June 29, 2005

Nobody Changes Anyone Else's Mind...

Today's public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can't read them either. ~ Gore Vidal

This is depressingly accurate.

Where's Jon Stewart when you need him?

Mirth | Poli-Sci by Doxy at 02:55 PM | permalink | talkback (0)

June 25, 2005

Free Speech Coalition's 2257 Compromise & You

Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself. ~ Salman Rushdie

If you are not a member of the Free Speech Coalition you might want to think about joining....umm...now. They're one of the few legal defense teams that adult webmasters/bloggers have right now. The membership fees go toward legal defenses. Depending on how deep you are in the industry, the membership fees vary, but an independent or blogger with a DBA should be able to get in at the $50 individual membership level. If you own your own company, etc, then it goes up. Although they do allow you to pay on monthly installments.

Currently, they've got an injunction that protects their members against DOJ 2257 investigation for at least the next month, until a judge holds a preliminary injunction hearing on August 8th. Plus they're not just handing over their member list:

A master list of members will be submitted to the Special Master on Wednesday June 29, 2005, and will include all FSC members as of 2:00 p.m. pacific standard time, Saturday June 25, 2005.

At no time will the DoJ have direct access to the FSC membership list, which will remain under seal.

Joining gives you the opportunity to take an extra month to get your ducks in a row and also lets you sit back and watch what happens from a relatively safe distance for the moment. Not to mention actually contributing to the cause.

In order to get on the membership list by June 29th, the following appears on their website:

In response to the flood of new members, Free Speech Coalition is pleased to announce that all membership and 2257 litigation contributions can be processed over the telephone as of 6:00 a.m. Pacific Time, Friday morning, June 24, 2005, through 2:00 p.m, Saturday, June 25, 2005. Call 800.681.0403. Credit cards will be processed over the telephone.

If you're only in it for the 30 days of protection then a) hopefully my blog post here wasn't what tipped you off about it because the deadline is in like...an hour; b) you might not want to shill out $50 or more for a mere 30 days.

But it's there if you're interested.


Phone Sex | Poli-Sci by Doxy at 02:17 PM | permalink | talkback (0)

June 17, 2005

Always a Mary Ann, Never A Ginger

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels. ~ Faith Whittlesey

Sometimes all it takes is a photo or ad to get me thinking. Recently I spotted this photo ad for the horrid reality show The Real Gilligan's Island:

Ginger or Mary Ann?

And, you know, it got me thinking.

I believe most little girls of my generation (and previous generations who knew what it meant) grew up wanting to be Ginger.

The sparkly dress – the Marilyn ‘tude, the fawning attention from the menfolk. These things made it more appealing to dress up and play “the movie star” instead of that other character who was referred to as “and the rest” in the original theme song.

Ginger was glamorous, slinky and pouty and treated like a prize. Mary Ann, on the other hand was pigtails and Pollyanna enthusiasm, and treated like just one of the guys. I don’t know what it was in my pre-pubescent mind that identified the advantages of being a Ginger and aspire during playtime to be her. What overpowering behavior signals, body language, or subtext could there possibly have been in a show that saccharine? Maybe it was enough that the producers obviously felt Ginger was the superior woman in a “what men want and women want to be” way. In fact, I can’t say that I remember a single plotline from a Gilligan’s Island episode except for the one where Mary Ann accidentally knocks herself on the head and wakes up thinking she’s Ginger so everyone puts on a sad charade of letting the poor little wanna-be parade about until it’s revealed she’s just plain old Mary Ann after all.

As I got older, it was clear I was more Mary Ann than Ginger. Sure I loved to play dress up in slinky dresses by myself, but I was mostly pigtails and Pollyanna enthusiasm. And, once I spent time with peers, I was far more tomboy and one of the guys than I was “don’t get my hair wet” prima donna. I retained my desire to dress up and wear frilly, pretty things in the right circumstance, but even in pretty dresses and stockings I wasn’t able to effectively masquerade as a bona-fide glamour girl. I was always just a Mary Ann in a pretty dress and I suppose I developed my personal balance with that.

I never made the connection regarding my comfortable (if gradual) acceptance of my inner Mary Ann until I was older and some beer commercial featured a group of guys around a pool table playing X or Y. The ad was likely part of the “tastes great / less filling” campaign, but I don’t remember. What I do recall is one of the guys tosses out “Ginger or Mary Ann” and after a pause they answer in unison “Mary Ann.”

And I thought: "Huh?"

A beer commercial, marketing to other guys was clearly inferring that a majority of men preferred Mary Ann. This bewildered me and I set about asking (okay, pestering) my male friends for explanations.

It turned out that their impression of Ginger was a high maintenance airhead who thought of herself as unattainable. Mary Ann was more girl next door cosy; the type my guy friends now refer to as “an MILF in training.”

Obviously, both Tina Louise and Dawn Wells were/are beautiful women. I don’t kid myself that even though Mary Ann was portrayed as “plain” that Dawn was anything but a plain young woman. Still, it’s fascinating to me that the transition took place socially as well as personally. Did I evolve as part of a personal journey or has American society evolved in general? It’s hard to tell sometimes. But I think it’s both.

