Friday, November 26, 2004

Have a happy Buy Nothing Day

Today, Friday November 26, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year, is also Buy Nothing Day in the US. In the UK, Buy Nothing Day will be on Saturday the 27th.
  • Be at the mall early to be at the front of the shopper stampede when the shops open? Nope.
  • Go to your favorite online sites and use your holiday discount coupons for a pre-emptive Xmas shopping strike? I don't think so.
  • Stand in line at the local big box electronics store for the latest big hype toy/game/movie release, and then afterwards go for the Starbucks grande vanilla latte? Nuh uh.


The release of the new movie Christmas With the Kranks, based on the John Grisham bestseller Skipping Christmas, is another manifestation of the growing trend towards simplification and especially away from the overweening commercialization of the Christmas season. It's kind of at cross purposes, tho...

"OK, here's the pitch: we take this huge Grisham bestseller about rejecting the over-commercialization and mindlesss consumerism of Christmas and we make it into a big holiday-season film with millions earmarked for ads so millions will shell out 8$ apiece to see it. Yeah! That's the ticket!"

Here's an assignment for you. Compare and contrast these two news stories on Yahoo today:

Some Americans trim more than the tree


Bargain shoppers get early holiday start


OK, now answer me this: Am I just delusional, or did anybody else notice that the majority, almost all of the 'simplify' stories and examples in the first story came from Blue states?
And practically all of the 'shopping frenzy' quotes and examples in the second story came from Red states? [Or, if not in a Red state, then from a Wal-Mart in a Blue state?]

Hmmmm. What can we conclude from this, moral values-wise?


Being together with loved ones, not buying things, is the true spirit of Christmas?

Or:

If you don't spend enough on Christmas presents, you'll make baby Jesus cry?


Happy BND everybody.

This post also appears here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Eat turkey if you like


It is almost Thanksgiving. That means it is time for a yearly rite. No, not buying cranberry sauce. The tradition I refer to is one begun by the animal rights movement. Each year about this time, animal rights organizations publish claims that eating turkey is injurious in one way or another. Their objective is, of course, to persuade the public that they should decide what other people can eat. Turkeys would be excluded from the list they would email us, I gather. Maybe we would be allowed lobster on our birthdays, though. This material is typical of the trend.

Press release from D.E.L.T.A. Rescue:

You're Eating Cats and Dogs for Thanksgiving!

GLENDALE, Calif., Nov. 22, 2004 -- As millions of Americans feast this Thanksgiving, they have no idea what their turkey ate before ending up in the supermarket.

It is unimaginable to consider that our holiday main course may have been fed the bodies of dead pets, but according to actor and animal welfare activist Leo Grillo, rendered animals end up in the feed lots of the nation's livestock and poultry industry.

Rendering is the gruesome practice of "cooking" the bodies of euthanized pets from animal shelters, veterinary offices, horses, other livestock, and "road kill" to produce animal protein meal and "yellow grease". These products are then either sent to Asia (where they are used as feed for farm salmon, eel or shrimp returning to the US for human consumption) or used as a dietary supplement in the poultry and livestock facilities across the country.

And the chemicals used to euthanize the animals, the drugs used to treat the animals if they were sick, may ultimately find their way back into the human food chain too.

"Don't forget the diseases those poor animals died from, the cancers ... the bacteria and toxins in their decomposing bodies ... and we wonder why we have so much cancer," said Grillo. "What we as consumers don't understand is that the food we eat, from hamburgers, to fish and shrimp, to milk and cheese; contain the bodies of our dead pets and the chemicals, drugs and
diseases that they took with them."

This is not one of those mocking attacks on the animal rights movement that the writer ends by urging readers to go out for a nice, thick, juicy medium--rare steak. I don't eat beef. Or pork. Or chicken. Or turkey. (I really liked turkey. Still miss it after all these years.) I've been a semi-vegetarian since college. Furthermore, I do not detest the animal rights movement. I believe it does some good by publicizing abuses of animals -- such as not enough space in pens -- that lead to reforms. But, unfortunately, the animal rights movement undermines the good it does by lying and its occasional violence.

