Marriage is love.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Cat Bloggin'

Samuel the Supervisory Cat

In keeping with the Bloggin' of the Dog, here is an intro to Samuel, Holly's Office Cat!

A little brevity on the weekend...


Ohio House Bill Could Restrict Adult Entertainment

Strip clubs and adult bookstores could face new restrictions if an Ohio
House bill becomes law.

The Ohio House overwhelmingly passed the bill Wednesday. If the Senate passes it as well, attorneys for the adult industry plan to challenge the law in court, saying it is unconstitutional.


BBC: Florida girl has abortion blocked

A pregnant 13-year-old girl in Florida has been told she cannot have an abortion because she lacks the maturity to make such a decision...


Daniel Goldhagen on New Pope Ben 16

The fallacy of one true path

Pope Benedict XVI's story of his teenaged service in the Hitler Youth
is plausible and by no means disqualifies someone from distinguished
religious or political service. But the focus on the truthfulness of his
account bypasses more important questions, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
writes...(LA Times)


Morning-After Sickness

Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic:

It is no great secret that Democrats have been losing political fights over abortion for a while. And it's no great secret why. Although a majority of Americans agree with liberals that abortion should be legal, the right has succeeded in starting political debates that end up making liberals look like extremists. One method has been to focus on partial-birth abortion, a practice that most Americans oppose because it seems cruel. Another successful strategy, as William Saletan explains in the book Bearing Right, has been to push parental consent laws, turning the argument about abortion into a referendum on public attitudes toward sex and the rights of parents. But cultural conservatives have never ceded the more extreme elements of their agenda--something that will become apparent if a new controversy gets the scrutiny it deserves.

At issue is Plan B, a drug manufactured by Barr Laboratories and better known as the "morning-after pill."


In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the application.

The move got little attention amid the controversy over RU-486, the chemical compound that induces abortions even weeks into pregnancy (something Plan B can't do). But use of Plan B remains infrequent, partly because it can be difficult to obtain the drug quickly enough. As a result, women's health advocates have embraced a Barr proposal to make Plan B available "behind the counter"--meaning pharmacists could dispense it without a prescription--to women over 16 years of age.

This time, conservatives are making noise. A year ago, 49 Republican representatives wrote President Bush, urging him to block approval of Barr's FDA application. And, while the FDA's own scientific advisory panel endorsed the application by a vote of 23 to four, the Agency has withheld approval.

Plan B's most outspoken critic, the right-wing Concerned Women for America, insists it is actually worried about safety, given the lack of studies on the pill's long-term effects. But the vast majority of medical experts say Plan B is completely safe, in part because birth-control pills have such a well-established safety record themselves.


A less flimsy argument against Plan B is that it is tantamount to abortion. While science has demonstrated that Plan B works, it has not shown definitively how Plan B works.


The other serious argument against Plan B is that it will increase risky sexual activity by young people.


When conservatives talk about Plan B, they conjure up images of lust-crazed college girls engaging in one-night stands, then reaching over empty beer bottles to grab their supersized Plan B jars. But the one group to whom emergency contraception would make the greatest difference is rape victims.


Apparently, elements of the right are so committed to their stark definition of life and so concerned about hypothetical cultural signals that they would prefer rape victims become pregnant than inform them about emergency contraception. Who are the extremists now?

Jonathan Cohn is a senior editor at TNR. He is currently writing a book on the U.S. health-care system.

Copyright 2005, The New Republic


In my opinion, it's time to do as the RethugliKKKans: purge, baybee, purge!

The Rethugs are trying to dispose of the RINOs in their own party (Republican In Name Only).

Some of the latest flurry around Social Security, The Nuclear Option, Iraq, the Federal Deficit, and Tom DeLay illustrate this desire (and the use of the RINO term as insult) all-too-well. The chant for getting rid of the RINOs has grown much louder on the Rethug side - as illustrated by one of's feature articles.

I will, for the one and only time in my life, agree with the RethugliKKKans: it's time to clean house this spring. It's time to get rid of what we don't need.

And what we who lean a bit (or even a hell of a lot) left-of-center don't need are Democrats who either keep (1) caving in to the current administration, (2) failing to back fellow Democrats or (3) failing to back the people who vote for them.

I therefore humbly submit it's time for this man go to:

This fellow - DINO - in - Chief: is it time to say "good-bye?"

Visit the website for more details - the guy starting this campaign is my Hero-for-Today:


Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday Bloggin' of the Dog

Hi Folks!

We have had a plethora of serious topics here and on other symbiont I am going to "re"-post one of my favorite pictures of the puppy I was lucky to receive from a friend in 2001...his name is Verdell and he was rescued from an illegal Pit Bull pit in South Dade County, Florida - where they train pit bulls to "be" pit bulls by mauling puppies (like my boy Verdell)...

I love him, and while he has a lot of issues from his initial situation, he has learned to love, and to cuddle - and to go to Key West and wear a tropical shirt (as shown in the photo above).

Anyone else want to comment on his/her beloved pet companions?


A quick hello

Alright - time for a quick hello as I sit in BLUE Rochester New York and violate Shabbes.

So - bloody "hello" already! You'll be hearing more from me shortly as time permits.



Toledo Blade Editorial: Holy war against judges

Friday, April 29, 2005

IT USED to be that politics and religion were topics not to be discussed in genial company, for fear of getting into arguments that could never be resolved.

Now, in some quarters at least, politics is religion and religion is politics, an observation underscored by last weekend's "Justice Sunday," a conflagration fanned by religious conservatives to singe opponents of a few of President Bush's most outrageous judicial nominees.


Fire and brimstone, however, is no substitute for the solid rock of constitutional law that has served this nation well for more than 200 years. The checks and balances that protect our democratic system, including the principle of judicial review of legislative actions, must not be swept away in a paroxysm of self-righteousness.

Thoughtful Americans know and appreciate the difference in government based on the rule of law and that based on theology. As Dennis Goldford, a political scientist at Drake University, told Knight Ridder Newspapers, "Politics is about compromise. Religion is about absolutes. If you bring religion into it, you destroy the chance for civil disagreement."

Agreeing to disagree in a peaceful manner is the bedrock of the American system. It is what separates us from autocratic or totalitarian governments.


What they forget is that the rule of law protects those same "people of faith" and gives them the right to practice whatever religion they choose, not one dictated by government as in a theocracy.

It is no small irony that the United States is engaged in wars on foreign soil that clearly illustrate the dangers of theocracy to human rights, while here at home we are faced with angry pressure to install theocrats of another stripe, but theocrats no less, on our traditionally independent courts.

Politicians that engage in this kind of moral misdirection really ought to consider clearly whether the temporary partisan advantage is worth the damage to the legal system that could result in the long run.

© 2005 The Blade.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Moderate Voice Poses Some Questions...

...regarding the Bush Press Conference personal opinion is that the answer to his questions will be, unfortunately, NO...

The bolds are from Holly, who sent this via email...

So three key questions now linger regarding this press conference:

1. Will the press ask the President tough questions? Reporters are supposed to set the question agenda and ask tough ones. Those are often questions the subject (a Democrat or Republican) may not want to get.

