"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, July 31, 2011

The End of Civilization

I like this post from Joe Jervis about the weddings in Central Park. This was especially nice:

As informal a day as this was, I was especially struck by how respectful passersby became once they grokked what was going down. Throngs of tourists lined the barricades at all times, quieting down when the chapels were active, then erupting in cheers when they could see that each ceremony was complete. It was a beautiful thing to witness.

OK, Maggie -- I think the people are voting.

(Joe has scads of pictures.)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I have nothing to say

That's it. Tapped out. I'm tired of the travesty of governance that is Washington, D.C. I'm tired of more reports that the Republicans -- especially their extreme wing, the ones who want their "Constitutional freedoms" -- have no respect for the Constitution. I'm tired of Michele Bachmann, who is a complete nonentity, or would be if she weren't crazy and hateful.

Call me when there's something in the news that's based on reality.

Friday, July 29, 2011


I forget who said that the difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives operate on ideology and liberals operate on results, but they may have been wrong in one regard: it would appear that conservatives can't conceive of anything outside their ideology, and liberals can't get their shit together.

This is not good news:

The country’s gross domestic product, a broad measure of the goods and services produced across the economy, grew at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the second quarter, after having grown at an annual rate of 0.4 percent in the first quarter — a number that itself was revised sharply down from earlier estimates of 1.9 percent . Both figures were well below economists’ expectations.

Data revisions going back to 2003 also showed that the 2007-2009 recession was deeper, and the recovery to date weaker, than originally estimated. Indeed, the latest figures show that the nation’s economy is still smaller than it was in 2007, when the Great Recession officially began.

So basically, while Obama and Boehner have been playing charades over the national debt, the economy is going down the toilet. Make no mistake: I am not going to play false equivalents here. This is the Republicans' fault. It was their recession, it is their dismal recovery, it is their ideology -- and childishness -- that is screwing the rest of us. The most that can be said for Democrats is that they're accomplices, some willing, some not.

“There’s nothing that you can look at here that is signaling some revival in growth in the second half of the year, and in fact we may see another catastrophically weak quarter next quarter if things go wrong next week,” said Nigel Gault, chief United States economist at IHS Global Insight. By “things going wrong,” he said he means “if Congress actually starts implementing a massive contraction by suddenly cutting government spending immediately,” as many Republican representatives hope to do.

Get this right: the discussion in Washington is not about how to fix the economy and get it humming again, it's about how badly to trash it. I'm no genius in economics, but even I can see that if we have really high long-term unemployment and people have no money to spend to keep the economy moving (and let me remind everyone that it's consumer spending the drives this economy -- and that does not include Jamie Dimon buying another Lamborghini), the answer is not to throw more people out of work by cutting government programs. You need to spend money to create jobs, and the private sector is sitting tight.

The idiots in Washington don't get it. They're not even asking the right questions -- and I suspect that's deliberate.


Just ran across this tweet from Peter Daou, which seems to sum it up pretty succinctly:


So, two parties are bickering over opposing plans to sink the country into recession and if they can't pick one, they'll torpedo the economy

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Loser's Parade

And there are a lot of them after the passage of the marriage equality law in New York.

First, of course, is the misnamed NOM, which is nothing but losers at this point. From Pam's House Blend, a run-down on their "strategy" to repeal the act:

From NOM's blog:

Elect pro-marriage majorities next November that will approve a marriage amendment in both the Assembly and Senate during the 2013 legislative session.

Protect pro-marriage candidates in the 2014 elections, so that the amendment can receive final legislative approval in the 2015 legislative session.

Successfully pass the ballot measure when it goes before voters in November 2015.

A 4-year process seems like a long time-and it is-but it's achievable.

(I seem to remember that they tried that in Massachusetts. Where same-sex marriage is still the law.)

Oh, and about NOM's record in electing hate-friendly candidates, Jeremy Hooper has some examples from recent history.

And from Hooper again, the doyenne of doing nothing that really supports marriage herself, outlining the plan and repeating again her call to "let the people vote" -- which is actually, when you stop to think about it, a violation of the federal Constitution.

