Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You can waterboard, but for the love of God, don't "pick nits!"

US Attorney Gen. Michael B. Mukasey is testified before the Sen. Judiciary Committee today. Both skdadl and I followed his testimony as closely as our c-span streaming abilities would allow. You can read our collective notes on the hearings here:
I will clean-up these notes later today, after I've rested my poor, tired fingers ;)

A quick word about the hearings: Mukasey is a loathsome human bean. You don't have to read the entire testimony to be convinced--here's everything you need to know about Mukasey (where "WB" is waterboarding, "D" is Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and "M" is AG Mukasey):
12:27 PM

Durbin: I asked you who your heroes were. You said you kept a picture of Orwell b/c of his essay, Politics and the English language. I respect you for that. In that essay, Orwell was critical of misleading pol speech ("concrete melts into the abstract") Mr. AG, I'd say, with respect to waterboarding, that the concrete melts into the abstract.

D: (I'm) still troubled as I listen to your answers. First, you say in your letter to cmtee that reasonable people can disagree with respect to WB. Can you cite any court cases, scholars, people of good faith who disagree that WB is not torture? Secondly, when you replied to Biden, you said WB in certain circs would no shock conscience, e.g discovery of nukes. Why has gov discontinued this form of interrogation if there *are* circumstances that justify it? Third, your unwillingness to take an unequivocal position against WB--our troops protected against WB. There are special forces, personnel...
[...]
12:31 PM

M: some in this chamber have disputed that it wouldn't be legal to engage in certain techniques...and then pull back, if necessary to save American lives

D: the Senate? We've voted on a bipartisan, overwhelming vote to prohibit certain practices, the McCain amendment...

M: and the chamber on another occasion declined, with respect to WBg, and others who said the lang was so general that it would open things up to other things that would be so objectionable and cruel...

D: if Detainee treatment act is so clear, and went so far as to grant amnesty to employees who engaged in it, you still think the jury's out on whether WBg is torture?

M: question is not whether Sen is "out" on this or that technique, the question is whether Senate has spoken clearly enough in leg it has passed, and that President has signed, which is all anybody has to work with

D: where is lack of clarity in McCain legislation?

M: the words, people on both sides of debate, to point to "this" or "that" seems to me is to pick nits at this point

D: as chairman has noted, Sens McCain, Warner and Graham (sponsors of legislation) that under Military Commissions Act, WBg is a "warcrime." At this moment, you have employees of yours in Iraq, counselling employees not to use torture. Your testimony so far is that "it depends on circs"--we're trying to teach to the world, a standard we want our own people to live by?

M: the reasons I outlined are already matters of record.
[...]
D: Sen Biden's question? About "shocking conscience"?

M: what I described was a situation in which it *would* shock conscience. It was put in place by the person who wrote the decision. Not by me.

D: I assume you were arguing that the use of such techs to discover nukes would not shock conscience?

M: No...that's not what I said

D: what about circs where tech would save lives?

M: not part of program. Don't know how that would work

D: under military standards, they're not interested in danger. They say unequivocally. You say, for non-military it's still unresolved?

M: still unresolved. I've not been presented with a concrete situation.
It was to weep.

I've got so much to say about this. For now, it appears to be clogging my windpipe. More later.

Read on, MacDuff!

'Steve' or 'CPCBashi?'

"I admit it, there are too many portraits, pictures and monuments. I don't find any pleasure in it, but the people demand it because of their mentality."
--Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenbashi (leader of Turkmens)
CBS News' Bob Simon, 60 Minutes, Jan 4, 2004:
If you think Saddam Hussein was fond of himself, just visit Turkmenbashi's country. There's a poster or a statue of him in nearly every public space.
When Soviet rule collapsed in 1991, Turkmenistan was left on its own, with no real government, and no national identity. Turkmenbashi filled that void. He built a nation and a culture based on him.
The golden likeness of the former communist party boss-turned-dictator is in the center of the capitol, always rotating to face the sun. His picture is on the airplane that brings you to the main port town called Turkmenbashi. It watches over workers in the field, over children in school, over drivers on the road. He's also on the money, and he's even on the national vodka.
His face is everywhere, and you can’t walk a block without seeing either a statue or photo of him.
[...] Turkmenbashi is so controlling that he has even rewritten the calendar, and he recently renamed the month of January to "Turkmenbashi." April is named after his mother.
From Tim Naumetz, Ottawa Citizen:
Photographs of Mr. Harper in various poses, at various sites, are hung throughout the private and cosy government lobby of the House of Commons.
Ms. (Elizabeth) May and Ms. (Kady) O'Malley were surprised and a bit speechless when they saw the exhibit recently as guest Commons Speakers during a youth Parliament.
"When you walk in the door, all you see are pictures of Stephen Harper," said Ms. May
"I'd say between every window, in every available space of the wall, at eye level, every available space has a photo of Stephen Harper."
"You've got photos of Stephen Harper, but not of previous prime ministers," she added. "Photos of Stephen Harper in different costumes, in different settings, dressed as a fireman, in Hudson Bay looking for polar bears, meeting the Dalai Lama, even the portrait of the Queen had to have Stephen Harper, but in a candid, behind her."

No Dogs Allowed! (The Sunday Times, Dec 17, 2006):
In Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s spotless white capital that he is building in the desert out of unfeasible quantities of imported Italian marble, dogs are banned. Turkmenbashi doesn’t like their smell. Also banned are foreign newspapers, journalists, opposition parties, and, apparently, women’s make-up, because, according to the president, Turkmen women don’t need make-up.
And...finally:
The other day, he sacked the chief weatherman for getting the forecasts wrong. Before that he got rid of the cameramen who were making the women singing his songs look fat. Turkmen women don’t get fat. Recently he banned female newsreaders from wearing studio make-up as it made their faces unnaturally white. Didn’t they know a Turkmen woman’s complexion should be the colour of Turkmen wheat?
All hail CPCbashi!

h/t Cathie for the Ottawa Citizen article
Golden bust of Turkmenbashi courtesy of tmrepublican.org
Street photo of Turkmenbashi by Alan Cooperman, AP
Classroom photo of Turkmenbashi by Burt Herman, AP
Harper & Batchelet photo, Hanoi APEC 2006, by Tom Hanson, CP
Harper with Cheddar, the kitty cat, pm.gc.ca

Read on, MacDuff!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Celebrating 20 years: "I am mine. And that's where it ends"

The word "debate" keeps coming up: debate? What debate? The "debate" over whether women have the right to self-ownership (makes me sick just to type that) ended on January 28, 1988...
I am mine. And that's where it ends.

---JJ, aka "Unrepentant Old Hippie," on the 20th anniversary of R. v Morgentaler

I couldn't have said it better, myself. As many of you know, Monday marked the 20th anniversary of R. v. Morgentaler, a decision that left our country without a single law regulating abortion. Seriously! Not a one. This actually makes us sumpin' special, as fern hill , Kuri, Chet and others pointed out today.

