Friday, October 31, 2008

Concerted attack brings down No on 8 website.

Those folk who are doing “God’s work” by attacking marriage rights for same-sex couples continue to show their utter lack of morality, decency or honesty. If anything, as the election approaches, they are becoming more vicious in their campaign.

I have already outlined how the Prop 8 campaign in California has been lying to the public about the first graders who were taken by their parents to greet their teacher at city hall after her wedding. Prop 8 dropped all references to this being done by the parents and claimed it was proof how state schools will “indoctrinate” children on gay marriage. The Prop 8 supporters picked up the lie and have been spreading it around.

Then the official Prop 8 campaign, funded mostly by Mormons, used photos of the children in a television ad which repeated their lies about what happened. This was done against the express wishes of the parents and with utter disregard about the children who Prop 8 shamelessly exploited to promote their lies.

The man who created the lying ads for Prop 8 is Frank Schubert so the parents of the children went directly to him to appeal for a removal of their children from his dishonest ads. The Sacramento Bee reported on the situation. “Neither Schubert nor others in his office would speak to the two parents. Schubert’s office called security and guard escorted them out of the building. The parents left a letter saying, “We appeal to your sense of decency as a parent to take those ads off the air and off your web site.”

That is the mistake of the parents. They appealed to his sense of decency. The Prop 8 campaign has exhibited a profound lack of a sense of decency. Asking them to be decent is like asking a pauper for $500.

The second desperate incident is, in some ways more serious. Much of the money raised by the opposition to this odious amendment has done on-line. The No on 8 campaign had learned of another $1 million in Mormon funding that was given to the liars at the Yes on 8 offices from Utah -- this $1 million came from the grandson of a former president of the Mormon church. The No on 8 campaign issued an appeal for individuals to go to their site and contribute funds to match this money,

While this fund-raising campaign was gearing up someone started a denial-of-service attack on the No on 8 web site to prevent the fund-raising. The campaign began receiving fake requests for information via the site. As the requests began to mount it prevented legitimate donors from accessing the site and eventually the site was brought down by the attack.

In what can only be called a coincidence, if you are really naive, the opposition to Florida’s Amendment 2, which is another church funded antigay initiative, was also hit by a denial-of-service attack at about the same time.

Precisely why is it that the people who claim to defend morality are acting so immorally? Why is it that the defenders of decency are running such indecent campaigns? And how is it possible that people who are “pro-family” are spending so much time and money trying to hurt the families of others?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We are all sex offenders now -- Happy Halloween.

One can almost bet that a politician is, right this moment, concocting some new stupid piece of legislation. And he will crow if he manages to pass the new absurdity into law -- and the more absurd it is, the more likely it is that it will pass.

Consider that we are now about to enter Halloween. It is not a holiday I have ever particularly enjoyed, not even as a child. And my general response has been to ignore it. I don’t wear a costume and I don't say “trick or treat” or hand out candy treats. Maybe I’m a spoil-sport but I don’t care for the day. So I’d usually turn off the lights and curl up in front of the television and watch a good movie, or maybe a not-so-good movie.

Now I can’t. The morons who get elected to office seem intent on making it dangerous to ignore Halloween, perhaps even deadly. Let me explain how this happening.

Politicians like to solve “problems” especially where there really is no problem after all. And Halloween gives them such an opportunity. In all the years of Halloween the scare stories are more scary than the real stories. In actuality one child has been abducted while going out trick or treating. That was 35 years ago. Only one case.

But the politicians in their campaign to rile up the public about sex offenders (a label that is given out easily and for some very non-serious issues -- such as streaking, urinating at the side of the road, or sex between two teenagers) are intentionally fanning the flames of fear for their own personal profit.

In South Carolina anyone deemed a sex offender is forbidden to give out candy on Halloween and is required to turn out the porch light -- to pretend they aren’t home. In New York an “offender” is forbidden to hand out candy, answer the door, possess candy or wear a costume on Halloween.

In Missouri a judge judiciously put a halt to some of the bizarre regulations on sex offenders, such as forbidding them to engage in any Halloween activity with their own children. But they are still required to turn off the lights and pretend they aren’t home.

And that pisses me off. I’ve been turning out my porch light and pretending I’m not home for years. And I’m no sex offender, registered or otherwise. So now my problem is what do I do this year? If I turn out the lights, and don’t answer the door, is that the same thing as advertising “sex offender here!!!!”?

One can’t ignore the damn holiday without possibly getting accused of being an offender. For years I’ve safely ignored the holiday. Now, what will the neighbors think? Will they assume that the light is off because a sex offender lives here? Or will they just think an old grump who doesn’t care for being annoyed on Halloween is here? I don’t mind the old grump reputation -- I’ve earned it. But damn, that sex offender thing upsets me. The only offending thing about my sex life is that there is damn so little of it. And that doesn’t seem to bother other people much -- just me.

Ever since the witchhunt hysterias of the days of McMartin and dozens of other such fake child molestation cases I have judiciously and cautiously avoided even the appearance of any involvement with someone underage. I don’t hang around where kids hang around -- actually that would be annoying to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been alone with a kid in years. I avoid even speaking to kids I don’t know. Being male in a dangerous thing and some asshole is quite likely to make up accusations, and just the accusations alone can ruin your life. So I’ve done my best to stay away from even the appearance of something like this.

And one way I did that was just avoiding Halloween. (Quite honestly, I’ve always ignored the holiday but this was another reason for doing so, just not my original, primary reason.) Now ignoring Halloween is a sign that one is a sex offender, thanks to these laws.

The other thing I know is that with the hysteria that the politicians have been feeding it is not safe to be a sex offender. Several people assumed to be offenders have been attacked, some have been killed. A podiatrist in the UK faced continual harassment because stupid individuals confused podiatrist with pedophile. Individuals who moved into homes previously occupied by registered sex offenders found their address was still listed on-line and they were harassed and attacked by vigilantes out to protect kiddies.

So the mere whisper, or suspicion of being some sort of sex offender, is enough to cause you physical harm and all sorts of grief. Now ignoring Halloween is a sign of being a sex offender. All of this to address the “problem” of offenders attacking children on Halloween -- something that only happened once almost four decades ago. The odds that anyone is being protected by these relatively new laws is extremely small -- probably non-existent. But come Halloween, numerous states will be sending their cops out to make sure offenders have turned off their porch lights.

The majority of offenses that qualify one as a sex offender have nothing to do with children anyway. So a man, who got drunk, fondled a woman against her will, and is a sex offender, is now considered a threat to children for eternity. Come Halloween the police will be making sure he isn’t wearing a costume, doesn’t own any candy and has his porch light off -- good time to be a criminal since the cops will be occupied.

Sure, that sort of misallocation of police resources is upsetting. But what really has me pissed off is that I may have to hand out candy this year lest it be assumed that my disdain for the practice proves I’m something I’m not. Of course, this sort of bizarre absurdity can only be created when politicians get involved. In one of the Tremors sci-fi films the character Burt told two government agents: “Why don’t you guys go do what you do best. Take something simple and complicate it.” Well, that is what the politicians have done with Halloween. If I turn out my light, to have the evening to myself, I could be assumed to be a sex offender thanks to the politicians. But handing kiddies candy in the dark of night is supposedly a sign of a child molester -- hence the reason for the ban. Handing out candy is suspicious and not handing out candy is suspicious, perhaps we have reached the final outcome of this hysterical earlier than I thought -- we are all sex offenders now.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

How low they will go nobody knows.

I had very low expectations for the decency and honesty of the circus of religionists who are running the Yes on 8 antigay campaign in California. But I have to confess, they have sunk far lower than I anticipated.

Previously this blog discussed how this political campaign issued a press release basically lying about a group of children who were taken to City Hall by their parents to greet a teacher who had been married. The Yes on 8 campaign issued statements about how the charter school, the children attended, was indoctrinating children and “teaching gay marriage”.

Now the campaign has issued a television ad using images of the school children and repeating the lie. In their ad they never once mention that it was the parents of the children who took them to City Hall. And, to clarify, the children waited outside City Hall to greet their teacher, they did not attend the wedding as the Yes on 8 campaign has pretended.

