"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

Saturday, June 30, 2007

My Annual Pride Post

Or rant, maybe. I've run across a couple of "gay pride is sooo '80s" posts, most notably from Andrew "Gay Culture Is Dead" Sullivan. The take from the East Coast Summers-On-The-Cape set is:

Among the more anachronistic relics of the gay liberation period is the Pride Parade. No mystery why, in Manhattan and other blue-state oases, it's a dying institution.

That dying institution had a record 450,000 in attendance this year in Chicago, and you can't hardly get more Blue State than here. I'm looking at the local gay weeklies, with pictures of Pride celebrations from Guadalajara, Athens, Berlin, Milan, Rome (100,000 marchers), and Jerusalem, reports on parades in New York and Seattle (two parades there) as well as our local celebration. (Hey -- what's the word from San Francisco?)

Sullivan quotes from this article a justification for his sniffy attitude:

“I live in New York, and it’s sort of like every day is Gay Pride Parade,” said Matt Davie, 37, an associate publisher at Simon & Schuster, standing in the main room of G Lounge in Chelsea on June 14. “It’s not this special day that I can suddenly throw on my rainbow flag, or whatever. That’s every day. I don’t need this special day where I’m out of the closet.”

Miss the point much? Looks like someone missed the evolution of Gay Pride, bigtime. Once it was us making a political statement. Now it's us fighting off the rafts of politicians who want to march with us. (OK -- I've been at almost all of the last 35 or so Pride parades in Chicago, from back when it was just us to now, when it's the bars, the police, the law students, the politicos -- local and state -- PFLAG, all the other organizations, beer companies -- Com Ed has a contingent, for crying out loud). It's not about that any more -- the political statements have moved to statehouses and city councils, voting booths and Congress. This is a celebration, and if you'd rather forget what gay culture is and has been about, I think we'd rather you did stay away. Nobody needs a party-pooper.

Chris Crain has something intelligent to say about the coverage, which is where I think the fallacies start. Outlining ABC's coverage or world-wide Pride events:

By my count, of the 12 photographs, five were of drag queens and two were of people decked out in otherwise outlandish costumes. Three of the pictures were of shirtless muscle men.

That leaves a grand total of two photos, out of 12, that showed normal looking folk — in both cases pictured with colorful rainbow flags or banners.

So, let's just suppose, for the sake of the argument, that the nose-in-the-air brigade has been watching too much MSM coverage of Pride parades and not spending enough time attending them. Of course, you have to leave your preconceptions at home and just join the party. But then, what the Beltway pundit crowd understands by "party" is not what the rest of us understand at all, obviously. (I suspect they'd find spur-of-the-moment blowjobs in the alley out of line. Tough.)

(Actually, I'm not sure that I'm all that worried about the MSM not showing pictures of "normal people." You can get pictures of normal people anywhere, but how often do you see pictures of gorgeous hunks in seqinned Speedos and feathers? There was a float last year from one of the Latino organizations with an Aztec theme -- now that was worth standing out in the sun for.)

The problem, many said, is that once the personal issues are resolved, the parade depends upon an overarching political purpose to succeed. And, well, there isn’t one.

“The parade is a blank canvas that can have any message written in New York,” said Mr. Foreman. “But right now there is no overarching community message. You can’t deny there is something very different from the peak of the AIDS epidemic.”

Complacency? Personal satisfaction? Political shallowness? What keeps the affluent gays away exactly?

“The reason I don’t go anymore is, where I’ve reached a stage in my life where I realize everyone there is a walking cliché of a gay person,” said Gerald Hansen, a 38-year-old who teaches E.S.L., who was speaking at the Phoenix. “All they do is live their lives from the fact that they’re gay. They watch gay movies or subscribe to the gay network and they’ll only call a gay plumber, or whatever. Those are the only people that go to that parade.”

Likewise, a man who wouldn’t give his name and who was at G Lounge said, “The parade has given us the opportunity to assimilate into society, but when there are boys dancing around in Speedos and butterfly wings, how are you going to go into Goldman Sachs the next day and work?”

Take off the butterfly wings. You can do what you want with the Speedo.

I'd say these comments represent a community that has lost its juice, but I have a feeling these people were pretty dried out to begin with. Some of what they're saying here is just flat-out bullshit. "No overarching community message"? I suspect many of these people never had much sense of community outside their own little circle to begin with. As for living our lives from the fact that we're gay, crap. I know too many people who enjoy the parade and the parties and who have lives that have very little to do with being gay. It's a chance to really cut loose.

I'd love to know how many of these burned-out queens actually spend time working within the community. I really would.

And of course, that's a big part of what the parades are about -- community, as tacky and elegant and spontaneous and funky as it is. It's not about politics, except the most personal kind, and it's not about movements. It's about excitement and fun and being outrageous and being part of a something bigger than you are.

That's what it always was.

Out of Power and Still Screwing Things Up

The Republicans in Congress, that is. See Digby's comments and sign the petition. Make sure all your non-affiliated friends know just who is stopping minimum wage increases, continuing subsidies for big corporations, wanting seniors to pay maximum prices for drugs, opposing the right of habeas corpus, and trying to scuttle everything else we voted the Democrats into office to do.

Here's the homepage for Campaign for America's Future. Check it out.

Joke of the Day, with Comments

From Brent Bozell, quoted by Andrew Sullivan:

"Ann Coulter is owed an apology from those outlets, including NBC’s Nightly News, The Washington Post and CNN’s American Morning, which have mis-reported her comments. And conservatives, take note: Today it’s Coulter, tomorrow it may be you. The left has demonstrated that it will stop at nothing, including flat-out dishonesty, to undermine our leaders,"

Apparently, "mis-reporting" includes showing video clips. Bozell should wise up -- we're smarter than he thinks we are, all of us.

Of course, the only feedback he gets is from his army of robot letter-writers who file complaints with the FCC on TV programs they haven't seen.

Nobody owes Ann Coulter an apology for anything.

And, courtesy of TPM Election
, here's Elizabeth Edwards explaining to Wolf Blitzer (from all reports, not the brightest porch light on the block), what's wrong with Coulter.

I've heard the argument that we shouldn't be giving thugs like Coulter any attention, but the problem with that is that they're not relying on those who are quite rightly repulsed by their rhetoric and the attitudes they reflect. They already have the attention, which is why I think the Edwards campaigns tactic is exactly the right one. You get a nice, gracious, iron-spined Southern lady (a breed I know very, very well -- you don't want to mess with them) like Elizabeth Edwards to nail her to the wall, and make sure it's on national TV. Every time. And you keep doing it.

Let her have the attention.

Friday, June 29, 2007

So Long, Land of Equality

The disasters just keep coming from the Supremes. Today's joke: you can desegregate schools, but you're not allowed to consider race while you're doing it.

(By the way, I don't agree with Newman's opinion of the Court in general at all, and I'd love to see him substantiate it. I'd particularly enjoy watching him demonstrate that Brown, Loving, Griswold, Roe, Casey, Lawrence are coming down on the worst side of civil liberties. It's pretty much a no-brainer: it's not the court as an institution that is a problem, but the tendency to appoint ideologically driven justices, which BushCo has taken to an extreme, as it has everything else that might damage the country's basic institutions.)

M. J. Rosenberg has this comment:

In the meantime, the rightwing juggernaut will continue. There is no way to know where it will end now that the right has even gone after desegregation. Repeal child labor laws? Minimum wage? Environmental regulation?

Mark it down. This week was a real turning point in the country's history. The stealing of the 2000 election has now achieved results that, even the most paranoid among us, would never have imagined. Thanks, Ralph Nader.

If you want a pretty scary vision of what we're in for, note this:

In one full term, this Court has severely curbed local efforts to promote racial diversity in schools, upheld a right-wing ban on a necessary medical procedure for women, curbed students' free speech rights, crippled Congress' ability to keep corporate money out of political advertising, prevented taxpayers from challenging the constitutionality of Bush's faith-based initiatives, made it almost impossible for women to prevail on claims of longterm sex discrimination . . . and they're just getting started.


Some analysis of the desegregation decision at Balkinization, by Jim Ryan, Jack Balkin, and Mark Graber. Orrin Kerr at Volokh links to other commentaries.

Romney's Shaggy Dog Story

This one's all over the place. I'm including this link because it's from Stephen Bainbridge, who is pretty damned conservative (although not, thankfully, the "double Gitmo" variety), and his commenters are generally pretty conservative themselves. The reaction to this story is illuminating to say the least.

And just to point out how stupid Romney is (as if the story itself weren't enough), it was released by his campaign to show what a cool, effective decision-maker he is.

Sorry -- we don't need another George W. Bush.

Will the Real al Qaeda Please Stand Up?

