Thursday, November 30, 2006

Real Patriots Don't Flinch

I really tried to avoid writing this post.

I have fond memories of reading Orson Scott Card’s fiction. He wasn’t ever my SF favorite writer, mind you – that would be Bujold and Octavia Butler and Connie Willis, Kage Baker and Eleanor Arnason – but I liked him well enough, though I wasn’t as fond of Ender’s Game as most people seemed to be. I liked his short stories better, and his books about family life. When he started writing military stuff, frankly, he made me itch. And why, you ask? Well, it was so obviously adolescent boy’s power porn – like that Weber stuff, and that other guy, what’s his name, Feintuch. If you get off on that, whatever, but I don’t have to watch while you do, do I?

Anyway. Card has come out with another book, Empire, and I can’t sit down and shut up anymore. It’s about a civil war between the Evil Liberals and the (less) evil conservatives, and, again, whatever.

(Card claims to be a liberal, but anyone who has read his work knows he only thinks that because he grew up among the Mormons. The first time he met a real liberal, apparently he ran screeching and hasn’t stopped.) (In the second chapter of Empire his stalwart hero speaks of the “insane Left,” by which he seems to mean the professors of Princeton, so there you are.) (Also, Card, like most writers outside the Academy, knows nothing about actual university professors. For instance, he seems to think professors would be offended by the sight of a student in uniform. What planet is this man living on? He also seems to have bought that idiot Horowitz’s claim that professors know nothing about their subjects, or know only the PC version of their subject. Yes, right. That’s how we study these days. Only the Leftist version of history or literature, Mr. Card.)

The passage that made me not able to shut up was not, though, either the really stupid skirmish in chapter one, where Our Hero Reuben Takes Down the Terrorists Without Losing a Single Man or Injuring Any Villagers Except One (because, you know, war Really Really works that way – in Enderbot land a skirmish might play out that way, but in a real war I don’t think so) where was I? Oh – or the equally unrealistic seminar scene in chapter two – no it was this paragraph, in chapter 3:

(Reuben’s wife is talking)

"My husband is a patriot. And a born officer. He is not troubled by the things he does to defend his country. He has killed people, even though he's a gentle man by nature, and yet he does not wake up screaming in the night from combat flashbacks, and he doesn't lash out at the children, and he shows no sign of traumatic stress disorder. I know ….that my husband has no qualms about bearing arms for his country and using them. "

What bothers me about this bit is not the implication that someone could kill people and not be troubled by it, because, you know, if Card wants to believe that in his boy-porn fantasy, whatever.

(And frankly, I am willing to believe that people exist who would not be troubled by killing other humans. I’m just not willing to accept Card’s proposition this same person would also be a “gentle,” undamaged human being.)

No, what got under my skin about this bit was its implication: which was that those soldiers who do suffer from combat flashbacks, who do show signs of PTSD, who do lash out at their wives and children, why, those veterans must not be patriots.

Or, I don’t know, maybe they just aren’t good enough patriots.

Not like Orson Scott Card. Who spent – someone remind me – how many days in the armed services?

The real reason this passage pissed me off so very fucking much was I have students who have returned from Iraq. Lots of them. One of them missed half of this semester because he was in Iraq. Others have gone and come back, others are going. One of them, in my freshman comp course, is one of my best writers. He just wrote me a series of essays about dealing with PTSD, interestingly enough. He is also a conservative – a red stater from way back.

(Not all veterans are, despite Card’s claim in Empire: I’d say about 40 percent of my veteran students are liberals, and that’s in this state, Arkansas, buckle of the Bible belt.)

He and I wrangle, politely enough, about feminist issues and the war and terrorism and any number of things. Unlike Card’s stalwart hero Reuben, he doesn’t wear his uniform every day to class to Show Me (he’s never worn it, oddly enough); and if he did, would I glare at him? No. Because do I hate veterans? No. I don’t even hate conservatives. I like this student a great deal, in fact.

