Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: 1500 Posts Edition

I've had this post in mind for quite some time now, but even so I wasn't planning on writing it up this week. I had instead been going to make a quick post with just a quote that I found a while back.

However, as you may have noticed from reading the title of this post, or adding up the numbers on the right-hand menu bar, or by skipping to the end of this sentence, this is my 1500th post. An occasion such as this--which serendipitously occurred with a DRB post (no, I didn't plan this)--I feel demands something more elaborate than a quote thrown at you.

So join me under the cut, for cake and party hats!

Ha ha, I lied! There's only racism in here.

Specifically, I wanted to share something of a revelation that I had in the course of my readings. This is something that my readers may already be aware of, and some of you may in fact be shocked at my naiveté. When I attended school we learned about Jim Crow, about segregation, and about the Civil Rights movement in U.S. history classes. Time constraints naturally prevented us from broaching any subject too deeply, much less one as broad as the Jim Crow regime, so it was more or less a superficial treatment: "Blacks were separated from whites, until Rosa Parks sat on a bus and Martin Luther King went to jail." Or at least, that's about all I remember of class.

We didn't delve into the segregationist psyche at all, so I came out of class with the impression that all this happened--that segregation was made legal fiat--simply because whites (southern whites in particular) didn't like blacks. They in fact hated blacks; hated them so much that they couldn't stand for blacks to be around them. You might chalk this up to a failure of education, or a failure of my own imagination, but that was the belief that I had.

However, such was not the case. I'm not trying to suggest that Jim Crow laws didn't exist, of course. Rather, I mean that it was not nearness of blacks that whites hated, but equality of blacks, or even the impression of equality. Institutions that were labeled "Whites only" did not prevent blacks from entering, as long was it was clear that they were in a position of inferiority or subservience to whites. A whites-only restaurant or cafe might have a staff of black waiters or cooks. A black man could enter a whites-only library if he was checking out a book on behalf of a white patron.

[Edit 8/27/08]
I had read some time ago something to the above effect, but couldn't find it in time for this post. In the course of my research I found it again, so here 'tis. From George W. Cable's "The Silent South":
Visiting the principal library of the city, he was eagerly assured, in response to inquiry, that no person of color would be allowed to draw out books; and when a colored female, not particularly tidy in dress, came forward to return a book and draw another, it was quickly explained that she was merely a servant and messenger for some white person.


A black woman could enter a whites-only train car if she were the nanny or nurse of white children. Here's an important section from Peter Wallenstein's Tell the Court I Love My Wife, with him quoting from one of the briefs in Plessy v. Ferguson:
Another of Plessy's lawyers, James C. Walker, developed that approach. "A white man, married to a colored person, boarding the train has the right to enter and take his seat in the white coach with his black servant, if the servant be the nurse of his children; but the [mixed-race] children themselves . . . must occupy the colored coach, if the conductor please so to assign them." Meanwhile, Walker continued, "although the white man and his black servant, employed as nurse, may occupy the white passenger coach, not so is it permitted the colored wife." If traveling with her husband, she must travel separately from him, for "she is required to part with her husband at the coach door and take her seat in the coach intended for colored passengers." Walker concluded that "thus the bottom rail is on top; the nurse is admitted to a privilege which the wife herself does not enjoy, and which is refused to the children whom she is attending."

A black person could not enter the white compartment of a train as just another passenger, for that would put them on a level of equality with whites. However, if they were a white person's servant, then clearly they were not a white person's equal, and so they could be let onto the supposedly whites-only boxcar.

This was likely a holdover from the antebellum period, where blacks were (almost) always slaves and hence inferior to whites. Rayford Logan writes in The Betrayal of the Negro:
After emancipation personal contacts became social relations. The etiquette of slavery permitted, for example, a slave girl to travel as maid for her mistress on a train. The etiquette of freedom found it intolerable that a colored woman paying her own fare should travel in the same coach with a white woman.

Yet as we just saw, a colored woman could still travel in the same coach--again, as long as she were a maid and not a real passenger.

Just as slaveholders were okay with blacks being in the country as long as they were slaves (something that some opponents of slavery objected to--more on that in a later post), segregationists were okay with blacks being around as long as they were kept subservient to whites.

"When you ask me why I do not associate with a Negro," wrote a Texan in 1911, "I do not say it is because the Negro is poor and dirty and ragged and uneducated. I and all the white men I know and all I want to know object to a Negro because he has a black face and other physical characteristics of the race." It was "the presence of an undue proportion of negroes in the southern States" which created troubles of enormous proportions and threatened the peace, happiness, and prosperity of the section. And presumably the troubles would continue as long as the races lived together.

...or maybe not.


"The wheel turns, does it not, Ambassador?"

Even Microsoft executives can't get Vista to work:
Private Microsoft emails unearthed during a US court case have revealed that even the software giant's own executives struggled to get Windows Vista running smoothly.


One executive, Mike Nash, complained he was "burned" so badly by compatibility issues he was left with "a $2100 email machine".

Steven Sinofsky, the Microsoft executive in charge of Windows, struggled to even get his home printer working with Vista. In an email to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in February last year, Sinofsky outlined reasons why Vista struggled at launch.

He said hardware and software vendors never "really believed we would ever ship [Vista] so they didn't start the work [on updated drivers] until very late in 2006".

"People who rely on using all the features of their hardware (like Jon's Nikon scanner) will not see availability for some time, if ever, depending on the [manufacturer]," Sinofsky wrote.

Ballmer responded with a terse "Righto".

The "Jon" referred to is Microsoft board member and its former chief operating officer Jon Shirley, who experienced compatibility problems with his Epson printer and scanner and his Nikon film scanner.

He could not even get some of Microsoft's own MSN software products to work on Vista and refused to upgrade his other computer to the operating system.


Happy Brigadoon Day!

'Cause it only comes every couple a years, right?

...y'know what? Screw it.

Just remember, fellows, if a lady proposes to you today you must accept, unless you're already engaged. It's the law.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nobody hearts Huckabee

Huckabee insists he's not a homophobe:
Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee (who is looking more like Hucka-been in that contest) appeared on Tyra Banks' TV show and was grilled about his opposition to LGBT rights. He claimed to have had gay staff and said, "It's not like I'm some homophobe."

Isn't that precious? He's saying he can stand to have gay people work for him without trying to tie them to the back of his pick-up. Clearly, no-one who's a homophobe would have gay people working to get him the presidency, just like no racist would ever have a black friend.

I mean, where do people get the idea that Huckabee's a homophobe from, anyways? Because he supports amending the Constitution in order to deny gay people equal rights, claiming that this is what God wants? Because he says stuff like this?
I believe to try to legitimize that which is inherently illegitimate would be a disgraceful act of government. I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk.

Yes, Huckabee believes that gay people are aberrant, pestilent deviants whom God himself has decreed must be treated as inferior to straight people, but he doesn't run shrieking from the same room a gay person is in! Doesn't that count for something?

But wait, there's more:
He added, "I can disagree with people over a choice they make in their life or over a lifestyle and still be their president and still say I want to keep you free."

Ah, yes. Once again we have a figure passing judgment on gay people despite the fact that he doesn't have a clue what homosexuality is. It is an inborn feature of a minority of the population--while we are not yet sure of the exact causes of it, we have no indication that it is mutable (even so-called ex-gays admit otherwise when pinned down on the subject). It is no more a choice than being left-handed or being a natural redhead. There is no "lifestyle" inherent to being gay any more than there is one attached to being straight.

I don't understand why this is so difficult for people to understand.

At least it's not just America

Racism exists elsewhere, too!

Well, maybe. The news article seemed iffy about it, since the headline is "Outrage over 'racist' video"--why is the word "racist" in quotes? Is there any doubt that this
The home-made film, described as "shocking and disgusting", shows five laughing black workers taking part in a number of initiation-like rituals, including going down on their knees and eating meat a student had urinated on.


A narrative in Afrikaans indicates the recording was made in protest against a new university integration policy that would see black and white students mix more in residences.

"Once upon a time the boere (Afrikaners) lived peacefully here on Reitz Island, until one day when the less-advantaged discovered the word 'integration' in the dictionary," a resident of the once exclusively white Reitz men's hostel says on the tape, seen by AFP.

The video shows the workers - four women and a man - downing beer, dancing and participating in mock rugby practice, after which they are given meat to eat, which one of the students had been filmed urinating on.

