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Archives, October 12 to November 16, 2004

Tuesday November 16, 2004

The McKinney And Henderson Award…

Roger Ailes notes that Andrew Sullivan’s alleged cameo on the upcoming ABC 20/20 whitewashing of the murder of Matthew Shepard, makes the whole affair stink even more…if that’s possible…:

Sully "Grab Ass" Sullivan is fired up in anticipation that ABC News's 20/20 program will speak in mitigation of Matthew Shepard's murderers:

Now ABC News has prepared an important, thorough and debunking review of what happened. I was tangentially involved in the documentary, but wasn't privy to its most closely held findings. I have a feeling it will reveal how dangerous it is to rest an entire political argument on one incident, whose details were always murky and subsequently turned into myth.

Something -- quite a few things -- stink here. Most obviously, it's not clear how Sully knows the "documentary" will be an important, thorough debunking since he doesn't know what ABC's key findings are, and only "has a feeling" what the program might reveal.

The New York Post article to which Sully links claim that Shepard's killers now deny the killing was motivated by bias. Case closed. If you can't take the word of murdering, crank-dealing muggers who are seeking to make themselves look good and who are contradicting their earlier admissions, who can you trust?

As described, this whole project has the whiff of John "Make Shit Up" Stossel and his right-wing agenda. And the fact that Sully claims he was "tangientially involved" in the report makes it sound even more questionable. Sully has no first-hand knowledge of the circumstances of the crime or the participants' motivations. His only purported contribution is his vehement opposition to hate crimes laws (and his willingess to misrepresent them). If the program's focus is "what happened," the question of what the law should be is totally irrelevant. Unless the program is wingnut propaganda passing as news.

To that I’d only add that, in fact, the details of Shepard’s murder are anything but murky. That was always one of the distinctive features of the case, that everyone who was actually involved in investigating it has remarked on. Everything, all the evidence, all the facts of the case, were not only in plain view from the beginning, one detective even remarked later that it was as if God had spread out a perfect crime scene for them to find. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, mysterious or murky about what happened that night. Any fog of mystery surrounding it now is completely and utterly the manufacture of the anti-gay right, and their useful bedboys like Sullivan.

Sullivan once said he became a Tory because he hated the left so much. So here he is, unsurprisingly, helping the right whitewash a brutal anti-gay murder, again because he hates the left, which supports hate crime laws. Shepard’s murder made clear to people why those laws are necessary. The pistol beating of the 105 pound young man, that left his skull broken, had the grisly overkill quality to it that is the hallmark of gay bashings. Suddenly the nation saw not only that hate was killing gay people, but how vicious that hate was. The right has been alternately trying to vilify Shepard as a sexual predator who got what was coming to him, or whitewash the whole affair as a robbery gone bad, ever since. But the circumstances of Shepard’s death are grimly familiar to anyone who has witnessed anti-gay violence. Sullivan would literally rather have gay people die violently, then allow the left to get hate crime laws enacted, not because those laws are wrong, but simply because it would be a victory for the left.

That he is a party to this 20/20 report only clarifies its essential political nature. Sullivan was not there during the investigation, and did not attend the trials or talk to the principals. He has nothing to bring to the table other then a political point of view regarding hate crime laws. Ailes is right…this whole thing reeks of John Stossel, the right wing propagandist who has a track record of looking his viewers in the face and lying through his teeth to them. But we’ll see which ABC talking head it is that actually takes a few more whacks at Shepard’s body I suppose, when its broadcast…

I am going to tape the broadcast, and make a list of each and every advertiser on it. I’ll post it here when its over.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tales From George Bush’s America…(continued)

When arrested for sexually assaulting a gay man in Texas, make sure you ask for a jury trial

The three defendants, along with a juvenile suspect, were charged with aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery after they picked up the victim, whose name is being withheld due to the sexual nature of the allegations, from Oil Can Harry's, a gay bar in the Warehouse District, and returned to his apartment, where they alledgedly began assaulting him.

...

Roy Minton, the attorney for both Gay and Bockman, said the two will plead not guilty to their charges, which both carry sentences ranging from two to 99 years in prison.

...

According to the Austin Police Department affidavit, on July 17 when the defendants arrived at the victim's apartment, they began punching and kicking him, bound him with the cord from a vacuum cleaner and held him at knife- and sword-point while forcing him to sodomize himself with a sex toy.

One man recited New Testament verses condemning homosexuality and said the attackers were "passing judgement" on the victim for "being a faggot and a queer," according to the affidavit.

The affidavit said they "ransacked" the apartment and stole cash, the victim's driver's license and a collection of swords and daggers before leaving the apartment.

Both Bockman and Gay confessed to beating and robbing the victim and identified the other suspects, but denied that the sexual assault took place, according to the affidavit.

Minton said Gay and Bockman did not admit to police that they broke the law.

"There really isn't any confession," he said. "That's just the police officer writing down something, because it sounds good."

He said the affidavit doesn't reflect the whole story that his defendants told police.

"All deny that there was any assault altogether," Minton said. "Except that Darren [Gay] admits he struck the victim when he was making completely untoward conduct with his younger brother."

All together now: Gay Panic Defense.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The World Watches, As The United States Belly Flops Into The Gutter…

Who didn’t see this coming back in March of 2003? Anybody?

"I would have shot the insurgent too. Two shots to the head," said Sergeant Nicholas Graham, 24, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "You can't trust these people. He should not be investigated. He did nothing wrong."

Actually, he committed a war crime. But let it be said his superiors actively worked to create the climate in which that war crime was not only likely, but encouraged. Just days ago President Smirking Fratboy Suckerpuncher told the world that the man who justified torturing prisoners of war was to become his next attorney general. The days since have seen U.S. Helicopter gunships shooting down families trying to escape Fallujah. Those helicopter crews weren’t doing that on their own initiative. There is just no way this shooting of an unarmed prisoner of war is an isolated case. It is standard operating procedure, in a war built on a bedrock of lies, damn lies, and laughing in your face lies.

Marines have repeatedly described the rebels they fought against in Falluja as ruthless fighters who didn't play by the rules. They say the investigation is politically motivated.

"It's all political. This Marine has been under attack for days. It has nothing to do with what he did," said Corporal Keith Hoy, 23.

Guantanamo Bay. Abu Ghraib. Playing by the rules anyone? Except we’re fighting in the name of democracy and the rule of law over the rule of tyrants. Saddam Hussein was an evil man. He murdered Iraqi men women and children for the sake of his own bottomless greed and ambition. But what is worse…that a single man does great evil, or that evil is done in the name of, and in fact the blessings of, millions of American citizens. In Iraq they are saying now that the student is gone, and the master has arrived. If that is how the common Iraqi citizen sees the United States of America, after having lived with our troops on their soil for over a year now, then America has failed not just them, but every principle of liberty and justice we have ever stood for. But that seems to have been the will of the voters two tuesdays ago. This war is a defilement of both democracy and the rule of law, and even if our own news media would rather jerk the public off then tell it what is being done in its name, the rest of the world is watching, watching, watching the United States drag the fight for democracy and the rule of law backward about a hundred years. They’ll never look at us the same way again.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

A Time Comes When Silence Is Betrayal

James Dobson…notify your lion handler…there are still a few Christians living in America

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Slouching Toward My Lai…(continued)

Destroying America, in order to save America… Part One:

Friday, the Marines were fired upon by snipers and insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades from a mosque and an adjacent building. The Marines returned fire with tank shells and machine guns.

They eventually stormed the mosque, killing 10 insurgents and wounding five others, and showing off a cache of rifles and grenades for journalists.

The Marines told the pool reporter that the wounded men would be left behind for others to pick up and move to the rear for treatment. But Saturday, another squad of Marines found that the mosque had been reoccupied by insurgents and attacked it again, only to find the same wounded men inside.

Four of the men appeared to have been shot again in Saturday's fighting, and one of them appeared to be dead, according to the pool report. In the video, a Marine was seen noticing that one of the men appeared to be breathing.

A Marine approached one of the men in the mosque saying, "He's [expletive] faking he's dead. He's faking he's [expletive] dead."

The Marine raised his rifle and fired into the apparently wounded man's head, at which point a companion said, "Well, he's dead now."

When told by the pool reporter that the men were among those wounded in Friday's firefight, the Marine who fired the shot said, "I didn't know, sir. I didn't know."

The Marines said they are investigating why the wounded Iraqis were left behind for 24 hours and whether the man was killed illegally. Navy investigators said they believe they have located the fifth Iraqi -- the only one not wounded a second time -- who said he wanted to provide information about the killing.

Before the Marines entered the mosque Saturday, a lieutenant from one of two squads involved in the fighting was told that there were people inside.

"Did you shoot them?" he asked.

"Roger that, sir," one of the men replied.

"Were they armed?" the lieutenant asked. The other Marine shrugged.

Part Two:

The 33-year-old Associated Press photographer stayed behind to capture insider images during the siege of the former insurgent stronghold.

"Everyone in Fallujah knew it was coming. I had been taking pictures for days," he said. "I thought I could go on doing it."

In the hours and days that followed, heavy bombing raids and thunderous artillery shelling turned Hussein's northern Jolan neighborhood into a zone of rubble and death. The walls of his house were pockmarked by coalition fire.

"Destruction was everywhere. I saw people lying dead in the streets, wounded were bleeding and there was no one to come and help them. Even the civilians who stayed in Fallujah were too afraid to go out," he said.

"There was no medicine, water, no electricity nor food for days."

By Tuesday afternoon, as U.S. forces and Iraqi rebels engaged in fierce clashes in the heart of his neighborhood, Hussein snapped.

"U.S. soldiers began to open fire on the houses, so I decided that it was very dangerous to stay in my house," he said.

Hussein said he panicked, seizing on a plan to escape across the Euphrates River, which flows on the western side of the city

"I wasn't really thinking," he said. "Suddenly, I just had to get out. I didn't think there was any other choice."

In the rush, Hussein left behind his camera lens and a satellite telephone for transmitting his images. His lens, marked with the distinctive AP logo, was discovered two days later by U.S. Marines next to a dead man's body in a house in Jolan.

AP colleagues in the Baghdad bureau, who by then had not heard from Hussein in 48 hours, became even more worried.

Hussein moved from house to house ó dodging gunfire ó and reached the river.

"I decided to swim ... but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river."

He watched horrified as a family of five was shot dead as they tried to cross. Then, he "helped bury a man by the river bank, with my own hands."

"I kept walking along the river for two hours and I could still see some U.S. snipers ready to shoot anyone who might swim. I quit the idea of crossing the river and walked for about five hours through orchards."

He met a peasant family, who gave him refuge in their house for two days. Hussein knew a driver in the region and sent a message to another AP colleague, Ali Ahmed, in nearby Ramadi.

Ahmed relayed the news that Hussein was alive to AP's Baghdad bureau. He sent a second message back to Hussein that a fisherman in nearby Habaniyah would ferry the photographer to safety by boat.

Part Three:

WASHINGTON - Human rights experts said Friday that American soldiers might have committed a war crime on Thursday when they sent fleeing Iraqi civilians back into Fallujah.

Citing several articles of the Geneva Conventions, the experts said recognized laws of war require military forces to protect civilians as refugees and forbid returning them to a combat zone.

"This is highly problematical conduct in terms of exposing people to grave danger by returning them to an area where fighting is going on," said Jordan Paust, a law professor at the University of Houston and a former Army prosecutor.

James Ross, senior legal adviser to Human Rights Watch, said, "If that's what happened, it would be a war crime."

A stream of refugees, about 300 men, women and children, were detained by American soldiers as they left southern Fallujah by car and on foot. The women and children were allowed to proceed. The men were tested for any residues left by the handling of explosives. All tested negative, but they were sent back.

The military says keeping men ages 15 to 55 from leaving is key to the mission's success.

"If they're not carrying a weapon, you can't tell" who is an insurgent trying to slip away and who isn't, said an officer with the Army's 1st Calvary Division.

Because the United States has refused to take part in the International Criminal Court, it is unclear whether American troops could be held accountable, even if their actions in handling those fleeing were determined to be criminal.

They say the last election was decided on Values. And so it was. First they went to church on Sunday and spit in Christ’s face. Then they went to the voting booth on Tuesday, and spit in America’s face. Values.

I have a modest proposal for that Flag Burning Amendment the republicans keep trying to get passed. Here it is: that committing a war crime while wearing the flag will amount to its desecration, just as if it had actually been burned. If you commit a war crime while wearing the flag, you are also guilty of the crime of desecrating the flag. If the republicans want to argue that this would unduly restrain our military from effectively fighting the enemy, I would simply suggest that if our military commanders still want their men to commit war crimes, all they would have to do is first order their men to remove the flags from their uniforms. They could leave the words United States Of America on them if they want. Just remove the flag. They could then go on about their business as planned.

Values. Respect for our flag. Heh. Just see if they’ll pass that one…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wait…Wait…We’re Not Homosexuals…!

Apparently heterosexual voters in Utah hadn’t considered the consequences to themselves…

Salt Lake City attorney Mary Corporon recently filed a motion contending that Amendment 3 makes it unconstitutional to enforce a court protective order against her client that his former live-in girlfriend obtained from a judge. Corporon's client was charged with violating the order that was to keep him away from the girlfriend and the apartment they formerly shared. "If you have two people who occupy the same space together, a man and a woman in a romantic relationship, and the court steps in and says, 'One of you gets to occupy the space you have, and the other doesn't, that begins to look like a marriage breaking up and the temporary protective orders issued in divorces," Corporon said.

Attorney Monte Stewart, cochairman of Utahns for a Better Tomorrow, which supported the amendment, said such arguments ultimately will fail. "Lawyers representing clients, especially in criminal cases, are obligated to throw up just about everything and anything they can think of," Stewart said. "That's just the nature of the system. As they throw these arguments up, one by one they will be rejected."

However, former Utah supreme court chief justice Michael Zimmerman said it is no surprise that Amendment 3 would be invoked in cases having nothing to do with same-sex marriage, and he expects more lawyers will test such theories. "Wholly apart from the civil rights issue, the troubling part is that second section," said Zimmerman, who opposed the amendment. "Never underestimate the creativity of lawyers as they look for ways to use it in situations where it wasn't anticipated.... Who knows the number of ways it could crop up."

The Advocate - Utah's new gay marriage ban cited in nongay case

Charming. Now there is no such thing as domestic violence between unmarried heterosexual couples, because there is no “domestic” allowed unless you’re married.

Not that the religious right has anything against wife beating anyway…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday November 13, 2004

Pure Fiction

Via John Aravosis, via MyDD.Com, a little fact checking on Charles Krauthammer. Recall that in disputing that the anti-gay marriage referendum in Ohio had anything to do with Bush’s win there, Krauthammer argued thusly:

Bush increased his vote in 2004 over 2000 by an average of 3.1 percent nationwide. In Ohio the increase was 1 percent -- less than a third of the national average. In the 11 states in which the gay marriage referendums were held, Bush increased his vote by less than he did in the 39 states that did not have the referendum. The great anti-gay surge was pure fiction.

Actually…Bush’s increase was…

Ohio Turnout for Bush

2000: 2,351,209
2004: 2,796,147

Krauthammer is tossing around claims of "nonsense" while he is making a blatant fabrication upon which he builds a counter-thesis to the facts. Bush increased his vote total by 19% from 2000 to 2004 in Ohio.

What Krauthammer probably means, was the percentage of the vote increased by only 1 percent. But that still leaves the inconvenient facts that 1) religious conservatives came out in droves who hadn’t in 2000, and who probably wouldn’t have if not for the anti-gay ballot question, and 2) the republicans did everything in their power to make sure they hate vote came out, and part of their strategy was to put those amendments on the ballots in the battleground states.

It worked. Anti-gay hate re-elected George Bush. But it has done more then that. It has branded the republican party. If it wasn’t the Hate Party before, it sure as hell is now. The republican party cannot win elections, without the hate vote. It is officially now, the party of the American gutter.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

For My Next Film, I’m Going To Do A Biography Of Oscar Wilde And His Buddy Lord Alfred Douglas. They’ll Exchange Friendship Rings…

Some films would be too radical, even for Oliver Stone to make…

Daily Gossip reports: "Oliver Stone's movie Alexander has been screened for press, and while there are some emotional moments between Colin Farrell (pictured), who plays a weirdly blond Alexander, and Jared Leto, who plays the conqueror's bizarrely tressed companion, Hephaestion, there is no sex between them. The emotional content is mostly about eyes brimming with tears, especially when Leto presents Farrell with a friendship ring and concedes that Farrell must marry a woman."

Queer Day - The truth is out: Alexander isn't gay at all

Heterosexual film makers, no matter how progressive, who are not comfortable dealing honestly with same sex love, should not be making films about same sex lovers. That seems like such an obvious thing, yet time and again we get these directorial super stars taking on gay material they have no respect for, other then as a badge of their progressiveness. They get into the material, they freak, and instead of honesty, our stories, our history gets shoved in the closet.

But only its dignity and beauty. The unsavory parts are fair game, even to exaggerate if not fabricate outright. This is the same Oliver Stone after all, who made so much of the role of the “gay underground” in the conspiracy to kill JFK. Yeah…that Oliver Stone. We can be Kennedy killers. We just can’t be lovers.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Shopping For Blue…

Weekend art supply shopping. I go down to my friendly local Baltimore gay neighborhood, where there are two excellent art supply stores, and one fairly decent one associated with the nearby Maryland College Of The Arts. I want another pad of Bristol Board, another roll of layout paper, another roll of frisket paper, and some more charcoal sticks of various hardnesses. Oh…and some workable fixative. I reach for a can of Krylon Workable Fixative, and then pause…

Where the hell is this stuff made..?

I turn the can around: Cleveland, Ohio. Blue space in a red state…but it just voted to ban not only same sex marriages, but civil unions and any other legal recognition of same sex couples. It’s out. But what about the house brand? I’m in the Utrecht store, just down the block from my local Lambda Rising bookstore. The can on the store brand says its made in Cranbury, New Jersey. I check my map. Red space in a blue state. But it can stay, because that state has civil unions. My Strathmore Bristol Board is made in Massachusetts, so it stays, even if it is made in a red part of that state. The charcoal is from England and Germany and Mexico.

I know…I know…it all sounds terribly complicated for a simple shopping trip. The next four years, and god knows how long after that, are going to be complicated times for gay and lesbian people living in the United States. You only need to go through this exercise once for a given product, and then after that it’s either on the blue list or the red and that’s that. Now I have a few more things on my list that I can buy without feeding the beast.

Now to go get some groceries…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday November 12, 2004

I have mixed feelings about this, mostly because you have to realize that there are a lot of people in the South who hate what the southern Bush voters have done to America. Just look at that blue and red county map again and you can see that the south was not solidly for Bush at all. There is blue there. But if you look at the angry rant in the above link as less against the South, as against those southerners who think they’re more genuinely American then the rest of us, then it’s brilliant.

All those Federal taxes you love to hate? It all comes from us and goes to you, so shut up and enjoy your fucking Tennessee Valley Authority electricity and your fancy highways that we paid for. And the next time Florida gets hit by a hurricane you can come crying to us if you want to, but you're the ones who built on a fucking swamp. "Let the Spanish keep it, itís a shithole," we said, but you had to have your fucking orange juice.

