"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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

KABOOM! (Updated)

That was the sound of yet another shoe dropping. The Justice Department has filed a brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry in support of the Respondents (Perry, et al.) It's a good strong one, based on 14th Amendment Equal Protection requirements and calling for heightened scrutiny.

12-144tsacUnitedStates by towleroad

Via Towleroad.

Update: If you don't believe me, here's the New York Times:

The Obama administration threw its support behind a broad claim for marriage equality on Thursday, and urged the Supreme Court to rule that voters in California were not entitled to ban same-sex marriage there.

In a forceful argument, the administration claimed that denying gay couples the right to marry violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause. It said that Proposition 8, the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, should be subjected to “heightened scrutiny” — a tough test for any law — and stated flatly that “Proposition 8 fails heightened scrutiny.”

The gloves are off.

Today's Must Read

From Joe.My.God. I'm going to follow Joe's lead and just say "Read it."

I have nothing else to say.

The Ballooning Deficit

Well, not exactly. Check this segment of Rachel Maddow to see what's really happening. (Hint: it's not getting bigger.)

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

Please note that the mainstream press is aiding and abetting this whole propaganda effort. Via David Atkins at Hullabaloo. And here's Digby on the public response to actual plans for dealing with the mess that is the sequester.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You've Probably Noticed

that weighing in before the Supreme Court on DOMA and Prop 8 has become very fashionable. Here's a nice summary from Bloomberg.

The administration has filed a brief opposing DOMA. Now everyone's waiting to see if they will jump in on Prop 8.

On a side note, the Executive Committee of the Illinois House has passed the marriage bill, although by a closer margin than I like -- 6-5. But then, this is after some really hateful testimony from all the usual suspects. Now on to the full House. Jeremy Hooper has a clip of some of that testimony.

Cute du Jour

Just to get away from the train wreck that is Washington.

Via Towleroad.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tofay's Must Read

This post by John Aravosis at AmericaBlog on one of the front-runners for pope -- Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who is not only a homophobe but a racist as well.

Cardinal Turkson was asked about the Catholic church’s ongoing pedophile scandal, and whether there was a chance the scandal might spread to Africa – most of the cases have been in western Europe and America.

Turkson’s response included two basic parts:

1. The pedophile scandal is really a gay scandal.

2. It’s a white thing, so black Africa shouldn’t have a problem.

The ignorance revealed by these statements is staggering. I often wonder that contemporary Africans are so brain-washed that they strenuously try to maintain the worst aspects of colonial rule, claiming them as "African traditions."

Read the whole thing -- it's pretty appalling. The only hopeful note is that if they elect someone like this joker as pope, the Church is finished in the West. Of course, that doesn't bode well for Africa. Latin America, which Aravosis points to as the other big Catholic region, has a distanced relationship with the Church, largely a reflection of its history: the Church was firmly on the side of the oppressors and seems to have as much influence politically as the Church in the U.S. and Europe, which is to say next to none.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013


That was the sound of the other shoe dropping: the administration has filed a brief in Windsor arguing that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional. Here's the full document, which I can't embed.

Update: Found the embed code. Here's the brief:

Windsor - United States merits brief by Chris Geidner

This is the first time that an administration has filed in support of the rights of same-sex couples. Not bad for a president who is arguably one of the worst, if not the worst, for civil rights in history.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Perry Respondents Merits Brief

Here it is:

Perry Respondents' Merits Brief by Chris Geidner

They demolish the Proponents in the first five pages. I can hardly wait to see how Cooper responds to this. He might as well stick his head in a wood chipper.

I may buy a Kindle

Just because of this:

'Nuff said?

(Outrage from OneMillionMoms in 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . Oh, and Brian Brown? Go ahead and boycott Amazon.)

And from my comment at Joe.My.God. (with thanks for the heads up) -- "Which husband is which?"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oh, By the Way

Mississippi has ratified the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- that's the one that bans slavery. That brings the state firmly into the last half of the nineteenth century.

I Can't Deal With This Any More

"This" being the ongoing attempts in Washington to destroy what's left of the middle class and turn the good ol' U. S. of A into Nicaragua ca. 1930. Read Digby's posts from yesterday if you want to raise your blood pressure, here, here, here, and here.

Meanwhile, the Washington press corps, who theoretically are those in the best position to keep us informed about these shenanigans, are outraged at lack of access to the President -- while he's playing golf.

