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- FRC working to keep US from exerting pressure against Uganda's kill-the-gays bill
'According to the [Family Research Council's] official lobbying report for the first quarter of 2010, they paid two of their henchmen $25,000 to lobby Congress against approving a resolution denouncing Uganda's plan to execute homosexuals. The resolution passed in the Senate on April 13th, but remains languishing in the House almost four months after being referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Did the FRC's lobbying kill it? As we learned last week with Malawi, international pressure CAN sway even the most virulently anti-gay government.'
Before the Uganda bill surfaced, I was having an argument with some breeder-privileged fuck on Facebook who told me I was overreacting when I said that the same religious right activist groups and churches who cheated, lied, and stole in order to strip us of marriage equality had, as their ultimate goal, our murder. I think stuff like this pretty definitively proves I was not overreacting.
They may not often say they want us dead. They may bitch and moan when we try to expose their actions, or their donor lists. They may say "hate the sin, love the sinner" out of one side of their mouths while they invoke fire and brimstone out of the other. They may want to offshore our murder to the third world, where they hope it will go unnoticed by the American media. But the Family sends missionaries over to Uganda to push them to introduce legislation calling for our round-up and execution, and the imprisonment of anyone who tries to help us there; then, when word gets out, the FRC lobbies to try and stop the US from exerting any diplomatic pressure to oppose the bill.
They ultimately want to kill us, plain and simple.
'Unmanned aircraft have proved their usefulness and reliability in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the pressure's on to allow them in the skies over the United States...
'"There is a tremendous pressure and need to fly unmanned aircraft in (civilian) airspace," Hank Krakowski, FAA's head of air traffic operations, told European aviation officials recently. "We are having constant conversations and discussions, particularly with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, to figure out how we can do this safely with all these different sizes of vehicles."'
What could possibly go wrong?
- Disturbing Kagan memo from '96: She sides with Mormons, thinks anti-discrimination laws limit freedom of religion
In her role working in the Clinton administration in 1996, Elena Kagan wrote a memo which "urged Clinton to side with religious conservatives in a case dealing with a landlord's objection to renting to an unmarried couple, because it went against his religious beliefs."
Kagan has left little to constitute a record -- and I agree with Greenwald that that's a troubling indicator that she's placed her own ambition ahead of any deeply-held principles that she might have left behind in written opinions. That, out of a paucity of opinions generally, she should have left such a pro-religious-right opinion as this is, seems to me a pretty searing indictment of our "fierce advocate's" nominee, and, obviously, has deeply disturbing implications for the chances this Supreme Court might give a DoMA-repeal victory, let alone challenges to hate crimes legislation or ENDA, should that somehow pass.
Given Obama's pro-corporate and anti-gay actions generally, she seems like a perfect fit for him.
- Compare and constrast
'"The President undertook health care because it was the right thing for the country even though it was politically risky," White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said. "We don’t share the media’s obsession with poll numbers, particularly months and months from an election."'
'CHENEY: On the security front, I think there’s a general consensus that we’ve made major progress, that the surge has worked. That’s been a major success.
'RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.
'RADDATZ So? You don’t care what the American people think?
'CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.'
Change we can believe in.
(To be clear: Polls indicate that most people opposed to the recent health care legislation are on crack and think it's some sort of socialism, but that a substantial minority (of which I'm a part) opposes it because it's too conservative -- in my case because it's a wealth-transfer from working-class Americans to the insurance industry, without much in the way of meaningful protections, and with right-wing, misogynist restrictions on reproductive rights, plus a big chunk of change for abstinence-only 'education.' Regardless, Obama doesn't seem to be doing a great job of bringing people together on this issue: he's pissed off the right, yet made countless 'concessions' to Republicans that didn't manage to convince Republicans to vote for it, yet alienated and disheartened huge swathes of the Democratic electorate. And his administration's continued spouting of new right-wing talking points gets depressing.)
- Obama issues orders Health and Human Services to prevent discrimination against partners of gay patients for hospital visitation rights
This is definitely good news. The cynic in me, though, wonders at the timing, and the scope -- if Obama suddenly has found the courage and ability to issue statements on this, what's preventing him from doing so on DADT, etc.? And could this be to distract gays' attention from his administration's mishandling of DADT -- handling so dire and disingenuous that even the obsequious Barney Frank was moved to call out the administration on it?
