Saturday, March 25, 2006

In contrast to Plastic Pregnant Britney Spears - Susie Bright Brings the Real

Susie Bright's Journal : If These Wombs Could Talk..:
"If women told their family histories, it would reveal the facts of life: that fertility and the female body are not to be trifled with. It's not going to fit in the 'abstinence primer' view of the world.

Women bleed. We produce eggs every month and then our body expels them. We get pregnant, we miscarry, we abort, we fuck, (in love, in pleasure, in resignation, in doubt) we have stillbirths and live births, we die in birth, we struggle to get pregnant and to avoid pregnancy. We raise children and we lose children. This is the life of the XY superhuman. This is our thread.

There is not one of us who does not have a womb with a story."

Um. Yeah. It's up there on the shelf, and it won't shut up.

But my docking parts have a story too. About being in a serious relationship with a woman who was militantly pro-life - until the day she got pregnant, and being expected to hold her hand as my potential child was terminated.

Mixed feelings? You bet.

But had she even asked me about it I would have told her it was the only sane course of action. Her odds of surviving a birth were not good, the child's odds worse, odds of profound disabilities were astronomically bad, should the child "miraculously" survive.

She not working, and me being on disability gave us no resources to consider alternatives, had there been any. And there was no longer any "us."

So I did not take the opportunity to gently point out the contradictions. I knew it would have never occurred to her there could be the possibility - she was sure she was quite sterile. Many doctors would have said the same. Hyperactive adrenals do strange things to your body, few of them good. Her testosterone levels were higher than mine.

What that would have done to a fetus doesn't bear thinking about.

But I did feel a pang. More of a wish as to what could have been than any objection at this outcome, as reality trampled beliefs that, of course could only apply to those Other People.

I think I will extend that kindness to all such women, even if they do take up their socially required beliefs again. Some things are just inappropriate for use as ammunition in the culture wars.

But what DID piss me off is that she made me go home and change into a fucking suit, so she wouldn't be "embarrassed" by me standing there in my leathers!

Yeah. I could have said no. Didn't seem like the right time. Come to think about it, it's the first time I've realized how very much it pissed me off. But I knew why she needed me there, and it was all about her insecurities, about "what people would think," and appearances.

Well, if you don't have a right to feel a little insecure and be indulged in an abortion clinic waiting room, where is it reasonable to expect it?

So there it is: my "womb story." I suppose we all have them, after all.

Oh. Now I understand.

And dear God(ess), if I have to explain what I now understand to you after you click the link, I swear to Ess Herself that I will find a big plaid lesbian, have her hunt you down and tickle you until you pee!

I know people! Maybe even some at Fox News Security!

February 2006 Church Mailbag | Landover Baptist:

"I think you are completely missing the plot as to why people become gay. People are more likely to become gay when their parents are seperated or divorced - when their relationship is not healthy and the father is not the PRESENT dominant figure in the household. THAT is when children become gay. That and the presence of a genetic predisposition - a 'gene' carried by the mother, her mother, her mother, etc. That's why a gay person is always much more likely to have a gay uncle on the mother's side than on the father's side, and that's why the 'gene' will never die out as long as carrier women have children. Carrier women being the sisters of gay (and straight also) men. So if you want people not to have gay children, preach them not to divorce or break up - prevent broken homes. Teach fathers to LOVE and spend time with their children, coz if only mom is present, the chances of a boy becoming gay is bigger. All the stuff you publish doesn't really make a difference. If being gay is a sin, then divorcing or not loving your children is a 'bigger' sin. Furthermore, God teaches to love and not to judge. It is only God's place to judge. Gay people can't help they're gay, it's nothing they did wrong. If they love others, without judging them, then YOU are bigger sinners than them, because YOU ARE JUDGING THEM, AND IT IS NOT YOUR PLACE TO DO SO. May God give you what you deserve.

Percival Burger "

By the way, you might now want to compare the real Landover Baptist Church with the parody before you make any judgment about who's blaspheming what.

This Britney Spears Bootleg is somehow OK?

Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston

A ripoff sculpture of Britney Spears giving someone a blowjob would be wildly popular, but would it be art, or would it be commercial porn, derivative porn, or exploitative porn?

A rhetorical question, to be sure, but I find it fun to answer them. My answer is "depends on the artist, yes, maybe, yes."

BROOKLYN (March 22, 2006) --- A nude Britney Spears on a bearskin rug while giving birth to her firstborn marks a ‘first’ for Pro-Life. Pop-star Britney Spears is the “ideal” model for Pro-Life and the subject of a dedication at Capla Kesting Fine Art in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg gallery district, in what is proclaimed the first Pro-Life monument to birth, in April.

Dedication of the life-sized statue celebrates the recent birth of Spears’ baby boy, Sean, and applauds her decision of placing family before career. “A superstar at Britney’s young age having a child is rare in today’s celebrity culture. This dedication honors Britney for the rarity of her choice and bravery of her decision,” said gallery co-director, Lincoln Capla. The dedication includes materials provided by Manhattan Right To Life Committee.

There is no claim that Spears posed for, approves of or even knew about the artwork before it's unveiling.

Capla Kesting denies the statue was developed from a rumored bootleg Britney Spears birth video. The artist admits to using references that include the wax figure of a pole-dancing Britney at Las Vegas’ Madame Tussauds and ‘Britney wigs’ characterizing various hairstyles of the pop-princess from a Los Angeles hairstylist. And according to gallery co-director, David Kesting, the artist studied a bearskin rug from Canada “to convey the commemoration of the traditional bearskin rug baby picture.”

I am not here to confirm or deny the artistic merit of the sculpture or the statement itself, because I think that's pretentious as all hell. Nor am I in any position to judge the merits of it's statement, or question it's appropriateness as public, or at least semi-public pornography.

But as a sometime pornographer, I know what "talking about sex" looks like, I know what fetishizing an image looks like, and if there is a difference between "fetishizing" and "idealizing" an image, it's a damn fine distinction. A distinction that is generally helped by the presence of clothing and the absence of bearskins - which I associate more strongly with Marilyn Monroe pin-up nudes and cheesy black-and-white vintage porn.

“Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston,” believed Pro-Life’s first monument to the ‘act of giving birth,’ is purportedly an idealized depiction of Britney in delivery. Natural aspects of Spears’ pregnancy, like lactiferous breasts and protruding naval, compliment a posterior view that depicts widened hips for birthing and reveals the crowning of baby Sean’s head.
And her gaping pussy! Hello!

We call this GraphicTruth for a reason!

Prissy weasel-worded phrases like those above allow people to delude themselves that this is somehow different and better than run of the mill pregnancy porn, but carving it in marble or some more conformable artificial substitute, in honor of the subject herself, changes nothing.

This is a graphically Anglo-Saxon moment, unsuited for the mealy-mouthed words of the descendants of aristocratic Normans, who said "feces" instead of "shit" because the former seemed to smell more elegant than the latter.

When you step in it in the dark, it is what it is!

And there it is! Gaping. Inescapable!

A Monster Shot of the Second Kind!

One can nearly hear the gasps, smell the sweat, feel the pain and get a contact high off the endorphins!

Ok, maybe I am a little jealous; of both the work itself and the marketing skills. Let me point out the obvious again - as that is what I do here.

That is how I would market the exact same image to conscious porn consumers with a taste for voyeurism and pain.

Unconscious porn consumers, who seem to be great fans of Britney get to see a "monument to Pro-Life."

The monument also acknowledges the pop-diva’s pin-up past by showing Spears seductively posed on all fours atop a bearskin rug with back arched, pelvis thrust upward, as she clutches the bear’s ears with ‘water-retentive’ hands.

“Britney provides inspiration for those struggling with the ‘right choice’,” said artist Daniel Edwards, recipient of a 2005 Bartlebooth award from London’s The Art Newspaper. “She was number one with Google last year, with good reason --- people are inspired by the beauty of a pregnant woman,” said Edwards.

Yep. "Inspired." A word often used to describe my own work. Heh.

I'm inspired by looking at this profile image to think what a very sexual posture it is, and how conveniently positioned the bear's head is for Daddy to sit on.

"Hit me baby, one more time" and "Oops, I did it again!" are taking on entirely old meanings in my head.

