Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Their last name isn't even spelled the same!

Well, we knew that Fox can't distinguish between two black people, and now we find out that they can't even distinguish between two people with similar last names.

When discussing that Clinton has challenged Obama to what she styled a "Lincoln/Douglas" debate, Fox flashed an image on the screen to illustrate (in a Lord Privy Seal kinda manner). On the right-hand side was Abraham Lincoln. On the left-hand side was... Frederick Douglass.

Granted, it's hard to tell Stephen Douglas and Frederick Douglass apart. One was an ardent supporter of slavery who claimed that blacks were inferior to whites and that the Declaration of Independence's statement "all men are created equal" did not apply to them, whereas the other was a leading abolitionist and one-time vice-presidential candidate for the Equal Rights Party. But they're both dead.

Via This Modern World, which has a screen capture if you don't want to watch the video clip at Huffington Post.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Just as creationists have attempted to redefine science and evolution to mean "creationism", so now we have anti-choice politicians redefining what "consent" means:
Missouri doctors would be forced to give women seeking an abortion pertinent information 24 hours before the procedure if a bill that passed through the state House on Monday also gains Senate approval.

The bill also would require doctors to offer a woman the opportunity to view an ultrasound of the fetus and feel the fetus' heartbeat without cost to her. In addition, it would make it a crime to coerce a woman into having an abortion and would steepen criminal penalties for any criminal conduct associated with the coercion of an abortion.

Coercing women not to get an abortion, however, is not only perfectly fine but the raison d'être of this bill. At least this one doesn't force women to pay for the ultrasound themselves, unlike some others. The article also says later that the woman has the option of refusing the information, although that doesn't justify this.
Rep. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, said he proposed the bill to allow for a more informed decision-making process regarding abortion. Onder said he thinks the bill would "give the state one of the stronger informed consent laws in the country."

Because all those stupid sluts who want an abortion just have no idea what they're doing, right? They don't know that there's an embryo inside them until you show them an ultrasound of it.

Now, here's where the redefining consent comes in--if you look at the text of the bill, they say that abortions can only be performed if the woman has given her "voluntary and informed consent, given freely and without coercion." Sure, but then they proceed to redefine what that means, so that "consent given freely and without coercion" means "saying yes even after being coerced not to":
Consent to an abortion is voluntary and informed and given freely and without coercion, if and only if, at least twenty-four hours prior to the abortion:

There follows a long list of requirements, including such banalities as this:
(2) The licensed physician who is to perform or induce the abortion or a qualified professional has presented the woman, in person, printed materials provided by the department or an informational video provided by the department, which describes the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at two-week gestational increments from conception to full term, including color photographs or images of the developing unborn child at two-week gestational increments. Such descriptions shall include information about brain and heart functions, the presence of external members and internal organs during the applicable stages of development and information on when the unborn child is viable;

You know, for a group that generally foams at the mouth about the need to protect the sanctity of the dictionary when it comes to preventing gays from marrying, conservatives seem pretty willing to rob other words of any meaning whatsoever.

Via I Blame the Patriarchy.

Behold, the next Uri Geller!

Via the JREF.

Looks like we'll have to change the rules for Nevinyrral's Disk

Well. Larry Niven is apparently bugfuck insane.
Now a fixture at Department of Homeland Security science and technology conferences, SIGMA is a loosely affiliated group of science fiction writers who are offering pro bono advice to anyone in government who want their thoughts on how to protect the nation.

The group has the ear of Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Jay Cohen, head of the science and technology directorate, who has said he likes their unconventional thinking. Members of the group recently offered a rambling, sometimes strident string of ideas at a panel discussion promoting the group at the DHS science and technology conference.


Niven said a good way to help hospitals stem financial losses is to spread rumors in Spanish within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs for transplants.

"The problem [of hospitals going broke] is hugely exaggerated by illegal aliens who aren't going to pay for anything anyway," Niven said.

Let's not forget that his fears are completely unfounded--undocumented immigrants don't receive a disproportionate amount of health care, and they do pay taxes into the system. But also, perhaps Niven is completely unaware that there are Spanish-speaking citizens of the U.S. who might also hear about these rumors? Wait, no. To Niven and his ilk, that's the whole point; despite directing all their rants towards "illegal aliens", they really mean that they just don't want any Latinos in the country at all.

And of course he's saying that he wants us to spread rumors that we're killing patients in order to drive away Latinos so that they'll die somewhere else. In short, he wants to kill Latinos without actually doing anything--although he might take up the direct approach later if the indirect way of killing them isn't effective enough.

What does any of this have to do with protecting the nation anyways? Oh no, we must kill off the sick and elderly before they topple our military and take over the Pentagon!

Via Sadly, No!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Your ironic statement of the year

Today is Confederate Memorial Day, commemorating the surrender of General Joseph Johnston to General William Sherman. Mostly it's an occasion to remember the people who died in the Civil War, which is fine.

Up to a point:
"That's important because we are where we are today. We have the rights and freedoms that we do because our ancestors were willing to stand up and fight for what they thought was correct, and for the right of us to decide our own futures," said Adele Whitlock, president of the Robert E. Lee chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Yes, that's right. The Confederacy was fighting for rights, freedoms, and the right to decide your futures. Specifically, the right to keep slaves, the freedom to do so without Northerners butting in, and the right to decide not only your future, but also the future of four million black people, who couldn't be trusted to do that for themselves.

I know that "they died to give us freedom" is the knee-jerk eulogy for any deceased soldier, but can't these people at least think about it for a second first?

A conservative bigot who hates Arabs? Shock!

The New York Times has a fairly lengthy article up today that highlights the disgusting religious bigotry of the conservative movement after 9/11. Oh, of course they don't phrase it that way, and in fact rely on the hate-mongers as putrid "balance" in this story of how a bunch of bigots forced a woman out of her job as principal of an Arabic school that she founded. The reason they did so is because, in their vapid and xenophobic minds, anyone who would learn Arabic is an Arab, who is a Muslim, who is a terrorist (and never you mind that the school was named after a Lebanese Christian pacifist).
In newspaper articles and Internet postings, on television and talk radio, Ms. Almontaser was branded a "radical," a "jihadist" and a "9/11 denier." She stood accused of harboring unpatriotic leanings and of secretly planning to proselytize her students. Despite Ms. Almontaser's longstanding reputation as a Muslim moderate, her critics quickly succeeded in recasting her image.

The conflict tapped into a well of post-9/11 anxieties. But Ms. Almontaser's downfall was not merely the result of a spontaneous outcry by concerned parents and neighborhood activists. It was also the work of a growing and organized movement to stop Muslim citizens who are seeking an expanded role in American public life. The fight against the school, participants in the effort say, was only an early skirmish in a broader, national struggle.

"It's a battle that's really just begun," said Daniel Pipes, who directs a conservative research group, the Middle East Forum, and helped lead the charge against Ms. Almontaser and the school.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, critics of radical Islam focused largely on terrorism, scrutinizing Muslim-American charities or asserting links between Muslim organizations and violent groups like Hamas. But as the authorities have stepped up the war on terror, those critics have shifted their gaze to a new frontier, what they describe as law-abiding Muslim-Americans who are imposing their religious values in the public domain.

It's not enough to go after terrorists, now they have to harass and intimidate perfectly law-abiding Muslims who just want to practice freedom of religion. It's like they think that's enshrined in the supreme law of the land, or something!
Mr. Pipes and others reel off a list of examples: Muslim cabdrivers in Minneapolis who have refused to take passengers carrying liquor; municipal pools and a gym at Harvard that have adopted female-only hours to accommodate Muslim women; candidates for office who are suspected of supporting political Islam; and banks that are offering financial products compliant with sharia, the Islamic code of law.

Muslim cabdrivers who refuse to take passengers carrying liquor... well, I agree that's stupid--pretty much as stupid as saying a pharmacist can refuse to give out birth control because they're Christian. But I suspect Pipes wouldn't agree. Nor would he give a damn about political candidates who support political Christians, like Dobson or Hagee, nor would he care if an institution went out of its way to accommodate Christians. He also probably wouldn't recognize that it is due to Christians demanding accommodations for their religion that set the precedent that allows Muslims to do so, as well. But that's because he's a misanthropic twit.
Muslim leaders, academics and others see the drive against the school as the latest in a series of discriminatory attacks intended to distort the truth and play on Americans' fear of terrorism. They say the campaign is also part of a wider effort to silence critics of Washington's policy on Israel and the Middle East.

