"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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Recycling a la Blankenhorn

David Blankenhorn periodically comes out with an OpEd against same-sex marriage, apparently with the idea in mind that if you keep repeating arguments that have already been refuted, that makes them irrefutable. I was alerted to this one by this post at Pam's House Blend. Ol cranky does a decent job of countering Blankenhorn, but, with the election news being as tired and depressing as it is (and we won't mention the economy), I thought I'd do some deconstruction of my own.

Blankenhorn starts off with what I guess are supposed to be his credentials:

I'm a liberal Democrat. And I do not favor same-sex marriage. Do those positions sound contradictory? To me, they fit together.

And your point is? Given what comes after, that just demonstrates that liberal Democrats are just as prone to being wrong as anyone else. Then we get into the "meat":

Many seem to believe that marriage is simply a private love relationship between two people. They accept this view, in part, because Americans increasingly have emphasized and come to value the intimate, emotional side of marriage and, in part, because almost all opinion leaders today, from journalists to judges, strongly embrace this position. That's certainly the idea that underpinned the California Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage.

Well, no. Unless you only want to look at part of the picture -- the part that supports your opinion. (We're verging on faith-based science here: conclusions first, then find the evidence that fits.) The idea that marriage is "simply a private love relationship" gets a lot of notice -- mostly from the right -- but it's not something that anyone who favors SSM has tried to base an argument on. As for that idea "underpinning" the California Supreme Court's decision, read it yourself. You'll find that Blankenhorn has presented a simplistic view of the Court's decision, which is based on the constitutional issue of whether the state has a compelling reason to exclude same-sex relationships and families from the same treatment as that of opposite-sex families, which in the Court's judgment it failed to present. What is key from this decision is the very simple idea that relationships between same-sex and opposite sex couples are of equal dignity and validity under the law, which is the part that Blankenhorn doesn't want to talk about.

He goes on:

But I spent a year studying the history and anthropology of marriage, and I've come to a different conclusion.

Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving, and many of its features vary across groups and cultures. But there is one constant. In all societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood. Among humans, the scholars report, marriage is not primarily a license to have sex. Nor is it primarily a license to receive benefits or social recognition. It is primarily a license to have children.

This is pretty laughable. If you followed my recaps and discussions of the debate at Box Turtle Bulletin between Glenn T. Stanton and Patrick Chapman, you know that the history and anthropology of marriage present a much more varied and complex picture than Blankenhorn admits. (Here's Jim Burroway's wrap-up on that.) First off, people certainly don't need a license to have children. That in itself is a ludicrous statement. And historically, marriage has been a social mechanism, a business arrangement, a means of cementing political alliances, an attempt to certify paternity, and any number of other things, in which children are often part of the deal, but not a requirement. (And I might add that children are less a requirement today than ever before.)

Marriage is, in its simplist terms, a social mechanism by which members of a community can identify couples as couples and assign them their appropriate status as part of the community. That's the nut, and that's the issue in the campaign for marriage equality.

I've got to run, but I'll try to come back to this tomorrow.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Reviews in Brief: Jazz by Tamotsu Takamure and Sakae Maeda

The manga version of Jazz is an adaptation by Tamotsu Takamure of the original story by Sakae Maeda.

Dr. Koichi Narasawa is a young internist with a specialty in respiratory diseases. He is generally well-liked because of his even disposition and winning smile, but this is only a surface effect: he feels empty inside, as though he doesn't really exist. He is a doctor because his parents wanted him to be a doctor. Late one night a new patient is brought in with an acute attack of asthma. Naoki Segawa is a high-school student, a tall strking boy from a wealthy family whose life has been circumscribed by his illness, but probably more than necessary: even though he is about seventeen, he still is under the care of a pediatrician. Naoki is immediately drawn to "Doc," and when he graduates from high school, invites the Narasawa to dinner, where he proceeds to drug his drink and rape him. Thus begins a relationship marked by misunderstandings, crossed signals, and crisis after crisis. This being a romance, they do work it out, but it takes four volumes

It can take some determination to get into this story: neither Doc nor Naoki come across as particularly admirable characters, and it takes a while to build sympathy for them. Doc is spineless, withdrawn, and secretive, while Naoki is impulsive, spoiled, obsessie, and neurotically insecure, which in his case expresses itself as jealousy. The transformations are subtle and it's easy to miss the cues. It's not until the fourth volume that the two begin to open up to each other and develop a real relationship, and it's only in retrospect that we realize how strong their attachment has been.

Graphically, Takamure works in a strongly shoujo style: page layouts are fluid and abstract, although the narrative flow is generally clear, and frames are marked by the spareness that is one of the things I most like about manga. Characterizations are deft: I've noticed more and more the admirable ability of many mangaka to portray character in their visuals, and Takamure manages to make her portrayals marvelously expressive. Body types are somewhat unusual: figures tend to be blocky, with broad shoulders and hips, but she retains a sketchy quality that lightens the whole feeling.

I've been somewhat ambivalent about recommending this one, but on re-reading, I think it's pretty good.

This is another one from Juné, an imprint of Digital Manga Publishing.

In Memoriam

Paul Newman is dead.

Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon's ''enemies list,'' one of the actor's proudest achievements, he liked to say.

Dennis Hartley has a good commentary at Hullabaloo. (Scroll down to the Update.)

And of course, here's the NYT obit.


A bit in this post by dday at Hullabaloo stopped me for a minute:

. . . McCain is expected to have a front-row seat at Bristol’s wedding and to benefit from the outpouring of goodwill that it could bring. “What’s the downside?” a source inside the McCain campaign said. “It would be wonderful. I don’t know that there has ever been a pre-election wedding before.”

Um -- I don't think any vice-presidential candidate's daughter (or son) has had to get married quickly before.

(Note: I don't care whether Bristol Palin gets married or not, but given her family background I suppose it's a necessity. In practical terms, it will make it easier to raise the child. I just think it's sad that the McCain campaign is already licking its chops at another chance to deflect attention away from the presidential race by making a spectacle out of Bristol's wedding.)

Nice Video

Thanks to AmericaBlog

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday Gay Blogging, Special Edition

No pictures for this one:

A group of articles I just ran across at 365gay.com on homeless gay youth in New York. I have a feeling it's not much different in other cities, except there may not be shelters available.

