Friday, January 28, 2011

Michele Bachmann received $251,973 in public farm subsidies

It's right there on Wikipedia! Why is no one calling out hypocritical Miss Tea Party on her anti-government yammerings?:

Bachmann also has an ownership stake in a Waumandee, Wisconsin family farm. From 1995 through 2006, the Bachmann family farm has received $251,973 in federal subsidies, chiefly for dairy and corn price supports.[17] Since the death of her father-in-law, the farm and its buildings are rented to a neighboring farmer who maintains a dairy herd on the farm.
Pretty good welfare, Michele! I could use bucks like that, but after my only foray into AFDC back in the early 80s (thanks to your president), I try not to live off of other people, as you do.

Not only does she take big money from taxpayers, without apology (via her nice salary and her farm subsidies), she actually MADE HER CAREER by DEFENDING THE INFERNAL REVENUE against THE PEOPLE! Do you believe this? And she continually presents herself as the brave anti-tax heroine of the right?

Liar, liar, pants on fire:
From 1988 to 1993, Bachmann was a U.S. Treasury Department attorney in the US Federal Tax Court located in St. Paul. According to Bachmann, she represented the Internal Revenue Service "in hundreds of cases"[10] (both civil and criminal) prosecuting people who underpaid or failed to pay their taxes.
Why would someone who (supposedly) believes the federal government is a bandit, professionally defend the government against hardworking folks who can't pay off the bandits? Sounds like someone is just another common political opportunist!

And of course, by now, you have heard that she has re-written history?
Speaking at an Iowans For Tax Relief event, Bachmann (R-MN) also noted how slavery was a "scourge" on American history, but added that "we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States."

"And," she continued, "I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forbearers who worked tirelessly -- men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country."

It's true -- Adams became a vocal opponent of slavery, especially during his time in the House of Representatives. But Adams was not one of the founders, nor did he live to see the Emancipation Proclamation signed in 1863 (he died in 1848).
See, folks, this is why it's bad to attend a "college" like Oral Roberts "University"... yes, that's her alma mater, are you surprised?

I knew it had to be something like that.


NOTE: Above graphic from HYPERVOCAL, who had more to say about Michele and her rather shaky grasp of American history.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stuff I like

:: Natural Factors chewable Vitamin C. The Boysenberry makes me happiest!

:: Sounds True meditation music, especially the kundalini meditations.

:: The HP Lovecraft Tarot, which I want in the worst way, but not enough to spend $1000 for it (new), or even $350 (used). (I hope Cthulhu won't take it personally; it's never a good thing to be on his bad side.)

:: My surrogate son, South Carolina Boy, writes very personally about familial stress, shifting identities and transition: A Real Trans Person and Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.

:: Masada bagels, particularly the Everything bagel and the Cinnamon Raisin! mmmmm

:: Theraneem products, which cured my eczema. I can't recommend them highly enough, for any troublesome skin issue you might have.

:: URBAN FARM, a magazine almost as much fun as Mary Jane's Farm. (Our local equivalent is from Hendersonville, NC: Back Home.)

:: BeeWell Honey, from Pickens County, SC. Besides scrumptious wildflower honey, the best thing in Pickens County is Glassy Mountain. (NOTE: This is not to be confused with Glassy Mountain in Greenville County, which was once stunningly beautiful, but now totally ruined by rich people, golfers and enormous McMansions; Kevin Costner and Tiger Woods are frequent visitors and investors.)

:: Barbara Lynn, known as the Queen of Gulf Coast Blues and Soul.


You'll lose a good thing - Barbara Lynn (1962)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Still life with locusts

We watched Terrence Malick's amazing film BADLANDS again last week, and it is such a work of art, I need to share the trailer and insist you all see it. Like, right now.

I can still remember Molly Haskell noting that Sissy Spacek's childlike narration sounded just like TRUE ROMANCES or one of those adolescent magazines. It sure does, and how wonderful and perfect it is.

Roger Ebert includes BADLANDS in his list of GREAT MOVIES:

Kit is played by Martin Sheen, in one of the great modern film performances. He looks like James Dean, does not have bowlegs, and plays the killer as a plain and simple soul who has somehow been terribly damaged by life...

Holly is played by the freckle-faced redhead Sissy Spacek. She takes her schoolbooks along on the murder spree so as not to get behind. She is in love with Kit at first, but there is a stubborn logic in her makeup and she eventually realizes that Kit means trouble. "I made a resolution never again to take up with any hell-bent types," she confides.

Badlands - Trailer (1973)

After presenting the world with this work of art, Malick took several eons directing another amazing work of art, the fabulous DAYS OF HEAVEN. Which you will also go out and rent immediately, especially if you are a working-class or poor person.

Again, Roger Ebert includes this movie among his GREAT MOVIES. And like BADLANDS, there is also a young female's guileless narration, this one by Linda Manz:
Although passions erupt in a deadly love triangle, all the feelings are somehow held at arm's length. This observation is true enough, if you think only about the actions of the adults in the story. But watching this 1978 film again recently, I was struck more than ever with the conviction that this is the story of a teenage girl, told by her, and its subject is the way that hope and cheer have been beaten down in her heart. We do not feel the full passion of the adults because it is not her passion: It is seen at a distance, as a phenomenon, like the weather, or the plague of grasshoppers that signals the beginning of the end.
Unfortunately, this trailer doesn't include any of Manz's wonderfully plaintive narration, as the BADLANDS trailer included Spacek's. You do see, however, that the whole movie looks like an Andrew Wyeth painting come to life. And Richard Gere was... ohhhh my goodness (((fans self)))).

Quite simply, one of the greatest movies ever made.

Days of Heaven - Trailer (1978)

If you are in a suitably biblical/apocalyptic mood, check out the locust invasion. Linda Manz is cutting the vegetables in the first scene.

