Friday, May 30, 2008

What finger are you?

I swear, I don't know who these people are that keep thinking up these surveys. And, I don't know why I feel compelled to keep taking them. But here's another one. Take from it what you will ....

You Are a Pinky

You are fiercely independent, and possibly downright weird.

A great communicator, you can get along with almost anyone.

You are kind and sympathetic. You support all your friends - and love them for who they are.

You get along well with: The Ring Finger

Stay away from: The Thumb

Hat tip to MLC, but be careful with that one — she's The Middle Finger!

Hey Jello Heads! Now We Are One!

Yup, it's been one year ago today since I started this blog. Did I pick good year, or what?! This blog has undergone a few changes over the past 12 months -- a name change, a design change -- and much like Hillary Clinton once said, during the course of this journey "I found my voice."

I also found a lot of other great voices out there. And as I ponder the mysteries of life -- Why is there war? Why do some on this planet have so much more than they need, while others have nothing? Will I see an end to sexism and racism in America in my lifetime? Why can't I ever seem to lose that last 5 pounds? -- I have found wonderful insight and thoughtful words. As well as some delicious snark.

I've tried to collect a helpful list on my blogroll to the right, so I hope you visit any or all of them. But I do also want to highlight a few individual bloggers whom I enjoy reading, and who often stop by here as well. So, in no order at all, I highly recommend you stop by the following blog establishments, and support your independent blogger:

Political Voices of Women


Princess Sparkle Pony

Quaker Agitator

Suzi Riot

Pam's House Blend ... always steamin'

Suburban Lesbian Housewife

Blue Gal

Tennessee Guerilla Women

Mauigirl's Meanderings

Divine Democrat (Oh, M.E., I know you're on hiatus closed for business, but I continue to hold out hope that your blog returns some day ....)

Mock, Paper, Scissors

Unrepentant Old Hippie



Mid-Life Clarity

Some of my favorite blogs I have found by clicking on blogrolls at these folks' blogs. So check 'em out --you never know what you might find. And then let me know if you discover one that you think we might enjoy here. I'll gladly add to the blogroll any time!

Jello photo from Edgewriter

Thursday, May 29, 2008

111 nations agree to ban cluster bombs -- U.S. not one of them

Yes, American corporate media is busying squealing like pigs in poop over the latest opportunity to take a political candidate's minor and irrelevant gaffe and blow it into a a major news event. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is trying to save the lives of innocent civilians. But would our media carry this story? Will Keith Olbermann do a "Special Comment" on this story?

From the Washington Post:
LONDON, May 28 -- More than 100 countries reached agreement Wednesday to ban cluster bombs, controversial weapons that human rights groups deplore but that the United States, which did not join the ban, calls an integral, legitimate part of its arsenal.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose personal intervention Wednesday led to final agreement among representatives of 111 countries gathered in Dublin, called the ban a "big step forward to make the world a safer place."

In addition to the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan -- all of them major producers or users of the weapons -- did not sign the agreement or participate in the talks.

So what's the big deal, you say? "'Cluster' bombs can't be too bad -- we're not talking about anything nuclear, are we?" Well, yeah, actually they're unbelievably nasty:
The weapons consist of canisters packed with small bombs, or "bomblets," that spread over a large area when a canister is dropped from a plane or fired from the ground. While the bomblets are designed to explode on impact, they frequently do not. Civilians, particularly children, are often maimed or killed when they pick up unexploded bombs, sometimes years later.
And so you might add, well fine. Let these 111 countries do what they want. But oh no -- the Bush Administration can't leave it at that:
American officials are not attending the treaty talks but have lobbied hard in world capitals to undermine the treaty. Diplomats in Dublin say US Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice and even President George W. Bush have been telephoning their counterparts around the world to promote US positions.

“In the end, the Americans had very little support in Dublin,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s a big defeat for the Bush administration. This conference is going to produce a strong treaty banning cluster munitions, and there’s nothing the White House can do to stop it.”
photo from No More Landmines

Equal time for comments taken out of context: Obama's turn

There was so much furor and uproar over Hillary Clinton's recent comment including Bobby Kennedy's assassination recently, that I thought I'd give equal time to highlight the ridiculousness of the media rush to judge Barack Obama over his harmless mistake in telling a family history.

In the past, I've written about my concern with Obama's tendency to be more concerned with telling a good story than with getting all the facts right. This is different. This is a harmless mistake: wrong camp. From Crooks and Liars:

Speaking in New Mexico on Memorial Day, Obama said a great-uncle had helped to liberate the Auschwitz death camp at the end of World War II. “I had a uncle who was one of the, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps,” Obama said (a YouTube clip of the remarks quickly went viral online).

