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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…



like the ku klux klan…

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

June 8th, 2013

In Theory You Could Add A Check…

The EFF as usual, gets it right

In response to the recent news reports about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program, President Barack Obama said today, “When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls.” Instead, the government was just “sifting through this so-called metadata.” The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made a similar comment last night: “The program does not allow the Government to listen in on anyone’s phone calls. The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the identity of any subscriber.”

What they are trying to say is that disclosure of metadata—the details about phone calls, without the actual voice—isn’t a big deal, not something for Americans to get upset about if the government knows. Let’s take a closer look at what they are saying:

They know you rang a phone sex service at 2:24 am and spoke for 18 minutes. But they don’t know what you talked about.

They know you called the suicide prevention hotline from the Golden Gate Bridge. But the topic of the call remains a secret.

They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don’t know what was discussed.

“In theory, you could add the check of exposing the system to the light of day, but that means wrecking much of its intelligence value”, they’re saying over at Volokh, exposing to the light of day the usual contempt wingers have for democracy. That would be the Voters you’re talking about there Baker, and why goodness gracious the system Was exposed to the light of day, otherwise known as the Voters, we’re all arguing about it now aren’t we, and if they ever catch the whistleblower who let the voters know what their government was doing to them that person will think Bradley Manning had it easy.

But I am just a computer geek who just happens to be working on a space science program which will itself fling a fucking torrent of data back at planet earth for astronomers to make sense of. Every now and then I get a bit worried when I see the disconnect between my understanding of how electronic information systems work and everyone else’s. Then I see articles like that Forbes Magazine one where they described how Target figured out a teenage girl was pregnant before her parents did and sent her helpful offerings of child care products and I feel a little better. Then I see this. Oh they’re not listening to our phone calls, just capturing the metadata…nothing to worry about citizen.

But never mind the metadata. If the deep secrecy going on here, where not just court orders are secret but the government’s interpretation of the laws its supposed to be following are secret too isn’t scaring the hell out of you then I have to wonder why you even bother following the news or taking the trouble to vote.

I am not an anti-government crank. I am a liberal FDR democrat. I believe in democracy. But for democracy to work you need elections, and for those to work you need voters who know what the fuck is going on. Oliver Willis stupid shit reductio ad absurdums notwithstanding. Nobody is demanding Geraldo Rivera follow CIA agents around with a TV camera while Jerry Springer provides a running commentary. But when oversight itself becomes a state secret, when the governments own interpretations of the laws binding it are kept from the voters, then it’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. I am not an anti-government crank, I am a liberal FDR democrat, and I believe in democratic government. And one reason I believe in democratic government is power corrupts. The light of day is a good thing.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on In Theory You Could Add A Check…

November 20th, 2012

Adding More Bullshit To Disguise The Stench Of Bullshit

The fall out, or if you will, belly flop into the gutter for Social Science Research, just keeps getting better

Social Science Research editor  James Wright published the Regnerus study without benefit of valid peer review, for which reason many scholars are calling for the Regnerus study to be retracted and for James Wright to be removed from his position. (To read some of the calls for retraction of the Regnerus study, see  here,  here and  here).In response to the criticism for having published Regnerus without valid peer review, editor  James Wright published — in his November issue — a non-peer-reviewed  defense of Regnerus by Walter Schumm, a Kansas State University sociologist who was a paid consultant on the Regnerus study…

And what credentials does Schumm bring to the table…?

Schumm has a long association with the discredited anti-gay pseudoscientist Paul Cameron. He is on the editorial  board of Cameron’s fatuously-named  Empirical Journal of Same-Sex Sexual Behavior.

Well there’s an authoritative voice if ever there was one!   I have a question.   How does a legitimate, self-respecting, peer reviewed journal of science look at the resumé of someone who sits on the editorial board of a Paul Cameron journal and conclude that person’s scientific judgement makes them fit to print in its pages?

Perhaps Social Science Research should ask Paul Cameron to sit on Its board…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Adding More Bullshit To Disguise The Stench Of Bullshit

November 15th, 2012

You Furnish The Pictures And I’ll Furnish The War

Via Romenesko…

Hudson Register-Star reporter fired after refusing to allow byline on story

The Hudson (NY) Register-Star fired reporter Tom Casey after he refused to allow his byline on a budget meeting story that had two paragraphs inserted by an editor, who apparently wanted to create controversy for an editorial. Here are the inserted grafs:

At the start of the meeting some in the audience were upset over Third Ward Alderman John Friedman’s decision not to stand for the pledge of allegiance. While Hudson City Code does not require council members to stand for the pledge, Fifth Ward Alderman Robert Donahue, who had complained about the matter at a previous meeting and asked Friedman why he did not stand, was visibly upset.

