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June 15th, 2011
The Silence That Speaks For Itself
by Bruce |
Andrew Sullivan this morning:
Last night, it struck me that every single statement on gay rights by the GOP candidates, however brutal, could have been leavened by some small concession that gays are serving their country honorably, that gays are a part of many families and indeed the American family, that they should not be demonized by the majority, etc. But none of the candidates could say a single positive thing. Or rather they believed they could not survive a GOP primary by saying anything even vaguely positive about gay Americans. In some ways, that’s more telling.
If in the process of conducting your political campaign you give a silent consent to hate then you are just as much a part of the mob as if you had born one of their torches yourself and screamed for blood. Anyone who cannot muster the moral backbone to denounce hate is unfit to be director of public parking, let alone president of the United States. It is that simple.
June 8th, 2011
From Our Department of It’s Only Wrong When Homosexuals Do It…
by Bruce |
[Posted on Truth Wins Out, May 23, 2011...]
So this little nugget from the California Catholic Daily breezes across my news screen this morning…
In case you missed it, yesterday was Harvey Milk Day in California…
The Catholic Daily goes on to note the proclamation of Harvey Milk Day issued by Governor Jerry Brown. Of course they couldn’t let all this pass without denouncements of “sexual brainwashing” from the usual gang of bigots and political thugs posing as “Pro-Family” advocates. I’m putting scare quotes around pro-family because…seriously…you really can’t claim to be pro-family while at the same time trying your damnedest to rip to shreds families that don’t conform to the model that’s actually in the minority of family types these days. It’s like saying you love the human race except for all those people who aren’t straight, white and male.
Among those participating in the news conference…were [SaveCalifornia.com] president, Randy Thomasson, several parents and retired teachers, and Dr. Benjamin Kaufman, co-founder of NARTH…[who] called on “mothers and fathers to warn their children’s public school teachers not to honor” Milk.
I see. Randy Thomasson and NARTH want mothers and fathers to warn their children’s teachers about…what was it again…?
“Children are being led down a wrong road by the glorification of Harvey Milk,” Thomasson said in a statement following Gov. Brown’s proclamation. “An official ‘Harvey Milk Day’ promotes the unnatural and unhealthy homosexual, bisexual, and transsexual lifestyle to minors. Just as Harvey Milk ignored the health risks of homosexual behavior, his legacy will be to pull even more young people into this disease-prone lifestyle. Just as he advocated for openly homosexual teachers as role models, ‘Harvey Milk Day’ will train boys and girls to follow a worse role model — Milk, a predator of teens who knew no sexual boundaries or sexual danger.”
Okay…I have a question. Is the Catholic Church really going to go after Harvey Milk day on the basis that he preyed sexually on teenagers? That the game plan?
Sexual boundaries. Yes. Do let us know when you’ve found some.
[Edited a tad to limit quoting...]
January 12th, 2011
Crazy People, Guns and Gun Control
by Bruce |
This is another edition of what Atrios said… Actually, Rotwang…
It is very difficult to get someone committed against their will, unless they have committed violent acts. After all, I’m still at large. In states with big public sectors, aid for the mentally ill — assuming they accept assistance — can be very spotty. There are agencies with phone numbers, but try calling and getting some service. (I have.) In Arizona, forget it.
The icing on the cake is that in some places almost everyone has access to firearms. Efforts to deal with guns or magazines or bullets are doomed, like Prohibition or ‘The War on Drugs.’ There are just too many around, and too many people who want them. Better coverage of mental illness would be worthwhile, but it wouldn’t stop homicidal people from reflecting back the hostilities of extremists with prominent platforms. We know who the extremists are.
P.S. I would concede that some kind of gun control would make it more difficult for incompetent, crazy people like Nutboy to get guns. As crime control, however, forget it.
P.P.S. An attack of this intensity on a Congress person is an exceedingly rare event, so in that sense it’s futile to diddle with ‘how could this have been prevented.’
Glenn Greenwald Tweets somewhat sarcastically, “Remember the 1960s, when 1000s of people were involuntarily locked up in insane asylums and there were no assassinations? http://is.gd/kAbza”
I remember part of the impetus for getting people out of the asylums was far too many were committed who didn’t really need hospitalization, and the ones who did weren’t getting it as long as they were being held safely out of public view. In far too many cases they were more dumping grounds then hospitals.
It’s tempting to engage in a little sarcasm myself when I hear my fellow liberals start yapping about gun control now. Hey fellas…I’ve got a Swell idea on how to lower the temperature of the rhetoric in this country…let’s start making noises about gun control…!
Yes…this will certainly lower the temperature of the dialogue in this country. But then there’s this…
Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) health care-era “you lie” interruption of President Obama is now reportedly being commemorated with a place on a new, limited edition line of assault rifle components.
The Columbia Free Times reports that the words are being engraved on a series of lower receivers manufactured for popular AR-15 assault rifles. Lower receivers are one of the primary pieces of the firearms.
“Palmetto State Armory would like to honor our esteemed congressman Joe Wilson with the release of our new ‘You Lie’ AR-15 lower receiver,” the weapon manufacturer’s site writes on the product description. “Only 999 of these will be produced, get yours before they are gone!”
I believe the 2nd amendment guarantees the right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms. I believe that freedom is part and parcel of democracy itself. And I despair. Never mind the lunatics who are selling the above back handed incitement to kill a president (I sincerely hope the Secret Service is watching where those rifles are going!). Never mind the NRA’s grotesquely dogmatic stances on gun regulation and crime. The biggest reason we can’t have a rational discussion about gun control in this country is the gun control crowd was very successful back in the 70s in convincing people that their ultimate aim was to eliminate private gun ownership in this country. People quite correctly concluded that even the smallest most perfectly rational regulations on gun sales and ownership was just a first step toward total confiscation. That wasn’t paranoia…it was often stated quite openly by gun control groups.
