Saturday, February 28, 2009

Weekly Address 2/28/09

President Obama explains how the budget he sent to Congress will fulfill the promises he made as a candidate, and assures special interests that he is ready for the fight.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Infidelity

Warning: I’m going to rant about a few blogs I follow that deal with the topic of infidelity.

One, in particular, is beautifully written. The posts are nothing short of amazing. The writer has a way of making infidelity sound like some romantic tale of passion or a get away adventure.

But infidelity is none of those things.

To me, it’s simply the continual abuse of trust for selfish reasons. Infidelity is just an extension of narcissism (because it takes a truly self centered person to trample all over someone else).

infidelity Pictures, Images and Photos

Do I sound like a prude? I don’t mean to. I’m just really conflicted about my feelings. I believe wholeheartedly in a person’s right to live their life how they see fit, but I can’t stop thinking about the husband and his rights.

For some reason, her infidelity bothers me more since she’s stated time and time again how wonderful her husband is. He’s everything she could ask for in a husband and her best friend. He just doesn’t satisfy her sexually. Therefore, she has the right to sleep with whomever she wishes.

What?

Isn’t love about sacrifice? Sometimes you have to give up selfish pursuits in exchange for being in a relationship. To me that’s one of the basic measures of being an adult. Realizing you can’t always have what you want whenever you want it. And the fact she has such a lovely husband makes it worse in my book (though it shouldn’t).

I don’t care if you want to sleep with one person or twenty. I don’t even care if you sleep with all twenty at the same time. Polyamory, threesomes, swapping, open relationships, it doesn’t matter how unorthodox your relationship is; as long as you’re both on board I think it’s great. There just needs to be honesty with your partner.

And her saying her affairs don’t affect her marriage is just naïve. Whenever you lie to the person your with, even if it’s the absence of truth type of dishonesty, you are hurting your relationship.

Lies build walls.

I don’t want you to think I’m judging her (at least not more than we normally judge people). She has the right to live however she likes. It doesn’t really matter if I think she’s being hypocritical by sleeping with other men while in the same breath saying she would never do anything to hurt her marriage. That’s her choice and I fully respect that (the freedom to make her own choices, not the behavior).

I just wish we weren’t so quick to accept deceit as acceptable behavior. (I also think there’s a double standard in our acceptance of the wife’s infidelity over the husband’s, but that’s a whole other can of worms).

Relationships are complicated and full of grey areas, but deceit isn't on of them.

"The people who love only once in their lives are really the shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect - simply a confession of failures." -Oscar Wilde

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Deep Doo-Doo

I know it's a little ridiculous, but I love this cartoon.


It makes me giggle and some days that's all you can hope for. :)

I found it here.

I think I love you Johann Hari

I want to share this great article from The Independent’s Johann Hari with you guys.

For some back round context, this is actually Hari’s response to criticism his original article received. The article, “Why should I respect these oppressive religions,” was about the horrible changes that were made to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Condensed version:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated 60 years ago that "a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief is the highest aspiration of the common people". It was a Magna Carta for mankind – and loathed by every human rights abuser on earth. The countries of the world have chronically failed to meet it – but the document has been held up by the United Nations as the ultimate standard against which to check ourselves. Until now.

Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed to "respect" the "unique sensitivities" of the religious, they decided – so they issued an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It insisted that you can only speak within "the limits set by the shariah [law]. It is not permitted to spread falsehood or disseminate that which involves encouraging abomination or forsaking the Islamic community".

In other words, you can say anything you like, as long as it precisely what the reactionary mullahs tell you to say.

Incredibly, they are succeeding. The UN's Rapporteur on Human Rights has always been tasked with exposing and shaming those who prevent free speech – including the religious. But the Pakistani delegate recently demanded that his job description be changed so he can seek out and condemn "abuses of free expression" including "defamation of religions and prophets". The council agreed – so the job has been turned on its head.

Anything which can be deemed "religious" is no longer allowed to be a subject of discussion at the UN – and almost everything is deemed religious. Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has tried to raise topics like the stoning of women accused of adultery or child marriage. The Egyptian delegate stood up to announce discussion of shariah "will not happen" and "Islam will not be crucified in this council" – and Brown was ordered to be silent. Of course, the first victims of locking down free speech about Islam with the imprimatur of the UN are ordinary Muslims.

Here is a random smattering of events that have taken place in the past week in countries that demanded this change. In Nigeria, divorced women are routinely thrown out of their homes and left destitute, unable to see their children, so a large group of them wanted to stage a protest – but the Shariah police declared it was "un-Islamic" and the marchers would be beaten and whipped. In Saudi Arabia, the country's most senior government-approved cleric said it was perfectly acceptable for old men to marry 10-year-old girls, and those who disagree should be silenced. In Egypt, a 27-year-old Muslim blogger Abdel Rahman was seized, jailed and tortured for arguing for a reformed Islam that does not enforce shariah.

All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don't respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don't respect the idea that we should follow a "Prophet" who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn't follow him. I don't respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don't respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. This is not because of "prejudice" or "ignorance", but because there is no evidence for these claims. They belong to the childhood of our species, and will in time look as preposterous as believing in Zeus or Thor or Baal.

When you demand "respect", you are demanding we lie to you. I have too much real respect for you as a human being to engage in that charade.

The hijacking of the UN Special Rapporteur by religious fanatics should jolt us into rescuing the simple, battered idea disintegrating in the middle: the equal, indivisible human right to speak freely.

After Hari’s article was published, a major Indian newspaper, The Statesman, decided to reprint it and the editor and publisher were later arrested for "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings"as a result.

This is Hari’s response (I know the articles are long but they’re very well written):
Last week, I wrote an article defending free speech for everyone – and in response there have been riots, death threats, and the arrest of an editor who published the article.

Here's how it happened. My column reported on a startling development at the United Nations. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights has always had the job of investigating governments who forcibly take the fundamental human right to free speech from their citizens with violence. But in the past year, a coalition of religious fundamentalist states has successfully fought to change her job description. Now, she has to report on "abuses of free expression" including "defamation of religions and prophets." Instead of defending free speech, she must now oppose it.

I argued this was a symbol of how religious fundamentalists – of all stripes – have been progressively stripping away the right to freely discuss their faiths. They claim religious ideas are unique and cannot be discussed freely; instead, they must be "respected" – by which they mean unchallenged. So now, whenever anyone on the UN Human Rights Council tries to discuss the stoning of "adulterous" women, the hanging of gay people, or the marrying off of ten year old girls to grandfathers, they are silenced by the chair on the grounds these are "religious" issues, and it is "offensive" to talk about them.

A religious idea is just an idea somebody had a long time ago, and claimed to have received from God. It does not have a different status to other ideas; it is not surrounded by an electric fence none of us can pass.

An Indian newspaper called The Statesman – one of the oldest and most venerable dailies in the country – thought this accorded with the rich Indian tradition of secularism, and reprinted the article. That night, four thousand Islamic fundamentalists began to riot outside their offices, calling for me, the editor, and the publisher to be arrested – or worse.

Then, two days ago, the editor and publisher were indeed arrested. They have been charged – in the world's largest democracy, with a constitution supposedly guaranteeing a right to free speech – with "deliberately acting with malicious intent to outrage religious feelings". I am told I too will be arrested if I go to Calcutta.