He continued: “And the story in my family is that when he came home, he just went into the attic, and he didn’t leave the house for six months. All right? Now, obviously something had affected him deeply, but at the time, there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain.”

That may be a fact, the RNC noted gleefully — but only if Obama’s uncle had served in the Red Army of Joseph Stalin, which liberated Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945.

Obama’s campaign said yesterday that he had erred in naming the camp but not in describing the role of his great-uncle, who partook in the liberation of Buchenwald.

C&L rightly describes this as "one of the dumber outrages of the 2008 presidential campaign this week."

In case you missed it, please read the Politico defense for promoting such trivial, un-newsworthy stories such as this, un- self-consciously entitled "How small stories become big news."

It's all about the traffic, baby.

Hate crimes in Michigan up 133% in the last year

Yes, while some states creep forward (California, New York), others remain a dangerous place for gays and lesbians. Blogger Sara Whitman of Suburban Lesbian Housewife, gives some personal insight into the realities of life for LGBT families:

As a woman, I have been raised with a certain level of fear about my safety. Girls are always told to watch where they go, never walk alone, don’t dress too provocatively, and know that men basically only want one thing from you.

We are taught to be afraid, and to live accordingly.

I don’t want to raise my children to be afraid. I am tired of being afraid. But I am a mother and my first instinct is to protect. When I told my children about the California decision, my middle son Zachary said, 'Now we can live in California, too.'

Massachusetts and California. That’s it.

What a joy it was for me to be in Provincetown for a week, and be able to walk down the street holding my sweetie's hand. Sure, wherever we are we sometimes hold hands and hug, in public. But never, never without a lingering thought that we could be in danger of bodily harm for doing it. That's the fear. It embodies itself as a constant self-consciousness over who I am and what other people think of me. And an understanding of where I am safe -- and where I am not.

I can't imagine how hard that must be to see that in your children. But as Sara says, a mother protects her children, and whether you call it being afraid or respecting danger, this is the reality of the world we live in today. It's not right, and it's up to us to change it.
It’s not acceptable in our society to be violent against someone because they are different. It is not acceptable because violence is not acceptable. We have fundamental human rights.
Please read Sara's entire post at In addition to knowing where all the good restaurants are in Ptown, she's a damn good writer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The press sure HEARTS McCain!

Peter Hart has written an excellent summary of the long love affair between the mainstream media and John McCain, posted over at FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).
If you pay even passing attention to national politics, you know that presumptive GOP presidential candidate John McCain is a maverick who bucks his own party’s line and never wavers in his political beliefs. At least, that’s what the corporate media say—reality tells a very different story.

The origin of the McCain the Maverick storyline is hard to pin down, but it gained a serious boost after CBS’s 60 Minutes delivered a mostly fawning segment headlined “The Maverick From Arizona” (10/12/97) that celebrated his quest to reform the campaign finance system. CBS interviewed several of McCain’s harshest home-state critics, but that tape was left on the cutting room floor (New Republic, 5/24/99). And CBS’s allegedly tough-as-nails correspondent Mike Wallace was clearly enamored with McCain, going so far as to say that he was considering joining his campaign: “I’m thinking I may quit my job if he gets the nomination,” Wallace declared (Washington Post, 6/8/98).

It’s hard to overstate how vital this “maverick” meme is to media coverage of McCain.

“McCain is nothing if not a maverick,” declared U.S. News & World Report (4/7/08), while CBS host Bob Schieffer (7/15/07) called him the “most famous maverick of the last half of the 20th century.” Time magazine (1/21/08) dubbed McCain “a free-ranging, fence-jumping, kick-the-corral maverick.”

McCain wasn’t much of a maverick when the media affixed that label to him. He became one very briefly, and then returned more or less back to where he started.

McCain’s voting pattern bears out this analysis. Before the 2000 campaign, McCain was consistently among the party’s most conservative members. In the 107th Congress (2001–02), McCain was the sixth most liberal Republican senator, according to the VoteView statistical analysis of voting patterns. In the next congressional session, he was the fourth most conservative.
And he’s more or less stayed there since. According to VoteView, McCain’s voting record in 2005–06 made him the second-most conservative senator in the 109th Congress, and the eighth-most conservative in the 110th Senate. Outside of McCain’s brief tack to the middle, his overall voting record makes him a reliable member of his party’s caucus.
Read the rest of the story here ....

Wednesday poetry break

In honor of my Baltimore Orioles defeating the evil New York Yankees in a hard fought game (11 innings) last night, here's a poem by May Swenson. Coincidentally, it was the one read by Garrison Keillor today on The Writer's Almanac.

