Sunday, October 24, 2010

Valerie Jarrett (or maybe her boss Barry O.) still clueless?

Here is a clip from CNN, showing both American Hero Lieutenant Dan Choi's response to the Obama Administration's incredibly arrogant and stupid decision to appeal the federal court decision striking DADT, and Administration Spokesperson Valerie Jarrett repeating her laughably silly talking points in response.



(NOTE: If you are seeing this as a Facebook NOTE, go to my Blog to actually see the video!)

http://www.trans-cendence.blogspot.com


Let's set the record "straight" on the President's power on DADT, and why the Administration position is playing politics, as Lieutenant Choi points out.

To be fair, President Obama can (and does) point to a number of positive accomplishments, but his errors, misssteps, and his continual attempts to compromise with evil has weakened his administration.

The statutory authority to suspend the discharges in found in 10 USC § 12305 - the exact text of this statute is quoted here, so that it might be abundanty clear that President Obama has failed on this issue:


§ 12305. Authority of President to suspend certain laws relating to
promotion, retirement, and separation

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, during any period members of a reserve component are serving on active duty pursuant to an order to active duty under authority of section 12301, 12302, or 12304 of this title, the President may suspend any provision of law relating to promotion, retirement, or separation applicable to any member of the armed forces who the President determines is essential to the national security of the United States.

(b) A suspension made under the authority of subsection (a) shall terminate

(1) upon release from active duty of members of the reserve component ordered to active duty under the authority of section 12301, 12302, or 12304 of this title, as the case may be, or

(2) at such time as the President determines the circumstances which required the action of ordering members of the reserve component to active duty no longer exist, whichever is earlier.

(c) Upon the termination of a suspension made under the authority of subsection (a)of a provision of law otherwise requiring the separation or retirement of officers on active duty because of age, length of service or length of service in grade, or failure of selection for promotion, the Secretary concerned shall extend by up to 90 days the otherwise required separation or retirement date of any officer covered by the suspended provision whose separation or retirement date, but for the suspension, would have been before the date of the termination of the suspension or within 90 days after the date of such termination.



So, what part of 10 USC § 12305 (a) does Valerie Jarrett or Barack Obama not understand?

DADT should have been addressed with a statutorily-permitted "stop loss" executive order within the first 90 days. The Joint Chiefs should have been told on day 1 to prepare for this, and resignations accepted from those not willing to implement the stop loss. The Congress should have been told on day 1 that repeal was a priority issue just as important as the economy.

The President and his administration claim a desire to repeal DADT through congressional efforts - but Congress has already provided the means for the President to stop the losses - based on a statute passed by Congress before DAY ONE OF THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION. The President should have issued such an order within his first 90 days of taking office, so that there would have been no shameful discharges under his administration.

As long as there are members of the reserves serving during a war, national emergency or other circumstances, the suspension of discharges of LGBT persons in military service could be ordered by the President. The question to Valerie and Barry has been and still is:

Why does the administration not make use of existing law to suspend the discharges?

And Lieutenant Choi knows the answer - it's a cold political calculation - and it's one that is an utter failure. On the one hand, the President claims, in his own words, and through his people, that he is committed to the repeal of DADT. But his actions show an opposite commitment. He already has the STATUTORY authority to stop the discharges - but he has failed to do so. He has the authority to recognize the decision of the federal court that sets aside the DADT statute as unconstitutional, but instead, has ordered an emergency appeal to keep the discharges coming.

There is one glimmer of good faith - the Secretary of Defense recently amended DoD policy on how to implement DADT discharges - and this may actually be the closest thing to a "stop loss" order that we are going to see. Authority to decide on discharges under DADT has been stripped from unit commanders and are now in the hands of five senior DoD civilian personnel. This is fairly close to a stop loss order - and could well have kept Arabic language expert Lieutenant Dan Choi in service to the nation, protecting us from harm.

But why hasn't Valerie Jarrett pointed that out?

We've been told that Lieutenant Choi tweeted that his re-enlistment papers, taken during the week during which the discharges were suspended, are apparently being shredded by the Army. I don't think it should be like that - why hasn't Valerie, who knows that Dan Choi re-enlisted the moment he could do so, asked Secretary Gates why this isn't being handled by the five civilians in charge? Don't they still have a shortage of Arabic translators? Or is this a case of "military intelligence" as an oxymoronic statement?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

White House FAIL on DADT; Ted Olson in 2012?

Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett shows exactly how clueless the Obama administration is about the duty to uphold the law in this video:



(IF you're seeing this as a facebook note, do yourself a favor and go directly to my blog at:

http://www.transcendence.blogspot.com

Facebook does not pick up the video.

The best answer to Valerie's obvious ignorance comes from former Bush solicitor general Ted Olson:

"It happens every once in awhile at the federal level when the solicitor general, on behalf of the U.S., will confess error or decline to defend a law. I don't know what is going through the [Obama] administration's thought process on 'don't ask, don't tell.' It would be appropriate for them to say 'the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that.'"


There is NO earthly reason for President Obama and his "Justice" department to be appealing the DADT decision. The existing statute allows him to issue a stop loss Order - something he should morally have done within the first 90 days of having taken office. The existing law is not constitutional - and the executive is not required to attempt to enforce a law known to be unconstitutional, at least once a court has correctly weighed in on the subject.

I am taking the opportunity right now to call on someone with brains, a heart and some backbone, to step up the day after the mid-term elections, and start campaigning in a run for the Presidency in 2012. Barack Obama has earned a primary challenge.

I am putting the Democratic Party on notice - I will continue to work for Democratic candidates who support real human rights and full equality. If Barack Obama is the Democratic candidate for president in 2012, I will not carry his petitions. I will not campaign for his re-election. I will not make a donation to his re-election, and I will vote for some other candidate. And if there is no suitable candidate, I will write in my own name.

If I had the money, the time, and the support, I would run for president in 2012 myself. I'm more qualified for the job than the incumbent - I have a brain, a heart, and a backbone, and I won't compromise with evil. While President Obama is a wonderful public speaker, and is very bright, he has not shown the heart or the backbone to do right by the nation.

You know what? Even though he's a Republican, I think I might be willing to vote for Ted Olson, regardless of party line. Maybe Ted should run in 2012.

Glenn Beck: Half Monkey. Really?

WorldNutDaily is at it again, though this time, they’re merely the conduit.

In an article entitled, “Glen Beck: What if God made us from monkeys?” WND’s Joe Kovacs reports on Beck’s radio show defense of Delaware Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chrisine O’Donnell, and her decidedly creationist views with regard to evolution.

Beck is quoted as saying

“Did evolution just stop? I haven't seen the half-monkey/half-person yet.”


and

“There's no other species that's developing into half-people.”


He even refers to himself, jokingly, as a "half-monkey."

Beck’s justification apparently attemopts to lay its groundwork at the feet of the founding fathers, and without citing him, to Thomas Jefferson – Beck's reasoning includes nonsense like:

“God didn't create, if things evolve, then your rights evolve. You're not endowed by your Creator.”


I guess Glenn doesn’t know that Jefferson was a Unitarian, who was interested in nature and skeptical about miracles. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence well before Darwin expounded his theory.

Evolution does not require a denial of the existence of God, though it does not require the existence of a god, either. However, the kind of God that could comfortably co-exist with evolutionary theory is the sort hypothesized by prominent medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas as a prima causa.

This is distinguishable from the God hypothesized by Intelligent Design, which co-opts evolutionary processes but requires the belief that they are “directed” rather than random. Intelligent Design allows believers the hubris of a humanity that is at the top of the chain of evolution, rather than just a different sort of creature. There are many who may even be atheists who also fall into this trap.

While literal Creationism and Intelligent Design ideas are not credible based on the evidence of scientific observation, there are still truths that can be discerned from the Genesis Creation story, as well as aspects that have led many to misleading interpretive conclusions. One does not have to accept literalist interpretations in order to draw out the good.

One of these is the idea of responsible stewardship over the earth and other creatures.

In our everyday lives, it does not matter tremendously whether one individual or another might have a personal belief in a literalist Creation story. Sadly, this is a concept that many literalists, particularly those who believe that the “Rapture” is just around the corner, have abandoned the idea of responsible stewardship. A Secretary of the Interior under Ronald Reagan believed that the sooner we lay waste to the environment, the sooner the rapture would come.

There is a growing movement among responsible evangelical Christians, that is a reaction against the nuttery fomented by the extremists at WorldNutDaily, with their focus on things like teaching creationism in the schools, persecuting gay people, and reducing women to a chattel status.

Before the Roman Catholic Church whipped them up, most evangelicals were neutral on the issue of women’s reproductive rights, and were content with the biblical teaching that taking the first breath was the point at which the soul is infused into a person. Now many of them believe that people are fully human from the moment of conception.

Before the Reaganites whipped them up, evangelical Christians were largely neutral on the issue of politics – preferring to adhere to the Biblical “rendering” teahing – leaving Caesar and God in separate realms. Now, there is a sadly strong Christianist Dominionist movement, braying at how “America is A Christian Nation” and working to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else. They even believe that “freedom of religion” applies only to those with a fundamentalist or at least conservative “Christian” faith, grudgingly including fellow-travelers such as Mormons and Roman Catholics.