No comment could be reached from either party concerning the matter, and it did not interfere with the meeting.

Sam Pratt reports “Casey had been under pressure by higher-ups at the paper to make an issue of Friedman’s choice, which the Alderman had exercised at some but not all previous meetings. Getting the matter into the body of a news story would give the paper’s management a predicate for writing an editorial about it. The day after the dispute, Casey was reportedly fired by editor Theresa Hyland at the insistence of publisher Roger Coleman.”

So…dig it…Casey’s editor inserted two paragraphs into his story just so the paper could write an editorial, presumably attacking Friedman’s patriotism. The reporter then refused to allow his byline on the story and so the publisher had him fired.   Because not standing up for the pledge of allegiance is a greater crime against America then not standing up for honest journalism and freedom of the press.

Hey Roger…you’d be running a much more efficient operation if you just got rid of all that pesky news gathering fluff you really don’t care about anyway and make your paper just one big opinion section. All your opinions of course…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on You Furnish The Pictures And I’ll Furnish The War

June 27th, 2012

Mark Regnerus: Paul Cameron, But With An Actual University Job

[Cross-posted over at Truth Wins Out…]

There’s a good Huffington Post article making the rounds now, by another professor at the University of Texas…this one an actual professor of sociology as opposed to “associate professor”. Money-quote here:

Had Regnerus walked down the hall and knocked on my door, I would have been happy to explain that stress and instability harm children in any family context. Love and support help children to thrive and succeed. Pseudo-science that demonizes gay and lesbian families contributes to stress, and is not good for children.

Just so. Robert George is probably having a good laugh right now at the fast one he’s just pulled, of kicking the kids of gay parents in the teeth even as his and other homophobes’ concern for their welfare is taken for granted by the corporate news media.

Reading this something that was nagging at me finally clicked. Mark Regnerus is basically Paul Cameron, but with a job at an actual University. Bear in mind, Cameron’s evil genius is in his ability to deftly gerrymander his data while making it seem like his conclusions are purely and honestly arrived at. His original claim, the zombie lie that never dies, that gay men have vastly shorter lifespans, is the classic case in point. When you look more closely, you see that all Cameron did was select a data set that guaranteed he’d get the outcome he wanted. But you have to really look at what he did to see that was what he was doing, and there of course, is the rub.

Eventually intelligent people of good will would see though it and dismiss it as junk science, but people of good will were never his audience. In the end what he was doing, was giving the kook pews something to wave around as proof that persecuting homosexuals is just good public policy and no, they’re not just saying that because they’re a bunch of knuckle dragging bigots.

Stripped away from all its formal academic pretenses, what you see is Regnerus is doing what Paul Cameron has always done: deftly select just the data that will give him the answer he wanted in the first place, in such a way as to appear to the casual observer that he’s not deliberately biasing the data. This is the essential Paul Cameron technique. Mark Regnerus is just another Paul Cameron, but with a University office. Maybe Paul should send him a diploma from ISIS. Grant him a PhD. This was as good a thesis as anything Paul himself could have produced.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mark Regnerus: Paul Cameron, But With An Actual University Job

June 14th, 2012

Everything Old Is New Again

Dig it…

In the 1950s Evelyn Hooker realized that all extant studies of homosexuals were conducted on homosexuals who had been imprisoned for sex crimes, in therapy or committed to mental institutions, and so they were concluding homosexuals were sick because they only studied sick homosexuals. Her 1957 study, The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual was the first to systematically examine homosexual men who weren’t in prisons or mental institutions or undergoing therapy and, surprise, surprise, discovered that if you study gay men the same way you study straight men they look pretty much alike.

In 2012 Mark Regnerus studied broken families with gay people in them, compared them to intact families headed by heterosexuals, and concluded that gay people make lousy parents, thereby proving that the religious right wants social science and the view of gay people to stay back in the early 1950s.

The more things change, the more they stay the same…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Everything Old Is New Again

June 13th, 2012

I Had No Ominous Motivation…Except Of Course, The Obvious One…

Over at Box Turtle Bulletin, poster Rob Tisinai asks “Regnerus Admits He Lacks the Data to Critique Same-Sex Parenting (*so why is he doing it?)” No offense to Rob, but why the hell do you think?

