Saturday, July 15, 2006

Digging by Seamus Heaney


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

Seamus Heaney

Why I Love Young Feminists

The Mad Melancholic Feminista makes an excellent point.

Why was Sartre the philosopher and de Beauvoir the companion?

Enemies Of Freedom, Antidemocratic, Antiequality, Highly Prejudiced, Mean-Spirited, Power Hungry, Machiavellian And Amoral.

John Dean's -- yes, that John Dean -- recent editorial in the Boston Globe spends quite a bit of time going over some territory that's fairly familiar to most of us by now. Turns out that the Bush junta and its enablers are actually NOT conservatives, according to Dean.

And, some of his points are well taken. Conservatives did, at one time, stand for less government spending, for example. However, Dean's assertion that Reagan and Goldwater were leading lights of the environmental movement, however, simply rewrites history.

But Dean's larger point, that "We need to stop thinking we are dealing with traditional conservatives on the modern stage, and instead recognize that they've often been supplanted by authoritarians," is an important one. However, Dean fails to grasp what's really going on. As I've noted before, this is a coup. The democratically-elected government of the United States has been, and is in the process of being, replaced by a coup. By stealing votes, Diebolding votes, and control of the media, they've succeeded in taking over America.

The only difference between the Bush Coup and the sorts of coups we're used to hearing about in South America, for example, is that there was no armed assault on the Capitol and, especially given the junta's control of the media, that allowed many Americans to remain blind to what happened. Dean shouldn't be surprised that these people call themselves conservatives even though they aren't. They also pretend to be democratically-elected when they aren't, to have a mandate that they don't have, and to support concepts such as "freedom" and "democracy" that they actively work to undermine.

This is hardly a new tactic. The invader marries the wife of the murdered king. The xians build their churches on old Pagan holy sites. The empire claims to be liberating the people they subjugate. Bush pretends to be conservative. It makes it easier to pretend that nothing's really changed. Nothing to see here; move along.

Dean is completely right about one thing, though:

"Authoritarian conservatives are, as a researcher told me, `enemies of freedom, antidemocratic, antiequality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian and amoral.' And that's not just his view. To the contrary, this is how these people have consistently described themselves when being anonymously tested, by the tens of thousands over the past several decades." Now that someone has articulate the nature of the people we want to depose, perhaps the Democrats will quit pretending that if they just apologize a few more times for a few more attempts at having a spine everything will turn out A-OK

The 32 Percenters -- Part II

The people who still love George Bush.

I've Just About Had It With These People

Via Witchvox comes an interesting story from the Lexington Herald-Leader concerning the Southern Baptists' worry that enivronmental issues may -- I am not making this up -- "divide evangelical Christians and distract them from their higher calling to spread the gospel." Yeah, I've noted how disinterested they've become in political issues that distract them from the "higher calling of spreading the gospel." You know, the gospel that says that reproductive choice is the worst thing that could possible happen and that gay marriage will destroy the world. You know how it says that in the gospel, right?

But apparently everything changes when some evangelicals begin to worry about the environment: "There are a number of other more pressing moral and cultural issues than mankind's impact on the environment that need to be addressed by evangelicals, namely that nearly 4,000 pre-born babies are being aborted every day in America," said Kenyn Cureton, vice president for Southern Baptist Convention relations.

And, of course, there's their new-found terror of Paganism, as more thoroughly documented by Jason Pitzl-Waters at The Wild Hunt:

""Some in our culture have completely rejected God the Father in favor of deifying 'Mother Earth,'" and "made environmentalism into a neo-pagan religion," the resolution states.

The Rev. Bill Leonard, the Wake Forest Divinity School dean who has written extensively on Southern Baptists, said the denomination is wary of the environmental movement.

"I think there's concern among Southern Baptists regarding global warming, pollution, gas issues related to fossil fuel," he said. "But I think it's also a concern of right-of-center Southern Baptists who don't want to identify the denomination with the deifying of Mother Earth, what seems to them to be a kind of new age approach to the environment."

So, they've come out with a resolution that, while allowing modest concern for the environment, instructs evangelicans not to align with ""extreme environmental groups" or support solutions based on "questionable science" that could hurt the economy."

Yep. Continued hatred for reproductive choice, Mother Earth, and Pagans and continued concern for "the economy." I remember exactly where that shows up in the gospels.

Wait, no I don't. Look, Southern Baptists, could you at least be honest? You're no more concerned with the gospels that I am. You want to hate on women and Pagans and Mother Earth and you believe corpratist bullshit that taking care of the environment will hurt the economy. Gospels, my sweet round ass.

A Craftsman's Fascination With Agricultural Implements

NYT has a very nice review of Seamus Heaney's new book of poems, District and Circle. The author, Brad Leithauser, explains that:

From the onset of his career, Heaney has shown a craftsman's fascination with agricultural implements: spades, plows, pumps, hammers. "District and Circle" extends this preoccupation ("The Turnip-Snedder," "The Harrow-Pin," "Súgán"). Some of the book's most memorable moments have the stray, startling illuminations of sparks thrown off a forge, as in "A Shiver," about a sledgehammer:

The way you had to heft and then half-rest
Its gathered force like a long-nursed rage
About to be let fly: does it do you good
To have known it in your bones, directable,
Withholdable at will,
A first blow that could make air of a wall,
A last one so unanswerably landed
The staked earth quailed and shivered in the handle?

Leithauser captures nicely what it is that I appreciate most about Heaney's poems:

His stanzas are dense echo chambers of contending nuances and ricocheting sounds. And his is the gift of saying something extraordinary while, line by line, conveying a sense that this is something an ordinary person might actually say.

We Are So Fucked

George Bush's Greatest Hits

Apparently, Rep. Steve King (Idiot-Iowa) Is Batshit Insane

From The Hill we learn that:

Steve King equates immigrants to livestock

It was prop time on the House floor Tuesday night when Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), making the case for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, showed a miniature version of a border wall that he “designed.”

He had mock sand representing the desert as well as fake construction panels as C-SPAN focused in on the unusual display.

But it got really interesting when King broke out the mock electrical wiring: “I also say we need to do a few other things on top of that wall, and one of them being to put a little bit of wire on top here to provide a disincentive for people to climb over the top.”

He added, “We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time.”

