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July 29th, 2019

My Hellhole City…

Morning in my hell hole city…

I get up early these days, make some sandwiches for lunch, put food and fresh water out for the calico. Many street cats here in Baltimore like her have one ear tipped. It’s a sign that she’s been fixed and given at least an initial round of shots. The city would like it very much if you don’t bother the tipped ear cats. They keep the rodent population down, and also the street cat population since they can no longer breed.

I live where I can walk to work when the weather is nice. This morning I’m out the door just after 5am. I was up at 4. It’s my insomnia. I try to make it work for me. When it gets me up early enough, but not too early, I just stay up. Flex time means I get to go home early too, and maybe do some work at the drafting table before bed. The early morning summer dawn lights my way, but the street lights are still on. I go out the back door because I don’t want the calico following me.

The alley behind my little Baltimore rowhouse is still and quiet. Everyone here has done their backyard up a little differently. Some have big expansive gardens, others have put in parking pads or big outdoor decks with barbecues and deck furniture. Trees, probably planted decades ago, have grown taller than the utility wires strung down the alley, and have to be regularly trimmed. A couple dogs wander close to their fences as I pass by, but do not bark at me. I’m a familiar human. They will rise a hellacious din when an unknown human walks down the alley. Or a known human walking their dogs.

Or a squirrel. In the years I’ve lived here I’ve seen maybe a few hundred squirrels for every rat. Or maybe it’s just a couple squirrels and they just get around. Tree branches and utility wires are all the same to them. The street cats do their job keeping the rat population down. Also the city. You have to make a really big mess of your property for the city to complain about it, but a single rat sighting will get animal control knocking on your door faster than the speed of sound. But it’s not all just squirrels and rats and pigeons. I’ve seen deer and foxes, which probably come down the Jones Falls river (creek trickle stream) from the ‘burbs. Last winter I looked out my front bedroom window one night and saw a deer feasting on the ivy buried under some freshly fallen snow.

Deer in fact, were a frequent sight in my neighborhood, which is just a couple miles from the urban core. I’ve seen foxes too. One night I opened the front door to see if the Calico needed feeding and found a raccoon by the empty food dish giving me a look as if to say, well, where’s the food buddy!? You got a food dish here and it’s empty! What’s up with that!? Hawks, owls and falcons are regular visitors, especially around Wyman Park and Jones Falls. Snakes too, alas, but so far I have seen no venomous ones. But the empty lot at the end of my street where the wildlife used to gather has been turned into expensive luxury townhomes. Starting price was 350k and most of them sold for over 400k. The development was completed just last spring, and now the model home is the only one left unsold. A storage container factory that used to be located not far away was closed and the building demolished and they are building even more expensive townhomes on the site as I write this. Another empty lot behind the Giant Food grocery store a couple blocks away was turned into a luxury townhome development that was completed last fall.

On my way to work this morning I walk past the Giant. There are places in this city that are food deserts, but my neighborhood isn’t one of them. I live within a short walk of the Giant, and there is one of those trendy organic food stores in “The Rotunda”, a largish old building that was once the headquarters of some big insurance company, and is now a small city mall with stores and offices in it. What was the big parking lot behind it has been turned into a 400+ luxury apartment complex, with rents ranging from just under a thousand bucks a month to just over 3,800 for a space that’s still fewer square feet than my little Baltimore rowhouse. I have no idea who is paying that kind of money for those units or where they work, but they seem to be nearly all rented out now.

There is a Starbucks among the Rotunda shops that opens at 5:30am. I stop in for an ice coffee and danish to take with me as I walk to work. The Rotunda is a halfway point in my walk. A few delivery trucks are parked at the loading docks, but the morning is still very quiet. The day shift is just getting started. There is the Mom’s (that trendy organic grocery store…), the Starbucks, a drugstore, a barber shop, a UPS store, a couple restaurants and a dine-in movie theater here. The folks who live in the apartments above them probably have it even better than me when it comes to walkability, especially if they work in the Rotunda, as some of my coworkers do.

I go on my way, down 40th street to University Parkway. Now I am walking through what is probably Baltimore’s most upscale neighborhood: Roland Park. My path just gives it a glancing blow but even here the homes are big and lovely. There are large English style rowhomes, with slate shingle roofs and large patches of lawn and garages behind them, accessible through the alley. Even at the money I am making in my current job I could never afford one of these. They’re all old, solid, and beautiful. And they adjoin Wyman park, which itself adjoins the Johns Hopkins University, which is where I work. Not for Hopkins, but for AURA, the Association of Universities conducting Research in Astronomy.

We operate the Hubble Space Telescope here, and are working on the ground systems for the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. Hopkins graduate programs in Biological, Biomedical Sciences, Engineering (Biomedical, Electrical & Environmental), Human Development and Family Studies, Health Sciences, Humanities, Physical and Mathematical Sciences and International Affairs and Development, all rank among the top 10 of their respective disciplines. Students come here from all over the world. It’s a lovely campus to work at, and taking my lunchtime strolls I hear languages of the world spoken among the kids. But this is not an inexpensive university to attend. These kids, unless they got grant money, come from money. But it’s a different kind of atmosphere here, than one I suppose I might find at a Yale or a Harvard. These kids are here mostly to become scientists, researchers, astronomers, or engineers. Some days I walk among the carefully maintained greens between the campus buildings, or along the walkways of San Martin Drive with Wyman Park on one side and the University on the other, and I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.

