Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dueling billboards

Back in April I wrote about Central United Methodist Church of Toledo put up a billboard saying "Being Gay is a Gift from God."

Rev. Tony Scott of the Church on Strayer, a megachurch in Maumee, has put up nine billboards in rebuttal, saying, "Being Gay is Not a gift from God. Forgiveness, Love & Eternal Live are." He did it because, you know, he loves us. "I love them too much to let someone believe a lie."

Sure. If he loved us, he'd get to know us.

One commenter wonders if the billboard is edible or will keep someone warm.

Conservatives hate democracy

And they're saying it out loud. Voting should be limited to the "job creators," not the "moochers" and "parasites." Some of the things being said recently:

Democracy is "like handing out burglary tools to criminals."

"Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor. It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money."

"I find democracy and majority rule a contemptible form of government."

That is the underpinning of the GOP war on voting. As for the ever present GOP filibuster, Hannah Arendt has observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.

Please don't speak for us

The hot political phrase at the moment is "job creators." All the political animals, especially the GOP types, have been spouting what they're sure the small companies that create jobs really need to make the economy grow. That includes the silly claim that "job creators ... are 'on strike' and are not hiring because of too many government regulations."

Actual job creators are annoyed at what is being said in their name.

The GOP, of course, is saying what big corporations want them to say and then claiming that is what small business wants.

Here's what small business want:

To be committed to and create value for the community.

To have access to capital to grow their business. The GOP cut the Small Business Administration lending program and Boehner dismissed the idea of cutting taxes for small business.

To have sound local banks they can turn to.

To get Obama's American Jobs Act passed.

This is the infrastructure to update

Jeremy Rifkin has written a new book on energy and the environment titled The Third Industrial Revolution. I caught him on the Diane Rehm show where he talked about the major points. I rarely listen to a show, but the car radio came on and the first words were about environment and energy. So I kept listening.

The first industrial revolution in the 19th Century was built on coal and steam. The second was built on oil and facilitated by the telephone, computer, and mass communication.

The problem is we're reaching limits of growth on oil. There has been much discussion of "peak oil" which means after a particular time the amount of oil extracted from the ground diminishes, meaning we slowly run out. Some people feel we should be hitting peak oil any day now (and others dismiss this idea).

But oil per capita reached a peak back in 1979. Oil production has increased, but population has grown faster. Oil consumption and oil prices are to the point where they can choke economic development.

But in the same way that one steam turbine used to drive all the machines in a plant (Greenfield Village has examples) became tools each with its own motor, and in the same way that we've moved from giant central computers to a PC on each desk and smartphones in pockets, we will move to distributive energy production. In the last 2 years Europe has made big strides in this area.

This is the Third Industrial Revolution. It is built on 5 pillars.

1. The EU has mandated 20% renewable energy for each country by 2020. Germany has already reached it. Giant wind farms are great but…

2. Renewable energy, in some form, is available almost everywhere man lives. Buildings are the big cause of climate change. Pair them up. Every building should have its own way to tap the sun on its roof and the breezes that blow past, even the heat in the ground. Installation is paid for through partnerships with energy companies. A small tax on all bills to get early adopters going. The extra energy they create is sold back to the grid. Since the owner pays a lower bill the energy company knows the owner is good for a loan with payments smaller than the monetary savings. The labor force to do all this conversion is a boost to the economy.

3. The sun doesn't always shine, the wind doesn't always blow. A way to store the energy is needed. It appears the most efficient way to do this is use electricity to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, then generate electricity by recombining the two (go ask a physics major for details).

4. Use smart appliances connected to a smart grid to monitor and adjust the amount and timing of energy use.

5. Plug-in cars. They should be mass-marketed by 2014. We'll need places to plug them in.

When some people talk of our infrastructure needing updates, this is what they're talking about. Yeah, we need roads repaved and bridges rebuilt. But a green energy infrastructure is more important.

Rifkin says that nuclear energy is about over. Most reactors are old. We can't replace them -- and build enough more to make a difference -- fast enough. Second problem is that we've never figured out how to deal with the waste. Third, we don't have enough water to cool that many reactors without causing environmental damage.

Existing energy companies have a lot of lobbying power. But those can be matched by the power of a combination of green energy companies, construction companies, and information companies (for the smart grid) plus a few more. Existing energy companies change to manage the electrical grid and then teach companies how to be more energy efficient.

Obama wants a green energy economy. However, he hasn't yet put together a coherent, unified plan to get us there. Developing countries might leapfrog us. Many never took part in the first and second industrial revolutions and don't have powerbrokers from those legacy systems to slow them down as they jump into the third revolution.

There are powerful people against all this. What do we do? Start city by city, state by state. Explain why it is important.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A right to vote

Pam Fessler of NPR reported on Morning Edition today about a troubling aspect of city and county governments not having enough money. They won't be able to properly fund elections. The smaller budgets affect such things as how many polling places are open, how many voting machines are available, and how many workers are hired to staff them. Any of those three could mean that next year voters have to drive farther to vote and wait in longer lines once they get there. It could also mean absentee ballots don't get sent out and registrations not processed. And those fancy voter machines purchased back in 2000 are proving to be high in maintenance or are about at the end of their lifespan (which, to me, is good because they could easily produce fraudulent results, but there may not be money for replacements).

Doug Lewis runs The Election Center, a national association of election officials. He said, "If they cut your budget 20 percent, which 20 percent of the voters do they not want to vote? I mean, this is where we are."

I have a very good idea which 20 percent the GOP doesn't want to vote.

Essayist Terrence Heath expands on something Jessie Jackson Jr. has noticed. The Constitution does not contain an explicit right to vote. What it does say is there shall be no governmental discrimination. But who gets to vote was left to the states -- and we saw how well that worked.

Jackson has proposed a solution -- a Constitutional amendment saying all citizens the age of 18 and over have the right to vote. Congress may enact regulations that are narrowly designed to promote efficiency and honesty. This is H.J. Res. 28.

So ask your Congresscritters to support it. And raise a ruckus if they don't.

Heath expands on the case of a GOP debate audience booing a gay soldier with none of the candidates condemning it. Most candidates fall over each other to say how much they support the troops, but Heath lists the many ways the GOP over the last decade hasn't supported the troops. Here is a partial list.

* Send troops to invade a country under false pretenses, with insufficient numbers, ammunition, and armor.
* Lose track of weapons.
* Waste billions on contractors.
* Prevent soldiers from leaving at the end of enlistments and send them overseas for missions that are too long and too frequent, causing suicides from stress.
* Cut veteran benefits.