From Atrios, reporting a story from the BBC.

But the bigger point is that US military has no idea if these guys were "al Qaeda," or, more specifically, "al Qaeda in Iraq," which isn't really "al Qaeda" in the sense of being "the bad guys who attacked on 9/11." They may have thought they were "bad guys," and they may in fact have been "bad guys," but most likely all they know is that they're dead Iraqis and we have a stenographic press.

I'm not the first to comment on the way the insurgents in Iraq (read "sectarian militias") have morphed into "al Qaeda," with the willing connivances of the MSM. They have as much to do with al Qaeda as most of the "terrorists" at Guananamo.

Thank you, Newt Gingrich, for introducing the Republican Party to Newspeak.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hmmm. . . .

Just scoping out The Map. Some surprising things going on there: I'm making good progress in China and Mexico, slowly penetrating Russia, and moving up into Scandinavia, with a few random visits from places in Africa.

Still no hits from Antarctica, though.

Elizabeth Edwards for President!

I know she's doing it as a surrogate, but she's doing it, and that's what counts.

The Democrats' strategy has been "ignore them and they'll go away." We can see how that has worked out.

Think Progress has a transcript. Coulter has no response -- except for more personal attacks.

And, according to her fans, she states the conservative position brilliantly.

Do I really need to say anything?

Restore the Patriarchy!

From Amanda Marcotte. Isn't it interesting how "real" Christians get to pick and choose which Bible verses they'll believe in?

Bong Hits 4 Jesus!

Apparently, surrealistic satire is not protected speech. Crooks and Liars seems to have the best summary of this story.

The phrase doesn’t make any sense, and it wasn’t supposed to. 18 year old high school senior Joseph Frederick unfurled the 14 foot banner on a public sidewalk across the street from the high school during a non-school event. High school administrator Deborah Morse confiscated the banner and suspended Frederick for “advocating drug use” evidently in view of other high school students.

And yesterday, the Supreme Court backed her up and said that Frederick’s right to free speech did not include reasonably interpreted discussion of drug use in a high school setting.

Scott Lemieux points out Justice Stevens' comment:

... I take the Court’s point that the message on Frederick’s banner is not necessarily protected speech, even though it unquestionably would have been had the banner been unfurled elsewhere. As to the second, I am willing to assume that the Court is correct that the pressing need to deter drug use supports JDHS’s rule prohibiting willful conduct that expressly “advocates the use of substances that are illegal to minors.” But it is a gross non sequitur to draw from these two unremarkable propositions the remarkable conclusion that the school may suppress student speech that was never meant to persuade anyone to do anything.

He also commented that the ruling "does serious violence to the First Amendment."

Look, the banner was nonsensical and probably satirical, in a weird, slipstream sort of way. I think it's funny. What bothers me is that we have a whole fleet of school administrators, lawyers, and Supreme Court justices who just don't get it.

Looking a some of the most recent decisions, the Roberts Court is shaping up to be a real disaster, coming down in favor of sex discrimination in salary, state-supported religion, the right of wealthy donors and well-healed PACs to influence elections (strange how they have free speech rights and a high-school kid doesn't)*, and of the government's right to retaliate for exercise of constitutional rights. I shudder to think what this bunch will do with any suits coming out of the Justice Deparment sell-out.

Lemieux has spotted a principle:

. . . In fairness, Scalia and Thomas have created a clear, identifiable principle: standing rules should be liberal when they are likely to produce conservative outcomes and narrow when they are likely to produce liberal outcomes. Whether this is a defensible principle I leave to the reader.

There's a lot of commentary among the contributors at Volokh Conspiracy that's worth reading. Just start scrolling down. (Or use the links -- they're savvy enough to group them at the end of each post.)

* For a scathing commentary on the Court's incoherence on Free Speech, see this article from the Houston Chronicle.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


To counter the nightmare of our current administration and its enforcers noted in the post below, read this one from Phoenix Woman at Firedoglake. There is hope for the future.

I feel better now.

Too Tired for Outrage

I am, anyway. Read Hullabaloo -- Digby and Tristero are going to town on everything you should be pissed about.

Sorry, Dorothy

I read a headline like this and I always think it's coming out of Kansas or someplace like that.

Not always.


An editorial from USA Today on the consequences of all those state anti-marriage constitutional amendments. It's generally admonitory of those states that rushed to the polls to keep gays out of the mix, but a little naive in some regards:

It is far from certain whether some of the amendments passed in 2004 would succeed today. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain for two years; eventually it might be accepted in the United States. Meanwhile, states that rushed to ban it need to rethink language that is overly broad or likely to produce unintended consequences.

What ever made them think those consequences were unintended? Given the record of duplicity and dishonesty on the part of anti-marriage activists, I think those consequences were part of the plan. (I'm reminded of Peter LaBarbera, Illinois' own Porno Pete who does so much "research" in bathhouses and the back rooms of leather bars, who, after a career of decrying "activist judges," went to court to have Illinois' election laws overturned when he couldn't get enough valid signatures for an anti-marriage referendum here.)

In New York, the Assembly has passed Gov. Spitzer's same-sex marriage bill. But, to give you an idea of the smallness and nastiness of opponents, catch this:

Not everyone was convinced. Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua, said he felt personally “threatened” by the legislation; Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat from Brooklyn, suggested including a provision to legalize incest.

Let's just dismiss the obviously panty-waisted Assemblyman Kolb. Isn't Assemblyman Hikind a man worthy of respect? Equating same-sex marriage to incest is really a reasonable, constructive comment, isn't it? Tell me some more about the hatred and vitrol among radical gays.

(Thanks to Marriage Equality News. Check the site out -- there's a lot of interesting stuff there, including some surprising editorials from papers in surprising places. We're winning.)

(I have some catching up to do on this topic, including a response to a couple of e-mails from GayPatriotWest after my last post. Haven't forgotten you, Dan, just been really, really busy.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Word of the Day: Mendacity

IT's sort of the current substitute for factual reporting. I lose hope that the press will actually be worth anything ever again, now that the most influential parts of it have joined corporate America. A couple of examples:

I meant to comment yesterday on this OpEd in the NYT by Melinda Henneberger. The basic dishonesty of this piece is revealed (unintentionally, I'm sure) here:

Over 18 months, I traveled to 20 states listening to women of all ages, races, tax brackets and points of view speak at length on the issues they care about heading into ’08. They convinced me that the conventional wisdom was wrong about the last presidential contest, that Democrats did not lose support among women because “security moms” saw President Bush as the better protector against terrorism. What first-time defectors mentioned most often was abortion.

"First time defectors" from the Democrats. Do you suppose she talked -- mmm, "listened to" -- any first-time defectors from the Republicans? What do you suppose they might have said?

So where's the mendacity? Simple: What's Henneberger's agenda? You won't find any hint in the OpEd. Check out this very good comment on it from Tom Hilton at If I Ran The Zoo, who traces a bit of Henneberger's history, coming up with the revelation that, sure 'nuff, she's a forced-birth Republican. Digby, of course, nails it.

Henenberger is anti-choice. Fine. She went out and found some anti-choice people just like her and extrapolated from their conversation that abortion was killing the Democratic party, just as she personally thinks it is. But she never says that. Instead, she pretends that she has conducted some objective reporting which led to the inevitable conclusion that the Democratic party is losing because of abortion. That is shoddy journalism, opinion or not.

She should have written a straight up anti-choice op-ed. That's perfectly legitimate. But she is being completely dishonest to say that her opinion has any empirical value. It doesn't.

This is, I think, the lead-in to the under-the-table Republican campaign for next year. Of course, NYT is in the forefront, and I suppose WaPo will be jumping on the bandwagon soon: publish the upcoming mantras as if they had some validity, and then push the "story." The best thing the Democrats can do is to ignore crap like this.

The right wingnuts are still flogging the "liberal bias in the press" horse, which is dead enough that it really is starting to smell. Jamison Foser at Media Matters noted a couple of studies:

Conservative media critics, eager as always to discuss what is in the hearts and minds of journalists rather than what is actually in newspapers and on television, have seized on MSNBC's list of 144 journalists who "made campaign contributions from 2004 through the first quarter of 2007."

Matt Drudge hyped the article with his lead headline: "THE GREAT DIVIDE: REPORTERS GIVE DEMS MONEY OVER REPUBLICANS 9 TO 1!" On Fox & Friends, hosts Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson agreed that the study shows a "media bias in the country" and that it also showed there isn't one at Fox News. . . .

For starters, MSNBC found fewer than 150 journalists who have made political contributions. There were more than 116,000 working journalists in America as of 2002. The 144 who made contributions not only constitute a tiny fraction of American journalists, they cannot be considered a representative sample of the whole. Indeed, we know that they are un-representative of all journalists: They made reported campaign contributions, and their colleagues did not.

