"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

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Mind Boggles (Update, Update II)

This post from John Amato, on an exchange between Bob Schieffer and Sen. Rand Paul (R-CloudCuckooLand) is a good illustration of the whole "conservative" mindset:

SCHIEFFER: But the law has already been passed, Senator, let me just ask you this question. I am old enough to remember when Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964, and he said I would rather be right than president. And you know, he got his wish. He lost in a landslide. Aren't you and the other tea party leaders leading the Republican Party to the same fate?

PAUL: Well, see, the thing is is that once things are passed doesn't mean they are set in stone and no future Congress will look at them.

--

PAUL: I think there is a way. And I have been saying all along that we should negotiate. See, historically, Bob, the way it worked is if the House was Republican and passed something and the Senate was Democrat and passed something, you had a conference committee, equal number of Republicans and Democrats, and you hashed out your differences. Why don't we have a conference committee on this? You could appoint one today; they could meet tomorrow and hash out the differences. That is the way it is supposed to work. Republicans and Democrats are supposed to find a middle ground, but right now, it is the president saying my way or the highway, if I don't get everything I want, if I don't get ObamaCare the Democrats passed without any Republican support, the Democrats are saying they are willing to shut down the government.

Point 1: The teabaggers don't like the ACA, which passed the Congress (and went through a conference committee), was signed into law by the president, and was upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional. It's not that Paul is actually ignoring all that -- he doesn't like the law, therefore, none of that happened.

Point 1A: The Republicans lost. Therefore, it's time for the president and/or the Democrats to make concessions. You have to understand that in teabaggerese, "negotiate" means "give me what I want, or else." There's also the absolutely true thing, that the right wing cannot lose, ever. At least in their own minds. See main point 1.

Point 2: Major projection. The Democrats are willing to shut down the government? The president is saying "my way or the highway"? Excuse me?

Rand Paul is not the most dangerous senator we've got, probably because he's so obviously stupid that no one pays any attention to him, except those of the voters in Kentucky who are even more stupid than he is. He is, however, a sterling example of what passes for thought among the teabagger caucus.

There's video at the link.

Update:

It's not just Rand Paul. This from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Himself), latest teabagger darling (let's see, that makes number . . . well, I've lost count) and de facto head of the House teabagger caucus:
"His position is 100 percent of Obamacare must be funded in all instances and other than that, he's going to shut the government down," Cruz said on Meet The Press. "I hope he back away from that ledge that he's pushing us toward."

Cruz also portrayed the spending bill passed Saturday by the House -- which would delay Obamacare for one year and repeal its medical device -- as a compromise, compared to the first bill that the House passed, which defunded the law.

The Senate rejected the House's first bill, and Senate leadership has pledged to turn down the bill passed Saturday.

"If we have a shutdown, it will only be because Harry Reid says: 'I refuse even to talk'," Cruz said. "What have Democrats compromised on? Nothing."

Got that? Harry Reid is going to shut down the government.

Right.

Update II:

More denial of reality: buried in this story is a line I just couldn't pass up.
But this was a good episode. I laughed. I cried. I felt. It moved me like good art is supposed to do. But that's the problem. It moved me. It made me feel joy for Cam and Mitchell after the Supreme Court over-ruled California's Prop 8.

And that is what makes this show great. And dangerous. It relies on feelings which mislead. There is no logical argument in favor of gay marriage, but the sweetness of Cam and Mitchell trying to outdo each other's proposal is touching. Their simple and spontaneous proposal was as sweet as the portrayal of those who don't agree with gay marriage as spitting babies was subtle.
(Emphasis added.)

No logical argument? All the arguments are logical. It's the arguments against that have no logic to them.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Poor Brian Brown

He just can't seem to win one these days. From the NOM blog, via Joe.My.God.:

This is another outrageous example of judicial activism. An activist judge has overreached her authority and chosen to impose same-sex ‘marriage’ on the entire state of New Jersey. Judge Jacobson has trampled on the right of the people of New Jersey to define marriage, a right that the Supreme Court has upheld in the very case she misuses to redefine marriage. This is a gross abuse of power that cannot be allowed to stand. We urge Governor Chris Christie to appeal this lower court ruling immediately. It’s essential that a single lower court judge not be allowed to impose her own views of marriage on the entire state
.

The real story, via Good As You, from NJ.com:
Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal had argued that after the U.S. Supreme Court extended more than 1,000 tax and inheritance benefits to same-sex couples in June, New Jersey was left behind with "second-class" civil unions that could not reap those legal boons and protections.

Jacobson, the head judge in Mercer County, agreed.

"The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts," she wrote.

For example, the judge said, "civil union partners who are federal employees living in New Jersey are ineligible for marital rights with regard to the federal pension system, all civil union partners who are employees working for businesses to which the Family and Medical Leave Act applies may not rely on its statutory protections for spouses, and civil union couples may not access the federal tax benefits that married couples enjoy."

Gov. Christie's administration will appeal, but given the New Jersey Supreme Court's 2006 decision that the state must grant equal rights to same-sex couples, I don't see any reversal happening. The full opinion is at the link.

Now, comparing the reality of the case with Brown's over-the-top hysterics, I think we can unanimously present Brown and NOM with the Through the Looking Glass Award.




Health Care Costs In Seven Minutes

I know, I know, it's seven minutes, but it really goes by fast. Watch it.


I have a new hero.

Via AmericaBlog.

And here's a link provided by a commenter at AmericaBlog, on "The True Cost of Healthcare."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Another Reason Not To Do Facebook

A rather brilliant video from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, on its exhibit Masculin/Masculin -- the male figure in art from 1800.


"Hmm. . ." you say. "Facebook?"

Well, you see, if you posted this to Facebook, it would be censored. From John Aravosis:

Here’s what I posted last night on Facebook – a French newspaper report on the exhibit. It included a risqué ad that is on the streets of Paris for all to see:


And here’s what happened to my post:


Aravosis is somewhat nonplussed that Facebook would censor an art exhibit at one of the world's most famous museums, and I don't blame him, but I have a couple of questions for Facebook:

What community? Who determines these standards? And would Facebook be quite so ready to censor this video if it were about an exhibit featuring the female figure?

