Amazing Race Open Thread

Roadblock! Detour! Speed Bump! Dancing Dandrew!

See ya in comments...

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So it begins: the official Christmas shopping season. (Lest you think I'm ignoring the other holidays like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and any other festival that falls between now and January 1, I'm using "Christmas" as the generic term and not preferring that one over the others. Bite me, Bill O'Reilly.)

Actually, the shopping season has been going on since the middle of September when I got my first catalogue from Smith & Hawken or some such; I just didn't notice it among the rest of the campaign literature that was pouring into my mailbox. I piled them on the dining room table until I could make a big enough bundle to stick in the recycling tub and braced for more after the election was over.

Our family has a long tradition of giving gifts to each other, but it's getting to the point where it's becoming more a chore than a true gift, and so my older brother and his wife suggested that maybe it was time for us to all take a deep breath and think beyond the wrapping, the packaging, the search through the desk for the slips of paper with updated addresses, remembering who likes what, who doesn't eat something else, and all the little things that come when you give a material present. They sent out an e-mail to the family suggesting -- just suggesting -- that instead of the boxes and stuffing, we give each other something more meaningful: time with each other and sharing our connections. Give a gift if you like, but don't feel the pressure to have to give something that comes in a box or in a stocking or is redeemable on line.

This is not the first time we've done this. Last year in lieu of presents my parents donated to all of our favorite charities or foundations. And it felt very good. It was, I hope, the beginning of a tradition, and something -- especially in this time of economic shit hitting the fan -- that will help others who really need it.

But it's also hard to let go of the old habits, so I know that I will be out there doing some shopping... or more likely, sitting here at the computer, credit card at the ready, doing shopping without having to remember where I parked.


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The Virtual Pub Is Open

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

Drinks are on me, because
I am
very thankful for you.

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Bush? Never heard of'm.

Yglesias makes a note about "the effort to pull the wagon of conservatism out of the ditch into which Bush piloted the country [via] an effort to deny that George W. Bush was a real conservative." This has been going on at least as far back as 2006, and the refusal of the architects of The Ownership Society to own their fearless leader nowadays never ceases to bitterly amuse me.

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Black Friday Indeed

[Blub alert, and not in a good way. I'm also going to politely request right up front that this not turn into an excuse to engage in classism because of the particular site of this event. Deadly apathy is not exclusively owned by the lower classes.]

Shaker Graham and Arkades both mentioned this in earlier threads, but it really deserves its own post:

A Wal-Mart worker died after being trampled when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island store Friday morning, police and witnesses said.

The 34-year-old employee, a temporary maintenance worker, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back."
People pushed right past as the emergency crews tried to revive the worker; they also knocked down a pregnant woman who was taken to the hospital for treatment.

As I've said before, I've been shocked on far too many occasions in my life by the callous disregard for human life, including lives right in front of our noses. (I've been shocked on occasions by some rather astonishingly brave and wonderful things, too, but I would be lying if I said they were not decidedly more rare.) I've seen people literally step over a body stretched lengthwise across the sidewalk on Chicago's Michigan Avenue during evening rush hour—dozens of people, walking around or right over the prostrate figure of a homeless man, on their hurried way home. I stopped to see if he was okay, if he needed medical attention, if he was alive, and people stopped not to help, but to look at me with utter disgust, before walking on. And last year, a man had a stroke and fell and cracked his head open on the train platform in front of Iain during morning rush hour. Iain was the only one who stopped to help this elderly man, staying with him and trying to care for him and making sure he was breathing, alive, until the paramedics arrived.

This is why we've all got to be consciously, deliberately, vigilantly all in.

We each make a difference in this world, for good or ill. There is no neutral. There is no Switzerland. There is only saying no to the indignities one human visits upon another—prejudice, hatred, humiliation and pain—or saying yes. And sometimes there is only stopping and kneeling and laying your hands on a stranger and putting your own body in between theirs and a herd of the unconcerned.

Always, every moment of every day, we must remember that kindness really can be a matter of life and death.

[Thanks to Iain and Shaker InfamousQBert, who also sent the story by email.]

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Every morning I wake up and grow discouraged because my toast is just too damn plain.


The Darth Vader Toaster will be available January 2009 and burn Darth Vader's helmet into my toast.

If there's something every Sith Lord knows how to do it's make a balanced breakfast. While the Jedi have to live off of Jawa juice and fried nerfsteak, the Dark Lord of the Sith prefers to have a reminder of his fiery Mustafar defeat at his breakfast table. Every morning he burns that moment into a slice of bread with the Darth Vader Toaster. This black, ominous kitchen appliance easily leaves the mark of Vader's helmet in every yummy piece of toast. Slather some Bantha butter on top, or make two pieces for an extra-Sithy BLT. Force power not required to operate toaster.

Vader Toaster

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Daily Kitteh

Know what happens on Thanksgiving to naughty kittens who ignore at least half a dozen kitchen sink sprayer warnings to GET OFF THE COUNTER and STAY AWAY FROM THE STOVE and wait for Mumsy to turn her back for two seconds so they can go investigate what's cooking?

They get curly whiskers!

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What Are We Really Giving Thanks For?

[This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but Renee and I had email issues. So my apologies for the delay!—MM]

by Shaker Renee, of Womanist Musings

Today families are going to gather across the nation to share a meal. (At least those who can afford to participate.) They will brave long lines, security at the airports, and lots of traffic to ensure that they are able to re-enact the national fable that we have come to understand as Thanksgiving Day. As the mashed potatoes and turkey are doled out, a few will stop to consider their bounty. Other than the 4th of July, could there be another day that is filled with more tradition, and pure Americana?

Hours of labour will have gone into preparing the feast. The stress of the travel will be forgotten as people begin to gorge themselves. It will be a day that will reach its climax when finally every stomach is filled beyond tolerance, and each face holds a smile. Satiated and relaxed, the family will retire to their respective couches to reflect upon a good time had by all.

Yes, it seems like a wonderful day of light hearted mirth and family bonding, until we begin to speak about the unmentionable; the suffering of the Indigenous community. The national myth includes happy compliant Native Americans, with no mention of the near genocide that occurred that makes them nearly invisible to this day in the social hierarchy.

We are further meant to believe that the pilgrims as people of God, held no prejudice, or ambition in their hearts. We are continually reminded of their persecution, as though that absolves them of the pleasure that they took in the near destruction of Native peoples. Only the truly God-fearing and tolerant kind, find happiness in small pox decimating a population.

John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, called the plague "miraculous." To a friend in England in 1634, he wrote:

"But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by the small pox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not fifty, have put themselves under our protect."
This is not the only declaration that Winthrop would make. The thanksgiving that we partake in today is nothing more than the re-enactment of a celebration over the murder of over 700 Pequot people.
'Thanksgiving' did not begin as a great loving relationship between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett people. In fact, in October of 1621 when the 'pilgrim' survivors of their first winter in Turtle Island sat down to share the first unofficial 'Thanksgiving' meal, the Indians who were there were not even invited! There was no turkey, squash, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. A few days before this alleged feast took place, a company of 'pilgrims' led by Miles Standish actively sought the head of a local Indian leader, and an 11 foot high wall was erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of keeping Indians out! Officially, the holiday we know as 'Thanksgiving' actually came into existence in the year 1637. Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed this first official day of Thanksgiving and feasting to celebrate the return of the colony's men who had arrived safely from what is now Mystic, Connecticut. They had gone there to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot men, women and children, and Mr. Winthrop decided to dedicate an official day of thanksgiving complete with a feast to 'give thanks' for their great 'victory'....
The unspoken thanks for the near-genocide of a people is what we will all fail to reflect upon. In this way we are able to maintain a colonization that has gone on since Plymouth Rock landed on the Indigenous Peoples.

