Saturday, July 02, 2005

It's a hot day!

Lord, it's friggin' hot. I just come home from work and all I want to do is just sit here for a minute and not be bothered by anyone.

I sound like my dad!

But damn it is hot. I wasn't sweating like this at work and we were working hard.

A shower would feel good but I say that and Ma says, "I got the" what, they aren't drapes, they're those white things, "bleaching in the tub." And my sister's off in the land of bubbles in the other bathtub.

So I'm like painted and coated in sweat, my tricep sticking to my chest every few seconds as I type. (Right tricep, I'm more than half way turned to the right to feel the fan hitting the front of my body as I write this.) And I'm thinking, "Good Lord, it's not even the fourth of July. The dog days of August are still a' coming."

I never got that, by the way. The dog days of August.

What does that mean?

Does it mean it's so hot we all lie around and pant like dogs?

If that's it, I'm there buddy. My sister's got Black Eye Peas blasting from the upstairs bathroom and I'm just down the hall from it and I'm feeling like an old man at 19, wanting to scream, "Turn that music down, young lady!" It's got to be the heat.

So last weekend was Dad's family and this weekend it Ma's. But they aren't coming from as far because most live around here except her brother who's flying in from Wisconsin and should actually be coming in the front door with Dad any second.

If I don't get a shower before he gets here, I won't be very friendly. I feel like I got a primer of sweat on me with four coats on top of that.

Ma's going to read this later and go "Did you do anything but gripe about the heat?"

Yeah, I griped about the a.c. because I'm finally starting to cool off and now my skin feels clammy as well as sticky.

I don't remember who asked the question about adjustments my first week blogging, but it feels like my cock is stuck to my nuts with super glue right now. I switched into a pair of sweats as soon as I got to my room and I'm free ballin' it so I can just reach down and adjust as needed and it's so hot outside as needed is about every two lines.

And I hear the tub up here draining so as soon as my sister's out of the bathroom I'm jumping in the shower. If I'm at a stopping point, I'll go ahead and post if I'm not I'll leave this hanging until I get out of the shower.

Ma put a note on my computer going for me to asking C.I. if I can put up the thing about everyone talking about abortion here. I'll go ahead and post it because C.I. already told me use anything I want anytime I want. But Ma's point here is that we're an Irish Catholic family and we do support birth control (though you might not know it to look at a family picture!) and she's jotted down that we have to fight the stereotype that says all Catholics are against birth control and abortion because the Pope says we should be.

I make up my own mind. We all do in my family. I got a cousin who came out two years ago and I don't need some guy in Rome telling me that he's not worthy of God's love or that he's not just as incredible as anyone else on this earth.

When Dad explained the facts of life to me, my oldest brother was in the room. This was about nine or ten years ago and Jack still lived at home then. If anyone thinks I'm a smart mouth, they need to meet my brother Jack. So Dad's explaining what goes where and all and what can happen like diseases and pregnancies. And the whole time Jack's just piping off. Like there Jack goes, "That means always wear a raincoat." And I'm confused enough from being grossed out from Dad's graphic description of how Herpes sheds and all so I'm like "Raincoat?" And Jack means a rubber. But Dad's explaining to be safe and all and saying I can always come to him or Ma or any of my brothers and sisters and Jack's like, "Squirt, do not come to me! I do not even want to picture you and your scrawny little body having sex!" I'm taller than Jack now, by the way.

So Dad gets to the parts about birth control and abortion. And I'm thinking about what the church says about that and so I ask some question and Dad goes we are a pro-choice family and Jack pipes off, "That means if you knock up some little slut, it's okay." That was finally enough for Dad who didn't even have to look over to slap Jack in the back of his head.

That's not what it means. But it does mean that if there was an accident there were many choices. My oldest sister had a pregnancy scare a little while after that and it turned out she was just late and not pregnant but we had a family meeting, with Jack piping off the whole time, and my folks were really clear that if she was pregnant and wanted to have a baby, she could keep it and raise it with the guy or keep it and raise it here by herself, or she could give it for adoption or she could have an abortion. And even Jack the supreme smart ass will tell you that my parents don't just give lip service, they stand behind their words.

We are a pro-choice, Irish Catholic family. And we're not the only ones. But to watch TV you'd never know we exist so like Ma said "fight the stereotype." So, since my sister must be curling each hair on her head one at a time since she's still not out of the bathroom, let me copy and post the thing C.I. did. This is from The Common Ills and it's different members weighing in with their opinion about what Sandra O'Connor's retirement made them think or feel. And I feel bad that I didn't write in because I'm a member of the community too. Dad probably wrote in. I don't think Ma did or she'd have put that in her note.

Members responses to O'Connor's retirement

Erika: It is war! It's war on who we are as the right gets ready to attack us all. Roe v. Wade will be only the first item on the cutting block if people don't stand up to Bully Boy. Kim Gandy [president of NOW] had an announcement I think the community should know about:

This is a state of emergency for women's rights. Sandra Day O'Connor broke down barriers for women as the first female Supreme Court justice -- and George W. Bush will try to replace her with a hard-right extremist justice who will put those barriers up again.O'Connor has been the Court's swing vote on key issues like abortion rights, job discrimination and affirmative action. She was the deciding vote to uphold women's reproductive rights in the Court's most recent decision on that issue, Stenberg v. Carhart, which was decided 5-4.
With the resignation of O'Connor, George W. Bush will have the opportunity to replace a justice who has often made the difference in the preservation of essential rights with an anti-woman justice who could influence the court's decisions for the next 40 years.President Bush has identified as his most admired justices arch-conservatives Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, whose radical ideologies make their decisions disastrous for the advancement of women.
This is not the time to play favorites. It's the supreme moment to play fair. Every member of the Senate will have to choose sides - either they will side with the bullies in the Republican leadership or they will take the side of our fundamental freedoms.
NOW is prepared to lead the fight against any nominee who would turn back the clock on our civil, economic, and reproductive rights -- and our supporters will be urging Senators to reject any nominee who is not committed to protecting those rights.
The character and record of anyone nominated to our nation's highest court must be thoroughly reviewed and considered by the Senate in their important "advice and consent" role. Any nominee must demonstrate the ability to separate his or her political ideology from the responsibility to fairly interpret the law - and uphold democracy's promise to protect the civil liberties of all people, not just the privileged few.
Bush will divide the country again if he makes this nomination process confrontational and controversial. After a close election, the country needs a justice with a sharp legal mind, strong personal ethics, and a commitment to upholding the rights and protections we take for granted in this country.
NOW is determined to make sure every person in this country understands what is at stake for our rights, our liberties, and our lives.

Lori: Thank you for steering to Christine with the first announcement. Ms. Musing was the resource and Christine the voice that most helped me through this dark, dark day.

Zach: Not only did Bill Scher [Liberal Oasis] have something to say worth hearing but it sent a message, to me anyway, by including him that this topic was open to all members who support choice. John Nicols has something online at The Nation that I'd note:

With O'Connor's exit, the court will move in one of two directions. No, not right or left. With O'Connor out, the court will either go backward or forward.
If President Bush nominates and the Senate confirms an activist soulmate for Scalia and Thomas, the court will not simply become more conservative.
It will move back toward the days before Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower used their nominations in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s to wrench the judicial branch out of a dark and undistinguished past. Those selections made the Supreme Court a functional branch of government, rather than an obstructionist defender of an often corrupt old order.People for the American Way President Ralph Neas put it best when he said Friday, "A Scalia-Thomas majority would not only reverse more than seven decades of Supreme Court legal precedents, but could also return us to a situation America faced in the first third of the 20th Century, when progressive legislation, like child labor laws, was adopted by Congress and signed by the President, but repeatedly rejected on constitutional grounds by the Supreme Court."

[Note Ralph Neas will be a guest on CBS's Face the Nation this Sunday.]