The video ends with the words: "That, at the end of the day, is what we think of integration."

is racist?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


When last we checked in with "family values" district attorney in Texas, Chuck Rosenthal, who thought that letting gays have sex was unthinkable, was in trouble because of adulterous e-mails he sent coming on to his secretary.

And now he's been forced to resign! And is even facing lawsuits.

Schadenfreude is sweet.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Huckabee: still hates women

Huckabee seems to have problems with the concept of what it means to be human:
Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has endorsed an amendment to Colorado's constitution declaring that a fertilized egg is a person.

"This proposed constitutional amendment will define a person as a human being from the moment life begins at conception," Huckabee said in a statement backing the Colorado Human Life Amendment.

"With this amendment, Colorado has an opportunity to send a clear message that every human life has value.

Except for the women who actually have to carry them to term. They're no more than incubators.

And I rather liked this comment by LRM:
Ah, good old Creationist logic! They bristle at the thought that human beings might have evolved from single-celled organisms, then turn around and proclaim that single-celled organisms are human beings.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Racist attacks on Obama? Say it isn't so!

Mark Halperin thinks that McCain will have certain advantages over Obama that Clinton does not. Most if it a lot of bullshit that doesn't actually suggest McCain should try challenging Obama on policies (for instance, he thinks McCain could "Exploit Michelle Obama's mistakes and address her controversial remarks with unrestricted censure"--because his wife's comment is central to his campaign?). But some of them are more than just bullshit, they're racist bullshit. Halperin suggests McCain can, and by extension ought, to
Emphasize Barack Hussein Obama's unusual name and exotic background through a Manchurian Candidate prism.

Yes, since he has an "unusual name" and an "exotic background" (compared to what?), he must be a sleeper-cell terrorist Islamofascist!

Although it seems that Clinton's campaign has been able to do just that. I'm particularly incensed at the response from Clinton's campaign manager, Maggie Williams:
"Enough," Williams said in a statement. "If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.

"This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry."

What a crock of shit. No, making sure that photo got sent to the Drudge Report is an "obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today", since you clearly weren't winning when people are paying attention to them. His response to it, on the other hand, is an expression of tolerance of other cultures and a condemnation of the attitude that finds this picture to be scandalous. It is the exact opposite of divisiveness--it is inclusion.

Unfortunately, the Clinton campaign seems to have adopted the right-wing talking point that up is down in matters of race. As Dave Neiwert writes,
[T]hey'll tell us with a straight face that in transcending identity politics, Obama is in fact all about identity politics. Why, the Queen of Hearts couldn't have argued it any better.

Of course, we've been hearing variations on this schtick for some years: Efforts to overcome the effects of institutionalized racism, such as affirmative action, are in fact acts of racism themselves, we're told. Being intolerant of racists is just another kind of bigotry. And it's those minorities and their identity politics who are all obsessed with race -- why, whites (and especially white conservatives) are now perfectly color-blind, dontcha know?

So when Obama's campaign insists that one should be tolerant and acceptive of other cultures, including wearing the traditional clothing of a culture that one visits, that is "being divisive."

It's disgusting that the Clinton campaign has apparently bought into that kind of bullshit.

Haynes gone

Remember William Haynes, the man in charge of the Guantanamo trials but who insisted that "We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions"?

Well, he's apparently resigning.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Even the people bloviating about saving the institution of marriage from those icky gays don't believe that shit:
When Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality, approached John Tomicki of the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage with a question about gay marriage, all ears were on the exchange. Here's what transpired.

Goldstein: "You're still married after 50 years, right? So my marriage has not affected your marriage."

Tomicki: "Why would it?"

And thus our reason for making John Tomicki our hypocrite of the week. If the main argument of the religious right is that by making same-sex marriage legal we threaten the sanctity of all marriage, then the three little words Tomicki uttered in response to Goldstein effectively blow the entire basis for their standpoint right out the window.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: The Devil Made Me Do It Edition

I was planning on posting about something else this week, but since PZ has a troll with ideas like "Christianity never supported slavery", I figured I had to post about religious support of slavery. So I'm going to share with you excerpts from a pamphlet with the best title ever: A Dialogue Between an Abolition Croaker, A Citizen of Boston, and the Prince of Darkness. You can read it yourself here.

And yes, all those italics were really in pamphlet. The jerk.

Citizen. Very well; let us see as to that; you consider servitude or slavery to be a sin, I suppose.

[Abolitionist Croaker.] Yes, we do; and one of the most odious sins of the times: yes, one of the greatest curses and calamities that ever came upon our country or on mankind.

Citizen. Will you please to give me chapter and verse in the Bible that calls servitude, bondage or slavery a sin? Now I insist upon your answering this question fairly; do not try to evade it; but give me the language of the Bible on that subject.

A. C. I admit you have taken me by surprise on this point; and I confess I am not prepared at this moment to do it ... .

That's only page 2, and it already reads like a Chick tract dealing with evolution or something. "People who disagree with me couldn't possibly have well-reasoned arguments, so I'd better not include any in my propaganda piece."
Citizen. ... The Bible does not say [slavery] is a sin; therefore the mistake under which you are laboring so hard, is that you have, some how or other, "got the cart before the horse," and have mistaken the punishment for the sin itself; for the Bible informs us, in the case of Canaan and his posterity, that their punishment or condition ever afterwards should be that of servants of servants, the lowest grade of all; and this phrase, in the modern acceptation of the words, means slaves; and this condition was to be their punishment; yet their owners or masters may make themselves very guilty and odious in the sight of God, by their cruel and abusive treatment of their slaves; but in this matter those owners and masters are answerable to God for this their sin, and not to us.

I understand form the reading of my Bible that the decalogue does not call slavery a sin, although it was in existence at the time that ordinance was given to Moses, and promulgated among the Israelites; neither do I find it recorded as a sin by Moses, or either of the phrophets [sic], or the writers of the Old Testament afterwards; neither did the Lord Jesus when on the earth, or either of his Apostles, give any account or make any record of it as a sin; and the Bible nowhere, as I can find, says servitude, or slavery, is a sin; but it does say that it is a punishment for sin; yes, one of the most loathsome of all sins, which began in the unclean curiosity of Canaan, and in which his father Ham also participated; and which grew worse and worse in the successive generations, down to the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, when a pure and holy God could endure it no longer; then, as the Bible says, he rained brimstone and fire out of heaven, and overthrew all the cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

Now, let's have a big hand for... Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness!
Citizen. I repeat it, where is the man that would be guilty of such impiety? I venture to say there is not one, except he be found among the abolitionists and freesoilers of your stamp and character; and I believe that all this folly and iniquity on your part, is really a stratagem of the Prince of Darkness to bring about a civil war in our country; and as he has been waiting several minutes to say a word or two, in order to set us both right on this perplexing subject, if you please, I will ask him to tell us what he knows about it; and I hope you will give attention to what he has to say; for he is an old and experienced hand in things of this kind; and I think he will entertain us a few minutes very well.

Prince of Darkness. Gentlemen, I thank you for this opportunity now given me of saying a few words on this occasion; my privilege has always been to rule in darkness; to make men blind to their own best interests, and to the interests of all others, and then to tickle their imaginations with lying vanities, make them wise in their own conceits, proud of their own acquirements, full of self-esteem, and full of vain glory; get them to take evil for good, and good for evil, and always to "put the cart before the horse," in everything they do; this I always contrive to do with the abolitionists and freesoilers, which are some of my best friends, and have been so for many years. They have rendered me very important service in several particular cases; such as trying to make null and void some of God's decrees and ordinances concerning slavery and other things; and in order to have them continue to do thus, it is my policy to keep them, as much as possible, in darkness, on all subjects of this kind, and then to tickle and please their imagination with the idea that they are going to produce a wonderful revolution in our country in regard to the subject of slavery; afterwards I make them wise in their own conceits and very ambitious to accomplish the work of emancipating all the slaves in our states and territories [Apparently Satan's a citizen of the U.S. -- Ske]; having done this, I feel as if I had got them all well harnessed and ready for the great work ... .