The whole damned country's turned into one huge game of Trivia.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Which Quote Is From The Onion?


"Though grave and terrible sins have been committed, our Lord teaches us to turn the other cheek and forgive those who sin against us," said the pope, reading a prepared statement from a balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square. "That is why, despite the terrible wrongs they have committed, the church must move on and forgive these children for their misdeeds."

"As Jesus said, 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,'" the pope continued. "We must send a clear message to these hundreds—perhaps thousands—of children whose sinful ways have tempted so many of the church's servants into lustful violation of their holy vows of celibacy. The church forgives them for their transgressions and looks upon them not with intolerance, but compassion."

Or this?
I am not being called to serve Jesus in humility. Rather, I am being called to something deeper--to be humiliated, disgraced, and rebuffed by many.

I was not ready for this challenge. Ash Wednesday changed all of that, and I see Lent 2013 as a special time to reflect deeply upon this special call by Jesus.

To be honest with you, I have not reached the point where I can actually pray for more humiliation. I'm only at the stage of asking for the grace to endure the level of humiliation at the moment.

In the past several days, I have experienced many examples of being humiliated. In recent days, I have been confronted in various places by very unhappy people. I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage--at me, at the Church, at about injustices that swirl around us.

Thanks to God's special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them.

We report. You decide.

Footnote: Chris in Paris has a run-down of just how arrogant, hypocritical and self-serving the Church has been throughout the molestation scandals.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Idiot du Jour

Janet Mefferd. I haven't mentioned her here yet, but she seems to be one of the more out-there bigots in a population known for its lack of acquaintance with rational thought. This little screed is so patently ridiculous that one begins to think she's doing satire -- except I suspect she doesn't understand satire at all.

“Everything is so upside down in our society now and right and wrong have completely switched where what is really wrong is to say you shouldn’t have two boys allowed to go to the high school prom.

“Now we can get into a big issue of the public schools are morally bankrupt at this point and we all ought to exit and just let them, let them do their thing, and that may be the ultimate answer; on the other hand, I feel for these Christian kids who are in a prom or kids who are at this high school who say, ‘you know something, do we have to go down this road?’

She went on to suggest that some Christians would not want to see gay couples, and asked why gay rights should “trump” the rights of Christians not to have to, reports Right Wing Watch.

“Whether the homosexual activists like it or not, and I know this isn’t politically correct to say this, but not everybody wants to see that. I know that that’s offensive to the activist crowd, they want us all to see it, they want us all to approve of it, they want us all to call it blessed and okay and rejoice and have parties and throw confetti in the air over this whole thing. But the fact of the matter is it’s a moral issue.”

The moral issue here, as far as I can see it, is the tendency to portray other human beings as abstractions, to remove their humanity so that one can safely treat them as objects. And the idea that anyone has a "right" not to have to see something that might be offensive -- which is a growing trend among self-styled "Christians," although seldom so baldly stated -- is ludicrous. It's part of the attempt to cast criticism of their nastiness as a violation of their right to free speech. Sorry -- no one has a right not to be offended.

The scary part is that people actually listen to her. Without laughing, I mean. What's even scarier is that some of them think this kind of word salad actually makes sense.

Oh, and Ms. Mefferd? "If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

It's About Time

Someone was asking the bank regulators some hard questions:

When she was campaigning to become the next U.S. senator to represent Massachusetts, Democrat Elizabeth Warren pledged that she would take her tough talk about enforcing Wall Street regulations to Washington and put them into action.

On Thursday, as Senator Warren got the opportunity to question regulators at her first Senate Banking Committee hearing, she bluntly asked "When did you last take... a large financial institution, a Wall Street bank, to trial?"

Here she is in action. Something tells me the regulators weren't ready for this.

I am so glad Elizabeth Warren is in the Senate. We need more like her.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Maybe They Deserve That Meteor

This is just too funny:

Gay rights activists with a vendetta against masculinity are behind plans to cut wrestling from the Olympic program, the coach of a London 2012 gold medal-winner told R-Sport on Tuesday.

The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board voted Tuesday to cut wrestling from the list of 25 confirmed sports for the 2020 Games and forced it to reapply as part of a group of eight sports fighting for a single place.

“If they expel wrestling now, that means that gays will soon run the whole world,” coach Vladimir Uruimagov said, calling the decision “a blow to masculine origins.”

He added: “It turns out this committee is headed by representative of these minorities," clarifying that he meant sexual minorities.

