Sunday, May 31

Fix for Twitter Accounts

Twitter had a major crash yesterday, I and a lot of, well, ALL users were affected when the entire site was down for at least 90 minutes yesterday.
They're calling it an "exploit," but taking the site down for 90 minutes says major worm hack to me.

What I did to get back in:

Go to twitter login screen, enter your email then click on the "forgot password" link.

Open the email they send you and select a new password.

Worked for me.

panties modified from levianthan's flickr photostream

Saturday, May 30

Brief announcement

I don't often tweak the template here at Blue Gal, but I like this feature enough to mess with code. There is now a "Share This" button at the bottom of each of my posts. If you see something you like here and want to tweet it or share it on Facebook or elsewhere, this button provides a quick pop-up window with multiple options. And I know I don't say it often enough: thanks for reading my blog.

Saturday Song with rockabilly - "Dry Run"

Whoops I sometimes forget that family members don't read the big blog.

Cross-posting. Those of you who follow C&L have seen this.

There's supposedly going to be a bit of cross-talk from the right about Sotomayor's temper/temperament. Hey, for my vote she'd better be able to take down Scalia in a full-body choke hold.

Judicial temperament and classy, too.

Friday, May 29

Michael Steele G. Gordon Liddy: Love muffin of the day

Why did Michael Steele need to put it this way?

"I'm excited that a Hispanic woman is in this position." [The GOP should not be] "slammin' and rammin'" [Sotomayor].

Seriously, what the hell is it with you guys? Have you ever talked to a girl? Do NONE of you have human mothers?

I don't like to be unkind, but then...


Yes, G. Gordon Liddy turned his tender, intellectual gaze to Sotomayor and responded with concern that her ability to be a Supreme Court Justice might be...wait for it, girls....

...compromised by pre-menstrual syndrome.

And what is it exactly that's compromising your judgment, Gordon? I mean, Dude! It's recommended, even for ex-military, that you take the plug out and re-lube every once in a while. Your entire career since Nixon adopted you as the paranoid killer son/twin-he-never-had, points to evidence of a steady dose of fecal matter leeching directly into your brain stem. And you think menstruation is an issue?

The self-destructive stupidity of the Right is losing its shock-value by the moment.

Thursday, May 28

How's that abstinence-only training working out for ya, southerners?

Click image for larger and more details. And don't give Texas, New Mexico, and Nevada a pass, their states look good only because data for 2003 was not available.

Before I go any further in this post, yes we need single-payer healthcare. Medicaid birthrates as a percentage of total birthrates is a good indicator of both the poverty of a state and also the availability of adequate birth control information in the population likely to be already served by state agencies. I blame directly the politics of abstinence-only for states that have high ratios of medicare births.

In a perfect world, citizens in states with higher birth-rates among the uninsured would pay a pro-abstinence and prophylactic ignorance tax, which would appear as a line item on page one of their 1040.

"Write the name of your state on line A"
"If your state is listed in Schedule IC (idiot Christianist) subtract $1,000 from your standard deduction."

States that enact medically accurate, age-appropriate comprehensive sex education programs (h/t NCSSE) would be exempt from such tax after three years of reduction in Medicaid birth rates. (I would also push for free roadside condom distribution and including state-funded advertising for Trojans during all sports programming and American Fucking Idol.)

As I have said before, if accurate information can be made available on the website for Walgreens, it can be made available by your legislature.

Tennessee you must be so proud of the baby daddy who had 21 kids with 11 women and did not plan it that way. "It just happened," he said.

It just happened to Bristol Palin, too. I try not to think about whether Levi is practicing safer sex these days. Bristol's parents are showing their selfish arrogance again by allowing her to be used for family propaganda.

I understand completely the do-goodness of generous Medicaid funding for pregnant women and young children. Healthy babies are a very good investment of public money. That said, what kind of society are we building when we encourage a national ignorance of reproduction and sexual health?

Tabloid media saturation is actually an opportunity to get our national head out of our ass and grow up when it comes to sex. Teenagers need those of us who are adults to be adults. Those dependent, right or wrong, on the public dole can receive lots of information while they are seeking assistance from other agencies.

Bristol's mother needed to buy her condoms and tell her to use them, or watch her carefully enough and keep her busy enough that sex with Levi wasn't the only fun she could have.

PS Good Christian teens can happily cheer at this on the NASCAR track:

But we must shield their tender sensibility from this?



Wednesday, May 27

Good one.

Overheard at Twitter:

Wow, Kim Jong Il seems really upset about this Sotomayor pick!

Hennyway. California will hang with Hawaii after they get their constitution fixed. My sense is, there's a real silver lining to the Prop 8 thing -- it will convince young voters that politics matters beyond just electing Barack Obama. A new generation of activists? Dang, that's a sweet earth.

Watch that one to the end. Whuh? Winston Churchill making as much sense as Harry Reid. Wow.

