Saturday, June 17, 2006

"I'm just a shrimper whose gonna stop eatin' to stop the war!"

So says Diane Wilson-- shrimper, peace & labor activist, and experienced faster-- in an interview with Medea Benjamin. Both women are co-founders of CODEPINK whose own efforts, as well as those of their supporters, will be the focus and political center of a fast scheduled to begin on July 4th, and continue until September 21st, International Peace Day. If by then, there is not a satisfactory plan in place to end the war, they will up the ante...
An excerpt, three questions from the interview:

Why don't you use other tactics, tactics that aren't
potentially damaging to your health?

We do. We've been marching, lobbying, getting arrested. I just did 3 months in jail for hanging a banner-120 days and $2,000 fine. We did a 4-month vigil in front of the White House. But it hasn't stopped the war, so we have to go further. We have to reach down into our souls. And during the fast, we're going to work with other campaigns-Voters for Peace, Cities for Peace, Declaration of Peace-and ask people to join these efforts.

The Declaration of Peace says that if there is not a satisfactory exit plan by September 21, International Peace Day, we'll engage in massive civil disobedience around the country to end the war.

How does the fast fit into this?

We will be encouraging people to commit acts of civil disobedience around the country that week. Fasting, engaging in civil disobedience, these are all "unreasonable" actions to ramp up the anti-war momentum. We've been too well behaved. I always say, "Reasonable women adapt to the world. Unreasonable women make the world adapt to them." It's well past the time to be unreasonable.

Will the fast really accomplish anything? Do you really think George Bush is going to bring the troops home because some people are refusing to eat?

I've seen throughout history how people have used hunger strikes. Gandhi won independence for India without firing a shot. The suffragists did a hunger strike to win the vote. Mitch Schneider fasted to call attention to the homeless. People in Belfast fasted till death to try to get the British out of Ireland.

Some fasts are successful, others aren't. You never know. There's certainly no guarantee of success. But I damn sure know that if we don't do anything, nothing will change. And I damn sure know that it's a time for action, not navel-gazing.

When you fish, you have to use your instincts. That's what the sea teaches you. I've learned to trust my instincts, my gut feelings, and my gut tells me that with this fast, we can create the space for change to happen. I don't know exactly what that will be. But I know that boldness can be magical. I believe that we can create miracles when we put the intent out there. And I'm willing to stake my life on it!
~*~ *~ *~

My own gut reaction is that such an action could have a huge impact... if publicized enough that GWB actually hears of it, and if enough people participate in it and/or support it. That doesn't mean that we will necessarily hear about the impact it has on Bush's psyche, but it will be there.

What makes me so sure? Even though we don't usually discuss astrology at this site, in this case it seems highly relevant, given that Bush's birthday, July 6, is just two days after the fast is scheduled to begin. What that means metaphysically is that the fast will start just two days before the Sun returns to the same place it was in the cosmos when Bush was born. A birthday is a sensitive cosmic event for each of us, essentially a personal New Year. His will be pre-empted by protestors fasting for Peace.

However, in Bush's case, there are many more factors at play. Cancer Sun Sign people often have a great fondness for food and drink. It is both security and a comfort for them, as well as nourishment. The very idea of someone refusing to eat is shocking... unless it is to manipulate someone else or to punish one's self, and perhaps these are the same. Whether young George ever manipulated his parents by refusing food, I have no idea, but his natal chart has three planets in his 3rd house-- the sector that includes siblings, early schooling & communication-- squaring his Sun in the 12th house.

The Square is considered a hard aspect, and, in fact, often requires obstacles, in order for the planets' energies to be made manifest. Astrologers often note that Bush's Cancer Sun is in the 12th house, and that its energy is not easily expressed; yet, others interpret this placement as someone who requires much private time. However, Bush's 3rd house with its stellium of three planets is very busy, and because it is ruled by Libra, a sign that constantly seeks to find balance and keep the peace, could easily create a lot of tension for him. Ironic, I know, but didn't I say that it wouldn't be easy for him? Actually, though, he has had, at least until the the second term of his presidency, a reputation (deserved or not) for communicating well with others. More likely, though, that had somethng to do with the natures of those 3rd house "planets:" Jupiter, Moon, and Chiron.