"This is a political, ideological agenda," said John Esposito, a professor of international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University who has been a focus of Mr. Pipes's scrutiny. "It's an agenda to paint Islam, not just extremists, as a major problem."

That portrait, Muslim and Arab advocates contend, is rife with a bias that would never be tolerated were it directed at other ethnic or religious groups. And if Ms. Almontaser's story is any indication, they say, the message of her critics wields great power.

Of course. Because these people don't see any difference between "Islam" and "extremists".

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another update

This post at Pam's House Blend has a first-hand account of the rallies outside Mount Si High School--the poster was with the supporters of the gay students, of course. The post mostly just describes what their actions were throughout the day (silent support, along with flag-waving and sign-holding), but she mentioned some of how Hutcherson's mob was behaving, which just confirms my fears.
There were protesters yelling at students--yes, you heard that right--grown adults yelling intimidations at children. There were insulting and offensive signs, and political messages that probably many of the students either didn't care about or didn't even understand.

I don't have much to add to that... I mean, adults are out there yelling at high school students because the kids have ideas that the adults don't like. I suppose I shouldn't be all that surprised, though--these are Christians, after all. Their theology is based on intimidating people into doing what they say.

(By the way, one of commenters there has a link to a YouTube video of the protests. I particularly like the sign one person had that said "Is Hutcherson Another Ted Haggard & Larry Craig?" And of course we have Hutcherson himself babbling that "They can change, so it's a choice." Sure, Ken--so howsabout you change and be gay so that everyone will know it's possible?)

I suspect the latter is true

Uh, wow. That's some... that's something, all right.
Speaking in support of a proposed state constitutional ban on same-sex unions, one Rev. Hayes Wicker of First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., was recently quoted by the Naples Daily News as saying, "This is a tremendous social crisis, greater even than the issue of slavery."

I'm thinking someone doesn't have any sense of proportion. You can read more at Pam's House Blend, of course, but just for starters... slavery caused the Civil War. You know, brother fighting against brother, states seceding from the Union and waging war against one another, over 600,000 soldiers killed by fellow Americans? That's not even getting into the decades of conflict before that, stretching back all the way to the founding of the country. There was the Three-Fifths Compromise, the fights over whether new states would enter as free or slave, Bleeding Kansas, etc., all of which led up to the country being split in two and fighting amongst itself. How on earth can any rational person think that gay marriage tops that in terms of being a "social crisis"?

For that matter, how can any person with the tiniest scrap of decency think it fitting at all to compare gay marriage with slavery? One involves the subjugation and dehumanization of millions of people, stripping them of any freedoms, ripping apart families, and wanton cruelty that includes whippings, nailing people to posts by their ears, and rape. The other doesn't. If you're not sure which is which, and hence which is worse, then you have a lot of problems.

Unless, of course, this is his tacit admission that he's willing to wage another civil war and murder over half a million people in order to keep gays from enjoying equal rights.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Indiana politicians are getting their hopes up

Just look:
Long an afterthought in presidential politics, Indiana Democrats - who haven't delivered their state in the general election since 1964, and haven't had a meaningful say in picking their party's nominee since 1968 - see the growing excitement over the contest between Clinton and Barack Obama as an opportunity to build up muscle in places where the party's national reach had atrophied.

The interest in the Clinton-Obama fight, they say, is helping to shift political identities. Thousands of people are signing up as new voters - 383,954 Hoosiers have registered since the 2006 election - while some people who have always voted Republican are deciding that they might just be comfortable casting a ballot for a Democrat.

While national Democratic leaders worry that the protracted campaign could damage their eventual nominee, local Democrats say that the primary race may be the best thing to happen to the party in years.

Former Democratic representative Tim Roemer says Democrats have "a reasonable shot" of winning Indiana for the first time since Lyndon B. Johnson, likening their chances to the odds of making a three-point basketball shot. Although socially conservative, he said, Hoosiers are "economically populist," and both Democratic campaigns have been hammering home their plans for improving job growth.

"The economy and jobs and trade - combined with gas prices - are the issues that Indiana voters are going to be voting on in November," said Roemer, who supports Obama. "The more they see Democrats talking about these issues, the more likely that . . . Indiana is in play."

Unfortunately, pretty much the only 'evidence' the article gives for people being more willing to vote Democratic are a few anecdotes about lifelong Republicans now considering Clinton or Obama. It's heart-warming, but not exactly scientific. Although I do find compelling the idea that because Indiana's Democratic primary might actually matter for once, this will attract more people to the polls and that could carry over to the main election in November. It'll be interesting to see how much of an increase in primary participation there will be this year over years past.

Of course, after hyping the whole "Indiana Republicans might maybe conceivably vote Democratic!" angle in the first half of the story, the article ends with a dose of reality:
To be sure, no political analyst is predicting that Indiana is very likely be a "blue" state in November just because of the primary. After all, Republican presidential nominees have won 10 straight contests here.

"There is always the possibility that the level of excitement will be held through November, but that is a long uphill climb for the state of Indiana," said Andy Downs, who runs the Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Still, analysts say, if Democrats can close the gap with Republicans in the presidential election enough to make the state competitive, it would force the GOP to divert campaign money to Indiana.

And, analysts note, despite Indiana's "red" image, Democrats have been having mounting success in Indiana. They control the state House of Representatives and have more mayors than Republicans. Democrats also took three congressional districts away from Republicans in 2006, giving them a majority of the state's delegation. Now, they are hoping to build on those gains.

Senator Evan Bayh, the Indiana Democrat and former governor who is supporting Clinton, said he shares the worry that if Clinton and Obama attack each other personally too much, it could damage the party's chances in November. But so far, he said, the excitement over the primary election is proving to be a tremendous boon for the state party.

Still. A man can dream.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I feel pretty, oh so pretty

The New York Times published this gem yesterday about how dresses are becoming out-of-date, in which the author makes a plea for the survival of dresses, not for the comfort or convenience for women, but for all leering men's sakes

As the kids say these days, read the rest.


Quick update to this, which is being picked up all over the blogosphere (not my post, of course, just the issue in general--no-one links to poor Zathras). I particularly want to point you to Orac's post on the subject, which even has video of the event, and a response from Zirkle's website over the situation he now finds himself in.

I just want to give a tip to Mr. Zirkle. If you don't want people to think you're sympathetic to Nazis, then you probably shouldn't rely on websites like,,,,, and to make your point.

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Occam's Razor Disagrees II Edition

Last week I talked a little about Josiah Nott, and in the course of doing my reading for that post I found something that had to be shared.
It has been asserted by writers, that when the grade of Quinteroon is arrived at, all trace of black blood is lost, and that they cannot be distinguished from the whites. Now if this be true, most of the Mulattoes must cease to breed before they arrive at this point of mixture; for though I have passed most of my life in places where the two races have been mingling for many generations, I have rarely if ever met an individual tainted with black blood, in who I could not detect it without difficulty. These higher grades should be extremely common if the chain was not broken by death and sterility. How else can the fact be accounted for?

--Josiah Clark Nott, "The Mulatto a Hybrid--probable extermination of the two races if the Whites and Blacks are allowed to intermarry", American Journal of the Medical Sciences, v. 6, July 1843, p. 255

Apparently Nott couldn't fathom how he might meet a 'black' person who "cannot be distinguished from the whites", because every black person he ever met he could tell was black!

He hadn't caught on to the complete lack of logic in that statement two and a half years later, when he repeated it pretty much verbatim in the Southern Quarterly Review.

Get back in that closet, now!

Ken Hutcherson has done and said some pretty disgusting things: tried to organize a takeover of Microsoft because of their gay-friendly policies (yeah, get conservatives to buy their stock until you're in control, Ken... that'll work); dismissing GSAs as "sex clubs"; he's tried harassing teachers and a librarian at the high school; trying to get sexual orientation removed from Washington state's anti-discrimination laws; and so on.

