Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Afternoon Delight? Only If You're Wealthy

As a member of the "Make Love, Not War" and "Better Living Through Chemistry" generation, this article, Companies Fight to Ensure Coverage for Erectile Drugs, in today's NYTimes caught my eye. The issue centers on whether or not Medicare's drug program should pay for what some lawmaker's refer to as "lifestyle drugs" for our nation's seniors. Well, now. I don't normally come down on the side of the pharmaceutical companies, but this time I find myself (rather uncomfortably) in their camp. Why is that? Frankly, when it comes to sex, I just have to say I'm in favor of it. And if certain people think a healthy sex life is a "lifestyle" rather than a function of a healthy "life," I believe they are dysfunctional in more ways than a drug like Viagra is capable of overcoming. But what truly offends me about the Medicare debate is the unspoken, unacknowledged class element to whatever decision lawmakers arrive at. Wealthier seniors will be able to afford drugs like Viagra and Cialis whether or not coverage is afforded by Medicare. Poor seniors will not be invited to the party. A healthy and vigorous sex life should not be viewed as a lifestyle choice for those who can afford it. Instead, the benefit of these new drugs - for men and women - should be extended to everyone. After all, our world might be a better, kinder place if our current leaders didn't have to expend quite so much effort compensating for their shortcomings with military chest thumping. An afternoon "nap" might advance the cause of peace and harmony more effectively.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Friday Funnies

Smile. It's Friday. Even here at blog de la resistance, a gal's got to keep her spirits up. So today I bow to the High Priestess of Sass and direct you here. Who's the ill-tempered bow-wow chasing our poor kitty? Click on the picture.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

True Love May Be a Pill

In the NYTimes article referenced here yesterday, it was noted (rather off-handedly) that the National Right to Life Foundation does NOT take a position on contraception. Quite frankly, I found this so inconceivable that I went to their website to look for myself. Sure enough. There are positions on abortion, human cloning, euthanasia, even Medicare. There was nothing on contraception. How can it be that an organization so obsessed with dictating what a woman can and cannot do when she becomes pregnant, not take a position on contraception? Duh, hit me on the head with a crate of abstinence purity rings. It's the sex, stupid. Just paste a stop sign on your panties and chant, "True love waits" five hundred times or until - guess what - it doesn't. Maybe it wasn't true enough, or maybe he weighed fifty pounds more than you, or maybe you lacked an adult sense of judgement because, heck, you're still a kid. Just maybe the cute stop sign and the darling ring and all the good intentions weren't sufficient totems to override nature's hormones. Then what? Tough love, baby. Not sufficiently sassed yet? Read Bush's Sex Scandal, by Nicholas D. Kristof.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Send Harry a Message

An article in today's NYTimes about a movement in the Democratic Party to soften their oppostion and rhetoric on abortion, included these comments from Senate minority leader Harry Reid: Senator Reid said that he welcomed the new "emphasis on recognizing the diversity of the party." He added, "We have had a lot of pro-life Democrats, but the pro-choice folk haven't reached out to them and haven't protected them." He acknowledged some complaints from abortion rights groups about the party's shifting rhetoric. "They have to keep their folks geared up, just like people who work for more highways," Mr. Reid said. "That is what they do, just like the pro-life groups." Yeah, you read it right. Proponents of women's reproductive rights just haven't done enough to reach out to our brothers and sisters with opposing views and, hell, it's just another marginalized issue like working for more highways. Let's see . . . roads - no roads/pregnancy - no pregnancy Sure, that equates TO SOMEONE INCAPABLE OF BECOMING PREGNANT. Is there any better illustration of why the Dems are floundering than the election of someone like Senator Reid as minority leader? Please, groups like Emily's List, NARAL and Planned Parenthood need your support in fighting the battle to preserve reproductive rights for women. Give generously and help these groups show Senator Reid and others like him, the best possible highway. The one that leads out of office.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I Feel A Draft

Yesterday's entry was all loopy Lupercalia and the lottery of love. Today, I am reminded of a different kind of lottery; the birthday lottery of the military draft that took place during my '60's and '70's youth. I was fortunate. I was a girl and not subject to the draft. The draft lottery gods passed over my small world of boyfriends, brothers and classmates with barely a glance in our direction. The war in Vietnam ended. We married, had children, grew into middle age, and the memory of living under that particular Sword of Damocles faded. Until now. A reader from central Wisconsin sends this article for consideration: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/_/id/6862691?pageid=rs.Home&pageregion=single7&rnd=1106949643712&has-player=true&version= It's chilling to think that it will take a military draft to fan the flames of an effective anti-war movement in this country. Faced with the recent Bush reelection and a lazy, complacent press, it hurts to admit that it might be the only wake-up call American's will heed. I have a son and a stepson, both in occupations that the US military would find quite useful. I'd like to joke that it's not too late for them to switch careers, hair styling maybe, but it doesn't seem funny. I worry that my good karma with the draft lottery gods will run out. Then it occurs to me, I already believe deep down that every one of us will pay the price for our collective depravity in having lost our moral center as a nation under this administration. That's what fuels my anger. Every damn day.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Lupercalia, lotteries and love

