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Archive for January, 2007

January 20th, 2007

Let Us Prey…On Families…

Via Ex-Gay Watch…  For a ministry whose alleged purpose is to help homosexuals, they sure spend a lot of time talking to heterosexuals.  And these days, heterosexual parents especially

If one reads the news coverage following pretty much any Love Won Out conference it quickly becomes obvious they are attended primarily by family, friends and clergy rather than actual ex-gays or gays. As I’ve stood at the driveways to churches where Love Won Out is hosted I’ve seen too many cars pass by with children in the back seat, looks of sheer fear and dread on their faces, their parents unable to reconcile their faith with their child’s sexuality.

I’ve seen that horrific spectacle myself, while standing on a protest line outside of Love In Action.  Last summer I watched while one car drove out of Love In Action with a very young, very miserable looking teenage boy in the back seat.  He put a a spiral notebook up to his face to hide it as the car approached the picket line, his parents sat in the front seats with  angry faces.  Not five minutes before, I had been told by one of the protest organizers that an LIA staffer had assured him there were no underage kids attending Refuge that year.  And as it turns out, John Smid, the child abusing leader of that little cult, is trolling the Exodus Love Won Out conferences for fresh blood

“I go to every Love Won Out conference,” Smid said, “and 60% of those who attend are parents. It’s primarily a ministry to parents, that’s their goal.”

Which is just as a lot of us thought.  Parents are really the only significant growth opportunity left to the ex-gay snakeoil salesmen.  Especially fundamentalist parents who can be terrified into forcing their kids into undergoing ex-gay therapy.  Which John insists really does work…

“The world is bombarding us with the lie that [homosexuals] should not change, cannot change, that it’s harmful to change,” said John Smid of Love in Action (LIA). “The media is bombarding people with those lies.”

The wall is yellow John.  

He said parents want to know how to build a respectful relationship with their children, which is necessary before they can help their children escape the tentacles of a homosexual lifestyle.

Oh really?  I was at the protest against the Love Won Out conference in Silver Spring last year, and a former "client" of John’s, Lance Carroll, was there on the protest line too.  Lance was also at the Love In Action protest in Memphis last summer, and spoke to reporters there about his experience as an unwilling participant in John’s Refuge program for teens.  Like other teens who have been through the "program", Lance was forced into it by his parents, a situation that John happily goes along with, I guess in the name of building respectful relationships.  But what was really heartbreaking about Lance’s story, was what happened to him after he left LIA.  His situation at home became even more abusive, to the point where the boy was being beaten up and he had to get the hell out of there.  Now there’s a respectful relationship for you.  And it only cost his parents $10,000.00.

Lance expressed the hope several times to me while standing on that picket line, that John would come out and talk to him.  Of course he didn’t.  If you don’t acknowledge the people in your life that you have failed, then you can say you have not failed anyone.   And cash the checks with a somewhat clear conscience.

Smid says family involvement is crucial to give the client the best shot at restoration in his or her life. Many other ministries have used LIA’s materials to start their own outreach, notable among them Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conferences. Not only did Focus on the Family adopt LIA materials and resources, but the ministry was pioneered by LIA graduates.

Materials let it be said, created by someone whose own family life is somewhat less then perfect, apparently.  This is something I hadn’t heard before, but it’s strikingly unsurprising:

“Healing from the causes of homosexuality takes time,” Smid said. Again, his own experience brings a poignant focus on the needs he still faces in his restoration process. One of his deepest prayers is to reach reconciliation with his daughters. Those dysfunctional family relationships – consequences of his own poor choices – now fuel his passion for LIA to serve the whole family.

So to recap: he’s a self loathing gay man who spent his entire life running away from what he is, he’s on somewhat less then good terms with his own children, and he’s getting thousands of dollars from the parents to teach them, he claims, how to build respectful relationships with their gay children.  Swell.  Next time my roof needs fixing I think I’ll call a carpenter whose house has fallen apart.  Sure…I can hold a hammer.  Watch me hit myself in the head with this one.  Watch me do it again…

You see this over and over again in this struggle…people who are thoroughly obsessed with fighting the homosexual demon, that turn out to have painful family lives.  Maybe it’s a gay kid they loath.  Maybe it’s a gay parent.  Maybe it’s a failed marriage.  Maybe it’s their own failure to be the parents their kids need them to be.  But whatever it is in their own family lives they’re unhappy with, rather then accept responsibility for it they turn outward, looking for scapegoats.  And for thousands of years, gay people have played the role of human scapegoats for the intimate failures of heterosexuals…and those who wish they were heterosexual.  I wonder if John was having trouble with his daughters the day he told Tom Ottosen "I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle."   What I don’t wonder now is what John would have told Ottosen’s parents had he actually done that.  Nothing.  The man who could not so much as bring himself to walk over to Lance Carroll and acknowledge Lance felt so badly about how he was treated inside Love In Action…not even to apologize for it, just to acknowledge it…would have said nothing to Ottosen’s parents if their son had died as a result of John’s advice.  Of that I am absolutely certain.  The man who instructs his unwilling charges that they have to "be honest, authentic, and real", has a long familiarity with running away from his own issues. 

And he seems to think God should be willing to help him keep doing that

"I’m looking at that wall and suddenly I say it’s blue," Smid said, pointing to a yellow wall. "Someone else comes along and says, ‘No, it’s gold.’ But I want to believe that wall is blue. Then God comes along and He says, ‘You’re right, John, [that yellow wall] is blue.’ That’s the help I need. God can help me make that [yellow] wall blue."

The wall is yellow John.

"Basically, their form of therapy is conditioning. It’s a negative reinforcement of shame. Anything that you connect to homosexuality, you connect to shame within yourself. You internalize this hatred toward yourself, this homophobia, this embarrassment…two months, every day, morning and evening, they would take turns. A person would get up and you would literally shame them for their feelings…"

-Lance Carroll

You don’t build respectful relationships on such a foundation as this.  You can’t.  When you rip apart someone from within like this, you aren’t doing it to make them a better person.  You do it, to punish them for existing.  You do it, so they will never rise above you, will never become the fully realized human beings that you never could yourself.  The staringly obvious thing about this assault on gay teens is that it isn’t about healing them, let alone bringing their families together.  Just look at the indifference toward them after they’ve left the "program".   This is about destroying the person within.   Nothing else.  John Smid is doing nothing more noble and righteous then making himself a willing pawn in the big boy’s Kultar Kampf, so he can fill the void inside of him with the lost hopes and dreams of young adults and helpless teenagers.  Probably, they remind him of himself the day he took his own hopes and dreams around behind the barn and killed them.  The big boys, the rich and powerful of the American hard core right wing, do it out of a bottomless hatred of the human spirit, which does not willingly accept their whips and chains.  But for the likes of John, it is more personal, more focused, more intimate.  Every light he manages to snuff out within a young person’s heart, justifies the choices he made in life that left darkness inside his own.  That’s why he does it.  In a larger sense, that’s why they all do it.  It matters not if it leaves a family in ruins.  Just so long as it leaves the kid’s heart in ruins.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

January 19th, 2007

Yes…But Does It Protect You From Real Electromagnetic Waves Too?