I wish people would not publish material like this press release, mainly because the allegations are not true. Fowl are fed grains. Sometimes drugs to encourage fast growth or prevent disease are added to their feed. It is illegal to include tainted stockyard debris, though that occurred in the past. Renderers mainly process large animals, such as cows and horses. Since the last Mad Cow Disease outbreak, including the bodies of dead animals in feed is under scrutiny. New rules, not yet finalized, will prohibit it. The claim that Thanksgiving turkey eaters will be dining on cats and dogs is false and fatuous. D.E.L.T.A Rescue apparently thinks people are both ignorant and vapid. Stupid enough to believe lies about what turkeys are fed. Vacuous enough to shove away that drumstick at the thought that it is somehow Fido or Puffball.

Furthermore, activists such as these ignore two important aspects of the decision-making about diet:


~ People are naturally omnivorous. That is not going to change, though a minority will choose to be vegetarian.


~ People have much of their autonomy stripped from them in modern society. They should be free to make their own decisions about what to eat, within reason.


Lou Grillo would serve the public better by publishing intelligent, well-written, and, true material about how Americans can make the lives of both food animals and pets easier.

What does a vegetarian do for the holidays? Make do. Tomorrow, I will eat vegetables, bread and dessert while ignoring the enticing aroma of the turkey and dressing. Fortunately, I like cranberry sauce. It will be my consolation prize. This evening, Trader Joe's gave away free packages of bell peppers. (They would have perished while the store was closed.) I will have to find a recipe for stuffing peppers that does not use hamburger.

The more responsible people in the animal rights movement mean well. But some seem to get involved because of the opportunity to lord it over others. A participant I discuss the topic with from time to time says he is becoming annoyed with some of the tactics being used himself. He will not be participating in a monthly protest in front of a doctor's office, anymore. Her offense? She conducted a medical study in which she used three house cats.

So, I am shirking my supposed duty as a vegetarian. I will not harangue all those meat eaters out there. What you eat is your business. Neither I nor anyone else should try to mislead you with disinformation about foods. Enjoy your Thanksgiving meal -- turkey and all.

Reasonably related

•After pressure from consumers and health care officials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration produced less meat industry-friendly rules for what animals can be fed in July. I blogged the controversy here.

•You can help make the food supply safer by urging the Bush administration to act on those delayed federal rules. Write your Congressperson.


Note: This entry also appeared at Mac-a-ro-nies.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Women: You'll Have to Wait Until 2054 for Wage Parity

Girl, the local morning news, which I seldom watch, just reported some good news for women working in Washington, DC. According to a report released yesterday by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, women here make 92 cents for every dollar a white man makes. Woo Woo! Smell me.

Considering this area boasts the highest number of federal workers per capita and that federal wages by job type are more highly regulated, I'm wondering why the gap isn't smaller. But, I should stop complaining. You see, the District of Columbia ranks the highest in the IWPR's state-by-state poll. Maryland is #2.

The study focused on "political participation, employment and earnings, social and economic autonomy, access to sex education and family-planning resources and general health" and the gains women have made in the last 40 years in each of those areas.

According to Camille Ricketts write-up for Knight-Ridder (hold on to your hats and glasses, ladies!), the south shows the greatest inequities between women and men.

Minnesota, Vermont, Connecticut and Washington are the best states for women, concluded the Institute for Women's Policy Research, an arm of George Washington University. That is based on the group's analysis of political participation, employment and earnings, social and economic autonomy, access to sex education and family-planning resources and general health.

By those measures, the toughest states for women are Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Florida rated a ``dishonorable mention,'' one step above the lowest-ranked group.


Heidi Hartmann, the institute's president, said that the greatest disparities are in pay. And noted those differences are even greater when race is a factor.

`Wherever you go in America, women are shortchanged,'' she said. ``And women of color fare far worse than white women.''