What should an honest defender of free speech say in this position? Every word I wrote was true. I believe the right to openly discuss religion, and follow the facts wherever they lead us, is one of the most precious on earth – especially in a democracy of a billion people riven with streaks of fanaticism from a minority of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. So I cannot and will not apologize.

I did not write a sectarian attack on any particular religion, but rather a principled critique of all religions who try to forcibly silence their critics. The right to free speech I am defending protects Muslims as much as everyone else. I passionately support their right to say anything they want – as long as I too have the right to respond.

It's worth going through the arguments put forward by the rioting fundamentalists, because they will keep recurring in the twenty-first century as secularism is assaulted again and again. They said I had upset "the harmony" of India, and it could only be restored by my arrest. But this is a lop-sided vision of "harmony". It would mean that religious fundamentalists are free to say whatever they want – and the rest of us have to shut up and agree.

The protestors said I deliberately set out to "offend" them, and I am supposed to say that, no, no offence was intended. But the honest truth is more complicated. Offending fundamentalists isn't my goal – but if it is an inevitable side-effect of defending human rights, so be it. If fanatics who believe Muslim women should be imprisoned in their homes and gay people should be killed are insulted by my arguments, I don't resile from it. Nothing worth saying is inoffensive to everyone.

You do not have a right to be ring-fenced from offence. Every day, I am offended – not least by ancient religious texts filled with hate-speech. But I am glad, because I know that the price of taking offence is that I can give it too, if that is where the facts lead me. But again, the protestors propose a lop-sided world. They do not propose to stop voicing their own heinously offensive views about women's rights or homosexuality, but we have to shut up and take it – or we are the ones being "insulting".

These events are also a reminder of why it is so important to try to let the oxygen of rationality into religious debates – and introduce doubt. Voltaire – one of the great anti-clericalists – said: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." If you can be made to believe the absurd notion that an invisible deity dictated The Eternal Unchanging Truth to a specific person at a specific time in history and anyone who questions this is Evil, then you can easily be made to demand the death of journalists and free women and homosexuals who question that Truth. But if they have a moment of doubt – if there is a single nagging question at the back of their minds – then they are more likely to hesitate. That's why these ideas must be challenged at their core, using words and reason.

But the fundamentalists are determined not to allow those rational ideas to be heard – because at some level they know they will persuade for many people, especially children and teenagers in the slow process of being indoctrinated.

If, after all the discussion and all the facts about how contradictory and periodically vile their ‘holy' texts are, religious people still choose fanatical faith, I passionately defend their right to articulate it. Free speech is for the stupid and the wicked and the wrong – whether it is fanatics or the racist Geert Wilders – just as much as for the rational and the right. All I say is that they do not have the right to force it on other people or silence the other side.

The solution to the problems of free speech – that sometimes people will say terrible things – is always and irreducibly more free speech. If you don't like what a person says, argue back. Make a better case. Persuade people. The best way to discredit a bad argument is to let people hear it.

Please do not imagine that if you defend these rioters, you are defending ordinary Muslims. If we allow fanatics to silence all questioning voices, the primary victims today will be Muslim women, Muslim gay people, and the many good and honourable Muslim men who support them.

It would be a betrayal to apologize for what I wrote. Yes, if we speak out now, there will be turbulence and threats, and some people may get hurt. But if we fall silent – if we leave the basic human values of free speech, feminism and gay rights undefended in the face of violent religious mobs – then many, many more people will be hurt in the long term. Today, we have to use our right to criticise religion – or lose it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rape and rape fantasies

As I sit here deleting and retyping words, I realize there’s no way pretty way to say I was raped.

For years I wouldn’t even use the word at all. If the need arose, I would say I was “sexually assaulted.” The word “rape” is complicated and people don’t know how to deal with complicated. It’s a word that forces us to feel and question and relate to other human beings. It’s a word I hate and hope to eventually be unneeded.

Just typing the word is like ash in my mouth.

But I want to share my story. Someone who writes a blog I follow, Oh My God, That Britni’s Shameless, has recently had to deal with being raped herself and I’m hoping my story might help her or someone else. This isn’t something I talk about, so I’m not sure how it will come out. I’m not looking for sympathy, just understanding.

And if I only ever give one honest, naked piece of myself to this blog, then I want it to be this.

The first thing you have to understand is the way I grew up because you shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you I was only thirteen when this happened. Sad to say, that any rap video will give you a pretty good description of my childhood. Drugs, alcohol, sex, dropping out of school, prison, shoplifting, and foster homes were the norm where I lived. It wasn’t strange for girls to have kids before they were fifteen or to date men twice their age. Both my parents were tweakers and though my mother tried, she didn’t really give a shit what I was up to. So even though I was thirteen, had been drinking Cisco all day (yes because I really was that ghetto) and he was 22, it wasn’t some astounding significance. It just was just the way things happened where I lived.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I said no.

I’m not going to get into the details of what happened, but the first step was admitting that I really was raped. I’m ashamed it took me as long as it did. For a long time I thought maybe it wasn’t rape but somehow something less. I may have said no, but I didn’t fight or scream so how can it really be rape? I wasn’t beaten up or bruised. I didn’t press charges. I figured it must have been my fault, especially since it was someone I knew. Someone I had slept with before (once). In fact, he was the first person I ever slept with. How can it be rape? There a hundred thousand lies I've told myself to believe I wasn't raped.

But I’ll never forget the brief words, “It’s so cute the way you say no,” that he whispered in my ear as he took off my clothes.

That’s the part that’s really stayed with me all these years. The fact I still hesitate to say I was raped is one of the most upsetting things about the whole situation. That and the fact I can look at my situation with such detachment. It’s like it happened to someone else. I can look back and see it, but I can’t feel it and I want to be able to feel something. Anything. Rage or despair, it makes little difference.

Instead I feel nothing.

This happened ten years ago though so I’ve had a long time to come to terms with my situation and cope. That being said, I want to touch on another subject Britni brought up which is her fantasies involving rape since I have them too.

Personally, I don’t think there is anything shameful about being raped and then having rape fantasies. Fantasies are an unrealistic way at looking at sex. Even though a lot of fantasies can be achieved, they still derive from the imagination and are therefore outside of reality.

Rape fantasies are usually about being overpowered and taken by another person. This other person is overcome with lust and want and therefore can’t control themselves. The woman is absolved of any responsibility and walks away feeling wanted and desired. We see this time and time again in books and movies. Nancy Friday wrote in her 1973 classic My Secret Garden, "Rape does for a woman's sexual fantasy what the first martini does for her in reality: Both relieve her of responsibility and guilt… She gets him to do what she wants him to do, while seeming to be forced."

In reality though, rape is none of these things. It’s about power and violence and sexual fulfillment of only the offender.

The sad reality is our bodies were made for sexual reproduction and therefore respond to sexual arousal whether we want it to or not. The betrayal of a persons body (responding or having orgasms) while being raped is one of the most complex feelings we can experience and is one of the hardest aspects to deal with.

So I guess that's it. If you're reading this and you've been sexually assaulted, remember you're not alone and it does get better.

Here is a link to RAINN, The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. I hope you never have to use it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Abstinence is like...like um... Unrealistic

As my boyfriend can attest to, abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education turns me into a raving lunatic.

Seriously, I’m surprised I don’t start foaming at the mouth. It’s that bad.

Under the Bush Administration, funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs rose from $97.5 million in 2000 to $215 million in 2008.