Citizen. ... And now, Mr. Abolitionists, as I was saying, slavery is nowhere denounced in the Bible as a sin, but is represented as a punishment for sin, I will just call your attention to the days of Ezekiel, about four hundred and eighty years before Christ, where it is stated as a fact, that Javan, Tubal, and Mesheck, sons of Japheth, "were merchants and traded in the persons of men and vessels of brass in the city of Tyrus." Here the Prophet Ezekiel says not a word about slavery being a sin, any more than the trading in vessels of brass was a sin. And one of the commentators on the same portion of Scripture informs us that at that time the price of slaves was four drachms each. So you must see, I think, that you are working with the cart before the horse in this business, by taking slavery to be one of the most cursed and crying sins of the day, when in fact it is only the punishment for sin, and not the sin itself.


Citizen. I say nothing in favor of [slavery] but what the Bible says; I take my stand on the truths and declarations of that holy book; and it would be well if you and all other abolitionists and freesoilers had done the same; but no, it appears you had much rather flounder about in the darkness created by the Prince of Darkness, than accept of the plain Scriptural manner authorized by Christ and his Apostles for mitigating the sufferings of the poor degraded slaves; but these means are, in your approbation, and in your opinion are only fit for some superannuated old men or women to make us of. You would give freedom to the persons of the slaves only, and take them--body, mind and soul--into the same darkness in which most you abolitionists have been enshrouded by your dear Prince for many years past.

Here we see that slavery was defended as not only allowed by Christianity, but as a moral imperative. The reasons that this man considered it so may be unique to him, but you can find the same sorts of considerations among a lot of defenders of slavery. Slavery, they reasoned, was a way to convert the heathens to Christianity and hence save them. Thus it was not only allowable, but a moral good! In fact, on a much later page the pamphleteer makes his Mary-Sue slaveholder say, "[Saint Paul] shows us, most clearly, that nothing but their conversion to Christianity in connection with that of their masters and owners, will in any way mitigate their sufferings or make them a contented and tolerably happy people... ."
A. C. One thing is certain; I do not believe that the negroes of Africa and those of America ever were the descendants of Canaan or ever were in slavery until brought into this country.

Citizen. Why not? The Bible gives no account of any other family, people or nation, that were doomed to perpetual servitude or slavery to their brethren, and through them to all other people and nations who chose to possess them; now whoever endeavors to make them a free people, undertakes to counteract one of God's decrees and ordinances, just as much as he would if he undertook to change the color of their skin from black to white.

Here also we see that, though they claimed that slavery was moral and good, it still only applied to black people. The reasons for this were varied, but one of the main ones was that blacks were the descendants of Ham and/or Canaan, and hence God himself had made them perpetual servants to the descendants of Shem and/or Japheth, whichever it was decided white people were.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

America the flawless!

There's been a lot of discussion about Bill O'Reilly's latest offensive statement:
I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels -- that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that's legit.

Many people have discussed this in view of the fact that O'Reilly said he felt lynching a black woman would be an acceptable course of action if he felt she deserved it. Dave Neiwert at Orcinus discusses the issue, and there's an entire list of blog posts on the right-hand side of the Media Matters page.

Obviously that kind of suggestion is abhorrent. The suggestion that it is okay, or recommended, to lynch a black person is deplorable. But I found something else telling about O'Reilly's statement, too. He said,
If that's how she really feels -- that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that's legit.

Here we have the disgusting, senseless uber-patriotism of the right wing laid bare. They have gone beyond "America: right or wrong"; the mantra is now "America is never wrong." The merest suggestion that America is flawed, that it is anything less than perfect, is a crime worthy of organizing a "lynching party."

Certainly this has been hinted at whenever somebody uses the trite phrase "blame America first" to describe someone. To point out that America has done bad things, that we are still capable of doing bad things, that even if we enter into something with good intentions our enterprises can have unfortunate (to put it as mild as possible) consequences for people, is to "blame America." Obviously, this is used as an attack--to criticize is to be unpatriotic. But I do not think it has before been put forth as blatantly as O'Reilly did. We have gone from "to point out America's flaws is to be unpatriotic" to "to think that America has flaws is to be unpatriotic."

And worthy of grotesque mutilation and death, apparently.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

That goes both ways, sir

I found this article about gay marriage and civil unions in New Jersey. Nothing of breaking news import--pretty much the same as in my last New Jersey post--but I did find this comment very telling:
"In the end, the truth is, the homosexual lobby wants same-sex marriage for one reason - to use the power of the state to force heterosexuals to approve of homosexual activity and relationships," said Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R., Morris).

Which really means that you're determined to deny it to them simply because you disapprove of "homosexual activity and relationships."

That really puts the lie to every argument in favor of banning gay marriage that people try to produce. No, this issue is not about "saving children." It's not about saving Western civilization. It's not about preserving the sanctity of marriage. It's not even about preserving the definition of marriage. It's because people like Richard Merkt don't want to treat gays as equal to straight people. It is simple bigotry and homophobia that is codified into law--which is something that flies in the face of everything our country pretends to stand for, and which none of us should accept.

The "we're not bigots, but" oratory used to support these laws rings as hollow as when it was used to support antimiscegenation laws. Bah.

And now for some good news

Depending on how you view it, of course. According to a recent American Research Group poll, President Bush has only a 19 percent approval rate. That drops to 18% when you only include voters, and only 14% approve specifically of his handling of the economy.

As Attytood explains, this leaves Bush the least popular president ever. The previous low (I don't know actually how far back these polls go) was Harry Truman at 22% in 1952.

And yet, he's still not gonna be impeached and the Democrats in Congress will probably continue to roll over to any demand he makes anyways....


So much for the pretense of due process

Looks like the people imprisoned at Guantanamo won't even get that:
Now, as the murky, quasi-legal staging of the Bush Administration's military commissions unfolds, a key official has told The Nation that the trials are rigged from the start. According to Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for Guant´namo's military commissions, the process has been manipulated by Administration appointees in an attempt to foreclose the possibility of acquittal.


Then, in an interview with The Nation in February after the six Guantánamo detainees were charged, Davis offered the most damning evidence of the military commissions' bias--a revelation that speaks to fundamental flaws in the Bush Administration's conduct of statecraft: its contempt for the rule of law and its pursuit of political objectives above all else.

When asked if he thought the men at Guantánamo could receive a fair trial, Davis provided the following account of an August 2005 meeting he had with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes--the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department. "[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time," recalled Davis, referring to the Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, something that had lent great credibility to the proceedings.

"I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process," Davis continued. "At which point, [Haynes's] eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions.'"

"If we determine they're not terrorists," it seems the reasoning goes, "that will undermine everything we've done up 'til now and prove us wrong about declaring them terrorists. Since we can't allow people to think that we were wrong, we must find that they're terrorists--no matter what!" In fact, Scott Horton, a professor at Columbia University Law School, had much the same reaction:
"If someone was acquitted, then it would suggest we did the wrong thing in the first place. That can't happen," says Horton sardonically. "When the government decides to clear someone, it calls the person 'no-longer an enemy combatant' instead of just saying they made a mistake."

Now, if this guy were just a prosecutor, I think I could find that statement forgivable. Prosecutors are supposed to try and press their case as much as possible. But this man is also in charge of the defense:
Currently, in his capacity as Pentagon general counsel, Haynes oversees both the prosecution and the defense for the commissions. "You would think a person in that position wouldn't be favoring one side," says Colonel Davis.

And there's been other evidence that this is just a kangaroo court, too:
[Clive Stafford Smith, a defense attorney who has represented more than seventy Guantánamo clients] adds, "It confirms what people close to the system have always said," noting that when three prosecutors--Maj. Robert Preston, Capt. John Carr and Capt. Carrie Wolf--requested to be transferred out of the Office of Military Commissions in 2004, they claimed they'd been told the process was rigged. In an e-mail to his supervisors, Preston had said that there was thin evidence against the accused. "But they were told by the chief prosecutor at the time that they didn't need evidence to get convictions," says Stafford Smith.

All in all, it's been a sad seven years for the rule of law.

Via Atrios.

Gays are WMDs

We already know that gays cause wildfires, as well as tsunamis, tornadoes and hurricanes. But apparently they also cause earthquakes:
An Israeli parliamentarian said that several earthquakes felt in Israel recently were a consequence of gays and the parliament's acceptance of them.

Shlomo Benizri of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party, said the way to stop the tremors was for parliament to reverse its trend of liberalising laws concerning homosexuals.


"Why do earthquakes happen? One of the reasons is the things to which the Knesset (parliament) gives legitimacy, to sodomy," Benizri said during a parliamentary debate on earthquake preparedness.