The sad part of this is that I don't find it surprising at all.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Your Face Is Over 400 Million Years Old

Well, maybe not yours specifically, but faces in general. That's the evidence from a new fossil discovery in China:

Paleontologists working in China have uncovered 419-million-year-old fossil remains of a fish they've dubbed E[ntelognathus] primordialis, which sports the earliest known structures comparable to the modern jaw and facial bones in today's vertebrates, including humans.

The discovery "really is significant in helping to clarify this weird transformation – the evolution of faces," says Thomas Holtz Jr., a paleontologist at the University of Maryland at College Park.

It's one of those things that is forcing evolutionary biologists to rethink some things -- as in, sharks are not as primitive as we've thought.
Up to now, the general view has held that the common ancestor to the more-recent bony fish and land vertebrates, including humans, on the one hand, and to sharks and their relatives on the other, was shark-like, Dr. Yu says. That implied that sharks are more primitive than bony fish, whose additional facial bones were seen as newer in evolutionary terms.

The discovery of modern-looking structures in E. primordialis flips that picture, pointing to this bony, armored fish as a common ancestor to the lineage that would split into bony fish and the cartilaginous sharks.

That's one of the reasons I love science -- there's always something new to discover. Keeps life interesting, doesn't it?

A rendering of Entelognathus primordialis.
Brian Choo/Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology

Looks sort of formidable, doesn't it? Relax -- it was only about eight inches long.



Today's Warm and Fuzzy Video

Presented without preamble:


I think the reason I found this so affecting is that it's very simple: unvarnished, straightforward, and very real.

On a somewhat broader scale, to those who have accused Obama of being lukewarm on gay civil rights, particularly marriage, note how quickly and how thoroughly the administration has swung into action after the decision in Windsor, not only in the military, where implementation of new regs has been at light speed, but across the board.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tweet du Jour

Via Joe.My.God.

God ‏@TheTweetOfGod

"Tea party" used to refer to children serving an imaginary solution to stuffing-headed friends in a make-believe world. And it still does.


No comment.

Better Late Than Never: Marriage News Watch, September 23, 2013

I promise you, I have been checking. It's only just available:


And no, I don't know why the banner says September 16.

(Update: I see they fixed the banner.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Think Congresscritters Should Have To Take a Test on the Constitution

This story's around over the past couple of days, but Aksarbent has the most complete summary. (I love it when other bloggers do all the work for me.) Some highlights (or low points) from various sources:

From Zack Ford at ThinkProgress:

According to... HR 3133, there would be no consequences for any organization or individual that chooses not to recognize a same-sex marriage:
The Federal Government shall not take an adverse action against a person, on the basis that such person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.

In other words, the bill would create special religious protections only for people who oppose same-sex marriage or premarital sex. Under the guise of “religious freedom,” this bill specifically endorses one particular set of religious beliefs without concern for any others, a pretty clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Apparently, it's a case of "First Amendment for me, but not for thee." I made the same point in comments at one blog or another quite possibly at a post on another attempt at the same "protections" for "religious freedom" -- they're really nothing more than naked attempts to subvert First Amendment protections for freedom of conscience, and gut the Establishment Clause -- not to mention the Fourteenth Amendment.

And from Dale Carpenter at Volokh Conspiracy:
“Adverse actions” include action by the IRS to strip a group of favorable tax treatment, like tax-exempt status. But it also includes actions related to employment, accreditation, grants, contracts, or benefits otherwise available under federal law. And it broadly prohibits “discrimination” against those who oppose same-sex marriage and non-marital sex. “Person” includes nonprofit and for-profit corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies.

Ah, yes -- "Corporations are people, my friend." So saith the Supreme Court, LLC. (Although that decision, as it relates to the right to disciminate against same-sex couples, is getting mixed reviews from the circuit courts.)

Carpenter goes on to note, in his very polite, lawyerly way, that the bill as drafted is a mess.

My own feeling is that, if it gets through the House, it will never get a vote in the Senate. I suspect Raul Labrador, the chief sponsor, knows that, and he's just grandstanding for the rubes.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Oysterband: We Could Leave Right Now

The video focuses on the fireworks, but the sound is pretty good. The song is one of my favorites by Oysterband.


SNAP Update (Update, Update II)

This post by David Atkins at Hullabaloo:
 The next time someone talks about how food stamps create a "culture of dependency", remind them almost half of the people on SNAP, otherwise known as the food stamp program, are children. And nearly half of those kids belong to parents who have jobs, but are in poverty anyway.


I think his summation hits it right on the nose:

Interestingly, most people demanding the starvation of children so that billionaires can buy more yachts call themselves Christian. Perhaps they're reading a Biblical translation that calls for blood sacrifice of innocents so that the rich may enjoy more fruits of Mammon. I missed that part in my copy.

Read the whole post -- lots of information you're not going to get from Fox -- or MSNBC, or CNN, or the Times, or WaPo. . . .

Digby draws an interesting parallel with one of the jerks who voted for this cut:

Cramer subsequently responded by citing a different passage from the Bible, one more favorable to his position on federally funded nutrition assistance.

"2 Thessalonians 3:10 English Standard Version (ESV) 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat," he wrote.

This fine freedom lover would probably be surprised to learn about the company he keeps in quoting that line:

ARTICLE 12. In the U.S.S.R. work is a duty and a matter of honor for every able-bodied citizen, in accordance with the principle: "He who does not work, neither shall he eat."

That's right. It's Article 12 of the 1936 Soviet Constitution, also known as the "Stalin Constitution."

And we wonder why the "Christian" leaders in this country all suddenly love Vladimir Putin.

See also this post.

Update: Jonathan Chait points out one egregious item regarding the food stamp cuts, which I had known about but forgot to mention: SNAP was separated from the farm subsidy bill, of which it has always been part, at the insistence of the Republican radicals in the House. And then what did they do?
Olsen also neglects to mention that House Republicans are not only locking in high agriculture subsidies, they are throwing more money at agriculture than Democrats want to spend. Obama has attacked the GOP farm-subsidy bill for spending too much. Here is the one chunk of social spending where Republicans are not only failing to issue hostage threats to secure the cuts they demand, they are also refusing to cut spending as much as Barack Obama asks. And the program they pick to defend is, on the substantive merits, the most unjustifiable program of any significant scale in the federal budget.

