Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dammit New York!

I shouldn't be surprised when a politician decides not to follow up on a campaign promise, but this really irks me:
After a pledge from New York Democratic leaders that their party would legalize same-sex marriage if they won control of the State Senate this year, money from gay rights supporters poured in from across the country, helping cinch a Democratic victory.

But now, party leaders have sent strong signals that they may not take up the issue during the 2009 legislative session. Some of them suggest it may be wise to wait until 2011 before considering it, in hopes that Democrats can pick up more Senate seats and Gov. David A. Paterson, a strong backer of gay rights, would then be safely into a second term.


Mr. Smith, speaking about same-sex marriage at a fund-raiser for the Empire State Pride Agenda last year, was emphatic, saying, "We're going to make sure that happens in '08, when we take over the majority." He now avoids questions on the topic and instead gives a standard reply about the need to focus on the economy when asked about it.

Asked about when Mr. Paterson would like to see the Senate vote, the governor's communications director, Risa B. Heller, said, "For now and the immediate future we are focused on the state's fiscal situation."

Some people think it might not be feasible to pass the law now, rather than just be politically unwise to try:
Some Democrats are not even confident they have the 32 votes necessary to pass a same-sex marriage bill in the Senate.

The Democratic-led Assembly passed the measure last year by a sizable margin, but the Republican-controlled Senate declined to bring it to the floor for a vote.

And with a messy fight under way over who should be Senate majority leader — a fight threatening to fracture the thin Democratic Senate majority — even typically outspoken supporters of gay rights have become more measured about the issue.


Despite the fact that Democrats will hold 32 of the 62 Senate seats in the next legislative session, three dissident Democrats have not pledged their support for the would-be majority leader, Malcolm A. Smith. One of those senators, Rub&eacut;n D&iacut;az Sr., has specifically said he would not support a majority leader who would allow a same-sex marriage bill to come to the floor.


Zombie racist of the day

(Well, technically zombie racist of nearly four months ago)

The Virtuous Woman, who informs us that "Slavery Is Not Wrong".

The Bible tells her so, you see:
With the issue of Slavery Christians are often put in a corner because they are trying to defend God and at the same time the bible nowhere directly attacks slavery. The bible does not condemn slavery. So Christians try to act like Job's friends and try to defend God in a rather foolish way by condemning slavery, as if God forgot to do it Himself in the bible. I think this is a very unwise thing for a Christian to do because if slavery was wrong, God would have said so himself. But He doesn't say its wrong.

It's true, the Bible doesn't say slavery is wrong. That should be a good indication that the Bible is an antiquated product of barbarians, and it should be treated as such rather than as the quintessence of morality and virtue. But no, Christians like her start with their conclusions ("the Bible is the word of God, and God is the arbiter of morality"), and try to fit fit everything else into that. Ergo, atrocities like slavery, genocide, and child murder are good because God says so, and God is good. Well, those trying in any way to be consistent say so... the others just ignore all the horrible things God commands in the Bible. Or they don't know about it.

But I wonder if she just lifted her arguments straight from John Fletcher's Studies on Slavery. Compare this:
I understand that there is so much evil in slavery, when masters abuse their slaves. That is wrong. The bible condemns treating others in an evil way. So this is not the issue. But slavery in itself is not wrong. Just as husbands can abuse wives, does it mean marriage is evil? Or parents can abuse their children, does it mean parenting is wrong? Because masters can be evil to their slaves, it doesn't mean that slavery is wrong. Just as wives are to be submissive to their husbands, likewise slaves are to be submissive to their masters.

...If the bible would have condemned slavery then the gospel itself would have been robbed of its meaning on some way. If slavery is wrong, then wives should not submit to their husbands, children should not obey parents, women should became equal to men and preach in churches ( which is forbidden in the bible by the way), and mostly no one should call Jesus their master or submit to the authority of God.

with this:
Or will he venture to extend his argument, and say that the command of marital and filial obedience proves nothing in their favour; since we are commanded to yield a like obedience to the king, although that king be the wicked Phocas? The fact is, the mere character of chief magistrate, of husband, of parent or slaveholder, is quite distinct from the character which their acts may severally heap upon them. It is, therefore, quite possible for us to reverence and obey the king, yet hold in contempt the person who fills the throne.

Civil government, the relations of parent and child, husband and wife, and slavery itself, are all ordinances of Divine wisdom, instituted for the benefit of man, under the condition of his fallen state. But because these relations are in accordance with the ordinances of God, it by no means follows that the abuses of them are so.

Suppose those who wish to abolish the institution of marriage should present the same argument in their behalf which Dr. Wayland has in this case, it will surely be just as legitimate in the one as the other. But will not Dr. Wayland readily say that there is no parallel between the particular relations compared? We doubt not, he would consider it too stupid to even require refutation.

See? Slavery is okay, because if we had to treat all humans equally, that might also apply to women.

Or how about this?
Such men would fashion the traffic to suit themselves, and would, doubtless, make their business an exceedingly wicked one. But none of the enormities named, or that could be named, constituted a necessary part of the institution of slavery, or necessarily emanated from it. What enormities have wicked men sometimes committed in the transportation of emigrants from Germany and Ireland? Wicked men, intrusted with power, have, at least sometimes, been found to abuse it. Is it any argument against the institution of marriage, because some women have made their husbands support and educate children not their own? Or, because some men murder, treat with cruelty, or make their wives totally miserable and wretched? None of these things were any part of the institution of marriage, but the reverse of it.

Christian morality: stuck in the nineteenth century. Or earlier.

Via Pharyngula, via Evolved and Rat/i/onal.

[Edit] I am reminded of something else. The Virtuous Slaveholder says "I have had disagreements with some Christians as they say slavery is wrong, its as if they are implying that God forgot to put that in the bible, but i disagree."