The next dickwad who says, "Itís your money, not the government's money" is gonna get their ass kicked. Nine of the ten states that get the most federal fucking dollars and pay the least... can you guess? Go on, guess. Thatís right, motherfucker, they're red states. And eight of the ten states that receive the least and pay the most? Itís too easy, asshole, theyíre blue states. Itís not your money, assholes, itís fucking our money. What was that Real American Value you were spouting a minute ago? Self reliance? Try this for self reliance: buy your own fucking stop signs, assholes.

Letís talk about those values for a fucking minute. You and your Southern values can bite my ass because the blue states got the values over you fucking Real Americans every day of the goddamn week. Which state do you think has the lowest divorce rate you marriage-hyping dickwads? Well? Can you guess? Itís fucking Massachusetts, the fucking center of the gay marriage universe. Yes, thatís right, the state you love to tie around the neck of anyone to the left of Strom Thurmond has the lowest divorce rate in the fucking nation. Think thatís just some aberration? How about this: 9 of the 10 lowest divorce rates are fucking blue states, asshole, and most are in the Northeast, where our values suck so bad. And where are the highest divorce rates? Care to fucking guess? 10 of the top 10 are fucking red-ass we're-so-fucking-moral states. And while Nevada is the worst, the Bible Belt is doing its fucking part.

But two guys making out is going to fucking ruin marriage for you? Yeah? Seems like you're ruining it pretty well on your own, you little bastards. Oh, but that's ok because you go to church, right? I mean you do, right? Cause we fucking get to hear about it every goddamn year at election time. Yes, we're fascinated by how you get up every Sunday morning and sing, and then you're fucking towers of moral superiority. Yeah, that's a workable formula. Maybe us fucking Northerners don't talk about religion as much as you because we're not so busy sinning, hmmm? Ever think of that, you self-righteous assholes? No, you're too busy erecting giant stone tablets of the Ten Commandments in buildings paid for by the fucking Northeast Liberal Elite. And who has the highest murder rates in the nation? It ain't us up here in the North, assholes.

Well this gravy train is fucking over. Take your liberal-bashing, federal-tax-leaching, confederate-flag-waving, holier-than-thou, hypocritical bullshit and shove it up your ass.

And no, you can't have your fucking convention in New York next time. Fuck off.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Bob Jones Doesn’t Speak For The Republican Party. Really. No…Really…

Via John Aravosis, this from republican talking head Charles Krauthammer, who says that all this talk of republicans winning on the gay bashing vote is just a bunch of stuff and nonsense:

In the 11 states in which the gay marriage referendums were held, Bush increased his vote by less than he did in the 39 states that did not have the referendum. The great anti-gay surge was pure fiction.

But this is only to say that in those states without an anti same sex marriage amendment on the ballot, Bush may well have lost. Without a doubt it made the difference in Ohio, and without Ohio John Kerry would now be the president elect. So Krauthammer’s thesis is false on its face. But since when did a little thing like truth matter to a republican?

Now that Bush has been reelected, there’s this…well…this little image problem. What does it say about a political party that they won by actively inciting anti-gay passions in the voters. Well…you could argue that hating gays is a perfectly legitimate moral position to take. But that only wins you the approval of the gutter, and the party suits aspire to more. What then to do? Well, and here’s where the true Stalinist stands apart from the rank and file wanna-be, you just say that it never happened…

This does not deter the myth of the Bigoted Christian Redneck from dominating the thinking of liberals and infecting the blue-state media. They need their moral superiority like oxygen, and they cannot have it cut off by mere facts. Once again they angrily claim the moral high ground, while standing in the ruins of yet another humiliating electoral defeat.

You could almost forget that Karl Rove made getting out the religious right vote in 2004 his top priority. It wasn’t a fringe group of bigoted rednecks that produced and mailed these out to voters in several states…

…it was the Republican National Committee. They actively courted the homophobe vote, which in turn demanded from Bush, and got, support for an amendment to the constitution of the united states, which literally writes out of the constitution the existence of same sex couples. The republican party actively courted the anti-gay vote this election, and for the very simple reason that without it, Bush simply could not have won. This is the fact that Krauthammer is pleased to call a humiliating defeat. And it is precisely the moral outrage at republican incitement of prejudice towards gay and lesbian Americans, to win an election, that Krauthammer contemptuously ridicules. But from one end of this country to the other, the republican party, and republican candidates for office, used the gay menace to harvest votes they absolutely needed to win:

The Republican Senate candidate in Oklahoma warns of "rampant" lesbianism in some schools in the state in a tape released Monday by his Democratic opponent.

The remark by Republican Tom Coburn drew a skeptical response from state educators.

"I don't believe that," said Keith Ballard, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. He said the group's attorneys "haven't said anything to me about that."

In the tape released by the campaign of Brad Carson, the Democratic candidate, Coburn says a campaign worker from Coalgate told him that "lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us?"

The Associated Press - GOP Senate candidate in Oklahoma speaks of 'rampant' lesbianism in schools

That the republicans believed inciting anti-gay prejudice would get them votes is beyond disputing by anyone but, naturally, a republican talking head. It worked. That is also beyond dispute. Now comes the morning after, and people from one end of the nation taking a good look at their republican neighbors for what may seem like the first time. And Krauthammer doesn’t like the looks his kind are now getting. But they earned those looks the old fashioned way.

Our moral superiority to the likes of you Charles, doesn’t come from any sort of grand striving on the part of most of us, so much as the belly flop you creeps have taken into the sewer. Goodness knows we in the reality based community are a mixed lot with problems of our own. We only look so good compared to you, because you guys have been in a moral free fall for decades now. Let’s hear it for the new Attorney General nominee, who told Bush he could legally look the other way while teenage boys in Iraq were raped in front of soldiers wearing uniforms with the words United States Of America stitched on them. He’s your man, and the president who wanted that opinion is also your man, and that says all that needs to be said about that open sewer your kind calls a conscience.

Far be it from us Charles, we gay and lesbian Americans who don’t hate ourselves just because runts like you do, far be it from all Americans, gay and straight, who believe in liberty and justice for all, who think that torture is evil, and especially so when done in the name of the United States and freedom, that waging war on a false pretext is vile when done by a totalitarian regime, and utterly depraved when done not only by a democracy, but by the bearer of the torch of liberty, far be it from we who think that a decent society is one that takes care of its elderly, educates its children and feeds its poor, far be it from us to rub our moral superiority in your face. Especially since you creeps have been wiping your face in your own bullshit for decades now. If it wasn’t clear before November 2 that our moral superiority is precisely why your kind hates us, it became crystal clear afterwards. But so what? The sight of decency and goodness makes you sick to your stomach, and the only thing we could possible do to make you like us any better, swim in your moral sewer, would make us hate ourselves. So there we are. You don’t like our attitude? Fuck you.

There are humiliating defeats and then there are humiliating victories. The squealing sound we are now hearing from Krauthammer is the sound of the slightly less then brain dead side of the republican party getting their heads around how to deal with the fact that November 2, 2004 was a victory, the stench of which their party will never live down, and which the United States of America may well be generations living down. But that’s what happens to sluts. We didn’t make you jump into bed with bigots Charles. You decided that winning elections was more important then actually being the upright patriotic decent moral citizens you keep babbling you are. Fine. You sleep with pigs, and people take notice of what that says about you. So much, so obvious. The morning after regret soon passes, a new election approaches, and you’ll sleep with those bigoted rednecks again Charles, because the nice boys and girls won’t have you anymore, and those bigots are the only fuck you’ve got.

[Edited a tad for clarity]

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday November 11, 2004

Bastards!

Fucking Gutter Crawling, Shit Eating Bastards!

(New York City) ABC news is preparing an investigative report that claims Matthew Shepard may not have been the victim of a hate crime, but rather a robbery that went terribly wrong.

The report is scheduled to air on 20/20 on Nov. 26. The network has not provided advance copies to the media.

...

Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney are serving double life sentences for the killing.

In statements to police and in plea bargains to avoid the death penalty both men admitted murdering Shepard and said they had targeted him because he was gay.

...

In a press release promoting the program 20/20 says that it will present "surprising revelations, including Laramie's underground world of methamphetamine use that may have contributed to the crime and whether or not Shepard knew his killers."

The ABC promotion says that their first interviews since they were convicted, McKinney and Henderson now claim Shepard's sexuality had nothing to do with the crime.

...

Michael Adams, the education director at Lambda Legal called promotion "disturbing"

"There is simply no way to 'de-gay' the murder of Matthew Shepard, Adams told 365Gay.com

"There were the statements of the murders at the time and the defense even argued 'gay panic' claiming that Shepard had come onto them."

...

But ABC defends the program.

"The murder of Matthew Shepard was and is a heinous and viscous crime," ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider told the Post.

"Exploring and re-examining the facts around that murder in a very thoughtful and in-depth way is the very essence of responsible journalism. This new information in no way diminishes the importance of the national conversation that took place after Matthew Shepard's murder."

365Gay.Com - ABC Investigation Claims Matthew Shepard May Not Have Been Hate Crime Victim

This new information in no way diminishes the importance of the national conversation that took place after Matthew Shepard’s murder. Right. Just the importance of anti-gay hate in that murder. The kid’s killers even tried on a gay panic defense for christ’s sake, and here comes ABC to say that his homosexuality had nothing to do with it.

McKinney's lawyer, Dion Custis, told jurors in his closings that his client was in an "emotional rage" when he beat Shepard. He stressed that McKinney is not a murderer and urged the jury to consider why the beating occurred.

"[McKinney] is not a cold-blooded murderer, ladies and gentlemen; he reacted," Custis said. "There was no thought process ... He hit him [Shepard] too many times. The question is why."

Custis stressed that McKinney was reacting to an unwanted alleged sexual advance by Shepard. Shepard, the defense claims, grabbed McKinney's crotch, sparking his own fatal beating. However, Custis would have wanted to further explore the alleged reasons for McKinney's violent reaction to Shepard's alleged advances, but he could not. On Monday, Judge Barton Voigt barred McKinney's defense from presenting a so-called "gay panic defense.

Court TV - Jury in Shepard murder trial enters second day of deliberations

It’s like saying antisemitism had nothing to do with why millions of jews were gassed by the Nazis. They were the victims of a national lice eradication program gone horribly wrong…

Hey everybody…homophobia isn’t killing homosexuals after all! Now let’s all look the other way like good Americans… ABC is grinding another lit cigarette into the body of that dead kid, and laughing at every other victim of anti gay violence in America, possibly for nothing more then ratings, although an interest with the anti-gay right in trivializing homophobia sure can’t be ruled out either. John Stossel and Chris Vlasto both have a track record of giving America the middle finger on behalf of the right wing gutter.

Either the executives at ABC figure their own kids are immune to the threat of anti-gay violence, or they don’t give a good goddamn any more about their own kids safety, then they do about anyone else’s. This is just the kind of wink and a nod to bigots that this nation needs right after a national election that saw some of the most vicious anti-gay political rhetoric ever. What ABC is doing here is trying to insure that the threat to innocent people is in no way diminished for the foreseeable future. Whether they are doing it from shear greed, or contempt, makes utterly no difference. ABC is pissing on the grave of a dead gay kid, and telling the bigots of America that it’s okay.

This, without a doubt, is going to get more gay people killed. ABC of course, will probably turn those murders into 20-20 episodes.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Picking My Brain…Part II

Pick this:

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The media tells us that you have received the largest number of popular votes of any president in America's history. Congratulations!

In your re-election, God has graciously granted Americaóthough she doesn't deserve itóa reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

Had your opponent won, I would have still given thanks, because the Bible says I must (I Thessalonians 5:18). It would have been hard, but because the Lord lifts up whom He will and pulls down whom He will, I would have done it. It is easy to rejoice today, because Christ has allowed you to be His servant in this nation for another presidential term. Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four yearsóa brief time onlyóto leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God.

Christ said, ìIf any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my father honourî (John 12:26).

The student body, faculty, and staff at Bob Jones University commit ourselves to pray for youóthat you would do right and honor the Savior. Pull out all the stops and make a difference. If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them. Conservative Americans would love to see one president who doesn't care whether he is liked, but cares infinitely that he does right.

Best wishes.

Sincerely your friend,

Bob Jones III
President
PS: A few moments ago I read this letter to the students in Chapel. They applauded loudly their approval.

When I told them that Tom Daschle was no longer the minority leader of the Senate, they cheered again.

On occasion, Christians have not agreed with things you said during your first term. Nonetheless, we could not be more thankful that God has given you four more years to serve Him in the White House, never taking off your Christian faith and laying it aside as a man takes off a jacket, but living, speaking, and making decisions as one who knows the Bible to be eternally true.

© 2004 Bob Jones Universitywebsite

Pick this:

H. J. RES. 56 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 21, 2003 Mrs. MUSGRAVE (for herself, Mr. HALL, Mr. MCINTYRE, Mr. PETERSON of Minnesota, Mrs. JO ANN DAVIS of Virginia, and Mr. VITTER) introduced the following joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

JOINT RESOLUTION Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

"Article --

"SECTION 1. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tanks On The Streets Of America…

Well…that didn’t take long…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Helpful Tips…

[GEEK ALERT] via rec.humor.funny.jokes…from the Aero-News.net article which mentions the Google graphic of SpaceShipOne:

(Aero-News advice: On a PC, right click and select "save as..." to save the image. On a Mac, option-click and choose "save image..." and if you are running Linux you don't need any advice)

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday November 10, 2004

What It Will Take To Win Them Over

Digby has another good post up about winning over the “heartland” and why it won’t work:

The fundamental problem is that the super Christians won't compromise on principle and the rest of these "values voters" are hypocrites. Nobody bought the v-chip in red state America or anywhere else. They don't want to take responsibility for what comes into their TV's, they want to hector people for "forcing" them to watch these horrible things while they pass the popcorn. These same people listen to Rush refer to Abu Ghraib as "blowing off steam" and think that Bill O'Reilly is a salt of the earth regular guy despite his little obsession with porn stars. There's your heartland values for you and they look surprisingly like the values you see on your television set. That's because they are.

"Heartland values" is just another world for tribal identity. And this division is about crying Uncle.

Here's a passage from Lincoln's speech at the Cooper Union (thanks CRL) in 1860. Tell me if this doesn't strike a chord:

The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly - done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated - we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas' new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.

So what else is new? We are dealing with an absolutist culture that demands total capitulation or nothing. Compromise will not work and it certainly will not work on these "values" issues. (Indeed, I think it's part of what makes us look weak to some other factions who might be willing to vote for us.) This is the same old shit over and over and over again. We backed off on the death penalty, gun control, welfare, affirmative action and here we are with a new slate of issues about gays. Tomorrow it will be creationism. Until we realize that their condition is that we FULLY EMBRACE their cultural dominance in both word and deed, they will not be satisfied.

It is not enough that they be left alone to do what they choose. We must join them and do it thoroughly and with fervor. No amount of tweaking will work. Their real beef is psychological and tribal. Issues are fungible.

That’s it exactly. For about a decade I argued with them on Usenet, in alt.politics.homosexuality. One of their repetitive arguments was that liberal morals were “relativistic” while their morals were superior by virtue of being aligned with tradition (pick one) or the biblical word of god (pick one). In any extended argument with these people over whether a set of moral values whose legitimacy was solely determined by picking some absolute authority figure could be said not to also be completely relativistic (relative that is, to which absolute authority you choose to submit to) their argument suddenly became very simple: okay…somebody’s moral values must win, and the only question is…whose?

They were saying to me in all seriousness, that it doesn’t matter whether moral values and judgments are correct, or what moral standards actually help or hurt us. It doesn’t matter ultimately whether or not a particular set of moral beliefs actually work. What matters is whose moral values rule. Theirs or ours (“ours” being any set of moral standards and values that aren’t theirs). Over and over again what I heard from them was, “Somebody’s morals have to win.”

So much for the immorality of relativism. Their’s is a concept of morality completely at odds with any sort of democratic values. Democracy takes as it’s working hypothesis, that freedom of conscience is a good thing. They believe exactly the opposite. They believe freedom of conscience is immoral. A rule of law in a democracy is different from the rule of tyrants in totalitarian states in exactly this: that there is, must be, room for individual conscience in a democracy. Democracy cannot exist, without freedom of conscience. Their Let’s Spread Democracy To The Rest Of The World rhetoric notwithstanding, the right does not believe in democracy.

The concretes, as Digby says, are fungible. One moment it’s gun control, the next its women’s rights. One moment its social security, the next its sex on TV. None of it is important. What’s important is do we ask how high, when they say jump. If we don’t, we’re persecuting them.

How do you fight against something like this? Well, actually it’s very simple: you live your own life, on your own terms, and not theirs. It seems to be the one thing they can’t stand…even if they are in complete control. They demand not just obedience, but acquiescence. And not only those, but respect. It is not enough that you obey massa, you must love him too. Every moment you don’t give it to them, you defeat them.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

No. Not Anymore You Don’t…

He calls me at work. We’ve known each other for years. He got me my first major contract as a software developer back in the early 1990s. Conservative, but not fundamentalist. To the right on most things, but with a disdain for religious right puritanism that I once took seriously. If only it was more principled, then simply do what you damn well please with everyone else, but leave me alone… Until this moment we’ve always been able to paper over our political differences.

Hello Bruce…blah blah blah…busy with my new contract…blah blah blah…working on some stuff here at home…blah blah blah…busy as all hell at work…blah blah blah…doing some Linux installs…blah blah blah…you run SuSE Linux at home, right?…blah blah blah…maybe I could pick your brain about SuSE sometime…blah blah blah…you off work tomorrow?

Busy eh? Actually, I might be busy too. You hear we had an election recently?

Oh yeah…blah blah blah……blah blah blah…

I’m getting my passport.

(Laughs) Well…the only reason I couldn’t vote for Kerry was…blah blah blah…blah blah blah…blah blah blah blah…

You see the those pamphlets the Republican National Committee mailed out to several states, saying that the democrats were going to establish same sex marriage and ban the bible?

Why no, I didn’t see those.

Right. Well, just because you have a fire escape plan doesn’t mean you expect to have a fire. But I think gay and lesbian Americans need to start working on their escape plan now, and if you think that’s funny, Be Glad You Can.

End of conversation. Pick my brain eh?

Pick this:

Pick this:

Pick this:

The news media have grossly misreported the contents of state referendum questions targeting Americans who are apparently seen as more dangerous to national security than John Kerry -- gay people.

Using unthinking shorthand that carries out the hidden agendas of the people who want gays banished to the fringes of society, the press has over and over again referred to these measures as banning gay marriage. In fact that is only accurate regarding three of the 11 initiatives passed last week.

In state after state -- most prominently in Ohio (which Bush barely won) and in Michigan (which he nearly did) -- these referendums went far beyond the question of who gets to be formally married. They also banned legal and other conventions incidental to marriage, which are central to the evolving institutions of civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Thomas Oliphant - The Boston Globe

Pick this:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 ó President Bush said today he supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, declaring that such a measure was the only way to protect the status of marriage between man and woman, which he called "the most fundamental institution of civilization."

