Friday, July 31, 2009

"Shut up, faggot!": New motto for DC cops?

Pepin Tuma, 33, was walking with some friends, Luke Platzer and Dave Stetson in Washington, DC. They were discussing the police incident with Prof. Henry Louis Gates and Tuma said: “I hate the police!” This is a sentiment he shares with many Americans, especially those who actually read news reports about how cops behave.

Tuma’s comment was overheard by police officer J. Culp. Culp, like a mad dog, became enraged and charged at Tuma “pushed him against a transformer box” and shouted “shut up, faggot” at Tuma. Culp then carted Tuma off to jail.

Meanwhile another police officer approached Platzer and Stetson and told them that he had witnessed Tuma resisting arrest and wanted the two men to sign statements to that effect. Both men told the police officer they were standing there when the police attack took place and that Tuma never resisted arrest. Platzer said: “We thought he was trying to trick us into saying that there was physical resistance by Pepin to the arrest. That is not true.”

Tuma says he did not resist: “I said nothing at this time [of the arrest], except asking why I was being detained, whether I was being arrested, and my belief that it was not a crime to offer an opinion to my friends about the police.” Tuma should know, he’s an attorney. Unfortunately for the uniformed thugs, Platzer and Stetson are attorneys as well.

Police claim that Tuma was guilty of “disorderly conduct,” for saying something they didn’t like. The local ACLU says that DC cops routinely use this charge “as a ‘catchall means of making an arrest, without proper justification.” So, when a DC cops feels pissed off, which is frequently, they can just charge someone with disorderly conduct and arrest the person, causing great inconvenience, at best, or imposing thousands of dollars in legal expenses. It is a means by which they inflict harm the public merely to satisfy their own emotional needs to hurt someone.

Records show that five different citizens have filed complaints about Officer Culp and the way he behaves with just one section of the bureaucracy. Other complaints have been filed elsewhere, including one by Tuma. Police are refusing to comment on the incident.

And cops can't figure out why so many people hold them in contempt. If the shoe fits, officer, wear it with my compliments. Police officials say they are investigating. That is police jargon for "saying something to placate people now, waiting until it dies down, and then exonerating the officer involved."


Video shows Mormon thugs roughing up couple for a kiss.

It is not well known that the Mormon sect employs large young men as their muscle, especially around their so-called temples. These men are hired to roughhouse anyone that may protest the church or attempt to pass our literature that doesn’t meet their standards.

In most the country the temples are surrounded by sidewalks and streets open to the public. This has always vexed the Mormon church. It makes it easier for people to do inconvenient things like speak against the sect, carry picket signs, hand out literature, or apparently, kiss.

The way the sect handled this in Salt Lake City was to use their massive political power in the state to turn the public street in front of the temple into Mormon church property. Since the street, used by pedestrians, not cars, continues from public property to public property most people never realize that the Mormon cult managed to get the politicians to give them domain over the small stretch of land outside the temple gates. The Mormon majority on the city council vote for the land transfer, while the two non-Mormons on the council opposed it.

People walk along the street, as they would any downtown street, never realizing that they leave public property, enter private property, and then re-enter public property, all in a matter of seconds. But it gives the Mormon cult something they desire, the ability to snuff out dissent, or anything else for that matter.

Matt Aune, and his partner Derek Jones, didn’t realize what was going on. They were walking down the street, side by side, holding hands. As they were walking Aune, still at the side of Jones, gave him a hug and kiss on the cheek. Seconds later they were surrounded for four burly thugs in suits who were yelling at them. Aune pulled Jones protectively to his side. The four men surround the couple and become more and more agitated. Suddenly they move, one of them grabs Jones and flung him to the ground. The other three grab Aune and begin trying to wrestle him to the ground. (Three on one, Mormon fairness.)

The Mormon hired guns handcuff the men and call police, for the crime of a kiss and a hug. Of course, they couldn’t make that the official charge. So they contended the men were guilty of trespassing, even though this street was public for decades and is still wide open for pedestrians and not posted as private. Had there been no kiss there would have been no trespassing charge. When police were called they were told the men had kissed and hugged. That was what the security guards said then. According to the police report the church thugs said that they never engaged in roughness with the two men — something this video calls into question.

After the incident got publicity the church revised their story and painted a scene reminiscent of the most debauched orgies of ancient Rome. Now they claimed there was “groping,” “passionate kissing” and “profane and lewd language.” We know how honest the Mormons are when it comes to gay people. The church contends that they didn’t treat the male couple any differently than any other couple. Yet I know of no incident where any other couple was every wrestled to the ground by burly security thugs for the crime of a kiss and a hug.

While the church has video cameras on the public, better to spot those criminal kissers or felonious huggers, no video footage of the alleged crime actually exists. The church did release film of the men being surrounded by the church-hired thugs. But, for some reason, it can’t supply footage showing that the men were groping each other in public. How convenient.

Public prosecutors had asked for all footage of the incident and when the church only turned over the arrest tape, and had nothing to to back up their accusations, charges were dropped against the men.


Monday, July 27, 2009

The rise of the light bulb fascist.

Apparently the European Union, and the bureaucratic thugs that run it, have inadvertently discovered a method of stimulating one area of the economy: prohibition.

Having learned nothing about drug and alcohol prohibition the EU has decided to ban the production and importation of conventional light bulbs. As a ritual sacrifice to the Goddess Gaia the EU technocrats have decided to phase out the conventional light bulb, in favor of the “eco friendly” but vision-unfriendly compact fluorescent bulb.

I know those bulbs are supposed to save us money, which I favor, but they don’t. I have one bulb in my room that is CFL, which is fine for watching television. But if I want to read I have to turn on the overhead light with three regular bulbs instead. In the lounge the three table lamps are CFLs as well, but all three have to be one to give any acceptable lighting in the room. I had one CFL on the back patio but dumped it entirely—dinners on the patio were impossible with the light it emitted. It was far too dark. So I’m no fan of these vision-destroying bulbs either.

But the technocrats in the EU want to “save the planet,” which usually means an assault on the property rights or freedom of individuals. And, in their wisdom they are phasing out conventional light bulbs. Der Spiegel reports on the results of the upcoming ban in Germany.
Hardware stores and home-improvement chains in Germany are seeing massive increases in the sales of the traditional bulbs. Obi reports a 27 percent growth in sales over the same period a year ago. Hornbach has seen its frosted-glass light bulb sales increase by 40-112 percent. When it comes to 100-watt bulbs, Max Bahr has seen an 80 percent jump in sales, while the figure has been 150 percent for its competitor Praktiker.
"It's unbelievable what is happening," says Werner Wiesner, the head of Megaman, a manufacturer of energy-saving bulbs. Wiesner recounts a story of how one of his field representatives recently saw a man in a hardware store with a shopping cart full of light bulbs of all types worth more than €200 ($285). "That's enough for the next 20 years."
It should be noted that Weiser favors EU action to ban his competition. No surprise there. Most large businesses are run by greedy individuals who prefer political redistribution of wealth to having to earn it in a competitive market. The problem, as they see it, with competitive markets is that consumers can’t be trusted to buy what you’re selling. Weisner thought the best way to force consumers to buy his product would be to impose a $7 tax on each regular light bulb sold in the market.

One marketing company reports that between January and April sales of regular light bulbs have jumped 20 percent. Sales of the “earth-saving” CFL bulbs shrank by 2 percent.

Spiegel notes that the normal bulbs are despised by the Greens because they give off most their energy in heat. True, that was one aspect of them I liked—at least when I was living in Berlin. Much of the year the weather is a bit cool and not only did the light bulbs allowed me to see well, but they helped heat up my apartment. (It was small enough that a few bulbs could do that.) The heat was a fringe benefit. When it was summer the benefit was less (though the last summer I spent in Berlin was rather chilly) but summer light is longer so I used the bulbs less anyway.

Bascially the EU bureaucrats have ignored the consumers completely. And the consumers are fighting back by stocking up on the bulbs. Spiegel notes that large numbers of people complain about the so-called “eco friendly” bulbs saying that the light “is colder and weaker and the high frequency flickering can cause headaches. Others have complained that the new bulbs are sold with fraudulent promises. The environmentalists promise these bulbs “las much longer than traditional bulbs” but Spiegel reports that tests found that half the bulbs “gave up the ghost after 6,000 hours of use—or much earlier than the manufacturers had promised.” (That corresponds with my experience of the CFLs I used, until now I just assumed I had a bad batch.)