King spokeswoman Summer Johnson disputed the notion that it was an immigrant-livestock comparison, saying, “He was comparing a fence to a fence — a border fence to an Iowa farm fence.”

The outspoken proponent of border security, however, did not mention an Iowa farm fence during his show-and-tell performance.

I bet the Native Americans are scratching their heads: "Gee. An electric fence. Why didn't we think of that one?"

Fuck Ken Lay

The Rude Pundit weighs in on comparisons between Ken Lay, friend of presidents, and racist dragging victim James Byrd..

I couldn't have said it better myself.

But WTF was a former president doing at the funeral of a convicted felon? I'd be tempted to think that all of his campaign contributions had something to do with it, but I know that can't be the case because I remember Republicans having absolute shit fits over Clinton pardoning Marc Rich because his wife forked over campaign contributions.

Fuck Ken Lay. And fuck the Bush junta that he financed into power.

And, Jeffy? You won't get off so easily.

Friday, July 14, 2006

In My Name. With My Tax Dollars.

This certainly isn't surprising and if it wasn't part of the motivation, it's certainly lagniappe as far as assholes of the Bush junta are concerned. Remember when Bush and Laura got all mush-mouthed about how terribly women were treated by the Taliban in Afghanistan and about those rape rooms that Saddam was running?

In a clear, carefully-documented, and well written article by Ruth Rosen Mother Jones reports that, "Since the American invasion of their country, Iraqi women have suffered a marked increase in sexual terrorism." The article explains that, "the invasion and occupation of Iraq has had the effect of humiliating, endangering, and repressing Iraqi women in ways that have not been widely publicized in the mainstream media: As detainees in prisons run by Americans, they have been sexually abused and raped; as civilians, they have been kidnapped, raped, and then sometimes sold for prostitution; and as women -- and, in particular, as among the more liberated women in the Arab world -- they have increasingly disappeared from public life, many becoming shut-ins in their own homes."

Asserting that women have been detained in, and raped at, Abu Ghraib, Mother Jones says, "Writing from Baghdad, Luke Hardin of the Guardian reported that at Abu Ghraib journalists have been forbidden from talking to female detainees, who are cloistered in tiny windowless cells. Senior US military officers who have escorted journalists around Abu Ghraib, however, have admitted that rapes of women took place in the cellblock where 19 "high-value" male detainees were also being held. Asked how such abuse could have happened, Colonel Dave Quantock, now in charge of the prison's detention facilities, responded, "I don't know. It's all about leadership. Apparently it wasn't there."

No one should be surprised that women detainees, like male ones, were subjected to sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib. Think of the photographs we've already seen from that prison. If acts of ritual humiliation could be used to "soften up" men, then the rape of female detainees is hardly unimaginable."
I'm afraid that final sentence has the ring of absolute truth to it. I wonder if those pictures that the Senators saw -- the ones that have never been released -- depicted the rape of female prisoners?

However, girls and women outside of Abu Ghraib have been subject to horrific treatment as well. "After the American invasion, local gangs began roaming Baghdad, snatching girls and women from the street. Interviews with human rights investigators have produced some horrifying stories. Typical was nine-year-old "Saba A." who was abducted from the stairs of the building where she lives, taken to an abandoned building nearby, and raped. A family friend who saw Saba A. immediately following the rape told Human Rights Watch:

"She was sitting on the stairs, here, at 4:00 p.m. It seems to me that probably he hit her on the back of the head with a gun and then took her to [a neighboring] building. She came back fifteen minutes later, bleeding [from the vaginal area]. [She was still bleeding two days later, so] we took her to the hospital."
The medical report by the U.S. military doctor who treated Saba A. "documented bruising in the vaginal area, a posterior vaginal tear, and a broken hymen.'

In 2005, Amnesty International also interviewed abducted women. The story of "Asma," a young engineer, was representative. She was shopping with her mother, sister, and a male relative when six armed men forced her into a car and drove her to a farmhouse outside the city. They repeatedly raped her. A day later, the men drove her to her neighborhood and pushed her out of the car."

And, of course, "Disappearing women

To avoid such dangers, countless Iraqi women have become shut-ins in their own homes. Historian Marjorie Lasky has described this situation in "Iraqi Women Under Siege," a 2006 report for Codepink, an anti-war women's organization. Before the war, she points out, many educated Iraqi women participated fully in the work force and in public life. Now, many of them rarely go out. They fear kidnap and rape; they are terrified of getting caught in the cross-fire between Americans and insurgents; they are frightened by sectarian reprisals; and they are scared of Islamic militants who intimidate or beat them if they are not "properly covered."

"In the British-occupied south," Terri Judd reported in the British Independent,"where Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi's Army retains a stranglehold, women insist the situation is at its worst. Here they are forced to live behind closed doors only to emerge, concealed behind scarves, hidden behind husbands and fathers. Even wearing a pair of trousers is considered an act of defiance, punishable by death."

Invisible women -- for some Iraqi fundamentalist Islamic leaders, this is a dream come true. "

Thanks a lot Bush. Thanks, Rummy. Thanks. You'd better hope karma's a myth.

Texas Abortions Could Lead To Death Penalty.

The Star Telegram reports that, in Texas, performing an illegal abortion may be grounds for -- you guessed it -- the death penalty. An illegal abortion in Texas would include a later-term abortion or an abortion for a minor whose parents have not consented to the abortion. State Rep. Charlie Geren said this isn't a controversy he is going to worry about. "If they're performing illegal abortions, it's not a concern of mine what happens," said Geren, R-Fort Worth. "I don't think anyone shold perform illegal abortions. If they do, they should face punishment.

Culture of life my sweet round ass.


Much more fun than modesty

Aw, Shit, Robin. This Was A Dumb Article To Start With And Your Inability To Write Only Made It Worse.

I recently ragged on Robin Givhan and here's a good example of why. First, WTF? Why give these creepazoids publicity? There's a lot going on in fashion. This shit is definitely NOT newsworth.

Second, she can't quite bring herself to admit that these are right-wing, whack-job, anti-woman, patriarchial fundies. Third, this article wanders all the fuck over the place and only finally, finally, at the very end, winds up anywhere at all.

