense.

Grim was right. This kind of nonsense survives only because people deliberately refuse to think about the policies and candidates they support. I support limited abortion rights, but I don't delude myself about what it is I am supporting and I don't support the unconditional "right" of a woman to "choose" certain things:

You can't "let" a baby live. A baby will not live if you do not care for it. At that moment -- the one being discussed, when a baby has survived an abortion attempt and is now delivered and alive -- we must make a decision. We must accept the child into the human community and care for it, or let the baby die.

These people have maintained all along that a fetus is not a baby. It has no rights.

So what, precisely, are the grounds for people who support unlimited abortion rights to question any action of Governor Palin's in relation to her pregnancy? Obama supporters favor the unconditional right of a woman to have her baby cut into pieces, without any anaesthesia, while fully alive and conscious; but not for her to board a plane to Alaska, while not even in labor yet, and after consulting her physician?

On what basis? That she was "endangering" a fetus they claim is not human and has no rights?

This is the definition of intellectual dishonesty, and it's pathetic.
I wondered what these people were going to do after Bush was gone.

I think we have our answer: Bush Derangement Syndrome will be replaced by Palin Derangement Syndrome.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:32 AM | Comments (108) | TrackBack

August 30, 2008

Will Palin Cost McCain Gay Polar Bear Vote?

Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning a distressing thought floated to the forefront of the Editorial Staff's pea sized brain. Naturlich we promptly sprang from betwixt the marital sheets, positively a-tingle with curiosity. "What would the sachems of political discourse have to say about this historic choice?", we wondered? We were happy to see the lamestream media continuing the thoughtful, impartial and incisive reporting which characterized their coverage of Hillary Clinton:

"Children with Down syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of vice president, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?"

But though the press can barely contain their excitement over the historic nature of this pick, they appear mindful of their duty to explore compelling issues like Gov. Palin's child care arrangements while not neglecting the question on everyone's mind today: can a mere woman ever hope to wrap her mind around complex and highly nuanced foreign policy issues?

Fortunately, the media's well known sense of fair play prompted admonishments that it is unsporting to pick on girls, especially ones who are so clearly out of their depth:

TODD: She's going to have an expectations bar that's really low, and, you know, there's going to be questions that are given to her in such a way, that, to see, just on a basic qualification test, how well she knows certain world events. So she's going to have a very low bar to pass..

Imagine our surprise (considering the gravity and thoroughness with which Gov. Palin is being vetted by the media), however, when this morning's news turned up nary a word regarding what may well turn out to be a fatal miscalculation by the McCain campaign. Amidst the grave questions raised by the VP pick (What was McCain thinking when he recklessly and unilaterally selected a running mate without the prior approval of Germany and France? How could he choose a running mate who conspicuously lacks the internecine Capitol Hill connections considered essential in establishing genuine "Washington outsider" bona fides? Is this yet another sign that McCain's POW experiences left him mentally unstable and unfit to lead?) we found ourselves stunned to see the media ignoring the most disturbing aspect of the McCain pick. The choice of Palin represents a stinging slap in the face to a key McCain constituency: gay Ursine-Americans and lovers of Knut, the adorably psychotic baby polar bear. We would have thought that Palin would be more sympathetic to Knut, another compelling public figure who bears many startling similarities to the now-embattled VP pick. Like Palin, Knut has his share of skeletons in the closet:

Berlin Zoo is having to frantically deny reports that Cuddly Knut, its adorable yet controversial polar bear cub, was indirectly responsible for the death of its panda Yan Yan.

The Editorial Staff have been following the trials and tribulations of this cuddly denizen of the Arctic for some time:

Mein Gott im Himmell! one day the arrogant Bu$Hitler will rue his crimes against the Multiverse. Dennis Kucinich has sworn it!

Sadly, the viciously specie-ist and human centric policies of the current occupants of the Oval Office continue unabated. Is there no end to the tortures visited upon our unsuspecting fur-brothers? Of all the horrors in an increasingly irritating world, no one could have imagined a fate so cruel, so exquisitely agonizing that it would reduce the strongest among us to a quivering mass of jelly. We are, of course, speaking of the nightmare of Suri Cruise...

The young ursine has been the target of death threats for his prescient and principled opposition to European Islamofascists. Thus, we found ourselves deeply disturbed to learn that, not content with being a bad mother, animal hater and strident foe of a woman's exclusive right to determine the reproductive destiny of both partners in a sexual relationship, Gov. Palin has come out against same sex marriage rights for polar bears.

In light of this unsettling news, we have no choice but to reconsider our support for John McCain. In a civilized society, some things just will not stand.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:28 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

August 29, 2008

First Reaction on Palin

Sorry - I'm too busy for anything other than a brief comment. My initial reaction to the Palin choice was mixed.

Primarily, it distresses me a bit to think she was chosen because she is female. I found myself, and I know no one here is going to want to hear this, oddly moved by watching the delegate count at the DNC the other day. Some time ago, Grim pointed out to me that many blacks have their hopes and dreams tied up in Barack Obama.

At the time, I thought it a bit amusing because as a woman, quite a few of my 'hopes and dreams' were tied up in watching Hillary Clinton - though I vehemently disagree with her on many issues - run a credible campaign against the juggernaut that is Barack Obama. I thought she was the best of the candidates the Democrats fielded, and I thought she deserved the nomination. Apparently this assessment was insufficiently widespread.

But in my mind, there was no question that she ran a good race and part of me - my heart - found it painful to see a woman lose to someone I will always view as less qualified. At the same time my Inner Rethug was pleased, as I believe Barack Obama will be easier to defeat.

As for Palin, I don't know much about her. As a general note, I keenly dislike seeing race and gender play the outsized role they have in this campaign: I don't see this as a step forward for either blacks or women.

On the otter heiny, I can't help reflecting that choosing a relatively inexperienced women was extremely shrewd of the McCain folks. To the extent the Obama folks denigrate her experience and cast aspersions on her ability to lead, they risk re-igniting the burning resentment of not just Hillary supporters, but many other women as well. I won't defend her mindlessly: she's got to prove herself to me. But when the Obama campaign starts right in on her "lack of experience", they risk looking not just disingenuous but patronizing and sexist to a group of people who are already inclined to view Obama that way.

And I think the backlash could well cost them the election.

Posted by Cassandra at 01:38 PM | Comments (197) | TrackBack

Thame Old Thong....

God help us all if Bob Herbert gets wind of this:

Yesterday, ads for Barack Obama appeared on sites for several Clear Channel stations next to links for Red Light Girls, Chicks on Toilets and Thong of the Day.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:16 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 28, 2008

God Plans to Vote for Obama. Who Knew?

This is beyond parody.

In an aside, Darleen takes a swipe at something I noticed the other day:

Then there is how Donald Miller gave the benediction last Monday night at the Democrat Convention:

Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.

Hep (sic) us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.

Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.

A prayer to enact specific Democrat legislation.

Obviously Darleen didn't hear the Right Rev. Cynthia Hale:

Please rise for the invocation, offered by the Reverend Cynthia Hale from Georgia.

REV. CYNTHIA HALE: Good afternoon.

It is my privilege to lead us in prayer.

Great and awesome God, as we gather in this place from all across the length and breadth of this nation, we pause to acknowledge you as the one in whom we live and move and have our being. You, oh, God, created us in your image and likeness and invited us to partner with you in the stewardship of your world.

We are called to be faithful over the Earth, its people and its resources. On this day, as we gather to renew America's promise, we are keenly aware of the challenges American families are facing. People are being hit hard by the economic downturn, the energy crisis and rising food costs. Their spirits are being crushed by the mortgage mayhem, as well as the absence of affordable housing and health care.

Parents desire and deserve to be able to give their children quality and affordable education, from preschool through college. Times are tough. People are struggling. Some have lost hope.

We know, oh, God that this is not your perfect will for any of your people. It is your will that all people have their basic human needs met. It is your desire that all would prosper and be in good health, even as our souls prosper. It is your desire that everyone would be treated with dignity and respect.

As a nation and as a party, we are at a crucial time. We have an opportunity to not only make history, but to bring about change we can all believe in and restore hope to the hearts of women and men.

Unite us as a party, oh God. Let us be one in this common purpose -- to renew our promise so that we might live out our creed to be one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.

In your strong and mighty name we pray.

Amen.

Who among us can know the will of God?

To all appearances, the Rev. Cynthia Hale. And she wants you to know that Almighty God is squarely behind Barack Obama :p

Posted by Cassandra at 06:33 PM | Comments (64) | TrackBack

Classy

via bthun

Posted by Cassandra at 05:15 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Obama Campaign, DNC Crush Dissent

Another mystery solved. At last we know what a community organizer does:

Stanley Kurtz's appearance on the Milt Rosenberg radio program in Chicago last night provided an unsettling look into the authoritarian tactics being employed by the Obama campaign to stifle and intimidate its critics.

I happened to be in the WGN studios for the entire affair because my friend, Zack Christenson, produces the show in question. He was aware of my previous reporting on the Obama-Ayers connection and kindly invited me to sit in on the two-hour interview. (For full disclosure, I work for two other radio stations in Chicago, WIND, and WYLL).

As I arrived at the downtown Chicago studios a few hours before show time, the phones began ringing off the hook with irate callers demanding Kurtz be axed from the program. It didn't take long to discover that the Obama campaign—which had declined invitations to join the show for its duration to offer rebuttals to Kurtz's points—had sent an "Obama Action Wire" e-mail to its supporters, encouraging them to deluge the station with complaints.

Why? Because, naturally, Kurtz is a "right-wing hatchet man," a "smear merchant" and a "slimy character assassin" who is perpetrating one of the "most cynical and offensive smears ever launched against Barack."

Evidently, much of Obama nation is comprised of obedient and persistent sheep. They jammed all five studio lines for nearly the entire show while firing off dozens of angry emails. Many vowed to kick their grievances up the food chain to station management. After 90 minutes of alleged smear peddling, Milt Rosenberg (a well-respected host whose long-form interview show has aired in Chicago for decades) opened the phone lines, and blind ignorance soon began to crackle across the AM airwaves. The overwhelming message was clear: The interview must be put to an end immediately, and the station management should prevent similar discussions from taking place.

Here's the text of the Obama campaign's email (via Memeorandum). Kind of like deja vu all over again, isn't it?

Here, the Swift Boat vets reply to the charges made against them by the DNC. Apparently the letter has been largely unsuccessful - only one station has so far refused to air the ad on advice of counsel.

I decided to look at the actual text of the Swift Boat Vets ad and contrast that with the charges made in the DNC letter to see if the DNC's charges of lying were grounded in fact:

John Edwards: "If you have any question about what John Kerry is made of, just spend 3 minutes with the men who served with him."

Al French: "I served with John Kerry."

Bob Elder: "I served with John Kerry."

What the DNC threat letter says "the advertisement contains statements from men who purport to have served on Senator Kerry's SWIFT Boat in Vietnam"...In fact, not a single one of these men who pretend to have served with Senator Kerry was actually a crewmate of Senator Kerry's and the man pretending to be his doctor was not. The entire advertisement, therefore, is one inflammatory, outrageous lie. ... Not a single one of these men served on either of Senator Kerry's SWIFT boats (PCF44 or PCF94).

Fact check: The DNC's allegation is false - Not a single one of the 12 men in the ad states that he served aboard the same boat, nor that he was a crewmember of Kerry's. French, Hildreth, and Elder don't even say they served with Kerry in Vietnam. Applying standard used in their own letter (one falsehood invalidates the whole), the DNC's allegations are therefore "one inflammatory, outrageous lie".

George Elliott: "John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam."

Al French: "He is lying about his record."

Fact check: The Swift Boat vets are not the only ones to catch the Kerry campaign re-writing the official record. Senator Kerry has been loose with the facts on several occasions. Here and most importantly, here where THE BOSTON GLOBE catches the Kerry online bio taking credit for combat incidents that occurred before Kerry took command.

It's always interesting, what you find out when you start looking into these accusations of "lying". Unfortunately, heavy handed attempts to intimidate local TV and radio stations are nothing new for Democratic presidential candidates. Rather than address allegations on the merits, they prefer to suppress "inconvenient" speech entirely. As I documented carefully several years ago, the Kerry campaign's claims didn't bear close inspection.

But then that's just the point, isn't it? Because close inspection is precisely what they hope to avoid through threats and intimidation. The Swift Vets weren't the only targets of the Kerry campaign's threats - he went after The Club for Growth as well. Seems intimidation has been quite profitable for the DNC - after all, it worked against ABC.

Ruth Marcus asks:

Does it matter that ABC invented and distorted history in its "warning: this is not a documentary" docudrama, "The Path to 9/11"? After all, the first night of the faux drama was trounced by the brother-against-brother actual drama of "Sunday Night Football."

I have a better question for her.

Does it matter to the media that for the first time I can recall in my life, a major TV network was intimidated by the threats of Democrat Senators into censoring the content of a clearly-labeled fictionalized account of a historical event until it conformed to the "government approved" version of events? If this is the standard the Democrat Party wishes to see enforced on Hollywood then Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore's blatantly inaccurate "docudrama", should be immediately pulled from the shelves of American retailers and its content revised until Bush administration officials are satisfied that it agrees with the historical record.

One can't help but wonder how Ms. Marcus would respond if six Republican Senators wrote a letter threatening Congressional action unless he edited the content of a movie to their satisfaction, or better yet, pulled it altogether.

But you see, that wouldn't happen. These people manufacture conspiracies to crush dissent when the Joint Chiefs merely write a polite letter to the editor yet ignore it when their own operatives use federal tax dollars to suppress viewpoints they find "unacceptable".

I guess their professed reverence for free speech and the toleration of dissent only applies so long as it's not their ox being gored.

Update: More "community organizing" by the DNC, from Darleen:

I work with cops. I have a great deal of respect for cops. But this was beyond the pale. This was cops acting as paid thugs for the DNC to keep embarrassing pictures from the press. What fool believes a public sidewalk is owned by a private hotel?

Those so-called Denver cops should be immediately suspended and the DNC should be held accountable.

A picture is worth a thousand words here. Video link at Darleen's place:

abc_eslocker_arrested.jpg

My son is a cop and I agree, 100%. As Glenn Reynolds notes, the "over the top" response by the Obama campaign to any criticism is as revealing as it is counterproductive:

The Ayers connection itself is less interesting to me than the campaign's over-the-top response. It seems to me that they could have put this behind them already, but instead their reaction seems to be fanning the flames.

This YouTuber looked at the McCain account vs. the Obama account and found 36% negative comments on the McCain account. The comments were allowed to stand.

On the Obama account, there were 0 negative comments. And this is the President who promises to listen to opposing voices?

If Obama and his supporters are already indulging in this kind of wine and cheese thuggery, what will he do when he has the power of the federal government at his behest?

Question for the ages: where are Sue Sarandon and Tim Robbins when you need them? If the progressyve community were really serious about bringing back 1968, they appear to have done a bang up job. Sadly, the only thing I feel blowin' in the wind is a very big chill.

Update II: Fausta has lots more on this.

Posted by Cassandra at 02:38 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

August 27, 2008

Time Wasters

What does your favorite color say about your sex life?


How masculine/feminine are you?

Here's a fun one for the ladies: what does your lipstick say about you?

What a hoot! The shower quiz.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:16 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

McCain VP pick.

John Hawkins asks reich wing bloggers three questions. No, not those three questions...

...these three questions:

Out of the following VP candidates rumored to be on McCain's short list, which one DO YOU THINK HE WILL TAKE?

Out of the following VP candidates rumored to be on McCain's short list, which one WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HIM TAKE?

Out of the following VP candidates rumored to be on McCain's short list, which one WOULD YOU LEAST LIKE TO SEE HIM TAKE?

Feel free to opine in the comments section. Grim (meanwhile) asked a good question of his own based on our exchange in the Kay Bailey Hutchison thread which I'd like to add to the mix:

Who is a credible standalone candidate for 2012, in the current field?

I await your thoughts with a keen sense of anticipation.

Posted by Cassandra at 01:08 PM | Comments (97) | TrackBack

Please Tell Me McCain Is Not This Dumb

A stuffed marmoset by parcel post to the lucky reader who can tell me what factor of more than esoteric interest to bitter, God-and-gun clinging folk like yours truly receives nary a mention here?

Posted by Cassandra at 11:55 AM | Comments (36) | TrackBack

Incroyable!

This would be amusing if it weren't so pathetic. For saying he likes Michelle Obama better when she's independent, outspoken, and sometimes controversial (in other words, when she's herself) Richard Cohen is called a racist woman hater by his commenters:


The transformation of Michelle Obama from a bracingly proud contemporary woman -- mother, wife, career woman -- into a prime time Betty Crocker was sad to see. This is not to say that she was not up to the task assigned her Monday night. She spoke well and looked swell. But her speech was like one of those buildings where the interior structure can be seen. You could watch her hit all her marks, answering, point by point, the uninformed criticism: angry, although mighty privileged, black woman. Never mind that that was a canard. Just as much a canard was the woman who spoke almost entirely of motherhood and wifehood and the incredible greatness of America -- a land once of searing racism, which, if mentioned, is seen as proof of irrational rage and for which whites now have three words: get over it.

The transparent purpose of the speech, its kitchy effort to reassure, gave Michelle Obama a glaze of insincerity. In the post-speech commentary, many of the TV types, schooled now in empathy and not objectivity, gave her high marks for what she did. But what she had really done, she had done earlier in her life. Last night, she gave the standard “Log Cabin” speech expected of nearly all American public figures -- born poor, raised in faith, etc. -- with nary a mention of race. It was a speech designed to reassure...

You know identity politics is imploding when it loses the ability to tell friend from foe.

Morons...

Posted by Cassandra at 08:56 AM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

Facts Can Be So Tedious

Wallah!

Andrew Sullivan has conclusively proved Ted Sampley is a big fat liar and a phony. Obviously, the man was never in Vietnam because the Swift Vets never mention him anywhere on their site and surely if they served together, they can't help but remember him. It's getting durned hard to refute brilliance like this.

Sampley can take some comfort in the fact that Sully didn't call him a Christianist.
Them would be fightin' words.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:32 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Interesting Reads

Good morning. The Editorial Staff are attempting to motivate our intrepid staff of itinerant Eskimo typists with a combination of dire threats and liberal doses of caffeine. While you await yet another display of their typing prowess, a few interesting reads from around the 'Net:

FactCheck.org has looked into Obama's claim that pro-life activists are "lying" when they say he supports infanticide:

At issue is Obama's opposition to Illinois legislation in 2001, 2002 and 2003 that would have defined any aborted fetus that showed signs of life as a "born alive infant" entitled to legal protection, even if doctors believe it could not survive.

Obama opposed the 2001 and 2002 "born alive" bills as backdoor attacks on a woman's legal right to abortion, but he says he would have been "fully in support" of a similar federal bill that President Bush had signed in 2002, because it contained protections for Roe v. Wade.

We find that, as the NRLC said in a recent statement, Obama voted in committee against the 2003 state bill that was nearly identical to the federal act he says he would have supported. Both contained identical clauses saying that nothing in the bills could be construed to affect legal rights of an unborn fetus, according to an undisputed summary written immediately after the committee's 2003 mark-up session.

Whether opposing "born alive" legislation is the same as supporting "infanticide," however, is entirely a matter of interpretation. That could be true only for those, such as Obama's 2004 Republican opponent, Alan Keyes, who believe a fetus that doctors give no chance of surviving is an "infant." It is worth noting that Illinois law already provided that physicians must protect the life of a fetus when there is "a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival of the fetus outside the womb, with or without artificial support."

Of particular interest is Sen. Obama's comment on the 2001 Illinois bill (which he also voted against):

... whenever we define a previable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a – a child, a nine-month-old – child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it – it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute.

What the FactCheck article elides right past (and what I continue to find deeply troubling) is the fact that it makes it expressly legal to deliver abort a live fetus and then leave it - unattended - to die. The physician has no duty of care unless, in his or her own judgment, the fetus "has a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival outside the womb, with or without life support".

What doctor in his right mind, accused of having letting a baby that *could* have survived with life support die unattended, is going to scratch his head and say, "Gee whiz... now that you mention it, maybe I made the wrong call? Go ahead and throw me in jail."

As a parent, one of the first things you learn is never to make an unenforceable rule. This strikes me as one such.

0_61_082508_league3.jpgPunishing kids for being competent:

A Connecticut youth baseball team with a phenomenal 9-year-old pitcher has been disqualified because its team is too good.

The team, Will Power Fitness, has an 8-0 record thanks in large part to pitcher Jericho Scott, the New Haven Register reports. His pitching is so fast and accurate, the Liga Juvenil De Baseball De New Haven asked the team's coach, Wilfred Vidro, to replace him so he wouldn't frighten other players.

