"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

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I'm taking a few days off. I just realized I'm doing more link dumps than commentary, which means I'm a little burnt. Have to spend a couple of days wrapping up some reviews, and then I'm just going to float a bit.

See you at the end of the week.

Pat Tillman

What Spencer Ackerman said.

Scott Thomas Beauchamp Update

What Jon Swift said.


What Digby said.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

About That Survey

Strange comment by Steve Benen at Crooks and Liars:

I’ve seen several long-term forecasts that suggest Dems are in trouble over the next couple of decades. People are moving away from “blue” strongholds (particularly in the Northeast), and relocating to “red” states that will grow in electoral significance.

This strikes me as somewhat bizarre, and I don't know what anyone is thinking: either people are moving away from "blue" strongholds because they can't stand the politics, which would be weird, but I guess stranger things have happened, or people who move from, say, Massachusetts to Texas are going to suddenly become BushCo conservatives.

Seems to me that people would take their politics with them.


The perennial problem: much office time this past few weeks, looming deadlines.

There are lots of stories worth commenting on -- Pat Tillman, Scott Thomas Beauchamp's Iraq memoir in TRN (and the attendant rightblogistan meltdown), many more.

I don't have time. Maybe I'll be able to deal with some of these stories after Tuesday.

Shit happens, y'know.


Found a few minutes:

On Beauchamp, see Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money, Matthew Yglesias at Atlantic, Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly, and Andrew Sullivan.

You can even go to the source, if you subscribe to The New Republic: "War Bonds" and "Dead of Night". "Shock Troops" is the one that seems to be getting the most attention. Here is the blog post with Beauchamp's statement.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Anti-Potter Update

From Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon, a thoughtful post (and much nicer than mine).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter: Axis of Evil

Dave Neiwert on the anti-Potters:

In any event, my enjoyment of the [Harry Potter] books is enhanced by the knowledge that it also drives the fundamentalist right nuts. Ever since the books gained great popularity, they've been on the warpath against Harry Potter, as you can see from the excerpt from Jesus Camp above, in which we see the head of the camp telling children that Potter should be put to death. (Talk about Republicans for Voldemort!)

It's worth remembering just how deep that animus runs, as CLS at Classically Liberal explains in painstaking detail:

[I]t seems that when someone is campaigning against the book or the films, the leader of the campaign is invariably a fundamentalist Christian. For instance, fundamentalist Laura Mallory, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, tried to ban the Potter books from the public school library. She says the books have “evil themes” because they speak of witchcraft and spells. And the Bible clearly teaches such things are immoral. One child who opposed her efforts saw things more clearly. He said, “never at any time did I think the books are true.” But fundamentalists do think that there is truth in these books. Unlike most rational people, they do believe that witches and spells exist. They have no choice since the Bible condemns such things. To say they don’t exist questions the infallibility of Scripture. Most people are not offended by the theme of the Potter series because they don’t believe the “dark forces” actually exist.

Read the full post -- it's hysterical.

The degree of ignorance in the fundamentalist position is staggering, or it would be if I sxpected them to know anything about others' religions. I guess it's OK just to repeat that they're all false, so you don 't really have to know anything about what they teach. I find particularly annoying the conflation of Witchcraft and Satanism -- sorry, honey, but as far as I'm concerned, Satan is a Christian deity, not one of ours. Of course, they don't recognize Witchcraft as a religion, but then, they don't recognize the Pope as Christian.

And, of course, since the Bible says it's bad and the separation of church and state is a myth, there's no problem with demanding that public schools censor them.

I realize it's grossly politically incorrect, but as far as I can determine, anyone who thinks any sacred text is factual is missing a few screws. Fundamentalists of any stripe obviously have limited imaginations and have no idea of metaphor at all. One wonders how they function in this world.

The Nazis burned books, you know.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Thanks to Earthlink, I lost this morning's posts. I may try to reconstruct them.

And then again, I may not.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It's Harry Reid's Fault

Some analysis by Steve Benen at TPM on the new mantra on Congress: it's not that Bush is playing dictator, or that the Republicans have filibustered every bit of meaningful legislation in the Senate. It's that the Democrats, under the leadership of Harry Reid, are not compromising enough.

His prime target is this editorial from WaPo, which displays a breathtaking measure of Through-the-Looking-Glass logic. (I wonder how many of the Post's editorial board they found during Bush's colonoscopy?) The editorial is largely incoherent:

There's no guarantee that Mr. Bush can agree with Congress on those points or that he will make the effort to do so. But a Democratic strategy of trying to use Iraq as a polarizing campaign issue and as a club against moderate Republicans who are up for reelection will certainly have the effect of making consensus impossible -- and deepening the trouble for Iraq and for American security.

First, eveyone but the beltway pundits realizes that Bush is not going to agree with Congress on anything other than letting him do what he wants. If Congress caves, I'm moving to someplace where they still have a democratic government.

Second, if anyone at WaPo can remember farther back than last week, the Republicans have been accusing the Democrats in Congress of obstructionism for years. It's no more true now than it was then.

But, in this shiny new day, all the bullshit that's been going on for seven years -- if not longer -- is now Harry Reid's fault. As hilzoy points out:

If David Brooks is right, then "senior Republican senators" are planning to cast their votes on the question what to do in Iraq -- whether to try to salvage some kind of decent outcome at the cost of people's lives, or to leave now -- not on the basis of what is actually best for Iraq, or for our country, or for our troops, or for our long-term national interests, but because of "Two words: Harry Reid." According to Brooks, "they feel that Harry Reid is making it impossible" for them to break with the President.

News flash for the Senate Republicans: it is impossible for a human being to fly simply by flapping her hands, or to be in two places at once, or to be a prime number when she grows up. It is not impossible for Senators to vote against the President. It isn't even all that difficult. Senators are an extraordinarily privileged bunch. Even if they lose the next election, they can look forward to lucrative careers as lobbyists, speakers, members of boards, and so forth. At worst, they will just exchange one cushy job for another. They are not in anything like the position of a witness to a gang shooting who risks her life to come forward as a witness, or a police officer who turns in his corrupt superiors.

They are certainly not in anything like the position of the men and women their cowardice places in harm's way, or the Iraqi father whose home is flattened and his children killed when a missile goes astray, or the soldier with undiagnosed PTSD who is ordered out for his fourth deployment because our representatives were just too mad at Harry Reid to do what they thought was right.

She also has some thoughts on Republican obstructionism in general. From McClatchy:

By sinking a cloture vote this week, Republicans successfully blocked a Democratic bid to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April, even though a 52-49 Senate majority voted to end debate.

This year Republicans also have blocked votes on immigration legislation, a no-confidence resolution for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and major legislation dealing with energy, labor rights and prescription drugs.