Back to his series of essays about PTSD. I can’t quote him, though I wish I could, because he’s an excellent writer, but he wrote in one essay about setting down in Fallujah in a helicopter and having things go wrong, what that was like; he writes in another about what it’s been like since he got back, how even having ice drop from the icemaker can set off a flashback, how he thinks he hears gunshots in the night and drags his wife under him in the bed, covering her body with his (oops, I’m quoting him) before he realizes it was just a nightmare, only he isn’t really sure, even after he’s awake, that it was a nightmare. He’s still half-convinced he heard the gunshots.

I get essays like this from my students. Not all as good as this one, but real experiences. I read the essays from my students, and then I’m on Hatrack River, listening to Card shoot his mouth off. Real patriots don’t suffer PTSD. Real patriots don’t fuck up insertions. Real patriots have no qualms. Real patriots think liberals are insane for thinking the Iraq war was and is a bad idea.

I won’t even go into Card’s ideas about homosexuality and feminism, and what he’s getting wrong in those categories.

We’ll save that for some other sleety afternoon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I Suppose

I shouldn't be surprised by this, but I find I am.

Denver police are going after Mike Jones -- you remember him. He's the fellow who blew the whistle on Ted Haggard? Apparently because Haggard has lawyered up (and is being protected by his church, which, mind you, is his right under the law, and I argue not with that one bit) the police are now leaning on Jones. If they can't get the Turk in power, they'll take whoever they can get.

(Via Joe.My.God:

Luckily Jones has a lawyer himself, but still.

This, if we needed more evidence, is what is wrong with this idiot war on drugs. It leads to idiot moves like this one. Not to mention that of the 2.2 million of our population in prison (the highest number in the world, btw, no other country in the world has that many people locked up), what is it, nearly a million of them are there on drug-related charges? Any idea how many schoolteachers we could put on the ground for what that's costing us?

Education Saves the World

Or it might, you know, if we only did it properly.

Here, read this bit in the Times:

There are a number of interesting things about this article.

One is the teaching of Latin. Now as someone who specialized in Greek and Roman literature, you can imagine I am all for the teaching of Latin, and in fact I am. I do think we ought to go back to teaching Latin to all gits, starting at age seven, and not stopping until they're seventeen or so -- and I do think that all of them can learn it, by the way, because Latin is not that hard, no matter what you have heard; Latin is one of the easier of languages: it is so very orderly and makes so much sense. The very learning of the language itself forces the mind to learn order; knowing the language means the student knows grammar, far beyond anything a class in English grammar will give him or her, simply because, in order to read Latin, the student is forced to analyze grammatical structure constantly; and, as this article makes clear, studying Latin doesn't mean just studying language, it means studying culture -- ours, the Roman culture, the Greek culture, Western culture itself. That's why learning Latin is the underpinning of an educated mind. Or it was. Or it should be.

So that's one thing.

Here's another: the article insinuates that these students are succeeding not because they're studying Latin, but because they're in small classes -- 15 students per class. (That's small, apparently -- my daughter's Montessori class has 4 students in it. I drop that in as an aside. Hers is also an unusually small class -- the first grade, just below hers, though, has 10 students, a normal size for her school.) First, I'd like to ask, why is this an either/or? Why is it not both/and? These kids are doing well both because they're learning Latin AND because they're not crammed into a public school classroom with 44 students in the classroom? (As my daughter's public school kindergarten classroom had 44 students in it? One of whom was ED and threw chairs if he was crossed?) By which I mean to ask, we are told, by people who are always telling us with their next breath that we have to pay CEOs a huge salary in order to attract the best men to the position, that you can't solve the problems of public education by throwing money at them, but damn, I say, sounds like to me this might be one you could.

Put more teachers on the ground. How? Why, pay them huge salaries to attract the best (ahem) people into the positions, put fifteen students into each classroom, hire classics majors to teach every student Latin, hire engineers to teach them math, get college professors into the classroom (notice in this article that these *are* college professors teaching here), see what happens.

