Monday, March 31, 2008

Lou Dobbs bemoans the lack of a dialogue about race in this country

Given how vague he was, I'm not sure what exactly he means. He's just saying that we're ethnically very diverse, therefore we need to talk about race? But what about it? And who is "this idiot" who says "there ought to be these responses when you talk about race or ethnicity"? For that matter, what are "these responses"? You could study his words and come away with two completely different views of what he meant. For instance, he said:
What we have is a problem of talking about race without fearing recrimination and distortion and someone using whatever comments are made for their own purposes -- usually political purposes.

One could assume that he meant that we need to discuss the latent racism in America, but any time we do people are going to accuse those of us who recognize its existence and want to fix it of being racist ourselves, or of hating America, or of being anti-white, or of being anti-black, or of anything under the sun. And all of this simply distracts from a pressing issue.

But given that this came from Lou "illegal immigrants cause leprosy" Dobbs, I could more easily believe that he meant "We need to recognize the horrible threat that Latinos pose and stop people from calling me out on my racist vitriol for 'political purposes'."

Maybe he's a black woman?

I'm confused. Is the fact that Barack Obama only got a 37 at bowling proof that he's too feminine to be president, or that he's too black to be president?

It's funny because it's true

After all the calls for having a "dialogue on race" in this country, Sadly, No! has a post up with a transcript of that dialogue.

You can feel the racism melting away with each instance of a white person using the word "nigger". Or Canadian.

Another one rides the bus

A few months back I blogged about an article that mentions that numerous clergy were refusing to legally marry people as long as they could do so only for opposite-sex couples and not same-sex ones. And today there's another article about that happening in Baltimore:
Bolton has joined a small but growing band of clergy who have decided that they won't sign any marriage licenses as agents of the state until it allows gays and lesbians to marry. Some rabbis and ministers in states including Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan and Connecticut have told their congregants that when it comes to weddings they are in the business of religious ceremonies - only - and they have redirected couples to the local courthouse for the paperwork.

"There's sort of a steady drip, drip, drip of people starting to do this," said the Rev. Donald Stroud, minister of outreach and reconciliation at That All May Freely Serve Baltimore, an organization that advocates for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Presbyterian Church.

"I think it does raise people's consciousness - that's one element. But I think a lot of ministers who do this do this first because their conscience compels them," said Stroud. The Presbyterian Church does not sanction same-sex marriage, but it also does not compel pastors to sign licenses, he said. And like some of his colleagues, he would decline to do so if the issue arose because of what he sees as the state's discriminatory laws..

Maryland's highest court last year upheld a law that defines marriage as between a woman and a man, and efforts have not advanced in the General Assembly to create a legal relationship for gay and lesbian couples that confers many of the same rights granted to married couples.

In many cases, congregants have applauded the stances of their pastors and rabbis - most are already fully aware of their religious leaders' political affinities - or participated in the decision to implement a no-sign policy.


...[T]he Rev. Tom Harris, pastor of Govans Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, felt he wanted to do more than go to rallies. He was struck with a sense of urgency while watching a little girl and her mother at a February gay rights lobby day in Annapolis.

"I think it was the innocence of the little girl - that's what hit me. These children are entirely innocent and need the protections of marriage if they're going to be growing up in families," he said. "That's when I really felt I had to do something more than what I was already doing."

He thought and prayed for a couple of weeks before announcing in his church's March newsletter that he would no longer sign marriage documents. "By signing marriage licenses as an agent of the State of Maryland for heterosexual couples, but not for homosexual couples, I am knowingly and willingly participating in an unjust, harmful practice and I do not wish to do so," he wrote.

If only our legislators could realize what Rev. Harris did--banning gay couples from marrying isn't going to help any children. Instead it's going to hurt the children of gay couples.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Near, Far, Wherever You Are Edition

In last week's DRB post, I omitted the end of the penultimate paragraph because it mentioned something so amusing I felt it deserved its own post.

Representative Thomas Corwin of Ohio--he of the famed Corwin amendment--gave a speech on January 24, 1860, which included this quote:
The population, which usually goes into new Territories is generally led by an eager and sometimes wild spirit of adventure. The people will keep out the negro, because they have no negroes of their own, no slaves of their own. I care not whether the Territory be at the north pole or near the equator, they will go there, and will keep your negroes out, if you allow them to determine whether slavery shall be there or not.

Emphasis mine.

This just makes me think of some bizarre advertisement. "Call us, and we'll gas your termites keep out your negroes! No distance is too far, no negro problem too large!"

