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July 9th, 2017

Notes On Train Travel

Last week I went to Walt Disney World on a wee vacation. I needed to renew my annual pass, and the July Fourth week seemed a good time to go. Florida is getting hot this time of year, but that just means the water parks will be inviting. But the road trip down I-95 and back isn’t fun anymore. There are more and bigger traffic knots these days. And where before I could just stop anywhere for the night and get a motel room wherever I happened to be just then, now it’s a race between me and all the other drivers to get the last remaining rooms. Last three trips down I’ve had to use the motel apps on my iPhone to make sure I could get a room at the town ahead of me. So between traffic stress and motel stress the road trip down wasn’t the fun and relaxing start and end to my vacation it used to be. Worse, last January coming home I hit a major snowstorm between North Carolina and Virginia that cost me an extra day travel and…almost…a car wreak.

So this time I took the train. And it was perfect, even allowing for the fact that we were nearly nine hours late getting back to Baltimore because of a derailment in Virginia. I haven’t traveled by train in decades. The last time was a trip down to Florida to visit a friend after he’d graduated from college and found a job in West Palm Beach. But before that, before Amtrak, mom and I traveled by rail down to Florida several times, to Lauderdale By The Sea. So when I stepped onto my train at Penn Station here in Baltimore it all came back to me. Well…most of it. And the fact is I haven’t enjoyed a Disney World vacation like this in too long of a time. So I’ve pretty much settled on this mode of transportation to and from Florida for the foreseeable future. Let me explain why.

  • Flying was pretty much out.  I have traveled by air many times on business, and where I used to enjoy the view from above very much, the airlines have made traveling such a miserable experience now I just don’t want to deal with it. I am not a very big guy and I feel cramped in those seats. I can’t imagine how big or tall folks manage it. And I keep hearing way too many airline horror stories. It seems as if not a week goes by but that some fresh new hell is being visited on passengers. The last time the Institute sent me somewhere (Boulder Colorado) I negotiated a road trip out of it instead of flying. Someday I would like to travel the world. I am seriously considering doing that by boat.

  • Time is not critical when it’s your vacation. Or at any rate it shouldn’t be. Your vacation ought to be a time when you can forget about the clock and just let time pass and the days be whatever they will be.  One of the most common complaints about passenger rail travel is here in the United States the trains are frequently late. More about that below, but for now just hold this thought: time isn’t always critical. For my vacations I just want to forget about the clock and let my day be whatever it is going to be. And by the way, this is why I maintain an annual pass for Walt Disney World. It gets me a whole year to be wherever I want to be in the parks, whenever I feel like being there. It takes the pressure off needing to get the most for your money out of your tickets. This trip, I booked a seat on the train and didn’t particularly care when it got me to Orlando, just so it was sometime during my check-in date. For the trip home I scheduled a train to get me back to Baltimore a day early, as I have always done on my road trips, because I like having that extra day to unpack and relax at home before heading back to work.
  • You can get a room of your own on a train. This was a big deal for me. It’s what makes train travel utterly unlike any other mode of overland transportation, unless you are very rich. Even doing the RV thing isn’t the same, because you’re driving that thing down the highway and you can’t just park it anywhere you want when you need to rest or sleep. Amtrak offers these little spaces called Roomettes, which are basically just barely big enough to two people. But you get privacy and the ability to take a snooze whenever you feel like it and you’re not in a cattle car full of other noisy people and the lights don’t go out until the conductor says they do. If you can afford it, there are full sized sleeper rooms with their own private bathrooms and showers. On the east coast routes the Viewliner roomettes also have their own sinks and toilets. On the long distance western routes the double decker Superliner roomettes don’t have sinks and toilets, but those cars have three bathrooms on the first level and one on the second. All the sleeper cars have showers the roomette passengers can use. 
  • Long distance trains have dinning and lounge cars. If you get a room on the train, meals are included. You make your reservation for a seat in the dinning car and when you’re seated you get asked your room number and they give you a ticket to sign and that’s it. But remember to leave a tip all the same! The food on my train to Florida and back was excellent. If you have a room you can ask your car attendant to bring you your meal (tip your car attendant at the end of your trip!). But a big advantage trains have over everything else but ocean liners is you can get up and walk around, stretch your legs and move about. And the roomettes are pretty tiny, so it’s nice to be able to get out and take a stroll from time to time.