Indeed! Well, let's not leave it at that--what else do people do that suggests God might have made a mistake? Oh, right: they believe in racial equality.
If God Almighty had intended these two races to be equal, He would have so created them. He made the Caucasian of handsome figure, straight hair, regular features, high brow, and superior intellect. He created the negro, giving him a black skin, kinky hair, thick lips, flat nose, low brow, low order of intelligence, and repulsive features. I do not believe that these differences were the result of either accident or mistake on the part of the Creator. I believe He knew what He was doing, and I believe He did just what He wanted to do.

We believe in God, and we are willing to accept His work just as it fell from His hands. But these people who profess to believe that "a white man may be as good as a negro if the white man behaves himself" are not satisfied with God's work in this regard. They are quite sure that they can make a better job of it than did the Creator, hence we find them attempting to remove the black man from the menial sphere for which he was created, and where he may be useful, to a higher circle for which he is entirely unfitted and where he is perfectly useless.


Return of denialism kills

Not just AIDS denialism, either. Vaccine denialism can kill. As can homeopathy and/or naturopathy:
A healing therapist died after a minor injury went gangrenous because his 'inner being' told him not to see a doctor, an inquest has heard.

Russell Jenkins shunned conventional treatment for his foot injury after he trod on an electrical plug at home.


Mr Jenkins, who ran the Quiet Mind Centre from his home in Southsea, Hampshire, injured his foot in December 2006 and developed an 2cm-long ulcer.

In April 2007, Mr Jenkins, a diabetic, sought alternative advice from homeopath Susan Finn, who suggested he treat it with Manuka honey.


Friday, November 28, 2008

You wouldn't think this would be constitutional

Oh, Kentucky. What are we to do with you?
Under state law, God is Kentucky's first line of defense against terrorism.

The 2006 law organizing the state Office of Homeland Security lists its initial duty as "stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth."

Specifically, Homeland Security is ordered to publicize God's benevolent protection in its reports, and it must post a plaque at the entrance to the state Emergency Operations Center with an 88-word statement that begins, "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God."

State Rep. Tom Riner, a Southern Baptist minister, tucked the God provision into Homeland Security legislation as a floor amendment that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved two years ago.

As amended, Homeland Security's religious duties now come before all else, including its distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and its analysis of possible threats.

The time and energy spent crediting God are appropriate, said Riner, D-Louisville, in an interview this week.

"This is recognition that government alone cannot guarantee the perfect safety of the people of Kentucky," Riner said. "Government itself, apart from God, cannot close the security gap. The job is too big for government."

So we should hope that God will do it for us? If he wanted to, wouldn't he do it whether or not we passed a law saying he would?

And really, why is protecting our state too big a job for the government? What is included in that duty that is beyond them? Just because you're too incompetent to do your job, and therefore have to leave it to your fairy god father, that doesn't mean that nobody is capable of doing it.

Anywho, I went on to Kentucky's website and did a search for "Almighty God" in the revised statutes, and got these two hits (warning--both PDFs): this appears to be the legislation referred to in the article. Entitled "Kentucky Office of Homeland Security executive director -- Duties -- Delegation of duties -- Notification of disaster or emergency", it states in part that
The executive director shall:

(a) Publicize the findings of the General Assembly stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth by including the provisions of KRS 39A.285(3) in its agency training and educational materials. The executive director shall also be responsible for prominently displaying a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state's Emergency Operations Center stating the text of KRS 39A.285(3)

This is the first duty listed.

The other hit I got was from 2002, and reads in part:
The General Assembly hereby finds that:


(3) The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln's historic March 30, 1863, Presidential Proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy's November 22, 1963, national security speech which concluded: "For as was written long ago: 'Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.' "

I think this is just a feel-good declaration rather than a law, but still--why are Kentucky's legislators so incompetent that they can't even protect their state by themselves?

Maybe because you can't take office in Kentucky if you've fought a duel? They don't have any experience in killing people / defending themselves! Quick, get these legislators a gun! We can let Kathy Stein and Tom Riner duke it out.

Via Pharyngula.

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Goldilocks Origin Myth Edition

I was planning on posting something else today, but since it's Native American Heritage Day, let's post something about Native Americans. But what? Hmm.

Well, to celebrate Native American heritage, let's post a racial myth of theirs:
Earthmaker made the world with trees and fields, with rivers, lakes, and springs, and with hills and valleys. It was beautiful. However, there weren't any humans, and so one day he decided to make some.

He scooped out a hole in a stream bank and lined the hole with stones to make a hearth, and he built a fire there. Then he took some clay and made a small figure that he put in the hearth. While it baked, he took some twigs and made tongs. When he pulled the figure out of the fire and had let it cool, he moved its limbs and breathed life into it, and it walked away. Earthmaker nonetheless realized that it was only half-baked. That figure became the white people.

Earthmaker decided to try again, and so he made another figure and put it on the hearth. This time he took a nap under a tree while the figure baked, and he slept longer than he intended. When he pulled the second figure out of the fire and had let it cool, he moved its limbs and breathed life into it, and it walked away. Earthmaker realized that this figure was overbaked, and it became the black people.

Earthmaker decided to try one more time. He cleaned the ashes out of the hearth and built a new fire. Then he scooped up some clay and cleaned it of any twigs or leaves, so that it was pure. He made a little figure and put it on the hearth, and this time he sat by the hearth and watched carefully as the figure baked. When this figure was done, he pulled it out of the fire and let it cool. Then he moved its limbs and breathed life into it, and it walked away. This figure was baked just right, and it became the red people.

From this page, in theory originally from the book Indian Fireside Tales by Dorothy Moulding Brown, which was also cited in Race: The History of an Idea in America.

I like to think of this as the Goldilocks theory of human creation. Blacks were cooked too long; whites were cooked too little; but Indians were cooked just right.