What a lovely message to teach our children: now inequality of ability is "unfair"? Whatever happened to learning to accept both wins and losses with grace? Losing seasons happen and ability is not always evenly distributed between teams. That's not a bad preparation for life, which isn't always fair either. When my sons played rec soccer, often the "town" teams (vs. the base teams) had kids who went to expensive soccer camps and had skills the base teams, who accepted all players, couldn't easily compete with. We played everyone, every game, where the town teams did not. But a good coach teaches kids to compete with pride, to do their best, to work together, and above all, not to let defeats beat them down. These are valuable coping skills, as in real life it is often the most persistent competitor rather than the most talented who eventually walks off with the prize. How much more valuable would it have been, had the league decided to use this boy's ability to challenge the other players to do their best?

This is just one more manifestation of our education's penchant for promoting self-esteem over ability and effort over achievement - the league lost a 'teachable moment', here. Via a certain Colorado Feline.

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go...

Are fathers necessary? Apparently so:

While a rare condition PWS (Prader-Willi Syndrome) is thought to be the leading cause of genetically caused obesity, its effects can be mitigated by the participation of the father.

The research by University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professor Francisco Ubeda finds that the amount of care a father gives to his child may cause a shift in the syndrome in which its symptoms, in essence, reverse themselves.

In a world where fathers are now considered akin to the appendix, its interesting to find more information that the presence of a father changes the outcomes for the children in drastic ways. Yes I said more, as females raised without a blood father present have lower ages of onset of first menses. That if a human female is raised without a father, or with a stepfather, she matures earlier, and so her time to learn is clipped by biological urges appearing earlier than later.

Personally, this type of research seems like a threat to a woman's total control over her reproductive destiny. It should probably be suppressed immediately.

The Democratic National Convention as musical comedy:

Meanwhile, the allegedly nonpartisan press, fresh off a cover version of "Hopelessly Devoted to You," is doing its best to convey every jot and tiddle of the Obama narrative as given to them by his campaign. They want voters to look at Obama and think "We Go Together." The risk in this, of course, is that the gap between the Democrat call for "change" and "chang chang changity chang shoo bop" is a small one, and either mantra can give your legs a tingly feeling.

So prefabricated Americana hangs in the Denver air like dust motes spiraling through a shaft of sunlight, and paid operatives are desperately trying to bottle patriotism for anyone who harbors doubts about the candidate who edited the Harvard Law Review but never wrote an article for it...

Ouch!

And the Freudian Slip of the Week goes to:

... that's not even to mention good old Charlie Wilson:

"We should be led by Osama bin Laden," he said, then quickly corrected himself. "I mean Obama and Biden."

Honestly, this is the best convention anyone has ever had. The Republicans don't have a chance of topping this.

Via Grim, who is having way too much fun.

And finally, via Glenn, a few thoughts on love. My favorites:

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.' Billy - age 4

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.' Terri - age 4

Yep.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:01 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

August 26, 2008

A Message From Management

The Editorial Staff have not been abducted and impregnated by aliens. We apologize for the bloggy lameness - we are just experiencing technical difficulties negotiating the space-time continuum**

We expect to restore normal programming NTL tomorrow a.m. If you have any questions, concerns, etc., please tune into tonight's live coverage of the DNC. We hear Barack Obama has a plan for that.

Thank you for your patience. We now return you to the usual villainry, mayhem, etc.

** in other words, we have been a busy little bee this week.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:29 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

August 25, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Guard at Guantanamo Bay

Courtesy of Brig. Gen. Gregory Zanetti, deputy commander of the Joint Task Force-GTMO. His summary of a typical daily brief:

“Good morning sir, Chief Simmons Camp 6. We have 112 assigned, 112 present. Last night detainee 765 requested onions and parsley on his salad and requested to see the camp commander regarding his request. 844 wants a better detainee newsletter and 632 has requested a Bowflex machine because he says he is not getting enough of an upper body work out.

“We had 3 significant activities last night: 601 balled up feces and threw it at the guard hitting him in the chest saying next time he would hit him in the mouth. Next, as 155 was being taken to rec, he bit a guard on the arm until it bled. Detainee was not allowed rec and had comfort items removed. When asked why he did it, 155 just laughed. The guard was sent to medical where he is being evaluated. Finally, 767 yelled at female guard saying, ‘I am going to rape you. I am going to rape you. And when I get out of here I am going to kill you and your family.’ Sir, barring any questions, that concludes my report.”

Many may believe the above BUB report is exaggerated or hyperbole. It is not. It could have just as easily been a detainee demanding a lighter gray shirt because the dark gray shirt “hurts his gall bladder.” Or a detainee smearing feces on the walls of his cell. The guards refer to these detainees as “painters” or “poo-cassos.”

What occurs daily inside the wire is a bizarre mixture of the dangerous, the disgusting, and the absurd. And, despite urban legends and misperceptions, any mistreatment or abuse that goes on inside the camps is that of detainee-on-guard, not the reverse.

Here is the aftermath of the BUB.

Detainee 632 did not get his Bowflex machine. The guard who was bitten is fine. We are working on the parsley and onions request, but not too hard. The feces battles never end. In fact, the latest detainee tactic is to grow their fingernails long, put feces underneath the nails and then try to scratch a guard’s face.

Meanwhile, I happen to know the female guard who was verbally abused. Coincidentally we both went to Valley High in Albuquerque, N.M., albeit about 30 years apart. Still, we are both Vikings.

After the briefing, I saw this young soldier and said, “Hey Viking, I heard you had quite a night last night … are you OK?” She said, “Yes sir, I’m fine.”

I looked at her with some skepticism to see if what she was saying were true. What I saw in her eyes surprised me, but shouldn’t have. She really was fine. That detainee’s comments did not bother her in the least.

She is more than he will ever be and she is not alone. Rest assured if the guards at GTMO are any indication, the generation that is now coming of age will do its duty; they will defend our nation with courage, honor, and integrity. So don’t elevate the detainees to sainthood and don’t talk to me about unprofessional behavior, mistreatment or abuse at GTMO, because, frankly, I am more than a little sick of it.

This treatment has been reported by the Associated Press:

The Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group that fought to force the Pentagon to release the reports under the Freedom of Information Act, said it hopes the information brings balance to the Guantanamo debate.

"Lawyers for the detainees have done a great job painting their clients as innocent victims of U.S. abuse when the fact is that these detainees, as a group, are barbaric and extremely dangerous," Landmark President Mark Levin said. "They are using their terrorist training on the battlefield to abuse our guards and manipulate our Congress and our court system."

Though all detainees are foreigners, many are clearly Americanized when it comes to their insults and gestures. Male guards are frequently derided as "donkeys" while female guards are routinely called "bitches" or harassed by references to their breasts or genitalia, the reports said.

In all, nearly a quarter of incidents involved female guards, the reports show.

"They absolutely target female guards," Nicolucci said. "They have a lot of cultural biases about females, and we let them know in our culture that females do everything males do in a professional job environment, and we just hold firm."

James A. Gondles Jr., executive director of the American Correctional Association that sets standards for U.S. prisons, said much behavior inside Guantanamo mirrors that of civilian prisons though the attacks with bodily fluids seem more numerous.

"It happens from time to time at facilities here, but it seems the majority of ... assaults at Gitmo were either spitting, or bodily fluids being thrown on the guards," said Gondles, who has visited Guantanamo twice at the Pentagon's invitation and reviewed the reports at AP's request.

The bodily fluid attacks are so numerous that guards now frequently wear specialized shields to protect their faces.

The incident reports show waves of orchestrated behavior.

For instance, prisoners repeatedly grabbed their guards' whistles over a five-day period in June 2004. In July 2005, guards reported several instances of rock throwing, spitting and flip-flop hitting. Rocks were hidden under shower mats, the reports said.

The incident reports also are noteworthy for information that is missing. With redacted names, it is impossible to tell whether bad behavior is widespread or the work of a few repeat offenders. Likewise, the documents don't tell whether certain guards are prone to confrontation.

Prisoners' hunger strikes, suicide attempts and threats to injure themselves aren't considered disciplinary matters and thus aren't recorded in the incident reports. Yet the Pentagon acknowledges there have been scores of such incidents.

Interesting, what the media choose to emphasize, no?

Posted by Cassandra at 08:36 AM | Comments (30) | TrackBack

August 23, 2008

Is There A Full Moon Or Something?

Shorter Jacob Weisberg:

"You may or may not agree with Obama's policy prescriptions..."

but if you don't vote for him, you do so for one reason and one reason only:

... "the color of his skin."

No disagreement is possible on this question. None. Forget civilized debate, forget the exchange of ideas, forget that whole "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" thing. You see, under an Obama administration only one set of policy preferences will be tolerated: Obama's.

Just ask Jacob. The good thing about this is that when Obama is elected, we'll have a convenient method for identifying the racists: all we have to do is wait and see who criticizes him. Obviously anyone who does so will have revealed himself as a racist, and by their words, we will know them.

It would probably be a good idea to identify them in some way. After all, racists are dangerous people. I'm thinking a gold star.

The idea has historical precedents.

What a whack job. If Jacob wants a rational reason not to vote for Barack Obama, how about the thought that some people can't stand the thought of watching their country being torn apart for the next 8 years by a bunch of whiny, mouth breathing moonbats and their cretinous conspiracy theories?

In over four years of blogging, I have never used the term "moonbat". This is a first for me. That is a sad, sad comment on the travesty this election season has become. I intend it to be the last time I use that term.

And if this is the Obama campaign's idea of uniting America behind the audacity of hopeful change (though I certainly don't blame Barack Obama for Weisberg's idiotic column - in fact, I feel sorry for Mr. Obama) I want no part of it.

Morgan Freeman was right. The best way to get beyond racism is to just treat each other like human beings and stop talking about race.

Knock it off. You are doing real damage to this country.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:42 PM | Comments (159) | TrackBack

August 22, 2008

Top Ten Things I Don't Give A Rat's Ass About This Election Season

The Blog Princess woke in the middle of the night with a deep sense of fear and loathing.

The election is beginning to wear a bit thin.

The candidates have now officially been campaigning since the early Mesozoic Era. There are fossils older than some of the scandals still popping up like Whack-a-Mole between the National Enquirer, Drudge, the MSM, Bill Keller, and the BlatheroSphere. In my more rational moments I suspect there must be one or two decent human beings left somewhere in the universe. I keep hoping someone will do the right thing and refuse to drop another savory Hamsher Pellet into the open jaws of the Beast.

I keep being proven wrong.

I am tired of being whipsawed between the MSM, the blogosphere, and the latest scandal du jour. But most of all, what I'm sick to death of is Us. Because "we" - the seemingly insatiable hunger of both sides in this political slugfest - is what these people keep pandering to. You can't sell dirt without a ready and willing buyer, and day after day we show up looking for something dirty on the opposition.

Why we do this instead of focusing on the issues, instead of discussing what's important: the major events of the day, things that are changing the world as we know it, is a depressing topic in and of itself. I have my ideas, but there's not enough alcohol in the world to make me kiss that pig. So let's change the subject.

I'd like to discuss inconsequential trivia: the top ten things I adamantly refuse to give a rat's ass about. Ten things that, if I never hear mentioned again, I won't miss one bit. For instance:

10. I couldn't care less that John McCain left his first wife years ago. Get the hell over it. The man is divorced. D-I-V-O-R-C-E-D. His marriage ended. It ended badly. There is a word for matters like this, for things that pass between a husband and wife in the bou-doir: "private". Divorce is not a crime in the United States of America. It's not a question of moral turpitude. Sure, I'd rather he'd stayed married, but if I'd spent several years in a North Vietnamese prison camp apart from my wife, I imagine:

(a) we might have grown somewhat apart as a couple, and
(b) I might have a tad bit of emotional baggage to work through as a consequence.

To all appearances the man seems to have coped admirably with a horrific experience I can't even begin to imagine. Cut the guy some slack.

9. What, exactly, is the big deal about John McCain living off his wife's money? Does a former attack plane pilot lose Man Points for using girly money? Are there cooties on it? How is a man supposed to be married to a woman without ever allowing any of their funds - much less other body parts - to co-mingle? And while we're on the subject, is there anything more delicious than watching Green Glennwald twist himself into a nasty little rhetorical pretzel (now with 25% Extra Hypocrisy!) to justify deliberately engaging in what he, himself calls "the deep stupidity of our political discourse"? Deliberately deep stupidity: now *there's* change the reality based community can believe in!

Somehow, the deep stupidity of our political discourse actually manages to escalate during presidential campaigns, becoming even more vapid and idiotic than normal. But, as I argued continuously when I did my book tour in April and May for Great American Hypocrites, this is the kind of campaign the GOP runs every election and in which they specialize, and there are only two options for Democrats in response: (1) purport to "rise above it" and thus ensure that they get slaughtered in a one-sided, one-way War of Personality Demonization which renders issues irrelevant (hence: the all-American Everyman War Hero versus the rich, out-of-touch, effete elitist), or (2) attack the GOP candidate using the same lowly character themes in order to neutralize the attacks and prevent the election from being decided on these grounds. It's good to see the Obama campaign, finally, engaging these issues aggressively.

Translated from the Original Phrench, this equates to:

1. Can you believe how Stupid and Evil Rethugs are?

2. Thankfully, we in the Reality Based Community have superior morals. But nice guys are losers. Sometimes morals must give way to pragmatism.

3. Since we're not only more moral but also smarter, the right moral choice is to out-Stupid and out-Evil your opponent!

4. [The Green Glennwald Corollary] But it only acquires true moral shininess when you do it!

8. Whether Barry Obama is black enough. Or whether he was raised as a Muslim. Or whether he is "too rich" or "too educated". When did the Right begin having a problem with ambition? Though some of the criticism of people saying this is misguided, there are actually folks making these arguments, nutty as they sound.

My opposition to Barack Obama's candidacy springs from his political views and his character, not externalities shared by thousands of other Americans.

7. That John Edwards had an affair.
Trust me, I understand it was wrong. And I don't excuse what he did. And the double standard employed by the media really is inexcusable. But does that mean two wrongs make a right?

Edwards is not the only one involved here, and the spectacle of the press feasting on a family's private agony is just too ugly for words:

It is shameful that the tabloid press has followed him and hounded him into hotel basements and men's rooms and wrecked his wife's remaining life. Freedom of the press is precious, but so is the privacy of a man and woman and baby who are not running for anything. I really wonder if there are any limits on the viciousness of the tabloid press.

And finally, it would be interesting to know about the private life of the media people who presume to judge others I know a lot of them and to say they live in glass houses is putting it mildly.

I understand the hypocrisy issue. Really, I do:

In a posting on Daily Kos, Elizabeth Edwards pleaded for an end to "the present voyeurism." No one wants to add to Elizabeth Edwards's misery. She's been dealt a terrible hand.

Except, he was the one who told us that character counted. As in these remarks about Bill Clinton in 1999: "I think this president has shown a remarkable disrespect for his office, for the moral dimensions of leadership, for his friends, for his wife, for his precious daughter. It is breathtaking to me the level to which that disrespect has risen."

Or, in a March 2007 interview with Katie Couric discussing the return of Elizabeth's cancer: "I think every single candidate for president, Republican and Democratic, have lives, personal lives, that indicate something about what kind of human being they are. And I think it is a fair evaluation for America to engage in to look at what kind of human beings each of us are, and what kind of president we'd make."

What was Elizabeth Edwards thinking, sitting there with her husband the philanderer and Couric?

In fact, if she wanted to avoid "the present voyeurism," what was she thinking when she supported his running? She knew about his affair, she knew that everything about a presidential candidate's life is at risk of exposure, and she encouraged him? If she cared about shielding her family from this terrible intrusion, what did she think was going to happen if he won the nomination -- or the presidency?

But sometimes I wonder. Is there anything we are willing to leave public servants in the age of 24/7 TV and Internet scrutiny? Is there any private space to be human, to screw up, to make mistakes, to have (as Shakespeare's protagonists all did) tragic but in the end understandably human flaws?

My God, who would go into public life, knowing what we ask? Not me. Who would subject their family - their children - to this hell?

6. What Barry-the-Human-Barometer Thinks about the Surge... this week:

It's a miracle! Once again The Lightworker has brought his special brand of Audacious Hope to another failed state. I'm so sure the years my husband and thousands of other Marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors have spent over there had nothing to do with it. You know, I have a feeling one day we'll all look back on this week and realize that THIS is the moment when the world began to heal.

Stay classy, Barry.

5. Whether John McCain and every "Christianist" POW who ever served with him in Vietnam imagined, made up, or were abducted and impregnated by space aliens who hypnotized them and forced them to recite the "cross in the dirt" story when they heard the words "CONE OF SILENCE":

Andrew Sullivan is not giving up and is linking to a Bud Day ad (Day was a P.O.W. with McCain and is a Medal of Honor winner) for John McCain that doesn't mention the cross story in a effort to make the case that the cross-in-the-dirt story is made up. The Day excerpt:

"Christmas of 1971 was centered around scripture that John had gotten from the first Bible we had been able to get from the Vietnamese," Day says in the first radio ad. "John composed an extremely compelling sermon that night about the importance of Christmas ... I think it was certainly a shot to everyone's morale to hear those Christian words in that very un-Christianlike place."

I've already linked to another Bud Day story on McCain's Christian beliefs. Rather then undercut the argument that McCain is a Christian, Sullivan and Co. are actually making the argument that McCain's religious beliefs have a depth that most voters never knew.

Eventually this will pass. I look forward to moving on and discussing more pressing issues like health care. And when we do, in fact, move on, friends of Senator McCain, like Bud Day, can talk about McCain's experience as a combat medic:

4. Who the father of Rielle Hunter's baby is.

You know what? This is NONE OF ANYONE'S DAMNED BUSINESS, whether you are on the right or the left. Who cares? Leave these people alone.

If you are on the right, try being happy this woman didn't have an abortion. Stop calling for a paternity test. And for God's sake, get a life of your own.


3. Who Barack Obama is going to pick for VP.

Does anyone care about this anymore? This man has got to be the world's biggest dick tease. Jenna Jameson is calling him for lessons. Mercy.

2. How many homes John McCain’s dog, wife, sheep, cow, wholly-owned subsidiary, or former mistress whom no-one can conclusively prove actually had an affair with him but someone got a reeeeeeeally hot tip that was considered “substantial” enough to go to press with owns:

John McCain's family owns at least eight properties — not the seven Democrats are alleging or the four McCain's staff identified — according to a Politico analysis of property and tax records, as well as interviews.

John McCain's family owns at least eight properties — not the seven Democrats are alleging or the four McCain's staff identified — according to a Politico analysis of property and tax records, as well as interviews.

The presumptive Republican nominee, though, may have some wiggle room in explaining why he couldn't immediately provide an answer when asked by Politico how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own. Sen. McCain himself does not own any of the properties. They're all owned by Cindy McCain, her dependent children and the trusts and companies they control!!!!

Shocking, I know. And now we can all sleep at night again.

And the #1 Thing I Do Not Give a Rat's Rosy Pink Patootie About....

[drum roll]

1. Conspiracy theories over Barack Obama's birth certificate, or either candidate's eligibility to serve as President.

Whatever you people are smoking, all I have to say is, "Can you please pass some of it my way?"

Because it appears to be some really mind blowing stuff. Two hits of whatever you've been puffing away at and we'll all be ready to swear Dick Cheney is the illegitimate love child of Val Plame and Karl Rove.

And who knows... maybe it's even true.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:15 AM | Comments (76) | TrackBack

August 21, 2008

Joy

Teaching children to love what is beautiful, they learn to appreciate that which transcends culture, race, ideology:

At Harvard's Graduate School of Education, Howard Gardner has long taught his theory of multiple intelligences to enable his students, when they enter their own classrooms, to understand and nurture these various strengths in the youngsters they teach. As explained by a Gardner practitioner, second-grade teacher Christine Passarella, in last fall's Adelphi University newsletter: "In the past, if you had linguistic intelligence, if you could read and write, you were smart. If you had mathematical and logical intelligence, you still got credit for that. But what if you had musical intelligence or what if you had kinetic intelligence? You see that with musicians and athletes. So Howard Gardner says there are gifts in all of us and it's up to us to teach to those."

Teaching in the Holliswood School, P.S. 178 in Jamaica Estates, Queens, she says, "I have worked on wonderful projects on artful thinking with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Children studied paintings not just about the artist and his style but to look at the relationships between the characters in the painting, and the setting. It's a way of developing thoughtful dispositions."

Ms. Passarella told me that she teaches "in a looped classroom that gave me two years to develop my program with the same children, starting in the first grade. I began mixing great works of art with classical music; and over time I introduced rock, the blues and jazz."