In response to the booing and also an earlier debate when the audience cheered an example of a death because of no health insurance, Ana Marie Cox notes "Republican debate audiences have thus far shown themselves to be in favor of both government cruelty and personal vengeance."

A third essay by Heath expands on the video I linked to in which Elizabeth Warren gives a response to "class warfare." He adds it is good to hear Obama talk about it as well. Obama said, "Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs? Right now, we can’t afford to do both."

Warren's video went viral because most Americans (except the Tea Party) are hungry for these words. In spite our fa├žade of rugged individualism we help each other. The story of the "self-made" American, as Warren put it, is a myth. We built this country together and we'll solve its problems together.

Blogger Richard Eskow has seen Obama take up the message of America as a group effort, one that most Americans are desperate to hear. But, Eskow says, that puts Obama in a bind. The policies he is promoting have been stigmatized by party elites (and I'm sure Eskow includes Democratic Party elites). So Obama can proceed with the support of the voters or the backing of the rich who are funding both parties and who label right-wing goals as "bipartisan". There is no third way.

Voters will back Obama -- if they believe he really means it this time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Applying standards

Rachel Held Evans, an evangelical Christian, had heard how important it was to practice "Biblical womanhood." What does that mean? Everyone she asked had a different answer. So she spent a year trying to follow every commandment of womanhood in the Bible. She kept a blog, which will be a book next year.

Yes, this is the female side of the book A Year of Living Biblically that came out a few years ago.

Her conclusion, expressed on All Things Considered:
"We're all selective in how we interpret and apply the Bible to our lives — even evangelical Christians, whether they like to admit it or not. So what I have found is that any time you think you have found a sort of blueprint or standard for biblical womanhood, a woman in scripture comes along and is praised for breaking it."
And from her FAQ:
One of my goals in taking on a year of biblical womanhood is to encourage Christian women to cut themselves and one another some slack because none of us are practicing biblical womanhood 100%! We’re all selective!

Throughout the experiment I've encountered heartbreaking stories from women who have been abused in the name of "submission"...not to mention several troubling passages of Scripture that are difficult for me to swallow as a woman.
I took a look at her blog. As part of it she and her readers have done a series of interviews with people of a variety of faiths -- Catholic, Mennonite, Calvin -- and even an atheist. It appears Evans introduces the person to her readers and allows them to ask questions. That person writes up the answers for a later blog posting.

One of those interviews (just last week!) is with a gay Christian -- he even writes for He is Justin Lee. I found him to be thoughtful and thorough with his answers and worth reading more of what he writes.

As part of a longer answer he said this about the Biblical passages that appear to condemn homosexuality:
In the end, I decided that I needed to be consistent in my approach to the Bible: whatever standards I used for deciding this needed to be the same standards I would take to other issues. … The more I studied, the more convinced I became that we Christians had applied a different standard to the homosexuality texts than we had to other Scriptural texts, and that condemning Christ-centered relationships solely based on gender was actually inconsistent with biblical teaching.
Another posting in Evans' blog is the entry Discussing the Bible: Seven Rules of Engagement. Here are a couple of them:
1) I won't question your commitment to the Bible just because you interpret it differently than I do.
2) I won’t use the Bible as a proof-texting weapon of mass destruction

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Patriotism has its limits

Forbes Magazine published its annual list of the richest 400 people in America. Bill Gates topped the list again. The Koch brothers and three Walton (Wal-Mart) heirs are in the top 10. The view from on top is: What recession? Most of them made money last year -- 12% on average. These 400 have $1.5 trillion at their disposal.

At a recent GOP prez. debate the candidates took questions posed to them through YouTube. One of the questions came from Stephen Hill, a gay soldier in Iraq. He asked, "[D]o you intend to circumvent progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?" A few people in the audience booed. Santorum got the question and essentially said of course he will. This generated a great deal of talk on gay news blogs because (1) none of the candidates gave any indication that booing was inappropriate, (2) Santorum didn't thank the soldier for his service, (3) it was a full day before Santorum said anything about the booing (he claimed he didn't hear it), (4) the continued silence of the other candidates indicates their approval. Strange, they weren't falling over each other to thank the soldier, even later. Patriotism has its limits. Imagine if, during a Dem debate, a soldier was booed.

Elizabeth Warren set up the Consumer Protection Agency, but the GOP blocked her from running it. She has since announced her candidacy for the Mass. senate seat Scott Brown holds (and Ted Kennedy held). In this video she takes on the "class warfare" claim that John Boehner and other GOP members began spouting when Obama announced his Warren Buffet Rule that the rich should pay a tax rate higher than the average middle class rate. It is 2 minutes long.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Take advantage of regulations

The GOP has been yelling for a while now that the big bogeyman of the economy is (other than their taxes being too high) is to much regulation. They say this by pointing out the burden such regulation has on small businesses. It seems that the regulations that get the most noise are in banking, labor, and health care.

When one actually asks small business owners whether eliminating regulations would make their businesses boom, the answer is no. What they need is customers. Besides, sound banking regulations (for example) properly enforced would have prevented the current mess.

The list of most odious regulations does affect small businesses -- a bit -- but affect big corporations even more. Sounds like bait and switch.

Those big corporations are sitting on piles of cash. They could look at all these regulations, the ones mentioned above and others on environment protection, and seize the opportunity to innovate and stimulate the economy. Alas, too many like the status quo (with them on top).

PBS NewsHour has a pie chart showing the wealth distribution of the United States and the income distribution of Sweden. They're not comparing the same thing, though it is a visual reminder of how out of balance we are here.

Capable of serving the greater good

I hope you've heard about the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell a couple days ago (though if you watch Fox News, maybe you didn't). Jim Burroway notes we are now free of legally approved governmental investigations into our love lives. Sure, we don't have equality yet -- no marriage equality, no adoption rights, no job protections -- but we no longer face investigations because of who we are.

As a sign of the end of the military ban, a marine recruiter set up a booth at the gay community center in Tulsa. He talked to a handful of lesbians.

Nathaniel Frank, writing in Huffington Post Politics, comments on the end of DADT.
That's why the right wing fixated on gays in the military -- because if the world could see that gay men and women were proud, effective warriors, and were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country, it would shatter the careful apparatus of myths they'd spent generations creating, the fiction that said gay people were only interested in their own pleasure and not, in equal parts to everyone else, in the noble effort to serve the greater good. It would shatter the myth that gay people are incapable of self-sacrifice and unworthy of first-class citizenship.
Frank goes on to say our work isn't done yet. Savor the victory and get back to work.

