Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sanford story, fallout sorely lack logic

The governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, recently admitted to having an affair with a woman in Argentina. (Read all about it here.) *UPDATE: Today he admitted to "crossing the line" with other women as well, that there was "physical contact" but not sex. Read the AP story here.

There's a couple facets to the story:

  • 1. He's a Republican, who in the past called on President Clinton to resign after the Monica Lewinsky scandal
  • 1a. He's a Republican, the party of "family values," who cheated on his wife.
  • 2. He lied about his whereabouts on his most recent trip to Argentina, telling staffers he was hiking on the Appalachian trail
  • 2a. He didn't transfer his powers of governor to the lieutenant governor before he left
  • 3. He used taxpayer dollars to make trips to Argentina
  • 4. Even in his absence, he's still on the taxpayers' payroll
  • 5. He has said he is not going to resign from his governorship
Setting aside the actual affair, you have a governor who lied to his staff, S.C. legislators, S.C. residents and even Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer about his whereabouts. For five days. You also have a governor who used taxpayer dollars to take personal trips. A resignation is in order here, affair or not. If this were my governor, I'd be furious. You don't get to steal from and lie to an entire state and remain governor. Unless you're Sanford, apparently.

But this story gets even crazier when you look at the fallout from it, and who is saying what. Logic must have taken a trip to Argentina too, because it certainly isn't present in much of this story.

First of all, let's look at what Sanford himself has said about not resigning:
"I would ultimately be a better person and of more service in whatever doors God opened next in life if I stuck around to learn lessons rather than running and hiding down at the farm."
Um, wouldn't the lesson be that after lying and stealing, you have to resign? By not resigning, you're actually getting away with doing all this. What's the lesson in that? Do first, apologize second. Not a lesson we need to be learning.

Second, here's what one Sanford supporter says as to why he should stay in office:
State Rep. Nikki Haley, another Sanford ally running for governor next year, said last week that the governor should stay in office because otherwise, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer would assume the top office. Haley said that would be a step backward for the conservative reform movement in the state.
But having a governor in office that lied and cheated is not a step backward for the conservative reform movement? The longer he's in office, the longer people talk about this story and all the hypocrisy therein. And it is just me, or does this imply that Nikki Haley is putting the conservative reform movement above the constituents of South Carolina? Note that Haley is running for governor next year, because ...

Two major South Carolina newspapers -- The State, which broke the news of Sanford's Argentina trip, and The Charleston Post and Courier -- on Tuesday called for Sanford to stay in office.

"Reasonable people can disagree over whether it would be better to have Mr. Sanford or Mr. Bauer in the governor's office for the next 18 months. And if Mr. Bauer were not running for governor, this might be a more difficult call. But Mr. Bauer is running for governor, and it simply is not responsible to overlook the tremendous advantage he would have if he were able to use the bully pulpit of that office for the next year," said an op-ed in The State.

Oh, so Bauer is running for governor next year, and having him become governor after Sanford resigns would give him an unfair advantage in the election. What the hell kind of reason is that to defend why Sanford should not resign? Bauer IS the lieutenant governor, and he's next in line should Sanford resign. Those are the facts. Sucks if you don't like Bauer, but that has nothing to do with whether Sanford should resign. This isn't about the next election. This is about Sanford and his actions. (And this doesn't even bring up the fact that trial run as governor could hurt Bauer in the election, if he doesn't do the job well.)

Some even go so far as to say Bauer doesn't have enough experience to run the state. What are the odds that people claiming this thought Sarah Palin was ready to run the country if necessary? I'll go with "high."

Then you have reasons like this one:

Sanford asked for forgiveness after admitting his mistakes. Unlike Bill Clinton who looked into the camera and lied to the American people, Sanford was man enough to own up to his failures. He is far and away a better man than the likes of Barney Frank, Bill Clinton, Rod Blagojevich, Eliot Spitzer, and others who were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. As a Christian, I am constrained to forgive Mark Sanford.

What?! Hello sir, Sanford DID lie. About the affair (to his family) and about the trip (to everyone). Sure he "owned up" to it. So did Clinton and Spitzer, after first lying. And just what makes Sanford a better man than all these mentioned? Yes, how very Christian of you.

And there's even thoughts like this going around:

Democrats think they can use Sanford as an albatross if he remains in office.

Nice. Again with the misguided logic and priorities. The people of South Carolina deserve better than having Sanford remain as governor. He shouldn't remain in office just so Democrats can kick this story around during the next election. (Like it wouldn't come up anyway.)

To be sure, there are a number of people calling for Sanford's resignation. But those saying he shouldn't really need to come up with better reasons for why he gets to remain in office. *In light of the new news coming out, I wonder how long people will keep defending him.

UPDATE 2: I like this article's idea of "resignation by media."

UPDATE 3: The chairwoman of the South Carolina GOP, Karen Floyd, issued a statement: "For the past two days, I have been speaking with Republican leaders across South Carolina. There is clearly a growing view that the time may have come for Gov. Sanford to remove himself and his family from the limelight, so that he can devote his efforts full-time to repairing the damage in his personal life," she said.

