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March 12th, 2015
The End Of The Natural Law Excuse
by Bruce |
This New York Times article came across my Facebook stream this morning. It’s well worth reading…
Last month, Salvatore Cordileone, the archbishop of San Francisco, made controversial changes to a handbook for Catholic high school teachers in his jurisdiction. The changes included morals clauses, one of which forbids those teachers from publicly endorsing homosexual behavior. There are plausible legal and educational objections to this move. But there is a deeper issue, one that raises fundamental questions about Catholic teachings on homosexuality and other sexual matters.
Those fundamental teachings being the notion that the Catholic hierarchy can justify its dogmas about morality not merely with an appeal to supernatural authority but so-called Natural Law reasoning. The deep thinkers of this Natural Law tradition assert that morality flows…naturally…from that which makes us human and that homosexual acts can be rightly condemned simply on the basis of careful reasoning about what behavior nurtures our humanity and what behavior degrades it.
But can you can see the problem here? An understanding of what it is that makes us human is at best a work in progress. But it can also be a dandy rhetorical sleight of hand for presenting one’s bar stool opinions about human nature as settled fact when they are anything but. And that is how it usually works with the deep thinkers of Natural Law, such as NOM co-founder Robert George, who use it as an excuse to cull gay people out of the human family. Homosexual acts are contrary to Natural Law, so the deep thinking goes, because they run counter to what makes us human, and that makes them morally objectionable and also not coincidentally a grave sin. See? Religious dogma and science properly understood agree!
The problem as the article points out, is that a good faith search for understanding of what makes us human would seem to support not object to homosexual behavior. But good faith is hard to come by in the Natural Law crowd, and their objections to homosexual relationships have two fatal flaws. Gay folk if not always straight people usually see the first problem with it right away in the relentless focus on homosexual Acts. As the article points out…
The courageous uncloseting of many homosexuals has revealed them as people like most everyone else, searching for and sometimes achieving a fulfilling human life through rich and complex relationships.
It’s our visibility that’s moved our struggle for equality forward. I’ve said this repeatedly: proving that we do not choose our sexual orientation, while it addresses many issues, does not get to the heart of it. Which is…the heart. Homophobia’s central immovable dogma is Homosexuals Don’t Love, They Just Have Sex. You see it running throughout the so-called Natural Law rhetoric this article discusses. It’s always the Acts. The heart is never considered. It was easy once upon a time, before Stonewall, when the persecution of gay people was so relentless most gay folk stayed tightly inside the closet, to reduce our lives to the sex we have. But those days are over. The closet door has opened. And as we live our lives out in the open we are seen as every bit as human in our desires and needs as our heterosexual neighbors. That alone does the Natural Law Excuse irreparable damage.
“The natural-law argument might make some sense to those who see homosexuals as dominated by an obsessive desire for pleasure, to which they subordinate any notion of fidelity or integrity.” That is its only recourse, against which the argument that same sex sex is fundamentally sterile because it cannot lead to reproduction, but which excuses opposite sex couples who cannot naturally bear their own children is seen as hypocrisy. There is the second fatal problem. As the article notes, “Just trying to formulate the argument shows how strained it is.” Well…yes. It’s strained just like every hypocritically dishonest excuse for hurting your neighbor is strained.
The fact that heterosexual couples can still love and desire each other wholeheartedly and live lives together deeply devoted to one another, absent an ability to bear children, proves the power of love over biology, which pulls the rug out from under the Natural Law dogma. And it Is dogma, because the central premise about what it is that makes us human are ultimately and irreducibly matters of religious dogma. And the transparently bogus attempt to rationalize discrimination against same-sex couples but not sterile opposite sex ones anyway proves the intent here is not some sort of search for truth, but an excuse to hate: a little bowl of water to wash, wash, wash their hands before the multitudes of the harm they’ve done to innocent people in love. We were only doing what we thought was moral and right. No. No you weren’t.
