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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ok. I realize that many serious writers on Daily Kos are writing about many serious things. Democrats and the 2008 elections, the Iraq War, the Libby trial, etc. and so forth. And I read those diaries and invariably learn something from those diaries. So much so, in fact, that I don't really even try to write about those subjects given that I have no particular expertise, only opinion, and that is best relegated to comments and not to my writings.

What I write about is largely observational. I see or do something that strikes me of particular interest and I write it up. Yesterday, feeling pretty lazy, I was looking for something to watch, and utilized my digital cable's "On-Demand" feature. As I poked around with what HBO had to offer on-demand, I landed on Alexandra Pelosi's Friends of God, a documentary about the present-day evangelical Christian movement. Believe me - there's plenty in this documentary to write about. But I'm going to focus on one specific area: Answers in Genesis (AiG).

More.

Picture an auditorium full of cute, bright-faced, wide-eyed children ranging in age from about four to twelve. They are watching whatever is going on the stage with rapt attention. I mean, they are riveted. Here's what they're listening to:

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]


Aha!! So that explains this guy's irrational departure from all things scientific - evolution is (GASP) a way to explain things WITHOUT GOD!! It's an attack, I tell you - an assault on Christianity!! The INSTRUCTOR is Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis (AiG). Pelosi's documentary lets us first know in a caption at the bottom of the screen that Ham speaks to 10s of thousands of children each year. A later caption also informs us that nearly 54 million people over the age of 18 do not believe in evolution. After Ham's portion of this is over, we cut to a pretty adult woman lamenting that "most people think Christians are ignorant". She then goes on to explain how the Bible and Noah's Ark just makes more sense, and that it's easier to explain to her children. So was the stork - just sayin'.

Then we get to Buddy Davis, who runs an AiG Workshop. He's an outdoorsy looking guy, with a bad Indiana Jones had and trim salt-and-pepper beard. He wears a guitar on a strap around his neck as he holds a microphone:

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.

CHILDREN: No.

DAVIS: No. It's a brand new word. Can I look in the Bible boys and girls, and can I find the word "computer"?

CHILDREN: No.

DAVIS: No. It's a brand new word and the word "dinosaur" is a brand new word, too.


Ok - so if the full-on smear of science directed at young children isn't enough to curl your hair if it's straight, straighten it if it's curly, or grow it if you don't have any, we move to this great song Mr. Davis has to share with the children. You have to picture this guy - hat, beard, guitar, microphone, in front of a multi-purpose room full of children. The children are standing, clapping hoe-down style, singing along. On the screen behind him are pictures of Biblical-looking people leading dinosaurs strapped into harnesses pulling ox-carts. I'm not making this up. And then the pictures go to sauropods. And here's the song, ala something you'd hear on the Barney show:

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?


OMFG. Well, I guess so. And monkeys could fly out of my ass in about 30 seconds, but it's not very likely.

I am NOT a Biblical scholar. At all. I had never heard of the Behemoth before watching this documentary. So I googled Job 40:15. The issue is the "cedar tree" reference. The verses in question, from the King James Bible:

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.


So the Barney-inspired Behemoth-is-a-dinosaur song is automatically dishonest, because the verse it sites is different than what the verse says in the Bible. Although the difference is subtle, "His tail's like a cedar tree" is far and away different than "He moveth his tail like a cedar tree". And the cedar tree reference folks, is the crux of the issue for Creationists: because how could it be anything BUT a dinosaur when known animals of the time period discussed by science did NOT have tails "like a cedar tree"? Oy.

Here's what wikipedia has to say about the Great Behemoth Controversy:

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.

::snip::

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.


But who needs, science, right? If the Bible makes some vague reference to a "Behemoth" and no animals of the time had cedar tree-like tails, it MUST be a dinosaur! Watson, get my pen. I have to write this down in verse.

I wish I had a constructive point on which to end this diary. Suffice it to say that groups like AiG are out there actively training children to discount science. Tens of thousands of them, according to the documentary. And these kids are being trained (brainwashed?) at a young age. Many will undoubtedly carry this crippled, dogmatic view of the Bible as an absolute reference forward with them as they mature. And in that, their path as Christians will be crippled as will their path as informed human beings and members of society.