I wish I'd checked my e-mail sooner

Then I would've known that today is Native American Heritage Day!
It may be a small step, but a day meant to honor American Indians' contributions acknowledges a history and culture that many say is often overlooked.

For the first time, federal legislation has set aside the day after Thanksgiving — for this year only — to honor American Indians in the U.S. Few celebrations are planned this year, but backers say they hope to make the commemoration annual.

Frank Suniga, 79, of Salem, Ore., a descendant of Mescalero Apache Indians, said he and others began pushing in 2001 for a national day that recognizes his and other tribes' heritage.


Congress passed legislation this year designating the day as Native American Heritage Day, and President Bush signed it last month.

There's a bit of a question, though, of which day would be best. I think the day after Thanksgiving is a poor choice, myself, in that it would get overshadowed by everything else. But some advocates say that linking it with Thanksgiving, which is supposedly about European-Native American relations, is a good idea.
The Portland and D.C.-based organizations said they would support an annual commemorative day. It isn't certain, however, that all tribes would agree that the fourth Friday in November is the best day to recognize their contributions and traditions.

"The question is, should it be the day after Thanksgiving?" said Joe Garcia, director of the National Congress of American Indians. "Thanksgiving is controversial to some people."


Recognizing American Indians the day after Thanksgiving, the Native American Heritage Day Act of 2008 says, emphasizes the nation's relationship with tribes now.

"I think the recognition is important," Garcia said. "The most important thing it does is give a little more perspective from the American Indian side."

I hope they succeed in making this an annual thing. That would be great.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


This is old news, but I only just found out about it:
Interestingly, in September 1999, right around the same time as the Human Genome Project a retrospective study was published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure by Carson et al titled, "Racial differences in response to therapy for heart failure: Analysis of the vasodilator-heart failure trials." In this study, they analyzed data from two previous trials studying the use of ACE inhibitors, isosorbide, and hydralazine in the treatment of congestive heart failure. When the data was split apart by race, there was a statistically significant decrease in the response of African American patients to the drug enalapril, and a statistically significant decrease in the effectiveness of hydralazine/isosorbide in white patients. The conclusion of the analysis was that certain drugs respond better for some races than others. In response to this study, the drug carvediol was studied specifically in the African American and white populations to say conclusively that it benefited both groups equally, and this became a marketing point for the pharmaceutical company that manufactures carvediol.

This Wikipedia article has a little more info:
Isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine is a fixed dose combination drug treatment specifically indicated for black people with congestive heart failure. It is a combination of hydralazine (an antihypertensive) and isosorbide dinitrate (a vasodilator). It is the first race-based prescription drug in the United States. The combination preparation is marketed in the United States by Nitromed under the trade name BiDil.

Originally rejected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997, the combination preparation was approved by the FDA in June 2005 for black use only based on the results of a clinical study. It was already known that black individuals with congestive heart failure (CHF) respond less effectively to conventional CHF treatments (particularly ACE inhibitors) than Caucasians. The study by Taylor et al. demonstrated that isosorbide dinitrate with hydralazine reduced mortality by 43%, reduced hospitalizations by 39%, and quality of life markers in black patients with CHF.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"What did you learn in school today, dear little boys of mine?"

I learned that Robert Stacy McCain is a racist wanker. After recounting a "joke" about how all kids learn about today is Rosa Parks (I don't recall my math classes going this way, though: "What's the square root of 36?" "Rosa Parks?" "Good!"), McCain has to jump in with this:
The Historic Victimhood Narrative is virtually the only history or civics taught in American public schools today. "America The Beautiful" has been replaced by "America The Oppressive." Parents who send their offspring to these government-run indoctrination camps should be prosecuted for child abuse.

Apparently, teaching about people that were involved in movements that fundamentally and radically altered political and legal systems in this country that had been standing for nearly a century is bad. Why? Because telling kids about Jim Crow and slavery, that America did reprehensible things, amounts to "indoctrinating" them. Instead, we should completely gloss over anything bad that America has ever done so that kids get a completely non-biased education of how America is perfect and good and made of candy. Frankly, we do that all too much already. Sure, kids learn that there were slaves, and then there weren't, but then there was Jim Crow, until the '50s and '60s, but how much attention is paid to, say, the Philippine-American War, Manifest Destiny, and pretty much every other horrible atrocity committed by their country? Almost none, I'd wager.

Amusingly enough, McCain continued with an update:
Children are taught to reverence a pantheon of symbolic personalities whose biographies are didactically rendered in such a way as to ignore whatever fundamental reality might contradict their function as symbols.

Indeed! For instance, they're not informed that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slaveowners. They're not informed that Abraham Lincoln wanted to colonize the slaves in Africa. They're not aware that one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence thought that black skin was a form of leprosy. They're not aware of any of the racist attitudes all of our presidents held. But of course that's not what McCain had in mind, and the irony inherent in his words probably didn't occur to him.

Via LG&M.

Although I loves me some schadenfreude, this actually makes for a better birthday present

Remember that case I blogged about a few days ago? Well, the ruling came down yesterday, and the judge declared it unconstitutional:
Lederman, who overseas Miami's juvenile and child welfare courts, is the second judge this year to declare the state's blanket ban on adoption by gay men and lesbians unconstitutional.

In August, Monroe Circuit Judge David John Audlin Jr. wrote that Florida's 1977 gay adoption ban arose out of "unveiled expressions of bigotry" when the state was experiencing a severe backlash to demands for civil rights by gay people in Miami.

"Disqualifying every gay Floridian from raising a family, enjoying grandchildren or carrying on the family name, based on nothing more than lawful sexual conduct, while assuring child abusers, terrorists, drug dealers, rapists and murderers at least individualized consideration," Audlin wrote, was so "disproportionately severe" that it violates the state and U.S. Constitutions.

