Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Things That Make You Go...

Hmmm. So we don't enforce timetables when it comes to Iraq, because that somehow signals defeat, but we comply with timetables set by the Iraqi government.

U.S. forces ended a five-day-old military blockade of Baghdad's impoverished Sadr City section Tuesday, meeting a deadline set by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki amid tensions between U.S. and Iraqi officials and pressure from the anti-American cleric whose militia controls the sprawling Shiite slum.

Precisely at 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EST), the deadline set by Maliki, U.S. armored personnel carriers pulled away from the roadblocks. Young men in pickup trucks drove through the streets waving banners of the Mahdi Army, and drivers of other vehicles honked their horns in celebration.

Good to see Iraqization trundling right along.

Testing, Testing

Google is evil, right? And Blogger is even more screwed up since the Google buyout? Is this an accurate understanding? It locked up on me a couple of times while posting this morning, so now I'm trying out the nifty new Performancing utility that came with Firefox 2.0...

powered by performancing firefox

Dammit, Janet!

Headline in the national news section of the Daily Star this morning: N. J. Ruling for Gay Marriage Energizes GOP Base. It is time to stop using the term "base" and start calling them what they are. The revised headline, of course, should read "N. J. Ruling for Gay Marriage Energizes GOP Bigots." Or perhaps "N. J. Ruling for Gay Marriage Gets Fundie Knickers in a Twist."

Proposition 107, the ballot measure in Arizona seeking to amend the constitution to outlaw gay marriage and civil unions, is polling increasingly poorly. This is good. Governor Janet Napolitano is opposed to it. This also is good. Curiously, though, Napolitano is also opposed to gay marriage:
Napolitano has said on several occasions, including this week, that she does not support gay marriage despite opposing Prop. 107. The governor said Wednesday she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.

This is fascinating, given that I've always assumed she was a big ol' dyke herself. Other people seem to have assumed the same thing.

A reporter from the liberal New Times newspaper questioned Napolitano on Prop. 107 and her gay marriage stance at a Wednesday press conference. The questions quickly turned more aggressive, including bringing up rumors the governor is gay.

Napolitano has said on several occasions that she is not gay and said she was offended by the New Times question.

Whatever, Janet. Napolitano has been vital to moderate and liberal interests in Arizona since she's been in office, vetoing haybales of inane legislation delivered by the Republican legislature. She's stood up for gay rights in the workplace and supported domestic partner registries. Hearing the "one man, one woman" line coming out of her mouth is disheartening, unless she meant it as a veiled threat to the child-raping polygamists in Colorado City.

Not likely. Please, woman, do not put me in the position of having to vote against you for being a hypocrite. There are no other champions of reason bobbing anywhere in sight in the gubernatorial pool.

Equally puzzling ("puzzling" here meaning "spurring me to bang my head on the table") was the Daily Star's Prop 107 summary, published Saturday:

Real-World Impact: The amendment would block "activist judges" or the Legislature from changing the law to redefine marriage, which backers say must be preserved as a traditional institution. Critics say same-sex marriage already is illegal in Arizona, and the move mostly punishes straight couples by denying them domestic-partner benefits. Gay and lesbian activists also say it would be a blow to them.

Just love it that gay folk--you know, the people the measure was written specifically to hurt--are mentioned as an afterthought, as a footnote. Granted, if demographics are the sole basis of the argument, then the move does indeed "mostly punish straight couples," simply because unmarried straight couples outnumber gay couples by about 10 to 1 in Arizona (taken with the obligatory grain of salt required by self-reported census numbers). This argument is mitigated, however, by the fact that unmarried straight couples truly are in a voluntary situation. I recognize that some of those couples are senior citizens attempting to preserve Social Security and pension benefits from deceased spouses, or non-seniors attempting to shield their new partner's income and assets from a vindictive alimony-seeking ex-spouse, but these exceptional circumstances certainly do not apply to all 115,700 straight couples in the state.

And--regardless of the reasons these people have for not marrying--if a civil union ban is passed and the unmarried couple relies on domestic partner benefits for health coverage, they do still have the option of traipsing to the courthouse, plunking down fifty bucks, and bingo, having their relationship recognized by the state, no questions asked. In that regard, the bulk of the punishment falls squarely as intended: on the backs of gay and lesbian couples who will have no recourse when their partner benefits are taken away.

Given that, the recent No on 107 flyer that landed in my mailbox last week was more than a little disingenuous. Pictures of two straight couples, one 30-ish, one 80-ish, were prominently featured. No pictures of same-sex couples, no mention of us at all save for the statement that gay marriage is already prohibited by statute. The focus was on straight couples.