Spiegel quotes lighting designer Ingo Maurer telling his custoers: “We recommend protests against the ban, civil disobedience and the timely hoarding of lighting implements.” One prominent art gallery, Hamburger Kuntshalle, has purchased 600 traditional bulbs so they can light their exhibits properly.

One MP, from my favored German political party, the Free Democrats, called the ban “light bulb socialism.” I would disagree. Socialism is state-ownership of the means of production. What many people confuse with socialism today is nothing more than raw fascism. Just ask Obama, he should know.

I suggest that when the ban is completed there will be a whole new industry created as a result: light bulb smuggling. Apparently politicians are just too damn stupid to ever learn from history, so they repeat it, over and over.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

It's really about the children, really it is.

They say it’s for the children. Is it? Is it really the children they love, or the adults they hate?

The New York Times tells the story of what happened in West Virginia when a newborn girl, TiCasey had to be put into foster care. She was born to an addict, her father was a mystery and the child was born addicted to various drugs. The State decided to put her into the home of one of the best sets of foster parents they had: Kathryn Kutil and Cheryl Hess.

Since becoming a couple, and becoming foster parents, the two women had care for 18 children in total. When TiCasey joined their home they were caring for five other children who had no one else. The infant had to be held constantly as the withdrawal caused her to cry endless. But after three weeks of constant care, from the two women, and her new brothers and sisters, TiCasey was finally coming through.

The infant’s court-appointed attorney showed up one day. He was cold and unpleasant. He refused to hold the infant whose interests he was alleged to be looking out for. He wouldn’t take off his coat and left minutes after arriving. He went to court and filed a motion to have the infant taken from he deemed a “homosexual home” because, he claimed, “children reared by homosexuals were more likely to be sexually or otherwise abused and to become homosexual themselves.” (The evidence does not support any of those myths.) Fast had actually asked the courts to ban “placing foster children in homosexual homes” entirely. He wasn’t worried about TiCasey in particular, he was on a crusade.

Kutil and Hess had already planned to adopt the infant and give her a permanent home. After the two meet and formed a relationship they decided they wanted to help children. In West Viriginia there are 4,200 in state care and one-third of them are in institutions or group homes. A few years ago Kutil had worked for the foster care system, so she knew how daunting was the job they were undertaking. Three years ago they expanded their home to five bedrooms and welcomed their first child, who proved to be violent to their pets and who need more than they were able to provide. She had to be moved.

But over the next few years they handled numerous requests to provide short-term, and sometimes long-term, care to children. It was hard for the women as the children in short-term care had to leave, some doing so in tears and begging the women to let them stay. But the choices were not theirs to make. Last year Kutil adopted the first child who had been living with them. A brother and sister were placed in the home as well and Kutil became their legal guardian. The 14-year-old boy didn’t want actual adoption, feeling it was a betrayal of his birth mother. Kutil listened to his concerns and took formal guardianship instead.

TiCasey’s mother lost all parental rights to the infant because of her continued addiction. And under state regulations it was now appropriate for the couple to seek adoption. At about this time another situation arose. The State begged the women to take in another child, a young girl found wandering around by herself. But according to state regulations the pair had the maximum number of children allowed and the couple pointed that out. They were told that a special exemption would be obtained and told how much this child needed care, so they accepted her.

Just days later they were called into a hearing about the plan to care for TiCasey permanently. The attorney, Thomas Fast, told the court that they must make a decision to remove children from gay families. He told the judge: “Let’s duke it out here, Your Honor, this whole issue of the homosexuality.”

The Department of Health and Human Resources had been supporting the couple. They said they were among the best foster parents in the system. They had found a child psychiatrist who would happily testify on behalf of the couple. And then politics came into play and the Department decided it best not to be seen supporting a gay couple. They dismissed the psychiatrist from testimony and switched sides, suddenly supporting the motion to take the infant from the only home, and love, she had known. The excuse given was that the family was over the state limit for child care, because of the sixth child which the Department had begged the couple to take.

The couple was shocked. The newest child had been with them less than a month, but the State wanted to strip them of a child who knew no other home, a child who had bonded with these woman shortly after arrival. The Judge in the case argued that an infant won’t remember so it was fine to remove the baby from care. And he ordered the infant taken from the women and placed in a “more appropriate” home. And that is what happened. Hess found the separation difficult:
“TiCasey has always been with me. She was with me all day long while the kids were at school. You wake up one day, and all her toys, clothes, crib are still there, but no baby. It’s just you. I couldn’t get out of my head how she must be wondering, Why had we left her? Where were the other kids?”
After just five days the other foster family decided it was too much work caring for an infant and didn’t want her. So the State moved the infant again. It was that day that the Supreme Court of West Virginia granted an emergency stay allowing TiCasey to return to her home with Kutil and Hess.

The couple had to appear in court. It was hardest on Kutil who started crying, telling the court: “We just wanted a child or children and a family. And here we sit today in front of judge and jury. For what? What have we done? We took this baby in that stayed up for three weeks, all night long, and we did without sleep. We’ve done nothing wrong but love this baby and love her with everything we had.”

The state Supreme Court agreed and unanimously overturned the previous ruling which stripped the couple of the infant they had loved. The court said adoption proceedings could begin immediately and that the couple “had to be considered if not favored in the selection of the prospective adoptive home.” The couple has begun the adoption process but they have also stopped taking in other children. They are fearful. Hess explained: “You sit and wait for somebody else to decide if you get to keep her. You’re at the mercy of other people deciding your life.” For now they just want to concentrate on giving TiCasey a permanent home.

So far, the story is holding well for the couple. But the powerful Christian-Right has allied themselves to strip TiCasey of her home, for the sake of the children, of course. The Christian Alliance Defense Fund had filed briefs against the couple as had the Family Policy Council, another religious front group. And the Christian Broadcasting Network warned viewers that: “An adverse decision in this case could also undermine the state’s Defense of Marriage Act…” which protects marriage from people who want to get married.

The Alliance Defense Fund amazingly argues that in giving TiCasey a home with Kutil and Hess, that the State “knowingly deprives a child of a mom and a dad.” Of course, TiCasey had a mom, who was a drug addict. She had a dad but no one knows who it is. She had nothing. But in the name of their religiously-inspired disdain for gay people they prefer to keep TiCasey in the foster care system instead of letting her stay with the couple who cared for her through the toughest few weeks of the child’s life.

Alliance Defence Fund claims to be “a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.” Really? What bullshit! Their faith ends where the nose of other people begins. Apparently “freely live out their faith” means using State power to wreck the lives of other people in the name of God. Apparently living out their faith requires them to strip an infant of the only home she knew and place her back into the state care system because their God tells them to hate homosexuals. What total assholes.

You can read the full ruling here. Also watch for God’s Own Party (GOP) to make efforts to change state law in West Virginia to strip children from same-sex homes and place them back into a system that can’t find homes for a large percentage of the children under its care. Apparently the Christian conservative thing to do is force children into group homes instead of allowing loving same-sex couples to adopt them. But it’s all for the children, really it is. And if you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale, cheap.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Chilling and politically correct -- the good kind.

I've been a Torchwood fan since the day I was sitting on Rebecca's couch answering emails in England. She turned on Torchwood and I was hooked. Odd, since I usually don't get hooked on science fiction. But this was science fiction with a cutting edge. I liked the characters, the plots, the drama, and the sense of humor. For the next couple of months we watched the show every week and when I headed off to my apartment in Berlin, Rebecca set things up so I could watch her cable box over my lap top, so I wouldn't miss an episode. (Thanks Bex!)

For some odd reason the third season of Torchwood is being shown on five consecutive nights, in five episodes. That has put a kink in my schedule. Even when my movie-mate, Amy, called I told her I was busy and couldn't chat. Torchwood had priority.

What was interesting in the four episodes that have been aired so far, is that Torchwood actually delves a bit into politics. And it's ugly. But then politics and government is an ugly thing no matter how you dress it up.

From the prime minister down to the lower level bureaucrats you see politics for what it is. There are candid discussions of how to lie to the public. There is a cover-up of immense proporitions. You see the prime minister setting up a lower level bureaucrat to take the fall if necessary, saying he "expendable." There is a discussion of the most horrific kind imagineable and you see the British cabinet agree that they, their children, and their grandchildren, will be exempt from the monstrous thing they are about to do. They will not subject themselves to the rules they are willing to impose on others. And what they demand, is so awful, that they discuss how to trick the public in co-operating with them.

