"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Culture Break: Kazaky: "The Sun"

Something of a departure from what we're used to from Kazaky. I'm not sure what I think about it, except that it's sort of nice that it departs from my Kazaky comfort zone.

Gotta love those mid-air splits, though.

(I just realized -- if you click the play button in the middle of the image, you get a whole series of Kazaky videos. Enjoy.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Another Snake Oil Salesman

all dressed up for a party. Yep, none other than Archbishop Salavatore "DUI" Cordileone, via Good As You.

Instead of protecting persons, [the Employment Non Discrimination Act] uses the force of the law to coerce everyone to accept a deeply problematic understanding of human sexuality and sexual behavior and to condone such behavior. The current proposed ENDA legislation is not about protecting persons, but behavior. Churches, businesses and individuals should not be punished in any way for living by their religious and moral convictions concerning sexual activity.

Eliminating truly unjust discrimination – based on personal characteristics, not sexual behavior – and protecting religious freedom are goals that we all should share. The current political climate makes it very difficult to maintain a reasonable dialogue on these contentious issues, but we must keep trying.

This is just the quote that Jeremy Hooper published. The full letter is here. It's all of the same cloth, and a prime example of the ability of some people to turn reality on its head. Go ahead and read it, if you can stand it. I could go through and rebut every statement in it, but I'm sure you can do the same, so I won't bother.

This is the comment I left at Good As You:

I hardly know where to start -- Cordileone is as good as Tony Perkins at distorting and misrepresenting facts. (But at least we don't have to deal with middle-school word-play.)

1) "Deeply problematic understanding of human sexuality" -- in what way? Anyone who knows what they're talking about understands that homosexuality is part of the range of normal human behavior. It seems the Church's "understanding" of human sexuality, as in most areas of human behavior, is problematic.

2) "to condone such behavior" -- no one's insisting you condone anything, only that you keep your nose out of people's private lives.

3) "Churches, businesses and individuals should not be punished in any way for living by their religious and moral convictions concerning sexual activity." --No one's suggesting that. The law just says you can't force your religious convictions on anyone else. See # 2, minding your own business.

4) "Eliminating truly unjust discrimination – based on personal characteristics" -- you mean, like the decision to join the Catholic Church, or follow any religious tradition? Which I don't think anyone can characterize as a "personal characteristic" -- that's really a behavior. Or maybe you mean something more fundamental, such as being female? The Church has a real good record there. The consensus among those who actually know something about human psychology is that same-sex orientation is, in fact, an innate characteristic.

5) "and protecting religious freedom" -- trans.: I have the right to force my religious dogma on everyone else. Just ask me.

6) "The current political climate makes it very difficult to maintain a reasonable dialogue on these contentious issues," -- "dialogue" means you listen as well as speak, something for which the Catholic hierarchy is not noted. In fact, there's been a quite spirited dialogue, in the media, the courts, and the Internet. Sorry you missed it.

And all this, coming from a highly placed member of an institution that has repeatedly proven itself not only hypocritical, but morally bankrupt.

Oh, and I forgot one thing: it's also an institution that has, at best, a tenuous relationship with reality.

Addendum: I had to include this, the final paragraph of the Archbishop's statement. It's a prime example of the cynicism that seems to be a common characteristic of the so-called "religious" right. Keep in mind that this is coming from someone who believes that the authority of the Church cannot be challenged in any way and that he, as a member of the ruling hierarchy in that Church, has the right to determine the parameters of everyone's private behavior.

Lobbying for coercive laws that violate freedom will not promote justice in the workplace. Nor will it advance the common good to seek to silence debate about sexual morality. We, like all Americans, wish there was an easy way forward. There is not. But there is an honest one. And it starts with the unflinching commitment to the inherent dignity of every human person, and to the “healthy pluralism” we all wish to share.

Friday, July 18, 2014

On the Bright Side

Interesting post at Rethinking Religion on a) the appropriate role of religion in public life in America, and b) winning hearts and minds. Note this, after she recounts some atheist billboards put up for the Christmas season, which were abrasive, to say the least:

Seriously, atheist dudes, the Christian Right is not Jesus’ fault. The CR may have adopted Jesus as its team mascot, but it’s ignored his teachings for years. And seeing Jesus ridiculed is as jarring to Christians — including the tolerant, progressive ones — as watching their mothers being publicly humiliated.

This is not rocket science, by any means. In fact, the American Atheists could have learned a lesson from the very Christian right that they're attacking: think about the rhetoric coming from Tony Perkins, Tim Wildmon, Brian Brown, Bryan Fischer, the whole rotten crew, and how public opinion on gay rights and same-sex marriage has shifted in our favor. Do you see the connection?

Anyway, read the post. It's a good one.

Hell in a Handbasket

That seems to be where the world is headed: Russian separatists shooting down Malaysian passenger planes in East Ukraine, Israel invading Gaza (again), and the U.S. being invaded by children.

