Saturday, 19 October 2013

Another Hillary '180'

In yet another political move for Hillary to make herself something she is not, Hillary is now co-sponsoring an anti-flag burning law.
Senator Hillary Clinton is supporting a bill to make it a crime to burn the American flag -- but she still opposes a constitutional ban on flag desecration. WCAX-TV Burlington, VT
Mrs. Clinton, out of which side of your mouth do you feed yourself? In that one sentence, while it is not a direct quote, you contradicted yourself.
If you want to make it a crime to burn an American flag, why do you oppose a constitutional ban? Why do you wish to keep it a 'freedom of expression' thing in one breath and co-sponsor an anti-flag burning law in the next?
In her public statements, Clinton has compared the act of flag-burning to burning a cross, which can be considered a violation of federal civil rights law.The measure outlaws a protester intimidating any person by burning the flag, lighting someone else's flag, or desecrating the flag on federal property.
Mrs. Clinton, if someone intimidates me with burning a flag, he or she will just show his or her ignorance. Since the flag means nothing to that person, it is just material and stiching. By burning that particular flag, you are not hurting anyone, but only destroying your own property.
However, if anyone but touches my American flag in any disrespectful manner on my property or off my property, we will have some serious problems. No one has a right to vandalize my property.
Of course, if that same person were on my property burning a cross, a flag, or whatever, he or she will meet my water-hose and I will have to take the proper measures to get the tresspasser off my land. It is that simple!
I do not see why Senator Bob Bennett or Senator Hillary Clinton are even wasting their time passing this particular law. I would like to think that, "intimidating any person by burning the flag, lighting someone else's flag, or desecrating the flag on federal property," would already be covered by anti-vandalism laws, anti-assault laws, or maybe even criminal tresspass laws. Could this be both Senators' way of getting some attention by politicizing patriotism?
A New York Times [retrieved from the International Herald] piece puts it quite perfectly in the following excerpt:
Her supporters would characterize this as an attempt to find a middle way between those who believe that flag-burning is constitutionally protected free speech and those who want to ban it, even if it takes a constitutional amendment. Unfortunately, it looks to us more like a simple attempt to have it both ways.
I would like to know why the New York Times finds it unfortunate that Hillary appears to try to "have it both ways." Why is that so unfortunate? Is it unfortunate because Hillary is not able to fool the American public as easily any longer?
Clinton says she opposes a constitutional amendment to outlaw flag-burning. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that flag-burning was protected by the First Amendment. But her bill is clearly intended to put the issue back before the current, more conservative, Supreme Court in hopes of getting a turnaround.
Is anyone else getting confused by the blatant double-speak going on here? So if Clinton opposes a constitutional amendment to outlaw flag-burning, why is she wasting her time trying to bring this in front of a 'more conservative' Supreme Court this time around? Doesn't Hillary Clinton have better things to do, like criticize Bush for a war she states to support?
Flag burning, while truly disrespectful, is nothing more than people with no real ideas trying to get some attention. While they enjoy the freedoms of this country, they hate those same freedoms that give them the right to be foolish. By offending people who may have took the time to listen to their points of view, they have now lost any credibility as an intelligent person.
These same people who would like to burn a flag would support Hillary through Hades and back. It would behoove her to keep her constituents strongly behind her.
In yet another political move to position herself for the Presidential Elections of 2008, she is trying to make America think she is a conservative. However, Hillary does something or says something that shows her true colors at every other turn and completely ruins the image she wishes to portray. Does she truly expect that we will forget things she publicly says about the president or the war by going public practically the next day with something that might impress us knuckle-dragging conservatives? Thankfully, there are still many of us in this country who have a memory span longer than the regular commercial break.

Opinion: Quota Terrorism in Nigeria, Boko Haram and Their Supporters

Quota Terrorism in Nigeria and the supporters of Boko Haram
Absurdity is supposed to be an ignoble quality. But it definitely appears not to be so in Nigeria. Rather, absurdity, mediocrity and idiocy have become national hallmarks and symbols of distinction for some so-called Nigerian elites and leaders. And nowhere have Nigerian leaders of the northern extraction displayed this quality better than in their response, or the lack of it, to the ongoing Boko Haram carnage. Instead of witnessing constructive discussions of how to extract a cancerous rupture, Boko Haram, which was threatening the very existence of the nation, we have had leaders talking about rapprochement and appeasement. General Abdusalam Abubakar (rtd.), one of Nigeria's eminent former leaders, was among the first northern leaders of note to air his views on the Boko Haram malaise. His erudite suggestion to President Jonathan was to call the Boko Haram (BH) boys, and "settle" them the same way the federal government settled the Niger Delta militants. One assumes with a pat on the back and plane tickets to Saudi Arabia or some other exotic places where they would learn new skills in the same manner as Niger Delta boys were sent to Ghana, South Africa and a couple of other places. In effect General Abubakar was advocating the principle of quota, or federal character, which has been in place in the allocation of the national cake. After all Boko Haram were just unleashing their own quota of terrorism on the Nigerian state, just in the same way as the Niger delta militants. Sanusi Lamido, the governor of the Central Bank, re-echoed the same idea in the infamous interview he granted a London newspaper on the Boko Haram matter. He opined that the likes of Boko Haram came to be because of the lopsided sharing of the national cake, where thinly populated states like Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa were getting more money than the 'more densely populated states of the north'. His solution, the BH boys should be settled alongside the poverty-stricken almajiris who daily roam the streets of the north. More explicitly put, poverty in Nigeria should also be by quota to reflect federal character. Following on Lamidos's heels, former president Ibrahim Babangida, came out clearly to say that the Boko Haram imbroglio could not be settled by force of arm - only a negotiated settlement can resolve the matter. He thus called on President Jonathan to call the boys to the negotiating table. I guess the same kind of negotiation he invited the late Dele Giwa (only Dele was too strong-headed and took the wrong path to perdition). It has seemingly become obvious that President Jonathan is either strong-headed or hard at hearing. To remedy the situation, the Borno state government over-night became a champion of how state governments should obey court rulings by promptly doling out a 100 million Naira to the family of a slain Boko Haram member. Unfortunately, the Boko Haram boys obviously put the money to the wrong use by apparently using it to finance their coordinated bombing of Kano, which collaterally resulted in the unintended deaths of Kano Muslims. Probably, in an effort to ameliorate the apparent wrong use of the funds by Boko Haram, the Central Bank Governor dished out another 100 million Naira to the victims of the Kano carnage and in so doing usurped the functions of the National Emergency Management Agency While the pattern is becoming clearer, and we are beginning to know the identities of the sympathizers and supporters of Boko Haram, it would be good to delve briefly into the history and antecedents of the issues raised by the actions, inactions and statements of our northern leaders. We can discuss the major grains in their positions under the following pockets of reasoning, hoping it is still possible to apply reason to Nigerian issues.
Terrorism by quota Simply defined, terrorism is any act that can cause horror, panic, intense fear, death or destruction in a society. The history of Nigeria does not lack in these acts, as defined above. In fact if the civil war dead were added to the count, Nigeria must have lost over two million people through acts of terror, which Nigerians have visited on each other. But as quotas go - the even distribution of whatever is the subject of distribution, the rest of the country pales miserably in comparison to the north in the perpetration of these acts of terror in the nation. The first contemporary Nigerian orgy of violence was in 1945 when Hausa Fulani Muslims pounced on Igbo residents of Jos. Ever since, no decade of our collective national history has gone by without a repeat of such senseless massacres. A cursory look at the major fatal political and ethno-religious social upheavals in Nigeria's six political zones since 1945, would give the following picture:
Northwest: The 1953 mini pogrom of easterners in Kano was the introduction to over twelve major subsequent ethno-religious clashes that would ravage the Northwest. These include the pogrom of 1966, the Matitatsine riots of the 80's, the Sharia riots of 2000 and the recent Boko Haram serial bombing of January 2012. The fatality figure in these skirmishes is well over 70,000. Northeast: Records show that the Northeast has experienced a minimum of 8 major ethnic and religious riots or killings since the 1966 pogrom of easterners. These include, the Bulumkutu and Jimeta Matatitsine riots of the early 80's, as well as the Boko Haram induced killings of 2009 till date. North Central: After the initial 1945 attack on easterners in Jos, the next wave of such killings in this zone was to come during the pogrom of 1966. Thereafter there was a remarkable period of peace until the bubble burst again in 2001 with the Tiv - Junkun war, and then the current Jos ethno religious killings, which have refused to abate since they started in 2002. South East: Besides the civil war years of 1967-70, the Southeast has been remarkably spared of any major inter-ethnic or religious upheavals, except for the 2000 reprisal attacks against northerners in the wake of the Kaduna Sharia riots and killings. South South: Apart from localized skirmishes between rival ethnic groups that make up this zone, the only notable major skirmishes had been the Urhobo, Itsekiri and Ijaw conflicts of 1997-1999, as well as the Odi massacre of 2000, which gave rise to the subsisting militancy being championed by MEND and other groups in this zone. South West: Since the 1965 post-election riots in the West and the concomitant "Operation Wetie," the only other major upheavals in the southwest were the Ife/Modakeke conflicts of 1997, the Sagamu ethnic riots of 1999, and the Mile 12 and Idi Araba, Lagos conflicts between Hausas and Yorubas, also in 1999. Thus if the principles of quota or federal character should be applied to inter-ethnic and religious conflicts in Nigeria as General Abdulsalam and other Boko Haram apologetics would want us to believe, then it is quite obvious that the North has far exceeded its terrorism quota.