--From the Congressional Globe, 36th Congress, 1st Session, Appendix, p. 149


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Well, duh

People who are your "friends" on Facebook aren't really friends:
A British judge has made official what many of us have long suspected - that being "Facebook friends" with someone doesn't necessarily make you their friend.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Florida apologizes for slavery

Good for them:
The Legislature issued an apology Wednesday morning for the state's "shameful" history in enslaving black people and passing laws that called for savage lashings and even the nailing of their ears to posts for crimes like burglary.

"The Legislature expresses its profound regret for Florida's role in sanctioning and perpetuating involuntary servitude upon generations of African slaves," said the resolution, pushed by black lawmakers.

In the Senate, during the reading of the resolution and the recounting of the slave codes passed by the Territorial Council in 1822 and struck down in 1868 -- three years after the Civil War ended -- Sen. Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa Democrat, sobbed during the presentation of the resolution, which passed on a voice vote.

"I knew the facts but, to hear it put in those terms, I just fell apart," she said.

After the measure passed on a voice vote without opposition in the senate, where President Ken Pruitt wanted no discussion or recorded votes, the Florida House did the same. House Speaker Marco Rubio thanked both Pruitt and the black caucus for bringing the matter forward.

I'm especially interested that the governor is open to making reparations:
The resolution stops short of calling for reparations for descendants of slaves, though Republican Gov. Charlie Crist said after the vote that he was open to the idea "if we can determine descendancy, certainly."

Crist, who attended the floor vote, said, "Florida is sorry for the past transgressions and unfair treatment and in some cases just gross inequity as it exists toward members of the African-American community."

Via LG&M, which points out that there a bunch of racist twits who are much less enthusiastic about the notion of reparations.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Some Feministing posts of interest

I don't have much commentary (as usual), I just wanted to link to these posts.

There's this post about how Albany legislators hired their interns. Let's just say it had nothing to do with their resumes.

And this post is a tale of two football players. Both assaulted their girlfriends, but only one was kicked off the team. The other was kept on because he beat up his girlfriend for the right reasons--he wanted to baptize their son, and she didn't want to.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Not that those of you who read this blog even know about this

Richard Dawkins has a review of Expelled up. My favorite bit is probably this:
[Ben] Stein has no talent for comedy, as he demonstrates in a weird joke about scratching his back, which falls completely flat.

Well, we already knew that about Stein. But there's more:
But his attempt to do tragedy is even worse. He visits Dachau and, when informed by the guide that lots of Jews had been killed there, he buries his face in his hands as though this is the first time he has heard of it.

It sounds like it's not only a disgusting "Darwin was a Nazi!" propaganda piece, but a truly abominable piece of film-making as well.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

At least Nixon got us some pandas

It seems that Bush's disdain for the living extends beyond women, gays, and Iraqis, and to all animal life:
With little-noticed procedural and policy moves over several years, Bush administration officials have made it substantially more difficult to designate domestic animals and plants for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Controversies have occasionally flared over Interior Department officials who regularly overruled rank-and-file agency scientists' recommendations to list new species, but internal documents also suggest that pervasive bureaucratic obstacles were erected to limit the number of species protected under one of the nation's best-known environmental laws.

How bad is it?
During Bush's more than seven years as president, his administration has placed 59 domestic species on the endangered list, almost the exact number that his father listed during each of his four years in office. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has not declared a single native species as threatened or endangered since he was appointed nearly two years ago.


And some species have vanished. The Lake Sammamish kokanee, a landlocked sockeye salmon, went extinct in 2001 after being denied an emergency listing, and genetically pure Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits disappeared last year after Interior declined to protect critical habitat for the species.

What sort of changes have allowed this lack of protection? Well, for one, they've decided that they no longer care about the animal's historical habitat, only its present one.
In another policy reversal, Interior's solicitor declared in a memo dated March 16, 2007, that when officials consider whether a significant portion of a species' range is in peril, that "phrase refers to the range in which a species currently exists, not to the historical range of the species where it once existed." The memo added that the Interior secretary "has broad discretion" in defining what is "significant."

They also have decided to consider the range of that animal's habitat outside the U.S. That might sound good at first, but really, this means that if an animal exists in Canada or Mexico, they don't care if it goes extinct in the U.S.:
In one such shift, senior Interior officials revised a longstanding policy that rated the threat to various species based primarily on their populations within U.S. borders. They then argued that species such as the wolverine and the jaguar do not need protection because they also exist in Canada or Mexico.

