Saturday, April 07, 2007

Saturday Goddess Blogging

Aradia, part the second.

Hymne à l'Aurore

Voici que s'approche la plus belle des Lumières
Le Char Radieux du puissant Roi
La Nuit noire cède sa couche à Aurore
La brillante, la blanche vêtue de rosée
Comme deux sœurs éternelles alternant leurs couleurs
Elles ne se heurtent ni s'arrêtent
Conduites par les Dieux

Aurore éveilles toutes choses
Ouvres les portes
Toi la jeune femme à la robe éclatante
Toi qui règne sur les richesses
Aurore éclatante brilles ici bas
Embrases toi au regard du Soleil
La Déesse a jeté ses noirs ornements
Et brille maintenant sous les portiques du ciel

Dressons nous, l'esprit de vie est en nous
Les ténèbres se sont allés, la Lumière arrive
Chantons cette Aurore qui monte
Et honorons là en allumant le Feu

From the Ring of Exchange on the Natural Magic and the Spiritual Traditions of Neo-Paganism


I know Hecate blogged Aradia on March 4, but according to Z Budapest's Grandmother Moon, Aradia is the Goddess of this lunation, the Wind Moon. I quote:

I am Aradia, the first teacher and avatar. Welcome to magic, my children, my witches, welcome to the Full Moon's light.
---Budapest, Z. Grandmother Moon. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1991, p. 87.

Outside the Charge of the Goddess, Aradia is not well known. Looking in my various reference books, she's barely mentioned.

However, in 1899 Charles Leland published a book called Aradia purporting to be an ancient sacred text of Italian witchcraft. Although its authenticity, as with most ancient sacred books - see the controversy over the recent discovery of the Gospel According to Judas - remains in question, it is, regardless, a fascinating read. And since, as a religious group, Pagans don't run around demanding that everyone recognize that our sacred texts are The Very Absolute Unquestionable Truth As Exactly Dictated By The Big Man In Heaven To His All-Male Secretarial Staff, it can be enjoyed as most spiritual texts should be: as potentially positive and illuminating myths that assist us in understanding and relating to the world around us.

Hail Aradia!

We want the VOTE, yes we DO...

We want the VOTE

How 'bout YOU?

Oh wait - you probably already HAVE the vote. But nearly 600,000 of your fellow Americans have NO representation in Congress (that's more people than live in Wyoming, and nearly as many as live in Delaware, Vermont, Alaska, and both the Dakotas). Think that's right? I don't either. So what are you doing on April 16 that's more important than standing up for the rights of your fellow citizens who've been disenfranchised? You know, we started a big ole war with the British over this very issue about 230 years ago....

So what can you do?

For those who are local or can travel, I'll see you at the Voting Rights March.

For those who aren't or can't, contact your Senators and Representatives (yes, even the Republicans) to express your support for justice for DC residents.

A Fat Rant

I'll have to apologize in advance for not being smart enough to figure out how to embed the YouTube video....sigh....and Hecate can vouch for the fact that I do actually know a thing or two about technology. Anyway, go check out Joy Nash's A Fat Rant on YouTube. Fucking brilliant.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Support Your Local Artist

It's Friday night, and all over the country millions of Americans are asking each other the same question: "What d'ya wanna do this weekend?"

Usually, the answer is to drop $20 on the latest "country" CD or head to the local multiplex and blow $17.50 (plus snacks) on the latest dumb comedy featuring SNL alums.

I have a radical suggestion: support local arts. That $20 will provide a cover charge and probably two drinks (plus a generous tip for your bartender) at most clubs featuring local bands. Most local theater companies, even really good ones, offer 1/2 price same-day tickets, cheap standing room only tickets, student rates, pay-what-you-can preview nights, or some combination of the above. Art Galleries are FREE. And no, you don't need to feel guilty about not buying anything - most art collectors only buy occasionally. Sometimes, if you have a gallery district, they'll even have a periodic gallery walk evening, often featuring free food and live music.

