Thursday, March 27, 2008

Assume the Position

Republicans and conservative Democrats are nearly hysterical about Obama's pastor's righteous indignation because he's "unpatriotic," they say. But Rudy Giuliani employs his dear friend, a former Catholic priest implicated in serial sexual abuses of minors and related cover-ups, and I just don't remember a three-week shriekfest about that, do you? Here's Andrew Sullivan on this boggler:

It also happens that Giuliani has long been more attached to a pastor than even Obama is to Wright. Monsignor Alan Placa married Giuliani to his second wife, Donna Hanover, and is actually employed by Giuliani Associates. Placa has been credibly accused of serial molestation of teenage boys, was in charge of handling molestation accusations in Long Island in the heyday of the church's cover-up of child abuse and was eventually suspended by the church from priestly duties for those reasons. The credible charges were made after the statute of limitations had passed and so no legal recourse was possible. But here's the Associated Press last year:

"There's ample evidence showing that Placa consistently protected predators, shrewdly deceived victims, and covered up horrific clergy sex crimes," said a statement from David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Faux News, Sean Hannity, Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer, and all the rest didn't use this information in quite the same way they're using the Wright issue, did they?

The reason? We're being played. Again. Now correct me if I'm mistaken and none of this is happening, buh-uh-ut:
If the media repeat often enough the equation that if Wright is unpatriotic then so are the Obamas, then guess what? Pretty soon the dimwits who comprise this beloved, evidently doomed country will believe it. And if we are told often enough that they will then reject Hillary in a fit of pique and vote for McBush, guess what. . . .

Assume the position.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Questions They Won't Ask McBush

Because the nation desperately needs three more weeks of the same old same old relative to Jeremiah Wright and Hillary Clinton, the following questions will not be asked of McCain and his answers will not be repeated on endless news cycles for months to come. I'm sure you have other questions that will not be asked or answered. Please advise.

How will "we" (by which I mean us and our children) pay for your war?

Explain how being indebted to China for the cost of this war secures America.

What will "we" (ditto) have to do without here at home in order to pay for your war?

The Shi'ites and Sunnis have been warring for centuries. Why will a delay in our leaving change that?

If we don't give Iraq notice, why on earth should they "step up"? We're doing the dirty work and providing billions in slush funds. Isn't that exactly the wrong incentive?

Are you afraid to stop the war because war profiteering is the only thing driving what's left of this economy?

Do you intend to ask the Department of Justice to conduct a criminal investigation into the fraud and abuse that have cost US taxpayers billions in this war, and to seek compensation? If not, why not? After allm, that fraud dwarfs the cost of earmarks.

What will you do to clean up fraud and waste in the Pentagon, and to seek restoration of overcharges from US corporations?

What was your role in forcing the sale of Navajo tribal lands on Black Mesa to outside coal companies?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pretty Much

About the Bush Administration on the break-ins into private passport files at the Department of State, Katrina, and the Iraq Occupation: "They just don't do well at anticipating or management." (Hillary Mann Leverett, Frm Foreign Service Officer and former Bush Administration employee, on "Countdown with Keith Olberman," MSNBC, March 21, 2008)

Hagee, McCain, and the Media

Why is it that Republicans and their talking head shills always discover the difference between right and wrong just after they've trashed a Democrat but just before they'd have to trash a Republican if they applied the same groundrules?

NOWWWW it's not a good idea to examine a pastor in the context of a politician's reach for the White House. NOWWWWWW, when WHITE Pastor Hagee ought to be under the microscope where other viruses are examined, suddenly it's risky bidness. So says a triumvirate of Right-leaning shills on the Chris Matthews show this afternoon. One is the evangelical who left Bush's employ in disillusionment. The third is a writer for the New York Times, which always puts Democratic bad news above the fold and buries Republican bad news somewhere deep inside. For example, the flap break-ins of State Department passport files doesn't appear on P. 1. in either the Times or the Washington Post today. Nope. It might be dominating TV, but that doesn't mean it's news, right?

Hagee, after all, only insulted gays and lesbians and Catholics and women. No big. McCain won't be hurt by his having sought Hagee's endorsement, never mind the fact that Hagee also believes that the US government ought to hasten Armageddon by bombing the Middle East, and (as Matthews pointed out) McCain thinks bombing Iran is a pop song. Hello?

At a more serious level, the damage has been done to the Democrat, and now God has enlightened Chris and Co. just in time to keep them from repeating the error. McCain is excused from all political consequences of his actively having solicited the endorsement of a verbal batterer and troglodyte. Not just excused. He is actively protected by the same media that has kept Obama on the end of the Rev. Wright skewer for what, going on two weeks? This is so typically Republican, so intellectually and morally bankrupt.

Sally Kern: Verbal Abuse is Violent Assault

Oklahoma Republican legislator Sally Kern was recently given a standing ovation by members of her party (who else?) for malicious, abusive, and false characterizations of gays and lesbians captured recently on YouTube.

For many years, LGBT people have suffered torrents of verbal abuse orchestrated, manufactured, and distributed by far-Right Republican Christianists as part of their war on traditional American constitutional values. That would be equality, liberty, and justice for all.

Kern's comments are typical if considerably milder than many of these rabid propaganda pieces. They include wholly fabricated (made-up) accusations, comparisons, and descriptions of LGBT people that bear no relationship to long-established facts.

It's important for Americans committed to common decency, honesty, integrity in public officials especially, and basic constitutional values to oppose these assaults with everything we've got. It's extremely important for real Christians--those for whom Jesus counts for more than Leviticus--to do so. It's also time for clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and others to take up the cause as well, and to do so in a new way.

Study after study shows that sustained verbal abuse causes significant long-term damage and can be more traumatizing than a severe physical assault. It is an established fact that verbal abuse is violent assault. It's time to treat it accordingly. We can call it "hate speech," which it is, but it might be more effective to call it violent assault and equate it to battery and, when it occurs in the home, to domestic violence and child abuse, which is is.

As anyone knows who has experienced it, verbal abuse, especially of children and teens, has lasting, horrific consequences. Frequently it leads to serious personality disorders. Here's the abstract of just one such study:

"Childhood verbal abuse and risk for personality disorders during adolescence and early adulthood" Comprehensive Psychiatry, Volume 42, Issue 1, January 2001, Pages 16-23. Jeffrey G. Johnson, Patricia Cohen, Elizabeth M. Smailes, Andrew E. Skodol, Jocelyn Brown ....