I have to tell you, with college professors? It wouldn't even have to be huge salaries. Lots of us are working for adjunct pay. You offer us forty a year and benefits, you'll scoop up plenty of adjuncts and folks working two and three year contracts. I ain't lying.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Decline & Fall

Teaching Didactic Children's Poetry in Vic Lit (Belloc, mostly), I discovered that my students had never heard the charming ditty, "Mabel, Mabel, strong and able, get your elbows off the table, this is not a horse's stable!"

Well, really.

What is the world coming to?

No wonder these kids today have no fucking manners.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Katrina Update

“You don’t have the internet?” I am appalled. Living as I do in Arkansas, I am used to people not having high-speed cable access, which is, you know, bad enough – but to be off the net entirely? Yikes.

“We don’t even have cable yet.”

“At all? No cable at all?”

“Hey, we just got power in June. We went halfway through June with no air conditioning.” My sister-in-law, the sainted one, the other liberal in the family, who married my youngest brother, shrugs. She doesn’t care about not having cable, or even air-conditioning. She and my brother – who is six-four, by the way—are living in a FEMA trailer, in Gentilly, still, a very small one, basically one room, from what I can understand, with two Large Dogs, and no cable, and no internet access, and an oven that uses up half their bottle of propane every time they cook anything, she tells me, and she has not killed my brother yet, and she shrugs at the information that the power was just hooked up in June.

You remember June, 2006? Which was very nearly a year after Katrina blew through, in August 2005?

Because I live some distance from my family I get these fast-forward shutter-like pictures of New Orleans. So: I visit for Christmas, I see some things. I drop the kid off in the summer, I see some things. Some of them come for Thanksgiving, I hear other things. Bits and pieces.

My nephew goes to Loyola. He tells me the area around the universities – Loyola and Tulane and there – is up and running. The Garden Districts, they’ve got that area all flash, he says. (I think he used a cooler word.)

My parents live out in Jefferson Parish. She claims things are fine out there. My father, though, is standing for the Levee Board. This tells me he must be tense about something.

My brother and sister-in-law, as I have said, live in Gentilly, in what is called, when one wants to be polite in New Orleans, a “mixed” neighborhood. This means both poor folk and richer folk live there. (No really rich folk, mind you – just some who actually own their own homes and lots who rent and some who are HUD folk.) This neighborhood is still FEMA trailers and houses being rebuilt and many houses not being rebuilt.

And down in the 9th Ward, I hear from one of my students who is a refuge from that area? She says it’s still a wasteland down there. She says nothing is being done in the 9th Ward. I don’t know that for a fact. But I wouldn’t be shocked, either.
(Scroll down for a charming picture of what the 9th Ward looked like after Katrina -- well after it.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Heart of Steel, Me

Sent off the query to the next agent.

This one takes email submissions. So at least it won't take very long before I get rejected this time.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


What's that?

No, no, just a semi-mortal wound!

Hardly stings at all! Never mind the gush of blood!

Pain? What pain? Bah! I laugh at pain. Ha! Ha Ha!

Rejected. Apparently the agent does not like gay socialist science fiction with sociopathic heroes who speak odd dialects of English. Hmm. Go figure.

Don't mind me. I'm off to sulk a bit.

No, not actually. Actually I'm trying some other agent.

Because we writers? Hearts of STEEL.

(I wish.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Speaking of which

Which I was, in the previous post --

The kid has latched onto Harry Potter. Thanks to our fearless leader (what did Scott Card call him in that darling essay? Statesmanlike? What the fuck ever) anyway, thanks to Prince George and his No Child's Behind test that she had to take last year, the school knows she's reading on at least the 11th grade level, so they have started sending her into the upper elementary side of the school for her silent reading books. (Montessori school has silent reading every afternoon.) Anyway, she found a Harry Potter book last week and now she's reading all 3 of the first 3 at once, which is how she does things, this kid.

Where as I?

Oh, right, Hermione.

"Why are Harry and Ron so mean to Hermione?" she demanded of me last night as I was making her bedtime snack. She had just read the scene where Hermione is crying in the girl's bathroom and almost gets pulverized by the troll.

