"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

Sunday, October 29, 2006

More on New Jersey

I'm still wading through the opinion -- too much to write to spend too much time reading right now, and so, of course, none of it's getting done. It does seem a little strained. I take it as an indication that the Rabids have the courts on the run, even when the courts know what they're doing.

GayPatriot is pleased at being channeled by WSJ. I guess there's something to be said for lowered expectations.

They set great store by this annoying OpEd by James Taranto:

These provisions resulted from a backlash after the courts' rulings in Vermont and Massachusetts--a backlash that has probably served the electoral interests of Republicans, who, despite the president's liberal views on civil unions, remain the party less eager to expand gay rights. In the long run, though, the move toward legal same-sex unions may prove inexorable. All those state restrictions on same-sex unions could be struck down by five Supreme Court justices.

We have mixed feelings about all this. We sympathize with both the traditionalists' resistance to redefining marriage and gay couples' desire to enjoy both the tangible benefits of marriage and the affirmation that comes with legal recognition. We guess we're with President Bush in thinking civil unions are a reasonable compromise. But we'd also be happier if this were thrashed over democratically rather than forced upon society by the courts.

First off, the backlash was fed and watered by the Republicans -- let's call a spade a spade. It was a made-to-order feeding frenzy for the Dobson Gang. Some of those loons were quoted at the time as saying that it was just what they needed to fill their coffers. Of course they went for it: money is power. And I am really, really, really tired of this crap about the courts "forcing" constitutional guarantees down the people's collective throat. Because that's all it is -- crap from the ever-fruitful shit machine of the Dobson Gang.

I feel like I keep harping on this, but it seems as though it should be quite clear -- the people have limited sovereignty in this country. That's always been the case. That's why Senators are elected for longer terms than Representatives, that's why federal judges are appointed for life, that's why any law that treats one group differently is subjected to several tiers of scrutiny in order to determine whether it has a rational basis and is not merely a product of popular bias. That's why there is a Bill of Rights sewn into the Constitution -- to save us from the whim of the people. This is actually addressed with some intelligence in the comments to this post by Matt at The Malcontent. See this one, as well, by Chris Crain. It's nice to see someone else who understands the right question.

I'm still waiting for a rational argument against same-sex marriage. I still haven't seen one. I guess that's the problem when you're dealing with an emotional issue that should be decided rationally. Lord knows I don't have much success doing that myself in day-to-day life.

Of course, it means being a real grown-up. How many of us can pull that off 24/7?

More on Dumb

TBogg alerted me -- again -- to the latest from much too long interview with Camille Paglia. The money quote again:

The Democrats have to start fresh and throw out the entire party superstructure. I was bitterly disappointed after voting for Ralph Nader that he didn't devote himself to helping build a strong third party in this country.

If she hasn't figured Ralph Nader out by now. . . . Well. Maybe she, Nader, and Joe Lieberman should form the "It's All About Me" Party. I'm sure that would have some resonance somewhere.

TRex also takes her on over at Firedoglake.

Completely missing from the major media's avalanche of formulaic liberal outrage was any reference to the gay-male practice of cruising, which is constantly going on with indefatigable energy virtually everywhere in the industrialized world. Rock star George Michael's arrest in a Hollywood public toilet in April this year was quickly suppressed by the major media and given significant coverage in the United States only by the tabloids. Despite the recent turn by some gay male writers toward reexamination of gay hedonism, the issue remains unconfronted by gay organizations and their media supporters, who dismiss or deride Christian conservatives' claim that there is a negative "gay lifestyle."

She then goes on to spout a bunch of hateful crap about how if Matthew Shepard hadn't been out cruising for sex, he'd still be alive. But see, in Paglia's "mind", this is the inherent state of gay men, perpetual and uncontrollable erotic arousal.

What I don't understand is why people keep listening to self-appointed "cultural critics" who are demonstrably out of touch, ignorant, and not very smart to begin with.

I begin to understand "bloviate" on a deep, almost visceral level.

Gavin, at Sadly, No!, has a list of money quotes.

I remember reading Paglia's pronouncements years ago and thinking then that she was full of shit. I can't see any reason to change that opinion. My point then was that if you're going to call yourself a "cultural critic," which she was doing at that point, you have to be able to step out of your culture to look at it. She's not. She's like an academic Ann Coulter -- same stance, she just uses longer words.

Of course, there are those who think she's right on target. Which only proves what a wide range of meanings "think" has.

It seems very odd to me that there are so many people out there who do not ask questions. They just suck it all in, even when the source is an obvious idiot. Even when we've seen what six years of not asking questions has done to us.

I'm sure Paglia has a high IQ. I'm equally sure that she's So. Out. There.

Friday, October 27, 2006

New Jersey

I haven't had time to read the opinion yet, but of course the Christianists are up in arms about "activist judges" ramming gay marriage down people's throats, and the people should decide, and on and on and on. (And don't forget that in Illinois, when opponents of same-sex marriage couldn't get a referendum on the ballot, they took the matter to the courts -- looking for an activist judge to throw out Illinois' election laws.)

Glenn Greenwald has some interesting things to say about these "experts."

He also has a link to the opinion (pdf).

Dumb, Smart, Really Dumb


A much-too-long interview with Camille Paglia, self-appointed "cultural critic," at Salon. TBogg has the money quote:

The Democrats have to start fresh and throw out the entire party superstructure. I was bitterly disappointed after voting for Ralph Nader that he didn't devote himself to helping build a strong third party in this country.

The woman's an idiot.


From Pam's House Blend. If you can get past Pam's knee-jerk bad attitude toward Hillary (sounds to me like Spaulding has swallowed the Republican talking points on that topic whole), you can see that Clinton is what I've always said she is: an intelligent and adaptable politician. She's a pragmatist, which used to be what we wanted in elective office in this country.

She's obviously intelligent -- probably a little bit more than intelligent -- and thoughtful, but most important, I don't think it matters what her personal beliefs are, because I don't think she would govern on that basis. What seems to have both the left and the right twisted up about her is that she's not an ideologue. She pays attention to what's going on in the country and she's a realist. After the debacle with health care early in her husband's administration, I think she learned real fast to figue out what she could get away with and work from that basis. I think she also developed a strong sense of how vicious and unprincipled the right is.

I don't think Clinton should run for president in 2008 simply because her mere candidacy would give the Christianists a new lease on life. I also don't think, as socially backward as we've become under Republican tutelage that we're ready for a woman president. (Y'know, that's sad -- that's really sad. The land of the free hasn't yet joined such countries as Iceland, Finland, Israel, India, Sri Lanka, Britain, Germany, Latvia, and the Philippines in having a woman head of government.) We really can't afford another four years of their being in control of the government -- or even thinking they are. There are some serious fixups that need to be done in this country which are only going to be more difficult if we're distracted by their non-issues.

I have to say, though, that after the past six years, couldn't we do with a little realism in Washington?

Jean Schmidt:

From Atrios, this letter from Jean "Murtha Is A Coward" Schmidt. (It's a pdf file.)

The letter is close to priceless. The "rules" that Schmidt is referring to are rules applying to members of the House of Representatives. Victoria Mursin is not a member of the House -- yet.

Extraordinarily stupid.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Rush Limbaugh. Attacking Michael J. Fox for "faking it" in ads for candidates who support federal funding for stem cell research. Slimy.

In fact, the disabled seem to be the new Gay for Republicans. Tammy Duckworth, who left her legs in Iraq, was accused by her opponent of wanting to "cut and run." Barbara Cubin in Wyoming threatened to attack her Libertarian opponent. Of course, Ann Coulter accused Max Cleland of wounding himself, so there's a history here.

Of course, they're still running racist ads in Tennessee. I hear George Allen may want to borrow them, if they can work in the word "macaca." So maybe Black is the new Gay.

And homophobia still works, just not quite as well. Maybe because the cat's out of the bag: Karl Rove thinks' James Dobson's a joke.

So I guess Gay is the new Gay.


Saturday, October 21, 2006


David Kuo again, on "compassionate conservatism":

The president's question first needed to be answered. He wanted to know how much we had spent on compassion programs in his first two years in office. We made some calls and did some calculations and discovered that if we applied his definition of compassion to federal social servoices programs, we were actually spending about $20 million a year less on them than before he had taken office. That number never actually made it to the president. The question was deemed, "still in process of being accounted for."

Pat Tillman's Birthday Is Coming

This was written by Kevin Tillman, Pat Tillman's brother. Read it. Then post it yourself, or e-mail it to someone, or something.

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. . . .

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.


This post at Andrew Sullivan got me thinking, and maybe I've said this before, but it's something that can't be said often enough.

