Monday, December 29, 2008

Don't Let Kanye Do Your PR

I think I agree about the Katrina moment. Bush was bound to lose credibility at some point. Brownie you're doing a heckuva job has to be one of the most appropriately ridiculous quotes of his ministry.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's a Mystery

Posted over at TeamSarah.org by Gary P Jackson.

What I really find hilarious though, is the gays supported Barry Obama in force. And yet, thanks to Barry's "blackness" the negroes came out in force in California to vote for him! And negroes are pretty conventional when t comes to values. Most are rather conservative, which is why I can't understand for the life of me why the vote for democrats.

[sic]

Friday, December 19, 2008

He Pulls a Knife; You Pull a Tape Recorder

When the announcement was made that Rod Blagojevich had been taken into custody, one of the repeated points was that the arrest was made before he had a chance to appoint Barack Obama's senate replacement. Whew. Good thing they stopped him right?

Maybe not. Maybe the FBI has once again crashed a warehouse trying to catch the guys red-handed only to find crates full of umbrellas. You should never underestimate these Chicago goons.

Patrick Fitzgerald hasn't revealed every fingerprint and recording, so who knows how strong the case is. The recordings that we know about make him look awful, and there's no way Blagojevich will convince the voters that he's a decent person. So then is wanting a bribe a crime? Saying you want one? To your staff? Surely the case is built on more.

Well whether or not these criminal charges stick, Blogojevich is damaged goods. And his appointment would have been as well. It would have been a bigger mess to take down two crooks, but at least they'd both be trapped in the bank vault when Ness and his boys showed up.

...And She Was in a Movie with Kevin Bacon

So now there's a story out there about Sherry Johnston getting into some trouble. And a few voices for the political left are using it to call the GOP hypocritical and all that.

Why? Who's Sherry Johnston? Why Levi Johnston's mother.

Who's he? Bristol Palin's boyfriend.

C'mon, don't go for this. Just how does she reflect in any reasonable way on her son's girlfriend's parents? On their political party?

This is worse than a cheap shot. It's like making fun of your opponent's shoes during a debate.

So Why Exactly Did You Go Into Medicine?

In a mad dash to assure its base that the sinners aren't taking over the country, the Bush administration is cranking out a law requiring every state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic or other entity to allow workers to withhold treatment if they conscientiously object to it.

I'm not saying that taking the Hippocratic oath means you should be bound by law to perform an abortion on demand. But at its most ridiculous this law could protect the right to refuse help to anyone who you believe doesn't deserve your help.

From the Washington Post story:

Because of such concerns, 28 senators, more than 110 House members and more than a dozen state attorneys general opposed the regulation, along with medical organizations including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Hospital Association.

The rule is supported by such groups as Concerned Women for America and the Catholic Health Association, which represents Catholic hospitals.


Those who don't make room for squeemish health care workers stand to lose funding, and might even have to give back funds. Bush pulled a Blagojevich!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Warren Piece

From an interview with Rick Warren:

Steven Waldman: Do you support civil unions or domestic partnerships?

Rick Warren: I— I— you know, I don’t know about&mdash I don't know if I use the term there, but I support full equal rights for everybody in America. I don’t believe that we should uh— uh— have equal— unequal rights depending on particular lifestyles or whatever stuff like that. So I fully support equal rights.


Hey. Warren, who supported Proposition 8, now supports equal rights. That was a quick turnaround.

Steven Waldman: What about, like, partnership benefits in terms of insurance or hospital visitation?

Rick Warren: You know, to me, not a problem with me. But the issue to me is, is um— I’m not opposed to that as much as I’m opposed to the redefinition of a 5,000-year definition of marriage. I’m opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage. I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage. I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.


Hey I don't think those should be protected by the constitution either. Is there some common ground here?

Steven Waldman: Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?

Rick Warren:Oh I do. I just— For five thousand years, marriage has been defined by every single culture and every single religion. This is not a Christian issue. Buddhists, Muslims, the Jews, uh you know historically marriage is a man and a woman. And so I’m opposed to that.


Division. Because of the legacy of a definition that he understands only as is convenient to his cause, he believes that homosexuality is equivalent to incest, pedophilia and polygamy. I'm surprised he didn't throw bestiality in there too. But by this standard he's going to have to change his tune on polygamy.

The New York Times provides the following bio of the man who will invite his god to be a part of Obama's inauguration/administration.

Dr. Rick Warren founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, in 1980 with one family. Today, it is an evangelical congregation averaging 22,000 weekly attendees, a 120-acre campus, and has more than 300 community ministries to groups such as prisoners, CEOs, addicts, single parents, and those with HIV/AIDS. He also leads the Purpose Driven Network of churches, a global coalition of congregations in 162 countries. TIME magazine named him one of “15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most in 2004,” and in 2005 one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”


What a faithful servant he is.

Obama is defending this choice and that's too bad. He wants to unite the edges. That's fine. But please, not with this guy. Diverse voices are fine. Controversial voices are great. But if there's gonna be a prayer can't it be offered by someone who knows what respect is?

It's not that he's a voice of the religious right. Obama needs to reach out to even them. It's not that he supported Prop 8. Maybe he supported it for reasons that I don't completely understand. Maybe it was his understanding of the church/state issue. Maybe it was a purely linguistic issue. Maybe he fully supports all the same rights, but wants to preserve that one word. And he's happy to see the laws change accordingly to favor equal rights. Probably not. But his mind isn't the issue.

It's how he speaks of homosexuality. It's how he guides his listeners. As a leader he creates division by speaking disrespectfully and casting judgment even if he says he's not. And there are plenty of good Christians out there who actually believe in love. There are Christians out there who opposed the amendment regardless of their biblical reading. There are Christians out there who have used their understanding of the bible to focus only on giving and supporting and protecting. Who spend their time advocating for the oppressed. There are Christians who make Christianity look good.

Look, this isn't policy. It's all for show and Warren isn't being asked to play any role in government. But politically he's a weak choice. It's a predictable statement. It has disappointed a small percentage of voters and it reaches out to a slightly larger block. It will probably be forgotten, but the appeal to the far right is there in Obama's pocket.

There are of course disapproving voices out there saying that Warren needs to be protested.

At the above link you'll find the following list of contacts including Parag Mehta, Obama’s LGBT liaison:

  • parag.mehta@ptt.gov
  • dnoble@barackobama.com
  • bbond@barackobama.com
  • steve@hildebrandtewes.com (Steve Hildebrand)
  • fred.hochberg@ptt.com

Senator Dianne Feinstein was the chair of the Inaugural Ceremonies committee.

Big Three: The New Deal

(Image from craschworks)

Christmas on Da House!



This is so annoying in such a familiar way. I swear -- halfway through this I really expected to see this little fellow hop on screen.

Just Spread the Bad Word

A friend's ordeal:

Companies: Cheaptickets.com/United Airlines

Method of screwing: Overcharge customer

Method of screwing blue: Drag corporate feet on service

So what can you do when a company screws you? Post it on the internet hoping that a buttload of people will see it.

A Vicious Circle

Here's an interesting effect.

Something I watch for in my site statistics is an incoming link to a specific post rather than a link to the blog homepage because the former is usually a reaction to something I said that caught someone's attention. Those links tend to bring in more hits and get more discussion going.