Analysis of Baseball

It's about
the ball,
the bat,
and the mitt.
Ball hits
bat, or it
hits mitt.
Bat doesn't
hit ball, bat
meets it.
Ball bounces
off bat, flies
air, or thuds
ground (dud)
or it
fits mitt.

Bat waits
for ball
to mate.
Ball hates
to take bat's
bait. Ball
flirts, bat's
late, don't
keep the date.
Ball goes in
(thwack) to mitt,
and goes out
(thwack) back
to mitt.

Ball fits
mitt, but
not all
the time.
ball gets hit
(pow) when bat
meets it,
and sails
to a place
where mitt
has to quit
in disgrace.
That's about
the bases
about 40,000
fans exploded.

It's about
the ball,
the bat,
the mitt,
the bases
and the fans.
It's done
on a diamond,
and for fun.
It's about
home, and it's
about run.

— May Swenson

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Keep Up With the Boys...But Don't Be Better

From the incomparable Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville comes this post from which one cannot help but draw parallels to the Democratic Party nomination disaster ....
Jamie Nared, a 12-year-old girl who is six feet tall and an extremely talented basketball player, has been playing on a mixed-sex team since the second grade—but has suddenly been banned from playing with boys after parents complained. Her coach, Michael Abraham, and her parents (and, frankly, video of her game) suggest that the complaints arose because Jamie is so good and makes the boys on opposing teams look bad.

Jaime's mom, Reiko Williams, said the issue boiled over after a particular game. "She scored 30 points," Williams said. "I remember one play. She stole the ball, dribbled up court and made a behind-the-back pass to a teammate. He missed the lay-in, and she grabbed the rebound and put it in. I think it was just too much for some of those parents."

Abraham put Jaime on the boys team to match her skills and keep her with peers. He has had her play on high-school girls teams, but many travel and "her parents want her to be around kids her own age," Abraham said.

Neal Franzer, The Hoop's director of operations, said Thursday that parents were "adamant" that their complaints have nothing to do with Jaime's skills.

"They said the problem was the boys were playing differently against her because she was a girl," he said. "They'd been taught to not push a girl, so they weren't fouling her hard, and the focus had shifted from playing basketball to noticing a girl was on the floor with them."

To which Melissa keenly observes:
You'll note there are two little bits of victim-blaming there: 1. Jamie is a girl—so the boys can't help but be too easy on her; and 2. Jamie is a girl—so the boys can't help but be distracted by her. Either way: It's her fault.
And here's where I can't help but think about all of the asshats pundits who are calling for Hillary Clinton to quit the race:
There's a solution to this problem, naturally: Let Jamie play with the boys her own age, as she's been doing. But it's better to make her, and all the rest of the girls in her age group, suffer than risk emasculating boys who her team may beat. And forget about the boys on her team who are challenged and inspired by Jamie, like her teammate Joey Alfieri, who adorably says, "Her greatness, like, it, like, sprinkles off and goes onto us, and it kinda makes us better as a player, too."

Instead, it's the same old shit: Protect the boys most indoctrinated into the patriarchy (and/or their parents) and fiercely defend their privilege. Maude forbid they actually have to face the possibility that there might be a girl on the planet who's better at something than they are, or learn how to treat girls as their equals.

Meanwhile, the girls are taught one of the most important lessons of the patriarchy: The promise that if you work hard and do as well as the boys you'll be treated equally is a lie. If you do as well or—gasp!—better than the boys, you'll just be barred from competing, or segregated, or stopped however the rules allow, or demeaned until you quit.
My emphasis there, but please read the rest of the post here.

On Clinton's comment about Bobby Kennedy UPDATED

Okay, folks. This is all I'm going to say about it. From the New York Times:
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton, defended her remarks in a telephone interview on Friday evening.

“I’ve heard her make that argument before,” Mr. Kennedy said, speaking on his cellphone as he drove to the family compound in Hyannis Port, Mass. “It sounds like she was invoking a familiar historical circumstance in support of her argument for continuing her campaign.
So to everyone who's still trying to get Hillary Clinton to be a good girl and get out of the way so the boys can finish their game, stop twisting the facts. And to the rest of you, who read and accepted the blowhards' take on Clinton's comments before you actually read Clinton's comments, stop. Stop and think. For yourself.

I just came across a post at Politico that is both enlightening and depressing. Politico played a huge part in flaming the fire of this non-story, and reporter John Harris describes the process and thought that went into the decision to take Clinton's comments, out of context, and make an issue out of them. He is unapologetic in his desire to increase traffic at his website:
The truth about what Clinton said — and any fair-minded appraisal of what she meant — was entirely beside the point.