I'm really angry, and I'm angry because I'm disappointed. I believe in America, even though I recognize its frailties and its missteps. America is a dream. It always has been, for just about everyone, and some of us have had the chance to live in it.

I'm angry and disappointed because I see our elected officials and our public spokesmen screwing everything up again and again, every chance they have, not from principles, not even from misguided idealism, but because they want to hold on to power. I figured that out a while ago, so the latest stories about how they're playing their base just confirm it.

Somehow, and maybe I'll figure out just how before I'm finished here, the sentiments expressed in this quote from Barry Goldwater fit:

I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are?

Especially when contrasted to something like this from Joseph Farah, the editor of WingNutDaily:

Do you believe God will honor an administration that behaves this way? Do you believe God will continue to protect a country that flagrantly disregards His laws? Do you believe God will be mocked like this without consequences? Do you believe God will bless a party that acts so duplicitously?

Personally, I think the gods are waiting for us to figure it out for ourselves. They're not real big on interfering, at least in my experience. They don't want to get involved, and why should they? It's our problem.

OK -- The Christianists make me angry because I think, in case you haven't noticed, that they are fundamentally and overtly anti-American. They deny our basic principles as a nation, and belittle every attempt to make us a nation. They're small, mean-spirited people, and I don't have a lot of patience with that.

I believe in the system. I don't believe it's a perfect system -- there's too much evidence otherwise, especially right now -- but I believe that in general, it does work for the common good, as long as we can keep it from being subverted by people like the current Republican party.

But we used to understand that we have to compromise. That's the only way to make it work. We can't all just run around doing whatever we want because we have to live together and we don't all agree on what's appropriate or permissible. So we talk about it and arrive at something that's workable, if not ideal from any particular point of view. (Unless, like me, you think that "workable" is pretty close to "ideal." I suppose that leaves me open to charges of lowered expectations, but I'm pretty easy to get along with.)

Maybe it's because I see things from a perspective slightly different that most of my fellows. I'm always aware in the irony implicit in things like this -- two quotes from Andrew Sullivan's posts:

"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," - Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Donald Rumsfeld.


"One day I will be asked whether I have been in touch with someone who told me we would win, and I will respond: 'Yes, I have been in touch with God'," - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It's a travesty on both parts. "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

I think one thing that makes me angry (here comes the connection) is the use of "morality" as a marketing tool. There is a place for morality in the public life of this country, but not the so-called "morality" of the Christianists of no conscience. We have a public morality; its basic rules are set out in our Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution, and that's good enough for me. We don't need some church telling us to behave ourselves -- if they can't teach their members to treat others with respect and generosity, what the hell are they in business for? this, from Digby, is part of what I mean:

As I look at all these issues that have come to the forefront in the last few years, I'm struck by how dumb it is to let the Republicans claim the mantle of values and morality. People who believe that torture is ok or that it's better to let blastocysts be thrown away rather than use them to save living breathing human beings are immoral. If they want to play politics on that field, I say bring it on.

This ties in with more self-serving crap from the Catholic hierarchy:

Setting its tone early in the text by reminding the flock that all "are created in the image and likeness of God and thus possess an innate human dignity that must be acknowledged and respected," the document asserts that "Those who would minister in the name of the Church must in no way contribute to... injustice" against homosexuals -- with the subsequent caveat that "it is not unjust... to limit the bond of marriage to the union of a woman and a man" nor to "oppose granting to homosexual couples benefits that in justice should belong to marriage alone," i.e. civil unions.

They haven't abandoned the canard that homosexual behavior is "intrinsically disordered," but they now are doing a little dance on the theme that the "inclination" is not intrinsically diordered. No one but a Catholic theologian could come up with doubletalk like that. I'm with Goldwater on this one: who the hell do they think they are? An institution that can wink at the abuse of children tells me that I am "intrinsically disordered" because I act on what to me are natural impulses toward expressing love toward another adult? What a load of crap.

Lest there be any doubt, look at the history: the Church has never been averse to holding political power, which makes its sincerity as an institution devoted to the teachings of Jesus suspect -- "Render unto Caesar. . . ."

What I can't believe is that Republican strategists are so open about their rationale, while religious "leaders" are flogging Morality as a means to power. Shouldn't someone be running for office based on something besides holding onto power? Anyone?

I have a message for the Bushes and the Falwells and the Bendicts:

You killed my dreams. That, I can't forgive.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Remember When We Still Had Rights?

They aren't wasting any time. From WaPo:

In a notice dated Wednesday, the Justice Department listed 196 pending habeas cases, some of which cover groups of detainees. The new Military Commissions Act (MCA), it said, provides that "no court, justice, or judge" can consider those petitions or other actions related to treatment or imprisonment filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future.

Glenn Greenwald has one of his normally thoughtful posts on this issue, but I think he's missing something.

Because the threat posed by The Terrorists is so grave and mortal, maximizing protections against it is the paramount, overriding goal. As a result, no other value really competes with that objective in importance, nor can any other objective or value limit our efforts to protect ourselves against The Terrorists. That's what the President is arguing when he said: "Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat." All that matters is whether we did everything possible to protect ourselves.

We are, in direct succession to the British, a nation of shopkeepers. The middle class is the paradigm. (I actually heard a woman whose apartment in Chicago is worth a million dollars describe herself as "upper middle class." Perhaps she's right -- we don't acknowledge an "upper class" in this country, even though it exists, and even though we fawn over foreign aristocrats.)

Liberty is not a high priority for the middle class. It is a bourgeois virtue only if it is circumscribed: freedom is the freedom to make a good living. (And now Bush has taken that away from most of us.) Ideas are not of particular value, particularly abstractions. "Security" is the overriding requirement, and I have to hand it to the Republican strategists, they nailed that one right on the head.

Bourgeois are necessarily materialists. They are invested in their property, their income, the visible results of their ability to succeed in a mercantile environment. That makes them horribly vulnerable -- all of that can be taken away so easily.

And so morality becomes fluid. I'm not speaking of the "morality" of the Pope and James Dobson, largely concerned with other people's crotches. (Yes, there is lip service toward poverty and injustice, at least from the Pope, but the main thrust and the strongest statements concern other people's sex lives. When the Pope calls the war in Iraq "intrinsically disordered," then I might start to listen to him.) The morality embodied in our constitution, which is the real repository of our values, is something to be approached with distrust. Read Keith Olbrman's comments on what we've just given away.

This is why there is so little public outcry, I think, against the Patriot Act, and the Torture Act, laws which violate everything that makes us America. Ideals have little value in the marketplace, and the middle class is all about the marketplace, and enjoying the fruits thereof.

It leads, apparently inevitably, to a head-in-the-sand attitude, and gives traction to ludicrous statements such as "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about." What about the fact that what goes on in my living room, or bedroom, or any other room in my abode is none of your damned business? We fought a war to establish that fact.

Towleroad came up with this quote:

Jonathan Turley, Professor of Constitutional Laws at George Washington University, lays it all out: "The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to Dancing With the Stars."

I think the best summation of this whole nightmare was stated quite succinctly in the New York Times letters column:

"It can't happen here."

It did.

This Is The Best They Can Offer?

Via Towleroad, this choice quote from St. John McCain:

"I think gay marriage should be allowed if there's a ceremony kind of thing if you want to call it that. I don't have any problem with that..."

Before your jaw drops too far, McCain went on to say "I think private ceremonies are fine. I do not think gay marriage should be legal."

What a condescending asshole.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I'm so tired of politics. I've been writing madly again -- not only here, but another deadline for GMR, catching up at Rambles, and so yesterday I took a break -- reading. How ironic is that?

Sometimes -- actually, usually, when I'm sort of burned out on reviewing, I like to curl up with an old friend (book, that is) and just read a story I love without having to worry about whether it's good or what I'm going to say about it. I run out of things to say after a while, believe it or not.

I managed to complete Glen Cook's Black Company series. I now have them all to date. (Timing is everything -- I happened to walk into one of my favorite used bookstores just after they had shelved a complete set.) Cook's one of those writers I can read any time, on any pretext. I don't think I've read a book of his (and I've read most of them) that I haven't enjoyed thoroughly. My proof copy of The Tyranny of the Night is pretty worn at this point. Great book.

Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint is another. I just reread that one, again. (And another that's getting kind of tattered.) I used to think that Alec was my favorite character in literature, but Richard is starting to have a distinct appeal. They're both infused with a kind of vulnerability that I find irresistible.

Don't get me wrong -- I do enjoy reading new books and discovering new authors. I've come across some really great things this past year, people like Jonathan Lethem (not new this year, but his latest chapbook was a prize), Elizabeth Bear, Kim Stanley Robinson (new for me), and new series by old favorites, like Tanya Huff's new one.