I saw this on Fark.Com and I had to pass it along.  It’s had me giggling for hours…

Can this spray really stop mobile phone signals?

Did you know that, right now, artificial electromagnetic (EM) waves could be tearing your skin cells apart and causing your face to age prematurely? Waves from televisions, mobile phones and radios are all around us. They pass through metres of concrete, so imagine what they’re doing to your skin.

Clarins reckon they have something to help. It’s Expertise 3P, "an ultra-sheer screen mist containing a pioneering combination of plant extracts capable of protecting the skin from the accelerated-ageing effects of all indoor and outdoor air pollution but, most significantly, the effects of Artificial Electromagnetic Waves." It’s a bargain at £30 a bottle.

Artificial Electromagnetic Waves.  Artificial Electromagnetic Waves.  I’m sorry…I’m giggling right now as I type this.  I think I’ll be giggling about this for days.  Artificial Electromagnetic Waves.  Do artificial electromagnetic waves produce artificial magnetism?  If you moved lines of artificial magnetic force across a wire, would they induce an artificial electric current?

Artificial Electromagnetic Waves.  Sounds like something out of Lost In Space dialogue…   Danger!  Danger Will Robinson!  Artificial Electromagnetic Waves!   Warning!   Danger!  Danger! 

Artificial Electromagnetic Waves.  What won’t they think of next? 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

January 18th, 2007

All Hail Comrade Torvalds

From Slashdot…

"The Hindu, a leading national newspaper, reports that the Communist government of Kerala (the state with the highest literacy rate in India) has announced its all-out support for FOSS in the draft IT policy announced yesterday. The draft also calls for preferential treatment for companies coming forward to work in the FOSS domain.

Wasn’t it Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer who said that open source software was a Communist plot…?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on All Hail Comrade Torvalds

Creep Of The Year

The new year is only a couple weeks old, and already we have a winner…

O’Reilly: Abducted child "liked … his circumstances," had "a lot more fun" than usual

On the January 15 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly said of Shawn Hornbeck — who was abducted at the age of 11, held for four years, and recently found in Missouri — that "there was an element here that this kid liked about this circumstances" and that he "do[esn’t] buy" "the Stockholm syndrome thing." O’Reilly also said: "The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn’t have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted." When fellow Fox News host Greta Van Susteren pointed out that "[s]ome kids like school," O’Reilly replied: "Well, I don’t believe this kid did."

The following day, during his "Talking Points Memo" segment, O’Reilly responded to viewer mail criticizing his comments about Hornbeck. O’Reilly concluded: "I hope he did not make a conscious decision to accept his captivity because" his kidnapper "made things easy for him. No school, play all day long."

What a creep.  What a goddamned slimeball.  Sure makes that sexual harassment lawsuit he faced a couple years back make a whole lot more sense doesn’t it? 

But then…it makes everything about right wingers make sense when you think about it.  Digby puts the pieces together here… 

I think this is one of the defining aspects of conservatism. They have a stunted sense of empathy and an undeveloped ability to understand abstract concepts. It makes them unable to fashion any solutions to common problems, which they blame on "poor character" because they cannot visualize themselves ever being in a vulnerable or unlucky position through no fault of their own. Until it happens to them or someone they know, in which case they never question their philosophy as a whole but merely apply a special exemption to whichever particular problem or risk to which they have personally been exposed.

Empathy is not some altruistic concept. In fact, it’s quite selfish and designed to make humans better able to survive. It allows a person to walk in another’s shoes so that they might have an inkling of what it would be like if that person’s experience became their own. It is necessary to understand how to head off problems that you might someday have to confront and it is certainly necessary to fully understand other necessary concepts such as justice, fairness and love.

I’m not drawing any conclusions from this [Warning…PDF file], but it’s interesting. It seems that when they test psychopaths, they find that they can’t understand abstract concepts. I’m just saying.

That PDF from Crime Times Digby links to is really interesting…

Psychopaths are callous, glib, superficial, and impulsive; lack empathy for others; and display no guilt or remorse for their harmful acts. One reason for these traits, research suggests, is that psychopaths have difficulty understanding emotions. However, a new study indicates that psychopaths are impaired not just in the emotional realm, but more broadly, in understanding abstract information in general.

Sound familiar?

In particular, the psychopaths showed clear deficits in activating one brain area, the right anterior superior temporal gyrus, when processing abstract stimuli. This region failed to differentiate normally between abstract and concrete stimuli.

The researchers say, “These data support the hypothesis that there is an abnormality in the function of the right anterior superior temporal gyrus in psychopathy.”

“Perhaps,” the researchers say, “psychopathic individuals have difficulty engaging in cognitive functions that involve material that has no concrete realization in the external world. We might speculate that complex social emotions such as love, empathy, guilt and remorse may be a form of more abstract functioning. Thus, difficulties in processing and integrating these conceptually abstract representations to regulate or modulate behavior would be [seen] in these individuals.”

I’ve always wondered about this, particularly regarding the hard core homophobes.  How is it that any decent person could stick a knife in the hearts of loving couples, do everything possible in their power to gut them of their capacity, not just to love each other, but to trust anyone, let alone love anyone?  How is it they can look you right in the eye and tell you to your face that marriage doesn’t have anything to do with love…that it’s just about making babies and nothing more?  How is it, they can throw helpless gay teens into ex-gay camps where they’ll be taught to fear and loath their sexual nature, how do they pray to God above that if their kid can’t be made into a heterosexual, at least dear god make them incapable of loving someone of their own sex?  How does anyone do this to a kid and say they’re doing it out of love?  Well…maybe this is why.