So how do you find out what's going on? Your local newspaper probably has information - it may even have a whole section. Your local free alternative weekly DEFINITELY has information. And there's always the good ole Internet.

So remember: think globally, spend your entertainment dollars locally. JLo doesn't really need any more of your hard-earned cash.

Photo credit: Deborah L. Brooks

Stop the Clash

Blogging from NTEN, once again. Check out the winning video in NTEN's annual Techies awards, Stop the Clash of Civilizations, created by The video calls on people around the world to stand together and demand REAL peace talks in the Middle East from our leaders.

Sign the petition.

It's not TV...

Further blogging from NTEN: HBO hits another one out of the park. Hacking Democracy is HBO's latest top-notch documentary, this one about vulnerability of the computer systems that undergird electronic voting in the US. Read more about the problems, and go add the movie to your Netflix list. (While you're there, add Spike Lee's excellent When the Levees Broke as well.)

Cherry Blossoms

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

The US Park Service says that foot traffic may be killing the trees, but get out there anyway and enjoy one of the most lovely and brief signs of spring in DC.

(And I have to point out that Japanese cherry trees have a normal life span of about 50 years, and the trees they're worried about are nearly 100 years old, so humans are at most only partially responsible.)

Photo credit: DaffodilLane, Flickr

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Thanks to Fab New Employer, who has actually heard of the this neat concept called "support your staffers' professional development," I’ve had the opportunity to attend the annual NTEN conference this week. Of the sessions I’ve attended, one of the most compelling was a panel on net neutrality, consisting of representatives from, the Free Press, the Consumer’s Union, and one poor schmoe from Verizon (had to admire his bravery, since he must’ve realized he was walking into the proverbial lion’s den).

For those of you who are just joining us, a little background:

Way back in the stone ages (actual time: about 15 years ago) when DARPA first released ARPANet to the public and the Internet was born (thanks in part to Al Gore, who was an early and passionate supporter of funding for this crazy idea), we all accessed this wonderful “series of tubes” over phone lines. Ah, the screechy mating call of the modern modem.

Because of this, the Internet was governed by the rules that govern phone lines, one of which ensures non-discrimination based on content or carrier. So if Ma Bell ran the phone lines, and I have MCI and you have Verizon, AT&T can’t refuse to put my call to you through, or slow it down, or mess with the signal so that it comes through delayed or distorted.

Stay with me here. All was well in Netland until cable companies started offering service and the major providers started running FIOS. Cable companies are governed by different rules than phone companies (anyone who gets a cable bill knows they’re allowed to charge different prices for access to different content and to deny access to some content all together), and running all that fiber was expensive, damn it, and we telecom companies want to get PAID.

Next thing you know, attorneys are making arguments before SCOTUS. You can read the full ruling if you have lots of time on your hands, but the point is that SCOTUS admitted that, while ending the historical neutrality in the treatment of content could have serious negative effects on the Internet, based on the current laws, they had to rule in favor of allowing the providers to charge more for differential access, starting in August 2005. SCOTUS also encouraged Congress to consider passing new legislation to address this issue.

”So what?” you think. “I know I pay more for broadband than my moms, who insists on sticking with her old dial-up account. What’s the problem?” The telecoms aren’t looking to charge consumers extra. That’s already legal. Net neutrality opponents want to charge extra to content providers to ensure that their content gets preferential treatment – their pages load more quickly, their high-bandwidth applications (voice, video) work without delays and hiccups, etc.

“OK, so Verizon DSL loads Yahoo! faster than Google because Yahoo! paid them a big pile of cash. I’ll just switch to Earthlink.” Yeah, that won’t help you. First of all, raise your hand if there are 10 different providers in your ‘hood. 5? More than 3?


Mmm-hmmm. Secondly, most of those providers do not in fact own the lines, and that’s where this battle is taking place. To quote Ed Whitacre, CEO of SBC:

“Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?”