I wish the people fighting for us were actually fighting for us on principle, not just because they had the potential to be hurt themselves. You know, that old thing about injustice anywhere meaning injustice everywhere, or whatsoever you do to the least of these? That thing? Yeah, it would be nice.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Oh, the pain of parenthood. The Boy played in an essentially meaningless tournament this weekend, one his team entered mainly as an end-of-season exercise to stay sharp for the high school tryouts that start tonight. They cruised through the first two rounds, and then went to championship match against a team they'd dismantled 6-0 the night before. Naturally, that game went through regulation and two overtimes as a tie and came down to the dreaded Kicks From The Mark. The first four kicks put The Boy's team up 4-3. The fifth opponent scored, tying it. The fifth kicker from The Boy's team missed, meaning the remaining kicks would be sudden death. The opponent's sixth shot scored, meaning The Boy's team's sixth kicker had to score or they lost. The Boy was the sixth kicker... and the keeper saved his shot, sending The Boy to the ground in tears and The Boy's mom holding her head and thinking, oh no, what the hell do I do now?

None of the usual platitudes (if the entire team had played better it never would have come to penalties, if your fifth man had scored you would have won, it's not your fault) matter when you're the one who stepped up as your team's last hope and put the ball into the keeper's hands instead of into the back of the net.

He is 14, tall and hairy. The moments reminding me that he's still a little boy in some ways get more and more poignant the older he gets.

Sigh. Where's that magic wand or whatever it was I had years ago that could make bad things disappear in a poof of giggles?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The high court of New Jersey ruled today that same-sex couples must be treated equally under the law as married hets, although it's up to the state legislature whether to call such arrangements marriages, civil unions, or, perhaps, mulligatawny. I mean, it's just a word, right? If the underlying rights are equal I'm willing to cede "marriage" to the straights on their fifth husbands--all in the interest of preserving the sanctity of the institution, of course--and accept whatever term legislatures want to attach to our unions.

In my perfect world, everyone who officially couples up would get a civil union. Then if you wish to have your civil contract solemnized in the religious tradition of your choice, you're free to do so and appropriate the word "married" as your own.

Thinking about the Christian right's arguments against gay marriage, their protestations about the eternal sanctity of marriage as one man, one woman, world without end, I don't see that my suggestion would be that objectionable. If they truly see marriage as a God-ordained institution intended to both carry out God's plan for humanity AND reflect Jesus' relationship to the church, they should be happy to get all the heathen and atheistic riffraff swept out the door.

I have some good friends who have been happily married for nearly ten years, the original marriage for both of them. They are also atheists and have no intention of reproducing; in fact, the guy got a vasectomy in his 20s because he knew he never wanted kids. They're involved with their nieces and nephews and have a couple of dogs, but their marriage neither perpetuates the species nor glorifies God in any manifestation. So the only criterion of Marriage they fulfill is having different genders. A long-term lesbian couple I know, in contrast, attend church regularly, sing in the choir, and raised their daughter in their faith. They are a much closer match to the model of Marriage put forth by the fundies except, of course, for the niggling little detail of sharing four X chromosomes between them. Yet another couple I know is stridently evangelical Christian and conservative... and between them they've racked up a jaw-dropping nine marriages, demonstrating either boundless optimism or being hopelessly jaded.

Which one of those is the real marriage by fundamentalist Christian standards? Any of them? Which comes closest to that model of perfection they hold up, that precious institution that is so fragile as to likely implode if two guys exchange rings? Letting gay couples in the door for civil unions with everyone else, while letting individual religious congregations decide what they're going to bless as a marriage (infertile couples? second or third marriages? biracial couples? mixed faith marriages? pagans?) should satisfy the logical needs of most of us while simultaneously massaging the egos of those who need to feel exclusionary. Let them be True Scotsmen and define "marriage" however they want, so long as the legal rights and responsibilities are conferred on everyone.

Another Press Conference

Ay, it's way too early in the morning for this. But it's press conference time on the east coast, so here we go.

The focus was Iraq. Interestingly, Iraq's oil resources finally merited being mentioned more than once as a key factor to the conflict:
If we do not defeat the terrorists and extremists in Iraq, they will gain control over vast oil reserves and use them to overthrow moderate governments across the Middle East. They will launch new attacks toward their goal of a vast Islamic extremist empire stretching from Spain to Indonesia.
What Iraq could look like is what Afghanistan used to look like. Imagine the safe haven for the enemy with the resources Iraq has.