Furthermore, 144 journalists may be a tiny number, but it is also a grossly inflated one. As Matthew Yglesias noted:

This effort at ginning up controversy by revealing political contributions made by employees of media organizations seems fundamentally misguided. For one thing, no effort is being made to see if the people named have any ability to impact coverage of national politics. They have, for example, a former copy editor here at The Atlantic on their list, but what nefarious influence is she supposed to have had on the magazine's coverage?

Indeed, if you look at MSNBC's list, you won't find Tim Russert or Bob Woodward or Maureen Dowd. You won't see many contributions from reporters for CNN or The New York Times or The Washington Post or ABC News. But you will find sports copy editors for the New Hampshire Union Leader and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a sports statistician for The Boston Globe, sports columnists for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and a sports editor for the San Jose Mercury News. Who dares even to imagine the liberal claptrap that must seep into coverage of the Fort Worth Flyers basketball games?

This has become such a sad little ploy. It's really pathetic. Desperate times and all that, I guess. (Read Foser's full post. It's a good one.)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ralph Nader

Jeebus! Not again?!

Let's All Welcome the New War Czar

From Earthlink e-news:

Ewing could only watch as his Chevy Impala sank into the river. No dummy, Charlie jumped out of the window as the car went downhill.

Friday, June 22, 2007

It Never Stops

Already had a terrible week, got called into work again today, and I'm on deadline.



Ah, Yes -- the "Fringe Leftists"

Glenn Greenwald takes that mantra apart, taking off from Digby:

We may argue about tactics and strategies, or the extent to which we are partisans versus ideologues. And believe me, we do.

But there's no disagreement among us that the modern conservative movement of Newt and Grover and Karl and Rush has proven to be a dangerous cultural and political cancer on the body politic.

You will not find anyone amongst us who believes that the Bush administration's executive power grab and flagrant partisan use of the federal government is anything less than an assault on the Constitution.

We stand together against the dissolution of habeas corpus, and the atrocities of Abu Grahib and Guantanamo.

And we all agree that Islamic terrorism is a threat, but one that we cannot meet with military power alone.

And yes, a vast majority of us were against this mindless invasion of Iraq from the beginning, or at least saw the writing on the wall long before Peggy Noonan discovered that George W. Bush wasn't the second coming of Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we also all agree that the mainstream media is part of the problem. Democracy sufferes when not being held accountable by a vigorous press.

That is a rather comprehensive list of the defining views of what is commonly referred to as the "liberal blogosphere" or "the progressive blogosphere" or the "netroots." Is there a single one of those views which can remotely be described as fringe, radical, extreme, out of the mainstream, or even rigidly ideological?

Beyond that, are the views Digby described really accurately characterized as "liberal," at least in the sense that the term was understood prior to the advent of Bush radicalism? There are large numbers of individuals who have never considered themselves to be "liberal" in the past -- and certainly not anywhere near the "Far Left" -- who would vigorously embrace every one of these propositions. Indeed, large percentages of Americans -- if not clear majorities -- embrace each of these beliefs.

Only in the true fringe -- what Digby calls "the modern conservative movement of Newt and Grover and Karl and Rush," as well as their establishment media enablers -- does opposition to the Iraq War, or Guantanamo and torture, or the abolition of habeas corpus, or the grotesque deceit of the Limbaugh Right make one a "leftist" or fringe liberal, as those terms are used in their pejorative sense. The reality is that the views Digby identifies as the crux of the "progressive blogosphere" are entirely mainstream American views. "Extremism" is marked by those who reject those beliefs, not by those who embrace them.

Digby also points out what activated her -- and most of the rest of us:

During the last decade there have been three catalyzing events that drove people like me to the Internet to research, investigate and write about assaults on democracy itself.

•In 1998 the political media lost all perspective and aggressively helped the Republicans pursue a partisan witchhunt against a democratically elected president --- against the will of the people.

•The coverage of the presidential election of 2000 was legendary for its bias and sophomoric personality journalism. The press actually joined the Republicans in telling the majority, who had voted for Al Gore. to "get over it." I never got over it.

•And the almost gleeful support for the invasion of Iraq, a journalistic failure of epic proportions.

If you hadn't been sufficiently aroused from your complacency by then, you never would be. The blogosphere was the natural place for many of us to turn when the institutions we counted upon seemed to be daring us to believe them or believe our own eyes.

SilentPatriot at Crooks and Liars has a list of who stands where on the issues of the day. You don't even have to rely on polls -- just look at the last election if you want to figure out who's mainstream and who's fringe.

This hits home because I periodically visit a few sites that seem to live on this sort of knee-jerk "fringe leftist" kind of attitude, when they're not blaming Bill Clinton for Iraq and all. They're also the ones who are constantly complaining about the vitriol and hate spewed on liberal sites, and I keep wondering who the hell they're reading.

I guess they think Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, and LGF are liberals.

(Read Digby's speech. Now.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007


It's been really hectic for the past few days, and I just haven't been home very much. No time to really think about things, much less post on them.

I do have some comments coming up on stuffed-shirt librarians, a response to some criticism of my criticisms of other bloggers' posts, and probably something new.

Bear with me. It's only a movie.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


When I got home from work last night I was so tired everything hurt. My brain is not processing information too well today, so just a few small quickies. I'll catch up on some other things later this week.

Let's Hear It For Snopes

Finally, the AFA gets called out on its lies about the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. Yes, lots of bloggers have been doing it, but not many people are going to notice those unless they know the score already. Snopes has, as Jim Burroway points out, put AFA "in the company of emails promoting gas-outs and others claiming Bill Gates will pay you a million dollars if you forward an email."

The Courts and Our Rights

A post by Dover Bitch at Hullabaloo hits a lot of things on the head but doesn't go far enough:

I hesitate to say that people who believe a woman has a right to control her own body have become complacent, but the fact of the matter is that the courts are no longer a reliable last line of defense for women's rights. The arena in which women's rights will be secured has shifted and become less concentrated, which means the burden of maintaining those rights will have to be shared by more Americans.

Furthermore, there is hardly a flatter lie than when a GOP candidate says these issues should be left to the states. Is there any doubt that the minute a woman no longer has a Constitutional, fundamental right to make these decisions, the pro-life movement will immediately attempt to have a federal ban? They've been trying to do that already, even with a woman's rights protected by Roe.

The courts have always been our last recourse in the area of individual rights. With the right-wing assault of the past decade or so, and Bush packing the federal bench with ideologues, that's no longer the case. It's not just women's rights, it's everyone's rights. That's one reason I don't want to see same-sex marriage cases in the federal courts right now -- it won't get a fair hearing.

The Culture of Life

From Talk to Action:

Our winners this week plan to reenact the the actions of theocratic martyr Paul Hill next month in Milwaukee. On July 29, 1994 Paul Hill, who sought to set a good example for Christian theocratic revolutionaries, assasinated abortion provider Dr. John Britton and James Barrett one of his escorts, and seriously wounding another, June Barrett, outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida.

George L. Wilson of Children Need Heroes and Drew Heiss of Street Preach are planning to honor Paul Hill in a series of events called "Paul Hill Days" in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 26th - 29th -- "to honor him as God's man and our hero. . . ."

It should be noted that George L. Wilson, the proprietor of Children Needs Heroes, recognizes two other heroes he believes America's children should learn about: Shelly Shannon, who was convicted of the attempted assasination of Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, among other serious crimes, including a series of arsons; and of course, James Kopp, who was convicted in the sniper assasination of Dr. Barnett Slepian in Amherst, New York. Kopp is also the chief suspect in several other shootings.

All three are recognized as Heroes of the Faith by the Army of God, members of which are likely to be on hand for the festivities.

So there you have it: the pro-life movement counts murderers as heroes. As Digby points out, these people are terrorists.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Victory Redux

From a reader at Andrew Sullivan with a point I made yesterday:

I fully expect that the social right will react just as you predict, claiming that only a popular vote could give gay marriage genuine legitimacy. But the fact of the matter is that there have been multiple popular referendums here in Massachusetts on the issue, in the form of elections to the Legislature. If there were really a hidden swell of opposition, presumably it would have punished the politicians who supported gay marriage, ushering in a new class of legislators dedicated to overturning it. What we've seen is the opposite: anti-gay marriage politicians being voted out en masse in favor of those who support it. The people have spoken, over and over, and the result is one we can all be proud of, a wonderful example of our republic in action.

Another of Sullivan's readers has what I think is a germane comment:

I think you did capture the essence of the truce and what makes the U.S. so great, bar one sentence:

"Given the huge differences between, say, a born-again evangelical in Georgia and a pot-smoking post-boomer in Seattle, no single cultural strait-jacket can ever hold America together."