The funding has just kept rising and rising even though numerous studies, including a federally funded evaluation, have shown that these programs are ineffective. Yet since the churches are all for it, congressmen are reluctant to do anything about this enormous waste of spending (the democrats are just as much to blame here).

As most people capable of rational thought, I figured this would not be an issue in the Obama administration. Unfortunately, based on the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill $94 million will be given to these failed programs. $94 million dollars.

WTF?

I want to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, and one observer suggested it was too late to remove funding for abstinence-only from the Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 appropriations bill, but it's hard to when this is clearly such a waste.

Just look at Texas.

The Texas Freedom Network just released a study that shows, “classrooms are perpetuating a “conspiracy of silence” that robs young people of the reliable information they need to make responsible life decisions. Even worse, the information students do receive about sexuality and health is often grossly distorted or simply wrong.”

Regardless of one’s personal opinions about sexuality education, we should all be able to agree on this point: students should not be taught incorrect information in school. Unfortunately, the numerous examples of blatantly incorrect and misleading information in classroom materials make clear that many Texas public schools fail this most basic test.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Texas leads the nation in federal abstinence education dollars and has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the nation.

Or what about the report that found teens in Florida, a state that relies on abstinence-only programs, who believed drinking a can of Mt. Dew would prevent unintended pregnancy, or drinking a capful of bleach would prevent HIV/AIDS?

Then there’s my personal favorite, the Ohio program Abstinence ‘Till Marriage’s Party Room.

If you haven’t heard, after you enter the “Party Room,” you learn the story of Rochelle, Jason, Monica and Tanner. Each person tells their perspective about what happens during and after a party one night that pretty upholds the idea that if women aren’t saintly, then we shouldn’t believe them when they’re raped since they obviously deserve it.

Amplify your voice wrote a great post about it here.
Rochelle tells how she drove her drunken friend Jason home after the party, and then is raped by him. Jason denies that the rape happened, saying their sex was consensual. Monica and Tanner observe that Jason was being a drunken idiot the entire night, with Monica (Jason’s ex) adding her opinion that Rochelle has a reputation for “putting out” and being a “slut”.

The site then asks the question: “Based on all accounts, whose story sounds the least credible?”

Guess who is the “correct” answer? Rochelle.

Why, you ask? Because she “made several questionable decisions”, “she had a motive to lie” and, lest we forget, “she’s been pinned reputation (sic) for being ‘loose’”

It’s hard not to overemphasize the sickness in this “correct” answer. Rochelle is not be believed. After all, she drove in a car with a boy. And she’s actually had sex before, or at least people say that she has, which is apparently the same thing and equally worthy of disbelief after you’ve been raped.

The site then asks if we know that a rape occurred. The “correct” answer says that we don’t know, emphasizing again that Rochelle has a "motive to lie", and that:

“Unfortunately, we are left judging (Rochelle’s) honesty by her character and her actions"... “Monica implied Rochelle had a promiscuous reputation and the whole school seemed to know it.”

Ah, yes. Her “character”. They once again remind us that “sluts” aren’t to be trusted. Why should we listen or care about them, right?

The site then goes a step further, adding a degree of sympathy for the actions of the rapist: “Also, alcohol makes people less inhibitive. Jason was extremely vulnerable to his circumstances”.

Vulnerable? Less inhibitive? What exactly are they saying here, that rape is a “less inhibitive” behavior? That alcohol made poor Jason “vulnerable” to being a sick rapist asshole? Seriously, I’d like to know what the hell their point is on this one.

Perhaps the sickest aspect of this organization and their website is the fact that our tax dollars are funding it. To date, they have received $1.8 million dollars, and are set to receive another $1.8 million in the next three years. Yes, we are subsidizing rape culture. And this is just one example of the many ridiculous abstinence-only until marriage sex education programs that we have wasted $1.5 billion in federal money on in the last decade.

This is America, not some backwater county that still think witches are to blame for droughts. This behavior is reprehensible. (Abstinence 'Till Marriage had to drastically change the text due to all the outrage this post caused. Way to go Amplify Your Voice!)

Since 1996, the U.S. government has poured more than a billion dollars into abstinence-only education programs. They are so ineffective and dangerous that seventeen states have refused funding.

That should say it all right there.

The real test of this administration will come at the end of February when President Obama is expected to release his first federal budget request for the 2010 fiscal year. President Obama has publicly stated he supports comprehensive sex education and wants to cut wasteful spending so this is pretty much a no brainer.

But just in case, here's a link to send President Obama a letter urging him to fund comprehensive sex education.

Grrr...

Monday, February 23, 2009

No privacy for the famous?

I know this is old news by now, but I am really bothered by the release of the post-assault picture of Rhianna, presumably taken by the police after her fight with Chris Brown.

First off, we don’t know all the details so I’m gonna hold off sharpening my pitch fork and attacking Chris Brown. I am in no means accepting his behavior, I just feel like we don’t have enough information…Yet.

That being said, the reason I’m bothered by this is because this is not an entertainment story. This is the release of a picture of a domestic violence victim and it’s wrong. Period.

A great article was written about the release of the video at The Smoking Gun.
If you're wondering whether TMZ struggled with the question of whether to publish the police evidence photo of a battered Rihanna, we point you to a story the site posted last year. The gossip outlet, which pays for stories and likely shelled out a fortune for the Rihanna image, last April published the name and photograph of a 14-year-old boy whom TMZ identified as the alleged victim of a sex crime. The child, the site reported, was the son of a celebrity, hence its interest in this particular minor's sexual abuse. The "Exclusive" TMZ story, which remains on the site, noted that the boy was "at the center of a criminal investigation" and the "alleged victim of 'unlawful sex.'" The child, TMZ reported, was supposedly dating a 22-year-old woman whose ex-boyfriend became jealous and called cops. As a result, the site reported, cops began examining whether "an adult [was] having sex with someone under 18." The TMZ story, which we've reprinted below in a redacted form, was illustrated with a photo of the alleged victim that was taken when he was 10. So if TMZ editor Harvey Levin, pictured at right, pops up on television to talk about his tortured decision to publish the photo of a domestic violence victim, know that he is full of shit.
I really believe this situation can be turned into something positive, but it’s up to Rhianna to decide if that’s a step she wants to take.

But maybe she doesn’t want to be the face of domestic violence, and we need to respect that too.

It just says something really pathetic about our culture when we accept the behavior of gossip magazines releasing victim photos and paparazzi lines outside hotels trying to get photographs of deceased actors.

This is a great video from Ill Doctrine about domestic violence, especially in hip hop, and the all too common response of blaming the women or rationalizing the man’s behavior.


"My point is it’s not right for anyone to hit anyone else. If men are so vulnerable in their masculinity that if a women punches them they have to flatten her on the ground, what is that saying about them?"

Here is a link to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. I hope you never need to use it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Brain missing, no reward offered.

I’m having one of those days where my whole body is tired and everything seems like it’s wrapped in gauze.

It’s a small price to pay for having such a good time last night, but damn. You know how drunkenness just sneaks up on you sometimes?

Yeah, well I was flat out ambushed and now I’m freggin exhausted.

