"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Futility of Commenting

Against my better judgment, I've gotten involved in a couple of comment threads on the poor, persecuted "Christian" farmers in upstate New York who host weddings on their farm -- for some people. As long as those people are acceptable to cafeteria "Christians." There are several commenters on the YouTube thread -- yes, of course they made a video, with all the necessary buzzwords ("entrepreneurs," "family," religious freedom," etc.) -- and I finally just muted the alerts to stop cluttering up my e-mail. There are, of course, the requisite supporters of these bigots who seem to be impervious to rational arguments -- repeated assertion seems to be their preferred mode of discourse -- and since the discussion was going absolutely nowhere, I opted out.

There is, however, one thing I'd like to say to all of these people who claim that their "religious beliefs" are violated by having to treat gays and lesbians as human beings: "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40, KJV)

There, I've gotten that off my chest. On the upside, I managed to write a Review in Brief. Look for it Sunday.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Marriage News Watch, September 29, 2014

With the delicious Matt Baume -- who I discovered recently has a partner. Bummer.

This is the week when the Supreme Court meets to decide whether to take a marriage case. After meeting in conference on Monday, the Justices will announce their decision next week, on October 6th. Currently, cases from Virginia, Indiana, Wyoming, Utah and Oklahoma are ready for consideration. The court could take one case, or several, or none at all.

Note: I was going to do some more housekeeping in the Reviews pages, but a friend with a free pass invited me to go to the Art Institute, so I'm going to spend some time looking at art today. I need it.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Science: Reaching Critical Mass

No, it's not about atomic bombs. It's about the evolution of birds:

The early stages of the process through which birds evolved from dinosaurs was slow and gradual, and there was no single “missing link” separating the two different types of creatures, according to research published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Current Biology.

Lead author Dr. Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and his colleagues analyzed the anatomical make-up of more than 850 body features in 150 extinct species in order to map the evolutionary journey from meat-eating dinosaurs to ancient birds. Based on the fossil records, they found that the emergence of birds took place bit-by-bit over the course of 150 million years.

That's something I've noticed in reading about dinosaurs -- as we've discovered more about them, it's become apparent that things like feathers were around long before there were birds to wear them. It makes sense that other characteristics would pop up along the line until you had something approaching bird-hood.

And then things started happening really fast:

“There was no moment in time when a dinosaur became a bird, and there is no single missing link between them,” Dr. Brusatte said in a statement. “What we think of as the classic bird skeleton was pieced together gradually over tens of millions of years. Once it came together fully, it unlocked great evolutionary potential that allowed birds to evolve at a super-charged rate.”

And so we now have everything from sparrows to ostriches.

I have to admit of a certain fondness for sparrows. They're just always so busy.

Blackhat: Official Trailer

It seems to be turning into Movie Day. Just ran across this trailer at Towleroad, and I think it's going on my list of "must-see" movies:

I mean, Chris Hemsworth does a cyberthriller -- what could be better?

About Those "Sissies"

Offered without comment:

OK, without much comment: This is a film that should be distributed in places like Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, where they still hold to those stereotypes, which at this point are laughable in any civilized nation.

And no, I'm not an athlete, or a Navy Seal, or mountain climber, or any of those real macho types, but you know something? People don't mess with me on the street.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Logic and Robert George

I just happened to run across this story from last month, but I thought it was worth noting:

Last week, National Organization For Marriage cofounder, Federal Marriage Amendment author, and Princeton University professor Robert George went on Catholic radio to talk about openly gay Christian singer Vicky Beeching.

When pressed by host Todd Wilken for a biblical reason to stop at affirmation of consenting adults who love one another rather than move on to those who sexually abuse minors or who end the lives of others through serial murder, the prominent conservative thinker couldn't think of any "logical stopping place"[.]

I've read some of George's articles. I won't say that George and logic are complete strangers, but they're not what I'd call "intimate," you know?