2. Will reporters INSIST on doing follow up questions? Even if the President picks someone to avoid a follow up, the next person should then ask a follow up to make sure that question has been fully answered. Follow up questions are a vital part of the interviewing process. It doesn't matter if someone is a liberal or conservative - they should get solid questions and, if necessary, follow up questions for more details.

3. Will Jeff Gannon be there? Or will he be busy (or booked)?


WP: DeLay Could Be Found Culpable

With investigation certain, majority leader will likely be declared in violation of House ethics rules.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

STILL Not Concerned??

Three words:

K. Street. Project.

Google those three words for more.

Read, think, ACT!

Ms. Julien


Terrorists Murder Iraqi Member of Parliament

BBC: Iraqi woman MP killed in Baghdad

Suspected militants shoot dead an Iraqi woman MP in Baghdad, the first MP killed since elections in January.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

GOP Crisis in Faith

Crisis in Faith by Andrew Sullivan in TNR

For decades, the Republican Party has accommodated conservatives of faith and conservatives of doubt, their alliance lending the GOP ideological flexibility and longevity. But now, the theocons' fundamentalism has become markedly more strident, threatening the party's commitment to individual freedom--and its long-term viability.


90th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide

Events were held around the world and in Israel on Sunday and yesterday to commemorate the Armenian genocide 90 years ago. Between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenians perished in 1915-1916, around a third of the Armenian people. Some died of hunger, thirst and disease during the expulsion from their communities in Turkey to Aleppo in Syria. Others were murdered by Turkish soldiers or bandits. The last of the genocide survivors in Israel says she forgives the Turks and does not bear a grudge...


The Disappearing Wall

Great "op-ed" piece in the NY Times (thanks, Holly!). This is a call for all of you who voted for Bush for "protection against terror" - he didn't fight the terror - it is still here.

THIS is the legacy of GW Bush. And do you know what?? It is the legacy of ALL OF YOU WHO VOTED FOR HIM.

To the dismay of many mainstream religious leaders, the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, participated in a weekend telecast organized by conservative Christian groups to smear Democrats as enemies of "people of faith." Besides listening to Senator Frist's videotaped speech, viewers heard a speaker call the Supreme Court a despotic oligarchy. Meanwhile, the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, has threatened the judiciary for not following the regressive social agenda he shares with the far-right fundamentalists controlling his party.

Apart from confirming an unwholesome disrespect for traditional American values like checks and balances, the assault on judges is part of a wide-ranging and successful Republican campaign to breach the wall between church and state to advance a particular brand of religion. No theoretical exercise, the program is having a corrosive effect on policymaking and the lives of Americans.

The centerpiece is President Bush's so-called faith-based initiative, which disregards decades of First Amendment law and civil rights protections. Mr. Bush promised that federal money would not be used to support religious activities directly, but it is. The program has channeled billions of taxpayers' dollars to churches and other religion-based providers of social services under legally questionable rules that allow plenty of room for proselytizing and imposing religious tests on hiring. The initiative even provides taxpayers' money to build and renovate houses of worship that are also used to offer social services.

Offices in the White House and federal departments pump public money to religious groups, but provide scant oversight or accountability to make sure that the money is spent on real services, not preaching. Indeed, Mr. Bush's goal is to finance programs that are explicitly religious.

A recent want ad posted by a taxpayer-financed vocational program of the Firm Foundation for inmates in a Pennsylvania jail stipulated that a job seeker must be "a believer in Christ and Christian Life today" and that the workday "will start with a short prayer." A major portion of inmates' time is spent on religious lectures and prayer, according to a lawsuit filed by two civil liberties groups.

The Bush administration and Congress have turned over issues bearing on women's reproductive rights to far-right religious groups opposed not just to abortion, but to expanded stem-cell research, effective birth control and AIDS prevention programs. The Food and Drug Administration continues to dawdle over approving over-the-counter access to emergency contraception for fear of inflaming members of the religious right who deem any interference with the implantation of a fertilized egg to be an abortion. This foot-dragging may be good politics from one narrow view, but it harms women and drives up the nation's abortion rate.

The result of this open espousal of one religious view is a censorious climate in which a growing number of pharmacists feel free to claim moral grounds for refusing to dispense emergency contraception and even birth control pills prescribed by a doctor. Public schools shy away from teaching about evolution, and science museums reject scientifically sound documentaries that may offend Christian fundamentalists. Public television stations were afraid to run a children's program in which a cartoon bunny met a lesbian couple.

In a recent Op-Ed article in The Times, John Danforth, the former Republican senator and U.N. ambassador who is also a minister, said his party was becoming a political arm of the religious right. He called it a formula for divisiveness that ultimately threatened the party's future. With the nation lurching toward the government sponsorship of religion, and the Senate nearing a showdown over Mr. Bush's egregious judicial nominees, it is a warning well worth heeding.


My Email to Sen. Mike DeWine

Having read this article in today's DDN, I want to reiterate my opposition to the Republican "nuclear option" to end Democrat filibusters of reactionary, un-American judicial candidates.

I vote in every primary and general election, without prodding or busing, because it is both my civic and religious duty to do so.

Ohio Residents, contact Mike DeWine Here


WP Editorial: Impunity

Tuesday, April 26, 2005; Page A14

A YEAR AGO this week, the release of shocking photographs of naked and hooded Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison alerted the world to serious human rights abuses by U.S. forces. Those images, it turned out, were the tip of an iceberg: Subsequent investigations by the media, human rights groups and the military itself revealed hundreds of cases of torture and abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Guantanamo Bay prison, including scores of suspicious deaths. A trail of documents showed that abusive interrogation techniques, such as the use of dogs and painful shackling, had been approved by senior military commanders and the secretary of defense. Even more extreme practices, such as simulated drowning and the withholding of pain medication, were authorized for the CIA at White House meetings presided over by President Bush's counsel.

All these facts are undisputed. Yet Pentagon officials have now made it known that the last of the official investigations of prisoner abuse, by the Army inspector general, has ended by exonerating all but one senior officer, a female reserve brigadier general who was not directly involved in the abuses and who received an administrative reprimand. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; former CIA director George J. Tenet; and Alberto R. Gonzales, the former White House counsel who is now attorney general, are excused: In fact, they were never directly investigated. The only people to suffer criminal prosecution from one of the most serious human rights scandals in U.S. history remain a handful of lower-ranking soldiers, including seven reservists implicated in those first photographs from Abu Ghraib. That the affair would end in this way is even more disgraceful for the American political system than the abuses themselves.

Because there has never been a truly thorough or independent investigation -- the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly rejected calls for a commission or a special prosecutor -- we may never fully know how such widespread and serious war crimes came about. But even the limited disclosures that have taken place make clear the culpability of several senior officers whom the Army has exonerated:

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, then top commander in Iraq, signed an order on Sept. 14, 2003, authorizing a number of interrogation methods that violated the Geneva Conventions, which legally applied in Iraq. These included the use of guard dogs to "exploit Arab fear of dogs," a practice documented in the Abu Ghraib photos. Gen. Sanchez subsequently misled Congress, testifying under oath last May 19 that "I have never approved the use of any of those methods" appearing over his signature.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller commanded the Guantanamo Bay prison when prisoners were subjected to abuses documented by visiting FBI agents, as well as the International Red Cross, which called them "tantamount to torture." Gen. Miller also visited Abu Ghraib in 2003: According to one official investigation, dogs were introduced there at his suggestion.

Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, as the senior intelligence officer on Gen. Sanchez's staff, was responsible for intelligence gathering at Abu Ghraib; she also received, and failed to act on, reports of abuses in the fall of 2003.

Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, Gen. Sanchez's deputy, was responsible for detention operations; he reportedly approved interrogation plans involving the use of dogs, and failed to respond to a Red Cross report about the systematic abuse of prisoners in November 2003.

When the abuses first came to light, a host of legislators -- led by Republican Sens. John W. Warner (Va.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) -- promised that everyone culpable would be held accountable, no matter how senior. Now the outcome they said they would not countenance, the limitation of punishment to a handful of lowly scapegoats, has come to pass. Have the senators forgotten their words?

© 2005 The Washington Post Company


The religious tyranny in Saudi Arabia is not just Saudis’ business

By Nina Shea, director of Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom.

Before boarding his flight to Crawford to meet with President Bush Monday, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah presided over the arrest of 40 Pakistani Christians on Friday, caught praying in a private home in Riyadh in violation of the state's strictly enforced religious law that bans all non-Muslim worship. Saudi Arabia's nationals, by law Muslim, find that a broad range of their freedoms are limited because of the state's monopoly on religious expression. Muslims who follow the Sufi and Shiite traditions are viewed as heretical dissidents and viciously condemned and discriminated against by the state. Regarding those who convert out of Islam, the Saudi ministry of Islamic affairs explicitly asserts that they "should be killed."

Earlier this year, Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom released a report on the radically intolerant Wahhabi ideology contained in documents generated by the government of Saudi Arabia and found in the U.S. A publication with "Greetings from the Cultural Department" of the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., gave detailed instructions on how to "hate" the Christian and Jew.

(National Review)


A Celebrity Wedding for Us - Guess We've Made It!

Sir Elton John to marry his longtime male partner

LONDON (April 25) - British pop star sir Elton John intends to marry his longtime partner David Furnish sometime this year or in 2006, his publicist said Monday.

The singer told the Mirror tabloid that he and Furnish wanted to hold a civil partnership ceremony in Windsor, near London, in mid-December, although publicist Gary Farrow said John had added it could take place some time next year.

**He (John) said that it may be by Christmas and it may be next year,** Farrow told Reuters.

He added that one of John*s main motivations for going ahead with the ceremony was financial.

Civil partnerships between gay couples will be allowed in Britain starting Dec. 5 and give partners tax breaks available to married couples. John, 58, and Furnish, 42, have been partners for more than 11 years. A Web site recently speculated the couple was splitting up, prompting Furnish to say that they had **never been happier.**

John told the Mirror that Furnish should not expect many of the trappings of a regular marriage.

**There will be no honeymoon. I*m on tour,** he said.

John has sold tens of millions of records worldwide and is best known for classic tracks including **Candle in the Wind** and **Rocket Man.**

He has signed an agreement to perform 75 shows over three years in Las Vegas and also is touring the United States, Europe and Canada over the coming months.

John, born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, previously married German music engineer Renate Blauel in 1984. She and John divorced four years later.

04/25/05 07:11 ET (C) 2005 Reuters Limited.


Interesting Column at Raw Story

It isn't an oxymoron



Even Young Children Know Better

Texas House OKs Amendment on Gay Marriage


Published: April 26, 2005
Filed at 5:47 a.m. ET

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- House members who approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage got a cool reception from one constituent -- 10-year-old Kimberly Norman.

''I don't think that they're opening their eyes to look at the world to see everything,'' the fifth-grader, who is being raised by two women she calls mom, said Monday at the Capitol...


Monday, April 25, 2005

Why in the HELL Did I Have to Read About This in The Guardian (UK paper)!?!?!?

But gee, didn't Lou Dobbs say tonight that things were GREAT in Afghanistan??

The UN's top human rights investigator in Afghanistan has been forced out under American pressure just days after he presented a report criticising the US military for detaining suspects without trial and holding them in secret prisons.

Cherif Bassiouni had needled the US military since his appointment a year ago, repeatedly trying, without success, to interview alleged Taliban and al-Qa'ida prisoners at the two biggest US bases in Afghanistan, Kandahar and Bagram.
Read it all HERE.


Counter-Rallies for Justice Sunday

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

More than 700 people joined religious leaders and Democratic politicians at two rallies yesterday to denounce Christian conservatives' use of a Louisville church as a platform to advocate prohibiting filibusters against judicial nominees.

Speakers called both the assault on filibusters and the injection of religion into politics "un-American" threats to religious freedom and to constitutional checks and balances.

The larger of the two rallies, designed to counter a telecast from Highview Baptist Church last night, took place at Central Presbyterian Church near downtown Louisville. More than 600 people came to hear Baptist, Episcopal, Jewish and ecumenical leaders from around the country criticize what they described as an effort to paint dissidents as anti-religion...


Paul Krugman on The Oblivious Right

According to John Snow, the Treasury secretary, the global economy is in a "sweet spot." Conservative pundits close to the administration talk, without irony, about a "Bush boom."

Yet two-thirds of Americans polled by Gallup say that the economy is "only fair" or "poor." And only 33 percent of those polled believe the economy is improving, while 59 percent think it's getting worse.

Is the administration's obliviousness to the public's economic anxiety just partisanship? I don't think so: President Bush and other Republican leaders honestly think that we're living in the best of times. After all, everyone they talk to says so...


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Were HIV Positive Foster Kids Used As Guinea Pigs?

Holy crap -
A potentially big scandal is unfolding in New York City that — if proven true — has serious implications on two fronts.

The two-pronged allegations entail powder-keg charges that the city tested AIDS drugs on foster children and that if a foster parent objected the children were then placed elsewhere.

The New York papers have started breaking this story and if it isn't proven incorrect it could prove to be quite explosive. First, some tidbits from The New York Times:

The city's Administration for Children's Services has hired an outside research firm to investigate allegations that the city inappropriately put foster children into medical trials for AIDS drugs in the 1980's and 1990's and that foster parents who objected to the trials lost custody of the children.

The agency also said it would form a panel of national health care experts to review the findings of the investigation, to be conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York-based nonprofit research group. The agency's commissioner, John B. Mattingly, said he thought that children's services had acted appropriately but that he has asked for the outside investigation to allay concerns raised by some reporters and by a minority advocacy group. Most of the children in the trials were African-American or Hispanic.

"We are taking this step because, while we believe that the policies in place at the time reflected good practice, we acknowledge the need for transparency in all of our dealings with the public," Mr. Mattingly said. "For us to be effective in our mission to protect New York City's children, we must have a sense of mutual trust with those families we seek to serve."

Accusations that the city had allowed babies in foster care who were not perilously ill to be used in medical testing of AIDS drugs were first reported in The New York Post in 2004.

