"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, July 31, 2006

Dan Savage on Marriage

An OpEd by Dan Savage in Sunday's NYT. A couple things jumped out at me:

At least the New York court acknowledged that many same-sex couples have children. Washington’s judges went out of their way to make ours disappear, finding that “limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to the survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children’s biological parents.” Children, the decision continues, “tend to thrive in families consisting of a father, mother and their biological children.’’

Point one, "Essential to the survival of the human race": it doesn't appear, at this point, that the human race is about to die out. At least not from lack of procreation.

Point two, "Children, the decision continues, “tend to thrive in families consisting of a father, mother and their biological children": this is so much bullshit, no matter which way you approach it. First, children don't thrive any better in the situation described than they do in families headed by same-sex parents. Second, I don't know of any case in which gay parents have sexually, physically, or emotionally abused their children. That seems to happen in straight families.

Dale Carpenter notwithstanding, the Washington decision is junk law, ideologically driven and politically motivated. I know, I sound shrill, but there's really no other way to describe it accurately.

(Thanks to AmericaBlog for the link.)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

At Random: Follow-Ups and Updates


Blogbuddy Scootmaroo at cabanaboyscoot has a couple of good posts on the discharge of Sgt. Bleu Copas, the gay Arabic translator, here and here. Go check them out.

Citizen Deux, in the comments to the first post, made the statement:

Once again, the prejudice against hmosexuals (specifically male) is not driven from any sort of religious side. Rather it is a hold over from societal pressures, much like prohibitions against women in combat...

My response was that that prejudice is, and has been, purely religious in origin. It is also a prejudice that seems particularly evident in those religions with a strong patriarchal cast -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are the obvious suspects. There is ample evidence that not only non-Western cultures (see the writings of Gilbert Herdt on New Guinea, for example, or Stephen O. Murray on Africa), but pre-Christian European cultures, not only accepted homosexuality but institutionalized it -- the famous erastes/eromenos relationships of ancient Greece seem to have been echoed in several other European cultures. Roman historian Diodorus Siculus was quite scandalized by the casual homosexuality of the ancient Irish. (I think we can probably look to the Romans, puritanical as they were, for the ultimate stance of the Church on homosexuality.)

The bottom line on all this, of course, is that DADT is based on a religious prohibition.


This could finish him off in the primary. From NYT:

But this primary is not about Mr. Lieberman’s legislative record. Instead it has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction. We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut.

Assuming that Lamont does take the nomination, and that Lieberman follows through on his threat to run as an independent, NYT will most likely endorse Lamont in the election for the same reasons. Lieberman's right on one thing: this is a struggle for the soul of the Democratic party -- whether it will remain an independent party or become a token and ineffective "opposition" in a one-party government.

I hope my senators are paying attention.


Two posts from tristero at Hullabaloo, on the kind of leader Podhoretz wants, and the following post, addressed to the Liebermans of the Democratic party (the link to that one is broken). Check them out.

LOTR, Wingnut Version

This is hysterical. I swear, these guys are Onion wannabes.


I did look through the opinion in Andersen. It is, as I suspected, fairly tortured -- just as an example, the court, rather than taking a plain reading of the privileges and immunities clause, undertakes a minute and legalistic (in the worst sense) historical review and basically decides that issue on the basis of the fact that the purpose of the clause was to prevent wealthy and influential entrepreneurs from gaining undue influence through favorable legislation. The court reads this to mean that the tyranny of the majority, under the Washington constitution, is justified because the clause prohibits privilege for "the few." The whole opinion (and this is equally apparent in Carpenter's comments) is an example of the majority of the court doing backflips to maintain an indefensible status quo. Carpenter is equally culpable here, as he points out the backflips, notes that they are backflips, and then decides that the court was justified in turning backflips. (Here is the promised link to Carpenter's comments.) The conclusions, no matter how carefully reasoned (and it's another case of accepting unjustified assumptions as the basis for the argument), are specious, as well as being morally repellent. (This is the kind of thing that only a lawyer could come up with.)

The Washington court, aside from the moral (and intellectual) poverty of its decision, is following in the steps of more and more courts adjudicating not only social issues but issues of basic civil liberties: deferring to legislatures on questions that are, and should be, within the court's competence and mandate to decide. (We saw this a couple of years ago in the Third Circuit's refusal to hear the Florida adoption case on the basis that it was the legislature's prerogative to change the law, which meant it didn't actually have to invoke the Constitution.) This is a very scary result of the rightwing attacks on the courts over the past decade or so: the courts now are afraid to judge cases, caught, as they are, between the demands of constitutional guarantees and the poisonous backlash of the extreme right wing.

Man, we are losing our country, big time.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why Neocons Scare the Hell Out of Me

I know, I promised more on the Anderson decision, but. . . .

I ran across this by chance, following links from a post by Josh Marshall trying to set the record straight after Glenn Reynolds misquoted and skewed his comments on "collateral damage" as it applied to Iraq.

Gregory Djerejian quite rightly takes Reynolds to task in this post, but what struck me is the genesis of the whole thing:

This OpEd in the NY Post (where else?) by John Podhoretz is just scary as hell:

Could World War II have been won by Britain and the United States if the two countries did not have it in them to firebomb Dresden and nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Didn't the willingness of their leaders to inflict mass casualties on civilians indicate a cold-eyed singleness of purpose that helped break the will and the back of their enemies? Didn't that singleness of purpose extend down to the populations in those countries in those days, who would have and did support almost any action at any time that would lead to the deaths of Germans and Japanese?

What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?

First off, as Djerejian quick correctly points out, the comparison is not apt: Germany and Japan were the aggressors in World War II, quite blatantly. Their attacks on Britain and China were unprovoked, brutal, and more broadly destructive than our responses turned out to be. In fact, although Podhoretz doesn't mention Dresden or Hiroshima by name (although, as I find typical of most rabid right-wingers, it's all in the subtext*), by comparison to what he is suggesting (even though his suggestion is only theoretical [nudge, nudge, wink, wink]) those were surgically precise demonstrations of what we could do if the Axis powers didn't capitulate. There is also the fact that we live in a post WWII, post-Holocaust world. We probably would not intern Japanese-Americans at this point. (Well, most of us wouldn't, except for Michelle Malkin.)

In Iraq we are the aggressors in a war of choice (the reasons for which have never been adequately explained).

What Podhoretz is discussing, as though it were the price of avocados, is genocide.

As Djerejian points out:

Are we now to stoop to the level of our worst enemies (it is the militias of Moktada al-Sadr, after all, who are slaughtering young Sunni males willy-nilly), pondering politely as if an interesting academic conundrum, with arguments ostensibly of equal merit on both sides, whether we should have fought the war in Iraq by exterminating hundreds of thousands of middle-aged male Sunnis? How then does this make us different than Saddam? How then does this make humanity different in the post-Auschwitz era? What have we learned? How then can we believe in progress, and decency, and history not doomed to cyclical savageries?

Podhoretz is a respected conservative commentator (in some circles, anyway). I wish I could think he was just having a bad day, but it's a sentiment I have seen echoed to many times in too many places, from the comments in freeperland to NRO. This is, to the neocons, a legitimate policy proposal, in line with the idea of tactical nuclear strikes against Iran (at a time when our government was doing its best to exacerbate the tensions there).

What the hell are these people thinking?

I can only echo what I have said in response to people making excuses for Abu Ghraib and Gitmo: it's not about them, it's about us and who we are. The minute it becomes about them, we've lost.

Do read Djerejian's entire piece -- strangely enough, I agree with him, which I didn't think would ever happen.

