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December 20th, 2017

“A Generation Of Sociopaths”…And Other Lazy Ignorant Stereotypes…

I was raised, as I’ve said often, by a single divorced mother. I’m not relating this to wear it like a badge, but offering it as explanation. The attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors we express in our everyday lives may well have their biological roots…as in for example the fact that I’m gay…but they’re almost certainly flavored by our life experiences. Different metals behave differently in the fire, but still the fire changes us.

It makes throwing labels around at people problematic. I understand the human need to identify, categorize, sort, put a name on things the better to understand them. But what you must always keep in mind, what Jacob Bronowski clarified for me in his Science and Human Values essays, is the concepts by which we understand nature are always imprecise and imperfect. You have to treat them with humility. What is a planet?

By this stage of my life I suppose I should be used to having labels slapped on me, and all the baggage that comes with them. In grade school I got the problem child label simply for being raised in a “broken home”. Among various family members I was granted the label of being my father’s son, and dad having died robbing a bank that label came with its own lovely baggage set. My maternal grandmother’s favorite name for me (when mom couldn’t hear it) was Stinking Rotten Good For Nothing Garrett Just Like Your Pap…not exactly something that’ll fit on checks or credit cards.

For being a slight somewhat girlish kid in grade school I received a variety of labels. Mom and I lived a very low budget life…another set of labels. In my senior year I came out to myself and earned the gay label, and all the ancillary labels that came with it that Facebook would probably censor if I posted them here. Ever since I can remember I’ve had the urge, the need, to express myself in various forms of art and Artist is the only label I’d willingly apply to myself except it feels so damn pretentious. But there are others: Cartoonist, Painter, Photographer. Sometimes I wear one of those. I took up building my own computers and programming them…another set of labels. I read a lot. I pay attention to political events. I like to travel. I like to explore. Nerd. Geek. Tourist. Wonk. I’m in my 60s. There’s geezer. Old man. Computers have allowed me to suddenly, late in my life, earn a good income. There’s Yuppy. I drive a Mercedes-Benz. There’s Bourgeois. It’s a diesel. There’s nerd again. I should be used to it by now. But it’s not the labels, it’s the baggage that comes with them. You want me to stick the Ignorant label on you, apply a label to me and then expect me to wear the baggage that comes with it. Especially this one: Boomer.

I used to wear it without too much discomfort. That nerd label…I saw it as merely a statistical description. I was born in 1953, therefor I am part of the post war baby boom, therefor I am a boomer. My generation was the reason so many new schools had to be built. So far, so good. But where once I was a trailing edge boomer, benefiting from the struggles of the older kids ahead of me that allowed me to wear blue jeans and long hair in school, suddenly one day I realized I was being lumped in with kids born in the 60s as though we all had the same culture, the same life experiences. Boomer. Never mind the political baggage. Anyone with half a brain who walks through life with their eyes wide open and their mind still curious cannot help but see how generational labels are as superficial and misleading as any other. There’s a history here that separates us Kennedy era boomers from the Reagan era ones, and I can sum it up with the name of a country: Viet Nam.

Some years ago I’m quietly standing at the balcony rail of the outdoor smoker’s lounge of one of D.C.’s gay bars, puffing on one a mini-cigar. A cute young guy walks over to me and gives me a look…

Me: Hi.

He: Are you a throwback?

Me: Sorry?

He: You lived through the sixties?  You know…the hippies and that stuff…?

Me: Yeah…but I wasn’t a Hippy.  There were a lot of different things going on back then.  Most of us were just along for the ride.

He: I know…I’ve read all the books.

Me: Throwback?

He: You know…from back then…

Me: I don’t understand your use of the term.

He: You’re about my mother’s age…

Well I hope “all the books” weren’t published by the same people who make biology textbooks for Liberty University.

Perhaps Ezra Klein and Sean Illing read the same ones. Klein this morning retweeted gleefully this Vox article: “How the baby boomers — not millennials — screwed America” Subtitled: “The boomers inherited a rich, dynamic country and have gradually bankrupted it.”

So I go to look and right there at the top of the page is…Oh Goodness There They Are…

Screen cap of Klein’s tweet…this is the photo that leads the article

…The Dirty F*cking Hippies “…dancing during an anti-war demonstration staged by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam at Golden Gate Park’s Kezar Stadium on April 15, 1967.” I’ll just bet they’re all smoking acid too. You two have read all the books…right? I haven’t seen such lazy cheapshit stereotyping since the last time I read an article on The Federalist about Teh Gay.

Illing’s article promotes A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce Gibney. “The boomers, according to Gibney, have committed “generational plunder,” pillaging the nation’s economy, repeatedly cutting their own taxes, financing two wars with deficits, ignoring climate change, presiding over the death of America’s manufacturing core, and leaving future generations to clean up the mess they created.”

The boomers. The boomers. The boomers. I was raised by a divorced single working mother. My dad died trying to rob a bank. I grew up in a series of small apartments, wearing mostly second-hand clothes and going to public school, where in the 1960s, because I was the product of a “broken home” I was treated like a problem child even though I was pretty well behaved. That didn’t change until high school. I was the first male in dad’s side of the family to finish grade school and get a diploma. I did three semesters of community college and then had to go to work to support mom and me. For most of my life I had no idea how I was going to earn a living and resigned myself to a low income life lived in rooms rented in other people’s houses. Before I started earning a good living as a software developer I had no car, and no prospects. Seen from within, the life I am living now seems an absolute miracle to me. And I look at what the republicans and their billionaire money teats are doing to All Of Us let alone the next generation with a dull horror, Because I Led That Life, I can imagine perfectly well what it could easily have become had I not had the lucky break that allowed me to escape it, and I don’t want it happening to Anyone Else.

But no…I’m a boomer. And a Dirty F*cking Hippy. Who was doing Manpower temp jobs and living with mom when I was the age Klein and Illing are now, and I am a sociopath who doesn’t care who he’s screwing out of a future.

Whatever. If playing Wall Street’s game of Blame The Other Guy We’re Screwing Too works for Vox, Klein, Illing et. al. then fine. Enjoy the cheap thrills of the blame game while I watch people who wish to bury the past, and people who’ve read all the books, keep on grimly repeating it. And…pay attention now…I don’t particularly care if people who don’t know me from Adam hate me for being something I can’t help being. I was fine with that even before I knew that I am gay. I learned how not to give a flying f*ck about that even before my grade school teachers told me I was a problem child because my mother was divorced. I learned how not to care long before all that, while being hated, or at best patronized, by members of my own family for being my father’s son. And I will not wear your goddamned labels, and I will not carry your goddamned baggage. Go to hell.


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on “A Generation Of Sociopaths”…And Other Lazy Ignorant Stereotypes…

December 11th, 2016

No More Excuses

If you vote for the racist because you think he’s better for your wallet, how is that not racism? If you vote for the sexual predator because you think he’s better for your wallet, how is that not enabling sexual predators? If you vote for the hate monger because you think he’s better for your wallet, how is that not enabling hate?

This is what pushes my button whenever I see otherwise decent people trying to excuse the election of Donald Trump on the basis of voter economic insecurity. For one thing, he didn’t win the popular vote, and that by a non-trivial margin. For another, he won the electoral vote by, so I’m told, a majority you could have fit inside Chicago Stadium. So it isn’t like an army of the economically disenfranchised suddenly decided to vote republican. Time and again we’ve read polls showing that Trump’s support was largely a middle and upward economic base. It wasn’t economics.

