Saturday, May 12, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
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Four years this war has dragged on and NOW Bush might think benchmarks could be considered:
Republican congressional support for President Bush's Iraq war policy is starting to slip away, events of this week show, making it possible that by September bipartisan majorities in both houses could vote to force a U.S. military withdrawal.
But the kicker is, we have already had benchmarks and we have missed most of those with the exceptions of the death of Saddam and the election. I think this is more of the same frankly.
And I am not a supporter of benchmarks in the first place. To me, benchmarks is just more wait-and-see when what we should be doing is pulling the troops out. If you want to benchmark that, I can compromise - withdraw 50,000 troops by the end of next back to the US and everybody else by the 23rd of May.
Ok, I can live with those benchmarks.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Well now I've seen everything. Prominently placed on The Huffington Post is one of the most sickening bits of apologia I've ever read. Ari Emanuel pleads the case of the freshly fired CEO of HBO, Chris Albrecht. Sure he beat up his girlfriend, but he's a really good at spotting talent!
Chris Albrecht, like the rest of us, is not a perfect person. But he is a brilliant executive who helped turn HBO from a place to watch movies, stand-up comedy, and boxing into the home for some of the most creative and challenging original programming in the history of television. He has an amazing eye for talent, the ability to nurture that talent, and the patience to let outside-the-box shows find their audience. Without him, we wouldn't have had The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, or Everyone Loves Raymond (which HBO produced).
The Sopranos?! I love that show. Well, ok then! What's a little assault and battery?
Officers at the site of the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. boxing match came running when they spotted a man later identified as Albrecht grabbing a woman by the throat with both hands and dragging her toward the valet parking station at the MGM Grand.
So who is this sad apologist for thoroughly indefensible behavior? Rahm Emanuel's brother. That's who.
Ari Emanuel, founder of the Endeavor Agency and agent for Larry David, Michael Moore, Sacha Baron Cohen, etc., etc. (and brother of Dem big-shot Rahm Emanuel) is ticked off about how the press has treated his friend and now-former head of HBO, Chris Albrecht. He's especially bothered by what turned out to be the smoking gun: HBO's 1991 settlement involving a subordinate and love interest of Albrecht's who alleged that he had shoved and choked her in her office. Emanuel says the press "dug up a 16 year old incident, dusted off the cobwebs covering it, and suddenly created 'a pattern' of behavior that required the delivery of Chris' head on a platter."
Yes. Not surprisingly, Albrecht has a history of grabbing his girlfriends around the neck and throwing them on the ground. It must be because he's "a creative genius given to emotional tirades." As reported in the Los Angeles Times a previous incident had been effectively buried by a hefty settlement.
In 1991, Time Warner Inc.'s HBO paid a settlement of at least $400,000 to a female subordinate with whom Albrecht was romantically involved after she alleged that he shoved and choked her, according to four people with knowledge of the matter who declined to be named because the payment was confidential....
But, says Emanuel, Albrecht has expressed "deep regret" about knocking his new girlfriend around. From the Washington Post:
Albrecht said he was "deeply sorry for what occurred in Las Vegas this weekend and for any embarrassment it caused my family, the company I love, and myself."
Who's missing from this public apology... Oh, I know! The girlfriend he beat the crap out of!
This is just so bloody typical. Domestic violence affects approximately 1.5 million women and 845,000 men per year, with far more abused women than men suffering severe injuries. (This isn't hard to figure out. Men tend to be substantially stronger than women.) And the excuses for this brutality seem endless. One of the biggest comes into play in the case of Mr. Albrecht. 'Twas the drink that made him do it. So saith Ari Emanuel:
He is an alcoholic who fell off the wagon and made a terrible mistake.
Like so many high profile celebrities who fuck up royally, Albrecht is will seek treatment for his alcoholism.
In a statement sent to HBO staff members and released publicly Tuesday, Albrecht said he had been a "sober member" of Alcoholics Anonymous for 13 years.Yes, alcholism is a cunning, baffling, powerful disease. It is not, however, a cause or an excuse for domestic violence.