Look at what O’Reilly is saying up there again.  How do you look into the camera at millions of viewers and tell them you think that kid was enjoying himself?   How do you do it with an air of plain talk common sense?  The only answer I can think of is, you do it like that because you simply cannot fathom what that kid must have been going through.  Empathy.  You could swim in the open sewer of that man’s conscience forever and not find a single shred of it anywhere.

Or in any of them.  This is why appealing to their better nature isn’t bloody likely to buy you anything. 

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

January 17th, 2007

Tales Of The Smirk…(continued)

It just never stops with him…

Bush: War Skeptics ‘Proposing Nothing’

President Bush on Saturday challenged lawmakers skeptical of his new Iraq plan to propose their own strategy for stopping the violence in Baghdad. "To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible," Bush said.

This from the man who just weeks ago received the Iraq Study Group Report, which did exactly that, and which he reportedly called a "flaming turd".  Okay…fine…he doesn’t like what they’re proposing.  But why lie about it?

Well for one thing, because for six years going on seven now, he’s been able to lie through his teeth about damn near anything he’s wanted to and the press never called him on any of it.  But mostly, it’s just junior doing what he’s always done all his damn life…shifting the blame elsewhere.

I’m seeing chatter making the rounds on the blog nets now, about how those of us who opposed this war from the beginning, those of us who felt it would turn out as badly as it now, unmistakably has, were nonetheless wrong anyway, no matter how right we were, because we based our opposition on our dislike of Bush. 

Well…duh!  I said early on that I could imagine one of any dozen or so other possible presidents, including republicans I absolutely detest, who if they’d made the case for Iraq I’d have gritted my teeth and reluctantly gone along with it.  But from the start the problem was that it was Bush.  Anyone taking even a little peek into that toxic waste dump that was his resume before 2000 could have seen this coming.  Bush, let alone the right wing machine that pushed him on America, was not trustworthy.  Period.

And now…thousands of dead Americans, a foreign policy in ruins, a lost American city, trillions of dollars in debt, a constitution in tatters and our moral standing in the world in the gutter later…the rest of you know it too.

Why on earth couldn’t you people see what this man was made of before you voted him into the highest office in the land?  Twice for fuck’s sake!?  Why couldn’t you just use a little basic common sense and…LOOKOUT, THE GAYS WANT TO BAN BIBLES AND MARRY EACH OTHER!!! 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Tales Of The Smirk…(continued)

Oh My Goodness…Hell HAS Frozen Over….

Or at least the part of it incorporated by Texas.  If you’ve ever driven I-10 in the middle of summer, a headline that has the words ‘Ice’ and ‘Interstate 10’ in the same sentence Will catch your attention…

Storm leaves 55 dead, thousands shivering

The system that coated Texas with ice was moving east Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, and snow, sleet or freezing rain was possible Wednesday night from Louisiana to the Carolinas.

The wave of arctic air that trailed the storm system helped to kick off more freezing rain and snow Wednesday in Texas, closing schools and some businesses and government offices.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport canceled 100 flights. The Austin airport canceled 32 outbound flights and 28 inbound, and ran out of de-icing fluid, officials said.

Houston and San Antonio were under rare ice warnings Wednesday and icy roads in Dallas slowed morning highway commuters.

A 300-mile stretch of Interstate 10 in Texas from Fort Stockton to San Antonio had been closed since Tuesday because of fresh snow atop a layer of ice.

Ice.  On Interstate 10.  Wow.  I’ve driven I-8 to I-10 all the way from San Diego to Kent Texas where it forks with I-20.  In the middle of August.  You drive it someday in the middle of August and try to picture it coated with Ice.  I’ve never been through Fort Stockton, but that’s further south then Gila Bend Arizona, where they sell mock roadsigns with an arrow pointing forward that reads "Tuscon – 100 miles" and another arrow pointing down that reads "Hell – 5 feet".

I have a refrigerator magnet I bought down there that reads "But It’s A Dry Heat…"

Looks like it’s heading my way, but when it gets here we’ll only get a few snow showers…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Oh My Goodness…Hell HAS Frozen Over….

January 15th, 2007

Not A Good Sign…

Via Raw Story…

Major investment bank issues warning on strike against Iran

Bank sees February or March timeline if Israel strikes

Warning that investors might be "in for a shock," a major investment bank has told the financial community that a preemptive strike by Israel with American backing could hit Iran’s nuclear program, RAW STORY has learned.

The banking division of ING Group released a memo on Jan. 9 entitled "Attacking Iran: The market impact of a surprise Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities."

ING is a global financial services company of Dutch origin that includes banking, insurance, and other divisions. The report was authored by Charles Robinson, the Chief Economist for Emerging Europe, Middle East, and Africa. He also authored an update in ING’s daily update Prophet that further underscored the bank’s perception of the risks of an attack.

ING’s Robertson admitted that an attack on Iran was "high impact, if low probability," but explained some of the reasons why a strike might go forward. The Jan. 9 dispatch, describes Israel as "not prepared to accept the same doctrine of ‘mutually assured destruction’ that kept the peace during the Cold War…

Robertson suggests a February-March 2007 timeline for several reasons…

Well right now we are advising our clients to put all they can into canned food and shotguns…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Not A Good Sign…

January 14th, 2007

Tales From George Bush’s America…(continued)

Via John Aravosis, who says, "the new GOP and their supporters are just the old Soviet Union, but with better suits".  Just so

Shock and oil: Iraq’s billions & the White House connection

The American company appointed to advise the US government on the economic reconstruction of Iraq has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican Party coffers and has admitted that its own finances are in chaos because of accounting errors and bad management.

BearingPoint is fighting to restore its reputation in the US after falling more than a year behind in reporting its own financial results, prompting legal actions from its creditors and shareholders.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, BearingPoint employees gave $117,000 (£60,000) to the 2000 and 2004 Bush election campaigns, more than any other Iraq contractor. Other recipients include three prominent Congressmen on the House of Representatives’ defence sub-committee, which oversees defence department contracts.

One of the biggest single contributors to BearingPoint’s in-house political fund was James Horner, who heads the company’s emerging markets business which is working in Iraq and Afghanistan. He donated $5,000 in August 2005.

The company’s shares have collapsed to a third of their value when the firm listed in 2001, and it faces being thrown out of the New York Stock Exchange altogether…

The company is a mess, not because of malfeasance according to the article, but bad management.  Yet they were cherry picked to be consultants for creating a new market economy in Iraq.  And BearingPoint had the advantage of months of helping the Bush administration write the specifications for the contract they eventually won.  Turns out its competitors only had a week to read the specifications and submit their own bids.  Nice. 

