November 28, 2006

Alt-Holiday Events in the Bay Area

What better way to understand the true spirit of the holidays (love, acceptance, unity) than to celebrate San Francisco values-style?

Here's a few powerful antidotes to the tasteless consumer frenzy and that atrocious Christmas muzak I'm forced to endure at work:

The MeshugaNutcracker--A New Chanukah Musical
A Klezmer/Broadway-style production set to the music of Tchaikovsky.

A Queer Carol--"Unwrap a different kind of package"
Joe Godfrey'’s gay comic retelling of Dickens' holiday classic.

Santaland Diaries
David Sedaris'’ comedy about his experiences as a Macy'’s elf.

I'm Dreaming of a Wet Christmas
Submergency! is high-speed improv comedy with multimedia technology and squirtguns--the perfect late-night escape from the most wonderful time of the year.

Keep the Yuletide Gay
A Christmas comedy, featuring an incredibly awkward party complete with an alcoholic witch, some Lindsay Lohan perfume, warts, a bloody Santa, a Lionel Ritchie/Diana Ross duet, burnt dinner, some very unexpected skirt chasing.

Home for the Holidays
Featuring the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus

14th Annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy
A Jewish comedy on Christmas in a Chinese restaurant

**from SFGate's Holiday 2006 events listing.**

Enough to make O'Reilly's head explode.

November 27, 2006

Nir Rosen on Democracy Now!

There's been a shift lately since the Americans realized that Iraq is a failure, of blaming the Iraqi’s. The Iraqi’s need to step up, the Iraqi’s have to choose democracy, the Iraqi’s have to choose freedom. It is very popular for us to blame the Iraqi’s for the chaos that we’ve brought upon them. And, I think this will perhaps be something for the cameras in the US’s intent by Bush to show that he’s going to make Maliki, you know, seize the reigns of his country, or something absurd like that, because Maliki has no power of his own. The Iraqis actually did chose democracy, we just never gave them that democracy that they were demanding.


There was no civil war in Iraq until we got there. And there was no civil war in Iraq, until we took certain steps to pit Sunnis against Shias. And now it is just too late. But, we need to know we are responsible for what’s happening in Iraq today. I don't think Americans are aware of this.

--Nir Rosen, freelance writer and fellow at the New America Foundation. His latest article is called "Anatomy of a Civil War: Iraq's Descent into Chaos."

This is why it's so frustrating to hear Washington play the blame game. Democrats at least have expressed that deescalation is now beyond the scope of U.S. military influence, and nothing will be accomplished through protracted occupation. But this in no way absolves the U.S. of responsibilty for the chaos its brought on Iraqi civilians and on the region. The only way to stem the violence and save face would be to acknowledge mistakes and appeal to regional powers for help building stability. I doubt we'll see that anytime soon, given the hubris of our leadership.

November 24, 2006

Study: No link between Plan B & "risky behavior", STDs

Another thinly veiled argument backing the religious right's anti-women's empowerment agenda debunked by science:

Raymond's group discounts the possibility that emergency contraceptive is not very efficacious. Moreover, the theory that emergency contraceptive is counteracted by increased risk-taking was proven not to be the case in their study.

Instead, they believe that even when they could have emergency contraceptives on hand, subjects who became pregnant had not used the pills.

The investigators therefore conclude that a proactive program like theirs "would probably not be feasible for widespread, long-term use outside a study." Instead, they suggest a strategy that would target women at the highest risk of pregnancy.
Maybe the solution is greater accessibility accompanied by a campaign to counter misinformation propagated against the drug?

The headline on this article is "Pregnancy rates unchanged with Plan B on hand." I'm sure the study will be spun to defend the argument against emergency contraception, that making it more available accomplishes little to curb pregnancies. The abstract of the study does mention, however, that "the increased access group used emergency contraceptive pills substantially more often and sooner after coitus than the standard access group." Also--

The authors point out that the risk of STDs in the easy access group was slightly lower than in the control group, but not significantly different, relieving fears that easy access would increase STD rates.

I'm wondering if the study's results distinguish between intended pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies within the sample. Probably relevant, no? Shouldn't it be looking at whether there were fewer unintentional pregnancies in the sample that had Plan B on hand? Maybe that was included in the full results of the study.

Also (very appropriately) in the same November issues of Obstetrics & Gynecology--"Emergency Contraception: Politics and Science Move Forward ." About time.

November 22, 2006

Bush gets lei'd/suffocated by old bitty


"Stop fidgeting now, sonny..."

November 20, 2006

Self-hating neocon

Hawkish AEI fellow Joshua Muravchik is getting far too much press. I first picked up his radical militant agenda when Democracy Now! had him on as token wing-nut to debate Kucinich and McGovern last week. He had a temper tantrum during the interview, berating his opponents and Amy Goodman (or as he called her, "Miss Moderator").