But even if it was, there’s still the man. There is unambiguously still the man. If you vote for the racist because you think he’s better for your wallet, how is that not racism? Bambi eyes and I’m not a racist because I never personally lynched a black man doesn’t get you out of that gutter, if you’re willing to enable the racism that gets black men killed, as long as it doesn’t get you killed too. But how certain are you that it won’t? The predator does not play favorites. We are all prey.

My frustration…let me tell you about it. Back in 1980 Jimmy Carter was running for reelection against Ronald Reagan…another vacant tool…who liked talking about welfare queens. Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign with a speech about states rights just a few miles from where three civil rights workers were murdered by klansmen for helping black people register to vote. Carter called him out on the racist dog whistle and our feckless news media had kittens, slamming Carter as though he’d committed some below the belt personal foul against Reagan, and never mind that a halfwit could have seen what Reagan was doing there. But the myth of the liberal news media dies hard. By then in the elevated testosterone atmosphere of the newsrooms they’d taking a loathing to Carter as a weak kneed wuss, and admired Reagan’s manly pose and they eviscerated Carter, and Reagan, not initially seen as beating Carter, won in a landslide.

If they’d called Reagan out on his racist dog whistling maybe we’d have a different America now. But the pattern held. Whenever a democrat called out republican racist dog whistling for the next eight shining city on a hill years they were summarily slammed by the establishment news media. But in 1981 Lee Atwater, who was working in Reagan’s White House at the time, admitted they were doing just what Carter and the democrats said they were

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’’”that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.’¦ ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.’”

My frustration: dig it…in 1981 Atwater laid it all on the table…yes, we’re actually doing all that…And For The Next Several Decades our feckless rotting zombie corpse establishment news media kept treating the calling out of republican racist dog whistling as some sort of dirty politics, not the dog whistling itself.

And now we have a dangerous hate monger just days away from having his finger on the national security infrastructure, let alone the nuclear button And they’re still insisting everyone look the other way at republican hate mongering. Trump won because he spoke to the forgotten workers of America. Kindly ignore the firehose of raw bigoted hate he sprayed everywhere he campaigned.

For decades…arguably in fact ever since the Civil War…this country has not been able to have an honest conversation about race hatred, let alone the rest of it bubbling and churning down in the American gutter. We still can’t. Oh yes, we the hated Other talk about it. We try to get the attention of the popular culture to look at it. Every now and then we succeed…for a time. Matthew Shepard. Proposition 8. Pulse. But then the spotlight wanders off, and hate resumes its attacks on our lives out of sight, out of mind.

Now we are on the threshold of seeing that willful blindness end the American Experiment. And I have no patience at all…none…for people who want us to keep making excuses for the elephant in the room. The time for fucking around is fucking over. It was fucking over when Ronald Reagan walked into the White House on the graves of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.

I repeat, If you vote for the racist because you think he’s better for your wallet, how is that not racism? Trump played a bigoted game. He spoke directly, unambiguously, to the hate that’s never been far from the surface of American politics. And that is how he won. Barely. We will never save the American dream, if that’s even possible now, by trying to find some way not to have to deal with that fact.

At long last, can we, finally, deal with the fact of hate in America? Or do we just shrug our shoulders, reassure ourselves that haters will just keep hating, that we have to work around it…somehow…and dream of what might have been, while the fire next time burns it all down.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No More Excuses

September 11th, 2016

Basket Of Deplorables

If I were to do a political cartoon today about a basket of deplorables, I would draw a basket and instead of putting the usual Trump supporters and right wing kooks into it, I would put a bunch of TV and Big Media logos into it. There’s your basket of deplorables.

You have to appreciate growing up in the 60s as I did, living through the great civil rights moments as a kid, coming of age politically in the early 70s, how the current media indignation at Mrs. Clinton’s calling out Trump’s racist supporters is a big reason why we still have a problem in this country with racism. As Nixon expertly calculated, cultivating the racist vote via calculated dog whistles is an easy way to harvest votes from a certain voting population that carries little to no political risk. And that is because of ostentatious media indignation whenever democrats call out these republican dog whistles.

I’ve watched it through the decades. Carter called Reagan out on starting campaign in the place where three young civil rights workers were killed by the Klan, with a speech on “state’s rights”. The media got all up in arms about it, as though Carter had committed some unforgivably rude libel against his opponent. But anyone with half a brain could see what Reagan was doing there. The dog whistles could have stopped right then and there if the media had jumped on Reagan instead, but they loathed Carter, hated the democrats, and so Reagan got a pass to continue with it. Which he did, and which the republicans have been perfecting now for decades. It’s been the song and dance ever since: calling out republican winks and nods to the American gutter is out of bounds according to the dictators of what is and is not civil political discourse.

Now we have Trump, who isn’t even bothering to dog whistle to the bigots. And media Still plays indignant when it’s called out. Meanwhile black Americans are still being held down, their lives cheapened, by systematic racism, and the media pays no attention until riots happen. And then they blame “both sides” for not finding solutions, as if both sides were equally to blame.

But both sides are not equally to blame. And the big corporate news media, by pushing back whenever democrats call out GOP racist dog whistles, have bought themselves a share in that blame. When the terms of “civil discourse” redline any discussion of how politicians cultivate the racist vote, it allows racism to stay alive and well politically in the Land of The Free And The Home of The Brave.

Is that because the boardrooms of the big American corporations are largely racist themselves?  I doubt it, but they like republican economic policies better than the democrat’s, and in the rarefied heights of Valhalla they see no reason to make such a big deal out of racism in America.  Especially if that discussion costs them friendly republicans in congress. Black Lives Matter? Oh mon dieu…Our Profits Matter!!

So I have a question for all the CEOs and VPs and Whomever It May Concern at the heads of these big media conglomerates who’ve been dictating the terms of polite political discourse for the past several decades, ever since Reagan found political deliverance in the heart of the old Confederacy. See that man at the head of the Republican ticket? You put him there. You put a piss ignorant bellicose narcissistic lout within arm’s reach of the nuclear button. Don’t be blaming the Tea Party or the Republican Base…you deliberately gave the race hatred that festered down there space to grow and gain power within the party. You not only turned the light off, you made turning it back on a political offense. Now look at what you accomplished. Does it bother you? Does it frighten you? Tell me…tell us all…how far down into the gutter are you willing to drive this country, for your bottom line? For your tax cuts? For your deregulation? For your gig economy where workers have no rights a boss is bound to respect?

How far into the gutter?  How far down is rich enough for you?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Basket Of Deplorables

September 24th, 2014

Karma Is A Bezos

@paulconstant: “Remember that brief moment when people thought he’d save newspapers? RT @aaronbrethorst: Real classy, Jeff. “

SLOG writer Paul Constant tweeted that the other day, along with this link…

Washington Post announces cuts to employees’ retirement benefits

The changes will hit hardest at employees hired before 2009 who could plan on receiving pension payments based on their income and years of service. Each of those employees could see scores — or hundreds — of thousands of dollars less over the course of a retirement. More recent hires do not have traditional pension plans.

