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February 1st, 2017
No…The American Dream Will Not Go Silently Into The Night Mr. Bannon…
…it is bigger, richer, more urgently felt than you could ever know…
One thing I love about this ad is the open acknowledgement of how immigrants were treated even back then. It’s so refreshingly honest about our history compared to the rainbows and unicorns version I got back in early grade school. We were so proud of our little melting pot back then…back when we were competing with the Soviet Union for the hearts and minds of the rest of the world. Not so much anymore.
If a certain German someone and I were still on emailing terms I would have loved to share this with him. But now I’m not even sure he’d appreciate the sentiment in it. It’s one thing to be determined to follow your dreams. It’s another to be determined not to have any. But some of us still believe in our dreams…rough hewn and broken though they may be… Here’s to you Herr Busch. Here’s to you Herr Anheuser. Prost!
January 30th, 2017
Trust Us, This Doesn’t End Well
There was a joke I saw making the rounds just after the election…In the U.S. you call it the Alt-Right, in Germany we call it why grandpa lives in Argentina.
It’s stunning to me how, every German I know, and every born American of German descent with family living in Germany, all of them are so emphatically warning everyone about what is happening now…
Do we have to learn the hard way too? I guess we’ll see…
January 16th, 2017
They Still Hate Him
…even some of us white Americans. This came up in my news feed this morning from the New York Times…
Until fairly recently?? On what planet? But never mind… I lived through that period. I was an eighth grader when he was murdered. They hated him more than all the others back then. Malcolm X…Stokely Carmichael…Huey Newton… they hated King with a passion totally absent from their fear and loathing of the others. Because King claimed the moral high ground, and spoke from the roots of his religious faith in a completely authentic way that the segregationists could not.
Most of all they hated him for that.
Read this Times opinion piece for its clarity of the history of conservative appropriation and inverting of King’s activism…turning it against the very struggle for civil rights and equal justice that he championed, and eventually gave his life for. In the software trade we have a phrase to describe what the republicans did: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.
November 26th, 2016
Who Are The People That You Think You Are?
Fred Clark was tweeting about his Thanksgiving today. Seems it was more like the movie Twelve Angry Men…the Henry Fonda version…and himself in the Henry Fonda role, than a nice family get-together. His isn’t the only story of this kind I’m seeing out here. You begin to wonder if Thanksgiving or any family holiday is worth keeping in the new/old America. And it’s not just the blood family, but the chosen one too. So many people so suddenly dumbfounded that friends they thought they knew turned out to be perfectly fine with installing a racist, sexual predator in the White House, for whatever slippery self serving excuse they could come up with at the dinner table.
But this is good. Knowing where you stand and who is standing there with you after all, is always for the best, even when it’s painful. This is largely why I stayed home Thanksgiving. I had invites, I had a work related excuse to decline but I’d have stayed home anyway. You really don’t want to see me go nuclear. I expect the Christmas invitation lists are being rewritten even as I type this.
Good. Life is too short to be spending it in the company of louts. There’s a scene in Mary Renault’s novel The Charioteer which the main character, Laurie Odell, hears the man his divorced mother is about to marry take a cheap dig at a working class nurse…
“Well, girls of that class are often so unfair to themselves. I expect under all that make-up she’s really quite a nice little thing”
It tells Laurie everything he needs to know about the character of the man his mother is about to marry. Renault writes: Some events are crucial from their very slightness; because circumstances have used no force on them, they are unequivocally what they are, test-tube reactions of personality.
Just so. And this election was just chock full to the brim of such moments freely given to the public by the man now slated to sit in the oval office. From mocking a disabled reporter to pussy grabbing, Trump has left us no doubt as to the man he is. And it didn’t matter. To almost half the voting public it didn’t matter. And that, is also unequivocally what it is, a test-tube reaction of personality.
It has shocked us, the other half of the voting public. And who knows, maybe the rest of the nation too. And really…in retrospect…it shouldn’t have. We have always known this about them. We just didn’t want to know. And now we have to.
November 20th, 2016
Ruling Out Decency
This is rich…follow along for fun and games…
First NBC News PR tweets this:
And cue the boilerplate right wing outrage! The tweet is misleading! They left out the Important Part!
Well that clarifies it. The effortless way Reince doublespeaks that is. But one supposes that’s a requirement for the job of Chairman of the Republican Party. So which part of that statement he gave was incorrect…the part where he says he’s not going to rule out anything, or the part where he rules out something?