Of course the parents of these children are furious. The children went to City Hall because their parents requested it! They went during lunch hour, they took public transit to get there (not a school bus), and they went with parents. But Yes on 8 is lying to the voters in order to strip gay couples of their rights -- gee, it’s a good thing the Yes on 8 campaign is run by “good Christians”. Imagine how nasty and dishonest they would be if they weren’t such fine, moral, upstanding individuals!

Parents of the children, whose photos were used without permission in the Yes on 8 ad have asked that the campaign stop using images of their children. Of course, since the Yes on 8 campaign is so concerned about the well-being of children they told the parents that they would refuse to comply. One mother of a child, Laura Hodder said: “You can’t use children’s images in political statements like this. No one asked us to use our children. No one talked to us about this. And I feel like my children are being manipulated.”

Of course, the kids are being manipulated by the Yes on 8 campaign, whose integrity is on the same level as their honesty. The Yes on 8 campaign doesn’t care about children and certainly it doesn’t care about these children. Children are a smokescreen, a political device used by fanatics in their hate propaganda. Those wanting the right to control others constantly claim “it’s for the children”. Hitler saved kids from Jews -- just read the Nazi propaganda articles published by Julius Streicher. And the fanatics in Yes on 8 are saving children from their teachers and parents.

Two sets of the parents of the children issued a statement denouncing the lies about their children. Those parents were Laura Hodder and Matt Alexander, and Jen Pres and James Moore.

Not only did the Yes on 8 campaign lie in the ad but they stole private property. The photo of the children used in the Yes on 8 television ad was aired without permission of the San Francisco Chronicle which owns the rights of the photo in question. The parents also asked the Chronicle to exert their right the photo owner to stop this.

One of the parents, Matt Alexander, is himself a school principle and he said: “I’m a school principle so I know something about education and parents rights. And the opt out law is something we readily apply all the time. so let me join every other educator in the state and ask Prop 8 to also stop lying about the opt out law.” The Yes on 8 campaign has denied that parents have the right to decline sex education for their children in spite of it happening all the time.

Jen Press, one of the mother’s noted that the Yes on 8 campaign is inherently antifamily. “"Prop 8 claims to be about families, but we're here to say you can't be for families by attacking our families. You can't be for families and take these children's innocent images and flash them not only on television statewide, but on your fund raising page. This must stop right now."

But lying for Jesus seems popular with the Yes on 8 fanatics. And as more polls, except the manipulated poll they released, show that they are losing they are getting desperate. The New York Times quotes several fundamentalists saying that they absolutely must win this campaign if their agenda is to go forward. Chuck Colson, convicted Watergate criminal and born-again preacher, said they had to stop the “gay-marriage juggernaut” and said it was Armageddon. He said: “We lose this, we are going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion.” How allowing freedom to others takes away one’s own freedom is beyond me.

The far-Right Family Research Council said the vote in California is “more important than the presidential election”. Tony Perkins, a spokesman for this group said, “we will not survive if we lose the institution of marriage.” Of course marriage isn’t being lost at all. Apparently allowing people you hate to marry is losing marriage.

And, to “prove” their point the Yes on 8 campaign brought over a fundamentalist minister from Sweden who was prosecuted under Sweden’s hate speech laws for his rabid antigay sermons. To be clear, I oppose hate speech laws but such laws ARE NOT marriage laws. Marriage laws had nothing to do with this bigots problems and the Yes on 8 campaign knows it.

But the logic of the fundamentalist is not bound by normal rational though processes.

The Times reports that fundamentalist have gone on fasts to show their spirituality and apparently to manipulate God into rigging the election. One minister moved his seven children to California to hold public pray-ins because “there is a spiritual battle in an unseen realm”. Clue: that fundy talk to say that they are fighting alleged demon possession.

As the campaign moves closer to election expect the Yes on 8 campaign to go even lower. They literally have no moral compass at all and will do whatever it takes to add bigotry to the state constitution. You may think my view of these Christians was overblown before. But just watch them. They are proving my point far beyond what even I expected from them.

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Two cheers for Tom Campbell.

Two cheers for Tom Campbell. Campbell is the former Congresscritter for Silicon Valley. He got more issues right than most his compatriots. He sought the Senate but a far less sane politician, Diane Feinstein, was elected instead.

Recently Campbell wrote a piece at Reason on Proposition 8. His said: “It was really quite a stretch for the California Supreme Court to say that the Constitution of California already contains a right for same-sex marriage, when the Constitution doesn’t say a word about it.” I’ll get back to this in a second but I first want to say why I’m given Campbell two cheers.

He says that “the Court got it wrong” and “It’s for us to decide, Now, let’s make the right decision. And that right decision, in my view, is to allow same-sex marriage in California.” Considering he’s a Republican that is quite a step. He’s sure light years ahead of Ron Paul on the issue. He’s even ahead of Bob Barr, of the (formerly) Libertarian Party.

But Campbell didn’t get three cheers because he got something very fundamental wrong. The California Supreme Court didn’t find a right to marry in the Constitution. (By the way I think there is a right to marry covered in the 9th Amendment of the US Constitution and that this would apply to the states under the 14th Amendment).

What the Court found was that the California Constitution guarantees quite explicitly equal protection before the law. The state must have a compelling reason to deny equality before the law. The Court said that when California created a legal contract called marriage it was obligated to provide it equally because such equality is guaranteed -- not that marriage is guaranteed.

There is no Constitutional right to state education, it is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. But, if the state provides education, then it ought to do so equally unless there is some clear, compelling reason not to do so. A government school wouldn’t have the right to exclude Jews, Mormons, Blacks, etc.

If the State exclude Catholic students the Supreme Court would be compelled to rule that this exclusion was unconstitutional and that Catholics must be admitted. But in so doing it would not discover the heretofore unknown right to state education -- it is nowhere near that neck of the woods. It would do so based on the equality of rights. When the State created government schools it created the civil right to a state education and the equality clause of the state constitution would obligate it to admit Catholic students.

California could legally end gay marriage tomorrow by ending all marriage. That would comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling because the Court ruled on the basis of equality not on the basis of a newly minted right to marry. So, I think, Mr. Campbell has his premise wrong. He got his conclusion right however. And it politics that is a rare feat.

PS: My apologies for the delay in posting new material. I've been traveling and unable to access the internet.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

False poll pushed in California.

I recently said that it is my observation that religious people seem more willing to falsify claims and I used the lies being spread by the religious coalition that is backing Proposition 8 to strip gays of equal marital rights. Some people were unhappy about that -- generally religious people. I expected as much.

But I stated my observations because they are my observations and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. The false claims that were recently made, and are still be promulgated, by the Yes on 8 campaign were such obvious falsifications that one can’t attribute them to carelessness or simply having a different view.

Now the followers who spread these lies were not quite guilty of the same sin. The originators at Yes on 8 knew the facts and lied about them. The followers just stupidly accepted them because they corresponded with their pre-existing prejudices and beliefs. There were guilty of merely refusing to investigate the truth. They were avoiding the truth not falsifying it.

Another example of this sort of bald-faced dishonesty was recently exhibited by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization that has poured over $1 million into the antigay campaign in California.

They publicized a poll they commissioned on their web site which they say proves that Prop 8 is going to pass easily. But the way they conducted this poll was inherently dishonest. They revised the wording of the actual ballot initiative. On the ballot Prop 8 is described thusly: “Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry.” In the poll it was” Limit on Marriage Constitutional Amendment” to “say that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid...” They make no mention of it removing rights from gay couples.

But these pollsters didn’t ask people simple questions about whether they support Prop 8 or oppose it. They engaged in a shady practice called “push polling”. This practice skews the results intentionally as a political tactic. It isn’t meant at finding out what people think but is an attempt to change how they think.

An instance of this would be someone polling people with the question: “Would you vote for Candidate A., if you discovered he recently beat his wife until she was bloody before violently attacking his children?” A proper polling question asks what someone thinks. An improper polling question makes arguments for a particular position in order to skew the results. That is what the Knights of Columbus did with their so-called poll.