The Post’s pension fund is running a surplus. Jeff Bezos, the new owner, is cutting benefits so he can raid it. I don’t know why anyone should be surprised. Just take a look at how he treats his Amazon workers. Or better still, listen to the workers on the picket lines in Europe, where American billionaires haven’t yet managed to succeed in strangling people’s sense of self worth and pride in their jobs…

wokers not robots

No you’re not. You’re Jeff Bezos’ lunch and your future is his dessert. Bezos is classic predatory rich, pure and simple.  And naturally he calls himself a libertarian, which is how the rich assure themselves that with great power comes no responsibility whatsoever. Greed is good. Selfishness is a Virtue. Eat or be eaten.

So here’s another example of the rich raiding the pension funds of working people, perhaps a more blatant one than most but then hey, Bezos is a libertarian after all and they have a moral code that says it isn’t you stealing from your employees it’s the invisible hand of the marketplace and if they would only stop being so lazy they could be billionaires too. All those city employee union pensions that have gone bankrupt over the years we’ve been told, made unrealistic promises they couldn’t keep and all those elderly workers will just have to learn to like eating cat food. But look closer and what you see are a lot of tax breaks to rich people and businesses that cities and counties could not afford, and so pension plans were raided to make up the difference, until there wasn’t any left to raid. For decades now a lot of worker retirement money has essentially gone straight into the pockets of the rich who couldn’t need it less but for whom more is never enough.

Which brings us back to The Washington Post, which has been tilting more and more to the republican party and the right ever since Reagan.  There is some degree of poetic karma going on here I can’t help but appreciate with delight. You get into bed with vampires, don’t complain when you wake up one day with holes in your neck.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Karma Is A Bezos

August 18th, 2012

Pissing On Edward R. Murrow’s Grave…(continued)

Via friend and fellow Truth Wins Out Blogger Michael Airhart I get this link to John Aravosis going on a righteous tear as to why the Family Research Council isn’t merely a pious group of conservative christians who just happen to disagree with same-sex marriage but is, in fact, an organization of calculating hate mongers who will shrink from no lie they think they can get away with. And thanks to useful tools like The Washington Post and Dana Milbank they can get away with a lot of them.

Why the Family Research Council is a hate group

At one point, I had the Congressional Research Service send me a copy of every single document the Family Research Council had written about gays, and then I had CRS get me every single document listed in the FRC doc’s footnotes. I.e., all the “original sources” for the Family Research Council’s anti-gay claims.

And there were a lot of them.  At the time, FRC’s list of footnotes could be nearly as long as the written part of the document itself.

What did I find when I went through the original sources cited in the footnotes?  I found that nearly every single footnote was a lie.  Not a lie in the conventional sense – meaning, they didn’t make up a source that didn’t exist.  Rather, they did things like quoting a damning opinion from a judge in a court case without mention that the judge was in the minority, that the gays had actually won the case they were citing.

Or they’d quote a study with a hideous conclusion about gays and lesbians, only for you to realize later that the actual quote in the study was rather benign – instead, FRC “forgot” to put and end-quotation mark on the quote, added an ellipse, and then put their own damning conclusion.  Let me give you a made-up example of a quote about gays to who you how the family research council did this.

“This study looked at 45 gay men, and 35 lesbians.  It was clear from the subjects that gay men and lesbians face greater societal pressures in their day to day lives… which makes gays and lesbians much more likely to rip the heads off small bunnies.

Wow, rip the heads off small bunnies – that’s pretty bad.  But hey, it’s a real study in a real journal, so it has to be true.  Except of course that the real quote from the actual study ends at the ellipse, while the FRC added its own opinion after the ellipse, while “forgetting” to put the end quote, so it looks like the FRC’s opinion is part of the official quote from the reputable study.

Gosh, I wonder how that happened?

It went on and on like this, through hundreds of footnotes.  I went through the original research of the various studies they cited and found that the study reached no such conclusion like the FRC claimed it did.  And on and on and on.

These are not honest people simply expressing a contrarian view of politics, like Democrats and Republicans do every day in Washington.

Tony Perkins, FRC’s head, got on TV a few months ago to debate whether gay parents were as good as straight parents.  Perkins said “no,” and he had the study to prove it.  Perkins explained how studies have proven that kids need a mom and a dad.  What Perkins didn’t bother telling you was that those studies compared kids with a mom and a dad to kids with a single parent.  The studies never looked at the relative merits of gay parents.  Gay parents might have been just as good, or heck, even better than straight parents.  The study didn’t even look at it.  But Perkins cited the study as proof that straight parents were better than gay parents, when the study had nothing to do with it.

And again, Dana, if you actually go through the FRC’s “research,” you will find this kind of “mistake” happening again and again.  It happens so often, it’s happened for twenty years now that I’ve been tracking them, that you come to realize that lying for the Family Research Council isn’t a flaw, it’s a feature.

There’s more…you should read it.  That the beltway media has a habit of looking the other way at conservative hate groups so long as their talking heads dress nicely and refrain from wearing hoods, never gets any less repulsive no matter how often you see it.  But it stopped long ago being just a problem for the gay community.  This endemic disdain for what used to be journalism’s basic function, to get the facts, get them right and get them out to the public, is a big reason why one of our two major parties has walked off the crazy cliff, and now threatens to take the United States of America with it.

As your gay neighbors have watched the fanatics in the course of waging their scorched earth culture war shove any pretense of honor, reason and morality from their way, so we have watched one news organization after another, one journalist after another, tuck their tails between their legs and run, run away from democracy’s front lines.  Speaking truth to fanaticism, let alone to power, will never get you the big bucks.  When calling a fact a fact and a lie a lie means raising the ire of the rich and powerful, or perhaps one or more of their batshit crazy friends, it’s safer on the paycheck to just stick to stenography.  There are two sides to every story, but never a factual side to any story.  Print the controversy, pass along the press releases and hit the bar at days end.  It’s only a job.  Remember how, in the aftermath of the Proposition 8 trial, so many mainstream journalmalists were shocked, shocked, to discover there was so little substance to the opposition to same-sex marriage? What did we know…it’s not like our job is digging up and reporting the facts or anything…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Pissing On Edward R. Murrow’s Grave…(continued)

June 18th, 2012

So Who’s The Bigger Creep Will…The One Who Writes Hate Propaganda Or The One Who Writes Excuses For It?

Over at The American Prospect, E. J. Graff asks…

Why is William Saletan Apologizing for Slate’s Mistake?

Regnerus knows what he did. He set up a study that would make it seem that anyone who ever slept with someone of the same sex hurts their children by doing so. Instability is well known to be harder on children than stability. Decades of research are clear on this: Children do better with parents who stay together and have relatively low-conflict relationships than they do in high-conflict structures. The new parenting studies that are trying to measure whether the gender of your parent’s partner matters are following families where same-sex parents are together from the beginning – and comparing them with families whose different-sex parents are together from the beginning. That’s how you tease out the effect of gender from the effect of instability. Regnerus did the opposite.

Regnerus is smart enough to know this. He did one thing while purporting to do another. He compared fidelity with adultery. He compared stability with instability. Then, in Slate, he said he was comparing different-sex parenting with same-sex parenting—conflating the effect of family explosion with the effect of parental sexual orientation.

Anyone who can write the words, “Liberal War On Science” in anything other then the purest irony is a bigger asshole then even the right wing culture warriors who are have been engaged in just that thing for decades now.  But never mind. The reason  William Saletan is defending Mark Regnerus’ right to defame loving families is because he’s exactly the same sort of double talking faker Regnerus is.