But then, truly great art does invite the viewer in. Indeed, just as truly great porn does.

Citing hits on Google convinces that one intent of this sculpture is the sheer amount of buzz, money and traffic this could bring to the "right to life" cause. The degree of implied insight into the collective psyche of "right to life" supporters is both impressive and cynical to a degree that takes my breath away.

Oh dear. It appears I AM judging! Circularity and irony. For if the above is seen as a criticism of the work, or indeed of Britney herself, then everything I have written about the people I find inspiring, or the pornographies I have committed and intend to commit again in the name of cultural subversion and residual income are just as base and cynical. Nor are mine, I observe, in any museum.

I find being unintentionally ironic to be hilarious - in other people. Therefore I prefer to avoid such evidence of serious self-delusion.

I like it. Heck, I even like the message. I actually like both messages, for in effect it's blurring the
lines between the sacredness of the moment and the gritty, graphic, raw sexuality of it.

If this encourages young women to see pregnancy as another way of being sexy, and to see pendulous breasts and big tummies as being beautiful in their own way, it's a good image.

If it gets little girls to think of this picture here leading to that picture up there as being one logical and beautiful result, they may do better, understanding what the end result - so to speak - of being a seductive "pop tart" may well be.

So long as they realize that both idealizations are in fact choices that have preventable risks, if you think about and understand what you are doing instead of blindly trying to live up to some unattainable, plasticized ideal.

And if a stern Republican Dominioniost dominant Daddy gets a hard-on looking at it while his 12 year old daughter is being inspired by this work, I promise I won't think any differently of him than I already do.

Autism and Quackery

Brian Deer investigates MMR - American autism society

Quacks target desperate quest of parents
as autism organisations take no action

In an effort to talk with Andrew Wakefield, Brian Deer attended a meeting of the Austism Society of America in Indianapolis in October 2004, and found it to be partly funded by quacks, who rented stalls at the entrance. One was promoting "transfer factor", based on the evidence below. When Brian Deer asked about the claims in the brochure, and whether the "paper" beneath it was a proper basis for selling products to the parents of autistic children, conference organisers had Deer ejected by
security staff.

Transfer factor was pioneered by Hugh Fudenberg, whose medical registration status is republished by Brian Deer at this website

This is a "must read" if you are personally or professionally concerned with Autism, it's causes and potential cures, if any - and of course, it opens the question of where your money is best sent.

I've quite a lot of reason to question the ethics of many of those engaged in presenting cures and treatments. They are generally very expensive, and the science behind them questionable at best. Worse, those involved react to questions in ways that show they are indeed questionable persons, with more blusters than answers.

Although I am on the autistic spectrum - with Asperger's Syndrome - I don't personally WANT to be cured. That's my bias. I'm quite convinced my traits are just that - traits. And frankly, I value what I can do and wish to do far more than I desire to do the things I can't do and wouldn't want to if I could. The occasional eceptions to that rule are handily coverd by my other "disorder," multiple personality. It gives me a range of options for dealing with crisis and various sorts of people - often the same thing - on at least a short-term basis.

There are, however, more than a few symptoms of each neurological condition (for want of a better word) for which I'd appreciate viable treatment. I doubt my list would have a lot of overlap with the things my parents thought I should want, though.

I personally oppose all forms of behaivoristic training on the grounds that, while they may have some limited application in areas of critical need, nobody needs eye-contact to survive. The emphisis is all on creating a reflexive behavior - without giving the child any reason why they should do that. And many of these behaviors and compliances are uncomfortable, at best.

The reason I don't make eye contact is that my brain doesn't work that way. I view faces as being one of a piece with the whole of the rest of my surroundings. It may or may not be interesting, but it's no more important than the TV, say.

"Look at me when I'm talking to you" doesn't impress me much. I know it's the polite thing to do. I also know why it's the polite thing to do; acknolegement that the person speaking is more important to you than the TV or the book I'm involved with.

It's also acknoledgement that they have an inherent right to interrupt me.

I've learned that usually it's too much trouble to correct neurotypicals about the assumptions they make, such as the presumption that their thoughts are more important than mine, or that I can and should put something I find compelling aside to indulge their whim - especially when it's usually some social noise.

I've learned to accommodate their behavior and interpret the meaning and intent behind some of their non-verbal communications.

But that doesn't mean that I'm going to validate their silly pack-dominance games or participate in another round of ritual butt-sniffing. I've learned ways of avoiding all of that. I learned body language - pretty much as a foreign language - and I use it to communicate my unwillingness to play nonconsentual Dominance/submission games.

We told our son "Look at their eyebrows. They can't tell the difference and it makes them feel you are part of their pack structure." And of course, not meeting their gaze indicates weakness, and you will be bullied. I do wish I'd learned that in grade school instead of High School.

It's an old speaker's and politician's trick. It appears that you are directly meeting the gaze of the other person, when in fact you are avoiding it's painful glare. And yet to the mark - it seems that your sincerity is boundless.

I've found that our son has no difficulty emulating any behavior that he wishes to, if he understands why he should. Until then - good freakin' luck.

But he's had the good fortune of being raised by people who didn't try to make him conform to a false sterotype of normalcy. Instead, we work on finding strategies that work for him in being himself. This year has been difficult in this regard, as we have had repeated struggles with his HS teachers, who are collectively lazy, pretentious fools who have gotten an undeserved reputation for acedemic excellence by virtue of simply "encouraging" the "less promising" to leave.

Putting the Fundiment back in Fundimentalism

Putting the fundiment back in Fundimentalism
Originally uploaded by Bob King.

Unintended humor is the only sort of humor to be found in these folk - but they sure do provide a great deal of it.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Performance Artist Ana Voog Live Remote at CUNY

trance missions: "my next cam event, a collaboration effort! march 29th :)

Ana Voog bubbles in my email:

Three camgirls from the old school camming ([info]ana: Ana Voog, [info]beautifultoxin: Melissa Gira, [info]artvamp: Echo Transgression) together for one night only!
And you'll never guess where!

I adore Ana. She's - complex. She sends out these amazing email alerts - generally copied to her livejournal - with the most amazing photos that could be her, naked as a jaybird, or a roadkill jaybird. Or a mannikin with one of her hats on it. So unless the keyboard is totally on fire, I generally read them pretty quick. I wish I'd gotten to this one even quicker.

I dunno if she realizes what an inspiration she is to me; she's a living reminder that you will not be struck by lightning - even in the midwest - by being who you are, all at once. So many artists keep their porn secret - and surprisingly enough, many pornographers and pornbunnies hide their art.

But ana is out to make you think. Most days. And her work - and the work of others - are a medium that is being taken more seriously, both as art, and of course as an artform that has something immediate and relevant to say about our culture and it's hipocracaies.

$pread presents Sex Worker Visions, an exhibition featuring art by sex workers and about the sex industry, at the LGBT Community Center David Bohnett Cyber Center at 208 West 13th Street, New York City, from March 29 – May 20. Visions
kicks off with an opening reception on March 29 from 6 to 9 pm.

Visions is curated by Audacia Ray, Executive Editor of $pread and former Assistant Curator at the Museum of Sex. Artists include sex activist and educator Heather Corinna, former SuicideGirl and illustrator Molly Crabapple, exotic dancer and photographer Charise Isis, and former prostitute and
filmmaker Anne Hanavan, as well as Paul Sarkis and George Pitts’ intimate portraits of porn stars. Photographs by Erin Siegal and illustrations by Fly and Cristy Road originally appearing in $pread will also be on display. Sales will benefit the non-profit magazine.

The March 29 event is also the opening night of the Sex Work Matters conference, a joint venture of CUNY and the New School ( The evening
also marks $pread's one year anniversary, and the Spring issue of the magazine will be available for sale at the reception.

For opening night only, the exhibit will be completely interactive with a webcam video project, “30 Second Sex,” masterminded by multimedia artist and erotic
professional Melissa Gira and featuring webcam pioneers Ana Voog ( and Echo Transgression ( camming from remote locations.
Computer monitors around the Cyber Center will display the websites of sex worker rights advocacy groups for the public to peruse. Former call girl Tracy Quan along with sex worker activist
Carol Leigh (aka Scarlot Harlot: will be signing copies of their respective books, Diary of a Married Call Girl and Unrepentant Whore.