* Someone remarked that liberals and progressives don't have to talk in code because they don't advocate ideas that the majority of people instinctively find morally repulsive. I wish I could remember who that was.


Dahlia Lithwick on the Washington State marriage decision (with a couple of swipes at New York on the way):

To do this, the majority first points out that the "court may assume the existence of any conceivable state of facts that could provide a rational basis for the classification"; that "empirical evidence" is not necessary; and that a statute can be rational even if it is over- or underinclusive, and even when it creates some "inequity."

Read: Only if the ban was enacted by insane people can it fail constitutional review.

This is a brilliantly funny article. The sad part is that the humor, black as it is, comes almost entirely from the quotes from the majority opinion. The majority opinion says, basically, that if the legislature did it, one need not look at empirical evidence, one need not consider whether the law actually achieves its ends -- or has any real potential to do so -- and that, unless the entire legislature has been institutionalized, the law is "rational."

Link thanks to Andrew Sullivan.

Here is a link to the opinions.

Here's Dale Carpenter at Volokh, quoted by GayPatriotWest:

Andersen is the most careful, closely reasoned, and comprehensive judicial opinion to date rejecting constitutional claims to gay marriage.

I confess to a high degree of mystification at this. I haven't had a chance to read the whole opinion yet, but in light of those excerpts I have read, I find his characterization of "careful, closely reasoned, and comprehensive" bizarre.

As for GayPatriot, this sort of sums it up:

All I know is…. I’m just glad Dale Carpenter does the reading and thinking for me.

From what I've seen, Dale Carpenter is not the only one who does his thinking for him.

I don't have time this morning to go into Carpenter's post or the opinion in more detail. (Which I will do, with a link.) Maybe tomorrow. Just on a quick glance, though, I can see some obvious flaws in Carpenter's comments.

A comment on GayPatriotWest's follow-up post: He seems prone to a fundamental misunderstanding of the roles of legislatures and courts in our society, which is, indeed, widespread, thanks to the likes of Donald Wildmon and George W. Bush, but not by that measure valid.. Yes, of course the legislature is the forum most immediately available and most desirable for debating and legislating these questions. However, legislatures, no matter what you might have heard, are not necessarily aware of the constitutional ramifications of their bills, and in some cases, they don't care. (Witness the several attempts by states to circumvent the establishment clause through mandating "moments of silence," the teaching of creationism, and the like.) The courts are our backstop in the realm of civil liberties, and any casual glance at the history of equal rights in this country will show that. To claim otherwise is simply to accede to the extreme right's assault on the courts and the idea of rational basis for law. Granted, "rational basis" is not something that contemporary conservatives seem to be interested in, but that is, after all, the basis of our legal system, and, for that matter, our whole society. (No, the basis of our society is not heterosexual marriage. You didn't really believe that, did you?)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hunter at Random, 7/28/06: Two Hits

Spending heaps of time at the office (people on vacation) and trying to jockey tandem reviews of A Scanner Darkly, the book and the movie. (Due up at GMR on August 13 -- watch for it/them -- I'm not sure if they'll be separate or a twofer yet.)

Another Military Victory:

This appeared among my streaming headlines from Earthlink:

A decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist was dismissed from the U.S. Army under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, though he says he never told his superiors he was gay and his accuser was never identified.

This is almost as good as the training manual that listed homosexuality as a disease:

On Dec. 2, investigators formally interviewed Copas and asked if he understood the military's policy on homosexuals, if he had any close acquaintances who were gay, and if he was involved in community theater. He answered affirmatively. [Emphasis added.]

OK -- I've stopped laughing now. How does this military expect to win a war? Oh, wait. . . .

Interesting note: This story was covered by John Aravosis at AmericaBlog, Wayne Besen, Pam Spaulding, Spencer Windes at LeftCoastBreakdown, and of course towleroad and cabanaboyscoot. Andrew Sullivan ignored it, as did GayPatriot. So did BlackFive, which in the past has had volumes to say about DADT. So, you see, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not a gay issue, or a military issue. It's an ideological issue. Which is not the way to run an army.

Second point of interest: it appears from the stories I've seen on this that the policy was not followed.

Third point of interest: this was provided by Earthlink News, which has been more interested in Floyd Landis than in gay rights. In fact, this strikes me as being the most significant point of all: it's not a major court case with nationwide ramifications, it's not a particularly huge story at all. In fact, it's the sort of thing that's become depressingly routine: witchhunts, badly needed specialists discharged, the brass warping the policy to suit their own homophobia. But this got reported somewhere besides the gay press.

I know this was in NYT, and probably in WaPo, although I didn't have time to read the stories. Read them, if you can find them. One things very plain: this is a stupid policy, and it's not working.


Andrew Sullivan finally caught up with this one, here and here. (After I posted.)

Why Lieberman is Bush's Favorite Democrat:

From firedoglake:

i’m calling to tell you how disappointed i am that you chose to associate yourself with joe lieberman by campaigning for him yesterday. now i am not referring to his policies, but rather to the fact that his staff refused entrance to two registered democrats who had legitimate tickets to hear you speak, one of whom was a connecticut resident. their names are jane hamsher and spazeboy and they wanted very much to hear what you had to say.

while they are both active in the campaign to elect ned lamont, neither has ever disrupted a lieberman event, heckled a lieberman speech or in anyway caused problems. but since they are known to be the opposition they were excluded from seeing you and hearing your speech.

Sound familiar?

I haven't commented on the Lieberman/Lamont imbroglio -- I'm unhappy enough with my own Senators, and they're much closer to being Democrats than Lieberman is. My feeling, though, is that if the voters of Connecticut want Lieberman, they deserve him. The problem is, the rest of us don't.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Gay Bourgeoisie

Because the bourgeoisie is all about conformity.

Stopped by GayPatriot today, and after wading through the standard whining about how bigoted the gay left is (leavened by a couple of comments demonstrating how wonderful conservatives are because they treat gay men just like real people), got to this post by GayPatriotWest:

I wonder sometimes if advocates of gay marriage realize what a huge social change state recognition of gay marriage would bring. The very discussion itself has already caused many in our own community, particularly gay men, to reevaluate their attitudes toward relationships.

Given that the consciousness of our community first developed during the Sexual Revolution, with many understanding freedom for gays not only as the freedom to live openly, but also as mandating that gay people free themselves from the sexual mores, including lifelong relationships, commonplace in American society up until that time.

I wonder sometimes if all gay activists are comfortable with a community that increasingly celebrates its couples and promotes a lifestyle different only from our straight peers in the gender of our life-partners.

First of all, I dispute one of his basic assumptions (big surprise, that): I think the comment about lifelong relationships is a straw man, in line with previous expressions by GayPatriotWest about marriage: to take the young, newly-out club culture as "gay culture" (as does Andrew Sullivan) is missing the boat completely, and the assumption that gay men are not interested in lifelong relationships is just that: an assumption.

I have known very few gay men who were not interested in stable, long-term relationships, and I'm going back to the seventies on this. I don't see much evidence that "gay" equals "lack of commitment." For one thing, the examples held up as "gay culture" by GayPatriot and Sullivan seem to revolve around the party scene (which, granted, some people never grow out of, but that's by no means the entire gay population, or even a significant portion of it -- just the most highly publicized). OK -- this is a group of people who are out to meet people. Some of them want to meet people for sex. Almost all of them are hoping for more than sex, but until the last few years, there weren't that many places where you could meet people. It was pretty much the bars, where you have this heady mix of alcohol and testosterone. All too often, the bright dreams of love and eternity turned into a one-night stand, which may have been fun, but usually left a residue of disappointment.