Incredible, peerless film-making, boys and girls. Took him years, but I'm so glad it did.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stalemate and ADD

I keep drawing the Two of Swords, which I can't figure out. I've never drawn it for myself until lately. The problem with attempting to read one's own tarot (or be one's own therapist!) is that you simply can't figure out this stuff for yourself, just as we can't always figure out we don't look good in certain clothes we love anyway. No objectivity!

And it doesn't help that many of the tarot-experts and sources can't agree on the card's meanings. Hm.

I choose the meaning I think is most likely: Stalemate. I am stalemated. At least I know that much.

However, if I am indeed lying to myself (one of the meanings of the Two of Swords), how could I know what the card means? Obviously, I am already in denial, and that means I don't have a clue.

She really needs to take off the blindfold!


Speaking of blindfolds (how's that for a segue?), Chaos is Normal posted FTY: Students, which included an excerpt from a bang-up interview (by Amy Goodman) of one Canadian Dr Gabor Maté. This incisive excerpt sent me over to Democracy Now to listen to the whole show, titled Dr. Gabor Maté on the Stress-Disease Connection, Addiction, Attention Deficit Disorder and the Destruction of American Childhood. Highly recommended!

I hear about ADD every day, as my customer-parents attempt to deal, often buying supplements for their children. I hear all about the endless "symptoms"--which so often to me, sound like, well, just being a child. When did simple childhood become a disease?

I didn't grow up hearing about ADD, which also fascinates me. Is this some "new and improved" diagnosis, in that case? If so, is our culture to blame for stigmatizing certain behaviors? And as with autism, are those same behaviors possibly 'rewarded' elsewhere? (i.e. the preponderance of autism in the Silicon Valley) Dr Gabor Maté believes actual brain development in children has markedly changed over the last generation or so, due to our radical changes in culture. (I have often believed this about addiction, so when somebody with smarts comes out and backs me up, I am thrilled.)

Quotes from Dr Maté I found especially pertinent:

In the United States right now, there are three million children receiving stimulant medications for ADHD... Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And there are about half-a-million kids in this country receiving heavy-duty anti-psychotic medications, medications such as are usually given to adult schizophrenics to regulate their hallucinations. But in this case, children are getting it to control their behavior. So what we have is a massive social experiment of the chemical control of children’s behavior, with no idea of the long-term consequences of these heavy-duty anti-psychotics on kids.

And I know that Canadians statistics just last week showed that within last five years, 43—there’s been a 43 percent increase in the rate of dispensing of stimulant prescriptions for ADD or ADHD, and most of these are going to boys. In other words, what we’re seeing is an unprecedented burgeoning of the diagnosis. And I should say, really, I’m talking about, more broadly speaking, what I would call the destruction of American childhood, because ADD is just a template, or it’s just an example of what’s going on. In fact, according to a recent study published in the States, nearly half of American adolescents now meet some criteria or criteria for mental health disorders. So we’re talking about a massive impact on our children of something in our culture that’s just not being recognized.
The normal basis for child development has always been the clan, the tribe, the community, the neighborhood, the extended family. Essentially, post-industrial capitalism has completely destroyed those conditions. People no longer live in communities which are still connected to one another. People don’t work where they live. They don’t shop where they live. The kids don’t go to school, necessarily, where they live. The parents are away most of the day. For the first time in history, children are not spending most of their time around the nurturing adults in their lives. And they’re spending their lives away from the nurturing adults, which is what they need for healthy brain development.
In ADD, there’s an essential brain chemical, which is necessary for incentive and motivation, that seems to be lacking. That’s called dopamine. And dopamine is simply an essential life chemical. Without it, there’s no life. Mice in a laboratory who have no dopamine will starve themselves to death, because they have no incentive to eat. Even though they’re hungry, and even though their life is in danger, they will not eat, because there’s no motivation or incentive. So, partly, one way to look at ADD is a massive problem of motivation, because the dopamine is lacking in the brain. Now, the stimulant medications elevate dopamine levels, and these kids are now more motivated. They can focus and pay attention.

However, the assumption underneath giving these kids medications is that what we’re dealing with here is a genetic disorder, and the only way to deal with it is pharmacologically. And if you actually look at how the dopamine levels in a brain develop, if you look at infant monkeys and you measure their dopamine levels, and they’re normal when they’re with their mothers, and when you separate them from mothers, the dopamine levels go down within two or three days.

So, in other words, what we’re doing is we’re correcting a massive social problem that has to do with disconnection in a society and the loss of nurturing, non-stressed parenting, and we’re replacing that chemically. Now, the drugs—the stimulant drugs do seem to work, and a lot of kids are helped by it. The problem is not so much whether they should be used or not; the problem is that 80 percent of the time a kid is prescribed a medication, that’s all that happens. Nobody talks to the family about the family environment. The school makes no attempt to change the school environment. Nobody connects with these kids emotionally. In other words, it’s seen simply as a medical or a behavioral problem, but not as a problem of development.
Daisy pauses to scream a hearty YES!
You see, now, if your spouse or partner, adult spouse or partner, came home from work and didn’t give you the time of day and got on the phone and talked with other people all the time and spent all their time on email talking to other people, your friends wouldn’t say, "You’ve got a behavioral problem. You should try tough love." They’d say you’ve got a relationship problem. But when children act in these ways, we think we have a behavioral problem, we try and control the behaviors. In fact, what they’re showing us is that—my children showed this, as well—is that I had a relationship problem with them. They weren’t connected enough with me and too connected to the peer group. So that’s why they wanted to spend all their time with their peer group. And now we’ve given kids the technology to do that with.
...human beings are shaped very early by what happens to them in life. As a matter of fact, they’re shaped already by what happens in uterus. After 9/11, after the World Trade disasters in those terrorist attacks, some women who were pregnant suffered PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. And depending on what stage of pregnancy they suffered the PTSD, when they measured their children’s cortisol levels—cortisol being a body stress hormone—at one year of age, those kids had abnormal cortisol levels. In other words, their stress apparatus had been negatively affected by the mother’s stress during pregnancy. Similarly, for example, when I looked at the stress hormone levels of the children of Holocaust survivors with PTSD, the greater the degree of PTSD of the parent, the higher the stress hormone level of the child.