That seems to have changed on the democratic side of the isle. Good. But it isn’t enough to get us to where we need to be regarding guns. There’s a lot of things I think we could do, including bans on high capacity clips for instance. But the first step has to be acknowledging Americans, if they are peaceful and law abiding, do in fact have a basic right to own their own guns, which is to say, the means to defend themselves.
How denying that somehow became a staple of democratic politics completely baffles me sometimes. I understand and share the liberal democratic impulse to hate war, revere life, nurture love and defend liberty, to work for justice and toward the peaceful society where we are all equals in the eyes of the law. I am completely disgusted by the the republican lock them up and throw away the key approach to crime. That we incarcerate a higher percentage of our own citizens then any other industrialized nation should be a matter of shame to all of us. But if democrats represent the interests of the common everyday working people as opposed to the rich and powerful, then they really need to remind themselves from time to time that the lot of the common people is not greatly improved by rendering them defenseless.
I am not going to stand here and argue that had someone in Gifford’s crowd been armed some or all of the killings may not have happened. I’m certainly not going to argue that a state that can’t at least Try to keep guns out of the hands of mentally unstable people isn’t asking for trouble. The argument I often hear that an armed society is a peaceful one seems grotesque on its face. You need your gun when the peace has broken down, not when its alive and well. So the first thing is to nurture the peace.
I was bullied horribly during part of my grade school years, the middle school ones, and it left me with a perfect understanding of how it is that your personal safety and security is ultimately on you and you alone. You need to prepare yourself for the worst. But having a fire alarm in your house is a pathetic excuse for playing with matches and gasoline. What…I had a smoke detector…why is my house on fire…?? The bromide is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But turn that around. Guns don’t make a peaceful society either. People do. And one way you Don’t make a peaceful society is this:
That last is from an ad that was televised in West Virginia as part of the campaign to enact an anti-same-sex marriage amendment in that state. It’s a family in the crosshairs of an unseen homosexual sniper. More specifically, the unseen homosexual sniper is targeting their children. This is what gets people killed. This is what makes a society violent. This is creating the climate of hate that can set off a mentally unstable individual. But also the perfectly, murderously sane gay basher. Your gay and lesbian neighbors have been on the receiving end of this hate incited violence now for decades. What’s changed is now the right is doing it more broadly, and more openly, and with even less compunction. What we’ve been seeing in this country in recent years, your gay and lesbian neighbors have been seeing for decades. A climate of hate, meticulously, relentlessly cultivated for political and social ends.
There’s your problem. Not guns. Hate. Last Saturday it was a crazy man. Tomorrow it might be the chillingly sane. Timothy McVeigh. Eric Rudolph. Scott Roeder. One political party has been ginning up hate as a way to win elections for decades now. The problem is when the inevitable violence results the other party responds by calling for more gun control, as if that’s even possible in a nation that hates itself as much as this one is starting to.
I understand that first amendment freedoms are sacred to a democracy. If we can’t talk to each other we can’t govern ourselves. Speech, even ugly disagreeable speech, is a right government cannot be allowed to trample on without opening the door to tyranny. Our ability to speak truth to power depends on that freedom. My hope is the killings in Arizona can finally, finally, enable us to also speak truth to hate without fear that we could sabotage freedom of speech in the process. If we don’t confront hate we will loose that too. Hate will silence the democratic dialogue if we let it, and then we Will loose our precious democracy.
All the gun control in the world won’t matter if we hate each other enough. And if we love and care about each other as neighbors, as fellow Americans, regardless of race, creed or religion, then guns cannot do us any great harm. Just there in the background, like the fireman’s hose if you need it, but the point is not to. How much crime could be eliminated if we actually cared about each other as fellow Americans enough to make our schools strong, and the economy work for everyone? How many gun accidents could be avoided if we cared about each other enough that we held our neighbor’s safety, and their children’s, as if it were our own? Yes actually, guns do kill people. When people hate each other enough. If you’re worrying about the availability of guns in this country you are worrying about the wrong thing.
November 20th, 2010
Hate Does Not Differentiate Between Gay And Transgender
by Bruce |
Today is the National Transgender Day Of Remembrance…
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality conducted the largest survey of transgender discrimination. Among its findings were one quarter of transgender people lost a job for being transgender and high rates of housing instability and homelessness. The survey also revealed double the rates of poverty for transgender people compared to the general population. The data indicate that transgender people have higher vulnerability to violence. It also found that more than half of transgender and gender non-conforming people who were bullied, harassed or assaulted in school because of their gender identity have attempted suicide.
Gender non-conforming people… A lot of people fall into that category who might mistakenly assume that violence toward transgendered persons isn’t any of their concern. But the gay man casually holding the hand of the man he loves, the uppity straight woman, the insufficiently masculine and aggressive boy, all are regarded as fair prey by thugs, and for exactly the same reason.
“I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex – but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings. On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary. It is a mistake for various interfering, ignorant, and biased busybodies to try to “counsel” the other children into accepting the abnormal. It is very healthy to be able to draw the line between what is healthy and what is sick.”
-Joseph Berger, NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee
Many people who read that when it first hit the blogstream were appalled. What kind of man actually advocates bullying a child? But it is a vanishingly short distance between aggression toward adults perceived as weak, and children who are by nature vulnerable. The mindset of the adult who would excuse the one, is unlikely to shrink from the other, or even understand that it is wrong.
There are two parts to the gay rights struggle. There is the freedom to love and be loved in return. There is the freedom from the closet, to live our lives openly, honestly, as the persons we actually are. No decent society denies these to its own. Our struggle then, and those of our transgendered neighbors, are one and the same. Against gender conformity. Against hatred of difference. But understand also, that the struggle of transgendered people in the broader sense reminds us that the American dream of liberty and justice for all is still very much an unfinished business.
November 16th, 2010
Well I’ll Probably Never Fly Again
by Bruce |
What do I have to change my name to so I can get on one of those No-Fly lists? Seriously.
