"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, August 28, 2012

It's Not a Glitch. . .

it's a feature. The whole complex of abortion/rape has hit the news after the remarks of Todd Akin, Republican candidate for the Senate from Missouri. Here's a timeline from NYT. The key point, if you want to call it that, is this:
KTVI-TV posts to its Web site an interview with Mr. Akin in which he is asked whether he believes abortion is justified in cases of rape and replies that rape does not result in pregnancy. Twitter soon erupts with outrage and links to the interview.

“It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”

He's not alone. The first one to come to his defense was Mike Huckabee, whose viciousness is masked by his down-home manner.

The latest flap on this issue is from another Republican candidate (surprise!), Tom Smith of Pennsylvania:

MARK SCOLFORO, ASSOCIATED PRESS: How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will? Do you have a way to explain that?

SMITH: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.

SCOLFORO: Similar how?

SMITH: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.

SCOLFORO: That’s similar to rape?

SMITH: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period.

The idea of a woman actually giving consent doesn't seem to enter Smith's mind at all. The cherry on top is his "clarification":

A life is a life, and it needs protected. Who’s going to protect it? We have to. I mean that’s, I believe life begins at conception. I’m not going to argue about the method of conception. It’s a life, and I’m pro-life. It’s that simple.
(Emphasis added.)

There's a knock-out post from Karoli on this one at Crooks and Liars. Read it.

And lest you think these guys are beyond the Pale, here's Paul Ryan on "methods of conception":

This is being widely reported as Ryan saying that "rape is just another method of conception," which, while not literally true, certainly captures the sense of his remarks. One wonders what his attitude is toward IVF and artificial insemination, both of which the Republican party opposes -- they are, after all, "methods of conception."

These are not outliers. The 2012 Republican platform contains the following language:

“Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,” said the draft platform language approved Tuesday, which was first reported by CNN. “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

No exceptions.

One thing is missing from this: women. Apparently, they don't matter.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Disgusting People: Fox News

There's no justification for this. From NBC:
Fox News on Thursday identified the author of the book, which is titled "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden," as a 36-year-old former SEAL from Wrangell, Alaska. The Associated Press later said it had confirmed the author’s identity. (NBC News is not identifying the former SEAL.)

Penguin Group (USA)'s Dutton imprint, the publisher, asked news organizations Thursday to withhold his identity.

"Sharing the true story of his personal experience in 'No Easy Day' is a courageous act in the face of obvious risks to his personal security," Dutton spokeswoman Christine Ball said in a statement to the AP. "That personal security is the sole reason the book is being published under a pseudonym."

The book is a first-hand account of the raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. You might guess that the reaction from al Qaeda has been -- well, not positive.
Users on several militant Islamic websites affiliated with al-Qaida have posted the name and photo of a former Navy SEAL identified as the author of an upcoming book on the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The posts called for his "destruction" in revenge for the al-Qaida founder’s killing.

"We pray to Allah for his destruction sooner rather than later," said one of the posts.

"Oh Allah, make an example of him for the whole world and give him dark days ahead," read another.

Among the website publishing the death threats was the "Al-Fidaa" web forum, which al-Qaida uses to distribute its media and public communications, said Evan Kohlmann, an NBC News consultant and a terrorism analyst at Flashpoint Partners, a global security firm.

This is the journalistic ethics of Rupert Murdoch and his whole organization. And there's no real purpose behind it -- there's nothing to be gained by revealing the man's name, although Chris in Paris at AmericaBlog has an interesting surmise (although it may be from John Aravosis -- the post isn't clear):
This time, Romney and the GOP are mocking the killing of Osama bin Laden and how President Obama handled it (apparently, killing OBL, a few years into office, when GWB couldn't pull it off (and basically gave up shortly after 9/11 - Bush actually called off the hunt for bin Laden only six months after September 11) is a "bad" thing).

Keep in mind that Mitt Romney, following in George Bush's footsteps, said he would have never ordered the successful raid against bin Laden in Pakistan.

The only problem? This Navy SEAL, who led the raid on bin Laden, was writing a book about the raid that most likely would have shown the world exactly how President Obama handled the raid (excellently, per the admiral who oversaw the operation). So the Navy SEAL, this American hero, had to be stopped at all costs, lest he undercut Mitt Romney's apparently embarrassment over the US - over President Obama - having killed bin Laden when Romney said he would have let bin Laden go.

So what happens next? Fox "magically" gets the name of the SEAL and leaks it, knowing full well that Al Qaeda would threaten to kill this man and his family. And voila, only 24 hours later, Al Qaeda has now threatened him.

Do I think that's a credible supposition? Not really: the book is going to come out, unless the Pentagon holds it up for some reason, and there's nothing to be gained by revealing the real name of the author. (Unless Fox is counting on the DoD quashing the book, although they could have done that without knowing the author's real name if there are security breaches in the text.)

I think it's just Fox, the propaganda arm of the Republican Party, doing what Fox does best -- being disgusting.

The guy should sue, for billions.

(There's an assumption in the comments at the AmericaBlog post that the author wrote the book to be critical of Obama. I don't know one way or the other on that score. And one commenter reminded us that the right has a history of outing covert operatives for political gain -- remember Valerie Plame?)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"One giant leap for mankind."

Neil Armstrong is dead at 82.

We watched the moon walk on TV. My cat kept trying to catch the astronauts, and then would run around to the back of the TV to see if they were back there.

Nonsense du Jour

This "opinion" piece by Greg Hampikian, from NYT. Titled "Men, Who Needs Them?" it attempts to make the case that women don't need men for bearing or raising children. You can tell he's operating from Neverneverland:

If a woman wants to have a baby without a man, she just needs to secure sperm (fresh or frozen) from a donor (living or dead).

Um, excuse me -- where does he think the sperm came from? Alpha Centauri?

He also tries to make the case that single-parent households are just fine and dandy -- noting that "the data for children raised by only females is encouraging. As the Princeton sociologist Sara S. McLanahan has shown, poverty is what hurts children, not the number or gender of parents." And how many single mothers are wealthy? (Note, he provides no link or citation for McLanahan's work.) I'm going to have to come down on the side of those studies that indicate that two parents are better for children than one, if only because they are less subject to the stresses that result from trying to go it alone. (I have known more than one woman who elected to raise a child without a father. It was hard on them.)

This is a fairly frivolous piece. I wish I could say I'm surprised to see it at NYT, but you know what? I'm not.

The Power of Words

From my friends at Nick's Place:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Today's Must-Read

Apparently, the inhabitants of the lower depths of the anti-gay right are exercised (exorcized?) because Bill O'Reilly regularly has Wayne Besen on his show and doesn't shout him down. So they've sent a letter to O'Reilly's producers demanding that the calm and rational discussions cease immediately. Besen, not known for being the most reticent man in the public sphere, has responded.