My congressman had an online poll question: do you want terrorists moved onto United States soil?

Honestly, I reject the question, but that's not an option. So I just said


I have to get the kids' stuff ready for some summer travel today. Have a lovely Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 26

Chris Matthews, sweetheart

Chris, darling! It's not enough that we bloggers are some of the very few people in the entire media dating pool who can tolerate your indiscretions. We're dazzled by your encylopedic political mind, even when you let Pat Buchanan catch a ride with us to the dance. And such a Valentine on the Charlie Rose show last night! I'll bet you say that to all the girls...

Matthews: This is really deep Charlie. I think that I'm not absolutely sure of myself on issues. I know that my opinion, and I know that other people that I have different ones. And I feel like ending every show with not everything I say can be wrong. I mean I do think it's possible everything I said is wrong. I have a very strange view.

Some of the bloggers jumped on me. And this is what I think explains what some people think about me. When we first went into Iraq...

Rose: What do you think they think about you?

Matthews: Well they don't quite get me. They, I'm first of all a grown up and they resent that, but secondly, and also, I have a job...they don't like that either. That's really going to fester them with anger. But when we first went into Iraq and when they set it up this way or not and whether or not Mike Deaver still had his hand in this or not, you know like it all looked good, they all tore down the statues and everything looked great, I thought you know I've been dead wrong about this.

Rose: At that point everything was great.

Matthews: I thought I was wrong, but I thought it was good for the country.

Are you this subtle in the backseat of a car? Nothing about the lies leading up to war, the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. We're taking down statues in a country that does NOT have WMD's or yellowcake or Osama Bin Missin' but at the time it sure felt good to you? On behalf of the country? Great foreplay, and then you rip my bra off and tell me I'm not a grown-up but you are, I don't have a "job" but you do? And THAT'S why I'm festering with anger?

Chris, that tingle up your leg is my 800,000 volt keychain date rape stun gun. I'll take a cab home.

h/t Heather for the transcript.

Monday, May 25

Sex, class, and our debt to society

[Welcome to the beautiful people coming here from Crooks and Liars.]

I attended a Community Organizing type meeting sponsored by the school district where as of next year, all three of my children will attend. The meeting was run by the President of the School Board, a man who clearly came from a long line of AME preachers, because "parental involvement in education" was not just the theme of the meeting, it was the God bless-ed gospel, and don't you forget it.

We parents who attended a 90 minute mid-day meeting to discuss parental involvement over cold Subway platters? Yeah. He was preaching to the converted.

The purpose of the meeting was to gather feedback and help to form a plan of action to help more parents in our community involve themselves in their children's education. We brainstormed on reasons why parents in my community might not become involved. Some of the reasons, and I am not making these up, on the paper flipchart (thank you Jesus there was no Powerpoint presentation):

Lack of transportation
Holding down multiple jobs
Substance abuse
Power is turned off at home
One or both parents are incarcerated

I mean, we got to "incarceration" within four minutes.

I live in a poor city. Every elementary school in the district is designated Title I, which means extra Federal funds because, duh, the majority of parents in the district are low income. It's called "Improving The Academic Achievement Of The Disadvantaged" but in the world of No Child Left Behind the focus is, of course, far more about standardized test scores than about making sure the child's home has a paid electric bill and at least one parent not in jail.

image from drunkstepmother's collection. Irony is dead.

A few days after this meeting, I met, literally on the schoolyard, an acquaintance, the mother of one of my 6yo's friends. She's under 30, dayglo red hair, tattoos, and a hand-cut cleavage wild child t-shirt.

She's pregnant. Again.

"We found out late. I'm due August 4. I just found out this week."

Dear readers: I do not do math in my head very quickly, but I knew right away for a fact that this woman had gone four cycles pregnant and had just "found out." Granted, as someone who has gone through infertility treatment, I STILL know two years after my tubes were done my exact day of would-be ovulation every single month.

But look, it's one thing to not know anything about what is going on in the world or even your kid's school and not give a shit. It's another to not know what the hell is going on in your own body.

Mr. Gingrich, while I have you on the phone, allow me to say that I am far more worried about the threat to this nation of ignorant parents and their neglected children, as well as a government policy that thinks they can fix these problems with standardized testing, than I am about some invented terrorist boogie man you want to prop up on the Sunday shows. And don't you EVER mention family values while I'm within castrating distance of you.


Unlike this whole torture-the-terrorists BS brought on by Cheney and Gingrich, there is an actual debate going on in the Republican party over sex: exemplified by Bristol Palin on the 'anti-sex' side and Meghan McCain on the 'pro-sex' side. It recalls a New Yorker article I've linked many times before and will again, Red Sex, Blue Sex:

Social liberals in the country’s “blue states” tend to support sex education and are not particularly troubled by the idea that many teen-agers have sex before marriage, but would regard a teen-age daughter’s pregnancy as devastating news. And the social conservatives in “red states” generally advocate abstinence-only education and denounce sex before marriage, but are relatively unruffled if a teen-ager becomes pregnant, as long as she doesn’t choose to have an abortion.
So Bristol Palin gets pregnant and doesn't get an abortion, and her choices are understood and even accepted in Red State world. And Meghan McCain is clearly sexually active but doesn't get pregnant, and describes herself as a "progressive Republican."