I don't recall any prior statements explicitly listing "keeping Iraq's oil from falling into al-Qaida hands" as a primary goal, nor do I recall other references to a vast Islamic empire. The latter feels particularly ominous (not the spectre of such an empire, but rather of a government that is certain it is fighting against the possibility) in light of these somewhat apocalyptic statements (bolded neocon code words my own conjecture):
Defeating the extremists and terrorists will define the course of this new century. The outcome of this war will determine the destiny of millions of people across the world. It is the calling of this generation.

Maybe it's just me, but I get nervous when W starts talking about destiny. Particularly when he casts himself as a major player in determining its course.

Buzzword watch: References to adapting/shifting tactics/being flexible: 1, 2, 3, 4 in fewer than 45 seconds. 5, 6. 7. 8, 9, 10. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Oops, earlier expectations to the contrary, "a way forward" is gaining ground. Parties looking for a way forward now include the US government, the Iraqi government, the American people, the Iraqi people, and Kim Jong Il.

Definition time: Victory in Iraq is now apparently defined as helping the Iraqi government get control over more of their country. Victory is a government that can sustain itself and defend yourself and protect itself and govern its country and be an ally in the war on terror. Fixed timetable for withdrawal means defeat.

Question and answer time. Well, "answer" is a bit generous in this case; it would be far more accurate to say "rolling the word dice and stringing together sentences that only obliquely address the questions that were posed." The word dice include these helpful phrases: a way forward, shifting tactics, benchmarks, security, protect, terrorists and extremists, adapting, situation on the ground, generals on the ground, leave before the job is done, defend and govern and sustain itself, timetables, changing tactics.

David Gregory: When you reject timetables but set benchmarks for the Iraqi government that must be met, why shouldn't the American people conclude that this is just semantics and, two weeks before the elections, just politics?

W: There is a significant difference between benchmarks and a timetable for withdrawal. This is a sovereign government. We're showing them a way forward for their people. We're asking them, when do you think you're gonna get this done? That is substantially different from saying we want a time certain for getting out of Iraq. Benchmarks are a way to win. A timetable for withdrawal means we lose.

Saying "a way forward" means never having to actually answer a question.

Another reporter, sorry, didn't catch the name: You say the definition of failure is leaving before job is done, but you don't want to see our troops standing in the crossfire of sectarian violence or all-out civil war, so how do you reconcile those two statements?

W: Our job is to prevent wholesale fullscale civil war from happening in the first place. That there's a political way forward. Government defend itself, sustain itself. We will work to prevent that from happening. This is a struggle between radicals and extremists who are trying to prevent there being a democracy. If we were to withdraw before the job is done it would embolden extremists. You're asking me hypotheticals. Our job is to make sure there is not one.

So glad to hear that the 80+ people being killed by sectarian death squads in Baghdad every day are not the victims of a civil war. Because that would just be, you know, wrong.

Uh, another reporter: How do you plan to measure Maliki's success in meeting the banchmarks, and what will you do if he doesn't meet them?

W: The first step is to work with the Maliki government to develop benchmarks to achieve different goals, to assure the Iraqi people that the government is going to make the difficult decisions to move forward and achieve their goals. We have to work with this sovereign government to come up with a way to move forward.

Saying "a way forward" means never having to actually answer a question.

Finally, W boils down the upcoming elections to the basics: Which party has the plan that will enable our ecomony to continue to grow, and which party has the plan that will protect this country? The Democrats voted against giving us the tools to protect the American people. I don't question their patriotism, I question whether they understand how dangerous this world is. If the tax cuts aren't made permanent, it raises the taxes on the American people. Who can protect this country, and who can keep taxes low?

Ah, so the Democrats aren't traitors after all. They're just stupid. Unlike the American people, who understand that revoking habeas corpus is the best tool for fighting terrorism, and that cutting taxes on the top-earning 1% of the population translates into economic bliss for the working class.

Telling Quote #1: "This war has multiple affronts."

Reason, logic, and humanity foremost among them.

Telling Quote #2: "I like campaigning. It's what guys like me do... From what I see out there, people are ready to vote to put us back into power. "

What Diebold hath wrought, let no man put asunder.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


The sprinkles that ten minutes ago set me scurrying to get the tools, sandpaper, and half-finished bookshelf stuffed back into the shed have bloomed into a steady rain. The drops and attending glorious sunset come this evening courtesy of the remnants of Hurricane Paul, currently spinning itself out over the Sea of Cortez. By the time hurricanes meander this far inland, they've lost their oomph and give us a pleasant fall shower. The cool wind and the rain take me back home, back to Chicago.