WHAT: Sex Worker Visions opening reception
WHERE: LGBT Community Center’s David Bohnett Cyber Center, 208 W. 13 St., NYC
WHEN: 6–9 PM
I of course dropped in on and found it to be depressingly not sexy. They are Terribly Serious About All Of This.

At the activist and academic levels, the dialogue on sex work has divided primarily into two opposing positions. The anti-porn/anti-trafficking movement views all sex work as exploitative and coerced and therefore to be erradicated, while the 'sex work as work' position advocates that sex work be recognized as a legitimate profession with the accompanying legal protections. The latter movement explores the diversity and contradictions of the sex industry involving issues of gender, race, class and capitalist economy.

New York City is home to numerous scholars, activists and analysts engaged in the debate over sex work as work. Students and younger activists are also demonstrating a growing interest in the topic, as evidenced by their increasing involvement in activist organizations. Artists too, continue to challenge conceptual boundaries about sex work and ownership of the body in their work. Despite this growing interest, few forums bring these groups together.

The Sex Work Matters project aims to fill this gap by giving scholars, activists and analysts a platform for multidisciplinary, cross-institutional exchange of ideas and networking. The project brings diverse perspectives and experiences together to explore the theoretical, sociological, political and economic dimensions of sex work in a globalized world. At the same time, it provides a much-needed opportunity for graduate students and activists to enter the debate, present original work and identify areas for collaboration.
There have been a lot of closets kicked open since the Stonewall Riots, and even now, our kids on Myspace are rushing ahead of our boomer and GenX comfort zones in sharing and oversharing in the same way Ana does; all of their interests, instead of in little boxes with carefully selected, pre-screened friends who were carefully segregated from our other friends.

Perhaps "oversharing" is safer in the long run than the "what will people think" sort of fear I grew up with.

Some damn bruising interactons with sexual abuse survivors tells me one thing, though.

Ignorance is NOT bliss, nor is it innocence. Knowing a lot more about the opposite, or interesting same sex can keep you away from "those people" a lot more effectively than isolation from all those "bad influences."

Because, statisticly, "those people" are often known as "Uncle Fred." I'll tell you, there would be a LOT less child sexual abuse if the abusers realized that the transcript - and perhaps photos - would be up on the kid's livejournal or Myspace the next day for critical review.

Of course, that may be why possessio of evidence - I mean, child porn, is illegal even for the victim.

Would saying "especially" be too damn cynical of me?

People get the government they deserve. And not just BROWN people.

You know, I don't feel so lonely today. This is an excellent and thoughtful editorial, talking about the general lack of ethics in our society. While I'm not one to winge on at length like some wingnuts do about the "epidemic of immorality," that's because I think the most damaging lapses of ethics occur out of bed.

But Doug is totally right in saying that this is not so much the problem of the leadership, as it is a problem of the electorate. LONG before these folks got close to any meaningful levels of power, there were many people who knew what they were - and supported and advanced their cause anyway.

Capitol Hill Blue: Playing liar's poker
A society built on deceit cannot heal itself by changing the political party that controls government or the occupant of the White House until it takes a long, hard look inward and realizes the problem is more widespread than just our elected leaders. Until we stop lying to ourselves and those around us we can never expect honesty in those who lead us. At this point, we don't deserve it anyway.

Precisely. On the other hand, it's not that hard to choose to stop lying to ourselves - and then to each other.

Who am I kidding? It's easier to kick crack and tobacco together. But consider the alternative. It's time for each of us to face our own issues, stop lying about them to ourselves and pretending that we act from the highest motives. Doug mentions using alcohol to numb his conscience; one of many wildly available choices for erasing the stresses involved in living in this society.

Bush "Pathological Liar"

Capitol Hill Blue: Bush just can't stop lying
His eyes darted from side-to-side as he fielded questions about his real reasons for invading Iraq. He stammered. Stalled. Used the word "uh" more times than a suspect caught red-handed. He still claimed his reasons for invading Iraq were just, even though those reasons have been proven wrong. He claims the war can be won, a view not shared by many of his generals. He claimed a lot of things - few of them true. "President Bush exhibited symptoms of pathological prevarication," says Dr. Stephanie Crossfield, a psychologist who treats people who have trouble telling the truth and who watched Bush's performances on Monday and Tuesday at my request. "His eye movements, gestures, and changes in voice tone all display traits of consistent evasion of the truth."

Gee... an expert has to tell us that. I appreciate Doug's methodical process, but sometimes it amounts to a validation of the blindingly obvious. But for those who require athoritative confirmation of the obvious before they note it - there it is.

But the tragic thing is not that he's lying to us. It's clear that he believes the nonsense he spouts, at least as it's uttered. Once it is, it's forgotton. Another day, another "truth."

Dr. Justin Frank, author of the book, Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, agrees with Dr. Crossfield.

"President Bush marches deeper and deeper into a world of his own," says Dr. Frank. "Central to Bush's world is an iron will which demands that external reality be changed to conform to his personal view of how things are."

Republicans reluctantly admit Bush has lost touch with the truth. Sen. Chuck Hagel says the President is "disconnected from reality."

And there was some point at which he was connected?

My reaction to that sad press-conferernce - before I hit the channel changer - was that he literally had no working understanding of what he was talking about. Most of the time, I don't think he was acually lying, so much as bullshitting.

And most 12 year olds know the difference.

Earth Day is Approaching

Milf Earth
Originally uploaded by Bob King.

And at this time we are supposed to be thinking of our fragile environment and the easily wounded ecology.

Well, from OUR viewpoint, sure. From HER viewpoint - if the seas rose ten feet and drowned us all, she'd just make a fresh batch. No trouble at all; done it before, can do it again.

So give Gaia a hug - it's wise to stay on Her good side.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Fear - the dominant human emotion.

This 1997 article is more current today than when it was first published.

Brian Deer on homo erectus
Homo erectus and human evolution - Brian Deer investigates:

"Attitudes are changing, however, and science mirrors that. In the same cultural shifts that see aboriginal peoples probed for ancient wisdoms, so Homo erectus is being rehabilitated as something more than a beast. While lonely skulls and stone tools once stressed individualism, large-scale land surveys and evidence of fire now point to the community of life. And we now see that it was not aggression, but fear which dominated our earliest lives. Fear - the emotion which vicariously excites the readers of thrillers, and which a philosopher might see as the source of all human evil - is the default emotion of our evolutionary line. It just never went away."

Hm. So much for the vicious dominant thigh-bone wielding primate we liked to think we arose from. Apparently the conventional wisdom is somewhat leaky.

If this isn't funny to you, you MIGHT be a funnymentalist.

Tip o' the hat to sunfell posting in Dark Christian on LJ for this moment of surreal humor.


Twenty days ago I received a cease and desist letter from Liberty Counsel, a law firm representing Exodus International, a group that claims to offer gay people “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.” They demanded that I take down a parody image I’d created (seen above) of an offensive, anti-gay billboard which they’d put up around the country, on the grounds that it infringed upon their intellectual property rights.

I immediately contacted the ACLU, EFF, and anyone else that I thought might be interested or would be able to lend a hand. The ACLU looked into the facts of the case and very generously offered to represent me in partnership with the law firm of Fenwick West. Free of charge. And I don’t mean a single lawyer, I mean a team of four experts in Intellectual Property, Free Speech, Copyright, and GLBT Rights.

Oh my. Well, with such an easy layup ....

Update: Ex-Gay Watch, which also received a cease-and-desist letter from Liberty Counsel for republishing my parody, had the Los Angeles-based law firm of Irell Manella send Liberty a response letter on their behalf today as well. Here’s my favorite part: “Just as the ex-gay movement often uses weak science in support of its agenda, so Exodus is using weak law to curtail Mr. Airhart’s freedom of speech. It’s unfortunate that many of Exodus’s targets have no choice but to turn to “Wikipedia” to resist Exodus’s bullying tactics. Yet this is one instance in which “Wikipedia” appears to have a better understanding of First Amendment principles than Exodus’s own counsel.” —Robert N. Klieger
That's Legalese for "Yo Mamma, bitch!"

