Saturday, May 31, 2008

Misogyny is Alive and Well

What the hell? Is this supposed to be funny??

Boys Vs. Girls from Amir on Vimeo.

H/T Shakesville

Well, luckily, Shakes also offers something fun:

I guess my musical tastes give me away; I'm getting old. The other day, my daughter and I were riding in my car and she was looking through my CDs for something she could bear listening to. I found a Led Zeppelin CD and said, "Oh, wait, you'll like this one."

She listened to it and pronounced it "old lady music." Led Zeppelin for old ladies? Sigh....

Finally, on a more serious note, AlterNet has the following:

...According to former Sgt. Adam Kokesh, who served in Fallujah during the height of the siege, post-traumatic stress disorder can be attributed to three things: "lack of confidence in equipment, lack of confidence in leadership, and lack of confidence in the mission." He added: "In Iraq, we have all three." The alarming rate of veteran suicide -- which has only recently begun to be reported -- loomed heavy over the hearing. Former Marine sniper Sergio Kochergin's voice strained as he told the story of a roommate who had been placed on suicide watch "on and off," only to be taken off in anticipation of "family day," so that he would not say anything to his parents -- "and he did not say anything to them." He was deployed not long after, only to shoot himself in the head in a shower stall, one month after arriving in Iraq. "The Marine should have never been deployed to Iraq in the first place," Kochergin said, "and nobody was held responsible for his death." On the same day of the hearing, a story broke that revealed a disturbing new strategy for dealing with the influx of veterans reportedly suffering from PTSD: Stop diagnosing it. In an e-mail dated March 20 out of an office of the Department of Veterans Affairs (subject header: "suggestion"), a VA employee wrote: "Given that we are having more and more compensation-seeking veterans, I'd like to suggest that we refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out. Consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder, R/O PTSD."The National Institutes of Health defines adjustment disorder as an "abnormal and excessive reaction to a life stressor, such as starting school, getting divorced, or grief" and says that symptoms "usually do not last longer than six months." Compare that to the definition for PTSD, which "can occur after you've seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death" and which, in some cases, "can last for many years." Now, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which broke the story, has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests seeking "all records pertaining to any guidance given regarding the diagnosis of PTSD." "It is outrageous that the VA is calling on its employees to deliberately misdiagnose returning veterans in an effort to cut costs," said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.

"If you want to do something about PTSD," said Kokesh after the hearing, "stop sending people into unjust wars...."


Debs, suddenly your blog is invite only!

Let me back in!

And One More Thing

To the Hillary supporters who claim those of us who are disgusted with the Clintons now are just Clinton haters and always have been, I've decided to share this photo. I covered my full first and last name, but I go by "ceejay" on this blog and you can see the "C" and the "J" here. Does this LOOK like I was a Clinton hater in the 90s???

It's Official - Hillary Clinton, CHEAT

Today, Barack Obama counseled his supporters to be respectful toward Hillary Clinton. After all, he said, she has, among other things, broken through this amazing glass ceiling.

Then, Clinton appeared on my television and compared the seating of the Michigan and Florida delegates to women's suffrage and Seneca Falls, the emancipation of the slaves, and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Oh, really, Hillary, dear???

Let's see. Florida and Michigan were told what the rules of the Democratic Party were - no one was allowed to move their primaries before those of Iowa and New Hampshire (hey, look, I don't understand the "Iowa and New Hampshire always get to go first" thing either, but for the time being, it's the rule). If those states violated the rules, their delegates would not be seated.

They DID violate those rules.

All of the Democratic candidates except for Hillary Clinton removed their names from the Michigan ballot, just as they were supposed to. Now, Hillary claims she "won" there. Right - because she was the only person on the ballot. Everyone else followed the rules.

None of her opponents ever campaigned in Florida, just as the Democratic Party had requested. Now, Hillary claims she "won" there. Right - because only she made appearances there.

Hillary Clinton, you are a CHEAT. There is no polite way to say this, sista' - YOU ARE A DAMN CHEAT. Changing the rules partway through a game just to suit YOU is CHEATING.

So, what is this glass ceiling of which Barack Obama speaks?

Is it the one in which a woman proves she can be as much of an ass as the men in charge ever have been? That she can cheat? That she can seek power at all costs? That she can be as militaristic as the men, voting to send other mothers' children to die in a pointless war and never apologizing for that vote as the mistake it clearly was?