While I doubt the show's creator and writers are libertarians, the way politics in portrayed in this series is perfect, from our perspective. You simply can't get a good view of politicians watching season three of Torchwood. And I like that.

I am a strong believer that we need more libertarian fiction. That is one reason that I loved Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. And while I have loved Torchwood for non-political reasons, season three has given me a new appreciation because of the politics in these episodes.

As odd as the way the entire season is being shown in one week, is that the fact that Torchwood, season three, will be out on DVD next week. If you haven't seen the show, or this season, then pick it up. Enjoy it. I'll be watching it again myself.

PS: I have to say that I'm not sure the show can survive to season four, given plot developments (I won't spoil it for newbies or those behind in the story). It is difficult to sustain a show when you remove elements that attracted viewers for the sake of drama. So I wonder if this is the end of Torchwood. If it is, well, it sure was a bumpy ride.

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Outrage is the proper response.

I don't normally turn the blog over to others to run. And generally I do all the posting. Today I will make an exception. Lia Grippo runs a private sort of school. She is being put out of business. I will let her explain how this happened.

By Lia Grippo

My name is Lia Grippo. I am an early childhood educator with 20 years of experience. For the past 11 years, a large part of my work here in Santa Barbara has been taking young children into local wild spaces where we forage, track animals, climb trees, build forts, etc. For the last two years I have been running a small school that meets at my home 3 days a week and in the woods 2 days per week — safely.

I have two sons, age 7 and 4. My 7-year-old has been climbing to heights since he was a baby. My husband and I mentored this skill early on first by staying close while pretending to watch something else, and later by having some simple guidelines. For climbing trees, our guidelines include teaching children to know how to tell a dead branch from a living one, and then teaching them never to climb on dead branches or any limb “thinner than your arm.” We never help a child to climb up but are willing to help as much as necessary on the climb down.

A few weeks ago my school met at a local beach. The beach is sandwiched between the ocean and some steep hills and bluffs. The hills sit in the sand, not above the water. My 7-year-old and his 6-year-old friend – an equally competent as a climber and also the son of my dearest friend and school teaching assistant — climbed to the top of one of these hills. As they climbed they chatted, and moved at a steady pace, which meant to me that they were not at the edge of their abilities, which would have been evidenced by their silence or by announcements of fear, tense body language, or frequent stops in search of how to proceed next. In imitation of the older boys, the younger children began to climb the hill as well.

I stopped them by saying, “That’s high enough,” when I saw they had reached the point where they would not be able to come down by themselves if they were to continue. The three younger ones (ages 4, 5, & 5) stopped and began to climb down. By this time, a group of people had gathered to watch. My 4-year-old son slid a little down the hill on his bottom. I was right below him to catch him should he continue to slide. But with the combination of the sliding and, I believe, a frightened group of strangers staring up at him, he became too afraid to come down the rest of the way. So I climbed up and coached him down, staying just beneath him. He calmed down to the point where we were laughing and joking as we made our way down.

As we neared the bottom, I noticed there was a lifeguard beneath me on the hill about 3-4 feet off the ground. When we reached him he asked if I wanted to pass my son off to him and I did and he put him down on the ground. Then the lifeguard told me he would take the trail around the side of the hill to get the other boys down and I agreed, not because I thought those boys couldn’t make it down on their own — I was certain they could — but because of the fear of the folks watching. We went around to meet the kids as they came down the trail. The lifeguard seemed annoyed and said, “Don’t do that again,” before walking off.

During all of this the police were called. The police officer took a statement from me and left. As the parents arrived at the end of our morning, I told each one the story and each of them said, “I’m so sorry that happened to you. Why are people so afraid these days?”

A few days later the agency that licenses my school came to my door to begin an investigation. This included calling all of the parents at the school, who were all in complete support of me and thought the incident was blown completely out of proportion. Each parent called me afterward to lend support and to share their outrage at this agency.

At the end of this process, the agency has revoked my license saying that I endangered the children by “exposing them to the natural hazard of the hill and the ocean front,” and by allowing them to climb, made worse by the fact that I allowed them to climb in beach attire, and my son was naked. (As result of ditching his freezing wet pair of jeans.)

The families have surrounded me with support and outrage and are willing to help pay attorney’s fees to appeal this process.

A couple of nights ago, my 7-year-old said to me, “Mama, I know why those people were afraid. They couldn’t climb that hill themselves.”

I could use whatever support, resources, or ideas, folks might have to offer. Especially helpful would be an attorney who had had experience with this sort of situation or someone who works in California’s Community Care Licensing Division who may be able to offer advice.

Thank you, Lia

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Take a minute to appreciate the good in the world.

Here is a harrowing video, one that had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, and fighting back tears. A mother and her two young children are driving when she has an accident. She and the children are trapped in the car. The car catches fire. From every direction people run to help, to try and rescue this terrified family. Watch it. Savor it. Appreciate it.

It is so easy to see the corrupt, the evil, the fearful, and the hateful that so often inspires human action, especially in the realm of politics. To see people rallying to save someone simply because another human being is being hurt bring tears of joy to my eyes. It gives me hope.

I can only pray that they day will come when people realize that these best moments of human life ought to be our everyday moments. No one debated whether or not the mother in that car was black or white. I sincerely doubt that anyone cared if the people helping to kick in those windows were straight or gay. If an "illegal" alien was there helping save those lives, who would give a damn about his status?

I have to wonder why it is that that same lack of care about such inconsequential human differences becomes so important when we are safe and comfortable? Is it really that important?


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another one bites the dust.

Go on down to Tennessee for some old fashioned, country-style, family value of God, the GOP, Mom and apple pie. Here is a picture of those family values. The guy in the rather scary sweater is Paul Stanley, a Republican legislator who sticks up for families by sticking it to gay people—and I don't mean in the "hide the sausage" way either. For instance, Stanley decided that gay people should be forbidden to adopt children. Stanley is very wholesome. You can see it here, with his family. His daughter has a very long dress on. Mother has just enough lipstick to be seen but not in a painted-woman fashion popular among those liberals. And junior has a decent haircut, the way Jesus wanted.

Mr. Stanley taught Sunday School. He was God's man in a trouble world saving the family from evil perverts and sinners. Gays shouldn't adopt, he said, because "When you're married, there's a commitment there." And gays can't marry, just the way Jesus wants even if he forgot to mention it during his time on earth. Stanley was so sure of his family values that he told people he would fight to prevent gays from adopting even if the children in question had to stay in state care as a result. It's all about marriage, commitment, family, and God. And it sure as hell helps with the votes from the revival crowd.

Senator Stanley will be stepping down from one of his positions, though he is still clinging to office, for the time being.

Apparently this leading light of God's Own Party (GOP) was shtupping a female intern. Hey, that counts in Republican circles—at least the intern was female. Like a good moralist Stanley was able to hide the truth from the public, which again counts in Republican circles. There is one thing Republicans can't stomach and that's the truth.

But the female college student had a boy friend named Joel Watts. Apparently Watts found photos of the young woman, in the nude, which had been taken at Stanley's apartment. Now this doesn't win points with the Republicans who prefer to ban porn entirely, except for their own secret stash of it.

Watts figured this was a money maker for him. He offered to sell the memory card, with the photos, to Stanley for $10,000. Stanley, smelling a perpetual blackmail racket, had no choice but to call in the authorities. Watts are arrested for extortion. That was some time ago. Stanley was able to keep it all a secret until now.

Stanley describes himself as an Evangelical Christian. He is proud of his anti-gay viewpoints. He is a very vocal champion of so-called family values. But he was shtupping a college girl, young enough to be his daughter, and taking pornographic photos of her. He was doing this behind the back of his wife and covering it up intentionally. We have lying, adultery, pornography, all wrapped into one family value package.

I have long suspected that those who preach the strongest about family values and abstinence and porgrnography are themselves fighting terrifying demons. I once debated a Christian family values type on television. The guy was quite scary actually. (He literally had a meltdown in front of my very eyes and continued to preach to an empty chair after the show was over.) As I was leaving the studio with the show's moderator, he turned to me and said: "I really get the impression that ..... is terrified of a monster inside himself that just might get out." After the show aired about a dozen people managed to locate my home phone number and called in support. More than half of them said the same thing about the guy.

By the way, the guy did actually have a mental breakdown on stage. He disappeared from the public arena after that for two years. I did see him about six months later being led around by his wife, and I mean literally being led around. I was having breakfast a few yards away and watched as he placed him on a bench where he sat, head drooped down, motionless, until she came for him 20 minutes later.