The belief that alcoholism causes domestic violence evolves both from a lack of information about the nature of this abuse and from adherence to the "disinhibition theory." This theory suggests that the physiological effects of alcohol include a state of lowered inhibitions in which an individual can no longer control his behavior. Research conducted within the alcoholism field, however, suggests that the most significant determinant of behavior after drinking is not the physiological effect of the alcohol itself, but the expectation that individuals place on the drinking experience (Marlatt & Rohsenow, 1980). When cultural norms and expectations about male behavior after drinking include boisterous or aggressive behaviors, for example, research shows that individual men are more likely to engage in such behaviors when under the influence than when sober.
But don't count on little things like facts to stop good old boys like Ari Emanuel from spouting canards in defense of those really great guys who just happen to beat women.
Six years ago, I was greeted with the shocking and entirely unwelcome headline that Douglas Adams had died. Don't know why I always remember that date, but I do, automatically, every year. So I'm going to go ahead and post a sort of mini-tribute to my favorite author.
Demetrius told me about this story a few weeks ago, but I never got around to reading the whole thing for myself. On break today, I saw a story in the Business section of the Columbus Dispatch:
The makers of garden products Miracle-Gro and TerraCycle are as different as mature plants and seedlings.
Click here to read the rest of the article, and here to check out TerraCycle's web site. Visit Sued By Scotts to donate to the TerraCycle Defense Fund, to find a store near you, or to purchase TerraCycle products online. (There are also links to PDFs showing other lawn and garden products with yellow and green labels.)
From My Left Wing:
Jeff Huber: We have the privilege today of speaking with Mr. David Iglesias, who is famously known for a number of things, one of which is [that] during his time as a Navy JAG lawyer, he was the real life model for the Tom Cruise character in the movie A Few Good Men.
Click here for the rest.
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Bush loves to blame other people. He has a life long history of not taking the fall. Yesterday eleven Republican members of Congress went to the White House and bluntly told Bush and members of his senior staff, just how bad it is.
House Republican moderates, in a remarkably blunt White House meeting, warned President Bush this week that his pursuit of the war in Iraq is risking the future of the Republican Party and that he cannot count on GOP support for many more months.
These guys must be in deep trouble in their district. If memory serves, most barely won their last election. Sadly, I don't think this is an attempt by the GOP to steer the nation on a better course, this appears to be 11 people are just in fear of loosing their jobs.
Bush just detects which way the wind blows and then points his finger to place blame. Lord knows nothing could be his fault.
Note: Hat tip to Blake Stewart for today's strip idea.
This is worth reading and sharing:
Click here for the rest.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
From time to time I've mentioned the EfM seminar meetings I attend on Sunday nights. It is a four year program where, in addition to theological reflection as a group, students cover different materials in each year of the program. This is my second year, so the focus is the New Testament. Last year we studied the Old Testament in depth, and learned lots of fascinating things that I didn't know before. But, as those readings recede further into the past for me, I can mostly recall general themes and motifs rather than specific details. For example, I know that there was quite a bit about prophets and kings. And in the past few days I've been thinking about the prophet/king dynamic in terms of the role of bloggers in relation to elected officials.
"Let Justice roll down like waters in a mighty stream," said the Prophet Amos. He was seeking not consensus but the cleansing action of revolutionary change. America has made progress toward freedom, but measured against the goal the road ahead is still long and hard.Bloggers can play the role of prophet sometimes, in that we are often decrying some injustice and (hopefully) mobilizing people to address that injustice. What about kings? Well, bloggers, it seems, occasionally aspire to be kingmakers.
In a February 16 article in Salon entitled Fighting Words, Joan Walsh asked
Maybe I'm the one who's naive, but the whole episode made me wonder: What does it mean if liberal bloggers aren't warriors for the truth, but rather for candidates? What does it mean for media, and what does it mean for politics?If you read the article, you'll see that Ms. Walsh is (or was, as of February 16) yet another columnist who hasn't received the memo that the proprietor of Daily Kos is not a liberal. But the question she raises is worth considering. I think at the most basic level it is important to have full disclosure about any financial ties between bloggers and campaigns--when such ties exist. But I also hope that we can start to make the media more aware of the diversity among bloggers on the "left". And that many of us have no desire to play the role of kingmaker, precisely because we place a higher value on our ability to continue "speaking truth to power".
