NICO: "I didn't have a strong opinion until the Republican Convention. When I watched McCain, I thought, 'this guy is crazy'. He scared me. What America does affects the rest of the world. In France, if we go along with whatever America has decided to do, we send people to war. And if we don't go along with it, we deal with the scorn of America. I figured I should do what I could to help Obama because I believe that he'll be good for the rest of the world."
Humpback Swimming Underwater - Image © Greenpeace
Breaching Humpback Whale
Breaching Humpback Whale
Under a loophole in the 1986 International Whaling Commission (IWC) ban against commercial whaling, Japan has continued to kill hundreds of whales every year for scientific research. Once a whale is killed, scientists collect data from the animal's remains on its age, birthing rate and diet; the meat is then packaged and sold. Japan maintains that the research is essential for managing the whale population. "Minke or humpback, we see whales as a marine resource," says Moronuki [Ed. note - Moronuki is a spokesman for the Japan Fisheries Agency. The fact that "moron" is in his name seems quite fitting.]. Still, most observers have long been skeptical of any benefits from the project. "I haven't met one person, pro-whalers or not, outside of the Fisheries Agency payroll who believe that these researches are useful," says Greenpeace Australia Pacific's CEO Steve Shallhorn. Tensions have been heating up in recent hunts. In February, a member of Japan's whaling fleet was killed in a ship fire following a series of confrontations with vessels from Sea Shepherd. Both Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd say that they are prepared to "chase, block, and harass" any attempts by the whaling fleet to harpoon humpbacks.
Greenpeace Takes Action: Sign reads "Bush, Fukuda - End Whaling" - Image © Greenpeace
The Great Whale Trail - Image © Greenpeace
Image © Greenpeace
Bear with me and my thought process for a bit. If you follow this Archive.org link, you'll see what Daily Kos looked like in August of 2002. Note particularly that of the 12 entries on what was then the "front page" of Daily Kos, the most comments any one post received was three. Three! Anyone can visit Daily Kos' "About" page to learn how and why it came into being. This excerpt sums it up pretty nicely:
Markos Moulitsas -- a.k.a. "kos" -- created Daily Kos on May 26, 2002, in those dark days when an oppressive and war-crazed administration suppressed all dissent as unpatriotic and treasonous. As a veteran, Moulitsas was offended that the freedoms he pledged his life for were so carelessly being tossed aside by the reckless and destructive Republican administration.
Now fast-forward 5 years and a handful of months and Markos is a panelist on Bill Maher's HBO show. What started as a personal outlet has grown to a bonafide movement that inches forward in influence with every single post and comment.
Last night's Maher show was rife with people I would consider luminaries. Maher's lead-off, post-monologue interview was with Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson. His mid-panel via satellite interview was with Jeremy Scahill, investigative journalist and author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. His panelists were Markos, Alison Stewart (host of NPR's Bryant Park Project and frequent guest host of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann), and comedian Martin Short. I think my only wish would have been that one of the more odious Republicans would have been on the panel - THAT would have been extra-fun - but all-in-all, this was quite a lineup and Markos had a key seat at the table.
In case you're wondering, Markos has been on Real Time before. It was on August 25, 2006 (Mr Met wrote a brief diary with many comments about it), and Markos was an interviewed guest as opposed to a panelist (the wonderful Al Rodgers kindly posted the video of Markos' appearance in this comment). I thought he did well in that appearance. But being chosen as a panelist is, to my mind, a far greater honor than simply being interviewed.
So let me turn to last night's show with some selected parts that I have transcribed from my DVR.
Topic #1 - Hillary Clinton, MSM CW, Debate Talk
Now - In the diary comments last night I saw a lot of outrage about whether or not, specifically, Maher and Markos were "carrying water" for Hillary Clinton. I don't believe they were. The central point that Maher made was simply that the media has turned on Hillary Clinton presumably as a result of the latest debate and that he (Maher) didn't think her performance was "that awful". That's hardly tantamount to "carrying water" for her. Here's a bit of the discussion:
MARKOS: I know [referring to stumbling in the debate]. There's a couple of things. One is that, clearly she didn't do as bad as people say she did. But, she did poorer than before. She was a machine the first few debates. She was perfect. So now she's a little less perfect...
STEWART: She let them see her sweat. That was the for the first time you've seen Hillary Clinton actually sweat a little bit. Especially in the last two minutes, and also in the middle. She really raised her voice. She'd gotten really good about modulating her voice - remember when she used to give her speeches and then she was like [raises voice], "I will tell you exactly what I think" - And so she clearly... [unintelligible] ...and then it came down and then through the debate [raises voice] she started talking to you like this again. And by the end, I was in first grade again.