A childhood friend, blues guitarist Joey Leone, had at first introduced her to the music of John Coltrane, and when she played his recordings "the children were drawn to the range of feelings in the songs as I gave them the backgrounds of the compositions.

"'Alabama,' for example, was about Martin Luther King and racial discrimination; and while 'My Own True Love' concerned a man and a woman, John Coltrane's 'Love Supreme' expressed a love for humanity."

This reminded me that in one of my conversations with Coltrane he said he was searching for the sounds of what Buddhists call "Om," which he described as the universal essence of all of us in the universe. He also told me regretfully, "I'll never know what the listeners feel from my music, and that's too bad."

Ms. Passarella's second-grade students, she says, would have told him how moved they were by not only the ballads "but the more avant-garde recordings, such as 'Interstellar Space.'" She notes that, through her teaching, "I have discovered that young children have open, welcoming minds, and the more pure and emotional the music, the more they connect. Soon they were hooked on John Coltrane's music."

The children learned that Coltrane lived in Dix Hills -- a hamlet on Long Island not all that far from their school -- from 1964 to his death in 1967 (his family sold the home in 1972). And they were saddened to discover that the house -- where he composed "A Love Supreme" and all his last works -- had been in danger of being demolished by the real-estate developer who now owned it. But they and their teacher soon were excited by the news that a resident of Dix Hills, Steve Fulgoni, a longtime jazz enthusiast, had come to the rescue of the Coltrane home.

...Starting what he calls a "grass-roots effort" to save the house -- aided by news coverage in New York City and Long Island newspapers and on television -- Mr. Fulgoni eventually persuaded the Town of Huntington, of which Dix Hills is a part, to make the building a local landmark; in 2005, the town bought the home from the developer. It has since been listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places -- with the ownership transferred to "Friends of the Coltrane Home," whose board includes Coltrane's son, Ravi; Ravi's wife, Kathleen Hennessy; and Mr. Fulgoni. Before her death, John Coltrane's widow, Alice, was an enthusiastic proponent of restoring the house.

But the structure, left untended for years, requires much fund raising to become what the Coltranes would like it to be -- "a place of learning" where, for example, Coltrane's Meditation Room would change into a multimedia room for schoolchildren. Contributions can be sent to Friends of the Coltrane Home, P.O. Box 395, Deer Park, N.Y., 11729 (www.the coltranehome.org).

Among the more dedicated recent fund-raisers were Ms. Passarella's second-graders. They engaged in raffles, cake sales and a book fair. Then, their teacher tells me, on May 23 of this year -- at a special assembly program in Coltrane's honor -- "they sang their original songs and choreographed ballroom dances." One was named "Chasin' the Train" (Trane was his nickname).

I've often said children come to appreciate things more when they aren't just handed to them. These second graders were given a priceless gift by their teacher:

What they earned for themselves - and for others - is the capacity to experience a few moments of grace, infinitely suspended in time. May they enjoy it for the rest of their lives.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:09 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Creeping Incidentalism Alert

Along about 4 a.m., the Blog Princess was slowly lured into something vaguely resembling consciousness by the gurgling of the coffee pot. Carefully opening a jaundiced eye, she took stock of the Clueless White Guy she graciously allows to infest the Marital Bed:

Pros:

Pays bills
Diligent about servicing cars, other things, regularly
Nice chest hair
Lots of muscles
Better than hot water bottle at night
Brings flowers and other nice things
Makes me laugh
Spider removal

Cons:

Won't admit I am always right and he is always wrong
Needs to work on the whole sarcasm thing
Won't ask for directions
Bogarts remote control
Issues with accepting authority (odd ... he seems to be fine with rank structure at work!?!)
Impractical. Spends too much of disposable income on thongs and other fripperies he can't even use.

As she studied him in the pre-dawn darkness, she tallied up the list of recent grievances in her mind, sleepily wondering what fresh hell he had in mind for her today. Men are so brutal and callous. Everyone knows women are just as strong as men; we're fully capable of coping in a man's world. So when will they finally begin to treat us as the strong, empowered equals we are?

Why don't our schools teach those knuckle draggers not to run roughshod over our delicate, flower-like sensibilities?

...in the way of explanation, much of today's ideologically driven curriculum entails group-related skin thinning. Courses in Women Studies, for example, entail leaning to see once hidden victimization, e.g., all sex is rape. Meanwhile, those enrolled in Queer Studies 101 will come to grasp that even the very idea of "normal" is a plot to stigmatize those who just want to be different. Now students "progress" into wisdom by learning to "see" oppression everywhere, and the grand prizes go to the most ingenious at sensing what have never even been imagined. Competition can be fierce, and we should note that last year's Grand Champion was a feminist scholar who proved that Darwinism is a male plot to impose the idea of competition on naturally non-competitive women.

Exactly. How are we ever going to demand our rights as equally strong equals if mean old nasty men don't *let* us compete with them on a level playing field? How are we ever going to reclaim our own self esteem if men keep making us work for it as though we had some sort of control over what we think of ourselves?

Good nightshirt. Got logic? The truth is that, as these smart, smart folks are quick to point out, Teh Patriarchy is always trying to put one over on us:


Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq who will soon take control of Central Command, has found himself embroiled in the “ongoing conflict over religious proselytizing in the U.S. military.” Petraeus’ published endorsement of an Army Chaplain’s Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, in which he says “it should be in every rucksack for those times when soldiers need spiritual energy,” has led a watchdog group to call for Petraeus’ dismissal and court martial. The book’s author now claims that the endorsement wasn’t meant to be published:

But the endorsement - which has spurred a demand by a watchdog group for Petraeus’ dismissal and court martial on the grounds of establishing a religious requirement on troops - was a personal view never intended for publication, the book’s author now says.

“In the process of securing … comments for recommending the book I believe there was a basic misunderstanding on my part that the comments were publishable,” McCoy said in an Aug. 19 email to Military.com. “This was my mistake.”

Mikey Weinstein, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says that it “strains credulity” that Petraeus didn’t know his private written endorsement of the book had been public since last year. But Petraeus’ spokesman Col. Steven Boylan says Petraeus was unaware because he has been in Iraq since February 2007.

"Strained credulity" is right. Everyone knows that our brave, murdering troops are not too bright, or they wouldn't be in Irak in the first place. Some people are tempted to think that people like my spousal unit may actually have IQs barely above room temperature, just because they went to good colleges and even have Masters' degrees in fields like Econometric Analysis. But in reality, this is all a clever feint, carefully arranged years ago by the BushReich.

How they did all of this in the past 8 years, I am not certain. Bush is not too smart. After all, the man choked on a pretzel for Christ's sake, and the esophagus is located pretty near the brain.

I have not figured out how the Chimp managed to fool so many people who are smarter than he is. It is one of the enduring mysteries of our time: I mean, if the man is blitheringly incompetent and inept, how does he simultaneously manage the whole fiendishly clever/Machiavellian shtick? But he did, and now he is preparing to usher in a Thousand Years of Jackbooted Theocracy. This much is obvious, because everyone knows the average military person is so dense that a single endorsement on the back of a religious book no one is forced to buy has the power to impel troops - in the field, in barracks or in garrison - posthaste to their PCs. Yes, off they'll go, lemming-like, to Amazon.com, where they will have no choice but to fork over their hard earned pay (no doubt the poor dears will have to make a choice between eating, paying the rent or being Baptized by the Light, all thanks to the oppression of one David Petraeus, Jackbooted Oppressor).

The fiend.

You know. Because military folks are all alike. They have no independent will of their own. They're incapable of distinguishing a personal opinion about a book ("I think this is a useful resource") from a direct order ("You will buy this book, or else").

Full disclosure here:

I happen to believe in God.

I haven't attended church in quite some time.

Jackbooted attempts to shut down free speech in the armed forces only make me feel like running right out and buying 50 copies of this book to spite the jackass who is making such a big deal over this. I don't believe for one second that a man who has abstained from voting in U.S. elections for years in order to remain above the appearance of partisanship would knowingly have given a written endorsement to be used in selling a book.

But even if he did, that is all it is: a personal endorsement, not a command order to purchase the book. Words have meaning:

"General Petraeus has, by his own hand, become a quintessential poster child of this fundamentalist Christian religious predation, via his unadulterated and shocking public endorsement of a book touting both Christian supremacy and exceptionalism," Weinstein told Military.com Aug. 16.

And by endorsing a book that argues only those who believe in God can fully contribute to the military mission or unit, Weinstein contends that Petraeus insults ""the integrity, character and veracity of approximately 21 percent of our armed forces members who choose not to follow any particular religious faith."

He said that even if Petraeus offered his comments personally, that's a distinction without a difference. "Privately he's denigrating 21 percent of troops," Weinstein said. Suppose he privately denigrated women, African-Americans or Jews? Weinstein asked.

"He should still be relieved of duty and court martialed," he said.

Rev. Billy Baugham, a retired Army chaplain and executive director of the International Conference of Evangelical Christian Endorsers, backs Petraeus' right to plug the book. Past generals, among them George C. Marshall and George Patton, made the case for religion in the ranks.

Marshall claimed that the Soldier's spiritual life was critical to his morale, even more than equipment, while Patton, said Baugham, had a chaplain pray for good weather for an coming battle and then submitted him for an Army Commendation Medal afterwards, when the weather turned out clear.

"So the ICECE would support what General Patreaus has done," Baugham said.

This in-Duh-vidual is doing his utmost to make the Air Force look stupid and overzealous.

Military personnel do not lose the right to their opinions when they don the uniform of the United States of America. They do not lose the right to the free exercise of religion - and more importantly, the free exercise of Christianity does not denigrate other religions. I have personally overheard religious observances in base chapels that were extremely intolerant of other religions and other ethnicities, and these religious groups were allowed to spout their divisive, openly racist, deeply troubling and hate filled messages with no repercussions because they were not Christian.

It is time for our government to stop persecuting Christians just because they can get away with it. If one religion is protected, they must all be protected. It truly is that simple.

And it is time for DoD to stop bowing to blackmail. Secretary Gates is a smart man. He needs to put his foot down.

Unless, of course, he wishes to prove the junior Senator from Massachusetts right:

Posted by Cassandra at 06:08 AM | Comments (35) | TrackBack

August 20, 2008

Wednesday Evening Jam

Amazing. Sometimes I get such a kick out of the blogosphere.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

It's Twue, It's Twue!!!

The women *do* get prettier at closing time. Who knew?

For the first time, scientists have proven that "beer goggles" are real — other people really do look more attractive to us if we have been drinking.

However, you may want to watch the Corona Effect:

Surprisingly, the beer goggles effect was not limited to just the opposite sex among the ostensibly straight volunteers recruited for the study — they also rated people from their own sex as more attractive.

Scientists in England gave 84 heterosexual college students chilled lime-flavored drinks that were either non-alcoholic or given a dose of vodka equivalent in alcohol to a large glass of wine or a pint-and-a-half of beer.

After 15 minutes, the volunteers were shown photos of 40 other college students from both sexes. Both men and women who drank booze found these faces more attractive, "a roughly 10 percent increase in ratings of attractiveness," said researcher Marcus Munafo, an experimental psychologist at the University of Bristol in England.

The researchers also asked volunteers to rate their mood, "and there were no differences on those measures in the alcohol group compared to the no-alcohol group," Munafo added. "This suggests that the effect we observed wasn't due to a general change in mood."

It did not escape Munafo that the results are rather obvious.

"Everyone knows about beer goggles," Munafo said. "But some of our results suggest that there's more going on than we might have thought."

The Editorial Staff has no comment at this time, other than that we find ourselves strangely thirsty...

Posted by Cassandra at 04:41 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Time Waster

Help us name our next grand child!

Posted by Cassandra at 06:49 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

In Kirkuk, Iraqi Women Form Thin Blue Line Against Terror

In the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, Iraqi women step up to the plate in the war on terror:

080818_sod_med.jpg

Thirty-seven females attended the first day of training at the Kirkuk Police Academy outside of Kirkuk City, Aug. 16.

It’s been a year since the academy has seen any Iraqi females in blue, and never a class of this size.

“We need these females badly,” Lt. Col. Muid, a cadre at the academy said. “It is our religious custom not to touch our women, so we cannot search females. Our female IPs will be extremely important to use at checkpoints and government buildings throughout the province.”

The cadre pointed out that they would also be bringing a different perspective to policing.

“Women think differently than men,” he said. “They will bring fresh ideas to how we conduct business.”

The 37 females are split into squad-like elements. Each squad will have a female military police Soldier assisting - Sgt. 1st Class Sumalee Bustamante and Spc. Jennifer Swierk.

“This is going to be a big challenge,” Swierk said, referring to the cultural differences, “but I’m proud to be a part of this page in Kirkuk’s, if not Iraq’s history.”

“This is going to be an amazing experience for all of us,” Bustamante added. “I’m looking forward to helping my fellow female police officer and being a part of the positive historic changes occurring here.”

For Nowal, 30, a trainee who has never held a job and lives with her brother - also a member of the Kirkuk police force - the experience so far has her realizing she has a lot of work ahead of her.

“I am very tired,” she said of the first day of training. However, she is determined to “serve my country.”

In lieu of the recent increase in female suicide bombers, these women are undaunted by the dangers of the field they have chosen. When asked what they would do if they were to spot one at a check-point, as a group they did not hesitate to answer:

“Man or women, if you come through our check point we will stop you.”

“Terrorists are not welcome in the province of Kirkuk,” Intesar, 29, said. “They are not Iraqis - they are not Muslim. It is not our way.”

This is just one more hopeful sign that Iraq is finally on the path to normalcy:

In the southern Rishad valley of Kirkuk province lies the remote village of Gaydah, located several miles off the nearest main road and even further from the nearest substantial city or district.

Already accustomed to seclusion, the village residents were surprised when Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division showed up in their community in February. The residents were more surprised when they announced that they would set up operations there; living and working with the residents for the next two months.

Operating from within a schoolhouse in the area, the Soldiers spent the next several weeks meeting with the villagers, providing humanitarian aid, rebuilding infrastructures, and planning future civil service projects.

The mission complete, Soldiers left. But they returned Aug. 20, along with members of the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, to receive updates and determine plans of action.

... Until recently, the U.S. government has provided American dollars for all projects, with the Coalition forces conducting the labor and Iraqi Security Forces following their lead. The focus is now being completely transformed, with the Iraqi people in charge of all future projects, while Coalition forces step in the background, assisting only when necessary.

Relationships such as the one occurring between U.S. Forces and the village of Gaydah are emerging all over the country, signifying the kind of change the world hoped to see when operations first began here.

Such changes have been increasingly evident in the Kirkuk region, where Coalition forces have witnessed security gains measured as a 67 percent reduction in total attacks across the province, according to military reports.

In the words of Capt. Gregory Hotaling, commander, Company D, 2-22 Inf. Regt:

“When I talk to my family and friends back home, they want to know what it’s really like over here and if we are truly making a difference,”

“Each time, I have explained to them the kind of change they have not witnessed yet. Battles and lethal operations have long ago ceased to be priorities. Our focus now is a return to normalcy – living and working and interacting with the Iraqi people. Positive changes are happening every day. They might not be big or flashy, but they are making lasting improvements that have already put victory for the Iraqi people within their reach.”

Posted by Cassandra at 06:24 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

August 19, 2008

You Go, Girl!

You have to love a womyn who is in touch with her own Inner Psycho:

... I do not feel that I am insane at all, and am resisting the definition of sanity because it seems itself insane to me. It makes no sense to me that people who have visions must hide for fear of being branded crazed or a witch.

I knew from a very early age that I was crazed and a witch by patriarchal definition. I knew too however, because I was shown it by a being from another dimension who appeared to me and said: "You will talk about the (female) Shekkinah and her temple priestess and be a witness for he/she/ it. You are the only one in your world who is not crazy , and you will always need to reverse what is being said and then reverse it double. Here is the code you will use to stay sane in an insane world: You will see signs that tell you that you are right. If you do not see the sign immediately, then it is not a sign. Signs happen immediately and not outside the NOW. The sign that you are right will be: everyone thinks YOU are crazy. They will shake their heads roll their eyes, argue or ignore you, but they will always appear not to listen...the only ones who do listen will be the insane and the drunkard...then you will have reached the higher place, and that is the place where fame and money mean nothing to you...then and only then will you be able to plant the seed of the tree of life, and help to raise an army of the insane who will using their combined insanity, recreate reality as a place so insane that it will actually worship inner peace."

{I knew at age three that this plane called "existence" was a correction, a punishment, a prison where the realization that witnessing for (christ) Higher Mind meant being cut off from the world. I realized that this place is hell itself, and that we go up and down the ladder of that realization.

At the top of the ladder is the positive negative and at the bottom is the negative positive. In between those two poles are the rungs of consciousness of polarities.

Reviling one of the poles as untouchable allows it to attach to you. (freud said where there is a fear there is a wish). The only way to cure insanity is by paying homage to its' force field and then telling it about the FACT that it serves sanity not defeats it. How do we do that ? We gird ourselves with a shield called truth, which destroys resistance and we become brave enough to reconcile opposites! When you are using the laser of your mind to witness truth to darkness, you are removing yourself from hell and fulfilling your duty to humanity}.

When those who have no visions regard you as insane, you are assured that you have planted within their reality the seeds that grow completely protected in their dreamstate, and remain dormant there until the dreamer hears the magic word and awakens. The word is: "mind'seye". (adonai). the mind's eye is where all battles begin and end, and where the pharmaceutical-military industrial complex now targets as the new battleground....cyberspace on the net.

In an age where economic hardship may force helpless American schoolkids to allow themselves to be herded onto giant yellow deathtraps built by the Patriarchy, we desperately need this kind of breathtaking intellectual
clarity. Now if she can just save us from Brangelina, a new Progressyve Age of Light and Reason will be ushered in where dissenting viewpoints will be greeted with that form of enlightened tolerance we've all come to expect from the Left:

all celeb news is calling me to come on their shows and talk about my "attack" on brangelina. They say nothing about my attacks on howard dean, pumas, obama, hillary, maureen dowd, bush cheney, pelosi, congress, religion capitalism and satan though...I liked angelina til i heard her say she likes insane mccain for potus. By the way, I think elizabeth hasselberg is a f'r s're closet case that wants to get whipped by sherri shepherd in a black corset while old babs slaps a riding crop on both of their exposed butt-oxes.

Word.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:39 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

And The Bride Wore White....

Ah! Young Love! It is so inspiring, no? Who among us does not find that weddings bring a tear even to the most jaded orb?

The wedding was on a Michigan beach, the reception was in an art gallery -- but a former Chicago couple's wedding night was spent in separate jail cells after both bride and groom got shocked by a police Taser and arrested at their raucous reception.

Andy Somora and Anna Pastuszwska's July 19 wedding reception in tiny Lakeside, Mich., is still the talk of the town after officers from 14 police departments swarmed the art gallery to quell a melee. The groom's father, uncle, aunt and cousin -- several of whom hail from Villa Park and La Grange Park -- also got arrested.

"The short version of the story is they didn't want to quit their partying," said Mike Sepic, Berrien County, Mich., chief assistant prosecutor. "If you put this in the class of wedding receptions gone bad, I guess this would take the cake."

And the story didn't end after the reception. Two nights later, the bride and groom were again arrested in Michigan -- and again shocked by a stun gun -- after struggling with police investigating a noise complaint, Sepic said. The groom was charged with pushing his new wife down during that incident, but the charge was later dropped as part of a plea bargain, Sepic said.

Key quote:

Wedding photographer Kacper Skowron, a friend of the bride, said the party was "civilized" and "top-notch," with guests from around the country.

At least until:

...fueled by alcohol, it got out of control and potentially dangerous, including when a guest heaved a metal lamp into a plate glass window. "Calling the police was a last resort," [gallery owner] Burnison said.

Fascists.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:15 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

August 18, 2008

Oooooh.... Lookee Here! It's A Trope!!!!

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Andy.

Andy who?

And he just keeps on digging...

Many readers have noted that versions of this story - attributed to Solzhenitsyn by Chuck Colson - have been a staple of evangelical sermons for a very long time. They aren't always attributed to Solzhenitsyn, but this sermon, preached by Father Luke Veronis, is a classic of the genre. It's a trope, a kind of urban legend in evangelical circles - and, of course, rooted in deep spiritual truth. Used in a sermon as a way to talk about Christ's redeeming power is one thing. Actually saying it happened to you in a specific place and time is another.

And of course, none of this would be salient were it not for the obvious motive for coopting the story. McCain has never been a very devout man. He doesn't come across that way in his first account of the story; and he doesn't come across that way now. But as the Christianists took over the GOP, he must have understood that this was a problem - especially against Bush in 2000. So in 1999, the story, already poignant and true in its particulars, changes into a much more grandiloquent and sectarian affair, echoing deep evangelical themes and tropes.