Abstract: Data from a community-based longitudinal study were used to investigate whether childhood verbal abuse increases risk for personality disorders (PDs) during adolescence and early adulthood. Psychiatric and psychosocial interviews were administered to a representative community sample of 793 mothers and their offspring from two New York State counties in 1975, 1983, 1985 to 1986, and 1991 to 1993, when the mean ages of the offspring were 5, 14, 16, and 22 years, respectively. Data regarding childhood abuse and neglect were obtained from the psychosocial interviews and from official New York State records. Offspring who experienced maternal verbal abuse during childhood were more than three times as likely as those who did not experience verbal abuse to have borderline, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, and paranoid PDs during adolescence or early adulthood. These associations remained significant after offspring temperament, childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, physical punishment during childhood, parental education, parental psychopathology, and co-occurring psychiatric disorders were controlled statistically. In addition, youths who experienced childhood verbal abuse had elevated borderline, narcissistic, paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal PD symptom levels during adolescence and early adulthood after the covariates were accounted for. These findings suggest that childhood verbal abuse may contribute to the development of some types of PDs, independent of offspring temperament, childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, physical punishment during childhood, parental education, parental psychopathology, and co-occurring psychiatric disorders.

People who suffer sustained verbal abuse -- and the Republican Christianist anti-gay campaign of the last 30 years is nothing if not sustained verbal abuse -- often experience such low self esteem that they attempt suicide. The rate of suicide among LGBT teens has been estimated to be 3 times as high as that among their straight counterparts, and that's relatively old data. Suicide, moreover, takes many forms. It isn't necessarily achieved in one lethal act. It can manifest as sexual promiscuity and substance abuse, among other things: that is, acts of self-sabotage whose physical consequences can take time to show up.

In other words, verbal abusers are not just violent batterers. They can also be murderers.

I doubt any studies show the socio-economic consequences of these tragedies, but anyone with common sense knows that a depressed or addicted or disordered employee is less than an optimally productive one.

This means that stopping gratuitous verbal violence ought to be on the agenda of America's CEOs as well.

Verbal batterers like Kern aren't just bad for LGBT people. They are bad for all of us. It's time we stop them.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

State Dept. Confirms Obama's Passport Security Breached

Any characterization of three unauthorized break-ins into Obama's passport file as overzealous curiosity--or anything else--is premature.

The State Department has not yet investigated these breaches, despite the fact that three months have passed since the first breach occurred. That's three months. Difficult to comprehend why the State Departent Inspector General failed to embrace his or her responsibility for something so palpably suspect, so manifestly illegal, and so potentially explosive politically. Three months is a long time in which to disseminate and massage whatever was found.

State is also claiming that "high-level managers" were not aware of these breaches until this afternoon, although two contract employees have been fired and one has been "disciplined." As a former Washingtonian, I can assure you that incidents with this explosive potential in the midst of a presidential election year are not likely to be withheld from senior managers. They are routinely withheld from the public, but senior managers, particulary those with responsibility for fire-fighting, were most likely informed immediately in case a public leak occurred. State--in this administration a partisan agent--would have wanted to be prepared.

The fact that this is a Republican administration known to favor Republicans in its hiring and Democrats in its firing, known even to have populated the ought-to-be sacrosanct Department of Justice with partisan hacks, makes the snooping more suspicious, if not outright sinister. The issue here is not what the snooper found. It is the Republican break-in into the files of a Democrat presidential candidate.

Is this beginning to sound familiar? It does if you're over fifty and remember Watergate. There's something that Republicans just don't seem to get: It's that government is not their tool, not theirs to do with as they will. It is a sacred trust. Anyone privileged to serve has an absolute, unquestionable duty to serve with honor and with integrity.

Republicans go forward now, into this election cycle, tainted with the broadest and deepest wave of corruption in modern history. As a former State Department official put it, the W administration is known as the benefactor friends and family, and we know that from Brownie, Liz Cheney, Halliburton/KBR, Blackwater, and all the rest.
Republicans go forward now, into this election cycle, tainted as well with having undermined the Constitution (a direct contravention of the President's oath of office) with respect to starting the war, domestic spying, the corrupt notion of a "unitary" president in a tri-partite/balance of powers structure, and the separation of church and state. Republicans--exemplified by choice as they are by militant liars such as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingram, Ari Fleischer, Cheney, Bush, Scooter, Novak, Rice, Rumsfeld, Feith, and the rest--now also have what today is an illegal snooping expedition and what tomorrow may be Watergate II--as a testiment to their patriotism.

That pretty much sums it up, too.

Call the DNC Now

Are you as sick of hearing the talking heads crow about the chaos the Democrats are in thanks to the decision to alienate the delegates of two of the most critical states in the election? Doesn't it embarrass you that our party chiefs managed to create a situation that guarantees millions of hours of TV and radio ridicule to our candidate's detriment?

If, like me, you cannot believe the incompetence of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in handling the Florida and Michigan decisions to hold their primaries when they choose, please call the DNC and let them know how you feel. Here's the number: 202-863-8000. If you'd prefer to send an email, here's the DNC website. Follow the "Contact" link.

Let me tell you what happened when I did. The switchboard passed me to a young man, a customer service genius. When I asked, just to be sure, "Are you the organization that is responsible for the Michigan/Florida mess?," he replied that Michigan and Florida are responsible. When I asked if the DNC established the rules the resulted in this mess, he replied that a committee passed the rules. When I said, "A committee of what organization," he replied, "The DNC."

I have to feel sorry for him in a way. I reamed out the DNC and he had to listen, and I'm sure I'm not the first to call. It's a wonder to me how talented the DNC folks are a snatching defeat and humiliation from the jaws of victory and respect. Its main talent? Circle the wagons and shoot.

And when you're done, please call the Clinton campaign and the Obama campaign and give them hell, too. This has got to be resolved IMMEDIATELY. We can't afford weeks more of humiliation.

Nagging Questions About Rev. Wright? Not.

Not for anyone who's thinking.