Jupiter here could help or hinder. My own observation is that a person's Jupiter placement often reveals an area where they tend to be overly generous, perhaps in a way that serves neither party in the long run. Yet, Jupiter is most often considered a beneficent body, and for Bush it might be the reason he has been able to connect so well with the public, which is also represented by the Moon.

The Moon, which is the key ruler of Bush's 12th house Cancer Sun is not especially helpful to him here, personally, simply because it is square to the Sun, an aspect that often represents parental conflict. Yet, it does bode well for communicating with both siblings and the public.

Chiron, more properly referred to as an asteroid, is the symbol of the wounded healer, and shows up for each of us in an area of our birth chart that represents a type of very deep wound, whether psychic or karmic. And... Bush did lose a younger sister to leukemia when they were both very young children. By all accounts he never really had an opportunity to deal with the grief, and, in fact, was actively discouraged by his parents from doing so. Over time, there can become a kind of strength in Chiron's placement, but it requires going through things, not around them.

What does it mean to Bush that this cluster of planets can represent the source of unresolved personal grief and yet provide him with the means to reach beyond his family? It sounds exceedingly painful to me, especially if you consider the rigidity of his personal schedule... early riser, vigorous daily exercise, and early to bed.

What will it mean to Bush to witness ordinary people, not merely letting go of their own lifes' structures, but literally starving themselves, out of a deep frustration with his unwillingness to listen to them? That people will be using such graphic means to communicate their grief so publicly-- remember, he is very private-- will truly shock him. Unlike the recent suicides at Guantanamo, a well-publicized fast or hunger strike by a critical mass of American citizens truly will be an act of asymmetric force.

We can only hope that the story reaches him.

More Shrillness from the Right

Two Words: Michelle Malkin

She makes Ann Coulter look reasoned and clear headed. And she misses the point by an even greater margin than her idol.


Humorous Women: Ann Coulter

Humour and Ann Coulter, in the same topic? Oh yes, after watching her on Jay Leno the other night, I hopped over to her website and found things that were actually laugh out loud funny.

Honestly, I had hopes of seeing some fur fly on Leno, what with George Carlin being the other guest that night. But both Leno and Carlin failed us ... maybe. Or maybe they were smart enough to just let her sink her own ship. Carlin's certainly smart enough for that. And he was certainly gracious as he sat next to her and only raised his eyebrows at some of her more "interesting" comments.

Leno fumbled along for a lot of the interview, she is quick-witted and direct, that's for certain. From what I gather, she was also very polite because she actually waited for him to finish his thought before speaking. One of Leno's more fumbling ... "I mean ... I've found .... catch more flies .... you can catch more flies with honey ..." questions was, "In your book, you call the 4 women 'broads,' why?"

Coulter's quick response was, "Well men have been calling women broads for years." As if that made it all right and explained everything.

Here are some of the things on her website (I am not posting a link to it here) that made me laugh so hard I startled some of the grammar bugs right out of the latest book I am working on at Spec Ops:
... let's pause for a moment to observe that two facts are now universally accepted: Liberals are godless and Hillary's husband is a rapist.

My book makes a stark assertion: Liberalism is a godless religion. Hello! Anyone there? I've leapt beyond calling you traitors and am now calling you GODLESS. Apparently, everybody's cool with that. The fact that liberals are godless is not even a controversial point anymore.
She is really baffled by the fact we liberals are concentrating on "one chapter" in her book about the New Jersey widows and aren't completely outraged that she is calling us godless. She apparently thinks liberals should be jumping up and down and wreaking havoc around her head because of this statement. She also thinks liberalism is a religion, and it is what we worship. How can it be both a religion and the god?

Oh and the Bill Clinton is a rapist thing? There is a woman named Juanita Broaddrick who claims she was raped by then Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton in 1978 but no one has been able to come up with enough evidence or corroboration to prove or disprove this claim. Yet Coulter continues to call him a rapist. (Note: Do I think Clinton has a problem with his zipper? Without a doubt. Do I think he's a rapist? Not really, but that's an opinion not proven fact.)