And how have we coped with all this lawlessness? Fire? Brimstone? Dogs & Cats? All things considered, we're doing pretty well, relatively speaking. To get a veritable 'lay of the land' (no pun intended), check out the incredible 20th Anniversary blog-burst. A few weeks ago, Antonia and others put out the call, and boy, howdy, was there a RESPONSE!

The depth and breadth of Monday's posts have been impressive. Some, like Berlynn and Regina Mom have provided us with important historical backround, particularly regarding the oppressive "Section 251" (remember 'Therapeutic Abortion Committees?'). Others, like Megan and Vicky have shared their stories of pregnancy and loss.

Meanwhile, Alison and 900 Ft Jesus served as our trusty truth-squad, knocking down some of the most pervasive myths about why & when women exercise sovereignty over their own bodies. Do yourselves a grace & favour and add them to your bookmarks, to save for a rainy day. And there will be rainy days ahead. After all, us pro-choicers are just asking for it. Just ask deBeauxOs, who recounted her own interaction with "zealots who screamed "baby-killer" at me, conveniently ignoring the reality of my 18 month old daughter, snuggled up on my back."

Ah yes. "Baby killer." Here's the Cynic, taking a few Blogging Tories to school over this lingo. And while you're in Cynic-land, PLEASE check-out Lulu, who had a righteous post about that particular invective, particularly in light of all of the documented violence perpetrated by these assholes. Take it away, Lulu!
Their complaints that they’ve been silenced are plastered across national newspapers and on cars covered with abortion porn and on street corners in front of clinics but still they play the victim. They lie. And this is why I fight.
These supposedly morally superior people consider themselves “pro-life” warriors on a mission from God and accuse those who disagree with them of being “pro-death”. They use terms like “pro-aborts” and “poor choicers” to describe anyone who believes that a woman has a fundamental right to choose what happens to her body, convinced that only they know best. They argue that it isn’t a matter of choice at all even as they seek to impose their views and their choices on everyone. They refer to the pro-choice movement as one that embraces a “culture of death”, while holding themselves up as defenders of the very sanctity of life. But this doesn’t seem to stop them from standing outside clinics and screaming accusations of “baby killer” at women struggling with a decision that is no one’s business but their own as they attempt to enter those very same clinics."(emphasis added)
****applause****
So, please, I implore you: put down that sign with the picture of catsuppy roadkill* and take Debra's advice:
Those who claim a commitment to pregnancy and to foetuses need to get off the clinic protest lines and join the protests for decent welfare payments, social housing, a livable minimum wage, universal child care, and a stronger commitment to schools.
What's that, you say? Adoption? Pale has a response to that, untimely rip'd (as it were) from the man himself, the good Dr. M (CBC, June 16, 2005):
There are 88,000 children in foster care in Canada (I believe the number is significantly higher because there are 30,423 children in foster care in Ontario alone and the numbers are similar in Alberta); of these, 49 per cent are "Crown Wards".
[...] Meanwhile, there are 22,000 foster children in Canada actively awaiting adoption. Every year.
Ok, let's suppose for a sec that you're still not willing to think rationally. Maybe you're just not in the mood to be reasonable. If that's the case, please go visit the ever-Rational, ever-Reasonable Mike. Here's a hint: think 'forced-abortions.' Think 'illicit organ trade.' Think hard:
That is, it is an essential element of our humanness that we own and control our own bodies. To allow others to do so is to render us to a less-than-human life as an incubator, spare parts repository or automaton to be controlled. It is slavery and it is not life. (emphasis added)
...and, above all, know THIS:
Abortion is not about a culture of death, it is not about hating children or being sinners. It is about controlling ones health, ones life, ones future.
Yep. It's the truth. It's not about killing babies. Hell Heck, I'd even go as far as saying that it's not about all that torrid, "guilt-free" sex the kids are having either, but somehow I doubt you'd buy that. In fact, I'm not even sure that Heather Mallick buys it:
...birth control and abortion rights have been a sexual volcano for men, one of those volcanoes that never stops erupting. So much more, and better, sex has been had. Men have been having a giant fling for decades, and women, able to relax about the terror of an unwanted pregnancy, have had more and better sex too.
[...] Why should I have to be the one to point out the obvious — that men always have an orgasm when they have sex, and women don't, so why aren't men celebrating massively this week or at least taking us out to dinner?
Heh. You know what? Men are celebrating this week. Lots of 'em! And, no, I will give them more credit than Heather, and suggest to you that they're celebrating for *ahem* nobler reasons than...y'know. In addition to Rational Mike, there's Dave's 20th anniversary celebration, reflecting on the the real crux of the anti-choice movement, and how it dovetails rather conveniently with the cuts to women's shelters, crisis centres, child-care, etc.

Oooh! And here's another wonderful man's 20th anniversary contribution to the blogburst. And here's yet another bastard's contribution. You know, there's a reason that he's my favourite bastard:
Make no mistake: now more than ever, a woman’s body is a moral battle ground. We can’t cede any ground to anti-choice zealots who would fallaciously and callously equate potential people with human beings, acorns with oak trees–no matter how “reasonable” compromise may seem in theory.
And then along came another dude: here's Daev, with an extremely thoughtful response to Lulu's post:
I also encountered on the Wish List the phenomenon of the "supportive pro-choice man" who thinks that what the movement needs is a better understanding of "debating tactics" and is more than willing to show the wimmins how to better fight to maintain their rights, never realizing that the pro-choice side has already won, and that women know best how to lead the movement.
See? There are loads of guys celebrating this week, Heather! And you mustn't forget our favourite Dawg--I have it on good authority that he is, in fact, a member of the XY club. And he had a lot to say on Monday. Par example:
I suggest that the fierce opposition to reproductive freedom (first expressed as opposition to contraception, which only became legal in Canada in 1968, and then to abortion as the latter emerged from its underground nightmare of coat-hangers, seedy exploiters, sepsis and death) really comes down to a defence of the traditional role of motherhood. The opposition is not grounded in fetus-fetishism, but in anti-feminism.
[...] Our victory was a major step in coming to grips with that structure of inequality, even if on-the-ground organizing played far less of a role than successful lawyering. The state, however, and the unequal relations that it mediates and reinforces, remain. (emphasis added)
Hmmm. It was such an elegant treatment of the subject, particularly the use of language in our discourse regarding abortion, that I was totally lulled into agreement with the good Dawg...that is, until that last bit (the emboldened part). But, after all, I was only 14 years old in 1988, so I am hardly in a place to argue about the relative contributions of the grassroots to the successful outcome of R. v. Morgentaler. Paging skdadl! Paging s-k-dadl to the white courtesy telephone!
In answer to Dr Dawg, all I can think to say is to remind him of the deeper historical parallels. Outlawing slavery did not immediately change the lives of all the Africans who were transported to the Caribbean or North America or northern Europe. It "freed" them, but then ... Did it bring them social justice? Hardly even yet, and how long has that taken?
And yet it was a triumph to outlaw slavery, a triumph of the mind, a social triumph, a place to stand for those who would fight for genuine social justice."
[...] No one ever liberates anyone else. People liberate themselves. Lawyers are ok, but girls are strong. (emphasis added)
And this was just the kick in my lucky-thirty-sumpin-ass I needed to go back and revisit that archival footage of Dr. Morgentaler in June 1983, as he attempted to open his first clinic in Toronto. Both he and his supporters--including Judy Rebick--were attacked. They were threatened. And yet they were determined to return every day. After reviewing the footage from the CBC archives (thanks, Kuri!), I went on to read Rebick's thoughts on "Twenty years of freedom of choice":
The abortion battle is probably the best example of the relationship between social struggles and legal decisions. For the almost eight years between the foundation of OCAC (Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics) and the Supreme Court decision, the abortion debate had been on the front pages in Ontario and then across the country. Debates, marches, direct action, clinics opening and in some cases being shut down, clashes with the "anti's", resolutions in the unions, on campuses and in community organizations, everyone had to take a stand, including the Justices.
This was more than just "successful lawyering;" this was a movement. And as we celebrate that wonderful 1988 SCC decision, we also have to remember that it's not really over yet. Just last week, the Globe & Mail's André Picard pointed out some of the barriers that stand in the way of truly universal access to abortion-care in Canada. And doctors who provide abortion care, not to mention their supporters, still face death threats in the year two-thousand-eight.

