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Archive for January, 2007

January 4th, 2007

Tales From George Bush’s America…(continued)

Peter Wood wonders about why it is that liberals are so angry…

The Liberalitarian Dust-Up
The Angry Left rebukes a would-be friend.
By Peter Wood

When I discuss the Left’s embrace of New Anger with people across the political spectrum, two not very satisfactory explanations keep coming up. One is that the party that is out of power has more to gripe about. Yes, but that doesn’t explain why the Left gravitated to a form of anger that exacerbated its unpopularity. Nor, why the Right, in similar circumstances kept its New Anger aficionados on the margins.

The New Anger.  The left gravitiates to it.  Even though it makes them unpopular.  The right would never do such things…

The Democratic Party: A Vast Sleeper Cell
By Ann Coulter

Fortunately for liberals, the Iraqis executed Saddam Hussein the exact same week that former President Ford died, so it didn’t seem strange that Nancy Pelosi’s flag was at half-staff.

Civility.  Why are you liberals so angry?  Why can’t you be more civil?

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)


It’s Good To Be King…

It just never stops with him does it…

W pushes envelope on U.S. spying

President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans’ mail without a judge’s warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people’s mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.

Bush’s move came during the winter congressional recess and a year after his secret domestic electronic eavesdropping program was first revealed. It caught Capitol Hill by surprise.

"Despite the President’s statement that he may be able to circumvent a basic privacy protection, the new postal law continues to prohibit the government from snooping into people’s mail without a warrant," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the incoming House Government Reform Committee chairman, who co-sponsored the bill.

Experts said the new powers could be easily abused and used to vacuum up large amounts of mail.

"The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming," said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington.

"The danger is they’re reading Americans’ mail," she said.

"You have to be concerned," agreed a career senior U.S. official who reviewed the legal underpinnings of Bush’s claim. "It takes Executive Branch authority beyond anything we’ve ever known."

A top Senate Intelligence Committee aide promised, "It’s something we’re going to look into."

Well, so what?  You can’t impeach him unless the republicans go along with it and swear to God if Bush was caught with a pistol in his hands robbing a bank, they’d tell you that the president has the right to rob banks in the name of national security because 9-11 changed everything.

Good thing it’s not a democrat doing this or the news media would be having kittens right now.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on It’s Good To Be King…

January 3rd, 2007

Angry? Democrats? Now Whatever Gave You That Idea?

Via Digby, who you should read more often…  It seems Stanley Kurtz thinks democratic anger needs some explaining…

I doubt that even Barack Obama can save us from our anger now. That’s because the anger that lately pervades our politics is more than just an after effect of six years of Democratic setbacks (although the strikingly angry Democratic response to their six bad years does call for an explanation).

An explaination…did you say?  Well…how about this one…

You should go read the rest of Digby’s post.  Digby says of the Kurtz review that, "It’s fascinating because it once again illustrates the degree to which conservatives have absolutely no self-awareness", but I don’t think it’s a lack of self awareness so much as a lack of conscience.  When they kick people in the teeth, conservatives don’t see that as anything less then their god given right as superior beings.  The role of all the rest of us lesser beings is to just stand there and passively take it because…well…they have a god given right to dish it out to us and if we object, we’re the ones being mean.  To them.  And of course, if we decide to dish it right back then we are being positively uncivil.

Speaking of which…have you noticed how the word, "civility" has become some kind of watchword recently?  Civility.  Civility.  The news media has suddenly discovered that it is important for us to be civil.  Now that the democrats are back in power.  Goodness knows it wasn’t important when people like the lady in the photo above were in power.    Goodness knows it wasn’t important back when Rush Limbaugh was playing "It’s Raining Men" right after news broke that a New York Times reporter had committed suicide by jumping out an office window.  Goodness knows it wasn’t important when Ann Coulter said the only problem she has with Timothy McVeigh is that he didn’t go to the New York Times building.  Now that democrats are back in power, the news media that treated Limbaugh and Coulter like elder statesmen have suddenly discovered that incivility is a bad thing.  Gosh.