A cost-effective way of averting earthquake damage, he added, would be to stop "passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the state of Israel, which anyway brings about earthquakes".

"Why do earthquakes happen?" Benizri asked. At which point, his fifth-grade science teacher wept from shame. Maybe he should re-enroll in grade school so he can learn about tectonic plates. And I'm astonished that he felt this was something that ought to be brought up during a parliamentary debate on earthquake preparedness. He didn't even wait for something even related to gay rights to bring up the earthquakes--no, so secure in his knowledge that gay sex "brings about earthquakes", he felt that the government should take this into consideration when preparing for them. As opposed to doing something sensible like trying to predict the next earthquake or building secure infrastructures.

Although, y'know, maybe he's on to something after all. I've heard that when you make love to a gay man, the earth moves. That's probably why California has so many earthquakes--not to mention that gaggle of gays in Indonesia.

[Edit 2/21/2008] Several members of the Knesset are apparently calling for Shas to censure Benizri and another homophobic MP in their party.

It's not often I get to use my "miscegenation" tag with my "politics" tag

[Edit] Howdy, everyone from LG&M! Pull up a chair, enjoy the post, and maybe enjoy some others. Or don't.

But as Balloon Juice highlights, someone at the Corner, the National Review's blog, thinks that the fact that Obama's parents were an interracial couple is evidence that they were Commies.
Obama and I are roughly the same age. I grew up in liberal circles in New York City — a place to which people who wished to rebel against their upbringings had gravitated for generations. And yet, all of my mixed race, black/white classmates throughout my youth, some of whom I am still in contact with, were the product of very culturally specific unions. They were always the offspring of a white mother, (in my circles, she was usually Jewish, but elsewhere not necessarily) and usually a highly educated black father. And how had these two come together at a time when it was neither natural nor easy for such relationships to flourish? Always through politics. No, not the young Republicans. Usually the Communist Youth League. Or maybe a different arm of the CPUSA. But, for a white woman to marry a black man in 1958, or 60, there was almost inevitably a connection to explicit Communist politics. (During the Clinton Administration we were all introduced to then U. of Pennsylvania Professor Lani Guinier — also a half black/half Jewish, red diaper baby.)


Political correctness was invented precisely to prevent the mainstream liberal media from persuing the questions which might arise about how Senator Obama's mother, from Kansas, came to marry an African graduate student. Love? Sure, why not? But what else was going on around them that made it feasible? Before readers level cheap accusations of racism — let's recall that the very question of interracial marriage only became a big issue later in the 1960s. The notion of a large group of mixed race Americans became an issue during and after the Vietnam War. Even the civil-rights movement kept this culturally explosive matter at arm's distance.

Excuse me while I choke to death laughing.


Okay, I'm better now.

As Too Sense highlights, this sort of crap ("miscegenation is a Communist plot") is old hat. In fact, here is just a small sampling of quotes I have to that effect:
  • There is the opening tirade in D.B. Red's "A Corrupt Tree Bringeth Forth Evil Fruit", from 1956

  • There's the pamphlet Jews Behind Race-Mixing in America, published in the late '60s, which had an entire section entitled "COMMUNIST PARTY FOUGHT FOR RACE MIXING"

  • In 1958, senator E.O. Eddins of Alabama denounced The Rabbits' Wedding for its miscegenetic message and declared "There are many other books of the same nature and others that are communistic which should be burned as well."

  • A 1945 FEPC report on an Indianapolis plant reported:
    Although its members have voiced very little opposition to the employment and upgrading of Negroes, and there has been surprisingly little racial friction in work situations, they have not yet reached the stage where they can face the social equality bugaboo with equanimity. They tend to feel that only people with communistic leanings openly favor such equality.

  • In 1954, Reverend G.T. Gillespie published a sermon entitled "A Christian View on Segregation" wherein by the third paragraph he rants about "the vigorous propaganda of Soviet Communism to bring about a world revolution and the breakdown of all national and racial distinctions and to effect the complete amalgamation of all races."

  • Tom Brady dedicated his booklet Black Monday--a screed attacking the Brown v. Board of Education decision--"to those Americans who firmly believe socialism and communism are lethal "messes of porridge" for which our sacred birthright shall not be sold."

  • In 1957 the Citizens' Council serialized a "Manual for Southerners" which included this bit of rhetoric:
    Our most famous Americans have believed in segregation. Do you think they did not go to heaven because Race-Mixers had not made them integrate? The people of the United States have always practiced Segregation. And their preachers did not believe they were sinful. Why is it suddenly sinful for us Americans to want to keep Segregation? If God believed in pure races, can't we believe in pure races, too? Or should we believe the Communist Race-Mixers? They do not believe in God at all.

  • In 1955, Zora Neale Hurston wrote "It was the come-on stuff. Join the [Communist] party and get yourself a white wife or husband."

  • And of course Theodore Bilbo wrote in Take Your Choice (1947),
    The destruction of all racial barriers is one of the chief aims of those in the United States who are branded as communists. They would abolish segregation and establish in its place the doctrine of social equality and intermarriage of the races.

This sort of attack goes back even further, though--all the way to the 1850s and before. Slaveholders would often insist that their slaves were content with being robbed of any human rights and treated as property; yet there was this undeniable reality of these content slaves--for whatever reason--running away. Or trying to organize a rebellion and murder their masters. Slaveholders would wave this away by insisting that, left alone, blacks really didn't mind being enslaved--it was only when outsiders came and filled their heads with evil thoughts that they might actually deserve their freedom. It was only when people from outside the South--northerners, abolitionists--came and whispered sweet lies into black ears that their loving (and beloved) slaves would ever get these radical ideas. Thomas Brown, in his article "The Miscegenation of Richard Mentor Johnson as an Issue in the National Election Campaign of 1835-1836", describes a typical example from 1835:
Also attuned to Southerners' anxieties was the argument that Johnson's behavior, if given public sanction by his election to the vice presidency, would encourage blacks to revolt for equality. This argument played upon a seeming inconsistency that plagued many whites in the South: while they argued--and wanted to believe--that African Americans were inherently subservient, they also worried that blacks shared whites' love of liberty and equality. The slightest blurring of racial lines might, they feared, prompt an insurrection of slaves and free blacks. Virginius thus wrote that nothing prevented the black man from becoming insubordinate but a consciousness that "nature has placed an impassable barrier between him and those higher objects, the hope of which might be worth a struggle." But what would happen, he asked, if blacks were to see "bevies of mulattoes" charioting along Pennsylvania Avenue, with "offices and honors" offered as their dowries, and ministers of state told that "the tenure of their office, depends on their acquiescence in a new code of fashion"? "There is a good precedent for this," Virginius added, alluding to the Peggy Eaton affair. But in the Eaton contretemps, all that was needed to dispel Peggy's purported "immorality" had been a display of feminine virtue by the wives of members of Jackson's cabinet. African Americans, however, were "waiting to be corrupted" by the hope or promise of equality, which was like a "firebrand to be hurled into a magazine of gunpowder." Lest his readers suspect that he had suggested that slaves had reason to be restive and dissatisfied, Virginius added a reassuring footnote to his letter. In it, he asserted that slaves were inherently loyal and supportive of the slave regime--far more devoted, in fact, than white working men. His fear, rather, was that slaves might be made rebellious by Northern "philanthropists" who loved them in the abstract, from a distance, and did not understand Southern society. How such abstractionists could succeed at agitating devoted slaves into rebellion he did not explain.

And after slavery, the theme continued. An article in the April, 1899 Arena wrote:
Dr. D. W. Culp thinks differently. He is a negro, lives in the south, and knows better. Such a fusion will never, for one moment, be thought of there, by either white or black. The decree against it has been entered and signed, as if by Almighty God, and no power on earth nor in heaven will ever change it. Centuries may come and centuries may go, and agitators may preach and fanatics may howl, but it will not be altered.

People who live in the south simply know that miscegenation won't happen, though unnamed "agitators may preach." Though it may not have been abolitionists or communists, someone from outside the South was bound to be stirring things up.