Revelations about a 30-second outtake from one of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons were not brought to us by Friends of Obama. They were brought to us by Enemies of Obama. That, in itself, gives me reason not to fall all over myself in fear and loathing. For that's exactly what we were meant to do. We were meant to keep this in the public eye, to raise "overlooked" issues with the outtake, and to blame Obama for not controlling the mind and the mouth of his former pastor.

Maybe you can, but I can't be played that easily.

Also, it occurs to me that we are dealing with one 30-second outtake from one sermon in a 30-year career. I can tell you that there are many 30-second outbursts I wish that I could take back. I'm sure you have a few, as well. Would you appreciate the whole world's forming its enduring opinion of you on that basis? No, you wouldn't. It's not fair, it's not right, and it's not kind.

Today, none other than Michael Crowley of The New Republic is raising a "nagging question" about Wright's comments about HIV-AIDS. It's kind of gullible of someone in Crowley's place to keep playing into this faux "scandal," and I wish he would shut up. However, since he hasn't, there are a couple of things I'd like to point out.

It is a fact that the Reagan Administration stalled unconscionably on dealing with the then just-emerging AIDS epidemic. Given its hideous embrace of the far-Right Christianist extremists' demonizing of gays, it's not at all improbable that the delay was intentional. At the time, the disease was thought to be a "gay" disease. Why not let it run its course and wipe out a few million gay men?

Anyone, repeat, anyone who thinks such a thing impossible knows nothing about history. No government of longer than a few years' duration has ever declined to eliminate its enemies in one way or another, including Christian monarchies. It happens.

Germ warfare happens, too. And so does experimentation on African Americans without their knowledge or consent. Horrors like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study occurred, and what's more, Tuskegee is deeply embedded in the collective memory of African Americans, and why wouldn't it be?

I am suggesting that, in a world in which smallpox was deliberately introduced into Native America to cause a genocide, in which Saddam Hussein, Mao, Stalin, Rwanda, Darfur, Joseph Mengele, Hitler, the Holocaust, Tuskegee, Reagan's stalling on dealing with HIV/AIDS, and Bush's subverting scientific study of air pollution and global warming are possible, it isn't at all paranoid to suspect that a hostile administration might perpetrate genocide on its own people.

Is it a fact? I don't know. I don't know why Wright reached that conclusion. Nobody has asked him. All I can say is that I was working as a lobbyist in Washington, DC, for a clinical laboratory association at the time. We were keenly concerned about HIV/AIDS because our constituents handle human blood, tissue, and other fluids all day every day, and my nose was buried in the Federal Register, the Congressional Record, and a myriad newsletters devoted to timely updates on the federal government's response to the new virus.

It was nothing short of boggling that the Administration took as long as it did to take action, and that it acted only because a Democratic Congress forced it to do so. So I know, personally, that the Reagan Administration delayed, and I believe the Reagan Administration did so to appease the "Christian" Right, and that it intended by stalling on HIV/AIDS epidemiological research funding, vaccine development funding, and public education funding to let the virus do as much damage as possible in the gay community. Unfortunately for us all, HIV/AIDS, like tuberculosis, smallpox, and the flu, is an pandemic that affects us all and is decimating Africa.

The point is this. When we see our own government ignore genocides like Darfur and Rwanda, and treat Black Haitian refugees differently than white Europeans, it isn't crazy for African Americans to be deeply, deeply suspicious of these things. It's crazy not to be. There is plain historical context for those suspicions. Whether they are correct is a separate question that history as yet has not answered.

Finally, Rev. Wright is his own person, responsible for his own actions. It is unreasonable, unjust, misleading, and unkind to suggest that Obama is somehow complicit in Rev. Wright's sermons.

I'm tired of the GOP's lying, distortions, and character assassinations. I don't want any part of that nastiness, and I won't allow myself to be sucked into criticizing Obama, much less fearing him, because Karl Rove wants me to.

We'd better hold ourselves to a higher standard of reason if we expect to have a better government than the one Karl Rove has provided for the last seven years. That means ignoring red herrings like a 30-second outtake from one sermon of a widely respected pastor with a 30-year career. We're being had. Again. Anyone who falls for this stuff makes an oyster look like a Rhodes Scholar.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

When Truth is Optional

I saw Ari Fleischer on Wolf Blitzer's "Situation Room" this evening. The pair of them reminded me of something I've wanted to say for some time.

When truth is expendible and one party owns the public communication resources, can we speak of living in a democracy?

I don't think so. The people depend upon timely access to facts in order to have any control whatsoever of their affairs. Without candor and truth telling, an investigative and fair press, and a prioritization of stories based on the public interest rather than the public prurience, the people have no chance.

That is what we are up against in this election, I believe. The months between now and November will be filled with lies, distortions, planted stories, incessant negative coverage of Democrats and incessant positive coverage of Republicans, and finally, rigged voting and vote counting.

Let's see if I'm too cynical. My sole remaining hope is that the people have learned in the last seven years the alternative to a free and fair media, accurate reporting, truth as the inside boundary for partisans and the rest of us as well, fidelity to the Constitution, and dedication to the public interest.

I'll Vote for Obama

Some while back, I declared here that Obama lost my support when he chose to campaign in South Carolina with an anti-GLBT activist. Since then, Obama has come out publicly as our supporter. In late February, he wrote a public letter to the GLBT community. Its concluding paragraph reads:

Americans are yearning for leadership that can empower us to reach for what we know is possible. I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike.
I believe that's an accurate assessment of the frame of mind that will be required to advance us to equal footing in law and in legislated benefits such as those governing Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, the federal income tax, military spouse survivorship, hospital visitation, etc.

Of course that's not all that will be required, by far. And he knows that. Obama's letter spells out where he stands on specific GLBT issues, and what his White House can be expected to do in our support.

So I've forgiven his foray into South Carolina with Donnie McClurkin.

In the interim, I've also had a great deal of exposure to Obama and to Clinton. As Obama has risen in my esteem, Clinton has fallen. I will spare you a lengthy play-by-play, and instead offer the seven chief reasons that finally persuade me to support Obama.

