Riffle

Reality-Based Community Service

Saturday, April 30, 2005


Exorcism in Lieu of 911

Here's a PDF file of an unusual employment discrimination case in Michigan. Quoting:

One day, plaintiff [Michelle Howard, a Child Protective Services (CPS) worker for FIA (Family Independence Agency of Michigan)] made an unannounced visit to A.P.’s home. According to plaintiff’s report, A.P. had been drinking alcohol when she arrived. Plaintiff learned that plaintiff was prone to seizures and that doctors had given her a prescription to prevent them, but A.P. had not filled the prescription. Plaintiff also learned that that drinking alcohol enhanced A.P.’s susceptibility to seizures. Plaintiff’s report went on to state that, during the visit, plaintiff and A.P. discussed how church counseling and prayer could help A.P. and her relationship with her boyfriend. During this discussion, A.P. began to convulse and go into a seizure. Plaintiff believed A.P.’s behavior to be demonic in nature rather than medically related, so she prayed for A.P. during her seizure. In her deposition, plaintiff stated that when A.P. went into the seizure, she began to speak a different language and “come up off the floor.” Plaintiff admitted praying for A.P. during the seizure and pouring water on A.P.’s mouth. Plaintiff testified that she poured water on A.P.’s mouth to prevent her from swallowing her tongue, but later stated that she did not hold A.P.’s mouth open because A.P. did not appeared to be in any danger of swallowing her tongue. Plaintiff admitted that while she was sprinkling water on A.P.’s mouth, she stated, “Lord help her in the name of Jesus, bind everything that’s not like you, Satan the Lord rebuke you, loose your hold now.” The seizure lasted for approximately twenty to twenty-five minutes, during which time A.P.’s son periodically entered the room and plaintiff assured him that his mother would be fine. After A.P.’s seizure ended, plaintiff explained to her that her behavior appeared to be demonic and that she should pray about the situation.

Approximately one week later, A.P. contacted the CPS office and told plaintiff’s supervisor, Jan Kuirsky, that plaintiff had performed religious acts on her. During the course of several conversations with Kuirsky, A.P. complained that during her seizure, plaintiff laid her on the floor, pushed on her stomach, threw up on her, sprinkled water on her face, and told her that she had to drive the demons out of her. A.P. said that, after the seizure, plaintiff told her that she would return another time to finish driving out the demons. A.P. indicated that she had not given plaintiff permission to touch her or pray for her and that her son was terrified because of the incident. A.P.’s son told Kuirsky that he had given plaintiff water and a paper towel while plaintiff was trying to drive the demons out of his mother. In plaintiff’s answers to interrogatories, she denied that A.P. threw up or that plaintiff pushed on A.P.’s stomach and threw up on her. Plaintiff also denied telling A.P. that she would come back at another time to finish driving the demons out of her.
FIA fired Howard and she sued claiming the termination was due to religious discrimination. Fortunately, the Michigan Supreme Court opinion linked above finds that was not the cause of her termination.

I wonder if Dobson and his crowd would like these judges replaced?

Friday, April 29, 2005


Stephen Fry on Douglas Adams

The film version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [HGTTG] opens today in the US. I like HGTTG, but I'm not a fanatic (I haven't read Hitchiker or any other Adams books, and have only experienced HGTTG in radio and TV versions). I look forward to seeing the movie soon.

Also, I've never owned a Macintosh or Apple computer.

I am, however, a great fan of the incomparable Stephen Fry, who was a friend of Adams and provides the voice for The Guide in the movie. For those Adams, HGTTG, and Apple/Mac fanatics out there, here's a little sound file from a radio remembrance of Adams done shortly after his death. When the Macintosh went on sale in Europe, Fry and Adams bought the first three machines. You can listen to Stephen Fry for the rest of the story. [1 minute MP3 file, 600 kb in size]

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Theocracy Datapoint

'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for April 25 - MSNBC Transcripts

Pat Buchanan:
"Look, John Paul II could not get approved for a federal appellate bench. He would get 100 percent negative vote by the Democrats, because abortion is an issue they won‘t let go of. Homosexual rights is an issue they won‘t let go of.
The Pope couldn't be a US Judge. Buchanan thinks that awful. I don't.

By the way, Buchanan's litany immediately continues with:

"Affirmative action is an issue, quota."