MARKOS: But clearly it's nowhere near as bad, and I think the media wants a horse race at this point. They spent a year [crosstalk], they spent - what - the last two years...
MAHER: They have to change the story. It was getting boring.
MARKOS: It really was getting boring.
So all you water-carrying criers - come on. The essential point of this exchange was a knock on the MEDIA - NOT a pimping of Hillary Clinton.
Topic #2 - Immigration
I found this highly interesting, Markos notwithstanding (e.g., it was Maher's comments that caught my attention the most):
MAHER: ...but it's really part of the bigger issue, which is immigration. The Republicans have once again been able to creat a boogeyman out of complete cloth. It's astounding the way they're able to do this. They did it with Iraq. Nothing had changed with Iraq - when we went to war with Iraq - nothing. It was still Saddam Hussein with that corrupt regime. Ok - now they did it with immigration, and I read a poll this week that said independents - who the Democrat[s] need to get elected - for them, the #1 issue in this country is our broken borders. They've been listening to Lou Dobbs. And the Democrats could lose on this issue - this completely non-issue, because once again, nothing changed. Yes, there's 12 million immigrants doing jobs in this country.
MARKOS: I think that poll's completely bunk. Every - I mean, I swim in polls. It's my job. And every poll I've seen shows that independents and Democrats are almost eerily aligned on the issue. The poll actually asks for "unprotected borders". Who the hell is for unprotected borders? Nobody is. I mean...
This was where everyone jumped in and Markos got more or less drowned out. His point, and I thought it was a good one, was that the polls are skewed because of the nature of the question asked. Very few people will answer "yes" if asked if they support unprotected borders. The larger issue, for me, was the idea that immigration, while clearly something the US needs to address from a broad policy perspective, is not the issue Republicans are making it out to be. I hadn't considered that we're essentially being set up. Again. But I digress.
Topic #3 - General Stupidity of the Electorate, Mike Huckabee
I LOVED LOVED LOVED this exchange. Bear with me. Markos wrapped it expertly.
MAHER: Listen. Mike Huckabee, the Republican candidate says the reason we have to import so many illegals in our workforce - he said it might be that for the last 35 years we have aborted more than a million people. Hm. You see, there's your connection. Those people we aborted would have all been fruit pickers.
SHORT: It's a lovely thought. He's quite the thinker.
MAHER: He's [Huckabee] lost the weight. He's also the one who doesn't believe in evolution...
MARKOS: This is perfect, though. Here's a guy who's really obsessed with abortion - you know, trying to tie it in to the border issue which is red meat for his base - but once these kids are born, they don't care. They don't give a damn. And so they veto healthcare for children but, before they're born, they care so much.
STEWART: But this shouldn't be a shocker about Mike Huckabee. He's so affable...
MAHER: I'm not saying this to attack Mike Huckabee, and he is a nice guy. What I'm saying is that it could work on the stupidity in this country. That's what worries me - is people actually hear that and go "Oh there you go. That's the problem. Our fruit would get picked if we hadn't aborted those people. Makes sense to me because I live in idiocracy."
SHORT: But that has worked. If we fight them... if we fight them over there we won't have to fight them here. That worked.
MARKOS: 24% still approve of George Bush. So you've got a quarter of the public that's going to be pretty stupid no matter what we do.
Topic #4 - Why Democrats Can't/Don't use Statewide Wedge Issues As Republicans Do
this was interesting because this was where Markos nailed Maher (rightfully). Relevant parts below:
MAHER: So why can't the Democrats do what the Republicans do - which is get on the ballot in states - initiatives that get their people out to vote. In 2004, famously, gay marriage got their crowd out there and while they were in the voting booth, of course they voted for George Bush. Why can't the Democrats figure out that same strategy. You know. Like here in blue state crazy California - I mean, if we had a - something on the ballot that said you get free ecstasy and that the government would pay for it and send it in your mailbox, I mean, people would come out and vote for that.
MAHER: Even - what about a draft. You know, that would get young people - I mean the young people are all for the Democrats but they don't show up because they're asleep in a ditch on voting day.
MARKOS: You know, to be fair, last election cycle the youth vote actually came out in record numbers. And we've seen that for the last two cycles. They're getting to the point where they're actually matching the general population in voting trends. The draft wouldn't work. The draft is a Federal issue - it's not a state issue...
MAHER: No, you could draft for the state National Guard.
MARKOS: It's actually still a Federal issue. So but what you have is - you have Democrats that are doing minimum wage...