1. Judgment: I agree with Obama that judgment is the crucial variable in any President. All presidents have expert advisors. The president's judgment, and his or hers alone, is what, in the end, sorts them out and chooses a course to pursue. Not only Obama's stance on the war, but also his decision about how to run and nuance his campaign illustrate good judgment that's also far more in tune with Americans' longterm best interests than any other candidate's. That same judgment informed the content and tone of his speech on race delivered in response to critics of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Obama's association with him. Obama took this low-life diversion to the level of worthy discourse, and did so in a way that affirmed people--even people with serious issues about race--and summoned us to a better place: "The union will never be perfect, but it can always be perfected." Lincoln, too, was a first-term legislator when he took the presidency in circumstances that could hardly have been direr. I think Obama is cut from that rare cloth.

2. Leadership: That speech also demonstrated courageous leadership. Americans on the whole are not comfortable with a candid discussion of race, and politicians, with rare exceptions, avoid it like the plague. No so Obama. To his credit, even when his campaign is on the line, he stepped up and led. We're not used to that. We're used to hops and dodges and platitudes on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We're not used to a politician who can convert a race-based attack into a national growth opportunity.

While there remain issues about which I disagree with Obama or about which I want more information from him (free trade, privatization, the balance of powers, constitutional safeguards, FISA, etc.), the issues that I have heard him discuss give me reason to believe that he'll come down somewhere that I can live with.

3. Cool under fire: One of the things I like most about Obama is that he is unbelievably calm under fire. If he's going to have his finger on the nuclear trigger and his mouth at this end of the red phone, I want cool, calm, reason, and diplomacy. I've seen him exhibit precisely these characteristics repeatedly.

4. Common Decency: Time and again, Obama has reached out to the enemy, behaved with dignity and courtesy in the face of just the opposite, and comported himself with a nobility that I think will grace the Oval Office. And not a minute too soon. He is modeling for us the demeanor that he expects of us. That's also leadership of a very high order.

5. Change: I agree that we desperately need change in Washington. I must trust that Obama is what he says he is with respect to bought-and-paid-for lawmaking, but I will take that chance. Compared with McCain, Obama is a whole new world. Compared with Clinton, he's a refreshing outsider with enough experience in Washington to know how to get around town. On a more serious note, Obama's appeal to the best in the nation is desperately, desperately needed. We have generations of youngsters to teach about government in the interest of the people. I think Clinton is sullied by some of her own decisions and by the myths energetically generated by the Right about "The Clintons." I think the nation really is weary of both the Bushes and the Clintons, and wants and needs precisely the qualities that Obama uniquely brings to us.

6. Race and Heritage: I don't know of anything that can both mark growth on this nation's part and help this country address its racism than having a man of mixed race who identifies as Black in the White House. I think his multiracial and multinational heritage equip him uniquely as a symbol and as a negotiator on the world stage, and I believe the rest of the world will respond very positively to this President. While I think Clinton would attract global support as well, and know that McCain would be met as the anathema he is, I think Obama has the "face validity" to move us light years ahead in global diplomacy and domestic social accord.

7. Electability: Yes, he'll mobilize white racists and the far Right, at the risk of being redundant. So will Hillary. But Obama will bring whole new cohorts to the polls, and Clinton will not. If the White House and "Justice" Department are not tapping the campaign's phones and rigging the vote, Obama will be the next President of the United States.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Speaking Truth to Power

While the conservative mainstream media obsesses about a 15-sec spot from a sermon preached at Obama's church, OK Republican lawmaker Sally Kern is getting away with a streak of assaults and batteries of America's gays and lesbians without notice or comment. Study after study has shown that words do more severe and lasting damage than most physical violence does. But that's fine in this America, where accountability is for the little people, and truth is scarce as puppy feathers.

This ignorance of and indifference to real abuse strike me as typical of the sheep who make political decisions based on what the Lords of the Universe want them to think. What the Lords of the Universe want them to know. What they don't know, however, hurts them, and us, severely.

I have in mind a particularly myopic friend who knows nothing about Bush's or McCain's spiritual advisors but today sounded the alarm as far as she can about Obama's. Mind you, she doesn't know squat about the tidal wave of fundamentalism that has steeped the country in its nasty toxicity for 30 years and put verbal abusers like Sally Kern in public office. It hasn't occurred to her to inquire, or analyze, or warn her friends that white and Black fundamentalism goes directly against all our authentic--that is, constitutional--patriotic values. She doesn't know, and what's more, she's damn proud of it.

What she does know is that Rev. Wright said "God damn America" from the pulpit and Obama goes to his church, and that's that.

It hasn't dawned on her to ask whether America's done anything lately that might contradict the only documents that make an American an American: the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It hasn't dawned on her to compare the recent actions of this country with, say, the Sermon on the Mount to see whether there might be some authentic basis for biblical scholar Rev. Wright's critique.

She doesn't appear to care that our Neofascist president has many times broken his oath of office--including his sacred oath to protect and defend the Constitution. The fact that McCain is just Bush 3 doesn't seem to disturb her one bit, and his embracing John Hagee and Rod Parsley hasn't raised one single question in her mind. In all these miserable seven years, I have yet to see a single somber email from her warning me of the consequences of Bush's overt treason.

Reality is irrelevant. It's only the goblin whispering from GOP-inspired "news" that scares her. She's so easy to play, but she thinks she's got a lead on news the nation needs to know to save itself from a disaster. Well, I've got news for her. The disaster is here, and what she thinks is Rev. Wright's treason is just the opposite.

It hasn't occurred to this woman to examine how her responses are programmed by the "news," or to question whose interests are served by her panicky, knee-jerk "exposes" of a fired-up Black man preaching truth to power. She thinks of herself as a stand-up American Christian, and she knows that nice people don't talk like Rev. Wright where she comes from.

She evidently hasn't made the acquaintance of Isaiah and Jeremiah, or Amos or Micah. If she had, she'd know that they said all that Wright is saying and a whole lot more besides. If she had, she'd see that anyone who condemns Wright for telling it like it is, is actually on Pharoah's side. But she can't see that.

I don't know why not. She's not brain-dead. She's smart. It's not like she's been on Uranus for the last decade. She's seen what we've all seen. It's just that she filters it all differently. I don't know if it would sound the alarm in her to hear a white preacher condemn America's abundant recent evils, or if a different cadence would make that righteous wrath more comprehensible and acceptable to her. I suspect it would.