American women earn 76 cents for every dollar men earn, the institute found. If the gap shrinks at the current rate, it will persist for 50 years.

Black women make 63 cents for every dollar a white man earns and Latino women make just over 50 cents, according to the study.


So, do you think Condi is going to make as much as Colin did at State? I wonder how much Warren Christopher and George Schultz made when they had that job.

Do you think there's a correlation between "moral values" and pay equity? Is there a way for Democats to capitalize on wage inequity in the "red" states?

Lots of questions. I'm curious to hear what you think.

Monday, November 15, 2004

WE DO NOT CONCEDE

If you cherish your right to choose, go to this site and do as many of the actions as you can!

http://www.donotconcede.com/

Monday, November 08, 2004

Food for Thought

[This entry may also be found at Rox Populi.]

I have a BIG confession to make.

I am a food snob. A big one.

The reason I bring this up is that Thanksgiving is upon us. It's Thanksgiving that can fill a real food snob, especially one who seldom gets the chance of making the main meal because the mother-in-law just won't have it, with dread.

When say I'm a food snob, I'm not mocking the poor or recent immigrants. I would much prefer to eat tamales, perogies, or home-made mac 'n' cheese than digest the swill many better-heeled Americans place on their holiday table. It's also not to say that I require fancy lettuces for my salads, real champagne from France, wild rice, shitake mushrooms or organic, free-range fowl. These things are all good, but you don't have to use them to please my palate.

What exactly do I mean, then? There are a few dishes and ingredients, concocted and used in the 60s and 70s, that have become mainstays at Thanksgiving at many homes that make me want to wretch. They include canned gravy, ambrosia salad, anything made with Miracle Whip, and (and this is the kicker) that dumbass casserole:

Ingredients:

1 can (10-3/4 oz.) cream of mushroom soup

1 tsp. soy sauce

3 cups French style green beans (can or frozen)

1 can French fried onions

1 dash white pepper


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a 1-quart casserole dish stir in mushroom soup and soy sauce. Add green beans and stir to blend. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Top with french fried onions and bake for 5 more minutes.


Bleech!

I am convinced that a whole generation of people learned to cook from the recipes Kraft used to publish in the centerspread of TV Guide. People -- if a holiday is meant to celebrate the bounty of the harvest, perhaps you should use some fresh ingredients.

What are my other Thanksgiving pet-peeves?
  • Canned Cranberry Sauce - It takes a maximum of 10-minutes to make cranberry sauce and that's if you're using fancy incredients like crystalized ginger. Otherwise, it's about 5-minutes.
  • Too Much Salt - You can always add more, but you can't take it away.
  • When the Cook Acts Like a Martyr - Sit down and eat with the rest of us, for God's sake. We don't want to eat those shitty, frozen rolls anyway.
  • Too Many Dishes - As a good guest, I make myself try a little of each thing that's made, but you make it very complicated when you make 20 different things.
  • Mushy Stuffing/Dressing - Making stuffing or dressing correctly takes a talent. If you're not up to the task, leave it off the menu.


Well, those are just a few of my pet-peeves. I know you have you own, which you can leave here

A Plea to all My Liberal American Blog Sisters

My son (who is knowledgeable about how to do such things) has just started a legitimate online petition that will go the the Democratic National Committee. If you think it's worthwhile, maybe you can pass it along to your Democratic friends who agree that Howard Dean should be given a major leadership role in what we hope will be a re-energized Democratic Party.
http://www.givedrdeanthednc.us/

Be sure to check out his links at the end of the article and sign the petition as well. This is for real. My son, AKA theonetruebix, established the website and the petition, and I vouch for its authenticity. (His "experiment in citizen journalism," the Portland Communique is given a page and half in the recently published The Power of Many by Christian Crumlish.)

If you support the efforts of the petition, please share the petition with all others you know who might also agree.