When I first heard about Coulter's latest diatribe, I advocated a shunning. Part of me thinks we still need to turn our backs on her but another part of me thinks we need to keep talking and writing about her and her ilk, so we can "expose" a more rational approach to life.

But that's just me, a godless liberal broad.

She Couldn't Help Herself!

Darn those bookstore coupons and their alluring offers ... I keep telling Stephanie (of Blither, Blather, Bloviate and the somewhat stale Breathing History) she could just go to the library but she refuses to heed my wisdom. Something I am quite used to at this point but then, good friends are difficult to come by and she doesn't think I need to be shuffled off to the loony bin whenever I talk about work and that counts for quite a lot.

Anyway, the bookstore. There she was, coupon in hand, in a large chain bookstore promising to come out with one, and only one, book. "Hah!" I told her, as she continued to not listen to me. 6 books later ....

Her choices were not unpredictable and fell right in line with her interests and her studies, and right into what we discuss here at Lyssa Strada.
  • Born of a Woman - A Bishop Rethinks the Virgin Birth and the Treatment of Women by a Male-Dominated Church by John Shelby Spong
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • Iran Awakening - A Memoir of Revolution and Hope by Shirin Ebadi (one of Stephanie's heroes)
  • Three Cups of Tea - One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations ... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (this one had a picture of 3 muslim girls reading, so of course she had to pick it up and see what it was about).
I am sure there will be much dialogue about these books as the summer goes on.
(The other 2 books were a collection of Annie Proulx's short stories and a biography of Augustine.)


(By The Dromedary Syndicate) Author, commentator, syndicated columnist, one time lobbyist litigator, and all-round Queen Bitch Ann Coulter can add another name to her many titles—Wife. An unnamed source close to the action has revealed the revered-by-the-rabid-right and the lassie-lefties-love-to-hate 55-year-old fascistanista and iconic infotainment artist wed celebrity ex-murder suspect O.J. Simpson in an unnoticed ceremony at a drive-thru chapel in Las Vegas, while on a drunken spree celebrating the success d’estime of her new book, Godless. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his escort of the evening, along for the ride in the rented mirror-windowed black SUV, served as best man and bridesmaid.

"I've fallen in love with a very warm, gentle, understanding and focused person," said the clown princess of rightthinkery of Simpson, who she reportedly met the night of the wedding. "It was love at first sight. A new experience, a new day for me, ebony and ivory—I couldn't be happier!"

Friday, June 16, 2006

defending the Enlightenment...

Like Sara, I, too, am a fan of Digby and rarely disagree with him. I actually missed the post that she is writing about here, but was fascinated by her experience, and thought other Lyssa Strada readers would be, too. - Karen M.

"We progressives have to honestly deal with al-Qaeda, and what it represents. Humor and Cynicism don't do it."

Contra Digby By Sara, cross-posted from The Next Hurrah

Most of the time, I don't disagree or question much of what Digby posts, but today I got bothered by the tendency to deal with the challenge presented by Jihadist Islam with a mix of Cynicism and Humor. I don't think that is helpful, progressive, or enlightening. Much as I am a critic of things "western" or "American" -- I also am determined to defend the Enlightenment, and one really cannot do that without becoming anti-Jihadist. My point in earlier posts here [at The Next Hurrah] defending the something like 80% Majority in Denmark who believed Danes had rights to draw cartoons about any damn thing they wanted to draw about were essentially defenses of enlightenment rights. And we should know that the upshot of the Cartoons matter was 44 dead protesters, lots of cheese unsold, and lots of Danish Flags burned -- and not much more. But it was about much more.

The essential matter is the extension of Sharia Law to Muslim populations in Europe -- and beyond that, into the US by indirection. And beyond that -- it is about demands that such law be considered legitimate or valid.

Jihad has two meanings -- one, the understood notion of human perfectability attained through self examination and criticism, but the other, and the one that should concern us, is the idea that man can judge man (or know the mind of God) and kill in the name of perfection. That's what we saw on 9-11, and what many we encounter as belief. The first fits well into Enlightenment, the second, is way outside that idea set.

What bothers me about Digby's post is non-recognition of reality. We progressives have to honestly deal with al-Qaeda, and what it represents. Humor and Cynicism don't do it.