Brenda e-mailed to say there are no words for what she's feeling right now and highlights Ralph Neas' statement:

The American people deserve a serious national conversation about the impact of future Supreme Court justices on their lives, liberties, and legal protections. We hope that conversation will lead President Bush toward collaborative consultation with senators from both parties, and to the selection of a consensus nominee or nominees whose commitment to protecting Americans rights and freedoms will earn genuine bipartisan support. If instead the President chooses a controversial nominee that does not meet those standards, Americans deserve to know what the fireworks are all about.
Justice O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and became one of its most powerful and widely respected justices. She played a crucial pivotal role at the center of a Court divided on many fundamental constitutional questions. This week she was part of a narrow majority reaffirming the constitutional principle of government neutrality toward religion. She voted to uphold some state restrictions on women’s access to abortion but consistently upheld the fundamental constitutional right to privacy in cases on reproductive choice. She cast the deciding vote to allow state universities to use affirmative action programs that create educational opportunities for a diverse student body.
She upheld the authority of Congress to regulate campaign contributions to candidates and political parties. She sided with her more conservative colleagues on some “federalism” cases, but was not willing to pursue the more aggressive states’ rights agenda pushed by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. O’Connor was part of the 1986 majority in Bowers v Hardwick upholding state sodomy laws; in 2003 she was part of a 6-3 majority in Lawrence v Texas, overturning a Texas sodomy law specifically targeting gays, though she did not join the five-justice majority to overturn Bowers.
The influential role played by O’Connor, and the fact that there are likely to be more vacancies on the Court over the next few years, mean that the impact of President Bush’s nominees could be extraordinarily far-reaching and long-lasting. If O’Connor is replaced by a justice in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas, as President Bush has suggested and right-wing leaders are demanding, the consequences would be disastrous for many of the legal and social justice victories achieved over recent decades. And if new justices cement a Court majority for a backward-looking 19th Century view of the Constitution, future legislation protecting individual rights or the common good could be struck down as unconstitutional.
Many Supreme Court decisions upholding important constitutional principles such as privacy or equality under the law have been decided with only one or two vote majorities, almost always with O’Connor as the crucial vote. New appointees who share the judicial philosophies of Scalia and Thomas could overturn numerous Supreme Court rulings that enjoy broad popular support, including cases affirming the right to privacy, allowing affirmative action in higher education, protecting the rights under state law of individuals who are members of HMOs, and upholding the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to take action to reduce air pollution when a state fails to act. In fact, People For the American Way Foundation’s recently updated Courting Disaster report documents that a Court majority sharing the Scalia and Thomas judicial philosophies could overturn more than 100 Supreme Court precedents. (
This does not have to be – and should not be – a conversation only of, by and for lawyers. Questions that should be at the core of any confirmation process reach many Americans’ daily lives and personal concerns: Will the courts abandon their role in preserving Americans’ right to privacy and strip women of the constitutional right to make their own family planning and reproductive choices? Will Congress lose the power to protect Americans’ civil rights from abuses by state governments and others? Will state universities be prohibited from engaging in affirmative action to promote racial diversity? Will corporations gain excessive political and economic power? Will the Supreme Court further undermine the federal government’s ability to safeguard the air we breathe and the water we drink?
The following information, excerpted from People For the American Way Foundation’s Courting Disaster, provides a brief summary of the ways in which a Supreme Court dominated by justices who share the judicial philosophies of Scalia and Thomas would alter the Court, and the Constitution.
With the Court so closely divided on important constitutional issues, even one or two new far-right justice would be very damaging. Three or four who share Scalia’s and Thomas’ extreme views would spell disaster. During the past half-century, the Supreme Court protected individual rights and liberties in many critical areas. A few examples demonstrate the scope of the Court’s impact:
it struck down many practices related to elections and the political process that denied minorities the right to full, equal participation in our democracy;
it held that the Constitution protects Americans’ privacy, that women have a fundamental right to a safe, legal abortion, and that governments cannot criminalize adults’ private consensual sexual behavior;
it struck down the pernicious de jure racial segregation in our nation’s public schools;it protected government employees from being fired or demoted for their political party affiliation.
A Scalia-Thomas majority would not only reverse more than seven decades of Supreme Court legal precedents, but could also return us to a situation America faced in the first third of the 20th Century, when progressive legislation, like child labor laws, was adopted by Congress and signed by the President, but repeatedly rejected on constitutional grounds by the Supreme Court.
A shift of one or two votes would reverse Roe v. Wade’s guarantee of reproductive freedom and the right to privacy. But that would just be the beginning. Among those rights that could be drastically redefined if just one or two hard-right justices join the Court are:Privacy Rights: Reversal of Lawrence v. Texas (2003) would authorize criminal prosecution of private sexual conduct by consenting adults. And reversal of Ferguson v. Charleston (2001) would allow hospitals to test pregnant women without their knowledge or consent for suspected drug use and give the results to police.
Civil Rights and Discrimination: Reversal of Jackson v. Birmingham Bd. of Educ. (2005) would allow retaliation against those who complain about illegal sex discrimination in education. Reversal of Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) would forbid affirmative action by state universities. Reversal of J.E.B. v. Alabama (1994) would allow sex discrimination in jury selection.
Reversal of Olmstead v. L.C. (1999) would mean that improper and unnecessary institutionalization of disabled persons would no longer be considered a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
Church - State Separation: Reversal of Lee v. Weisman (1992) and Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe (2000) would eliminate true government neutrality toward religion and authorize government-sponsored prayer at graduation and other public school events.
Workers’ Rights and Consumer Protection:
Reversal of Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois (1990) would allow government employees to be fired for belonging to the “wrong” political party. And reversal of Rush Prudential HMO, Inc. v. Moran (2002) would invalidate important state laws protecting HMO patients’ rights in more than 40 states.
Environmental Protection:
Reversal of Alaska Department of Conservation v. EPA (2004) would strip the EPA of the authority to prevent damaging air pollution by industries when state agencies improperly fail to do so.
Campaign Finance Reform:
Reversal of the part of the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo ruling that the far right opposes would invalidate limits on individual campaign contributions. And reversal of McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003) would invalidate most of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, including its ban on political parties’ use of unlimited soft money contributions.
A Supreme Court with additional justices who do not meet consensus standards could radically rewrite our nation’s fundamental definitions of justice. This disturbing truth should figure prominently in any public debate over the courts and should give mainstream Americans of both parties reason to pause before accepting any nominee to the nation’s highest court who is not committed to upholding basic rights and legal protections that Americans cherish.
People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation have published more than 100 reports on judicial issues and nominees, including a number of potential Supreme Court nominees.
For a recent in-depth memo on the constitutional requirement, precedents, and public support for President Bush choosing a consensus nominee rather than a political confrontation, see
For PFAW Foundation’s 2005 Courting Disaster report,


Tori: Didn't you get the memo? It doesn't matter. That's what I'm seeing as I go around to some sites on the left that whine about how O'Connor's step down is sucking the air out of this story or that. There's movie reviews, there's whining on other topics, but God forbid we give attention to a "side issue." And God forbid they expect my web traffic again after treating me and my concerns as second class and unworthy. This news that Bully Boy will be replacing O'Connor truly frightens the hell out of me. I'm sure males in this community will get that and be frightened because it will effect more than the issue of choice. But there are sites that are now on my sh*t list because this isn't "news" to them. They'll be all over the next departure, wait and see. But since O'Connor's taking with her any hope of privacy rights (which includes the rights for gays and lesbians) this is a "side issue." Fine, then make mine a to go order and I'll take my traffic to sites that don't expect me to order from a window while all the males, and women who'll keep their mouths shut, are allowed to sit at any table. Dismissals of this topic as news tell me all I need to know about who is with me on this battle and who's holding the knife they're about ram in my back.???: At Big Brass Blog, Pam's had some posts that really spoke me today. I won't pick out one because there are so many. She gets how scary this is and she's hollering at the top of her lungs.
Why are so many silent on this?

Note: This is Fourth of July weekend, a lot of people are probably not posting. If someone's posting, as Tori notes in her comments, and they're not addressing this, I guess we'll read this as they don't give a damn. As for whether or not it's news, Supreme Court Justice is a lifetime appointment. If they've ever blogged on the Court -- a decision, a comment made by a judge -- then I have no idea why they aren't blogging on this. But if they're not blogging or if their posts went up early, you're probably dealing more with the fact that it's a holiday weekend and people were out the door before the news hit. They may also have gotten pulled into a meeting on this topic. (As did I which is one reason this post has been delayed. My apologies. The other reason is due to the large number of e-mails on this.)

Lloyd: Good news of the day comes via Atrios:

CNN just flashed up poll results regarding Roe. 65% want a justice who would uphold Roe. 47% of Republicans want a justice who would uphold Roe (verus 46% who want one who would overturn it).