Today he resurrected the "smoking gun mushroom cloud" in an LA Times opinion column featuring the screeching lede "WE MUST bomb Iran."
Wouldn't such a U.S. air attack on Iran inflame global anti-Americanism? Wouldn't Iran retaliate in Iraq or by terrorism? Yes, probably. That is the price we would pay. But the alternative is worse.
With Foreign Ministry in Tehran signaling its openness to negotiations, it seems the alternative is not nuclear holocaust, but diplomacy. Not if hard-liners like Muravchik have their way though--they'll dismiss diplomatic overtures because they'd rather exacerbate global instability and security, squandering any semblance of good-will the U.S. has left from the international community all in the name of regime change and regional dominance.

All this under the noble guise of "spreading democracy," the topic of a CSPAN Hudson Institute discussion aired tonight. Democracy is something Muravchik assumes is "good for everyone," though only if you vote for his guy, of course, so the Palestinian vote for "war and terror" (not a vote of no confidence for leadership hobbled by Israel's stranglehold) was illegit. Ariel Cohen of Heritage criticized Muravchik's "one-size-fits-all democratization policies." You know someone's out in right field when a Heritage fellow seems moderate in comparison. However Lee Smith, another panelist from the Hudson Institute also had his moments, remarking condescendingly, "Arabs need to fight it out themselves," and dismissing ramifications of anti-American sentiment in the region.

Muravchik's a pretty artless revisionist, using the end of Pinochet's regime in Chile as an example of democratic victory (of course he was "our bastard") and touting the U.S. as the infallible beacon of democracy. He says "power is gained or held by the use or threat of force" in the Middle East. And how does this differ from U.S. foreign policy under neoconservative rule?

I wondered how he got to be such an ideologue. Turns out he's a radical turn-coat like David Horowitz (swung from New Left to NewsMax)--he's the former leader of the Young People's Socialist League. I think it's telling that he characterizes socialism as the "faith" he was raised by. Fundamentalists are fundamentalists. The difference is that these two demagogues are legitimated by mainstream attention.

November 19, 2006

GOP just got a lot sexier...sorta

Marin county couple behind the Global Orgasm for Peace seek to reclaim the republican acronym, along with Dec 22nd for a day of uh, "direct action."

Concerned about escalations against Iran, Donna Sheehan (no relation to Cindy) and her partner Paul Reffel devised their strategy in hopes that a combined effort would have the power to disarm tensions and direct the movement of U.S. battleships in the Persian Gulf (?!). They say it's all in the motion of the ocean.

Carol Queen, the staff sexologist at San Francisco's Good Vibrations store says "it's natural to link pleasure and peace. If you're experiencing pleasure, you're not engaging in aggressive, destructive behavior. "

Do these folks remind anyone else of the "love-ahs" from SNL?

See also: Masturbate for Peace, F*** for Forest

November 16, 2006

What the...?!

Hello, my name is Che, and I'll be your waiter: A leftist protester hefts a crate of Molotov cocktails near a university in conflict-ravaged Oaxaca, Mexico.

...who says that?! F'in copy writers at SFGate.

Why not take an alternate view:

Women march in Oaxaca

This just in: "invisible hand" swipes Friedman

Economist Milton Friedman dies at 94.

Too bad the Chicago school won't go with him.

Think CATO will demand a Reagan-esque mass for him at the Capitol? Maybe they'll just embalm him and put him under glass all Lenin-style.

In his defense, he did vehemently resist the draft along with the "war on drugs," insisting on decriminalization like a true libertarian. That's not to say he wasn't the epitome of right-wing though.

This conservative's comment on DKos sums up where Friedman and his fellow bootstrappers went so wrong:
...he wasn't a hero of mine because his calculus didn't include right and wrong, social justice or the general welfare of the people.
Friedman (surprisingly) sounding in favor of CSR in "The Corporation":
Can a building have moral opinions? Can a building have social responsibility? If a building can't have social responsibility, what does it mean to say that a corporation can? A corporation is simply an artificial legal structure. But the people who are engaged in it, whether the stockholders, whether the executives in it, whether the employees, they all have moral responsibilities.
RIP, though Chile's poor will be dancing on your grave.

The Shape of Water on DVD

Prof. Kum-Kum Bhavnani's powerful film follows women initiated peace and social justice movements in Brazil, Senegal, Jerusalem, and India.

Watch the trailer.

Listen to her talk about her first film.

She's an inspiration--without a doubt the professor that had the single greatest impact on me as a student at UCSB.

November 14, 2006

"We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves."

This from Carl Levin, newly anointed Senate Armed Services Committee Chair, the congressman in control of legislative oversight of the military. Levin, like other Dems, wants to demonstrate that conditions in Iraq are beyond the scope of an armed solution, and the sooner the military draws down, the better.

I agree. But he could've said it differently--maybe something along the lines of "we cannot mend the chaos caused by negligent Bush administration policy." But instead his statement comes off as patronizing, imperialist, and irresponsible. We are to believe that Iraqi civilians--a sovereign people stripped of their rights by dictators and democracies alike--are little more than petty children, the U.S. playing the "father knows best" figure, though he'd abandoned his own flesh and blood when he was needed most, and now he'd really do well to let his kids be.

Alright, that's a pretty bad extended metaphor.