The lie is maintained from generation to generation. We use children's cartoons to inform the young that they are entitled to this privilege born of bloodshed. Schools use thanksgiving pageants, where the children are dressed as Pilgrims and Indians to re-enforce the national myth.

Though the Indigenous community has complained, time and time again about the obvious appropriation of culture, many refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the offense. They hold tightly to the idea that they have the right to their traditions. (Warning: Comment section is extremely offensive.)

In the name of tradition the colonization, exploitation, and marginalization continues. One would believe that after the breaking of over 350 treaties, the trail of tears, and the slaughter of untold millions, that we could socially decide that a tradition that is based in this is worth changing.

It is the denial of racial privilege to believe that one group has the right to so forcefully express their power in this manner. Though the Indigenous community represents the vanquished historically speaking, they are still a vibrant part of our society. The annual celebration of such cruelty is macabre to say the least.

If we must have a day when we gather together, it should not be in the celebration of a near genocide. There is nothing that evokes warmth and love about an earth that is filled with the blood of so many innocent people.

Today as the turkey and the ham are passed around, perhaps instead of the laughter and camaraderie, a moment of silence could be devoted to the cultures that have been forcibly destroyed, the languages lost, and the untold suffering of millions. The Indigenous Peoples of the Americas deserve at least that. If we can pause on Remembrance Day for a war that lasted four years; perhaps we can take a moments pause for a colonization that has lasted centuries.

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Friday Blogaround

lol your blogaround

Recommended Reading:

Renee: Teaching the Young to Disrespect Indigenous Culture

Lisa: Anachronism and American Indians

Kevin: Am I Not Human?

Katecontinued: Use Less

Ginmar: Just Donate a Dollar

Jill: A Boy's Life

Leave your links in comments...

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Happy Blogiversary... Elle, PhD, one of my absolute favorite blogs in the blogosphere, with four amazing bloggers, celebrating three years of serious blog-rocking.

Elle, someday we are going to have the longest lunch in history together. That is a fact!

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Mumbai Attack Resources

Matttbastard's got a great compilation of resources, information, and news sources here and will continue to update. If you've got any recommendations, leave them in his comments or here.

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Jumping off the Ban Wagon

I've got a new piece at The Guardian's Comment is free America about LGB rights in the 21st century, progress, and teaspoons:

In an open letter to her brother (and conservative firebrand) Newt last week, Candace Gingrich, who is an out lesbian, took him to task for his anti-gay positions: "The truth is that you're living in a world that no longer exists. I, along with millions of Americans, clearly see the world the way it as – and we embrace what it can be. You, on the other hand, seem incapable of looking for new ideas or moving beyond what worked in the past. Welcome to the 21st century, big bro."

Welcome indeed.

In 2004, the GOP's Federal Marriage Amendment, seeking to ban same-sex marriage nationally, failed for the first time; in 2006, it failed for the second time. It has been reintroduced this year; it will fail again – if it even makes it to a vote.

By August of 2005, only a year after 11 states banned same-sex marriage by ballot, a Pew Research poll found that 53% of Americans supported same-sex civil unions (and 35% of those supported full marriage equality). It was also a year after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage – and the state had had an entire year to explode, but hadn't...
Read the whole thing here.

(And to the Ts: I'm planning something more specific to you for CifA in future, so please don't feel forgotten or unimportant to me.)

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Cabbage Patch Riots, 1983

I never had, nor wanted, a Cabbage Patch Kid when
I was a little girl. I thought they were ugly as fuck.

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Black Friday

Black Friday is upon us. The holiest of holies, that day of unbridled consumerism and conspicuous spending that makes us all Americans, no matter what country we live in. And while you're out there today stimulating the economy, like the good patriots you are, think of me. Yes, think of me and all the things I want need. Because nobody wants needs more stuff than I do. So here's my Xmas List. Print it out. Take it with you. It'll make shopping for me easier.

Playmobil Hazmat Crew

Bruce of Los Angeles: Outside/Inside

EyeClops Bionic Eye

Suit of Armor

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Tiffany Metropolis Cuff Links

Vintage Stormtrooper 12" Action Figure

Dusty in Memphis by Dusty Springfield

Pith Helmet

Acupuncture Cat Model

The Exact and Very Strange Truth by Ben Piazza

Hugo Boss Plain Toe Oxfords

Corey Haim: Me, Myself, and I

Rainer Werner Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy

UPDATED to add: Darth Vader Toaster

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Daily Kitteh

The sit-in will continue until turkey is surrendered.

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Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai

I've been reading with horror about the coordinated terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India yesterday and this morning, which, according to the Times of India, have already left over 100 people dead and nearly 1,000 injured, and I don't even know what to say. Al-Qaeda was immediately and reflexively presumed to be responsible, which is now being disputed; meanwhile, "an unknown outfit, Deccan Mujahideen, has sent an email to news organizations claiming that it carried out the Mumbai attacks." A bit of history:

India has been wracked by bomb attacks the past three years, which police blame on Muslim militants intent on destabilizing this largely Hindu country. Nearly 700 people have died.

Since May a militant group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen has taken credit for a string of blasts that killed more than 130 people. The most recent was in September, when a series of explosions struck a park and crowded shopping areas in the capital, New Delhi, killing 21 people and wounding about 100.

Mumbai has been hit repeatedly by terror attacks since March 1993, when Muslim underworld figures tied to Pakistani militants allegedly carried out a series of bombings on Mumbai's stock exchange, trains, hotels and gas stations. Authorities say those attacks, which killed 257 people and wounded more than 1,100, were carried out to avenge the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in religious riots that had swept India.

Ten years later, in 2003, 52 people were killed in Mumbai bombings blamed on Muslim militants and in July 2007 a series of seven blasts on railway trains and at commuter rail stations killed at least 187.

Relations between Hindus, who make up more than 80 percent of India's 1 billion population, and Muslims, who make up about 14 percent, have sporadically erupted into bouts of sectarian violence since British-ruled India was split into independent India and Pakistan in 1947.
I wish I had something wise or reassuring to say, but I don't.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

WKRP: Turkey Drop

It's kinda hard to believe this is considered a classic bit of
Thanksgiving hilarity, but so it is. I'll bet weed helps.


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Soft on Turkeys

From The West Wing, President Jed Bartlet emulates George W. Bush and pardons two turkeys.*

Happy Thanksgiving.

*Thanks to Shaker Hawise for the correction.

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Top Chef Open Thread

Chef Tom Colicchio will drink. your. milkshake!!!

He will also show you fun and interesting new things you can do with peppercorns and capers. Special things.

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Question of the Day

Who is your favorite poet?

