Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Bulwer-Lytton Awards Winners Are Announced

The Bulwer-Lytton Awards for bad fiction are in! I think I might take a crack at this next year. Here is the winner, written by Dan McKay of Fargo, ND. He compared a woman's breasts to carburetors.

"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual."

Go to the link to see the runners-up. All of them are hilarious.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Speak to the Women in Congress!

Ask Roberts

What would you like to hear women in Congress ask Judge Roberts? Here's your chance - go to that link and let them know!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

War? What War?

I've finally figured out why the Bush administration didn't bother to properly equip our soldiers in Iraq: We're not fighting a war - we're in a "struggle." And who needs body armor and armored vehicles for a measly struggle? I'm referring to Bush's latest sloganeering effort, giving the "global war on terror" a spanking new name: "global struggle against violent extremism." And that brings me to my latest poem:

War? What War?
By Madeleine Begun Kane

The war on terror's going bad,
So what's a Prez to do?
He simply calls it something else.
The "struggle" has debuted.

Bush starts a war without a plan.
A needless war, to boot.
And when it fails, his course is clear...

The rest of my War? What War? poem is here. And my audio version of this post is here.

And in case you missed it, my Working Stiffed job hunting humor is here and my audio version of Working Stiffed is here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

H. Res. 382 - Protection Orders

Back on March 25, 2005 I wrote about the case of Jessica Gonzales who was suing the town of Castle Rock, Colorado for not enforcing a protection order against her ex-husband, who abducted and murdered her three daughters while she pleaded for assistance. On June 27, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that she did not have a "property interest" in police protection, as her lawyers had contended, because the police have wide discretion in what to do and "a benefit is not a protected entitlement if officials have discretion to grant or to deny it."

While I cannot fault the logic behind it, this ruling was a blow to domestic violence programs which have stressed restraining orders as the first line of defense for abused women and men.

Now the US House Of Representatives may get involved.
H.RES.382
Title: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the enforcement of restraining orders.
Sponsor: Rep Capps, Lois [Dem., CA-23] (introduced 7/25/2005)
Cosponsors (1) Rep Nadler, Jerrold [Dem., NY-8]
Latest Major Action: 7/25/2005 Referred to House committee.
Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.


This is not a proposed change in law. Rather, it is a resolution of opinion stating that the House disapproves of the Supreme Court ruling and suggests that the law be changed. Kudos to Representatives Capps and Nadler for bringing it to the attention of the legislature.

The full text of the legislation is now available.
HRES 382 IH
109th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. RES. 382
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the enforcement of restraining orders.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

July 25, 2005
Mrs. CAPPS (for herself and Mr. NADLER) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

RESOLUTION
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the enforcement of restraining orders.

Whereas nearly one-third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a boyfriend or husband at some point in their lives;

Whereas intimate partner violence tends to be a pattern, rather than a one-time occurrence;

Whereas domestic homicide is often the result of continuing abuse;

Whereas restraining orders are necessary to protect victims of violence from further abuse and decrease the risk of continuing abuse or homicide;

Whereas nearly half of all victims who obtain restraining orders are abused again;

Whereas restraining orders exist to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence and include explicit instructions that violation of such orders are cause for arrest;

Whereas law enforcement officials are directed to use every reasonable means to enforce a restraining order;

Whereas the Supreme Court's recent decision in Castle Rock v. Gonzales narrowed individuals' Federal court recourse against police for failing to enforce a restraining order; and

Whereas this decision highlights the need to better protect victims of domestic violence from violators of restraining orders: Now, therefore, be it


Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that Congress should act and encourage States to act--

(1) to ensure that restraining orders are uniformly enforced; and

(2) to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence from perpetrators.


Contact your representative to express your support.

(cross-posted at I See Invisible People)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Act now: protect 11 yo girl facing 3 years in prison for defending herself from bully

I saw an article about this and I couldn't believe it, so I went looking for more info, and sure enough, it's true.

Here is the link to the following article:

Fresno, CA: On April 29th, Maribel was playing on the sidewalk with her 6-year-old brother and other younger children, when boys rode by on their bikes. They started teasing her, calling her names and hitting her with water balloons. The 11-year-old girl threw a rock to defend herself as neighborhood boys pelted her, hitting one hard enough to make him bleed. The boy admitted to officers that he started the fight and was quickly released from the hospital after getting his head stitched up. The boy's family stated they did not want to press charges.
Regardless, 11-year-old Maribel is now being charged with felony assault.

An 11-year-old girl, acting in self-defence, should not be treated as a felon. We have a duty as people to prevent this from becoming a precedent.