Revenue derivation, allocation and the impoverishment of the North The CBN governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido, the northern states' governors and other northern leaders have lately fingered the current 13% derivation formula as the single most important thing militating against wealth creation in the North. Mallam Lamido actually attributes it to the rise of Boko Haram and other religious and ethnic riots in the North. However, when you look back at the history of revenue derivation and allocation in Nigeria, these arguments fail woefully when paired against logical reasoning and the realities. For those who are short on memory, the revenue derivation formula was 50% in 1958, when Nigeria had three regions as the federating political units. This formula held sway till 1968, when the then military government changed it to 10% for the federating states, and 80% to the federal government. The formula was only reversed upwards to 13% in 1995. It is also worthy to note that the former regions recorded their most productive potentials and social developmental achievements in the 1958 -1968 period when 40% of their locally derived revenue went to the federal government while the regions retained 60%. It was at this time that the North boasted of the famous groundnut pyramids, the East commanded the world palm oil trade, and the West equally commanded the world trade in cocoa. The regions competed amongst themselves in exploiting their respective revenue generation potentials, natural resources, and in delivering social benefits to their subjects. Free education, hospitals, universities, industrial parks, new towns and bank start-ups were some of the many laudable projects implemented by the regions under this revenue sharing regime. Fast forward to 2012, all the federating states have been reduced to beggar status; the groundnut pyramids have disappeared, we now import groundnuts from Cameroun; the palm oil has stopped flowing, Malaysia has taken over as the world biggest producer - earning more money from palm oil export than we are making from crude oil export; Cote d'Ivoire has since taken over the world leadership in cocoa production and export. The current Nigerian revenue reality is that every member of the pretender Nigerian ruling class has become an oil baron - exporting, importing and expropriating the national oil wealth. Though the federal government has scaled down its share of revenue from 80% in 1968 to 48.5% since 1995, the federating states and local governments, with a combined share of 44%, are bereft of any ideas of how to become revenue generators instead of revenue sharers and looters. This mentality of revenue sharing and looting, instead of creation is more acute in the North, where a majority of the people and their leaders see the Nigerian state as a benevolent distributor of wealth. The northern states, especially the northwestern and northeastern states, have refused to own up to their inability to deliver services to their citizens, or encourage them to become creators of wealth. This is in spite of the disproportionately huge federal allocations going to these zones on account of their purported large populations and number of states and local government areas. Now there are even calls coming from some quarters, that a semblance of the 'Marshal Plan" used by the US to repair post World War Japan, be initiated in northern Nigeria. One wonders the rational behind these calls. Maybe it is to re-develop the north from the ravages of a war it has been waging against itself for decades. Irrespective of the rational behind these calls, it may be instructive at this point to recall the only such "Marshal Plan" ever implemented in Nigeria. It was at the end of the civil war, when the federal government initiated its 3R program of reconstruction, reconciliation and rehabilitation, but went on to sequester and redistribute all Igbo owned properties in other parts of the country. The same government led by Gowon, with Awolowo and the British as its financial advisers, went even further to confiscate the millions of pounds southeasterners had trapped in Nigerian banks at the beginning of the civil war, three years earlier, only to give each Igbo family twenty pounds in return. At that time no one heard any call for a 'Marshal Plan' or for preferential revenue allocation formula to bring the war survivors out of the abject poverty they sank into at the end of the war. Rather, the people of the affected eastern states took their fates in their hands and struck out into the deep ocean of learning how to earn a livelihood, afresh. Forty-two years later this year, their progress thus far speaks for itself. Probably, the North may desire a similar tested method of the Nigerian variant of the "Marshal Plan". Nevertheless, those champions of the North, who are today calling for a more preferential revenue formula, should first show us what their region is adding to the national harvest basket, from which this revenue is to be shared. They should show us the number of engineers or technicians they have toiling in the oil fields, or the percentage of their population suffering directly from the ravaging effects of oil production and exploration. Or can these contributions be calculated solely on the basis of the plethora of murderous ethno-religious riots that have come to define the North; their oft-claimed large population; or the large number of local governments and land mass, which they had clandestinely smuggled into the revenue sharing formula?
The population game - Where the North got it wrong Often the North cites population size and landmass as the reasons for the region to claim more revenue than other parts of the country. Lamido Sanusi used these same citations to argue for more revenue for the North. This reliance on population figure, as a revenue-grabbing weapon, is largely behind the long fought battles of population figure manipulation in Nigeria. For instance, the current national population figures indicate that the semi-arid Northwest, with 37 million people, supports a higher population than the combined population of the rain forest and coastal regions of the Southeast and South South, 31 million people. This illogical demographic pattern runs quite contrary to scientifically established patterns in other parts of the world. The Northwest even posts more population figures than the North central, the established food basket of the nation, and also more than the highly urbanized and industrialized Southwest, with Kano claiming a higher population than Lagos. What the northern architects of population figures have failed to realize is that population size alone does not translate to the progress of a polity. Rather what matters more is the quality of the population - the human resource development index. This is because despite having successfully allocated the largest population in the nation to their zones, and in tandem the largest number of states, local governments and percentage of federal allocations, the Northwest and Northeast zones still lag far behind all other zones in the country in all indices of human development. This is despite their obvious favored position in the federation, which came via their control of the national political power for 39 of Nigeria's 51 years existence as an independent nation. For instance the Millennium Development Goals attainment comparative reports of Nigeria's geopolitical zones show these glaring disparities:
1. Relative poverty - Northwest, 71.2%; Northeast, 72.2%; North central, 67%; Southwest, 42%; South South, 35.1%; Southeast, 26.7%. 2. Secondary school net attendance ratio, 2007 - Northwest, 30.1%; Northeast, 8.1%; North central, 58.7%; Southwest, 78%; South South, 72.3; Southeast, 70%. 3. Childbirth in a health facility - Northwest 9%; Southeast - 75%.
The human index developmental data above clearly indicate either of two possibilities: 1. Both the Northwest and Northeast have not posted any appreciable positive developmental dividend since independence in 1960, or 2. The population figures against which their achievements are being measured are either grossly faulty or over bloated. This is because the North central, which is the least favored part of the North, has posted considerably better results than the Northwest and Northeast.
Knowledge and technology - the current drivers of progress The fact that education is a driver of human and societal development has never been contestable; rather it is the rate at which it does so today that has become extremely breadth taking. In this wise, most countries and human societies that have failed to jump on the knowledge express train are increasingly being left in the dust. This explains the current developmental disparity between East Asia and African, despite the fact that they were almost at par in the 60's. Population, which used to hold sway in rudimentary agrarian economies of the old do not matter any longer, as the astronomical advances of such thinly populated countries as Singapore and Botswana have shown. Singapore, a city-state of roughly 5 million people was a little more than a fishing port and a British naval base at independence in 1965. Today, Singapore has the highest percentage of millionaire households in the world. It is the world's 14th largest exporter and 15th largest importer. It did not need a manufactured population of 37 or 140 million people to achieve these feats despite gaining independence five years behind Nigeria. Botswana is another thinly populated nation - African, a former British colony and agrarian. At independence in 1966, Botswana was one of the poorest countries in the world. Very much like the northwest of Nigeria, it has no access to the sea and three quarters of its territory is covered by the Kalahari Desert. But, today Botswana has the fourth largest gross national income and the highest sovereign credit rating in Africa. With 83% literacy level, Bostwana boasts of more cattle than her human population of 2 million. How one wishes northern Nigeria could one day boast of more heads of cattle than Boko Haram adherents and their supporters. Both Singapore and Botswana show that population size is not what matters in national development; rather it is the quality of the population that makes all the difference. China today is not rated highly for its large population, but rather for the quality and production capacity of its population. Religion does not matter either, as the example of Indonesia will show. The most populous Islamic country in the world, with a population of 238 million, Indonesia is today the largest economy in East Asia, a member of the G20 group of major economies with a nominal GDP of $706.73 billion (2010 estimates). With a majority Muslim population, Indonesia recognizes religious freedom, does not practice Sharia, and is focused on the economic development of its people. It also has 300 different ethnic groups and 742 different languages and dialects. So it does appear that Boko Haram and their supporters in the North got it quite wrong. Education, western or otherwise, is no evil, as they purport, but rather the harbinger of national and human development, by far.