I have never been more proud of my career accomplishments than I am today. It has been said that the friends and foes accrued over a lifetime can be used as a measure of the man. Given the coalition of homophobes and hate groups that viciously attacked me today, I feel my life’s work has been vindicated and validated.

When I woke up this morning, I was greeted with a pernicious press release headlined, “Family Groups Urge FOX NEWS to Stop Providing Unchallenged Prime Time to Agitator.” The sub headline read: “Bill O’Reilly ignores repeated requests to drop SPLC’s Wayne Besen from show.” (Note: I don’t work for SPLC. I am the founder of Truth Wins Out)

And he goes on to give names and some of the highlights of the signers' careers.

Read it.

(Here's most of the press release from the right-wingers. Can you say "projection"?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Unhinged (Updated)

That seems to sum up this group.

First, of course, is Todd Akin, who is still, by all reports, the Republican candidate for the Senate from Missouri. It's not that Akin said something totally off the scale -- it's that he said publicly what is -- and has been -- the Republican position on rape/abortion/reproductive rights, based, as is so often the case, on nonsense from a "doctor." And while major GOP figures have been calling on Akin to drop out, the platform committee has written even more extreme language into the proposed platform.

Here's Rachel Maddow on the history of this strand of Republican thought:

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

(Footnote: Here's one of the right's intellectual giants on the whole flap -- I'm not sure if she's channeling Mama Grizzly or Annie Oakley:
And on to another choice example to today's conservatives. This is a judge who is also head of the Lubbock County, Texas (of course) Office of Emergency Management. This is what he's planning for:
Earlier today, ThinkProgress reported that Texas Judge Tom Head told a local television station that President Obama would turn over American “sovereignty” to the United Nations if reelected, that Obama’s actions would potentially trigger “civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war,” and that such a conflict would culminate with “UN troops” led by President Obama invading Lubbock, Texas. We swear we are not making this up. There is video. Today, Judge Head clarified his remarks, explaining that it is his obligation to prepare for an Obama-led United Nations invasion as Lubbock County, Texas’ Director of Emergency Management:
I’m not saying we’re going to take [newly hired law enforcement officers] and stand in front of the UN. I have to think of, as emergency management director I have to think of worst case scenario, and I used that as an example yesterday. Okay, in my opinion, the worst case scenario politically and financially right now is if Obama and the Senate Democrats stay in power. Okay, because I have some opinions what they’re doing and what they’re trying to do if they stay in power. And I have to prepare for that, okay.
What possible reason could anyone have for invading Lubbock?

U.S. Congressman Steve King (R-Some Cornfield Someplace) is always good for a laugh -- or would be, if it weren't for the fact that people actually voted him into office. You could guess that his thoughts on multiculturalism would be choice:
I went to the Iowa State website and [...] I typed in “multicultural” and it came back to me, at the time, 59 different multicultural groups listed to operate on campus at Iowa State. It started with Asians and it ended with Zeitgeist, so from A to Z, and most of them were victims’ groups, victimology, people that feel sorry for themselves and they’re out there recruiting our young people to be part of the group that feels sorry for themselves. [...] And then, you’re brought into a group of people that are–have a grievance against society rather than understand there’s a tremendous blessing in this society.
I really don't understand how treasuring your own heritage translates into "feeling sorry" for yourself. But then, I'm not Steve King. And finally, from more intellectual giants of the right, GOProud has endorsed Tommy Thompson against Tammy Baldwin for the Senate from Wisconsin. GOProud claims to be a conservative gay group -- here's what they're endorsing:

OK -- that's all I can take of these loons this morning. Update: This one is so over the top that I had to include it. It sort of reflects the whole right-wing belief system: simplistic, when that's not too difficult for them. Oh, and money rules.

There are good people in this world

Today's feel-good story:

It's more than feel-good, though: most of the people in this country are decent people who want to do good. (Don't miss the part about ten other companies chipping in to help cover the cost of the repairs.) It's the assholes like Paul Ryan and Todd Akin and Brian Brown and the teabaggers who get the news coverage.

You see why I still have faith in humanity.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Tony Perkins Award

To Brian Brown, of NOM, via Joe.My.God.:

Starbucks supported same sex marriage, saw their support from Republicans dwindle, missed sales projections, and watched the company lose $4.4 billion overnight and over $10 billion from their 2012 high. While executives of publicly traded companies have had a wonderful time claiming that not supporting same-sex marriage hurts their employee recruitment and retention efforts, we now have a case study in how alienating millions of customers can directly affect the bottom line of a public company and damage shareholder value."

As Joe points out, Starbucks missed their forecast, but sales increased 7% in the U.S.
And their stock price has soared.

No Comment

Because no comment is necessary. Via Box Turtle Bulletin from NOM:

“Bachelorette” star Ryan Bowers tweeted his support for Chick-fil-A and the “sanctity of marriage” on the Appreciation Day:

“Everyone is eating at chik fil-a today to support the Kathy family and their stand for the sanctity of marriage!!! Lv it!”

And if, like me, you don't watch much TV:
For those who are not familiar with the series, Bachelorette is a television show on which a couple dozen men compete for the privilege of marrying a woman.

By all means, let's preserve the sanctity of marriage. I mean, what could be more in line with "traditional marriage" than making it the prize in a game show?

(OK, so I made a comment -- I really couldn't resist.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Update to "Hate Groups"

John Aravosis has come out with another excellent post showing up Tony Perkins' frantic accusations of everyone else for the D.C. shooting incident. Read it.

Note: Digby came to the same conclusion the other day, which somehow I missed.
But Tony Perkins' crocodile tears about "hate speech" are just a bit hard to take considering the kind of profit he makes at it himself. Of course he doesn't deserve to get shot at for it. But blaming the SPLC is an attempt to deflect attention from their own hate speech. Certainly, if it's "irresponsible" for the SPLC to accuse the FRC a hate group, it seems to me that it's doubly irresponsible for the FRC to accuse them of attempted murder.

I don't really have anything to add to that, except to note that, while the right is constantly harping on taking "personal responsibility" for one's actions, they seem more than a little reluctant to do so themselves. I think that's called "hypocrisy." As I recall, Jesus had something to say about that.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Hate Groups"

Dana Milbank wrote a column at WaPo that has to be seen to be believed. (Well, if you're one of the Villagers, I suppose it makes perfect sense.) It's nothing more than a white-wash of FRC and a call for everyone to "be nice" and stop labeling hate groups as hate groups. It starts off badly and goes downhill from there:

Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights organization, posted an alert on its blog Tuesday: “Paul Ryan Speaking at Hate Group’s Annual Conference.”

