By now you’ve all heard about Dr. George Tiller

 Link, in case you haven’t.

Not sure what to think about late-term abortions*. But I do know what I feel about the murder of mature, productive members of a society.

The next few months will be awful for the family. More so than usual for a death, even a violent one like this.

Won’t be easy for his parish, Reformation Lutheran Church, either. If they’re not already being picketed, they will be.

You all probably have more to say than I’m willing to right now.




*Or, more specifically, the legal permissability and status of the normative prescription of the procedure. More on that  later.


Oprah is bad for women and children

Much commending is due to Weston Kosova and Pat Wingert for writing in  Newsweek  a long overdue debunking of Oprahism:

Last summer Dr. Christiane Northrup, a physician and one of Oprah’s regular experts, took questions from the audience. One woman asked about the HPV vaccine, which protects women against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. Northrup advised against getting the shot. “I’m a little against my own profession,” she said. “My own profession feels that everyone should be vaccinated.” But Northrup cautioned, “There have been some deaths from the vaccine.” She suggested a different approach. “Where I’d put my money is getting everybody on a dietary program that would enhance their immunity, and then they would be able to resist that sort of thing. All right?”

It is true that of the millions of women who have received the vaccine, 32 have died in the days or weeks afterward. But in each case, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration investigated the deaths and found that they were coincidental and were not related to the shot. “This is a very safe vaccine,” says Susan Wood, a research professor in the School of Public Health at George Washington University and the former head of the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health. “Because of the power and influence that Oprah’s show has, she should make an extra effort to be clear.” Neither did Oprah question Northrup’s assertion that women can stop the spread of a cancer-causing sexually transmitted disease by eating healthy foods. There is, Wood says dryly, “no evidence that money spent on general health promotion” will do that. Reached by phone, Northrup herself now concedes she isn’t certain that anyone has died from the vaccine. And she didn’t mean to leave the impression that women should avoid it. “I would say that there is a chance that they could be injured from it, but I wouldn’t say not to take it.”

Northrup holds a special place in Oprah’s constellation of regular guests. A Dartmouth-educated ob-gyn, she stresses alternative therapies and unseen connections between the soul and the body that she believes conventional doctors overlook, but that she can see. She has written about how she has used Tarot cards to help diagnose her own illnesses.

Also, she’s giving a television show to anti-vaccination activist Jenny McCarthy, who is quoted in the article with a statement strongly implying autistic children have no souls.

Continue reading

Marx refuted again: History plays itself as farce, then tragedy

The Onion, 2001:

American Voices

The 2000 presidential election is barely in the books, but talk has already turned to the possibility of Hillary Clinton making a White House run in 2004. What do you think?

“A woman president? What if she menstruates all over some important legislation?”

Rich Durban,

Gordon Liddy, 2009:

Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when [Sotomayor]’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then.

Santayana remains the reigning aphorist on history.

(It pains me to bring up the philosopher using the one out-of-context quote no one realizes is his. But, then again, no one’s heard of him anyway. So I’ll take any excuse.)

Six more gay men murdered in Iraq

Via ABC News:

…An Iraqi military source claimed the recent killings were linked to tribal violence, not militias, and his characterization of the killings hints at how deep homophobia runs in Iraqi society.

“Two young men were killed Thursday. They were sexual deviants. Their tribes killed them to restore their family honor,” an Iraqi army member who did not want to give his name told ABC News…

The army source said the bodies of four gay men were unearthed in Sadr City March 25, each bearing signs reading “pervert” in Arabic on their chests. All the bodies found bore signs of torture, and were found fixed to poles when they were killed. The Iraqi army source also said two of the men found dead were wearing diapers and women’s lingerie.

Two gay men were killed in Baghdad’s Sadr City slum, and police confirmed they found the bodies of four more men, all killed during a 10-day period after an unknown Shiite militia group urged a crackdown on homosexuals in the country. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs believes as many as 30 people have been killed during the last three months because they were — or were perceived to be — gay. In a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the human rights group Amnesty International called for “urgent and concerted action” to end the violence against the gay community, the group reported on its Web site.