"These Kids Are Invisible"

"Siciliano: LGBT teen homelessness is an epidemic"

"Queer Streets: Where Are They Now?"

And this one's most important, and considering the magnitude of the problem, heartbreakingly sparse: Resources: LGBT youth shelters

Stuff like this tears me up -- damn, if I had money. . . .

Catholics on Evolution

From Ed Brayton, this note on a Catholic conference on evolution. Quoting from Catholic News Service:

Speakers invited to attend a Vatican-sponsored congress on the evolution debate will not include proponents of creationism and intelligent design, organizers said.

The Pontifical Council for Culture, Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana are organizing an international conference in Rome March 3-7 as one of a series of events marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species."

Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a philosophy professor at the Gregorian, told Catholic News Service Sept. 16 that organizers "wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific" and that discussed rational philosophy and theology along with the latest scientific discoveries.

The Catholic Church has accepted the theory of evolution as compatible with Church teachings for quite some time now. I'm sort of surprised that they don't have a definitive statement on it, but more power to them for holding this conference.

Brayton also notes this with some puzzlement:

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the other extreme of the evolution debate -- proponents of an overly scientific conception of evolution and natural selection -- also were not invited.

Brayton thinks it's the reporter "freelancing." I suspect it's a way of excluding people like Richard Dawkins.

We Have Seen the Police State

And it's us. The Army now wants to deploy troops at home, which is bad enough, but there's another aspect to this. Here is a really scare post from digby, who is actually just reporting, pretty much. It's what she's reporting that's so scary:
The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.


“I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered,” said Cloutier, describing the experience as “your worst muscle cramp ever — times 10 throughout your whole body.

“I’m not a small guy, I weigh 230 pounds ... it put me on my knees in seconds.”

So men who've been fighting in Iraq will now be armed with tasers on the streets of the United States. You can be fairly sure that after what they've been trained for they'll believe that tasering someone is completely benign. After all, you get up again.

If you've been following some of the stories from Pam's House Blend, you know better: tasers are not non-lethal when misused, and they will be misused.

It gets worse:

But as bad as putting more tasers on the streets, there's an even worse possibility. The article says:
The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

I think you have to wonder if this is what they might be talking about:
The US military has given the first public display of what it says is a revolutionary heat-ray weapon to repel enemies or disperse hostile crowds.

Called the Active Denial System, it projects an invisible high energy beam that produces a sudden burning feeling.

This is about a new generation of "crowd control" weapons that cause intense pain without leaving visible marks. If that rings a bell somewhere in the back of your mind, think about this:

Dr John Wood, a biologist at UCL and an expert in the way the brain perceives pain, is horrified by the new pain weapons.

"They are so obviously useful as torture instruments," he says.

"It is ethically dubious to say they are useful for crowd control when they will obviously be used by unscrupulous people for torture."

And in case you're thinking that we need to keep them out of the hands of countries that condone torture -- well, one of those countries is developing them. That would be us.

There was a time when I would have thought this whole thing was hysterical and paranoid. Not any more. We are living today under a government that has legalized torture and which sees absolutely no problem with shooting people full of electricity on the streets of America every day in order to force compliance.

This isn't some dystopian future we're talking about. It's already here. Now they are going to empower the Army to use these non-lethal torture devices right here in America as well.

Near the end of the Army Times article comes one of the most Orwellian quotes I've seen in a long time:

“I can’t think of a more noble mission than this,” said Cloutier, who took command in July. “We’ve been all over the world during this time of conflict, but now our mission is to take care of citizens at home ... and depending on where an event occurred, you’re going home to take care of your home town, your loved ones.”

If that doesn't scare you, nothing will.


Here's a post from hilzoy that quotes at length from Charles Brown's response to this statement by Sarah Palin:

I'm not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate from college. Their parents get them a passport and give them a backpack and say, "go off and travel the world." No, I've worked all my life. In fact I've had two jobs all my life until I had kids. I was not a part of, I guess, that culture.

There's a lot wrong with this statement, most of which Brown answers. Like him, my family wasn't well-off, and I went to Europe on my own. I was older -- my late twenties -- and I had saved up the money for the trip by -- well, by working. That's also a large part of the way I went to college, although my parents did foot tuition for the state university I attended. I paid for everything else myself. But I wanted to see Europe, even though I could only afford a trip to France and England.

I fell in love with Paris, but then, who doesn't?

But both hilzoy and Brown hit on one point that I think has a lot of resonance: curiosity. Curiosity is a natural state, as far as I'm concerned, and even more than ignorance, incuriosity is something that I simply don't understand: I can't figure out why anyone would want to be that way. (Ignorance can be remedied, and stupidity can't be helped, but incuriosity is beyond the Pale.)

Maybe that's why I don't have a great deal of comfort with authority -- I was one of those horrible children who started asking "Why?" and never stopped. "Because I said so" just never worked with me.

And it seems that too many of the conservative rank and file just don't wonder about things, when the universe is this totally magical place with so much to discover.

What they hell are they doing with their lives?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Gay Blogging

Marriage Note: From Jeremy Hooper comes this bit about same-sex marriage on prime-time TV -- the way it ought to be done:

Watch CBS Videos Online

And another from Hooper, this one about the Florida man who won a court case to adopt his foster son. The Miami Herald did really good story on it.

And speaking of gay adoptions, guess what? Someone's done a study, and we need more gay couples adopting. From the Chicago Tribune:

While Clay Aiken may be on the cover of People cradling his infant (through surrogacy) and Rosie O'Donnell has long shared stories of her brood with mainstream America, the highly charged issue of gay parenthood continues to rally conservatives, who say such homes are not in the best interest of a child.

But findings by a nonpartisan adoption group being released Thursday conclude that gays and lesbians are an important resource for children awaiting adoption. There is near "universal professional consensus" that these applicants should be judged on their qualifications, not sexual orientation.

And every study done on the subject says that children raised by same-sex parents are just as well-adjusted as those raised by opposite-sex parents, no matter what lies you hear from James Dobson. The "better with a mother and father" argument, as you will remember, is a mendacious retelling of studies that compared the children of single-parent and dual-parent households. None of them made any reference to the sexual orientation of the parents.