Yee ha. Don't look under the bed tonight folks.

Especially if you've had too much ice cream. The last thing you want to find is the ghost of big Al Solzhenitsyn, prancing around amorously in one of them trope thingies....

Enough to give a person nasty memories:

This kind of personal attack was repulsive coming against Kerry from the far right. And it's repulsive the other way round. Both Kerry and McCain served their country honorably; and their records should be revered, period. You can make an argument against McCain's foreign policy experience and judgment on its merits. Do it and leave this crap out of it.

Did Sully really say that? Well, what he actually meant was that their records ought to be revered unless Sully-ing them became politically expedient... in which case it's not strictly necessary to find proof before launching one of those 'repulsive personal attacks' he used to abhor:

I've also been unable to locate the actual alleged passage in the Gulag Archipelago that is referred to in Luke Veronis' "The Sign Of The Cross." (If anyone does, please let me know.) But a reader notes that the story of Solzhenitsen and the cross in the dirt was popularized by evangelical leader and former Watergate crook, Chuck Colson. The anecdote appears in Colson's 1983 book, "Loving God."

Oops. As to "when McCain first told the story," that little question appears to have been cleared up. But you know those POW types. Inveterate liars, they are:

"I experienced what I couldn't imagine human nature was capable of," Denton said. "I witnessed what my comrades could rise to. Self-discipline, compassion, a realization there is a God." He also experienced periodic compassion from the North Vietnamese. Sometimes the guards would weep as they tortured him. One experience, he will never forget. Denton kept a cross, fashioned out of broom straws, hidden in a propaganda booklet in his cell. The cross was a gift from another prisoner. When a guard found the cross, he shredded it. Spat on it. Struck Denton in the face. Threw what was left of the cross on the floor and ground his heel into it. "It was the only thing I owned," Denton said.

Later, when Denton returned to his cell, he began to tear up the propaganda booklet. He felt a lump in the book. He opened it. "Inside there was another cross, made infinitely better than the other one my buddy had made," Denton said. When the guard tore up the cross, two Vietnamese workers saw what happened and fashioned him a new cross. "They could have been tortured for what they did," Denton said.

Don't be fooled by the scars. And the trite, made-for-TV PR tales. We all know there were no Christianists in North Vietnam back in the day.

Andy knows better. After the divisive politics of the past 8 years, this is change we can believe in.

Yes, America isn't what she once was, but Obama and his followers are doing their level best to make us proud of ourselves again.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:47 PM | Comments (50) | TrackBack

The Lightworker Will Not Be Pleased...

...then again, perhaps dissent will still be considered the highest form of patriotism under an Obama administration:

The steady -- but not total -- withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is freeing up forces to fight in Afghanistan. But Afghanistan is not the central front in the war on terror. Al Qaeda is hiding in Pakistan, a nation we are not going to invade.

We can always hope.

Posted by Cassandra at 12:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Juror Nullification

For those in the half vast readership with a propensity to wordsmithery, the title of this post is intentional - "juror" nullification vs. jury nullification. In the interests of amusing the readership and enlightening the Editorial Staff, we have decided to institute a new feature, aptly named: "Ensmarten Cass".

As one might guess, the bar is not set particularly high here.

Today's "Ensmarten Cass" question is a no brainer. When is it acceptable for a lone juror to deliberately ignore his sworn oath, disobey the judge's instructions to the jury, and single-handedly declare federal statutes invalid?

It was supposed to be just another federal drug prosecution. The federal prosecutors introduced evidence that the man on trial was involved in the black market drug trade. The defense attorney said the government agents entrapped his client. And then the twelve citizen-jurors retired to deliberate the outcome of the case.

But then something unusual happened. The jury sent a note to the trial judge with the following query: Since the Constitution needed to be amended in 1919 to authorize federal criminal prosecutions for manufacturing and smuggling alcohol, a juror wanted to know from the judge where “is the constitutional grant of authority to ban mere possession of cocaine today?”

That’s a fair question. It is a point that has been made in Cato’s publications (go here (pdf) and here (pdf)) and a point that has been made by Justice Clarence Thomas, among many others. Federal District Court Judge William Young was startled. He says he has been on the bench for 30 years and has never faced a situation where a juror was challenging the legitimacy of a criminal law. Young tried to assure the jury that the federal drug laws are constitutional because the Supreme Court has interpreted the commerce clause quite expansively. When the jury sent out more notes about a juror that wasn’t going to sign off on an unconstitutional prosecution, Young halted the proceedings to identify the ”problem juror.” Once discovered, that juror was replaced with an alternate–over the objections of defense counsel. Shortly thereafter, the new jury returned with guilty verdicts on several cocaine-related charges.

It is an extraordinary thing for a judge to meddle with the jury in the middle of its deliberations. So, to justify his removal of the “problem juror,” a man named Thomas Eddlem, Judge Young issued a 40-page memorandum of law (pdf). I happen to know and respect Judge Young. I invited him to speak here at Cato about the awful federal sentencing guidelines, but his legal memorandum in this case is remarkably thin. I will briefly respond to his substantive arguments below.

A few facts about the juror in question which confused your hostess:

1. Promises? Aw heck - he meant whatever he was swearing to ... at the time:

the jury... had taken an oath to consider only the evidence and to heed the judge's instructions...

2. The judge specifically instructed the jurors that:
..they could not consider constitutional questions..."

3. The sufficiency of the evidence was not an issue:

Federal prosecutors presented evidence that Luisi orchestrated drug sales in the Boston area. Luisi had been tried and convicted of the same charges in 2002 before another federal judge, but the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial.

...and

Last week Eddlem said he would have voted to convict Luisi in a state court; he simply felt there were no grounds for a federal prosecution.

4. Principles? Again, negotiable. But sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omlette, no?

He opposes nullification, he added in an e-mail, but judges who ignore the Constitution pose a far greater threat than a "handful of 'nullification' radicals."

Given the considerations above, I await my eventual ensmartenment with the deepest imaginable fervor. Bonus points for mentioning England's Magna Carta or the idea we are, each of us, a virtual fifth branch of government unto ourselves capable of unilaterally nullifying federal statutes and issuing binding precedents on various Constitutional questions with no more legal training than your average Capuchin. The wisdom of crowds, indeed.

Empowering thought, ain't it? You've got to love those Founding Dudes. If we keep up this line of thought, eventually some of us may have as much power as Bill Keller.

Update: A little historical context on jury nullification. Unfortunately due to work constraints, the Princess was unable to do any reading about jury nullification until just now, so I've been making what I see as the logical and moral case against it. Here is a more history-based approach:

...in pre-revolutionary days, colonists lived under what they deemed an undemocratic, tyrannical government. The jury became a shield, where colonists could be judged by members of their own communities, and it was considered their only means for democratic expression. Second, the entire premise of democracy, in both pre- and post-independence days, demanded popular control of all facets of government. There was also a practical side to granting juries such unyielding control of trials: early colonial judges were essentially laymen selected from among their peers, and they often knew no more law than did the jurors.

However, once the United States established itself and a new republican form of government was developed, the will of the people became expressed through popular election of representatives and the enactment of their own laws. As nullification of the law would constitute a frustration of the popular will, the issue became essentially moot. Jury nullification was no longer considered necessary or desirable in a democratic society. Concomitantly, the role of judges as those who decided issues of law became enmeshed with traditional trial procedure. Not until more than 100 years later did the U.S. Supreme Court have to address the issue. In the case of Sparf and Hansen v. United States, 156 U.S. 51, 15 S. Ct. 273, 39 L. Ed. 343 (1895), it unequivocally determined that, in the federal system at least, there was no right to jury nullification. The opinion noted,

[Juries] have the physical power to disregard the law, as laid down to them by the court. But I deny that … they have the moral right to decide the law according to their own notions or pleasure. On the contrary, I hold it the most sacred constitutional right of every party accused of a crime that the jury should respond as to the facts, and the court as to the law … This is the right of every citizen, and it is his only protection.

Sometimes, it hurts to be this good... :p Seriously, I have made this point elsewhere.

Notwithstanding a judiciary that denied jurors the right to nullify, over the years, jurors have continued to use their power to do so. The power is most often wielded when jurors believe that an acquittal is justified for reasons that the law does not officially recognize. Examples include controversial social issues such as motorcycle helmet laws, ABORTION and right-to-life issues, medicinal use of marijuana, and EUTHANASIA.

In 1997, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a juror's intent to nullify the law was JUST CAUSE for dismissal from the jury.

The case of United States v. Thomas, 116 F.3d 606 (2d Cir. 1997) involved an African-American juror's dismissal from the criminal jury trial of five African–Americans on drug charges. However, the narrow opinion also reversed the convictions of the five defendants and remanded the matter for a new trial. Although the court ruled that a juror's refusal to apply the relevant law was just cause for dismissal, only unambiguous evidence of the juror's deliberate disregard of the law (not apparent in this case) would justify such a dismissal. In so holding, the appellate court acknowledged the necessity for secrecy in jury deliberations.

Similarly, in 1999, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's CONTEMPT conviction of juror Laura Kriho. People v. Kriho, 996 P.2d. 158 (Colo. App. [1999]). Several of Kriho's fellow jurors testified that during deliberations, she suggested to them that drug cases should be handled in the community rather than by a criminal justice system, and then advised them of their right to nullify. Although the trial court cited Kriho's alleged misleading of the court about her attitudes toward drug use during voir dire examination, the appellate court found that the Kriho case was, in fact, about jury nullification. It reversed her conviction on grounds that the court should not have considered evidence from jury-room deliberations. The end result of these cases reaffirms that juries have the power to render unreviewable general verdicts of acquittal, making it nearly impossible to definitely prove that nullification occurred.

In other words, as I said earlier, a wrongful conviction can be appealed. Where is the check on on a jury's willful decision to set aside the law?

Posted by Cassandra at 07:40 AM | Comments (145) | TrackBack

August 17, 2008

McCain: Senile, But *Really* Quick on His Feet...

...according to Andrea Mitchell, McCain is too dumb to have outperformed Obama in a debate using his two and a half decades of Senate experience. But oddly enough the senile old fart is smart enough to assemble answers out of thin air given just a few minutes' lead time:

MR. GREGORY: Andrea Mitchell, that's a pretty clear contrast.

MS. ANDREA MITCHELL: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, there was the crisp, immediate, forceful response by John McCain, clearly in a comfort zone because he was with his base. And Barack Obama, taking a risk in going there but seeing an opportunity. And a much more nuanced approach. The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that -- what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

MS. MITCHELL: He seemed so well prepared.

In other words, there is only one rational explanation for McCain being able to beat The Lightworker.

Obviously, he cheated.

I'm struggling to understand the "journalistic principle" at work here. Let me guess: the media didn't report the Edwards scandal because...

1) It was unsubstantiated, and as we all know, the media would never run with such a serious allegation until it was thoroughly researched.

2) Except, of course, if it comes directly from the Obama campaign (in which the normal evidentiary burdens are waived). After all, what possible motive could the Democratic candidate have for spreading a malicious rumor about his opponent?

Posted by Cassandra at 09:17 PM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

August 15, 2008

NY TimesWatch: Making It Up As We Go Along Edition

This is priceless, even for the Times:

The paper got out its calculator, multiplied the gross revenues of the companies in the GAO study by 35%, and came up with this classic of economic ignorance:

At a basic corporate tax rate of 35 percent, all the corporations covered in the study in theory owed $875 billion in federal income taxes.

In theory, a company pays 35% of its net income to the feds, not its gross receipts. That reporters and editors at the New York Times should be ignorant of this basic fact is shocking. How in the world can these people purport to instruct the rest of us on economic matters, when they lack the most fundamental understanding of how our tax system works?

Today, a red-faced New York Times issued this correction:

An article on Wednesday about a Government Accountability Office study reporting on the percentage of corporations that paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005 gave an incorrect figure for the estimated tax liability of the 1.3 million companies covered by the study. It is not $875 billion. The correct amount cannot be calculated because it would be based on the companies paying the standard rate of 35 percent on their net income, a figure that is not available. (The incorrect figure of $875 billion was based on the companies paying the standard rate on their $2.5 trillion in gross sales.)

Must be those rigorous layers of editorial fact checking at work again.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:23 AM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

The Morality of Abortion: The Dishonest Debate

Reading Linda Hirshman's recent essay, one cannot help but marvel at the glaring logical inconsistencies in the unrestricted right to abortion plank. With more than three decades under their belt since Roe v. Wade was handed down, you'd think they'd have a few of the kinks ironed out.

As a conservative who has reluctantly remained in the pro-choice camp, my support for the limited availability of abortion is balanced against the awareness that this is a complex issue for which there are no easy answers. Ms. Hirschman's morality argument smacks of absolutism. It can be neatly summed up in one sentence located near the end of the third paragraph of her magnum opus:

Abortion is about the value of women's lives.

In essence, Hirshman's morality demands that we accept her value judgment uncritically. But when a man and woman have sex and conceive a child, at least three lives are impacted: the father's, the mother's, and their unborn child's. Hirshman tells us women "bear the overwhelming majority of child-rearing responsibility in this society"; that their "economic prospects plummet with the birth of a child"; that they may be "too poor for parenthood" and that women who seek abortions are "disproportionately black and Hispanic".

These would seem like excellent reasons for intelligent, rational adult women to prevent a pregnancy from occurring in the first place, do they not? And in this day and age, it is no mystery to any rational adult of either sex how pregnancy occurs. Nor is it a mystery (or difficult, or expensive, or time consuming) to prevent pregnancy. And yet there is no surer way to infuriate abortion advocates than to imply women are anything less than rational decision makers. One cannot imply women are ever swayed by their emotions (unless, of course, one wants to show them what an unborn fetus looks like) that they make bad decisions in the heat of passion or that they fail to think serious life decisions through (such as allowing yourself to become pregnant when you are poor, black, and have no money for an abortion, much less for raising a child). Demonstrably, women do make poor decisions of this sort under the influence of emotion. Men make them too, all the time. They fail to think things through. The very fact that there are so many unplanned pregnancies in an era where birth control is safe, reliable and inexpensive provides ample proof of this proposition, but we are not allowed to admit such an obvious fact in the context of the abortion debate lest we be accused of patronizing women.

By eliding past the responsibility of adult women to take control over their own reproductive destinies, Hirshman allows herself to conclude that women's lives have more value than the lives of their sexual partners (who are increasingly being held financially responsible for supporting children it can be conclusively proven they did not father).

But more disturbingly, she also allows herself to dispense with the lives of unborn children as though they were of no value whatsoever. She is hardly the only one to do so. At the risk of being accused of defending Justice Kennedy, his detractors do themselves no favors by blatantly mischaracterizing his position to set up convenient straw men:

The Supreme Court, as most observers now know, made a big screw-up in Kennedy v. Louisiana (banning the death penalty for child rape). It (along with all other parties in the case, it must be said) missed a change in military law which authorized the death penalty for child rape -- which is significant because much of the majority opinion was based around a supposed evolving consensus away from imposing capital punishment for that crime. And as a result, Louisiana attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to reopen the case, since this error may of substantively affected the outcome of the case.

Meanwhile, Anthony Kennedy, as most Court observers recall, based a significant part of his opinion Carhart II (upholding a federal partial birth abortion ban) on the proposition that "some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow." This was, at the time, a statement wholly without evidence, and today we learn that it is in all relevant respects false. Women who have abortions are in fact no more likely to face mental health problems than women who deliver. And since giving birth actually is more physically risky for women than is abortion, it is exceedingly difficult to honestly justify the partial-birth abortion ban on the grounds of protecting women's health.

Hirshman resorts to the same dishonest characterization, implying the "regrets" argument was a central component of Justice Kennedy's opinion:

Last year, in Gonzalez v. Carhart, the Supreme Court, for the first time, upheld the constitutionality of a federal law criminalizing a type of abortion. In his opinion for the court, Justice Kennedy wrote that "Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child ... it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow." In Kennedy's view it was best to spare women such regrets. Indeed it was better still not to allow doctors to perform these procedures at all.

Others have dissected Justice Kennedy's bizarre logic in detail. But what most have missed is that his opinion in Carhart rested on the assumption, ceded so long ago by liberals, that abortions are a necessary evil. There is no serious scientific evidence for any of the justice's findings that a remotely cognizable percentage of the 18 million to 30 million living American abortion recipients have suffered regret, severe depression, and loss of esteem. The American Psychiatric Association has directly refuted any such claim time and again. Why, then, did Justice Kennedy feel so comfortable—indeed, "unexceptionable" —in asserting it?

Such dishonest characterizations rely on a common assumption. They assume readers have not read the original opinion. Were they to do so, they would quickly discover Carhart had little to do with the woman's mental state and everything to do with the balancing of respect for human life against a woman's recognized right to terminate her pregnancy and the existence of readily available, less drastic, and equally effective methods of late term abortion:

‘[T]he elementary rule is that every reasonable construction must be resorted to, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality.’ It is true this longstanding maxim of statutory interpretation has, in the past, fallen by the wayside when the Court confronted a statute regulating abortion. The Court at times employed an antagonistic “ ‘canon of construction under which in cases involving abortion, a permissible reading of a statute [was] to be avoided at all costs.’ Casey put this novel statutory approach to rest. Stenberg need not be interpreted to have revived it. We read that decision instead to stand for the uncontroversial proposition that the canon of constitutional avoidance does not apply if a statute is not “genuinely susceptible to two constructions.”

No one would dispute that, for many, D&E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life. Congress could nonetheless conclude that the type of abortion proscribed by the Act requires specific regulation because it implicates additional ethical and moral concerns that justify a special prohibition. Congress determined that the abortion methods it proscribed had a “disturbing similarity to the killing of a newborn infant,” Congressional Findings (14)(L), in notes following 18 U. S. C. §1531 (2000 ed., Supp. IV), p. 769, and thus it was concerned with “draw[ing] a bright line that clearly distinguishes abortion and infanticide.”

What Ms. Hirshman does not wish anyone to discuss openly - lest they become too emotional - is that Justice Kennedy's opinion very dispassionately rested on the balancing of respect for the life of the child against the convenience of the physician performing the abortion.

Nothing more, nothing less. Conflicting medical evidence was presented for and against the proposition that partial birth abortions were safer for the mother. The evidence was judged inconclusive and moreover, evidence was presented that the alternative methods were extremely safe.

But the single most important fact in this case, a fact which neither Ms. Hirshman nor David Schraub felt their readers needed to know, is this:

Evidence was presented that a medical consensus exists that partial birth abortions are NEVER MEDICALLY NECESSARY. Ever.

In light of this testimony, and considering that other safe means of late term abortions were readily available to women, and since it is a longstanding precedent that:

...every reasonable construction must be resorted to, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality.’

...Justice Kennedy eschewed judicial activism, deferred to the legislature, and upheld the constitutionality of the statute. Of course, one would never know this from reading Ms. Hirshman's essay.

Being female, she prefers emotion-laden diatribes about poor, minority women who must (apparently) be treated as something less than rational decision makers. That she, in proclaiming the profound "morality" of valuing women's lives over the lives of their unborn (presumably disproportionately black and Hispanic) children, would happily see these same children carved into small pieces without anesthetic because their mothers could not be bothered to use a reliable form of birth control is beyond disturbing. One wonders: does she condone the live vivisection of puppies?

Does she support experimentation on lab animals? Few progressives do. They proclaim their deep respect for all forms of "life", except when that life is human, and except when it gets in their way. They do this, primarily, by not talking about it and by not allow you to talk about it.

I will be this honest. I support the limited availability of abortion but I do not fool myself about what it is. It is the taking of a human life, because human beings have intentionally decided to value the convenience or the life of the parents over that of the child.

If we are permitted to do such an awful thing - and it is an awful thing - do we really want to back away from what the standard the Democratic Party has wisely embraced up until now: that abortions should be safe, legal, and above all rare? Do we really want to employ a lower standard of humanity and compassion to the ending of a human life than we would to the killing of that chicken breast that ends up on our dinner table tonight? Because this is exactly what Ms. Hirshman is advocating when she objects to the upholding of the ban on partial birth abortions. I am sorry if this is an unpleasant subject, but I am not the one who made this unpleasant. It is the facts which are unpleasant, and it is the facts which women like Ms. Hirshman, who value a woman's convenience over all other considerations, refuse to take into consideration.