    The Amtrak lounge cars these days are your basic snack bar and some seats for reading, fiddling with a laptop or smartphone, or just watching the scenery go by. I was hoping for a bar that served mixed drinks too…this was standard for lounges back in the golden age of passenger rail service, but not so much now. I judged from the menu that all they had were a few assorted miniatures and no cordials, so I skipped it. If you have a room you can pack your own liquor and snacks, which I did. But watching the scenery go by was so entrancing I never bothered opening my bottle of Grand Marnier. (That bottle’s been to Florida and back twice now and not been opened, poor thing…)

  • The train was not that much more expensive. Make your reservation early enough and the prices are very reasonable. I worked the numbers…a roomette only cost me a couple hundred more than driving it would have accounting for fuel, food, wear and tear on the car, and motels along the way. And now I’m being driven, I can just kick back and enjoy the scenery the whole way. And having the room of my own basically eliminated the worry about getting a room at the end of my day’s travels. My room was traveling along with me.

    If you think you can handle coach the tickets are very cheap and you still get most of the advantages of having that train you can stroll around on, and the dining and lounge cars. The dining car isn’t exclusive to the people with rooms, coach can use it too, but it’s pricy if you don’t have that room ticket. So alternatively you can get your basic snacks, hot dogs, chips and soft drinks in the lounge.

So that’s my rational for taking the train to Florida now, and for the foreseeable future. I will probably still do the road trip thing for my western travels. Next month I’m driving to Kansas to visit a friend and see the solar eclipse. But for now…I’m loving the train.  Here’s some more notes on that…

  • It’s not for everybody. I was introduced to long distance train travel when I was a young boy, so a lot of memories all came back when I boarded that train and for me there were no unpleasant surprises. But I can see where it might not be so much for others. The big thing is the motion of the train would take some getting use to. Doubly so if you’re doing an overnight, whether in coach or in a sleeper. You would think gliding along over two shiny steel rails would be the smoothest ride on earth, but actually it isn’t. The rails have switches, intersecting sets of tracks, and various other joints and dings that make themselves felt as you ride. And sometimes the track beds aren’t in the best of shape. That’s because of a fact of life regarding rail travel I’ll go into more below. But my point now is riding by train can seem a lot like sea travel. The train rocks and rolls. It moves side to side, and when you’re walking from one car to another and the train hits a curve you need to be ready to steady yourself. You develope your train legs, much like a sailor gets their sea legs. And much like a set of sea legs, your train legs will persist for a while after you have deboarded.

    I’d forgotten that last as I arrived at Walt Disney World. I had a rental car waiting for me at the station, and I drove it to my hotel which was just across the street from Disney Springs. After I settled into my room I took a walk over to Disney Springs to get my annual pass renewed, when I suddenly began to get wobbly feet. It felt for an instant as if the sidewalk was moving, or I was loosing my balance. Then I remembered. Oh…yes…the train is still moving… 

    It all came back to me as a pleasant, lovely even, re-experiencing of a childhood joy. But I can see it surprising and maybe even disturbing others. And especially so if you’re doing an overnight. If the sensation of being in motion would keep you from getting a night’s sleep, then maybe long distance train travel isn’t for you. The train rocked me to sleep and I loved every minute of being on my trains there and back. Your mileage may vary, but let me say this: if you can manage it, there is nothing else quite like long distance train travel and you owe it to yourself to experience it at least once. You might come back for more.

