Monday, February 27, 2006

Bye-Bye Balls -- Dubai Port Limerick

I just can't stop writing humorous verse about the Dubai seaport deal. My latest is Bye-Bye Balls.

A True PA Progressive: Chuck Pennacchio for US Senate

Of late, I have been increasingly disconsolate over the state of a political party to which I cannot, in principle, belong: the Democratic Party. Years of watching the supposed people's party field candidates who spout ideas worthy of the most arch-conservative Republican has been akin to receiving root canal sans anesthetic. Now, however, I am feeling hopeful.

My newfound positivity is because of Dr. Chuck Pennacchio, a progressive Democrat hoping to unseat Pennsylvania's notoriously ultra-right-wing Republican Sen. Rick Santorum. Naturally, the Democratic powers-that-be (along with, sadly, many so-called progressive blogs) are throwing their support to Pennsylvania state treasurer Bob Casey Jr., an anti-choice, anti-marriage equality candidate who comes off as a Santorum-lite. But Pennacchio, a straight-shooting history professor and highly successful campaign organizer, seems ready for the challenge and ready to take the Democratic Party back to its roots. He's pro-choice and pro-equality - and has the guts to say so. He calls Bush's Iraq "war" what it is - illegal. And he is determined to work for a living wage for all Americans and to ensure that No Child Left Behind becomes a fact for the nation's schools and not just some "compassionate" conservative slogan.

Pennacchio is a candidate who bears watching and supporting. I was privileged enough to interview him this past weekend: Please read what he had to say at All Facts and Opinions and, if you agree with me that he is what the party needs to reclaim its integrity and purpose, please spread the word far and wide. Trust me, this guy is, as the kids and Randy Jackson say, the bomb.

It's time to stand up to the go-along-to-get-along Democratic leadership. It's time to work for a candidate who actually stands up for people and for true American values of justice and equality under law for all - and has the courage to speak plainly.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

posting what the mainstream won't publish

One of the great things about the net is that, if you can't get a mainstream medium to publish something, you can always post it.

A college chum of mine, a former CIA polygraph specialist who served in Vietnam, has tried to get the following Op-Ed piece accepted by several newspapers. They wouldn't even accept it as a "letter to the editor." I had intended to post it on my weblog, but the server's been down for several days. Besides, it occurred to me that posting it here might help to get it circulated. Please feel free to use it in your own blogs.

FYI, this former CIA lie detector, John F. Sullivan, is the author of Of Spies and Lies: A CIA Lie Detector Remembers Vietnam. He has another book ready for publishing that was held up by CIA censors. Here's his thus-far unpublished Op-Ed essay:

Bush and Torture
by John F. Sullivan, former CIA polygraphy interrogator in Vietnam.

During Mr. Bush’s press conference on January 19, one of the correspondents asked the president to clarify his position on torture. “Americans don’t torture,” summed up his response. I don’t know if Mr. Bush was suggesting that Americans didn’t torture in the past, weren’t currently engaging in acts of torture, or wouldn’t engage in such acts in the future, but I do know that during my five years in the U.S. Army and 31 years as a polygraph examiner/interrogator with the CIA, I became aware that Americans did torture

Torture and prisoner abuse have been a part of every war in which America has engaged, at least in my lifetime, but was never a sanctioned policy. Torture has been to the U.S. Government, and police agencies which use it, analogous to what sexual misconduct on the part of Catholic priests has been to the Catholic Church: publicly denied, privately acknowledged, and occasionally tacitly approved. That changed with 9/11.

Vice President Cheney’s suggestion that in response to 9/11 we may have to go to the “dark side” of intelligence in our fight against terrorism, the administration’s declaring al Qaeda and other terrorists as enemy combatants, not POWs, in order to deny them protection under the Geneva Convention, and the Department of Justice’s memorandum of August 2002, which redefined torture, made it clear that “the gloves were off” and that in the pursuit of terrorists, “anything goes.” Torture went from being a “dirty little secret” to a condoned policy.

Of the aforementioned, the most insidious was the Department of Justice’s August 2002 memorandum which defined a coercive technique as torture, “…only when it induced pain equivalent to what a person experiencing death or organ failure might suffer.” This is an obscenity.

How does one determine when an individual being “coerced” has reached the point of being tortured – by the decibel level of the victim’s screams? I assume the person making that decision is the interrogator. If so, what training has he or she had in making such assessments? I would hope that no doctor would ever participate in such an exercise and contend that any doctor, who would, not only violates his Hippocratic Oath but is also right down there with the infamous Dr. Mengele.

