Friday, November 30, 2007


A bit more proof that we are living in a patriarchy where the almighty erection is worshiped:

From today's NYT Front page article on suppliers fighting to keep a Medicare boon While the article is on how much the government is being taken, it also is a reflection on our patriarchal culture.

"For example, last year Medicare spent more than $21 million on pumps to help older and disabled men attain erections, paying about $450 for the same device that is available online for as little as $108. Even for a simple walking cane, which can be purchased online for about $11, the government pays $20, according to government data. "

Need I also say that both Medicare and medicaid pay for Viagra, but not birth control...

And for a more humorous look at curing sexual dysfunction among other things:

BTW, I wonder if vibrators are covered by Medicare, especially since there are more senior women than there are senior men, women are a majority, and their needs should be covered :).

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"An assault on the Poor"

"An assault on the poor" that is what dissenting judges said in the case of the San Diego's district Attorney's program "Project 100%" Project 100% was started to eliminate welfare fraud by conducting warrant less searches of homes of applicants for welfare--to make sure who was living there, including searching closets and cabinets. Those who denied entry to the agents/officers were denied assistance.
The Supreme Court yesterday refused a writ of certiorari ( to hear) a San Diego County case of unannounced warrant less searches of public assistance applicants or in other words no more 4th amendment rights if you are asking for help!
While most of us might say, well, they are poor and we do not want fraud. The fact is that they are still citizens. Though if they accept public housing they are subject to more warrant less searches courtesy of a HUD (Housing and Urban Development) Public Housing Act and a 2002 Supreme court case (HUD v Rucker) that allows for evictions if the guests of a tenant in public housing might have engaged in criminal activity on or off the public housing premises--or no more freedom of association.

Oh, but this is to keep them safe and orderly. And, if they only worked harder they would not be poor. . .You can work very hard at minimum wage and not make enough to survive (do the math: $7.15 times 40hours times fifty two weeks) How many jobs must they have at minimum wage to even reach the federal standard of paying 30% of their gross wages for housing (and utility) costs? Three full time jobs at minimum!

How far away are you from any governmental program? Could this happen to you?

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Monday, November 26, 2007

charity begins ...

According to Gina Trapani, raised $4,000 for Donorschoose.

I just read in Oprah's mag a piece that said something to the effect of instead of giving aunt blabla the $100 scarf, give her a $50 scarf and donate the other $50. I think that is one way to get people to be more generous.

While I am all for giving to charities so that persons in need can get out of need, I am a bit miffed that this current administration and the ones going back to Reagan, including Clinton's administration have been actively getting government out of the business of helping people, and trying to privatize charity (again).

As one of my friends said this weekend, "if you are rich the government helps you, to become richer" to which I added "if you are poor, its your fault, you are just not working hard enough according to the neocons of this administration. " It does not matter that you could work 3 full time minimum wage jobs and still not be able to afford adequate housing. That food stamps only allows you $21 per week per person for food.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Black Friday Alternatives

Now that we have eaten our fill, some of us are planning to start the major shop until you drop.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday because this is when most retail stores leave the red ink side of the ledger and enter the black.
Many stores are offering inducements to shop. Some are opening very early, before the sun is even up.

For those of you who have too many things already, and whose friends also have a wonderment of abundance here are some alternative ways to use your money that will benefit others who really need ... Since 1944 this not for profit has been practicing the motto of "teaching a family to fish" rather than giving them fish to end world hunger. You can help a family by buying a cow (or a part of one) or a flock of chicks or a sheep or perhaps some bees. The family then passes on some of their gifts offspring to another family in their village. Truly the gift that keeps on giving. On this site you make a micro load to an entrepreneur in the developing world--you choose what business and how much-- helping to lift them from poverty. The loans get repaid, and you can re-cycle your original loan to some other business. On this website teachers ask for donations for specific projects or supplies. You choose the one(s) that fit your own wishes... This is Finca International's website. They make micro loans to poor women around the globe; empowering women as they try to eliminate poverty.