So, how we see the world, whether the world is a hostile or friendly place, whether we have to always do for ourselves and look after others or whether we can actually expect and receive help from the world, whether or not the world is hostile or friendly, and indeed our stress physiology, is very much shaped by those early experiences.
Listen to/read the whole thing; Dr Maté has an overall approach you probably haven't heard before. And I think it helps immeasurably that Dr Maté has ADD himself, and has the necessary inside-understanding to talk about the issues.

His newest book is titled In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, which I have just ordered from AMAZON.

(Thanks Chaos!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On Roe (Norma McCorvey)

Norma McCorvey (on left) aka ROE of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision (which made abortion legal in 1973), with her attorney Gloria Allred, at a pro-choice demonstration in Washington DC during the early 90s. (Photo from PBS)

NOTE: I first wrote this in July 2009, after Norma was arrested at a pro-life demonstration. I am re-running it here this weekend, the 38th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.--DD.

Jovan reported that Norma McCorvey was arrested for demonstrating during Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings. Once pro-choice, McCorvey met up with the Operation Rescue people while defending a women's clinic and started attending church with some of their members. She was subsequently baptized in 1995 and now strongly identifies as pro-life.

News of McCorvey's recent arrest sent me looking for an incisive article I once read about her in the Village Voice, written right after her conversion to the pro-life side...which of course, I can't find now. The author made the case that the pro-choice, feminist movement had systematically dissed McCorvey as a low-class white-trash embarrassment, sending her over to the pro-life side, which welcomed her and feted her. She was in the widely-viewed pro-life documentary titled I Was Wrong (2007). She speaks to pro-life groups throughout the country, and tells them she feels used.

Was she used?

The article pointed out that Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued Roe, went and got her own abortion while the case was going on, while McCorvey was forced to go ahead and give birth. Why didn't Weddington use herself as "Roe"?

McCorvey and Weddington comprise the tale of two pregnant women, one from the elite class, one from poverty. One argues Roe v. Wade and becomes internationally famous, the youngest lawyer to win a Supreme Court case. She writes books, holds elected office, teaches at UT Austin, and now has her own Weddington Center. By contrast, McCorvey earns her keep by traveling the church-chicken-supper circuit, telling people that Weddington used her for her own political and professional ends.

Did she?

I think so.

As one who has also been repeatedly dissed, let me say, I know the feeling. Feminism often has the unfortunate appearance of a high-class country club, filled with educated, affluent, snooty white people. This is one reason activists like Renee call themselves womanists. This is why many working-class women say "I'm not a feminist, but..." Feminism is often seen as the territory of highly-educated, elite women. When one of these influential feminists disses you and acts like you don't know any better (especially if you are my age, or Norma's age), it can be deeply humiliating. And confusing. I can remember one of the huge pro-choice rallies in Washington, DC in the early 90s (see photo above, McCorvey and Allred) during which McCorvey was not permitted to speak--an incident also mentioned in the Village Voice piece. Why wasn't she? Too redneck and uneducated? Good Lord, people, the damn SCOTUS ruling was named after her!

I can just imagine Norma tearfully wiping away tears in some fast-food restroom somewhere, after the rally, wondering why they would not allow the person whose life was necessary for the ruling, to speak to a crowd of women celebrating said ruling.

Or maybe she did know why. I mean, I immediately knew why. And if you have ever listened to McCorvey, you know she is pretty intelligent.

And now, I echo the Village Voice author, whose name I can not remember (and therefore can not properly credit), who suggested there was an element of "I'll show you bitches!" involved in Norma McCorvey's defection.

And there is also the matter of basic respect for who she is, in a culture of symbols.

It is no mere coincidence Norma eventually converted to Catholicism under the auspices of the head of Priests for Life, Father Frank Pavone. Catholics understand martyrdom and sainthood. Norma being USED by the pro-choice side became a form of martyrdom. Every time the words Roe v. Wade are used by the mass media, Norma is martyred once again. She is used by a group of people, so the story goes, who needed a pregnant, poverty-stricken stooge who could not afford an illegal abortion. Her own lawyer sure could afford one, and didn't waste time procuring one. Why didn't she do the same for Norma?

She needed Norma. Norma was Roe.


This whole story makes me cringe; I am typing it in perpetual-cringe position. But I think I know why Norma turned to the other side, where she is a pretty good fundraiser, the Catholic pro-lifers tell me. Most have heard her speak at the aforementioned chicken-suppers. She is a very good speaker, intelligent and earnest. Regular folks. She makes an impact. And when she talks about being used? Home run. Every time. The deep pockets open up and the collection plate is full-to-overflowing.

What does it mean for feminism that one of our heroines, a woman we should have honored and given a place of respect, has jumped ship? A woman who was a lesbian (I am not sure if she still identifies this way, but at one time was in a long-term relationship with a woman and called herself lesbian) and should have seen us as the allies, and not them?

I consider the case of Roe, Norma McCorvey, our own failure. It's on us.

Can we please have some class awareness in feminism? Can we stop exploiting each other? Will this ever happen?

And meanwhile, let me guess....who bailed Norma out of jail?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Old School with Daisy

I thought this was the Stylistics, said Daisy, embarrassed. (An honest mistake; they were both from Philadephia, okay?)

Sideshow - Blue Magic

And this IS the Stylistics:

Betcha By Golly Wow - The Stylistics

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nikki Haley begins terrorizing the poor and disabled of South Carolina

The mainstream press can't stay away from the story of the first woman governor of a deep-south state, born to immigrants. Nikki Haley is the lady of the hour, much as she was during the summer, when she won the primary and made the cover of Newsweek.