In an announcement fraught with social, legal and political implications, Mr. Bush urged Congress to act on the amendment quickly and send it on to the state legislatures. Quick action is essential, he said, to bring clarity to the law and protect husband-and-wife marriages from a few "activist judges."

"The voice of the people must be heard," Mr. Bush said in a brief White House speech that Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, called an attempt to find "a wedge issue to divide the American people."

The New York Times - Bush Backs Ban in Constitution on Gay Marriage

Pick this:

Top White House strategist Karl Rove said Sunday that there's no doubt President Bush will use his second term to win support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Asked if Bush intends to "go ahead and push" for the gay marriage amendment, Rove told "Fox News Sunday's" Chris Wallace: "Absolutely."

"If we want to have a hopeful and decent society, we ought to aim for the ideal," the top Bush adviser explained. "And the ideal is that marriage ought to be and should be a union of a man and a woman." "We cannot allow activist judges to overturn that," he insisted. "We cannot allow activist local elected officials to thumb their nose at 5,000 years of human history and determine that marriage is something else."

The Liberty Press - Rove: Bush Will 'Absolutely' Push Gay Marriage Ban

Pick this:

In Oklahoma, Sam is being evicted from his ranch. He is 60 and faces life without Earl, his partner of 22 years. They built the ranch together and raised Samís three sons. When Earl died, he left the ranch to Sam in his will, but a legal technicality ñ having only two signatures and not threeóallowed one of Earlís cousins to challenge the will and evict Sam.

Gay City News - On Location in America

Pick this:

Evangelist Jerry Falwell is organizing battle plans for what he calls an "evangelical revolution."

The televangelist Tuesday said that last week's election shows that Americans want to return to "traditional values".

"We all, for the first time, began to realize the potential of religious conservatives, particularly evangelicals, when something over 30 million of them went to the polls," he said in announcing the new organization.

The Lynchburg, Virginia-based Falwell said the 'army' would be a "21st century resurrection of the Moral Majority," the organization he founded in 1979.

Called the Faith and Values Coalition, Falwell said that it would lobby for conservatives to fill openings on the Supreme Court and lower courts and would push for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the election of another "George Bush-type" conservative in 2008.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court allowing gay marriages "helped energize our people," Falwell told the Associated Press.

365Gay.Com - Falwell Plans Army To Battle Gays

Pick this:

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA: A state judge Tuesday imposed a partial gag order on lawyers and officials involved in the capital murder case of three people charged in the killing of a gay teenager.

Scotty Joe Weaver was murdered in his trailer home last month. (story) His body was then carted to a quiet dirt road where his killers set it on fire and then casually drove off, after robbing him of between $65 and $80. A man driving an all-terrain vehicle discovered Weaver's severely burned and decomposed body.

...

Robert Porter, 18, Christopher Ryan Gaines, 20, and Gaines' girlfriend, Nichole Kelsay, 18, are charged with murder. Authorities have said the Weaver's sexuality was believed to be a factor in the deadly assault.

...

Rusty Pigott, who represents Gaines, has said that Gaines did not kill Weaver and that Porter "spoke openly of wanting to kill the guy because he was gay."

365Gay.Com - Judge Places Partial Gag Rule On Gay Murder Trial

Pick this:

Pick this:

Pick this:

Pick this:

Pick this:

Pick is about the right word, isn’t it? Put the knife in my back, smile in my face and ask me for some answers to some stuff. There was a time when I thought that anyone who asks you a question should get both an answer and your respect; not only because they want to learn something new, but also because of the profound moral value that is the freedom of knowledge and information. We both grow a little, and the human race grows a little, when I share with you the knowledge I have. But that is Bruce from another time, in another age that seems now, so long, long ago. The person asking you a question may not so much be a fellow traveler down the road of life, willing to learn something new from it, as a cheat who has made a point of going though life looking over someone else’s shoulders for the answers to the test. Sorry son, but it’s time for you to stand on your own now.

The server you are trying to connect to (bruce) is behind a firewall. Systems outside of its local network, are not permitted to use its resources.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday November , 2004

Secession

Via Steve Gilliard, via Daily Kos, a bit of adorable wing nut babbling:

What is it with conservatives and their neverending rage? They control everything, yet they remain angry, angry, angry. Was it Jon Stewart who called it the "anger of the enfranchised"?

This winger, for instance, wants the US to expel the Blue States:

Yet, there are 38 states today that may be inclined to adopt, let us call it, a "Declaration of Expulsion," that is, a specific constitutional amendment to kick out the systemically troublesome states and those trending rapidly toward anti-American, if not outright subversive, behavior. The 12 states that must go: California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware. Only the remaining 38 states would retain the name, "United States of America." The 12 expelled mobs could call themselves the "Dirty Dozen," or individually keep their identity and go their separate ways, probably straight to Hell.

I’m not sure why Oregon and Washington survive the cataclysm, or Minnesota. And does this joker actually believe they’d get to keep Hawaii?

Kos was quoting there, from an article in Human Events a publication of the loony right. The article by Mike Thompson, titled, Declaration of Expulsion: A Modest Proposal begins in the usual We Can’t Get No Respect vein:

For many decades, conservative citizens and like-minded political leaders (starting with President Calvin Coolidge) have been denigrated by the vilest of lies and characterizations from hordes of liberals who now won't even admit that they are liberals--because the word connotes such moral stink and political silliness. As a class, liberals no longer are merely the vigorous opponents of the Right; they are spiteful enemies of civilization's core decency and traditions.

Traditions like war mongering, thievery, corruption, lynching, fag bashing, and misogyny…for instance.

My initial reaction to his list of states to expel was, and I’m not kidding, Yay…Maryland Made The List! We’re not called the Free State for nothing. But it wouldn’t be that simple. First of all, as I and other bloggers have been pointing out here, the red states feed off the blue, in terms of tax dollars (and probably in terms of all the other economic measurements too, but I’ve yet to see conclusive numbers on that). Right wing babblers like Thompson, and his knuckle dragging readership would probably love to see us go, but their political leaders will know better. What?? Take Away Our Pork??? At minimum, they would probably demand alimony.

California, suffering the economic pain it is, for all of that is still something like the 7th largest economy, in the world. The Confederate States of America still, almost 140 years after the civil war, can’t pay their own bills. And they’re going to expel the part that pays them? I don’t think so.

Secondly, a lot of blue states have significant red counties, and vice-versa. Tempting as it is, you can’t neatly divide the country by states. Central California is not the California coast, and central Maryland is not the eastern shore.

If you still think it’s a good idea, ponder this; what do you think happens to the people in the little blue enclaves of a new Confederacy? Here…let me give you a hint:

I think Kos is right though. Considering that this guy wants to expel eight of the original thirteen colonies, we should keep the name “United States Of America”.

Steve Gilliard posts something from a reader who is all for secession though:

Let them have what they want. Let them have the totalitarian theocratic feudal system they want so much. See how long they last. No FDA: good luck with that aspirin. Enjoy your hamburger! No CDC, no OSHA, no EPA. No labor laws, no minimum wage, no right to sue the corporation that put the mercury in their medicine and arsenic in their water and whose machinery ripped their arm off. No right to declare bankruptcy. Let them wallow in their hatred of us and when they need us and all our works, they can just go pray to Jesus.

As Joe Conason writes,

Liberal policies made America the freest, wealthiest, most successful and most powerful nation in human history. Conservatism in power always threatens to undo that national progress, and is almost always frustrated by the innate decency and democratic instincts of the American people...

If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights -- you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable -- you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family -- you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn't black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green -- you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society -- you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances.

It's ours--we fought and died for it. They don't want it; they never did. So fuck them. Walk away.

Listen: in Tao, absence is a strong as presence. I am not advocating hatred. I am not saying to fight them, or be mean to them. I am saying, stop trying to give them something they don't want. It isn't working. When you fight, your energy feeds what you're fighting against. When you resist, your resistance props it up. When you hate, you become what you hate.

And when you keep reaching out your hand in loving kindness to someone who hates your fucking guts and wants you dead, you're an idiot.

So stop it.

Stop enabling them.

Go read the rest of it. It’s a pure howl of anger…but it’s pretty much what I’ve been working up to here. We need to stop supporting people who despise us. We need to stop enabling them.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Come…Let Us Reason Together… On Second Thought…

Some people on the left…Ralph Nader and his (rapidly shrinking group of) supporters for example…believe that in order for things to get better politically in America, they have to get worse. That is, the people voting republican, have to really feel the pain of republican policies before they’ll wake up and smell the coffee. But it is they who need to wake up and smell the coffee:

A plethora of End-Time preachers, tracts, films, and websites hawk environmental cataclysm as Good News -- a harbinger of the imminent Second Coming. Hal Lindsey's 1970 End-Time "non-fiction" work, The Late Great Planet Earth, is the classic of the genre; the movie version pummels viewers with stock footage of nuclear blasts, polluting smokestacks, raging floods, and killer bees. Likewise, dispensationalist author Tim LaHaye's "Left Behind" novels -- at one point selling 1.5 million copies per month -- weave ecological disaster into an action-adventure account of prophesy.

At RaptureReady.com, the "Rapture Index" tracks all the latest news in relation to biblical prophecy. Among its leading environmental indicators of Apocalypse are oil supply and price, famine, drought, plagues, wild weather, floods, and climate. RaptureReady webmaster Todd Strandberg writes to explain why climate change made the list: "I used to think there was no real need for Christians to monitor the changes related to greenhouse gases. If it was going to take a couple hundred years for things to get serious, I assumed the nearness of the End Times would overshadow this problem. With the speed of climate change now seen as moving much faster, global warming could very well be a major factor in the plagues of the tribulation."

Grist Magazine - The Godly Must Be Crazy

What we’re dealing with here, when we’re dealing with the religious right and fundamentalism, are people who think that the worse things get, the better it is…because that means Armageddon is coming, And That’s A Good Thing. They see their world collapsing around them, and they’ll think it’s the second coming on its way. Their lives become a ruin of poverty and disease and they’ll see that as proof that god’s kingdom is at hand.

Let it be said, and said often, that there are Christians who are horrified by this attitude. It is a peculiarly American delusion of Christianity that has much of the rest of the world, particularly Europe, mystified and appalled. This is not feed the hungry and clothe the poor Christianity, it is Let The World Rot And Good Riddance Christianity. It is not, love your neighbor, forgive your enemies and strive for peace between foes Christianity, but We Can’t Wait To See Everyone We Hate Burning In Eternal Fire Christianity. There is no Christ in American fundamentalism. Ironically, for all their hatred of elitism, American fundamentalism is itself a kind of elitism. We are the ones God loves…and you’re not…

Appealing to the common good, and making this world a better place then you found it with this crowd is just going to get you a blank stare at best, if it doesn’t get you an earful of vilification. Only satan’s agents want to make this world a better place. God’s chosen understand that things are supposed to get worse. So how do we get them off our backs?

The social contract used to be that in exchange for our own freedom of conscience in spiritual values, we respected our neighbor’s. We didn’t have to share their religious beliefs, so long as we all shared a common belief in government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We lived in a state of mutual cooperation in our every day to day affairs, even if we didn’t share the same religious beliefs. That contract is in tatters now, as the religious right demands that America become a government of the fundamentalists, by the fundamentalists, and for the fundamentalists. Fine. No more cooperation. No more courtesies. No more extended hand in fellowship. You say we are evil? Fine. Let us not trouble you anymore with our thoughts. May you live unfettered by a single shred of help from the reality based community, in your separate reality. From now on, you can face it by yourselves.

Of course, this will just make them feel even more vindicated, but that’s fine. They don’t need to see the light…we do. We need to see that by helping them avoid reality, we’re enabling them, and ultimately their attacks on everything we hold dear. We need, like someone with an addict in the family, to stop enabling them. We in the reality based community, by virtue of our courage in dealing with and understanding reality, have been enabling the fundamentalists for generations, to cheat it. But for trained biologists, people practicing a discipline of knowledge they condemn as satanic, many of them wouldn’t even be alive now. Yet they hate us. Fine. We don’t have do, we should not, hate them in return, because generating hate within us is just another way they have of sucking the joy of life out of us. But we should stop enabling them. The social contract is dead, until the day they decide they want to live by it again. Until that day, let them live in the separate reality they’ve woven for themselves, by themselves.

Need directions? Sorry, I’m evil. You don’t want evil giving you directions do you? Maybe you should just pray for directions instead of asking me. Want to know what time it is? I’m sorry, but I’m evil. You wouldn’t trust evil to give you the correct time of day would you? Ask god to tell you what time it is.

Discriminating against you for your religious beliefs now am I? Why…no. Not at all. I’m evil. You’ve said so yourself. You don’t want to be troubled by evil any more do you? Okay. I’m not troubling you any more. Now go make yourself a nice warm glass of Get The Fuck Out Of My Face.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday November 8, 2004

The War On Gay Americans…(continued)

Thomas Oliphant in today’s Boston Globe has a good column about the anti-gay marriage amendments voters passed in eleven states last tuesday. He rightly points out that in all but three of those votes, the voters were not merely voting to ban same sex marriage, but to strip same sex couples from any and all legal recognition:

THE NEWS media have grossly misreported the contents of state referendum questions targeting Americans who are apparently seen as more dangerous to national security than John Kerry -- gay people.

Using unthinking shorthand that carries out the hidden agendas of the people who want gays banished to the fringes of society, the press has over and over again referred to these measures as banning gay marriage. In fact that is only accurate regarding three of the 11 initiatives passed last week.

In state after state -- most prominently in Ohio (which Bush barely won) and in Michigan (which he nearly did) -- these referendums went far beyond the question of who gets to be formally married. They also banned legal and other conventions incidental to marriage, which are central to the evolving institutions of civil unions and domestic partnerships.

He goes on to note the essential deception in those votes, and the press’s casual indifference to them:

For political reasons, it was central to the hidden agendas of the groups pushing these restrictions (the target is homosexuality, not relationships between homosexuals) that they not become the focus of the debate.

Therefore marriage was used as the cover for the far more consequential effort to strip contractual rights from gay couples who have formed hundreds of thousands of families in recent years across the United States.

That is why proponents described them repeatedly as efforts to ban gay or same-sex marriage, a formulation the press has mindlessly repeated. It reminds me of the success of groups who spent nearly a decade on behalf of banning a rare pregnancy procedure, the name for which was invented solely for political and shock-value purposes -- partial-birth abortion. Again, the press's lazy penchant for a catch phrase, unexamined for accuracy, led reporters and editors to mindlessly repeat the phrase.

Unforgivably, the press didn’t care, and essentially looked the other way while an American minority had one of the most basic of human rights stripped away. But also, many of our neighbors, friends and family members, also looked the other way. We were there. They could have asked us what was at stake. Some did and still did not care. Others couldn’t be bothered. It is unforgivable.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

We Resent You, Because Resentment Is The Only Value We’ve Ever Had

Damn good post up on Digby’s Blog. He starts with this big dose of claptrap from one of the literary world’s claptrap kings, Tom Wolfe:

I think support for Bush is about not wanting to be led by East-coast pretensions. It is about not wanting to be led by people who are forever trying to force their twisted sense of morality onto us, which is a non-morality. That is constantly done, and there is real resentment. Support for Bush is about resentment in the so-called 'red states' ó a confusing term to Guardian readers, I agree ó which here means, literally, middle America.

To which Digby responds, in part:

I'm not going to take a stand against "heartland values" or "southern culture" whatever it's defined as this week. It seems to me that it would be worthless, because this battle is obviously tribal, not specific to any particular issue. Slavery and Jim Crow are long gone. Now it's religion and gays. The lines are drawn as they've always been and there will be no reconciliation through politics. Even a bloody civil war couldn't do that.

History suggests that the southern culture has always been as defined by it's resentment toward the rest of the country as much as anything else. The so-called bi-coastal liberal elites certainly don't think of themselves as having a lot in common with each other, other than being Americans. People from Los Angeles and Vermont call themselves Californians and New Englanders, respectively. I don't think they believe they share a "culture." People in Seattle call themselves pacific northwesterners. People in New York call themselves New Yorkers --- Chicagoans midwesterners. They identify themselves by their specific region and a broader identity as Americans, not by this alleged Bi-coastal cultural alliance. This notion of two easily identifiable cultures is only held by the people who used to call themselves the confederacy and now call themselves "the heartland." That alone should be reason to stop and question what is really going on here.

Well, it’s also a notion held by a few eastern establishment jackasses like Wolfe and David Brooks…but…Exactly. Go read the whole thing, because Digby dips into some history there that is truely illuminating. For instance, from a speech given at the centennial of the civil war by historian Stephen Z. Starr:

...it is tragic to think that for two generations, the mental energies of the South were devoted to elaborating justifications of slavery - perhaps to appease its own feelings of guilt - to the exclusion of every other form of cultural activity.

[...]

The second basic issue between the sections lay in the area of politics; necessarily so, for it was in the political arena that the problems between the sections were fought out until the South decided that political solutions, reached by a process of give and take, were no longer adequate to protect its "honor and self-respect."

Bear in mind that middle and upper class Southerners were politicians by birthright. Active participation in politics was, in the South, a way of life. One would expect, therefore, to find a much greater degree of political skill and acumen there than in the North. What one finds there instead is demagogy, bombast, irresponsibility, incompetence, a childish refusal to come to grips with realities, and a habitual substitution of slogans, symbols and bogeymen for facts. These are strong statements, but hardly strong enough to fit the situation.

The South had an almost unbroken control of the Federal Government from 1789 until secession. The presidents were either Southerners., or Northerners like Pierce and Buchanan, who were mere puppets in the hands of Southern senators and cabinet members. For seventy years, the Supreme Court had a majority of Southern justices. With the aid of its Northern allies and the three-fifths rule, the South controlled one or both houses of Congress. The fifteen Slave States, with a white population of not quite eight million, had 30 senators, 90 representatives, and 120 electoral votes, whereas the State of New York, with a population of four million had two senators, 33 representatives, and 35 electoral votes. Even the election of 1860 left the South in control of both houses of Congress, and until at least 1863, Lincoln and the Republicans would have been powerless to pass legislation hostile to the South, and through its control of the Senate, the South could have blocked the confirmation of every Lincoln appointee whom it considered unfriendly. In spite of this, and notwithstanding Lincoln's repeated assurances that he would not, directly or indirectly, interfere with slavery where it already existed, the South chose to secede.

So the South was in almost complete control when Lincoln was elected, yet it still chose secession. And you get the sense that even complete control wouldn’t have been enough. They would have still felt persecuted by the rest of the country.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Values

Fundamentalist radio host Frank Pastore, shouts triumphantly for Bush and the rise of fundamentalism, in the L.A. Times:

Christians, in politics as in evangelism, are not against people or the world. But we are against false ideas that hold good people captive. On Tuesday, this nation rejected liberalism, primarily because liberalism has been taken captive by the left. Since 1968, the left has taken millions captive, and we must help those Democrats who truly want to be free to actually break free of this evil ideology.

Evil? Evil? Here’s what they were saying on the Free Republic web site, about Elizabeth Edwards’ breast cancer (via The Peking Duck):

Could explain her dimentia in talking about the Cheney's daughter. Prayers..