Amid criticism over intensified airport screening measures, Secretary Janet Napolitano defended the Department of Homeland Security’s use of full-body scanners and pat-downs as essential to “match the changing threat environment that we inhabit.”
“This is all being done as a process to make sure that the traveling public is safe,” she said, adding that officials would “have an open ear” if adjustments to the new rules needed to be made.
Got an open ear do you?
Good thing I actually like long distance road trips. But hopefully in my lifetime the great ocean liners can start making a comeback. Please. I would still like to see the world someday.
October 9th, 2010
There Are Some Things Google Just Can’t Give You An Answer To…
by Bruce |
Scanning my server logs, I see someone hit my site today with the following Google search string…
why are democrats not defending themselves against republicans
I think the answer is Because they are democrats, but what do I know…
August 16th, 2010
Images From A Sideshow Running Away With The Circus…(continued)
by Bruce |
Here’s some shots of the counter-demonstrators…
As I said previously, the main contingent of the counter-demonstrators came in two waves shortly after the NOM rally began. But even as NOM was setting up there were a handful of individuals there on the sidewalk near them, quietly speaking their truths. And among these was Mel White and his companions from Soulforce. I saw Mel occasionally walk over to some of the NOM folks and chat with them for a while. What was said between them I have no idea: much as I would have like to have snapped some photos of those conversations, I kept my distance. At 56 going on 57, I have a very negative opinion of the possibility of changing minds, let alone hearts of any of these True Believers. But I deeply respect anyone who still believes in their heart that it can be done. So I stay out of it. This is why I am not a professional news photographer. The spirit of Weegee laughs at my deference to the better angels.
More and more I am seeing at these demonstrations, young heterosexual couples who see this struggle as their own too. And it is. Only on its face is this a fight about homosexuality. Look closer. It’s a fight over the right to love and be loved, waged by the power hungry war mongering human gutter, that throughout history has viewed the power of love as the essential enemy to be smashed wherever it exists. The gay rights struggle is the lover’s struggle.
There were also lots of individual folks bearing simple statements in support of the right to love. Sometimes you thought you saw another lonely heart, determined to stand up for what in their own lives is yet to be…
As I said, the main force of counter-demonstrators came in two waves. The first was peaceful and positive. The second wave were a tad angrier. And…louder. They were quickly asked/ordered to move further down the plaza, away from the NOM event.
I understand this anger perfectly well. And I am not going to sit here and pontificate that this sort of demonstration is counter-productive. The other side turns us into scarecrows they can safely fear at a distance, and defeat with bar stool valor and junk food religion. They need to see that we are as human as they; and there is nothing less surprising on this earth then the sight of humans who have been attacked getting angry, and fighting back. When people are denied the dream of love, when that ability to love another, and accept their love in return is gutted out of them, what is left?
I have have said often, that the one who fights this fight and doesn’t put their head down on the pillow every night, just a little bit angrier then the night before, just a little more angry then they thought it was humanly possible to be angry, isn’t really paying attention. But it is oh-so easy for anger to become hate. And hate will kill your soul.
This is the lover’s struggle. When all you have left in it is anger, you are done for. It is for love that we fight. Every moment you can put anger aside and remember that, you defeat hate.
Images From A Sideshow Running Away With The Circus…
by Bruce |
Here’s some of the shots I took at the NOM rally in front of the Capital yesterday…
They held the rally in front of the Capital south wing, which is right across from the Supreme Court building, but you really couldn’t see the court all that clearly for all the trees. The rally was mostly tucked away in one corner of the grassy park there in front of the south wing. This is what the crowd looked like, just a few moments literally, before Bishop Coles brought his cavalry in. It was almost exclusively white, and very nearly half media and NOM organizers.
Brian Brown getting a tad heated in front of a media lady just before the rally started. I don’t know what she may have asked him but he’d been really nice and polite to the media there, even the gay media, before this.
A couple NOM supporters brought their kids along. Most of the early arrivals were older folks. You didn’t start seeing many young people there until Bishop Coles’ cavalry came along.
That LET THE PEOPLE VOTE chant was an early hit with the crowd. Here they are while Brian Brown gives it a few turns.
Sometime into Bishop Coles’ speech a larger group of counter protesters arrived. (There had already been a few individual counter protesters there, including Mel White and Soulforce companions, as NOM was setting up.) The first wave of them just made themselves quietly known with signs around the perimeter of the event. NOM tried to have them removed, but the Capital Police told them basically that as long as they were quiet and didn’t interfere with the event they had a right to be where they were.
Some gay folk wandered around the NOM crowd during the event. I don’t know if this couple were with the larger group of counter protesters or not. The man’s t-shirt reads: Together 14 years, Married 1 year, 2nd class citizens every day.
Walter Fauntroy, with some other clergyman whose name I thankfully don’t know, waiting to speak. The white clergyman was there when NOM was setting up so I assume he was one of their local organizers. And unlike Bishops Jackson and Coles, he actually paid attention to all the other clergymen as they spoke. He didn’t talk much with the crowd though. Coles worked the crowd a little bit. Jackson was working the media.
Bishop Coles right after his speech, walked off the sump and whipped up the crowd with that LET THE PEOPLE VOTE chant. Black people were denied voting rights in this country for generations after then end of slavery. But those same rights were not won back by the ballot, but in the courts. The lesson that the courts have an important role to play in protecting the rights of all Americans, and that the basic human rights of minorities are not a popularity contest, seems to have escaped a lot of folks there. Prejudice does that to a person. Oh…YOUR rights don’t count…
July 20th, 2010
Anxiety In The Hills Of Zion
by Bruce |
The preacher stopped at least, and there arose out the darkness a woman with her hair pulled back into a little tight knot. She began so quickly we couldn’t hear what she said, but soon her voice rose resonantly and we could follow her. She was denouncing the reading of books. Some wandering book agent, it appeared, had come to her cabin and tried to sell her a specimen of his wares. She refused to touch it. Why, indeed, read a book? If what was in it was true, then everything in it was already in the Bible. If it was false, then reading it would imperil the soul.