When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a doctor. A teacher of mine told me I could aspire to be a nurse, but not a doctor. My mother, appalled, mentioned this to Congresswoman Lindy Boggs, who got to her knees, took my face in her hands, and promised me I could be anything I wanted to be. Back then, Boggs had gotten her seat in Congress the way most women there had - by having a husband in Congress die and then running for his seat (basically winning with a "widow's sympathy vote").

So I've always dreamed of having women in all sorts of places, all sorts of jobs, getting paid what men get paid and being judged on our abilities - you know, our real assets rather than our asses.

Still, I had hoped that as women we might also bring a new ethic, a different one, to those places and jobs. I hoped women doctors would be gentler, wouldn't make absurd understatements like "the insertion of the IUD may cause mild cramping" and "yes, a ruptured cyst on the ovary does cause some discomfort." I had hoped women lawyers might help single moms get the financial support to which they are entitled, that women judges and prosecutors might take domestic violence seriously. I wished for women police officers who would treat rape victims with respect, who would never think to ask, "Well, what were you wearing?" or "Why were you drinking without using the buddy system?" or "What were you doing out alone / after dark / in that part of town?" And I had hoped that women with political power would positively rock this world. I thought of women like Patricia Schroeder of Colorado and Barbara Jordan of Texas, women who cared about making the right policy decisions TODAY - for women and kids and working people and the poor and the elderly and the disenfranchised - far more than they cared about whether they would win their next bid for reelection, and I longed for dozens and eventually hundreds of them in D.C. I campaigned for some women along the way too - and some men of conscience as well.

Now, Hillary Clinton claims credit for shattering a glass ceiling - the one in which the path to the highest levels of political power involves cheating the electoral process, voting for the war on Iraq, saber rattling when it comes to Iran, chastising Obama for his willingness to meet with foreign leaders currently hostile to the United States (um - hello - isn't talking things through something in which most of us women are trained and pretty skilled? why NOT meet with those leaders, Hillary?). And she has the gall to invoke the abolitionists and the suffragettes and the civil rights agitators as she makes her case for cheating her way to this nomination.

Honest to God, Hillary, you shame me.

You shame all of us.

This isn't the feminist sisterhood of my dreams. You aren't my sister. I can't be sisters with a cheat.

I know the life stories of women like Alice Paul and Elizabeth Caty Stanton. Women like Alice Paul and Elizabeth Caty Stanton are feminist heroes of mine. And, Hillary, you are no feminist hero.

end of crabby rant

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

For Memorial Day

I wrote this for Memorial Day last year. There have now been 4000 American military people killed in Iraq (along with tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). I guess I will republish it every year until the madness stops.

The Promise

He was a surprise, actually, or "unplanned," as they call such things, but in the coming years, no one ever really remembered that part.

She read Doctor Spock, just to get ready, to wile away the passing months. She monitored her eating habits, wondering if she was ingesting the right blend of proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals...the monstrously huge prenatal vitamins that made her nauseated, but she held them down, for his sake; spinach, which was necessary because of spina bifida; no caffeine or, at the very least, less than usual. For months, her mouth tasted strangely metallic, which wasn’t in any of the books, and she was tired, so very tired, as if her body had taken on some mysterious, otherworldly work without her and there was little energy left for herself. He grew until it seemed he would explode her skin, until she worried how he would ever emerge, whether he could ever emerge. Meanwhile, he kicked and spun as if starring in his own unseen circus.

And, finally, finally, he came, pink and squirmy and utterly miraculous. Over time, the horrifying pain, the white-masked medical people, all of that stuff faded into faraway memories, the big birth day captured on photographs as if that part had happened to someone else. Those things were not what mattered. What mattered was his smell, sweet when he nursed, from the milk and from the sweat formed in the fuzz on the top of his head where it nestled in the crook of her arm; the soft, bleating cry, becoming louder and more insistent as the months passed and the lungs grew; the ten tiny fingers and ten perfect toes; the blue eyes, so clear, so different from hers, a contribution from his father’s side, no doubt.