I suspect that much of her upset is fear generated by that bountiful wellspring that William Styron plumbed years ago in The Confessions of Nat Turner. I suspect that she harbors, somewhere, the understanding that in fact this country hasn't actually been the Light and Hope of the World for quite some time--not if you count atrocities committed by its economic policies, and atrocities committed by its State Department, as in Iran Contra and Iraq. Instead, as Michael Moore tried to show us in his film, Bowling for Columbine, we have a lot of stuff to project onto people of color and we're not one bit ashamed to do it.

After all, this is the same person who, a month or so ago, send around an email slander claiming that Obama is a Muslim, and before that, that Obama goes to a racist church. She was wrong then, and she's wrong now, but reality to this kind of mind is irrelevant. And so is research. If she had any idea what she's talking about, she would know that Rev. Wright is an exponent of Liberation Theology, a man grounded in the social and political critique that informed so much of America's own best impulses for change. But she knows none of this, and cares less.

It's a lot easier to get whipped up on cheap, slanderous political propaganda than it is to stop, think, read, and sort out complexities like what America has come to stand for under George W. Bush.

I mean, isn't it god-damnable to obliterate a country, slaughter its people, and scatter the survivors to the four winds to give one man an ego trip? Isn't it god-damnable to torture people? Isn't it well and truly god-damnable to watch a city drown, leave it in moldy, toxic ruins, and house its poorest in formaldehyde trailers? Isn't it god-damnable to spend a country into economic disaster to enrich the richest and destroy its people? Isn't it god-damnable to kill EPA regulations and destroy the nation's most important environmental research archives? Or suppress the science of global warming or stem cell research? Hey, I'm just getting warmed up.

But such manifest in-your-face truth doesn't matter to her. All that matters is a flag on the lapel pin and an I Heart Jesus bumper sticker. That's her kind of patriotism. That's her kind of Christianity.

It isn't mine. I don't ask how America stands compared with the worst of nations. I ask how America stands now compared with the sacred promise of its founding documents.

But I guess I shouldn't expect much more than she's delivering from a nation bred and reared on Disneyworlds and HDTV. After all, it's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between man-made "terrains" and the real world we actually inhabit.

There're some very powerful people who count on that.

So, How's It Workin' Out For Ya?

The Fool in Chief is on the tube now, giggling about how it's "intersting times," meaning that, not his but your savings are imperiled, your home is foreclosing, gas is heading to $4/gallon, and everything that depends on gas is going up in price like a skyrocket. Your groceries, utilities, medicines, and everything else.

So I want to ask all the panic-stampeded lemmings who thought John Kerry and John Edwards would be a disaster and so voted for Bush/Cheney: "Hey, how's it workin' out for ya?" Because you know what? THIS is the disaster.

And Bush 3 -- aka McMoron, McCain -- wants more of the same! Can you believe it? More war, more Bushenomics, more fundy social policy, more Cult of the Individual, more guns, more Shock Doctrine, more fat pink pigs at the federal trough while the rest of us go down like the Titanic.

And you know what? There are actually people out there, walking around, who plan to vote for McCain.

I had somebody here in my house yesterday who told me point blank that she wouldn't vote for Obama because he's a Black man, and she might not vote at all because they're all losers. She's a smart person, and someone I would never have expected to fly a racist flag at all. I'll say more about that part of the experience in another post.

To hear an intelligent, 40-something woman who has lived through the last 7 years same as the rest of us mindlessly reduce Democrats and Republicans to one interchangeable mass was simply stupefying! And this morning, an old school friend sent a cartoon cereal box around the 'net making the same point: same flakes, more nuts.

This makes me want to rise up in wrath and knock heads together. Anyone who can't tell the difference between 8 years of peace, prosperity, and a budget surplus--not to mention intact standing globally (Clinton's White House) and the endless blight that has been Bush's GOP economic, foreign, trade, and domestic policy is already dead, just walking around decomposing.

Oh, by the way. Did you know that whenever home prices tank, the wealthy go around buying up real estate? This is called "the rich get richer." They don't lose, no matter what happens to the rest of us. "Class warfare?" Are you kidding me?

The current infusions of cash into the credit stream--however vital they may be--nevertheless are bailouts of huge banking firms whose greed and corruption caused the economic meltdown in the first place--which brings to mind Gore Vidal's observation that the Republicans' economic policy is socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest of us. And so it is, and, for as long as we vote them into office, so it ever shall be.

Kiss your notions of retirement goodbye and enroll in McDonald's School for the Service Economy, because if Bush somehow manages not to trigger a global depression this go-round, McCain will if he gets the chance.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Admiral Fallon's resignation over alleged differences with Bush over Iran, and today's CNN story about the potential that Hezbollah will use cyberattacks if the US attacks Iran's nuclear plants are worrisome. They sound very much to me like Bush and Cheney may be laying groundwork for a pre-election attack on Iran.

I don't think Iran has ever fallen off Bush's war agenda. It was simply stalled a while by public disclosures questioning its capability and intentions. So I think attacking Iran--at a minimum, destroying its nuclear plants--is still possible. If it is to take place, it will have to take place before the January inauguration. that being the case, if it takes place, it will take place before the election in order for the GOP to make the case that the country can't afford to change horses in mid-stream.

The very possibility of an attack on Iran ought to bring us all to our feet. If the obvious lessons of Iraq in Iraq haven't persuaded us of its stupidity, then maybe pausing a moment to think about how we're going to pay for a third war can.

The reason the price of gasoline, grocery, durable goods, and other products is sharply spiking is the war in Iraq. The reason the dollar is tanking is the war in Iraq. We don't have the money to pay for it, so we are borrowing so heavily that we've managed to devalue our own currency and trigger inflation at the same time that the GOP's free market (anti-regulatory) policies have laid open the home-buying public to the predations of the low-life slime balls in the subprime market. Great management, eh?

The point is that war has consequences for every single one of us. Our nation is already teetering on the edge of disaster. The last thing we need is this cowboy in the White House firing off another loose round.