Change "pot-smoking post-boomer in Seattle" to "pot-smoking post-boomer in Atlanta" and you really capture the U.S. - born-again evangelicals living in the same friggin' city (Atlanta) and working with and shopping with pot-smoking post-boomers. Hell, I was just wished "A blessed day" on the elevator by a complete stranger.

Sullivan goes on to wonder why so many are afraid of equality under the law.

It's really very simple, and for most of us it's a no-brainer. Live and let live. As evidenced by the vote in Massachusetts, and even more so by the trends in polls concerning gay rights, DADT, marriage and the whole complex of related issues, most people in this country are fine with that philosophy. For those who don't follow that creed the very idea is anathema. The problem is, reality is not on their side, which is why we now have the Wildmon Gang and its allies lying about the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. In their eyes, any real liberty, which is to say any way of life that does not conform to their strictures, is pernicious and threatening.

I'm not going to get into the discussion about the somewhat naively optimistic posts in some quarters -- you can follow that one for yourself. Just let me say that, in reference to Benen's comment on the Democrats, I think Paul Waldman at Tapped has a much more accurate analysis: "they've generally been content to keep a step or two behind public opinion, gripped as usual by fear of offending the people who dislike them the most." The Democrats, at least on the national scene, have been pretty much useless, when not downright obstructive, in this fight. (I notice that John Kerry all of a sudden is against the Massachusetts anti-marriage amendment -- now that it's been defeated. If I can find that link, I'll post it.)

That said, the victory in Massachusetts is, indeed, a real victory, and not only for gays: it's a victory for the American system, the one that the Christianists want to destroy. But the war is not over, by any means -- they will be back, and every defeat will just fill their coffers as their rhetoric gets more shrill and their lies more extreme.

But then, we're the ones making history.

Abstinence. . . Oh, Right.

Lindsay Beyerstein on Christianist pork-barrel spending.

Home of the Brave

Somehow, it seems perfectly reasonable to me that the pillars of the right wing would find bookstores hostile territory.

Y'know, because of the ideas and all.

Another One of Life'sLittle Ironies

From Wulfgar at A Chicken Is Not Pillage:

just hope you delete the leftist spam as it is posted and not let it block up your site for more than a few hours at a time. You really have to fight the leftist scum because freedom of expression is the one thing they will never tolerate.

Action Alert on Hate Crimes

I love stealing phrases from the nutjobs.

A somewhat low-key call to action from Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin. It's a chance provided by those anti-American stalwarts, the American Family Association, to tell Congress what you really think about the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act (and the AFA).

Go for it -- but be nice. The bills in question are H.R. 1692 and S. 1005.

Donald Wildmon and his Sturmsoldaten are not the only ones that have been lying about the bills. See this from Wayne Besen.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Teh Xpertz!

Something to tide you over until I can think about it. Galley Cat takes on Michael Gorman, anti-Internet former president of the Americn Library Association.

So far, Gorman's argument seems like a house of cards, but I just looked at the clock and I don't have the time to think about it right now. Besides, I'm starving.

Big Win in Massachusetts

Read a a first-hand account of the Massachusetts constitutional convention that defeated an anti-marriage amendment. It appears from this that the final vote was 151 to 45. They needed fifty to put the measure on the ballot.

Believe it or not, for a blog post it's really exciting.

Here are comments by Dale Carpenter, a view of the Christianist meltdown via Pam's House Blend (actually, a couple examples), and here is a statement by Mass. Sen. Gale Candaras on why she changed her vote to support same-sex marriage. It's a wonderful statement.

And here is a somewhat troublesome post by GayPatriotWest that very gracefully avoids the major issues -- or counts them as faults. He is ambivalent about the vote, apparently, because the legislature was voting due to a decision by the Massachusetts courts. He objects to the fact that the question wasn't put on the ballot.

I’m ambivalent on the issue because I believe that legislatures (rather than courts) are the appropriate institution to decide a state’s policy on marriage. And here, an elected legislature (though under special circumstances) did vote on the policy. So, I should favor the decision. But, it troubles me that they only acted because the state Supreme Judicial Court (the highest court in the Bay State) had mandated marriage, taking it out of the legislature’s hands, leaving only the state’s complicated constitutional amendment process as a means of recourse. . . .

[Dale Carpenter]notes that the vote shows “how dramatically support for SSM [Same-Sex Marriage] has grown in the legislature,” but agrees that “a successful referendum vote in November 2008” would have represented an “even bigger win.“

Given the prospect of such a successful referendum, I wonder (yet again) at why gay groups so delighted in blocking it. Such a victory would have done much to undercut the argument of gay marriage opponents that gay activists seek to “impose” gay marriage on an unwilling public.

Can someone from the right side of the aisle please explain to me where in the Constitution, or in the legislative or judicial history of this country, it is stipulated that civil rights are subject to popular referendum? Is the Bill of Rights merely window-dressing? Is the concept of "limited sovereignty of the people" a complete mystery? Sure, a successful referendum might have been a bigger propaganda win, but that's only a might have been. Don't think that the anti-gay Christianists would sit still for that any more than they're going to sit still for this.

As for "imposing gay marriage on an unwilling public," that has no contact with reality at all. Let's look at the history here: the question first came up in the last legislature. By law, it must pass twice (with, mind you, a tiny minority vote) to be put on the ballot. In the time since the first vote, a new legislature has been elected, voters knew that this question was going to come up, and many of those legislators who opposed SSM lost their seats. Who is trying to impose what here? The way to deal with the distorted rhetoric of the Dobson Gang is not to accept its terms, but to challenge them. No one's "imposing" same-sex marriage on the voters of Massachusetts. Within the agreed framework of how their government works, the voters have spoken. What is so hard about that? So why can't we hear gay conservatives say that?

I think this is a good response to the whining from the anti-gay bigots (and I am calling them bigots -- there's no other name that fits) who are now claiming "horse-trading" and "political pressure" (which seems to be fine when they do it -- remember the controversy over the first vote, when the Archbishop of Boston supposedly made threatening phone calls to Catholic legislators?)

Among those who switched was Rep. Richard Ross, a Wrentham Republican who said there was no trading for his vote.

Ross said he no longer believes that people should vote on the matter, and feared that "hatred and vitriol" would dominate the ballot question campaign.

"Nine thousand of them have now married, who have blended into society, who have hurt no one," Ross said. "I just couldn't see exposing them to all of that stuff over the next two years.

"I know there's going to be a lot of folks that I need to apologize to in my district," he said. "Whatever happens I'm moving forward. I know I did the right thing."

GPW is also still beating the "real meaning of marriage" horse, grumbling because "no one" is talking about marriage as a social institution -- and then proceeds to link to several posts that do just that.

I don't know if it's denial or a high tolerance for cognitive dissonance. I've taken him to task for that before, and he doesn't seem to get it. It seems to be a defining characteristic of the posters at GayPatriot that they simply ignore whatever they don't want to hear. (Anyone remember the "Democrats' Culture of Corruption" post over there?)

To put it in the simplest terms possible, the courts did their job in Massachusetts and declared the Commonwealth's marriage laws unconstitutionally discriminatory. The Legislature did its job in dealing with a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn that decision. The voters, with full knowledge of what they were doing, elected legislators who would reflect their will.

And we, as a community (ad raggedy-assed as it is) win a major victory for the hearts and minds of America, and gay "convervatives" are ambivalent about it because it didn't happen they way they thought it should, even though the way they thought it should has nothing to do with the way the country is actually supposed to work.

Draw your own conclusions.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Update on Religious Right Earmarks

An update to this post: from reader PietB, this little bit of information:

I did a little research this morning and found this, which I think tells us what we need to know: http://www25.uua.org/uuawo/pdf/REAL%20Act.pdf. In short, there's no bill number yet -- the funding is part of comprehensive budgetary considerations.

I haven't managed to download Adobe Reader yet, so you're on your own.

Thanks, Piet.

Teaching the "Controversy"

Thank you, all gods beneficent, for PZ Myers (although I'm sure he hates the idea). Neatest summary of the creationist/ID position:

He seems to be assuming that everything should be presented as the idea and its negation; like math class should teach "2 + 2 = 4" and "2 + 2 ≠ 4".

Outrage du jour

This story at Deep-Sea News.

t is no secret that the U.S. military has used the ocean as trashcan for munitions in the past. Peter discussed at the Old DSN how federal lawmakers were pressing the US Army to reveal everything it knows about a massive international program to dump chemical weapons off homeland and foreign shores. "The Army now admits that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste - either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels."