And speaking of lies and the liars who tell them, there's this note from Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin:

A British researcher has denounced two North American anti-gay web sites for distorting his research. University College London professor Michael King, in a statement to Box Turtle Bulletin, clarified the findings of his research on depression and suicide among LGB people, and emphasized the importance that “all sectors of society welcome them as equal and valuable citizens. . . .”

The BMC Psychiatry article by professor Michael King and colleagues is available online for free. This means that you don’t have to take anyone’s word for anything; you can read it yourself. And as you do, you’ll notice that the study bears little resemblance to Gilbert’s description of it.

Ack! We're veering into Wingnut Watch here, which I try to avoid on Fridays.


And what about dessert? Australian magazine DNA to the rescue:

Bailout/No Bailout

Looks like there's no agreement, after there was an agreement. And it's obviously time for more finger-pointing:

In the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.”

It was the very outcome the White House had said it intended to avoid, with partisan presidential politics appearing to trample what had been exceedingly delicate Congressional negotiations.

Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Senate banking committee, denounced the session as “a rescue plan for John McCain,” and proclaimed it a waste of precious hours that could have been spent negotiating.

But a top aide to Mr. Boehner said it was Democrats who had done the political posturing. The aide, Kevin Smith, said Republicans revolted, in part, because they were chafing at what they saw as an attempt by Democrats to jam through an agreement on the bailout early Thursday and deny Mr. McCain an opportunity to participate in the agreement.

Strange, isn't it? A year ago, Bush's word was law in Congress, and now he can't even get his own party to fall into line. And I find it instructive that the Republicans are whining about not giving McCain and chance to "participate" in the agreement. He hasn't voted on anything since what? March? April? And suddenly he's got to be involved -- in an area where he admits he knows nothing? But it's the Democrats playing politics, for sure. Here's Barney Frank's comment on McCain's intervention, from Politico:

Frank bashed McCain for becoming involved in the bailout talks, suggesting he was doing it only for political gain in the presidential race.

"I think Sen. McCain was hurting politically on the economic issue," Frank just told reporters. "I think this was a campaign ploy for Sen. McCain. I think they then had this problem that there might not have been enough of a deadlock for him to resolve. I don't know what motivated what, but the next thing we know, he's in a position, frankly, where he's making it harder to get things done rather than negotiate differences.

"He's slowed it down, I don't know whether he caused it or what," Frank said. "We are trying to put it back together."

Keep in mind that, by all reports, the Republicans claim to have an alternative but they haven't offered anything for consideration.

Frank gave reporters copies of the House Republicans’ set of principles, and he said that their primary goal — insuring bad bank loans, rather than buying them — had already been rejected by Paulson as unworkable. He noted that no House Republicans raised the insurance idea at a House hearing yesterday; if anyone had, he said, Paulson would have rejected the idea out of hand.

Now, just who is playing politics? Another article from Politico gives an idea:

t was McCain who had urged Bush to call the White House meeting but Democrats made sure Obama had a prominent part. And much as they complained later of being blindsided, the whole event turned out to be something of an ambush on their part—aimed at McCain and House Republicans.

“Speaking professionally,” said one Republican aide, “They did a very good job.”

I didn't know the Democrats had it in them, but it looks like they ambushed the ambushers.

And from Crooks and Liars, it seems that economists aren't convinced that it's really that urgent:

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America’s dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.

And yet the president says we must act immediately -- but he always says that. Wonder why?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Early Days

I know, it's been thin and patchy here lately -- the problem is, three days a week I have to leave very early, which cuts into my reading/commenting time, and I mostly don't get home until late.

Then there's the fact that the news is all about how the McCain campaign is imploding. You don't need me to comment on that -- it's everywhere.

And today I have an early appointment, which means I don't have much time to find a story that looks interesting. Maybe I'll be able to come back later today.

Hang in there. We're working on it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Through the Looking Glass Award

Andrew Sullivan gave this quote a Malkin Award. That makes it sound too close to reality, I think:

"This Administration deserves to be trusted because it has kept us safe from terrorist attack since 9/11, has fought and won two wars, has presided over eight years of economic growth, has appointed two stellar justices to the Supreme Court, and has even learned how to do Louisiana’s job of protecting that state from hurricanes. The day will come, and not before long, when Americans will wish that George Bush was still president," - Steven Calabresi, professor of law at the Northwestern University Law School.

Here' s some background on Calabresi and more wonderful quotes.

Go to town.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Meltdown

The biggest news right now is not putting lipstick on a pig, but the meltdown on Wall Street. I don't really get economics, so I haven't been writing about it, but if you want some commentary that seems to know what's what, check out Paul Krugman's blog at NYT. He's got a background in economics and is one of the more rational people writing about it.

All I can say is that the Bush/Paulson plan stinks -- no regulation, no caps on the platinum parachutes for the people who created this mess, and no relief for the people who are really being screwed, the mortgage borrowers. Typical Bush, right?

Via Crooks and Liars, here are some of Paulson's comments on the proposed bailout:

But, remember, this is about protecting the American people and protecting the taxpayers. And the American people don’t care who owns the financial institution. If a financial institution in this country has problems, it’ll have the same impact.

I can't believe he can say stuff like that with a straight face.

And here's a blistering commentary from Glenn Greenwald on the dimensions of the disaster:

Again, regardless of whether this nationalization/bailout scheme is "necessary" or makes utilitarian sense, it is a crime of the highest order -- not a "crime" in the legal sense but in a more meaningful sense.

What is more intrinsically corrupt than allowing people to engage in high-reward/no-risk capitalism -- where they reap tens of millions of dollars and more every year while their reckless gambles are paying off only to then have the Government shift their losses to the citizenry at large once their schemes collapse? We've retroactively created a win-only system where the wealthiest corporations and their shareholders are free to gamble for as long as they win and then force others who have no upside to pay for their losses. Watching Wall St. erupt with an orgy of celebration on Friday after it became clear the Government (i.e., you) would pay for their disaster was literally nauseating, as the very people who wreaked this havoc are now being rewarded.

Andrew Sullivan has summarized some of the reactions.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reviews in Brief: Modoru Motoni's Dog Style, Vol. 2

To refresh your memory, see my comments on Vol. 1 here.

