Archive for July 13, 2007

Hasso Hering, Please Retire. Now.

July 13, 2007

He’s at it again – I assume he knows he’s being completely intellectually dishonest, but at this point I’m wondering if he think it’s OK because he’s labeling it “persuasive.” You know, because it’s an editorial and all.

Hey, at least he signs them.

Anyway, this latest affront to the intelligence, of, well, everyone, is on the topic of the former Surgeon General. Hering is so busy complaining that the person in question, Dr. Richard Carmona, can’t possible be bullied (which is so obviously bullshit) that he conveniently omits a couple of key facts. First, Hering:

What’s the substance here? He apparently wanted to promote embryonic stem cell research, but there are profound ethical issues that keep the president from backing this idea. The doctor also disagreed with the policy of discouraging unwanted teen pregnancies by urging teenagers not to have sex. This is a policy that may not work all that well, but it doesn’t work any better if it’s accompanied by a wink that says: “Just be careful.”

The doctor claims that the administration has been stifling science. Science has little to do with the issues he cited. Instead, they involve questions, in one case, of how far man should interfere with the creation of human life, and in the other whether the government should issue mixed messages on teenage sex.

Carmona was quoted: “The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation — not the doctor of a political party.”

Next, an excerpt from the New York Times story on what Carmona actually told the committee during the hearing:

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.

Do you see the differences? In case they are not clear enough, let me spell them out for you:

1) The fact that he was ordered to “mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches.” Hey, Hasso, what the fuck? Did you run out of space? It just gets galling when you claim that Carmona was the one who wasn’t clear on the difference between science and politics. It appears that he knows the difference, and he knew when he was being asked to lend his name, and the name of science (which, for the record, doesn’t really need Bush’s help in sullying it any more) to pure partisan politics. Given that Hering undoubtedly read the NYT story, I can only assume he left that bit out because he’s essentially shilling for a political party.

2) “[Carmona] also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.” See the above point. Politics, science, using government resources to prop up one party in a totally illegal fashion, etc. etc.

3) The report on secondhand smoke – Hering manages to omit that entirely, and if he thinks secondhand smoke is still controversial, well, that’s his problem. However, it’s pretty clear that politics trumped science in that case.

Speaking of which, Hering is making a very stupid – and false – equivalence here, one that plenty of Republican hacks are very good at making. However, since Hering is a newspaper editor, not a Republican Party operative, it’s a little disappointing to see him pull this trick. See, what’s he’s doing is merely noting the political controversy over the political policies surrounding the issues he mentions, especially abstinence (a word, by the way, that Hering manages to avoid using – I wonder why?). The trick is that he’s implying the two sides of the issue are equally supported by science, which is completely and utterly not true.

Abstinence-only education does. not. work. It’s an ideological load of crap that comes straight outta patriarchy, one that’s putting millions of people at risk here in the U.S. and causing the deaths of thousands more in Africa. (Don’t believe me? Look up what’s happening with the spread of AIDS now that condoms aren’t being promoted due to U.S. policy. Then we’ll talk.)

The statistics, and the science, support comprehensive sex education. But, as Hering notes, we can’t have the Bush Administration sending “mixed messages,” now can we? That wouldn’t be helpful, especially when one side is full of misognyistic crap and one side is backed by science, logic, and reason. Instead, we get this weak-ass, dishonest defense of the administration’s treatment of the former Surgeon General. Hering has got to know better – I wonder why he spends all this time shilling for the Republicans?

Oh, and in case you thought I was done, I’m not. Hering ends his editorial with this line: “The doctor of the nation? No thanks. If the nation needs treatment, a national doctor is the last thing it needs.”

It’s predicated on something stupid Carmona said, that he is the doctor of the nation. In some ways, Hasso is right, but it glosses over the actual duties of the Surgeon General:

The Surgeon General functions under the direction of the Assistant Secretary for Health and operationally heads the 6,000-member Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service, a cadre of health professionals who are on call 24 hours a day, and can be dispatched by the Secretary of HHS or the Assistant Secretary for Health in the event of a public health emergency.

The Surgeon General also has many informal duties, such as educating the American public about health issues and advocating healthy lifestyle choices.

Yup. That position is obviously useless, unless you don’t believe in public health at all. It’s amazing how bitter Hering can sound when he tries to defend the indefensible.


Sounds Like Another Excuse to Attack Feminism To Me

July 13, 2007

Apparently I’m on a mission to out bad upcoming TV shows. Via Feministing, a new Fox show called When Women Ruled the World.

Full stop.

Feminism isn’t about women ruling the world. Well, most feminism, anyway. There are a few strands….but I digress. Let me repeat that:


From the Fox website:

The unscripted series will reveal how women and men react in a world where women are in charge and men are subservient, and each gender’s ability to adapt to a new social order will be put to the test.

Is that an admission we live in a patriarchy? It sure sounds like it to me. Quick – some body tell Fox News! It’s true – hordes of old white guys actually does count as a society where men are in charge, no matter how much they complain!

Sorry about that. It’s early, and I’m tired and cranky. No coffee yet.

Anyway, I get the feeling this is all a giant platform from which to bash women. Why would I say that? Well, here’s another excerpt from the Fox site:

How will the men react? How will the women treat the men? Can women effectively rule society? [emphasis mine]

And since Fox will undoubtedly pick a bunch of folks for whom it will be impossible to get along – it wouldn’t really be a show if it worked, now would it? – the answer will inevitably be no.