Northern elites - the catalysts of the region's jaundiced development The leaders and elites of the North should, without any equivocation, be blamed for the backwardness and problems plaguing that region. This is because right from the pre-independence era, the northern leadership had always sought to inoculate itself from any external competitive threat than face such situations squarely, and have in so doing ended up elevating mediocrity to an art. For example, when the North was faced with the prospect of an early independence from the British in 1953, Anthony Enaharo raised the motion in the legislature; the North led by Sir Ahmadu Bello shot it down. Their reasons - the North was not ready and would rather prefer to develop at its own 'slow' pace. Again, when the North was faced with the influx of educated easterners into its civil service, its leaders chose the northernisation policy instead of competing squarely with the easterners, and learning in the process. They were later to use the advantage of the civil war, which ended in favor of the federal government, to deal a deathblow on educational progress in the East by banishing the missionary schools. But when this policy failed to stop the East, and still faced with lagging educational achievements in the region in the 70's, compared to other parts of the country, the northern elites got the region the special status of 'educationally disadvantaged', and went further to institute the policy of 'federal character' as a means of warding off the competitive environments they found themselves in. Each of these retrogressive options chosen by the northern elites have over the years brought the North to the unenviable position they find themselves in today. But once more, true to type, instead of looking inwards to tackle the present specter of underdevelopment facing their region, they are agitating for more federal revenue allocation. If we go back into the history of the making of the Nigerian nation, we would discover that other parts of the country had faced similar challenges of disadvantaged development in the past. For instance, in the sphere of education, the western and coastal parts of the country came in contact with educational opportunities well ahead of other Nigerians in the hinterland of the east and north. Western formal education as we know it today, started in the Lagos-Abeokuta axis in the 1840's through the work of British missionaries. It was not until fifty years later in the 1890's that the same opportunity reached the eastern hinterland of the Igbo nation. But it will be instructive for the North to learn what the East did or did not do to bridge the 50 years head start the West gave them in formal education. First, what they did not do was ask the British for a preferential status or a lessened pace of educational development in the West to enable the East do a catch-up. Rather eastern communities, leaders and families came together to support their promising young men and women, and push them up the educational ladder. The success of this proactive approach paid off so much for the East that by 1947, the Eastern Region had 320,000 pupils in primary schools compared to the Western Region's 240,000 students and the North's 66,000. Ten years later in 1957, the primary school enrolment figure was to expand further in favor of the Eastern Region as they recorded 1,209,000 in primary schools compared to the West's 983,000 and the North's 206,000. Even when we bring a comparative study of educational development between the geopolitical zones to our most recent history, we can still see how the North is strangulating itself with wrong-headed policies. For instance, from the 70's up to the late 90's, the South south zone was grouped alongside the North as educationally disadvantaged, but current comparative figures on secondary net attendance for 2007 show that the South-south has far bested the Northwest and Northeast - 72.3% for the South south compared to 30.1% for the Northwest and 8.1% for the Northeast. The remarkable progress recorded by the South south in education has equally reduced the relative poverty in the zone to 35.1% compared to 71.2% in the Northwest and 72.2% in the Northeast. The backwardness of the North is evidently the culmination of an evil plot by northern elites to hold the masses of northerners down with the suffocating power of illiteracy and ignorance, whereas they send their own children to the best Catholic schools and first class educational institutions at home and abroad. What they have failed to realize is that they and their children cannot forever be cocooned in islands of splendor amidst the seas of abject poverty and ignorance surrounding them. It is a time bomb that is destined to explode sometime, somewhere. And explode it did.
The rise of Boko Haram - the consequence of a disdain for education For anybody who has lived in the north of Nigeria, as I have, the emergence of the Boko Haram, with the clarion call that western education is evil, is no surprise. As a resident of Kano in the early 80's, whilst working with the Federal Ministry of Information, what struck me most about the North was the unhidden disdain for formal education by the people. "Ba turenchi" was the proudest response you got from the average person on the street to any question posed in English, our national official language. Though one may not be the greatest fan of Britain, one of the most indebted countries in the world today, the colonialists bestowed us with a language, English that has become the greatest communication tool for most global transactions and interactions. What I even found most perplexing in my extensive tours of Kano state was the tacit support the elites of the region gave to the status quo. Whereas this cabal of self conceited hypocrites enrolled their own children in the best schools of the land, even Christian missionary schools, the children of the lesser, almajaris, were left to roam the streets with Islamic school tablets and beggar plates. It is therefore not surprising that Boko Haram, like Maitatsine and other such extremist schools before it, rose from the oft trot dusty streets of northern cities. To these brainwashed urchins, western education is evil, because that is what the elites of their region have led them to believe. Elites, who are promoting, selfish wrong-headed agenda that aim to hold the majority of the population in enduring subjugation, while denying them the tools to see a clearer picture of where the world around them was headed. It is obvious that the elites of the region are out to protect and perpetuate its kind in power with a contemptuous disregard for the marginalized majority. Ordinarily, one would have been expected, that in order to move their people out of poverty through education, the leaders of an educationally challenged and poverty ravaged regions like the Northwest and Northeast should have used the opportunity of the rise of the Boko Haram to rally the support of their people to extol the virtues of education. No they would not do that. Rather, what the so called northern leaders are doing is falling over each in their show of moral and financial support for Boko Haram, with the flawed logic that they are fighting against the wresting of power from them by President Jonathan. That is why the new call from the North is that of economic marginalization and the need to accord them a more favorable share of the national wealth - a wealth they have proven themselves incapable of contributing to its creation, or using to get their people out of poverty. Who actually is being economically marginalized in the North - the poor hapless individuals that daily throng the streets of northern cities, or the cabal that has stolen and stashed away over 60% of the national oil in the past four decades?
Moving forward The north of Nigeria, especially the northwest and the northeast, has undoubtedly become the Igbo proverbial tsetse fly that has perched on the scrotum - swat it with the needed force and you risk damaging your vital members, allow it to stay undisturbed and you risk having the blood sucked out of you. The far north of Nigeria has indeed been sucking not only the blood out of Nigeria, it is also sucking the air out of Nigeria's attempts to elevate itself to its rightful position in the world as an emerging economic power. The country has paid dearly in the blood of the over 2 million Nigerians, who have died in the course of building a nation where some sub-units are hell bent on sabotaging such efforts. Sir Ahmadu Bello was right when he said in 1953 that the north was not ready for independence and would rather be left to develop at its own pace. All efforts contrary to the wishes of the Sarduana have proven over all these years to be akin to forcing an unwilling horse to drink. Thus one can understand the exasperation behind Chief Nduka Eya's recent call on the Northern leaders to show the rest of the nation their true intentions. However, what the Ohaneze scribe and many others have failed to understand is that the Northern elites showed us their true intentions long ago - under the rule of the Sarduana of Sokoto and his colonial masters. It is the same very script of those foundation days that is still being played out by the current leaders of the North. The only thing that has changed is the dramatis personae and a couple of important variables; the goal remains the same for the North - it is either they rule or it is ARABA! Perhaps, the most important variable that has changed, and which is still keeping the nation together, is BIG OIL. And until the day oil runs dry, we shall continue to contend with the intrigues of the northern elites. So the best option for the rest of Nigeria is to go back to the drawing boards to strategize the best ways to propel themselves and their regions forward, while being dragged backwards by the weight of the North. The advice here is for those progressive zones of Nigeria like the Southwest, South south, Southeast and North central to readjust their developmental strategies and run their geopolitical zones as single and unified economic blocs, irrespective of the artificial state boundaries; much like the confederal system proposed at Aburi. This is the best way they can move their peoples into prosperity with the right skills, which can only be supplied by sound education and sound political decisions. The Southwest is already headed in this direction. Boko Haram and their creators should be ignored and contained within the enclaves of their creators, supporters, sympathizers and justifiers. It is time the real Nigerians moved forward.

We All Belong To A Flock Of Human Sheep - Baa!

Sometimes it's good to be a human sheep, like when you're driving in traffic or following the tried and true training regime, being part of the work team, obeying lawful orders in the military or from other authority figures vetted for that purpose. You're expected to be a sheep and follow the rules when participating in sporting events.
On the other hand, at times there's something to be said for marching to the beat of a different drummer. Alas, what's drummed into you tends to be something akin to being told to "Jump", and you meekly reply, "How high?" Baa!
Unfortunately, there's no shortage of that "How High" reply. For example:
Religion: There's relatively little that need to be said here. Billions upon billions of people past and present would bet the family farm that a monotheistic deity (Allah, God, Jehovah, the Almighty, etc.) exists despite the fact that there is no evidence that one can see, hear, touch or taste or smell than even remotely hints at such a deity, far less confirms the actual existence. Whether Muslim, Christian, or Jew, there are just certain times of the day, week, month or year when you go to your closet and pull out and don your sheep coverings. It's all due to the concept being rammed down your throat by authority figures from an early age, because they had that concept rammed down their throat when they were young and impressionable, and so on down the line to thousands of years ago. Would someone born and raised in an environment that had no concept of the supernatural come to believe in a monotheistic deity of their own intellect? - Probably not. Baa!