I noticed a few hits coming in from one of the blogs on the sidebar to a specific post, so I headed over to see what commentary I might find. Nothing. The post was on a completely unrelated topic.

What happened?

The blogroll on my sidebar uses a feed that lists the most recent post from each of the websites. I kinda like this feature because it gives a little more information on each of the links -- perhaps enticing readers who would normally ignore the blog title.

One of the blog posts listed on the blogroll noted this incoming link and marked my post with Blogger's "LINKS TO THIS POST" feature. It's some link inbreedin' we got goin'.

So my question is, will my post notice this incoming link and list it as an incoming post as well?

Speaking Without a Forked Tongue

Eric makes an extremely important point in his comment to my Huckabee post. Sometimes a label like bigoted is unnecessary. He recalls a conversation:

Had I described this family member's views as bigoted that would have forever ended the conversation.


And we're hoping for the opposite of course. To extend the conversation and find more understanding. Of course I would feel morally discredited by the suggestion that I might come to agree with someone who believes homosexuality is a sin and G-d condemns it and all its practitioners. There is no way that I'm going to move in that direction. None. I'll tell you that right now.

And yet I'm expecting to tell someone that what they hold sacred, what they believe to be piety, is an outrageously backwards belief. That it's contrary to my view of morality. As softly as I state it the conversation is founded on each of us saying this to the other.

Part of Thanksgiving day was ruined for my wife after a phone conversation with her father. It was their first conversation after the election so instead of arguing about candidates they got to talking about issues. He's conservative. Extremely. And when it came to a discussion about Proposition 8 she told him that she would have voted against.

His sermon began with an explanation of the Levitical law and a summary of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. He explained that many homosexuals are sexual deviants in every way. They want kids just so they can recruit them. She told him of friends whose rights she respected and who were good moral kind loving people who could be trusted with kids. He told her she would not see them in Heaven. He told her that she was moving away from the values that he and her mother had tried to instill in her.

She had no time to adjust to this. All she could say was that she disagreed with him. A great response would have been to investigate those values. To plumb the foundation of love and to ask what the point of respect is. To show him that it's because of her mother's values that she respects and loves and trusts her friends. And that it's because her mother was such a generous and protective and supportive and dedicated wife and devoted parent that she now recognizes love so easily. And she sees that any person who loves that way loves correctly. Your goodness is in how you love, not who you love.

What words she tried to get in, her father cut off. No matter what she said, he would have heard nothing. Trying to convince him to step down from his principles was doing exactly what calling him a bigot would have done.

This is why such words, which I don't disavow, end the conversation. Because the conversation is headed to either of two conclusions that will not be shared.

Their conversation ended badly. With no resolution and no reconnection. The next conversation they had was civil. It was about the new cat. And home repairs. Something about the central heating…

Should they not have had the prior discussion? Was there nothing to share there? Of course their was. But on that issue, if I had been a place to offer any response to his accusations it would have been this: that the world is changing. And I like where it's going. And I'm trying to be a part of it getting there sooner.

Regarding the point about words like f-g and n----r I've been a part of many subcultures in which the taboos actually are almost identical. In many conversations I've had, 'The F-word' doesn't refer to fuck. From this experience I feel that bigotry is appropriate because it is just as strong as warranted by a growing sensibility.

I've been told that I come across as arrogant. But that's fine. When I'm loving my values I hold them out proudly. So it was on Thanksgiving evening that I put the new subhead on this blog: Let them be the angry ones

Because that's what I believe has to happen. Until I know someone well enough to know that nothing can stop the conversation, I'm not going to share my judgment of their views unless I'm perfectly happy to see that conversation stop. And sometimes I'm OK with that. In an online community. On the street. In an organized debate. These are conversations I have all the time that I know will end. That the mere acquaintance will end and often be forgotten. (Tho I can't remember my last organized debate on the topic.)

And in those conversations I'm comfortable putting a claim in front of the other voice challenging them to represent their views as something other than my characterization. Because there are some who have not made up their minds and who are still working on their own view of the issue. And I believe that for the sake of those who listen and for the sake of my argument, the ugliest labels belong on the ugliest beliefs. If they see that they cannot shake those labels off, they are more ready to pull for the change I'm hoping to see.

But in those conversations that might die, but that I hope don't end about marriage rights, the connection has to be a desire to understand the facts being used to inform values. I know a lot of them of course. I grew up hearing them and I was taught to use them in the same way we see them used still. But I don't know or understand anyone as well as I can. And that's why the conversations are still worth having. Because with growing trust even the facts can be disputed. And the point can be to understand how values still survive.

I guess my response, Eric, is that I don't have the policy conversation unless I'm comfortable saying to that person you're a bigot. And I've had those conversations. They've been good conversations. And not because my friend thought I was kidding. Because I wasn't. This was the same friend who said to me that G-d gave me a good mind and Satan had taken advantage of it through pagan literature and worldly knowledge. I rolled my eyes and we continued on some other point about the historical accuracy of the Hebrew canon.

I'll share some of those conversations in another post.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

No, Virginia. Now Grow Up

About 4 years ago, when my sisters kids were 4 5 and 7 years old, I told them to tell all their little friends that Santa isn't real. But my sister and her husband had already told them that's being mean. And their kids are too nice to follow the advice of such a heartless bastard as their uncle.

No I'm not saying that we need to shatter kid's illusions. We allow them to believe that Social Security will still be there for them when they retire. But when those illusions are created and protected by their parents— well I judge the parents.

Every year around this time I am utterly grateful to my mother and father for never having lied to me about Santa Claus. It's really one of the saddest temporary religions out there.
I'll never understand it. It doesn't help Christmas. It's just a way to focus on getting gifts without giving them. 'Hey kids! You'll never have to give anybody anything. There's a magic guy that'll do it for you. Unless you're bad. So be good for the sake of a tangible reward!'


Images from here

When I Was a Child

Chris Matthews' most recent Big Question was "Is the American car dead?" Nobody on his little variety show wanted to say Yes. And they all decided to play a sickening little game of my favorite car is... Corvette. Mustang. Even a Corvair from Andrea Mitchell. Tho a heartening answer came from Andrew Sullivan who recused himself because of a complete disinterest in cars. He just wants a good bike that doesn't break down.

Despite Matthews' prediction that America needs a new sexy car that all the kids'll want and the parents'll buy, the idea of the sexy car is doomed. It's an old idea that I thought was cool up to when I was about 13 and the '57 Chevy just got boring. The symbols and the connotations of power and girth are no longer enough to make little people quiver and sweat as they nervously discover new totems for their potency.

The new symbols are small phones and smooth keyboards and flat screens. It'll take a while before cars lose their muscle, but they will. They have reached their speed limit, literally. If they get smaller they lose much of their utility. If they get bigger they will be forced to fall behind the demands of an energy shift. They drain resources too much to accepted as a pure aesthetic. And as technology leads to less frequent travel the raison d'être of the car is thrown aside.

I realize that this point of view doesn't really mesh with the current vote on Matthews' page. But we will grow up.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Huckabee on The Daily Show




This post is mostly an echo of and agreement with this one.

As well as Stewart makes his points, his first question gives Huckabee way too much credit for not having a bigoted view.

