Thursday, August 26, 2010


Okay readers, if you have any interest in hearing what I have to say when technical constraints prevent me from being long-winded, I'm on Twitter.  Vikki_Tikkitavi

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


While the rest of America seems to be tilting at 9/11 windmills, on this 90th anniversary of women finally being granted the right to vote by American men, I find my mind going to that Palin woman.

No, not the one who took Dan Quayle's "Dumbest Vice Presidential Pick EVER" title, although since I've gone there, how about that Ben Quayle, son of Dan Quayle?  The Quayles are an established Hoosier dynasty, but Ben apparently left Indiana and is running in Arizona.  I guess even Indiana has a limit on how much stupid they'll buy, although, wow, I thought once you were done in Indiana, you were pretty much done.  It's like finding out that there's an NFL team you can be traded to after the Lions don't want you anymore.

Ah, Arizona.  Remember when they were merely cranky about black people?

So, no, I don't really spend time thinking about Sarah Palin, although she did blip on my radar today when I found out that she criticized liberal women for "crucifying" women who don't support women's rights, and then she referred to us as witches.  I think.  She called us a "cackle of rads," although maybe she meant a gaggle, and meant to call us geese.  Frankly, I'm not sure what she meant, and it's best not to try to examine Palin-speak too directly, lest the sight of it turn you to stone.* 

The briefly governor Palin also accuses us rads of "hijacking feminism," although if you ask me, she's the one who's driving it like she stole it.

But it's the unfortunately-monikered Bristol Palin that I've been thinking about, because, for several months now, the Palin camp's message regarding Bristol has been that she has her life pulled together, and is totally still on message about abstinence being the only method of birth control that works, although, frankly, it certainly didn't work for her, did it? I mean, other methods of birth control have "failed to use correctly" statistics built into their effectiveness rates, so I don't know why abstinence shouldn't. If it did, can you imagine how low the effectiveness rating would be? I mean, when I was a teenager, I failed to be abstinent almost all of the time. I was smart enough, however, to have a back-up method - hence the gloriously child-free years that followed, during which I managed to not become the country's most egregious cautionary tale.  I mean, unless we're talking about how ill-advised it is to marry an actor, because then, yes, I would probably qualify as a precautionary tale.

But anyhoo, in short, the Palin camp message has been that Bristol is just fine, which, I have to admit, puzzles me.

Because is she's fine, and not crazy, or damaged, or slutty, or disease-ridden, then what the fuck are we talking about with all this blather about teenagers needing to avoid sex? 

If she's fine, then no harm done, I mean, except for the unwanted baby part, which could have been avoided if she'd slipped a raincoat on Levi's Johnston.  So, except for having to drag that kid around, she's okay, right, Palins? 

Then why not solve the having-a-baby part of the equation, Mr. & Mrs. Palin, instead of trying to prevent the sex part?  Because I don't know if you know this - I mean it seriously seems like you may not - but you can easily prevent sex from resulting in babies.  Seriously, you can - it's almost laughably simple. Whereas, trying to keep teenagers from having sex...pretty much impossible.

Unless...they have another reason for keeping teenage girls from having sex?  Because we all know that it's teenage girls that we sort of collectively are really interested in keeping celibate, right?  Take a look at that picture of that "Purity Ball" I put up there.  You don't see any little dudes hanging out making creepy-ass pledges to their opposite-sex parents, do ya?

And look, there was just this study done, that proves that merely having sex does not affect a student's academic performance, either. 

So can we all just agree then, that what we really want to control, is not the consequences of sex, but the sex itself? 

And if we'll admit to that, then why not just name the grizzly in the room, and say that what we really want to control is female sexuality?  And we want to control it not just by keeping females from engaging in sex as long as we can, but also keep them from avoiding the unwanted and avoidable consequences of some sex acts, and also keep them, once they are fully into adulthood, from enjoying sex in the same non-judgemental atmosphere in which men enjoy sex?

Bristol is a cautionary tale only because her parents never taught her how to procure, use, and insist upon, birth control.  All Bristol did was exercise the autonomy that was rightfully hers, and for that she has become the go-to joke about dim-witted baby-having sluts by stand-up comedians everywhere, and she doesn't deserve that.  I have no idea how bright Bristol Palin is or is not, but it was her right and her time to consent, and instead of it being one step on the path to healthy adult relations, that one night of sex became a millstone around her neck, and all because her parents buy into some dumbass Christian hoo-hah about the role of women.  If you ask me, they should apologize to her for thinking that she wasn't worthy of knowing everything that they knew, and more.  If I had a girl of my own, you can bet your ass I would know her worth. 

And Bristol, if you're out there, you're worth everything, sweetie.  Everything.  Come and sit by me, and I will tell you more.

*See what I did there, Sarah?  That's how you call someone a nasty name in a roundabout, mythical allusion-y type way.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The damage done

In one of the many strange jobs I have had along the crazy-ass road to where I am now, I used to analyze claims for a company that, legally, could only pay out if there had been a violation of an obscure little corner of the legal codes. Okay, so figuring out if the law had been violated was frequently easy, but there was always a more basic question to be answered before any checks got written:

How are they damaged?

And I don’t mean how were the people that made the claims damaged as humans, although lord knows I could’ve written a book about that. What it means is, upon what is their claim for damages based? It’s such an important question, and yet one that’s so easy to lose sight of as you slog through the piles of facts and allegations, that at the time of my employ I wrote it large on a piece of paper and tacked it to the wall of my cubicle: How are they damaged?

Later, when I served on the jury at a civil trial wherein an inmate of LA County’s correctional system sued the county for allegedly denying him medical treatment during his processing, the question would take prominence in my life again, as I sat in the jury box for 6 weeks watching the plaintiff’s lawyers bark up a succession of wrong trees.