Elizabutt has breast cancer

If I were a doctor, I'd be frightened to treat the wife of a guy who sues doctors for a living.

a pity for sure, but good luck finding a doctor to treat the wife of the most vicious medical malpractice attorney in the nation...what goes around comes around I guess.

she could always go to canada or cuber to get the very best treatment possible.

I want her well, but NOT treated here.

any doctor here who treats her should have his head examined.

It's also a shame because, if it wasn't for her bottom-feeding trial lawyer husband, doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies probably would have found a cure for breast cancer by now...

would you bet YOUR house, your kids college on Edwards wife?

Send her to cuber. Libs say their system is better than ours.

....revenge is mine sayeth the LORD!!!!!!!!!

God is not mocked, you reap what you sow. I'm sorry folks but we all have to learn that you cannot go around spewing hatred and leave the door wide open to satan.

sometimes boobs have problems....

"God dont like ugly" (behavior)

This is the republican grass roots talking. You could argue that they would know what evil looks like, because they see it every day in the bathroom mirror. And they voted for Bush, because he is one of them.

From Joshua Marshall, we learn that the republican leadership is claiming somewhat more then a simple bare majority for Bush, on the basis of a little handly spinning of the numbers:

I keep returning again and again to this issue of the comical overstatement of the Republican victory last Tuesday. But let me just hit at least once on two of the silliest talking points of those pushing this argument.

First is the argument, voiced by Mr Cheney and others, that President won with more popular votes than any president in history. A truly silly point. Yes, the president got more popular votes than any other candidate in history. He is followed by John Kerry. And Kerry is followed by Ronald Reagan and Al Gore, in that order.

The fact that the president got more popular votes than anybody in the past isn't a measure of the margin of his victory. It's a measure of population growth, which (unless he's more of a bounder than we know) he is not responsible for, and a high-turnout election, for which his unpopularity is as responsible as his popularity...

False ideas anyone? More popular votes then anybody in the past… This is an argument that is deceitful on its face, and if anyone knows why, it’s the very same people making it. If anyone has an agenda of false ideas in America these days, it’s the republicans and the fundamentalists.

Values. The more our enemies speak of them, the more you can see they don’t have any. They have merely appropriated the language of people who do. That would be the rest of us. So they speak our language, but there is no more meaning behind it, other then the knife held firmly in one hand, where you just catch a glimpse of it every now and then, right before they swing it at you.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Nineteen, And In Iraq

This post from a nineteen year old soldier in Iraq, by way of The Peking Duck:

If you voted for Bush, didn't vote, or voted no on gay marriage, I hope you get drafted. I hope they stick you in my unit, and you go with me to Iraq when my unit goes back in September. I will laugh when you see what soldiers in that country face on a daily basis. I hope you work with gay soldiers too. I did. One of them saved my life. Think he shouldn't have the right to get married? Fuck you. He fought just as hard as I did and on most days, did his job better than me. Don't tell me gays don't have the same rights you do. Think the war in Iraq is a good thing? I'll donate my M-16 to you and you can go in my place.

Something to hold in your mind, for the next time you read about some pentagon assault on the rights and dignity of gay and lesbians in the ranks. Don’t assume that the person in uniform you meet has the same knuckle-dragging anti-gay prejudices the pentagon chiefs do.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Americano

This one from H.L. Mencken is bitterly making the rounds in the blogs of the reality based community. Mencken, let it be said, despised Roosevelt and the New Deal democrats. Yet, he knew what the fifty-one percent who voted for the gutter last Tuesday look like too:

He likes money and knows how to amass property, but his cultural development is but little above that of the domestic animals. He is intensely and cocksurely moral, but his morality and his self-interest are crudely identical...He is a violent nationalist and patriot, but he admires rogues in office and always beats the tax-collector if he can. He has immovable opinions about all the great affairs of state, but nine-tenths of them are sheer imbecilities. He is violently jealous of what he conceives to be his rights, but brutally disregardful of the other fellow's...Thus man, whether city or country bred, is the normal Americano - the 100 percent...He exists in all countries, but here alone he rules...

Sound familiar? I did a little searching and found other good bits and pieces from what I think is this Mencken essay. When I have time I’ll try to locate which one it is:

Firmness in decision is often merely a form of stupidity. It indicates an inability to think the same thing out twice.

The American, in other words, thinks that the sinner has no rights that any one is bound to respect, and he is prone to mistake an unsupported charge of sinning, provided it be made violently enough, for actual proof and confession.

The very essence of Americanism is the doctrine that the other fellow, if he happens to be in a minority, has absolutely no rights - that enough is done for him when he is allowed to live at all.

It remains impossible...to separate the democratic idea from the theory that there is a mysterious merit, an esoteric and ineradicable rectitude, in the man at the bottom of the scale - that inferiority, by some strange magic, becomes a kind of superiority...

Theoretically, the American people should be happier than any other; actually, they are probably the least happy in Christendom. The trouble with them is that they do not trust one another - and without mutual trust there can be no ease, and no genuine happiness. What avails it for a man to have money in the bank and a Ford in his garage if he knows that his neighbors on both sides are watching him through knotholes, and that the pastor of the tabernacle down the road is planning to have him sent to jail? The thing that makes life charming is not money, but the society of our fellow men, and the thing that draws us to our fellow men is not admiration for their inner virtues, their hard striving to live according to the light that is in them, but admiration for their outer graces and decencies - in brief, confidence that they will always act generously and understandingly in their intercourse with us. We must trust them before we may enjoy them. Manifestly, it is impossible to put any such trust in a Puritan. With the best intentions in the world he cannot rid himself of the delusion that his duty to save us from our sins...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday November 7, 2004

Freedom

From gay poet Langston Hughes, via Silent Lucidity :

Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Freedom
Is a strong seed
Planted
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday November 6, 2004

Those Wacky Tax And Spend Southern Conservatives…

Daniel Gross has a column up on Slate, that gets to the roots of that phenomena I noted earlier, about red state tax leaching of blue states…

In decades past, increasing Republican dominance of the House and Senate would have meant more fiscal discipline. But Republicans increasingly dominate the states that are net drains on Federal taxes—the Southern and Great Plains states—while fading in the coastal states that produce a disproportionate share of federal revenue. (It's Republicans, not Democrats, who are sucking on the federal teat.) What Amity Shlaes quaintly identified in today's Financial Times as the "southern culture of tax cutting" has been married to the southern culture of failing to generate wealth and the southern culture of depending on federal largesse. The offspring is an unsightly deficit monster.

But one, let it be said, highly agreeable to the southern republicans. Self righteousness is always easier when someone else is paying your bills.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

What Is A Friend?

This article in the Advocate by Jim David is a good short summary of my feelings right now, toward the friends in my life who voted for Bush last Tuesday:

"Moral values" won. Values that Bush promotes and that do not include us. My relationship of 17 years has no value whatsoever to these people. It has value to my friends, even the friends who voted for Bush. But in the name of lower taxes or terrorism or better cat food or whatever, they still voted against me. So maybe they don't value me that much after all.

It comes into focus more clearly, when you read Jim’s article in combination with this one, from Rod Abid:

Back in the mid and late '90s I was assigned to work in Bosnia and Kosovo, where I learned several things.

(1) The Bosnians and Kosovars who didn't leave and were there for the war wished they'd paid attention to the many signs of their nation falling off the precipice. They didn't imagine that the cultural differences in their nation would result in an all-out war.

(2) The people who didn't leave couldn't imagine that things could turn so bad so quickly.

(3) The people who didn't leave knew that the Serbs could hate them, but didn't imagine that the hatred would come to them in the form of their neighbors turning them over to homicidal paramilitary groups

These people saw signs of a clearly gathering threat. But they didn't, or couldn't, get out in time.

I learned that when the center doesn't hold things can get ugly very quickly...

Read this one, and ask yourself how a friend could even think of putting you in that kind of danger. There is no mistaking the hate coming from the Bush power base toward gay and lesbian people. And there is no denying what that hate is trying now, and looks absolutely poised to do. Federal. Marriage. Amendment. They want to write us literally out of the constitution. That kind of thing has always been the prelude for mass murder. Maybe it seems like a wildly remote possibility now. Maybe that’s just how it seemed to all the dead in Bosnia and Kosovo. If you have a straight friend, and the FMA alone couldn’t prevent them from supporting Bush, then to put it bluntly, they are no friends of yours. What you thought was their love, was merely patronization. There is no spiritual attachment there. You are the television set they keep on while they do the household chores. Something to fill a temporary void in the day. If the worst should ever come to pass, they will look the other way when the militiamen come for you. They will tell themselves that you wouldn’t have come into harm’s way, if you had just stayed in the closet. They will tell themselves it wasn’t their fault you had to be so obvious about it. They are the people who will say someday, We heard the rumors, but we did not believe them…

They don’t love you. They never did. Let it go. Move on.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Courting Gays…?

John Aravosis has a post up with a list of companies that are attending the Gay Life Expo in New York City this weekend. In the New York Post, which is gay friendly like Focus On The Family is gay friendly, a spokesman for the management company that organizes the event every year, speaks thusly:

Companies are here just to reach everyone on a personal level. When exhibitors see gays and lesbians, they don't see politics; they see dollars. It's good business.

Well and good…but are these companies also major republican fundraisers? I want to make a distinction here, between companies that routinely give money in a non-partisan fashion, to promote their own business interests, and companies, like Sinclair Broadcasting for example, who pour money into the republican party, and whose executives are republican party activists. Companies that court the gay market with one hand, while working to make sure America is dominated for generations to come by right wing republican politicans are no friends of the gay community, and we should know that buying from those companies, is exactly like giving money to the Christian Coalition.

The Post article takes pains to stress that the average income of the Expo attendees is just over 90k, and that according to polling data, about 24 percent of gays cast votes for Bush. That’s a number I’ve already heard and one I find highly suspect. But to anyone who has ever read the claptrap on the Independant (sic) Gay Forum, it’s not completely out of the rhelm of possibility either. But if any newspaper is likely to throw around bogus numbers about gay support for Bush, it’s the New York Post.

The businesses at the Expo are smoozing with rich conservative gays, according to the Post, and in the shadow of the anti-gay takeover of the federal government, they’ll all have one big happy party. Welcome to the Hotel Unity Coalition:

But he said the more than 250 commercial exhibitors have made plans to steer clear of any political controversies. There will be plenty of booze and food samples, however. "They want business, not problems," he said...

Swell. And hey…so do we. So if you’re a big company that’s helping to fund our problems, you might not get our business anyway. Thanks for the booze though.

Look at it this way…the more money your average gay Adam and Steve, and Alice and Eve have to spend on political campaigns, fighting the republicans over our rights as Americans, the less we have to spend on all your pretty toys.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Election Map…Corrected For Density…

From The Blogging Of The President site, comes another color map of the 2004 vote…this one being more useful because it factors in population density:

Click on the image for a larger version. Again, there are some notable exceptions to the urban/blue rule, but they are the ones you would expect. Texas everywhere but Austin, and interestingly El. Paso, Brownsville, and all along the southern tip near Mexico. Phoenix, but not Tucson, and interestingly not Albuquerque, which has a big Air Force base. Roswell, and the area around White Sands is predictably pink, but this again is the military presence. In Colorado, the red and the blue around Denver seem to be locked in a struggle, while Colorado Springs, again a big military center, is predictably red. Pueblo just to its south however is a friendly blue. The areas outside of Los Angles and south along the coast are deep red, but the rest of the coastal urban centers are blue all the way to Canada, with the exception of Salem Oregon. The San Joaquin Valley is California’s agriculture center, which accounts for the redness there.

Yes…there is a lot of red there. But look at the blue, turning up in places you might not have expected it. Look at the blue all along the upper Mississippi river…the swaths of blue going through Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, south-eastern Virginia and northern North Carolina. Remember, this is the Bush Kerry vote map. The solid south, it turns out, isn’t all that solid.

Now, at any rate, I know where I can peacefully vacation. And this will make a good map to help me evaluate future spending. I can just look up where a company operates from, and this map will tell me if I should spend my money there. That’s better I think, then penalizing a whole state for it’s electoral vote. It may have only been a single concentration of republican voters that did it, while the rest of the state is democratic. There is a lot of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado that is blue. We shouldn’t boycott those parts of those states, because of the lunatics in the rest of them. The democratic parts of those states deserve our support.

Which is not to say that companies that support the republicans do, even if they are in blue states, or in blue parts of blue states. But that’s a subject for another chart I think…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday November 5, 2004

Liberal, Verses Bible Belt Values…

Something to remember, the next time someone starts babbling about Massachusetts Liberals:

PRESIDENT Bush and Vice President Cheney make reference to "Massachusetts liberals" as if they were referring to people with some kind of disease. I decided it was time to do some research on these people, and here is what I found.

The state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation is Massachusetts. At latest count it had a divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 population, while the rate for Texas was 4.1.

But don't take the US government's word for it. Take a look at the findings from the George Barna Research Group. George Barna, a born-again Christian whose company is in Ventura, Calif., found that Massachusetts does indeed have the lowest divorce rate among all 50 states. More disturbing was the finding that born-again Christians have among the highest divorce rates.

According to the article, the culprits in the bible belt divorce rate are the usual suspects: more people, with less education, marrying at a young age. The bible belt also has the highest per capita percentage of teenage pregnancies. So…they can’t run their own intimate lives anywhere except into a gutter, yet they figure themselves qualified to run everyone else’s.

Hypocrites…or runts who just hate everyone else for getting the knack of living life better then they could, and want to drag the world down with them? You decide…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Let Them Eat Values…

An Interesting post from Digby, on the realities of calling the Bush re-election a vote on values. He quotes the Slate article making the rounds, which refreshingly challenges the notion that values were the overriding motivation of Bush voters. The values vote in fact, was according to the Slate article, about the same as in 2000. What made the difference Slate argues, was the terrorism vote.

Yet Digby argues, along with Tom Schaller, that we should let the values albatross hang around the republican party’s neck anyway, because that will alienate its Wall Street, and small business wing.

I’m not sure that’s true. Yes, you’d think self interest and the cold hard bottom line would make those people more wary of the ambitions of the religious right, but let’s face it, if it hasn’t by now, then that’s a self evident bit of logic that is missing a premise somewhere.

The myth of the rugged individualist tycoon, who hates government interference in the private affairs of citizens, is as much a part of the American storybook as the western gunslinger who single-handedly fights for law and justice, and just as tenuously connected to reality. Yes, there were a few of those, but they were the exception. A good chunk of the bottom line in many big businesses in America these days, comes from government spending, a fact which republicans are now busy turning into a banana republic system of patronage. In another time, in the face of a different world crisis, American businessmen had no trouble taking money from the Nazis, who were respected in those days for making their trains run on time, and never mind that they were doing it with political prisoners and other slave labor. Can you say China? The fact is that while business may loath socialism, it is not at all adverse to national socialism, if you know what I mean. When the bottom line collides with the authoritarian impulses of the powerful, all too often the powerful decide that power itself can cheat the bottom line, can cheat reality.

The reality based community is not necessarily to be found on Wall Street. If it was, then stock markets would not crash.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

I Got Your Fresh Start Right Here…

So this campaign was decided on moral values was it…?

Pretty hard to vote on the basis of your moral values, when you don’t have any, wouldn’t you say…?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

I Got Your Mandate Right Here…

Via Tom Tomorrow, whose headline I just stole, via Pandagon, take a good look at what the republicans call a mandate:

Of course, as I said before, percentages are meaningless in American politics now, because the entire republican party has adopted the model of the Christian Coalition, which is that only winning matters, and winners can do whatever they damn well please to the loosers.

What they’re doing, is using the mandate word to drape a curtain of legitimacy over what will be in the next two years at least, a spree knifing of as much of the American Dream as they can swing at.

When Pat Buchanan was a speechwriter for Richard Nixon he advised, “If we tear the country in half, we can pick up the bigger half.” There’s all the mandate republicans want, right there. Don’t be afraid to use the word Bullshit whenever a republican uses the word mandate in your presence. There is no mandate. There is only the usual republican contempt for America. United we do not stand, so long as the republicans can help it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

No Extended Hand…No Starting Over…No Breaks…

From Steve Gilliard, who you really should read:

2) Bush gets no breaks. He fucks up, we hammer him. We raise all kinds of issues, from his vacation time to his plan to gut social security. They chased Clinton for six years. He never got a chance to breathe. All bad deeds should be punished. Bush wants to act like he has a mandate. Let's not pretend he has one. We oppose him from today. We demand answers for Abu Gharib and the missing explosives. Fuck Andy Sullivan. He doesn't start over and we cut him no slack. None. He speaks, we protest. They say get over it, we say fuck you. You didn't get over Clinton. Nope. Not this time. Because our goal is to drive as many of you from office as possible. We don't want to work with you on gutting social security or some dumbass medical savings plan. We plan on stopping you.

Yes.

Kerry had to stop fighting, the Dems in Congress better not, if they want to keep their jobs. Accomodation doesn't work in the face of evil. Never has, never will. These people want to kill the New Deal and if we don't fight them every step of the way, they will. And God knows how long that will take to fix. We know Bush is wrong. We have to act like it.

Yes. Emphatically yes. Accomodation doesn’t work in the face of evil…We know Bush is wrong. We have to act like it.

You should go read the rest of it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Who Is Paying For The Assault On Homosexuals? Why…We Are…

A couple years ago, I wrote the following here:

Ray Bradbury got it wrong. In the future, totalitarians won't burn books, they'll sell the people all the books they want, edited, with all the distressing passages changed to be more comforting. The poor lady who complained to Montag in Truffaut's film version of Fahrenheit 451, that she hated books because she read one once and it made her cry, needn't worry. In the future, no book will make you cry if you don't want it to.

The Nazis shouldn’t have burned the books…they should have just replaced them all with new and improved editions that better conformed to the newly passed Nuremberg Laws. In Texas, they know how to do it right.

Via John Aravosis, we learn that the Texas State Board Of Education wants textbook publishers to heed their new law, banning recognition of same sex marriages:

A State Board of Education member stalled a vote to approve middle school health textbooks Thursday by saying the books should condemn homosexuality and make clear that marriage exists only between men and women," reports the Austin-Statesman.

Board member Terri Leo, R-Spring, called for about 30 changes to teachers' and students' editions of proposed health books in grades six through eight.

The board skipped a preliminary vote on the books after a representative for the books' publisher, Holt Rinehart and Winston, said the company would consider Leo's changes and report back before today's final vote...

Leo said that three of the 10 middle school books up for approval would not conform to a state law banning the recognition of same-sex unions as marriages. She said they endorse same-sex marriage by referring to the heads of families as couples or adults instead of husbands and wives or fathers and mothers.

One passage in a teachers' edition says that "surveys indicate that 3 to 10 percent of the population is gay. No one knows for sure why some people are straight, some are bisexual and others are gay."

Leo wanted to replace those sentences with: "Opinions vary on why homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals as a group are more prone to self-destructive behaviors like depression, illegal drug use and suicide."