The fourth time they "do it," Teru and Mki have sex good enough that they both want to melt. They are drawn to each other anyway, but that just seals the deal. And, as defenses come down, they become more comfortable together, which leads to new sets of complications: the brothers Kashiwa are uneasy at the idea (still largely subliminal) that they are losing their best friends, and being somewhat interpersonally inept, do exactly the wrong things to repair the situation: the older brother offers to have sex with Miki, who is way over that with him. The younger, caught between his friends and his girl (a pinch-faced bitch with big tits), sides with her, and loses Teru. There are other complications, especially Kijima, the leader of the punks from Nannogi High who have been pursuiing Teru, whom I suspect will have a larger role in the next volume (and there is sure to be one).

Of main import, however, is that it's become dark secrets time. Miki is being stalked by someone who is sending out pornographic S&M videos starring Miki, along with blackmail notes. The stalker, Miki's old tennis coach, makes the mistake of approaching Teru and showing him the last remaining clip. Teru beats him to a bloody pulp, and then goes to Miki, who tells him the whole story.

Interestingly enough, and a testamant to Motoni's abilities as an illustrator, even though the dialogue and Miki's thoughts/narration point up the fact that he's fallen in love with Teru, it's the visuals that really bring home the change in attitude by both boys. It's an excellent example of the graphics carrying a narrative subtext.

There are all sorts of potential conflicts and confrontations in store for these two, what with the Kashiwas, Kijima, and each other. I'm looking forward to them.

I have to confess, the one drawback in my eyes for this one is the cover art -- it doesn't have the edge that the interior graphics do, and the character renderings lack the elegance and definition of the black-and-whites.

The publisher is Kitty Media.

I Have Trouble Believing

Anyone's this stupid:

"I always listen to Mark Levin while making Friday night dinner ... Funnily enough, he has explained just what it is community organizers do. Advocating, for instance, for affordable housing for the poor - the poor who traditionally rent, because they are bad loan risks. The day that reasoning by banks was junked as "racist," was the day this crisis became a possibility.," - Lisa Schiffren, NRO.

The biases are hanging out all over the place -- notice how Schiffren conflates "poor" with "racist": can we tell where her head is at? And also, the poor being "bad loan risks" who "traditionally rent." Has anyone told Schiffren that "affordable housing" includes Section 8 and other rentals?

And she's obviously just not very smart.

All that evolution gone to waste.

At least Andrew Sullivan was perceptive enough to realize Lisa Schiffren isn't really on this planet. But then, he doesn't tend to spend a lot of time here, either. This is how Sullivan's version of "conservatism" plays out in the real world:

And the government never told them they couldn’t. Wall Street is to blame for giving these people these loans, but no one is ever forced to take out a bad load they cannot pay.

"The government never told them they couldn't." I guess along the DC/P-Town axis, it's the role of government to tell the little people what they can and cannot do. Funny -- in spite of Sullivan's many protestations that he's a "classical" conservative and is repelled by what "conservatism" has become, he starts to sound more and more like -- well, any other self-styled establishment aristocrat, I guess.

John Amato rips him a new one for his performance on Real Time:

Andrew Sullivan has been conned by a fictitious notion of what conservatism really is. He states his Utopian vision of conservatism, but leaves out the part where conservatives want to deregulate everything and get rid of oversight and government so they can reap a magical harvest of cash like they have been doing during the entire Bush administration. Now we are seeing the results of conservatism. It’s a failure. Does Sully really believe that conservatism exists without the fat cats expanding their pie of wealth in America to 1920’s or pre-New Deal proportions? They’ve been trying to undo the New Deal ever since it was instituted and by the way which brought the country back from the brink of destruction.

If you visit here regularly, it's no secret to you that I think Sullivan is a shallow thinker and inclined to favor theory over reality. I am, however, usually kinder about it than Amato is here.

Note: Sullivan also has a clip from the show, but it doesn't deal with that part at all. Read Amato's post -- it's great.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Politics or Incompetence?

OK, I take it back (see below). Trust Dave Neiwert to come up with something provocative. He's developing a series of good posts on the U.S. Attorney in Colorado, Troy Eid, who refused to press charges against a trio of nutjobs who threatened to assassinate Barack Obama. The first is here, and the follow-up is here. This is key:

Here's the AP version of what was in the affidavit:
Johnson later told a federal agent that the men talked about assassinating Obama only because he was black, according to a federal arrest affidavit. Johnson said he also heard Adolf say that he wanted to kill Obama "on the day of his inauguration" and that he would "find high ground to set up and shoot Obama," the affidavit said.

And yet in his press conference announcing there wasn't "enough evidence" to pursue conspiracy charges against the men, Eid said:
"You know, they didn't, they didn't reveal a plan. I think what you can see in the affidavit was, uh, a lot of racist rantings and a lot of dislike for the idea of Senator Obama as an African-American person of color being able to pursue that office."

Not only did these men have a plan, they had the material for carrying it out and appeared to be in the early stages of doing so. Investigators found high-powered rifles, ammunition, disguises, walkie-talkies, and maps, all indicative of a coordinated plan to assassinate Obama.

Neiwert asks the right questions:

Two questions arise -- one minor, one major:

-- How often has Troy Eid ignored the FBI's recommendations in the past when it comes to filing charges in cases of this nature? (We know when it came to a black man inside a prison threatening John McCain -- despite a clear lack of capability of actually carrying out the threat -- Eid was eager and willing.)

-- Is this administration -- and particularly this Justice Department, as deeply compromised as it has become by the Bush White House's crass politicization -- capable of ensuring that true threats against Democratic figures like Obama are taken seriously and dealt with appropriately?

I'd ask, rather, are threats against Democrats going to be dealt with at all?

No News

That's fit to blog. Same ol' . . . .

So, you get a picture instead.

If I run across something that looks interesting, I'll be back.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fridy Gay Blogging

I generally avoid topics like ex-gays because there are much more uplifting things to think about -- and I get tired of pointing out the same lies over and over again. However, this week Jeremy Hooper at Good As You points us toward this story fromt he Anchorage Press. It's an interesting story -- Wayne Besen, who's organizing the protest against "Love Won Out" there, gets as much coverage as the ex-gays do, which is rare. This, however, is what struck me as interesting:

Melissa Fryrear, Focus on the Family’s Director of the Gender Issues Department, Love Won Out speaker, and former lesbian, stated, “We exist to help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome. It’s not easy, but it is possible, as evidenced by the thousands of men and women—like me—that have walked this road successfully. . . .”

