Monday, January 31, 2005


Well, I just don’t know if I can deal with this.

According to this Ayn Rand Folke Type personality quiz

(You can get the link off Infinite Stitch

I am, and I quote, an

SRCL--Sober Rational Constructive Leader.

Which makes me an “Ayn Rand ideal.”

Ick, I say.

What is an “Ayn Rand ideal,” you ask?

Why, according to the site, it is someone who cares “absolutely nothing what other people think.”

The site goes on to add: “This somehow attracts people to you. Treat them well, use them wisely, and ascend to your rightful rank.”

Good God Almighty.

Smart People Don't Buy Jesus

Religion & IQ

Here’s an interesting webpage
(found via a link from Fredrick , in the comment section off s.z.’s World’O’Crap )

It’s about whether smart people tend to be religious – and specifically whether smart people tend to be religious conservatives.

I reckon you can guess what the data shows.

But here’s the bit of data Fredrick cited that got me to go look at the study: the mean SAT scores for religious vs antireligious folk:

Mean SATs for strongly antireligious (1148), moderately anti-religious (1119), slightly antireligious (1108), and religious (1022).

The more religious a person is, the lower the mean SAT tends to be. Now why would that be? Are religious people just dumber? Or is there something about the religious worldview that hinders the development of critical thinking skills?


(Lots of other interesting stuff on that page, by the way. Go have a look. And go visit Fredrick's blog, which is also full of interesting stuff.)

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Some Stuff

Over on her site (, Malkin's thinking she's scoring big by chiming in with the rest of the Winger clique to wonder, ever so cunningly, why the bloggers on the left aren't cheerleading Iraqi election-day -- you know, like the Winger blogosphere is?

Like any Real American Would?

"With the exception of Sullivan," she says.

I think it's really cute how the Wingers think Sully's a liberal.

But here's what I guess they haven't noticed about Iraq -- the bit that's not worth cheering about. The part that makes us wonder why all of them are doing all this dancing -- you know, besides all that torture and the 300 billion dollars and all the dead soldiers and the blown up infrastructure and the increase in terrorist activity and stuff?

This bit:

The figures reveal that 3,274 Iraqi civilians were killed and 12,657 wounded in conflict-related violence during the period. Of those deaths, 60 per cent — 2,041 civilians — were killed by the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi security forces. A further 8,542 were wounded by them. Insurgent attacks claimed 1,233 lives and wounded 4,115 people in the same period.

So, you know, Ms Malkin?

It's nice if this democracy thing works out for the Iraqis -- if it does. Which you might notice the question is still out on. But just saying you've done something doesn't mean you have done it. And just pretending you're the good guys doesn't make you the good guys. And the people we've killed? They're actually dead.

Sorry if I'm not doing a lot of dancing about all of this.

(Link via

Thursday, January 27, 2005

300 Billion dollars, How Many Dead?

And Bush is on an endorphin rush?

So says his cheerleading squad, anyway, which, as James Wolcott notes, is just a bit disturbing.

(Via Atrios

This guy, our President, deals with bad news by pretending it doesn't happen -- well, that's one problem. He constructs his own reality -- which is fine, when you're a rich man's son messing around with a baseball team, and probably not so fine when you're running a world power, but okay -- but his attitude toward death is seriously messed up.

It's like he doesn't actually understand that when people die, they're really dead.

The famous incident where he mocked the woman on death row, imitating her voice as she begged for her life.

The way he's treating the death of our soldiers in Iraq as though they're not happening, as though they're just political noise or something.

The way he thinks bombing Iraqi women and children to pieces is just no bid deal -- it's like all of this is just some distant game to him.

Like death isn't real to him.

Or maybe other people aren't.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Pushing Back the Clock

The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History

I saw this book in the bookstore about a month ago, leafed through it, and tossed it aside, shaking my head in disgust.

Of course, I knew it would be beloved by the same folks that embraced Ann Coulter and Rush – the folks who have no real interest in whether a thing is true or not, just in whether in shores up their worldview – but I’m still discouraged to find out it’s number eight on the NYT bestseller list.

Here’s what today’s NYTimes editorial has to say about it, in part:

More than a history, it is a checklist of arch-conservative talking points. The New Deal public works programs that helped millions survive the Depression were a "disaster," and Social Security "damaged the economy." The Marshall Plan, which lifted up devastated European nations after World War II, was a "failed giveaway program." And the long-discredited theory of "nullification," which held that states could suspend federal laws, "isn't as crazy as it sounds."

It is tempting to dismiss the book as fringe scholarship, not worth worrying about, but the numbers say otherwise. It is being snapped up on college campuses and, helped along by plugs from Fox News and other conservative media, it recently soared to No. 8 on the New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list. It is part of a boomlet in far-right attacks on mainstream history that includes books like Jim Powell's "FDR's Folly," which argues that Franklin Roosevelt made the Depression worse, and Michelle Malkin's "In Defense of Internment," a warm look back on the mass internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The editorial goes on to note the real dangers of this revisionist tack Conservatives are taking these days:

It is not surprising, in the current political climate, that liberal pieties are being challenged, and many of them ought to be. But the latest revisionist histories are disturbing both because they are so extreme - even Ronald Reagan called the Japanese internment a "grave wrong" and signed a reparations law - and because they seem intent on distorting the past to promote dangerous policies today. If Social Security contributed to the Depression, it makes sense to get rid of it now. If internment was a good thing in 1942, think what it could do in 2005. And if the 14th Amendment, which guarantees minorities "equal protection of the law," was never properly ratified - as Mr. Woods argues - racial discrimination may be constitutional after all.

I keep trying to convince myself that the Right can’t really be trying to take us back to the world where people of color were routinely abused, where women had no rights, where anyone who wasn’t a white male adult Christian could be treated like a criminal – I mean, they can’t really want to go back to that country, can they?

But read James Dobson.

Listen to Rush Limbaugh.

Have a look at Ann Coulter’s columns, sometime, if you can stand it (and yes, I know she’s female – so what? So’s Michelle Malkin.)

That’s exactly what they’re arguing for.

More Virginia Laws

Don't go acting black in Virginia, hear?

Legislator Algie Howell, who's a Democrat, by the way -- don't let it be said that I never go after one of ours! -- wants to make it against the law to wear pants that so low-slung they expose your undies; to ride sitting low-down in your car; and to crank up the volume.

Hip-hop and rap-music artists, mostly young black men, have made wearing low-slung pants fashionable.

Howell says it's got nothing to do with race, though. He says if he sees white folk doing these things, they should be arrested too.

Howell said he was prompted to introduce the bill after witnessing an accident in which the driver had the seat positioned so far back he could not see that the driver in front of him had on a turn signal.

The impetus for the loud-stereo bill was partly from his own experience of having his grandchildren in the car with him and having other drivers pull up blasting music, some of it filled with profanities.

You know, I understand this guy's motives. I do. I too hate the thump of the music from the SUV next to mine at the stoplight. It's annoying. And when it's full of words like bitch and whore it's more than annoying, it's offensive. (When it's a Lee Greenwood song, it's really offensive, but never mind.) I also don't especially like to look at some guy's underwear, most days.

That's the thing. It's annoying. It's offensive. But that's all it is. Is that something we really need laws about? To drag people into court -- to waste our police officer's time and clog up our courts dealing with?

You know, I'm just thinking not.

Mr. Howell should find a better use for his time.!news!politics&s=1031773094959

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Billions and Billions

Bush wants 80 billion more, for a war that's already cost more than 200 billion dollars. And has no end in sight.

And for what?

What was it for? He doesn't know that. What's he after? He mouths something about "freedom," and "standing against terrorists," but these are just words.

This is what he's doing with our money:

The forthcoming request highlights how much war spending has soared past initial White House estimates. Early on, then-presidential economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey placed Iraq costs at $100 billion to $200 billion, only to see his comments derided by administration colleagues.