As I said last week, during our celebration of the American 'Roe v. Wade' decision, it doesn't take an outright ban on abortion to reduce access. Sometimes the most successful anti-choice measures are the ones that nibble around the edges. Make no mistake: they WILL try this in Canada. Mallick explains:
Strange people still do creepy things to eat away at abortion rights. They say abortions cause cancer, mental illness and, en masse, post-traumatic stress disorder. Everyone collapses, including you, the father, your parents, siblings and your grandpa.
If you ever yearn for the mucky sensation of sticky fingers crawling down your spine, go to Hansard and read MPs discussing Alberta Tory Ken Epp’s proposed Unborn Victims of Crime Act, due for a House vote in March. The private member's (what an appropriate name) bill means murderers should get a lower prison sentence for killing a regular woman than for killing a pregnant woman. Read them say how nice it is when a pregnant lady lets you feel her belly: "I think we've all experienced that," Epp says.
Need a shower after that? It's ok. I'm just about done here. Whew! It's now Tuesday and I'm officially done celebrating. Time to get back to work, of course, but I promise to keep an eye on Mr. Epp, and I know that you will, too. In the meantime, promise me that you'll do one more little thing for me?

Go watch George Carlin :)
Heather Mallick link via F-email Fightback
"Celebrate 20 Yrs of Choice" badge courtesy of Debra, April Reign;
"Canada Celebrates 20 Years of Reproductive Freedom" badge courtesy of Alison, Creekside.

*You think that's a fetus? Who are you kidding?!

UPDATE [Jan 29, 2008, 12:48 PM]: Please check out Red Jenny, Yappa Ding Dong, Cathie-from-Canada, and Aurelia, for their contributions to the 20th Anniversary blogburst!

UPDATE from The Dawg! [Jan 29, 2008, 12:53 PM]: Dr. Dawg has updated his excellent post with a note about the importance of the SCC throwing out Section 251 "as a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms rather than, say, getting it repealed, or turning it into a dead letter." Go Read!

UPDATE [Jan 29, 2008, 3:35 PM]: Please check out Justice is a Woman with a Sword, Pedgehog, Prole @ ACR, and The Rev @ Galloping Beaver (how'd I miss you, yesterday? Sorry about that!).

Read on, MacDuff!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Harper won't kiss the talking frog

In the Spring of 2004 (April Fools' Day!), former PM Paul Martin created the 'Office of the National Science Advisor' (ONSA). In the Spring of 2007 (again, April Fools'!), our "New" PM will officially shutter the ONSA (CBC). The first & last occupant of the position was esteemed chemist and former head of the National Research Council, Dr. Arthur Carty. Carty's original mandate, circa 2004 (in his own words):
The principal element of the NSA's mandate will be to provide sound, unbiased, non-partisan advice on (science and technology) to the Prime Minister in the context of Canada's goal to be one of the most innovative countries in the world. In this regard I will certainly have to play a role in building a truly national advisory capacity that provides the PM with authoritative, well considered options for decision making.
Why was this position so important? Here's Bob McDonald (Quirks & Quarks):
The National Science Adviser is a voice of reason to the government over actions it should take on issues such as climate change, genetically modified foods, managing fisheries, sustaining the environment - any time the politicians need to be educated on the basic science behind those often controversial issues. Of course, decisions are seldom made for purely scientific reasons; all too often, the interests of industry, special interest groups or a misinformed public will cloud the scientific truth. The Adviser’s job is to provide clarity and perspective.
Whatever his other failings, I would credit the former PM Martin for both creating the position in the first place, and for putting ONSA in the Privy Council Office. You see, Dr. Carty's office was created with the intention of giving ONSA direct access to the Prime Minister:
Carty was no dummy. Even in his first months as NSA he knew he'd have to tread carefully. What on earth am I talking about? Well, Carty was particularly fond of a certain Joke. You will see this Joke again and again, if you take the time to visit his archive of speeches and presentations (hey! Guess what Kitty did on Saturday!). Here's the Joke, as he related it to the Canada Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Forum, Edmonton, Alberta, June 17, 2004:
During a break in a meeting a politician and a journalist took a walk in a park, when a frog suddenly jumped out in front of them and started to speak: "I am a scientist who has been put under a spell. If you break the spell by lifting me up and kissing me I will serve you forever!"
The journalist said to the politician: "Wouldn't that be something for you? Just imagine, you would always have an expert on hand to give you scientific advice!" But the politician said: "No, better not. We all know what scientists are like, they talk too much, know everything better than you and always want to be the centre of attention. But it would be ideal for you! Editorial offices don't often have science writers, or if they do, they are not always very well informed. He would be really valuable for you. So, go on, pick up the frog and kiss him!" The journalist picked up the frog and looked at it briefly before putting it in his pocket. The politician was amazed and asked "Why did you put the frog in your pocket instead of kissing him?" To which the journalist replied "Because a talking frog is a hundred times more interesting for the media than the best scientist".
*groan* Quite the knee-slapper, eh? But it brings home several points for me, both as a citizen and a (not-very-accomplished) scientist. First of all, it is clear from his repeated use of this joke that Carty knew his job would be difficult, regardless of PM. I can tell you, from my own set of trivial experiences that, with few exceptions, non-scientists generally don't enjoy listening to scientists talk about, uhhh...science. And who can blame them, eh?