It's become very clear to me this week after offering, sincerely, to help the "just found out" mom find some hand-me-down baby clothes, that the debate between Bristol and Meghan is not about political party or feminism or even sex itself. It is about economic class. (Yes, my preschooler can tell you that Mommy is a Marxist in the intellectual sense.)

Remember the wonderful old movie Pygmalion, from the Shaw play, with Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard? Done far better than the My Fair Lady version, mind you. Professor Higgins announces that he will make Eliza Doolittle into a fine lady by teaching her to speak properly:

HIGGINS [carried away] Yes: in six months -- in three if she has a good ear and a quick tongue -- I'll take her anywhere and pass her off as anything. We'll start today: now! this moment! Take her away and clean her, Mrs. Pearce. Is there a good fire in the kitchen?

MRS. PEARCE [protesting]. Yes; but—

HIGGINS [storming on] Take all her clothes off and burn them. Ring up Whitely or somebody for new ones. Wrap her up in brown paper til they come.

LIZA. You're no gentleman, you're not, to talk of such things. I'm a good girl, I am; and I know what the like of you are, I do.

HIGGINS. We want none of your slum prudery here, young woman. You've got to learn to behave like a duchess.
Behaving like a duchess means having no concern over whether society thinks you are a 'good girl' sexually. George Bernard Shaw understood that the cultural battle over sexual morals is not about sex. It's about whether you need to position yourself as morally superior about sex, because that is your economic class's only claim to gentility. (Notice Eliza's slum prudery extends so far as to getting naked for a bath.)

Oh. Did somebody say duchess?

There she is, the daughter of military royalty and brewmaster aristocracy. The word "privileged" comes to mind.

Something Bristol Palin is not.

Bristol Palin recently said "If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex. Trust me. Nobody." Clearly, 'nobody' does not include Meghan McCain, because Meghan has the financial, emotional, and educational resources to protect herself from the unwanted consequences of sexual activity. In a word, she can afford to be pro-sex. Hell, if she gets pregnant, she can afford a crib that costs as much as educating three kids in Catholic school for a year.

Or have Cindy's people call for shipping. The wealthy can afford the crib and the sex and the babies and even the abortions, even if the poor in the red states were to succeed in making that illegal. There's always a trip to Canada, Norway, or a high-priced physician willing to perform an undocumented "procedure." Most importantly, unlike the vast unwashed of Red State Evangelicalism, the rich do not need a pro-life anti-sex political position to be Better Than You.

The rich can also afford to opt out of Title I public education. In doing so, they leave their debt to society completely and utterly unpaid. Not ironically, education leads to a higher 'class' of people, people who don't need slum morals and sexual hypocrisy to prove superior societal status. If we want less influence for the religious right and the Republican Party that takes advantage of their ignorance, we have to start going to public school board meetings and find baby clothes and maybe a clue for the unrefined mother down the street. Paying my debt to society includes her baby, too.

cross-posted at SexGenderBody

Saturday, May 23

Friday, May 22

Important New Blog In Town

Crooks and Liars now has a Supreme Court Blog. It is timely, well-written, all that you would expect.

Go visit Third Branch. Thanks.

Notice Sister Newt below has a flag pin now.

Big post in the works for this here blog, if I can get it on the screen. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 21

Change him to a nun, he's still a Newt.

It's not just that Gingrich doesn't realize that people can look up what he said five years or five minutes ago on the internet tubes. Newt has become a Catholic, I believe, because old-style Catholicism buys into what he (and Republicanism) have believed all along: that you may not be perfect, but you are always forgiven, provided you profess loyalty and devotion to the ideology involved. So as long as you SAY you believe in the Holy Catholic See/Grand Old Party ideology, no matter how much you lie or how big a hypocrite you are, the indulgences will come at you fast and easy.

From Wikipedia, which in this case is a pretty accurate rendition:

An indulgence, in Roman Catholic theology, is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence is granted by the church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution. The belief is that indulgences draw on the storehouse of merit acquired by Jesus' sacrifice and the virtues and penances of the saints. They are granted for specific good works and prayers.

The Republican Party and the 24 hour news cycle (that apparently needs them to fill up 'fair and balanced' programming minutes) doles out indulgences all the time. That's why compulsive gambler Bill Bennett and Christian Right/Gambling benefactor Ralph Reed can appear on CNN as Republican analysts and Wolf Blitzer doesn't bat a eye. It's why Newt Gingrich himself is allowed into the green room at This Week any Sunday morning he likes, whether Paul Krugman sits next to him or not.