Net neutrality opponents claim that they have to operate in an unregulated environment where they can recoup the costs of running all that FIOS or Wall Street won’t continue to provide investment capital. RIIIIIIGHT. Wall Street’s going to quit investing in the Internet. Because, as my spouse, The Big Geek, is so fond of remarking: “The Internet? Pffft. It’s a fad.” (hope the sarcasm translated there) Sorry. Not buying it.

They’d also like you to believe that this is about whether loads 2 seconds faster – or slower – than It’s not about Amazon versus Borders. You know what? They’ll both find a way to pay for fast access to their publics. So will You know who won’t? Hecate. Atrios. Daily Kos. Skype. YouTube.

The Internet, in its relatively brief lifespan, has been a powerful force for democracy, even anarchy (in the good way, not the setting fire to public buildings way). Meanwhile, EVERY OTHER FORM OF MEDIA has witnessed dramatic increases in ownership consolidation. Do you really want to live in a world where Rupert Murdoch-owned outlets are your only source of news? Me either.

So what can you do?

  1. Support the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, sponsored by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME). Go contact your Senators now. I’ll wait…
  2. Join Save the Internet.
  3. Stay informed about what’s going on.
Freedom of expression is a terrible thing to waste.

*NB – you have to use your SexyCrazyBraveheart Mel voice, not your WingnutAntiSemiticOpusDeiDrunk Mel voice, or it doesn’t sound right.

Everything I Needed to Know...

I Learned from the Rat Pack:
  • From funerals come flowers.
  • Always act like you know what you're doing.
  • Work hard, but make it look easy.
  • You get the kind of friends you deserve.
  • Anytime is the right time for a party.
  • Drink like a man.
  • There's always a higher peak.
  • Broads come and go but pallies are forever.
  • To be a good leader sometimes you have to be a bad man.
  • When in doubt, swing.
  • Learn to take a punch.
  • Never sweat the small stuff.
  • Only take a shot at a pal when he's in sight.
  • Money does no good sitting in your pocket.
  • A lady ain't a tramp.
  • There'll be plenty of time to sleep when you're dead.
  • Never apologize for your pals.
  • Never rat on a rat.
  • Make the most of your weaknesses.
  • Nobody owes you a good time.
  • Once you stop moving, you start dying.
  • If you can't do it with class, it isn't worth doing.
  • Better a proud thief than a humble beggar.
  • Work to live, not the other way around.
  • Rules are for suckers.
  • Loosen up.
  • Regrets are a dangerous rearview mirror.
  • Love the man in the mirror, because he's the best pal you got.
  • The world breaks everyone, and those who break sometimes end up stronger in the broken places.
  • You will know a true pal at first sight.
  • Better two pals than a two hundred acquaintances.
  • Take care of the little guy.
  • A man without enemies is a man without character.
  • Women are, and shall forever remain, a mystery.
  • Live in the now.


Hi there! I'm Hecate's (occassionally) bright football blogging friend E. Hecate will soon be off to the woods to spend some much-needed downtime with Son, D-i-L, and The Blessed Child, and she's leaving you in my hands. I'll try to keep up some of her regular features, like the Saturday Goddess blogging and the poetry, plus sharing information on some issues of local (DC) and national importance. I'm looking forward to interacting with all you fine folks in the next few days.

Positive Is Positive In My Book

Let's be clear about this. A false positive is, IMHO, a good thing. A "false positive" means that the mammogram identifies "something weird." Your doctor checks it out and it turns out to be nothing. You heave a sigh of relief and go home and hug you kids or kiss your significant other or thank your Goddess. Have a glass of champagne. Have lunch with that old friend with whom you've lost touch. Buy those shoes. Get a massage. Mozel tov.

There is nothing wrong with a false positive.