Sure there are the Paris Hiltons who still get attention just because they’re "beautiful" (or, perceived as beautiful -- I don’t get people that think she’s attractive, but then I don't get the Brad Pitt thing, either). But there are women who can embrace inner sexuality and be revered for other traits as well. Let's face it, being the awkward geek girl is offically cooler than being the perfect doll. It all depends on the company you keep.

Yes, there is still overwhelming aesthetic prejudice in society and the arts, but we’re human animals and I don’t know that we’ll ever get over that. I also don’t know that we should. Maybe that’s part of the evolutionary recipe that produces an Elenore Roosevelt every now and then. Maybe it’s the social hindrances that come with not being traditionally attractive that allow for occasional sparks of extraordinary humanity to move to the forefront.

Some of us will never be pin-up girls no matter how many pairs of sexy panties and high heeled shoes we own. And if that is the greatest tragedy of our lives, then they are charmed lives, indeed.

There will always be Gingers and Mary Anns for as long as some girls feel pretty and others don’t. But for the first time in my life, when I think of which one I am and which one I want to be, I realize it doesn’t have to be a war or a choice or a disappointment. I want to be a little bit of both and mostly neither. My inner pie-fight between the island gals is all cleaned up and put to rest.

Which doesn’t mean I don’t want to watch THIS COMMERICAL as often as possible (warning, ads prelude video which starts instantly). Just because my inner catfight is over doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy watching other gals work out their issues.

*sigh* That’s another mark against my getting that sisterhood membership, isn’t it?

Phone Sex Slut Hugs and Kisses

Blather d'Art | Idle Prattle | Poli-Sci by Doxy at 04:50 AM | permalink | talkback (2)

June 12, 2005

Anti-Gay Phone Companies Caught On Tape

Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones. ~ Charlotte Brontë

Those of you who haven't encountered these Eugene Mirman "Show and Tell" recorded treasures yet are in for a hefty guffaw.

The recordings involve calls placed to Eugene by United American Technologies -- a phone company that claims ATT, MCI, etc are promoting the gay lifestyle, marketing child porn, and raping baby pandas. Okay, maybe not that last part. Their proposed solution is to sign up with their long distance plan where 10% of the revenue goes to ministries out to defeat the gay agenda (although there is some debate about where the money goes).

It would be interesting to get a copy of the actual script the salespeople are ad libbing from, because I'm confident the original script covered the company's ass regarding liable/slander. Their representatives, however are making some wildly inflammatory statements.

I'm torn. On the one side, I'm disgusted at a phone scheme out to bilk faithful Christians out of money and siphon it to whatever cause of the week feeds this company's goals.

On the other hand, if the people being targeted for solicitation weren't prejudiced fundies and thus easily swayed toward handing over their cash to sate their personal hatreds, they wouldn't be exploited in the first place.

I guess my bottom line is, I think it's a shame, but there are A LOT of other issues on my list that I'd like to see remedied before protecting fundamentalist hate mongers from being pick pocketed by a telemarketing scam.

Mirth | Poli-Sci by Doxy at 01:30 PM | permalink | talkback (1)

June 11, 2005

Vice Premiums

Everyone knows what a hypocrite is; that's the guy who gripes about the sex, violence and nudity on his VCR. ~ Zig Ziglar

Begin rant.

Umm. I'm warning you now. This is going to be one of those "get that girl a joint" entries.

Well, okay. But I put up signs and told you to run while you could. I blog, therefore I vent.

Operating in the sex industry (even phone sex, which I know is considered a twice-removed cousin by mainstream porn) and being an ethical, practical businessperson is often a very frustrating endeavor.

From the industry side, you watch as some people who cut corners, pander to the lowest common denominator, lie, cheat, steal and behave otherwise unethically appear to suffer little or no consequences for their actions while the good guys jump though arbitrary hoops just to keep their business afloat.

In phone sex, for example, I could name companies with dismal reputations for bouncing checks on their operators, scamming their clients, engaging in advertising tricks and scams and employing no end of other little sneak tactics.

I know -- I have this childish sense of fair play that just won't go away. I'd give anything to grow out of it.

To my credit, once I calm my temper down, I remember that will simply always be the way of business. For every legitimate company there is an Enron. For every person who dots the i's and crosses the t's there is a lazy slacker who leaves people in the lurch. At least in the sex industry, by and large, those who employ unethical practice don't lead to people dying, individuals losing their retirement next eggs, communities getting taxed into oblivion to make up for -- say, a power crisis, etc. An unethical judge, lawyer, doctor, CEO, is a far greater danger to society than a strip club owner gone mad with delusions of significance.

The truth is, in order to pose a danger to society, you have to have some kind of power. And the adult industry has no power. We get fucked from all sides in every way by as many parties as care to participate in the gangbang.

Now, you'll hear the argument that the sex industry attracts unsavory characters. So, let's address that concept. How can sex by itself attract anything more than another? Sex is inherent to us all and as such as varied and vast as the human race.

So, why does it seem that the sex industry has a disproportionate ratio of sleezebags to normies?

Simple. The government drives unsavory characters to sex.

Hang on. I'll show my work.

If you force an industry to operate on the fringes, it will attract fringe personalities. Prohibition funded organized crime. Does that mean that alcohol is intrinsically unethical? Are Coors, Budweiser, and all their brewery brethren tainted and evil? Or, was alcohol simply the gateway to organized crime in the 20s because fundies and government sheep gave the fringe element a chance to take over a socially embedded staple?