Digby reminds us about the little list of words the father of the new incivility, Newt Gingrich made for republicans to use every time they talked about democrats…

He became famous (with some help from his cohorts) for being a manipulative, vicious asshole and the lesson was well learned. He went on to create a lexicon of derision, used by Republicans everywhere, to describe Democrats and liberals. He called these words "contrast":

Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.

* abuse of power
* anti- (issue): flag, family, child, jobs
* betray
* bizarre
* bosses
* bureaucracy
* cheat
* coercion
* "compassion" is not enough
* collapse(ing)
* consequences
* corrupt
* corruption
* criminal rights
* crisis
* cynicism
* decay
* deeper
* destroy
* destructive
* devour
* disgrace
* endanger
* excuses
* failure (fail)
* greed
* hypocrisy
* ideological
* impose
* incompetent
* insecure
* insensitive
* intolerant
* liberal
* lie
* limit(s)
* machine
* mandate(s)
* obsolete
* pathetic
* patronage
* permissive attitude
* pessimistic
* punish (poor …)
* radical
* red tape
* self-serving
* selfish
* sensationalists
* shallow
* shame
* sick
* spend(ing)
* stagnation
* status quo
* steal
* taxes
* they/them
* threaten
* traitors
* unionized
* urgent (cy)
* waste

I realize it is churlish of us liberals to attempt to defend ourselves from this kind of bad faith and even worse for us to lose our Gary Cooper cool. But, you know, when you push people far enough and hard enough they start to fight for their survival. The level of vitriol and hate emanating from the right — and encouraged by Republicans leaders of all stripes — has been overwhelming. These past twelve years alone have been characterized by smears, toxic rhetoric, impeachments, abuse of power, stolen elections, power mad governance, corruption and ineptitude. So yes, we’re angry — but more importantly, we are fearful for our country.

Until Republicans admit what they have wrought and recognize that their trash talking and boot-to-the-throat mode of fetid politics are responsible for our state today, then for the good of the country, I hope the left remains angry and battles them back with everything they’ve got.

This is ugly, I admit. But the country just can’t take another couple of decades of Republican politics and Republican rule. We have to stop it — and it won’t be stopped if Democrats play nice.

No.  It won’t.  I say this over and over again but it’s true: we’re in a knife fight with these people.  You either fight back to win, or you just stand there and let them laugh in your face and kick your balls, because that’s just what they’ll do, and keep doing, even after you’ve curled up in the fetal position.  They don’t care.  They hate you.  They hate you with a passion that your gay and lesbian neighbors have seen first hand for decades now.  Digby’s right.  Until the republicans are held accountable for the past couple decades of vitriol and hate they’ve been spewing into the political well all that this newly discovered concern about the level of incivility amounts to, is just another way of keeping us passive while they get to keep kicking everyone they despise in the face.  It won’t stop until they’re held accountable.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Angry? Democrats? Now Whatever Gave You That Idea?


Luckily, A Former Constituent Of Goode’s Was Willing To Lend Him His Kor-Ran…

From today’s Washington Post

Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he’d take his oath of office on the Koran — especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.

Yet the holy book at tomorrow’s ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We’ve learned that the new congressman — in a savvy bit of political symbolism — will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

"He wanted to use a Koran that was special," said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress, who was contacted by the Minnesota Dem early in December. Dimunation, who grew up in Ellison’s 5th District, was happy to help.

Jefferson’s copy is an English translation by George Sale published in the 1750s; it survived the 1851 fire that destroyed most of Jefferson’s collection and has his customary initialing on the pages. This isn’t the first historic book used for swearing-in ceremonies — the Library has allowed VIPs to use rare Bibles for inaugurations and other special occasions.