"Excellent question," I said. "Why are they mean to her? What do you think the problem is?"

"Is it just because she's smart? What's wrong with being smart?"

"Are they mean to other people who are smart?" I nudged. "Like...oh...Percy?"

She frowned. "Well...they make fun of him a little...but no."

"They don't despise him they way they do her. Do they? Hmm," I say. "What's up, do you suppose?"

She gave me a suspicious look.

"What's the difference between Percy and Hermione?" I said. "I'll give you a hint. It's one word."

"Patriarchy?" she said, annoyed.

I grinned at her. "But don't worry. Harry and Ron get over it in a bit here and stop being patriarchal jerks. Well, mostly."

She scowled at the book. "It's not Hermione's fault she's a girl."

"Uh," I said. "Sweetie? There's nothing wrong with being a girl."

She kept scowling.

Fucking patriarchy.

My Fucking Shit

I aim -- y'all know me and I do aim -- to believe that most people are decent human beings.

But I was over there on Twisty's site, reading about this lap dance referendum in Seattle?

(You must read Twisty, by the way. If you have not yet begun to read Twisty's site on a regular basis, bookmark it now and start stopping by. She is not always easy to edge into, and maybe you will not always be happy with what you find, but Twisty is writing some of the most important posts on the blogosphere. Link up.)

Anyway. I'm reading that one, and and I clicked through to link to Fark, where some guys and Patriarchy-lovers who support guys are giving their deep thoughts.

I have to warn you. This site is evil.

Monday, November 13, 2006

My First Time

So I return from fetching a fresh cup of coffee to find the kid standing ON the chair at my writing desk, preliminary to knocking it over (landing quite deftly on her feet, but never mind that bit). I yelp in outrage. "Hey!"

"What?" she inquires innocently, having safely landed.

"That is my writing chair! My sacred iconographic writing chair!" I snatch it up and make sure it is okay. "I have sat in this chair to write since I was fifteen years old! D'you know what would happen if this chair broke?"

"Umm...we would have to buy another one?"

"No! I would have to become an ACCOUNTANT!" I give her a fierce glare.

She studies me. "You're messing, right?"

"Maybe," I say. "A bit." I adjust my chair and sit in it. Then I give her a fierce sidelong look. "But NEVER do that again."

She lets out her breath, patiently. "You're weird, Mom."

Shit. And it only took until she was eight.

War On Boyz

I'm still teaching that Rogerian thing, still with mixed results.

It's really reading I'm teaching, of course.

I used to go into Freshman composition and tell my students I was here to teach them to read, but I have stopped doing that, since it annoyed them too much. Really, though, it is what I do: teach students to read. They don't, in fact, know how.

Oh, they can read: I mean, they can look at the words on the page and figure out what the sounds mean. But they read on the most literal of level, nearly all of them -- as do many Americans, apparently -- and they cannot read irony or subtext at all.

So when I ask them to read for Rogerian context, it's like I'm asking them to see a color off their spectrum entirely.

This essay here, "A War Against the Boys," another off the Chronicle Arts & Letters site:

about 3/4 of them misread entirely.

They all liked the essay -- enjoyed reading it, seemed to have put some time into reading it, knew it well enough to discuss it in a lively fashion, but took it wholly literally.

It starts like this:

Doug Anglin isn’t likely to flash across the radar screen at an Ivy League admissions office. A seventeen-year-old senior at Milton High School, a suburb outside Boston, Anglin has a B-minus average and plays soccer and baseball. But he’s done something that millions of other teenagers haven’t: he’s sued his school district for sex discrimination. Anglin’s lawsuit, brought with the aid of his father, a Boston lawyer, claims that schools routinely discriminate against males. “From the elementary level, they establish a philosophy that if you sit down, follow orders, and listen to what they say, you’ll do well and get good grades,” he told a journalist. “Men naturally rebel against this.”