In the article above E. J. Graff points out in sickening detail how Regnerus talks out of both sides of his mouth; first admitting his data does not say anything about same-sex households, then when in friendly territory (like…oh…Slate…) saying he’s proven the conventional wisdom about same-sex families is terribly wrong and that children of same-sex parents have suffered devastating effects from being raised in such households. Never mind that it’s flatly untrue his data shows any such thing…in the he-said/she-said journalmalist world of William Saletan talking out of both sides of your mouth isn’t a sign of untrustworthiness, but the highest sort of journalmalistic integrity.  It’s people who insist that facts matter who are the creepy untrustworthy ones.  Saletan comes to Regnerus’ defense because he sees a soul mate…someone who knows that there are no facts just opinions, truth is whatever someone says it is, and people who frown on playing fast and loose with the evidence are dangerous ideologues. Maybe even dirty fucking hippies.

That Mark Regnerus spent nearly a million right wing dollars on an anti-gay hit piece is just a matter of opinion. Like the humanity of gay people is just a matter of opinion. These are controversial matters…no one has a monopoly on the truth…and especially not gay people when it comes to the truth of their own lives. We must respect both sides…  Saletan understands him perfectly.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on So Who’s The Bigger Creep Will…The One Who Writes Hate Propaganda Or The One Who Writes Excuses For It?

May 7th, 2012

Crisis In Confidence Men

Sullivan links to the following…

Walter Russell Mead looks ahead:

Hollande now has a delicate few weeks. French legislative elections are scheduled in June, and Hollande must steer between twin dangers. On the one hand, if it turns out that all his talk about reform and growth was just so much election verbiage and once he’s in office he plans to continue French policy more or less as before, then disillusioned voters could turn on him next month. On the other hand, if he pushes against Germany and the financial markets too forcefully, a crisis of confidence in France and in Europe could develop in the markets.

Note the turn of phrase we’ve been hearing a lot lately.   A Crisis In Confidence…

I’m a little fuzzy… They talking about loosing confidence in the ability of working people to deliver goods and services, or are they talking about loosing confidence in the ability of financiers to keep squeezing working people dry?

Yeah, yeah…rhetorical question. I’m just full of them.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Crisis In Confidence Men

August 23rd, 2011

Pissing On The Grave Of Edward R. Murrow…(continued)

In my Twitter feed, Think Progress asks, “Is the media going to let Governor Perry get away with abandoning specific positions he detailed in a 9-month-old book?”


This has been another edition of Simple Answers To Simple Questions…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Pissing On The Grave Of Edward R. Murrow…(continued)

October 10th, 2010

But We Must Consider The Feelings Of The Bullies Too…

The problem with directly confronting and dealing with anti-gay bullying is apparently we have to do it in a way that doesn’t make the bullies feel like they’re doing anything wrong…

Suicide surge: Schools confront anti-gay bullying

A spate of teen suicides linked to anti-gay harassment is prompting school officials nationwide to rethink their efforts against bullying – and in the process, risk entanglement in a bitter ideological debate.The conflict: Gay-rights supporters insist that any effective anti-bullying program must include specific components addressing harassment of gay youth. But religious conservatives condemn that approach as an unnecessary and manipulative tactic to sway young people’s views of homosexuality.

It’s a highly emotional topic. Witness the hate mail – from the left and right – directed at Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District while it reviews its anti-bullying strategies in the aftermath of a gay student’s suicide…

What leaps out at you first here is the rote equivocation on the part of this mainstream reporter.  Instead of stating what is simply a fact here that religious conservatives insist young people’s views of homosexuals must remain negative, its religious conservatives condemn that approach as an unnecessary and manipulative tactic to sway young people’s views of homosexuality.  Never mind that.  Note that its hate mail when it comes both from the homophobes and people outraged at what homophobes are doing to helpless children.

Reporters can’t be taking sides after all.  Just imagine the national outrage and loathing if the news media was as carefully neutral toward Al Qaeda.  We can’t call them terrorists after all, that would be taking sides…

This in a nutshell, is why gay kids are dying.  The religious right has successfully convinced everyone that brutalizing gays is an essential part of their religious freedom. Hating Jews might raise a few eyebrows. Hating people of color might get them some frowns of disapproval. But to even question that they are and have been for decades now engaged in a systematic campaign of hate mongering, let alone question their need to hate their gay neighbor is apparently a step too far. And the consequence is that gay kids feel as though they have no friends in the adult world.  Their need for love and acceptance in this world is of no more importance then the need of bigots to spit in their faces and look the other way while their kids kick them in the stomach.  They are alone.

But if we act aggressively to protect gay kids from bullying we’re taking sides and that just wouldn’t be fair…

But at least four younger teens have killed themselves since July after being targeted by anti-gay bullying, including Justin Aaberg, 15, of Andover, Minn., who hanged himself in his room in July. His friends told his mother he’d been a frequent target of bullies mocking his sexual orientation.Five other students in his Anoka-Hennepin school district have killed themselves in the past year, and gay-rights advocates say bullying may have played a role in two of these cases as well.

Carlson, the district superintendent, lost a teenage daughter of his own in a car crash, and says he shares the anguish of the parents bereaved by suicide. He acknowledges that a controversial district policy calling for “neutrality” in classroom discussions of sexual orientation may have created an impression among some teachers, students and outsiders that school staff wouldn’t intervene aggressively to combat anti-gay bullying.

As we software engineers say, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature…

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

July 26th, 2010

How The Game Is Played…(continued)

(Cross posted from Truth Wins Out…)

The Washington Post dug itself a little deeper into the gutter the other day (I guess that’s still possible), when it allowed Bill Donohue, of the One Man Catholic Defense League, to repeat in its pages one of the older and more enduring lies in the kook pew’s arsenal…

Alfred Kinsey was the first to identify a correlation between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of minors. In 1948, he found that 37 percent of all male homosexuals admitted to having sex with children under 17 years old.

This is why I own a copy of Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior In The Human Male. Nobody but other sex researchers, and those of us with an interest in fact checking the bigots, actually takes the trouble to go through its page after page after page after page of dry, meticulously documented tables. Which makes it an easy book for the bigots to to lie through their teeth about. In fact, Kinsey said no such thing as, happily, some of the comments to that Washington Post column are pointing out. What Kinsey discovered, was that 37 percent of all males had some overt homosexual experience to the point of orgasm, sometime between adolescence and old age.

Notice the difference? It’s not even 37 percent actually had sex when they were teenagers. But never mind that for a moment. If having had gay sex with a teenager, when you yourself were also a teenager makes you a pedophile (and yes, remarkably, some of them will insist even that is so), then tell me what percentage of the heterosexual population are also pedophiles? Is everyone who ever took a roll in the hay with their high school sweetheart a pedophile now? The line to register as a sex offender is going to be a tad long then. Maybe we can all just check a box off during the next census.