Yes, I read a lot of fantasy. I also read a lot of folklore and mythology. You have to remember that "mainstream" literature, the realistic novel dealing with real people in real-life situations, is a fairly recent offshoot of that big general category known as literature, and most of it has been, to one degree or another, the literature of the fantastic. (If you don't believe me, go back and read something like the Odyssey or even something as late as Chretien de Troyes. Or The Tempest.)

I actually think it's kind of funny that a book like Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (or any of his earlier works, for that matter) takes the literary establishment by storm when it's sort of old hat to any reader of science fiction. Formally adventurous, yes, but not conceptually.

Now I'm going to go back and catch up some more on Charles de Lint, also another old favorite that I've lost track of. Discovering the Newford stories, which are choice and very rewarding. (Check them out -- any of them -- Dreams Underfoot, The Ivory and the Horn, Memory and Dream, Widdershins, any of them.) It's a way of easing myself back into the traces -- I have to write about him (actually, the piece is almost done, but it needs a rewrite -- now that I think about it, I started off in the wrong place; easy to fix, though, if I can remember the brilliant revisions I had in mind as I was falling asleep last night).

Since it's a cold gloomy day in Chicago, that sounds like a good idea to me. I think I'll make some soup, too.

Map Talk

I'm spreading. Europe and the US are pretty well covered, but there are some new places showing up: looks like Tunisia, Egypt is there, Israel (finally), quite a few in Turkey, looks like someone stopped by from Beijing, Argentina is showing up, and -- Easter Island?

Welcome, all.

A Brief History of Partisanship

Digby has an excellent and very long post on the rise of partisanship in government. He quite correctly attributes it to Newt Gingrich and follows the course of how the pitiful excuse we have for a government has developed in just twelve years. Quoting Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann:

Now it is tribal warfare. The consequences are deadly serious. Party and ideology routinely trump institutional interests and responsibilities. Regular order -- the set of rules, norms and traditions designed to ensure a fair and transparent process -- was the first casualty. The results: No serious deliberation. No meaningful oversight of the executive. A culture of corruption. And grievously flawed policy formulation and implementation.

Digby himself:

This was was way beyond what we had long accepted as the polite language of politics that allowed people to battle over issues but maintain decent human relationships when the workday was over. The kind of "bipartisanship" that the old lions are constantly going on about was killed in the 80's and 90's by a political machine that consciously set out to demonize first liberals and then Democrats. David Broder and his friends in Washington can't wrap their minds around the fact that there was a deliberate right wing strategy to kill bipartisanship because they reluctantly went along with it, were duped by it or embraced it themselves.

He also devotes some space to characters like Barack Obama, whom I have come to consider a nonentity. I can't believe the man is being touted for president (granted, mostly by the right, but the Democrats are too befuddled to understand the strategy there).

Read Digby's post. All of it.

And the next time a Republican starts whining about "bipartisanship," throw it in his face.

Faith-Based and Blind

From Digby, David Kuo tells this story:

All this information trickled in to our office when we requested updates on the Compassion Capital Fund. It took a while, but we finally got the list of recommended grantees. It was obvious that the ratings were a farce.

[A few years later,] my wife Kim and I were together with a group of friends and acquaintances. Someone mentioned that I used to work at the White House in the faith-based office. A woman piped up and said, "Really? Wow, I was on the peer-review panel for the first Compassion Capital Fund." I asked her about how she liked it and she said it was fun. She talked about how the government employees gave them grant review instructions – look at everything objectively against a discreet list of requirements and score accordingly. "But," she said with a giggle, "when I saw one of those non-Christian groups in the set I was reviewing, I just stopped looking at them and gave them a zero."

At first I laughed. A funny joke. Not so much. She was proud and giggling and didn't get that there was a problem with that. I asked if she knew of others who'd done the same. "Oh sure, a lot of us did." She must have seen my surprise, "Was there a problem with that?"

I told her there was actually a huge problem with that. The programs were to be faith-neutral. Our goal was equal treatment for faith-based groups, not special treatment for them. This was a smart and accomplished Christian woman. She got it immediately. But what she did comported with her understanding of what the faith-initiative was supposed to do – help Christian groups – and with her faith. She wanted people to know Jesus.

Kuo's putting a very charitable face on it. The reality is, these right-wing Christianists just don't get it. It doesn't penetrate that under the Constitution of the United States, which these great patriots obviously think was written in Martian or something, "non-Christian" and "Christian" are equal before the law. Not part of their worldview. Not possible in their reality. And it never occurs to them that a stunt like this woman pulled is fundamentally dishonest and immoral -- non-Christian groups can't be religious, because only their particular sect of Christianity is a real religion.

And Digby's not giving this cheating bitch the benefit of the doubt:

And I hate to be nasty about this, but this woman he describes is not actually an innocent. She giggled about how clever she was for automatically giving the non-[]Christian groups a zero because she was among people whom she obviously assumed would approve of such behavior. When she saw that she was dealing with someone of integrity she backed off and pretended not to have realized that she was not being a good Christian or a responsible adult. It was not a simple misunderstanding.

Digby calls it: not a responsible adult, and not a good Christian. Look, I've actually been in discussions with nutcases who don't consider the Pope a Christian. These guys have a hammerlock on Truth. Reality doesn't have any bearing.

They are fundamentally amoral. And fundmentally anti-American.

The Duplicitous Harry Reid

From Media Matters:

By comparison, CNN has aired only 65 words about a land deal in which House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) made nearly $2 million, a story which was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times on June 15. By contrast, the Reid land deal first broke a week ago, when the Associated Press reported on October 11 that Reid had made $700,000 "on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years."

Hastert's property appreciated in value after he earmarked taxpayer funding for a highway near the property

The story about Reid was John Solomon's hatchet job. If you've been looking, you know that Solomon is known as an open market for oppo researchers, and not too strong on fact-checking. He also seems to have a woody for Reid.

The interesting part is that the MSM have given Hastert a free ride. They're also handling him with kid gloves over Foleygate.

"Liberal" bias? How about this: the press is just as corrupt as their Republican handlers.

Right-Wing Fairy Tales

The inevitable Glenn Reynolds:

It's true, of course, that the Democrats are worse, and if you had any doubt about that, the creepy sexual McCarthyism that we've seen this week would be proof enough.

I'm not sure what "sexual McCarthyism" is, or which Democrats have been espousing it. It's the Republican theocrats who are calling for witch hunts, after all -- but then, that's normal, I guess. (If Republicans do it, it's OK.)

Of course, it's kind of a stretch to believe that, "of course," Democrats are worse than hypocritical, dishonest, lying, money-grubbing congressmen, senators, and administration officials who wouldn't know a coherent policy from a fire hydrant, have legalized torture, have damn near made George W. Bush a divine-right king, who nearly cum in their pants at seeing Our Leader, who think it's OK for congressmen to be harassing pages as long as no one outisde the club knows about it, who have handed the treasury to their corporate supporters, have done everything they can do to trash the economy, the environment, and the lives of private citizens.

Given the strength of the economy and the general success of the war on terror, congressional Republicans should be in pretty good shape.

Have you stopped laughing yet? On the economy, since the indicators seem to be built largely on the performance of the stock market, I take them with a grain of salt. I guess the economy is fine if you're an investor, but if you actually have to work for a living, it's a different story. Oh, and the housing market is starting to tank.

The "general success" of the war on terror? There must be an infinite supply of Kool Aid somewhere.

Because if the future of Western civilization is at stake, you shouldn't blow your credibility on pork and pocket-stuffing.

Take yourself pretty seriously, much?

This is just another reason that Reynolds is in the "Alternate Realities" listing.

What an ass.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Gerry Studds

Gerry Studds died yestereday.

Once outed, however, Mr. Studds refused to buckle to conservative pressure to resign.

“All members of Congress are in need of humbling experiences from time to time,” Mr. Studds said at the time. But he never apologized. He defended the relationship as consensual and condemned the investigation, saying it had invaded his privacy.

He went on to win re-election in 1984, surprising both supporters and opponents.

Gerry Studds, of course, is the first one that Republicans blame for Mark Foley.

The thing about Gerry Studds -- well, there are several things. He wasn't harassing pages with dirty IMs or e-mails. He had an affair with a 17-year-old page. From reports that the page appeared with him at press conferences when the scandal broke, I have to conclude that the relationship was indeed consensual (as well as being legal) and that the two remained on good terms. No reports of anyone being "creeped out."

Second, he was re-elected. Twice. He probably would have been re-elected again, but he chose to retire when the Neanderthal right took over Congress. Now, let's go back to those who are the first to scream "the will of the people" when a court hands down a decision they don't like. Obviously, Studds' constitutents felt that he was correct -- the affair was his business and not theirs -- and that he'd been an effective representative.