Here are a few of their questions. Voters were asked whether they would support or oppose Proposition 8 “if they learned that...”

If Proposition 8 passes, gay or lesbian couples will still be able to form civil unions and have the same rights as married heterosexual couples. If Proposition 8 fails, heterosexual couples who want to be legally married in a church that won’t perform same sex marriage would then have to be married outside their church. If Proposition 8 fails, priests, ministers, and other clergy who won’t perform same-sex marriages because of their religious beliefs will face lawsuits and may lose their right to perform heterosexual marriages.
It is surprising with questions like this that any voters were opposed to Proposition 8. I’d vote for Prop 8 if this were true. That it isn’t true doesn’t seem to matter to this Catholic organization. The initiative takes away the right of gay couples to marry. If gays don’t have the right to marry then how do they have all the same rights that married straight couples have. One has the right to marry, the other does not.

And the California Supreme Court, in the ruling on the legality of gay marriage, said that no religious institution has to change their beliefs. No one can be forced to perform gay weddings.

Another “question” claimed that schools will be forced to teach gay marriage. All the major education officials in the state have said this is simple not true. The president of the State Board of Education said this was “political campaigning at its worst.” But what are facts when your defending the faith?

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Monday, October 20, 2008

How Progressives helped the Religious Right mug gay rights.

There are issues where the Progressives, from the classical liberal view, are on target, or close enough for government work. Social freedom tends to be that area. They deserve thanks for leading the battle to expand the rights of gay people until they are coequal to those granted heterosexual. Liberalism, that is true liberalism, as Hayek noted is always ready to expand liberty into new areas which terrify conservatives. So true liberals and Progressives have some common ground in those areas.

And many Progressives are disturbed by the well-funded campaign of religious zealots to strip gay couples of marriage rights in California. As am I. But what our Progressive friends don’t realize, recognize or, perhaps even know, is that Progressives were the accomplices of the Religious Right in this campaign to strip people of their rights. They made this antigay campaign possible. To understand how let us look at some history.

America’s founders were not advocates of democratic rule. They worried that people’s passions were too easily riled up by demagogues and that mobs could easily be persuaded to strip individuals or minorities of their rights. The Founders tried to avoid the tyranny of the majority. They created a government that was inherently anti-majoritarian in many ways -- certainly it was openly antidemocratic. The president was not elected directly, he was elected by electors not by the people. And while most people still don’t understand the Electoral College that is pretty much how it is done today.

Secondly, the Founders had the Senate representing the states not the people. They were appointed by each state legislature not directly elected.

The third branch of government was the Supreme Court where justices were appointed by the president (himself not directly elected) and approved by the Senate (which was not directly elected). To give it an even stronger antidemocratic nature they made sure the Justices were appointed for life and couldn’t be removed by popular vote.

The reason they did this was simple. They were not establishing a democracy but a free society where the rights of all people would be respected -- at least that was the goal whatever failings they had in achieving it. They didn’t want the rights of minorities subjected to popular vote. Thomas Jefferson said, “It is ridiculous to suppose, that a man had less rights in himself than one of his neighbors, or, indeed, than all of them put together.” Even a unanimous vote of everyone but the person being targeted is not a legitimate reason for denying rights. The Yes on 8 people don’t understand this and keep harping about previous popular votes to deny rights to gay couples. Rights, properly understood, should not be subject to popular vote,

Jefferson said that when the rights of individuals or minorities are subject to majority approval, “This would be slavery, not the liberty which the bill of rights had made inviolable, and for the preservation of which our government has been charged.” The writer Frank Chodorov warned, “the idea that a number of people, acting together, have a right, which supersedes the rights of the individual is pure fantasy, and one which as experience shows, has been invented for no good purpose.”

We shouldn’t vote on which churches should have freedom of religion. We shouldn’t vote on which minorities have the right to attend schools and which don’t. The rights of minorities do not rely upon majority approval. That was what the Founders were attempting to accomplish. Subjecting the rights of individuals to majority approval leads to social warfare, to conflict between groups and individuals. It increase social instability and breeds violence. Oscar Wilde once described pure democracy as “the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people.” He was right. When rights are subject to majority approval people get bludgeoned. And in California what is happening is nothing short of electoral gay bashing.

So how did we reach the situation where minorities must come begging to the majority for equal protection before the law? Was it some crusade by Religious Right fanatics? Not at all, the religious fanatics exist and are using the law but they didn’t set it up.

The advocates of the ballot initiative process were the Progressives -- or socialists. Hiram Johnson was California’s governor and in 1911 he and local Progressive put through a series of reforms to give the majority more say in politics. Johnson went on to be a founder of the national Progressive Party and was the party’s vice presidential candidate. He was also a supporter of the racist Alien Land Law of 1913 which stripped Asian immigrants of the right to property--a law overturned by the California Supreme Court. Presumably something the Yes on 8 people would resent -- damn activist judges going around protecting rights.

One of the things that stymied the Progressives was that the Constitution limited government powers and the socialists wanted government to have more power. They believed that ballot initiatives would allow them to bypass the legislatures and push through measures that promoted socialism. They believed that the majority would use the power to confiscate wealth from the rich. And they would when they can, and have done so -- see rent control and the measures to mandate lower insurance costs as an example.

But it wasn’t the poor versus the rich. It was a majority of people against a minority of people. The wealthy were, and are, a minority. The socialists were using a method they believed would attack the rights of a minority, the well-off. So majorities tend to favor passing costs on to people other than themselves and focusing the benefits on themselves. That is what majoritarian initiatives tend to do.

The initiative was created so that majorities could strip minorities of rights. The socialists thought it was okay to do this because the minority was wealthy. But, once that process exists, all minorities face problems. If there is sufficient hatred for one minority, say whipped up by religious crazies, then that minority may be stripped of rights barring other Constitutional protections enforced by judges.

In California, the Progressives allowed the Constitution to be changed by majority vote. So voters in California can, in regards to matters that are under state control, such as marriage, impose their own biases on that document and strip a minority of their rights.

One of the things I have harped on, repeatedly, to the exhaustion of some readers I suspect, is the matter of expanding state power. I have argued that when the Left expands the powers of the state to do what they consider to be good things, they create a situation where their opponents can then win office and use those expanded powers for what the Left would consider to be bad things. That is precisely how gay people are being stripped of their right to marry in California.

It was understandable that this process was pushed through but short-sighted. The California government was corrupt and in the back pockets of certain business interests. But this is only a problem when we have government with massive powers. If government has few, clearly delineated powers and no ability to redistribute rights and wealth from majorities to minorities (which is what tends to happen in the legislative process) then few corrupt business interests would be interested in owning the legislature. It is the power they wish to purchase and when the power is limited the value of corraling the legislature is very low.

But the Left believed that the goals of liberalism, such as expanded rights, greater wealth, more equality, could best be achieved by conservative means -- the use of state power. So their dilemma was keeping the power in place for their own use and removing the corrupt businessmen from the arena. And the initiative process was one way they came up with for doing that.

The Left created a process called ballot initiatives. That allows majorities to vote for the redistribution of the rights and wealth of minorities. It does more than allow it, it encourages it. The result is being seen today. More state power is never the answer. It will always be grabbed by the powerful and used against the powerless. In this case the majority is using it against a small minority. And the only recourse the small minority has is to beg the majority of people to please not let it happen. A right should not depend on majority approval but the Progressives set up a system where that was inevitable.

Expanded state powers never stay in the hands of those who first created them. Eventually their enemies get hold of the reins of power and then those new state mechanisms get used for purposes very much in opposition to their original intentions. As much as I support sex education for the young I long felt that having such programs would eventually backfire. We have now had millions of federal tax dollars used to change the courses into anti-sex education. The same is true with the initiative process in California. The Progressives didn’t see it as a means of stripping minority groups of their rights (though they were then fairly weak on the topic), they wanted it to hurt the business interests. But the powers created for one purpose are easily diverted to contrary purposes.

The great conflict between the classical liberal and the socialist has been over precisely this issue. The classical liberals warned that the use of illiberal means (state power) to achieve liberal goals will eventually be perverted into the means for the destruction of liberal goals. That is what we are seeing with Proposition 8. True liberals know that both means and ends must be consistent. A true liberal wants Proposition 8 defeated but then ought not rest until the initiative process itself is abolished.