-H.L. Mencken, The Hills of Zion
Some days I marvel at how lucky I was, to enter grade school when I did, just when the Soviet Union was scaring the hell out of the United States. Looking back, it’s astonishing to me now, how utterly taken for granted it was, that all American kids needed, and by god were going to get if the feds had anything to do with it, a good education in the sciences. The Soviets had launched Sputnik, which meant their missiles could hit any city in the U.S. They were going to own a good chunk of planet Earth and outer space too if we didn’t get up to speed. Suddenly having science in the classroom Mattered. Things are a tad different now.
As soon as I saw it in my morning Google news page, I knew it would be spreading through the kook pews like wildfire by days end…
The Roots of White Anxiety
In March of 2000, Pat Buchanan came to speak at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. Harvard being Harvard, the audience hissed and sneered and made wisecracks. Buchanan being Buchanan, he gave as good as he got. While the assembled Ivy Leaguers accused him of homophobia and racism and anti-Semitism, he accused Harvard — and by extension, the entire American elite — of discriminating against white Christians.
A decade later, the note of white grievance that Buchanan struck that night is part of the conservative melody. You can hear it when Glenn Beck accuses Barack Obama of racism, or when Rush Limbaugh casts liberal policies as an exercise in “reparations.” It was sounded last year during the backlash against Sonia Sotomayor’s suggestion that a “wise Latina” jurist might have advantages over a white male judge, and again last week when conservatives attacked the Justice Department for supposedly going easy on members of the New Black Panther Party accused of voter intimidation.
To liberals, these grievances seem at once noxious and ridiculous. (Is there any group with less to complain about, they often wonder, than white Christian Americans?) But to understand the country’s present polarization, it’s worth recognizing what Pat Buchanan got right…
That the Nazis couldn’t have killed all those Jews? That if Britain had not waged war on Germany there wouldn’t have been a Holocaust? Oh…wait…
Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-length study of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus, was which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.
[Emphasis mine...] Never mind that we’re actually not talking about White Anxiety here but Rural White Anxiety. Never mind that not all American Christians are white, let alone rural. Never mind that this…analysis…comes from Minding the Campus, which is a Manhattan Institute front group (Especially never mind that one of their published authors is Bell Curve author Charles Murray, who explains that black people have lower IQs not because poverty and racism limit their educational opportunities, but because they’re just…well…genetically inferior. Please do never mind that!)
Here’s the problem:
If all you’re seeing there is a religious verses science struggle you are missing it. This isn’t about religion verses science, this is about two utterly different and incomparable views of what constitutes knowledge. In the Christianist, fundamentalist view, knowledge is something that is received. In science, knowledge is something that is discovered.
The difference is profound. One group of kids gets taught how to think, how to ask questions, how to evaluate, how to make independent judgments…and the other gets taught to be afraid of questioning authority and to always defend the tribe against outsiders. And the worst kind of outsider is the one who stops blindly accepting everything they’ve been told by their tribe. Edjucatin’ will do that to a kid. What you aren’t getting, is the entire grade school life of rural white kids these days is now being carefully, meticulously geared toward preventing a higher education from ever taking root.
But cultural biases seem to be at work as well. Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.”
It is not the “gatekeepers of elite education” keeping rural white kids from getting into their schools Douthat you drooling moron, it’s their fear and loathing of anything that doesn’t righteously affirm their fundamentalist, tribal culture. It’s the knee jerk reflexive hostility to that very education that their world view is drilling, drilling, drilling into them, that’s keeping them out of America’s big universities.
And it’s nothing new. It has been going on, and getting worse and worse, since Scopes. I was lucky…so incredibly lucky…that I entered grade school for one brief shining moment when nobody was paying any attention to the howls from the kook pews. (Thank you Khrushchev!) A kid today from the rural bible belt part of America who wants, really wants, that higher education has had the cards stacked against them by their grade school experience. They haven’t been taught how to think critically, because that might lead them to question the story of Noah’s Ark. They haven’t been taught how to sift through a set of facts to find an answer, because the culture they grow up in not only instills in them a knee jerk hostility to any fact that contradicts eternal tribal truths, it also teaches them to hold onto ideas that are palpably, laughingly false against even the most staringly obvious facts, in defense of those truths.
And it’s getting worse. Now their schools are on a roll to dumb down their curriculums even more.
Texas Board of Education cuts Thomas Jefferson out of its textbooks.
The Texas Board of Education has been meeting this week to revise its social studies curriculum. During the past three days, “the board’s far-right faction wielded their power to shape lessons on the civil rights movement, the U.S. free enterprise system and hundreds of other topics”:
– To avoid exposing students to “transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else,” the Board struck the curriculum’s reference to “sex and gender as social constructs.”
– The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”
– The Board refused to require that “students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others.”
– The Board struck the word “democratic” from the description of the U.S. government, instead terming it a “constitutional republic.”
Tell me how a university is supposed to try and teach those kids…anything. Those school boards are grimly determined to keep their kids from crossing over to the other side in the culture war…the side where the pursuit of knowledge isn’t just a good thing, but a great adventure…and in the process they’re locking them behind their own down home version of the iron curtain. A university admissions officer is going to look at their school system and know right away that kid will never make it past their first year, possibly not even their first semester, and they simply won’t bother with them. That’s not the university’s fault. It’s one thing to make room for an urban minority kid whose disadvantage is money, and another to give that seat to a rural kid whose disadvantage is money and Intelligent Design.