Big Bad Bullies?

When the anti-gay crowd had to defend their gay marriage ban in Calif. court a lot of their witnesses didn't show up. The claimed it was because if they testified the big bad gay bullies would beat them up. The real reason was because their arguments were so flimsy they didn't want to be cross-examined in court.

Earlier this week was a staged reading of a play based on the transcripts of the trial and written by Dustin Lance Black, the guy who wrote the Milk screenplay. An A-list of actors lent a hand. It was a powerful evening of fine drama. There were, of course, lots of gay people in the audience. And one noteworthy person -- Maggie Gallagher, Board Chair of the National Organization for Marriage, a driving force behind the campaign to ban gay marriage in Calif. She was even portrayed on stage that evening. But one would think she would be afraid an auditorium full of big bad gay bullies. Not at all. We welcome everyone. Including Maggie. And she knows it.

A commenter noted that all the top anti-gay people -- Maggie, Tony Perkins, Don Wildmon, Gary Glenn, Robert George, Brian Brown, etc. -- walk around without bodyguards. So much for the scary big bad gay bullies.

Since the play Maggie has stepped down as Board Chair of NOM. Her replacement, of course, doesn't look any better.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Participatory government

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was the guest on the NPR show On Point this evening. The invitation to the show came because Breyer's book Making Our Democracy Work; A Judge's View has just been published in paperback. The conversation (the recording is about 52 minutes) was about these basic ideas:

* There is a respect for and confidence in the institution (no one rioted after Bush v. Gore) and we need to maintain that respect and confidence.

* Yes, the Supremes sometimes get it wrong. The Dred Scott case is perhaps the worst example. Over time the bad ones get overruled.

* The values in the Constitution are timeless. The world we live in changes every five minutes. It is difficult to figure out how those values fit in the changing world.

* Democracy is a participatory government. We must participate. We must listen to the ideas of the other 308 million Americans and do our best to explain our ideas.

* The book was written to explain what the Supremes do. That should be taught in high school civics class (and was when I was a senior).

The website has transcripts of parts of the show. There is also an excerpt from the book.

Insurance hassles resolved

I was able to switch insurance companies today. The process got complicated. One agent I worked with represented four companies. One I previously rejected because of its political donations. Another one was rated poorly by J.D Power (I know them well from their ratings of cars). The other two, highly rated, refused to insure me for basement flooding because it has just flooded. I talked to an agent recommended by a friend (thank you, friend!). The basement flood was not an issue. The rates were a bit higher than the companies I rejected, but half of what I'm paying now.

I called the agent of my previous policy to say I'm canceling. She said, fine, the form to sign will go in the mail. She did not ask why I was canceling.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Insurance and justice

Because of my basement flood last month I'm looking for a new insurance company for house and car. The quotes I've seen so far show I could save about $800 a year.

A while back I used my dad's subscription of Consumers Reports for recommendations for good agents. I already had a feeling my rates were high. Two of the companies referred me to the same agent nearby. I also contacted the member's agent through my credit union. Both of them gave me quotes from a company here in Michigan. That one was not mentioned by Consumers Report and both agents suggested I look at the company website and its testimonials. I dismissed that idea. If it is on the corporate website it is, of course, glowing and thus meaningless. That prompted me to Google the company name and the third link Google supplied was to a site that allows customers to report what they consider corporate rip-offs. Again, the actual content may be meaningless -- somebody, either customer or claims agent, was having a bad day.

Another customer's comments on that site implied the company had made a sizeable donation to the election of the Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. Though the Supremes appear on the ballot as non-partisan, they are nominated by the parties. The current collection has been described as hyper-partisan with the GOP holding a one-vote advantage. The Chief Justice has done a lot that strongly favors the GOP, who nominated him.

So I Googled campaign donations in Michigan and found the Secretary of State Campaign Donation search engine. Yup, back in 2008 this insurance company (or a PAC at the same address) gave a $10K donation to the Chief Justice. And immediately under that one was a $10K donation from the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents. A bit farther down the list are two more donations. This insurance company donated a total of $25K.

Two conclusions: (1) I will be avoiding that insurance company. (2) This is confirmation that justice in Michigan will not support the common person

I'll give you a fight

Andrew Breitbart is a GOP provocateur (involved in the Anthony Weiner, Shirley Sherrod, and ACORN scandals) and Tea Party darling. His latest bit of craziness happened at a Tea Party function. He taunted liberals, even inviting them to take the first shot in a civil war. No problem for him, there are more Tea Party people than liberals (he claims) and besides, the military appreciates what he is doing and is ready to back him up.

Penn Bullock, of the blog Towleroad, wrote:
On the face of it, Breitbart's admission demands a congressional or criminal investigation. If he's implying that military officials have pledged their armed support to him and the right-wing, those officials are guilty of treason. If Breitbart is lying, he's diagnosable.

No, really, fraud is a problem

Guy Raz did an 11 minute segment on All Things Considered on NPR yesterday discussing voter fraud prevention. The piece included an interview with the GOP Secretary of State of Kansas, Kris Kobach. He says fraud may be rare, but that's not the point. In battleground states the tiny amount of voter fraud can still account for more votes than the difference between the two candidates. Dems say that efforts to combat fraud actually prevent poor, college students, and other likely Dem voters from being able to vote. The GOP says that government issued ID cards (the lack of one is the most common ways to prevent citizens from voting) are free. Dems counter that the court costs to document citizenship necessary to get one of those cards is actually quite expensive.

Friday, September 16, 2011

About that atheists in foxholes thing…

Amanda Marcotte of AlterNet debunks 10 myths many religious people have about atheists.

1. There are no atheists in foxholes. This irritates atheists because it makes a virtue of preying on people's moments of pain. Religion doesn't always offer comfort, especially with a threat of Hell hanging over their heads.

2. Atheists are angry with God. No, they're angry at pushy believers.

3. Atheists are rude. Atheist ideas are more disturbing to believers than believer's ideas are to an atheist so the atheist gets a reputation for being rude.

4. Atheism is a white dude thing. Since many religions approve of the oppression of women there are lots of women who appreciate arguments against the legitimacy of their oppressors.

5. Atheism is just another faith. Most religious people disbelieve all faiths but their own. Atheism just completes the circle.

6. Atheists have no moral code. Religious people recognize when one of their own -- such as person saying God told him to do a nasty deed -- is acting immorally. That shows there is a root of morality outside of religion.

7. Atheist lives are bleak and lack meaning. Living under the threat of Hell is better? Atheists make the best of this life. They don't wait for the next one.