And contains paragraphs like this:

If boys are doing worse, whose fault is it? To many of the current critics, it’s women’s fault, either as feminists, as mothers, or as both. Feminists, we read, have been so successful that the earlier “chilly classroom climate” has now become overheated to the detriment of boys. Feminist-inspired programs have enabled a whole generation of girls to enter the sciences, medicine, law, and the professions; to continue their education; to imagine careers outside the home. But in so doing, these same feminists have pathologized boyhood. Elementary schools are, we read, “anti-boy”—emphasizing reading and restricting the movements of young boys. They “feminize” boys, forcing active, healthy, and naturally exuberant boys to conform to a regime of obedience, “pathologizing what is simply normal for boys,” as one psychologist puts it. Schools are an “inhospitable” environment for boys, writes Christina Hoff Sommers, where their natural propensities for rough-and-tumble play, competition, aggression, and rambunctious violence are cast as social problems in the making.

But it also has lots of paragraphs like this:

WHAT'S WRONG with this picture? Well, for one thing, it creates a false opposition between girls and boys, assuming that educational reforms undertaken to enable girls to perform better hinder boys’ educational development. But these reforms—new classroom arrangements, teacher training, increased attentiveness to individual learning styles—actually enable larger numbers of boys to get a better education. Though the current boy advocates claim that schools used to be more “boy friendly” before all these “feminist” reforms, they obviously didn’t go to school in those halcyon days, the 1950s, say, when the classroom was far more regimented, corporal punishment common, and teachers far more authoritarian; they even gave grades for “deportment.” Rambunctious boys were simply not tolerated; they dropped out. Gender stereotyping hurts both boys and girls.

The essay goes on to cut down the arguments of Sommers and her ilk -- in fact, a bit too harshly, which was why I gave the class the essay, because I wanted them to note that Kimmel was failing to be Rogerian to that opposition. Instead, they failed to notice that he was arguing against Sommers at all! They thought he was arguing against feminism! They thought Kimmel was agreeing that there was a war on boys!


So -- obviously -- before we can teach them to write and think -- we'll have to teach them to read, won't we?

Seriously, though, the Kimmel essay is a good one. Have a look.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Oh my

Here's a commentor over at Ann's Blog. His name is Kirby. I'd link him, but I'm having trouble with links lately. (Grr.)

Anyway, over at Ann Althouse, they're debating, yet again, how to win the Iraqi war -- y'all remember? That one we have no business fighting & George never should have started? Which was first because of -- well, why WAS it started, first? Was it WMD? Or because of 9/11? Or to protect the Iraqi people? Or to draw the terrorists away from us, over to there (the flaypaper theory of war)? It's so hard to keep track...Orson Scott Card and Ann and the rest are NOW arguing, as near as I can follow, something like the Domino Theory: we CAN'T QUIT NOW! Cause if we do, everyone will KNOW we're wimps, and all the nations will tumble into the gap we leave like like like like like --

Oh, yeah. Like Dominos.

Damn. I think I heard this argument somewhere before.

Anyway, whose fault is it that we're losing Iraq, according to Kirby?

You got it! Feminists!
(I was thinking Clinton, too, but don't worry, he's next, I'm sure.):

Kirby sez:
"There's a neat book called The Vacant Chair by a historian named Reid Mitchell. He argues that the Civil War was won by the greater will of the mothers of the north to sacrifice their sons for the cause.

"A good woman nurtured, and her nurture was the means by which boys and men had good moral sense inculcated" (74-75) Oxford UP, 1993.

I think feminism vitiated women's sense

a. of the value of American culture

b. of the necessity of war

c. created women like Cindy Sheehan, who are now legion

Very few moms have the toughness of W.'s mother*. Very very few. And it's the women's will that matters. What men do is mostly to please mom.

If mom says grow your hair long and take drugs, that's what the men do.

If mom says, defend your country: the men and boys will. That's why at the top of the Civil War monuments it's always a woman holding the flame of liberty.

Reid Mitchell argues that the mothers of the north never caved, but that the women of the south did cave. They wanted their men home, and so they went. That's the story of a film like Cold Mountain. She wanted her man home. He went, and he went in the hundreds of thousands. And the war ended.