Nearly 1 in 6 roll-call votes in the Senate this year have been cloture votes. If this pace of blocking legislation continues, this 110th Congress will be on track to roughly triple the previous record number of cloture votes — 58 each in the two Congresses from 1999-2002, according to the Senate Historical Office.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., forced an all-night session on the Iraq war this week to draw attention to what Democrats called Republican obstruction.

"The minority party has decided we have to get to 60 votes on almost everything we vote on of substance," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. "That's not the way this place is supposed to work."

And yet the press seems almost uniform in ascribing the inaction of the Senate to the Democrats. Oh, of course -- it's that liberal bias again.

On Haircuts, Integrity, and the Press

Must read from Jameson Foser at Media Matters.

This kind of media coverage, as Bob Somerby says, is what gave us President Bush. It is why we are in Iraq today. It isn't going to go away on its own, and it isn't going to go away if John Edwards is no longer a candidate. There is an endless supply of nonsense for reporters to say about progressives, whether it is Hillary Clinton's alleged display of cleavage (the horror!) or bogus attacks on Barack Obama's comments about teaching kindergarteners about "inappropriate touching."

This isn't going to stop unless you make it stop.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Haircut That Wouldn't Die!

(creepy background music)

Marc Ambinder trying to have it both ways: John Edwards' haircut was a legitimate news story; Mitt Romney's make-up is not.

The primary difference is definitional: The centerpiece of Edwards's campaign is his anti-poverty efforts; he presents himself as a dedicated messenger for the cause, and he likes expensive haircuts, bought a gimungous house, etc. etc. His credibility as a messenger comes into question when he spends money ostentatiously. (The haircut was inadvertently billed to the campaign, a spokesman later said).

There is a difference in the political reality: fairly or unfairly, a healthy chunk of the national political press corps doesn't like John Edwards.

Fairly or unfairly, there's also a difference in narrative timing: when the first quarter ended, the press was trying to bury Edwards. It's not so much interested in burying Romney right now -- many reporters think he's the Republican frontrunner.

Does anyone besides me (and a host of others, to be perfectly candid) see a whole lot wrong with this?

The Edwards haircut, which came from a Republican oppo source, is a legitimate news story because a large chunk of the political press corps doesn't like Edwards. Mitt's make-up bills are not news because he's the Republican frontrunner. Is this American journalism at its finest, or what? Reporters no longer report the news, they create it based on their personal/ideological likes and dislikes.

(I'm very happy to report that Ambinder gets thoroughly trashed in the comments to this post. Way to go.)

Scott Lemieux at TAPPED also gets it:

Fairly or unfairly? Granting that Ambinder isn't quite endorsing it, I'm amazed that anyone can see the question of whether or not reporters should use their reporting not to inform readers but to irresponsibly indulge their petty superficial prejudices about the individual candidates as a fairly debatable proposition. This open press corps contempt for Gore defined campaign 2000, and personally I think there are a lot of dead soldiers and Iraqis who think that what a president will actually do in office is more important that his or her suits and haircuts.

I wrote on this way back in April, with a particular focus on the role of Adam Nagourney and NYT in propagating this story. There's also been a thread running at EA Forums that has been quite instructive: it began with a repeat of the mantra, and then people got indignant when some history of this story was pointed out and started accusing the pointing-outers of partisanship (no big surprise there). It's been an interesting discussion overall, ranging from the appropriateness of the price of Edwards' haircuts to the role of the press in distorting the campaign (although why anyone should think that unsupported blanket generalities are OK as long as you accuse everyone of malfeasance is beyond me).

And no post is complete without reference to Digby's comments:

This is exactly this kind of thing that makes people like me laugh when I get lectured by professional journalists about "objectivity" and "ethics." At least I put my political biases up front. These phonies hide behind a veil of journalistic conventions so they can exercise their psychologically stunted desire to stick it to the BMOC, or the dork or whoever these catty little gossips want to skewer for their own pleasure that day. Please, please, no more hand-wringing sanctimony from reporters about the undisciplined, unethical blogosphere. Their glass houses are lying in shards all around their feet.

Each time they've pulled this puerile nonsense in the last few years, it's resulted in a mess that's going to take even more years to unravel. And they learned nothing, apparently, since they are doing exactly the same thing in this election. If the press really wants to know why they are held in lower esteem than hitmen and health insurance claims adjusters, this is it.

I just take this whole thing as yet another smoking gun on the complete breakdown of responsible journalism in America, even in those outlets that Rupert Murdoch doesn't own.

For for the love of Pete, to use "the political press doesn't like Edwards" as justification for this kind of farce? Gimme a break!

Breaking News:

Hillary Has Tits!

There is one sentence in this story about her speech. Not what she said, mind you, just that she was speaking on the Senate floor.

Can the country recover?


A certain dumpy law professor in Wisconsin is right on it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Half-Finished Thought

I'm not really tracking well enough today to go into this in any depth, but I found the whole question interesting.

Andrew Sullivan takes off from these comments by Ramesh Ponnuru:

Most of the time, however, when people say that our rights come from God what they are most concerned about affirming is that those rights are not created by human beings. That, it seems to me, is true, or else there are no human rights at all.

Now, this sounds fairly brainless, and I think Sullivan is doing Ponnuru a disservice by selecting this quote. Ponnuru says a bit earlier:

My own view of the matter is that human beings have rights by virtue of the kind of beings that they are, and they would possess these rights even if, so to speak, God did not exist. But I also believe that human beings are the kind of beings we are as a result of the free and creative act of a loving God who chooses to create man in His image and likeness. (I'm leaving aside, as irrelevant, the means He used.) So in that indirect though important sense, our rights are God-given.

which puts the whole argument in a different light.

Sullivan's objection is well within the bounds of traditional liberal thought:

But why could what we understand as human rights not be, in fact, the contingent achievement of a contingent civilization, i.e. the West? And why can these rights not be defended as contingent human achievements that have advanced human dignity and well-being?

That's pretty much the position I suspect an atheist would take. The interesting anomalies start to happen when you look at Ponnuru's statements in the dual contexts of the Founders' philosophy -- they were, remember, overwhelmingly Deists -- and traditional Christian thinking, which comes to us via the Roman Catholic Church and our own contemporary Christianists as a form of the idea that human beings really have no "rights" as such. Anything they get is a courtesy in recognition of their dignity as human beings.

I honestly can't think of a sharper opposition on this question than that between the Founders and, say Pope Benedict. It's also interesting to note that the most important declarations on fundamental human rights came not from churches but from groups that were, in some cases literally, atheistic as much as anything else.

One of Sullivan's readers responds to these arguments:

You speak of human rights as possibly being viewed as "contingent human achievements." But in the world view of fundamentalists there is no such thing as contingent human achievement, no evolution of development - simply a created order that got messed up in the garden, and has not improved much since, and awaits the return of Christ. The only advancements are technological, not moral - for we ever are as we ever were, save for God's dipping his hand in from time to time to help bring things into better focus, and of course sending in his Son.