Well, unless you're an insurance company and you just paid for, say, a biopsy that turned out benign. Apparently, insurance companies would prefer to only pay for biopsies that turn out malignant.

You know what? Fuck the insurance companies.

I had a false positive once. A few year after i had breast cancer, something showed up on a mammogram. The doctor said to me, "I bet you this is nothing. What will you bet me?" I sat up and, naked from the waist up, grabbed his white lab coat. i looked directly into his lime-green eyes and I said, "Are you kidding? I've had breast cancer. I'm betting with everything that I've got -- everything -- each time that I walk though your doors." He sobered up, stuck a needle in the weird spot, was able to aspirate (pull liquid out of) it, and gladly declaimed it a false positive. I was happy. He was happy. Maybe my insurance company was pissed off; I don't know. I don't care.

A year or two later, I had another false positive. One of my blood tests indicated pretty clearly that the breast cancer had spread to my liver. That means just a few months to live before you die pretty ugly. That weekend, I realized that the one thing that I needed to do before I died was to go back to the creek where I used to go hang out when I was a kid. So, i did. And, on Monday, I went for a liver scan. Liver looked great; false positive. I was happy. Maybe my insurance company was pissed off; I don't know. I don't care.

Here's what i want. I want them to find every single little weirdness that they can find. If I have to undergo a needle aspiration to my sensitive breast tissue, fine. If I have to undergo a biopsy, fine. If I have to come back for more films, fine. CAT scan? Fine. And I hope to hell that all of them are false positives.

Women, please. Starting at 40, get an annual mammogram. Please.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Americans! Stop It!

This post at Crooks & Liars makes the very important point that our society has become increasingly stratified; the rich have been getting richer and the rest of the country has been getting poorer. That's not exactly news, but it's so foreign to our notion of how things are supposed to work in America, that we tend to ignore it, even though it's been happening in plain site.

And, yet, as most Americans have lost ground (it now takes two incomes for most families to live not-as-well as most families used to live on one salary), they've also been subjected to increased advertising and cultural pressure to spend more. Drive an SUV! Live in a McMansion! With several large-screen, high-definition, plasma gel screen TVs! Get Lasik! Vacation twice a year! Replace your year-old cell phone!

And how have people been able to spend so much more while losing ground financially?
Americans [have been] cashing out the equity in their homes to keep consumer spending up. In other words, the "new economy" is based on people slowly losing home ownership, not gaining it. Yup. Americans sold their homes and used the money to buy stuff. Mostly, stuff made overseas.

It sucks.

You can't change the economy. You can change the extent to which you will allow yourself to be duped by it into acquiring stuff that you don't need at the expense of your own financial future.

Fox In The Henhouse

Ruth Marcus makes a good point (although, of course, she has to throw in what I've come to refer to as "balance dicta," opining that "some people in the Clinton administration may have been sleazy too") in today's WaPo:

[T]here is something in the "loyal Bushies" mind-set of this administration and its fundamental scorn for government that contributes to . . . arrogant misbehavior.

If your faith is more in the operations of the private sector than in the capacity of government, if you have scant commitment to the laws you are pledged to enforce, if you see government less as a trust to be administered than a force to be used for the benefit of political and ideological allies, then this kind of behavior is the inevitable result.

In short, if you identify so completely with the foxes, it's no wonder that you end up with a henhouse that is so thoroughly, tragically trashed.

Marcus has lots of examples, ranging from, Eric Keroack, [whose] suitability for the family planning post, in which he was responsible for overseeing the distribution of contraceptives to low-income women [was that he] was director of a group that finds contraception "demeaning to women" and won't distribute it -- even to married women, to Michael Baroody, a top official at the National Association of Manufacturers, [whom Bush named] to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- the agency charged with protecting consumers against the dangerous products of, yes, manufacturers, to Julie MacDonald, the official who oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service but who has no academic background in biology, [and who] overrode the recommendations of agency scientists about how to protect endangered species [and] shared internal documents with industry officials and groups that lobby for weakened environmental protections, not to mention an online gaming buddy, to J. Steven Griles, a coal lobbyist who became the No. 2 official at the Interior Department. The list could go on and on.