By pushing war spending beyond $300 billion, the latest proposal would approach nearly half the $613 billion the United States spent for World War I or the $623 billion it expended for the Vietnam War, when the costs of those conflicts are translated into 2005 dollars.

Not a Joke, Unfortunately

Here's a joke being told by the Republicans at one of the Inaugural Balls:

[Rich] Little said he missed and adored the late President Ronald Reagan and "I wish he was here tonight, but as a matter of fact he is," and he proceeded to impersonate Reagan, saying, "You know, somebody asked me, 'Do you think the war on poverty is over?' I said, 'Yes, the poor lost.'"

The crowd went wild.

Isn't that just a hoot?

Those compassionate conservatives.

Next time some Rush Limbaugh wannabe tells you that government programs to aid the poor actually hurt the poor, and so conservatives who want to cut these programs are actually really truly more compassionate than the evil liberals who want to enslave the poor by making them dependant on government charity?

You just remember that joke.

(From David Corn's blog:

Hey -- Good News!

Schools across the country -- 5,100 educators from 36 states -- are taking up a “No Name-Calling Week,” a week in which students won’t insult each other about anything – appearance, background, or behavior.

Interestingly, conservative groups object. Guess why?

[The program] has the backing of the Girl Scouts of America and Amnesty International, but a handful of conservative critics have zeroed in on references to harassment based on sexual orientation.

See, mocking little kids is okay, so long as you’re mocking them for being gay and stuff.

Monday, January 24, 2005

How Gay Happens

In case any of you out there in the blue states were confused? We here in Arkansas have it figured out.

Also what's wrong with it.

Here's a letter from the local paper:

Just in case all y'all was wondering about dressing your little boys in girly clothes. Or, you know, PINK or anything.

Grade Inflation?

Grade inflation?

Princeton has decided to cap the number of A’s it gives, in the brave battle to stem the tide of grade inflation, yap yap yap.

As you might guess, the result is students turning against students and, thus, I imagine, less learning taking place. Go read about it if you care:

I have my doubts that grade inflation exists, A, and B, what if it did?*

What’s the deal with grades anyway?

What is our job as professors? To make sure, for some existential grade review board out there somewhere, that an A is really “worth” an A, whatever that means?

Or to teach the History of the English Language to all of the students in the class as well as we possibly can?

And, if (by some freakish chance) all of the students in the class do indeed learn the History of the English Language brilliantly in a given semester, are we then to give only 35% of them an A?

And yes, I know that the odds of all of them doing so brilliantly are not good.

On the other hand: to approach the class with the attitude that only 35% of them are going to do it brilliantly – to approach the class with the attitude that I will give 65% of them a B or lower, no matter what – seems to decide on failure beforehand.

My job is not to fail students: my job is, in fact, not to grade students. My job is to educate students.

*There was an essay by Alfie Kohn in the Chronicle of Higher Ed on November 8, 2002 on this subject – don’t know that it’s still accessible, but you can try:

Called “The Dangerous Myth of Grade Inflation.”

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Here’s good news, though it’s only good news for us: we got the kid’s first AR reading report on Friday (for those without kids in the school system, AR= Accelerated Reading) and she’s reading on the third grade fourth month level, with an average of 96% on her tests. We’re pretty impressed. She says her language teacher told her they would have to go across the hall (to the upper school classroom) to get her books from now on, since the books in the kindergarten rooms are all too easy for her.

We love the Montessori school.

This is her third school – we had her in a Christian pre-school, back when we lived in North Carolina, and then the public school here, last year (her first shot at kindergarten), and while those were both okay schools, neither of them were what I would call successful experiences.

The Christians were perfectly nice folk, mind you. Methodists. Methodists are not lethal Christians. The pre-school they ran was six blocks from our house, and (important, because we were so pitifully broke in NC) it was cheap. And their prayers were harmless things along the nature of “God is good / let us thank him for our food” sort.


The kid started coming home from school with questions about toys – “Is this a girl-toy or a boy-toy?” she would ask me, holding her toys up – and about jobs: “Girls can be firemen, right? Because Austin says only boys can be firemen.”

Blue had been her favorite color since she started knowing what colors were. But she hadn’t been at that school for two months before she announced to me that pink was her favorite color now.

It went like this:

“What’s your favorite color?” she asked me.

“Oh,” I said. “Blue, mostly. I like gray, too, though. And green sometimes. But I guess blue. What’s yours?”

“Pink,” she said, flatly.

“Oh, yeah? I thought you liked blue.”

“No. I like pink.”

“Okay. What kind of pink? Pale or bright?”

“Girls like pink. Blue is a boy’s color.”

Then at the first conference, her teacher, a sweet little child of about twenty-two, very blonde and dressed in white and shell-pink, told us that the kid was doing just wonderful, that she was learning well, that she had some trouble with skipping (who knew they graded on skipping, but apparently they do), and cutting with scissors, but that they were working on it, and then mention, very sweetly, that the kid was “much happier” on the days when she was wearing pink and had bows in her hair.

“Huh,” we said. “Really. What about that.”

“Yes,” said the teacher. “We’ve all noticed it.”

Now if I was a Levitican parent, or one of those parents who actually believed that in-born gender nonsense, I might have bought this. Might have smacked myself up the side of the head and said, “Wow! My kid wants dolls and make-up after all! All that silliness about liking dinosaurs and science DVDs and piano, bah, that was just some wacky aberration, she's really much happier with Barbies and bows!”

But luckily I had actually read a few books and knew that (a) observers tend to see exactly what they want to see – so the Christian pre-school teachers wanted to see my little girl being happier when she wore pink bows, and decided she was happier in pink bows; not to mention socialization pressure -- in other words (b) both the teachers and the others kids were giving her their approval when she wore pink bows, so of course she would be happier.

What solution to this?

Dress her in pink and bows every single day?

Because, you see, pink was the only color that was “okay for girls” at that school. Boys could like any color: green, red, black, gray, blue.

Girls had to like pink.

Boys could want any job – fireman, doctor, soldier, farmer, astronaut, whatever.

Girls had to be teachers or mothers.

Boys could play with any toys.

Girls had to play with dolls or the kitchen corner.

Which – right there – is the problem with Levitican society.

The solution that presented itself was moving to Arkansas and putting her in public school, which we hoped would be better, and wasn’t, since all of Fort Smith, Arkansas, is Levitican.

Same rules applied (not with the teachers. At least her teacher was better. I liked her teacher a lot, in fact.).

But the students were all Levitican Christians, and so were their parents, and the same exact questions kept coming home, and the same rules seemed to apply on the playground, and among the social pack – except stepped up a notch, because the kids were a bit older – and, worse, the parents were moving in on this Jewish child, who was, of course, GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL, unless they saved her soul, by some way, any way at all (hook or crook) getting her to their church.

And girls had to like pink.

Girls had to wear pink.

She could wear other colors sometimes, but she had to wear pink a lot. Most of the time. At least two or three times a week. She said it was because she liked pink, because pink was her favorite color, because she loved pink. We didn’t argue. She did a lot of talking about it – we did that conversation over and over:

“What’s your favorite color?

“I have a lot of colors I like. Gray. Green. Blue. I like blue a lot. I like green a lot. Black is a really good color too. What’s your favorite color?”

“Pink,” she says, furiously. “I LIKE PINK.”

At least once a month, we would have that conversation.

Once or twice, I tried to have the enlightened liberal parent dialogue with her: “You know,” I said. “It isn’t true that certain colors are boy colors and certain colors are girl colors. Some people believe that, but those people are wrong. Yap yap yap blar blar blar blar you do get what I’m saying right? And who are you going to believe, some five year old brat in your kindergarten class, or me? Didn’t you notice I have a Ph.D.?

“Yeah,” she said. “But I LIKE PINK.”