Goode represents Jefferson’s birthplace, Albemarle County Virginia.  Though I’m sure they’d lend him one, you have to suppose a Jefferson Bible wouldn’t be good enough for Goode to put his hand on while taking an oath.  Or…maybe I have that backwards…

Thomas Jefferson believed that the ethical system of Jesus was the finest the world has ever seen. In compiling what has come to be called "The Jefferson Bible," he sought to separate those ethical teachings from the religious dogma and other supernatural elements that are intermixed in the account provided by the four Gospels. He presented these teachings, along with the essential events of the life of Jesus, in one continuous narrative.

This presentation of The Jefferson Bible offers the text as selected and arranged by Jefferson in two separate editions: one edition uses a revised King James Version of the biblical texts, corrected in accordance with the findings of modern scholarship; the second edition uses the original unrevised KJV. The actual verses of the Bible used for both editions are those chosen by Jefferson. Visitors should find the revised KJV text much easier to read and understand. Those seeking the precise English version Mr. Jefferson used when making his compilation can click on "Unrevised KJV text."

Kor-Ran…Kor-Ran…Kor-Ran… 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Luckily, A Former Constituent Of Goode’s Was Willing To Lend Him His Kor-Ran…


Jackass

He may be on the conservative movement’s shit list these days, but Andrew Sullivan is still its useful idiot…

I doubt whether Massachusetts will forgo the honor of being the first state to grant gay couples legal equality with their straight peers. But there’s one way to find out. Let’s debate and campaign. The national gay groups, whose record on marriage has been spotty at best, need to make this the first priority of the national movement. Winning a democratic vote on marriage is a huge opportunity – and well within our grasp. We have the arguments. We have the evidence. Now let’s have the vote.

We have the arguments do we?  Well…one argument we won’t have I guess is that no civilized nation puts the human rights of minorities up for popular vote.  Can someone tell me when reason ever made a dent in the mindset of bigots?  It wasn’t the voters who swept away the segregation laws in America, it was the hated Warren Court. 

The Conservative Soul is it?  Well of course.  Conservatives never were very big on the concept of liberty and justice for all were they…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Jackass


Message In A Bottle

I walked home this evening, still in the heat of anger after what Massachusetts did to its gay and lesbian citizens yesterday. I haven’t been this angry in a long time. Not since the Burger supreme court upheld the sodomy laws. Not since Anita Bryant convinced 4 out of 5 Dade County Floridians to repeal a law that gave their gay neighbors the simple right to hold down a job without fear of being fired, simply because they are gay. I walked home, strode past fellow pedestrians, crossed streets of traffic, angry, solitary. You know, you can actually taste anger. I hate being like this. You can almost feel the anger burning you up inside, burning the minutes off of your life, like ash off the end of a cigarette.

I got home, walked past my neglected bird feeders, opened the door and picked the mail off the floor where it ends up after the postman pushes it through the slot. I saw some bills, some credit card ads, and…a postcard. It was from you.

I don’t know if you even bother reading this blog or not…but, thanks.  Much thanks.  I’d just about forgotten in the past couple days that there is more to life then the things that make me angry.  Time isn’t the only true luxury in life.  Sometimes it feels like ease and peace of mind are luxuries too.  I wish I had said more to you back when we both had the luxury of time.  But I am grateful now for a card.  For a moment, life was good again.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Message In A Bottle


Yes, That Is Rather Odd Isn’t It?

Somebody finally sits up and takes notice!  Wonderful!  Over at Eschaton, echidne says that it is an odd juxtaposition that our new congress may well repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, at the same time Massachusetts takes the right to marry away from its gay and lesbian citizens.  "Equal for war but not for love?" She asks.  Good question.

In fact, it is precisely to prevent people from asking that question, that we are not allowed to serve.  Did you think that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was really about military readiness?  Have some second thoughts please.  It is because the sight of openly gay people fighting for, and dying for their country, would cause people to raise those kinds of questions that the bigots have been fighting so bitterly to prevent us from serving. 