Yes, we've been doing it for decades and we're still doing it. How's that for upholding tradition?

Why doesn't everyone in charge of this sort of thing just take arsenic and save the rest of us a lot of grief?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What Digby Said*

Another one of those posts from Digby, starting with Mike Huckabee (maybe Cory Burnell will make him president of South Carolina when the secession finally happens) and moving into Guantanamo and the perversion of America that is the Bush war on terror.

This thinking gives you a pretty clear look into how Huckabee and his little Republican followers view the concepts of justice and security. And the inescapable conclusion is that these primitive authoritarians may very well be only one short step from applying the laws of the "war on terror" to the American judicial system in general. You cannot make a logical distinction between believing the government should lock potential terrorists up because they might cause some harm and locking potential criminals up because they might cause some harm. It is only a matter of time before that thinking bleeds into the lizard brains of a good portion of Americans, who up to now have been more or less successfully inculcated in the great American values of "innocent until proven guilty" and "due process" and "inalienable rights" even if they didn't always practice them perfectly. We certainly didn't have politicians openly calling for keeping innocent people imprisoned forever because they might do something wrong in the future and it would make the government look bad for having let them out!

I don't really have anything to add.

* (With credit to Atrios)

Sex in the Bible Belt

I don't know what it is, but it seems to be spreading from Florida to Georgia -- or maybe it's the other way around and it's just been dormant in Georgia for a while.

It seems as though everyone is noting this story, although few are actually commenting on it.

First off, the sentence in this case was ludicrous, almost as ridiculous as the prosecution of the two teenagers in Florida for taking pictures of themselves having sex.

We're talking about heavy red, Bible Belt states here. But when you also add in this story, you start to get an idea of how sadly warped these people are. The comments on the article are illuminating. Nowhere does anyone advance the idea that there might be something missing in these lives, although one or two do hint at the possibility that traditional Christian teaching, as it seems to be understood by this group, doesn't have all the answers. Actually, in light of the fact that the comments overwhelmingly blame outside forces -- society, the devil, Rick Warren -- it's obvious that they aren't even asking the right questions.

I've said this before, but I really do have a complete inability to understand the mindset here. I mean, I understand the idea of resisting temptation -- I do it every time I pass up a chance to have a fudge brownie -- but to cast the entirety of human experience -- or at least those parts you think you should disapprove of -- into the realm of "temptation" strikes me as somewhat off-base. Just a little.

But then, of course, you get to blame everyone else, with the additional perk that, if you sincerely repent, you are forgiven for being human. It's like you don't have to learn anything from experience -- it's all taken care of.

And that, of course, is the mindset that gives us things like the attempt to legislate consensual sexual behavior. Sure, I understand protecting kids, but I am also in complete agreement with Romeo-and-Juliet laws. The law simply can't prevent kids from experimenting, and I don't think that's the appropriate context for any punishment that could be due. If there is going to be prevention, or if there is going to be retribution of any sort, it is the parents' duty and right. Two teenagers having sex is not in the same league at all as an older person using the power of significant age difference to have sex with a minor, and yet we have a point of view that just says "Eek! Illicit sex!" ("illicit" being purely arbitrary) and lumps it all together with no sense of the realities.

I'm not advocating an anything goes philosophy here, but I do hope for some sense of compassion and even more, a sense of what is appropriately the government's purview and what is not. The whole idea of legislating morality is repugnant, because morality itself is fluid, outside of the basic standards of behavior we need to be able to live together (i.e., "it's not nice to kill the neighbors"). I can certainly see the sense in age of consent laws -- that's to protect children, who need protection -- but when they start to creep into regulating the minutiae of what acts are permissible and imposing harsher penalties depending on whether the legislature approves of certain behaviors, then they go outside the pale.

Nor do I favor mandatory sentences. I think it's important the judges, who have the opportunity to examine the elements of each individual case, have the discretion to be sure that the sentence actually fits the crime. Legislatures deal in the general, and so that kind of specificity is impossible for them. That sort of thing is just an illustration of the worst aspects of the mindset.

OK -- that's today's rant.

Dr. James Holsinger

It appears I wasn't so far off when I called Holsinger, Bush's latest wildly inappropriate nominee, a scientist in the tradition of Paul Cameron. Jim Burroway has a thorough critique of one of Holsinger's papers.

Monday, June 11, 2007

What Are These People Drinking?

This one is showing up at Pandagon, Pam's House Blend, and Digby. Digby has the key political take:

So you have an obscenely expensive program that the data shows doesn't work, that Democrats don't want and that actually hurts kids. The only people it benefits are a bunch of right wing extremist scam artists who would rather put ice picks in their eyes than support a Democrat --- and the Republican party, who continue to receive plenty of largesse in return. Yet the Democratic congress has agreed to fund it.

Digby has all the essential back-up. Read his post, and Amanda Marcotte's.

This program is immoral for a lot of reasons, and I simply don't understand . . . well, OK, I guess I do. The Democrats have weird spells of ballessness, and this is one of them.

I'll try to keep on this one as it moves to the House floor. It's only a committee vote now, and I can't find the specifics on the bill anyplace, but this one really has to be killed. They might as well be out shooting babies. If anyone sees any hard information on it (like the bill number, that sort of thing) that I can include in a letter to my own Congresscritter so she knows what I'm talking about, feel free to leave it in the comments.

The Disposable Constitution, Part ?

A heads up from Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin on this post from Christian supremacist Stacy Harp:

The following is from Israel Today and may the USA follow in Israel’s footsteps.

Knesset approves ‘Gay Pride’ bills

Israel’s Knesset on Wednesday voted in favor of two bills that would severely curtail the homosexual community’s ability to flaunt their perverse lifestyle before the rest of the country.

The first bill would provide the Jerusalem City Council the authority to ban any public event that would offend public sensitivities in the holy city. Israel’s homosexual community has been trying for more than a year to hold a gay “pride” parade in the capital.

The second bill calls for banning mass homosexual public events anywhere in Israel.

"May the USA follow in Israel's footsteps." As Burroway so rightly points out, that would violate the First Amendment provision regarding the right of "the people peaceably to assemble."

But then, the woman's part of Bush's base. That means the Consitution is like toilet paper -- flush and forget.

(Yeah, I know I don't link to hate sites, but I decided to this time, just to remind everyone how repulsive viciousness and smallness can be, and how fundamentally anti-American people like this are.)

Who's Pandering to Whom?

Steve Benen at TPM pointed out an interesting article by Joel Achenbach that is probably interesting not for the reasons Achenbach wanted it to be. Decrying the candidates of both parties pandering to their bases, he has any number of specific examples from the Republican side, but this is what he comes up with for the Democrats:

On the Democratic side, the sneaking suspicion is that front-runner Hillary Clinton may be a neocon, as opposed to what the Republicans believe she is (Madame Mao reincarnate). John Edwards, who four years ago positioned himself as the "positive, upbeat" candidate, has transmogrified into a red-meat partisan, firmly camped to the left of the Bush-collaborating Clinton and Obama. And then there's Mike Gravel, a former senator from Alaska, who last week had some USDA Choice words for anyone who voted to give Bush authorization to go to war:

"We have killed more Americans than was done on the 11th of September," he said. "More Americans died because of their decision. That disqualifies them for president. It doesn't mean they're bad people. It just means that they don't have moral judgment."

Are we reaching a bit, to be fair and balanced? How about being honest? That would work for me.

Benen notes this:

During one campaign event not too long ago, a voter in Iowa noted the record budget deficits generated by Bush's fiscal recklessness and asked Edwards to respond. An easy one for red-meat politics, right? Wrong. Edwards said domestic programs, not deficit reduction, would be his top priority. He insisted that politicians should be "honest" about the "common sense in the math."

Hillary Clinton is routinely offered opportunities to denounce her 2002 vote on the Iraq war resolution. Under Achenbach's model, the senator would quickly pander, telling progressive audiences what they want to hear. She hasn't. Obama seems to reflexively reject pandering altogether. Said one constituent, "Obama tells you the hard truths, and other politicians, particularly from Chicago, they tend to tell you what they think you want to hear."

In light of the K Street story from yesterday (was it only yesterday? How time flies), it appears that, NYT and WaPo (not to mention Right Blogistan) notwithstanding, we're faced with choices between a group of candidates on the right who will say anything no matter how extreme to get past the primary, and a group of candidates on the left who are trying to focus on rational discussions of the issues (in spite of the press). In other words, it really starts to look as though the Republican party is composed of the intrinsically dishonest, while the Democrats are at least making an attempt at some sort of civilized standard. I mean, that's what I get from what I'm hearing and reading, and that's certainly what comes out of Achenbach's article. It just seems as though Achenbach can't bring himself to say it, so he runs this two-party hit piece with all the evidence drawn from one party.