8. Atheists are hedonists and don't know true love. The people saying this are the ones who separated sex from love, have many crippling phobias about sexual fulfillment and love are exclusive, and have higher divorce rates.

9. With no afterlife atheists can't cope when they lose a loved one. This argument seems to be made by religious predators waiting for a grieving atheist.

10. Atheists are out to destroy Christmas. Actually, with a bit of tweaking Christmas can be a fine secular holiday. And atheists will celebrate it in a way that is fun for them.

No, I'm not proclaiming myself to be an atheist. I firmly believe my religion calls me to build community with everyone. Each of these 10 points shows a way religious people are doing all they can to break community with an atheist. We should learn from this how to love them instead.

Because God is going to punish you

Rick Perry was pummeled during Monday's debate (sponsored by the Tea Party) because as Tex. Gov. he ordered girls in Tex. schools to be vaccinated against HPV. This is the virus that causes cervical cancer in women and anal cancer in men.

If both the man and woman waited until marriage to have sex and never strayed from the marriage bed this vaccine would not be necessary. So a lot of Fundies disapprove of the vaccine's use because they want to make sure that people are punished for their immoral behavior and cancer can serve as that punishment. Note that such punishment should still hold if the person with cancer was not the philanderer or was raped.

For those with long memories, the same argument was made about syphilis over 100 years ago. Many thought it immoral to search for a cure or vaccine for that disease.

So withholding the vaccine allows Fundies to holler that sex before marriage can kill you, so you better behave. We know how well that works.

Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin notes that as the general public accepts the vaccine and Fundies refuse it, the only people who will get cervical cancer are Fundies.

Teachers and firefighters did what?

Paul Begala in Newsweek has an opinion piece in praise of government, the same institutions that the GOP is trying to destroy. Government has: put out Texas wildfires (in spite of slashed budgets); freed slaves; defeated Hitler; created the Interstate Highway System; put men on the moon; created the internet (under Al Gore's leadership); keeps our air clean, water drinkable, and food edible; and bailed out Wall Street. Not enough (or improperly applied) government got us into the mess where Wall Street needed a bailout; allowed the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to happen; and resulted in deaths at a West Virginia mine.

Teachers, firefighters, nurses, and cops did not cause the recession, massive layoffs, and a record deficit. Yet, they and government remain the villain. Why is the media distorting the story? Why are Democrats silent?

Later in the same edition Newsweek has a few more articles about government. If Washington isn't going to do it, state and local efforts will have to step in to do what they can. The highlighted efforts are:

John Fetterman who, as Mayor of Braddock, PA, made a big dent in the homicide rate.

Lauren Abramson took an idea from the Maori of New Zealand to create community circles in Baltimore. These bring together perpetrators of petty crimes with their victims. The goal is to discuss the incident and then create suitable restitution to restore the perpetrator to the community -- and keep the person out of jail.

Simon Hauger, a West Philadelphia High School math teacher started an after-school program in math and science. His program did so well that back in 2002 the kids created their own hybrid-electric car and won a competition that included teams from MIT and private corporations. Hauger has now started his own project-based learning school, in which students are given a major problem -- design a solar charging station -- and teachers lead students through interdisciplinary exercises to allow them to learn enough to tackle the problem.

Zack Rosenburg and Liz McCartney who went to help with Katrina cleanup and stayed. Their organization now leads the way in methods to speed house construction with lower costs.

Brooke Richie is a lawyer who trains teens in laws important to that age, such as how a homeless teen can find public housing, how a teen mother can get child care subsidies, how a teen can get a state ID to be able to work. The teens then set up in community centers and libraries to offer free advice to peers. These are things teens wouldn't talk to adults about and wouldn't be able to pay for the advice.

David Berwick, a doctor, came up with a program so that doctors have incentives to keep their patients well rather than get paid simply for doing lots of tests. The doctors got a nice bonus and Medicare saved a lot of money.

There were more articles about how to fix the country. I didn't bother reading it because no matter how valid the idea the GOP won't go for it.

A hole this deep

There have been lots of stories of gay youth being bullied by straight kids. But what about straight kids bullied by gays? That's a vital question by all those adults who say they are being bullied by the Homosexual Agenda. So, here's a list of all those straight kids bulled so much by gay kids they commit suicide. You guessed right, the list is empty. The site conveniently provides the sound of crickets.

Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire, the one gay marriage advocates in the state considered their best hope to stop a possible GOP attempt to repeal gay marriage in the state, has announced he isn't seeking another term. He will be gone next November.

Michael Thornton of AlterNet lists 11 reasons why the unemployment crisis is worse than mass media would lead you to believe. Much of it goes into technical details of how jobs numbers are misreported, so if you like that kind of thing, dig in. For the rest of us, a summary. An unemployment rate of 9.1% is only a small part of the story. Add in those who have stopped looking, who are underemployed (in a part time job), who recently graduated and so don't qualify for unemployment benefits, and who immigrated. The total of nearly 17 million hurting workers (plus their families) means we should increase the number of jobs by 280,000 every month for five years to close the gap. Last month the increase was zero. A hole this deep cannot be handled by only a free market.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Same-sex marriage became legal in Hew Hampshire in January of 2010. Now that the GOP controls both chambers of the state legislature (apparently by veto-proof majorities) they are pulling GOP stunts. A House Judiciary panel approved a bill that would repeal same-sex marriage in the state. Gay couples already married would stay married, but after enactment only straight couples could get married. Gay couples would be allowed to have a civil union. The full House can't vote on it until 2012 (but that's only 4 months away).

If the bill passes both chambers Gov. Lynch (D) will veto it. There is speculation that once he does there is just enough reticence among enough GOP members they won't try for an override.

The amendment in North Carolina is somewhat expected, given how homophobic the South is. But this is New Hampshire! With this tiny vote (only 4 people on that panel) I have a very strong feeling the GOP is blatantly saying:
We're in charge. We're supposed to be in charge. We're going to remake society to suit our beliefs whether a majority likes it or not. We don't care what you think. We don't care about the consequences. We don't care who is hurt. And there's not a damn thing you can do about it. We have the power and you don't.

Friends? Enemies?

When I reported the North Carolina House changed the date of the vote on the marriage amendment from November to May I speculated it was because it would draw out more Fundie voters who were also voting on a prez. primary and fewer Dem voters because Obama is unopposed. I was half right. The other half is part of the stated reason to make the vote less political. Yes, it would mean the general election vote wouldn't be politicized over gay marriage. But it was also moved to attract Democrat lawmaker votes to the amendment who didn't want to spoil Obama's chances with an issue that draws out Fundies. That means, yes indeedie, the amendment got Dem votes. It would not have passed the Senate without some of those votes.