You write that marriage is the bedrock of our society. Why would you not want more couples to buy into the stability of marriage? Why would you want that precluded for an entire group of of people.


Huckabee doesn't believe that commitment is the bedrock. He believes that same sex commitment contributes nothing. Stewart's first challenge—and it's a popular one—gets thrown aside easily by the view that society is bourn on the backs of men who take women. His biblical view is that a man who joins with a man is not a man, and a woman who joins with a woman has no man to give her the power to contribute. According to this view single mothers are only capable if they can offer the strength that men are more naturally equipped to impart. Boys must learn to be adult men in the mold of our cherished heroes. These are the traditions of necessary gender roles that give shape to this disrespect.

Huckabee doesn't develop his argument about the only way to create the next generation. He knows heterosexual marriage is not the only way to create the next generation. Heterosexual marriage is simply one type of home and one path to birth. There's no reason for it to be the only one except by arbitrary preference. Then he goes with the majority argument. 30 states can't be wrong? Why do you think they voted that way? Because so far the voting majority hasn't valued entire groups' rights. He doesn't think those groups need to be valued just yet? Will his view change as soon as the majority changes?

Perhaps not. His mention of California voters, "that nobody would suggest are social conservatives" entrenches him in his view by sharing it and imposing it on a perennially liberal voting block. He's digging his heels into a foundation he believes will shift more slowly.

Then he tries to differentiate between banning rights and affirming the denial of those rights. Stewart challenges him on this claim regarding what happened in California, but he could have challenged him on the very distinction. How is one not the other?

The slippery slope argument comes in:

If we change the definition then we really do have to change it to accommodate all lifestyles.


Not true. If marriage is between two consenting adults then there's no slope. There's nowhere else to go. Two: that number won't change. Consenting: that's already required (and this one also takes care of the ridiculous bestiality argument). Adults: we know what these are. The definitions are not in flux.

And we know he's afraid of semantic change. Except that the semantics of marriage have already changed and he simply wants to freeze them as he finds them right now. Again without argument or support.

When he admits "Frankly we're probably not going to come to terms" then he dismisses the issue of some resolution with "Jon I respect that you and I disagree with that" he is asking to be left alone with his disrespect and indifference. So let's talk about what instead? Perhaps Mr Huckabee can tell us just how to make him feel secure and justified in his parochial prejudice. He's afraid of being thought a homophobe. And the truth is that he is a homophobe. He is afraid of what will happen if homosexuality does not remain marginalized by his favoured institutions. He can ask that we trust he's a good guy, but his are not the values I trust. He is not willing to act in opposition to homophobia except at its most obvious and aggressive extremes. His homophobia is passive and uncaring. It is nonchalant and unconcerned. He asks to be left with his apathy.

His final passionate plea. "But words do matter. Definitions matter." How does that lead us to his conclusion? It is because these words matter that they must change.

How does he dare to defend bigotry by appealing to its history? Whether we want to see this as an extension of race rights or women's rights there is a history of devaluing groups' demands for equal rights. Some will argue that people in this country first have to change their minds. But an unjust law has to be exposed for what it is a soon as it's seen. And disenfranchisement is the ward of the state. No matter if a majority isn't yet on board. There are things we need not wait to demand. Why wait for a foggy cultural readiness that can probably best be defined as the point at which the government and the constitution are not necessary for the protection of any rights.

It's a lovely idea, that rights will be respected and the constitution can simply reflect the respect accurately. But we are selling the document short by defining its wisdom with the same limitations as ours. Why fear the fist of the masses rather than trust in the protection offered by a constitution that doesn't distinguish between heterosexual and homosexual citizens? The rights and protections granted to marriage are not merely offered to an institution. They are offered to the individuals who turn to that institution with honest respect. And the request must be made repeatedly. Turning to a demand. Never forgetting that the defense of human rights is most necessary when the voices that would deny them are most fiercely straining to survive.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Experimental Philosophy



This is actually an interesting question. I don't really care about the ethical difference between the scenarios. But what about that simple and undeniable distinction: why people see the intentionality differently.

Take a look at the YouTube comments to see a lot of people not knowing what they're disagreeing on. It's one thing to say this is why they're different and a whole nother to say this is why people think they're different.

via OUP Blog

Jon Meacham on Same-sex Marriage

If I can hold on to only one thing in this Newsweek editorial by Jon Meacham, it's the look to a beautiful generational schism. But it's worthy throughout. Including this reminder:

In civil and religious terms we have redefined marriage before in order to reflect evolving understandings of justice and right; to act as though marriage has been one thing since Eden (and look how well that turned out) is ahistorical.


Not evolving understandings of what anyone used to think. Not insight into any original intent or earliest representation. But justice and right. The country can grow kinder. Lose bigotry even tho we have no law telling us we have to.

Don't Trust Government... Until We Run It.

I've been waiting a while to hear a good argument for small government. Not on principle and not with some nice rhythmic Reagan line about government being the problem. But how about really spelling it out for idiots like me. So far it seems one of the easiest arguments to ignore.

Because you know what? Government isn't the problem. Big government isn't even the problem. The problem is bad government. Dishonest government. Clueless government. I don't even have to develop that argument. You don't disagree do you?

And this is the loose shoelace on the Republican sneaker that could so easily trip them up. But why hasn't it? Why has right wing meddling in everything from civil rights to privacy been allowed to keep company with claims of adherence to small government? How did the right wing agenda of encroachment on the individual get more than 40% of the vote? It's got to be because not even Republicans believe in small government. But they believe in duping the daft.

Mike Huckabee just appeared on The Daily Show and he has yet to make much sense to me. He's using a very odd logic throughout. And I really wish some supporters of those views would let me know how they connect the dots. C'mon... I know you're out there.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Banana Hands Smacks Gore

Recorded February 2006



Pay attention starting around 5 minutes in. Al Gore gets in a good one. Tony high-fives him then flips it right around.

Emotion—something that I experienced from you day before yesterday at a level that is as profound as I've ever experienced—and if you had communicated with that emotion I believe you would have beat his ass and won.


Yep.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hitting the Right Note



Tho he stumbles through the line, John C. Reilly makes the most important point here.
You can't make your church's beliefs my government's beliefs.


It's easy to argue that the proposition passed because people are stupid. And with a little education they would no longer be stupid. But that's not true. They're not stupid and education hasn't changed their minds. There are thousands of BAs MAs PhDs MDs and JDs that voted for Proposition 8. I think there were 3 MFAs.

The point is not about knowledge but fear. What do you fear most and where do you want to build your fortress? That debate might actually get us somewhere.

Friday, December 5, 2008

There's Only 12 Notes, You Know



Everybody is always ripping-off bald guitarists.

If you listen really closely you can hear Freddy Mercury singing "...Under pressure!" while Vanilla Ice does a rap with Madonna singing "Papa don't preach" over the background vocals of Sam Harris singing "Sugar don't bite."

h/t Mxrk

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Keeping Christ in Xmas

I've been getting some invitations on Facebook to a group Help Keep CHRIST in Christmas that apparently fears some sort of war against their religious views. The group description:

The purpose of this cause is to keep CHRIST in Christmas. Since so many people today are trying to ban Christ from everything, School, Courthouse and even Christmas. In a time when all things religious are being discouraged and swept away, it’s refreshing to know that the Order established the “Keep Christ in Christmas” campaign to remind people that Christmas is above all a day God want us to remember the birth of His Son, our Savior.