Jimmy Swaggart used to preach about pornography and prostitution all the time. Yet he was a fan of both. Ted Haggard was vehemently antigay and led campaigns against the equal rights of gay people. Yet he was secretly hiring male prostitutes for sex, while bragging in public that Evangelicals have the best sex lives of anyone. True, perhaps, just not with their wives.

In the name of fairness, I should note that I apply this theory to the Left as well. I have long suspected that socialists often wish to use government as a means of charity because they are not charitable themselves. I suspect that the Left and the Right both have the same problem. They see the flaws in their own characters and assume that everyone else is flawed in the same manner. Their solution is the gun of government.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why I hate Microsoft.

I was never a fan of Microsoft per se. I was a committed Mac user, and I still am. But in work I found lots of people were trapped by Microsoft software which wouldn't open other software. And it was a constant battle to get their documents so they would open on my system.

So about a year ago I purchased Microsoft Office for Mac, paid for it, downloaded it, and installed it. It worked fine to open the documents I needed to open. And I stupidly starting using it for my own material.

Today, Microsoft remotely claims that I have to update my software. Stupidly I did. Now they claim that the software is no longer valid and that I have to start over again and re-enter the long code number that came with the original purchase, over a year ago. I assume that is in an email on file somewhere but I can't even remember the name of the company from which it was purchased. Worse yet all the documents I have produced can't be opened. Business quotes that I have to use are now locked to me. All because I very stupidly trusted Microsoft.

When they remotely updated my software they also made it so that I can't use the software unless I find a code from a year ago.

So several hours will be spent searching through emails and trying to figure out where the information that is required might be. In the meantime my documents and files are being held hostage by Microsoft. At some point I will probably have to repurchase the software as the cost of continuing the search will be greater than the value of the product. And I will buy it because I have no choice. But you can bet that I will hate Microsoft as a result. I will only use their software in the future to open text files and then move them into other word processing programs. I won't use them for my own material. I can't risk this happening again, anytime that Microsoft wants to tamper with my computer. I really, really hate them, especially right now. They have completely screwed up an important business transaction and I will always resent that.

Screw Microsoft -- if you don't they will surely screw you.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Conscience of a Bullshit Artist.

I have the unpleasant task of reading Wayne Root’s misnamed book, The Conscience of a Libertarian. The title is, of course, just a rip-off of The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater. There was no need to change titles since Root’s work is clearly the work of a conservative, not a libertarian. Root remains a pretender, a conservative in libertarian clothing.

Early in the book Root defines himself as a “Libertarian conservative.” That is more telling than he would care. First, note that the term “libertarian” is modifying the term conservative. His main identity is that of a conservative not that of a libertarian. A “conservative libertarian” is someone who says they are foremost a libertarian with some conservative sentiments. A “libertarian conservative” is the opposite: someone who is mostly a conservative with some libertarian sentiments.

There is another telling point to Root’s self-labeling. He uses the term “Libertarian” instead of “libertarian.” A big L libertarian is merely a member of the Libertarian Party and these days that is no indication as to whether or not they are libertarian in political terms. The small l libertarian is someone who is a libertarian philosophically. Root identified himself as a “Libertarian conservative” not a “libertarian conservative.” This is even weaker that what I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Here he is not actually claiming to be a libertarian philosophically, merely a Libertarian Party member who is a conservative.

Of course, the whole thing could be imprecise writing and bad editing. Root is no intellectual and it shows. He is a loud-mouthed, brash, self-promoting individual with all the charms of a cross between a used car salesman and Richard Nixon, just without the principles.

Early in the book, Root dismisses discussing issues that separate libertarians from conservatives: social freedom. He does talk about taxes, and taxes, and more taxes. Social freedom is not something he talks about, but then he doesn’t want his conservative, anti-libertarian views too obvious while he tries to con the desperate and dying Libertarian Party into nominating him for President. Consider how Root addresses social freedom:
As a Libertarian, I believe that social and personal freedom issues are quite simply States’ Rights issues. …These issues are none of the federal government’s darn business. Voters should decide these issues on the state and local level.”
There is nothing libertarian about that position. That is a conservative through and through.

Libertarians, by which I mean philosophical libertarians, not LP members, believe in individual rights not states’ rights. No decent libertarian would argue that the rights of anyone should be put up to majority vote of the public. But Root is no decent libertarian; hell; he’s not even an indecent libertarian.

What Root is doing is trying to hide social conservative values by sweeping that entire category of issues under the rug. We will hide social issues behind the mantra of “state’s rights” instead of addressing them. Libertarians have NEVER supported the violation of rights as long as it is the states that are violating those rights. That view is classic conservative thinking and was quite popular with the Dixiecrats, the racist Democrats who wanted to use state law to oppress blacks. Root is speaking in the tradition of Strom Thurmond, not Lysander Spooner.

Root is also ignoring an important question: what should the states do about these matters? Even if he is merely a Libertarian, and not a libertarian, the LP still has state affiliates and those affiliates must take stands on censorship, equality of rights for gays, separation of church and state, and other issues that Root avoids. What stand should they take, Mr. Root? When Root first floated the idea that he was the great savior of the LP, his web site did take stands on social issues and the stands I saw were very conservative. That was losing Root some support. So he pulled the same sort of trick pioneered by that other social conservative, Ron Paul. He called social freedom a state’s rights issue and then ignored it. Easier to keep conservatives happy and hide his true views.

Mr. Root also seems to be taken aim at the many agnostics and atheists that are in the Libertarian Party—including most of the LP presidential candidates, until the conservatives took over. Root says he is “comforted by the idea of our electing public official who are religious God-fearing and love men and women.” Apparently atheists like John Hospers (the first LP presidential candidate) or Ed Clark (the most successful LP presidential candidate) make Root uncomfortable. Worse, Root then equates morality with religion implying that non-religious people are immoral and corrupt. He says that electing “God-fearing” candidates is good for America “because moral people are less likely to bring about a corrupt government.” (Sort of like the non-corrupt, good government of George Bush, right Mr. Right?)

Never before has someone, who was an LP national candidate, taken a swipe at non-believers, implying that because they are not religious they are more likely to be immoral and corrupt. Elsewhere, Root claims he is the perfect candidate because he isn’t an atheist. “I’m the perfect political figure to lead this fight because of who I am. I’m not an atheist. I’m not a liberal, I’m not anti-religion. To the contrary, I’m a proud family man and patriot who strongly supports God, religion and prayer.” Notice he did not include, “I’m not a conservative.”

Root then goes into a discussion of marriage where he proves he is historically as adept as he is philosophical adept. In other words he is totally incompetent. He claims “After the abolishment of slavery, some states began licensing marriages in order to prevent blacks and whites from marrying each other. Prior to this, marriage was a religiously defined institution.” Both of these claims are false. State regulation of marriage goes back to the 1500s and was pushed by the Protestant Reformers who said marriage was a state institution more than a religious one. It was not the result of the abolition of slavery.

And prior to the Reformationists inviting the state to take over, marriage was primarily a non-religious, secular event. It was governed by custom and the will of those involved but not regulated by either church or state. Martin Luther wrote: “Since marriage has existed from the beginning of the world and is still found among unbelievers, there is no reason why it should be called a sacrament of the New Law and of the church alone.” Luther wanted state control over the matter but acknowledged it was primarily a non-religious institution predating the church. Root doesn’t know his history any more than he knows libertarianism.

In Root’s long diatribe about God and morality he seems to be saying that it is a bad idea to have government enforced morality. But how does that jive with his claim that these are all state issues? At first it appears he is saying that government, at any level, should not take on the role of moral enforcer. But that is not the case. He actually qualifies his position by saying: “Do not ask or demand that the federal government impose your choice and values on the rest of us.” It is only Nanny statism at the federal level that offends him. This remains consistent with his stated position that voters have the right to dictate morality at the state level. In the world of Wayne Root, individual rights may be determined by popular vote at the state level.

Social freedom issues are not quite entirely ignored, though they may well have been. He has a short section on medicinal marijuana but little about the destructive effects of the war on drugs as a whole. There appears to be one paragraph in the entire book on this topic. He does have a chapter called The End of Prohibition but that isn’t about drugs. That is about the laws regulating gambling. Root is in the gambling business so his “ principled” stand here is not surprising. True principled libertarians defend the rights of people they don’t like. Mr. Root never does that.