UPDATE 4: I feel I could spend hours a day updating this (I won't), but these stories shouldn't be ignored:

  • Jenny Sanford, the governor's wife, says she can forgive him for the affair. She's far and away a better person than I.
  • Mark Sanford has already been cleared of any illegal activity. Is it me, or was that the quickest investigation ever? And odd, considering Sanford paid back money used to make trips, which would seemingly indicated he did something wrong in the first place? Why else would he pay back the money?
  • Poll numbers, unsurprisingly, aren't looking good for the guv. My favorite:
A week ago only 22% thought Sanford had "said too much" about his personal life, while 36% thought he needed to say more and 36% thought he had revealed "the right amount." Today an overwhelming 68% think he's now said too much.

Count me in among the 68 percent, please!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I have no idea what Burger King is implying here

And I thought the BK King commercials were creepy! I can't ignore this one no matter how hard I try. (Thanks, Internet.) What's next, this sandwich becomes an "appendage" of the King? A pre-emptive argument for those who will say "yeah, but the ad got your attention! It did its job!" Sure. But it did nothing to make me want this sandwich or want to go to BK; in fact, it has done the opposite.

Ya know, sex and food are often linked together. In advertising, in life, in dreams, whatever. But really? Fast food and sex? One of the last things anyone should be relating sex to is fast food. I don't even know if this ad is supposed to make guys want to buy the burger because it makes them think of getting laid, or if it's supposed to make girls buy it because they think it will fill their, um, mouths.*

Note the small text at the bottom of the ad:

"Fill your desire with something long, juicy and flame-grilled with the NEW BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER. Yearn for more after you taste the mind-blowing burger that comes with a single beef patty, topped with American cheese, crispy onions, and the A.1 Thick and Hearty Steak Sauce."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the ad show a white mayonnaise-looking sauce on the burger as well? A sauce that isn't in that description of the burger? So, it's on the ad photo's version of the burger because ... ? Yeah. (And it looks to me like two beef patties, but whatever.)

Anyway, if you're a straight dude, which I assume is who BK is targeting with this ad, and you hear "fill your desire with this seven-inch burger," does that make sense to you? Does it make you want to run out and buy it? *This is why I don't even know who this ad is actually targeting.

This isn't the first time a BK ad has been criticized, and I'm guessing it won't be the last. It's also not their first "sexy" ad campaign. Best of all, these ad campaigns don't seem to be having much of an effect on sales. And now it seems fast food chains are trying to one-up each other on sex/gross ads. Check out this one from Hardee's. Let's not forget the creepy Quiznos ads, or this little gem. (Feel free to point out more.)

There are tons of sites on the Internet about ads; check out copyranter sometime (here's their post on this BK ad). Do a little looking around; the state of advertising is a bit sorry. Sex is the easiest thing to fall back on. Show some creativity folks. Or, just maybe, some subtlety.

UPDATE: A BK spokesman has talked about the ad (read full story here):

Lauren Kuziner, a spokeswoman for Burger King, said the campaign was produced by a local Singaporean agency and not by the company's U.S. advertising firm, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

"Burger King Corp. values and respects all of its guests," Kuziner said in a statement to FOXNews.com. "This print ad is running to support a limited time promotion in the Singapore market and is not running in the U.S. or any other markets. The campaign is supported by the franchisee in Singapore and has generated positive consumer sales around this limited time product offer in that market."

Kuziner declined to identify the Singapore-based firm and did not respond to requests for comment on whether Burger King had received complaints in connection to the advertisement.

"Values and respects all of its guests"? Ha! Try again buddy, you aren't even close.

Here's BK's contact information, should you want to express your opinion directly to them: Contact us.

Suggested Sunday reading (June 28)

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, an important landmark in the history of the struggle for equal rights for LGBT community. If you don't know about this event, take a minute to read about it:

In another anniversary, Title IX was passed 37 years ago. (I love how colleges often "solve" athletic inequality by just cutting men's teams, instead of adding women's teams.) As the article suggests, Title IX, passed in 1972, is still the subject of numerous lawsuits. Do a Google News search for it; multiple cases are going on now. The White House also marked the occasion; check out this note from the event:
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in the 37 years since Title IX was passed, female participation in college athletics is up from 15% to 43%, and the number of female high school athletes has grown from 300,000 to nearly three million.

Speaking of the White House, Lynn Rosenthal was recently appointed as the White House advisor on Violence Against Women. A good move, and from what I've read she's an excellent choice for the job. Here's the press release from the White House.

The NYT has something of a fluff piece about relationships between straight men and gay men, but it's worth reading. The point (I think) is that it is becoming more "acceptable" for straight men to have gay friends, especially among the younger generations. Two rather interesting bits in the article:
Adam Carter, 34, a straight fund-raiser from Chicago who frequently travels overseas, recalled losing a friend in Brazil after rejecting his advances. "We were driving to a party and he put his hand on my thigh," Mr. Carter said. "I didn't make a big deal out of it. I just told him it wasn't my thing. But things were never the same." He added: "Now I look back on all the things we did together and wonder, was it all just to get me in the sack? Now I know what girls feel like."
And a professor's study of straight-gay male friendships revealed:
... only 13 of the (46) pairs could truly be called close friends, often because the straight man was willing to delve only so far into the gay friend's personal life. In a surprising twist, she found that the straight men with the most evolved sense of masculinity - the ones who forged the tightest friendships with their gay friends - were from military families or had some military training.
Possibly additional support for overturning DADT? I think so.

At this point there might be an infinite amount of reading material regarding Michael Jackson's death. One of the best things I've come across is this piece by Joe Posnanski, which does a great job explaining how one the importance of music is related to time and to youth. Seriously, go read it.