In analyzing Mr. Bush’s “Americans don’t torture,” statement, I conclude that he based his statement on the DOJ’s definition of torture and that those pictured in the Abu Ghraib photos didn’t meet his criteria for torture. I would like to think that Mr. Bush does not share Rush Limbaugh’s view that what happened at Abu Ghraib was nothing more than a fraternity prank, but am concerned that many Americans might agree with Limbaugh.

My first reaction to those pictures was rage – rage at the sheer sadism depicted; rage at the stupidity of those who allowed the torture, rage at the lack of cultural awareness, and lastly, rage over the fact that those pictures were going to cost American GIs their lives.

The Abu Ghraib pictures make a great recruiting poster for al Qaeda, and I posit that more Muslims were recruited for the Jihad as a result of those pictures than GIs were saved as a result of information coming from torture victims.

It seems logical to me that an al Qaeda/terrorist fighting in Iraq, who saw those pictures, might be more motivated as well as more inclined to fight harder so as not to get captured. Do the battle cries “Remember the Alamo,” “Remember the Maine,” or “Remember 9/11” ring any bells? How about “Remember Abu Ghraib?”

What are the implications of those pictures for any American GIs who might get captured? Can anyone imagine the reaction in America if similar pictures of American GIs were coming out of Iraq? Were that the case, I don’t think our military would have to worry about recruitment shortfalls for as long as the war on terror is waged.

Senator McCain, in commenting on his ordeal in North Vietnam and in referring to his torturers, noted that one of the things that sustained him and his fellow POWs was their belief that, “We are better than this.” The Abu Ghraib photos seem to indicate that we are not better than we were back then.

It would be great if you could mention -- or even reprint -- this essay in your own blogs.

Friday, February 24, 2006

It's Surely Snowing In Hell - Dubai Port Deal Humor

The Dubai port brouhaha inspired me to write a poem and a limerick. It's Surely Snowing In Hell begins:

It's Surely Snowing In Hell
By Madeleine Begun Kane

"I never thought I'd see the day
That I'd agree with Tom DeLay..."

My poem continues here.

And my limerick begins:

A State-Run Firm Based In Dubai
By Madeleine Begun Kane

"A state-run firm based in Dubai,
Is well known for its terrorist tie..."

My limerick continues here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Song in the key of church and state

So we're all annoyed at the current situation, here at Blogsisters we write about it, find articles and share with each other.

My fiancé however, decided to express himself differently, and I thought you would really enjoy it!!
Check out his latest single which is coming out February 28th on the Itunes music store.
He made a video for it and put it up on his web site so I could brag about it with you guys before it comes out:

Mike Jerugim's single

kinda cross posted with my blog

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Just a thank you

To all the sisters out there - thanks so much for including me - thanks for everything all of you do everyday to keep the dream alive...thanks for passing the torch on to others...thanks for just being yourselves

Monday, February 20, 2006

Two Dick Cheney Song Parodies

I've written two song parodies about Dick Cheney's shooting a fellow hunter: "Don't Hunt With Dick Cheney" and "Faking Contrition." "Don't Hunt With Dick Cheney" begins:

Don't Hunt With Dick Cheney Song Parody (Sing to "On Top Of Old Smokey")
By Madeleine Begun Kane

"Don't hunt with Dick Cheney.
You might end up dead.
He'll aim for your torso,
Or even your head.

He'll claim it's a quail shoot,
But that's just a front..."

The rest of my Don't Hunt With Dick Cheney is here, and you can hear me sing it here.

My "Faking Contrition" song parody begins:
Faking Contrition Song Parody (Sing to "Waltzing Matilda")
By Madeleine Begun Kane

"Faking contrition.
Faking contrition.
Cheney feels bad that he shot his good friend.
If you don't buy his story, you're a lib'ral Democrat.
Leave him alone. This harassment must end.

Watch those right-wing pundits shouting on the TV tube,
Claiming that Cheney didn't do nothing wrong..."

The rest of my Faking Contrition song parody is here, and you can hear me sing Faking Contrition here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

remembering love+loss

posted this over at mommybloggers for a neat valentine's roundup with a bunch of cool and witty posts by women.

mine wasn't exactly sugary sweet,
more like organ meat.


you know i love all of web 2.0...

but i can totally not get into CoComment. I don't want another aggregation site. I don't even want to remember what I say half the time. I like having said it.