I remain, "delighting in dissent,"
Elaine of Kalilily
Self-Proclaimed Resident Crone of Blogdom
http://www.kalilily.net/

Saturday, November 06, 2004

If You Can't Beat 'em, Join 'em

Over at Digby's place, guest blogger Thumb has announced that he's seen the light, abandoned the false, Democrat hedonist liberal elite, and converted to the party of all real Americans. His testimony is so forceful and so... so... well gosh, it's just so plain, old-fashioned, Plain Old-Fashioned that I 'm joining him right this moment. No time to lose! I bask in the good old, plain old happy smothering warmth of Moral Values. Maybe you can too! ....Perhaps. ...Possibly. If you're the right kind of American. ...A real American. Read along, moral ones!

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.


So the people voting for Bush told exit pollers that moral values are their #1 issue.

Because the Republicans are obviously superior in both numbers and cause, and their values oriented agenda should no doubt be a boon to humankind, there's obviously only one thing left to do at this point. Convert. Therefore, in an act of supreme solidarity to our new national conservative alliance and their emphasis on values, I would just like to say, they're right. I'm ready to sign up.

But first I need to declare that I too no longer care about losing millions of American jobs. I too no longer care about health care. Or social security. I also no longer care about education. I no longer care what happens to the poor, the elderly or the millions of American children growing up in poverty, despair and hopelessness. I no longer care that the US ranks a lowly 41st in infant mortality. I no longer care that the gap between rich and poor is approaching third world levels. I no longer care that Fortune 500 corporations can avoid paying taxes by opening an offshore mailbox and I no longer care that the working class will be forced pick up the difference. I no longer care that we've taken a record fiscal surplus and in three years turned it into the largest debt in the history of our country or that it will be our children, and their children, that will have to pay it back. I also no longer care how many Americans die at the hands of terrorists (as long as they're dying over there and not here at home) or how many thousands of foreign civilians die in the course of our projecting American global hegemony. I no longer care what the rest of the world thinks of America, as long as they know to fear us. I no longer care about the science of potential medical breakthroughs nor do I care about slowing the spread of AIDS nor whether we have sufficient supplies of safe vaccines. I no longer care that the number of abortions is on the rise (though I'll pound my chest and pretend that I do) because I no longer care about birth control, sex education or family planning. I no longer care about our environment and whether we're allowing industries to poison our water, our air and ultimately our food supply, and I no longer care about the consequences of releasing massive amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and its likelihood of accelerating global warming. I no longer care that our Bill of Rights, once enshrined to protect our personal freedoms and liberty, is being stripped down or that our 200 year old Constitutional protections are being traded for a false sense of security.

So what do I share with our new majority as my #1 concern? Values. I care about moral values.

Now that I've completed the switch to the other side moral values is all that matters to me. Moral values. Yes sir, I care enough that sufficient numbers of people share these moral values to make sure that we elect politicians that will put these moral values into law (even if it takes rigging the new electronic voting machines) and that those politicians in turn appoint judges guaranteed to ensure that everyone else is forced to live by these same moral values. Now some of you remaining Unbelievers may ask, "But if everything you no longer care about isn't a moral value, what are your moral values?" Easy. The single most important moral value, overriding all other concerns, is that two people of the same sex are blocked from achieving secular legal recognitions that could in any way be similar to that enjoyed by heterosexual couples. Health and survivor benefits? Forget it. Employment protection? Come on. Inheritance rights? No way. Hospital visitation? Get real. Adoption? GOD FORBID!

You few, final remaining Democrats, moderates, greens and libertarians really need to get onboard the bandwagon. This new stripped down moral value is so easy I don't know why I didn't think of this myself earlier. Effortless morality. That's the ticket. It's like a gift from God. Now let's jam it down everyone's throat.

And God bless the New American Morality.

Crossposted at Tild~

Friday, November 05, 2004

It's not over till the fat lady burns the Constitution.