Needless to say, all this press-adulation undoubtedly translates into political capital:

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she won a huge victory as the budget board unanimously accepted her choice to run the agency that oversees the state's finances and bureacracy.

The five-member Budget and Control Board on Thursday approved Eleanor Kitzman as executive director.

Unanimous votes are rare on the board led by the governor. For eight years, former Gov. Mark Sanford fought with the board's legislative leaders.

Haley says she hopes the vote is a sign of things to come.
I'm sure it is.

It is notable that Haley is appointing a lot of women to state positions. Not my favorite women, but women nonetheless. (It's a mama grizzly thing, I wouldn't understand). From WIS-TV:
Haley nominated attorney and former prosecutor Lillian Koller to take over as head of South Carolina's Department of Social Services. "She brings a true amount of experience in a time where South Carolina needs it," said Governor Haley, "She brings a lot of reform and conservatism at a time where South Carolina wants it."
Koller promises to cut more services.

Which services are those? I wasn't aware we had any social services left, but I'm sure they'll find something to take away from us.

And guess what? LET THE GAMES BEGIN! Lawsuits Follow New DSS Director Lillian Koller To SC:
In November of 2010, a lawsuit was filed claiming the state of Hawaii was falling behind on handing out food stamps to families in need. Federal guidelines require food stamp applications to be processed within 30 days.

Documents in the suit filed against the state of Hawaii and director Koller say that only 78 percent of applications were processed on time. During that same time, the departments staff was cut and the state lowered the eligibility requirements for food stamps, encouraging more to apply.

If the federal government finds that states don't distribute 80 percent of the benefits in a month there could be fines. So far, Hawaii hasn't been fined.
South Carolina gets Hawaii's cast-offs! Oh goodie.

And today, Haley outlines cuts of just more than $110 million:
Gov. Nikki Haley will propose cutting payments to doctors and hospitals for treating poor patients in a state-run health care program; requiring the use of generic cancer, HIV/AIDS and mental health drugs; and eliminating state funding of South Carolina ETV and the state Arts Commission in her State of the State speech tonight, according to an Associated Press interview.
The largest savings would come from reducing what doctors and hospitals are paid to treat patients in Medicaid, the state-run health insurance program for the poor and disabled. For each percentage point reduction, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services, the state could save about $10 million. Lawmakers previously have barred the agency from cutting the rates that the state pays doctors and hospitals.

Allen Stalvey, vice president of advocacy and communications for the S.C. Hospital Association, said hospitals have been preparing for this news.
Hospitals are working on alternatives to a rate cut, Stalvey said, including increasing the $264 million in taxes that they pay to the state each year.

Still, Stalvey said, health care providers will be impacted.

“The small rural hospitals,” he said, “it could be disastrous for them.”

Ken May, executive director of the S.C. Arts Commission, said losing $2 million in state funding would shutter that commission's doors.

The commission, formed in 1967, supports South Carolina's arts community through arts education programs that bring authors, artists and dancers into schools, grants to individual artists, and operating money given to local arts organizations.

Much of the commission's state funding is matched by federal dollars.

"Cutting our funding means leaving federal dollars on the table and doing serious damage to the arts statewide," May said, adding a thriving arts community helps attract new industry and an educated workforce to the state.

"Everybody who talks about the world economy realizes that, if we are going to succeed, it must be through creativity and innovation. It's not going to be through blue-collar jobs or cheap labor. That's all gone overseas. If we're going to attract the people who work in those emerging industries, we have to offer a quality of life that attracts them," he said.

Eliminating the state portion of ETV’s budget would save $9.5 million.

Requiring poor patients on Medicaid and mental health patients to use generic cancer, HIV/AIDS and other drugs would save $991,000 a year, Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Jeff Stensland said.
Good thing I can get North Carolina public TV from here. Good thing I have medical insurance.

And those are the only good things I can think of in response to this horrific bullshit right now.

Patched back into the world's mixing board

The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena: the Videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind's eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television. --Brian O'Blivion, Videodrome

In David Cronenberg's groundbreaking film Videodrome, Brian O'Blivion's Cathode Ray Mission allows homeless people the chance to watch lots of TV, which O'Blivion believes is just as crucial as providing food, clothing and shelter. By watching endless TV-blather, homeless persons relearn social-interactions and regain the necessary media-awareness and abilities they have lost by being disconnected.

Watching TV will help patch them back into the world's mixing board... Where else do we learn how to act in a socially acceptable way?-- Bianca O'Blivion, Videodrome


I didn't have internet service for 5 days. I would almost compare it to drug withdrawal. No doubt, it's as bad as television withdrawal. Brian and Bianca (see above) were right; I felt as if I had been disconnected from the world's mixing board. I took necessary refuge in my second drug of choice, Law and Order reruns.

After the third day (suitably biblical), I felt better, actually more at peace and thinking in whole chapters, rather than in sentences or paragraphs.

When is the last time you took an extended internet break? For how long? I've taken blog-breaks for sure, but few wholesale internet breaks, usually only for a weekend at a stretch. None for as long as 5 days! (I have often wondered if I COULD, frankly; this was totally without my consent, or I probably wouldn't have taken this one!)

What did you notice, whilst disconnected?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nikki Haley is South Carolina's first woman governor

Well, they did it. It happened. It's official.

Nikki Haley, born Nimrata Randhawa, is now South Carolina's first female and first non-white governor. (Photo at left by Gerry Melendez of the The State newspaper.) She is also, at present, the youngest governor in the USA.

Some of her inaugural address is below. She is very open about her scary, Tea Party agenda, and even references the Tea Party in her speech:

Before we talk about our bright future, it's important to pay respect to our past. Our state has an incredibly powerful and rich history. It is one that has not always been pleasant, but one that can teach us many great lessons.