I also wonder about this bit: "This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person." What the hell does that mean?
Still, if this prevents even one repeat of the despicable, mean-spirited, bigoted, and unchristian (yet cloaked in the hypocritical language of Christian 'values') behavior of Miami's evil Jackson Memorial Hospital towards Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, it'll be fantastic.
- Propaganda: Greenwald on Obama's paid informant and Cass Sunstein's hilariously ironic infiltration plan
'In the midst of my lengthy discussion yesterday of Cass Sunstein's proposal to "cognitively infiltrate extremist groups" by employing covert agents and secretly paying so-called "independent" analysts to tout the government line, I noted the recent controversy surrounding MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber. Specifically, Gruber was receiving large, undisclosed payments from the Obama administration at exactly the time when the Obama White House (and Gruber himself) were holding him out as an "objective" expert endorsing various parts of the President's health care plan...
'I noted that many Democrats who strenuously objected to non-disclosure scandals during the Bush years have been minimizing the conduct at issue in the Gruber matter...
'Minimizing or excusing unethical behavior when done by Your Side is exactly what normalizes the behavior, and turns ethical failures into nothing more than a partisan tool cynically used by each side, which in turn trivializes these issues.'
Why do I get the feeling that Obama apologists (and I must sadly include Krugman in that list now) seem to be becoming just as relativistic as Bush apologists were during the last administration?
- Probation over for single-payer advocates that Sen. Max Baucus had arrested
'"Despite the outpouring of requests," said Katie Robbins of Healthcare-Now.org, "we were clearly told that [single-payer advocates] would be excluded. This cemented our growing impression that the healthcare debate was at best, political theater, and that we would have to try a different tactic in order that the only really affordable health reform solution, that addresses the real health care needs of 100% of our nation be heard."
'Kevin Zeese of ProsperityAgenda.US called the committee "pay to play" because, as he said, "Every seat at the Roundtable was bought by the lobbyists. Senator Baucus received nearly $2 million in campaign contributions from the health industry in 2008 and the entire Senate Finance Committee received over $13 million in 2008...”
'In addition to probation, the prosecutor insisted that the three defendants who lived in the Washington, DC area also perform 40 hours of community service. "I spend every day serving my community," said Adam Schneider who is employed by Health Care for the Homeless. "I'm proud of the stand we took and had no problem doing an extra 40 hours of service to my community. But if there was any justice in the world, Senator Baucus and his corporate sponsors would have also been required to spend 40 hours with my clients to understand their desperate need for access to healthcare before they give a $500 billion bailout to the private health insurance industry."
- (old): spokesman for Stand for Marriage Maine, Bob Emrich, praises Uganda's death-to-gays legislation
'Bob Emrich is the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Bible Church in Plymouth, Maine. He was also a campaign leader and spokesman for Stand for Marriage Maine, the organization primarily responsible for the passage of Question 1 which reversed the Maine Legislature’s law enacting marriage equality. Emrich was, in many ways, the voice and face of the anti-gay marriage movement in Maine...'
Emrich sent out an email:
'I have just recently returned from two weeks in Uganda, ministering the Word among village pastors and Churches... But as I work my way back into ministry here at Emmanuel Bible Baptist Church (Plymouth) and with the Maine Jeremiah Project, I wanted to share the following article I found in Uganda’s largest daily newspaper. I had tucked it into my journal and found it yesterday as I reviewed some of my scribbling. I think it speaks for itself, but I hope you will wonder, as I do, where our own culture lost its way.'
The article he cites includes such examples of Christian philosophy as this:
'No wonder when a brilliant MP comes up with a Bill against homosexuality, the human rights activists baptise him an enemy of the people.'
As Kincaid concludes at BTB, it is indeed very difficult not to believe that Mr Emrich is praising the Ugandan bill, and wishing that "The West" could be more like Uganda in terms of how it treats gay people.
Putting the lie to the notion that, just because they don't want us to be married, doesn't mean they hate us or wish us harm. These guys are neck deep in the effort to impose state-sanctioned murder on gays in Uganda -- and neck-deep in the effort to repeal equal marriage rights at the state level. I have trouble seeing the part of their philosophy Christ would have liked.