This is Exactly why bigots like Salvatore Cordileone and his kinfolk in the anti-gay industrial complex want so badly to shove gay people back into the closet, and silence our heterosexual friends and family. The lie that sex between same sex couples is innately selfish and sterile, that Homosexuals Don’t Love, They Just Have Sex, dies the instant people can see our lives and our humanity for themselves. It becomes obvious we share the same human heart the rest of humanity does.
And then the question becomes, what kind of person wants to persecute someone for being in love…
March 3rd, 2015
Simple Is Only Better Conditionally
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream just now…
In America, libertarian ideas are attractive to mostly young, white men with high ideals and no life experience that live off of the previous generation’s investments and sacrifice. I know this because as a young, white idiot, I subscribed to this system of discredited ideas: Selfishness is good, government is bad. Take what you want, when you want and however you can. Poor people deserve what they get, and the smartest, hardworking people always win.
I know this place…sort-of. I stayed for a time at the libertarian vacation resort myself, when I was mostly young, and yes I am a white guy, and yes I had high ideals. I like to think I still do. But what attracted me to it back in my early twenties wasn’t the idea of my own Galtish godhead and sticking it to all the lesser beings who were dragging me and my innate man-of-the-mind genius down. It was the nerdish appeal of its beautiful social simplicity. I was being raised by a single working mother, so it isn’t as if I was surrounded by family wealth exactly, and visiting Dad in prison is probably more life experience than a lot of kids my age had. Plus I was being raised by Baptists and the whole idea of selfishness as being good was anathema for a number of reasons; materialism, vanity, greed all being big deal sins. Harder for a rich man to enter heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle was what I was told. The moral being that not only was wanting things bad but also that having them blinded you to the essential spiritual Truths. Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God…blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…and so on…
(Just try to find that attitude in the republican party of Jesus these days…)
No. What attracted me to Rand and eventually to the Libertarian party was the beautiful simplicity of its ideas: All human interaction is based on trade. To initiate violence is always wrong. A decent stable productive society will emerge from the free and unfettered marketplace. More Is Less! Make It Simple Stupid. Here at last, was the beautiful elegant answer to all our social ills!
What I failed to realize was something H.L. Mencken said many years before I was born:
“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
I thank Ronald Reagan for showing me the error of my ways…
The shining city on the hill Reagan promised America…look, look…here it is:
The greatest examples of libertarianism in action are the hundreds of men, women and children standing alongside the roads all over Honduras. The government won’t fix the roads, so these desperate entrepreneurs fill in potholes with shovels of dirt or debris. They then stand next to the filled-in pothole soliciting tips from grateful motorists. That is the wet dream of libertarian private sector innovation.
On the mainland there are two kinds of neighborhoods, slums that seem to go on forever and middle-class neighborhoods where every house is its own citadel. In San Pedro Sula, most houses are surrounded by high stone walls topped with either concertina wire or electric fence at the top. As I strolled past these castle-like fortifications, all I could think about was how great this city would be during a zombie apocalypse…
February 13th, 2015
Christianity’s Identity Crisis: Older Than You Think
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook Stream this morning…
On any given day you can find endless social media chatter among Evangelical Christians debating “culture”, and the “culture wars”, and lots and lots of talk of us, “fighting the culture”. There’s recently been a great deal of similar discussion surrounding the promotional push for a new book by popular pastor David Platt, whose forthcomingCounter Culture, seeks to once again position Christianity (as represented by The Church) as the sole solution to our numerous societal ills. I’ve really enjoyed Platt’s past books, and have found inspiration and wisdom in them.
The premise of Platt’s latest is a fine one, and it echoes the ministry and message of so many of those sharing his overall theological perspective; that Jesus was always counter-cultural, and so the Christian Church is called to be that as well.
So many American evangelicals have existed for so long in a materialistic, affluent, largely white, male-dominated religious bubble, that they mistakenly believe they are by default, living out the radical, upside-down mission of Jesus…
It’s a good read, and for me especially when he writes this:
When Rome commandeered Christianity, it affixed to the faith something it was never meant to be marked by: Power.