When in Rome: Unless you're a hermit, you have to mingle with the great unwashed and it's not just 'when in Rome do as the Romans do' but in anytown do as the local anytowners do or you will find yourself in social strife. Many a movie plot revolves around that theme of the alien and the alienated other, a stranger in a strange land; the outcast. Dare to be different but wear iron-plated underwear. It doesn't take much otherness for anytowners to resort to necktie parties. On a scale of 0 to 10 for human tolerance of the other, well maybe 0.5 is a reasonable score. The other had better conform. Baa!
Christmas: The bills, the cards you send to people you really don't give a damn about, the bills, the unneeded and unwanted presents you receive, the bills, all those presents you get to give to the great unwashed, the bills, the wrappings, the bills, the Xmas trees, the bills, the baubles, the bills, the Xmas lights, the bills, the decorations, the bills, the family guests you'd rather not have come around, the bills, the extra food (with a usually ever unchanging and boring menu), the bills, the cleanup, the bills, all those lengthy hours spend Xmas shopping for others instead of yourself, and oh, did I mention the bills that come due? Are we having fun yet? Why do people voluntarily subject themselves to total insanity; this annual nightmare, even if you can afford the bills? The only institutions to benefit are the banks who issue the credit cards and the retail sector. Nor can you use the excuse that you're just part of the masses observing the birthday of Jesus. Nowhere in any religious literature, like the New Testament, will you find the date, even the month or season when the alleged deity Jesus was born. And woe to any authority figure who says there's no Santa Claus. They will be crucified - reality is damned. Baa!
Birthdays: We nearly all 'celebrate' birthdays, our own obviously, and those most near and dear to us: WTF? Why 'celebrate' another anniversary of coming ever closer to your final demise, or the demise of those nearest and dearest to you, and why not celebrate, if you must celebrate, a date some nine months earlier at the conception instead of when you or yours were hatched? Many people also 'celebrate' the birthday of those already dead, why I'm not sure since they can't participate in that 'celebration'. There's also the idiocy of 'celebrating' someone's birthday on the wrong day, the example that immediately springs to mind is that of the British Queen Liz, at least in Australia. Then there's the even greater idiocy of 'celebrating' the birthday of someone on a date that isn't known with any remote degree of certainty, and of that same someone whose very existence is open to question - Jesus. Baa!
Peers Rule, OK: People, especially young people want to fit in, be accepted by their equals. In order to do that, they have to be just another face in that crowd of peers, and dress the part. If the 'uniform' of the day is wearing backward facing baseball caps, then to fit in you'd better wear your baseball cap on back-to-front. Another common 'uniform' accessory is the 600 ml bottle of water or soft drink tucked away in the required backpack, all part of the non-conformist uniform (vis-à-vis your non-peers) you wear to conform (vis-à-vis your peers). Now that bottle has to contain THE brand name. Any old brand just isn't acceptable. Now marketing gurus, knowing this, rub their greedy little paws together and laugh all the way to the bank. It doesn't take much to verify that a 600 ml bottle of top brand X will usually cost twice to three times as much as a standard 1.25 or even a 2 litre bottle of the same. THE top brand of course, in any size, will cost way more, two to three times more, than an in-store house generic brand of the same size, even though the difference in taste is usually minimal, if that. But, your peers say that THE brand, in this size, is required to be part of the in-crowd, so THE 600 ml top brand it is. Baa!
The In-Crowd: The in-crowd is not the exact same mob as your peers. The in-crowd is a combo of the 'right' place populated with the 'right' people. Not just any crowd found in any old place qualifies. Personally I find pandering to the social scene, the society pages, as if this somehow elevates your worthiness Boring (with a capital B). Besides, when all aspire to be one with the social set, the in-crowd elite, you become part of a flock again, even if it's the upper-crust flock. Baa!
Fawning Over British Royalty: Why do millions of people fawn over just a couple of handful of peoples who lead the super ultra good life plus; are a drain on the public purse; are a totally dysfunctional family; who never had to earn their position in life, yet who sit on the commoners throne in the same manner as the great unwashed? What's Queen Liz (for example) done for you lately to earn your bowing and scraping? Baa!
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc.: Its obvious physical substances can cause addictions. Apart from tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, legal and illegal, you're addicted to eating and breathing! You can also become addicted to various chemicals your brain produces when gambling, which is why gambling is addictive to some. But email addiction? Though I know humans are social animals, there's something totally over-the-top in and use and abuse of social media. When you feel you have to log into these sites dozens, even multi-dozens of times a day, even when sitting on the throne or in a movie theatre or while shopping in the supermarket then you're an addict, and IMHO in serious need of some therapy. You know, every now and then it's good to just chill out, unplug the computer, and be your own best friend. Baa!
Mobile Phones: Closely related to the above, it seems that everybody and their great grandmothers have got to have a mobile phone, turned on, right next to their body, 24/7/52, in case someone wants to get in contact, or, shock-horror, failing that, so they can contact someone. This obsession with talking to people virtually non-stop is beyond my comprehension, especially when you overhear the nature of the conversations; say on the bus or in the supermarket or, much to the annoyance of others, in the theatre. It's usually anything but important. In fact, it's usually so trivial as to even be below the level of trivia. Whoever invented the mobile phone must be laughing all the way to the bank to deposit their latest billion dollar profit on the royalties, all because they had the insight that people somehow feel they need to bend other people's ears, and have their ears bent in return, with trivia, trivia and more trivia. It used to be the case that only politicians and real estate agents and used car salesmen spouted off hot air. That's no longer true. In the here and now, never have so many, said so much, about so little. Baa!
Marketing Those Fads & Fashions: Since you were knee-high to a grasshopper, you've been exposed to hundreds of thousands of marketing gimmicks* designed to make you think you need something you probably don't, at a higher price than you should pay, all for the sake of the almighty profit of thousands of for-profit companies. You're bombarded with ads on the telly, on the radio, in the movie theatre, in the baseball park, on billboards, skywriting, on the sides of buses, on buildings, in magazines and newspapers, on the Internet, email spam, junk mail spam, even the layout of goods in the shops is designed to get you to part with your money. Neon signs flash out their messages of 'must haves'. You get bombarded constantly with symbols, jingles, too good to be true images, sex appeal that sells, appeals to the good life, promoting being forever young, etc. Hype, hype and more hype is the order of the day. Is there any product in existence that hasn't been 'new and improved' dozens of times over? What does 'whiter than white' or 'fresher than fresh' or 'flavour you can see' really mean? Then there's 'certified organic' food, or 'real food' (as if to suggest some foods aren't real or aren't organic - maybe they mean those plastic apples and bananas, etc. that decorate some living room bowls). If there were really such a thing as truth in advertising we wouldn't need any agency dealing with consumer affairs. Where does it all get you? As the song lyrics go, "another day older and deeper in debt", and a lot unhealthier too since a lot of that marketing goes into foods that contribute more calories than nutrition, alcohol products often abused, tobacco products which help keep the medical profession fully employed and a profitable one. The bottom line is that such gimmicks work; otherwise ads would have proved to be more expensive than the profits they brought in and cut from the company's bottom line. Actually it doesn't always have to be a for-profit motive. 'Join the Navy and see the world' or 'vote for me' are non-profit marketing exercises. Still, Madison Avenue and associated equivalents not only think you're sheep, they know you are. Baa!
There's A Sucker Born Every Minute: There's a sucker born every minute so it doesn't take all that long therefore to gather together a flock of suckers. For example, why would anyone spend their dollars on bottled water when tap water is nearly free in comparison - unless of course there's something seriously wrong with the tap water but that's rare in most advanced countries today. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the tap water where I live. It tastes A-OK and I haven't gotten ill from using it yet, yet bottled water is a big seller locally. It nearly flies off the supermarket shelves so it's a flock of suckers buying it. Why? Well, there's a sucker born every minute, that's why. Baa!
Walking Billboards: Many of us, probably all of us if truth be known, own items of clothing, usually tee-shirts, which 'advertises' or promotes something or other. Perhaps that lettering or image reflects a product like a soft drink, or perhaps a band tour, the name of a company, your alma mater, a favourite sports team, an entertainment figure or image, your holiday destination; the range is just about limitless. No doubt that reflects some personal parts of your, well, personality, something that's your favourite something. Akin to that, you drive a certain brand of automobile that probably has a nearly irremovable sticker of the automobile dealer you bought the car from. Those items of clothing, that brand of car, that dealer's sticker, and a lot more besides, are all free advertising donated by you to whatever agency owns that image or brand name. When you buy a home the real estate agency slaps a big "SOLD" sign with their logo in front for all to see. If you have some sort of renovations to the home's exterior, the company doing the work will place a sign in front letting all who pass by who did that fine bit of reconstruction, It's pretty hard to avoid advertising someone else's product or business, but you do it and boy-oh-boy, don't those outsiders just love you for it since it doesn't cost them a cent. They are just ROTFLTAO at how they get extra mileage out of you at no additional deficit to their profit margin; in fact you are contributing to additional profits for them without anyone helping out your economic bottom line. Baa!