I also have to point out that our courtship rituals have been different. We didn't have a dating scene. Our courtships were, indeed, fueled by alcohol and testosterone, and our relationship-building seemed more often to be based on how the morning after went than what actually led to the night before. I personally think it has something to do with men and intimacy -- it's much easier to be open with someone when you wake up in his arms. We are raised with too many damned defenses against other men.

(Sidebar: I have absolutely nothing against recreational sex between consenting adults. I'd just like to see more honesty about it.)

This is something that happens with young people, gay and straight, especially in the last fifty years: they don't know how to maintain relationships. They not only have no experience, they have few models. This might be both a result of and a cause of the notorious 50% divorce rate. There are even fewer models for young gay men than for young straight men, and if they are also in the process of defining themseles as someone "not straight," they don't have much to fall back on. It's like trying to find your way in the dark with no map, no signs, and no flashlight. Those who can marry already have a leg up: everyone is going to support them as a couple. Which leads to:

Second point: marriage has been an option for gay couples for less than ten years. In the United States, it's been two years. If two men managed to maintain a relationship over any period of time, it was in spite of everything, including the expectation by straight society that our relationships would be ephemeral. (There is solid evidence that lowered expectations lead to lowered performance -- ask any educator.) Let's face it, straights have trouble doing it with a huge amount of social and legal support; to blame us because we can't do it in spite of everything working against us -- social ostracism, lowered expectations, lack of role models, and the aforementioned lack of state recognition -- is pretty asinine.

I don't see that state recognition of same-sex marriage is going to usher in such a huge social change as the right claims. Nothing's being redefined, nothing's being reformulated, nothing's being altered in any significant way. It's just part of the American process of widening the social network.

(Check out the comments on this post, by the way -- there are some interesting perspectives, particularly in the vein of "let people make their own decisions as to how they want to live," something that GayPatriot is generally short on.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Political Process:

One point that Glenn Reynolds broaches, in the post I was dicussing earlier, to me is indicative of a political philosophy with much broader ramifications than opposition to same-sex marriage. Reynolds says:

GAY MARRIAGE IN TENNESSEE: Not likely to happen in the near future, but some people are sufficiently upset at the possibility that there's a proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution that would define marriage as one-man/one-woman. I think that's a terrible idea: Such amendments are basically an attempt to block any change in political consensus by freezing things now, and that seems wrong to me in this context.

That is an essential part of the Christianist strategy, along with giving non-issues pride of place in the public debate and losing on them. The Republicans, as presently constituted, who somehow can't seem to forget that without their votes, the Civil Rights movement would have been stillborn (they honestly believe that, never mind that it was northern Republicans working with a Democratic President who knew how to twist arms), have adopted this strategy of excluding "pariahs" from the political life of the country. They tried it first with the notorious Amendment 2 in Colorado, and now they're trying essentially the same tactic with gay relationships -- strip all legal recognition of any kind from gay couples and enshrine it in constitutions so that reversing it will be as nearly impossible as they can make it.

I differ with Reynolds on one point: it seems wrong to me in any context. What the Christianists are trying to do is to freeze the public debate in their terms and in line with their theology, and we're already seeing some of the results with the current administration, which is a Christianist's wet dream.

The Right-Libertarian Argument:

On the SSM issue, I loved this quote from NYT:

“It’s had no effect on my marriage,” said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, “except we get invited to more weddings.”

By way of Andrew Sullivan, some comments on Glenn Reynolds' comments on gay marriage:

Glenn Reynolds airs many of the important points and calmly keeps asking the right questions, it seems to me. His responses are among the sanest I have read on the topic.

Well, that's only because Sullivan doesn't read my blog. Reynolds makes some good points, mostly in questioning the hard-right dogma on the issue, as witness this:

From a reader:

Our society has weakened its foundational stone, marriage, by breaking it free from procreation; we've accepted 'casual sex' and 'starter marriages'. The worst of all may just be 'blended' families - and egad, but what is this latest drumbeat of 'it takes all kinds of people to make a family'? Have we so forgotten the nuclear family that any accumulation and quantity of people together for any period are given the same status? Delusional.

So, you're wrong. Gay marriage will do two things simultaneously and result in a final devastation subsequently. It will 'prove' that the male/female relationship is not unique and valued in our society. It will 'prove' that marriage is not optimal for the healthy rearing of children. Finally, it will be the foot in the door to polygamy. Once we no longer require opposite gender relationships, you cannot legitimately defend the arbitrariness of the number of partners. You know that, as do I.

First, the flaws in this argument are so many and various -- and so shopworn -- what I won't comment on them. Reynold's response is, indeed, one of the few rational ones I've seen from the right:

Okay, more words -- but I still don't see the connection between allowing gay marriage and a society "easily freed from all interpersonal obligations, shedding relationships like worn clothing, children likened to vanity license plates." Where's the causal relationship here?

With Glenn Howes' example, it was predictable that if the government subsidized illegitimate children we'd get more of them. But what's the government subsidizing in the case of gay marriage? It's not promiscuity, or the casual production of children -- we already have plenty of both, and there's no reason I can see that gay marriage makes them more likely.

And of course, he's correct. Not only will same-sex marriage not contribute to the scenario that the comment provides, it will, in fact, operate against those trends. As for the polygamy bugaboo -- so what? That particular bete noir is pretty much irelevant to the question of same-sex marriage. (And frankly, I still don't understand why it's such a horror to Bible-based thinkers.)

The Glenn Howes mentioned is another reader who commented, and there I have problems. Howes' response begins:

Critics say that allowing gays to marry will grievously harm the institution of marriage as a whole. What are the odds in your mind that this is true?

The flaw is immediate, and lies in accepting the critics' statement at face value. There's no reason to do that, particularly with something this counterintuitive. It's not a question of odds, but of demanding that those espousing that viewpoint substantiate their claims. That's been one of the major problems with those who are trying to be "reasonable" on this: it's called letting the opposition frame the debate, which means you've given away any advantage you might have had. Reynolds' response makes the same basic, flawed assumption, which is that the objection is valid. Even if that statment comes from belief, those opposing should be demanding substantiation, and if it boils down to "because I believe it's true," we've already scored major points.

This comment from Reynolds is worth some discussion, as well:

UPDATE: This is part of a string of losses for gay marriage advocates, reports Dale Carpenter, who has detail on what's going on. As I've noted before, it seems to me that the big push on gay marriage came before the public was ready. You have to educate first; there's been good progress on public attitudes toward gays, but it actually seems to go faster when gay marriage advocates aren't getting a lot of publicity and calling people who disagree with them bigots.

First of all, on the surface the spate of state constitutional amendments can be read as a loss for SSM, but -- and there's a big "but" here -- the repeated failures at the national level (and in fact, the static vote levels in Congress on this) are the big victory. Taken in light of changing attitudes, and all else being equal, when the time comes the federal courts will make state constitutions conform to the U.S. Constitution. It won't be the first time.

The knottier problem is the whole "premature/educate the public" thing. That's what's happening, but the noise from the bigots -- and I'm sorry, but a big portion of this is being fueled by bigots -- is obscuring that fact. It didn't become a high-visilibity issue until Focus on the Family and their ilk got hold of it. They've been quite upfront about its effect on their fundraising, which is quite blatantly the major value of the issue to them.