Remember: "...they talk too much..."

Ok, sometimes we get a little excited. Perhaps we've spent months or even years working on that one thing and can't wait to share it with you over the dinner table. Not because we're bragging, mind, but because it's all we can think about lately. But, we get carried away, and before we know it, our dinner companions are face-down and blowing bubbles in their soup. Stop! Stop! For the love of Gawd, somebody switch her offffffff! And that's just our friends. Family's not always so subtle.

Remember: "they...know everything better than you."

Ah Family. You see, much as they love you and can't wait to tell their friends that their daughter/son/talking-robot is a scientist, they sure as fuck don't want to hear about your daily science-type doin's. Sometimes parents manage to curtail your excitement without hurting your feelings, e.g. "Oh, that's nice, dear. Say, how are you fixed for panty-hose?" But sometimes it's not so nice. Sometimes the reaction is one of angry, Stephen-Harper-grade insecurity: "You think you're better than me, eh?"

While I can only speak for myself, I can honestly say that I've never thought I was "better" than anybody. At anything. What I can tell you for sure is that I've learned to never talk about my area of science anymore unless someone asks about about it first. That said, while I've tried to limit my discussion to small 'blurbs,' Mr. Kitty shows no such restraint about his own area of science. You see, although he's an otherwise modest and considerate human bean, Mr. Kitty loves his work, and he will not stop talking until the last man's drowned in his soup. And while this proves mildly embarrassing at times, I secretly love him to bits for it.

Shit. Where was I going with this? Right. Canada's "New" Government. Yes: to them, scientists are like annoying gnats, forever buzzing in your ears. And when Stephen Harper became PM, he made damn sure to fumigate his office. Remember that organizational diagram from 2004? With the direct line between the (O)NSA and the PMO? Here's what happened to that when PMS came along:
Soon after taking power, the Harper government moved the National Science Adviser position from the Privy Council Office down to Industry Canada, where Dr. Carty reports to the Minister there instead of directly to the PM.
This means that Dr. Carty's ONSA has been effectively neutered since the council was moved from the PCO. Seriously folks, what's the point in providing "independent" advice to the Prime Minister if that advice is first filtered through a Konservative hack like Jim Flaherty, our current Min. Industry? I reckon that lots of Carty's advice was already...how you say? Lost in translation. Sadly, removing the ONSA entirely just makes it official.

I don't know how the other parties will respond to this. Bear with me for a sec and take the case of the recent Chalk River/Linda Keen fiasco: while the bigger story is, quite rightly, about silencing whistleblowers, manufactured crises and the secret selling-off of our commonwealth, I also think it was illustrative of a more general unwillingness on the part of politicians of ALL stripes to educate themselves about scientific matters. I know, it's unfair to expect them to understand nuclear physics or nuclear medicine, but some of the comments (again, from ALL parties, mind) were downright cringe-worthy. Forgive me for saying this, but somebody needs to crack a fucking book. Unrealistic? Ok, get somebody who does know a thing or two to advise you. Like, a scientific advisor or...oh. Right.

So, even when a Member of Parliament has his/her heart in the right place (e.g. Save our planet! Stop poisoning our kids!), they still need good, independent scientific advice to fully elucidate the problem and to devise plans to address that problem. Who knows? Might even be worth putting up with a few annoying gnats. A final thought: It's worth remembering that, despite his enthusiasm for the appointment in 2004, Dr. Carty was clearly aware of the difficulties inherent in his job. It's not uncommon for independent scientific advice to be in tension with either corporate or political interests. That said, here's one thing the good chemist knew for sure: better to be the gnat-in-the-ear than the talking-frog that nobody listens to anymore. And with that, I'll leave you with Bob McDonald:
...those who feel threatened by a scientific finding, such as polluting industries, will lobby the government with their own experts who try to dismiss or cast doubt on the original finding. Notice I said dismiss or cast doubt. Industry-hired guns seldom arrive on the scene with their own evidence from experiments they performed and published that counter the mainstream idea. Usually, they’ll say, “I don’t believe it,” which is just an opinion, or they’ll look for small uncertainties in the data and focus on that to cast doubt on the results.
All science involves uncertainties - that’s the way the system works. But it takes a scientific eye to determine whether those uncertainties are significant or not. Without that perspective, a politician hears conflicting views or biased information that clouds the issue and confuses the public.
h/t Runesmith and LuLu

Read on, MacDuff!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hold onto your pearls, daaaaahlink: The F-word nominations are open!

If you haven't visited Pale & Prole's wicked-kewl new Awards site, you really gotta go. Go now! Nominate your favourite Canadian feminist bloggers. Need somewhere to start? Checkout my blogroll--loads of good'uns there. Personally, I've been on a wild, nominatin' free-for-all! I've spent the last couple of hours (yes, hours *blush*) combing through my Blogroll to select my favourite feminazis...and those who love them. Some of you were out there bright 'n early, so if I didn't nominate you, I swear it was only 'cause someone else beat me to it ;) BTW, "Support Bro" has gotta be the bestest category-name evah!

Oh! The inaugural F-word Awards is accepting donations to "WISE," aka "Wellbeing thru Inclusion Socially and Economically."
  • Raising the collective voice of women who are living in poverty due to policies of exclusion;
  • Changing public understanding of poverty: from that of socioeconomic inevitability, to a condition of social and economic exclusion;
  • Encouraging community members to work with us to reduce poverty in our neighbourhoods to the benefit of all;
  • Ensuring that policymakers understand the worsening economic situation of an increasing number of Canadians to have a systemic cause, one that they can be instrumental in changing.
Please consider giving what you can to WISE via ACR and you will be entered into a draw for one (or a pair?) of Prole's infamous "Teutonic Titpillows." Talk about a conversation piece!

Teutonic Titpillows Pic
Va-Va-Va-Vooooom! And don't miss out on Pale's saucy new F-words Awards promo!

You wanna talk blushing? Kitty is both astonished and grateful to have been nominated this morning. I don't deserve it, given the lack of content here lately, but please know that I'm very touched!

Read on, MacDuff!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blog for Choice Day: "The Last Abortion Clinic"


This year's "Blog for Choice" campaign asks us to consider "why [we] vote for choice." Why think about that now? Well, Tuesday marked the 35th Anniversary of the 'Roe v. Wade' decision, in the States. And while I'm not, nor have I ever been, an American, I think a lot of Canadian feminists worry that the anti-choice forces in our own country will gain inspiration from their trailblazin' American counterparts.