Scott Wooledge at Daily Kos reports on the first lawsuit filed to overturn the law:

. . . Rev. Jason J. McGuire, Executive Director, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said, “Constitutional liberties were violated. Today we are asking the court to intervene in its rightful role as the check and balance on an out-of-control State Legislature.” From their website, the suit aledges:

meetings that violated New York State Open Meetings Laws.

the suspension of normal Senate voting procedures to prevent Senators who opposed the bill from speaking.

failure to follow Senate procedures that require that a bill must be sent to appropriate committees prior to being placed before the full Senate for a vote.

unprecedented Senate lock-outs by which lobbyists and the public were denied access to elected representatives.

the Governor’s violation of the constitutionally mandated three-day review period before the Legislature votes on a bill by unjustifiably issuing a message of necessity.

promises (which were fulfilled) by high-profile elected officials and Wall Street financiers to make large campaign contributions to Republican senators who switched their vote from opposing to supporting the Marriage Equality Act.

The governor's spokesman had a succinct comment: the suit is without merit and "[t]he plaintiffs lack a basic understanding of the laws of the state of New York."

Jim Burroway has a profile of the Liberty Counsel's attorney on the case, Rena Lindevaldsen. Let's just say that integrity is not her middle name. Read it -- it's astonishing that someone like that is allowed to practice law. And considering her participation, I'm not at all surprised that the plaintiffs don't understand New York law -- they have trouble wrapping their heads around the concept of rule by law to begin with. And it wouldn't be complete without a quote from Mat Staver, also of Liberty Counsel, who is just as ethical as Lindevaldsen. Quote kindly provided by Joe Jervis.

Also threatening to sue is the Rev. Sen. Ruben "I am the Church and the State" Diaz, who's going to have all those marriages -- performed under New York state law -- annulled.

I think this sort of sums up the degree of success all these snake-oil salesmen are going to have:

I'm surprised we haven't heard from Tony Perkins and Peter LaBarbera yet. I'm sure they're sweating over something suitably vicious.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I would be remiss (Updated)

if I didn't note that today is the first day that marriage equality has become the law in New York. Here's a sweet story about a photo that has become emblematic of the struggle for marriage equality:

The image is of my friend Joey and his partner Ariel after they wed in San Francisco in 2008.

Three years later, the image of Joey and Ariel remains and serves as a visual tool to normalize same-sex marriage. In fact, over Gay Pride weekend in New York City, the Levis store in Chelsea offered their interpretation of the photo for their window display after the gay marriage bill passed. . . .

I asked Joey how he felt about the fact that he and Ariel have become famous without intending to.

"My dream is that one day our kids will come home from school and show us the picture in their textbooks."

There are reports all over the gay blogosphere, and The New York Times already has a story up, which includes a really stupid quote from Larry Kramer.

And David Badash has a short piece on the first marriage in New York, with video.


Jeremy Hooper has a run-down on the protests -- all the usual losers, with Maggie Gallagher and the Phelps clan sharing a block -- but this is the photo of the day:

It's a straight couple who brought their twin daughters to be flower girls for anyone who needed them. From Joe.My.God..

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Today's Must Read

Glenn Greenwald on the response by the commentariat to the Oslo attacks.

Being, as he is, a real journalist, Greenwald provides numerous links to his sources and reasoned analysis of the reactions. He comes down especially hard on The New York Times for its too rapid condemnation of "Muslim terrorists" and its blatantly self-serving attempts to save face with it turned out the attacker was a white, anti-Muslim fundamentalist Christian. As Greenwald notes:

Despite that, The New York Times is still working hard to pin some form of blame, even ultimate blame, on Muslim radicals (h/t sysprog):

Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out Islamic terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking Al Qaeda's brutality and multiple attacks.
"If it does turn out to be someone with more political motivations, it shows these groups are learning from what they see from Al Qaeda," said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism researcher at the New America Foundation in Washington.
Al Qaeda is always to blame, even when it isn't, even when it's allegedly the work of a Nordic, Muslim-hating, right-wing European nationalist.  Of course, before Al Qaeda, nobody ever thought to detonate bombs in government buildings or go on indiscriminate, politically motivated shooting rampages.  The NYT speculates that amonium nitrate fertilizer may have been used to make the bomb because the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, owned a farming-related business and thus could have access to that material; of course nobody would have ever thought of using that substance to make a massive bomb had it not been for Al Qaeda.  So all this proves once again what a menacing threat radical Islam is.