It's why despite his horrible record and affairs and total hypocrisy he may be the standard bearer of his party, the party of family values, in 2012.

And notice, John Edwards won't.

Wednesday, May 20

Why is this wrestler better on torture than the President?

Okay that's just the intellectual snob in me talking. But we've got to talk about Elisabeth Hasselbeck's repeating loop response to torture: "Nancy Pelosi."

EH and her right-wing cohorts are obeying their rule number one: loyalty to ideology trumps all. It doesn't matter if Sarah Palin is an incompetent candidate who doesn't know Africa is a continent. She is right on "the issues" (meaning abortion, period) so we support her. It doesn't matter if Tom Delay is a crook. He is on our side. And it doesn't matter if Dick Cheney is a torturer. Hasselbeck is a good little Republican, and will call it 'enhanced interrogation' and 'legal' and 'good' because she's got to be loyal to the GOP side no matter what. And she will deflect where ever she can by bringing up Nancy Pelosi everytime someone says 'torture.'

Notice how Jesse The Body smacks that down. Clothesline, baby.

But Elisabeth Hasselbeck's mistake is expecting that we on the Left think the same way. That we will rise to Pelosi's defense just because she is on our 'side.'

First of all, Pelosi isn't on our side, she's on HER side, or she would have tried to stop Bush/Cheney with impeachment hearings instead of waiting out their term, consciously and deliberately, for her own party's chance at power.

And secondly, we progressives simply don't roll that way.

Last month, my dad (who reads this blog, thanks) said [in response to this post], 'you're not going to lighten up on Obama, are you?'

Not on torture, no way, Dad.

I guess it's too much, way too much, to ask Elisabeth Hasselbeck to read this article in The Nation, which concludes:

By acquiescing to the cover-up of unpleasant truths in the treatment of prisoners, Pelosi contributed to the betrayal of the ideal of public accountability that is the bedrock of our system of governance, which Congress is charged with protecting.

That's not eating our own, Miss Hasselbeck. "Our own" is the Constitution of the United States, and the rule of law, including international law, for which it stands. It's not something Dick Cheney can pay John Yoo to write IN A FUCKING MEMO to conduct illegal TORTURE to support an illegal war.

And Ms. Hasselbeck? You don't need to shout Mrs. Pelosi's name to defend yourself and your party. Madame Speaker will be sitting right next to you this afternoon at the Torture Enablers' Ladies' Auxiliary Tea. Call her first so you don't wear the same pastel St. John's suit. That would be embarrassing.

Tuesday, May 19

Just got a letter of resignation.

Dear David Sirota,

Your letter of resignation from political blogging was received here with a heavy heart. I'm puzzled by the subject line "in case you think I'm dead and gone" since, you know, you showed up for work yesterday with a pertinent and important post on healthcare. Anyhow. The riots in the left-wing blogworld caused by your absence may now abate, but it does leave me wondering why we always burn down the liquor stores first.

I totally understand your need to re-assess your commitment to political blogging. Regardless of what that douche Mark Penn says, blogging does not pay. It doesn't pay, it won't pay. I wish to God I could change that.

I laughed out loud when you said you'd be "Mostly Off the Grid" at the America's Future Now conference. Really. The Jersey Shore with family trip, and especially the rural China trip from June 18th to July 12th, sound like just the kind of activities that will take your mind off of how you can make more of a living. [Memo to my own readers: from June 18 to July 12, I'll be on hold with the food stamp people. Call-waiting will be turned off at Casa Blue Gal unless you're calling from rural China. Thanks.]

Reading between the lines of your letter, the whole "kitchen cabinet" discussions you've apparently had, it appears you are wanting to appear to make more of a commitment to paid work. Telling us you're quitting except for "one post a day in the morning, ...[a] syndicated column... upcoming new book, and monthly articles for In These Times"? I hope the kitchen cabinet is more gullible than I am.

And time will tell if your writing is "less hard-core political and far-more cultural than my previous writing." We're all dialing back the politics because, um, it's not an election year. I double-dog dare you to write about "culture" on the day Newt Gingrich announces his candidacy for 2012.

But finally, I have to respond directly to these paragraphs, David:

The reason for this change is fairly simple: I'm in need of something more creative, and I want to get back to the basics of writing. It is my passion, it is what I love - and I am interested in more than just the hard-core political world, whose media (blogospheric/magazines/TV shows/etc.) and activist outlets in the Dear Leader Era I believe are becoming less and less creative, more and more sycophantic, and ultimately, completely unstimulating.

I say that with an asterisk, though - and that asterisk is In These Times and OpenLeft. Those are two of the few places where I think generally creative and bold-thinking writing is still being done - by journalists, front-pagers, diarists and commenters. That's why, in fact, I am going to keep writing on a limited basis for both.

Now you're a douchebag.