Historian I.A. Newby, in his book Jim Crow's Defense: Anti-Negro Thought in America, 1900-1930 described the same form of thinking:
If Negroes preferred segregation, if they had no desire to intermarry with whites, if thoughts of "mixing" never entered their minds unless planted by agitators, were social equality and promiscuous mingling really imminent? Although the premises of the question were correct, replied racists, the answer was "yes." Most Negroes, they explained, were naturally docile and readily accepted their place in society. But they also possessed a spark of animalism which was easily ignited by promises of equality. They were, in short, too easily aroused, and to relax social controls over them was to invite disaster. Years of bondage and subordination had made them contemptuous of their race, and they were strangers to the instinct of race purity. Their fondest desires were to marry white women and to reappear in a blended race with their kinks straightened, their odor dispelled, and their color bleached.

Thus, racists had things both ways. The Negro had no desire for social equality--but demagogues and agitators might create such a desire by exciting his baser animal instincts. In those instincts, they felt, was the potential for destroying racial purity, and to restrain them was the chief object of Southern race policy.

This insistence that, despite their sickeningly abysmal track record, if you just left the welfare of southern blacks to local people, people who "understood" the situation, then things would go fine. It was only when those blasted outsiders interfered that there was any trouble, which of course had to be put down violently. The idea that they ought to be left to do whatever they want, and anything else is meddling at best or tyranny at worst, lasts even today.

However, there actually is a smattering of reality in the Obama article. Many civil rights organizations avoided fighting against anti-miscegenation laws for a couple reasons: (1) It wasn't likely to work. Anti-miscegenation laws had been around since the 1600s and survived numerous court cases. It didn't really seem like the next court case would do the trick, and if it failed then that just left one more precedent for the next court to follow. (2) Many whites insisted that blacks' real goal was, in fact, intermarriage--and their desire to prevent that was why the fought so strongly to keep segregation intact. If civil rights organizations started actually going after anti-miscegenation laws, then that would only confirm the segregationists' greatest fears, possibly riling them to even greater levels of resistance. (3) They didn't really care. Blacks faced discrimination in transportation, in jobs, in cafes, in hotels, in buying houses, in buying cars, in every facet of American life. Interracial marriage just wasn't that big a priority for them.

So, it is true that most civil rights organizations didn't really fight too hard against anti-miscegenation laws. It is also true that the Communist party was a lot more permissive of such things than the rest of society. The Communist party actively courted blacks, and its platforms were dedicated to promoting racial equality--which helped the above accusations that miscegenation was all a communist plot.

However, the notion that "for a white woman to marry a black man in 1958, or 60, there was almost inevitably a connection to explicit Communist politics" is just fucking absurd. For one, by 1958 only 24 (of 48) states had anti-miscegenation laws left on the books, down from 30 ten years earlier. In 1960 (the actual year Obama's parents married) that number was 22 of 50. The opposition to miscegenation was decreasing by then. And second of all, it was never true that only Communists had interracial marriages. Interracial marriages happened whenever people of different races met and fell in love, and they had a lot more options of meeting places than just the local Communist party shindig (Obama's parents met at a college in Hawaii, which I should note never had an anti-miscegenation law). People got married even in spite of intense societal opposition--note that Obama's paternal grandfather didn't approve of the marriage, but they went ahead with it anyways.

But finally, I ought to say... who the fuck cares? Really, why did I waste all that time on this idiocy? Oh god, Obama's parents once read the Communist Manifesto in class! This affects his policies how, exactly? As Ed Brayton noted,
At some point, you'd think the right wing would put away this "communist" slur. Does it really work on anyone with an IQ over room temperature?


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gays still not welcome in Tennessee

Or so it would seem:
Members of Tennessee's LGBT community spent most of the day lobbying lawmakers successfully helping derail one bill and voicing strong concerns about another that would severely restrict gay rights in the state.

The derailed bill would have barred elementary and secondary schools from "any instruction or materials discussing sexual orientation other than heterosexuality". The other would ban unmarried couples from adopting or becoming foster parents.


Teachers should neither be promoting nor speaking against homosexuality, [Stacey] Campfield told the Tennessean newspaper.

"They should not talk about it all," Campfield said. "Leave it up to families to talk about it."

And... why is that? School is about informing people and helping to prepare them for their adult lives. Why should we inform them of heterosexuality but not homosexuality? That is, why should we only provide information that will help a select group of people in their lives, and completely ignore all the other people--people who, quite frankly, probably need information and assurances much more than the people you're willing to talk about.
The adoption ban, meanwhile, is advancing in the legislature. While the measure does not bar single people, gay or straight, from adopting or fostering, couples would have to be legally married.


[Attorney General Bob] Cooper in his legal opinion said that under current state law anyone 18 years of age or older may adopt, assuming the adoption is found to be in the best interest of the child."

"There is no prohibition in Tennessee statutes against adoption by a same sex couple," he said.


Socially conservative groups that won a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage say that if the legislature does not pass an adoption bill they will begin collecting signatures for a constitutional amendment barring gays from adopting in the Tennessee.

For the children, right? Nothing says you love children like making sure they rot in orphanages rather than get adopted by fit parents.

Defending our freedom to deny freedom to others!

That's what tickles me about Confederacy defenders like "haystack" there.
The Confederate flag might have flown over some dark days of this republic, but that's not to suggest that the ideals of the Confederacy, beyond the darkness of slavery, should be lost in the translation. That flag flew to represent an America that stood up for a people and a belief that a Federal Government had no place in deciding the business of the States' right to determine their futures.

That is, they defend the Confederacy as a group of people fighting to defend their autonomy, their freedom from outside interference, their "right to determine their futures" as this guy puts it... and completely gloss over, or dismiss as not so bad, the fact that the Confederacy was robbing tens of millions of people of their autonomy, freedom from outside interference, and right to determine their futures.

'Cause after all, only white Southerners have the "right to determine their futures". Black Southerners, not so much.

Well, fuck

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a case over Bush's warrantless, domestic spying program. While technically this doesn't mean legal approval, in reality it means that the lower court's ruling--wherein the case was thrown out because of a lack of standing to sue--is allowed to stand.

In effect, Bush is allowed to continue to break the law because he refuses to release information about his illegal activities.
The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a challenge to the warrantless, domestic spying program operated by the Bush administration, in a case originally brought in Detroit by a group of academics, lawyers, journalists and recent immigrants.

The justices' decision, issued without comment, is the latest setback to legal efforts to force disclosure of details of the warrantless wiretapping that began after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We're disappointed," said Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU-Michigan, which represented plaintiffs in the case. "We believe that the issues were so important that the Supreme Court needed to review it. But this isn't over yet."


The American Civil Liberties Union wanted the court to allow a lawsuit by the group and individuals over the wiretapping program. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs could not prove their communications had been monitored.

That legal issue, known as standing, had hectored the challenge to the Bush administration's program from the moment the case was filed, according to many legal observers on both sides of the issue. To bring a lawsuit, plaintiffs in a case must show that they have been harmed. With few details about the warrantless spying program known, the plaintiffs had difficulty establishing that they had been harmed.

The government has refused to turn over information about the closely guarded program that could reveal who has been under surveillance.


ACLU legal director Steven R. Shapiro has said his group is in a "Catch-22" because the government says the identities of people whose communications have been intercepted is secret. But only people who know they have been wiretapped can sue over the program, Shapiro has said.


Monday, February 18, 2008

People hate Clinton, so we have to vote for Obama!

Or so goes the idea. People remember the horrible, mindless attacks on the Clintons in the '90s, and recognize the same sort of shameless slander at work in the primaries now, and conclude: "People--right or wrong--have an irrational hatred of anything Clinton. Therefore, Hillary Clinton will not be able to become president, so Democrats should nominate Obama instead."

But as Dave Neiwert notes, "If Obama is in fact the nominee, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Clinton Rules will be applied to him as well." It's not something special about the Clintons that attracted all this vituperation, and there's nothing special about Obama that will make him immune to it.

As proof, you can read two posts from Ed Brayton today about insane right-wing attacks against Obama: one saying Obama is equivalent to Hitler; and the other that he's a communist.

Then there are all the bizarre delusions that have already become media talking points: he went to a madrassa; he's really a Muslim; he won't wear a flag lapel; he doesn't put his hand over his heart during the national anthem; and more.

And finally there are those who attack him for daring to have the middle name Hussein or a last name that rhymes with Osama.

So in short: to hell with choosing a nominee based on who elicits less of a visceral reaction from certain segments of the population right now. By the time the actual election rolls around, you'll have people who would rather kill their own mother than vote for the Democratic nominee, whoever it is, because this is what the right-wing noise machine does.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A post!