Monday, March 10, 2008


For a long, long time I've been puzzled about the radical change in direction this country has taken, particularly in the last seven years. I've noted previously that the seeds of this change were being sown for some 35 years or so, and that it has been a deliberate, intentional reversal of the norms that knitted us together as a culture for 250 years.

Most of the changes being planned for us weren't visible to the majority until the US Supreme Court put George W. Bush into the White House. At that point, we saw in Florida evidence of widespread vote tampering; thugs hired by Rove and others to try to intimidate chad sorters and vote counters; our highest Court put partisan advantage ahead of a transparently fair and valid election; and our most venerable news media bury all of this in the sand as if it never occurred at all.

Soon we were lied to about the need for war; saw important regulations for the public safety dismantled; heard lie after lie told by media spokespersons and people in government alike, without consequence. Then we saw Katrina and, in its aftermath, uncovered the most cynical corruption and abuse of office imaginable, followed by flagrant preying on those most victimized by the failure of a fraudulently constructed system of levees. We've seen so much: Rove's involvement in the fraudulent, partisan imprisonment of a former Alabama governor. The takedown of sitting attorneys general for partisan reasons. The pollution of our Justice department--that is, the lead player in our justice system--with craven partisanship. The flargrant contravention of the Constitution--repeatedly. Domestic spying without court oversight. Torture. And more.

I think what we've lost can be summed in one word: Honor.

Honor used to be that virtue which prevented a person from cheating and lying; from taking advantage of weak and disadvantaged people; from abusing power, whether at home, in public office, or on a ball field; from giving or receiving kickbacks; from accepting full payment for less than full service; from making a lunch with tainted food or manufacturing a car with faulty parts or imperfect functions; from charging more than the service or product is worth by fair measure; from sending hate mail or making obscene phone calls; from fidding on taxes; from stealing from the neighbors or the workplace; from shoplifting; from diverting contracts to one's friends and political allies; from bribing or extorting; from making stuff up about a political opponent's person, family, policies, record, and positions; from withholding evidence; from turning your back on somebody in need; from smearing somebody with lies and slander; from kicking somebody who's down.

There used to be consensus that a person of honor didn't do those things even if he or she could get away with it. And there used to be social, if not legal, consequences for people who did. And those consequences weren't being enthroned in the highest office of the land.

I don't think we can find our way as a country again until we revisit the meaning of honor and inculcate it in ourselves and our children, and demand it of our public servants, our soldiers, our judges, teachers, mechanics, manufacturers, stock brokers, and CEOs.

The one thing we lack more than all others, I think, is that old-fashioned commitment to personal honor. Not that we all once had it uniformly, or that we were all ever perfect, or that the country never screwed up before 2000. Of course not. But I do distinctly remember a time before Watergate, before the King and Kennedy assassinations, before Mai Lai, when honor meant more than a ribbon on a lapel or a gilded statuette.

I can't put a period to it exactly, but I remember that my grandparents had it. There were just some things an honorable person didn't do even if he or she could get away with doing them. There were just some things that a decent man or woman didn't do. This was back in the day when we told our kids that if you had to cheat to win, you didn't win. You lost the game AND you lost your honor. It was back in the day when Girl and Boy Scouts learned the honor meant telling the truth, admitting a mis-step and taking your medicine, not littering the highway, not killing an animal that you didn't intend to eat, not ganging up on someone, not giving your word and then taking it back again. Honor was what a person had who could make a contract on a handshake.

Honor once was what gave a leader his or her credibility and power, and put him or her in the seat of office to begin with. It was the source of his or her authority, not the result of a fixed election.

I bet I sound really out of it, really old-fashioned, and hopelessly naive. I do know that even honorable people sometimes messed up, and that very few public officials have managed ever to truly withstand the temptations and possibilities of great power. But I also know that my mom and dad talked a lot with me about honor as a child, and that the times I didn't seriously mess up had more to do with my sense of honor than with my fear of getting caught. I also know that the times I did mess up had everything to do with forgetting the meaning of honor.

I don't think honor inheres in being a POW. I don't think it has anything to do with being a former First Lady or a sitting senator or a Harvard Law graduate, and I certainly don't think it has a thing to do with being "a have or a have-more," in W's words. It's not about church-going or flag-waving or being pro-war. It's not about any of the "values" so often touted these days, and that's precisely the problem.

It's like everybody woke up one morning to find all notions of honor had flown far away. Things that once would have rained scandal now earn fortunes. Acts that should result in trials for treason are ignored. Companies that should be barred from all government contracting are given no-bid contracts worth billions. Men and women who lie and endorse torture are among our chief officeholders. War profiteering, which used to be right up there with pimping, is a brag on a resume. Ghastly overconsumption and deliberate waste, far from being shameful, are established as the ideal. Being cruel to the poor and the elderly is like a national passtime, and shooting unarmed civilians in high schools and shopping malls is to America today waht croquet was to America in the 20th Century.

I see that. But what I don't understand is why we let this happen.

Can anyone tell me?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Too Many Dogs in Shelters?

Absolutely. I don't think anyone would argue that. There are way too many dogs and cats in our animal shelters. One is too many.

I'm writing this post in response to a comment I received about an earlier post on mandatory spay/neuter. In that comment, Symsess said, in part:

So I guess what I'm saying is that I don't believe this problem is being exaggerated. I don't think we need a law, nor do I think it will be effective, but we certainly have a problem here and dogs and cats are the ones suffering the consequences.
I agree that we have a problem, but as I see it, PETA is exaggerating and manipulating public perceptions of the shelter population in order to gin up uninformed support for measures like mandatory spay/neuter--measures that have little to do with resolving shelter populations and instead take us one more step toward PETA's real objective of eliminating companion animals entirely.

(I'm not going to argue about PETA. I'm convinced by PETA's own statements that its ultimate objective is to "liberate" all domestic animals from human ownership, including dogs and cats. For those who want to explore that matter, there's plenty of stuff out there, online.)

PETA and its supporters say, "There are more dogs and cats in shelters than there are people willing to adopt them." As I hope to show, that is a flat manipulation designed to lead us to support even drastic measures.