I'm amazed how you clutch your pearls with one hand and wipe your brow with the other, while still finding the manual dexterity to circle jerk your personal colleagues and backhand the rest of the hard-working writers of greater Blogsylvania. While resisting tossing the old "heigh ho and fuck you" canard onto the floor, I actually get where you're coming from. You're coming from a terrarium where the only blogs you read in addition to Open Left and In These Times is Daily Kos and Huff, and where your perception of the blogosphere comes from Chris "hey this is the blog elite lifeboat and there's no room for anyone else" Bowers. I also get that you were treated like shit by Kos commenters. Dude, that's their job.

I never thought I would have to repeat the Blue Gal Rule for Paying Attention to Commenters (tm) to someone with your experience, but here goes:

If they don't blog themselves, and they're assholes, fuck 'em.

Someone who has a web presence and is an a-hole, you can link them and chide them and point back to specific instances, etc. They have street cred for commenting at your place. David, you show a distinct lack of blog cred yourself when you allow your feelings to be hurt by a bunch of has-been bottom feeders who don't realize the Kos so-called 'blog empire' died when they could no longer say the three little words, "fuck President Bush". End of story.

There will be no panties parting gift for you, my friend. We can't miss you if you won't go away.

Monday, May 18

Spot The Difference

Well, Dr. Tattelbaum says Mrs. Newt Gingrich is more of a "treasure in heaven" kinda gal.

Salon tonight.

Three Turn-Off Words?

"Honey, I redecorated!"

"He's a co-worker."

"By Maureen Dowd"

Twitter was on fire yesterday with the "three turn off words" meme and the whole Maureen Dowd plagiarized Josh Marshall thing.

In part this is just a really bad thing Dowd did, but also she's still being punished for writing a book called "Are Men Necessary?"

Apparently, they are.

But MoDo really got the last laugh on all of us who stop reading after her by-line, since we actually read stuff by Josh Marshall all the time.

Sunday, May 17

No, I'm not telling you to get off the goddam internet.

It's just that today I will get the kids to the park (yesterday at another park was kind of Woodstock-like, you know, three feet of mud, but we played anyway.)

Plus I'm going to clean the whole stinking house. Day of rest with three kids at home? The gods must be joking.

For those of you who would like to give up the internet vicariously by reading an article on the internet about giving up the internet (and NPR and news and even Google, fer goodness sake), this is a good article in a good online mag.

Finally, if what you're reading this moment (thanks) doesn't 'count' as an actual blog post, at this writing the top two posts at Crooks are by yours truly. Happy Sunday.

Friday, May 15

The main concern of Washington

and yeah, Nancy, you're part of the problem

Cuz there's "inside the beltway" and "inside the beltway."

First, what Glenn Greenwald said on twitter earlier today:

So amazing how it took petty partisan bickering over Nancy Pelosi to get most of the American media finally interested in our torture regime...

How they think: "I spent 7 years ignoring my govt's torture, but now there's drama over what Pelosi knew, and I'm suddenly fascinated."

Over 100 detainee deaths in U.S. custody? Not interested. Squabbling between Newt and Nancy? Convene panels and explore endlessly.

Of course that's the case, because the Washington media is just like Pelosi herself.

Her loyalty has always been to the Inside the Beltway cabal that allows for perpetual power to remain with the powerful. That's why impeachment was off the table in 2006, etc. It's why Rupert Murdoch can hold fundraising lunches for Hillary Clinton who showed up to take the check, and she also goes to tony book launching parties in Georgetown with John Sununu, where Grover Norquist raised a glass with Terry McAuliffe. I thought I was kidding back in September 2006 when I suggested a certain DC party was followed by waterboarding. Now I'm not so sure.

I hope they investigate the hell out of this and we the voters fire anyone who knew anything about this -- water torture and worse -- happening in the name of the American People -- including the Speaker of the House. Too bad she couldn't warn Leon Panetta over chardonnay at the Correspondent's Dinner: "don't pay any attention when I call your agency a bunch of liars later this week, Leon, I'll have you over for canapes in June."

But I don't have enough faith in the Washington establishment investigating itself, or in The American People's (TM) attention span allowing for more than a mini soap opera lasting no longer than an Arlington, Virginia cookout.

Obama, too gets a reprise from the archives:

He, too, will do what it takes to maintain a hold on power. I hope it's for a good cause, but I expect WE have a job to do, to convince him that jettisoning/prosecuting anyone who protected torture, is in his administration's best interest, particularly internationally.

Update: Investigative reporter Bob Windrem told Chris Matthews tonight.

"If there is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or something called that, is going to go further and further and further into this issue, ...and ultimately what you're going to see is a lot of people, not just in the White House, not just in the CIA, but in Congress, having had some enabling role in all of this."

And the followup question from Chris Matthews, who was way better than Keith Olbermann tonight (for once).

How did this Vice President get operational control of the CIA?