I found this post and wanted to highlight it because it's a review of a book that deals with one of my brother's favorite things in the world: cognitive dissonance.

We've been saying this all along!

Guess what? Separate but equal still isn't equal:
A commission established to study same-sex civil unions in New Jersey has found in its first report that civil unions create a "second-class status" for gay couples, rather than giving them equality.

The report stops short of recommending that the state allow gay marriage. But it does find that gay couples in Massachusetts, the only state that now allows same-sex marriage, do not experience some of the legal complications that those in New Jersey do.


The activists say civil unions, in practice, do not offer the legal protections that marriage does. The commission largely agreed with them.

The commission held three public hearings last year at which the majority of the testimony came from people who were in civil unions and said they were still not being treated the way married couples are by government agencies, employers and others.

For instance, the commission found that many companies in the state that are self-insured - and therefore are regulated by federal, rather than state, law - refuse to provide health insurance to the partners of their employees.

While employers in Massachusetts could legally do the same thing, most do not, according to the report.

The commission also finds that many people in the state do not understand civil unions, which create a "second-class status."

The commission's report says the misunderstanding of civil unions makes it more difficult for a child to grow up in New Jersey with gay parents, or to be gay themselves.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Maryland marriage meeting

A Maryland Senate committee the other day considered the issue of marriage, with people arguing for or against allowing gay marriage.
Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage clashed before a Maryland Senate committee yesterday, with traditionalists invoking religious convictions and gay rights advocates describing their cause as a civil rights struggle.

So on the one hand we have people who want to be treated as human beings, with the same rights and dignity afforded any other person. And on the other hand we have people who think that the freedom to practice their religion means preventing other people from getting married.

And yet people think this is a tough issue. Sure, equal rights versus a desire to impose one's religious views on others--that sounds like the two sides are perfectly balanced.

Fortunately, the Maryland Attorney General thinks otherwise:
The lengthy hearing, which drew dozens of speakers on both sides of the most divisive social issue the General Assembly will take up this year, was headlined by Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), who became Maryland's first elected statewide official to endorse legislation allowing same-sex marriage.

Gansler's office had successfully defended the state against a lawsuit by gay couples who sought to overturn a law prohibiting same-sex marriage. But yesterday, the former prosecutor from Montgomery County called same-sex marriage a "moral imperative" and a "basic matter of fairness."

"This bill is fundamentally about equality," Gansler told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. "It would be wrong for me to have this job knowing there's something so wrong in our society and just ignore it." He said qualms about same-sex unions seem to be limited to older people: "For the younger generation, this is a non-issue."

Woot! We have him and a bunch of legislators in favor of gay marriage (or at least civil unions), so maybe they'll even get something passed.

But let's see what the people against the idea of equality have to say for themselves.
Bill Wingard of Timonium, speaking against same-sex marriage, told lawmakers he went to a therapist who thought he was a "suppressed homosexual" before he married a woman and had five children.



I guess in context that might have been related to some kind of point he was trying to make? Maybe he was saying that people thought he was gay, but he wasn't (I mean, no repressed gay man would ever marry a woman, would he?), and therefore... what? Therefore gay people don't really exist? They would be better off marrying women?

Although, actually, I rather enjoy the moral of his story. He achieved happiness in marriage, therefore he won't let other people do the same.

Err... next!
Many supporters of traditional marriage said opening the institution to same-sex unions would diminish it. They said the Bible's teachings led them to a conviction that marriage must be between a man and a woman.

Yep. The Bible says that marriage must be between a man and a woman... and another woman... and lots more women (with some concubines on the side).

Of course, when people note that the Bible says that marriage must be between a man and a woman, I wonder why they don't note that the Bible is much more specific than that. It's not really between any one man and any one woman--it's between any one man and a virgin woman. If the woman's not a virgin at the time of her marriage, she has to die. So why don't we enshrine that in state constitutions?
"When the name 'marriage' can be stamped on any romantic entanglement, it loses all meaning," said Dean Nelson of Gaithersburg, director of the Network of Politically Active Christians.

Okay. How's that?


Still waiting...

Ding! Time's up.

Besides, it's not "any romantic entanglement", you addle-pated twit. It is a union between two people who wish to make their romance official and permanent. How the hell does that make 'marriage' lose meaning? It's a lot more meaningful than 'any one man and one woman.'
Raskin and Madaleno were challenged by two Republicans on the committee, Alex X. Mooney (Frederick) and Bryan W. Simonaire (Anne Arundel), to defend polygamy if they believe in marriage equality for every group.

"Why are we taking this one group of people and saying we want equality just for them?" Simonaire asked. Madaleno called the question a "red herring."

Well, for one thing, this is about gay people being denied the right to get married. What class of people is being denied that right in the case of polygamy? It's absurd to say that you're being denied the right to marry when the obstacle is that you're already married.

But these people are brown, not yellow, so it's completely different

Dave Neiwert has an excellent post up that debunks the myths--or "popular delusions", as he dubs them--surrounding the immigration debate. I notice that many of these attacks are recycled from previous attacks on foreigners who dare try to upset the fantasy homogeneity of America.

For instance, number 6 on Mr. Neiwert's list is the idea that "Illegal immigrants bring disease to American shores." Well, Nayan Shah (faculty at U.C. San Diego) wrote a book entitled Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco's Chinatown. The blurb on his faculty page describes it thus:
Contagious Divides charts the dynamic transformation of representatives of Chinese immigrants from medical menace in the nineteenth century to model citizen in the mid-twentieth century. Public health authorities depicted Chinese immigrants as filthy and diseased, as the carriers of such incurable afflictions as smallpox, syphilis, and bubonic plague. This resulted in the vociferous enforcement of sanitary regulations on the Chinese community. But the authorities did more than demonize the Chinese; they also marshaled civic resources that promoted sewer construction, vaccination programs, and public health management. Chinese Americans responded to health regulations and allegations with persuasive political speeches, lawsuits, boycotts, violent protests, and poems. Chinese American activists drew upon public health strategies in their advocacy for health services and public housing. Adroitly employing discourses of race and health, these activists argued that Chinese Americans were worthy and deserving of sharing in the resources of American society.

Here's a review of the book.

Of course, that one isn't limited to immigration--slandering a group of people as pestilent is a standard defamatory tactic, just like declaring them animalistic or subhuman.

Number 7 on Neiwert's list is that "These new Latino immigrants don't want to learn English and are reluctant to assimilate." So I'll point to a post of his from four, five years ago, which includes this reconstruction of a committee meeting:
"I am coming now to certain recommendation I want to suggest to you for consideration, which in view of your own background and training you may at first find it difficult to accept or even clearly understand, but I think we should face these things frankly," Freeman said. "These are not suggestions of the committee, but of myself.

"1. You should sever all connections with the Japanese Government -- that includes disbanding any pro-Japanese organizations designed to promote the Imperial Japanese government interests. There can't be any half-and-half business -- must be 100 percent.

"2. Stop all relationships with Japanese consular representatives.

"3. Stop using the Japanese language."


"May I ask now," Freeman queried, "what was the purpose of running those schools and the older people requiring that the younger people go to the Japanese schools?"

"Just teach them the Japanese language, that is all," Hayashi explained. "No other purpose, I think."

"Our feeling is that they were propaganda schools to teach loyalty to the Japanese empire," Freeman said. "I think we should stop all Japanese-language newspapers and publication in this United States of America. English is the language of this country. Use English and English papers."


Hayashi tried to explain why the Issei found the language so hard: "Japanese language is entirely different from other nations" and it is awfully hard for people to get mastery of it."

"English language is not hard to learn," replied Freeman.


Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Blasphemy Edition

I wasn't planning on using this quote this week. But since I said "It is kind of amazing to see just how far racist rhetoric goes", I thought I ought to give an example of truly outrageous racist rhetoric.
Tom Watson of Georgia said that the Negro simply has "no comprehension of virtue, honesty, truth, gratitude and principle." The South had "to lynch him occasionally, and flog him, now and then, to keep him from blaspheming the Almighty, by his conduct, on account of his smell and his color." Lynch law was "a good sign"; it showed "that a sense of justice yet lives among the people."

--Thomas Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America, pp. 271-72

Yep. Apparently a Negro's "smell and ... color" are blasphemy.

So much for the black homophobes who declare that comparing civil rights for gays to civil rights for blacks is invalid because "being black isn't a sin."