Sex, Inc. has this "riding the fence" position that really is enough to make a sane woman weep. The nutjob fundies can't ban sex (yet), but they seem to have no end of fun inspiring otherwise reasonable people to draw more lines about "right and wrong" than scar the plains of Nazca. Government organizations exploit and harass the sex industry because it distracts from the more serious problems they're not addressing. A nice round of vilifying sex shops and strip clubs is as good as tossing the fundies a teething ring to placate their self-righteous fangs. This is generally done in the name of "protecting" children, the elderly, the mentally/morally weak and/or kittens, puppies, and bunnies.

Government is sometimes called upon to make some hard calls. That's why we have a system. But policy to protect the public that strip one or many groups of their rights should actually 1) address a real problem and 2) stand a chance in hell of being effective.

And that's just the social harassment. I haven't even gotten into the monetary extortion.

Our country has an established history of taxing, or forcing a premium onto what they believe is "wrong" for us, so sex companies and individuals pay more for standard services under the guise of "what the market will bear."

You think it's ridiculous that you pay what you pay for a sex toy or service? Maybe so. But you should consider all the little ways a sex industry company gets fucked over and charged out the ears until the cost of producing said service or item requires hikes that would make gas station owners blush.

And king of this little fuck-over-the-adult-business-owner game is the advertising industry.

Thus, the catalyst for my little rant du jour.

If you want to advertise your adult business, you better have a nice bankroll, a lot of patience, a loose, accommodating sphincter, and a jar of Vaseline in tow.

There will be the standard garble about how/what/when/where you can and cannot advertise. These rules (dictated NOT by the market, but by greedy ad execs) range from common sense to out-of-their-fucking-minds.

Reasonable: An explicit ad might be appropriate for Hustler, whereas a less racy ad could find a home in Stuff.

Unreasonable: To place an ad in those more "mainstream" publications who lower themselves to graciously allow adult advertising in the "way back" sections of their venues, you can expect that your advertising will be tamed down until it pales in comparison to the liquor and Victoria's Secret glossy spreads.

Unreasonable Squared: While they're granting you permission to present your tawdry wares in their respectable publication, you'll tithe for the honor by paying anywhere from double to ten times what any other industry is asked to pay. Translation: you pay for worse placement with more severe content restrictions. And you better be happy they're so much as letting you sully their pristine little rag with your filthy presence.

Think I'm exaggerating?

Example 1: Washington City Paper

Paid Ads are for businesses, groups, or individuals that charge for their goods or services. The rate for paid ads is $18.50 for 25 words or less and 65¢ for each additional word.

The rate for Adult Services ads is $150 for 25 words or less and $3 for each additional word.

Example 2: Yahoo Directory Submit

For web sites that do not feature adult content or services, the Yahoo! Directory Submit service costs US$299 (nonrefundable) for each Directory listing that is submitted. Furthermore, for each listing accepted into the Directory, there is a recurring annual fee of US$299 to maintain the listing in the Directory for the subsequent year.

For sites that include adult content or services, the nonrefundable initial fee is US$600 and the recurring annual fee is US$600. The higher cost for sites with adult content reflects the fact that Yahoo! directory team uses a more complex and time-intensive review process for sites offering adult content and/or services.

More time-intensive review process my ass. That's Yahoo-speak for "we're going to charge you extra because we suspect our employees will be waking off while performing reviews."

I could go on and on with shit like this, but it just gets more and more depressing. But, you might want to keep this kind of thing in mind the next time you think that sex toy looks overpriced.

I don't mind so much defending myself to the mud slinging of fundamentalist hypocrites and sanctimonious windbags. I can take on a Bible thumper any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

I do mind legislation that serves no purpose other than to bar consenting adults from engaging in whatever fucking activity they opt to engage in in the privacy of their own bedrooms, or an establishment that provides substitute places of privacy, or services to aid in such private activities.

I do mind being charged EXTRA for the exact same services offered to any other business. I expecially mind when the services are not the same, but far inferior, and I'm treated like dirt in the process.

I do mind my billing options for my business dwindling because Mastercard and Visa are looking to drive out independent sex service providers by refusing services to third party processors if they accept adult industry clients. I pay my cable bill with my Visa card and Comcast has adult movies for sale at all hours. And I'll bet you my chargeback rate is a hell of a lot lower than Comcast's.

I love being a phone sex operator. I love the freedom and flexibility I gained by going independent. I worked hard to accomplish all I've accomplished, and I've helped others along the way when I can.

The idea that I may one day in the not-too-distant future have to surrender what I've built and go back to putting on suits and sitting in board rooms makes me physically ill.

It's this kind of mood that makes me think I need a submissive slave grunt to smack around for a few hours.

But I'm not bitter.


