Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Your Women Are Ugly!" is not a political argument

Even if it were remotely true, "our women are better-looking!" is not an argument. The idea that discussing the attractiveness of women's bodies as a point in favor of or against a specific set of political beliefs is just disgusting. And the implied possession -- as in, our things are pretty and yours are ugly -- is also revoltingly sexist.

I love how the Repubs are mostly professional headshots or publicity shots and the Dems are all the worst possible candids.

Girls sure are purdy when they want to take away other women's right to choose! (This is reminiscent of anti-choicers' tendency to compare the attractiveness of women on either side of the issue. Isn't patriarchy awesome?)

Vincent - Don McLean

Beautiful Song
"Now i understand,
what you tried to say to me,
how you suffered for your sanity,
how you tried to set them free,
they would not listen they did not know how, perhaps they'll listen now"

"Where words fail, music speaks." ---Hans Christian Andersen

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Self-Esteen and School Health Services

Yesterday, a Maine school board decided to allow a Portland middle school to open confidential health clinic within the school. The clinic will provide basic health services (like immunizations) as well as sexual health counseling and birth control. Kids will not need their parents' permission to obtain birth control, though they will need their parents' permission to be treated at the health center in the first place.

Amazingly, all but two members of the 12 member board voted to approve the center.

And while the sane were represented at the hearing, so were the (wing)nuts:

“It has been shown, over and over again, that this does not increase sexual activity,” said Pat Patterson, the medical director of School-Based Health Centers.

Reaction was mixed.

“This is really a violation of parents’ rights,” Peter Doyle, a Portland resident, told the committee. “If there were a constitutional challenge, you guys would be at risk of a lawsuit.”

Pat Patterson is right, and I'm so glad to see her or him shooting down the right wing argument (advanced by foes of BC and EC) that the availability of birth control makes kids crazy sex animals. Regarding Peter Doyle's argument, it's not so clear whether he's right or wrong. Parents definitely have a constitutionally protected interest to raise and educate their kids in the way they want to (within limits). But as kids grow up they too develop their own competing privacy rights. Some states already allow minors to access birth control without parental permission. If middle school kids can be sentenced to life in prison, there's nothing incongruous about giving them (all teens) the tools to lead healthy lives.

Just for fun, let's stipulate (against the evidence) that access to birth control will cause some young girls to have self-esteem reducing sex in middle school. What's more likely to cause problems and limit opportunities later in life--slightly reduced self esteem at age 14, or a baby at age 14?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Lapel Flag Pin Patriots.

Yesterday, in response to a question from a reporter suspicious of why he wasn’t wearing an American flag pin on his lapel, Barack Obama explained his belief that for some, the pins became a substitute for “true patriotism.” The senator said he would instead “try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.”

I didn’t expect leading conservative voices to understand, but I was a little surprised at the ferocity of the response. Jonah Goldberg described Obama’s perspective as “staggeringly stupid,” and “the single dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of him doing.” Another prominent far-right blogger responded this way:

“Seriously, you want this for President of these great United States.This is how he catches the attention of a media aligned with the terror force? This useful tool won’t wear an American flag pin? Talk about pandering to the radical base, he ought to run against Ahmadinejad.

“He is scoring points with Georgie Soros, won’t be waiting long for his on his Soros stipend, I’m sure. What’s Obama Hussein’s new campaign slogan, “America Sucks!”

Higher-profile conservative voices were only slightly less unhinged.

“But talk radio and cable news quickly pounced on the issue. “It just shows you he’s not ready for the big time,” conservative Laura Ingram opined on Fox News. Said Sean Hannity: “Why do we wear pins? Because our country is under attack!”

Hannity, a voice of reason in these trying times. Perhaps he believes lapel pins are some kind of protection against terrorist attacks? And if so, why doesn’t he wear one more often?

So the role model for true-blue, America-loving, super-duper-patriotic conservatives is...

...Abbie Hoffman?

(historical note from old geezer to young whippersnappers: Abbie Hoffman, 1970's radical, was arrested for wearing a shirt made from an American flag. Also arrested other times, for other charges -- see "Chicago Seven" -- but the shirt incident was one of the most famous.)

The Value of Torture Depends On the Goal

Torture in Iraq and Gitmo also cows the population here. If they are willing to torture Padilla, then we will damn well give up privacy in phone calls, habeas corpus, freedom to fly on domestic airplanes without taking our friggin shoes off in dirty airports. It means that Bushco means business when it comes to keeping people, all people, in line.

An article that’s making the rounds again about the way the Allies effectively broke down Nazi resistance to testifying after WWII through kindness and playing games of wit with them. It’s very interesting and more evidence against the use of routine torture to “get information”, which is the official excuse for torturing from the Bush administration and all their defenders. It helps to watch lots of “24″ to convince yourself that there’s just oodles of people out there who are one electroshock to the genitals away from spilling all sorts of life-saving information. The article is good—all a refutation of the idea that torture is an effective way of obtaining information.

It’s important to say that torture doesn’t work for obtaining information, but immediately follow it up with, “So if we’re not using torture for information, then what are we using torture for?” And the answer is that we’re torturing in order to cow into submission an unconsenting population we’re ruling over, something that torture is very good at. Information is irrelevant. The government barely had anything to charge Jose Padilla with, and they knew it—they didn’t charge him for years because they were waiting for him to cough up information. They tortured him so badly he lost his mind; if they cared what he knew, they wouldn’t have systematically destroyed his mind and the mysterious information in it. Padilla was a testing ground for the Bush administration to see if they could get away with disappearing people, a la some South American junta, so they could quell the loyal dissent at home with the threat that you could be locked away in prison and have your mind slowly dismantled with no hope for a trial.

What if the military had to run disclaimers in their recruiting ads like the Pharmaceutical Co's?

Great Moments In Presidential Speeches

Really Senator Craig?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

White House Retaliates Against UK For Withdrawal

The USA it appears is determined to rid itself of any and every potential ally as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. In response to the withdrawal announcement, the White House has decided to slander Britain. The Daily Telegraph reports today that a senior White House official has revoked Britain’s status of being “the closest Bush ally“:

“There’s concern about Brown,” a senior White House foreign policy official told The Daily Telegraph. “But this is compensated by the fact that Paris and Berlin are much less of a headache. The need to hinge everything on London as the guarantor of European security has gone.”

The White House official added that Britain would always be “the cornerstone” of US policy towards Europe but there was “a lot of unhappiness” about how British forces had performed in Basra and an acceptance that Mr Brown would pull the remaining 4,500 troops out of Iraq next year.

“Operationally, British forces have performed poorly in Basra,” said the official. “Maybe it’s best that they leave. Now we will have a clear field in southern Iraq.”

Translation: This is a job for Blackwater. We will soon be surging soldiers of fortune into Basra to shoot everything that moves.

No worries. After the "quick surgical strikes" into Iran, the south of Iraq will be like a resort spa.