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Posts from April 2005

Saturday Poetry Blogging: Psalm 126

April is the poet’s month.

While this secessionist republic of one normally adheres to a strict separation of Church and State, the Ministry of Culture has somewhat looser rules, and in honor of the first day of Passover (which begins at sundown this evening), this weekend’s poem is the 126th Psalm, the song of the returned exiles, a song of ascents. Variations on the Psalm are a common part of the Haggadah used for Passover seders. (Sidebar: you might also be interested to read Leona Green’s The Haggadah Revisited, one woman’s story of her search for a feminist Haggadah.)

I’ve used the New Jerusalem Bible translation here because that is my favorite of the ones that I had around the house. Note that if you were singing aloud this at Passover, you would (among other things) say Adonai, not YHWH.

L’Chaim, y’all.

Psalm 126

When YHWH brought back Zion’s captives,
we lived in a dream
then our mouths filled with laughter,
and our lips with song.

Then the nations kept saying, What great deeds
YHWH has done for them!

Yes, YHWH did great deeds for us,
and we were overjoyed.

Bring back, YHWH, our people from captivity
like torrents in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
sing as they reap.

He went off, went off weeping,
carrying the seed.
He comes back, comes back singing
bringing in his sheaves.

News from the front, or: Andrea Dworkin Was Right #4

(Link via Amazonfemme 2005-01-06.)

FORT WORTH, Texas – A man sentenced to just four months in prison for killing his wife, after a jury concluded he acted in a blind fury, drew a 15-year term for wounding her boyfriend.

The jury at his 1999 trial found Watkins guilty of murdering his wife but decided he acted with “sudden passion” when he discovered her with Fontenot.

In a decision that provoked an outcry, the jury recommended 10 years’ probation. Because of the jury’s recommendation, the most the judge could have given Watkins was six months behind bars. He sentenced Watkins to four months.

Watkins had admitted the attack but claimed temporary insanity. Texas defines “sudden passion” as being so overcome by rage, resentment or fear that the defendant is “incapable of cool reflection.” Jurors said they recommended probation because they didn’t think Watkins could be rehabilitated in prison.

— The Miami Herald (2005-01-06): Man Sentenced in Attack on Wife’s Lover

(Links and commentary from Pinko Feminist Hellcat 2005-04-21: As long as we’ve got our priorities straight, Mr. Altman, Pinko Feminist Hellcat 2005-04-21: You broads have no sense of humor, feministing 2005-04-21, Pseudo-Adrienne at Alas, A Blog 2005-04-21, and Hopelessly Midwestern 2005-04-22, inter alia. I read most of these through Feminist Blogs, of course.)

(Columbia) April 20, 2005 – The State House took up two pieces of legislation this week aimed at protecting two different groups. Up for debate was cracking down on gamecock fighting and protecting victims of domestic violence.

A bill protecting cocks passed through the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. John Graham Altman (R-Dist. 119-Charleston) was in favor of the gamecock bill, “I was all for that. Cockfighting reminds me of the Roman circus, coliseum.”

A bill advocates say would protect victims against batterers was tabled, killing it for the year. Rep. Altman is on the committee that looked at the domestic violence bill, “I think this bill is probably drafted out of an abundance of ignorance.”

Both cockfighting and domestic violence are currently misdemeanor crimes, punishable by 30 days in jail. If the bill passes, cockfighting will become a felony, punishable by five years in jail. Domestic violence crimes will remain a misdemeanor.

Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Dist. 66-Orangeburg) says of the two bills, “What we have said by the actions of the Judiciary Committee is we aren’t going to create a felony if you beat your wife, partner. But now, if you’ve got some cockfighting going on, whoa! Wait a minute.”

Rep. Altman responds to the comparison, “People who compare the two > are not very smart and if you don’t understand the difference, Ms. Gormley, between trying to ban the savage practice of watching chickens trying to kill each other and protecting people rights in > CDV statutes, I’ll never be able to explain it to you in a 100 years ma’am.”

Rep. Cobb-Hunter says, “The reality is the law says domestic violence regardless, first, second or third offense is a misdemeanor, and what they passed yesterday says cockfighting is a felony.”

Rep. Altman spoke about domestic violence, “There ought not to be a second offense. The woman ought to not be around the man. I mean you women want it one way and not another. Women want to punish the men, and I do not understand why women continue to go back around men who abuse them. And I’ve asked women that and they all tell me the same answer, John Graham you don’t understand. And I say you’re right, I don’t understand.”

Gormley, “So it’s their fault for going back?”

Altman, “Now there you go, trying to twist that too. And I don’t mind you trying. It’s not the woman’s fault, it’s not blaming the victim, but tell me what self respecting person is going back around someone who beats them?”

— WISTV 10, Columbia, SC (2005-04-20): Judiciary Committee passes cockfighting bill, tables domestic violence bill

(More from Trish Wilson 2005-04-21)

The bill’s name is “Protect Our Women in Every Relationship (POWER)”. Mr. Altman had wondered why only women were mentioned, and not men. This isn’t about abused men. It about abused women because the vast majority of domestic violence victims are female.