I've never understood people who say they find comfort in reading the Bible. Every time I open its pages, I stumble on something like the above. I am baffled by those who find this book -- replete as it is with genocide and infanticide -- a source for "pro-life" ideals. But I guess it all depends on what page you flip to and whose wombs we're talking about; God's chosen or everybody else's.
One can hardly blame the Israelites for envisioning a capricious god, for surely there is no better description for the architect of the natural world we live in. Evidence of such a god's unfairness is everywhere abundant and nowhere more so than in pregnancy and childbirth. So the Israelites sought to please a god who would reward them with fertility amongst their wives and other livestock. They prayed that he would punish only the wicked with miscarriages and poverty.
"But if you do not hearken to the voice of the LORD, your God, and are not careful to observe all his commandments which I enjoin on you today, all these curses shall come upon you and overwhelm you:
We all have ways of rationalizing the irrational nature of human existence. It provides an illusion of safety in a chaotic world. And the more out of control life feels, the more we seek the simplicity of a black and white truth; an ordered universe where goodness is rewarded and evil is punished. Our deeply religious President talks about bringing evil-doers to justice. Others wait endlessly for karmic retribution to end his bloody reign. Cosmologies may differ, but the desire for divine justice, it seems, is an inherent human longing.
The world does not cleave neatly, along straight lines. It twists madly. It careens wildly. Life itself seeks towards chaos. Birth. Death. We cannot control them. We can only make choices to make our own fleeting moments on this mortal coil a little more manageable; a little more bearable.
Where many of us see difficult choices and troubling circumstances, the Army of God sees resolute, divine order, administered by an inerrant god. One of the most uncompromising of "pro-life" organizations, it seeks not only an end to abortion, but considers any birth control but abstinence as "evil." Their heroes are pharmacists who withhold Plan B and the murderers of their god's enemies, abortion providers.
They seek to fashion a world where good and evil are clearly defined and upheld by the nation’s judicial system. The battle against abortion is a battle to build a society where pleasure and freedom, where the capacity of the individual and especially women to make choices, and indeed even love itself, are banished. And this is why pro-life groups oppose contraception—even for those who are married. The fight against abortion is the facade for a wider fight against the right of an individual in a democracy.
Chris Hedges identifies Army of God as "the greatest threat to choice." Their ideological fervor seems largely honed in the forge of their own suffering; the unmanageable nature of their circumstances.
[Jeniece] Learned’s life, before she was saved, was typically chaotic and painful. Her childhood was stolen from her. She was sexually abused by a close family member. Her mother periodically woke Learned and her younger sister and two younger brothers in the middle of the night to flee landlords who wanted back rent. The children were bundled into the car and driven in darkness to a strange apartment in another town. Her mother worked nights and weekends as a bartender. Learned, the oldest, often had to run the home. She got pregnant in high school and had an abortion.
For many, their own experiences with sex—coupled with their descent into addictions and often sexual and domestic abuse before they found Christ—have led them to build a movement that creates an external rigidity to cope with the chaos of human existence, a chaos that overwhelmed them. They do not trust their own urges, their capacity for self-restraint or judgment. The Christian right permits its followers to project evil outward, a convenient escape for people unable to face the darkness and the psychological torments within them.
Like the young woman profiled in Hedges's article, I grew up in the Rust Belt. And like so many who sought succor from the decaying breast of a culture in decline, I turned instead for comfort to born-again Christianity. As I said above, I did not ultimately find it very comforting. The implicit contradictions of its holy book created too much cognitive dissonance. The hypocrisy of true believers jangled my nerves. I could not force my brain to see logic where there was none. I could not convince myself, against all evidence, of any divine justice.