Pope JPII was against affirmative action? I tend to think Buchanan was just reeling off GOP talking points and trying to imbue them with the imprimatur of religion.

Sounds about right.


Against People of Sociobiology

Cathy Young responds to a response by Professor Stephen Bainbridge.

"Take a hypothetical nominee for the federal bench who has publicly stated that male dominance is essential to a healthy social system. He is (a) an evangelical Christian whose beliefs are rooted in his understanding of biblical principles, or (b) an agnostic whose beliefs are rooted in his understanding of sociobiology. It seems that according to Prof. Bainbridge, the Senate would be allowed to hold the nominee's views against him in scenario (b), but not in scenario (a). Personally, I think that this particular belief ought to disqualify him whether it's based on the Bible, the Koran, Confucius, Darwin, Nietzsche, or the Gor novels."


There's more good argument in the post I link to, but I find that paragraph particularly compelling. And, to name just one hot-button "religious" issue, there are atheists who are opposed to abortion rights.

Furthermore, it's not just vague "religious beliefs" that the current republicans are upset about, it's a fairly narrow range of beliefs (abortion and gay rights, mainly). There are quite a few deeply held religious beliefs that I'm pretty sure most Republicans would use to vote against a judicial nominee (opposition to the death penalty -- even for minors. Or drug use for religious purposes. Or, say, polygamy.)


Mystery Solved?

Why did US Olympic basketeball team perform so abysmally at the 2004 games?

Maybe some of the best players contributed to Democrats.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Slightly Modified

Vote right or go to hell: "Is it a sin not to vote for the people who are most religious?'"

[Only slightly modified.]

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Changing the Rules

Seems like the Republicans can't stop changing rules that stand in the way of any impediments to raw majoritarian power. Filibusters are just the current issue. But Republicans aren't only changing rules that make big news. Part of the reason the filibuster debate raises such a ruckus is that other, lesser known rules have already been changed to benefit the Republicans.

For instance, consider the Blue Slip Rules, which formerly allowed off-the-wall judgets to be blocked before they got to the judiciary committe vote. Kevin Drum's analysis of the blue slip rule from 2003 is still worth reading. One of the current judicial nominees Democrats are objecting to, Janice Brown, is from California and certainly wouldn't pass the old Blue Slip rule with senators Boxer and Feinstein.

Also, Kevin looks at more ways the Republicans have changed boring Senate rules to consolidate their power.

It's worth remembering the changes in Senate rules that Republicans have enacted which marginalize anyone who doesn't agree with them. The filibuster is just the latest in a long line, but most of the prior changes were boring inside baseball.

All these smaller rules changes don't get much attention. But the changes make the filibuster more important, and give the Republicans a much smaller target to focus on and make a media storm about.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Don't Trust a Cardinal ....

... because they don't trust each other.

At Conclave, A Prediction And Promise
Following centuries-old procedures revised by John Paul in 1996, each voted by writing the name of his preferred candidate on a folded piece of paper, then held it up to show the entire assembly that it was a single ballot before depositing it into a urn.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Air Force Academy Again

Yahoo! News - Air Force Cadets See Religious Harassment
There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.

....

"They are deliberately trivializing the problem so that we don't have another situation the magnitude of the sex assault scandal. It is inextricably intertwined in every aspect of the academy," said Mikey Weinstein of Albuquerque, N.M., a 1977 graduate who has sent two sons to the school. He said the younger, Curtis, has been called a "filthy Jew" many times.


But what's the real problem? Anti-Christian bigotry.

Two of the nation's most influential evangelical Christian groups, Focus on the Family and New Life Church, are headquartered in nearby Colorado Springs. Tom Minnery, an official at Focus on the Family, disputed claims that evangelical Christians are pushing an agenda at the academy, and complained that "there is an anti-Christian bigotry developing" at the school.


These people really are crazy. And they're running the country, and apparently the Air Force, too.


Not Boring

Congressional hearings are usually boring, but the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today concerning the John Bolton nomination was not. Leah Rozen did a play by play that's worth reading, and this thread at DailyKos.com crackles.

The hearing will be repeated by C-Span 2 this evening at eight p.m. eastern. I'll be watching on cable but C-Span will stream it for web consumption -- it may subsequently be archived there, too.