I think this may actually be the first time I’ve ever seen anyone mark the beginning of the decline of Christianity as being when the Roman Emperor Constantine made it the official imperial religion (in exchange naturally, for helping him win a war). I’ve been thinking this for years now. But it was inevitable. What Ta-Nehisi Coates said a week or so ago about how “The interest in power is almost always accompanied by the need to sanctify that power” is obvious yet it keeps needing repeating. Christianity could never keep speaking truth to power without power eventually co opting it. Power is always attracted to power, for the sake of power. The more powerful Christianity’s message became among the common folk, the more attractive it would inevitably become to The Establishment of any age. So Constantine overthrew the old gods, and not so coincidentally rivals to the throne who followed them, and Christianity became the very thing its founder hated most of all, a religion of the establishment. The Pharisees put down their Torahs and picked up their Bibles, spoke in Latin to the masses, and served the new boss, same as the old boss…
The political sway, the financial storehouses, the abuses of power, the gender disparities, the gentrification, and the bullying dominance of the marginalized, which so often characterize the Church today; these all embody a huge part of the culture that Jesus was running counter to.
You can argue that the religion of Jesus of Nazareth never died, but is reborn in every person who takes his teachings to heart and walks his walk. Yes. Just so. But that is not the religion of the Establishment and the high priests of that Christianity take no prisoners. Ask them in South and Central America what happened when Christianity threatened to actually become the champion of the poor, the oppressed and the outcast. It had to happen. The surprising thing is to finally see with clarity how long ago it was that it happened. The risk in speaking truth to power isn’t you are led to the gallows, but to the throne. The king is anointed by God, and it’s good to be God.
February 2nd, 2015
Why I Hate The NRA…Part The Upteenth…
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream just now…
More Here. This is incredibly idiotic. As a gun owner I cannot fathom…I am actually at a loss for words…as to how anyone who has ever shot a gun cannot grasp the level of danger here.
In my younger years, a friend of mine and I would go to another friend’s house to shoot our guns in their backyard. But they lived in the sticks, far away from anything and we could do that safely. There was a county law prohibiting shooting within a certain designated distance from any home or structure. And they had lots of property surrounding their home. Enough that we could just walk far enough away from the back of the house to be legal, and still be on their property. At the edge of the cleared area was a fence and over that a forest that went on for miles. My friend and his often went hunting back there. I knew it as a place where we could blast away to our hearts content and not bother anyone.
I remember quite well as we fired at various targets propped up on a board in the backyard…cans, bottles, plastic jugs…the sound of our bullets ricocheting off trees in the woods behind the fence. I’d be there with one of my .45s and I’d touch off a round and if I missed we’d listen for the sound of the slug bouncing around in the forest off one tree and then another and then another…bip…bip…bipbipbipbip… It was a warning: just because you’re aiming at something that doesn’t mean that’s where your bullet is going to stop. It can take a bounce and then it might go anywhere. This is why the law was you couldn’t be shooting anywhere near another structure and never mind which direction you’re pointing.
I remember once we were shooting at a stack of empty soda cans we’d propped up on a large piece of scrap metal. One of the folks living there was a welder and we found something in the yard we thought we could use to raise the height of our targets. I was shooting my single action .45 with rounds I’d hand loaded with soft lead bullets. I took a shot and missed and immediately felt something brush up against my right leg, looked down and saw several shards of lead embedded in my blue jeans. The bullet had hit the piece of scrap metal and fragmented and some of the fragments had bounced back at me with enough force they almost penetrated my pants leg. Occasionally the lessons you learn are non-fatal. We never propped our cans on anything bullets couldn’t easily punch through at that distance after that.
That target shooting so close to other people’s homes (look at that photo again) is much too dangerous is something anyone who has ever shot a gun in their lives should know. But of course this isn’t about guns, let alone public safety, it’s about culture war…
So Florida law is cool with this. The cops are not cool with this, but tell me there’s nothing they can do. The city attorney says he can do nothing. The NRA threatens any town that dares try to pass an ordinance against this. And best yet, crazy governor Scott made certain in 2011 that any public official trying to pass a local ordinance or otherwise prevent this would be removed, fined $5,000 and barred from using public resources to defend him/herself.