Autumn rain transforms reality. It makes things more immediate and real, stripped down to the true nature of what they are. All pretenses and hedged bets and promises or speculations of what they once were and might yet become are washed away, and the world is as itself.

Naked and wet it's hard to be pretentious.

The rain is at once isolating and liberating, cutting down the universe of possible choices. The world turns inward and all is dark and damp, the water dripping from trees and scaffolding and buildings and people in equal measure.

Places never seem so much like themselves and home never feels so much like home as on a rainy day in the fall. Summer's bright allure of cloudless skies and glinting windows and all the brightly touted distractions have been put away for another year, and the city goes about its business, and it rains. The sidewalks are puddled and the L platforms are glistening and the street sounds are muffled and the people carry on, ducking under umbrellas and newspapers, hurrying into vestibules and onto the train, and the trains still roll and the water beads on the windows like sweat and the city strides on and it rains.

The cop directing traffic and the trader with his stock exchange badge and the homeless guy in the doorway and the bicycle messenger and the advertising executive and the guy in for the day from the 'burbs all get equally wet. And the stanchions on the Adams Street bridge and the girders under the Quincy L stop and the lions at the Art Institute and the flickering bulbs on the sign for Maxwell Street Red Hots and the expired parking meters all drip at the same rate. The water creeps up the limestone of the Trib Tower and Soldier Field and the county lockup all the same, equivalent histograms of wet and November in Chicago.

Eighteen hundred miles and twelve years removed, a cool rainy day still puts me there.

The desert rain is different. It is something not to be wasted, because when it stops it might not come back for months. I wonder but that lifetime desert dwellers must find something else to cleanse their souls, some different environmental occurrence that makes them long to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. When else do they get to eat soup, but when it rains? And do they know to take a good look then, so that they may see things as they are?

All Souls

One of Tucson's niftier traditions is the All Souls Procession, a sort of free-form parade and cathartic spectacle held each year round about All Souls' Day, a community event for people to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed on. This year it's happening on November 5. The evening before is the Personal Altar Vigil, in which people can build small altars in the library plaza downtown and stroll amongst them all night long. I am making one in honor of my old teacher. Look for it; it will be the one built out of books.

I am also contemplating a small side altar commemorating the death of habeas corpus, although I suppose that would make for a nice float in the parade the next night. The Constitution, wrapped in a shroud, perhaps set on fire with the torch shanghaied from the Statue of Liberty.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mourning Routine

Routines, generally, do not settle well with my system. Some routines are okay, say, for example, the morning routine of lying in bed half-comatose, wondering how long I can put off getting up, slowly warming up the synapses by trying to decide what to wear today.

It's a very good thing that my work wardrobe consists entirely of shorts and t-shirts.

Eating the same thing for breakfast every morning simply will not do. Meeting the same friend for breakfast every morning, however, is a lovely routine. I had a friend like that, once, back when we were both single and life was weird but, somehow, simpler. Every morning I pulled into her driveway and pounded on her bedroom window, hoping she'd be not quite startled or sleep-addled enough to grab the .38 she kept under her pillow, hoping the dog would nose her awake so I wouldn't have to. By the time I walked around to the back door and let myself in, she'd usually be up and in her robe, yawning and asking what a girl had to do to get a cup of coffee around here.

Some mornings we had fried-scrambled eggs, as we called them, a dish not really appreciated by anyone else we socialized with, eggs cracked into the skillet and fried until the whites were almost set, then scrambled a little with the spatula before being thunderously salted and peppered and draped with cheese and served over toast with salsa. Sometimes instead of eggs I baked biscuits at home and brought them over wrapped in a towel, or sometimes she baked a coffee cake or made pancakes. Sometimes we just had ice cream sundaes in waffle bowls. And coffee, always coffee we bought when the old Coffee Etc. on Campbell put their half-pound bags on sale, eyeballing the grounds into the metal filter basket of the Krups machine she'd bought as an indulgent whim.

We carried our plates out to the back and sat in the big porch swing I'd rescued from someone's brush-n-bulky pile, watched her dog snuffle in the yard, watched the flowers sway in the breeze, talked about the next great landscaping project or camping adventure we'd undertake. Talked about how we were sure we'd be eighty someday and still be meeting for breakfast every morning, having our eggs and toast and coffee out on the back porch. Then we'd carry the dishes back inside, simultaneously shrug and say, "Time to make the donuts," and after a quick hug I'd head off to work and she'd set about getting ready to go in to her office.