Sullivan tries to straddle the fence:

I do not believe that human nature is subject to much change, but I do believe that our intelligence and civilization and institutions can harness, restrain and prevent that human nature from doing its worst.

That last comment is revealing, I think, of the great intellectual lack of Christian thinking (or the thinking in any of the Abrahamic creeds, since they derive from the same source): Humanity is intrinsically bad and can live in societies only through the imposition of strict rules of behavior. I find this not only personally repellent, but ludicrously out of touch with our evolutionary heritage: we're social animals. That has been a major thrust of our adaptations over the past few million years, and to think that we somehow are unfit to be social without the imposition of outside authority is ridiculous.

I may come back and tidy this up, but I am slightly under the weather right now -- just enough to make concentration a chore.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Civility of the Right

From Tom Tomorrow.

If One Kid Gets Adequate Health Care

soon everyone will want it.

Bush supports children the same way he supports the troops. Children's health care should be a no-brainer, right? Not for this president.

Here's a key concept:

The immediate goal is to make sure there are more people on private insurance plans. I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room. The question is, will we be wise about how we pay for health care. I believe the best way to do so is to enable more people to have private insurance. And the reason I emphasize private insurance, the best health care plan -- the best health care policy is one that emphasizes private health. In other words, the opposite of that would be government control of health care.

Point one: make sure as many people as possible are forking over money to the sharks who collect premiums and routinely disallow claims.

The second sentence is, at best, prevarication. People have diminishing access to coverage as employers are forced to cut benefits because of rising costs. This doesn't include the 48 million who have no insurance at all, a number that's been growing since Bush took office. Those people don't exist. Just ask him.

The rest of it is word salad. The man's nuts.

And he goes on:

My position is, we ought to help the poor -- and we do, through Medicaid. My position is, we ought to have a modern medical system for the seniors -- and we do, through Medicare. But I strongly object to the government providing incentives for people to leave private medicine, private health care to the public sector. And I think it's wrong and I think it's a mistake. And therefore, I will resist Congress's attempt -- (applause) -- I'll resist Congress's attempt to federalize medicine.

I mean, think of it this way: They're going to increase the number of folks eligible through S-CHIP; some want to lower the age for Medicare. And then all of a sudden, you begin to see a -- I wouldn't call it a plot, just a strategy -- (laughter) -- to get more people to be a part of a federalization of health care. In my judgment, that would be -- it would lead to not better medicine, but worse medicine. It would lead to not more innovation, but less innovation.

Translation: if everybody opts for a plan run by the government that is economical and efficient and provides quality health care for enrollees, how are the insurance companies going have the money to fork over for Republican political campaigns?

Thanks to Crooks and Liars.

Reality Invades the Senate

Finally, Harry Reid sticks it to the Senate Republican obstructionists:

I would like to inform the Republican leadership and all my colleagues that we have no intention of backing down. If Republicans do not allow a vote on Levin-Reed today or tomorrow, we will work straight through the night on Tuesday. The American people deserve an open and honest debate on this war, and they deserve an up-or-down vote on this amendment to end it.

Given the Republican leadership’s decision to block the amendment, we have no choice but to do everything we can in the coming days to highlight Republican obstruction. We do this in hopes of ultimately getting a simple up-or-down vote on this and other important amendments that could change the direction of the war.

All Senators will be welcome to speak their mind. Those of us who are ready to end the war will make our case to the American people. Those who support the status quo are welcome to equal floor time to make their case. Let the American people hear the arguments. Let them see their elected representatives engaging in a full, open and honest debate. Let them hear why Republicans are obstructing us on this amendment.

They're allowed, under Senate rules, to filibuster, but we, the people, should be informed that's what they're doing. They've been hiding behind their rules, and it's taken Reid too long to call them on it.

Some comments by Greg Sargent on the move, with a link to Bob Geiger explaining the procedural ins and outs.

Digby has a list of what the Democrats have allowed the Republicans to block without being accountable for it.

I doubt that the public has any idea that the GOP have blocked these bills. And they never will if the Democrats don't force the Republicans to stand up and publicly defend their actions and put their mouths where their money is. I want to see Huckleberry Graham give his famous dramatic reading of Miss Mellie's death scene in "Gone With The Wind" to obstruct passage of the Webb amendment, don't you?

The one thing they don't want is to have to stand up publicly and give reasons for opposing legislation that the majority of the people want and need. Given that they were all over the Democrats in the last Congress for even hinting that they might filibuster (remember the "atomic option"?), I think it's only fair that they should be on notice that they're now on record.

Why did it take so long?


Mitch McConnell has made a counteroffer: an automatic 60-vote minimum on any Iraq-related legislation. What a crock. Reid needs to slap him down right now.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Peter LaBarbera

Known fondly in the gay community as "Porno Pete" for the vast cache of gay male erotic that he maintains for "research purposes," as well as his "undercover work" in the back rooms of leather bars. LaBarbera is one of the lowest forms of life on earth, bar none. Read this post from Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin on the latest pack of lies he's spouting.

Another post with additional details from BlackTsunami at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters.

To call LaBarbera's rantings "bad taste" is being much too kind. Remember that this is the man who couldn't get a referendum against same-sex marriage on the Illinois ballot and went to court to get an activist judge to overrule Illinois' election laws. He's also founded a new hate group after getting ousted from the Illinois Family Association for being completely ineffective. He's not an extreme example of the anti-gay movement -- just one of the noisiest. His truthfulness and integrity are pretty much consistent with the rest of the group -- Dobson, Wildmon, the men at Concerned Women of America, Paul Cameron, Fred Phelps, the whole ugly assemblage.

Total loser

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Another Edition

of "What Digby Said"

It makes no sense at all for the Democrats to empower this administration in any way, shape or form to do anything with respect to Iran. Nada. It certainly doesn't make political sense -- nobody in the country wants war with Iran and nobody will suffer at the polls for failing to sign off on the president and Lieberman's crazy schemes. The idea that Democrats need to be scared of seeming soft on Iran is ludicrous. And even if it did, all they had to do was scuttle the amendment anyway ---they didn't have to call for a vote. I just can't find any political benefit to this at all, and tons of serious, substantive risk.

(It's possible that their little friend Lieberman is blackmailing them, but if that's the case they should just turn the Senate over to the Republicans, return their pay to the taxpayers and go home. Let the war with Iran commence without their compliance.)

First, they should just cut Lieberman loose. He's no more a Democrat than Karl Rove is, and he's as seriously deluded as Bush is. It's not like it will make any difference in the Senate -- they're not doing anything anyway. I don't know if they've figured it out yet, but the slow stately dances of Senate ritual just don't cut it any more out here in the rest of the country.