So this year we moved her to the Montessori school. She had to repeat kindergarten there, cause Montessori school has a different way of teaching than public school does (boy, do they – do you know that Montessori school teaches algebra starting in kindergarten?)—but that’s okay with us.

It’s a lot better now.

At the Montessori school, we do have some Levitican Christians – the girl whose mother won’t let her daughter do Halloween because God doesn’t approve is one, I’m sure.

But we also have a number of Muslim families, and Jewish families, and Indian families.

And when the teachers teach about jobs people can do, they bring in parents who are doing those jobs – and the parents at the Montessori school who have jobs like doctor and professor and fireman and soldier are of both genders and all races and religions.

And before Winter break? My kid told the kindergarten about Hannukah. The Muslim kids told about Eid. The Christian kids told about Christmas. Everyone sang everyone’s songs. They all cut out pictures and did art.

And the kid came home a few weeks ago and said to me, “I like all the colors. All the colors are good.”

“Yeah,” I said back. “Me, too. Colors are good.”

So there you go.

Sponge-Bob -- Gay?

Here's another excellent post from Dave over on Orcinus (he's on fire lately, isn't he?), about our favorite Levitican, James Dobson, and that silliness with Spongebob: it's more insidious than it appears at first glance, and no shock there.

Dobson's actually after the Southern Poverty Law Center, not Spongebob at all, and he's actually, of course, after tolerence -- he's actually, of course, after what all Leviticans are after: he wants to make this into a world where everyone is just like him: a world where there is only one answer, where every family is just like his family, where every man looks just like him and every women acts and looks just the way James wants her to look her and act and all the children do and say and think exactly what James wants them to do and say and think and then (and only then) will James feel safe.

James can't tolerate any other kind of world.

Anyway, go read Dave's post. It's detailed and thorough and lays out all the connections for you.

Here's my favorite bit of the post, since it says what I've tried to say a dozen times about tolerence, but lots more clearly than I've ever managed:

Now, it's important to understand that tolerance, unlike James Dobson's misapprehension, does not connote promotion. That is, promoting a tolerance of gay and lesbian people no more promotes homosexuality than urging tolerance of blackness or Jews promotes blackness or Judaism. It merely creates the space where they are allowed to participate as full members of society.

That includes, of course, people whose religious beliefs oppose homosexuality, or Judaism, or for that matter nonwhiteness. They're permitted to believe as they see fit. No one is demanding that people's children make friends with gays, if that runs counter to their belief system. What advocates of tolerance insist upon is that their children not beat up on gays and their children, verbally or otherwise, nor actively discriminate against them, just as we insist on the same treatment for Jewish and black children. This shouldn't be too much to ask.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


I’m looking for good news for you. Really.

This ain’t it.

Texas is considering adding kids’ BMI to their report cards.

Arkansas was planning to do the same thing last year, until a near riot among parents made the school district decide to send home private letters (at what cost I do not want to know) to parents instead. These letters told parents their kids’ weight, height, and BMI, and then added information about whether the child was “at risk” for obesity.

I’m not exactly opposed to this – it’s just collecting data – except that this was all the school district did.

They didn’t change what they were feeding kids in the school lunch room (a steady diet of chicken nuggets, pizza, corn dogs, tater tots, and cookies – the only vegetable ever served was corn).

They didn’t increase gym classes or recess time.

They didn’t stop selling candy and ice cream to the students after school every single day, as part of their school funding.

They didn’t take the soda machines out of the school hallways.

Nope. They just reported the data. Just set the students up to fail and then humiliated them for failing.

Now Texas is planning to do the same thing – and to spend how much money doing it?

I can think, off-hand, of about eighty better ways to spend that money in the public school system.

Really bad

I had this idea.

I've been so negative. Posting all this bad news.

I was going to look for good stuff to say. I was going to shut up until I found some good stuff to say.

But then Infinite Stitch posted this

over on her site.

You need to go read it.

You need to follow the link and you need to look at the pictures of the little girl and her brothers and sisters.

Then you need to tell me about all the good we're doing in Iraq.

I'm really, really waiting to hear what we're doing that's worth shooting these children's parents to death in the front seat of their car while these kids were in the back seat.

I want to know what's worth the pain these kids are going through.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

More on Summers

Here's an excellent article from Mixing Memory on why Summers is wholly wrong about girls being just wired wrong for doing math and science:

And everyone who has been leaping up to defend this guy?

Just sit down.

It's like women novelists. Women chess champs. Women surgeons.

Why weren't there any women novelists for all those centuries? And now all of sudden we have women novelists falling out of the trees?

If you had asked a community of bloggers in 1750 (had we had blogs in 1750), "Why are there so few women novelists compared to male novelists, eh? Possibly is it genetic, eh?" you might have gotten all the stupid squidgy women are just not capable of writing novels, women just aren't smart enough to write novels, women would just rather raise babies crap we're getting about this Summers statement --

But bang, a hundred years later, bazillion women novelists.

What happened?

A market for women novelists, that's what happened.

Or, to put it more clearly, guys like Summers stopped claiming that women couldn't write and started publishing women's novels, and what do you know? All of a sudden? Women are writing novels.

Open graduate schools to women?

Women start getting Ph.Ds. (In higher numbers than men do).

Let women go to medical school? Law school?

Here come the women doctors and lawyers.

Hmm. Imagine that.

Good Republican Values

So on NPR this morning, I hear, a Red State Boy was trumpeting his glee at getting to go to the part-ee in DC tomorrow.

He's a Ann Coulter fan, of course. Don't let me forget that bit. Has a boxed set of her collected works on his night-stand, for, ah, the usual purposes.

When asked what he was most looking forward to, about the inauguration ceremonies?

Why, his chance to take a crack at the Bush twins, what else?


Gotta love those family values.


And you know Miss Ann would approve. Cause this here is one boy who hasn't been all feminized by those liberal feminists -- he knows what HE wants.

Drunk twins. That's what he wants. Line'em up.


Anyone who thinks we're just getting hysterical when we worry about the Religious Right trying to set up a theocracy should (a) come live in Arkansas for awhile and (b) go read this post by Orcinus:

These Leviticans aren't actually worried about being persecuted or religious freedom. They're like the Puritans in 1602. They want to oppress the rest of us. They've got one answer, one-size fits all, one way to rule us all -- and if we let them have their way, we'll have a country that will make the Taliban look like a Sunday school picnic.

Go read.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

President Summers Says Girls Can't Do Science

He’s the president of Harvard. He’s responsible for running one of the top universities in this country. And he thinks the reason girls don’t advance as quickly as men in the fields of math and science is, well, that they’re girls.

And, among other reasons he cites as his evidence for this belief he holds?

It’s one of our old favorites.

No, not the my-little-boy-chewed-his-toast-into-the-shape-of-a-pistol story (if I had a quarter for every conservative whose little boy has chewed his toast into the shape of a pistol, women wouldn’t need any help going to Harvard – I could buy them all scholarships).

It’s the other favorite:

[Lawrence H. Summers] cited as an example one of his daughters, who as a child was given two trucks in an effort at gender-neutral upbringing. Yet he said she named them "daddy truck" and "baby truck," as if they were dolls*.

Dr. Summers doesn't know that anecdotal evidence isn't evidence. Dr. Summers doesn't know about observor error. Dr. Summers doesn't see why saying this sort of thing might, oh, alarm some of his audience. Dr. Summers is running Harvard.

Bright guy, Dr. Summers.

Much more alarming than all this, though, to me, was the final paragraph of the story:

Summers already faced criticism because the number of senior job offers to women has dropped each year of his three-year presidency. He has promised to work on the problem.

See, if you don’t believe girls are as smart or as capable as men, well, you tend not to hire them.

And you tend to have very reasonable arguments for not hiring them – they didn’t interview well, or they didn’t seem as though they would work well with the team, or their research didn’t seem promising, or what the hell ever. The point is you tend not to hire them.