Of course, one of George's problems, being the good Catholic that he is, is that he never questions his assumptions. Sorry, but if you're going to persuade me about anything, you first have to demonstrate that your assumptions are valid and have some basis in reality. So far on that score, George's arguments, such as they are, have proven to be notably lacking.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


That's what happens if I read the news too much. Same old -- accidental shootings, shootings on purpose because whatever, Tony Perkins is lying (again), Bryan Fischer hates America (still), the "coffee cup salute" (note to the right-wing echo chamber: if that's the best you can do, you maybe should consider getting a real job -- and maybe start listening to someone who's not senile) (Oh, and on the "appropriateness scale":

And the president is not required to return a salute because a) his hands were full and b) he's a civilian and c) he's the commander-in-chief.)

And then there's the latest on your friendly, helpful police (oh, and Ferguson -- this is choice) and on and on.

Yes, it's a link dump. Sorry, but the commentary is too obvious.

Monday, September 22, 2014

This Is The Way Professionals Do It

You've no doubt heard about the security breach at the White House over the weekend, when a man jumped the fence and made it to the front foyer before he was intercepted by the Secret Service.

The Secret Service on Saturday launched a security review to learn how a man carrying a knife was able to get inside the front door of the White House on Friday night after jumping a fence and sprinting more than 70 yards across the North Lawn — the first time that has ever happened.

Within seconds, the man who his public defender said served three tours in Iraq — and relatives said served as a sniper — got to the front double doors of the North Portico, turned the brass knob and stepped inside the vestibule. There he was grabbed and subdued by an officer standing post inside the door. He had a folding knife with a 2 1 / 2-inch serrated blade.

I'm not going to address the possible lapses on the part of the Secret Service -- they'll take care of that. I just want to point out one thing: the man, whose name is Omar J. Gonzales, Jr., and who served 18 years in the armed forces, was not shot. Get that? Nobody shot him, because they didn't have to. And Secret Service agents are trained when to shoot and when not to shoot, and have to be aware of possible consequences -- like stray bullets, bullets passing through the target and hitting someone else, and the like.

Of course, if this guy had been a black teenager walking down the street someplace. . . .

Through the Looking Glass Award

Goes to Breitbart, for this headline:

Here's the real story:

More than 300,000 people marched through the streets of New York City on Sunday in what organizers called the largest climate-change demonstration in history.

With banners, flags, floats and drums, protesters at the "People's Climate March" overwhelmed midtown Manhattan in flocks of vivid color, demanding action ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit this week.

Via Joe.My.God.

Part of me is encouraged by the demonstrations, which are part of a world-wide effort, and part of me is wondering if the world leaders gathered for the summit are actually going to do anything. It's a toss-up, as far as I'm concerned. Consider what position the oligarchs running the oil-producing countries are going to take when faced with the possibility of cutting off the cash flow to their Swiss bank accounts.

Marriage News Watch, September 22, 2014

The official summary:

A surprising reveal this week from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg about the court's plans for taking up a marriage case -- or maybe not taking up any. An Arkansas clerk breaks ranks with top state officials, declaring for the first time that the state's marriage ban is unconstitutional. Plus: numerous states freeze their marriage lawsuits while they wait for a Supreme Court ruling.

I noted Justice Ginsburg's comments on Saturday -- if you missed it, just scroll down to the last post.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Sky Is Falling! Oh, Wait. . . .

There's a new NYT/CBS poll out, that shows support for marriage equality in the U.S. at 56%, while opposition has dropped to 37%:

The long-running poll recorded 56% of people in favour of same-sex marriage across the US, while just 37% now oppose it.

The poll, which has run with the same wording for several years, registered a three-point drop in opposition from a similar poll conducted in July this year, when 40% of people had still opposed same-sex marriage.

The 37% finding also demonstrates a sharp fall in opposition from just two years ago, with a July 2012 poll finding 44% opposition.

The article goes on to note the likelihood of an appeal being heard by the Supreme Court in its next session:
There are currently a number of cases that have reached the court, from Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia.

However, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – one of the most liberal justices on the court, who has herself performed same-sex weddings – said this week that the Supreme Court will not be “rushed” into making a decision on the issue.

She said there is “no need for us to rush” to take up a marriage case, though “there will be some urgency” if the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Court rules against same-sex marriage, which is considered likely.

I've had the feeling all along that the Court will take any opportunity to dodge this, and there really is no reason for them to take it up if the circuit courts are in agreement.