Given that you're reading this at a blog called Shakesville, I'm going to wager a guess that you can figure out my answer.

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Quote of the Day

"Malia and Sasha have already put their list together. It's mostly for Santa. They send their letter every year. But we may do some extra shopping as well."President-Elect Barack Obama, protecting the magic and mystery of St. Nick for his daughters, lest any sound bite spoilers reach their wee ears.

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Wild About Harry

So, last night, Harry Connick, Jr. was on the Letterman show, and I've been waiting all day for a video of it to come online, but no such luck. He told a rather hilarious story about the black and white roosters his family owned, respectively named Obama and McCain, one of whom got eaten on election night. I don't guess I need to tell you which one.

He was also being generally cute talking about his wife and three daughters, which reminded me that he once got Shakesville's Quote of the Day for rhapsodizing all the strong women in his life—so, since I can't find that darn video, here's the quote again with the video originally posted with it. Enjoy!

"My life is chick power. My manager is a woman, who has been with me since I'm 18, and my wife is a strong and intelligent woman. I have three daughters. My dogs are all females. Even my sister Suzanna...she just got a double medical degree; she's now a psychiatrist and an internal medicine doctor and she speaks about 10 languages. She's so impressive. I'm surrounded by strong, intelligent women."Harry Connick, Jr.

Here's Harry doing "Yes We Can Can," a tune The Pointer Sisters made famous.

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When making the syrup for baklava and going to add a dash of ground cloves, make sure the "spoon side" of the spice container lid is really as closed as it looks like it is.

Much swearing ensues otherwise.

That is all.

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Verdict in Cyberbullying Case

Lori Drew, the Missouri mother on trial for her role in an internet hoax that culminated in a 13-year-old girl's suicide (background here), has been convicted of three minor offenses, each punishable by up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Well, I guess it's something. I'd like to say I hope this case might deter other people from engaging in similar vicious online "pranks," but I know as well as I know my own name that it won't.

RIP Megan.

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Habeas Schmabeas

Constitutional tomfoolery is afoot! Gasp! The world is alight with talk of emoluments and essential oils. And Clinton. (Just google "emoluments" and "Clinton" and see.)

In case you didn't know before today, "emolument" is a word powdered wig types used way back when instead of "paycheck." Maybe because back then senators got paid in livestock instead of money.

In case you didn't know before today, Obama appointing Clinton Secretary of State would be unconstitutional. Because of emoluments.

The problem is, Article I, Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution says a senator who has voted a pay increase for a job like Secretary of State can't then serve as Secretary of State. I guess to keep them from voting a big fat raise for a job they're eyeing in the future. Kind of presumptuous, if you ask me. Does anyone really think Clinton's (or anyone else who approved the pay increase) grand plan was to vote for the emoluments, then lose the primary, then sneak her way into that (presumably now) high-paying job as Secretary of State? Okay, maybe people do think that.

There may be a way around the issue of emoluments, as far as the Oval Office is concerned: Roll back the pay; render the increase null and void. Unfortunately, according to constitutional scholars, this is totally not cool even though Taft did it to get Philander Knox in the White House. As did Nixon and Carter and W.J. Clinton. And who the hell names their kid Philander anyway? Seriously, that's messed up. See, even if the emoluments were dropped to pre-Clinton-vote figures, it would still be a violation of the Constitution. Let me quote pertinent bit (which, like all good bits of that document, I've snipped down to its useful parts) which makes it clear:

"No Senator shall, during the Time for which (s)he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office, which the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time."

Just as you can't unring a bell, just as you can't shove sausage backward though a meat grinder and pull a pig out the other end, some things just can't be undone. Even if you did roll back the pay, you can't undo the historical fact that the increase was made. Even if it's gone now. So there. Suck on that, Taft! It may seem like mere equivocating, but it's not. No sir. It's the Constitution, and it can't be fucked with.

It's wonderful to know there are those fine, brave folks out there willing to stand up to our incoming president, and they won't let him make mockery of the rule of law in this country. Just imagine what would happen if our president tried to suspend habeas corpus on a whim or something.

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Chicagoan Shaker Veronica, whom I met at the first ever Shaker meet-up (or at least the first one that wasn't just Spudsy and me hanging out, lol) and is truly a supercool woman, was recently interviewed by Chicago's WGN for a segment they were doing about "the B-word." She's got video and some commentary at her place, and more commentary at WIMN's Voices.

It's really tough to say exactly what you want to say at exactly the right moment, no less have your intent remain intact through the filter of editing—but Veronica, who's also an editorial contributor to Bitch magazine, did a good job of advocating the virtues of reclamation.

Anyway, check it out and then discuss.

For the record, there's certainly no requirement or expectation of agreement. There are feminists of good faith on both sides of the reclamation debate. I am pro-reclamation, as is Veronica—but you'll see that she draws the line at the c-word, for example, which I, of course, don't (to Shaker Constant Comment's everlasting chagrin). And there are feminists who would argue that bitch can be reclaimed as an insult, with which both Veronica and I disagree. And there are other feminists (including some Shakers) who aren't pro-reclamation at all, whose opinions I can totally dig and respect and who I'm grateful dig and respect mine in return.

[Related Reading: On "Bitch" and Other Misogynist Language.]

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Daily Kitteh



"Say what now?"

"Who's there?"

"Who, me?"







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Oh, Do Tell!

Delay schmelay.

This just in: Washington Times full of shit! Okay, you probably already knew that. According to a member of the Obama transition team, the president-elect has no plans to delay the repeal of DADT.

[N]ot everyone familiar with the issue has said that repealing the ban on open service would come later rather than sooner. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), the lead sponsor of legislation that would repeal "Don’t Ask, Don't Tell" told CNN earlier this month that the administration would approve of such a bill next year.

"The key here is to get bills that pass the House and the Senate, that we can get to President-elect Obama to sign, and I think that we can do that, certainly, the first year of the administration," she said.
Once Obama's national security team is in place, something I assume will happen prior to 2010, the administration will develop a strategy to get DADT repealed.

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"Mwah-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha" Said the Gaylords

The Gaypocalypse is moving more swiftly than originally anticipated, as the erosive influence of the radical homosexual agenda seeps into one of the innermost bastions of sanctimonious Straightville -- an evangelical church where parishioners are being encouraged to do something once considered the exclusive province of sex-crazed queers -- make lots and lots of whoopie.

"Mr. Young, an author, a television host and the pastor of the evangelical Fellowship Church, issued his call for a week of “congregational copulation” among married couples on Nov. 16, while pacing in front of a large bed. Sometimes he reclined on the paisley coverlet while flipping through a Bible, emphasizing his point that it is time for the church to put God back in the bed."
Now, you are probably saying: "But Portly, I don't think that there's anything particularly queer about good Christian couples sharing increased conjugal bliss!"

Oh, sure -- it may look innocent at first glance -- but let's take a good hard look here: The pastor "reclined on the paisley coverlet while flipping through a Bible". If that's not a scene out of an actual gay porn flick, I'll eat my hat.

And surely this phrase alone -- "Congregational Copulation" -- is enough to send up rainbow warning flags, don't you agree?

As everyone knows, we queers are always having lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of wild gay sex (apparently, even lesbians have gay sex -- who knew?) -- and no, I don't need to cite any of the hundreds of articles and blog-posts that claim this, because, as I said, everyone already knows it.