Billie: I'm noting a lot of silence on this or a lot of a half-assed b.s. of I'll devote a paragraph to this just to get those feminists off my back. And I'm not just talking about men who are doing half-assed jobs. I guess George Lakoff hasn't "framed" the issue for them yet. The mantra must be "What Would Lakoff say?" Which brings me to what spoke to me. Thank you for the Third Estate Sunday Review's piece. I want to note one section and then another article that came out this month because they're on the same wavelength:

Karla has a story, every woman that chooses to have an abortion does. As "moderates" in the Democratic Party launch yet another attack on women's rights, people need to remember that reproductive rights are a battle we already fought and won. These men (and it's usually men) in the Democratic Party who want to "back off" from this issue have never faced a decision like Karla or any woman had to make. It's a privacy issue and whether a woman has been raped or not, she doesn't owe it to anyone to explain her decision to a judge, a Congressman or anyone.It's her body, it's her choice and she should be allow to make it.
Instead of caving yet again, "moderates" should try to find enough of a spine to endorse a position that more than half of America supports. We're not sure whether they find it personally distasteful or if it's just another case of some poll showed them they might be able to persuade a few religious freaks to vote for them. It doesn't matter. The battle for reproductive rights was a long one and we won. And if moderates think they're going to take that right away or move away from supporting it, we can draw the battle lines all over again.
Reproductive rights are not "on the table." The party needs to realize that and find it's spine.

Billie (con't): The second thing was Katha Pollitt's "If the Frame Fits...:"

In the wake of the 2004 election, Democrats have embarked on an orgy of what the linguist George Lakoff calls "reframing"--repositioning their policies linguistically to give them mass moral appeal. Prime candidate for a values makeover? Abortion, of course. It's as if the party, with its longstanding, if lukewarm, support for reproductive rights, were a family photo with Uncle Lou the molester right in the middle. Maybe if we cropped it to put him way off to the side? Or Photoshopped a big shadow onto his face? Or just decided to pretend he was nice Uncle Max? In "The Foreign Language of Choice," posted on AlterNet, Lakoff writes that he doesn't like "choice"--too consumerist. In fact, he doesn't even like "abortion"--too negative. He wants to "reparse" abortion in four ways. Dems should talk about it as an aspect of personal freedom from government interference, and as the regrettable outcome of right-wing opposition to sex ed and contraception. They should reclaim "life" by talking about the fact that "the United States has the highest rate of infant mortality in the industrialized world," thanks to poverty and lack of healthcare, which are the fault of conservatives, "who have been killing babies--real babies...[who] have been born and who people want and love" and damaging their health through anti-environmental policies that put toxins in mother's milk. Finally, they should talk about the thousands of women each year who become pregnant from rape: "Should the federal government force a woman to bear the child of her rapist?"
George Lakoff is really smart and eager to help, so why does this way of talking about "medical operations to end a pregnancy" make me want to reparse myself to a desert island? Is it the sly reference to rape victims coerced by the "federal government," object of much red-state loathing, when surely he knows that the relevant policies--on giving out emergency contraception in ERs for example, or using Medicaid funds for abortions--are set at the state level, like most abortion laws? Is it the singling out of rape victims as uniquely deserving, which tacitly accepts the conservative "frame" of abortion as a way for sluts to evade the wages of sin? In fact, most American voters who favor abortion restrictions already make an exception for rape. The ones who don't--the 11 percent who would ban abortion completely--have already framed it to their satisfaction: Yes, the government should force rape victims to carry to term because the "child" should not be murdered for its father's crime.

I had no idea that Lakoff was involved in the "framing of abortion." It figures. Lakoff "is really smart" but the idea that he's going to speak to all is doubtful and members have raised this issue from the beginning which is why we've dealt with it (and the framing craze) from the beginning.
Racial and sexual minorities have not felt welcomed by the framing. Women have not felt welcomed by the framing. Straight talkers have not felt weclomed by the framing. The list is endless and it continues to be a topic each week in e-mails. So my hunch is Lakoff can speak to and for a certain white, straight, upper-middle class, standard to Norman Rockwell-ish childhood, male. The idea that any one person can speak for all of us is insane. The idea (and Rebecca's noted this as well) goes against marketing among other things. But Lakoff's become a flavor of the month for many months. It's really easy to whine about "the message" instead of dealing with the realities of a crumbling party infrastructure, a presidential campaign that ignored many issues, sell outs who make it hard for people to see a difference in either of the two major parites . . . Instead of dealing with reality, it's real easy to deal with "the message."Framing wasn't discovered by Lakoff. (Nor was the notion that abortion is a privacy right -- again, Sarah Weddington argued that in Roe v. Wade.) It's always existed. And it's largely existed in the negative to play gatekeeper. "This isn't important!" "That isn't news!" Journalists have "framed" for years. In addition anyone offering an opinion or even writing a history book is framing by what they include and what they don't. The press refers to it as the "angle."
Lakoff's attempted to get the Democratic Party to think about how they speak and that's a good thing. But for all the hop on the framing bandwagon, we haven't seen it used effectively by our elected officials in anything that gives me hope. What we've seen is straight talk from a Barbara Boxer or a John Conyers be embraced by warmly (by grassroots Democrats as well as by third party members).I haven't read Lakoff's writing (ever) and have no interest in doing so. It's Reinventing Government all over again where we're presented with two choices this or that and "this" will save us! He seems intelligent in interviews but he often misses the point and if he's prompted the "abortion is a 'side issue'" concept that so many have lept on, there's no reason community members have had no use for his advice from day one. Fifteen years from now, people will look back at this decade's hula hoop the same way they look back at Reinventing Government and wonder why they got so caught up in all the excitement. (My opinion.)

Jim: We've hit a record for number of e-mails in our account. I grabbed Ava's day to help her out so there wouldn't be many personal responses even if we hadn't topped over 500. But "for the record," I want something cleared up. C.I. participated in that story. I went through our first note to the readers and see it's not even noted there. Here's the story:
C.I. came to speak to a group I belong to. During the talk, I was thinking, "Sounds just like C.I."After the talk, I made breezy conversation and then said, "You're C.I.!" The shocked look gave the answer. Dona, Ty and Jess and I had been thinking of doing a blog for some time. We were early members of the community and remain members. We had C.I. there and were just piling on the questions. Dona made the point that now was the time to quit talking and do the site because we could actually have input from C.I. that weekend. Which is what we did. Jess mentioned that Dona's roommate and fellow journalism major Ava should be brought on board.
Ava was very shy and we had no interest she'd be interested, but she was. So we all got together and turned out that first issue. Ava knew "Karla." I scared "Karla" off with big talk of how important her story was and how much it could help others. C.I. and Ava repaired that. (I've learned to hold back on the enthusiasm now that I know it can scare people off.) During the interview, we all participated and during the writing of the article we all participated. So "for the record," C.I. was a part of that article and a part of every article in that first edition. The TV review is the perfect example. We hated Joey (and still do). C.I. and Ava were making jokes about the show. We were eager to rip the show apart, Dona, Ty, Jess and myself, because it was so much nonsense. But that's where Ava and C.I. paired up as writing partners and started their feminist critiques of TV that we gladly offer each week. Back then, we'd nod along with some observation they made, usually funny, about the sexism of the a but that was the first thing we struck from the review. Why? We didn't realize what we had going. When later on, in another review, we struck a point of Ava's that was really important to her, C.I. argued for it to be put back in (it was) and that's when they really ran the TV reviews. The reaction from readers demonstrated something we hadn't grasped yet, Ava and C.I. know what they're doing and they're speaking with a unique voice. When we finally grasped the obvious, we bowed out to let them do what they do so well. This is "for the record" and I expect it all to be noted, C.I. I'll also add that we will be addressing the topic of abortion at The Third Estate Sunday Review. As usual, we've got ideas but nothing on paper. A lot of that comes from the fact that we're completely thrown by the news of today. We were prepared for Bully Boy to replace a right wing zealot. We had no idea he'd first get a crack at replacing a swing vote on the Court. These are scary times and they just got scarier. But to everyone writing in with so many complimentary things about our article, be sure to thank C.I. as well.

Wally: You think it ain't getting any worse then you hear today's news. I'll note that there's a petition at and that the idea of a right wing zealot turning us back to the Dark Ages just destroyed my weekend.