Visual note: Old comic book covers can be questionable at times (have you ever looked at these Superman covers?), but let's all take a moment and appreciate this one (courtesy):

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Hottest Girls" iPhone app purchasers, I'm laughing at you

The news of this story is kind of all over the place as to what exactly happened, but the result is that an iPhone app called "Hottest Girls" is no longer available from Apple. Either Apple banned it or the developers pulled the app. (See stories here, here and here.) Either way, the app was a bunch of images of women in underwear/bathing suits and, at some point, topless women as well. I believe it cost $1.99. As I understand it, Apple has previously not allowed "adult" content in apps, so this batch of topless women was big news in app land.

Now, I don't have an iPhone, so please jump in and let me know if I'm wrong. But isn't one of the biggest selling points of the iPhone that you can do pretty much anything on it? Like, say, browse the web and look at pictures of women in underwear/bathing suits, or, say topless/naked women? Couldn't you, if you wanted, watch porn on your iPhone? (A quick search of "iPhone porn" would seem to indicate that indeed, you can.)

Futhermore, why are you paying any money at all, even $1.99, to see pictures you can see anywhere else for free? And really, you need "hot chicks" on your iPhone so bad that you just have to have the "Hottest Girls" app, or any similar app? For what reason? To impress girls? Hardly. To impress guys? Doubtful. To get off? Well, if that's the case, then please keep your phone (and yourself) far away from all of humanity.

This is a phone we're talking about. A phone!! Can people seriously not even go X amount of time without having access to photos of "hot chicks," to the point they have to be able to see such photos on their phones? (Photos they could see anyway, just by getting online?) Is it some sort of fear of withdrawal? "Man, I gotta see me some babes like, right now, it's been hours, I can't handle it anymore!" If so, might I suggest you seek professional help for your addiction?

It's no surprise that if such an app were to get through Apple and be available for the iPhone, men would buy it, probably in large numbers. And it's no surprise that people are going to laugh at you for doing so. Gotta fall for it every single time, don't ya? Suckers.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald, R.I.P.

In the middle of some big celebrity deaths -- Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson -- I want to take a minute and talk about the death of Dr. Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald.

She's best known for her time on Antarctica in 1999, during which she found a lump on her breast, trained crew members to help her biopsy it, and then started treated the cancer. She was airlifted off Antarctica in one of the earliest flights to the continent, and after treatment her cancer was eventually in remission. But it returned in 2005, and she died on June 23.

FitzGerald wrote a book about her time on Antarctica, called "Ice Bound." I read it years ago, and was completely engrossed in the story. I'm fascinated with Antarctica and will read just about any book on the subject, but this book in particular does a great job of discussing the details of life at the South pole, explaining the atmosphere of living there and the personal relationships that develop. I'd recommend it to anyone, for the story and the inspiration found in it. I thank her for sharing her story.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chart of all charts: Same-sex marriage debate

I don't know the background of this fantastic chart, as it was sent to me by a co-worker (thank you!). But it's highly entertaining and I can't think of any argument it left out. Click the image to see it full size.


Some of my favorites:
  • "Young hetero males won't get married because they'll think marriage is 'gay'"
  • "What's 'non-sequitur' mean? Do I look it up in a Fag-to-English dictionary?"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday reading suggestions (6/21)

Apologies for being a little late on this, but there is still an hour of Sunday left here!

1. Let's start with this sad yet kinda funny article about Focus on the Family allowing women to wear pants to work now. Seriously.
Beginning [this past Tuesday], men who work at Focus no longer have to wear mandatory business attire, including tie, and women employees don’t have to stick with just dresses or skirts and hosiery. Men can now come to work donning an open collar shirt — but no spandex — and women can arrive decked in dress pants and pantsuits.
No doubt "spandex" = "gay"

2. There's a rather disturbing case of a judge keeping an HIV-positive pregnant woman in jail so that her child would be born there and thus would be "more likely to receive medical treatment and follow an HIV treatment regimen" than if she were out on her own. Read RH Reality Check's article about it.

3. We all know pay inequality still exists between men and women. Did you know there's also a pay gap between women with and without children? One study found it to be bigger than the pay gap between men and women. Men with children, however, get paid just as much as men without children. If people in this country really want children to be, first of all, born, and secondly, taken good care of, this is the exact kind of crap that needs to change. Women who have children are obviously just as capable as those who don't have children. Read more about it here.

4. Speaking of children being born, I highly recommend this Village Voice article about "'snowflake' babies, embryo adoption and being pre-born again." It's part of the pro-life movement, and it features some truly terrifying tactics. Example: "The idea is to convince people that embryos created for in vitro fertilization—undifferentiated clumps of cells roughly the size of a comma—are actually individuals that deserve legal rights and the same protections afforded to actual children during adoption." For reference, here's a five-day old human embryo:

See how that's not at all like a child up for adoption? Again, terrifying.

5. In a bit of good news, the 2010 Census will count same-sex couples. Data is important, the Census is important, and same-sex couples should certainly be counted. Read more here. And while you're at it, read about Michelle Bachmann's refusal to fill out Census forms -- she never ceases to be crazy. Ever.

Visual bonus: This has made it's way around the Internet for a couple days now, but if you haven't seen it yet, check out this 1964 Frederick's of Hollywood catalog. Love how the cover boasts "Get that 'marry-a-millionaire' look!"