Now I walk through Roland Park to University Parkway, and from there across a bridge over Wyman Park to San Martin Drive, which winds and bends between the university and the park. Tall trees and forest on one side of the road, I could imagine myself in one of the national parks, perhaps somewhere along Skyline Drive. I go past the Lacrosse field on the other, and the ROTC. Soon I am at my workplace. I have to use my key card to open the door as it is very early, and sign in at the security desk. Security is tighter here now, than when I first started working here, since we began building the Mission Operations Center for James Webb here. One of my key cards grants me access to the building, and I have access to several computer rooms configured on it. Two other cards on my strap grant me access to the James Webb MOC and to Goddard in Greenbelt Maryland.

I am but a mere integration and testing person, not a flight engineer, and I also write business software for progress tracking and reporting. So when my phase of the work is completed they’ll probably take away my MOC access. But I can say I was there, and was a part of it all. I have participated in testing James Webb’s optical and science instrument assembly (OTIS), and watched it speaking its first words on my telemetry screen as I helped capture data for later replaying and testing of the ground systems we’re developing here.

Here. In my hell hole rat infested city. Except it isn’t. It’s one of America’s vibrant, busy, energetic cities and there is lots more going on here than you might think if all you ever watched was The Wire or read Donald Trump’s and his peanut gallery’s tweets. I feel as though I lucked out unreasonably getting the job here I did, and the little Baltimore rowhouse I have within walking distance of that job, and the grocery stores, and the lovely bars and restaurants and shops that compass everything I might need on a day to day basis. The nightlife hub locally is called “The Avenue” and it’s become so popular most of the bigger places have valet parking now. But I can walk to it so that’s another perk of where I live.

I grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC. I thought I’d live in the ‘burbs all my life. Then I discovered what it’s like to have everything you need in walking distance. My city neighborhood is as safe as any suburban development I’ve ever lived in, and since we are all more tightly packed together here than in the ‘burbs we know each other perhaps a little better, and we can keep an eye on our neighborhood a little better. Diversity. It works. My neighborhood is largely white, but has a growing mix of black, Asian and Hispanic leavening it. But that’s just one part to diversity. My neighborhood also has a nice mix of older retired folk and younger professionals, and that means there is always someone here during the day keeping an eye on things, and at night not everyone keeps the same bedtime schedule. The neighborhood never really sleeps, it just gets quiet. Which is a relative term here in the city. The entire neighborhood doesn’t just empty out during business hours like some of the suburban apartment developments I’ve lived in. And older rowhouse neighborhoods like those here in the city, have Front Porches! This is something the new “luxury” townhouses are sadly leaving out. Front porches are places where people sit when the weather is nice, and chat with each other, and passing neighbors out for an evening stroll. People like me.

City life is Wonderful. Baltimore is wonderful. Yes, it has its problem zones, like all big cities do. And if Donald Trump and his constipated voter base think otherwise they can certainly help improve the livability of this and other American cities by staying out.

My thanks in advance!

by Bruce | Link | React!

April 12th, 2018

Rupert Murdoch’s America

I was reading an article a few years back, about how the writer’s elderly father used to be someone pleasant and sunny to be around…until he started watching Fox News. Unfair as it is to pin our current national nightmare on any one individual (there is lots of credit to go around), if I had to pick one name as the icon of the American gutter now in power, and its hysterical babbling angry all the time grass roots, it would actually be an Australian. His name is Rupert Murdoch, and he became a citizen of our country just so he could own TV and radio stations here, and transform the American Dream into his personal sewer. Do not blame Donald Trump for the fire burning down our democratic institutions…

…the Reality Show President, like the writer’s father I mentioned above, is an avid follower of Murdoch’s venomous anti democratic propaganda mill. Here’s what Trump was applauding just last night…

Once upon a time feverish nutcases like this, moral runts who’d burn to ashes our democratic institutions rather than let their festering resentment at everything fine and noble that they could never be just stew in their own private sewer, were limited to late night public access channels, private shortwave stations and dial-a-nazi phone numbers (any of my Washington readers here remember “Let Freedom Ring“?). Murdoch gave them a national television network to spread their poison on. 

That’s led us directly here:

I say a lot of shit on TV defending him, even over this. But honestly, I wish the motherf*cker would just go away. We’re going to lose the House, lose the Senate, and lose a bunch of states because of him. All his supporters will blame us for what we have or have not done, but he hasn’t led. He wakes up in the morning, sh*ts all over Twitter, sh*ts all over us, sh*ts all over his staff, then hits golf balls. F*ck him. Of course, I can’t say that in public or I’d get run out of town.