Why do I read the news?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Marriage News Watch, July 14, 2014

And Matt is back in California, although there's action everywhere.

Also, note this update from Joe.My.God.

More On the Refugee Children

Very good post at Mahablog, with some good insights:

What the children are fleeing is anarchy. they are fleeing failed states in which there is no functional criminal justice system and criminal activity, including murder, is carried out with impunity. People arm themselves and join gangs just to survive. In short, it’s the sort of place the “open carriers” and Bundy Ranch militia crowd are trying to turn the U.S. into.

I have nothing to add, except to note that conditions in Central America are the reality of what the Bundy Ranch morons and their confreres want to turn the U.S. into. Unfortunately, it's nothing like the fantasy in their minds.

(And do read the article linked in the quote -- quite an eye-opener.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Just An Observation

Call it progress, of a sort. This story about Ian Thorpe's coming out showed up at Raw Story. There's nothing in the story itself that's remarkable -- we've been reading about Thorpe in the gay blogosphere for days now -- so much as the fact that this story, and more like it, are showing up on "mainstream" sources.

I've noticed that happening more and more. I've even noticed that Digby has covered a couple of gay stories, mostly about marriage. (Not ascribing it to any bias on her part -- that's not her focus.)

That, as much as any poll numbers or any court victories (or the desperate shrieks of Tony Perkins, et al.) says to me "We're winning."

CONSPIRACY!!!11! (Update)

Via Digby, the latest in the ongoing outcry against -- well, something:

A federal employment ad posted in January showing that 65,000 unaccompanied minors will enter the U.S. illegally shows that the administration expected this cross-border child abuse and encouraged it.

Concrete evidence has shown up proving our earlier assertion: The breach of our border by waves of unaccompanied alien children was orchestrated by the administration based on a strategy straight out of the playbook President Obama studied as a community organizer. His goal is to get his way on immigration reform by overwhelming the U.S. Border Patrol and collapsing an already weakened system.

Needless to say, this isn't so much an editorial as a fantasy -- as Digby points out, the "anticipation" of the surge happened in the middle of it. It would be more accurate to call it an effort to deal with a crisis in progress, but that wouldn't fit the fantasy universe these people live in.

The degree of ignorance and paranoia in the comments on that article is -- well, I guess it's more or less standard for the teabaggers and their friends. (There are a couple of comments on the terrorist training camps in California -- seriously. Complete with a link to an article in "Liberty News" (whatever that is) and the Washington Times (yeah -- real reliable source, that). Not to mention the compassion, as evidenced by one commenter who "doesn't give a damn about these children."

The background on this is simply that the violence and disruption from the drug wars in Central America has gotten so bad that people are trying desperately to get their children, at least, out of the country, and the safest place for them is here. (Update: Here's more background.)

But Gov. Rick "You Can Tell I'm Serious Because I'm Wearing Glasses" Perry has a solution:

On "Fox News Sunday," guest host Brit Hume on Sunday grilled Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on his plan for addressing the influx of undocumented children at the border — sending in the National Guard.

Perry argues that the presence of the National Guard will deter immigrants from continuing to attempt to cross the border.

"They need to be right on the river. They need to be there as a show of force because that’s the message that gets sent back very quickly to Central America," he said.

Hume challenged Perry, asking what purpose troops could actually serve.

"They’re not, under the law, allowed to apprehend any of these children that are crossing, are they?" he asked.

"The issue is with being able to send that message because it’s the visual of it, I think, that is the most important," Perry responded. "If you don’t stop the bleeding. If you don’t staunch this flow of individuals that are coming up here, this is only going to get worse."

That's it -- just have the Texas National Guard standing there. They can't shoot, they can't apprehend anyone, they can't actually do jack all but the "visual" will produce the desired effect. Or something.

That's the Republicans for you -- it's all about the visuals.

(I couldn't help myself -- I left a comment at the IBD article. Now I'm wondering if any of the commenters are going to get the sarcasm.)

Addendum: I just ran across this story at TPM. I think it says something about Republicans and how low they've fallen:
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, said that while it was sad to see young undocumented immigrants at the southwest border, some of the teens looked like a "threat."

A 17-year-old refugee looks like the threat. But then, to a Republican, everything looks like a threat.

More on this idiot, from Raw Story:
When Hume asked whether Republicans would allocate money to deal with the children who have already crossed the border, McCaul spoke generally about “dealing with it in a humane and compassionate way, but I’m not in favor of building large warehouses in the United States to warehouse these kids.”

“It’s about deterrence, about security, and about dealing with these children in a humane and compassionate way — to send them home,” he concluded.

"Send them home." That's humane and compassionate, isn't it? Especially since he admitted earlier in the interview that conditions at home are desperate.

Or we could just bomb Central America.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Zombie Lies

Blogger doesn't want to let me embed this clip from Crooks and Liars, so go watch it here. It's one of Maher's best.