Naughty Bits | Phone Sex | Poli-Sci by Doxy at 09:30 AM | permalink | talkback (1)

May 17, 2005

Thou Shalt Be Ashamed

Of the delights of this world man cares most for sexual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven. ~ Mark Twain

I think I finally understand the anti-sex rabidity of the fundamentalist right. For years I've been bewildered by and afraid of them. For so long, I've considered them to be simply deranged, but they appear to have tapped into something in "the homeland" and that power has to be respected. It's easy to laugh them off, but then you think about things like Waco and Jonestown and you realize it's not funny, and either it's just my paranoia kicking in, or it seems to be getting worse day by day (save the "darkness before the dawn" speech, please). Now, with a self-declared evangelical president who may be getting rid of the filibuster to make way for evangelical judges that will hold lifetime seats and influence US law for generations...well, my sense of humor on the topic has dwindled.

And just when I thought I'd never "get it" the proverbial light went on.

Today, I read a post on Hullabaloo about "anti-abortion extremist" Neal Horsley. He's one of those nutbags that harasses doctors and clinics and thinks the "do not kill" part of his rhetoric applies only to a fetus and not the doctors who get killed by his "pro-life" buddies.

And I'd like to make something clear at this point. When I say "fundamentalist right" I'm talking about just that. Not the average Republican nor the average Christian. I'm using the word fundamentalists literally, not for sarcastic effect.

At any rate, the Hullabaloo article (which cross-refs NewsHounds)provides a semi-transcript where Horsley admits to fucking farm animals (seriously) during his "hedonistic" days of youth. I had a lot of trouble believing that a Jesus freak who considers Bush a radical liberal would admit to fucking a mule in a national radio interview. But, sure enough, an excerpt appears right on the Alan Colmes Show page.

My first knee-jerk reaction was the same thought that pinged me when it started being revealed that so many high-profile anti-gay figures were closet cases: they're a bunch of fucking hypocrites. But that isn't the important lesson to take from this.

By and large I feel there are two types of hypocrisy. The first is a liar saying one thing and doing another just because he wants to get away with it. Intentional falseness with an agenda; premeditated hypocrisy.

The other flavor is just incidental hypocrisy and it happens everyday to most of us over the course of simply being a human being. I'm viciously opposed to child labor, but I'm a choc-o-holic. I loathe Wal-Mart and everything they stand for, but they're close and sometimes I just don't have the time to drive across town to the mom and pop shop that has the same thing. You can only read so many labels and do so many good deeds. So you make little compromises of your ideals and, let's face it, it's simply one of the costs of living. If you try to live every moment of every day abiding by all your "line in the sand" views on morals and integrity, you're going to find it's a full time job and end up missing out on many of the joys the world has to offer.

And I think it is the second type of hypocrisy that most of the people who scare me suffer from. I think in their lives, during formative years, they were damaged and brainwashed into believing that sex is dirty and wrong. In some cases, apparently, missionary sex is okay when engaged in with a spouse. But missionary sex that can only be performed while married doesn't fulfill everyone's sexual needs -- I'd argue most people's sexual needs, but I don't have the science to back up that statement. Certainly, however, it does nothing to appease the sex drive of the average puberty-crazed teen.

So, when these people experiment to find pleasure they are self-tortured and filled with shame. It pushes them to desperate acts -- like sexually harassing the family pet. This is so hard for my mind to wrap around. I've been touching myself since before I could spell and I was never once made to think it was dirty or wrong. I never got that memo. The idea that someone could feel that way by acts I consider as necessary as breathing ... it must be a tremendous burden to bear.

Now, obviously, most people don't engage in sex acts with animals as a major outlet, no matter what Mr. Horsley has convinced himself of. But I'm sure there are those who feel that masturbation or premarital sex makes them just as filthy as fucking a mule. Their shame must be palpable and the pent frustration it produces must be funneled into other outlets. For some, obviously, it crystallizes into a cause.

Causes can be healthy (Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation), but they can also be a pulpit for tunnel-vision crazies (:::cough::: Fred Phelps :::cough:::). And the validity of rallying cries is tainted by the nature of the cause. For those who are sexually crippled by shame, it would appear that the rallying cry is to influence and limit/prohibit the potential actions of others.

In their minds, it must make sense. They have learned from their sins. The joy they experience now is a sense of social fulfillment that replaces sexual release. And I'm sure, in their minds, they must think they're trying to save the rest of us from the pain and self-torment they've experienced.

Obviously, enough Americans (I refuse to believe the majority) have sufficient levels of this shame hiding within them to feel beholden and afraid of sexual freedoms. And, like all fears, these spring from ignorance.

The mainstream sex industry isn't going to be what gets through to these people. Streaking pranks and topless car washes don't address the problem. It will not make these people any more comfortable with their bodies or their personal sexual inclinations. It won't make them feel any less dirty inside. It isn't going to be accomplished through bombardment. I think the healthy celebration of sexual freedom we've seen over the last 30 years has served as inspiration for the backlashes we're experiencing today.

We all celebrated OUR joys of sexuality and sensual expression, but we forgot about those who are more reserved, uncomfortable, or traumatized by sex. And the most horrific of all of this is the realization that we've allowed fundamentalists to continue their insurgency into our educational system. Basic sexual education has been under fire for centuries and organizations like Scarleteen can only reach so many.

It's probably too late to change the minds of those we're fighting against now. But we have to keep this lesson close and make sure we're getting through to kids -- even kids in "the heartland." Sex is not wrong. I'd almost like to get in a car and drive through Iowa spray-painting it on the sides of barns just to get the people talking about it who need it the most.