Her comment was news by any standard. But it was only big news when wrested from context and set aflame by a news media more concerned with being interesting and provocative than with being relevant or serious. Thus, the story made the front page of The New York Times, was the lead story of The Washington Post and got prominent treatment on the evening news on ABC, CBS and NBC.

As leaders of a new publication, Politico’s senior editors and I are relentlessly focused on audience traffic. The way to build traffic on the Web is to get links from other websites. The way to get links is to be first with news — sometimes big news, sometimes small — that drives that day’s conversation.

We are unapologetic in our premium on high velocity. In this focus on links and traffic we are not different from nearly all news sites these days, not just new publications but established ones like The New York Times.
Look, we all want more traffic. But according to Harris, Politico is more concerned with getting linked by other established publications than it is about reporting relevant or serious news stories. Think about that next time you cite Politico at your blog.

The media continues to tear apart the Democratic Party. And we continue to let them.

From a guest post over at Taylor Marsh's blog, a young woman who says what so many of us are feeling, with much greater eloquence:
Let me introduce myself. I am 29 year old female serving in the United States Army. I am black. I am proud. And I am a supporter of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

We have seen daily how Senator Clinton moves forward to speak for our loved ones, our families and our friends, despite the constant call for her to step down. She has gone forward despite the obstacles in her path and she has continued to fight. To attempt to destroy the reputation, the name of the former First Lady and Senator by falsely portraying her supporters as racist is one of the worst mistakes of the 2008 election process. To use the the history and the struggles in the black community to destroy another person's political career is the worst form of politics imaginable.

The media is slowly destroying the black community with their words. MSNBC should fire Keith Olbermann and let him return to being a radio sportscaster. They are ripping the Democratic Party apart and they are dividing this nation. Any sane, reasonable and coherent person can see that the cries of "racism" are their attempts to get Senator Clinton to leave this race. By any means necessary. Therefore any sane, reasonable and coherent person watching this debacle is going to resent what is happening, because anyone can see that Senator Clinton is being railroaded.

African Americans are not in any way stupid. If we believed that there was this level of racial discourse as these pundits make it out to be we would be marching on Washington D.C. But now we can only watch in horror as the media destroys our history. The only ones who are "outraged" are those who have no idea of true racial hatred.
Please read the rest here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day: Did you know it did not originate with the Indy 500?

It's another Memorial Day weekend -- the pools are opening for the summer season, grills are on sale at Lowe's, and we all get a day off from work today.

Yes, it's yet another opportunity for Americans to take something solemn and serious, and turn it into a mindless party.

Indeed, try to wrap your head around this: with our economy in a shambles in large part because we are fighting 2 impossible wars, and with thousands of our soldiers dead because of those wars, our government has sent us an "economic stimulus" check  -- which merchants nationwide are encouraging us to spend this weekend on things we really don't need.

So not only will we ignore the meaning of this national holiday, we'll do so in comfort and frivolity -- with a party!

If you've read this blog much at all, you know I'm an anti-war, peace lovin' librul. But I do respect and honor those who have had to stand and fight. So please join me today, and stop for just a moment to remember those who have gone before us. There is a nice history of Memorial Day over at Wikipedia. Please don't let the crass commercialism that is our national mood take over this day, which has truly honorable and solemn origins:
According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed in 1865 by liberated slaves at the historic race track in Charleston. The site was a former Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who had died while captive. The freed slaves reinterred the dead Union soldiers from the mass grave to individual graves, fenced in the graveyard & built an entry arch declaring it a Union graveyard - a very daring thing to do in the South shortly after North's victory. On May 30, 1887? the freed slaves returned to the graveyard with flowers they'd picked from the countryside & decorated the individual gravesites, thereby creating the 1st Decoration Day. A parade with thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers was followed by patriotic singing and a picnic.

The official birthplace of Memorial Day is Waterloo, New York. The village was credited with being the birthplace because it observed the day on May 5, 1866, and each year thereafter, and because it is likely that the friendship of General John Murray, a distinguished citizen of Waterloo, and General John A. Logan, who led the call for the day to be observed each year and helped spread the event nationwide, was a key factor in its growth.

General Logan had been impressed by the way the South honored their dead with a special day and decided the Union needed a similar day. Reportedly, Logan said that it was most fitting; that the ancients, especially the Greeks, had honored their dead, particularly their heroes, by chaplets of laurel and flowers, and that he intended to issue an order designating a day for decorating the grave of every soldier in the land, and if he could he would have made it a holiday.

Read the rest of the Wikipedia entry here.