Well, the Iraqis sure got their new market economy didn’t they?  Question: how does anyone in their right mind expect a corporation that can only play in the marketplace if the game is rigged, to help another country rebuild their own economy?  I know…I know…that’s not the point.  The point is that the got the contract, because they knew which palms to grease.  In George Bush’s America, that’s savvy business management.  The product doesn’t matter, let alone the customer.  What matters is the buying and selling of politicians.  Remember children, republicans are better at managing the economy then those communist socialist democrats, who hate the free market.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Tales From George Bush’s America…(continued)

January 13th, 2007

I Forget Sometimes…

I forget sometimes how old I am.  This may sound surprising to someone younger, or it might not.  I don’t know.  When I was a kid, I always assumed the adults around me knew how old they seemed to me.  Most of them, certainly acted it.  But I keep forgetting. 

I’m 53, which isn’t all that old objectively.  My body is in good health.  I can see the age setting in on my skin, and in the increasing field of grey in my hair.  But just I don’t feel all that old.  And yet I find myself surrounded more and more by people who don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about.  Standing in the line during my draft pre-induction physical is a memory as vivid to me now as when I first lived it (they told me to go back home and put on a few more pounds…and then a few months later the draft was canceled so I didn’t have to go back for a second exam).  The race riots in the late 60s and early 70s.  Watergate…Nixon giving his resignation speech.  Seems like it happened only last week.  The world before the Internet and personal computers.  When the phrase "Made in Japan" denoted junk, not quality.  The local head shop.  The ERA battle.  Underground comix.  The unmitigated hassle of banking before direct deposit and ATM machines.  Ma Bell.  Black and white TVs with vacuum tubes inside.  Duck and Cover.  Cap guns.  The invention of skateboarding.  Meet the Beatles.  Soda cans before they put the pop top on.  Something keeps telling me I’m older then I think.

Mostly…things like this…via Glenn Greenwald

Rod Dreher is as conservative as it gets — a contributor to National Review and the Corner, a current columnist for The Dallas Morning News, a self-described "practicing Christian and political conservative."

Today, Dreher has an extraordinary (oral) essay at NPR in which he recounts how the conduct of President Bush (for whom he voted twice) in the Iraq War (which he supported) is causing him to question, really to abandon, the core political beliefs he has held since childhood.

Dreher, 40, recounts that his "first real political memory" was the 1979 failed rescue effort of the U.S. hostages in Iran. He says he "hated" Jimmy Carter for "shaming America before our enemies with weakness and incompetence." When Reagan was elected, he believed "America was saved." Reagan was "strong and confident." Democrats were "weak and depressed."

In particular, Dreher recounts how much, during the 1980s, he "disliked hippies – the blame America first liberals who were so hung up on Vietnam, who surrendered to Communists back then just like they want to do now." In short, Republicans were "winners." Democrats were "defeatists."

On 9/11, Dreher’s first thought was : "Thank God we have a Republican in the White House." The rest of his essay:

As President Bush marched the country to war with Iraq, even some voices on the Right warned that this was a fool’s errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic.

But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool.

In Iraq, this Republican President for whom I voted twice has shamed our country with weakness and incompetence, and the consequences of his failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did.

The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government’s conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. Not under a Republican President.

I turn 40 next month — middle aged at last — a time of discovering limits, finitude. I expected that. But what I did not expect was to see the limits of finitude of American power revealed so painfully.

I did not expect Vietnam.

As I sat in my office last night watching President Bush deliver his big speech, I seethed over the waste, the folly, the stupidity of this war.

I had a heretical thought for a conservative – that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word – that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot – that they have to question authority.

On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn’t the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?

Question Authority.  Yes.  You cannot understand the 1960s, without first understanding the stifling, conformist 1950s.  We saw it all go down, the communist witch hunts, Viet Nam, Watergate, and we took away from it something ironically enough, John Mitchall, Nixon’s Attorney General and a central figure in the Watergate conspiracy, once said to reporters…

"You will be better advised to watch what we do instead of what we say."

No kidding.  Those are words that should be embossed in bold letters at the top of every ballot in every election.  Never mind what they say…pay attention to what they do.  And when they start hiding things from the voters, it should set off every alarm bell you have.  At minimum, we can’t govern ourselves if we don’t know what the fuck our government is up to.  Nixon was legendary for his secretiveness.  But Bush makes him look like he lived in a glass White House.

Sometimes I forget how old I am.  Not everyone remembers that past like I do.  Barbara O’Brien puts Dreher’s experience into perspective for me

The answers to your questions, Mr. Dreher, is (1) yes, and (2) because you were brainwashed. As I wrote here,

I noticed years ago that the rank-and-file “movement conservative” is younger than I am. Well, OK, most people are younger than I am. But surely you’ve noticed that a disproportionate number of True Believers are people who reached their late teens / early twenties during the Carter or Reagan years at the earliest. They came of age at the same time the right-wing media / think tank infrastructure began to dominate national political discourse, and all their adult lives their brains have been pickled in rightie propaganda.

Because they’re too young to remember When Things Were Different, they don’t recognize that the way mass media has handled politics for the past thirty or so years is abnormal. What passes for our national political discourse — as presented on radio, television, and much print media — is scripted in right-wing think tanks and media paid for by the likes of Joseph Coors, Richard Mellon Scaife, and more recently by Sun Myung Moon. What looks like “debate” is just puppet theater, presented to manipulate public opinion in favor of the Right.

In this puppet theater “liberals” (booo! hisss!) are the craven, cowardly, and possibly demented villains, and “conservatives” are the noble heroes who come to the rescue of the virtuous maid America. Any American under the age of 40 has had this narrative pounded into his head his entire life. Rare is the individual born after the Baby Boom who has any clue what “liberalism” really is. Ask, and they’ll tell you that liberals are people who “believe in” raising taxes and spending money on big entitlement programs, which of course is bad. (Read this to understand why it’s bad.)

Just one example of how the word liberal has been utterly bastardized, see this Heritage Foundation press release of March 2006 that complains Congress is becoming “liberal.” Why? Because of its pork-barrel spending.