Friday, June 19, 2009

Senate resolution condeming violence fails. Why?

Which senator(s) would have a problem with this resolution? I'm so curious to know who blocked it. If someone dies as a result of violence against a women's reproductive health care provider, like Dr. George Tiller, and you can't bring yourself to condemn such violence, what kind of person are you? (What are the odds said person(s) are "pro-life," too?)

Here's the press release on this resolution from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:

"(Washington, DC) - Following the recent tragic shooting death of Dr. George Tiller, a reproductive health care provider in Kansas, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) authored a non-controversial resolution condemning the use of violence against providers of women's health care services. The resolution faced objection by some colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and the Senators were urged to eliminate references to women's reproductive health care in order to unanimously pass the resolution. Shaheen, Boxer, and Klobuchar introduced their original resolution, which was co-sponsored by an additional 43 Senators.

"I realize that the issue of reproductive choice is divisive and that there are many heartfelt feelings on both sides of the aisle," said Shaheen. "However, I was hopeful that, regardless of our differences of opinion on this sensitive issue, the Senate could come together and pass a resolution that rejects the use of violence against women's health care providers. It is a sad day when the elected leaders of the greatest Democracy on earth can't agree to protect those exercising their constitutional rights."

"Everyone has the right to work for changes in the law, but there is no place for violence in any of our debates," said Boxer. "To assault a health care worker, a patient or anyone else because of a disagreement about an issue, regardless of how contentious, brings all of humanity down into a dark pit of violence."

"As a former prosecutor I have seen how acts of violence can tear apart communities," said Klobuchar. "No matter how heated the debate or how great our differences, violence is never the answer. Supporting a bipartisan bill that denounces the use of violence is basic common sense and we need to pass this without further delay."

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution condemning violence in places of worship. Shaheen, Boxer and Klobuchar were asked adopt the House language in the Senate, but decided to move forward with their resolution, as they feel condemning violence against women's health care providers and agreeing not to use violence as a means of resolving differences are not objectionable viewpoints.

The Senate resolution was sponsored by Senators Shaheen, Boxer, and Klobuchar. It was co-sponsored by Senators Murray; Durbin; Dodd; Schumer; Lautenberg; Mikulski; Landrieu; Gillibrand; Harkin; Carper; Sanders; Kaufman; Wyden; Kerry; Lieberman; Tom Udall; Levin; Brown; Whitehouse; Burris; Mark Udall; Stabenow; Baucus; Cantwell; Bingaman; Inouye; Cardin; Specter; Johnson; Feingold; Leahy; Tester; Snowe; Begich; Akaka; Bennet; Feinstein; Warner; McCaskill; Reed; Kennedy, Lincoln; and Merkley.

The full text of the resolution follows:


Condemning the use of violence against providers of health care services to women.

Whereas Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas was shot to death at church on Sunday, May 31;

Whereas there is a history of violence against providers of reproductive health care, as health care employees have suffered threats and hostility in order to provide crucial services to patients;

Whereas the threat or use of force or physical obstruction has been used to injure, intimidate, or interfere with individuals seeking to obtain or provide health care services;

and Whereas acts of violence are never an acceptable means of expression and always shall be condemned:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate---

(1) Expresses great sympathy for the family, friends and patients of Dr. George Tiller;

(2) Recognizes that acts of violence should never be used to prevent women from receiving reproductive health care; and

(3) Condemns the use of violence as a means of resolving differences of opinion."

More reading:
  • NARAL has also issued a press release on the resolution's obstruction.
  • RH Reality Check weighs in too, with a good column on the issue.
UPDATE: Thanks to opencongress.org for linking to this blog.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Musical time out

One of my favorite bands, Moneen, has a new EP out.

Take a listen. If you're at all curious, I highly recommend their album The Red Tree. Start to finish, it's entirely engaging. They'll also have a new full-length album out Sept. 15!

On another note, I'm kind of curious about this movie. I love that Amy Adams doesn't look all dolled up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Where's my fly swatter?

Seriously PETA? You're kidding, right? You must be. You're calling shenanigans on President Obama for swatting a fly? And do you think the president of the United States of America -- the president -- is ever going to use your little catch-and-release fly device? And just exactly why should he? It's a house fly for crying out loud. What's next, we can't kill mosquitoes that are filling up on our blood? What if I see a brown recluse, can I kill that before it bites me?

From AP:
The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants the flyswatter in chief to try taking a more humane attitude the next time he's bedeviled by a fly in the White House.

PETA is sending President Barack Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside.
Do you realize this kind of publicity stunt is precisely why so many people either can't take you seriously and/or think your organization is full of crazies? (In my case, both.) I'm all for animal rights, but common insect rights? No. No no no no no. If they don't want to die, they shouldn't break into my house. Or bite me. But they do, so death it is.

Speaking of pesky creatures, an update on the Palin-Letterman saga is in order. Palin accepted Letterman's apology and in doing so managed to make herself look worse yet again:
The Alaska governor, in a statement issued Tuesday, said the apology was accepted "on behalf of all young women, like my daughters, who hope men who 'joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve."
What exactly is a "public display of sexual exploitation of girls"? And who's exploiting who when you send your daughter on a national abstinence tour?