Beck, who was born and raised Roman Catholic, is a 1999 convert to the Latter Day Saints. He certainly took a different direction than I, a cradle Catholic who, after being thrown out of the Catholic Church that same year, discarded the non-essential aspects of that faith that require a “suspension of disbelief,” and ultimately settled into Unitarian-Universalism.

Unitarian and Universalist principles grew up out of the same fertile 19th century Northeastern religious fervor that spawned the Mormon churches – and yet these churches evolved in very different directions. The Latter Day Saints invented a fanciful theology that requires a belief that the ten “Lost Tribes” of Israel somehow made their way to the North American continent, where they are supposed to have warred with the native peoples. Unitarians and Universalists evolved and merged into a non-credal religious organization based on a respect for many paths to enlightenment (though not all paths are enlightened), with a moral theology that is inclusive and tolerant.

While faith in an imaginary half-baked “history” is a Mormon theological requirement, the mere belief in it is not harmful in and of itself. I am sure that there are many positive aspects to the LDS faith, but there are some teachings that are immoral and destructive.

And Glenn Beck’s faith has among its tenets stories that are no more fanciful than the stories of miracles and the resurrection of more traditional Christianity, that the Unitarian Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the “endowed by our Creator” language in the Declaration of Independence, razored out of his personal Bible.
The problem comes when people like Beck and other CHristianists take their religious myths and expect them to be taught in the schools as science.

Evolution is a theory in the sense that it is an established and proven from a scientific point of view. Not everything is known about the processes of evolution, but based on the observations and evidence, it’s irrefutable. It’s not as if everything has been learned about how it works, but to date, all the evidence is in support of the theory.

That isn’t to say that evolution on earth and in our known universe might only be the result of certain local conditions, much as Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics are local explanations that test well on the human scale, but not in the large ((relativity) and small (quantum) realms. Indeed, large-scale bridge building has to take into account the curvature of the earth – towers that are perpendicular to the surface of the earth but a quarter mile apart are not parallel to each other, and Newtonian theory does not explain the bending of light by gravity, an explanation that makes Einsteinian theory useful on the macro scale.

The principle of natural selection as a random process, basic to evolutionary theory, still makes sense. People often get misconceptions as to the idea of the “survival of the fittest,” imagining competition a being one of “tooth and claw.”

Properly understood, evolutionary theory is simple and elegant, and is borne out by the paleontological record as well as by contemporary observation in shorter-lived animals.

Beck and O’Donnell both assume that we should be seeing monkeys evolving into humans in a short period of time, such assumptions are folly. They fail to realize that gross evolutionary change occurs over millions of years, and then there is also punctuated equilibrium, as creatures react evolutionarily to changes in their environment – those that fail become extinct. We do observe evolutionary change in reaction to environmental pressures occurring in short-lived species.

One bit of evidence for recent evolution among humans comes with the genetic distinction between Tibetans and the Han Chinese with whom they share a common ancestry. Most Tibetans have a genetic makeup that allows for thriving at high latitudes, while these genes are rare in Han Chinese. As with all humans, the evolutionary differences are not sufficient to make Tibetans and other humans into separate species. Even so, the development of these differences came over thousands of years, while the differentiation of primate species takes millions of years.

Perhaps Glen Beck might like to explain what makes Tibetans different from Han Chinese, and how Creationism explains the genetic changes. Han Chinese and Tibetans are both human, but there are differences that are explainable by evolutionary theory, but not by Creation theory, which does not take into account genetic differences among any people alleged to have been descended from a single couple who are supposed to have existed about 4,000 years ago.


In the article, Beck is quoted:

Beck explained, "If God didn't create, if things evolve, then your rights evolve. You're not endowed by your Creator."

"Just like you go from a monkey to a man, you go from simple rights to higher rights and somebody has to take those rights and give them to you and take them away or change them. This is again the evolutionary thinking of progressivism."


The philosophical basis for the idea of inalienable rights, while written in the societal context of a then-pervasive creationist deism, does not depend on a deity, but rather on a principle of self-evident truths.

These lofty-minded principles are assumptions. The idea that “all men are created equal” may well have meant, using the idea of “original intent,” to encompass only white, anglo-saxon, protestant property owning males, particularly because of the existence of slavery, the limitations on voting such as poll taxes and literacy tests, and the non-inclusion of women in colonial times. Jefferson himself was a slave owner, and treated at least one of his female house slaves as a concubine with whom he fathered children, and not necessarily with her informed consent, particularly because of the relative power between master and slave,

However, as much as Glenn Beck pooh-poohs the idea of the evolution of ideas, and the evolution of inalienable rights, we have seen the arc of history bend ever so slowly toward justice.

While today, we assume that “all men” uses a meaning of “men” that includes women and the descendents of former slaves, that was not self-evident to the founding fathers.

No one has to “give” us these rights, but as society gradually becomes more civilized, it begins to recognize these rights as being more pervasive.

Gays have just as much of an inalienable right as anyone else to serve in the military and get married – the problem is that the law does not in most cases currently recognize the essential justice of the situation.

Biblical literalists once asserted that the enslavement of racially non-white Africans and their descendants was based on the Word of God as found in Genesis – and they would refer to their slaves as “the children of Ham.” (Bible-based racism can be found in the early history of our space program – our first chimp in space was named Ham, for example.) Today they want their religion-based creationism taught in schools, and they want their particular brand of Christianist faith to be the basis for the secular law.

Yet African Americans were freed from slavery, only to find themselves after a few brief years of Reconstruction to be relegated to a second class status by reason of the separate and quite unequal doctrine of racial segregation that was permitted by the federal courts. Even today, there are lingering effects of a continuing and insidious institutionalized racism that permeates the United States like an evil stench, largely not noticed by whites but still an affliction.

Racism, Heterosexism, Patriarchism , Cisgenderism and Dominionism are all examples of barriers to an inclusive understanding of the principles on which the nation was founded. Glen Beck complains because he thinks that evolution gets in the way of our inalienable rights. The problem is that Christianist thinking is perhaps the biggest obstacle to our rights. Christianity is fine, Christianist oppression is not. Beck, like the folks at WorldNutDaily, does not get the difference.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cuomo a strong second to Hawkins in NY Gov. Debate

Last night, Trudy and I had the opportunity to attend the seven-way New York gubernatorial debate, which took place at Hofstra University in Long Island. Getting there was an adventure – Trudy drove down to my office in Manhattan, turned the steering wheel over to me, and we did manage to make it to the arena on time, despite the horrific traffic on the Long Island Expressway (which truly earns its sobriquet of “the world’s biggest parking lot”).

Attending the debate in person was a different experience than watching it on television, though there were several huge screens allowing us to see the candidates close up.

Trudy and I had excellent seats near the middle, in the sixth row. We saw our local district attorney, Janet DiFiore, in attendance, and Karen, a friend from church, who was there with the League of Women Voters.

It was interesting to see how the hosts, Hofstra University, together with Cablevision’s News 12 and Long Island’s Newsday newspaper, managed to fill in the floor seats of those invitees who couldn’t get there on time. There were a few hundred extras, invited by the University, seated in the stadium seating to the rear, who were poised to fill in, which explains why all the invitees had to be in our seats well before the debate began.

Cell phones not only had to be silent, they had to be completely off, though I bet that I could have gotten away with “airplane mode,” since the reason announced was that cell signals could interfere with some of the equipment. I did not, however, chance testing that hypothesis.

While we were supposed to sit quietly through the debate, there were instances during which some of the crowd erupted in impermissible applause. I did not succumb to the temptation, even though I do have a habit of muttering at the television when watching similar events from the comfort of my home.

It seems like the mainstream media take on the debate was to ignore the minor party candidates, except to the extent that they could add some “color” (and I don’t mean race) to the proceedings. Charles Barron, Kristen Davis, and to a lesser extent Warren Redlich, all managed to provide some sound bites for a media that ignores the rest of their message. Jimmy McMillan was a one-man comic relief. Sadly, one of the best candidates in the crowd, who stayed on message the whole night, the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins, did not get much of a mention at all from the MSM.

Here’s my scoring: Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate, got an “uptick” on my scoresheet on every response segment, making him the clear winner of last night’s New York gubernatorial debate, with a grade of 12 out of 12. If the debate was the only factor in my voting decision, Mr. Hawkins would be my choice for Governor. It’s actually too bad that the media is not paying him any attention.

Andrew Cuomo, clearly trying to stay calm and not make any mistakes, managed to make it to 2nd in my scoring, with 7-1/2 out of 12 upticks, while only managing two downticks – one of which was for his limited support of hydrofracking. Still, when I take his debate score, and give him extra credit for his experience and proven ability, he’s still going to get my vote.

In a strong third, Eliot Spitzer’s former madam, Kristen Davis, made a strong showing with 6 out of 12 upticks and only two downticks. It’s clear that if something happened to both Andrew and Howie between now and election day, she’d actually get my vote.