Brandon: Want another reason why Jude should be on Air America? I heard repeat after repeat today. Is this a "news network" or the Comedy Channel? They pulled this crap at Christmas today and the point was made then that they needed to bring on guest hosts and not march off on holiday. They blew today away when people needed more than Al Franken's lame jokes in repeats. When you posted the announcement, where did you get the information? From The Diane Rehm Show which was what? Live. Diane Rehm can still go in after all this time and do a show. Pampered souls of Air America apparently need Fridays (and additional days because it's been repeat city for most of the week) off to celebrate Monday's Fourth of July. They want listeners to make them the first stop and have impact and influence the debate. You don't do that by broadcasting dead air and that's what it is when you're running old repeats. Comedy Central was too generous so strike that, they're TV Land. Next time everyone puts in requests for holiday leave, Air America needs to line up guest hosts. They can start with Jude. Tonight's Majority Report could have been Bill Scher and Jude sitting in for Sam and Janeane. It would have been informative and it would have allowed the issues of the day to be addressed. I don't begrudge anyone time off. I do fault the network for thinking that when we've just learned Bully Boy just got a crack at a lifetime appointment, politically interested Americans are dying to hear repeats served up hour after hour. The message from the network seems to be "We're here to fight! Right after we get back from vacation!" "From the network."
People deserve time off. The audience, however, does not deserve nonstop repeats on a day when major news is breaking. Line up substitute hosts.

Susan: What is there to say about today's news except "Get ready for the fight of our lives!"?
I've gone from depressed to hopeful and back again. This has been one of the most stressful days of my life thus far this year. I couldn't even turn on the radio or put on some music. I just wanted to be surrounded by a calming, reassuring quiet.

Gina: Christine did post the poll story you excerpted, "The Polls Speak: Americans Support Abortion." Thank you for noting it before it was online because there will be talk of "Oh, we need to step away from abortion" all over again. If I can do a plug, Krista and I are working on a special edition round-robin with activism ideas and resources. So for members who get the round-robin, we hope to have that out Saturday afternoon at the latest. We've drafted Eli, Rebecca, Kat, Ruth, Keesha and Wally to help us with that. And we're all about to be on conference call. Rebecca had a great point this week about asking yourself what you could do and then doing it. However small you might think it is, do it. It will have some impact on others and it will free you to think of other actions you can take.

Ethan: A voice that really speaks to me is Ruth. And though she hasn't weighed in on this, I want to thank her because I've been off the last two days and just puttering around the house, painting the trim, mowing the yard and really laying back. (I haven't clicked on one link offered here in the last two days to show you how lazy I've been.) But her entry this morning made me think, "I really should listen to The Diane Rehm Show today." I took the portable radio out to the backyard this morning to listen while I was raking and when Diane Rehm said what the Associated Press was reporting, I couldn't believe it. I guess I was shocked because I kept raking and shaking my head. Then she brought it up again saying it was confirmed and I still couldn't believe it. I came inside and my wife asked if I was okay thinking I looked so out of it because of the heat. I told her it was bad news on the radio but wouldn't say what because I wanted to believe I'd heard it wrong. I'm at the computer and she's asking what was the news?So I tell her. And am headed to yahoo. She says, "Go to C.I." and sure enough there was the announcement. We're pulling from the midday entry to make our own list of resources to hand out at our cookout. I guess we're doing what everyone is doing and just trying to make sure people get what is at stake. My wife said she felt like the start of The Pelican Brief when they hear the judge has died. We just can't believe it. But let Ruth know that I was listening to Diane Rehm because of her head ups and to keep on posting because her voice speaks to me.

Demetreka: Hands off my body! That's all I've got to say the Bully Boy and any bullsh*t nominee he wants to propose.

Julia: I've known Roe v. Wade hung by one vote for sometime. I've voted accordingly and donated accordingly. So it's not like the news this morning was completely unexpected. So why do I feel so ill prepared? I've never felt less safe in my own country.

Marci: I was at the sink washing glasses for the party this weekend and half listening to Diane [Rehm] while thinking about: who was coming, who would fail to show at the last minute, who would bring along guests without a heads up . . . What did Diane just say? I turned off the water and walked into the living room thinking either I heard it wrong or Diane got her judges mixed up and would quickly correct herself. I had heard it. Diane wasn't wrong. And at some point, I broke my coffee table. I don't even remember that. I just remember yelling at the top of my lungs. When I stopped yelling, besides being embarrassed, I saw the coffee table was broken.I'm not a violent person. I am not proud of my reaction. But that was my reaction.

Paula: My reaction? Pack everything up and get the hell out before the American Taliban close the borders.

Rachel: Thank Martha for the suggestion of posting the review of Simpleton Simpson and Lackadaisical Lachey. I needed that laugh damn bad. I've been a zombie today. On the phone I've been all "uh-huh" and "okay" and had no idea what anyone was saying. Friday morning, I start out thinking, "I'm off Monday! I'm off Monday!" and a few hours later the whole world crashes. I didn't emerge from my stupor until I started laughing. Now I'm ready to fight.

Annie: As someone who spoke out and, with many, many other women, fought the original battle for control of our own bodies, I can't believe the day we all feared is now here. I'm mad at O'Connor for retiring. I'm mad at John Kerry for not making abortion a campaign issue. I'm pretty well mad at the whole damn world right now. We didn't not fight and win this battle so that some pampered, prep school punk could come along and tell us he owned our bodies.

Denise: My reaction has been tears. I'll just start crying and won't even know I'm crying until the tears hit my cheeks. I feel like I'm grieving.

Kimberly: With me, you guess right. I was listening to Diane Rehm because of Ruth's heads up. I was at work and just staring into space. I had to go to my boss and say "Can I please go on break early." The worst thing about today's news for me was having to stay at work when I wanted to be home rounding up friends to figure out what we could do, what we should do.
I'm one of the members who is checking the site from work and I do appreciate that efforts are made to keep it work-place safe. I didn't see a word that would lead to a write up in the Third Estate Sunday Review article but I agree with you on that, if there was one, people would just have to deal with it.

Joey: My reaction today was to read the announcement right after it must have went up because no one at work knew anything about it. And my second reaction was, "What kind of morons do I work with?" Eight people asked me, "Who is Sandra Day O'Connor?" Of the eight, four of them then said, "Does it really matter?" after I explained who she was. I'm the youngest one in my office, 21, and there are all these jokes made about it. Or put downs like, "Well when you have a family . . ." or "When you're my age . . ." I can put up with that crap, I need the pay check. But I never realized what uninformed morons I worked with until today and if that sounds mean feeling so alone at work today, surrounded by supposedly educated people, wasn't exactly "welcoming."

Cedric: There's a big religious wing-nut at my job. She always says things at the office parties like, "Easter's not really about candies or a bunny, you do know about Jesus, don't you?" And she'll tell this interracial couple that she's prarying for them because they've gone against "God's teachings." Or she'll hand slip a "Pray for Our President" handout on your desk when you've stepped out of the office. This is who broke the news to me. She comes into my cubicle smiling so happy and all excited. I thought maybe that guy she's been engaged to for the last seven years had finally proposed and was feeling kind of happy about that because she "only works" because she's not married. And she'll tell anyone at work that. And tell women who are married that she's praying for them. Then she opens her big mouth and breaks the news about O'Connor. "Jesus is smiling on us again!" she get chirping. Then she adds that O'Connor's sick and God's given her that "gift" (illness) because she didn't live up to his teachings. I just started yelling, "Get out! Get out! Get out!" It's Jurrassic Park time now as we get shoved back to the Stone Age. They'll go after Roe v. Wade first, then they'll go after affirmative action, then they'll go after the gay and lesbians, just the whole check list. And if you're black, you better not think that there's anyone who's going to rush to save you. This is war on the American people and they just declared it.

Jill: How do I feel? Enraged, betrayed, and abused. If Democrats in the Senate don't filibuster each and every anti-choice nominee Bully Boy trots out, they can consider me gone to the Green Party. I don't care if we end up with an eight justice Court.

Note: We have had an eight justice Court and people should be aware of that now. Currently O'Connor states that she'll continue to serve until Bully Boy gets his pick. If she changes her mind, and there may be pressure put on her to change, you know that the talking point will be:
"There are only eight justices! We can't have that! What happens if there's a tie!"
If there's a tie, the lower courts ruling stands. I'll pull out my Constitutional Law text books this weekend but it was either the tail end of the sixties or the early seventies when a confirmation was not being made and the Supreme Court was hearing rulings with only eight judges sitting on it.

Mike: Disgusted. And I guess all the moves to the "center" on abortion by our cowardly elected officials will make it that much hard for us to wage the battle that needs to be waged. Also, call Mike of Mikey Likes It! "Mike." I can go by Michael. It'll be less confusing.(Will do. Thank you, Michael.)

Karen: The Green Party doesn't have anything up yet on O'Connor's retiring but their web site is and member may want to bookmark it because if Dick Durbin's cave is any indication, the Democrats will let their supporters down yet again. Check out the Green Party.