Third, Studds was censured by a Democratic-controlled Congress. No one tried to sweep it under the rug, although as scandals go, by today's standards that one was pretty tame. (Please note also that when William Jefferson was discovered to have $90,000 in cash in his freezer, the Democrats stripped him of his committee assignments. Bob Ney, on the other hand, who has pleaded guilty to felony in court, has yet to be disciplined at all by the Republican leadership.)

There's no real comparison between Studds and Mark Foley, except in the mind of some loon like Donald Wildmon, and if he believes half the crap he spouts I'd be more than amazed.

Of course, this all happened back in the days when Democrats and gay men still had balls.

Support the Troops

From the America's Heroes Calendar:

I like this idea. Proceeds go to help disabled and wounded vets and their families. C'mon everyone -- Lord knows the do-nohting Congress ain't helping.

And does anyone think that the biggest audience for this calendar is straight women? Please.

(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan.)


Steve Gilliard on the latest page "scandal":

What people forget is thart Kolbe could be a nice guy, be great with everyone, but then express interest in a teenager, and everyone see it as natural. Foley was a sloppy drunk. Kolbe could have been much more clever in his approaches to teen boys. Even on the trip, some people saw things, some didn't. Because some people are very clever in what they do

But my point is this: when adults seek to spend time with kids they don't know well, and having pages over to your home is as much a red flag as anything. Which is why he invited two kids along as well.

Oh, it's a witchhunt, oh, you don't understand how gay men mentor teens.


Mentoring is fine. They do it all the time at the Hetrick-Martin institute, New York school for openly gay teens. However, of all the reports of teachers who date kids, none from that school. Why? Because maybe they screen their teachers carefully?

Kolbe's interest in pages, opening his home to them, taking them on trips, which is far more than people would expect from their bosses.

Ignore the fact that it's largely incoherent. Let's look at some subtext here.

This is from the news story Gilliard's working from (Note: Gilliard's link no longer works, and I couldn't turn up the story googling; here's a brief story from MSNBC that has a little additional information.):

NBC also interviewed the two former pages, who are now in their late 20s. One of them said that Kolbe was a gentleman and never acted in an improper fashion. He recalled that the pair spent time in Kolbe's house at one point — and briefly were alone with him on the trip — and that Kolbe always acted professionally and decently.

The other would not comment on Kolbe's behavior during the trip or characterize it in any way.

"I don't want to get into the details," he said. "I just don't want to get into this... because I might possibly be considered for a job in the administration."

However, the former page — who is the one to whom Kolbe allegedly paid special attention — said he had a "blast" on the trip and did not report anything improper to this parents or any House officials after the trip. He said he has a favorable impression of the page program to this day and likes Kolbe.

Here's Gilliard's comment that comes right after the quote":

What I said Monday and maintain, is that it is improper to take teenage pages on a trip with adult staff. Doing so leads to charges of an alternative agenda.

Just for comparison, this is the headline from a post on the story at Hot Air, another bastion of conservative rationality: "Rep. Jim Kolbe had “inappropriate” camping trip with pages". (It's interesting that even on that site, several of the commenters feel the same way I do about this: What story?)

OK -- one participant out of the group -- and it was a group, including Kolbe, his sister, for crying out loud, several staffers, Park Service personnel, and a couple of pages -- said some of the attention Kolbe paid to one of the pages made him "uncomfortable." The page to whom Kolbe paid this "attention" seems to have felt that nothing improper occurred, if I'm reading the story properly -- it's hard to tell just who is being quoted where, in places, although I think it's hard to miscontrue "always acted professionally and decently."

So what's Gilliard's beef? Aside from a deepseated prejudice, that is. (And note that Gilliard starts off his post with a picture of the Grand Canyon captioned "The Grand Canyon is for dating." That says a lot more than Gilliard intended, I think.)

Let's link up a couple more pieces here. First, this piece by Tristero from Hullaballoo linking pedophilia and gay sex (Tristero even throws in statutory rape, which didn't happen). It's a subtle thing, sort of part of a catalogue of horrors, but the placement jumped out at me:

This is AN EXCLUSIVELY REPUBLICAN SCANDAL involving pedophilia, gay sex, cybersex, lying, spinning sexual harassment and statutory rape to make it seem unimportant. . . . (Emphasis added.)

Apparently Tristero thinks this is a natural progression. (Leaving aside for the time being the question of why gay sex should be any more scandalous than straight sex. This is, after all, in the context of the "values voters," to whom anything pretty much is scandalous. Frightening to realize how much that kind of narrow point of view has come to dominate this country.)

Then there's the St. Andrew's story (and be sure to read Scootmaroo's comments on that one), and I have to wonder: what would the reaction have been if the teacher had not been gay? For some reason, I doubt that a straight teacher would have been given a choice between acting and teaching. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but then, paranoia and anger are two basic elements of gay men's psychological makeup.

And these reactions are coming from the "liberals."

Overall, it seems that there is still a very strong undercurrent in American thought, be it right, left, center, or out in space, that determines that any association between gay men and teenagers is questionable. Steve Gilliard seems to think that one must use exceptionally strict standards when screening teachers for gay youth or hanky-panky is inevitable. Tristero probably never even thought about the sequence "pedophilia, gay." The St. Andrew's snarl is just that, but I'm not the only commentator who sees a thread of anti-gay bias.

I've had a few things to say about overly sensitive PC types, none of them good, but you have to be tuned to these sorts of things or you make no progress at all. You have to challenge them. I won't call them "offensive," however, since that's yet another word that no longer has much meaning. "Dangerous," I think, fits better in this case. "Insidious," for sure.

As an antidote to the above, read this article by John Ireland, who served as a page before Mark Foley was in Congress.

Because it was too far to travel back to my home in California, I accepted the invitation of a Capitol Hill staffer to join her family for Thanksgiving at her home in Virginia. She was one of the many adults who served as surrogate parents and confidantes as I struggled with homesickness and the typical ups and downs of my junior year of high school. I imagine this sort of friendship might become less possible, due to the culture of distrust that is emerging in the wake of the page scandal.

Many adults on the Hill look out for the best interest of the pages, exactly because of their obvious vulnerability. I did not choose to “come out” to anyone while I was a page—it was years later before I was ready for that. I did, however, have an opportunity to see a variety of people, some more flawed than others, make their own choices in the real world, and live with the consequences.

I am confident that if early concerns about Foley had been brought to the bipartisan Page Board, they would have been dealt with promptly and effectively. Moving forward, the greatest challenge will be restoring faith in the Congress—that the politicians charged with the well-being of teenagers on Capitol Hill will treat them as if they were their own children.

Sorry (not really), but it seems as though whatever the Republicans touch turns to toxic waste.

Friday, October 13, 2006

At Random, 10/13/06


Cliff Kincaid at Accuracy in Media. John Aravosis calls this column "hate filled." I think it's just lunacy (although I will allow that it might have been penned by a Goebbels or McCarthy, but there's no way that undercuts my description).

It's early in the probe, but we may be looking at emerging evidence of a homosexual recruitment ring that operated on Capitol Hill. It's time to get beyond partisan politics and follow the evidence wherever it leads. Our media should not be intimidated by charges of "gay bashing." They must lead the way in getting to the bottom of this terrible abuse of power.

And now it's coming out that these people are laughingstocks in their own party. How odd. Of course, the only ones unhinged enough to think they should be taken seriously are them. Speaking of the Christian Right and the Republican Party, see this discussion by Digby (scroll down to "Cogs in the Machine").

Lies, Damned Lies

Media Matters pinpoints the lies being spread by the Republicans and their conservative media (including NYT and WaPo) about the Foley scandal.

A couple of excellent pieces by Eric Boehlert at Media Matters, here and here about the press coverage of the Foley brouhaha, and how they have fumbled it over and over again.

Kudos to Condi

I ran across this story yesterday. It's now popping up in the blogosphere:

At a State Department ceremony this week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warmly acknowledged the family members of Mark Dybul, whom she was swearing in as the nation's new global AIDS coordinator.

As first lady Laura Bush looked on, Rice singled out his partner, Jason Claire, and Claire's mother. Rice referred to her as Dybul's "mother-in-law."

John Aravosis wonders why Rice is making this gesture right now. Let's drop back a bit and take a bigger look: State has, in this administration, taken second place to Defense. Powell resigned because of it. Something tells me Rice isn't as enchanted by the preznit as most sources make her out to be, and this looks like a good way to stick it to him without making huge waves.