The “hate group” that the Republicans’ vice presidential candidate would be addressing? The Family Research Council, a mainstream conservative think tank founded by James Dobson and run for many years by Gary Bauer.

FRC is not mainstream. It is an extremist political organization using the Bible as a weapon.

Other bloggers, when commenting on this post, always start off by claiming that they respect Milbank. I have to confess I don't read him regularly, and if this is an example of his commentary, I don't really see any need to. He quite obviously has not done any research on FRC, he quite obviously has not read the SPLC's statement in which it details the reasons for declaring FRC a hate group -- or any of the numerous statements issued thereafter -- nor, apparently, has be bothered to inform himself what the issue really is. It's just another out-of-touch Beltway condemnation of anything that might be construed as "the left." Oh, and both sides do it.

Human Rights Campaign isn’t responsible for the shooting. Neither should the organization that deemed the FRC a “hate group,” the Southern Poverty Law Center, be blamed for a madman’s act. But both are reckless in labeling as a “hate group” a policy shop that advocates for a full range of conservative Christian positions, on issues from stem cells to euthanasia.

"Policy shop"? You've got to be kidding me.

Here's the cherry on top:
Those who support gay rights will gain nothing by sticking inflammatory labels on their opponents, many of whom are driven by deeply held religious beliefs.

Yes, and sincerely held religious beliefs gave us the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Thirty Years' War, the drive to exterminate American Indians, slavery, genocide, and gods know what other glories of Western civilization. And ultimately, so what? Believe what you like, and base the law on reason.

(I actually spent a couple of hours last evening scrolling through the comments and leaving a couple of my own. As one commenter pointed out, there is a group of repeaters, obviously hard-core right-wingers who are impervious to logic and fact, and there there are a number of unique commenters who actually do document their statements with links and quotes. Most of those are strongly against Milbank's column, probably because they know what they're talking about.)

Pam Spaulding wrote a good, solid analysis of the column on Friday.

My assumption is that Mr. Milbank doesn’t read or see any news reports of the continuing struggle in much of the U.S. for LGBTs to have even the most basic of civil rights he takes for granted — equal accommodation, the right not be fired for sexual orientation or gender identity — oh, and not to be killed or maimed for simply existing. His overall message is the inaccurate, pathetic, lazy zero-sum argument that, in his mind, the LGBT community has not suffered as much violence or deprivation of civil rights as, say, blacks. Please. Like I said, he doesn’t bother to even bone up on recent incidents of horrid violence[.]

Apparently, Milbank feels that it isn't legitimate to label FRC a hate group until they start burning gay men on their front lawns.

John Aravosis also did a piece on the column -- or at least, sparked by the column -- that lays it all out, beginning with the header: "Why the Family Research Council is a hate group."
Because they lie.

And they know they lie.

And they don't care.

And they've been doing it for twenty years.

And when I say "lie," I dont' mean the standard Washington, DC version of a "lie," which is basically calling a lie anything you disagree with (aka, your facts hurt me so I'm simply going to call you a liar). I mean, an organization that decided early on that "the gay menace" was such a threat to American life that if it had to deceive the American people in order to convince them that gays were the anti-Christ, then so be it.

And for any journalist, like the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who claims otherwise, suggesting that the Family Research Council is simply a "mainstream conservative" group, I'd ask them to do some original research on the anti-gay literature that the Family Research Council publishes, and the anti-gay pseudo-science that FRC "cites" on TV, before weighing in on a topic about which they know very little.

Aravosis'post is exhaustive and worth reading. There's also a good discussion in the comments.

For reference, here's the page on FRC from SPLC's Intelligence Files. (Note to Dana Milbank: it wasn't that hard to find. All you have to do is google "Southern Poverty Law Center" to get to the site, and go on from there. It's pretty user-friendly.)

One final thought on this: it was Peter LaBarbera who brought up the idea that the shooting was staged. I don't really believe it, but given the methods and tactics of the FRC, and that fact that as they lose ground they get more extreme, it starts to sound credible.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Tony Perkins Award

Lots of contenders this week. Let's get right to it, with the man himself: Tony Perkins is going for the gold:

Well I think as we witnessed this past week at the Family Research Council, clearly linked to that same atmosphere of hostility that’s created by the public policies of an administration that’s indifferent or hostile to religious freedom and groups like as I mentioned the Southern Poverty Law Center that recklessly throws around labels giving people like this gunman who came into our building a license to take innocent life.

It's all Obama's fault. This from the man who used to think that open racism was the way to go. I guess it doesn't pay as much as gay-bashing, but old habits die hard, they say.

I'm not sure if Andrea Lafferty qualifies for this award -- she maybe should be a contender for the Through the Looking Glass Award, since she's as delusional as her father, Lou Sheldon. But she's in rare form this week:
The head of the Traditional Values Coalition, an anti-gay group that is equally as vile as the FRC, is claiming that shooter Floyd Corkins was arrested while carrying their address. . . .

Lafferty claims she's gotten no response to requests for federal protection: "Under this Justice Department, Christians are a very low priority on their lists of concerns."

I suspect the DoJ considers "Christians" a fairly high priority and is keeping an eye on the TVC and similar groups (as much as they are allowed under the teabagger Congress, which is firmly wedded to the principle that only brown people commit terrorist acts), since they or their followers are responsible for most of the violence.

Here's an example of the TVC's "Christian" message:

Ever hear of Michael Heath? He's the anti-gay stalwart in Maine who was eased out of the anti-marriage fight a couple of years ago because he was extreme enough to embarrass the extremists. Well, he's back:
"If Maine doesn't end this decades long conflict over the evil of sodomy with an overwhelming NO vote in November we can expect to see this sort of violence in Maine in the near future. Homosexuality can lead to the most horrific and violent consequences in individuals and society. The twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of it."

Heath is awaiting receipt of his concealed weapons permit from the Maine State Police. He claimed it is the responsibility of all good men to be prepared to protect innocence from evil. Force must be met with force so that innocent people are not harmed.

Given Heath's own words, we can guess where the violence will come from. Oh, and about Sodom and Gomorrah -- another "Christian" who apparently doesn't read the Bible.

And maybe Heath's another one who should be in the running for the TLG Award -- he sounds crazy enough.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The FRC Incident -- Today's Round-up

It's interesting that the FRC incident is causing a fair amount of introspection in the gay blogosphere. In the "Christian" blogosphere, not so much. Here are some of today's commentaries.

First, a very good post from Pam Spaulding on FRC's statement (which boils down to "It's all somebody else's fault") and SPLC's response -- because, of course, Tony Perkins blamed SPLC.

Sadly, Family Research Council’s honcho Tony Perkins took to the media today in an attempt to discredit the Southern Poverty Law Center’s accurate assessment of FRC as a hate group, charging that the organization gave shooter Floyd Corkins a license to shoot the security guard at its building in DC.