We're faced with a situation in which the Republicans will govern based on their own momentary political needs and the Democrats can't govern at all.

What a choice.

Jane Hamsher weighs in as well:

I truly do believe the only thing keeping us out of war with Iran is the fact that the military just won’t stand for it. It’s frightening when the guys whose business is war are the only things keeping the country out of another one.

Ian Welsh has some recommendations.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Libertarian Ideal of Gay Rights

Andrew Sullivan does a riff on this piece by Matthew Yglesias at Cato Unbound. The particular area of "enlargement" is this paragraph:

Similarly, the gay rights movement does indeed want gay couples to be unmolested in their private conduct. But their demands go far beyond that. They want to regulate who you may employ, who you may rent a house to, etc., etc., etc. — not merely a state that refrains from discriminating, but a state that takes the lead in fighting discrimination.

Sullivan says this:

That's a fair assessment even now of the main agenda of gay rights groups. It's not, however, my own agenda. Nor is it that of many gay libertarian/conservatives. . . . Virtually Normal tried to grapple with this. I argued specifically against the liberal recipes for gay equality: against hate crime laws and even against employment discrimination laws. I argued that a conservative position on gay rights would leave private discrimination and prejudice alone and change only the government's stance so that all citizens are treated equally by the state, even if they are subject to discrimination by private entities.

First, I'm not at all convinced that Yglesias' take is fair. At the best, it's got a lot of spin. I don't know of any group that wants the government to regulate who may be employed or otherwise partake of a public accommodation. What the "liberal" position is and always has been is that those who offer services or other accommodations to the public at large must offer them equitably. Particularly in the areas of housing and employment, public policy since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been that prejudice must be irrelevant in evaluting candidates. To call it "regulating who may be hired" is misrepresentation, nothing more, nothing less. Sullivan thinks that's fair.

I think it's instructive that Sullivan divorces the gay equality issue from other groups who have faced discrimination and doesn't address, for example, the application of hate crimes laws to crimes motivated by racial prejudice or religious bigotry. I can't imagine why, except that there's a blind spot here. (Nor, as it happens, does Sullivan acknowledge Yglesias' next paragraph, in which he states categorically that he favors exactly what he's described, however inaccurately.)

The problem with Sullivan's stance in favor of private bias is simply that he applies it to areas where it is not appropriate. What he's saying, in effect, is that not only is it OK to badmouth me in your home and demonize me from the pulpit, but it's also acceptable to use your personal bigotry to deny me a livelihood and a place to live. This is not only grossly disingenuous, but more than a little misleading. Maybe lowered expectations are OK if you're summering on the Cape and wintering wherever you damned well please, but some of us live and work in places like Sandusky and Omaha and don't have the means to escape that environment. And, if Brutuses like Sullivan had had their way, we wouldn't even be assured of the means to live. Military service and the right to marry are certainly the fashionable causes right now, but HRC is right on one point: they have to take second place to basics.

The irony is that in this post Sullivan illustrates almost too aptly the kind of self-satisfied apathy on the part of gay men, particularly the circuit queen stereotype, that gay activists have railed again since day one. It also veers dangerously close to the "I've got mine, fuck you" attitude of too many anti-gay black leaders.

Conclusion number 1: libertarianism, at least as espoused by Andrew Sullivan, is a morally impoverished system and best consigned to the dustbin of history.

Conclusion number 2: I think the beagles are doing the blog these days.

Christians Persecuted Again!

John McKay at archy has some commentary on the religious bigots who disrupted prayers at the Senate. He begins with this, which I thought was apt:

When the Virginia bill for establishing religious freedom was finally passed, a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal.

Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion."

"The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination."

-- Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821.

I also think he has the best description of the effect of this hooliganism:

[T]he moment had been soiled. What should have been remembered as an historic first, will now be remembered as an obnoxious display of un-American intolerance.

I wouldn't call it "un-American." I'd call it "anti-American."

This is the sort of thing that the Wildmon Gang supports, just as they support a religious test for public office (witness not only the flap over Rep. Keith Ellison taking his oath of office on the Q'ran, but the reaction to Mitt Romney's candidacy), teaching religious doctrine in place of science in public schools (and they don't give up), and, of course, the president's theocrats' pork barrel, which the theocon courts have ruled can't be challenged by the people who are actually footing the bill.

McKay also has a good take-down of the revisionist history being spouted by the right.

And, in the discussion of this latest example of theocon atrocities at EA Forums, the term "nimrod" came up. I did some checking, and found this, from Josephus:

Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it were through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power…

Not perfect congruence, perhaps, but close enough. After all, if you take God's name in vain enough, it becomes a meaningless noise.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Evolution and Gays

Via PZ Myers, this summary of the evolutionary reasons for homosexuality. It occurs to me there are major flaws in any such theories taken from a strictly biological/evolutionary standpoint. The first is the assumption that those with same-sex orientations don't breed. There's no support for this at all.

Keep in mind that "homosexuality" as a personality type was not even a concept until the late nineteenth century. While there have always been Kinsey 6s, even those with a wholly or largely same-sex orientation are certainly not precluded from leaving offspring. We're gay, not sterile. If you go back through history, even in societies that found a place for same-sex relationships, marriage and children were a given. (Take ancient Greece as the type specimen here -- male/male love was celebrated, but men were expected to get married and raise sons.)

Edward O. Wilson made a strong argument for kin selection through his discussions on the economy of inheritance. It's the same mechanism that has made social insects a viable (not to say extremely successful) life form. I don't see any support for the idea that it should be different with human beings. (There's also the fact that in really traditional human societies, child-rearing is a communal affair. Everybody gets to play.)

There's also the fact that all of these hypotheses are pretty much reductivist, which means that in examing questions as complex and multivalent as human sexuality, they are gonig to come up lacking.

My own bottom line: We're here, baby. Deal with it.

War News

From BBC:

UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer said: "We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area.


I'm for it. I'm really for it.

Religious Freedom

From TPMCafe:

Today was a historic first for religion in America's civic life: For the very first time, a Hindu delivered the morning invocation in the Senate chamber — only to find the ceremony disrupted by three Christian right activists.

From the crackpots' press release:

The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer placing the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the One True God, Jesus Christ. This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers.

This is from an article from AFA:

WallBuilders president David Barton is questioning why the U.S. government is seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god. Barton points out that since Hindus worship multiple gods, the prayer will be completely outside the American paradigm, flying in the face of the American motto "One Nation Under God."

"In Hindu, you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods," the Christian historian explains. "And certainly that was never in the minds of those who did the Constitution, did the Declaration [of Independence] when they talked about Creator -- that's not one that fits here because we don't know which creator we're talking about within the Hindu religion."