We have a history of fierce independence, and that independence has some remarkable relevance for us today. While in 1773 it was the Tea Party in Boston that became famous, there was also a whole lot of tea dumped in the Charleston harbor that December. We declared independence from Great Britain some four months before Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. And at Kings Mountain just over our northern border, our local militia – not professional soldiers – helped turn the tide of the Revolutionary War that brought us the freedom we still enjoy to this day.

Let's see: tax protests, tea parties, the grassroots beating the professionals – it does have a certain familiar ring to it.
Doesn't it, though?

Daisy pauses to suppress retching, collects herself, and continues...
Of course, when talking about our past, it would be wrong to mention our greatness during the revolutionary period without noting the ugliness of much that followed. The horrors of slavery and discrimination need not be retold here. They too remain a part of our history and a part of the fabric of our lives.

But I do take comfort in, and agree with, the words of columnist George Will, when he recently wrote this about our state's past struggles: “If the question is which state has changed most in the last half-century, the answer might be California. But if the question is which state has changed most for the better, the answer might be South Carolina.”

I stand before you today, the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. Growing up in rural, small town South Carolina, my family experienced this state and this country at its best. No, not every day was perfect. No, we were not always free from the burdens faced by those who look and sound different.

But we counted our blessings, and my parents reminded me and my brothers and sister every day how blessed we were to live in this country. We saw the constant example of neighbors helping neighbors.

For us, happiness existed in not knowing what we didn't have, and in knowing that what we did have was the opportunity to better our lives through hard work and strong values.

You see, my mother was offered one of the first female judgeships in her native country, but was unable to serve on the bench because of the challenges of being a woman in India. Now she sits here today watching her daughter become Governor of South Carolina, the state she proudly calls her home. When you grow up with a mom like that, the word “can't” is not in your vocabulary.

I will always be the proud daughter of immigrants. I will always cherish our family's experience. And I will always strive in my actions and in my words to make South Carolina a place where all of our children, regardless of race or gender, know that unlimited opportunities for happiness and success await them.
As long as you're a Republican!
Today, our state and our nation face difficult times. Far too many of our fellow citizens are without a job. Our economy is not growing as it should. Our state budget has its largest shortfall ever.

But when I survey this troubled landscape, I am not discouraged. We have faced tougher times before and come through them. We know that tough times can produce some of the best decisions. And it is our duty to make this time of challenge into the opportunity it can be to turn our state around. It is indeed a new day, and on this new day, we must commit ourselves to the proposition that failure is not an option.

When I think on our present economic challenges, I am reminded of the words of Margaret Thatcher, who said: “Once we concede that public spending and taxation are (more) than a necessary evil, we have lost sight of the core values of freedom.”
Did she really quote Margaret Thatcher?!

Oh dear God, we got trouble. Can the infrastructure of this state stand four more years of total neglect? Who is going to fix the fucking POTHOLES?

Nearly two years ago, the federal government in Washington decided to transfer its irresponsible fiscal practices to the states. And our state, like every other, accepted it. When we produce this year's budget, we will see the heavy price we pay for having done so.

In our coming actions, we must recognize that we will not produce the jobs our people deserve by placing higher tax burdens on our workers and our small businesses. And we will not reach prosperity by increasing state government's share of our economy.

Be assured, however, that I have every confidence we will achieve a much more prosperous place. And we will do so by going back to that spirit of independence that fueled South Carolina's leading role in defeating the strongest nation on earth two centuries ago.

When we embark on this new journey toward growth and prosperity, we must do so together, with one vision. A vision that is focused on the success of our families and businesses is a vision that is not impaired by partisanship, personalities, or distractions. We don't have time for that, and I won't stand for it.

Many times over the last eighteen months I asked South Carolinians to join a movement. That movement was never about one person or one election. Our state constitution requires the Governor and the General Assembly to work together to serve South Carolina well. And work together we will.

But the energy that drives our cooperation does not come from within this beautiful capitol building behind me. The energy comes from the sound of the people's voices. The success of the movement I asked you to join will be realized when elected officials are accountable for their votes, when citizen participation in government reaches new heights, and when the voice heard loudest is neither mine nor any other elected officials', but is that of the taxpayers of this state.

In the days, weeks, and months ahead, we have the opportunity to reduce state spending and make it more efficient. We have the opportunity to improve education and allow our children to be successful regardless of where they are born. We have the opportunity to strengthen our small businesses to help them create the jobs our people need. We have the opportunity to restructure our state government to make it more transparent, more accountable, and more respectful of the people of South Carolina.

We must seize these inspiring opportunities. If we do, we will have a state where good jobs are in constant supply, where South Carolina becomes the envy of the nation, and where we are so free of political distractions that the media is forced to report on good news. Just imagine that.

That is my South Carolina. It's the South Carolina I want for my children and for every family in our great state.

So, with faith in God, who knows what is right, And faith in our own ability to use the skills and judgment He gives us to do what is right, we can make this vision a reality.

Thank you. May God bless South Carolina. And may He continue to bless the United States of America.
Daisy sobs late into the night, whilst worrying about the roads, the schools, even the cops. I hope nothing catches on fire...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nix on Coexist

Here at Ground Zero of the Tea Party Movement, I get lots of reactions to my bumper stickers, some almost violent. On Saturday night, the day Gabrielle Giffords was shot, I found a business card stuck onto my windshield. It was stamped with the identifiable, well-known COEXIST design (at left), which is one of my bumper stickers.

The card explained, on this day of all days, why we can't co-exist:

Can all world religions coexist? Does it matter what you believe? Does your belief make it true? Imagine having to jump from an airplane that was about to crash. If you had three possible items to strap to your back, which would you choose: a tire, a briefcase full of money, or a parachute? There is only one right answer that can save your life. This is why all religions can not coexist. They each give different ideas about God, but only one is true! Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) He made an exclusive claim. Either it is true or it is not.
There was more, of course, but you get the drift.