  • There’s a reason why our country has substandard passenger train service compared to other developed nations, and even some third world countries. The rail companies came first, before the automobile, before the airplane, back in a time when travel was by foot or by car or by boat if there was an available waterway. The railroads were the miracle of the industrial age and they bridged the continent, made it possible to move people and goods from one coast to the other in mere weeks that once took wagon trains months, if they made it at all, and ships having to round Cape Horn but only if the weather and the sea looked kindly on your ship. The rail companies were the wonder technology of the age. And they were, and have always been, privately owned for profit corporations whose rails were private property. During the western expansion the rail companies (like a lot of companies back then) were predatory as all hell, and much of what came to be government intervention in the economy came about as a reaction to that predatory capitalism of the times. But the rail companies goosed the economy with their ability to move people and goods at fantastic speed and the nation grew and its economic infrastructure grew along with it, but in that same capitalistic mode where everything in the economic infrastructure was privately owned.

    Then came the Great Depression and the second world war and for the rail companies two significant things changed. First, there was Dwight D. Eisenhower, who before he became president, before he became leader of the allied forces, was a soldier on a convoy traveling along US Route 30, or as it was called, The Lincoln Highway.

    From a military perspective that convoy was a disaster. Bridges could not accommodate the equipment, long sections of the road were unpaved and equipment kept getting stuck, the convoy traveled at a snail’s pace. Good thing they weren’t rushing to reinforce a battle line somewhere. Years later Eisenhower, a soldier in that convoy, now the supreme commander of the allied forces in Europe, led his armies into Germany to defeat the fascists. And there he beheld the Autobahn. It must have seemed to him like he was seeing a new world. And he knew right away why Hitler had it built and it wasn’t to give German drivers a faster more scenic way to get from here to there.

    Years later as president, he pushed for something like it to be built here in the U.S.A. and so the Interstate Highway System came to be. And also why the island of Hawaii has an interstate highway. Yes, it’s a state surrounded by the Pacific ocean. You can’t throw a bridge across it to the mainland. But no, the Interstate is not pork barrel. Look at H-1 on the map. It’s on the island of O’ahu, and it connects the military bases, airports and naval port. It is a fundamental part of the specification of the Interstate highway system, that its roads, bridges, and tunnels can support and accommodate tanks and other military equipment.

    But why goodness gracious that also means it can support passenger cars. And…heavy trucks. And now the rail companies have competition over freight traffic from the trucking industry and passenger traffic has an alternative to long distance coast to coast rail travel. Motels began to spring up along the Interstates. And restaurants and truck stops. And it was built with taxpayer money, for public use, to be owned by the people of the United States. And since the great depression, that public ownership for a public good wasn’t considered unusual or immoral anymore. Except by a certain subsection of the American pews that never got over or forgave FDR and his communist New Deal. But there was another blow to come and it came from the sky, once again by way of the Germans.

    The jet airplane. And once again the military beheld a new world, and once again they made it happen, and once again new businesses followed. And the airports and the air traffic infrastructure that serviced the new jet set were built with public money, to serve a public good because now the public good wasn’t a dirty thought anymore. Except among the usual suspects. And now the rail companies, which once counted their passenger lines as status symbols, allowing travelers to cross the country in mere days in comfort and luxury, began losing money to an industry that could fly passengers coast to coast in just a few hours. It took another decade, but it was the end of the grand passenger trains. Bulk freight was the one area they were still profitable because no other mode could compete there but the freighter ships and they had to take a detour through the Panama Canal to go from coast to coast. So the rail companies, instead of competing with the new modes of passenger transportation, bailed. And you could have seen it coming because their business model from the beginning was about preventing competition, not meeting it head-on and winning customers. Where the Super Chief ran, no other railroad could because the railroad owned that property. Same for the California Zephyr. Yes they both ran from Chicago to California, but by different routes servicing different points along the way. Competition such as it was during the western expansion was for territory because if you had territory you controlled the traffic there. Rail companies gobbled up huge tracts of land, largely to keep other rail companies out so they could charge the local farmers and ranchers whatever they damned well pleased that the market would bear. So when actual competition hit them they walked away from the market altogether.

    I think they could have done it. They had enticements the others simply could not match if they wanted to exploit them. But actual competition was not in the cultural DNA. 