Aside from the theology, aside from the contotions these people put the Bible through to justify trying to impose their squicks upon others, it's the sheer, agonizing humorlessness of these people. I figure wherever they end up in the afterlife - it would be hell for me, so anything they are against doing is probably a good idea.

Except for anal sex.

But that's MY squick. I don't pretend it's doctrine.

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LJDrama Escapes from Confinement! Conservative Hissy Fit Ensues!

Duncan Black Explained:

Atrios writes:

“Jeff Goldstein Explained”


Abrahams, who has a vast knowledge of improbable scientific literature, compares Gier’s work to that of two Cornell scientists who showed that one attribute of extreme incompetence is “that the person so afflicted is incapable of knowing that he is incompetent.” The study, titled “Unskilled and Unaware of It,” demonstrated that people who scored, on average, at the 12th percentile in tests of humor, grammar and logic assessed themselves to be, on average, at the 62nd percentile. Incompetence at the extreme is a double-whammy, the authors declare: “Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it."

...All of which is just Duncan’s roundabout way of saying that I’m too stupid to realize how terribly stupid I am—and that my analyses are so rife with error that the sheer abundance of my own mistakes seduce me into believing (and advocating) my own blinkered idiocy.

To which there can be but one reply:


Posted by Jeff Goldstein @ 04:36 PM
0 Trackbacks • Email this"

Hey! Wait a minute!
Does that mean he thinks your readers are stoopid, too?
Well. Does it?

harrison | permalink
on 03/18 at 05:02 PM
Yeah, pretty much. And so do his readers. Alone, that would be no great shucks, but they post facts and links to facts that they manipulate in ways they understand.

And the posters at Eschaton are generally respectful of the odd bit of trollery.

On the other hand, you react like this to a comment on another board, mentioning the dry skewering Atrios gave you.

Off topic, but just thought I’d point out how those I am gracious enough to allow to comment here unmolested treat me when my back is turned.

Today’s subject: tristero, who (let’s face it) has the intellect of a gibbon, though he clearly fancies himself a brilliant debunker of lockstep winguttery. In fact, his post
(as seen on Digbysblog) —Loven stole HIS idea about the strawmans, we’re told / and Atrios was exactly right that I’m an idiot who doesn’t realize my own idiocy (a pronouncement, incidentally, that can only be made by one who assumes he is far more intelligent than the object of his scorn, which position essentially deconstructs the study in the Atrios post tristero fellates, or else proves it to his detriment, I’m not sure which)—is par for the course with these bandwidth sucking cocklords. You allow them to stay and say their piece, and they interpret that as a “right” that you now owe them, and they then take that as an invitation to start helping themselves to things in the fridge, or slipping a finger up your dog’s asshole, etc.

Well, sorry, but that ain’t my thang. These fucktards want to take shots at me on their own sites, they can have at it. But from now on, they can keep it there, or they can bitch about me on sites I don’t give a shit about anyway.

What they can’t do is take pot shots at me on other sites, then slather some peanut butter on their joints and show up here hoping to help themselves to a quick hummer from my dog.

So goodbye to tristero. And there will be others, as well. I won’t let this place turn into the cesspole Cole nurtures.

And seriously, what did tristero offer here? He’s a mouthpiece for lib-Dem talking points, from the few posts of his I read, and I have more interesting conversations with beets and sea monkeys than I ever could with someone who is so bent on getting noticed by Atrios that he’s already committed to sing a Katrina and the Waves cover at the next Eschacon—while wearing nothing but one of those bitchin’ Che berets.

As a person who has long since hung up his flamex3000 and put his artful flame trophies into storage, I gotta tell you - that reaction is the wet dream of artful trolls. Public temper-tantrums with a withdrawal of commenting priviliges. Son, you are Pure Comedy Gold.

Tristero, Atrios and all interested observers will be mocking you for days now.

Here's one comment I selecte because, well, I'm fairly sure you will comprend it and you certainly cannot complain that it's uncouth.


Right-wing blogger pundits such as Jeff Goldstein, Ann Althouse, the boys at Powerline, et al. are like dogs:

When they are licking their own balls, they are completely unaware how ridiculous it looks.

For myself, I observe that the Usual Suspects on the right tend to exhibit a rather low standard of wit and an entirely undeserved opinion of their collective and individual wisdom. While I consider myself deeply conservative in a number of ways - I don't feel the need to prove it by wasting my time with people who insult my intelligence.

Medical Ethics Versus Money

Many people have cited this story with the objective of pointing out Republican hypocrisy. Why attempt to pass laws to keep a brain dead (white ) woman like Terry Schivo on a ventilator when in the same breath - so to speak, doing nothing about a dying, but not dead, conscious (black) woman?

Good questions, that I suppose are worth asking for rhetorical and political effect. But this blog is about ethics. And this story illustrates what happens when money is more important than ethical medical care.

This is why we need a single-payer system. It's to keep the bean-counters away from proper medical decision-making. This is an extreme example, but many may have experienced insufferable interference from insurance companies in vital health care decisions that have resulted in anything from precious hours wasted to irreversible disability as a result of delays in approving treatment.

Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas | | Top Stories:
Woman's death highlights health insurance crisis

Tirhas Habtegiris was 27 when she died.

A family has gathered to mourn a woman gone too soon.

Tirhas Habtegiris was an East African immigrant and only 27 when she died Monday afternoon.

She'd been on a respirator at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano for 25 days.

'They handed me this letter on December 1st. and they said, we're going to give you 10 days so on the 11th day, we're going to pull it out,' said her brother Daniel Salvi.

Salvi was stunned to get this hand-delivered notice invoking a complicated and rarely used Texas law where a doctor is 'not obligated to continue' medical treatment 'medically inappropriate' when care is not beneficial.

Even though her body was being ravaged by cancer, this family says Tirhas still responded and was conscious. She was waiting one person.

'She wanted to get her mom over here or to get to her mom so she could die in her mom's arms,' says her cousin Meri Tesfay.

Ten days was not enough time, they say, to get a mother from Africa to America."

After the fact, I do wonder how much this story cost the hospital in terms of prestige, patient choice and potential increased liability risks.

I think it would have been cheaper (and certainly better publicity) to have brought the mother over from Africa on the hospital's dime. But perhaps they felt that saving the life of a poor black woman long enough to die in her mother's arms would have been newsworthy enough to compensate their shareholders.

I think it obvious this was an unethical choice. Nonetheless, it was probably a forced choice - there is the reality that such beds are desperately needed to save live that can be saved. The problem here is that it is a problem - for doctor, hospital and patient.

Bad decisions are driven by bad circumstances. Our current "system" isn't. It's a bizarre contrivance, rendering less care to fewer people at higher total expense than any first-world system of medical care, both in direct and indirect expenses.

This is a case when the ethical choice is obvious; universal access, single payer medical care for all who choose it, with a simple gradated premium scheme, administered at the 2.5% overhead Medicaid manages could deliver better care at a lower total cost to everyone. That would make it possible for medical decisions to be made by doctors and patients, without bean-counters rejecting "unprofitable courses of action."

Granted, the insurance industry might not profit greatly - but while I have no objection to a fair return for proper service, I do not think anyone would call their profits proportional to the "services" rendered us.

I think most of us take offence at the idea of our medical care being determined by an insurance company deciding whether or not they will abide by their contractual obligation in time for it to do us any good.

Some might think it odd for a Libertarian to call for a single-payer health-care scheme. But it's not at all odd to me; I consider the role of government to be to do the things that are of benefit to all, and which cannot or will not be done as well or as cheaply by private enterprise.

You see, when you pay for things you must have in order to live, to do your business, to interact with other people, or must accept additional risk because you cannot get those things, that is a tax.

Libs like to say "all taxation is theft." I disagree; good government is expensive, but worthwhile and on the whole, far cheaper than the alternative - which is what we have now; which is in fact theft, pure and simple. When laws are enacted to prevent states from negotiating lower drug prices, that is theft. As well as a tax, with no benifit to those paying it.

Remember - preventive health care for those who could not otherwise afford it means that the "little people" will not be as likely to sneeze contagiously on your blackened tuna filet. Even if they do, it will likely be a simple cold - and not viral meningitis.