No just god does this, or this, or this. Nor does a perfect god fashion new life in a fallopian tube, dooming mother and fetus to almost certain death.
A while ago I scanned pro-life bulletin boards for discussions of ectopic pregnancies. I found, to my relief, that terminating them is acceptable to even rabidly anti-abortion folks. Although there was an odd duck or two who thought it was better to wait and see if the embryo would move into the uterus, most did not consider it a "viable" pregnancy. The mother had no choice, therefore, it was not really an abortion. None, though, seemed able to follow this logic to its inevitable conclusion. None could admit that in a world where such cockeyed pregnancies occur, not every conception is a gift from a loving god, perfect according to some divine plan.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, one of my husband's colleagues -- a young Lt. from my home state in the heart of the Rust Belt -- assured him that our pro-choice conceits would melt away. The wonder of life in creation would overtake our liberal arrogance. So, my husband asked me, is being pregnant turning you against abortion? Tell your friend, I said, that if anything I am more pro-choice than ever. The moral of that story: Don't ask a woman who's been throwing up several times a day for nearly four solid months about the boundless joy of pregnancy.
Any vestigial notions I had about the perfection of nature and the universe were purged by pregnancy and childbirth. I was idealistic enough, back then, that I sought to have my child at home with a midwife. It was to be a magnificent ritual, in a pool in our living room, just like Donna on "Judging Amy." Candles, incense, a little pushing, et voila. One emergency c-section later, I am thoroughly disabused of such romanticism. Not that there is anything wrong with home birth. It's good for who it's good for. But my best laid plans were upended by real world circumstances, as so many plans are. It turns out my child-bearing hips are just for show. I am cursed, it seems, with an inner pelvis too narrow to pass an actual baby through. If there is a god, fashioning each life in the womb, he has a very dark sense of humor. But for the wonders of modern medicine, I would have died as so many women still do in childbirth. Pregnancy is one of those places where idealized notions collide most brutally with pragmatic reality.
Nature will never conform to our wishes. The desire to make it do so is a vain pursuit, fraught with painful disappointment. The wildness pleases but it also vexes. Outside my window spring gives rise to verdant growth. Grass that must be mowed. Weeds that must be pulled. Such is the endless pursuit of an orderly landscape. Underneath our neatly trimmed shrubbery, I recently discovered a holly bush. Holly is a funny plant; requiring a mother and a father to germinate new life. But this nascent plant found purchase in the worst of possible locations, in the shade, destined to collide with another plant. Just big enough that will be very difficult to uproot and replant, it has already begun to die. Elsewhere in our yard, a couple of pine trees find themselves in a similar predicament. Nature has its own ideas. They are not always good ones.
What the "pro-life" movement does not grasp, in it's battle against the "culture of death," is that death is implicit in all acts of creation. The earth creates and destroys with apparent indifference. It kills and it births capriciously, according to whims no mortal mind can comprehend.
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Bush vetoed the military funding bill because he wants free reign to continue the war in Iraq. you know, the one where we fight them there and not here?
Guess what? Bush's war has come to New Jersey. From Burlington County Times:
Six Islamic radicals, four of them from Cherry Hill, were arrested and charged Monday night with planning a heavily armed attack against soldiers at Fort Dix.
Yeah, it probably was that smart to go up against Fort Dix, but how long will it take for Jihadies to turn towards softer targets in America?
Bush promised to keep us safe. Just another broken promise. Is the 28% really surprised?
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
we are tickled pink to blog about this important literary find, because the lucky writer involved is actually a personal friend of the skippy's. la daily news:
writer joel eisenberg was poring over some crumbling manuscripts at 3 a.m. when the bombshell hit.
it couldn't happen to a nicer, or more deserving, guy. the skippy's have had many a double date with the eisenbergs, as well as having attended their wedding, and have watched joel struggle (as all show biz hopefuls do) to make a name for himself. he actually has written and produced several low budget features as well as published not one but two how-to show biz books (and is working on a third, for which skippy was interviewed).
we are big fans of literature, and of history, but we are especially big fans of skippy's good buddy joel. we offer him, and all steinbeck scholars and fans, a hearty congratulations!
remember, where ever they's a large metropolitan paper dissing bloggers, we'll be there! where ever they's a gop meme oppressing the truth, we'll be there! we'll be in the way watertiger writes her snark and we'll be in the way dave niewert eviscerates bigotry...and when our folks have freedom for everyone and not just the select rich elite and we all can share in america...why, we'll be there!
