Take It As Red

"Blogging is, by its very nature, erratic and irregular, feverish effort punctuated by random silence, a conundrum wrapped in a contradiction wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an unclosed em tag. " - The Poor Man

Tuesday, January 4


Haiku Of The Year 2004

Thanks go, yet again, to Rude Pundit for this masterpiece of brevity:

All rotting corpses
Smell the same, in Fallujah,
Darfur, or Aceh.



This Should Be Interesting...

US Election rules demand that the electoral college votes be counted in front of Congress. Democratic Representative John Conyers, ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, plans to object to the counting of Ohio electoral votes and has sent the following to every Senator:

"As you know," writes Rep. Conyers in his letter, "on January 6, 2005, at 1:00 P.M, the electoral votes for the election of the president are to be opened and counted in a joint session of Congress. I and a number of House Members are planning to object to the counting of the Ohio votes, due to numerous unexplained irregularities in the Ohio presidential vote, many of which appear to violate both federal and state law."
The letter goes on to ask the Senators who receive this letter to join Conyers in objecting to the Ohio Electors.
"I am hoping that you will consider joining us in this important effort," writes Conyers, "to debate and highlight the problems in Ohio which disenfranchised innumerable voters. I will shortly forward you a draft report itemizing and analyzing the many irregularities we have come across as part of our hearings and investigation into the Ohio presidential election."
I look forward to it: if only we could get C-SPAN in NL.



Support The Refuseniks.

The Guardian reports that Israeli soldiers are starting to mutiny:

The Israeli army says a soldier has been arrested for calling on his comrades to refuse to evacuate a West Bank settlement outpost. It is the first case of its kind.
It happened the day after settler leaders said hundreds of soldiers might refuse to carry out orders to evacuate Gaza Strip settlers if the government went ahead with its plan to withdraw this year. The prime minister, Ariel Sharon, said yesterday that refusal to obey orders would be punished.

"This would be a serious mistake if a movement arises that supports refusal to carry out an order. The decision regarding the disengagement plan was made democratically by the government and approved by a large knesset majority. I see no justification for refusal, neither by soldiers, nor by political leaders, nor by rabbis. There might be attempts at refusal but... the law will be upheld."

Unfortunately they're not mutinying because of the treatment of Palestinians, oh no. The reason for the refusal is that they don't want to evacuate settlers, despite the fact they are occupying internationally agreed Palestinian territory, an issue that was decided under the Oslo agreement. However there are Israelis who refuse:

add this to your site

Declaration of Israeli Reservists

A Refusal to Serve in the West Bank and Gaza

We, reserve combat officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, who were raised upon the principles of Zionism, sacrifice and giving to the people of Israel and to the State of Israel, who have always served in the front lines, and who were the first to carry out any mission, light or heavy, in order to protect the State of Israel and strengthen it.

We, combat officers and soldiers who have served the State of Israel for long weeks every year, in spite of the dear cost to our personal lives, have been on reserve duty all over the Occupied Territories, and were issued commands and directives that had nothing to do with the security of our country, and that had the sole purpose of perpetuating our control over the Palestinian people. We, whose eyes have seen the bloody toll this Occupation exacts from both sides.

We, who sensed how the commands issued to us in the Territories, destroy all the values we had absorbed while growing up in this country.

We, who understand now that the price of Occupation is the loss of IDF’s human character and the corruption of the entire Israeli society.

We, who know that the Territories are not Israel, and that all settlements are bound to be evacuated in the end.

We hereby declare that we shall not continue to fight this War of the Settlements.

We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.

We hereby declare that we shall continue serving in the Israel Defense Forces in any mission that serves Israel’s defense.

The missions of occupation and oppression do not serve this purpose-- and we shall take no part in them.

Whether you agree with Zionism or not, you cannot but admire the refuseniks for their humanity and refusal to become mere tools of an oppressive state. The refuseniks remain true to the original socialist and humanistic ideals of the nascent Israel. They deserve our support; if only we could see the US occupation forces in Iraq remain true to the ideals of the US constitution, and just refuse to serve. If only.



Indeed, and heh.

It didn't take them long did it? The fundies are already using the tsunami as a rationale for their insane theories about god and intelligent design, and Panda's Thumb elegantly rips them a new one (if such a thing can be done elegantly).