You tend to end up with lots of men and few women. Maybe even without actually meaning (consciously) for that to happen.

This is what opponents of AA and hiring laws just don’t get.

*Counter-example: My daughter was terrified of dolls. My daughter, upon being given a doll and a stroller by her grandmother, threw the doll away and gave rides to her dinosaurs. Fast rides. With screaming, roaring sound effects. Dinosaur stampedes, these were.

Does this mean girls like dinosaurs better than dolls? Or even that girls are noisy?

No. Just that my kid likes/is those things.

See how that works, Dr. Summers?

In case you need another reason?

I mean, besides the arsenic scandal, and the appalling wages they pay their workers, and the fact that Tyson gives all its money to the Rethugs?

Here's why you shouldn't buy Tyson chicken:

Via DEDspace:

(And don't bother giving me yap about all life living at the expense of other life and nature red in tooth and claw and blar blar blar: yes, we need to eat. But there are humane ways to exist and then there are evil ways to exist. What's happening in the Tyson chicken factory is evil. Buddhism talks about Right Living. If you don't engage in Right Living, you can't stay on the Eight-Fold path.

For you Christians out there, what I'm meaning by this is, what you do unto the least of these? You're doing to God.

And of course Jews, well, it's our job to act right. We're here to mend the world. We've got a whole slew of rules about slaughtering animals, including chickens, humanely. Why? Because everything, including chickens, is part of God's world, and ought to be treated like part of God' world. That's why.)


Kid wants to know why a teeshirt is called a teeshirt.

The OED, my usual source for such questions, is, oddly, no help at all.

Anyone out there know?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Victory -- for now

The courts in Georgia have decided that the Cobb County Stickers -- the ones on the HS biology books warning students that evolution was just a theory -- had to go.

The Court Decides

On 13 January 2005, a federal judge ordered the removal of Cobb County’s textbook labels.

According to US District Judge Clarence Cooper, in his 44-page ruling, “In this case, the Court believes that an informed, reasonable observer would interpret the Sticker to convey a message of endorsement of religion. That is, the Sticker sends a message to those who oppose evolution for religious reasons that they are favored members of the political community, while the Sticker sends a message to those who believe in evolution that they are political outsiders.”

Judge Cooper continued, “While evolution is subject to criticism, particularly with respect to the mechanism by which it occurred, this Sticker misleads students regarding the significance and value of evolution in the scientific community for the benefit of the religious alternatives. By denigrating evolution, the School Board appears to be endorsing

From Mike Tidmus's blog -- Mike also warns this is only a limited victory, citing the National Center for Science Education Director, who points out, rightly, that Creationist Activists don't go away.

They might have lost this one. But they won't give up. And they've got their mandate now, don't they?

Happy MLK Jr Day

Which here in Arkansas is not Martin Luther King Jr Day, BTW.

Oh, no.

Here it is MLK Jr Day SLASH Robert E. Lee's Birthday.

Your dual-purpose holiday.

The purpose behind this little word-game?

I bet y'all can guess that one.

Leviticans = Satanists

At least that's what Lightning Bug over at Small Flashes is arguing, and he makes an interesting argument.

The argument runs this way: Satanism is Chritianity inverted.

Leviticans (Lightning Bug calls'em Fundies) take the two main rules of Christianity -- pay your taxes to Caeser, worship God & don't get the two mixed up -- and invert them. In other words, Leviticans are now paying taxes to their Churches and worshipping Bush: and this is the definition of Satanism.

LB makes a more intricate argument than that & the whole thing is worth reading. Go have a look.

I like this bit especially, since it's what I've seen among my students:

My own take is considerably more cynical.

The Satanic doctrine promises that Christianity is easy. No changes needed in lifestyle or attitudes. Just call the toll-free number on the bottom of your screen, and have your credit card ready. Operators are standing by. No need to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or visit the sick or imprisoned, just slap a “Bush/Cheney '04” sticker on your car. This is exactly Bonhoeffer's “cheap grace”:

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion, without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

And we all know how much Americans love
cheap stuff ....

My Arkie students want to be Christians, but they want to be Christians like they want to be Rush Limbaugh Americans: without changing one damn thing about their lives. They want God to tell them every single thing they are doing is exactly right. God does want you to drive a Hummer. God does want you to hate the poor, the brown, the dispossessed, the Other. God wants you to be exactly what you are. Congratulations! You aren't perfect! And God likes that about you!

(Via Infinite Stitch:

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A Joke

(Inspired by Infinite Stitch

This is the second funniest joke I've ever heard.

A rabbi, eating matzo, sits down next to a blind man. He feels pity for the blind guy, so he gives him a piece of the matzo.

After a minute, the blind guy says, "Who wrote this piece of crap?"

Heh. Heh heh heh.

Okay, okay.

Here's the funniest joke ever:

Have you heard about the optometrist who fell into his lens grinder and made a spectacle of himself?

Smacking Kids

Apparently over in the UK a law has been passed against beating kids.

Parents can still smack the little beasts, though -- because that's reasonable.

Mild smacking is allowed under a "reasonable chastisement" defence against common assault.

Over on the blog Samizdata, the posters and commenters have decided this spells the end of British civilization as we know it -- and, of course, that this is the intent of the creator of the law. That, or they're just evil liberals out to destroy everyone's lives because they can't help meddling, having no lives of their own.

Or something like that. The reasoning is a bit hard to follow.

Anyway, the usual "Oh, great, now we're going to have to put up with squalling brats in the supermarket" argument gets trotted out; along with the "My parents beat me/I beat my kids" and I/they're just fine argument.

As to the first -- look, folks:

(1) Everyone's kids squall in supermarkets and malls and public places from time to time. Get over it. That's what kids do. Smack them or don't smack them, they're all going to do it.

(2) There are, in fact, ways to discipline kids that don't involve hitting them. No, really. There are. These ways work. They work, in fact, a whole lot better than the ways that do involve hitting them. It's not just me claiming this, either. Research has been done that shows that not hitting kids results in better behaved kids. Not only that, it results in smarter, saner, more stable kids. There's also some reseach that shows that kids that aren't hit end up doing better financially than kids that were hit. If you've got kids, or are planning to have kids, you should look into this research. REALLY.

As to the second: how do you know what you or your kids would have been if you hadn't been beaten?


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Beat Your Children Well

My kid came home from Montessori school yesterday afternoon and told me, in a worried tone, "You know, I'm the only kid in kindergarten that doesn't get hit."

I was taken aback. "What?"

"Everyone else's parents spank them," she explain. "Or smack them. Or pop them. Katie's parents spank her if she doesn't get up when they say to, and Lee's parents smack him if he doesn't behave, and Emma's parents pop her --"

She went at some length (I've changed the names, by the way), but my point here: this is a progressive school, probably the most progressive school in town. (Mind you, being the most progressive school in Fort Smith, Arkansas is a little like being the prettiest hog in the slaughter yard, but nevertheless....) And all the parents at this school whack their kids.

I'm disturbed by this news, the more so since I am currently reading Alice Miller's For Your Own Good, which outlines just how destructive hitting kids is; and since I had just seen this charming story on the General's site (

Which led me to this link:

It's a "rod" being sold to homeschooling parents, a whip, basically, for beating children with.

And then, following the General's links, I found this site:

where some Leviticans, Patrick and Elizabeth Johnston, advocate hitting your infant children with sticks, for such high crimes as reaching for a toy when you have told them no. Don't bother to put gates over dangerous stairwells! Just tell your baby not to go near the stairway -- and when she does? Whip the little minx! She'll learn! Especially if you hit her often enough.

And, of course, you'll need to keep on whipping those kids as they grow up, since the seed of rebellion is indeed in them.