But I want to say something more about betrayal. One piece left out of most commentary on the freaks (not hippies, children; the name preferred by participants of the counterculture was freaks) was how betrayed many of us felt. Remember, we’d been born in the years after World War II. We’d spent our childhoods dramatizing our fathers’ struggles on Normandy Beach and Iwo Jima in our suburban back yards. Most of us watched “Victory at Sea” at least twice. Most of our childhood heroes were characters out of American mythos, like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone (who seemed an awful lot alike). Further, some of the scariest times of the Cold War unfolded during our elementary and middle schools years. We grew up believing the Communists would nuke us any second. Our schools (even Sunday School, as I recall) and media made sure we were thoroughly indoctrinated with the understanding that liberty and democracy were “good” and Communism was “bad,” and America Is the Greatest Nation in the World.

For many of us, these feelings reached their apex during the Kennedy administration. I was nine years old when he was elected. He seemed to embody everything that was noble and good and heroic about America. I remember his tour of Europe the summer before the assassination. I watched his motorcade move through cheering crowds on our black-and-white console television and never felt prouder to be an American.

But then our hearts were broken in Dallas, and less than two years later Lyndon Johnson announced he would send troops to Vietnam. And then the young men of my generation were drafted into the meat grinder. Sooner or later, most of us figured out our idealism had been misplaced. I was one of the later ones; the realization dawned for me during the Nixon Administration, which began while I was a senior in high school. Oh, I still believed in liberty and democracy; I felt betrayed because I realized our government didn’t. And much of my parents’ generation didn’t seem to, either.

The counterculture was both a backlash to that betrayal and to the cultural rigidity of the 1950s. And much of “movement conservatism” was a backlash to the counterculture, albeit rooted in the pseudo-conservatism documented earlier by Richard Hofstadter and others.

Just so.  I forget this.  More and more people I live and work with every day now, came of political age during Carter.  It always amazed me how they could idolize that cardboard right-wing conservative figurehead Reagan, who famously laughed at Bob Hope’s AIDS jokes during the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty.  But Carter’s handling of the Iran Hostage situation probably affected a good many of them the way it affected Dreher, and Reagan’s theatrical posturing as a force for American strength and values probably inspired them the way Bush’s did after 9-11, and never mind that the families of tens of thousands of "disappeareds" in south America might view it a little differently.  You can’t trust a president who treats the lives of helpless impoverished people with indifference, if not contempt, to respect American lives any better.  The conservative juggernaut Reagan helped usher into American politics has been an unmitigated disaster for American democracy, and we can see that disaster’s culmination in Iraq…in Katrina…in Bush.

Nixon and Reagan were both notorious for the grandiose trappings of luxury and royalty they attached to the presidency, prompting the columnist Mary McGrory to say of the Reagan republicans that they were "Free, free at last from the loathsome hypocrisy of the respectable republican cloth coat", ironically a phrase Nixon coined back when he was Eisenhower’s VP.  Nixon’s nemesis on the editorial pages of the Washington Post, the political cartoonist Herblock, once averred that the proper degree of respect for the president was as public servant number one.  Because in this democracy, that’s what the president is.  But it’s a lesson lost to a lot of us now, because the right wing noise machine has deftly associated that basic principle of democracy with national weakness.  Kings don’t suffer questioning by the peasants, and we have a president now who seems to really think the office he was elected to was king, and not public servant number 1.  That’s no accident.  It’s taken them years to get us here.  But it’s starting to look as though one more Viet Nam might bring us back to democracy again.  Maybe. 

This is no hippy slogan.  This is how democracy works.  Ask the Watergate generation why this is so.  Or just sit back, and watch it all happening again.  I guess for some of you this would be the first time you saw it.  But not just democracy, this is how Life works, unless you aspire to be nothing more then someone else’s sock puppet.  If I could, I would put this on all our coins instead of the Christianist, "In God We Trust",  that became de rigueur for American currency by a law passed in the 1950s.  


E Pluribus Unum.  Question Authority.


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Forget Sometimes…

Who Will Save The Kids From Their Saviors?

There is a new movie out that I absolutely cannot fathom ever watching; Alpha Dog.  As I understand it, the film dramatizes the true life kidnapping and murder of a 15 year old boy.  I glanced at a review of it, which gave a few details.  The victim was the brother of an older teen who owed a drug debt.  Murder was not the original intent, only to make the brother pay up.  The kid was taken to a house where he eventually began to enjoy the drugs and the scene and party it up a bit himself, not taking too seriously the situation he was in because his kidnappers were other kids not much older then he was.  He thinks he is making friends with them.

But then the kidnapper talks with his lawyer and realizes the magnitude of the crime he’s committed, and step-by-step, feels backed into a corner where actually killing the kid looks like the only thing he can do.  The review I read remarked on how uneasy you feel watching the whole situation unfold, watching that kid in the company of his kidnappers, enjoying their company, not taking too seriously the situation he’s in, hoping that what what you just know is going to happen won’t   And then it does.  I can’t watch that.  Just thinking about it now as I type this, is stressing me out.  I feel an urgent need to get that kid the hell out of there, by any means necessary.  And I can’t.  It’s too late.  It’s many years too late.  I think about how I was blissfully enjoying my own life, while this fifteen year old was in the company of kids who would eventually murder him and it just stresses me out.  No way am I going to watch that movie.

I raise this because of something Peterson Toscano said on his blog recently.  Peterson was recently made aware of situations inside some of these ex-gay camps for kids, that many of us have been very much afraid of :

On June 26, 2006 I initially left voice messages for Alan Chambers of Exodus International and another national ex-gay leader about inappropriate incidents that affected youth at an Exodus member ministry. I will not go into the details at this time, but I shared three specific situations that happened within the previous year. The shocking details of the third situation compelled me to contact Alan and this other national leader. In my initial messages I said that I would rather discuss this privately, but if they did not wish to talk, then I would initiate a public discussion.

Peterson Toscano, after all he’s been through in his life, is one of the most inwardly calm and decent people I’ve ever met.  His style is not to be confrontational, but to speak to a person’s conscience, to their better nature, and try to work together with them to resolve problems.  He would not be making this matter public if there was any other way.  But Exodus doesn’t seem to want to address the issue.  For half a year, he has been trying to get Exodus to agree to some basic guidelines for protecting the kids in their "programs".  Now it looks like he’s just getting the brush-off.

Peterson worries that some of us may be hoping for a scandal that will finally bring down the ex-gay ministries.