Certainly the House Intelligence Committee has to answer for that. So does the goddamn mofo Washington media. And the cowardice, of all of them, (yeah I'm talking to you, David Gregory) in the face of political charges of "not supporting the troops" and "hating America," caring more about keeping their cushy jobs than about country? Hey, I'm not the one throwing Nancy Pelosi under the bus. She's crawled way lower than that.

Dear Elizabeth Edwards:

We will say "Rielle Hunter" again unless you bring us...another shrubbery!


Elizabeth Edwards has been willing to talk about most anything in interviews about her new memoir that details her husband John's affair, but only under one condition: Interviewers must agree not to mention the name of the other woman in their broadcasts or stories.

Really this is as silly as anything Miss California has done. If the name of the woman your husband cheated with was a big secret you'd say it loud enough. This is not about your dignity.

Honey, dignity doesn't take a book deal.

Realize this...

If you hadn't made the stink, I wouldn't be blogging about it, and neither would Arianna F-ing Huffington.

PS. Your book sounds boring.

What I'm Reading

The Monk Upstairs by Tim Farrington

I've wanted to blog more about books, let alone find time to read books more often. One thing I've found is, if I am able to read even for ten minutes before I get kids ready for school, the process of getting kids ready is easier. It may be having a moment for myself first, or it may just be the meditative process of reading, but whatever it is, it's become part of my morning routine.

The Monk Upstairs by Tim Farrington is not for the hardcore atheist. One character is a former monk, and his wife is a lapsed Catholic with a bit of resentment for her upbringing. When the wife's daughter insists on going to Mass with her kind and gentle-to-a-fault stepdad, the mom is a bit put out--she wants to find a "nun with a stick" and show her daughter the kind of Catholicism she grew up with.

This is a domestic story, with grandma and mom and daughter and this strong yet weak guy who bears all and forgives all and yet seems very human. He's not Jesus, there's enough sex in this book to avoid that comparison, but he faces challenges with introspection that has meaning and makes the story more than just a plot driven ride to the end. I'm enjoying it.

Plenty of copies available at Abebooks for a buck plus shipping.

PS I understand the big blog I write for from time to time (like, nightly) will be having a fundraiser soon. Posting will be shorter/lighter while I work on some videos for Mr. Amato. He's a peach.

Wednesday, May 13

Five Links for Wednesday

Image from Phawker. Definitely a blog to watch.

Dang I am so late to this, but FranIam held a fundraiser and I just sent her the teensy little amount left in my PayPal account. I can attest that when you do ask for money on your blog, every little tiny contribution touches your heart. If you read her and have it, give a little. Thanks.

Two Political Junkies has Going Galt Magazine. Hilarious.

Also, Danger Will Robinson at DistributorCapNY.

When a dominatrix makes you happy and proud to be a knitter, that's a fine post indeed. Thanks, Bitchy. (Your houndstooth rocks in more ways than one.)

Tuesday, May 12

Why prosecuting torture matters.

Lots of blogs today will express outrage and disgust over Harold Ford's stupidity yesterday on Hardball. We in Left Blogsylvania (yeah that's for you Tweety) have said the same thing about Rice and Cheney. How can they defend torture, and even say it was a good thing? Liars.

Couple things we have to remember in all of this:

1. None of these torture defenders have any accountability to the voters of this country.

2. By publishing and discussing their positions in the name of 'fair and balanced' the news media is legitimizing the torture "debate."

3. Most importantly, the world is watching.

I am worried for our country and its position in the world. I actually hope it becomes necessary for the current leadership to denounce in world court the words of Cheney, Rice, and Ford specifically as not speaking for the United States of America. There is a historical precedent here: one of the reasons Brown versus Board of Education came into being was the international pressure on the United States to be better on race relations versus the Soviet Union. Derrick Bell's book on the case has a chapter on "Brown as an Anti-Communist Decision," and this page is worth reading in the context of world opinion on America's torture policy under Bush.

If we are not better on human rights than so-called Islamic extremists, the terrorists win. We can't let Dick Cheney be an alternative voice in this country. This is not about his free speech, it is about legitimizing an idea at once abhorrent, vicious, and damaging to the United States.

Chris Matthews was right to call out Ford, but it's not enough. Matthews would not allow some Klansman to come on his show and talk about race relations in the interest of giving equal time to all ideas. "Fair and balanced" does not include the N word. It should not include the "torture was justified" words, either. It's time for corporate media to step up and silence this fake debate for the sake of, well, patriotism.

UPDATE: Ted Koppel agrees. Be aware, this is fucking hard to watch.

The really essential question is at 6:17. What does Cheney represent? We can't let him represent us on any level. Koppel is of course wrong that a Justice Department memo justifies any legality of torture. But I suppose if MSNBC / Olbermann / Matthews / Maddow are going to cover this obscenity, the discussion should happen now instead of when the nation is out of its mind again. But it's not a debate. There is no other side in this that deserves consideration.

Monday, May 11

CODEPINK Mother's Day Vigil in DC 2009

It looks even better than I thought it would. Such a privilege to participate in the knitting of this banner.