Dallas named inborn characteristics that he says make one susceptible to homosexuality—sensitivity, creativity, compliance, preference for intellectual pursuits over athletics—and spoke of a “decision” homosexuals make to make their orientation and behavior part of their identity.

Love Won Out’s position sounds like, basically, that homosexuality is the result of choices, and it backs itself up with the testimony of speakers like Johnston and Fryrear, both of who say they’ve overcome same-sex attraction. Fryrear, reached by phone after the conference, specifies, “one of our corrections to Christians who don’t understand the struggle is that we don’t think the feelings are a choice, we’re trying to offer Christians our perspective, and what we’ve found to be complex influencing factors.”

In other words, we'll stand there and make it sound like same-sex orientation can be changed, but when you call us on it, the fallback is that, well, no, but you can pretend it doesn't exist. This, by the way, is a recent development -- now that the evidence is piling up and becoming more and more unavoidable, they have to change their position to maintain any credibility. Suddenly, "the feelings are not a choice." Hmmmm.

To add to the bullshit factor, Joe.My.God found one I missed:

Melissa Fryrear, Focus on the Family’s Director of the Gender Issues Department, Love Won Out speaker, and former lesbian, stated, “We exist to help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome. It’s not easy, but it is possible, as evidenced by the thousands of men and women—like me—that have walked this road successfully.”

We keep hearing about these "thousands," but somehow we never see them.

For an overview of the state of the art in the research, withi particular reference to the most recent brain-imaging study, see this interview at Salon.

On the marriage front, Jim Burroway and Timothy Kincaid have done a couple of excellent reports (here and here, respectively) on the Mormons' backing of the anti-marriage amendments in Arizona and California. As Burroway points out:

I fully expect this line of questioning to be very controversial. My email inbox is already full about this. But I do think it is newsworthy that one religious denomination appears to be bankrolling a serious public policy initiative under the guise of a broad-based grass-roots organization. If that doesn’t send a chill down the spines of everyone who cherishes religious liberty, I don’t know what does.

You know my feelings: there is too much religious doctrine on the lawbooks already. We should be weeding it out, not planting more

Dessert today courtesy of Queerty:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vote Fraud

In spite of the massive amount of noise, multiple firings, etc., coming from the Bush administration about Democractic voter fraud, it seems as though the shoe is on the other foot. I've started seeing stories popping up here and there -- here's one from Ed Brayton, and here's one from digby, with a link to Election Protection, a watchdog organization that looks good.

Vote Suppression: Watch for it! Coming soon to a polling place near you.

The Religious-Political Complex

Digy has a terrific post on the religious right and the religious left and what is happening there now -- or, not so much there as how religion in this country is being used by the power-brokers in Washington to control the discourse. It's mostly excerpts from an interview with Fred Clarkson, and if that's a name you don't know, you should.

He starts off with Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California, and goes on from there. Here's what he says about Warren:

Four years ago, Rick Warren wrote an inflammatory letter about the presidential contest to thousands of evangelical pastors. This letter revealed him to be a fierce partisan, who epitomized the worst aspects of the Religious Right. He declared five issues to be "non-negotiable" and those they "are not even debatable because God's word is clear on these issues.'" These included abortion, same sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and euthanasia. He later said he regretted the letter but that he had not changed his views.

While he is a skilled showman, he is unable to sustain moderation in style or in substance even before a national television audience. His real self leaks out. At the Civic Forum, Warren highlighted the top two litmus tests of the Religious Right — abortion and same sex marriage, and described abortion as a "holocaust." Following this he called on his audience not to "demonize" people with whom they may disagree — having just compared people who have a different view on abortion to the Nazis. In my view, Warren is an emerging leader of the Religious Right in transition, not of evangelical moderation.

I've been uneasy about Warren. I have to confess that at first I thought he might actually be a real alternative to the Dobson Gang, but it seems, from this and from what I've seen myself, that it's sort of like vodka is an alternative to gin -- just sneakier, that's all.

Clarkson goes on to discuss the role of the religious left and how a new, sanitized version is being created by the political honchos. As digby points out:

The real religious left, you see, is quite unabashedly liberal. They care about thing like .... Peace. Equality. Justice. Things that don't go down well with the parochial aristocracy of the Village.

The Religious Right is a creature of the village and now that the conservative movement is on the decline, they've decided to manufacture a "liberal" version for the same purposes. They can't allow the real religious left to have any influence, but they have fetishized religion in politics to such an extent that it's going to be hard to keep them out unless they create a useful substitute.

It's a fascinating and scary post. Read it. Read the interview, too.

Marriage Note

From PZ Myers comes this bit about two goofballs in California who don't like the new marriage license applications:

To the state of California, however, she is either "Party A" or "Party B."

Those are the terms that have replaced "bride" and "groom" on the state's new gender-neutral marriage licenses. And to Bird and Codding, that is unacceptable.

"We are traditionalists – we just want to be called bride and groom," said Bird, 25, who works part time for her father's church. "Those words have been used for generations and now they just changed them."

Needless to say, these are a couple of religious right freaks who are out to prove "damage" under the new system.

And Rachel Bird described her position as "personal – not religious."

"We just feel that our rights have been violated," she said.

To some, the couple's stand may seem frivolous. But others believe "bride" and "groom" are terms that are too important for the state to set aside.

"Those who support (same-sex marriage) say it has no impact on heterosexuals," said Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute. "This debunks that argument."

"Our rights have been violated. . . " That didn't take long, did it? I'm waiting for Brad Dacus to file suit. I'd love to follow this one in the courts.

I'm not alone in this conclusion: Jeremy Hooper sees it too:

Now, judging by her father's presence in the anti-gay marriage fight, the chances are pretty great that this is nothing more than a PR stunt meant to demonstrate all of the ways heterosexuals will supposedly "suffer" under the weight of our cruel equality. But if the best Ms. Bird can do is throw a hissy about how a government document refers to her hubby, then we're thinking she might have just disproved the "there's no such thing as bad publicity" cliché.

'Nuff said?