That's why we must never, ever, ever be allowed to get married -- because our steamy, saucy, sex-rompy marriages would make straight marriage look so pallid and undesirable by comparison, and as Pastor Young says: "if you make the time to have sex, it will bring you closer to your spouse and to God" -- so everyone would want to be gay-married.

Because if the good pastor is right, and the rumors about our sex-lives are true, then we queers must be very, very, very close to God.

(Serious true story: When my fundie brother-in-law used to insist that AIDS was God's curse on gays, I would simply reply: "Hmmm. Then, since lesbians have the lowest risk-rate for HIV infection, we must be God's Chosen People! Yippee!" This has been another Portly lesson in how to turn twisted Christianist logic to your own advantage.)

End snarky, sarcastic portion of post

Begin serious, analytical portion of post.

When 'Liss emailed me the link with this comment: "Something about this (no, everything about this!) is totally making me hurl, and I thought maybe you'd also find it nauseatingly amusing", I waded into the article with my Phenergan close at hand, to see what I could see.

I found these two lines particularly puke-worthy (emphasis mine):
"One parishioner, Rob Hulsey, 25, said his Baptist relatives raised their eyebrows about it, but he summed up the reaction of many husbands at Fellowship Church when he first heard about the sex challenge — “Yay!”"

"Others found that, like smiling when you are not particularly happy, having sex when they did not feel like it improved their mood. Just eight months into their marriage, Amy and Cody Waddell had not been very amorous since Cody admitted he had had an affair."
Gee. I wonder who those "others" could be?

Since it's usually pretty anatomically difficult for a man to "have sex when they do not feel like it" (at least the kind of church-sanctified penis-in-vagina sex that I'm pretty sure Pastor Young is advising, rather than the pervy none-PIV sex that is the scourge of Christendom), then I'm imagining that the only "others" who could have sex when they "didn't feel like it" would be . . . . . that's right . . . . . women.

And given the "Yay!" reaction from the male members of the congregation, I'm guessing that Pastor Young's "Sex Challenge" actually boils down to this:

Wives! Service Your Husbands!

Which is not a new message in the church.

When my fundamentalist nephew was married, I was very worried about attending in the service in his Baptist congregation. It was the late 80s, and anti-gay fervor on the Right had been recently re-energized by ballot-measures and intiatives in several states, so I steeled myself for a possible barrage of queer-bashing from the pulpit.

Imagine my surprise when no mention of teh evil gay was made, but the pastor whipped out good old Ephesians 5:22: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord". That was just the opening sentence -- I will leave the rest to your feminist imaginations.

I was sitting between my two straight sister-in-laws, and they each, unbeknownst to the other, dug their fingers into one of my thighs as the homily commenced -- apparently in an effort to quell their desire to jump up and burn their bras over the altar candles.

If I were a pastor (oh wait, I am!), and had deep concerns about the state of the marital intimacy amongst my parishioners, I guess I'd start with a sermon like . . . . I don't know . . . . maybe something about not cheating on your wife at all, much less in the first eight months of your marriage? That's just me, of course. I'm funny that way.

However, Pastor Young says that "The real “f word” in the marital boudoir, he says, is “forgiveness.”" In other words, it's not that important if your husband has an affair -- what's important is that you forgive him.

Because what would Jesus do?

And have sex with him anyway, even when you don't feel like it.

Because what would Jesus do?

(Oh wait -- strike that last bit.)

/end serious analytical portion of post -- which was a complete failure anyway, as I cannot seem to restrain my Bitter Angels in the face of a pastor who wants to wrap the tired old Christianist package of manipulation and control of women in a trendy new wrapper of god-proximity and loving-legacies-for-our-children.

Well -- gotta go now -- Beloved and I both have the day off.
*Wanders away humming "Nearer My God To Thee"*

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Luck Squared

My favorite thing about watching any kind of competition, whether it's a sporting event, an old-school game show like Jeopardy!, or a reality series like Top Chef, is having someone for whom to root. I love rooting. I love living and dying with a contestant (or team, as the case may be), and, while rooting against someone can be fun, rooting for someone is even better.

(See: The Amazing Race 7, during which hatin' Rob & Amber and Ron & Kelly was fun, but rooting for Uchenna & Joyce was bliss!)

Basically, I love the opportunity to be happy for someone.

So, all that said, I am madly in love with this clip (via Chris) from The Price Is Right, where the awesome luck just keeps on rolling a contestant's way. No transcript, but the only information you might not be able to glean from watching if you can't hear the video is that it was also the contestant's 19th birthday.

Happy Birthday! The IRS is on the phone...

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Wednesday Blogaround

What's the frequency, Shakers?

Recommended Reading:

Phil: The Upstairs Cat

Dave: Hate Crimes and Illegal Immigration: O'Reilly Reverses the Reality

Lena: Shades of "To Wong Foo"

Lauredhel: The "Be Cervix Savvy" Campaign

Rachel: On Ann Coulter's Jaw

Leave your links in comments...

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Ever wonder what a talking douchebag sounds like? Wonder no more:

"Everything that President-elect Obama has done since election night has been just about perfect, both in terms of a tone and also in terms of the strength of the names that have either been announced or are being discussed to fill his administration," [Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman] said during a visit to Hartford.
I'm sure Obama will get an extra-special awesome good night's sleep tonight, knowing that Joe Lieberman approves. Nothing's quite so meaningful as a compliment on one's decision-making from a man whose last big decision was to endorse and campaign for John McCain.

The AP frames this as Lieberman taking a step "toward mending his relationship with Democrats," but anyone who's paid the slightest bit of attention to Lieberman's trajectory over the last decade should know this has nothing to do with making amends and everything to do with a wildly inflated ego and the firm conviction that he is an unassailably wise and objective observer of All Things Beltway, conferred by the two parties fighting over him like starving dogs over a scrap of meat.

Just because both dogs want you doesn't make you a steak, you old piece of gristle.

[H/T to Shaker Lena.]

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Gates to Stay on as SecDef

Change schmange:

Several officials close to President-elect Barack Obama's transition tell CNN that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to stay on the job for at least the first year of the new administration.

One source called it "all but a done deal" that the announcement could come as early as next week.

...[A second] source noted that Gates could stay for longer than a year if he and Obama end up working well together.
Pros: Continuity—there are two wars going on; keeping Gates on will make Obama's transition into the Oval Office easier, especially when the economy will be demanding so much of his attention. Bipartisanship—Obama all but promised outright Republicans in his cabinet; retaining Gates subverts inevitable complaints if he failed to include any, and Gates is pretty unobjectionable as far as GOP players go.

Cons: Continuity—there are two wars going on; both have been badly managed and if there was one place Obama sought to distance himself from the former administration (and even his fellow Dems) it was on foreign policy, but keeping Gates around creates a direct connection back to Bush policy. Bipartisanship—the Dems are routinely considered by voters to be weaker on foreign policy than the GOP; retaining Gates implicitly reinforces that narrative.