And just for fun, this reaction on Justice Ginsburg's comments from Mat Staver, whom Ed Brayton has christened "the dumbest lawyer in American not named Larry Klayman.":

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told an audience at the University of Minnesota Law School that if the Sixth District Court of Appeals rules in favor of same-sex marriage, there will be “no need for us to rush” on a decision on the definition of marriage. If however, the appeals court that covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee upholds the centuries-old, natural definition of marriage as one man and one woman, “there will be some urgency.”

“In casting a vote publicly before the case is even heard, Justice Ginsburg has violated the Judicial Code of Conduct,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “It is now her duty to recuse herself from cases involving same-sex marriage.”

It's obvious that Staver's English comprehension is in the negative numbers. Via Joe.My.God.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Not All Christians Are Assholes

By way of background:
Reminding the world that not all Christians are focused solely on hatred for their fellow man, a homophobic preacher who appeared on the campus of James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia earlier this week had his hateful speech drowned out by students with a Christian message of peace and love, reports Huffington Post.

According to witnesses, Ross Jackson, who is the founder of Revival Mission Ministries, launched into sermons condemning a variety of "sinful acts," including homosexuality, drinking alcohol and listening to country music.

He is also reported to have yelled “all homos are going to hell” at a crowd gathered at one of the talks.

The students' response:

Yes, There Is Still A United Kingdom

Of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. From The Guardian:

The yes campaign scored four big successes, winning 53% of the vote in Scotland's largest city, Glasgow, 54% in West Dunbartonshire, 57% in Dundee and 51% in North Lanarkshire.

However, the no camp was victorious in 28 authorities. It won overwhelmingly in areas where it was expected to do well, including Edinburgh, Aberdeenshire and Borders, but also in areas that could have gone to the yes campaign, including Falkirk, Inverclyde, Eilean Siar and Clackmannanshire.

In the final count, the no camp clocked up 2,001,926 votes (55.3%) to 1,617,989 for yes (44.7%).

The question was, for those not following the story, "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Idiot du Jour

None other than Todd Starnes, who managed to come up with this:
Starnes told host Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, that he suspected that school officials were worried that the student’s t-shirt would persuade so many students to become abstinent that they would lose out on the profits they apparently earn through distributing “free condoms.”

“Here’s my take on it, I thought it was interesting, [the student’s mom] said what’s really interesting is that any child in that junior high school can go to the counselor’s office and ask for and receive free condoms and yet her daughter cannot wear her pro-abstinence t-shirt in the public school,” Starnes said. “Here’s what I think the issue is Tony Perkins, I believe that maybe they were concerned this pro-abstinence t-shirt might cut into this school’s condom profits.”
(Emphasis added.)

Yep -- that's what he said. There's audio at the link.

Via Joe.My.God.

Cute du Jour

And an example of teaching children decent values:

Via AmericaBlog.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Justice Ginsburg Called It

You may recall that Justice Ginsburg, in her dissent to the Hobby Lobby decision, said that the majority had "headed into a minefield." Guess what.

A federal judge in Utah has ruled that a member of a fundamentalist offshoot of the Mormon faith may refuse to answer questions in a child labor investigation as a result of the Hobby Lobby ruling on birth control.

The Sept. 11 decision by U.S. District Court Judge David Sam says Vergel Steed, who belongs to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), doesn't have to comply with a federal subpoena because naming church leaders would violate his religious freedom.

As the basis for his conclusion, the judge cited Hobby Lobby decisions by the Supreme Court and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the Religious Freedom Restoration Act shields people from having to obey laws that substantially burden their religious practices.

What can I say?

You Just Knew This Was Going to Happen

Did you see the story about the two straight guys in New Zealand who got married to win tickets to next year's Rugby World Cup in England?
Two heterosexual New Zealand men who got married to win tickets to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in London have managed to anger both gay rights campaigners and conservative groups.

Travis McIntosh, a 23-year-old engineering student from Otago University, and Matt McCormick, a 24-year-old teacher at Musselburgh School in Dunedin, were married at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.

Gay rights groups are understandably pissed off at this, which was a stunt by a radio station in New Zealand -- the kind of contest radio stations do all the time. After all, the fight for marriage equality has been pretty serious business world-wide, and this just belittles the whole effort.

Of course, the anti-gays are all over this. Here's Jennifer Roback Morse, via Good.As.You:

Two men can get married for any reason they want. The law does not require them to prove that they are actually “gay,” or that they “love each other,” however those terms might be defined in a legal context. (!)