Without the guilt and stranglehold fundamentalists hold over their base, there wouldn't be a culture war. Because, let's face it, we can argue our political differences all day, but when the big guns want to distract from actual civic issues, they always play the sex card.

If people weren't terrified of becoming homosexuals (or being labeled as one) then there would be no reason in their minds to restrict gay rights. And that's the key. We've got to defuse the sex card so that there's no place to go with it; no fear to garner and no shame to exploit. We've got to liberate these people from their own shells. We've got to remove the stigma and the shame.

At least that's my theory.

How to accomplish it? Aye, there's the rub. But I have to admit, I feel somewhat more empowered understanding the problem for the first time.

Enlightenment achieved by listening to an anti-abortionist talk about getting it on in the barn. That's got to be a new one.


Poli-Sci by Doxy at 12:35 AM | permalink | talkback (1)

April 09, 2005

Brian Darling

Fortune makes him fool, whom she makes her darling. ~ Francis Bacon

A friend forwarded me a bio of Brian Darling from a couple years ago. For those of you not yet familiar with the name, this is the lawyer/staffer who is taking the fall over the Schiavo memo. The one that all the neo-con pundits claimed was another forged liberal document to make the right look opportunisitc. Which was fine until Mel Martinez had to cop to it and give Darling the heave-ho.

Darling has been a busy little bee it turns out, doing far more than memo writing. The idea the right is trying to spin that he is just some over-zealous intern is yet another in-your-face lie that politicians today don't seem to have any problem telling. Can we please go back to the days when the lies politicians told had to at least be plausable to anyone with the most minimal research capabilities?

Darling was a partner in the Alexander Strategy Group, according to stories which pre-date this the memo thing (do a Google). To make it even more fun, The Alexander Strategy Group was founded by -- wait for it -- Tom DeLay's former chief of staff and employs (or employeed) Christine DeLay, Tom's wife. Although it's not perfectly clear who she worked directly for, she was being *paid* by the ASG.

And while you're running a Google on these topics, throw in the word "Enron" and possibly the word "lobbying" as well. Enron was ASG's biggest client.

(I love the way neo-cons keep saying that Tom DeLay is being tried on nothing more than than guilt by association. Wasn't their basis for exploring the Clintons that too much shady association needs exploring? You don't hear a lot of that "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion" lip service so much from their camp these days.)

ASG's website doesn't list Darling as a current partner, but he was listed in February 2004. Kinda makes you wonder if he'll head back there now that he's written the memo of shame.

Props to Molehill

Poli-Sci by Doxy at 03:40 PM | permalink | talkback (0)

April 07, 2005

Pope on a Rope

Stupidity is also a gift of God... ~ Pope John Paul II

I have to admit that even though some of the people I love are Catholics, I have no respect for the institution. I, like Bill Maher, find the choice to adhere to an out-of-date and hypocritical religion to be a form of mild mental illness.

How you can read and study the Bible and come up with the doctrine of the Catholic church bewilders and stuns me. How you can be in a mindset that is hundreds of years behind the evolution of mankind and still have a large chunk of the world population by the seat of their collective guilt -- well, that's just emotional blackmail, not spiritualism.

So when all the blather began about the legacy of Pope John Paul II, I started to cringe. And I just kept on cringing. Then, today, I went to catch up on Andrew Sullivan and I remembered why I started reading him in the first place. Andrew may frustrate the hell out of me from time to time, but he says a lot of things that mainstream pundits are afraid to say. His critical analysis of the real legacy of this pope needs to be shouted among the wailing.

This will not stop him from being canonized and it certainly does not make him 100% a monster, but it may be that a little perspective could be one more step in realizing that just because we want someone to be a hero, that doesn't make them one.

Key facts Andrew reminds us of:

"Under John Paul II (and his predecessors), the Roman Catholic church presided over the rape and molestation of thousands of children and teenagers. Under John Paul II, the church at first did all it could to protect its own and to impugn and threaten the victims of this abuse. Rome never acknowledged, let alone take responsibility for, the scale of the moral betrayal...Here was a man who lectured American married couples that they could not take the pill, who told committed gay couples that they were part of an "ideology of evil," but acquiesced and covered up the rape of minors."
"Since 1975, the number of priestly ordinations in the U.S. declined from 771 a year to 533 last year. (In 2000, the number hit a low of 442.) When you adjust for population growth, in 1975, 771 newly ordained priests faced a Catholic population of 49 million; today, 533 emerge for a total of 64 million Catholics. Essentially, per Catholic, we saw a 50 percent drop in vocations under this Pope...The number of parishes without priests went from 23 percent of all parishes in 1975 to 25 percent in 2000. In the U.S., weekly church attendance has slowly but inexorably declined to well below 50 percent of all Catholics. The decline in religious orders has been particularly steep: down by over 30 percent. And all this understates the crisis facing the American church, because almost half the current priesthood is over 60 - and their replacements are in shorter and shorter supply."

Poli-Sci by Doxy at 04:54 PM | permalink | talkback (0)

The Worst TV The PTC Has Ever Seen

Censorship, like charity, should begin at home, but unlike charity, it should end there. ~ Clare Boothe Luce

The Parents' Television Council has strummed together a bunch of clips they deem as the worst television moments from 2001-2004. They've removed all context and included a long-winded "we're warning you, no, we're REALLY warning you, and just to be sure, we're warning you again," introduction. Maybe it's just me, but if these clips are the worst TV has to offer, I'm failing to see what all the fuss is about.