Tammy: Christine was a good site to steer people to. Via Christine, here's what inspired me the most today, Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal:

With Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation, President Bush could reverse 32 years of freedom and progress for women. Women who have the most to lose will be the strongest voice in the debate over this Supreme Court fight. This time, for once, we will not be ignored. Let there be no mistake about it, the feminist movement today is declaring a state of emergency to save the court for women's rights. Twenty four years ago, as president of the National Organization for Women I testified for Sandra Day O'Connor before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I knew then that O'Connor, although a conservative voice, would be one who would not permit the elimination of women's fundamental rights, including the right to privacy. Indeed the National Organization for Women played a pivotal role in the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor – she was nominated in 1981 at the height of the Equal Rights Amendment campaign. One of the reasons she was nominated is that NOW stood outside the White House with thousands of people demanding that President Reagan nominate a woman, and a woman who would not turn her back on the women of the nation. Even a very conservative President heard our voices. And we must make our voices so loud today another ultra conservative President will hear our voices.
We had then, and we have now, the power of the gender gap to save women's lives ... and we intend to use it. We will begin from this conference by a march Saturday, July 2nd to the Tennessee legislative capital so that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) will hear our voices.

Now for what Shirley's dubbed the "American Idol" vote. In a recent post on something that members weighed in on, I noted that a number had just e-mailed they supported it or they were against it. Shirley, rightly, pointed out that this "American Idol" vote is a vote. So here are the results of the 753 e-mails (that's the total plus however many are quoted above) on this topic (numercial breakdown):
28 need more time to figure out what they think or to sort it through.
8 members noted that while this is important, they don't think it should be the sole focus of this site for the weekend. (They may or may not be disappointed.)
3 members didn't not want it discussed further. (One of which noted that it was because the entire thing was too depressing.)
714 were upset by O'Connor's retirement and want this topic on the front burner.
Note that there are e-mails that have come in since this post was started. But it's taken several hours just to pull from the e-mails to get the quotes above. So it's first out of the gate. I've been up 23 hours straight now. (I'll do the post on the Times as soon as this goes up.) (Time on the post, time stamp, is put in place when it's begun, not when it's finished.) If I didn't offer a link that I should have to something above, my apologies. I'm really exhausted and flying on caffeine from diet sodas. I'll be working with The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow so posts here may be hit and run and spotty. But we'll continue to focus on this topic.

And I finally got my shower. No my sister didn't get done in the bathroom. But Ma was hanging the "sheers" or whatever the heck those things are. I was headed to the kitchen to grab a can of Coke and saw her with her hands full trying to get them to the backyard and on the clothesline so I helped her hang them and then came in and grabbed a shower. I feel almost human now.

I wish everybody a happy Fourth of July weekend.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Size and fakes from the mailbag; recruiting totals, abortion and why it matters

One time at The Common Ills, Kara and C.I. did a thing like they were a news show and Bill Keller was picking up his GOP Hypocrite of the Week award from Buzzflash. So I'm going to try that out today. Cue opening music.

This morning, Democracy Now! reports:

Iraq Gov't: 8,200 Iraqis Killed Over Past Six Months
In Iraq, the country's interior minister is estimating that nearly 8,200 Iraqis have been killed over the past six months from attacks carried out by the Iraqi resistance. An average of forty-five Iraqis are being killed each day. The minister estimated another twelve thousand Iraqis have been injured.

June: Deadliest Month This Year For U.S.
The U.S. death toll in Iraq for the month of June is now at least sixty-eight -- making it the military's deadliest month so far this year. More than half of the deaths occurred in the Anbar province near Fallujah. USA Today is reporting that U.S. military deaths in Iraq increased by about one-third in the past year. At least 882 U.S. troops have died in the last year.

In other news, CounterRecruiter reports:

The morning papers all mention that the Army has exceeded its monthly recruiting goal in June. The headlines proclaim "US Army Ends 4-Month Recruiting Slump in June" and "For First Time in Months, Army Meets Its Recruiting Goal."
According to the Pentagon, the Army signed by 6,157 recruits -- exceeding its "goal" of 5,650 by 507 recruits.
The goal of 5,650, however, seems suspiciously low.
Here's why: The original recruiting goal for May was 8,050. Then, with no public notice, the Army
lowered its May goal to just 6,700. (Recruiting was so bad in May the Army still came up 25 percent short of the revised goal.)

Now into the e-mail bag.

Ten people wrote in, one of which was my mother, about this statement I made early, early this morning:

Would I dump a girl I was seeing because of her breast size?

("No because I'm not hung up on breast size." is the answer I give.)

"Girl." That's what made the ten write in. We'll let Ma have the floor on this. "Michael, you don't date girls, you date women." This is true. Though I use "dude" and "buddy" and "pal" and call my male friends "my boys," I will work to always use women here. If I were dating women older than me, I would have used women. Is that what you're suggesting I do, Ma? I'm giving her a heart attack. Seriously, it's a good point and I'll check myself on that in the future. If I slip up, let me know.

Becky e-mails about her boyfriend and says "I've been seeing this boy for about six months . . ."
Boy, Becky? Better watch that! Her question is can a male fake an orgasm? Becky and her boyfriend got into an argument where she toosed out that she had faked some and he shot back "me too!" which sounds like something out of a Steve Martin film!

But she's started to wonder about it. Becky, I have never faked an orgasm or heard of a guy faking one. But I called up "the boys" and two of the ten said they knew about that and one said he had done that twice when he was really, really tired and just wanted to go to sleep. He says he always wears condoms and with a lot of moaning during thrusts, he was able to convince both women he had blown his nut. He swears this is "the God's truth, Mike." So if he's not pulling a fast one on me, it may be possible. It could also be possible that both women were tired and happy to play along with his pretending. So I guess the issue is was your boyfriend wearing a condom? Another issue might be does he leak a lot before he blows his wad. (I swear, Ma, I'm keeping this as clean as I know how.) If I left you scratching your head, Becky, think about it like this. Someone with a runny nose uses up tissue paper. If you come along and see the tissue paper, you don't know if he sneezed or if he just had a runny nose. Now take that metaphor lower and think about it.

The easiest way would be for Becky to ask her boyfriend but Becky and her boyfriend haven't spoken in four days (not since the fight).

Tony, who's actually my buddy and a real smart ass, e-mails in "Oh Mike, you were all so about honest and stuff but did I miss it or did you not give your own size when you were discussing cock size?" That's me quoting Tony. (Talk to him, Ma.) Well Tony, after all the time in the locker room due to sports, I would have guessed you'd have a pretty good idea as to what caliber gun I was packing. But let's pretend you never snuck a peek (almost all guys, including myself, sneak a peek, we're trying to figure out how we measure up).

I'm seven inches. And I'd call that average due to my height (over six foot). I'm thick but it's one thing to use my ruler from school to measure my length, it's another thing to run to Ma's sewing machine and grab her measuring tape! So I have no idea how thick I am. (Ma breathes a sigh of relief knowing she doesn't need to toss out her measuring tape now.)

So Tone, open invitation, if you'd like to put your measurements up here, just e-mail them in unless you're worried that revealing that would hurt your chances of getting a date even more!

Back to the news. The big news of the day was the news that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor would be stepping down from the Supreme Court. This was big news with kids I know (or I should say "adults"). Everyone's worried who the Bully Boy will replace her with because she wasn't extreme on choice like a lot of the right wingers.

I go into the food court this morning and get stopped with that news and "Did you read C.I.!" I was all like "I just got out of class." Cause I hadn't read C.I. yet. I'd read the stuff this morning like the Judy Miller thing and Ruth's report but a group of us head over to the library for the computers and I'm thinking it's one post. It was like three posts. There was the announcement. Then there was the normal mid-day post with a focus on abortion rights. Then there was a thing from The Third Estate Sunday Review.