I had to think about that for a moment. It means the NC GOP hates gays so much they were willing to increase the chance that NC would go for Obama in 2012.

Contrast that with…

Back in 1992 the GOP Party in Oregon tried to amend the state constitution to say no money could be spent to "promote, encourage or facilitate homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism, or masochism." They put us in such fine company. The amendment attracted some loony supporters who went over the top. It blew up in the face of the Oregon GOP and they have been losing ground in the state ever since. They've been trying to distance themselves from the Fundies, but once tainted, the stain is hard to wash out

The Oregon GOP just had a convention and they are trying to show they are more moderate. Today they voted to remove some of the anti-gay planks from the party platform. It no longer condemns same-sex marriage and civil unions. The statement that gays and lesbians were unfit parents is gone. It still says they support man-woman marriage and try to dodge that by saying the state constitution says it too.

Ready to vote GOP in Oregon? Most of the comments said: not a chance. As long as the national GOP Party does what it just did in NC (could be why that taint of association lingers) -- and as long as that last anti-gay plank remains -- this crowd won't vote GOP.

One commenter said, "Too little too late." That prompted Timothy Kincaid to say:
I demand you change your horrible rhetoric and get rid of your homophobic policies!!!!

Oh, ya know, they really are kinda bad. Okay, we’ll change.

It’s TOO LATE. I will never forgive you for having had horrible rhetoric and homophobic policies!!!!

Care for some grapes? They’re sour.
Alas, the "too little" part remains.

A while back I deleted the "draft" postings in this blog. With those gone I hit 1500 postings yesterday.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Goodbye to snail mail

I wrote a couple days ago about the desire of the GOP to get rid of the National Weather Service. They might succeed first with another venerable and much older part of government, the United States Postal Service.

I've heard a lot in the news about the USPS about to run out of money and wondering why Congress doesn't allow them to raise their rates (well, yeah, the GOP in the House…). But it appears the fatal stab wound was struck in 2006. According to Kenneth Quinnell of the blog Crooks and Liars, back then Congress passed the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act. What it does is require the USPS to fully fund retiree health benefits. As someone who is a retiree with health benefits from a corporation I know how important that is.

So, in the case of USPS, what's the deal? First, Congress mandated health care, something they now say gov't should have no part in. Second, the USPS doesn't have to make sure next year's health care costs are fully funded. They have to make sure there is enough money set aside to pay projected retiree health care 75 years from now. Keep in mind most people retire at the age of 65, so the fund must cover workers who will be born 10 years in the future. It is absurd. And the USPS is the only bit of government that has this restriction. It costs them $5.5 billion a year. Alas, this one has some Dem fingerprints on it.

The big question: Why? A few reasons. (1) Postal workers are unionized. (2) It is not allowed to make a profit. (3) The poor rely on it. The USPS is asking for permission to close underperforming post offices. 17 of those are in the Bronx, the poorest Congressional district in America.

Gutting the USPS will harm business. It is still the cheapest way to send something. I've heard in the news that the amount of mail has been dropping due to the rise of email. Not so fast, says Quinnell. All those ecommerce business that have sprung up in the last couple decades, plus eBay users, and immigrants sending care packages home all use USPS.

Persevering in song

The Music Department where I teach had a lunchtime program today. They showed the documentary When I Rise about the opera singer Barbara Smith Conrad (I hadn't heard of her before). She is a black woman from East Texas and in 1956 she went of to the University of Texas in Austin to study music. U of T has just been integrated, though the black student population was miniscule and they were not allowed to live in housing for whites, nor eat in restaurants for whites. It was a hostile environment.

Barbara persevered. The next year was the first time U of T Music Dept. put on an opera with student singers. Barbara was cast as the female lead. That's when the storm hit. The male lead, and her character's love interest, was white. Once the legislature (meeting not far away) heard about it they demanded she be forced out. The loudest voice was the guy representing her home town. Barbara felt betrayed by the Music Department and the Dean of Fine Arts.

After graduation she went on to a successful opera career.

I bring it up because of the comments made by the legislature in the process of ousting her from the opera cast. The main theme was protecting white rights. Today it is the same tune, different verse, all about protecting straight rights and religious rights. As near as I can figure out this means protecting the right to bully another class of people.

North Carolina

Yesterday, the North Carolina State House voted to approve a marriage protection amendment 75-42, or 64%. Today, the State Senate voted 30-16, or 65%. Only 60% was needed for passage, so it will be on the ballot in May of 2012.

That change of date from next year's general election was made at the last minute before the House voted. I haven't seen much explanation of why it was made, though the official reason was something like we don't want is seen as being politically motivated, as a way to draw more GOP voters to the polls for a presidential election. That explanation, of course, doesn't pass the smell test, simply because a Republican said it. My theory is that the GOP base will swarm to the polls to choose a GOP prez. candidate (if the choice still needs to be made in May), but Obama is running unopposed so issue is the only reason for Dem voters to bother to vote. Was the general election getting too close to call?

The governor has no veto over constitution amendments. It is expected to pass easily. This is the South.

Alvin McEwen reminds us that while the anti-gay crowd sounds so silly when they spout off we should not idly dismiss them. They hold a lot of power. For example, they helped write the text of the amendment. These groups lie a lot. Don't dismiss them. Expose their lies.

An example of one of those (I'll be kind) deceptions: When the amendment came before the House for debate, the public was barred from participating. Why? Majority Leader Paul Stam (R) said the “public won’t get to speak because they will get to speak at the ballot box.”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Not worth pulling out of the flood

Today there was a lot of honoring of First Responders that charged into buildings to rescue people they didn't know. Many died when the buildings collapsed. Just a couple weeks ago First Responders helped people avoid Hurricane Irene, then rescued those trapped by the rising waters, and then provided temporary shelter and food. What isn't said is that all those First Responders were and are government employees.

I wrote yesterday that one of the goals of a corporate takeover of government is to dismantle it. According to essayist Terrence Heath, that would include the National Weather Service. Seriously. There have already been attempts. We're talking about the people who track hurricanes, tornadoes, and weather that might cause floods, then warn citizens to take cover or get out of the way -- that National Weather Service.

And what replaces it?

It won't be a charity because charities simply can't raise that kind of money these days.

There might be a state weather service -- if your state government is rich enough to afford it.