And yes, it is very, very bad for this country to have it divided into well educated urban citizens verses people who have had any genuine desire to Learn pummeled out of them by a culture scared to death of anything resembling independence of thought. I would argue that the “gatekeepers of elite education” really do need to do some serious educational outreach to the white rural population. But do you understand the explosion of bitter hate and resentment that reaching out to those communities, trying, really trying hard, and with energy, to bring them science, world literature, logic and semantics, and all the humanities that they’ve been mocking for generations as “effete”…do you understand the nuclear explosion that would follow? The howls of “elitist cultural aggression” would be defining. And their republican enablers would take to the talk radio airwaves and cable TV junkyards with proof…proof mind you, that the elites were trying to brain wash their children…possibly to make them gay…ban the bible, impose a socialist new world order and sell their white women to the negros as reparations.
Try…just try…to bring the rural white population into higher education in greater numbers and they’ll just dig themselves even deeper, deeper into the gutter, to prevent their children from ever learning anything that might make them question that bedrock of bigotry, paranoia and resentment their culture sits and sulks on. I can appreciate that urban minorities have their own host of problems preventing them from getting into the better Universities… poverty… crime… violence… a general breakdown of family and community. But the problem isn’t that “the gatekeepers of elite education” are prejudiced against low income white people. The problem is that a kid in a drug gang infested urban slum whose school is falling apart because their city has no money actually has a better chance of leaving grade school being able to think for themselves then a kid from bible belt America does.
He argued that the gift of tongues was real and that education was a snare. Once his children could read the Bible, he said, they had enough. Beyond lay only infidelity and damnation. Sin stalked the cities. Dayton itself was a Sodom. Even Morgantown had begun to forget God…
[Edited and expanded a tad for clarity...]
January 20th, 2010
Wait…What…? I Thought We Could.
by Bruce |
First they sold out the gays, and we said nothing because we weren’t gay. Then they sold out the liberals and we said nothing because we weren’t liberals. Then they sold out the progressives and we said nothing because we were moderates. Then they sold out the moderates and we said nothing because we were moderates. Then they started loosing elections…
September 9th, 2009
Why I Am Disappearing Into Disney World For A While..
by Bruce |
Starting…uh…well, right now actually…I’m going on a wee vacation. My birthday is Saturday and I am going to spend a week in Disney World. I’ve got a room inside the enclave, in The Caribbean…one of the middle-tier resorts. I’ve stayed there before and it is lovely. It’s also well located, almost right in the middle of the enclave, to get to everything. My plan is to go through the gates and forget about the world outside for a week.
On The Road With Orly
Esquire has a great story about the conservo-crazy cult which he colorfully describes as "pus exploding from a wound." When you read the article, you’ll see just how apt this description is. Here’s just a little excerpt:
Almost immediately following the election, a rash of extreme but nonetheless important statements about Obama and his agenda started appearing in the media. Here’s a small but representative sample, lest we allow the latest Dobbsian rhetoric (or Chuck Norris) to obfuscate the chorus:
1. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said the bailout was the start of America’s downfall. "To abandon a market-oriented society and transfer it to a Soviet-style, government-centered, bureaucratic-run and mandated program, that is the thing that will put the stake in the heart of freedom in this country."
2. Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas said that Obama intended "to inflict damage and hardship on the free enterprise system, if not kill it."
3. Congressman Ron Paul of Texas said that "socialism" was too mild a word for what Obama was doing because taking over corporations "adds a fascistic aspect to socialism."
4. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said she wanted her constituents "armed and dangerous" because Obama was planning "re-education camps for young people." She also said that "Thomas Jefferson told us having a revolution every now and then is a good thing."
5. Ambassador Alan Keyes called Obama a communist who is trying to establish "an American KGB."
6. Rush Limbaugh Show guest host Mark Davis told a joke about a soldier who has only two bullets in his gun when he meets Osama Bin Laden, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi — and uses both bullets on Pelosi before strangling the other two.
7. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama put his considerable weight behind the "birther" movement: "His father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate."
8. Legislators in thirty states filed Tenth Amendment "sovereignty" laws as a symbolic gesture of defiance to Washington.
9. Tens of thousands of YouTubers watched a video called "Revolution Now," in which a masked man claiming to be a soldier and an "anonymous American patriot" warned of growing resistance within the military. "There’s a revolution brewing," he said. "We have allowed the tyrants to take over this country."
10. Seven percent of the country thought, at a time when the Republicans were almost unanimously resistant to everything the Democrats proposed, that the GOP was being too cooperative. That’s roughly 21 million seriously alienated people.
But nobody vibrated with the new sense of alarm more vividly than Fox’s new talk-show host, Glenn Beck. "The year is 2014. All the banks have been nationalized," he began one show. "Unemployment is about between 12 percent and 20 percent. Dow is trading at 2,800. The real-estate market has collapsed. Government and unions control most of business, and America’s credit rating has been downgraded."
In another, he sounded exactly like a militia member from the backwoods of Montana: "They’ll take away guns, they’ll take way our sovereignty, they’ll take away our currency, our money. They’re already starting to put all the global framework in with this bullcrap called global warming. This is an effort to globalize, to tie together everybody on the planet!"
Beck called for resistance and talked about storming Washington, selling T-shirts blazed with the pitchfork of an angry mob — and all of this led to startling success. Debuting last January in a weak 5 P.M. time slot, Beck shot to the No. 3 cable-news slot overnight, right behind Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity with 2.5 million viewers.
And all of this was nothing compared to the alarmed citizens raging away on his Web site:
* Obamacare meant that "bureaucrats are going to decide who lives and dies," one said.
* The new pro-union card check law was "possibly the greatest threat against American free enterprise ever," said another.
* People were "better off trusting their mattresses" than the greedy bankers, said another.
* There were "35 terrorist training camps spread across the U.S.A." that were run by Sheikh Gilani from Pakistan, said another.
* Homeland Security "deliberately ignores the border and the redistribution of wealth is NOT constitutional," said another.