We surely haven't seen the last of the evolution "debate". In fact, I would guess that what we've seen thus far is only the first warning rumblings of a Bizarro-world fight yet to be waged in the future.

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You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

Friday, February 09, 2007

This was originally posted at Daily Kos where it got almost 700 comments, some of them hilarious.

I almost couldn't believe my ears this morning as I got dressed for work. I go about my morning routine with CNN's American Morning on in the background. I don't usually focus too heavily on what they're talking about unless it's hard news, but a brief mention of a story this morning caught my attention and left me literally disgusted.

If you would be so kind as to follow me, you can bear witness to the Great Vagina Controversy of 2007.

Here's the blurb from CNN's American Morning. They were doing a teaser for the 9am show, CNN Newsroom, hosted by Heidi Collins (transcript):
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.

Good morning.

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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.
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.

I googled and found that the southern state in question is Florida. From a short article covering the story:
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.

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.”
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 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.

::snip::

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.

::snip::

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?

::snip::

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.
But clearly, in Atlantic Beach Florida, Vaginas are the embodiment (hah) of evil.

Another thing that struck me specifically was the fact that the niece in question (from the complaint the theater received) can obviously read. If she can read, why the FUCK doesn't she know what a vagina is and that she has one??!! There is something fundamentally wrong with keeping a young woman who is obviously mature enough from know the appropriate anatomical name for the parts of her body. Does her family have euphamisms for ears? How about for eyes? Is not "vagina" the most approrpriate term for, well, a VAGINA??? Why is it that this girl should walk around thinking that it's called a "HOOHAA"?? I'm sure it has something to do with the fabulous "PEEPEE" to represent a penis, but the logic is escaping me at the moment.

So here you go, folks. Forward what follows to everyone you know who has a girl in their lives, from The Free Dictionary:
va·gi·na (v-jn)
n. pl. va·gi·nas or va·gi·nae (-n)
1. Anatomy
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.
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.

Update [2007-2-8 11:55:6 by RenaRF]: First, I removed my memory-based transcription of the piece on CNN Newsroom because the article and link I found references the specific language. No need to confuse everyone.

Second, I strong encourage everyone to write a polite note to the Atlantic Theater. You can access their email by clicking this link. I would suggest a note encouraging the theater not to play into a destructive trend towards keeping girls and women ignorant about their bodies. I would reinforce that "vagina" is absolutely the most apporpriate anatomical term, and question why it needed to be removed.

Update [2007-2-8 15:16:58 by RenaRF]: Ok. Brusek posted this email reply from the theater in the comments:
Hi,

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!!!

Thanks,
Kim (assistant manager)
-------------- Original message --------------
From: info@atlantictheatres.com

Tom Fallon

Managing Director
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".

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You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 7:54 AM 9 comments links to this post
Tuesday, February 06, 2007

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos, My Left Wing and ePluribus Media)

I have an hour or so to post this diary so forgive me any misspellings in my haste to get this done and posted.

I generally watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann at 8pm on weeknights. Last night, however, I was out running errands at that time. MSNBC is not included in my Sirius Radio news coverage, so I was stuck listening to CNN's Paula Zahn Now (which I usually dislike). I heard an interview that almost made me drive off the road as I was traveling from point A to point B.

The subject was the cervical cancer vaccine. The arguments against this vaccine constitute some of the most egregious dreck I have ever heard. Follow me.

I had to wait until today after some morning meetings for the transcript to be available. Let's start there.

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.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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.


Oh yes? I beg to differ. The school district where I live requires the following:

- A physical examination prior to registration
- DPT, DTaP, Td, DT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus)
- Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis)
- OPV, IPV (polio)
- MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
- Hepatitis B
- Varicella (chicken pox)
- HIB (Haemophilus influenzae type B)
- PCV (Pneumococcal 7-valent conjugate)
- Tuberculosis screening

All of the above represent an attempt by the state to safeguard students from communicable diseases that are a danger to the public health and welfare. Should a parent be able to decide that their child receive or not receive a vaccination and place another child at risk in so doing? I don't think so.