And finally, he grants interviews to conservative outlets, claiming that his study shows the harm of same-sex parenting, even though his own words, in his own study, demonstrate that he knows his sample size is just too damn small to say anything with confidence.

The funding for the study came from the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation. Not only are both of these major hard right money teats, National Organization For Marriage (NOM) co-founder Robert (Super Genius) George is a Senior Fellow at Witherspoon and a Board member of the Bradley Foundation. So the study is also intimately tied to NOM and NOM’s political anti-gay, anti same-sex marriage agenda. And…surprise, surprise, George is also on the editorial board of the Mormon Church owned Deseret News, which ran with Regnerus’ conclusions in both its news and editorial pages. The Mormon church is widely suspected of being the power behind the founding and bankrolling of NOM. If that’s not enough, the study’s author (“of record”, as opposed to “of funding”), Mark Regnerus is a graduate of Trinity Christian College, a former professor at Calvin College, now a sociologist at the University of Texas, with a track record of pushing religious right propaganda posing as research into mainstream news outlets. George knew perfectly well what he was buying with Witherspoon and Bradley money.

What the hell…the motivation here could not be clearer if it was written in neon lights. How does anyone not know why Regnerus is saying his three quarter of a million right wing dollar study proves that gay parents damage children regardless of what the data actually says?   It’s Anita Bryant and Save Our Children again for the zillianth time because that’s the song they know works when the polls start tilting in favor of Teh Gay and push comes to shove. Didn’t NOM play that song over and over during the proposition 8 campaign? The homos are coming for our children! We must Save Our Children from the homos!

As Kate Kendell says over at The Huffington Post, the Regnerus study is a hit piece, pure and simple.   Is saying so going too far?   Over at The Daily Beast David Sessions wags a finger

that his methodology is suspect does not automatically make him a “right-wing author” who wants to “disparage lesbian and gay parents.”

Oh bullshit. Look carefully here…first at Mark Regnerus responding to critics in the July 2012 issue of Social Science Review, as reported by Jim Burroway over at Box Turtle Bulletin

I recognize, with Paul and Cynthia, that organizations may  utilize these findings to press a political program. And I concur with them that that is not what data come prepared to do.  Paul offers wise words of caution against it, as did I in the body of the text. Implying causation here—to parental sexual orientation  or anything else, for that matter—is a bridge too far.

And here is is talking to Kathryn Jean Lopez over at The National Review

Well, in the generation that are adults now, kids raised in a same-sex household were more likely to experience instability and shifting household arrangements. For example, 14 percent of kids whose moms had a lesbian relationship reported spending more time in foster care, well above the average of 2 percent among all respondents.

This is the usual second act in the anti-gay dance.   First, publish your hit piece.   Then when the gays react angrily, put on your best innocent face and claim that you aren’t pushing the anti-gay agenda that you are pushing.   Take offense at any suggestion you are motivated by animus toward gay people

I elected NOT to make this about orientation or self-identity. You suggest more ominous motivation, but I assure you that was not true.

Your accusations are getting more heated, and I’m afraid unless we can correspond civilly, I may have to call a conclusion to this.

Hang tight…we’ll be hearing shortly about all the gay friends Regnerus has.

I have a wee suggestion for mainstream news media journalmalists, bloggers, folks who may just be a tad curious about it all: if you want to know what the motivations are behind this study, don’t bother asking the parties involved directly.   Go listen to what they say to each other.   In their publications, on their talk radio stations, on their blogs and newspapers and magazines.   Go to the hard right, where they talk to each other, and just…listen.   It’s all there…everything you need to know about what motivates them and what they hope to achieve.   If you ask them straight up they will look you right in the face with a warm and friendly smile and lie through their teeth. If you just sit back and listen to them talk to each other you will get the hard cold brutal truth of it.   Animus does not even begin to describe how they feel toward gay people.   Or toward you, for that matter.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Had No Ominous Motivation…Except Of Course, The Obvious One…

May 24th, 2012

Please Take Our Excuses More Seriously Then We Take Them Ourselves

Good post today over at The Southern Poverty Law Center…

National Organization for Marriage Continues to Spread Lies About Gays

Last Nov. 15, the Ruth Institute, a project of the NOM Education Fund, published the first eight paragraphs of an essay by anti-gay activist Michael Brown that asked what topic even far-right radio host Rush Limbaugh might be afraid to bring up in the face of “political correctness.” The part of the essay on the Ruth Institute website didn’t say what that topic was, but gave a “Keep Reading” link to a site run by an openly gay-bashing hate group, the American Family Association.