In a just world, the world that I was "supposed" to be born into, I'd get to spend far more of my time on fashion and far less of it on Social Security reform, pollution, and corrupt government. Three words: Moon in Taurus.

But, really, fashion writing, just like any kind of writing, can be good or bad. D.C. happens to be cursed with a fashion writer who really can't write.

Anyway, here are the money quotes from this poorly-written half-hype, half-pan of an article:

*A person has to have strong convictions "to wear our suits," she says. If you have those convictions, "you're not going to care about the liberation." No shit.

*"I'm very surprised at the men who call because they don't want their wives and daughters running around in their underwear," Ferguson says. Surprised? No, you're not surprised. That's your fucking business plan, you partiarchial pawn.

*A woman swaddled in WholesomeWear's knee-length nylon would stand out. Not just because she's covered up but because she's done it in such an unattractive way. Perhaps she is modest or religious or simply someone who really needs to get over the fact she doesn't have legs like Naomi Campbell. [Please, Robin! You and I both know that's not who buys this shit!!! WTF?] But in looking at all that camouflaging fabric, at the layers aimed at obscuring the physique, one wonders how a swimsuit "ministry" can save anyone's soul when such ungainly suits have so little appreciation for beauty.

Took Robin all those words to say that?

Hey! Remember How All Those Right Wing Bloggers Called The NYT Traitors For Publishing Info About Bush's Domestic Spying?

WaPo reports that: New York Times investigates envelope with powder

By Mark Egan
Friday, July 14, 2006; 3:05 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Times said on Friday it had received in its mailroom an envelope containing white powder, raising fears of a possible recurrence of anthrax-tainted letters sent to newsrooms and other offices in late 2001.

"At about 12:30 p.m. (1630 GMT) this afternoon ... an employee opened an envelope that contained a white powdery substance. The envelope was handwritten and addressed to the New York Times, not to any individual. The postmark was from Philadelphia with no return address," said Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis.

. . .

The incident contributed to U.S. stocks extending their losses.

"The level of pessimism is extreme. From bombings in India, to the escalation of violence between Israel and Lebanon and now white powder sent to The New York Times - it all adds to the negative sentiment," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York.

Oh Yeah. This Is Where I'd Want My Old-Age Security To Be Invested. Not.

MarketWatch is reporting that the stock market is in the shitter.

Wall Street roiled by Middle East conflict
Crude spikes to highs; consumer sentiment weakens; retail sales fall

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks tumbled Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 100 points for a third session, as Israel intensified its offensive in Lebanon.

Weak retail sales and consumer-sentiment data as well as some disappointment over General Electric Co's results added to negative sentiment. Stock losses mounted as Israel pressed its advantage in Lebanon, with reports of air strikes targeting a Hezbollah radio station.

"I don't think the market, without the Middle East, would have sprung back to new highs," said Steve Goldman, chief market strategist at Weeden & Co. "We would have spent much of the time backing and filling, and I think the trends in the Middle East added to this acceleration of a downtrend. Now, we're going to have spend some time trying to form a base once again."

On the broader market for equities, decliners outpaced advancers by around 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. By sector, airlines continued to reel from the higher oil prices. Internet stocks, computer hardware stocks and transportation companiesall moved lower. . . . Oil services also pulled back.
. . .
Crude-oil futures struck a record above $78 a barrel in overnight trading, propelled higher as Israel stepped up its offensive against Lebanon, bombing the Beirut airport for a second day, as well as roads, power and communications infrastructure.

Strangely, only a few short months ago, our president was pushing a plan that would have placed the old-age security of millions of Americans into the stock market. He and his echo chamber did a great job of "catapulting the propaganda" that suggested that it was actually better for Americans to have their old-age security invested in the stock market than in, for example, the current Social Security system. And, Fox News reports that Congressional Republicans plan to make "privatization" a top priority in 2007. It's funny how they shut up about this stuff during election seasons (Anyone remember Bush making a big deal about it in the run-up to the 2004 election? Me either.) and then, as soon as the election's over, it's a "top priority" for them.

Some bright, enterprising Democrat might want to use today's stock market results to point out just how wrong Bush was.


Maryland Dems show how it's done.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fête Nationale! Happy Bastille Day!

Wikipedia tells us that, On 5 May 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General to hear their grievances. The deputies of the Third Estate representing the common people (the two others were clergy and nobility) decided to break away and form a National Assembly.

On 20 June the deputies of the Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath (named after the hall where they had gathered which was frequently used for playing "jeu de paume", an ancestor of tennis), swearing not to separate until a Constitution had been established. To show their support, the people of Paris stormed the Bastille, a prison where people were jailed by arbitrary decision of the King (lettre de cachet). The Bastille was, in particular, known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government. Thus the Bastille was a symbol of the absolutism of the monarchy.

Hmm. "a prison were people were jailed by arbitrary decision of the King." Sounds familiar for some reason.

In France, they had a riot over that. I'm just sayin'.

The First Amendment And What It's Good For

Via Corrente Wire comes a video explaining how to live in a democracy. From Freeway Blogger, of course. How come he's the only one doing this? It's called patriotism.

Free Advice From An Old Witch

Hey, Veterans' Administration, let me give you some free advice. You got to know when to fold 'em. When you lose The Virginian-Pilot, you've lost.

The PIlot says, Wicca is a fast-growing religion, recognized by the IRS and the Pentagon, but in the nine years its pentacle has been under review by the VA, symbols for 11 other faiths have been approved, The Post reported.

“I really have no idea why it has taken so long,” a VA spokeswoman told The Post.

Neither do we. Perhaps it’s because some folks wrongly confuse Wicca with Satanism. In any case, the government has no business deciding which symbols it will allow and which it won’t, especially at a time when we’re fighting a war that much of the world sees as religious.

Approving the Wiccan pentacle immediately will show Americans of all religions, not to mention the world, that the VA isn’t in the business of playing favorites with faiths.

Really, guys. It's time to quietly approve the Pentacle for the memorial markers of Wiccan service men and women, declare that's what you were planning to do all along, and hope that people will turn their attention elsewhere.

Trust me.

Great Minds Traveling In The Same Direction

Media Matters for America (MMA) has a thorough look at the hit piece that the WaPo did on Hillary Clinton and wonders where the comparable piece on Republican front-runner (and male) John McCain might be. I'll only note that I blogged this before MMA did.