It is also one that accrues to disproportionately wealthy and overwhelmingly white recipients. (As opposed to Obamacare, whose beneficiaries are disproportionately poor and non-white.)

Keep in mind that most farms are owned by corporations, and many of the subsidies are intended to keep farmers from growing certain crops. And a significant number of Republicans in Congress, are -- "farmers."

Update II: I had thought the number was higher, but according to this article, there are only thirteen -- who have collectively received over $7 million in farm subsidies.






Friday, September 20, 2013

Palate Cleanser

After the disgusting Republicans in the last post, I wanted something a little more happy-making. So, this:


I find it strange that there are so few pictures of Henry Cavill smiling. Granted, he's easy on the eyes no matter what he's doing, but that smile!

Here's another, with more smile:


There. Now I feel better.

SNAP

The Republicans in the House have voted to cut $40 billion from the SNAP program (food stamps) over the next ten years. This will result in almost four million people either being eliminated from the program completely or having their benefits cut. Here's Rep. Jackie Speirer's (CA-14) response:


And here's one of the Republican apologists for the cuts:


It's nice to watch the bastard squirm. And his numbers don't add up.

One of the Congressman who voted for the cuts is Phil Gingrey of Georgia:
A Tea Party Republican U.S. Congressman from the state of Georgia yesterday told his colleagues in a closed-door meeting just how frustrated he is with what he sees as his low-income. Rep. Phil Gingrey, attending a GOP strategy meeting on how to extend their all-out war on Obamacare, was reported to complain that Congressional aides can quit and become lobbyists “and make 500,000 a year. Meanwhile I’m stuck here making $172,000 a year.”

Congressman Gingrey, based on his own reporting, not only is a millionaire, but has assets that earn him over a million dollars annually. And The Raw Story notes that “USA Today reported that Gingrey’s net worth is estimated to be between $3 million and $7.6 million, while the median household income in Georgia is $49,736.”

My heart bleeds for him.

Here's the vote tally:

FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR FOOD STAMPS PROGRAM: 217-210 by davidbadash




The Tony Perkins Award

That's the one awarded to shameless liars, and today it goes to -- (Ta Dah!) -- Tony Perkins:
At the sentencing of the man behind that awful, despicable, scary, resoundingly denounced incident of gunplay that played out at the Family Research Council's headquarters in the summer of 2012, FRC president Tony Perkins read a statement in front of a District Court judge. Here is some of what said about the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks discriminatory groups:


Here's the SPLC's page on FRC. The tip of the iceberg:
The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians. The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Read the whole entry to see just what a collection of liars and fanatics the FRC is.

Here's the SPLC's response to Perkins' lies about the link between the Corkins shooting and FRC's hate group status:

The Family Research Council, which was recently designated as a hate group by the SPLC because of its dissemination of false and demonizing propaganda about gays and lesbians, has launched a campaign against the SPLC that includes an advertisement in two Washington newspapers. . . .

Generally, the SPLC's listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods - claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities - and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.

"Known falsehoods" -- that sounds like Tony Perkins, doesn't it?

And here's the SPLC's response to the ad, in which Mark Potok goes right down the line and demolishes every lie that Perkins, et al., have been telling. It's blistering.

Perhaps someone should point Perkins to the Eighth Commandment. I believe it's in Exodus 20:17.



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Clueless

This tweet, from that staunch advocate of freedom of speech, Peter LaBarbera:


That's in response to this story. Do these people ever listen to themselves? Or do they think everyone's memory is limited to the last fifteen minutes?

But Then, We Have Pat Robertson

Robertson manages to make that Australian barrister (previous post) seem sane. Fresh off the glorious triumph of the "special rings for transmitting AIDS" fiasco, he's come up with this:
Robertson said San Antonio “has gone off the rails” by adopting a non-discrimination ordinance [PDF] which includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, and claimed that the new law would lead to Christians being thrown in prison: “This means that if you speak out about your deeply held religious beliefs they will put you in jail or brand you some kind of a class 3 felon.”

“This whole thing is outrageous and that city council should be replaced,” Robertson charged.

Of course, the ordinance does no such thing. (And it seems everyone jumped on the anti-ordinance bandwagon.)

(Video at the link. I wonder if CBN will try to suppress this one.)

For a summary of a few of Robertson's more outrageous claims, see the story at The New Civil Rights Movement.







They Have Them in Australia, Too.

Via Joe.My.God., this quote from a barrister figuring possible challenges to the proposed equal marriage law in the A.C.T.:

Barrister Christopher Brohier, of Lawyers for the Preservation of the Definition of Marriage, says there are all sorts of scenarios whereby the laws could be taken to the High Court. "A group or a married couple for example might argue that say their marriage is affected because before the legislation if they went out to a party and a man said 'I'm married', everybody would know he's married to a girl. But after the legislation he might say well, 'I've got to explain that I'm married to a girl rather than a boy and that has an effect on me personally'."

I bet he could get a job with Liberty Counsel or the ADF in a minute.

And wait a minute: "Girl"? "Boy"? Not man or woman? What stage of emotional development are we dealing with here?

Pathetic.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Culture of Suffering

Interesting post by David Atkins at Hullabaloo on what I can only call the culture of suffering in America:
Why do so many Americans feel so strongly that pain is morally good?

Assisted suicide is in the news again after Stephen Hawking came out in support of it. For some reason it remains a controversial question whether people wracked with terminal illnesses should be able to bring an end to their own suffering. Apparently many Americans feel it's the the greater moral good for dying people to spend an extra few months excruciatingly experiencing every organ failure until a painful, convulsing release finally sets them free. Why is that?

That's just the beginning -- he hits the war on the poor, police terrorism, torture as a legitimate tool of war, and ends up with this:
What is it in the American psyche that seems to be in love with the idea of forced pain as an instrument of terrestrial and divine justice?

I have an easy, one-word answer: Our so-called Judaeo-Christian culture. (Well, OK, it's not exactly one word. Say "Christianity" then.) We tend not to realize the way the basic thought patterns of that religious tradition have infused our entire world view. We see things in terms of absolute dichotomies: good/evil, either/or, black/white. The universe doesn't work that way.