One more note on this story, if you haven't read it yet, check out Shannyn Moore's column, "Top 10 Reasons Sarah Palin's 'Outrage' is Misplaced and A Little Late..." No. 5 is particularly relevant to Letterman's joke and how it was interpreted.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Leno gets away with what Letterman cannot

If you haven't heard by now about the Palin vs. Letterman match, go look it up. I'm not going to rehash the whole thing here; in fact, I've been doing everything I can to avoid writing about it at all, until now. Palin is completely hypocritical when it comes to her kids, using them to her advantage whenever she can and then complaining whenever anyone says anything remotely negative about them, even in joke form. Playing victim is an old trick, one that women can easily fall back on, and she really could've handled this whole thing by saying "I think that was a completely inappropriate joke to make about one of my kids." Instead we get the Palins basically saying that Letterman is pedophile. As in:

Palin had earlier this week decried the joke as "inappropriate" and "sexually perverted", saying it contributed "to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others."


A spokeswoman for Palin responded on Thursday by saying there was no chance of the Republican icon accepting an invitation to appear on Letterman's show, adding: "It would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman."

Asked on Friday if that comment was suggesting that Letterman could "not be trusted around a 14-year-old", Palin replied: "Take it the way you want to take it. It's from the heart."

But anyway. Tonight, Letterman issued a straightforward apology on his show.

Fine, if he feels the need to sincerely apologize, that's within his right. I don't think it's all that necessary. In my opinion, this is just another case of loud conservatives getting "feminism" when it's convenient. Plus, it was a joke! But it's a nice apology, and let's all hope two things happen now:

1. Palin shuts up about it. (Really, she should apologize to Letterman for what she said about him, but I won't hold my breath.)
2. Palin never hears the jokes other comedians have made about Bristol, and these were told when Bristol was 17 years old. Like this one by Jay Leno:

"Gov. Palin announced over the weekend that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant. And you thought John Edwards was in trouble before! Now he has really done it." -- "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," 9/2/08

I would be remiss not link to this Tommy Christopher column on the Letterman-Leno-Palin topic. Great point about Meghan McCain in there.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday reading suggestions (6/14)

What great or interesting news articles/commentary you have you come across this week? I suggest:

Some suggested viewing this week as well. If you haven't yet, watch Joan Walsh of Salon.Com on Bill O'Reilly's show. (Sorry I had to post the clip uploaded by this particular group, but it was the most complete one I found. I disagree with their premise that she gets "destroyed.")

Let's delve into Twitter's #CNNfail on Iran

Since sometime yesterday, post after post on Twitter has contained the hashtag "CNNfail," aimed at the network's coverage, or lack of, of the election in Iran. I don't know exactly when it started, but I do know that it continued overnight and into today. Let's examine the hypothesis:

1. There was a huge election in Iran, the outcome of which is important to Iranians (obviously) and America's future relationship with the country.
2. The outcome is sketchy. Accusations of a rigged election, a surprising result, self-declared winners, overall general conflict.
3. Because of the outcome and sketchiness surrounding it, people in Iran, particularly Moussavi supporters, have taken to the streets in protest.
4. In the midst of all this, multiple people on sites like Twitter, most of them in Iran, say that Iranians are without cell phones and/or Internet, don't have access to sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and are having trouble getting information out. (Though some obviously managed somehow, if these accounts on Twitter are true.)

5. People in America want to know what's going on. They turned on CNN (apparently), and did not see coverage of Iran.

6. CNN failed.

I'm pretty sure that about sums it up; I haven't had time to read every single #CNNfail post or #Iranelection. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

When I jumped into this discussion last night, it was around 1 a.m. EST. On a Saturday night, no less. Not a time when any of the three major cable news networks usually have live coverage of anything. But here are all these people, pissed off at CNN, because CNN doesn't have live coverage of Iran. No one seems to be asking why CNN isn't covering Iran that late at night on a Saturday; they just assume either CNN doesn't think it's important enough, or they give a reason of "It doesn't matter, it's CNN's job to report the news."

Well, yes, it is CNN's job to report the news. And they have; it's not like they completely ignored Iran all day yesterday (I know, because I watched during the day). It's also CNN's job to make money. News is, always has been, and always will be, a business first. If you can't make money, bye-bye news outlet. Maybe CNN didn't find it cost-effective to have the staff there for live coverage. Maybe it's beyond that and they simply don't have the money to have live coverage at that time of night. Maybe CNN itself was having problems getting accurate information from Iran and didn't want to, or couldn't, go on air with no concrete information. Maybe there were technical problems. Maybe, just maybe, CNN didn't think enough people were up watching CNN at 2 a.m. on Saturday night who were also interested in the Iran elections. Just because so many people on Twitter are intensely following the story doesn't mean the rest of the country is in the same way. Take a look at what the most popular stories were on cnn.com around 2 a.m. last night:

If Iran were as important to everyone else as it is to people following the story on Twitter, wouldn't it be the most popular story on cnn.com too?

I've been hearing for a good year now (okay, more than that) that the newspaper industry is dying. No need for a print newspaper anymore, everything can be online. If newspapers can't figure out an online business model to support themselves, see ya later. And that's all true, to some extent. When people raise the question of "how will you get your news when there aren't any newspapers?" the answer is always "umm, like, the Internet? Duh!" I have never heard anyone answer that with "umm, like, CNN? Duh!" So let's go along with the premise that CNN did fail in its coverage of Iran yesterday/last night. Big deal. Where's the Internet coverage of Iran? That's the future of journalism, right? Why are you suddenly so upset with CNN? Why aren't you upset with "the Internet" for not providing you the coverage you seek? Where's the outrage toward Fox News and/or MSNBC? After all, Fox News has many more viewers than CNN does. Where are all these online-only journalists that everyone seems to think will cover every story everywhere? Surely CNN isn't expected to be your only source of news. Isn't that what's so great about the Internet, you can get all kinds news from all kinds of sources?