At the time, officials from the agency and from the hospitals where the trials had taken place said they had been legitimately conducted on only foster children dying of AIDS who had no other medical options at the time.

The Times' story gives Mattingly's explanations that nothing untoward happened. Some facts he offers:

The review by the agency staff, he said, determined that about 465 children had taken part in the trials between 1988 and 2001, with most participating before current treatments for AIDS became commonly available. He said that according to the records only two children were removed from foster parents who refused to undergo the trials and that both of those children had serious medical conditions that required treatment.

But Vera Hassner Sharav, the president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection says the agency can't be trusted to in effect investigate itself:

She said that documents filed with the federal government showed that many of the foster children were only presumed to have AIDS. "It's a hell of a thing to give a child toxic drugs when they are only presumed to have AIDS," Ms. Sharav said.

And it doesn't end there.

News-Medical.Net focuses on the outrage and includes these questions raised by New York State Assemblyman Keith Wright:

--Who made the decision to administer the drugs?
--How old were the children, and where were they from?
--Given that this program began in an era when people had yet to fully comprehend the how and why people contracted HIV, were the children made aware of what medications they were taking, and for what they were taking them?
---Given that medical science was not nearly advanced at the time this program began, was sound medical science utilized in administration of these drugs?
--Were the foster or birth parents made aware, and was permission given?

Meanwhile, the AP has lots of info on the controversy and offers this on what comes next:

The review also will examine whether the children fit the medical criteria to be included in the tests and if the enrollments were appropriate given the medical knowledge of the time, according to the ACS.

Mattingly said he did not believe that any children had died from their participation in the research.

He said investigators will try to find as many of the participating children as possible to assess their current medical condition, and the agency will also be reviewing records to see if there were more children who participated.

If you ponder this case, you can see that the key questions (as from the ones Wright raised) are these:

  1. If this indeed happened, what kinds of drugs were tested?
  2. Who ordered them to be tested?
  3. Who specifically got the drugs?
  4. What, if anything, resulted from the drugs? Did the drugs help or hurt these children? If so, specifically, in what ways?
  5. What are the specifics — even if it only occured with one case — regarding any foster parents whose kids were removed because they would not agree to it? What do these foster parents (if they are still around) have to say under oath to investigators? Every effort should be made to locate them.

On a case like this there seem to be several possible outcomes.

It could turn out that this is a case of a group and some elected officials making allegations that prove to be overblown. Credibility is like oil in a well. Once removed, you can't put more back in.

Or it could turn out that for some 20 years foster kids were used as human guinea pigs and pulled out of homes where their foster parents wouldn't agree. The argument will then be made that the intentions weren't bad and that if the drugs succeeded millions of lives could be saved. But if the allegations are proven true then those arguments, we are sure, will tested extensively by some lawyers who could become quite rich.


Reform Judaism Endorses Worldpride 2005

Reform Movement Endorses Worldpride 2005, Urges Israeli Government to
Enable Its Going Forward


Great Salon Article - Contributed from 'Bean

Sexual revolutionaries
"Petropolis" author Marjane Satrapi talks about why Iranians don't think sex is sinful, the hypocrisy of American saber-rattling over Iran, and why George Bush and the mullahs are "the same."

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Michelle Goldberg

April 25, 2005 | Beneath their black robes and mandatory head scarves, the women in Marjane Satrapi's graphic memoirs about Iran after the revolution are worldly even by Western standards. Outdoors in Tehran, where the guardians of the revolution prowl, men and women don't so much as hold hands. Inside, behind closed doors, they have affairs, marry and divorce, drink and dance, and revel in dirty jokes and sacrilegious samizdat. Their sensuality is a rebellion against the mullahs' pinched and brutal theocracy, so they take their pleasures seriously.

By inviting outsiders into this intimate world, Satrapi makes contemporary Iran seem both less foreign and more terrifying. In "Persepolis" and "Persepolis 2," she used deceptively simple comic-book imagery to tell a riveting story about her childhood in Iran, her teenage exile in Europe, and her not-at-all-triumphant return home. (She's now adapting "Persepolis" into an animated movie for French TV.) The life she draws -- with her cosmopolitan, politically engaged parents, her adolescent obsession with punk rock, her search for solace in books and boyfriends -- is typical of well-off, precocious city kids everywhere. The familiarity makes readers feel the Satrapi family's horrified disbelief as fundamentalists obsessed with sex and death take over their country.

To be a secularist in America right now is to feel some faint shadow of that same horror. When I spoke to Satrapi by phone from her home in Paris, I was reluctant to make comparisons between Iran's tyrannical mullahs and our homegrown Christian theocrats, because I didn't want to trivialize her country's exponentially greater suffering. She, however, had no such qualms. "They are the same!" she said in a rush of slightly broken, accented English, launching into a plea for solidarity among all enemies of fundamentalism. "The secular people, we have no country. We the people -- all the secular people who are looking for freedom -- we have to keep together. We are international, as they" -- the fanatics of all religions -- "are international."

Satrapi's latest, "Embroideries," is less explicitly political than the Persepolis books. The earlier works combined the public and private, drawing surreal contrasts between the small currents of domestic life and the catastrophes of history. In "Embroideries," Satrapi confines herself to the dramas that happen inside, telling the romantic (or unromantic) tales of a group of female relatives and friends. Yet in the context of a regime determined to control women's sexuality, these stories are subversive.

The title itself sounds quaint and homey, but it's a spiky double-entendre. In a "full embroidery" operation, we learn, a woman's vagina is sewn to trick her husband into thinking he married a virgin. Satrapi's book is a mocking rebuke to the cult of chastity, and a statement about the way human passions find their way around the most determined repression.

One thing that comes through in all of your books is that the regime in Iran hasn't been able to change people's interior, human lives.

Absolutely. In the first place, when you look at the whole history of Iran, Iran has always been attacked. It has been attacked by the Greeks, by the Romans, by the Chinese. There has always been war, especially when you look at the last 200 years. And I think this creates a behavior that, if you want to survive, the only thing that you can do is to keep your interior life for yourself, because the rest is not up to you. I think this is something that has become part of our genetics.

For instance, when I was a child and I was going to school after the revolution happened, there were whole lessons to brainwash us, and we were supposed to become extremely religious and all of that. The reason that we escaped from that was that the parents, they would say, "Don't believe whatever they tell you in school. Learn the things that you should know about mathematics or geography. The rest of it is not true." And they would tell us what was their truth. It's in this way that we could keep who we were.

Your parents are so extraordinary in these books. Was the freedom they gave you common among educated Iranians?

I had extremely modern-thinking parents, even for Europeans or Westerners in general. They put a lot of faith in me. They trusted me. I was not brought up like a girl. I was the only child. My father taught me how to drive when I was 11 and a half!

They were young in the '60s and had all these ideas of emancipation and openness and all of that. In Iran, we were almost always under dictatorship, but in my private house where I was living, even if we wanted to buy a sofa, each person had one vote, and my vote counted just as much as my parents'. They had ideas about how a child should be, and they stayed extremely faithful to their ideas.

I don't know if this is common or not common, but in my [extended] family, most of the parents were very nice and open-minded and easygoing, and my friends' parents were the same.