I usually don't get drunk when I drink (just buzzed), but we went to a strip club to celebrate our friend Russell's birthday and well...I just couldn't help myself.
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One of my friends asked the cocktail waitress for something fruity and she made her a drink with vodka, lemon puckers, and sprite. I don’t know if it has an actual name, but it was super tasty and is pretty much my favorite drink for now. :)

We also decided that all the gifts should be sex related and had a ton of fun with it. I got these penis straws for everyone and they were a huge hit (Ryan wouldn’t use one though cause he thought the veins were creepy lol).
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The blow up pig took the cake though. :)
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We also got him some raunchy playing cards (of course) but I think they were the reject ones or something. hahaha

I’m gonna partly blame the liquor, but it took us forever to figure out that bottom one isn’t another penis. I find it extremely creepy.

So that's it, just drunken adventures and hangovers.
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I'm not even going to attempt to blog, let alone think, about anything that requires too much brain power. In fact, I'm pretty sure my brain rolled under the desk a while ago and I'm just too lazy to pick it up.

Cheers.

Weekly address 2/21/09

"President Obama announces that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will start having an impact as soon as a few weeks from now, in the form of the quickest and broadest tax cut in history."



No single piece of this broad economic recovery can, by itself, meet the demands that have been placed on us. We can't help people find work or pay their bills unless we unlock credit for families and businesses. We can't solve our housing crisis unless we help people find work so that they can make payments on their homes. We can't produce shared prosperity without firm rules of the road, and we can't generate sustained growth without getting our deficits under control. In short, we cannot successfully address any of our problems without addressing them all. And that is exactly what the strategy we are pursuing is designed to do.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dailly Obsession - wall art

I know it's silly, but I really want one of these.

It would be perfect right above my television and I would already have it if I wasn't such a cheap ass ($80 bucks a little high for me considering I make all the art in the house).

Maybe I can find a way to make one myself, but they are seriously cute.

Anyhoo, if you're interested I found them here at Shana Logic.com.

Her goal is to, "give people an alternative to shopping at chain stores, while exposing people to talented artists, designers and the new modern craft world!"

Who am I to argue with that?

The site offers a ton of cool handmade items, ranging in price from just a few bucks to over a hundred. (I'm such a sucker for anything handmade.)

Here are a few other things I love:

I don't know why but I really want that silver sheep. Really really want it.

Sorry UK. I already gave Utah my kudos.

I want to give a shout out to the UK for banning two members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

These people are seriously fucked in the head.

The reason Fred Phelps and his daughter wanted to go to the UK was just to protest a play, the Laramie Project, about the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "The Home Secretary has excluded both Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper from the UK.

"Both these individuals have engaged in unacceptable behaviour by inciting hatred against a number of communities. The Government has made it clear it opposes extremism in all its forms.

"We will continue to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country. That was the driving force behind the tighter rules on exclusion for unacceptable behaviour that the Home Secretary announced on 28th October last year.

"The exclusions policy is targeted at all those who seek to stir up tension and provoke others to violence regardless of their origins and beliefs."

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, mostly Phelps family relatives, regularly picket funerals of US war heroes, claiming their deaths are punishment for America's tolerance of gays.

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Fred Phelps has also described the Prophet Mohammed as a "demon-possessed whoremonger" and once said Catholics were part of the "church of the holy paedophiles".
I’m all for freedom of speech, but this church tries even my liberal patience.

The WBC has already picketed Matthew Shepard's funeral with signs reading, "Matthew Shepard rots in hell" and tried to get a permit to build a marble monument with Shepard's picture and the words, "MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22."

Can't these people give it up already?

The WBC also pickets the funerals of killed American soldiers (in their view, soldiers did not join the military out of a sense of patriotism, but because they are "lazy, incompetent idiots" unable to find work elsewhere.), the memorial of 2006 Sago Mine disaster victims, sent a group to the World Trade Center site to protest the rescue efforts while holding signs with slogans thanking God for the event, and even threatened to protest the Amish school killings.

The Amish? WTF is that about? (If you don’t know too much about them, google them and be prepared to be sickened.)

So way to go UK.



This is a video from Michael Moore's show The Awful Truth. Moore went to every state that had anti sodomy laws in "the Sodomobile", a pink bus filled with gay men and women. It's ridiculously funny and he stops to talk to Phelps. (Keep in mind this was in 1999.)

On a side note, I want to recommend the Laramie Project play to everyone. I watched a performance at SDSU and it was amazing. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kudos Salt Lake City


I talked previously about Equality Utah’s continual battle with Utah legislators to gain basic rights for the LGBT community through the Common Ground initiatives.

Well, I'm glad to say Utah finally pulled its head out of its ass long enough to pass at least one of the six initiatives.
Gay couples and other unmarried domestic partners in Salt Lake City soon will have unprecedented legal recognition in Utah.

The Salt Lake City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday to create a citywide domestic-partnership registry, providing a mechanism by which employers can extend heath care and other benefits to adult designees of their employees.

Mayor Ralph Becker, who submitted the ordinance to the City Council on his third day in office, has called the domestic-partnership registry an opportunity for the city to provide all of its residents the same level of equality, dignity and respect.

"This is a compassionate ordinance that recognizes that families do not always come in the same packages," echoed council chairwoman Jill Remington Love.

City officials said residents likely will be able to begin registering their domestic partnerships in about two to four weeks.

Will Carlson, speaking on behalf of Equality Utah, called the move an important step toward "a fair and just Utah."

Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, has said the registry violates the letter and spirit of both the state's constitutional amendment and state code limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

Salt Lake City officials disagree. According to the mayor's office, the city has legal authority to create a domestic-partnership registry under the general welfare clause of Utah code, which grants the city the power to "preserve the health and promote the prosperity, improve the morals, peace and good order, comfort and convenience of the city and its inhabitants."

The mayor's office also contends that the ordinance does not conflict with the state statute defining marriage.

"(The domestic-partnership registry) does not establish a marriage; it does not change marriage," Jergensen said. "It in no way challenges the state's attitudes about marriage. It does not create a separate class of relationships."

The ordinance allows qualifying couples who take part in the voluntary program to receive a certificate from City Hall attesting to their domestic-partner status. In order to qualify, individuals must be in a relationship of mutual support, caring and commitment, and be responsible for each other's welfare.

In addition, registrants must be each other's sole domestic partner, over 18 years old, competent to contract and share a primary residence in Salt Lake City.

Well isn’t that something?

The great thing is all couples qualify for the domestic registry so I will qualify for health care coverage through Ryan’s work.

Take that pushy married people.

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(It’s kind of sad when the only reason you think to get married is for health care coverage...lol...that’s what I call sanctity.)

Sean Delonas Cartoon

I know everyone’s gone crazy about this New York Post cartoon, but I just want to know what the hell they were thinking.

Yahoo: The cartoon refers to a chimpanzee named Travis who was killed Monday by police in Stamford, Conn., after it mauled a friend of its owner.

Some critics called the cartoon racist and said it trivialized a tragedy in which a woman was disfigured and a chimpanzee killed. Others said the cartoon suggests that Obama should be assassinated. Many urged a boycott of the Post and the companies that advertise in it.

"How could the Post let this cartoon pass as satire?" said Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists. "To compare the nation's first African-American commander in chief to a dead chimpanzee is nothing short of racist drivel."

State Sen. Eric Adams called it a "throwback to the days" when black men were lynched.

The Rev. Al Sharpton called the cartoon "troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys."

Col Allan, editor-in-chief of the Post, defended the work.

"The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut," Allan said in a statement. "It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."