Of course, you can also make donations in the name of any of your friends or family to the charity of your own choice, too.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Trying to find Hope

Thanksgiving. . .that harvest holiday of great myth which used to mark the beginning of the Christmas marketing blitz* with Santa arriving as part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, lots of food with relatives liked and not, football games to sleep by in a turkey induced coma. . .or a gathering of old friends around a big meal raising our glasses and our voices as we discuss and debate the issues of the day.

It is hard to remember what we are thankful for as the no excuse for war drags on longer than the second world war, when mercenaries we hire answer to no rule of law, when last month's casualties in Afghanistan were among the highest, when our Bill of Rights has been trampled on by the persons sworn to protect it, when the costs of gas and heating oil, food and shelter are no longer affordable, when the president who wants to leave no child behind leaves all poor children without health care. . .its very hard indeed.

For to be thankful one needs to also be hopeful. Hopeful that America will find her moral compass, that democracy will rule the day, that (___ fill in your own blank___).

*the marketing blitz started as soon as the ghosts and goblins disappeared

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Property & Poverty

I am currently writing the chapter about property ownership as a marker of citizenship. And, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. makes the connection so very clear in his Op-Ed in Today's NYT "Forty Acres and a Gap in Wealth." That is a must read, as is Teacherken's diary on the DailyKOS--he articulates what I would have herein.

Gates in the NYT:

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

On sexism

Please see my post at

Monday, November 12, 2007

American Democracy at Stake

We have had a president and attorney generals that have redefined torture. The current Attorney General nominee, Mukasy, will not say that waterboarding is torture and is illegal. Blackwater is our outsourced paramilitary, who seem to be immune to law.
We have been practicing rendition to our secret prisons and our not so secret ones.
We have laws that allow wiretapping, allow the president to declare any one--that is ANY ONE, citizen or not, an enemy combatant and relieve them of their rights of due process and freedom.
Early on after 9/11 the president declared "If you are not with us, you are against us" Thus. trying to silencing dissent as unpatriotic. Six years later, the media hardly covers any protests, and most protests are contained in "Free Speech Zones" far from any person or persons they might be trying to persuade, or inform. (Persuasion has been the means of peaceful discourse, or change--it is the reason why we have the first amendment rights of free speech, association and assembly).
The media pays more attention to the utterance of the "N" word by a "so-called celebrity" then they do to the fact that more soldiers died in Afghanistan this past month then since we went there in search of Osama. Thanks to Rosie O'Donnell for this insight Saturday at the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute Feminist conference.

I could go on ..but we know the grievances, we need to act.

Naomi Wolf outlined the 10 slippery steps from democracy down to dictatorship; and we are well down that staircase to hell. The 10 steps are:
Invoke and External and Internal Threat:
Establish Secret Prisons;
Develop a Paramilitary Force;
Surveil Ordinary Citizens, Infiltrate Citizens' Groups, Arbitrarily Detain and Release Citizens, Target Key Individuals;
Restrict the Press;
Cast Criticism as "Espionage" and Dissent as "Treason";
and Subvert the Rule of Law.

Citizenship is not a spectator sport--exercise your rights or they will disappear.

Naomi Wolf's The End of America : A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (Chelsea Green, 2007)

Frank Rich's 11/11/07 NYT Column


Friday, November 09, 2007

Almost the End of Employment Discrimination

Bella Abzug* is rejoicing, albeit 33 years later: The House of Representatives has passed a bill that will end discrimination of lesbians and gays (and people who others identify as lesbian and gay) in the workplace. In a 1975 press conference Bella declared that "[gays and lesbians] are a very extensive minority who have suffered discrimination and who have the same right to participation in the promise and fruits of society as every other individual."

The Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) still has to pass the Senate (but last time the vote was sooooo close, this time it is a definite possibility). Oh, and then the bill will land on the President's desk--he of course, has promised to veto it. Can we say homophobe and/ or hypocritical Christian and/or the anti-American Values (and Practices) President--you know those values we recite at the end of the Pledge of Allegiance, the ones in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and reiterated in the 14th amendment or maybe its easier to just say he is a plain old fashioned bigot?