That’s from a blog post by Eric Erickson, who runs the Redstate blog, which I will not link to here. Erickson is as hard right as they come, and he’s upset at the damage Trump is doing to the movement. The post is a conversation Erickson had with a “conservative” member of congress at the local Safeway grocery store and it is a stunningly blunt, profanity laced, diatribe that the congressman was grateful to Erickson for letting him finally get out of his system.

But look at that. Of course, I can’t say that in public or I’d get run out of town. This is Murdoch’s doing. And the idiots at Clear Channel who gave a nationwide radio network home to the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. And now Sinclair Broadcasting, turning local TV stations into stealth rightwing propaganda media. All so the angry fathers of America can stay angry and fearful all the time because that gets them to the polls which is the only way Murdoch republicans can stay in power. And keep giving those lovely tax breaks and treasury money to the very rich and powerful, and gut the New Deal protections for workers and the elderly that they despise. And now republicans, even hard right republicans who would love nothing better than to take this country back to the 19th century, can’t stop an out of his depth manchild from destroying their party, let alone plunging the world into nuclear chaos, without losing their seats in congress because Murdoch’s angry old men would be livid if they so much as spoke a word against him. 

But…let it be said…they’re not any different in substance from those angry fearful Murdoch grass roots if they’d rather let America burn than losing elections to democrats.

And…let it be said…here’s the man who let Rupert Murdoch into our airwaves…

 

 

…the guy whose first act as president was busting a union. Who began his presidential run in 1980 with a speech about state’s rights seven miles from where three civil rights workers were kidnapped and murdered for registering black citizens to vote. Who laughed at the rededication of The Statue of Liberty when Bob Hope joked that she may have caught AIDS from the Staten Island Ferry (Fairy) or the mouth of the Hudson. He knew exactly what he was doing when he gave Murdoch our airwaves.

[Update]…Tom Sullivan over at Digby’s blog links the Hannity outburst of crazy with an upcoming ABC interview with Comey…

ABC plans to air an interview with former FBI director James Comey Sunday night. The promo spot above teases pretty hard what we might hear, including that Comey believes our sitting president operates like a mob boss (although George Stephanopoulos may be putting those words into Comey’s mouth). Axios claims a source present at the taping:

According to the source:

  • The Comey interview left people in the room stunned — he told George things that he’s never said before.
  • Some described the experience as surreal. The question will be how to fit it all into a one-hour show.
  • Comey answered every question.
  • If anyone wonders if Comey will go there, he goes there.

“There” being the question of whether Trump should be impeached, presumably. Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty,” arrives in stores on Tuesday.

So Hannity was prepping the kook pews on what to think about the Comey interview. We’re not a bunch of crooks, he’s the crook!  It’s like Al Capone accusing the FBI of being the mob, not him.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Rupert Murdoch’s America

April 4th, 2017

Great Folks, For A Bunch Of Cocksuckers…

Le Dance Pathetique…as choreographed by Alex Jones…

Un…

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

Deux…

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

Trois…

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

Quatre…

“He’s sucking globalist dick.”

 

Le Curtian…Applaus a vous…

 

(More on Le Dance Pathetique here.)

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

September 13th, 2016

The Man With No Conscience Rides Into Town…

I see the new Clint Eastwood movie is getting its first reviews beyond the right wing swamp

eastwood_sullies

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

Go read the whole thing to see the takedown of the movie’s central lie.  This movie laughs in your face and lies to you. There’s just no other way to put it. Its central fact, that the National Traffic Safety Board tried to railroad pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles, is a lie. A damnable lie.

But a lie you could see coming in the first trailer released for it. This is Talks To An Empty Chair Eastwood telling the audience in the Fox News cocoon everything they want to hear about how evil the federal government is. In the process he’s turned people who lived these events into stick figures in an antigovernment morality play, meant not to tell the story of an American hero but to encourage Americans to fear and mistrust their own government. Eastwood spits in the faces good people who work diligently every day to make travel safer for all of us. Because in the libertarian mindset, a government that can require corporations to care about anything other than  profit, such as customer safety, can only be evil.

It’s a damnable lie, easily seen for what it is with even a cursory  fact checking of the sources. But Eastwood knows his audience. They don’t want facts, they want their bigotries validated. Even if it means that someday the aircraft they’re on crashes and burns because CEO compensation mattered more than their lives, and lawsuit settlements were seen to be less costly than fixing a potential life threatening problem.

 

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

August 23rd, 2016

Sympathy From The Devil

This started making the rounds yesterday…

A New Regnerus? Anti-Equality Groups Promote New Study on Sexual Orientation and Gender

Anti-equality organizations are enthusiastically promoting a new study on sexual orientation and gender, hoping it will be new culture war ammunition.

The study by Dr. Lawrence Mayer and Dr. Paul McHugh appears in “The New Atlantis,” a journal co-published by the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Center for the Study of Technology and Science, which shares an address with EPPC. The New Atlantis is not a peer-reviewed journal, and has critiqued peer review, widely considered the gold standard in scientific publishing.

I first caught wind of this from a headline on a religious right website that appeared in my Google news page. I did a search to see what I could find out about it. There wasn’t much at that point, and I got less than a page of hits back. But Every Single One was to a religious right website, or a political website deeply aligned with the religious right.

