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 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.


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:

  • (Steve Hildebrand)

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: 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'ĂȘtre 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.


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.