It is this kind of willful blindness and dishonesty that infuriates and alienates even people like me. A pro-choice woman. One of those women who believes that equality involves equal responsibility to go along with some of those equal rights we fought so hard for; who doesn't much care for cheap victimization narratives that infantilize women and dehumanize infants. And Hirshman's argument is profoundly dishonest:

In the absence of a robust description of the value of women's lives—their ability to develop their capacities through education, to use them to achieve economic independence and political citizenship, to take on only the relationships they can manage—there is no moral argument for their "choice" to have an abortion. Set against the sound of nothing, the smallest moral claim of the potential human life looms large. Such an immoral act, moral thinkers conclude, must always be a mistake, the product of incomplete information or logic, and, in time, must produce regret, depression, and loss of self-esteem.

It is because I understand women's lives have value and because I respect their intelligence - because I am a woman - that I expect them to behave like adults rather than overgrown children whose lapses in judgment must always be paid for by someone else: a convenient man who can be tapped by the court whether he happens to be the biological father or not (if she wants the child), a helpless fetus who can be vivisected without anesthesia if she puts off an unpleasant "choice" for too long. Sometimes, other people's rights - other people's lives - have value too.

I wonder when the abortion lobby will ever face - honestly - what they support? Only then will can we begin to debate the "morality" of this deeply troubling - and painful - issue.


Posted by Cassandra at 04:31 AM | Comments (45) | TrackBack

August 14, 2008

New Ice Age Impending: Former VP Hardest Hit

Inexplicably, former VP Al "It Snows Wherever He Goes" Gore could not be reached for comment:

August is the wettest and often the muggiest month of the year. Yet, summer heat continues in short supply, continuing a trend that has dominated much of the 21st Century's opening decade. There have been only 162 days 90 degrees or warmer at Midway Airport over the period from 2000 to 2008. That's by far the fewest 90-degree temperatures in the opening nine years of any decade on record here since 1930.

This summer's highest reading to date has been just 91 degrees. That's unusual. Since 1928, only one year—2000—has failed to record a higher warm-season temperature by Aug. 13.

Perhaps he was sitting in on the totally_amazing_effort to bring sitting president George W. Bush and the aptly named Dick "Fishkill" Cheney to justice for their heinous Crimes against Humynity. Won't that be a glorious day?

After all as with the so-called debate over global warming there really is no credible opposition to the received wisdom on that subject, this being the exception that proves the rule that we must always make sure dissenting voices are heard, even when they run counter to the opinion of the majority. Gosh, didn't the Founding Fathers have something to say on that subject?

Oh well, never mind. That was so long ago and an evolving consensus will trump your average time tested wisdom every time.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:43 AM | Comments (30) | TrackBack

The Morality of Abortion, Part I: Women Want It Both Ways on Choice

This is a repost of something I wrote a long time ago over at No Government Cheese. It is one of my favorite posts. I am reposting it here as Part One of a two part response to Linda Hirschman's piece, provocatively titled "Reclaiming the Morality of Abortion" I will address her essay specifically in Part Two.

Grim makes a good point on the Alito nomination:

The nomination of Alito has been a good thing for the country, if only so we could have this debate. The question is, "We've come to something of a settlement on a woman's rights. Now, what rights does a father deserve, and how do we balance the two?" The de facto answer is that we don't: the father's sole reproductive right is to keep his pants on. After that, the woman alone has the choices.

Silly man. Abortion is a women's issue - did anyone ask him for his opinion?

The casting of abortion, or stare decisis as it is euphemistically referred to on Capitol Hill, as "pro-choice" could not be more misleading, for in this debate only one of the three parties concerned (man, woman, and child) has the slightest semblance of a choice. Only slightly more honest is the strident call of abortion advocates who swear to defend a woman's right to choose to the death. Pro-choice lobbyists strain our credulity by beating beleaguered district attorneys over the head with the phrase when they go after sexual predators who prey on ten and eleven year-old girls.

No "woman" chose to have sex with those monsters, or to end the tragic new life that began and ended shortly thereafter as a result of that crime; but so jealous are these activists of their "privacy rights" that they'd rather see criminals go free than allow the courts access to records of abortion clinics that practice illegal late-term abortions. After all, we're talking about the woman's right to choose here. It's in the Constitution.

As we are constantly reminded, the abortion debate is all about something called reproductive choice. Of what does this reproductive choice consist? If a man and a woman, married or unmarried, conceive a child together, both are on the hook financially to support that child until he or she is grown. But there are rules. If the woman decides to rid herself of a fetus that she does not want (but the man does) she may kill it and this is perfectly legal. If the man decides to rid herself of a fetus that he does not want (but the woman does) - perhaps by slipping her an abortifact that does not otherwise harm her - this is murder, and he will go to jail.

Thus, two utterly contradictory things occur at the moment of conception:

Legally, from the point of view of a woman: the fetus is a lump of tissue which may be excised at will if she subsequently regrets having conceived a child. It imposes no obligation or legal duty unless she chooses to accept it.

Legally, from the point of view of the man: the fetus is a human being which must be allowed to live, even if he subsequently regrets having conceived a child. It imposes an absolute and irrevocable legal duty, regardless of his wishes in the matter.

In other words, if you have a y chromosome you have no reproductive choice. Except, of course, to pay at least a half-share of whatever "choices" your sexual partner may make, whether you are married or single - it makes no difference. When one considers that women can have multiple orgasms (and that ours generally last longer), something tells me men are getting the short end of the stick.

The following story makes that crystal clear:

...a lesbian couple wished to have children. An understanding and liberal-minded male friend agreed to donate his sperm, and three children were born to one of the two women between 1992 and 1996. But then relations between the two women deteriorated, and they split up.

The mother of the children found herself alone and in difficult straits. Who would support her, in her—and her children’s—time of need? Her former lover was unwilling, because—after all—she was no relation of the children. The sperm donor had made it clear from the first that he had no wish to be a father in any but the most literal biological sense; he thought he was merely doing the couple a favor. He therefore felt no moral obligation to support the children, and his conscience was clear.


You can probably guess where this is going:

Nevertheless, the government’s department of social security—the potential surrogate parent of every child—sued to force the sperm donor to pay. After a case lasting four years, he found himself obliged henceforth to support the mother and children financially.

The president of the Swedish Federation for Sexual Equality declared the legal decision an outrage. “It is scandalous,” he said. “The man has been condemned to be a father even though he did not take the decision to have the children. Above all, one of the women who took part in that decision has been absolved of all responsibility. If one desires equality of rights for lesbians, it is anomalous that it should not be she who was obliged to support the children financially.”


This is an interesting case for many reasons. The knee-jerk reaction is to say, "Well of course: the poor man did nothing but deposit his sperm into a cup. Why should he pay?"

In truth, several social institutions are shown to be foundering here. Marriage itself, so fervently desired by the lesbian community, as well as child-rearing, does not come off well. Four years? Hardly a serious commitment to making a relationship work. My sons both dated their girlfriends longer than that - they have shown more maturity in their teens and early twenties than either of these women. Not that the heterosexual world is doing a bang-up job at marriage either (mind you) these days. But two people stood up, presumably, and promised to love and honor each other "'til death do us part"... or until they tired of it, whichever came first.

The concept of family as an unseverable bond is another. Divorce happens, but children are forever. Only one half of this "couple" walked away from that. When she took wedding vows and decided to take on the responsibility of having three children in four years, that responsibility did not end when she tired of the relationship.

But what is in danger of getting lost here is the role of the sperm donor. On the one hand, I completely agree that his responsibility should be by far the least of any party involved in this. But there is still something unseemly in the Swedish President's use of "condemned to support the children", for without his intentional act those children would never have come to be. Did he never give a thought, when he deposited his sperm in that cup, that living, breathing human beings would one day walk the earth?

That they might, one day, wonder who their father was? That they might need him? Theodore Dalrymple comments:

If women have a “right” to children, in the sense that not having them if they want them is an infringement of their rights, then of course lesbian women can no longer accept childlessness as the natural consequence of their condition. Let it not be said that new medical technology is responsible for this change in attitude, incidentally: the kind of artificial insemination offered in a domestic setting by the sperm donor has been possible for a very long time. No, the culprit here is the idea that the fulfillment of our desires, no matter what our condition, is a right. As for the well-being of the children in this case—beyond the provision of sufficient financial support for them—that seems to have entered into no one’s thinking.

And that is the whole problem with the abortion debate: everything is cast in terms of the woman's rights.

Has a man no reproductive rights? Why don't we ever ask that question?

Yes, gestation takes place solely within the woman's body, but it could never take place without the man's unique and special contribution, and while not all men care about their progeny, some men do want, and love, and very much desire to protect and nurture, the children they conceive. In a rather caustically-worded excerpt at Protein Wisdom, Jill from Feministe said:

Alito distanced himself from previous Supreme Court views on undue burden, writing that “an undue burden may not be established simply by showing that a law will have a heavy impact on a few women but that instead a broader inhibiting effect must be shown.” So if a particular requirement which infringes on the right to privacy — husband notification for abortion, for example — only has a detrimental effect on some women, that isn’t a good enough reason to disallow it.

Hmmm... since she disagrees with Judge Alito's dissent, if abortion without the consent of a woman's partner only has a detrimental effect on some men, isn't that a good enough reason to disallow it?

Grim comments:

...feminists insist that abortion be seen as a medical procedure that is the woman's business and no one else's. The child has no rights that ought to bind her, because the advocates for the woman's position in our law insist on that point. The masculine understanding, however, holds that the man's rights are overwhelmed by his responsibility for the child. The men who have ruled the discussion, men like me, feel that fathering a child is an awesome duty and one that ought to bind you. The compromise position gives both sides what they want: the leading thinkers of the women's position have demanded freedom for women; the leading thinkers among men have demanded responsibility for men.

The feminist position on "reproductive choice" closely resembles the Rad-feminista position on many other issues of the day: so-called "equal pay for equal work", Mommy-friendly workplaces, flex-time, and cries of gender discrimination in math and the sciences: they want freedom without tiresome responsibility. It is a childish and petulant stance, unbecoming to 'liberated' women. There is enough genuine discrimination in the working world to combat without tilting at straw men.

If we ever hope to be equal with men then we must, with our "equal rights", accept equal responsibilities. It is, truly, that simple. And if women ever, by and large, come to do so and quit the silly whining that occupies so much of the airwaves, they will very likely find that a great deal, though by no means all, of the 'discrimination' they experience will vanish into the ether like a bad dream. Life is never going to be a level playing field for women, but then it's not a level playing field for anyone. We all bring different talents, different strengths, and if we are honest, different aspirations to the table. The one inescapable fact of life however, is that there are always trade offs.

The sad thing about the abortion debate is that by simply exercising a tiny amount of responsibility before conception, grown women could easily avoid a situation where they inflict the results of their own negligence on their partners, while depriving them of the "reproductive choice" they so ardently defend for themselves.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:21 AM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

Tethered

51tG2wn2SZL._SL500_AA240_.jpg Looking for a good summer or beach read?

Jules Crittenden's wife, author Amy MacKinnon, has just released a new novel and it looks wonderful:

“Tethered,” a novel by Amy MacKinnon, literary suspense, Random House. Think CSI on a soul-searching journey in which the protagonist is doing everything she can to look the other way. Searing gut-punch prose, a page-turner. OK, I’m her husband,* but I’m also a compulsive editor. She had other people performing that service for her, and after that early unpleasant experience when she showed me the second chapter, I resolved not to read it until it was irrefutably in print. Then, I couldn’t stop.

...“Tethered” is about an undertaker who doesn’t believe in God. Amy began thinking about it after visiting the room where her uncle Richard prepares bodies for waking and burial. Amy’s faith is in a constant state of flux. Richard is a devout Catholic. She asked Richard, “Could you do this job if you didn’t believe in God?” Richard said, “I don’t see how.”

How you do it, as Amy explored the issue, turns out to have a lot to do with dark secrets and stumbling efforts at redemption, involving cops, an unidentified child’s body, killers.

Besides being quite lovely (do I know my readers or not?) Ms. MacKinnon is a talented writer, but then this should come as no surprise to those of you familiar with Jules' work. You can read more about both Ms. MacKinnon and her latest work at Jules' place.

Do check it out.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:53 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 13, 2008

Is College a Waste of Time?

In today's WSJ, Charles Murray puts forth a radical proposition:

Imagine that America had no system of post-secondary education, and you were a member of a task force assigned to create one from scratch. One of your colleagues submits this proposal:

First, we will set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take four years to achieve no matter what is being taught. We will attach an economic reward to it that seldom has anything to do with what has been learned. We will urge large numbers of people who do not possess adequate ability to try to achieve the goal, wait until they have spent a lot of time and money, and then deny it to them. We will stigmatize everyone who doesn't meet the goal. We will call the goal a "BA."

You would conclude that your colleague was cruel, not to say insane. But that's the system we have in place.

Finding a better way should be easy. The BA acquired its current inflated status by accident. Advanced skills for people with brains really did get more valuable over the course of the 20th century, but the acquisition of those skills got conflated with the existing system of colleges, which had evolved the BA for completely different purposes.

Outside a handful of majors -- engineering and some of the sciences -- a bachelor's degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance. Even a degree in a vocational major like business administration can mean anything from a solid base of knowledge to four years of barely remembered gut courses.

The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees. Young people entering the job market should have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications they can carry into job interviews. That measure should express what they know, not where they learned it or how long it took them. They need a certification, not a degree.

Whether you agree or disagree with Mr. Murray will depend, to a large degree, upon whether you accept what seems to be his main premise: that the main purpose of college is to tell employers what a student knows.

As a parent, I can attest (with great fervor) to the fact that I did not part with $130 grand of my hard-earned money simply to save some yet-to-be-determined employer the trouble of talking to my youngest son and figuring out what any reasonably intelligent employer ought to be able to divine from such a conversation: that he is bright, ambitious, well read, and above all, that he has a solid work ethic. The interesting thing about my youngest son is that - especially to someone of Charles Murray's way of thinking - he didn't know how to do much when he graduated from college. But then that's not why I sent him there.

He did know how to think.

My son graduated from a school with a Great Books curriculum. For four years his companions were Plato, Socrates, Descartes, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Herodotus, and Euclid.

He never took a modern math course the entire time he was in school.

He now works on advanced risk calculations for mortgage lenders. Not only did he have absolutely no trouble getting hired, but he has been promoted early.

He would almost certainly have failed the kind of test Mr. Murray proposes.

I didn't send my sons to vocational school, though I happen to believe America would be well served to send many of the students who now attend our colleges to a good vocational program of study. In America we look down upon the trades, but we should not do so. It takes intelligence and aptitude to perform well in many trades. To excel, it also requires an apprenticeship under a skilled master craftsman or additional study after high school.

In some technical fields, such as nursing, engineering, or accounting, proficiency tests may make sense. But passing a test is, at best, a proxy or indicator of proficiency or skill. Graduating from college is intended to be an indicator of education.

They are two entirely different things.

Is college a waste of time? Feel free to ensmarten me in the comments section. After all, your hostess has only a lowly BS to show for her efforts.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:37 PM | Comments (50) | TrackBack

What He Said

Word.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:58 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

Is Obama Politicizing Military Spouses?

Unfortunately I don't have much time this morning for an extended comment on this story:

Michelle Obama is having “round table” discussions at various sites near military bases to discuss issues faced by military families (”Michelle Obama courts vital military families,” Politics, Thursday). A group known as Blue Stars for Obama, largely made up of military wives, has been asked by the Obama campaign to contact other military spouses and enlist/encourage them to attend and to, in turn, contact other military wives and ask them to do the same. It’s an attempt to infiltrate and extend support for Sen. Barack Obama in what has traditionally been a more conservatively leaning group…

The problem is in how the campaign is attempting to bring military spouses to the discussions with Michelle. They are asking members of Blue Stars for Obama to go out and seek other military spouses, who are not signed on to Blue Stars for Obama, in order to drum up large crowds for the events.

Some BSFOs are known to be contacting other military wives, urging them to take part in a political event; the rough equivalent of “undue command pressure” — unacceptable behavior considering that spouses of junior officers or enlisted personnel can sometimes be intimidated by a request or admonition from the wife of a senior officer or enlisted military member. After all, the senior officers and enlisted write or have input on the fitness reports for those under their purview (”I can’t cross the chief officer’s or master sergeant’s wife; her husband holds my husband’s career in his hands”).

Since the military member cannot take part in publicly supporting a particular candidate, it has always been understood among military wives that it is also inappropriate for a military member’s spouse to use her position in the military community to solicit others toward her personal political views via access she has gained to e-mail addresses, phone numbers and other networking avenues available to her within the military context.

In 27 years in the active duty Marine Corps, I have never - ever - seen anything like this.

One of two things is going on:

1. Barack Obama's campaign undertook this "infiltration" campaign without bothering to consult anyone with even the most elementary knowledge of military rank structure, culture and protocol, or

2. They had military advisors, but chose to do this anyway.

Either way, the result is not good.

Are they incompetent? Or just so full of overweening ambition that they chose to disregard centuries-old traditions which have withstood the test of time for good reason (and which, quite frankly, anyone with an ounce of sense ought to have been able to foresee, even absent a military background).

You decide.

This wasn't brain surgery. The only up side here is that a certain cranky Marine wife now feels considerably less guilty about losing her cool over the Obama campaign's previous shenanigans earlier in the week.

Update: Predictably, Oliver Willis is still waiting for the big blue clue bus to arrive:

Over at Michelle Malkin’s place they’re all a-twitter over Michelle Obama meeting military spouses, but they apparently had their fainting couches out for cleaning when in 2004 Bush held campaign event after campaign event using the military as a backdrop.

No, Oliver. We knew Michelle was meeting with military spouses last week. That isn't the issue, and if you were honest you'd admit it. But that would require you to face what the Obama campaign is really doing:

A group known as Blue Stars for Obama, largely made up of military wives, has been asked by the Obama campaign to contact other military spouses and enlist/encourage them to attend and to, in turn, contact other military wives and ask them to do the same....

Some BSFOs are known to be contacting other military wives, urging them to take part in a political event; the rough equivalent of “undue command pressure” — unacceptable behavior considering that spouses of junior officers or enlisted personnel can sometimes be intimidated by a request or admonition from the wife of a senior officer or enlisted military member. After all, the senior officers and enlisted write or have input on the fitness reports for those under their purview (”I can’t cross the chief officer’s or master sergeant’s wife; her husband holds my husband’s career in his hands”).

The Obama campaign is free to advertise their events on military bases (the same as any political candidate would) and military folk are free to attend.

What is NOT acceptable is for a political candidate to encourage military personnel and/or their spouses to actively solicit participation in such events. It is that part which crossed the line between simply making an event available to all personnel on the base and mobilizing the military command structure to swell the ranks of attendees at Mrs. Obama's roundtable discussions.

Not kosher. Not by a long shot.

Update II: This took me a long time because I do have a full time job and I can't blog during work. However, I took the opportunity during my lunch today to do some additional research on this. On the Obama website, there is a Blue Star blog for military supporters of the campaign. I was able to locate a sample letter put out by the campaign. It contains guidelines for contacting other military spouses:

If you'd like to forward this letter to other people, please keep in mind the following rules that keep the important distinction clear between official military business and personal business:

* Do not send this letter to any official DoD (.mil) or government (.gov) email address.
* Do not send this letter to any DoD or government fax machine or mailing address.
* Do not use any DoD or government equipment or supplies in forwarding this letter or any other official Blue Stars communications.
* Do not forward this letter, unsolicited, to any spouses who are subordinates of your family member/service member.
* We discourage members from sending this letter, unsolicited, to any family member in their service member’s chain of command

If you are aware that any of the above actions are occurring, notify Heidi at BlueStarsForObama@gmail.com.

I have to say that I still do not like the idea of using military spouses to proselytize for the campaign. Bases have ample means available for publicizing upcoming events. However, based on this letter it does appear that BSFO are mindful of at least some of the problems associated with what they are doing and have attempted to set some guidelines.

It is important to me to get this right, especially in a campaign where way too often, unfounded and somewhat hysterical accusation are being tossed out like penny candy.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:02 AM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

August 12, 2008

Photo of the Day

via DL Sly:

deadeye.jpg

The princess laughs every time she looks at this one. Enjoy.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:16 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Duh...

Saturday last, the Editorial Staff espied a plaintive cri de coeur from one of those benighted conservathugs living in la-la land. It was entitled, somewhat ironically, Why Are We Whispering?

At a recent writers conference in Southern California, one of my colleagues on a screenwriters panel told the crowd of about 50 people that she hoped Barack Obama would win the presidency. A number of people applauded. When it was my turn to speak, I politely said that I disagreed with her politics and moved on to other topics. There was no applause for me, but several writers approached me afterward. Each dropped his voice to a whisper and, looking around to make sure no one would overhear, said, "Thank you for saying that."

Which raises a question for all conservatives in the arts: Why are we whispering?