Charles Barron, the one-dimensional Freedom Party candidate, managed 3/12 upticks, and only 4 downticks. I was most disappointed with his inability to perceive that there are other disadvantaged minorities out there. His good points are outweighed by his negatives, particularly his purported “neutrality” on marriage equality (“the Freedom Party does not have a position” on that issue, indeed). None of us are truly free until we are all free -

Carl Paladino managed 1-1/2 upticks, and, while that’s technically a tie for last on upticks alone, he did have fewer absolute downticks (4) than the last two. Carl gets a special mention (and an entire uptick!) for his head-shaking gesture, followed by a pause and the query, “Is this a rebuttal?” in response to a scurrilous attack by the whiny libertarian, whose apparent aim, aside from whining (did I mention he was really whiny?) was to shill for the Republican congressional down-ticket, as if he has them on his own coattails.

The rather strange gentleman with the interesting beard, Jimmy McMillan, sitting between Carl Paladino and Andrew Cuomo, with his rambling, punctuated by his “the rent is too damn high” message, still managed to get 1-1/2 upticks (the full tick being for his closing statement, and the half for being in favor of marriage equality (the lost half-tick on that came from his apparent willingness to let a fetishist marry a shoe). Every time he spoke, I listened in almost rapt horror, as a torrent of disconnected verbiage washed over me.

The libertarian whiner, Warren Redlich, somehow managed to get 1-1/2 upticks with 5 downticks. His single strongest point had to do with capping bureaucratic pay. Though technically tied for last with Carl Paladino and Jimmy McMillan, it appears from my scoresheet analysis that he did, in fact, come in dead last when I factor in the downticks. Perhaps there is a place for him at “Cheers;” there really isn’t any place for him in government. I’m most disappointed, because my own political philosophy is what I might call lowercase, or “small-l”(that’s “ell”) libertarian. Big-L Libertarians like this gentleman seem to crawl out from under rocks to bay at the moon.

The bottom line? Despite Howie Hawkins’ strong showing, the biggest news seems to be that neither Andrew Cuomo nor Carl Paladino did themselves any real harm. I grant Carl scores low with me, primarily because I disagree with him on so much. But for those who agree with him, he did not shoot himself in the foot. It may be that he learned something from his Yehuda Levin experience.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Carl Paladino APOLOGIZES!

After first trying to deny his words, or some of them (the ones he had in his written speech but didn't read), Carl Paladino has done something unusual - he has actually apologized.

The actual and unedited text of his apology is below. While I still disagree with him on a large number of issues and I still support his Democratic opponent in the New York gubernatorial election, the issuance of an actual apology that has a minimum of weasel wording is worth noting. As a reward, I am editing my earlier post to remove the caricature of Mr. Paladino's head with the Charlie Chaplin moustache photoshopped onto a picture of one A. Hitler, former Fuehrer of the Third Reich.

Here is the text of the apology, followed by my comments:

I am Carl Paladino, a father, a husband, a builder and a business owner. I am neither perfect, nor a career politician. I have made mistakes in this campaign - I have made mistakes all my life- as we all have. I am what I am - a simple man who works hard, trusts others, and loves his family and fears for the future of our State.

Yesterday I was handed a script. I redacted some contents that were unacceptable. I did also say some things for which I should have chosen better words. I said other things that the press misinterpreted and misstated. I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the Gay and Lesbian Community or their family members. Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong. My personal beliefs are:

1) I am a live and let live person.

2) I am 100% against discrimination of any group. I oppose discrimination of any kind in housing, credit, insurance benefits or visitation.

3) I am 100% against hate crimes in any form.

4) I am in support of civil agreements and equal rights for all citizens.

5) My position on marriage is based on my personal views. I have the same position on this issue as President Barrack Obama. I have previously stated I would support a referendum by New York voters. I have proposed Initiative and Referendum so New Yorkers can decide important issues like this.

6) The portrayal of me as anti-gay is inconsistent with my lifelong beliefs and actions and my prior history as an father, employer and friend to many in the gay and lesbian community.

I am concerned with the future for all our citizens, gay, straight, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim and Agnostic. Although I am not perfect I do admit my mistakes. I will reach out to leaders of the gay community to educate me on how to better represent my support for the rights of all citizens. If elected as your governor I will stand and fight for all gay New Yorkers rights. I ask you for forgiveness on my poorly chosen words and the publication by others not involved with our campaign of unredacted script that did not reflect my oral statement or match my personal feelings. Please go to my website www.paladinoforthepeople.com to learn more detail about the issues including my staunch support for civil rights for all New Yorkers.


The only weasely words?

I did also say some things for which I should have chosen better words. I said other things that the press misinterpreted and misstated.

The "should have chosen better words" part requires some amplification, as does the "misinterpreted and misstated."

It's really hard to misinterpret and misstate an unaltered video.

Essentially, what Carl biggest mistake was to read someone else's words as his own, slightly edited. That someone was most probably the ultra-conservative right wing "Rabbi" Yehuda Levin, the leader of a tiny ultra-Orthodox but not Hasidic Jewish sect.

Carl was trying to garner support from these people by telling them pretty much what their leader wanted them to hear. So, if he doesn't believe what he told them, he was lying to them to get their vote, possibly not thinking that the terribly nasty things he was saying to pander to this small group was going to be spread to the rest of the world by way of the news media and the blogosphere.

This is the sort of campaign trick that used to work fairly well - a candidate would tell a small group what they wanted to hear without fearing that the words would be recorded and broadcast, and then promising something else to some other group.

In this case, Mr. Paladino got caught.

His hiding behind Barack Obama's skirts as if the President is his mommy, on the issue of marriage equality, is rather disingenuous. President Obama is wrong on this issue, and he is another example of a lying politician who has told many different stories to many different groups on many different issues, though President Obama's actual record is mixed.

If Carl really believes in "live and let live," he would be willing to put the Constitution above his religious prejudices - why should the Catholic Church decide whether gay Unitarians should be able to get legally married?

The fact remains that no one who places the immoral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church ahead of the Constitution of the United States or that of the State of New York, is and remains unqualified to be Governor.

The addition of "Initiative" and "Referendum" like they have in California, particularly if not limited so that individual rights are unaffected, is likely to result in what Alexis de Tocqueville referred to as "the tyranny of the majority." Popular votes taken to limit the rights of people who are different that they don't like, can result in injustice - the majority is not always right.

Carl - if your apology was genuine and sincerely intended:

- Will you openly sponsor a civil marriage bill as a Governor's program bill? (It has to be civil marriage, because "live and let live" does not work any other way unless you abolish civil marriage for everyone in New York and leave it up to the churches and individuals to decide for themselves on the basis of their own personal beliefs). It is okay for you to be personally against marrying a man yourself - you already have a wife, and a female concubine (well, how else am I supposed to describe the mother of your daughter . . .) - you don;t have to choose to marry a man - so that's where your personal beliefs are appropriate.

- Will you make GENDA a Governor's program bill? It would extend human rights and hate crimes protections to the trans community.

- Will you direct insurance companies and Medicaid to provide for medically appropriate care for all, including transgender New Yorkers?

- Will you pledge to let the federal government deal with immigration issues and leave the State out of it?

- Will you support abolishing city, town and village governments (excepting New York City) and provide for consolidation of services (including school districts) at the county level?

- Will you support making Medicaid costs the sole responsibility of the State without passing the cost off to the counties?

- Will you support the abolition of "member items?"

- Will you support the elimination of all loopholes in the mortgage recording tax?

- Will you support the adoption of the ACRIS recording system on a statewide basis, with local recording officers acting only as agents of the state? Will you provide for free online public access to land records (as they do in the State of Florida?)

I have much longer laundry list, but something along these lines would be a start.

Taking the Medicaid burden off county governments and consolidating local municipalities and districts to the county government level would go much farther toward reducing the real property tax burden than the things you're foolishly promising already.

But Carl, I do thank you for the apology - it's not something that a Ruben Diaz or a Sally Kern would ever do. It may be that all you need is a little education.

If you don't follow through on your apology, would you prefer I find a photo of Benito Mussolini to use as the basis for a caricature?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Carl Paladino Dysfunctional and Unfit for Governor

PICTURE REMOVED BASED ON CARL PALADINO ISSUING AN APOLOGY.
Carl Paladino showing his true colors.

In a story published today, The New York Daily News quotes Carl Paladino, the clearly mentally unstable short-fused dysfunctional heterosexist whoremonger "Republican" candidate for New York Governor as saying,

"I didn't march in the Gay Pride parade this year. My opponent did. [There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual. That's not how God created us, and ] that's not the example that we should be showing our children - and certainly not in our schools."


*(italics show portion of Carl's statement NOT in the video remarks. Still, the rest was bad enough.)

Paladino was also quoted as saying that he does not support gay bashing,

"Don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie. My approach is live and let live."


It is actually even worse than reported at the Daily News - here is a video of the speech with some context:



Video source: Azi Paybarah via Pam's House Blend.


