31 July 2008

Barack Obama did not "snub" troops in Germany

Check it out: Media Matters tracks the lie from John McCain that Barack Obama "snubbed" troops in Germany.

Read the entire post, if you have a few minutes. It gives a blow-by-blow account of the lies, misinformation, and half-information posted by conservative bloggers, interspersed with the complete abdication by mainstream media bobbleheads and bloggers to do basic fact-checking. Or, you know, to contact the Obama campaign and ask for more complete details about the planned visit.

Notice that McCain's smear began on 24 July, and the Washington Post didn't set the record straight until the 30th. That's some fine liberal media work there, Lou. As for McCain, he's happy to continue repeating the lie even though there is no evidence to support it:
Despite serious and repeated queries about the charge over several days, McCain and his allies continued yesterday to question Obama's patriotism by focusing attention on the canceled hospital visit.

30 July 2008

Telling 13-year-old girls to wax their faces is not OK

When Rush Limbaugh called 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton the "White House dog," it was not classy.

When John McCain called 18-year-old Chelsea Clinton "ugly" in 1998, it was not classy.

When April Winchell gives Lourdes Ciccone Leon, a 13-year-old adolescent, a hard time for having bushy eyebrows and some hair on her upper lip, it's not classy. I mean, pick on Lourdes's mother, Madonna, all you want. She's an entertainer, she's a celebrity, she continues to seek celebrity, and she works out so much that the veins on her arms bulge out freakishly. She'll turn 50 this year, so it's fair to needle her about dressing as if she's still 25.

But her daughter Lourdes is 13, and she's gotten double-whammy of southern European genetics. Until she gets older and decides to depilate a little bit -- and who knows, maybe she'll choose to go natural -- she's a kid who's got dark, thick, and very, very noticeable Mediterranean hair. Does Winchell think Lourdes doesn't already know that?

I have only half the Mediterranean genes that Lourdes does (one of my parents is northern European, the other, wop), and I started going crazy self-conscious over what I thought was the world's biggest unibrow . . . at age 13. Like most American girls, I've had body issues since adolescence that persist in one form or another to this day. No young teen girl needs yet another jackass promoting unhealthy, unrealistic, patriarchal standards of beauty.

Not to mention the dogpile in the blog post's comment section: dozens of basement-dwelling, undersexed men picking on a girl and telling her to get her face waxed.

Winchell defends her hateful post in the comment section by saying that it's Madonna's fault, because she "allow[s] her to be photographed in public over and over again" and she "insist[s] on putting her on display in the media." There's no mention of the paparazzi's hand in Lourdes's being photographed over and over again. Instead, April's conclusion is that Madonna is failing in her duties as a mother because she does not "deal with the facial hair." So Madonna would be a better mom if she made Lourdes wax, shave, or bleach her face before she left the house? A 13-year-old girl? Or maybe the answer is to never let Lourdes leave the house at all, since stepping out the door means displaying her to the public. That's it! Children of celebrities, according to Winchell, leaving their homes constitutes displaying themselves to the media.

Apparently, if celebrities insist on letting their children exit the house from time to time, they must be waxed, shaved, bleached, primped, and made up as if they were going to be on the cover of Redbook. (Or, in Lourdes's case, Highlights for Children.) But in any event, I fail to understand how not taking 13-year-old Lourdes to a salon for a waxing makes Madonna a bad parent.

Cognac will be my downfall

Cognac will be my downfall.

Or men who give me cognac will be my downfall.

Men who refill my glass, unasked, after I've already had a few ounces of cognac, following a couple of beers with friends and a light dinner, will be my downfall.

In conclusion, men bearing cognac will be my downfall.

28 July 2008

Monday art house: Coleridge (1772-1834)

Answer to a Child's Question

Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say, "I love and I love!"
In the winter they're silent -- the wind is so strong;
What it says I don't know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving -- all come back together.
But the Lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings; and forever sings he,
"I love my Love, and my Love loves me!"