No, not everyone who opposes same-sex marriage is a bigot, but we're treading a very fine line here. If you take bigotry as denial of equal status to a group in the absence of rational reasons, which seems a viable definition to me, then the line is indeed a very fine one. I'm sorry that Suillivan and Reynolds think we shouldn't use the word, and in practical terms they be be correct in part. I think there probably is a proportion of anti-SSM adherents who couldn't be called bigots, but the fact is that the opposition relies on bigotry. Most Germans in the 1930s were not anti-Jewish, but that didn't stop them from voting in the Nazis.

Anyway, back to the education part: Vermont, Massachusetts, now Connecticut, as well as Canada, The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, are the education, but the anti-SSM forces don't want you to see what's going on there. Aside from the spurious "studies" regularly and dutifully reported by Howard Kurtz (most of which, it seems, he makes up off the top of his head), there is little coverage of what the effect of same-sex marriage has been. (See the quote from Jim McGovern above.) Granted, it's too soon to tell, but this will fall into the same category as the reports on gay couples raising children. The right wing will make up their own set of facts, most of which will directly contravene the facts found from actual studies (thanks to Paul Cameron), and expound them endlessly, while the MSM will dutifully report their whoppers with no rebuttal.

This is one where the gay "leadership" got blindsided, but not by the gay grassroots. They were done in by the right wing (quelle surprise!). Again.


This comment, from Atrios, got me thinking:

House rejects constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. I've been getting a bit confused about the politics of this stuff. Yes I know it allows them to claim that about of Democrats love the gay even more than they love the terrorist, or something, but at some point I have to believe that failing to actually win on any of this stuff has to make them look like a bunch of losers.

Losing is part of the strategy, in a perverse kind of way. You have to remember that the victim mantra is a keystone of the Christianist strategy -- it's a vast conspiracy by everyone but them to destroy America. If they don't lose on things like this, then how can there be an evil cabal out to subvert our values? That's why they take on these hopeless agendas.


I've come to the conclusion that when a conservative (and I don't mean the rabid right-wing thugs, I mean any conservative) uses the term "objectively," it means "in their opinion, which may or may not have any basis."

Take this comment by Andrew Sullivan:

As for my later comments about opponents of the Iraq war being "objectively pro-Saddam," that seems to me to be indisputable. If they'd had their way, he'd still be in power.

Sorry -- does not compute. I opposed the war in Iraq going in, while recognizing that Saddam Hussein, like a number of other heads of state, is a blot on the face of humanity. My stance was simply that we had no business invading Iraq, particularly on the basis of questionable intelligence (and there were enough questions about it then that I think opposition was more than justified). When facing something as serious as armed conflict with another country, I'm not going to be persuaded by the rationale du jour, particularly when there is a new rationale every few days. Obviously someone was flailing around until they found something that worked, and at that point, it's not about Saddam at all -- it's about wondering what the hell my own government is up to and what its motivations are.

Sullivan seems to be blind to the fact that Saddam's regime was, I think for most of us who opposed the war, irrelevant to opposition to the invasion. Frankly, if we had to take him down, there are other, more subtle ways of doing it, even short of assassination. I had hoped that Sullivan was more skeptical of a testosterone-fueld foreign policy, but on this issue at least, he seems to have lost the ability to think raionally. (Not that his logic is the strongest in general, but he's usually better than this.)

Sullivan does himself no favors by espousing viewpoints like this -- it's so obviously flawed that even he should be able to see it. As it stands, he's lining himself up with the likes of Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt and Jonah Goldberg, which is a triumvirate to make any rational human being shiver.

And please note that Sullivan conveniently ignores all the strictures of international law. In those terms, we are, quite simply, the aggressor. Objectively.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Don't You Feel Safer Now?

Or I could call this Your Tax Dollars At Work:

A Homeland Security database of vulnerable terror targets in the United States, which includes an insect zoo but not the Statue of Liberty, is too flawed to determine allocation of federal security funds, the department's internal watchdog found.

Much of the study by Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner appears to have been done before the department announced in May it would cut security grants to New York and Washington by 40 percent this year.

The report, which was released Tuesday, affirmed the fury of those two cities -- the two targets of the September 11, 2001, attacks -- which claimed the department did not accurately assess their risks.

Instead, the department's database of vulnerable critical infrastructure and key resources included an insect zoo, a bourbon festival, a bean fest and a kangaroo conservation center. They represent examples of key assets identified in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Maryland.

I don't know that I really need to comment, except to say "You're doing a heckuva job, fellas."

Backbone, Marriage, and Democrats: A Ramble

Gavin Newsom, in Rolling Stone:

Not every Democrat in Washington agrees with gay marriage. But I will make the case — based on some strong evidence — that an overwhelming majority do. But they just can’t say it. And that is a limitation that is causing more damage than the issue. Because, again, it shows a weakness of character.

This is really one of the great final civil rights struggles, and again I say to my colleagues in the Democratic party: Why are you a Democrat if you can’t stand on a fundamental construct that has always distinguished our party. That we didn’t sit around. We advanced the issues of equality. We engaged the American people head on.

From Matthew Iglesias, who falls into the Democrat trap:

If I might throw in my two cents, I would further strongly urge Democrats who don't believe marriage is between a man and a woman but who feel they ought to pretend to believe this in order to win elections (a plausible position) need to do a better job of pretending. I've heard a shockingly large number of politicians say things, in rooms where journalists are present, that make it perfectly clear that they think gay marriage is just fine but that the voters aren't ready for it. That's a sensible thing to believe, but you can't go around saying it if you're trying to win votes. If you're going to lie, then lie -- and lie convincingly!

My advice to Democrats: no matter what you believe, take a position in line with the Democratic tradition of individual liberty, take it forcefully, and stick to it.

The discussion after Iglesias' post is most interesting, particularly some comments by Equal Opportunity:

On a personal note, it's also the only way I've found to reconcile my deep moral beliefs (that same-sex unions are an affront to the divinely-created institution of marriage) and my political ones (that government has no business giving my moral beliefs preference over other people's).

I wish more on the Christian Right felt that way, except that I still have problems equating morality with being against gay rights (and note that EO doesn't say he supports gay rights, just that he doesn't feel the government should be legislating his brand of morality). EO actually does note that the Christianists are using this issue for demagoguery, but perhaps in not strong enough terms. The exchange following his post is interesting (although for some reason, I don't seem to find the all reflexive Bush-hating and people-of-faith bashing that all the conservative pundits tell me must be there).

Note also this comment by jhaber:

I have a big problem with Matt's approach, quite aside from the immorality of lying, the likelihood of getting caught, or the need to run on principle. It accepts the framing of electability around "values" and of "values" around a rigid worldview most Americans don't really hold. Then it struggles to win by convincing voters that you, too, are rigid.

Which is close to my own position.

And, as these sorts of posts tend to take on a life of their own as I surf a little further, some comments from GayPatriotWest:

Gay marriage advocates could do a better job of taking on opponents of gay marriage if they made clear that they recognized monogamy as an essential aspect of marriage for same- as well as different-sex couples. I agree with them that gay marriage per se doesn’t threaten the institution of marriage as we have long understood it in our culture, the monogamous lifetime union of one man and one woman. But, because advocates of gay marriage have, by and large, failed to address monogamy, I do see where the social conservatives are coming from.

When pushing for gay marriage, too few of its advocates talk about standards. Without standards, gay marriage does represent a threat to traditional marriage as it creates a union that is little more than two people shacking up with the same freedom they enjoyed before they took their vows.

My first reaction, of course, is "Why should gay couples be held to a higher standard than those who oppose same-sex marriage?" Considering that some of the most high-profile opponents of gay rights, including marriage, have been divorced, are known to have had extramarital affairs, or have been caught soliciting other men for sex, why hold us up to the "monogamy/divorce" question? (And keep in mind that the divorce rate is highest among conservative Christians.)