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has nothing to do with national security.  It has nothing to do with close quarters contact on the battlefield and all the other shibboleths the religious right keeps raising.  It has exactly zero to do with troop moral.  It is about preventing gay equality.  It has always been about preventing gay equality.  Nothing else.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Yes, That Is Rather Odd Isn’t It?


Listen To The Silence

Charles Andersen was my friend
His clothes in our closet
Still smell like him
All these years we kept
Two bedrooms
The one we dusted
And the one we used
Guess we did that, for all of you

-Mark Weigle, All That Matters

Well the outrage among the progressive blogs at the Massachusetts statehouse capitulation to bigotry has just been overwhelming hasn’t it?  Or I suppose it would have been, if they hadn’t all been so busy being outraged about the stuff that really matters.  Good thing I have some links here to a few gay blogs or I might think no one on earth really gives a good goddamn about what happens to gay people in this country…

Kathy over at Pam’s House Blend has a good summary of what happened yesterday

Despite the high court’s ruling that all citizens, regardless of race, are guaranteed equal protection under the law, the legislature voted today to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would permit white voters to deny certain rights to the black citizens of the state of…

Um, wait.  What I meant to say was, the high court of the state of Massachusetts declared that every citizen, regardless of sexual orientation, has the right to marry.  And now the Massachusetts legislature has taken the first step to place a constitutional amendment banning any new gay marriages on the 2008 ballot.  Because, after all, it’s really important to let the majority rule on the rights of minorities.

If we’d only done that back before the civil rights movement, the citizens of Alabama would certainly have granted Rosa Parks a seat at the front of the bus without all those messy protests.  And "separate but equal" schools?  Why, they would have been voted down by an overwhelming majority in every state.  There was no need for those activists judges to rule in Brown v. Board of Education.

In Massachusetts a minority of homophobic bigots in the statehouse, and the cowards who at the last minute decided to look the other way, will now allow a simple majority of the voters who bother to vote the right to determine what basic human rights minorities in their state can or cannot have.  But never mind.  American progressives clearly have much more important things to worry about.  Hey…how about that Bush op-ed in the Wall Street Journal…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Listen To The Silence


Who? Me?

Ouch…

Programmers to blame for hard-to-use software

Platt, who has also written nine books for computer professionals, has a message for software developers: "Your. User. Is. Not. You."

People who write software programs value control. The user, on the other hand, just wants something that’s easy to operate.

To illustrate his point, he notes that computer programmers tend to prefer manual transmissions. But not even 15 percent of the cars sold in the United States last year had that feature.

I bought the Honda Accord over the Toyota Camry because Honda would sell me a nicely dressed up Accord with a stick, while Toyota would only sell me the economy version with a stick.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)


Bastards!

So they’re going to allow a vote on the anti-gay marriage amendment in Massachusetts.  I was worrying about this when I saw all the Boston newspapers start bloviating about how the legislature had a "responsibility" to let the vote happen, after the state supreme court ruled they couldn’t force the vote, and that they had a "duty" and so on.

Does anymore seriously believe that our enemies, if the positions had been reversed, wouldn’t have used precisely the same tactics to prevent a vote, if doing it would take away our right to marry?  Would they have fucking cared what the newspapers said?  We are in a knife fight with these people, and you win a knife fight by fighting to win, not by playing by a set of rules designed specifically to allow the enemy to keep taking swings at you while you just stand there with your hands behind your back.  You go into a fight with these people to win by any means necessary, or don’t bother fighting them because they’ll laugh in your face and kick your balls.  They’re dancing in Massachusetts now, because they can figure now that in a couple years they’ll be able to cut the ring fingers off the gays in their state.  And if you thought the religious right was triumphalist before, just wait until they can crow that they turned back sodomite marriage in Massachusetts. 