Tuesday Ceph Blogging.

Via cephnews and the fascinating Pharyngula, these lovely pictures of the Indo-Malaysian mimic octopus, well, mimicking things.

Here it is mimicking a sea snake:

Look Mum, I'm a lionfish!

Did I say how much I adore cephalopods?



Governor Of Baghdad Assassinated

Well, this about wraps it up for the ''elections'' then. And so much for the safety of the Green Zone, such as it was.



They're At it Again.

FFS, where's the humane killer when you need it? If this is christianity, thank providence I'm an atheist. I wonder how many devout baptists were on paedophile sex tours in Thailand when the tsunami hit?

Note: Readers, such as they are, may have noticed the lack of capitalisation in this blog of any word to do with religion, eg christianity, baptist, jesus and the like. I've taken a decision not to dignify any of this superstitious claptrap with a proper noun. A superstition is a superstition , not a real thing with a real name.


Monday, January 3


Conspicuous By Their Absence -Where Are the Pharisees?

Well there's a surprise. As this Working For Change article neatly summarises, the so-called religious right in the US has done diddly squat to help the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. (and it is the Indian Ocean tsunami, not the Asian tsunami: not just SE Asia and the Indian subcontinent were hit, so was Africa):

"But, as of December 30, some of the president's major family-values constituents have yet to be heard from: It's business as usual at the web sites of the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and the Coral Ridge Ministries.

These powerful and well-funded political Christian fundamentalist organizations appear to be suffering from a compassion deficit. Organizations which are amazingly quick to organize to fight against same-sex marriage, a woman's right to choose, and embryonic stem cell research are missing in action when it comes to responding to the disaster in southern Asia. None of their web sites are actively soliciting aid for the victims of the earthquake/tsunami."

Pharisees, every one of them:

"A growing sense of superiority to the heathen and idolatrous nations among whom their lot was cast came to be one of their main characteristics. They were taught insistently to separate themselves from their neighbours.""

"All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say and do not. For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men's shoulders; but with a finger of their own they will not move them. And all their works they do for to be seen of men. For they make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge their fringes. And they love the first places at feasts, and the first chairs in the synagogues. And salutations in the market place, and to be called by men, Rabbi" (Matt., xxiii, 1-8).



Jesus H Christ On Toast

Digby at Hullabaloo takes down Dr.James Dobson, the guiding hand of the GOP (Doctor? Of what, exactly? Well, as it turns out, Dr. Dobson holds a Ph.D. in Child Development from the University of Southern California. However he has no theological training whatsoever, is not a medical doctor or pediatrician, and his religious views are personal.) Digby reprints this interview with the good doctor on the subject of corporal punishment of children:

"Q:There is some controversy over whether a parent should spank with his or her hand or with some other object, such as a belt or paddle. What do you recommend?

A:I recommend a neutral object of some type. To those who disagree on this point, I'd encourage them to do what seems right. It is not a critical issue to me. The reason I suggest a switch or paddle is because the hand should be seen as an object of love -- to hold, hug, pat, and caress. However, if you're used to suddenly disciplining with the hand, your child may not know when she's about to be swatted and can develop a pattern of flinching when you make an unexpected move. This is not a problem if you take the time to use a neutral object.

Q:On what part of the body would you administer a spanking?

A:It should be confined to the buttocks area, where permanent damage is very unlikely.

Q:It just seems barbaric to cause pain to a defenseless child. Tell me why you think it is healthy to spank him or her.

A:Corporal punishment, when used lovingly and properly, is beneficial to a child because it is in harmony with nature itself.Consider the purpose of minor pain in a child's life and how he learns from it. Suppose 2-year-old Peter pulls on a tablecloth and with it comes a vase of roses that cracks him between the eyes. From this pain, he learns that it is dangerous to pull on the tablecloth unless he knows what sits on it. When he touches a hot stove, he quickly learns that heat must be respected. The same lesson is learned when he pulls the doggy's tail and promptly gets a neat row of teeth marks across the back of his hand, or when he climbs out of his high chair when Mom isn't looking and discovers all about gravity.