27 July 2008

McCain is not a moderate on women -- spread the word

Suburban women swing voters still aren't getting the message. But when they do they say they're less likely to vote for John McCain because of his anti-choice policies and his congressional votes against women's and children's healthcare. McCain has said that Roe v. Wade is one of the wost decisions ever to come down from the Supreme Court. And if he's elected, he will appoint ultra-conservatives to the Court. Excerpts from a new article in In These Times follow.

First, in a February Planned Parenthood poll:
Forty-six percent of women supporting McCain said they'd like to see Roe v. Wade upheld -- though McCain says he supports overturning the decision. When they learned of his position on Roe, 36 percent of women who identified as both pro-choice and likely McCain voters said they would be less likely to vote for him.
So spread the message! Another excerpt:
[McCain voted] in favor of legislation to amend the definition of those eligible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to include the unborn -- while voting against legislation to expand SCHIP's coverage to low-income children and pregnant women at least six times.
Didn't George Carlin have a joke about that? All this fussing over the unborn, "but once you're born you're on your own!" As I recall he included a rude arm gesture with the joke, which is impossible to reproduce here.

To continue:
[McCain] has voted to require parental consent for teenagers who want access to contraceptives, and against an amendment to the Senate's 2006 budget that would have allocated $100 million for the prevention of teen pregnancy by providing education and contraceptives.
Of course, there's more, and this one's been covered on video, too (Planned Parenthood):
[McCain] also voted against a measure that would require insurance companies to cover prescription contraception, despite the fact that many currently fund male reproductive pharmaceuticals, such as Viagra.
Next, he's against minors getting abortions without their parents' consent . . .
In July 2006, McCain voted for legislation that would fine and/or imprison physicians who perform abortions on out-of-state minors if there are parental notification requirements in their home state.
. . . unless it's his own daughter:
In the 2000 primary, he was asked what he would do if his daughter Meghan, then 15, became pregnant. McCain said it would be a "family decision."

"The final decision would be made by Meghan with our advice and counsel," McCain said, referring to himself and his wife, Cindy.
You know, saying that his daughter would have the "final decision" as to whether or not she terminates a pregnancy sure sounds like a pro-choice position to me. In fact, it sounds like what I'd do if my own daughter got pregnant and she decided to tell me. I'd give her "advice and counsel," and she'd make up her own mind. This is not the Republican party line. But apparently McCain is OK with making other (low-income, minority) women and minors to jump through Casey hoops to get an abortion. His campaign has stated that he won't try to alter the Republican platform at the convention in September. So, even though he's clearly not as conservative as the rest of the party when it comes to abortion, or at least Casey-type rules for minors in his own household, he won't use his leadership position to bring the party extremists around to a more populist view. What a maverick!

Finally, even pro-choice Republicans won't endorse him:
[Republican Majority for Choice] isn't going to endorse McCain . . . [Co-Chair Jennifer Stockman] says she doesn't really understand where McCain's is coming from, since he's not outwardly religious, nor has he displayed a desire to pander to social conservatives on other issues.
When women swing voters hear about this nonsense, they swing right back over to the candidate who really reflects their values. Don't let John McCain's propaganda machine fool you into thinking he's the only option now that Hillary Clinton is out of the race. Spread the word: he's anti-choice, anti-contraception, anti-woman, anti-girl.

Oh, and you already heard that the so-called PUMA group was founded by a McCain donor, right? It's a fake organization. There's almost literally no such thing as a Hillary Clinton supporter who won't vote for Barack Obama.

26 July 2008

25 July 2008

MSNBC blogger wants to see Obama's missing college paper, but doesn't care about McCain's incomplete military records

Domenico Montenaro, one of three white, male hacks over at MSNBC's political blog, is fussing that no one can produce Barack Obama's senior thesis from his undergrad days at Columbia. Not only that, but in his headline he puts the word thesis in single quotation marks, implying that such a thesis never existed. Obama can't find it. The university can't find it. None of his professors can find it, even the prof he wrote it for. Therefore, splutters Montenaro, Obama must be making it up!