MMA notes that, A month and a half after a Washington Post/ABC News poll found that possible 2008 presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) had a 54 percent favorability rating; that 57 percent of respondents would definitely vote for her or consider voting for her in 2008; and that strong majorities of Americans find her to be a "strong leader," "an open and friendly person," and "honest and trustworthy," the Post ran a front-page July 13 article that purported to look "[b]eneath these positives" and sought out Democrats and independents expressing the "evidence of unease" surrounding Clinton found in that poll. In the same poll, respondents were asked about their views of another possible 2008 presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who had a nearly identical favorability rating to Clinton's -- 55 percent. Media Matters for America asks: Will the Post also seek out Republicans and independents expressing unease about McCain?

As Media Matters for America noted when the May 11-15 poll on the favorability of Sen. Clinton was released, Post staff writer Dan Balz wrote: "Hillary Clinton has a populist streak that sometimes takes on an angry edge, in contrast to her husband." However, Balz offered no evidence or documentation to support this assertion. In fact, the poll indicated that strong majorities of Americans do not view Clinton as "angry" -- 67 percent of respondents did not think Clinton "seems to be an angry person," and 58 percent considered her "an open and friendly person." Balz also failed to mention Clinton's 54 percent overall favorability rating.

MMA also points out that Moreover, the May 11-15 poll cited by the Post also asked for the public's view of McCain, another presumptive 2008 presidential candidate. According to the poll, McCain and Clinton had almost identical favorability ratings (Clinton's 54 percent compared to McCain's 55 percent).

MMA also explains that, One of the Clinton critics was quoted as saying he was "bothered" by 15-year-old reports that Clinton "was verbally abusive to employees." The Post could investigate how Republican voters react to reports of McCain's quick temper and poor treatment of colleagues. On December 13, 1999, the Boston Globe's Walter Robinson reported:

But here in Arizona, some prominent Republicans echo the concerns of the former Democratic mayor. Recent public notice about McCain's temper, they believe, has obscured a larger issue voters ought to ponder when they measure him against the demands of the Oval Office: It is not so much the temper, they say, but what prompts him to lose it: His frequent unwillingness to accommodate dissenting views, even those of average citizens; his sometimes bullying insistence that other politicians do his bidding; and his tendency to treat those who disagree with him as disloyal.


But even some of McCain's supporters, among them politicians whose endorsement of his candidacy is prompted in part by fear of his temper, say they wish the underlying discontent could be so simply explained away.

MMA doesn't metion, but I will, that since Clinton's spouse's marital missteps are apparently grist for the mill, one wonders where the reports focusing on the fact that McCain's wife stole money from the children's relief agency she ran in order to feed her addiction to painkillers might be. McCain, himself barely missed losing his seat due to his involvement in the savings and loan scandal. Surely that's worth as many mentions as Whitewater, in which, let's remember no wrongdoing was ever found.

So, WaPo, what about it? Where's the hit piece on McCain? This is your second hit piece on Senator Clinton in several months.

We Vote Red. We Soon Dead.

Poetry Magazine's featured poet made me smile:

We Old Dudes
by Joan Murray

We old dudes. We
White shoes. We

Golf ball. We
Eat mall. We

Soak teeth. We
Palm Beach; We

Vote red. We
Soon dead.

What's The Thirstiest You've Ever Been? Just Askin'.

The Environmental News Network (ENN) has a story about what's happening to our water supplies. No, you won't hear about this on CNN or ABC. They're too busy discussing American Idol and which brand of BBQ sauce is best for Your! Summer! Cookout! Notwithstanind the absolute primacy of such fascintating information, you may want to be aware that: According to United Nations reports, in the past 70 years, the world’s population has tripled. During that time, global water use has increased six-fold. This huge increase in water demand means in many parts of the world the well has already run dry.

By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may be subject to moderate to high water stress. By 2050, 4 billion people may have less than the 50 liters of water per day considered necessary by the U.N. to meet basic drinking, sanitation, and cooking needs.

Let me repeat that. By 2025, two-thirds of the wold'spopulation may not have enough water. This is 2006. 2025 is, the way that Sister Mary Michael taught me to do arithmetic, only 19 years away. I'm fifty. That means that if, as many American women, I live to be 69, I'll live in that world. It means that my grandson will be entering college in that water-stressed world. How old will you be in 2025? How old will your children be?

Think that the people living in the parts of the world even now running dry are going to stay quietly in place and die of thirst? Me, either.

One final note. Guess what business Enron was buying into in the months before it went bankrupt??? Electricity? Nope. Broadband?? Nope. Guess again. Water. Private ownership of the world's water supplies and the opportunity to commoditize it. Think Enron was the only company with this notion and that now that Enron's gone bankrupt no one else will try such a thing? Me, either.

The Green, Green Grass Of Home

Interesting discussion in NYT about that most beleagured of gardening practices, the lawn. By now, everyone knows the drill. Lawns use a lot of water; lawns require a lot of pesticides and herbicides; lawns need to be cut, often by machines that burn gasoline even less efficiently than cars, etc.

And, it's all true.

I've certainly got no beef with other uses for the space, especially when they are attractive and imaginative, as many lawn alternatives can be. My little section of the world -- northeastern Arlington, VA -- is especially hilly and lots of people who don't care to mow steep hills have found lovely ways to terrace them and plant everything from ivy to hydrangeas, to horizontally-habituated pines, to ornamental grasses.

But I'll admit that I like lawns. Lawns look lovely when just mowed, dappled with early-morning shade and glistening with dew. Lawns are soft and a lovely gift to walk barefoot on (pace, Strangers in a Strange Land). Lawns are great for children to play on. I will admit that I wish that less of my yard were front yard (the more traditional place for lawns) and that more of it were backyard (the more traditional place of other yard uses, such as, oh, for me anyway, herb beds). But I'm not going to move my house and I have the front yard that was laid out in the early fifties when my home was built.

I suppose that I might seriously reconsider if I lived in Arizona or another desert state, but, for now, I still kind of like my lawn.


Today's EEI newsletter reports that:

Newsweek Tackles Growth, Trends in Corporate Movement to 'Go Green'

Newsweek tackled the phenomenon that America is in love with the green movement – at a certain level – and it is growing, with companies as diverse as FedEx and Wal-Mart increasingly playing the central role in turning business on to the advantages, and fiscal savings, associated with being environmentally conscious.