I also feel I ought to mention that I, truly unfortunately, have been unable to find the original source for this. Gossett cites Tom Watson's Weekly Jeffersonian magazine; unfortunately, the only copies of a Jeffersonian magazine I've been able to find were monthlies, and were apparently entirely about how much Watson hated Catholics (or "papists").

Thursday, February 14, 2008

This is not for you

Just wanted to say "Happy Valentine's Day!" to my reader in the U.K. who apparently went through my entire archive of posts.

Thanks, fellow. You totally increased my page views and average visit length.

The rest of you can go to hell.

Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic

Or at least a romp in the grass.
Everything was on the table -- more accurately, on a video projector -- at Miami Metrozoo's Sex and the Animals event, a Valentine's Day tradition.

Hosted by zoo ambassador Ron Magill, the popular lecture attracted more than 400 people to see and hear the intimate details of how wild things do the wild thing.

"This is the fifth time in a row this thing has sold out," Magill said. "And I'll tell you why -- everybody wants to hear about sex."


He clicked through dozens of images -- all photos he shot on African safaris and other excursions -- of animals in the act.

"I got right down on my back for this one," he said of a few close-ups.

Magill dropped plenty of nuggets of who-knew? information, such as:
  • Flamingos like to have sex with others watching them. Two of the birds will get down while 30 others look on.
  • Frogs sometimes do it with two or more partners at a time. Most animals are not monogamous, Magill said.
  • Female pandas only have a three-day window each year to get pregnant. Zookeepers have shown the pandas films of other pandas having sex to get them in the mood.
  • Tigers in captivity are implanted with birth-control devices so they don't over-reproduce.
  • Some animals are gay, too. "Homosexuality is found throughout the animal kingdom," Magill said.

Biological exuberance in action!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Alright, let's move to Texas!

An appeals court has overturned the Texas ban on selling sex toys:
A federal appeals court has overturned a Texas statute outlawing sex toy sales, leaving Alabama as the state with the strictest ban on such devices.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Texas law making it illegal to sell or promote obscene devices, punishable by up to two years in jail, violated the Constitution's 14th Amendment on the right to privacy.

Companies that own Dreamer's and Le Rouge Boutique, which sell the devices in its Austin stores, and the retail distributor Adam & Eve, sued in Austin federal court in 2004 over the constitutionality of the law. They appealed after a federal judge dismissed the suit and said the constitution did not protect their right to publicly promote such devices.

In its decision Tuesday, the appeals court cited Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 opinion that struck down bans on consensual sex between gay couples.

"Just as in Lawrence, the state here wants to use its laws to enforce a public moral code by restricting private intimate conduct," the appeals judges wrote. "The case is not about public sex. It is not about controlling commerce in sex. It is about controlling what people do in the privacy of their own homes because the state is morally opposed to a certain type of consensual private intimate conduct. This is an insufficient justification after Lawrence."

Woo-hoo! They're getting it right!

Congress has voted to ban torture!

Maybe this can go a small step towards repairing our shattered image in the international community.
Congress on Wednesday moved to prohibit the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods on terror suspects, despite President Bush's threat to veto any measure that limits the agency's interrogation techniques.

The prohibition was contained in a bill authorizing intelligence activities for the current year, which the Senate approved on a 51-45 vote. It would restrict the CIA to the 19 interrogation techniques outlined in the Army field manual. That manual prohibits waterboarding, a method that makes an interrogation subject feel he is drowning.

The House had approved the measure in December. Wednesday's Senate vote set up a confrontation with the White House, where Bush has promised to veto any bill that restricts CIA questioning.

Mmm. Bush says "We don't torture", and then promises to veto any bill that would actually make sure of that. Sounds consistent, doesn't it, Senator Feinstein?
Feinstein noted Bush's repeated declarations that the United States does not torture. "If he means what he says this is the bill to sign," she said.

Unless of course we do torture people, in which case Bush might have a reason for vetoing the bill:
In comments last week to the House Intelligence Committee, Hayden acknowledged for the first time publicly that the CIA has used waterboarding against three prisoners.

(As an aside--not only do we torture people, we outsource torturing people. The hand of the free market wields thumbscrews!)

But I especially loved this part from the article:
Hayden warned Congress that if the CIA were limited to military techniques, it would adhere to them without wavering, even if it meant failing to get urgent and crucial information. He contends the CIA has different interrogation needs than the military and requires more latitude.

"I guarantee you we will live within those confines of any statute of that nature. But you have to understand there would be no exceptions," he said.

That's really the entire point, CIA Director Hayden. We don't want to be torturing people. Unlike you "moral relativists", we don't believe that torturing people is okay if we think they might be bad. We think it's wrong. Period.

The New York Times article has a breakdown of the vote by party:
The House approved the bill in December by a vote of 222 to 199, mostly along party lines. Wednesday's vote in the Senate was also along party lines. All the "no" votes were cast by Republicans, except for those of Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska. Five Republicans and Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, voted "yes."

I just wanted to toss that out there as a "fuck you" to all the people who use the word "Republicrat" and insist that there's no difference between the two parties.

Oh, and the straight-shooting maverick, John McCain? He voted to keep torturing people (because it worked so well on him, I guess):
Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war, has consistently voiced opposition to waterboarding and other methods that critics say is a form torture. But the Republicans, confident of a White House veto, did not mount the challenge. Mr. McCain voted "no" on Wednesday afternoon.


Antonin Scalia thinks torture is A-OK

And constitutional, to boot!
Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said on Tuesday some physical interrogation techniques can be used on a suspect in the event of an imminent threat, such as a hidden bomb about to blow up.

In such cases, "smacking someone in the face" could be justified, the outspoken Scalia told the BBC. "You can't come in smugly and with great self satisfaction and say 'Oh it's torture, and therefore it's no good.'"

Ah, see? When you adamantly refuse to debase yourself and your country by engaging in torture of people who aren't talking, you're not being a moral person. No, you're just being "smug". Because in Scalia's world, abstaining from hitting people who have done nothing--abstaining from hitting people because you think they might have information you want--isn't morality; morality is hating gay people. Something Scalia knows a lot about.
Scalia said that it was "extraordinary" to assume that the U.S. Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" also applied to "so-called" torture.

"To begin with the Constitution ... is referring to punishment for crime. And, for example, incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime," he said in an interview with the Law in Action program on BBC Radio 4.

...WHAT THE FUCK!? You think that torture doesn't qualify as "cruel and unusual punishment"? Then for fuck's sake, what the hell would?

Or is it that you only think it would be unconstitutional if it were handed down as a punishment? So what you're basically saying is that as long as you don't charge these people with anything, it's perfectly permissible to torture them? What on earth is wrong with you?
"I suppose it's the same thing about so-called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the Constitution?" he asked.

Look, Scalia--24 is a television program. It is not real. The "ticking time bomb" scenario is such a patent absurdity that it is impossible to take seriously anyone who brings it up as a legitimate excuse for torture. Don't you dare tell us that you're willing to torture people to save lives. You're willing to torture people because you're a sadistic monster.
"It would be absurd to say you couldn't do that. And once you acknowledge that, we're into a different game" Scalia said. "How close does the threat have to be? And how severe can the infliction of pain be?"

No! It is absurd to say that you can do that! Torture is simply not permissible. Forcing testimony from suspects is not permissible. Beating confessions from people is not permissible. Why is this a subject that you have problems with?

[Edit] Oh, hell, it's even worse than I thought. The article I read omitted part of what Scalia considered obviously permissible:
"It seems to me you have to say, as unlikely as that is, it would be absurd to say you couldn't, I don't know, stick something under the fingernail, smack him in the face. It would be absurd to say you couldn't do that," Scalia said in an interview aired Tuesday.

Bold mine.

I... it just... what the hell is wrong with this man? He approves of denailing? What's he going to allow next? Knee-capping?

Think Progress has audio and a partial transcript.

A step forward for Australia

Australia has now officially apologized for its treatment of Aborigines:
Australia has formally apologised to the stolen generations with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd reading a speech in Federal Parliament this morning.

The apology was read at 9am to the minute, as the first action of the second sitting day of the 42nd Parliament of Australia.

Both Mr Rudd and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin received a standing ovation as they entered the Great Hall before the Prime Minister delivered the speech.

The reading of the 361-word apology was completed by 9.30am and was watched by hundreds of parliamentarians, former prime ministers and representatives of the indigenous community.


"These stories cry out to be heard, they cry out for an apology.