There will be a for-profit subscription service -- for those who can afford it. That service could also come, at the gold level, with a limousine to whisk you away to a fancy hotel suite well outside the danger zone. Can't afford that? Perhaps, at the tin level, a crowded bus that will leave you at a highway intersection at the edge of the danger zone where you would be on your own to find shelter.

Can't afford even that? Well. Since you are obviously poor you are also obviously of bad moral character and thus not worth pulling out of the flood.

A hurricane in 1900 (long before they were named or tracked) killed at least 6,000 people, maybe as many as 12,000. Irene killed 40.

In this corporate world a lot more than the National Weather Service would be "defunded" and switched to a subscription service. It would include all those First Responders -- FEMA, police, firefighters. Imagine Detroit without any police (and anyone who could afford to would move to somewhere safe). We already saw what a mismanaged FEMA did to the New Orleans poor during hurricane Katrina.

We've heard lately, even from John Boehner, that government doesn't create jobs. And all those people who collect a government paycheck? Those jobs aren't "real" jobs (in the same way most of us aren't "real" Americans). They can't be real jobs because no profit is being made.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Government provides for an orderly society

Lawrence O'Donnell, on his show The Last Word, talked to Rep. Barney Frank about the chances of Obama's new jobs package passing the House. The bill, which appears to have enough concessions by Obama to please the GOP, still has very little chance of passing. Frank says the GOP has two goals. Defeat Obama and discredit government. If they pass a jobs bill the chance that Obama gets a second term goes up. They would rather see the American people suffer for another 14 months. The GOP doesn't want citizens think the government is capable of helping people with such things as unemployment compensation, building roads, hiring teachers and firefighters, even though government is the only institution capable of doing all these things. The GOP thinks there shouldn't be any government.

Reading through comments of a blog post (even a progressive one) is at least problematic because the reader doesn't know the qualifications of the one spouting off. Is there a grain of truth or are the words merely a rant? Even so, a few resonated with me.

Jaye noted that Boehner (sitting behind Obama) has spent so much time in the tanning booth he is now darker than Obama.

skeith wrote something I wholeheartedly agree and wish had been done all along:
My dream is to someday hear Mr. POTUS say, "The only reason government is dysfunctional is because Republicans keep stabbing it with poisoned knives. The only reason the Senate can't pass a budget, or most anything else, is because Republicans filibuster everything. Government is what keeps your air and water and food from poisoning you, the only reason it sometimes fails at this is because Republicans cut its throat at every opportunity. Government provides the roads and bridges and schools and police and laws and trade and everything that makes us an orderly society where people don't murder one another on the street. If you hate government so much, move to Somalia, where there is no government to pester you and which is, I'm sure, a capitalist paradise just waiting to welcome you."
If Obama won't, maybe Biden can?

It appears, according to the GOP, that the ability to create jobs trumps everything else. want jobs? Let us pollute more. Want jobs? Allow us to destroy your health. Want jobs? Allow us to get rid of worker safety protections. Want jobs? Get rid of unions. Want jobs? Welcome global warming.

Of course, from what we see above, the GOP does not want to create jobs. They want to get rid of every last shred of regulation that just might possibly cut into their profits. And their means to get there -- "There's too much regulation!" -- won't change the jobs picture at all.

After a night of pondering what I wrote yesterday I'm going to toss out a few predictions. I won't claim enough accuracy for you to plan anything concrete. Laugh at them if they amuse you. We'll see how these predictions play out. Yes, I'm feeling gloomy about the future.

* A good chunk of the independent voters and perhaps a chunk of progressives will see the GOP is against them, but the Dems are not for them. They will see both parties as corrupt. They won't bother to vote in 2012. The more conservative the voter, the more likely he/she is to vote. I most certainly will vote and trust you, dear reader, will do so as well.

* If Obama manages to keep his job the big money interests (at least oil, pharma, health insurance) will begin to spend a lot more money on Dem candidates who will do their bidding. These deep pockets are already spending on Dems, which is why they are a bunch of wimps.

* If the corporate interests don't accomplish a takeover in 2012, their increased spending will accomplish it in 2014. Wholesale dismantling of government will commence.

* Without USA leadership (and perhaps at this late stage, even with), global warming will cause severe environmental damage.

* The GOP controlled legislature in North Carolina plans to vote on a marriage protection amendment perhaps as early as Monday. NC is the only southern state without one. The backers are, of course, the Fundies. Various NC businesses are making a big fuss saying they do not want such an amendment because it is bad for business. Polls show that NC voters don't want it either (and don't want to spend 14 months listening to their gay family and friends being called all sorts of nasty things by amendment supporters). The uproar is loud enough that the GOP is attempting to hide their actions. An amendment requires 3/4 approval, so at least a handful of Dems need to agree to it. All of that is a long way of saying I can't predict whether a corporate takeover comes with a Fundie takeover and whether gays will be demonized in the new order. That may depend on whether it is Prez. Rick Perry.

* The Fundies will actively encourage the corporate takeover (certainly planning on a seat at the table). In the eyes of the general public this will discredit at least Fundie Christians, and perhaps all of Christianity.

* If Christianity survives it will focus on the love of God, not on the retribution of God, and the survivors of the mess may actually build a community that works. I'm not alone in this view. I've written about the book The Great Disruption by Paul Gilding. John Shelby Spong has several books exploring an entirely different way of practicing Christianity.

Vancouver? It just might be under water. As might Melbourne.

Back to that proposed amendment in NC. NAACP of NC has issued a letter condemning the amendment (but are white good ole boys going to listen to a black organization?) and outlining why it is a bad idea. Alas, while it is a spirited explanation of why the amendment should not be approved it is not a ringing endorsement of gay marriage. The NAACP does have to contend with homophobia in black churches.

As was the case in Michigan in 2004 the amendment isn't so much who marries whom, but who is drawn out to vote for whom. And because this will affect the outcome of a presidential election there is lots of money involved in pressuring legislators to get it on the ballot.

While the GOP has trotted out some religious leaders to support the amendment there is a strong showing of religious leaders who oppose it. Equality NC has released a list of 242 clergy and faith leaders along with an additional 56 church members who oppose the amendment. I've scanned the list and found clergy from United Methodist, Episcopal, Unity Fellowship, Presbyterian, AME Zion, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist, Quaker, Baptist (!), Metropolitan Community, and Congregational churches (plus a few more I'm not familiar with). There were also representatives from Jewish synagogues and a Buddhist temple.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Drunk on greed and power

A friend (not the debate partner) sent me a link, suggesting I would find the article interesting. I started reading it yesterday at about 10:00 pm., but quickly realized I would want to take notes and it was too long to read and comment on before bedtime. Besides, reading and not commenting would only keep me awake. So, here goes.