Reviews: The point of an independent and neutral 'Review' of say restaurants, books, films, CDs, etc. is to inform. Your reaction to such reviews is a go/no-go depending on what the reviewer says. So in fact, the reviewer is leading you around by the nose. Around the water cooler at work, you don't want to be caught out not having read this week's 'must read' (or vice versa, having read something some 'expert' bucketed), or admit not to have dined out at this new five star eatery (or again vice versa if you had and the review suggested that not even a cockroach would be seen dining there). Reviews and reviewers may have their place, but the implication is that you're a sheep that needs them to do your thinking for you. Baa!
Keeping up with the Jones Family: Who hasn't heard of that expression? But isn't it really way more than just an expression? Your fellow co-worker just moves into a new four bedroom home while you are still in a old three bedroom resident. Is this a motivation to move on up in the world? Your neighbour buys a new deluxe 4WD automobile while you still putt-putt-putt around in a Model-T by comparison. Is a trip to the automobile dealer on the agenda next weekend? Your second cousin just upgraded to this new and improved wireless PC while your landline tabletop computer is within months of a hard disk crash it's that old. 99% of all those around you seem to have this tablet, that smart phone, this iPod, while you are still a relatively technological Neanderthal. But you'll show them!!! Your wife complains that you earn twice as much as her best friend's husband, yet his wife dresses twice as well as your wife does. What are you going to do about that? Have you been told today? Consider yourself told and act accordingly. Baa!
Melbourne Cup: Though this is uniquely Australian, I'm sure similar examples can be found around the globe. The Melbourne Cup is just another horse race in a land where horse races are a dime a dozen. However, this particular horse race is touted as the race that stops the nation. It's run on the first Tuesday in November, which is now a public holiday in the state of Victoria (where Melbourne is located) and there are serious calls to make it a public holiday throughout the entire country - for a horse race mind you! Anyway, holiday or not, for some inexplicable reason, for just this one horse race, the whole nation goes bonkers! For hours before and after the race no work gets done. Transport comes to a standstill during the race itself. People are glued to their TV or radio sets. Women dress up to the nines trying to outdo each other in who can appear in the most ridiculous hat. Everyone and his or her maiden aunt has a flutter (bet) on the outcome, and short of World War Three starting, it will be the lead item on the evening news and in the following morning's newspaper front page. All for a horse race mind you. Absolute insanity! Baa!

Who Wants to Be an Enemy Combatant?

The Supreme Court ruled in Boumediene v. Bush that the writ of habeas corpus applied to Guantanamo Bay detainees. The case was the first extension of habeas corpus - a legal tool to challenge the legality of one's imprisonment or detention - to aliens detained on foreign soil. The decision was 5-4, and it quite riled the dissenting justices. Demonstrating their typical originalist belief that ancient legal doctrines can never adapt to new circumstances, both Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts filed cantankerous dissenting opinions.
Both justices felt the foreign extension of the writ of habeas was unnecessary because a) it never had been done before and b) Congress, in its infinite wisdom, enacted the Detainee Treatment Act that was supposed to do the same thing for those unfortunate souls in Gitmo.
Even though the Detainee Treatment Act explicitly denied the application of habeas to Gitmo detainees, the dissenters thought it was good enough because it provided perfunctory oversight procedures as a putative substitute. According to Justice Roberts, since Congress is elected by people, Congress tried to give some review to Gitmo proceedings, and Congress passed the DTA with the noble intentions of keeping America safe, any judicial interference with the DTA is really the denial of the will of the people. It was a nice try for political theatre, but ill-reasoned as a matter of Constitutional law.
Most importantly, there are important distinctions between the true writ and the habeas-lite provided by the DTA. The DTA provided for limited evidentiary review, but not for the introduction of new evidence or other important aspects included in a habeas proceeding. The DTA only permitted a court to review whether a detention comports with the "standards and procedures specified by the Secretary of Defense" and whether those standards and procedures are lawful.
But the point of habeas is not simply a question of whether the military comports with its own standards, or even a question whether those standards are legal in themselves. The writ of habeas corpus is a question whether a specific detention is unjustified or unlawful.
The writ of habeas is an iconic feature of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence precisely for its evaluating the justice of each detention. In the words of the great Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, habeas is not "a static, narrow, formalistic remedy; its scope has grown to achieve its grand purpose." It "cuts through all forms and goes to the very tissue of the structure. It comes in from the outside, not in subordination to the proceedings, and although every form may have been preserved, opens the inquiry whether they have been more than an empty shell."
But even that grand purpose wasn't enough for Antonin Scalia. "America is at war with radical Islamists," the truculent justice sternly reminded us. Scalia argued that the Court's ruling would interfere with prosecution of said war, and in a stunning combination of argumentum ad absurdum and shameless demagogy, argued that the ruling may even result in American deaths.
But Scalia's thundering hyperbole was belied by reality. The entire difficulty of America's new war is that our enemy is not as clear cut as Scalia's litmus test of religious fervor. As William F. Buckley would remind the justice, "Terrorists were only yesterday engaged in ordinary occupations...shocking friends and family when they struck as terrorists."
Such a fact is unique to the war on terrorism and justifies the novel extension of habeas to detentions therein. The problem is we're not at war with Islamist extremists, really. We're at war with murderous terrorists - of whom most, but not all, happen to be Islamist extremists. In fact, according to a recent NYPD report, many of these Islamist extremists are Americans. Clearly, terrorism is not confined to a given nationality or religion.
The Arab world is filled with radical Islamists. But we're not supposed to be killing and detaining all of them; only the ones that try to kill Americans. The determination of murderous intent is essential to the effective prosecution of the war on terrorism. But because we want to severely punish terrorists - and rightly so - the high human cost makes the potential for injustice that much greater.
The obvious difficulty of determining terrorists from other radical Muslims is the entire reason why habeas is necessary to preserve the integrity and legitimacy of our legal system. The declaration of a human being as an enemy combatant, subject to military detention without legal protection, is not a decision that should be made without Constitutional limitations.
One does not seek to limit our President's prosecution of our enemies; we only seek to ensure he is actually prosecuting our enemies.
Scalia even unwittingly noted the idiocy of relying on the government to effectively decide whether a person was a true combatant. In dissent, Scalia noted that certain detainees released by the military had already returned to the battlefield, only to be captured again. Scalia used this fact to argue that the courts should not interfere with such a clearly difficult decision of whether a given detainee poses a threat to national security.
Unfortunately for Scalia, the logic persuades one otherwise. As the military has already admitted to releasing combatants, its exceedingly likely that they've also imprisoned non-combatants. And that's the whole point.
The difficulty in determining who is an enemy combatant in this 21st century war is exactly why we need review of the clearly imperfect decisions of our military and Commander in Chief. The new battlefield is not static, its soldiers are not uniformed, and as I'm sure we'd all concede, neither Congress nor George W. Bush is omniscient.

A Brief History of Female Sexuality

Sexuality is a "condition" that is characterized and distinguished by sex and passion. It is, again, according to American Heritage Dictionary, "the quality of possessing a sexual character or potency."
I really like that one. Potency. That means power.
Where "sex" is an act that has a beginning and end, "sexuality" is a quality, a sexual character and power. It has no beginning and end, no more than your personality does or your sense of aesthetics does. Sexuality is essential to your nature. It is you. It is your vitality. It is a wonderful thing.
Of course, the two - sex and sexuality - are related, and very often delightfully intertwined. However, I would argue that while it is possible to be sexual without having sex it is pretty close to impossible to truly enjoy sex without being in touch with your own sexuality. Which, in and of itself, is a pretty good reason to want to embrace your sexuality.
Too many women in the 21st century are divorced from their sexuality even as they participate in sexual acts. They may be having sexual intercourse with their partner or partners multiple times and reaching multiple orgasms but what they are engaged in is about as meaningful and deeply satisfying as riding an exercise bike. As a result, they come away from sex acts with a sense of "what's the big deal?" or that felt good for the moment. Or, worse, they feel degraded and/or diminished; reduced to an object. For many of them, a good session at the gym would be more fulfilling - and might even provide a more satisfying release.
My dear, let me be very clear - that is not the way it is supposed to be.
Sex without sexuality is too often demeaning, it reduces the sexual act to little more than a heaving, grunting, often-sloppy and sweaty physical endeavor. It is not called the "beast with two backs" for nothing. If all you're focused on is the "beast" part, the physical act, you cannot possibly be truly engaged in your own sexuality. Your sexuality is not engaged. And, when your sexuality is not engaged, you are removed from the power of the act.