The non-violent work that I do involves attempting to connect with people to create a "win-win" situation if at all possible. Building relationships, shedding assumptions, believing the best in people are all part of my Christian testimony. Joe Brummer outlines some of these non-violent steps in his most recent post. I don’t hate Alan or Exodus. I have used much restraint in hopes of seeing real change.

Some of us who feel we have been wounded by the ex-gay ministries and the anti-gay church may have sometimes wish to do them harm and to think the worse, to malign them the way that we feel they malign the LGBT community. For me Jesus’ teachings is that I should seek to do good and speak out against injustice but not exact revenge.

Perhaps some people would love there to be a major Exodus scandal. I want to see one avoided.

Do I wish them harm?  Here’s what I wish.  In a just society anyone who participated in forcing a gay kid into one of these places would be in jail, along with the other child molesters.  That’s my wish.  But the possibility of a scandal of this nature disturbs me so deeply that I have to step back from this fight periodically, for the sake of my own sanity.  I think that’s why a lot of people hold this fight at arm’s length.  It’s just too emotionally stressfull.  You want to get those kids the hell out of there and you can’t.  The law is against you.  There’s nothing you can do but watch in a kind of growing gut wrenching horror.  Ever since the Memphis protests, ever since I read that Refuge Rule Book Zach Stark posted, I’ve felt like I was watching a situation unfold, watching gay kids being put into camps run by men with no training other then religious dogma, no understanding of human sexuality, and no respect for the sexual nature of these kids, hoping that what what you just know is going to happen won’t   And when it does, I am not going to be happy, I am going to be sick.

Peterson Toscano is one of the most decent people I have ever met.  I hope his way of conflict resolution has the desired effect.  I trust, since he actually knows more about this environment from first-hand experience then I’ll ever know in a lifetime, that he knows what he’s dealing with.  I hope I am wrong: He believes there is a better nature within these people that can be reached.  I think they’re rotten to the core.  I think they’ve taken their conscience around behind the barn and killed it.  I hope I am wrong.  I hope I won’t see happen, what I just know is going to happen.  But I don’t think even a sex abuse scandal will cause these people to reconsider what they are doing to kids.  They’re on a mission from God, and God is never wrong. 

People already know there is a potential for abuse here.  This isn’t rocket science.  And yet nothing is done, and kids are still being shoveled into it.  Perhaps the reason for that is because the people involved in running these places Don’t Care.   Exodus is not about helping people out of homosexuality…it is about fighting against gay civil rights.  It’s about enforcing the pariah status of homosexual people.  That is what Exodus is about.  You may disagree, but that’s the only scenario where this behavior, this practical if not rhetorical indifference to the welfare of the kids in it, Makes.  Any.  Sense. 

You think that any sane parent, even one that was vehemently opposed to homosexuality (I know…I know…  It’s like being vehemently opposed to left-handedness…), would be disturbed to learn that their kids where being tossed into a mix of adults that included men who admitted to being sexual addicts and compulsives.  You’d think that even these parents would be appalled to learn that some of these "former" sexual compulsives were staff members themselves, who could at any time get their kid alone somewhere on campus for a little private counseling.  You’d think.

But then you watch these parents come and go in and out of Exodus "Love Won Out" conferences, you see them taking part in the larger anti-gay political agenda, and you listen to them mouth the same filthy lies about gay people we’ve all heard over and over thousands of times like a mantra of hate, and you realize that…yes…they probably wouldn’t care anyway.  For a lot of these parents, I am convinced, these ex-gay camps aren’t a last resort to changing their kid’s sexual orientation at all.  They’re punishment, pure and simple.  What the religious right likes to call "tough love" and what otherwise decent people call child abuse.  They want the kid to suffer, so they’ll never forget how much their own parents hate them for turning out to be faggots.  Not necessarily suffer actual physical sexual abuse…no.  Of course not.  But the environment they’re being tossed into is primed for just that kind of thing to happen.  It cannot be defused without gutting them of their mission, which is not to cure, but to enable the social and political abuse of these kids, and the adults they will grow into.  You cannot enable the one, without some degree of indifference for the other.  And it is of a piece with the indifference of the religious right to anti-gay violence in general.  Here is Randy Thomas of Exodus, in an ad campaign against hate crime laws:

Of course, yes, many parents, not vehement about homosexuality, are simply terrified into sending their kids into these camps.  They’re afraid for their kids, afraid because of the lies they’ve been taught by the religious right about homosexuals and homosexuality, afraid for their immortal souls.  The last thing in the world these parents want is for their kid to be sexually abused while in one of these things.  They trust in the people who run these camps, being righteous men and women of God.  But the horrible nature of these places is that sexual abuse is in fact, what these places do.  It is what they are meant to do. 

We know instinctively that sexual abuse isn’t simply a matter of the physical act alone.  It is a dagger plunged into their heart of the one who suffers it.  We know this.  And yet, we loose sight of it when it comes to what the ex-gay ministries do.  We think of the child abuser as a monster, acting in pure selfish contempt and greed.  We picture them as evil, vicious, brutal thugs.  But greed has many faces.  Consider for a moment instead, the victim.  What do we often see in the victims of sexual abuse, and in particular, in the kids who have suffered it.  Withdrawal.  Guilt.  Shame.  Alienation.  Self destructiveness.  Guilt.  Shame.  A fear of sex and sexual intimacy that can work against any intimate human relationship they might attempt throughout their lives.  Shame.  Guilt.  Shame.  Shame.  And shame.  And what do we see in gay kids who have been taught to fear and loath their sexuality?  Exactly the same things. 

To methodically teach a gay kid to fear and loath their sexual nature is to do to them essentially what a rapist does to their victims, but without the physical act.  And worse: because the child molester is universally condemned in our society and in human societies all over the world, but the people running these camps are held in high esteem as doing the work of God.  For gay kids who internalize the message these camps do their damnest to put into them, there is no refuge from shame, not even the slightest comfort that what was done to them was a profound and unforgivable crime.  To the contrary, the sense that they were to blame for what happened to them, is brutally re-enforced by the culture around them, particularly if they come from fundamentalist families.

What kind of people do this?  Monsters?  Perhaps.  But not necessarily.  There is hate, and there is greed.  Sometimes they dance together.  Sometimes they dance alone.   Sometimes greed wears a face that seems compassionate and loving, until you realize that it’s the face of a vampire.  There is love that is selfless and giving, and rejoices in the happiness of the beloved.  And there is that greed that is selfish and needy and possessive and wears love like a mask, to hide a bottomless indifference to the damage it does.