They’ve degenerated down to outright idolatry now. Guns have become the new crucifixes of the right, the fetish you keep close to protect you from evil spirits and wave at the heathens to keep their demons away. And their sins are so many it isn’t enough that Jesus died for them. Their neighbors have to die too.
January 20th, 2015
I Don’t Like Displays Of Heterosexuality Either. Especially When Homosexuals Are Doing It Too.
by Bruce |
The other day Billy Crystal, whose stereotypical gay character on Soap was supposed to represent some sort of big gay TV breakthrough, was seen bellyaching that now there’s Too Much gay visibility on TV…
“I did it in front of a live audience,” recalls Billy of Soap, “and there were times where I would say to [the actor who played his boyfriend], ‘Bob, “I love you,’ and the audience would laugh nervously, because, you know, it’s a long time ago, that I’d feel this anger. I wanted to stop the tape and go, ‘What is your problem?’ Because it made you sort of very self-conscious about what we were trying to do then. And now it’s just, I see it and I just hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face — well, that sounds terrible — to the point of it just feels like an everyday kind of thing.”
But of course making it feel like an everyday kind of thing is exactly what gay people in the audience back then, who had to listen to that laughter in their own lives if they were lucky, and outright hostility and violence when they weren’t, would have loved to see happen. And now that it is, some people who we may have thought were with us on that, are showing us once again that it’s one thing to talk the talk and another to actually mean it.
And he’s shocked, shocked, to find himself getting static for it now…
After facing quite a bit of backlash on social media, Crystal doubled down, claiming he doesn’t understand “why there would be anything offensive that I said. When it gets too far either visually…now, that world exists because it does for the hetero world, it exists, and I don’t want to see that either. But when I feel it’s a cause, when I feel it’s ‘You’re going to like my lifestyle,’ no matter what it is, I’m going to have a problem.”
No matter what it is… No matter what it is… No matter what it is… What it is would be gay Billy. That’s what it is. And we don’t have a lifestyle, we have lives.
How often have I heard this standard excuse whenever someone bellyaching about the visibility of gay sexuality gets called out for being prejudiced. Oh no…I am against heterosexual public displays too. Yeah, right, so why didn’t anyone hear you complaining about that before now? Why was it only when the TV starting singing a few gay stanzas of the same fucking song it’s been singing about heterosexuality for decades did you decide to start yapping about it?
Let me hazard a guess…because sexuality on the TV screen didn’t bother you until the gays started acting like they had something to be proud of in that department too.
No matter what it is.
Never mind. There is a bigger issue here and thankfully that Think Progress article touches on it. The essential homophobia of the big Hollywood studios needs open acknowledgement and discussion, and not just in retrospect, because that is why gay visibility is next to nil in a Hollywood product and even when it happens, even when they toss us a scrap off the table, is cheap, stereotyped, and nearly always sexually emasculated. This really needs emphasising: the studio heads would rather not offend the heartland bigots, not because they are afraid for their ratings and profits, but because they share the cheapshit prejudices of those heartland bigots.
Let’s talk about shoving sexuality in faces Crystal…Hollywood has been shoving a vision of a world without gays in the faces of gay people for generations without any shred of concern for the effect it has had on us, on our families or or the communities we live and work in. Oh yes, there have been the usual homosexual psychopaths and pathetic limp wristed faggots, but as Vito Russo famously said, “There have never been lesbians or gay men in Hollywood. Only homosexuals.” And even today Hollywood Still tip-toes around our very existence, giving us castrated gay-vague characters at best, cheapshit toss away stereotypes at worst, and they think they’re brave for doing even that much. This is long after other entertainment media have acknowledged and embraced us as a part of the audience.
You want to see three-dimensional, fully realized human gay characters, pick up a book, a comic book, go see a live performance of a play, or listen to some pop music. In Hollywood John Wayne is still rolling in his grave and retrograde attitudes like Crystal’s are just the part that gets said in public, and in private what Truman Capote once said is still true today: a faggot is the homosexual gentleman who just left the room.
