"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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bon Mot du Jour

Joe's on a roll -- or has been. I'm catching up.

Oh, brother!

From Joe.My.God. Paul Angelos, a "gay matchmaker" who obviously doesn't know anything about gay men:

"If you were to put all gay men together in a big warehouse and place the 'bottoms' on the left and the 'tops' on the right, you'd start seeing negative consequences of the anal sex play out in real life for the bottoms such as: disrespect for their general health, failure at work, failure in love and relationships. I am not saying that every gay man should stop anal intercourse today. What I recommend is that gay men re-think the 'Gay-Lifestyle' strategy and stop for one second to question the validity of all that is gay."

This is wrong on so many levels I don't know where to start. Obviously the man has never heard of "bossy bottoms" -- someone in the comments came up with the term "power bottom" -- and doesn't seem to have encountered one in person. (And let's not get into the breathtaking misogyny here.) And the assumption that a man must be either a "bottom" or a "top" is -- well, there's this whole thing known as an "egalitarian relationship," which, given history and social expectations, is much more likely between two men than between a man and a woman. (And thinking back, most of the men I've known in my life have classed themselves as "versatile.") The last sentence -- well, I can't make any sense out of it -- it just keeps coming out as gibberish. What is a "'Gay-Lifestyle' strategy"? And the "validity of all that is gay"? Hah?

There are potentially some fascinating facets of human, particularly male psychology involved in one's choice of roles during intercourse, but it appears that the possibilities here have escaped Angelo. They have nothing to do with stereotypical sex roles, and a great deal to do with relationships -- the protectiveness of holding someone you're fucking, the reassurance of being held, the sense of welcoming your partner into your body, the closeness, the sharing, the feeling that you are as close as anyone can be to becoming one person -- and, from my own experience at least, it doesn't really matter who's on top. This assumes, of course, that you care about your partner. (If you don't, why bother?) (The idea that when it comes right down to it we are all more or less androgynous keeps tickling the back of my mind, but I can't quite pin it down.)

(There are, as of this morning, 238 comments on Joe's post, none of them sympathetic -- except the one he left himself.)

The Libertarian Fantasyland

Via Joe.My.God., this quote from Ron Paul:

"Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity. Why don’t they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable."

Oh, yeah, just quit your job -- and do what to put food on the table? (And do note that the "blame the victim" mantra is in full bore here. According to Paul, you bear the responsibility if someone else decides to do you dirt.)

Granted, this is from 1987, but does anyone think that Paul has really changed his attitudes?

This is why I think so-called libertarians are a joke. It all sounds very good, in a teenage superhero sort of way, but when it runs into reality, it crumbles.

Somehow, I really doubt that human beings form societies so that the greediest and most dishonest can screw everyone else.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Is Just Too Good

The GOP campaigns for the Iowa caucuses (you know, that's the one where the fringiest loons in Iowa turn out to pick a winner who can't possibly get the nomination because he/she is certifiable) just get better. Michele Bachmann's Iowa co-chair endorsed Ron Paul. That's funny enough, but this bit is priceless:

Sorenson, in fact, appeared at a Bachmann event just this afternoon — a stop at the Pizza Ranch in his hometown of Indianola.

Sorenson said little at the event, but appeared with Bachmann and clearly offered indications of support for her candidacy.

Fellow Bachmann campaign co-chairman Brad Zaun told reporters Sorenson had just returned from the dentist, and Sorenson himself said he was saying little because he was still numb and afraid he would drool on himself.

That sort of says it all.

A New Word

I created it this morning, and it's sort of a reflection on my post of a couple of days ago featuring the Helsinki Complaints Choir.

It denotes those natives I run into in the city whose behavior irritates me, and also a large part of the legislature:

Illinoisances

Austerity: A Brief History

Interesting post by Richard RJ Eskow at Crooks and Liars on austerity economics and its sad history.

One of those deaths should have completely altered the political debate in Washington. The name of the deceased was "Austerity Economics," and it was first glimpsed in a 1921 paper by conservative economist Frank Wright. Austerity died of natural causes brought on by prolonged exposure to reality.

But the debate in Washington didn't change nearly enough after its passing. In the nation's capital, dead things still rule the night.

Worth a read.

Even someone as economically illiterate as I am understands that if your economy hits a downturn and unemployment starts skyrocketing, the last thing you want to do is take money out of it and eliminate more jobs.

Now go ask your favorite Republican or Republican-lite how to fix the economy.

If you want a take on why the debate in Washington hasn't changed, read this post by Nicole Bell.

Thus, we're looking at a congress that are less our elected representatives and more representative of the one percent. This is why cutting social safety programs make sense...they can't imagine anyone like them actually needing them.

'Nuff said?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Compare and Contrast

By way of background, for those who may not know the particulars, because of last year's record attendance (850,000) and attendance expected to be in the range of 1 million this year, the City of Chicago asked the organizers of the Chicago Pride Parade to change the route and starting time. The new route passes Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church on Belmont Avenue, and the new starting time was 10 a.m.

Cardinal Francis George, who among his other accomplishments reportedly personally lobbied legislators against passage of Illinois' gay-inclusive civil rights bill (not to mention the civil unions bill) -- got his knickers in a twist and came out with this bit of extravagant hyperbole:

"I go with the pastor," George told Fox. "He's telling us that he won't be able to have services on Sunday if that's the case. You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Klu Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism."

He backpedaled just a wee bit, but now is doubling down:

When the pastor's request for reconsideration of the plans was ignored, the organizers invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church. One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940's, paraded through American cities not only to interfere with Catholic worship but also to demonstrate that Catholics stand outside of the American consensus. It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate.

First off, he's lying: the request was not ignored. The parade planners and the city sat down with the pastor and worked out a compromise -- the route still passes the church, but the starting time has been moved back to noon so as not to interfere with morning services. The city had a legitimate concern about the route: it doubled back on itself, and the switchback at Halsted and Broadway was tricky at the best of times. And in the somewhat bizarre world-view of Cardinal George, a change in the route and timing of the parade mandated by the city is now an attempt by the GLBT community to abridge the religious freedom of Catholics -- just like the KKK. While Catholics are not outside the American consensus, it starts to look more and more as though the hierarchy is.

On the other hand: from the church in question:

The annual Pride Parade is one of the hallmarks that make Lakeview unique and we in no way wish to diminish its place in the community. The petition simply asks the City and the Chicago Pride Parade planners to consider our concern that the impact of the new route and time would have on the ability of people to participate at Sunday morning Masses.

Attempts to provide other access to our church will in no way enable our parishioners to navigate the anticipated crowds or to be able to celebrate Mass in the reflective, contemplative atmosphere that is so important to us.

Parishioners, the residents of our diverse community, the many visitors who will enjoy our neighborhood that weekend, all want to have a safe, peaceful and enjoyable Pride Sunday.

As I noted above, the three parties sat down and quite amicably reached a compromise -- with nary a hood or white sheet to be seen.

Did Nixon Have a Gay Affair?

Does anyone care?

You Really Have to Wonder

Those right-wingers sure do love their cross-hairs, don't they? Jeremy Hooper seems to have broken this one.