But I thought this was his most reprehensible action yet. Today is Day of Silence, where students can choose to be silent the entire day as a show of protest against bullying (especially against gay students) in schools. Naturally, homophobes like Hutcherson are apoplectic over the idea that anyone might want gays not to be bullied in school ('cause he's a reverend, and Jesus told us to beat up fags, dontcha know?). So his proposed response?
Late last week, the Rev. Ken Hutcherson, an outspoken anti-gay-rights pastor, called for 1,000 "prayer warriors" to peacefully march outside the high school.

In an interview, he repeated his view that homosexuality is a sin. "God hates it," he said.

A little more information here.

Can you imagine that? 1000 people marching outside a high school, for chrissake. I can scarcely conceive how intimidating that would be for the students, especially the gay ones. The message being sent is that people object to your right to be safe from harm, that they object to your coming out of the closet, that they object to your very existence. And he's calling for 1000 people (hopefully he won't get any, of course), compared to the only 230 students who participated in Day of Silence last year.

It's reprehensible.

[Edit] According to news articles I've read, Hutcherson got 100 people protesting outside the school. Protesting a gay person's right to exist and be safe from harm. Did I mention that Hutcherson's a reverend?

Also, an imbecile:
Hutcherson, who had called for 1,000 "prayer warriors" to join him in protesting a national day to call attention to the harassment of lesbian and gay students, said his group was not against homosexuals or the Day of Silence.

"We're against giving an entire school day to one club to push an agenda that is not about education," he said.

(A) There's no club involved.
(B) The school itself is also not involved in Day of Silence, so education goes on regardless. School is not interrupted to do this.
One Antioch member, Marvin Jones, said the GSA "doesn't have the right to come into schools and impose an agenda on students."

See how brain-dead homophobes are? There's no organization forcing students not to speak or imposing an agenda on them. The students choose to participate of their own free will, something that it seems a lot of Christians want to deny them.
Hutcherson took issue with gay student supporters who said they were discriminated against at school. He said homosexuality is a sin "trying to be a minority."

How dare gays think they're a minority!
Lynette Smallwood, the parent of two Mt. Si students, joined Hutcherson's rally. She said she had received several text messages from her sons inside the school saying they couldn't say anything except the Day of Silence is good.

And yet, just a few paragraphs further in the article...
Inside the school, students and administrators said there were many T-shirts expressing opposing views and some intense discussions.

Gosh! It's almost like the bigoted homophobe is projecting her desires to stifle all forms of expression she disagrees with onto the people involved in that expression. How could this be!?
"It's not appropriate to have during school. They're not getting an education," Smallwood said.

The only reason anyone's not getting an education is because a third of the students skipped that day because of jackasses like you.

If Limbaugh is exposed to facts, does he burst into flames?

You'd think so, given some of the stuff he comes up with.
Talk show host Rush Limbaugh is sparking controversy again after he made comments calling for riots in Denver during the Democratic National Convention this summer.

He said the riots would ensure a Democrat is not elected as president, and his listeners have a responsibility to make sure it happens.


Several callers called in to the radio show to denounce Limbaugh's comments, when he later stated, "I am not inspiring or inciting riots, I am dreaming of riots in Denver."

Limbaugh said with massive riots in Denver, which he called "Operation Chaos," the people on the far left would look bad.

"There won't be riots at our convention," Limbaugh said of the Republican National Convention. "We don't riot. We don't burn our cars. We don't burn down our houses. We don't kill our children. We don't do half the things the American left does."

There won't be riots at your convention, because you'll be all rioted out from rioting at the Democratic National Convention, right? As for the "we don't riot" business, um... well, y'know how reality has a liberal bias?
The last time I can recall a "certain segment of American political life" becoming "completely unhinged" and causing "social unraveling" in connection with a national election was this episode in Miami, during the 2000 recount:
The "bourgeois riot" celebrated by Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot helped stop the announced manual recount of the 10,750 undervote in Miami-Dade County. Instigated by an order from New York congressman John Sweeney to "shut it down," dozens of screaming GOP demonstrators pounded on doors and a picture window at elections headquarters. The canvassing board, which had already found a net Al Gore gain of 168 votes, reversed a decision it had made a couple of hours earlier to begin a tally of the undervote.

The mob gang-rushed a local Democrat carrying a blank sample ballot. They threatened that a thousand Cubans were on their way to the headquarters to stop the count. Several people were "trampled, punched or kicked," according to The New York Times. The canvassing board chair at first conceded that mob pressures played a role in the shutdown -- which cost Gore the 168 votes as well -- but later reversed his position. . . . .

Instead of condemning the Dade tactics, W. himself called the victory party that night to praise them, and Republicans invoked the specter of Jesse Jackson, who'd merely led peaceful protests outside election offices.

And no, conservatives don't kill their children--they kill other people's children. Sending them to die in a foreign country in an unjustified, interminable war without sufficient armor, fellow soldiers, or plan to win is the fashionable way to do it among conservatives nowadays. Meanwhile, their own children sit at home, placed safely away from danger in a position secured via family connections, usually.

Via This Modern World.

Hoosier Tony Zirkle dances to the strain of the "I Was Not a Nazi Polka"

And this guy's from my state, too:
A congressional candidate is defending his speech to a group celebrating the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth, saying he appeared simply because he was asked.

"I'll speak before any group that invites me," Zirkle said Monday. "I've spoken on an African-American radio station in Atlanta."

I think the "my best friend is one" idea has hit bottom with this. I mean, see? Zirkle will appear on a black radio station! That proves he's not racist!
Zirkle compared his speech to other politicians appearing at Bob Jones University.

That... that doesn't help you any. You might recall that when President Bush appeared at Bob Jones University back in 2000, it pissed a lot of people off? And all they did was prevent students from dating people of another race--they weren't celebrating the birthday of Hitler.
Zirkle said he did not know much about the neo-Nazi group and that his intention was to talk on his concern about "the targeting of young white women and for pornography and prostitution." this guy mentally ill or something? He didn't know much about the group? I assume he knew at least their name, which is the "American National Socialist Workers Party". Did this guy just sleep through history class?

Actually, apparently he did:
When asked if he was a Nazi or sympathized with Nazis or white supremacists, Zirkle replied he didn't know enough about the group to either favor it or oppose it.

"This is just a great opportunity for me to witness," he said, referring to his message and his Christian belief.

He also told WIMS radio in Michigan City that he didn't believe the event he attended included people necessarily of the Nazi mindset, pointing out the name isn't Nazi, but Nationalist Socialist Workers Party.

Oh, well, sure--that's completely different from the National Socialist German Workers Party. How silly of us? And really, being surrounded by swastikas on Nazi flags, in front of a portrait of Hitler, at an event celebrating Hitler's birthday... well, who could possibly think they're Nazis because of that, huh? It's not like they were goose-stepping, doing the salute, and shouting "Sieg Heil!"
At the event, Hitler's birthday was observed with a cake with a photo of Hitler and the words "Seig Heil."

And really, it looks like Zirkle will fit right in:
The event was not the first time Zirkle has raised controversy on race issues. In March, Zirkle raised the idea of segregating races in separate states. Zirkle said Tuesday he's not advocating segregation, but said desegregation has been a failure.

But I'm sure he'll show up to talk on their radio stations, so obviously this means he's not a racist.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Yes, there are differences between the two parties

One party wants to amend the law so that a recent Supreme Court decision would be effectively overridden. The other doesn't.
Senate Republicans blocked a bill Wednesday that would make it easier for people to sue over pay discrimination, an effort to roll back a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that limited such cases.

Republicans complained that the bill would produce a flood of lawsuits and criticized the chamber's Democratic leaders for putting off the vote until the party's two presidential candidates, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, returned from the campaign trail.


Though several Republicans joined Democrats in voting to break the filibuster, the 56-42 vote was four short of the needed 60.


The bill, dubbed the Fair Pay Restoration Act, is a response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision that ruled a person who claims pay discrimination must file a complaint within 180 days of that discrimination taking place.