MAHER: [squinting and shaking his head at Markos] He's shooting down my premise. Mr. Reader [makes finger quotes].
MARKOS: We're not going to need ballot initatives to win this next election. If we can't point to what Republicans have done to this country in eight years and win, then we don't deserve to win this election.
STEWART: I mean, what could be a wedge issue [this directed to Markos]. This is your world, you swim in polls...
MARKOS: I mean, right now, healthcare for children apparently a wedge issue. I mean, I can't believe it that they would veto this, but apparently, taking care of children is a wedge issue. Now you have the Republicans, their philosophy is, government doesn't work. So how can you possibly have a government that works if you're a Republican, because you would invalidate your own ideology. That's why Bush puts people like horse lawyers in charge of FEMA. Because you can't possibly work or...
MAHER: [laughing] Horse lawyers. That was a lawyer for a horse, wasn't it.
There was then general discussion about the media, how they handle the debates, and how it affects frontrunners and challengers. It was an interesting discussion, but there wasn't really anything I wanted to highlight from this segment. From there Maher went into his usual mid-panel schtick (this week it was Rummy's "snowflake memos", both real and manufactured) and his interview with Jeremy Scahill. Then it was back to the panel.
Topic #5 - Iraq. Lower death numbers. The surge.
Let me point out - Maher, to me, played devil's advocate for this part of the panel discussion, as he sometimes does. He set the stage by giving the latest numbers that are being touted about the two months worth of lower US troop deaths.
MAHER. Look - I'm just going to be Fox News here for a second because I've got a panel of liberals. So what I saw all on the news this week is that things in Iraq are turning around. Fallujah, apparently, is a paradise. It's more secure than my own studio. Less than half the attacks than there were a year ago now. Iraqi deaths are down by two-thirds. Lowest US death count in over a year, only 29 this month - I mean it's 29, it's horrible, but by comparison - maybe - this thing is burning itself out. Is it possible that something good could now be coming out of Iraq?
MARKOS: Well actually this month - I mean this year so far is going to far outpace any year before it in the number of Iraqi deaths, in the number of American deaths. So...
MAHER: I'm talking about the last few months.
MARKOS: [Regarding Fallujah] That was an ABC news report and two years ago, ABC News filed that exact same report. We've heard "mission accomplished" too many times.
STEWART: The Washington Post also reported on it.
MARKOS: Yeah. It's - there is - when you flood the zone...
MAHER: You're not rooting against victory, are you?
MARKOS: Of course not. When you flood a zone with troops you're going to get...
MAHER: More important...
MARKOS: Fallujah's been ethnically cleansed. You don't have the sectarian violence there that you used to have when actual people of different colors and different religions used to live there. And you have a case of whack-a-mole - you put troops in Fallujah, they all run somewhere else. They're all sitting back because we can't sustain this. Now when we went into the surge, the reason we did the surge wasn't to pacify Fallujah. It was for the Iraqi government to create space for reconciliation and the passage of this oil law and sort of the factions in the Iraqi government coming together and finding a solution for their country. That hasn't happened.
STEWART: Two things - I want to follow-up on something that you said [indicating Markos] and follow something you said [indicating Maher]. I've been a journalist for 16 years so...
SHORT: Anything I said? [laughter] [Short snuggles and kisses up to her with some crosstalk]
STEWART: Just to correct that you're talking to three liberals here, I'm a journalist and I try to be objective about things - hi boss -
MAHER: I do. That's why I'm asking the question.
STEWART: But just to follow up on the point you mentioned [turned towards Markos] - I think it's an interesting one and an important one when you talk about the idea of - if you're talking about the surge - and you say, ok, yes it did work, what happens when there's no more surge. And that means, is everybody going to stay. So we have to stay to make it continue to work. And are we preapred for that.
What I found interesting about this exchange was that Stewart turned her entire focus and attention to Markos. She did that numerous times throughout Maher's show. Short did as well.
Topic #6 - Iraq. Cost of the war. Post-9/11 Panic
MAHER: But even if it was a giant victory tomorrow, I read in the paper this week, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost in 10 years 2.4 trillion dollars. Which is on top of $100 billion dollars a year, so far, that we're spending on homeland security.
MAHER: It seems to me that we panicked after 9/11. I mean, it was a bad thing 9/11. No one denies that. We should have had a response. It should have cost You know, we're again down this torture path because we're trying to...
There are those who have said that the plan of the terrorists - they know they can't actually bring America down - but by scaring us with that attack, they could get us to bring ourselves down. We would get into this endless economic debacle and bleed ourselves dry. And it does seem like that is happening.
MARKOS: Man, I wish you would have said something about this after 9/11.