However, with your genuine sexuality engaged, there is nothing you cannot do alone or with a partner that is not uplifting, satisfying and consistent with the person your are - whether that's a twenty year old college student or a fifty-two year old church volunteer. With your sexuality engaged, that heaving, humping beast with two backs is an explosion of wonderful passion.
In short, it is and can be exotic and mind blowing. And when sex is emotionally deep and erotic, you and your partner are truly bonded together - rather than being the sexual equivalent of opposing and competing wrestlers, with you invariably being the one pinned down for the count, you are in control. You can be more or less dominant and be thrilled by either because no matter how you behave in a sexual encounter, it is true to who you are; it is true to your sense of your sexuality.
Unfortunately, history has rarely embraced this uplifting view of female sexuality. It has long viewed male and female sexuality as opposing forces, in opposition and in competition to one another. Not as it should be.
In ancient China, men who engaged in masturbation risked a complete loss of vital yang essence. As such, it was strictly forbidden. Women did not risk the same loss of their vital essence. The rules about female masturbation were much more specific and focused on a particular concern; women were free to masturbate as much as they liked, as they possessed an unlimited yin, however, they were warned against masturbating with foreign objects which could injure the womb and internal sexual organs.
Because women were understood to have an inexhaustible yin essence, they could keep on having orgasms long after their male partners had been reduced to shrunken, limp lumps of flesh snoring alongside them, while female sexuality was expressed in multiple ways. In addition to masturbation, lesbian relations were encouraged. Male homosexuality was forbidden, however as such behavior was thought to result in a complete loss of yang essence. In this Chinese understanding, sexual relationships between men could only result in the net loss of the yang without any possibility of regaining it, which was possible with heterosexual relationships.
Although a bit at odds with our modern sensibility, at least sexuality in ancient China was deeply rooted to a sense of essential essences. Sex was never just a physical act. Sexuality had everything to do with something basic in the nature of what it meant to be a man or a woman. Therefore, any sexual act was understood in the context of their fundamental essences - yin and yang.
For this reason, prostitution was very much accepted in ancient China. Men seemed to think that engaging with prostitutes gave them the opportunity to gain additional yin from them, more than from "normal" women. Men could "gain" some of that essence from women. In particular, the belief was that a woman who had sex with many men began to acquire some of the yang essence from her customers, yang essence that could then be "shared." Consequently, it was possible for a man to gain more yang from a sexual encounter with a prostitute than he lost and more than he could gain from relations with his wife who, presumably, only had sexual relations with him.
This somewhat balanced the understanding of what essential male and female sexuality meant and began to change during the Ch'in Dynasty (221 b.c.e to 24 c.e.) when the role and place of women shifted from one of sexual energy to one of more familiar modern gender roles.
When the Ch'in Dynasty shifted from the Taoist culture that had predominated China to a Confusianist culture, women's roles and the understanding of sexuality and sexual behavior then shifted dramatically. No longer was sexuality and behavior determined by essential nature, by the yin and the yang. Instead, there was a more "traditional" - patriarchal cultural dynamic. The dynamic many of us are currently familiar with. Women were not just possessing of a different essence than men but they were considered inferior to men. Physical relations between men and women were found mostly in marriage and were only to take place in the bedroom. At the conclusion of such "contact," all physical contact was to end - there was to be no contact even between husband and wife.
In a way that is only too familiar to those of us in Western Civilization, sex itself came to be considered sinful and tolerated solely for the process of procreation.
Even at the conclusion of the Ch'in Dynasty, when the Han Dynasty embraced a return to a Taoist worldview, new perspectives on sexuality and sex had taken hold. Taoism had become a more structured and organized religion, with its own churches and priests. So too, sexuality and sexual behavior had become more rigidly structured. Sexual behavior was formalized, even finding expression in written texts. Two of the most famous of these texts were The Handbook of the Plain Girl and The Art of the Bedchamber.
In both, a "Yellow Emperor" sought to live a long, healthy life and to attain some degree or form of immortality through sex. In order to accomplish his lofty goal he needed to become an expert at techniques that would prolong his orgasm and allow his sexual partner to orgasm several times. By doing so, he would maximize the amount of her yin essence that he would gain from their encounter while minimizing his own loss of yang essence.
While concerns about yin and yang are foreign to our understanding, one valuable insight we can gain from these perspectives is that sexuality was considered essential to who we are and that sexual mores change. This Eastern view is consistent with our understanding that one is a dynamic, constant sexuality fluidity and the other is defined by the times and circumstances of sexual behavior and roles. During times when the two were balanced, there was a sensible and satisfying cultural norm that blends sex and sexuality.
Unfortunately, there have been too many other times when the two were in conflict. This back and forth seems to have defined much of Western culture and history, as well as the role of women and sex in our society. And, as frustrating as it is to find ourselves at the dawn of the 21st century still sorting out the power and need for sexual awareness and the ability to embrace sexuality. Fortunately, we are in a better place than women have been through most of history. We still have a long way to go for women to feel comfortable and confident with their sexuality and know the difference between sex and sexuality.
In Medieval times people's fears focused on three things: the Devil, Jews, and women. The fear of women was completely tied into the perceived threat of female sexuality. In the "dark, moist heat" of women's sexuality, men became prostrate with fear and trembling, a fear and trembling that have continued to the beginning of the twentieth century and, in far too many places across the globe, to the dawn of the twenty-first century.
Ironically, texts from the time display an astonishing detail of female anatomy and function. Men seemed to get the physical component right but when it came to understanding and embracing a woman's essence, they fell far short. And these were not mere "common" men. As seems to be the case over and over again, the hysteria that punished women for being women came from the very minds and men who were capable of understanding physicality. The condemnation of doctors, "physics" and ministers might seem astonishing to us now - the stuff of witch hunts and fiction - but it continues to inform our sensibilities.
The times taught that female sexuality was a serpent that was secretly guided into the heart. Goethe, writing about syphilis, used similar imagery when he demonized the disease as a beast and warning of "a serpent which lurks in the loveliest of gardens and strikes us at our pleasures".
In this poetic turn, Goethe captured the true "horror" of female sexuality and gets at the heart of men's fear - it ensnares men in that "loveliest" of gardens, striking them at their "pleasures," when they are most vulnerable.
In the last half of the nineteenth century, when more "rational" thinking took over, the female disorders of nymphomania, masturbation, moral insanity, hysteria and neurasthenia were almost universally believed to be a serious threat to health and life and civilization. Most "experts" presumed these dire maladies were the inevitable result of reading inappropriate novels or playing romantic music.
Novels and music?!
As irrational as this might seem, there are still large, mainstream religious institutions which separate boys and girls, prohibit music and dancing, and discourage any contact with modern culture.
Are we so very different than those who lived in the Victorian age?
Then, there were instances of mass hysteria much like the Salem witch episodes in which women were taken with something called "menstrual madness" and insanity, diseases which required an immediate response and often a very radical "cure." Menstrual madness was often "cured" by laparotomy and bilateral "normal ovariotomy." This is the removal of normal ovaries known as "Battey's Operation".
One professor of psychology, Charcot, gave public demonstrations of hysteria in women in the 1870's that emphasized his belief that most mental disease in women resulted from abnormalities or excitation of the female external genitalia. Or, to put it bluntly, he masturbated these women in public!
Now, these public demonstrations may strike you a bit pornographic because... well, according to our standards today, they were!You could be sure that these "clinical tutorials" were very well attended by scores of men who were only too pleased to witness - in the most graphic detail - the demonic role of the vulva and clitoris in the causation of hysterical attacks in Charcot's young and, not incidentally, attractive patients.
The Internet does not deliver anything any more graphic or pornographic.
In an historical note, one of Charcot's pupils was none other than Sigmund Freud, who attended these demonstrations at the La Salpêtrière for five months, repeated this fashionable view in his writings and lectures while also stressing the effect of the mind on gynecological and mental disease.
There is reasonable evidence that Freud modified his case histories - excluding the realities of deviant sexuality and sexual abuse and replacing them with sexual fantasies which would be much more acceptable to the Viennese upper middle class who were his audience.
I trust you are beginning to recognize a pattern here. There is a very clear thematic trend in the history of female sex and sexuality.
During Victorian times, when much of our "modern" understanding of women's sexuality found its voice, women were taught not to enjoy sexual activity. They were taught to actively repress their passions. They were actually taught - in so many words - that their enjoyment of sex existed in direct proportion to the moral decline of society.
With that kind of burden, it is not surprising that few women felt any sexual desire and satisfaction. How could a woman embrace her lover in full joy when, in the back - or front - of her mind she held the belief, a belief imposed upon her by her teachers, her clergy and her family, that by doing so she was contributing to the destruction of all that was good in the world.
Talk about a surefire way to inhibit pleasure and orgasm!
For the Victorian woman, sex had one purpose and one purpose alone - to procreate. Ugh! Makes it sound like an unpleasant chore, doesn't it? It followed from this that a girl or woman's worth prior to marriage (the only social structure in which this procreation could take place) had worth only if she remained chaste and pure.