    Which is why we have Amtrak now. Otherwise there would be no long distance passenger rail service at all. But it’s also why Amtrak is at a disadvantage compared to passenger rail service in other nations, and why the airlines and the auto industry and all the ancillary service industries for the road traveler are doing a good business, while passenger rail is hanging on by a thread. Elsewhere, that public money for public good thing isn’t considered immoral. Here it’s a deeply held religious belief that government should not interfere with business. Well…for the public benefit. For private profits it’s just nature’s way because what else are congressmen For? It’s no random happenchance that the man remembered most for saying “The public be damned” was a railroad tycoon (he was complaining about having to run a city passenger line for less than costs because his competition wanted those passengers too). For decades since Amtrak was established the republicans have been trying to kill it like they’ve been trying to erase everything about FDR’s New Deal because socialism. Sure air and highway travel are way more massively subsidized than Amtrak ever was. But the trucking industry, the auto industry, the airline and aircraft industries, the hospitality industry, all have money they can throw at congress. And so can the rail companies which hate Amtrak because it’s using their rails and that’s not only socialism it’s big government stealing from private property owners. Amtrak only has its passengers to speak for it. But so far that’s been enough to keep it running. 

    But not enough to build it into a world class passenger rail service. What we have now is good…much Much better than it was when it was first established and all it had was the cast off equipment the rail companies didn’t want anymore. The new engines and cars are wonderful. But it all runs on a set of privately owned rails and the rail companies don’t give a shit about passenger traffic.

    The rest of us need to. In all the talk about fixing, repairing and maintaining the national infrastructure, we need to pay more attention to the rail infrastructure too. But that’s a problem because of the nature of how it all came to be. The rails were and always have been private property. The rest of the transportation infrastructure is publicly financed and publicly owned. Difficult as it is in this era of Donald Trump republicanism, it’s still lots easier to have a discussion about what to do about the highways than it is about the railroads because the railroads were never a public resource and they still have that public be damned thing in their DNA.

    Milton Friedman, the darling of Randians everywhere, famously said that the only responsibility a corporation has is to increase shareholder profits and that everything else is socialism. We as a nation need to get over that mindset. Big business in this country is subsidized by the public in nearly everything it does and if that isn’t socialism too then nothing is and socialism is just a scarecrow they wave around when they want the public benefit without the public obligation. It’s time private industry acknowledged that no corporation is an island, and gave some equal concern to nurturing the democracy and the social infrastructure that made their business and their profits possible. There is after all, no free lunch.

 

by Bruce | Link | React!
June 6th, 2017

Spared The Frying Pan…Fire…You’re Up Next!

Scott Lively will not stand trial in the United States for his crimes against humanity after all

Lively had faced a crimes against humanity lawsuit from Ugandan LGBT activists, who allege he has acted in violation of international law, by seeking to promote the persecution of gay people.

However, the lawsuit was dismissed this week by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which ruled that there was no jurisdiction for the case.

There’s a line from poem going through my head as I read the entire article over at Pink News. It’s in the Penguin Greek Anthology, by the poet Palladas of Alexandria who was, “A Pagan in the age of the rise of Christianity, his verse is imbued with a deep-rooted, bitter pessimism and melancholy…” In the poem a murderer is spared sudden death by a dream from the god Serapis, warning him to jump for his life before a crumbling wall crashed upon his bed. The murderer thanks the god for saving his life. But the next night he gets another dream from Serapis who tells him that saving his life wasn’t exactly the plan…

Don’t think the gods have let you go
and connive at homicide.
We’ve spared you that quick crushing, so
we can get you crucified.

One can hope that’s the case here for Lively, because this was emphatically not exoneration. The judge’s decision should scare the hell out of him.

To summarize Lively: for decades he has made it his life’s work to actively incite violent passions toward gay people in other parts of the world. He does this, by visiting places where people have suffered horrific war crimes, mass murders, acts of genocide, and tells that that the agents of their suffering were homosexuals, that homosexuality was the evil that befell them. And then he basically stands back and lets the rage of the mob run its course, later denying that he ever meant any actual violence toward homosexuals to come of it.