I don't understand what all the complaining is about. (I also don't really watch CNN, for what that's worth.) If CNN failed you, here's a suggestion: don't watch it. Don't rely on it for your news. Turn somewhere else. Either that, or re-think what you want out of traditional media in this country, and support the outlets that provide it. And think about what the future of journalism as a whole could look like soon, because you may have just gotten a preview of it last night.

UPDATE: Now people are complaining that CNN isn't covering what's going on in Peru. Example:
"While we are all focused on Iran there is still a massacre happening in Peru too, why no news on this CNN? #cnnfail"

Yeah CNN, why aren't you covering Peru? While we're at it, why aren't you simultaneously covering every single story I want to see on your network, and can you at least have the courtesy of reading my mind to know what I'm going to want to see before it's even news? Geez.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Book burning is such an odd request

Unless you can burn every copy of a book, why bother? Yeah, okay, it is a spectacle and draws attention to you and your "cause." But if you're only going to burn a couple copies of a widely available book, all you're really doing is promoting that book and getting more copies of it sold. We all know the fastest way to promote something is by censoring it; funny how the people requesting the censoring never seem to notice that.

There's a case that's been going on in the Wisconsin town of West Bend where a group of people requested that some young adult books be reclassified, reshelved, labeled with warning stickers, banned and burned.

Targeted books include:

The books were called "sexually explicit" and were said to be pushing a "gay agenda" by those complaining about them. The case got to the point where four members of the library board in West Bend were dismissed from their jobs for refusing to remove the books. Then the Christian Civil Liberties Union filed a legal claim against West Bend, the mayor and the library and said that the books "have damaged its plaintiffs mentally and emotionally." The lawsuit is where the book burning came into play; the suit demanded said books be burned. It also demanded $30,000 for each plaintiff.

So some "elderly" people, as the articles describe them, got mad about a couple books in the young adult section because they feature gay characters and/or sex. (I hope they've never heard of Judy Blume!) So mad that they ultimately wanted the books banned from the library and taken out and burned, and some money for their emotional stress over it. Never mind the stress that young adults in the town might feel, especially those who are gay, or the stress of the fired library board members, or of the library staff. I can't find anything indicating how these people knew about the content of the books, if they ever read the books, etc. But I sure know that I want to read them now! So thanks angry folks in West Bend, Wis., for making me aware of said books.

In the end, the library did not get rid of the books, and they remained on the shelves as they were, unlabeled and unrestricted. I assume the lawsuit never went anywhere. Congrats to the people of the town who stood up for the library with an organized read-in and who attended meetings and spoke out about the case. You can read more at the site West Bend Parents for Free Speech. Great example of getting involved in your community.

But I still don't understand what burning the books would have accomplished. Other than, you know, putting on a full display of these people's bigotry and ignorance.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Not so much with the "Trust Women"

By now, you've probably heard of Dr. George Tiller's affinity for the phrase "Trust Women." It's simple and get's the point across immediately when it comes to women's reproductive health care. I was just reading an article about Tiller and decided to do a Google image search for "trust women," figuring that by now there would be tons images with said phrase on them.

Oops. I was wrong. This is a sample of what I found:

But at least a few were there:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Open your eyes, Huffington Post

A couple months ago, the Huffington Post announced it was going to start a new project -- with a $1.75 million budget -- focused on investigating and reporting on the economy. (Here's the NYT's story about it, and Arianna Huffington's column about it.) The idea is to hire journalists and offer the stories to other media outlets, in addition to posting them on HuffPo. So kind of like a very small, focused wire service on the subject. I remember thinking at the time that this was a great example of what the future of journalism could look like: an Internet-only news site with actual journalists covering a huge story in-depth. And perhaps it will be; it doesn't seem to really be getting off the ground yet, but I can't find a lot of information on the status of the project.

I often wonder how seriously people take HuffPo. It doesn't have a lot of original reporting (yet?), but nonetheless a big following. I myself read it on occassion, mostly for the political commentary. In fact, I just recently realized that I never venture away from the home page to any of the "areas" of the site -- media, business, entertainment, etc. So it came as something of a surprise to me today to see this headline on Romenesko: "Hess: Visit Huffington Post for liberal views and sexist entertainment." Umm, what? I'm aware of the liberal views, but sexist entertainment?

And there it is. I might not agree with everything Amanda Hess says in her column about HuffPo, but I see her point. What I don't see is the point of HuffPo posting all these boob/nipple/nude photos. Is it for page views? And if so, is HuffPo that desperate for page views that it has to resort to the lowest common denominator of naked chicks to get people to visit? Has it always been like this on HuffPo? Is everyone else aware of it but me? (If you are unaware, Hess's column has plenty of links to the boobs.) I ask honestly, because I've been oblivious to it. Though now that I'm aware, it's already popping up in places like this: a Yahoo article about Megan Fox's see-through dress links to HuffPo's photos of said dress. You know who else Yahoo mentions as places to go to get more news on Fox's dress? The blogs Just Jared and Celebrity Gossip. Is this what HuffPo wants to be associated with?