Couple of questions come to mind.

First, who keeps a copy of their undergrad senior thesis, especially if you go on to graduate work? How many of my readers even had to write one? If you did, how long did you keep it? Have you kept anything you wrote 25 years ago (Obama finished his undergrad work in 1983)? If you graduated more recently than 25 years ago, have you kept anything at all from your undergrad work?

I got my bachelor's degree in the early 1990s. I've compulsively kept my calendars and datebooks since my mid-college days -- it's like diaries from the pre-blogging era -- but I'd be hard-pressed to find anything else I've stored in my files, cabinets, and bookshelves from back then. I got rid of my textbooks long ago; they were usually obsolete within months of finishing each class, anyway.

Unlike Obama's, my degree program did not require that I write a senior thesis, though I know some people in my program completed special research projects. I spent my last semester doing an on-the-job practicum where I had to produce only daily task lists, not a cumulative record of my work. And in any event, the lists went into "file 13" years ago. I guess I'd feel differently about a master's thesis, and I couldn't imagine throwing out a Ph.D. dissertation. On the other hand, to get my liberal arts degree, I had to write a heck of a lot of papers: I'd hazard it was 1,500 pages' worth by the time I was done. But I didn't keep a single one, once I'd landed my first post-university job.

Second, now, I didn't go to an Ivy League school like Columbia, so I don't know how usual it is for top-tier schools to require a senior thesis for graduation. Or maybe it wasn't required by the university, but it was required by Obama's particular program of study. Or maybe not. Montenaro doesn't ask that question -- that is, whether a thesis was a requirement for Obama's degree -- and you know why? Because he probably already knows whether Columbia University requires a thesis from its undergrads. Montenaro is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, himself. And if he doesn't already know the answer, the answer was only one phone call away.

Montenaro's undergrad degree is from the University of Delaware, my own alma mater. Thanks, jackass, for diluting my academic credentials.

What's glaringly absent from Montenaro's blog post is what question should naturally follow: where are John McCain's complete military records? Why did the AP have to file a FOIA request to get any of them? Did McCain truly run for Congress out of the goodness of his heart, or was it actually because he'd plateaued in the Navy? Was he or was he not offered an admiralship? Why not clear up that question by simply releasing his military records?

McCain is founding his campaign on his military skill and experience. Obama is not founding his campaign on his undergraduate work. Montenaro should be focusing on the missing documentation of McCain's career military record, not a single, forgotten research paper that Obama wrote in 1982-83.

Welcome contributor clarin8!

clarin8 is an old friend of mine. She's a musician here in Philadelphia and expects to post mostly about the local arts scene. I'll let her talk about herself more on her own.

Everybody please welcome clarin8!

Friday jukebox: Leonard Cohen

I'm disappointed that my introduction to Leonard Cohen came from the soundtrack to Natural Born Killers.

24 July 2008

Obama in Berlin echoes Lincoln in Gettysburg

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
[T]hose pilots [of the Berlin Airlift] won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust – not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?
Right-wing screech-o-sphere to start crying plagiarism in three, two, . . .

23 July 2008

McCain: credit the President with lower oil prices; White House: aw, shucks

Yesterday, John McCain said that the recent $10 per barrel drop in oil prices is due to President Bush's opening up the coasts to offshore drilling. But the White House is retreating from that hat tip, saying it doesn't "fully deserve the credit."

What a weird dance. I thought it was McCain who was supposed to be wary of associating himself with Bush, not the other way around. Is the Republican Executive hanging the GOP candidate out to dry? If so, why? If not, why bother distancing himself from McCain's comment? The President doesn't have anything to lose by claiming all the credit he wants to for the latest price decrease. It's not like he's saying "mission accomplished."

CBS covers up McCain gaffe, replaces it with anti-Obama comment

Katie Couric was interviewing John McCain about Iraq. As you've probably heard all over the place, he got confused after one particular question and said that the troop surge was directly responsible for the Anbar Awakening (in real life, the Awakening happened a good three months before the surge). Then, a few questions later, McCain tried to salvage the interview by criticizing something about Barack Obama.

CBS altered the interview in the editing room and, on Tuesday night, broadcast the Barack criticism as if it were the answer to the other question. Keith Olbermann shows both tapes via jedreport.com:

The Crooks and Liars blog points out that this kind of behavior would violate CBS's standards and practice rules, and suggests that you contact the network's ombudsman. They also note that CBS had a choice here. The network could choose, as it did, to edit out McCain's confusion. Or it could have had a huge scoop, choosing to be the first news outlet to show its viewers that McCain, who says he "know[s] how to win wars," isn't clear on the immediate past history of one that we're fighting right now, and resorts to ad hominem attacks on his opponent when he can't answer a question plainly.

Anyone care to speculate why CBS would broadcast such misleading edits?

21 July 2008

Alabama woman can't get abortion, is charged with manslaughter

Like everybody else who's heard about or read this story, I'm horrified:
[M]edical personnel at Keller Hospital determined that the umbilical chord [sic] had previously been severed while still inside [Jennifer Darlene] Johnson’s uterus.

“Investigators believe the evidence demonstrates that the death of the infant is directly related to the intentional severing of the umbilical chord [sic],” [police investigator] Tyler said.
So the state has charged Ms. Johnson with manslaughter. Oh, Alabama. This is the state whose anti-evolution science textbook disclaimer has served as a model for other states' boards of education around the country since 1996. (Maybe that's why the news article author writes umbilical chord rather than cord.)

Like the Dakotas and Mississippi and maybe a few other states I can't think of offhand, there is only one abortion provider to serve all the women in Alabama. Ms. Johnson here lives in Florence, a little burg over 200 miles from the state's sole abortion clinic, in Montgomery.

Passing laws that severely restrict abortion -- from parental consent requirements to waiting periods to highly detailed, exacting building code standards that apply only to abortion clinics -- has been a hugely successful strategy that the anti-choice movement has embraced since 1973. The constitutional fight against these absurd restrictions was lost with Casey (1992), which upheld Pennsylvania's waiting period, parental notification, and "informed consent" rules. Now, after Carhart (2007), all you have to do is convince 5 male, mostly white, Catholic judges that the new restriction you've passed will help keep women from regretting their abortions afterward, and your anti-choice law is good to go.

Alabama has more legal obstacles to obtaining an abortion than most other states. Additionally, it has never repealed its pre-Roe ban on abortion, keeping it in place as a "trigger law" for when the Supreme Court overturns Roe altogether and gives all power to the states to decide women's health matters.

What do you get when you add together a low income, no federal Medicaid funding for abortions, no state public funding for abortions, the state's only abortion provider over 200 miles away, and a waiting period that would require an overnight hotel stay? You get your photo published in Ms. magazine in 1973. Or, since this is 2008, after hospital authorities conclude that you attempted a self-administered late-term abortion, you get arrested and charged with manslaughter.

So I'm not horrified that Ms. Johnson terminated her pregnancy. I'm horrified that she couldn't have it done safely, in a medical facility. I'm horrified that people still think that Roe is intact and continues to preserve our right to an abortion. And I'm horrified that the vast majority of women in this country, like Ms. Johnson, can't exercise that right.

Turnabout is fair play

Guess which magazine's political writer isn't welcome on Barack Obama's plane during his tour of Europe and the Middle East this week (L.A. Times)?

Monday art house: McLaren to Chiba Stearns

Sit back and admire this animation by Norman McLaren before someone at the NFB finds out and has it yanked from YouTube:

It came to my mind this morning when I ran across a neat hand-drawn animation by some guy named Jeff Chiba Stearns, done all on Post-Its. It's called "Yellow Sticky Notes" and addresses what's come between him and his artistic goals over the past seven years. Dig the 3-second "Merle" reference around 4:15 (but don't skip the rest of the film!):

It's so lovely to see McLaren's work continuing to influence animators 50 years (!) on. Most of the time I feel like a voice in the wilderness, boogie-doodling all by myself.

Now excuse me whilst I spend the rest of the day on YouTube watching stuff by McLaren, Len Lye, and Richard Reeves.

19 July 2008

It's not sex discrimination to require a receptionist to make the boss's coffee

A couple of weeks ago, the Feminist Law Professors blog posted a criticism about a recent Title VII (sex discrimination) case. I disagreed with the article's conclusion and composed a brief comment, but a moderator decided not to post it. So I'll post an expanded version now, and, if anybody there notices, they're welcome to come on over and wipe the floor with me. I don't moderate comments here.

The case: Plaintiff was a newly hired receptionist whose boss required her to bring him coffee. She refused. She was fired, and she sued for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. The court sided with the boss, ruling that plaintiff had not alleged enough objectionable conduct to go to trial, and the case was dismissed (PDF).

I think the ruling was just fine, because the plaintiff was a bad fit for the job, and she had an unrealistic view of how much say she had in changing the job's requirements. Then, when she didn't get her way, she cried foul, using a tortured theory of sex discrimination.

Kathryn Stanchi, a Temple Law professor, had a much different view. Stanchi took the court to task for what she believes was a shallow analysis of the issue, an analysis that perpetuates "troubling and ingrained sexual stereotypes." One of Stanchi's problems with the decision is how the plaintiff was fired:
The plaintiff was fired 9 minutes after sending an email telling her boss that while she would get coffee for guests of the company, she did not expect that her job as receptionist and data entry clerk involved serving beverages to her male colleagues every day. Nine minutes! Talk about a short fuse.
Actually, the plaintiff was fired after several warnings, after a "make coffee" task was added to her daily work calendar, and after her supervisors had made it clear that making coffee for the boss (not her "colleagues") was an expected part of her job. Furthermore, her bosses allege, she was simply a lousy receptionist. She didn't transfer phone calls properly, she put mailing labels on packages incorrectly, and, though she was a customer service representative, she couldn't pronounce people's names.

And that e-mail message where she said she would be happy to fetch coffee for customers? Her bosses counter that she generally failed to do so.

Stanchi's next problem with the decision is that the judge didn't analyze the case deeply enough:
The judge never asks why it is acceptable for a receptionist/data entry clerk to be asked to get coffee. Women do that job (mostly), and women get coffee. End of (tautological) story.
Stanchi's issue with the decision, if I have it right, goes as follows: The judge decided the MSJ on the ground that no previous receptionist at this office had objected to making coffee. But because all the previous receptionists were women, and receptionist jobs in general are almost always filled by women, the judge should not have rested his decision there, because it would logically follow that no woman could ever experience sex discrimination if she's working in a job that is almost always exclusively filled by women.

I think Stanchi is missing the point.

I mean, I can't help asking myself after reading her commentary: Has Stanchi ever held a secretarial job? When you're a receptionist, making coffee for the office is par for the course. At least, that's what I've seen in my 15-plus years of experience in the secretarial trenches, on both coasts and in multiple industries. It doesn't matter whether you're female or male, though male receptionists are more likely to be called "interns" or "clerks." It doesn't matter whether part of your job is data entry because the office is small and everybody has to multi-task a little. The receptionist is at the bottom of the office totem pole, and so, of all the support staff in the office, the receptionist usually wins the task of making the boss's coffee.

Receptionist jobs are entry-level jobs. It's the type of job you get because you're young, or you haven't any other office experience, or you need something temporary. It's what you aim for to avoid restaurant work or work outdoors. It's the base office job, not one you get because you love answering phones, putting mailing labels on packages, and making coffee for the boss (though some would disagree). If you do the job well, you can move up the office ladder to secretary or administrative assistant, and then to executive assistant. Then you can branch out, if you like, and land a paralegal or an office manager job. Or, if you're smart, you're attending school at the same time so you can get off the administrative-support track altogether.

Plaintiff here had filed claims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation. In reality, she was fired for being a poor receptionist, and she played the Title VII card instead of owning her own problems and admitting that she didn't like being a receptionist.

A sales manager (a person nowhere in her chain of supervisors) sent her e-mail asking her out to lunch, and she got offended. That's not lawsuit-worthy. That's worth only a "no, thanks" reply with copies saved to a folder and a mental note to watch for further e-mail, in case the situation does indeed rise to the level of sexual harassment. As it stands, there is no reason to assume that the sales manager meant anything more than a friendly lunch. But even if he did intend the e-mail as asking her out for a date, it's still not sexual harassment. It was a single piece of e-mail.

Plaintiff also complained that she went to her boss's office for a meeting, and, when she got there, the sales manager and her boss were whispering and laughing, and they wouldn't tell her what they were talking about. How this incident is lawsuit-worthy is beyond my comprehension (but then, I'm a mere law student). She came upon a private conversation between two people, and they wouldn't share it with her. This was not sexual harassment. This was none of her business.

Plaintiff here wasn't being sexually harassed or discriminated against, and her firing wasn't retaliation. She just wasn't a good fit for the job. She thinks that a receptionist shouldn't have to bring coffee to the boss. She's perfectly within her rights to think so. Likewise, her boss was perfectly within his rights to think that a receptionist should have to bring coffee to the boss. She's a bad fit for the receptionist job at this workplace, and that's her problem.

An example in a different context: Say I'm a tour guide at a historical site where the guides switch posts throughout the day in 1-hour intervals. One of the posts, in particular, receives almost no visitors to guide, so I like to take a newspaper or novel with me when I'm posted there. My boss tells me that it's a sackable offense to read at any of the posts. I think this rule is unreasonable, especially on days when the site gets no visitors at all. The boss thinks it's a perfectly reasonable rule. We're both within our rights to think the way we do. But this disconnect makes me a bad fit for the tour guide job at that historical site, and that's my problem.

In short, when it comes to deciding what tasks are required for a job, especially a job that's so low on a scale of 9 to 5, it's not the employee who does the deciding.

It's not feminist to cry sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation when you lose your job. What's feminist is to do your job well and move up the ladder to the boss's job. Being an incompetent receptionist -- a job that basically requires only opposable thumbs and a pleasant demeanor for office guests -- and then suing your ex-boss for firing you, when you deserved it, makes all feminists look bad.

In a Legal Intelligencer article you can't see unless you have a password, plaintiff's attorneys say they "intend to appeal." I, for one, am not saying, "Thanks, guys."

18 July 2008

Friday jukebox: Level 42

This one's been playing over and over in my head all week.

Flesh and blood defense falls into the wrong hands

Tax protestors and other anti-government, black-helicopter, global conspiracy theorists have argued for years that the federal government doesn't apply to them. The seeds of their theory were planted during Reconstruction as a backlash against the Fourteenth Amendment. Fast forward to the U.S. going off the gold standard in 1933, federal marshals going to Little Rock in 1957, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After inflation and the oil crisis in the 1970s resulted in family farm foreclosures in the 1980s, the movement grew in numbers and influence. Their ultimate "victory," answering Waco and Ruby Ridge, was their terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

The contours of the philosophy have changed somewhat in the past 120 years, but its underlying theory was and still is a fundamental belief of biblically based white supremacy. The least unclear version of the story goes as follows: The serpent seduced Eve after feeding her the apple. Then she seduced Adam. The result was Cain and Abel, who were actually twins. One type of people descends from Abel (the northern European type), and the other from Cain (the soulless beast of the field type). How this retelling squares with a literal interpretation of the KJV is not clear to me, but then, I'm not a Christian, and even when I was, I was a papist.

But in any event, like the NRA, the origins of the flesh and blood defense were in the Ku Klux Klan, and there it remains. Most famously, the defense depends on a claim that the Fourteenth Amendment was never actually added to the Constitution correctly because of procedural deficiencies. What the deficiencies are varies from theory to theory; the one I hear the most is that Congress did not properly adjourn in the session immediately preceding the final vote on the Amendment. There's also a circular argument that it is unconstitutional because it violates the Tenth Amendment.

Here's one particularly interesting vision of the coming secular end times:
[ . . . ] Posse members would explain the need for local militias to stockpile weapons in order to defend white Christians from blacks in the coming race war sparked by the inevitable economic collapse caused by the income tax and a cabal of international Jewish bankers bent on global dominance through one world government, for Satan.
It's just about all there, I think. It leaves out Barack Obama only because the Washington Monthly article it's from discusses a court hearing from January, when Clinton was still a viable candidate.

Tax protestors and other conspiracy theorists end up in federal court pretty often because they do a lot of illegal things, like not paying their taxes, buying real estate with fictitious checks, and blowing up day care centers. So they've developed a theory for their defense, largely based on the bizarre claim that there is a difference between you, the living person, and the fictitious entity that the government has created for you in a mysterious database of taxpayers and citizens, which will be turned over to the U.N. as soon as Barack Obama is elected, or the race war starts, whichever comes first. It's the "flesh and blood" defense: you are a sovereign person. Therefore, court documents that refer to you as "defendant" or that print your name in capital letters do not give the court jurisdiction over you. Rather, the documents give the court jurisdiction only over the fictitious entity that the government created in its database. Which may be in New York City or Washington D.C. or Yucca Mountain, depending on who you ask.

There are supplemental theories that include nonsense about the gold fringe on the flag behind the judge, but they are beyond the scope of this post.

So about that court hearing in the Washington Monthly article. It's a consolidated federal case against some African-American gang members and drug dealers in Baltimore. They're being prosecuted for various RICO offenses, drug offenses, and murder. The defendants were cooperating with their court-appointed counsel, all very competent attorneys (including one law professor), until recently. But out of the blue, or possibly from listening to tax protestors in prison, they've adopted the "flesh and blood" defense as their legal strategy.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss their case based on lack of jurisdiction over their sovereign person. They cited to the Uniform Commercial Code, too, to further support their case. When Federal District Court trial judge Andre M. Davis denied the motion, he tried to explain that their arguments necessarily rest on "an ideology derived from a famously discredited notion: the illegitimacy of the Fourteenth Amendment." United States v. Mitchell, 405 F.Supp.2d 602, 606 (D. Md., Dec. 19, 2005).

In other words, they're arguing that the Amendment that granted them citizenship as African-Americans is no good. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. Is it a case of the chickens coming home to roost -- black people using a white supremacist theory to escape the death penalty, presumably to the white supremacists' chagrin? Or is it just incredibly sad that these guys lack the education and the critical thinking skills to know what they're doing?

As the defendants were being removed from the courtroom after the January hearing, the judge heard one of them laughing and told the court reporter to put the laugh on the record. Their flesh and blood defense strategy wore down the prosecution enough that the government is no longer pursuing the death penalty, anyway.

17 July 2008

Can you name a mothering memoir by a non-white woman?

Bitch magazine asks the question with the apt tagline, "Ain't I a Mommy?"

Mothering memoirs have been a hot commodity in the past several years, most noticeably since Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions appeared in 1993. Article author Deesha Philyaw spoke to a published African-American author and new mother who approached her agent with a similar idea, and was told "Please don't," because there was a glut of mommy memoirs on the market.

But how many women of color have participated in this purported glut? I've been reading the genre since 1999 and have kept an eye on the market pretty closely since then, and frankly I can't name one mommy memoir by a woman of color. I can't name one mommy memoir that's written by an unmarried or unpartnered mother, either, other than Lammott's. Even the funny or ironical ones, the ones discussing motherhood as a largely unpleasant and unexpectedly difficult endeavor, are written by mothers who have help around the house: a spouse or partner (usually one with a lucrative job) or a nanny. Or both.

And beyond that, how many parenting authors, parenting journalists (in magazines and with paid online gigs, as opposed to unpaid bloggers), and television and radio parenting experts are women of color?

There are voices missing in the discourse here: those of women of color, lower-income women, single women, immigrant women. New mommy memoirs are appearing all the time, but they're all by the same white woman learning how to balance the challenges of motherhood with marriage, her relationship with her own mother, and parallel parking the new minivan she had to buy. The only thing that changes is the setting: one is in New York, while another is in Los Angeles.

16 July 2008

Gentrification is good

Brendan points out that not everyone who lives in a gentrifying neighborhood hates gentrification [EDIT: Brendan comes to discuss gentrification, not to praise it; the gentrification non-hater is myself]:

As I walked past the doors of the [Kingsessing Recreation] Center toward my house, I saw some of our new neighbors working on a project on the Center grounds. It’s amazing: the guy who’s lived in the area for years thinks nothing of treating the block like his personal dumpster. The new folks were buys planting another vegetable and flower garden.

Some people might call this “gentrification”, since it’s largely white people moving into the neighborhood. I’m not so sure: these young people aren’t millionaires or yuppies: in fact, I suspect many are renters. That said, they sure have a different way of looking at the block. The old guard sees a litter box; the new influx sees a canvas.

When you live in a neighborhood where the papers no longer bother to report shootings at the community rec center, or if you live in a North Philadelphia neighborhood where the unemployment rate is 37% and it costs ten times more to build a house than you can possibly sell it for, you have a different opinion on so-called gentrification. It's not helpful to low-income people, to the surrounding city blocks, or to the city in general to resist neighborhood improvement out of fear that some people won't be able to afford living there any more.

15 July 2008

My country tortures children

This kid is 16 years old:

Omar Khadr has been at Gitmo since he was 15. About a year after he was captured in Afghanistan, he spoke to Canadian officials. Someone sneaked a camera into an air duct and videoed ten minutes of the conversation, in which he begs the officials to help him. He shows them injuries. He pulls his hair and rocks back and forth. He's crying hard. He says, bizarrely, that he's "lost" his eyes and feet.

He's not a child any more. He's 21 now, and not to talk down to my readers by pointing out the obvious, but he's spent the last of his childhood in a maximum-security prison -- no, a supermax prison -- no, alone in a cage on an island, going blind in his injured eye, with almost no human contact. He would try to talk to the guards (born in Toronto, he's a native speaker of English), but they would not respond to him, except when they were randomly dragging him from his cage to interrogate him.

This kind of treatment resulted in hundreds of incidents of self-harm and hunger strikes between 2002 and 2006, and led three adult Gitmo prisoners to suicide. But the official in the video accuses Khadr of putting on a show, squeezing out crocodile tears so that the Canadian embassy will swoop in and save him.

Not that the Canadian embassy would, even if their intelligence service wanted to. Ottawa is deferring to the U.S. military and won't intervene.

Watch that video again. (I can't.) Imagine it's your own child. If you don't have kids or can't imagine being a parent to a 16-year-old, put yourself back into your high school shoes. This exercise works especially well if you were brainwashed by your religious extremist dad and then recruited into some military organization in your early teens, like JROTC. But in any event, you're 16. You are 16. Whether you spent your pre-Gitmo time thinking about the junior prom or thinking about joining al-Qaeda, you are 16. You've been recovering from serious, life-threatening injuries alone, in a cage, on an island. The guards, who not police but are marines who routinely thrash the prisoners for no reason, have been depriving you of sleep for weeks on end (and not just when you can't sleep for the sounds of other prisoners screaming from their own beatings). Then, after a year of this treatment, you finally talk to someone you think can help, and he says, "You want to go back to Canada? Well, there's not anything I can do about that."

His "Guantanamo military commission" -- it's like a trial, only not -- will be held in October.

14 July 2008

About the Glomarization Blog

A lawyer in Philadelphia.
Glomarization is the pseudonym of an attorney living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Her interests include law, politics, cinema, good beer, and radical feminism, not necessarily in that order.

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