My take: The primary benefit of having Biden on the ticket is his foreign policy expertise. The divided attentions issue could have been easily mitigated by designating Biden as pointperson on defense during the transition, as a Democratic defense secretary took over operations. (And would, say, Wes Clark really have had much of a learning curve, anyway?) And the whole bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake shit is utterly lost on me, especially when it comes to defense. So, all things considered, I really don't see the upside here.

I'm not suggesting it's a total disaster, but it would not have been my first choice by a long shot.

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Read These Now Because Worm Glue is The Future

U.S. finds trace of melamine in baby formula. (Reuters)

NY Times review of 'Milk'

FATHER RUSSIA: Putin and the Presidency

OPEC likely to debate, not decide another supply cut.

Celebrities who can and can't carry off a moustache. (Guardian)

Solar-powered sea-slugs live like plants.

Why Poppies Have One Flower Per Stalk and Tomatoes Have Many.

Worm Glue May Hold the Key to Fixing Broken Bones. (Discover)

Jeff Seroy, the veteran publicist of the distinguished New York imprint Farrar, Straus and Giroux, has captured the phenomenon in a soundbite. Obama, he said, "is the new Oprah". (Guardian)

Nov. 25, 1816: Theater Lighting — It's a Gas. (Wired)

Possible Spoilers: The Final Five On The Final Cylon.

Malaysia backs down from yoga ban.

Sci-Fi Wire's 10 Biggest Video-Game Irritations.

You kittens have a great Thanksgiving. I have lots of prep work to do. I need to make stock and endless other activities. I found this wonderful recipe for Autumn Trifle with Roasted Apples, Pears, and Pumpkin-Caramel Sauce. YUM! Cheers!

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California to Investigate Mormons' Political Activity Re: Prop 8

California's Fair Political Practices Commission, which oversees state campaign finance laws, will launch an inquiry after a complaint was filed on November 13:

California officials will investigate accusations that the Mormon Church neglected to report a battery of nonmonetary contributions — including phone banks, a Web site and commercials — on behalf of a ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage.

...The complaint, filed by Fred Karger, founder of the group Californians Against Hate, asserted that the church's reported contributions — about $5,000, according to state election filings — vastly underestimated its actual efforts in passing Proposition 8, which amended the state's Constitution to recognize only male-female marriage.

Broadly speaking, California state law requires disclosure of any money spent or services provided to influence the outcome of an election.

...Mr. Karger's complaint paints a sweeping picture of the involvement by the church leadership, and raises questions about who paid for out-of-state phone banks and grass-roots rallies in California before the Nov. 4 vote.

"Who paid for the buses, travel costs, meals and other expenses of all the Mormon participants?" the complaint reads. "No contributions were reported."

The complaint also touches on a five-state simulcast from church leaders to Mormon congregations, as well as a Web site,, that featured a series of videos advocating passage of the ballot measure and is labeled "an official Web site" of the Mormon Church.

...Mr. Karger said he respected the right of Mormons to vote in line with their religious beliefs, but added "if they're going to play politics, then they need to play by the rules."

A spokesperson for the church had no comment on the specific accusations, but said they would cooperate with the investigation. One hopes more readily than they complied with the law, ahem.

Relatedly, I quite genuinely do not understand how the Mormon Church can keep its federal tax-exempt status after its meddling in Prop 8. They want to preach from the pulpit that same-sex marriage is immoral; fine, wev, bigot-a-go-go all you like. But as soon as that belief compels political action, no more tax free yum-yum. That's the rule. Or at least, it's supposed to be.

I swear we could solve this fiscal crisis in one fell swoop if we collected from every conservative religious organization the back taxes owed from the moment they got political and thereby voluntarily rescinded their tax-exempt status. Focus on the Family alone could probably bail out the Big Three.


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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Sister Sister

All three intros!

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Question of the Day

Bouncing off of these two posts:

What current phrase is driving you completely bonkers with rage?

I'm seeing this all over the place, and it must stop. Guys are using it all the time on HGTV, which I love, but I may have to boycott if this continues. It's appearing on stupid gift signs that annoying people will buy and give to people even more annoying. It's used on television shows. It's irritating on so many levels.

When discussing a basement rec room, or basement bar, or garage, or toolshed, or whateverthefuck:

"Man Cave."


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Virtual Town Hall on Prop 8

This evening, the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center are hosting a 90 minute Virtual Town Hall meeting on Proposition 8: The Facts and Future.

You should be able to stream audio on their website.

The Town Hall begins at 6 pm (Pacific) or 9 pm (Eastern).

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Obama to GOP

"Know what goes great with my delicious mandate? A saucy twist of preemptively positioning you jerkoffs as obstructionists in case you even consider indulging any foolish impulse to get in my way. Lick it up, suckers."

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Your Spider's No Good Here

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A Special Holiday Message from Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich
What Every Child Should Know About Thanksgiving
by Newt Gingrich


Radical Secularists Will Eat You!


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Daily Kitteh

"It is only a matter of time before I kill you, Two-Legs."

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I Write Letters

Dear English-Speaking World:

Pursuant to yesterday's letter regarding the cessation of your use of the terms "man's man" and "ladies' man," I would also like to request that you jettison the following from your vocabularies: "He's all boy" and "She's all girl."

These terms are used to refer to children, anywhere from infancy to about 10 years of age, who are regarded as conforming nicely to the sex- and gender stereotypes prescribed by The PatriarchyTM. Sometimes, their use is only as pernicious as reinforcing an exclusionary narrative like all male humans like sports or all female humans like fashion.

"I see your son Joe there is playing with a ball."

"Yes, he's all boy!"

"I see Jane likes to carry around her mother's old purse."

"Yes, she's all girl!"

Sometimes, however, they are as nefarious as justifying and/or reinforcing negative behaviors typically associated with one sex.

"I see Jane stomps her feet and cries when she doesn't get what she wants."

"Yes, she loves to throw tantrums—she's all girl!"

"I see Joe often breaks his toys almost immediately after getting them out of the box."

"Yes, he's so rough and destructive—he's all boy!"

In either case, the terms (much like "man's man") create a tremendously limited definition of both sexes. To inextricably associate being "all boy" with toy trucks and tumult, and being "all girl" with dollies and diffidence, limits both the boys who like trucks and girls who like dollies and the boys and girls who don't, the latter of whom are not somehow "partially" girl and boy, or not girl and boy at all.

Our insistence on reducing children to these incomplete and hopelessly retrograde definitions of sex and gender does them no favors. And, besides that, it's about as sophisticated as believing girls really are made of sugar and spice and everything nice and boys of snakes and snails and puppy dogs' tails. Surely, we're cleverer than that.

That is not to suggest that, by some combination of nature and nurture, boys and girls are not different creatures, or to argue for androgynous silver unitards that bespeak the superfluity of sex and gender. This is not really a letter about the differences, or sameness, between girls and boys at all. (For that, you can go here.) This letter is about broadening the scope of what is acceptably female and what is acceptably male, by first and foremost not limiting those spectrums in the first place.

This letter is about the idea that a boy who loves his Easy-Bake Oven is all boy, too. And about the idea that a girl who dresses up in her dad's clothes

—is all girl, too.