[Note: above said with complete sarcasm]
MAHER: [laughing] I get what you'e saying.
MARKOS: That's a perfect example of that panic! You couldn't even say what you said without repercussions. That's the reason people like me exist in this media and landscape now. People like bloggers - because nobody else could say the things that a lot of people are thinking. And logic led them to say that. And so I started my little site at the time because nobody else was saying that and it grew because people said "Finally somebody's saying this" and they can't fire me.
H/T Daily Kos. Just one additional excerpt from this segment and I'll wrap, continuing where I left off:
MAHER: So why can't you get your liberal troops to stand up and put the pressure on - for example - the Democratic Congress which today, again, caved in on this Mukasey guy.
[My note: Generally I love Maher, but that above shows that he doesn't read Daily Kos at all - the "troops" were doing everything they could]
MAHER: ...He's the guy that George Bush is trying to ge tto be the new Attorney General, and he will not say whether waterboarding is torture. And trust me - I've been waterboarded - it's torture.
SHORT: George Bush had threatened not to have an Attorney General. And how detrimental would it be [addressing Markos] for the country not to have an Attorney General.
MARKOS: Nothing. It'd be nothing.
STEWART: You think nothing?
MARKOS: We have an acting Attorney General.
STEWART: You think with that many people that are in temporary appointee positions...
MARKOS: Sure - why not? It can't be anything worse than...
STEWART: It could be a lot worse.
MARKOS: In what way?
STEWART: ...If you think about the differences between the kinds of Attorney Generals we've had, then you have someone who's an interim who is - who is somebody the President clearly thinks he's comfortable with - wouldn't you rather have somebody that the Congress has - at least that goes through Committee and goes through a vote? Rather than this temporary person who's in there?
MARKOS: ...To have somebody else that Bush is comfortable with. You know...
STEWART: But at least there's other people weighing in on it.
MARKOS: But they don't have a voice. They cave.
I thought Markos did really well in that segment. I understood his point - what the difference? Whether the person is a nominee or an interim, clearly s/he is somebody Bush is "comfortable with". And if the Democratic Congress caves, it doesn't matter a whit. It wasn't a contest, necessarily, between Markos and Stewart - but she and her 16 years of journalistic experience (and I like her) didn't win that point against Markos and his 5-year old blog.
Whew! That was a LOT of transcription - about two hours worth for that small amount. With that, I've highlighted what stood out for me. So...
Listen. Markos it but one of a host of notable, intelligent, prominent figures in the Netroots and what I consider the "new" media. As I was driving home from the store today, thinking about this diary, it occurred to me that much of the RoA (Rest of America) still considers blogging an uber-geeky, basement-of-the-science-building, outlier and slightly weird thing to do. But then it occurred to me - 15 years ago that's what people thought about email. 10 years ago (roughly), that's what they thought about going online.
I think that Markos' appearance last night went a long way towards legitimizing, to the RoA, what we already know to be legitimate: that we are ALL a part of the "new" media and that we continue to help to shape what we hope will be "new" politics in America. I feel like Markos, on that show, helped the entire Netroots take a step forward in perception and legitimacy.
And for that, he certainly has MY applause. Are you standing up yet?
Update [2007-11-3 15:30:30 by RenaRF]: Miss Laura links to a video clip in today's Midday Open Thread.
Update [2007-11-3 15:43:42 by RenaRF]: VelvetElvis has posted a comment with a link to the Maher show's Torrent. If you're a torrent type, you can get it there. If you're not, you can Google Bittorrent and download stuff to be able to access it.
This is a live transcription from Barbara Starr's Pentagon reporting:
B. STARR: Well, Don, at this hour, in fact, a top General here in the Pentagon is meeting with reporters in the briefing room, taking questions about the latest developments in Turkey. Lt. General Carter Ham, the Director of Operations on the Joint staff - struggling to explain a bit about how involved or not involved the US military plans to get in this situation, especially in that border region where Kurdish PKK rebels launching out of Northern Iraq are attacking into Turkey and Turkey is becoming extremely concerned, returning artillery shell fire back across the border. The US military is simply trying to stay out of the way.
Look - if that situation wasn't enough, we have the second situation in Turkey - this business of a Congressional resolution declaring as genocide the killing of Armenians by Turks during WWI. As a result of that problem, the Turks are threatening to cut off access to the critical airbase at Incirlik, Turkey. What is the latest there today? Well, the US military has very quietly confirmed they have issued a warning order to troops - to US troops - to be prepared to look at alternative air routes into Iraq without having to go into Turkey. About 70%, Don, of US military cargo into Iraq goes through Turkey or Turkish airspace. If Incirlik is cut off, the US has to be ready with other options.