I really must learn their secret -- I didn't know you could read someone's mind two hundred years after they died. Barton is obviously an idiot who knows nothing about Hinduism (or anything else besides Bible-belt Christianity, apparently).

And note the linkage in both cases between the Founders and fundamentialist Christianity. Another lie from the right.

Here's more from AmericaBlog.

More on Health Care

Via Lindsay Beyerstein, this article from that pro-terrorist rag, Business Week:

Of the countries surveyed, 81% of patients in New Zealand got a same or next-day appointment for a nonroutine visit, 71% in Britain, 69% in Germany, 66% in Australia, 47% in the U.S., and 36% in Canada. Those lengthy wait times in the U.S. explain why 26% of Americans reported going to an emergency room for a condition that could have been treated by a regular doctor if available, higher than every other country surveyed.

The Commonwealth survey did find that patients in the U.S. had shorter wait times than every country except Germany when it came to getting an appointment with a specialist for nonemergency elective surgery, such as hip replacements, cataract surgery, or knee repair. But Gerard Anderson, a health-policy expert at Johns Hopkins University, says most doctors know how to "game the system" in those countries where there are queues for elective surgery, by putting at-risk patients on the list long before their need is critical. "Their wait might be uncomfortable, but it makes very little clinical difference."

The Commonwealth survey found one area in which the U.S. assumed first place—by a wide margin: 51% of U.S. adults surveyed did not visit a doctor, get a needed test, or fill a prescription within the past two years because of cost. No other country came close to that percentage.

My own experience is maybe not so atypical as I had once thought: I had a kidney problem involving bleeding and was told I could get an appointment to see a urologist in three weeks. I told the receptionist that by that time, I would have bled to death.

And here's Andrew Koppelman with a bit of theory.


No, the other HRC -- the gay rights HRC. I, like many others, have my problems with HRC, GLAAD, and the other national gay rights groups, but my differences are a matter of strategy and priorities. I'm not going to fall into the trap of condemning them for, in Andrew Sullivan's words, "merging" with the Democratic Party. Sullivan's rhetoric on this issue has been slanted and self-serving. One of his readers sent a rejoinder, with which I agree. After all, when even the Log Cabin Republicans can't support the Republican candidate for president, I'd say the party has a problem:

In saying merely that the GOP has shown a contempt for gay voters, you are being far too fair. The more accurate statement is that the GOP has built its base on a political ideology that demonizes gays. And also feminists. And scientists. And anyone who doesn't hold traditional Jewish or Christian views. That IS the culture war. When that old-fashioned God and gay hatred are used to define one side, that puts a lot of us on the other. And what are the rest of us to do, in our political efforts in a two-party system? Treat equally the party that demonizes us and the party that welcomes us?

It doesn't seem to me that Sullivan has been saying we should support the Republicans, but what he does seem to be saying is that we should spurn the Democrats. Leaving us with what?

As for the scheduled HRC "debate" between the three Democratic front runners, I have no patience with it. If we're going to have candidates discuss their positions on gay rights, let's get in the ones who actually support us without reservation, like Mike Gravel, not just the ones who are trying to woo Bush's base. It's not up to HRC to decide who's "viable" at this stage of the game. There's still almost a year and a half to go.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Message from Wonderland

I've finally found the home page for the Humpty Dumpty School of Language Arts. This, from Mark Noonan, who obviously knows nothing about the gay community, is a modest example. He doesn't seem to be aware that there has been quite a bit of criticism of the "debate" in the gay blogosphere, both right and left. This, however, is priceless:

For my fellow Americans who are gay - I just advise you how Bill Clinton treated your cause in 1993 after you went flat out for him in 1992. You will be betrayed again, if you are fool enough to back Democrats in 2008. True, we conservative Christians might not seem the logical home for you, but you do know where we stand, we are ready to compromise and we will never, ever betray you. You might want to think about that as you watch the debate, and make your donation and voting choices.

I mean, can you stand it?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Honor Among Thieves

Another edition of What Digby Said.


A bit under the weather, and just about out of outrage. Need to recharge for a bit, so unless something really grabs me, light posting for a couple of days.

Am having an interesting discussion with GayPatriotWest via e-mail. For some reason, he couldn't post to comments, which I take as Blogger at work. I haven't banned anyone from comments, although you're going to get deleted if you're spamming me. But not if you disagree. That's allowed.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Couple of Comments on Health Care

From Susie at Suburban Guerrilla. It seems that the Heritage Foundation thinks we could do without group plans:

A Heritage foundation health policy shill named Edmund Haislmaier was on C-SPAN today, and he’s insisting that the only problem with private insurance is that the insurer works for your employer, and that it’s really your employer who’s saying no to covering your claim, not your insurer. . . .

Anyway, he says the real solution is to have people buy the insurance directly from the insurance companies - “because then they’re working for you, not your employer.”

And then, of course, the discounted premiums that are the whole basis of group plans could go right out the window. And, as Susie points out:

[T]he insurance companies (as mandated by law) work for the benefit of their shareholders. So as long as we have a for-profit healthcare system, ain’t no way around it.

In case you had any doubts about that part of it, Check this out:

A doctor has made a fortune running a company that buys hospitals and cancels their private insurance contracts so they can collect higher reimbursements, but some health professionals are decrying that business model.

Prime Healthcare's business plan allows hospitals to forgo some much-needed but less lucrative services, such as chemotherapy treatments, mental health care and birthing centers.

The motivations here aren't hard to figure out:

Hospitals generally sign contracts with insurance companies, often agreeing to collect only about 30 percent of their costs of treatment from the insurers in exchange for the steady stream of business.

Prime Healthcare's hospitals, mostly free of such private insurance contracts, can collect patients' entire bills from insurers.

The hospitals make up for fewer insurance company referrals by increasing traffic through emergency rooms and admitting those who need further care for longer stays.

Reddy also discourages doctors from giving patients treatment they can't afford, such as pacemakers and knee replacements.

He said his company's revenue is more than $500 million a year and that he is worth more than $300 million. Prime Healthcare now has more than 1,250 beds under its control.

Yeah, I guess our system is just the best, because after all, universal health care leads to you-know-what:

“National healthcare: Breeding ground for terror?” read the on-screen headline, as the Fox News host Neil Cavuto and the commentator Jerry Bowyer solemnly discussed how universal health care promotes terrorism.

Read this whole post, by the way. She's put together a good summary of a lot of information I've seen out there that sort of cuts the naysayers off at the knees -- Britain, France, Canada and the other wealthy nations with universal coverage (which is all of them but us) actually provide service as good as and sometimes better than ours at least cost to the government and to the citizens.