I don't understand this fear. I don't think all the members of this group really understand it. I'm sure some do. I know some don't.

Where is this banning? No one is telling Christians what to do what to believe what to say or what to call the holiday. This is an old story. And it's more persistent than the hydra.

One group member sees evidence of this war everywhere. Regarding public schools she writes

Also, the agenda planners which all students are required to purchase contain a list of all the religious and school holidays for the year, and what religion the holidays are for. There is a long list of obscure holidays celebrated by various different minority religions of the world that most students in the school have never heard of, but no Christmas or Easter. They are listed as simply "school holidays". Not that a whole lot students actually take the time to read these lists, but I feel like my religion deserves its holiday's to be recognized just as much as the others. No more, no less.


Why do other holidays get more of a write-up on calendars? Because nobody knows what they are. There's value in giving information when you know people are ignorant. And you don't have to give them information that you know they already have. It's not anti-Christian to occasionally not talk about the religion.

The government allows so much space around Christmas; I can't imagine how much more it could give. Schools shut down. Government shuts down. Vacations are longer. It's a lot more observation than any other holiday gets. Christians who want to observe the holiday as a religious celebration have more room to do so than any other group. You know why you don't have to ask for Christmas off? Because you already have it off.

OK so some people are going to say Nononono this is just about focusing on the Reason for the Season! Urp. It's such a horrid slogan. But fine. Focus on it. If you really just want to promote the wonderful qualities of generosity patience and compassion I have absolutely nothing against that. Nothing. Neither does anyone else. You can relax.

All donations to the group go the the Durham Rescue Mission which looks like a decent organization.

I just can't get behind the fear. I think Goodness is on the rise.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Wal-Mart Kool-aid

To see The Who. To see the Rolling Stones. To get a deal on DVDs. All stupid reasons to kill. And nobody makes that choice. But you push because the person in front of you is moving and you're sure it's not fast enough. And you have no idea that you're all pushing against one person. That you're pushing 4 people whose feet are about to step on a neck. You don't know. And so people die.

But mobs are not responsible for logistics. They can't be so they shouldn't be. They trust that someone else has it all figured out. Someone who has worked their way to the top of the Wal-Mart morning shift.

The stupidest thing about all this is that in our nation full of mindless action, people are in such a rush to go out and spend more money than we have to. Please let me spend. Please. That stupidity is the individual's responsibility. The material gotten in exchange becomes the only measure of success. Material that usually isn't wanted, isn't requested, isn't kept, certainly isn't needed.

My wife likes to defend a lot of her purchases by saying that without them she wouldn't have gotten the great deal. And when I protest against what is valued by that logic she hears me and understands me. She really does. Because we respect and admire each other. And we both think about our values and the actions they lead to.

But society doesn't listen. And mobs eventually act like the stupidest person in the lot. We're sick.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's for the Children



via Davo

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mom! Tell Her to Stop Making Me Look Like a Bigot!

Newt Gingrich speaking to Bill O'Reilly:

Look, I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use us violence, to use harrassment—uh—I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it—uh—I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion.


It's the ol' we-don't-respect-them-so-we-should-be-allowed-to-oppress-them argument. And all while he's unwilling to accept that the votes and values of a growing culture should count for anything. What kind of family did he grow up in? Why, its the same family that his sister grew up in.

And it turns out Candace Gingrich has a few words for her big brother at The Huffington Post.

[W]e've seen these tactics before. We know how much the right likes to play political and cultural hardball, and then turn around and accuse us of lashing out first. You give a pass to a religious group -- one that looks down upon minorities and women -- when they use their money and membership roles to roll back the rights of others, and then you label us "fascists" when we fight back.


And she adds

You should be more afraid of the new political climate in America, because, there is no place for you in it.


Lovely.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

These People Are Serious. And On Their Way Out



Thank you for bringing the power of the Religious Right that much closer to its demise.

courtesy of these fine folks

What Am I Missing?

Could somebody tell me why I should be more interested in Malcom Gladwell?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Civic Literacy

Do you have it? Take this quiz to see what the Intercollegiate Studies Institute thinks.

More important to me than your score (I got a B) is how well you can argue any of these points. I have a problem with multiple choice questions asking Why does _X_ work? or What's most likely to happen if…?

via Jon

Saturday, November 22, 2008

...otherwise I wouldn't get it.


John Darkow, The Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri


My horrified reaction on reading this had nothing to do with the assassination joke. Lincoln is fair game already.

No. What I find so distasteful is how the joke is spelled out. Darkow does all the work for us. He throws every clue he can think of into the first bubble. And it's not even a real observation.

Then he klutzes up Lincoln's line. Instead of 'I need that' he goes with the awkward I'd need that.

Lastly: the suitcase/luggage with baggage written on the side… Can we ask for another joke from these cartoonists. It's like a competition to see who can tell the joke last.

See more of Darkow's work.



† I've even heard some good James A. Garfield jokes. But it's still too soon for McKinley.

Then Why Isn't Stuart Smalley Winning Minnesota?

From the British Psychological Society Research Digest Blog:

Voters are more willing to vote for male political candidates whom they perceive to have high self-esteem - a finding which could help explain President Elect Barack Obama's electoral success.


Uh really? How about the fact that he ran a better campaign and organized more voters and pretty much perfected internet outreach? And McCain stumbled around like he was drunk. Both ideologically and physically. And more importantly he alienated most of the country with his fundamentally ignorant and backwards VP choice. The most mockable choice for VP since James Stockdale.

But wait. What was that about male candidates? The study was conducted by Virgil Zeigler-Hill and Erin Myers in the Fall of 2007. 209 undergrads rated 8 Democratic and 10 Republican potential candidates.

As you'd expect, the students' own political affiliations played a key role in their willingness to vote.


So a higher self-esteem probably didn't affect choice between competing parties and it had the opposite affect among female Republican students, who were less willing to vote for male candidates rated with a high self-esteem. Furthermore, the female Republican subjects

also said they were unwilling to vote for [Hillary] Clinton regardless of how they perceived her self-esteem.


But still! Self-esteem explains a lot, right?

Zeigler-Hill and Myers' article1 includes another study in which the self-esteem level was provided: low, moderate, or high (a made-up quality based on a fictional analysis) and 293 students responded on their willingness to vote for each candidate.

In this study, Democratic females were not affect by Clinton's self-esteem level. Democratic males reported the highest levels of support for Clinton, but only when told that her self-esteem was low or moderate. They reported less support for her if she had high-self esteem (when their support is compared to Democratic females and also when compared to their own support based on the other levels).

Male Republicans reported uniform unwillingness to vote for Clinton regardless of her esteem level. Comparable to female Republicans except in the case of low self-esteem. Female Republicans were similarly unwilling to vote for Clinton if told that her esteem was high or moderate, but if told that her esteem was low they were more willing to vote for her.

Overall, the findings are consistent with Zeigler-Hill's implicit theory of self-esteem, which states that we (perhaps subconsciously) assume that people with high self-esteem also have other positive traits.