I don't pretend that I am presenting the whole population of Iran. Of course if you come from a poor neighborhood or you come from a very small town in the middle of nowhere, probably your life is not the same. I'm always talking about my own experiences.

In "Persepolis," the familiarity of your family life makes it more harrowing and frightening when the revolution and the war with Iraq intrude. It makes you see how normality can be blown wide open.

Exactly, and suddenly it's completely leaning the other way, and you have to react very fast. Suddenly there's this really big change and nobody was expecting it. Talking and laughing was the only way to survive. Either we had to laugh or we had to die.

Reading your books, I sometimes think that people are the same everywhere. But even though the women in your stories are very ironic and sophisticated, there is still a big difference between the sexual mores of Iran and the West. How significant is that difference?

The subject of sexuality is, I think, both more and less a taboo in Iran. In the West I have the feeling, living here for a long time, sex is much more related to sin. In Iran, sex is not considered a sin. A woman, even in the Islamic Republic of Iran, if she can prove that her husband cannot do it with her, then she can ask for a divorce. It's not a sinful thing, the sex act itself.

I'm not talking from the legal point of view. I'm talking about the way the people think about it or talk about it. But then comes the issue of virginity, and virginity for me is really the sign of a patriarchal society. In a patriarchal society in which the father is the chief of the family, he owns the land and he owns the cow and he owns the house and he owns his wife, and so it's better if she is not secondhand. If you want to buy a pair of shoes, it is better that nobody else has worn them before you -- it is something like that.

But at the same time, nobody stops any divorced woman from remarrying. Divorce is not considered something terrible in Iran. In Tehran, actually, one couple out of two gets a divorce.

In Iran, sex is a problem before marriage. After marriage, it's much less of a problem. Here in the West, I very rarely hear older women, 60 or 65, talking about sex. From the moment they have menopause, sex is over for women. In Iran, I think it goes for a longer time.

America is much more open than Iran, and our public culture is more sexual, but the women in your books strike me as more down to earth about sex and relationships than we are. In the United States right now there's an absolute panic about divorce, that it's destroying our culture. And there's a hysterical romanticization of marriage...

Absolutely, absolutely! They show the belly of pregnant women every second, and write that this actress and that actress is pregnant ... they consider that the belly of the woman is just made to make children.

And also they teach in the schools -- I know American teenagers -- instead of teaching them how to have safe sex, they tell them that they shouldn't fuck at all! It doesn't work. People, when they are 17, they are so full of hormones, and the only thing they think about from the morning until the night is sex, sex, sex. Teaching them how to have safe sex is much more logical.

You have gone through a period in the '60s with sexual liberation and all of that. Now there is this whole thing in America about having to be secure -- security makes us very conservative. And there's a very big coming back of these very moral, religious, heavy things -- not having sex before marriage and all of that.

On the contrary, in Iran people are on the way to make a sexual revolution. It's a little bit later than what has happened in Europe.

I read that Iran has just liberalized its abortion laws.

Abortion in Iran is not considered a sin. Even when it was not legalized, if a woman says, "I had an abortion," it's fine. Nobody will judge her. It's considered something normal. I have seen so many people having abortions in Iran and they are not suffering, because the society doesn't make them feel sinful. If you have a child and you abandon your child, then people will say, "What a bitch, why did you do that?" But why make unhappy kids, if you already know you're going to make them unhappy? Even when you decide you're going to be an excellent mother, you fuck up your child. So if from the beginning you think that you're going to be a lousy mother, it's better not to be one.

In America, the religious right thinks that, through new laws and strictures, they can change the way people behave in their private lives. Everything about your work shows that that's impossible.

This is impossible! Do they think that children in the high school, because they tell them "Don't fuck," that they will stop doing it?

Especially when they couldn't even stop people in Iran, where you could be arrested or whipped.


At the same time that Iranians have a much more conservative regime and government, I have the feeling that they're much more liberated. They're much more liberated talking about abortion, talking about sex, talking about divorce.

When I got divorced it was no big deal. Life moves on. Yeah, I made a marriage and it was not the right one. My grandmother, she got divorced also. Almost everybody in my family has had a divorce. It's not a big deal. And normally, their second marriage has been much happier. Or if it hasn't, so you marry six people, seven people! It proves that you've lived, that you haven't been bored your whole life!

You said something interesting before -- that fears about security make us conservative. Can you explain the connection?

First, people have stopped talking about pleasure. Eating is a pleasure, but they will tell you if you eat you're going to get high cholesterol. If you make love, you're going to get AIDS. If you smoke, you're going to get cancer. But smoking is a pleasure -- I'm a smoker, I can testify. Eating is a pleasure. Making love is a pleasure. OK, it's a risk sometimes.

The fact is, the world is very fearful, because we don't know who the enemy is. The world is at war, but at war against who? Bin Laden turns into Saddam and Saddam turns into someone else. They all the time talk about security. Security, security, security. But when you talk about security, then everything is about being safe. And being safe also means having less freedom.

It makes a society much more conservative, looking for security. If you have freedom, then you have more risks. It goes together. Myself, I prefer to take some risks, and once in a while it's going to hurt. My grandmother always said the saddest life is to be born a cow and to die a donkey.

What does that mean?

That means you are born stupid, and you're going to die even more stupid.

In your life you have to experience things; you have to see things. What is the interest of life if you're always scared and you don't see anyone and don't go anywhere? What is the point in living? Just eating and shitting and making money?

The interest of life is somewhere else. The whole world has become more conservative, and at the same time we Iranians, who are supposed to be the most conservative, I think we are less conservative. The young people, they have been brought up by the schools to be extreme fanatics, but they are secular. They are more secular than my generation.

Some conservatives here think that secular young Iranians would be happy if America would come and liberate them. What would you say to them?

Democracy, contrary to what they try to tell us, it's not a paper that you hang on the wall and then you have a democracy. Democracy is a social evolution. It is something cultural. Iranians, they have become much more secular, and they are ready for democracy, but they have to fight themselves for democracy, and the only thing that other countries can do is to understand their fight and help them in their fight.

They [America] talk about the human rights in Iran ... how is it that the United States makes the biggest deals with China, and China is far from respecting human rights? What about Saudi Arabia? If you want to talk about an inquisition, the Iranian regime is far from being an inquisition. We have almost a free press, people leave, women have the right to study, they drive, they work. Saudi Arabia, they don't have anything like that! Talk about human rights in Saudi Arabia! Why doesn't anyone go and put a bomb in Saudi Arabia and kill the king?

Do you think it's ironic that, in the face of American threats, you almost find yourself defending the Iranian regime?

Absolutely, but if we want a democracy, the Iranian people have to do it themselves. The Americans say they want a democracy in Iran, and at the same time, when the Iranians wanted to become democratic in 1953 with [Mohammad] Mosaddeq and to nationalize our oil, the CIA came and made a coup d'état in my country. Why do you want me to believe that they want to come and make a democracy? We have to make our democracy!

There are many things that I wish for in my country -- I want my country to be free, I want my country to be democratic, I don't want any journalists to go to jail because of an article they wrote in my country. But if the United States of America attacked my country, no matter what, I would be against the United States.