He also notes the atrocity penned by Jennifer Rubin at WaPo, which still has not been taken down or corrected. The comments there are uniformly condemnatory, with good reason -- it's one of Rubin's usual fact-free, reason-free screeds, this time in the service of more money for defense. The fact that the American defense establishment has been notably unsuccessful in rooting out any kind of terrorism doesn't seem to penetrate.

I'm Going to Rain on the Parade

OK -- the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have all signed off on DADT repeal. However:

Pentagon officials said they would be looking in the next two months at “gray areas” that might allow them to extend some benefits to same-sex married couples in the military. But under current law, particularly the Defense of Marriage Act, the Pentagon is prohibited from giving federally financed benefits to those couples.

Those benefits include base housing, health insurance, certain death benefits, legal counseling and access to base commissaries and other stores.

That's just the tip of the iceberg: there is no non-discrimination language included in the repeal bill, and there seems to have been little to no effort to rectify the situation.

This post by Joe Sudbay has a quote from Aubrey Sarvis of SLDN that points this out:

Sarvis warned that the repeal of DADT is just one important milestone along the journey to achieving LGB equality in America’s military, and he renewed the organization’s call for the President to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Such an order would give LGBT service members recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing discrimination or harassment.

Here's the full statement from SLDN.

There are enough anti-gay commanders in the military that this is a real issue, and, as much as I hate to say it, I honestly don't believe Obama will make any real effort to rectify it. I just have no confidence that the man is going to finish the job -- it's another half-done deal, and he seems to be perfectly happy with those.

Lots of people are handing out laurels for this, but it's interesting that none of the gay commentators I've read have mentioned Obama. The credit is going instead to SLDN, Servicemembers United, and Log Cabin Republicans, who have been fighting a successful lawsuit against the law. Oh, and Jim Burroway gives due credit to Elaine Donnelley, who has done as much for DADT repeal as Maggie Gallagher has done for marriage equality.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This Is the Way to Do It

Al Franken dissects Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family at the Senate DOMA hearings:

Actually, that should read "flays him alive."

I wish he were my senator.

And watch Minnery squirm under questioning by Sen. Patrick Leahy:

Jim Burroway has transcripts at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lessons From Albany Come Home to D.C.

Maybe Obama took the hint:

I've said it other places, but I'm going to repeat it here: Obama is all about process, not so much about results. As to whether he's going to strong-arm anyone on this, I doubt it. He's done the bare minimum, and I suspect he thinks that's enough. I'd be delighted to be proven wrong, but I don't see him facing off against the Republicans in the House about gay civil rights.

It's a good first step, though.

I can hardly wait for the wailing from the right.

Heat Wave

Nobody feels like moving.

I've been commenting at other blogs rather than posting here. Had a fairly good weekend as far as getting caught up, but no energy left over to blog.

I'll be back. I always am.

One note: saw a perfect spider web this morning, early, but the dumb spider had placed it right at the foot of the stairs leading to the back garden -- anchored on one end to a tree branch, the other to a paver. Major engineering feat, but ephemeral, even for a spider web. It's gone now.

I suppose the little bugger will start over -- hopefully in a better location.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reviews in Brief: Souya Himawari's Right Here, Right Now

Souya Himawari's Right Here, Right Now is the beginning of another one of those series that looks as though it's going to develop nicely, but it's too soon to tell for sure.

Mizuo Yanase is your typical high-school boy, although rather small, and not real interested in going to his tea ceremony lessons. One of his favorite hideouts is an abandoned temple. He stops by one day after not having been there for a while and parks himself on the site of the vanished altar, where the Buddha statue used to sit. He suddenly hears chanting and finds himself in the temple five hundred years ago, surrounded by monks, who immediately take him for an avatar of the Buddha. It's not long before he comes to the attention of sixteen-year-old Takakage Fujima, the heir of the Fujima lands, presently locked in a struggle for survival against the neighboring Kitagawa clan. Takakage is happy to carry the living Buddha into battle as an encouragement to his men. Takakage also has a more immediate interest in Mizuo.