I want to make my rounds to my special places, the blogs i love. I want to forget where I commented and then remember in a flash when I hit the page, or run into myself again by surprise and go: "oooogoodie--I remember commenting on this--let's see what's up." I want to be suprised to see three people said after me. I want to find it when I find it.

I want the web to remain mostly accidental.

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Films By, For, And About Women--LUNAFEST

I got a call from Janet Bridgers today who asked me to spread the word about LUNAFEST. She was brave enough to call me out of nowhere, so I told her I'd let folks now about the event.

In addition to being a film fest, LUNAFEST is a charitable event that funds the Breast Cancer Fund, one of the major groups working to prevent breast cancer by educating the public on reducing exposure to cancer-causing chemicals. As a showcase for the work of emerging women filmmakers, LUNAFEST is heading into its sixth year.

Last fall, L.A. Shorts, San Francisco and Washington DC Film Festivals featured the LUNAFEST as part of their programs. The FEST anticipates screenings in more than 100 cities around the country this year, hosted locally by nonprofit organizations that raise money by presenting the event.

LUNAFEST is sponsored by LUNA, a leading maker of energy and nutrition foods for women. You can get more information on LUNAFEST at
, or contact Janet Bridgers at

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

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Cheney Misfires Big Time! & Other Political Verse

I've posted some new limericks and other political verse here, including Cheney Misfires Big Time.

Cheney Misfires -- Big Time!
By Madeleine Begun Kane

A fellow named Whittington, Harry,
In the future will likely be wary
Of hunting with Dick who
Mistook him for quail stew.
The VEEP with a shotgun's quite scary.

That limerick and some other new poems are here. And my Dick Cheney humor is collected here.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Woman Stands Up to Lead

This is a very important moment for women everywhere, regardless of your political position. Rep. Heather Wilson, the only female veteran of Congress and the person who wants to run DoD, intends to lead the Republicans out of the Bush desert. It's an important moment for us all.

Rep. Wilson may be a Republican, we may disagree on every other issue, but on the most critical issue facing us today, I stand beside her. She's leading Republicans away from President Bush and Dick Cheney's dangerous executive power grab, as the Administration destroys the checks and balances so important to our democratic republic.

If you don't know Rep. Heather Wilson, it's time you met the lady who is standing up, kicking ass and taking charge.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My Client and the Woman Connection--Vetting My Thoughts

As many of you know, one of my clients is BubbleShare -- a simple, effective way to share photos with voice captions. When I first used BubbleShare -- before I actually said, "Okay, cool--I'd love to help with your blogging efforts!" -- I immediately thought, what a great app for women.

Now, usually I don't think this way. I don't divide tools into 'man tools' and 'women tools' -- that would be, well, goofy. A tool is used to complete a job of some kind. Whoever is doing the job needs the tool, right?

So I did a sort of mental push-back with myself, asking why I immediately thought, "women bloggers will love this thing." I came to the conclusion that it's because the roles women fill are vast and mostly parallel, meaning time is at a premium. So, we need the FASTEST way to do anything and everything, including sharing photos. The gadgets and tools we touch every day have to match our speed and need for flexibility. With BubbleShare, you upload photos into an album and email them. It's that fast and uncomplicated.

Next synapse fired: Why would I think of women when I think of how FAST a tool lets me do something. Simply put, women today are busier than ever. Whether it's providing caregiving for an elderly parent, a baby or child, whether it's writing blogs or novels, working outside the home, whatever. Somedays just opening the mail is a major effort because it cuts into critical time. Do men do these same things? Sure they do. But I would wager that a lot more women have a lot less time because of the multi-functioning roles we've had to assume.

The other reason I thought of women is PRIVACY. You can keep your albums private if you wish, AND there is NO registration required to use the service. You just put in your email address so that you receive a link where you can manage your photos (and another email with a link to send to friends and family), and that's it. NO address or demographic or business information. NO how old are your kids. NO where do you live or what's your zip code. I love having the option of not needing to provide a bunch of information when using any online application or service. So far, you don't need to register to use the service.

Now the easy emailing is also cool (just send your friends and family the link provided). The the folks you send your story albums to won't need to register to view your photos either. Again, I started thinking, "this is great for women," and then re-questioned myself--why women specifically? I answered back that women are usually responsible for the household communication to family members far away, and what a great way to update those people you don't get to see that often.