Isn't it sort of fascinating that the right insists that everyone else take responsibility for their rhetoric? Does anyone remember the rending of garments and the "mea culpas" from Perkins, or Bryan Fischer, or Peter LaBarbera, or Brian Brown, or any of them over the rash of teen suicides because of bullying over the past year or two? I thought not.

Digby, as usual, is very much on point on this one.

I left a rather lengthy comment on that one, which will serve as my commentary on that post.

A thoughtful commentary from Timothy Kincaid on words and consequences, although I think he's perhaps shouldering too much of the blame.

I know that most people who read here would never ever see anything that might cause them to think that violence towards Perkins, or any of our adversaries, is in anyway encouraged or acceptable. Most people know that “it goes without saying” that such a response would condemned without exception.

But for some people, it doesn’t go without saying. For some people, it has to be said. Some people have to be told that we will not see them as heroes if they take – or even threaten – the life of someone else.

Do I say it enough?

I left a comment there to the effect that we need to divorce the words from the people. Tony Perkins, in and of himself, is nothing. It's his words that are damaging and hateful, and that is what we need to respond to. In his case, it's easy -- just start hauling out facts. He has no answer for that, except to change the subject. Don't let him.

Shifting focus to NOM, for a moment -- you'll remember that Brian Brown was first out of the gate with accusations that the shooting was the fault of SPLC, "the left," and "the vast homosexual conspiracy" -- Joe Jervis has reposted Rob Tisinai's summary of some of NOM's "civilized" discourse. I like Joe's comment, though:

Regarding the first item, I was there in the Bronx that day last year when NOM's invited speaker declared that gay people should be put to death, first in Spanish, then in English via the onstage translator. When I heard the translation, I whipped my head around to see Brian Brown smiling and rocking his heels as he nodded in approval.

Jervis has another one, this time from conspiracy theorist Dana Loesch. This time, we're at war with religion, which is a concept that I find ludicrous in the extreme. It's really nothing more than pandering on Loesch's part, in a particularly cheap manner. (For my own part, I'm admittedly not terribly observant, but I am very devout -- I can honestly say that my religious beliefs form the basis of my behavior. I'm just not a "Christian" -- or even a Christian.)

At any rate, that's enough to give you the drift: Perkins is projecting like crazy because he sees a way to capitalize on an unfortunate incident, and like his comrades in the anti-gay industry, is demanding that someone else take responsibility for the climate he has created. It's his usual tactic -- blame somebody else. But he does get the quote of the day on this one:

Asked by reporters why he thought the shooter was motivated by his distate for the group rather than mental incapacity, Perkins quipped, “How many unhinged individuals walk around with 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches?”

I would think the answer to that one would be obvious.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

As Expected

While the reaction from gay groups to the shooting at FRC headquarters in Washington has been to condemn the violence, the reaction from the various anti-gay "Christian" groups has been to condemn -- gays.

David Badash has collected the comments at The New Civil Rights Movement. Here's just a few of the more outrageous:

First, Bryan Fischer (the public face of recognized hate group American Family Association), gets a Through the Looking Glass Award for this one:

If SPLC is right, that using irresponsible language re: homosexuality causes violence, then they to blame for FRC shooting.

— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) August 15, 2012

Talk about turning things on their heads. That doesn't even make sense.

And here's a good example of psychological projection, from none other than Matt Barber:

Efforts by @splcenter & @glaad to dehumanize Christians & equate biblical truth to “hate” are working. You have blood on your hands #FRC

— Matt Barber (@jmattbarber) August 15, 2012

That's Matthew Barber, head of Liberty University Law School, which has been named in a RICO suit filed by Janet Jenkins over the kidnapping of Isabella Miller-Jenkins.

And of course, you can't malign the gays without Peter LaBarbera:

Shooting at Family Research Council: now how long will it take homo’l zealots like Joe Jervis to blame FRC for staging its own hate crime?!

— Peter LaBarbera (@PeterLaBarbera) August 15, 2012

Does LaBarbera know something we don't? Just asking.

These guys must love Twitter -- they can just do sound-bites without ever having to back anything up with facts. Not that they ever do anyway.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Compare and Contrast

In the wake of the shooting at the FRC offices in Washington, D.C. this morning, it's instructive to look at the responses. Via Metro Weekly, we get a good look.

First, about two dozen gay advocacy groups have issued a joint statement:

We were saddened to hear news of the shooting this morning at the offices of the Family Research Council. Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family, and his co-workers.

The motivation and circumstances behind today’s tragedy are still unknown, but regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence. We wish for a swift and complete recovery for the victim of this terrible incident.

Of course, then there's Brian Brown of NOM:

"Today's attack is the clearest sign we've seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as 'hateful' must end," said Brown. "The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Family Research Council a 'hate group' for its pro-marriage views, and less than a day ago the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement calling FRC a 'hate group'—they even specified that FRC hosts events in Washington, DC, where today's attack took place."

Brown said that for "too long national gay rights groups have intentionally marginalized and ostracized pro-marriage groups and individuals by labeling them as 'hateful' and 'bigoted.'"

I must point out that the SPLC was quite clear that it did not label FRC a hate group for its "pro-marriage" views. It labeled FRC a hate group because of its consistent pattern of using lies, misrepresentations and distortions to demonize LGBT people.

And can you say "projection"?

What About Medicare?

The Romney/Ryan budget turns it into a voucher system -- and the vouchers cover less and less of the premiums as time goes on. So how are R&R pitching it? They're lying about it.

If you want to look at the reality of the Obama Medicare "cuts," check this article by Sara Kliff:
It’s worth noting that there’s one area these cuts don’t touch: Medicare benefits. The Affordable Care Act rolls back payment rates for hospitals and insurers. It does not, however, change the basket of benefits that patients have access to. And, as Ezra pointed out earlier today, the Ryan budget would keep these cuts in place.

The Ryan budget would keep the cuts in place, but would use them to lower tax rates for billionaires.

And for a good analysis of the R&R plan in general, check this post from Mahablog. It's mostly a link dump, with quotes. But then, she's done it so I don't have to.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Word Salad

Or a reasonable facsimile thereof. There really ought to be an award for this, but I can't think what to call it. The Sarah Palin Award?

From NOM's very own Ruth Institute:

REI is the latest corporation to take a stand against biological parenthood by supporting redefining marriage. Any company and any individual who supports redefining marriage is opposing your right as a biological parent. Biological parenthood says your rights come from God. REI, Starbucks, Best Buy, Nike, Microsoft, Google, Proctor & Gamble… the list is quite extensive and they are all in opposition to the biological status of parents. They may or may not know this. But that is the what will happen if marriage is redefined. And they will be responsible for the resulting harms.