And it's a tradition built on the idea of suffering as a moral good. Christianity itself is centered on the Passion: the pain and suffering of the Christ.* The goal of the good Christian is to be as much like Christ as possible. And not incidentally, there is a strand of Christian thought that holds that the purpose of life on earth is to endure suffering in the hope of eternal reward. (Lest you think Judaism is exempt from this idea, think of Job.) Both Judaism and Christianity rest on the idea of punishment: we are all born sinners, and therefore deserve to be punished. (Needless to say, that's not an idea that appeals to me -- my own take is that new lives are born pure, and I'm not too keen on the idea of being punished for something that a theoretical ancestor did way back when, especially when it was more breaking the rules than being absolutely evil.)

Of course, people being what they are, all this pain and suffering are even more enjoyable when they're happening to other people. That ties into the whole tribal nature of the Judaic base of Christianity: it's Us against Them, and they deserve whatever we can dish out. (Interestingly enough, Christianity dropped the exclusivity of Judaism early on, and wound up being fairly syncretistic in many respects -- the timing and trappings of Christmas and Easter, the appropriation of Pagan holy sites, the tendency to co-opt the gods of other religions by canonizing them -- St. Brigid comes to mind, not to mention St. Nicholas. But some sects, at least, seem to have backtracked to that insular mentality.)

It seems fairly obvious to me that the "punishment and suffering" culture that Atkins decries can be considered a feature, not a bug. It's just part of our cultural foundation out in the open.


* I take Christ as an avatar of the Sacrificed God, who shows up in just about every religious tradition I can think of. The difference is that Christianity denies the existence of any of the other gods, and it's their stories that tend to bring the whole thing back into some sort of perspective.

Today's Feel-Good Video

Via AmericaBlog:


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Connecting Dots

A couple of stories this morning that somehow linked together in my mind. First, this one, about the Naval Yard shooting in Washington:

The top surgeon at a Washington, D.C. trauma center minutes ago told reporters that “there is something evil in our society” when “when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries.” Dr. Janis Orlowski, the chief medical officer at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, at times close to tears, decried the “senseless trauma” she says she sees daily.

“There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate,” Orlowski said. “There’s something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries,” she added. “There is something wrong.”

It's heartbreaking:


And somehow, that connected with this story, about Miss America:

The crowning of Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, as Miss America should have been, to paraphrase her platform, a celebration of diversity through cultural competency. But in the hours after her victory, Twitter became a frank demonstration of American incompetence in matters relating to both ethnicity and geography.

“Well they just picked a Muslim for Miss America. That must’ve made Obama happy. Maybe he had a vote,” said one user.

“I am literally soo mad right now a ARAB won. #MissAmerica” wrote another.

It should go without saying that Davuluri, a Syracuse native of Indian descent, is neither Muslim nor an Arab. But according to Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes, the American-born Davuluri doesn’t “represent American values,” unlike the blonde-haired, blue-eyed contestant from Kansas, Theresa Vail.

Trust Fox News -- and I'm more than a little convinced that Fox News is a big part of the problem. The nice part of this story is that Twitter was deluged with tweets in support of Ms. Davuluri, as it should have been.

And how does these connect? I suspect it has to do with something I mentioned in a couple of comments at the AmericaBlog story. First:

The Miss America pageant is one of those iconic "American" things that might have made some sort of sense once upon a time but have become such institutions that the whys don't matter any more. They just are. I'm not sure that it has anything to do with a "sense of national honor" (except for the mouth-breathers who have a warped idea of what this nation is about anyway). It does have a lot to do with a sense of national identity, I think, which is why the reaction from the racist fringe has been so vocal -- you can't be "American" if you're not just like them, which leaves the rest of us -- who do have a more realistic sense of what America means -- scratching our heads and wondering where these idiots came from. (And heaving a sigh of relief that we're not just like them.)

Which leads to:

The teabaggers are the latest manifestation of an element that's always been with us: the "conservative" element (read "reactionary") who can't deal with change. They spend most of their time hiding under rocks and waiting for an opportunity to make their voices heard -- usually at the behest of someone who is vastly smarter and who can use them to further his own agenda -- Reagan with the "Christian" right, the Kochs and Karl Rove with the teabaggers are only two of the latest examples.

It seems that element will always be with us. The frightening thing now is that they've managed to accumulate the power they have. Another case of the tail wagging the dog. I hope the Republican partly implodes before they manage to destroy the rest of us.

There's an element of American society that is small-minded, mean-spirited, vicious, violent, and easily unhinged. (Although I doubt that it's just us -- make that "human" society.) So give them radio, social media, and worse, guns, and this is what you get.* There's a kind of synergy working: crazies have access to wider audiences than ever before, and it's starting to have a strong effect on our national mentality.

It's their core values: exclusion, arrogance, ignorance, hatred for the "Other."

Cue the religious right. And the Second Amendment freaks. The Internet is littered with stories that tie into this.

* And they elect people just like them to Congress.




Monday, September 16, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Luck of the Draw

Because of an almost-random click, I wound up listening to Journey this morning. I'd forgotten what a terrific band they are.


It's sort of a strange video -- not at all the imagery the song itself calls up in my mind, and I'm not at all sure what the Babylonian stuff is about -- but what the hell.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

And While We're All Outraged About That Russian Dictator (Updated)

Look what's happening at home:

In December 2011, approximately five million e-mails from Stratfor Global Intelligence, an intelligence contractor, were hacked by Anonymous and posted on WikiLeaks. The files contained revelations about close and perhaps inappropriate ties between government security agencies and private contractors. In a chat room for Project PM, Mr. Brown posted a link to it.

Among the millions of Stratfor files were data containing credit cards and security codes, part of the vast trove of internal company documents. The credit card data was of no interest or use to Mr. Brown, but it was of great interest to the government. In December 2012 he was charged with 12 counts related to identity theft. Over all he faces 17 charges — including three related to the purported threat of the F.B.I. officer and two obstruction of justice counts — that carry a possible sentence of 105 years, and he awaits trial in a jail in Mansfield, Tex.

According to one of the indictments, by linking to the files, Mr. Brown “provided access to data stolen from company Stratfor Global Intelligence to include in excess of 5,000 credit card account numbers, the card holders’ identification information, and the authentication features for the credit cards.”

Because Mr. Brown has been closely aligned with Anonymous and various other online groups, some of whom view sowing mayhem as very much a part of their work, his version of journalism is tougher to pin down and, sometimes, tougher to defend.