Was the day a coincidence? Maybe.

And maybe not, too.


From Slate, more on The Tea Party and the Tucson Tragedy by Jacob Weisberg:
It is appropriate, however, to consider what was swirling outside Loughner's head. To call his crime an attempted assassination is to acknowledge that it appears to have had a political and not merely a personal context. That context wasn't Islamic radicalism, Puerto Rican independence, or anarcho-syndicalism. It was the anti-government, pro-gun, xenophobic populism that flourishes in the dry and angry climate of Arizona. Extremist shouters didn't program Loughner, in some mechanistic way, to shoot Gabrielle Giffords. But the Tea Party movement did make it appreciably more likely that a disturbed person like Loughner would react, would be able to react, and would not be prevented from reacting, in the crazy way he did.

South Carolina snow!

Is purty! (From my Flickr page.)

I read the news today oh boy...

We've been comfortably snowed in, but today I actually have to go to work in this mess! Ahhh, she said wistfully, our surprise southern snow vacation is over. No more Law and Order marathons for me! (It was almost as great as a real holiday!) I'll try to post some purty snow photos later.

I have been so upset over the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, that I have not been able to adequately verbalize my feelings, except to repeat some variation of I TOLD YOU SO. As I've said here numerous times, it's getting bad out there. I am at Ground Zero of Reload Territory, and I've worried something like this would happen. The Tea Party proudly and routinely traffics in incendiary, artillery-oriented language, and don't let them tell you any different, now that they have this on their heads. Suddenly, those little symbols on Sarah Palin's website are not cross-hairs, oh no, they are SURVEYOR SYMBOLS. (Do you believe that shit? Talk about memory holes, George Orwell, call your office.)

This is what transpires when extremists like Palin and Beck continually fan the flames of Tea Party discontent, using dangerous rhetoric... AND (incidentally) we have a clutch of disaffected, angry young men with semi-automatic weapons running loose throughout the land. Presto.

I'll be back after a trudge through the arctic. For more reading:

The "Politicized Mind" Of Gabrielle Giffords (Andrew Sullivan)

Assassination Attempt In Arizona (Paul Krugman)

Missing from Arizona shooting debate: Guns (Politico)

Second Amendment Remedies (Dave Dubya's Freedom Rants)

Earlier Thoughts on Gun Nuttery and Right Wing Demagoguery (Cogitamus)

"On Extreme Right And Left" (Andrew Sullivan)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bad girls

Anne Francis has died. (Thanks to Barbara on Facebook for alerting me to this cultural milestone!)

Many of us baby-boomer girls remember her as HONEY WEST, private eye with a pet ocelot, who could beat up men with her superior karate abilities. We never missed her! I even had the Honey West doll, if you can believe it. (Luckily, she wore Barbie-issue clothes.)

There was no other woman on 60s television who came close, actually allowed to kick men's asses, until Batgirl and Barbara Stanwyck (on THE BIG VALLEY; she didn't blink an eye when she drew her gun on evil interlopers). [NOTE: Beware, annoying 60s violin-laden TV music at the link.]

Sci-fi fans will certainly remember Anne Francis from the great 50s cult movie FORBIDDEN PLANET (with Leslie Nielsen), where she swims naked (on another planet, of course, where the rules were different). She was also the star of the famous Twilight Zone episode titled THE AFTER HOURS (where the PR-photo is from). In THE AFTER HOURS, she plays a department-store mannequin come to life, who has forgotten that she is a mannequin. Creepy and melancholy, all at once, as the Rod Serling-written episodes tended to be.

Few of us children who saw that particular Twilight Zone, could ever pass a store-mannequin again without thinking of it.

Do they come to life at the end of the day?

She was wonderful, and beautiful. Goodbye Anne.


And... speaking of mannequins (yes, that was mean)... she hasn't even taken office yet, but governor-in-waiting Nikki Haley has put us all on notice that she intends to make sure nobody in South Carolina will have government-supported health care... isn't that a comfort? She has appointed one Tony Keck, to go after poor, sick and disabled people with gusto:

Nearly 2.3 million residents covered by private insurers would face lifetime limits on their coverage.

New insurance plans no longer would be required to cover preventive services, such as mammograms and flu shots
As if the state wasn't poor enough.

On the plus side (see, I'm not mean all the time), Haley has appointed Lynne Rogers to head South Carolina's Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services.:
She is the first African-American named by Haley to lead an agency.

At the same time Haley announced Rogers’ selection, the governor-elect unveiled a plan to merge the missions of Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services.

Such a coalition will create efficiency in incarceration-related issues to save taxpayers millions, Haley said.

Haley said she will support a proposal of Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Bamberg, to make the probation agency a division of Corrections. She has promised to seek consolidation of some agencies.
According to non-stop Tea Party Movement/talk radio propaganda, South Carolinians are gonna save SO MUCH MONEY after Haley takes office, we will be virtually rolling in dough.

Oh yeah.

I can't wait.


Beep beep! Uh-huh!

Bad Girls - Donna Summer (1979)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Musical interlude

Time for tuneage! (Or is it spelled tunage?) Here are my earworms for the past few weeks; I've been delinquent in not sharing! A variety of styles represented, you should be able to find at least ONE you like.


In this strangely-staged video, Steve Winwood looks like a boy scout. Come to think of it, he still does. Also, I know he is talking about tribesmen, but I always think of Marvel comics Headmen. I blame my spouse for that!

40,000 Headmen - Traffic


I debated whether I should jeopardize my musical cred by playing a JOURNEY song ((gasp)) -- an 80s-era secret guilty pleasure of mine, along with Duran Duran. I figured if they were good enough for Tony Soprano, they're good enough for me. Just listen to these purty power chords. (my favorite is at 1:07-14---yowee!) And check out that utterly flawless, bang-up finish.