My second question is "Why impute to us motives in wanting to get married that are not in step with everyone else's?" GayPatriotWest is simply buying into the anti-gay rhetoric that gay men are all about sex and nothing else. There is no basis for that, and never was. I think we're just a lot more honest about sex.

I think his next paragraph just supports my viewpoint:

To show that advocates are aware of the life-changing meaning of those vows, it is of paramount importance that we discuss monogamy and other standards recognized as essential to marriage (as it’s currently understood) when we advocate extending its definition to include same-sex couples. When we make clear that monogamy is an essential aspect of marriage, we show that we recognize that this sacred institution represents a deeper level of commitment than just two people shacking up.

He's putting us on the defensive from the beginning by regurgitating the right-wing talking points without question. What gay conservatives should be saying is not "we have to prove we're as good as everyone else," but "they have to prove we're not" and nail the Dobsons, Wildmons, Santorums and fellow travelers with their lies and distortions. I'm much more with Newsom and Feingold on this one.

And there, in a nutshell, is my problem with gay conservatives.

(There was another post at GayPatriot about the "continuing attacks on gay conservatives" and how you could lose a boyfriend from politics. I have a feeling there's a little bit more to it.)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

At Random/ 7/15/06

And The Meek Shall Inherit. . .

Whatever the strong want them to have, I guess.

Arlen Specter, Guardian of Democracy:

This bill is not a compromise but a full-fledged capitulation on the part of the legislative branch to executive claims of power. Mr. Specter has not been briefed on the NSA's program. Yet he's proposing revolutionary changes to the very fiber of the law of domestic surveillance -- changes not advocated by key legislators who have detailed knowledge of the program. This week a remarkable congressional debate began on how terrorists should face trial, with Congress finally asserting its role in reining in overbroad assertions of presidential power. What a tragedy it would be if at the same time, it acceded to those powers on the fundamental rights of Americans.

Y'know, Arlen Specter is turning out to be one of the most mealy-mouthed liars in the Senate, and that takes some hard work. No wonder my friends in Philadelphia aren't impressed.

The cynic in me says, "Yeah, watch this congressional debate -- the House wants to legalize Gitmo, some of them want to make it worse, and Bush and Rumsfeld, as it turns out, were lying when they said they would adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Again.

Shout Radio.

I like that. I hadn't heard it before until I ran across it at Outside the Tent. Another reason I don't listen to talk radio: I get enough of people being stupid and ignorant just working a switchboard.

Idiot of the Week:

Also thanks to Outside the Tent, here's a blog at TownHall, where the clueless right hangs out. This blogger's handle is, appropriately enough, "dopey."

Get this (scroll down to "Not My Brother's Fault"):

Well, duh. The more brothers you have, the more likelihood that one of them will be a "You Know What" or left-handed, or blue-eyed. It's the same kind of junk science that supports global warming because even if it is warmer now, the more years you have the more likely it is that one of them will be warm.

I'm not making this up. (I'm not actually convinced that this isn't a parody -- the wingnuts at TownHall would never catch it, that's for sure.)

Ewww! Gross!

I didn't think anything could top the white stretched passenger van I've seen lurching around downtown for bad taste, but today . . . well, brace yourself:

A white, stretched 2+2 pick-up truck, complete with custom rear bed cover.

OK, that's it -- the end of civilization as we know it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Junk Commentaries

This, from Andrew Sullivan, is just so much bullshit:

Ideological purism is on the march - against Democrats like Lieberman who favor an aggressive fight against our enemy and against conservatives resisting the new fundamentalist authoritarianism of the GOP.

Sullivan is doing exactly what he scores others for doing, which is taking the actions of the fringes as the totality of the movement. He relies on an OpEd by David Brooks, that sterling example of the dynamic intellectualism of the right, from NYT (firewalled, ufortunately, so I couldn't read the whole thing). (But then, Sullivan has relied on Charles Krauthammer's arguments in the past, so I suppose this is no real surprise):

Hardcore leftists - like, for instance, most current leaders of GLBT-rights organizations - apply ideological "purity tests" to their members. When I was a committed leftist, I failed one of these purity tests (I didn't think America deserved the 9/11 attacks) and suffered the wrath of my comrades for such heterodox thinking.

Let's just ignore the fact that HRC, the major gay rights organization, has endorsed Lieberman in the Connecticut primary. In fact, HRC periodically endorses candidates that make my hair stand up, and I'm not even that much of a leftist. So do the Stonewall Democrats. The days of Urvashi Vaid as the icon of the gay rights movement are long past.

Be that as it may, it occurs to me that this is promulgating another right-wing lie. All the discussion I've seen about Lieberman on left-wing blogs centers on his Republican positions on issues. Republican positions seem to stem, at this point, from an inability to distinguish between civil and religious law (a reason, perhaps, that Lieberman is also known as "Holy Joe"). The real dissatisfaction is not that Lieberman is heterodox in his thinking, but that he is arrogant enough to think that he is not answerable to the party rank and file for his positions, that he is somehow a "great man" who is above all that (just like his very good friend, George W. Bush). There's a real easy answer to that, which Lieberman seems to be developing on his own: bolt the party. It wouldn't be the first time it had happened, particularly during periods when our major parties are redefining themselves -- as the Republicans become the party of intrusive government, a saber-rattling foreign policy (where they have one at all), an investor-oriented economoy, and uncontrolled government spending, and the Democrats become the party of civil rights, support for workers, fiscal responsibility, and diplomacy as the cornerstone of foreign policy, it's understandable that someone like Lieberman doesn't fit any more. His mistake is that he thinks he can operate independently of the Democratic Party but keep the perks and the support. Sorry, Joe -- don't work that way.

It gets better (or worse, I guess). Brooks, again:

The problem with today's conservatives is that in their desire to present a united front at all costs, they've begun to act just like the leftists they claim to despise. I don't have a solution for this quandary, and I suspect there may not be one. Perhaps the allure of political influence makes true freedom of thought impossible.

While we're at it, let's rewrite history. The problem with the Democrats is that they don't have any ideological purity and never did. The "united front" is a phenomenon of the Christianist right. It always has been, starting with Reagan, who at least had the sense to present the front but not give its proponents any real influence in his administration. Then we come to Gingrich and the Contract on America, followed by the lockstep theocons who are running the GOP.

Let's get the record straight, shall we?

Sullivan should stick to the ivory tower ruminations. Brooks is simply a joke.


See this post by Jane Hamsher at FDL. He's even starting to sound like Bush. In fact, FDL has a series of posts on Lieberman and his woes. Go to the main page and just scroll down.

I don't see much mention of "ideological purity," though.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bragging Rights

I'm going hot and heavy at reviews for the Peter S. Beagle special edition of GMR (online this coming Sunday), but wanted to brag a little:

My editor at GMR sent me a couple days ago this link to Alexander Irvine's site, where he quotes from my review of The Narrows. He even spelled my name right.

Then yesterday, as a break from writing, I sat down with my advance copy of Ellen Kushner's The Privilege of the Sword, which is out at the beginning of August (my review is slated for the August 13 edition of GMR, along with Elizabeth Bear's Blood and Iron, a reissue of Philip K. Dick's Through a Scanner Darkly, and most likely a review of the reissue of C. L. Moore's Judgment Night from Gnome Press and, if I get a copy of Sethra Lavode from the publisher in time, an omni of Steven Brust's Khaavren Romances, which I am really looking forward to writing). Browsing through the plugs in the front, I ran across the last paragraph of my review of The Fall of the Kings from Rambles, quoted almost in full. I have to admit, that's been a secret dream of mine -- to be quoted in print on the book cover or with the other raves inside. Almost got it -- they didn't use my name. (And Cat Eldridge tells me that Ellen Kushner is looking forward to my review of Privilege.)