The article is by Mike Lofgren. He had a 30 year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill and considered himself Republican. But the party has become too crazy. His article documents some of the craziness -- and rottenness.

To start, Lofgren does not say he thinks the Democrats are good. They too are rotten. With all that corporate cash in their hands we've seen how much they really stand up for the little guy (such as: last year's medical bill does not permit negotiation of drug prices, a sweet gift to Big Pharma).

But that's small potatoes compared with what is going on in the GOP.

Let's start with the GOP holding the world economy hostage over raising the debt ceiling. Lofgren reminds us that the person taking the hostage always has the upper hand because they do not care about the welfare of the hostage. In my words now: the GOP and their corporate paymasters are so drunk (wish I had a better word) on greed and power they care absolutely nothing for the rest of the country and the rest of the world.

A GOP committee staff member confided (proudly) to Lofgren why his party was so bent on obstruction and disruption. They were aiming to lower the favorability rating of Congress and once the institution was sabotaged people would turn to the party that had identified itself as being against government. Something like, We're against government! Watch us destroy it! Now that it's gone, you should thank us for our efforts.

Will this work? Quite possibly because most major news media, scared into trying to be "balanced" are quick to blame both parties for the mess. Citizens, thinking that both parties are corrupt and neither represents their interests, stop voting. Those that do vote tend towards the stalwart GOP supporters or the low-info voters, easily confused about what is really going on.

For a party that so worships the Constitution (recently a Michigan GOP candidate for US senate said he should get the nomination because he has read the Constitution and knows the limits it sets on what the federal government is allowed to do), they seem strangely uninterested when various laws undermine their sacred document. That includes the Patriot Act undermining the 4th Amendment and making voting more difficult for large numbers of progressive citizens. Let them vote? No way!

The GOP did have some help in their takeover. The decline of factory jobs hit the white middle class. What did the Dems offer? Nothing. Well, maybe bill titles that reek of wonk-speak. Yes, it is ironic that the party which is full of corporate types busy outsourcing jobs was the one capturing the attention of the workers left without a job. They did it by focusing fear and anger on immigrants and other scapegoats.

The GOP is relentlessly on message, able to do amazing ninja tricks with language. After Wall Street sucked so much money out of the hands of the common person over the last few years, where is popular anger directed (according to media)?
At "Washington spending" - which has increased primarily to provide unemployment compensation, food stamps and Medicaid to those economically damaged by the previous decade's corporate saturnalia. Or the popular rage is harmlessly diverted against pseudo-issues: death panels, birtherism, gay marriage, abortion, and so on, none of which stands to dent the corporate bottom line in the slightest.
Yes, the GOP tactics show their mindset is absolutist and authoritarian, hostile to democratic values of reason, ready with polarizing division, conflict, and the crushing of opposition. But on to their beliefs. There are only three of them. Everything else serves to hide these three, according to Lofgren. I wonder how he missed "lust for power."

* The GOP cares exclusively about its rich contributors. I heard one of the GOP responses to Obama's jobs plan to extend middle class tax cuts beyond December (why did the middle class get a one year extension and the rich got a two year extension?) was a resounding rejection. Yup, the GOP will gladly raise taxes -- on those who aren't rich.

To care for the rich the GOP is spreading smokescreens. "We won't raise anyone's taxes." The rich are job creators (big corporations are sitting on piles of cash, so where are the jobs?). We can't raise taxes on small businesses (if they have a million in income, they aren't small and small business employs only 7% of the labor force). Americans are overtaxed (and how much did General Electric pay last year? Zero). Half of Americans don't pay taxes (well, not income taxes, but they do pay sales and payroll taxes).

* The GOP worships war. It is deeper than the DoD spreading money around Capitol Hill, or than DoD spending provides for (not that many) jobs. It appears to be a neurotic need to demonstrate toughness, and for that one needs an enemy.

The Dems have been too cowardly to reverse this militaristic drive. Lofgren has noticed Dems are actually afraid of the GOP. The left fears, the right hates.

* The GOP is beholden to fundamentalist Christianity. Creationism is still an issue they support. They distrust science and intelligence. That means there is a de facto religious test for the presidency.

It is this religious takeover that provides the foundation for the other two major beliefs. Fundies have long espoused the idea that wealth is a sign of God's favor. Fundies also favor the Old Testament and it's divinely-inspired killing. They also believe in Armageddon and their ability to bring it about through pushing conflict.

Lofgren left government work because of his disgust of the GOP's disregard for democracy. And also because he wanted to receive a pension while he still could.

Going to great lengths to discredit

As a result of the Great Depression and the thinking of John Maynard Keynes (I've heard the last name rhymes with "brains") business slowdowns (also called recessions) since WWII have been pretty mild compared to the routinely horrific collapses in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The idea Keynes pushed is that government should stimulate the economy in bad times, running a deficit if necessary, and cut back on spending in boom times, paying off the debts with surpluses. Pretty good policy, though we weren't so good with the surplus part (though Bill Clinton managed it during his boom).

The GOP is definitely not following that policy, both refusing the stimulus and giving the Clinton surpluses to the rich. So, of course, they are working hard to discredit Keynes.

At one time Keynes wrote:
The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.
Translation: economists are of no use if all they can do is say, "Yup, that was a bad recession, but we're now out of it." They should use their tools to make it not be so bad.

But the GOP is seizing on that second sentence, purposely ignoring the rest. Because we'll all be dead, those liberals want to pillage the economy. It won't be their problem.

The discrediting jabs have also jumped up a level with the claim, "Keynes was a childless homosexual." No wonder he came up with such a depressing line that "In the long run we are all dead." Only a hedonistic homosexual could be so selfish.

For the record, Keynes was married. To a woman.

Why get married?

John Corvino, known as the Gay Moralist, has at times traveled around the country with Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family to debate same-sex marriage. Corvino knows he won't change Stanton's mind, but is hoping to reach people in the audience. Here's a bit to show how much Stanton's mind hasn't changed. He was recently asked (and not by Corvino), "What do men gain by being married?" His answer started with:
Well, they gain easier and more reliable access to convenient sex, warm meals and maid service.
Gay marriage isn't just about gays.

Monday, September 5, 2011

One goal accomplished

Every Monday the Morning Edition program on NPR brings on Cokie Roberts to discuss the state of national politics. Today, she discussed the approval rating of Congress, now at a record 17%, and the speech Obama will give on Thursday. Then this, taken from the NPR transcript.
And a very interesting analysis by Bill McInturff is out over the weekend. He is a Republican pollster, highly respected, but this is a nonpartisan analysis looking at consumer confidence numbers and doing focus groups on that question. And it shows that the big drop of almost 16 points in consumer confidence from July to August was directly related to that debt ceiling debate.