Sort of gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "shotgun wedding."

My Favorite 2011 Holiday Picture

Given some of the remarks I made in my Christmas Day post, is it any wonder I find this one irresistible?


Via David Drumm at Jonathan Turley.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Some Stray Thoughts for Today




First off, whatever holiday you are observing now, blessed be. That comes from my own tradition, and although the official day was Tuesday night/Wednesday, one can still legitimately observe Yule today. Here it's sunny, with a forecast for highs in the 40s. On Christmas Day. In Chicago. There's something very wrong with that.

I have no problem with "Merry Christmas" as a greeting -- I have no objections to observing the holiday at all, considering that most of the trappings (including the date) were co-opted from various Pagan traditions -- trees, wreaths, lights/candles, caroling are all part of Pagan celebrations of the Solstice. And it is, after all, the same holiday -- the (Re)Birth of the Sun/Son.

Christmas has a weird history in the New World. Celebration of the holiday was banned by the Puritans -- but then, actually celebrating almost anything was banned by the Puritans -- but in the rest of the country it got more and more extravagant.

It's now considered a secular holiday in honor of the god that most Americans really worship, Mammon. That's when retailers make their rent for the year. (It's actually always been a fairly materialistic holiday, what with the gift-giving and all. It's the time of year when the avarice of small children knows no bounds.)

The War on Christmas, declared by Bill O'Reilly, I believe it was, a few years ago, has become an industry in itself. It's sort of symptomatic of the paranoid egomania that has become the public face of Christianity. Sad, actually -- the real Christians I know aren't worried about it. It's really the province of those who use the Bible as a club.

Speaking of which, I've noticed that some people have a way of saying "I'm Christian" that assumes that tells you all you need to know about them. All too often, they're right, and not in a positive way. There's a certain air of superiority, self-satisfaction coupled with defensiveness in the way they say it that is all too revealing. I work with a woman who is a practicing Christian and is obviously very comfortable with her faith -- when describing one of life's squeakers to me, she simply said, "I'm faithful, and let me tell you, I was praying." I like that -- it makes no assumptions about what I'm thinking. That's the attitude of most Christians I know personally -- just very matter-of-fact, no big deal. I think that's the way it should be.

(These last thoughts were sparked by this story, via Towleroad. The name of the school should have been a dead giveaway that something like this would come down the pipeline. Not a lot of Jesus there. My feeling is, if you've got a stingy soul, you shouldn't broadcast it like that.)

But enough of that. It's the time of year, I think, when everyone (mostly) is at their best. As for me, I'm going to treat myself to biscuits and gravy for breakfast, call my family, and then see what the day has to offer.

And once again, Blessed Be.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Compare and Contrast

I've seen this story a couple of places this morning, but Little Green Footballs has the best presentation.

Especially the photos.

What Goes Around. . . .

This story made my week:
The gay and lesbian community of Minnesota has issued a letter of apology to recently resigned Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch for ruining the institution of marriage and causing her to stray from her husband and engage in an "inappropriate relationship."

"On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community's successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage," reads the letter from John Medeiros. "We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry."

You may or may not know what Koch was one of the prime movers behind Minnesota's anti-marriage amendment, scheduled for a vote this spring.

I love it that they're rubbing her face in it. It should happen more often.

An interesting sidebar to that is this comment by John Aravosis:

For weeks now - really since that GOP debate in September when they all got asked about DADT by a gay US soldier in Iraq - the Republican candidats have been confronted, time and again, by gay people, young and old. It's been amazing to watch. And it's something that I don't think has ever happened to this degree.

It hasn't happened to this degree -- it's barely happened at all. My own feeling is that the days of HRC and GLAAD are nearly over, now that we've seen what results their insider method of advocacy has brought. That was the mindset that lost on Prop 8. Look for more in-your-face activism going forward.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today's Must Read

This article on teaching gender-variance.

It's intelligent, thoughtful, and creative.

Tony Perkins is gonna hate it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stray Thought for the Day

I just ran across this little tidbit again in a story about Bob VanderPlaats, Iowa's own homegrown professional gay basher, endorsing Rick Santorum, noting that Santorum has failed to gain any traction in the polls.

Santorum is also the only GOP presidential candidate to campaign in all 99 of Iowa’s counties and has participated in over 350 town halls.

Maybe that's his problem.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Some Clarity on Indefinite Detention

Not having read the Defense Authorization Bill myself, I'm having to rely on sources. It seems NYT, which I quoted yesterday, didn't really read it either. Adam Serwer brings some much needed clarity to the subject:

A last minute compromise amendment adopted in the Senate, whose language was retained in the final bill, leaves it up to the courts to decide if the president has that power, should a future president try to exercise it. But if a future president does try to assert the authority to detain an American citizen without charge or trial, it won't be based on the authority in this bill.

So it's simply not true, as the Guardian wrote yesterday, that the the bill "allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay." When the New York Times editorial page writes that the bill would "strip the F.B.I., federal prosecutors and federal courts of all or most of their power to arrest and prosecute terrorists and hand it off to the military," or that the "legislation could also give future presidents the authority to throw American citizens into prison for life without charges or a trial," they're simply wrong.

The language in the bill that relates to the detention authority as far as US citizens and permanent residents are concerned is, "Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States."

This does not mean that provision is perfect, or even desirable. As Serwer notes:

Though detention of non-citizen Al Qaeda suspects captured in the US is now mandatory in name only, because of procedural loopholes that allow the president to avoid placing such a suspect in military custody, the bill nevertheless writes into law an assumed role for the military in domestic counterterrorism that did not exist before. This is not a power this president is likely to use, because neither he nor his top national security officials seem to think they even need it. A future US president, even one more enamored of executive power, might still not use it for similar reasons: Because his non-political advisers tell him it's a bad idea.

I'm not so confident as Serwer that the president -- Obama or any future president -- is not likely to use: if the power exists, it will be used. And if the possibility for abuse exists, it will be abused.

Friday, December 16, 2011

In Related Newsn (Update, Update II)

Is anyone really surprised at this?

President Obama came into office pledging his dedication to the rule of law and to reversing the Bush-era policies. He has fallen far short.

Mr. Obama refused to entertain any investigation of the abuses of power under his predecessor, and he has been far too willing to adopt Mr. Bush’s extravagant claims of national secrets to prevent any courthouse accountability for those abuses. This week, he is poised to sign into law terrible new measures that will make indefinite detention and military trials a permanent part of American law.

The measures, contained in the annual military budget bill, will strip the F.B.I., federal prosecutors and federal courts of all or most of their power to arrest and prosecute terrorists and hand it off to the military, which has made clear that it doesn’t want the job. The legislation could also give future presidents the authority to throw American citizens into prison for life without charges or a trial.

Welcome to post-Constitution America.

Update:

From Andrew Rosenthal, some comments on the president's about face on signing the bill. This is priceless:

The White House statement says that if the process of putting the law into force “will negatively impact our counter-terrorism professionals and undercut our commitment to the rule of law, we expect that the authors of these provisions will work quickly and tirelessly to correct these problems.”