Footnote: All of the renewed focus on health coverage in the U.S. is, of course, in tandem with the release of Michael Moore's Sicko. I've never seen one of Moore's films, and I really have no plans to see this one -- I've had double helpings of outrage lately, thank you, and will pass. However, it occurs to me that the labeling is wrong. Everyone I've seen refers to Moore's films as "documentaries." From all indications, given the dissections of his biases and omissions of fact, they're not. They're polemics. He may be slightly more factually oriented than James Dobson (but then, almost anyone is), but there's no denying he has an agenda.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Another WTF Moment

You may have heard that Cindy Sheehan has decide to run for Congress. Is she going to oppose a right-wing nutcase? Nope She's going after Nancy Pelosi.

I haven't seen anyone in the left blogosphere calling this what it is: proof that the left nutcases are as much nutcases as the right nutcases. I'm really starting to believe what I thought was just a rightwing canard, that Sheehan has lost her marbles.

"Democrats and Americans feel betrayed by the Democratic leadership," Sheehan told The Associated Press. "We hired them to bring an end to the war. I'm not too far from San Francisco, so it wouldn't be too big of a move for me. I would give her a run for her money."

There is so much wrong with this that I can't even figure out where to start. I'm hardly a gung-ho Democratic supporter. There are a lot of the problems with the party as it stands, first being that they can't seem to get their message together (although there are signs of progress), and on my good days I'd just as soon they all got tossed out of Washington so we could start over. I don't necessarily agree with their congressional strategies, but then, they not only have obstructionist Republicans to deal with, both in Congress and the administration, but obstructionist Democrats. Why doesn't Sheehan go after one of those?

And then there's the diction. We "hired" the Democrats to do a job. How corporate of us. Who does Sheehan think she is, IBM? We elected Democrats wherever we were able to go to Washington and represent us in Congress, where there has been, for the past 230 years or so, a lot of give and take, compromise, and political maneuvering. There's a certain authoritarianism betrayed by Sheehan's statement, not to mention the entire stunt, that no one seems to be questioning. Maybe she's just being childish, and will hold her breath until the country turns blue. Maybe that's the problem with the extremes in both wings.

I'm sort of irritated that everyone who's reporting on this (so far -- I haven't run the full gamut yet) is treating her with kid gloves. The woman has become a real loon.

Maybe she should run for VP -- with, say, Ralph Nader. Put all our nuts in one basket.

Neocon Logic

Andrew Sullivan often quotes others under several rubrics denoting greater or lesser degrees of irony (one of my favorite th ings). This one struck me because of the way it was labeled: "Michael Fumento, lambasting Hollywood's record in the terror war."

Of course, what struck me was the idea that Hollywood should have a record in the terror war. If we want to criticize someone about that, why not start with the guys who are running it?

Fumento's post is really pretty bad. The quote that Sullivan uses is the closest to rational in the whole thing, and actually contradicts the opening paragraph. The main points seem to be:

1. Hollywood isn't treating the war on terror the same as World War II.

2. Hollywood isn't singling out Arabs as the villains.

3. The war on terror is not the same as World War II, but couldn't we pretend that it is?

I can see why Sullivan gave it the Malkin Award.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Having been accused of being a knee-jerk Bush hater (as well as a knee-jerk Hillary apologist, knee-jerk Democratic justifier, and knee-jerk just about everything else), I found this quote from one of Andrew Sullivan's readers apt:

One of the more frustrating aspects of dealing with Bush apologists is highlighted by the reader accusing you of "Bush Derangement Syndrome", which is just one of their more desperate methods of avoiding debate on substance. These people are afraid to acknowledge that it is possible, even most likely, that citizens develop animosity towards political figures because of things they actually say and do, not because of who they 'are' or which tribe they're from.

There is quite a good dissection of the tribal mentality in American politics right now in this missive. Of course, it goes a long way toward explaining the 20-something percent of the voters who still approve of Bush, knowing that he's lied to them, damaged the country, and has absolutely no remorse whatsoever for doing it -- he's theirs. It's an instant replay of the "My country right or wrong" syndrome from the Vietnam era.

I do have some issues that generate instant and very strong reactions -- abuse of children and animals, abuse of the Constitution, lies from anti-gay bigots, and the like, but I think I can honestly say that I don't display a lot of knee-jerk behavior. I'm more likely to be sitting here saying "But what about. . . ?"

In the case of Bush, I was never a supporter, but I wasn't an enemy. And, as his presidency progressed, he managed to fuck up everything that crossed his desk. I didn't agree with most of h is policies, and the few I agreed with turned out to be sound bites. Given that he's lied to us on just about everything, why should I listen to anything coming from the White House?

I guess I'm just not a true believer. That sort of bothers me, in the inverse -- what kind of capacity for denial must you have to still put any faith in this administration? How crazy do you have to be?

And these are the people that Hillary Clinton and all of the GOP candidates are trying to please.

Doctors are Terrorists

If you're a neocon wingnut.

Of course, that's only if you have a system in which everyone is getting adequate medical care. If you're like us, on the other hand, where your care is directly dependent on the size of your wallet, doctors are all staunch -- what? Republicans?

And, given the general tenor of the fear brigade's arguments, I suppose it only applies to doctors who are brown.

Climate Change: The Big Picture vs. Reality

I generally agree with Sean-Paul Kelley (granted, with some reservations), but on this score I'm not going to. First off, he's misrepresenting Lomborg's argument, which has consistently been against large gestures with no payoff and in favor of smaller, achievable interim goals that are actually going to help matters.

There's also the fact, if you read Lomborg's article, that global warming is just one of the many, many crises we're facing. It's the one that's currently the most popular in some quarters, but you're not going to get people who can't feed their families all that worked up about greenhouse gasses. Sure, there's a cause and effect issue there, but that doesn't impact their immediate bottom line.

If you go back and look at some of the other comments Lomborg has made on this issue, what he's calling for is a focus on things we can do right now to help the problem. He's not saying forget the major effort. As far as I know, he never has even hinted at that. He's saying let's not focus on something that might help in a hundred years because there are things we can do right now and most people don't really give a damn what happens in a hundred years.

Kelley, unfortunately, has managed to mask this as a conservative ploy to avoid doing anything. We've already seen how the conservatives avoid doing anything -- they just don't do anything and actively block efforts to do something. In this instance, Kelley seems to be blinded by ideology and would rather dump on a source who is, by all the evidence, nonideological than actually give the question some serious consideration. He would, it appears, be willing to tell 15 milliion people to go ahead and die as long as he can tout Live Earth. That, it seems to me, is a very safe, popular, white-bread middle-class, celebrity-driven and terrifically shallow attitude. One can easily point to it as a liberal effort to focus on a big and somewhat remote "solution" as a means of avoiding any present inconvenience.

(I've already more or less stated my position on this whole question, if you want to refresh your memory.)

Digby on Conservatism

Read it.