"Soldiering leaves the chair vacant; death while soldiering leaves the chair more vacant still" (xiv).

The vacant chairs of the north were not put away. There was always a place for the soldier. Something happened between then and now: Cindy Sheehan is a bigger part of the mystery than we currently believe. She's part of a new generation of women who were trained to believe that war can not be moral and that their job is to prevent it at any cost."

Althouse's blog is here.

Kirby's comment is under the post comparing the Iraqi War to the Civil War.

Card's essay is all over the web -- apparently Rush gave him a mention and the Wingers got all hot for him. Just go to Google Blog Search and put in Scott Card and "only issue" and "this election" and it will come up.

(*Of course, as a later commentor points out, one TINY problem with Kirby's theory is that George W. never actually WENT to any war, but never mind, never mind!)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Build This World

But not with us.

I'm teaching this ENGL 1203 this semester -- that's the first half of Freshman comp -- and we're at the end of the semester, where I start teaching them about Rogerian argument, and begging them not to do what America has been doing for the past dozen years or so. Build common ground, I say. Assume, even if, or especially if, you don't believe it, that those you are trying to convince are at least as well-intentioned and well-educated as you are. Treat the enemy like your neighbor: like your fellow human.

And why would you do this? Because Jesus and Buddha and Plato said you should?

No. Because it works.

Anyway, all of that, yap yap yap, I go on about it in class until my students can recite it like the alphabet, and then I give them essays and make them tell me what the writers are doing that's effective, in a Rogerian sense, or inneffective, in a Rogerian sense.

Which brings me to this essay, "Shopcraft as Soulcraft," by Matthew Crawford, lately linked off the Arts and Letters page of the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

Let me say up front that on the whole it is a fine piece of work, and that I like his thesis. Further, my students liked the essay too, despite its length and his discouraging habit of saying things like "gratuitous ontological insecurity is no fun for most people."

This point here, for instance, is an excellent one:

" While manufacturing jobs have certainly left our shores to a disturbing degree, the manual trades have not. If you need a deck built, or your car fixed, the Chinese are of no help. Because they are in China. And in fact there are reported labor shortages in both construction and auto repair. Yet the trades and manufacturing are lumped together in the mind of the pundit class as “blue collar,” and their requiem is intoned. Even so, the Wall Street Journal recently wondered whether “skilled [manual] labor is becoming one of the few sure paths to a good living.” This possibility was brought to light for many by the bestseller The Millionaire Next Door, which revealed that the typical millionaire is the guy driving a pickup, with his own business in the trades. My real concern here is not with the economics of skilled manual work, but rather with its intrinsic satisfactions. I mention these economic rumors only to raise a suspicion against the widespread prejudice that such work is somehow not viable as a livelihood."

But -- here comes my giant but -- all through the essay, Crawford has passages like these:

"The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, who has no real effect in the world."

"Finding myself at loose ends one summer in Berkeley, I built a mahogany coffee table on which I spared no expense of effort. At that time I had no immediate prospect of becoming a father, yet I imagined a child who would form indelible impressions of this table and know that it was his father’s work."

"More fundamentally, the durable objects of use produced by men “give rise to the familiarity of the world, its customs and habits of intercourse between men and things as well as between men and men,” as Hannah Arendt says."

Women, when they appear in Crawford's discourse at all, (apart from the scholars he cites) appear as wives -- there to sniff him when he returns from a hard day at work and attempt to guess, unsuccessfully, of course, about what he might have been doing all day long (such things being beyond a woman, I'm to suppose?) or to accompany the man to the bars he frequents and be the audience as he wins applause from the bikers whose machines he has repaired.

My students, who are, and I swear to you, good students -- they have cottoned on to this Rogerian thing, they understand the damage that is done when a writer fails to reach out to his audience -- but when I pointed this problem out to them, how Crawford, by ignoring half of the population, lost half of his audience, not only did they utterly refuse to agree with me, refuse to admit that this problem existed in Crawford's essay, they grew absolutely furious with me for pointing it out.

