I Should be Stoned to Death

That is, if we followed the Torah word-for-word — death by stoning is the punishment for women who wear pants, or people who insult their parents (guilty and guilty). Luckily, when evaluating laws in religious texts, we realize that (a) those texts represent ancient laws which usually don’t apply in modern society, and (b) we live in a country with a secular government, and we don’t make law based on religion. Or do we? In a must-read editorial, Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein writes:

You don’t need to be a Reform Jew to realize that these ancient laws are beyond the pale. Among them is the infamous ayin tachat ayin — an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. To modern Western culture, this is simply barbarism.

Yet last spring, jurors in Colorado consulted this section of the Bible in deciding whether to put a man to death. When the state Supreme Court reviewed the case, it overturned the execution, ruling that one may not consult a religious text in administering American justice.

What happened there symbolizes the brewing storm that threatens to change the nature of our Constitution — a full-force attempt to bring down the wall separating church from state. As Americans, we cannot afford to be guilty of the sin of silence, guilty of the sin of indifference, guilty of the sin of secret complicity of the neutral — because our country’s democratic soul is at stake.

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Posted in Religion | 17 Comments

Xmas Hilarity

The Scared of Santa Gallery

via Norbizness

Posted in Holidays & Celebrations, Recommended | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Goodness and Weirdness

Garbage Soup + Crusty Bread + Asiago Cheese = Wintery Goodness

Even Ethan agrees, and this is a kid that will eat anything except stinky cheese.

Just a moment ago, Doug went from sitting contentedly on my lap to emitting a bizarre yowl, a weird, shaky meow strange enough to bring Pablo running into the office to see what was going on. Then, Doug hissed at me for the first time ever before jumping down, shaking himself off, and looking generally irritated. It sounded as though he was in pain. I’m a tad worried.

I need to get a job with benefits ASAP so I can get all four of us into a doctor for our regular checkups. The kitties are in dire need of a vet visit and E and I could use a trip to the dentist and the doctor. The to-do list keeps growing.

Posted in Domesticity, Vanity | Tagged , | 9 Comments

The South Dakota Task Force on Abortion

Several must-reads on the most biased report I’ve ever seen:

Echidne of the Snakes: Pro-Life Objectivity

This, my dear readers, might be the new definition of objectivity in the faith-based society. A painstaking and careful attempt to present one-sided information and to stomp the opposition into silence. You might be interested in learning that the possible health risks of abortion are widely discussed but delivering a child is apparently without any risks whatsoever. Or that all the “victim statements” of abortion sufferers came through one person in Texas. Or that the Report argues for abstinence-only education in the Brave New World that would be created if its other recommendations are followed. Imagine that: you can give birth to a baby because your brother raped you but you can’t learn about condoms.

Thoughts of an Average Woman: South Dakota on Abortion

What should scare the beejeesus out of you, and each and every one of us, is the lack of objectivity. From the start, North Dakotians couldn’t possibly have had any expectations of objectivity from this task force, as 15 of the 17 members were anti-abortionists. You have to acknowledge that the report was biased, as even some of the anti-abortion-believing task-force members called this report biased, and untruthful.

The Well-Timed Period: The South Dakota Taskforce to Study Abortions Report

Again, according to the task force, the criteria used to judge credibility and competence are admitted biases and organizational affiliations. Not relevant education or profession. Not scientific fact. Not study methodology, or any of the other scientifically rigorous, established, and accepted criteria.

So what’s the problem with [at a minimum] Drs. Unruh and Wachs, and Senator Jay Duenwald? According to the task force’s own criteria, since they are advocates for lack of reproductive choice and members of activist organizations that support regulating abortion out of existence, with the admitted bias of stopping abortion, they are neither credible, nor competent. As such, they have no place on a task force to study abortions.

As the first installment of her series as she reads this report, this is a must-read. Ema is also an OB-GYN.

Or you can read the 72-page report for yourself, provided by the kindly women at Feministing. Keep your highlighter handy.

Posted in Health, Law, Reproductive Rights, Sex | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Final Thoughts on Student Teaching

A very long post taken in part from my final reflection paper, taken in part from previous posts, plus stories on individual students.

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Tagged | 9 Comments

New GOP Immigration Plan: Change Citizenship Laws

Because it just ain’t fair that some brown babies get to be citizens simply by virtue of being born here. The plan by 92 House members would change U.S. citizenship laws, which currently afford automatic citizenship to children born here. The issue here is a section of the 14th Amendment, which reads:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

Pretty clear, right? But, sadly, no.