I can accept some of the tenets of so-called "classical" conservatism, such as maximum personal freedom, small, unintrusive government, and the like. In the real world, however, we have problems that are beyond the ability of the private sector to cope with, one of them being that we as citizens need protection from the private sector.

My major objection to conservatism, and this is even more relevant to libertarianism, is the lack of community displayed by those philosophies. This is not some dewy-eyed liberal leaning on my part, but is solidly grounded in human biology: we are social animals. We need to be with people and we need to care for and be cared for by our group. We've now, after maybe five thousand years of real civilization, managed to construct groups that are beyond our capability as individual to deal with. Most people can be intimate with a group of no more than about two dozen. You can readily associate with a group of maybe two hundred. Beyond that, it becomes terribly remote -- 300 million is a little much for a nice dinner party.

So we construct a group-surrogate -- a government. And I think, and I can quite legitimately argue, that one of the functions of government should be the welfare of the individuals it governs. (That should be a no-brainer, but it's amazing how seldom it comes up in discussions of conservatism by conservatives.) I don't think it needs to be a total welfare state, but safety nets and universal health care are not out of the question at all. Those are legitimate functions.

I think one reason we run into problems in our current set-up is that capitalism, as I've noted before, is the natural partner of oligarchy; socialism of one form or another is the natural partner of democracy. I guess that leaves me with the idea that some quasi-socialist government is the natural partner of a democratic republic. I'll let the theorists play with that one.

This is, believe it or not, relevant to the post below. Individual welfare in a polyglot society (and that is the source of some of our problems, as well) has to be contingent on erasing the boundaries between groups, in some areas at least. In that vein, things like hate-crimes laws are perfectly appropriate, as well as being regrettably necessary.

Hate Crimes

I want those who are against hate-crimes legislation to read this and explain to me why this should be treated just like any other assault. There is ample documentation that hate crimes are worse and have much more far-reaching effects than those not motivated by bias:

Undoubtedly David Ritcheson's wounds were deepened by the grotesque humiliation he suffered at the hands of the thugs: they violated him with a plastic pole and scarred him by pouring bleach into and over him. But that kind of extreme violence is also part of the nature of hate crimes, as I explained in Chapter 5 of Death on the Fourth of July:

While data and studies have given us a pretty clear picture of the typical hate-crime offender, no one has ever compiled a psychological profile of the typical hate-crime victim. This is partly because these victims are notoriously difficult to study; most of them are so traumatized by the crimes that they often refuse to participate in such work.

Mostly, however, it's because hate crimes can happen to literally anyone and can occur at any time, in no small part because of the random elements in the perpetrators' victim-selection process -- that is, most victims are complete strangers to the offender, chosen only because of their perceived membership in the target group. Nearly any race, religion or sexual orientation can inspire bias-motivated violence, and indeed one need not even actually belong to the target group to fall victim to a hate crime; witness the not-insubstantial number of heterosexual victims of gay-bashing.

That said, it is clear that in twenty-first-century America, minorities are far more likely to be victims of hate crimes than anyone else. In 2001, for example, 10,898 of the 12,020 victims of hate crimes reported to the FBI were various kinds of minorities. A pattern of victimization risk also emerges from the data: race is the most common motivator, with African Americans the most vulnerable targets; Jews and gay men are the second- and third-most likely targets, respectively.

Perhaps just as significant, the data reveals that these are more likely to be violent crimes. Criminal-justice expert Barbara Perry points to FBI statistics that reveal wide disparities in the levels of violence between bias crimes and "normal" street crimes. "It is apparent that hate crime . . . is much more likely to involve physical threat and harm to individuals, rather than property," she writes:

Consequently, such victims are also more likely to be at the receiving end of excessively brutal violence. To the extent that hate crime perpetrators are motivated by fear, hatred, mistrust, or resentment of victims, for example, they are more likely to engage in extreme violence -- violence which is beyond that necessary to subdue the victim.

If I need to add anything to this, you're not playing with a full deck.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

"Professional Prestige"?

I suppose it had to happen:

A major condom brand said Friday it expected thousands of applicants for a new unpaid job on offer -- condom tester.

Durex said 200 adult Australians -- men and women -- are wanted to test a range of its condoms.

While the successful applicants will not be paid, each will receive a pack of Durex sex products, a chance to win 1,000 Australian dollars ($857 U.S.), plus professional prestige, the company said in a statement.


I've remarked a couple of times about the use of the word "homosexual" by anti-gay bigots and straights who may be well-eaning but ignorant. I was therefore quite interested to read these comments from Out Front Blog.

There are reasons the Christianists use the word "homosexual" and refuse point-blank to call us "gay." Here's one:

[T]he American people react more positively to the term "gay" than to the term "homosexual." And they cite poll numbers from Gallup to back up that contention: apparently Gallup numbers show that approval of "gay" people is more popular than approval of "homosexuals."

Can't have that, now, can we?

This usage is deliberate on their part because "homosexual" as a term to describe a person (i.e., used as a noun rather than an adjective) is demeaning. It has a h istory as a clinical term used to describe a pathology (and that itself was the result of ignorance and prejudice), and that's the image that the Christianists want to perpetuate. They can't admit that gays are in any way normal, even though it's demonstrably true that we are just as normal (and probably more so) than they are. Consequently, any religious front-man who says that "homosexuals" should be accorded the dignity due to any human being has made himself out to be a hypocrite by the very fact that he is using a loaded term to describe us.

That has consequences, and don't tell me the Dobson Gang's not aware of them. From the New York Blade:

Every May since 2001 a Gallup poll asked Americans “In general, do you think homosexuals should or should not have equal rights in terms of job opportunities?”

The yes responses are as follows: 2001: 85 percent; 2002 86 percent; 2003 88 percent; 2004: 89 percent; 2005: 90 percent/87 percent; and 2006: 89 percent.

Note the two percentages given in 2005. That year, Gallup asked half the respondents about equal rights for “gays and lesbians,” resulting in a 3 percent higher approval compared with the Galllup’s typical use of the term “homosexual.”

. . .

Switching the terms “gay” and “homosexual” also influenced the number of people who said they were against equal rights. According to the same Gallup poll mentioned above, in 2005, 7 percent said “gays and lesbians” should not have equal rights in terms of employment. But 11 percent said that “homosexuals” should not have equal rights. That translates to 4 percent change—in favor of LGBT equality—simply because of the terminology.

I've had a couple of brief exchanges about this with Misty Irons at More Musings On, taking exception to her use of the term. Her rationale is that she is dealing with conservative Christians who are stuck in that term. I'm afraid I can't quite accept that one -- the point is to get them unstuck. I will readily grant that on the list of conservative Christians who are sympathetic to gay equality, she's right at the top, but that only points up the problems we still face in breaking down prejudice. Even those who like us just don't get it.