This kind of mendacity doesn’t happen accidentally and this one is actually quite old now. I saw them dispensing this back in the 80s, when all the kook pews had to vent on was the letters to the editor page and Usenet. I don’t know if Paul Cameron floated this one first but it has his touch written all over it. Call it an early example of how to employ real scientific research for a bit of deft hate mongering by omitting one small bit of information…like in this case, that Kinsey was talking about sexual experience over a lifetime (and wouldn’t you know, teenagers tend to have sex with other teenagers when their parents aren’t looking…). It’s been debunked so often that the instant Bill puts it out there people start filling the comments with its rebuttal. But you can see here, and it’s almost sad to look at, how the anti-gay industrial complex doggedly keeps all the old lies in their tool kit. Because ultimately, even when they don’t fool anyone at all anymore, repeating them still gives the faithful something to scream at the world, whenever it looks like the world isn’t listening to them anymore.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How The Game Is Played…(continued)

August 4th, 2009


Bill Maher gets on a righteous tear…

TRANSCRIPT: Never underestimate the ability of a tiny fringe group of losers to ruin everything. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been laughing heartily at the wacky antics of the "birthers", the far-right goofballs who claim Obama wasn’t really born in Hawaii and therefore the job goes to the runner-up, Miss California Carrie Prejean.

And you know there is nothing you can do to convince these people, you can hand them in person the original birth certificate with the placenta, and have a video of Obama emerging from the womb with Don Ho singing in the background, and they still would not believe it.

"Hey birthers, wanna hear my theory? My theory was that Obama was born in America and you were born with the umbilical cord around your neck. I don’t know what his mother was doing when she was pregnant, but I’m pretty sure your mom was drinking."

Oh, I kid the birthers, there’s one thing that makes me think they could be right. We’re Americans, of course we’re gonna hire an illegal alien to clean-up.

I’m joking, of course. And laughing it off has also been the reaction from Democratic leaders so far. Proving that Democrats never learn. But if you don’t immediately kill errant bulls**t, no matter how ridiculous it can’t grow and thrive like crabgrass or Cirque du Soleil. This birther stuff might be a deluded right-wing obsession, but so was Whitewater and look where that ended up: "What are they gonna do, keep expanding the case until they impeach the President over a blowjob?"


I’m telling you that in America there is no idea so patently absurd that it can’t catch on. Have you ever met a Mormon?

Or, more recently, we had the Swift Boat allegations against John Kerry, making him, a genuine war hero, a coward in a race against the guy who never left Texas. It was so stupid Kerry refused to even discuss it and we all know how well that worked out.

Well, you may ask, how something as inane as Whitewater or Swift Boats or the birther-thing gains traction? Well I’ll tell you how, the same way that the story of Elton John almost dying from ingesting too much of Rod Stewart’s sperm gained traction in my high school, dummies talking to other dummies.

It’s just easier now because of the internet. And because our mainstream media does such a lousy job of talking truth to stupid.

Lou Dobbs said recently, "People are asking a lot of questions about the birth certificate." Yes, the same people who want to know where the Sun goes at night and where to put the stamp on their e-mail. And Lou, you’re their new king.

Which is why it is so important that we, the few, the proud, the reality based, attack this stuff before it has a chance to fester and spread. This is not a case of Democrats versus Republicans. It’s sentient beings versus the lizard people.

And it is to the lizard people that I offer this deal, I will show you President Obama’s birth certificate when you show me Sarah Palin’s high school diploma.

because our mainstream media does such a lousy job of talking truth to stupid.  Yes.  Because they’re not allowed to by their corporate masters.  See what happened to Keith Olbermann.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on THIS!

July 9th, 2009

To See What Is In Front Of One’s Nose Needs A Constant Struggle

Andrew Sullivan this morning

Sargent notes that the ADN has pried another bizarre lie out of the Palin administration:

Really? Staffers that would otherwise have contributed to police work, road repair, education, and sea research were pulled in to help the governor’s office deal with the legal ins and outs of ethics complaints? That’s the official explanation for Palin’s claim now?

Well, it will be for the next five minutes. Then another lie will come along. Note in particular that ABC News’ Kate Moss did not even question her bizarre claim that she was resigning to save the state "millions" in frivolous lawsuits, a claim that was suspicious on its face, debunked on the blogs and now a proven lie. But on ABC News, stenographers to the powerful, Kate Snow just sat there and let Palin state…

This would be the same ABC News that claimed that Matthew Shepard knew his killers, that he was a druggie, and that his murder was a meth fueled robbery gone bad, not a sickeningly typical-in-its-brutality gay bashing?  That ABC News?

Don’t trust their reporting anymore do you?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on To See What Is In Front Of One’s Nose Needs A Constant Struggle

May 1st, 2009

Point Taken…But You Still Aren’t Paying Attention…

Andrew Sullivan updates his post on Virginia Foxx and Matthew Shepard…

I should be clear: I do not for a minute believe that the bigotry behind the Matthew Shepard murder was a hoax. I think it was murkier and more complicated – i.e. more human – than some want it to be. Of course, if you believe that his murderers deserved the maximum sentence because they brutally murdered someone, and not because they were meth-fueled bigots, it doesn’t matter. I want the same laws against the same acts enforced equally on everyone. If police don’t enforce the law equally, get on their case. But leave the laws alone.

Okay…point taken and granted.  He’s not saying hate had nothing to do with the murder, which is Exactly what the kook pews are saying.  As to his horribly misinformed attitude about anti-lynching laws hate crime laws, I’ll leave that argument for another time.  But this business that the murder of Matthew Shepard was "murkier and more complicated" then it at first appeared is a load of horseshit.

In his confession to DeBree, McKinney had denied using meth the day of the murder, and while McKinney had been arrested too late for the police to confirm this through blood testing, DeBree felt certain that McKinney had for once told the truth.  Obviously it’s unsurprising that the lead investigator would disagree with the defense, but DeBree had some compelling reasons on his side.  "There’s no way" it was a meth crime, DeBree argued, still passionate about the issue when I met him nearly six months after the trial had ended.  No evidence of recent drug use was "found in a search of their residences.  There was no evidence in the truck.  From everything we were able to investigate, the last time they would have done meth would have been two to three weeks previous to that night.  What the defense attempted to do was a bluff."  Meth crimes do have hallmarks.  One, "Overkill," certainly seems to describe what happened to Matt, but no others so seamlessly fit that night: "A meth crime is going to be a quick attack," DeBree pointed out.  "It’s going to be a manic attack…  No.  This was a sustained event.  And somebody that’s high on meth is not going to be targeting and zeroing in on a head, and deliver the blows that they did in the way that they did," with such precision.  "Consistently it was targeted, and even if you’re drunk, you’re going to have a tough time trying to keep your target.  No.  There’s absolutely no involvement with drugs."

Beth Loffreda,  Loosing Matt Shepard.  pg 133 – 134

A week after we met in his office, Rob [DeBree] took me to the crime scene.  As we drove out to the fence in a Sheriff’s Office SUV, he stopped in mid-sentence by the Wal-Mart"  "Here’s where it began," he told me and gestured in imitation of McKinney striking Matt.  We restart the conversation, but he’s made his point: the drive to the fence seems unimaginably long.  It’s not far – no more then a mile or two – but the rutted dirt road they turned on to makes for extremely slow driving.  When I say something to Rob about how long it takes, he agrees.  "They were coming here to finish him."  On that dirt track, it is hard to believe the defense attorney’s claims that the two killers had been drunk or high on drugs or crazed by homosexual panic.  It just takes too long to get to the fence…

Beth Loffreda,  Loosing Matt Shepard.  pg 155 – 156

"I have never worked a homicide with this much evidence," Rob says, all these months later a bit of wonder still bleeding into his voice.  "It was like a case of God giving it to us.  I’m not kidding.  The whole way it broke down from the beginning to the end – it was like, here it is, boys: work it.  It’s almost like it pissed off God, and he says, oh well, come here, let me walk you over here, walk you over there, pick up all this, pick up all that.  It was just a gift.