The cartoon drew hundreds of comments on the Internet including at the liberal Huffington Post, where columnist Sam Stein wrote: "At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Most provocatively, it compares the president to a rabid chimp."
Sean Delonas has a history of awful cartoons, but this is still pretty pathetic.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blow Me North Dakota

The North Dakota house of representatives has just passed a bill to outlaw abortion.
The House voted 51-41 this afternoon to declare that a fertilized egg has all the rights of any person.

That means a fetus could not be legally aborted without the procedure being considered murder.

Minot Republican Dan Ruby has sponsored other bills banning abortion in previous legislative sessions - all of which failed. He also sponsored today's bill and says it is compatable with Roe versus Wade - the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion.

Rep. Dan Ruby, "This is the exact language that's required by Roe vs. Wade. It stipulated that before a challenge can be made, we have to identify when life begins, and that's what this does."

I can’t believe we have to keep dancing this foolhardy dance. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this bill won’t actually become law, but...wow.

Here's to hoping the ND state senate has a little common sense.

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The idea of the court trying to dictate when life begins is just plain frightening and leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Like, if a fetus has the legal rights of a person (and these start at conception), will an autopsy have to be performed after every miscarriage? When will the fetus be given a social security number? Can the fetus be claimed as a dependant on taxes?

What about the frozen embryos in IVF clinics? Do they get social security numbers as well and would infertility treatments even be offered anymore since there is such a high rate of miscarriage?

How much money is it going to cost to implement any of these retarded ideas (not counting all the forced childbirth bills)? Will any more money be put into the already overloaded and decaying foster care system? How much is it going to cost to pay for more police, lawyers, judges, D.A.’s, social workers, medical examiners, prison guards, and all the countless other people it would take handle the burden of criminal investigations, prosecutions, and prison sentences?

And who in the fuck is going to pay for all this?

That’s not even taking into account all the new hospital staff that will be needed to handle the burden of all these forced childbirths.

Also, if a fetus has legal rights then doesn’t it also have legal responsibility? If the fetus puts the mother’s life at risk, can the mother charge the fetus with reckless endangerment or attempted murder?

These questions are obviously sarcastic and ludicrous, but they still need to be considered when looking at a bill like this.

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There is a great post about this here. Here is a snippet I loved:
Speaking of harm, what about miscarriages? If an embryo/fetus has full legal standing as a genuine/individual person, the its 'death' will need to be investigated via autopsy. When I miscarried, I started bleeding on a Wednesday. I went in for my ultrasound on Thursday where it was confirmed. I couldn't get into see my ob/gyn until very early Friday morning, which by then I had naturally passed everything (into the toilet). Should women who face the same situation straddle a bucket to bleed in? Keep her pads? Take the contents to the police? The contents of such will need to be investigated to make sure that there was no foul play involved, as again, an embryo/fetus is a full legal person whose death would warrant an investigation and, eventually, death certificate (which, btw, are not given for miscarriages now). How much more money will this cost? These ideas were submitted before the VA state legislature some time back, btw, if you recall. But also necessary if declaring embryos full-fledged people which you are doing.

I can’t help but find it interesting that some people think it’s wrong to give gay couples equal rights because of the “slippery slope” argument that some people might then want to marry animals, but are willing to give equal rights to a body of cells that are unable to make conscience decisions in the same breath.

WTF?

Circumcision

I believe I’ve mention the website Momversation before.

If not, it’s pretty much a place where different blogger moms go to have video discussions with each other. (It probably sounds lame, but it’s actually really interesting from a mom point of view.)

I want to talk about this video in particular that regards circumcision:



I didn’t realize this until I had Holden, but there are a few issues (like breastfeeding vs. formula…wow) that turn parents into blubbering fucktards and this seems to be one of them.

I personally, don’t agree with male circumcision on children.

Some people compare it to female genital mutilation, but I don’t know if I would go that far. I do think it’s fair to compare our society’s approval of one and repulsion of the other though. We should also look at any social stigmas that might make parents think they have to circumcise their sons.

My problem with circumcising children is the lack of choice. If Holden wants to be circumcised when he’s older then more power to him, but I feel like I don't have the right to make that decision for him.

I don’t know if I think it’s a form of mutilation (maybe mildly and definitely barbaric) but it would be like giving him a tattoo.

A permanent alteration to his body without his consent.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, doesn’t agree with me. He thinks it’s just something you do and that uncircumcised penises are weird (my guy friends are the same way) which I totally don’t get. There is nothing weird or ugly about uncircumcised penises and hopefully people will learn to see that (though it seems only Americans have an issue with this).

There is a lot of information on both sides about the pros and cons, but I think it’s best if parents should just hold off and allow the child to choose.

Maybe it’s my hippie nature or just plain laziness, but I’m making the decision by NOT making the decision and it feels right to me.

And honestly, that's really all you can hope for in parenting.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blah blah blah

The more time I spend unemployed the more I feel like I'm falling into madness.

I know that sounds strange, but I NEED to be working. It’s just not healthy for me to have this much time on my hands. I find life too dreadfully boring and being home all the time just makes it more glaringly obvious. Like a mocking shadow.

And I can’t stand it.

I’ll take any distraction I can find. Books, movies, music, cooking, really any activity that requires my attention enough to drown out the back round static. That's why I've always had so many hobbies and interests.

I don’t know who these people are who feel so overwhelmingly alive, but I don’t understand it.

And sometimes I hate them for it.

I know I’ve had single moments of exhilaration, but they can stand against the monotony of every day life no more than the rain drop can rage against the ocean.

I know I’m sounding crazy, but I need to find a new job. Soon.

There was a time (when I first started dating my boyfriend actually) when I worked about 70 hours a week. Even then, I always seemed to have plenty of time to myself. I've always seemed to have too much time.

I know most people feel the opposite, but I don't know how to live that way.

I just don't know.

(Yeah, you should probably just ignore this post. lol)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Weekly address 2/14/09

President Obama celebrates the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act while keeping his eyes on the tough road ahead.

Friday, February 13, 2009

V Day

I don’t understand why attention deprived girls with low self esteem people go crazy for Valentines Day.

Who cares?

I wish my boyfriend tried a little harder to be romantic, but I don’t need the traditional tokens of love on Valentines Day to know he loves me (and if anyone does their relationship needs serious help).

How does it mean anything if it's "required?"

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I’ll probably make a nice dinner, but I make dinner every night so it’s not like some miraculous event in our house. (Although it’s one of the only days I’ll make steak.)

And that's about it. We tend to skip over most holidays to be honest.

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I would rather have something silly and corny than a box of chocolates or overpriced roses. (I don’t even like roses. I don’t hate them, but I would choose a bunch of handpicked daises over roses any day. Or a good house cleaning lol.)

I think I’ll give him this card:

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:)

People should enjoy the love in their lives and not worry about all the hoopla.

"For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul." -Judy Garland

Playing the wait game

I don’t know about you, but I am glad that today is the day we finally find out if President Obama’s stimulus bill gets passed in the senate.

In the mean time, I thought this was pretty interesting:
In the hour following President Obama's February 9 press conference cable news programs featured guests and panelists to discuss Obama's remarks. But CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC did not bring on a single economist to discuss the plan.

The absence of economists in the post-press conference discussion was consistent with the observation made by Crooksandliars.com founder John Amato in a February 4 article on The Huffington Post: "I'm sure you've heard about the hundreds of economists that are either for or against President Obama's stimulus plan. My question to the media is: Where are they?"