For all you curmudgeons who think Valentine's Day is nothing more than a retailer's dream for boosting sales revenue during the middle of winter - listen up. You're mostly correct. There was, however, an ancient pagan festival called Lupercalia that was celebrated in mid-February by the Romans. In the usual pagan fashion, the celebrations and rituals were a hodge-podge of dissonant symbols, in this case wolves, Romulus & Remus, sacrificial dogs and goats, and naked young men running around slapping fair maidens with bloody strips of goatskin. Hmmm . . . I suppose that last part could be fun. Anyway, it seems the Lupercalian festival changed as the Romans moved north into France and Britain. My own guess is that running around naked in the middle of winter wouldn't hold the same appeal to the conquered northerners, and the ritual changed to one in which young men drew the names of available maids from a box. For the next year, the men were obligated to protect and accompany the young women whose names they had drawn. Ah, romance at last. But wait. Enter, the Catholic Church. Flush with success over their appropriation of the Druid festival associated with the winter solstice, the Church set its sights on Lupercalia. No longer would men draw the names of young women from a box. Instead, they drew the names of Christian saints whose lives they were then required to study for the next year. (Oh, c'mon . . . you can see the appeal, can't you?) Alright. It was a spectacular marketing and public relations failure and the Church eventually abandoned all hope of gaining ground with Lupercalia. The only reminder of the Church's interference was success in changing the name of the festival to Valentine, as in St. Valentine. However you choose to celebrate the day with your lover, I wish you a rollicking good time, (if there's a bloody goatskin involved, I don't want to hear about it.) Since every day with GHIW is a celebration of Lupercalia, there won't be anything out of the ordinary at our house today - just me imagining the old days of drawing names from a box. Say, Dick Cheney drawing Maureen Dowd's name, or Jon Stewart with Ann Coulter . . . XXOXXOO

Friday, February 11, 2005

Blastocyst Blues

Thank you to Guila Parker for the following item -A judge in Cook County, Illinois, has ruled that a mistakenly discarded embryo at a fertility clinic is legally human, allowing a Chicago couple's wrongful death claim to go forward. Imagine for a moment how preoccupied our courts are going to be enforcing the rights of fertilized eggs should this ruling be allowed to stand. I mean, really, all those frozen blastocysts demanding to be born! Perhaps the good judge might also rule that parents who wantonly fertilize and freeze mulitple offspring be forced to bring each and every little egg to term. That might put a damper on the fertility business. Heck, it might even encourage infertile couples to adopt. How's that for a concept? Or, perhaps the government, in a form of conscription, will enlist young women with empty and available wombs to carry the fertilized eggs of those wealthy enough to afford fertility treatments. Anything less would be child abuse, wouldn't it?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Thursday Sass

Three things that made me smile this morning:
  • The nutball right wing criticism of Clint Eastwood's film, "Million Dollar Baby" Surely, their movement is imploding when they stoop to snapping at their own former poster boy's exploration of - get this - ideas in a fictional movie that might result in viewers thinking instead of being hit over the head with ideology.
  • The state of Virginia's ordinance against low-riders Here in Wisconsin, where 58% of the population is overweight or obese, the low-rider phenom is a source of boundless mirth. No legislator would dare venture into the realm of fashion-ista lawmaking in a state that worships Holstein cows and recognizes Packer green and gold as the height of couture for the masses.
  • Prince Charles to marry Camilla Parker Bowles You mean there are still people who care about that rotter's sordid private life? (apologies to David Glass, the only person with proper credentials for using the term "rotter," but I couldn't help my sassy self)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Snow + Fab5 = Perfect Evening

First, the Fab5: GHIW (of course) Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Joe Ely and Guy Clark. What do these five men have in common? Answer: I got to spend last night with all of them! That's right. Row three, center seats with GHIW at my side and the other four nearly touchably close. Umm, did I mention Lyle? I am so in love . . . Then, to make the evening absolutely perfect, it snowed.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

No-Nudette: Naked Accounting in the White House

"Transition financing does not represent new debt." - Joshua Bolten, White House budget director, when asked to explain why the costs for the President's plan to reform Social Security were not included in the President's budget. Cool! "Hey, GHIW - I'm finally going to replace the living room couch, reupholster that old chair of your mother's and get us a new TV, and it won't cost a thing. I'll just be transitioning from an old living room to a new one." "Baby, listen to me. I love this no-nudette concept. It applies to our kitchen, too. We can do this new-fangled 'transition financing.' First, we take a bunch of money, turn the old kitchen into a new kitchen. Then, we get another bunch of money when we sell the place and MOVE THE HELL AWAY FROM HERE. So really, I ask you, where's the expense?" Thanks for the magic accounting concept, Mr. Bolten.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Irony My Shirt