That deadline is specified in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, and it "protects employers from the burden of defending claims arising from employment decisions long past," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority in the 5-4 decision.

The bill that stalled Wednesday would have reset the clock with every paycheck, with supporters arguing that each paycheck was a discriminatory act. But Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, said the bill would allow retirees drawing pensions to sue their old companies over allegations of discrimination that happened decades ago.

The Presidential candidates also had some differing views on the bill. Obama and Clinton both were in favor of equality for women:
"I'm hoping this chamber will stand up for fundamental fairness for women in the workplace," said Clinton, of New York. "I'm hoping you will stand up and vote to make it clear that women who get up every single day and go to work deserve to be paid equally to their male counterparts."

And Obama, of Illinois, added, "If you work hard and do a good job, you should be rewarded no matter what you look like, where you come from or what gender you are."

McCain was not.
"They need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else," McCain said. "And it's hard for them to leave their families when they don't have somebody to take care of them.

Yes, the blame for discrimination in pay lies with women, who are stupid and know nothing about their jobs. McCain claims he's "all in favor of pay equity for women", but apparently not for them being able to enforce it.

It's not like they were too fond of Iran to begin with, but still

I find this hilarious.

Recently, President Ahmadinejad of Iran has made remarks describing the 9/11 events as "suspect":
"Four or five years ago a suspect event took place in New York," Ahmadinejad said, in an address carried live on state television.

"A building collapsed and they said that 3,000 people had been killed, whose names were never published."

"Under this pretext they (the United States) attacked Afghanistan and Iraq and since then a million people have been killed," said the Iranian president.

This has kinda ticked off al-Qaida, who are damn proud of having pulled it off and don't like the idea that the President of Iran is insinuating that they never did.
Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader issued a new audiotape Tuesday accusing Shiite Iran of spreading a conspiracy theory about who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks to discredit the power of the Sunni terrorist network.


One questioner asked about the theory that has circulated in the Middle East and elsewhere that Israel was behind the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Al-Zawahri accused Hezbollah's Al-Manar television of starting the rumor. "The purpose of this lie is clear -- (to suggest) that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no else did in history. Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it," he said.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008


It works, bitches!
Italian wall lizards introduced to a tiny island off the coast of Croatia are evolving in ways that would normally take millions of years to play out, new research shows.

In just a few decades the 5-inch-long (13-centimeter-long) lizards have developed a completely new gut structure, larger heads, and a harder bite, researchers say.

In 1971, scientists transplanted five adult pairs of the reptiles from their original island home in Pod Kopiste to the tiny neighboring island of Pod Mrcaru, both in the south Adriatic Sea.

Genetic testing on the Pod Mrcaru lizards confirmed that the modern population of more than 5,000 Italian wall lizards are all descendants of the original ten lizards left behind in the 1970s.


The transplanted lizards adapted to their new environment in ways that expedited their evolution physically, Irschick explained.

Pod Mrcaru, for example, had an abundance of plants for the primarily insect-eating lizards to munch on. Physically, however, the lizards were not built to digest a vegetarian diet.

Researchers found that the lizards developed cecal valves—muscles between the large and small intestine—that slowed down food digestion in fermenting chambers, which allowed their bodies to process the vegetation's cellulose into volatile fatty acids.

"They evolved an expanded gut to allow them to process these leaves," Irschick said, adding it was something that had not been documented before. "This was a brand-new structure."

Along with the ability to digest plants came the ability to bite harder, powered by a head that had grown longer and wider.

Let's see your intelligent designer do that!

Via Pharyngula.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Most hated president ever

At least as far back as anyone's kept track:
President Bush has set a record he'd presumably prefer to avoid: the highest disapproval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll.

In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, 28% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing; 69% disapprove. The approval rating matches the low point of his presidency, and the disapproval sets a new high for any president since Franklin Roosevelt.

The previous record of 67% was reached by Harry Truman in January 1952, when the United States was enmeshed in the Korean War.


Assessments of Bush's presidency are harsh. By 69%-27%, those polled say Bush's tenure in general has been a failure, not a success.


Monday, April 21, 2008

This makes how many laws that the Bush administration has broken now?

Here's another one!
The Bush administration violated federal law last year when it restricted states' ability to provide health insurance to children of middle-income families, and its new policy is therefore unenforceable, lawyers from the Government Accountability Office said Friday.

The ruling strengthens the hand of at least 22 states, including New York and New Jersey, that already provide such coverage or want to do so. And it significantly reduces the chance that the new policy can be put into effect before President Bush leaves office in nine months.


In a formal legal opinion Friday, the accountability office said the new policy “amounts to a marked departure" from a longstanding, settled interpretation of federal law. It is therefore a rule and, under a 1996 law, must be submitted to Congress for review before it can take effect, the opinion said.

But Jeff Nelligan, a spokesman for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said, "G.A.O.'s opinion does not change our conclusion that the Aug. 17 letter is still in effect."

The letter told states what steps they needed to take to be sure the children's health program would not displace or "crowd out" private coverage under group health plans. The White House cited the policy as a justification for rejecting a proposal by New York State to cover 70,000 additional youngsters.


Under the Aug. 17 directive, states cannot expand the Children's Health Insurance Program to cover youngsters with family incomes over 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($53,000 for a family of four) unless they can prove that they already cover 95 percent of eligible children below twice the poverty level ($42,400).

It's not enough that Bush wants to prevent people from having health insurance--he has to break the law to keep it from them!

Via LG&M, who got it from Bitch Ph.D., who got it from Feministe.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Schadenfreude is sweet, like candy

Because of Sally "gays are worse than terrorists" Kern's vicious homophobia, a San Francisco company is apparently reluctant to relocate to Oklahoma:
A San Francisco Bay-area financial services company has not yet ruled out Oklahoma City for a major office relocation, a vice president of a real estate search firm confirmed. A decision is expected in three to four weeks.

But Tom Maloney, vice president of California-based Staubach Co., would neither confirm nor deny that the 1,000-employee, AAA-rated client company's top executive is a lesbian who expressed concern over Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern's recent anti-homosexual statements, as has been the topic circulating among local business leaders.

Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, said the issue is a major concern the chamber is trying to address. He confirmed a Staubach consultant was troubled by Kern's comments during a recent visit to the city.
"He told us straight up … 'I cannot recommend to any of my clients that they should consider Oklahoma City because of that,'" Williams said. "When you have one of the nation's premier relocation experts making those statements, you should pay attention to that and not dismiss it.

"And that's immediately what happened: People said, 'Well, then tell them not to come here.' The problem with that is they (relocating firms) represent many of the Fortune 500 companies. And to be so dismissive of something that's a lot more sincere than people are giving credit, to me, shows a lack of understanding of what's really going on."

Um, what? Sorry, Roy, but the idea that Kern is sincere makes this worse, not better. We understand perfectly what's going on--you (or at least Kern and her supporters) don't want gays in Oklahoma. That means you can't complain when they decide not to move to Oklahoma, nor bring their jobs there.

The sad part is that this would hurt the citizens of Oklahoma and would do nothing to Kern, the person who deserves it. Ah, well.

Via Ed Brayton.

Well, it certainly motivates people

What the hell?
No one really disputes that Chad Hudgens was waterboarded outside a Provo office park last May 29, right before lunch, by his boss.

There is also general agreement that Hudgens volunteered for the "team-building exercise," that he lay on his back with his head downhill, and that co-workers knelt on either side of him, pinning the young sales rep down while their supervisor poured water from a gallon jug over his nose and mouth.

And it's widely acknowledged that the supervisor, Joshua Christopherson, then told the assembled sales team, whose numbers had been lagging: "You saw how hard Chad fought for air right there. I want you to go back inside and fight that hard to make sales."

I think my brother is going to be pissed he didn't think of that first.

Anyway, just look at the way it improved inter-office relationships!
"So they held me down," Hudgens said, "and the next thing I know, Josh has a gallon jug of water and he's pouring it on my face. I can't scream because the water's going down my throat.

"And halfway through he stopped for a second. I tried to mumble the words, 'Stop, knock it off.' I tried to get that out and he continued to pour."