In November 2005, I watched a PBS/Frontline documentary that scared the ever-lovin' crap outta me. "The Last Abortion Clinic," used the state of Mississippi to illustrate how successful anti-choice forces have been at all-but totally restricting access to abortion care in that state (full video available here). At the time of filming, there was but one abortion clinic left in the entire State of Mississippi. And the anti-choicers weren't satisfied with that, either: early on in the doc, the Fetishizer-in-Chief vows to make Mississippi the first "Abortion Free" state in the Union.

And she's had a lot of help. Sure, Roe is still in effect, federally, but individual States have been able to chip away at access via State laws. In an effort to figure out how things got so bad in Mississippi, the filmmakers discovered that the real restrictions seemed to come after a 1992 Supreme Court decision, "Planned Parenthood v. Casey:"
The Court was asked to review provisions of a Pennsylvania abortion law which included the following restrictions on first trimester abortion: 1) informed consent, including giving the woman information on fetal development and the medical risks of abortion and childbirth; 2) a 24-hour waiting period; 3) for a minor, consent of at least one parent, with a judicial bypass option; and 4) for a married woman to sign a statement that she had notified her husband of the procedure.

The Court's ruling:
By a 5-4 vote, the Court upheld all the provisions of the Pennsylvania law except spousal notification.

More significantly, while reaffirming the central holding of Roe v. Wade, the court rejected "Roe's rigid trimester framework" and changed the standard of review for laws regulating abortion to the
"undue burden" standard proposed by Justice O'Connor in Webster. The majority opinion, written jointly by Justice O'Connor, Justice David Souter, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, explained, "An undue burden exists, and therefore a law is invalid, if its purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability."
"Undue burden?!" While you and I might think that's ridiculous language to attach to a medical procedure, the anti-choicers saw this as an open-invitation to back-door shenanigans. *cough* The Frontline doc explains:
While the Court upheld Roe v. Wade, it changed the standard by which abortion laws would be judged. It allowed states to regulate abortion so long as they did not place an "undue burden" on the women seeking the procedure.

"...[E]ver since
Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, people got the impression that abortion was safe; Roe v. Wade was safe," explains William Saletan, the author of Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War. "All the pro-choice people went home."

In the years after Casey, the pro-life movement has dramatically changed the landscape of abortion politics.
In Mississippi alone, they helped pass 10 laws regulating abortion. And in the last two years, the state has passed legislation on fetal homicide prosecution, new clinic regulations, requirements to report abortion complications, rights of conscience, and a law that would prohibit the state's last abortion clinic from offering abortions beyond the first trimester.
If Mississippi sounds impossibly bad, hold on to your cervical cap, 'cause these kinds of laws and restrictions are cropping up just about everywhere in the U.S. of A. PBS has even provided a map offering "the most recent information (as of June 6, 2006) on these regulations." Visitors are encouraged to "click on the map for a particular state's laws concerning mandatory waiting periods, counseling, parental consent for minors, taxpayer funding for abortion, rights of conscience protection for healthcare workers, state regulation of abortion facilities, and more."

With each new restriction comes less choice. And what if your options in life are already limited by factors like poverty, class or rural isolation? Frontline interviewed an abortion clinic owner in the rural South who was able to give us some important perspective on this:
I think that we're being triaged. I think that basically the folks that are supportive of abortion rights are saying: "We can't save everybody, so let's just let Mississippi...go. We're not going to be able to save those women, and let's concentrate on who we can save." And that's frightening. Certainly it's frightening because we're here. We're being triaged, cast out, if you will.

But yet again, these women, the neediest of the needy, are being deserted. And when we have the most major spokespeople in the country backing away from the abortion issue, then there's no one left. Who's speaking for these women now?"
She goes on to explain how these State laws erode women's access to abortion care. The owner also reminds us how her State's refusal to fund either (a) the care itself or (b) the training required for new abortion providers (doctors, etc) affect access:
And so this whole movement has occurred where it's almost a death by a thousand cuts. Each little law that's passed, each little regulation that passed on the surface may not seem like that much. And, you know, even with the 24-hour law, it looks good. What's wrong with giving women information and letting them take 24 hours to think about it, until you realize all of the devastation that can cause? And few folks follow that to the natural conclusion."
[...]
The procedure itself, first-trimester abortion, is just simple. It is minor surgery. Regardless of what you think of abortion, regardless of the moral consequences, the one thing that is absolutely true is a first-trimester abortion is very safe and very easy to perform. So you have this paradox of the very simple procedure, this very safe procedure no one's being trained in, and such a level of harassment around doctors providing abortion care that it makes it really difficult to find physicians that are brave enough and willing to provide care.
[...]
And the state also provides no monies for abortion services, although they will provide all resources for prenatal care. So what the state has done is basically subjected a class of women, poor women, to forced maternity on behalf of the state.

And
they can do it because they can get away with it. These are voiceless and faceless women. They don't have representation in the legislature or really in Congress. No one's speaking on their behalf. And in that example, to some extent, it is like the pre-Roe days...Abortion is not a fundamental right for many, many women, particularly for poor women and rural women. There's no doubt about it that it is as though abortion is illegal.
"No one's speaking on their behalf"

So. Who will speak up for these women, now? If we recall for a moment the 'official' Blog for Choice theme ('Why vote for choice?'), we can't help but worry about which 2008 presidential candidates will really speak up for these women. Gloria Feldt asked the same question, on Tuesday morning (Huffington Post):
The elections will determine the future for all of us Roes. That's why a mortally wounded Roe v Wade's 35th anniversary requires the candidates to answer my questions in full. Facile answers to "Are you pro-choice or anti-choice?" and "Do you support the Roe v Wade decision?" or "Do you believe the Constitution includes a right to privacy?" don't suffice any more.

I am Roe and I have these questions for presidential candidates:

1. Do you agree that reproductive rights are human rights? (If your answer is "no", do not pass go, do not collect my paltry campaign contribution, and no two-stepping explanation will bail you out.)

2. If your answer is "yes", tell me what you'll do to lead America to secure a more durable policy and legal basis for reproductive self-determination.
I am rooting for you, America's Pro-Choice population! I don't know whom you'll elect, but here are some parting links to help you make your choice about choice:
*NB: The next American President will probably have an opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, as well as untold numbers of lower-court Judges!

Update [Wed, Jan 23, 2008, 3:02 AM]: Read lots of other Canadian perspectives on the 35th anniversary of Roe. Too many great ones to link to individually!

Read on, MacDuff!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Time to Celebrate! Presenting: the Canadian F-word Blog Awards


Hear ye! Hear ye! Step right up and place your bets! Preeeeeeesenting: The Canadian Feminist...d'oh! F-word Blog Awards. Brought to you by the brilliant minds at 'A Creative Revolution.'

Snubbed by mainstream blog awards.

Accused of being "in a snit".