In her ruling, Lederman said children taken into state care have a "fundamental" right to be raised in a permanent adoptive home if they cannot be reunited with birth parents. Children whose foster parents are gay, she said, can be deprived of that right under the current law.

"The challenged statute, in precluding otherwise qualified homosexuals from adopting available children, does not promote the interests of children and, in effect, causes harm to the children it is meant to protect," Lederman wrote.

The judge added: "There is no question the blanket exclusion of gay applicants defeats Florida's goal of providing [foster] children a permanent family through adoption."

In a ruling that, at times, reads more like a social science research paper, Lederman dissected 30 years worth of psychological and sociological research, concluding that studies overwhelmingly have shown that gay people can parent every bit as effectively as straight people and do no harm to their children.

"Based on the evidence presented from experts from all over this country and abroad," Lederman wrote, "it is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent. Sexual orientation no more leads to psychiatric disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, relationship instability, a lower life expectancy or sexual disorders than race, gender, socioeconomic class or any other demographic characteristic.

"The most important factor in ensuring a well-adjusted child is the quality of parenting," Lederman wrote.

The state is appealing, so this isn't fully settled yet, but it's still nice.

Via Feministing.

Denialism kills

Gee, you ignore overwhelming scientific consensus on an important issue and things turn out badly. Who'd've thunkit?
A new study by Harvard researchers estimates that the South African government would have prevented the premature deaths of 365,000 people earlier this decade if it had provided antiretroviral drugs to AIDS patients and widely administered drugs to help prevent pregnant women from infecting their babies.

The Harvard study concluded that the policies grew out of President Thabo Mbeki's denial of the well-established scientific consensus about the viral cause of AIDS and the essential role of antiretroviral drugs in treating it.

Coming in the wake of Mr. Mbeki's ouster in September after a power struggle in his party, the African National Congress, the report has reignited questions about why Mr. Mbeki, a man of great acumen, was so influenced by AIDS denialists.


For years, the South African government did not provide antiretroviral medicines, even as Botswana and Namibia, neighboring countries with epidemics of similar scale, took action, the Harvard study reported.

The Harvard researchers quantified the human cost of that inaction by comparing the number of people who got antiretrovirals in South Africa from 2000 to 2005 with the number the government could have reached had it put in place a workable treatment and prevention program.

They estimated that by 2005, South Africa could have been helping half those in need but had reached only 23 percent. By comparison, Botswana was already providing treatment to 85 percent of those in need, and Namibia to 71 percent.

The 330,000 South Africans who died for lack of treatment and the 35,000 babies who perished because they were infected with H.I.V. together lost at least 3.8 million years of life, the study concluded.

Epidemiologists and biostatisticians who reviewed the study for The New York Times said the researchers had based their estimates on conservative assumptions and used a sound methodology.

"They have truly used conservative estimates for their calculations, and I would consider their numbers quite reasonable," James Chin, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Public Health, said in an e-mail message.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Best birthday present ever

Not only has Ann Coulter pretty much disappeared from view lately, but it turns out she won't be opening that hate-filled mouth for some time:
WE HEAR...THAT although we didn't think it would be possible to silence Ann Coulter, the leggy reactionary broke her jaw and the mouth that roared has been wired shut...


Monday, November 24, 2008

Next up: America

For federal gay rights legislation, that is. After all, Australia did it:
The Australian government has passed legislation recognizing same-sex couples under a large number of laws, but the measure falls short of granting either marriage or civil unions.

The omnibus bill mounted its final hurdle Monday, winning approval in the Senate. The legislation passed the House in September. It still requires the signature of the Governor General, a formality, before going into effect.

The Same-Sex Entitlements Bill removes discrimination against same-sex partners in areas such as immigration, taxation, veterans' pensions and aged care. It also abolishes discrimination against children of same-sex couples by granting equal rights to both parents.

In total, it amends 68 Commonwealth laws.


The word marriage has always been about unity, not gender

Alan Colmes, announcing that he's leaving the show Hannity and Colmes:
In announcing his decision, Colmes said, "I approached Bill Shine (FNC's Senior Vice President of Programming) earlier this year about wanting to move on after 12 years to develop new and challenging ways to contribute to the growth of the network. Although it's bittersweet to leave one of the longest marriages on cable news, I'm proud that both Sean (Hannity) and I remained unharmed after sitting side by side, night after night for so many years."

See? 12 years they were gay married, and nothing happened!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm glad the panda is recovering

D'awww... that's adorable!
A man has been attacked by a panda at a park in southern China, after he climbed into its enclosure hoping to cuddle the creature.

The 20-year-old student had ignored warning signs and scaled a two-metre (6.5ft) barrier to get into the pen.

State media say the panda bit him on his arms and legs, and he had to be rescued by the animal's keepers.

Speaking from his hospital bed, the injured man said the panda had looked so cute he had just wanted to hug it.


"Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him," he told Xinhua from his hospital bed.

"I didn't expect he would attack... I don't remember how many bites I got."

People should really learn that animals are not teddy bears.

Via Greg Laden.

Political hesitation to do the right thing irks me

More retired admirals and generals are asking for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
More than 100 retired generals and admirals called Monday for repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays so they can serve openly, according to a statement obtained by The Associated Press.


"As is the case with Great Britain, Israel, and other nations that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, our service members are professionals who are able to work together effectively despite differences in race, gender, religion, and sexuality," the officers wrote.


The list of 104 former officers who signed the statement appears to signal growing support for resolving the status of gays in the military. Last year, 28 former generals and admirals signed a similar statement.

Larson, who has a gay daughter he says has broadened his thinking on the subject, believes a generational shift in attitudes toward homosexuality has created a climate where a repeal is not only workable, but also an important step for keeping talented personnel in the military.

