Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Carnival of the Liberals # 13 is Up & Running!

Carnival Of The Liberals # 13 is now up at Lucky White Girl.  

Run over there, and follow those links!

Good articles, all.  (I think my blogroll is going to get some new blood this week…)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"Murdered while Black" = "Spike the Story?"

Rachael Entwhistle, with daughter LillianThree women.

What do these three women have in common?

All three are from the Boston area, and all three were murdered under circumstances to make any tabloid editor willing to blast the story with 140-pt type.

Dominique Samuels (yearbook photo)

Three women.

Now, what do two of these women have in common, and the third doesn’t?

The stories of their murders made national headlines, and the stories stayed in the limelight for weeks.

Imette St. GuillenThree women.

Can you guess which two?

Can you guess what else those two have in common, but not the third?

If you guessed that the first and third were the ones whose stories had legs, you have already guessed what they had in common.

They are, in order:
  • Rachael Entwhistle, 27, murdered in her Hopkington home, with her infant daughter, Lillian. Her husband has been arrested for the murders, after he was extradited from England

  • Dominique Samuels, age 19, murdered and her almost nude body burned in a field behind a local hospital

  • Imette St. Guillen, age 24, a student from Boston, murdered outside a club in the Bowery.  A bouncer from that club has been arrested and charged with her murder

  • The Entwhistle and St. Guillen murders garnered weeks of publicity and media profiles from the instant that the bodies were discovered, partly because the circumstances were so tabloid-worthy.

    Yet Dominique Samuels, whose murder should be prime fodder for the news cycle, has been ignored by the media outside of the Boston area.

    Samuels, a young girl who was a part-time student in community college, had been captain of the cheerleading squad at her high school, was murdered, her body, clothed only in shorts and one sneaker, was dumped into Franklin Park behind the Lemuel Shattuck hospital, doused with accelerant and put ablaze.

    This should have all the legs of any big story – a young, pretty woman, well-liked, described as a “big sister to everybody,” who liked to bake cookies and make sandwiches for her friends, a murder and a horrific treatment of the body, either in hatred and spite or as an attempt to disguise the identity of the victim.

    But where is the attention from the wider media?

    I don’t usually watch the television news, and my newspaper reading outside of the Boston papers is usually limited to the politics, national and international news sections.  I had thought that it seemed there was no coverage of Samuels murder outside of Boston, but I put it down to my reading the “wrong sections.”  Apparently I wasn’t the only one wondering.

    This question was also asked by one of the Boston dailies, the Boston Herald.  The Herald contacted both CNN and FOX about the disparity:
    Cable talk show hosts and local radio talk jocks tirelessly debated every new development as well as the evidence and motives in the Entwistle and St. Guillen murders. Coverage hit saturation levels.

    Nancy Grace of CNN’s Headline News was among the cable hosts who covered the St. Guillen and Entwistle cases extensively.

    Janine Iamunno, a spokeswoman for Grace, said the show’s researchers hadn’t learned of Samuels’ murder until contacted by the Herald yesterday. Grace plans to put the case on her show tonight and cover it more extensively next week, Iamunno said.

    A bevy of other cable network hosts, including Greta Van Susteren of Fox News, also extensively covered the Entwistle and St. Guillen cases, but have not addressed Samuels’ murder . A Fox spokeswoman declined comment. ...
    Sadly, there have been enough other cases of “missing/murdered while black” that just slip under the news writer’s notice to dismiss this as just a case of it being overlooked.

    As Errol Cockfield, himself a reporter for Newsday and a board member of the National Association of Black journalists, said to the Herald’s reporter:

    … if the national media doesn’t pick up the Samuels murder, “It’s proof to me that there’s something wrong with newsroom managers in terms of how they think about race.

    “It’s the same old story with the national media,” Cockfield added. “It’s clear to me that if it’s a white woman who is affected that more attention is paid to than if a black woman is affected.”

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Something is wrong

    Something is very wrong.

    It’s been 40 years since Griswold v. Connecticut.

    It’s been 33 years since Roe v. Wade

    Women’s reproductive rights in this country seemed finally, if not assured, at least settled.  The battle to outlaw abortion seemed restricted to the far fringe, which showed their desperation with violence.  The rights to access to contraception seemed rock solid, with no meaningful opposition.

    Now, with the rise to power of a GOP that is beholden to a small, but well-heeled and vocal, minority seeking a fundamentalist theocracy, not only is access to safe and legal elective abortions endangered, but those same elements are fighting access to basic contraception, and contraceptive information.