"I'm not getting any air," Hudgens said. "Toward the end, I'm starting to black out. I'm getting very dizzy, light-headed. The sensation that's going through my head is, 'I'm going to drown.'"

That is the oft-described whole point of waterboarding, though Hudgens said he was not then familiar with the word. He said that what he told a friend in the human relations office two hours later, after "coughing, choking, mucus" was: "My team just tried to kill me."

But hey, the president did it, so it obviously can't be torture, right?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Fuck You, Ben Stein Edition

One of my interests is the war waged against the theory of evolution by ignorant creationist hordes. I don't blog about it much because I'm not a biologist (of course I'm not a historian either, but that doesn't really stop me from bloviating on certain subjects). Demonstrating why creationist caricatures of evolution are, well, just that--caricatures--is somewhat beyond me.

However, creationists do not limit themselves to attacking the theory of evolution on its scientific merits. They often will also (or even solely) attack it for what they consider its implications to be, as in the mockery of a documentary that was released today, Flunked--I mean, Expelled. They will say, for instance, that Darwin was a horrible racist and that the theory of evolution itself is horribly racist (for instance, it leads directly to the Holocaust, says Ben Stein).

Biology I may know little about. But dead racists? Now the ball's in Farnsworth's court!

If we are to consider whether Charles Darwin was a racist, and whether the hypothesis he proposed is also racist, we should examine it not from today's standpoint, but from the standpoint of the mid-nineteenth century. What was the state of science and race back then?

For a long while, people had wondered how the separate races of man had come to be. The ancient Greeks had pondered the issue of what made black men, black, and generally concluded that it was the result of climate:
The story of Phaëton's driving the chariot sun wildly through the heavens apparently served as an explanation for the Ethiopian's blackness even before written records, and traces of this ancient fable were still drifting about during the seventeenth century.
The Æthiopians then were white and fayre,
Though by the worlds combustion since made black
When wanton Phaeton overthrew the Sun.

Less fancifully, Ptolemy had made the important suggestion that the Negro's blackness and woolly hair were caused by exposure to the hot sun and had pointed out that people in northern climates were white and those in temperate areas an intermediate color.1

This idea was perhaps the prevailing scientific opinion on the question of the origin of races even centuries later:
In general, the most satisfactory answer to the problem was some sort of reference to the action of the sun, whether the sun was assumed to have scorched the skin, drawn the bile, or blackened the blood. People living on the Line had obviously been getting too much of it; after all, even Englishmen were darkened by a little exposure. How much more, then, with the Negroes who were "so scorched and vexed with the heat of the sunne, that in many places they cursed it when it riseth." The sun's heat was itself sometimes described as a curse--a not unnatural reaction on the part of those Englishmen who visited the West African coast where the weather was "of such putrifying qualitie, that it rotted the coates of their backs." This association of the Negro's color with the sun became a commonplace in Elizabethan literature; as the Prince of Morocco apologized, "Mislike me not for my complexion,/ The shadow'd livery of the burnish'd sun,/ To whom I am a neighbour and near bred."2

This seemed reasonable, but one ran into a problem when it became apparent that very different races existed in very similar climates across the globe...
Unfortunately this theory ran headlong into a stubborn fact of nature which simply could not be overridden: if the equatorial inhabitants of Africa were blackened by the sun, why not the people living on the same line in America? Logic required them to be the same color. As Ptolemy's formidably authoritative Geographica stated this logic, "Reason herself asserts that all animals, and all plants likewise, have a similarity under the same kind of climate or under similar weather conditions, that is, when under the same parallels, or when situated at the same distance from either pole." Yet by the middle of the sixteenth century it was become perfectly apparent that the Indians living in the hottest regions of the New World could by no stretch of the imagination be described as black. They were "olive" or "tawny," and moreover they had long hair rather than the curious wool of Negroes; clearly they were a different sort of men. ... Clearly the method of accounting for human complexion by latitude just did not work.3

...or that one race could span across many different climates...
We will, therefore, abstain from any further details, in order not to extend these remarks beyond the limits of general statements, and would only add one fact respecting the American Indians; as this race presents a most remarkable feature in the point of view under consideration. It has been satisfactorily established that over the whole continent of America south of the arctic zone (which is inhabited by Esquimaux), all the numerous tribes of Indians have the same physical character; that they belong to the same race, from north to south, and that the primitive inhabitants of the more northern or southern regions. In this case we have the greatest uniformity in the character of the tribes of an entire continent, under the most different climatic influences.4

Further, it was reasoned that if climate or environment effected a change in people, then putting people of one race in the region generally inhabited by people of another, then they or their descendants should gradually change to resemble the natives. That is, whites who lived in Africa should be transformed into blacks, blacks who lived in Europe should become white, and whites who lived in America should become Native Americans. But this was absurd--who had ever heard of such an occurrence?
How can a reasonable man believe that any thing short of a miracle, could, in the temperate parts of Australia or America, change the white race into Australians or Indians. Both reason and fact are opposed to such a supposition. Observation and history alone can settle these points, and we have no record of such changes having occurred, or being now in progress.5

And again,
No one ever saw a Negro, Mongol, or Indian, born from any but his own species. Has any one heard of an Indian child born from white or black parents in America, during more than two centuries that these races have been living here? Is not this brief and simple statement of the case sufficient to satisfy any one, that the diversity of species now seen on the earth, cannot be accounted for on the assumption of congenital or accidental origin?6

No-one had ever heard of anything like a black man turning into a white one, or a white person giving birth to a black person (as an aside, it amuses me how much the above paragraph matches current creationist talking points). And studies had shown that the races existed perfectly unchanged thousands of years ago; Josiah Nott made numerous references to Egyptian monument which he alleged showed the races as they exist today, being just as distinct four thousand years ago. In fact, this image appeared in his book Types of Mankind:

Later on that page he writes "although the effigies we present are small, they portray a specimen of each type with sufficient accuracy to show that four races were very distinct 3300 years ago."7 If the races had remained unchanged for thousands of years--as far back as Bishop Usher had dated the Flood, and even before that! If the earth had only existed for so many thousands of years, how could one possibly think that the races had been diversified into the types present today in the minority of that time, yet remained unchanged for the majority of it? As Louis Agassiz put it, "five thousand years ago the negroes were as different from the white race as they are now, and that, therefore, neither time nor climate nor change of habitation has produced the differences."8

No, the conclusion that scientists came to was that the races had always been distinct:
[I]n 1846 ... [Samuel] Morton sent an account of his collection of crania to the newly formed American Ethnological Society. Emboldened by the work of his colleagues, here for the first time publicly, he clearly set forth his conclusions concerning the origin of races. Although he had already seen enough of the material Squier and Davis had turned up to be convinced that the Mound Builders were of the same race as the modern Indians, he did not believe that the Indians and the Mound Builders were descended from a single pair. On the contrary, he believed "that they have originated from several, perhaps even from many pairs, which were adapted, from the beginning, to the varied localities they were designed to occupy. . . . In other words, I regard the American nations as the true autochthones, the primeval inhabitants of this vast continent; and when I speak of their being of one race or of one origin, I allude only to their indigenous relation to each other, as shown in all those attributes of mind and body which have been so amply illustrated by modern ethnography."9

The human races, they theorized, had been created separately and specially adapted to the areas where they were found, much as they supposed animals were:
The circumstance, that, wherever we find a human race naturally circumscribed, it is connected in its limitation with what we call, in natural history, a zoölogical and botanical province,--that is to say, with the natural limitation of a particular association of animals and plants,--shows most unequivocally the intimate relation existing between mankind and the animal kingdom in their adaptation to the physical world. The arctic race of men, covering the treeless region near the Arctics in Europe, Asia, and America, is circumscribed in the three continents within limits very similar to those occupied by that particular combination of animals which are peculiar to the same tracts of land and sea.