"I know a lot of young people now — even people in the area of having commands of ships and squadrons — and they are much more tolerant, and they believe, as I do, that we have enough regulations on the books to enforce proper standards of human behavior," Larson said.

The officers' statement points to data showing there are about 1 million gay and lesbian veterans in the United States, and about 65,000 gays and lesbians currently serving in the military.

Really, who could possibly think that preventing gays from being in the military--or rather, preventing the gays who are already in the military from being open about it--is a good idea?

Oh, right.

Via Ed Brayton.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Family values in action

I love it.

I feel so left out

Ed Brayton is so lucky... somebody sent him some racism! The KKK mailed some fliers in response to Obama's election, and a blogger scanned their copy. Now you can see that the "Marxist/Communist" includes equality for blacks, women, and gays, and that's why they have to be stopped!

(I wonder which Marxists / Communists they're fighting nowadays, anyway. Cuba? China?)

Why paranormal research isn't science

A group of "ghost hunters" want to search the Salem Witch House to find out if it's haunted--the name "Witch House" apparently being enough for ghosts to haunt it, despite the fact that the only relation it had to the Salem Witch Trials was that one of the judges lived there. I suspect any pagans still reading this blog are going to whip themselves into a frenzy of head-desking upon learning about one of the article's main proponents of the idea:
"I'm firmly convinced this house is absolutely haunted," said the Witch King of Salem, also known as Eric Fraize, a self-described warlock and "one of the highest-priced psychics on eBay."

Fraize suggested the Witch House to Spirit Finders as a likely hunting ground. Even the tenuous connection to the witch trials could mean restless souls still roam the place, he said, then, there was the exorcist who said the spirits of the witches followed him after he visited.

"Any 370-year-old house is bound to have generational memories," said Fraize, dressed in black and framed by the odd array of items on his mantel: skulls, statuettes of demons, a dagger, an oath to Satan signed in his blood, and a portrait of his deceased mother.

Indeed. A "witch" who signs an oath to Satan, and whose qualifications to talk about hauntings are that he prostitutes himself on eBay. Well, I suppose that's about as much qualification as one needs to talk about made-up fantasies.

Do they expect to find anything?
Fraize plans to accompany Spirit Finders to the Witch House, which the ghost hunters say they will investigate without charge. Andrews says that they've recorded electronic voice phenomena - that's "ghosts talking," to you and me - in other buildings. But Fraize is not promising that they'll find anything.

"If the ghost doesn't want to present itself, it won't," quoth the Witch King. "That doesn't mean it's not there."

In other words, if they find anything, the house is haunted. If they don't, the house is still haunted. Way to achieve falsifiability, there.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Invasion of the Booty Snatchers?

Apparently, the AFA has a new DVD out, entitled They're Coming to Your Town. "They" being gays, who apparently are not born naturally and grow up in towns all across the country (and indeed, the world)--one can only imagine that they spring up out of the cracks of the earth fully grown, in leather, and sporting a bad mustache. Or perhaps they have to climb out of the Stygian depths on their own, and in so doing sprain their wrists so that they are forever limp. Or perhaps they're reptilian aliens descending from the stars, infiltrating our cities to force gay people on an unwilling and otherwise completely heterosexual nation, thereby weakening our defenses and leaving us open to an invasion.

Feministing has put up a transcript of their commercial (as has the Friendly Atheist, with a few minor tweaks). They also have the YouTube video, so visit them if you want to watch it.
Man: They've come out of the closet.

AFA presents a look at how a handful of homosexual activists infiltrated the Eureka Springs, Arkansas government and changed the very moral fiber of the city.

Man 2: They're taking over a place that has been known for its Christianity.

Man 1: They branded us as fundamentalists, as Christian hate bigots -

Man 2: Once homosexual activists get into power, they're not too tolerant toward other people.

Learn the strategies used by gay activists and don't let this happen to your city. This DVD is a must-teaching tool - watch, and learn how to fight a well-organized gay agenda to take over the cities of America, one city at a time.

Man 3: If it hasn't happened in your town, get ready, because it is going to happen.

Show it at home, in Sunday schools, Bible studies and community groups. Purchase your copy, or a 5 pack to share with others today, and spread the news - They're Coming To Your Town.

Yes, once those evil homosexual activists get into power, they strip you of all your rights. How dare they! Don't they know that that power is reserved for Christians to exercise on them? They're getting it all backwards!

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Heartless Doesn't Even Begin to Cover It

And we here beg leave to remark that we shall, in all instances, draw our proofs from the enemies of the institution. We quote from Berbick's Notes on America, page 20, and reported in vol. xvi. of the Christian Observer, published in London, May 10th, page 109:

"I saw two female slaves and their children sold by auction in the street; an incident of common occurrence here, though horrifying to myself and many other strangers. I could hardly bear to see them handled and examined like cattle; and when I heard their sobs and saw the big tears rolling down their cheeks at the thought of being separated, I could not refrain from weeping with them."

This may have been very cruel in the white man; but who has ever heard of a negro in Africa displaying such a strength of tenderness and sympathy as here manifested? And how are we to account for it in this instance, if not by the regenerating influence of a few generations in American and Christian slavery? However slow the action, the condition of the mental faculties was improved and the moral condition ameliorated.

--John Fletcher, Studies on Slavery, pp. 156-7

...I've read some pretty heartless, callous, and frankly evil things from dead racists, but I really think this takes the cake. Slavery, according to Fletcher, is a net plus because it gets blacks to cry when we tear apart their families.

Coincidentally, I also mentioned the Hottentot Venus two years ago today

Providentia has a sobering post up about the "Hottentot Venus", Saartjie Bartman.