The entire banner is a quote from Julia Ward Howe: "We will not raise our children to kill another mother’s child."

When I'm tempted to feel bad about CODEPINK's image as rabblerousers, undesirables, you know, I refuse to type gender slurs here but you know where to find them...

I think about suffragettes in jail and how much harder it must have been for them.

You can see more images at the flickr page linked and at CODEPINK's Mother's Day Homepage.

Salon tonight 9 Eastern. Hope to see you then.

Sunday, May 10

Happy Mother's Day.

From The Absence of Alternatives, a very well-written blog by a woman who happens to be a mommy:

"Mom, when do you want your Mother's Day party to be?"

"Hmmm. I was hoping that I could just relax. I don't really feel like a party since I don't want to clean up afterwards."

"Hmm, you should be like Obama's wife."


"Remember how she went to ten [inaugural] parties and she didn't even complain? You should be more like her."

The least I can do is keep the computer off today. I hope all you other moms have a wonderful Mother's Day.

Friday, May 8

A lovely lesson for all of us.

From Frank Capra's You Can't Take It With You (1938). Of course, it takes place in a bank during The Great Depression. Well worth five and a half minutes, if you ask me.

I pray we bloggers, writers, artists can do our work without waiting for our ship to come in. Like Mr. Poppins, the "ship" is in the work. I don't advocate abandoning responsibility (I'm a single, 'unemployed' struggling mother of three young kids after all) but I'm committed to my writing and not waiting for riches. And I'm so grateful for the riches that daily creativity brings and the opportunity to make a difference with my kids every single day.

I've seen a few friends lose their jobs in this recession and inevitably they tell me they hated their jobs. We all need to eat, but something's gotta give on the work score. I hope we can, with God's grace and some single-payer healthcare, redefine work so we can be useful AND satisfied at the end of our weeks. Life's too damn short, know what I mean?

Elections have consequences.

Aw jeez. As I said on Twitter, I'm convinced that David Plouffe has autism, because a neurotypical sharing a stage with Karl Rove woulda slugged him thirty 'leven times by now.

His WSJ article, click before Rupert puts a TAX on reading it (ha)....

In the Bush White House, I served on a five-person committee charged with recommending nominees for Supreme Court vacancies. We had the opportunity to do so twice, though admittedly it took us three nominees.

Oh come on Karl, out with it. The one out of three candidates Rove's committee came up with was Harriet Miers, chosen purely for ideology rather than competence.

Aside: What is it with Republicans doing that vis a vis women candidates? Miers, Palin, Katherine Harris, Michelle Bachmann. They are there to look pretty and say the crazy without displaying a smidgen of intelligence. And it's not like Olympia Snowe is unavailable, but she probably won't spout their political ambergris. If I didn't know it for sure, I'd have to guess that Rupert and Rush and Hannity secretly hate women or something.

Anyhow my point, and I do have one, is to lol over Rove's final sentence.

This confirmation battle will remind people that elections have consequences, few of which are as important or lasting as a Supreme Court nomination.

Oh Karl honey, you didn't need to remind me of that.


On topic...

there's a perfect example of "Why Republicans Lost" over at this old election time post at Kelly's 101 things. Kelly asked House of Representatives candidates John Dingle (D) and John Lynch (R) the following question:

Michigan continues to lose manufacturing jobs. What can the federal government do to help stem those losses or replace the jobs?

The Democrat answered this question in 317 words, some of which were words like "manufacturing" and "jobs." He elaborated a bit with words like "education," "training," and mentioned specifically two pieces of legislation that will address the problem.

Here is the Republican's answer in its entirety:
John Lynch: First, keep taxes low and regulations fewer. Second, beef up funding for fixing the roads. Better roads would make Michigan a more attractive place to live and work. Third, encourage entrepreneurs - make it as easy as possible to start a new business.
Cut taxes while beefing up funding. Fix the roads and encourage entrepreneurs. I guess entrepreneurs are the ones "beefing" without tax revenue. Mister Lynch? Your answer severely lacks in the beef department. So does your congressional career, since you lost.

And I'm sure Dingle's answer was written with the advantage of incumbency interns, but this intern gets points for, um, answering the question.

Elections have consequences, folks. Karl Rove said so.

Thursday, May 7

Prayers for today? What?

[Image stolen from Bay of Fundie]

The "National Day of Prayer" is a silly convention that Washington DC uses to suck up to the constituency that is comforted by such nonsense. If you pray daily this kind of political fellating makes little difference, and if you don't, the National Day of Prayer "reminder" is jingoism, pure and simple.


On topic, Americans United has a new homepage design and an article on this National Day of Prayer mumbo jumbo -- well worth a click.


An update to my Kent State Massacre story: the sister of slain student Allison Krause has a blog and a very meaningful post on the anniversary of her sister's death. Check it out. Thanks to Sad But True at Les Enrages for bringing that to my attention.