I was a little disappointed in this one. Himawari's given it a light-hearted treatment, which tends to undercut the dramatic scenes substantially. Sadly, there is potential for strong dramatic conflict that's not developed -- at least, not yet: the situation, which includes a couple of trips for Mizuo back and forth through time, could develop some nice twists.

The drawing reflects this: it's pleasant enough, all the characters are appealing, but no more than that. Even though Takakage ages six years in the course of the story, he doesn't really look all that more mature, and certainly not hard-bitten enough to have earned the sobriqet "Demon." The visual narrative is sort of shoujo standard, loose but not particularly adventurous.

I may follow up on volume two, but given the lightness of this first part, it's not going to be high on my list.

From Juné.

A Short History of Christian Rock

Given my recent fondness for Red and my fascination with the whole idea of "Christian metal," it's no surprise that I found this an interesting read.

On one of those gray afternoons I saw Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video. In a smoky warehouse, the band and a team of tattooed cheerleaders performed for bleachers full of kids. As the song progresses, the scene dissolves into anarchy: the students jump off the bleachers, strip off their clothes, destroy the band’s equipment, and light the entire set on fire. I watched this perched on the edge of my bed, about three feet from the TV screen, while Sheena was taking a nap. I didn’t catch any of the lyrics, but I was mesmerized by Kurt Cobain stumbling around the set, squinting into the light, barely suppressing a sneer. I couldn’t have told you what the word “irony” meant, but I knew I’d been cheated by Christian rock. This was crack, and I’d been wasting my time sniffing glue.

It's interesting because the writer pinpoints a couple of things that have been in the back of my mind about the whole phenomenon of Christian rock. Red is my sole example, and their music, while strong, is not weighty enough to make me go haring off after other examples of the genre.

Another point, which I've mentioned somewhere or other, is that the message is ambiguous enough that it moves between contexts fairly easily. I don't immediately think in terms of Jesus when I'm listening to music, and not being beaten over the head with it does make the music more palatable.

And regarding context, I stumbled across a site that helps with that, Jesus Freak Hideout, which has reviews of Christian rock from a Christian point of view.

The article is kind of lengthy, but it's worth a read, particularly as it relates to why the churches are losing youth.

Friday, July 15, 2011

You Have to Wonder, Part ?

The Obama DoJ, true to form, has asked the Ninth Circuit to reinstate the stay on the worldwide injunction against enforcement of DADT. Do you suppose it's going to take the Pentagon another ten months to figure out if they want to appeal?

My take on this is that it's entirely possible that Obama does not want a judicial resolution to DADT. First, he's real big on process, like the other kabuki dancers in Washington. And if there's a definitive finding that DADT is unconstitutional, that means it's a closed book -- Congress cannot reinstate it, nor can it be reinstated by executive order. Want to bet someone doesn't like that kind of limitation on his power?

And I have to wonder what part the Joint Chiefs are playing in this. I'm not really convinced that the officer corps of our military, notorious for its overt Christianism, it really happy with repeal.

Here's a comment from Adam Serwer that brings up a point I had forgotten: Obama promised Congress that the military would be in control of the process. Aside from the essential wrongness of that idea (um, hello? Civilian control of the military? Hello?), it's apparent that Obama is a real process junkie. He's convinced (publicly at least) that legislative repeal is the best option. I'm not so much, but it appears he's committed himself to that.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Congressional Republicans are there, and it's going to be interesting to see which they're more afraid of: their teabagger base or the plutocrats who own them. Interesting read from Steve Benen.

Backlash from the Left

I've seen a few articles, op-eds, and comment threads about the NY marriage victory that I can only typify as "backlash from the left." The general tenor is that marriage equality is a bad thing because it 1) makes us just like straight people (hey, I didn't say it!), and 2) it bestows special privileges on those who are willing to undertake legal commitments to each other, leaving out all the poor hippie children who aren't. (Sorry, but that's about the best way I can think of to describe that particular stance.) I may come back and address this in more depth later, but for right now, there's an interesting discussion going on over at Bilerico that I think illustrates the different sides quite nicely.