Now that's responsible journalism, isn't it?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Democrats' Culture of What?

Interesting observation at Crooks and Liars about a Democratic Congress versus a Republican one, from a lobbyist's point of view:

“Republican lobbyists are used to walking into an office and just saying, ‘I’d like you to do this,’” said one Republican operative who regularly lobbies across the aisle. “With Democrats, you really have to hone your arguments, and you really have to sell them on policy.”

In Tom DeLay’s Congress, corporate lobbyists had it easy. Their clients had a wish list, and the GOP majority was anxious to deliver. Now these lobbyists are finding that when they ask the Democratic majority to do something, those darned liberals want reasons. They ask pesky questions, such as, “Why?”

Funny how Democrats are not as corrupt as the right tries to make out, isn't it?

"Fallen Soldier"

This would be, perhaps, affecting if he were talking about a real soldier. As it stands, it's a maudlin piece of special pleading for one of the few in this criminal administration who has actually been caught out.

This case has been, from the start, about the Iraq war and its legitimacy. Judge Walton came to it late; before him were laid bare the technical and narrowly legalistic matters of it. But you possess a greater knowledge of this case, a keen sense of the man caught up in this storm, and of the great contest and tensions that swirl around the Iraq war. To Scooter's detractors, and yours, it was the "sin" of that devoted public servant that he believed in the nobility of this war, that he did not trim his sails, and that he didn't duck when the war lost its luster.

Makes me want to puke.

Remember what I've been saying about the use of language to undercut reality. Libby's trial never was about the war. That's a crock. It's about endangering national security for partisan political gain, about lying to duly appointed investigators, about obstructing the investigation.

What happened is that Scooter Libby lied under oath about who outed a covert CIA agent and got caught.

It's sort of astonishing the people who are rallying to the cause, and it's not only the blogosphere who are noticing. Found this via TPM. From a footnote in Judge Walton's ruling allowing the presentation of an amicus brief in support of Libby.

It is an impressive show of public service when twelve prominent and distinguished current and former law professors of well-respected schools are able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several days to provide their legal expertise to the Court on behalf of a criminal defendant. The Court trusts that this is a reflection of these eminent academics' willingness in the future to step to the plate and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of our nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties, incarceration, or worse. The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it.

The list of those involved in this brief is impressive, if you're into wingnut lawyers. Robert Bork is only the tip of the iceberg. I saw the list somewhere and can't remember where offhand, but it should be in the brief, linked to in the post (pdf). I do remember that the names I recognized were all frothing conservatives.

Sandy Levinson has a cogent comment on this. I'm not sure if it falls under the heading of "unfortunate precedents" or simply "hypocrisy."

I suspect that whole lot of people thought that Clinton was "guilty" of something that "most people would, or should [not], think of as criminal." At that time, of course, I remember being treated to lots of lectures about the necessity to uphold the "rule of law" even against the highest official in the land, come what may. These were not in fact silly lectures. I have concluded, from the perspective of almost a decade later, that an honorable man would have resigned the presidency rather than forced his supporters to engage in the kind of legal casuistry that we were exposed to.

It's interesting how principle dissolves when it gets down to particulars. (That is not a judgment, merely an observation.)

I'm Not Making This Up

This is the degree of ignorance and stupidity in the Pentagon. And it's being reported as straight news (if you'll pardon the expression). I honestly didn't believe it at first:

The documents show the Air Force lab asked for $7.5 million to develop such a chemical weapon.

"The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soliders to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistably attractive to one another," Hammond said after reviwing [sic] the documents.

Wonder what James Dobson thinks of that.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

On Growth and Change

I began this incarnation of Hunter at Random in late December of 2005 -- about the 21st I think. In about the first year (i.e., end of December 2006) we logged 6000 hits.

It is now early/mid-June, and we're almost at another 5000 hits.

Increments. It's all about increments.

Thank you, everyone.

More on Language

The idea of rhetoric in a post-reality world, by Mark Danner.

Here, in Suskind’s recounting, is what that “unnamed Administration official” told him:

“The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…. and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’”

I must admit to you that I love that quotation; indeed, with your permission, I would like hereby to nominate it for inscription over the door of the Rhetoric Department, akin to Dante’s welcome above the gates of Hell, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

It's long, and really, really scary.

Out of Patience

Please forgive the snark. I've really been trying to be judicious and reasoned here. It's just one of those days. I'm over engaging in reasoned critiques of the conceptually challenged, particularly when they don't really give a damn what the truth is.

I don't even want to get into the opening of the Creation Museum.

Field Day

Sadly, No! seems to know all the best rocks to turn over. This is almost as good as the next one. From Andrew Ferguson at the Weekly Standard (and that alone should tell you something):

One reason AEI stands as the capital’s premier research organization is that it alone would think to assemble a quartet of intelligent and accomplished people to debate the implications of Darwinism for political thought and public policy. Specifically, the panel’s title was “Darwinism and Conservatism: Friends or Foes?”

Y'know, that's come up before -- in fact, it was a bunch of racist conservatives -- oh, well, all right, then.

Here's the line-up:

Its moderator was Steven Hayward, the biographer of Ronald Reagan, and in the quartet he conducted were Larry Arnhart, a political scientist from Northern Illinois University; John Derbyshire, an author and a blogger for National Review Online; John West, a political scientist formerly of Seattle Pacific University and now of the Discovery Institute; and his colleague at Discovery, George Gilder, the legendary author of Wealth and Poverty, Microcosm, The Spirit of Enterprise, and Life After Television. (Gilder is routinely and correctly called a visionary, partly because he’s the only man on earth who can imagine life without television.)

Larry Arnhart is the one I commented on here, who left a comment whining because I obviously hadn't read any of his books. With that as an example, why should I? It's not like I don't have enough to read, and I'm really over subjecting myself to limp science and flaccid philosophy. (Although if he wants to send me review copies, I'll be happy to review them wherever I think they'll get the widest possible exposure.)

As for the "visionary" George Gilder, I live life without television. That must make me the Messiah.

I do have to say, though, that our favorite patrician racist (see below), John Derbyshire, did say something intelligent:

in his remarks, Derbyshire objected that such questions, which were after all the point of the panel he had traveled to Washington to be on, were nonetheless pointless. “Conservatism and Darwinism are orthogonal,” he said. “Neither one implies the other.”

He was obviously the most intelligent person on the panel. Of course, it's all relative.


Idiot of the Day

From American Daughter, a really funny screed:

In fact, though, if one examines these positions carefully, one can detect a basic, underlying theme, which changes the benevolent image of the left in a dramatic way. Unionism is, basically, anti-Capitalist.

Point of information -- democracy is anti-capitalist. (Sorry, no initial caps from me for that one.) Capitalism, as we can see from every Republican administration ever, is the natural economic arm of oligarchy.

It goes downhill from there. Apparently, the American left now includes Maxim Gorky, George Bernard Shaw, The Guardian, The Independent, and a supporting cast of several -- Europeans.

Apparently, our brave ruling oligarchy is the last bastion of freedom -- you know, those basic rights like habeas corpus and a free, adversarial press, and all.

The guy keeps seeing patterns -- in the clouds, I guess, because he offers no supporting evidence for anything he says.

I needed a good chuckle.

Thanks once again to Sadly, No!

I Am So Tired of This

I'm too tired for outrage this morning. Read this post at Box Turtle Bulletin and generate some yourself. Write a letter or something.

I really wonder why someone with a national voice doesn't take these blowhards on. They are probably the most dangerous people in America -- or out of it, for that matter.

I Love Activist Judges

I've seen this story a couple of places. I want this judge on the Supreme Court. Arrange it for me, will you?


Gen. Peter Pace is not going to be remaining as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Here's some commentary from Pam's House Blend, wondering if it was the "gays are immoral" remarks that did it. From SLDN:

“Congressional leaders, in warning Secretary of Defense Gates that Pace’s remarks would be an obstacle to his confirmation, have sent a clear message that anti-gay prejudice has no place in public policy debates,” said Sharra E. Greer, director of law and policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).

Frankly, at most that would contribute to a bruising confirmation hearing, which is the stated reason for not renominating Pace. And, all things considered, I think it's a minor factor -- the war is the problem, and Pace has been involved in that disaster up to his cojones.

There's also the demonstrable record of the administration not really giving a damn what Congress thinks. Maybe it's Gates' input on this one: I think it's more Gates wanting to clean house and Pace having given him a pretty big broom.

As for Pace's "immoral" remarks being "the cause," in this presidency that's more likely to get him a medal.

And, from the quotes in Spaulding's post, I'd say Mullen is a much better politician -- smoother, less likely to stick sideways in your throat -- than Pace.