Root has almost nothing to say about civil liberties and social freedom. Also missing is any discussion of foreign policy and the war on terror. Surely the war and the hysteria about terrorists have justified more big brother measures in recent years than anything else. And Root has not a single word to say about them. He doesn’t defend the traditional libertarian foreign policy of non-interventionism. But then Root was a pro-war cheerleader before, who only shut up about it when he realized it might hurt his desire to be an LP candidate. There is nothing condemning the Patriot Act, nothing condemning torture of individuals by the US government, nothing about indefinite incarceration of prisoners by the federal government.

The only things Root talks about are conservative talking points. He avoids most social issues and all issues of foreign policy. He will rant about affirmative action, which pales in significance to foreign policy. He spends page after page on taxes but says nothing about repealing the Patriot Act and bringing the troops home. Root’s book is purely a marketing gimmick. It is not meant to explain libertarianism. How could it? Root has no idea what that term means. The whole purpose of the book is to convince conservatives to complete the take-over of the Libertarian Party and nominate the con man from Nevada for President.

UPDATE: This con man conservative is now trying to become the National Chairman of the Libertarian Party. As hopeless as that party is, no one deserves that fate. The selection of candidates running is not a very good one. But then who really wants to captain the Titanic at the last minute? George Phillies appears to be the best of the lot even though I think he's wrong on global warming and boring as shit. Mark Hinkle is someone I've personally liked but I believe he may be too closely allied with some of the worst, most unprincipled elements in the LP, but I might be wrong on that. Ernie Hancock has more loose screws than your local hardware store. The one merciful thing about a Root win in that race would be that it would speed up the demise of the party. The damn this is dead already, for god's sake bury it and get on with something productive.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

The scary future of Amazon.

I used to like Amazon, not love them, but at least like them. As my regular readers know, I now loathe them. I won’t go into all the reasons that I do, just accept it, I do.

Amazon is intent on controlling the book market. I still trust markets; I don’t trust Amazon. And one way they are hoping to do this is by pushing their Kindle book reader. This is sold to readers as an easy way to carry around multiple books. You download the volumes you want and pay a fee for them. You get an electronic version, but no hard copies. Sounds wonderful, unless you really do love books.

I love the power of books. They are like landmines that explode, one mind at a time. They may lie dormant for decades and suddenly it changes a life. Thinking is inherently subversive to authority and books encourage thinking. Throughout the old communist block nations people smuggled books, books helped bring down the tyranny of Marxism.

When the brave students of the White Rose penned their tracts against the evils of Nazism they disseminated printed copies of their works. The Nazis could arrest these young people, and they did. They could even kill them, and they did. What they couldn’t do was prevent the printed word from spreading. And it did.

Imagine how thrilled the Nazis would have been if they could destroy “subversive” literature with the push of a few buttons. This is the reality that we will have if Amazon’s vision of book reading in the future comes to be.

The New York Times blog mentions how this is precisely what happened. Readers had paid for, and downloaded a book. But one morning they awoke to find that all copies of the book had vanished from their Kindles. Amazon, in its typically high-handed fashion, merely said there was a problem and refunded customers their money for the book. What I understand is that there was a copyright issue with the book in question. Laudable perhaps, but still illustrative of the dangers of electronic readers.

Amazon has the power to remove books from Kindle machines remotely. You may buy the machine, you may buy the books but Amazon controls it—not you. Amazon can remove the books you think you own.

What if a book, at some time in the future, is deemed dangerous by the government? Would Amazon cave and remove that book by pushing their buttons? You bet your sweet ass they would. This is the censors dream. With just a few seconds of time, a few buttons in hand, the censors would be able to delete all the electronic versions of the book that exist. In a world of paperless books the censors could wipe out millions of books in seconds.

One thing I love about all those subversive pro-freedom books out there is that they are in physical format, that they are sitting in hundreds of thousands of homes. No one knows where they all are. No one knows who are the owners. A book might be banned but it would still circulate. Copies would be made; they would be smuggled. Regimes would still cringe in fear of the printing press. But, if Amazon wins, and the world is filled with Kindles, where all books are electronic, and where Amazon controls the Kindle, not the individual customers, then those wonderful, dangerous, magnificent, frighten books could all disappear in seconds. That ought to worry everyone.

Oh, and the book that was deleted by Amazon, George Orwell’s 1984. I kid you not.

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The ugly, raw authoritarianism of Obama.

The raw authoritarian nature of Barack Obama and a stinging critique from a well-known Left-wing commentator, who should be applauded for what she has done.

I almost fainted when I heard Obama speak how he wants to be able to impose preventative detention and thinks that it is just fine to do provided it is not the decision of "just one man" but that the courts and Congress have a role in. Yet the Constitution no where gives any one man or group of men that power. It simply doesn't exist. This is a blatant, raw usurpation of totalitarian power by Obama.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

How Political Correctness may save Prop 8.

The bigotry of the Mormon Church may have been behind Proposition 8 in California, but political correctness may prevent the measure from being repealed.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which represents the Democratic Party more than the gay community, “is urging activists in California not to go back to the ballot next year to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage ban.” The ostensible reason for this is “that too much work remains to be done changing the minds of voters who supported the ban in November.” The same news story reports, “three groups representing black, Asian and Hispanic gays in California said they do not believe voter opinion has shifted enough to justify another costly campaign.”

This sounds plausible, and it is meant to, but the fact is that this is a big cover-up. In the world of political correctness you sometimes are not allowed to state the obvious. It was perfectly fine to discuss the role that the Mormon Church played in raising the millions to fund the campaign of lies that the Yes on 8 campaign ran. But it was a big no-no to mention that black voter turnout was a key factor in this bigoted measure’s passing.

Left-wing pundits have bent over backwards to recast the facts to try to hide the fact that anti-gay bigotry is higher in the black community than in other communities. And they are unwilling to discuss the role that the Obama campaign played in the passage of this measure.

If Prop 8 goes back to the voters in 2010 it is far more likely to fail even without a major shift in the prejudices of voters. The reason it is more likely to fail is that Obama won’t be on the ballot. Consider what Dan Walters, of the Sacramento Bee reported last November.

Supporters of same-sex marriage rights are fuming over California voters' approval of Proposition 8, which would place a ban on such marriages in the state constitution – especially since in other respects voters showed a somewhat left-of-center bent, including a massive victory by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Ironically, however, a mathematical analysis of voting and exit poll data indicates very strongly that it was exactly that pro-Obama surge that spelled victory for Proposition 8.

The only conclusion, therefore, is that as Obama was running up a 2.6 million-vote victory over Republican John McCain in California – twice the margins by which Democrats won in 2000 and 2004 – a great many Obama voters were also voting for Proposition 8, sponsored by a very conservative religious coalition.

Proposition 8, in fact, garnered 1.6 million more votes than McCain received. And, it's apparent, many of those votes – enough to make the difference – came from African American and Latino voters drawn to the polls by Obamamania.
An overwhelming, but not surprising, 94 percent of the former supported Obama, exit polling indicated, while 74 percent of Latinos voted for the winner. But 70 percent of African Americans also voted for Proposition 8, as did 53 percent of Latino voters.

Walters concludes that that had voter turnout in the black and Latino community not been swelled by the Obamatrons “chances are fairly strong that Proposition 8 would have failed.” Wow! That had the Left in a tizzy. First, Obama is the messiah and second, we shouldn’t say that there are bigots in minority communities. Thus the cover-up started.

Nate Silver used a bit of slight of hand to help the cover-up. He wrote, “the notion that Prop 8 passed because of the Obama turnout surge is silly. Exit polls suggest that first-time voters—the vast majority of whom were driven to turn out by Obama (he won 83 percent of their votes)—voted against Prop 8 by a 62-38 margin.” Notice how Silver rather dishonestly changed the groups being compared. Black and Latino voters were not, for the most part “first time voters” at all. First time voters tended to be young people and young people did support Obama and did oppose Prop 8.

Silver continues with his dishonest analysis by saying “it would be premature to say that new Latino and black voters were responsible for Prop 8’s passage.” No one said that at all. Walters, who Silver was trying to rebut, never made that claim. What he said was that the black and Latino vote changed the result. That the turnout was unusually high in those communities does not mean that the additional turnout was mainly “first time” voters. I suggest Silver realizes his errors but political correctness is political correctness.