My father came in with his belt in hand, calmly instructing me to get control of myself. He gave me five whippings on my rear end with his belt, and then told me that if I didn’t stop crying within five minutes, he would come back and do it again! Every five minutes for the next thirty the ritual continued. I would commence my temper tantrum and loud crying and he would re-enter, give me five whippings, then, calmly and patiently, he would warn me once again. After the last whipping, I collapsed and wept – not out of pain, but in submission. He had broken my will – that was a very good thing for me. He had broken my rebellious will but won my spirit! The temper tantrums stopped on that day. I hardly ever needed a spanking after that for the rest of my life. (The boy is twelve at this point, btw.)

Alice Miller did research on just this behavior -- have a look at her book if you haven't read it. This isn't discipline. This is child-hatred. This is projecting the parent's contempt for his own child-self (the child his own parents taught him to hate) onto the child, and then trying to destroy that child.

This is, in other words, sick, sick behavior.

What it leads to is the Levitican behavior we see in Fundie churches around us today -- and the political situation we see today.

And every single child at my daughter's school is being raised this way.

I gotta tell you, I'm alarmed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Funny Christian Conservatives

If you want your hoot for the day, head on over to the "Agora" and watch the Leviticans try to argue that James Dobson is, too, more influential than Oprah! Or Dr. Phil! Or the Pope!

And he's a really truly scientist! So there!

The most influential scientist EVER!


So just shut up!

It's the silliest thing I've read in weeks.

Update: Joshua asks me to point out that it's Hewitt and the commenters on the Agora blog, not the authors of Agora, who are arguing that Dobson is the most influential, etc.

That is what I meant to say -- the Leviticans I was refering to were the commenters. Sorry if it came off otherwise.

Poor old Cosgrove

Maua-- Er...I mean Ema over at Well-Timed Period does an excellent and thorough examination of the media's reaction to what happened to the blog attack on Cosgrove, and to just what our limited victory over him means. (Updated b/c apparently I'm having trouble with my reading comprehension these days. Sorry, Ema!)

Go read the whole thing, because it really is excellent; but it ends with this:

Unfortunately, while jumping up and down in celebration, I bumped into the huge elephant in the room and my enthusiasm was dampened. OK, forget stylistic flourishes. Let me be direct. I don't live in Virginia, so all this has been an academic exercise for me. Moreover, because of my profession, I am part of the select few who will not be personally affected by any type of whimsical reproductive legislation, at any level, local or federal [this dichotomy is unjust, yet a reality]. But what about the women who are not in my position? The saga of HB 1677 has made me realize that the lives and health of tens of millions of women are literally at the mercy of legislators of Del. Cosgrove's caliber. This realization is enough to subdue even the most optimistic person.

Which is right.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005



Remember Cosgrove, the Virginia Republican who wanted to make it a crime to have a miscarriage and not report it to the law within 12 hours?

The blogs mobilized on his ass, and he caved.

Victory is ours!

Not only that, but he's all, "Ooo, those wimmin bloggers, they were so MEAN to me!"

It's very cool.


(Via Mousewords


Not, mind you, that we can expect brilliance out of Mr. Vox, the gentleman who thinks the fall of Western civilization was caused by women winning the right to vote, but this little foray into world politics is stunning it its inability to grasp the point.

He starts with a reference to a Jewish leader having objected to an Archbishop having compared abortion to the Holocaust (because abortion, as we all know, is just like genocide) -- then Mr. Vox demands that Jews just get over themselves.

I mean, so what if some Jews got killed in the Holocaust? Big deal! Stop whining! Lots of people suffer genocide! Lots of people get persecuted! It's not just Jews! All the time whining and holding out the Holocaust like it's some big deal. Mr. Vox is just sick of hearing about it, do you understand?

And he finishes with this charming comment:

I'd never understood how the medieval kings found it so easy to get the common people to hate the Jews in their midst. But if those medieval Jewish leaders were anything like the idiots running the ADL, the ACLU and the Council of Jews, one can see where the idea of persecuting them would have held some appeal.

This is not the worst bit, though. The worst bit? The 48 (so far) comments on his little essay, which are equally ignorant and hateful.

I love Christian Conservatives. I do, I do, I do.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The City of My Dreams

Down there in New Orleans, it's life as usual:

Recently, in New Orleans, a man was charged with sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl, and the newspaper quoted the NOPD as saying the girl had "consensual sex" with the perpetrator. An editorial employer of the newspaper called the NOPD to get some clarification. She probably expected to hear "oh, you know what we meant" or "so, what's the problem?" or all of the other offensive responses you get when you point out offensive things that people say about girls and women. What she got was even worse: The NOPD spokeswoman told the Times-Picayune employee that the police department had worded the news release that way because they "didn't want people to think he [the perpetrator] was preying on children in the community."

Via DED Space (, where you can read the rest of the post -- yes, it gets worse.

It's true that the NOPD are probably the only police force that dropped the murder rate in the city by firing some of their own officers; but even so. A bit inappropriate, don't you think, officers?

Nah. Not in Louisiana. "Little bitch was asking for it," will no doubt be the attitude down there.

Along with "Old enough to bleed, old enough to breed," this was one of the first things I ever heard about women, growing up.

The Daou Report

If you don't know about the Daou Report yet, go check it out:

It reports on blogs, left, right, and center, giving short clips from each. Important b/c if you're like me, you tend to stick close to your end of the spectrum (leftie, in my case) and that can warp your worldview if you don't self-correct.

I try to self-correct as much as possible, by roaming around the right-wing and center blogs and newspapers when I can; the Daou Report has given me another route into those venues.

Go play.

Kids don't need sex ed classes

This here is a lot better:

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Teach Your Children Well

Here's a kid's book about weed, It's Just A Plant, in which Jackie wakes up & finds her parents smoking marijuana, and asks what they're doing.

Mama says it's too complicated to explain that late at night, but they'll take a field trip tomorrow and she'll tell Jackie all about it.

Next day she does.

They visit a greenhouse where marijuana is grown for medical purposes, a clinic where the doctors explain what it's used for (and the problems involved in getting proper medical-grade marijuna, due to our whack-job laws), and have other fine dope-related adventures, including finding some guys smoking joints in the park and getting advised to stop that by the nice policemen.

The nice policemen tell Jackie that yes, sadly, smoking dope is against the law. The nice policemen agree with Jackie's mama that this is really too bad, and hope for saner laws in the near future.

I gotta tell you, I find this book highly amusing.

Can't decide whether to order one for the kid yet though.

I'm reminded of when my students asked me, a few years ago, if I smoked dope.

It's in my contract that I'm not allowed to encourage my students to use drugs or alcohol (s0mething that also amuses me highly).

On the other hand, I'm a product of the enlightenment doctrine. I don't lie to students. Ever. Damn it.

So what I said was, "Well, not anymore."

They found this highly amusing.

I was reading a Christian book on child-rearing? It had a section, dealing with what Christian parents who had, ah, shady backgrounds should do when their kids asked them that question? "Daddy, have you ever smoked dope?"

I bet you can guess what the author of that book advised the parents to do.


This is funny -- apparently eagles don't like Pekes either.

More on the Torture Issue

Excellent issue from Jesse over at Pandangon on the torture issue:

Read the whole post, but here's a key excerpt:

It's disturbing to hear the axis of Kristol, Krauthammer and Hume ... talk about torture, because they really, really want to stick something scalding hot up someone's clenched something, and they're just trying to get all these morally facile "anti-torture" idiots to come to the conclusion that there is a situation in which torture might be okay...which, for some reason, will devolve downwards into the conclusion that torture is okay when used in other situations. It's an inane argument - I could, for instance, come up with an utterly contrived thriller-esque situation wherein I must expose myself to a room full of children in order to save lives, but if I'm seriously pushing it, the underlying argument isn't about saving lives. It's about wanting kids to see my naughty bits.

In much the same way, the
perverse fascination with torture (and the Coulteresque arguments on the right that, well, of course they're against real torture, but that naked pile of men is barely even mistreatment) isn't about security, and it isn't about saving lives. It's about beating the shit out of some people in a way that makes them feel better about beating the shit out of some people.