You can not only put photos in your albums, but you can create sound captions. My first thought was of sending an album to my favorite aunt--the pictures of my daughter with her talking to her great aunt through the voice captions. Lets put it this way: I have four very smart, strong aunts. They all use email. And that's about all they want to use. That's why BubbleShare struck me as THE answer for sharing photos with my aunts.

All of this is to say, I'm not trying to push you into trying BubbleShare, although I do think the service has a lot to offer the women of blogdom--it even has an 'add album to blog' button that lets you click and copy a simple bit of code into a post--and voila, your album is posted to your blog. way cool.

What I'm really doing is vetting my assumptions about women enjoying the service not MORE than men, but enjoyng it enough to use it and enjoy using it.

As a bonus link for your patient reading through my stream-of-consciousness meanderings, I also wanted to tell you that we're having a contest with GREAT prizes for anyone who wants to participate between now and February 20th. We started the contest on Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, and ask that participatnes take 10 photos or less on any theme that celebrates BUBBLES or bubble wrap. Add audio captions and email it to

Here's just some of what the winners receive:

  • An iPod Nano
  • A Blogrolling GOLD account
  • DVDs
  • Hot-off-the-Presses Naked Conversation Books
  • BubbleShare and Tucows wear and gear
  • ElimiTaste chewing gum
  • A BubbleShare VIP Account
  • and more...
So, get your digital cameras and microphones out and bubble out for links and loot!!!!

In the mean time, thanks for listening. If you do use BubbleShare, please let me know what you think. I always pass specific feedback on to the company president and developers.

Look forward to receiving your contest entry!

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Diversity or Diversion?

Originally posted on allied...

Obviously i'm coming at this topic from a perspective that isn't all that common--mom of woman-to-be of color, white (not including the Sicilian ;-) ) wife of a black man living in America, the south even, south east to be precise--not too extraordinary; not your every day thing either.

you can say that's a disclaimer; you can say them's the facts, jack. either way. all I'm really trying to figure out is why black history month bothers me--and why it bothers me that it bothers me.

First, let's talk about what's good about Black History Month. Obviously, the incorporation into a sorely lacking public school curriculum when it comes to the accomplishments of an entire group of Americans whose contributions have been largely overlooked in favor of a distorted image of homogeny. Really Important Contributions, one might say, by people who were once Not Free (AKA enslaved) in the aforementioned country, and in the not-so-distant past--making these contributions all the more meaningful.

So, good goal: Teach the little children that black americans (contrary to what Broadcast Mainstream Media & Advertising have done their best to infuse into our children's growing brains) have done more than play sports and music, light fires, and loot. Who knew?

Inventors, physicians, astronauts, executives, artists--lots of Smart Successful People who these same little children never saw in mainstream curriculum, on their local news channels, in the newspapers, or on the bookshelves at the library.

Given that reality, I see lots of good reasons for schools to "celebrate" Black History Month.

As a mom, I don't.

My experience is that Black History Month has become a 30-day paranoia immersion period for the white children rather than a learning experience about our culture and shared history.

Let's look at it another way.

Jenna has white friends--and I mean Nordic white. Jenna has friends of color (all different shades and ethnicities). But the poor white kids don't quite know what to do when black history month comes around.

And i don't blame them. Here they've been, playing along for years without distinction, except for the occasional summer tan contest, in which "peach" and "brown" have always been the closest crayola colors to the real deal, so that's what the children have naturally labeled each other's skin hues.

Along comes a school "celebration" that alerts our children to their differences and explains that sometimes children of different backgrounds (EMPHASIS on the Black and White during this special in-class intervention) have a hard time playing together, but that the color of our skin shouldn't make a difference. AND NOW: Let us All Focus On the Color Of Our Skins for the Next 30 Days.

Thank you for making an issue out of what we as parents (our friends and us) believe is a non-issue.

Put into practical purposes, here's a story from 2 hours ago. We're at a friend's house tonight, we moms are hanging out while Jenna plays with her friends of four years. The kids get into a conflict over some x-random thing. And out of the friend's mouth:

"I think maybe we're having trouble playing together because I'm white and she's black."

We look at each other with a sly smile, yah--that isn't even her own sentence structure, let alone the way the kids have ever described one another. Any correlation between the book report due next week on a Role Model of choice for Black History Month?