That’s telling. A real science paper will appear first in the science journals and then percolate out from there into the commercial press depending on the popular interest in its topic. But for some time now what we’ve seen is that junk science from the anti-gay industrial complex first hits some right wing vanity publication with a sciencey sounding name, or a small journal easily compromised by a big right wing foundation with buckets of money, and at the same exact time it also hits one or more of the big players in the religious right echo chamber, and from there it spreads; first via the usual suspects like World News Daily, and talk radio, and then into the commercial press when it smells a controversy. That was the pattern with the Mark Regnerus paper on children (allegedly but actually not) raised by same sex couples. What this is telling you is that the paper is part of an orchestrated campaign. Real science doesn’t work like that. Religious right junk science only works like that.

I haven’t read the paper yet, but the press releases say it makes two basic points. You need to understand that both of these points are actually long standing religious right anti-gay tropes: First, that there is no evidence that a homosexual orientation is innate at birth…Second, that social stigma does not account for how mentally unstable homosexuals are. These have both been a part of the homophobe chorus since at least the 1970s.

The first simply digs in its heels and refuses to accept any of the mountains of evidence that sexual orientation is innate, at least in part if not wholly genetically determined, and cannot be changed through any kind of therapy. And that, as I read the first wave of reviews, is what this paper does, although it seems to acknowledge that the twins study does indicate a genetic “predisposition”, but that is homophobe doublespeak. The dogma is homosexuality is a perverse sexual addiction that people are either lured into or fall into through godlessness, bad habits and low morals, and which they can always choose to not act on. These arguments quickly start sounding like arguments about creationism versus evolution, and that is no coincidence. It is the same exact mindset.

The second point the paper makes neatly dovetails with the idea that homosexuality is a mental illness and removing it from the list of known mental illnesses only happened because militant homosexuals pressured the psychiatric profession into it. This knife in the back mythology as to how the understanding of homosexuality and sexual orientation evolved and changed among social scientists and professionals has a long, long history, and it is a foundational belief among the few still practicing reparative therapy like Joseph Nicolosi and his organization NARTH.

Which makes the smarmy dedication Lawrence Mayer places at the beginning of the paper he co-authored all the more loathsome…

In his preface, co-author Mayer dedicates his work to the LGBT community, “which bears a disproportionate rate of mental health problems compared the population as a whole,” and to “scholars doing impartial research on topics of public controversy.” He declares himself a supporter of equality and opponent of anti-LGBT discrimination.

You have never had spit flung in your face so sweetly. This bullshit about being an LGBT supporter is also one with a long pedigree, going back to every 1950s movie with a sick and pathetic faggot character and a plea for sympathy for the mentally ill…

 


“And here I was and I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t stop.
I thought if I could have just one night, I could get it out of my system.   Just one more time…”

 

We should not  be cruel to these poor sick creatures, they can’t help themselves… But to say you disagree with abusing the mentally ill is not to say you are supportive of LGBT people, let alone our civil rights, let alone the pursuit of science. There is nothing wrong with us. The science has been demonstrating that for decades now. If you can’t see that it’s because you are not interested in the science.

Which the two men who wrote this paper manifestly are not. They did not publish in a respected peer reviewed journal but in a right wing vanity publication in tandem with what was clearly a prepublication publicity campaign in the religious right echo chamber. That is not how science works.

But it’s how the kultar kampf is waged in the kook pews.   There is a pattern to this that is becoming routine.   A new paper is published in some science publication nobody has ever heard of before, that refutes the last 50 years of research on homosexuality and sexual orientation. The echo chamber picks up on it and next thing you know the entire religious right is trumpeting this new research that proves homosexuality is a cancer on society, or at the very least a tragic mental illness a civilized society should find a cure for, but certainly not grant special rights to. From there it moves into the popular press, and suddenly it’s in all the papers and news broadcasts.

Now it starts getting the critical attention it had been avoiding in the vanity press. But no matter that: critical attention always lags behind that first exuberant wave of publicity. Debunking takes time, and usually demands the attention of the reader more than the initial sound bite headlines the paper has already generated. So several news cycles, maybe even a year can go by before the debunking takes hold. In the meantime the homophobes have the stage practically all to themselves. This is what happened with the Regnerus study.

And then…it stops. The sails lose their wind. The curtain is drawn back. The lies are exposed. The commercial press moves on. Gay folk and our allies learn how to debunk the latest round of religious right junk science. The public conversation turns away from the latest faux controversy…

…and the haters duck back into the shadows…back into the echo chamber…repeating the same lies to themselves over and over…embellishing them even…holding onto them as long established truths that no amount of fact checking can touch…because in the gutter the only facts that matter are the ones prejudice and hate tell them that matter…

Soon there will be a new study…another paper…another round of it to go with the human gutter. Ask the Jews how long they’ve been dealing with it. Ask your black neighbors. Ask any hated minority.   They say love always wins. Perhaps. But hate never gives up. Because it has nothing else.