The region inhabited by the Mongolian race is also a natural zoölogical province, covered by a combination of animals naturally circumscribed within the same regions. The Malay race covers also a natural zoölogical province. New Holland, again, constitutes a very peculiar zoölogical province, in which we have another particular race of men. And it is further remarkable, in this connection, that the plants and animals now living on the continent of Africa, south of the Atlas, within the same range within which the negroes are naturally circumscribed, have a character differing widely from that of the plants and animals of the northern shores of Africa and the valley of Egypt; while the Cape of Good Hope, within the limits inhabited by Hottentots, is characterized by a vegetation and a fauna equally peculiar, and differing in its features from that over which the African race is spread.

Such identical circumscriptions between the limits of two series of organized beings so widely differing as man and animals and plants, and so entirely unconnected in point of descent, would, to the mind of a naturalist, amount to a demonstration that they originated together within the districts which they now inhabit. We say that such an accumulation of evidence would amount to demonstration; for how could it, on the contrary, be supposed that man alone would assume new peculiarities, and features so different from his primitive characteristics, whilst the animals and plants circumscribed within the same limits would continue to preserve their natural relations to the fauna and flora of other parts of the world?

If the Creator of one set of these living beings had not been also the Creator of the other, and if we did not trace the same general laws throughout nature, there might be room left for the supposition, that, while men inhabiting different parts of the world originated from a common centre, the plants and animals now associated with them in the same countries originated on the spot. But such inconsistencies do not occur in the laws of nature.

The coincidence of the geographical distribution of the human races with that of animals, the disconnection of the climatic conditions where we have similar races, and the connection of climatic conditions where we have different human races, show, further, that the adaptation of different races of men to different parts of the world must be intentional, as well as that of other beings; that men were primitively located in the various parts of the world they inhabit, and that they arose everywhere in those harmonious numeric proportions with other living beings, which would at once secure their preservation and contribute to their welfare.10

In short, their theory held that "as a question of natural history, the investigation of the human races leads to the idea of a diversity of their origin, rather than to the supposition that they have originated from a common stock."11

But it was more than just that different races had separate origins. The proposition of polygenesis held that they were completely different species, and ought--nay, must--be treated as such. For instance, the races were said to have different brain sizes, and therefore different levels of intelligence12:

That race appeared immutable meant that the characteristics attributed to the races--namely, inferiority, stupidity, laziness, and an incapacity for civilization in blacks--were also unchangeable.
If, then, the negro races stand at the lowest point in the scale of human beings, and we know of no moral or physical agencies which can redeem them from their degradation, it is clear that they are incapable of self-government, and that any attempt to improve their condition is warring against an immutable law of nature.13

This meant, to some at least, that the black man must be kept in slavery:
What disposition God, in his providence, will eventually make of these blacks, cannot be foretold; but it is our duty to provide for our own happiness and theirs, as long as we can. In dealing with this question, it will not do to be guided by abstract notions of liberty and slavery. We can only judge the future by the past; and as experience proves that the negro is better off in slavery at the South, than in freedom elsewhere, it is the part of philanthropy to keep him here, as we keep our children in subjection for their own good.14

And guess what demolished the idea of polygenesis? That's right--Darwin's theory of evolution.
"One good effect is already manifest," [Asa Gray] announced. Darwinism rendered irrelevant "the hypothesis of a multiplicity of human species." So far from providing for plural creations of man, Darwin described a process which made it possible to derive all categories of life from an original one and placed the organic kingdom on a self-sustaining basis. Or, as Gray put it, "the very first step backwards" into the Darwinian past "makes the Negro and Hottentot our blood-relations."15

Darwin himself was a monogenist16, and predicted that as a result of the acceptance of evolution, "the dispute between the monogenists and the polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death."17

One of the most widespread tactics used when setting up a group as something to be discriminated against, to be reviled, to be eliminated--indeed, it may be absolutely necessary to accomplish this--is to dehumanize them. You must ensure that people think of that group as "them" instead of "us", so you must rob them of our shared humanity: refer to them as animals, as a disease, as monsters, as demons, as barbarians, anything that prevents people from accepting them as human. This is key to getting people to go along with your plans for them. Evolution, however, definitively settled that all the races of man are indeed human, and that a man of one race is far more similar to a man of another race than he is different. It is very much anti-racist, especially when compared to the prevailing scientific attitudes of the time in which it was first presented.

1. Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro 1550-1812, pp. 11-12
2. Ibid., p. 13
3. Ibid., pp. 13-14
4. Louis Agassiz, "The Diversity of Origin of the Human Races", The Christian Examiner and Religious Miscellany 44
5. Josiah Nott, "Unity of the Human Race," Southern Quarterly Review, vol. 9, no. 17, January 1846
6. Josiah Nott and George Gliddon, Types of Mankind, p. 58
7. Ibid., p. 85
8. William Stanton, The Leopard's Spots: Scientific Attitudes Toward Race in America 1815-1859, p. 106
9. Ibid, p. 97
10. Agassiz, "The Diversity of Origin of the Human Races"
11. Ibid.
12. Nott and Gliddon, Types of Mankind, p. 450
13. Josiah Nott, "Nature and Destiny of the Negro," De Bow's Review, vol. 10, March 1851. This was originally a lecture by Nott, entitled "Natural History of Man Viewed in Connection with Negro Slavery."
14. Ibid.
15. Stanton, The Leopard's Spots, p. 186
16. Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, pp. 181-82
17. Ibid., p. 184


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Now Zoidberg is the popular one!

Five thousand visitors!

Thanks, y'all!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Good for them, and nuts to you

In North Carolina, a member of the Charlotte school board wanted kids to be able to skip school on the Day of Silence. I assume so that they wouldn't have to be subjected to the knowledge that gay people exist, which I understand to be contrary to their religious beliefs.

Anyways, the school board voted on it today or yesterday, and Kaye McGarry was alone in her views:
McGarry said the event would be a distraction in school and would promote a pro-homosexual agenda.

She said students should not be exposed to it and, those students should be allowed to stay home without punishment.

Ultimately, McGarry was the only board member who felt this way.

Her proposal was voted down 8-1.

It's strange, though. If McGarry truly believed that Day of Silence "would be a distraction in school and would promote a pro-homosexual agenda", the logical thing to do would be to try and ban students from participating--not excusing students who don't want to participate. Her actions clearly show that she wasn't concerned with a distraction to the learning process, she just didn't want to force kids to deal with the reality that there are gays amongst them.

South Korea's got the right idea about this 'love' crap

We oughta get on this in the US:
South Korea celebrates Valentine's Day, where local custom dictates women give gifts to men. It has taken on a popular event born in Japan but sweeping Asia known as White Day on March 14 when men return the favor with gifts for women.

But Black Day, on April 14, is a South Korean original. It is marked by people who have not found love dressing in dark colors and commiserating over meals of black food, with the dish of choice being Chinese-style noodles topped with a thick sauce of black bean paste.

"I had a miserable time on Valentine's Day, felt even lonelier on White Day and now I'm crying over a bowl of black noodles," said a young women who asked only to be identified by her family name Na out of embarrassment.


At universities across the country on Monday, students without lunch dates ordered black noodles, dined with other lonely hearts and searched for companionship.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Well, waddya know?

Davis has already apologized for his earlier remark about Obama:
Republican Rep. Geoff Davis apologizing to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Monday after referring to him as "that boy."


Davis' campaign said it sent a letter to Obama apologizing for the remark, which was widely reported on blogs and newspaper Web sites, including the Lexington Herald-Leader.

"My poor choice of words is regrettable, and was in no way meant to impugn you or your integrity," Davis wrote in the letter delivered to Obama's Washington office Monday afternoon. "I offer my sincere apology to you and ask for your forgiveness."

[Edit] Although, as Matt Yglesias points out, nobody was upset that Davis might have called Obama's integrity into question. It was the racist nature of those remarks that we objected to. Well... most of us. [/Edit]

Also, I watched the video on that page on the same issue, but before it played the news clip it showed me an advertisement. Mr. T was the spokesman for World of Warcraft.

Damn, now it's actually tempting to get the game.


I get Yahoo! Breaking News alerts sent to me by e-mail, and they always give the city before the small snippet of news.

One I got today had the location as "ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE".

Nothing to say, I was just kinda amused.

We're gonna hold you to that!