We'd talk on the phone later in the afternoon or evening, just to check in and say hi. I alwyas knew, somehow, when it was her on the other end when the phone rang, even without caller ID. And we'd know we'd see each other the next morning for breakfast. Everyone should have a friend like that at some time in their lives. I had a friend like that once. I miss her more than I can convey.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Want Pride? Got Yer Pride Right Here

I did not participate in any Pride activities this year, keeping my streak of forgetting to go to Pride alive and well. I forgot about the Saturday picnic until it was already late Saturday afternoon, and was unable to hit the Sunday parade due to a full slate of soccer games played and refereed. I failed to see any coverage in the paper this year, which was a little odd. They usually stick in a token picture of a drag queen or two, but if they did it this time around I missed it. Homer's coverage was pretty good. Gotta love the Gaysha.

However, I love this. Coming on the heels of David Kuo's published assertions that the White House is, in fact, only paying lip service to the religious right's face while calling them nutjobs behind their backs, the American Family Association has its modest knickers in a twist because Condi Rice not only swore in an avowed homo as the new AIDS czar, but was nice to his partner and called his partner's mother the new czar's mother-in-law.

You can feel the apoplexy coming off the screen in waves.
An Associated Press photo of the ceremony also shows a smiling First Lady Laura Bush and Dybul's homosexual "partner," Jason Claire. During her comments, Rice referred to the presence of Claire's mother and called her Dybul's "mother-in-law," a term normally reserved for the heterosexuals who have been legally married.

I love the scare quotes, not just around mother-in-law, but around partner as well. Actually, scare quotes isn't the most apt descriptor, but it's less unwieldy than "eye-roll-and-disgusted-head-toss-teamed-with-that-little-chuh!-sound." Calling the avowed homosexual's sodomite co-sexual-sinner a partner, as if the relationship were on the same hallowed level as Donny and Marie, or Tinker to Evers to Chance. Now there were some partners, people! But there's more:
"We have to face the fact that putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse," says Sprigg. "But even beyond that, the deferential treatment that was given not only to him but his partner and his partner's family by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is very distressing."

What the hell was Condi thinking when she treated those people respectfully, and at an official ceremony, no less? Doesn't she know that do-unto-others bit is only for people who deserve it, and that she should've snatched that Bible right out of the sodomite's hands and smacked him upside the head with it? But the capper was this:
He also notes that Rice's comments defy an existing law on the books protecting traditional marriage. "So, for her to treat his partner like a spouse and treat the partner's mother as a mother-in-law, which implies a marriage between the two partners, is a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act," the FRC spokesman states.

Time to call in the FBI or, better yet, appoint a special prosecutor to investigate a sitting Secretary of State who not only treats sinners politely but blatantly violates federal laws forbidding speech implying that the mother of an avowed homosexual's sodomite plaything is anything but, well, let's face it, the mother of the spawn of Satan.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cartoon Cartoon

The Daily Star ran this interesting cartoon, reprinted from the Rome (GA) News-Tribune on the Op-Ed page this morning.

The message appears to be that Democrats are insisting on spending precious government resources wiretapping gays to purge DC of the Lavender Menace, while Republicans, weary but resolute, insist on maintaining their razor-sharp focus on the terrorists. The donkey, who's probably ditching work if he has a job at all, wears typical liberal protest attire, a t-shirt with a slogan, and holds a giant sign with another slogan. The elephant, in contrast, is in office attire, his loosened tie, five-o-clock shadow, and cup of coffee signifying yet another late night spent at the office in pursuit of the terrorists (hopefully this elephant is among the one percent of FBI agents who have the ability--maybe--to order a cup of coffee in Arabic).

Oh, and the elephant makes a funny. A ribald funny that manages simultaneously to reference both blowjobs and the heterosexual male fear of Teh Gay coming on to him. How clever!

This is fascinating stuff coming from the party that focused obsessively on a consensual blowjob between two adults not that long ago, to the exclusion of nearly everything else, spending over a year and millions of dollars to prove that Bill Clinton is a Very Bad Man. A blowjob that was inappropriate, immoral, and ill-advised, to be sure, but one that was not illegal, a blowjob that was used to indict not just a president but his entire party. Now we have a Republican embroiled in a much more disturbing scandal, one involving predation on underage pages, and the rest of the Republicans and their media mouthpieces--when they're not scrambling to make excuses for the guy--are falling over themselves to tut-tut that the Democrats are making this an issue right before midterms, insisting that it's really not that big a deal, that if it's a big deal at all, it's because it distracts from the party message of all terror, all the time.