Many were startled to learn that Bush's main expert on Iraq has been a thirty-seven year old. It's also been an eye-opener for some to learn just how many people in high positions in the Bush junta come out of whackjob fundie diploma mills.

Marcus is right. What this junta has done is thoroughly tragic. Heckuva job, Sandra Day. Heckuva job.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Goodling To Take The Fifth -- If Her Lawyer Didn't Fuck That Up For Her

From my days tracking down some of the Enron, et al. bad guys, I can tell you that there are two ways that you can let someone plead the Fifth Amendment. As is often the case, there is the easy way and then there is the hard way. (Jeff Skilling took the stupid way, which is to act all arrogant and not plead the Fifth, even though your lawyers told you to plead it. Jeff Skilling, it gives me intense personal pleasure to note, is in jail tonight and will be for many nights to come. I think of this every evening as I lay my head on my Egyptian cotton sheets. "I may have had a rough day," I say to myself, "but Jeff Skilling spent the day in jail." Then, I sleep the sleep of the justified.)

The easy way goes something like this. You notice the deposition of a bad guy. Bad guy's lawyer sends you a letter and says, "Hi! How's your golf game? Congrats on your son's wedding; he'll make a shitload at that firm and his wife's lovely. My client will plead the Fifth Amendment so fast that it will make your head spin. Do we all really need to waste our time? See you at the ABA conference next month; regards to your charming spouse." You write his lawyer back and say, "Hi! Wow, how about those Nats! You got great seats; your firm must have bought up a shitload of tickets. Let me know if you're ever not going to go. I saw your classmate Carl the other day; he said you used to cheat on your lawschool exams. Kidding! I think we can do this depo by phone and it will take 15 minutes. My secretary will email you the call-in number. I mean it about those seats. See you and your charming spouse at the ABA, or, if I'm too busy to go to that, at the country club dinner." You have a call-in depo. You ask the bad guy his name; he answers. You ask his business address; he says that he no longer has one but he's consulting from home. You ask if he raped California; he takes the Fifth. You ask if all his answers to similar questions will be the same. He says "Yes." You ask the court reporter if she got all that. She says, "You bet; but I get paid for at least four hours." You say, "Thanks. Bye."

The hard way goes like this. You notice the deposition of the bad guy and his lawyer sends you a chatty letter and you write back and say, "Shut up and show up." Bad guy and his lawyer show up and start taking the Fifth when you ask where he went to school. And then, for hours, you keep on asking the bad guy questions and he keeps on taking the Fifth. Punctuate this with long fights with his lawyer over whether or not he's entitled to take the Fifth on this question. Followed by, later, bad guy saying, "On advice of counsel, I invoke my rights under the Fifth Amendment not to answer on the grounds that my answer may tend to incriminate me." Over and over again. You can even take a break for lunch and come back for round two. I think that the last time that I saw this done professionally, Bobby Kennedy was AG and Jimmy Hoffa was calling him "Bobby Boy," but I'm getting old.

Looks as if Miss Monica may be heading for the hard way. Her lawyer may have been absent from law school the day that they were studying not being rude to the people who are asking you the questions.

Tragedy Of The Commons

I adore Twisty and this made me slap my thigh and laugh out loud.

Tragedy of the Commons. That's all I'm saying. Motherfucking Tragedy of the Motherfucking Commons. Externalities. Your right to swing your fist and my nose. Etc.

A Pool So Pitchblack, Fell-Frowning, It Rounds And Rounds Despair to Drowning

And, strangely enough, when I get arond to google, it turns out that the final line of the poem that has been haunting me for a few days ("and the wilderness, yet" ) is Hopkins' as well:


This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fawn-froth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, fell-frowning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Grandeur. Spring.