And now indeed, a warning order has gone out to be so-called "prepared to execute other options". We're talking about looking for aircraft, fuel, cruise lines, air supply routes out of Europe. It will be much more expensive and much more time intensive for the war.
I have to say - I really think that the resolution against Turkey at this time was really, really stupid. I agree with Philip Geraldi at HuffPo:
From the Turkish point of view, the United States is completely hypocritical. The United States became a great power through its genocide of the red Indians and is hardly in a good position to point the finger at others. It currently is fighting a self-declared and self-defined global war on terrorism in which it claims the right to attack terrorists anytime and anywhere.
This is a live transcription from Barbara Starr's Pentagon reporting:
INSTRUCTOR: Well boys and girls - put your hand up if you've heard of the word "evolution".
[Cut to cute scrubbed kids holding up their hands]
INSTRUCTOR: Oh boy. I think just about everyone had their hands up. Hands down. Put your hands up if you've heard that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago.
[Another cut - cute scrubbed kids holding up their hands]
INSTRUCTOR: Dear oh dear. Hands down. Put your hands up if you've heard that people came from ape-like creatures or something like that.
[Yet another shot of scrubbed kids holding up their hands]
INSTRUCTOR: You know, I think just about everybody in the world has heard those things. And I want to tell you right from the start here that I don't believe that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. And I certainly don't believe that you came from ape-like creatures or any thing like that. I mean, did you grandfather look like this?
[Cut to picture of big screen of an ape-like creature with human features under which is written in big letters, GRANDFATHER? Children laugh wildly]
INSTRUCTOR: I don't think so. Did your grandmother look like that?
[Cut to picture now of same ape-like creature with more feminine eyes, wearing rouge and lipstick under which is written, GRANDMOTHER? Children laugh wildly]
INSTRUCTOR: No. Not at all. Boys and girls, I don't believe you come from ape-like creatures and I don't believe that millions of years (sic). I believe that what the Bible says is true. That God created the world, he created everything in six days, just a few thousand years ago. We don't believe in evolution. Evolution is the idea that some people have to explain life without God! No, I believe what the Bible says, actually, that God created everything and we're going to talk about that.
[Children now paying wide-eyed attention]
DAVIS: Boys and girls, I believe that the Bible is the history book of the Universe. What do I think - that the Bible is what?
CHILDREN: The history book of the Universe.
DAVIS: The Bible's the history book of the Universe. If you believe that man and dinosaurs did live together like it says in Genesis, then how come you can't find the word "dinosaur" in the Bible? Hey, if I look in the Bible, can I find the word "jet airplane"? [editor's note, by RenaRF] two words, but hey - accuracy is clearly a guidepost and not a rule with these guys.
DAVIS: No. It's a brand new word. Can I look in the Bible boys and girls, and can I find the word "computer"?
DAVIS: No. It's a brand new word and the word "dinosaur" is a brand new word, too.
Let's look at the Bible.
Let's look in the Book of Job.
Turn to chapter 40
In verse 15, we're told
Of a mighty creature
That Job must have known
In the jungle of the reeds and ferns
Behemoth made his home
Behemoth is a DINOSAUR
A DINOSAUR is he.
"He eateth grass as an ox"
"His tail's like a cedar tree"
"His bones are strong as bars of iron"
"He's cheif in the ways of God"
Could BEHEMOTH be a DINOSAUR?
A mighty sauropod?
40:15 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
40:16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
40:17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
40:18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
40:19 He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.
In the book of Job, both Behemoth and Leviathan are listed alongside a number of mundane animals, such as goats, eagles, and hawks, leading many Christian scholars to surmise that Behemoth and Leviathan may also be mundane creatures. Suggested animals include the water buffalo and the elephant, but the most common suggestion is the hippopotamus.
Although the animal's tail "moves like a cedar" (40:17), an unlikely description for any of these animals, "tail' could be a euphemism for an elephant's trunk. Moreover, some suggest that "tail" is a euphemism for male genitalia. Support for this is based on another meaning of the Hebrew word "move" which means "extend" and on the second part of verse 17 describing the sinew around its "stones" (the Vulgate uses the word "testiculorum"].
[editor's note, by RenaRF] Clearly AiG isn't going to discuss the concept of a PENIS like a cedar tree. Perish the thought.
Others disagree, pointing to the fact that Behemoth is called "chief of the ways of God" (40:19), indicating that it is not a mere animal.
[editor's note, by RenaRF] As if the Bible is full of vague, fantastical references without explanation. Perish that thought, too.