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

June 13th, 2016

The Hate Excuser’s Song

owen_jones_leaves

This is par for the course, whenever an act of violence against gay people makes national, let alone international headlines. The pushback to erase the motivation of anti-gay hate from the crime, divert attention onto something else, real or fabricated, comes quickly after from all the usual suspects, and is forceful. And when challenged on it, they just dig their heels in. In a few months to a year there will be articles from right wing “think tanks”, and documentaries purporting to prove that homophobic animus had nothing to do with it at all, and that those of us who kept pointing it out are ourselves guilty of politicising a terrible tragedy to support the Gay Agenda. It is all so predictable. Because to acknowledge the hate that motivated it, might lead to questions about the climate of hate, and those who cultivated it for votes, and money.

And ratings. Perhaps in a few years ABC 20/20 will do a documentary explaining how it was all really a drug deal gone bad…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Hate Excuser’s Song

May 13th, 2015

That Old Time Sales Pitch

This came across my Facebook stream this morning. It clarified something I’d wondered about the relationship between American fundamentalism and its veneration of brutal survival of the fittest capitalism. How do you get from the sermon on the mount to Jesus would want us to take food stamps away from poor families?

Christian fundamentalism is a capitalist construct: The secret history of American religion

Henry Parsons Crowell was a purveyor of oatmeal. He is best known by business historians as the president and founder of Quaker Oats, one of the pioneers of the branding revolution. He used a combination of packaging, trademark and massive promotional campaigns and transformed oatmeal from a commodity into a trademarked product.

Crowell took oatmeal that used to be sold out of large barrels in your general store, put it into a sealed package, slapped a picture of a Quaker on it and guaranteed it pure. Now it no longer mattered who you bought your oatmeal from, only what brand you chose.

A company’s reputation was once rooted in its owner, but the trademark created this virtual relationship with consumers that was pure fiction. The trust that is engendered by a Quaker has no relationship to the company itself. There are no Quakers involved in that. Crowell was a Presbyterian.

He was also a purveyor of religion. And he did to American Evangelicalism what he did to oatmeal: he packaged and trademarked his brand of Christianity into a form that engendered a wholly fictional trust in its purity. It was that old time religion.

I mean…if you were raised in that culture like I was, doesn’t just reading that phrase make you hear it now…that song you heard over and over…

Give me that old time religion,
Give me that old time religion,
Give me that old time religion,
It’s good enough for me.

Admit it. You’re hearing it right now. You’ll have that ear worm in your head all day. But it wasn’t just a church song…it was an advertising jingle.

I grew up hearing the phrase “that old-time religion” so often it became something you just accepted as fact without knowing how it came to be that in your mind. It wasn’t until much later in life I began to understand that American Evangelical Protestantism was “old” only in the sense that a Ford Model ‘T’ is an old automobile. Yes, yes…the tin lizzy is about as old as they come alright. But the automobile itself isn’t exactly old transportation technology (let’s give a nod of grateful thanks to Mr. Horse), and American Evangelical Christianity isn’t exactly old if you’re measuring back to the time of Jesus. Actually it’s a pretty new thing.

Generously, I just assumed that phrase “old time religion” harkened back to that first generation Americans born after the revolutionary war. That was the time of the “Great Awakening” and it would have been, so I thought, from grandparents and great-grandparents telling their stories to their grandchildren that the phrase “that old time religion” came from. But no…it was pure advertising technique, from the man who convinced people they could trust a brand name more than the local merchant they actually knew, by putting a smiling Quaker’s face and the word “pure” on the package.  His oatmeal had no more to do with Quakers than his “Fundamentals of Christianity” were “old time religion”. But he knew how to sell a product.

And it was when Evangelicalism became a product that it became about money. All those megachurches and TV ministries with their leadership living in lavish luxury can trace their roots back to the moment in history when Evangelicalism became a product rich men sold, and people bought. It’s old time religion like Quaker Oats is Quaker and Country Time Lemonade Flavored Drink Mix is country lemonade.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Old Time Sales Pitch

April 8th, 2015

Now Where Have I Heard This Before…

In my newstream just now…

Tom Cotton: Bombing Iran Would Take “Several Days,” Be Nothing Like Iraq  War

“It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior. For interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions. All we’re asking is that the president simply be as tough as in the protection of America’s national security interest as Bill Clinton was.”

Yeah…yeah…  But as I recall that wasn’t the end of it.  And the next step was advertised as being another several days thing.  If that.  And…it wasn’t…

Time to repost this I reckon…

Flashback…Washington D.C…March 18, 2003

Tuesday afternoon. I am attending a conference on open source software in government being held at George Washington University. I am here because my project manager is investigating the possibility of moving the system I’ve been working on for the past several years to open source software. Work on the Hubble Space Telescope will go into maintenance mode shortly, and the thinking is that the Institute doesn’t want to spend a lot of money it won’t have on software upgrades, simply because a certain vendor has a business cycle that requires you to do that. At least with open source we would have the option of making any small fixes we absolutely needed to have before the end of the mission ourselves, without breaking our systems that depend on it. The alternative is to stick to the vendor’s upgrade cycle, and pray the new versions don’t break anything in our software, or introduce new bugs and security holes.