John C. Eastman, director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at Chapman University in Orange, told the House immigration panel in September that the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” suggests that the 14th Amendment does not apply to children of undocumented immigrants because their parents are living in the United States illegally.

Ok, I call bullshit — the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” basically means that one is subject to U.S. law. Children of immigrants, even illegal immigrants, certainly are. Where’s the argument here? And what part of “All persons born” do these folks not understand?

Thankfully, others point out that the underlying (il)logic of this proposal is deeply flawed:

Because of the length of time involved, some immigration experts say that birthright citizenship is not a major incentive for the vast majority of illegal entrants.

“No, absolutely not,” said Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. “It’s something that a few middle-class professional people do. I have never met a poor person who has his wife walk across the desert at eight months pregnant so they can wait 21 years to be sponsored by their child.”

Going after babies really isn’t the way to deal with illegal immigration.

Posted in Politics, Race & Ethnicity | Tagged | 32 Comments

Political Crime and Security Culture

The outrageous news from yesterday pushes me to believe that, even as non-violent and non-activist citizens, we need to cultivate a security culture. Though the preliminary reports are likely incomplete, the information provided by the Times and WaPo, expanded upon by Hilzoy, Terrance, and Avedon Carol, is chilling.

More disturbing is that the Times had this story for over a year and, for whatever reason, did not publish the information. Election politics? The Times also did not disclose what circumstances surrounding the story changed, enabling them to publish the story after sitting on it for a year. To our detriment.

Worse, Bush came out today defending his use of this arguably unconstitutional practice citing that the American people want him to do whatever it takes to “protect” us, and assuring us that it had been cleared by the Justice Department. Thankfully many politicians are refusing to toe a party line and defend the president on this business. Arlen Specter, Judiciary Committee Chairman and Pennsylvania Republican, “planned to investigate use of the wiretaps after the New York Times reported on them. Specter, said such a practice would be ‘clearly and categorically wrong.'”

From Forbes:

According to former officials familiar with the policy, Bush signed an executive order in 2002 granting new surveillance powers to the National Security Agency — the branch of the U.S. intelligence services responsible for international eavesdropping, and whose existence was long denied by the government.

“I want to know precisely what they did: how NSA utilized their technical equipment, whose conversations they overheard, how many conversations they overheard, what they did with the material, what purported justification there was … and we will go from there,” Specter said.

I’m donning my tinfoil cap. *cough*

Also read Bush on Wiretapping : I Did It And I’ll Do It Again, and for a more political angle, Bush’s Critics Are Absolutely Right: The President Must Not be Above the Law

Update: Ezra gets at the heart of the matter. via Majikthise

Posted in Crime, Law, Politics, War | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

I Heart Fat Babies

My womb aches. Knitting is the only cure.

Posted in Domesticity | Tagged | 9 Comments

What Torture Looks Like

Conservatives: The U.S. Military doesn’t torture prisoners.

Ah. We’ve just killed a handful, and brutalized many more, but it wasn’t torturous killing.

What is being characterized as torture now are such techniques as sleep deprivation, diet management and stress positions. They do not result in death. They do not result in permanent scarring or injury. But they do result in prisoners talking – nearly 100 percent of the time.

…then explain the deaths of prisoners during U.S. interrogation, if all they’re doing is being deprived of sleep. It’s important to note that U.S. forces are also training the Iraqi police and Iraqi special forces, who are also engaging in torture. And does sleep deprivation look like this? Or this? Or this? (warning: very graphic).

Posted in War | Tagged , , | 32 Comments

The Priorities of Conservative Christians

Laudably, Christian groups are protesting the very anti-Christian Republican budget cuts that “would save $50 billion over five years by trimming food stamp rolls, imposing new fees on Medicaid recipients, squeezing student lenders, cutting child-support enforcement funds and paring agriculture programs.” Cutting domestic programs that help the poor is not the way to save money, they say, particulary when “House and Senate negotiators are hashing out their differences on a tax-cutting measure that is likely to include an extension of cuts in the tax rate on dividends and capital gains.”

But who’s absent from the protests? Mainstream Christian conservatives like Dobson and Falwell.

Conservative Christian groups such as Focus on the Family say it is a matter of priorities, and their priorities are abortion, same-sex marriage and seating judges who will back their position against those practices.

Right. Because preventing some homos from getting married is way more important than making sure people have food to eat and enough money to support their children (you know, “pro-life” groups and their concern for actual babies).