But keep in mind that no one has accused Mr. Brown of playing a role in the actual stealing of the data, only of posting a link to the trove of documents.
(Emphasis added.)

Via Digby, who also inks to this article:

A professor in the computer science department at Johns Hopkins, a leading American university, had written a post on his blog, hosted on the university's servers, focused on his area of expertise, which is cryptography. The post was highly critical of the government, specifically the National Security Agency, whose reckless behavior in attacking online security astonished him.

Professor Matthew Green wrote on 5 September:
I was totally unprepared for today's bombshell revelations describing the NSA's efforts to defeat encryption. Not only does the worst possible hypothetical I discussed appear to be true, but it's true on a scale I couldn't even imagine.
The post was widely circulated online because it is about the sense of betrayal within a community of technical people who had often collaborated with the government. (I linked to it myself.)

On Monday, he gets a note from the acting dean of the engineering school asking him to take the post down and stop using the NSA logo as clip art in his posts. The email also informs him that if he resists he will need a lawyer. The professor runs two versions of the same site: one hosted on the university's servers, one on Google's blogger.com service. He tells the dean that he will take down the site mirrored on the university's system but not the one on blogger.com. He also removes the NSA logo from the post. Then, he takes to Twitter.

Do you see where this is going?

Now add this little tidbit:

The National Security Agency violated privacy protections between 2006 and 2009 when it collected phone records from millions of Americans by failing to meet court-ordered standards, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday[.]

Want to bet all those phone records are classified? Along with any information relating to how they were acquired?

Hah! Just found this article:

Walton’s dissatisfaction with the Obama administration’s handling of the surveillance program are contained in hundreds of pages of previously classified documents federal officials released Tuesday as part of a lawsuit by a civil liberties group.

The Obama administration has been facing mounting pressure to reveal more details about the government’s domestic surveillance program since a former intelligence contractor released documents showing massive National Security Agency trawling of domestic data.

The information included domestic telephone numbers, calling patterns and the agency’s collection of Americans’ Internet user names, IP addresses and other metadata swept up in surveillance of foreign terror suspects.

The documents released Tuesday came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They relate to a time in 2009 when U.S. spies went too far in collecting domestic phone data and then mislead the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court about their activities.
(Emphasis added.)

Can I call 'em?

Update:
It gets worse. Read the whole article -- it's fairly short.












Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Marriage News Watch, September 9, 2013

For your viewing pleasure:


And what about the marriage bill in Illinois? Well, it's complicated.

When All Else Fails, Whine (updated)

Looks like the bad PR on the Sochi games is starting to have an effect:

The head of the Sochi Olympics asked the IOC on Sunday to help “stop this campaign and this speculation” related to the anti-gay law recently passed in Russia.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said the Olympic body will remind athletes to refrain from any protests or political gestures during the Feb. 7-23 games. The IOC’s top marketing official said sponsors are worried about possible demonstrations, which could “ruin a lot for all of us.”

Sochi organizing chief Dmitry Chernyshenko was asked at the IOC general assembly about the possible impact of the legislation that bans gay “propaganda.”

He said the Russian government had made clear the law would not affect the games, and he urged the IOC to convey the message to “those who are still trying to speculate on this very transparent and very clear topic.”

“It’s very important to have your support to stop this campaign and this speculation regarding this issue,” Chernyshenko said.

Considering the mixed signals coming from the Russian government and the Duma on this, I find Chernyshenko's characterization as "very transparent and very clear" to be laughable. My own speculation -- and it is speculation, filtered through quite a bit of cynicism -- is that the mixed signals are intentional and happening with Putin's approval. It's called "muddying the waters." Given the tenor of the various conflicting statements, the Russians have a free hand to do whatever they want, and anyone who doesn't think that's the case is dreaming.

The IOC's response is, regrettably, not surprising. Has there been a time in modern Olympic history when the Games have been free of politics? With national teams? And what I find especially telling is the comment -- from the marketing guy -- about how this could "ruin a lot for all of us." I have news for you: you've already ruined it.

Get this:

Chernyshenko reiterated that the law doesn’t ban homosexuality in any way and “doesn’t contradict any element of the Olympic Charter.”

He noted that President Vladimir Putin has assured that the Russian constitution “guarantees the equality of rights and freedom for everybody” in the country, including guests, visitors, athletes, fans and the Olympic family.

“We are absolutely confident that there will be no conflicts in that regards,” he said. “It will not stop (Sochi) 2014 from proudly upholding the Olympic values, I promise you.”

Rogge said the IOC is satisfied with Russia’s explanations of the law so far.

“The constitution of the Russian federations allows for homosexuality,” he said. “And we have received strong reassurances that this law will not affect participants in the Sochi Games.”

No, the law doesn't ban homosexuality. How can a law ban something that's innate? It just bans anyone being open about their orientation -- if it's "non-traditional."

And "Olympic values" at this point means nothing more than allowing the creme de la creme to continue their untroubled existence inside their little bubble. Let's face it -- who makes up the IOC? It's not working stiffs.

And Rogge would be satisfied if Putin told him that anyone suspected of being gay at the Games would be jailed, as long as they were jailed politely.

What no one seems to be commenting on is the groups of nationalist thugs who have been kidnapping and torturing young gay men -- with videos. The police response has been zero. What does anyone think is going to happen if they set their sights on athletes or attendees at the Games? Nothing. Rogge will declare it an unfortunate incident, but not his responsibility. There will, possibly, be a sham investigation. Maybe.

It's probably a good thing that there will be no Pride House at Sochi. That would make too tempting a target, a la Munich.

Update: Keith Olbermann has a similar take:


Looking back over this post, I realize that Olbermann's point has been around the periphery of my comments: it's about the money. Of course.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Oh, the Humanity!

I think there's something missing from contemporary "conservatives" -- in their psychological make-up, I mean. Here's a few recent stories that point to what I'm talking about:

I'm sure you've heard about the kittens in the subway. For background, here's the original story; of course, it became an issue in the NY mayoral race. One candidate said he wouldn't have stopped the trains.
Republican front-runner Joe Lhota — whose previous job was, in fact, running the MTA — would not have stopped the trains. "No, Joe does not think a train line should be shut down" to save two kitties, a campaign spokesperson tells Daily Intelligencer.