Besides the part where torture doesn't work, and the U.S.A. is a country that ought not be doing torture, that's exactly right.

And when Right-Wing Conservatives get all pious about the need to torture and how adult they are for being able to realize that? Boy, does my bull-shit detector go off.

I've been reading an excellent book lately, Alice Miller's For Your Own Good. It explains a lot about the Wingers, but it's not making me feel any better, especially since she was looking at what shaped the Nazi Party. (Hint: the child-rearing techniques that formed the Nazis and those the form the Christian Fundamentalists are identical.)

I'm getting pretty nervous, boy.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Light of Reason

Light of Reason has some good stuff on the torture issue.

The Wingers are all "Oh, those lefties, they're just blowing this out of proportion."

And, "Oh, those lefties, they're just picking on poor Gonzales." It's probably because we're racists, you know. Or it might be because we hate W. Or maybe both.

It couldn't possibly be that we're sickened and appalled by U.S. soldiers and U.S. government officials engaging in and condoning torture. (For a version of this, check out David Limbaugh -- well, I mean, if you can stomach it: (

Heavens, no.

That would mean we had some moral values.

Everyone knows only Republicans have moral values.

More Assaults from Bushworld

From the Website Democracy in Virginia, Via Atrios (, here's some charming news:

"Legislative Sentry: HB1677 - Have Miscarriage, Go to Jail?"

John Cosgrove (Republican --Big shock there) has a bill up, HB1677, in the Virginia legislature, requiring "any woman who experiences “fetal death” without a doctor’s assistance to report this to the local law-enforcement agency within twelve hours of the miscarriage. Failure to do so is punishable as a Class 1 Misdemeanor."

This is as any point in the pregnancy -- ten days along, twenty days along. Miscarry at seven weeks in Virginia, fail to report it within TWELVE HOURS, and you're going to jail for a year.

For those of you who are wondering why Mr. Cosgrove would be doing such a barbaric thing to women who are suffering the pain of a miscarriage -- and anyone who has been through a miscarriage knows how much suffering is involved, especially in, for God's sake, the first hours -- come, now.

What's up here?

He's working with the anti-Choice crowd, of course.

They're not after spontaneous miscarriage at all.

They're after those evil, evil women who would dare to take control of their own bodies and interrupt a viable pregnancy on purpose.

As author of the website says, "Most other states don't even bother collecting data for spontaneous loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation. The CDC does not process this data along with other state data on fetal death. The health care providers I have spoken to see no benefit, since reporting the loss of products of conception to law enforcement authorities provides no benefit to medical science."

"What I have learned, through initial research, is that the legislative agenda of numerous anti-abortion groups includes increased reporting of fetal deaths and issuance of death certificates for miscarriages. The point is to advance the legal recognition of "personhood" for all "products of conception".

"In the 2003 legislative session in Virginia, a law was passed allowing parents to request a “birth certificate” for a stillbirth, a law that is clearly in line with the agenda of anti-abortion extremists to recognize embryonic and fetal personhood. The fact that Virginia is one of the few states that requires reporting of deaths of all “products of conception” regardless of gestational age plays in to this anti-abortion agenda."

"Though there is no practical benefit to the Commonwealth in collecting this information from women - in fact, there would be considerable burden placed on local law enforcement agencies. This bill places the advancement of the cause of recognizing legal "personhood" for all products of conception far above the concerns of the Commonwealth and of the dignity of individual women whose privacy would be violated."

Go read the whole post. The author also has some suggestions for ways to get involved at the bottom. Get involved.

These Leviticans want to change our world. If we don't stop them, they will.

(I'm getting pretty nervous, boy.)

Friday, January 07, 2005

What I Don't Like About Them

Here's a post from Whatever ( that pretty much nails what I don't like about that certain type of "Christian" I've been calling "fundie" and "Far Right" and "Christian Conservative" on this blog.

Whatever calls them Leviticans, after the book Leviticus, their favorite of all the books in the Bible, and I like that name.

My favorite bit of the post (though it's all pretty good) is this bit:

To suggest that a Christian is actually a Levitican is not to say he or she is false in faith -- rather, it is to suggest that their faith is elsewhere in the Bible, in the parts that are easy to understand: The rules, the regulations, all the things that are clear cut about what you can do and what you can't do to be right with God. Rules are far easier to follow than Christ's actual path, which needs humility and sacrifice and the ability to forgive, love and cherish even those who you oppose and who oppose and hate you. Any idiot can follow rules; indeed, there's a good argument to made that idiots can only follow rules.

Calling them Leviticans instead of Christians also makes it clear what they're not doing -- they're not, in any way, following the teachings of Christ.

Which, as Whatever also points out, I would have no problem with them if they would.

Cause Christ? He had some pretty good advice.

Y'all Leviticans should take a look at it some time.

Torture at the Corner

Head over the World o'Crap, where our friend S.Z. has outdone herself taking down the folks at the Corner on this whole torture issue --

Though she hasn't made *me* feel any better.

I'm seriously baffled by this torture mess. Are we really just -- as a country, I mean -- are we really going to do nothing about it?

People keep telling me, like it's no big deal, "We've always tortured people! Didn't you ever hear about X?"

Or, "They're just terrorists."

Or, "It wasn't real torture."

But (a) So what if we did torture people in the past? Or slaughtered innocents in the past? Or committed genocide in the past, or did whatever evil things in the past? Because we have done evil things in the past does not give us a free pass to continue doing evil now.

And (b) Even if they are just terrorists, which by the way most aren't, that's beside the point, what they are. What we are is the point here. And what we do with our prisoners is the point here.

And (c) Yes, it was. Cut me a break.

And we're endorsing it, as a country? Saying it's just fine with us? Saying torturing prisoners is what America is about?

For Christ's sake. We've become the Nazis.

More News From Bush World

Here's a report from Orcinus -- it's made me even more paranoid, like I needed help there.

Living in a Red State, though one that's only half-Red, I know what he's talking about.

All us liberals are feeling sort of edgy here in Arkansas these days.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Bush contributes money to tsunami victims

Bush contributed to the tsunami victims --$10,000.

In a speech on legal issues in Collinsville, Ill., Bush praised the U.S. military for its "heroic work" in assisting tsunami victims and urged Americans to continue to open their wallets.

"The most important contribution a person can make is cash," Bush said. "There's huge generosity here in America."

Scott McClellan, White House press secretary, told reporters traveling with Bush to Illinois that the president -- himself a multimillionaire -- has written checks to several organizations listed on a Web site set up to direct Americans to various reputable charities collecting private contributions for tsunami relief. McClellan would not
identify the organizations to which Bush contributed.

Bush has been criticized for not acting quickly enough to provide U.S. funds and other federal assistance to countries hit by the catastrophic Dec. 26 tsunami that killed nearly 150,000 people and devastated Indian ocean communities across southern Asia.

I thought y'all would like to know.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

People tell me that I'm Paranoid...

Well, I admit I'm getting pretty nervous, boy...

Here's a post by Uggabugga on why.

I've been reading some Sinclair Lewis over the break, and what was happening in the twenties in America and what is happening in America now -- it's alarmingly similiar.

If you haven't read Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, you ought to.

Meanwhile, have a look at UggaBugga's post.


From Tbogg: (

"As far as Sullivan's claim of "extreme left" homophobia, I think this may be based on Sullivan's own interaction with the extreme left. Perhaps they weren't clear enough for him. They don't dislike him because he's gay. They dislike him because he's...Andrew Sullivan. "

Trying not to Panic

Bad enough that the government is selling creationist books in the state parks, but now we're opening a Museum of Creation:

The new multi-million-dollar Museum of Creation, which will open this spring in Kentucky, will, however, be aimed not at film buffs, but at the growing ranks of fundamentalist Christians in the United States.