Of course there's a first cause under all this: many people, I have discovered, look down on Internet review sites as not quite legitimate, which in some cases may be true -- I've read some really horrible reviews on the Web. But then, I've read some really horrible reviews in print, too. But, if you take a look, you'll find sites like IROSF or Green Man Review or Locus Online (actually, they've mentioned me, too), or Science Fiction Weekly, where you can get some thoughtful and honest discussions. There are a whole group of reviewers/critics who are developing an online presence, of which I seem to be one.

(Speaking of Locus Online, I just discovered that two of my recent GMR reviews, of Tanya Huff and Diana Wynne Jones, were noted on July 6.)

The Internet is, before all else, a big brawling mess of free access (at least until Congress hands it over to the big phone companies), so just remember -- there's a lot of junk out there, but there's a lot of good stuff, too. The problem some people seem to have with it, as far as I can see, is that you have to evaluate it yourself -- no one's going to tell you what's good and what's dreck.

OK -- enough bragging. Back to slaving over a hot keyboard.,

Sunday, July 09, 2006

More on Marriage

Check out Andrew Sullivan's recent posts on the New York marriage decision. I think he's making one basic mistake, which is accepting the court's assumptions at face value, but I don't have time to go into it right now.

Later. . . .


From one of Andrew Sullivan's readers:

My choice - and yours - is to join up with a reality-based community that trusts expertise, democratic processes, and established institutions and makes fact-based decisions (these days called liberals), or to join up with a community of relativistic mystics who are not open to reason or persuasion, distrust democracy, reject standards of behavior because they believe themselves to be inherently godly, and have no use for traditional democratic institutions. These tradition-despising relativistic mystics we call conservatives.

The problem with shifting definitions is that no one ever stands there and says, "OK -- we're changing the definition of 'conservative.'" (Or marriage, or torture, or. . . .) Read the whole post. It's really "spot on," as Sullivan would say.

Election Year

I guess Orange Alerts aren't working any more, so we're foiling plots.

They said the plot was still in the planning stage and that those involved had not done any reconnaissance or obtained weapons. An FBI official said none of the suspects had ever been in the United States. . . .

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security called the plotters a "terrorist network," and Lebanese officials said the suspect in custody there had confessed, calling himself the mastermind of the plot and pledging allegiance to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

"We believe we have what I'll call eight principal players and that we have them largely identified," Mershon said, adding that the suspects were on three continents. He declined to disclose the nationalities of the suspects.

"We don't have charges pending in the U.S. so there certainly will be no extradition," he said.

So, let's see -- so far, it's all talk on a chat room, the conspirators are on three continents (but not here), and the mastermind is planning to travel to Pakistan (our good friend and ally in the WOT?) for training.

Y'know, at least the "terrorists" in Miami were in this country.

And there are no charges pending. Again.

This has to be playing to the base, because they are the only ones I can think of who are going to look at announcements like this uncritically. For anyone else, it's really damaging to our perception of the competence of our government for it to be crowing about "foiling" plots that barely exist at all outside of someone's imagination (and I'm not sure that "someone" is limited to the plotters). We might as well be raiding schoolboys' treehouses.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Hit and Run

Don't really have time for a full analysis this morning (I need to be concentrating on Peter S. Beagle), but here's a couple of notes on the NY court decision on SSM.

I haven't been able to find the full text of the decision yet, but every excerpt I've seen from the majority opinion in the New York SSM case is deeply flawed. Here's one article from NYT, and an excerpt from the opinions. (Found the opinion, here at No. 88.

First, the Legislature could rationally decide that for the welfare of children, it is more important to promote stability, and to avoid instability, in opposite-sex than in same-sex relationships. Heterosexual intercourse has a natural tendency to lead to the birth of children; homosexual intercourse does not. Despite the advances of science, it remains true that the vast majority of children are born as a result of a sexual relationship between a man and a woman, and the Legislature could find that this will continue to be true. The Legislature could also find that such relationships are all too often casual or temporary. It could find that an important function of marriage is to create more stability and permanence in the relationships that cause children to be born. It thus could choose to offer an inducement - in the form of marriage and its attendant benefits - to opposite-sex couples who make a solemn, long-term commitment to each other.

The Legislature could find that this rationale for marriage does not apply with comparable force to same-sex
couples. These couples can become parents by adoption, or by artificial insemination or other technological marvels, but they do not become parents as a result of accident or impulse. The Legislature could find that unstable relationships between people of the opposite sex present a greater danger that children will be born into or grow up in unstable homes than is the case with same-sex couples, and thus that promoting stability in opposite sex relationships will help children more. This is one reason why the Legislature could rationally offer the benefits of marriage to opposite-sex couples only.

Well, aside from the fact that this argument doesn't say much good about heterosexual relationships, it seems to promote the idea that children being raised by opposite-sex couples somehow deserve the preferred status implicit in having married parents, while children being raised by same-sex couples do not, merely because in the first case, actual child-birth is involved (conveniently leaving out those lesbian couples who opt for artificial insemination). By this reasoning, all children are born to opposite-sex couples (with which I don't argue), but the fact of birth is only one part of child-rearing, although an essential part. However, people seem to have no problem breeding, married or no. Consequently, the conclusions simply do not follow from the facts. There's a major lack of contact with reality here, and the second paragraph is completely off in space.

There is a second reason: The Legislature could rationally believe that it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and a father. Intuition and experience suggest that a child benefits from having before his or her eyes, every day, living models of what both a man and a woman are like. It is obvious that there are exceptions to this general rule - some children who never know their fathers, or their mothers, do far better than some who grow up with parents of both sexes - but the Legislature could find that the general rule will usually hold. …

There is no evidence to support this whatsoever, and in fact, there is growing evidence that it makes little or no difference whether a child is raised by opposite-sex or same-sex parents. I'm afraid there's more intuition than experience in this, and the intuition is perhaps equally cast as wishful thinking.


The whole argument concerning stability and the needs of children in the majority opinion is even sketchier in the light of this study, reported at Gay.com:

Children of same-sex couples benefit when their parents are able to marry or form civil unions, according to a report commissioned by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-Being of Children," published Wednesday in the July issue of Pediatrics, concluded that civil marriage can strengthen families and help foster financial and legal security, psychosocial stability, and a greater sense of societal acceptance and support for kids.

This just reinforces the speciousness of the argument by the majority in New York. Sloppy, and that's being kind.

In sum, there are rational grounds on which the Legislature could choose to restrict marriage to couples of opposite sex. Plaintiffs have not persuaded us that this long accepted restriction is a wholly irrational one, based solely on ignorance and prejudice against homosexuals. This is the question on which these cases turn. …

Until a few decades ago, it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex. A court should not lightly conclude that everyone who held this belief was irrational, ignorant or bigoted. …

No one is really asking for that kind of context -- and the context is really somewhat strained. The question is, as the dissent points out,

The court concludes, however, that same-sex marriage is not deeply rooted in tradition, and thus cannot implicate any fundamental liberty. But fundamental rights, once recognized, cannot be denied to particular groups on the ground that these groups have historically been denied those rights. …

Simply put, fundamental rights are fundamental rights. They are not defined in terms of who is entitled to exercise them. …el4 The claim that marriage has always had a single and unalterable meaning is a plain distortion of history. In truth, the common understanding of "marriage" has changed dramatically over the centuries. …

The long duration of a constitutional wrong cannot justify its perpetuation, no matter how strongly tradition or public sentiment might support it. …

This last statement has become a standard of American Constitutional jurisprudence.