Thirty states do not have laws that protect people from homophobia on their jobs (or potential jobs). People can be fired (or not hired) just because they "look gay" -- The Cracker Barrel Restaurant chain did this--firing good workers including heterosexuals because they thought the workers were gay. (Twenty states do have employment protections that extend to homosexuals). Here is a map

Some homosexual groups are opposed to ENDA because it does not extend employment protections to transgendered/transsexual persons. IMHO, these transsexuals are already protected by laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex. Transgendered persons, will be covered by ENDA if they are homosexual, or by the existing anti -discrimination if they are not, again IMHO.

For more information about discrimination against homosexuals:
In general
About ENDA

*Bella Abzug and Ed Koch introduced the very first version of ENDA in 1974!

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hint: Play to the Women Voters

Bob Herbert wrote about the impact women voters will have in the upcoming presidential election based on a lifetime poll. Women make up over 52% of the population, and if we register and vote, we can make a difference in the outcome. Women's votes are important especially when you consider that when women got the vote, politicians figured that women would vote as their fathers or husbands told them to, and we have seen the difference "Soccer Moms" made in the past. (What original state allowed women to vote until this was right was repealed in 1807? New Jersey! )
It is very likely that more women will turn out at the polls because there is a woman candidate in a major party who is the front runner. (Who was the first woman to run for President? Bet your history books did not mention Victoria Woodhull, 1870 )

Yet the politicos are playing it as if only men vote on the so-called men's issues: defense, war, terrorism, economics. Women care about these issues and more: civil liberties, education, health care, childcare. . .

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Mushareff's newest defense

Mushareff declared that the reason he has cancelled democracy in Pakistan is not only the terrorists attacks but because of judicial activism! The Pakistani Supreme Court is to rule on whether General Mushareff's election was legitimate or not.

Security forces have arrested opposition party workers, lawyers and human rights advocates. Security forces continue to block the Supreme Court and the Parliament. Parliamentary elections scheduled for January has been postponed. Television is off the air--including CNN & BBC.

The constitution has been suspended. Protests are not tolerated.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Could it happen here?

Pakistan's President, Pervez Musharraf, declared emergency rule and has suspended the country’s constitution. Supposedly because of the terrorist attacks over the past few weeks. But others are pointing to the fact that the Pakistani Supreme Court was about to rule on whether or not (General) Musharraf was eligible to stand for election while he was the army chief, and thus, whether or not his re-election was legal.

Hint: The Bush administration has disregarded international treaties--IE, he called the Geneva Convention "pesky." He has instituted extra-constitutional measures (which Congress has signed on to) such as the Patriot Act, and the Military Commissions Act. He "corrects'"any bills as he signs them into law via signing statements.


Dorothy, We are not in Kansas any more. . .

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

A new draft law has been submitted by the Canadian government requiring Muslim women to lift their face veils if they wish to vote ( ). The proposed law is supposedly an attempt to deter voter fraud. It makes an exception for facial bandages--they do not have to be removed, but the bandaged would be voter has to show 2 forms of ID and/or have another person vouch for them. So why can't veiled women do the same?
How many veiled Muslim women are there? Not all Muslim women wear the hijab and veil.
Would it make a difference if the law was asking men to do something as opposed to women?
What is the instance of voter fraud?
Here in the US of A, its very, very, very low, for instance and its not veiled women or illegal aliens who are voting--we are lucky if we can get American citizens to register to vote , less than 80% of the total population who are eligible to vote are registered, and then exercise their right to vote--less than 60% of the 80% registered actually turn up at the polls, and that's for a major election!

Two weeks ago I heard the historian Joan Scott read from her new book The Politics of the Veil
(Princeton University Press, 2007) about the French law banning religious symbols/garb in public schools. She said less than 100 girls wore the hijab when the law was passed...what is actually happening???

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