I tend to ignore claims of overall and consistent with unless we were expecting the opposite in a study. Consistency can also mean that it adds nothing to our knowledge of a system. Consistency can be a waste of time. And when we have to rely on overall to qualify that claim we're highlighting strategic disregard for significant results from a study.

The most telling result is probably the anomaly regarding Clinton. It's the one result that goes against the theories and the other outcomes.

If [women] are portrayed as having high self-esteem, they may be disliked. … However, if they appear to have low self-esteem, [they] may be viewed as less competent than their male counterparts.


That focus probably would have made a more interesting lede. Study shows that undergrads are sexists. Republican females being the worst.

Not any more accurate. But it's got a nice kick to it.

There are a lot of confounds that haven't been accounted for here. In the first study the students were simply shown an image and told to rate the esteem level of the individual. How did physical appearance affect the rating and the opinions. What of existing opinions and attitudes towards the candidates? And other issues that are invariably considered in a vote, such as policy positions, qualifications and intelligence. How about the definition and implications of self-esteem? How high is high and what does it mean? Does it mean that they think they're better than me? 'Cause I hate arrogance you know. Does it mean that they have the confidence to be humble? 'Cause kindness is a turn-on you know.





† The important difference being that Stockdale was much more capable and intelligent than he seemed and Palin is probably far less capable than she seems. Really.

1. "Is high self-esteem a path to the White House? The implicit theory of self-esteem and the willingness to vote for presidential candidates" Personality and Individual Differences, 46 (1), 14-19


(image from here)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Authorial Intent

Minnesota Public Radio is asking you to do the Coleman/Franken recount.

Go vote on some of the contested ballots. (Easy now. Your decision won't affect the outcome.)

Some are obvious.





Some are less so.




-via mxrk

Monday, November 17, 2008

No one else could do this

Now for the controversial stuff

I really don't mean to offend anyone. But the most overrated people on Saturday Night Live over the years:

Dan Akroyd: I'm sorry but he has never made me laugh. Not as Elwood Blues. Not as Jimmy Carter.
Dana Carvey: "Well isn't that special" is not a funny punchline and neither is "Satan!?" Chopping Broccoli was a high point. But not enough to justify the legend.
Adam Sandler: C'mon. Are you really going to defend his sketches?
Darrell Hammond: I know. He isn't that highly rated. But his impressions are. And they're really not that good. His McCain is quite bad. His Clinton was good but Clinton's so easy to do. His Regis is passable. His Sean Connery: meh. His Geraldo: surprisingly good actually.

The Most Underrated:
Rachel Dratch: her characters were consistently very funny. But even just her Debbie Downer character is enough for me.
Joe Piscopo: A journeyman not a genius. But he doesn't deserve the ridicule he gets. His Sinatra was really good.

Most Deserving of The Adulation:
Gilda Radner: You'll burn in hell if you disagree.
Bill Murray: His lounge singer made me who I am.
Tina Fey: One of the best writers the show has ever had. And she saved Weekend Update.

Most overrated hosts:
John Goodman
Tom Hanks: looks too much like he's playing a comedian for the night. He hams it up. If you ever saw Bosom Buddies you've seen all the goofy faces and voices he relies on.

Best Host:
Alec Baldwin: His timing is perfect. He never looks like he's trying to be funny so he plays straight well. But he can broaden his performances. He plays the melodramatic comedy easily. He makes fun of himself. He can carry a scene.

Most Surprisingly Good Host:
Justin Timberlake (Almost a tie: Donald Trump isn't as good, but he's more of a surprise.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Don't Worry, Oprah's Fine

© Copyright 2008 Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle's cartoon accompanies a post he wrote about the California fires.

The media’s celebrity obsession has little to do with actual events on the ground. Most of the homes that were lost belong to regular folks. I inherited my house from my mother who spent her career working for the local school district. The homes of 14 teachers at Westmont College were lost. I don’t know where those celebrities live.

In 1977 the media’s trivial obsessions had a tangible effect. President Jimmy Carter refused to declare a federal disaster area, noting that the people here are wealthy and can take care of themselves. A disaster declaration would have meant that my mother and I could have lived in a FEMA trailer for a year, while our house was being re-built.


Who knows if the media can be blamed for Carter's decision. But they really do suck sometimes. The more expensive a house is the more likely the owner will be fine if it burns down. And the more likely that it'll make it into a story.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Ceiling That Has Already Been Shattered

The rumors have resurfaced that Clinton is a top-contender for Secretary of State. The AP reports:

The two Democratic officials who spoke Thursday did so on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering Obama and his staff.


More specifically, to keep Obama from getting mad at them. I wonder what the stare looks like coming from Obama.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don't Let Him Turn into Another Politician

Here's a comment left on a friend's blog. From his father. I have nothing to add.

I was thinking about what to say to you, my son, and to your sister about this election. History in the making, the black guy won, and all that. This election will only be meaningful if the spirit that got everyone out to vote stays alive. In the 60's we were spirited but naive; and when the war was over we went back to sleep. We don't want to know about the mechanics of government--that's why we hire politicians in the first place. I know that this election was a popular--and populist--uprising of sorts, but unless we keep awake and keep watching these bastards, Barack will be a one term president and an asterisk in history.

If it doesn't turn into something beyond "the black guy won" and "it's history in the making" after January 20th, in 2050 it's going to look a lot like 1950. My generation pissed away our '60's. Don't let your generation piss yours away.

Do you remember the day I made you both stop what you were doing to watch Nelson Mandella get out of prison? Barack's election is just as important from a civil rights point of view; but it's more important to me in terms of the policy changes that BO (god, are we gonna call him that?) espouses than about his ethnic background. It's what he's been all about, and that's one reason I am hopeful.

If you looked at the speeches--just the text--of the campaign of 2008, you could tell the color and gender of all the candidates except for Obama. Hillary never failed to mention herself as the female running for president--the glass ceiling, the 18 million women, and so on. McCain and Palin of course have the white codewords embedded in their genes; they don't even have to try to be white. Only Obama was the candidate you wouldn't be sure about--except in a few speeches that were aimed at racial topics. Remember that stunning speech on race that he gave early in the campaign? Best stuff since MKL. But the rest of the time he was the man of ideas, resisting the flow of negativism and ad hominem attacks. He proved that he is a better man inside. Fuck race and gender. It really is about character.

All that being said--watch him. Don't let him turn into another politician. Stay active and alert and educated. He's still a politician and that makes him a suspect. Keep his feet to the fire and keep voting for an enlightened congress. Dennis Kucinish, vegan congressman, was reelected in Ohio. Dennis might still get that impeachment going before W. retires.

I wish Molly Ivins had lived to see this day.
I wish Dr King had been here.
I wish Obama's grandmother had lived to see him win.
I wish my dad had lived to see him win -- it would have killed him.
I wish all the martyrs who died in the civil rights movement had lived.
I wish John Lennon had lived to see this day.
Jimi too.

I wish Al Gore had won in 2000, in which case much of this would have been unnecessary. Oh, wait. Al DID win. Well, you know what I mean.

I'm glad my grandson will never know a time when we didn't have a history of integration in the White House. I'm glad my children grew up wise enough to understand the importance of this election. Fucking radicals--your hippie father is proud of you.