When Carl thinks of gay people as “dysfunctional,” he clearly shows his ignorance of the fact that for a percentage of the population, same-sex attraction is a part of their nature. When he says “That’s not how God created us” he shows his irrational prejudice is based on the teachings of some repellant and immoral false religious cult he may profess as a mask to cover his naked bigotry. When he talks about “examples for children” he implies that gays are unfit to be teachers, and that children should not be taught that there are different family constellations,and that gays should be relegated to the shadows and closets. Essentially, Carl has once again shown in a clear and unambiguous fashion that he is completely and totally unfit for election to the position of Governor of the State of New York.

The video reveals more:

Carl says:

"We must not pander to the pornographers and the perverts who seek to target our children and destroy their lives."


Carl is himself actually the sort of dysfunctional heterosexist pervert who wants to target our children, and anyone who is different, and destroy our lives, if we're not macho like him.

"I just think that my children, and your children, will be much better off, and much more successful, getting married and raising a family."


And what does he mean - is he supporting marriage equality? I sincerely doubt it, not in his bigoted context.

"And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option."


Carl proves he is a loon - homosexuality is not an option, it's a natural sexual orientation for a percentage of the population. Perhaps Carl should get some education before shooting off his mouth. Perhaps the sort of "homosexual" experiences Carl may have had were the kind that oversexed macho men who can;t keep "it" in their pants have when they don't have immediate access to women, like what he seems to have wanted to do with that New York Post Reporter he wanted to "take out" last week.

Carl Paladino has provem that he is is a liar, a sneak, a cheat, a whoremonger and an unscrupulous businessman. He is a clearly dysfunctional heterosexist who, based on the evidence of his display of sexual “prowess” won't be able to control his sexual urges unless he submits to a voluntary castration, and perhaps not even then.

He is so ashamed of his love child that he is unwilling to appear with her and his concubine with the rest of his family in campaign appearances. He has been paying off his concubine to keep her quiet and out of the picture. He pretends he is trying to protect the unfortunate child, but it is clear from his actions that he is not protecting her, but rather that he is ashamed of her – or else he would take her with him on the campaign, with both his wife, his concubine, and his other surviving children, and show the world he’s proud of her, and that she has a father who’s good for more than hush money.

After first erupting with his bilious and noxious lunacy, when he was challenged by a reported, he either backed off like the miserable cowardly pusillanimous uncouth wacko that he is, or he contradicted his earlier statement somewhat when he realized he went way over the line.

From what he says, it appears that he does not want private individuals gay bashing – he wants to make that the prerogative of the government of the State of New York. His earlier comments certainly did not imply a “live and let live” attitude.

Does he mean he is planning yet another way to repurpose the portions of the prison system that are going unused since the repeal of the horribly repressive Rockefeller drug laws? Is he already planning some sort of “final solution” for welfare recipients and gays?

Already, the camps he plans for welfare recipients sound like they will bear the motto, “Work will make you free.” The last time that was used, in the 1930's and 40's, the results for the inmates were not very promising.

Does he plan on rounding up gay teachers, and other LGBT people, and putting us all in camps, too, to be subjected to medical experiments from the quacks from NARTH in an attempt to find a “cure?”

When he was reported as making these statements, Carl was apparently talking to a group of Orthodox Jews – perhaps he forgot that Jewish people were among those rounded up for the camps the last time around – and maybe they have not forgotten. On the other hand, hearing their applause, perhaps they have forgotten - maybe they want it to happen all over again. Perhaps, in Carl's world, at some point he will be coming for them, too, and when he comes for them, who will speak up for them?

I must remind Carl that last week, he told a reporter from the New York Post, ”I’m gonna take you out!” If that wasn’t a threat of bodily harm, perhaps it was a request for a date. Considering Carl’s apparent satyriasis (inability to keep “it” in his pants), perhaps his dysfunctional voracity means he is willing to do it to anything that moves.

Carl Paladino has crossed the line one time too many. He has shown his true colors, and they are not at all pretty.

Carl, there is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional heterosexual. Not all heterosexuals are dysfunctional, but your history shows that you're mentally unfit and not exactly monagamous. God did not create you to be a bigot and a whoremonger.

New York does need any more short-tempered ill-mannered bigots, Carl. You are certainly not an example of an upstanding citizen who merits election to office, and you are a bully - not the sort of example that schoolchildren should emulate. I am standing up to you, bully, and I am not going away. I am a transsexual woman and a lesbian, and I vote. My vote, and the votes of many millions of New Yorkers, are going to make sure that you are going to return to Buffalo with your tail between your legs.

I am calling on you to do something honorable for the second time in your life (the first being when, at the request of your now-deceased drug addict son, you honorably admitted the existence of your concubine and child to your wife) – Do yourself a favor and withdraw from the race, before you embarrass yourself any more, and before you are buried by a landslide at the ballot box.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The HTC EVO Calendar Bug is FIXED!

UPDATE - September 23, 2010 -

Yesterday, the word went around that Sprint was delivering the calendar bug "fix" via an OTA rollout. I got mine today - it is a gradual rollout so it may take some time for everyone to get it.

I can confirm that the calendar bug I reported is fixed - it is now possible to edit an event without losing data.

Added goodies include a lifting of the 30 fps limit on video, and the ability to sync more than one g-mail account.

Having gotten used to the Jorte calendar monthly view, I'm not going to replace the widget 4 x 3 widget - I like the fact that it gives a little info about appointments rather than merely putting up a triangle to indicate something is there . . .

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gary Bauer Sows the Wind, May he Reap the Whirlwind!

Gary Bauer, former president of the notorious “Family” Research Council, appeared at that organization’s recent “Value Voters Summit” to urge Christianist Dominionists, social conservatives, misguided “tea partiers” and the other assembled wingnuts, to get out and vote in November, using verbal imagery evoking the heroic struggle of the passengers of United Flight 93, who fought back against the hijackers, resulting in that plane ending up in a field in Pennsylvania rather than the White House or another building in Washington D.C.

This clip is actually rather inspiring:



But Bauer does not tell his audience that at least one of those “American heroes” on that Flight 93 was a gay man.

Okay, so they can’t handle the truth.

If these wingnuts are going to profane the memory of the martyrs of Flight 93 to push their evil agenda and motivate their colleagues to come out and vote, I perhaps should not stoop to their level.

But I will.

So, after watching the Bauer clip, follow it with a rendition of Melissa Etheridge’s “Tuesday Morning” -





Okay, folks – this song should silence the Bauers and the other wingnuts.

LGBT Americans are Americans, too – and our people can be and have been every bit as heroic as any other Americans.

We deserve the same rights as other Americans.

People like Gary Bauer want to push us down. They are motivating their troops to get out the vote.

I urge readers to share these two clips widely – and let your friends know that people who really love liberty, who really love freedom of religion, who really love American principles, have to get motivated to come out and vote.

Gary Bauer may have sown the wind with his speech – may he reap the whirlwind!

Or else, the misguided Tea Partiers and Christianist Dominionists like Carl Palladino, Christine O’Donnell, and their evil cohorts are going to win in November – and when they come for us, who will speak for us?

New York: Legislative Successes despite Dysfunction

Despite the dysfunction, the failure to pass GENDA and Marriage Equality bills, the never-ending budget process and the bitter aftertaste of last summer’s coup, the 2010 legislative session turned out to be the most successful in a generation.

Here's a taste of all that was accomplished this year (courtesy of NYCLU and ACLU sources):

* The Dignity for All Students Act:
http://ny.aclu.org/site/R?i=VhtcVKZRsql8hteEaNmbRA The Dignity for All Students Act, sponsored by Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell and Senator Tom Duane, prevents bullying in schools through training, mediation and counseling. After more than a decade of stalling with Republicans in control of the Senate, in 2010, the Legislature finally acted to protect our children.

* Family Health Care Decisions Act:
http://ny.aclu.org/site/R?i=5E_6MLedYeHDmiXylvgY0g The Family Health Care Decisions Act, sponsored by Assemblymember Dick Gottfried and Senator Tom Duane, empowers family members, spouses, domestic partners and close friends to make major medical decisions for incapacitated loved ones in the absence of a formal proxy (think: Terri Schiavo). After more than a decade of stalling with Republicans in control of the Senate, in 2010, the Legislature finally passed this bill.

* Stop-and-Frisk Database:
http://ny.aclu.org/site/R?i=OUoDS1lhxEKsHG76m5DaKg The stop-and-frisk bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries and Senator Eric Adams, prohibits the NYPD from keeping an electronic suspect database of the hundreds of thousands of innocent individuals stopped and released by police each year. And as was noted in an excellent Bob Herbert piece
http://ny.aclu.org/site/R?i=dvkuWIx2LoNUHHWiQWnQ3A, this bill “send[s] the message, loud and clear, that whatever pass the Police Department has gotten from city government on these policies, the state is being much more attentive.”

* The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights:
http://ny.aclu.org/site/R?i=zRqDJnVk47OL4SwUW7so_A The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, sponsored by Assemblymember Keith Wright and Senator Diane Savino, makes New York the first state to provide domestic workers basic labor protections. This is something you'd never see Republicans sponsoring!