Let me be concrete. Back at the break between 1984 and 85 I was staying at Dean's Hotel in Peshwar Pakistan, between two archeological tours. Having spent 13 years taking care of parents, and having a small inheritance, I decided to spent part on a 3 month tour (or tours) in India and Pakistan. In the early 60's, (Kennedy Days) I had done some administrative stuff with the first Peace Corps in Pakistan, and in the 80's what I discovered (on site visit) was that our schools built with AID funds and staffed by Peace Corps had been turned into gun factories. Under Zia, our teachers run through an AID Funded teacher training academy in the 60's and 70's, could only do private tuition. They were political out's -- And they had to be very careful if they wanted to keep alive. But these are the guys who showed me the buildings which had become gun factories run by the Imams.

Between Archeological tours, I stayed at Dean's Hotel in Peshwar, and attended to interests from there. I had made early connections with two nurses who were funded by the World Council of Churches, WCC -- and were running a huge DOT (Directly observed Treatment) program for women and kids with TB in the Refugee camps around Peshwar. What I wanted was to observe, and I got much more. About a third of the women in the camps had TB, as did many kids, and what was on offer was 23 hundred calories and the proper drugs. But shortly after I observed, the TB Lab and X-Ray van was blown to kingdom come by Afghani Arabs. WCC did not replace.

When I was at Dean's Hotel in Peshwar in very early 1985 I came to understand that Doris Lessing, along with about a dozen Afghani women who had re-located to London and who were trying to found a magazine for refugee women, were also at the hotel. Now someone my age knows the "Golden Notebooks" and the rest of Lessing's importance, so an invite to tea with her and her women was something to be attended. Actually the Afghani women were mostly Doctors, who had managed re-training in GB and were not part of the National Health Service -- in Islamic Countries women are medically trained only to deal with women. If a woman has a breech birth and only a male MD is available, she dies most times. Anyhow the women with Doris Lessing had all been trained to British Standard, and that is not discriminatory.

It was the statements of these women who introduced me to what ultimately became al-Qaeda. They described how the Arabs were taking over the camps and defining the culture. They described how harsh it was. They outlined the religious-political motivation. Eventually Lessing wrote about it lightly in her book, "The Wind Takes Away Our Words" and while she notes, she says little. The point is that she said something about it in the 1980's, and in tune with the women she took to Pakistan and the camps -- supposedly refugees from the Soviets she was more than perceptive than the CIA -- but maybe somewhat more so.

[Originally posted at The Next Hurrah; click on the first link if you would like to read the comments.]

UPDATE: A passionate thread of comments/letters at Salon discusses, among other things, the nature of Islam.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Women to be Admired: Mary Cheney

On the surface, there only seems reason to pity Mary Cheney. She is the lesbian daughter of parents who do not support gay marriage and will only say that the states should decide if gay marriage is legal. Her father is one of the most reviled men in US politics, possibly 2nd only to Karl Rove. Mary Cheney's life became instantly public and overly-scrutinized the second she became a campaign aide for her father's re-election as Vice President. People wondered who she really was and why was she so willing to stand by her father and his boss, when they were seemed to be against people like her.

This week, Cheney spoke up on NPR's Fresh Air in an interview with Terry Gross. Mary Cheney is on a book tour in support of her memoir, Now It's My Turn.

These are the points she made in her interview that made me understand and come to admire her:
  1. Yes, she's a lesbian. Her parents love her very much and she, them

  2. As far as she is concerned, she and her partner, Heather, are married and have been for 14 years now. They own property together and plan on spending the rest of their lives together.

  3. She does believe that a constitutional amendment for marriage would incorporate discrimination into law of the land and pointed out that other amendments have expanded the rights of others, not restricted them.

  4. The 2004 election was not a one-issue election, it was about more than gay marriage (although interviewer Terry Gross kept trying to bring the conversation back to the topic of "family values election.") and, in Cheney's mind, her dad and President Bush were the best candidates to protect the country.

  5. She did not appreciate the ham fisted efforts of John Kerry and John Edwards of trying to make her the poster child for gay rights in their campaign.