Huffington Post, you should be better than this. I don't care if your "Heather Graham: Tantric Sex 'Works For Me' " article has received 235,488 views; leave it to gossip sites to report on such nonsense, leave it to porn sites to show women's boobs, leave it to whoever else to degrade and objectify women. There is no excuse for this. Focus on actual news, please.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Racism? Where?

When you've got nothing left but criticizing a photo of Michelle Obama, maybe it's time to step back and take a look at what exactly you're trying to accomplish.

A number of conservative folk have been discussing this photo of the First Lady. It's of her and France's First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy at a ceremony in Normandy to mark the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Some comments are in good fun (I hope), such as "if looks could kill!" I mean, let's be honest, it isn't the most flattering photo of her. Other people, however, have said:

  • Michelle Obama photo is exactly what can turn public opinion, not abstruse, complex arguments.
  • The Real Michelle Obama: Hate & Vitriol. Photo says it all
  • Michelle Obama "God Damn America" photo at Normandy -- please blog to world
  • I'm emailing the Michelle Obama "God Damn America" photo to conservative journalists. Please do the same.
  • MUST see photo of Michelle Obama happy NOT to be at Normandy doesn't look proud of her country

If you don't see what's going on here, I'll explain. During the campaign, Republicans tried their best to make Michelle Obama into a stereotypical angry black woman. The sentiment gained ground among the GOP base, perhaps slightly beyond, and that's about it. But since Barack Obama became president, Michelle Obama's numbers have been extremely favorable. So the second there's a photo of Michelle looking remotely like an angry black woman, conservatives pounce on it. "See??!" they say. "She IS an angry black woman! There's evidence of it right here in this one photo out of the millions taken of her!"

What's the over/under on these people being the same ones who believe Sonia Sotomayor is racist?

UPDATE: Just saw this lovely screen capture of Fox Nation's discussion of this photo, courtesy of News Hounds. "First Mammy?" Seriously??!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday reading suggestions

Here's a couple ideas to spend some time with today:

Start with President Obama's speech in Cairo. The full transcript is available here, but let's focus for a second on what he said about women's rights:
"I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

Now let me be clear: issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams."
The theme of education and literacy continue in this news story about India, who now has its first woman president, Pratibha Patil, and is trying to pass a law that would require one-third of elected seats in parliament be reserved for women. Another goal: improving the rate of literacy among women in India. Current rate is 54 percent. Can you imagine if only 54 percent of American women were literate?

Next up: A look at Hillary Clinton's role as Secretary of State. This piece, written by a woman who apparently didn't care for Clinton during the presidential election, praises Clinton in her current role as the "feminist hero of this administration." That might come as no surprise to some people (me), as Clinton has long been a women's rights supporter. But it's good nonetheless that she gets recognition for what she's done and is trying to do in her job.

Finally, a horrifying article titled "How Did 100,000,000 Women Disappear?" This piece examines population figures in Asia and Africa and concludes that women, who statistically live longer than men, are dying earlier and faster than men in these parts of the country. To the tune of 100 million women. Gone. They are dying of disease (lack of health care for women), suicide, "injuries," murder, child birth, etc. It's a must-read.

Any other suggested Sunday readings? Let me know.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pill popping: It's your right

This is so fucking stupid I can't even believe people take it seriously. But they do, forcing me to write about it. Because if there's anything I can't stand, it's stupidity. And this is stupidity to the Nth degree.

Tomorrow, June 6, is "Protest the Pill Day." As in birth control pills. Behind this, unsurprisingly, is the American Life League. The group describes itself as "the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life organization in the United States and is committed to the protection of all innocent human beings from the moment of creation to natural death." I describe them as "We put fetuses first. Screw women." ALL will hold these protests at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country, at 10 a.m.

ALL claims it holds "Protest the Pill Day" because the pill kills women. In fact, tomorrow they plan to "expose the sordid details surrounding the tragic effects these chemicals have on women. We will emphasize the truth about how the pill kills women." (Details readily available at thepillkills.com. I highly suggest independent research, too.)

This just in: the pill is a drug! Did you know that? It's a fucking DRUG! Can you believe a drug could have side effects, even lethal ones*? Crazy, right? Next you're going to tell me I have to get it from a doctor who will advise me about possible side effects ... the same ones spoken on every TV commercial about the pill, and written on every ad for the pill. I feel like I could recite them, and I'm not even on it.

I suppose ALL thinks it's being clever, claiming to protest the pill because it kills women. As if no one will see through their plan and uncover their real points:
  1. The pill kills babies. Potential babies, sure, but that still falls under their umbrella of "all life." (Wasted sperm, apparently, does not. Yet, anyway.)
  2. Stop having sex already. See, you can't be on the pill, because it'll kill you, and you can't get pregnant unless you're ready to birth the child, so you have to just stop fucking. It's the only way to not kill babies, until we find a way to make you stop menstruating too.
I have to point out the obvious here: This movement is about controlling women's sexuality and women's bodies. Plain and simple. Nowhere is anyone en masse telling men not to have sex because they might get a girl pregnant. Nope. It's all up to the women. You know what? Fuck. Off. If there is one single man out there who plans to attend this event, he better not be having sex of any kind that could in any way be deemed irresponsible. Men, if you are anti-choice and/or anti-contraceptives, you must stop having sex immediately. And do not have it again until you and your partner are 100 percent sure you are ready for a baby, and you are 100 percent sure you can trust the woman to not abort the baby or sneak the pill (because if she does, then congrats, you're party to a dead baby). So, men, YOU stop having sex. Because abortion isn't an option, and neither is the pill now, condoms aren't 100 percent effective, neither is withdrawal, and if you're Catholic you can't use any contraceptives anyway. Anti-choice men, I'm putting the burden on you now. How does it feel?