Yeah, right, just like they worked tirelessly to draft the original bill. This is Obama bailing on taking any responsibility for signing a bill he's decided to sign.

Update II:

Just to demonstrate how schizophrenic this administration is, get this, from an NYT article on Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

“The absence of clear policies and procedures to ensure effective and constitutional policing,” the report said, “along with the deviations from widely accepted policing and correctional practices, and the failure to implement meaningful oversight and accountability structures, have contributed to a chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations.”

Umm -- Pot, meet Kettle.

Words Fail Me

Actually they don't, but I try to keep this blog family-friendly. So kids, cover your eyes: The Mayor is a lying prick.

That's my mayor, as in Rahm of Chicago. At least now we know where the Obama administration's disdain for Constitutional freedoms comes from:

Emanuel also wants aldermen to double the maximum fine to $1,000 for protesters charged with resisting or obstructing a police officer, as well as those helping arrested protesters to escape custody. The minimum fine would soar to $200, which would be a $175 increase.

Emanuel also wants to prevent people from entering public parks and beaches before 6 a.m., two hours later than now allowed. They would continue to close at 11 p.m.

And loud noise, amplified sound and music at parades, athletic events and public assemblies would be allowed only between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Rules on the use of sidewalks and streets also would be tightened.

The administration did not detail how the changes would affect protesters, saying only it would bring Chicago more in line with restrictions in other cities and make ordinances easier to enforce.

"We are taking steps to ensure we have safe, secure and peaceful protests," police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a statement.

This is in relation to the NATO/G8 meetings next spring. And in case you haven't noticed, "resisting or obstructing a police officer" means whatever the police officer decides it does.

Mayoral aides pointed to the city's handling of the recent Occupy Chicago protests in Grant Park as evidence of the administration's ability to walk that fine line. Although the Occupy movement caused sometimes rough clashes between police and protesters in other cities, larger-than-typical mass arrests in Chicago have gone off peacefully.

Leaving aside the distinct possibility that police actions in other cities may very well have been calculated to generate a violent response -- and note how to the Tribune, it's the Occupy movement that caused the rough clashes -- the irony of that last sentence is almost palpable. Let's hear it for our corporate media, who don't even seem to twitch when they come out with a howler like "larger-than-typical mass arrests" indicating that the administration can walk the fine line between guaranteeing people's rights and enforcing the law.

There are days I just want to scream.

Quote du jour

"The trouble with capitalism is capitalists; they're too damn greedy."

From none other than Herbert Hoover.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Remember Christine O'Donnell?

The not-Witch who ran for the Senate somewhere or other a couple of years ago? She's still around. This is why she endorsed Mittens:

"That's one of the things that I like about him -- because he's been consistent since he changed his mind."

Via various sources.

Irony du jour


Happy War on Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Review in Brief: Shoko Hidaka's Geliebter Freund

This is not really a review -- Geliebter Freund is just my latest translation project, a typical school-boy romance, childhood friends reunited variety. It seems to bear out my reaction to my only previous experience with Hidaka -- her stories are low-key and fairly uneventful, with a lot of psychological introspection. I'm having trouble getting into this one, but I'm not sure if it's the story or the circumstances -- I was doing these as fill-in for slow periods at work, and the powers that be decided I wasn't busy enough, so progress has been kind of patchy. I think, though, that the story itself doesn't have that much grab-power -- it's been kind of hard to get into.

One thing that attracted me to this one is that I like Hidaka's drawing style. It's a nice, clean, open style that I find appealing. One thing I noticed is that she is of those mangaka who renders faces in a sort of non-racial manner -- her characters could be Asian or Western. The reason this comes to mind is that I ran across a post at another blog way back when that asked the question "Do Japanese see manga characters as Japanese?" The question left me sort of wondering "WTF?" and as I remember the essay, it made a big deal out of the way characters in manga are designed. (I'm talking about those manga that fall within what I call a "comic realism" or bishounen style, as opposed to those that tend toward chibi renderings or highly abstracted character designs -- most BL manga as opposed to something like Sgt. Frog. Since that time my experience with manga and anime has expanded just a bit, and looking at that question now, it's pretty much moot -- even within one manga or anime, you can find characters who fit comfortably into either an Asian or European "type," if you care to classify them that way. I don't. (Just watching Samurai 7 -- again -- and noticed that there are a number of characters who come close to being caricatures of the Western conception of "Asian" -- of course, there are a number of characters who are caricatures anyway.) Frankly, it's a question that would never occur to me, since it completely avoids the reality of the thing, and takes no account of the history of manga and the influences on it.

By way of a footnote, I was fairly recently directed to an essay entitled "The Invisible Knapsack" as a means of educating me in the error of my attitudes about race. (Which, as it happens, are pretty much nonexistent -- I was raised to view people as people, not as stereotypes. It stuck.) Unfortunately, while a brilliant example of liberal guilt, the writer's experiences did not match my own in any way. Nor did her assumptions. Sadly, the person who directed me did not want to hear anything about the reality of differences in human experiences -- apparently, if I'm white, I must fit into a certain set of parameters that describe my life experience and my attitudes in a way that she finds acceptable. Thus, my last run-in with the PC left. I removed that blog from my bookmarks. They have nothing to offer me.

(And before anyone lands on me, I'm fully aware of the institutionalized racism in this country, hate the idea of it, and won't tolerate it in any realm where I have the power to do anything. That's not what this is about. This is about dealing with people as people.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

If You Live In an Echo Chamber. . .

you get tinnitus of the brain. This exchange between Tony Perkins (a/k/a Satan Incarnate) and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Fantasyland)(well, actually she's from Missouri, as if that's a big surprise) is in response to the creation of a Pagan worship space at the Air Force Academy:
Perkins: Do you see this as a part of a growing trend that we see that there is really kind of a marginalization of Christianity and almost a promotion of other forms of, I would have to say, fringe religions?

Hartzler: I agree, I think so. Christianity is the main religion in our country and as a policy for the Department of Defense we need to defend the practice of religion but we do not have to obligate taxpayer funds to facilitate or accommodate it or pay for it.

Perkins: Is it the government’s role to try to put all religions on the same plane?

Hartzler: No, it’s not their role at all. Their role is to facilitate basic policy for our country and to not to try to lift up one religion over the other, they should be defending the basic rights that we have, that freedom of religion here, and certainly not facilitating or accommodating fringe religions, it’s crazy.

You know the real punch-line? Hartzler quite obviously just doesn't get it. (I'm sure Perkins gets it, but he's such a cynical con artist you'd never get him to admit it.)

Speaking of people not getting it, more in the same vein from none other than Michele Bachmann (another non-suprise):
JANE SCHMIDT: One of my main concerns is government support for the LGBT community. So my question is what would you do to protect GSAs in high school and support the LGBT community.

BACHMANN: Well, No. 1, all of us as Americans have the same rights. The same civil rights. And so that’s really what government’s role is, to protect our civil rights. There shouldn’t be any special rights or special set of criteria based upon people’s preferences. We all have the same civil rights.

JANE SCHMIDT: Then, why can’t same-sex couples get married?