It's also about not defining masculinity in contradistinction to femininity (and vice versa), which can have [trigger warning] disastrous consequences. And it's about having respect for people who loudly, proudly, aren't all boy or all girl, but a bit of each, by nature or design, whose bodies or minds or personal aesthetic reject the binary. It's about rejecting the idea that men are women are so different that we come from different planets, that we are so different we're practically different species, that we are separate and unequal.

This letter asks you to reject othering language.

All boy, after all, means no girl. And what could be more othering than saying you're no part of me, and I'm no part of you?

Thank you and have a nice day.


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Quote of the Day

"We can't revive the ghost of Ronald Reagan."—An anonymous Republican senator, grousing to The Politico's Roger Simon about the GOP's floundering attempts to appeal to the electorate.

Runner-up quote: "We have to talk about education, family, and moral issues like gay marriage and abortion." He'd be onto something there—if he were talking about the moral rectitude of supporting same-sex marriage and abortion. But, naturally, he's not.

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Petulant's Pumpkin Update

Let me tell ya kittens, this seemingly daunting task is quite easy. The GINORMOUS pumpkin has thin skin and a very sharp Henckels' chef's knife cut it up very swiftly with little distress to my poor shoulder. I baked my first batch in a convection oven at 350º and it cooked within 40 minutes.

First Pumpkin patch

Also, it is sweeter than some of the smaller pumpkins I normally use. This baby is not "woody as fuck." YAY!

Pumpkin soup, bread, and pie forever!

I saved some of the seeds so I might have a Petulant Pumpkin Patch next year. Double YAY!

I have to continue my cooking now. Once I finish cooking, I will save some for Thanksgiving, purée the rest, and freeze in Food Saver bags.

If any of you have any favorite pumpkin recipes leave them in comments.


Slicing Pumpkin

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In shocking, shocking, shocking news, President-elect Barack Obama will not let Teh Gayz run rampant over the military come January 20th. In fact he may wait until later in his term to attempt overturning DADT. Instead of opening the floodgates of sodomy on the armed forces his first day in office, Obama plans to meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Pentagon to develop new legislation he can present to Congress.

Which sounds quite reasonable.

In fact, I've been unable to find any reference to Obama promising a timeline on withdrawal (to borrow a phrase) of the policy. So, what is the point of the article at all? Other than to paint Obama as a liar, a promise breaker, a turncoat on this "explosive" issue (and probably everything else, now that we mention it; he's a secret Muslim and a liar, don't ya know.) Not that The Washington Times, that bastion of fair and balanced reportage, would ever resort to such a thing.

And what makes me think that anything having to do with Teh Gays is "explosive" as far as these douchsniffers are concerned?


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Actual Headline

Why Don't We Hang Pirates Anymore?

The Wall Street Journal: Now that the economic nooz is so depressing, we're just gonna talk about hanging pirates. Arr, matey.

Tomorrow: Should Paulson be made to walk the plank?

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The MRA Mirror

[Trigger warning.]

by Shaker Sunless Nick

When MRA-types can be bothered to acknowledge rape as a problem at all, they inevitably claim false accusations of rape as a comparable problem, one that happens at least as often, and one that is—unlike rape, they claim—ignored and belittled. For the record, that is not true. But I thought I'd look through that MRA mirror and see what would happen if false rape accusations were really "taken as seriously" as rape.

First, of course, depending on where he lives, the falsely charged man might have to pay for a rape kit that could bolster his case. Naturally, it would likely never be relevant, because the false report case would probably never get to court, being summarily decided instead by lawyers or the police after they determine there to be no evidence that the woman lied. (And of course, there would be a legal presumption that she is truthful and he a rapist.)

But leaving that aside... There is also the fact that false accusations would benefit from widespread apologism, and accused men would suffer from victim-blaming.

For instance, if a victim of false rape accusation was really treated like a victim of rape, then the accused man would be held responsible for it. He'd be asked why he was alone with her. He'd be lectured on everything he coulda woulda shoulda done differently, then or otherwise. He'd have his whole history dissected, looking for other women he might have annoyed, thus justifying this woman's annoyance. He'd be asked if he agreed to the rumour, or secretly liked it? He'd be pressured to drop the whole thing because it was a mistake, not really a serious allegation, she's not really the lying type (heck, she might even be called plucky), and is it really worth ruining her life over this?

And that'd be from the people who believed him and claimed they were on his side.

Otherwise of course, he'd be called a liar (or even a sinister conspirator)—and were he ever to smile or date again, it could be advanced as proof of it. And he'd be called the male equivalents of slut, whore, tease, and bitch (or would, if the male equivalents of those words weren't compliments). And he'd be asked if he can really remember what happened, and is he sure she said yes?

There would be long earnest diatribes about how men could avoid being "deservedly" accused. (Not by just by disgruntled women either; the mainstream media would weigh in on the "MRAs false-accusation fallacy"). Of course they'd include disclaimers of how, "No man deserves to be falsely accused of rape, BUT"—before going on to explain how so many case of false accusation are indeed the man's fault, and how men should ensure that they don't happen.

For instance, it might be trotted out how women are hardwired for intimacy, security, and long-term commitment, and are you sure you didn't say or do anything that implied you were willing to marry and start a family with her? No? But you had sex, and that could have been construed as a promise for those things, so her anger at you breaking that promise is quite understandable really. Did you made it clear you were only interested in a casual hookup? Well why didn't you make it clearer?

Along the way, it might be compared to property crime... say identity theft. After all, we know the stories now; we're careful about letting information about slip into other people's hands, and we know how hard it is to prove the truth if false purchases are racked up in our name. So it's not much of a stretch to parallel that to false accusations and tarnished reputations, right?

There'd be PSAs on how parents can prevent their sons getting into situations where they might be accused of rape, with the women who might do it mysteriously disappeared from the narrative.

Men would be told to take false accusations as compliment—you know, you're so hot she'd say anything to make people think you'd been together—or maybe she thinks the accusation makes you sound more manly. At the same time, they'd be told the claim must be true because they're too old or ugly to have been with a woman any other way.

We'd read posts about how false accusations are sometimes necessary; this link needs an extra trigger warning.

Kobe Bryant, saying "I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter" would be a nationwide rallying call for how all men who deny committing rape are lying dogs.

We would read news stories about falsely accused men being punished for engaging in malicious gossip. We would read about judges who even if an accusation had been proved false, would say they wish they could jail the man anyway (oh, and they might ban him from using the words "false," "lie," and "sex" in his testimony).

False accusations would be the stuff of jokes, even onstage. Men would even be expected to take direct or veiled threats as jokes. False accusations would also routinely be evoked in adverstising and used as metaphors for wit or good presentation. And you would deemed humourless if you objected to any of this.

Even when utterly blatant, false accusations would frequently be ignored or disappeared.

Saying that a false accusation is never deserved would elicit controversy, while a woman who didn't make a false accusation against a man who annoyed her would be deemed worthy of praise for her accomplishment and self-control.

I think most MRAs would much rather see their causes ignored than taken as seriously as that.

Of course on this side of the mirror, I don't see anything like that leveled at men accused of rape—including those who are genuinely accused, tried, and convicted. But rape victims face all of it. So no, I don't find the problems all that comparable. It beggars my imagination that someone can seriously believe there are as many women who voluntarily put themselves through it for no reason as there are men who decide they can get away with rape.