Over at the Left-of-center Daily Kos one Obamatron (the Left-wing version of the Rondroids) shrieked about a “hateful racist fingerpoint from a white gay person.” So the Obamatron “blew off work that needed to be done… [to] put to rest, once and for all, this virulently racist idea that Black people are to blame for the passage of Proposition 8.”

I should note that black voters are not to “blame” but that the higher black turnout most certainly changed the results allowing the measure to pass. Blame is shared by everyone who voted for the measure. But, if Obama had not run for office, and if black voter turnout had not surged well above normal, the results of Prop 8 would have been different.

The Obamatron at Daily Kos, using the name Shanikka fumes about “anti-Black offenders,” and “white gay persons who have engaged in hateful, racist rhetoric and scapegoating” and tells them to “shut the fuck up.” Shanikka’s cover up relies upon bad math. Not knowing Shanikka’s gender, nor caring, I shall refer to the writer as him/her, or the equivalent.

Black voter turnout of total voters is normally 6% of the vote. In the Prop 8 election it was 10%. Shanikka said that is impossible “unless a million or so Blacks (he/she consistantly capitalizes this incorrectly) snuck into the state just before the election so they could say they cast their vote for Barack Obama on sunny California shores.” That simply is false, bad math, and an indication that he/she doesn’t understand percentages. The simplest way to prove that wrong is this: if the same raw number of black voters voted in the 2008 California election, but all other races stayed home, then black voters would have made up 100% of the voters without anyone sneaking into the state to vote.

Shanikka doesn’t appear to understand that percentages are relative numbers and can change when other factors change. A lower white turnout would increase the percentage of black voters. Shanikka seems to think that the percentage of black voters in an election can’t be higher than the percentage of blacks in the state. That merely indicates a lack of knowledge about percentages. While black voters make up 7% of the population of California, they could easily make up 10% of the voters in an election if they turnout in unusually high numbers while white voters vote in lower numbers.

That Obama was on the ballot did increase the number of minority voters in California. And because the election results were pretty clear before the California vote that decreased the likelihood of other groups of turning out. Shannika went through similar gymnastics in other areas with similar results. He/she claimed that it is a myth that “All Black people in California are old enough to vote.” No one said they were and that once again confuses raw numbers with percentages. He/she also said it was a myth that “All adult Black people in California are eligible to vote.” Again that confuses raw numbers with percentages. At least Shannika is consistent—making precisely the same error over and over just in different ways.

Another PC inspired cover-up was conducted by claiming that “after taking into account the effect of religious service attendance, support for Proposition 8 among African-Americans and Latinos was not significantly different than other groups.” That black Americans are inclined toward both religion and anti-gay bigotry, more so than white Americans is a fact. But that doesn’t change the fact that the high turnout of Black voters is a prime reason that Prop 8 passed. Factoring out relevant facts creates this cover-up. As one gay site claimed: “African-American and Latino support for Proposition 8 not significantly higher when religious attendance is factored out.”

Is religion correlated with bigotry? Yes, I would say it is. But that doesn’t change the fact that black voters were more likely to vote for Prop 8. That they choose to be more religious than most Americans doesn’t change that fact. Religion and prejudice are choices people make. Some groups are more likely to choose both than other groups. This is true of blacks and Southerners both. None of that changes the fact that the higher black turnout in November is a prime reason that Prop 8 passed.

There was one somewhat prophetic article published at Salon before the Prop 8 vote by LaDoris Cordell, who is an African-American lesbian. She wrote:

The Obama candidacy has energized African-Americans. Black voter registration is up, which bodes well for him. But here's the rub: Could a large black turnout also bode well for the passage of Proposition 8? Those who would ban same-sex marriage certainly hope so. They are counting on the "Obama Effect" to enlist black voters, along with conservative Latinos, into their ranks. Frank Schubert, co-campaign manager for Yes on 8, says that, "[T]o the extent that they are motivated to get to the polls, whether by this issue or by Barack Obama, it helps us." As an African-American lesbian who has been in a loving relationship for over two decades, I have been made well aware of the black community's discomfort with things gay. Our long and courageous history in the forefront of the struggle for civil rights notwithstanding, the leadership of black America -- politicians, ministers, business leaders -- has not been as outspoken as it could be and should be on the issue of gay rights.
Unfortunately Cordell was only somewhat prophetic. She recognized the widespread anti-gay prejudice in the black community but went on to write: "Black voters will, I predict, view same-sex marriage as the constitutional guarantee that it is, thereby giving new meaning to the 'Obama Effect.'" Ooops! Cordell was engaging in wishful thinking. She realized that antigay views were strong in the black community and may well determine the results of the election, but that was before the election, while she could entertain the hope that black voters would see the light at the last minute. It was safe to voice these fears before they became reality. Now, that they are reality, it is politically incorrect to say the same thing.

Over at Obsidianwings a blogger did a decent numerical analysis of whether the higher voter turnout among blacks shifted the results for Prop 8. His conclusion is that they did. Under normal turnouts black voters would be 6.7% of all voters. Under the abnormally high turnout for Obama they were 10%. This analysis finds that if blacks voted for Prop 8 in the same proportion as white voters the measure would have gone down in defeat. He notes that “if a small majority of black people voted against the measure it would have lost (49% Yes, 51% No gives the measure a loss of 50.4%).” But 69% of black voters supported Prop 8 so it passed.

No one thinks that there will be a huge shift in opinions before next year. That’s the problem. If there is no shift in opinions, or just a small shift, and if the repeal of Prop 8 passed, that would destroy the PC cover-up about the vote in the black community. NGLTF, and other fronts for the Democratic Party, don’t want to deal with the ugly truth about anti-gay prejudice in the black community. They wish to pretend it doesn’t exist or is irrelevant at best. A repeat election, with a lower black turnout, but one that repealed Prop 8, would destroy this pretense. So they made the choice to keep Prop 8 in place for a few years more in order to cling to their political correctness.

Even worse, if the repeal is not done in 2010 when will it be done? 2012? If 2012 that would mean during another presidential election and the Democrats will renominate their messiah, if that option is open to them. That would mean a larger black voter turnout again, though I suspect not as large as the glimmer of Obama’s smile fades. Delaying the vote to 2012 instead of 2010 will actually increase the likelihood of another defeat. But these Democratic-fronts are willing to risk that in order to keep their illusions alive.

I repeat that I am not saying that the black community is “to blame” for Prop 8. Most supporters of Prop 8 were white. But in a vote as close as Prop 8 it is the margins that matter. And black voters provided the margin. Most white voters opposed Prop 8. Most Asian voters opposed Prop 8. Hispanic voters were almost evenly split. Only black voters overwhelmingly endorsed the measure. And that was enough to change the results from “No on 8” to “Yes on 8.”

A lower black turnout in 2010, which is expected because Obama won’t be on the ballot, would be sufficient to allow the “No on 8” vote to win. But that is not the only factor that will bring about the repeal of Prop 8. Even a small shift in white opposition to Prop 8, which is likely, would cement that victory. In addition, it is questionable whether the Mormon sect would engage in the same sort of behind-the-scenes fund-raising campaign again.

The Mormon leadership wanted to hide their role in Prop 8. They did their best to deceive the public about their role in Prop 8. They used the church to raise funds for the measure and they provided the bulk of the funding used. They got caught. They lied about their role, they lied about their funding and they got nabbed doing so. They will be far more reluctant to get as heavily involved a second time around. Meanwhile the No on 8 voters are really pissed off. I’d double my contribution to a repeal and I suspect a lot of other people would as well.

My guess is that a repeal campaign would be better funded and the campaign to preserve 8 would have less funding. In addition, the number of states with marriage equality will be much higher than it was when Prop 8 went down to defeat. California was the second state with marriage equality. Now there are six and two or three more are likely by next year.

A third factor working in favor of any revote on marriage equality is that old people die. (I say that as a baby boomer who is old enough to worry about such things.) Old people were another anti-equality group in the election. In 2010 a number of the old people who voted for Prop 8 won’t be around to vote against the repeal. They will be replaced by young people who become old enough to vote for the first time, a demographic more likely to support repeal.

In addition we should note how weak Obama’s opposition to Prop 8 was in the last election. He did very little to oppose the measure. He didn’t want to alienate the black vote. What he has done is piss off the gay vote, and that is not insignificant for Democrats. Obama’s pathetic record on matters that impact the gay community, such as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

I have yet to hear a good reason that the repeal of Prop 8 shouldn’t be put on the 2010 ballot. I am not saying that one doesn’t exist but I’ve not heard it. What we are getting from the Left are excuses. More importantly they can’t analyze the situation accurately because their desire to be PC prevents them from dealing with the facts. They would rather put PC sentiments first and keep Prop 8 for several more years. Based on the facts, as we know them, the repeal of Prop 8 is likely in any election where Obama is not on the ballot. Yes, that means that 2014 would be a good year for repeal, but then so is 2010, and why let the injustice last another four years?