Is there anything that outsiders who want to support Iranian liberals can do to help them?

Absolutely! You have the Federation for Human Rights -- I work with them -- and so many things like that. Internationally, instead of making wars and dropping bombs, instead they can make a much more powerful United Nations. They can make international law. How was it possible that they stopped Milosevic, and they brought him to the court at The Hague? They can do things like that!

For the people who think that America will come and liberate them, I invite them to read the history and see what America has done. I'm not talking about American people. I'm in love with American people. I love going to the United States of America. I've been for several book tours; I've come for vacation with my husband. For me it's an amazing country. I love the enthusiasm of Americans ... I love the pop art, I love the American cinema, there are so many things that I love about America! I love Coca-Cola, you know?

My criticism is not towards America -- it's towards the American government, which to me are two different things. The America that I know is not represented by George W. Bush.

Do you see similarities between the Christian fundamentalists in our government and the mullahs in Iran?

They're the same! George Bush and the mullahs of Iran, they use the same words! The mullahs of Iran say we have God on our side; he has God on his side, too. Both of them are convinced that they are going to eradicate evil in the world. But when these words come out of the mouth of a mullah, it's normal. It's a shame that the president of the biggest secular democracy in the world talks with the same words as the mullahs. It's extremely scary.

Do you have any advice for secular Americans who are faced with living in a country that's increasingly governed by religious fundamentalists?

If I have any advice, it's that every day that you wake up, don't say, "This is normal." Every day, wake up with this idea that you have to defend your freedom. Nobody has the right to take from women the right to abortion, nobody has the right to take from homosexuals the right to be homosexual, nobody has the right to stop people laughing, to stop people thinking, to stop people talking.

If I have one message to give to the secular American people, it's that the world is not divided into countries. The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don't know each other, but we talk together and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

About the writer
Michelle Goldberg is a senior writer for Salon based in New York.


If You Think the U.S. Healthcare System is the Envy of the World

Julien's List has a resident dissident, who stated in a comment recently..."The US health care system in the envy of the world. People come from every country when they wish for the best care. I know that we do not have socialized medicine or rationing as you might like."

First of all, this very loyal reader assumes that (like most of his/her ilk) that "if you are not just so HAPPY about our healthcare system" you must want socialized medine. Wow. I cannot imagine a world like this reader, who lives in a world of such absolutes -such black and white...

One of my largest clients is in the re-insurance industry. Through doing marketing for them, I have learned that the only people who come to the US for healthcare are those who can pay "in full" at the cashiers desk at the hospital. The healthcare in the US is GREAT - if you can pay for it. If you are from another country, you literally have to pass by the hospital's "cashier" window before they will do so much as check your heartbeat. If you have money you get treated...if you don't have money, well...

Remember that difference. Once again, as Holly has said so MANY times to you...please go educate yourself.

Dear loyal reader, you are boring in your ignorance. Boring. I am at the end of my efforts of trying to educate you in the facts (not opinion). My awareness is better served elsewhere. This last statement about people coming from "all over" to get our healthcare is the cream of the crop of ignorant statements...if "everyone" could access our care, why are so many "heterosexuals" (i.e. women and children) dying in Africa of AIDS and starvation, with NO help at all -and certainly no access to "US" healthcare.

You are ignorant, but not stupid, so once again, as Holly has stated her entreaty - go EDUCATE YOURSELF...for your good, not ours. We already know how it is...


Naming Names...

The tone of our country does make one think about the McCarthy era - and I am so sorry to think that those young enough not to remember it personally (including myself, at age 37), will most likely see - sooner than we think - family members literally pitted against family members.

Remember, those of you who say what they are doing to the "gay community" doesn't affect you ... if they can get into our bedrooms and personal lives, they will come after YOURS next. Complacency and apathy will be your biggest enemies, moderates - NOT the gay community.

Ms. Julien


Saturday, April 23, 2005

Let's Answer John's Question...

Great post from Julien's List guest contributor "'Bean" in response to the many, many excellent posts on AmericaBlog about the Microsoft betrayal (there are too many to post here - just follow the AmericaBlog link above and you can see them all).

John - to respond to your question . . . .

I think Ohio is their final goal.

Ohio seems to be their giant "test market" for their agenda: remember the discussions here regarding how Ohio is changing starting here over a year ago?

What does my theory mean? What if the nation is to become Ohio?

It means:

(1) No Darwin in the public schools - their Great Maker (even as they themselves made that maker bereft of its Catholic and Jewish roots; they embrace a tradition of their own making) made the world.

Science "proves" it, or so they argue. So Ohio took science out of science class. Who needs science when Jeeeezzuzz tells ya?

(2) No gays welcome - their 2002 changes to the Ohio Revised Code and the 2004 changes to The Ohio Constitution (the most Draconian in the USA) prove this attitude.

(3) No Non-Christians welcome. In Ohio, the city, county, and state offices show overt expressions of Christianity; especially when Christmas and Easter come to pass. Nobody else gets to express their religious sentiments - just the Friends of Ken Blackwell and the Ohio Restoration Project. Jews, Buddhists, etc. need not apply: they have no rights.

(4) Massive tax breaks for business in the name of "job growth." Given Ohio has lost the most jobs under Bush, that means, in reality, massive tax breaks for business in the name of moving that business to China or India.

(4 1/2) Massive "relaxation" in environmental rules - more breaks for business in the name of "job growth." Given Ohio has STILL lost the most jobs under Bush, that means, in reality, massive tax breaks for business in the name of moving that business to Mexico - so the business owners can argue the regulations in Ohio are still not sufficiently "relaxed."

(5) Higher unemployment. See 4 and 4 1/2.

(6) Higher gas prices.

(7) "Job retraining" to work at McDonalds.

(8) Faith-based anything and everything. Faith-based urination will shortly be mandated in bars (just kidding - I hope).

Which leads me to the following conclusion: WE ARE SCREWED

As the economy and social fabric (that "social fabric" was, after all, once provided by the government) decline, we will become the source of the blame.

We want science in place of faith because we are immoral secularists - as dictated by our homosexual practices.

We are greedy, single yuppies wanting high returns on our investments (all gays are well-to-do: ever watch 'Will and Grace?'): it is our fault companies are divesting of better paying jobs here to feed our hungry, bottomless portfolios.

We are ridden with AIDS, syphilis, and other illnesses brought about by our practices. Even Andrew Sullivan (bare-backing studfucker he is) will take blame because it's our drain on Medicare/Medicaid that is putting our "system in crisis."

Sure - this is hyperbole: but my point is I am reflecting John's comment back.

We *WILL* be blamed for everything. We will be blamed for we already *ARE* being blamed for everything.

I've been pushing the idea (very, *VERY* hard) that those of us on the progressive side of things need to move to Blue States *PRONTO*. If needed, we need to get help from our friends already in blue states to get the "Red Refugees" among us to blue havens, too.

Why have I been arguing that the "Red Refugees" need to relocate Blue?

Because the Microsoft event proves what I have suspected all along.

What I have suspected is: (1) the red-states are utterly past redemption at this point.