There, it took readers another three paragraphs to get to the red meat: “Could it be that the [Penn State] sex abuse scandal involved a man allegedly abusing boys, meaning that the acts were homosexual in nature? And could it be that even Rush Limbaugh didn’t have the guts to address this? (Contrary to the protestations of some, a man who is sexually involved with boys is a homosexual pedophile; a man who is sexually involved with girls is a heterosexual pedophile.)”

Note…The Ruth Institute is a project of the NOM Education Fund. So here is another example of NOM, via one of it’s arms, slyly waving around the rhetoric of a hate group. The SPLC article goes on to note…

To NOM’s many critics in the LGBT community, this is par for NOM’s course. For more than a year now, gay rights activists have alleged that NOM is playing a shell game, avoiding the most egregiously false defamations of gay people on its own website, but linking directly to others who don’t. The charge had enough impact that Maggie Gallagher — who co-founded NOM in 2007, is past chairwoman of the board, and remains a key NOM spokeswoman — felt forced to respond.

In a Dec. 9 post entitled “A Link Is Not An Endorsement,” Gallagher said such an argument “would lead to the absurd conclusion” that NOM agrees with the editorial positions of The New York Times or The Advocate, an LGBT newspaper. She didn’t mention the fact that the anti-gay article “leaders” on NOM’s site are almost always presented without any hint of criticism and, to all appearances, do seem to be endorsed by NOM. Some are simply republications of essays without any introductory commentary, while others feature laudatory introductions.

For example…

Just this Dec. 7, for instance, NOM’s Ruth Institute posted a gushing recommendation for a book titled Same-Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk, a jeremiad by Mathew Staver, head of the anti-gay Liberty Counsel. “Anybody who cares about the future of our society should read this book,” NOM said.

The 2004 book that NOM says “gives you real answers” isn’t further detailed on the NOM site, but it is jam-packed with precisely the kind of misinformation that Gallagher suggests she abhors. Perhaps most remarkably, the book claims that “29 percent of the adult children of homosexual parents had been specifically subjected to sexual molestation by that homosexual parent, compared to only 0.6 percent of the adult children of heterosexual parents… Having a homosexual parent(s) appears to increase the risk of incest with a parent by a factor of about 50.”

Staver’s citation for this hair-raising claim is remarkable — a debunked 1996 article co-authored by Paul Cameron…

Again and again, NOM seems to come back to pedophilia…

Go read the whole thing. It’s something that needs to keep being pointed out about NOM, over and over and over, because by now it should be obvious that NOM is in fact just playing a shell game. We are not a hate group, because we didn’t actually write any of the hate propaganda we keep feeding the public…

Every time Gallagher or Brown gets on TV, smiles into the camera, puts on their best look of innocence and says that they bear their gay neighbors no hate it needs to be pointed out that if they don’t, they sure like trafficking in it.

If I ran a political action committee dedicated to outlawing doors that lock, and I quoted voluminously from the writings of burglars, funded burglary educational groups, linked to the web sites of burglars and spoke glowingly of the posts on breaking and entering, invited burglars to my conferences and my political rallies, how convincing would I be if I told you that I found burglary abhorrent, that I only want to outlaw locking doors because I want to prevent children from getting accidentally locked out of their homes?


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Please Take Our Excuses More Seriously Then We Take Them Ourselves

May 19th, 2012

Sometimes The Pat Answer Is The Right One After All

Sullivan today

The longer I am in this debate, the more something emerges. Most people don’t really care much about gays. The subject doesn’t come up; and most adjusted straight men do not feel passionately on the subject one way or the other. And so you notice patterns. You find that most of the really impassioned anti-gay activists are just as motivated by personal passion – whether as an early victim of sex abuse (Paul Cameron), or as the father of a gay son (Charles Socarides), or as a single mother abandoned by her boyfriend (Maggie Gallagher), or someone fighting to restrain their own gay feelings (Ted Haggard, Larry Craig) – as pro-gay activists are.

He’s commenting on the story that the father of anti-gay junk science Paul (homosexuals live an average of 36 years) Cameron acknowledged finally his homosexual urges, saying that he’d been sexually abused as a child.   You would watch that creep on various TV interviews and your gaydar would go off like a fire alarm.   The only thing that surprises me here is he finally admitted it.   Yeah, yeah…he claims he’s overcome his urges.   Spends every waking hour of every day obsessing about the homosexual menace, but he’s overcome those homosexual urges. I’m going to overcome my chocolate chip cookie urges by spending nearly every waking hour thinking about chocolate chip cookies.