This tweet from Josh Barro nails it:


A little snark never hurt anyone, right?

A hospital closing in North Carolina: Why? Because the governor and legislature decided against Medicaid expansion.

Vidant Health, a nonprofit 10-hospital network, will shutter the 49-bed Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven, about an hour's drive east of the chain's Greenville headquarters, within six months, the company announced this week. Other considerations, including outdated facilities, also led to the company's decision to close the hospital but North Carolina foregoing the Medicaid expansion contributed to the decision, Vidant Health CEO David Herman told The Huffington Post.

North Carolina is one of 26 states where Republican governors or state legislators have rejected the Medicaid expansion. The expansion is intended to provide health benefits to anyone who makes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $15,282 for a single person this year.

As a result, the states will turn down billions of federal dollars and millions of poor residents in these states will remain uninsured even after Obamacare's coverage expansion takes full effect next year.

Note that it's all Republicans who have rejected the expansion, even though the federal government will pay the full cost until 2016, and 90% thereafter. Because "SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!!11!"

A side note on that story:

The hospital industry nationwide has lobbied state lawmakers and governors to adopt the Medicaid expansion as a way to reduce the burden of medical bills that go unpaid when poor patients can't afford their treatments. Nationally, hospitals provided $41.1 billion in so-called uncompensated care in 2011, according to the most recent data from the American Hospital Association.

I've written before about the extravagant charges hospitals levy for care, so I'm not terribly confident in any figures the industry provides. Still, I won't dispute that they lose money on a regular basis.

Via Crooks and Liars.

Food stamps are a perennial target.
This story starts a couple of months ago.

The House plans to vote this week on a farm bill that cuts nearly $21 billion from food stamps, and several members who support the cuts have benefited significantly from the various forms of farm subsidies provided by the same legislation.

You may remember that the House separated the provisions for food stamps from the farm bill, leaving the subsidies intact. The fate of the food stamp program is up for grabs.

Shortly before Congress adjourned for its August recess, House Republican leaders disclosed that they plan to move a bill in September that cuts SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program) by about $40 billion over ten years — double the cut in the House Agriculture Committee farm bill and almost nine times the SNAP cut in the Senate-passed farm bill.

That's it -- take food away from poor people so you can keep your subsidy payments coming.

That's enough to make my point, I think. Wait, you're saying. What's the connection between lost kittens, Medicaid expansion, and SNAP?

Simple: the "conservative" solution is the one lacking in compassion, empathy, charity, and generosity -- those Christian virtues that they are too ready to forget when it comes to their own self-interest. Or the chance to pander to their base, which is just as soulless as they are.

The capper is this story, which I noted yesterday. It's worth a repeat, because nothing typifies the contemporary "conservative" more than Tony Perkins:


Sounds like a real conservative to me:

After Jordan insisted that the GOP-led House should strip funding from Obamacare by using the budget and debt ceiling debates as leverage, the Religious Right leader [Tony Perkins, of FRC] came up with a brilliant plan to tell President Obama that Congress will only approve military action against Syria if the money comes out of Obamacare: “You could even take it to the issue of Syria. If the President wants to expend resources in going into Syria, maybe you should have to choose between funding Obamacare and funding a war in Syria, can’t do both.”

That's it -- take money away from providing health care for Americans so we can bomb brown people. Sounds like Perkins, all right. (Remember, he got his start in politics playing white supremacist.)

How very "Christian."

Do I need to belabor the point?




Saturday, September 07, 2013

Typical

Sounds like a real conservative to me:

After Jordan insisted that the GOP-led House should strip funding from Obamacare by using the budget and debt ceiling debates as leverage, the Religious Right leader [Tony Perkins, of FRC] came up with a brilliant plan to tell President Obama that Congress will only approve military action against Syria if the money comes out of Obamacare: “You could even take it to the issue of Syria. If the President wants to expend resources in going into Syria, maybe you should have to choose between funding Obamacare and funding a war in Syria, can’t do both.”

That's it -- take money away from providing health care for Americans so we can bomb brown people. Sounds like Perkins, all right. (Remember, he got his start in politics playing white supremacist.)

How very "Christian."

Today's Must Read

I wrote a little while ago about, among other things, the militarization of local police forces. Well, obviously, it's not just the locals who are armed to the teeth.

When agents with the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force surged out of the wilderness around the remote community of Chicken wearing body armor and jackets emblazoned with POLICE in big, bold letters, local placer miners didn’t quite know what to think.

Did it really take eight armed men and a squad-size display of paramilitary force to check for dirty water? Some of the miners, who run small businesses, say they felt intimidated.

Others wonder if the actions of the agents put everyone at risk. When your family business involves collecting gold far from nowhere, unusual behavior can be taken as a sign someone might be trying to stage a robbery. How is a remote placer miner to know the people in the jackets saying POLICE really are police?

Miners suggest it might have been better all around if officials had just shown up at the door -- as they used to do -- and said they wanted to check the water.

This is the EPA spearheading this -- the Environmental Protection Agency -- looking for dirty water. The pretext for the drug-bust style invasion?

The EPA has refused to publicly explain why it used armed officers as part of what it called a “multi-jurisdictional” investigation of possible Clean Water Act violations in the area.

A conference call was held last week to address the investigation. On the line were members of the Alaska Congressional delegation, their staff, state officers, and the EPA. According to one Senate staffer, the federal agency said it decided to send in the task force armed and wearing body armor because of information it received from the Alaska State Troopers about “rampant drug and human trafficking going on in the area.”

The miners contacted by the task force were working in the area of the Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River. The federal designation, made in 1980 as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, protects 32 miles between Chicken and Eagle, Alaska. It is a remote area, close to the Canadian border and the town of Boundary. The nearest city of any real size is Fairbanks, 140 miles to the northwest. It was unknown to everyone in the area that there is a rampant problem with drug and human traffickers.

This also came as news to the Alaska State Troopers, whom the EPA said supplied the information about drugs and human trafficking, and at least one U.S. senator.

“Their explanation -- that there are concerns within the area of rampant drug trafficking and human trafficking going on -- sounds wholly concocted to me,” said Murkowski, R-Alaska.