Not all of them, mind you. Three or four of the women agreed with me.

But about nine of the men and maybe three of the women were pretty angry.

So we've still got some room to go, folks, turning this red state blue.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Not to gloat, because that would be rude,

but doesn't it feel good, to have the good guys winning again, finally?

Yay, America!

A New Day, A New Plan

So what about this idea: We impeach Bush. Then we impeach Cheney. Then Pelosi is the new President.

Whaddaya say?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Diane Speaks Out

If you're still confused about what the problem is with the Bush Administration, or this administration general, Diane over at The Dees Diversion has done a fine job of making it clear:

...people are fed up with the war in Iraq, but not with the fact that the U.S. has been responsible for killing who knows how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens. And they are not fed up with the fact that Bush has poisoned them and their children with industrial toxins. Nor are they fed up with the fact that he has destroyed the economy, instructed schools to teach that girls should be submissive, brought about the suffering and death of countless African women and children (his very first act as alleged president), broken the wall that separates church and state, refused to permit Americans their guaranteed freedom of speech, supported the torture and rape of detainees, removed the basic rights of the accused, replaced science with right-wing Christian jabberwocky, and determined that he does not have to obey any national laws.

It hasn't helped that the news media has refused to discuss Bush's (actually, Cheney's, of course) enthusiastic destruction of our country, which was way far from being what it should be, but is now broken beyond recognition. And it hasn't helped that the "liberals" have, with a few blessed exceptions, gone along with the program.

There's more.

Vote Them Out!

The kid asked me this morning what this election day was for -- she knows it's not to to vote Bush out, she's been doing the count down for that since she was six. I explained what this election was for and how even if we couldn't get rid of the idiot in chief it was still an important election, since we could get rid of many of the very bad men who were letting their chief do things like pass torture bills and get rid of habeas corpus and put us in a war in a Iraq that served no purpose (aside from slaughter and increasing terrorism and ill-will against America) while here at home he was putting on flashy shows like the Defense of Marriage Act to distract his base.

"So we still have to get out and vote," I finished, "even if we can't get every one of them out. We can change a little of it with this vote, at least."

So get out and vote, y'all. Hear?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Another Reason to Vote Them Out

Just in case you needed one, you know.

Alyssa Peterson...[an]Army specialist who spoke Arabic and served in Iraq as an interrogator. She passed away on the night of September 15th, 2003 in Iraq. She was not killed by insurgents or friendly fire. She shot herself to death with her own service rife.

Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


So we went out last night in the Other Liberal Professor's 'hood. The Kid was a dragon ("I am a dragon from a spell-cast village," she announced. "I need lots of candy to save the world.") and Miles was a very dapper green Power Ranger and Mick was a handsome cowboy. We scored big time on the candy, let me tell you.

Mick was excellent at finding houses that were giving the candy. (Not all houses do, in AR. This is due to the Fundie thing. Because Halloween is the holiday of the devil, say many of our churches here*. So many people will not give candy or put out pumpkins, because they would be encouraging Satan's work by doing so. But, this being the South, no one wants to be rude about it, so we have evolved a polite way to indicate who thinks Halloween is evil and who's cool with it: if you're cool with it, you put out a pumpkin and leave your porch light on. If you think it's Satan's work, you do no pumpkining and keep all your lights off. Very civil, in't it?) Anyway, Mick, by the time we had gone half a block, had figured this system out --- he's 20 months old -- and was finding the next target and pointing it out to us, urging us on to the candy, the candy! He's a clever boy, our Mick.

Me, I was ready to head home by the 21st house ("Don't we have enough candy?" I hinted, because their plastic pumpkins were full) but I got scoffed at. Enough candy? What was I talking? We pressed on! We got more candy!

Then we collapsed! Luckily we were not far from the Other Liberal Professor's home at that point, because when 8 and 5 year olds collapse, it is not a pretty sight, even if they are dragons and Power Rangers.

*Here's an ancient post of mine on the topic