There was a time I understood what Sullivan is saying there to be occasionally true, but just too pat to rely on as an explanation for the extremely passionate homophobes. Now…not so much. Decades of seeing it over and over and over…it’s the other shoe that almost always drops eventually.   Oh, they have a gay child…oh, they had a gay spouse…oh, they were abused as kids…oh, they’re gay…

But make no mistake, you also see the thoroughly heterosexual anti-gay crusader, who cheats on a spouse, has their own history of sexually abusing other people, or otherwise fails morally in some miserable spectacular way, and needs a scapegoat. And that’s where we come in. Newt Gingrich. Rush Limbaugh. They’re not all dealing with their own private confictedness about homosexuality, but they’re all nursing a private moral failure they need a scapegoat to dump it on.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

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

April 30th, 2012

The Gutter Takes Offense

They’re saying Dan Savage has stirred up a hornet’s nest…

Dan Savage Speech Controversy: ‘It Gets Better’ Creator Offends Christian Students

Dan Savage offended some Christian teens when he told them “We can learn to ignore the bull—t in the Bible about gay people.”

After many students walked out of the speech, one of whom appeared to be crying, Savage said, “It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.”

Right on cue the usual suspects wing up the noise machine…

Fox News reports that Savage’s comments upset the executive director of GOProud, a gay conservative group.

“Dan Savage should apologize for his comments and should apologize to the high school students in attendance whom he called ‘pansy-asses,’” Jimmy LaSalvia told Fox. “It is ironic that someone whose claim to fame is fighting bullying would resort to bullying tactics in attacking high school students who were offended by his outrageous remarks.”

There is so much to unpack here.   Firstly, the headline.   This is that right wing propaganda everyone has bought into over the years, that the only authentic Christians are the right wing bigots and everyone else is just faking it.   How many of the kids who stayed to hear what Savage had to say, regardless of what they thought of it, also identified as Christian?   We don’t get that information in any of the mainstream news stories I’ve seen on this.   No, no…it was Christians, capital ‘C’ who walked out and who Savage tossed a going away insult at.   Those were the only Christians in that auditorium that day.

Secondly, Savage didn’t stir up anything…that bubbling open sewer that calls itself the moral majority needs no stirring, it is always on the boil.   This incident wouldn’t look more like the usual case of right wing manufactured outrage if those kids were wearing t-shirts that said “We Are Here To Take Offense At Anything You Have To Say”.   I am expected to believe that none of the kids in that group who walked out knew who Dan Savage was or what his positions were on sex, gay sex, and the bible am I?   Right.   Pull the other one.

Suddenly it’s We’re Not The Bullies, Dan Savage Is The Bully, Because He Insulted Us!!! Yes.   Yes he did.   And a well earned insult it was too.   In the Twitter fury that followed, LOLGOP Tweeted: “I’ve not yet met one conservative Christian who is considering suicide because of bullying as thousands of LGBT youth do every day.”   Just so.   It is grotesque to watch the right wing noise machine compare Dan Savage’s crack about the kids walking out of his talk to what gay kids deal with every day of their lives, usually at the hands of kids like the ones who walked out.   This from The Christian Post:

The 17-year-old California student, whose name was not given, told CitizenLink’s Karla Dial that Savage said people using the Bible to justify their views on homosexuality being a sin often cite Leviticus and Romans in saying that “being gay is wrong.”

“Right after that, he said we can ignore all the ‘B.S.’ in the Bible,” the student told CitizenLink, which is affiliated with faith-based organization Focus on the Family.

The student said she suddenly reacted by blurting out “That’s bull!” before storming out of the auditorium along with several other students. Savage reportedly called the students pansies upon noticing their exit.

That passage in Leviticus Savage was telling them was BS, and which the student there is righteously affirming, calls for homosexuals to be put to death, adding “Their blood is upon them”.   Yes, we can throw death threats at our classmates and we’re just quoting the bible, but if you call us pansies you’re a bully.