It aims to promote the view that man was created in his present shape by God, as the Bible states, rather than by a Darwinian process of evolution, as scientists insist.

The centrepiece of the museum is a series of huge model dinosaurs, built by the former head of design at Universal Studios, which are portrayed as existing alongside man, contrary to received scientific opinion that they lived millions of years apart.

Other exhibits include images of Adam and Eve, a model of Noah's Ark and a planetarium demonstrating how God made the Earth in six days.


It's also going to have exhibits supporting the idea that diseases, famines, and disasters are not random events but are caused by our sinful behavior. Particularly, apparently, there's a charming on on AIDS being caused by faggots.

Nothing about whether there will be an exhibit on tsunamis being caused by Jesus to glorify his name. (See below.)

(Via Hullabaloo

Ai and my God

I know I shouldn't be shocked, but I am.

Over here on the Conservative Christian blog, they're arguing that God sent the tsunami to glorify himself.


(You're going to have to scroll down a bit to find the post -- it's lengthy, though, with a chart of all the disasters God has visited upon mankind, meant to prove, as Rush is attempting to prove with his "more people die in traffic every day!" analogies, that this is no biggie.)

Yep. God sent the tsunami, killed all those people -- some of them just infidels, of course, but some of them Christians, and lots of them children and babies, let's not forget -- to glorify his name.

[...T]he purposes of God in trials are different in every circumstance, but the common thread holding them together is Gods original purpose to glorify himself and humiliate humanity, even the proudest among us....

And, from the comments to the posting came this charming comment from someone calling himself or herself Rand:

Sadly, watching the news last night, they interviewed a survivor of the tsanamis,
and while giving her account, she took the Lord's name in vain.
So much for humbling herself before the Almighty.
Man! we're bad...

One guy, Steve, does make the point that God might be glorified in the actions of those helping those in need, but that he doesn't believe there is any glory in the destruction; the rest of the Conservative Christians have, so far, ignored him, however.

Because what would Jesus do, according to these folks?

Well, that's pretty plain, isn't it?

Not feed the hungry.

Not turn the other cheek.

Not tell the sinner to go and sin no more.

Not love his enemy.

Nope. He'd smite that bitch who took his name in vain. He'd slaughter the innocent. He'd send the earthquake and boil the babies alive and blast them all to hell where they could burn for all eternity.

And giggle while he did it.

I am so glad not to be a Conservative Christian this morning.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Those Right Wing Folks

You've got your morals and you've got your morals.

Here's a blue-state Hollywood type responding to the tragedy: Sandra Bullock, who has donated a million dollars -- that's right, a million dollars -- to the Red Cross to "help relief efforts in countries affected by the deadly earthquake and tsunamis in southern Asia and eastern Africa."

Bullock also donated a million to the victims after 9/11, BTW.

And here's a fine Red State Voter, giggling about how she doesn't care a bit about those dead Muslims, they're all terrorists anyway, aren't they? They're not getting any of her nickels!

This is from Rush's show:

"CALLER: (Giggle) Well, I was pretty upset and even getting madder the more coverage I watched, and I was thinking, 'Why am I not feeling so charitable, and I'm seeing all these bodies,' and then I see this picture on the Internet that was sent to me, and it was them carrying a body along in Sri Lanka, it said Galle, G-a-l-l-e, Sri Lanka and they had a crowd of people watching and this guy in the middle is standing there looking at the body wearing an Osama bin Laden T-shirt.

RUSH: I saw that picture.

CALLER: And I thought, it just validated the way I felt and I thought these are the same people that were the cheerleaders on 9/11, and we're going to go rebuild their world for them.

RUSH: Yeah.

I mean, it's not like any little white Christian children are dead, right? Just some brown people. And brown people are all terrorists, right? I mean, one right there on TV was wearing a teeshirt that had a terrorist's picture on it. So they all deserve what they got. Right?

I love that Red State morality.

(Via Hullabaloo (, which has more of the transcript from Rush, as well as a link to Rush's own site. It's charming.)

Where your tax dollars go

This is extremely cool:

And educational.

Go have a look. Take your time. Print it and save it and refer back to it whenever Rush or Miss Ann or Bill or whoever starts ranting about the NEA or the CDC or some other waste of tax dollars.

Look at where the tax dollars really are bleeding away.

(Via Infinite Stitch, who got it from

The Power of Prayer

Via Atrios (

Prayer works miracles, you know – that’s been scientifically proven!

Here’s what your Fundie neighbor down the street is talking about when he tells you so:

It involves a blind study in which prayer groups prayed for Korean women who were undergoing fertility treatments.

The Korean women didn’t know they were being prayed for. The people doing the praying – so the study claimed – didn’t know the Korean women in question: they just had pictures of them. The women being prayed for got pregnant at a significantly higher rate than those not prayed for, yap yap yap, the control group got pregnant at the regular rate, this proves the power of prayer, and so forth.

Trouble is, the guy who set up these prayer groups? The only one who knows who was in these prayer groups and how often they prayed and if these prayer groups even actually existed?

Here’s the guy:

The third man is Capitola researcher Daniel P. Wirth. Federal court papers say he is a Santa Clara University law school graduate who is also known as John Wayne Truelove, Rudy Wirth and Rudolph Wirth. He was sentenced in November to five years in prison for embezzling more than $2 million from communications giant Adelphia. Now he is en route to a federal prison camp in Atwater, where he will be known as inmate No. 99442-111.
Wirth was the person entrusted with setting up the study's prayer groups. No one knows if he actually did, and Wirth did not respond to a Mercury News request for an interview.

``There is no reason to think that Mr. Wirth would have been motivated not to organize prayer groups when such groups are his area of interest,'' Cha wrote in his letter to the journal.

But others aren't so sure.

When Wirth was studying for his master's degree in parapsychology at John F. Kennedy University in Contra Costa County, his professor Jerry Solfvin was so impressed with him that he asked him to join his research team. Wirth went on to publish several studies on ``complementary healing therapies,'' including therapeutic touch and untraditional prayer.
But Solfvin, now an adjunct associate professor at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, said he had his doubts about the truthfulness of some of Wirth's earliest research long before the ``Miracle Study'' was ever released.

The other two researchers affiliated with the study have taken their names off it – don’t want to be associated with it anymore.

The journal that published the results is still standing stoutly by the article though.

Here’s why:

Journal of Reproductive Medicine editor Dr. Lawrence Devoe defended the publication of the study in an e-mail to the Mercury News.

``The journal specifically states in each issue that `the opinions and statements in this journal are those of the authors and are not attributable to the sponsor, publisher, editor or editorial board of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine,' '' he wrote.

``I do not know Mr. Wirth and am not prepared to comment on his problems,'' Devoe said. And, he added, ``There are no plans to retract the study at this time.''

So many questions remain about the research, its methodology and its authors that some experts say the study carries very little credence. Such uncertainty, they say, is bad for both the public and the scientific process.

``People desperately wanted this to be true,'' Flamm said. ``Wouldn't it be wonderful if it were?''

Yes, that’s right. To hell with reality. To hell with facts. Let’s just start inventing the truth, shall we?

After all, it worked for Bush.

So much less destructive than blow jobs.

Monday, January 03, 2005

The Rich Get Richer

The rich get richer ---

And it’s no accident.

Nor is it because they’re fitter, in case you were wondering, or because they work harder, or because they deserve it, or anything like that.

It’s because they have rigged the game.

You’re not going to get told that, of course, because guess who owns the media? (Hint: it ain’t poor guys.) But it’s so.

During the short boom of the late 1990s, conservative analysts asserted that, yes, the gap between rich and poor was growing, but that incomes for the poor were still increasing over previous levels. Today most economists, regardless of their political persuasion, agree that the data over the last 25 to 30 years is unequivocal. The top 5% is capturing an increasingly greater portion of the pie while the bottom 95% is clearly losing ground, and the highly touted American middle class is fast disappearing.