But that’s not even close to the totality of the mendacity going on here. The statement is even more sinister when you consider how many of them on the white nationalist right have been saying for years that Islam isn’t a religion, it’s a political movement. A good follow up question would have been “Is Islam a religion?”
But it was Chuck Todd asking the questions…so…
November 9th, 2016
Just Keep Walking – Try Not To Be Afraid
Cartoon I did back in 2002 when the republicans got control of all three branches seems appropriate today…
Considered wearing my pink triangle button to work today because I know exactly what lay ahead for people like me. Instead I put on my Tomorrowland pin because fuck the bastards.
If you want to live in a cesspool go right ahead, but I won’t live there with you. This country, and this good earth, is big enough, and richer enough in human spirit that I don’t have to.
September 14th, 2016
Some Of My Best Friends Are Abominations
Le Dance Pathetique…as choreographed by Social Security Administration employee David Hall…
Le Curtian…Applaus a vous…
September 13th, 2016
The Man With No Conscience Rides Into Town…
I see the new Clint Eastwood movie is getting its first reviews beyond the right wing swamp…
Go read the whole thing to see the takedown of the movie’s central lie. This movie laughs in your face and lies to you. There’s just no other way to put it. Its central fact, that the National Traffic Safety Board tried to railroad pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles, is a lie. A damnable lie.
But a lie you could see coming in the first trailer released for it. This is Talks To An Empty Chair Eastwood telling the audience in the Fox News cocoon everything they want to hear about how evil the federal government is. In the process he’s turned people who lived these events into stick figures in an antigovernment morality play, meant not to tell the story of an American hero but to encourage Americans to fear and mistrust their own government. Eastwood spits in the faces good people who work diligently every day to make travel safer for all of us. Because in the libertarian mindset, a government that can require corporations to care about anything other than profit, such as customer safety, can only be evil.
It’s a damnable lie, easily seen for what it is with even a cursory fact checking of the sources. But Eastwood knows his audience. They don’t want facts, they want their bigotries validated. Even if it means that someday the aircraft they’re on crashes and burns because CEO compensation mattered more than their lives, and lawsuit settlements were seen to be less costly than fixing a potential life threatening problem.
August 23rd, 2016
Please Walk A Mile In Our “Social Stigma”
A blogger I gained some measure of unexpected respect for, when he turned around from being a supporter of forcing teenagers into ex-gay therapy to being in opposition when confronted by the evidence of what it was actually doing to those kids, wrote a brief-ish blog post critical of this new paper (he called it a study that isn’t a study and you may notice I’m not calling it a study either because it isn’t) asserting that there is no scientific evidence that gay folk are born not made, but seemingly agreeing, or at least he quotes someone who agrees with, the conclusion that “social stigma” is an insufficient cause for the higher than average mental health issues gay people in general experience.
I would like anyone who thinks you can bundle the stresses imposed on gay people, and in particular on gay kids, into a tidy little package labeled “social stigma” to take a step back and appreciate just how hard it is to grow up gay, even these days, let alone try to live a whole and happy life as a gay adult. It isn’t just “social”, it’s “family”. The stories I’ve heard from other gay people about growing up in a unsupportive family environment, let alone a hostile one, would make a brick cry, if not a fundamentalist. Here’s one from my own past I’ve posted about before…
I ended that one with these words…please pay attention: What gay people know is this: strangers can beat you, can take your life away from you, but only family can chew your heart up, and spit it back out.
You can’t write “social stigma” on that knife to the heart and say you understand anything about how deeply it cuts.
Sympathy From The Devil
This started making the rounds yesterday…
I first caught wind of this from a headline on a religious right website that appeared in my Google news page. I did a search to see what I could find out about it. There wasn’t much at that point, and I got less than a page of hits back. But Every Single One was to a religious right website, or a political website deeply aligned with the religious right.
That’s telling. A real science paper will appear first in the science journals and then percolate out from there into the commercial press depending on the popular interest in its topic. But for some time now what we’ve seen is that junk science from the anti-gay industrial complex first hits some right wing vanity publication with a sciencey sounding name, or a small journal easily compromised by a big right wing foundation with buckets of money, and at the same exact time it also hits one or more of the big players in the religious right echo chamber, and from there it spreads; first via the usual suspects like World News Daily, and talk radio, and then into the commercial press when it smells a controversy. That was the pattern with the Mark Regnerus paper on children (allegedly but actually not) raised by same sex couples. What this is telling you is that the paper is part of an orchestrated campaign. Real science doesn’t work like that. Religious right junk science only works like that.