Stop -- my sides hurt.

Marriage in Illinois (Link Dump)

The Senate passed the marriage equality bill 34-21. Now it goes to the House, where passage is probable, but not completely assured. If it all works, we'll have marriage equality in Illinois by May.

The professional gay-bashers are foaming at the mouth, but notably absent is any comment from Peter LaBarbera, who you will remember was so ineffective as head of the Illinois Family Institute that he couldn't get enough signatures on an advisory referendum to even submit it.

Joe.My.God. has a reaction from one opponent, Sen. Kyle McCarter. He also has a bit of McCarter's background.

Jeremy Hooper has the Illinois Family Institute's reaction.

Laurel Ramseyer has a report at Pam's House Blend, with a brief Q&A from ACLU. Here's the full article on that from Windy City Times.

And here's the story from the Chicago Tribune.

That's all I've got so far.

AP and "Teh Gay"

John Aravosis has been reporting on this for a few days. It marks a particularly bone-headed move on AP's part, almost on the order of threatening legal action if anyone quotes one of their stories. Here's the bones, via Jim Romenesko. From the first leaked memo:

From: AP Standards
Sent: Mon 2/11/2013 2:45 PM


SAME-SEX COUPLES: We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves “husband” and “wife.” Our view is that such terms may be used in AP stories with attribution. Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.

Tom Kent
Dave Minthorn

That's outrageous enough, but here's the "fix":
SAME-SEX COUPLES: We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves “husband” and “wife.” Our view is that such terms may be used in AP content if those involved have regularly used those terms (“Smith is survived by his husband, John Jones”) or in quotes attributed to them. Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.

WTF? That fixes something? Excuse me gentlemen -- these people are married.

Aravosis points up something that struck me as well:

And what about this:

Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.

So clearly AP is admitting that it has a different standard for legally-wed gay couples than it has for legally-wed straight couples. What possible reason does AP have? Marriage is not a federal issue, it’s a state issue – states decide who is married. The feds can say they’re not going to give benefits, but they don’t overrule the state’s marriage – gays are still married in those states, just as straight people arte. Who is AP to say they don’t agree with the states’ legal determination as to who is married?

AP is overruling the 9 states and the District of Columbia that have legal marriages for gay couples. AP says no. They’re not really marriages.

And what about foreign marriages? Same-sex couples can marry in a growing number of countries now. AP has also decided that they’re not really married either.

What business is it of the Associated Press to determine that it doesn’t believe legally wed gay couples, in the US or abroad, are actually legally wed?

OK -- Aravosis gets to be a bit shrill sometimes, but he has a very good point: why the double standard? And as he points out, this comes on the heels of AP banning the use of the word "homophobia" for its reporters.

I've noticed a subtle anti-gay bias in AP stories before this -- as I say, it's subtle, but it's there. What surprises me is that they'd be so blatant about their prejudice, especially considering the general acceptance of gay people in society.

Here's the story on the latest wrinkle from Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed:
The Associated Press is holding firm against criticism — some of it internal — of a Feb. 11 guidance issued to its reporters and editors that they were to "[g]enerally ... [use] couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages."

AP spokesman Paul Colford told BuzzFeed Thursday evening, "This week's style guidance reaffirmed AP's existing practice. We've used husband and wife in the past for same-sex married couples and have made clear that reporters can continue to do so going forward."

When covering same-sex couples who have waited decades in some cases for that marriage license, however, the idea that the AP would treat those couples' marriages like civil unions — and not like opposite-sex couples' marriages — has sparked questioning responses from some of AP's own reporters and calls for a change from LGBT organizations and activists.

According to Aravosis, this is so much bull-pucky. He quotes AP Style Guidance:

1. When one of the gay spouses being written about mentions the term husband or wife in a quote, and AP uses the quote. (I.e., The couple could call themselves “blueberries,” and AP would quote it, since publishing a quote doesn’t necessarily mean that AP agrees with, or endorses, the substance of that quote. This is a modified version of the scare-quote defense: “If it’s in quotes, we don’t really mean it.”)

2. AP reporters may use the terms husband and wife if the gay couple “regularly uses” the terms husband or wife about themselves. (And no one has any idea what “regularly uses” means.)

Read Geidner's whole article -- some of the reactions are great. My favorite is from the Fake AP Stylbook (which for some reason I can't copy and embed):

Fake AP Stylebook

Avoid using "husband" or "wife" in reference to same-sex married couples; instead use "roommates" or "confirmed co-bachelors."