There is already a bit of a buzz that the New York decision will affect the thinking in other state courts on this issue, and I suppose that the Christianists are going to make as much of it as they can, so it may do some damage in the short run. However, I suggest that the dissent, which seems to be more closely argued, will have equal if not greater weight ultimately. The majority decision is just simply a bad opinion from any rational standpoint -- faulty logic, false assumptions, the works. It's almost as bad as Bowers.


The following is cross-posted from a discussion at Epinions Addicts:

realtraveller said:

Both of these cases were more about the separation of powers than anything else. The Georgia case was about whether the referendum was a valid vote of the people. They ruled it was. The NY case said that the definition of marriage was up to the legislature, not the courts.

In every such case I know of, the courts have told the legislature to fix it. Even in Massachusetts, a/k/a Satan Incarnate, the court gave the legislature time to come up with a remedy, which it did not do. This is perfectly in keeping with the role of the courts and separation of powers. The BS about the courts usurping the role of the legislatures is just that -- BS.

Please also note that it seems to be symptomatic of the Christianists that instead of a remedy making statutes conform to constitutional requirements, their first reaction is to demand an amendment making constitutions conform to their theology.

It seems to me that in most of these cases the wrong questions are being asked and answered. It's somewhat similar to
Bowers and Lawrence: in Bowers, the Court answered the question (Scalia's favorite) of whether the Constitution guarantees the right to homosexual behavior. (Even then, one could argue that it does, under the Ninth Amendment.) The Lawrence Court got it right: the real question is, what are the limits on state power to regulate the behavior of consenting adults?

It seems to me that SSM is another case in which we should be asking, not what rights the Constitution guarantees to individuals, but what the limits are on the state's power to interfere in their behavior. Who said the government should be defining marriage to begin with? (Come to think of it, "one man/one woman" is pretty lame as a "definition" anyway -- doesnt' tell you what a marriage is at all.)

I haven't seen the Georgia decision, which seems to be quite limited in scope and fairly technical anyway, but the New York decision is already being touted as influential, which may be the case, but it really is a piece of junk. The dissent seems to be much more coherent, and could be equally influential -- it wouldn't be the first time that a dissenting opinion eventually became law.

Fasten your seatbelts -- it's going to be a bumpy night.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Mindset

The latest NYT/right wingnut flap (the pictures of Cheney's and Rumsfeld's vacation homes in that staple of terrorist reading, the Weekend Travel section) gets a good summary from Glenn Greenwald.

Byrd evidently believes that she knows more than both Rumsfeld himself and the Secret Service about security issues surrounding Cheney and Rumsfeld, as she continues to insinuate that the NYT story really did pose a security threat even though both Rumsfeld's office and the Secret Service said that it did not. Just pause for a moment to contemplate the level of denseness and imperviousness to reason which that reaction requires -- and then consider that Malkin, Horowitz and Maguire are levels beyond (or, as it were, below) that, given that they continue not merely to insinuate, but to insist, that they were right all along.

Y'know, I could have told you stuff like this would happen. I've followed the right-wingnut creationists and IDiots for awhile now, and they are completely impervious to facts. Why should the political right-wingnuts (who are mostly the same people) be any different? Ann Coulter's comments on evolution and Paul Cameron's "research" on gays are good cases in point: when all else fails, lie about it.

Given that so many people believe this, the piece I published in the last post isn't so far off base.

Read Greenwald's whole post -- lots of information there about how completely out of touch with objective reality the icons of the right are.

Atrios has a post that quotes extensively from a piece by Nicholas Kristof (behind NYT's TimeSelect firewall) that attacks the same issue from a slightly different angle:

With President Bush leading a charge against this "disgraceful" newspaper, and a conservative talk show host, Melanie Morgan, suggesting that maybe The Times's executive editor should be executed for treason, we face a fundamental dispute about the role of the news media in America.

At stake is the administration's campaign to recast the relationship between government and press.

The "fundamental dispute" is really much wider than Kristof describes: we have a political faction that is determined to do away with our form of government by removing any checks on the executive. I have to say, the press has had a hand in its own . . . well, "demise" is perhaps too strong a word. But, let me hold it up to all you journalists out there: this is what happens when you don't ask questions.

And maybe the liberal PC attitude that we must respect all opinions, no matter how valueless or lacking in substance, has only added to the nightmare. Sure, in a context in which people are used to thinking critically, that might work, but we have a context in which people are not used to thinking at all.

It's all of a piece: an independent press is "disgraceful." An independent judiciary is "activist." Disagreeing with the administration's policies is "treason." Congress under the Republicans is a rubber stamp that will retroactively legalize anything the president wants to do.

Next to this, anything the Democrats can do to screw up the country is insignificant.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Core

I got this in my e-mail.

Bush Losing Core Supporters

WASHINGTON, May 11 - President Bush appears to be losing support among a key group of voters who had hitherto stood firmly with the president even as his poll numbers among other groups fell dramatically.

A new Gallup poll shows that, for the first time, Bush's approval rating has fallen below 50% among total fucking morons, and now stands at 44%. This represents a dramatic drop compared to a poll taken just last December, when 62% of total fucking morons expressed support for the president and his policies.

The current poll, conducted by phone with 1,409 total fucking morons between May 4 and May 8, reveals that only 44% of those polled believe the president is doing a good job, while 27% believe he is doing a poor job and 29% don't understand the question.

The December poll, conducted by phone with 1,530 total fucking morons, showed 62% approved of the president, 7% disapproved and 31% didn't understand the question.
Faltering approval ratings for the president among a group once thought to be a reliable source of loyal support gives Republicans one more reason to be nervous about the upcoming mid-term elections.

"If we can't depend on the support of total fucking morons," says Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), "then we've got a big problem. They're a key factor in our electoral strategy, and an important part of today's Republican coalition."

"We've taken the total fucking moron vote for granted," says Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), "and now we're paying for it. We've let the Democrats control the debate lately, and they've dragged discourse back into the realm of complex, nuanced issues. So your average total fucking moron turns on his TV and sees his Republican Congressman arguing about Constitutional law or the complexities of state formation in the Middle East, and he tunes out. He wants to hear comforting, pandering, flattering bromides and he doesn't want to hear a logical argument more complex than what you'd find on a bumper sticker."

For Feeney, the poll is a dire warning that Republicans can ignore only at their peril. "This should send a signal that we have to regain control of the debate if we want the support of our key constituencies in the coming election and beyond. We need to bring public discourse back into the realm of stupidity and vacuity. We should be talking about homosexual illegal immigrants burning flags. We should be talking about the power of pride. We should be talking about freedom fries. These are the issues that resonate with total fucking morons."

But some total fucking morons say it's too late.

Bill Snapple of Enid, Oklahoma is a total fucking moron who voted for Bush in both 2000 and 2004. But he says he won't be voting for Bush in 2008. "I don't like it that he was going to sell our ports to the Arabs. If the Arabs own the ports then that means they'll let all the Arabs in and then we'll all be riding camels and wearing towels on our heads. I don't want my children singing the Star Spangled Banner in Muslim."

Total fucking moron Kurt Meyer of Turlock, California also says his once solid support for Bush has collapsed. "He invaded Iraq and all those soldiers died, and for what? We destroyed all their WMDs, but now their new president is making fun of us and saying he's going to build nuclear bombs and that we can't stop him. Well, nuclear bombs are even worse than WMDs, so what did we accomplish?"