John Aravosis has similar comments on this issue, if not quite so confrontational as mine (and how rare is that?).

There is also the very basic rule of common courtesy here: you call someone by the name they prefer for themselves. I might ask of these people, as I did recently concerning Orson Scott Card, who has quite neatly placed himself in the spotlight as an anti-gay bigot, if they still call African Americans "Negroes," and if not, why not?

The answers should be illuminating.

(Footnote: GLAAD gives the appropriate references from AP, NYT, and WaPo. And yet they seem to ignore their own style sheets with some regularity.)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th

Be sure to celebrate what's left of our democracy.

Digby on the not-a-pardon: as usual, right on the markl. And, as with everything this administration does, there's collateral damage.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Not-a-Pardon

From Joe Sudbay at AmericaBlog, some good comments on Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence. John Aravosis has some reactions. Andrew Sullivan notes the right-wing talking points, as well as noting Fred Thompson's reaction. (I mean, is that lame, or what? This man wants to be president? Maybe? Kinda sorta?)

And, via TPM Election Central, the public reaction.

Digby points out a wrinkle in the whole thing:

I'm not a lawyer, but I have to assume that this means he can still appeal --- which means he can still take the fifth if the congress calls him to to testify. Very convenient.

Digby also points out what people who don't work for the vice president can expect from this administration:

The Bush administration is trying to roll back a Supreme Court decision by pushing legislation that would require prison time for nearly all criminals.

(I was actually looking for some right side of the aisle reactions, but I don't seem to have the links. Sullivan will have to do it, I guess. GayPatriot is still in knots over the possibility of hordes of Spanish-speaking brown people actually getting to stay here, and Matt at the Malcontent thinks it's all Bill Clinton's fault.)

I don't know that I even have an opinion on this -- I mean, what did anyone expect? This is Bush's own little old boys' club, after all. One possibility I did see advanced is a pardon as one of Bush's outgoing little smirks. I'm sure Libby can find enough donors (Fred Thompson, by the way, is on the board of his defense fund) to keep the appeals going long enough, and after all, Clinton did exactly the same thing!!!. (I think the fact that anyone can equate pardoning a crooked financier with pardoning a man who has quite possibly committed treason goes a long way toward explaining why some people voted for Bush twice.)

Some Things You Just Can't Ignore

Ann Coulter, talking to BIll O'Reilly:

I'm more of a man than any liberal.

And here I thought the adam's apple jokes were just snark.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Construction Time Again

An interesting must read at Harper's.

Thanks to Atrios, who got it from Suburban Guerilla.

Pot, Kettle

Orson Scott Card, whose science fiction and fantasy I have enjoyed greatly, should perhaps not write about the real world. This piece of tripe reveals not only the flawed worldview of the monotheistic religions in general, but the inability of some of their apologists to reason coherently.

One thing is certain: one cannot serve two masters. And when one's life is given over to one community that demands utter allegiance, it cannot be given to another. The LDS church is one such community. The homosexual community seems to be another. And when I read the statements of those who claim to be both LDS and homosexual, trying to persuade the former community to cease making their membership contingent upon abandoning the latter, I wonder if they realize that the price of such "tolerance" would be, in the long run, the destruction of the Church.

Apples, oranges. Being gay is not an allegiance any more than being straight is. There's no legitimate comparison here, not even the most remote. First off, being LDS is a choice; there is no evidence that being gay is any such thing. LDS is a religion; being gay is a condition. For gay LDS to ask that their church accept them for what they are doesn't seem to me to be unreasonable, unless, of course, that church is so hidebound and stubborn that it still thinks it is wandering around somewhere in Missouri en route to the Promised Land. (I suspect that when anti-gay attitudes become a political liability, the LDS will revise their thinking. Look what happened to polygamy.)

This is the beginning of the argument. It goes downhill from there.

The argument by the hypocrites of homosexuality that homosexual tendencies are genetically ingrained in some individuals is almost laughably irrelevant. We are all genetically predisposed toward some sin or another; we are all expected to control those genetic predispositions when it is possible. It is for God to judge which individuals are tempted beyond their ability to bear or beyond their ability to resist. But it is the responsibility of the Church and the Saints never to lose sight of the goal of perfect obedience to laws designed for our happiness.

This one is just choice. How is one genetically disposed toward something that is purely a product of the human imagination? There is no objective definition of "sin." Never was. It's all context, with the purpose of social control. Joseph Campbell pointed out that morality, like the religions on which it is based, is tailored for a particular group at a particular time, an idea also propounded by Vine Deloria, Jr. Anyone who has spent any time at all in a rational examination of religion soon comes to the same conclusion, I think. (That may be one reason Christianity and its offshoots have had such a pernicious effect on the West -- they're Middle Eastern religions, and reflect a foreign worldview.)

And I just love the last sentence there -- "laws designed for our happiness." Whose? Those who were born different than the majority and are trying to find some acceptance of what they are within the church? Doesn't really look like it, does it?

And then we leave reality behind completely:

The hypocrites of homosexuality are, of course, already preparing to answer these statements by accusing me of homophobia, gay-bashing, bigotry, intolerance; but nothing that I have said here -- and nothing that has been said by any of the prophets or any of the Church leaders who have dealt with this issue -- can be construed as advocating, encouraging, or even allowing harsh personal treatment of individuals who are unable to resist the temptation to have sexual relations with persons of the same sex.

No, you just tell them that they're not really human. Aside from his arrogant condescension, which just drips from every paragraph, Card is pulling a Benedict on us: "homosexual persons should be treated with respect and appreciation of their innate dignity, even if they are intrinsically disordered." Crap. Card is calling us hypocrites for daring to demand that we be treated like human beings and condemning his church when it refuses to do so based on its own insular worldview, and obviously won't admit the hypocrisy in his own position. (I might point out here that I am not alone in regarding being referred to as "a homosexual" deeply offensive. Ignorance is no longer an excuse, I think. It merely reinforces the fact that Card and those like him are not willing to extend us the basic courtesy of referring to us by the term we choose. I wonder if he still calls African Americans "Negroes." Not in public, I'll bet.)

And then comes the victim card:

The Church has plenty of room for individuals who are struggling to overcome their temptation toward homosexual behavior. But for the protection of the Saints and the good of the persons themselves, the Church has no room for those who, instead of repenting of homosexuality, wish it to become an acceptable behavior in the society of the Saints. They are wolves in sheep's clothing, preaching meekness while attempting to devour the flock.

In other words, as long as you accept the idea that you're a piece of crap, you're welcome here. If you dare to display any self respect, you're a threat.

There's not really much else to say about this. Given the general lack of contact in this piece with objective reality, I guess we can be generous and just consider it Card's latest addition to the literature of the fantastic. He should, however, stick with novels. He does better with those.