'Nuff said?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bias Is Not Right-Handed

This story, which came to me via e-mail, for some reason disturbed me a lot. I'm not sure why -- it's of a piece with so many stories recently about rabidly right-wing parents assaulting schools who try to deal with reality. (See this story, from the Brisbane Courier-Mail, and this one, from 365gay.com).

Maybe because in the St. Andrew's case, the discrimination is coming from the left, from a school that prides itself on openness and diversity, run by a denomination that is, at least, grappling honestly with the issue of gays.

One thing that struck me is that at no point, apprently, did the school administration address the issues openly with the students and parents. This was all behind closed doors stuff. What is the message there? "It's OK to be different if you keep it hidden"? Or is it simply "Don't worry, we know what's best"?

From the comments published, it seems that to the overwhelming majority of students and parents, the real issue was the rumors and the administration's reaction, not the teacher's acting roles. The students and most of the parents seem to feel this man is an exceptional teacher and the administration should have fought to keep him.

The headmaster's statement to parents, which is on the school's website, comes well after the fact and strikes me as essentially self-serving. He stresses that Mr. Giombetti "chose" to leave, while dismissing the thinly veiled threats from Giombetti's supervisor reported by Giombetti. (Considering what the context must have been, it's clear Giombetti didn't feel he had much of a choice.) This, I think, in light of the outcry from students and parents, is pretty much a CYA vehicle. "Working with" in this instance, based on the news reports and Giombetti's statements, seems to mean "do it our way or else." What's to work? As far as I'm concerned, a schoolteacher is entitled to a life, and not all of it needs to be under the school administration's supervision. I realize it's sort of foreign to the monotheistic world view, but the best solution is just to treat people like thinking, independent beings and level with them. (Apparently, one reason the students loved the teacher is that he did just that.)

And this is coming from the Left, to all intents and purposes. Maybe I'm getting too cynical, but I think I have reason: I remember too many instances from my own young manhood in which "liberal" friends and acquaintances couldn't quite keep the condescending tone hidden when my relationships came up. The worst part is, I think these people had convinced themselves that they were truly accepting of my life. I don't really think that attitude has changed much -- we're still not real people to most of the country, no matter how many of us are out.

I know -- it takes time, and continued contact, and a lot of challenging people on their basic assumptions and their habit of accepting without question whatever they hear from someone with an agenda.

It still pisses me off.

Our Leader: Sieg Heil!

A lot of people are probably going to think that's an inflammatory header. Unfortunately, if Josef Stalin or Benito Mussolini had an equally concise and pungent tagline, I don't know it.

I was going to title this post "The Torture President," but that doesn't quite encompass the enormity of what this bastard has done to this country.

Glenn Greenwald on the president's authority to torture, among other things. This is exactly what many of us have objected to in the Patriot Act and now the brand-new Torture Act (to call it by its proper name). It's a long post, but read it.

Greenwald highlights this comment. The commenter, a municipal police offer, hits it right on the nose:

Regardless of Mr. Padilla's genuine guilt or innocence of any act, the bare facts of his confinement make an absolute mockery of the death of every soldier, sailor, airman or police officer who has ever been killed in the performance of their duties. To retort that this raw power is necessary to "protect Americans" is to assume that there is nothing in being a citizen of this nation for any of us beyond the mere fact of being alive.

Yet that's the theme that Bush is pushing: simply being alive is "American" enough. We can all sit back while he flushes our values down the toilet -- and I mean our real values, not the other-people's-crotches values so dear to his base.

Gods, these people disgust me no end.

(Fine -- I'm angry. If you're not, you should be. The real horror is that I don't trust the Democrats, even if they don't fumble the election, to spend any effort on fixing it.)

The Base

Tony Perkins loses it:

Perkins, via Andrew Sullivan:

This raises yet another plausible question for values voters: has the social agenda of the GOP been stalled by homosexual members and or staffers?

No, Tony, it's people who really do hold American values turning up their noses at your anti-American, completely-out-of-touch-with-reality agenda.

In that vein, see this wonderful OpEd by Eugene Robinson from WaPo.

The culture war is supposed to be about morality, but really it's a crusade to compel Americans to follow certain norms of private behavior that some social and religious conservatives believe are mandated by sociology, nature or God. Republican officeholders have paid lip service to this crusade, all the while knowing that the human family is diverse and fallible. They know that the gravest threat to marriage is the heterosexual divorce rate. They know that Republicans drink, swear, carouse and have affairs, just like Democrats. They know that homosexuals aren't devils.

Most Americans know all of this, too, by the way. Main Street hasn't been Hicksville for a long time.

Just in case anyone was wondering, this exchange between Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson should clarify things. (It's all over the Internet this morning. This version's from Andrew Sullivan -- who got linked from AmericaBlog, if you can imagine such a thing.)

CARLSON: It goes deeper than that though. The deep truth is that the elites in the Republican Party have pure contempt for the evangelicals who put their party in power. Everybody in ...

MATTHEWS: How do you know that? How do you know that?

CARLSON: Because I know them. Because I grew up with them. Because I live with them. they live on my street. Because I live in Washington, and I know that everybody in our world has contempt for the evangelicals. And the evangelicals know that, and they're beginning to learn that their own leaders sort of look askance at them and don't share their values.

MATTHEWS: So this gay marriage issue and other issues related to the gay lifestyle are simply tools to get elected?

CARLSON: That's exactly right. It's pandering to the base in the most cynical way, and the base is beginning to figure it out.

I've sort of hesitated to spell it out, but it's been my feeling that those who follow people like Dobson, Reed, Bauer, Sheldon, Wildmon and the rest of those sewer crocodiles aren't really the brightest porch lights on the block.

I mean, it only took them twelve years to get it?

St. John the Vote Whore

Does he honestly think "blame Clinton" is still going to work?

Republican Sen. John McCain on Tuesday accused former President Clinton, the husband of his potential 2008 White House rival, of failing to act in the 1990s to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

One hardly knows where to start.

Let me just mention that North Korea stopped developing nuclear capability while Clinton was president, and within six years of Bush taking over has tested an atomic bomb. Obviously, it's Clinton's fault.

See this little refresher course from Josh Marshall (hat tip, Tom Tomorrow):

President Clinton eventually concluded a complicated and multipart agreement in which the North Koreans would suspend their production of plutonium in exchange for fuel oil, help building light water nuclear reactors (the kind that don't help making bombs) and a vague promise of diplomatic normalization.

President Bush came to office believing that Clinton's policy amounted to appeasement. Force and strength were the way to deal with North Korea, not a mix of force, diplomacy and aide. And with that premise, President Bush went about scuttling the 1994 agreement, using evidence that the North Koreans were pursuing uranium enrichment (another path to the bomb) as the final straw.

Remember the guiding policy of the early Bush years: Clinton did it=Bad, Bush=Not whatever Clinton did.

All diplomatic niceties aside, President Bush's idea was that the North Koreans would respond better to threats than Clinton's mix of carrots and sticks.

Then in the winter of 2002-3, as the US was preparing to invade Iraq, the North called Bush's bluff. And the president folded. Abjectly, utterly, even hilariously if the consequences weren't so grave and vast.

This comment by Marshall sort of sums up the Bush presidency:

So the President talked a good game, the North Koreans called his bluff and he folded. And since then, for all intents and purposes, and all the atmospherics to the contrary, he and his administration have done essentially nothing.

Since McCain has turned into one of Bush's biggest cheerleaders (second only to Joe Lieberman), can we expect any better from him?

Monday, October 09, 2006


Of all varieties.

From Taylor Marsh at Huffington Post:

If it's election season it must be time for swiftboating. And that's exactly what happened on Friday, when Mike Fitzpatrick decided to hold a press conference and attack the military service of Patrick Murphy.

Flanked by a few veterans, the swiftboating began. As usual, the guy behind the swiftboating, Mike Fitzpatrick [R-Pa], has never worn the uniform.

By the way -- if you go to Fitzpatrick's campaign website, please note the subhead about his "independent voting record."

Another page comes out:

In the messages, Maf54 described how years earlier, he had looked to see whether the former page had an erection in his tight white pants while the then-teenager was working near the congressman. Maf54 also speculated about the sexual attributes of other males in the same page class, including the observation that one young man was "well hung."

(Hat tip: AmericaBlog)

More Lies

Now they're swiftboating CREW and everyone else they can think of. From Media Matters:

[Chris] WALLACE: Let me ask you about that, Congressman Kingston. What does [House Democratic Leader] Nancy Pelosi and [Rep.] Rahm Emmanuel [D-IL] -- they, of course, are two Democratic leaders -- what do they have to go under oath about?