"Instead from the nation's Parliament there has been a stony and stubborn and deafening silence for more than a decade.

"A view that somehow we the Parliament should suspend our most basic instincts of what is right and what is wrong.

"A view that instead we should look for any pretext to push this great wrong to one side.

"To leave it languishing with the historians, the academics and the cultural warriors as if the stolen generations are little more than an interesting sociological phenomenon.

"But the stolen generations are not intellectual curiosities, they are human beings, human beings who have been damaged deeply by the decisions of parliaments and governments.

Damn right. The previous prime minister, John Howard, refused to apologize for what previous administrations had done. Isn't that grand? You get to fuck 'em over, and as soon as somebody else gets in charge they can say "It wasn't me; so why should I do anything?" Same shit we deal with in America.

Now, it's great that they've finally apologized (you can read the full text of the speech here). America could take a lesson from here, given that our country yet to apologize, say, slavery. But in the end it's still just words. If you really feel bad about it robbing children from their parents, how about making reparations? No, wait; that won't do, will it former prime minister Paul Keating?
However today, Mr Keating said words were more important than money.
"It is true the report does in some respects focus on compensation," he said.

"The most important thing is the sorry. The most important thing is the national emotional response. I don't believe that these separations or that sadness will ever be settled in a monetary sense.

"It can never be settled in a monetary sense. Far more important in my term was to settle it in an emotional sense and that's what the prime minister and government have done today."

Ah, politics. Where words speak louder than actions.

[Edit] And then there's what Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson had to say:
Some grew increasingly angry as Dr Nelson told Parliament: "Our generation does not own these actions, nor should it feel guilt for what was done in many, but certainly not all cases, with the best intentions."

Members of the crowd jeered and yelled at Dr Nelson to "get off", "go and learn history" and "get your hand off it Brendan".

As he continued, people began to turn their backs and chanted "get him off".

A young Aboriginal man, visibly angered by the speech, called out: "You're a arsehole, no respect."

You shouldn't feel guilty for what you did to the Aborigines? Then what the hell should you feel? Pride? Joy? Nothing at all? See, a normal person should feel bad about this. To brush it all off by saying that someone else did it is inexcusable if you've done nothing to repair the damage done.

And by the way, Dr. Nelson--racism isn't excusable even if someone supposedly has "the best intentions."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday Fake Racist Blogging: C.H. Dalton's Office Hours

That's what happens when you don't buy the book.

Monday, February 11, 2008

That straight-shooter, Ron Paul

Or not.

The highlight is the part where they discuss Paul's conspiracy theory about the NAFTA Superhighway and the North American Union:
According to Paul, a secret organization run by unaccountable government figures is in league with foreign corporations who are all bent on usurping American sovereignty. That's not from the script for a new X-Files movie. (Or not that we know of.) It's the gist of Paul's description of a supposed "NAFTA Superhighway." Paul describes it on his Web site as "a ten-lane colossus the width of several football fields, with freight and rail lines, fiber-optic cable lines, and oil and natural gas pipelines running alongside." And that's not all. According to Paul, the ultimate plan is to form a North American Union with a single currency and unlimited travel within its borders, all headed up by "an unholy alliance of foreign consortiums and officials from several governments" that together form the shadowy "quasi-government organization called the 'Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America,' or SPP."

The problem with Paul's claim is that there are no plans to build a NAFTA Superhighway. Or a North American Union, for that matter. And while the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America does exist, it's just a boring bureaucracy.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

It doesn't matter what Obama does or says

...he'll still be accused of "playing the race card".
BROWSING THE LANGUAGE news last week, I found an item at the MSNBC politics blog noting that Barack Obama was expanding his colloquial lexicon. Back in South Carolina, he had told primary voters not to be bamboozled or hoodwinked by the Clintons' attacks, not to fall for the okey-doke. In St. Louis, he was warning the crowd not to be hornswoggled.

Colorful language on the campaign trail: Sounds like good news, doesn't it? But several commenters thought otherwise. "Some of these terms are straight out of Malcolm X or Jesse Jackson speeches," said one. "But it is OK if Obama plays up his race, right?"

Now, Obama's "okey-doke," meaning "con" - mid-20th-century slang - is indeed primarily black English, my dictionaries say. But what do bamboozle and hoodwink, those showy synonyms for "deceive," have to do with race?

The answer lies in a theory that's been percolating through the Democratic blogosphere (and even surfaced in the New York Observer) since the candidates' spat last month over who was playing the race card. Obama's verbs, in this analysis, were chosen to echo a rousing speech by the eponymous hero of Spike Lee's 1992 "Malcolm X," and thus to send a secret message to voters.


Is hoodwink related to the KKK? one suspicious commenter ventured. No, or do I mean "duh"? Hoodwink is first recorded in 1562, some 300 years before the debut of the Klan. It meant, at first, "to blindfold" - "We'll have no Cupid hoodwink'd with a scarf," says Benvolio in "Romeo and Juliet" - and later "to fool, deceive."


A couple of blog commenters insisted that the combination of hoodwink and bamboozle was the giveaway; where else but in the "Malcolm X" speech would you find those "rare" words together?

Well, in Lord Greville's memoir: "Palmerston never intended anything but to hoodwink his colleagues, bamboozle the French, and gain time" (1885). And in H.L. Mencken: "He does not merely tell how politicians hoodwink, bamboozle and prey upon the boobs; he shows precisely how" (1928). And even in "Some Facts about Treating Railroad Ties" (1912): "'Quick high vacuum'...and other imaginary words, intended to mystify, hoodwink and bamboozle the uninitiated."


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Spreading freedom and liberty as only Americans can. Or at least only as Americans do. (Pt 2)

We invaded Iraq to give them freedom!

Except, of course, for the gays, and for women:
The images in the Basra police file are nauseating: Page after page of women killed in brutal fashion -- some strangled to death, their faces disfigured; others beheaded. All bear signs of torture.

The women are killed, police say, because they failed to wear a headscarf or because they ignored other "rules" that secretive fundamentalist groups want to enforce.

"Fear, fear is always there," says 30-year-old Safana, an artist and university professor. "We don't know who to be afraid of. Maybe it's a friend or a student you teach. There is no break, no security. I don't know who to be afraid of."

Her fear is justified. Iraq's second-largest city, Basra, is a stronghold of conservative Shia groups. As many as 133 women were killed in Basra last year -- 79 for violation of "Islamic teachings" and 47 for so-called honor killings, according to IRIN, the news branch of the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.


After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Sawsan says, the situation was "the best." But now, she says, it's "the worst."

"We thought there would be freedom and democracy and women would have their rights. But all the things we were promised have not come true. There is only fear and horror."

Via MoxieGrrrl.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Supporting the troops

Republican style!
Veterans have no legal right to specific types of medical care, the Bush administration argues in a lawsuit accusing the government of illegally denying mental health treatment to some troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.


The Department of Veterans Affairs is making progress in increasing its staffing and screening veterans for combat-related stress, Justice Department lawyers said. But their central argument is that Congress left decisions about who should get health care, and what type of care, to the VA and not to veterans or the courts.

A federal law providing five years of care for veterans from the date of their discharge establishes "veterans' eligibility for health care, but it does not create an entitlement to any particular medical service," government lawyers said.

They said the law entitles veterans only to "medical care which the secretary (of Veterans Affairs) determines is needed, and only to the extent funds ... are available."


"Veterans need to know in this country that the government thinks all their benefits are mere gratuities," attorney Gordon Erspamer said. "They're saying it's completely discretionary, that even if Congress appropriates money for veterans' health care, we can do anything we want with it."

The issue will be joined March 7 at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti, who denied the administration's request last month to dismiss the suit. While the case is pending, the plaintiffs want Conti to order the government to provide immediate mental health treatment for veterans who say they are thinking of killing themselves and to spend another $60 million on health care.

The suit accuses the VA of arbitrarily denying care and benefits to wounded veterans, of forcing them to wait months for treatment and years for benefits, and of failing to provide fair procedures for appealing decisions against them.

The plaintiffs say that the department has a backlog of more than 600,000 disability claims and that 120 veterans a week commit suicide.

Honestly, what are these guys angry about? Didn't they see the yellow "Support the Troops" magnetic ribbon on the administration's cars? So they should know that they support the troops.

Just not enough to stop them from killing themselves. Or, for that matter, to stop other people from killing them.