Love

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Do You Think of This New Guy?



Perfect.

Keith Olbermann's Comment on Proposition 8

A direct transcription of the full text of Olbermann's comment on 10 November 2008:




Finally tonight as promised, a special comment on the passage last week of Proposition 8 in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry and tilted the balance on this issue from coast to coast.

Some parameters as preface. This isn't about yelling and this isn't about politics. And this isn't really just about Prop-8.  And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay. I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is. I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting prejudice that still pervades their lives. And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling and this isn't about politics. This is about the human heart. And if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed I have some questions, because truly I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want: a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them 'No. You can't have it on these terms.' Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble.  You'll even give them all the same legal rights, even as you're taking away the legal right which they already had. A world around them still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying 'No, you can't marry.' What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term redefining marriage. If this country hadn't redefined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not redefined marriage, some black people still couldn't marry other black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad history of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property they could not be legally husband and wife nor mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not 'Until Death, Do You Part,' but 'Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.' Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized. You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women forced by society into marrying the opposite sex in sham marriages or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing—centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man could not marry another man, or a woman could not marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the sanctity of marriage rather than render the term meaningless?

What is this to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace that love? The world is barren enough. It is stacked against love and against hope and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us, all of us, to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling.  With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against each other for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your G-d and the universal love you believe he represents? Then spread happiness—this tiny symbolic semantical grain of happiness. Share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

You are asked now, by your country and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand on a question of love. All you need to do is stand and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don't have to help it. You don't have it applaud it. You don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know, that love is in fact the ember of your love for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts too.

This is the second time I have found myself in ten days concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said fits what is really at the heart of all of this. He said:

I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam. This is what he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Good to Be King



This image is for Casey. He has always wanted a philosopher king. And now in Bhutan they have a philosopher king who stops to smell the flowers in the middle of his coronation.

We already know that Casey has a crush on Bhutan's idea of Gross National Happiness. This image of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck should have him teehee-ing like a little girl.

(image from The Big Picture)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

When Religion Goes Too Far



Then again maybe the government should be allowed to restrict some religious expression.

Doppler Politics

I'm following the advice of a friend and feeling pretty damn good about it. His advice: remember they're in a shrinking minority. And what's better than that? They're even in a shrinking majority. There's no denying the movement. Just take a look at this map: further evidence of movement. Prop 8 passed by a margin of 4 points: 52/48. That's only three minds out of a hundred that need to change. 8 years ago Californians passed Proposition 22 defining marriage as heterosexual by a much uglier margin: about 22 points. 61/39. Gaining 18 points in 8 years. We're getting closer. There's a lot of stupid ideas dying.

Indiana hasn't gone Democrat since 1964. It went for Bush by 510,000 votes in 2004. And this is a state that had previously been growing stronger and stronger in it's Republican leaning.

43/37 for incumbent G.H.W. Bush over Clinton in '92.
47/41 for Dole over incumbent Clinton in '96
56/41 for G.W. Bush over quasi-incumbent Gore in '00
59/39 for G. f—ing W. Bush over Kerry in '04.

So Obama's slim win by little over 25,000 is actually much bigger.

We have to feel pretty good about the opportunities of 2010. North Carolina was served the palled-around-with-the-godless argument and they did more than turn away from it. They threw it back at the cook. Nice job moving them around over there, Casey.

Yeah yeah. Minnesota's Michele Bachmann won her congressional district even after her re-Red Scare interview with Chris Matthews. Those cold temperatures can cause temporary brain freeze on even the sturdiest Norwegian. And if we go even further north we get to Alaska. Look what they've been churning out lately. Ted Stevens winning after his felony conviction has part of me saying WTF? and a better part knows that it's embarrassing for Alaska but not for me. There's a warming trend that's going to make it north eventually. A good one. Those aren't only polar bears clinging to the shrinking ice floes out there.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is This Thing Off?

Casey's right. I need to lighten up. (See previous post.) 'Cause really Olbermann is really just gloating and doing the 'We won! Nyeah Nyeah Nyeah' dance. And we've all done it and we haven't hurt anyone.

And really, tuffguys like Limbaugh and O'Reilly can take it.

So I really need to watch this whole sense of humor thing because I'm starting to wobble at the wheels. One minute I'm arguing that humor and snide comments are fine. Necessary even. The next I'm saying they're meaningless and possibly even harmful. What's safe with me?

Well thank the gods that there's a part of me that thinks maybe the jokes just need to be funnier.


I recently ran across this one on a social network from an acquaintance:

To my friends out there​ who do not support Barack Obama,​ I have good news for you. President elect​ Barack Obama has released his first tax cuts, effective Jan 20 2009 the following items​ will be tax exempt.

Water​melon​
Kool-Aid
Grape​ Soda
and Fried​ Chick​en


I could have blamed and said 'You are a racist and you must stop! You are what's wrong with America!' But instead I went with the calm and even tempered and non-judgmental approach.

Is this the best you've got? If you'​re going​ to spread a racist joke at least​ try to find a funny​ one.


And that attempt at even-handed redirection was met with the following.

Sorry​ every​body I was trying to make light​ of a scary​ future. I will try not to ever smile​ again​,​ will that make you happy​?​ What a typical liberal democrat,​ no measureable [sic] sense​ of humor​.


Well the writer obviously missed my point. I'd be happy to see him to smile again. Just not about lame jokes. Laugh. Laugh away. But tell a joke that I haven't heard 255 times from the 4th graders who stumble over passages from the Dick and Jane reader.

And this it got me thinking. I have to admit that my comment was pretty damn pissy. I probably should have just bumped his shoulder and said Aw shucks you got some clever joking there. Or maybe just moved on. Because when it comes to funny I have always argued that you can't argue with laughs. And he got some laughs on the post. No question.

So is it the funny/not funny issue. I think I have a pretty good sense of humor, and I'm pretty hard to offend, and still there are some jokes that I just don't find funny. I mean really. Highlights for Kids has been fucking weak lately. Do I speak up every time I hear a really stupid knock knock joke? No. That'd make me an asshole. Especially since it's stupid little kids telling the stupid little jokes. They'll grow out of it. They'd better. I've got nieces and nephews and I'm kinda getting sick of the act.

And when I'm around adults that tell stupid jokes. I'm not a jerk, rolling my eyes and groaning not...funny... after every lame punchline.

So what the hell is driving me to respond to these joke with disapproval? Have my liberal views in fact killed my sense of humour? Or even a little part of it? And if so, what part?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This Is Not What We Were Hoping For



What's the difference what he said? Really Keith? You have never been the only voice. And you're still not. You know that's how it should be.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Coup de Grâce



It's not because I can't let it go. It's because there has been talk of Palin in 2012. I suppose that does give her enough time to get to a fourth grade level. Yeah. That's not gonna work for me.

Cleanse




I want to believe
In the mercy of the world again
Make it rain
Make it rain

Posted by Alan Taylor at The Big Picture

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This was The New York Times map image that first called the election for Barack Obama. The next map switched California to reflect the expected win. Sometimes what comes next is clear. Sometimes not so clear.