Let me add a personal note, because February and Valentine’s Day are coming soon and this is absolutely the worst time of the year for me, Bruce Garrett, one lonely sixty-one year old gay man whose love life looks in retrospect as though it was doomed the moment I hit puberty. I’ll get around to my annual Valentine’s Day venting about that later, or if you feel like taking a stroll through an empty wasteland you can go read some of the posts I’ve written about trying to find a boyfriend in a world that wants people like me to not exist.
Some days you find yourself getting really angry at something and you know that most other people probably think you’re taking it too much to heart. Hey, come On, it’s just some guy who was on Hollywood Squares once… But entire generations of gay people had their love lives throttled because of homophobia and the enforced invisibility that came with it. The closet was a place you both put yourself into, and were put into. And in there your heart slowly withered and died, tastefully out of sight, so that others didn’t have to see the sewer they made of their own souls for doing that to their neighbors. What should have been one of life’s most perfect joys was taken from some of us and turned it into ashes. And even today, even now, for so many of us but especially those of us who were just coming of age when Stonewall happened, that’s all there is now. Ashes. And the knowledge that it didn’t have to be, that there was never anything wrong with us, only adds to the grief…and the anger.
Don’t like it when gay sexuality is shoved in your face Crystal? Hahahahahaha… Live for a few hours with the empty place inside of me where there should have been love and joy and peace and contentment Crystal, and then with the tens of thousands of others like me who had to grow up with your ignorant bar stool prejudices suffocating our hopes and dreams. So you played gay on TV did you? Ever wonder why your fellow actors who are gay are Still scared to death to touch those rolls? Ever wonder why gay kids are Still killing themselves? Ever wonder why the parents of gay kids are Still forcing them into ex-gay therapy? Try a mirror. Then look at your name, along with all the others in the industry you spent your life working in, written on the bottomless misery that taught audiences to cheer and applaud when a man kills another man and be shocked and offended when a man loves another man.
[Edited a tad for clarity…]
January 14th, 2015
The Militant Hurricane Bolt Agenda
by Bruce |
The table is running out of dominos. South Dakota’s constitutional amendment reserving marriage to heterosexual couples only was struck down the other day by a federal judge…
Judge Karen Schreier ruled in favor of six same-sex couples who challenged the South Dakota ban on gay marriage and put her decision on hold pending appeals.
Well this didn’t sit well with Bob Ellis over at The American Clarion, owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005, 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, political reporter and commentator and founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance…
Marital requirements exist for a reason. It takes a man and a woman to form a marriage. Two men or two women sodomizing each other performs no useful function whatsoever for society, and there is no benefit whatsoever in having government serve as a “friendship registry” for two people who want to sodomize each other on a regular basis.
…a point he really drives home with the following illustration:
Never mind shop class, you start to wonder after a while if the sex education classes in certain parts of the country would actually benefit from a trip to the hardware store. Because when the dimwit you’re arguing with starts reaching for the nuts and bolts to prove their point about sex it’s a safe bet they’re not much of a do it yourselfer.
Hey look…it screws in the wall…and then another a screw goes into it. Hardware bisexuality! Or…versatility of you like. Pissst…Hey Bob…if you think the militant homosexual agenda is a threat to our very existence, you really need to investigate the militant hurricane bolt agenda. Seriously. This is probably why they have hurricanes in places that allow this.
November 17th, 2014
The Complementary Nature Of Prejudice And Ignorance
by Bruce |
You wonder some days if some people even bother listening to themselves…
“In these days, as you embark on a reflection on the beauty of complementarity between man and woman in marriage, I urge you to lift up yet another truth about marriage: that permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love responds to the deepest longings of the human heart…” -Pope Francis The Oblivious.
Here it is again in another form: Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. That’s what Francis is saying there if he’s holding that up as a reason why same-sex couples ought not to be allowed equal access to marriage. He’s saying that homosexual relationships can’t, by their very nature, aspire to permanent commitment, solidarity, fidelity, and fruitful love. He’s saying that the deepest longings of the homosexual’s heart are actually quite shallow. They can’t aspire to marriage because they don’t have what it takes. Because homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.