It is of interest to everyone, equally, that everyone is as healthy as possible; most especially in this age of potential bioterrorism. I can think of no practical way to do that short of ensuring that everyone IS insured.

Call it the cost of doing business as a civilized society.

And yes, I consider civilization a requirement to have any meaningful amount of individual liberty. In that regard, any government that persists in interfering with the simple, universal necessities of civilization must be dispensed with in favor of a government that does.

One very much smaller, less arrogant in it's culture and of vastly more utility to citizens, while imposing fewer direct expenses and aggravations upon them.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Flaccid Thinking Exposed

The Randi Rhodes Show -> A Letter to Rush Limbaugh: " A Letter to Rush Limbaugh (email of 18 March 2006)
By Walter C. Uhler

Dear Mr. Limbaugh:

While discussing charges -- on your nationally syndicated radio show of March 14, 2006 -- that President Bush is a 'liar' and that the war in Iraq is 'unjust,' you wondered aloud: 'How many Iraqi women and children have been killed by insurgents who have been emboldened by the American left?' Moments later you asked: 'What do you think this is doing for the morale of these insurgents who are probably in their last gasp over there or close to it?'

... I was especially offended to learn that you delimited patriotic criticism of our immoral, illegal and incompetently planned invasion/occupation of Iraq to "emboldening" Iraq's insurgents. Besides indicating flaccid thinking in the service of bias, such tunnel vision smacks of McCarthyism.

Tell me, do you suspect the patriotism of (Ret.) General William Odom? Could you qualify as his butler, when it comes to the analysis of facts on the ground in Iraq? Do you have his contacts with America's senior military leadership? No? I thought not. Is his informed and unquestionably patriotic call for getting out of Iraq merely emboldening the enemy? How do you know? And is there no more to his critique than that?
Now, I mostly stopped listening to Rush regularly when I realized that he just made stuff up, stopped my infrequent checks when I noticed that he couldn't handle real questions from actual, unscreened callers and stopped completely when I realised that he wasn't funny any more.

General: "Failure."

Talking Points Memo:

Referred me to this NYT Op-Ed by Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, Ret. who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.

This is the last paragraph of a long, damning and expert opinion.

Our most important, and sometimes most severe, judges are our subordinates. That is a fact I discovered early in my military career. It is, unfortunately, a lesson Donald Rumsfeld seems incapable of learning.
Read the whole thing, and copy it to everyone you know on your mailing list of whatever persuasion.

An Honest Politician is... who stays bought.

Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue writes:

Typical political arrogance:

"... no President in modern times is, or was, an honorable man. Clinton's presidency will be remembered more for scandal than anything else and the Monica Lewinsky scandal wasn't the only case of questionable conduct in office. His associated attorney general, Webster Hubbell, went to jail for tax evasion and defrauding the government. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy took bribes and resigned in disgrace. Clinton lost his license to practice law for lying under oath. And he lied about American involvement in Somalia, a 'peacekeeping' operation that cost too many American lives.

Reagan's legacy is marred by Iran-Contra and a conservative agenda that still haunts the country today. Courts convicted a dozen members of his administration for misconduct or malfeasance in office. Jimmy Carter's credibility took a hit when Bert Lance, his director of the Office of Management and Budget, was indicted for financial misconduct and his brother signed on as a paid consultant to Libya. He recently has been linked to the UN oil-for-food scandal.

Yet Republicans still talk about the good old days when Reagan was President and Democrats say Clinton only lied about sex.

Sadly, both sides of the political spectrum suffer from selective myopia that allows them overlook failings of their own party while lambasting the same conduct by their opponents."

I do not think that one can be President and still be a plaster saint. One simply cannot rise to the apex of political power without having engaged in some form of compromise, moral and otherwise. It is both the nature of the game and of those who play it.

If you dig into the lives of even our most revered Presidents, we find less than perfect men, sometimes spectacularly so.

But all the truly successful men who seek and hold office have had some traits in common, as described in another of Doug's rants:

"Politics attracts the glib, the fast talker and the con artist," says George Harleigh, a retired political science professor who worked in the Nixon and Reagan administrations. "It's a natural place for those who think fast on their feet."

But these traits are identical to those of any successful leader. The distinction is not the traits, but the ethical principles at the core of the person. And we must also be reasonable with our expectations of such people. There are people that need power like other people need air to breathe. Like all such people with such driving needs, they will do whatever it takes to get it. So let us not place constraints upon them that assume it's really possible to take a deep breath and let the feeling pass. Rather, our expectations must presume that need - and expect them to meet that need in ways that are honorable and ethical as a condition for being permitted to "breathe" at all.

Our current training for people going into politics is distressingly amoral. The emphasis is on getting and holding onto power, and clearly little attention is given to using it wisely or well. Power has become an end in itself.

Aside from being wrong, a leader weilding power unwisely and without any sense of where and to what would be the best place apply it is worse than no leader at all.

Check your favorite news source for evidence of that.

Doug criticises Congress and the President for being corrupt. I criticise them for not fulfilling the conditions and requirements placed upon them as obligations in return for the opportunity to have power and all the many rewards that go with it.

It is not that they are corrupt and powerful - power does corrupt. It tends to make one arrogant. Worst of all, it tends to make the powerful think they are inherently entitled to power. That is why we have elections, and why working democracies have a good deal of communication and activism. WE have the duty - to them - to remind them of our donations of power, and the conditional nature of those donations.

We have no obligation as citizens to give power to those unsuited or unqualifed to wield it. Leaders must remember that while power has many rewards, it comes at a price, and part of that price is delivering effective leadership in a crisis.

We could pretty much automate govenement these days if it were not for that need for intelligent crisis management. And in a crisis, you need someone who knows when to throw out the rule book (and when NOT to, Mr. President), who can react swiftly and yet rationally to the unexpected - take note, Congress and White House - and adapt to evolving circumstances.

We also need people who anticipate, plan, and who are willing to attach their good name and career to the value of that planning and foresight.

But when the stuff hits the fan, they need to be able to rise up, realize that this is time to put duty ahead of personal political fortune and do what needs to be done, not what their desires or their fears tell them. We need courage, we deserve informed leadership, we have the right to expect a government that is smarter collectively than the average sixth grader, and when we, as citizens are up to our necks in water - we expect government to move heaven and earth to get to us, rather than creating excuses and putting up roadblocks to keep help away until the forms that haven't been printed are signed by those who have not yet been properly delegated.

We have had some famous rogues in the Oval Office and, Lord knows, many more in Congress. But at the same time we have been generally blessed by those who did rise to the occasion.

But this time we are saddled by those who have embraced deceit as a political philosopy; people who lie not just to mislead our foes and their political opponets strategically, but habitually and often transparently. It's been common to hear excuses form our Senators and Congressmembers to explain why they were surprised by the implications of this initiative or that bill.

Well, ya dumb fucks, if you'd have read the damn bills, you would have known better.

And if you can't read, or even staff the reading, research and summary of 1300 page bill so you understand it, vote "no."

Senators and Congressmen, those persons you elected to the Budget and Defense Subcommittes are not there to tell YOU what to do, they are delegated BY you to tell you what YOU need to know in order to excercise the power delegated you by the people of your state and district. You have no obligation to them; quite the contrary.

If they cannot deliver a proper bill - one that you could show a sixth grader - vote no.

It's real simple. If it seems like it's intended to baffle you with bullshit and bury you in trivia, that's probably the point. And that means you have a right and a duty to demand some more honest and honorable folk on that comittee. Yourself, for example.

We expect our Congresspeople to be rogues, con-men, fixers and greasers. Indeed, I think it clear that the Founders were more than aware of that aspect of their jobs and the need to do it, and do it well. That is the sort of person needed, the mindset required to balance competing interests that could otherwise lead to actual interstate conflict.

We need our con-men, our grifters, our pork-barrel packers. We too must undrestand that while we are a govenment of laws (and far too many regulations,) we need to realize that those laws and regulations are, of necessity general, and will never apply to every case with equal force or justice.

Our Founders also relied upon the common sense of people to elect those who were beholden to them, not to some other "higher" loyalty, be it religion, be it party, or even too much principle.