    Along with the effort to deny access to effective family planning choices, a woman’s right to emergency contraception (EC) is being endangered under the guise of “moral choice” laws for pharmacists and an FDA that is adamant that it will keep EC from being offered over-the-counter.  

    And proving that not only do the would-be theocrats have a staunch ability to completely ignore facts, and showing the true agenda of control over women’s choices, the stated reason for much of the opposition is that access to these contraceptives is because it will “increase the likelihood of teen sex.”

    Considering the actual rate of teen pregnancy in the Bible Belt, where “just say no” and “keep your knees closed” is often the sum total of sex-ed, it doesn’t appear that access to Plan B would have much impact. And it won't. This resistance to contraceptive choice is really the battle for who will control a woman's body -- she, herself or a pharamacist who doesn't even know her face, but, for their own sense of entitlement want to control what a woman can do with her own body, out of some supposed moral outrage.

    As an indication on how difficult it is likely to be for a woman who needs EC to have access to it over-the-counter or find a doctor to give a written prescription in the 72 hours for best effectiveness, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is now advising women to get a preemptive prescription to the morning-after pill.

    Get an advance prescription for emergency contraception so it will be on hand if you need it, the nation's largest gynecologist group advised women Monday.

    The new campaign aims to increase access to the morning-after pill following the Bush administration's refusal to allow the emergency birth control to be sold over the counter nationwide.

    "We want women to be prepared, well before a contraceptive failure or unprotected sex occurs.  Afterward may be too late," said Dr. Michael Mennuti, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

    Something is very, very wrong.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    I'm Depressed, Enraged and Frightened.

    Emergency hospital during influenza epidemic, Camp Funston, Kansas. (1918) - Image from the National Musuem of Health and Medicine Over on Poor Impulse Control Tata opened up an article with
    If you're feeling a bit depressed, skip to the next entry. This one's serious.
    Which, no matter how depressed I may, or may not, be, is sure to suck me in.

    She notes that 21 years ago, when Saint Ronnie was holding court, she had nightmares about nuked landscapes where nobody had a chance of survival (and yes, there were a number of close calls, where nothing more than stupid luck and some divine intervention kept us from making most of the globe glow a soft Cherenkov blue at night).

    And The Anointed Leader didn’t care that his international policies were putting the entire world at risk, and his domestic policies were putting the poor of the United States into a generation’s extra gulag of being an “underclass” and accelerated the process that was putting the then-middle class into the same camp.

    And, fast-forwarded to 2005, she noted the horror she felt at realizing that the federal government didn’t care, was incapable, or both, to do anything with the spectacle of seeing part of the continental United States turn into a 3rd-world suburb.

    And that the President has said, in as many words, that if the avian flu goes to a “worst-case” status that your federal government is going to say “tough love kids, you’re on your own.”

    The same government that is composed of elected officials, including the President, who have sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution that is the basis for the governing law of this nation, the same Constitution that says, in the first paragraph, that one of the aims of that Constitution is to “promote the general welfare.”

    Now I understand that this administration seems to have amply demonstrated that they seem incapable of *reading* that “Goddamn piece of paper,” but somebody in the Cato Institute should be capable of reading it to them.

    No, Tata, I’m not frightened. I’m enraged.

    No, I’m enraged and frightened.

    And I’m even more enraged that it feels like I can’t do anything more. My state (Massachusetts) Senators are pushing the conservatives in the Senate, my representatives in the House are pushing as well, but it feels like the whole damn house of cards is starting to slip away.

    21 years ago I was under the thought that there was some sort of continuing thread in the Congress and the Executive that felt that continuity and cooperation between the two sides of the aisle was a way to stability and continued progress, and that the absurdity of "tickle-down economics" was recognized by some in the GOP as "Voodoo.".

    But then the GOP decided that courting the far fringe of both politics and religion was the entrée to power, and all that went out the window. With the accession to power that marked the Contract On America, cooperation, moderation and any pretended nod to pluralism vanished. And the meager setback to that assault that occurred during the presidency of Clinton has been more than erased.