BACHMANN: They can get married, but they abide by the same law as everyone else. They can marry a man if they’re a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they’re a man.

JANE SCHMIDT: Why can’t a man marry a man?

BACHMANN: Because that’s not the law of the land.

JANE SCHMIDT: So heterosexual couples have a privilege.

BACHMANN: No, they have the same opportunity under the law. There is no right to same-sex marriage.

JANE SCHMIDT: So you won’t support the LGBT community?

BACHMANN: No, I said that there are no special rights for people based upon your sex practices. There’s no special rights based upon what you do in your sex life. You’re an American citizen first and foremost and that’s it.

ELLA NEWELL, a junior at Waverly High School: Wouldn’t heterosexual couples, if they were given a privilege then, that gay couples aren’t, like given that privilege to get married, but heterosexual couples are given a privilege to get married?

BACHMANN: Remember every American citizen has the right to avail themselves to marriage but they have to follow what the laws are. And the laws are you marry a person of the opposite sex.

Note that this conversation took place in Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Wow!

Sec. Hillary Clinton's speech on Human Rights Day.


It's a tremendous speech. I had no intention of watching the whole thing, but I couldn't stop.

And there's always the added benefit of hearing the heads exploding as the professional gay bashers see it. (Not that I expect most of them to actually watch the thing -- they'll just feed off each other's comments.) Not only is it a strong statement of support for GLBTs, but it's Hillary Clinton. And it's coming directly from that foreigner in the White House.

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Child Labor Laws!

David Atkins over at Hullabaloo has come up with a phrase I really like a lot: "asshole objectivism." That pretty much describes all the Randians I've seen in print. That was in this post, about Donald Trump taking Newtie's idea to put poor kids to work as janitors. From First Read:
Trump explained: "He did mention if I could do something for some of the kids in very, very poor schools throughout the city. I thought it was a great idea. We call it an apprenticeship, and I think we all know about "The Apprentice." We're going to be picking 10, young, wonderful children, and we're going to make them 'apprenti.' We're going to have a little fun with it, and I think it's going to be something that is really going to prove results. But it was Newt's idea, and I think it's a great idea."

That's the answer: exploit the little bastards.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Today's Must Read

This post, from a gay Marine, about DADT repeal and attending the Marine Corps Birthday Ball with a date for the first time.

It's long, but read all four parts. With people like this man defending us, I feel better.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Stenography 101

From WaPo. You can read the whole thing -- there's no substance to it, so it won't take long. Or you can read the headline, which pretty much tells the story.
Newt Gingrich as president could turn the White House into an ideas factory

Strangely enough, the only people they talked to about Newt's "ideas" were from conservative think tanks. How do you suppose that happened?

It's now become "he said, she said" reporting without the "she said."

Oh, and speaking of contemptible people, here's a great post at Balloon Juice on the arbiter of all that's holy in fiscal conservatism.
Sacrifice is needed, but it must come from the poor and the middle-class.

Congressional Republicans have come up with a plan for a ritual sacrifice of workers that is crafted to appease The Grover. Instead of asking any of the Nation’s 300,000 millionaire to pay their share, they will ask all Federal Employees to pay for the extension of the tax holiday and unemployment benefit through payroll freezes and the elimination of 200,000 workers from the work force.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

OK, This Is Totally Cool


Here's his website.

Here's another video:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sometimes It Works (Updated)

A heartening story from AP:
A federal judge in New York has struck down a $285 million settlement that Citigroup reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission, citing a need for truth about the financial markets.

My guess is that Citigroup will appeal the decision, and when it gets to the Supremes, they will find that corporations have as much right to secrecy as, for example, the President.

Update:

Just ran across this story, which fits right in with the meme:
Since the lifting two months ago of a longstanding U.S. ban on gays serving openly in the military, U.S. Marines across the globe have adapted smoothly and embraced the change, says their top officer, Gen. James F. Amos, who previously had argued against repealing the ban during wartime.

You'll remember that Amos was the most outspoken of the service chiefs in his opposition to repeal. But the Marines are the Marines: as he said then, if it's the law, they will follow it. They are, and not the least bit grudgingly -- you'll remember that they were the only branch of service to send recruiters to San Diego Pride, although all were invited.

And add on to that this little bit from Good As You. In this case, a picture is worth a thousand words:

The World Has Gone Crazy

Just a few tidbits from this morning:

From Huffington Post, this choice bit of news:
As cities around the country have swept Occupy Wall Street camps from their plazas and parks in recent weeks, a number of mayors and city officials have argued that by providing shelter to the homeless, the camps are endangering the public and even the homeless themselves.

Yet in many of those cities, services for the homeless are severely underfunded. The cities have spent millions of dollars to police and evict the protesters, but they've been shutting down shelters and enacting laws to prohibit homeless from sleeping overnight in public.

Priorities. They has 'em.

If you think this is not part of a pattern, take a look at this, from the ACLU:
The Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.

***

The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world.

***

The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself. The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday.

***

I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn’t anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?

"Why now?" Can you say "Occupy Wall Street?"

I want to highlight this part:
In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that the bill will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial “American citizen or not.” Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.”

Get it? We are the enemy. Fortunately, the ACLU has provided a handy form for you to fill out that will be sent to your senators, right here. Of course, if your senators are like mine, they're working for Wall Street anyway, but you can always try -- realizing, of course, that by exercising your right to "petition the government for redress of grievances" (First Amendment), you're automatically classified as a "terrorist."

Speaking of who's working for Wall Street, check out this story from Bloomberg:
The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.

I almost forgot to include Digby's observation on this story:
The good news is that the government refused to compound the problems by helping out average Americans with their foreclosures, thus avoiding moral hazard.

On a lighter note, and just to give you an idea of what we're dealing with among our elected officials, is this nice little bit from Raw Story:

Brownback plans to push for repeal a number of laws he considers unreasonable or burdensome, but whether the sodomy law will be included on his repeal agenda is unknown. The socially conservative governor previously blamed same sex relationships for children being born out of wedlock.

For Brownback's rationale for that ludicrous statement, see this bit from the WaPo Fact Checker. (Yes, WaPo does fact-checking -- on everyone else.) For the love of Pete, he was relying on Stanley Kurtz, who had been debunked by just about everyone.

That's about all I can stomach this morning. It's broken, isn't it?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Video du jour

Ran across this one on LGBT/Think Progress. It's an ad from Get Up! Action for Australia:


I got all sniffly.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

This is exciting

This post from Pressthink strikes me as right on top what a lot of other commentators are missing: OWS is the first American protest of the Internet age.

I’ve been glued to media coverage of #Occupy, and I saw something this week that I thought you’d be interested in.

Tim Pool.

Something very special is happening here.

Basically he’s a protester-turned-reporter with a cell phone who is doing some very uniquely awesome things with his streaming ustream coverage. He’s been doing 20-hour live reporting marathons, but what’s extremely powerful is the feedback loop that he has with his viewers (numbering in the 15k+ live, 100k+ daily).