Today, T. Thorn Coyle quotes Martha Graham:

There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.

and reminds me of one of my favorite spring poems EVER that I've been meaning to post:

Gerard Manley Hopkins 1918.

7. God’s Grandeur

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

I've caged Hopkins' final lines more times than I can count when invoking Air/the Guardians of the Watchtower of the East to cast a circle. (Or course, more recently, I've stolen directly from Robert Louis Stevenson: "I watched you toss the kites on high, and blow the birds about the sky. I felt you pass. I heard you call. I could not see yourself at all, Oh, Wind, a-blowing, all day long, Oh, Wind, that sings so loud a song." It's easy to call East.)

But I love everything about this poem. This poem alone can bring me back to myself, can help me to remember who I really am and where I really live when life seems ugly, threatening, frightening, sad.

I love Hopkins' notion that the experience of deity is like the sparks of light that come off of shook foil and that gathers to greatness like an ooze of oil that is crushed beneath a weight. But, as he notes, the soil is bare now and feet, shod inside shoes, cannot feel it. (See a few weeks ago my post re: the joys of going barefoot.)

And, then, the key lines: And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things. There lives the dearest freshness deep down inside everything, inside a seed, inside a rock, inside a tree, inside the birdsong filling the air, inside the blackberry bushes fencing in the field, inside you, inside me, inside each cell, inside cancer, inside bacteria, inside the soil, inside the bulbs, inside the Sun, inside the Atlantic, inside, well, inside everything.

And, then, Hopkins' paen to Sophia: "And though the last lights off the black West went, Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs, Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings."

For me, the grandeur of the world is wrapped up in photosynthesis, in sun on leaves, in ideas that whiz around the noosphere so fast that no able-fingered adept could ever really play this glass bead game.

Long may she so brood. Don't give up on us, Sophia. There is, indeed, the dearest freshness deep down things.

Step It Up

April 14th. It's not just tax day, anymore.

There are already 1186 events planned in 50 states across the country!

Monday, April 02, 2007


As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that one on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon - you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you're seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfumes of every kind -
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean

~Constantine P. Cavafy

More A Cultural Argument

What Glenn Greenwald said:

Independently, the right-wing movement in this country has used as its principal rhetorical tactic over the last two decades the claim that they represent the "normal, mainstream Americans," while liberals are the subversive freaks on the coasts, hopelessly out of touch with mainstream American values. Hence, few things are more damaging to their political brand than for it to be acknowledged that on the most critical political issue of the decade -- Iraq -- they are about as isolated and fringe as a political movement can be. That is why they will deny whatever facts one presents, no matter how clear and compelling, which demonstrate just how repudiated their views are by the "normal, nonideological Americans" (h/t David Brooks).
Those facts squarely contradict the central politcal argument they have been making for two decades now, at least (which is really more a cultural argument than political argument). They now stand revealed as the fringe, out-of-the-mainstream movement, and they will do anything -- including just outright denying the clearest empirical data -- in order to prevent a recognition of that fact.

What I think is important here is Greenwald's point that what the Republicans have been doing for the past twenty years or so is making a cultural argument rather than a political argument. All of their political arguments are bogus and are generally shown to be bogus and are often admitted by the Republicans themselves to be bogus. I was reminded of this by the recent legal problems of David Stockman, who famously admitted that Reagan's "trickle-down" theory, whereby taxcuts for the rich were purported to trickle down to the poor, was all just blige designed to get the morons in middle America to go along with tax cuts for the rich. It happens over and over like that.

They're not really the "law-n-order" crowd as Nixon claimed; in fact, they cut Clinton's program that funded extra cops on the street and they've never met a corporate or regulatory scandal that they didn't want to sweep under the rug instead of prosecute, nor a terrorist whom they cared to actually, you know, prosecute and put in jail. And, Goddess knows, "rule of law" is a concept to which they are not merely indifferent, but actively hostile.