Between conference sessions, I wander around the Foggy Bottom area, and back and forth to my hotel, which I paid for out of my own pocket, rather then hassle with Washington traffic, which is a nightmare. The hotel has a nice little kitchenette, which allows me to eat reasonably well without further damaging my budget for the month. Around noon I begin the walk back to my hotel for lunch, stopping to examine a decrepit building right next to the conference hall, that I assume is one of the student dorms. It is, and I see by the bronze plaque by the door that this one is named Lafayette Hall. I read the inscription, which briefly describes the history of Marquis de Lafayette, who fought beside George Washington, taking a bullet in the process, for the freedom of a nation that was not his own, and who later attended the first commencement ceremonies of the university that bore his friend’s name, shaking the hand of each of those first graduates. While I am reading, a snarky voice in the back of my mind is saying Freedom Fries…Freedom Toast… An old friend of mine I’d had breakfast with that morning, told me a joke he’d heard about a man who, while visiting France recently, asked a random Frenchman, “Sir, can you speak German?” When the Frenchman replied that he couldn’t, the American said, “You’re welcome.” I told my friend the Frenchman could just as easily have asked the American, “Sir, do you have a king?”

My hotel is somewhat oldish. My room is on the sixth floor and the elevators are small and slow. I press the button and when one finally appears, I see that there are already two businessmen inside. It’s a tight fit for three. As we go up I feel the hair on the back of my neck rise. There are some who you would never know from the look of them, to be of the right wing thuggish persuasion, and there are others who hit you with it in waves, in the cut of the clothes, the bullying posture that is as second nature as breathing, and the coldness of the face, particularly when smiling at nothing in particular. I tune them both out, pulling out from a space within me I’d almost forgotten about, a “Yes I’m a longhair, yes I know you hate my guts, and no mister establishment person sir, I really don’t give a flying fuck” attitude, close my eyes, and listen to the elevator floor counter click off the floors to mine. I toy briefly about writing a book, “Everything I know about living under Bush II, I learned from Nixon”. The old elevator rises slowly. I hear one of my companions say, “I hope they don’t cancel our flight out Thursday.” The other chuckles and says, “The war will be over by then.”

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Now Where Have I Heard This Before…

November 3rd, 2014

Feeling Persecuted Are We…?

Serendipity in my Twitter feed just now…

persecution

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Feeling Persecuted Are We…?

September 29th, 2014

Ultra Rich United

This from Rolling Stone…

Three New Ways the Koch Brothers Are Screwing America

The update [to the documentary film The Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition],  which is now available free online, is centered on their influence in (and outpouring of money since) the  Citizens United  Supreme Court decision. While researching and producing it with his small staff at Brave New Films, Greenwald says he was “surprised by not just the sheer numbers, but the extraordinary lengths they go to legally to hide the amounts they’re giving.”

The Rolling Stone article goes on to document three areas where the Kochs are surreptitiously funding “Think Tanks”, lobbyists and astroturf groups to achieve their political goals.  This is the problem with the argument that even billionaires and corporations have free speech rights too. Yes they do, but they also have a power that the rest of us do not: they can drown out the national dialogue in their own manufactured noise and make it seem like it’s the sound of Americans talking to each other when it isn’t.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Ultra Rich United

July 23rd, 2014

This Article On Soil Conservation In Oklahoma Proves That Same Sex Unions Are Unstable…

Over at Waking Up Now, Rob makes this catch…

Mark Regnerus has gotten a lot of  flack  lately for publicly criticizing a positive Australian report on same-sex parenting, a classic example of the pot calling the kettle incompetent. Hidden in his  critique, though, is a little nugget that deserves more attention.

Regnerus writes that

On the one hand, we know that same-sex relationships in general—across multiple datasets—remain  more fragile  than opposite-sex ones (and to be fair, no group is performing all that well).

…and the link there goes to a study whose author actually says…

In this paper I show that while same-sex couples in the US are more likely to break up than heterosexual couples (Hypothesis 1), the difference in couple longevity is explained by the lower rate of marriage among same-sex couples. Once marriage (and marriage-like unions) are controlled for, same-sex couples and heterosexual couples have statistically indistinguishable rates of break-up…

So…dig it…he uses a study to boost his claim that same sex unions are instable, that itself concludes they are just as stable as heterosexual unions when they can legally marry. The study he cites actually makes a strong case For same-sex marriage, and that instability is due to discrimination, not anything innate about being homosexual.

Citing studies that actually prove the opposite of what they claim is such common behavior now in the kook pews that it’s tempting not to even bother following the links.  But this example shows how it’s always a good idea to follow the links.  Yet you watch people scratching their heads over it. Did he not read what he just linked to??  Understand…it isn’t stupidity, as the commenters of this post suggest, and it isn’t intellectual laziness. Eric Hoffer said propaganda doesn’t fool anyone, it allows people to fool themselves. Regnerus knows his audience isn’t going to follow the links because cites don’t matter, cites never matter, cites have never mattered. What his audience wants from him isn’t facts, what they want is an excuse to keep hating homosexuals. He could have linked to a Consumer Reports article on washing machines and they’d all be nodding their heads in agreement that it proves same sex unions are unstable.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on This Article On Soil Conservation In Oklahoma Proves That Same Sex Unions Are Unstable…

December 13th, 2013

Political Vaporware

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

The Heritage Uncertainty Principle

Conservative health-care-policy ideas reside in an uncertain state of quasi-existence. You can describe the policies in the abstract, sometimes even in detail, but any attempt to reproduce them in physical form will cause such proposals to disappear instantly… It’s not so much an issue of “hypocrisy,” as Klein frames it, as a deeper metaphysical question of whether conservative health-care policies actually exist.