However, I do plan to play the clip ten or twenty times a day off the site to run up their bandwidth. Maybe it'll be one less dime they can spend on their other plans.

Most of this is off-color humor (South Park), pushing-the-envelope sex (Nip/Tuck) and violence (The Shield), or just bad reality TV and award show antics. Oddly, no news clips of subject matter concerning things like the torture scandal of Abu Ghraib were included. Apparently, sex and violence and off-color humor isn't offensive if it's real.

According to the PTC, children could watch this stuff and grow up to have sex, engage in violence, and/or develop a taste for bad reality TV. Their goal is that this must be stopped at all costs. And, while discouraging future bad reality TV junkies is admirable, think of what this kind of energy could accomplish if it invested itself in something like, say, education programs that teach kids conflict resolution, or alternative after-school children's physical activity programs so that kids aren't camped out in front of televisions for hours on end.

No. Because of course, that doesn't stop the adults that want to watch this stuff. And that's what really cheeses these people off. It's not that kids could see this stuff -- kids see this stuff and worse on network news. Kids squish insects to see what guts look like. Kids in inner-cities and places of crisis see visions on their own street corners that make this stuff look like a Disney movie. The PTC uses "we must protect the children" as their mantra, but what they really want to do is limit the freedom of other adults to engage in watching sex, violence, and bad reality TV.

When I was a kid the screams of woe (and, sadly, the insanity came equally from Democrats and Republicans alike, along with their annoying spouses) largely centered on Prince music or the concern that we were all going to grow up and kill people because Bugs and Daffy and Tom and Jerry made violence funny.

Inexplicably, the vast majority of us grew up without sporking the lunch lady or masturbating to magazines in hotel lobbies (Hilton children aside).

I don't think anyone believes that children should be watching most of these clips. But as any parent will tell you the age at which a child is a child varies with the individual. I was reading Stephen King at 9 and drinking in horror movies during the height of the hack and slash era long before any of my peers. As for sex? Well, yeah, I got a jump start on that, too. And while my current manner of employment might be controversial, I never plotted to blow up a state building, or have orgies with the high school football team. I did, however, grow up to have a very successful corporate consulting career before altering my lifestyle and settling into the only lucrative work-at-home industry that truly exists. I pay my taxes and vote in elections. And you know what? All my friends do, too.

And the only people in my life that I have lost to drugs, violence, and/or mental instability? They were all raised in religion-focused family units where shame was emphasized as a staple of daily life. So, you'll forgive me if TV profanity takes a backseat in my book to the dangers of irresponsible parenting or the social pressures of hardline religion.

Obviously most kids shouldn't come into contact with hardcore pornography or ultra-violence scenes. But some children will and when they do, the answer isn't banning it across the board, but being a rational adult putting the sex and/or violence into proper perspective and minimizing whatever small traumas might have taken root. That it may be difficult and/or slightly embarrassing comes with that whole parental gig. Where did these people start thinking it was all little league, spelling bees, and Disney trips? Apart from letting your kid be a kid, you're also preparing them to enter the real world where sex and violence happen every day and have since caveman Oog and cave woman Goo first realized it felt good to rub their naughty bits together.

All of this, of course, is in addition to the notion that it is the parents' actual responsibility to monitor what their child watches, regardless of whether or not they think the task is monumental. The television networks are not babysitters and if they are, there is a larger problem at work than what's on TV.

Oh -- and that argument about not knowing what your kids are watching at their friends' houses? That's another one of those things you're supposed to do as a parent -- check out the places where your kids spend time.

With all the childproofing tools available today from cable boxes and v-chips and other such nonsense, is there any doubt that fundamentalist Right organizations like this one are only sending millions of complaints to the FCC as a means to do nothing more than impose their morality on the rest of us regardless of whether or not the children are protected?

America needs to wake up and curb the FCC's power now while we still can and we need to send a message to organizations like the PTC that if they really want to protect children, then they need to go do that. There are a million different ways to improve the lives and minds of today's youth without infringing upon the rights of adults.

By giving a government agency the right to censor and impose morality via fines at the behest of organizations such as this, we're surrendering the right to our own judgment little by little.

Poli-Sci by Doxy at 09:47 AM | permalink | talkback (2)

March 24, 2005

Why Is It Always Florida?

Religion the opium of the masses. ~ Karl Marx

From the LA Times:
"While the senators were debating, Gov. Bush announced that the state was attempting to gain custody of Schiavo in order to investigate allegations that she had been neglected and exploited. He said that Dr. William P. Cheshire, a Florida neurologist, had filed a supporting affidavit arguing that Schiavo might be more correctly diagnosed as "minimally conscious" and thereby legally entitled to life support."

And just in case you had any doubts about the personal views held by Dr. Cheshire, may I present a poem from Dr. William P. Cheshire entitled Exit Ramp.

This is not for the weak
or the politically correct, but sometimes you have to be able to laugh at the freakshow that is life.

Can anyone tell me if a single reporter has asked what possible motivation the doctors who are actually accountable for their diagnoses might have for trying to kill this woman? These people are basically being accused of gross negligence and/or murder. Has any person with a press badge considered asking what their motivation for such behavior could be?