If that’s not what he meant, then why say it in front of an audience that includes some of the worst bigots in the United States. He’s telling them he shares their belief in the essential emptiness of the homosexual’s soul. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex… And if that’s the case, then this man will simply continue his flock’s long jihad on the deepest longings of the human heart after all, reassuring himself as they always do, that the knife isn’t actually cutting hearts capable of bleeding. And as they always do, he’ll continue to blame the pushback on modernism…
“Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion. Family is an anthropological fact – a socially and culturally related fact.” -Same Guy.
Oh it’s facts now is it? Here’s one: same-sex couples share the same longings as opposite-sex couples, because they are as human as anyone else. Gay people have the same human heart, and it is moved by love in the same way. That is a fact. You’d see it if you could see the people for the homosexuals: and yet, it moves.
November 3rd, 2014
Feeling Persecuted Are We…?
by Bruce |
Serendipity in my Twitter feed just now…
October 20th, 2014
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream just now…
IMO the constitution does confer a right to individual citizens to own their own firearms. IMO the right to own your own firearms is an eminently democratic right. I own a few myself, though I’m not an NRA member (have you Seen the people they endorse for public office??). And every time I hear someone babbling that private gun ownership is a check on government power, that it was intended by the founders to prevent tyranny, I just want to scream.
The ballot box is our check on government power! Without that America is a lost dream of liberty and justice for all and it won’t matter how many guns you own. How can anyone seriously think a disorganized armed rebellion can possibly succeed against a government that has, never mind the shear force it can bring to bear on a situation, the vast array of intelligence gathering technology it can put to use. They weren’t shooting everyone right and left in East Germany during the cold war. They didn’t need to. They just watched…everyone.
It is pure absolute genius how the tyrannical right manipulates this issue so they can keep chipping away at access to the ballot box. Do you approve? Do you think they won’t come after your vote too? Do you think that when Those Awful Other People can’t vote anymore you’ll finally get your country back? Lenin had a way of describing people like you.
October 16th, 2014
Don’t Hate Me Because I Disagree With Your Right To Exist.
by Bruce |
Yesterday after work I got into some old color slides I’d previously scanned in of a picnic I’d been to back in the late 80s with other members of a gay BBS system, and posted them to my Facebook stream. A bunch of folks in my friends list who were there, and their friends because I’d made the photos seeable to friends of friends, chimed in with details on faces I didn’t recognise and reminisces. Many reminisces. Some folks in the photos had passed away and we remember them. The rest of us had merely aged a tad and we remembered how it was back in the day when we were young. And for a wonderful few moments of life we could all be people. Just a bunch of folks remembering a lovely picnic we’d all once had together once upon a time. Thankfully those moments aren’t now as few and far between as they were that day back in 1989 when we had our picnic.
This morning I see this fragrant old crap from Bristol Palin in my Facebook stream…probably bellyaching about the fact that same sex couples in Alaska can get married now, just like the opposite sex couples do…and I have to remember that the human gutter still can’t see the people for the homosexuals, still regards all the decades it spent kicking us in the face as a mere disagreement, something we should all just take in neighborly stride.
Yes, we hurled every filthy lie about you we could manage during the Proposition 8 campaign, but you shouldn’t be so mean and hateful to us. Yes, for decades we’ve waged a multi million dollar scorched earth political campaign to deny you equal rights, smearing you as child molesters, destroyers of the family and civilization and spreaders of disease and social decay, but you shouldn’t be so mean and hateful to us. Yes we’ve incited violent religious passions against you here in the U.S. and now since that act is folding here, in Africa and Russia, where we tell anyone who will listen that homosexuals want to rape their children and destroy their families and their countries, and wherever we go we do our level best to see to it that gay people are brutalized, beaten and murdered, but you shouldn’t be so mean and hateful to us because after all we are only disagreeing with your lifestyle. We have a right to disagree with your lifestyle.