Biden referred to hearing from people at Bolton's old law firm that they wouldn't have him back (or something similar to that). Does anyone know what the substance of that allegation is?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Not Going Where You Expect

This is an odd AP Headline: Man Living in Closet Charged in Homicide.

Those who mention it will probably crack wise about being closeted. But I'm not going to go there.

Here's the pertinent bit from the story:
A man was beaten to death after catching his wife's lover living in a closet in their home, police said Tuesday. Rafael DeJesus Rocha-Perez, 35, was charged with homicide in the slaying of 44-year-old Jeffrey A. Freeman over the weekend.
He'd apparently lived there for about a month.

That's nothing compared to the notorious "Bat Man" case of Otto Sanhuber, who lived in the attic above Fred Oesterriech and his wife Dolly. Otto was Dolly's lover.

He lived in their attic in Milwaukee for ten years Then, when the Oesterreich's moved to Los Angeles, he went and lived in their attic there, too, before shooting Fred Oesterreich to death.

A lot more information is at Crime Library in their section All About Otto Sanhuber.

And this strange story of Otto and Dolly all started about a century ago, when things were not as crazy as they are today. Or so some would have you believe.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Karen L. Brauer, Pharmacist for Life

"'Our group was founded with the idea of returning pharmacy to a healing-only profession. What's been going on is the use of medication to stop human life. That violates the ideal of the Hippocratic oath that medical practitioners should do no harm', said Karen L. Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life, who was fired from a Kmart pharmacy in Delhi, Ohio, for refusing to fill birth control prescriptions." - Washington Post, March 28, 2005.

Karen Brauer (included in this nice Media Matters post) has presented to the media the image of a concerned professional dealing with ethical issues. But that's only one side of a woman who has a very political side, tinged with a vivid interest in the sexual lives and practices of people with political opinions different than her own.

Long before she hit the mainstream media as President of Pharmacists for Life International, Ms. Brauer was active on a conservative women's website, now essentally dormant. But you'll still find her self-portrait from December 1997 (updated in 2001) there, where she describes herself as "Born conservative. Kinda' lean towards the Republican party, but lately they are getting awfully liberal." She was a supporter of Alan Keyes for President in 2000.

To get the full flavor of Ms. Brauer's thoughts, however, nothing beats reading her posts to the Usenet newsgroup alt.politics.rightgrrl, where she was an active and outspoken participant. Here's a sample of her comments posted Nov 22 1998 as "Responsibility/Contraception" :

For all the NOW gal types who might be lurking.... See what the Domestic Farm Animal style Birth Control has gotten you? When you get pregnant, you did it to yourself. The man does not participate. It's not his fault. That little head works by remote control, and is totally disconnected from the big head. It's just a whackoff. That comes from drinking the water that ya'll have been peeing the hormones into..... hehe, just kidding). But that "environmental hazard" is one reason that B.C. pills are still illegal in Japan!!!

NOW gals, ya got what you wanted. Total autonomy. So don't ask some of these guys for child support. Thanks for screwing things up for women who want their kids to have a daddy.

I'm all for chastity requirements in the military uniform code of justice. Dishonorable discharge and loss of benefits for anyone caught having sex outside of marriage. Male or Female. Whaddaya think??? Wouldn't a chastity patrol be wild! ;-) Finally: constructive employment for voyeurs!! And I'm for no sex at all for people who cannot accept a baby. Not even a B.J., 'cause they don't deserve one.

Ms. Brauer saves most of her sexually explicit fantasies for President Bill Clinton, but she openly expresses her interest in the sexual life of anyone who supports Clinton too. In a post titled "Sexual McCarthyism: Dershowitz's Clinton Spin" she writes:

Doesn't stuff like this make you wonder about the sexual practices of Dershowitz and other Clinton supporters??

There is a political rag in Cincinnati which calls Clinton supporters and contributors "all those people who would not mind seeing the first Phallus in their own daughters' mouths". Very gross, but it sorta makes sense!! The circulation of this political publication, the Whistleblower, threatens to outstrip that of the local news papers. hehehe

But she spends time thinking about the sexual proclivities of Republicans, too:


I'm sorta surprised that the Republicans aren't kinkier. I thought that once you got to Washington, you had to be a major pervert to be a member of the club. I've found the Republicans to be kinda boring. Some of them don't even fool around at all!! Poor Larry Flynt could only get a little dirt on less than 10 percent of them. That's below background level for Americans. Do you know what that means??? Statistically, their personal lives have been shown to be cleaner on average than the people that they serve. Thanks to that old Jabba the Hut, pervert, Larry Flynt. I think he inadvertently did conservatives a favor.