I e-mailed Ty about that and he wrote back, "Mike you don't have to ask, you can always reprint our stuff." So from the news, we turn to this report on abortion from The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Abortion: Why it matters still
Karla (not her real name) speaks softly as she explains the abortion she had two years ago, when she was 17."I couldn't not have one," she says slowly. "Adoption wasn't even a possibility. And, I mean, at some point, they can look you up and ask you to explain why."
What Karla would have had to explain was that she and the grown child had a lot in common, namely a father. Karla was sexually abused from the ages of 14 to 16 by her biological father.Her mother knew. But for the "good of the family," she wasn't any help to Karla."
The good of the family seemed to just mean so that no one knew what he was doing to me. My mother was supporting it, she was looking the other way."
Karla's father/abuser had been in sales and often traveled as part of his job. In 1999, he lost his job due to alcoholism.
"Suddenly, he was around all the time. And maybe he was drunk the first time he forced himself on me, I don't really remember because I try not to. He'd been drinking, because I do remember his breath. But if he was drunk or not, I can't really say. I try not to dwell on it unless I'm with my therapist because otherwise it just destroys me and I'm left in this state where I just want to curl up in a ball or I'll go in the closet and shut the door and spend the rest of the day in there."
After the first rape, Karla's father/attacker apologized and begged her not to tell anyone. He said he was depressed over losing his job and angry at the world. He'd had to sell their nice house and move to a suburb where things were cheaper while he 'looked for work." ("He was drunk by ten most mornings, he wasn't out looking for a job," Karla says.) In his mind that excused what had happened.
"It was probably a month to six weeks later, my mother had gone out of town with her church group. I don't know, they were speaking about the importance of family in some way. After it had happened, I made a point not to say anything. I felt sorry for him, probably. But I also felt like maybe it was my fault which I've learned is a fairly common reaction. I don't remember being worried that she was going to be gone that weekend. I may have believed him when he promised it would never happen again."
But it did. And the same apologies/justifications flowed from his mouth. And the third time was three weeks later.
"At some point, early on, I told her. And she called me a liar. I was crying and I said, 'I'm not lying. I need your help. Why won't you believe me?' She ran and got him. Drug him into the room. There's no way she couldn't see the guilty look on his face. He wouldn't even look at me or at her. But she said, 'Your daughter is lying about you. You two need to straighten this out.'She grabbed her keys and left. Left me with the guy I had just told her was raping me. As soon as she was gone . . . He . . . he lost the guilty look. He just snapped and started screaming at me and slapping me and telling me I was ruining his life. My lip was bleeding and one of my eyes was swollen. I fell to the floor and he started kicking me and saying things like 'a prick tease like you had this coming!' While I was lying on the floor . . ."
For almost two years this went on. After a few months, her mother walked in on it.
"She screamed and yelled but mainly at me. The next day she said, 'I don't want to talk about it.' Instead, she'd greet me with things like 'You look trampy today' or 'You're not wearing any make up, don't you want to look pretty?' After a few months of that, she seemed to feel we now had some shared bond and started confessing that he'd cheated for years but at least now she knew where he was. All this time, I'd hoped that she would find out and put a stop to it. But when she found out, after she got done blaming me, she just decided it was no big deal."
In a new area, with no family other than her parents, Karla didn't feel she had any options. She also kept hoping her mother would start defending her. But that never happened.
"I think maybe it was losing the house and feeling that in moving, she was at risk of losing her friends. She always brought that up when I'd say, 'I can't go on like this.' 'Joanne will never understand!' she'd scream at me. That was a woman who was really big at her church."
Realizing her own mother had no intention of ever stopping the repeated rapes, Karla found herself trapped in the situation and the silence.
"You want to tell someone. But when your own mother first calls you a liar and then acts like it's no big deal but warns you'll bring shame to everyone including yourself, I don't know. I just . . .I don't know."
Eight months after the rapes began, her father/attacker finally got a job.
"It was a big come down for him. He'd been one of the big shots in sales and now he was a night watchman. Things were actually a little better for me because, planning my day just right, I could leave for school before he got home and then, if I was really lucky, he'd sleep until thirty minutes before he had to leave for work. I think it was the adjustment to working nights but for three months I was able to avoid him except on Sundays when my mother was gone to the church. I remember begging to go with her a few times but she'd just say it would embarrass her."
A month away from turning 17, Karla discovered she was pregnant.
"I didn't know how, but I knew I was having an abortion. I knew I wasn't going to have his child. I was in the bathroom, looking at the test stick, and I knew I wasn't going to have his baby. I waited until my mother got home and got her out into the backyard and told her. All she could say was 'I never knew my parents!' because she was raised in orphanage. I said, 'No, you don't get it, I'm not having this baby. And you're crazy if you think I'd ever want this baby to know its father!' Then she started screaming this religious crap at me and I was thinking, 'Oh now, you want to get religion?'"
Karla thought about turning to a classmate she'd become friends with "but ____ isn't a suburb, no matter what they call it. It's a run down, depressed town. My friend might have offered emotional support but she and her parents wouldn't have had the money to help."
When she was 8, her father and his only sibling, a sister, had gotten into a huge fight.
"I remember we were going to go to an Easter egg hunt and I was wearing this white dress and white shoes and had a white ribbon in my hair and my aunt was taking pictures one moment and then in some screaming match with him."
That was the last time she saw her aunt.
"I started searching on the net at school trying to find her and for two weeks I was e-mailing anyone with her name and praying that she hadn't gotten married because if she had . . . Her name is a common name so I probably e-mailed close to fifty women. Finally I get an e-mail back from one woman saying that yes, she's my aunt. I just typed back, 'I have to talk to you.' I knew I couldn't talk to her at home and I knew I'd be blubbering and crying when I did talk to her. But the only thing I could think of was that there was a pay phone at the Subway. People were walking in and out the entire time I was on the phone and I'm sure that they either thought someone had died or I was some sort of nutcase."
Her aunt wasn't surprised. Karla's father/rapist had also raped his younger sister years before.
"She flew out the next day, pulled me out of school and took care of everything. Then she took me back with her and we didn't even speak to them until after. He made this big stink about how he was going to charge her with kidnapping and she told him to go to hell. Which is what my mother told me in the letter she wrote me shortly after. That I was going to hell for having an abortion. Apparently she'll be walking through the gates of heaven alongside him, but I'll be in hell. Yeah. I heard from a few classmates that I was a drug addict who was sent to live with my aunt because they couldn't continue living with my drug use. I was disruptive to their happy home. It wasn't enough that he raped me over and over and she allowed it to happen, they had to spread lies about me as well?"
In college, she's been able to open to a few friends ("but I don't say, the rapist was my father").
Some of them ask her if she ever regrets her decision.
"I don't regret it. I don't regret it. I don't regret it at all. I don't understand people who think they can't take away anyone's option. I lived in a state with a parental notification law. I don't believe in those. My rapist was my father. My mother allowed it to happen. I'm supposed to go before a judge and plead my case? My aunt never married, she has the same last name as me. For the abortion, she was my mother as far as anyone knew. I don't, I don't, I don't think any woman needs to have to plead her case in a situation like mine or in any case where she feels she needs to have an abortion. It's not anyone else's damn business. It's only in the last year that I can even use the word 'incest' with my therapist. For the longest time it was too much to even say 'I was raped by my father.' No woman should have to explain. Whether they were raped or not. But to think that a kid's going to be able to set up an appointment with a judge and go in and dredge up all of this crap, it's just, I don't know, it's just so unreal to me. I question the morality of people who pass these kind of laws."
Karla has a story, every woman that chooses to have an abortion does. As "moderates" in the Democratic Party launch yet another attack on women's rights, people need to remember that reproductive rights are a battle we already fought and won. These men (and it's usually men) in the Democratic Party who want to "back off" from this issue have never faced a decision like Karla or any woman had to make. It's a privacy issue and whether a woman has been raped or not, she doesn't owe it to anyone to explain her decision to a judge, a Congressman or anyone.
It's her body, it's her choice and she should be allow to make it.
Instead of caving yet again, "moderates" should try to find enough of a spine to endorse a position that more than half of America supports. We're not sure whether they find it personally distasteful or if it's just another case of some poll showed them they might be able to persuade a few religious freaks to vote for them. It doesn't matter. The battle for reproductive rights was a long one and we won. And if moderates think they're going to take that right away or move away from supporting it, we can draw the battle lines all over again.
Reproductive rights are not "on the table." The party needs to realize that and find it's spine.

And that's the news for this Friday.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Marti Hiken's "Understanding The U.S. Military"

We open with the news of Marti Hiken's "Understanding The U.S. Military" which is a two page section of the CODEPINK book Stop The Next War Now. Hiken is with the National Lawyers Guild and the co-chair of their Military Law Task Force.

Marti Hiken writes of the fact that the enlisted are needed to stop the war because the enlisted "control the war; they're the ones who can throw their shoes into the machinery; they're the ones who can put down the guns." To let men and women in the service know that they are supported in their opposition to the war, Hiken offers "some ways you can help."