* Others solicited signatures for a new "martial law early alert" system and suggested that people download a video that "completely destroys the myth that Barack Obama is working for the best interests of the American people."
* "GET YOURSELVES HUNKERED DOWN WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS," one woman advised. "GET PASSPORTS AND START LOOKING NOW FOR INEXPENSIVES SAFE PLACES TO GO — THE U.S.A. IS OVER AS WE HAVE KNOWN IT."
Militia groups with gripes against the government are regrouping across the country and could grow rapidly, according to an organization that tracks such trends.
The stress of a poor economy and a liberal administration led by a black president are among the causes for the recent rise, the report from the Southern Poverty Law Center says. Conspiracy theories about a secret Mexican plan to reclaim the Southwest are also growing amid the public debate about illegal immigration.
Bart McEntire, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told SPLC researchers that this is the most growth he’s seen in more than a decade.
"All it’s lacking is a spark," McEntire said in the report.
Swell. Just swell.
I was saying all during the Bush years that the shit doesn’t really hit the fan until the kooks start Loosing power. That’s when you’ll see the crazy start. Well. Here we are.
Swell. Just swell.
I need to remind myself what the world looked like back when I was a kid.
Especially these days.
No, no… Not merely cartoon mice and Mary Poppins. But that world where the future was always going to be brighter, where technological progress made life better, not worse. Where science and the pursuit of knowledge weren’t just good things, but great adventures. Where you could smile at the stranger you passed on the street, and not have to wonder if they wanted to stab you in the back. Where it really is a small world after all. People forget that this is what Disney was all about once upon a time too. I’d forgotten it until that first trip I took down to Orlando, and then it all came rushing back. There was a world I was delighted to be living in…once. I need to go visit it from time to time now, in my adulthood.
This isn’t an escape from reality. This is reminding myself why the struggle for that better tomorrow is worth it.
August 11th, 2009
They’re Hoping…Without A Doubt They’re Praying…For Another Dallas…
by Bruce |
So it has led to This…
Town hall disruptions around the country have led to some outbreaks of violence. Unions participating in town halls have received death threats. At an event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) last week, the threat of violence led her aides to call the police after one attendee dropped a gun.
And now…Oh look…someone was found toting a gun where President Obama is scheduled to speak …
MSNBC just aired footage of the crowd gathering at the Obama town hall meeting on health care that’s supposed to start later today in New Hampshire and pointed out one man in a group holding protest signs with a gun in a holster on his hip. Apparently not a law officer, but a civilian.
If some nutcase shoots the president this nation will know full well that it was Fox News and all the other tentacles of the republican party noise machine, who incited it. They’ve been screaming for months now that President Obama wasn’t born in America, isn’t legally president of the United States, is secretly a Muslim, is a socialist-fascist tyrant who wants to shovel senior citizens into death camps. This is hatemongering rhetoric that has been winked and nodded at by the party leadership, when they haven’t been excusing it outright. It isn’t just that the extremist fringe has taken over. The party leadership aren’t nutcases, just consumed with bringing down a democratic president. If they have to bring down America in the process too, they’re fine with it. They Know What They’re Doing. They are republicans first and Americans second. If this president is killed by the hysteria they have been cynically whipping up, the nation will hold them responsible. There will Never be another republican president, let alone a republican congress, if the worst happens now.
They need to step back from the edge. Now. Or face the judgement of the nation, and the world, and history.
Gay Americans…Republican’s Cynical Weapon Against Democrats Since Truman
by Bruce |
You hear some folks bellyache about those "Gay Studies" curriculums in various colleges and universities. If they’re not complaining that they’re utterly worthless exercises in pointless "diversity", they’re insinuating that the courses couldn’t be about anything but how to have gay sex.
I’ve never gone through one of these curriculums myself, but if the vast treasure trove of gay history that’s out there is any measure, a Gay Studies course isn’t just a nice idea for promoting diversity, it’s an important part of the human story. Particularly here in America, where gay citizens have been a punching bag, a handy scarecrow, for every hysteria that’s ever swept through the country. Case in point, the red scare of the 1950s.
I’m only part way into David K. Johnson’s The Lavender Scare, and already its challenging some of my bedrock views of what happened to my country during the so-called McCarthy era. Far from being merely a sideshow to the communist witch hunts of the 1950s, the purges of gay Americans were central to it. And…surprise, surprise, the engine for it all was republican hunger for political power.
Right at the beginning of the book, Johnson describes, using newspaper accounts of the time, interviews, and newly declassified documents, how the republicans in the late 1940s, out of power since Hoover brought on the great depression, saw the issue of homosexuals in government as a useful weapon against the party in power.
They orchestrated a hearing in which they pressed the secretary of state for information about communists in the state department. But it was a game of tag. In the process of defending themselves against the republican charge that they had allowed communists to get and hold jobs in the state department, the democrats described how they were diligently ferreting out "security risks". Far from being lax said the democrats, they’d uncovered and removed 91 "security risks" from the state department.
Which gave the republicans an opening to press them for details. How many of those were communists? It was a question the republicans already knew the answer to, because they’d had all the details in a closed door hearing previously. What they wanted was to get it out in the open. And the democrats, backed into a corner and not wanting to leave it hanging out there that they’d let so many communists into the state department when they hadn’t actually, said, that in fact none of them were communists, nobody had been let go from the state department for disloyalty. The 91 people fired were not accused of being traitors. Just…you know…security risks. Pressed further they admitted that these people had all been fired because they were homosexuals.
That was what the republicans wanted to hear, and get into the papers. Not a communist threat, but a lavender one. Why? Because it was felt that the moral issue played even better against the democrat’s base…working class and poor Americans, then the communist threat did. In other words, it made a great wedge issue against the democrats. And right from the beginning, when Joe McCarthy began waving around his baseless claims of a vast communist conspiracy lurking in the federal government, some republicans…even in his own state…were counseling him to downplay the communist thing and play up the morals charges more, because for one thing they actually were finding homosexuals working in government agencies, but mostly because it made the voters in the democrat’s base even angrier.