* The Census Adjustment Act:
http://ny.aclu.org/site/R?i=MXgoH8y1AFdzcF1Nl9R5Yw This bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries and Senator Eric Schneiderman, ends a legislative redistricting practice that counted incarcerated people, who cannot vote, as residents of their prison district rather than their home district, where they will likely return upon release. This practice gave New Yorkers who live near prisons disproportionate representation in Albany, threatening the principle of one person, one vote. (And folks, Carl Palladino, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, would want to keep the disproportionate upstate representation . . . )

* Civil Remedies for Hate Crimes: This is yet another bill that finally passed. This bill, sponsored by Assemblymember RoAnn Destito and Senator Kevin Parker, allows victims of hate crimes to sue and collect monetary damages from their assailants. This would not have been possible with Republicans in control.

* Syringe Access: Sterile syringe access, the most effective method of preventing the spread of HIV among injection drug users, was legalized in New York in the early 1990s. However, possession of syringes remained illegal, deterring drug users from state-licensed syringe exchange programs. The syringe access bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Dick Gottfried and Senator Tom Duane, decriminalizes the lawful possession of syringes. We wouldn't have seen this with Republicans in control - they'd probably try to pass a law making it a crime to possess a condom.

* Funeral/Bereavement Leave for Same-Sex Committed Partners: This bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Senator Velmanette Montgomery, requires employers who offer employees funeral/bereavement leave do so for same-sex couples. Like the Family Health Care Decisions Act, this bill extends a right traditionally associated with marriage to a broader group of people. It's a small consolation, when full marriage equality did not quite make the cut - but if Republicans were in control, we would not have had anything like this get through.

What we need is a larger Democratic majority in the State Senate - it is critically important that Demicrats get energized about this election, all around the state (and nation!)

Yes, the New York State Senate has been dysfunctional - having a bare-minimum 32-30 majority means that all it takes is ONE rogue Democrat, like a Pedro Espada, or a Ruben Diaz, to keep good bills from apssing - and we need at least four or five more Democrats in the Senate to get GENDA and Marriage passed in 2011, and to get state government on track.

The "tea party" people are frustrated about taxes - but Republicans don't really have solutions that work, and they bring an anti-American right wing social agenda to the table.

The fact is that 2010 was the best legislative session in decades, and it is all because of the narrowest of Demiocratic majorities in the State Senate. The future depends on enlarging that majority.

In Westchester County, we have to make sure that Suzi Oppenheimer and Andrea Stewart-Cousins get re-elected, and that we make sure we elect Michael Kaplowitz (and not wingnut demagogue Republican Greg Ball) to the seat being vacated by Senator Leibell. And in White Plains, getting Tom Roach elected to the Assembly is a priority! There is a lot of work to get done before the general election in November.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bryan Fischer's revisionist history of Hitler exposed.

On May 25, 2010 (I know, this is actually relatively “old” news in September) – Bryan Fischer went off the deep end on his radio show, equating Hitler with atheism and homosexuality. The video clip was removed from youtube as a “terms of use” violation, without a specification as to the type of “terms of use” violation. I found it on another source. The use here of this video clip is a legitimate “fair use” – neither Fischer nor his organization is entitled to claim a copyright violation for the use of the video clip:



To the extent that the clip might be deemed to be “offensive” – the usage here is to prove just how offensive to reason and sanity Bryan Fischer really is – in his own words.

At least it’s clear that he loses on the basis of Godwin’s Law, alone, for being the first to bring up “Hitler” or “Nazi.”

Serendipitously, my friend Zoe Brain came up with the refutation for Fischer’s wingnuttery in a recent blog post of hers – apparently in response to an entirely different issue (involving the Pope, the Roman Catholic Church pedophilia coveruup, and Joseph Ratzinger’s membership in the Hitler Youth), but the parts that refute Bryan Fischer are reproduced below;
Zoe’s entire post is here.

Below is the results of Zoe’s research that are relevant to Bryan Fischer’s:

But I thought a former member of the Hitler Youth [JP note: i.e., Benedict XVI] would have recalled some of Der Fuehrer's speeches on the subject. Words such as:


"We have put an end to denial of God and abuse of religion."

-- Radio address October 14, 1933



National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious,
but on the contrary, it stands on the ground of a real Christianity. The
Church's interests cannot fail to coincide with ours alike in our fight against
the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of to-day, in our fight against the
Bolshevist culture, against an atheistic movement, against criminality, and in
our struggle for the consciousness of a community in our national life, for the
conquest of hatred and disunion between the classes, for the conquest of civil
war and unrest, of strife and discord. These are not anti-Christian, these are
Christian principles


-- Koblenz speech, August 26, 1934



Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no
religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious
foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion
must be derived from faith."

That one's in the Vatican Archives. It's part of the Vatican-Nazi
Konkordat of April 26, 1933


As the Nazi State Labour Leader, Reichsarbeitsf├╝hrer Robert Ley proclaimed:

We believe that there is a Lord - God in heaven, who created us, who leads
us, who directs us and who blesses us visibly. And we believe that this Lord—God
sent Adolf Hitler to us, so that Germany become a fundament for all eternity.

-- NS-Schulungsbriefe, Heft 4/1937.


Thanks for the research, Zoe! I don’t think I know anyone who has her level of positive credibility.

Hitler may or may not have been a “practicing” Catholic as an adult, but he was never officially excommunicated, either. Certainly Pius XII did not do a great deal to oppose Nazi policies. I am not entirely sure whether Bryan Fischer might recognize Roman Catholics as Christians (there are some ignorant Christianists who don’t understand that “Christian” is not limited to the “born again” crowd. It’s hard to tell where Fischer might fall on that issue without a smoking gun).

Is there anything Bryan Fischer is not willing to lie about?

The fact is that there were gay men in Hitler's early retinue of brownshirts. But Fischer's characterization is off the mark. Not all brownshirts were gay. Hitler brutally purged them as he gained in power. The Third Reich made a really big thing about "family values" - and like the Duggars and their "quiver full," to increase the number of Christians, "Aryan" German women were expected to make many babies to strengthen the Reich.

See, for example this site for a summary of Nazi ideology. While there was an "elite" Nazi subculture that encouraged a Greek-style Platonic homosexuality (much as one used to, and still can sometimes find in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, such as with Pius XII and his protege Francis Cardinal Spellman, though the *pedophile* problem is not related to this subculture), the German people were expected to have "Strength, passion, lack of hypocrisy, utilitarianism, traditional family values, and devotion to community," and gays who were not part of the elite were persecuted (much as in Christianist circles - where closeted gay but officiallty "anti-homosexual" preachers, when caught, will seek forgiveness and just get more careful not to get caught).

The biggest problem with Fischer's attempt to make it seem that homosexuality is evil because it was associated with Nazi ideology, and that some of Hitler's gay associates were brutal. Many of his straight associates were just as brutal.

Should we condemn all Christianist Dominionists because some of the more virulent and hate-filled ones turn out to be gay? No - Christianist Dominionism is evil in and of itself, regardless of the sexual orientation of the preachers.

Should we condemn Roman Catholicism because there are gays in the hierarchy? No, the Roman Catholic Church does a fairly good job at claiming that morally evil things are good without having to look at the sexual orientation of the members of the hierarchy.

Should we condemn McCarthyism because J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohn were gay?

See this site for some interesting discussion of gay McCarthyites.

McCarthyism was evil regardless of the sexual orientation of the people involved in the witch hunts and purges.

Bryan Fischer is, as usual, lying, and taking things out of context to prove something about gay being evil. All he does is prove, once again, that he has only the most tenuous connection with reality.

A Clarion Call to Democrats - we need a clear, articulate program!

At the recently-concluded “Values Voters Summit” sponsored by the "Family" Research Council, a terribly misnamed Chrstianist hate organization with spurious and at best questionable moral values, the holier than thou attendees voted overwhelmingly that “abortion” was their Number One issue for the upcoming congressional elections.

It seems that despite the Human Rights Campaign's recent bleating about how "gay marriage" might cause the Republicans to take over the House in 2010's mid-term elections, the Christianist Right Wing has made it clear that “abortion” will be one of their litmus tests this year. I am sure that some of them will be railing about “gay marriage” and “gay rights” anyway, it is noted that “gay” issues did not make the top five. At least one of them, Delaware Republican US Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, seems to think that masturbation should be outlawed, too.

Jerry Pournelle, a great science fiction writer (with and without his collaborator Larry Niven), has advised these folks to put abortion on the back burner – as we will see below, Jerry is taking the position that abortion should be a “states’ rights” issue, to try to keep social conservatives, tea partiers, neo-cons and others in the Republican tent.

Jerry makes no bones about his support and sympathy for Tea Party types at his Chaos Manor blogspace, or rather personal journal. He does want to make sure that all sorts of “conservatives” stick together and vote Republican this November.
See:

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/index.html

BTW, Jerry does have a fairly legitimate claim to being a blogger before there was ever such a thing – he may be, in a way, the *original* blogger.