{Rep. Jack] KINGSTON {R-Ga}: Well, Chris, what I don't understand is, where have these emails been for three years? Are we saying that a 15-year-old child would have sat on e-mails that were X -- triple X-rated for three years and suddenly spring them out right on the eve of an election? That's just a little bit too suspicious, even for Washington, D.C. We do know that George Soros, a huge Democrat [sic] backer, has a group called CREW, it's a 527 partisan group, they apparently had the emails as late as this April and did not do anything about it.

Facts: CREW is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization; they received the emails on July 21 and the same day sent them to the FBI, which has bungled the matter, or at least can't get its story straight. And isn't it strange that Republicans would consider a group devoted to ethical behavior in government, "liberal"?

Kingston again, as quoted by Digby (scroll down):

"Just as it must be determined whether any Republican Members or political operatives were aware of and attempted to conceal Mr. Foley's activities, it must also be determined whether any Democrat Members or political operatives were aware of, and attempted to conceal these same activities," Kingston wrote in the letter.

Why on earth would Democrats keeps something like this, involving a Republican Congressman, under wraps for any length of time at all?

From Christianist liar James Dobson, as reported at Pam's House Blend:

"(It was released by liberals on) the last day of the session of Congress, when it couldn't be responded to do — the last day," he said. "It is the day you would not want something like this to break. And they've known it for years. They've held it for years, and then they threw it out there on the last day of the session demanding that the speaker of the house resign."

Fact: ABC's source for the emails was a Republican staffer in Washington, which has been publicly stated. But it doesn't really matter:

Dobson again:

As it turns out, Mr. Foley has had illicit sex with no one that we know of, and the whole thing turned out to be what some people are now saying was a -- sort of a joke by the boy and some of the other pages.

The sex part is true, as far as we know. The "prank" mantra is already a howler.


With all the reporting on gay GOP staffers and office-holders in Washington and the possible (read "inevitable") witchunt (led by liberals, of course), no one's paying attention to where the witchhunts will actually happen: the Red states, especially towns and smaller cities, and even the redder portions of Blue states. We're already having problems in Illinois.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Taking Responsibility, and Other Thoughts

This is how the Republicans do it:

So far the Foley scandal has been:

Nancy Pelosi's fault

George Soros' fault

A "Democratic operative's" fault

CREW's fault

The gay agenda's fault

Gerry Studds' fault

Barney Frank's fault

The media's fault

Fordham's fault

The pages' fault

According to Reynolds, it's Hastert's fault
Accordingt o Hastert, it's Reynolds' fault

Oh, right -- almost forgot: it's Bill Clinton's fault.

I just went through the comments at Ann Althouse's Foley post -- or, actually, her "Should Hastert Resign?" post. Interesting, the assumptions there: Democrats have had the information for months but waited until five weeks before the election to release it (one week would have made more sense); "Unlike Liberals and Democrats, we will not flush our values down a toilet so that we can maintain a death-grip on the reins of power. We are decent, we have values, and we will clean our own house" (that one's hysterical -- total absence of any discernible contact with reality); Hastert should resign, not because of any possible cover-up, but because he hasn't accomplished very much as Speaker; there's a lot of taking "theoretical" for "real," but of course, that all falls back into the "Democrats are equally culpable because they must have known" mantra; there's even one commenter who obviously doesn't get the point at all: "I continue to wait for Democrats to explain what exactly it is that they think is so scandalous about two males over the age of consent engaging in apparently-consensual sexually licentious behaviour. Conservatives have standing to criticize Foley's conduct; liberals thus far do not.".

I'm not making this up.

A lot of those comments are just echoing the Republican talking points (which only serves to support my contention that Libertarians = "Conservatives" -- cue the air quotes), nicely summarized by Glenn Greenwald.

Internalized Something:

This, from the Wall Street Journal, and my response as submitted to WSJ:

In regard to Daniel Henninger's statement: "Where does post-modern American ethics place Mark Foley's homosexuality on a scale of 1 to 10 - a 1 being just another gay guy and a 10 being a compulsive, predatory sex offender?":

I have to take exception to the underlying assumption that equates Mark Foley's sexual orientation with his predatory behavior. One might as well ask "Where does postmodern American ethics place Clarence Thomas' heterosexuality on a scale of 1 to 10 - a 1 being just another straight guy and a 10 being a compulsive, predatory sex offender?"

Chew on that one for a bit, see how it tastes.

Even a minor amount of research would quickly dispel the idea that gay men are more prone to predatory behavior than straight men -- in fact, it would demonstrate the opposite. (Unless, of course, you are relying on the "research" of such as Paul Cameron of the American Family Institute, which has no credibility outside of Agape Press.) While I realize that this is the horse being flogged by groups such as Focus on the Family and the American Family Association, groups never noted for factual accuracy, it's a dead horse, nevertheless.

If you're really looking for an explanation for why the Foley scandal is dominating the news, you might consider the ramifications of a sex scandal involving a gay Republican Congressman in a party that draws its electoral strength from the most rigidly anti-gay segment of the American population. If you want to blame a cultural phenomenon, blame the corporate culture of hypocrisy, government version.

I also find it instructive that Henninger's comments appeared in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. How odd that a newspaper that obsessed compulsively over the sexual pecadilloes of a Democratic President could reflect so much distress that we are wasting time on the objectively more heinous activities of a Republican Congressman and a probable cover-up by the Republican leadership.

I don't know whether Mr. Henninger's use of the equation of homosexuality with predatory behavior is deliberate or just an automatic anti-gay bias. Either way, it's insulting, malicious, and irresponsible.

Gay Republicans:

The idea that gays should stay in the Republican party to work for "change from within" stumbles on one major issue, as far as I can see: how effective can you be if you're in the closet? I think if gay Republican staffers and MOCs start coming out, then we might start to see some shift in the party line. Not until.

Granted, in a party that draws its main support from homophobes, that could be a problem.

We have enough testimony from gay Democrats who have come out -- Gerry Studds, Barney Frank, James McGreevey -- about the damage that being in the closet does to your emotional stability.

For what's going on in Republican gaydom now, see this, from NYT.

This quote, from the article, only demonstrates one thing:

Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida who served with Mr. Foley, said, “If you’re a gay Republican, you have to act like a Republican.” Mr. Scarborough, who is now the host of “Scarborough Country” on MSNBC, said “acting like a Republican” entailed going out on the campaign trail “talking about guns, chewing tobacco and riding around in a pickup truck.”

Joe Scarborough is an idiot -- or at least, he knows diddlysqat about gays.

Actually, I'd like to see a Republican -- any Republican, gay, straight, bi, whatever -- with the balls to stand up and say that Foley's sexual orientation is irrelevant.

On Elections in General:

I like this idea from Atrios:

In a year when incumbents are feeling nice and safe there's plenty of money to throw around to challenge incumbents and try to win open seats. But in a year when the incumbents start fearing for the jobs the money is going to start flowing to them.

And, yes, yet another reason why it's not so crazy to run candidates everywhere. It can really help to suck all of the money out of the system.

Keep 'em poor.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Foley Hodgepodge

Flying this morning. I'll have time later to think about this a little more. In the meantime:

Jamison Foser at Media Matters scored CNN on its coverage of the Foley coverup:

But questionable personnel moves are only part of the story; CNN's on-air content tells the story best. The channel's reprehensible treatment of Hastert's bogus allegations that Democrats were responsible for the news stories about Mark Foley speaks for itself -- but it isn't the only way CNN has made a mockery of its claim that it is "the most trusted name in news" this week.

Think Progress spreads the net:

Top conservatives have fanned out on television to defend House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s role in the Foley scandal.

A key talking point: when ABC made Foley’s sexually explicit communications public, Hastert “dealt with it immediately” by going to Foley and telling him, “Resign or be expelled.” Both Ken Mehlman and Ed Gillespie said Hastert’s bold ultimatum to Foley was something not seen “in thirty years in this town.”

In fact, their entire story is a fabrication. Hastert could not have issued an ultimatum to Foley after the sexually explicit instant messages were made public, because by that time, Foley had already resigned. ABC did not make Foley’s sexually explicit communications public until Friday, September 29, at 6pm ET. Foley had already resigned three hours earlier, at around 3pm ET.

(Hat tip to Atrios on both stories.)

It gets better. From Digby:

House Republicans sought to put Democrats on the defense over the Foley House page scandal Friday, asking House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Illinois, to appear before the House Ethics Committee investigating the matter.

Vice Chairman of the Republican Conference Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Georgia, along with several of his GOP colleagues, said the page scandal "should not be a partisan issue," in a letter to the top Democrats.

Another talking point: It's the Democrats' fault because the Republican ledership did not tell them what was going on.