“The Alaska State Troopers did not advise the EPA that there was dangerous drug activity. We do not have evidence to suggest that is occurring,” said Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters.

As a method of keeping the peasants under control, I much prefer "Let them eat cake."

Via Digby, who has her own comments on the story.

Declaration of War?

This hit the news yesterday: The Southern Baptist Convention has issued a new set of guidelines for its military chaplains, and it's a doozy.

Restrictions — The guidelines state that “NAMB-endorsed chaplains will not conduct or attend a wedding ceremony for any same-sex couple, bless such a union or perform counseling in support of such a union, assist or support paid contractors or volunteers leading same-sex relational events, nor offer any kind of relationship training or retreat, on or off of a military installation, that would give the appearance of accepting the homosexual lifestyle or sexual wrongdoing. This biblical prohibition remains in effect irrespective of any civil law authorizing same-sex marriage or benefits to the contrary.” Chaplains also are prohibited from participating in jointly-led worship services “with a chaplain, contractor or volunteer who personally practices a homosexual lifestyle or affirms a homosexual lifestyle or such conduct.”

This would seem to be in some conflict with this portion:

The guidelines acknowledge that SBC chaplains serve in a pluralistic setting but expect, under U.S. Department of Defense guidelines, that the rights and freedoms of chaplains will be protected so they may "preach, teach and counsel in accordance with the tenets of their denominational faith group and their own religious conscience." In addition, chaplains are expected to: "Treat all service members, regardless of rank or behavior, with Christ-centered dignity, honor and respect while assisting the institutional leadership in its religious mission requirements and responsibilities as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."
(Emphasis added)

This is going to bring SB chaplains into direct conflict with military policy, is my guess. It's also sort of Orwellian Newspeak: if the tenets of their denominational faith condemn gays and lesbians, how are they going to treat service members with dignity, honor and respect?

Timothy Kincaid, at Box Turtle Bulletin, has some very pertinent comments on this:

However, there are also professional restrictions that may prove to be disastrous to a chaplain’s career, relationships with fellow chaplains, or even ability to perform their duties.

The new restrictions disallow a chaplain to conduct marriage retreats that include same-sex couples. As any such retreats sponsored by the US Military will not allow discrimination, these rules remove an SBC chaplain from conducting or participating in all group relationship training or retreats other than strictly sectarian retreats sponsored by outside groups.

And, though I suspect they did not intend it, the most difficult rule to observe will likely be the restriction on jointly-led worship services. Far far more chaplains – and denominations – “affirm a homosexual lifestyle” than the SBC may consider. If not at this exact moment, then quite soon the vast majority of United Methodist chaplains, United Church of Christ chaplains, Episcopal chaplains, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America chaplains, Presbyterian Church (USA) chaplains, as well as many others will encourage the establishment and maintenance of committed same-sex relationships. They will celebrate, or at least counsel, same-sex marriages. And the restrictions state that SBC chaplains cannot jointly lead worship with them.

I'm cynical enough to see this as a direct challenge to the Pentagon's new policies on gay service members, and, equally so, a set-up to provide more fodder for the martyr mill. We've seen enough instances of chaplains claiming violation of their "religious freedom" already -- this one is only the latest. (Oh, and the story related by Boykin in that post is pretty much bullshit. There's what looks like a more accurate version at Think Progress.) We can expect to see more of this as chaplains try to adhere to the SBC directive.



Friday, September 06, 2013

How Very Christian

Today in Disgusting People, we have "Christian" radio evangelist Kevin Swanson:
Taking a page from Gordon Klingenschmitt, who said that photographers should print “worthy of death” on photos of the weddings of same-sex couples, Swanson said that guests can “attend the wedding and hold up the sign Leviticus 20:13 word for word: ‘If a man sleeps with a man as he sleeps with a woman the two of them have committed an abomination and they shall both be put to death.’ You could attend a wedding and hold up that sign.”

These are very sick people.

And who in his right mind would want someone like that at his wedding? (Sorry, but if Aunt Martha is a stupid bigot -- and bigots are, in a fundamental way, stupid -- she doesn't get an invitation.)



About That Either/Or Thing

with all the fuss the right is kicking up about trans people lately, I found this article particularly interesting:

Despite rich and varied histories that demonstrate it isn't so, most societies function on the premise that all humans are easily classifiable as male or female, and that we can identify who is who by looking at genitals, hormones, and chromosomes. Usually human experience (one of the things we call "culture") is juxtaposed with science in this regard. The science, we're told is more cut and dry. Only it isn't. Medicine and science has for some time documented that humans are not easily categorizable into one of two sexes. If you look carefully at the research, sexual diversity, on the level of genital appearance, hormones and chromosomes, is present and predictable in humans. To use the language of normativity, the fact that some of us don't fit into one of two boxes is as normal as the fact that some of us do.

I suspect a lot of the confusion, if I can call it that, in this area is due in large part to our tendency to think in dichotomies: everything is either/or, and therefore, people are either male or female. Unfortunately for those who are locked into that mode, we know that's not true.

This also ties into the confusion between "sex" and "gender." For some reason, people are reluctant to use the word "sex" when describing -- well, sex, as in male or female. There has been a growing tendency to use "gender" instead, which, as far as I'm concerned, just confuses the issue even more. (I suspect that's because of the American reticence about sex in general -- in spite of Hollywood and the advertising industry, it's not something a lot of people are comfortable talking about, due to the same mindset that gave us "either/or" -- it's dirty.) The same author came up with a nice, succinct description of the difference between the two:

Nothing in life is ever really black and white, or clear cut. But in broad terms, we can distinguish sex from gender by describing sex as something that is biological, and gender as something that is social and cultural. Or we might say that sex refers to the body, our genitals and our chromosomes, while gender refers to the meaning we put on our bodies.

That, of course, leads into the topic of androgyny, but aside from recommending June Singer's book of that title, I'm not going to go there.

Sex and gender and the variations within those categories are enough to think about this morning.

Thanks to Anel Viz at Nick's Place.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

They're Not All Like That

Meaning, not all Christians are of the Tony Perkins-Scott Lively-Peter LaBarbera stripe. We knew that, but they are finally making themselves heard:

The NALT Christians Project (NotAllLikeThat.org) was launched today [Sep. 4, 2013], giving Christians everywhere an opportunity to rise up and proclaim their unconditional love and support for their gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends and family members. This new movement, inspired by Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project, encourages LGBT-affirming Christians to upload videos that unapologetically express their full acceptance of LGBT people.