For example - Our Senate Minority Leader, one Harry Reid, is a devout Mormon. Has he ever let his religious interests interfere in the state's primary source of revenue, gambling and other forms of predominantly heterosexual vice?

No. He knows that aside from filling his campaign chest, casinos employ his constituants, brothals pay taxes that build schools - and those taxes are extracted primarily from Californians, Texans, New Mexicans and others.

I would not expect to find him at the Bunny Ranch. But if Dennis Hoff calls him, I expect he answers the phone personally. And if he donsn't, he's a damn poor Senator.

You don't get to pick your constituants.

And that is the problem. The republican party has decided that they represent their "base." Period. And only so long as that base supports them blindly. They have done little or nothing to forward the disturbingly theocratic ideals of that base, largely meaningless legislation that is so poorly crafted as to be slapped down by the first judge to see it.

That, and some empty rhetoric, and a few dollars slipped to the faithful here and there.

Except, of course, the faithful on the Gulf Coast. It is apparently too expensive for the party to repay them for their support.

And that decision is one of a thousand "worst mistakes" just like it.

You want a litmus test issue? THIS is a litmus test issue. The Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006

I can't even check my email these days without being outraged or insulted by some fresh assault on my liberties. I will be calling my Senators. Not just the one, either. My Republican senator deserves an earfull on this one.

Daily Kos: The Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006:

"Yesterday, these four Senators [Republican Senators Mike DeWine, Olympia Snowe, Lindsey Graham, and Chuck Hagel] introduced the 'Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006.' The bill would legalize the President's crimes. It would allow this Congress to rubber-stamp the administration's violation of FISA and the Fourth Amendment by condoning warrantless spying. According to their ass-backwards approach to oversight, the President can continue to spy on Americans without a warrant for 45 days. After 45 days, the President has three choices:

1. 'Stop' the spying: Because naturally, we can trust this government to cease and desist on demand, given its amazing track record of self-restraint;
2. Ask the FISA court for a court order: Because naturally, this President has shown great respect for the FISA court process and would dutifully follow Congressional directives when it comes to applying for a FISA order; or
3. Inform the Intelligence Sub-committee: Because, of course, the President has proven he can be trusted to follow the law and notify intelligence activities about warrantless spying.

The bill is co-sponsored by four so-called 'moderates' in order to hide its radical and catastrophic nature. What these four extremists accomplish with their bill is to amend the Constitution unilaterally--without the consent of the states--by nullifying the Fourth Amendment. Warrant? Reasonable cause? Psssh. Remnants of a pre-9/11 world, my friends."

Now, before you get all huffy and say the president NEEDS this to fight terrorism, recall that FISA provides for 72 hours of immediate surveillance while the paperwork happens, and that a grand total of two warrants have been turned down by the FISA court in it's 25 odd years of existence.

This is not about listening in on "terrorists." This is about conducting surveillance on people the Administration is afraid of. Quite different propositions. The only reason for this legislation is to cloak in apparent legitimacy the illegal acts of the President.

It's no more legal for Congress to authorize a violation of the Fourth Amendment than it is for the President to violate it himself.

I wonder if the Senate just doesn't care any more? Have the Republican Senators decided that they simply cannot afford to permit a fair election in 2006? One has to wonder what this domestic surveillance is supposed to find. But it is difficult to forget how much power J. Edgar Hover amassed with his private files, and what a sigh of relief passed when those files somehow vanished.

You want a litmus test issue? THIS is a litmus test issue.

This trumps flag-burning, gun banning and family values all in one, for NONE of those are meaningful without the fourth amendment's guarantee that we may proceed about our private lives and business without nosy people poking into our business to determine whether or not it may alarm our "Dear Leader."

From the Washington Post

The Bush administration could continue its policy of spying on targeted Americans without obtaining warrants, but only if it justifies the action to a small group of lawmakers, under legislation introduced yesterday by key Republican senators.

The four senators hope to settle the debate over National Security Agency eavesdropping on international communications involving Americans when one of the parties is suspected of terrorist ties. President Bush prompted a months-long uproar when he said that constitutional powers absolve him of the need to seek warrants in such cases, even though the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires warrants for domestic wiretaps.

The program, begun in 2001, was first publicized late last year.

The bill would allow the NSA to eavesdrop, without a warrant, for up to 45 days per case, at which point the Justice Department would have three options. It could drop the surveillance, seek a warrant from FISA's court, or convince a handful of House and Senate members that although there is insufficient evidence for a warrant, continued surveillance "is necessary to protect the United States," according to a summary the four sponsors provided yesterday. They are Mike DeWine (Ohio), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Olympia J. Snowe (Maine).

All but Graham are members of the sharply divided intelligence committee, whose Democratic members have unsuccessfully sought an investigation into the NSA program. Hagel and Snowe threatened last month to join the Democrats' request unless the administration and Congress agreed on a way to bring the wiretap program under the review of FISA's court and Congress.

I suggest calling the offices of all four and reminding them their duty is to the people, not to the President.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's not about "Right to Life" It's about the "Right to be Goodlife."

This is not about moral choices, which abortion most certainly is and like all moral choices, one that must be weighed in light of one's own beliefs and in light of the consequences one is able to cope with.

A choice that is made for you is neither moral, nor a choice.

It's not about the "right to life." Do not speak to me about a "right to life" when in the same breathe precluding the right of the individual to be morally sovereign.

This fight is really not about abortion. I don't really know of anyone who approves of abortion, much less champions it as something that should be available without some questions.

But it's not really about whether or not women should be permitted to choose to bring a pregnancy to term. Since the issue is choice, one must acknowledge that one cannot support the one without supporting the other; compulsory abortion is as vile as compulsory pregnancy.

One would assume that persons of good will who had honestly considered the implications of their belief that all babies - indeed, all pre-implanted zygotes were special, precious and worth every effort to preserve them would do everything in their power to make it possible for women who chose that path to do it properly, thereby largely ensuring abortion would be a rare answer to rare and tragic situations.

Where is the day care? Where is the unstinting support for women and children's health? Indeed, where is the welfare, for those situations when good intentions are smashed by circumstance? Katrina would be one example. The loss of a spouse’s job, or the spouse would be another.

We see none of this. We see no support conceded save within the context of a particular sort of traditional marriage, a type of marriage that most Americans could not nor would not contemplate

This is not about a right to life. Not for anyone. It is about the imposition of a particular lifestyle upon everyone with dire consequences imposed on those who disagree.

But how can they achieve that, given the lack of widespread support for the true cause?

You hide your true agenda.

Let us go back to Roe v. Wade, and before that, to Connecut v. Grizwald. Grizwald was not about abortion; it was about the right of parents to secure birth control, and whether or not it was proper to criminalize giving council about it.

Quoting from the majority decision:

The present case, then, concerns a relationship lying within the zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees. And it concerns a law which, in forbidding the use of contraceptives rather than regulating their manufacture or sale, seeks to achieve its goals by means having a maximum destructive impact upon that relationship. Such a law cannot stand in light of the familiar principle, so often applied by this Court, that a 'governmental purpose to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to state regulation may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms.' NAACP v. Alabama, 377 U.S. 288, 307, 84 S.Ct. 1302, 1314, 12 L.Ed.2d 325. Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The *486 very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.

Emphasis mine.

In fact - as then, as now, such regulations have everything to do with regulating the private behavior of persons, and imposing penalties upon them for seeking to evade certain "moral codes." The law was not aimed at the condom or the diaphragm – it was aimed squarely at the right to choose.

Not just the right to choose a baby or not. It’s not even about the right to choose to plan your family or not. It was aimed at the right to make choices informed by expert, dissenting views.

Now, we can argue the validity of one choice over another from a theological viewpoint until the cows come home - but even then we would be missing the real point. Because the real point is no more about morality or religious mandate than it is about anyone's putative "right to life."

It is, in fact, an attempt to impose upon our culture a rigid, culturally and legally enforced family structure where the man dominates and controls the woman, and the woman exists to breed, enable the domination of the man, and indeed, validate his domination so that he will go out and act that way in the world.