During the childhood years, he typically accumulates minor bumps, bruises, scratches, and burns, each one teaching him about life's boundaries. Do these experiences make him a violent person? No! The pain associated with these events teaches him to avoid making the same mistakes again. God created this mechanism as a valuable vehicle for instruction.

When a parent administers a reasonable spanking in response to willful disobedience, a similar nonverbal message is being given to the child...I recall my good friends Art and Ginger Shingler, who had four beautiful children whom I loved. One of them went through a testy period where he was just "asking for it." The conflict came to a head in a restaurant, when the boy continued doing everything he could to be bratty. Finally, Art took him to the parking lot for an overdue spanking. A woman passerby observed the event and became irate. She chided the father for "abusing" his son and said she intended to call the police. With that, the child stopped crying and said to his father, "What's wrong with that woman, Dad?" He understood the discipline even if his rescuer did not.

Q:How long do you think a child should be allowed to cry after being spanked? Is there a limit?

A:Yes, I believe there should be a limit. As long as the tears represent a genuine release of emotion, they should be permitted to fall. But crying quickly changes from inner sobbing to an expression of protest aimed at punishing the enemy. Real crying usually lasts two minutes or less but may continue for five. After that point, the child is merely complaining, and the change can be recognized in the tone and intensity of his voice. I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears."

What humanity, what christian virtue, what a complete and utter hypocritical bastard. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." (The Beatitudes,Verse 7). I guess that's not in his Bible.

And this is the nutter that George Bush, Chimperor of All Amurika, meets regularly with in the White House and chooses to give him advice on child, education and reproductive rights issues. His hold on the GOP has now gone so far that he feeels strong enough to issue threats to those who oppose his ideas and those of his buddy George;
"Dobson, a child psychologist and the founder of the evangelical organization Focus on the Family, promises "a battle of enormous proportions from sea to shining sea" if President Bush fails to appoint "strict constructionist" jurists or if Democrats filibuster to block conservative nominees. Dobson recalled the conservative efforts that helped in the November defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D., S.D.), who led Democrats in using the filibuster to block 10 of Bush's judicial nominees. "Let his colleagues beware," Dobson warned, "especially those representing 'red' states. Many of them will be in the bull's-eye the next time they seek reelection."

No wonder the US is fucked.

UPDATE: via the commenters at americablog:

Time to challenge Dobson?

From the IRS website:

Political Campaign Activity
"Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax."

Colorado Springs Office

Internal Revenue Service2864 S. Circle Dr.Colorado Springs, CO 80906 Monday-Friday - 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.(719) 579-5227
Mike in Texas Email Homepage 01.01.05 - 12:04 pm #

I run a local non-profit501(c)3 and we avoid any political involvement - and living is San Francisco that's a task easier said than done. The IRS allows a a certain amount of grass roots 'voter education' involvement, but it can't involve more than 10% of your income, and MUST be declared on your tax return.

Upon written or oral request, a non-profit must submit copies of the exempt organization's exemption application and its three most recently filed annual information returns to anyone who asks for them.

An exemption application includes the Form 1023 (for organizations recognized exempt under § 501(c)(3)), Form 1024 (for organizations recognized exempt under most other paragraphs of § 501(c)), or the letter submitted under the paragraphs for which no form is prescribed, together with supporting documents and any letter or document issued by the IRS concerning the application.

So everyone should bombard the questionable non-profits with requests for these documents. It's legal and they can get into serious trouble if they don't cooperate. Plus they can only charge 'reasonable' rates for copying the information. Currently, that amount is $1.00 for the first page and .15 for each subsequent page. An organization may require payment before it provides copies, but must advise requesters of the total cost of the copies requested if adequate payment is not included with the request.
Josh Norton Email Homepage 01.01.05 - 12:20 pm #



Now That's What I Call A Judge.

Via Jeralyn at TalkLeft, this excellent interview in the NYT with Judge Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan. Judge Rakoff has bravely challenged the constitutionality of the death penalty. If only there were more like him.