Another smokescreen

The blog Passionate America has revealed the identity and published a photograph of an alleged victim of disgraced Rep. Mark Foley in a post that was pulled and later re-posted with additional information.

RAW STORY can verify that the young man in question is not the Congressional page from the emails that originally surfaced; with that in mind, a direct link to the Passionate America post is not provided here.

RAW STORY has learned that the recipient of the Foley emails is currently 17 (and was 16 at the time of the correspondence).

Passionate America contends that the young man they identified took part in some of the instant message conversations obtained by ABC news. In those messages, the boy explicitly identified himself as being under the age of 18.

Read what poputonian has to say about this:

And like Pavlov's Dog, the right-wing reptiles know without thinking what to do next: attack the media and attack the victim. (Yesterday's post outing the young man already has 21 trackbacks and 61 technorati links, and the story is seeping into the MSM.) For those keeping score at home, the victim is being accused of being of age at the time he was allegedly victimized by the pedafoleyac, and ABC News is being accused of knowing that.

And it's not just Democrats that are in the sights. There are, of course, the Christianists lining up to repeat once again the completely fabricated idea that gay men = pedophile.

Here's Pat Buchanan (found this quote at Box Turtle Bulletin, but it's been all over the Internet):

BUCHANAN: Let me make one more point. Ms. Pelosi has marched in gay pride parades with the North America Man-Boy Love Association, NAMBLA, which—who are pedophiles who are trying to get the laws repealed for sex between men and boys! If she’s been marching with pedophiles, is she credible standing up there saying, I’m shocked, shocked that some Republican is after 17-year-old pages?

OK -- we all know that Buchanan's grasp on reality is tenuous at best, so there's no point in calling him a liar. Lying is probably his first reaction to anything, at this point. Fact: over 98% of pedophiles who claim an adult sexual orientation identify as heterosexual (I've probably still got some links to studies in here somewhere. I'll see if I can find them. That also squares with the FBI's figures.). Fact: NAMBLA is, as far as I know, routinely denied slots in Pride parades. They have certainly been repudiated by all gay advocacy organizations. Fact: Foley is not a pedophile. He's irresponsible and not very well in control of himself, but he's not a pedophile. Congressional pages are by law all above the age of consent in Washington, D.C.

This is from Gary Bauer, also via Box Turtle Bulletin:

Groups like NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association, continue to be given positions in “gay rights” parades and, without shame, continue to promote their governing slogan, “Sex by eight or it’s too late.”

Here is a good discussion by Jim Burroway at BTB, with refences.

I'm bringing this up again because I think it's illuminating of the Republicans' reaction to the scandal: when the former page and his parents complained to their congressman, Rodney Alexander (R-La), Alexander went to Tom Reynolds. Reynolds is chairman of the NRCC. That translates as National Republican Campaign Committee.

Get it?

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Real Thing

This post is dedicated to Donald Wildmon, Lou Sheldon, James Dobson, Ralph Reed, their supporters, and especially their spokesman, Fred Phelps:

From CNN:

A grieving grandfather told young relatives not to hate the gunman who killed five girls in an Amish schoolhouse massacre, a pastor said on Wednesday.

"As we were standing next to the body of this 13-year-old girl, the grandfather was tutoring the young boys, he was making a point, just saying to the family, 'We must not think evil of this man,' " the Rev. Robert Schenck told CNN. . . .

Jack Meyer, a member of the Brethren community living near the Amish in Lancaster County, said local people were trying to follow Jesus' teachings in dealing with the "terrible hurt."

"I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts," he told CNN.

Goldwater Democrat

This post from Andrew Sullivan was good to see -- a conservative (albeit a British one) talking sense. From David Cameron's party conference address:

It means that things which produce more carbon will get more expensive. Going green is not some fashionable, pain-free option. It will place a responsibility on business. It will place a responsibility on all of us.

That is the point.

Note particularly what he says about taxes and families.

It's the kind of conservatism I can listen to, and really, as liberal as I may come across sometimes, the kind that I can adhere to, and usually have. Unlike the so-called "libertarian" strand of conservatism, which I consider morally impoverished, this says simply: people deserve to have the government's support in making the best of their lives -- not the government carrying them, but just supporting, and that we have, as a group, certain responsibilities that are best implemented by our collective institutions -- the government.

The "conservatism" that infests the US right now is a totalitarian, fascist-leaning (if not downright fascist, and there are those who argue that it has gone that far) nightmare.

Excuse me, but just because Orwell predicted it, you think it can't happen?

Sullivan has posted a few comments recently about "Goldwater Democrats." That would be me.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


OK -- I am dearly loving watching the rabids make asses of themselves:

Rick Moran, of the aptly named Rightwing Nuthouse:

If the IM’s were in the possession of the left wing Public Interest Group CREW who then handed them over to ABC News, a legitimate question can be raised about how long they had those IM’s and why they didn’t notify the FBI sooner. If they had them for months (and since the SSP website went up in July we can assume as much) then CREW should be severely criticized for holding back information that placed young lives at risk. In the end - if they did indeed hold on to the IM’s for months - CREW can be singled out for the harshest criticism for the preferment of political gain at the expense of the safety of the pages.

The executive director of CREW has stated that they turned the IMs over to the FBI the same day they were received. ABC has not revealed its source. Technically, Moran's position is known as "grasping at straws." (Update: It seems that ABC was approached by a middleman for the source of the Foley e-mails, who is a Republican staffer. Just so you know.)

The comment about the SSP website refers to a prior paragraph in the post in which Moran proposes an elegant dissection of the existence of a website devoted entirely to bringing down the Republican majority in Congress, a towering edifice of supposition built on thin air. It's quite breathtaking. (And note that he was looking at the wrong site.) He should get the World Fantasy Award for political commentary.

Almost a month ago, a “two comment wonder” at Daily Kos known as WHInternnow revealed that it was an “open secret” that Foley liked the young interns and pages on the Hill and at the White House.

That assertion has also been published, with attribution, in WaPo and NYT, among others. But of course, they're leftists, too.

But how do you “save” an IM? I’m sure there’s a way to do it but it can’t be easy. A better question would be why hang on to the IM’s for 4 or 5 years? My guess would be that such personal messages from a person of such power could have come in handy if questions ever arose about a relationship with Foley. Not blackmail but protection.

This, from a reader at Andrew Sullivan. Trillian automatically logs and saves IMs.

Moran also seems to be convinced that Foley must have had physical relations with at least one of the pages. Oh, the horror! Actually, if he did, that would have been perfectly legal, as long as the boy was willing. The age of consent in Washington D.C. is sixteen.

Allahpundit misstates the case:

The fact is, if someone knew what he was up to and didn’t act to stop it immediately, they’re complicit in child abuse. Period. Republican, Democrat, politician, civilian, what have you. Makes no difference.

No, they're not. There's a possibility that Foley may have violated federal law. He did not engage in child abuse. And by all means, let's spread the net as widely as possible -- obviously, if the Republican leadership, which had responsibility for policing the actions of members of their own party, and seem to be the only ones who had specific information, failed, the Democrats must be equally at fault.

Sloppy, sloppy.

Via Pam's House Blend, this howler from The Newt:

"What we don't have to do is allow our friends on the left to lecture us on morality," Gingrich said at a party fundraiser in Greenville. "There's a certain stench of hypocrisy."

There's a reason GayPatriot has moved to the "Alernate Realities" category. Actually, there are a lot of reasons. This is only one of them:

The first casualty of the Gay GOP Witchhunt has occurred. Forced out by Democrats politicizing the Foley Affair. Statement by Kirk Fordham, Rep. Reynolds Chief of Staff…

“I have resigned today from Congressman Tom Reynolds’ office. It is clear the Democrats are intent on making me a political issue in my boss’s race, and I will not let them do so.

I want to clarify a few things: When I sought to help Congressman Foley and his family when his shocking secrets were being revealed, I did so as a friend of my former boss, not as Congressman Reynolds’ Chief of Staff. I reached out to the Foley family, as any good friend would, because I was worried about their emotional well-being.

At the same time, I want it to be perfectly clear that I never attempted to prevent any inquiries or investigation of Foley’s conduct by House officials or any other authorities.

Like so many, I feel betrayed by Mark Foley’s indefensible behavior. Again, I will not allow the Democrats to make me a political issue in my boss’s race, and I will fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation.”

So far, Fordham "is being scapegoated by the Republicans," being used by Democrats "politicizing the affair" -- have we hard "to spend more time with his family" yet? Oh, right -- he's gay, so, being a Republican, he can't have a family. Maybe he'll sign up for rehab.