Look at what this tells you about the mindset here.   It was a rash of gay kids killing themselves at the beginning of the previous school year that prompted Savage to start his “It Get’s Better” campaign, which has never gotten anything but raspberries from the wingers.   Yet now they rise in a righteous howl of anger at a small group of fundamentalist kids being called pansies.   Look at it.   No…really look at it.   These are people who just can’t figure out why tormenting gay kids to death would be such a big deal with anyone other then it’s some kind of political posturing. The way they see it we’re posturing so they get to posture too. That gay kids are being made so miserable by the torrent of hatred being directed at them that they want to kill themselves just doesn’t seem like it should be such a big deal to the wingers.

And the reason for that is simple, obvious, and sickening.   The way the right wing sees it, if the kid is gay then being treated like human garbage is what they should expect.   Because they are.

Think I’m engaging in hyperbole there?   When did you ever see the kind of outrage on the right toward the tormenting of gay kids that you are seeing now being directed at Dan Savage after he called the fundamentalists who walked out of his talk “pansies”.   When have you ever heard a winger get upset at gay kids being called that?   Cut me a break.   They call gay people that and worse all the fucking time and they don’t particularly care if gay kids get called names or not.   Who is fighting tooth and nail to prevent anti-bullying campaigns from specifically protecting gay kids from being bullied?   The same people who are bellyaching about what Dan Savage said to a group of fundamentalists, that’s who.

How often do I have to see this before I’m allowed to call it what it is?   The way the right wing sees it, the way fundamentalist bigots see it, it is only natural to treat gay kids like human garbage.   Because they are.   God hates them.   My bible tells me so and if yours doesn’t you are not a Christian.   Make no mistake, the outrage here isn’t entirely manufactured, but if you think it’s out of sympathy for the kids Savage insulted you are still not getting it.   The problem isn’t that Dan Savage insulted a group of fundamentalist kids.   It’s that he told them to leave their gay peers alone, using language they routinely use against their gay peers.   He stood up for the gay kids.   There’s where the anger is coming from.

Brutalizing gay people is one of their most cherished religious sacraments.   You mess with that and you will hear the gutter scream like they are being crucified.

[Update…] “Theirs was not an act born of suffering. It was a proud show of disdain.” – Christian author John Shore.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Gutter Takes Offense

January 10th, 2012

You Keep Using That Word, ‘Think’…

This cracks me up

In the current issue of the center-right policy journal, National Affairs, former Bush domestic policy adviser Tevi Troy worries about the decline of Washington think tanks into partisan messaging operations.

Stop…stop…you’re killing me.   Seriously, on what planet were most beltway think tanks, and especially AEI and Heritage, ever not partisan messaging operations?

Yes, yes, liberal “think tanks” exist, but how many global corporations and multi-billionaires are going to fund a think tank that starts from an ideologically liberal economic position?   Right wing and conservative “think tanks” basically rule the beltway discourse and you always know what their conclusions will be, and which party will happily benefit from them.   Their non-partisanship is a farce.   They are think tanks like Intelligent Design is science.

There’s a rule of thumb about think tanks: If you already know what the conclusion is before you pick up the paper and read it, it is not a think tank. Rand is a think tank.   Let me explain by this example from Wiki:

In 1958, Democratic Senator Stuart Symington accused the RAND Corporation of defeatism for studying how the United States might strategically surrender to an enemy power. This led to the passage of a prohibition on the spending of tax dollars on the study of defeat or surrender of any kind. However, the senator had apparently misunderstood, as the report was a survey of past cases in which the U.S. had demanded unconditional surrender of its enemies, asking whether or not this had been a more favorable outcome to U.S. interests than an earlier, negotiated surrender would have been.

See how that works.   They asked a question they didn’t already know the answer to and set about to answer it.   No ideology, just answers. AEI and Heritage, to name two, begin with the answer in the form of an ideological position (unconditional surrender is always the most favorable outcome) and try to figure out a way to message that for the benefits of republicans.

What these organizations do is tactical rhetoric, not thinking.   Thinking is where you search for answers, not fashion attractive political battle flags.   Thinking takes you into undiscovered places.   That’s not allowed in organization like AEI, which Frum found out when he got the boot for not towing the line.   These are party instruments, nothing more nothing less.   They exist precisely to discourage thinking.   You are told what to think.   Or at any rate, what to say that you think.

Witness the decline in American governance.   We can’t confront the real problems that exist because our institutions of government are mired in ideologies which demand fealty over everything else.   Facts don’t matter, only the party matters, and free thinking is treason to the party.   And so our ability as a nation to grow and prosper into the 21st century is limited to what the ideologies in power will allow, and that isn’t much.   We were promised a shining city on a hill.   What we got were factories closed, wages devastated, pensions lost, entire neighborhoods in foreclosure and state and local governments teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.   Yet the ideologies that promised us that shining city are never held to account.   For all the think tanks in Washington, not a whole lot of thinking is actually going on.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on You Keep Using That Word, ‘Think’…

December 4th, 2011

Who Is John Doe?