He will, of course fail. Failures will be attributed not to his nature - for only some people are naturally dominant. It will be attributed to his "weakness of faith," for which he must submit to guidance from those blessed with greater faith... yadda yadda, etc.

In a Patriarchy, there is no room for pluralism, even among patriarchs. There is no toleration of even minor variations of will. The only dominant will be the one that succeeds in dominating all others to his will. By whatever means.

This is a vision combining the worst aspects of the last throes of the Holy Roman Empire and the era of the Borgia Popes. It is the wet dream of those who would rule by stealth, who would contemplate and have in fact executed conspiracies and campaigns of lies intended to deceive people of faith.

This is not about abortion. And it is not about reproductive choice. It is not even about the debate as to whether the Constitution implies a "right to privacy."

This is an attempt to establish a capability to remove your right to mind your own private affairs, indeed, to arrange your own private life as you see fit based on your own ideas of right and wrong, of in fact "being responsible" for your own choices and consequences.

Those who would have you choose otherwise are never satisfied with the real consequences of choices they think poor, there's always a tax or a prohibition or a restriction they feel perfectly reasonable to impose "for your own good."

But read the decision again. The court would have had no quarrel with regulation of contraceptives, or even banning them entirely. This law was directly aimed at criminalizing choice, and the activity of informing a choice.

And that is what the people behind the "pro life" people are in favor of. They are really "pro their sort of life." And if you are not Goodlife, you will be made into Goodlife.

That is to say, dead.

The Unintentional Irony of Gov. Huckabee

I stumbled across this story cited in dark_Christian, a livejournal community concerned with keeping an eye on Dominionists, an increasingly influential Christian heresy that believes that the "elect" -that would be them, of course - need to rid the world of all unclean things, and all
Unchristian ideas - like women's suffrage, abortion and "indecent speech" to establish the Kingdom on Earth before Christ can return.

I'm not going to bother explaining WHY this is a heresy, that's not my point. My point is that it's a very seductive ethos for those persons who seek ultimate power over others, for it soothes whatever remaining vestiges of conscience may lurk within their shriveled little souls.

Daily Kos: Gov. Huckabee & Reclaiming America For Christ

The Republican party has a problem. Some of its potential 2008 nominees want religion to replace the state. We saw this earlier with Senator Brownback. And now, let's examine Governor Mike Huckabee, who made a "powerful impression" during the Republican convention down in Memphis. Huckabee has been described as a "moderate" for the 2008 race. Sure, to a crowded room of die-hard Republicans, his rhetoric may not seem extreme. But consider how the following will play to the vast majority of Americans. This weekend, Huckabee spoke at a conference for the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ. The Center's mission is to "To inform, equip, motivate, and support Christians; enabling them to defend and implement the Biblical principles on which our country was founded." The five goals Huckabee aligned himself with are described as the "five key fronts of the modern-day culture war: (1) Religious Liberties, (2) the Sanctity of Life, (3) the Homosexual Agenda, (4) Pornography, and (5) Promoting Creationism." Huckabee made it clear at the group's conference that he shares their goal of dismantling the constitutional wall between church and state:

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Faith is not present enough in politics as candidates and elected officials try to court voters too broadly, fearing their values will splinter their base, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, said Friday at a Christian gathering.

Introduced as a "fine Christian American governor," Huckabee, who is considering a bid for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, said he will always remain true to his beliefs.

"I don't think most Americans are turned off by people of faith. I think they're turned off by people who are phony," Huckabee said to a small group. He added that Christianity is not represented "nearly enough" in Washington.

How can one man be so wrong and yet, so absolutely correct. Many would argue that Washington is absolutely infested with Christians. I say that you could likely turn the capitol into radioactive rubble and not harm a hair on a real Christian's head.

Yes, Governor, we need to send some Christians to Washington. We need to elect some people who's political philosophy is informed by faith, instead of predetermined by false doctrine.
Yours in St. Paul - Fred Phelps.
Real Christians know that the words of Christ are what dictates their actions, and not the precise choice of words in a particularly bad translation, but the actual meaning of the words.

We are told to "Love our neighbor as ourselves." Well, some of these self-proclaimed Christian Leaders have as a fundamental point of doctrine the idea that all persons are fundamentally willful and evil, and given any real choice, will always choose evil over good. This of course means that the "elect" must force people to act in ways they see as good, whether or not there's any true virtue motivating their compliance.

The "elect" are those who have somehow escaped the paradigm of always choosing evil, despite being inherently evil due to the circumstances of original sin and having unavoidably touched their mom's booty during the birth process. Oddly, they have either a lot of money, a lot of political power or a lot of sway over gullible people - and this religion encourages to use that power to override the free choices of others "for their own good."

I don't much care for folks who abuse others in the name of Christ - or any other. I don't much care for people who's essential world view demands that they think the worst of their neighbor.

But here's what I think about Gov. Huckabee.

"I don't think most Americans are turned off by people of faith. I think they're turned off by people who are phony."

You know, Governor, I think you are correct. And that is why I will not support you, your candidacy, or anyone who considers a Dominionist to have an opinion on faith or politics that applies to anyone's conduct other than their own worth considering. Because what I don't believe for a second that you are stupid enough to believe the things you spout - and if you are that stupid or deluded as to think gay bashing, enforced ignorance and the talibanization of america are worthy goals for a President of all the people of these united states you don't deserve to be elected.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Politics, Bullies and Kurt Cobain

Astraea's Politics:
Bob King on Kurt Cobain and School Shootings:

"I remember grade school, at Central Elementary in Hoquiam. Vaguely - most of my memories from that time are hazy, there are few if any good ones, because there was a consistent, semi-official view that children should be allowed to torment kids who were 'different' to make them 'conform to social norms.' And back in the sixties, there were very few permissible variations of 'normal.'"

This is something I wrote some time ago and was reminded of by a note from Astraeas about updating the page it's linked from.

The issues raised in this article keep coming up, and not just in the context of school shootings - although there was one just the other day here in Nevada, and from the responses, few with any ability to do anything or those in a position to talk about the reality behind such events have learned a damn thing.

This abuse continued until my first week of Jr. High, when five stalwarts of the Normalcy Police (Upperclass bullies) backed me against a locker in front of the school office - which ought to tell you something - and told me they were going to beat the crap out of me after school. I'd never laid eyes on any of them, they didn't know me, but the grapevine had told them I was a priority target for their attention, I guess. Possibly they were told by a particular teacher or administrator to "get me squared away." I don't know, but I have dark suspicions.

I wrapped my fist around my brass padlock and informed them at the top of my lungs that it was happening right NOW, where people could see it, and goddamn it, they might hurt me, but one of them *****(long and elaborate string of curses I WISH I could remember)**** was gonna die right there. I was completely sincere.

Needless to say, I was expelled as a troublemaker. The assailants were not even suspended, as I recall, a fact that tends to confirm those dark suspicions.

Apparently I was supposed to let them beat me up and accept my place in the "social order." That was the distinct impression I got from the cold lecture I got from the administration, the people who should have intervened on my behalf and expelled the bullies; instead they had identified me as a potential problem and arranged things so that I could be legitimately expelled, rather than dealing with the issues/problems that I (obviously) had.


A violent reaction should NOT have been necessary. Ever. But since it was, I have no apologies. I spent seven years looking for better options, being given smug lectures on how there are better ways to get along. Being a good child, I tried every one... and all were useless, as they required the participation of other people in the social dance.

You see, you have to be allowed to "get along." It may seem obvious when stated, but all the advice I have ever been given on getting along presumes that if you suppress your reaction to provocation, the provocation will stop. In fact, I've never once seen that occur, in any context, anywhere. Nor is that true at all for socially-clued persons. The way provocation is met is with some form of (reasonable) boundary backed with a credible threat.

What does this have to do with politics and the price of gas?

There's an old saying from the Old West: "Sam Colt made all men equal."

Or in current terms, Kalashnikov.

You don't have to be seven feet tall and covered with hair to deal with Goliath - you just shoot him between the eyes while he's still posturing. This is one of many lessons the Bible teaches that are carefully left undiscussed.

Our approach toward Iraq, Iran - and frankly, every other nation in the world, including Canada, Mexico and even our bestest "friend" Israel boils down to us being willing to do untold violence to those weaker than us - right up to the point of effective resistance.