The Bush administration is trying hard not to wring its hands over the possibility that Iraq's newly elected assembly will draft a constitution based on Islamic principles, and end up looking a lot like its neighbor, Iran. Both Cheney and Rumsfeld were on the defensive this weekend as election results from Iraq showed overwhelming support for the religious Shiite Muslim parties. According to the New York Times, Rumsfeld "warned that it would be 'a terrible mistake' if the new assembly adopted a constitution that denied 'half of their population, women, the opportunity to participate fully.' " Huh? Would that look anything like - just for instance - a country where women earn less money for the same work? Where more women and children live in poverty than their male counterparts? A country where pharmacists can choose, because of their own religious views, not to dispense legal contraceptives to women? A country where women's reproductive rights are sharply restricted because of the ruling party's religious beliefs? I'm reminded of the old "plane about to crash" joke where a woman runs into the aisle, rips off her clothes and screams, "I need a man to make me feel like a natural woman!" At which point an obliging male rips off his shirt and yells, "Here! Iron this!" Funny.

Friday, February 04, 2005

No Regrets

Following the elections in Iraq last weekend, I received emails from some of my Republican acquaintances suggesting that perhaps President Bush and his administration had been right all along. Hadn't we liberated the Iraqi people from a brutal dictatorship and brought democracy to their doorstep? Couldn't I admit to being wrong in my opposition to such a noble goal, especially now, with proof that the people of Iraq would risk their lives to cast a vote? Like everyone else, I couldn't help but be impressed and inspired by the courage of the Iraqi voters last weekend. Indeed, the elections were a clear indication that the majority of Iraqis want control of their government. Saddam Hussein is gone and the Iraqi people have an opportunity to establish a future for themselves rooted in democratic principles. I, along with everyone I know, very much want them to succeed. The situation in Iraq, however, is a classic "ends-justify-the-means" moral dilemma. Our country invaded Iraq in a preemptive move, without support from most of our former allies, under the guise of finding and dismantling weapons of mass destruction that were said to be a direct threat to us. That the American people were misled and deceived about the reasons for initiating war with Iraq has since been proven to be true. No matter. The Bush administration got what it wanted and now is busily rewriting history to coincide with recent events. We are liberators, not invaders. We want liberty and democracy for the Iraqi people, not access to badly needed oil reserves for petroleum conglomerates in Texas. We never really expected to find weapons of mass destruction. And on, and on, and on . . . The Iraqi people have tough work ahead of them. Their ethnic population is deeply divided. For the most part, Sunni Arabs did not participate in the election and will most likely view the results as illegitimate. The Kurds, in their own unsanctioned referendum, voted overwhelmingly to establish recognition of a separate Kurdistan. The success of the fledgling Iraqi democracy will depend on how they manage challenges like these and it will be no easy task. But if they succeed, who knows what a free and democratic Iraq might accomplish? Perhaps they, too, could begin to spread liberty and freedom beyond their borders. Perhaps they, too, might choose to preemptively invade a country whose leadership is corrupt and deceitful. A country somewhere where the leaders wantonly ignore the economic needs of ethnic minorities. A country where a wealthy ruling class thumbs its nose at economic policies designed to provide a safety net for the poor. A country that threatens and bullies other countries. A country that tortures prisoners of war. A country whose leadership bribes the "free" press. A country where a religious sect imposes its beliefs on the general populace. A successful democracy requires its citizenry to stay informed and educated and engaged in meaningful debate. It depends, also, on holding a strong moral center. My most fervent desire for the people of Iraq is that they will find their way along a course of true democracy, with liberty and justice and tolerance for all.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Brainiac Birds and the Bush

"My name is Anne, and I am a birder." There. I've said it. Go ahead and conjure up all those images of middle-aged, thick-around-the-middle swamp trompers with binoculars, birding field guides and funny hats. I dare you. (Well, OK. I DO have one of those ridiculous looking bug net hats, but the rest of my birding couture is strictly high-class REI caliber.) So, imagine my excitement when I spotted an article in the New York Times this week reporting that neuroscience experts from six countries have reached the conclusion that birds do not have the simple brain structure they were once believed to possess. Instead, scientists are reporting that their brains are "as complex, flexible and inventive as any mammalian brain." Crows make complex tools, African gray parrots make up new words and have a sense of humor, and Magpies understand that "when an object disappears behind a curtain, it has not vanished." Tell me, do you think "W" understands that because Osama bin Laden has disappeared, he has not vanished? Or, that because elections took place in Iraq, the US is safer from terrorist attacks? Who would have thought that calling Bush a birdbrain would be paying him a compliment?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

House of Flying Daggers

"I can play hardball as well as anybody. That's what I did, cut people's hearts out. On the other hand, I do it to cure them, to heal them, to make them better." Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader and a transplant surgeon. Umm . . . let's see. The Republicans already control the House, the Senate and the White House, and the Senate's leader is prepared to "cut people's hearts out" if he has to to advance his party's conservative agenda? What would he do if he were actually presented with an obstacle?