  6. But mostly, I admire Mary Cheney because:

  7. She is forthright and knows who she is and what is important to her (as well as who) and stands up for that. She disagrees with her famous Republican parents (as do all children), but she does it lovingly.

Agree with her about any number of things or not, she deserves respect for her willingness to stand up for her beliefs and loving her family with a devotion that more families could use.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Earth must have stopped, reversed itself, and begun to spin backwards...

- COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A proposal to ban abortion in Ohio under any circumstance is an outrageous attack on women, their families and their doctors, opponents said Tuesday.

Opponents criticized the bill, which is not expected to pass, from the Statehouse steps, ahead of a hearing Tuesday that was expected to draw an overflowing crowd.

The proposal would go further than a South Dakota abortion ban - considered the most restrictive in the United States - by outlawing abortions even when a woman's life is in danger. Like the South Dakota ban, the Ohio proposal would make no exceptions for rape.

The bill would also make it a felony to transport a woman to another state for an abortion. [There's more... just click on the link above.]

Tell me why...

when the world is full of so many thirsty & hungry children whose prospects continue to dwindle in no small part because of our own over-consumption,

when women all over the world need help in providing for the children they already have,

when women in Iran are beaten in public by police, merely for demanding the natural rights due any citizen,

when girls and women throughout the middle east and in Afghanistan are still being denied free and secure access to education,

when most reputable scientists agree that within a matter of decades we may no longer be able to reverse our climactic crisis,

when we already have one of the lowest rates of infant mortality among first world nations,

....why would those who call themselves "Christian" possibly think that their highest priority should be to initiate legislative stirrups and restraints for women, in order to force them to have more children than is probably good for them or for anyone else?

I really don't even approve of utilitarian arguments, in general, but I still have to wonder... how can this particular political stance reconcile itself with Christian values, when all of the above circumstances and many more, could rightfully be claiming their spiritual attention?


Ironically, childbirth (unlike abortion) carries many risks to women's health, some of which might last for the rest of her lifetime. Sex, on the other hand, has been shown to provide many health benefits for both women and men, as long as one avoids contracting any STDs (and, in some cases, pregnancy).

Wouldn't common sense dictate that both contraceptive and prophylactic precautions should be a much higher public health priority than forced childbirth, especially when most families' current economic conditions require two incomes just to keep everything afloat?

Haven't these folks considered that burning all of those extra calories might be a good thing, given that we also have a weight crisis in this country? Or is that still up for debate, too, along with global warming? And that just maybe if we all lost some weight, it would ease up on the pressure we put on the earth's land masses? Maybe they're really just concerned about the effects that even more unbridled sex might have on the climate. You know... all that additional CO2...

Don't be deluded into thinking that eliminating abortion is their ultimate goal. It ain't. They also plan to go after his condoms and your pills, and anything else that you and he might use to prevent a blind date between any one of his sperm and your eggs. Consenting or not.

[This post was not intended to exclude anyone who might prefer a same-sex partner, but merely to address the #4%@*%! idiocy of the right-wing's current pregnancy politics.]

[photo source]

but one man & many women is okay because... ?

Considering all of the hoopla about defending marriage from the vagaries of two consenting, albeit same-sex, adults, one wonders why there is not more steam gathering about another deviation from the one man-one woman convention delivered unto us by the ReligiousRighteous...

Why is there not a comparable story in either the or the to this BBC story about Iranian women being beaten for their activism? In fact, they were being beaten so badly that men on the street were complaining about it.

Perhaps the powers-who-be, the ones who decide what is news, don't want to touch that one, because then they'd have to do a story on our own version of that scenario.

Granted, it's already being covered, tho' fictionally, on HBO, but still... perhaps it nips just a little too closely at the heels of Bush's base?

Instead, there was a story in the Washington Post on Saudi women defending their preference for wearing a veil, and their fear that our liberal, western ways might erode their own brand of conservatism.

Note that this story does help to frame our administration's no doubt upcoming shift of the goal posts on women's rights in the middle east.

Update: There is hope in need of nurturing and support... in another story from last fall and also from the BBC, in which "Islam feminists urge gender jihad." At the end of the article, the BBC includes comments & letters from viewers/readers/listeners all over the world.

[Big Love family photos from HBO]