There’s a unique symbiosis happening. Being a livestream he acts as “eyes and ears” for the viewers. Literally. People will tell him to move the camera somewhere and he’ll do it. They’ll ask for interviews with someone, and Tim will go over and do so (taking extensive feedback, questions, and commentary from the channel viewers). The viewers will ask him questions and he won’t rest until he gets them their answers. There is no delay or time to press. It’s instant. And it’s awesome.

It's interesting to note that the first ones to grab on to the political possibilities of social media and cell phones were the Egyptians. Of course, the repression they were facing was much more overt than what we're subjected to by the 1% and their almost-wholly-owned subsidiaries, the American press and the American government.

Speaking of the corporate press, read this exchange from WaPo's chat as reported by Digby. (I can't follow the link, thanks to Google.)

Q. (IM)MORAL EQUIVALENCE

Paul, I'm guessing you won't be sympathetic to the following point, but I'll put it out there anyway. Most reporting on the supercommittee--like most reporting on the deficit--reflects an acceptance of a basic fallacy. Whenever there is an impasse, there seems to be a desire to blame both sides equally, on the theory that if only Democrats would concede more, Republicans would reciprocate (all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding). Yes, Democrats have drawn lines in the sand, but as Greg Sargent and other commentators have documented, when you compare the specifics, there is no factual basis for blaming both parties equally. So my question is, why does the Post's coverage do so anyway, either explicitly or implicitly?
– November 21, 2011 11:48 AM

A. PAUL KANE:

Yeah, you're right. I think this point is just absurd and ridiculous. This is a big thing among folks calling it "moral equivalence" (Fallows, Ornstein) and others calling it the "cult of balance" (Krugman).

It's just stupid. If you want someone to tell you that Republicans stink, read opinion pages. Read blogs. Also, the underlying sentiment on the left is that this is the real reason why things went wrong in 2010: That the mainstream media is to blame. Sorry, I think that's the sorta head-in-sand outlook that leads to longer term problems for a movement.

Greg is a fine writer. He's an opinion writer, in the opinion section of the web site. I encourage you to keep reading him. And I encourage you to keep reading the news coverage, which should always strive to present both sides of the story. If you really don't want to hear anything about the other side of the story, I really do encourage you to stop reading the news section.

– November 21, 2011 11:58 AM

Kane misses the point, to put it mildly. And he obviously has no idea what journalism is. Makes you sort of wonder who's paying him.

Tim Pool is an example of what we need to do, I think -- take reporting out of the hands of news organizations.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Think We Have an Answer

I titled Saturday's post "Who Owns the Police?"


Any questions?

No questions, but here are some further answers, via Digby:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Check out Digby's post -- she links to the full text of the memo and MSNBC's story.
Via Box Turtle Bulletin, this story from AP on Capt. Steven Hill, the soldier who asked Rick Santorum about reinstating DADT and got boos from some of the audience for his audacity.

Santorum's response is typical of the man, and shows starkly why he's not fit to be commander in chief or anything that remotely resembles president of the United States:
Santorum replied that he would reinstitute the ban on open service by gay troops because "any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military."

"What we are doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now. That's tragic," he continued. "Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself whether you are heterosexual or homosexual."

The "social experimentation" line is laughable. The military has always been a social experiment -- it's not like civilian life at all.

And of course, Santorum's obsessed with sex. But we knew that.

What's heartening is the response from Hill's commander:

At breakfast later that morning, the segment was playing on the chow hall television. Hill immediately tracked down his commander, who told him she had no problem with what he'd done but that she would need to run it up the chain of command. She later relayed the response.

"She said, 'What the military's most concerned with is that you are OK, because it's a lot of pressure on you and we want to make sure if there is anything we can do to help,'" he recalled.

There's hope.

Not so much for the members of the audience and all the presidential wannabes who just sat there and said nothing as a member of our armed forces was booed.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who owns the police?

This is the first story that I read this morning.

The cops now say they feared for their lives because of the crowd that was gathering around them! Look at that photo. Look at this even better photo. What do you see? A dozen students on the ground looking at their feet, and some onlookers all holding up cameras at a respectable distance - you'll note the other cops aren't looking terribly worried. Then watch the video. The cop casually saunters over and pepper sprays the people sitting down, which is odd since supposedly they were afraid of the people who were standing up.

Here's the video:


I mean, look at those goons -- one of them is holding what looks like a rifle.

There's the cop's information:

Lieutenant John Pike
530-752-3989
japikeiii@ucdavis.edu

Do you suppose he feels like real man now?

I checked out the university's Facebook page, which is almost entirely calls for the Chancellor to resign. The chief of the university police should go, too.

Maha has a very interesting take on public reaction to these events, although I don't think this one is going to find people siding with the police.
My point is that we’re not entering into some new age in which Power can take the law into its own hands and brush away opposition like so much dandruff. This is the way things have always been. If you are going to engage in public demonstrations, you have to be well prepared for it.

Read the whole post -- it's almost impossible to excerpt, and her conclusion doesn't give a good view of what came before.

And here's another interesting tidbit from Crooks & Liars:
Republicans want to privatize Social Security and Medicare. The Bush and Obama Administrations have privatized law enforcement on Wall Street by asking banks to police themselves. And during the devastating San Diego fires, residents learned that AIG had created a private fire department that saved the homes of its clients while other nearby houses burned.

Privatized police. Privatized fire departments. Privatized prisons. Privatized armies of Halliburton and Blackwater soldiers. When for-profit companies perform government functions, they'll do it in a way that makes them money. That's not hard to understand, but our "leaders" keep doing it anyway.

And they don't think they have to pay attention to the Bill of Rights, either.

And taking all that into account, how much of the excessive police actions against OWS do you think is designed specifically to incite a violent response?


Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Mess at Penn State

Here's a very good post from Pam Spaulding that summarizes everything I know about the Sandusky/pedophilia nightmare at Penn State, and adds a few items I wasn't aware of.

I've read all sorts of reporting and commentary on this, and in most cases the commentary is pretty solid -- Paterno and Spanier should certainly have been fired, and a few others -- Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, at least -- should go, as well.

Mike McQueary is a more difficult question. I've read opinions that he should have directly intervened when he witness Sandusky assaulting a 10-year-old in the showers, and he probably should have, but how many of us would? Consider that the man witnessed something shocking being done by someone that, in theory at least, had been held up as someone to be admired. He was, the report says, distraught, and probably was not thinking too clearly. He did report it, and I think, given the normal patterns of human behavior, at that point he considered that he'd done what he could do.

That bothers me the most is that, as of the latest reports I've read, nothing has been done on behalf of the victims. Maybe that will come, if there's the investigation that has to happen. What concerns me is that there's enough in the way of "special interests" in this case that any further investigation will be quashed. I mean, look how long it took for anyone to investigate allegations of child sexual abuse against the Catholic Church.

Ten Bank Stories (Updated)

Nice little list from Daily Kos. The first couple are really good -- banks arresting customers who want to close their accounts? (Did I mention somewhere along the line that the banksters just don't get it?) The refreshing parts are the reactions of the police.

"He has the right to speak and the right to hand out flyers. Unless he blocks you or causes a disturbance, he has the right to be here - please don't call the police again if he is not bothering you. If you don't like free speech you should move to another country."