I hate to say I told you so. But I told you so.

Back in 2010, I created this talk that showed what life under a genderless marriage regime would look like, thirty years on. The story did not contain a single “gay” or “lesbian” person. The story showed that changing the law would induce a whole series of behaviors among people who are not same sex attracted. Two men may want to get married to get off-base housing in the military. Or to get one of them a green card.

Or to win a radio contest.

Gay activists and their wealthy patrons seem surprised that they do not get to control what everyone does and why they do it.

They have not really thought through what redefining marriage will actually mean for the whole of society.

Let's do a little bit of dissection here -- actually, I don't even have to go into much detail: everything she says applies to straight couples as well as same-sex couples. No one asks why you're getting married.

The crack about "Gay activists and their wealthy patrons" is nothing more than pure projection. (And let's guess whose "wealthy patrons" are more than likely a couple of very rich churches who assume that everyone must do as they're told.)

As for the "radio contest" bit -- how many TV shows have there been that can be loosely grouped under the heading "matchmaking for ratings"? -- "The Bachelor," "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" "The Bachelorette," "The Dating Game" -- and there are more than I can't remember the names of. And as far as taking marriage seriously, check out this from Wikipedia:

Dating game shows are television game shows that incorporate a dating system in the form of a game with clear rules. Human matchmaking is involved only in selecting the game's contestants – usually for amusement value as opposed to any concern for their happiness or compatibility. The audience sees only the game; an important feature of all dating game shows is that the contestants have little or no previous knowledge of each other, and are exposed to each other only through the game, which may include viewing a photograph or at least knowing the basic criteria for participation (typically participants are not already married).
(Emphasis added.)

Eventually, of course, there were gay versions, but late in the game (if you'll pardon the expression). "Boy Meets Boy" ran for sex episodes in 2003 and wasn't particularly straightforward (a lot of the contestants were straight).

Roback Morse's final comment is a moderated form of "The sky is falling!" People very seldom think through the ramifications for society of anything they do. The only people who worry about it are conservatives -- those people who stand in front of the march of history screaming "STOP!" And all they can do is make wild predictions of doom, based on nothing.

Roback Morse and the other outraged conservatives are missing the point, a fact best illustrated by a comment from one of the contestants:

Mr McIntosh told the Otago Daily Times he thought the marriage would last about two years.

Opposition was understandable but the wedding was not mocking the institution of marriage, he said.

“It’s just seeing how far two good mates would go to win a trip to the Rugby World Cup.”

The institution of marriage is in trouble, but not because of gay couples wanting to get married. It's in trouble because of straight people.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Marriage News Watch, September 15, 2014

Heading toward the big climax:

The number of marriage cases before the Supreme Court keeps climbing, with the Court scheduled to decide which ones to take in just a few weeks. Plus, couples file new briefs in Texas, and appeal last week's anti-gay ruling from a federal judge in Louisiana.

NOM just doesn't know when to give up.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A New Definition

of persecution, from none other than professional conspiracy theorist Jerry Boykin:
Family Research Council executive vice president Jerry Boykin said in an interview on “Washington Watch” yesterday that people like himself who believe in discredited conspiracy theories surrounding the 2012 Benghazi attacks are facing “persecution” because no one believes them and dares to think there are political motivations behind their accusations.

Short form: If people see through the bullshit and call you on it, they're persecuting you.

Side note: Yes, of course Boykin is working for the Family Research Council. Where else? Except maybe Fox News.

Via Crooks and Liars, which has an audio clip of the rant.

Chocolate, Bookshops, What Have You

The "Reviews: Other" page now includes reviews from Sleeping Hedgehog of chocolates, bookstores, hand puppets, and a few other things.

(Well, it does say "Other".)

I'm' still fiddling with the style on this one.

And This Is a Surprise?

Gee -- the Republicans in the Senate are blocking a vote on a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United:
Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a vote on a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and other Supreme Court rulings dating back to 1976 that invalidated restrictions on money in politics.

The party line vote was 54 in favor, 42 against, falling short of the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster and proceed to a final vote.