McCarthy of course, didn’t take that advise. He pressed on with his communist bogyman and the question echoed in the committee chambers of capital hill, are you now, or have you ever been a communist? But while McCarthy was busy stirring up the Communist Menace and getting headlines, the republican party was busy stirring up the Homosexual Menace and a great purge began which…ironically…led to the formation of the first gay rights groups as gay people began to get tired of being kicked around and started pushing back.
Later, during the black civil rights movement, the republicans would go on to exploit white working class racial fears against the democrats in exactly the same way. But here, even as far back as the late 1940s, you can see them using the Homosexual Menace as a tool to divide and weaken the democrats. Because accusing the democrats of tolerating homosexuality worked even better then nearly anything else the republicans could throw at them…even communism. And it wouldn’t stop working, until we gay Americans, having had enough of it, took to the streets in defense of our lives.
You want to know why it’s so damn important that we make a big deal out of our sexual orientation? Why we don’t just quietly "leave it in the bedroom where it belongs"…? This is why. Because our lives were turned into cannon fodder for the power dreams of politicians and that needs to stop. This country needs to look…really look…at the character of those loud voices bearing moral crusades, waving around scarecrows that have their neighbor’s faces on them.
The moral rot that is on plain view every night on Fox News and in the many health care "town halls" going on all across the country…in the "birthers" and the "deathers"…it isn’t new. Not at all. What’s different now is the gutter that all those country club republicans began playing to back in the Truman years has taken over, and they have their own voice now in the national news media. And you need to understand this: those country club republicans would be fine, even with that, if it could keep them in power.
Perhaps you could see this just as clearly from looking at the history of race relations in America, and republican party race baiting. But the history of the struggle of gay Americans for equality and justice is American history too, and you really see what the republican crusade for "morality" and "family values" is made of when you study it.
[Edited a tad...]
August 10th, 2009
The Fox Speaks For The Chicken Coop…
by Bruce |
Via Sullivan…a handy little snapshot of the state of the Union…
As the GOP declines in popularity, Fox News gains audience. Or in other words, as reality presses closer in, that subset of the American population who never saw a fact they couldn’t look right in the face and deny, is cocooning. Surprise, surprise.
What was once a cultural divide has become a chasm, bigger, and vastly more dangerous then anything the "generation gap" of the 1960s could have produced. Again, from Sullivan…
A reader writes:
I just want to share a sad story with you. Tonight I was at my regular Friday night AA meeting in LA that I have been attending for 18 years – I am a 48 year old woman. One of my oldest friends, a male with 30 years sobriety, is a Republican. I am a Democrat. Every week he talks politics with another like-minded friend. Tonight he arrived a bit later than usual, so as I gave him a hug, I said, "Thank goodness you arrived because I am sure Betty* (name changed) did not want to discuss politics with me!"
He then turned around and started screaming at me. I was so taken aback, I didn’t even know what he was screaming about at first. When I finally tuned in, he was yelling that Obama "sent the SEIU thugs to beat up the senior citizens" protesting at the health-care town hall meetings and that Obama had instructed the SEIU "if they come at you, you go at them twice as hard."
When I tried to reasonably protest this statement, he just spewed forth a tirade of vile invectives.
We were outside and there were about 30 people milling about. I was shocked, embarrassed and literally frozen in place. I managed to turn and walk away. This is a man I have known and respected for the entire length of my sobriety. I am fairly certain this friendship is over. Reasonable discourse is over. The lies and hate spread by the right-wing have won. As a side note, his wife, who is one of my best friends would not talk to me for over a month after the election in November. I am just heartbroken. Sorry, I know this is not the most well-written account, but I am so shaken, I can barely wrap my head around it.
I have an acquaintance…someone I used to call "friend" but simply cannot anymore…who nonetheless calls periodically. I wrote of my frustrations about that Here. Last time he called I ended the conversation when he started going on about how the new supreme court justice Sotomayor was a racist. Next time he calls I’ll have a simple question ready for him…
Do you think President Obama was born here in the United States?
End of story. Life is short. The American Dream is still beautiful and I believe in it and you don’t anymore. There is are lot of things Americans need to discuss with one another and hash out together and the politics of life in a democracy is you have to have those discussions and maybe even a few major arguments and in the end you compromise and you hold a vote and you get on with it. But you’re not there anymore. You’re somewhere on the dark side of the moon where not even light can penetrate. We can’t talk anymore, and to have an America Americans need to be able to talk with each other and you want to shut down the talking so everyone can listen to you scream about nothing for as long as you have the breath to scream about it. Fine. The conversation is shut down…with you. I’ll talk it out with anyone who has a gripe about what I think or what I believe, no matter how angry they are…but not with a Fox News crack addict. You drag yourself out of that gutter and maybe I will. But not before.
Welcome, My Heterosexual Friends, To The Front…
by Bruce |
Via Sullivan…this little nugget from the front lines from Daily KOS…
It is, in short, a movement made up of the enfranchised and enabled; people who have gained every benefit from the politics of America and yet who feel in their very bones that they are the oppressed ones, the ones who have nothing left to lose, so rapidly is America falling away from them. It is rare to run across any movement so deeply angry — or more to the point, a movement which explicitly celebrates anger as the primary mission of their activism. They are not willing to listen to any factual evidence that contradicts their own beliefs in whatever dark conspiracies have been peddled to them; they have in fact made it their publicly proclaimed mission to block any such explanations from even being attempted.
This could be a description of the anti-gay movement in America ever since Anita Bryant. Enfranchised and enabled? Check. They have every right that their gay neighbors are fighting for. Every. Right. Feeling in their very bones that they are the oppressed ones? Check. It’s a constant refrain. Militant homosexuals are oppressing them. Somehow. But don’t ask how exactly because all you’ll get are either vague claims that their "deeply held religious beliefs" are being trampled on every time they’re told to leave gay people alone, or if not that, then outright lies. Remember this?