I suppose by now you’ve seen a few of these…

Behold Atlas, holding the world upon his shoulders…beset upon by socialist moochers, second-handers and looters…

…not.  Let’s be real here…no welfare queen ever had a larger sense of entitlement then the tea partiers.

Its easy to point and laugh at signs like the one above…and this one…

But it isn’t just the crazies who’ve been taken in and lit up by the right wing noise machine.  To one degree or another, the nation as a whole has accepted a  disastrously false  economic construct: that the economy is driven by businesses, banks and wealthy investors.  Producers produce wealth, consumers consume it.  Producers build factories, establish businesses, engage in commerce and thereby create jobs…almost as a side effect of their economic  vitality.  It’s their world, they built it, these Atlases of commerce.  The rest of us just live in it. Without the Atlases the rest of us would have nothing.

Hence the bellyaching about going Galt.  It’s like the constantly nagging and entitled parent or grandparent who keeps warning You’ll be sorry when I’m gone and after so many years of it you’ve begun planning a party to celebrate the event.  There’s a scene in Atlas Shrugged where the worthless playboy Francisco d’Anconia (secretly an agent of the Galt’s Gulch strikers) talks with industrialist Hank Rearden, owner of Rearden Steel and inventor of Rearden Metal.  They are at a party at Readen’s  magnificent  mansion.  They stand at a window as a storm rages in the night outside…

“It’s a terrible night for any animal caught unprotected on that plain,” said Francisco d’Anconia.  “This is when one should appreciate the meaning of being a man.”

Rearden did not answer for a moment; then he said, as if in answer to himself, a tone of wonder in his voice, “Funny…”


“You told me what I was thinking just a while ago…”

“You were?”

“…only I didn’t have the words for it.”

“Shall I tell you the rest of the words?”

“Go ahead.”

“You stood here and watched the storm with the greatest pride one can ever feel – because you are able to have summer flowers and half-naked women in your house on a night like this, in demonstration of your victory over that storm.  And if it weren’t for you, most of those who are here would be left helpless at the mercy of that wind in the middle of some such plain.”

…and just never you mind the people who designed and engineered that house, who mined its marble floors and brass and gold for its fixtures, who felled and milled the trees and laid the bricks and stones.  See…they don’t even exist in the right winger frame of mind, let alone the world of Ayn Rand, except as looters, moochers and second-handers, leaching off the vitality of the world’s Atlases like vampires.  But without all those looters, those second-handers, those moochers paying rents for their own modest apartments, or buying their own modest homes, purchasing their own little economy cars and appliances, patronizing various merchants, making the building of all those things economically viable, Hank Rearden’s  foundries would have nothing to do and his magnificent mansion would have never been built and he’d be shit out of luck on that open plain too.

Whose, really, is the motor of the world?  Nick Hanauer, himself a venture capitalist,  sees where it really is:

It is unquestionably true that without entrepreneurs and investors, you can’t have a dynamic and growing capitalist economy. But it’s equally true that without consumers, you can’t have entrepreneurs and investors. And the more we have happy customers with lots of disposable income, the better our businesses will do.

That’s why our current policies are so upside down. When the American middle class defends a tax system in which the lion’s share of benefits accrues to the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer.

And that’s what has been happening in the U.S. for the last 30 years.

Since 1980, the share of the nation’s income for fat cats like me in the top 0.1 percent has increased a shocking 400 percent, while the share for the bottom 50 percent of Americans has declined 33 percent. At the same time, effective tax rates on the superwealthy fell to 16.6 percent in 2007, from 42 percent at the peak of U.S. productivity in the early 1960s, and about 30 percent during the expansion of the 1990s. In my case, that means that this year, I paid an 11 percent rate on an eight-figure income.