He says:

“I can make some claim to this being The Original Blog and Daybook. I certainly started keeping a day book well before most, and long before the term "blog" or Web Log was invented. BIX, the Byte information exchange, preceded the Web by a lot, and I also had a daily journal on GE Genie. All that was long before the World Wide Web.”

I have been following him, and Chaos Manor, on and off, in places like Byte magazine and elsewhere since the 1980’s, and I remember when he wrote about the Atari ST (I had several, years ago, including the 25 pound “portable” Stacy model – the last of which I still have stored in a closet).

I’ve seen Jerry, a mostly “hard science” SF writer, make a lot of sense on science issues, including his advocacy for solar power satellites (SPS) as a cure for the earth’s energy needs and a way out of reliance on fossil fuels.

With that as prologue, I don’t see eye to eye with Jerry on everything.

Many of the people I know, know I am a Democrat since at least 1978 when I first decided on a party affiliation after being "independent" for a number of years – and some know that when I was in college, I was in the libertarian wing of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), a conservative organization for students founded by William Buckley.

One of my high school history teachers (Mr. Palmer) had an influence on my political development, providing some reading material from de Tocqueville (he said the name was supposed to be pronounced “Tuckwell”), and I cut my teeth on Barry Goldwater’s “The Conscience of a Conservative.”

Still, over the years I moderated – especially after reading the Bettman Archive’s picture book, “The Good Old Days – They Were Terrible.”

I found myself a moderate libertarian – and I have learned that the social conservatives and neo-cons who run the Republican Party have no room for moderate libertarianism. (My high school and college friend, Cliff Thies, has stayed the course, and is a leading intellectual light for the more reasonable tiny minority of Republican libertarians.)

In this week’s Chaos Manor meanderings,

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/2010/Q3/view640.html

Jerry made a pronouncement on the topic of abortion. In context, he was discussing issues he thought should not be a part of the national conversation, taking a rather non-libertarian “states’ rights” tack on the issue. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote:

“A politically pure conservative party can't get a national consensus on many important issues. Some of us don't want one on many issues. Subsidiarity is in my judgment one of the important principles of conservatism. An example is abortion. The abortion issue divides many: how can you let those people in Missouri regulate something as fundamental as the right for a woman to choose, and thus force her to have a baby against her will? How dare you allow those people in California to permit the slaughter of the innocents and murder the unborn? And those arguments are important -- but not at the Federal level, because Congress has not the power to forbid or enable abortion except in the District of Columbia and in military hospitals. However strongly you or I may feel about the issue, what they do in Missouri or Maryland or Louisiana is not our business unless we live there.”


In my opinion, Jerry misses or ignores the libertarian issue in his quest for "unity" – first, calling it “abortion” is a misnomer and an oversimplification – abortion is only one of a pregnant woman’s choices. (A Catholic ad campaign for the past several decades encourages women to “Choose Life!” The Christianist Right wing wants to make sure that the legal corollary is “Or Else!”)

The issue is women’s reproductive rights. This is a civil rights issue for women. It is an individual rights issue – neither technically federal or state in nature – but the only thing shat should be legislatively regulated at whichever level is and should be for the purpose of insuring reasonable access to safe treatment facilities.

The 10th Amendment is the one cited by “states’rights” advocates like Jerry – it states:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”


What “states’ rights” advocates don’t understand, is that the last clause means, quite clearly, that the people do not lay down their individual inalienable and constitutional civil rights when they find themselves off a military reservation or outside the District of Columbia.

For example, Amendment 1 guarantees individuals a right to freedom of religious expression, and prohibits Congress from establishing a religion. Some states’ rights conservatives believe that the state governments should, or do, have the right to establish a religion – ignoring the right reserved to the people to have freedom of religious expression.

Similarly, involuntary servitude was abolished by the 13th amendment.

The amendment reads:

“1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”



If a law requires a pregnant woman to remain pregnant, that is imposing on her a condition of involuntary servitude, to either the state, or to the man who provided the spermatozoon responsible for the condition.

Patriarchal religious zealots whose primary aim is the subjugation of women and the subordination of the rights of a living human being, a legal person from the time of her birth and breath, to those of a potential human being that is under construction.

As I have pointed out recently, some state legislatures have taken the dangerous step of legislating the personhood of potential human beings under construction. At least one (Utah) has taken steps to criminalize pregnant women who might in some way deliberately or negligently harm the potential person under construction inside her body. Someone in Utah may have read the 13th Amendment, and has taken steps to criminalize pregnancy issues. Suspect a pregnant woman of negligence, and a kangaroo court can convict her and sentence her to live under the watchful eye of the pregnancy warden in a prison ward, under constant medical supervision, and perhps even chained to a bed for the duration.

Social Conservatives, driven by the Christianist (anti)Family organizations loke FRC, are the worst possible allies for responsible libertarians. Let’s paraphrase a little Rogers & Hammerstein here:

You’ve got to be taught
to hate the gays
and people who pray
in different ways
and fear the transgender
for all of your days
You've got to be carefully taught.

The Christianist Right
are mindless sheeple
who teach their own children
to flock to the steeple
and hate on all sorts
of different people
They've all been so carefully taught.


While such people might be considered populist in some parts of the country (it is scary how many Americans care little for individual rights other than their own), they should never be allowed to use the power of the ballot box to impose their so-called “morality” on people who live by better and higher or other moral principles. The principles on which the nation was founded take precedence over religious-based prejudice from people who don’t understand their own sacred scriptures.

Jerry likes to mention Alexis de Tocqueville – so Jerry is likely to be familiar with the idea of the “tyranny of the majority.” The majority should not be allowed to trammel on individual civil rights, particularly when the rights trammeled upon are being denied only to one class of people, which includes women and minorities.

Jerry either ignores or does not realize that the 10th Amendment reserves individual liberties to the individuals, not to the states – and that pregnancy, a condition of servitude, cannot be made an obligation by the states, or even by a popular referendum – only the congress can enact legislation relating to conditions of servitude, and only within the scope of prohibiting involuntary servitude except as part of the penalty for a crime.

(Of course, Jerry and I can point out his colleague Larry Niven’s short story that involves a recidivist traffic offender attempting to escape from an organ-recovery process that would result in his effective execution, as an example of a dystopian state-gone-wild – such an approach would be a reduction ad absurdum as ridiculous as extending legal personhood to the fertilized ovum.) We need to keep government away from regulating women's bodies.

For Jerry and Republican libertarians, the answer just might be to turn to the Democrats, who are not tied down to anti-libertarian social conservatives and Christianist fundamentalists – and I would look for their support, and those of “tea party” types who are frustrated with the status quo – but to get that support, the Democratic leadership has to articulate a clearly and simply stated legislative program that can attract the frustrated tea partiers away from the false siren call of the demagogues of the neo-con and religious right wing.

So far, the Democratic leadership has failed to work out such a program.

If they want to have any positive impact at all on the results of the November 2010 election, they have to do this. Up until now, they have been too paralyzed by the “big tent” to offend the blue dogs in their midst, who by throwing themselves in with Republicans in many cases made it impossible for Congress to get a lot accomplished the past two years.

The problem is not that there is a Democratic majority in the House, the problem is that, between the Republicans and the 40 or so socially-conservative blue dog Democrats, the House has held the people hostage the past couple of years, in addition to the previous eight.

The solution is not to put the Republicans who caused the whole economic mess between 2000 and 2006 (and even to the present day, with their blue-dog cohorts) back into power, even with a leavening from the ultra-right wing nut cases like Christine O’Donnell.

No.

The apparently counterintuitive solution is to elect more Democrats, and I mean real Democrats, not more useless blue dog DINO Democrats.

In 1994, Republican Newt Gingrich engineered a Republican takeover of Congress with his “Contract With America” which enunciated a legislative program that he and hs cohorts proceeded to enact over the following several years.

No one, on either side, has emulated Newt this election season - but the Republicans have found a way to tap into “Tea Party” frustrations. (for those who don't know, “TEA” stands for “Taxed Enough Already.”)

This is, of course, an issue – but we run smack up against the libertarian principle of TANSTAAFL (“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”)

Tea Partiers mostly want a free lunch. No one can really provide what they want.
I recently found a place for the Democratic leadership to start – it’s here:

http://www.democraticfreedomcaucus.org/dfc-platform/

It is the platform of the Democratic Freedom Caucus – a group of libertarian Democrats.

People have to try to remember that Thomas Jefferson, one of the architects of our nation, was a Democrat, a libertarian, as well as a Unitarian.

Until just the other day, I did not realize that there were organized Democratic libertarians – since most of the libertarians I know are either Libertarian Party or Republicans, I did not realize there is a libertarian movement growing within the Democratic party.

If we are to save our Republic from the fascists who want to turn it into a police state, we have to hold off the social conservatives and neo-cons. Otherwise there may be little hope for the future of the nation, which is still reeling from eight years of abuse by George W. Bush and his Republican regime. Two years of Barack Obama, even with an uncooperative Congress that is mostly still in the hands of Republicans and DINO blue dog Democrats, has not been enough time to heal.