But that's the trouble with mirrors: They don't show us the real world, but a back to front version of it. Maybe MRAs should try the window instead.

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Florida Gay Adoption Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

Following up on this post, here is some great news:

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman Tuesday declared that Forida's 50-year-old ban on gay adoptions unconstitutional -- a ruling that state lawyers immediately said they would challenge.

The ruling sets the stage Frank Gill, a gay man from North Miami, to adopt two foster children he has raised since 2004.

In a 53-page ruling [pdf], Judge Lederman said, ''It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent.''

Two lawyers from the Florida Attorney General's Office said they would file an appeal Tuesday.

''We respect the court's decision,'' said Assistant Attorney General Valerie Martin. ''Based upon the wishes of our client, the Department of Children & Families, we will file an appeal.''

Gill, who is raising the half-brothers, ages 4 and 8, said he was ''elated'' by the ruling and ''I cried tears of joy for the first time in my life.''
And another brick crumbles from the wall of inequality.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Multi-Coloured Swap Shop

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Question of the Day

What do you do when faced with a task and are unsure how to begin?

One Big Pumpkin


I am now the proud owner of one ginormous 75lb pumpkin. While I am partial to the more dainty pumpkins for cooking, I was assured by the grower that even this large, it makes "good eatin'." I guess I will spend most of the day tomorrow cooking this GINORMOUS PUMPKIN.

Let me SCREAM one more time for good measure.

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I Write Letters

Dear English-Speaking World:

Please stop using the phrase "Joe's a man's man," effective immediately.

When you use that odious idiom, you are implicitly suggesting that any man who is not in Joe's peer group, by virtue of, say, his sexual orientation, gender expression, lack of the requisite physical aptitude for team sports, love of Luigi Illica librettos, and/or aversion to bullying, is also not a man.

And we can all see how silly that is, now, can't we?

If you mean to communicate that a particular man is very popular with other men who are just like him, then you can say: "Joe is very popular with other men who are just like him."

If you mean to communicate that a particular man is very popular with lots of different kinds of men, then you can say: "Joe is very popular with lots of different kinds of men."

If, upon consideration, you realize that Joe is popular not just with men at all, but with women, too, and not just in that "ladies' man" kind of way, then you can say: "Joe is very popular."

And if, upon consideration, you realize that what you meant to communicate all along is that Joe is an embodiment of the stereotype of a straight, white, beer-guzzling, sports-obsessed, dodo-brained, porn-loving homophobe who substitutes rape jokes for a real sense of humor and claims he can use the n-word because his college roommate was black, then you can say: "Joe is a douche."

Thank you and have a nice day.


P.S. Ixnay the use of "ladies' man," too. Thanks.

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Random YouTubery

"Is there a bar in this Scumbucket Town?"

Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora- "When the Rain Begins to Fall"

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Teaspoon by Teaspoon, We Take the Country Back

Meet Melody Barnes.

During a press conference earlier today, President-Elect Obama announced that she has been chosen as his Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, a role that entails coordinating the domestic policy-making and –makers for the White House. As Shaker Afroacademic aptly described the role in comments, Barnes will be "the Domestic policy czar leading the Cabinet secretaries of Health and Human Services, Justice, Labor, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Energy, Treasury, Agriculture, Transportation, Interior and Veterans Affairs on a mega-board."

A former Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, Obama introduced her today as "one of the most respected policy experts in America"—and if you check out this interview, it's easy to see why.

This appointment makes her one of the most influential African-American women in the nation.

The current Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council for President Bush is Karl Zinsmeister, not just your run-of-the-mill straight white conservative dude, but a patently unqualified and unethical straight white conservative dude who's contemptuous of the very position he's being paid to fill.

Change I can believe in: An eminently qualified and authentically progressive woman of color managing domestic policy.

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Happy Blogiversary... Smadin, celebrating one year of Fineness & Accuracy!

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It Only Took 12 Years

Lone liberal, sorta, Alan Colmes steps down as co-host. You may know him as Hannity's punching bag sidekick on the usually wrong Hannity and Colmes Variety Hour.

Alan Colmes will relinquish his role as co-host of Hannity & Colmes at the end of the year.

In announcing his decision, Colmes said, "I approached Bill Shine (FNC's Senior Vice President of Programming) earlier this year about wanting to move on after 12 years to develop new and challenging ways to contribute to the growth of the network. Although it's bittersweet to leave one of the longest marriages on cable news, I'm proud that both Sean (Hannity) and I remained unharmed after sitting side by side, night after night for so many years."
Colmes will continue his relationship with Fox as a liberal commentator on other Fox News shows and a possible solo weekend show.

I have endless questions.

Will Hannity go solo or find another "liberal" so Fox can continue to use its signature "fair and balanced" catchphrase? Who will keep Dick Morris in check? HA! And poor Ann. Who will act as a buffer between her and Hannity? Googly eyes and endless nods of agreement are not the same without a token liberal as balance.

My guess is that the new and improved Hannity Hour of Divisive Speculation will be just like his monotonous radio show.

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Actual Headline

Barack Obama, honeymoon killer?

For an article about whether President-Elect Barack Obama has, by virtue of "creeping signs of centrism," given progressives reason to panic, Salon chose to play on the old "honeymoon's over" chestnut by suggesting Obama may be a "honeymoon killer."

Problem is, a "honeymoon killer" doesn't mean someone who kills a honeymoon. It refers to a man who kills his wife on their honeymoon (or soon after their marriage), e.g. Gabe Watson, a term that can be traced back to a 1970 cult film called The Honeymoon Killers which is loosely based on a dozen real-life murders of young women who replied to "Lonely Hearts" ads.

Suffice it to say, I find the headline a curious choice.

Especially given that it's eminently possible to discuss this issue without implying the president-elect is a vicious misogynistic murderer.

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Daily Kitteh

Sophs takes a class at Osmosis University.

"Garsh, you got a lotta books!"

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Quote of The Day

"The truth is that you're living in a world that no longer exists. I, along with millions of Americans, clearly see the world the way it as -- and we embrace what it can be. You, on the other hand, seem incapable of looking for new ideas or moving beyond what worked in the past. Welcome to the 21st century, big bro."Candace Gingrich in a letter to her brother, Newt Gingrich

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Rachel (who gets the hat tip) describes this as "a REALLY BADASS Lost promo set to a douchy song." Pretty much, lol.

Drool. Pant. Heart palpitations. Swoon. Shiver. Piddle. Drool. Pant. Heart palpitations. Swoon. Shiver. Piddle. Drool. Pant. Heart palpitations. Swoon. Shiver. Piddle.

58 DAYS!!!

[Spoiler warnings if, for some unmaudely reason, you haven't seen the kickass finale of Season 4 yet. Previous Season 5 omgomgomg here.]

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Our Guys

[Trigger warning.]

by Shaker Ginmarliberal pinko commie hippie feminist female combat veteran who loves zombies and werewolves and hates trolls, twits, and MRAs.

If you click on the link and look at the first photograph on the left, you'll see a young man named Richard Corcoran. He was the son of a police detective. He was also one of the rapists in the 1989 gang rape of a developmentally-disabled girl in the basement of one of the boys' homes. Six boys left the basement, but none of them tried to stop the rape. Why became apparent as author Bernard Lefkowitz interviewed people around town: "It's such a tragedy," said one resident. "This will scar them forever." They meant the boys.