There are a couple of other pieces I've seen lately that bear on this, and as soon as I've dug up the links (and had time to think a little bit), I'll be able to add more.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Good Bye

and in my own opinion, good riddance. I've had a hell of a day, but I did want to take note of this story:

The state has declined to renew its foster care and adoption contracts with Catholic Charities across Illinois, possibly ending a historic partnership initiated by the Roman Catholic Church a half-century ago and potentially severing the relationship between nearly 2,000 foster children and their caseworkers.

Though four Catholic Charities agencies had already stopped licensing new foster parents, three of them will seek an injunction from a Sangamon County judge on Tuesday to continue serving families and abiding by Catholic principles that prohibit placing children with unmarried cohabiting couples.

The problem with that is that Catholic Charities includes couples in civil unions among "unmarried, cohabiting couples." Unfortunately, the law says the couples in civil unions are to be treated the same as married couples.

In letters sent last week to Catholic Charities in the dioceses of Peoria, Joliet and Springfield and Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said the state could not accept their signed contracts for the 2012 fiscal year. Each letter said funding was declined because “your agency has made it clear that it does not intend to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act,” which the state says requires prospective parents in civil unions to be treated the same as married couples.

“That law applies to foster care and adoption services,” each letter stated. “Thus, there is no meeting of the minds as to the (fiscal year 2012) Foster Care and Adoption Contracts.”

I'm glad to see the state standing firm on this. I'm tired of state-sanctioned discrimination because of "religious beliefs." They're sure as hell not my religious beliefs.

And they're not going to be missed. Other agencies have already stepped in when other arms of Catholic Charities in Illinois have stopped adoption services. Other agencies will step in this time, too.


Another good-by and good riddance note:

Laura L. Fotusky, Town Clerk, Barker, may be the first New York State clerk to actually resign, rather than place her name on a same-sex “marriage” license. In a resignation letter presented to the Barker Town Board on July 11, Ms. Fotusky presented the following letter of resignation:

"To the Town of Barker Board, Supervisor Dilworth, Attorney Lewis and the Town Residents,"

“I have been in contact with Jason McGuire from New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, our Town Attorney, Richard Lewis, and a Constitutional Lawyer regarding the Marriage Equality Act that was passed June 24, 2011. There was no protection provided in the legislation for Town Clerks who are unable to sign these marriage licenses due to personal religious convictions, even though our US Constitution supports freedom of religion.”

“I believe that there is a higher law than the law of the land. It is the law of God in the Bible. In Acts 5:29, it states, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”

As you can tell from the scare quotes around "marriage," this is from New Yorkers for Constitutional "Freedoms," a hate-group wannabe opposed to equality for all. I'm not going to link to them, but you can see Joe Jervis' post on it here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cursive Is Not Stupid

I've seen this story around, but hadn't really paid much attention to it until I ran across this post from Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon. It's a bounce off this story. I find little to agree with:

Half the butthurt in this comment thread is based on the assumption that I was suggesting kids shouldn't learn to write with their hands. I just said "cursive", a fancy and outdated way of writing with your hands that is used by such a rare group of people that anyone who feels some compulsion to learn it should do so in college, alongside their basket-weaving courses.

I really can't think of a way to describe that comment as anything other than contrarian bullshit. I suppose it stems from the idea that people are so limited that they can only manage one skill at a time. Maybe that's the case in Indiana, but I'm from Illinois.

Granted, a lot of people have absolutely atrocious handwriting -- my own is of the "shock and awe" variety, and my printing is not much better, the result, I think, of spending too much time at the keyboard. Aside from the feeling of worth that comes from mastering a new skill, learning cursive was almost a rite of passage: you could write like a grown-up, so you were a little more grown-up yourself.

Learning skills is apparenly somehow a bad thing, particularly if they're "useless" skills such as cursive writing or reading German. (Yes, I started working on my German because I got really tired of saying "I used to be able to. . . ." There are a number of things in that category, which I'm working on.)

Of course, I realize that in the world inhabited by the really cool people, you do your grocery list on your iPhone, you e-mail your child's teacher instead of sending a note, you visit your friends and family on Facebook rather than writing a letter or postcard.