(A note, under the heading "this fish smell many day dead": it's a sad comment on the perceived integrity of conservative Christians that someone like this can insist that this is merely a personal issue and not intended to make a statement about marriage equality and she is immediately perceived as a liar. Of course, the idea that the state of California has to do things to suit her wishes strikes me as pretty infantile.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Joke of the Day

I ran across this yesterday and ran out of time before I got around to posting it. From Ed Brayton, a choice bit about the new Hadron Collider, from the "Christian" perspective:

A creation scientist acknowledges the recent test of the so-called "big bang machine" could uncover information about the tiniest particles known to man, but says it will not provide evidence of evolution...

No one but a creation "scientist" would expect it to.

When you live in a science-free world. . . .

(By the way -- read the comments on this one. Theuy're pretty interesting.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Real American Values

I mentioned that Jeremy Hooper was covering the Values Voters Summit in this week's FGB, but this story hadn't hit yet. From Chris in Paris at AmericaBlog:

Wearing white chef's aprons, Whitlock and DeMoss were doing a brisk business at noon Saturday selling the waffle mix to people crowded around their booth. Two pyramids of waffle mix boxes stood several feet high on the booth's table.

"It's the ultimate political souvenir," DeMoss told a customer.

Asked if he considered the pictures of Obama on the box to be racial stereotypes, Whitlock said: "We had some people mention that to us, but you think of Newman's Own or Emeril's - there are tons and tons of personality-branded food products on the market. So we've taken that model and, using political satire, have highlighted his policies, his position changes."

Unfortunately, I've yet to see any summary of the "highlights" of Obama's position changes. Here's the box:

And Pam's House Blend has a pic of the top:

Jim Burroway has the must-read summary on this one:

The FRC claims they didn’t know that the packaging was offensive. It’s hard to imagine what world they live in where these images don’t conjure ugly racial stereotypes from the earliest part of the 20th century. The horribly racist images run rampant throughout the packaging, proving this FRC-sanctioned vendor to be an equal-opportunity offender.

I don't see that I have to add anything to this: we know that these people are about the lowest scum on the face of the earth, a bunch of cheap small-town politicians hiding behind Bibles. To advance the argument that they didn't realize it was offensive says volumes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Reviews in Brief

will be delayed this week -- my computer is making obnoxious noises and my brain just when into "hibernate" mode.



From NYT: it's not as bad as everyone feared. The problem is, even though it's only Category 2 (and do you believe I can sit here and type "only" in that sentence and not flinch?), it was huge when it hit the coast -- 600 miles across. And it looks as though the response is little better than it has been in the past, although Bush says the feds are ready to help. That's nice to know, isn't it?

I think this comment from Maha sort of says a lot, don't you>

Where is all the sincere Republican concern that was displayed over Gustav? Two weeks ago, as the Republican National Convention was about to begin, President Bush flew to Texas so he could be filmed strutting around in an emergency control center, pretending to be doing something.

We can be grateful that Ike was "only" Category 2, but it's a pity the Republican convention wasn't this week. In Corpus Christi.

And this explains the crappy weather we've been having in Chicago the past couple of days. That's Ike over Arkansas.

Compare and Contrast

Hilzoy has done some interesting comparisons of the legislative record for McCain and Obama in the last two Congresses, including sponsored legislation and cosponsored legislation. It's an interesting collection, but be warned: it's lists. Lists and lists. Obama seems to have been very active, McCain, not so much. What I'm finding interesting is not only the number of bills authored or co-sponsored, but the kinds of bills that each man focused on. I think it makes a good checklist for what you want as president.

It's also important because, no matter what their stated positions on issues, this is what they've worked for. I'd rather have a history than promises any day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday Gay Blogging, NSFW Edition

That happens to be, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful images I've ever made. It just clicks, formally, technically, and emotionally. What do you think?

Jeremy Hooper is covering the Values Voters Summit at Good As You, so I don't have to -- just click and keep on scrollin'. (They're always good for a laugh.)

Chris Crain on the Log Cabin Republicans' endorsement of McCain. It's an interesting article, and I think he mostly hits it on the head, but there's one thing that no one seems to be paying attention to. In his summation, Crain notes:

Instead, I'm afraid, the take-away message for GOP politicians and operatives is the one I took last week: opposing our equality doesn't really matter, even if like McCain the record is grossly out of touch with Republicans generally, so long as they say a few placating words.

In other words, we're at the same place with the Republicans as we are with the Democrats, with less substantive gains to show for it.

I think it's time (the elephant in the room I noted above) to start ignoring the national parties -- they're not responsive, aside from the few placating words, and we're not getting anywhere with them. (I could be wrong: Obama and a Democratic congress could actually produce, but we're not anywhere near the top of the list, and isn't it interesting that, when it comes to gay rights, our congressional leadership suddenly can only focus on one issue at a time? And it's not our issue?)

As we've seen time and time again, if we want to have any impact on either party, the place to work is local. Suddenly in New York, Republican assemblymen and senators are getting donations form gay donors. Why? Because of the marriage bill. In Chicago, we have an ear in City Hall. Why? Because in Chicago, gay votes and gay money represent an important constituency, localized in a couple of critical wards, and the mayor damned well knows it.

Puttting gays in office locally has a much bigger impact than anything that's going to happen nationally. Let's work with that.

Marriage note: My gut reaction is that all three anti-marriage amendments (California, Arizona, and Florida) are in trouble. I'm not saying that they're going to go down in flames, but it's no longer a slam-dunk for the rabid right. The recent decision by a Florida court that the gay adoption ban is unconstitutional could cut either way there -- the nutjobs will be in the streets howling about it, but it's the sort of thing that could work heavily in gays' favor, if someone with some tactical sense got behind the campaign. Oh, wait. . . . This is Florida we're talking about. And liberals. Never mind.

Dessert this week from Made in Brazil -- and boy can they make them down there! It's a limited engagement, so check it out:

Friday, September 12, 2008


Sorry, boys and girls, but no FGB today -- tomorrow, for sure. (Still a little unfocused and tired, but getting better fast.)

However, I thought you needed something to tide you over, and thanks to Scott Lemieux at LG&M, here's a choice bit from Camille Paglia, who managed to top herself again:

At her startling debut on that day, [Palin] was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.