Meanwhile, the implication that the Democrats are blaming the page scandal on "the gays" and demanding special surveillance (special rights, anyone? okay, how about special blame, then?) is bullshit. It goes beyond that, actually; it's intellectually lazy and intentionally dishonest bullshit. The Democrats are not demanding that anyone "wiretap the gays." In fact, the Dems have specifically not engaged in the sort of gay scapegoating and demonizing that the right wing apologists delved into within 24 hours of the scandal breaking. The sole demand is that the House Republican leadership own their responsibility for covering up Foley's actions for the past six years, during which time they consistently chose political expediency over the well-being of the teenage kids entrusted to their care in the page program.

But that wouldn't have been nearly so amusing a cartoon.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Vocabulary With George

Chimpy had a press conference this morning. Actually, it's still going on. Between comments on reporters' suits--my, how playful and clever our leader is, balancing gravitas and Jove so deftly--W helpfully defined terms.

The president's most solemn duty is to "protect the American people." No mention of the actual oath he took, which involved protecting the Constitution.

"Firm date for withdrawal" means "cut and run."

"Stay the course" means "we keep doing what we're doing." It also means "not leaving until the job is done."

No word on what "job is done" entails. But--BUT--he did explain that we're staying in Iraq because if we leave Iraq "they will come fight us here." He still doesn't understand what we're fighting over there. The insurgents are fighting to get us out of their country so they can get on with the business of killing each other until somebody grabs control. The Mehdi Army is not going to come to the US in droves to fight us here. Al Qaida is going to try to come after us regardless of when we leave Iraq, and under what circumstances. As far as AQ's presence in Iraq in the first place, he's still confusing correlation and causality. I'd love to hear what he thinks those two words mean.

As to our actions in Iraq creating more terrorists: Well, of course our actions "cause other actions... kinetic actions." Uh.

As for North Korea, we have this one-side conversation: "I believe the commander in chief must try all diplomatic measures before military action." Ha. He finally gets it, as he immediately asked his own followup, on why he went with the military option in Iraq (saints be praised, he apparently does listen sometimes). Apparently diplomacy didn't work in Iraq. Apparently the possession of nukyooler weapons makes W much more patient with the diplomatic process.

Snark, snark, snark.

You said you wouldn't tolerate a nuclear North Korea, and now they're nuclear. So what are you going to do? Uh, well, "when I talk to other world leaders on the phone, we strategize." And now we're not the only country saying North Korea is bad! "That should give diplomacy a full opportunity to succeed."

Does he wish he'd done anything different about Iraq? There are some things he wishes had gone differently. "I believe Abu Ghraib really hurt us and eased us off the moral high ground." Okay, true dat. But that's the only thing he cites, falling back on "the decision to remove Saddam from power was the right one." We'll change tactics if we need to change tactics to help this young democracy succeed. We don't want to cede this area of the world to people who would glorify a victory over the US. I wonder if he remembers the results of the democratic elections in Palestine and Iran, you know, the ones that put Islamic hardliners in office. I wonder how content he will be when the same damn thing eventually happens in Iraq.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Fantasy Football and Congressional Fantasies, Both Gag-worthy

Sometimes your fantasy NFL team tanking yet again takes on the same significance as the Foley-Kolbe phantasm. Not often. Actually, I'm so used to it that today is probably the last day it will register. Oh, swell. The Broncos just picked off yet another pass. Good thing I'm not in this for cash.

When this happens (not the demise of my team, so much, although it's an apt metaphor for the rest of the world at the moment), I like to pop open a bottle of Red Truck and go through the last month's worth of Joe Mathlete Explains Today's Marmaduke.

I confess to not paying inordinate attention today to the newest Foley developments. Apparently Jim Kolbe (recently retired representative from Arizona), another inexplicably Republican gay man, knew as far back as 2000 that Foley was behaving inappropriately with the pages. Nothing that's come to light so far suggests that Kolbe himself did anything wrong with the boys (reports indicate he was friendly and generous, but no hints of smoking guns yet), but his minimal actions to rectify the situation (notifying the House clerk) are damning.

Note to the remaining gay Republicans in Congress: knock it off, already. If you get so much as a whiff of impropriety involving one of your gay colleagues and an underage kid, you are obligated to go all Avenging Angel on the guy's ass. Doing the bare minimum that you think will stand up to clear you in court or preserve your committee chairmanship only makes the rest of us--who, by the by, are overwhelmingly interested in getting laid by People Our Own Age--look really, really bad. The Focus on the Family people have the stereotype of the gay sexual predator up there in stark relief. Look in the mirror and see if your actions are perpetuating that stereotype or protecting someone else's efforts to perpetuate it in any way. If so, knock it the hell off.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday Escape

Running score: Fish 90, me 0.