A similar uncharacteristic exchange happened with another of Jenna's friends of many years last week. Again, the homework topic: African American Heroes.

The peach kids don't know if they're supposed to say Black as in "Black History Month" or "African American" as in "Your Favorite African American Heroes."

And so, forced symantics enter their world of "peach" and "brown" -- shades of the same family, more similar than different. Our childrens' variations on a theme are replaced with learned symantic segregation.

Like any good idea, Black History Month needs to evolve in order to remain relevant and positive-purposed. How about taking the combined knowledge base of the many resources around Black History Month and incorporate it into various curriculum approaches -- resulting in an HONEST, overall look at American history, one that does not exclude, but includes.

How about we drop the 30-day rehab sensitivity training intensive for elementary school kids and replace it with real WORK on the part of the adults shaping public education and classroom curriculum into the future.

How about peach and brown?

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not pretty; just true

Of course, I'm not talking about Blogsisters, whose birthday is coming up -- as CEO Jeneane notes in the previous post. BS has been her personal labor of love from the getgo, when she brought me in to help get it all rolling. I'm not around here much these days (life as a caregiver doesn't leave much time for fun), but I'm glad I popped over today to tell Jeneane "you're still doin' good, girl."

Meanwhile (and the rest of the following is over here):

They weren't pretty -- not by the standards of our American culture today. And what they held up for us to see in the mirror of truth wasn't pretty either.

Betty Friedan, the feminist icon of my times, died yesterday at the age of 85. This is my favorite Friedan quote, given in an interview with LIfe magazine in 1963:

Some people think I'm saying, 'Women of the world unite -- you have nothing to lose but your men." It's not true. You have nothing to lose but your vacuum cleaners.

Sojourner Truth, much of whose life was lived not too far from where I am now, is featured in my local newspaper today. The piece ends with the following:

'Ain't I A Woman?'

Sojourner Truth gave this speech in 1851 at a women's convention in Akron, Ohio.

"That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman?

"Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman?

"I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman?

"I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

I look around me for the Betty Friedans and Sojourner Truths of this generation, yet all I see are Hillary Clintons.

(continued at

Saturday, February 04, 2006

someone has a birthday coming up

blog sisters turns 4 at the end of the month, February 27, and anyone who has posted here over the last four years should give yourself a pat on the back or take yourself to lunch -- have a pasta dish and review the sauce for me please because OH do i love pasta and OH do i love sauce--depending on my mood sometimes I favor marinara, other times a thick meat sauce, which reminds me of my grandmother's house and walking in for Sunday super (which was earlier than the usual 'dinner' hour, because it was Sunday), and the smell of sauce and meatballs, and the smack of grated peccorino romano cheese on top, with Orange Crush to drink. Mmmmm.

How'd I get here?

Right: comfort foods and celebrations. makes sense.

What amazes me about this site is how it continues to live and evolve. It goes through dry periods where a few women post, and then in a rush I'm moved by posts from women I've never read before. Every single post on this site carves meaning into the net.

What we do here matters.

I remember the night in the early days of blogging where I was almost asleep and in that place of high creativity, where the body is paralyzed and the mind races, and in that hyper-juxtaposition my best ideas come, like blog sisters: where men can link but they can't touch.

It was a good idea and it still is. As I try my hand at contributing editor over at BlogHer, I encourage all of you to keep posting here AND to explore as much of the blogworld as you can.

As we enter another year together, I'm aiming to pick up my intensity of posting on Blog Sisters (kick my ass if I slow down, will you? Email works for that). I also want to explore BlogHer as well, and I highly recommend you read up on the topics that interest you over at BlogHer. You can also suggest women bloggers for the blogroll--there's a link specifically for that. If you're not there, go suggest yourself.

In other words, it's like this. When we started this grand idea, there were no other team blogs where women were writing together. Now there are. YES!!! More space for us to write. Write. Write here, write on your blog, write wherever you can. Write in chalk on your driveway. Write on the blackboards in your child's school. Write on the whiteboards at work, write on wikis, write on kiwis, write in books and on paper.

Just Write it write it write it. Am I telling you or me? That question needs no answer.

It's my voice--there is no reason to be quiet anymore.

What to do with teenagers when roller skating gets old? SkyZone!

As the mother of a teenage daughter, figuring out activities that give ME a break, are nearby, don't involve computers and cell phones...