One hardly knows what to say. Paglia's pretty much wrong throughout the article, mostly echoing the comfortably self-reflective observations of the villagers, but this quote seems to be the prize. (My favorite is when she says that McCain is "eating Obama's lunch" -- excuse me: he's coming off the convention with an unbelievably controversial VP pick, and has just managed to pull even in the polls. That's eating Obama's lunch? Talk to me next week, when people finally take a good look at Palin and discover there's no there there.)

I figured you could all use a good laugh today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Rather more than an "oops!" actually. Sorry for the silence over the past couple of days, but I've been in the hospital with pneumonia -- high drama, emergency call to 911 at 4am, handsome young paramedics to the rescue sort of thing.

My roommate was a charming Vietnamese gentleman who has slightly more English than I do Vietnamese -- he can say "hello."

At any rate, I'm back, if moving somewhat slowly.

Next time, remind me to take a book.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Reviews in Brief: Hyouta Fujiyama's Freefall Romance

Freefall Romance is a spin-off from Fujiyama's series Ordinary Crush, which I've discussed in some detail at Epinions. One of the protagonists is Youichi Nanase, older brother of Koichi, featured in Ordinary Crush. The other is Renji Tsutsumi, who works for the ad agency retained by Nanase's company, a beer manufacturer. The two work together on projects, in this case a new advertising campaign, and have become friends and drinking buddies. One night Nanase overdoes it, and Tsutsumi suddenly finds the man sleeping on his sofa strangely attractive: as it turns out, he's fallen in love. Although Nanase tries to discourage him, he doesn't really reject Tsutsumi's advances, even though Tsutsumi tells him point-blank that if he doesn't reject him outright, he, Tsutsumi, will continue to press his suit. The matter is complicated by the appearance of Ikuta, a former schoolmate of Nanase from their days at Kinsei High. (Kinsei is the unifying factor in Fujiyama's tales begun in Ordinary Crush -- it's a private boys' high school where 90% of the student body is gay or bi.) Ikuta quite early on declares that he has the hots for Tsutsumi, while Tsutsumi unashamedly responds that he has the hots for Nanase.

This is a fairly serious example of Fujiyama's BL manga -- the humor that she generally builds into her stories is not as prevalent as in other works. One subtle bit of humor does occur hear the end, when Youichi is leaving to spend the night with Tsutsumi and informs his brother that he won't be home that evening, making up a spur-of-the-moment excuse that a "friend" has gotten a DVD box set and they are going to watch the whole thing. Koichi merely responds, with a wicked little smile, that Youichi can introduce "them" when he is ready.

Unlike many yaoi, this one moves gradually through the courtship between the two, marked by Tsutsumi's determination and Nanase's acquiescence. It's only right at the end, as Nanase is on his way to their "DVD evening," that we see that he has not only accepted the relationship, but is looking forward to spending time with his lover -- and, indeed, that he is starting to admit to himself that Tsutsumi is his lover.

As seems to be the case with Fujiyama's work in general, I'm impressed by the adroit and believable characters, which are the driving force of the story, as well as her clear and economical graphics. A note: this is an excellent example of Fujiyama's ability to use her graphic work in characterization: she literally provides pictures of Tsutsumi's determination and Nanse's ambivalence in the way she has designed the characters.

One point: Youichi appears in Ordinary Crush, vol. 2, where his resistance to Koichi's relationship with Heiji provokes a major crisis, as well as illuminating Youichi's reaction to Tsutsumi's confession in this book. It's this kind of resonance from story to story, including most of the side stories, that makes reading the whole group (Ordinary Crush, Sunflower, and Freefall Romance) a definite plus.

Another one from Juné.

Dog Pile on Palin

Fine. She's earned it. I'm not going to join in, however: she bores me.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Opportunistic Infection

Just surfing through the news and the blogs this morning, and it's all about the Republicans and the lies and the hypocrisy and the flip-flopping and, and, and. . . .

Paul Campos at LG&M:

Imagine if Obama's 17-year-old daughter were pregnant. What do you think that would "prove?"

I am so sick of Sarah Palin. Let's face it -- the woman's a nonentity, just another crooked politician.

And I have work to do. I have got to do some writing today. Got to.

Friday, September 05, 2008


The headlines are screaming about how McCain is taking over the theme of "change" and promising a new Washington, while K-Lo manages to come up with this one (via Sullivan, your most reliable source for K-Lo's funnies):

"Does John McCain know he's leading a spiritual revival?" - Kathryn-Jean Lopez, National Review.

Oh, the irony!

Friday Gay Blogging

Denial seems to be the stance of the day among RSMs (for those of you who don't know, which should be just about everyone, since I just made it up, that stands for "Republicans who have Sex with Men"). Via Joe.My.God, this comment on Patrick Sammon's defense of John McCain:

Again Sammon stressed that McCain opposes a federal ban on gay marriage, but conveniently forgot to mention that McCain wants gay marriage overturned in California and supported a ban in his home state of Arizona. According to Sammon, the "rank and file of the Republican party is much more supportive of gay rights that one might suspect." Oh, Patrick.

And from Pam's House Blend, Pam Spaulding has this story, which is news indeed: the McCain campaign actually spoke to the Log Cabin Republicans. Funny thing though:

It's important to note, however, that Schmidt didn't discuss McCain's opposition to any pro-LGBT legislation, and his support for state marriage amendments, and carefully avoided the LCR's mission to advance equality. He indicated only that "over time" more equality for gays "will be reached."

And Palin's even worse.


This note from Andrew Sullivan has me scratching my head. Quoting James Kirchick:

Other gay sources within the GOP tell me they are very pleased not only with the McCain pick, but also, surprisingly, with the Palin one (I've been looking into her record on gay issues this past week and will have more to report later). All in all, they view McCain's ascension (and the rejection of Mitt Romney, whom the Log Cabin Republicans attempted to torpedo in the primary) as a move in the right direction for the GOP,

Now, I've had my differences with Kirchick, but this one -- well, thinking about it, it's more of the same. I suppose, in the big picture, not using us for target practice at the convention is a sign of something, but I'm not sure what it is, particularly with the selection of Palin as a sop to the Dobson Gang. Sullivan's comment:

McCain's speech was the first Republican address in a long while that didn't mention same-sex marriage. What he didn't say was in some ways as significant as what he did. And the gulf between the "church revival feel" of the convention and McCain's reticence on gay issues reveals just how out of step with reality the party machinery has become.