Does Jerry seriously want to see the election to the US Senate of a Christine O’Donnell who wants to make masturbation a crime, just because she got the party nomination? It’s better to make no endorsement at all, or better, maybe those of us who have a moderate libertarianism in our political philosophies ought to start supporting each other.

Side note to Rand Paul – drop the libertarian cover for the bigotry, it’s not funny, and it makes real libertarians look bad.

Monday, September 6, 2010

WND's Joseph Farah: Clueless about marriage equality

I was visiting the highly regarded Pam’s House Blend blog Sunday morning, and found an interesting article of Pam’s, commenting on a column over at WorldNutDaily (remember, they can’t seem to spell “Nut” which somehow comes out as “Net,” by the “founder, editor and CEO” there, the noted slacker Joseph Farah, entitled “Conservative Surrender on Same-Sex Marriage?"

After reading Pam’s column exposing Farah’s cluelessness, I thought it might be worthwhile and fun to join in the pile-on.

Pam concludes her column by giving us four possibilities as to why conservatives are not listening to people like Joe Farah any more – the last possibility:


“4) simply tired and offended by the political bedroom-peeping proclivities of people like Farah dressed up as moral righteousness.”

I believe that last item is the most likely reason real conservatives are starting to abandon their bigoted Christianist "social conservative" associates, as society becomes increasingly aware that the Christianists are not really Christians, they are bigots who wrap themselves in a cloak of Christian-looking doctrine.

While Pam does not directly address the “Christianist” arguments beyond pointing them out and indicating that they are irrelevant, I would like to tear that fig leaf from Joe Farah, and expose the ugly truth beneath.

But first, let’s deal with the idea that Farah’s “traitors” are somehow not *real* conservatives. It's really Joe who isn't conservative - and apparently he knows that.

I’d like to turn the “conservative” part of the explanation to Ted Olson, whose credentials as a real conservative are unsullied, and whose words are authentic. The following quotes from Ted Olson are all excerpted from a transcript of his amazing FOX News interview about the recent California federal district court marriage case decision, which is available online at:

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-news-sunday/transcript/ted-olson-debate-over-judicial-activism-and-same-sex-marriage

Farah cites an unnamed “homosexual activist blog” to point out :

“"But isn't it something how the issue of marriage equality is slowly starting to tear at the GOP. What a difference a few years make. In 2004, there was nary a Republican that could get behind the issue of marriage equality without looking like a Benedict Arnold. And now? The trend is shifting big time." "


And to name names, in addition to Anne Coulter:

"Ted Olson, Margaret Hoover, Meghan McCain, Glenn Beck, Laura Bush, Steve
Schmidt, Cindy McCain, Charlie Baker, Elisabeth Hasselbeck ... it's like each
day a new high-profile conservative jumps on the marriage equality bandwagon."


Af course, that astute blogger was in all probablility Pam Spaulding – see her blog essays at:

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/17154/game-over-man-antigay-forces-know-the-marriage-war-is-over-as-conservatives-toss-them-overboard

and

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/17143/mike-signorile-interviews-wnds-farah-on-coulters-betrayal-my-eyes-have-been-opened

and

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/17111/worldnetdailys-farah-in-complete-meltdown-as-highprofile-conservatives-embrace-the-homos


as examples of Pam’s astute analysis of Farah’s slackitude..

Farah whines:


“The people vote and express their will in overwhelming numbers to affirm
something as basic as traditional marriage between one man and one woman.”


But Ted Olson has already answered with the *real* conservative view about the clash between what Alexis de Tocqueville characterized as “the tyranny of the majority” and the bedrock conservative American value of individual rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment:

“If we didn't have a separation of powers, if we didn't have a Bill of Rights, then 7 million Californians could take away your rights, or my rights or the rights of these citizens in California. But we do have a Bill of Rights, and it's intended to protect us. The 14th Amendment was the result that -- the 14th Amendment that guarantees due process and equal protection to all citizens, to all persons, was the result of a civil war intended to enforce the promise of our Constitution that all men and women are created equal.”


Farah rants:

“Judges assail the process and explain that only bigotry could explain their votes. Election results are overturned.”


On this, and the issue of whether the California marriage decision involved “judicial activism” (a popular right wing mantra), here is what Olson has to say:

“. . . since 1888 the United States Supreme Court has 14 times decided and articulated that the right to marriage is a fundamental right. We're not talking about a new right here.

We're talking about whether a fundamental right, something that the Supreme Court has characterized as the most fundamental relationship we have in this country, can be deprived of certain individuals because of the color of their skin or because of their sexual orientation.

We do not permit discrimination, inequality. That's why we have a 14th Amendment that guarantees equal rights to all citizens. It's not judicial activism when judges do what the Constitution requires them to do, and they follow the precedent of previousdecisions of the Supreme Court.”



Ted Olsen pointed out:

“. . . most people use the term "judicial activism" to explain decisions that they don't like.”

“And what the court decided here -- the Supreme Court, as I said, of the United States has 14 times decided that the fundamental right to marry is an important constitutional right. The judge applied that right, that existing right, that fully determined and repeatedly determined constitutional right, to some tens of thousands of citizens in California who are being harmed by discrimination. That is not judicial activism. That is judicial responsibility. ”


Olson further notes:

“Yes, it's encouraging that many states are moving towards equality on the basis of sexual orientation, and I am very, very pleased about that, because it is extraordinarily damaging to our citizens, our family members, our brothers, our sisters, our co- workers and our neighbors when they are labeled second-class citizens.”


Farah continues with his pathetic moans:

“The conservative movement is nearing surrender on the issue – even while public opinion stands firmly committed against same-sex marriage.“


Some of Olson’s bedrock conservatism comes out in this quote that works to skewer Farah's assertion:

“When the state of California, as it did in this case, enshrined in its constitution a separate status for certain of its citizens, it did immeasurable harm. We can't wait for the voters to decide that that immeasurable harm that is unconstitutional must finally be eliminated.

I applaud the fact that things are changing, and I think this case is helping open people's eyes to the damage done by discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”



Farah sobs:

“If we lose the battle over marriage, I'm not sure there's much left to preserve. Marriage is literally the building block of our civilization. Destroy it and you destroy the foundation."


Olson’s answer to this one is the cincher, the bottom line – what *real* conservatives think (addressing the FOX interviewer):

“Chris, we believe that a conservative value is stable relationships and a stable community and loving individuals coming together and forming a basis that is a building block of our society, which includes marriage. We believe that that is a conservative value.

We also believe that it's an important conservative value to sustain the rights of liberty of our citizens and to eliminate discrimination on invidious bases, whether it's race, or sex or sexual orientation. It should be a liberal and a conservative value. It is a fundamental American value. All men and all women are created equal under the law. ”


I want to repeat the principle:

“It should be a liberal and a conservative value. It is a fundamental American value. All men and all women are created equal under the law.”


Now, look at pathetic Joe Farah again. Farah even quotes from another conservative blogger – one who actually “gets” the point:

“ “In time, gay people will be married, extending the valuable social institution of marriage to more people," writes blogger Jon Henke of TheNextRight.com. "In time, conservatives will argue that the positive impact that marriage has on the gay community is further evidence of the importance of the institution of marriage."”


If you want to read Jon Henke’s long-standing position on marriage equality, he makes a compelling case in his June 10, 2006 (that’s right, 2006) blog at Quando.net – “The Libertarian Case for Gay Marriage

Farah has had the opportunity to read what real conservatives other than Ted Olson are saying and writing, and he is still clueless!

Farah seems to have a kind of psychotic belief not based in anything but his fantasy world, that there are people out there who are looking to destroy “traditional marriage.”

This fantasy argument has been trotted out every time that there has been legal change in the understanding of marriage, beginning with the abansonment of the common law of “coverture” that reduced women to virtual chattel status under the control of their husbands.

It was raised in New York by the social conservatives of the 1830's - 1850;s, who railed against the adoption of the two “Married Women’s Property Acts” of 1848 and 1860. They even used bible passages that indicate that "wives should be obedient to their husbands" in support of continuing to oppress women.

The sort of marriage that Joe Farah wants to “preserve” was changed long ago, and for the better. If marriage laws are made completely gender-neutral, this will have zero adverse impact on marriages between a man and a woman. They will still be permitted.

It is not, as Farah would have us believe, a matter of requiring heterosexual couples to divorce and each take on a same sex spouse – which is the only way “traditional marriage” would be “destroyed” by some kind of “same-sex” marriage. The fact is, that making marriage laws fully gender neutral will not destroy anything, but will strengthen marriage, just as both Ted Olson, Jon Henke, and numerous others have pointed out.

The fact is that real conservatives are finally waking up to the fact that they can’t reconcile real conservative principles favoring individual liberty over government coercion with the bigotry pandered by “social conservatives” whose beliefs are rooted in their hatred of people who are different, lightly wrapped in a veil of “Christian” religious beliefs.

For a number of years, real conservatives have felt they had to put up with Christianist social conservative allies, because they needed their help to get enough votes to get elected. Ronald Reagan gave the Christianist social conservatves lip service. Unfortunately for real conservatives, George W. Bush, who is himself a Christianist, gave the Christianists a lot of what they wanted. This has scared the real conservatives.