Friday, June 08, 2007

John Derbyshire's Racist Credentials

I sort of had the idea that he's arrogant and provincial, but I didn't think he was stupid to boot. If anyone has any doubts about the incipient racism of the conservatives in this country, read this.

But then, my experience of Brits is that they tend to be full of themselves. Comes from growing up on an island, I think -- everyone from farther away than the next village is a "foreigner."

(Footnote: If family history is anywhere near correct, I have the comfort of at least part of my family arriving when there really were no other people here.)

Balkin on Constitutional Erosion

Jack Balkin with some thoughts on the Bush Administration and the Constitution

What does this have to do with the proper interpretation of the Constitution? Actually, more than you think. If President Bush had handled the Iraq war better, and had brought it to a successful conclusion, his supporters would have forgiven him a lot in terms of his policies on detention and interrogation, his euphemisms about torture, his abuse of Presidential signing statements, his illegal program of domestic surveillance, his suspension of habeas corpus, and what now appears to be his misuse of the Justice department for partisan ends.

Win the war in Iraq and the Republicans probably keep control of Congress; the Democrats are cowed; Congressional oversight remains toothless (as it was during the years of Republican control); and the press increasingly lauds Bush and everything he did to keep us safe. The dominant story in the press and the public would no doubt be that Bush had to break a few eggs to make a successful omelet, and that, after all, the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Bush would be viewed as an aggressive but successful President, an example of how determination and self-confidence through trials and tribulations lead to ultimate vindication in history. (Indeed, this is still Bush's view of himself; it is simply no longer the view of most of the public).

If the Iraq war had not turned into a disaster, any critics of Bush's perversion of the Constitution would probably be dismissed as they were during the period from 2001 to 2004-- as "nabbering nattering nabobs of negativism," to use Spiro Agnew's famous phrase. People like Levinson and myself, who were calling attention to the dangers of this Presidency in the early days after 9-11, would be regarded as deranged bitter enders, a bit like Justice Curtis ranting on about how "nobody cares" about the legality of the Emancipation Proclamation. Nobody would care about the intelligence failures leading up to the war, about the yellow cake debacle, about Gitmo, about Abu Ghraib, about Jose Padilla, about domestic surveillance, about any of it. After all, we won the war, didn't we? Isn't that all that matters?

He is, I'm afraid, all too correct in this. That is, I think, the worst perversion of the American system, the idea that the Constitution is bendable as long as we win. (Why does the phrase "business ethics" keep running through my mind?)

Balkin goes on to bring up a point I've made before, many times:

The next President will surely castigate and distance him or herself from parts of what George W. Bush and his Adminstration did. That will be partly how he or she gets elected. The more interesting question to consider in the years to come will be what parts of Bush's innovations the next President will quietly continue.

And just to open your eyes a little to the cesspool we're headed for as a country, read this post from Andrew Sullivan.

Some days outrage just isn't enough.

The Upside

to losing my bookmarks is that I get to check out some new blogs. It's easy not to do that if you've already got a full reading list, and some of the old ones were getting stale.

A glass-half-full moment.

Habeas Corpus

Some interesting things about this story from The Nation.

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee passed an important bill to restore habeas corpus, the sacrosanct Constitutional right to challenge government detention in court, by a vote of eleven to eight.

I'd like to know why eight committee members voted against restoring habeas corpus, first of all. What possible rationale is there for that? Of course, I also want to know who they are -- that would probably anser the first question, or a big part of it.

Remember this name:

Senator Chris Dodd, the most aggressive defender of the Constitution in the presidential race, is pushing legislation that would not only restore habeas, but also ban the use of evidence obtained through torture and recommit the U.S. to the Geneva Conventions. "We must recognize that our security is enhanced by upholding our nation's historic legal principles as we vigorously pursue terrorists," he said in a statement today. Dodd is giving a major address about his proposal at the Cardozo School of Law Commencement exercises in New York on Thursday, part of a larger effort to prioritize Constitutional rights on the national agenda – and in the presidential campaign. The Dodd Campaign has gathered over 10,000 "citizen cosponsors" for his bill, the Restoring the Constitution Act, while using YouTube, blog and netroots outreach to rally more support.

Dodd is starting to look better and better.

Obama, Clinton and Biden, the other Senators in the presidential race, have cosponsored the habeas legislation but not Dodd's bill, which currently has eleven cosponsors. The legislation faces an uphill battle in the Armed Services Committee, a much less hospitable venue for Constitutional rights than the Judiciary Committee. But there is one influential Armed Services member who opposed the Military Commissions Act and could jump start the effort to restore Constitutional rights: Hillary Clinton.

Offhand, I'd say don't hold your breath. Clinton, like the rest of the major Democratic candidates, is still running scared of the 28% of the Republican party who would never vote for her anyway, which is something I don't understand but which, I guess, is the essence of inside-the-Beltway wisdom. No wonder the country's such a mess.

Speaking of the 28%, this comment is choice:

Sure seems like the Dems, along with some RINOs, are hell bent on treating "enemy combatants" as if they are Constitutionally protected! Damn, the Dems are `Tough on Terror'!

Posted by "Happy." Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

There are, as it happens, comments following this post that are simply stupefying in their level of ignorance and lack of anything resembling rational thought processes. They're even too stupid to be funny. This one's merely the introduction.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Oh. My. God.

From the delightful PZ MYers, anogther post on Republicans and evolution. Since I tend to equate "belief" in evolution with a willingness to trust empirical evidence and rational conjecture, you can imagine what I think of the Republican candidates jumping on the "I don't believe" bandwagon. The quotes are priceless. My favorite is from the comments:

Huckabee later added, "If anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it."

Uh, Mike? We are primates.

Do you really want any of these screwballs running the country?

Get A Life

Now this is pathetic:

As his sixth birthday approached, Morgan Smith's parents thought hoisting the Jolly Roger would be the perfect way to make the pirate-mad youngster's day.

The flag was duly run up the pole in the back garden, leaving Morgan looking forward to a party on Saturday with lots of friends wearing eyepatches and wielding toy cutlasses.

But little did the family know that out on the treacherous high seas of bureaucracy, trouble was heading their way.

Council officials branded the skull and crossbones flag "unneighbourly" and banned Morgan's parents Richard and Sharon from flying it.

Yep -- you guessed it -- some busybody neighbor.

I'd say it can't happen here, but it does, regularly.


How does a Navy like this expect to win a war?

From Stars and Stripes:

A sailor who publicly outed himself as a homosexual has once again been discharged by the Navy, but has once again been given a recall status that could allow him to return to active duty.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Knight had served as an openly gay man during a yearlong Individual Ready Reserve tour in Kuwait.

In early May, Stars and Stripes wrote an article about Knight, igniting a media firestorm. In short order, the Navy said it would discharge Knight under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and bar him from re-entering service.

However, in the latest twist, Knight’s new discharge papers — like his previous discharge papers — do not mention homosexual conduct as the reason for his dismissal. Instead, they cite “completion of required active service.” And they list his recall code as RE-1, with a reserve obligation ending in April 2009.

This is a joke:

“Had the leadership been presented with credible information about homosexual conduct, they would have processed Petty Officer Knight out of the military,” Navy spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Davis said in May. “The first his leadership heard of Petty Officer Knight’s homosexuality was through press reports.”

"Credible information" seems to include rumors, anonymous phone calls and e-mails, and hearsay, but not press reports or interviews.

They really should put gays in charge of the military. It would be better organized.

Where Does He Find These People?

Jim Burroway has more on Dr. John Holsinger, the wingnut nominee for attorney general. A scientist in the tradition of Paul Cameron.

There's more from Pam's House Blend.

The Dicreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Via Andrew Sullivan, this post at A Stitch In Haste. Sullivan is, as usual, drooling over the libertarian aspects of this, which just reinforces my feeling that libertarians are basically shallow thinkers.

In regard to the discrimination case mentioned, in which the Supremes said, basically, "tough luck -- your time is up," it's even worse:

Agree or disagree all you want with the Supreme Court's recent holding in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire regarding when the statute of limitations for pay discrimination claims should commence. The fundamental jurisprudential premise remains: It is up to the plaintiff to prove her case. The government has no business conscripting innocent bystanders and their private matters in order to prove it for her.

Mmm -- unless you know how much others are making, how are you supposed to know you're being discriminated against? In the immortal words of Bill O'Reilly, it's all about saving the "white Christian male power structure," which one of the commenters points out quite bluntly.