Continuing:

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.


BINGO. It's the sex, stupid!! So even though researchers are working hard to develop a vaccine to prevent or lessen the instances of HIV contraction, kids shouldn't be able to have it because (GASP!!) it's promoting SEX!!! (cue fire and brimstone)

Now get a load of the discussion with the panel of experts:

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.

ZAHN: Sure.


I don't know what I think about Page's argument. Frankly, if the fundamentalist MINORITY in the US weren't screaming bloody murder about protecting women from CANCER for Christ's sake, there wouldn't be an education issue (as Page put it).

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...

MADDOW: Yes.

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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.


THANK YOU Rachel Maddow. If you would like to thank her as well, you can use this form. Maddow nets it out - it's all about dirty nasty SEX and a vaccine somehow giving carte blanche to young women to have it.

ZAHN: But you know it will be a little bit of both of them.

(CROSSTALK)

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.

(CROSSTALK)

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.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW: How can a vaccine for cancer be wrong?


And here we go.

WALL: There's -- there's no -- there's no -- there was no parental -- you're usurping parental rights. You're usurping the legislature.

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: Make it an opt-in, as opposed to an opt-out. There is an opt-out provision, of course.


I'm not a legal expert - but I found this article that talks generally about the legal basis for mandatory vaccines and it states pretty clearly that the process and procedure is ALWAYS to opt-out, NOT opt-in. What a ridiculous argument on Wall's behalf, that flies in the face of how every other religious or moral issue with a vaccine is handled.

ZAHN: Sure.

WALL: But why not make it an opt-in, as opposed to an opt-out.


See above. See the law. See a bunch of cases. But most importantly, see a shrink - because that's the only thing that's going to help you explain why you don't want to protect women from contracting cancer.

MADDOW: Would you do that for measles? Would you do that for rubella? Would you do that for polio? Would you do that for...

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: This has to do with a very sensitive...

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW: With sex.

WALL: Absolutely -- issue...

MADDOW: Right.

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?

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: That's not for the government to decide.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: If you want to see how it's working so far, I want you all to look at the screen right now...


Here's where it gets good. Facts are a bitch, aren't they?

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?

(CROSSTALK)

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.

(CROSSTALK)

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.


Point of fact: Hepititis B is not transmitted in the air yet is mandated in (I think) 35 states.

MADDOW: But look at that figure.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: When you're talking about something that is more personal -- well, look at the figures...

MADDOW: This is -- it's endemic.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW: If you're a teenager having sex, basically, you're going to get HPV.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: Just to play devil's advocate, which I'm very good at...

WALL: But what if you're not having sex?

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: What if you're not having sex?

(CROSSTALK)

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...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Hang on one second. The manufacturers of the vaccine say, that's a good thing...


Oooh!! Here come those pesky facts again.

MADDOW: Yes.

ZAHN: ... because they said that the vaccine is more effective when you're inoculated before you start having sex.

(CROSSTALK)

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.


Ah... So it ISN'T about sex? It's about the relative newness of the drug itself and the safety of the drug? I thought it was about family decisions and the distinction between opting in and opting out... Silly me.

The fundamentalist Christian groups who oppose this vaccine are essentially making this argument: If you weren't having sex, you wouldn't contract HPV and possibly contract and die from cervical cancer. And if you ARE having sex and get HPV and contract cervical cancer, you deserve to die.

How's that for values? Jesus weeps.

You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 12:38 PM 2 comments links to this post
Monday, February 05, 2007

All right - I apologize in advance for the brevity of this diary but my GOD - Tony Snow's press briefing just literally made me wish I could jump through the television and strangle him.

There's only a short part that made me ridiculously angry, and I'll transcribe it after the flip.

From White House Press Briefing, January 29, 2007 (live transcription):

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.


Where do I start?

First - what kind of bullying-by-innuendo tactic WAS IT to bring up Jane Fonda like that? I don't even have a word to describe how ridiculous and disgusting it is to write off /every single participant/ in that peace march by boiling your first comment down to what he said about Fonda. What a fucking asshole.