This project was created by Christian author John Shore and Truth Wins Out, a non-profit organization that counters religious extremism. It will be an online platform that directly challenges the idea that anti-gay Christians represent all or even most of the Christian faithful. The project kicks-off with a promotional video from author and advocate Dan Savage.

Here's Dan Saavage's lead-off video:


Within the space of one day, thirty-seven videos have been posted to the site. Some of them are quite moving.

Nice to hear from them.

"Secure Borders"

Reading this post by Dave Neiwert, this jumped out at me:
What, exactly, do they mean by “border security”? It’s hard to pin down the exact definition of a “secure border” – reflective of the fact that it is a coded phrase – but in the hands of various Congressional Republicans, what emerges is a fantasy portrait of a militarized fortress-style border with Mexico secured by a towering fence and the constant buzz of manpower patrolling it. In the immigration-reform bill passed by the Senate (but still bottled up in the House), the legislation requires construction of 700 miles of new double-walled border fence and 20,000 more Border Patrol agents to man it.

The first thing that jumped into my mind was the Berlin Wall.

Note to Minutemen: Be careful what you wish for.

Of course, that's the sort of thing they'd probably like.

Via Crooks and Liars.


Crackpot du Jour

I think the American "Family" Association breeds them, with Bryan Fischer as the donor. Sandy Rios is trying really hard to fill his shoes. Her thoughts (such as they are) on intervention in Syria:

It’s getting more exaggerated. This is the nature of John Kerry, he always does this; he’s not to be trusted. This is the reason why I think we have to be concerned about going into Syria because the people that we’re looking at to lead us are untrustworthy people. There’s a second reason and that is military readiness. When I looked at those battleships going into the Mediterranean, supposedly getting ready for battle in Syria, I couldn’t help think about all the stories I’ve read about how women now are in the ranks of the Navy, getting pregnant at exponential numbers; when I think about the folding in and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the homosexual takeover of so much of our military I’m not sure how effective those naval ships will be.

If you can get through the word salad on John Kerry -- and who should we trust? Dick Cheney? Donald Rumsfeld? -- this little screed is close to hysterically funny. The funniest part is Rios pretending that she has any sense whatsoever of our military readiness. Women in the ranks of the Navy "getting pregnant at exponential numbers"? Huh? I'd love to see the statistics on that. As for DADT repeal and the effectiveness of the Navy, I have news for Ms. Rios: the Navy has always been very gay. Those ships are going to be just as effective as they've always been, probably more so, since no one has to lie about who they are any more to do their duty.

(A side note: the "Christian" right is trying, apparently, to push the idea that, since the repeal of DADT, gays are flocking to join the Armed Forces. I've seen no indication that there are more than there have always been. Of course, if you're a professional paranoid, the vast gay conspiracy to take over the country has to start somewhere. Let's just not tell them how many gays and lesbians work on Wall Street.)

There's audio at the link, if you can stand to listen. I can't.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Marriage News Watch, September 3, 2013 (Updated)

For some reason, I couldn't access videos this morning. Problem fixed. Here's the adorable Matt Baume:


Grant County in New Mexico has started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples; Los Alamos County is fighting the court order.

Update: Los Alamos Country Clerk Sharon Stover's request to delay the court order was refused. The first same-sex couple obtained their marriage license today.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Labor Day

Again, thanks to Box Turtle Bulletin for publishing this image. It's one of the great photographs of the twentieth century:


Lewis Hine’s “Power house mechanic working on steam pump,” 1920.

Significant Birthday

I don't usually do things like noting birthdays of prominent people, but this one is especially important: psychologist Evelyn Hooker was born on September 2, 1907. If you don't know about Hooker, read the commentary at Box Turtle Bulletin. (Scroll down to "Today's Birthdays.") Teaser:
In 1942 while a teacher at UCLA, one of her students introduced her to other members of the gay community and challenged her to study “people like him” — homosexuals who were neither troubled by their homosexuality and who had none of the features commonly associated with mental illness. Among those she came to know was noted author Christopher Isherwood, would rented a guest house from her. “She never treated us like some strange tribe,” he recalled later, “so we told her things we never told anyone before.” Hooker quickly became convinced that most gay men were socially well-adjusted, quite unlike the homosexuals that had been written about in the scientific literature until then. By 1953 — at the peak of the McCarthy “lavender scare” period — she decided that this could be proven through psychological testing.

It goes on from there.

Idiot du Jour

This is actually from Friday, The Day the Computer Died. (Yes, I'm doing a lot of catching up.) But some things are timeless. Jerome Corsi, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, once again speaking to subjects he obviously knows nothing about, as quoted by Alvin McEwen at Justice For All:

“Our founding fathers knew that if we went this direction, there was no more moral compass and you won’t be able to explain to your children — you’ll have to face the fact that we lost holding the line on one of the most principle issues in the Bible, and that is sex is not about fun,” he remarked. “If you want to have fun, read a book, go to a movie. Sex is about the procreation of children. It’s a sacred responsibility that is meant by God to have men and women commit their lifetime to children.”
(Emphasis added.)

As it turns out, there are lots of reasons that people have sex, but take a look at the top five or ten from these lists (one for women, one for men):

Women:

1. I felt attracted to the person.
2. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure.
3. It feels good.
4. I wanted to show my affection for my partner.
5. I wanted to express my love for my partner.
6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.
7. I felt horny.
8. It's fun.
9. I realized I was in love.
10. I was swept up in the heat of the moment.

Men:

1. I was attracted to the person.
2. It feels good.
3. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure.
4. It's fun.
5. I wanted to show my affection for the person.
6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.
7. I felt horny.
8. I wanted to express my love for the person.
9. I wanted an orgasm.
10. I wanted to please my partner.

You'll have to search long and hard to find "having children" in these lists.

(OK, granted, this is from Psychology Today, but there is some research behind it, somewhere. Here's the paper the article is based on.)

I realize that reality doesn't carry much weight in Corsi's universe, but for most of us. . . .

My Feelings, Exactly.


I don't think I need to say more.

Thanks to Anel Viz, via Nick's Place.