Once married, she could expect to be engaged by her husband in conjugal acts only when "necessary."
Let's pause for a moment just to parse the profoundly disturbing truths in that last observation. The first, of course, is that sex was reduced to an act that was engaged in only when "necessary" - presumably for the relief and release of the husband and to further the goal of procreation. The second, however, is more subtle and even more damaging. "She could expect to be engaged by her husband..." In regards to sex acts, and her sexuality, the woman was to be passive. She was nothing more than the recipient of someone else's sexual wants, needs and demands - for purposes that she did not demand. She had no control over, no rights to, and indeed, was meant to remain ignorant and disapproving of her own sexuality.
It is impossible to examine the nineteenth-century medical attitude to female sexuality and come away with the feeling that it was anything but cruel and heartless. We would be kind to call it ignorant. But it was too malicious to be merely ignorant. It was damaging and malevolent. With professionals, gynecologists and psychiatrists, leading the charge, the medical professions designed treatments designed to "cure" those serious contemporary disorders, masturbation and nymphomania.
The gynecologist, Isaac Baker Brown (1811-1873), and the distinguished endocrinologist, Charles Brown-Séquard (1817-1894) advocated clitoridectomy to prevent the progression to masturbatory melancholia, paralysis, blindness and even death! A rational person might think that these professionals would have been tarred and feathered for their cruel views.
A rational person would have been wrong.
Society as a whole embraced their horrific view of women.
Before becoming self-righteous in our judgments, however, we must ask ourselves, Have we changed so much? Compare the perspective and behavior of those Victorians to our modern world where this same operation is still being forced upon women and girls in Asia and Africa and certain religious communities throughout the world!
Look at our own communities where young girls and women are made to feel ashamed and "dirty" for having sexual thoughts and desires.
Still, things are much better than our Victorian past, when the medical contempt for normal female sexual development was reflected in public and literary attitudes. Consider that there existed virtually no novel or opera in the last half of the 19th century where the heroine with "a past" managed to survive to the end.
The Victorian woman was reduced to simply a vessel. Oh, she was a highly-valued and a necessary "vessel". After all, sex was necessary to further the biological imperative. (Imagine someone using a line like that in a bar! "Hello, my dear, would you consider furthering the biological imperative?" My guess is that someone using that line wouldn't be getting laid that night!)
Any sexual desire that a Victorian woman experienced was, by definition, contradictory to her virtue. According to The Physician and Sexuality in Victorian America (1974) by John S. Haller Jr., and Robin M. Haller, sexual promiscuity was an "ominous indication of national decay," and not a sign of women's liberation at that time.
This was the dominant perspective during Victorian times. As bad as it was, Victorian times were not Medieval times. Even against this bleak backdrop, there were other points of view being expressed. Many early "love manuals" actually emphasized sex for pleasure also. These manuals took the position that there could be equality in the marriage bed. An early indication that for sexuality to flourish, there has to be an acknowledgement of the equal needs and value of the partners in the sex act. There has to be respect and value on the needs, wants and desires of each partner.
These manuals took the revolutionary position that a women's interest in sex depended upon her ability to seek satisfaction along with her partner. Sex could be an enjoyable act separate from its procreative imperative alone.
Joy of joys!
Of course, even these enlightened views were tempered by the presumption that indulging in sex too frequently was likely not a healthy thing and indicative of moral shortcomings.
So, there were other, "quieter voices" that spoke out in favor of greater sexual expression and enjoyment. Unfortunately, the dominant view took the more powerful grip on the culture's defining morals. During the 1840's there was a greater emphasis on the health aspects of "conjugal discourse" and less on the enjoyment aspects. There was a tendency to advocate for even less frequency in sex than earlier years. William Acton wrote in his text, Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs (1888), that women experienced "no need for sex."
No need for sex!? Certainly the idiocy of his position would have been disputed on its face.
Of course it wasn't. Not only was it not disputed but it was actually applauded by others, including women. Acton's belief that women were apathetic to the notion of sex in marriage had a great ally in Mary Wood Allen, M.D., Superintendent of the Purity Department of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. She held that "the most genuine love between a husband and a wife existed in the lofty sphere of platonic embrace."
Thanks for nothing, Mary! I guess her idea of a successful marriage was a husband and wife having a "sleepover" together, perhaps going so far as to hold hands and gaze warmly at one another as the night deepened around them.
As if to prove that when it comes to silly ideas no degree of extremism is impossible, other manuals of the time embraced the idea of marital continence, which referred to the " voluntary and entire absence from sexual indulgence in any form."
People who took this position pointed their boney, self-righteous fingers at women who deigned to seek sexual satisfaction and accused them of not leading "God-filled lives." We have evolved remarkably since then. We tend only to call them names like "slut" or "nymphomaniac."
Thankfully, there were also sensible voices shouting to be heard. Sometimes, the arguments seemed to build on the foundation that women did not desire sexual satisfaction, as the argument of Elizabeth Blackwell, a physician who believed that female's lack of sexual lust came from a fear of injury in childbirth. Implicit in her belief was that women lacked sexual desire or lust. So too when she noted that women were passive because men would be rushed to perform quickly, leaving them without gratification.
At least her observations hold true in one fundamental aspect - women have consistently blunted their sexuality and sexual desires in order to maximize the "gratification" of men.
There were enlightened voices crying out. Not everyone was blind to the truth of women's sexuality. There were physicians who argued that a women's capacity for sexual gratification was at times more intense and prolonged than the males. These physicians viewed ignorance as the root of the problem women had with sexuality. They argued that women's lack of sensible sexual education had taught them to believe that any sexual feeling was "indecent and immoral." As a result, women had become a race of sexless creatures, little more than "married nuns," who experienced no pleasurable feeling during sex.

Vote To Change Course

Many of the greatest minds in human history believed democracy was folly. Human beings are too emotional, too self-centered, too undisciplined to govern themselves. In a democracy the only impediment standing between freedom and tyranny is time - every democracy has failed. The United States is on a course to prove the critics of self-government correct. On the road to ruin all our political leaders can do is step on the accelerator.
The theme of national elections of late has been "change". Unfortunately, the only thing people like better than the way things are, is the way things were. We are living on borrowed time - time borrowed from our children.
To change this reality requires the people show some resolve.
In America we like to believe freedom is a universal value. Yet with freedom comes responsibility - these are two sides of the same coin. Though we claim we want freedom, we enthusiastically shift responsibility away from individuals and cast into the realm of public goods - public goods we can readily ignore.
To enjoy freedom we, the people, must bear responsibility - there is no other way.
To fund this collective foolishness we pile up debt at an unsustainable rate. No less than George Washington warned as our fledgling nation struggled to survive: 'To contract new debts is not the way to pay the old. We ungenerously throw upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.'
Our centralized, redistributive social, economic, and national security policies are stripping individual responsibility. We compound our error by consequently funding the imagined utopia with borrowed dollars. This madness accomplishes three temporary conveniences:
1. We avoid having to share our lives and property with our parents or our children. We all know how challenging that could be.
2. We are complicit in a fools-errand attempting to extend life indefinitely through every measure of medical intervention. We outspend the world on healthcare, but don't seem healthier for it.
3. We enrich the craftiest among us - those who recognize the idiocy of public policy and organize to skim all means of profit in everything from healthcare to national security.
Our supposed leaders cannot, will not, do what is necessary and required to save the republic. Lacking real leaders and true statesmen, it is time the people step up. It is time for the people to be counted. It is time to vote for real change.
Abraham Lincoln once remarked, "The people will save their government, if the government itself will allow it." Changing course will be painful; changing course will require sacrifice; changing course will mean taking responsibility for our actions and our lives. Are we up to the task?
The United States was built by dreamers and risk takers - people who were willing to act; people who were willing to dare and to persevere. Some of those people still dwell among us. Are the masses - the people like you and me - ready to take on the challenge?
What we overcome makes us stronger. Instead of following the route of least resistance we must venture forth and begin building anew.
It is time we bear the mantle of freedom and become responsible citizens of a democracy again. Instead of voting against reform, against fiscal discipline, and against responsible government, vote to restore our dignity and our honor. Vote to change course.

Down Syndrome

Dr. John Langdon Down, born in 1828 and died in 1896, was the medical superintendent of the Royal Earlswood Asylum for Idiots in London. He studied what he termed Mongolian idiocy which was based on the measurements of the head and palate. This became a racial stereotype in that Asian descendants were called Mongoloids, but they are not directly related to Mongolian idiocy, now termed Down syndrome or Trisomy 21 (Ward, 2004).