Via Greg Laden.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It only took them 8 years

But Congress might finally be ready to stop some of Bush's insane policies:
With the Bush administration on the verge of relaxing regulations protecting endangered species, Democratic leaders are looking at ways to overturn any last-minute rule changes.

The Bush administration has until Friday to publish new rules in order for them to take effect before President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in. Otherwise, Obama can undo them with the stroke of a pen.

A rule eliminating the mandatory, independent advice of government scientists in decisions about whether dams, highways and other projects are likely to harm species looked likely to meet the deadline, leaving the only chance for a quick reversal to Congress.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the House will be looking at ways to overturn the final endangered species rules and other one-minute-to-midnight regulations.


The rules eliminate the input of federal wildlife scientists in some endangered species cases, allowing the federal agency in charge of building, authorizing or funding a project to determine for itself whether the project is likely to harm endangered wildlife and plants.

Current regulations require independent wildlife biologists to sign off on these decisions before a project can go forward, at times modifying the design to better protect species.

Yes, let's let the company decide for themselves whether or not to go ahead with their project--obviously they'll have the best interests of the environment and animals at heart. I'm glad that Congress is looking into ways to undo this madness.

Your liberal media at work

CNN: "Bush has cooties"

Via Bob Harris


When it first released, there was some disappointment that Obama's policy website had very little to say about LGBT issues--nothing much beyond trying to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Well, it's certainly there now. The proposed policies are:
  • Expand Hate Crimes Statutes

  • Fight Workplace Discrimination

  • Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples

  • Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

  • Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell

  • Expand Adoption Rights

  • Promote AIDS Prevention

  • Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS

The third one there proposes to repeal DOMA and institute civil unions federally. It's not perfect, but it would be a damn sight better than what we have now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I've heard this stuff a lot; it galls me

Michael Savage says something racist--no-one is shocked:
During the presidential campaign, Savage repeatedly described Obama as an "affirmative action" candidate. For instance, Media Matters for America noted that on his October 27 broadcast, Savage said that Obama "benefited from affirmative action, stepping over more qualified white men, I actually lost as a result of affirmative action, many times in my life. ... [W]e have America's first affirmative action candidate about to become president."

Apparently Savage never heard about the last President we have. Bush was a legacy admission to Yale, gaining admission in part because his father and grandfather had attended, in spite of mediocre grades and SAT scores. He got into the National Guard, avoiding service in Vietnam, because of political favors from family friends, because he was white and rich. And though he of course denies asking for such favors, other accounts recall him boasting about them. His life was a long line of mediocrity and failure, but despite this he managed to climb higher due in large part to family connections. The notion that affirmative action is bad because it will push aside talented white people in favor of lackluster minority candidates is a joke, ignoring that mediocre, inexperienced, and untalented white people are given preferential treatment all the time.

Opposition to affirmative action like that Savage spouts stems mostly from the idea that jobs belong inherently to white people--that it is their birthright. Anything that dismantles such notions of white privilege must be attacked bitterly.

And this isn't even going into the rest of what Savage said, that because of Obama's election "there's gonna be a wholesale firing of competent white men in the United States government up and down the line, in police departments, in fire departments." Which completely ignores the picks Obama has made so far, but reality is anathema to people like Savage.

I won't be holding my breath 'til then

CalLaw reports that the California Supreme Court has agreed to hear the challenges to Proposition 8.
The California Supreme Court has agreed to take up the cases challenging the validity of Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state. The court announced it will not stay the proposition pending its decision.

The court will address the following three questions in the cases: Is Prop 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution? Does Prop 8 violate the separation-of-powers doctrine under the California Constitution? And if Prop 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Prop 8?

The court called for briefs to be completed in January, and reported that oral argument may be held as soon as March.


Gay rights aren't civil rights because gays apparently don't have rights

Well, this is a poorly-reasoned, vile screed attacking people who believe in equal rights. Let's take a look:
Homosexual marriage is not a civil right guaranteed by the Constitution - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are.

Oooh, a bad start. She's confusing the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution.
In fact, traditional marriage isn't even a civil right.

At least she's trying to be consistent, but she's only succeeding in being consistently stupid. Just because marriage isn't addressed in the Constitution doesn't mean that it's not a civil right. The Supreme Court itself has many times said otherwise--marriage is a fundamental right. To say otherwise is to prove how grossly ignorant you are--or that you're just lying for the sake of discriminating against people. Either way, it doesn't make for a good argument.
In San Francisco, signs of protest read: "Marriage is for everyone." No, it is not. With that logic, we could marry off children (say 8 or 10 years old) or "kissing cousins."

Apparently this writer's ignorance of the issue is worse than I thought. For starters, cousins can marry in certain states. Also, gay marriage wouldn't allow children to marry, because--the sign's literal meaning aside--all we want is to allow two consenting adults to have the same rights that other consenting adults have. Children can't marry because they aren't capable of consenting to something like that; nor can animals. [Edit] I couldn't think of the word before--I was thinking of "informed consent." [/Edit]
Marriage, as clearly defined through the ages, is between one man and one woman. You don't need a constitutional amendment for that - it is inherently implied commonsense.

No, it's inherent nonsense. Marriage throughout the ages has mostly been polygamous, when there has been marriage at all. Calling it "one man and one woman" is itself redefining marriage.
Another protest sign read: "No on Hate." Disagreement does not equate to hate.

True, but discrimination against a group usually does imply hatred of that group.
Opposition to homosexual marriage has nothing to do with discrimination and activists need to stop mixing the two. Whether a person's rights are violated based on discrimination is a wholly separate issue and should be handled that way.

This doesn't even make sense. Taking away a person's rights has nothing to do with discrimination? Since when? Oh, right--since gay people wanted their rights. See above about hatred.
Black civil and religious leaders - rightfully - have expressed outrage at the gay community's co-opting "civil rights" to include gay sex.