Sorry, Charlie -- it's not the Democrats that are making hay out of this. It's a Republican feeding frenzy. Check out this post at AmericaBlog to see if you can follow how the stories are changing minute-by-minute. (Remember, of course, that this is GayPatriot -- like he has to make an issue of it -- so whatever happens, it's Clinton's fault.)

(Speaking of alternate realities, this item from the comments on that post is priceless:

Don’t you think the real difference is the base. When a Dem does something disgracful, the leaders and the base rally round and say hey he’s our guy and if anything they get promoted. When Republicans do bad things they leave, sometimes pushed out.

Yeah, right.)

Seeing the Forest has a nice roundup of the conspiracy theories.

And it gets nasty, aside from what the blogosphere is referring to as the "circular firing sqad." Our right-wing brethren, who make such capital out of "protecting children," have outed one of Foley's victims, according to this report at Think Progress:

An obscure right-wing blogger, Wild Bill, has outed one of Mark Foley’s victims, a former Congressional page. It is a despicable act. Wild Bill however, gets almost no traffic, so the damage done to the victim’s life could have been minimal.

All that ended, however, when some of the most highly-trafficked right-wing bloggers decided to direct their readers to Wild Bill’s site. First, Roger L. Simon, co-founder and CEO of Pajamas Media — a portal and advertising broker for nearly every major right-wing blog — posted a link to Wild Bill on his personal site. (The Pajamas Media portal also linked to Wild Bill.) Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit — probably the most highly-trafficked right-wing blog — followed suit by linking to Simon’s post and the Pajamas Media post.

Save the Children! Heh. Indeed.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


To borrow a title. Ran across this post by poputonian at Digby:

I recall a distinction issued by Riggsveda back in '04:

A Suggestion For Re-Framing

Enough with "values"! The word is meaningless. The right has so worn out this word that it has become almost synonymous with hypocrisy, and we, the left, should not be scrambling to latch onto it in some misguided effort to convince the world that we have them, too. Live your morals, don't waste your breath preaching about them. The real word we should be using, and using at every opportunity, is "honor". It goes beyond just implying that one has ethics. It means one lives by them.


Poputonian follows it with a looong post, but I'm going to keep it short (because I have to go write something else).

Maybe it's time to revive that concept. It can still mean somthing.

Mark Foley

I've been following the Foley disaster, but haven't had time to comment. Sort of bits and pieces of a summary, plus some additional comments on aspects that I haven't seen given what I consider the appropriate prominence.

The conspiracy thinkers are out in full attack mode. This article, cited by Mark Levin at NRO as an "excellent" analysis, seems to be missing a number of relevant facts, such as failing to note that the page class of 2001-2002 was warned to be wary of Foley. And Brian Ross of ABC has come out and said that as far as he knows, the people who broke the story are Republicans. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, GayPatriot is swallowing the conspiracy theories whole.)

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this story, because I don't have a lot of time right now (on deadline). Check out Glenn Greenwald (thoughtful), Josh Marshall (dispassionate), AmericaBlog (shrill) for the most complete coverage.

The real issue is the coverup of Foley's activities. Even the hard-right is screaming for Republican blood on this. I can't say that I'm sorry -- it's all of a piece with every other bit of nastiness the right has come up with in recent years -- torture, unlimited presidential power, anti-gay constitutional amendments, the war on individual liberty -- and it's just been coverup after coverup after coverup.

I also want to make a couple of points: the "child predator" mantra that is showing up is not accurate. These pages are minors, but they are legally of age for consensual sex in DC and in most states. We don't have the legal mechanisms to deal with people of this age effectively -- it's all piecemeal, state-by-state, activity by activity: in Illinois, for example, people can have consensual sex at age 17; can vote at 18, can drive at 16, can drink beer and wine at 18 (or could, for a while -- I lose track), but cannot drink hard liquor until 21, can marry before age 21 only with parents' consent, and are not legally "adults" in the full meaning of the word until 21. So, in this case, for purposes of consensual sex, the pages were adults in Washington. Calling it "child molestation" only serves to obscure the issue, which is the attitude of the Republican leadership to the whole thing, on which there seem to be as many different accounts as there are Republicans giving statements. It's hard to reconcile this:

White House spokesman Tony Snow contributed to the political firestorm yesterday when he told CNN the scandal involved "simply naughty e-mails." Democrats assailed the comment, and Snow later called the messages "disturbing," "appalling" and "reprehensible."

with the moral warriors of the Republican party. Note that the e-mails become "reprehensible" after the negative reaction to their being "naughty."

Foley's behavior is still stupid, irresponsible, and more than merely questionable. I've been on the receiving end of behavior like that, and it's creepy. It's nothing you can't handle -- it never even got to the point of having to say "no"in my case -- but it's still creepy.

Foley claims that he never had physical contact with any of these pages, and I can believe that. I don't understand his attraction to very young men, not on a gut level. I can see it -- gay culture, like the culture as a whole, has a youth fixation -- but I don't understand it. Young men are nice to look at, but I can't see putting up with one through a dinner date. (And I seem to have been, at various points in my life, overwhelmingly attractive to much younger men, although I never dated anyone more than eighteen years younger. At this point in the game, I sort of stick at any difference more than ten years or so.) So, questions of relative power aside, do you condemn anyone who has a relationship with a markedly younger person? Cary Grant? Strom Thurmond?

Inevitably, the Democrats-are-just-as-bad apologists are dragging the Gerry Studds story out of mothballs, and the two are no way alike. Studds had a relationship -- physical and, from all we know, emotional -- with a 17-year-old page. The page was of legal age, and the relationship was consensual. There was apparently enough to it that the page appeared with him ten years later. And the House Democrats, instead of trying to cover it up and blame everyone else, censured Studds. From this vantage, I'm not sure they were right in any other than a political sense. And of course, the Democrats don't claim to be the moral guardians of the country.

Of course the Dobson Gang is all over this, with their own brand of deflecting blame. It's because Foley's gay, you see. If he were straight, it never would have happened. Yeah. Right. They are so laughably predictable at this point that it's hardly worth noting.

And more evidence that Andrew Sullivan just doesn't get it:

John Dickerson makes a good point:

For GOP leaders to pay a heavy political price requires either more evidence that they really knew what Foley was doing or for Democrats to form an alliance, at some level, with people who find homosexuality outrageous no matter what the age.

No. There is no need for Democrats to jump on the anti-gay bandwagon on this issue, and Sullivan should know better. It's a stunning lack of perception on his part to call this a "good point." The Christianists are already trying to pin the whole thing on "gay." That's not the way for the Democrats to go. (Of course, it's probably just that Sullivan would prefer the Democrats to continue to play Republican-Lite.)

That's a really stupid comment.

Humor note:

Brian McGrory of the Boston Globe happened to remember this comment by the Man-on-Dog Boy:

``When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm."

This was when the priestly pedophile scandal was at its height in Boston. Heh. Indeed.

(Actually, the parallels between the Republican leadership and the Catholic hierarchy are becoming to close for comfort.)

This one is even funnier. Matt Drudge, via FDL:

And if anything, these kids are less innocent — these 16 and 17 year-old beasts…and I've seen what they're doing on YouTube and I've seen what they're doing all over the internet — oh yeah — you just have to tune into any part of their pop culture. You're not going to tell me these are innocent babies.

Drudge goes on to claim that, based on the IMs, the pages were "egging the congressman on." Sorry -- that's one interpretation, but I think it's a stretch. Think about it: you're 16 or 17 years old and interested in politics, and a congressman is sending you sexy IMs. What's your reaction going to be, keeping in mind that you're mostly hormones and energy anyway. I'm detecting a fair amount of discomfort in some of the responses, and a fair amount of young-man-being-naughty, but leading him on? Please. They didn't initiate contact.

This is indicative to me of what was going on on the pages' end:

"He was consistently kind," said Bryce Chitwood, president of the 2002 page class. "He was just a very friendly man and was always willing to befriend a page. It was something we appreciated. You find yourself very low on the totem pole of the congressional power scale. For a congressman to act like he was interested in a person and cared about us was something pretty special and pretty important. . . ."

Anna Fry, a former House page who said she had never heard about Foley's advances, said some of her classmates may have been tempted to correspond with the congressman after they left because they were eager to land jobs on Capitol Hill.

"After we graduated, everyone wanted to come back. Everyone was looking for an opportunity to stay in Washington," Fry said. "I can see how a 16-year-old would be vulnerable to that."

There it is -- you want to noticed, you want to be appreciated, you're sixteen years old and if the Congressman is a little creepy, well, so are a lot of them, in different ways. Kids don't have that kind of judgment, to be able to figure out immediately whether something is proper. What's so hard to understand? (In my own case, I never thought about whether it was proper. I just knew I didn't want to get involved with the man, and for me it was a question of involvement. It always has been.)