One, the truth is that nobody knows the true ratio of adoptable dogs to homes willing to adopt. (I'm only talking about dogs in this post.) It has never been measured. The ratio simply can’t be inferred from the number of dogs in shelters, and it can’t be inferred from the intake-to-euthanasia records that shelters keep, either. Analogy: If I tell you that I have 25 TVs in my bag, can you tell me how many buyers of brushed nickel finish, 40-inch, plasma screen Samsung HDTVs are there in Maricopa County, AZ? See the problem?

The ratio of shelter dogs to willing adopters has never been measured partly because there are simply too many variables to take into account. For instance, I might adopt IF my shelter has my preferred breed on hand. On the exact day I visit. Or if it has my breed AND my preferred sex. AND my preferred age. AND color. Or, I might adopt IF the dog matches all that AND is health certified. Or temperament certified. And Free. Spayed. Not spayed. Because the truth is, when it comes to dogs, one size doesn't fit all.

I’m sure a study could be designed to account for all those and other variables, but it won’t be, because such a study would be prohibitively expensive to conduct, tabulate, analyze, and publish. Nevertheless, some folks continue to claim, falsely, that there are more dogs in shelters than there are homes willing to adopt them. That is false because it is not known and not knowable from the data we have, and cannot be inferred from the fact that many dogs remain unadopted.

The fact that dogs remain in shelters after a given year’s adopters have come and gone absolutely does not mean that all willing adopters have met and rejected each and every one of those dogs. It doesn’t even mean that that all the adopters who saw them actually specifically “rejected” them all. In order for that to be true, every adopter would have to be equally ready to adopt every dog. But again, it doesn't work that way. I might go to the shelter ready to take home a Beagle puppy and find no Beagle puppies. That isn’t the same thing as rejecting the Bassets and the Collies and the mixed-breeds, because I’m not in the pool of willing Basset, Collie, or mixed-breed adopters in the first place. I’m a willing Beagle PUPPY adopter, but that fact is not accounted for in the crude measure, “dogs euthanized annually,” and it is absolutely erased in PETA's propaganda.

Two, although nobody argues that the number of animals being euthanized by shelters is acceptable, many of those animals are not adoptable in the first place. In fact, many were taken to the shelter specifically to be put down—a tax-payer subsidized alternative to paying your own vet to do that painful service. These are sick, elderly, and “untrainable” animals, and these conditions will occur in any animal population, always--unless we eliminate all animals, of course.

And this is an important, generally neglected consideration in any ethical discussion of the ethics of shelter euthanasia: Do we know what percent of dogs brought for that purpose had already lived the best lives possible in their specific circumstances? No. PETA wants us to assume that they are all victims of neglect, abuse, and callousness. I think a fairer assumption is that while some certainly are, some certainly are not, and that in a significant number of cases, euthanasia is an act of mercy. I would personally appreciate that option, and use it if I were in unmanagable pain, terminally ill, or simply worn out by age, and I have taken four beloved companions to the vet to be euthanized for one or more of those reasons. Some people can't afford the vet or stand the considerable agony of remaining with their animal for the final moments, but that doesn't make them abusers. So what percent of euthanasias should be defined in that way? We don't know, and PETA would like to obscure that consideration.

Three, no county that I’m aware of has ever gone all out to find homes for all the adoptable dogs in its shelters. In other words, to some unknown degree, the problem is a marketing problem. It’s a public information and access problem. We need to confront the rampant myths about shelter animals and make the adopting experience as risk-free and pleasant as possible without reducing the security measures designed to prevent shelter dogs from ending up with Michael Vick. That won’t happen to the necessary extent because your county and mine have other priorities. But all our counties could do a better job than they do, I’m sure. Until these steps are taken, we can’t know whether dogs are euthanized because there aren’t enough homes out there, or because the willing buyers for those dogs simply aren’t aware they’re there in the narrow timeframe available.

Four, in many counties, shelter populations have actually steadily decreased as those counties take steps to educate the public about dog ownership and breeds and shelter adoption opportunities, and offer subsidized or free spay/neuter clinics. But it would undermine PETA's longterm objective to make this fact clear and fund public education campaigns, wouldn't it?

By claiming that there are more dogs in shelters than there are homes for them, PETA creates the impression that we have a crisis, a gridlock. Given that scenario, we are ready to take seriously even the most extreme propositions, such as mandatory spay/neuter. It takes one second to realize that if virtually all dogs are mandatorily spayed or neutered, there won't be anymore dogs, and the dogs that do breed will constitute a dangerously small gene pool that can only ensure severely damaged offspring in the future. Which gets us back to PETA's longterm objective.

So. Tell me how mandatory spay/neuter will address the problem of dogs in shelters. What it WILL do is ensure the virtual genocide of intentionally bred and homed animals while it totally ignores feral animals whose offspring account for at last half the dogs in shelters. And that makes sense how?

It will also punish owners like me, who already spay and neuter, while utterly ignoring the scofflaws and freeloaders who are mostly responsible for dogs ending up in shelters. Why? Because these people already ignore licensing and responsible breeding practices. Why on earth does anyone think they'll suddenly sit straight and fly right?

There are too many dogs in shelters and too many of them are euthanized needlessly. Concerted, sustained public education programs coupled with vouchers for spay/neuter and free spay/neuter clinics gradually result in sustained declines in shelter populations. We know this. It is a fact and it is demonstrated time and again in shelter population studies. That's the direction to take.

Will it ensure that every dog prospers? No, but then were you born with a guarantee? Neither was I. Life's hard truth is that some of us make it and some of us don't make it. Beloved home companion animals are hit by cars or accidentally poisoned or die prematurely from diseases. My point is that it is unrealistic to expect that some dogs won't end up in shelters. Our task, it seems to me, is to work consistently to: (a) educate the public about breeds and responsible dog ownership; (b)provide accessible and friendly adoption options; (c) ostracize, criminalize, and penalize irresponsible owners; (d) stop running ads that make cruelty to animals seem inevitable -- as ASPCA's popular "In the Arms of the Angels" ad inadvertently does -- and instead, run ads that show the practice and the people who do it as unacceptable, criminal, and disgusting -- like a very effective series of ads about meth users; (e) teach respect for animals and nature as automatically as we (used to) teach respect for people; (f) encourage and subsidize spay and neuter; and (g) encourage adoption, and when purchasing is desired insteand, encourage purchasing from reputable, informed, and ethical breeders which can be found by contacting the breed club in your community or nearest you. That's what telephone books and the internet are for.