PS: I do see one role for initiatives, to veto legislation passed by the state assembly. As the nature of legislative law is to pander to special interests to confiscate rights from majorities to minorities, a people’s veto would allow the repeal of laws that do this. But the majority should not be allowed to reverse the process, that is to strip minorities of their rights or wealth. By acting as a break on legislative tendencies to pander to organized interests a people’s veto, as opposed to an initiative process, helps restrain the evils of government.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

When intolerance breeds hatred, it breeds violence.

This story didn’t get much play. In fact, the only report I’ve seen was in the local paper, the Kankakee Daily Journal. Even there is was a brief article, only a few sentences. But it is mind-numbing.

A grade school bus driver, Russell Schmalz, apparently decided that a young boy on his school bus was gay. Whether or not he is doesn’t matter, just that Schmalz thought he was. This grown adult, Schmalz is 42, ridiculed the 10-year-old boy as gay and taunted him. Chief Deputy Ken McCabe, of the local Sheriff’s department, reported what happened then:
When the boy got off the bus the driver encouraged several other students to go after him and tackle him. Our investigation shows that occurred.
Police are investigating the claim that Schmalz also got off the bus and physically grabbed the child. This is a 10-year-old child who was assaulted merely because someone said he was gay.

In Salt Lake City a 20-year-old was just arrested for assault. His victim was an 18-year-old who was attacked because the attacker believed he was gay. He was helped in the attack by four other men.

A few days ago, Jordan Smith was walking holding hands with his boyfriend. For that offense Michael Kandola started calling Smith and friend names and then began assaulting Smith. Jordan’s jaw was broken in three places. (see video below)

Just a couple of days ago two men were arrested in Washington, D.C., for assaulting a 23-year-old medical student because he was gay. They hit him with a glass bottle.

Just hours ago a man in New York was convicted for murdering Edgar Garzon, a 35-year-old gay man. Garzon had left a gay club and was walking home when a car with his killer, John McGhee pulled up. McGhee jumped out and attacked Garzon from behind, crushing his school with a baseball bat.

Each of these news stories is recent. I didn’t go searching the records for months past, just stories from the last few days. Earlier, when I was talking to the people promoting Proposition 8 the one I identified as Angry White Guy made a remark about the Matthew Shepherd murder in Wyoming. He was dismayed that this brutal killing got publicity.

He assured me that he didn’t engage in “fag bashing.” I wasn’t impressed that he thought that not beating people up was some sort of accomplishment. “Anyway,” he said, “that sort of thing doesn’t happen very often.”

What I didn’t tell him was that earlier today I had been re-reading the information on the Matthew Shepherd murder. The sheer brutality of it, all because this boy was gay, shocked me at the time. It still disturbs me greatly. I have watched the excellent docudrama on the impact that killing had in Laramie, Wyoming, The Laramie Project. The film is sitting here, but I can’t bring myself to watch it again. I’ve seen it twice and each time I end up an emotional wreck.

Matthew was a 21-years-old student at the University of Wyoming. Two young men, one holding priesthood in the Mormon church, had planned to attack a gay man. In court their girlfriends said they spoke of the crime before they committed it. According to the prosecution, the two men pretended to be gay and befriended Matthew, who was known to be gay. They offered him a ride home but Matthew never made it home that night, or ever again.

Matthew Shepherd was taken to a hill overlooking the city of Laramie and beaten mercilessly. This was not just a common assault. They were unrelenting as they used a pistol to smash in his skull and face. After beating Matthew into a coma they tied his body to fence so he couldn’t get away—as if that were possible in the shape they left him. They helped themselves to his money and his shoes and left him there.

The next morning a cyclist rode past the sight and saw what he thought was a scarecrow tied to the fence. He went closer for a better look and realized it was the limp body of a young man, still alive, but barely. Matthew was rushed to intensive care in Colorado Springs, but he couldn’t survive the brutality of that night.

Now, Mormons will tell you that they oppose violence against gays, they just spend millions to deny them equal rights before the law. What they don’t talk about is that Mormon “Apostle” Boyd Packer published a pamphlet entitled “To Young Men Only” which the First Presidency of the church has published and distributed.

In his talk, this Mormon leader praised a Mormon missionary for assaulting a missionary companion who was homosexual. In this lecture, which mainly tries to convince Mormon boys that masturbation is incredibly evil, the Apostle referred to “physical mischief with another man”. He said that there are some who “entice young men to join them in these immoral acts” and that if that happens “it is time to vigorously resist.” (The video above is Ellen discussing the murder of a young boy in California, earlier this year, because he was gay. The two videos below are a dramatic presentation of the reality of fag bashing from the show Queer as Folk.)

The Mormon leader tells the story of when he was on mission and a young Mormon missionary came to him with something to confess. He admitted that he “floored” the other young missionary with his punch. This “Apostle” then writes:
After learning a little more, my response was “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.
So, the one boy makes a pass at the other boy. The second boy assaults the first boy in response and the Apostle’s response is to thank the boy for engaging in violence and then tells him “Somebody had to to it.” Apostle Packer then says, “I am not recommending that course to you,” but immediately adds a further comment making it quite clear that is precisely what he is recommending, “I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. YOU MUST PROTECT YOURSELF.”

The Mormon fanaticism against gays is well known. Mormons believe in a very sexy afterlife where Mormon men, and their multiple wives (they still believe is polygamy in the afterlife) will be screwing throughout eternity producing spirit babies to populate planets. By the way, this is necessary to attain godhood—Mormons are not Christians at all, not in any historical or Biblical sense. They believe that the secret rituals of the Mormon Temple (much of which Joseph Smith stole from his local Masonic lodge) will allow a faithful Mormon to become a God. They are polytheists. When they talk about “Father” they mean the god of this world only. They play down their claim that they turn into a God through their secret rituals, but they believe it. Since one has to be heterosexual to become a God you can see why they are so viciously antigay.

Stuart Matis believed the Mormon theology and so he fought being gay. He would punish himself for having gay thoughts. He hid his orientation from his family in fear. The only person he told was his missionary companion, Clay Whitmer. Clay confessed that he too was gay.

Eventually Stuart’s family asked him if he was gay. He said he was. His family actually supported him. His church didn’t and Stuart was a very loyal Mormon who was trying to “cure” himself. He got very depressed as he fought and fought his natural tendencies. One night, his mother heard him pacing around because of worry. She sat down and wrote a letter asking the Mormon church to reconsider their views.

Stuart also wrote a letter that night but she didn’t know it until she found it the next morning. It was a suicide note. Stuart took a gun and went to the local Mormon headquarters. He pinned a note to his clothes asking medical personnel to not resuscitate him under any circumstances then he put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. (The video below is a vlog by a 16-year-old Illinois boy discussing the difficulty in learning self-acceptance for gay youth.)

Clay Whitmer says he tried to persuade Stuart not to do it. He wanted to cheer him up but arrived too late. As Newsweek describes it: “A few weeks later, anguished at his friend’s death and tormented by his own long-term depression, Whitmer put a gun to his own head.”

When will the Mormon church learn that they are destroying people? This antigay campaign they are on is deadly. They are pouring millions of dollars into a crusade to write bigotry into the state constitution while their own young people are dying—while their own young are becoming killers. Apostle Packer might think it was cute and funny to tell young Mormon males that he thanked someone for beating up a homosexual, but I wonder if that Mormon boy in Wyoming, who helped beat Matthew Shepherd to death, had read that pamphlet. It was addressed to young Mormon males like himself. After all, you have to defend yourself from these faggots.

The Religious Right has been engaging in a long-term campaign to dehumanize gay people. They have called them every name under the sun and accused them of being the most dangerous threat to civilization, morality and children in the world today. If you continually dehumanize one group of people the consequences are inevitably deadly. Some will take their own lives because they can’t stand the torment, others will have their lives taken from them by moralistic thugs doing God’s will.