Somebody recently asked Obama whether, if elected President, his Justice Department "would aggressively go after and investigate whether crimes have been committed" by the current administration. His response:
What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that's already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can't prejudge that because we don't have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. You're also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we've got too many problems we've got to solve.

So this is an area where I would want to exercise judgment -- I would want to find out directly from my Attorney General -- having pursued, having looked at what's out there right now -- are there possibilities of genuine crimes as opposed to really bad policies. And I think it's important-- one of the things we've got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing betyween really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity. You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I've said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in coverups of those crimes with knowledge forefront, then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law -- and I think that's roughly how I would look at it.

Well, we've got Bush admitting that he approved of meetings wherein officials high up in his administration basically choreographed how to torture people, and torture is against both domestic and international law. Not to mention, say, their complete disregard for FISA.

And yeah, a lot of people are going to feign outrage at even the suggestion of investigating whether wrong-doing occurred--just look at some of the comments in that post. But we cannot let them simply get away with it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Concrete evidence that "family values" means "get the fags"

Gay-bashing is now a family affair:
Three members of a Worcester, Massachusetts family are facing trial on hate charges following an incident in an apartment where two men were attacked in what police describe as a homophobic assault.

Police allege that 67-year old Roger P. West Sr., his daughter, Penny G. West, and his son, Roger West Jr., burst into the apartment in a building owned by the family last August.

Penny G. West, 40, is accused of striking and pushing the male tenant aside while hurling homophobic remarks at him. She's charged with assault and battery, breaking and entering with intent to commit a misdemeanor, and assault and battery as a hate crime.


Not to mention paying the participants with food coupons

In most instances where people cry "What about the Tuskegee Experiments!?" I tend to tune them out.

Scientists using federal grants spread fertilizer made from human and industrial wastes on yards in poor, black neighborhoods to test whether it might protect children from lead poisoning in the soil. Families were assured the sludge was safe and were never told about any potential risks.

Nine low-income families in Baltimore row houses agreed to let researchers till the sewage sludge into their yards and plant new grass. In exchange, they were given food coupons as well as the free lawns as part of a study published in 2005 and funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

...There is no evidence there was any medical follow-up.

Comparable research was conducted by the Agriculture Department and Environmental Protection Agency in a similarly poor, black neighborhood in East St. Louis, Ill. Residents there also were not told of the potential risks.


However, there has been a paucity of research into the possible harmful effects of heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, other chemicals, and disease-causing microorganisms often found in sludge.

A series of reports by the EPA's inspector general and the National Academy of Sciences between 1996 and 2002 faulted the adequacy of the science behind the EPA's 1993 regulations on sludge.

The chairman of the 2002 academy panel, Thomas Burke, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said epidemiological studies have never been done to show whether spreading sludge on land is safe.

"There are potential pathogens and chemicals that are not in the realm of safe," Burke said. "What's needed are more studies on what's going on with the pathogens in sludge - are we actually removing them? The commitment to connecting the dots hasn't been there."

It seems that, instead of doing preliminary, basic studies to see whether spreading sludge on lawns might be safe for people, they just skipped straight to testing on poor black families--and apparently didn't even do a medical follow-up. That's abhorrent.

Via aimai, via LG&M.

On behalf of Kentuckians, let me apologize

One of our Representatives, Geoff Davis, recently referred to Obama as "boy":
U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, a Hebron Republican, compared Obama and his message for change similar to a "snake oil salesman."

He said in his remarks at the GOP dinner that he also recently participated in a "highly classified, national security simulation" with Obama.

"I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button," Davis said. "He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country."

Via Americablog.

And for anyone who wants to say, as do some of the commenters on the original piece, that "clearly Congressman Davis was referencing his youth and inexperience", I would point out that Obama is only three years younger than Davis. It boggles my mind that people could seriously suggest that Davis would actually refer to someone only three years his junior as "boy", even if being "only" 46 does make Obama young for someone running for president.

And hey, a man called Geoff Davis made a racially insensitive (at best) remark about a black man, just in time for Confederate Heritage Month!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Why the hell aren't we impeaching these bastards?

Last time I discussed this, I quoted an article saying
The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.

That may be so. But Bush knew about the meetings, and approved of them and the methods of torture they concocted:
President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

"Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people." Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. "And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."

As first reported by ABC News Wednesday, the most senior Bush administration officials repeatedly discussed and approved specific details of exactly how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the CIA.

The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

These top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding, sources told ABC news.

The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.

At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Dick Cheney, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.


In the interview with ABC News Friday, Bush defended the waterboarding technique used against [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed].

"We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it," Bush said. "And no, I didn't have any problem at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew."

The president said, "I think it's very important for the American people to understand who Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was. He was the person who ordered the suicide attack -- I mean, the 9/11 attacks."

He's a bad man, therefore it's okay to torture him--is that it? All domestic and international laws don't apply to people we don't like?

No, wait; they simply don't apply to people you don't like. Nor to yourselves.

One could scarcely imagine that we might once have been, and still pretend to be, a nation ruled by laws.

More outrage at emptywheel and Hullabaloo.

The free market fairy is probably held up somewhere else

Witness the free market in action!
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) allows herbal and non-herbal supplements to be sold in the US without demonstration of effectiveness or safety. Despite recent improvements in Good Manufacturing Practices required of supplement manufacturers, these products still pose significant risks to the population simply because the hands of regulatory authorities are tied - products cannot be removed from the market until there is evidence for lack of safety, meaning that consumers must first be harmed before FDA is authorized to intervene.

Observe how it solves all our consumer woes with its invisible, magical hand:
The FDA notified healthcare professionals and patients that it has found hazardous levels of selenium in samples of certain flavors of the dietary supplement products "Total Body Formula" and "Total Body Mega Formula." Analyses of samples by FDA have found most of the samples contain extremely high levels of selenium -- up to 200 times the amount of selenium indicated on the labels of the products. The FDA has received 43 reports of persons from nine states who experienced serious adverse reactions using these products. The adverse reactions generally occurred after five to 10 days of daily ingestion of the product, and included significant hair loss, muscle cramps, diarrhea, joint pain, deformed fingernails, and fatigue. Consumers should stop taking the products and consult their healthcare professional if they experience any adverse events associated with the use of the products.

Lament those who would try to break the finger of the magical, invisible hand of the free market with their regulations and safeguards:
The Coalition [to Preserve DSHEA] is described as, "a non-profit coalition comprised of major suppliers of dietary supplement products and services, as well as leading industry trade associations and other supporters." This organization is also behind the website,, to "protect your access to safe, effective, & affordable dietary supplements."

Safe? Effective? Neither of these attributes are required by current legislation. So please don't insult us by implying this is the case.

Affordable? Now I see. Preventing any requirements for prospective demonstration of safety or confirmation of supplement content would certain cut into profit margins.

Silly Pharmboy. Don't you know that if you demand that things aren't poisonous, then production costs will go up, and therefore things will cost more? Just ask Erin Burnett:

And that's why the free market fails.

Mace them!

I like it. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is starting a program to promote awareness of sexual harassers on the subway, and get women to report them.
Malikah Fardon-Jones-Finney and her 12-year-old daughter glanced at the ad hanging over their heads at the top of the Red Line train wall.

The image is simple - a young woman squeezed between faceless bodies - and the message succinct: "Rub against me and I'll expose you."

"Does that happen?" Fardon-Jones-Finney asked. "How can you tell when the train is packed?"

Across the way, 23-year-old Olesia Plokhii also gave the ad a once-over and her approval.

"I guess I think it's a proactive idea," she said as she tapped out a text message on her cellphone. "Any kind of awareness around that says 'Perpetrator beware,' I think that's ultimately effective."

The ad - one of at least three posted on Red Line trains - is part of a new public service campaign by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to increase awareness of sexual harassment on public transit, and to encourage victims to report such events.

Joe Pesaturo, MBTA spokesman, declined to discuss the details of the campaign in advance of the official unveiling tomorrow at North Station. Red Line riders yesterday, however, got a preview of the ads. One shows a security camera pointed into the unknown, with the message "Flash someone and you'll be exposed." Another depicts a lone woman riding the T with the words, "I'm not the one who should be ashamed."