To the cowards who previously voted to adjourn rather then vote, and then switched sides yesterday, all I have to say to you is I hope your own marriages suffer the same fate as ours.  About half of heterosexual marriages fail anyway don’t they? Piss on your hopes, your dreams, and every moment of awestruck joy you ever felt as a couple. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Bastards!


Pot…Meet Kettle…

Via TPM Muckraker…

"[W]e are leaving ourselves vulnerable to infiltration by those who want to mold the United States into the image of their religion, rather than working within the Judeo-Christian principles that have made us a beacon for freedom-loving persons around the world."

Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), in an op-ed published in today’s USA Today, explaining why he believes the United States should refuse immigrants from the Middle East.

You may recall, this is the wanker who pitched a fit when congressman elect Keith Ellison announced he would take the oath of office in a ceremony using the Koran, instead of the Bible, and then went on to pitch a fit about Muslim immigrants pouring into the United States, and then went on to avow that he would never take the oath on the "Kor-Ran" (I watched him on a newscast…that’s how he keeps pronouncing it) and that he only wanted to "…draw attention to the need to acknowledge the Bible as the basis of America’s moral values. Judeo-Christian values are the greatest single protection against another Holocaust".  

Well Virgil…it’s really swell that you’re so busy defending American from people who want to mold it into the image of their religion.  Now…how about you go find yourself a mirror and tell it to the gutter crawling jackass you see in there.  Kor-Ran.  Kor-Ran.  Kor-Ran.  

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Pot…Meet Kettle…


Celebrate Diversity

Via Talking Points Memo…seems the republicans have a newfound interest in protecting the rights of minorities…

House Republicans, newly humble, are pushing for a Minority Bill of Rights.

A bill, of course, they wouldn’t even consider when they were in the majority.

There is something profoundly sickening about watching the party that made race baiting and fag bashing into political art forms bellyaching about minority rights.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Celebrate Diversity

January 2nd, 2007

Why I Am Grateful There Is An Internet

Simply put, I can get news and information of concern to the gay community that I could not before.  It isn’t merely that a lot of hate crime news never makes it beyond the local media.  It isn’t merely that the mainstream news media often chooses not to even report hate crimes against us.  It’s that more often then not you catch them actively downplaying it.  In effect, hiding it from view.

For example…

Six Shot At Chicago Gay Party

Chicago police are investigating the shooting of six men at a party in a house on Chicago’s South Side in what may have been a homophobic hate crime.

Police say two masked men burst into an apartment in the house early Sunday morning, spraying semi-automatic gunfire throughout the living room hitting six men. 

Residents in the area say the apartment was rented by two gay men and was the scene of frequent loud parties. One neighbor told the Chicago Sun-Times that the building was known as the "Gay House".

"We always be seeing them, and they always be looking at people," Kevin Carter, 18, told the paper. 

"They give you that gay look, like you’re a female or something. That ain’t cute. People be ready to fight. … I knew something was going to happen to that house."

A man who said his brother lives in the apartment told the paper that his brother had complained for several months about being harassed by people in the neighborhood for being gay.

That’s from the story at 365Gay.Com.  The gunmen didn’t use homophobic slurs, apparently didn’t say anything at all, just opened fire.  They wore masks, and there have been as I write this, no arrests.

But 365Gay.Com does not field their own reporters.  They mostly get their stories off the wire and serve as a news aggregate.  That story was based on the reporting from the Chicago Sun-Times.  So I went around looking for the story via Google News to see if there were any other takes on it.  This is typical of what I found:

Masked men shoot 6 at party

Six people were wounded, two of them critically, when masked gunmen opened fire early Sunday on a South Side party, authorities said.

About 100 people were at the party in the first-floor apartment of a two-story building in the 7900 block of South Woodlawn Avenue in the Grand Crossing neighborhood about 5:30 a.m. when two men–armed with semiautomatic handguns–kicked down the front door and starting shooting, said Chicago police spokeswoman Monique Bond.