The hotline for the military is 1-800-394-9544 and they can also visit online.
I'll add that web site to my blog roll this weekend.

This will allow you to hear from those serving and to make contact.

For this one, I'm going to quote in full:
The American Friends Service Committee and the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft have both organized good efforts in this vein, but more are needed. See,
the Web site of the Central Commitee for Conscientious Objectors, for a list of groups doing counter-recruitment. Download the literature, go to your local high schools, and pass it out.

I'll add that web site to the blog roll this weekend too.

Over at The Common Ills, C.I. has been discussing each section of the book. C.I. e-mailed me the two pages Hiken's section appears on (pages 19 and 20) because recruiters is a topic I talk about a lot. This was a really good part of the book. I've read the things C.I. has done and thought, "I need to pick this book up" but even with Wally, Rebecca and Jim urging me to I hadn't done that yet. I read the whole pages (thanks for scanning them C.I.) at the library on campus this afternoon and went out and got the book on my way home. You can also order it through CODEPINK. I made the mistake of leaving the sack on the kitchen table when I got home while I made myself a snack. Then I head off to get ready for my date. I come back through on my way out and Dad's reading it. He said he saw the sack and wondered what was in it so he went nosing around and started reading and now he's got to finish it. He's a fast reader and I got in late a little while ago so knowing Dad he's probably finished it by now. But Dad's someone who reads the Boston Globe each morning and that's about it. So for him to get caught in this book should tell you that you should check it out. Besides your book stores, you can also get it from CODEPINK by visiting this page.

Jim and the gang at The Third Estate Sunday Review are always talking up libraries so you can also check with your library to see if they have a copy.

I'll also nudge you over to Democracy Now! which reported this today:

Rumsfeld Urged to Launch Do Not Call List Over Recruiting
This new on military recruiting: A group of parents from the Leave My Child Alone coalition are calling on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today to establish a National Do Not Call List to safeguard family privacy from unwanted military recruitment. The request comes a week after it was disclosed that the Pentagon has teamed with a private marketing firm called BeNOW to form a massive database of high school and college students to target for recruitment purposes. The New York Times reports there are already 30 million names in the database. Megan Matson of the Leave My Child Alone coalition said, "Millions applauded when the FCC formed a Do Not Call List for consumers. Now we need the armed forces to create one to protect our children's privacy."

CounterRecruiter talked about it yesterday and make sure you're telling people about this. I don't know how old any of my readers are unless they write and tell me so there may be older people reading and all but I do know that a lot of the people writing in are high school or college age. So make sure you are keeping your brothers and sisters and cousins as well as your friends informed at a minimum. And older readers make sure you are passing the news on to parents and young people you know at a minimum.

I'm responding to one e-mail here tonight because it's not tonight, it's morning and I'm pretty worn out and need to grab some sleep.

Loretta's bothered my advice to Ward and Bree Tuesday. Loretta asked why I talked about their questions and thinks a small penis (Bree's problem with her boyfriend) doesn't deserve attention. Loretta, if someone asks a question and I think I can take a crack at, I'll answer it.
My answer may be wrong or right and each reader can decide that all by themselves. But if a small penis is a topic no one should talk about, explain to me this "Don't super-size me" at Alternet's Peek. Evan Derkacz wrote about this Thursday. He's talking about a thing written on Wednesday and a thing written on Thursday. Now why Evan can't give credit to my site and what I wrote Tuesday is a good question but obviously other sites are talking about even if we did talk about it on Tuesday before other sites did this week. Maybe cause we were dealing with a question by Bree and not something written in an online magazine? Maybe it was a little too democratic? Or maybe because it's not possible to know everything going on online so any blog report is bound to miss something?

Loretta felt my advice was "glib." Loretta, Bree had a problem with her boyfriend's penis size and Ward had a problem with his girlfriend's breast size. What would you have told them? Ignore it and get married? I told them they needed to think about it. They do. If this stuff is important to them they are not going to be happy with their current partners and everyone involved would be better off moving on. Loretta wrote that "all relationships are sacred" which means she's been very lucky on the dating scene. My observation is that most relationships are based on superficial bonds and when you find yourself in one like that you need to be honest about it before you end up doing something stupid like getting married to someone you have nothing in common with.

Fooling yourself or someone else will only hurt both of you. So until you find the sacred relationship, you don't need to kid yourself or someone else. And telling someone who's in a short term relationship to ignore a problem they are having, whatever the problem is, isn't being realistic. Would I dump a girl I was seeing because of her breast size? No because I'm not hung up on breast size. (A pair of legs catch my eyes much quicker. Which is why summer is my favorite time of year.) But let's pick a problem that's not body parts. Loretta, you're dating me and you get mad at every meal because I'm chewing with my mouth open. You're telling all your friends, "I am so tired of his smacking like a cow!" Should your friends tell you, "Oh ignore it, you're so great together"? If they do that and we keep seeing each other and marry one another you're looking at possibly spending your life at the table with someone who annoys you at every meal. Is that what you want for your life?

It may be. That's why Ward and Bree, and anyone else who writes, is urged to think about what is important to them. I think if we got married you'd be go crazy and wonder why you didn't keep ignoring this issue that bothered you and realize how annoying it was to you and always would be to you.

You feel I "lack wisdom" and you're probably right. Check out my profile, I'm 19 years old. If someone writes in with a question, I'll answer it to the best of my ability. Considering the questions coming in, you probably will find many topics "gross" so you need to ask yourself is this a site you want to visit or not.

Headed to bed now but before I do, I do not chew with my mouth open. Ma would be so upset if she read this and tell me off for letting people think that she did not enstill good table manners in all her kids. She also taught us all to say please and thank you so let me say thank you publicly to C.I. for passing on the section from Stop The Next War Now.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Are the numbers for June really up? Not so fast

No, I did not write again yesterday. And five of you are writing saying, "You went out with her again, didn't you?" Suddenly I got five additional mothers? :D No, I didn't go out with her again. We ended up talking on the phone for several hours.

I got an e-mail I want to share a little of: "When you talk about sex I cringe. But at least you make it funny. I'm happy to read your blog and proud of you." Who was that? My actual mother! Ma, you're making me blush.

Ma says when I switch from e-mails to news I should say something like, "Now, in the news."
So now, in the news.

If you saw this headline "U.S. Army ends 4-month recruiting slump in June" you might
think things are going better. Read beyond the headline:

In May, the active-duty Army lowered its recruiting goal and still missed it by 25 percent. It also fell short in February, March and April. Army officials have been expressing optimism about a recruiting turnaround in the summer months after high school graduates begin to decide on careers.

Also know that the figures haven't been released and can't be proven right. And realize that in June, one month after high school graduations, the military would be expected to do better than usual.

The figures can't be checked and we need to remember that. But when they do come out we need to remember that they dropped the numbers. This isn't "Oh June just topped January!"
They have lowered the monthly goal and still weren't able to keep it. Now they say they did.
And what month was that?

June when high schoolers have just graduated.

You got some kids who do want to join and are just waiting to graduate. You also have some kids who've been phoned and phoned all year and they're out of high school and there's not a lot of jobs in this economy, tuition has gone up, so what are some kids going to do? Sign up.

Let's wait for the figures and let's wait to see if they can do anything similar next month.

Now, back to the e-mails.

Madeline wants to know why a guy blows his game before half-time or sometimes leaves it in the locker room.

If the dude leaves it in the locker room all the time then he probably needs some help with staying power like viagra or something. Now if this is some guy you just started seeing, maybe he's new to sex and nervous. I also wonder what pep sqaud activities are going on before the start of the game? For instance, you can touch his rod but you're not their to give a hand job.
If he's losing it at half-time and does it all the time then you need to figure out if it's his problem or your problem?

If a girl sticks her tongue in my ear during, it drives me wild and i know i need to slow the pace down or I'll be leaving the field at half-time. Is there something you're doing, Madeline, each time the whistle goes off mid-game? Think about that and if you can think of something, use that play later in the game.

If it's nothing you're doing and it happens regardless, he's a sprinter and not a marathon runner so he needs to consider his options and you need to discuss it with him so he knows there is a problem. You've got a right to enjoy yourself too and if you're not enjoying yourself, you need to address the issue with him.

Hope that helps. I'll add that if he's no one you're that interested in, just break it off. It's only your problem if you're invested in the relationship.

Now, back to the news. CounterRecruiter is one of my favorite sites and it charts reality on recruitment like nobody. From a post today:

The Leave My Child Alone coalition called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today to establish a National Do Not Call List to safeguard family privacy from unwanted military recruitment. The call comes a week after it was disclosed that the Pentagon has teamed with the private firm BeNOW to form a massive database of high school and college students to target for recruitment purposes.