Beth Loffreda,  Loosing Matt Shepard.  pg 157

There is more.  Much, much more.  But that last paragraph I quoted pretty much sums it up.  There is absolutely nothing murky or mysterious about the death of Matthew Shepard.  It is one of the most crystal clear examples of purely venomous anti-gay murder in the record.  They spent time torturing that kid.  That is not hyperbole, it is the one overwhelming fact at the heart of what happened.  That, and that they made an effort to take him where they did.  Whatever their intent when they walked into that bar that night, when they walk out of it with that kid, they were about torturing and killing a homosexual.

The only confusion regarding this case, is what has been deliberately and maliciously injected into the national conversation about it by the religious right. And to understand why they’ve been so vehement about denying that anti-gay hate was the root of it, you have to consider not only the political context of their opposition to hate crime laws, but the context in which Shepard’s death came to light.

What happened was that Shepard’s death brought to a grinding halt, their brand new nationwide 600,000 dollar anti-gay ad campaign.  That summer, starting with a full page ad in the New York Times that proclaimed "I’m Living Proof That The Truth Can Set You Free", a group called "Truth In Love" sponsored by fifteen arch right anti-gay groups began a national campaign to roll back the gains gay activists had won, using ex-gay therapy as their ruse, not to talk about curing homosexuality, but to demonize homosexual people.  Wayne Besen in his book, Anything But Straight, documents the brutality of that campaign.  Behind the smiling faces of people who were now free, free at last from the loathsome taint of homosexuality, the campaign was peppered with lies about gay recruitment in schools, child molestation, the spread of AIDS, and how homosexuality leads to drugs, disease, and death and many biblical condemnations of homosexuality.  Don Wildmon, whose group was one of the sponsors, was busy telling people that…

Since homosexuals cannot reproduce, the only way for them to "breed" is to RECRUIT!"

In the midst of this propaganda onslaught, comes the news that a gay college student was practically crucified on a deer fence in Wyoming…that the kid who found his dying body thought a first that it was a scarecrow.  And then a couple days later, news that Fort Collins Colorado fraternity revelers during their homecoming parade, entered a float that bore a scarecrow with a sign that read "I’m gay"  And disgust swept across the nation.  The ad campaign now seemed less an outreach to homosexuals in the public mind, and more like what it really was, an attack on their lives.

Almost Immediately the religious right set about blaming Shepard for his own death.  It’s not hard to understand why.  They deliberately created the climate of hate toward gay people that made that both kid’s death and the mockery of it in Fort Collins not merely inevitable, but intentional.  Desired.  The homosexual monster must be feared.  The homosexual monster must be eliminated from our midst.  The very last thing they wanted was that the climate of hate would be held to account…that terrorizing homosexuals would be considered criminal. 

For generations the act of beating, and even murdering, homosexuals was considered less a crime and more a distasteful consequence of homosexuality in society.  Randy Shilts related how a young gay man who was raped sought medical help, telling a doctor what happened, only to have the doctor look at him and say "Well you’re a homosexual aren’t you?"  Matthew Shepard put a human face on all that…the face of anyone’s kid…and suddenly it seemed as if for once beating and killing a homosexual wouldn’t just be swept under the rug as par for the course…no more then what you got, and probably deserved if you were a homosexual.  Instead, the nation was appalled at what happened to that kid.

And that made the religious right livid.

They began Immediately to smear and slime that poor kid’s memory.  What ABC News and 20/20 did by taking that smear campaign and elevating it to the level of "respectable journalism" is unforgivable.  ABC News ground another cigarette into a dead gay kid’s body so they could get some ratings.  At least the hatred of Fred Phelps is genuine.

There is nothing murky about what happened to Matthew Shepard.  Nothing.  The evidence leaves absolutely no doubt that a 112 pound gay college student was tortured and murdered by two thugs because they thought homosexuals were human garbage and their contempt for them justified anything they did to that kid that night.  They had FunThey enjoyed themselves.  Anyone who cites that 20/20 hit piece is in about the same category as William Bennett, citing Paul Cameron on the shortened lifespan of homosexuals.  You are dispensing bullshit that even Baghdad Bob would laugh at.

"I have never worked a homicide with this much evidence," Rob says, all these months later a bit of wonder still bleeding into his voice.  "It was like a case of God giving it to us.  I’m not kidding.  The whole way it broke down from the beginning to the end – it was like, here it is, boys: work it.  It’s almost like it pissed off God, and he says, oh well, come here, let me walk you over here, walk you over there, pick up all this, pick up all that.  It was just a gift.

Take a wee stroll around that lonely prairie grass field of evidence sometime.  It’ll rip your comfortable 20/20 myths…and then your heart…to crying pieces.

The footprints and the tire tracks were perfectly etched; Matt’s watch, his student ID, and a quarter were laid out by the fence like props.  All that told DeBree a pretty clear story about what had happened there, including something I’d never heard in all the reporting of the crime – that Matt had made a run for it that night.  First, he had desperately "tried to stay in the truck," Rob believes.  Once out, he tried to escape.  "Henderson had made a statement to Chasity Pasley that she told us about, that Matt was able to break free and tried to run.  And according to what we were able to see at the crime scene, we could pretty well put that together.  His wristwatch was located twenty-three feet or so from where he was tied up, and I think that’s essentially what he was trying to do, was just to run.  He was tackled down; then he was drug over to the fence and tied by Henderson."

Beth Loffreda,  Loosing Matt Shepard.  pg 156-157

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

Actually Mr. Sullivan, The Facts Are Staring You In The Face.

I see Andrew Sullivan is still trying to make that 20/20 hit piece on Matthew Shepard into something it isn’t…namely journalism…

I don’t doubt that homophobia fueled the disgusting murder. But I am unconvinced it was the sole motive. ABC’s 20/20 report brought some serious facts to the table – most specifically the crystal meth binge that the killers had been on, and the original motive being possibly robbery of someone McKinney knew casually

No…No…and, No…

To: Andrew Sullivan
From: Bruce Garrett
Subject: What Facts?

You’re still trying to make that 20/20 episode into something it isn’t…a serious exploration of the circumstances of Matthew Shepard’s death.  There is nothing confusing or mysterious about what happened that night.  It is in fact, one of the best documented cases of a gay bashing/murder, with that classic aspect of overkill that such murders almost always have.  Yeah…they robbed him.  But had be been heterosexual, a robbery would have been all that it was.

The facts are there, staring you in the face…you’re just not paying attention to them.  Question:  if McKinney and Shepard knew each other, then why did he ask Shepard if he could read his license plates?

Both sides agreed that McKinney committed the murder, with Custis actually using that legal term in his closing argument. The points of contention boiled down to whether the act was premeditated or the result of extreme intoxication.

Prosecutor Cal Rerucha alluded to testimony that McKinney was actually sober at the time of the killing, and focused on his final request for Shepard to read McKinney’s license plate as the most damning proof of premeditation — allegedly proving that McKinney intentionally killed Shepard to make sure he could never be a witness in a case against him.