Hoo boy, here we go.
Blacks were stoned, hung, and dragged for their constitutional right to "sit at the table." Whites - gay or not - already had a seat at that table. There is no comparison.

Um, what? It wasn't until recently that laws were passed in many states preventing people from being fired for being gay--in some states that's still okay. Gays aren't allowed to serve in the military; they're not allowed to get married; it wasn't until five years ago that they were allowed to have sex. This writer is basically just trying to justify discriminating against gays on the basis that they haven't been discriminated against.

And adding in that "blacks were stoned, hung, and dragged" to obtain their rights... well, what of it? It's not as though gays haven't been killed, either (perhaps I'm being too hasty--given Wall's ignorance of everything else, she might not know about those). But let's think about this: she (among others) is basically saying that if you're not getting killed, you don't deserve your rights. So obviously, taking away black people's rights would be just fine, as long as you don't hurt them in the process.
Activists argue that, like skin color, gays don't choose their lifestyle. Even if, for the sake of argument, that were so, homosexuals are still "choosing" to get married. To compare voters denying what is not a right to blacks dying for what is - is beyond the pale.

Just like blacks were "choosing" to get white jobs? Or go to white schools? Or live in white neighborhoods? The exercising of civil rights is always a choice, and the civil rights movements were fought precisely to give people that choice, you insipid twit.

Since when could news articles describe people as "crotchety"?

Happy Birthday, Stevens.
Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in Senate history, narrowly lost his re-election bid Tuesday, marking the downfall of a Washington political power and Alaska icon who couldn't survive a conviction on federal corruption charges. His defeat by Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich moves Senate Democrats within two seats of a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.

Stevens' ouster on his 85th birthday marks an abrupt realignment in Alaska politics and will alter the power structure in the Senate, where he has served since the days of the Johnson administration while holding seats on some of the most influential committees in Congress.

The crotchety octogenarian built like a birch sapling likes to encourage comparisons with the Incredible Hulk, but he occupies an outsized place in Alaska history. His involvement in politics dates to the days before Alaska statehood, and he is esteemed for his ability to secure billions of dollars in federal aid for transportation and military projects. The Anchorage airport bears his name; in Alaska, it's simply "Uncle Ted."

Tuesday's tally of just over 24,000 absentee and other ballots gave Begich 150,728, or 47.76 percent, to 147,004, or 46.58 percent, for Stevens. There are about 2,500 overseas ballots yet to be counted.

A recount is possible. If the vote differential between the two candidates is more than 0.5 percent, either side can seek a recount if it posts a bond of about $15,000 to pay for a new tally.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"All Barack Obama proved is that racism never existed!"

Thank god Obama was elected! That surely proved that there's no more racism in the U.S.
Cross burnings. Schoolchildren chanting "Assassinate Obama." Black figures hung from nooses. Racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars.

Incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama are dampening the postelection glow of racial progress and harmony, highlighting the stubborn racism that remains in America.

From California to Maine, police have documented a range of alleged crimes, from vandalism and vague threats to at least one physical attack. Insults and taunts have been delivered by adults, college students and second-graders.

There have been "hundreds" of incidents since the election, many more than usual, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.

A related article notes that this election appears to have done wonders for the recruitment efforts of white supremacist assholes:
One of the most popular white supremacist Web sites got more than 2,000 new members the day after the election, compared with 91 new members on Election Day, according to an AP count. The site,, was temporarily off-line Nov. 5 because of the overwhelming amount of activity it received after Election Day. On Saturday, one Stormfront poster, identified as Dalderian Germanicus, of North Las Vegas, said, "I want the SOB laid out in a box to see how 'messiahs' come to rest. God has abandoned us, this country is doomed."


Monday, November 17, 2008

God loves gay marriage!

It's conclusive now. California rescinds the rights of gays to get married (so much for rights being "inalienable"), and it immediately catches fire. Proof that God loves gay marriage!

Some, of course, have other ideas... but he also blamed the last one on gays, too.

Although... wait. Let's look at what Hartline is actually saying this time:
Each time homosexual activists attempt to force their agenda on California, there have been raging, massive, incinerating fires sweeping across the California landscape.

So God hates freedom of speech? If gays open their mouths, he'll burn down the state? Yes! We have blackmail material! Give us what we want or Elton John will serenade a swath of fiery destruction across the land!

I don't know if I'm starting this blog back up or not

But I found that I couldn't resist commenting on this story. It's about a court case going on in Florida now over whether a same-sex couple can adopt a child--that's currently against the law in Florida. But, uh, they're having quite the time trying to justify that. To do so, the state has got two expert witnesses to testify that same-sex parents don't make as good parents, or that the environment is bad for children, or some such similar crap. As the state puts it:
Florida law bans gays from adopting. Valerie J. Martin, a Florida assistant attorney general who defended the statute, said same-sex couples are at far greater risk of many social ills, and "putting children who are already at risk into such a household would increase the stressors that these children already experience as a result of their placement in foster care."

Yeah. Being adopted by a same-sex couple is clearly worse than being in foster care or an orphanage or something. Those naughty, naughty gays.

Of course, at first blush, it looks like the expert witnesses might actually be experts in this area. They have impressive, and almost relevant, credentials in this area, at least:
At trial, the state's defense of the adoption law rested on the shoulders of two scholars -- George A. Rekers, a retired professor from the University of South Carolina, who taught neuropsychiatry and behavioral science, and Walter R. Schumm, an assistant professor of family studies at Kansas State University.

Impressive, no? And they were all saying that a household headed by gays would just be awful:
Rekers and Schumm argued that lawmakers were justified in excluding gay people from adoption because research shows that they are at greater risk of developing a host of impairments that can harm children, such as mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse, and the virus that causes AIDS.