UPDATE: A comment on the show from Echidne of the Snakes:

Feminists are all about equality, not about reversing the power relationships. But Fox is all about male dominance, and this show is intended to prop that up.

I’m the polite blogger, yanno. Well, I’ve just had my fill about politeness today. Fuck those Fox assholes. Fuck them for making fun of the real injustices and troubles the majority of women have to endure in this world. Fuck them for making it into a game to prop up their own petty feelings of threatened masculinity. Fuck them for their disgusting slimy bias and their silly little commercial brains. Fuck them for having the empathy of a toe cheese.

And most of all, fuck them to the deepest hell for suggesting that the only alternative to the current system is some perverse upside version of more of the same.

I think she captures how I feel pretty well.

CBS Sinks to a New Low

July 13, 2007

I just saw an ad on television for a new show called Kid Nation.

After the ad ended, I found myself saying “no no no no no no” over and over while shaking my head in disbelief. Even Wendy seemed shocked by what we had just seen, and she has a much higher tolerance for bad television.

It turns out the premise of Kid Nation is none other than Lord of the Flies: Put a bunch of kids together in a place with no adults and see what happens. In this case, they are putting the children in an abandoned town named Bonanza in New Mexico.

The TV trailer had all the things you would expect in that situation: Kids crying, yelling at each other, trying to do ‘adult’ things like (apparently) trying to catch pigs that happened to be larger than they were.

The major difference between Kid Nation and Lord of the Flies?


Let’s ponder this for a second: These kids – who are aged 8-15 – cannot give informed consent in this case. They are not equipped with the mental, intellectual, or emotional tools that would allow them to handle this situations they will be placed in.

Furthermore, what the fuck is wrong with the parents of these children? Especially those parents with younger children?

Furthermore, how is this even legal? Not that legality should be the minimum standard here – given the nature of the show, I am holding this to a higher moral and ethical standard.

Browsing around for some information, I found a Wikipedia entry on Kid Nation. It states that the children are on the Imus Ranch, which according to its Wikipedia entry, houses children with cancer and other serious illnesses. It is not clear if the children of Kid Nation are ill in any fashion or not. I don’t consider any of that to count as mediating information.

Finally, there is the CBS website for the show, which contains almost no information other than the trailer.

I did not make it through the trailer. I had to stop when they had a kid get up in front of everyone else and say something to the effect of “we have to do this to prove to adults that we can get stuff done and organize a society.” It was just too scripted to be believable.

Between Kid Nation and Aliens in America, I’m feeling less generous than ever towards the television industry. More on this lousy trend later. I hope the outcry is tremendous and CBS decides never to make another season again.

Burnout Fast Approaching

July 13, 2007

Will someone please a) show this to anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to sign up for the military; b) run this in papers and magazines in America that aren’t The Nation; c) impeach the fuckers?

“I’ll tell you the point where I really turned… [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little two-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs and she has a bullet through her leg… An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me… like asking me why. You know, ‘Why do I have a bullet in my leg?’… I was just like, ‘This is, this is it. This is ridiculous’.”

Specialist Michael Harmon, 24, of Brooklyn, 167th Armour Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. In Al-Rashidiya on 13-month tour beginning in April 2003″

I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, ‘A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi… You know, so what?’… [Only when we got home] in… meeting other veterans, it seems like the guilt really takes place, takes root, then.”

Specialist Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry. In Baquba for a year beginning February 2004

“The frustration that resulted from our inability to get back at those who were attacking us led to tactics that seemed designed simply to punish the local population…”

Sergeant Camilo Mejía, 31, from Miami, National Guardsman, 1-124 Infantry Battalion, 53rd Infantry Brigade. Six-month tour beginning April 2003

“A lot of guys really supported that whole concept that if they don’t speak English and they have darker skin, they’re not as human as us, so we can do what we want.” [emphasis mine]

Specialist Josh Middleton, 23, of New York City, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division. Four-month tour in Baghdad and Mosul beginning December 2004

“I felt like there was this enormous reduction in my compassion for people. The only thing that wound up mattering is myself and the guys that I was with, and everybody else be damned.” [emphasis mine]

Sergeant Ben Flanders, 28, National Guardsman from Concord, New Hampshire, 172nd Mountain Infantry. In Balad for 11 months beginning March 2004

This is going to affect the world for a very, very long time.

UPDATE: So, an occupation like this results in the dehumanization of the occupied, which in this case leads to massive amounts of racism, all while creating a bunch of sociopaths who can’t empathize with the people around them because the people around them are civilians – an effect that persists once they get back to the US. Just sayin’.

Why I Don’t Read Daily Kos

July 13, 2007

Besides not having the time to do it properly – i.e. read diaries all day long – it seems like it’s becoming more and more of a haven for groupthink:

I can’t post here anymore because my potential run for Congress is not on the Democratic ticket.

I have been deeply grateful for all of your support over the years. Your love and kindness helped me through lots of sleepless nights at Camp Casey ’05.

If Speaker Pelosi does her constitutionally mandated duty and I don’t run, then I can come back and post.

I know a lot of you are hostile towards my candidacy. Please understand that I am doing it for your children and grandchildren(and my surviving ones.)

Love always,
Cindy [Sheehan]

UPDATE: Formatting fixed.