What these religious zealots are doing, or trying to do, is create a climate of hatred aimed at gay people. They are obsessed with this hatred and they can’t let it go. They drum it into the minds of the young and those hateful ideas spread around and people act on them.

These are not typical crimes. These are not attacks based on a desire to steal or to secure sexual satisfaction. They are inspired by one thing only—contempt and hatred for someone for who they are. And the Mormons, Catholics and fundamentalists are out there telling the world that this sort of contempt is alright, it is God’s will. And God wants you to strip these people of certain rights because of who they are. Once people buy into this sort of view of a class of people it becomes easier and easier to inflict pain and suffering upon them.

I want to end this post with a video someone created. Elton John wrote a song about the Matthew Shepherd murder. Someone connected that song, American Triangle, with clips from The Laramie Project. Watch it, listen to the words and think. We need to end these tragedies, too many lives have been lost, too much hatred has already been unleashed in the name of God. I can’t speak for God but I can say, in the name of humanity, end the hatred.

PS. The Yes on 8 campaign is spending $25 million to push hatred of gays and portray them as threat to people who love their families. Now, won’t you please contribute to the NO on 8 campaign to fight the hate.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

I meet the Prop 8 people today -- Halloween came early.

I was out shopping earlier today and ran into some Yes on 8 people standing at the shopping mall with their signs for this proposition to strip gay people of marriage equality. The one sign said “Protect Parental Rights”. So I parked and walked over to ask them how gay marriage violates parental rights.

The man pulled out a campaign brochure and I said: “No, I’d like to hear why you think gay marriage violates parental rights.” He looked dumbfounded for a moment, having to think for yourself is hard work, especially when you’re not used to it.

He then started to repeat what the Yes on 8 people told him. He started with: “In Massachusetts....” I interrupted and pointed out that we live in California and Massachusetts state law doesn’t apply in California.

He responded with a claim that in sex ed classes in California kids will be taught gay marriage. I pointed out to him that under California law all parents are free to remove their children from sex ed classes if they wish and thus no child will be taught this without parental permission. His reply was: “Well, that won’t be the case of Prop 8 doesn’t pass.”

Actually Prop 8 does nothing about parental permission for sex ed courses and, while gay marriage is legal now, the law still stands. Obviously the legalization of gay marriage had no impact on that law at all. Just because Jewish marriage is legal that doesn’t mean kids are taught Judaism at school. The whole argument is absurd.

At this point another Prop 8 person came over to play interference. The old guy's job was to wave silly signs at the public. This second guy was your basic angry white guy who hasn’t a clue what is going on. Really, not a bad guy, just pissed off and someone who doesn’t know what is happening—in other words, pretty much uninformed.

He started complaining how “one federal judge” could overrule millions of voters and how that was unfair. Of course, there were no federal judges involved at all. This was purely a ruling of the California Supreme Court, based on the California constitution. He insisted it was federal interference, even the old guy interrupted him and corrected him. As I said, he’s basically uninformed.

This guy doesn’t like gays, but then he doesn’t like immigrants, free trade and a host of things. We discussed them briefly. I asked him what happens with the US dollars that go to China for the shoes we buy here (he was worried about American produced shoes for some reason). Don’t those dollars have to eventually come back to America if someone wants to spend them? He seemed convinced that some of it does come back to Hillary Clinton and Diane Feinstein. Really, I’m not making this up.

I pointed out that billions of dollars in trade go overseas and surely it doesn’t all go to politicians. He wasn’t sure at this point but complained about cheap foreign products and how they destroy jobs. Again he seemed unaware that the US has among the lowest unemployment rates around. I asked him how it was that trade was destroying our jobs if our unemployment rate is so low? He said he didn’t know. But he blamed the problem, which he was sure existed, on the NAFTA/NAMBLA agreement! (I’m not making this up—that is precisely what he said!)

At this point he accused me of wanting to take away his guns! I was very amused considering I’m a passionate defender of the 2nd Amendment (all ten amendments, in fact). I corrected him and he said: “Well, at least your consistent.”

The old guy chimed in again and told me that allowing gay marriage rewrites the Bible. I asked him how and he couldn’t explain but he said gay marriage is against the Bible. I pointed out that the United States is not a theocracy and that US law isn’t based on the Bible. His response said it all: “It should be.” He very explicitly said it was his right to impose Biblical law on America.

Angry White Guy chimed in and pointed out that Leviticus wants gay men killed, but said he was surprised lesbianism wasn’t covered. I noted that was correct but that was Biblical law. Old Guy said he didn’t want to kill gays. I pointed at him and told Angry White Guy: “See, he’s a liberal who doesn’t want to obey God’s law.” They both laughed. I told them I had to go as I had groceries in the car.

I said: “I won’t say, it’s been fun.” Old Guy said, “We’ll, at least we’re friends.” I said: “No, not really.” I can’t be friends with someone who wants to use state power to take away rights from people.

My second encounter with Prop 8 supporters was on-line. Some conservative was spreading lies about the school field trip in San Francisco. That’s the one where some parents wanted their kids out of school to greet their teacher after her wedding to another woman. The Prop 8 people called it “indoctrination” and purposely deleted the fact that the parents were behind this. This fellow basically repeated the same claims. He said it was “blatant indoctrination” meant to “warp the children’s sense of normality.” He said this was a “criminal abuse of children.”

Someone noted that the parents approved this and he attacked the parents and claimed: “I’m pretty sure the parents didn’t come up the with the idea.” I commented that it was a parent who came up with the idea and other parents approved it. I asked how it was “indoctrination for parents to teach their values to their children.”

He admitted that the only article he read didn’t mention the parents, but he didn’t care. Now, he sees parents were “warping their child’s perception of sexuality, marriage and family.”

I noted that basically he just confessed to posting his article without bothering to check the facts first. I asked why the Yes-on-8 people were so deceptive and left this information out. I noted that when people are allowed to make choices, which we don’t necessarily approve of —its called freedom. But, more importantly we were now getting to real reason he wants Prop 8, and it doesn’t have anything to do with parental choice and control. He said gays are unnatural, immoral, unhealthy, self-destructive and a whole string of other negative traits. His campaign isn’t about protecting parental choice—he just wants to hurt gay people.

He finally came out of the closet and admitted he was doing what he was because he was “a follower of Christ.” Now, in all my time in seminary I never found that Bible verse about Jesus passing ballot propositions. It must have been in the Revised Standard translation and we used the King James version.

But, here are two incidents, and in both, after some debate, the Prop 8 supporters finally came out of the closet and cited their religion as the motivation for their attack on the rights of gay people. Jenny Roback Morse is running around California talking against gay marriage and then hiding the fact that she does so, not based on the arguments she gives, but on her rabid Catholicism. I have no problem if she wants to sit in adoration of a cracker that she thinks literally becomes the body of Jesus. But, when her worship of a magic cracker becomes the foundation of a campaign to strip people of rights, then I have problems with it.

We know the Proposition 8 campaign is dominated by Catholics, Mormons and fundamentalists. That’s where the money comes from. And when they talk in their churches they invoke God and the Bible (well, the Mormons invoke the Book of Mormon and their God). When they come into the light they change tunes. Suddenly they are protecting parental choice, even if no parents rights are being violated.

For all their talk about morality, they are not above deception. Why don’t their commercials tell the public the real reason they want to pass Prop 8? Why don’t the commercials say: “Vote Prop 8, put God’s law into practice.” They don’t say it because they know the public won’t buy it.

I’m open about why I support marriage equality. I don’t believe the state has the right to discriminate. And forbidding gay marriage is state discrimination since the state regulates marriage. Get the state out of marriage and it is not an issue to me. The Prop 8 people don’t want the state out—not at all. They want state protection and the monopolization of marriage because they want their religion to have the force of government behind it.

The Prop 8 people are deceitful on numerous levels. They won’t tell the public why they wrote the amendment and what they are trying to accomplish. Since they won’t tell the truth about their real motivations, they are forced to come up with alternative explanations. And to do that, they resort to inventing lies, distorting the truth and scaring people.