A note to my liberal friends here:

I know things seem hopeless. We fought so hard, we gave it our all, and Bush won anyway. More people voted against Bush than against any sitting president in history, but -- unfortunately -- it's also true that more people voted for Bush than for any president in history. The young people voted, and it wasn't enough. Minority voters turned out in record numbers, and it wasn't enough. It's so easy to throw up our hands and say, "Oh well. We tried." But please resist the urge to be a defeatist. It's so unbecoming.

There's plenty to fear:
Democrats have to deal with the fact that President Bush is now no longer a minority president, however slim his majority may have been. They also need to contend with his expanded senate majorities. But this is what I fear will be a growing pattern in this second term: an effort to use a narrowly secured majority not only to govern, even govern aggressively, but to make institutional changes that strip away the existing powers and rights of large minorities. These formal and informal checks and balances constitute the governmental soft-tissue that allows our political system to function.
There's plenty to mourn:
Maybe this time the voters chose what they actually want: Nationalism, pre-emptive war, order not justice, "safety" through torture, backlash against women and gays, a gulf between haves and have-nots, government largesse for their churches and a my-way-or-the-highway President.
But there is also plenty to make us hopeful:
Democrat Barack Obama trounced his right-wing opponent to pick up a senate seat in Illinois. Despite voting for George Bush by a 20% margin, Montanans elected a Democrat as governor... Perhaps most importantly, nationwide, the progressive movement came together in an unprecedented way and mobilized millions of new voters to go to the polls. Liberals and progressives united, and millions of people gave time and money in an effort to swing the election.
Be glad that so many people became involved in the political process. We can't lose those people, can't let them think that their efforts were for naught, can't afford to return to the 1990s, which hung under a cloud of taking everything for granted. I'm not especially optimistic about the next four years. I agree with Paul Krugman:
I don't hope for more and worse scandals and failures during Mr. Bush's second term, but I do expect them. The resurgence of Al Qaeda, the debacle in Iraq, the explosion of the budget deficit and the failure to create jobs weren't things that just happened to occur on Mr. Bush's watch. They were the consequences of bad policies made by people who let ideology trump reality.
As responsible citizens, we can no longer let "ideology trump reality." We can't let people continue to vote against their own best interests. So I've made a decision.

It's time to stop over-politicizing everything and instead focus on educating people to make wiser political choices. I'm convinced that if people were more educated about the implications of their choices, they would vote more wisely. I don't want this to sound condescending. But a few days ago, I saw a television reporter interviewing an self-proclaimed undecided voter. The conversation went something like this:
Reporter: So, have you decided who you are voting for yet?
Voter: Well, I was undecided just yesterday, but I think I've made up my mind to vote for Bush.
Reporter: Why? [Good question. -ed.]
Voter: Well, there's just something I don't like about Kerry. I can't quite put my finger on it -- it's just something that rubs me the wrong way.
These undecided voters are the ones who -- in many ways -- decided the outcome of the election. If people are making choices that are not based on a full understanding of issues, then how can an election truly be fair?

Here is my proposal: The next four years will be bad news politically for fair-minded Americans. I don't want to waste breath or ink pleading with a government that has secured not only a Republican president but majorities in the House and the Senate. Instead, I want to launch a campaign to educate America. I want to raise money to give voters the facts about Iraq, the "war on terror," gay marriage, Roe v. Wade, Social Security, the Patriot Act, Halliburton, healthcare, tax cuts for the wealthy, and Bush's "fiscal house of cards." I want there to be "WAKE UP" commercials all year round, not just around election time. I want to mail pamphlets, make websites, and send speakers to schools and churches and public squares. I want to shake the American people out of their zombie trance and let them know what they've been missing -- I bet they'll be pissed.

(Cross-posted at Fire & Ice.)

sashinka | observation orientated, with a twist of lime

I am about as angry as I've ever been. That is all.

sashinka | observation orientated, with a twist of lime

I am about as angry as I've ever been. That is all.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Push Back or Get Out of My Way

I'm pushing back at www.kalilily.net

Please feel free to use my"Push Back or Get of My Way" image. I would put it here if I could figure out how to insert it from my own server.