According to economic journalist, David Cay Johnston, author of “Perfectly Legal,” this trend is not the result of some naturally occurring, social Darwinist “survival of the fittest.” It is the product of legislative policies carefully crafted and lobbied for by corporations and the super-rich over the past 25 years.

New tax shelters in the 1980s shifted the tax burden off capital and onto labor. As tax shelters rose, the amount of federal revenue coming from corporations fell (from 35% during the Eisenhower years to 10% in 2002). During the deregulation wave of the ‘80s and the ‘90s, members of Congress passed legislation (often without reading it) that deregulated much of the financial industry. These laws took away, for example, the powerful incentives for accountants to behave with integrity or for companies to put away a reasonable amount in pension plans for their employees—resulting in the well-publicized (too late) scandals involving Enron, Global Crossing, and others.


We’re supposed to be the country where anything is possible – work hard and you get ahead. Go to school and get your degree and you can make a good living for your family.

Everyone who’s honest knows that’s not so anymore.

Hard work doesn’t result in a good living.

A degree doesn’t always get a good job.

A good job won’t make enough money to support a family – it takes two good jobs, and even then you and your family will be barely scraping by, and you just better hope no one gets sick, because one bout of serious illness or a bad traffic accident will be enough to wipe you out. (And yes, I’m speaking from experience here.)

Housing costs are increasing. Fuel costs are increasing. The job market continues to be weak – and most jobs continue to be bad ones, ones that will keep their owners poor and desperate.

People can’t afford to have kids – or if they have kids, they can’t afford to raise them, or educate them.

And educate them for what? There are only so many nursing home aide jobs out there, folks.

Where do you think this is going to end?

Brooks & a Comment

Everyone is jumping on David Brooks' inane little column -- the one where he wishes wistfully that we all just believed in that wrathful Old Testament God the way we used to, the one who smote those sinners, so that this mess with the Tsunami and all those little dead kids and so on would make sense (cause we know how God loves to kill babies along with their sinful parents, which Brooks is right, the OT God does indeed love to kill infants, go have a look at the OT sometimes, right and left God is smiting those sinful babies).

I forget which blog I read it on, but this is an example of the Asshat God fallacy.

As in:

"If God acts that way, he's an Asshat.

"If he's an Asshat, he's not God.

Therefore, no God could act that way.

Therefore, that sort of God doesn't exist."

Anyway, to get back to my point, on Brad Delong's Blog (, a commentor has an excellent point:

The commentor has the Blog-name Rtoes: here's the comment:

The following is a letter from Richard Dawkins to The Guardian newspaper:

"The Bishop of Lincoln (Letters, December 29) asks to be preserved from religious people who try to explain the tsunami disaster. As well he might. Religious explanations for such tragedies range from loopy (it's payback for original sin) through vicious (disasters are sent to try our faith) to violent (after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, heretics were hanged for provoking God's wrath). But I'd rather be preserved from religious people who give up on trying to explain, yet remain religious.

In the same batch of letters, Dan Rickman says "science provides an explanation of the mechanism of the tsunami but it cannot say why this occurred any more than religion can". There, in one sentence, we have the religious mind displayed before us in all its absurdity. In what sense of the word "why", does plate tectonics not provide the answer?

Not only does science know why the tsunami happened, it can give precious hours of warning. If a small fraction of the tax breaks handed out to churches, mosques and synagogues had been diverted into an early warning system, tens of thousands of people, now dead, would have been moved to safety.

Let's get up off our knees, stop cringing before bogeymen and virtual fathers, face reality, and help science to do something constructive about human suffering."

Summary: if there is no God, then there is no evil. It is just you and me, so let's do something positive about the situation.

Posted by: Rtoes at January 2, 2005 10:27 AM

This hits exactly my problem with most religions. They make their adherents other-directed. Rather than focusing on this here world, this here plane of existence, Far Right Christians, Mahayana Buddhists, heavy duty Catholics, all of them focus on some mythical place called "Heaven," some other-world. They're worrying all the time about that place: getting to that place, what life will be like in that place, fixing up their soul for that place. (Or, in the case of most Christians, escaping the "other place," as they call it in Fort Smith.)

Well, all this focus on the next world ignores this world. In fact, Southern Christianity counsels folk to ignore this world. Works won't save you, after all. This world is a trap. The poor you will always have with you. And so on.

It's this world we live in. It's this world that needs mending. It's here that people suffer, that children are hungry, and need to be taught. It's here where things can be done.

Maybe there is some sort of afterlife -- who knows?

We know we have a life here. We know this world and the people in it need us.

Stop dumping resources and time and energy into some fantasy of heaven and start putting them into mending this world -- what might happen then?

I'm just saying.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Morning in the Bushverse

DED space ( has a posting that chronicles some of the more appalling things that have been happening to women in this country lately -- go on over there and look.

And, of course, we're getting hardly an eye-blink out of anyone over any of this.

Here's a little thought-exercise I'd like all y'all who think what's happening to these women is no big deal to try: substitute, for woman, your own favorite group (say, for instance, Christian, or Republican, or white male) and ask yourself how you would feel if some member of that group were being deprived of his rights in this way.

Say a Christian were being forced to wear something he objected to (perhaps a cute little pair of hot pants?) in order to keep his job of 20 years.

Would it matter then?

Say a white male were being forced to stay married to a woman who beat him up and abused him in other ways, because a judge said the kid he had came first -- even though it wasn't her kid, and she didn't want it -- would that matter?

Saturday, January 01, 2005


All right. I'm not usually one for sharing the hate, but --

This is from Uggabugga, the comment section, someone sharing a post from Little Green Footballs.

If you don't know about LGF, they're a Far-Right (rabidly Far-Right) Blog, and their commentors are so rabid they need shots, certainly, but Good God, this one --

Here's the comment:

It's about the tsunami:

I just want to share this post from Little Green Footballs. Regular 'piglet' (1000+ posts) asks:#3 piglet 12/26/2004 07:02PM PST Am I the only one wondering how many muslim women drowned in these waters because they were wearing islamic dress and were weighed down by their clothes?
By Anonymous, at 12/29/2004 12:37:18 PM

This was posted on the *day* of the quake itself.

Education Turns Folks Liberal

Here's a report from the trenches -- oh, okay, from a Starbucks -- a Christian listening to two other Christians, one warning the other about getting too much education, because too much education might turn him into a liberal.

And you know what?

It might.

Oddly enough, reading lots of books, learning to think critically, judge sources rationally, and being exposed to cultures other than one's own, as well as being forced to learn to write well, will indeed often lead one to turn liberal.

Wonder why that would be?

More News from Bush World

It’s amazing that this is even an issue – but of course it is. In the Bushverse, of course it is.

The U.S. Department of Justice has spent three years, and who wants to think how much of your money, designing a “141-page protocol” which tells hospitals how to treat rape victims. Early drafts included a bit about advising the victims about emergency contraception; the final draft does not.

Why? Well, because birth control is murder, of course.

And that rape victim? She does not have the right to murder that rapist’s baby.

Emergency contraception is controversial because, like stem cells and cloning, it has become tangled in the politics of abortion. The method usually works by keeping an egg from being released or being fertilized. However, it may sometimes prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus - equated with murder by some conservative groups and the Catholic Church (which opposes all forms of contraception).

"I think it's very smart not to put that in the guidelines," said Dr. George Isajiw of Lansdowne, a board member of Physicians for Life, a Philadelphia antiabortion group. By giving emergency contraception, he said, "you're giving a dangerous drug that's not doing any good, or else you're causing an abortion. As a moral principle, a woman has the right to defend herself against an aggressor. But she doesn't have the right to kill the baby."

Seriously, folks. I’m not making this up. This is the planet Bushco has us living on.

How do you like it so far?

(My emphasis added.)

(Via Atrios: