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Friday Bird Blogging

I know. It’s still not Friday. That’s just the way it is.

I’m feeling bellicose. Having a Fourth Branch of Government will do that to you. So here’s to fighting hummingbirds. They do it right. Take no prisoners.

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What women want …

… is for Melinda “Clueless” Henneberger to speak for herself.

She has a jaw-dropping opinion piece in the NY Times: Why Pro-Choice is a bad choice for Democrats. (Where do they find these female mouthpieces? Like those tented “women” in the Iraqi parliament who dutifully said whatever The Man told them to. She also wrote something subtitled, with not inconsiderable arrogance, “What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear.”)

Her point seems to be that because some women are virulently anti-abortion, the Democrats should keep quiet on the subject to get their votes.

The mind reels. This isn’t about what color hat to wear. This is about the fundamental right to live according to your own beliefs rather than someone else’s. This is about the bedrock of this country.

But Ms. Clueless doesn’t see a problem with trading that away for a few votes.

You know what, Henneberger? Forced pregnancy is a crime against humanity equal to forced abortion. Just because the only human beings who can suffer from it are female, doesn’t make it less of a crime.

Another point: nobody is suggesting that anti-abortion women have abortions. They can live their lives exactly as they wish according to their beliefs. What they cannot do, at least not in a free country, is tell anyone else how to live. It’s too bad if that upsets them. Human rights are not negotiable.

And it cuts no ice whatsoever to say that opinions differ on when human life begins. It doesn’t matter, except to the woman involved, when she believes human life begins. She has to handle her pregnancy according to her own lights. However — and this is the essential point — nobody can order somebody else to provide life support against her will.

Whether you think a fetus is a person or a developing mass of tissue, a pregnant woman is providing the life support. It is up to her whether she does that or not. If you think otherwise, then you must also believe healthy people should be strapped onto gurneys and forced to give up a kidney because a patient will die without it.

It is simply breathtaking how little women count. In no other situation, none, not one, has anyone ever dreamt of pretending it’s okay to use one human being as parts for another. Yet that is exactly how women are treated. We’re so far from thinking of women as human beings that the point needs to be explained . . . and when it’s explained it sounds odd.

The fact that women are adapted by nature to provide life support, and the fact that they are happy to do it often enough to overpopulate the planet, doesn’t change the ethics of forcing a woman to be pregnant.

So, Melinda Henneberger, get a clue. You don’t know what women want. Nobody does. They don’t come off an assembly line down at the female factory. Nor do men come off an assembly line. That’s exactly why it’s so important for everyone to live their own lives and not somebody else’s.

Technorati tags: human rights, abortion, choice, politics, current events, Democrats, Henneberger

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Okay. It’s Edwards for President.

It’s nice that he has a sense of leadership. (I mean, he’s willing to admit a mistake on letting the Chimp-in-Thief bamboozle everyone into war, he’s ahead on a potentially single payer national medical insurance plan, ahead on network neutrality, ahead on wage laws, ahead on just about everything. Umpteen proper examples by Steve Kirsch here and short version here.)

But this is much bigger than that.

There’s talk that his nine year-old daughter said she supported Hillary Clinton at a campaign stop.

Doesn’t anyone realize what this means?

Edwards supports freedom of speech at home. He believes even his kids have the right to say what they like. His kids aren’t shaped and molded before going into public. (Hell, you can’t even say that about the current President.) It doesn’t even matter whether it was a joke or not. Either way, it’s an astonishing departure from the whole plastic, fantastic mess of campaign politics.

Letting your kids speak their minds. That’s what I call courage. That’s what I call understanding the Constitution.

A President who understands the Constitution. /*dreams beautiful dream*/ Yeeowser!

Update, Jun 25: San Francisco Chronicle, “Elizabeth Edwards declares support for gay marriage. …taking a position that she acknowledged is at odds with her husband, presidential candidate John Edwards.”

Which means the first time wasn’t some accident. This guy means it. He doesn’t try to own the people around him. Incredible. Amazing. Why is anyone else even running?

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If Rushdie’s knighthood is an insult…

If Rushdie’s knighthood is a huge insult that demands an apology and a retraction of the offending knighthood, then there a few other insults that need to be addressed.

I am deeply offended by the treatment of women in many countries. A heartfelt apology is certainly in order, but even more, I want a retraction. Get rid of all those laws that deprive women of freedom of movement, of the right to vote, of something so damn basic as the right to choose their own clothing.

I am terribly offended that there are still governments who censor political speech. I want to see those practices stopped now, thank you.

I am appalled that there are governments that use torture. I expect to see that stopped — yesterday! — and all those heads of state and their henchmen tried for crimes against humanity.

And if these things aren’t done to my satisfaction, then . . . well, then we come to the difference between me and the Rushdie apoplectics. They talk of racing out and blowing things up. Me? I’ll probably write a strong letter to my blog.

That’s the other difference between me and them: I have a much better time of it.

Technorati tags: Rushdie, knighthood, politics, religion, current events

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Women are human, take two

Via Carolyn Kay at Make Them Accountable comes this brilliant article by David Podvin: Always the lesser priority.

The cynical calculations of political movements… the burning ambition of leaders…the multiculturalism that emphasizes respecting misogynistic societies over defending females. From the liberal perspective, there is an extended litany of priorities more important than women’s rights. And for conservatives, every priority is more important.

Even feminist activists have a higher priority than advocating the rights of women. Increasingly, feminists have argued that women share an immutable common cause with “people of color”. That multicultural convolution explains the vulgar silence on the Left when Third World females are being tortured and murdered.

And, I might add, there is a peculiar blindness to First World crimes too. Somewhere between one in ten and one in six women between the ages of 15 and 40 are raped every year. Every goddamn year. This is a holocaust of sexual torture. It scars people for life. The fact that they find the strength to carry on and even heal does not make it less of a crime. The fact that I even feel the need to explain that, tells you everything you need to know about how low a priority these atrocities are.

So where is the outrage? And where is the pushback?

Nowhere, mon frère. There has long been an all-out war pitting a multicultural coalition of misogynists against women, but only one side has been fighting. Until that battle is joined the savagery visited upon females will not end. Feeble Feminism must be replaced by Kick Ass Feminism. The time has come to stop turning the other cheek and start turning the cheeks of the reprobates.

That vigilance begins where all vigilance begins… at home.

The endless assault upon females constitutes a crime against every person who values women. Integrity demands that the criminals be vanquished, but most people – even most good people – are just too busy worrying about higher priorities.

There can be no higher priority. At stake is the liberty of more than half the human population.

It’s what I’ve been trying to say in Are Women Human?, Lipstick is not liberation, The Cure for terrorism? Islamic law for women, Iran, yellow stars, and dress codes, as well as here, here, and here, and practically everywhere throughout this whole damn blog. It feels like water in the desert to find someone who gets it.

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Buff-itude in Politics

The 2008 US presidential elections have been called off. We will be having a male beauty contest instead.

I first heard about it when there was all that media time devoted to John Edwards’ hair. Expensive. Pretty. Shiny. Combed in front of a mirror. (They’d found camera footage proving it.) This was all way too much like a g-i-r-r-r-l. Not good.

Then, Howard Fineman, certified Washington DC pundit, and Chris Matthews, top flight TV political talk show host, on the subject of Guiliani and his looks.

FINEMAN: He doesn‘t—he looks like a guy who, if he had had the opportunity to grow up as a hunter, would have been a great one.
FINEMAN: He just gives off the aura of a guy who wouldn‘t be afraid to use a gun, you know?

Via Talkingpointsmemo, intelligence from the Republican camp concerning the Presidential qualities of Fred Thompson:

“the actor/senator/lobbyist would make a good president, in part because of his speaking voice. … He has a commanding voice,” Wamp said. “He has a commanding presence.”

However, we’re past the days of radio, unfortunately. It has to be admitted that for television he is, well, a bit jowly. This causes others to cheer for Mitt Romney, the Mormon Without Minoxidil.

Politico’s Roger Simon:

Romney has chiseled-out-of-granite features, a full, dark head of hair going a distinguished gray at the temples, and a barrel chest (ref).
[Romney] has shoulders you could land a 737 on (ref).

Via Media Matters, transcripts of Bill O’Reilly’s trenchant analysis of what it takes to be President.

“[Romney’s] got the jaw going on, the little gray thing in there. … I think that means a lot in America.”

Where, you might ask, does all this leave Hillary? She does have a bit of a “jaw going on” herself, but even the cleverest tailor with access to Texas-sized shoulder pads couldn’t make her look like the runway for a 737.

You see, this is where we plodding types were all wrong. We knew there was going to be a contest, but we thought it was about stuff like knowing we need national health insurance, and being able to deal with the awful truth of the Iraq War.

Of course, the Republicans would have been at a disadvantage in a contest like that. So instead, the contest will now be about who looks like The Man.

Technorati tags: election, 2008, politics

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Bush praising the recent no-strings-attached funding for his occupation of Iraq:

[The bill reflects] “a consensus that the Iraqi government needs to show real progress in return for American’s continued support and sacrifice.”