It begins with his first book on the subject, “The Pink Swastika”, in which he asserts that German fascism was an almost exclusively homosexual creation, that the Nazi party was basically a homosexual network, and that the horrifically violent crimes perpetrated toward jews, slavs and others was the inevitable outcome of homosexual mental pathology. The book has become the go-to piece of propaganda for the religious right, whenever gay civil rights activists point to the horrors of the Third Reich, the death camps and the pink triangles. And it’s instructive. Lively makes a good example of the sort of “fake news” and “junk science” your gay neighbors have had thrown at us by the religious and political right for decades. What we’re seeing now in the age of Donald Trump is nothing new to us. Lively’s book has been denounced over and over again as a near total fabrication by actual historians of world war two and the rise and fall of the Nazis, but it is regarded as holy writ in the pews of the evangelical right and the republican gutter, where it does not matter that Lively is spreading lies so long as the lies are useful.

Not getting enough traction for his ideas beyond the U.S. bible belt, and failing abysmally in western Europe where the history of the Third Reich is perfectly well understood, he began in the 1990s to take his show to places elsewhere in the world, to where his campaign of hate mongering might have more success: to places where horrific war crimes were committed and memories were still raw. Places such as eastern Europe, Russia, and Africa, but also, and critically, where actual knowledge of those events is either sparse, or kept under tight government control for political uses. There he holds rallies with local political and religious leaders and he tells the people who gather that the dead they mourn, their murdered parents, grandparents, all the loved ones they lost, or never even got to know, died at the hands of the homosexual menace. And he tells them that if they let homosexuality take root in their communities it will all happen again.

And unsurprisingly, after he leaves, laws are passed, gay people are arrested, tortured by police, disappeared, or killed at the hands of mobs. See Scott Lively’s hand in Russian persecution of gay people, and in Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, the list goes on and on. Wherever he goes, he gives the festering grief and anger over past war crimes, murder and genocide a scapegoat: homosexuals. It happened because of the homosexuals. It happened because of the homosexuals.

You know what to do…

So the case against Lively, brought by Ugandan LGBT activists who accused him of crimes against humanity by seeking to spread a legal and extra-legal reign of terror against homosexual people was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The crimes he was accused of did not occur on U.S. soil, and so could not be addressed in the U.S. courts. But this decision should scare the hell out of Lively, if he in fact has anything remotely resembling a conscience capable of fear left within him, because in it the judge gives a ringing affirmation that Lively did in fact commit crimes against humanity by the standards of international law…and conceivably could be prosecuted in an international court:

The question before the court is not whether Defendant’s actions in aiding and abetting efforts to demonize, intimidate, and injure LGBTI people in Uganda constitute violations of international law. They do…

…Discovery confirmed the nature of Defendant’s, on the one hand, vicious and, on the other hand, ludicrously extreme animus against LGBTI people and his determination to assist in persecuting them wherever they are, including Uganda.

The evidence of record demonstrates that Defendant aided and abetted efforts (1) to restrict freedom of expression by members of the LBGTI community in Uganda, (2) to suppress their civil rights, and (3) to make the very existence of LGBTI people in Uganda a crime.

 

Don’t think the gods have let you go and connive at homicide…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Spared The Frying Pan…Fire…You’re Up Next!
June 1st, 2017

Somewhere You Can Hear The Sound Of Dinosaurs Laughing

Depend on the ecologically minded Germans to react with alarm to Trump pulling us out of the Paris Accord. Bonus hilarity for when Trump babbled about being elected to represent Pittsburg not Paris, and the mayor of Pittsburg essentially told him to fuck off, his city is sticking to the Paris Accord. Today Der Spiegel reposted this cover from last November on its Facebook page. It was prescient, and yet so terribly obvious; everyone had to know what was coming next. 