More than six thousand babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year. Down syndrome occurs in all races, ethnic groups, socioeconomic classes, and nationalities. Genetics play a major role in Down syndrome. A person without Down syndrome has forty-six chromosomes, while a person with Down syndrome has forty-seven. This results from cell division, which is how the chromosomes divide between the sperm and egg, usually twenty-three for each. Down syndrome is determined by looking at a karyotype or a picture of chromosomes after cell division is complete. Chromosomes can be taken through amniotic fluid, usually done by an amniocentesis. Down syndrome is characterized by looking at the twenty-first chromosome which has three chromosomes instead of two, thus called Trisomy 21 (Stray-Gundersen, 1995). Persons with Down syndrome have many different physical characteristics, such as low muscle tone, small facial features, a protruding tongue, smaller head circumference, short stature, and small, webbed hands and feet.
My research is based on the social-conflict theory because society fears what they do not understand, therefore, conflict arises within the socialization of a person with Down syndrome. My hypothesis is that society has a negative perspective of individuals with Down syndrome. For my research, I distributed twenty open-ended questionnaires to ten males and ten females of an all Caucasian population. The total population had ages ranging from twenty years to sixty years. Approximately one-third of the population studied came from Peoria, Illinois. Close to one-third of the population resided in cities south of Peoria, Illinois and roughly another third of the population I chose lived just north of Peoria, Illinois. The majority of my subjects had some college education, while a portion had a high school diploma and a few had a college degree. Annual household incomes ranged from zero to twenty-five thousand dollars to more than sixty-five thousand dollars with the majority earning over sixty-five thousands dollars a year. Of the twenty subjects, there were various religions reported, such as Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, and Lutheran, nondenominational Christian. I did not find any correlations between the residence, education, income, or religion of my subjects and Down Syndrome. Over half of the subjects studied knew one or more persons with Sown syndrome, while seven said they did not know anyone with Down syndrome.
I did discover that the majority of females tend to be more passive and positive about Down syndrome, whereas most of the males had more realistically, yet negative comments related to Down syndrome. Age did play a factor in my research in that the subjects, age twenty to forty-five, have less knowledge about Down syndrome. Eleven people said that the maternal age of a newborn with Down syndrome is over thirty-five years. I found that the more personal experience an individual has with Down syndrome, the more knowledge they have about this defect. The frequency of babies born with Down syndrome is based on the mother's age at delivery. At the age of twenty-two, the estimated risk is 1/1065. At the age of thirty-five, the risk is 1/274. This does not mean that only women thirty-five and older have babies with Down syndrome. In fact, seventy percent of babies with Down syndrome are born to mothers under thirty-five. This is because women under age thirty-five have more babies than women over thirty-five (Stray-Gundersen).
Fourteen individuals reported that a person with Down syndrome should live with their family because the family is where the support and love are. On the other hand, six of the fourteen also stated only if the parents give the person with Down syndrome love, or only if at all possible, or only if the parents want to care for the child with Down syndrome. Overall, the results were eighteen out of twenty people surveyed did not feel that a person with Down syndrome could live independently.
I asked all twenty subjects if they had heard of any stereotypes related to Down syndrome. Nine, who were mostly females, said no to this question. Eleven persons gave detailed stereotypes and discriminating words that refer to Down syndrome individuals, such as stupid, retarded, handicap, dumb, ugly, weird, slow, mongoloid, and dependent. They also stated that they all look alike, they have smaller brains, and they have shorter life spans. More than half of the subjects said that a person with Down syndrome is equal to them instead of slower. Individuals with Down syndrome have mental retardation. This means that they learn slower than the average person. Intelligence is measured by using standardized tests that result in a score often computed into a measurement called an intelligence quotient or IQ. Among the general population, there is a wide range of measured intelligence. 95 percent of the population have a normal intelligence with IQs ranging from 70-130. Two and a half percent of the population have superior intelligence with IQs ranging over 130. And two and a half percent have an IQ of less than 70 or below the normal intelligence. There are three different degrees of mental retardation. A person with severe mental retardation has an IQ range of 25-40. Moderate mental retardation means his IQ si between 40-55 and mild mental retardation has an IQ that falls in the 55-70 range. Most people with Down syndrome score in the moderate to mild range of intelligence (Buckley,2004).
I asked the subjects how they feel about working with a person with Down syndrome. My results were fairly equal in both positive and negative aspects. Eleven subjects stated they would be fine, while nine explained that it would be alright as long as the person with Down syndrome is capable of performing the job requirements. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, such as Down syndrome, and operates that same as other federal laws that forbid racial, religious, age, and sex discrimination. The ADA declares that no employer can discriminate against a qualified individual solely because of a disability. This does not mean that employers are required to hire people with disabilities
(Buckley, 2004).
I found that fourteen people, mostly females, explained that a special education program would benefit a child with Down syndrome because they are able to learn at their own speed whereas in a regular classroom a child must learn rather quickly. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, children with Down syndrome were excluded from public schools and sent away to institutions. In the 1960's, federal, state and local governments provided educational opportunities to children with Down syndrome. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975, improved educational opportunities the most for children with Down syndrome. This act allows a "free" appropriate public education which includes all states. "Free" means that all parts of the child's special education programs will be provided at the public's expense, regardless of the guardian or parents ability to pay. The IDEA requires that children with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment to the maximum extent appropriate. The IDEA also requires all states to begin special education services at age three. A diagnosis of Down syndrome is enough to establish eligibility for IDEA. To qualify for this program, there must be a medical diagnosis or a 30 percent or more delay in one of the developmental stages. Mainstream and Inclusion are terms used for the practice of involving children with Down syndrome in regular school and preschool environments as if they did not have a disability. Early intervention provides therapies and other specialized services to lower the effects of Down syndrome that can delay early childhood development. Some examples of professionals that help families of Down Syndrome children are physical therapists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and mental health professionals (Stray-Gundersen, 1995).
I found that almost all of the subjects said that a newborn with Down syndrome should be able to receive health and life insurance because of health related medical concerns. A few people stated that because of the shorter life expectancy, life insurance should not be denied because the family of a person with Down syndrome would need that money for expenses after that person dies. On the other hand there were two subjects that agree with the reasoning behind health and life insurance denial for persons with Down syndrome. They stated that it would not be profitable to society because money runs the world. Insurance is a major concern of families who have a member with Down syndrome. Finding and maintaining health insurance is difficult due to medical concerns at birth and during adulthood. In the past, medical problems associated with Down syndromes resulted in short life spans and premature deaths. Some medical concerns that might occur in conjunction with Down syndrome are heart defects, digestive problems, vision, hearing, orthopedic, and dental concerns, seizures, and leukemia. Approximately forty to forty-five percent of babies with Down syndrome have heart defects. Ten to twelve percent have some type of congenital malformation of the digestive system. Seventy percent of children have some form of vision problem that requires correction. Forty to sixty percent of children with Down syndrome acquire a hearing loss. Ten percent of children and adults have a orthopedic condition called atlantoaxial instability, which causes the upper vertebrae to bend the spinal cord causing serious injury. Leukemia occurs fifteen to twenty times more in a Down syndrome person than in the average person. Medicare, a federal health insurance program, and Medicaid, a state funded program may be available to help with medical costs for those who qualify. In the early 1930's, the estimated life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome was nine years mainly because of heart defects that could not be cured. By 1990, medical care had improved which increased the average life expectancy to thirty years. Today, persons with Down syndrome are expected to live a healthy, fulfilling life beyond fifty years of age (Charbonneau, 2002).
Could a person with Down syndrome become president of the United States of America? Two-thirds answered no. The following were some of their explanations: a person with Down syndrome would not understand what goes on in the world; society is much too critical; this person would not have enough support to run for office; no one would vote for him/her; te average person could not become president; they are incapable of performing the job requirements; and it would be too stressful and too much for them to handle.
Should a person with Down syndrome be able to receive social security income? Ten people said yes because they need it for medical needs and to put toward their future living expenses. Six people stated yes, only if the person has contributed to the collection of social security. Two people said yes if they are disabled and not able to work, otherwise they should receive it like everyone else. The current social security system works like this: when you work, you pay taxes into social security. The tax money is used to pay benefits to people who already have retired, people who are disabled, dependents of beneficiaries, and survivors of workers who have died. The money paid in taxes is not held in a personal account. Any unused money goes into the social security trust funds. A wide variety of federal, state, and local programs offer financial assistance. These programs are provided by the Social Security Administration. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays monthly checks, based on assets and income to children and adults with serious disabilities. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays a monthly check to adults disabled from work and whose disability began before age eighteen (Stray-Gundersen, 1995).
Should a male and female, both with Down syndrome, have children together? Thirteen responses were yes, but these answers included restrictions, such as the following: if they are capable; if they are in love; depends on the severity of the Down syndrome; if they live on their own; if they understand the consequences; and chances are they will have a normal child. Six individuals said they were neutral about the situation and one person reported that from her experience, males cannot produce offspring. The fact is that males with Down syndrome cannot have children of their own due to lack of or low sperm count. Most women with Down syndrome are fertile, but their eggs are likely to carry the Trisomy 21 chromosome (Stray-
Gundersen, 2004).