Once it comes in contact with reality, the post is pretty much indefensible, although I will say I'm not at all sympathetic to the idea of everyone's salaries being public. I'm very much in favor of a broadly interpreted right to privacy, and wouldn't be at all enthusiastic about this kind of information becoming public domain, if for no other reason than there are too many people willing to make underhanded use of it. KipEsquire's ideas might work if everyone were committed to playing fair, but we know better. Naive, much?

PS -- Don't ask what the title means. I can't explain it, but it seemed more than ordinarily apt.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


That's "Total System Crash." Didn't even get as far as a blue screen. Recovery time: 6 hours to date, with some software and those files I managed to save yet to be reinstalled.

Of course, lost my bookmarks, address book, all that sort of stuff.

Since this is a combined effort of Microsoft and Dell, this should be no surprise.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Jack Balkin ties it all together.

Sample Campaign Speech, Romney Style

This is probably the bitchiest I've ever seen Andrew Sullivan.

"Fabulous. America. Faith. Faith. Faith. America. God. Faith. Gosh. God. Fabulous. America. Great. America. Strong. Strong. Faith. Strong. Family. God. Faith. America. Strong. Fabulous. Tagg!"

Well, yes. That sounds about right.

On The Uses of Bias

Bush now wants to follow up his ludicrous nomination of an anti-woman head of women's health issues for HHA with an equally ludicrous nomination of a faith-based Surgeon General.

Here's a report from Sportin' Life at Pam's House Blend:

[David] Calhoun, a United Methodist pastor, noted that Holsinger and his wife, Barbara, were members of Lexington's First United Methodist Church, which asked them to set out and start a new congregation.

They founded Hope Springs Community Church in a warehouse at 1109 Versailles Road. Calhoun called it a socially diverse congregation with a "very vital recovery ministry." It serves the homeless and those with addictions to drugs, alcohol and sex; and it has a Spanish-language Hispanic congregation with its own pastor.

"It's built around compassion for people who struggle with a lot of issues," he said.

Hope Springs also ministers to people who no longer wish to be gay or lesbian, Calhoun said.

"We see that as an issue not of orientation but of lifestyle," he said. "We have people who seek to walk out of that lifestyle."

Say what you want about freedom of religion, but I want some contact with reality in the Surgeon General's office. I don't care that a bunch of loons think gay is a "lifestyle" (and you've read exactly what I think of that particular semantic nullity). This whole idea that opinion takes equal footing with fact is getting a little out of hand. As I've said before, your beliefs may make you a bigot. That doesn't mean being a bigot is OK.

For more on this whole idea, see the next post.


Another one of those words. Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin has an excellent post on the ex-gay movement and how they create their own language while passing it off as one that the rest of us speak.

It's no big news, the way language shapes thought. George Orwell wasn't making it up, you know, and it's become a staple of right-wing strategy at least since the days of Newt Gingrich, the most unpopular politician in America (although he may have lost that title to the president). Look, it's something that the advertising industry has known from day one.

One of the most obvious ways that the right manipulates language is the use of the word "theory" in creationist propaganda. It trades on the multiple definitions of the word, taking a specialized and quite clear definition and trading it off to the at-large, nonspecialized, fuzzier definition without comment or clarification, leading to vast confusion, which is part of the intent.

Also, the term "lifestyle," used with "homosexual" as a description of something that doesn't exist except for a minority of bois who've never managed to grow up, but now a term that can show up in a Gallup poll as denoting a whole (and very complex) subculture based on sexual orientation. (Actually, a couple of subcultures -- it's meant to include lesbians as well, who have their own cultural norms.) Tell me, would you give any credibility to anyone who went around talking about the "African-American lifestyle" or the "Roman Catholic lifestyle" -- or the "far-right Christianist lifestyle"? I thought not.

This is not to let the left off the hook. The very fact that I can refer to "African-American" is an indication of how pervasively the politically correct left has done its work, in some examples to the point of what I can only call "the commonsensically challenged." (If I see one more story about a controversy erupting because "someone might be offended," I think I will probably hemorrage.) I will say, however, that in terms of naming groups, the left at least has enough respect for the various groups that compose our larger culture that they are willing to use terms that originate within those groups, unlike the Christianists, who use "homosexual" instead of "gay" because they are arrogant enough to insist that we are as we are because of a decision we made -- it's a "lifestyle," not an orientation. (And, of course, this only demonstrates that our opinions and feelings don't matter. Nor, for that matter, does objective reality -- note the comment in the post above about "we think of it as a lifestyle." I guess that settles the matter. I'd be interested to hear how some of them refer to Blacks or Latinos in private, given the overt racism of the fringes.) This comes out of one side of their mouths while out of the other side we hear that "everyone is made in God's image and deserves respect for being a product of the Creator." When we're not "intrinsically disordered," that is.

It gets worse, and it's now -- or really, has been for a while -- part of acceptable public discourse. See this little bit of revisionism by the conservatives' great white hope, Fred Thompson. It's very well done. It's also so completely slanted that I can't even find an opening. Basically, he's taking on the activist judges because he wants judges who are going to legislate from the bench the way he thinks they should. With a section on poor abused Scooter Libby and what a rotten person Patrick Fitzgerald is. This is simply manipulating language in the service of a political goal, which is what we see in the ex-gay example and my own examples above. Essentially, one long fallacious argument presented as "normal" discourse by doing a bait-and-switch with meanings.

(Note the Update on my post about Sam Brownback and Evolution, below: As Jack Balkin points out so succinctly, Brownback is doing the same thing.)

Enforcing the Rules

Saw the beginning of this story yesterday. This is a crock:

Col. Dave Lapan, a Marine Corps spokesman, said Kokesh is under administrative review because he wore his uniform at a political event, which is prohibited. And, Lapan said, when a senior officer told Kokesh that he violated military regulations, Kokesh used an obscenity and indicated he would not comply with the rules.

"It's the political activity that is prohibited, not the type of event that it was," Lapan said. "If it had been a pro-war rally, it would still have been a violation."

I am reminded of two news stories in the past couple of years on this issue: Lt. Gen. William Boykin wearing his uniform while speaking to a group of God-freaks ("My God was bigger than his god"), and military personnel in uniform (including, I think, a Marine or two, but I don't remember it that clearly) at a political rally for Marilyn Musgrave.

Now, someone's going to trot out the theme that these are different branches of the service (Boykin is Army) and that the Marines have a different attitude about this sort fo thing. Frankly, I don't believe it. Adam Kokesh had taken the military insignia off his fatigues -- do you have any idea how many people are walking around in fatigues these days? You can get them at Sears, for crying out loud, not to mention any Arny/Navy surplus store. The Marines appear to be doing exactly what their critics are saying -- trying to punish people for protesting the war.

I'm not done with this yet, but I have to run right now. Later.

Live Journal

There are too many ways to spend too much time on the Internet. Yes, I've now got a Live Journal (there's a link over there under "Places You'll Find Me"). I have no idea what I'm going to do there, but we'll see.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Walk in the Park

I'm tired and my brain hurts.

Joke of the Week: Brownback on Evolution

Senator Sam Brownback (or his speechwriter) came up with a choice OpEd in the NYT today on the evolution question:

The premise behind the question seems to be that if one does not unhesitatingly assert belief in evolution, then one must necessarily believe that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days. But limiting this question to a stark choice between evolution and creationism does a disservice to the complexity of the interaction between science, faith and reason.

The problem with this is that the false dichotomy was created by the creationist/IDers. Of course, Brownback isn't going to take responsibility for that because . . . well, just because. It's also a fairly stupid question: "Do you believe in evolution?" equates to "Do you accept the results of rational inquiry based on objective evidence?" It's sort of indicative that Brownback says not.

He sounds good for the next couple of paragraphs, and then falls flat on his fundmentalism. See Tristero's comments at Hullabaloo for the whole question of scientific materialism and what it means. And also note that, after calling the false dichotomy, Brownback goes on to do his best to obfuscate the issue, using the tried and true Christianist tactic of slipping between multiple meanings of a term without distinguishing them.

It goes steadily downhill from there. In fact, it winds up with a call to put science and reason under the thumb of received superstition. (The inevitable PZ Myers takes him apart quite nicely.) I'm not by any means an atheist, but demagogues like Brownback could easily turn me into one.

Since there was a snowball's chance in hell that I would have voted for Brownback anyway (the essential hypocrisy of a statement such as "I firmly believe that each human person, regardless of circumstance, was willed into being and made for a purpose" coupled with Brownback's hostility to equal rights for gays is enough on that score), my evaluation is probably beside the point. However, I see two possibilities in this screed: either Brownback is mendacious, which is not beyond the bounds of possibiity, or he's stupid.

Neither one qualifies him to be president, in my book.


Jack Balkin does very tidy dissection, and comes down on the mendacious side of the conclusion. He's much more polite than I am about it, though.