I'm actually surprised that there were no Democrats joining the Republicans on this one, but they probably figured they were safe. Oh, and Ted "Obama Will Censor SNL" Cruz didn't bother to show up for the vote.

And the Through the Looking Glass Award goes to Mitch McConnell:

"I have to say it’s a little disconcerting to see the Democrat-led Senate focusing on things like reducing free speech protections for the American people," he said before the vote. "This is what they chose to make their top legislative priority this week. Taking an eraser to the First Amendment."

There you have it: in the Republican lexicon, corporations are "the American people." What does that make the rest of us?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Culture Break: This Is Not Art

Interesting post from Jon Green at AmericaBlog about a phenomenenon he's run into around Boston:

I recently moved to the Boston area to working at a tech startup in Cambridge.

On my first walk to work, I passed by a small art studio with an oddly straightforward sign in the window.

I snapped a photo of it on my way home that night:


I didn’t think too much of it, except that perhaps the art studio was being a bit pretentious. (I suppose it’s nice of them, at least, to correctly label the product they’re selling.) But then, the following weekend, I was out and about in nearby Somerville and saw this:


It goes on from there.

Of course, the first thing that popped into my head was Magritte:


I'm sure you have your own thoughts.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Marriage News Watch, September 8, 2014

The official summary:

A massive victory for equality in Wisconsin and Indiana, with one of the most strongly-worded decisions yet. A judge in Louisiana has ruled against marriage equality, but there are some problems with his ruling. There are major oral arguments this week in multiple states, and more cases move closer to consideration by the US Supreme Court.

I like that bit about how "Feldman could not have written a more reversible decision if he tried."

The Ninth Circuit proceedings begin today.

Today in Disgusting People

You have to wonder what's going on in the head of someone like Laurie Higgins, the main voice of the designated hate group Illinois Family Institute. (Which, if I recall correctly, is the only state-level group so designated.) Here are her recommendations of books for school libraries, in a response to the ALA's Banned Books Week:

Young adult (YA) novels about teens who feel sadness and resentment about being intentionally deprived of a mother or father and who seek to find their missing biological parents.

Dark, angsty novels about teens who are damaged by the promiscuity of their “gay” “fathers” who hold sexual monogamy in disdain.

Novels about young adults who are consumed by a sense of loss and bitterness that their politically correct and foolish parents allowed them during the entirety of their childhood to cross-dress, change their names, and take medication to prevent puberty, thus deforming their bodies.

Novels about teens who suffer because of the harrowing fights and serial “marriages” of their lesbian mothers.

Picture books that show the joy a little birdie experiences when after the West Nile virus deaths of her two daddies, she’s finally adopted by a daddy and mommy.

Do I really need to say more?

Footnote: The IFI was the original home of gay-sex-obsessed Peter LaBarbera, who left after he couldn't get enough signatures on an anti-marriage petition to even submit it. You can imagine how effective the IFI has been since.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Saturday Science: It Was the Gardener

who solved one of the mysteries of Stonehenge:

One of the many mysteries of Stonehenge may have been solved, not because of a brilliant scientific breakthrough or thanks to painstaking research, but after a maintenance team’s hosepipe turned out to be a little short.

Archeologists have long argued over whether the ancient monument was once a perfect circle or if it was always, as it is now, an incomplete ring.

When a hosepipe used to keep the grass green in hot spells failed to reach a broken part of the circle, unsightly brown patches began to appear. Custodian Tim Daw was fretting over the blemishes when he realised they matched the spots where stones would probably have stood if the monument was a complete circle.

The Tide Has Turned!

Or so Tony Perkins and Brian Brown would have you believe. On the day before the 7th Circuit handed down its devastating decision on the Wisconsin and Indiana marriage bans, a federal District Court judge in Louisiana handed down this travesty. From Slate:

In a startling reversal of a nationwide trend, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana’s gay marriage ban Wednesday, holding that it furthered the “central state interest” of “linking children to an intact family formed by their biological parents.” Feldman, a Reagan appointee, is not the first judge since 2013’s United States v. Windsor to uphold a gay marriage ban. He is, however, the first federal judge, a key distinction that gives his ruling significant clout.