The Boy and I hightailed it for Patagonia this afternoon and spent a lovely few hours hunkered under cottonwood trees, enjoying the breeze, drowning worms that came all the way from the White Mountains to die an ignominious death in Patagonia Lake, unmolested by any fish lips.

Nary a bite.

Well, one possible bite after we moved from the rocks to the handicapped fishing dock (insert comment here; we have long accepted our fishing impairment).

These vultures pegged us as an easy dinner, unaware that we had planned ahead and bought food against the distinct possibility that no fish would be caught for eating.

We're still waiting for that fresh-caught, pan-fried bluegill supper. Thankfully, Omar's Highway Chef is still serving up heaping plates of goodness at the Triple T Truckstop on the way back into town. My huge platter of huevos rancheros swimming in an ocean of beans and cheese was more than consolation enough.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Rainy Friday; Rally Posthash, Finished with a Dollop of Stereotyping Cream!

I woke up this morning about ten seconds before the downpour started, a rain that has lasted about an hour an a half and socked in the basin with so many clouds the mountains are mere afterthoughts on the horizon. It's a cool, wonderfully gloomy morning that feels like winter more than the dregs of summer--what passes for fall here--it really is.

The rally last night was rather disjointed and was on the move by the time I got down there, the anti-Bush faction marching in clumps to take the long way around the pro-war group on the opposite sidewalk. My first impression was that our side needs to bulk up in the flag department. The fact that I could instantly identify which group was the pro-war side, based on the large number of flags they were carrying, should give us all pause. Failing to carry flags ourselves reinforces the pro-war people's message that they are the true Americans, that their message is the one the flag truly stands for. We can't help them perpetuate that.

Anti-Bush signs seen: "Impeach;" "Give Bush a Fair Trial;" good old "ITMFA." One boy stood crucifix-style, a noose wound along his arms.

Pro-war signs seen: "Give War a Chance;" "Nuke Iran, Nuke Syria, Let God Sort 'em Out;" and my perennial favorite, "Osama Loves Lefties." I truly wanted to engage the latter woman in conversation. I wanted to point out to her that of all Americans, Osama probably finds "lefties" the most repugnant. After all, we tend away from orthodox religion, we don't usually adhere to religious prohibitions against things like rock music and sex for fun, and, ah, we're the ones who seem to think Osama needs to be caught right now rather than ignored and trotted out as a convenient boogeyman when the polls dip.

As I drove away, I saw an older guy holding a Marine flag engaged in a heated conversation with a young kid, punctuating his points by thwacking the kid's shins with his flagpole. I wonder why turning the other cheek comes so naturally to us, when it's the other side that's so thick with Bible thumpers.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Freedom on the March!

In lieu of actual content, a linkfest.

Freedom is still on the march! That is, if, of course, by "freedom" you mean "continued power grabs by a megalomaniacal dictator."

Dennis Hastert is taking responsibility for the page scandal and its coverup. That is, if, of course, by "taking responsibility" you mean "blaming the media and Bill Clinton."

I really, really meant to go to the World Can't Wait rally downtown this evening. Of course, I managed to get derailed by drama involving my hiking boots and now there's some weird post-monsoonal thunderstorm action and, okay, I'm just too goddamn tired and lazy to get off my ass and do something proactive. There. I said it. At least I persuaded my officemate and her boyfriend to go. Luckily for all of us, Olbermann is energized.

Ah, shite, the power of guilt. I'm toddling off to the rally now.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Requisite Mark Foley Post

In other news, Mark Foley is going for the fundie right-wing gay stereotype trifecta: (1) molested as a kid, (2) substance abuser; (3) sexual predator. Thanks a ton for jumping on that bandwagon, asshole. I'm not even going to address your contorted attempts at justifying or rationalizing or explaining his behavior. You are not the victim here. The kids are.

I will, however, repost a comment I wrote over at Daily Kos earlier in the week, now that more and more rightish commentators are coming out from under their rocks to discuss the technicalities of the boys' ages and, even worse, to suggest that the pages themselves were somehow at fault for Foley's actions. Forthwith:
Attention from an older guy in a position of relative power is a heady, heady thing for a 16-year-old (or, as in my case, 17). It's flattering, it's exciting--wow, he actually wants to talk to me! He wants to take me to dinner! He wants to talk to me about my future career interests! It's exhilarating.