Another proposal is that the Behemoth is a dinosaur. Some sort of sauropod is usually proposed since large sauropods had tails "like a cedar". Adherents to this viewpoint hold that it is more consistent with the literal application of the text. However, critics usually point out that according to paleontology, sauropods, unlike Behemoth, were tree-browsers that became extinct 65 million years ago, predating the appearance and rise of people or grasses. Additionally, opponents of this theory argue that the text is probably allegory at best.
S. O'BRIEN: "CNN NEWSROOM" just a couple of minutes away. Heidi Collins is at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead this morning.Ok. So what we get from the teaser is that the critically acclaimed Vagina Monologues is sparking controversy somewhere in the South. So much so that a person was utterly offended by the title on a marquis in front of the theater and called the theater to complain. And with that, the title Vagina Monologues was changed to HOOHAA Monologues. I'm not making this up.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Soledad. And good morning to you, everybody.
That's right, we have these stories coming up in the "NEWSROOM" today. Good grief, first winter wouldn't start and now it won't stop. You've heard Chad talking about it, some spots in upstate New York buried under six feet of snow.
And the fight over Nigeria's oil riches. Our Africa correspondent Jeff Koinange face to face with masked rebels. A dangerous and amazing piece of reporting that you've got to see. We'll show you that.
And sign of the times -- a critically acclaimed play causing a little southern discomfort, so the producers have changed the name of "The Vagina Monologues."
Tony Harris is with me in the "NEWSROOM" of the hour right here on CNN.
S. O'BRIEN: Oh, my gosh.
M. O'BRIEN: "The Hoohaa Monologues?"
COLLINS: You got it. Some people were offended, you know.
S. O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness. I can see why. That's very interesting.
M. O'BRIEN: "Hoohaa" kind of bothers me.
COLLINS: No, I mean, they were offended by the original name.
S. O'BRIEN: No, no I get you on all fronts.
M. O'BRIEN: But you know, some people might have a "Hoohaa" problem. Who knows.
COLLINS: I'm done.
S. O'BRIEN: As am I. We're done.
Atlantic Theatres in Atlantic Beach, Florida, received a complaint from a woman who'd seen the advertised title as she drove past with her niece. She said that it had made her niece ask her what a vagina was.FYI, the link above will take you to a picture of the "new" marquis on the theater, post-rabid psycho complaint. I wasn't too far off in my memory-based transcription. Now, a few things leap to mind. First, the Vagina Monologues is a critically acclaimed play. I found a great little write-up in the BG News Online (Bowling Green State University) which had this to say:
The theatre's Bryce Pfanenstiel commented: 'I'm on the phone and asked “What did you tell her?” She's like, “I'm offended I had to answer the question.”
The author, Eve Ensler, designed the play to be a rather creative way to express women's issues to the rest of the world. The results of the play have been tremendous on all women. Participants and viewers everywhere describe the Monologues as empowering and a step forward for women.But clearly, in Atlantic Beach Florida, Vaginas are the embodiment (hah) of evil.
One reason [that the play is so powerful] is that the Monologues are specifically an all-women production. This particular facet of the play ensures that there is no influence from a cultural patriarchy, as well as demonstrates women's more-than-capable ability to produce theatre.
In a culture where sexuality is shunned, it is often difficult, sometimes impossible to find information about your own body.
Despite the Western view of human beings, we are not clouds of consciousness simply floating about. We are human beings with bodies. And if it is taboo to talk about vaginas, then how exactly are women supposed to learn about themselves? How are they to relate to one another as women with bodies?
The amount of money donated to charity as a direct result of "The Vagina Monologues" is hard to argue against. With every dollar earned a step is made to help women in the most dire of circumstances.
va·gi·na (v-jn)Ooooh... dirty, dirty BAD vaginas!! Of this we must not speak, especially to girls who actually have them!! And with that, I give you the HOOHAA MONOLOGUES, coming soon to a draconian theater near you in a neighborhood that wants you to grow up repressed, confused, and subliminally convinced that you are, in fact, dirty and disgusting.
n. pl. va·gi·nas or va·gi·nae (-n)
a. The passage leading from the opening of the vulva to the cervix of the uterus in female mammals.
b. A similar part in some invertebrates.
2. Botany A sheathlike structure, such as the leaf of a grass that surrounds a stem.
Hi,I believe them, and BRAVO. I will say, though, that the woman who called initially was NOT made-up. I have also seen in the comments that many of the V-Day showings of Vagina Monologues are being protested. Yes, protested - across the country. Peruse the comments a bit. So, I'm glad that CNN aired the story and I'm glad that the theater, along with virtually everyone here, sees how ridiculous it is to object to the word "vagina".