What's a feminist blogger to do when she's all dressed up with no place to go?
Announcing the First Annual Canadian F-word Blog Awards!

Join us in celebrating the best Canadian feminism has to offer - activists, artists, uppity women, and more snark than you can shake a stick at.
This event is being hosted by A Creative Revolution.

Nominations graciously accepted from January 25 to February 8
The nomination list
First voting/elimination round: February 15 - 16
Final Vote: February 22 - 23
Winners announced February 24

Now, I'm not posting this to prod anyone to vote for kitty, as I've only been blogging on a spotty, intermittent basis this last year or so. Also, I'm allergic to competition ;) Rather, I'm using this F-word awards announcement to take the opportunity to promote all the fantabulous Canadian feminist blogs out there. Take a look at the H&O blogroll--loads of great nominees right there, so please take the time to check'em out!

Hats off to Pale, Prole & co. for taking the initiative. And congratulations, pale, on the kick-ass video. Cheers!


Read on, MacDuff!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Huckabee: love the one behind you


Seriously, it's so important he said it twice (Iowa victory speech, Jan 3, 2008):
Ladies and gentlemen, I recognize that running for office is not hating those who are in front of us. It's loving those who are behind us.
[...]
Now, ladies and gentlemen, for the same reason that our founding fathers and those before us saw what was behind us and gave it their best, I ask you to join me across Iowa and the rest of America to look out there in front of us and not to hate those, but to look behind us, and to love them so much that we will do whatever it takes to make America a better country...
Who? Who's behind you, Huck? I mean, other than Chuck Norris, of course. Actually, I'm starting to think it's Republican hatchet-man, Ed Rollins (WaPo, Jan 2, 2008):
Rollins, as both a former pugilist and a backroom storyteller, is great with the blow-by-blow. So he's giving us his version of what happened. The original idea for the advertising campaign was his, says Rollins, who joined the campaign in December. Though not entirely comfortable with Rollins's approach, Huckabee certainly wasn't happy with what Romney was doing with his record.
[...]
"I told him, 'As far as I'm concerned, governor, it's your race. You've gotten this far. I've only been here two weeks,' " Rollins recalls. "But I also told him there's going to be a definite reaction, a cynicism from the press. You didn't have 100 reporters and 30 cameras sitting in a room because you're putting up a commercial. They think they're here to see Ed Rollins coming back to
drop to the knees and fire at the groin of Mitt Romney."
[...]
He and Huckabee first met early last year at the New York home of Republican icon Georgette Mosbacher. After Huckabee spoke, Rollins, the grizzled brawler, says he felt deeply moved and told Huckabee so. Then, over the series of debates which Rollins calls "stupid,"
he watched Huckabee closely and grew to like him more. In early December, Rollins sent an e-mail to Huckabee offering his paid services, which Huckabee accepted.

"With someone like me," Rollins says, "you've got someone who's been around the track. If I don't have a good horse, I'm not going to win. But if I have a medium horse, I can make him a competitor.
If I have a great horse, he's a winner. All I have to do is not fall off."
And Rollins proves, once again, that you never really forget your first time:
"This is not me going down some reminiscent trail," Rollins says. "It's me seeing someone who's tapping into a populist dissatisfaction in this country as it was in '92, as it was in '80 with Reagan. I mean this with all sincerity. I told my wife last night that I've haven't had more fun or been more turned on by a candidate since Reagan. There's a sincerity there. He's smart. He's a young Reagan."
Hey, Ed & Mike, I wish ya all the best. I just hope you don't live in Arkansas. Some batshit crazy pastor-governor tried to enact all kindsa homophobic laws there (from Think Progress):
Huckabee is against gay marriage, arguing that “civilization” may not survive if “what marriage and family means” is “rewritten.” As Governor of Arkansas, he “avidly” supported the state amendment banning gay marriage. That wasn’t the only anti-gay public policy Huckabee pushed in Arkansas:
– In 1997, Huckabee requested an amendment to a state Senate bill stating “that it is Arkansas public policy to prohibit sodomy to protect the traditional family structure.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/23/1997]
– In 1998, Huckabee supported banning gay men and women from acting as foster parents because “it is not in the best interest of children.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 7/29/1998]
– In 2003, Huckabee said “If you ask for survivor benefits to be paid to a same-sex survivor, I think we have a right to say no to that.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 7/3/2003]
Well, the good news is that you have a choice. You don't have to love the one behind you, at least not within earshot of Tim Russert. And you certainly don't have to marry the one behind you. But it's a darn good thing you took precautions and renewed your vows to Janet--that "covenant marriage" is really paying off! Just think of the mess you'd be in without your super-duper-control-top marriage! *cough*

Oh, and unlike the fuddy duddies in Arkansas, I don't begrudge you your covenant wedding ceremony, Huck. In fact, I tip my hat--you and Janet really knew how to make Arkansans feel...um...included in your family's special moments (Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone):
Huckabee has also been accused of paying himself as a consultant to his own senatorial campaign, allowing special interests to pay for airline tickets for his daughter, receiving a canoe from a Coke bottler and — hilariously, if you're wont to laugh at the sheer small-town gauche greediness of it all — setting up a "wedding registry" at Target and Dillard's department stores so citizens could lavish the Huckabees with gifts as they renewed their marriage vows. The long list of desired goodies included twenty-four settings of Lenox "Holiday Nouveau" china, a KitchenAid mixer and a "Jack La Lanne power juicer." If you didn't want to pick out something yourself, the Huckabees were glad to take straight cash. "Message from the couple," the registry noted. "Target GiftCards are welcome."
Say, Huck? Gawsh, this is embarrassing, but I gotta confess: I couldn't track down a "Power Juicer" for your big day. Perhaps I could interest you instead in a Power...uh. Nemmind.

h/t to the awesome Rachel Maddow, for the Huckabee Iowa speech (mentioned on her Jan 4th show)

Read on, MacDuff!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"Testicle lockboxes" and other 2008 Love Stories (*Updated*)

Now that's one helluva title, eh? I first heard this charming expression on the December 7th broadcast of Bill Moyers' Journal. I should hasten to add that Moyers was merely quoting, among others, the execrable Rush Limbaugh:
I mean on Rush Limbaugh, he talks about Clinton's testicle lockbox. MSNBC's Tucker Carlson says there's just something about her that feels castrating. One of his guests, a former spokesman from the Republican National Committee, Clifford May, says that if Clinton is going to appeal to women for support on the basis of her gender, at least call her a vaginal-American.
Hey! Remember the 90s? Yeah. Me too. You know, I realize this might be a huge leap for some of you Konservatives out there, but it's actually OK to find fault with Sen. Clinton without dragging out your inner caveman. Gawd, this is so retro...or so I thought. I mean, we're all aware of Limbaugh and Tucker and their "schtick." No surprises there. Who listens to these pilonidal cysts anywayz?