But you find a Republican that has perjured himself, obstructed justice, and raped at least one woman, and I will call for the guy's resignation right away, and ask Dr. Lorena Bobbitt for a surgical consult .........;-)

Ms. Brauer's explanation for why so many people opposed Clinton's impeachment? You'll find it here in "allgirlthang/Hostile boyz"

My guess is there are a few men out there who might have had a little problem with date rape. Things mighta gotten a little out of hand at the frat house... Know whut I mean???? A little cognitive dissonance is going on.

You know why there is so much excusing of Clinton's behavior??? All those rich boyz (daddies bought 'em off instead of raising them) remembering their college days, or maybe even their current behavior. Hard to get down on a guy who is only acting the way that they do... Love listening to all those liberal lawyers finding excuses for him.
Love listening to the nina-burleighs and rich boyz in the media getting all over Linda Tripp for turning against a "friend" who was trying to get her to commit perjury. HA!
In response to a post about Neil Horsley , author of the infamous Nuremburg Files website that listed personal information about physicians who performed abortions and marked through their names when they were murdered, Ms. Brauer defends him, denies that he advocates violence, and compares her own situation to his:


hehe, we all know that he has the site up there to intimidate the abortionists and make them paranoid that they are being judged. When a person becomes famous for any reason, info about them and their families is publicized in the media. I guess that abortion is a gross reason for a person to become a public figure, huh?

. . . . .

As of 1996 I was out about 50,000 bucks a year in salary due to proaborts deciding that I couldn't practice pharmacy unless I abort. (Do you think that is extortion? ) Also, it has made me a little bit of a public figure, and that leads to a fair amount of opposition too.

. . . . .

That's the thing. The Nuremburg site does not advocate violence. Horsley does an amazing job of walking that fine line and really sending the media up a wall. He is a really interesting guy to watch. When the media publicizes his site, it serves his purposes. Also, you have to admit that with FACE and RICO laws, the abortionists have stripped prolifers of a lot rights of free speech and assembly. What do you think will happen when prolifers have no legal way left to oppose abortion?? The media serves my purposes with their hysteria, by scaring all the med students away from abortion practice. Abortion is aborting itself ;-) Kinda cool huh???


Here she is hoping Jesus will fill her in about Clinton's "little head." Her curiosity about Clinton's penis is prodigious:



I'd ask to meet with Jesus Christ. Because he could tell me how a guy like Clinton can live, with only his little head in a state of potency. And maybe he could tell me if there is anything good about Bill, 'cause I don't think so. hoHO


Moving from Usenet to the Web, Ms. Brauer used to have a websites she called "Hoosier Pharmer" which peddled rants typical of the most rabid wingnuts. The site has disappeared from its old URL, but is still available via archive.org.

Again, her interest in the sex life of others is on display:

FREE PORN ON THE WEB
COURTESY OF OUR PRESIDENT, SICK WILLY !
READ THE STARR REPORT !
Don't let Bill kiss the babies!
You don't know where that boy has been!
Check out Footnote 210!

Since Ms Brauer seems to be getting fairly fawning media treatment, and since she's defined herself as a "public character," I hope those questioning her will dig into her online writings a bit and ask about them. A few different posts are featured in this Daily Kos Diary.

[For those wanting to check out her posts on Usenet, search Google Groups for her old email address, which was kbrauer@one.net. There's more to marvel at.]

Monday, April 04, 2005


Pharmacists for Life

The group that's trying to make it commonplace for pharmacists to refuse service to women who want birth control (not just, say, RU-486, but plain old "the pill" and other contraceptives) is Pharmacists for Life (PFL).