The point being, of course, that we're no longer allowed to slow down and think about anything. Writing it out longhand tends to make you do that, especially if it's something for someone else to read.

I just take it as more evidence of education as a tool of the corporate state -- teach them what the plutocracy needs for them to know and no more. I'm sort of surprised to see Marcotte falling into that.

Reviews in Brief: Red, Until We Have Faces

It's taken me a few months to get a handle on Red's third CD, Until We Have Faces. My first take was that it just didn't have the punch of Innocence and Instinct or End of Silence. I finally connected, though, and although I think I was right, it's not as severe as I had at first thought.

There are some really strong songs here -- "Lie to Me," "Let It Burn," and "Who We Are" are the ones that stand out the most in my mind, and the final cut, "Hymn For the Missing," could have been a real killer -- a strong, poignant ballad that always makes me tear up a little.

A lot of these songs could be very political in the right context, and I'm not going to say that wasn't the intent. "Let it Burn" and "Who We Are," in particular, are potentially very political songs. "Lie to Me," on the other hand, is a strong, somewhat bitter breaking up song, at least that's my reading. There are also several that, not surprisingly, fit into the band's Christian rock profile.

The problem is the arrangements. They tend to run a little bit over the top in some cases: "Let It Burn," which is a really tough song, peters off into an extended instrumental section that really adds nothing. "Hymn For the Missing" is even more extreme: the extended instrumental coda goes off in a completely different direction and completely destroys the power of the song. Happily, "Who We Are" (which could very easily become an anthem for the gay civil rights movement), doesn't peter off, although there's a mercifully short screaming session in the middle, just before the too brief reprise.

I don't know whose bright idea it was to print the notes and lyrics in orange on dark red, but it wasn't a good idea at all.

It's desperately flawed, but it's become my replay album of the past couple of weeks, because the songs are basically that tough and that good. Take that for what it's worth.

From Provident Label Group (Sony Music Entertainment).

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Obama Would Be A Shoo-In For the GOP Nomination

'cep' he ain't a white guy.

I may come back later with links to shore this up.

And he's as good as his word. From NYT:

The president’s renewed efforts follow what knowledgeable officials said was an overture from Mr. Boehner, who met secretly with Mr. Obama last weekend, to consider as much as $1 trillion in unspecified new revenues as part of an overhaul of tax laws in exchange for an agreement that made substantial spending cuts, including in such social programs as Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — programs that had been off the table. (Emphasis added.)

And under the heading "Fierce Advocate":

That's why I have to play the role of Debbie Downer with regards to this story that the administration is now filing briefs on behalf of gay plaintiffs challenging DOMA in court.

Don't get me wrong. The administration's brief is historic. It's a big deal, as Lambda Legal noted in its press release the other day. The problem is that the brief was apparently filed late on a Friday night at the beginning of a major holiday weekend. In Washington, DC, the only news you leak late on a Friday night, not to mention 4th of July weekend, is news you want to bury. That's my problem with all of this. From all appearances, the administration didn't want the mainstream media reporting on the fact that President Obama had evolved quite significantly on DOMA, far beyond simply no longer defending the anti-gay law in court. And their apparent embarrassment over just having done quite a good thing is a rather disturbing problem.
(Emphasis in original.)

There will probably be more.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The News Corp Phone Hacking Scandal (Updated)

This, from Shakesville, is about the most complete summary I've seen, and it's worth a read.

This, more than anything else I've heard about recently (give or take David Duke being considered a serious GOP presidential candidate) shows how deeply immoral the corporate world is.

Hey, all you Christianist assholes, you want to know what's immoral? Gay's not immoral. The things you do for money are immoral.


Here's a rather dramatic turn, via BBC World News:

This Sunday's issue of the News of the World will be the last edition of the paper, News International chairman James Murdoch has said.

In the past few days, claims have been made that the paper authorised hacking into the mobile phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and the families of 7/7 bombing victims.

Mr Murdoch said proceeds from the last edition would go to good causes.

Downing Street said it had no role or involvement in the decision.

The News of the World, which has been in circulation for 168 years, is the UK's biggest selling newspaper and is famed for its celebrity scoops.

No advertisements will run in this weekend's paper - instead any advertising space will be donated to charities and good causes.