    This "administration," from the delusional cowboy and his sidekick drunken shot-gunner to the power-mongers in the senate and the house, to their real paymasters, the religious right, the neo-con wingnuts and the players behind the K-street lobbyists do not give a flying ***** about the people who are ordinary citizens. The "productivity gains" in the "job-loss economic recovery" are at the expense of overworking those people who haven't been moved out the door yet to shift their jobs overseas, and we're running up debt in billions for a war my great-grandchildren will be paying off, and basic food and healthcare are deemed "too expensive entitlements" by the Party's ideologues that control the Executive and Legislative branches and has managed to pack the Judicial as well, and bitch that they are being blocked by trhe Mean Liberals.

    In the event of a pandemic the religious fanatics will claim that it was "God's will" and anybody who dies is a “Sinner” who deserved to die, the neo-cons will view it as a way to cement “emergency powers” and extend hegemony over the Middle East “for the Good of the United States.” And the moneyed elite will view it as a confirmation of their elevated Right To Rule and as a way to control more of the lives of those who really generate the wealth.


    The current landscape in the United States is looking more and more like Russia in 1916, complete to the conscription into the armed forces of large numbers of skilled workers.

    Is this what two hundred and twenty-five years of our Republic has come to?

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    OK, so ads sometimes objectify men too...

    ...Or maybe not.

    I really don't understand the wording in any focus groups, either "within the company" or "in the real world" who would find a market for this, at least not a market that would justify the cost of R&D and the ad agency time.

    I will admit, though, that the ad is a hoot, in a surreal and really crass sort of way.

    High points?

    - watch the intro, please,
    - the test drive
    - "The basics," which is a kind of FAQ list,(aside from a truly tasteless homage to Basic Instinct) is smarmy and unremarkable, except for the the response to the question "What do you think of using scissors, tweezers or wax to remove body hair?"

    Down points --
    -- I haven't had the nerve to listen to the testimonials yet
    -- I didn't, no, I couldn't, finish the viewing of the music video.

    Heads-up courtesy of Andrew Sullivan (He's calling for a pre-emptive strike, BTW -- notice the difference between the published title of his blog entry and the permalink title.....)

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Specter to Call for hearings on Signing Statements

    Bush’s contention that he can ignore provisions of the Patriot Act, whose renewal he ushered last month, has drawn scrutiny. (Jim Young/ Reuters) Just days after an article in the Boston Sunday Globe highlighted the massive number of “Signing Statements” that President G.W. Bush has filed on laws he has had some issues with, Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) have called for answers from the White House about number and breadth of the assertions that Pres. Bush has made in the more than 750 signing statements he has recorded since he took office (this represents a rate of about 1-in-10 of the bills signed.), with Specter calling for Senate hearings in June on the issue. (See this article from the 05/03/06 Boston Globe).

    Since he has vetoed no bills, President Bush has not had any public debate over issues the he, in his role of the head of the Executive Branch may have had with legislation that comes across his desk for signing. In some cases, it has been reported that his signing statements directly conflict with some provisions that were crafted as compromises in order to satisfy objections to some proposals in a bill. As I noted in my own article yesterday, because the Office of the President is the overall head of the Executive branch of the Federal government, the signing statements provide guidance to officers of the Executive, including the Departments of Justice, Energy and Defense, when those entities craft regulations or act under provisions of those laws.

    This reinterpretation process of legislative provisions came to the fore during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on 05/02/06 when Sen. Specter announced his plans for calling for hearings, and when Sen. Feingold was bluntly told by FBI Director Robert Mueller that, if so directed by the executive branch, the real possibility was that the FBI would not comply with the oversight and Congressional briefings called for by the Patriot Act.

    At the hearing yesterday, Feingold pressed FBI director Robert Mueller to give assurances that the bureau would comply with provisions in the Patriot Act and to tell Congress how agents are using the law to search homes and secretly seize papers.

    Mueller said he saw no reason that the bureau couldn't share that information with Congress. But he also said that he was bound to obey the administration, and declined to promise that he would ''go out there and fight" on behalf of Congress if Bush decided to override the Patriot Act's oversight provision and ordered the FBI not to brief Congress.
    ''How can we know whether the government will comply with the new laws that we passed?" [Feingold] said. ''I'm not placing the blame on you, obviously, or your agents who work to protect this country every day, but how can we have any assurance that you or your agents have not received a secret directive from above requiring you to violate laws that we all think apply today?"

    Mueller replied: ''I can assure with you with regard to the FBI that our actions would be taken according to appropriate legal authorities."

    As in the question of what “is”, “is,” the question could become the definition of “appropriate legal authorities.”

    And, judging by past performance, the roster of those the Bush/Cheney Administration would call on for “advice” in these matters is truly troubling.