- Matt Taibbi on Geithner lifting the cap on aid to Fannie and Freddie -- and on the conspiracy of the banking industry, the Fed, and the media to loot the treasury
'For what we’ve learned in the last few years as one scandal after another spilled onto the front pages is that the bubble economies of the last two decades were not merely monstrous Ponzi schemes that destroyed trillions in wealth while making a small handful of people rich. They were also a profound expression of the fundamentally criminal nature of our political system, in which state power/largess and the private pursuit of (mostly short-term) profit were brilliantly fused in a kind of ongoing theft scheme that sought to instant-cannibalize all the wealth America had stored up during its postwar glory, in the process keeping politicians in office and bankers in beach homes while continually moving the increasingly inevitable disaster to the future.
'That is a terrible story and it is also sort of a taboo story, since we don’t really have a system of media now that is willing or even able to digest that dark and complicated truth. Instead, our media — which has always been at best an inadvertent accomplice to these messes — is basically set up to take every revelation about the underlying truth and split it down the middle, feeding half to one side of the political spectrum and one half to the other, where the actual point is then burned up in the useless smoke of a blame game...
'Everyone had a hand in the bubble, from the congressmen who killed regulatory initiatives to the regulators who snoozed at the wheel to the GSEs to the Fed to the banks to the ratings agencies to the lenders. I don’t think it’s really controversial to say that, but it does seem like there’s an argument brewing about what that across-the-board complicity means...
'This GSE story is a big one, but if it gets used as a path back to a "The Market Reacted Rationally" version of history, we’re screwed. It has to be looked at as an important part of a diabolical whole, a symbiotic scheme in which the banks and the state were irreversibly intertwined in an enterprise that on both sides was never about market economics, but crime. Because otherwise… the diversionary notion that one side or the other is wholly to blame is part of what makes the whole scam possible.'
Taibbi's been writing very lucid analyses of big industry evil and corruption lately, both in the insurance and banking markets.
- Coverage of the Olson/Boies Federal court challenge to Proposition 8
Comments thread is entertaining:
'The high court on Monday said it will not allow video of the trial to be posted on YouTube.com, even with a delay, until the justices have more time to consider the issue. It said that Monday's order will be in place at least until Wednesday...'
'Judge Walker just said [that of the public comments he solicited regarding whether the trial should be broadcast, there were] 138,542 in favor and 32 opposed. Number of comments were [sic] received by 5:00PM Friday...'
'The same people who are advocating that prop 8 remain the law of the land because of its popularity with the people of California (52% is hardly all of the people), want total anonymity at trial while "the people" vote to see it on Youtube at over 4,000 to one! LOL'
The blatant hypocrisy of the defense is entertaining, but the idea that bigotry proponents are subject to violence if they make their views public is a dangerous meme, particularly when reinforced by the SCOTUS. An obviously absurd claim, its reiteration erases the violence and bigotry, the increased incidence of hate crimes, done to gay people in the wake of Proposition 8 -- not to mention the fundamental violence of stripping millions of Californians of their rights, which Proposition 8 itself did.
- New modern music in Cambridge: Xenia Pestova and Gabriela Diaz perform Bunk and Xenakis at a BMOP Club Concert
Last night (Feb. 9, 2011) we attended what was perhaps the most interesting program of any concert I've attended in the Boston area: works for toy piano, piano, and violin, performed with competence and gusto, all but one accompanied by tape or live electronics, and all but one by young, living composers
- Weekend Festivities, or Jon Stewart and the Illusion of a Two-Party System
I feel that the enthusiasm and attendance we saw amongst self-described progressives at the Rally to Restore Sanity and Keep Fear Alive this weekend are some of the most troubling displays ever of corporate monopolization of political discourse in the United States. I see this as evidence that cults of personality and media spectacle have come to replace intelligent discussion and objective evaluation of policy in the modern left, though I hope I'm wrong.
- My first attempt at casting concrete
I've wanted to play around with concrete for a while -- it seems pleasingly plastic, sturdy, and amenable to DIY. I finally found a good opportunity two weekends ago. Here's what I learned.
- Testing and mocks using Rails Plugins
A while ago, I embarked on a work project that entailed refactoring a Rails application into a plugin, containing most of the core functionality, and a set of applications that used that plugin. Given how easy Rails makes a lot of test-driven development, I was somewhat surprised to find a lack of discussion or documentation about best practices for pain-free testing of both the core plugin and the applications -- so I figured it out myself.
- Christian Tetzlaff at NEC Jordan Hall, January 31, 2010
A great program and a human performance full of musicianship and drama...
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