(2) the Blue States are under heavy assault and need *ALL* the help they can get.

What more evidence do you want now that our own long-time supporter has turned-tail???

In the short term, I have an even greater concern for those in Red States.

That concern is overt violence against gay-lesbian folk from far-right Christian radicals; the types who used to burn crosses and hang blacks.

Given such people are only one step away from power in many Red States, I expect to see murder, in the "Name of Jeeeezuz and Christianity" go unpunished because the murderer's friends sit in government and the courts.


Possibly as early as this summer; summer seems to be the time for that kind of behavior (think "race riots" of the 1960s - but this time, we're the targets).

Just my two cents worth . . . .



Albert Einstein's Forgotten Legacy

Also, Einstein was a proud Zionist who was offered the presidency of the new State of Israel.

Ze'ev Rosenkranz in The Forward
April 22, 2005

This year there are countless conferences, exhibitions and publications dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's annus mirabilis, the miracle year in which he revolutionized our concepts of time, space, energy and matter. But since his death 50 years ago this week, scant attention has been paid to his political and social opinions, writings or activities.

In our non-ideological era, it has widely been forgotten that in spite of his amazing breakthroughs in the realm of physics, Einstein always found time to be intensely involved in public causes, not shying away from being outspoken and defying the political consensus of the day...


A Couple but Not a Family?

Saturday, April 23, 2005
They're a couple, but not a 'family'
Women united in Vermont turned down for Mason Community Center membership
By Erica Solvig
Cincinnati Enquirer staff writer



And Billmon says:

"The Good German

But historians and Jewish groups agree that the pope's wartime record, which was very common to young men of his generation, has little if any significance today . . .

New York Times
Few See Taint in Service by Pope in Hitler Youth
April 21, 2005

"The majority went. That does not make all of them Nazis ... I wouldn't say that Ratzinger made a choice. He rather slipped into the Hitler Youth thing."

Father Rupert Berger, a contemporary
of Ratzinger who refused to join the Hitler Youth

Interview with Newsday
April 22, 2005

Haselbeck said Traunstein responded to Nazism as an ordinary Bavarian town would, and Ratzinger responded like an ordinary resident. "I think it was the normal way for a young man," he said.

Washington Post
Pope's Home Town Walked
a Fine Line Under Nazi Rule

April 22, 2005

Ratzinger insists he never took part in combat or fired a shot, because of a badly infected finger.

The Independent
Pope Benedict: His role in the Nazi years
April 21, 2005

"Resistance was truly impossible."

The pope's brother, Georg Ratzinger
Interview with the Times of London
April 17, 2005


The White Rose Society (German, Die Weiße Rose) was a World War II-era resistance movement in Germany calling for nonviolent resistance against the Nazi regime . . . leaflets were sent out in mass mailings from different cities in Bavaria and Austria, since the members believed that southern Germany would be more receptive to their anti-militarist message.

White Rose
Last updated March 27, 2005

By the summer of 1942, Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell were at the center of a close-knit group of friends who shared the same ideals and interests . . . Hans and Alex were soon joined by Christoph Probst (a level-headed, married soldier and father of three who was loved by everyone who knew him) and Willi Graf (another medical student and a devout Catholic who never joined the Hitler Youth and refused to acknowledge those who did) . . . These friends, sometimes joined by popular philosophy professor Kurt Huber, Jürgen Wittenstein and others, formed the heart of The White Rose.
The White Rose
July 2004

Therefore every individual, conscious of his responsibility as a member of Christian and Western civilization, must defend himself as best he can at this late hour, he must work against the scourges of mankind, against fascism and any similar system of totalitarianism . . . Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure!

The White Rose
First Leaflet

"Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare to express themselves as we did."

White Rose member Sophie Scholl
Testimony before a Nazi "People's Court"
February 1943

That afternoon, the prison guards permitted Hans, Sophie, and Christoph to have one last visit together. Sophie was then led to the guillotine. One observer described her as she walked to her death: "Without turning a hair, without flinching." Christoph Probst was next. Hans Scholl was last; just before he was beheaded, Hans cried out: "Long live freedom!"

Jacob G. Hornberger
The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent
January 1996

"It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others. The Ratzingers were young and had made a different choice."

84-year-old Elizabeth Lohner,
a resident of the pope's home town

Interview with the Times of London
April 17, 2005



On the Endangered Species List: Republicans

"Our Constitution has never been so violated
Thursday, April 21, 2005


The letter written by John Wagenknecht on April 2, titled "Where's my Republican pal?" caused a few members of the Republican Party to become a little defensive. I think I understand why. They're not sure what their party stands for these days. They believe they are "pro-life," but most are pro-death penalty and pro-war. They also believe they are patriots, yet want to change our Constitution to limit our civil rights.

The last one wrote, "Mr. Democrat, you might wonder where your Republican buddies have gone. We are still here, freedom-loving, patriotic Americans." Whose freedom is he talking about? When a person is attacked by our president and other government officials for trying to make the best decision for him and his spouse, such as Michael Schiavo, is that freedom? When a woman's right to choose is threatened every day by our president and his party, is that freedom? When the president wants to amend the Constitution to deny two people of the same sex who love each other the right to create a family environment for themselves, is that freedom? The writer also said, "We believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights." Our Constitution has never been so violated.

Where do I start? Separation of church and state, or the part about all Americans being created equal? In that regard he writes, "Yes, most of us believe in the Lord God Almighty just as the founders of our country did." Their party continues to spin this as higher morality and the party that's closer to the, "Lord God Almighty." I don't find morality in an administration that would mislead American citizens and invade a country where so many innocent people -- and sadly, so many children -- were killed, all for self-interest.

The fact is, they don't believe in the United States Constitution, and they are not American patriots. The Democratic Party does and always has fought to protect the constitutional rights and freedoms for all, right here at home. True American patriots?

I guess my favorite statement was, "We believe in majority rule, after all, isn't that the foundation of democracy?" Well, we all know that's not true or Al Gore would be President. Forget about Florida, if majority ruled, Al Gore won by over 300,000 votes.

Thanks to John Wagenknecht for his letter. He's not alone in his quest to find his "Republican pal."

(Mancuso is President of the Democrats of Napa Valley Club.)"

For the entire article click here


Christian Fascism 2

From Fanatical Apathy:

"SEATTLE, April 21 (NY Times) - The Microsoft Corporation, at the forefront of corporate gay rights for decades, is coming under fire from gay rights groups, politicians and its own employees for withdrawing its support for a state bill that would have barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Many of the critics accused the company of bowing to pressure from a prominent evangelical church in Redmond, Wash., located a few blocks from Microsoft's sprawling headquarters.

Microsoft officials denied any connection between their decision not to endorse the bill and the church's opposition, although they acknowledged meeting twice with the church minister, Ken Hutcherson.

Dr. Hutcherson, pastor of the Antioch Bible Church, who has organized several rallies opposing same-sex marriage here and in Washington, D.C., said he threatened in those meetings to organize a national boycott of Microsoft products.

After that, "they backed off," the pastor said Thursday in a telephone interview. "I told them I was going to give them something to be afraid of Christians about," he said."