Schumm testified that, based on research involving 2,847 children, the children of gay men and lesbians are far more likely to also become gay -- about 19 percent of children raised by gay parents, compared with 4 percent of children with straight parents.

Schumm said he was also concerned by a study that said that 47 percent of gay teenagers had seriously considered suicide, and that 36 percent had attempted it. "If a child is gay, lesbian or bisexual, this is, in some sense, a life-threatening issue," he said.

(As an aside, I'm not sure how that helps his case any... unless he's arguing in favor of banning gay teenagers, which he may be)
Gay men and lesbians have two to four times the likelihood of suffering from major depression, anxiety or substance abuse, based on several national studies, Rekers testified. Gay men, he said, are four times more likely than straight men to attempt suicide.

Depressed people, Rekers said, "are less consistent in their parenting, less positive [and] have higher rates of neglecting child needs." Gay people, he added, "would have less capability of providing the kind of nurturing and secure emotional environment for children."

The lives of gay people can also be stressful to children, Rekers testified. The children may experience teasing and bullying from other children who don't approve of their parents' orientation. And children with gay parents are likely to suffer from repeated separations because gay people are more likely to have multiple failed relationships.

Well, that's all technically true (except the idea that being raised by gay parents makes you almost five times more likely to be gay--I've never seen anything like that before, although it's true that kids of gay couples are more likely to experiment), but it also applies to people other than gays (recall my old definition of homophobia?). Groups that face institutional and society-wide discrimination are going to have more stresses than those that don't, and it wouldn't surprise me if studies indicated they had a higher incidence of mental illness, either. Are you going to ban blacks or other racial minorities, for instance, from adopting?
He said he would also consider banning Native Americans from adopting because research shows that they are also at much higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse. "They would tend to hang around each other," Rekers testified. "So the children would be around a lot of other Native Americans who are . . . doing the same sorts of things."


Well, that's... um... at least he's consistently horrible. Or consistent horribly.

You may also be wondering, since every reputable study shows that same-sex couples make just as good parents as opposite-sex ones, who these guys are that they came to conclusions that no-one else does. Your cynicism shall not go unrewarded!
Under cross-examination, Rekers, who also has a theology degree, acknowledged that he taught and practiced psychology from a Christian perspective, and had written books condemning social science that doesn't recognize "the moral laws of God."

"To search for truth about homosexuality in psychology and psychiatry, while ignoring God, will result in futile and foolish speculations," Rekers wrote in a 1982 book.

In 2003, Schumm also said in a scholarly article that social science could be used to spread the word of God. "With respect to integration of faith and research, I have been trying to use statistics to highlight the truth of the Scripture," he wrote.

One of Gill's experts, Susan D. Cochran, a professor of epidemiology and statistics at UCLA, accused Schumm of cooking some of the data he used to bolster his argument. "This is taught in first-year statistics," Cochran testified. "I was surprised he would do that."

And one of Gill's attorneys, James Esseks, criticized Rekers for relying on the scholarly work of Paul Cameron, chairman of the Family Research Institute, who was dropped from the American Psychological Association in 1983 after he declined to cooperate with an investigation into whether he had distorted research on gay people.

Uh, yeah. If someone relies on Paul Cameron, that's a good indicator that they're completely insane.

I should think this would be a very, very simple case for the judge.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's a sad day when I'm speaking out against cynicism

I don't really feel like starting this blog up again, but I didn't feel I had anywhere else to post this, and I really wanted to share it somehow.

Indiana went for Barack Obama--the first time it's gone for a Democratic president in 40 years--by a margin of around 26,000 votes (1,367,264 - 1,341,101).

As of writing this, North Carolina was still undecided because Barack Obama was leading by only 12,000 votes (2,110,322 - 2,098,452).

Missouri went for John McCain by fewer than 6,000 votes (1,442,613 - 1,436,745).

Ted Stevens is currently holding on to his Alaska Senate seat by fewer than 3,500 votes (106,351 - 102,998).

Norm Coleman is eking out Al Franken for Minnesota's Senate seat by fewer than 500 votes (1,211,629 - 1,211,167).

Gordon Smith may hold onto Oregon's Senate seat as he's currently beating Jeff Merkley by almost 12,000 votes (623,882 - 612,003).

And among the Representatives elected to Congress last night, or still struggling...
  • Bobby Bright of Alabama's 2nd district beat Jay Love by fewer than 1,800 votes (143,997 - 142,231)

  • California's 4th district is still undecided, with Tom McClintock beating Charlie Brown (no, really) by only 450 votes (155,771 - 155,320)

  • Walt Minnick became the Representative for Idaho's 1st district, beating Bill Sali (and thank the non-Christian god that Bill Sali so dreaded) by a little over 4000 votes (175,567 - 171,324)

  • Maryland's 1st district is still undecided, with Frank Kratovil edging out Andy Harris by 900 votes (160,915 - 160,000)

  • Eric Massa beat Randy Kuhl to become the Representative of district 29 for New York by around 4000 votes (131,646 - 127,232)

  • Virginia's 5th district is still undecided, with Virgil Goode ahead of Tom Perriello by 350 votes (158,466 - 158,103)

  • Washington's 8th district is also undecided, as Dave Reichert's lead over Darcy Burner is not even 1,500 votes (70,935 - 69,489)

Colorado's Amendment 46, which would forbid state government discrimination based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, is still undecided with a margin of a little over 14,000 votes (990,156 - 975,898).

In 2004, Christine Gregoire beat Dino Rossi to become Washington's Governor by only 133 votes.

One vote would not have tipped the election in any of these cases, it is true. But how many people do you think didn't vote in these elections because they believed that their "one vote wouldn't make a difference"? Tens of thousands? Thousands? Only a few hundred? That still would've been enough to turn some of these elections

The only vote that doesn't matter is the one that isn't cast.