Even when they're in complete power, they don't criminalize abortion or living while being gay, because they know that, if they finally did those things, the rubes might start to wonder why their lives are still crap even though no more "babies" are being "killed" in "abortion mills" and even though gays are now afraid to exist.

They're not really the "fiscally conservative" party. They build pork-laden bridges to nowhere and can't keep track of all the money shipped off to Iraq. On pallets.

They're not really the "competent managers." After billions of dollars and a huge reorganization of government into the odiously-named Department of Homeland Security, they can't evacuate flood victims nor provide for those who manage to evacuate themselves.

One could go on and on. The point is that their political arguments are tripe and marketing, pasteboard mock-ups of that man behind the curtain. What they have, in fact, been making for two years is, as Greenwald notes, a cultural argument. And that cultural argument is ugly and it goes like this: The goddamn blacks and women and immigrants and Moslems are gonna come and take what's yours unless you help us to kill them. Don't you want a macho War President to deal with them? You know that you do.

It's time that we see them for what they are and begin to deal with what they really are, rather than what they say that they are. Because answering that cultural argument is what's finally helping the Democrats to whip the Republicans' asses.

Hillary Sends An E-Mail

We can end the war in Iraq. We can achieve universal health care coverage. We can commit to energy independence. We can restore America's rightful place on the world stage.

Working together, we'll get our country back on track. It's going to be a long journey with a lot of hard work, but I can't think of anything more important.

So let's get back to work. I need your help right now on an important issue.

Last week we passed historic legislation in the Senate that calls for a phased redeployment for our troops in Iraq while ensuring they have the support they need. It's an important first step in ending the war in Iraq. But President Bush has threatened to veto the bill.

The American people have had enough of the president's failed strategy in Iraq. Join me today. Tell President Bush to listen to the will of the people and withdraw his veto threat.


Go here to tell Bush not to veto the will of the American people.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

First Of The Month Bazooms Blogging

The sad news about Elizabeth Edwards' cancer this month should, if nothing else, motivate all women to do a monthly breast self-exam (BSE). BSEs are one of the best ways to find breast cancer early and early detection is one of the most important factors in saving your life if you do have cancer. The earlier a cancer is caught, the better a woman's chances for survival. BSE is easy to do. Here's how.

Men, are there women you'd miss if they were to die from breast cancer? Can you remind them to do a monthly BSE? Can you give them one hour a month off from work to go home and do a BSE? Can you take the kids to the park or pick up dinner to give them time to do a BSE?

Women, if you prefer to do your BSE at a particular time in your cycle when your breasts are less dense, less tender, etc. now is still a perfect time to calendar your BSE so you won't get too busy and forget.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

Fascinating article in today's NYT about the stresses faced by today's young men. Here are a few of the more interesting snippets:

Ed and Colby are two of the amazing boys at Newton North High School here in this affluent suburb just outside Boston. “Amazing boys” translation: Boys by the dozen who are high achieving, ambitious and confident (if not immune to the usual adolescent insecurities and meltdowns). Boys who do everything: Varsity sports. Student government. Theater. Community service. Boys who have grown up learning they can do . . . anything they want to do.

But being an amazing boy often doesn’t feel like enough these days when you’re competing with all the other amazing boys around the country who are applying to the same elite colleges that you have been encouraged to aspire to practically all your life.

* * *

To spend several months in a pressure cooker like Newton North [High School] is to see what a boy can be — what any young person can be — when encouraged by committed teachers and by engaged parents who can give them wide-ranging opportunities.

It is also to see these boys struggle to navigate the conflicting messages they have been absorbing, if not from their parents then from the culture, since elementary school. The first message: Bring home A’s. Do everything. Get into a top college . . . . The second message: Be yourself. Have fun. Don’t work too hard.

And, for all their accomplishments and ambitions, the amazing boys, as their teachers and classmates call them, are not immune to the third message: While it is now cool to be smart, it is not enough to be smart.