Maribel has already spent five days in Juvenile hall, allowed one half-hour visit from her parents, and 30 days under house arrest.
Maximum sentance is up to three years in a state correctional facility.
Maribel's Lawyer says the prosecution is not interested in a deal.

This site was put in place to let the Fresno court system, and those around the country, know that this is not acceptable.
Act Now!

Click here for contact information and to sign the pledge & petition.

Emails to Maribel will be forwarded from Maribel@FreeMaribel.org
Snail mail can be sent C/O Richard A. Beshwate
2014 telare st
suite 414
Fresno Ca
93721

Americans United: Take Action - stop Roberts!

Oppose Roberts for Supreme court!

Please go to this action page at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and send letters to your congress people. It just takes a minute, and it's painless - unlike living in a country where the government limits your sex life, your religious expression, and your reproductive options. We have to stop this guy cold.

Tell your representatives that you won't go back to the 50's - The 1750's!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Shrub's SCOTUS Pick: Reproductive Rights Endangered

roberts.jpg From the San Diego Union-Tribune (from an Associated Press report):

Bush chose federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday as his first nominee for the Supreme Court, selecting a rock solid conservative whose nomination could trigger a tumultuous battle over the direction of the nation's highest court, a senior administration official said.

Bush offered the position to Roberts in a telephone call at 12:35 p.m. after a luncheon with the visting prime minister of Australia, John Howard. He was to announce it later with a flourish in a nationally broadcast speech to the nation.

Roberts has been on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since June 2003 after being picked for that seat by Bush.


Already, plans are on to protest the nomination. If you will be in DC tomorrow,check this out and attend, if you are so inclined:

JOIN the National Organization for Women (NOW), Wednesday, July 20, at 10:00 am for a demonstration against the nomination of anti-abortion rights John Roberts to the United States Supreme Court!

Dirksen Senate Office Building - Senate Swamp


Constitution and First St SE

The United States Senate must NOT confirm John Roberts. Let's show our support for women's rights.


So, who is this guy and what's behind the just-started furor?

Roberts serves on the US Court
of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
. A staunch conservative, the Buffalo, NY, native is reputed to be a quiet, thoughtful person who is an accompished orator. Roberts once was a law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, worked as a lawyer, and is a former deputy solicitor general.

According to a 2002 Buzzflash op-ed, he is, like SCOTUS also-ran Edith Clement, a Bush campaign-contributor:

John G. Roberts, Jr., the Hogan & Hartson partner nominated for the DC Circuit, also donated $1000 to Bush -- this really is starting to look like a cover charge -- with $3000 to other Republicans and $3900 to Hogan & Hartson's PAC. The PAC gave $136,000, aside from individual donations, and $30,000 in soft money. Roberts then donated $1000 to the Bush recount effort. Hogan & Hartson clients include Mobil Oil Corporation, 3M, and Hartford Accident & Indemnity.


And it appears Roberts is no friend to those who support reproductive rights. In one Supreme Court 1991 case during the reign of King George the Elder, Rust v. Sullivan, then-deputy solicitor general Roberts co-wrote a brief supporting the anti-choice government's wish to ban doctors in federally-funded family-planning programs from even discussing the alternative of abortion with patients. He also worked to overturn Roe v. Wade -- not once, but numerous times.

From the National Abortion Federation:

As an attorney in the Justice Departments of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Roberts repeatedly argued for the reversal of Roe v. Wade stating that there was "no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution" for the reasoning behind Roe. NAF believes that the appointment of Roberts will weaken the protections of Roe and its progeny. Numerous cases impacting the accessibility of abortion could come before this circuit, including administrative decisions such as the availability of mifepristone (RU-486).


Slate calls Roberts a hard-liner on the issue. Apparently, that is putting it mildly.

Additonally, the apparent nominee is someone with whom King George the Younger feels comfortable. That may be due, in part, to the fact that Roberts is seen as a jurist who supports giving the White House wide flexibility in its general operations and particularly in its handling of the so-called War on Terror.

Before his elevation to the DC Circuit Court, web site The Dossiers included Roberts in a list of "deeply conservative judges" the Bush administration intended and intends to foist upon the American populace via the federal judicial bench.