WTF? "Biological parenthood says your rights come from God"? What does that mean?

Via Joe.My.God. Joe also points out that the Ruth Institute post concludes by "glumly" linking to this Wikipedia entry on corporate support for same-sex marriage. It's quite an impressive list, headed by a disclaimer that it's not complete.

It seems to me that anyone who didn't have her head firmly planted up her ass would figure that she's missing something.

Why Societies? And How Should They Work?

This article by Benjamin Hale is worth reading. It touches on my basic question: "Why do people form societies?" It's a slightly different angle of approach, but it forms a good working basis to answer the question.

Rawls charged his readers to design a society from the ground up, from an original position, and he imposed the ignorance constraint so that readers would abandon any foreknowledge of their particular social status — their wealth, their health, their natural talents, their opportunities or any other goodies that the cosmos may have thrown their way. In doing so, he hoped to identify principles of justice that would best help individuals maximize their potential, fulfill their objectives (whatever they may happen to be) and live a good life. He called this presumption the “veil of ignorance.”

The idea behind the veil of ignorance is relatively simple: to force us to think outside of our parochial personal concerns in order that we consider others. What Rawls saw clearly is that it is not easy for us to put ourselves in the position of others. We tend to think about others always from our own personal vantage; we tend to equate another person’s predicament with our own. Imagining what it must be like to be poor, for instance, we import presumptions about available resources, talents and opportunities — encouraging, say, the homeless to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and to just get a job, any job, as if getting a job is as simple as filling out an application. Meanwhile, we give little thought to how challenging this can be for those who suffer from chronic illnesses or disabling conditions. What Rawls also saw clearly was that other classic principles of justice, like the golden rule or mutual benevolence, are subject to distortion precisely because we tend to do this.

It's long and needs your attention, but if you're interested in the basis of the dichotomy in our political discourse these days, it'll give you some good grounding.


Footnote: This post from John Rogers sort of puts the whole question in a very immediate perspective.

Paul Ryan's family fortune was based on being paid by the government to build highways, he's never had a job other than "Congressman", none of his budget numbers add up -- at all -- and he's trying to push a budget that would raise taxes on the middle class, hand giant tax breaks to the rich, gut the country's infrastructure, and end Medicare -- which no matter what shit they sling at you is the plan because strangely, his plan doesn't apply to anybody over 55. Why not, if it's so awesome? Because old folk know bullshit when they smell it, that's why.

And why is he pursuing these policies? Because, well, "job creators."

You know what? I type for a living, and my stupid little typing creates a couple hundred jobs. I'm an actual job creator, which was the last damn thing anybody (including my perpetually surprised father) expected when I started telling jokes in bars. And I don't think that raising my tax rate by 3.4% (back the bad old Clinton Socialism Rate) so you, my fellow citizen, won't lose your fucking house when your kid gets cancer, or maybe we get a functioning power grid or roads that wouldn't be substandard in ZIMBABWE is "socialism". It's basic. Goddam. Decency.

When the hell did we get talked out of that?


Just "Wow."

Check this out.

You know, there's a lot more to "nature" than we realized.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Quote of the Day

A little something for the captains of industry (and a couple of presidential candidates) to ponder:

But Shelly Krebs, an attorney in Vancouver, Wash., who did Isabel and Logan’s adoptions, made the Hams an offer. She would handle the adoptions of the 10 other kids for about the cost of one.

Reached by phone last week, Krebs brushed aside what she had done as her work: “I basically made happen what could happen under the law.”

She helps place children with no families into stable homes where they will be cared for by parents who love them — in this case, both parents.

“As a businessperson, it’s a little more paperwork, and it’s a little more time for me,” Krebs says, and pauses. “The world is not always about time and money.”

Read the article.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Little Slow on the Uptake, There

Rmember the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, and the mess they managed to make when they decided to stop funding Planned Parenthood? Well, it looks like they finally figured out the consequences.

On Wednesday, the Dallas-based breast-cancer charity announced that its president, Elizabeth Thompson, was resigning. Founder and chief executive Nancy Brinker said she would relinquish her post after a replacement is found, and two Komen board members also said they are leaving.

Brinker expects us to believe that she, the foundation’s president and two board members just happen to decide to move on at the same time? That’s what Komen told its affiliates Wednesday, in a perfect example of the kind of forethought that got them into this mess.

I wouldn't call it "forethought" so much as a complete lack of thought.

You might remember that Brinker is very wealthy and very Republican -- a prime example of the 1%.

Does that tell you anything about the way this was handled?

At Random

Just a few things that caught my eye this morning.

First, from Dave Dayen, the skinny on health-care cost increases vis-a-vis Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance -- the short form:

The New England Journal of Medicine reports that Medicare and Medicaid spending has decelerated in recent years, and not just because of the Great Recession. The public programs have seen their cost growth slow significantly compared to private health insurance. And this is expected to continue for the coming decade.

This is so important because, as Paul van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains, the public debate has focused on transforming Medicare and Medicaid in the coming years, constraining cost in the very programs that are the most cost-efficient. If anything, the opposite should be true, and more and more of the system should be converted into public programs to increase the risk pool, allow for greater bargaining leverage on prices, and provide stability.

From a couple of days ago, Equality Illinois has gone to the fair:

There is nothing so quintessentially all-American than the State Fair. Moms and Pops with kiddies in tow are treated to award winning sheep and cantaloupes, midway carnival rides, and food booths full of kettle corn, Belgian waffles, and deep fried artery-clogging delight.

And this year, along with listening to the sweet sounds of the Steve Miller Band or Blue Oyster Cult, watching the Twilight Parade, and betting on your favorite pony in the horse races, you can also stop by the Equality Illinois/Lambda Legal booth and pick up an “I Do” sticker to show your support for marriage equality.

You'll inevitably hear cries from the radical left about how gays are allowing themselves to be "mainstreamed," as though there were something wrong with being an integral part of the culture. That's the whole point, and it's been the whole point from Stonewall on. I think it's a brilliant move on the part of Equality Illinois.

The Perseids. Damn! I miss them every year. If you're someplace you can actually see the night sky, check this out. Chicago has too much ambient light, unless I want to hike over to the lake. (I actually did that one year, only to discover that the sky over the lake was completely overcast.)

And more science. If you thought your parrot was smart, you were right. From Smithsonian:

When we think about the smartest animals, chimpanzees are usually the first to come to mind. Experiments show that they can memorize sequences of numbers, learn the meaning of words and associate particular voices with specific faces. Crucially, previous studies have found that chimps and other apes are the only non-human animals capable of making abstract logical inferences based on cues from their environment.