The question should be posed to better-trained philosophical minds than my own. I would posit that conservative health-care policies do not exist in any real form. Call it the “Heritage Uncertainty Principle.”

I take the name of this principle from the emblematic example, the Heritage Foundation’s health-care plan, which formed the primary intellectual basis for conservative opposition to Democratic health-care plans. In 1993, Republican minority leader Bob Dole supported a version of it to demonstrate that Republicans did not endorse the status quo, until Democrats, facing the demise of their own plan, tried to bring up Dole’s plan, at which point Dole renounced his own plan…

In my profession we have a name for this: Vaporware. How it works is, startup company ‘A’ introduces an amazingly inventive software product that instantly attracts the attention of consumers and investors. Established company ‘B’ sees a loss of marketshare ahead, so it announces its own new product…not quite ready for the market just yet…but Real Soon Now…that will be Even Better than company ‘A’s product. This announcement has the effect of making consumers hold off buying startup company ‘A’s product while they wait for the release of company ‘B’s product at which point they will decide between them. But company ‘B’s product does not actually exist, even in alpha form, let alone pre-release beta. So startup company ‘A’ is unable to sell its product and it loses money and investors go away and eventually it goes out of business. And thus, established company ‘B’ has driven a potential threat to its dominance out of business without ever having to produce something of its own.

Eventually established company ‘B’ releases a product vastly inferior to what the now bankrupt startup would have produced, and which exists not to serve a customer need, but only to further preserve company ‘B’s market share.

Understand this: Most republican ideas exist only to prevent enactment of policies that threaten the status quo. They put these proposals out there as a way to get people to stop talking about things that actually stand a chance of being enacted and actually helping improve life for most Americans. Now…you might ask yourself why they don’t just debate the democrat’s policy initiatives seriously, in good faith, honestly, from their own political perspective. If they think Big Government is so bad, if further empowering the state over the lives of Americans is such a dangerous threat to American’s liberty, why not try to convince the voters of this in an honest, straightforward way, instead of offering up deceptive tactical proposals they don’t seriously mean?  So what if their policies aren’t popular with the voters? You can’t change their minds of you don’t give them a reason to, and you think your reasons are better than the democrat’s…right?  And better for the country to have an honest debate about the role of government than a dishonest one.

You might be asking yourself this, because you still think republicans seriously believe in Small Government, and give a good goddamn about the country. But no…small government and patriotism are just more republican political vaporware.  A party that enthusiastically believes in the right of the state to regulate the private sexual conduct of consenting adults isn’t exactly interested in getting government off the backs of the people. A party that keeps coming close to bringing the nation into default on its bonds like it doesn’t give a crap about what would happen if that happened isn’t exactly interested in putting the welfare of the nation first. No. For them to have had an honest debate over healthcare would have meant them telling the voters straight up that they are the party of plutocracy and employer based healthcare is a good way of trapping workers into into dead end low paying jobs and the poor had better die and decrease the surplus population.

Think of republican healthcare proposals not as actual proposals to improve the healthcare of Americans, but as spikes scattered across the road to better healthcare for Americans. This is actually why a lot of libertarian policies get talked up a lot too by the way.  Right wingers have found a treasure trove of useful idiots in Libertarianville and it’s why you see Tea Partiers talking up a lot of libertarian ideas about small government and “free market solutions”. Take for example the counter proposal to same-sex marriage, that government get out of the business of marriage altogether. It isn’t seriously offered, it’ll never happen, it’s vaporware designed to derail talk about same-sex marriage and discrimination against gays and get the conversation bogged down in something else.

by Bruce | Link | React! (4)

December 10th, 2013

Yes Actually, Religious Freedom Means You Have To Treat All Your Customers Equally

Another day, another Fox News martyr in the homosexual war on Christians…

The first civil rights laws, so I hear, were passed not to protect black people or red or yellow people, but to protect Irish Catholics in New York from the religious passions of their protestant neighbors. And in point of fact, religious freedom is only possible where government does not take sides in religious disputes and where the rule of law protects minorities from the hostility of others, whether or not that hostility is motivated by religious passions.