"As a political appointee in the Reagan administration, Roberts worked to oppose both busing and affirmative action as means of desegregation. Roberts was also involved in the administration's highly controversial efforts to make it nearly impossible for Voting Rights plaintiffs to prove violations. He later represented the first Bush administration in taking anti-choice positions in two high-profile reproductive rights cases. Roberts is nominated to the DC Circuit which hears many critical cases involving health, safety and civil rights regulations." Alliance for Justice Report


As we know, Roberts made it to the DC appeals court by a near unanimous Senate confirmation vote. Now the man the New York Sun called a "confirmable conservative" appears to be on his way to consideration by the Senate for a lifelong appointment to the Supreme Court. I don't know about you, but I am quite fearful.

from all facts and opinions

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Spelunking for Mr. Right

In a comment I made to one of my own recent post, I noticed that I considered that the possibility of finding a man who wanted the same level of physical and emotional intimacy that I desire might be, at this point in my life, a mere fantasy.

Then I realized that this is the same complaint that echoes thru the blogs of many single women over the age of 40.

Obviously, I'm not alone in my contention. And, as many of our blogs prove out, not alone in my frustration.

What is it that makes it so difficult for us to find Mr. Right...or even Mr. Okay? And are all those Mr. Wrong-for-Us guys looking for their own Ms. Right?

One aspect of adult life that is rarely discussed is the way socializing patterns change after the age of 30. Often, when we are in our 20's and early 30's, men's and women's social lives revolve around things like softball and volleyball teams, bars and night clubs, house parties, cocktail parties for professionals, and other types of events that are fertile meeting grounds. But when the friends start to marry off and settle down, these events either stop completely or change shape. We don't have time for team sports. The house parties that were once full of singles become chatty groups of couples with men in one room and women in the other. The people in the bars get younger, and the professionally-oriented cocktail parties start to be more about making network connections than personal connections (mostly because the participants are wearing little rings on their left fingers).

Along with the change in the social milieu, there are changes in our personal lives as well. Women often go out with groups of friends. When the friends marry off and have children, going out may be a semi-annual event. Even then, the conversation usually isn't about the hot guys in the room, but about the job, the man, and the kids.

The advice we got as young women--that there is safety in numbers--becomes hard to follow once we hit adulthood. The numbers aren't there. So, if we want to go to a swanky cocktail bar, we can either go it alone or maybe, just maybe, be able to drum up a younger friend to accompany us.

However, the older-woman-with-a-friend can sometimes be perceived quite differently than the younger-woman-with-a-friend-or-two. Older/younger women pairs even when dressed to kill, can be perceived as a lesbian couple out on the town. Chances then of meeting those two good-looking lawyers at the end of the bar, no matter how much eye contact is exchanged, won't happen. The world of upscale bars and swanky cocktail lounges, after all, are realms of appearance, and first impressions are indeed everything.

If a woman wants to chance sitting in the swanky bar or lounge alone, she will have to fend off the amorous advances of the prowling married man in mid-life crisis. Depending on the customs of the geographic area, even talking to one of these marauders could give a girl a "reputation," and completely ward off the smattering of singles that might in the room. She will also have to compete with the professional late 20 and 30-somethings that also show up at these places.

The odds, then, decrease as the competition increases.

What, then, is it that makes single men over the age of 40 both elusive and more sensitive than they might have been when they were younger? Men's lives, too, change after 40. Overall, men are not big on going out in large groups, even when they are younger, and there is little change in that once they hit middle age. Yet habits do change, and bar-going habits are the first to do so. Most men will seek out the proverbial "old-man bar"--the corner joint or sports bar where they can go, have a couple of beers, watch the game, and maybe exchange a few comments with the bartender or another guy or group of guys at the bar. The intention is specifically *not* to meet anyone (so women, take note: don't go to the old-man bar.)

There's something in men that often drives them away from people rather than to socialize more. Maybe they just get tired of talking with and supervising others, and the level social playing field of the old-man bar can then be most appealing. Also, in a time where the slightest remark can be interpreted as sexual harassment, the single-gender atmosphere of the old man bar is quite a comfort.

As the coupling of friends continues, men are more than likely to begin to shy away from house parties. Rarely will one find a single man among the marrieds at a houseparty (although there may be a single female or two among the women). Single men seem to have less and less to talk about with house-husbands, unless they, too, are condo/house owners concerned about yardwork. Still, most men will keep their married friends at a talking-over-the-fence-while-cutting-hedges place and not join in at the coupled-up social gathering.

As men get more into middle age, they might start to think about their fitness levels. Many will start going to the gym or joining hiking, biking or other outdoor activity groups. Gyms, however, can have the cachet of the swanky bar and are also realms of appearance. Men will more often than not consider hitting on the young hardbodies rather than consider talking with the woman who's more than likely at their own age and fitness level.