Monday, May 7, 2007
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God help us:
The White House says Vice-President Dick Cheney will visit the Middle East next week to meet with Arab leaders and speak with US troops in the Persian Gulf.
Sending Cheney on a diplomatic mission is like sending FEMA to New Orleans, it won't go well. When I first read this, my first thoughts were of Ariel Sharon's day trip to the Temple Mount and how it triggered the Al Aqsa Intifada. Seems like I am not the only one.
Similar to Ariel Sharon's disastrous and oft-discussed visit to Jerusalem's Temple Mount (Sep 28, 2000) -- a symbolic slap in the face that led to an escalation in Middle East tension -- Dick Cheney's upcoming "diplomatic" visit to the Middle East will be nothing more than a provocation resulting in yet another explosion of violence. More Americans and more Iraqis will die as a result of his trip.
I can't see how this will help in the short or long term, unless you are Al Qaeda. Before 9-11, their military experience was against one another in the mountains of Afghanistan. Now they have years worth of experience against the 82nd Airborne. The more we stay, the more of a problem they become.
From Lubbock Online:
Al Qaida owes George Bush a debt of gratitude. Mr. Bush provides the terrorist thugs with a fully equipped training camp, complete with realistic situations, live ammunition, a steady supply of authentic Great Satan targets (our daughters, sons, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers in uniform), expendable civilians, and true-to-life markets, police stations and roadways where terrorist recruits can practice.
I am unsure what machinations Cheney is plotting - drilling rights, Blackwater access deals or opening new markets for slave-labor corporations, I will guarantee you it will not make America's standing in the world any better, it will not improve the credibility of the United States in the world, nor will it help Americans in any way, shape or form.
Sunday, May 6, 2007
In one of her comments yesterday, anniethena introduced me to the marvel that is The Brick Testament. Clearly, the creator of the site has shown real dedication to his craft, and I have only just scratched the surface of what the site has to offer. But already, in the first part of Genesis, the site has revealed to me something new. I'm not quite sure what it means yet, but I have a feeling it must have great theological significance.
Here they are immediately after partaking of the forbidden fruit and realizing they were naked--the caption says that they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
Eve seems to have gotten a little something "extra" in the bargain, hasn't she? What an astounding discovery--why didn't I know about this before? And what does it *mean*?
Off the top of my head, I think it's symbolic of the fact that, once in a state of sin, Adam and Eve were no longer in harmony. Eve's cleavage is a symbol of the "otherness" they now experience when they look at each other.
Posted by Renee in Ohio at 8:45 PM
The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.
“Many of our economic habits were shaped by a warped story of human nature and an economic double standard that gives little or no value to the essential work of caring and care giving. The measures of productivity we habitually use include market activities that harm our health and natural environment while assigning no value to the life-supporting activities of households and nature. The money that central banks and circulate bears little relation to any tangible assets. Quarterly corporate reports fail to factor in the health and environmental damage a company’s products or activities cause. Government policies, too, are often based on fantasies rather than realities, as dramatically shown by the George W. Bush administration’s denial of the urgent need to take action against global warming.Eisler is the author of five books, including her international bestseller, The Chalice and the Blade: Our History and Our Future. She was born in Vienna, fled from the Nazis with her parents to Cuba and later emigrated to the United States. An attorney and longtime social activist, among Eisler’s honors are inclusion as the only woman among twenty illustrious thinkers including Hegel, Adam Smith, Karl Marx and Arnold Toynbee in Macrohistory and Macrohistorians. She received this honor in recognition of her work as a cultural historian.