Another "Yes on 8" canard is that the continuation of same-sex marriage will force churches and other religious groups to perform such marriages or face losing their tax-exempt status. Proponents point to a case in New Jersey, where a Methodist-based nonprofit owned seaside land that included a boardwalk pavilion. It obtained an exemption from state property tax for the land on the grounds that it was open for public use and access. Events such as weddings — of any religion — could be held in the pavilion by reservation. But when a lesbian couple sought to book the pavilion for a commitment ceremony, the nonprofit balked, saying this went against its religious beliefs.
The court ruled against the nonprofit, not because gay rights trump religious rights but because public land has to be open to everyone or it’s not public. The ruling does not affect churches’ religious tax exemptions or their freedom to marry whom they please on their private property, just as Catholic priests do not have to perform marriages for divorced people and Orthodox synagogues can refuse to provide space for the weddings of interfaith couples. And Proposition 8 has no bearing on the issue; note that the New Jersey case wasn’t about a wedding ceremony.
We’re being oppressed…by having to live by the same rules everyone else does…
Not willing to listen to any factual evidence that contradicts their own beliefs? Check. Not only are they not willing to listen to the facts, they’ve built a multi-million dollar industry with dozens of front groups whose only job is to churn out one lie after another about gay people which they insist everyone else accept as holy writ, whereas any actual science is regarded as pro-homo propaganda. Publicly proclaimed their mission to block any actual facts from coming to light? Check. From keeping honest, factual information about sexual orientation out of schools, to keeping it out of public libraries, to keeping it off of television, there is no public space that the facts about homosexuality and sexual orientation can appear that they have not vigorously…and I mean vigorously…worked to shut it down.
This Daily KOS post could have been written years ago, decades even, about about the anti-gay culture warriors. But it isn’t about the fight over gay rights. It’s about the struggle for America…
The Rise of A Postmodern Racist Movement?
There seems little question that something odd is going on with the healthcare debate. Foremost is the ridiculous extent to which the debate has been entirely commandeered by flagrant, outright lies — things about euthanasia, and death panels, and the like, abject propaganda peddled directly from House and Senate offices. We have had lying in our discourse since the beginning of that discourse, but it has been a long while since the fabrications have been so blatant, so absolutely without even the smallest grain of truth. To take a Republican-sponsored healthcare provision that rather innocently and uncontroversially extends insurance coverage to those that want to create their own living wills and turn it into a declaration that the government will decide every five years whether or not you should be euthanized is something out of the Protocols, or out of Saddam’s Iraq, or a mimicry of the worst and most stupid and most absurd of North Korean propaganda towards their own citizens.
Likewise, the explicit instruction to protestors not to debate, but to aggressively attempt to shut down the meetings entirely — not normal. It is perhaps the best possible approach for insurance lobbyists to take, if their goal is to protect the profits of their industry — but it is still not normal. We have always had the fringes of such speech, but I cannot recall a time it has been so celebrated as the formal solution to political debate. Certainly not by a major political party, coupled with the majority of their most popular pundits and talking heads, coupled again to lobbyist groups with long histories of corporate astroturfing. And the proud shuffling just-up-to-the-line-of-violence, right in the very faces of their own representatives of Congress, requiring police protection in order to escort those elected representatives safely from the meetings — that part is new. That part is not normal.
It’s been normal in the battle for gay rights for decades now…you’re only just now noticing it, because they’ve moved beyond us. But you have to understand this: you’ve always been the target too. A free, just, and proud America has always been their target. The America of liberty and justice for all has always been their target. Because in that America, they’re then just a bunch of ignorant runts, resentful that the universe doesn’t revolve around them, resentful of everything fine and noble human beings can be, they they never will because it’s too much work.
You haven’t seen the hate like your gay neighbors have seen it. Now you are. Surprised? Shocked? Just wait until you realize, really realize, that there is no bottom there.
One thing to keep in mind is that race, and racism, have rarely ever acted alone. One of the best points that Phillip Dray makes in his classic history of lynching is that epidemics of lynching often coincided, not just with an expansion of black rights, but with increased labor mobility among white women. So fear of white women, and their independence, as well as fear of sexual competition, all worked in concert. It wasn’t simply "I hate niggers" — it never is. It was "I don’t much like black people, and prices are going up, and I have to let my wife work, so I can survive, and I’m scared she won’t stay with me if she’s not dependent on me and I’d die if she left me for a black guy." Or some such.
Ditto for the Civil Rights Movement. It wasn’t just racism — it was class also. In the South you had this black middle class that always had to be deferential to the most poorest white person in the world. The prospect of losing that deference, of already being lower than the white aristocracy and now also being lower than a class of blacks too, wreaked havoc.
We’ve got governors yelling about secession, and major politicians peddling stories of imminent threats to your family and your children by the very government they are supposedly a part of, and every day the town hall footage just seems to look more and more like a modernized version of the mob attacks against citizens and legislators during old anti-desegregation rallies, and we don’t need to say "sooner or later someone will be shot" because it has already happened, and multiple times, and in truth it never really left us, these last fifty years.
It wasn’t about desegregation. It wasn’t about feminism. It wasn’t about gay rights. Those were just the flashpoints…the excuses. It wasn’t about any of those things. Not ever. Think about the other major event of the last half of the 20th century…the cold war. Think about the Iron Curtain. Think about the Berlin Wall. Think about all those people who were shot, trying to get over it to freedom. Think about what was going through the minds of the people who gave the order to shoot and kill those wall climbers. What this has always been about: The Gutter…resentful, hating everyone who ever managed to rise above them, fearful of being left alone in the gutter, afraid of the day when the walls all fall down and everyone who can leaves them behind and all they’ll have is each other to look at, and to blame.
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com