Now read his analysis here.


Christian Fascism

For the articles, click here, here, here, here and here


State of Ohio's Money invested with Financial Felon

Article published Saturday, April 23, 2005

Calls for coin-fund answers grow
3 GOP [Ohio state] senators question practices surrounding state investment

COLUMBUS — For the first time, Republicans joined Democrats yesterday in asking tough questions about the state’s $50 million investment in rare coins.

A day after The Blade reported that one of the people hired by local coin dealer Tom Noe to manage a state-funded coin venture was convicted of a felony for faking a rare-coin transaction to cover up drug money, three GOP senators said they want answers to several questions.

The Blade reported yesterday that Mark Chrans, now 41, was convicted of fraud and perjury in federal court for his role in laundering cocaine profits in 1981. Chrans is the same manager who caused Mr. Noe’s Capital Coin to write off $850,000 over the last three years because of bad coin deals, an unpaid loan, and salary advances.

“That is disconcerting,” said Sen. Kirk Schuring (R., Canton)....


Maureen Dowd's Column on VP Dick Cheney and New Pope Benedict XVI

"The two, from rural, conservative parts of their countries, want to turn back the clock and exorcise New Age silliness. Mr. Cheney wants to dismantle the New Deal and go back to 1937. Pope Benedict XVI wants to dismantle Vatican II and go back to 1397. As a scholar, his specialty was "patristics," the study of the key thinkers in the first eight centuries of the church."


Doctors to Abort Abortions?

Doctors Are Warned on Fetus Care
Guidelines Are Issued on Born-Alive Infants Protection Act

By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page A07

The Bush administration issued guidelines yesterday advising physicians and hospitals that under a 2002 law they are obligated to care for fetuses "born alive" naturally or in the process of an abortion, and medical providers could face penalties for withholding treatment...


WP Editorials on the Diabolical Christian Religious Right

Hijacking Christianity
By Colbert I. King
Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page A19
The American flag was appropriated by the political right wing years ago. Now the Christian right is trying to hijack religion. This time it shouldn't be allowed to happen without a fight...

Smearing Christian Judges
By Paul Gaston
Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page A19
People calling themselves Christians are gathering once again for a crusade against what they consider to be the secular humanist subversion of Christian values. This time the object of their wrath is the judiciary...


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Injudicious Rhetoric

Thanks to Holly, hard at work at a trade show in Chicago, for sending me a link to this:

The federal judiciary has an enormous impact in shaping life in America. The political debate over what kind of judges we want in these lifetime positions is legitimate and important.

Not so legitimate is the use of exaggerated, inflammatory rhetoric and religious invective by conservative groups that are waging all-out war on judicial independence — a dangerous trend that has alarmed a broad spectrum of Jewish leaders. And politicians who should know better are joining the chorus.

This week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was scheduled to appear on a simulcast organized by conservative Christian groups to support Republican efforts to end filibusters on judicial nominees. The filibuster is a legitimate issue for debate. What is alarming is the claim by some of these groups that their opponents, as well as the judges they accuse of “judicial tyranny,” are waging war against people of faith.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) recently appeared at a forum on “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith” with activists who called for the wholesale impeachment of federal judges and at least one who suggested that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was driven by “satanic” principles. And in a Senate floor statement that may have set a new low for irresponsibility, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) seemed to suggest a possible connection between several recent courthouse attacks and public dissatisfaction with liberal judges.

Taken together, all of this points to an escalating assault by forces with little understanding of the separation of powers in the American system and a reckless willingness to use the most dangerous, inflammatory kind of rhetoric.

As Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman noted last week, the fight over the judiciary is a political one, not a religious struggle.

“Whatever one’s views may be on this or any other issue, playing the religious card is as unacceptable as playing the race card,” Foxman said.

We agree. It’s important to support judicial independence even when it produces unpopular results, and it’s critical to avoid escalating what has already become a bitter culture war with ugly religious overtones.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Who Uses Microsoft More - the Educated or the Wingnuts??

Will this ever stop? Please read this, and if your heart tells you to, take action. Please.

Ms. Julien


Gay-Bashin’ for God

Folks, this was posted on Big Brass Blog, by my fellow Bloggrrll, Shakespeare's Sister. I have not read anything on this subject that I like better...I have cribbed it in its entirety, and pledge my undying admiration for the "pen" of SS:
Da New Pope (as Ezra would say) doesn’t like da faggots. As anyone who’s spent more than five seconds hanging around this joint knows, at Shakespeare’s Sister, we likes da faggots, and so we don’t likes da new pope.

In 1986, Pope Ratz (as by which he will heretofore be referred) wrote a Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, in which he recommended that “appropriate forms of pastoral care for homosexual persons” be developed with “the assistance of the psychological, sociological and medical sciences, in full accord with the teaching of the Church,” even though homosexuality had been removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) thirteen years earlier. By 1986, the psychological, sociological, and medical sciences didn’t regard homosexuality as a “disorder” in need of treatment, but clearly, Pope Ratz (and the rest of the church) did.
Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.
If it weren’t for the fact that this gay-hating bigot was just made head of the largest network of institutionalized homophobia in the universe, that would almost be laughable. A strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil, says the former member of the Hitler Youth. Whether he was compelled to join or joined voluntarily is a matter of debate, but regardless of the origins of Pope Ratz’s former Nazi associations, including serving in the German army, they surely gave him the opportunity to see intrinsic moral evil up close and personal. Those fuckers were marching the fags off to the gas chambers, not the other way around.

As many as a million gays and lesbians were killed in the concentration camps during the Holocaust, with particularly harsh treatments reserved for gay men, who were also widely recruited for bizarre scientific experimentation, in search of a cure for future Aryan homosexuals. Gay men also had the highest death rate (60%) of any other social group relegated to the camps by the Nazis. Lesbians and gays were viewed as a threat to the future of the Aryan race, because they did not procreate, and when the Nazis came into power, they facilitated a swift backlash against the progressiveness of Berlin which had fostered a vibrant and thriving gay community. The entire country was delivered a steady stream of anti-gay propaganda, and the Hitler Youth were indoctrinated with virulent homophobia, which may well explain Pope Ratz’s strange acceptance of violence against gays, even as he condemns it:
It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.

But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.
A man like this has no business leading the church.

Using the same logic that instituting protections against lesbians and gays will incite violence against them, because they have no right to be protected, it is understandable why the church makes no exceptions for abortions when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. Clearly, the victims of crime deserve no remedy, if such remedy is anathema to church teaching. Once brutalized by an attacker, prepare to be victimized again by the church if you want anything more than prayer.

I reject this pope, I reject his church, and I reject its teachings. I reject the notion that people I love are evil for being gay, or that any expression of love between two consenting adults is somehow sinful. There’s nothing sinful about love, and there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the way I love Mr. Shakes, and the way Pam loves Kate, and Mr. Furious loves Mr. Curious; I reject all claims to the contrary. And if that consigns my eternal soul to the fires of hell, then off I go, tra la la. I never fucking liked harps, anyway.
And the way Ms. Julien loves Dr. Alix...(note from Ms. J)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)