* * *

You still have to be pretty, thin and, as one of Ed’s classmates, K. Jiang, a go-to stage manager for student theater who has a perfect 2400 score on his SATs, wrote in an e-mail message, “It’s out of style to admit it, but it is more important to be hot than smart.”

“Effortlessly hot,” K. added.

If you are free to be everything, you are also expected to be everything.

* * *

Another of Ed’s friends, from student theater, Lee Gerstenhaber, 17, was juggling four Advanced Placement classes with intense late-night rehearsals for his starring role as Brick, . . . in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” It was too much. About 4 a.m one day last fall, he was still fighting his way through Advanced Placement physics homework. He dissolved in tears.

“I had always been able to do it before,” Lee recalled later. “But I finally said to myself, ‘O.K., I’m not Superman.’ ”

He dropped physics — and was incandescent as Brick.

* * *

This year Ed has been trying life without a girlfriend. It was his mother’s idea. “She’d say, ‘I think it’s time for you to take a break and discover who you are,’ ” Ed said over lunch with Colby. “She was right. I feel better.”

“I never felt like having a girlfriend was a burden,” Colby said. “I enjoy just being comfortable with someone, being able to spend time together. I don’t think that means I wouldn’t feel comfortable or confident without one.”

Ed said: “I’m not trying to say that’s a bad thing. I’m like you. I never thought, ‘If I don’t have a girlfriend I’ll feel totally forlorn and lost.’ ”

But who needs a girlfriend? “My guy friends have consistently been more important than my girlfriends,” Ed wrote in an e-mail message. “I mean, guy friends last longer.”

Girlriends or not, a deeper question for Ed and Colby is how they negotiate their identities as young men. They have grown up watching their fathers, and their friends’ fathers, juggle family and career. They take it for granted that they will be able to carve out similar paths, even if it doesn’t look easy from their vantage point.

They say they want to be both masculine and assertive, like their fathers. But Colby made the point at lunch that he would rather be considered too assertive and less conventionally masculne than “be totally passive and a bystander in my life.”

Ed agreed. He said she admired Cris, the spunky resident on “. . . one of his favorite TV shows.

“He really stands up for himself and knows who he is, which I aspire to,” Ed said.

Cris is also “really handsome,” Ed laughed. “And when he’s taking off his scrubs, he’s always wearing cute boxers.”

Speaking of boxers, part of being masculine is feeling good about how you look. Ed is not trying to be one of Newton North’s trendsetters, the boys who show up every day in Ugg boots, designer jeans — or equally cool jeans from the vintage store — and tight-fitting tank tops under the latest North Face jacket.

* * *

The amazing girls say they admire guys like Ed and Colby.

“I hate it when boys dumb themselves down,” Gabe Gladstone, the co-captain of mock trial, was saying one morning to the other captain, Cameron Ferrey.

Cameron said she felt the same way.

One of Ed’s close friends is Danielle Catomeris, a school theater star. “One of the most attractive things about Ed is how smart he is,” said Danielle, whose mother is a professor at Harvard Business School. . . .

Sometimes, though, everybody wants some of these hard-charging boys to chill out. Tom DePeter, an Advanced Placement English teacher, wants his students to loosen up so they can write original sentences. The theater director, Adam Brown, wants the boys to “let go” in auditions.

Oh, did I say this was an article about young men? My bad. It's really an article about young women. And, did I say "Ed"? Sorry; I mean Ester. "Masculine"? Silly me; I meant "feminine". Did I say "Daielle"? Whoops, I meant Dan.

I can almost hear your sigh of relief, feel the tension drain out of your shoulders. Because what you've been reading didn't make any goddamn sense, did it?

And if it doesn't make any goddamn sense to write this kind of idiotic pablum about young men, could someone please tell me why the NYT is publishing this kind of idiotic pablum about young women?