For example, in Texas, Austin's municipal utility has turned to wind power for 6 percent of its 2006 generation, with that figure expected to be 11 percent in 2008. Newsweek observed that "last fall, when rising natural-gas prices meant that conventional customers were paying more" for their power than customers using wind power, "the company was overwhelmed with new converts to sustainable power."

Wrote Newsweek: "Looked at one way, these are thrilling times, the beginning of a technological and social revolution that could vault our society into a post-post-industrial future. 'If you mention green tech or biotech in a presentation,' says [Ray] Lane, the venture capitalist, 'you'll get your funding before you get to your third slide.' On the other hand, we may just be kidding ourselves. Can bicycles and switch grass really offset the effects--in pollution, resource depletion and habitat destruction--of a billion Chinese lining up to buy cars for the first time?"
Newsweek , July 17.

As is often the case, Newsweek gets things half-right. Of course population control is ultimately going to have to be part of the environmental solution. Of course, gasoline-burning cars are going to have to be entirely eliminated over time. And, of course, it's going to take more than just wind power to save the globe. But stupid assertions that "we may just be kidding ourselves" and throw-up-your-hands scenarios that pit bicycles against billions of new cars only encourae people to go on doing what they've been doing rather than setting in place a few key changes that can lead to even more changes down the road.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

May The Goddess Guard Her. May She Find Her Way to the Summerlands. May her Friends and Family Know Peace

The glorious thing about ballet is that, without notation or text, it is handed down from generation to generation through the bodies and character of those who went before.

Au revoir, Mary Day, founder of the Washington Ballet.

I'm A Man After All. As If That Explains Patriarchy's Insanity

I should be used to it after fifty years of living in the patriarchy, but, somehow, I'm not. Somehow, I'm still surprised and amazed when men imagine that the sexual activities of their female relatives somehow reflect badly on them or require them to be violent to other men.

I'm not a huge sports fan, but this Sunday, Son and D-i-L, who are major sports fans, were over at my place -- along with the World's Most Gorgeous Grandson, and we wound up in front of my tv watching the World Cup soccer game between France and Italy. So I got to see this very popular French soccer player head-butt an Italian player who clearly said something meant to be provocative. Now, WaPo reports that, "He said some very harsh words, which he repeated several times," Zidane continued. "Words that were several times harsher than acts. They were words that touch the innermost parts of me. Very personal things, my mother, my sister. . . . "I am a man after all," Zidane said. "I would have rather received a punch in my face than to have to hear that."

"I am a man after all." There it is. I just don't get it.

Dude. One, it's just trash talk; no one imagines that it's true or that he even believes that it's true. But that's not the point. The point is that patriarchy perpetuates this completely weird notion that if anyone even suggests that a woman is a sexual being that it's an attack on her male relative. Dude. If the words were about your sister's sexuality, trust me, they don't "touch the innermost parts of" you at all.

"I am a man after all."

This nonsense has got to stop. If it were simply a tragic sports story, well, who would care? But this is the same kind of thinking that results in "honor killings," and the use of rape as a weapon of war. This nonsense has got to stop.

But She Kept Changing Her Hairstyle! (AKA Why I Am Going To Go Postal)

The WaPo weighs in with another hit piece on Hillary,complete with the notion that she insulted women who "stay at home and bake cookies."

The article is nothing but a mishmash of random negative comments ranging from "men don't like her," to "she's [unlike every other politician on the planet] too packaged."

You can like Hil (I do) or hate her. You can disagree with some of the stances she's taken (I do), or agree with every word she's ever said. But could we PLEASE drop the double standard for female politicans?

Where's the piece on McCain that talks about his legendary bad temper, his broken marriage and his wife's drug issues? That mentions his weird jowls and how voters really don't know much about him except what they've heard in the media which is that he's "independent"? And, while we're at it, Laura Bush had plastic surgery before the 2004 election. Where's the story on how she "changed her looks"??

Don't make me bring out the flying monkeys.

The Smaller Shoulder Line Of Tiny Cap-Sleeved Tunics

The NYT, with all it's faults, and they are legion, is one of the few newspapers that has people who can WRITE about fasion:

As if aware that Chanel's privileged clients can lend a musty scent of rosewater to couture, Mr. Lagerfeld seems determined to make the clothes connect with the pace of modern life. In this exceptional show, hemlines were several inches above the knees, with a breezy sense of proportion, as if he imagined all the day looks moving briskly along an urban sidewalk. A fuzzy caterpillar of yarn traced the edges of a trim tweed suit, but on the whole decoration was kept to a minimum. The focus was on the almost sculptural fit of jackets, and the smaller shoulder line of tiny cap-sleeved tunics. To make the body seem even smaller, Mr. Lagerfeld had sleeves built out just slightly in the upper part of the arm and then narrowed toward the wrist.

Robin Givhan wishes.


BBC reports that:

Scientists have shed new light on how spiders can travel epic distances by dangling on strands of floating silk.
A team from Rothamsted Research, UK, has updated a mathematical model describing this remarkable arachnid phenomenon, known as "ballooning".

It claims the revision gives a more realistic explanation of what actually happens to spiders in flight.

The new model shows how turbulent air can propel the creatures much further - even hundreds of kilometres out to sea.

"By making some modifications we've solved something that's flummoxed scientists for 200 years," said Rothamsted's Dr Dave Bohan.

"The previous model could explain spiders going up to 200m; what it couldn't do was explain why, for example, Charles Darwin on his ship, The Beagle, more than 100km off the coast of South America, could watch ballooning spiders," he told BBC News.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What Hillary Actually Said.

The Cincinnnatti Enquirer reports that Hillary Clinton went to Ohio to give a speech concerning election fraud. U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton took a shot at Secretary of State Ken Blackwell of Cincinnati, the Republican candidate for governor, Monday during her third visit to Ohio this year.

Speaking to more than 3,000 people at a national conference of ACORN - the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - Clinton prompted whoops and hollers by saying, "Let's make sure that we count every vote in our elections.''

. . .