Peterson has been trying hard to raise awareness of the potential for something worse then what he’s already discovered happening in these camps, and he’s made little headway judging from his post.  He would greatly disagree with me on this I’m sure, but the problem as I see it is they’d have to care first, and you can’t care about what happens to kids physically without caring about what happens to them spiritually too.  And the problem with that is it raises too many uncomfortable questions.  Questions that call into doubt the very existance of these camps.  Better not to ask them.

This is all of a piece.  Note that none of these places keep any follow-up statistics on their "clients".  As Wayne Besen found out while investigating them for his book, Anything But Straight, they can’t tell you their success rate because they don’t know it themselves.  They don’t know how many of their "clients" stay heterosexual.  They don’t know how the bond between parent and child does after a kid is run through their "program".  They don’t know anything at all about the sexual, let alone the emotional health of their "clients" one, two, three years or more after they’ve been in the "program".  They don’t want to know.  The anecdotal evidence after all, is bad enough.  I’ve heard the stories first-hand, from kids who have lived it.  And the recurring theme through all of it is that none of these places seemed to give a good goddamn what happened to them after they’d gone through their "program".

This isn’t rocket science.  Following up should not only be easy, but for people who are acting out of love for the kids it should be imperative.  They should be critically intent on knowing how well they are doing their job.  Are the kids better for having been though the program, or not?  Are we doing anything wrong?  Could we do better?  Yet, they don’t want to know.   

This blindness to the sexual safety of the kids in their custody is telling, in precisely the same vein.  You need to pay attention to this.  The great crimes against humanity don’t happen because of people who shake their fists at God and hoist the Jolly Roger.  They happen, because of indifference to the humanity of their victims.  Elie Wiesel, who survived the extermination camps of the thousand year Reich, captures it perfectly here:

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.  The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.  The claim of the ex-gay camps is that they do what they do to kids out of love.  To that, Peterson Toscano says taking steps to protect young people from abuse while in these camps is not only good business, but shows a genuine love for them.  But there’s the problem.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Who Will Save The Kids From Their Saviors?

January 12th, 2007

Naive At Best

Sides call for civility in gay marriage debate

Arline Isaacson of the Massachusetts Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus, said she believes political opponents such as Mineau are acting in good faith. But she said any campaign against gay marriage inevitably draws virulently anti-gay activists from out of state who will say hateful and destructive things. Groups such as Mineau’s have to take responsibility for that, she said.

"It’s naive at best to think it won’t happen," Isaacson said.

Are you nuts?  Those people are about as much good faith as a used car dealer selling models pulled from last year’s flood.  This guy has it Exactly right:

Tom Lang of Know Thy, a sponsor of the vigil, said he’s skeptical of calls for civility in the debate because gay marriage opponents aren’t honest about the real reason they oppose gay marriage: "They don’t like gay people."

"The dialogue can’t exist unless they’re honest and they come clean about how they really feel about gay people," he said. "We’d like them to just admit it."

But of course…they won’t.

Mineau said his group isn’t against gay people, but rather for promoting the man-woman model of marriage as the best way for society to raise children.

"That’s what we should all be esteeming for," he said. "We shouldn’t try to deconstruct it."

Well let’s deconstruct you instead asshole.  The man-woman model of marriage is the best, because homosexual relationships are inferior to heterosexual ones.  We should all be esteeming for it because homosexuality is a choice and a bad one at that since it’s inferior to heterosexuality.  And since the man-woman model is the best and a homosexual one inferior, that means that homosexual households damage the children in them.  And since homosexuality is a choice that means that gay people are deliberately choosing to do damage to children.   That is what you managed to say in just two short sentences.  But without actually saying it outright, of course.  And you’re not against gay people. 

Good faith.  Good faith.  Any more of this good faith and the churches up there might as well start selling flood cars.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Naive At Best

But…Your Honor…He Was A Queer…

Self defense…

Marine Ordered To Stand Trial In Gay Murder

A San Diego judge has ruled there is enough evidence against a U.S. Marine for him to stand trial for murder with a hate crime enhancement in the slaying of a gay man in 2006.


Following his arrest, Hardy told San Diego police homicide detectives that he passed out at Catolico’s apartment and later awoke later to find Catolico trying to sexually assault him. 

According to Hardy he felt violated and that “one thing led to another and I ended up choking him.”

One thing led to another…

Hardy’s attorney told the court that the murder was not a hate crime – but rather self defense – and that [the district attorny] had not established that Catolico’s sexuality had anything to do with the killing.

But, [the district attorny] countered that Hardy knew full well that Catolico was gay and had agreed to share his bed.  

"He had time to think about it, and he formed a plan in his mind for the victim to lay on his stomach, and that’s when he decided to choke him out"…

[the district attorny] also told the court that following the murder Hardy went out for fast food, and then brought it back to the apartment and ate it while playing video games on Catolico’s computer.

Presumably with the corpse of the man he claimed had sexually assaulted him still in the bedroom.  How does any sane person look at his, and believe that there was an assault to begin with?  But you see this kind of thing over and over again in gay panic defenses. 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

January 11th, 2007

We Want A Dialog About Cutting Off Your Ring Finger That Brings Us All Together

Via Pam’s House Blend…  The Massachusetts bigots would like the process of taking the right to marry away from us to be a dignified one

MFI and – the ballot question committee seeking to advance the Massachusetts marriage amendment – has endeavored to advance a campaign that refrains from name calling and does not denigrate individuals. However, as many political pundits predict, the same sex marriage debate, much like the abortion debate, will be with us for decades and MFI sees a need and an opportunity to work with leaders on all sides to promote justice in the way we discuss our differences.

"The tone and rhetoric around this public policy issue has escalated to a frenzied level, too often with shouting that does nothing promote understanding. Denouncing individuals as bigots does not bring people with honest differences together. We would like to work with our opponents to raise the quality of the dialogue," said Kris Mineau, president, Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesman,

…Even as this initiative beings to take shape, MFI and will continue to urge supporters of the marriage amendment to be respectful of human differences and always maintain a dialogue that affirms the dignity of every person.

You know how this works…right?  We stop calling them bigots, and they get to keep calling us AIDS spreading child molesting family destroying abominations in the eyes of God. 