Now, we have all theorized that that's the case, but now he's been able to put together the numbers. And there's no confidence in the president, in Republicans in Congress, in anyone in government to fix the problems. And he says that the debt ceiling debate was like a catastrophic event in terms of people's views, something like September 11th, where people had a very favorable view of government after that catastrophe, or Katrina, where people have a very unfavorable view of government after that catastrophe.

So people's confidence in Washington's ability to solve the country's economic problems is just nil. So it's very, very hard to believe voters will believe anything will happen as a result of whatever the president proposes
All through Roberts' discussion I kept thinking of something I've mentioned a time or two (most notably on Labor Day a year ago). It is one of the goals of the GOP on their way to a complete takeover.

Prove democracy doesn't work.

You don't think that's true? Another piece of evidence. The GOP has been, over the last two years, systematically preventing parts of Obama's support from voting in 2012. It has been called the "most significant setback to voter rights in this country in a century." That's according to Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, which monitors barriers to voting. The GOP is also electing and appointing anti-democracy judges and putting cases before them to make people think voter fraud is rampant, rather than non-existent.

I'm finding disgust with conservatives isn't confined to the USA. The failure of right-wing policies has led to problems in Britain, Greece, elsewhere in Europe, and (not reported much here -- because USA media doesn't want us to get ideas?) in Israel. 350,000 in the streets. Wow.

What do people want? According to the author of the blog Culture Kitchen:
PEOPLE ARE SICK OF TRICKLE DOWN, RIGHT WING LIES. They want more equitable societies with more transparency and democracy, and stronger social programs. They do NOT WANT right wing trickle down failures anymore. (emphasis in the original)
But that would mean the current GOP would not have any power. One of their central beliefs is We're the ones who are supposed to be in power.

The reason for the day off

In honor of Labor Day Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin describes the conditions of coal miners in the 1910s. Everything in town was controlled by the company and the worker never made enough money to pay for his housing, clothing, food, and tools for himself and family. The result was he could only go into debt to the company and essentially become a slave. This resulted in riots, attempts at union organizing, and the West Virginia Mine War and its Battle of Blair Mountain.

According to Burroway, Labor Day is to honor the labor union.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Doing the squeeze

Essayist Terrence Heath takes a look at those who still have a job and notes they increasingly have to deal with bad bosses. He notes that there are a lot of resources for dealing with bad bosses, but very little on the obvious of getting them to stop being abusive. Why are bosses bad? The answer is the same since humans developed the concept of the boss. Because they can.

And bosses can because, in this economy, the worker cannot say, "Take This Job and Shove It" as Johnny Paycheck sang in 1977. The worker is stuck because there is no other job to switch to, he or she is stuck. Take what the boss is dishing out or be unemployed.

We're in a "No Quit Economy" and bosses are taking advantage of that to squeeze their workers for everything they can. In just the first quarter of 2010 corporate profits jumped by $572 billion. Wage and salary payments went down by $122 billion.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Empower the nonproductive segments

Matthew Vadum, profoundly interested in "voter fraud" declared:
Registering them [the poor and welfare recipients] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country — which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote. (emphasis added along the way)

Eli of Firedoglake notes:
So let me see if I have this right: Helping millions of poor people to vote for someone they hope might occasionally represent their interests is “antisocial and un-American,” but a tiny minority of ridiculously wealthy people and corporations spending gobs of money to put the government securely in their pocket is “free speech”?

Of course, we won’t mention that most of the poor are “nonproductive” because none of the politicians who slid into office on avalanches of corporate money give a damn about creating jobs. Or that obscene wealth does not necessarily equate to productivity. Or that “productivity” is not actually a requirement for voting eligibility in the first place.

Still, I’ll give Vadum credit for coming out and saying that he just doesn’t want poor people to vote. Usually the right pretends that they’re terribly concerned about the imaginary threat of voter fraud, in much the same way that they’re terribly concerned about the sanctity of marriage, the lives of unborn babies, the threat of terrorism, and the morale of our troops.

The only thing un-American about poor people voting is that it doesn’t give them a voice, even when their candidates win.

Cindy and Mike Jacobs claim that Hurricane Irene is punishment for New York permitting gay marriage and that true Christians (meaning, like them) can control the weather.

A commenter, quoting cartoonist Lee Judge, wrote something that makes a nice response:

(1) When homosexuals get AIDS, it’s punishment from God.
(2) When the sexually active get herpes, it’s punishment from God.
(3) And when John Ashcroft gets gallstone pancreatitis, it’s gallstone pancreatitis.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Difficulty counting

About three weeks ago I reported that Blogger said I've posted 1500 entries to this blog. I just poked around their new interface (which had some cool features but also problems for me). One of the things it showed me is out of that number (up to 1516 now) how many are complete posts and how many are just drafts. Alas, only 1489 are actual posts. Why the other 27 are drafts I don't know. They have the same title and contents as actual posts made on the same day. Sometimes there are two drafts of the same thing. I went back to the older interface for now.

Unbearably awesome

Rob Tisinai explores the lame homophobic claim, "If everybody was gay the human species would die out." The only way he can see that argument making sense is if the one pushing it were stoned on weed.

What prompted me to tell you about it is the comments others left on the post (which is on two separate blogs). The first one wrote that even if the entire planet was gay, if there is alcohol around there will be babies. Even without alcohol enough gays and lesbians will want to be moms and dads that arrangements would be worked out.

The second one, Dave, wrote:

What I love most about the “if everyone were gay” line is the unspoken fear that it might actually happen. It’s flattering that homophobes think homosexuality is so gosh-darned unbearably awesome that, the minute we let gays and lesbians marry / raise children / not be arbitrarily fired from their jobs, the whole world will be unable to resist the temptation to go gay … It’s also fun to imagine that the only thing preventing any two straight guys from doing each other is that they can’t get married and adopt kids afterwards.

Ben wrote that in a planet where everyone is gay we would have these benefits: fewer abortions, no unwanted children, less need for adoption services, no homophobia as social control and scapegoating.

A couple weeks ago I spent some time on Mackinac Island. There are a lot of shops selling t-shirts, many of them rather rude. That included the shirt with the slogan, "I love boobies." I doubt the majority of their sales were to lesbians. The whole world gay? We'll deal with it when it happens.