We denied the plaintiff an award, mostly because he was caught in a lie in court - and caught on film not using his arm sling by a private detection hired by the county. But what bugged me most was that his attorneys had ignored the most important question to be addressed in a civil suit. When the jury was released and the lawyers from both sides stopped us in the hallway and asked us why we had gone the way we did, I couldn’t help but let my long-stewing frustration escape. “You never demonstrated damages!” I said to the plaintiff’s side. “Even if we had believed him, we were supposed to base an award on – what?” I recall that the attorneys for the plaintiff looked a little stunned at my intensity – or maybe they were just pissed that they had spent months working for no payday. When I looked over at the county’s attorneys, I expected them to nod in agreement and murmur something along the lines of “she’s quite right, of course.” Instead they eyed me suspiciously, as lawyers are wont to do when someone outside of their profession borrows their language and employs it to make a point of her own.

And the point is, if you’re going to drag all those people into a hideous paneled room with uncomfortable chairs and no internet access for a month and a half and make them listen to how you’ve done been wronged, then you damn well better say exactly what’s wrong with you, and exactly what it’s going to take to make it right. But the good news about that whole waste of time was that although points of order and the rules of hearsay and the citing of precedents can all get pretty complicated, the basic principles of law can be so refreshingly simple, that even a woman trained as an actress can understand them.

Which brings us to last week, when Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage, was overturned in court. The proponents of P8 argued the case alone because the Governator and our Attorney General and former Linda Ronstadt beau/current gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown declined to defend the vile piece of legislative caca. And those proponents failed to accomplish, and perhaps even to identify, the one crucial goal of their case.

Bet you can guess what that was.

And for those of us who have spent the last couple of years arguing with homophobic idiots, saying “tell me how it hurts you if gay people get married!” vindication has come at last. Whether we knew it or not, we had put our fingers on the pivotal argument of the case, and just like in real life, wherein our asshat relatives stammer about the sanctity of an institution that they themselves have managed to unsanctify on occasions too numerous to numerate, the proponents of P8 failed to address the crux, and the judge quite rightly called them on their weak-ass shit. They could not demonstrate damages, my friends, and that, as my mom used to say, is the name of that tune.

Of course the final word has yet to be written on Prop 8. It’s difficult to imagine that those five uptight SCOTUS motherfuckers wouldn’t be game to fuck it all up. After all, they’re all Catholics, a church that might not win the gold medal for homo-hating, but it’s certainly, you know, on the podium.

Meanwhile, Judge Walker has set the clock ticking on the stay that keeps gay people from marrying right now in the wake of the overturning of P8. The proponents of P8 are being allowed a chance to argue that P8 should remain in force until the appeals are exhausted, but in another glorious turn of the legal screw, they might not have grounds to even argue the stay in court because…get this, now…they can’t demonstrate that lifting the stay would damage them.

Fuck yeah.

How glorious would it be if the court decided that all those meat-headed hatemongers don’t even have a dog in the gay marriage hunt?

If that day comes, and 5pm Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 brings an end to religion-backed bigotry in California, then rejoice, readers, for Lady Justice has shown herself to be not only blind, but maybe a tiny bit butch as well.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

An Open Letter to Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown

Dear Genius,

After reading what you said about your "no" vote on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court of the United States, I am including a link (you click on the words "a link" and it takes you there) to a list of U.S. Supreme Court Justices that have no prior judicial experience. See how many? There are 40 of them! Did you know that there have only been 111 Supreme Court Justices, like, ever? So 40 is actually kind of a lot. In case you have trouble with fractions, (and a lot of people do so don't start tripping) that is about 36%. More than a third!

Just something to consider before making a whole speech about how you couldn't vote for Elena Kagan because she didn't have any judicial experience.   Oh, and regarding your point about how, given a lack of judicial experience, you would prefer more "practical courtroom experience" than Kagan has - did you know that's kind of a dumbass point of view?

It's true!

See, because if you are hiring a lawyer to sue someone who screwed you over, then yeah, you probably want a good amount of practical courtroom experience.  But if you are looking for a judge for the Supreme Court of the United States, practical courtroom experience is actually not really the most important thing.  Because Supreme Court judges don't argue cases.  What they do is, they listen to the guys arguing cases, and then - and pay attention, Scott, because this is the important part - then, they draw upon their vast knowledge and understanding of the law, and they use it to decide who wins.
Okay, so, if you look Kagan's resume, and here it is (again, click on the words to see it) compared to former Chief Justice (the Chief Justice is like the head guy of all the Justices) Rhenquist's resume, you know, just FYI (For Your Information) on that, you can see that wow!  She had some jobs where she really probably had to know a lot about the law!  And not just like who-can-sue-who-type law, but really complicated law, like the kind of laws that senators vote on.  And you are a senator, so you can ask one of your assistants to show you a copy of a law that you have voted on recently, and you can see for yourself that it's pretty complex and frankly, not just anyone can make head or tails of it. 
Also, I don't know if you know this, and it's not bad if you don't, because it was only a news story for a couple of weeks and it's summer - right? - and who really pays attention to the news in the summer? - but Elena Kagan used to work for a Supreme Court Justice!  No, she totally did! 
I know, weird, right?   
So anyway, I just wanted to give you a heads up, you know, so just in case you wanted to maybe cool it with what you're saying?  Because it's not that smart? 
p.s. And also BTW (By The Way), you can tell all your friends that when you criticize someone for not really being super open about their point of view on a lot of stuff, and you hint around that maybe they are kind of a liar, then really, if you ask me, you totally should not then go and lie about why you are not voting for that person.  Are you feeling me?  Just say you are not voting for her because you don't like the way she thinks about stuff.  That's all.  You shouldn't make up reasons that are just totally transparent.  Because it makes you hypocritical.  For real.