 

der spiegel trump asteroid earth

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Somewhere You Can Hear The Sound Of Dinosaurs Laughing
April 4th, 2017

Great Folks, For A Bunch Of Cocksuckers…

Le Dance Pathetique…as choreographed by Alex Jones…

Un…

“In fact, let me say this right now. Let me tell — I’m not against gay people. OK. I love them, they’re great folks…”

Deux…

“But Schiff looks like the archetypal c**ksucker with those little deer-in-the-headlight eyes and all his stuff.”

Trois…

“And there’s something about this fairy, hopping around, bossing everybody around, trying to intimidate people like me and you…”

Quatre…

“He’s sucking globalist dick.”

 

Le Curtian…Applaus a vous…

 

(More on Le Dance Pathetique here.)

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Great Folks, For A Bunch Of Cocksuckers…
March 11th, 2017

Question Death

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Question Death
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!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No…The American Dream Will Not Go Silently Into The Night Mr. Bannon…
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…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Trust Us, This Doesn’t End Well
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…

Which Martin Luther King Are We Celebrating Today?

“Every year on the third Monday of January, Americans of all races, backgrounds and ideologies celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is rightly lionized and sanctified by whites as well as blacks, by Republicans as well as Democrats.

“It is easy to forget that, until fairly recently, many white Americans loathed Dr. King…”

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.  

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on They Still Hate Him
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.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Who Are The People That You Think You Are?
November 20th, 2016

Ruling Out Decency

This is rich…follow along for fun and games…

First NBC News PR tweets this:

reince_muslim_registry

And cue the boilerplate right wing outrage! The tweet is misleading! They left out the Important Part!

reince_muslim_registry-full

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…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Ruling Out Decency
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…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Just Keep Walking – Try Not To Be Afraid

No.

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.

me_tomorrowland_pin

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.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No.
September 14th, 2016

Some Of My Best Friends Are Abominations

Le Dance Pathetique…as choreographed by Social Security Administration employee David Hall

“In support of an inclusive work environment, as well as exemplary customer service, the Social Security Administration recently announced a diversity and inclusion training on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community to our employees…The training includes a brief session on tips for increasing cultural awareness in a diverse and inclusive environment.”

Un…

For Hall, that premise was too sinful. The 42-year-old, who identifies as Christian, said he does not believe God would have wanted him to watch the video.

Deux…

Signing a statement he had watched such a video, moreover, was equal to endorsing “an abomination,” he told WCIA.

Trois…

“I’m not going to certify sin.”

Quatre…

He told WCIA during an interview that the video was propaganda…

Cinq…

Hall added he has LGBT friends.

 

Le Curtian…Applaus a vous…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Some Of My Best Friends Are Abominations
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

eastwood_sullies

Sully is, in theory, based on Sullenberger’s 2009 memoir Highest Duty (co-authored with Jeffrey Zaslow). “Until I read the script, I didn’t know the investigative board was trying to paint the picture that he had done the wrong thing. They were kind of railroading him,” says Eastwood in one promotional trailer. It’s not surprising Eastwood was ignorant of any railroading by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), since it’s a narrative absent from Highest Duty, or anything actually said or written by the NTSB.

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.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Man With No Conscience Rides Into Town…
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

Perhaps we were just not right for each other after all. The hard lesson to learn about love is you can find someone who is just right for you, who seems to complete you in all the places you never even knew were empty, until you met that one person, saw them smile into your eyes. And yet even so you may not be right for them. They may have a completely opposite feeling about you. Ask me how I know this. Perhaps we were not right for each other.

Or perhaps it was something he told me one night as we lay together, in a very quiet, emotionless voice. About the day he came out to his parents. About how the next morning before dawn his father had gone into the household office, fired up the computer, and created a brochure filled with verses condemning homosexuality and what God does to nations that tolerate that which is an abomination in His eyes. About how his father printed up dozens and dozens of copies of the brochure and as the sun rose, walked around their neighborhood and put one in every door of every house, for blocks around. Then he told his son what he had done.

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.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Please Walk A Mile In Our “Social Stigma”
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