What's more striking is the complete ignorance of the law revealed by Feldman:
The thrust of Feldman’s ruling rests on a misinterpretation of the so-called animus doctrine. According to the Supreme Court, laws motivated exclusively by anti-gay animus toward gay people violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. After the court struck down a federal gay marriage ban in Windsor, the vast majority of judges have concluded that all gay marriage bans are presumptively motivated by animus. That’s a logical conclusion, given the Windsor court’s assertion that the federal ban’s “principal purpose and necessary effect” was to “demean” and “degrade” gay people.

It's even worse than that. Feldman doesn't seem to know the standards of scrutiny, and ascribes to the Fourteenth Amendment a meaning that is nowhere in the language of the Amendment itself:

Heightened scrutiny was warranted in Loving because the Fourteenth Amendment expressly condemns racial discrimination as a constitutional evil; in short, the Constitution specifically bans differentiation based on race.

Except that it doesn't. The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Sections 2, 3, 4 and 5 are irrelevant in this case, since they deal with apportionment of representatives to Congress, limits on who may hold federal office, the public debt, and implementation. Nowhere does the Amendment mention race.

A number of people have made much of the fact that Feldman is a Reagan appointee, which doesn't hold much water with me: a number of judges that have declared state marriage bans unconstitutional are Republican appointees, and Richard Posner, who authored the 7th Circuit's opinion, was also appointed by Reagan.

I think it's much more noteworthy that Feldman doesn't know or understand the law.

Of course, this wayward decision, which is far outside the mainstream of judicial thought on all counts, is being hailed as the one to derail the inevitability of same-sex marriage. That's called "grasping at straws."

Read the ruling, and remember -- it's not Doctor Seuss.

We're Everywhere

Via Towleroad, this:

This was aired on DirecTV during last night's NFL season starter between the Packers and Seahawks. Aside from the fact that it's a cute commercial, I think it illustrates something that we're going to see more and more: gay men and lesbians* being treated as mainstream. The punchline, I think, gives it away: not only does it identify these two as a couple, but stresses that they're just like any other couple.

Cue the OneMillion(minus 999,999)Moms in 3. . . 2. . . . ("Save the Cheeeldrin!!!")

* Footnote: I'm not going the LGBT route because this is not an all-inclusive phenomenon. Trans folk have a way to go yet, and will undoubtedly soon enjoy the full brunt of the "Christian" right's attacks, now that said "Christians" have lost against gays. These are the kind of people who need an enemy to justify themselves, and people are as ignorant about trans people now as they were about gay men and lesbians twenty or thirty years ago. We've already seen the kind of misrepresentations and scare tactics the right will be using against them in the so-called "bathroom" fear-mongering.

As for bisexuals, they seem to get lost in the shuffle -- not, I think, because they're being ignored, but because they don't seem to form a cohesive and visible group. And if any of my readers are bi and feel I'm misstating the case, one bit of advice: if you feel you're being ignored, stand up and start yelling, just like everyone else has done.

Friday, September 05, 2014

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

From Raw Story:

A group of heavily-armed militia surrounded and confronted a group of people near the U.S.-Mexico border who they thought were illegal migrants or smugglers, but who turned out to be a group of conservationists conducting a wildlife population survey.

According to Tucson News Now, the standoff took place on the night of Aug. 23 in Gardner Canyon area near Sonoita, Arizona, where members of a small group of biologists were counting bats.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada told TNN that the militia men — who are civilian volunteers and not actual federal border patrol agents — were riding ATVs, wearing camouflage and brandishing weapons when they came upon the group of scientists.

“Obviously, they mistook them for smugglers or illegal entrants,” said Estrada.

Obviously? What, did they have calves like cantaloupes?

And get this:

"These people that are completely out of their environment. They really don’t know the area. They don’t know the terrain. They have little knowledge of the dynamics of the border. So it can be a real problem,” he said. “We really don’t want them here.”

Nonetheless, indignation among U.S. nativists and other conservatives about the recent influx of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border has sent new waves of self-appointed guardians to the U.S. border, often packing high-powered weapons. The militia group in this incident was composed of out-of-towners who live in Colorado. . . .

As they rushed to confront the bat-counting scientists, the militiamen called Border Patrol agents to the area, pulling them off of areas that actually need surveillance, thereby compromising security efforts.
(Emphasis added.)