Here’s a pretty obvious place to start the resistance. Textbooks are the cash cows of the publishing houses, and the Texas public school system is one of the biggest single customers. Over the years we’ve heard stories about how they’ve been able, because of their sheer buying power, to stifle truthful information about evolution in biology text books. Now they are demanding that textbook publishers not merely omit truthful information about homosexuality…they want the publishers to print them books which demonize homosexuals.

Imagine for a moment, what that will do to the learning environment of gay and lesbian kids. Make you angry does it?

There’s a simple answer. Publishers should know, that if they produce textbooks that vilify homosexuals, they will be boycotted. They can bullshit the rest of the nation all they want about it…yap about censorship, print all the gay titles they want and call themselves a friend of the gay community…donate money to liberal, progressive and gay causes…put gay people in token spots on their board of directors…run booths at pride day festivals…argue that their Texas textbooks don’t reflect their own personal viewpoint, but are just business decisions they have to make in a competitative marketplace…whatever. If they try to publish under a subsidiary, make the link to that subsidiary public and hold the parent company responsible. If they run a booth at Pride Day, stand next to it with a large poster with passages from their Texas textbooks on it. If they run ads in gay papers, run ads in those same papers, or print a bunch of flyers and pass them around, with that same text. Any book publisher who prints Opinions vary on why homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals as a group are more prone to self-destructive behaviors like depression, illegal drug use and suicide in a textbook meant to be read by gay school kids and their peers, almost six years after Matthew Shepard was murdered, should know that they are not selling any more books to gay Americans, democrats and progressives again, and it won’t matter what else they publish.

Nobody with a shred of basic human decency kicks gay kids in the face for money.

For years they’ve been saying in the drug wars, that drug money goes into the pockets of murdering drug lords, that the blood on the streets is the responsibility of the people who buy drugs. Now you can make a case that the money those drug lords are killing people over is only there because of the prohibition in the first place, but never mind. If it’s wrong to buy drugs because people are dying, then it’s wrong to buy from companies that promote anti-gay hate, because that sure as hell gets people killed too:

This week, following the murder of a gay man in a London park, police announced they were beginning a criminal investigation into the music of Sizzla, and another anti-gay reggae singer, Elephant Man, to see if they violate Britain's anti-hate laws. (story)

British gay rights group Outrage, which has led the attack on homophobic music said the concerts in light of the killing of 37-year-old David Morley in an apparent homophobic attack was particularly inappropriate.

Morley suffered serious head injuries when he was beaten in a London park. He died in hospital several hours later. (story)

As the Home Office was confirming that Sizza had been denied a visa, London police announced the arrest of 6 men in Morley's murder.

UK Bars Anti-Gay Singer - 6 Arrested in London Gay Murder

For that matter…who is the music company behind this? I don’t just mean the label…but the label’s owner. Where do the bucks stop in the chain profits made on this gay man’s beating death?

These are the kind of questions we need to be asking ourselves now, more then ever. Where is our money going? How much of our own persecution are we funding? How much of a day’s work, is for the people holding the knife in our backs?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday November 4, 2004

Sit Down

From The Daily Kos, some good advice…

...I live in the Detroit area, so it's not uncommon for people to glibly talk about moving to Canada. While writing about the Canadian supreme court decision in 2003 to legalize gay marriage, Hendrick Hertzberg described Canada as "the kind of country that makes you proud to be a North American." As the grandchild of four Canadian-born immigrants to the U.S. who's spent plenty of time there, I can attest that he's right in lauding Canada, and I can especially understand why a lot of gay couples are seriously considering leaving Michigan for Canada. But until yesterday, I hadn't noticed the despair in the voices of straight people talking about leaving for Canada. My whole life I've heard about people seeking liberty and opportunities and freedom from oppression immigrating to the United States. Now I'm hearing people in search of liberty, opportunity and freedom from oppression talking about emigrating from the United States.

To anyone entertaining those thoughts, I say sit down. Sitting down and refusing to budge is one of our nation's greatest legacies. The modern labor movement achieved its power in the 1930's through the use of sit-down strikes, and as late as 1989 the United Mine Workers were still successfully using a sit-down strike against Pittston Coal. Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her bus seat and the sit-ins conducted by black students in the South inspired civil rights workers and drew attention to the indignities and injustices of Jim Crow. Throughout our history, the obstinate refusal to give ground where they believed justice was on their side has empowered people to bring about important changes that have made our country a better place to live, enjoy liberty, and pursue happiness.

Sit down. Yes. Good advice. In a number of senses.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Take A Good Look

Via Brad DeLong, Robert Vanderbei has produced a map of last night’s vote that I think everyone who feels betrayed should study carefully:

There is a larger version of it up on Robert’s website.

The first thing you notice about it is how the blue and blue-ish parts of the country pretty well track in and around the places where jobs and money are. There are some interesting exceptions (I was surprised to see how blue the areas just west of the Texas pan handle are…), but that is the general rule. And this syncs with all the blue state/red state polling I’ve seen. Even in the deep south, in the places where jobs and opportunity are, the map is either blue, or at worst purple.

Contrast that map, with this one:

As I said, it doesn’t track perfectly. But in general the bright spots on the NOAA satellite image are the blue or purple spots on the voting map, and the red spots are the darkness.

Fitting enough. Yes. But think about it. Why are we letting them plunge us into darkness?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday November 3, 2004

A Little Perspective

From Steve Gilliard…who you should read. Steve got sick a while ago, and spent two months crashed out on a hospital bed, then in rehab, and knows from firsthand experience what bad times, and the goodness in people, look like.

You do not build strength in good times. You cannot. It is the hard times when your character shines through. I know some of people here bitching the loudest care the most. And they have to use that passion to remake what they love. Not hide, not walk away.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Comes The Dawn

Yes… this is a hard fact for decent people to get their heads around

Reading the various commentary and chatting with a few people I've come to a couple of realizations which I think we all need to come to terms with. First, as Eric Alterman ... puts it, there are more of "them" than "us" right now. The people who voted George Bush and the Republicans into office this year didn't do so because they were conned by a right wing asshole posing as a compassionate centrist. They did so precisely because he is a right wing asshole. Yes, the modern Republican party consists of nasty bigots and liars and the media rarely bothers to point out just how nasty they are (all the talking heads talking about the role of "moral values" in the election know that what that really means is "fag hating," but they won't say it). But, don't be fooled - people know what they voted for.

I think we need to recognize this not only as a matter of political tactics and strategy, but also on a personal, day to day level. The right, and the religious right, pose today as the standard bearers of morality, and they are anything but. The people who joined with them yesterday to vote Bush back into office, are at minimum cheap hypocrites, who expect the government not to interfere with their own freedoms, their own personal matters of conscience, but are okay with it suffocating the lives of their neighbors. They don’t care if their neighbors loved ones are sent off to war, so long as their own are not. They don’t care if their neighbors families are destroyed, so long as their own is left alone. They don’t care if their neighbors religious beliefs are denigrated by the government, as long as the government exalts theirs. At the worst they are thrilled at the prospect of seeing the government kick around people they themselves don’t respect at all. So the moral values that played a roll in the Bush vote yesterday were the moral values of cheats at best, and thugs at worst. That smiling, friendly, decent seeming person who just told you that they voted Bush this election, is giving you the finger, behind the smile. You need to treat them accordingly.

That’s not to say you go around denouncing everyone you meet who voted for Bush, or screaming in their face, much as you may want to. But this is as good a litmus test of personal character as any: if they voted for Bush, they’re not worth your respect. Common civility…yes. But moral sanction? No. You need to watch your back around people like this.

Be calm, be patient smile back. And when they ask you for the time of day, tell them they need to be more self reliant.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Another Candle…

Also from Equality Maryland, comes this from Massachusetts:

The 50 incumbents who opposed the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage all won re-election. In addition, pro-equality candidates won six of eight open seats where the opponent was in favor of the constitutional amendment that would bar marriage equality for same-sex couples. And two outstanding LGBT leaders took on anti-gay incumbent legislators and won. Last night's victories in Massachusetts were truly historic and have national implications, said Marty Rouse, campaign manager for MassEquality.

This is good news.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

A Candle In The Darkness

According to a mailing I got from Equality Maryland just now, Cincinnati voters have voted to repeal their anti-gay charter amendment (which banned laws prohibiting anti-gay discrimination) 54 percent to 46 percent.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The News From America Is Bad…

I haven’t read the commercial news sources yet, and actually don’t plan to for the rest of the day. If this is another four years of the worst president this nation has ever had, then they are as much responsible for it, as the screaming hate mongers on talk radio. They’re worse then worthless, they’re poison. Just a more slickly packaged poison.

What I’m hearing on the blogs is that it doesn’t look good, but as of my writing this, there is still doubt enough, particularly in Ohio, which is becoming the new Florida. Well…nobody saw that coming…

Even if Kerry manages to pull this wounded nation back out of the river, there is still a live war going on, still a whole lot of people taking aim, and shooting at both Kerry, and us. About half the country voted, with their eyes wide open, for a president more corrupt then Grant, and what is worse, they did it knowing also, how much he and his people hate the this nation’s democratic foundations and ideals. Even a Kerry win at this stage can not erase that fact. Far too many Americans, hate America, fear and loath the American dream.

Kos is saying now that we need to figure out how to win the rural vote. But the rural vote, the religious and far right votes, and the hate vote track pretty well together and that’s something we in the so called blue states have known for ages. They don’t get democracy in that part of the country, and what they do get of it, they despise. I’m not saying that vote cannot be swayed in peaceful, dignified, democratic ways, but that those ways are not necessarily obvious. You have to reach them at a level where you can both agree, and you will never get them to agree that liberty and justice for all is a good thing. They are the American that fought tooth and nail, and are still fighting tooth and nail, against black civil rights. Just look at how much of the voter suppression effort was directed at blacks. It was Bull Connor all over again, but without the dogs. With a lot of struggle and sacrifice and dedication though, we may be able to get them to agree that liberty and justice for all is in their best interest, even if they do hate it, even if they do hate us. But now it looks like that struggle will be longer, more difficult, and more bitter.

There are nearly as many of them as there are of us. But time and again these past few elections, we have not been able to pull off a simple majority. The knife that is now in our guts is the Bush gang’s understanding that in our winner takes all election system, the haters of democracy can rule as if they’d won a landslide, even if they’ve only won by a single vote. It’s something Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition figured out years ago. The margin of victory doesn’t mean a thing. Winning is all that matters, because the winner takes all.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of us are powerless. As it turns out, and this shouldn’t be surprising to anyone either, the so called red states are heavily dependant on the rest of us, a fact which doubtless makes them hate us all the more. The blue states are where the money is, where the energy and talent lives, where as many of their red state children migrate to as they can the moment they can, because that is where the opportunities are for a better life then the one they see around them. The fact that for every tax dollar sent to washington, the blue states only get back change while the red states get the dollar plus, bears that out. Keep this in mind throughout the coming days: they hate us not for our sins, and not for our weaknesses. They call us evil. They call our cities wicked. They call us wusses and limp wristed effete elites. But make no mistake, it is precisely because of our virtue and our strength that they hate us, and fear us, and why they want to stifle our lives, so they won’t have to see, by our courage and exuberance and love for life, all that they might have become, had they had that same courage, and exuberance, and love.

There are no easy roads ahead. There is only struggle. But it is a noble struggle, because it is the struggle for the dream of all humankind throughout the ages: liberty and justice for all. For the poor as well as the rich. For the weak as well as the powerful. For men and women, for people of all faiths, for people of all colors, for the homosexual as well as the heterosexual. Even, as I say, if Kerry pulls us out of here, we will have that hard struggle. The people who voted for Bush this time around, after the Patriot Act, after the redistricting fiasco in Texas, after thousands of dead and wounded Americans, and possibly hundreds of thousands of dead non-combatants, women, children and old men, in Iraq, after Abu Ghraib, after one story after another of republican corruption, after the Federal Marriage Amendment…those voters knew what they wanted. The rest of us have to look that fact in the face, and acknowledge it.

We will never win them over by appealing to their better nature, because what we saw last night is as noble as they get. We will never win them over by appealing to a better America, because that vision is precisely what they voted against last night. They despise the democratic promise of liberty and justice for all, because it renders their conceits ridiculous, and their hatreds powerless. We are all Americans in name, but not all of us are Americans by conviction. In fact, as we saw last night, nearly half of us are not. Last night, about half of us voted for the American Dream, and about half voiced their determination to murder it, at all costs.

But never forget this: They Need Us. They need us to keep sending them our tax dollars. They need us to keep spending money on the things they produce. And they need us to keep working to make this economy strong, so their own dollars will still be worth something. We are the America that put men on the moon. They are the America who want to teach school children that Darwin was sent by the devil. We are the America that peers unafraid into the innermost secrets of life, to discover cures for disease. They are the America who would rather people remain paralyzed for life, for the sake of their religion. We are the reality based community, they are the people who are afraid of it, and who hate us for our fearlessness, our creativity, our vitality. We are the people who love life, who love existence, who love this world. They are the people who damn mankind as innately sinful and wicked, who damn existence, and seek at every turn to blot out reality in a fog of superstition, prejudice, and imposed ignorance.

To fight them means making a clean break from politics as usual: as the gentleman’s game, a political discussion among equals, who settle their disagreements by an orderly vote. To fight them means not only seeing them for what they are, but seeing ourselves for what we are. We are the bearers of the American Dream. We are the one’s who, ever since this nation was founded, have made it real. They are the one’s who have mouthed slogans about how much they love America, and tried at every turn to drag it down. Never so much, has the American Dream needed us to defend it. For the sake of all those who fought and died before us for that Dream, and all those generations to come who will either breath free in a world of limitless possibilities, or a world made of fascist barbed wire, we can not abandon the fight now, or allow what happened to us today, to let us become discouraged. The American freedom fighters of the past, not only left us a great estate, but also a great commission: To Keep The Dream Alive, And Pass It On…

I’ll post thoughts on how to wage that fight later. But for now, while Bush and his gang dance on the ashes of what we hoped would be a better day, hold this thought in your head: a voting block that comprises nearly half the nation is not utterly powerless. If nothing else, we have our dollars, which we vote with every single day of the year. Maybe its time we started paying more careful attention to where those dollars go, how we earn them, and how we spend them.

For the sake of the Dream, we must find a way, a non-violent, dignified, honorable way, a way as noble as the ideals we embody, to push back, against the half of America, that wants to take the Dream around behind the barn and kill it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday November 2, 2004

Go Vote

Via Altercation today, a stirring post from frequent contributor Charles Pierce:

I think we'll let old Lyndon have the last word. On the evening of March 15, 1965, he gave the greatest speech any president has given in my lifetime. He told Congress and the nation that it was time to put aside the nonsense and let black people vote. "There is no constitutional issue here," said the last real Texan president. "The command of the Constitution is plain...There is no issue of states rights or national rights. There is only the message of human rights."

This is why I've come to so love this election -- because it is going to be decided by how many people decide to get off the parliamentary side of their arses and vote. If enough of them do, then John Kerry's picking a Cabinet by this time next Tuesday. If enough of them do, then we can have not merely a defeat, but a resounding public repudiation, of the cramped and twisted view of America held by an administration that holds in fundamental contempt a lot of ideas that are a great deal more noble than the members of the current government ever will be.

"Beware the risen people," warned the doomed Irish rebel (and distant relative, if family legend is to be believed) Padraic Pearse, "you who slander and scorn."

God, this can be a great country when it rouses itself and begins to move.

And that is what is left at the end of it. The people standing in line, refusing to be misled, or frightened, or cheated out of their most basic voice, ferociously demanding through all the noise their most basic right to be heard. Stay there, you lovely people. Give water to those who are thirsty and food to those who are hungry and a shoulder to lean on to those who get weary. Pack the polls. Swamp the bastards, setting off a floodtide that even Republicans won't be able to steal themselves out from under.

Sing all the old songs. Learn all the new ones. Teach "We Shall Overcome" to the young folks. Let them teach you "Mosh," even the dirty parts. Keep in your hearts the advice that the boxing trainer gave Joe Louis before the second fight with Max Schmeling. Joe was afraid of being cheated out of a victory.

Joe, the trainer told him, let your right hand be your referee.

Let your ballots -- millions of them -- be your Supreme Court justice.

All of you, standing in line, is what they all fear -- the administration, of course, but also the cheap political gabbing class that has so abdicated its serious work in favor of tinpot performance skills that would embarrass Soupy Sales. Do any of you believe that Little Tim, or Tuckerboy, or any of them have more to say about this election that Eminem does, or Bruce Springsteen, or everyone of you? That line is a living, breathing, voting rebuke to the professional cynicism by which truth is rendered merely a tactic, less effective than most.

Be proud of being in that line. As Lyndon concluded on that night long ago, "Their cause must be our cause, too ... and we...shall...overcome!"

Now go vote.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

It’s Up To Us Now…

I voted on the way into work this morning. I usually walk into work a bit after rush hour (let’s hear it for flex time) and in past elections that’s been a good time to zip in and out of our polling place in Medfield, which is a small elementary school. This morning it was nearly full, the school auditorium packed with people waiting to cast their votes. I heard one of the poll workers say that earlier there had been a line going out the door. I had to wait about a half hour to vote. Not a long time by standards elsewhere in the country, but much, much longer then normal for my neck of the woods.

If you haven’t voted, you need to go and do it now. Go. Now. Vote. We can make it happen.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday November 1, 2004

Because Bullshit Is Our Business…

My tastes in television viewing may be a tad eclectic. Okay…weird. I apologize for nothing. But I was watching the RFD channel a few minutes ago…it was running the Arkansas Farm Bureau Report and a guy came on with voting instructions for several state propositions for all the members of the Bureau, which I assume to be a bunch of Arkansas Farmers. The Bureau was only taking a position on a few things, most of which I assumed were of interest to farmers. But one of them was the Arkansas anti same-sex marriage amendment. The man from the Farm Bureau said that all members should vote for it.

Okay…I’m a little fuzzy here. What the hell business is it of the Arkansas Farm Bureau who I marry? Same sex couples don’t buy enough lettuce or something…?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

What Gay People Are To Republicans

Deep Thinker Steve Miller over at the Independent (sic) Gay Forum is bellyaching about how the Log Cabin Republicans are burning their bridges to the Bush white house. Lord have mercy they’re opposing Bush on Same Sex Marriage, and acting in general as if they actually don’t want him to get re-elected. Miller wags his fingers, and says that for the Log Cabin Republicans to succeed, they need to “be seen fully as a Republican player”, even if they can’t endorse Bush. Miller’s advice to LCR leader Patrick Guerriero is instructive:

How about talking about the need for vigilance in Iraq, personal social security accounts and market-based health care reform, Patrick, as well as tort reform and standing up to the trial lawyers' lobby. If these aren't in your vocabulary, and aren't being emphasized in your public appearances and press interviews, then something really is seriously amiss at LCR.

But Log Cabin’s central credibility problem is not its standing with the republican party, but its standing in the gay community. That Miller would have Guerriero talk about Iraq, social security, and health care reform while the republican party wages one of the most vicious campaigns against the rights and dignity of gay and lesbian Americans during an election year is exactly the mindset that has made the term “Gay Republican” a baffling oxymoron to many, and a laughingstock to others in the gay community. Miller literally wants Guerriero to talk about health care, while the republicans are sending these out to voters in several states:

Yet Miller, and he is not alone in this crazy little dreamland, thinks the problem is that Guerriero isn’t being a player, and thereby jeapordizing gay access to the party leadership. Why on earth the republicans would want to listen to a dog who wags his tail every time they kick it is something he doesn’t seem to ever wonder.