The point is that I'm pretty fed-up with the bipartisan buck-passing on Iraq. So few in Congress can claim total innocence on Iraq that I guess it's understandable why it'd be a touchy subject.

Don't get me wrong, I trust we'll see a true foreign policy shift with the Dems' move towards a timetable for phased redeployment. The final nail's been driven into the coffin for "stay the course," which roughly translated to a pig-headed, faith-based refusal to admit they could've misjudged.

Unfortunately an inability to accept responsibility for failed policy seems to be more than just an isolated republican pathology, and leaves Dem leadership vulnerable to charges of "republican lite." Rather than placing blame where blame is due--squarely with a deceptive White House and PNACers--and owning up to wrongly backing their invasion, they externalize the problem. It's far more convenient for politicians to blame the victim, hanging their own puppets for failing to bring stability to a country hobbled by bloody occupation. Reminds me of the way Israel blames the Palestinian Authority for failing to truly represent the Palestinian people though it does everything in its power to deter sovereign governance.

The only way Democrats will prove they're different to a public hungry for new leadership (though skeptical of its competence) is if they disengage from the blame-game rhetoric. Even hawkish Republicans like White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten start to sound empathetic when even they suggest easing off Iraqi leadership by refusing timetables, pretending like it's always been a humanitarian mission. It's an ugly game of good-cop-bad-cop, and Dems scrambling to sound "tough on terrorism" stand to lose by sounding callous and delinquent.

Dems have some measure of moral high ground on this one, and it would do them well to talk about Iraq as our mess, not just Iraqis'. This would convince the international community that our new leadership is unlike the old--it's willing to seek diplomatic solutions, compromise, and will reassure apprehensive Iraqi civilians and government officials that the U.S. won't unilaterally disengage. A timetable will also bring regional players into the fold--it's in neighboring countries' best interests to secure a stabilized Iraq.

And all this talk of victory? Democrats need to bring that into question, too. If victory is not achievable (and it isn't) and foreign presence is only instigating more violence (after all, a fundamentalist's wet dream is extended occupation--a justification for battle), then swift redeployment is the optimal answer.

The pendulum's shifted. The dialogue and policy need to catch up to prove that we've truly witnessed what's been touted as a revolution channeled through the electoral process.

November 02, 2006

Associated Repress

An AP wire story on protests in Oaxaca marginalizes those calling for Gov. Ulises Ruiz' ouster. Shocking. They're "anarchists" (in the derrogatory sense) desecrating private property, while blameless law enforcement keep the peace:
"Thank you, sirs, and may God bless you," Maria Elena Zarate said to the officers. "We are going to support these people who risk their lives to protect us," she added, weeping as protesters threw rocks at officials.
But what of those officials responsible for the death of an American journalist, a local teacher, and three non-violent demonstrators? They're not even being held in custody on murder charges.

Here's what the AP story doesn't tell you:
Throughout the last five months [The Popular Assembly of the Pueblos of Oaxaca (Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca - APPO)] have maintained their demands in Oaxaca through a peaceful, popular, democratic uprising of the people, remaining firmly within the bounds of the law. In response they have been brutally attacked most recently by plain clothes police and city officials resulting in over twelve deaths, and hundreds injured, to date. The people of Oaxaca are unarmed and continue to respond to the situation with non-violentprotest, yet in response to attacks upon them, President Vicente Fox has responded by sending in nearly 10,000 federal police further aggravating the situation and resulting in more violence against the communities of Oaxaca.
(from a UCSB press release on the movement in Oaxaca)
Their demands are not radical--Mexico's Congress has joined the call for Ruiz' resignation.

U.S. media doing what it does best--ironing out dissent.

CA Prop Voting Recommendations

รก la CAP.

November 01, 2006

Like a caricature of himself.

This guy can't be for real, it's just too good:

Dear Editor:
The liberal threat to our children goes way beyond refusing to let kids be implanted with radio frequency identification devices. Consider these other liberal outrages that I've come across: Some school districts in the clutch of tree-hugging, godless liberals have refused to allow as much time to the teaching of intelligent design as they do to the "theory" of evolution. Children in these liberal backwaters are being denied access to the full range of intellectual thought on the important question of "Where do we come from?"
I've read that some parents of the pinko political persuasion refuse to take their kids to McDonald's restaurants, depriving said young Americans of the beefy goodness and wholesome entertainment value that only a mega-Mac with Cheese 'n' Fries Happy Meal can provide. Yet these same Green Party-supporting socialists think nothing of stopping off at Starbucks for a grande blended chai latte on the way to their kid's soccer practice, exposing the child to countless free-floating ADHD-inducing caffeine molecules. --Pete Cockerell, Palo Alto

If it is a fake (al beit pretty authentic, lacking only an Osama reference), the staff at the Daily Journal is either a.) pulling our leg or b.) so scared shitless of the liberal label that they'll print any cockamamie rant sure to earn them krazy konservative kred (wow, went too far there, didn't I).

He must realize no self-respecting pinko would be caught dead at a Starbucks.