It's true throughout Hollywood certainly. In filmland business meetings, the executives, producers and talent feel free to wax on about how stupid President Bush is, how evil American foreign policy is, even what awful human beings conservatives are. Hollywood rightists, meanwhile, are reduced to holding secret gatherings to confess their beliefs in sympathetic company.

Such intolerance! Whatever happened to respect for diversity, for the sanctity of opposing viewpoints, for... dare we say it... the idea that dissent, in and of itself, is not only a virtue but our patriotic duty? If we didn't know better, we'd suspect our liberal brethren in Christ are only paying lip service to the oft-expressed mantra personally handed down to future generations by the Father of our Country.

As for the question, "Why are we whispering?", that's a slam dunk. One suspects Hollywood conservatives whisper so the Obama advisors crazy folk won't hear them.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:46 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Maryland, Land of Bedwetting Socialists

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley

-Robert Burns

Yesterday morning the Editorial Staff arose from the Marital Bed nearly speechless with delight to find that once more our small demesne had not been absorbed by the People's Republic of Maryland and summarily handed off to our southron neighbors for no apparent reason. Hope, that cheeky thing, began singing its wordless little song from its perch upon my soul. Was America finally on the road to a better future - one more in line with the positive spirit of change that gripped this country in 1968? Or had my fellow Marylanders finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel and realized it was an oncoming train?

Politicians in Annapolis are scratching their heads wondering what happened to all those chain smokers who were supposed to help balance Maryland's budget. Last year the legislature doubled the cigarette tax to $2 a pack to pay for expanded health-care coverage. Eight months later, cigarette sales have plunged 25% and the state is in fiscal distress again.

A few pols are pretending to be happy that 30 million fewer cigarette packs have been bought in the state so far this year. As House Majority Leader Kumar Barve put it, fewer people smoking is "a good thing." Yes, except that Maryland may be losing retail sales more than smokers. Residents of Maryland's Washington suburbs can shop in nearby Virginia, where the tax is only 30 cents a pack, and save at least $15 per carton.

cigarette.jpgThe Editorial Staff don't read the local section of the paper all that often. Consequently we were shocked recently when, standing in the local Food Lion several weeks ago, we happened to take a gander at the cigarette display. Back when we were just a young Editorial Staff (a time when giant Brontosaurs still roamed the earth in thundering herds) we recall ducking into the local Dunkin' Donuts after school for a lemon donut and a 55 cent pack of Kools. This act, as every thinking person on earth knew at that time, conferred an instantly detectable aura of Kool-ness upon the bearer. We won't tell you how much a pack of cigarettes costs in Maryland today. Let's just say the price is cringe inducing.

For those folks at home who may be feeling some sympathetic outrage on the behalf of beleaguered Maryland retailers, fear not! The People's Republic of Maryland has a plan to help them out. They won't outlaw smoking. They'll just outlaw smokers who shop out of state, on the theory that while it's perfectly legal to drive to Virginia to get a better deal on a new sofa or an automobile, attempting to save money on a carton of cigarettes is a hideous act exceeded only in its utter depravity by the ravishment of Baptist nuns:

The Maryland pols are so afraid this is true that they've made it a crime for residents to carry two packs of cigarettes that weren't purchased in the state. In other words, the state says it's legal to smoke, so long as you use cigarettes that the government can tax and thus become a financial partner in your bad habit. But if you dare to buy smokes across state lines, you can be fined.

Maryland is only the latest state to prove the folly of trying to finance government with a tax on a shrinking pool of smokers. In New York City and State, tobacco taxes have been raised so many times that the retail cost can exceed $9 a pack -- about double the national average. Few budget-savvy smokers in the Big Apple pay that tax. Patrick Fleenor, an expert on tobacco taxes at the Tax Foundation, estimates that there is "now a 75% gap between cigarette sales in the city and cigarette consumption." In other words, three out of four cigarettes are bought elsewhere or are contraband. Out-of-state purchases, tax-free Internet sales and a cigarette black market are booming.

Meanwhile, retailers in the Old Dominion (and the Virginia legislature, which is reaping a windfall - not to mention laughing their collective tuckii off - at the idiocy of their northern neighbors) send their heartfelt thanks for the unlooked for economic stimulus package.

Nice work, gentlemen. Got any more bright ideas?

Posted by Cassandra at 08:18 AM | Comments (36) | TrackBack

August 11, 2008

Aiiieeeeeee!!!!

The confusion! Apparently all these years I've been a man, trapped in a woman's body!

Likelihood of you being FEMALE is 44% Likelihood of you being MALE is 56%


Site Male-Female Ratio
google.com
0.98
cnn.com
1.35
expedia.com
0.82
foxnews.com
1.41
washingtonpost.com
1.15
macys.com
0.59
wsj.com
1.67
gawker.com
1.17
navyfcu.org
1.06
dillards.com
0.59

The truly frightening thing about this is that I suspect if I hadn't been shopping for a dress to wear to an out of town wedding (Macy's and Dillard's) the other night, I'd have scored even worse.

If any of you need me, I'll be in the shower playing with my own breasts.**

**Relax people. Old, old joke

Posted by Cassandra at 12:43 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

Monday A.M. Campaign Zen, Disco Ball Edition

Since the Editorial Staff seem to be making a career out of environmentally sustainable blogging lameness, we present for your enjoyment the following moment of campaign silliness, via bthun:

What else can we expect from an election season in which our hero appears to be getting his foreign policy advice from an actor:

George Clooney once famously declared he could never run for public office because he’d ‘slept with too many women, done too many drugs and been to too many parties’.

But now the Hollywood heart-throb has entered the political arena at
the highest level – by becoming an unofficial adviser to US Presidential front-runner Barack Obama.

Oscar-winner Clooney, 47, is said to be helping the Democratic candidate to polish his image at home and abroad.

But he is also sharing with Obama his strong opinions on Iraq and the Middle East.

Who knows? Perhaps this will prove the inside track to sewing up the coveted Jolie endorsement. Smash mouth politics has never been played with such elan.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:34 AM | Comments (30) | TrackBack

August 10, 2008

That Little White Picket Fence

Greetings. The Princess appears to have survived week one of home renovation hell. Fortunately she has detected no ill effects that ten days on a beach in Key West with Adrian Paul on tap (in case she needs her toenails painted a divine shade of shell pink!) wouldn't cure. All of this just goes to show that there is nothing like having one's house torn completely to shreds to the comforting sound of Manly Power Tools to give a person some extremely bizarre fantasies.

Throw in a few crises at work and we have all the required ingredients for chronic cirrhosis of the liver. Needless to say, such an atmosphere is not conducive to quiet contemplation. It was a relief this morning to wake early enough to have the house to myself; to be able to read the paper, have some time to think, write, contemplate the lint in my navel. This is my favorite time: early in the morning before anyone - even the birds - are up. The house is still. Even the dog is still slumbering downstairs. In a few moments I will no doubt hear his muffled but imperious "woof!" from the basement but for now, the golden hours of pre-dawn serenity are mine to savor.

I am happily reading about books. Apparently, little boys like reading about things that are gross:

The book's main character slaughtered his victims by running them through with sharp stakes. He once left hundreds dying slowly on a hillside while the soil grew "muddy with blood" and "blackbirds flocked around the corpses, fighting for a meal."

Although it has the contours of a horror story -- with splotches of red ink on its pages depicting blood -- it's actually a children's book. "Vlad the Impaler: The Real Count Dracula" is widely available in libraries and is making its way into middle-school social-studies classes.

...Publishers are hawking more gory and gross books to appeal to an elusive market: boys -- many of whom would rather go to the dentist than crack open "Little House on the Prairie." Booksellers are also catering to teachers and parents desperate to make young males more literate.

It would be easy to condemn movements like this as pandering to the lowest common denominator but as a mother of two boys, the article's observations ring all too true. My sons were both strong readers but their reading preferences differed sharply from mine. To interest them in reading I had to appeal to their tastes, not necessarily my own. Luckily, we shared an appreciation for all kinds of humor as well as a love of learning about the world around us:

Scholastic and other publishers are heeding the research of such academics as Jeffrey Wilhelm, an education professor at Boise State University. Prof. Wilhelm tracked boys' reading habits for five years ending in 2005 and found that schools failed to meet their "motivational needs." Teachers assigned novels about relationships, such as marriage, that appealed to girls but bored boys. His survey of academic research found boys more likely to read nonfiction, especially about sports and other activities they enjoy, as well as funny, edgy fiction.

For girls, especially as they grow older, a large part of successfully negotiating the world around them means learning to understand how the people around them think and feel. Relationships, whether they are friendships, professional contacts, or romantic liasons, are tremendously important to most women. While boys rarely devote more than a few moments of conscious thought to actively maintaining their personal relationships, girls generally begin doing so almost from birth. And if they want to learn about relationships, they could hardly do better than this refreshingly retro-sexual page turner:

... the four Meyer novels -- "Twilight," "New Moon," "Eclipse" and now "Breaking Dawn" -- tell the story of a regular girl, Isabella Swan, who falls in love with a not-so- regular boy, Edward Cullen. Edward is a vampire. New to the perpetually rainy town of Forks, Wash., Bella immediately falls for the pale and shockingly beautiful Edward -- who does everything in his power to resist his attraction to Bella. Edward has long fed only on animals, not humans, but his thirst for Bella's blood is beyond intense. Neither, it turns out, can stay away from the other, and what follows is a page-turning saga, a portrait of adolescent desire and first love at its most powerful and tender.

Bella and Edward find themselves "unconditionally and irrevocably in love," as Ms. Meyer writes. Despite this, there are barely more than a few passionate kisses in the series' first 1,700-or-so pages, and almost no kissing at all in its first 500. Rather, Bella and Edward are satisfied by nearness. An innocent touch of the hand feels "as if an electric current had passed through us," Bella explains at one point. Saying her beloved's name, Edward, is "a thrill" in and of itself. Edward's breath on Bella's face is a heady, intoxicating experience, and Edward is knocked nearly senseless by Bella's smell, which he describes as floral, "like lavender . . . or freesia." They are restless unless they are together. But when together, they create more sparks than either knows how to handle.

Oh, and then there's Jacob, Bella's best friend, also supernaturally beautiful (he's a werewolf) and in love with Bella -- creating a triangle that has fans declaring allegiances to one or the other of Bella's suitors. (Though Edward clearly wins the day.)

And here lies Ms. Meyer's secret. She knows that romantic tension is often better built with anticipation than action. That there is enough excitement in gazes, conversation, proximity and maybe a few stolen kisses to keep young lovers busy for years -- if they allow themselves to indulge in this slow kind of seduction.

Ms. Meyer's fans agree. This vampire love story has captured more than their hearts -- it has them demanding that young men behave like gentlemen.

...At the New York "Breaking Dawn" concert event, amid girls alternately chanting "Ed-ward! Ed-ward!" and "Steph-en-ie!" and screaming with excitement, one girl, Jordana, explained why she thought the relationship between Bella and Edward was so compelling and sexy, even though they never go further than kissing. "They are so perfect together and so into talking to each other and just being together, you don't even notice they don't kiss." Her friend Sarah added that "they show that you can have a perfect relationship without being physical."

Another pair of girls, Donna and Meghan, said they loved "the forbidden passion" laced throughout the series. (And, indeed, many girls wore T-shirts that said: "The forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest." This may be a reference to the cover art of the first book, which shows two hands holding an apple.) "Bella and Edward connect in ways other than with sex. They connect spiritually," Donna explained. "They just look at each other and sparks fly."

"It's not all physical," Meghan chimed in, saying once again a line I heard over and over from girls I interviewed. "I mean, Edward has been alive since 1901," Meghan continued. They both then stopped to do the math. "That's over 100 years and he's been waiting for Bella the whole time! He's never been with anyone else. That's the most romantic thing ever."

Teenage girls were not the only ones with a strong presence at the Twilight Party. Mom-fans from the online group TwilightMoms.com were out in full force, wearing T-shirts boasting their allegiance and excitedly talking about why the series is good for their daughters. "Edward is everything every high-school boy isn't," one said with conviction. This mother of a teenage girl went on to explain how boys "are only interested in booty calls, not romance," while the rest of the TwilightMoms nodded their heads in agreement. "Twilight shows girls that you can have the most intimate, romantic relationship of your life without any sex."

Another mother nearby had a litany of reasons why the series was good for girls. "Twilight helps girls realize they don't need to settle for anything less than what they really want," she began. "It teaches them to keep high standards. That there are guys that will treat them with respect. Girls today need to learn this, and they can learn it from this series."

I had two thoughts when reading this review. First, that many men would thing: "Great! Here we go again! Reinforcing the notion that a great relationship doesn't involve sex!"

And secondly, "If more men spent time talking to their wives - actually flirting with them again, respecting them, cherishing them - they might get more sex after marriage." A few weeks ago I read an article about marriage. It was pretty negative on the whole institution:


At the core of Dolan's thinking is the insight that even when we leave aside internal contradictions between models of marriage, each version presents intractable problems. The "fusion into one" conceit, notoriously absorbed into law through the fiction of "coverture" that made a husband the controller of his wife's rights, ignores the reality of distinct personalities with distinct goals. The "contract between equals" vision of companions and partners confronts religious, legal, and popular traditions that associate "equality with conflict," and hold that "once spouses confront one another as equals only one can win the resulting battles."

In Dolan's view, marriage rests on an "economy of scarcity" in regard to rights and privileges "in which there is only room for one full person." The traditional solution? Marriage "as a hierarchy in which someone, usually the husband, has to be the boss." On this view, "hierarchy resolves conflict while equality promotes it," an assumption that Dolan says underpins "many conceptualizations of marriage."

It's here that Dolan insinuates her most provocative idea — that marriage, by its confused nature, amounts to a form of "violence" against individuality, sometimes prompting other forms as well. At first blush, the notion sounds extremist. Yet Dolan makes sense of it. She hardly lacks examples of the more gory violence long associated with marriages gone terribly bad. But her perspective often proves most impressive not when she's revisiting women burned at the stake for actually murdering their husbands, but identifying a whole tradition of women diarists who fantasized their husbands' deaths as the only way out of captivity.

Dolan devotes only two pages to same-sex marriage, but the implications of her study for it are immense. Though plainly sympathetic to the idea on equality grounds, Dolan suggests that married gay people will confront many of the lingering biases of the "economy of scarcity" model — its presumption that one marriage partner must be privileged, its tendency to concentrate "entitlements and capacities in one spouse" until "that spouse absorbs, subordinates, or eliminates the other." Without the signposts of biological difference, how will the courts know who's who in gay marriages?

Dolan ventures no opinion. But Marriage and Violence forces a bigger issue into the policy limelight where gay marriage now finds itself. The book's incisive, detailed attention to abundant aspects of matrimony makes one realize that scholarship on marriage as a historical institution must be part of the nationwide debate on gay marriage. We need to contemplate, in a new light, those challenging concrete elements — the ownership symbolism of the ring, the wife's traditional taking of the husband's surname, so-called male "headship" in marriage generally, intercourse as a "conjugal debt," prenuptial agreements, wifely submission as subterfuge, the psychological subtleties that criminal law must confront in assessing battered women.

Until now, most media have taken the "marriage" half of "same-sex marriage" for granted. That's a recipe for more of the simplistic discussions we've heard so far. Dolan rightly seeks to "denaturalize" our clichéd conception of marriage by explaining its historical development. In that spirit, she makes clear that while she can't devote desirable space to such rich traditions as Jewish and Muslim marriage in her largely Protestant-driven narrative, they too, and their idiosyncrasies, must be part of any sophisticated conversation about the subject.

In the meantime, Dolan and the marriage scholars she ably represents and cites — such thinkers and inspired researchers as Nancy F. Cott, David Cressy, Alison D. Wall, and Stone — offer a further message to conservative opponents of same-sex marriage. If they truly understood the institution's history, they might fall to their knees and thank God that gay people want anything to do with such a conceptual mess.

Good nightshirt. Where to start? How about with "I do"? Because it seems that right after saying those two little words, so very many couples start saying, "I don't".

As in, "I don't..." have to do that anymore. I don't have to earn this person's regard anymore ... because I'm married now. I don't have to compete for his or her time. I don't have to pick up my own socks. I don't have to put out. I don't have to shut the bathroom door.

We become so careless. We all do. It's as though when we say those two little words, we forget that we could always lose our partner to someone else. The best thing about marriage - the sense of safety, of belonging, of being part of a couple, is also the worst. We become complacent.

And thus, if we are not careful, the sense of excitement that was there when we were just dating, the challenge, the danger, the thrill - all of these things go away and are replaced by a dreary sameness. But Dolan has it all wrong. Marriage is not the death of individuality, but the conscious decision of two individuals to commit to something greater than themselves: a partnership. If they choose wisely, if they are equally yoked to a partner of roughly equal intelligence, willpower, and other gifts, there is a give and take over the years. We are not relieved of the duty to assert ourselves over time: if the balance shifts too far towards one partner or the other, the partnership will fail.

I have always loved the words of Khalil Gibran on marriage. A wedding does not create one person, but unites two distinct people with a common goal. They freely choose to walk side by side through life, because they would rather be together than apart. During the journey, each learns from the other:

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone, though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

I don't think marriage is going anywhere, for all the bleating of the chattering classes, because human nature hasn't changed. And it's reassuring that despite the constant bombardment of sleazy Victoria's Secret ads, our children still realize there is nothing sexier than that tantalizing space between a man and a woman, still waiting to come together for the first time.

If they can understand that desire is as much about the pursuit as about the attainment of our dreams, they will have learned much.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:31 AM | Comments (60) | TrackBack

August 09, 2008

Russia--The US Made Us Do It

It was less than one month ago when Russia and China blocked UN sanctions against Zimbabwe on the grounds that to do so would be interfering with a sovereign nations internal affairs.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement today that sanctions "would have created a dangerous precedent," leading to interference in countries' internal affairs that would be a "gross violation of the UN's Charter."

Georgia has tried to reclaim territory from pro-Russian separatists in a region that is recognized as Georgian territory. Many would call these internal affairs. Putin's Russia has responded not with the dangerous interference of UN sanctions but with the gentle diplomacy of tanks, troops and air strikes on civilians and oil pipelines.

Of course all of this is the fault of the US.

In the meantime, Russian officials believe that it was the USA that orchestrated the current conflict. The chairman of the State Duma Committee for Security, Vladimir Vasilyev, believes that the current conflict is South Ossetia is very reminiscent to the wars in Iraq and Kosovo.

“The things that were happening in Kosovo, the things that were happening in Iraq – we are now following the same path. The further the situation unfolds, the more the world will understand that Georgia would never be able to do all this without America.

Putin was easier to get along with when oil was at twenty five dollars a barrel.

Posted by at 01:48 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

August 08, 2008

Friday Afternoon Blues

I am a mad blues fan and an even bigger fan of Jonny Lang. I own every one of his CDs, either physically or on my iPod. KJ turned me onto him years ago over at JetNoise on that crazy Top Ten Feel Good Songs thread (yo Joatmoaf!). I think it is such a hoot that that thread is still going strong. I had no idea when I wrote it that it would still be going four years later. There is something immensely cool (and slightly scary) about that. It also makes me think Don Brouhaha may be psychic :p

At any rate, Lang is an immensely talented young man, but up until the other day I'd never heard him talk, so I never realized what a genuinely nice kid he is. Listening to him talk, I was just blown away:

In a world full of pretentious celebrities, it's nice to see someone who hasn't let success go to his head.

Some very early Jonny that many of you will have heard.

Quite possibly my favorite Lang song, though I have a soft spot in my heart for Red Light and Second Guessing too.

Oh heck. This kid keeps coming out with so many good ones it is hard to pick a favorite.

Enjoy.


Posted by Cassandra at 03:19 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

The Obama Salute Caption Contest

via bthun:

What genius thought of this?

FE_DA_080807whispers.jpg

It strikes the Blog Princess that in a campaign in which one candidate has bragged that his supporters see him as a blank slate upon which his followers can write their secret hop and both sides have been reading all sorts of subliminal messages into each others campaign ads:

An Internet ad launched last week by the McCain presidential campaign has attracted more than one million hits by appearing to mock Barack Obama for presenting himself as a kind of prophetic figure.

The ad has also generated criticism from Democrats and religious scholars who see a hidden message linking Sen. Obama to the apocalyptic Biblical figure of the antichrist.

The spot, called "The One," opens with the line: "It shall be known that in 2008 the world will be blessed." Images follow of Moses parting the Red Sea and Sen. Obama telling a crowd, "We are the change we've been waiting for."

Brian Rogers, a spokesman for John McCain's campaign, said the spot reflects only that Sen. Obama sometimes "gets carried away" when he speaks, and points out "his many audacious statements."

"It's a light-hearted ad that pokes fun at him," Mr. Rogers said.