Jack Phillips is not a martyr, he is a bigot attacking the rule of law because it grants people he loathes a little human dignity.   Okay…fine…but in the eyes of the law he can be no different from a bar owner who would like very much to keep selling beer to teenagers because it makes him money, and who regards laws against selling alcohol to minors as an infringement on his freedom to do business as he pleases without regard to the consequences to the rest of the community.   The law does not, can not, care what the religious beliefs of Jack Phillips are, only whether as a businessman he’s abiding by the same rules everyone else has to live by, or whether he’s a greedy predator, caring not whether he tears his community apart in the process of making a buck, just so he can pick through and live quite nicely off the wreckage.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Yes Actually, Religious Freedom Means You Have To Treat All Your Customers Equally

November 5th, 2013

Spitting Into The Mirror

From Politico today, which I will not link to because…Politico…

Reince Priebus: President Obama’s ‘culture of hatred’

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus ripped President Barack Obama for creating a “culture of hatred” in which Democrats are likening the GOP to the Ku Klux Klan.

“It’s the culture that the president’s cultivated here. A culture of dishonesty, a culture of hatred,” Priebus said Monday on Fox News’s “Hannity.”

You don’t say…   A culture of hatred…

Hatred…

Hatred…

like the ku klux klan…

Carefully cultivated…

Carefully…

Carefully…

Carefully…

Carefully…

Cultivated…

And your problem with cultivating hatred for votes is…what exactly?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Spitting Into The Mirror

October 2nd, 2013

Pistol Whipping A Dead Gay Kid Because They Can

Debunking Stephen Jimenez isn’t hard…he was involved in the ABC 20/20 whitewash of Matthew Shepard’s murder and makes the same claims here that 20/20 did years ago.   But it is necessary, not only to defend a kid who can no longer speak for himself, but because it is a trope of the anti-gay industrial complex that hate crimes against gay people are nothing the nation need concern itself with.   Nothing to see here folks…the homosexuals bring it on themselves…and even like it.   There is no pattern of violence.   Homosexuals are not being targeted.   Nothing to see.   Nothing to see…

Debunking Stephen Jimenez’s Effort To De-Gay Matthew Shepard’s Murder

Journalist Stephen Jimenez’s  The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths about the Murder of Matthew Shepard makes the bombshell claim that illicit drug use, not homophobia, was the central factor in the gay University of Wyoming student’s brutal 1998 murder.  Shepard truthers in  the  right-wing media have pounced on the book to  assail hate crime legislation and the larger push for LGBT rights. But Jimenez’s argument is tainted by its reliance on wild extrapolation, the use of highly questionable and often inconsistent sources,  paranoia that critics of his work are engaged in a “cover-up” of politically sensitive truths, and the cavalier dismissal of any evidence that runs contrary to  his central thesis.

Go read the whole thing…you are going to be hearing more about it soon. His book comes out on the anniversary of the murder because that is the perfect time to spit in the faces of people who are still appalled at what happened that night, and determined to put an end to the hatred that fueled it. Jimenez and his soul brother Andrew Sullivan need everyone to stop making such a big deal out of one little gay kid because, perhaps for different reasons, perhaps not, they think it ridiculous.There’s a nugget in this article that I hadn’t understood before, which might explain Sullivan’s need to whitewash Shepard’s murder…

For an author trying to make the case that homophobia played no role in Shepard’s murder, his killer’s use of crude, anti-gay language would seem to pose a significant problem. Not so, Jimenez assures us. McKinney – who described himself as a “drunk homofobick [sic]” in a letter written from prison – was merely trying to imitate the thug image of the gangsta rappers he admired, according to Jimenez. This explanation  is  just as implausible as Jimenez’s bizarre speculation that President Bill Clinton spoke out on Shepard’s murder and championed hate crime legislation in order to divert public attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

(Emphasis mine). So it’s about Sullivan’s Clinton hatred again.   Or back when the 20/20 episode was production it was, and now he’s just sticking to it because it’s out there, and anyway, isn’t all this outrage about what happened to a little twink a bit overwrought? Sullivan has always been an outspoken critic of hate crime laws, and the narrative that hate played any role that night in Laramie had to be debunked.   Because…liberals.

There is nothing mysterious or hidden about the murder of Matthew Shepard. The trial transcripts themselves show clearly, convincingly and overwhelmingly that Shepard not only did not know his killers, but that they beat the 112 pound Shepard mercilessly to the brink of death precisely because he was gay.   Some have said, a tad more plausibly, it was merely a robbery gone bad. But they targeted him because he was gay, and I have been to Laramie, I have driven the route that McKinney and Henderson took as they drove Shepard out of town to the isolated place where they tied him to a deer fence and beat him…I drove it at night around the same time…and I promise you that if you do the same you will, if you are even slightly open to the evidence, come to the only possible conclusion: that they had more than robbery on their minds on their way to the killing place.

Who can say why some people prefer their comfortable conceits to reality. Stephen Jimenez may simply be a publicity seeking asswipe. Or he and Andrew Sullivan may really believe that the facts in front of one’s nose are merely a veneer behind which the hidden conspiracies and plots that really move human events lurk. Perhaps they find the idea that the beating death of a pretty gay boy might genuinely shock anyone ridiculous, the thinking being Shepard was a little twink who went looking for rough trade and got what was coming to him. He’d already allowed himself to be raped once didn’t he? Whatever the motivation, ask yourself who is deeper in the human gutter, the knuckle-dragging killers who hated or the respectable upright whitewashers of hate.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Pistol Whipping A Dead Gay Kid Because They Can

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