Once again I urge my readers to make a donation to the No on 8 campaign, they are still being outspent by the forces for theocracy. I don’t care if you’re gay or straight. That isn’t the main issue here—even if it is the excuse. The main issue is whether or not California law ought to be based on facts and reality, or on theological beliefs. This is as much about separation of church and state as anything. Stop the theocrats here and it will be a blow to their entire campaign to use the law to impose theocracy on America.

This is an issue they want to win badly. This is the one issue they still think they have a chance on winning. This is like first base for them, its easy to get there. But if they don’t get to first, then they can’t go to second or third. Put a stop to the theocrats on gay marriage and it helps undermine their efforts to impose prayer and creationism in the schools, impose censorship at the state level, restrict reproductive choice, etc. All these matters are tied together because it is secularism versus Biblicalism. If you want to fight the Biblicists and don’t want them in your backyard, then defeat them here.

Contribute here. Please!
I’m going to make my second donation and this is hardship but important.

Note to my readers: I suspect that I'll be blogging on Prop 8 a bit more. This blog is very event driven and about the issues of the day. And since the religious fanatics are heavily attacking the rights of gay people I'm going to be taking my stand here, for what it's worth. If this were 1933 I would be spending a lot of time talking about the situation of the Jews in Germany. I honestly believe this is an issue we should all worry about. Theocracy is dangerous and these people will be as cruel as the God they believe in. Please help stop them. The video is a commercial that Ellen DeGeneres has put together and which she is funding to televise. I always liked her. Please do your part as well.

P.S. Watch this space. I'm trying to write a very difficult, very emotional piece for me. I want to get it right and it is very difficult. My problem is that as I research the matters my emotions so overwhelm me that I find it emotionally wrenching to talk about it. I will try to do it and post it soon. Please watch for it, read it, think about it.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Actually, we're fine.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Changing my mind

I’ve changed my mind.

I don’t mean right this second, but many times over the years. And I thought I’d explain where I’ve changed my mind, and why, about different matters -- some big issues, some not as big.


Let’s start “in the beginning”, so to speak. In other words this God thing. I no doubt, started life an atheist, that is, I wasn’t born believing in a supreme being. And an “a-theist” is one who lacks a belief in a god, and as an infant I lacked beliefs in most things, including a god. But I won’t count that.

At some point I accepted there was a god. I did so for simple reasons. Everyone told me there was. It was on television, in books, even in the Pledge of Allegiance which we were forced to say daily at school. My parents said there was a god and so did most of my friends. So I accepted the idea without giving it any thought -- which is how I think most people become believers. My theism was the result of simply not thinking, just believing what I was told.

Then I gave up that belief. Why?

In one sentence: the main reason I gave up theism was that I decided that the concept of a god made no sense whatsoever.

To flesh it out some. I decided that the god concept was either vague and meaningless (liberal theology) or precise and contradictory (orthodox theology). Next I concluded that logic didn’t support the existence of such a being, that the evidence didn’t exist to support such a conclusion. And finally, I decided that, based on history, the concept itself was destructive to human decency, rational morality and a free and tolerant society.


As a child I was instinctively socialist -- but then children often want what other people have and want to take it from them. I don’t think that was my motive. I genuinely thought that a beneficent government could hand out goodies in an almost endless supply and thus banish poverty, sickness and misery from the planet. I don’t think I thought the state could raise the dead and cast out demons, but I wasn’t far off. I was particularly enamored with the Scandinavian welfare state system and listened to Swedish language records with the thought of settling there one day.

My visit to Sweden persuaded me that it was among the last places on earth where I actually wanted to live. But what made me change my mind wasn’t that visit -- though it helped.

I changed my mind because I studied history and economics. I realized that the economic principles of socialism, regardless of what good motives may compel them in some people, were flawed. Socialism was contrary to human nature. From each according to his ability punished the able and reduced their numbers. To each according to their need rewarded need and swelled the ranks of the needy. This required another burst of socialism, making the results more apparent. Long term it is difficult to sustain such a system.

Socialism assumed that the economic system itself was not connected to the results achieved. Thus we could redistribute the results, that is change the pattern of results but without changing the pattern of production. That is clearly false.

And finally, as we have been warned, any state big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you’ve got. History shows that, in reality government usually does more taking than giving.

Most importantly I saw how socialism, in various guises, increases state power. State power ends up in the hands of the wealthy and the powerful, not in the hands of the poor and needy. Redistribution of wealth exists but there is far more redistribution from the less-well-off to the better-off than is acknowledged by the Left. Also the rise of state power threatens important social goals such as freedom of speech, social tolerance, and harmony. So I stopped being a socialist.


I stopped being a conservative shortly after I stopped being a socialist. I adopted conservatism because I stupidly accepted the idea that it was the alternative to socialism. When I had abandoned my socialism I assumed I must be a conservative. That lasted only a few years.

I realized quite quickly that conservatism was another form of socialism in that it promoted a big state with the ability to force people to adopt its agenda. I don’t like bullies and conservatives are bullies (but then, so are socialists). I see conservatives as socialists of the soul. And conservatives have no love for social tolerance -- they often openly oppose it. They have no love for freedom of speech and actively seek to repress it.

Worse, in my view, conservatives often love war. Just as the socialists want to confiscate the wealth of others, for their own benefit, conservatives want to confiscate the blood of others. The socialist may be cavalier in how they spend other people’s money but conservatives are too cavalier in how they spend other people’s lives.


No, I didn’t stop being a classical liberal, or a libertarian. But I have changed my mind on some aspects. I once naively thought libertarianism had all the answers. I now realize that no system of social organization has all the answers. In fact, there may be no answers to some questions.

But the strength of libertarianism is not found in the answers it gives, for it doesn’t give answers. Instead, it is a social environment where incentives exist to encourage people to find answers and it rewards people in direct proportion to the importance of the solutions they discover. It also removes the main roadblock to finding solutions -- the ability of vested interests to prevent change. Liberty is not the answer -- liberty is the state of being that allows us to find answers. And equally important, it is a environment that allows us to ask questions which other systems suppress.


Objectivism, is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and is a subset of libertarianism. Rand certainly influenced me and there is much that I find that is good and right in her writings. But there are aspects of the Objectivist movement that I find disturbing. This was not the case for me when I first started reading Rand -- she had the gospel and I was ready to listen.

One problem that I see is that Objectivism attracts narcissists. I don’t mean narcissists in the sense of people with high self esteem -- the narcissist doesn’t have self-esteem. I mean narcissists as in individuals who exhibit all the traits of narcissistic personality disorder. I am not saying Objectivism creates individuals with NPD, but it sure does attract them.

I find Objectivists to be highly intelligent, for the most part, but relatively uninformed. Many wrongly assume that all knowledge begins and ends with Ayn Rand and thus they are unable to see where Objectivism may have problems. They are often unread in history and economic theory. I’ve been more than once surprised by how little many Objectivist read or study issues -- but then they assume they have all the answers already. Many are totally unfamiliar with Hayek’s work and the tradition of spontaneous order. Many literally believe that basic libertarian principles began with Rand, and that prior to her birth the world was in the Dark Ages. While the Dark Ages were before Rand’s birth, libertarian ideas have been floating around for centuries. The first flowering of libertarian thought came long before 1905. And most of Rand’s principles were already embraced and expounded by individuals that most Objectivists have never heard of.


I once was very proud of my country. Eight years of George Bush cured that. I’m still proud of many things. American history is filled with greatness -- but the real greatness was prior to the 20th century, not during it, as many assume. If anything, the 20th century dramatizes the disease that is destroying America. America was the first nation with a constitution born in rationalist, libertarian principles. It was the nation that embraced the Age of Enlightenment. But that is the past.

What destroyed my pride in America is that it became infested with the germs of imperialism. And it is not coincidental that the rise of imperialism in America comes with the rise of Big Governmentalism (both Left and Right). They are conjoined twins. While one or the other sometimes lives alone, they are very often found joined at the hip.

The American people are largely unaware of the world around them -- and they are uneducated on basic principles, largely the fault of a deficient state education system. That is a source of the causes for the decline of America as well.

The true greatness of America are in the ideas it once embraced, not the people who live here, or the politicians we stupidly elect to govern us. Any nation that embraces those principles embraces greatness. But America has abandoned those principles and so today, I am not proud to be an American. I am a citizen of the world, a lover of liberty, a believer in humanistic liberalism. I am not a nationalist, a socialist, or a collectivist of any kind.