Hiking, biking or outdoorsy groups can have a modicum of single men. Many men are most comfortable re-invigorating an interest in a solo outdoor activity such as biking and hiking that they may have enjoyed when they were younger. There are levels of competition in biking and running clubs, but it is a different sort of competition than what exists in a softball or hockey team. Hiking allows a man to demonstrate a certain strength and mastery--he can also be with people or go far away from them. The socializing flexibility and personal athletic challege are quite appealing.

However, this is problematic for most women. Often, we've had trouble with the "athletic" stuff since high school. Being in a female-centered desk job can keep a woman even more non-athletic than ever. There is, then, the fear that taking up hiking and biking will make a woman look as if she is making that desperate, last-ditch and most humiliating attempt to meet Mr. Right. Men tend to look at middle-aged athletic novices as helpless ninnies, rather than as cute young things in need of mentoring and assistance (as our younger counterparts are apt to be perceived).

What, then, about charitable groups, such as Habitat for Humanity or the local food bank? The merits of volunteering (and even church groups) have been over-stated for many years now. Sure, men do volunteer for these sorts of activities, but the odds are far lower in these groups than for athletic pursuits. Once again, men's spare time has more to do with wanting to get away from people, not taking on more responsibility for them by increasing interaction with them.

What, too, about personal ads on Internet dating sites? I've done the whole personal ad thing, and find that it's also not the same for people over 40 as it is for those in their 20's and 30's. The pool is shallower and far less fresh. Some men have had profiles on those sites since their inception and it becomes something of a game for them. There are also some little-discussed pitfalls to internet dating. If you find yourself wanting to register for something like Match.com, also check out Alt.com, AdultFriendFinder.com, and Passion.com. Women just might find that the guy on Match.com who says he's ready for a long-term relationship is, on the latter three sites, looking for wild no strings attached sex with women, men, groups and couples. Some men will load up on internet dating and swinging sites to try to beat the odds and get some kind of action. Some get more than they bargained for, but, a lot, I believe, get even less.


What, then IS a woman to do?

Got me on this one. I can see the patterns, but have no clue what to do about them. How I meet someone depends on whether or not I'm wiling to see what The Fates will send me, or if I'm willing to endure a certain amount of ridicule pursuing "manly" activities. With knowing the patterns, I may not have the solution, but at least I know that not meeting someone is more about the changes in the social milieu, and middle-aged men's tendencies toward lonerdom, than it is about any way I appear or any thing that I say or do.

After all, it takes two to tango, but if one is at the ball and the other at the old-man bar, there won't be any dancing...

Saturday, July 02, 2005

American Apparel: Anti-Exploitation, My Ass.

American Apparel, which refuses to profit from sweatshop labor, instead profits from young women's semi-nude bodies. Dov Charney, the founder of said enterprise, recently got sued by three female ex-employees. As with PETA, which has no problem turning women into one-dimensional sexual objects, ostensibly to lure men into ending the dehumanization of animals, this is another "liberal" effort that deserves a good bitch-smacking (as in, a smacking from this bitch).

American Apparel, rather than relying on underpayment of garment manufacturers, relies on a "sexually charged culture" to push its profits.
It's in the company's racy ads -- which run mostly in alternative newspapers such as New York's The Village Voice and LA Weekly -- that the line between work and recreational sex at American Apparel begins to blur. Charney takes many of the photos himself, often using company employees as models as well as people he finds on the street. "Meet Melissa," reads one print ad, which pictures a comely brunette in a shower and a see-through shirt. "She won an unofficial wet T-shirt contest held at the American Apparel apartment in Montreal." (The company maintains a string of apartments in the U.S. and Canada to save money on hotel rooms.)

In his marketing, Charney has been adept at weaving his libertarian sexual attitude with his progressive labor practices. But it's another matter to make that attitude a bedrock principle of the workplace. In their sexual harassment suits, two of the women accuse Charney of exposing himself to them. One claims he invited her to masturbate with him and that he ran business meetings at his Los Angeles home wearing close to nothing. Another says he asked her to hire young women with whom he could have sex, Asians preferred. All describe him using foul language in their presence, much of it demeaning to women. Says Keith A. Fink, an attorney for one of the women suing: "The work environment there makes Animal House look like choir practice."
I am sure there are plenty of liberals and "progressives" that would see nothing wrong with this. He's just a smart, anti-exploitation, respectable businessman who uses images of sex and freedom to sell, right? And why not exercise your "First Amendment right" and get some "consensual sex" with your young female subordinates in the process? There is no uneven power dynamic, and hence no exploitation, there -- on a personal or market level.

Welcome to the post-feminist era.