Poli-Sci by Doxy at 02:59 AM | permalink | talkback (0)

March 22, 2005

Cat On A Hot Tin Feeding Tube

A man's dying is more the survivors affair than his own. ~ Thomas Mann

Well, thank goodness Bush’s medical malpractice tort reform agenda hadn’t passed back in 1993 when Michael Schaivo won his malpractice lawsuit (later settled, on appeal) against Terri’s doctors. And thank God she wasn’t ever moved to a Texas facility.

Otherwise the money to keep Terri “alive” would have run out years ago and under chapter 166 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, that means the hospital would have had the right to end life support the moment she ran out of money even over the objections of her family members or legal guardian.

I wonder if Florida being a political "battleground" state makes it more important to placate Neo-Con fundamentalist Christians in this state more than in, say, Texas.

The stench of this week’s bout of Congressional mendacity would have driven Big Daddy off his nut.

A Terri Schaivo Timeline -- Follow the Madness


From a certain standpoint, you have to admire the Neo-Con operation here. This is a victory for them no matter how it turns out. If Terri lives they can rejoice in their triumph over whatever it is they claim to triumph over. If she dies then it's just one more horrible way to prove logic-obsessed heathens have taken over our court systems.

And the other side has no victory. There is no way to rejoice because a woman has been allowed to die after existing 15 years as a breathing corpse.

What is the victory of a woman on a hot tin feeding tube? There isn't one. I know -- I shouldn't employ Tennessee in this when we all know it's Clint Eastwood that will eventually take the fall for Terri Schaivo. Radical Hollywood liberal that he is.

I don't advise reading on below unless you want to hear a very un-sexy true story regarding why this case annoys the living fuck out of me.

When I was a teenager my uncle was hit by a drunk driver. He was an on-duty cop and that meant the city was obligated to foot the hospital bill.

When we first arrived at the emergency room, he was unrecognizable and broken into so many pieces it took his doctor a good long spell to detail all the things that were perforated, smashed, and traumatized. His body looked like meat held together with chicken wire and duct tape. He was conscious for the first day and even made a brief joke about the loss of his hair (which had been ripped from his scalp after he'd lost his helmet and skidded head-first down the street for who knows how many feet -- his scalp had actually peeled itself away in places so think about that the next time you ride without a helmet YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE). That night, tho he suffered a stroke and passed into a coma. They had to cut out part of his skull because his brain was swelling. After a few days the doctors feared he was lasping into a persistent vegetative state, and a couple weeks later tests proved that was exactly the case. His body healed to a point. His brain never did.

His wife was unprepared and unwilling to accept the words "unable to recover." And even though my parents made it expressly clear to me that this was hopeless, they never once let on to his wife that they felt this way. It was left to the doctors to try their best to convince her that he was never going to improve or have any quality of life.

And let's make one thing perfectly clear.

We are not talking about a handicapped or disabled life; his was a life that had passed on in every way other than a few cogs that continued to tick in place. Trying to morph individuals in this state into a debate on disabled rights is a sick exercise in misdirection.

But in my uncle's case, as I said, the city was footing the bill, so his wife ignored the doctors for a few months. Meanwhile, my uncle melted -- that is the only way to explain what happened to his body. His muscles atrophied despite attempts to keep them limber. He became sallow. There was nothing in this breathing ghost that reminded me of my uncle. But still no one in my family would confront what needed to be done. Because like so many parents who can't talk to their kids truthfully about sex, sometimes people hide best when life faces them most square.

Amid this atmosphere of confusing denial very odd things happened with my uncle's body (including a funny-later-but-not-at-the-time incident where I accidentally knocked the switch to deflate the air bed he was kept on -- slapstick and anything but hilarity ensued). But the kicker for me happened one night when I was on watch duty alone (it fell to habit that the members of my family and fellow police officers took turns "sitting" with my uncle on a strange vigil rotation). I will never forget it as long as I live. My uncle's eyes opened and he appeared to look straight at me.

Now I have never been a religious person, but I have to tell you that the word "miracle" was the first thing to enter my mind at that minute. I screamed for nurses -- I began talking at him a million miles a minute and I was in the truest sense of any teenage girl that ever lived having a full-on tizzy.

The nurse tried to explain to me that it wasn't a sign of consciousness, but I was hysterical and so much hope had run in at once that I didn't hear her -- I couldn't hear her. He had LOOKED me me, you see. He hadn't just opened his eyes, but he had opened his eyes and they had fixed on me. I can still remember everything from those few moments as clear as anything I've ever experienced.

So when some poor doctor got rousted from his shift to come and calm me down and bring me back to Earth, I had no intention of trying to understand or accept any word that came out of his mouth. Bless his heart, he tried anyway. He brought me coffee and gave me a very gentle lecture about things like reactivity and perceptivity. But it just wouldn't digest in my mind. So, I did what any know-it-all geek girl might have done. I studied on my own. I called other doctors. And if anyone -- ANYONE had given me so much as an inkling of false hope to hold onto over those next few days I might have never surrendered to the reality of the situation.