Now, for some laughter. This is from a post by C.I. the top part is about a casualty and it is worth reading but I wanted to have something to make you smile and think this will:

Our final note on this morning's Times is on Elisabeth Bumiller who leaves the "White House Letter" to write what she (and apparently the Times) considers a news article, a hard news one worthy of the main section even if drips with the excess of feature writing at its worst.
Possibly emboldened by her recent award (strange that the Times mentions awards won by other staff but leaves out the fact that Bumiller just picked up the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week award), Bumiller was feeling all "reportish" and needed to weigh in on a pressing issue of our time: Homeland Security. This being Bumiller, she can't grasp concepts so she focuses on a person: Frances Fragos Townsend. Bumiller's piece is called "Homeland Security Adviser Gets High Marks in a Tough Job" which lets fans and foes know right away that even though it's not a "White House Letter," Bumiller's still capable of a full body butt smooch.
Reading along you may wonder why it's near the end of the article that you find out this " model of decorum with coiffed hair, well-cut suits and toned-down public demeanor" is also married to Bully Boy's old classmate from Andover and Yale. Kind of an important detail to anyone attempting to pen more than "I Just Love Covering D.C.! Everyone Is So Darn Nice!" stories.

Bumiller seems enthralled by the "model of decorum with coiffed hair, well-cut suits and toned-down public demeanor " whom is found "salty"Bumiller notes Louis J. Freeh's "analysis": "The [FBI] agents loved her." Though it must have been hard for Bumiller not to add an exclamation point to that statement -- a line over a little heart, no doubt. We also learn that she was very comfortable in close quarters with criminals and that she now works in the basement of the White House's West Wing, two apparently unrelated items.
Laugh with Bumiller as she wastes space to tell the tale of Condi Rice calling to pass on good news from Bully Boy (the offer of Fragos Townsend's current job). See, "Dr. Rice" was on the written message and Fragos Townsend was angry because she thought her husband, oh you're sides will be splitting!, she thought when she read the message that "her husband [was] making medical appointments for her." It's all so funny! To Bumiller anyway. And so little to do with the announcements re: Homeland Security that Frances Fragos Townsend is expected to make Wednesday.
"Friends say" pops up a lot in the article. A further testament to the fact that Bumiller is not now able to do anything remotely resembling hard news. But she is the squad leader of The Elite Fluff Patrol so nothing will prevent her from fluffing! Not the fact that Fragos Townsend refused to speak to her (a possible sign of taste not cited as such in Bumiller's article), not the fact that Bumiller apparently knows less about the report forthcoming tomorrow than she does about writing on the topic of Homeland Security.
How did that assignment come down?
Editor: There's a report on Homeland Security due to be released Wednesday! We need someone on it! Who we got?
Bumiller: (looking up from the In Style she's been leafing through for the last hour) Me! Me! Send me in coach!
Editor: (skeptical) Well, I don't know Elisabeth, you seem . . . sort of busy.
Bumiller: Please! If I have to read this profile on Nick Lachey one more time to try to figure out whether or not he and Jessica Simpson are going to make it, my head will explode! Why does In Style have to do such in depth reporting! Why!
Regardless of how she came to the piece, once she had her hands on it, it was going to be Fluff City because that's the signature approach of The Elite Fluff Patrol's squad leader. Her constant dedication to all things fluffy may be the only thing one can count on from Bumiller.

That's from C.I.'s "NYT: Jennifer 8. Lee reports, Bumiller fluffs." If you haven't read The Common Ills, why not? It's my favorite site. You'll learn, you'll laugh. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Recruiters and answering some questions you e-mailed about

Gonna get the important stuff out of the way. Friday on Democracy Now! they did this great report called "Pentagon Developing Massive Database on Millions of U.S. Students." I'm going to slice you a little piece off from the top of the report:

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to go to Congress Member Honda in a minute, but right now, we turn to Mark Rotenberg, Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. Can you explain this database?
MARK ROTENBERG: Yes. Amy, first of all, it's Mark Rotenberg. And the database that's being proposed by the Department of Defense is an effort to essentially micro-target the recruiting effort. What they are doing is taking information that’s available in public record sources and commercial data brokers and developing profiles on American high school students and American college students who could be recruited into the armed services. EPIC, my organization, which is online at does a lot of privacy act work. And when we saw the notice in the federal register last month about this proposed database we quickly realized that there were Privacy Act problems. And as the story has gone forward over the last month, it's really extraordinary what's coming out now about this program.
JUAN GONZALEZ: What about the whole issue that the armed forces are saying that they are prepared to share the information with other entities of the government, as well?
MARK ROTENBERG: Right. Well, they're saying many different things. I mean, there have been a lot of conflicting statements, even at the press conference last evening when they were talking about the database. They said on the one hand, it was not going to be used to call recruits directly until someone pointed out that, in fact, they were collecting telephone numbers. So they’re having a bit of difficulty, I think, you know, getting the story straight. But one of the important things about the Privacy Act, and this really does go to your question, is that it requires the federal agencies to explain how they propose to use the information. So the Department of Defense says that in the first instance the information will be used for recruiting purposes, and then they set out what are called the Privacy Act Exceptions. And they list 13 different categories of additional use of the information, including a possible use for law enforcement purposes. They have, in effect, by this notice already announced that they reserve the right to use all of this data that they're collecting for law enforcement purposes and to transfer to law enforcement agencies.
AMY GOODMAN: Congress Member Mike Honda of California is also on the phone with us. He is sponsoring a bill that would make it easier for parents to block military recruiters from gaining access to their high school-aged children through this provision of the No Child Left Behind Act. Congress Member Honda, what is the bill that you have introduced?

If you missed it, go use the link to check it out. This is scary stuff. And so is what Caeser e-mailed me about which is nonstop calls from recruiters. The calls come in all the time and he and his folks and sister can be sitting down at dinner time to eat and there's the phone ringing.
Nothing gets them to stop callling and you can't block them even if you are on 1 of those lists so you don't get calls from telemarketers.

Caesar's cussed them out, his father's cussed them out but they keep calling all the time.

Caesar asked me how desperate do I think the military is? I think they are pretty desperate, Ceasar, because we are at war and no one wants to sign up for the Bully Boy's Non Excellent Adventure. And get this, most of the time they can't even get his name right. They are just like telemarketers. Caesar is Latino and his name is pronounced "say-zar" but he writes that they call up and ask for "see-ser" like he's a "salad."

Connie e-mailed with a question about her boyfriend's penis. They are white heads and he just needs to pop them. Ward e-mailed wanting to know how to talk his girlfriend into getting implants. Ward, there are a lot of problems with your question. First, if she doesn't want them why do you want her to get cut up? Second, at 16 she'd need her parents or parent or guardian's permission if she did want them. So even if she decided she wanted them that still wouldn't mean she'd get them. You like big breasts, Ward, and you like your girlfriend. I think you're going to have to sit down and figure out which you like more. If she's "perfect" except for her breasts and you've got a problem with what you call her one fault then you really aren't the guy for her.

Misha e-mailed wanting to know "Who sleeps in the wet spot?" You mean like Seattle?

Oh I crack myself up!

Misha, the days may be gone when a guy puts his overcoat on top of a puddle to let a woman walk over but I'd argue the principle still applies. If this is a problem with you and your boyfriend or boyfriends I'd say you need to point out where the wet spot came from originally and say, "You made it, you deal with it."

And Bree e-mailed about her boyfriend's small penis. So Ward up above might want to consider whether he's such a prize himself when he's wanting his girlfriend to get implants. Bree, if he's too small for you to feel and sex is important then he is not your prince. Find a better fit.

Joby e-mailed to tell me that Batman Begins is great and he has seen it six times already. So I guess others may like it. It was too slow for me.

Now besides the story at the top of the post, I wanted to share something else. It is on the same story. It is from CounterRecruiter which is a great site and I hope you will all visit it and check it out: has learned that seven Democratic senators have called on the Pentagon to stop using a massive database to target potential recruits. Last week it was revealed that the Pentagon had hired the private marketing firm BeNOW to run the database that keeps track of millions of high school and college students.

The heat is killing me and I started writing this as soon as I got home. I'll do some more tomorrow and if a shower wakes me up, I'll do some more tonight. I think it's the indoor a.c. and then going out into the heat back and forth but something is sapping me.