I'm going to make the assumption that Snow made some remarks either off-handedly or in a gaggle to the effect that the crowds were "smaller than expected". First, I'd like to know: WTF does that have to do with anything? If the crowd /was/ smaller than 100K, does that make the crowd "small"? Is 99,000 small? Is there some reason that differing predictions and reports of turnout completely obscures the total repudiation of Bush's Iraq war and policy? What a joke.

And finally, Snow must not consider The LA Times a member of the press:

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.


They just mentioned six figures right there.

So I'd like you guys to do something, and it won't take long. Send a leetle note to Tony "Fucking Asshole" Snow. Tell him the following:

1. Your attempt to distract from the horrendously failing wildly unpopular Iraq war by bringing up Jane Fonda was ridiculous.
2. How many people is enough people to make a protest march "significant" in your book? Is that number, in fact, /always/ higher than the number that turns out?
3. Do you consider Fox News the only real "press source" in the country? What about The Los Angeles Times?

Thank you, Tony, for giving a big middle finger to the 60%+ of Americans who think your boss and therefore you, by extraction, suck. Good luck going back to a career in broadcasting.

Send to:
Comments@whitehouse.gov

That email address is going to have to do because cowardly Tony doesn't seem to have a dedicated press email address.

Douchebag.

You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 10:06 PM 2 comments links to this post

I have kind of a heavy job. I guess I should say that it's not so much heavy as it is incredibly busy. I wear multiple hats in my job which means that there's always something that needs to be getting done that does not, in fact, always get done. My home life is pretty similar - in addition to outside-of-work pursuits (in politics and music), I run the house - finances, upkeep, maintenance, decisions, you name it. It's certainly not a unique situation and it's one I imagine the vast majority of people reading live as well.

So when I decide to take and dedicate and entire weekend day to something that doesn't involve getting the myriad other somethings done, I have a good reason. That's why I spent my day at the Washington DC Peace March yesterday. But who knew that the message we were trying to send had already been received therefore making it entirely unnecessary to be there at all? I could have been doing laundry and paying the bills. Who knew. I'll elaborate after the fold.

Being at the march all day I was unable to watch the coverage of it. I was so bone tired (along with about 59 other Kossacks) when I got home that I had only enough energy to post a diary with the pictures from the march and some minimal commentary. I hung with the comments and then called it quits for the night when my brain finally hit the wall.

So it was with great anticipation this morning that I woke up and turned on the news. I wanted to see their video coverage of the march and the throngs of people that turned out and took to the streets demanding the end of the war (aside, great photos from The Washington Post can be found at this link). In fairness, CNN did cover it, though with a little less zeal and exposure than I would have liked. And then they followed the coverage with this comment from President Bush (delivered via a spokesperson and linked via North Jersey Media Group:

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.


So you see, he understands the need for a conclusion and, by extraction, acknowledges American citizens' desires to bring the troops home, and his new surge strategy of sending MORE troops is designed to do just that, to conclude the war and somehow lead to fewer troops.

I get it - it's like the theory that you have to spend money, even money you don't have, to make money. Who knew?

I would have definitely stayed home and paid attention to other life priorities if I'd realized the excellent brillance of this surge thing, a plan that essentially made the efforts of 100,000+ marchers entirely unnecessary. Who knows - I may have even had time to sit down and do nothing. I sure wish he would have been this clear in his magnificent strategic thinking before I gave up a day to take to the streets.

Someone should really tell the good news to Carlos Arredondo. You may not remember him, but back in 2004, upon receiving the news that his son, a Marine, had been killed in Najaf, he locked himself into the Marine van that carried news of his son's death and set it on fire.

"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."


Arredondo suffered severe burns in the 2004 incident. By all appearances from a Google search, Arrodondo has turned up at virtually every single major anti-war protest since his recovery, including yesterday's march (photo of Arrodondo is available at the Washington Post Gallery link provided earlier). I'm sure when he finds out that Bush agrees with him totally and that surging is necessary to bring everyone home, despite the obvious contradiction in logic, he would be relieved that he can finally lay down his cross.

2nd photo courtesy of carneasadaburrito. Thank you!