"Because the gunmen who kicked in the door and opened fire were masked, we don’t have a good description," she said.

The men fled into a nearby gangway, Bond said. Detectives were still questioning witnesses and neighbors.

The victims were all men between the ages of 19 and 35, she said. None lived there.

Neighbors said residents of the apartment often held loud parties that lasted into the morning and that police had been called there several times recently. Bond confirmed that officers had been called to the apartment several times since October, including some calls for complaints of aggravated battery.

Outside the apartment Sunday, blood still stained the front steps, porch and door. .

"All I want is for my friends to be OK and healthy," said a man in his 20s who spoke from a window but declined to give his name.

A neighbor who lives in the unit above the apartment, who also declined to give her name because the gunmen were still at large, said the party was going full force when she fell asleep about 2:30 a.m. Then, about 5:30 a.m., she heard shots from directly below her and tumbled out of bed.

… 

She said the men who live there held raucous parties almost every weekend and many times on other nights of the week. Officers also had gone there several times responding to shouting and physical confrontations, she said.

"It’s not just on Friday or Saturday; the police have been here Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, when normal people have to work," the woman said.

Not a word, not a breath, about the fact that the victims were gay, and that the renters had been complaining about harassment from the neighbors.  The only neighbor quoted complained about the parties and the noise they made (the landlord, also quoted in that article, said he’d only had one complaint and that was when they held a party after they moved in and the upstairs neighbor complained).  This was from the Chicago Tribune.  Yet another reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times had no trouble getting neighbors of the men to state that they thought the attack was motivated by the men’s sexual orientation.  But that reporter, Mark Konkol, was apparently the only one at the scene who thought it was noteworthy.

And it was the Tribune’s take on the matter, that it was merely an attack on a loud party (and whoever heard of loud parties happening on New Year’s Eve), that made the wires.  The story came up on google news and I went through one after the other, from papers in California to the Jerusalem Post, and none of them breathed a word to me that the victims were gay men, that they’d previously complained of harassment by their neighbors, and that there was the slightest bit of hostility toward them in the neighborhood where they lived.  You saw none of that in the media reporting. 

I constructed a google search string using that quote from the kid who said that the men were giving people "that gay look, like you’re a female or something".  The only stories that popped up were from the online gay news organizations, and that one Chicago Sun-Times article.  That was it.

Now…maybe this shooting wasn’t motivated by anti-gay hate.  But there is at least a reasonable suspicion that it was.  In the days before the Internet, all I’d have seen of this, perhaps, would have been the sanitized version set out by the Tribune, and accepted by most of the rest of the heterosexual news editors around the country, and in my local neck of the woods, who all decided that the gay angle on it wasn’t worth printing.  Nobody outside of Chicago would ever have any inkling that there might be a hate crime here.  And so the gay community wouldn’t have had any reason to pay attention to it, to how well it was being investigated, to question what was going on in that neighborhood, and whether hate had once again turned into bloodshed.

I can well remember a time when violence toward homosexuals just didn’t matter to the police, let alone the press.  And we are not out of those woods as much as some would like to believe.  Between covering that aspect of it up because you believe they had it coming, and not reporting on it because you just don’t give a good goddamn about the faggots anyway and can’t imagine why any normal person would, anti-gay violence would still be swept under the rug, even today.  And even the most committed gay rights activists won’t make their voices heard, if they don’t even know what is happening.  Silence equals death.  What has made a difference now is the Internet.  We are not many small and isolated ghettos anymore.  The heterosexual majority can avert their eyes all they want, but now we can see what is happening to us as a people in this country.  We can’t make the rest of the world pay attention too, if we ourselves don’t even know what is going on.  That is why for so many decades, we believed it when they told us we had it coming.  We endured the violence in silence and shame.  Those days are over.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why I Am Grateful There Is An Internet

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