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is porn good for America? Seems so.

Porn is good for America, good for women and a lot more fun than church. Okay, I overstate my case, but just slightly.

The Internet has brought about an explosion of porn. It has reduced the costs significantly—actually for most people they can access all the porn they want for a few cents per day.

The would-be censors, religious nutters and radical feminists, all decried porn as the incubator for sex crimes. Alas, more rational people saw porn, not as a tool for incubation, but for masturbation. The net result would be the diminution of desire not its inflammation.
There are two different sets of assumptions used in analyzing the impact of erotica on people. The censorship side claimed that porn got men “sexed up” and thus encouraged them to rape women, children, vulnerable poodles and random chipmunks. In their view individuals who viewed porn did not have their sexual desires inflamed until them watched Debbie Does Dallas or Danny Does Dallas, depending on one’s tastes in such matters. Once inflamed the porn-addict would then lurk in the dark until a victim came along.

Normally this censorship crowd would assume that man (that is all humans, not just men) was morally corrupt and inclined toward sin. This, they said, was the natural state of humanity even absent the presence of any porn. A turned ankle, or bulging crotch, was all that was needed to turn the most innocent of people into a raving sex maniac.

What these people didn’t want to do was actually appraise human sexuality accurately. Few people watch porn to get inflamed. The opposite is far more likely. Humans have sexual desires that are largely driven by biology. Pornography is used as substitute for the real thing. Instead of going out hunting for a sexual partner the horny viewer can take matters in hand.

Men, more so than women, tend to find visual depictions of sex exciting. And men, more so than women, tend to be involved with real sex crimes—by which I mean the violation of the rights of another person, not merely violating some piece of Puritanical legislation. If pornography acts as a substitute then wide access to porn should reduce the number of sex crimes over what they would have been in a regime of censorship.

Some years ago the studies I read on sex crimes indicated that men guilty of serious sex crimes had less exposure to pornography than other men, saw the porn much later in life, and tended to have very conservative values in regards to sex. I joked at the time that the government, instead of banning pornography, should be disseminating it for free. Well, as usual, the market beat the government to the task.

The Internet has made porn virtually free of charge. Whatever you want you can find and you can indulge until your blow-up sheep explodes. The net also meant that individuals, who previously could not afford or access pornography, now had it at hand instantly. This includes some of the horniest members of our society, who politicians had previously banned from the material, adolescent males. The randy teen at home, who couldn’t quite hide his magazines where mother wouldn’t find them, discovered that the Internet meant he didn’t have to store anything in view. And, with encryption protecting his stash of erotica from mother, his solitary vice could remain undiscovered.

We do know that since the rise of Internet pornography the level of sexual violence has declined significantly. This would seem to indicate that the masturbation theory was more correct than the incubation theory. But that need not be the case. There could be other factors involved. Prof. Todd Kendall, at Clemson University, has authored a paper exploring the role of the Internet in regards to rape rates. He says, of his study, “this paper considers a major decline in the price of such materials, brought about by the growth of the world wide web, and of the graphical browsers used to access it. Using state-level panel data on the rise of the Internet, I find that Internet access appears to be a substitute for rape. Specifically, the results suggest that a 10
percentage point increase in Internet access is associated with a decline in reported rape
victimization of around 7.3%.”

Kendall says that his study showed:
• States that adopted Internet usage quicker saw greater reductions in rape rates than states that didn’t.

• This reduction is heaviest in states “with a higher ratio of male to female population, suggesting that men are substituting pornography for rape when potential mates are in low supply.”

• The reduction remains even when “controlling for a wide variety of other factors.”

• The impact of the net on other crimes is non-existent. That is net usage doesn’t reduce property crimes or violence but it does reduce sex crimes.

• He found “a significant negative effect of internet access on rape arrest rates among men ages 15-19—a group for whom pornography was most restricted before the Internet. “

• He found evidence “between internet adoption and several other measures of sexuality, including teen birth rates, prostitution arrests, marriage and divorce rates, and HIV transmission.”
We have to understand that the Internet led to a sexual explosion—so to speak. Kendall writes:

By many accounts, pornography was crucial in the development of the Internet,
fueling demand for streaming video and credit card acceptance applications. Due to the decentralized nature of the internet, definitive statistics on internet content are necessarily error-prone. However, there is no doubt that the rise of the internet has led to significant increases in the consumption of pornography in the U.S. By October, 2003, Nielsen Net Ratings surveys indicated that one in four internet users admitted to accessing an adult web site within the month, spending an average of 74 minutes on such sites, and these figures do not include time spent on “amateur” porn sites nor downloads from peer-to-peer services, such as Kazaa, on which 73% of all movie searches in a recent survey were for porno films. According to Ropelato (2006), 12% of all internet websites, 25% of all search engine requests, and 35% of all peer-to-peer downloads are pornographic.

This explosion is most clearly seen among teens. Prior to the Internet it was far more difficult for teens to view sexually explicit material. Adults had no such problems. They could purchase the material rather easily. But teens could not. Kendall explains:
While the fall in the pecuniary price of pornography due to the internet may have been constant across all groups of users, the fall in the non-pecuniary price has likely been highest among the young, who typically live with their parents. Before the arrival of the internet, these consumers’ access to, and ability to discreetly store, sexually explicit materials was thus highly restricted. The privacy in consumption and storage allowed by electronic distribution increased the availability of pornography to younger age groups significantly. According to the internet traffic measuring service comScore, 70% of 18 to 24 year-old men visit adult sites each month. Statistics from Ropelato (2006) find that the 12-17 age group is the largest demographic consumer of internet pornography, and that 80% of 15-17 year olds admit to multiple exposures to hard-core pornography on the internet. By comparison, in most states, children under age 18 are prohibited from entering adult film houses or renting pornographic videos.

This is the nightmare scenario of the prudes and puritans. They predicted that widespread porn access by adolescents would lead to an explosion in teen pregnancy, increased abortion rates, higher VD rates, etc. In truth, as teens have become more adept at accessing pornography the reverse has happened. Teen pregnancy is down, abortion is down and VD rates are down. Teens today are more sexually active when it comes to porn and masturbation and less active when it comes to sex with others. Pornography did not increase teen sex, at least not sex with other people. It delayed sexual experimentation.

The Internet has changed sexual attitudes and sexual behavior. I suggest that young people today are more liberal (in all senses of the word) in regards to sex. But they are more conservative in their physical expression of sexuality. They may send each other nude photos or masturbation videos but they are less likely to actually have sex. They are using virtual sexuality as a substitute for real life sexual encounters. And that means lower rape rates, lower pregnancy rates, and lower VD rates.
Popular website for teens with webcams are well known as places where teens put on “private” sex shows for others. Sites that cater to adults are forced to constantly police their web services because adolescents are frequently sneaking onto the site and putting on sex shows for the entire world to see. As shocking as that might be for many adults they should consider that these teens are often using this as a substitute for actual sex. There is a trade off involved. Even teen males have limits to the number of orgasms they can seek in a day. And an orgasm achieved one-way means they are less likely to seek the same thing another way.

Kendall’s study backs up what numerous other studies have shown. Access to erotica reduces sexual crimes. The presence of pornography means that rape is less likely, not more likely. While Kendall doesn’t discuss “sexting” per se I have to note that the same theory, applied to “sexting,” would indicate that the practice makes teens less likely to have sex with another person not more. Sexting is where teens send each other erotic photos or videos of themselves.

The impact of the new technology on sexuality is interesting, especially for teens who grew up with it. I would argue that the following appears to be true:

1. Teens are more liberal in attitudes about sex today than before.
2. Teens are less likely to have physical sex with another person today than before.
3. But teens are also more likely to engage in technologically induced masturbation. Less sex doesn’t mean fewer orgasms.

The evidence calls into question the idea that censorship helps reduce sex crimes. Erotica, if it were a substitute for actual sex, would actually reduce sex crimes. Censorship, by removing the substitute, would thus encourage the very crimes that it was meant to prevent. Think about it.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nero fiddled, for Obama that would be an improvement.