If they knew each other, even casually, then this is pointless.  Shepard already can identify him.  But there it is. 

If you have any doubts about what was going on that night, I suggest you do what I did.  Go to Laramie, and drive the route Shepard’s killers took from the bar they picked him up at, to the fence where they beat him to the edge of death.  I have family in California and I regularly drive out to visit them because I love seeing America from the road.  One year I detoured to Laramie and just to see for myself.

Well you can’t get to the fence now from the road: there are signs warning you that it’s a private driveway now.  But you can take the drive from where the bar was to close enough to where the fence is and I am here to tell you that you won’t get halfway there before it becomes sickeningly clear that it may have started out as a robbery in the bar, but by the time the two of them got that 112 pound kid in the truck and started heading out of town it wasn’t that anymore.  They could have robbed him anywhere along that route pushed him out of the truck and gotten safely away.  Hell, they could have put a bullet in his head and dumped his body out in various spots along that route where nobody would likely have seen anything.  Drive the route late at night.  I did it one July, but doing it around the time of year of the killing would be even better, because the route would be even darker, the air much colder, the driver even less likely to see other people out there.  It is very clarifying. 

You go out of the downtown section…you drive for blocks…past the university…past the outlying convenience stores…a few fast food joints…some liquor stores…out to the edge of town and beyond.  Into the rolling sage.  Into the darkness.  I know why they turned off onto Pilot Peak Road now.  Pilot Peak was their last turn off before the Interstate.  They had to make that left, or they would have been on the Interstate and from there it was either drive west and back toward town or drive east for miles and miles to Happy Jack Road.  So they took the left onto Pilot Peak Road and drove back into that sub division as far as they could.  Into the darkness.  Where no one would see.  Where their handiwork wouldn’t be discovered for a long time.  They made an effort to take him where they did, and that only makes sense if they planned to beat the living daylights out of that poor kid, simply for being a homosexual, because he disgusted them.  Perhaps…perhaps…because they disgusted themselves, and now they had a queer they could take it out on.

I repeat: if McKinney and Shepard knew each other, then why did he ask Shepard if he could read his license plates?   Oh…and Doc O’Connor says they were never together in his limo.  And the detectives found no evidence of any kind of drug connection to the crime.  But who are you going to believe…the detectives or the killer’s friends?  All 20/20 did was take the drug saturated gossip of the friends of Shepard’s killers and elevate that to "serious questions" about the killing.  Their testimony is contradicted in so many ways by both the evidence and the testimony of the detectives that it’s impossible to see what 20/20 did as anything other then a hit piece. 

But if you have doubts, like I said, go there and drive that route for yourself.  Do it around the same time of night as Shepard’s killers kidnapped him.  Try to keep a picture in your mind of those two thugs with a 112 pound kid in their truck, driving that route, and all they have in mind is robbing him.  Trust me, it won’t last long.

Bruce Garrett
Baltimore, Maryland.

This isn’t rocket science…

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

April 14th, 2009

Divide The Nation And We’ll Have The Bigger Cave…

Divide the nation, Nixon’s adviser Pat Buchanan told him, and we’ll have the bigger half.  Several decades of culture war later, the right has simply led a fairly sizable slice of America into a kind of mental prison more lock tight then anything old Joe Stalin, Mao or Goebbels could have wished for in their wildest dreams.  Here’s one of Andrew Sullivan’s readers explaining something I’ve seen with my own eyes in my own family, and among folks who once upon a time were friends of mine…

I celebrated Easter yesterday with my ultra conservative family. I love my family but they have gone so far to the right over the past 8 years that it is difficult to have any sort of discussion with them. I think they are typical of conservatives born in the baby boom. They are scarred by the culture wars and the hatred they have for the left is so strong that it becomes disturbing.

That hatred, let it be said, didn’t start with Reagan.  It started with Nixon.  These are the folks of my own generation and earlier, who cheered on the hard hats as they bashed the hippies protesting racism, the Vietnam war, and fought for women’s rights and sexual liberty.  You need to remember about this crowd that they thought that the twin beds in Lucy and Ricky’s television apartment and the fact that even when Lucy was clearly "with child" nobody was allowed to utter the word "pregnant" on TV was as perfectly appropriate for TV as Fred Flintstone selling cigarettes.  Separate But Equal was working just fine until some communist inspired uppity blacks and a bunch of New York Jews started agitating everyone.  A woman’s place was in the house cooking dinner for her husband not in the workplace unless she was too ugly to find a man and maybe those women could be secretaries or nurses or waitresses or something.  And the more horrifying symbol of social decay, the biggest threat to the sanctity of American family life wasn’t homosexuality or even the Communist Menace, it was males wearing their hair so long it went below the collar. 

These people weren’t scarred by the culture wars.  They were scarred by the shock, shock of seeing that there were other people in the world who didn’t buy into their racist, sexist, war mongering moral values.  Let’s see how well they’ve matured over the years shall we…?

So with this in mind I compiled a few themes from the days discussions that you might find interesting (or horrifying). None of this is ground breaking but it is interesting to see these generalizations about the current conservative movement be personified in ones family.

1. Total insulation from MSM.

Everyone refuses to read the New York Times or Washington Post. Sunday morning while getting ready for Church I put on "Meet the Press" and my father looked on with disgust and changed the channel to Fox News. At dinner I brought up an article in The Economist that was critical of Barack Obama and my uncle said that it was a socialist rag.

2. Distrust of centrists When discussing the future of the Republican party I suggested that we needed to create a bigger tent and avoid social issues that alienated us from younger voters. My GRANDMOTHER responded that we don’t need the back benchers like Christopher Buckley dictating our principles. I think that line was straight from the Mark Levin show.

3. Neoconservative aspirations The most interesting part of the day, was that so much of the discussion focused on the Somali Pirate issue. It was the story of the day, but I didn’t think their was that much to talk about. Surely, not as interesting as talking about Iran, Obama’s budget, the economy etc. However we spent most of the day discussing Obama’s lackluster response to the issue and the weakness he displayed in not acting quicker. My father was incensed that the media kept referring to this as a crime rather then an act of terrorism. His suggestion was to engage in a land war in Somalia…

This tracks pretty well with my own personal experiences, particularly among a few ersatz friends of the Republican Persuasion who kept right on voting for the Shrub even when his party waged one of the most blistering anti-gay election campaigns in American history.  They get their news from FOX.  As terrified of them as the mainstream news media is, the hard core Still avoids it like it was radioactive, and read only their own tribal publications. 

Let me tell you a wee story about that.  After I’d been to Memphis to show my support for an Ex-Gay Survivor’s conference, I noticed that Time Magazine did a story that week on gay teens that touched on how this new generation of gay teens is often pressured by their families into ex-gay camps.  So I figure I’ll pick up a copy on the drive back home.  My drive took me east on I-40 to I-81 and up the backbone of Virginia.  Starting around just north of Galax I began to check the drugstores and WalMarts for copies.  What I found was that nowhere…and I mean nowhere I stopped, and I must have stopped at dozens of places on the way home…had Any mainstream news magazines for sale on their racks anywhere between Hillsville and Winchester Virginia.  Not just no Time, but no Newsweeks, no U.S. News…nada…nothing.  Maybe there were some to be found somewhere in that stretch of countryside…but I never found any near the highway until I got to Winchester and pulled into a shopping mall.  And the young lady behind the counter gave me a dirty look when she saw what I was buying.