That whole story is great -- read it.

I bank at BofA, which is one of the big villains in the recent economic mess, and the only reason I haven't moved my account is that I haven't had time. I'm still thinking about it, though, although I'm not sure a credit union is where I want to go. I belonged to a credit union some years ago, and they were so obnoxious that I left.

Local bank. There are several small banks in my neighborhood. Time to check them out.

Update:

Check out this piece by Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone, which ties it all together. This is the nut:

What both sides missed is that OWS is tired of all of this. They don't care what we think they're about, or should be about. . . .

But now, I get it. People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something. It may not be a real model for anything, but it's at least a place where people are free to dream of some other way for human beings to get along, beyond auctioned "democracy," tyrannical commerce and the bottom line.

He manages to get it. Let's see if the rest of the establishment progressives do as well. (No one expects the right wing to get it. They get paid for not getting it.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Yes, I Know

I haven't been posting. It's been a hellish week or so, and I'm looking forward to a nice long weekend to recover.

And the news -- well, please, doesn't the media ever get tired of the pack of losers running for president?

Pah.

I'm working on another BL manga translation, so maybe I'll be far enough along to write on that this weekend, but unless something in the news really catches my eye -- which, all things considered, is pretty doubtful -- figure that I'm on hiatus.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Occupy America

A very interesting piece from Matt Stoller at AlterNet on the effect of the Occupy movement. And at this point, I think one has to call it a movement, for reasons that Stoller clarifies:

The protests are a ball of raw energy, with one basic message: The 1 percent on Wall Street have taken advantage of the 99 percent of the rest of us.

Yet this message is resonating, deeply. What the occupiers have done, perhaps unwittingly, is force political elites to choose, at least publicly, between their funding stream and their popular legitimacy.


The over-reactions of the police in various cities -- most notably New York and Oakland -- has helped. There's been a lot of resentment building toward the police and their tactics over the past few years, and tear gas, pepper spray, and assault against peaceful protesters is just the icing on the cake.

And check out what Stoller says about the polls:

If Occupy Wall Street were a national candidate for president, it would be blowing away every other candidate on the stage, including Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Fifty-four percent of Americans agree with the protesters, versus 44 percent who think President Obama is doing a good job. Seventy-three percent of Americans want prosecutions for Wall Street executives for the crisis. Seventy-nine percent think the gap between rich and poor is too large. Eighty-six percent say Wall Street and its lobbyists have too much power in Washington. Sixty-eight percent think the rich should pay more in taxes. Twenty-five percent of the public considers itself upset, 45 percent is concerned about the country and 25 percent is downright angry.

You've noticed how Obama is suddenly combative? I have no problem ascribing that to the Occupy protesters. Have you noticed that the DNC is actually going after Romney and Cain? Guess why. Michael Bloomberg's popularity in New York has plummeted. The establishment is scrabbling around trying to figure out what to do -- they're starting to get the idea, I think, that they're not in control any more.

I'm for it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You Have To Wonder

Via Joe.My.God., this gem from Rev. Jason McGuire, who seems to be NOM's go-to guy in New York State:

“It is not a bigoted statement to say that children need a mother and a father,” he wrote in a letter to Cuomo today. “I contend that many of the issues our state is struggling with can be traced back to absentee fathers, a general lack of parental involvement and the breakdown of the family: low graduation rates, out-of-wedlock births, runaway welfare and Medicaid costs, even the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.”


It's not bigoted, but it's not true, either -- at least, not in the real world. (Oh, but don't forget, this is the man who said that supporters of marriage equality are "of Satan." Nope, not bigoted at all.) Two mothers or two fathers do just fine. And what do any of the "causes" he lists for New York's problems have to do with same-sex marriage? Anyone?

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Think the 1% Have Had It

I mean, when you've got the Marines against you, you're finished.

“#OccupyMARINES Are Currently Assessing The Current Situation To Ascertain What Is Currently Needed To Support OWS America. We Are Humbled At The Substantial Support OWS America Has Provided And Ask That Everyone Continue As You All Do While We Implement Organization Nationwide. As We All Know, ‘Occupy’ Groups Are Being Established Even Now And Would Like To See This Trend Continue. “

Their website OccupyMarines.org, is calling for “Non-Active ‘Occupy’ Military Supporters Only” and they are organizing a dress code which will help identify their branch affiliation. So we should be seeing Marines, Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel dressed to impress at Occupy events across the country. Their goal will be to talk sense into police officers and recruit them into supporting the cause.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cute

Baby meerkats.


Here's the rest of the pictures.

There's a -- tribe? -- of meerkats at Lincoln Park Zoo, as well as a group of dwarf mongooses. A couple of years ago the meerkats had young, which are too cute to deal with, almost. Ditto baby dwarf mongooses.

About Face, Forward March

From Gen. James Amos, Commandant of the U.S. Marines:


That's the way it's supposed to be.

The Frightening Part Is (Updated)

that these people are being treated seriously.

First, Ron Paul:

Take a look at the state of Nevada. Do the people own the property in Nevada? No. Who’s the biggest landowner? It’s the federal government. I would like to see the development of this state the way that Texas had the privilege of developing. Before we went in the Union, it was owned entirely by private owners and it has developed all the natural resources, a very big state. So you can imagine how wonderful it would be if land will be or should be returned to the states and then for the best parts sold off to private owners.


First, the blinding ignorance: I don't know if anyone has pointed out to Congressman Paul that the government holds the land on behalf of the people. Yes, stupid, the people do own the land, which is held and managed in trust by the federal government. That's sort of basic.

I live in Chicago and one thing we are justifiably proud of in this city is our park system, fully tax supported. As part of this system, we have beaches, marinas and harbors, wildlife refuges, open space, a first-class zoo, and conservatories. You know what? No admission. It's all open to the public and you don't have to pay to get in. I go to Lincoln Park Zoo a lot, because it's a wonderful place to just walk and watch the waterfowl in the lagoon, see if the lions have finished their nap yet, watch the monkeys and apes being just a little bit too human sometimes. Aside from the animals, I see a lot of families, school groups, young couples on a cheap date. And our parks in general get a lot of use, maybe because of something that those like Ron Paul who worship money haven't figured out: people need open space, they need to be able to get out someplace where there are grass and trees and flowers blooming, so they don't get as crazy as he is. It's not a luxury -- it's a necessity. In private hands, you'd have to pay admission and a lot of people would be excluded simply because of that. (Food service in the parks is privately run, and it's expensive. I mean, six dollars for a taco?)

And next, never to be outdone, Vatican spokesman Rick Santorum:

“One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country,” the former Pennsylvania senator explained. “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be”:

[Sex] is supposed to be within marriage. It’s supposed to be for purposes that are yes, conjugal…but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen…This is special and it needs to be seen as special.


Get that? "Counter to how things are supposed to be." That man's head is so fucked up that I can't even think how to address it. How about, for starters, that fact that not only am I not Catholic, I'm not even Christian, and I'm gay. I don't see any reason to pay any attention to someone who subscribes to a tradition in which women were sold as property for "procreation." As for how sex is "supposed to be" -- it's supposed to be whatever you want it to be. Some approaches are more rewarding than others -- I'm not too keen on casual, anonymous sex just to get my rocks off, myself (that's why God made pornography), but I'm not about to tell anyone else that they can't do it.