Then he pulls you down on top of him on the couch in his office and jams his tongue down your throat and, wham, it's not fun any more. It's terrifying. Even if you manage to stop things in their tracks, the creepiness and guilt take a long damn time to subside. You don't tell your parents because you don't want them to be angry--whether with you or with your attacker, you're not quite sure--and you don't want them to think (know?) you're stupid enough to have gotten into this situation in the first place. You don't even tell your friends because you don't want them to look at you differently. You look back at everything that led to that awful moment and kick yourself for not putting the brakes on sooner, for not recognizing what was happening until it was too late.

I feel for the kid or kids who are sure to be identified sooner or later as the other parties in the IMs and e-mails. I'm certain my own experience shaded the way I read them, but I sensed the discomfort coming through the kid's side of the messaging. You don't want to go along with where you're being led, but at the same time you don't want to not go along because you think maybe you're misinterpreting and don't want him to cut you off. You don't want him to think you're the one reacting inappropriately.

All the debate about whether Foley is technically really a pedophile or an ephebophile or pederast or just garden-variety sleazebag misses the reality that teenagers are not equipped to deal with sexual situations involving older, more experienced, much more powerful adults. Arguments about terminology and semantics obscure the point: I don't give a rat's ass what the age of consent is in DC, or what that means for the 18-year-old boyfriends of 16-year-old girls. Foley exploited kids who were not experienced enough to know how to handle him. And that's a crime.

Given the developments out of the Foley camp over the past couple of days, I'll add that it's also reprehensible that he's now playing to the fears and stereotypes held by homophobes in an attempt to abnegate his personal responsibility for his actions. That's the funny thing about the anti-homo camp's view of gay people: they think we have the power to choose our orientation, but simultaneously are somehow unable to choose appropriate people to express it with. The reality is that we're just like straight people: you either do the right thing or you don't, and individual orientation has exactly zero to do with that.

Surprise! You're a Supervisor!

Hum. The National Labor Relations Board announced early today (or perhaps late yesterday) that it's changing union eligibility rules for charge nurses. Charge nurses are the more experienced nurses within each unit/on each floor who delegate tasks among the rest of the staff, but still they work the floor themselves and get shit on by management along with everyone else. Starting today, they're classified as supervisors and are no longer allowed to unionize, so if they were already in, they've just lost their union protections. Hospital management loves this ruling, of course, because it depresses organizing efforts nationwide by cutting the pool of eligible staff and has a damping effect on young nurses who are already intimidated about joining a union.

The larger concern is the repercussions for quasi-supervisory workers in other fields.
In their dissents, two NLRB members said millions of professionals who have some supervisory duties could be hurt by the ruling.

The decision "threatens to create a new class of workers under federal labor law: workers who have neither the genuine prerogatives of management, nor the statutory rights of ordinary employees," they wrote.

If my occasional NLRB reader stops by, I'd love your take. In the meantime, there's always Colbert.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Iraq-Afghanistan Disconnect, Part XXXVIII

Explain this to me. Explain why Afghanistan has now officially been forgotten and written off.

The Taliban have been the acknowledged enemy since day one (that being September 11). Joined at the hip with al Qaida, supporters of Osama, bastards who managed to make "pathological repression" the understatement of the century... Bill Frist yesterday said the Taliban need to be brought into the government of Afghanistan as full partners.
The Tennessee Republican said he learned from briefings that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated on the battlefield.

"You need to bring them into a more transparent type of government," Frist said during a brief visit to a U.S. and Romanian military base in the southern Taliban stronghold of Qalat. "And if that's accomplished, we'll be successful."

The Afghan government prior to the invasion was plenty transparent. You looked at it and you saw the Taliban. You looked at the country and saw people trying to live under one of the most repressive regimes in recent memory. A place where women were confined to the home and allowed out only when draped head to toe and accompanied by a male relative. A place where men weren't allowed to shave. A place where nobody could listen to music or fly a kite. A place where females were not allowed education. That's the kind of existence Bill Frist is ready to consign to Afghanistan.

This is an issue quite distinct from the situation in Iraq, where our unprovoked intervention has fomented chaos and a very different form of sectarian hell than the people there were accustomed to. We are supposed to "stay the course" on the disaster of our own making in Iraq because to do otherwise somehow dishonors the thousands who died there, as if their senseless deaths could be further cheapened by pulling out and preventing thousands more.

But in Afghanistan, the home territory of the group that pulled off the attack that "changed everything," we're supposed to cede power back to the Taliban because our woefully underfunded, undermanned forces there--thank you, Dick and Rummy and Wolfie, for going all in on Iraq before Afghanistan was even close to being finished--have been unable to establish control over the countryside after early successes. We're supposed to return to the status quo there, after a couple hundred paratroopers and Rangers have died, giving control of the country back to the very people that have been determined to wreak havoc with us from the beginning.