The internets. The misogynistic anti-Hillary vids and social-wotsitz are full of poisonous, violent, sexual imagery about the Jr. Senator from the State of New York. Moyers interviewed Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and Prof. Jamieson has unearthed an entire 'underground' (or rather, 'innertubez') network of impossibly hateful online-stuff. On Facebook, par example:
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: [...] the graphic images, the images that are manufactured to be placed in these [anti-Hillary Facebook] sites are such that you wouldn't want to be associated with them in any way, nor would I. And they contain such things as graphic representations of what a donkey should do to Hillary Clinton. They contain language suggesting various sexual acts in relationship to Hillary Clinton. They reduce Hillary Clinton to various sexual body parts. They engage in characterizations of her in relationship to her policies.
[...] BILL MOYERS: Here are some of the entries from Facebook, you know? "Hillary can't handle one man; how can she handle 150 million of them? Send her back to the kitchen to get a sandwich. She belongs back with the dishes, not upfront with the leaders." It goes on and on like that.

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]
First off, do not make the mistake of interpreting Jamieson's research as an endorsement of Sen. Clinton. Both Jamieson and Moyers go out of their respective ways to state that they're not endorsing anyone. Jamieson is an old hand (pardon the ageist expression) at this media studies stuff, particularly following media portrayals of women in leadership positions (e.g. her 1995 book on the subject). As such, she is able to put some of these interwebz attacks in context (to Moyers):
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Well, and at one time there was actually an argument that if women became educated, they would become infertile. There was also, for a long period of time, serious penalties for women who tried to speak in public. And the residue of this is a language that suggests that women in power cannot be women and be in power. And as a result, as Hillary Clinton certifies herself as being tough enough to be president, competent enough to be president, these attacks say then she can't be president because she's not actually a woman. And you can't trust someone who is that inauthentic. So underlying this and underlying the vulgarity and underlying the assertions of raw sexual violence is deep fear about a woman holding power.
But I'm not sure that it's only about that with Hillary Clinton because Hillary Clinton has been attacked as long as she's been in the public sphere. She came into national public awareness with the candidacy of Bill Clinton.
Some of this coincides with attacks on liberals and Hillary Clinton as a liberal woman. Some of this coincides with original attacks when she was in the White House and what was framed as exercise of unelected power. And one of the questions that-- I find interesting is this hypothetical. Let's say if Elizabeth Dole was this far along in the polls for the Republican nomination. Would she be subject to the same kinds of attacks? And I think the answer is no.
Moyers went on to play some of the more 'benign' (PBS-safe, non bestial etc.) clips of these viral video attacks. You can watch them at the PBS website (piece with Jamieson begins at 4 min 11 sec). Some are just plain goofy--Hillary's the devil--the hornz! Or, Hillary's a witch! The cackle!

Wait...Witch? Don't you mean...um. Yeah. "How do we beat the bitch?"
BILL MOYERS: This is why some women whom I know and respect say, as much as they admire Hillary Clinton for her role all these years, they would rather see her not run next year because it's going to open up all of this animosity, vilification, and vituperation.
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: One of the complications of this is we're moving into new linguistic territory. And we haven't found a way to discuss this. When a woman stands up and asks Senator McCain, "How do we beat the bitch?" and there isn't a clear statement by Senator McCain that that's not the way one characterizes, you know, my opponent on the Democratic side. And there's not a public commentary that surrounds it the way there was a public commentary about the statement by Imus or about the comedian from SEINFELD. Essentially what we say to the culture at large is that
must be appropriate discourse to apply to a female candidate running for office — or at least this female candidate.
BILL MOYERS: It's okay to talk this way.
Look, I can't say, in all honesty, that I was surprised when this McCain-supporter clip first hit the media. Or to hear the "B" word used in this context. I just spent some time in Florida and that word was flyin' around a lot viz Sen. Clinton. Ditto for any epithets relating to the damage or "busting," if you will, of a certain prized pair of organs. (She's a socialist! She wants to turn us into a nanny state!). Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton has attained a certain bugaboo status down South that has nothing to do with, well, anything she's actually done.

She is a caricature--a face at which they can throw their darts/stick their pins/throw their poo.

Sidebar to the passionately anti-Hillary progressives out there--and you must trust me when I say this--they are not pondering the finer nuances of her positions on the Peru Free Trade Act or the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment when they fling their poo. Quite the contrary. Believe me, they know nothing of this incarnation of Hillary Clinton.

No. This is the manifestation of 15+ years of utterly fucked-up authoritarian/follower, call/response B.S. Call it Konservative Konditioning, but I'm afraid it's just pure reflex now.
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The way we find that these kinds of characterizations of Hillary Clinton have been out there is to look to other forms of media throughout the 1990s where we do, indeed, find them. Hillary Clinton as dominatrix, for example, is one of the ongoing themes and one of the parodies on Rush Limbaugh.
Which brings us back to Rush. Poor, helpless 1990s-Rush. Back then, you know, before Media Matters and the internetz, the only way a Canadian like me could learn about Rush was through the comedic writings of Al Franken and Michael Moore. And yea, I did read Franken and Moore, and I was suitably horrified, not just by Rush's shenanigans, but those of his callers & compatriots in AM Radioland. From Moore's 1997 "Downsize This" (Chapter 20, "My Forbidden Love for Hillary"):
Bill and Hillary are attending the first baseball game of the season. Just before the game starts, Bill picks up the First Lady and throws her out on the field. "No! No!" cries an adviser. "Mr. President, you're here to throw out the first *p*itch!" --Joke heard on right-wing talk radio.
[...]
Talk radio has ...made Hillary its favorite target, bashing her up one side and down the other for a list of sins that, if they weren't filled with so much inciteful violence against her, would be hysterical. Callers like to describe what they would do to her if given the chance.

What does Hillary Clinton do every morning after she shaves her pussy? She sends him off to work in the White House. Why has Hillary Clinton banned miniskirts in the White House? Because she doesn't want anyone to see her balls.
Classy, eh? Well, here's where I'm still attempting to square the circle, as it were: Moore wrote about this stuff in 1997. But this Godfather of the Modern Lefty Polemic wrote about this in a chapter entitled, "My Forbidden Love for Hillary." What's more (punny!), Moore actually referred to her as a "Shit kickin' feminist babe." Can you imagine Moore serenading her thusly in this election year? The Senator Clinton of 2008? Yeah, neither can he. In fact, just last Wednesday, Moore published a letter about his lost love (Jan 2, 2008):
Those of you who are longtime readers of mine may remember that 11 years ago I wrote a chapter (in my first book) entitled, "My Forbidden Love for Hillary." I was fed up with the treatment she was getting, most of it boringly sexist, and I thought somebody should stand up for her. I later met her and she thanked me for referring to her as "one hot s***kicking feminist babe." I supported and contributed to her run for the U.S. Senate. I think she is a decent and smart person who loves this country, cares deeply about kids, and has put up with more crap than anyone I know of (other than me) from the Crazy Right. Her inauguration would be a thrilling sight, ending 218 years of white male rule in a country where 51% of its citizens are female and 64% are either female or people of color.