Two gay men were found elsewhere in Sadr City, alive but bearing the scars of severe torture. They were beaten, their chests showed signs of cigarette burns, and when police found them they were rushed to the hospital. They had been sodomized with iron bars, sources said. Other men said they had had their chests slashed and their nipples cut off.

…Many young men who might have cut their hair short and grown beards when religious gangs controlled much of Iraq now dress in a more Western style as government forces take back control.

Some of those men have now reportedly been accused of being gay by Asaieb al-Haq. In the last 10 days in Sadr City, witnesses said at least five coffee shops, which are popular with Iraqi gays, were set on fire.

Diversity in the SCOTUS

Alan Dershowitz, writing at TNR’s The Plank, echoes my  own opinions on the significance of the Sotomayor’s pick to national racial dynamics, probably with greater economy than I could muster myself:

The fact that she is the second justice of Spanish heritage (Benjamin Cardozo was the first) and the first Latina is also significant, as is the fact that there will now be six Catholics and two Jews on the High Court. This leaves the largest group of Americans–Protestants–represented by only one octogenarian (Stevens).

If we wanted a court that truly represented our diverse nation, it would have to be as large as Congress. Wait! That’s precisely why we have a large Congress based on districts. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, is tiny–nine justices in all. That doesn’t leave room for much in the way of diversity, or representatives.

We used to have a “Jewish seat,” a “Catholic seat,” a “Black seat,” and a “woman’s seat.” But what about Asians? Moreover, there are different kinds of Asians. Chinese Americans have little in common with Japanese Americans, though they do share a long history of enmity and distrust. It would be as if there were “a Semitic seat,” and the President had to decide who best to fill it with: a Hebrew semite or an Arab semite?

So enough with diversity and representatives on the Supreme Court. No one should be excluded because of race, gender, ethnicity, or other invidious factors, as too many groups were for too many years. But nor should anyone be selected based on such factors, lest the person see him or herself as “representing” that constituency on the court (as congressmen properly do).

The only bases for selection should be legally relevant criteria of excellence. If those criteria are fairly applied, there will always be a diverse court, especially since the legal profession today has far fewer barriers to success.

By the criteria of excellence, Sotomayor is a very good choice. The fact that she comes from the Bronx is only an added plus.

I don’t know what to think about Sonia Sotomayor

…but at least I admit it.
A warm cookie: Reader Storm's prize for correctly guessing Obama would pick a woman of color for the SCOTUS seat for the sake of picking a woman of color.

(Above:) A warm cookie: Reader Storm's prize for correctly guessing Obama would pick a woman of color for the SCOTUS seat for the sake of picking a woman of color.

Any of you have formed opinions yet on the nomination of the secondLatin American to the SCOTUS? Usually when I say I’m withholding judgment, I really have an opinion, but either one so sloppily constructed I’m too embarrassed to share it, or one too heterodox for me to comfortably explain in an ill-defined discussion. This time, I really don’t have much to say about Sotomayor, except that I disapprove of her (overturned) ruling in the case that would eventually become Ricci v. DeStefano. Tired now. Will have more commentary tomorrow. Maybe.

Also, if appointed, and barring any unforeseen retirements or deaths, Sotomayor will be one of six Roman Catholics sitting on the SCOTUS bench. I have no idea what to do with that datum.

Prop 8 upheld

It’s not like we didn’t see this coming.  The question of “How, exactly, a court was supposed to find the constitution it is meant to interpret invalid in of itself?” was answered “It isn’t,” and probably for the best. If Facebook status updates are any indication, many LGBTple and their allies are taking the loss in stride, respecting the rule of law and democratic process, but understandably frustrated.  

What the decision means:

i.) Ellen’s and George Takei’s respective marriages–to say nothing of those of the other 18,000 same-sex couples to take advantage of the state’s brief moments of marriage equality–stand. The ammendment only precludes the possibility of new marriages in CA, although 

ii.) gay couples are still privy to the rights proffered by a state civil union, which cover many, but not all of the benefits of matrimony. Of course, and perhaps most importantly, they aren’t called “marriages.”