Laura McDonald, a total fucking moron from Chandler, Arizona, says she is disappointed that the president hasn't been a more forceful advocate of Christian values. "This country was founded on Christian values," she says, "but you'd never know it looking around and seeing all the Mexicans running around. I thought Bush was going to bring Jesus back into the government. Instead, Christians are being persecuted worse than ever before in history, because all these Mexicans come here and tell Christians that we have to respect their religious beliefs. So now it's illegal for children to pray in school. Soon it will be illegal for them to speak English."

Not all total fucking morons have turned their backs on the president. Jeb Larkin of Topeka, Kansas says he still fully supports Bush. "He is doing a great job. He is a great president. He is a real decider. I have a puppy. His tail sticks straight up and you can see his butthole."

And not all Republican lawmakers are concerned about the poll. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), for one, does not find it a cause for anxiety. While he agrees that his party should not take total fucking morons for granted, they "really don't have anywhere else to go. They're never going to be able to understand someone like Al Gore or John Kerry or anybody intelligent and articulate who wants to talk about substantive issues. Just try having a conversation with one of them about global warming. They'll say, 'Oh, but Rush says volcanoes consume more ozone than humans do.' I mean, they're morons! Total fucking morons!"

"They've got nowhere else to go," Alexander reaffirms with a smile, "and they always vote."

Saturday, July 01, 2006

At Random, 7/1/06, Part II

Lots of juicy news today.

Top Secret

Excellent piece by Michael Tomasky at American Prospect on the Times/SWIFT bullshit.

I needn’t retail all the ways in which the charge against the Times is phony. That’s been done elsewhere. Keith Olbermann demolished the argument on his June 28 program, showing a series of clips of Bush saying several times after 9-11 in public forums that we were tracking terrorists’ banking activities. The terrorist who didn’t assume this was happening after September 11 is a terrorist with an IQ of roughly 65, and thus more likely to blow himself up than us.

Instead, what’s important here is modern conservatism’s jihad against the very existence of disinterested (not the same as un-interested) arbiters of public discourse and civil society, of which the Times, for all its faults, continues to be among the most important.

OK -- which is the real right wingnut screed?

Jon Swift

In a victory for terrorists and their liberal sympathizers, five members of the United States Supreme Court have ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo deserve trials just like American citizens. I don't know how anyone can argue that this does not "aid and abet" our enemies, which is the very definition of treason. Some people are arguing that President Bush should simply ignore the decision and tell the Supreme Court as Andrew Jackson once did that now that they have made their decision they should try to enforce it. Others are suggesting Congress pass a law negating the Court's decision. No doubt, the Bush Administration is already at work thinking up other ways to get around the decision. But I think the best plan would be to declare these five Supreme Court justices themselves enemy combatants.

Adam Yoshida:

It may not be a popular or politically correct thing to say – though I’ve never courted popularity or embraced political correctness – but the editors and reporters at the New York Times ought to go to be put to death for their crimes against this country. The reporting of classified information about covert operations against terrorism – including the CIA’s secret prisons, the NSA’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, and the effort to monitor terrorist banking transactions through SWIFT are crimes against this nation at least as great as those of Aldrich Ames or the Rosenbergs. In reporting these vital national secrets, the media – and it’s not just the Times, I’ll add, they’re merely the worst offenders – are virtually acting as spies on behalf of our enemies.

Remember, please, that Yoshida is Canadian, and I think would have a great future ahead of him writing for either The Onion or Comedy Central, but he's serious.


The exchange between Jim Webb and Sen. George Felix Allen, Jr. has gotten a lot of coverage. I like the comments at Sadly, No! best:

Only two weeks after earning the Democratic nomination in a mostly civil primary election, Jim Webb dialed up the rhetoric Tuesday, verbally carpet-bombing Sen. George Allen over differences the two have on flag burning.

Allen campaign manager Dick Wadhams had accused Webb of being “beholden to liberal Washington senators” because he was against the Allen-supported flag-burning amendment to the Constitution that died in the Senate on Tuesday.

Webb considered the comments to be an attack on his patriotism because he objects to tinkering with the First Amendment.

“George Felix Allen Jr. and his bush-league lapdog, Dick Wadhams, have not earned the right to challenge Jim Webb’s position on free speech and flag burning,” Webb spokesman Steve Jarding said in a press release. “Jim Webb served and fought for our flag and what it stands for, while George Felix Allen Jr. chose to cut and run.

“When he and his disrespectful campaign puppets attack Jim Webb, they are attacking every man and woman who served. Their comments are nothing more than weak-kneed attacks by cowards.”

Brad R at Sadly, No! comments:

At last! This is how you deal with bullies, children: you sock it right back at ‘em. Watch how quickly they back off once you show them you’ll fight back.

Think the Democrats will take the hint? I doubt it.

(And, as someone notes in the Comments: Dick Wadhams? Puh-leeze! I wonder if he ever thought of a career as an . . . er . . . actor.)

At Random, 7/1/06

The "Faith" Argument:

Here's a post by Michelle Goldberg that pinpoints a few things that have been bothering me about Barack Obama's famous "faith" speech:

Unfortunately, Obama's rhetoric ends up reinforcing Republican myths about liberal Godlessness instead of challenging them. . . .

Obama recognizes this, but he errs in taking Republican propaganda as fact, or, to put it in Lakoff's terms, in accepting the GOP frame. He perpetuates the fantasy that there really is a liberal war on faith.

The speech is here.


Here's a post by Digby that I think captures a lot of what the Hamdan decision was all about:

What the Supreme Court said is you have the trial first, you use the procedures that are set up under international law, and then you decide whether they‘re a thug. You don‘t make the thug determination going in.

That's Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, Hamdan's attorney. This has destroyed his career in the Navy (I think a letter to my senators is in order on that) by doing the job he was supposed to do. That's really the saddest commentary on what our government has become.

Digby goes on:

Why is this so hard to understand? We already know they picked up a whole lot of innocent and low level nobodies in Afghanistan and shipped them off to Gitmo. In the early days, the US was paying the Northern Alliance $5,000 per head and the NA was handing over their tribal rivals and anybody else they wanted to get rid of. I'm sure Kato and her barely repressed racist allies on the right don't think it matters if some poor innocent wog gets tortured and locked up forever, but civilized people have come to recognise that show trials, kangaroo courts and lynching are immoral --- and counterproductive. If you want to stress liberal values, the rule of law and democracy as the way forward in these fundamentalist religious cultures, you can't behave this way. It doesn't make you look tough or strong; it makes you look like you don't believe in your own system --- and that makes you weak.

The Loyal Opposition

I wish we had one. Y'know, one of the most frequent comments I see in the left blogosphere is "If the Democrats would only pick up on this and run with it." They don't. I honestly don't know who I'm going to vote for this fall.

Malkin Watch

No, I'm not starting a new feature. But Jane Hamsher came up with a phrase that I adore: "racist mall rats."

Every Sword. . .

has two edges.

After meeting with MPAA officials, Blunt and a handful of other House members said they remain concerned about the subjective native of the ratings process.

Quite aside from the fact that Blunt should not be involved in this at all, nor should any other member of Congress. It is not their place to be defenders of Christianity. I suppose it's beyond hope that Blunt's constituents will point out to him how completely inappropriate it is for him to use his office to further the Christianist agenda.

The irony, of course, is the immense pressure the right wing brought on the movie industry to toughen ratings.

Hamdan Update:

Christy Hardin Smith has a good round-up at firedoglake.

The Ultimate Summation:

As usual, Fafnir says it all.