Smaller issues

Those are some of the grand areas where I’ve changed my mind but there are some small areas as well.

Immigration: I was once a restrictionist and advocate of closed borders. Basic economics and the facts of history persuaded me otherwise. I have traveled the world and lived in around half a dozen countries in all hemispheres. I don’t fear immigrants because I have been one and lived among people with cultures very different from my own. I think nationalists need to get over it.

Gay marriage: I once opposed gay marriage. Really! I argued that gays could get all the rights, that any couple should have, by legal contract. That simply is false. I ignored areas where the state violates the rights of gay people and which can not be remedied by private contract. This “libertarian” argument against gay marriage is based on ignorance of the ramifications of forbidding gays to marry and the myriad of ways in which rights of gays are restricted by their inability to marry.

Big Business: Ayn Rand called it “American’s Persecuted Minority”. I call it a special interest group that, more often than not, is willing to use state power to confiscate the rights and wealth of others. Rand wrote passionate novels of entrepreneurial giants who are defenders of the rights of all. There is a reason this is called fiction. While some such businessmen exist most are not like this at all.

Business leaders are not different than the rest of us in many areas. They can be just as willing to violate the rights of others as is the average voter. But businessmen are not uniquely evil either. Their morality is no higher, or lower, than your typical individual. The key difference is that because they have money they attract the attention of politicians.

The politicians want the money of the wealthy for their campaigns. To secure that they offer Big Business legislation which will redistribute rights and wealth from poorer folks to themselves. Business, forced to operate in free markets has to satisfy consumers. Business, operating in a regulated market, has to satisfy politicians. And in return politicians satisfy businessmen. It is the perverse incentive of politics that corrupts business, not business that corrupts politics. A political system that lacks the power to redistribute rights or wealth would not attract the interest of the wealthy, who would then be forced to satisfy consumer demand in order to secure their fortunes.

Those are a few of the areas where I’ve changed my mind over the years. If the past is indicative of the future then there will be other areas where I will change my mind in the future. I’m fallible and have made mistakes, and I will continue to make them. But I try to hold beliefs which are consistent with the facts as I best understand them. New facts, or previously ignored facts, may change my mind. If they do, I'll let you know. This mind is a work in progress, with progress being the operative word.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The financial acumen of the politicians.

A friend of ours, Richard Venable sent the following. I'm not sure if he was passing it along or wrote it, either way he deserves some appreciation.

Not Looking Good for the Bailout Plan

Back in 1990, the Government seized the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada for tax evasion and, as required by law, tried to run it. They failed and it closed. Now we are trusting the economy of our country to a pack of nit-wits who couldn't make money running a whore house and selling booze?

True, very true. I'm perplexed at why anyone believes people, who have the ability to steal money through taxes, but still can't balance a budget are the ones to resolve the financial mess in housing, and housing related banking. More importantly they were the morons who created the mess through their government-sponsored businesses, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If you want an indication of how bad politicians are at running finances all you need do is check out the national debt clock we have about half way down in our far left column.

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The moral perversion of Roman Catholicism.

I hadn’t intended to comment on the situation in Fresno, California where a priest denounced Proposition 8, the antigay initiative the Catholics and Mormons are pushing. While I thought Father Geoffrey Farrow was brave in standing up to the Bishops, who the Catholic version of the Mafia (which may be redundant).

Farrow said that he thought the church was wrong and told his congregation that he was gay. There was no indication that Farrow had violated his vow of celibacy (though I hope he does-- he could use the relief). Farrow did it because the Bishops were using their tax-exempt empire as a political recruiting ground for their campaign on Prop. 8. Farrow had received a letter ordering him to speak out against gay marriage in church. He couldn’t do that.

The forgiving, loving Church immediately took action. Farrow lost his parish, he was denied any salary and benefits and ordered to stay away from any parish where he had been a priest -- lest he influence the people who know him best. He was also ordered by the Church to have no Internet connection with anyone from the congregations. So basically they threw him out on ears.

I ignored all of that because they have a right to be assholes -- a right they indulge in frequently. They have the right to deny the priesthood to gay men (though they actually practice a policy of don’t ask, don’t tell). They have the right to decide who shall be a priest in their little ritual games and who can’t be. And while I have nothing but contempt for this Bishops and their Papa in Rome, I acknowledge their right to do what they have done.

I do think that they have no right to act as a political campaign using tax-exempt funds. If campaigning is going to be tax exempt then it should be tax exempt for everyone. Any group that engages in politics should have the same tax privileges that this Church enjoys. But that is a different matter.

What really got to me was the utter hypocrisy of the Catholic Church in this matter. The local Catholic hierarchy issued a letter attacking Farrows and said he had to be removed because he “had contradicted the teachings of the Catholic Church and had brought scandal to the parish, as well as the Catholic Church.”

Get that! He brought scandal to the Church by advocate legal equality for gay people. This is the same Church that has actively covered-up for child rapists for decades, probably centuries. In parish after parish there were priests who sexually assaulted young children, using Church authority to force children into acts they did not wish to commit. That’s rape! And when these incidents came to light, in hundreds of cases, the Catholic Church merely hid these priests in other parishes allowing them to do it all over again.

We are talking about hundreds and hundreds of priests, in virtually every parish, in dozens of countries. We are talking about tens of thousands of rape victims. And we can’t find a handful of cases where the Church thought this “brought scandal” to the parish and took action. No, they covered up and left the priest in good standing. If things got hot they simply moved him to a new batch of kiddies to prey upon. They didn’t find such actions scandalous at all. They made virtually no moves to stop it for decades. But they moved damn fast when a priest opposed them on the bigoted campaign against gay couples.

Adolph Hitler died a Catholic and the Church never took action against him for anything he did. He was never excommunicated. He was never chastised publicly for bringing scandal to the Church to which he belonged. But then old Adolph only killed people who weren’t Christians, and that is something the Church had been doing for centuries. He was never disciplined but Father Farrows has been.

Once again the Catholic Church has shown the world what it’s moral priorities are. If there is anything around this campaign that is perverted it is the Catholic Church’s sense of morality. They are truly, deeply, madly perverted. And what is amazing is that they act this way with such a moral superiority to the rest of us. One could say they have balls -- and I don’t just mean those of altar boys either.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

To save them we must destroy them.

Our laws are out of touch when it comes to teens and their sexuality. And that means teens will continue to be victimized by the laws. Add in cell phone technology and we have yet a third teen under arrest as a child pornographer because our laws on photos say anyone under 18 is a child.

This took place in Waunakee, Wisconsin. Three teens were driving around in car. A 17-year-old male and his 15-year-old girlfriend were having sex in the back seat. A 16-year-old was driving. The driver held his cell phone up and took about 30 seconds of video of the incident. According to the older young man all that anyone saw was about 30 seconds of his butt going up and down. The older teen saw the video and described it: “All you could see was my white ass for approximately 30 seconds.”

This certainly was tacky since this was done without anyone’s permission but it is hardly an invasion of privacy given that the couple were doing this in full view of the driver. The girl wasn’t thrilled and decided to stop, the older boy didn’t mind. So ended the incident.

But another girl heard rumors and turned the teens into the police. Please note that no victim complained. The police then arrested the 16-year-old for possession of child pornography and the local paper reports “he would face a maximum penalty of 24 years of combined prison and extended supervision if charged and convicted as an adult.”

That last part is where the utter hypocrisy of our legal system comes in. When it comes to the 30 seconds of video the teens in the video are considered children. When it comes to legal responsibility for making the video they become instant adults. Our prosecutors want to treat teens as responsible adults and sentence them as adults and not as children. When it comes to issues like this they are considered children.

The double-standard is not lost on the young. One minute they are told they have all the responsibilities of adults but the next they are told they have the rights of children. When it serves the power seeking activity of prosecutors they will paint a teen as an innocent child and then, when it serves their interests, they turn around and paint them as threatening, dangerous adults.