A new experiment, though, might make us recognize that an entirely different species belongs in this exclusive group: the African grey parrot.

I don't do enough entries on science here. Have to fix that.

And finally, manga/amime. Jan Suzukawa has a good heads-up on the release of the new Ai no Kusabi. It's a solid, very informative post on the series. That's one that I've always meant to get to and never quite managed to -- it's not easy to find online, and I do like to check them out before I buy them.

Speaking of which, I really need to get back to my adaptations of the German editions -- Ze 7 arrived, and I'm still in the middle of Der Beste Liebhaber.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Connecting the Dots (Update)

Interesting array of stories this morning.

First, Romney is set to announce his VP choice this morning. It's been leaked that it's going to be Paul Ryan (R-Purina), a/k/a "The Republican Death Wish." (Not my line -- I've seen it at least two other places this morning.)

If it is Ryan, the Ryan Budget just became the central campaign issue.

"Death wish" seems an understatement.

(PS -- Paul Ryan is a good match for Romney on gay rights -- he has a 0% score from HRC, 90% from FRC, a recognized anti-gay hate group.)

I get the feeling that Romney is still running a primary campaign.

Next was this story, about some guerrilla billboards in Las Vegas:

Note how the Fox News commentators are very carefully calling these signs "vandalism." How is this related to Romney and Ryan? Think "vulture capitalist." Think slashing programs that support the poor and middle class (which are rapidly becoming indistinguishable). Think the ticket for the 1%. And lest you think this is purely an anti-Romney post, get a load of this article at C&L:
After a yearlong investigation, the Justice Department said Thursday that it won't bring charges against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. or any of its employees for financial fraud related to the mortgage crisis.
 In a statement, the Justice Department said "the burden of proof" couldn't be met to prosecute Goldman criminally based on claims made in an extensive report prepared by a U.S. Senate panel that investigated the financial crisis.
"Based on the law and evidence as they exist at this time, there is not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution with respect to Goldman Sachs or its employees in regard to the allegations set forth in the report," the statement read.
The Justice Department reserved the right to bring charges in the future if new evidence emerges.
In a statement Thursday, Goldman said: "We are pleased that this matter is behind us."
In April 2011, the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations published a scathing report on the financial crisis, highlighting Goldman as a culprit. Lawmakers accused the firm of breeding a greedy culture and running conflict-ridden businesses, and they said Goldman put its own interest ahead of clients.
Sen. Carl Levin, D., Mich., chairman of the Senate's subcommittee, said Goldman executives lied to Congress about the firm's bets against the housing market. The accusation triggered a Justice Department probe of possible perjury.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Levin's office didn't respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The report concluded that even as securities firms flooded the market with securitized mortgages and advised clients to buy them, firms privately used words like "crap" and "flying pig" to describe the financial instruments. The department's probe was launched when Goldman's reputation already had been battered by civil-fraud charges filed against the New York company by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC accused Goldman of fraud related to a mortgage-bond deal called Abacus 2007-AC1.
Goldman was accused of failing to inform investors that hedge-fund firm Paulson & Co. had helped choose underlying securities in the deal and was betting against it.
Goldman agreed to pay $550 million to end the SEC's civil-fraud suit. The company said marketing materials for the Abacus deal contained "incomplete information."
For a change, the talking heads are right -- both sides do it. Update: It's Ryan, and the left-wing blogs -- even some of the not-so-left-wing blogs -- are creaming in their pants. Watch Obama's people fumble it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Through the Looking Glass

Another TGL Award, this time to the leader of the Presbyterian Church in Australia. From Pink News:

As Australia prepares to propose marriage equality, the Reverend David Jones told Melbourne’s Herald Sun:

“We continually are told that the legalisation of same-sex marriage would end perceived discrimination against same-sex couples who are currently not able to marry under federal government law.

“But at least from the church perspective, opposition to such legalisation has nothing to do with discrimination. Plain and simply, Christians oppose same-sex marriage because the Bible, the word of the God who created male and female and also created marriage, clearly and distinctly says that marriage is between one man and one woman – which means not between two men or two women.”

I'm beginning to think that the American and Australian versions of English are mutually incomprehensible. Dictionary.com defines discrimination thus:

[T]treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.

That's pretty much what I've always thought it meant, but apparently there's a different meaning in Australia that's completely the opposite of what the word means in America. Or maybe it's like the idea that American "Christians" have about being called bigots See, in their minds, it's apparently OK to be bigoted if the Bible says it's OK.

In short, all I can say to Reverend David Jones is "Fine, your Bible says it's OK to discriminate. You're still discriminating."

I'll be generous and just suggest that the Reverend doesn't get it.


The Battle Continues

Now fifteen states have joined the fight to bring marriage equality to the Supreme Court. From HuffPo:

Referring to the First Circuit's holding that Section 3 of DOMA has no demonstrated link to its purported goals of strengthening heterosexual marriage as a "startling conclusion," the brief says the First Circuit "answered the wrong questions" to reach its decision, because in the states' view, "the panel below simply needed to ask why Congress sought to incentivize traditional marriages and whether that rationale extends to same-sex couples." In their view, the case turns on whether there are important differences between same-sex and opposite-sex couples, and they offer the ability to procreate as one important distinction. To the states the definition of marriage is "based on an understanding that civil marriage recognition arises from the need to encourage biological parents to remain together for the sake of their children." The 15 states argue that there is no government interest in promoting marriage just for the sake of it, without reference to procreative purposes. And they suggest that because same-sex couples can't procreate, it's reasonable to leave the distinction of being "married" solely to opposite-sex couples.

There are so many holes in this I don't know where to begin.

First of all, the "procreation" argument just simply doesn't pertain. Look at the out-of-wedlock births statistics for, say, Texas, and tell me that people need a license to make babies. As for providing a safe, nurturing environment for raising children, same-sex couples are just as capable of that as opposite-sex couples, Mark Regnerus' hit job notwithstanding. And, as I may have pointed out before, gay men and lesbians are perfectly able to procreate, and there are at this point hundreds, if not thousands, of couples raising children conceived either through IVF or surrogacy. (Or, for that matter, the old-fashioned way.)

The idea that the definition of marriage as an opposite-sex only institution is based on a need to encourage biological parents to remain together is simply nonsensical -- DOMA does nothing on that score, and there's no indication that recognition of same-sex marriages will somehow discourage opposite-sex couples from getting married -- for whatever reasons they may have.

I picked this up from the brief:

Review is justified not only because the decision below invalidated a federal statute, but also because it denies any relationship between DOMA and responsible procreation, and thereby casts doubt on all traditional marriage laws.
(Emphasis added.)

As far as anyone has been able to determine, there is no relationship between DOMA and responsible procreation.