Compare and contrast with Bush's judicial nominees; for instance Janice Rogers Brown:

"During her time on the bench, California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown has taken positions hostile to reproductive rights, affirmative action, claims of discrimination based on race, age, gender, and disability, and worker and consumer protections. Her record raises serious questions about her commitment to equal justice and her fitness for an appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second most powerful and prestigious court in the country. "

Or William Gerry Myers III:

After Bush left the White House, Myers worked as a lawyer and lobbyist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and executive director of the Public Lands Council, a non-profit group that represents the NCBA as well as the American Sheep Industry Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Association of National Grasslands, before joining the firm of Holland & Hart as of counsel in 1997.

Or William H. Pryor:

President Bush sidestepped the confirmation process and recess appointed William Pryor to the Eleventh Circuit on February 20, 2004. Pryor's record reveals him to be an ultra-conservative legal activist whose record disqualifies him from a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary. As Alabama Attorney General, Pryor has demonstrated a commitment to rolling back the clock on federal protections against discrimination based on race, gender, age, and disability. He has pushed his extremist agenda not only through litigation in which Alabama was a party, but also by electing to file amicus briefs in cases in which Alabama was not involved, and through numerous public speeches that make clear that the ideological positions he has taken in these cases are his own.

And these are only three of twenty very similar nominees that Bush has renominated to the courts. Most are strict constructionists: many are hostile to reproductive rights, are fundamentalist christians, or have been/are lobbyists or counsel for major corporations or trade associations. Gods, I'm glad I'm not in America.



Why Do Cephalopods Hate America?

I am politically and personally conflictedover this report: should I support a] the anticapitalists, or b] the octopus? Hmmm, how to choose?

"Armed with a high-pressure hose and a bucket of octopi, hundreds of protestors in this Mediterranean town pelted a McDonalds restaurant due to open this week with the slimy seafood.

Between 300 and 500 people gathered on the banks of the Sete canal, across from the fast-food outlet, playing music and yelling anti-junk-food slogans across the water, as police barred them from reaching the restaurant itself.

Aiming the hose across the water, they catapulted fresh octopi -- a local delicacy, known here as the "pouffre" -- towards the town's first McDonalds, which had been set to open on Saturday."
Tsk, tsk. Octopus aren't slimy, for a start.

If they wanted slime, they shoulda used hagfish. Also I have no warm feelings towards hagfish, unlike cephalopods, who are quietly taking over the world. And the galaxy, and the universe. Just ask Ken McLeod.



Shirley Chisholm Had Guts.

Another wonderful woman dead.

Yahoo News: "MIAMI - Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and an outspoken advocate for women and minorities during seven terms in the House, died near Daytona Beach, friends said Sunday. She was 80.
"She was our Moses that opened the Red Sea for us," Robert E. Williams, president of the NAACP in Flagler County, told The Associated Press late Sunday. He did not have the details of her death on Saturday.

Chisholm, who was raised in a predominantly black New York City neighborhood and was elected to the U.S. House in 1968, was a riveting speaker who often criticized Congress as being too clubby and unresponsive.

"My greatest political asset, which professional politicians fear, is my mouth, out of which come all kinds of things one shouldn't always discuss for reasons of political expediency," she told voters.

She went to Congress to represent New York the same year Richard Nixon was elected to the White House and served until two years into Ronald Reagan (news - web sites) tenure as president. She also was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus (news - web sites) in 1969.

"Anyone that came in contact with her, they had a feeling of a careness, and they felt that she was very much a part of each individual as she represented her district," William Howard, her longtime campaign treasurer, said Sunday.

Newly elected, she was assigned to the House Agriculture Committee, which she felt was irrelevant to her urban constituency. In an unheard of move, she demanded reassignment and got switched to the Veterans Affairs Committee.

Not long afterward she voted for Hale Boggs, who was white, over John Conyers, who was black, for majority leader. Boggs rewarded her with a place on the prized Education and Labor Committee and she was its third ranking member when she left.

She ran for the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1972. When rival candidate and ideological opposite George Wallace was shot, she visited him in the hospital — an act that appalled her followers.

"He said, `What are your people going to say?' I said: `I know what they're going to say. But I wouldn't want what happened to you to happen to anyone.' He cried and cried," she recalled.

And when she needed support to extend the minimum wage to domestic workers two years later, it was Wallace who got her the votes from Southern members of Congress.

Pragmatism and power were watchwords. "Women have learned to flex their political muscles. You got to flex that muscle to get what you want," she said during her presidential campaign.