The real conservatives have awakened to realize that the Christianist "social" conservatives are dragging them down, rather than lifting them up – and no one wants to drown in the muck and mire of bigotry and prejudice.

So let’s look at Christian beliefs – it’s time to tear that fig leaf from Farah’s Christianist cloaking. Farah is not really a Christian, he is a Christianist, because he consistently misunderstands and misinterprets the Bible as a justification for un-American discriminatory attitudes against people who are different from the majority. Real conservatives can also be real Christians. (For that matter, real liberals can also be real Christians!)


Farah sets us up with his fantasies about the nature of marriage:

“I am ashamed of these people who should know better flirting with the destruction of a 6,000-year-old, God-created institution with no regard for the unforeseen and unimaginable consequences.”


The last time I checked, neither Joe Farah nor Joe Ratzinger was qualified to speak the mind of God to anyone – and their interpretations and understandings of God and religion are not binding on the American People or on the Constitution and Laws of the United States and the several states.

As I have pointed out with the assistance of Pam Spaulding, Ted Olson and Jon Henke, no one is destroying Farah’s version of a “6,000-year-old, God-created institution.” On the day after marriage equality became the law in Massachuusetts, churches all over that state were still celebrating traditional heterosexual marriages. Nothing was changed about those marriages! The same situation is true of the other states and jurisdictions in which marriage equality is recognized – the freedom of those Christians and Christianists and other faiths who will only sanctify, sacramentalize, or bless heterosexual marriages, to continue to do so, is still maintained. The freedom of those Christian and other faiths that will sanctify, sacramentalize, or bless marriages on a gender neutral basis is no longer suppressed in those states and jurisdictions.

Farah goes on to quote scripture:

“If there is a subject upon which the Bible is crystal clear – from beginning to end – it is homosexuality. Another subject about which no one can misinterpret what the Bible says is marriage. Let's examine the text:
• Leviticus 18:22 (KJV): "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."
• Romans 1:22-27: "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet." ”


Let us examine the contexts. The Leviticus quote at worst may refer to one particular kind of sexual activity that may be engaged by gay men – it does not refer to all different ways in which gay men can sexually satisfy each other. But how does Joe Farah square this with the marriage of David and Jonathan, clearly presented in 1 Samuel 18?

The fact is that the Leviticus quote is more accurately limited to forcible sodomy – the kind of inhospitable treatment of strangers envisioned by the Men of Sodom. The misogyny can also be recognized – to the Men of Sodom as well as to the patriarchal Israelites, treating another man as a sex object for forcible carnal use was to lie with him “as with a woman.”

The Romans quote is the only one that is ever used by Christianists against lesbians, who also have the example of the Book of Ruth to guide them.

Farah does not look at the context of Romans 1 – which involves heterosexual people who were engaging in sex acts against their natures under the influence of the wine administered as part of the orgiastic practices of some Greco-roman religious traditions of the times, and particularly the Dionysian (Bacchic) practices. The key language in the version quoted by Farah is “natural use.” For heterosexual people, it is as unnatural to engage in same-sex sexual activity as it is unnatural for homosexual people to engage in opposite-sex sexual activity.

So clearly, Farah’s Christianity is suspect – though it is perfectly all right for him to maintain his version of the interpretation of scripture, it is wrong for him to claim that it is the only interpretation. Indeed, his interpretation flies in the face of American constitutional principles, and while he may be protected in his own freedom of religious expression, he is on weak ground when he insists that his religious freedom should trump everyone else’s, particularly outside his church.

Joe blathers on, first speaking that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law (and apparently this must include 1 Samuel 18), and he continues:

“In Matthew 19:4-6, it says: "And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? ”

But Jesus says exactly nothing about those instances in which a man may leave his parents and cleave unto another man, or where a woman may leave her parents and cleave unto another woman. This may not have happened in the culture of the time, though there is evidence that same-sex relationships were blessed in the early Church.

The initial Creation of Adam as a woman-man (in God’s image and likeness) and the subsequent split of Adam into Adam and Eve, is not a literal story, it’s an allegory, an allegory on the same level as the similar story from Plato’s Symposium, as related by the great playwright Aristophanes, in which he similarly explains the creation and splitting in such a way as to explain the variety of sexual orientations among humans – certainly a part of human nature, though one that was somewhat simplified in the patriarchal bible story. I would suggest that Aristophanes is at least as good a source of ancient mythology as the Bible.

Farah states:

“Either you believe the Bible or you don't.”

Apparently, Farah does not understand that there are different interpretations and understandings on what the Bible means – if we took the whole thing literally, there are numerous contradictions and some pretty bad aspects to it that would make it totally useless as a source for religious or moral guidance.

The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights are not bible-based.

Farah points out :

“But followers of Jesus cannot find some happy medium where they can please God and please the world. Nobody can. I choose obedience.“


In this case, that is fine – and biblical obedience clearly implies that Joe Farah should remove himself from the Modern world to some monastery where he can remain silent, pray, raise grain and make bread, and await the return of Jesus.

In the meantime, Joe should read 1 Corinthians 6:1-8:

1 Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?

2 Or know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world is judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more, things that pertain to this life?

4 If then ye have to judge things pertaining to this life, do ye set them to judge who are of no account in the church?

5 I say this to move you to shame. What, cannot there be found among you one wise man who shall be able to decide between his brethren,

6 but brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

7 Nay, already it is altogether a defect in you, that ye have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded?

8 Nay, but ye yourselves do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.


Of course, this passage continues:

9 Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men,

10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

11 And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

12 All things are lawful for me; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any.

13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall bring to nought both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body:

14 and God both raised the Lord, and will raise up as through his power.

15 Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? shall I then take away the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? God forbid.

16 Or know ye not that he that is joined to a harlot is one body? for, The twain, saith he, shall become one flesh.

17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

19 Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own;

20 for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.


I point the second half of the chapter out because there are those who will use verses 9, 19 and 20 to criticize transsexual people who seek the appropriate medical and surgical treatment, despite the clear message in Isaiah 56, Mathew 19:12 and Acts 8 that eunuchs (a term that includes transgender, transsexual and intersex people) are loved by God. Part of the problem has to do with relying on English translations rather than looking to the original languages - and while more modern translations might further obscure the meaning, even the more literal translations, such as the American Standard Version (ASV) used here, there are ossues in the understanding of the words.

Still, Joe Farah likes to pick and choose his bible verses, anyway.

In response to that, I will reproduce here, and commend you to the Snopes.com investigative commentary on it, a 2004 version of a ca. 2000 “Letter to Doctor Laura” that deals with a number of “literal” Bible teachings:
http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/drlaura.asp

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination ... End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev.1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness (Lev.15: 19-24). The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan,


I would like to challenge Joe Farah to address the issues posed in the “Letter to Doctor Laura” – if his version of Christianity, in which “Either you believe the Bible or you don’t” in a literal manner, without taking anything else into consideration. Is correct, he must have some answer to these questions.

But then, if Joe wants to be a real conservative, he has to understand that American conservatism, like American liberalism, is not compatible with his version of Christianity. He has a choice – to either be “obedient to” (or rather, to agree with!) conservative American principles, or to be “obedient to” his crackpot version of what he thinks God wants. He has chosen his religious beliefs. So why hasn’t he retreated from the modern world? He doesn’t have to drink any Kool-Aid to accelerate his personal Rapture – a monastery of some kind, where he can withdraw from the secular world, would be good enough to keep him on the “straight” and narrow. It does not have to be a monastery that requires celibacy – if Joe can’t control his sexual urges, the Bible allows him to get married (see 1 Corinthians 7:8-9) – I am sure there must be some sort of religious center that would allow him to practice marital relations while contemplating and praying, and keeping out of American secular affairs that are inconsistent with his beliefs.

On the other hand, if Joe really does not want the early “Kool-Aid” Rapture, or life in a monastery, maybe he can try to understand the idea of the First Amendment as it relates to both the establishment and free exercise of religion.

He might want to carefully read that 2006 Jon Henke essay about marriage, if he sincerely wants to get a clue.

Maybe he might find a way to reconcile his religious beliefs with the principles of American liberty and justice. If he wishes to maintain his intolerance, there’s always the monastery, or the Kool-Aid, or even just leaving us alone. Unfortunately, it does not seem likely that he will ever see the light of reason and Truth.

Joe wrote:

“Someone needs to hold the celebrities accountable. Someone needs to offer correction.”

Joe Farah, celebrity slacker, consider yourself corrected. And if you show up on September 17th to debate GOProud’s board chair Chris Barron (reported later yesterday at Pam’s House Blend) , expect to be thoroughly exposed as the intolerant bigot you are. As a former moderate libertarian member of the late William Buckley’s Young Americans for Freedom (when I was in college). I will be rooting for Chris. I may be a proud progressive Democrat these days, but I still have a moderate libertarian philosophy (one that is well removed from the near-anarchy of radical libertarianism) underlying what everyone seems to see as a liberal point of view.