Santorum seems to live in a world in which we are all children and have to be under someone's control at all times. I don't quite know how to break it to him, but I'm a grown-up, and have been for a long time. I'm used to making my own decisions about things like sex, and I don't need him or the government telling me what to do. It's not his business.

More from Santorum (go ahead and google it -- you know you want to).

I may come back to this -- I thought about including a recent experience at a "progressive" blog, but it's still too raw -- I haven't been that effectively bullied since I was in high school. Maybe it's just enough to say that those blinkered, authoritarian patterns of thought are not limited to the right.

Update:

Can't leave out the John Boehner/Paul Clement team fighting to maintain DOMA.

In an Oct. 14 motion filed with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, attorneys representing the House make the case that gay people "are far from politically powerless" and can't say they face "discrimination [that] is unlikely to be soon rectified by legislative means" -- unlike other groups of people who are discriminated against.

"The very significant gains made by homosexual-rights groups both in legislative terms and in popular opinion -- and the phenomenal speed at which those victories have come -- demonstrate that they have ample ability to attract the favorable attention of lawmakers," reads the 36-page brief filed by Bancroft PLLC, the firm hired by House Republican leaders to defend the constitutionality of DOMA.


Of course, they left out all the setbacks, including all the "marriage" amendments and the semi-repeal of DADT. More rehash of the same tired old "arguments" that no one's buying any more. This hard on the heels of their last pathetic attempt, which included the time-honored technique of misrepresenting scientific research and a desperate attempt to avoid having to call "expert" witnesses.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

NYT Does It Again (Updated)

An article that could have been -- well, it could have been a lot of things, but don't look for any real insights here. It's all a surface reading, and the surface isn't even right. Like this:

In fact, the two movements do share key traits. They emerged out of nowhere but quickly became potent political forces, driven by anxiety about the economy, a belief that big institutions favor the reckless over the hard-working, grievances that are inchoate and even contradictory, and an insistence that they are “leaderless.” “End the Fed” signs — and even some of those yellow Gadsden flags — have found a place at Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street protests alike.

Where they differ is in where they place the blame. While Occupy forces find fault in the banks and super-rich, the Tea Party movement blames the government for the economic calamity brought on by the mortgage crisis, and sees the wealthy as job creators who will lift the country out of its economic malaise. To them, the solution is less regulation of banks, not more.


Start with the "where they came from part." It's widely known at this time that the Tea Party movement was initially organized by conservative campaign consultants funded by, among others, the Koch brothers. Their first target was health-care reform, followed quickly by the social safety net in general. Come on, people, these "protesters" were being bussed in to town hall meetings with other people's Congressional representatives with instructions to disrupt the proceedings as much as possible. This is "inchoate and even contradictory"? These people were all but scripted.

The article merely echoes the right-wing blogosphere and conservative media characterizations, with little evidence of anything even remotely resembling fact-checking, and certainly no trace of skepticism. Sorry, but if you note that the right wing is portraying the Occupy Wall Street crowd as anti-Semitic, let's have some real analysis of the accuracy of that statement. And the article is full of assertions that raised flags for me, none of them examined at all.

It doesn't even rise to the level of "he said, she said" -- it's all "he said."

Recommended use: liner for litter box.

Update: There is some ray of hope here, although I can't credit the Times in particular -- just some of its contributors. Nicholas Kristof has a very lucid layout of the major focus of the Occupy protesters,and Paul Krugman, as might be expected, ha been on it for a while. (Check here, here, and here.

Best quote:

The modern lords of finance look at the protesters and ask, Don’t they understand what we’ve done for the U.S. economy?

The answer is: yes, many of the protesters do understand what Wall Street and more generally the nation’s economic elite have done for us. And that’s why they’re protesting.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Giggle du jour

From my Web pal Nikolaos in Oz:

A Polish immigrant went to Vicroads to apply for a driver's licence. First,
of course, he had to take an eye sight test The tester showed him a card
with the letters

'C Z W I X N O S T A C Z.'

'Can you read this?' the optician asked. 'Read it?' the Polish man replied,
'I know the guy.'


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reviews in Brief: Another Look at Kimi Shiruya?

I recently picked up Satoru Ishihara's Kimi Shiruya -- Dost Thou Know? again after quite some time. Looking back, I realize that I've written quite a bit about this book (not only a Review in Brief, but another extended essay, and a a Friday Gay Blogging commentary, not to mention a review at GMR that has since been moved to Sleeping Hedgehog.

So what can I find to say that's new? Not much, really, but I was struck by how fundamental the use of metaphor is in this book. It starts almost from the beginning, around page eight or ten, when Masaomi compares Tsurugi to a sword, and later to a spring gale. Ishihara continues, piling metaphor on metaphor around the central one: the romance as a duel.





Speaking of gales, it's worth nothing the title of the first chapter, "The Wind Cometh." A wind, in Japanese culture, as far as I've been able to tell, marks a change. We have a similar image, "A change in the wind," but to the Japanese, as nearly as I've been able to puzzle out, the mere fact of the wind in itself is sufficient. (Note that in Makoto Tateno's Ka Shin Fu, the wind is a central image, as well.)

Ishihara noted that it took her three years and a range of drawing styles to complete Kimi Shiruya?, and one can see the change in the art, but it really is a progression, from a rather rough, strongly graphic style to a much more elegant and subtle presentation. The spread below is one of my favorites in the book, since it demonstrates the development of Ishihara's drawing style and points up the role of metaphor in the story: Masaomi is allowing his relationship with Tsurugi to develop -- to "ripen in its own time."




It says something, I think, that I can come back to what is, after all, a romance in comic-book form two years later -- and one directed toward teen-age girls -- and still find it not only appealing, but terrifically sophisticated, especially since I've gained so much more experience with the medium in that time. I guess that means I should continue to trust my instincts.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ironies of Modern Life

Someone just called the newspaper where I work to ask about the price of an ad to advertise her Web site.

The Writing Is On the Wall

Good news from California, via Joe.My.God.:

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! From a Stop SB 48 email blast:

"The News is Not Good ... it is doubtful we will get the number of signatures we need to qualify. Unfortunately the last several deliveries of mail have not been what was expected and a large number of petitions have been pulled out because of errors. From all appearances, we would need a miracle to qualify this referendum."


Reminds me of the last time Peter LaBarbera tried to get an anti-marriage referendum on the Illinois ballot. Granted, referenda in Illinois are advisory only and carry no legal mandate, but he couldn't even get enough signatures for that. But I'm seeing a trend -- growing support for gay civil rights, including marriage; overwhelming support for repeal of DADT; the rapid shrinkage in the margins by which anti-marriage referenda have passed -- from 60-70% in 2004 to 51-52% in 2008 -- and the likelihood that at least one such referendum will fail next year.

You can also tell by how shrill the professional gay-bashers are getting. (Yeah, I know, Fischer started off shrill, but you have to admit, he's reached a new level lately.)