If you want to know what the republican party thinks of gay and lesbian people, listen to Florida blogger Joshuah Bearman, who caught a couple party operatives trying to discourage a group of black voters from casting their votes for Kerry :

Hereís what happened. We followed the congregants of the Mt. Hermon AME to vote after their Sunday service. The Pastor gave a rousing speech that shook the walls about exercising oneís ìGod given right to vote.î Outside, there were vans waiting to take people over to an early voting station in Ft. Lauderdale at the African American Research Library, where many thousands of people have already voted in the past two weeks. This day was no different; the line stretched across the parking lot and off the grounds on the sidewalk on Sistrunk. It was 1pm, and as hot as the day was gonna get, which was burning. 85 degrees, a slight breeze but not enough to overcome the moisture ó typical fall in Florida. People carried umbrellas, and fanned themselves with Kerry/Edwards paddles.

The place, Bearman notes, was stamped with politics…

Distributing the cold bottles of Zephyrhills were about dozen NAACP Voter Fund volunteers in yellow shirts. Others distributed folding chairs for people who wanted to sit in the line. An Election Protection corps in black uniforms passed out flyers printed with voting rights. A couple of Kerry/Edwards people handed out candy from plastic pumpkins. And then there was this other curious contingent, an obvious bunch of Republicans pretending to be from ACT UP.

Now…why would a couple republicans pretend to be gay…?

ìWeíre from San Francisco,î one of them said. He was wearing Kerry/Edwards pins, and holding a big Kerry/Edwards campaign sign alongside a homemade one that said: SUPPORT GAY ADOPTION. ìWe just want everyone to know what we support.î

There were four of them, two men and two women, all carrying signs with similar social wedge issues. One of them, wearing ratty boots and a denim shorts and vest matching suit with a leopard skin collar, walked up and down the line, yelling ìVote for Kerry ó support gay marriage!î

ìWhat are a bunch of Republican staffers doing here on Sistrunk pretending to be gay?î I asked the one who seemed to be the ringleader.

ìI know all about Polk street and the Castro,î he said. ìStanford University. Iím from San Francisco, and Iím for gay marriage.î He was wearing a yellow golf shirt, tucked into khaki chino shorts with a call phone clipped to his belt ó the Republican uniform. ìOur candidate, John Kerry, supports gay marriage, gay adoption, everything gay.î

I know all about Polk street and the Castro… Gotta love it. This time anyway, nobody was being fooled:

Among the few people who didnít realize what was happening at first, they were extremely annoyed when they figured it out. ìIs that Republicans over there? Yeah, it is!î said a man toward the back of the line. ìTheyíre gonna come down here and, try to try to fool us? Thatís not happening.î Behind him, a woman added: ìUn-huh, thatís not right.î

And itís not. Despite that this little act was a bust, it showed, under the Florida sun, the scorn the Republicans show towards voters. These were African-Americans, many of whom were old enough to remember the civil rights struggle evoked by Mt. Hermon AMEís pastor that morning ó and this is how theyíre treated?

Like dirt. Yeah. A great big republican middle finger, raised to the black Americans in that line, and to gay Americans. This is the republican party Steve Miller thinks will treat its gay and lesbian followers with dignity, if only they’ll be loyal players:

These are your fellow republicans Steve. They’re posing as homosexuals, and waving messages about gay adoption in front of black voters so they won’t vote for Kerry. What does being a player mean in a party like that Steve? Gently telling them that saying “I’m from San Francisco” isn’t necessarily going to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes?

The way you deal with crap like this is not to pretend it isn’t there. You deal with it, by shining a hard bright light on it:

The trick with Republican staffers running dirty tricks, we discovered, is to turn cameras on them. They wilt like shrinking violets. Stephen Elliott and I are out here with a documentary crew, and when the film started rolling, the GOPís bogus Gay Pride parade came to a quick end.

ìDonít film me,î the ringleader said when we stuck to them. ìIím expressing my freedom of speech.î

ìAnd weíre going to film that expression,î Steve said. ìWhatís wrong with that? Gay pride, right? Unless your boss down at GOP headquarters doesnít want you to turn up on TV.î

ìI'm asking you nicely not to take pictures of me,î the ringleader said. Steve was emboldened, and pressed further. "You can ask me not nicely," I said. "You're creating news by posing as a Democrat and we're capturing that. We're not going anywhere."

Itís not in Steveís nature to throw down the gauntlet, but he smelled weakness, and called their bluff. By that time, the other guy in their operation had retreated to the far side of the parking lot, where his John-Kerry-and-his-gay-friends-want-to-adopt-your-children-bullshit sign wasnít just a yellow speck in the distance. It looked like heíd lost his nerve.

The political calculations over how much or how far a party that has a large hate base can reach out to gay and lesbian Americans, collapse sooner or later under the weight of their own essential delusion: Hate does not share power. A party that can be rightly said to be beholden to bigots for its political survival, cannot be said to have any principals more worth fighting for then the principals of those bigots, because those are ultimately the principals that keep it in power.

I can just hear it now… But tricks that this one wouldn’t work, if gays acted more respectably in public… Yeah. And the Willie Horton ad wouldn’t have been as potent, if blacks weren’t so likely to commit violent crimes. It’s one thing for bigots to make scarecrows out of the objects of their hate, and another for the hated to internalize them. But that’s a problem gay republicans have always had. We’re not like them But, so what? All the stereotypical images hate conjures up of the radical fringe licentious homosexual, will not be erased simply by adding one more: that of the passive, meek, gay everyman who is willing to vote for any politician who kicks him in the teeth, as long as he mumbles a few words about a big tent. You need to worry less about what people think seeing half naked leathermen and drag queens on Pride Day, and more about what they think when they see you licking the hand that just put a knife in your back. Being a player isn’t going to get you shit. But standing up for yourself just might.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday October 31, 2004

Yes…That’s Why…

Via Shrillblog, which you really should read, comes this column from William Saletan, in which a former supporter of the war in Iraq finally understands why many of us opposed it:

I remember when Bush addressed Congress after Sept. 11. I thought history had given him a mission he couldn't screw up. Bush had only two virtues--moral clarity and resolve—and a terrorist attack on our country called for both of them. I didn't realize that his judgment was so bad it could turn these virtues into vices, confusing two enemies and letting the more dangerous one get away.

Later, I remember defending the buildup to the Iraq war. Some of my friends refused to support the war because it was Bush's. I thought that was petty of them. Now I understand. When you support a president going to war, you don't get your war. You get his.

That’s it.

I can think of a lot of people who, as president, if they had diverted us away from Afghanistan and the Taliban and Bin Laden into Iraq, I would have gritted my teeth and supported the move, thinking that, well okay, they must know what they’re doing. But not Bush. His employment of Karl Rove with his knee in the groin campaign style that is contemptuous of democracy, his careful cultivation of an image of moderate conservatism, even as he shook hands with American fundamentalism, and vowed to veto any attempt to repeal the Texas sodomy law while governor, these things convinced me early on that Bush was not what he wanted everyone to believe he was. But it was his mocking of death row inmate Karla Faye Tucker, in front of Talk Magazine reporter Tucker Carlson, just weeks before her execution, that was a chilling, sickening moment of clarity as to the man’s inner squalor. It was a peek into an open sewer. You knew then, that this man should never be allowed anywhere near power, let alone the power of life and death, let alone the power to wage war.

I think for a lot of us, the most frustrating thing was having our opposition to the war called petty, because of our mistrust of Bush. Oh…you’re all just a bunch of Bush haters… No. We saw the man. Now you do too.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

GOP Voter Suppression

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, informs us of yet another in-your-face attempt by the republicans to completely fuck up the voting process somewhere democrats are likely to win. And why shouldn’t they? In 2000, the Supreme Court told them they could get away with it. The republicans want to throw the election into the courts again, because they know that at the end of that process, there are still the same five Supreme Court judges waiting to give hand them the presidency.

In a way, this is encouraging: they wouldn’t be doing this if they weren’t in serious danger of loosing, and loosing big. But there is something missing in all the talk I’m hearing about Karl Rove’s in the gutter election tactics. Sure, they’re desperate…but That desperate? Desperate enough to drag the whole nation into a post election fight that’ll make 2000 seem like a tea party? Even that bunch of fanatics can’t be so out of touch they can seriously think they’ll be doing the party anything but permanent harm with the voters, particularly minority voters, who they had been ostentatiously trying to court ever since Reagan. The party that cannot legitimately win an election this year, may never again be able to win nationally, or even statewide in many places, without the help of the supreme court. Why would they do this? Because they are afraid.

In the four years since they’ve taken complete control of the federal government, they’ve been helping themselves to the pig trough, utterly without a care for tomorrow. They’ve been gorging themselves on treasury money, and breaking the laws in matters great and small alike. From tearing up the Geneva Conventions to smoking in Federal Buildings , the republicans took their ascendency to mean they were laws unto themselves. After all…who would hold them accountable? They owned all three branches of government. Ashcroft would protect them. And if not Ashcroft, then the five supreme court justices who gave them the White House. Then comes election election day, and a very sick Chief Justice, and the prospect that they might loose all that power almost overnight.

They’re not just afraid of loosing the election, they’re afraid of going to jail. With the staggering amount of corruption already evident, just think of what could happen to them when they don’t own the Department of Justice anymore, don’t have John Ashcroft to protect them, don’t have the Bush White house to keep their secrets, don’t have a Supreme Court stacked in their favor? They’re terrified of loosing power, because they know what they’ve done with it and they never thought they’d ever been in a position to be held accountable for it, and now they see that prospect staring them in the face. This is why they don’t give a rat’s ass who knows they’re trying to suppress the votes. They can’t afford now, to care what people think.

The skeletons in the Bush White House, and Tom Delay’s Capital Hill, are either going to stay buried come January, or they’ll all start dancing a jig as they come howling out of their closets.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday October 30, 2004

Another Crash

My new Mac G5 tower is running about one complete system lock up per day now. Next time a Mac user tells you how bulletproof Macs are, if you have a browser handy, google “spinning beachball of death” and show them all the hits you get.

Of more interest to me is the traffic I see on the web, complaining that you have to reboot Mac OS X frequently or you get memory leaks. If that’s true, it’s really sad, because a Unix family OS just shouldn’t do that. Unlike Windows, you ought to be able to leave a Unix box up for months without experiencing system degradation. Has Apple produced a Unix variant, that is less stable then Windows? Ack…

With this latest lock-up I discovered that if I just keep my finger on the power switch long enough, the machine will power off, so I don’t need to yank the plug. But none of the keyboard shut down methods work, because when it happens, the machine simply stops responding to the keyboard.

I was thinking more memory might help. I’m still running with just the 256k I got from the factory. But I’ve read web postings from people who have had the same problems with 2 gig onboard. I intend to increase memory anyway, but now I’m not expecting that to fix the problem. Just, hopefully, give me what I need to run Photoshop and other memory hungry applications without further bogging the machine down.

Tomorrow I’ll see how far I get, trying to produce the weekly cartoon on this machine. Theoretically, it should be a snap. The scanner talks to the machine just fine…the version of Adobe Photoshop Elements that came with it works almost exactly like the Windows version I am used to…I’ve moved the fonts I use over and they seem to be working ok…and this programmer’s editor, BBEdit, while it has a few quirks I just don’t like (why the hell doesn’t the cursor move with the page up/page down keys???), over all it does the job for me better then any native Linux editor I’ve tried, and it doesn’t crash on me like MultiEdit on Wine does. But if I’m in the middle of something and the machine hangs on me, I’m gonna be pissed…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

From Our Oh What A Surprise That Is Department…

Yet another leader of an anti same-sex marriage campaign has a gay child…

Get pissed off at her if you like…but I recommend saving most of your anger for the pulpit thumping blood sucking jackals who taught her to hate her own flesh and blood.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Made It Crash…

Ha! Even the uncrashible Mac succumbs to my wiles.

Instead of an hourglass like Windows has, or a little stopwatch like KDE/Linux has, the new Macs have this little spinning color wheel to let you know the system is busy thinking. While a neighbor was over looking at my new Mac, I tried opening the “More Info” dialogue in “About This Mac” and the dialogue hung. The little spinning color wheel just wouldn’t stop.

The rest of the desktop was unaffected, so I went on to show him some other things, including the “Media Eject Key” that had given me a fit the other day. When the CD/DVD tray opened, suddenly my “More Info” dialogue freed. Interesting. The only thing I can think, is that I had one of my Linux drives mounted via samba, and the “More Info” dialogue might have hung trying to get info from it. I’ve read on the web that the Mac OS X implementation of samba isn’t quite right, one angry user saying that Apple had taken a page from Windows, and had “embraced and extended” samba. Sad if true.

After my neighbor left, I worked on a cartoon for a bit, then after a couple hours went over to the Mac again. It had gone into hibernate mode, so I blipped the keyboard, and the screen came back to life. But except for the mouse cursor, the system had completely frozen. Nothing worked, not the menus, not the keyboard, nothing. I had to literally unplug the Mac to force a reboot.

Whereupon I discovered that the way you check your primary hard drive for errors on the Mac, is to boot from the install disks and run the disk utility from there. My hard disk was fine after the experience, and I am composing this post on the Mac (Bagheera) now. I’m running a demo version of BBedit, which seems to be an acceptable substitute for MultiEdit on the Mac. I’ll post it via the built in FTP utility in the Terminal.

In all fairness, I’ve managed to hang my Linux boxes a time or two. I don’t feel as though I’m pushing my computers here, just asking them to do what they ought to be able to do in the first place. But my neighbor was impressed that I was running three machines on my wireless network last night, running three different operating systems, Window, Linux (SuSE) and Mac OS X, and I was able to share files between them all. Maybe I am pushing my machines a tad, or at any rate, asking the software to do things a tad beyond the norm. But in checking around the Web, I’ve discovered that software hangs aren’t all that uncommon in Mac-land after all, or at least not in Mac OS X land. They even have a name for it: the Spinning Beachball Of Death.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday October 29, 2004

Joining The Cult Of Steve Jobs…

[GEEK ALERT]

My computer geekiness has been almost exclusively an Intel machine thing. It started with a Commodore C64 but really took off after I built my first IBM XT compatible from parts I got at a HAM fest. The Commodore taught me to be wary of proprietary hardware (Microsoft later taught me to be wary of proprietary software). On the Commodore C64, the serial port was completely different from the standard RS232 ports used by most serial devices (like a modem). Even the voltages were different. The net effect was that you had to buy your modem from Commodore, or buy a converter box so you could by a normal modem. Either way you spent more money.

So I’ve never owned an Apple. I avoided Macs partly due to their proprietary hardware, but also because I found their emphasis on design off putting. I came to see Macs as the Bang and Olufsen of computers. I don’t mean that as praise…I was an audio geek before I was a computer geek. Whenever someone would suggest I get one, my standard reply was always that I would, when I could build one from parts. Apple being Apple, and Steve Jobs being Steve Jobs, I figured that day would never come.

In 1998 I started working for the Space Telescope Science Institute, and found myself in a work environment where Windows was actually a minority platform. Before I came to STScI, I was strictly a Windows business systems developer (I was hired initially to work on their Grant Management System). Now my work involves many different platforms. To get comfortable working in a Unix environment, I installed various Linux distributions at home. The learning curve was painful at times, but before long I had my Windows and Linux boxes happily talking to each other on my home network. I code mostly in Java now, and I am comfortable working in both Windows and Unix/Linux environments. But regarding Apple Macintoshes, I am still pretty much lost. Macs are a minority platform at work, but they have a presence at the Institute nonetheless, and lately I’ve begun to feel a tad inadequate not knowing much about how they work beneath that insufferably cool exterior.

Last week I attended a software developer’s seminar held at the Institute. I brought my office laptop, but there were a number of laptops set up in the classroom for those of us who didn’t have laptops to bring. About half of them were Macs. The people running the seminar had software for us to download and install for the course, but they only gave us instructions for setting it up on Windows. The people using Macs, some of whom didn’t regularly use Macs, were at a loss and the first hour of the seminar was largely spent getting them set up. I tried to help a few and found I couldn’t and it was frustrating. I know my way around a Windows system pretty well, and figured that if I’d only known Macs a little better I could have derived the correct way to install the seminar software on the Macs from the Windows instructions. But I didn’t have a clue.

It convinced me at long last to get a Mac to work out on at home. For a while I dithered about buying a Mac laptop, but I only use my personal laptop when traveling. If I was going to buy a Mac, I needed it to be one I’d want to use frequently. I ended up getting a G5 tower, to put down in my art room, next to my drafting table. The Macs, I reasoned, have a reputation in the art and publishing world, and so a Mac would work for me as an artroom computer. Along with the Mac I bought a larger, tabloid sized scanner, which I’d been saving for most of the year. The tabloid scanner will allow me to scan in my cartoons all in one go now, as well as a couple of future projects I have in mind, without having to scan them in sections and piece them together again in Photoshop.

Scanners are supported on Macs in a way they just aren’t in Linux. I suppose that goes along with the Macs’ position in the publishing world. But it also fits into my personal goal of getting myself completely off Windows for my personal use at some point. Between the Mac and Linux I should be able to do everything I need to do at home without software from Redmond.

I tell myself that this money I’m spending on hardware is at least somewhat justified in that it is making me a better, more versatile, computer professional. And already I’ve had adventures in networking my Mac with my Linux and Windows boxes. I have it working (mostly, I still haven’t experimented with printing yet…), but somehow I still feel it’s more work then it needs to be. And when I booted my new Mac for the first time, it just had to remind me why I’ve avoided them all these years:

I bought an Airport Extreme card for it. The card came with software and a notice that I should probably update to the latest version of the drivers before I installed the card. Okay, thinks I, and after I finished with the Macs’ initial configuration and registration routine, I reached for the driver CD, and then spent the next half hour or so trying to figure out how to open the goddamn CD/DVD drawer.

There was no open button on the device. Well and good I thought, they probably put some icon or something on the desktop I can click. There is no right click in Macintosh-land I already knew. Too many buttons spoil the elegant simplicity of the mouse…whatever. But no…there was no icon for the CD/DVD drive on the desktop either. There was one for the hard disk, but not the CD/DVD. I looked through the menus and didn’t find anything that opened the drive. After about ten minutes I began to wonder if my drive hadn’t been recognized by the machine. So I found the system information panel and sure enough the drive with in there, so my machine knew it was there, it just wasn’t telling me how to get the damn door opened. I opened the help menu in Finder, and typed “how do I insert a disk in the CD drive?” in the Ask A Question field. I got back a bunch of results that didn’t tell me a damn thing about getting the drive door opened. After about a half hour I was so frustrated I was about ready to call the Apple Store where I bought the machine and scream at them. But I found my way to the online manuals, and there I found the answer. Oh…just press the Media Eject Key.