One of the jokes committee members made had to do with the title of the bill. Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Harrison wanted to change it from “Protect Our Women in Every Relationship (POWER)” to “Protecting Our People in Every Relationship” Act, or “POPER.” A voice on the tape can be heard pronouncing it “Pop her.” Another voice then says, “Pop her again,” followed by laughter. Harrison said the advocates for abused women were “overreacting” and the comments weren’t intended to diminish the gravity of domestic violence. “If you take it that way, you’re overly sensitive,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the writings of insane radical feminists who nobody listens to or has even heard of and are clearly hysterical and completely out of touch with reality and who don’t ever write about politics anyway:

The state is male in the feminist sense: the law sees and treats women the way men see and treat women.

–Catharine MacKinnon (1989), Toward a Feminist Theory of the State, Chapter 8 ¶ 11


There is not a feminist alive who could possibly look to the male legal system for real protection from the systemized sadism of men. Women fight to reform male law, in the areas of rape and battery for instance, because something is better than nothing. In general, we fight to force the law to recognize us as the victims of the crimes committed against us, but the results so far have been paltry and pathetic.

–Andrea Dworkin (1979), For Men, Freedom of Speech; For Women, Silence Please, in Letters from a War Zone

The Spitting Image, “The Blood is Life” edition

Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Some days it’s just too easy.

Accipite et bibite omnes: hic calix novum aeternumque testamentum est in sanguine meo…

The time for merely rasing questions is over. With new evidence from ailecia (2005-04-20) and Norbizness (2005-04-19), there can now be little doubt about the nature of the papacy of Benedict XVI.

Van Helsing: Gentlemen, we are dealing with the undead.

photo: Pope Benedict XVI looking particularly undead film still: Dracula

Scholar: Nosferatu…

photo: Cardinal Ratzinger with a wild look in his eyes and a hand raised like a claw film still: Nosferatu

Van Helsing: Yes, Nosferatu.

The mask of the State slips, for a moment

(Via Catallarchy 2005-03-29.)

Treasury Secretary Snow came to Portland a couple of weeks ago to hawk the Bush administration’s Social Security plan (i.e., inflicting another goddamn government-controlled account on you and calling it freedom); Captain Arbyte attended and stuck him with a tough question that puts the lie to the ownership society rhetoric.. Good show; but it turns out that before he even got the chance to ask, Snow had already let the mask of the State slip, for just a moment, before hurriedly putting it back in place (emphasis mine):

The fourth question asked about potential changes to existing retirement accounts. Snow said that Social Security was never intended to be a person’s only source of retirement income, and that FDR was clear about this when the program was enacted. Snow praised Health Savings Accounts in particular as a savings vehicle. He said that the young are notoriously poor savers, and that it’s an advantage of the President’s system that it forces people to save. Foot in mouth, he quickly rephrased it as an opportunity. (Thanks Steve; I missed the rephrasing.) He finished by saying that he’s in favor of savings — well, at least he’s clearly not a Keynesian.

But, of course, that’s what the Bush plan is, no matter how lovely the mask and no matter how polite the language: it is a plan for forcing people to save for their retirement against their will. And, while we’re at it, so is Social Security: whether you think you have a better use for your money or not, whether you think you can get a better rate of return from your local bank or not, whether you would feel more secure not being dependent on U.S. government entitlements for your retirement income or not, you will be forced to turn the money over to the government’s approved uses, and you will be forced to do so under any Yet Another Damn Account plan that Bush and his gang come up with. Don’t believe me? Try not paying your Social Security tax and see what happens to you.

In the world of State bureau-speak, the State offers opportunities, not threats, and opportunities do not exist until the State creates them. In Snow’s world there are apparently no brokers, no banks, and no mason jars, so young people do not have an opportunity to save unless the government issues an edict forcing them to do it. Just like No Child Left Behind gives schools an opportunity to hire more credentialed teachers and increase standardized testing. Just like jail gives potheads an opportunity to reconsider their dissolute life. Just like the draft gave our boys an opportunity to serve their country. Of course, this is all the polite way of saying that no matter what individual people who know about their own lives better than you do decided the best course of action to be, given their present circumstances and limited resources, you will need to comply with what the government tells you is best and if you do not comply some dude with a gun or a billy-club will come to your house and make you do it, or take you to jail for not doing it, or both. As Ludwig von Mises said:

It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action…. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

–Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, ch. XXVII, p. 719

Now, let me be clear. The fact that an edict is backed by the threat of force is not a decisive argument against it. There is nothing wrong with using force to stop murder, or slavery, or robbery, or rape. But the point here is that if you are going to go around in favor of this or that government program you had better be clear about what that entails and it had better be something that it’s worth using force to achieve.

So, now, remind me. Why should I be forced to save for my own retirement?

The Spitting Image, “Bibite ex hoc omnes. Hic est enim sanguis meus” edition

Many people, like Echidne (2005-04-19), have raised questions about the newly appointed Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI (formerly Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger). Some take some comfort from the fact that he is old. I’m not so sure that will help, though; I have some serious questions about his papacy too:

Aren’t you drinking?

photo: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, with sunken eyes and a prominent widow's peak photo: Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula

I never drink… wine

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