Be interesting to see how this turns out -- and with this Court, who knows?

Here's the brief:

12-13 Fifteen States

Thursday, August 09, 2012

In Science News

This, from The Independent:

The history of human evolution is more complex than previously supposed, according to fossils showing that several species of early man once lived cheek by jowl in the same region of East Africa.

Scientists have excavated three new fossils – a face and two jawbone fragments – indicating that at least two other species of human lived between 1.78m and 1.95m years ago at the same time as our direct ancestors. The discovery emphasises the complicated nature of human evolution, which has been likened to an intricate family tree of related species rather than a simple sequential line of direct descent.

The articles a little dumbed down, but the news is sort of exciting. The comments are a scream.

Silly or Profound?

Found this at AmericaBlog, and I just love it:

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Mat Staver Award

Given to the person who exhibits the most blatant psychological projection. Named after Mat Staver because of this (via Pam Spaulding):

Both Barber and Staver asserted that supporters of marriage equality refuse to engage in any sort of debate on this topic because, as Staver said, “they can’t dialogue on it from a logical perspective and so they want to shout you down and shut you up and push you out of business so that you can’t even practice your profession, pursue your calling, operate your business, or do you daily life”

Sounds very much like Mat Staver, to me.

Through the Looking Glass Award

Remember that one? I thought I'd revive it. And we have two winners this morning.

First, from NOM's Jonathan Baker (via Zack Ford at The New Civil Rights Movement), this shining example of scary predictions:

The General Mills blog gives additional information that should give us pause: in addition to things like recipes, healthy eating, fitness and diet and nutrition—things you would expect a food company to cover—the site will cover mind and body issues and relationships. Look for these lifestyle, mind and body, and relationship articles to start off in a very benign manner (who thinks we don’t need a little more exercise?), but expect before long a transition into a renewed effort pushing for the redefinition of marriage and family in subtle and not so subtle ways.

Yep. In NOM land, everything that might benefit people is a dark plot to not only push for marriage equality, but to recognize that gay people exist and are just as human as you and I. What a dastardly, underhanded move by General Mills.

And tied for first place is this gem from the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell's "watchdog" group devoted to making sure that the media only give us pure thoughts. Again, via Zack Ford:

On Thursday morning, the networks continued their smear campaign against Cathy as an anti-gay bigot and Chick-fil-A’s Christian principals as hate speech. CBS This Morning’s anchor Charlie Rose vilified patrons as anti-gay, stating that “thousands went there to eat and to make a statement – a statement against same sex marriage.” On Friday morning, Good Morning America’s Steve Osunsami similarly slandered Chick-fil-A and its leadership, mischaracterizing Chick-fil-A’s pro-traditional marriage stance as a “fight against gay Americans and gay marriage.”

Well, Dan Cathy is an anti-gay bigot -- he's quite proud of it, in fact. And Chick-fil-A's charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, donates quite heavily to anti-gay groups, including recognized hate groups. No bigotry there, no sirree!

Apparently Bozell is taking a leaf from Newt Gingrich's book -- the page that says "If you quote me, that's hate speech." And as for the patrons, as Ford points out:

In almost every media interview with participants in “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” they expressed that they opposed the freedom to marry, and that that was exactly why they felt the need to support Chick-fil-A.

Here's a brief bit on customer statements:

Gay and lesbian employees of Chick-fil-A had perhaps the most disheartening reaction to the day. An Alabama gay staffer named Andrew described the day as “hater appreciation day,” calling it “very, very depressing.” A gay employee at the company’s headquarters in Atlanta heard a customer say, “I’m so glad you don’t support the queers, I can eat in peace.” Another in Colorado had customers telling him, “I support your company, because your company hates the gays.” Many report experiencing homophobia not just from customers, but from fellow employees as well.

Bozell must be getting dizzy from his own spin.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Another Ant-Gay Protest (Snicker)

I was thinking about titling this one "The Competence of the Right."

Do I really need to say anything?

Monday, August 06, 2012

The Race Is On

Suddenly, same-sex marriage is in the offing for a whole slew of countries.


France’s prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told parliament today that gay couples will be permitted to marry and adopt children in 2013.

Mr Ayrault was making a keynote speech setting out the socialist government’s five-year political and social agenda.

“In the first half of 2013, the right to marriage and adoption will be open to all couples, without discrimination,” he said.

“Our society is evolving, lifestyles and mentalities are changing. The government will respond to that.”


The government will bring forward legislation that would allow gay couples to marry in civil ceremonies and religious ceremonies where faiths choose to permit it. The majority of MSPs have pledged to support such a change in the law.

The law would make Scotland the first part of the UK to allow gay couples to wed and would remove the need for trans people to divorce and form civil partnerships if they transition while married.

Australia (or at least, Tasmania):

“We will be leading the way for the rest of Australia to follow,” [Premier Lara] Giddings, 39, told a ruling state Labor Party conference in Hobart on Aug. 4, vowing to make the change this term. “There are nations across the world who have already taken this step, some of whom that you would not believe would have done this in advance of a nation like our own.”


Uruguay is expected to debate legislation which would legalize gay marriage before the end of the year.

Paul Maqueira of the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) told El Pais that an initial draft of the measure had already been prepared.

“The idea is to promote a marriage equality project so that gay couples have equal access to marriage as heterosexuals,” he said.

Maqueira declined to say when the proposal might reach lawmakers but said he felt this would happen “before the end of the year.”

The move comes a week after a court in Uruguay for the first time recognized the legal marriage of a gay couple.

And -- Vietnam?

Communist Vietnam is considering legalising same-sex marriage, which would catapult it to the fore of gay rights in Asia, where traditional values dominate many societies and sodomy is illegal in some.

While homosexuality was once viewed as a "social evil" in the authoritarian nation, it is slowly shedding its taboo status.

In the most visible sign yet of change, about 100 cyclists waving rainbow flags pedalled through Hanoi on Sunday for Vietnam's first ever gay pride parade, shouting: "We support same-sex marriage".

Next year, lawmakers in the one-party state are set to amend the country's marriage legislation and the justice minister said recently they would consider including same-sex couples in the law for the first time.

Granted, Vietnam is kind of iffy, because Asia in general is very conservative on gay rights, but still -- puts it way ahead of Texas.

Here's the list to date, in chronological order:

Netherlands (2001)
Belgium (2003)
Spain (2005)
Canada (2005)
South Africa (2006)
Norway (2009)
Sweden (2009)
Portugal (2010)
Iceland (2010)
Argentina (2010)
Denmark (2012)
Mexico (recognized nation-wide, only performed in Mexico City)
Nepal (ordered by the courts, but not yet in law)
Japan (recognizes marriages of citizens performed in other countries, no marriages performed in Japan)

OK -- Did I miss anyone?