Time is on our side.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Only Good Stuff Today

Because I've been down in the dumps and need it.

First, this story about the Oregon U.S. Attorney's office's It Gets Better video:

Ever since he heard Savage talk about the "It Gets Better" project, Holton said making a video has been on his to-do list. He said he wasn't sure what to expect when he put out the call for participants, and he was moved by his colleagues' willingness to share their personal experiences. Since the video was posted to Youtube last week, he's heard from other U.S. attorneys across the country interested in doing their own videos. . . .

"The U.S. Attorney's Office has a tremendous capacity to make change in the community," he said. "This is an opportunity we couldn't miss. We have credibility and forcefulness as a voice in the community that lots of folks don't have.

"When we weigh in to say we're on your side, it matters," he said.



And you can always count on the Marines:

Whether the end of "don't ask, don't tell" will open recruitment floodgates remains to be seen. As soon as the policy was repealed last month, a top Marine recruiting trainer for the Southwest showed up at the biggest gay community center in Tulsa, Okla., bracing for insults and protests. Instead, he conversed quietly with a trickle of gay women who wandered in to ask about joining the Marines.

At Pasadena City College on Saturday, Wallace was among eight Marines at the recruitment booth. From the morning opening, the Marine contingent proved the biggest draw amid tables representing healthcare organizations, church groups and vendors of rainbow-colored garden decorations. It might have helped that the Marines handed out a lanyard, a pen or a sticker to each man who tried to do a pull-up, or to each woman who tried the flexed-arm hang. To the rare volunteer capable of performing 20 pull-ups went a navy-blue T-shirt.


And there are two gay candidates for mayor of San Diego -- both Republicans.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Occupy America (Update, Update II)

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, which are now spreading around the country, represent one of the biggest media failures of the decade. The contrast with the coverage of the early Tea Party demonstrations is, I think, revealing of the influence of corporate money on the MSM -- which in effect means that we have very little in the way of independent news any more.

Remember that the Tea Party originated as and is still largely an astroturf movement, funded by a few billionaires interested in maintaining their control of the government in the face of a new administration that promised change. (Well, promises are easy, and before you start listing the grand achievements of the Obama administration, please explain to me exactly what's different now.) So major media coverage was assured. (Hey, these people know who's paying them.)

But when the media deign to notice Occupy Wall Street at all, it's a matter of looking down their noses at the "lack of focus" and disorganization. Of course, the Occupiers don't have paid media consultants and political strategists to sharpen them up. This has spread to what I'm starting to call the Establishment Blogosphere, as witness this sad post from Mahablog:

Compare/contrast Occupy Wall Street with last winter’s protest in Madison, Wisconsin. Now, y’all know I found the Madison protests thrilling. What I loved about it is that the people who participated really were there for the cause, not just to draw attention to themselves. And the cause was not just some amorphous sense that, y’know, stuff is bad and we’re angry about it. There was a specific focus, a particular message, that everyone came together to deliver. And they’ve been following it up with good old-fashioned shoes-on-the-pavement, door-to-door political activism that resulted in the recall of two state senators.

This is how it’s done.

Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, reeks of the usual crowd of juvenile attention-seekers who protest for the sake of protesting. Their “demands” (which, they are careful to say, are not really demands, just ideas) are a grocery list of feel-good sentiments, not a call to action.


Sorry, but this is what a real grass-roots movement looks like. It starts off somewhat inchoate, and the more grassroots it is, the more unfocused it is. Over time, however, as we're seeing, it focuses itself as people who know what to do move into leadership positions. As for effectiveness, anyone remember the Arab Spring? I mean, I know it's more than fifteen minutes ago, but geez. I used to have a lot of respect for Maha's opinions, but either she's changed or I have -- she seems now to be taking the position that passes in Beltway circles for "realism," which equates to nothing more than the status quo. Maybe I've gotten more radical, but I don't know how that's possible. I've always been radical, but equally, I'm a pragmatist, which boils down to "Don't tell me it can't be fixed, let's figure out how to fix it."

The Madison protests had a specific target and began with people who were organized to start with -- members of the teachers' unions and their students, ultimately joined by more union members from the police and firefighters. Occupy Wall Street has only the sense that the people who are responsible for our problems right now, especially the economic mess, are not only not being held accountable but are being rewarded because they own Congress and, as it starts to look more and more, the White House as well. As for ultimate effectiveness, it's too soon to tell. I found this bit from an NYT article (now that the Times has bothered to notice) instructive:

“Rants based on discontents are the first stage of any movement,” said Michael Kazin, a professor of history at Georgetown University. But he said it was unclear if the current protests would lead to a lasting movement, which would require the newly unleashed passions to be channeled into institutions and shaped into political goals.

Publicity surrounding the recent arrests of hundreds in New York, near Wall Street and on the Brooklyn Bridge, has only energized the campaign. This week, new rallies and in some cases urban encampments are planned for cities as disparate as Memphis, Tenn.; Hilo, Hawaii; Minneapolis; Baltimore; and McAllen, Tex., according to Occupy Together, an unofficial hub for the protests that lists dozens of coming demonstrations, including some in Europe and Japan.


Arrests are sometimes what it takes. I'm thinking about Dan Choi, Autumn Sandeen, Jim Pietrangelo and their fellows.

About 100 mostly younger people, down from 400 over the weekend, were camped outside Los Angeles City Hall on Monday morning. Several dozen tents occupied the lawn along with a free-food station and a media center. People sat on blankets playing the guitar or bongo drums or meditating. Next to a “Food Not Bombs” sign, was another that read “Food Not Banks.”

Am I the only one who remembers the '60s? That started off pretty diffuse and unfocused, the product of, as Maha puts it, "the usual crowd of juvenile attention-seekers who protest for the sake of protesting." Sure as hell changed the direction of this country, if only until the inevitable swing in the other direction, which we're experiencing right now.

Update II: For a balance to Maha's somewhat disdainful commments, read this.

Update:

Here's an interesting comment by David Atkins at Hullabaloo that tackles the traditional circular firing squad on the left:

The Occupy Wall Street protests are doing more than just galvanizing anger against the predatory practices of the financial sector. They are also providing the latest excuse for the left to self-immolate in the most recent version of the same argument that has been tearing natural allies apart since at least the turn of the millennium. Most of the players in this conflict position themselves along the same battle lines as the combatants in the so-called "Obama Wars" that have been all the rage on the left for the last two years.


It's a pretty even-handed analysis of where we are and the pitfalls of popular demonstrations as a motivating force (although I don't agree with him at all regarding the anti-war protests of the '60s), but this is key:

In order for change to take place, good Democrats do need to be in power. But only an angry and motivated populace angry with both Parties and strongly intent on holding Democrats accountable will scare and motivate Democrats enough to do what they were elected to do.


And people are on to the media in this one, as witness this encounter between a Fox News reporter and a protester:


There's a transcript here at C&L.

As for getting media attention, Second City has a lock on it.


I may come back, as more thoughts occur to me. But given the reaction of the corporate press to this one, I think we're seeing another aspect of the corporate takeover of America.

Oh, and the reaction of the banksters and traders?