The Obama campaign declined to comment. Earlier this summer, when asked about similar concerns circulating in Appalachian Ohio, David Wilhelm, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said the Obama campaign has no option but to confront voters' concerns head on.

The End Times, a New Testament reference to the period surrounding the return of Christ, were popularized in recent years by the "Left Behind" series of books that sold more than 63 million copies. The Rev. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the series, said in an interview that he recognized allusions to his work in the ad but comparisons between Sen. Obama and the antichrist are incorrect.

"The antichrist isn't going to be an American, so it can't possibly be Obama. The Bible makes it clear he will be from an obscure place, like Romania," the 82-year-old author said.

Critiques of the ad started surfacing earlier this week when Eric Sapp, a Democratic operative, circulated the first of two memos pointing out images that he believed linked Sen. Obama to the antichrist.

"Short of 666, they used every single symbol of the antichrist in this ad," said Mr. Sapp, who advises Democrats on reaching out to faith communities. "There are way too many things to just be coincidence."

Well alrighty then. We know that when we saw Moses in that ad, we knew immediately it was meant to be taken literally. After all, there is nothing over the top about Charlton Heston's performance.

Nothing. At any rate, since the Obama camp seem to be reading whatever they please into McCain ads of late, we invite the Half Vast Readership to do the same with the Obama Salute.

Keep it clean, people. And Beth C, you have been warned :p

Posted by Cassandra at 10:16 AM | Comments (64) | TrackBack

August 07, 2008

Ante Up-The Race Card Is Wild

Was the McCain ad featuring Paris Hilton and Britney Spears racist? Here is the best analysis I have seen.

Let’s examine the premise of the McCain ad. Here a strong case is made for celebrity not excluding one from higher office.

Are you a racist? Here is the definitive guide, revised aught ocho edition.

CWCID: Ace of Spaces, Tigerhawk, Tigerhawk

Visit these fine sites, tell them Pile sent you for a 10% discount.

Posted by at 09:20 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Rantings of a Cranky Marine Wife

Dear sweet Christ on a skateboard, someone fetch me a tisane for my nerves. They're at it again.

You know, the Agony Aunties:

An Air Force wife said she had to give up her job when her husband deployed because she couldn’t find child care.

There have been many days when the Editorial Staff might have contemplated slitting our wrists, but for the thought that hope is on the way. We hear tell that come the Revolution under an Obama administration affordable, safe and sanitary child care will drop gently from fluffy little clouds, much like manna from the heavens, rescuing arithmetically challenged military spouses everywhere from the tragic realization that after paying for gas, clothing, Longaberger basket binges, lunch, taxes and other expenses their net take home pay asymptotically approaches el numero Zed. This is a gender-sensitive way of saying that when you do the math, working starts to look a lot more like a hobby than a necessity.

Nevertheless, notwithstanding the fact that deployed service members receive numerous allowances and tax breaks for serving in a war zone (for those of you at home without a calculator, this means that when a service member deploys, their pay goes up... way up) this woman's tragic plight must indisputably be reckoned a "cost of war". And we haven't even begun to tally up the psychic toll imposed by deplorable tactics like deployment rebates on credit card interest charges. Yes, I realize this is unconscionable. The Unit and I were forced to endure a 4% interest rate for an entire year during his deployment. At the end of our tour, without so much as a by-your-leave, our credit card provider gave us every cent of the interest we paid back! They claimed this was a "thank you for having served!. Bastards. When even corporations conspire to victimize military families, it is clear urgent Executive branch action is needed.

A Marine wife, a former executive, said she home-schools her children because she couldn’t find a public or private school that could meet her children’s needs.

Well there you have it: the Ensmartening Effect. We military wives can learn so much from our obviously smarter peers. I, too, home schooled my fetuses when we were stationed at Parris Island, SC. I give this woman full marks for shrewdly realizing that, though both public and private schools already exist to serve her children, somewhere along the line it became the duty of her fellow citizens to bridge the gap between her expectations and whatever schools are already funded by the American taxpayer.

That big red mark on my forehead is me, realizing [WHAP!!!] it was never my job to figure out a way to get my sons the specialized education I wanted for them. Like an idiot, I thought this was part of living in a free society - the idea that I and my fellow citizens were free to take advantage of what was available in the public sector, and if any of us wanted something different, we were free to seek it -- it on our own.

And I did.

A Navy wife described the pressures of taking care of her husband’s father, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, while also caring for her infant and her teenager — all while her husband was deployed.

If only her husband weren't deployed! He could stay home from work, receive his full paycheck anyway, and help take care of Dad and the kids! This is just another tragic cost of war, and just another example of how the military mistreats its employees. Lord knows, a civilian would not have to work all day, just to receive a day's wages. George W. Bush and his cronies have much to answer for.

Why, just listen to the authentic voices of these brave military spice... spouses. Apparently, these problems are indicative of an "epidemic of suffering" in the armed forces. Thank God the Obama campaign has its finger on the pulse of the military commune community:

The intensive 1½-hour session “touched the tip of the iceberg,” said Amanda McBreen, wife of a Marine lieutenant colonel who is in the process of moving to the Norfolk area from Parris Island, S.C.

“It’s an honor that someone in an influential position like Mrs. Obama would care enough to listen to what I have to say,” said McBreen, one of the spouses who participated in the roundtable. “I don’t wear my husband’s rank, so to be asked to have an opinion is quite an honor. I’ve spent 18 years following my husband and being told what to do without someone ever asking me how I feel about that.”

Obama said the issues that have been raised to her at Norfolk, Bragg and Campbell run the gamut from the need for more affordable child care to the challenges spouses face in cobbling together careers through many reassignment moves to concerns about the quality of education for their children.

“The mental health stresses appear to be higher for people who are active and in the midst of deployment,” she said in an interview with Military Times following the roundtable. “The stress is just so much more powerful. But the issues are the same. It’s just how far on the brink someone is.”

She said there should be more services to help families deal with this, and she noted that her husband, if elected, has said he would seek to provide more support for military families, including counseling.

If the Obama administration wants to make a real difference in the lives of military women, he might consider attempting to do something about the pressing problem of conjugal unpleasantness.

This beastliness be stopped. And in our time, too.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:49 AM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

August 06, 2008

Thank You Peoples.....We're Fine

I know it is the time of year when Matt Drudge puts up headlines that give you internets reader peoples a heightened sense of concern about Pile and your favorite think tank the esteemed The Ebb & Flow Institute.

Tropical storm Edouard (yes Matt it could have strengthened into a hurricane) turned out to be what you folks up north might call a rain shower. We are fine. We hunkered down. I like to hunker down. I like to say I am going to hunker down. I wish there were more occasions to hunker down. Hurricane season is the only time I ever hear people say they are going to "hunker down".

I now have a system in place to hunker down. In the pre-hunker phase I send the wife to the grocery store with the other courteous shoppers preparing to hunker down to pick up fifteen gallons of milk and a box of beer, while I make room in the refrigerator.

When she gets home four hours later, we hunker.

Hunkering got me reminiscing about Hurricane Rita (Katrina's less well known red headed step sister) when I made the decision to cease hunkering and evacuate.

My notes on that ordeal are below what we big time bloggers like to call the fold.

Originally posted September 27th, 2005


An American Refugee

Hello Institute patrons, please allow me to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers as the Institute had to be evacuated prior to Hurricane Rita. What follows is a harrowing and completely true tale of how I, Pile, lead my staff, family and pet to safety under incredibly adverse conditions.

A few weeks ago when the "evacuees" from Hurricane Katrina were being bussed into the Astrodome I saw one of them being interviewed by the local news, he made a comment that has stuck with me. He said, " refugees....., people are calling us refugees......, I ain't no refugee, I'm an American citizen". After having fled natures fury myself, I can't help but disagree with Mr. Evacuee. Being on the run from high winds and rising waters knows no citizenship, race or creed, it only knows the medium rare human instinct of survival, while being courteous to others who have been forced from their homes of course. It only knows that.

On the evening of Wednesday September 21st it became clear to me that I was going to have to make a decision about what to do regarding the approaching storm. It became clear because people kept asking me "Pile, what are you going to do? Evacuate?". I have to say, at that point I was not prepared to leave the Institute unguarded and vulnerable. Our world Headquarters is approximately 60 miles inland, so I thought we could ride the storm out. Besides, Academy Sports and Outdoors was having a sale on Remington Street Howitzers, and the prices looked pretty good. This combined with the fact that there was not a motel room available anywhere in the western United States led me to the decision to stay put.

During my customary Thursday morning sitrep briefing it became clear to me that the situation had changed almost overnight. Rita had been upgraded to a category five, with sustained winds that made it the fifth most powerful storm ever recorded. The Institutes computer modeling had the storm on a track that would push a storm surge right up our drive, past the valet parking and through the Institute gift shop. As many of you know this is a think tank that employs a wide variety of peoples, one of whom you might know as The Onlette, is only six months old. While I have been instructing The Onlette on free market economics and college football I have not yet taught her to swim. I felt the weight of the Institute, not to mention the world, riding on my shoulders.

Some Chairmen of think tank Institutes are born to be great leaders. Others, it would seem have a swirling storm of high winds and rain thrust their great leadership on their staff and family. And pet. I made an announcement over the intercom system that we would be evacuating. I instructed all personnel and pets to put their important papers in a fire and flood proof lock box, move all computers and electronics off the floor and onto a counter or high shelf and prepare to leave.

My wife, the lovely and immensely talented Mrs. On and I, loaded two coolers full of lunchmeat, Red Bull and beer, and put them in the family car along with clothes, toys, a fourteen month supply of diapers, a telephone answering machine, dog food, three gallons of filtered tap water, an emergency car tire pump, two loaves of bread and an umbrella. We were ready to leave the think tank Institute that we both had devoted our entire lives to.

Before all electronics were disconnected and moved to the relative safety of a higher counter or shelf, I had been watching the Institute's local media monitoring device. I was acutely aware of the stand still traffic on the major hurricane evacuation routes. Thrusting my leadership on my family and pet I made my first major decision, we would not be taking a freeway out of town. We would head west on any farm to market road we could find until we got to I 35, from there we would head north to Dallas, and then on to visit some friends in Oklahoma City.

This was a day that was taking a toll on my fellow Houstonians, and their pets. Due to the heat, the temperatures were approaching 100 degrees. Fahrenheit. Due to the sudden run on gasoline, most stations were now out of anything one might put in their cars for fuel. Many of my fellow refugees were forced to drive along without running the air conditioner to conserve on precious fuel. We were forced to sit in our car, unable to move around, and endure hour after hour the relentless blast of refrigerated air that pelted our skin like a Chinese water torture. That which does not kill us, makes us stronger I told my family and pet when they inquired if anything could be done about the chill wind blowing in the Mitsubishi. I had heard on the radio that a dog had died of heat frustration on I45 north of Houston. That was a chance, with which I could not take.

We saw many people waiting at gas stations for gas supplies that might not arrive in time. We finally reached I35 in Austin and turned north, but not before stopping at a completely deserted gas station to fill up. I could not help but wonder why I was the only person to get my fuel supplies at a station that had fuel supplies. It was a question I could not ponder long, as a refugee must keep moving.

It was a seventeen hour trip from Houston to Dallas. I was very proud of The Onlette, she handled the situation like you would hope a trainee analyst would. At some point during the trip she began to bogart the Mommy, forcing my Labrador retriever Enid into the map reading, navigator, co-pilot, riding shotgun position commonly referred to as the front passenger seat. Like many people who were faced with adversity in these trying times, she rose to the occasion, as I could not detect any perceptible decrease in the navigation assistance I was receiving. The front passenger seat is just a bit small for a full figured lab to curl up in, so like me she sat up and watched the road until we arrived in Dallas at 6 am Friday morning. Yes, I know it was harrowing for her, but when you are a refugee pet, being tired is a luxury you can not afford.

We grabbed a few hours of shuteye in Dallas, then it was on to Oklahoma City , three more hours to the North. There we slept for something like 37.4 hours straight. Keeping track of time is not a refugee's strong suit. Our friends, or as I like to refer to them, the people running our shelter, took us out for dinner when we finally did wake up. We went to what they call the Bricktown Riverwalk. Oklahoma City has revitalized their downtown in a manner similar to what San Antonio did so many years ago. They have not achieved all the charm of downtown San Antonio but it is very nice. We set out on a trek that must have been hundreds, if not thousands of meters. But refugees do not complain about having to walk to receive a ration of nourishment. Not even if they have to walk past a brand new bar and grill owned by Toby Keith. When a refugee thinks of fine dining, a refugee's mind often conjures up the image of Toby Keith frying up some grub.

We finally arrived at a little Italian eatery, where we were told they could not serve us. FOR FORTY FIVE MINUTES!!! I cursed Bush, and I cursed FEMA, how could they not have planned for this contingency? Then I remembered the immortal words of Tom Petty, "you don't [pause for dramatic effect] have [another even more dramatic pause] to live like a refugee, don't have to live like a refugee".

You damn straight I don't Mr. Petty. I gathered up my family and the people that were operating the shelter I was staying at and marched right down the riverwalk to a place called the Bourbon Street Cafe. They only had a twenty minute wait, not to mention a delightful India Pale Ale on tap. We ate a meal in solidarity with our fellow refugees from New Orleans. A little dish they call Etouffe. It is pronounced [ay-too-fay], I know this because it said so, right on the menu, AY-TOO-FAY.

It was good, I enjoyed it. It was served with dirty rice, which was also good, but it made the whole dish a bit too rich. It would have been much better to serve it with a scoop of plain steamed rice. Such are the trials of An American Refugee.

Posted by at 08:25 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Is Nothing Sacred???

dog4.jpg I suppose they know this means war:

Saudi Arabia's religious police have announced a ban on selling cats and dogs as pets, or walking them in public in the Saudi capital, because of men using them as a means of making passes at women, an official said on Wednesday.

Othman al-Othman, head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Riyadh, known as the Muttawa, told the Saudi edition of al-Hayat daily that the commission has started enforcing an old religious edict.

He said the commission was implementing a decision taken a month ago by the acting governor of the capital, Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz, adding that it follows an old edict issued by the supreme council of Saudi scholars.

The reason behind reinforcing the edict now was a rising fashion among some men using pets in public "to make passes on women and disturb families," he said, without giving more details.

Posted by Cassandra at 12:49 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Light Blogging

Guys:

I apologize for the lame blogging recently.

I have just been really, really busy. I've been traveling a lot on the weekends and during the week I've got more on my plate than I can handle between work and home. The next two weeks look like they're going to be even busier than usual. Something has to give, and I would prefer that it not be my sanity.

Normally when this sort of thing happens, my response has usually been to burn the candle at both ends and try to do everything I normally do anyway. But at my age I'm finally realizing you can only do that so long before it catches up with you.

But that's not fair to my family, because they have to pick up the pieces when I finally crash :p Also, I can't keep it up physically anymore. So, I apologize in advance if blogging is a little inconsistent around here and if I don't always answer email promptly (or even at all).

Moderation -- it's not just a breakfast drink anymore...

Heh.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:29 AM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

The Road We're On

Yes there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on

On the pages of my high school year book, a few carefully selected lines of text appear beneath the photograph of each graduating senior. Most students chose a song lyric. One girl - a friend of mine - picked the verse above. She was the only girl I ever viewed as serious competition in the dating department. She even looks rather like me, though she is far prettier than I ever was: a slim, sarcastic brunette with wispy bangs and big brown eyes. We sang together in the senior combo. She was always a better vocalist, but I was wittier. Though to hear some people tell it this can only have been a relative advantage since the female of the species is apparently incapable of the truly sophisticated brand of humor men must keep on offer if they hope to attain Shangri-la. In my snarkier moments, I have often wondered if the existence of this theory conclusively proves Chris Hitchens right? You must admit it does have its humorous aspects.

Saturday evening ended up being a trip in more ways than one. After a desultory morning spent rolling about in bed we drove in to my brother's to see a concert with...

[wait for it...]

...the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra playing Led Zeppelin. As the esteemed spousal unit is wont to say, "Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby...", do we know how to have fun, or what?

On the rainy drive into the city we chatted about the upcoming event. Characteristically, the Unit and my sister in law had already Googled up the playlist. I found the notion, as I find most things in life, highly diverting. The Princess, you see, doesn't like having advance expectations. I'd far rather be surprised.

I enjoy anticipation; having a bit of suspense to break up the daily routine. Is this a defense against the unpredictability of military life? Or against boredom? I'm not sure it matters much, really, in the end. We can make all the plans we like - and I sometimes do. But our best intentions notwithstanding, we end up adapting to the reality on the ground. Why get wrapped around the axle, wedded to expectations that may not pan out? So few of our machinations survive contact with the myriad events we fail to anticipate. I prefer to go with the flow.

Splashing through puddles on the city street, the last three decades of my life scattered around my feet like cherry blossoms after a spring rain. It's a bit surreal seeing kids half your age sporting the clothes and hairstyles you favored in high school. Tight, flared jeans, halter tops and dresses, platform sandals. Just as we found our seats and began sipping a long overdue beer, the music began.

And to my utter delight, contrary to the wry, self-conscious jokes we'd made on the ride in what we heard next turned out to be not quite what any of us expected. Even me, the one who thought she had no expectations. You see, we'd been fooled by the symphony orchestra bit. We thought we'd signed up for a few hours of mostly acoustic music; Lawrence Welk stuff. Hold the bubble machine but pass the funny looking cigarettes (wink wink, nudge nudge). This, however, was a full on rock concert. It was Led Zeppelin, not some re-creation or interpretation of the music of our mostly misspent youth. The songs were still the same, it was still magic and there I was, transported back to the summer of 1973. I could feel my long hair cascading down my back, smell the perfume I wore then on my skin and scent of my slightly damp, freshly washed hair; feel the comforting touch of my favorite bright green tube top and (yes) those faded, too-short cutoff denim shorts my Dad never would let me wear out of the house. My best friend and I are lying on the living room floor, listening to my Dad's speakers boom out the bass guitar. Any minute now, he'll come up from the basement and tell me to turn the darned things down before I blow them out. Heh...:

Only good music can do this to you - take you on a trip back in time. I close my eyes and let the music course through my veins like heroin. Amazing. I am there, again. I wonder where she is, tonight? Does she remember sometimes, too?

As the opening bars of Kashmir stream out into the night the crowd begins to jump to its feet. To my intense amusement, I wonder whether the 40-something blonde a few rows in front of us is going to rip her shirt off and toss it into the crowd. She does enjoy her music, that one. I lean over to ask my brother how long he thinks it would take her and he gives me that simultaneously scandalized/delighted/horrified look only younger brothers give their older sisters.

This is turning out to be much more fun than I'd thought it would be.

The blonde's husband - a bearded dude - has returned to his seat and is busily trying to pick a fight with two guys in the row behind him. They had the unbelievable temerity to ask them to sit the hell down so they could see the performance from the seats they paid good money for. Or maybe they are hoping his wife will take her shirt off? I don't know - from where I'm sitting it doesn't look like that great a prospect, but one can never tell. The nerve of some people!

Three ditzy blondes saunter down from the lawn and stand right in front of us for no apparent reason other than that (apparently) they can. They are staring vacuously at the stage, talking about the unbearable cluelessness of being an airhead with no manners at a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert. I am loving every minute of the show - both the one going on one the stage and the one in the audience. Full marks to my sister in law for suggesting the idea.

What is it about music that has the power to unite even people who seem to have so little in common?

As my eyes travel over the crowd I see people of all ages; every size, shape, color, and (if outward appearances are any indication) political persuasion. Men with comb overs, polo shirts, and Docksiders perch next to guys with ponytails, jeans and Grateful Dead t-shirts. Women with chic angled haircuts, manicured fingernails and frosted blonde highlights are juxtaposed next to those sans makeup, their long hair looking little different than it must have when they were in high school, though they probably have daughters that age now.

The show is almost over now. I find myself oddly moved by the look mirrored on a hundred, a thousand different faces in the crowd around me. Music has done that to us. It is something we all share, though it doesn't mean the same thing to any two of us. We are lost in time, lost in our memories. The faces around me are softened for a moment, oddly vulnerable; open. In them, I can see echoes of an old girlfriend, a first date, a midnight ride on a summer night down a deserted road with all the windows down and the stereo turned up as loud as it will go.

A broken promise.

The sun, setting on a beach during a summer that seemed to go on and on.

The band begins to play Stairway to Heaven, and a hush falls over the crowd as thousands of people begin to sing along:

And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason

For one moment, for one magic space in time, this disparate crowd seem fused. It is an illusory feeling, but precious nonetheless. I don't want to let go.

It's hokey, and sentimental, and the only way to describe it is that you really had to be there. I think, suddenly, and for no reason, of Linda Ferrara and the words she spoke when she lost her son Matthew:

All of humanity is our tribe.