And just as he’d come into the world a little whirlwind, so he remained, eager to walk, to explore his world. For him, everything was new. Empty boxes were the parts of the yearly Christmas bounty most worth exploring. The Easter Bunny was real, the melted chocolate leavings equally useful for decorating both the bathroom tile and the hallway wallpaper. Flowers and dirt proved equally palatable, his mother nonetheless doling out healthy human fare as carefully as she had for herself back when he was still on his way to becoming.

It’s amazing, really, how quickly a child grows, how only a parent knows the speed with which two full decades can fly. And so, the tricycle gave way to a scooter, the kiddie pool swimsuit to a team uniform, the unruly playground shouts to the strains of a saxophone. The "behavior reports," thank God, stopped being sent sometime around junior high. Around the same time, as the volume on the stereo in his room seemed permanently set to the ear-piercing level, he grew to a size she had never actually imagined, back when he was small and...hers. Now, he wasn’t anybody’s really, although he was legally still a child. Oh, sometimes he still acted like a child, certainly, but he had a man’s body now, one a foot longer than her own, one that often swept her up easily in huge, teasing bear hugs. As when he’d been a newborn, she often found herself wondering who this person was, where he had come from, this strange yet familiar source of endless joy.

His career decision was a shock. She’d been prepared for anything, or so she’d thought: doctor, fireman, baker, banker. True, they didn’t have money to pay for college, but there were loans – and such promise, such endless choices ahead. Why this, why? He was equally determined, for reasons she never fully understood. The only answers she could remember, later, years later, had to do with "money for college," "job training," and variants on "Mom, I just have to do this."

And so he did. Long past were the days when a motherly "no" could have stopped him, his stubborn pursuit of what he wanted. No phone calls were allowed, those first months. And when he came home on leave, he was different, although it was hard to say precisely how – an adult, more focused maybe, more self-assured. After that week, that all too short week, he left again, leaving on the end table a framed 8 X 10 photo of a uniformed and unsmiling young soldier. It was strange, really, how the eyes, so blue, so clear, were familiar while nothing else about the photo was.

Iraq. Something about how "they hate us for our freedoms." Something about how "we have to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here." Something about "weapons of mass destruction," about not "waiting for a mushroom cloud." Some far-off place she hardly knew anything about, actually. A desert. Moslems. "Mom," he would say on those rare calls home, "Don’t worry. We look out for each other." She never told him about the sleepless nights, the Zoloft for day and the Xanax for sleep, about the nightsweats and the bad dreams. And in turn, he never told her about the things he’d seen, how at nineteen, he too had turned insomniac, had seen people he thought he was there to help drive car bombs past checkpoints, how he had carried a baby out of a shelled home, the still, silent body wrapped in a blood-soaked blanket. These things were better left unsaid, better left unheard. So, during these calls they chatted casually about family and old friends. And both counted down the months.

It would have been impossible to tell anyone, later, how she’d heard the news, even if she could have remembered. This, too, was one of those things best left unsaid, best left unheard. Much like the day he was born, the worst of the pain and the faces of the people in uniform faded from memory and the things left to her were snapshots. Shots, yes, shots, 21...a 21 gun salute, American flag neatly folded, bullet casings tucked inside. Something about "on the half of a grateful nation" (which made no sense - and for a horrifying moment, she thought she might laugh and then, that if she did, she might never stop), but she hadn’t moved to take the triangle of fabric from him – what was she supposed to do here, what did he want from her - so he’d gently placed it on her lap before stepping back to execute a crisp salute. There was no way her son was in that box. That box was so still, so unlike him to stay still, and it would get cold. He was always so warm, would sweat against her when she nursed him, would make her too hot to sleep on those nights when thunder drove him to her big bed.

All of that promise – that he could be something, anything, that he would bring her joy always, that his parents would die first because that’s the natural order of things....

For Memorial Day – for those who have served, for the family members and friends of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and for Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son and birthed a peace movement.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Missing From Blogland

Well, look what tax season and prepping for the LSAT has done to my blog - a month without any new posts.


The stupid LSAT, which I took and scored fine on a few years ago, is only good for four or five years, so, as a formality, the school is making me retake it. It's around $125. Oh, and if you have to register late (because you're an especially forgetful person or something - ahem!) - "late registration" during the final month before the test is ANOTHER $67, bringing the total to nearly $200.


What a racket they have, huh?

Still planning to write about V-Day. I can't believe it's been a month already! The older I get, the faster time moves, I swear!