Jeff Jacoby is a dick, but we all knew that, right?

See his latest column, on Thomas Beatie (the pregnant man), whom he--in typical transphobic, asshole style--insists on referring to as Tracy LaGondino.
This story of the pregnant "man" hasn't materialized in a vacuum.

The news out of Texas last week was of the police raid on a polygamist compound in which underage girls have been forcibly "married" to abusive older men. From Australia came word of John and Jennifer Deaves, the 61-year-old father and his 39-year-old daughter who have had two children together and pleaded guilty to incest, but say they just want "a little bit of respect and understanding" for their illicit relationship. These are only the latest in an endless series of reminders that sexual urges and appetites can be powerful and perverse and lead to harmful consequences. That is why human societies have always constrained sexual behavior with equally powerful taboos and moral standards.

Increasingly, though, anyone who upholds those taboos and standards is denounced as a narrow-minded bigot, while those who defy them are celebrated for their nonjudgmentalism and tolerance.

Gee, how could we possibly think you're a narrow-minded bigot for comparing transgender people to a cult of child-raping fundies? I mean, you didn't provide any evidence whatsoever that the relationships you're so damn afraid of actually "lead to harmful consequences", nor is there any evidence in fact that that's why human societies have constrained them.

And you know, it's pretty ironic that you're talking about how societies have "always" had these sexual taboos to prevent older men from forcibly marrying younger women when, say, polygamy is far more traditional and popular than monogamy, the marriageable age in the past was much younger than it is now, and arranged marriages were (and in some places still are) the rule rather than the newsworthy exception.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What the hell is going on in Schwarzenegger's head?

First he vetoes two bills that would have legalized gay marriage, now he's promising to fight against a ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a group of gay Republicans on Friday that an attempt to ban same-sex marriage by changing the state Constitution is a "total waste of time" and promised to oppose such an initiative if it qualifies for the state ballot.

Backers of the measure criticized the governor as a liberal despite his Republican Party affiliation, while supporters of same-sex marriage applauded Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger's staff said the governor, who has vetoed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in recent years, has not changed his stance on the issue but simply wants the state Supreme Court to decide the legality of current state law.

Schwarzenegger said Friday he is opposed to amending the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

"I will always be there to fight against that," the governor said in San Diego at the annual convention of the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest gay Republican group, as the attendees erupted in loud applause.


In recent years, Schwarzenegger used Prop. 22 as the basis for vetoing a pair of bills that would have legalized same-sex marriage, arguing he would support the will of the voters. But Julie Soderlund, a spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger, said the governor's comments on Friday are not inconsistent with his vetoes.

"He has said many times ... that people have spoken on the issue. However, if the Supreme Court would overturn the decision, he would enforce the law, and he would not support a constitutional amendment to ban" same-sex marriage, she said.

Uh? So, the people have spoken, but the Supreme Court speaks louder? Or something? Really, what's the point of that? Usually Republicans are trying to prevent the courts from deciding this issue, rather than saying that the courts, rather than the legislature or the voters, must decide it.

And cue outrage from the ill-named "pro-family" groups:
"He says he'll veto legislation redefining marriage but now he says he'll fight a ballot measure protecting marriage," said Randy Thomasson, of, whose amendment would revoke domestic-partnership benefits including hospital visitation, community property and child support. "He's pandering to this group."

Pandering? Come on, if he were pandering to us, he would've signed those bills instead of vetoing them!

"Freedom of religion" means never having to acknowledge gay people exist

Or so I gather from this article:
A professional photographer who refused to take pictures of a gay couple's commitment ceremony because of her religious beliefs violated New Mexico discrimination law, a human rights panel ruled.

Vanessa Willock filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission in 2006, contending that Albuquerque photographer Elaine Huguenin told her she photographed only traditional marriages. Huguenin and her husband, Jon, own Elane Photography.

The commission's one-page ruling Wednesday said Elane Photography violated the state Human Rights Act by discriminating against Willock on the basis of sexual orientation, and should pay $6,637 for Willock's attorney's fees and costs.


The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian organization that defends religious liberty, plans to appeal to state district court.

"The fact she is a commercial business does not mean she loses her constititutional protection. ... The constitution prevents the government from forcing people to choose between their faith and their livelihood," ADF's senior counsel, Jordan Lorence, said Friday.

Yes, her faith prevents her from taking pictures of gay people. Since, y'know, cameras steal people's souls, and she doesn't want to keep the souls of icky gay people.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Probably not an objective article, though

Aquinas College, a Catholic institution in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has cancelled a scheduled speech from John Corvino entitled "What's Morally Wrong With Homosexuality?" I just appreciated this paragraph:
The president of Aquinas says it's not appropriate for an advocate, of gay rights, tolerance and compassion to speak on campus.

Although this article on the same subject also had an interesting paragraph:
He said the Vatican is concerned about the lack of Catholic faculty at Catholic universities and about rampant "moral relativism" -- the belief that there is no objective right or wrong -- on campuses.

Well, there isn't any objective right or wrong--rights, ethics, morality, are all societally defined/created. But if there were objective right or wrong, I'm betting that discriminating against people based on a completely irrelevant facet of their existence, such as their skin color, the hand they prefer, or the sex (or sexes) to which they're attracted, would be in the "objectively wrong" category.

On the other hand, if you're a moral relativist who believes that things are wrong if--and solely because--some ineffable, lunatic deity says so, then it might count as "right".

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Eschaton Edition

Previously, on dead racist-blogging...

We found out that some people considered anyone who wasn't white not to be a real man, as they weren't made "in the image of God" (God, of course, being white). There were some other theological questions that also had to be considered--such as, when God resurrects everyone as zombies at the end of days, will blacks still be black?
Quest. Whether Negroes shall rise so at the last Day?
Answ. The Pinch of the Question only lies--Whether White or Black is the better Colour? For the Negroes won't be persuaded but their Jett is finer and more beautiful than our Alabaster. If we Paint the Devil black, they are even with us, for they Paint him White, and no doubt are as much in the right on't as we; none amongst them, who are legitimate, being born white, but such as are a kind of Leprous Persons. And they boast of an Emperor of Rome, one of the best of 'em, ('twas Severus) and Saints, Fathers, and Martyrs without Number, who have been of that Colour.--But after all, unless we are very partial, there is something natural in't. Black is the Colour of Night, Frightful, Dark and Horrid; but White of the Day and Light, refreshing and lovely. Taking then this Blackness of the Negro to be an accidental imperfection . . . I conclude thence, that he shall not arise with that Complexion, but leave it behind him in the Darkness of the Grave, exchanging it for a brighter and a better, at his return again into the World.

--from Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black, pp. 258-59.

A few bad apples

It was just a few bad apples responsible for torture at Guantanamo. A few bad apples by the names of Cheney, Ashcroft, Rice, and Tenet:
Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned.

The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.

A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the meetings described them Thursday to the AP to confirm details first reported by ABC News on Wednesday. The intelligence official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the issue.

Between 2002 and 2003, the Justice Department issued several memos from its Office of Legal Counsel that justified using the interrogation tactics, including ones that critics call torture.

"If you looked at the timing of the meetings and the memos you'd see a correlation," the former intelligence official said. Those who attended the dozens of meetings agreed that "there'd need to be a legal opinion on the legality of these tactics" before using them on al-Qaida detainees, the former official said.

The meetings were held in the White House Situation Room in the years immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. Attending the sessions were Cheney, then-Bush aides Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The White House, Justice and State departments and the CIA refused comment Thursday, as did a spokesman for Tenet. A message for Ashcroft was not immediately returned.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., lambasted what he described as "yet another astonishing disclosure about the Bush administration and its use of torture."

"Who would have thought that in the United States of America in the 21st century, the top officials of the executive branch would routinely gather in the White House to approve torture?" Kennedy said in a statement. "Long after President Bush has left office, our country will continue to pay the price for his administration's renegade repudiation of the rule of law and fundamental human rights."

The American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to investigate.

"With each new revelation, it is beginning to look like the torture operation was managed and directed out of the White House," ACLU legislative director Caroline Fredrickson said. "This is what we suspected all along."