These morons don't know what they're doing. And they're interfering with the people who do.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

While I Was Out

Wisconsin and Indiana got creamed at the Seventh Circuit. Here's the opinion -- I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing, but Judge Richard Posner wrote it. It's rather pointed, if not downright scathing.

14-2386 #212 by Equality Case Files

Lesson For the Day

From this video, via Digby, who credits John Aravosis:

Oh, what's the lesson? you ask. Simple: dogs respond to kindness. So do people.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Culture Break: Harold Budd's "The Gunfighter"

Harold Budd is one of those musicians who's worked with everyone, from Brian Eno on down the line. This video is a little murky and indistinct, but it fits the mood pretty well:

Monday, September 01, 2014

Just In Case You Were Wondering

Who it is American "conservatives" really admire, Digby has some clues for you:
Grover Norquist, is reported to have said back in the 1980's,"We must establish a Brezhnev Doctrine for conservative gains. The Brezhnev Doctrine states that once a country becomes communist it can never change. Conservatives must establish their own doctrine and declare their victories permanent…A revolution is not successful unless it succeeds in preserving itself…(W)e want to remove liberal personnel from the political process. Then we want to capture those positions of power and influence for conservatives. Stalin taught the importance of this principle."

Now you know.

Marriage News Watch, September 1, 2014

The official description:

Anti-gay attorneys took a beating before the Seventh Circuit last week, trying and failing to defend marriage bans before a panel of hostile judges. Now all eyes are on the Supreme Court to see which cases they'll take up in their fall session. There's another major marriage argument coming up in a few days. And the National Organization for Marriage still isn't giving up in Oregon, despite having lost months ago.

Poor Brian Brown just doesn't know when to quit.

Film Reviews

are now up to date.

It's Labor Day

On which we honor the labor movement and the workers who are the real creators of wealth in this country.

I may spend the day laboring.

Or not.

"I don't hate gays, but. . . ."

We're starting to hear that more and more. Jean Ann Esselink at The New Civil Rights Movement knows what it means, and lays it out plainly:

There seems to be a new strategy afoot by the anti-gay forces, who for years have been successful at depriving gay Americans of equal treatment by vilifying them. For the last half century, since the time when Harvey Milk urged gays to "come out, come out wherever you are," every passing year makes that character attack less productive. It was one thing when gays could be cast as deviants and criminals and mentally ill, but people don't like their sons and brothers and friends called names and disrespected. As a result, the traditional "God hates fags" rhetoric has been softening. Gay rights opponents are transitioning to a new, more devious posture. The words may sound kinder, but the message is not.

The same politicians, pundits and priests who once stood proudly and proclaimed their opposition to gays with words like "abomination", now preface their anti-gay remarks with a phrase like: "I don't hate gay people, but..." or "I have nothing against gay people but..." I named this tactic the "gay but" a few years ago after Rick Santorum was ballsy enough to speak those very words on camera.

What you need to remember about the "gay but" phenomenon is that what comes after "I don't hate gays but..." is usually an example of the hatred the speaker has just denied.

"Hate" is a stronger word than I would use, but considering the source is bigotry, maybe that's the right word after all. And the last comment there is key: consider "but" a flag announcing that you should ignore everything that came before -- the "I don't hate gays" part, which is a thinly disguised lie -- because what comes after the "but" is the real substance, which usually translates to something like "I just don't think they should be considered human beings."

One of the commenters brought up the equivalence with "Hate the sin, love the sinner," another one of those assaults on language and reason. That one is even better at demonstrating how these "Christians" (because they are almost always "Christians") can weave falsity into anything: the "sin" of course, is homosexual behavior, a viewpoint based not on any real understanding of morality but on cherry-picking 3,000 year-old (at least) tribal taboos from their holy book, the holy book of a tribe of nomads who considered women and children property and whose prime directive was "spawn 'til you die." (What is morality? Good question. Let's start with the idea that it has to do with the way you treat others, not what you do with your genitals.) What they don't admit is that that behavior is a result of an essential component of the "sinner's" identity: contrary to what the ex-gay movement preaches (a movement, let us note, that at present is in tatters because it is based on that lie), same-sex orientation is an integral part of one's personality and identity, which is the thing that makes the "love the sinner" part complete bullshit.

Go read Esselink's article. It's worth it.