That sort of says it, I think.

Meteor Strike! (Updated)

Fortunately, it hit in a sparsely populated part of Russia, just north of Kazakhstan. 500 people injured, 30-odd hospitalized.

Apparently, Russians habitually install dashboard cameras on their cars. Here's a compilation of some of the videos:

There are more on YouTube, and Chris in Paris has more at AmericaBlog.

And just when we were thinking we were safe from the asteroid.

(I think my favorite part is the pop music on the car radios while this great honking meteor is coming down.)

Update: It could have been a lot worse:

One of the largest ancient asteroid impact zones on Earth has been discovered in north-eastern South Australia.

The impact zone, which centres on the East Warburton Basin near the Queensland border, was caused by an asteroid up to 20 kilometres-wide that slammed into the planet between 298 and 360 million years ago, report scientists from the Australian National University and University of Queensland.

Terrain around the impact site shows evidence of changes caused by shock-wave related deformation and heating of the ground by an impact event, says study co-author, Dr Andrew Glikson from the Australian National University.

"This shock metamorphic terrain covers an area of over 30,000 square kilometres making it the third-largest site of its kind ever discovered on Earth," says Glikson.

Yeah, so, 300 million years ago and in the middle of nowhere. So what?

"The 280 to 360 million years old impact window places this in the same epoch as the late Devonian mass extinction event".

The late Devonian mass extinction was one of five major extinction events in Earth's history, wiping out large groups of marine species.

"There are indications of mass extinction at this time caused by an impact winter, with the huge flash of the asteroid, major fires and seismic events with magnitudes of 10, 11 and 12, which would have disrupted habitats," says Glikson.

A Richter 12 earthquake? You want to try one of those?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Lower Depths

Just when I thought the "family values" contingent couldn't sink any lower, this pops up:
Under your watch, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has effectively devastated our nation's military by allowing the "gay agenda" to take priority over national defense.

This week, his decision to grant "marriage" benefits to homosexuals in the military presents an unacceptable risk to good order, discipline, morale and unit cohesion - qualities essential for combat readiness.

Most disturbing is his decision to allow homosexual partners to be buried on the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.

I urge you to do your part in restoring sanity to the Department of Defense and stop social experimentation in the military.

This is a template for a letter the American "Family" Association (see -- I can use sarcasm quotes, too) is asking their robot army to send to their representatives. If you think it doesn't make any sense, you'd be right. The part that gets me is that extending benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian service members presents "an unacceptable risk to good order, discipline, morale and unit cohesion." Huh?

And do consider the thrust of the whole thing -- withholding honors from people who in some cases have given their lives in the service of their country because of religious prejudice. Classy.

I almost feel sorry for them -- having to crib from Elaine Donnelley's hymnal like that. Almost.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Too Little, Too Late

The pope has resigned.

The title of this post sums up my feelings.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

I Don't Really Have Much to Say About This

I just think it's a neat story:

It’s definitely not “Armageddon.” But an asteroid measuring 150 feet in diameter with a mass of 130,000 metric tons will make the closest pass of Earth for an object of its size on February 15, 2013, traveling about 17,450 miles-per-hour (4.8 miles-per-second), NASA noted on Thursday.

The asteroid’s pass will be a “record predicted close approach for a known object of this size,” said Donald Yeomans, manager of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Near-Earth Object Programs Office, in a press conference streamed live on NASA’s website on Thursday.

Yeomans said the asteroid, dubbed 2012 DA14, would come anywhere between within 17,100 miles and 17,200 miles of Earth’s surface, well far away enough to avoid any potential collision with our homeworld.

There are video simulations of the fly-by at the link, and also here.

They Get Paid for This

I've seen this a couple of places this morning, and finally stopped to watch the video. It's pretty unbelievable:

Notice how Gretchen Carlson practically has an on-camera orgasm when she says "subsidized with taxpayer dollars." And Shibani Joshi is supposed to be a reporter? Puh-leeze.

Aside from being an idiot, she's either appallingly ill-informed (she must watch Fox News) or an outright liar. Germany has more sun than the U.S.? Excuse me? Lady, have you ever been to Phoenix? Or Los Angeles? Or Miami?

One wonders how much Exxon-Mobil -- excuse me, mean "Fox News" -- is paying her. She gets a Through the Looking Glass award for this one.