Indeed, a Media Matters for America review of the Sunday talk shows and 12 cable news programs from January 25 through February 8 found that during 139 1/2 hours of programming on Sunday mornings and weekday afternoons and evenings, of 460 total guest appearances in discussions about the economic recovery legislation and debate in Congress, only 25 were made by economists -- a mere 5 percent.

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Media Matters purposefully used a broad definition of "economist" to be inclusive, coding as an economist any guest who has a master's degree or doctorate in economics or who has served as an economics professor at a university or college, as best as we could determine. (All current members of Congress were coded as non-economists.)
Well, that would explain why most people don’t have a clue and why rumors, like the doctor control idea, are in such abundance.

Idiots.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin Rocks

I love Darwin Day because it seems to bring out all the crazies.

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Here is a great clip of Richard Dawkins talking about creationism (as usual it’s brilliant):



I completely agree with him and don't have any plans on raising Holden to follow a certain religion. I hope to teach him about a lot of different beliefs and then leave it as a personal decision for him to figure out on his own.

It's the least I can seeing as my mom gave me the same courtesy. :)

Cheers!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Interesting Interview

I just finished reading an interview of Mustafa Barghouti by Glenn Greenwald. Barghouti is the former presidential candidate for the Palestinian Authority and he speaks about Israel's elections, the aftermath of the attack on Gaza, and prospects for a peace agreement.

Even though it’s long, I thought it was really interesting. You can listen to the interview here.

Glenn Greenwald: My guest today on Salon Radio is Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, who was a former candidate for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority in 2005, finishing second to the ultimate winner, Mahmoud Abbas. He's also held various positions in the Palestinian Authority and is a physician as well. Dr. Barghouti, thanks so much for joining me today.

Mustafa Barghouti: Thank you. It's nice to talk to you.

GG: The Israelis are holding a national election tomorrow, and most polls, if not all, predict that the winner of the election will be Likud, or at the very least, that the next prime minister of Israel will be Benjamin Netanyahu.

You're a long-time advocate of a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians; what do you see as the implications for a Netanyahu victory in terms of Israeli-Palestinian relations?

MB: Well, unfortunately, I must say that the election of Netanyahu -- and Lieberman with him -- simply means one thing: that this is end of the peace process, and the end of the possibility of peace based on two state solution. The problem is the timing. This election, this move to the extreme right wing comes at a time when the whole option of the two state solution is almost gasping due to the building of settlements in the West Bank and the creation of apartheid rule, and with such elections, this can be like the death sentence to two-state option, unless, of course, unless, there will be a different policy and a serious move from the side of the United States, which is probably the only country that has the leverage to pressure Israel to stop this terrible movement towards racism and apartheid.

GG: You were part of a 60 Minutes report several weeks ago concerning expanding settlements in the West Bank in which you made the argument that the ongoing expansion of West Bank settlements and the extent to which those settlements now exist have already made a two-state solution, if not impossible, close to impossible, because the only way that a two state solution could ever be viable is if those settlements were dismantled.

Is there any viable political party in Israel, not just Likud, but even Labour or Kadima, that you think would actually really make a meaningful attempt to dismantle settlements such that a two-state solution could be possible? Would it really matter, in other words, if it's Likud as opposed to the other parties?

MB: Well, that is of course one of the problems, or one of the major problems, that practically the differences on the issue of settlements and the issue of Jerusalem is really non-existent when it comes to comparing parties with each other. Both Netanyahu, Kadima leader Livni, and Barak, the three of them all refuse the possibility of sharing Jerusalem. All of them refuse the possibility of stopping settlements and removal of settlement blocks that are consuming almost 50% of the land of the West Bank. And all of them are not ready even to discuss the issue of Palestinian refugees.

So, in that sense, there is certain right-wing consensus in Israel, and this is, in my opinion, a result of international community policy which made Israel feel that it has impunity and is unaccountable to the world community and irresponsible towards international law, and practically it has become even irresponsible towards itself, because I don't think there is anything to be proud about when in ten years from now the Israelis discover, or five years from now, the Israelis, that they are the worst apartheid system in human history. I don't think something promising for the Palestinians or Israelis to see that one of the main outcomes of these elections is a prolonged, long-lasting horrible conflict that is unmanageable. That's why unfortunately I see the election of Netanyahu as well as Lieberman, as a serious shift towards racism, and it's a reflection of serious, in my opinion, sickness.

Because fear and hate are the most motivating emotions now, unfortunately, in Israeli society. They have to be substituted for a different kind of approach. But that cannot happen, as I said, without a serious, different approach from the international community.

GG: Speaking of the international community, there was an argument that some people made, that the Israeli attack on Gaza was so brutal and so horrifying to watch, given that it was a trapped population that was defenseless and incapable of escaping the bombs that were falling on them, the artillery shells that were shot at them, that, although one is highly reluctant to try and find anything positive out of that horrible situation, that there was a sense that having the world watch that particular attack could actually make headway in changing popular opinion towards Israel and the Palestinians.

Do you see that as possible?

MB: Well, it's a possibility, but it's not guaranteed. We could also, if the United States decides to maintain the same old policy of Bush, we could see even more racism in Israel, and more brutality against Palestinians. Under Likud and under Lieberman. Lieberman is a fascist. But, in one way what you're saying is correct, that the only difference between Livni and Netanyahu is that we have two extremists, one with make-up and the other one without make-up. That's how I feel. That's the only difference.

But at the same time, accepting the election of Netanyahu, and again accepting this move towards a person like Lieberman, is going to mean that Israel probably will have even larger license to kill Palestinians. During the war on Gaza, Israel conducted several very serious offenses against international law. They launched a war, they created this war, they started it, it wasn't Hamas that started it. They deliberately targeted civilians and killed 1,350 people, most of whom were civilians. They conducted and they still conduct collective punishment. They used illegal weapons like white phosphorus, DIME weapons and the "flashettes." And they prevented even care for the injured people and attacked medical facilities, including thirteen of doctors and nurses who were killed in the attack.
And, not only did they use disproportionate force, but Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister of Israel, comes out declaring - declaring, with full courage - that he is going to continue to use disproportionate force. And not only that he's violating the international law, he's declaring that's he's violating international law. And many world community leaders remain silent. This feeling of impunity is responsible for what is happening.

But if we look at the political aspects of the war on Gaza, what did it achieve? It did not stop the missiles; they were stopped because Palestinians decided to stop them. It did not weaken Hamas as they promised; it actually weakened one person, or one line, which is Abbas, whose popularity today sits at 13%. And Hamas got stronger in terms of popularity, in terms of support.

GG: Is Hamas stronger in your view among residents of the West Bank as well, in the aftermath of what happened in Gaza?

MB: Their popularity increased in the West Bank more than it did increase in Gaza Strip. That's what the polls say. But at the end of the day the world has to see that Abbas and his group, Fatah, represent in the best case scenario only 25% of the Palestinian community. There's a third chunk - less than one third now is with him, one third is with Hamas, and another one third is with us, with people like us, with the democratic opposition in Palestine. And as long as certain countries insist to deal with only 25% of the Palestinian population, they will of course not create a situation where a Palestinian government is capable to develop.

And this is an outcome of Israeli-dictated policy, which in my opinion does not want to see any strong leadership in Palestine, they don't want to see unified leadership, and then they can have the excuse and say we cannot have a peace process, because there isn't a leader who can deliver.