I'll end with saying that to some extent, I see the fact of dogs in shelters as symptomatic of a sick culture--much they way school shootings are symptoms that something bigger than we seem willing to confront is amiss in how we choose to organize our world. But that's a whole other post, about commodification of animals, wives, and children, and our addictive consumer culture. However, enough for now.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Thinkin' Like a Man

OK, well it didn't take long for something to push my buttons, did it?

From Media Matters today, we have this:

Though Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell has stated that "[c]oncern about keeping women as newspaper readers has been an issue for many years" at the newspaper, the Post published an essay by Charlotte Allen in which she called women "kind of dim," suggested that women were not only "the weaker sex" but "the stupid sex, our brains permanently occluded by random emotions, psychosomatic flailings and distraction by the superficial," and claimed that Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has been "marred by every stereotypical flaw of the female sex."

Allen writes for the self-styled "Independent Women's Forum." After having sampled her "independent women's" thinking, I can only conclude that she is to independent women what the Clean Air Act is to, right, clean air. In fact, have I said lately that, except for groups with "fascist," "conservative," and "Right" in their titles, all Rightwing bills, laws, organizations, websites, and blogs stand for exactly the opposite of what their names say?

To wit:

"I can't help it, but reading about such episodes of screaming, gushing and swooning makes me wonder whether women -- I should say, 'we women,' of course -- aren't the weaker sex after all. Or even the stupid sex, our brains permanently occluded by random emotions, psychosomatic flailings and distraction by the superficial."
The girl can't help it. Tsk tsk. I guess she's never been to a hockey game, or heard David Gergen or Chris Matthews talk about W, either. Or for that matter, noticed the current Administration for the last seven-plus years. Guess she doesn't get out much.

And this:

"So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home. . . . Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim."
Who is this person? Has she not heard tenderness is not a gendered quality? Has she never met a male interior designer or chef or homebody? As to enjoying the ability to make a house a home, I notice she didn't enumerate scrubbing floors, washing clothes, cleaning bathrooms, and fixing three squares a day. If she had, even she might have seen the feverish imbecility of exhorting "more" women to "relax and enjoy" said ability.

This isn't writing (thinking with a keyboard). It's blowing spit bubbles.

And finally this:

"As the blog Feministe noted, Allen wrote in a June 27, 2005, IWF blog post (accessed through the Internet Archive) that 'Frankly, even as a woman, I miss the old sexist days, when stewardesses were stewardesses: pretty young things in cute mini-suits and little heels who oozed attention onto everyone -- because who knew? They might end up marrying one of the passengers,' adding: 'Why does feminism have to mean the triumph of the ugly and the surly?'
Sounds to me like Miss Independent here ought to footnote the boys on the Right. If she were thinking for herself, she would know that feminists, like any other cross-section of humanity, aren't "ugly," and that "surly" is an apt word for a spoiled child but not for anyone engaged in a global movement for common human dignity. She'd know better than to tote the propaganda.

Not only that, Allen is obviously too infantile to have the first notion of what it was like to be a woman flying with the stewardesses of yore. Sweetie, you'd have been the last served. You know why? Because you're a woman. You wouldn't have gotten the blinding smile, the soft pat on the arm, the fluffed-up pillow, the third cocktail. You'd have gotten the "Go on, spit it out" expression, and a eye-rolling sigh if you asked for one drink, let alone three.

This might sound trivial, but the point is that women plugged into male supremacy aren't nice to other women. Aren't kind, or respectful, or courteous to, or sympathetic with, or remotely inclined to share perspectives. Women plugged into make supremacy can be counted on to project the dominant misogynistic perspective, to wave it like a banner so as to differentiate themselves from the despised class, "woman." It's called "lateral hostility," and "identifying with the oppressor."

Let me think. Where have I just seen that?

Where've I Been?

I've been housepainting, and while housepainting, pondering this blogging bidness.

There are three approaches, two of which are available to me. Tag-teaming is the one that isn't available, but blogging for the sake of filling up space, or blogging when I've got something to say, are my two options. The downside of the latter is that there are days when I'm elsewhere in my life, and that, to you, looks like I've disappeared. The downside of the former is that I waste my time and yours. The choice seems clear to me.

The world--well, at least the USA--is already eyeball deep in opinions about the presidential race. I have nothing worth noting to add, and if I should think of something, I'll post it. I don't follow sports and the Oscars are a bore even if Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchette are not. Television is a yawn except for all the ways the news is throwing the race, but how many times can I write about that, and "Lost," but I'm not fascinated with deciphering it. So there you are.

OK, I'm always interested in--no, appalled by and much concerned about--Latino immigration issues here in my state, but I'm not adequately informed about the pending changes to the federal H2 visa or Gov. Napolitano's pursuit of complicity with that federal plan to screw "guest" workers. All I know for sure is that any revisions made by this crowd will favor business and drop any pretense at achieving "hospitality" in any sense implied by the word "guest." I'll bet my bottom dollah that protections for workers will be compromised, and bidness will be empowered to be even greedier and meaner.

It has even occurred to me that in all those years Clinton was in office, the neo-Cons were planning not just the Iraq take-down but also the global take-down of the middle classes, a la Milton Friedman. And part of that is to stir up the so-called "immigration" crisis in the USA in order (a) to divert our attention from the real ways we're being effed over and (b) to deplete the ranks of immigrant labor, drive native working classes out of the (disappearing) factories and into the onion fields, and replace them with desperate native middle classes. It's a push-down, a race to the bottom for all of us who didn't even know there was a race going on. It's all part of the re-feudalization of the known world, which, of course, is rounded out by the fundamentalists and their various autos da fey. Hello Hagee, you bloated, bleating sheep-brained moron.

What else interests me at the moment, besides all that, is learning to cook with hot Hatch green chiles, learning to make better pendants of polymer clay, getting acquainted for the first time with the Society of Creative Anachronism, our back yard, which is coming back to life after the chilly eight weeks of winter in Phoenix, and the interior of our home, which, after twelve years, needs to be re-painted.

Likely I'll be spending several hours in the coming couple of weeks on these matters. Maybe I'll bump into a wandering thought or two. Stay tuned.