So I guess I've learned my lesson. Our President has it all under control. He understands. He gets "it". He's the decider, and he's decided that he's heard the American people and the countless Carlos Arrondondo's in this country and that sending more troops to allow for fewer and fewer troops is the way to go.

So I sure regret taking to the streets yesterday.

Note: The 1st photo is courtesy of photographer Martin Fuchs. It can be found in its original context here. Martin has graciously granted me permission to use this photo. His excellent work can be found at Journal of a Photographer.

You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!


I had originally planned to simply post these pictures to the comments of Timroff's diary, but there are too many pictures and too many comments in that diary already. So I'm going to take a crack at this myself.

For those who had been previously living under a rock and have only now just surfaced and your first news is what you see here on Daily Kos, there was a Peace March today in Washington DC. Many, many sister demonstrations were planned across the country, but the big one was in Washington.

After the fold, my pictures (and be warned - there are about 38 of them) and some commentary on the day.

First, I did this march's photo journal differently than I did the last one. The '05 march pictures were kind of navel-gazey in that most of the pictures were of fellow bloggers. Since we had so many people with so many cameras covering the Blogger's pre-event and marching, I decided to focus on random things that caught my eye among the throngs of people who attended.

As you know from Timroff's diary, we all met up at Starbuck's close to the rally area an hour before the rally was to begin. I got there at about 9:15 and bloggers were already in attendance. My last accurate headcount put our total, at the start of the actual marching, at aminimun of 58. Pretty damned impressive. I'll note also that in our group were folks from Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Albama, and Iowa, in addition to the local DC/MD/VA attendees. Some rode 24 hours on buses to get there for this - truly putting their mouths, bodies and especially their feet where their principles were. I was proud to be associated with Daily Kos when I saw how committed many of these folks were.

So to the photos, in no particular order. I'll do individual pictures or groups of related pictures preceeded by a little bit of contextual commentary.

Washington DC Peace March, January 27th, 2007

A couple of children on the march caught my eye. The first young girl had obviously hand-made her own sign, and I had her show me both sides. She's our future leadership, and therefore the future looks bright. I find it sad, though, that even a child knows what our President and his administration don't seem to realize:





I was impressed with these two young boys, who had obviously gone out and gotten rocks that they had written "Peace" on in marker. They were selling these for $1 a piece, with proceeds to be donated back to the march organizers. I bought one.



Some of the signs were incredibly creative:









Some just made me feel encouraged about the future:



You can't tell from the picture, but the peace sign was covered in glitter and it shone brillantly in the sunshine:



Some signs were more than just signs - they were paper-puppets and headgear:







These signs told about where the carrier was from. I saw many signs from many states across the country.





I came across these guys who clearly have a high opinion of Jim Webb:





I liked this lady and her friend. It reminded me of the real lives living in worry about the welfare of a loved one in pursuit of a senseless, immoral war:



My favorite display in the whole march was the "Backbone". It was literally a backbone, many feet long. On it was written "impeach, indict, convict". It took many people to carry the backbone, and it was carried high over their (and our) heads:





The anarchists were out in force. They marched before the march actually began, changing "the streets belong to us". They were marching on streets that had not yet been closed. I saw them much, much later doing the same on Constitution Avenue long after the march had concluded and streets had been re-opened:





This many really stuck with me. He walked slowly, with a cane, but he walked:



There were these people who had this bicycle decked out with drums and percussion instruments who went around and grooved for peace during the rally:





There were a few others that I liked as well:





And here are the last ones, just general crowd shots as we made our way through:











And there, folks, you have it. Timroff was correct - it was really difficult to get going once the march actually started. I've heard the estimates of attendance, and I can't say how many were there - but we ringed the Capitol. We were /packed/ in with each other, all marching, all speaking out against the war.

Oh... and the counter-demonstrators were so ridiculous as to be insignificant. There were about 40 of them (I'm being generous) who were fenced off way back from the march route carrying signs like "Saddam was bad" and "I support our troops".

As if we don't. As if we didn't stand and march for six straight hours /because/ we support them.

You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 10:02 PM 9 comments links to this post