I love this because it brings back the period surrounding my second divorce quite vividly. Ironically, I wasn't having any fun at the time... but your youth is still your youth, even when it sucks... and one day, believe it or not, you will wax nostalgic over even the suckiest times.

The Girl Can't Help It - Journey


Did I say Duran Duran?

It is notable that (unlike today) all of the women in this video appear to be of a reasonably healthy weight.

Girls on Film - Duran Duran


You can close your eyes - James Taylor and Carly Simon


I frequently quote Billy Jack on blogs ("I try, I really do") and only recently discovered the kidz never even heard of him. Admittedly, I forced my daughter, Delusional Precious, to watch Billy Jack when she was 14 or so (the age I was when I saw it), and she rolled her eyes during most of it. So, I will simply show this montage of clips with the theme song, which you may have heard before.

Time out for hippies!

One Tin Soldier (theme from Billy Jack) - Coven


There are several excellent versions of this on YouTube, including a great live one w/Crazy Horse, but I wanted the one with fiddles, horse-clopping sounds and Nicolette Larson. (R.I.P.) And whaddaya know, I found it, played right off the record. :)

Comes a Time - Neil Young w/Nicolette Larson


I was planning to save these last two for Instrumental Oldies, Pt 2, but decided to play them now... since it appears I will never get around to fabled Part Two. I was doing pretty good to post the first one!

Time is Tight - Booker T and the MGs


Not everyone has an iphone to tell them the names of songs! Whenever this gets played in the store where I work, someone asks me who it is. This was the 'official' video; the original song was well over 7 minutes. (Again, the presence of dancing women of healthy weights! Pretty radical stuff!)

Rise - Herb Alpert

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Of dogs and men

:: Someone helpfully sent me this link, regarding my last post. The link proclaims that Uncle Cecil was dead wrong: hounds are uniformly regarded as dumb, listed among the dumbest breeds.

My first thought: there is even classism among ranking dogs! Breeds intended for low-class work like hunting are ranked lowest in intelligence. Guarding people, now that's important! Here we see a unique mix of both classism and speciesism at work.

Give me a good basset hound, bulldog (go black and red!), beagle or bloodhound any day of the week! Workers of the world unite! (Not into Afghan hounds, because the shedding is incredible. No offense to them, though, all the Afghan hounds I've met are very friendly and pleasant.)

:: Recommending Ethecofem, a feminist blog which is very fair to the guys. Probably too fair for my liking, but I enjoy the writers there, especially April.

I've been thinking lately, of how men are treated in sexist ways, and I came up with one: men are expected to be Mr Fixit. Whenever something goes wrong in a house or car (which is, sooner or later, bound to happen), men are expected to know how to Fix It, while us girls stand around with our thumbs up our asses, as we say here in the south. In fact, I think this phenomenon may be way WORSE in the south.

In the north, the question was, "Can your husband fix it?" while here in the south, it's more of a declaration: "Get your husband to fix it!"

He is no more of a Mr Fixit than I am a Ms Fixit, which is to say, not at all. He is considered more of a failure for this than I am, though, which goes without saying. Men are supposed to know how to fix cars, light fixtures, stuck windows and the like. They just learn by osmosis!

This is also deeply ableist, which also goes without saying. Whichever man doesn't learn to Fix Things, at least here among the working classes, is regarded as somewhat suspect.

A man who was close to me long ago, once told me he was embarrassed that he didn't particularly like sports, didn't keep up with the teams and scores and bowl games and World Serieses and such. He told me he thought this was a form of language among men that he never learned, that seems to transcend race, class, age and other differences.

Mr Daisy is very much into that language, so I have listened over the years, as he talks to strange men in strange places, How bout them dawgs? (see above reference to black and red) I've listened to delivery guys talk to white-collar supervisors, How bout them dawgs? I've heard doctors and patients, men of radically different classes, How bout them dawgs? Etc. It really is a language that men are expected to participate in, and a man is somewhat suspect (or regarded as standoffish, unfriendly and/or aloof) if he doesn't join in.

I am also reminded of that wonderful movie The Birdcage, wherein Robin Williams (Armand) tries to tutor Nathan Lane (Albert) in how to sound like a proper heterosexual man:

Armand: Al, you old son of a bitch! How ya doin? How do you feel about that call today? I mean the Dolphins! Fourth-and-three play on their 30 yard line with only 34 seconds to go!

Albert: How do you think I feel? Betrayed, bewildered...

Wrong response?

Monday, January 3, 2011

SC dog is smartest in the world!

At left: Chaser the wonder dog, photo by Ken Osburn of The Greenville News.

Mr Daisy's late Uncle Cecil had the ability to train dogs to do all kinds of tricks. He liked to hunt, so he preferred hounds, especially beagles. One beagle had been his favorite, the smartest dog in the world, he said. There was a large painted portrait of the late beagle on his wall. "I loved that dog," he would say wistfully, showing the picture to visitors.

The best trick the dog did (I regret I can't remember the pooch's name) was pick up lettered blocks BY LETTER. Uncle Cecil would keep the blocks in a little bag, and then spread them out on the floor as the dog sat obediently and waited. He would scatter and arrange the lettered wooden blocks, and then, tell the dog to pick up the letter....B!

And the dog did.

Everyone was amazed.

Uncle Cecil would gather up the blocks in the bag and do it over and over, spilling the blocks onto the floor as the dog watched. He would spread the blocks out carefully again, then...F! (He changed the letter each time, which was the really incredible thing.)

And the dog picked up F.

There was never any rhyme or reason to the letters chosen; it was never the same letter every time. People couldn't believe a dog was so smart. They came from miles around to see Uncle Cecil's ultra-smart dog.

Can you guess the trick?