GG: That, of course, is the main argument that many people on behalf of Israel make, which is that even if there were an Israeli government which wanted a meaningful process of negotiation towards a two-state solution or some other solution, that it would be impossible given that the Palestinians themselves are so fractured that there's no real leadership with whom the Israelis could negotiate.

Is that, regardless of who's fault that is or what has caused that, is that true -- do you agree that that is a serious impediment at the moment to trying to restart negotiations?

MB: No, I don't, because I think Palestinians can easily be unified if Israel removed its objection to the formation of a national unity government in Palestine. We managed - I was the main mediator of the construction of the first national unity government; we had a very good government that represented 96% of the Palestinian spectrum. We had a government that had a rather flexible political program. We were promised by many world leaders, including some American leaders, that that government would be recognized, and then it was Israel that launched a campaign to undermine that national unity government and its impact. So, we had the best democratic elections in the whole Arab world. We had the model of democracy, and it was thwarted by Israel, when Israel arrested one-third of the members of our legislature, who are still in Israeli jails.

So, the key to peace is that Israel accept our right, like their right, to democratically and openly and freely choose our leaders. If they recognize our right of freely choosing our leaders, like the people of Ireland chose their leaders, like the people of South Africa had the right to choose their leaders, like Senator Feinstein said, in the inauguration of President Obama, when she introduced him, and she said that very important sentence. She said: the root of democracy is the right of the people to freely choose their leaders.

If that is applied to Palestine, you can have a unified leadership tomorrow. But Israel has to accept our right of choosing our leaders. What Israel is doing is transforming the area into an apartheid system; they want, not Palestinian real leadership, they want cantons and something like a Vichy government, something like a security agency occupation. They want to choose for us who should be our leaders, and who should negotiate on our behalf, and of course the outcome would be a very weak leadership, and then they will say, we have a weak leadership that we cannot negotiate with.

The basic problem is, Israel up to this moment does not want to negotiate because Israel does not want to share the land, and does not want to accept our right as human beings, as equal human beings who are entitled to freedom and dignity, like Jewish Israelis have.

GG: When you were running for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority in 2005, you were subjected to all sorts of extraordinary restrictions regarding your ability to speak to the Palestinian people, even your mobility within Palestinian land.

Could you talk about some of the restrictions that were imposed upon you even as you were running for president of the Palestinian Authority?

MB: During the period of six, seven weeks, I was subjected to several attacks from the Israeli side. I was basically arrested or attacked eight times, in seven weeks. At one point I was stopped at a checkpoint with my people and I was beaten by the Israeli soldiers. I was arrested three times inside Jerusalem because each time, even when I had a permit to go to Jerusalem, and meet with President Carter there, they, after the meeting, they arrested me and practically kidnapped me for a few hours.

GG: Now, one of the things you had mentioned earlier is that the only real hope for any of this to improve, regardless of the outcome of the Israeli election, is for there to be a genuine change in U.S. policy towards Israel and specifically towards its involvement in forcing Israel to become more receptive to genuine negotiations.

What are the expectations that Palestinians generally have, and what are your expectations specifically with regard to what you expect to see? Obviously you can't say for sure, but, what are you looking for, what are the early signs, as you see them?

MB: Listen - Palestinians have watched the rise of Barack Obama, and then his election, with great enthusiasm. Like many people of the world. They see in him a potential for great change. What we want Obama to do, is to apply his values, the values on the basis of which he was elected, and the values he spoke about in his inauguration speech, to the Palestinian situation. And I think he's a guy, who cannot say, I don't know, because he knows. And I think he's a president that is probably the most sensitive president among them all to the issue of racism and discrimination, and the kind of treatment that Israel is doing to us.

So we have a lot of hope that he will create that change. Of course, he knows he's encountering an establishment that is biased to Israel. Of course we know - and he spoke about the powers of the lobbyist that he once encountered - and one of the largest lobbies here [in the U.S.] is the Israeli lobby, which has been instrumental in preventing peace in the region, and has been instrumental in preventing a fair and effective American policy. And that's where the challenge stands. So, we would like him to create that change.
Look, the United States has great leverage over Israel. You are paying, the Americans, the American taxpayers, are paying Israel every rise of the sun every morning, $10 million - every day you pay to Israel, officially. If you count the amounts that American people donate to Israel, it's even larger than that.

You're talking about Israel being the largest recipient of American aid money, although it is a rather developed country with a GDP income that is close to United States' income. And still, it is the largest recipient of military aid. It is the country that is allowed to market American military technology worldwide at costs that are less than American costs, so that it would make profits, and the United States has great leverage if it decides it wants to push Israel.

Not towards harming Israel, but towards a more reasonable policy. That is, in the long run, in the best interests of all people in the region including Israelis. That situation we have today is the situation of funding like a totally spoiled child, which is Israel, that has gone beyond any control, that has violated all the rules, and now Israelis are violating all aspects of human rights in the most vicious way. If the United States wants to improve its image in the Middle East, if it wants to be widely respected as a fair country worldwide, I think this is the challenge, the Palestinian question.

GG: When you look at the move to the Right of the Israeli electorate, how much of that do you attribute to rockets that are being shot by Hamas and what the perception of the part of the Israelis is, that there are substantial parts of the Palestinian society that don't want peace with the Israelis either?

MB: Listen. Israel has been actually very good at abusing and using things like the rockets and other military forms of action to undermine and delegitimize and dehumanize Palestinians. I personally believe in non-violence; I believe that it's more effective. I believe that conducting military interaction with Israel is like committing suicide, because Israel is so powerful from a military perspective.

At the same time, I think our cause will have more integrity if we use non-violent methods - this is what I have been advocating. But the power of non-violence is strictly connected with the power of solidarity of the international community. This has been the case in South African struggles; this has been the case in many other non-violent struggles all over the world, and that's why when I explain to Palestinians, and even to Hamas people, and they ask me this question, why do you think it is important to have international opinion on our side, and I explain that. And then they ask me, how could non-violence be powerful and strong, and then I give them the examples of Martin Luther King. Now, the election of Obama is, in my opinion, the greatest success of Martin Luther King's non-violent approach to struggle.

But, you see, to strengthen our line of non-violence, we need some different position from the international community. What happened during the war on Gaza was just shameful. They - not only the United States administration, but many, many world leaders simply violated the basic moral standards when they refused to criticize Israel, when they could not tell Israel enough is enough and slaughtering children is not a way of finding a solution.

That's why I think, what I tell to my fellow citizens, is that our non-violent approach is the best way, and we're practicing this. But non-violence does not mean you surrender to your oppressors. Non-violence does not mean you give up your right to be free. Non-violence does not mean you become hostages of your occupier, as has happened to the Palestinian Authority under Abbas in the West Bank. That is the issue. Non-violence does not mean that Palestinian government should oppress its own people to prevent them from even non-violently expressing their views and their demands for freedom.

So, these things have to be clear, and I am a strong believer that the future of our struggle will be non-violent; I believe in non-violence; I believe in democracy; I believe we can provide Palestinians with better options, to have better health care, to have better education, better social system, but I am convinced, like every reasonable Palestinian, that none of that can happen unless we are free, totally, from occupation and oppression. Unless we are free, knowing the cause of all these problems, which is occupation.