Fine. We have a right to our lives. Understand this you pathetic bigots, bullies and cowards, the days when we suffered in silence in the closet are over. Those photos I posted to share among some old friends weren’t just a bunch of homosexuals having a picnic; they were photos of a bunch of homosexuals who were using the emerging computer technologies to reach out to one another. And the day we started doing that was the day we no longer had to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes anymore.
I remember that transition time vividly. When I came out to myself back in December of 1971, everything I knew about homosexuals and homosexuality I’d learned from the heterosexual majority. Then came PCs and modems and in a heartbeat that all changed and we could talk to each other, could see ourselves for the human beings we actually were, not the monsters we were taught we were. And we stopped listening to the likes of you.
You think it’s hateful of us to stand up for our own human dignity do you? Well we’ll just have to agree to disagree about that. Now fuck off!
October 14th, 2014
by Bruce |
This was making the rounds this morning…
This is the gutter’s response to the head of the the National Institutes of Health’s comments the other day that a decade or more of republican assaults on science and research has had consequences. Oh no, says Erickson…we were simply reigning in all that wasteful spending on frivolous things like why lesbians are overweight.
Of course, obesity is a health concern, and it’s a fact that Americans are generally heavier now than in decades past, so that makes it a public health concern. And if we can get a handle on the causes of obesity we can improve the health of Americans and Americans can live longer and healthier lives and hopefully it reduces public spending on health care. But Erickson’s kind don’t think that way. To really understand how they think, you have to get past the gratuitous insult to lesbians in what he’s saying. Because beneath that what he seems to be saying is he really thinks it’s tragic the money didn’t go to an Ebola vaccine.
And if that doesn’t make you laugh out loud you haven’t been paying attention to Erickson and his kind, because without a doubt if that money Had gone to Ebola research he’d have been loudly bellyaching about all that money being spent on Africans and the republicans in congress would have gleefully cut the funding for it…ostensibly on the grounds that the money should be spend on the health of Americans instead. But of course…Africans!
Because disease doesn’t matter unless it’s killing people who matter, and black Africans don’t matter any more than homosexuals matter. And when disease Does start killing people who matter, then it’s Why Aren’t You Doing Something!!!
October 13th, 2014
by Bruce |
Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.
“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,’” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”
“I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
September 29th, 2014
Ultra Rich United
by Bruce |
This from Rolling Stone…
The update [to the documentary film The Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition], which is now available free online, is centered on their influence in (and outpouring of money since) the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. While researching and producing it with his small staff at Brave New Films, Greenwald says he was “surprised by not just the sheer numbers, but the extraordinary lengths they go to legally to hide the amounts they’re giving.”
The Rolling Stone article goes on to document three areas where the Kochs are surreptitiously funding “Think Tanks”, lobbyists and astroturf groups to achieve their political goals. This is the problem with the argument that even billionaires and corporations have free speech rights too. Yes they do, but they also have a power that the rest of us do not: they can drown out the national dialogue in their own manufactured noise and make it seem like it’s the sound of Americans talking to each other when it isn’t.
September 24th, 2014
Karma Is A Bezos
by Bruce |
@paulconstant: “Remember that brief moment when people thought he’d save newspapers? RT @aaronbrethorst: Real classy, Jeff. “
SLOG writer Paul Constant tweeted that the other day, along with this link…
The changes will hit hardest at employees hired before 2009 who could plan on receiving pension payments based on their income and years of service. Each of those employees could see scores — or hundreds — of thousands of dollars less over the course of a retirement. More recent hires do not have traditional pension plans.
The Post’s pension fund is running a surplus. Jeff Bezos, the new owner, is cutting benefits so he can raid it. I don’t know why anyone should be surprised. Just take a look at how he treats his Amazon workers. Or better still, listen to the workers on the picket lines in Europe, where American billionaires haven’t yet managed to succeed in strangling people’s sense of self worth and pride in their jobs…
No you’re not. You’re Jeff Bezos’ lunch and your future is his dessert. Bezos is classic predatory rich, pure and simple. And naturally he calls himself a libertarian, which is how the rich assure themselves that with great power comes no responsibility whatsoever. Greed is good. Selfishness is a Virtue. Eat or be eaten.