I haven’t read the paper yet, but the press releases say it makes two basic points. You need to understand that both of these points are actually long standing religious right anti-gay tropes: First, that there is no evidence that a homosexual orientation is innate at birth…Second, that social stigma does not account for how mentally unstable homosexuals are. These have both been a part of the homophobe chorus since at least the 1970s.
The first simply digs in its heels and refuses to accept any of the mountains of evidence that sexual orientation is innate, at least in part if not wholly genetically determined, and cannot be changed through any kind of therapy. And that, as I read the first wave of reviews, is what this paper does, although it seems to acknowledge that the twins study does indicate a genetic “predisposition”, but that is homophobe doublespeak. The dogma is homosexuality is a perverse sexual addiction that people are either lured into or fall into through godlessness, bad habits and low morals, and which they can always choose to not act on. These arguments quickly start sounding like arguments about creationism versus evolution, and that is no coincidence. It is the same exact mindset.
The second point the paper makes neatly dovetails with the idea that homosexuality is a mental illness and removing it from the list of known mental illnesses only happened because militant homosexuals pressured the psychiatric profession into it. This knife in the back mythology as to how the understanding of homosexuality and sexual orientation evolved and changed among social scientists and professionals has a long, long history, and it is a foundational belief among the few still practicing reparative therapy like Joseph Nicolosi and his organization NARTH.
Which makes the smarmy dedication Lawrence Mayer places at the beginning of the paper he co-authored all the more loathsome…
You have never had spit flung in your face so sweetly. This bullshit about being an LGBT supporter is also one with a long pedigree, going back to every 1950s movie with a sick and pathetic faggot character and a plea for sympathy for the mentally ill…
We should not be cruel to these poor sick creatures, they can’t help themselves… But to say you disagree with abusing the mentally ill is not to say you are supportive of LGBT people, let alone our civil rights, let alone the pursuit of science. There is nothing wrong with us. The science has been demonstrating that for decades now. If you can’t see that it’s because you are not interested in the science.
Which the two men who wrote this paper manifestly are not. They did not publish in a respected peer reviewed journal but in a right wing vanity publication in tandem with what was clearly a prepublication publicity campaign in the religious right echo chamber. That is not how science works.
But it’s how the kultar kampf is waged in the kook pews. There is a pattern to this that is becoming routine. A new paper is published in some science publication nobody has ever heard of before, that refutes the last 50 years of research on homosexuality and sexual orientation. The echo chamber picks up on it and next thing you know the entire religious right is trumpeting this new research that proves homosexuality is a cancer on society, or at the very least a tragic mental illness a civilized society should find a cure for, but certainly not grant special rights to. From there it moves into the popular press, and suddenly it’s in all the papers and news broadcasts.
Now it starts getting the critical attention it had been avoiding in the vanity press. But no matter that: critical attention always lags behind that first exuberant wave of publicity. Debunking takes time, and usually demands the attention of the reader more than the initial sound bite headlines the paper has already generated. So several news cycles, maybe even a year can go by before the debunking takes hold. In the meantime the homophobes have the stage practically all to themselves. This is what happened with the Regnerus study.
And then…it stops. The sails lose their wind. The curtain is drawn back. The lies are exposed. The commercial press moves on. Gay folk and our allies learn how to debunk the latest round of religious right junk science. The public conversation turns away from the latest faux controversy…
…and the haters duck back into the shadows…back into the echo chamber…repeating the same lies to themselves over and over…embellishing them even…holding onto them as long established truths that no amount of fact checking can touch…because in the gutter the only facts that matter are the ones prejudice and hate tell them that matter…
Soon there will be a new study…another paper…another round of it to go with the human gutter. Ask the Jews how long they’ve been dealing with it. Ask your black neighbors. Ask any hated minority. They say love always wins. Perhaps. But hate never gives up. Because it has nothing else.
July 27th, 2016
Losing My F*cking Patients!!
So this happened this morning…
Once again, distilled from a previous post here:
July 25th, 2016
In 1980, little Libertarian dweeb me voted for Ed Clark. Embarrassment keeps me from naming his running mate. I seriously believed I was helping a new movement which would transform America. We didn’t get Libertarian government (thank goodness), but we did get Ronald Reagan, who kicked off his presidency by breaking the air traffic controller’s union with the help of military air traffic controllers. I was shocked. Nonetheless,I did it again in 1984, voting for Bergland and Lewis. I was dedicated to the cause. I was a useful tool.