And yet, I am sad to say, nothing has disappointed me more than the disastrous, premeditated vote by Senator Hillary Clinton to send us to war in Iraq. I'm not only talking about her first vote that gave Mr. Bush his "authorization" to invade -- I'm talking about every single OTHER vote she then cast for the next four years, backing and funding Bush's illegal war, and doing so with verve.
Blah, blah, blah, you know the rest of the progressive rap sheet on Sen. Clinton. So Moore went on to speak less harshly of Teh Hope! Look! It's Hope! Obama, but, like Nader, he eventually kinda endorsed John Edwards. Look, it's probably a mug's game to talk endorsements and progressive "cred." So Edwards has Nader, Moore, Sarandon and Robbins. Obama has Kucinich, most of Hollywood, Oprah and her Book Club (Hey, she was right about that Poisonwood Bible thing!). Clinton? Hmm...that ol' peacenik McGovern endorsed her, and so did RFK Jr. Not to be sniffed at, you know.

Le Sigh. They are all flawed candidates. Can I speak personally for a second? Ok: I'm deeply uneasy about all of them. I warn you, though: while some of my discomfort is the result of years of reading and serious-pants-discussion, some of my reasons are just downright "gut level," but not, I repeat NOT the result of Konservative Konditioning! (if anything, they're the result of too much Simpsons-viewing). Ok. Deep breath. You can do this, kitty...year of blogging dangerously, and all that sherry-infused-New-Years-crap. Here goes:

I confess, I used to idolize Clinton in the early days post-Reagan/BushI. She was exciting, I was in Grade 13, and never heard anyone talk like her before. Fast-forward to the Senate years and...oy. So disappointing. Clinton's voting record on trade, war funding and Iran have been almost ALL wrong, and I really have to grep my memory for exceptions. I did like how she put a hold on that creepy anti-choice FDA nominee, von Eschenbach and gave Rumsfeld the dressing down of a lifetime at the Abu Ghraib hearings. And the woman can do research--that I have seen in some of her committee performances. You know: for what it's worth, 'n all.

Obama likes to talk about how good his judgement was pre-Iraq, but his Senate votes re: Iraq have been virtually identical to Clinton's (save for the one regarding confirmation of Gen. Casey--Clinton was ag'in him). Sure, I will grant you that Obama's a phenomenal speaker, but he has an annoying habit of...uhh...not actually saying anything. I still don't know WTF the man is really for, do you? (And P.S.: small point, but what kinda narcissist writes their memoirs at 34 years old? I wannu know!).

For his part, Edwards has really been talkin' the talk since he got his Golly-Gee-ass handed to him in 2004. The capital-L-Labour talk hits all the right buttons. And you gotta love Elizabeth--I mean it, you really gotta love Elizabeth. Unlike her hubby, she's not afraid to come right out (pardonnez-moi) and advocate for equal marriage. Not afraid of no Coultergeists, neither. No sirree. And for all the MSM flak she's taken for being a 'loose cannon,' the woman is totally fearless about speaking extemporaneously on just about any topic. I luvs it. Elizabeth should be running.

But. Try as I might, I'm just not "feelin' it" for John boy. I give him top marks for admitting his mistake on the 2002 AUMF for Iraq. But the dude was on the intelligence committee back then. How could he have missed it? Even dotey ol' Bob Graham was motoring around the country with his hair on fire, trying to warn his fellow donkeys.

And...this is kinda cynical of me, but perhaps I've heard Edwards' speech too many times to buy it. I think it's called: Sonofamillworker, which is one word, btw. Ok there's more than one speech--there's the 2004 version and the 2007 "Remix." Other petty campaign notes? It helps to point at an actual millworker in the audience, if available, but any guy in a STP trucker hat will do in a pinch. Really. He's probably just happy you came. Just don't engage him if he asks you about how you might actually back out of these horrible-yet-entrenched trade agreements with a recalcitrant Congress and absolutely zero policy apparatus. Note to John: direct questions to Elizabeth. Or, if you've got a lotta time to kill, just talk about your favourite movie or something...wait, what's that again? Did we settle on Dr. Strangelove? I can't remember.

Ok, I'm done pissing and moaning. Seriously, it's a good thing I have the luxury of turning up my nose from above the 49th, eh? I honestly don't know what I'd do, if I were 'merican. I mean, we could go whole vegan-hog and dismiss them all if you'd like, as they did on Democracy Now. Turns out the top 3 are all evul warmongers suffering from American exceptionalism syndrome. So what else is new? What do you do if you're an American? Stay home? Wait for Nader? I mean, the guy's gonna run as soon as Edwards flames out. (Seriously: what do you expect him to do when that happens?)

I don't know what I'd do. But I do know I have one thing in common with Michael Moore: I miss 1992 Hillary. And I luuurve 2008 Elizabeth Edwards. Ladies & Gentlemen: Hail to the 'Vaginal Americans!'
Oh. At least for now, Barack can be their Attorney General. Or Toast Master General. Or maybe they can put him in charge of the lockbox. Oh, get your mind outta the gutter, ditto heads: I just mean he's got a thing or two to learn about Social Security ;)

Photo Credits: circa-1990s photo of Hillary Rodham Clinton via "Downsize This," by Michael Moore, 1997. Photo by Dennis Brack (Black Star). Elizabeth Edwards via "First Wives Club Contenders"

UPDATE [Jan 8, 2:37 PM]--Wow, I didn't see this story before I wrote my post:
Edwards offered little sympathy and pounced on the opportunity to question Clinton's ability to endure the stresses of the presidency.

"I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business," Edwards told reporters Laconia, New Hampshire.

Earlier in the day, Clinton became emotional when speaking to a group of voters in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Grrr! Not cool, Johnny. Not cool :( Amanda Marcotte and Antonia Zerbisias have more to say. From Ross K (the comments at Antonia's place), it looks like one of Edwards' campaign managers ("Mudcat" Saunders) got a dressing down from teh awesome Rachel Maddow. FWIW, neither Marcotte, Zerbisias, nor Maddow are in any way, shape or form declared for HRC.

Read on, MacDuff!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy New Year, Gorgeous HappySad

"Sea Green" from William Orbit's "Hello Waveforms" CD:

This is one of the many reasons I am lucky to have met Mr. Kitty. I don't know where he finds such gorgeous music, but he does. Not bad for guy who's 1/2 deaf, eh?

Love & kisses, my gorgeous happysad. Here's to 2008!

Read on, MacDuff!