Eisler obtained degrees in sociology and law from the University of California, taught pioneering classes on women and the law at UCLA. She is a founding member of the General Evolution Research Group (GERG) and the Alliance for a Caring Economy (ACE). She serves as a commissioner of the World Commission on Global Consciousness and Spirituality with the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other spiritual leaders. Eisler is also the co-founder of the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV) and president of the Center for Partnership Studies that promotes initiatives to advance a way of life based on harmony with nature, nonviolence, and gender, racial, and economic equity.
Eisler agreed to a podcast interview with me about her life, book, and worldview.
I got a letter from my church this week, in advance of B.R.E.A.D.'s upcoming annual assembly, reminding me of what an appropriate choice it was to call this the Nehemiah Action Assembly. At last year's assembly, in his opening reflections, Rabbi Howard Apothaker provided an excellent (and, at times, humorous) retelling of the story of Nehemiah calling an assembly, including what, for me, was the most memorable line:
G-d does not just want us to do justice. G-d is *waiting* for us to do justice. G-d is *expecting* us to do justice. G-d is saying, "Get off your tuckus and do justice!"Since one of the main issues being addressed at this Monday's assembly is predatory payday lending, the Nehemiah reference is quite fitting. From the letter my rector sent:
The fifth chapter of Nehemiah tells the story of how the governor of Jerusalem, Nehemiah, calls a great assembly to deal with a situation that is jeopardizing the rebuilding of the community. The situation has to do with the charging of interest to those resettling Jerusalem at such rates that people are sliding into poverty and slavery. Nehemiah, though governor, does not have enough power to make the nobles and officials of Jerusalem stop this blatant practice of usury. This is why he calls the great assembly. Confronted by the people, the moneylenders and the governing leaders, who allowed this debilitating practice, change their minds.
And the letter goes on to say that the only offering that is being asked of us is our time. With the kind of hours I've been working for the past few weeks, my time is a rather precious commodity. Yet I am mindful of the fact that powerful people are only able to get away with this sort of usury because ordinary people don't stand up. Heck, often we don't even *know* these things are going on, because we're so busy trying to keep our *own* heads above water.
But things like this are important, so I'm gearing up for a drive to the other side of town after work on Monday, to once again be "packed like sardines for justice". Because, well, I gotta. In a recent essay, BrimStone was explaining why the God of Fred Phelps and Randall Terry sucks. And I was thinking, mine doesn't suck, but s/he sure can be a bit of a nag sometimes. Always calling us, again and again to, "Get off your tuckus and do justice!"
Please click here for the information about tomorrow's meeting, and pass it along to anyone you know in central Ohio who might be interested.
Now there's a trade off, huh? Add this to the list of sacrifices that the small minority of Americans known as "our troops" is making for Bush and his cronies. Men and women in the armed services are losing their kids in custody battles for no reason other than being deployed.
Such was the reality of Lt. Eva Crouch, who returned from her National Guard duty to find that she had stumbled into a legal gray area.
A federal law called the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is meant to protect them by staying civil court actions and administrative proceedings during military activation. They can't be evicted. Creditors can't seize their property. Civilian health benefits, if suspended during deployment, must be reinstated.
Family court judges have a fair bit of latitude because their mandate is best interest of the child; not necessarily what seems fair to parents. And in a sense, judges such as the one who handed Eva's daughter over to her ex-husband have a point. Endless war is terrible for the children and family members of the troops who have to fight it; especially given that many of them are serving in back to back deployments of ever-increasing duration.
Two years and $25, ooo dollars later, Crouch has regained custody of her daughter Sara. But an unknown number of other service people have returned from battle to fight on another front; the courts.
Military and family law experts don't know how big the problem is, but 5.4 percent of active duty members _ more than 74,000 _ are single parents, the Department of Defense reports. More than 68,000 Guard and reserve members are also single parents.
Isn't it wonderful having a President who is so devoted to family values?
Cartoon of the Week
Posted by dhonig at 5:06 AM