My awakening from my Libertarian slumber began in 1986 when Hardwick v. Bowers came down, and nearly all my fellow freedom fighters gave it their hosannas. Freedom it seemed, ended at the state line. That was June. In July of that year came the moment, though I didn’t know it at the time, which I will always regard the climax of Reagan’s presidency: the moment he laughed at Bob Hope’s AIDS joke during the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty. In a nutshell, that was everything about the Reagan years. I was a useful tool.
Maybe there simply weren’t enough votes for Carter back in 1980, or Mondale in ’84, for those of us who voted third party to have made a difference anyway. But Reagan taught me a lesson about politics, one which the Sage of Baltimore neatly summed up when he said an idealist is someone who, upon noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes it will make a better soup.
I appreciate people have strong feelings about Mrs. Clinton as the democratic candidate. I completely understand how Mr. Sander’s supporters would be feeling angry at how the process went. I’m not exactly thrilled myself. Was the process rigged against him? You can make a strong case that it was. It’s harder though, to make an equally strong case that he’d have won the nomination if the playing field were level, or that he’d be any more likely to win against Trump in the general. You have to make assumptions in each of those cases that are nowhere near as certain as I’m hearing said in some quarters. But okay…I can see the disappointment and anger.
I have policy disagreements with Mrs. Clinton that are deep and profound. All in all I would rather it was Sanders than her. But I am getting really, Really tired of the she’s as bad as he is if not worse claptrap I’m hearing more and more of now…again in certain quarters. There’s a cartoon making the rounds now of a guy holding up a baby and asking another guy to choose between one of two horrible deaths for it, and when the other guy says nether the guy holding the baby says “lesser of two evils man!”
I’m going to be blunt: if you really believe that’s an intellectually honest comparison either you have not been paying attention this past week or you’re insane. It’s one thing to say that on this or that policy issue you cannot be moved, and another to say both these candidates would be equally that destructive to this country and the world at large. That’s not merely stretching a point, it’s claptrap.
I appreciate the moral quandary here. I’m not absolving myself of the moral implications of the choice I am making. But there’s an element of exactly that in the rhetoric I’m hearing now in some quarters. If Trump wins don’t blame me, blame the democrats for not running a better candidate. But it is not that simple. It’s one thing to take a moral position. But morality is not a cocoon. It is not absolution. It’s about choices. And responsibility. We are always to blame. The question is, did we fight the good fight, or just strike a pose. If the fight isn’t getting you dirty, you are not in the fight.
Most third party groups act like the presidency is all there is to government. But look at how the tea party has operated in recent years, regrettably to great success. They go after the local elections, the school boards, the city councils, and from there they have wielded great power, beyond their actual numbers, in the statewide offices. They go after the governorships, and the statehouses. Now they have congress, and enough strength in the Senate to stifle nearly everything president Obama has tried to do.
Where are the Greens? Where are the Libertarians? Beyond a handful of down ticket elections, they’re nowhere. And I can say as someone who collected signatures for the Libertarian candidates in the 70s, they never were. It was always the presidency and then when their candidate predictably lost, back to the media of libertarian magazines, think tanks and discussion groups and bellyache about how horrible Washington was. That is not a political movement, it’s a cult. And that mindset, that aim for the presidency first and foremost, is what keeps voter turnout appallingly low in off year elections. Not a presidential election year? Then who cares anyway. And there, in the elections few Americans pay enough attention to, the extremists have caused enormous damage.
If you can’t vote for Mrs. Clinton because her involvement in the human catastrophe in the middle east is too much, I respect that. But Trump’s rhetoric about keeping us out of foreign wars can’t rationally be regarded as anything more than another one of his empty promises, especially if he delegates policy to Mike Pence the way George Bush delegated to Dick Cheney, and Mrs. Clinton at least is much more trustable with the nuclear codes. But the fact is, she’s more trustable in a broad spectrum of policy issues that have a direct bearing on the lives of everyday people here and abroad. If your intentions are to help improve the lives of the common man and woman, being effective matters. Don’t be mocking all those republican thoughts and prayers every time there is another mass shooting and then vote for someone you know perfectly well cannot win, and allow a thug and his mob to burn everything down, that so many have died for to get us even this far.
Don’t blame me… If ultimately your argument is sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better, then you are not merely accepting that the worst will happen, you are making that it must happen a part of the plan. There’s your blame.
[Edited a tad…]
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