I would like to be able to take this at face value. Given the history of Murdoch and his "news" organizations, I can't.

Education and Corporations and Humanity

Very good and angry post at Shakesville on the "two views" of education that seem to be holding sway in this country -- and unfortunately, holding sway in the corridors of power.

I'm not going to try to excerpt it -- it's too much of a piece and you need to read the whole thing.

I will say, though, that my own idea of education is somewhat more than mere training so that you can get a job. I think a good, rounded, liberal education has a lot to do with making decent citizens.

Think of it this way: the teabaggers are the products of the corporate idea of "education."

Well, That's A Good Thing To Hear

From the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:

After the government appealed U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ decision, the 9th Circuit agreed to keep the policy in place until it could consider the matter. The appeals court reversed itself with Wednesday’s order by lifting its hold on Phillips’ decision.

“The circumstances and balance of hardships have changed, and (the government) can no longer satisfy the demanding standard for issuance of a stay,” the panel said.

I found this sort of amusing:

The Pentagon has been moving carefully to implement the repeal of the ban on openly gay troops.

Hmm -- read that "moving carefully" to mean "with painful slowness."

Any bets on whether the DoD appeals?

There Has To Be An Award For Things Like This

I < 3 Kathy Griffin:

Kathy Griffin had the extreme pleasure of bumping into Michele Bachmann at a political event; the two ladies recognized one another and when they started to speak an assistant filmed the exchange, supposedly for Bachmann's website. Kathy, always on top of her game, decided to ask the tea party princess if she'd attend a rally to repeal DADT — and when Bachmann said no, Griffin followed up with, "Were you born a bigot or did you grow into one?" Boom.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

This Is Important

A complete 180 from the DoJ's first DOMA brief after Obama took office:

Today, the Department of Justice filed a brief in federal court employee Karen Golinski's federal court challenge, supporting her lawsuit seeking access to equal health benefits for her wife and arguing strongly that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional in terms unparalleled in previous administration statements.

In a brief filed on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management and other federal defendants, DOJ acknowledged the U.S. government's "significant and regrettable role" in discrimination in America against gays and lesbians.

The summary of the DOJ argument that Golinski's case should not be dismissed begins simply: "Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. Section 7 ('DOMA'), unconstitutionally discriminates."

The filing signed by Christopher Hall, a trial attorney with DOJ, responds to the June 3 filing by the lawyers for the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group's Republican members asking the federal court in San Francisco to dismiss Golinski's lawsuit.

Maybe they've started reassigning the Bush political appointees.

They Read But They Do Not Comprehend

Maha has a good post on how the right wing reads things like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It's sort of amazing how they can completely blip on what's there and go right back to their pre-ordained conclusion:

Another commenter disagreed with this, saying, “the federal government gets its *just*” powers to govern from the Constitution, not from the people or the states.”

To which I did not say –
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
This is the foundational philosophy that our country was built on; this was Jefferson laying out the moral justification for declaring independence. It’s right there bleeping in front of your face, and you can’t see it.

Not having the ability, claimed, apparently, by Constitutional originalists, to read the minds of people dead for better than 200 years, I figure we should probably assume that they meant what they wrote, and go from there. It's not, it seems, an assumption shared by the right wing.

Monday, July 04, 2011

"Liberty and Justice for All"

I've been under the weather for the past couple of days -- which is putting it mildly, but I'd rather not dwell on it. I'm back to normal, though, whatever that is.

Happy 4th of July, and I hope everyone will take some time today to think about what those words in the title of this post really mean. That is what counts as real "traditional American values."

As a footnote to that idea, read this piece from Ed Brayton on the writing of the Declaration of Independence:

The assertion that each individual had rights that were unalienable and that the principal job of government is to secure those rights had never before been declared so boldly.

The more I read about what's going on in Washington -- and Wisconsin and Ohio and Florida and any number of other places in this country -- the more I realize we're in danger of losing it completely.

In other news, I've finally connected with Red's latest CD, Until We Have Faces. It took awhile, but we found some common ground at last. Look for more on that in Reviews in Brief sometime soon.

And on that note, I've got a lot of catching up to do. We'll see how I manage.