Or in other words:

Jim Wallis, editor of the liberal Christian journal Sojourners and an organizer of today’s protest, was not buying it. Such conservative religious leaders “have agreed to support cutting food stamps for poor people if Republicans support them on judicial nominees,” he said. “They are trading the lives of poor people for their agenda. They’re being, and this is the worst insult, unbiblical.”

Now I should be clear that the problem here is with mainstream religious conservative groups, like Focus on the Family. While their reach certainly extends to similiarly-situation churches, many demoninations have come out against these tax cuts, including the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church USA and United Church of Christ.

It is fun, though, to see the conservative godbags dance around the issue, and manage to assert that tax cuts for big businesses are “pro-family.” While religious protesters line up to oppopse budget cuts that hurt they poor, they chant a phrase from Isaiah: “Woe to you legislators of infamous laws . . . who refuse justice to the unfortunate, who cheat the poor among my people of their rights, who make widows their prey and rob the orphan.”

What do Dobson et al have to say?

Acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said yesterday that the activists’ position is not “intellectually right.”

The “right tax policy,” such as keeping tax rates low on business investment, “grows the economy, increases federal revenue — and increased federal revenue makes it easier for us to pursue policies that we all can agree have social benefit,” he said.

Ah, ok.

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said the government’s role should be to encourage charitable giving, perhaps through tax cuts.

“There is a [biblical] mandate to take care of the poor. There is no dispute of that fact,” he said. “But it does not say government should do it. That’s a shifting of responsibility.”

That’s right, the old “personal responsibility” card. Love it. Backward, Christian Soldiers.

Posted in Politics, Religion | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Hot Political Wear

Pro-choice, political, environmentally-friendly fashion that’s actually really cute? Sound impossible? Check out AuH20 designs by my dear friend Kate Goldwater. Every piece she creates is made from recycled clothing — stuff people outgrew, didn’t want anymore, or were going to throw out — and every piece is unique. Kate supports pro-choice activism (she’s president of Voices for Choice at NYU) and Bryan Kennedy, a Wisconsin politician who is running for a position in the U.S. House of Representatives. About her designs, Kate writes:

Just like the American Indians used every part of the buffalo, I use every inch of the material to produce little waste. From long sleeve work shirts I use the collar, cuffs and button-down front to dress up an old t-shirt (see above.) Then, with the remaining fabric, I make a short, flowy work-shirt skirts, adding a tie through the belt loops.

As for the political motivations, I also make clothing for a cause. I support advertising one’s political beliefs through any means, blogging, art, clothing, etc. I’ve commited myself to two main campaigns for this line: pro-choice activism and the election of Professor Bryan Kennedy in my hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In an age of sweat-shop labor and mass-production, it’s difficult to find socially responsible clothing. AuH2O Designs are not only individual, home-made garments, but you know where the material is coming from (closets and thrift stores) and where the money is going (Bryan Kennedy and well, me.)

And even better, her clothes are hot. Yeah, she’s my friend, but that’s not the only reason I’m whoring for her — her stuff is genuinely great. It’s very urban, slightly bohemian, and generally East Village-y — think Scarlett Johansen, Chloe Sevigny and the Olsen twins. (Side story: One of the Olsens actually spotted Kate at NYU, complimented her home-made shirt, and asked where she could get one).

Her political wear is really cool as well. I have her “Voices for Choice” tank top, and two “This Is What Pro-Choice Looks Like” shirts (and yes, that is me with Kate modeling the pro-choice tank on her site). And Kate is just a cool human being:

Kate is a self-identified feminist, the cliche kind: unshaven, radical and granola. She’s active in NYU’s pro-choice club, previously interned for NARAL Pro-Choice NY, and escorts for Planned Parenthood. She uses a sea sponge, the reusable, organic, environmental and economical form of a tampon, and paints with her menstrual blood. She depicts topics including: reproductive rights and access to abortion/contraception, violence against women, sexual discrimination, female genital cutting, and recently, dangerous nominees to the Supreme Court.

Other than sewing and painting, her interests include soccer, tennis and web design. In her spare time, she enjoys watching episode upon episode of 7th Heaven.

Yeah, that’s right: Not only does this woman design hot pro-choice and environmentally-friendly clothing, but she’s active in the pro-choice movement, she’s an awesome athelete, and she’s an amazing artist who paints with her period blood (her picture of the pope is my personal favorite).

So check her shit out. I love this girl, I love her stuff, and I think a lot of you will too.

Posted in Feminism | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Some Good Music

Lauren is far more of a good music snob than me (snobby in a good way, I mean), but I thought I’d share some music from Carewe, a pet project by my friend Blair. Check ’em out.

Posted in Music | Comments Off on Some Good Music