So here’s another example of the rich raiding the pension funds of working people, perhaps a more blatant one than most but then hey, Bezos is a libertarian after all and they have a moral code that says it isn’t you stealing from your employees it’s the invisible hand of the marketplace and if they would only stop being so lazy they could be billionaires too. All those city employee union pensions that have gone bankrupt over the years we’ve been told, made unrealistic promises they couldn’t keep and all those elderly workers will just have to learn to like eating cat food. But look closer and what you see are a lot of tax breaks to rich people and businesses that cities and counties could not afford, and so pension plans were raided to make up the difference, until there wasn’t any left to raid. For decades now a lot of worker retirement money has essentially gone straight into the pockets of the rich who couldn’t need it less but for whom more is never enough.
Which brings us back to The Washington Post, which has been tilting more and more to the republican party and the right ever since Reagan. There is some degree of poetic karma going on here I can’t help but appreciate with delight. You get into bed with vampires, don’t complain when you wake up one day with holes in your neck.
September 3rd, 2014
Renewable Energy Is A Good Thing…Pouring Sludge Into My Car’s Engine, Not So Much…
by Bruce |
Link to this post here on my blog about the problems with running biodiesel in modern diesel automobiles, from a MB Sprinter owners forum, leads me to this MB fact sheet (PDF document).
I had a brief argument with a guy in Kansas about all this. The problem here is the religious zeal of the ideology behind it. Weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels is a Good Thing. Mandating bio fuels without regard for what they’ll do to modern engines isn’t getting us there if what people experience is catastrophic engine failure and massive repair bills. Two winters ago, before taking the drive out to California in my new ‘E’ class diesel, I worried about what I was hearing regarding the proliferation of biodiesel my car can’t drink. What I was told by a mechanic at a Mercedes dealership, was I could always get pure petroleum diesel at an oil company owned filling station because that was all they sold. Truck stops and independently owned filling stations might sell bio, but the oil company ones didn’t. Now the oil companies are not very high on my list of things I approve of, but I found this to be a big relief. Not any more. Several states have apparently now mandated at least B10 only, everywhere. I suspect paying for the repairs to people’s engines when a steady diet of B10 has completely trashed them, let alone paying owners for the lost value of their automobiles, because basically those states have made all the passenger car diesels that can’t take that fuel worthless, isn’t in the cards.
There’s a lot of bullshit going on here in the biodiesel camp, and a lot of deliberate misrepresentation of what some diesel automobile makers are saying. In the above document Daimler makes it abundantly clear that they do Not approve biodiesel in their vehicles in percentages above B5, and even then only those biodiesel blends that meet ULSD specification ASTM D975. The document says straight up: “Diesel fuels between B6 and B20 or higher pose risks of engine and fuel system damage, and are not approved by Mercedes-Benz.”
I don’t know how you can interpret that as “Mercedes approves B20 so long as you keep an eye on the oil level” but that is what some people are saying glassy eyed on that MB Sprinter forum. No…what they are saying is if you can’t avoid using diesel higher than B5 (thank you jackass state legislatures!) then here is what you can do to minimize the risk of damage to your engine:
• Fill up with ULSD (B5 or less) whenever possible, from a name–brand fuel station.
• Regularly monitor your engine oil level if you have to use B20 fuel. (this is because biodiesel has a tendency to accumulate in the crankcase oil)
• Strictly follow the oil change intervals quoted in the instrument cluster and within your maintenance booklet, and use
ONLY engine oils and filters approved by Mercedes-Benz for use in the vehicle.
• If you do not plan to drive your vehicle for several weeks, fill your vehicle’s fuel tank completely in advance with ULSD
fuel. (this is because biodiesel has a tendency to sludge up when it just sits in the tank for not very long periods of time. Even the states mandating B10 or higher are saying during the winter months filling stations can sell B5 because it does not have the cold weather sludge characteristics higher percentage biodiesel blends do.)
That does not constitute approval of B10-B20, it only acknowledges a problem they have no control over…the one H.L. Mencken noted when he said that an idealist is someone who, noticing a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes it will also make a better soup.
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