I don't think my bout of hope caused anyone to keep him on life support longer, but it certainly didn't help resolve anything sooner. There was too much grief to get your head around and it's such a dismal thing to cope with. It took time. Sometimes his eyes would open. It was never a response to a stimuli. It was never a sign of life. Had it been anything remotely resembling a sign, my family would have latched onto it like their own lifeline and kept his body going forever. He wasn't the kind of uncle you hope drowns in the tub so you never have to see him again. He was the beloved one that made everyone laugh. He was a joyful being. But he was over and the thing that replaced him wasn't living in any sense of the way he did.

It took three more months for the family to agree to end life support; I cannot imagine what the final hospital bill was to the city, but it had to be a mint. Surprisingly when the machines were turned off, his body continued to breathe; if you had looked at what was left of him, you wouldn't have believed the lumps of flesh and bone that were left were capable of sustaining a single breath. It took eight days for him to completely expire and after months of denial those eight days were a god-awful long time to wait for the first step toward closure. And for those of you who have never attended a policeman's funeral, I'm here to tell you, it's an emotional roller coaster unto itself.

Because of this experience, at some point months and months ago, the Schaivo case became bitterly painful for me (my friends have had to listen to far too many ongoing rants on how much this case upsets me) -- the meddling and the false information being circulated about the type of condition she is in -- and propping up a human being in this state as an icon of pro-life or disabled rights has made me pysically ill. But, like all cases of outrage, there is a point where you reach the height of your capacity and since then I've been able to disengage emotionally as the news cycle intensifies. It's hard to be that outraged about the same thing over and over and over again. At some point you just get numb so that you can cope.

Unfortunately, I don't believe in hell, but if there is anything akin to one, I hope there is a special room set aside within it for every person attempting to gain political points off this situation. And, of course, as with any speical room in hell, may Bill Frist, MD be forced to lick the sweat off the brow of HIV+ beings for all eternity within it.

Poli-Sci by Doxy at 08:49 AM | permalink | talkback (0)

March 14, 2005

A Good Day

"It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners..."
"The state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional..."
~ San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer


One small step for the Constitution in Bushworld.

Poli-Sci by Doxy at 07:55 PM | permalink | talkback (1)

March 06, 2005

It's Not TV...It's HBO (For Now)

Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. ~ Potter Stewart

Full Article Here

Money shot:

"Exactly: Freedom is fluid. It's a bone-chillingly cold new morning in red- state dominated America. Indecency crackdowns are big-play politics. The FCC is raising fines. The Parents Television Council -- among others -- has proven influence. And now Stevens has -- in public, without smirking -- declared that he believes Congress has the power to control more than just the over-the-air broadcasters it currently has jurisdiction over. He wants to control content on pay cable and satellite. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Stevens said, "The problem is most viewers don't differentiate between over-the-air and cable.

Clearly, this is a man who doesn't pay for HBO."

I'm not going to get into a rant on how hideously corrupt the FCC is. What I will say is that Congress, even this one, has GOT to fix the unconstitutional powers the FCC now holds. Either go back and amend the document via proper channels, or stop with this skirt-the-rules bullshit.

Granted, I come from a long line of Southern Democrats, but I don't call myself one. I accept that I am considered a "liberal" but, in truth, I feel I am a moderate. The things I believe in are not off the wall and I think they are more "in touch" with the mainstream than some would have us believe. I hold that once this tide of Christian Right has ebbed back from its current place of power, some sense will be re-instituted.

Hey, I'm an optimist.

But the mistake of letting the FCC dictate morality has got to be fixed. It's even worse for free speech than 1973's dismal Miller v. California Supreme Court fiasco. It's been 80 fucking years since this FCC morality blank check was issued. SOMEONE needs to try and take FCC v. Pacifica back to the big room. Especially since they're following this current trend of letting political carpet bombing tactics by organizations like the Parents Television Council define their rule of thumb. Just because you've got 100 members that have nothing better to do than send 40 emails a day shouldn't give you a bigger voice than the MILLIONS of Americans who demonstrate their voice by PAYING ACTUAL MONEY FOR THE SERVICE THEY WANT.

We are facing a government that doesn't want to abide by what the people demonstrate they want, but what a vocal minority THINKS the country should want.

Does the Republican Party even vaguely remember what it is supposed to stand for?

Poli-Sci by Doxy at 02:04 PM | permalink | talkback (0)

Lloyd Axworthy vs Condi

There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth, the persistent refusal to analyze the causes of happenings. ~ Dorothy Thompson

Read The Full Letter Here

Money shot:

"I invite you to expand the narrow perspective that seems to inform your opinions of Canada by ranging far wider in your reach of contacts and discussions. You would find that what is rising in Canada is not so much anti-Americanism, as claimed by your and our right-wing commentators, but fundamental disagreements with certain policies of your government. You would see that rather than just reacting to events by drawing on old conventional wisdoms, many Canadians are trying to think our way through to some ideas that can be helpful in building a more secure world."

Dr. Lloyd Axworthy:
* Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
* Past-Director of the Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues
* Appointed President of the University of Winnipeg
* First elected to Parliament in 1979
* Served as Minister of Employment and Immigration, Minster of Transport, Minister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification.
* Instrumental in Canada's successful candidacy for membership on the United Nations Security Council
* Appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada (2003)
* Author

Poli-Sci by Doxy at 01:50 PM | permalink | talkback (0)