"Reticence on gay issues"? He hasn't been reticent at all: he opposes anything and everything that might help us. (Sorry, but opposition to an FMA is nothing -- that's so totally a dead horse than only Dobson still has any affection for it. Opposing it costs McCain nothing, because it's never going to happen anyway.) As for making it a keynote of the campaign, that would, at this point, be a strong negative.

I think it's a case of looking for silver linings while dodging lightning.

Spaulding has one comment that stands out, and is the best counter I've seen to the "it doesn't define me" mantra:

The "it doesn't define me" nonsense. I'm not sure WTF this means -- the wallet is more important than civil rights? The right to privacy and illegal search and seizure (oops, the Bush admin's assailed that for you), the War on Terror? For those of us committed to elected people who will advance rights -- and understand the importance of putting someone in the White House who will appoint pro-equality justices to the Supreme Court, it's not being LGBT that defines us, but that many of our civil rights and liberties are under attack as a result of the GOP being in power for so long.

This touches on the fundamental disagreement I have with gay "conservatives" (the quotes merely denote the fact that they support the Republican party, no matter what that party espouses -- I consider myself more conservative in the classic sense than any of them that I've heard comments from). No, "gay" does not define me. No single aspect of my personality "defines" me. That's a stupid, simplistic dodge. Identity is something that grows and changes as we grow and change, and so the relative importance of various aspects of who I am take prominence depending on where I am in my life. If someone is worried about being defined as gay, I have to wonder how strong an identity he has to begin with. I'm simply "me" -- gay is part of it, as are "artist," "writer," "eternally curious," "good-natured" (usually), "temperamental," "competent," and any number of other characteristics.

Spaulding is right -- she's probably not sure what that mantra means because it means nothing.

Just to give you a good sense of how deep in denial LCR is, read this statement:

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin can help Sen. McCain win this election by appealing to independent and young voters. She's a mainstream Republican who will unite the Party and serve John McCain well as Vice President. Gov. Palin is an inclusive Republican who will help Sen. McCain appeal to gay and lesbian voters.

Sadly, from the look of things, Palin is indeed a "mainstream" Republican. That does not put her in the mainstream of America. That's what the party has become. But "inclusive"? Excuse me? Check out what Jeremy Hooper has to say on Palin's record of inclusiveness.

I'm cutting today's FGB a little short -- even the gay blogs and press can't seem to talk about anything but McCain/Palin, and I am so over that. And I have to turn out some writing projects. Maybe later, if I run across something interesting.

Dessert today courtesy of Queerty -- and man! is it sweet!

"Cultural Critic" Meets "Gov. Lipstick"

Y'know, it seems to me that every time Camille Paglia opens her mouth, it's only to shove her foot farther in. From Joe.My.God:

"We may be seeing the first woman president. As a Democrat, I am reeling. That was the best political speech I have ever seen delivered by an American woman politician. Palin is as tough as nails.” - Camille Paglia, responding to Sarah Palin's first speech after she was introduced by John McCain in Dayton, Ohio.

She really doesn't get it, does she?

Joe has this titled "Homoquotable," but I'm not putting it in FGB: it has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with David Broder.

The "Gov. Lipstick" comes from RadicalRuss at Pam's House Blend. I like it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

New Schedule

My life has been rearranged, which should ultimately lead to more writing/blogging time, but right now things are sort of up in the air. Given that, and the fact that the news is dominated by Sarah Palin and the Republican non-convention, both of which are stories I just don't feel like commenting on very much, expect light posting, except for regular departments. I also have a couple of writing assignments that have to be dealt with pronto, and I do need to get myself organized.

I'll be back.


Again. It seems that one result of the announcement of Sarah Palin as McCain/Dobson's pick for Republican VP candidate is that Obama's acceptance speech got blown completely off the radar. I suspect that was part of the reason, although perhaps from this perspective the smallest part, but it worked better than anyone had any right to expect.

About the whole pregnant/unwed daughter-children should be out of the spotlight mantra: in spite of what you may hear from the knee-jerk right-wingers, most of the left-wing blogs I read have refused to comment on the story, except to agree that it should not be part of the mix. So has the Obama campaign. However, I ran across this interesting little tidbit this morning, via John Aravosis:

The Republican message about the Palin offspring comes across as contradictory: Hey, media, leave those kids alone — so we can use them as we see fit.

If you doubt this scenario, consider this: On Wednesday morning, a teenage boy from Alaska stood in a receiving line on an airport tarmac, being glad-handed by the potential next president of the United States — because he got his girlfriend pregnant. TV cameras were lined up in advance. The mind boggles.

"Either the children are out of bounds, and you don't put them in the photo ops, or you don't complain when somebody wants to talk about them. You can't have it both ways," said John Matviko, a professor at West Liberty State College in West Virginia and editor of "The American President in Popular Culture."

"Right now, it looks like they're being used by the campaign more than the media are using them," he said....

Aravosis notes one key fact: "AP fails to mention why we all started talked about Palin's daughter's pregnancy. Because John McCain leaked it to Reuters." Unfortunately, he doesn't provide a link or any other back-up, but he's generally pretty reliable, if somewhat shrill. However, given that little bit of information, the AP story makes a lot more sense.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Looking at the news, and it's all non-stories, except for Gustav, and most of the reporting on that is how the Repubicans are positioning themselves to take political advantage of it, mostly by saying that Gustav proves you should vote for McCain. (I know, it doesn't make any sense to me either, as though McCain is going to take over FEMA and run the recovery personally, but it's an election year.)

Palin: raises the "experience" mantra again, which has been one of the major nonsequiturs for this season. It's not experience, it's judgment. So far, Obama has the edge.

Palin also managed to knock Obama's acceptance speech out of the ring, which is the entire reason for the timing of McCain's announcement, and probably more than half the reason for the selection. The other half would be the fringe Christianists, who love her and don't love McCain.

Funny of the day: someone in one of my discussion groups actually posted that "McCain has run a brilliant campaign and Obama hasn't." Seriously. The only way to respond to something like that is with loud guffaws.

And I've pretty much decided that today has to be an eyes free day, as much as possible. Tired. Really, really tired, which means I've been sitting around reading and writing too much.

May be light posting tomorrow and Wednesday -- starting new schedule, which means I have to be out the door before 7 am.