Glen Ridge families had been collecting money for the boys' defense and school teachers publicly urged students to remain 'open-minded' and 'to stand by our guys.' Four days before his trial was scheduled to start, the victim's family decided they couldn't stand any more and backed out. Richard Corcoran escaped trial and joined the Army a few years later, even after the Army was made aware of his past.

He served a tour in Afghanistan, came home, and beat up his wife. Michelle Corcoran asked for a divorce and began to see other men. Richard Corcoran had just taken an anger-management course one day when he came home, shot Michelle, shot another soldier who was there in the house, and then killed himself, with his seven-month old daughter in the house. The other two survived.

PTSD, some said. What about the rape? Was that caused by Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder, rather than post? That seems to be the line the military is taking, even though Richard Corcoran was the tenth in a ghastly string of soldiers murdering their wives since 2002 at Ft.Bragg. In one six week period, four women were killed by their husbands. This does not include the recent murders of two pregnant female soldiers and a third, murdered by men who were accused of harassing or raping them, events which occurred three years after this Salon piece appeared.

The military classifies domestic violence as happening only amongst married couples. This is known as sample or selection bias. Crimes that occur off base are also uncounted by the military, much like suicides that occur after the service members leaves the service aren't counted in the military's suicide figures. Sixty percent of service members live off post. According to those narrow standards, in 2004, there were 16,400 cases of domestic violence reported, with 9,450 substantiated. What does that mean? It means that someone in a position of authority, someone who perhaps didn't want to lose a soldier, decided that there was no merit to the case. Soldiers convicted of domestic violence, like cops, are supposed to be stripped of their weapons. With the military hurting for warm bodies, there's a substantial incentive to look the other way.

This is exactly what they did in the case of Sgt. Carlos Renteria two years ago. He choked his wife, body-slammed her, threw her onto the couch and began to smother her. It was his second arrest for domestic violence. Adriana Renteria was assured that the military would prosecute the case, and so was the local DA, who dropped his case.

Instead, Sgt. Renteria was sent off on a second tour, where he was promoted to staff sergeant and presumably placed in a position of leadership over male and female soldiers, to spread sexism to the males and contempt of women to the females. People wonder how a soldier like Stephen Green got away with planning a rape that turned into a quadruple murder and involved being out of uniform (which is in itself an offense) and going off post without permission (also an offense). I guarantee you that claims that other soldiers know nothing of this are pure bull, plain and simple. Soldiers gossip more than ladies at a church social. Other soldiers were also necessary in that someone had to open a gate for Green.

Ms. Renteria pestered the military to pursue the case, sending letters and emails and making countless phone calls. More than five years ago, after a number of women were killed by their military spouses, the Pentagon concluded in writing that the military did a better job of shielding soldiers from prosecution than it did in protecting victims. Post traumatic stress disorder tends to be blamed for these assaults and killings, despite the fact that many of the men were violent before deployment.

Contempt and skepticism for female victims are written into the very briefings that the military gives on, say, sexual assault, where the military refers to male and female victims equally, despite the fact that the military is 90% male and that its female service members tend to be young and low-ranking. Discussions of lying female victims are common. I haven't, personally, seen a briefing about domestic violence, but I've seen enough to dread it should it occur. In one case, I observed a briefing on sexual assault conducted by a sergeant who had a record of stalking and sexual harassment. A Chief Warrant Officer stood up and in response to a situation a lower-ranking female soldier described, said that anybody who didn't report sexual harassment was 'stupid.' This despite the fact that the biggest impediment to reporting any kind of sexual or domestic misconduct in the military is the military's own vengeful, skeptical attitude toward female victims, and the hatred of snitches built into the concept of honor.

Furthermore, in the case of intra-member cases, making a false accusation against a higher-ranking individual can be a court-martial offense. As seen, for example, in the recent Maria Lauterbach case, domestic violence is not limited to husbands and their civilian wives, but by the Army's standards, the accused murderer and rapist in the case cannot be charged with domestic violence. Neither can the 60% of soldiers who live off base, unmarried.

Ms. Renteria's case so disturbed the civilian prosecutor, Allen Wright, that he issued a warrant for SSGT. Renteria. The military has not cooperated and the warrant remains outstanding.

While some would blame SSGT. Renteria's crimes on PTSD, it is clear that his actions predated his deployment to Iraq. He was abusive early on in the marriage, order to anger management courses, and took one class before dropping off, boasting to his wife that he was untouchable. The military asked Mr. Wright to turn the case over to them—as it can when it wishes to handle a case—and Wright did so, assured that the military would prosecute the case.

First Sgt. Robert Simmons, the highest-ranking non-commissioned officer in SSGT. Renteria's chain of command, was concerned enough about the case that he issued a no-contact order and moved to have Renteria prosecuted on the basis of erratic behavior he had observed himself. If he had succeeded, Renteria would have been stripped of his right to carry his weapon and would have been unable to deploy to Iraq.

Instead, First Sgt. Simmons was himself deployed to Iraq and Ms. Renteria never heard from him again. The priorities of the command at Fort Riley were very clear.

Fort Riley quickly closed ranks around Sergeant Renteria. That became clear to Ms. Renteria after a brief conversation in August 2007 with an assistant at the inspector general's office. "'Honey, we are not going to bring a soldier back who beat on his wife a couple of times or because you feel things weren't done correctly,'" Ms. Renteria said, recalling the conversation. "'He is over there fighting for his life.'"
The inspector general is the office which investigates crimes on base, or at least is supposed to.

Ms. Renteria called Mr. Wright, in Texas, in tears, and Mr. Wright eventually reached an Army captain who said that he was under the impression Wright had dropped the charges because of insufficient evidence. Renteria had by this time returned from Iraq on leave, and Wright re-issued the warrant, but Renteria was allowed to return to Iraq without being arrested.
"I'm angry," said Maj. Nathan Bond, public affairs officer at Fort Riley, after The New York Times brought the case to the Army's attention. "This is not my Army. This is not how we handle domestic violence cases."
Apparently, however, that might be a trifle inaccurate, according to later statements he made. "Accusations of domestic violence are taken very seriously," he said. "In this case, there were communication difficulties." It's the military answer to every case where a victim complained and was ignored or harassed for complaining—or snitching. The whistle blower in Abu Ghraib was ridden out of town on a rail and now has to live under an assumed name, for example.

Finally, however, Maj. Bond declined to prosecute, refusing to discuss why, citing 'privacy'. Not sending Renteria to war was never an option, however, due to the need for soldiers. The inevitable conclusion, therefore, is that the military does not take wife beating seriously, no matter how many times how many high-ranking people say, "We take this very seriously."

Ms. Renteria obtained a divorce in October, along with an order of protection. She and her former husband have two young sons. SSGT. Renteria has attended no classes, received no therapy, suffered no consequences, and has gone through a second tour of duty, which—as long as he is needed—might very well function as a 'stay-away-from-jail-for-free' card.
"I feel that nobody is in my corner," Ms. Renteria said. "Because he wears a uniform, he is protected by everybody."
[Cross-posted. H/T to Shaker Lauren.]

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