Associated Press has a report out on the disastrous Bush/Obama deficit. I find the way it is worded a bit deceptive myself. I want to discuss how words are chosen to give people particular impressions that may, or may not, be accurate.

The headline is: “Meltdown 101: How did $1 Trillion deficit happen?”

This is a rather passive phrase. Deficits don’t just “happen” they are caused. Accidents happen; assaults are planned. To say something happened implies a lack of human causation. Tidal waves, earthquakes, and tornados happen. Budget deficits are planned and imposed. At the very least words that indicate active causation ought to have been used.

The report says that the projected deficit by the Obama White House is $1.84 trillion, which is “four times the size of last year’s deficit.” It is noted that the previous deficit “was the all-time leader at the time, at $454.8 billion—a figure that now seems puny in comparison.” Consider that the size of deficit has ballooned by 400% in just one year. The debt that the government now holds, and which it intends to hold you responsible for, amounts to $184,000 per person. For the typical family this more than pays off a home.

The cost of government is not just the lose of freedom through the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on obscenity, the war on poverty and the real wars. It is not just the burden of Obama’s auto czar, drug czar, health czar, energy czar, border czar, bailout czar, urban czar, regulatory czar (aren’t they all?), Middle East czar, and a couple of dozen others. (Remember when czar was a term for despot? It still is.) The cost of government is also the taxes that destroy jobs, create poverty, and strip people of the ability to pay for health care. And it is another $184,000 in debts that the Demopublican authoritarians have imposed on each and every American.

The AP story asks how America went from budget surpluses to deficits. It’s answer is again very passive—no causation, no human agents doing anything. “The surpluses at the end of the last decade reflected a boom-time economy, which was enjoying the longest uninterrupted expansion in U.S. history.

When the last recession began in 2001, that cut into revenues. Then the government's budget picture darkened even further after the 2001 terrorist attacks as government spending was increased to pay for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Things happened, see. No one increased budgets. No one spent more. Bush and Obama didn’t rush out and decimate the economy with unfunded, onerous spending. Bad things happened, no one is to blame.

The article says: ” Two things happened to make the deficit balloon: The country was hit by a severe recession that began in December 2007, and then those troubles were compounded by the worst financial crisis in seven decades, which struck in the fall of 2008.”

The article keeps alive the lie that government spending is “stimulus” that will solve the problem. Bush spent the savings of your unborn grandchildren. Obama spent the savings of their children, their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren.

The only spending this article talks about is “stimulus spending” and “automatic stabilizers” such as “food stamps and unemployment compensation.” It doesn’t mention bad programs like ethanol, farm subsidies, foreign aid, and billions of raw pork, spent by dishonest politicians in both parties. That sort of spending apparently does not exist, or is not acknowledged.

The article also claims: “Economists say it is OK to run massive deficits now to stablize the banking system and get the economy growing again.” Notice that the way this is worded is as if there is unanimous consent by economists that deficit spending does these things. There is good evidence that deficits don’t stabilize but distort and that they prevent economic growth. Thousands of economists have spoken out against the disastrous spending of the Bush/Obama regimes. Associated Press doesn’t think they exist.

And remember that Obama isn’t finished. What he is seeking is state control over as much of the economy as possible. That which the State doesn’t control directly (socialism), it will control through regulations (fascism). Obama is an economic totalitarian.

And what sort of solution does Associated Press offer in this “analysis” of the problem. According to them, private economists believe we need some type of tax increases to convince foreign investors that the administration is serious about getting its deficits under control.”

How do you get deficits under control? Do you pick your neighbor’s pockets? Or do you cut spending? Obama doesn’t want to get the deficit under control by spending less. He has only two alternatives. One is to tax you directly and steal even more of your income. That means you consume less, jobs are destroyed and the economy shrinks even further. Or, he can spend wildly and monetize the debt through inflation. In that system he steals your income indirectly by reducing the value of the currency. Either way the Obama plan is to screw you over economically. You will have to cut your spending while Obama expands his. You will have to make do with less so he can have more.

As I see it the deficit of Bush was very bad. The deficit of Obama is four times worse. Bush was the worst president in American history, by my standards. Obama is set to be four times worse. Barack Obama is worse for America than the 9/11 terrorists. What those terrorists did was awful and killed thousands. What Obama is doing is wrecking the entire economy and inflicting misery on hundreds of millions of people. It is rather disgusting.

His one virtue was supposed to be his stand on civil liberties. Pass the air sickness bag on that one too. After raping you economically he’s still pumping up the police state of Homeland Security, he is still working to restrict first amendment rights, he is still imposing bigoted policies against gay people and he is still conducting the disastrous war on drugs. Obama is as bad on civil liberties, to date, as George Bush and he’s worse for the economy—as hard as that is to believe. It is claimed that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. One can't say the same for Obama. In his case fiddling would be an improvement. He's thrown gasoline on the flames.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

You never know.

It is often assumed that the wealthy are snobbish and unpleasant. I try to avoid such stereotyping myself. Many on the Left oppose such stereotyping but relish it when applied to those they dislike. I tend not to post much about personalities but I wanted to make an exception in regards to Steve Forbes.

Forbes, who runs Forbes magazine, is not quite a billionaire but he's close enough to make anyone happy. I guess he's worth half a billion dollars himself. In anyone's world that's a lot of money. Yet he is one of the most unpretentious individuals I've had the pleasure to meet. Even though he's run for the presidential nomination and is wealthy beyond imagination he seems to travel with no security detail that I could see.

Normally security details are very obvious. I remember seeing a security detail outside a McDonald's once as I was entering for a bite to eat. I noticed them but didn't give it much thought until Nelson Mandela entered for a birthday party. He was less obtrusive than they were.

But in the several times that I have crossed paths with Mr. Forbes he seemed to be quite content with walking about entirely alone. There were no secretaries or personal assistants waiting on him. It was just him. It's not that he's unrecognizable to the public. And lots of people know who he is. So I found it fascinating to watch how he interacts with the public.

Over the half dozen or so occasions when we have crossed paths I've never seen him ignore someone who walked up to him. He shook hands with everyone. He listened respectfully to them and took the time to answer questions that they asked. His answers to questions seemed well thought out and well informed. He knew his stuff. While I'm not always in agreement with his politics the answers I've heard him give have impressed me.

He seemed happy to stop what he was doing to pose for pictures with someone. With camera phones around there was no shortage of people wanting their pictures taken with Forbes. He pose with the various individuals and smile for them.

He is accommodating and friendly. I know some wealthy people who view wealth as a "fuck people" license. Steve Forbes seems to be quite the opposite of that. He came across as a gentleman and as a gentle man.

In one of those odd coincidences in life I was sitting at a table with Steve Forbes. A man from Nepal came up to introduce himself to Forbes. As they were chatting I heard the man someone I consider a very good friend who works with a foundation in Africa. I was so surprised that I interrupted expressing surprise that this man knew my friend. Then I realized I had heard of this man and this man knew who I was from our mutual friend. As we were chatting several other people came up and introduced themselves to Forbes who politely spoke to all of them.

Our Nepalese visitor mentioned to me that our mutual friend was in New York on business so we used my cell phone to call him. He answered and was rather surprised to find that his friend from Nepal was chatting with an old friend from the US purely by coincidence. Then I asked Mr. Forbes if he would allow me to introduce him telephonically to the friend from Africa, who had been mentioned to him earlier. As I suspected he would, Forbes was quite happy to do so.

I handed him the cell phone and he spent several minutes chatting with someone he had only heard about and didn't know. He asked about the political situations and expressed genuine interest in what was going on. That evening he sat with us for about half an hour and was open to talking to anyone who approached him. He posed with their children and smiled into their cameras when asked to do. No one was ignored, no question was too arcane or too stupid for him. No one was considered beneath him or unworthy of polite answers and a warm handshake.

While I suspect that Forbes is closer to my political views than he lets on there is no doubt that we would have some serious disagreements on various matters. So I have no political motive to say nice things about him. But I was impressed by how decent a human being he was.

Too often people treat others badly. Certainly having half a billion dollars would give one the ability to get away with a lot of bad behavior. Yet Steve Forbes was always pleasant, always attentive, and always kind. I noticed that a bit last year, when we first met. But since then I've seen him three or four times and spent more time observing him. He impresses me. These days I don't expect to be impressed often. So when it happens I think it worth mentioning.

Whatever differences we have I can now see one reason why Steve Forbes is not an electable candidate. He's just too decent a man to hold public office.