Referring to presidential races, Clinton said, "This country deserves to have an electoral system that has integrity. I know there's been a problem here in Ohio, and I hope everybody from Ohio is watching this election like a hawk. Don't let them pull anything over your eyes again.''

Without naming Blackwell, Clinton said, "One of the people running for high office is actually running the election. That should not be permitted. It's a conflict of interest. ... We've got to take back our democracy.''

In light of breaking reports that Republican officials took Diebold machines home with them the night before California's recent special election, Clinton's remarks were especially timely. I'm glad to see Clinton speaking out about this issue. IMHO, establishment Dems like Clinton have given this issue too little attention. Peter Daou can correct me if I'm mistaken, but I don't know of any legislation that Clinton has introduced on this vital subject. Nonetheless, she's to be congratulated for going to the center of the problem and speaking out strongly.

Clinton also continued to call for a raise to the minimum wage.

PS Thanks to Anonymous for correcting me and good on Hil. In comments, A. notes that, "A wide-ranging bill that, among other things, would mandate a voter-verified paper ballot for every vote cast in electronic voting machines has been introduced by Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The Count Every Vote Act, they said, is needed to address shortcomings related to existing e-voting technology.

The legislation, co-sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) and introduced earlier this month, would also ensure access to voter verification for all citizens, including non-English-speaking voters, illiterate voters and voters with disabilities."

John Walker Lindh

Esquire, of all things, gets a shout out from The Revealer for this article on John Walker Lindh. You really need to go read the whole thing. Here are a few excepts:

*Even after the Justice Department offered a plea bargain in July 2002 and dropped eight of the ten charges against him, even after prosecutors finally admitted that there was no evidence that he had joined Al Qaeda or threatened to kill Americans, even after he wound up pleading guilty only to carrying a rifle and grenades for the Taliban, the government and its negotiator, Michael Chertoff, made his silence a condition of the plea.

*He would spend, instead, twenty years in jail, and during that time not only would he be unable to have any visitors but his attorneys and his father and his mother and his brother and his sister and his grandmother; not only would his visitors be forbidden to relate to the public anything he said or thought; not only would the FBI have to read and clear any letter he sent or received and the government reserve the right to bug his conversations with his cellmates and monitor his phone calls. No, he would also have to abide by the following provision of the SAM: "All communications with others will be in English."

*And so the zealous guard reports that zealous prisoner 45426-083 has spoken words in the forbidden tongue. And when prisoner 45426-083 returns to his cell, he is ordered to back up to the feeding slot in his cell door. He is handcuffed through the slot and led away to the Special Housing Unit—also known as the SHU, also known as the hole. There he has to strip naked and is searched under his testicles and in the cavity of his ass. And there Hamza settles into his cell, with the Arabic singing in his head, where no one can stop it.

*When no less successful a parent than George Herbert Walker Bush was lampooning John Walker Lindh for being a "misguided Marin County hot-tubber," Frank Lindh was being lampooned for actually raising his son in a place like Marin County, and then for divorcing his wife, Marilyn Walker, and living with a man.

* "A Christian guard—a good, decent man—told me something one day," says Shakeel Syed. "He said, 'Some of us try to provoke him once in a while. We try to make him mad.' Then he said, 'We fail miserably.'

Goddess knows, I was no fan of the Taliban's for years and years before it became the American Way to be mad at the Taliban. But would someone explain to me why the United States of America continues to act as if it means to ape every single one of the Taliban's faults?

Why Our Troops Are Really Dying

Freeway Blogger, who, IMHO, is one of this century's great patriots, has a fantastic idea. Go to Freeway's site right now, print these out, and carry them with you to put in the windshields of SUVs. I'll be leaving a few underneath charged stones at gas stations from now on, as well.

Wednesday Democracy Blogging


Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Is a strong seed
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

Langston Hughes
Three Minutes That Will Lower Your Blood Pressure, Decrease The Inflamation In Your Veins, Restore Your Breathing, And Provide Balance

And some hollyhocks, halfway through, every bit as nice as mine.

MidWeek Quote Blogging

Every day I have to go read Miniver Cheevy because he says such interesting things. Today he quotes someone I've never heard of, "arcology advocate and all-around mad architecture genius Paolo Soleri."

Soleri says, "Life is too magnificent, anguished and noble to be prey of a theocratic, technocratic empire idolatry. The immense reservoir of good will and excellence stored in the American people cannot, must not be wasted in a run into well padded triviality."

Damn. I wish I'd said that.

The Church Has Refused To Make Public Names Of Clerics Who Cooperated With Communist Services

WaPo is reporting that:

Leading Polish Priest Admits Spying for Communists
Tuesday, July 11, 2006; 6:04 AM

WARSAW (Reuters) - A leading Catholic priest in Poland, where the late Polish Pope John Paul II championed resistance under communism, said on Tuesday he had for 24 years spied on dissidents and clerics for communist secret services.

Allegations against Michal Czajkowski, a respected figure known for his work on Catholic-Jewish relations, were first published by a newspaper in May. But the priest had rejected them until now.

"I want to apologize and ask for forgiveness, especially for those whom I have hurt. There is no doubt about my guilt," Czajkowski wrote in a statement.

"I have already expressed my regret toward God. Now I am doing it toward people."

Czajkowski, an associate of John Paul who was succeeded last year by Pope Benedict, was a willing agent who reported about pro-democratic activities of his fellow clerics, according to the National Remembrance Institute, which oversees communist-era files.

Czajkowski's past is an embarrassment for a Polish church still coming to terms with the full role it played under communism.

The church supported the pro-democracy Solidarity movement, but up to 10 percent of its members may have at the same time cooperated with communist authorities, historians say.

The church has refused to make public names of clerics who cooperated with communist services.

John Paul's first visit as Pope to then-communist Poland in 1979 drew millions onto the streets and inspired Poles to challenge their communist rulers.

He was widely seen as a major influence behind the rise a year later of Solidarity, which won power in 1989 and helped bring about the fall of communism in the entire Soviet bloc.

Anyone who imagines that the catholic church is about ANYTHING other than the power, wealth, and security of the catholic church, and it's anti-woman agenda, is so amazingly naive that I'm surprised they're allowed to have credit cards or sign documents. Note that this isn't some random village priest. This was an associate of the former pope who waited until that pope was dead to come forward. I think we can all figure this one out. There are never so few sides that the catholics can't play all of them against the middle.