A$$holes du Jour

Fox News, of course.

A Fox News anchor hosted a segment with a Tea Party leader and claimed U.S. Olympic gold medal winner Gabby Douglas and others aren’t showing enough patriotism because their uniforms aren’t covered in stars and stripes.

And of course, we all know that Olympic competitors all design their own uniforms. Always.

This puts me in mind of a post from Pam Spaulding a couple of days ago.

Poor Gabby Douglas. She is rightfully celebrating the fact that she set a historical precedent of Olympic athletic achievement as a woman of color — the first black woman to take the all-around individual title in gymnastics. But in the wake of her win, she is mocked by members of her own community on social media about her hairstyle and its upkeep. So unreal. And not surprising. As I’ve blogged before, kinky natural hair is political.

So we've got racism on the right (no surprise there) and authoritarian identity politics on the left (no surprise there, either).

So here we have a sixteen-year-old girl who has just set a historical precedent as the first black woman to take an all-around gold medal in gymnastics, and all these losers can do, when they should be celebrating, is carp over bullshit details.

These should all be today's "Disgusting People,", but somehow that title seemed more appropriate.

Nothing New Here

It seems that the Catholic hierarchy of Scotland is just as bereft of honesty as the Catholic hierarchy of the U.S. This, from the Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen:

Hugh Gilbert, the Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen who said he ‘loved’ gay people told the Scottish Catholic Observer: “Why is it alright for a man to marry another man, but not alright for him to marry two women? If we really want equality, why does that equality not extend to nieces who genuinely, truly love their uncles?”

Another slippery slope. This is the kind of argument we've heard too much of here (and isn't it interesting that the ones who are talking about legalizing polygamy and incest are all "Christians"?), and it's just as dishonest and disingenuous in Scotland as it is in New York.

First off, no one is pushing to legalize polygamy or incest. We can talk about that when it happens.

Second, societies define marriage to suit their needs. They always have. And in response to those who claim that "marriage is defined by God" -- um, no. Sorry, but if you to the least little bit of reading on the subject, it becomes quite clear that marriage is a purely human institution that existed in some form long before there was an established church. And what people have defined, they can redefine whenever they damned well please. (And in fact, if marriage is defined by God, why did it take the Christian church 1300 years to recognize it as a sacrament?)

As for the Catholic hierarchy in Scotland, it's the same old story -- they're faced with a loss of power and influence, and they're getting, as the Germans say, all ausgeflipt about it. So, like the American bishops and the American evangelical "Christians," they're searching for some way to scare people.

Tacky. That's really tacky. Especially coming from an institution as morally bankrupt as the Catholic Church.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Quote of the Day

“If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.”
— Alice Roosevelt Longworth

With thanks to Kathleen Geier at Washington Monthly.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Chik-fil-A (Update)

I am really sick of this. It's another non-event blown completely out of proportion -- a media circus in which both the right and the left get to smile pretty for the camera. And the media, since it has nothing better to do, is lapping it up.

Let me summarize:

CFA CEO Dan Cathy stated quite bluntly his anti-gay beliefs. OK, fine -- he's allowed to say what he wants. He's allowed to believe what he wants. (And let me point out something here: religious belief is a choice.)

The left is up in arms. Well, that's only to be expected. If the left were more effective, someone might actually pay attention -- besides the aforementioned media.

The right is screaming "Free speech!" and "Freedom of religion!" Well, sure -- Dan Cathy's allowed to say what he wants. He's not insulated from the consequences. As for his beliefs, as disgusting as they are, he's allowed those, too -- and no one on the left has said he's not. The right is once again madly whipping together a nice dish of red herring. (I wonder if that comes with waffle fries.) Update: Here's a good commentary from David Neiwert on the whole "free speech" nonsense.

(It's worth noting that those civic leaders who have made threats against CFA opening outlets in their cities have backed off of those threats pretty rapidly. They know they're out of line, but it does make some nice headlines, now, doesn't it?)

The argument has been made that Chik-fil-A outlets are franchises, independently operated. (Note, though, that they are not independently owned.) However, there's some question as to how "independent" they are: it seems that potential franchisees are rather heavily vetted to make sure they conform to the corporate "family" values -- ideally, they are bigoted in the same ways that Dan Cathy is. Ditto for employees. (Like the woman in Georgia who was fired so she would be a stay-at-home mom. Wonder if that fool boss of hers ever asked himself what her family was going to live on -- although that may come too close to dealing with objective reality for him to manage.) And, as for the lame attempt at damage control -- "we are committed to giving the best service to all of our customers without discrimination" -- there's no evidence to support it. Quite the opposite.

And there's also the fact that the Chik-fil-A "charitable" arm, the Win-Shape Foundation, has donated over $5 million to anti-gay causes, including recognized hate groups.

So there are "kiss-in" scheduled for today at Chik-fil-A outlets. Gods! You want an effective protest? Hand out leaflets detailing the groups that Chik-fil-A funds, detailing the lawsuits against them for violation of discrimination laws, detailing their employment practices, and the like. Perhaps I have too much faith in humanity, but it seems to me that most people, unlike fundamentalists, will take facts into account.

Anything else is just posturing.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

This By You Is Journalism?

Granted, it's an "opinion" piece, but once upon a time even opinion pieces had to have some grounding in reality. This piece by Dennis Byrne for the Chicago Tribune is notable not only for its blatant one-sidedness, but for the inflammatory language Byrne uses.

First, a gross exaggeration of the study's substance:

This is a debate-changing study, especially because it challenges more recent court findings in which judges cite the "no difference evidence" as a reason for overturning laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman.

No, it's not that at all. One key factor that Byrne conveniently forgets to mention is that the internal audit by Social Science Research, the journal that published the study, found that the peer-review process was badly flawed, marked by numerous conflicts of interest, and that the study itself is so bereft of scientific integrity that it never should have been published.

[Daniel E.] Sherkat was given access to all the reviews and correspondence connected with the paper, and was told the identities of the reviewers. According to Sherkat, Regnerus’s paper should never have been published. His assessment of it, in an interview, was concise: “It’s bullshit,” he said.

I find it hard to believe that Byrne was unaware of this, since it's been widely publicized -- but judging from his post, he limits his reading to The Weekly Standard and NOM's blog.

As for the rest of his post, it's pretty bad -- playing the victim card on Regnerus' behalf, lambasting those who have quite legitimate concerns about the closed circle of funders, consultants, and advocates (one notable link is Prof. Robert E. George, a major opponent of marriage equality and a co-founder of NOM), not to mention Regnerus' own statements that his religious beliefs "inform" his research, and dismissing the challenges to Regenerus' methodology, which are quite germane.

Another reason why I seldom read the Trib.