When Bella Abzug challenged Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the 1976 Democratic Senate primary, Chisholm caused a stir by backing Moynihan. "Where was Abzug when I ran for president?" she asked, when questioned about her choice.

In her book, "Unbought and Unbossed," she recounted the campaign that brought her to Congress and wrote of her concerns about that body:

"Our representative democracy is not working because the Congress that is supposed to represent the voters does not respond to their needs. I believe the chief reason for this is that it is ruled by a small group of old men"

The Rev. Jesse Jackson (news - web sites) called Chisholm a "woman of great courage."

"She was an activist and she never stopped fighting," Jackson said from Ohio, where he is set to lead a rally on Monday in Columbus. "She refused to accept the ordinary, and she had high expectations for herself and all people around her."

Chisholm's leadership traits were recognized by her parents early on, she recalled. Born Shirley St. Hill in New York City on Nov. 30, 1924, she was the eldest of four daughters of a Guyanese father and a Barbadian mother.

Her father, an unskilled laborer in a burlap bag factory, and her mother, a domestic, scrimped to educate their children.

At age 3, Shirley was sent to live on her grandmother's farm in Barbados. She attended British grammar school and picked up the clipped Caribbean accent that marked her speech.

She moved back to New York when she was 11 and went on to graduate cum laude from Brooklyn College and earn a master's degree from Columbia University.

She started her career as director of a day care center, and later served as an educational consultant with the city's Bureau of Child Welfare. She became active in local Democratic politics and ran successfully for the state Assembly in 1964.

She was an Assemblywoman from 1964 to 1968 before besting James Farmer, the former national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, to gain the House seat.

"I am the people's politician," she said at the time. "If the day should ever come when the people can't save me, I'll know I'm finished."

When she left 14 years later, she complained that many of her constituents misunderstood her, that she was a "pragmatic politician" whose influence was waning in conservative times. And she said she wanted more time for her family life.

After leaving Congress, Chisholm was named to the Purington Chair at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., where she taught for four years. In later years she was a sought-after speaker on the lecture circuit.

"She was a tremendous leader and a voice in politics when she was in office, as well as when she left office," Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields told the AP.

"Whether you agree with her politics or not, she had a moral compass and was an advocate for the underdog," said Shola Lynch, director of "Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed," a documentary on her 1972 presidential campaign.

Chisholm was married twice. Her 1949 marriage to Conrad Chisholm ended in divorce in February, 1977. Later that year she married Arthur Hardwick, Jr. She had no children. Hardwick died in 1986.

"She was a mouthpiece for the underdog, the poor, underprivileged people, the people who did not have much of a chance," Conrad Chisholm, 88, told the AP early Monday in a telephone interview from West Palm Beach.

Once discussing what her legacy might be, Chisholm commented, "I'd like them to say that Shirley Chisholm had guts. That's how I'd like to be remembered."

What a woman. She did indeed have guts and I salute her memory.



Little Helpers for First Ladies

No, not Xanax this time: thanks to Michele Hanson in today's Grauniad for this - as a short aside in an article about the vicissitudes of divorce, she notes Saint Wilgerfort, the patron saint of abused wives. Apparently you may gain her aid (always supposing you believe that shit) by giving her a peck of oats. I did a little digging and Lo! there are lots of saints that supposed to be of aid to women in difficult marriages, and here they are:

Castora Gabrielli, Catherine of Genoa, Dorothy of Montau, Edward the Confessor,Elizabeth of Portugal, Fabiola, Gengulphus, Godelieve, Gummarus, Hedwig, Helena,Louis IX, Margaret the Barefooted, Marguerite d'Youville, Monica, Nicholas of Flue, Olaf II, Pharaildis, Philip, Howard, Radegunde, Rita of Cascia, Theodore of Sykeon,Thomas More, Wilgefortis, Zedislava Berka

Monica? Really?

Yup: she's supposed to aid abuse victims, alcoholics, alcoholism, difficult marriages, disappointing children, homemakers, housewives, married women, mothers, victims of adultery, victims of unfaithfulness, victims of verbal abuse, widows, wives. The word irony is too weak for this.

That dress doesn't look very blue though.



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