The founder of the group is Bogomir (M.) Kuhar, a pro-lifer so radical that he's anti-birth control. Kuhar has calculated that many millions of lives are "terminated" each year by people who use contraceptives.
Dr. Bogomir Kuhar, a pharmacist concerned about chemical abortion, has calculated that in combining all forms of induced abortion -- the IUD, Depo-Provera, Norplant, surgical, and the Pill (and injectables, implants, and oral products that work in a similar fashion), between 9.6 and 13.4 million young lives are terminated in the U.S. alone each year.
Kuhar appears to have been involved in pro-life Catholic movement since at least the late eighties. On that single page he is identified in several diferent ways, including:
  • Bogomir M. Kuhar
  • Bogomir Kuhar PhD
  • Bogomir Kuhar PD
  • Bogomire Kuhar PD
The Pharmacists for Life group, though they claim to represent "over 1600+ pharmacists, and many hundreds of lay supporters, in the USA, Canada and worldwide," seems to be run out Powell, Ohio, probably in the Kuhars' home.

The contact phone (740.881.5520) and post office box for PIL is the same as the vitamin-selling business that the Kuhar's have at kuhar.com (known as Life Enterprises, though sometimes identified as Pro-Life Enterprises). Presumably the Marcia Kuhar listed there is Bogomir's wife.

She's also used the same PO Box and phone number as her contacts listed on the Central Ohio Association of Occupational Health Nurses, Inc., also known as COAOHN.

With this single phone number being used as Marcia's contact number, PFL's contact number, and the businesses' contact nubmer, PFL is probably running out of their house, which also houses their business.

And, as Media Matters has pointed out, "Pharmacists for Life's most recent IRS filings indicate that the organization has no paid employees and raised and spent less than $30,000 in 2003 (the most recent year for which figures are available)."

Good for them in one way -- at least for now they're apparently not an astroturf group, supported by a big PR firm but trying to appear home-grown. But it's bad for them in another way -- they're tiny and represent a very small number of religiously hyper=zealous pharmacists who do not want women to receive birth control.

Media Matters has also discussed Karen L. Brauer, the pharmacist fired by Kmart for lying to a patron, refusing to fill her prescription, and refusing to forward her prescription to another pharmacy. She's a piece of work and we'll have more about her soon. [Update: The post about Karen Brauer is up now.]

Saturday, April 02, 2005


Visitation

Kieran Healy's written the only thing I'm likely to remember from today's coverge of the death of Pope John Paul: When the Pope came to Ireland. Part memoir, part social history, stirringly written.

One wonders how much the changes he mentions have to do merely with the events he cites, and how much impact the remarkable economic growth in Ireland has contributed, too.

Good wishes to all Roman Catholics on this day, though I don't generally support the power or purposes of the Vatican.


Get Me Rewrite

Washington Post headline:

DeLay Wants Panel to Review Role of Courts

Alternate headline "Criminal Blasts Courts."


Kontraceptive Kraziness

Pandagon's Amanda Marcotte is justifiably exuberant about Gov. Rob Blagojevich approving a law that requires pharmacists to fill prescriptions for birth control. But one has to despair that we've come to a state where that is necessary.

I see that this ridiculous witholding of contraception is being legislated in some states.
According to the NWLC, four states currently have passed laws allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions based on religious beliefs, while four states have had legislation introduced that would require pharmacists to fill prescriptions for contraceptives.
I'm continually amazed that these lunatics are succeeding, even briefly, in dragging the US back decades. It's disheartening and infuriating.

Can allowing pharmacists to shirk their duties be a popular move? Even if cast as a "pharmacist's rights" issue, I can't imagine enough people hate contraceptives that restrictions on them wouldn't cause a backlash, but of course my imagination has been lacking in the past.

I can't recall where I read some wag suggesting this, but a way to a nice sinecure could be to convert to Christian Science and become a pharmacist (possibly not in that order). Then you could conceivably refuse to fill any prescriptions, sitting on your butt while the pharmacy presumably couldn't fire you for your religious objections. You may need to claim that you're part of a radical Christian Science sect that is against anyone using medications.

There are kooks and quacks everywhere you look -- often running the show.

Much more from Majikthise.


Pear Tree Productions Presents...

I noticed that BBC America has just begun to air season one of the television version of Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge (played by Steve Coogan).

As Partridge goes, it's nearly up there with the "Knowing Me, Knowing You" radio series and the "I'm Alan Partridge" mockumentary series. Quite fun. Check your local listings.