I think we are being misunderstood. "Hoohaa" was meant to be tongue in cheek. Having a 9 year old daughter and coming from a medical background I was furious that a woman would actually complain about having to explain to her niece what a vagina was after the child read it herself. My daughter knows the anatomically correct term but calls uses hoohaa. Yes, we know what free speech is and we are glad to be putting Vagina back up today. I am female and I support VAGINA!!!
Kim (assistant manager)
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Now, if there were a vaccine that would protect your child from a kind of cancer that kills thousands of people every year, chances are, you would make sure your child gets it.
But the next story we're bringing out in the open is not that simple, because it involves sex, parents' rights, and women's health. The governor of Texas has just signed an order to require girls in sixth grade to get the vaccine for HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer. And 18 other states are considering doing the same thing.
Ed Lavandera has story tonight from Dallas.
JULIANNE JACOBS, STUDENT: You should do it before you're sexually active.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Julianne Jacobs is ahead of the class, one of the first young girls in Texas to receive a vaccine against the human papillomavirus. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer.
The federal government says, the recently approved vaccine can prevent most types of cervical cancer. Julianne's parents have told her it's not a free pass to start having sex.
JACOBS: And, because, you know, that vaccine doesn't guarantee -- guarantee safety. It can still -- you can still get past it, and you could get that disease, even if you have the vaccination.
LAVANDERA: But, when Texas Governor Rick Perry signed an executive order, making it mandatory starting in September of 2008 for sixth-grade girls to receive the vaccine, many parents were angry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government should let parents make their own decisions for things like this.
LAVANDERA: Dawn Richardson is lobbying Texas lawmakers against making the vaccine mandatory, and also has a daughter of her own.
DAWN RICHARDSON, LOBBYIST AND PARENT: There's no proof that this vaccine is going to affect the rates of cervical cancer, because the vaccine is being administered to 11-year-old girls. It's only been tested for four years.
LAVANDERA: The FDA says, the vaccine is safe and effective, requiring three shots over a six-month period. But some critics worry that making the vaccine mandatory will promote premarital sex, instead of abstinence.
PETER SPRIGG, VICE PRESIDENT FOR POLICY, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: We feel it's very important that people not be told that this is a vaccine that will make it safe to have sex.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Governor Perry is a staunch conservative. And he says this idea protects life and promotes women's health. And he says parents will ultimately be allowed to decide whether or not their daughters get this vaccine. They can apply to opt out of if they object to it for religious or moral reasons.
(voice-over): The Republican governor is receiving support from unlikely places, Planned Parenthood and even many Democrats, who see this strictly as a public health issue.
ZAHN: There are 10,000 cases of cervical cancel -- cancer, that is, every year, 4,000 deaths.
Out in the open tonight: the controversy over requiring sixth- grade girls to get the HPV vaccine to prevent the sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer.
Texas has just started requiring the shots -- 18 other states also considering it.
Let's go back to tonight's "Out in the Open," panel, Clarence Page, with his mike on -- yes -- Tara Wall [RNC mouthpiece], Rachel Maddow.
ZAHN: So, Clarence, should this be mandatory...
PAGE: I think...
ZAHN: ... and made mandatory by state government?
PAGE: You know, what troubles me is making it mandatory before the public is adequately educated, because I saw what happened with Roe vs. Wade, which I personally support as a decision.
But I saw the backlash, which we're still feeling politically across the country, because it was imposed on the country. This is a very personal thing. Whenever government gets into something as personal as, say, 12-year-olds, like -- like, my 12-year-old niece, mandating that she has got to get a shot that many people think is connected to sexual promiscuity -- I don't think it is.
PAGE: But so many people think that, we obviously need a lot of public educating out there. So, it troubles me to do it do it too quickly.
ZAHN: But, even with public education...
ZAHN: ... there is a strong view that you're promoting promiscuity. There are people think, since this vaccine has been around only for four years, that it really won't convincingly reduce rates of cervical cancer. So, what difference is it going to make if there's a time lag before you make it mandatory?
MADDOW: It's -- well, here's the thing.
If we were talking about a vaccine for any other kind of cancer, as a person in your previous segment described, we would be singing hallelujah right now. But the fact that this is a disease that is spread by sexual contact, human papillomavirus, which leads to cervical cancer, all of a sudden, we get hysterical and lose the ability to think reasonably about this.
MADDOW: Once you bring up sex, we lose all public health rationality about this.