I hate these motherfuckers.

There It Is Again. The Word "Pagan" Used As A Slur.

The Wild Hunt has a great roundup of news of interest to Pagans. I found this particularly troubling, but not for the usual reason:

Finally, we take a trip through the looking glass with conservative writer Fred Hutchison. Hutchison warns us which forces are truly responsible for the bondage and oppression of women.

"The sexual revolution is quickly unraveling the sexual respect for women that was developed in the Christian West over many centuries. As the culture becomes more pagan and more sexually unrestrained, sexual respect is evaporating and a fall in the status of women cannot be far behind. This iron law of human nature will become more clear as we consider the harem culture introduced by the Playboy philosophy."

Damn you Paganistic sexual revolution!!! Don't you realize how much freedom women enjoyed under the bulk of Christian history?

You really need to head over to The Wild Hunt and see the post with all the links.

Lately, xians have, more and more often, been branding anything they don't like as "Pagan." Well, they don't capitalize it, but then, I won't capitalize "xian," so we're even. But over the past few months, we've seen a rising crescendo of xian writers screaming about the dangers of "Paganism." Getting scared, boys? Good. You should be.

And, yeah, Fred. I've noticed how women were treated in Pagan cultures that worshipped the female as divine and how they were treated in the xian west. "Respect" -- I don't think that word means what you think it means.

If You're In NY, You Must Go See My Brilliant Friend Amy

The Baskethouse Acoustic Folk Series
at the Bitter End
Wednesday, July 12th


147 Bleecker St. btw. Thompson and Laguardia
2 blocks south of Washington Square Park

Great performers this week as usual. Check it out, we have:

Amy Clarke

Amy's a wicked piano player and a fantastic songwriter. She's got a bit of magic in her and a little bird told me about some great covers she'll be bringing out, so don't miss this!

Check out Amy's website: or on myspace:

P.S. In the top picture, you can just see the back of my blonde head at Amy's recent show in D.C. Thanks to the photographer for capturing my better side!

Monday, July 10, 2006

VA Governor Pardons Convicted Witch

Damn! I am SO glad that I voted for Tim Kaine. I'll admit that Kaine's xian shtick didn't exactly wow me, although I certainly preferred him to his Republican challenger. But this news makes me very happy that I voted for him.

ABC News reports that:

It took 300 years, but Virginia's only convicted witch has finally been pardoned.

State Gov. Timothy M. Kaine was asked to exonerate Grace Sherwood, who was tried by water and accused of using her powers to cause a woman to miscarry. On Monday, the 300th anniversary of Sherwood's "ducking" trial, Kaine obliged.

"I am pleased to officially restore the good name of Grace Sherwood," Kaine said in a letter that was read aloud by Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf before a local re-enactment of the ducking.

"With 300 years of hindsight, we all certainly can agree that trial by water is an injustice," Kaine wrote. [Yeah, Tim. And any kind of trial to find someone guilty of practicing a non-xian religion is, with 300 years of hindsight, an injustice. Just sayin'.]

On July 10, 1706, Sherwood's thumbs were tied to her toes and she was dropped into a river. She floated, proof that she was guilty because the pure water cast out her evil spirit, according to the belief system of the time.

Each year, a small group remembers Sherwood with a re-enactment. Monday's re-enactment took place on land in front of the Ferry Plantation House, a historic home.

Sherwood lived in what today is the rural Pungo neighborhood and she is known as "The Witch of Pungo." She went to court a dozen times, either to fight witchcraft charges or to sue her accusers for slander. In her final case, she was tried for using witchcraft to cause a woman to miscarry.

What happened to Sherwood after she was convicted is unclear. Some court records may have been lost to fire.

She may have been jailed until 1714, when records show she paid back taxes on her property, Ferry Plantation House director Belinda Nash said. She then lived quietly until her death at 80.

It may be difficult for people who are not witches to understand why things like this matter so much to modern witches. It's likely that Ms. Sherwood wasn't even a witch. But what a perverted way to "try" someone. Anyway, thanks, Mr. Kaine. You didn't have to do this, but I'm grateful that you did. I live in Virginia and I vote.


NYT reports that: Across State, G.O.P. Finds Campaign Aid in Short Supply.

A six-month stretch of political fund-raising will end tomorrow for New York candidates, and the results, by all accounts, will be stark: Republicans are struggling, and in some cases competing with one another for cash.

Let's admit that the current system for financing elections completely sucks and encourages the system of corruption that we see in DC under the Bush junta. It's still encouraging to see the Republicans struggling for cash.

And Another One Bites, And Another One Bites, And Another One Bites The Dust.

BBC reports that, "Poaching has apparently driven black rhinos extinct in West Africa. The West African black rhino appears to have become extinct, according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

A mission to their last known habitat in northern Cameroon failed to find any rhinos or signs of their existence.

The sub-species has declined in recent decades due primarily to poaching, which has also brought the northern white rhino close to extinction.

In East and Southern Africa, numbers of related sub-species are rising with the use of effective protection measures.

But after two decades of warnings, the western black rhino has apparently met its final end, according to the findings of an extensive expedition by three specialists earlier this year."

Shame on us. Shame on us.

The 411

Phila notes that global warming is not, exactly, news.


I don't know why, but stuff like this just cracks my shit right up.

Thanks to Miniver Cheevy for brightening my day.

There's A Huge Cost To Doing What We're Doing

From today's EEI newsletter:

U.S. Insurers Making Systematic Responses to Climate Change
The U.S. insurance industry is creating new models for hurricane damage that consider the influence of climate change, creating a task force on climate change, and seeking help from Congress to prepare for the increased havoc wrought by natural disasters, the Hartford Courant reported.

Although European insurers have far outpaced their U.S. counterparts in addressing climate change, an April report from insurance broker Marsh warned that U.S. insurers need to address the influence of lawsuits related to climate change and future emissions limits, and expand into new green markets.

Evan Mills, an analyst at U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said "profound developments" have occurred over the last year, including studies showing that 84 percent of warming has gone into the oceans instead of the atmosphere and the seismic activity created by massive glacial movements. Mills predicted that the difficulty of discerning risk levels in a world with unstable climate conditions will significantly disrupt insurers and put "a chill on the insurance market."