Meanwhile (via True Blue Liberal) in Baghdad:

A friend who lives in the eastern Shiite slum of Sadr City was talking to a man who had lost a son in a recent bombing. “I am ashamed to talk about it,” said the grieving father. “Why?” asked my friend …. “Because my neighbor just lost all five of his children in one car bombing.”

Some Americans are paying a terrible price.

But, on the other hand, I know what the man in Baghdad means.

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Lipstick is not Liberation*

The big issue is supposed to be that women are attractive to men, which means there are only two possible alternatives. Women have to be kept in a box (or tent, according to taste) so the poor men aren’t driven to distraction, or women can be distracting and men have to deal with it.

Some man with a very limited little mind came up with that. Those are not our only choices. They don’t begin to cover the spectrum of possibilities. Half of humanity, for instance, is not driven to distraction by women, whether boxed or not. For women, there are issues of being pleased as well as pleasing, and that doesn’t even seem to be on the map for the limited little man.

And then, how about another whole range of choices? Imagine a world where everyone had a good sex life. A world where men didn’t have to come howling out of the woodwork whenever anyone made a noise like a vagina. One where women could express an interest in sex without being trampled. There’d be dozsens of choices then, not just two invented by some guy starving in a basement.

What brought on this rant was an article about the new, sexy music videos appearing in the Arab world.

Habib recalls how one of her early videos helped shoot her to superstardom.

“The video Akhasmak Ah was basically shot in a cafe in Beirut, and the woman was seen as a power figure in the video.

“She was dancing on the table and it was a room full of men and the men were just at her feet. And she was just commanding them. So in some ways it was seen as showing a woman as an object and in other ways it was seen as a woman being empowered.”

Many of the music clips – like those in the West – are selling sex in a way that is new to the Middle East.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I hardly know where to start, the whole world view is so pathetic. (If only it were limited to Arabs, but the BBC reporter himself obviously thinks in those terms too.)

Let’s just start with the whole sex-as-control aspect. Sex can’t be a tool of control if you want it. Then you’d have nothing to withhold and nothing to bargain with. So the first step is to be so out of touch with yourself, so unaware of your own desires, so castrated that you can dole out sex as currency. That is not empowerment. That’s being so thoroughly crippled, your only jollies are hitting people with your crutches.

Depriving a woman of her own life until she’s nothing but a figment of somebody else’s imagination is not empowerment. Not even when she’s given the means to be a disturbing figment. Wearing lipstick is not liberation. She’s still living in somebody else’s world, even if she gets to do it in technicolor.

Empowerment is having your own life. It’s having enough control to be able to choose which life you want. It’s having enough control over your own fate to be able to get what you want sometimes, too.

Everything about the report, and the world view it echoes, rests on the same ignorance about empowerment, and, for that matter, sex. Take the comment about “selling sex.” It’s not sex that’s being sold, but only women’s sex. The implication being the same old myth: only men want sex, women don’t want it and all they do is use it.

Or, take the following statement.

Many Arab women say they find the videos demeaning.

The discussion has been about “sex,” not about sexless (although of course sexy) women. So the quote implies women find sex demeaning. Nobody wants humiliation (except perhaps sadomasochists who’ve bought into the idea that sex equals it). Hence, again, over and over, the message is the same. Women don’t want sex.

Outside the world of sex-deprived men, though, it doesn’t take much to see how asinine the videos are. It doesn’t take a spiritual giant to know that a body slave is not really a step up from a maid of all work. All it takes is any sense of self. Women who see where the videos put them are closer to empowerment than reporters who sound like they have no idea what the problem might be.

The really sad thing is that this pathetic ignorance is far from harmless. It’s worse than not liberating. It is the opposite. It takes everyone further and further away from ever being free of it.

The truth (which on good authority is said to set us free) is that women spend at least as much time as men thinking about sex. Sometimes it seems like they think about it even more. If you’re female, you have no trouble remembering examples. (If you’re male, probably not so much. See “trampling,” above, if you wonder why.)

It’s true that at this point women don’t always dream of exactly the same sort of satisfactions as men, for the simple reason that men have succeeded in making sex either frustrating or even unpleasant for so many women. But it’s not nature that made things that way. Any time we want to stop living inside narrow fantasies, there’s a whole world of other choices out there.

Left to themselves, women are crazy about men. Left to themselves, women are crazy about sex. If they didn’t have to fear frustration or worse, they’d be having a lot more sex, not less. As a result, men would be having a lot more sex too, if they stopped trying to have all of it.


*(Written from a straight perspective. As they say: write what you know.)

Technorati tags: politics, gender, sex, relationships, liberation

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