They don’t want to even hear it now.  And they don’t have to.  They can get their news exclusively from tribal sources.  But those sources are anything but grass roots.  They imagine they are part of a disenfranchised grass roots majority that was…somehow…denied power that is rightfully theirs by a variety of secret liberal-communist-socialist-homosexual cabals.  In fact, they are almost completely owned by right wing billionaires and corporate America.

Case in point…this sad, odd, pathetic tea protest.  I’m going to steal this post from Digby (who you should read more often if you don’t already) because it pretty well sums it all up…

Corporate Grassroots

by digby

Following up on Krugman’s column today and the shrieking and rending of garments by the rightwing, I think it’s it’s probably important to make very clear why the tea-bagger parties are not a grassroots uprising.

The right seems to want us to believe that Fox News is promoting this non-stop as a genuine news event rather than a sponsor — despite the fact that it is an event which hasn’t happened yet. They are, by definition, promoting it.

Local news organizations, which are reporting on the planning for this event either do not realize that they are being spun by a front group pretending to be a grassroots organizing campaign or they don’t care. That front group is called Freedom Works, which presents itself as the conservative answer to Move On.

Here is how Move On was conceived:

The domain name was registered on September 18, 1998 by computer entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, the married cofounders of Berkeley Systems, an entertainment software company known for the flying toaster screen saver and the online game show "You Don’t Know Jack." After selling the company in 1997, Blades and Boyd became concerned about the level of "partisan warfare in Washington" following revelations of President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. The MoveOn website was launched initially to oppose the Republican-led effort to impeach Clinton. Initially called "Censure and Move On," it invited visitors to add their names to an online petition stating that "Congress must Immediately Censure President Clinton and Move On to pressing issues facing the country."

At the time of MoveOn’s public launch on September 24, it appeared likely that its petition would be dwarfed by the effort to oust Clinton. A reporter who interviewed Blades on the day after the launch wrote, "A quick search on Yahoo turns up no sites for ‘censure Clinton’ but 20 sites for ‘impeach Clinton,’" adding that Scott Lauf’s website had already delivered 60,000 petitions to Congress. reported that Arianna Huffington, then a right-wing commentator, had collected 13,303 names on her website,, which called on Clinton to resign.

Within a week, however, support for MoveOn had grown. Blades calls herself an "accidental activist. … We put together a one-sentence petition. … We sent it to under a hundred of our friends and family, and within a week we had a hundred thousand people sign the petition. At that point, we thought it was going to be a flash campaign, that we would help everyone connect with leadership in all the ways we could figure out, and then get back to our regular lives. A half a million people ultimately signed and we somehow never got back to our regular lives." MoveOn also recruited 2,000 volunteers to deliver the petitions in person to members of the House of Representatives in 219 districts across America, and directed 30,000 phone calls to district offices.

Here’s how it does business:

MoveOn uses e-mail as its main conduit for communicating with members, sending action alerts at least once a week.

The web site also uses multi-media, including videos, audio downloads, and images. In addition to communicating via the Internet, MoveOn advertises using traditional print and broadcast media, as well as billboards, bus signs, and bumper stickers, digital versions of which are downloadable from its web site. It also contains an area called the "Action Forum", which functions much like a traditional electronic discussion group. The Action Forums act as a grassroots organization allowing members to propose priorities and strategies.

Through this grassroots methodology, MoveOn collaborates with groups like in organizing street demonstrations, bake sales, house parties, and other opportunities for people to meet personally and act collectively in their own communities.

Some of its core principles are that it is not dependent on foundation money and that it has the ability to use ‘hard money’ – as opposed to grants and tax-deductible contributions – which enables them to be partisan, contribute to political campaigns, and exercise clout in the political process.

Here’s how Freedom Works came to pass:

Stealing a page from‘s successful organizing playbook, the leaders of FreedomWorks – a complete merger of the conservative think-tanks Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) and Empower America – hope to conduct massive get out the vote and political education campaigns in the swing states on behalf of President George W. Bush.

The two groups decided to merge because there was "an overlap in issues between the two organization," Shawn Small, the Director of Policy at Empower America, told me in a telephone interview. It was an opportunity to bring together Empower America, which Small characterized as a "grasstops" organization driven by such inside the beltway "superstars" as William Bennett, Vin Weber and Jean Kirkpatrick and CSE’s "grassroots" following.

Will FreedomWorks be successful? Maybe, maybe not, but it is sure to be controversial with longtime Republican Party operative Matt Kibbe at the helm.

If the agenda of FreedomWorks sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The organization’s new website proclaims that it "will expand and broaden the national fight for lower taxes, less government, and more economic freedom."

The leaders of FreedomWorks have all been around the Beltway a number of times. Former House Majority Leader, Texas Republican congressman Dick Armey, C. Boyden Gray, onetime legal counsel to Bush’s father and chairman of the Committee for Justice, an organization about to launch a campaign on behalf of Bush’s right wing judicial appointees, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and failed vice-presidential candidate, Jack Kemp, will serve as the Co-Chairmen of the organization.

And here’s how it operates:

FreedomWorks claims a membership of over 360,000 and a multi-tentacled legal structure that includes a 501 c(3), a 501 c(4), a 527, a federal PAC, and various state PACs. John Stauber, co-author of Banana Republicans: How The Right Wing is Turning America into a One-Party State, recently pointed out that that according to internal documents leaked to the Washington Post in January 2000, the bulk of Citizens for a Sound Economy‘s revenues ($15.5 million in 1998) came not from its members, but from contributions of $250,000 and up from large corporations, including Allied Signal, Archer Daniels Midland, DaimlerChrysler, Emerson Electric Company, Enron, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Philip Morris and U.S. West (now Qwest).

And like their progenitors they get millions from the conservative foundations.

Can we all see the difference between Freedom Works and Move On? I knew that you could.

This is what a grass roots movement looks like in conservative America.  It’s fake.  Just like all the rhetoric about individual freedom, Jesus and family values.  Just as The Washington Times could not survive without the infusions of large piles of cash from messianic crackpot Sun Myung Moon, nearly every so-called conservative grass-roots organization could not exist without the largess of corporate America and the stable of right wing billionaires who have been funding the modern conservative movement since the culture wars began in the 60s.  Scaife.  Ahmanson.  Coors.  Bradley.  Olin.  Koch.  These people, and the rest of what Eisenhower warned as The Military Industrial Complex, are the crack epidemic poisoning the veins of our country.  Without them Americans might actually be getting along with one another reasonably well. 

And families like those of Sullivan’s reader might not be living in a 21st century cave, complete with nice TVs and radios that stroke their bar stool conceits, making goddamned sure they see of the world outside only what the ayatollahs of the hard right want them to see, and think Exactly what they want them to think.  They are tools, useful idiots, disposable human lives in the war a small but very powerful group of billionaires and corporate interests have been waging for decades now on the American Dream.  

What you need to understand: many of them made that of themselves willingly.  Joyfully even.  Better to live in a cave, then to know that the heathens aren’t monsters after all, but other human beings, happy and content with their own lives just as they are.  Anything to not have to know that.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Divide The Nation And We’ll Have The Bigger Cave…

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