Oh yes…we could have put a button to open the door on it…we had one on the G4 at one point…but that would have broken the elegant simplicity of our new case design…blah, blah, blah…

That said, I’m actually starting to like working with this machine. My machines on my household network are all named after Kipling’s Jungle Book characters, and I’ve named this new machine Bagheera. Bagheera, you will recall (if you read the Kipling stories), was sleek and beautiful and arrogant. Born and raised in the palace of the King of Oodeypore, he prized his freedom and independence from both the world of men and the jungle folk. I always figured that if I ever owned a Mac, I would name it Bagheera. The fact that the OS version is named Panther, is a coincidence I am still pondering.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday October 25, 2004

Wolves

Danziger!

I’m my wildest dreams could I be as good as he is. But political cartooning like this is a dying art. Most newspapers nowadays don’t want the cartoon on the editorial page to take a stand for anything…just be entertaining.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Game Plan For Ohio…And Probably Everywhere Else Too…

Digby explains why the republicans need so many “poll watchers” in Ohio:

If anyone wonders why the Bush campaign doesn't feel the need to do much campaigning in the essential state of Ohio, you don't need to look any further than this. They have plans in place to ensure he wins no matter what.

This tactic is based upon the same one by which they "won" the election in 2000. They are using it not so much to intimidate voters, although I'm sure they will do that also. The main purpose, as it was when the Republican "challengers" in the recount questioned many more ballots than necessary, is simply to run out the clock. And if anyone tries to hold the polls open longer to accommodate long lines as they did in St Louis last time, they will scream bloody murder about the Democrats "changing the rules" after the game has been played.

Meanwhile, Shrillblog, which you should read, has a post up from Andrew who argues against comparing the republicans to nazis thusly:

As potentially unpleasant as this Ohio business is, it is a democratic paradise in comparison to 1930's Germany - and to 1930's America, for that matter. And despite some rather facile analogies of manner one could make - totalitarian tendencies here and there; an upsetting predisposition to blind hero-worship of Bush in certain circles; and the fact that, were it not for unfortunate historical echoes, a decent 4-word slogan for the Bush re-election campaign would be "triumph of the will" - there is no reasonable analogy of scale between the modern-day Republican Party and the Nazis. The modern Republican Party leadership is much, much, much better than the Nazis, probably better than Vladimir Putin, and not too much worse than the Republican Party of Nixon and McCarthy 50 years ago. It is important to remember that in 2 short weeks these people are going to voted out of office, soon to be but a memory, and it will be much easier for everyone moving forward if we don't have intemperate charges of Nazism on our consciences.

That’s a perfectly acceptable, decent, nobel sentiment for the political realities of another age, not this one. It assumes that beneath the differences between the two parties, we all believe in democracy, and the American Dream. That may have been true of the republican party as recently as the 1980s. It may yet be true of many, maybe even most republican office holders. It can no longer be said of the republican leadership, without deliberately ignoring their words and their deeds. Never mind the hunting of Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Never mind Ohio in 2004. The Brooks Brothers riot said it all. This is not your father’s GOP we are dealing with.

Even so, the argument goes, this is America, a “democratic paradise in comparison to 1930’s Germany”. But this is hindsight talking. In the 1930s, you didn’t have to look far to find Americans who held the Nazis in very high regard, precisely as the saviors of Germany from depression and ruin. For me as a kid in grade school, probably the most sickening thing I learned about the second world war was how good everyone’s hindsight was about Hitler and the Nazis. Oh yes children…they were evil people, plotting to plunge the world into darkness. Obvious. Oh so obvious. Except that in the early 1930s, people were talking about how Hitler made Germany’s economy strong and the trains run on time. In the 1930s, Henry Ford, head of one of the largest auto makers in the world, and Thomas J. Watson, head of IBM could accept The Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle as a birthday present from Hitler. Watson’s company, IBM, could create technologies enabling the Holocaust. American hero Charles Lindbergh could openly admire Hitler. American banks and businesses supported the Nazi regime right up to the day Germany declared war on America and they were stopped by the Trading with the Enemy Act. After the war, you couldn’t find anyone in America who didn’t know all along how horrible the Nazis were. But it was sure a different story before the war. In all the lame protestations I keep hearing about how the republican party isn’t really all that radical and dangerous, I keep hearing an echo of all those Americans in the 1930s, reassuring other Americans that Hitler really wasn’t as crazy as he sounded.

Yes, there will be a day after election day. But to move forward after that day, whatever its outcome, will require a recognition that our struggle is over more then policy differences. The wolves are not in the fairy tale forests of George Bush’s campaign ads, they are in the White House, and the halls of congress, and in statehouses all across the nation. Four years after George Bush campaigned as a compassionate conservative, and as a uniter not a divider, four years, a John Ashcroft, a Patriot Act, a war, an Abu Ghraib, a Federal Marriage Amendment, a Charles Pickering, a Larry Russell, and more, much more of the same later, there can be no mistaking him and his power base for what they are. If George Bush cannot move forward on pure self deception alone, then neither can we. We must acknowledge the reality we face.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday October 24, 2004

What Scares Me

Election Day itself scares me almost as much as the thought of a second Bush term. I think it’s going to be chaos. I think it’s going to be chaos, because the republicans want it to be chaos. Think of the felons list which prevented people, mostly black and democratic, from voting. Think of how so many people on that list were found to have been put there by mistake. Think of the Brooks Brothers riot. In 2000, the republicans found out they could get away with stealing a presidential election through voter suppression and fraud at the highest levels of state government, and by orchestrating a riot to prevent votes from being counted. Think they won’t do it again this year?

Already you see widespread stories of voter suppression efforts in the states. The republicans have signed up 3600 so-called poll watchers, paid by the GOP to challenge the right of people in mostly minority districts to vote. Scams to dump ballots in the trash, are popping up. People in Ohio are being called and told to report to the wrong precinct…and just coincidentally, the Ohio republican attorney general is saying that he’ll disqualify any ballots cast in the wrong precinct. All of this, is just laying the groundwork for the main act, which will be the blessed election day chaos that republicans now know they can use to force a presidential election their way.

What can we do? Vote! The republicans will strongarm a narrow win into a Bush victory. The margin for Kerry needs to be too big for them to do that. Every Vote Counts!

Speaking of which, Glenn at Brooklyn Bridge, starts with my post some weeks ago about paper ballots and makes a real good suggestion. I’ve actually used those optical scanners to vote, and I agree they could be used to make a good paper ballot based system. We had them in the polling place I used when I lived in Cockeysville, and they were easy to use. You marked your ballot and then took it over to a reader which scanned it in and stored it in a locked ballot box. Not sure if the reader would kick a ballot back if it was mis-marked (like a double vote for example), but that could be a good way to prevent mistakes right on the spot that might prevent a vote from being countable.

Glenn also mentioned one other thing I hadn’t even thought of, in my previous post. What happens to all those electronic touchpad voting machines when the power fails? Rolling outages in the democratic neighborhoods anyone? Nothing major, just long enough to discourage a few people from voting. Don’t tell me they’d never do anything like that. If there’s been one constant throughout the Bush term its how often you’re proven wrong, every time you think you know where the limit of their mendacity is.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday October 18, 2004

How Cheats Think

A lot of people are quoting this passage from the Ron Suskind article. It does capture it pretty well:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

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

There’s a problem with this. On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger was sitting at its launching pad at Cape Canaveral. Previous launch delays made NASA management anxious for a launch that day, but cold weather at the pad was threatening to delay the launch yet again. Engineers from Morton Thiokol, based on evidence from previous near failures of the booster engine O rings, warned that launching was too dangerous at that time. They were overruled by managers, one of whom told them “It’s time to take off your engineer’s cap and put on your manager’s cap.” So they launched anyway.

The shuttle exploded. Everyone on board was killed. One of the dead astronauts was a young teacher, Christa McAuliffe, who was on board as part of the NASA Teacher In Space program. Her students watched her die on television sets place in their classroom for the launch.

In the report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident, the Physicist Richard P. Feynman wrote:

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

Reality, takes precedence over politics too. It’s a thing republicans used to know. There is no free lunch. Ask the children of Marx and Lenin how far an empire can get on propaganda and ideology that is completely disconnected from reality. An empire can do a lot of things unilaterally. But no successful empire was ever made from propaganda alone.

Existence exists. Nature cannot be fooled. Reality cannot be faked. To clear a plot of land and build a house from timber and bricks and mortar is to create the reality of a house. But perhaps you don’t have any timber or bricks. Perhaps you don’t know the first thing about building a house. But you want one really, really bad. You can stand in the middle of the forest, point to a spot somewhere ahead of you and declare there is a house there. But the only reality you are creating is a little hot air, not a house. Believing with all your heart and soul that there is in fact a house there, still does not create the house. If you try to live in the house through the winter, despite all the warnings from those of us in the reality based community that the house does not exist, reality will eventually introduce itself to you anyway, and you probably won’t like its attitude. Reality won’t care.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday October 17, 2004

Rove Plays A Deep Game

365Gay has a story posted suggesting that Mary Cheney may actually have been the person behind the faux outrage over Kerry’s reference to her during the last debate. Perhaps. But this could be one of Roves little tales, planted to cause a few activists to lash back at Cheney, and thereby give republicans another talking point in their otherwise laughable spin that its Democrats who are insensitive toward gays. Rove plays a deep game. Whoever it was that decided to spin Kerry’s reference the way they are is immaterial. The point is that the GOP has been relentless in its attacks on the rights of gay people and same sex couples, and the willingness of any politician with gay children of their own to cultivate the hate vote, should sicken everyone.

Ezra at Pandagon has more to say on the matter:

For some of the crasser, simpler, and more bigoted members of the party (Musgrave), this has been no problem, they were happy to unleash their inner eugenicist. But most of the decent human beings who comprise the Party have played their part with a reluctant sigh, quietly scuttling legislation that'd enshrine their rhetorical discrimination into law. When Bush lauds tolerance and acceptance on national television -- suffocating bigotry under anodyne phrases like "sanctity of marriage" -- these Republicans breathe a sigh of relief, they'll be able to greet their gay friends in the morning with a tolerable level of shame. But then Kerry has to go and bring up Mary Cheney, reminding them that gays are individuals who, all things considered, they'd prefer not to bar from their loved one's hospital bed. That much cognitive dissonance hurts.

Lynn Cheney isn't angry at Kerry, she's furious at herself. She's livid that she, a woman tolerant enough to write a lesbian romance novel and open enough to love a gay daughter, has been forced to the forefront of the condemnation chorus's legislative wing. Has she concluded Kerry's really "not a good man"? Maybe. But if so, it's only to hide her secondary conclusion, that her, her husband, and her party really aren't being good people.

Go read the rest. I disagree only to this degree: anyone still dancing with the devil on this issue has lost their right to be called decent. Decent people don’t quietly allow religious passions and unbridled hate to be systematically cultivated toward innocent people. Not after Auschwitz.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

A Wee Reading List

Some things you should definitely read, although be forewarned none of it will make you rest any easier with Smirk in the White House.

First, Remember The Alamo, by Nicholas Lemann in the New Yorker, who starts out by stating that “When something important doesn’t turn out the way you expected, you go back to the beginning and try to see if there were clues you missed.” Like more and more people nowadays, he’s come to see the shallow petulant thug that was never really far beneath the folksy facade. Here’s two paragraphs:

Like a lot of talented politicians, Bush in a crowd can demonstrate a real love, a need, for people, but in other settings he needs, rather, to display a kind of animal superiority. He teases, he touches, he goads, he sends a wink or a cold stare, he bestows nicknames, and, in this campaign, of course, he relentlessly attacks. In general, he insists, with amazing success, on conducting discussions on terms that he alone has set, and on the assumption that reality is what he alone has declared it to be (for example, his recent assertion at the U.N. that "today the Iraqi and Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom"). And, in deciding to run first for governor and then for President, he was not troubled by his lack of what would customarily be considered a full measure of experience and preparation. Bush usually tries to establish himself in a position in which he has as much control as possible, and he usually tries to get there not by the normal patient route but by behaving so aggressively that a more direct path opens up.

...

When Bush went to the United Nations in the fall of 2002 and obtained a resolution that got weapons inspectors back into Iraq, it was more as a concession to Powell than as a thought-through Administration policy. The hawks, who had always been contemptuous of the U.N., were dismissive of the inspection process. (A little-noticed nugget in Woodward's "Plan of Attack" is that the Administration spied on Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, while he was doing his work.) The Administration was unable or unwilling to get the heads of state of the other Security Council members to agree at the outset on what they would consider an unacceptable result from the inspections. So on the eve of war, when Bush declared the result unacceptable, the nations that were capable of sending large numbers of troops to Iraq didn't agree with him and refused to help, which is one reason that the occupation of Iraq has been so expensive and has stretched the U.S. military past its limits. The Administration consistently pushed every aspect of Iraq policy - intelligence-gathering, diplomacy, military strategy, foreign-policy doctrine, and, of course, the treatment of prisoners - into a new realm of statecraft, characterized by a total and, it has turned out, excessive faith that pure force would produce far better results than anyone had previously realized. Bush's advisers urged him in this direction, but he chose which advisers to hire and to listen to. It was really a natural outgrowth of who he is.

People are going to say this is over the top, but you know what, I don’t really care. Take Hitler. Take away his talent for stirring speech, for grabbing whole stadiums packed full of people by the collar and shaking them into hysteria. Take away his rhetorical flourishes. Reduce his intellect by a few points. Make him an American Protestant. And take away his consuming anti Semitism and…perhaps…his racism. And what do you have? You have Bush.

Tsk tsk…I hear you say. Fine. Try, Without A Doubt, by Ron Suskind in The New York Times, who starts out quoting Bruce Bartlett of all people, to the effect that if Bush wins a second term…

"...there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3." The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.

"Just in the past few months," Bartlett said, "I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do." Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: "This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them...

"This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts," Bartlett went on to say. "He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence." Bartlett paused, then said, "But you can't run the world on faith."

The Suskind article is full of scary little insights into the Bush soul…

...A precious glimpse of Bush, just as he was ascending to the presidency, comes from Jim Wallis, a man with the added advantage of having deep acuity about the struggles between fact and faith. Wallis, an evangelical pastor who for 30 years has run the Sojourners -- a progressive organization of advocates for social justice -- was asked during the transition to help pull together a diverse group of members of the clergy to talk about faith and poverty with the new president-elect.

In December 2000, Bush sat in the classroom of a Baptist church in Austin, Tex., with 30 or so clergy members and asked, "How do I speak to the soul of the nation?" He listened as each guest articulated a vision of what might be. The afternoon hours passed. No one wanted to leave. People rose from their chairs and wandered the room, huddling in groups, conversing passionately. In one cluster, Bush and Wallis talked of their journeys.

"I've never lived around poor people," Wallis remembers Bush saying. "I don't know what they think. I really don't know what they think. I'm a white Republican guy who doesn't get it. How do I get it?"

Wallis recalls replying, "You need to listen to the poor and those who live and work with poor people."

Bush called over his speechwriter, Michael Gerson, and said, "I want you to hear this." A month later, an almost identical line -- "many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those who do" -- ended up in the inaugural address.

Suskind ends with Wallis:

"Faith can cut in so many ways," he said. "If you're penitent and not triumphal, it can move us to repentance and accountability and help us reach for something higher than ourselves. That can be a powerful thing, a thing that moves us beyond politics as usual, like Martin Luther King did. But when it's designed to certify our righteousness -- that can be a dangerous thing. Then it pushes self-criticism aside. There's no reflection.

"Where people often get lost is on this very point," he said after a moment of thought. "Real faith, you see, leads us to deeper reflection and not -- not ever -- to the thing we as humans so very much want."

And what is that?

"Easy certainty."

Read the Suskind article. Then, if you have a copy, read or re-read Chapter 11 from Jacob Bronowski’s The Ascent Of Man, “Knowledge Or Certainty”, and bear in mind that the Bush administration has been one of the most hostile to science ever to inhabit the White House. Ever since taking office, Bush has shown an extraordinary willingness to openly, in plain public view, bend the work of scientists working on everything from the study of disease to the study of global warming, to suit his political ends. There’s a reason for that kind of hostility toward science, which nobody has ever elaborated better then Bronowski:

There are two parts to the human dilemma. One is the belief that the end justifies the means. That push-button philosophy, that deliberate deafness to suffering, has become the monster in the war machine. The other is the betrayal of the human spirit: the assertion of dogma that closes the mind, and turns a nation, a civilization, into a regiment of ghosts - obedient ghosts, or tortured ghosts.

It is said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That is false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. it was done by ignorance. When people believe they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

And people are coming now, to this growing, sickening realization, that President Junior really does believe he is God’s Instrument. The other shoe, is that his base is just as fanatic as he is, just as passionately certain of their own status as the instruments of god’s will. In the Suskind article, we read about Hardy Billington, and his friend David Hahn, a fundamentalist preacher, who started a petition drive against same sex marriage. Bush did a stump speech for one of Billington and Hahn’s rallies…Billington declaring that “President Bush is the greatest president I have ever known. I love my president. I love my country. And more important, I love Jesus Christ.” Afterwards, it didn’t matter that Bush was his usual inarticulate self. Just by being there, at that rally, with those supporters, he was declaring himself one of them…

And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. "You think he's an idiot, don't you?" I said, no, I didn't. "No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!" In this instance, the final "you," of course, meant the entire reality-based community.

The reality based community. A fundamentalist is one who proclaims their undying devotion to God while giving God the finger, because if God is that which created all that is, all that was, and all that will ever be, then to deny reality to deliberately and knowingly turn away from it is to spit in God’s face. You can quote the bible day and night until your voice croaks, but to study the natural world is to read God’s handwriting. What Fundamentalism says is that nothing God actually created matters, and that profound gift which distinguishes us, which makes us uniquely human, our mind, is worthless. And if that us impious, it is also profoundly immoral. Again, Jacob Bronowski put it best:

Theory and experiment alike become meaningless unless the scientist brings to them, and his fellows can assume in him, the respect of a lucid honesty with himself. The mathematician and philosopher W. K. Clifford said this forcibly at the end of his short life, nearly a hundred years ago.

If I steal money from any person, there may be no harm done by the mere transfer of possession; he may not feel the loss, or it may even prevent him from using the money badly. But I cannot help doing this great wrong towards Man, that I make myself dishonest. What hurts society is not that it should loose it's property, but that it should become a den of thieves; for then it must cease to be a society. This is why we ought not to do evil that good may come; for at any rate this great evil has come, that we have done evil and ar made wicked thereby.

This is the scientist's moral: that there is no distinction between ends and means. Clifford goes on to put this in terms of the scientist's practice:

In like manner, if I let myself believe anything on insufficient evidence, there may be no great harm done by the mere belief; it may be true after all, or I may never have occasion to exhibit it in outward acts. But I cannot help doing this great wrong towards Man, that I make myself credulous. The danger to society is not merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough; but that it should become credulous.

And the passion in Clifford's tone shows that to him the word credulous had the same emotional force as a den of thieves

The fulcrum of Clifford's ethic here, and mine, is the phrase "it may be true after all." Others may allow this to justify their conduct; the practice of science wholly rejects it. It does not admit the word "true" can have this meaning. The test of truth is the known factual evidence, and no glib expediency nor reason of state can justify the smallest self-deception in that. Our work is of a piece, in the large and in the detail; so that if we silence one scruple about our means, we infect ourselves and our ends together.