Honest differences?  There is nothing honest about these people.  Nothing.  And especially nothing honest about their calls for mutual respect and civility.  Every time you hear something like this coming out of an anti-gay hate machine, you know they’re talking to the heterosexual majority, not the gay people they’re busy bashing.  They didn’t place that press release in the local gay papers.  This call for mutual respect wasn’t addressed to the gay people they’re trying to take the right to marry away from. This is window dressing for the big vote in a couple years.  They need to convince just enough voters that voting to take away their neighbor’s right to marry doesn’t mean they’re jumping in bed with bigots.  That’s what this is about.  Nothing else. 

Picture a bunch of white racists pleading with black Americans for mutual respect while arguing for segregated schools and neighborhoods.  Picture a bunch of antisemites insisting they want a dialog about the Nuremberg laws that affirms the dignity of every person.  It’s to laugh. 


by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

Thought Junior Would Listen To Reason Did You?

The break happened not long after a boozy election-night wake for Blount, who lost his Senate bid to the incumbent Democrat, John Sparkman. Leaving the election-night "celebration," Allison remembers encountering George W. Bush in the parking lot, urinating on a car, and hearing later about how he’d yelled obscenities at police officers that night. Bush left a house he’d rented in Montgomery trashed — the furniture broken, walls damaged and a chandelier destroyed, the Birmingham News reported in February. "He was just a rich kid who had no respect for other people’s possessions," Mary Smith, a member of the family who rented the house, told the newspaper, adding that a bill sent to Bush for repairs was never paid. And a month later, in December, during a visit to his parents’ home in Washington, Bush drunkenly challenged his father to go "mano a mano," as has often been reported.

Around the same time, for the 1972 Christmas holiday, the Allisons met up with the Bushes on vacation in Hobe Sound, Fla. Tension was still evident between Bush and his parents. Linda was a passenger in a car driven by Barbara Bush as they headed to lunch at the local beach club. Bush, who was 26 years old, got on a bicycle and rode in front of the car in a slow, serpentine manner, forcing his mother to crawl along. "He rode so slowly that he kept having to put his foot down to get his balance, and he kept in a weaving pattern so we couldn’t get past," Allison recalled. "He was obviously furious with his mother about something, and she was furious at him, too

Mary Jacoby, Salon.Com George W. Bush’s missing year  

They put a whining rich man’s brat, full of self pity and a grandiose sense of his own entitlement into the White House.  They picked him because they knew he appealed to a large swath of their base: small minded bigots also full of self pity and a grandiose sense of their own entitlement.  Then, to their growing apprehension, he put his hands on the levers of the most powerful economy and military in the world and proceeded to act like a whining rich man’s brat, full of self pity and a grandiose sense of his own entitlement.  Did they think he would stop now that he’s left a staggering trail of wreckage and lost American lives in his path?  You don’t understand.  The man who couldn’t even bring himself to say the words "shame on me" while reciting the old proverb, "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" is not to blame.  It’s never his fault.  Nothing is ever his fault…

Nine days after Zelikow’s resignation the Iraq Study Group report was released. Informed correspondents of the Washington Post and New York Times related in conversation that Bush furiously called the report "a flaming turd," but his colorful remark was not published. Perhaps it was apocryphal. Nonetheless, it conveyed the intensity of his hostile rejection. Still, Scowcroft and Baker, like Vladimir and Estragon in "Waiting for Godot," waited for Rice.


The president had become enraged at the presumption of the Baker-Hamilton Commission even before its members gave him their report.

Sidney Blumenthal, Salon.Com, Shuttle without diplomacy

Rice was supposed to be the one to get Junior to see reality.  But it seems she’s sized him up a tad better then the Wise Old Men of Washington.  He’s going to do what he damn well pleases, and throughout his life everyone who has ever known him knows this one fact above all else: you’re either with him or against him.  Loyalty to junior doesn’t mean you tell him what he doesn’t want to hear when he needs to hear it anyway.  It means you flatter him, agree with everything he says and does, and most of all, take the blame for him when he makes a mess of things.  Rice probably figured, correctly, that siding with the Wise Old Men of Washington now would incure junior’s wrath.  Junior does not tolerate disloyalty.

Rice, who had fallen into radio silence, canceling a scheduled speech on "transformational diplomacy," finally intervened. When the U.S. military commanders in Iraq and U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad protested against a rush by the Iraqi government to hang Saddam Hussein, Rice overrode their objections and gave the signal to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to proceed.

Maliki’s management and subsequent defense of the gruesome circus surrounding Saddam’s execution disabused any illusion that he could act in the larger Iraqi national interest rather than as a political representative of Shiite sectarianism. He is to his marrow a creature of the Dawa Party, founded by Muqtada al-Sadr’s father, and his alliance with al-Sadr. While the intent of the surge is to revitalize the Maliki government, that government cannot and does not wish to be reformed. The problem is not merely that Maliki is a weak political leader, or that his political coalition wouldn’t permit it, or that his Iranian sponsors wouldn’t allow repudiation — all of which are indisputably true. The irreducible reason is that Maliki exists only to achieve Shiite control, and if he did not he would not exist. There is no other Maliki. Nor can Bush invent one.

But none of this matters.  What an escalation will do is give junior time to do what he has done all throughout his life, pass the problem onto someone else.  First there will be his troop buildup.  Then it has to be given time to work.  And by the time it’s staringly obvious to even a brick that it isn’t working, the next election cycle will be upon us.  Bush can claim that he’s left a structure in place that will lead to success in Iraq and bring peace to the middle east…if only the new administration follows it.  And then he’s out the door, and shed of the consequences.  The blame for loosing Iraq will belong to the next administration, to someone else.  At least, he can always say so.  And so can his loyal base.  Someone else is always to blame.  But that’s not what you should be paying attention to…

The Wise Old Men of Washington…the power brokers…the insiders…and their ass kissing media sycophants…the ones who cherry picked him to be the republican nominee in 2000.  The ones who figured he’d be their boy, appeal to the base, and usher in a permanent republican majority.  They thought he would take the escape hatch they built for him.  They thought he would take the chance they offered him to withdraw and save face.  They thought he would listen to them.  They really thought he would listen to them.


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Thought Junior Would Listen To Reason Did You?

Deja Vu All Over Again

The president goes on TV to shore up support for his plan to escalate the war.  But Americans generally want out of the war, which they now realize they were lied into getting involved in.  Meanwhile the president is threatening the countries that border our war zone for allowing weapons and fighters to filter across their borders.  It must be 1971 and we’re still in Viet Nam, yet somehow I seem a tad older then 17.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Deja Vu All Over Again

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