Via just about everyone, but especially Digby, who has a great take-down -- with visuals.

Which of These Is the President?

If you guessed the one on the left, you'd be right. However, that doesn't seem to make any difference to the Republicans:
Republican aides are calling out the White House for scheduling President Barack Obama's remarks on avoiding the sequester at the same time House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is delivering a major address Tuesday afternoon.

Cantor's address to the American Enterprise Institute at 1 p.m. has been on the books for weeks, and is billed by his aides as an agenda-setting speech — and one, that according to excerpts, will continue the party's shift away from a singular focus on fiscal iss[u]es.

It gets even more surreal:
"Why are they so worried about Americans hearing positive ideas on how to help working families," asked a Cantor aide. "We're flattered they're putting so much emphasis on Leader Cantor's remarks."

Let's see -- so far the Republicans' "positive" ideas on helping working families have included: cutting a million federal jobs; not extending unemployment benefits; tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations; raising taxes on the working poor and what's left of the middle class; cutting government services; nullifying the ACA (as much as they can get away with) by refusing to fund it; cutting the amount of the stimulus; and I'm sure there are others that I've forgotten.

Yeah, I think I'd rather listen to the president talking about how to avoid all that.

(I know -- this stories a couple of days old, but it just leaped out at me.)

Friday, February 08, 2013

Paradigm Shift

From Nan Hunter, an excellent analysis of the "marriage war," with a good point about something I've been saying for a while: the antis are no longer mainstream:
There is another political fracture reflected more subtly in the briefing. The lead lawyers for the parties on the anti-gay side – Charles Cooper for the Prop 8 Proponents and Paul Clement for the House of Representatives – are two of the most skilled and highly regarded appellate attorneys in the country. Their briefs may or may not be persuasive, but they do not lack polish. They sound like what they are: the work product of top-drawer (and top-dollar) law firms.

To see how marginalized the on-the-ground groups trying to block gay marriage have become, you have to peruse the amicus briefs filed by organizations and individuals supporting Cooper and Clement. There are no bar associations, no professional associations, no national civil rights groups, no corporate business voices, and no big prestigious firms that have written the briefs. Some amici are formidable: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Attorneys General of 17 states, for example. But most of the intellectual, professional and cultural elites have switched sides.

My only objection to Hunter's analysis is that, if you read the briefs filed by Cooper and Clement, yes, they are polished, but the substance is thin -- they don't have much in the way of arguments. (And, as someone noted in the comments, Cooper is arguably incompetent -- I still remember his assertion that he didn't need evidence to support his case -- in a court of law.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Belief Is Sometimes Hard

I'm sure you've heard of Tennessee state senator Stacy Campfield, author of the notorious "Don't Say Gay" bill that died in the legislature a couple of years ago. Well, it's back, and it's even worse. He was interviewed by TMZ. Catch this:

I'd read quotes and have heard about the contents of both bills, but you sort of shrug and say to yourself, "OK, it's the reporting -- no one is that stupid and ignorant, not really." Well, I was wrong. Stacy Campfield is that stupid and ignorant -- and nasty.

Via Pam's House Blend.

Has Anyone Noticed the Margins

on recent same-sex marriage votes? Rhode Island House, 51-19 in favor. House of Commons, 400-175 in favor. Illinois Senate Executive Committee, 9-5 in favor. And in Wyoming, the House committee narrowly defeated a bill, 5-4.

Is this a trend? Yes.

Monday, February 04, 2013

It's Official

They did find the bones of Richard III under a parking lot in Leicester.

A skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park has been confirmed as that of English king Richard III.

Experts from the University of Leicester said DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the monarch's family.

Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, told a press conference to applause: "Beyond reasonable doubt it's Richard."

There's a video of the press conference at the link, plus a lot of supplementary information. Check it out.

Saturday, February 02, 2013


Those of us who, somehow, are still alive. Read this post from Joe.My.God., but brace yourself -- it's devastating. The comments are, many of them, even more so -- so many of us lived that story.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Want to Keep the Cat Quiet for a While?

And now the kicker -- what's the music? I know it, I've known it forever, and I can't dig the title out of my head. First right answer gets a round of applause.

Ted Olson on the Prospects for Marriage Equality

That's rather a grandiose title, but here's a very interesting interview with Olson on what's what going into the Supreme Court on Windsor and Perry.

Yes, you will have to follow the link because I can't embed the video.