One reason this policy is so wrong-headed is that there can never be enough superrich Americans to power a great economy. The annual earnings of people like me are hundreds, if not thousands, of times greater than those of the average American, but we don’t buy hundreds or thousands of times more stuff…

I can’t buy enough of anything to make up for the fact that millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans can’t buy any new clothes or enjoy any meals out. Or to make up for the decreasing consumption of the tens of millions of middle-class families that are barely squeaking by, buried by spiraling costs and trapped by stagnant or declining wages…

We’ve had it backward for the last 30 years. Rich businesspeople like me don’t create jobs. Middle-class consumers do, and when they thrive, U.S. businesses grow and profit…

So let’s give a break to the true job creators. Let’s tax the rich like we once did and use that money to spur growth by putting purchasing power back in the hands of the middle class. And let’s remember that capitalists without customers are out of business…

The meme, the Randian dogma, the right wing spin the nation has bought into since Reagan sold us on it, that it is the rich industrialists who create jobs.  No. Customers create jobs. The flow of money from employer to employee to employer again creates jobs.  Building factories and office space where there is no demand for goods, simply because you suddenly have tons of money to do something with, is what happens in this thing they call a Bubble. Hey…let’s build a factory because we can! No demand, no sales. No sales:  bankruptcy. The factory closes, the employees loose their paychecks, the money stops flowing, the motors…were…stopping…

We’ve seen how that works, time and time again in the past thirty years, yet the right wingers keep insisting if we just give more free money to the rich they’ll build factories, or offices space or something and then the rest of us will have jobs.  But nobody sane builds a factory if it isn’t bloody likely to sell anything that it makes.

No. The super rich won’t build factories.  Not if there is no money to be made doing that.  And if they can plainly see there is an easier way to make money, they’ll do that instead.  And for them these days, there is.  It’s called Wall Street. So if the middle class is dying, how are the rich making money these days…?

A newly-released study from the Congressional Research Service bolsters claims that the nation’s largest banks profited off the Federal Reserve’s financial crisis-era programs by borrowing cash for next to nothing, then lending it back to the federal government at substantially higher rates.

The report reinforces long-held beliefs that the banking system in essence engaged in taxpayer-financed arbitrage: They got money for free, then lent it back to Uncle Sam while collecting juicy returns.

They make paper profits by moving money back and forth among each other, and then when that blows up in their faces, they take it from the taxpayers…the middle class and the poor.  Obviously they’re fine with that system and don’t want it touched.  But it is not sustainable and they are not just putting the economy at risk, but our very democracy.

You see, trickle down economics really does work…but only from the middle down.  I grew up in the world Hanauer speaks of.  I remember it well.  I was raised by a single working mother back in a day when women made maybe 60 cents on the dollar a man made for doing the same work.  I wore a lot of hand-me-down clothes mom got from the church, but I never went out the door in dirty clothes.  We ate a simple, very bland English diet, but I never went to bed hungry.  I got a decent education because back in the late 50s and early 60s we were in a cold war with the Soviet Union and public education was something the nation was keen to spend money on so we didn’t loose the  technological  race.  There were good jobs (at least if you were white).  And all those high paying union jobs went to families who spent that money on goods and services, not at the Wall Street casino.  And that made it possible for poorer, service sector workers, even single mothers, to still earn a living wage and raise kids.  I know this.  I am one of those kids.

Yes, when government sucks money out of the economy in the form of oppressive taxes, that will stifle economic growth and kill the middle class too.  But taxation isn’t the only worry and big government isn’t the only threat to the economy. You can kill the middle class by sucking their wages out in the form of taxes, but you can also kill it, as we are clearly seeing now, by slashing wages in order to maintain  astronomical  profits that do nothing more then grease the roulette wheels of Wall Street.  Big business can be every bit the threat to the economy and to democracy that big government can be.

There need to be brakes put on both.  For the sake of our cherished freedoms, and our children’s and their children’s.  Libertarianism, with its dogma of unregulated unfettered capitalism utterly removes the brakes on big business.  Anyone with eyes to see and a mind not completely corrupted by ideology can see in the decades after Reagan sold us that shining city on a hill what comes of that.  If the totalitarian police state is one side of a coin, Libertarianism is the other.  Heads, power collects in the hands of the few, the people become their slaves, the economy grinds to a halt and the country tailspins into economic collapse.  Tails: see heads.

Democracy gave the common man and woman, gave humanity as a whole, a level of  prosperity  that would have astonished the peasants who labored under the kings of old.  To live, it needs a robust and energetic economy.  And to have that, you need a stable and prosperous middle class.  Because those people take their money and they spend it on Things…on goods and services that other people earn money making…and that keeps the money circulating and the economy humming along.

John Galt isn’t the motor of the world.  John and Jane Doe are.

1943, Female Welder at Work in a Steel Mill by Margaret Bourke-White

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