I don’t condone what the 16-year-old did. It was pretty rude. I probably would concede that is a criminal act in that it violates the rights of the teens in the back seat who didn’t consent to the filming. But given that they were humping in full view of the other boy, unconcerned about their privacy, I wouldn’t make this a serious offense. At worst he should be required to apologize and be warned about his activity. But the idea that he could face up to 25 years in prison is absolutely absurd.

And we really have to stop referring to this sort of thing as “child pornography” which needlessly and inaccurately panics the stupid masses who can’t read past a headline. These were not children. They are sexually mature individuals but the law is treating them as if they were 8-years-old.

What is worse here is that this case has the potential of landing the other teens in prison as well. Wisconsin law says a 15-year-old can’t consent to sex so her boyfriend, who admitted he was having sex with girl friend is guilty of a felony. He can not be listed as sexual predator, called a pedophile (a term that is tossed about inaccurately by politicians and the press) and forced to register as a sex offender.

The girl might escape much legal punishment because it is assumed she is incapable of consenting and didn’t know what she was doing. On the other hand, if a girl who films herself is a child pornographer, then why should an underage girl, who willingly has sex, not be accused of enticing a child (herself) into illegal sexual acts?

Now I’m going to tell it just like it is, and if you don’t like harsh language leave this blog now. You have been warned. Teens fuck. They like to fuck. They have all the sexual desires of adults and most of the rational capability of adults. Whether they should do this or not is not open to debate. Reality is what reality is. And that means teens have sexual desires and large numbers of them will act on those desires. Very large numbers in fact.

Our politicians have criminalized the sex lives of these teens in order to “protect” them. From whom? Themselves? And exactly how are we protecting teens by turning them into felons, forcing them to register as sexual predators and imprisoning them?

What went on in the back seat was typical teenage behavior but we criminalized it. What the other teen did with his cell phone was a prank at worst but we have turned him into a felon as well. We could easily see two teenage boys subjected to life as adults in prison. And even if no charges are filed against the girl exactly how do you think the prosecution of her boyfriend and her friend will impact her life? Do you think she’s going to cheer on the prosecutor and fall on her knees in gratitude for him saving her from herself?

We have reached a stage where the sexual pathologies of the political classes are now law and that means we are victimizing young people for engaging in the very acts that teenagers have engaged in since we first climbed out of the trees. We are not helping young people with these laws. We are turning them into criminals. And the Christianists in this country get hysterical if anyone tells the truth.

My advice to teens would be to wait on sex but if they don’t take my advice I don’t want them in prison. I can’t see how sending a teenage boy to get raped in a prison shower is going to teach him a “proper” attitude toward sexuality (no matter how you define proper). Our laws on sexuality were promoted to “protect” the young yet, time after time, it is the young that are being victimized by these laws. Shouldn’t someone say something? Shouldn’t someone do something?

But they won’t. Few politicians have the guts to tell the truth and fewer still to do what is right. The politicians will cave in when the Mormons, Catholic Bishops and fundamentalists come marching on their offices demanding that they protect the young. But then these same groups wanted to protect heretics from their heresy by burning them at the stake. So, protecting our teens by turning them into felons and imprisoning them is nothing to these people.

This is the third similar case in almost as many days. How many more take place without noticing them? Exactly how many young people are being victimized by these laws every year? We recently saw police arresting a teenage boy because a girl sent him a nude photo. And we had the equally absurd situation of girl being arrested as a child pornographer for taking a photo of herself. In all three cases teens are being prosecuted as child pornographers. The world has gone mad.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

To defend one lie Prop 8 proponents lie again.

It will upset readers for me to say this, but why change tactics now? The most dishonest people I’ve ever meet have been religious. The more religious they are the more dishonest they feel they have the right to be. Of course, they don’t just lie about anything. They only lie to push their religious agenda and that discrimination allows them to feel sanctimonious.

The religious groups operating the Yes on Prop 8 campaign are as big a batch of liars as I’ve ever seen. I outlined already how their ad campaign on Prop 8, to strip gay couples of equality before the law, was one lie after another. Now, they have a press release out allegedly proving their case regarding one of those lies.

That lie was the so-called requirement to teach gay marriage in the schools. They reported on 18 first graders going to San Francisco city hall for the marriage of their teacher to her same-sex partner. The Godly bigots said this was “overt indoctrination of children who are too young to have an understanding of its purpose.” This supposedly proves how gay marriage will be required course work at school Typically the Prop 8 Christians avoid telling the public all the facts.

It is true that 18 children were allowed to go to wait outside City Hall where their teacher was being married but they don't appear to have actually gone to the ceremony. But not one child went to that event without parental permission. If there was indoctrination it was indoctrination by the parents. Are the Christians now wanting to strip parents of the right to teach their values to their children?

Why are they lying and pretending that this was government indoctrination? They are doing it because the truth doesn’t back up their bigotry.

The field trip was not even the schools idea. The actual news reports on the field trip reported: “A parent came up with the idea for the field trip -- a surprise for the teacher on her wedding day.” So the idea came from parents not from the school. And the reports noted that every student who went was required to have parental permission to attend. Students whose parents objected did NOT attend but studied with another first grade class as the school. No student was forced to attend and the only “indoctrination” was the child’s own parents wanting him or her to do this. Video I watched of the event seemed to show a group of parents standing behind their children to greet the teacher. This is what parental choice looks like and the Christians don't like it. Choice to them means choosing what they want only.

There is another thing left out of all this. The school in question is the Creative Arts Charter School. Up until now I thought conservatives were fond of Charter Schools precisely because they do give more control to parents. The Charter School organization says these schools “operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools.” That is what attracted conservatives to the idea. And major conservative think tanks have been in the forefront of promoting Charter Schools precisely because they more controlled by the parents and less controlled by the bureaucrats.

So, here we have a case where a Charter School is being attacked by the religious coalition pushing Prop 8 who send out press releases attacking this field trip which are now being picked up by fanatical Christian web sites and news sites by the dozens. And these Christians intentionally left out critical information. Let’s look at precisely how they selectively left out facts to promote their cause.

1. They never tell the readers that it was a Charter School -- in fact they went to great lengths to avoid mentioning the name of the school lest it lead to someone discovering the facts. That this school is free of many government regulation with more parental controlled was ignored by them. Instead they said this proved how government would act if gay marriage remains legal.

2. They referred to this as a school sponsored field trip but they never mentioned the idea came from parents not from the school. And it appears several parents accompanied the students to the wedding. Also the students were not inside the wedding as the “Yes on 8” people imply. They stood outside City Hall and greeted the teacher when she came out but they do not appear to have attended the actual ceremony.

3. They called it indoctrination without mentioning that every single child who attended did so at the request of their parents not at the behest of the school. Of the students in the classroom two sets of parents did not want their children to go and those children were excused. There was NO indoctrination. It was a voluntary activity started by parents and done at their request.

As much as the Prop 8 people whine about being pro-family what they did here was attack parental rights. For this was not government indoctrination at work at all -- it was parents exercising their right to teach their values to their children. What has the Christians pissed off is that parents weren’t teaching the values that these bigots demand everyone live by. While they are pretending to support parental choice they are actually pushing for conformity where everyone must abide by their stilted “Biblical” view of the world. In this case, the parents of the 18 students who went to the wedding disagree with that view, so the Christians are attacking their right to decide what values they will have taught to their children. They call this attack “pro-family”. Sure, it is,

By the way, the Prop 8 people knew they were lying to the public. They used photos from a San Francisco Chronicle article on their web site. The article mentioned the name of the school, mentioned that the trip was a parent’s idea and explicitly said that all the students had parental permission to attend. So, while the Yes on 8 crowd read the article and borrowed the photo for their website, they just ignored all the facts which stripped their story of all its power. Lying for Jesus -- it’s the in thing in their circles.

UPDATE: Further news reports have confirmed what I suspected based on photos and video of the event. The children did NOT attend the wedding as the Prop 8 people have been claiming. They waited outside City Hall to greet their teacher. Almost nothing about this story, as promoted by the Prop 8 people, is true. However, the falseness of the report has not prevented Christianist web sites from reporting the falsehoods verbatim as the truth.

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