Wednesday, May 6

Monty Python and the Rebranding of the GOP

I dream of Karl Rove in Grand Theft Auto.

No, really. I had a dream last night that my car was "repossessed," which is weird not only because my car is paid for but because Karl Rove was supervising the "auto-rendition," and I knew he had a memo from the previous President saying it was legal and I had no recourse whatsoever to get my car back. Then I woke up.

Tuesday, May 5

Crappy Cinco de Mayo!

NAFTA's sad irony of the day. The Cinco de Mayo panties are made in the USA and the five buck Old Navy July 4 USA Flag t-shirts are made in Mexico.

Really, I try to stay positive, but first I find out Dom DeLuise died last night and then we all can't seem to stop talking about Miss California/NOM's breast augmentation again.


She what?

With all due respect, she just needs to do the fricking Playboy spread and disappear already.

(Happy Cinco de Mayo.)

Monday, May 4

Kent State, 1970

You can read what I wrote here and here about the anniversary. It's today.

And yeah, you know you've been at this blogging thing a while when you can just refer to your own archives.

A curse on the record company that pulled "Four Dead in Ohio" from history videos on the event. What the hell are they thinking....

Salon tonight, hope to chat with you then. No download or registration needed.

Sunday, May 3

Saturday, May 2

Christy, it's called "May."

Christy Hardin Smith over at FireDogLake has nothing but her garden to blog about? Honey, that's the point this month.

The rest of you don't forget to post regularly, but it's also okay to steal this image above and use it once or twice or thrice this month. Also, be aware that traffic is likely to be off by at least 20%. No big deal: people are doing something somewhere called "outside." I noticed this when a friend said yarn stores see the same dip. Don't panic. Everyone will be back.

Saturday Song

Hey, this guy's good.

Friday, May 1

Does this have anything to do with the whole teabag/testicles thing?

Wash your hands with soap and clean running water. Visit for more information.

Really what is the 'em! in this poster? 'Cuz I'm thinking 'deliberately vague' on this one. I'm also thinking photoshop potential and Glenn Beck, and it's grossing me out over here.

Welcome home.

Love that welcome mat. But here's a nicer welcome:

Thank the good lord, two blogs are back in action after a hiatus. Agitprop, of which I am "a proud team member who never ever posts over there", is back with Comandante Agi, the ever-brilliant Montag, and some others too talented to mention here.

Also too, Thorne's World is back and bringin' the artistic magic better than you remember.

Visit, blogroll, and enjoy....

Mommy rules?

John W. Golden's wonderful "By Order of the Management" Stickers available on Etsy. No promotional consideration, etc. 

 My middle child daughter surprised me the other day: "We have hardly ANY rules at our house." 

 She'd been visiting a friend's house, obviously, where they didn't eat in the living room, cut paint and paste on the dining room table, you know, GOOD parenting. 

 I thought about it for a minute, and realized just how many rules there ARE in my house:
  • Very little is as important as what you children are interested in.
  • Mommy will be there whenever she possibly can, which is most of the time.
  • Don't hurt each other and don't hurt yourself. When mommy says "dangerous"? That's the law.
  • Making something is much more valuable than buying something. Shopping is not a leisure activity.
Recently I had to sit down with all the children and explain to them that getting to school, church, and yes, BED on time were essential to 'making things work' around here. Getting homework done was also required. That's four things, and even my youngest could handle remembering that (and has to have her own 'homework' as a result, ha). 

 And last night same middle child asked THAT question: "which of us do you like the most?" 

 Oh, there's a very big rule about that. Mommies MUST like all their children the same. 

"Oh. I saw something...." She thought about it for a second. "But that was just a TV show." 


 *** So, thinking about this some more and I'm kind of shocked that with a few variations, I'm actually using the exact same rules I grew up with. So my question for parents is, are you? Do you do things the opposite of your parents or the same? I don't want anyone to feel they have to dig out and vent the painful aspects of their childhood. Goodness knows I've got mine. But I happily invite you to tell us what a good parent you are, and how rules and parenting fit in the path of doing the best you can.

Why we need women on the Supreme Court

Nina Totenberg relays one exchange (at 3:48 at the link) during the Supreme Court hearing.

At this point in the argument, a gender difference reared its head. Justice Breyer suggested that it's no big deal when kids strip, after all, they do it for gym class all the time. Savanna Redding didn't reveal her body beyond her underclothes, said Breyer. Justice Ginsburg, the court's only female justice, bristled. Her eyes flashing with anger, she noted that there's no dispute that Savana was required to shake out her bra and the crotch of her panties. Ginsburg seemed to all but shout, "Boys may like to preen in the locker room, but girls, particularly teenage girls, do not."

After hearing that, I'm beginning to think we need a couple women wrestlers on the court to take Breyer down after saying something that stupid. Not to mention just how badly Scalia needs a couple hundred dope slaps.