And, so, I think that, really, what you need to consider is whether or not this going to be treated as a public health and safety issue, or whether this is going to be another thing about which we have a hysterical sex conversation involving teenagers, because we can't -- we have that debate.
ZAHN: But you know it will be a little bit of both of them.
WALL: Listen -- listen, you talk not having the buy-in, and the public not having the buy-in of the legislature. The governor did this on his won [sic].
The governor, whom I respect -- and, actually, he's my governor. I voted for him. But he's wrong.
ZAHN: He's a conservative governor. He is your governor.
WALL: He is. He has been a very good conservative governor.
But he's wrong on this issue. As my mother says, a person can be sincere, but they can be sincerely wrong.
MADDOW: How can a vaccine for cancer be wrong?
WALL: There's -- there's no -- there's no -- there was no parental -- you're usurping parental rights. You're usurping the legislature.
WALL: Make it an opt-in, as opposed to an opt-out. There is an opt-out provision, of course.
WALL: But why not make it an opt-in, as opposed to an opt-out.
MADDOW: Would you do that for measles? Would you do that for rubella? Would you do that for polio? Would you do that for...
WALL: This has to do with a very sensitive...
MADDOW: With sex.
WALL: Absolutely -- issue...
WALL: ... that is a family issue, that parents need to discuss with their children amongst themselves, and not to have the government impose upon them.
MADDOW: How has that been working so far?
WALL: That's not for the government to decide.
ZAHN: If you want to see how it's working so far, I want you all to look at the screen right now...
ZAHN: ... because this is a staggering statistic.
This is the incidence of HPV hitting young kids in this 14- to 19-year-old age group. We know that about a third of kids that are 13 to 16 are sexually active.
So, do you think parents have their heads in the sand?
PAGE: Well, of course, yes. Parents do have their head in the sands about sex and drugs. We know that.
But there's also the question about, do parents who want to take responsibility for their kids, should they be entitled to have opt-out or opt-in choices? I think that is really what at issue here.
PAGE: You talk about rubella and several other contagious diseases which you can catch without having sex, I mean, there's a reason to want to control a contagion that travels in the air, and -- and to mandate that.
MADDOW: But look at that figure.
PAGE: When you're talking about something that is more personal -- well, look at the figures...
MADDOW: This is -- it's endemic.
MADDOW: If you're a teenager having sex, basically, you're going to get HPV.
PAGE: Just to play devil's advocate, which I'm very good at...
WALL: But what if you're not having sex?
WALL: What if you're not having sex?
WALL: There are plenty of teenagers out there who -- who -- who have had discussion with their parents who choose to remain abstinent or virgins until they're married, until... (CROSSTALK)
ZAHN: But you know what the manufacturers...
ZAHN: Hang on one second. The manufacturers of the vaccine say, that's a good thing...
ZAHN: ... because they said that the vaccine is more effective when you're inoculated before you start having sex.
WALL: Well, the other factor is -- and my mother is a nurse as well. And some of the issues that are being raised is how new this is. It hasn't been tested and tried. It needs to be given some time.
The other portion, again, opt-in, not make an opt-out. Let parents decide. This is the government assuming parents don't know what's best for their children. I think that's a little bit elitist.
HELEN THOMAS: What did the President think of the March on Washington?
SNOW: I don't really think he thought a lot about it. It's nice to see Jane Fonda in front of the camera again.
[Murmurs in the press room at this]
SNOW: Uh... There were a number of people who were here making statements - that's perfectly appropriate. This is a vigorous Democracy.
HELEN THOMAS: You said something earlier this morning, though. Would you like to repeat that?
SNOW: Well that uh... It's simply that there were predictions of a larger audience than showed up for the protest. [shrugs, raises eyebrows]
HELEN THOMAS: Have you really counted heads?
SNOW: No. Did you? Did you see 100,000?
HELEN THOMAS: I do think they had a good turnout.
SNOW: Well you know, I didn't go there, Helen. I'm not going to characterize...
HELEN THOMAS: But with a statement like that...
SNOW: Well, because it's pretty clear from the press accounts that nobody attached six figures to the number that appeared.
WASHINGTON — About 100,000 antiwar protesters from around the country converged Saturday on the National Mall, galvanized by opposition to President Bush's plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq.
Bush says the troop increase is needed to secure Baghdad so the nascent Iraqi government has breathing room to function. He reaffirmed his commitment to the strategy in a phone conversation Saturday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
"He understands that Americans want to see a conclusion to the war in Iraq, and the new strategy is designed to do just that," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
"This is his scream that his child is dead. The war needs to stop," Melida Arredondo, who had rushed home from work when she heard the news, said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America."