When McCain's crowd goes into its boos I'm reminded that the vote tally doesn't reflect only one side. There are voices that will be determined to speak up more than ever against ideas they oppose. And perhaps they should. But I feel some dismay alongside Shepard Smith who just commented on FOX: The Boos were…disturbing. When does this end?

Mxrk commented nicely on what can come next. But what has been happening and what has ended? As I said in the previous post, whatever has happened has passed. And we probably need to move on from a lot of it. But there are reminders that still…

We are reminded that some issues have to keep moving no matter the outcome of a 'gatekeeping' moment: that is, such an occasion where we see what shall pass.

Neither the passing or failing of a proposition nor the victory or defeat of a candidate silences a movement. Because these are not horse races. We like to call them that. But those lines assume that we loosen our grip and let go. There are still fists in the air blaming a qualified man for not minding his place. And that saddens me.

The Proposition 8 issue is symbolically central to many of my views. I don't support sanctioned marginalization of specific groups and I keep hoping to see that the voters feel the same way. This is a representative government, so those moments when the voters are given an opportunity to directly vote on an issue are fascinating. And scary. What happens if the constitutional limitation of marriage rights fails? Surely a movement to deny rights by other means. And if it passes (which at this hour looks likely)? Well a movement to repeal of course.

So Obama has won. What happens? A lot of people will feel empowered. Wonderful. A lot of people will move past criticism and towards more trust. Some people will focus more on criticism and accountability. That's necessary. What of those who will settle more determinedly into their traditions of disregard for entire groups? We have heard their hissing throughout the campaigns. We have hoped to see their arguments rejected and discounted. And after an election that speaks loudly against those arguments we can only be assured that they will feel the pressure to counter.

But the co-occurrence of competing voices is not division. And the fear that individuals feel for a group is not division. But it leads to division when they are given no assurance that the fear is ill-founded. I could simply hope that my hopes for equality naturally infuse all minds. But despite the religious indoctrination I've slogged thru since childhood, I know that my conviction is not an argument.

Casey has been dedicated to a more staid discourse for a while now—much longer than he's been blogging here. And argue as I did for the value of snaps and dozens I do think a new tone needs to start sounding louder alongside the expressions of ridicule and disbelief. Not to drown it out, but to clarify substance.

Hours later McCain has conceded. The necessary total has been surpassed. So why am I still watching the numbers for Indiana? Why am I hoping my state speaks as my vote did? Why should it matter that Ralph Nader wouldn't back down from his choice of words in saying that Obama can be either Uncle Sam or a corporate Uncle Tom? Why is a friend's comment that these are now the United Socialist States of America so much more frustrating after the election than before?

Because we hope for a defining moment but we don't have one. We are constantly on a verge.

In Summation...

What must we put behind us? Relatively recently the Hartford Courant retracted a series of criticisms that might have been unfair towards one candidate:

One particularly gloomy outburst from Mr. Burleigh predicted the following outcome under your presidency: “Neighbors will become the enemies of neighbors, fathers of their sons, and sons of their fathers. Murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practised, the air will be rent with the cries of distress, the soil soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes.”


See Craig Silverman's post at Regret the Error for more on the paper's change of mind.

I recently had an online discussion with some friends who disagree with me on some issues. But I'm not absolutely sure what those issues are. I offered a criticism of the 'socialist' argument by saying simply that McCain is as much a socialist as is Obama. And by the way, neither candidate is a socialist. My friends offered the view that Democrats unduly reward those who are less willing and less able to contribute to society. I criticized corporations and they agreed. They criticized government efficacy and I agreed. In the end it wasn't that clear where the lines between us were drawn.

One friend said You truly​ are a Liber​al Democ​rat.​ And I responded i am a liberal.​ yep. when it comes​ to civil​ liberties i definitely take the 'liberty' part seriously.

Later today I spoke on the phone with another friend who had just voted for McCain. The only time I got upset was when an argument relied on misrepresentation. Obama didn't 'lament' the Warren Court's lack of financial activism. He didn't say it was a failing that the court didn't redistribute the wealth. The Warren Court was not a radical court. Should Obama be criticized for knowing that and saying it. But these are now old arguments. And up to this point the ranting rhetoric has been geared at ultimately affecting an imminent decision. That decision is now pretty much made. So for just a moment we look back.

Throw away all the false arguments. Did you still support McCain? I can respect that. We all voted for the statement we wanted to make.

So my next statement. I'll publish a retraction right now. Mr McCain, I'm sorry that I recently posted an image of such a dismissive and disrespectful expression. I may have lost respect for your campaign but I don't have to be a jerk too.

Well I'm not taking it down, but I will take it back.

Monday, November 3, 2008

1st Amendment Prohibits 'BOO'?

At The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog, Dan Slater provides the following quote from Sarah Palin:

If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.


What is the censorship by intimidation that Palin sees looming on the horizon?

The media’s suggestions that it’s going negative may threaten a candidate’s free speech rights under the Constitution, she said.


Does she really think that the First Amendment is about not being afraid? Is it freedom from fear that free speech promises? That's not how I read it. How does the Alaska Constitution see it? According the an update on Slater's post:

§5. Freedom of Speech: Every person may freely speak, write, and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right.


These abuses might be illegal abuses like fraud. They might be legal abuses like bad jokes. You might end up in jail or you might lose an election.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

From my house I can see Belgium!



Fake Sarkozy: We have the equivalent of Joe the plumber in France. It's called Marcel the Guy with bread under his armpit.

Real Palin: Right. That's what it's all about. It's the middle class and government needing to work for them. You're a very good example for us here.


Look -- if your system can't weed out crank calls to make sure that it really is a head of state that you're speaking with…

Come on. This joke's gone on long enough. Let's get to the punchline already. Two days…

Thursday, October 30, 2008

For the Glory of Satan



This is a fantastic combination of the satirical and the serious.

And 2 or 3 of my readers might agree that the huffer looks like someone we know -- think 'do you want to get some money for your old textbooks?'

(via Mr Verb)

Et Tu Fox?




Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher: I just wanna push it back on your listeners to go back there and find out why I would…you know…agree to something like that.


We know why. Because he's clueless and shameless.

Shepard Smith puts Joe in the spotlight effectively. Wurzelbacher's own comments show how little he knows and how little he can contribute to intelligent debate.

No more discussion of Joe here. Because he started off irrelevant. And he just gets more and more so.

You're All Joe the Plumber!



Joe? Joe the Plumber? Hello?

So all of you stand up and say...

Stand up and say what? That an Obama presidency will spell the death of Israel and there's no need to support that with any evidence whatsoever? Cause that's what Joe the Plumber likes to say.

(video on next post)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Not To Choose pt 2

No pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist church has to bless the marriage of a member with a non-member. I disagree with the refusal. It is founded on a view of insularity that I don't share and it does little to strengthen marriage, even less to benefit the culture. But it's a policy based on a view of marriage that the government has no reason to challenge or affirm. The stance and practice need not be addressed by the state. The constitution stays silent on this topic and it should remain silent.

Here's the entire text of California's Proposition 8 (found here). The text is an important factor in evaluating Ron Osborn's argument for abstention from a vote.

