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Friday, December 22, 2006

The Price of Prudery 

Because they're too prudish to give an accurate account, the NPR All Things Considered reporting on the decision to drop the first-degree rape charges in the Duke case is creating a very misleading impression. They're saying things like that the plaintiff is now saying she's "unsure of some details" of what happened, which is why the rape charge was dropped. Naturally, the defendants' attorney was jumping all over this to say how unreliable she was and how all of the charges should be dropped. But why is she unsure? Well, because
the accuser told an investigator Thursday that she is no longer certain whether she was penetrated vaginally with the men's penises
... because she was penetrated from behind while facing the floor and could not be sure whether the guys were using penises or something else to penetrate her, as was reported in an earlier version of this story.

So, because NPR won't say penis, or won't talk about how and with what she might have been penetrated and the very good reason she might not know what the guys were using, they make it sound as if she's totally unreliable. Thanks guys.

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Into The Heart of Darkness 

Boston, Massachusetts, that is.

Light to no posting until after the New Year, when we promise, promise to return recharged....

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Algorrhythmia 

Sometimes I feel a little stiff, so a few years ago I bought the Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Stretching.

I just got an email from Amazon that people who bought that book "have also ordered" The Complete Idiot's Guide to Exotic and Pole Dancing Illustrated.

Amazon needs to work on its algorithm.

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Potemkin Troops 

The AP reports that, even though military commanders are "worried" about a so-called troop "surge" in Iraq, new Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with "several soldiers ... at Camp Victory" in Iraq who "said extra forces would help". Or, as summarized by AP's headline writer, who dropped the "several": "Troops-to-Gates: Extra forces would help".

Well, that could affect the debate, couldn't it?

If it was real.

Unfortunately, the AP fails to remind its readers of its own reporting about how the Bush administration choreographs exchanges with the troops to support its political agenda (and, though they won't yet admit it, "surging" does seem to be on their agenda*). From the AP only fourteen months ago: "It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday’s vote on a new Iraqi constitution."

Now, maybe they just randomly selected troops to meet with Gates. And maybe those randomly selected troops happened to genuinely believe what is effectively Bush's surge/"As Iraqis Stand Up, We Will Stand Down" rhetoric ("I really think we need more troops here. With more presence on the ground, more troops might hold them off long enough to where we can get the Iraqi Army trained up."). And maybe those randomly selected, unscripted troops are really representative of the troops as a whole. And maybe the commanders are just out-of-touch and have ignored their own troops.

I'm really not naive enough to believe all that. But, if it were all true, I would have to wonder whether those troops in Iraq who want a surge in Iraq realize that the surge is them? As Colin Powell explained, "There are really no additional troops. All we would be doing is keeping some of the troops who were there there longer and escalating or accelerating the arrival of other troops."

*Indeed, this apparently scripted event is itself evidence that they are planning on coming out for the "surge".

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Seriously, Is Nancy Keenan Even Pro-Choice? 

Great pieces by Amanda [not Marcotte] and Jane on NARAL's terrible decision not to oppose Senator Sam Brownback's anti-choice "Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act".

Given NARAL's disastrous record under Keenan, I began to wonder: What were they thinking when they hired her? What was her record in support of abortion rights before coming to NARAL?

You won't find an answer at her NARAL webpage. It contains multiple claims designed to strengthen her conservative credentials, but unless I missed something there is only a single mention of anything she did relating to abortion before coming to NARAL: "Nancy showed the force of her pro-choice commitment and the strength of her personal leadership when she stood up to her Catholic Bishop in the face of excommunication."

That's pretty thin on its face, but Keenan is not telling the whole story. Here's what happened:
For many public officials, personal conviction that abortion is wrong does not extend to public responsibility. "As a Catholic, I accept the teaching of my church on abortion. That is my personal religious belief . . . As a public official, there is no question in my mind that depriving women of the right to follow their conscience is the same as imposing religious beliefs," Montana's school superintendent, Nancy Keenan, said in a Dec. 5 letter when questioned by her bishop.
James L. Franklin, "As Catholics mark the bicentennial of the church hierarchy
in the United States, disputes over the abortion issue threaten the dreams
of the church's first American bishop", Boston Globe, Jan. 1, 1990, at 13 (emphasis added) (via Nexi$).*

Nancy Keenan's personal religious belief on abortion is the same as the Catholic Church's? I mean, that's fine for a school official in a conservative state. Maybe that's even OK for John Kerry. But in what universe is that OK for the head of NARAL?

A Nexis search did not reveal anything between then and her elevation to the head of NARAL that suggests her position on abortion has changed. In 2000, she received Emily's List's endorsement (and cash) in her failed bid to run for the House of Representatives. But all that shows is that she's willing to use choice to further her career (a practice she has continued by taking the NARAL job), not that she ever did anything to further choice.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that the issue with the Catholic Church arose after she spoke at an abortion rights rally in 1989.

*I have not been able to locate a complete copy of Keenan's letter. Please let me know if anyone knows where one can be found.

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