-Jacob Bronowski Science and Human Values 1956

In With Trembling Fingers, Hal Crowther, a progressive who says he once entertained Nader’s delusion that there are no real difference between Democrats and Republicans, ends his own fire and brimstone sermon on Bush with this:

I don't think it's accurate to describe America as polarized between Democrats and Republicans, or between liberals and conservatives. It's polarized between the people who believe George Bush and the people who do not.

Close. The division as I have seen it for decades now, is between those who still believe in the American dream of liberty and justice for all, and those who despise it, precisely because of that word, All.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday October 16, 2004

They Found Out It Was Worse Than They Thought It Was When They Started The Surgery…

A gay teenager was beaten so badly at a party in Texas, that he may have to have repeated surgery to his face. Call it gay America’s contribution to George Bush’s re-election campaign.

A 17-year-old Cleburne High School student underwent facial reconstruction surgery this week after three teenage men attacked him, police said.

Sgt. Amy Knoll, a spokeswoman of the Cleburne Police Department, said police arrested three suspects. They have been charged with aggravated assault with serious bodily injury and hate crime enhancement penalties. Those arrested are Christopher Paul Lathers, 18, Cory Dallas Gibson, 17, and Billy Lynn Calahan, 19.

...

Knoll said the teenager suffered a "severe" beating. He was jumped from behind, punched, knocked down and kicked in the face, she said.

"They found out it was worse than they thought it was when they started the surgery," Knoll said. "They don't know how many more surgeries he's going to have to have."

Knoll said the beating occurred at a party held at a Cleburne apartment on Sunday evening. The student arrived at the party with several teenage women and was confronted by the three teenage men who questioned him about his sexual orientation, she said.

365Gay says that the teenager confirmed he is gay. Dallas Voice says he decided not to answer the question. At any rate, the beating started shortly afterwards. 365Gay reports that several girls at the party managed to drag him from the onslaught and help him to a hospital. Dallas Voice has an added detail worth paying attention to:

Knoll said the crime stunned the city's 28,000 residents.

"I think we're kind of shocked someone would do something like this here," Knoll said.

Oh really?

At least one of the town's churches is discussing sexual orientation this week. The Rev. John Hall, pastor of the Field Street Baptist Church, has scheduled a sermon on what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.

According to Google, this is a Southern Baptist church. Nobody has been raising more hell about the homosexual menace then the Southern Baptists.

Hall said that he had already written the sermon before the attack on the student, but he decided to place more emphasis on the need for compassion as a result of it.

"Hate is not consistent with a thoughtful follower of Christ," Hall said. "A thoughtful follower of Christ cannot hate someone for whom God loves."

Hall said that he plans to "state clearly and unequivocally that hate is wrong."

Uh-huh. According to the church’s website, the title of that sermon is What Does The Bible Say About Homosexuality? This being a Southern Baptist church, you can appreciate that the title isn’t something like What did Jesus say about homosexuality? or What did Jesus say about who my neighbor is? So I wonder if Hall is going to “state clearly and unequivocally that hate is wrong”, before or after he reminds his flock that the bible says homosexuals should be put to death. I wonder if he plans on washing his hands while he gives that sermon.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday October 14, 2004

The Cheap And Tawdry Republican Book Club

Lynne Cheney was busy today accusing John Kerry of a “cheap and tawdry political trick” for bringing up her daughter’s sexual orientation during the debate last night. Gosh.

Some of my fellow bloggers are pointing out that this attitude only makes sense if you think there is something shameful about lesbianism. But that can’t be the case with Lynne Cheney. No…not the Lynne Cheney who, in 1981 wrote the novel Sisters, which centers around a lesbian love story. There must be some other explanation.

Meanwhile, look for Sisters in the Cheap and Tawdry Romance section of your local bookstore.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday October 12, 2004

Tales From George Bush’s America…(continued)

Via Atrios, who you should read regularly, because as they say, if you’re not angry, then you’re not paying attention:

First… the man who gamed the system for Bush in 2000, games the Iraq debt for the profit of his corporate partners.

Second… Oh by the way…if you’re a democrat who just registered to vote, your paperwork has probably been shredded.

Thirdly… Yeah…Sinclair Broadcasting probably thinks people should keep their mouths shut about war crimes in Iraq too…

Angry enough for one day? I know I sure am…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

A Boys’ First Trips Into Space

One of the best gifts I ever received growing up, was a small children’s field guide to the stars. I would take it outside at night and look for hours at the constellations, until eventually I could reliably identify the main ones, and find my way on a clear night, no matter where I was, to the north star. Polaris. Well before I entered first grade, I was drawing rocketships and making paper models of them. I wanted to travel among the stars. I wanted to see other worlds. The shear vastness of the night sky enraptured me. It does it still.

Every growing space cadet has their first encounter with one particular film or TV show which, for all its kiddy show goofiness, instantly grabbed their imagination, changed forever the way they would look at the stars, and which they still remember fondly. For some boomers it was the old Tom Corbett – Space Cadet series, or Space Patrol. But those were actually a tad ahead of my time (I’m a trailing edge, not leading edge boomer), and I have never, to this day, watched either one of those. After I started school, there were cartoons like Rod Rocket and Space Angel, and the Gerry and Silvia Anderson Supermarionation TV shows Supercar, and Fireball XL-5. Later in my life, there would be The Outer Limits, Lost In Space and Star Trek. But my first trips into outer space, the ones that really knocked me back on my heels, made my eyes wide and my jaw drop when I was a wee pre-school sprout, were taken with The Space Explorers.

It was an odd cartoon, and one I hadn’t been able to track down until recently. But it made my eyes pop then, and it stayed with me for years and years. There were stunning visuals of the stars and planets. There was beautiful background music, more lush and sweeping then usual for a children’s show. And there was this handsome (if wildly impractical) little art deco spaceship, the Polaris II, that seemed to effortlessly glide through space, while the spaceships on other TV shows jiggled on wires I could plainly see. I was maybe five or six, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

It begins with the first attempt to put a man on Mars. Commander Perry in the spaceship Polaris is approaching the red planet, and everyone on earth is tuned in to the event (by radio…this is the 1950s version after all…). But suddenly Perry radios back to earth that his steering jets have jammed. Giant telescopes all over the earth move to get a view of what is happening on Mars, while on the radio Perry warns, “I’m out of control…headed for one of Mars’ moons. Great Scott, it looks like…” Then silence. Everyone believes he has crash landed on one of Mars’ moons. But which one?

A rescue mission is undertaken. Professor Nordheim, inventor of the spaceship, and his female co-pilot Smitty (probably a graduate student (that’s a joke son…)), launch an identical spaceship, the Polaris II, to Mars to find and rescue Perry. Perry’s young son Jim steals away on the spaceship, and is discovered after launch (there are some very cool shots of the Polaris II being wheeled out of its hanger and blasting off at night along a long horizontal ramp with a sharp upward curve at the end). And so the story begins.

What followed was a young boy’s excursion through the solar system, or what was known of it then. Each episode featured a lesson about a planet, or something of what was known about space in the late 1950s, back in the days just after the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik, and shocked the United States into taking science education seriously (a shock we could we could sure use again today). Professor Nordheim was Jim’s wise and patient teacher, and the solar system was his classroom.

As they travel through the solar system, the Space Explorers find they are always one step behind Perry, who is apparently still trying to get his ship back under control. Eventually, running short on fuel, they give up and head back to earth. Jim is heartbroken. But on the way back they run into steering jet trouble themselves (let’s make the same design mistake twice…), and have to make an emergency landing on the moon, where father and son are reunited through a bit of clever story telling (remember…the spaceships are identical). Both spaceships are repaired, and the Space Explorers return to earth. There is a lovely sequence of special effects animation at the end, with the two art deco spaceships gliding easily through the clouds on their way to the landing pad.

To this day I remember those images vividly. One thing that always stuck in my mind about The Space Explorers, was how the animation varied in style. There was the more traditional animation style of the main characters and their story, a full and richly detailed animation that even when I was a kid I suspected was European (because I’d seen other European cartoons by then). But the shots of the Polaris II itself were of a model against a starry background. And the shots of the stars and planets were an almost hyper-realistic artwork I’d never seen the likes of before. As I grew older, and considered what I’d seen more carefully, I thought the abrupt changes in style deliberate and clever, emphasizing the amazing technology, and the vastness and beauty of space.

Heh. That wasn’t quite the way it was. The Space Explorers I found out recently, was cobbled together from this and that from three different films, by Fred Ladd, the man who had brought Astro Boy and Gigantor to America when I was a kid. The traditionally animated shots were from a Czech children’s cartoon. The shots of the Polaris II gliding through space were from a German film titled, Weltraumschiff 1 Startet (shown as a Kulturfilme during the Third Reich – ouch!), itself made from the left over material of two other films cancelled by the outbreak of World War II. And the shots of the planets as the Polaris II passed by were from another Czech film, an educational one titled, Universe. Ladd strung it all together for a short feature film, The Adventures Of The Space Explorers and then edited it into ten six minute shorts which were used as filler for local TV childrens shows (like Ranger Hal, which I watched during my pre-school years in Washington D.C.).

Some of it is laughable today (like the suggestion that you have to travel to a point somewhere just far enough away from earth for gravity to disappear and then everything floats…), but what I, and from what I gather now other boomers my age who saw it, remember most about The Space Explorers were the absolutely stunning visuals of the stars and planets (probably courtesy of the Czech educational film Universe). If I saw them again today with my Hubble and Voyager eyes, I’d probably find them a tad wanting. But back in those days, they were the most awesome views of space I’d ever seen.

(The beautiful sweeping background music also sticks pretty vividly in my memory too…but my thing for film music is a topic for another post…)

And I wonder how much The Space Explorers influenced Science Fiction film makers of the boomer generation. Visit the Space Explorers website, and take a look at those cockpit interior shots of the Polaris II, and those upwardly tilting titles in the opening credits. Remind you of anything?

If this ever comes out on home video I will snap it up in a heartbeat. I am hopeful that may be soon. The original master films, which were thought to be lost have been re-discovered. Recently, a viewing of Fred Ladd’s personal 16mm print was held during a retrospective of his work at the International Animated Film Society of Hollywood. Maybe some day soon I’ll get to re-live my first trips into space, the way fans of Tom Corbett and Space Patrol can theirs.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tired Lately…

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting a lot lately. My cartoon page has suffered too. And that’s not all. I have email I haven’t answered in weeks, and friends I haven’t phoned in weeks. It’s all been since I got back from the southwest. I don’t know why, but I’ve been so utterly tired since, I just don’t want to do anything when I get home. It’s been a struggle to get into work at a reasonable hour (let’s hear it for flex time).

I don’t know whether it’s post vacation blues or the change of seasons here in Baltimore or what. I just know I’m tired almost all the time lately. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s that all I want to do is lay in bed. I don’t feel sick or anything, just tired. I wish there was some switch inside of me I could find to flip on and get my energy back…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

What We Mean By ‘Innovation’

The post below on Bruce Bastian, co-creator of WordPerfect, got me to thinking about the first word processors I used to use. The word processor was the eye opening application, the thing that convinced me I needed a personal computer when I first saw one. Before that, I could not fathom why anyone would want or need a computer in their homes. If I wanted to abandon my slide rule, I could always buy a nice HP pocket calculator for example. Then I saw someone running a word processor at a demo somewhere and I was floored. No More Typewriter! No more ruining a page with a single spelling mistake. And I made a lot of those. I could type a page, re-read it, and fix it up a bit where I thought it didn’t read or scan well, without having to retype the whole thing. I could fiddle with a paragraph for as long as I wanted to, until I got it the way I wanted it. I could save the document as a computer file, turn off the computer, go away, think about it, come back hours, days or weeks later, turn on the computer, call the file back into the computer and re-edit it some more.

And…oh my god…the computer could check my spelling!!!

I had to have one. Luckily for me by then Commodore C64 had come down drastically in price. The first word processor I ever used was a product called PaperClip. Later, I built my first IBM compatible from parts, and after trying out various PC word processors my friends owned, bought a copy of Volkswriter. It was simple, did everything I could ever ask for, and had a helpful function key menu that popped up at the top of the screen. And it had the best spell checker of any word processor I’ve ever used, even now. It could catch any hack I made of a word I didn’t know how to spell, and give the correct spelling, Every Time. I don’t know what algorithms they used, but no spell checker I’ve ever worked with since has come close.

Later, I got thoroughly hooked on a product called XyWrite. It was pricier then Volkswriter but it became my default application, much as my programmer’s editor is now. XyWrite was blazingly fast (it was written entirely in assembly language), had a command line interface most people hated, but which I loved because it seamlessly integrated with DOS and allowed me to easily slug files around on my file system while I was working with them. XyWrite had a zillion little commands for quickly navigating and editing text, some of which are commonplace now, some I’ve yet to see anywhere else (There was a cursor mode between insert and overwrite, which overwrote text until it came to a space, then automatically switched to insert). There was a command to make XyWrite write a file to two different drives with every save…handy for saving to both your working hard drive and a floppy. XyWrite allowed me to work on up to nine documents at once and, unique for a word processor, produced files in plain ascii text so long as I didn’t use any special text formatting. For years I actually wrote program code with it in one window, documentation in another, email and BBS postings in yet others.

Some people loved XyWrite. Others hated it with a passion. But that was okay. There were plenty of word processors for people to choose from in those days.

I got to thinking about all this, and did a little web surfing, and came across this site listing a few long lost word processors. Check out the variety. Once upon a time, home users and businesses alike had literally dozens of products to choose from, each approaching the same task, but in their own way, allowing people to pick from among them, the one that best suited their needs. Sound anything like the software marketplace today? No? And what has changed since then?

One word: Windows. When Microsoft Windows became dominant, the other companies started going out of business. Nobody else could make their software work as well on Windows, as Microsoft could. Funny thing about that. And of course, still true as ever. Tech columnist Robert X. Cringely reported recently, on how Microsoft plans to use a new USB buss standard to cripple Linux, and MacOS. Who can blame them for believing they can get away with that? Microsoft is, for all practical purposes, immune to antitrust law. Gates can eat whomever he wants, whenever he wants.

One of Bill Gates’ favorite talking points when the word “monopoly” comes up, is his company’s “freedom to innovate”. But he is no capitalist. For Gates, the marketplace isn’t about competition, it is a game of musical chairs, at the end of which there is only one player left. So Microsoft pollutes the standards which the IT industry lives by and grows, and the language which we use to talk about it: innovation now means consumers having fewer choices. Take a look at all the choices we used to have. And that was when the dominant desktop OS was owned by a company Steve Jobs once portrayed in a famous ad as Big Brother.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Holocaust Deniers Like Us

Sinclair Broadcasting, owned an operated by GOP heavy donors, is forcing its local affiliates to air a piece of anti-Kerry propaganda titled, “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal”. Produced by a former Washington Times reporter (that would be True Father’s newspaper), it is a long tirade on a decades old resentment against Kerry, for not keeping his mouth shut about American atrocities in Viet Nam.

Sinclair is calling the broadcast ‘News’ programming, as opposed to a free political ad, to avoid being required by the Communications Act to give Kerry equal time to respond, and to have to acknowledge the air time as a donation in kind to the Bush campaign. Here’s how Mark Hyman, Vice President for Corporate Relations for Sinclair, and their on air editorialist, puts it:

This is a powerful story. The networks are acting like Holocaust deniers and pretending these people [Vietnam POWs] don't exist. It would be irresponsible to ignore them.

Well that’s really swell of Sinclair not to ignore the men and women who have fought this country’s wars and all, but it’s a little out of character:

This evening, ABC's Nightline broadcast will be devoted to reading a list of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq. But some viewers won't be able to see the program: The Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns several ABC affiliates, has announced that it will not air Nightline on its stations tonight.

A statement on Sinclair's website explains: "While the Sinclair Broadcast Group honors the memory of the brave members of the military who have sacrificed their lives in the service of our country, we do not believe such political statements should be disguised as news content. As a result, we have decided to preempt the broadcast of Nightline this Friday on each of our stations which air ABC programming."

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting - What Sinclair Doesn't Want You to See on Nightline

Perhaps they just think its okay to ignore their deaths…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

To All The Homophobes Who Ever Used Word Perfect…

Some days I just feel out of the loop. This article in the Salt Lake City Tribune about WordPerfect Company co-founder Bruce Bastian really floored me. I remember Word Perfect, mostly from the golden age of DOS, that simple microcomputer operating system that all the computer science dweebs just hated, for which there was a vast paradise of software that actually did things for people. At the height of the DOS computer days, Word Perfect was the leading word processor, having beaten it’s old rival, WordStar by matching its legendary versatility, and then adding a much more user friendly interface. Word Perfect had become the business world standard. But the life of one of its co-inventors was not a happy one…

Now, it all seems so prescribed to him. The "right" thing to do - four kids and a house in the Utah County suburbs. He had known he was gay since high school, but had never followed through on his feelings. Then, on one of his business trips, he fell in love with a man.

"I don't think straight people can begin to imagine the inner turmoil and fear at this moment in a gay person's life," Bastian says. "All your dreams, plans, everything falls apart. The whole foundation of your life crumbles. You can stay the course or follow your heart and go to where every human being dreams of going - to happiness ever after."

It was 1984, at the height of the AIDS scare in America. His children would be harassed, his social network destroyed. Still, Bastian came out to his wife. They continued to live together for several more years; he spent much of his time on WordPerfect business trips. Eventually, he moved out and they divorced in the mid-1990s.

...

Bastian got hate mail from his employees. His four sons were teased at school. His closely guarded privacy was his attempt to protect them from publicity during the brutal high school years. When his youngest son graduated, Bastian's political isolation ended.

There is a slogan making the rounds of the kook pews, to the effect that homosexuality is innately selfish. When Gene Robinson was lifted to Bishop in the Episcopalian church, retro dipshit James Lileks said that oh he had nothing against the man’s homosexuality, just the selfish way he left his daughters so he could have sex with other men. But how selfish is it to tell homosexual people that they have to deny themselves the essential life affirming joy that is intimate romantic love, while they keep enriching your life by their labors?

What I hate about Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, and other shows of its kind: they perpetuate the myth that the only thing homosexuals are really good for is decorating the house, or styling your hair. It’s reassuring to know that the people you’re keeping down, don’t really matter all that much to begin with. But homosexuals have contributed to every great human endeavor, all the while, until recently, quietly taking for granted that the civilization we were helping to build, did not have a place in it for us too.

Bruce Bastian’s work made a lot of more productive, freer to focus on their own work, their own interests, their own lives. And he is far from being the only gay person who can say that. From Alan Turing who invented the Turing Machine, to Eric Allman, the openly gay programmer who developed Sendmail, the foundation of modern day email, and Wynn Wagner, who created the Opus BBS system which had people all over the world chatting and sharing files long before the Internet was commercialized, gay people have contributed greatly to the IT revolution. As we have contributed to other leaps of human progress.

Perhaps some day gay and lesbian Americans will be able to fully and equally enjoy the world we have helped create.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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