Mills said paying a price for climate change is inevitable: "It's an illusion to think we have the freedom to choose about paying. You pay for the impact [of climate change] or you pay for the cost of lower emissions."
Hartford Courant , July 9.

I think the final sentence is the most important. "It's an illusion to think we have the freedom to choose" whether or not we'll have to pay for what we're doing to the environment. We can do it in the form of new technology that reduces or eliminates carbon emissions or we can do it in the form of huge lawsuits and insurance costs that result from doing nothing. But Bush and the oil companies are lying when they say that cleaning up the environment will bankrupt us. What will bankrupt us and destroy our economy is continuing to rely on oil and doing nothing about global warming.

Ann Coulter, Get Lost. Click.

The Prior sent me this from Crooks & Liars, and it's great. Someone finally hangs up on Ann Coulter, who said she was "tight" on time. (P.S. Notice, again, the Party of Responsibility. It's not Ann's fault and she lacks the grace to simply say, "I'm so sorry.")

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Lewis Black - Gay Banditos

Lewis Black is my boyfriend. Lewis Black is going to marry me, just as soon as he meets me and finds out how much I adore him. I am going to have Lewis Black's love children; I swear I am, and no minor inconvenience like menopause will stop me.

Thanks to Jennifer, at Eschaton, for the tip.


IMHO, there are a few days every summer that sort of pour out across your life just the way that honey pours out of the jar -- slow and sweet and golden.

Today was one of those days for me. I slept in until almost 9:00. I got up and ate whole wheat toast with peanut butter and -- what else -- rosemary honey -- and some watermelon. I went outside and worked for hours in the garden, coming in, finally, covered in sweat, red as a beet, and as content as a clam.

I took a shower, clean, safe, cold water that poured all over my body and in between each hair on my head, and then -- ah! -- Son and D-I-L brought Grandson over to stay with me while they went out for a bit.

I got to thinking about the hours that women spend with babies -- their children, their grandchildren, their nieces and nephews, their friends' babies, random children in airports. It's been years, and years, and years, well more than thirty years, since Son was a baby. And, yet, the rhythm never changes. It's like a song you can begin singing in the middle or a stitch that you pick back up as soon as the needle's in your hand. And, it's honey; it's time out of time. It's some of the sweetest time you ever get to spend.

Grandson is beginning to sit up and -- in a family of wordsmiths, the sweetest gift of all -- beginning to talk, sing, laugh. I told him stories about brave people, because he will need to be brave and stories about coyote, Trickster, because he will need to be creative, and about how much I love him, because all babies need -- and, of course, deserve -- to be loved.

It's funny to have spent so much time this weekend on babies. Saturday, a woman who works for me and her husband had the naming ceremony for their daughter at their temple. I'm not much on monotheists, but it was touching to see men I know from the business world wearing yalmukes and prayer shawls, to hear my associate chanting Hebrew, to watch her husband hold his daughter and gaze at her with so much adoration.

Part of me thinks it's cruel to bring babies into such a fucked up, polluted, empire-ridden world. And part of me looks, as I suppose old women have always looked at babies, and thinks, "You'll do better. You are the hope of the world. May the Goddess guard you. May the Goddess make you strong. May the Goddess allow you to see what I cannot see."

But, in the end, it's honey. It's all honey.

May it be so for you.

You Know, And I Know, That This Will Only End With Grover Face Down In a Bathtub, Jim Morrison-Style. Soon. Mother Of The Gods. Let It Be Soon.

WaPo reports that Grover Norquist and McCain are sniping at each other, wich I consider an event vigorously to be hosannaed.

"Norquist has lashed back at his critics, accusing them of dishonesty, personal vendettas and political gamesmanship. He has saved his choicest words for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose Senate Indian Affairs Committee last month stated in a report that for a small cut, Americans for Tax Reform served as a "conduit" for funds that flowed from Abramoff's clients to surreptitiously finance grass-roots lobbying campaigns.

"The idea that our friend John McCain yelling at me would hurt me misses McCain's position" among conservatives, Norquist said. "John McCain thinks he can't be president if I'm standing here saying he's got a problem with taxes."

Mark Salter, McCain's longtime aide, replied: "Obviously, Grover is not well. It would be cruel of us to respond in kind."
For now, Norquist's well-publicized financial links to Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is cooperating with prosecutors, have had little obvious impact on Norquist's prominence. Nor have they affected his signature event: the meeting every Wednesday morning at Americans for Tax Reform, where officials of conservative organizations, activists and lobbyists gather with Republican politicians to swap notes, make plans and coordinate messages. The June 28 meeting in downtown Washington was packed.

"I don't think he's lost one iota of influence in conservative circles," said Cesar Conda, a Republican lobbyist and a former top aide to Vice President Cheney.

But beneath the outward signs of normalcy, the infighting is taking a toll on Norquist's standing. Some social conservatives who have jousted with him over his more libertarian views on the regulation of television and its depictions of violence and depravity are exploiting his weakness to press their positions on Capitol Hill. Security-minded defense hawks who for years have questioned his ties to Muslim activists are resurrecting charges that Norquist has turned a blind eye to terrorist sympathizers.

Republican lawmakers who have chafed at his dogmatic position on taxes are also ready to shrug off his heavy hand. In recent interviews, a half-dozen conservative GOP lawmakers said they are consciously avoiding Norquist's meetings, and they have begun questioning the purity of an activist who has always portrayed himself as motivated by ideals, not money."

Grover Norquist needs to be starved of his ability to influence until he winds up dead in a bathtub. Shame on the Republicans for letting this sick little fuck gain so much control over them. Shame.

Sunday Akhmatova Blogging

Anna Akhmatova of Russia:


A multi-colored crowd streaked about,
and suddenly all was totally changed.
It wasn't the usual city racket.
It came from a strange land.
True, it was akin to some random claps of thunder,
but natural thunder heralds the wetness of fresh water
high clouds
to quench the thirst of fields gone dry and parched,
a messenger of blessed rain,
but this was as dry as hell must be.
My distraught perception refused
to believe it, because of the insane
suddenness with which it sounded, swelled and hit,
and how casually it came
to murder my child.

[Translation Copyright © 1993 by DanielaGioseffi. All rights reserved.]