PROPOSITION 8

This initiative measure is submitted to the people in accordance with the
provisions of Article II, Section 8, of the California Constitution.
This initiative measure expressly amends the California Constitution by
adding a section thereto; therefore, new provisions proposed to be added are
printed in italic type to indicate that they are new.
SECTION 1. Title
This measure shall be known and may be cited as the "California Marriage
Protection Act."
SECTION 2. Section 7.5 is added to Article I of the California Constitution,
to read:
SEC. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized
in California.


Distilling Osborn's argument to its basics:

  1. He supports, without reservation, the civil and human rights of same-sex couples.

  2. He does not support the right to state affirmation recognition or sanctioning or codifying or categorization or validation of sexual identity.

  3. He believes government must not limit the right of religious communities to preserve and label their institutions.


In his view:
Voting “Yes” violates #1 and #2.
Voting “No” violates #2 and #3.

Such a violation by a “No” vote relies on Osborn's argument that the vote not to approve the proposal is a legislative overriding of traditional cultural and religious norms. In fact such a vote is stopping the legislative branch from making any such statement in favor of or against those norms.

Osborn's next concern is that the lack of limitation of the word marriage is necessarily an avowedly 'secular' redefinition. In fact it's not a definition at all. It's a refusal to define. It's an acknowledgment that a word may be defined by many groups in many ways. Still he suggests that we let this language be something other than the language religious traditions have long claimed as their own.

Even if we agree that religious communities use these labels with certain limitations there is no encroachment on the rights of those communities to say that the government shouldn't impose those same limits. And tho Osborn can't abide by government redefinition of the word marriage, he doesn't explain how a refusal to define is a redefinition. A 'No' vote doesn't redefine the word and he should be fine with that. But even if the state did allow a group to use a new definition of the word, there is no religious right to un-contradicted use of a word. In the Seventh-day Adventist religion the word baptism refers to full immersion under the water. Just today in my office a colleague was insisting that full immersion as a cleansing of sin in his religion would have to be called something else. This difference of terminology is acceptable. And should the government have any say over what is not allowed to be called a baptism? Of course not. And not even if the government was to recognize certain rights that corresponded to a religious rite of passage.

Unless we want to get into patent law the government has no business regulating such basic language use. Setting apart a word like marriage as sacred is not the government's business. The most generous reading of the bill is that it allows the government to grant equal rights to heterosexual and homosexual unions but it denies homosexual unions the right of a label.

Osborn argues that refusal to vote is a creative way to avoid being trapped in the false dichotomies of America’s culture wars. It's a valid way but it's certainly not creative. He suggests that the reasons for refusal are important. I agree. But I have to point out that the argument as he presents it is not a false dichotomy. There are decisions that truly are either for or against. And in this case the vote is not between the government should say A or B. If so, Osborn could claim a false dichotomy because the option would be available that the govt should say neither: that perhaps the government should stay silent. But here the choice is government should say A or should not say A. We can argue later whether there is something else the gov't should say but it is fair to vote on whether or not the government should say at this point that marriage is only between man and woman. For the government to say so takes away a right. A right that so far when investigated has only been objected to either on religious grounds or based on an unwillingness to respect equal rights.

But we can't simply move on from one point. In so many of these arguments it is assumed that any definition of marriage that includes same-sex unions is a definition that disregards religion. But this overlooks a very important point: that some religions would use this freedom to use marriage to identify unions between individuals of the same sex. If this proposal were to pass, every religion would be denied the right to recognize these unions as marriages. Proposal 8 limits the right of all religions.

As Osborn suggests towards the end of his argument, government should remain neutral on the issue and view homosexual and heterosexual couples the same. A vote against Proposition 8 is the first step to take towards that. If he wants to make sure that the state doesn't itself use marriage as a label for any union, he should vote to keep the constitution from doing just that. It's not a vote to make any statement of affirmation to any couple or to extend any further power to the government.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pilot

By Cardow - The Ottawa Citizen


10/28/2008


Now just to keep Casey happy -- If we're going to accept this analogy, I realize that it can be extended even further to say that even if Obama is an ace pilot the plane is gonna crash.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Not To Choose

On October 23 Ron Osborn posted on the Spectrum Blog an argument for abstention from California's Proposition 8 vote. He has recently posted an apology for the accidental deletion of the post and all ensuing discussion. I include here the text of his original piece.



This I Vote: Why I Don't Plan to Vote on Prop.8


by Ron Osborn

According to a poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California, Proposition 8, which would amend California’s Constitution to disallow same-sex marriage, is likely to be defeated on November 4. The Church State Council tells us that if this should happen our religious liberties will be imperiled. According to Adventists Against Proposition 8, the real threat to religious liberty lies in the attempt by religiously motivated groups to enforce their own theological understandings on others in the secular political realm. It seems increasingly clear to me, however, that for Adventists there can be no winning side in this debate. On November 4, I plan to abstain from voting either for or against Proposition 8. In the event that it is of any interest or use to others, here are the reasons why I have come to this decision:

1. I fully support, without reservation, the civil and human rights of same-sex couples, including equal tax benefits, the right to adoption, healthcare, etc; however,

2. I do not believe that it is a civil or human right to have one's private sexual identity affirmed or recognized or sanctioned or sanctified or codified or categorized or validated by the state; and,

3. I also believe it is necessary to preserve the right of religious communities to have their own distinctive institutions—and distinctive words to describe these institutions—without encroachment by the government.

A “No” vote on Proposition 8 seems to me to violate both numbers 2 and 3 above. The word "marriage" for most people in America continues to invoke not only a legal status but also a particular set of historical, cultural, and religious understandings (including the view that marriage within our society ought to be restricted to two persons). In this perspective, legislative overriding of traditional cultural and religious norms and redefinition of the word along more avowedly “secular” lines marks a troubling encroachment of the state into matters it knows not whereof.

A “Yes” vote on Proposition 8, however, seems to me to violate both numbers 1 and 2 above. As long as non-religious heterosexual marriages are recognized by the state without controversy, religious communities have no basis for objecting to legalized same-sex “marriage” on religious grounds. In this perspective, legislative imposition of traditional cultural and religious understandings on non-believers—or upon believers with different beliefs—marks a troubling encroachment of the state into matters it knows not whereof.

How, then, to cut the Gordian knot? If we truly support separation of church and state, I submit, we should be agitating not for the collapsing of civil and theological understandings of “marriage”, as both pro and contra positions do in their own ways, but for two distinct institutions: 1) “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships”, which would be the only unions recognized by the state and would be exactly the same for all couples, regardless of their genders; and 2) marriage as a theological sacrament, which would involve different restrictions, meanings, and obligations depending on the theological understandings and beliefs of different religious communities.

Let the state be truly neutral in its language, let this language be the same for heterosexual and same-sex couples alike, and let this language be something other than the language religious traditions have long claimed as their own. Religious communities can then work out for themselves how inclusive or exclusive their particular belief systems can be on the question of same-sex marriage.

This position is not, of course, an option on this year’s ballot, and many Adventists will feel compelled to vote either for or against Proposition 8 on the basis of what they think is the lesser evil. I respect their personal decisions. Conscientious refusal to vote can, however, also be a creative and responsible political action, particularly if one shares one’s reasons for abstaining with others. And on some issues the most compelling witness Adventists can still make in the political realm, I would argue, is to refuse to be trapped in the false dichotomies of America’s culture wars.





I will respond in a later post.