I thought of Uncle Cecil's dog when I heard about Chaser, the smartest dog in upstate South Carolina, maybe the world. He will be profiled on the PBS show NOVA (on February 9th), since he has learned 1000+ words, more than any dog on record. He has over 1000 toys, all with different names, and when he is asked to fetch them by name, he does.

Okay, Uncle Cecil made me skeptical, so I will have to watch NOVA and see if this is for real.


It’s a scientific record.

Chaser is top dog in the current issue of the scientific journal “Behavioural Processes,” as noted in the Christmas Day edition of “The New Scientist,” and will be featured in a Feb. 9 NOVA documentary on PBS television.

Soon after [retired Wofford College psychology professor John] Pilley brought Chaser home as an 8-week-old puppy, he read an article by German researchers about a border collie that could understand 200 words. Pilley took that as a challenge.

“Border collies, because of their history of listening to the master and keeping their eyes simultaneously on the herd, may be especially prepared to learn language,” Pilley said.

Pilley and Alliston Reid, a Wofford psychology professor, with the help of some students, began three years of research to gain new insight into the intellect of border collies.

“These dogs can understand,” Reid said. “If you own a dog, you know the dog has emotions and is an intelligent being.”

In controlled experiments, Chaser demonstrated that she could remember each of her 1,022 toys by name. With that number, the two psychologists — who had to write the name on each toy to remember them all — decided there probably was no upper limit to what Chaser could learn.

Here is the trick:

Uncle Cecil had no reason to put the blocks in a bag. Also, he would do the trick over and over, but only after putting the blocks in a bag and repeating the whole ritual. He never asked the dog to pick up two lettered blocks IN A ROW. Even so, no one ever guessed his secret.

He would carefully spread the blocks on the floor... and it was always the last block he touched.

Sometimes, Uncle Cecil would touch one just at the last second, almost as an "afterthought" to try and fool him, but the dog always did the trick correctly. He always knew which block he was supposed to pick up, but waited to be "told". Uncle Cecil would tell him to pick up the last one he touched (A! P! M!)--and only then, would he pick up the correct wooden block. The dog greatly enjoyed all the laughter, applause and attention, wagging his tail enthusiastically; he loved doing the blocks trick!

Nobody ever figured it out. Uncle Cecil did not tell the secret until after his beloved canine friend had passed on.

He said he could not bear to teach the trick to another dog.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Old movie musings, part 8723

Mr Daisy is watching Fate Is the Hunter (1964) on Turner Classic Movies, featuring the very beautiful and talented Nancy Kwan. (at left, on the cover of LIFE MAGAZINE)

Kwan first hit the big time co-starring with William Holden in The World of Suzie Wong (1960), a movie I admit I loved as a little girl. (Yes, we all freely consumed racism and sexism with our breakfast cereal, didn't we?)

One of my favorite blogs, Restructure!, once addressed that signature "Chinese" riff that always pops up in old movies like Suzie Wong. Really a great post, and I just thought of it, so decided to link it now (better late than never!). Short version (but read it all): the little tune is a western invention. Who knew? I had always assumed it was from a real song, possibly a Chinese nursery rhyme (or equivalent):

This riff [click on link to hear sound file] appears in orientalist American and British pop songs like “Kung Fu Fighting” (1974) and “Turning Japanese” (1980). However, the “proto-cliché” or rhythmic pattern of “da-da-da-da, da da, da da, daaah!” originated in the 1800s, and has since been ubiquitous in pop culture to signify (and other) Asian culture or Asian people.
As I said in the comments of the post, my grandmother had an old music-box with a "china doll" figure that spun around, as a variation of the tune played. I was surprised to learn it was a westernized fake.

This in turn reminded me of the first record by Japanese band Yellow Magic Orchestra back in 1978, in which they made various "American sounds" (including a song that sounded like the well-known Marlboro cigarette commercial from the 60s). They imitated raucous American laughter, doing impersonations of white American male haw-haw-hawing. I was jarred by it and wondered if that was how Americans sounded to Asians? (I always wonder about stereotypes of Americans in other places.)


My blog has been linked again (oh goody!), but the comments are so uniformly hostile and negative, I've decided not to go back and read the rest of them. Sorry kids, grandma is sitting this one out.

Self-preservation in Blogdonia! I am learning, at long last. :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011


When the blue meanies in Blogdonia get nasty with me, they make fun of my official Blogdonia name. :(

Airhead, Deadbrain, etc. "Your name is perfect!" they like to sneer at me. *sigh*

And so, my first short post for the new year (getting in shape for my new blog-habits, shorter posts! more often!) will be to EXPLAIN "Deadhead" (noun) and "Deadheading" (verb).

Deadhead (noun): Fan of the Grateful Dead. (whom I hope need no introduction!)

Deadheading (aviation):

term used for a return flight made by a commercial aircraft without any cargo or paying passengers on board.

By extension, a member of an airline's flight staff carried free of charge but not working is known as a deadhead. This most often happens when airline crew are located in the wrong place and need to travel to take up their duties. This is also known as 'positioning.'
Deadheading (gardening):
refers to the removal of dead or spent flowers either to encourage more flowering or to improve the general appearance of the plant. Most annuals and many perennials will continue to bloom throughout the growing season if deadheaded. Rudbeckia and Echinacea are good examples of perennials that benefit from deadheading.
Deadheading (railroads):
when a crew is transported from one terminal to another, or needs to be transported to pick up a train. When deadheading they may travel by train or auto.

It also refers to the empty, non-revenue-generating movement of a passenger train to a station or yard as required by the schedule. These moves are usually performed to position the equipment and crews for an ensuing, scheduled revenue (passenger-carrying) run.
I like all those definitions!

Admittedly, the floral reference is especially appropriate for me right now; we need to prune the tops of flowers to make the overall plant stronger. Indeed, we certainly do! The roots also benefit from generous deadheading. And what a coincidence, that I am in the process of doing this in my own life.

The name is still accurate and always will be.

Happy New Year, everyone!