Many people would also describe those words as syrupy - a throwaway sentiment. I just remember that they cut through me like a knife.

There are certain things which connect us as human beings. We may differ on how to achieve what we want, but in the end most of us do want the same things for our families. I think we forget that at our peril. I wondered, that night, how long that feeling would last once we left. I knew it wouldn't be long.

I read soon afterwards that in Iraq at the checkpoints, the Iraqis no longer ask: "Are you Sunni, or Shiite?"

For years, when she approached Iraqi Army checkpoints and produced an identification card for soldiers to study for clues about her sect, Nadia Hashim used a simple formula to signal the mostly Shiite Muslim force that she, too, is a Shiite.

"I am one of you," she'd say.

The soldiers would harass Sunnis, but they'd simply wave Hashim through.

Now her pat line gets her an official reproach.

When a relative used it recently, a soldier admonished the driver and the passengers. "'We are Iraqis, and you shouldn't say such a thing,' " recalled Hashim.

The 35-year-old mother of three said that for her and countless other Iraqis, the fact that soldiers are now using nationalist rather than sectarian language is a significant change. Being a Shiite is no longer key to her survival.

With violence subsiding throughout Baghdad, residents said that sectarianism is becoming less pervasive. They're starting to think of themselves as Iraqis, not as hostages to hyphenated, sectarian identities.

Residents said they visit relatives in neighborhoods of opposite sects. Taxi drivers said they can travel around blast walls to neighborhoods outside their own sect. Sunnis can get medical care at Shiite-run hospitals.

Shiites can share a minibus with Sunnis without fearing that they'll be signaled out at an illegal checkpoint. Teachers no longer feel pressure to give students of one sect higher grades than they give their classmates in another sect.

Most Iraqis, however, aren't convinced that the drop in sectarian violence, now at its lowest levels since March 2004, according to the U.S. military, will last.

Now we have a presidential candidate who seems to be going out of his way to tell us, every chance he gets, that though if you turn off your TV set and just listen to him talk, he sounds just like us, he is not like us.

He doesn't look like us, you see. He isn't like those other presidents on the dollar bill, whatever that means. He isn't like the other people who spoke in Berlin (Condi Rice and Colin Powell notwithstanding). I am not quite sure how we are ever to get beyond race, beyond the political divisiveness that continues to tear this country apart if a man who aspires to be our leader is going to indulge in this kind of ridiculous rhetoric.

We know he is half black. Anyone with half a brain can see this. We do not need to be informed of it, and it is beyond stupid for him to tell us he is trying to run a campaign that is above race when he is telling potential voters that his opponents are going to "scare" them by telling them what anyone with a pair of eyes in their head can plainly see.

He's black. Duh. Is this news?

There are so many things we in this melting pot nation of ours have in common. We share a great culture. We share a love of beautiful things. We can focus on the things which help us rise above our differences, which make us proud to be Americans, which give us reason to celebrate our common heritage. Or, like Bob Herbert, we can go dumpster diving for penises in the hope of generating gratuitous offense where none was intended.

Oddly, one of the memories of my mostly misspent youth was of this song:

I wonder how many of you remember it? It is one of the first I learned to play as a young girl on the piano. It makes little sense, now.

That is one of the many things that have changed in America. One more cause for celebration, and a measure of how silly the current navel gazing over political ads has become.

There's still time to change the road we're on. America can do better.

Far better.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:50 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 05, 2008

Tuesday Morning Mood Music

Something to go with your morning coffee while I write.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:20 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

August 04, 2008

Heh.

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world...

Day-um.
This can't be Rethugs.

I'm jazzed.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:57 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

The Media's Pro Obama Bias, By The Numbers

spd rds the WaPo so the Editorial Staff doesn't have to... and finds Ombudsman Deborah Howell taking the Post to task for bias in its campaign coverage:

Barack Obama may be only eight points ahead of John McCain in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, but he's creaming McCain in the number of pictures and stories published in The Post in the past two months.

First, photos. Richard Benedetto, a retired USA Today White House reporter who teaches journalism and political science at American University, studied photos in the A section from June 4, the day after Obama clinched the nomination, to July 14. He shared his research with me, and I expanded it to the whole paper and continued it through Friday with the aid of my assistant, Jean Hwang, photo desk assistant David Snyder and The Post's Merlin photo database.

What we found:

122 photos of Obama have been published in the paper during that time to 78 for McCain, counting tiny to big. Most of those photos ran inside the paper; most on the politics page.

The Page 1 photos are closer: Obama had nine to McCain's seven. Five of Obama's were above the fold; McCain had four. Obama also got more color photos, 72 to 49, and more large photos -- mostly those that spanned three or more columns, 30 to 10.

photos.jpg

stories.jpg

To get a better idea of the sheer magnitude of the distortion, think about this interesting statistic for a moment in context:

To look at the phenom factor, du Cille went to the Merlin database to see how many pictures have been run of Obama since he first appeared in Post pages in 2003. That would be 1,109. McCain's pictures go back to the early days of the database, 1995, with 1,032 published. Obama is still ahead.

Stop and think about that for a moment.

A while back, we attempted to place the debate over Barack Obama's experience into a factual and historical perspective. We think it says something when a sitting Senator with 24 years experience and one presidential campaign already under his belt has gotten less media coverage since 1995 than a neophyte Senator who only arrived on the national scene in 2003. To help underscore this point, we thought a side by side comparison of the candidates' relative experience in the U.S. Senate and relative share of individual news coverage in the Post would be illustrative:

bias.jpg

As Ed Thiede, assistant managing editor of the WaPo's news desk remarked, the data is:

... "eye-opening. We should be more cognizant." Du Cille and Thiede were both surprised at the numbers. Du Cille said, "The disparity in the numbers is indeed hard to reconcile. As photojournalists, we always strive to be fair. We have tried to be balanced, but it seems that in a large operation such as ours, we need to monitor the use of political images even more closely."

Like the song says,

"Every picture tells a story, don't it?"

Thanks to spd for a thought provoking article.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:45 AM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

Important Culture Update

The Editorial Staff wish to announce an Important Art Update from the great state of Iowa. Thanks to the vigilance of a County Judge, the Important Art Form Commonly Known as Nekkid Dancing remains legal in Fremont County, Iowa:

Nude dancing remains an art in Iowa.

A judge Friday ruled in favor of a nude dancing club owner charged with violating Iowa's indecent exposure law.

Fremont County Judge Timothy O'Grady said prosecutors failed to prove the club wasn't a theater. Iowa law allows nudity at theaters, museums and other venues devoted to the arts or theatrical performances.

The county's attorney, Margaret Johnson, charged club owner Clarence Judy after a 17-year-old girl climbed on stage at Shotgun Geniez in the tiny town of Hamburg and stripped off her clothing.

"I think it's a little scary," said Johnson, who emphasized that the girl was still a minor.

The club was sold Monday to Terry Rutledge. He expressed confidence that nude dancing would remain legal, referring to a 1998 case in Davenport that found it an art.

"In all actuality, you don't have to be a theater hall, concert hall or anything. You can be a strip club that has nude dance," Rutledge said.

We here at VC confess to our profound relief at this development. We cannot overstate our deep and continuing support for the role of Art in our public schools.

Why, just think how much poorer we would be as a society if the long arm of the law were to stifle the entirely beautiful and natural desire of young, nubile girls to tear off their clothing and express themselves in an Artistic manner for the enjoyment of Others.

Especially if they happen to be the local Sheriff's niece.

Key quote:

Murphy noted that the club has a gallery selling collectible posters and other art, and it provides patrons with sketch pads.

Iowa: where patrons of the Arts gather to enjoy the finer things in life.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:28 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Friends

The Armorer, on friends.

Amen, big guy.

Amen.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 03, 2008

Rape in the Military

I am having a real problem with this:

It took Diane Pickel Plappert six months to tell a counselor that she had been raped while on duty in Iraq. While time passed, the former Navy nurse disconnected from her children, and her life slowly unraveled.

Carolyn Schapper says she was harassed by a fellow Army National Guard soldier in Iraq to the extent that she began changing clothes in the shower for fear he'd barge into her room unannounced, as he had on several occasions.

Even as women distinguish themselves in battle alongside men, they're fighting off sexual assault and harassment. It's not a new consequence of war.

But the large number of women serving today in Iraq and Afghanistan is forcing the military and Department of Veterans Affairs to more aggressively address it.

The data -- incomplete and not up-to-date -- offer no proof that women in the war zones are more vulnerable to sexual assault than other female service members or American women in general. But in an era when the military relies on women for invaluable and difficult front-line duties, the threat to their morale, performance and long-term well-being is starkly clear.

Of the female veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who have walked into a VA facility, 15 percent have screened positive for military sexual trauma, The Associated Press has learned. That means they indicated that while on active duty, they were sexually assaulted, raped or sexually harassed, receiving repeated unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature.

This is where I start to lose it.

Get your story straight, people. Which is it? Is is 15 percent? 40 percent? Or is it some inspecified, "jaw-dropping" number that is "possibly far higher"?

"My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41 percent of the female veterans seen there say they were victims of sexual assault while serving in the military," said Harman, who has long sought better protection of women in the military.

"Twenty-nine percent say they were raped during their military service. They spoke of their continued terror, feelings of helplessness and downward spirals many of their lives have taken since.

"We have an epidemic here," she said. "Women serving in the U.S. military today are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq."

When I read nonsense like this I start to become very, very angry, for a number of reasons. The first is that no one - no one - deserves to be raped.

Ever. Rape is a crime. It is a violation - an indignity no human being should ever be forced to endure. That said, the very fact that Congress is having hearings on this subject ought to suggest a problem of a very different nature than the one being discussed with such great outrage by the likes of Rep. Harmon:

These strong, tough, intelligent, fully equal combat flowers need the immediate protection of the federal government because 41% of them have been the victims of sexual assault and 29% of them have been raped by their fellow servicemen. The Editorial Staff does not know about you, but we are not hearing a compelling argument for fuller integration of women into the armed forces.

For the last few decades, activists of all stripes have pressed for the full integration of gays and women into the armed forces.

They claim both men and women can sleep, defecate, and shower together in close quarters, on board ship, on submarines, and in the field, inexplicably waving away the age-old problem of attraction between the sexes, without posing any detriment to good order and discipline. Yet here we have Rep. Jane Harmon claiming that fully 40% of female servicewomen are being RAPED or sexually harassed by their male coworkers? Apparently Ms. Harmon has an odd notion of good order and discipline.

Activists claim women are fully the equals of men in every sense of the word. They claim women can hold their own in combat. They claim women can fight just as well as men.

They claim women are just as mentally tough as men; they claim women can withstand the rigors of war as well as men do, that we will not buckle under the stresses and strains of combat; that we can defend ourselves. They claim that female service members ought to be fully integrated into the combat arms because there are no meaningful differences between men and women. And yet, we read accounts like this:

Schapper, 35, of Washington, served with the Virginia Army National Guard on an outpost with few other women. She worked well as part of a military intelligence team with the men around her. It was in the down time that things got uncomfortable.

She shared a house with about 20 men, some of whom posted photos of scantily clothed women on the walls. She said her team leader, who lived in the house, frequently barged into her room and stared at her. The experience was unnerving, Schapper said, and she began changing clothes in the shower. But she never filed a formal complaint.

It is awfully hard to enforce rules if no one knows they are being violated. Still, one can always object - vociferously. Did she do that? No one knows. Did she publicly confront her tormenter? Try to embarrass him? Did she try to enlist the help of male coworkers? No one knows. To all appearances, she merely suffered in silence...

Passively.

If she complained, Schapper figured, she'd be the one moved -- not the other soldier.

"In military intelligence, you work with Iraqis on a daily basis you get to know, and to move me would disrupt the team I was working with as well as disrupt the work I'd already done," Schapper said. "I didn't want to be moved, and basically I'd be punished, in a sense."

Schapper said other female troops she has spoken with described similar experiences. A picture of one was posted with "Slut of Bayji" written underneath. Another endured having a more senior enlisted soldier ask her favorite sexual position over a public radio, said Schapper, who has met with members of Congress on behalf of the nonpartisan advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Since returning to the U.S. in 2006, Schapper has gotten help for post-traumatic stress disorder at the VA in Washington. Group therapy with other Iraq veterans has been helpful, she said, but she wishes there were a women-only group.

It's hard to understand this kind of thinking. Not wanting to disrupt the work of a team is understandable, but a team leader who is bullying one team member is probably bullying others. He is clearly breaking the rules, if left unchecked, he will only do it to others. The behavior needs to be stopped. This is not a particularly deep insight.

What did she think she was accomplishing by not coming forward? The truth is, she was scared. The other unpleasant truth is, she failed to report a serious breach of military regulations. That is wrong, and not only as it impacted her. Did she never think of the other victims this man had probably bothered before her and would go on to molest if she didn't come forward? Or did she only think of herself?

Among the competing narratives put forward by the women in the military lobby, something does not quite ring true. The stories are diametrically opposed. If one is accurate it casts doubt upon the others and yet the proponents want us to accept them all at face value.

Either it is not true that these women can defend themselves as well as men both verbally or physically (in which case they should be fully integrated into all branches of the military with no special accommodations) or they cannot even defend themselves against the depredations of some of their stronger male coworkers (in which case they require special protections if they are to be integrated, even in a limited way, into the armed forces).

Either it is true that men and women can bunk, shower, and defecate in close quarters without causing problems detrimental to the good order and discipline of the command, OR 4 in 10 women who live and work in close quarters with men are being raped and/or sexually harassed.

They can't both be true.

That is, unless Ms. Harmon doesn't consider rape detrimental to good order and discipline. She can't, unlike many feminists, have it both ways. She can't insist 40% of women are being raped and sexually harassed on the job, yet insist integrating women into the armed forces doesn't have a negative effect on command readiness. That just doesn't make sense.

She can't insist women are fully capable of defending themselves (much less taking the fight to the enemy), and then tell us they fragile flowers who require special protection from their own coworkers in order to be deployable. That just doesn't add up.

This whole scenario doesn't really make much sense; especially when one looks at studies of job satisfaction in the military and learns that women in general (and black women in particular) are more satisfied with their military careers than their civilian counterparts. Are we really to believe there is an "epidemic of rape in the military" that is worse than what exists in the civilian sector? Apparently so:

A third of the women in the military say they have been sexually harassed, according to a recent Pentagon survey, and women in male-dominated specialties consistently rank their job satisfaction lower than those largely occupied by women. But female job satisfaction ratings seemed largely unaffected by these factors. Among each ethnicity that Lundquist studied, the women consistently had higher levels of job satisfaction than the males.

I am female and I have been around the military all my life. While it is far from a perfect institution, I believe the military does a better job, in its ham fisted way, of dealing with race and gender issues than the civilian sector. If anything, the armed forces are likely to go overboard in their attempts to enforce equitable treatment of minorities and women. What people need to realize, unfortunately, is that heavy handed government attempts to solve human problems cannot change human nature.

What they also need to realize is that, by blurring the relationship between our acts and the consequences which result from them, government attempts at social engineering often reward some extremely poor decision making.

Human beings, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or training, instinctively rely on a pecking order. During my lifetime I have watched both men and women harass and attempt to intimidate each other. Men tend to do this sort of thing via overt displays of aggression. Women do exactly the same thing, but they do it more subtly; by ganging up and excluding each other from social groups. Aggression and attempts to dominate each other are an integral part of human nature; perhaps not the most attractive part, but nonetheless something we all need to learn to deal with sooner or later. Aggression, whether of a sexual or non-sexual nature, isn't going away any time soon.

If you take emotion out of the equation, sexual harassment and rape are just particularly nasty forms of aggression: attempts to dominate another human being via sex. That war is an ugly and violent business should not come as a surprise to anyone in this day and age, and the business of the military is to fight and win wars. Therefore, if a woman is unwilling or unable to defend herself (perhaps violently) it is difficult for me to see what she is doing in the armed forces in the first place.

This is not to say that it is ever acceptable to break the rules. But if women as a class of people lack the assertiveness to report violations of the UCMJ (and this seems to be the argument Rep. Harmon and the CNN article are making), if they are so traumatized by their male coworkers that they require keyless entry locks on the doors of their hospital rooms in order to feel "safe", it is hard to argue that any system of rules will ever be enforceable. How could they be, when the victims will not turn in their "attackers"?

lavena_sidebar_right.jpgI think, in the end, what bothers me the most about this issue is that, as so often happens when we try to engineer social results by act of Congress, we have created a situation where some young women sign up for the military with a false picture in their heads of what military service entails. They often have the best of intentions.

They want to serve this nation. They are bright and patriotic. And because they are female, because women traditionally do not serve in the combat arms, they are led to believe the likelihood that they will ever have to go to war is either nonexistent or extremely remote.

Sometimes, as in the case of a lovely young Private from St. Louis, Missouri, her parents talk to the recruiters. They try to get as much information as possible. But the young woman is resolute: she wants to serve.

And then comes that awful day.

That day no parent ever wants to face. That day no parent should ever have to face.

Because, you see, unlike so many of those stories Rep. Jane Harmon likes to tell us, the scant evidence left behind seems to suggest that Lavena Johnson fought her attacker.

It looks as though she fought like hell. Good for her.

I can't get her story out of my mind. Listening to Dr. Johnson speak about his daughter's death, I only know two things:

1. The question of what happened to this young woman has not been resolved satisfactorily.

2. This country, and the United States Army, owe the Johnsons better treatment than they have received.

Ironically, though it makes me angry, I understand why and how things like this happen. I have been around the military too long to think it is some kind of galactic conspiracy.

But whatever happened, it cannot be swept under the rug. Every institution, whether military, religious, or civilian, has criminals. This is no surprise to any thinking person. The problem, unfortunately, is that when something like this happens, the demagogues and the reactionaries claim it is symptomatic of some far deeper epidemic in the system, the idea being that if one killing was covered up, there must be ten thousand bodies lying in unmarked graves. This is why people cover things up. They are always afraid of the overreaction. And the overreaction, they hype always comes: there are always those who want to exploit a story like this for political ends.

That is why I thought long and hard before writing about this. I think it is probably no accident that there are no conservative blogs in the sidebar of Lavena's page. A story like this is so convenient if you oppose the war. It is less so if you support the military, if you support what we're trying to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. But if you do support the military, you also support the idea that we have to do right by those who commit to defend this country. That also means not being afraid to admit when things occasionally go wrong. And I fear something has gone very, very wrong here and those who do love this country on both sides of the political spectrum should be demanding the truth here. This issue knows no political party. I truly believe it has nothing to do with the war and should not be politicized.

It is a simple matter of justice and respect for a young woman's service.

I think we need to demand the truth, both about Ms. Johnson's death and about rape and sexual harassment in the military. I think true rape must be punished, and harshly. But also women be held accountable for their own actions. It is not rape if you get so drunk that invite a coworker back to your room, pass out, and wake up halfway through the act in question and suddenly change your mind. Men aren't mind readers.

Even the best rules won't work if women refuse to report rule breakers. If women decide to tolerate or cover up evidence of sexual abuse, they can't very well complain if it persists. They are aiding and abetting their own abusers.

And the saddest thing of all is that they are helping to perpetuate a climate in which sooner or later, some poor young woman will pay the ultimate price.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:42 AM | Comments (115) | TrackBack

August 02, 2008

Site Meter/IE Crash Problem Fixed (I Hope!)

Thanks to DL Sly, hopefully the Site Meter/IE crash problem is fixed.

FWIW, what worked for me was just moving this code snippet:

<!– Site Meter –>
<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://s36.sitemeter.com/js/counter.js?site=yourIDhere”>
</script>
<noscript>

<a href=”http://s36.sitemeter.com/stats.asp?site=yourIDhere” target=”_top”>

<img src=”http://s36.sitemeter.com/meter.asp?site=yourIDhere” alt=”Site Meter” border=”0″/></a>

</noscript>

<!– Copyright (c)2006 Site Meter –>

...outside of the div tag (I had it inside a div tag, but often people put it in a table, too, and that seems to be what causes the problem in Internet Explorer) and placing it all the way at the bottom of my page, just before the closing body tag. Actually, it was already the last element on the page just before the closing body tag, but the div tags were the problem.

Also, I threw up some news headlines in the sidebar. Don't know if I'll keep them - I've been meaning to do that for some time now since I just don't have as much time as I used to for blogging. I'll keep my eye out for interesting things. Let me know if you like them. I don't like a lot of clutter on a site, but I thought it might be nice.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:26 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

August 01, 2008

*snort*

And it was foretold that a great leader would come forth from the abyss....

Posted by Cassandra at 07:05 PM | Comments (37) | TrackBack