If you're out and about tomorrow, stop by the Planned Parenthood nearest you and let these protesters know what you think. Or stop by and thank the clinic workers for their dedication, in honor of Dr. George Tiller, whose funeral service is tomorrow. And while you're there, pick up some birth control.

Additional reading:
  • The Huffington Post: "Right-Wing Protesters: Birth Control Will Kill You."
  • Daily Kos: "More Anti-Choice Totalitarianism"
  • Politics Daily: "Post-Tiller, Pro-Life Movement Lives On" (good read to get the scope of insanity we're dealing with here, like how contraceptives cannot be the answer to decreasing abortion. Huge WTF.)
  • Feministing: "The Pill Kills? Umm ... No"
  • Kansas City Star: "Abortion Providers Say Tiller Knew Something Was Coming"
  • Kansas City Tribune: "Operation Rescue: Terrorizing Kansans since 1991"
  • The Daily Mail: "A moral civil war: The truth is millions of Americans believe Dr 'Baby Killer' Tiller deserved to die"
UPDATE: Turns out you're more likely to develop a blood clot during pregnancy than you are when using birth control. The risk of death associated with pregnancy is much higher than it is from using birth control. Somehow doubt these protesters are letting anyone know that.

*I fully recognize people have died from birth control pills, and that the pill has side effects. I'm not trying to make light of this in any way. Obviously something to be discussed with your doctor.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Abortion, Playboy and Palin (oh my?)

Rachel Maddow had some great segments tonight about Dr. George Tiller's assassination and what it means as related to a variety of issues. Her interview with Frank Schaeffer is worth watching (he also wrote a column for the Huffington Post today that discusses the same topic), but the segment of her show that most concerned me is her interview with Dr. Susan Wickland about how much less accessible abortion is for women now than it was 20 years ago:

Scary stuff, and I can't see it getting any better anytime soon. That interview goes well with this excellent article from Salon.com, "
Where Will Women Go Now?" Some women drive hundreds of miles for a "regular" abortion. Those needing late-term abortions have approximately two choices left for where to have the procedure in this country. From the article:
Susan Hill, President of the National Women's Health Foundation, who knew Dr. Tiller for over two decades and referred girls and women to his clinic, said in a phone interview, "We always sent the really tragic cases to Tiller." Those included women diagnosed with cancer who needed abortions to qualify for chemotherapy, women who learned late in their pregnancies that their wanted babies had fatal illnesses, and rape victims so young they didn't realize they were pregnant for months. "We sent him 11-year-olds, 12-year-olds who were way too far along for anybody [else] to see," said Hill. "Eleven-year-olds don't tell anybody. Sometimes they don't even know they've had a period."
It's so easy for anti-choice people to decry late-term abortions as nothing more than killing babies. They don't understand, or don't want to understand, how hard the decision is. In some cases it's literally your life or the babies life. But not both. Read some of the case stories about Dr. Tiller's patients; these aren't families who don't want to be "inconvenienced" by having a baby. These are gut-wrenching stories made even more complicated by the fact that the women have to travel across country to find a doctor to help them.

One last note about the Tiller story, for now: O'Reilly couldn't have displayed less class today if he tried.

Onto Playboy, who today published on its Web site a story called "10 Conservative Women We’d Love to Hate-Fuck." I imagine the title says it all. The writer,
Guy Cimbalo, who I assume is not a conservative, fantasizes about "hate fucking" said 10 women. I'm not a Playboy fan to start with (if you're sitting there thinking you actually read it for the articles, you're living a lie), and this is a great reminder of why. The women listed in the article -- well, the ones I know by name, I don't know who some of them are -- are either professional journalists or broadcasters or politicians. I probably don't agree with 98 percent of what comes out of any of their mouths, but they certainly don't deserve this kind of immature sleaze. They had things written about them like "The Hate Fuck Rating: You get this one pregnant, she stays pregnant. Karma’s a bitch, isn’t it?" (Get it? Because she's a conservative so she's not going to have an abortion ... ?)

Guy Cimbalo, you're my Worst Person in the World today. You beat out O'Reilly. Congrats for being a complete misygonistic asshole.

By the way, the backlash against this article was so immediate and so strong that Playboy pulled it from its site after a couple hours. Hilarious. I'm sure the article exists elsewhere if one really needs to read it. My recommended reading on the subject:
  • A somewhat good criticism from Salon.com, that has this great line in it: "If bashing conservatives makes sexism okay, irony makes it even more so; Cimbalo can’t be a genuine misogynist if his jokes are so hep, dig." But the best part of the article is the last two paragraphs.
  • Accuracy in Media's post, "Proof that Playboy is broken."
  • Hot Air's "It's Official, Playboy is a Hate Site."
  • Smart Girl Politics weighs in too.
Finally, let's tie this all in with a look at how Sarah Palin reacted to Tiller's death, and how she reacted to Carrie Prejean being "attacked" by liberals. Read both statements here. Interesting stuff.


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