Violence is a symptom of the disease, and as a medical doctor I learned that you have to deal with the cause of the disease, not just with the symptoms. And the cause has been 41 years of oppression and occupation, 60 years of partition, and the most important thing is the lack of justice towards the people who are called the Palestinians.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pensive: thinking deeply about something, especially in a sad or serious manner

I feel like my life is stagnant and I need to do something new.

I really must to go back to school. All the excuses I’ve given to myself are just that, excuses. There are so many things I want to do and getting a degree is really the first step.

It’s incredibly hard deciding what profession to pursue though. I envy people who are able to easily pick a road and stick with it.

It must be freeing to have a lack of imagination.

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I also want to move out of the country. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and I feel it’s the right decision. I haven’t really narrowed down a place, but it has to be an English speaking country (I’m horrible with foreign languages) and not crazy cold.

Of course this is quite a few years away and contingent upon finishing school.

Ah…the vicious circle of provision.

The Good Mayor

I was reading someone’s book recommendations and they mentioned a book by Andrew Nicoll called The Good Mayor.

This was the included excerpt:
Good isn't so bad. Agathe would have settled for 'good' and, if he had chosen to do the good thing, Tibo could have stood up right there and then, he could have knocked the table over if need be and he could have picked her up in his arms and run out with her as if he had been rescuing her from a blazing building. He could have saved her. He could have taken her back to the big iron bed in his house at the end of the blue-tiled path with its broken gate and its brass bell and he could have spent all the rest of the afternoon saving her. He could have saved her all night. He could have saved her until he was exhausted to save her any more. He could have saved her again and again like no woman has been saved before or since, saved her in every way he could imagine and some he'd never thought of until that very minute and then she would have come up with some ideas of her own. But he did not. Tibo Krovic was the Mayor of Dot and the Mayor of Dot had never been known to carry another man's wife down the street, not even if she was his secretary, not even if she was in love with him, not even if she had loved him, it seemed, for as long as she could remember. (pp261-262)

I have to read this book now. The words in this passage are…well I can’t really describe it without sounding terribly cheesy, but the writing is lovely to say the least.

Just lovely.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Faith-Based Initiatives

My feelings are torn about President Obama’s decision to establish a new White House office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership.

In other words, his choice to continue “faith based” initiatives.



The cynical heathen in me is seething at the continual disregard of the separation of church and state by the government. While another part, albeit a lot smaller, can see the appeal of funding faith based groups.

Because there are people out there who are doing good without any political agendas and President Obama does seem to have a much better grasp on the knowledge that we’re not all Christian (unlike so many others).

I’m just not sure how I feel about it.

All the articles I’ve read about this have quoted President Obama as saying that any money given will only go towards secular programs as if this somehow makes a difference.
Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.
This isn’t really the issue though and has already been taken care of by the Supreme Court (otherwise it would violate the separation of church and state). The issue is whether religious institutions are allowed to discriminate against hiring people of different ideologies if they receive money from tax payers.

As of now, they are and that is NOT okay with me.

Obama says he wants to look into the issue, but I just don't know if it's gonna be enough.

(wow...people are freaking out about this on youtube.)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Haircuts

Holden has had his hair long for most of his life and I’m having a hard time adjusting to his new hair cut.

Before (forever ago):
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After:
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He’s still adorable, but I feel like he looks more like the rampaging hellion he really is.

I'm sure I'll like it a lot more once its had a few days to grow.

The only other time it’s been this short is when I accidentally botched it and had to shave it all off. Since he still had baby fine hair, he looked more than a little like a cancer patient.

In trying to find a pic I stumbled across this one:

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I’m a little ashamed at how dirty he was (we do wash him I swear), but I still LOVE this memory.

I also want to point out that those are my mother’s genes. :)

Weekly Address 02/07/09

In the weekly address for Saturday, February 7, 2009, President Barack Obama commends the progress the Senate has made on moving the recovery plan forward, and urged its completion:



I can't wait till he gets to talk about something else, but I love how he tells the Republicans to fuck off.

Well not quite, but a little in between the lines. lol

Friday, February 6, 2009

Support Marriage Equality

It’s easy to forget that couples in California are still fighting for their relationships.

This video seriously made me tear up. There is no reason why these families don’t deserve the same equality and rights straight families enjoy and trample all over every day.



Support marriage equality.
We, the undersigned, share President Barack Obama's view that "for too long, issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us. It's time to move beyond polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect.

Yet, on December 19, 2008, Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund filed legal briefs defending the constitutionality of Prop 8 and seeking to nullify the 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted between May and November of 2008.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case on March 5, 2009, with a decision expected within the next 90 days. We, the undersigned, ask that the Court invalidate Prop 8 and recognize the marriage rights of these 18,000 couples -- and all loving, committed couples in California -- under our state's constitution.

As Americans who believe in the rule of law and fundamental civil rights, we know that Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund's shameful attempt to nullify these unions will not be vindicated in the eyes of history. We know that, ultimately, love will prevail, no matter how hard they try to fight it.

Sincerely,
Click here to sign and send to the CA supreme court.

Negativity blows

I really hate how some articles put a negative twist on information.

Example, Fox News headline:

Poll: Americans Oppose Obama's First Two Executive Orders
President Obama's first two executive orders -- allowing federal funding for overseas abortions and closing Guantanamo -- have been met with widespread opposition, according to a poll released Tuesday.


Original headline from Gallup:

Americans Approve of Most Obama Actions to Date
Widespread support for decisions on ethics reform, interrogations, fuel standards

Fox news didn’t actually change the facts (since the poll states that these two decisions are the ones with the lowest approval rating), but they are being incredibly tacky.

But by far, the most interesting article title I've seen has to be, Donor kidney removed via vagina.

Well, all right…

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Patricia Briggs and Rape in Books

I just finished the book Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs and I’m having an issue with Briggs’ use of sexual assault.

It’s kind of hard to explain why this is bothering me so much.

I think some authors can write about sexual abuse/rape in a way that is beneficial. Fictional stories are a good way to get people to relate to the victims and understand how traumatizing something like sexual assault can really be.

But other times, I almost feel like the author is using it as a mere writing tool in order to get the reader to sympathize with the character. That is NOT okay with me because I feel like it degrades the victims of sexual abuse into a marketing tool.

I guess that’s how I feel about Patricia Briggs. I could accept one series where the main character is raped, but seeing as this is second where her main character is raped, it really irritates me.

I also felt the same way when I finished Faefeve by Karen Moning (who the hell ends a book with a group rape orgy?).

Andrew Vachss on the other hand, writes about sexual assault and child abuse in a way that really resonates in me.

So I guess it just comes down to the ability of the author and their point of view, but it seems like every other book I read has someone being raped in it.

It's bothersome to say the least.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rush: Army of One

I’m not a big fan of Stephen Colbert, but every once and a while he hits the nail on the head. This video of his assessment of Rush Limbaugh as head of the GOP party is brilliant.



Media Matters also has a link to an editorial that takes a look at Rush and a poll that claims, "Rush polls seven points lower than Rev. Jeremiah 'God Damn America' Wright and eight points below former Weather Underground domestic terrorist William Ayers."

I read the article (it’s very good) but the link to the poll didn’t work for me so I’m won’t put my money on that just yet.

Definitely interesting though.

"You know, if you played a drinking game where you did a shot every time Rush Limbaugh attacked someone for being elite, you'd almost be as wasted as Rush Limbaugh." Bill Maher