If we see a genuine threat to us ahead of time; a potential enemy with the power to genuinely hurt us badly, we are suddenly best buddies, or at least, conspicuously uninterested in doing anything about the problems they are creating. For example - North Korea. Goodness, take Israel. Yes, folks, it's casually obvious that if we messed with Israel - short of turning it into a glazed crater - we would pay a very great price.

Come to think of it, that probably would not suffice. When I think of what Israel could do to us, between actual offensive capability and it's covert agencies, I am genuinely terrified. It is not at all in our interests to squish Israel - not even were they just as deserving as, say, North Korea. As for why we do not squish them - consider the reasons above. They are identical.

This is also the reason why the United States has not annexed Canada, despite regular posturing and balloon trials. Canada is fully capable of making nuclear weapons. Indeed, I think the more probable phrase would be "fully capable of assembling them." They are also quite capable of executing precision surgical strikes anywhere in the continental US.

You might also consider one interesting fact - Canada is a participant in Echelon and has full access to at least a portion of the data stream. I do not believe there's a single law preventing Canada from eavesdropping on matters concerning their own national security - and that is primarily the United States, what it has done, what it may do, and what, if anything will Canada have to do about it.

But aside from that, they have constantly updated battle plans that do not involve winning. They involve creating a situation in which the United States loses. There are regular war games as well and Canada has a disturbing tendency to do far better at them than "Blue Team" would prefer.

That is because Canada - and the average Canadian - understands America far better than the average American does and have communicated that understanding - in a discreet, polite, indirect Canadian way.

Consider our reactions to China, to North Korea; to Saudi Arabia - with all the oil in the world - and Pakistan, who with Saudi Arabia is more directly a terrorist threat with it's Madrasses and it's bombs than any five Iraqs.

The sum total of US foreign policy for at least as long as I can remember has been to pick on those we can abuse without much consequence in order to "send a message" to those we are actually concerned could hurt us if we pulled that sort of thing on them.

This sort of calculation has not always worked out well for us, Karma aside.

Indeed, I'm trying to think of an instance where it genuinely worked out well. All I can think of are occasions where it was less bad than others.

However, it is not the people who reason the same way they did in High School, who's entire social paradigm was formed by their football coach, and who take that into politics who suffer the backlash.

It's our soldiers - many of whom never made it all the way through high school. Oh, many of them are doing the same in smaller ways - the training includes that very paradigm, it's assumptions are included in approaches to both combat and civilian affairs. Abu Ghrab proves that enough buy into it to be a severe problem for the balance of our forces.

However, this is not "blame the solder" time. It's not even "Blame the Pentagon" time. The Pentagon did not make the decision to go into Iraq. George Bush signed those papers. The CINC is supposed to understand these things, to know when force will achieve desirable results and when it will not, and to understand the strengths and weaknesses of our forces well enough to know the tipping point.

But our Commander in Chief is a bully himself. Bullies are not deep thinkers. There are a lot of self-justifying mantras and an incredible load of double and triple-think that gets in the way of rational decision-making. In the case of choosing to go to war, that includes understanding your enemy well enough to defeat them.

Have you read, or at least skimmed the reasons why Osama Bin Ladin "declared war" on the United States?

I have. I have found that there are some issues on which he is absolutely, inarguably correct. There are other areas in which it's clear he's been winding his turban too tightly and these areas are pretty much the same things that Pat Roberson and his ilk wax apoplectic about.

Now, you might wonder why it's important to know what nutballs like Robertson or Bin-Laden (clearly the more rational of the two) think.

Well, first, one needs to deterimine whether they will permit you to tolerate their existence. Tolerance without any expectation of being tolerated is suicidal.

Bullies will not allow you to tolerate them. They provoke, until you conform, comply or resort to violence - a response that allows them to justify doing precisely what they intended to do all along ; beat you up until you have satisfied their need to feel dominant. Given the opportunity, a bully WILL beat you until you submit until they are forced to submit or retreat or until one or both of you is dead. Knowing this makes it fairly easy to come up with an effective resistance.

For details, consult your newsfeeds.

But our leaders and the leaders Islamic versions of funnymentalism are no different. They genuinely feel that "toleration" is a vile word, that the world must be forced to comply with their will, which they see flowing from the Koran or the Old Testament - assuming that their reasoning is even that sophisticated.

The interesting thing here is that every single general - hell, every single well-informed soldier, every warrior in the field on BOTH sides has read Sun Tsu's "Art of War." Given that, and given the clear motivations and mindsets of both sides - victory should have been in someone's grasp within months - assuming it actually came to military action in the first place.

Sun Tsu advised that "Superior Mastery at Warfare involves victory without battle." Getting to kill people is not the point, nor does a large pile of skulls indicate victory. Were that true, the Khmer Rouge would own all of Southeast Asia by now.

But this is not war; it is not a War on Terror, nor is it a Jehad against Godless Western Imperialism. It's not about freedom, nor justice, or even religious principles. It is purely and simply a war OF terror - or if you prefer, two tribes of chimpanzees baring their fangs, beating their chests and urinating on each other.

True Muslims, Christians and Jews, liberal, conservative, orthodox and otherwise are completely unconfused on this point, unimpressed by public displays of piety that conceal "a ravening beast within." They are, of course, outnumbered by those who see religion as the opiate of the masses and a path to power over others.

Indeed, a great deal of their effort goes into controlling and profiting from competing opiates, like heroin and Scientology. Civilized people need to realize that a perpetual state of warfare is to the advantage of those who's motives are fundamentally UNcivilized, who dislike the give and take of Mars Hill, the reasoned debates in the Senate of Republican Rome - and for more telling examples - Question Period in the Canadian and British Parlements.

I snicker just thinking of what rude usage George Bush would be put to in either place.

But I'm not outraged that our nation is a bully. This is an accident of history and geography, and there few nations and few civilizations that have much moral high ground on the matter. We are just the latest example, following England, Spain, the Dutch , the French, the Chinese, the Japanese; ... pretty much anyone in the UN representing more than two villages and a mud-puddle. Sometimes that's why that's all they have left to represent.

There is no percentage in being outraged at human beings behaving in ways that are entirely human. But such deplorable expressions of "humanity" can be easily defeated by those who first understand their own motives, and then are willing to see the humanity in the other side; to forgive, to understand, to tolerate if possible or to eradicate them from the gene pool if not.

The difficulty arises when both sides are equally blinded by identical, largely unadmitted and unconscious motivations to dominate others. The best case outcome is that both sides do enough damage to each other to render themselves mutually impotent.

Please note the outpouring of support for the United States, the loyal allies rushing to aid us in what we so fondly call a "War on Terror."

But if you think WE are screwed - do you see any significant support for radical islamic funnymentalism?

Hell, our rhetoric is about the only thing propping them up at this point. If people in their regions were not already aware of their nature, their actions have brought it home. These people are mad, bad and dangerous to know - and not just because they are targets for bombings and missilings - because they will cheerfully slit your throat for insufficient piety.

People may yet have to appease them - but they are appeased by being given the opportunity to oppose an equally troubling threat. That would be us.

The opinion of the world is "a pox upon both houses." To the extent that radical clerics and fighters are getting aid from various nations, it serves primarily to enable the hotheads to go elsewhere and experience the martyrdom they so richly deserve. Consider how much more they could be doing, how very easy it would be to turn this situation into outright regional, if not global warfare. Instead, both "sides" are being encouraged to exhaust their resources and treasure until they are no longer a threat to anyone.

It's a policy I find entirely agreeable and civilized - save for one, small, trivial matter. I get to share the consequences of my government's stupidity.

However, in my small way, I will enjoy being able to say "I told you so, and so did Jesus, Mohammed and Sun Tsu."

By the way, I fully expect some asshat to ask me how I would "win the war on terror."

I'd tell them right now, but this is already overlong, and one must encourage dialogue.

First, because it's the first choice for everyone who is serious about resolving conflict and solving the actual problems conflicts arise from. And second - it's one of the most reliable ways of identifying those who are unwilling or unable to tolerate the stated needs, limits and boundaries of others.

In the second point, you will find the essence of my solution.


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