I think the worst part of it all is this:
In addition, the agency limited the information it used in ruling on the 90-day citizens' petitions that lead to most listings. In May 2005, Fish and Wildlife decreed that its files on proposed listings should include only evidence from the petitions and any information in agency records that could undercut, rather than support, a decision to list a species.

Unsigned notes handwritten on May 16, 2005, by an agency official, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, attributed the policy to Douglas Krofta, who heads the Endangered Species Program's listing branch. The notes said employees "can use info from files that refutes petitions but not anything that supports, per Doug."

Hall said the agency abandoned that policy in late 2006, but he issued a memo in June 2006 that mirrors elements of it, stating, "The information within the Service's files is not to be used to augment a 'weak' petition."

How's that for political interference with science?

Easter Racism Blogging

Yesterday this post at Orcinus looked at the question of why Republicans don't ever seem to get more than around 10% of the black vote. Some people even seem confused by this:
Still, Republicans seem perplexed by this. Witness, for instance, Bridget Johnson's recent piece bemoaning the "lost opportunities" to gain the black vote in the current election:
This is the profile of America's minority communities: not politically or ideologically homogenous, willing to consider new solutions, and willing to listen to new ideas and voices — if those voices would bother to make the effort to show up.

However, this election season is shaping up to be yet another year when the Republican Party quickly kisses off the black vote, and halfheartedly reaches for at least a decent portion of the Latino vote. It's a mistake with the same script every time, like a political "Groundhog Day."

And it could particularly be a colossal failing to ignore minority communities this election season, when the flap over Barack Obama's questionable associations has seen the racial debate taken in a disturbing direction that strays from the colorblind, hand-in-hand path of brotherhood envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Nevermind that Martin Luther King also supported affirmative action and was disappointed by the white community's apathy towards justice for the African American community.)

But, gee, why don't blacks vote Republican? Could it because Republicans say things like this?
On the other hand, I am sick to death of black people as a group. The truth. That is part of the conversation Obama is asking for, isn't it? I live in an eastern state almost exactly on the fabled Mason-Dixon line. Every day I see young black males wearing tee shirts down to their knees -- and jeans belted just above their knees. I'm an old guy. I want to smack them. All of them. They are egregious stereotypes. It's impossible not to think the unthinkable N-Word when they roll up beside you at a stoplight in their trashed old Hondas with 19-inch spinner wheels and rap recordings that shake the foundations of the buildings. . . .

Here's the dirty secret all of us know and no one will admit to. There ARE niggers. Black people know it. White people know it. And only black people are allowed to notice and pronounce the truth of it. Which would be fine. Except that black people are not a community but a political party. They can squabble with each other in caucus but they absolutely refuse to speak the truth in public. And this is the single biggest obstacle to healing the racial divide in this country.

How could calling all black people "niggers" not attract them to the party?

Hooray for computus

Happy Chocolate Bunny Day, y'all.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Your racist asswipe of the day

Is Pat Buchanan. No surprise there.

How did Buchanan win this illustrious honor? With tripe like this:
First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.

Yes, blacks should be so grateful that they were stolen from their native land, crammed into galleys, shipped across the ocean with survival rates of around 50%, enslaved for hundreds of years, and afterwards legally disfranchised and discriminated against, while all the while whites fortified their racist institutions with Bible verses and scientific "proofs" that all testified to the natural inferiority of black people. Blacks should be grateful for all this because, after all, now they're (mostly) Christian! And they've achieved the greatest levels of freedom blacks have ever known--why, only 1 in 15 black men over 18 are in prison in the US, and only 1 in 9 black men ages 20-34. Blacks could never experience that in any other country! (The study on prison populations itself is here, in PDF format)

But wait, Pat's not done yet!
Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the '60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream.

Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks - with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas -- to advance black applicants over white applicants.

Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks.

We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?

Consider this scenario: a friend of yours agrees to house-sit for you while you're enjoying a week-long vacation. When you get back, nicely tanned and rested, you walk up the lawn and notice that the windows on the front of your house are broken. Fearing that there was a break-in, you rush into the house, prepared to take note of what was stolen when you are struck by the sight before your eyes. Trash has been strewn all over your floor; acrid stains dot your walls, with some splatters even hitting the ceiling; small chunks of your furniture have been hacked off, and lie embedded in the carpet; your favorite plant is withered almost to the point of death; and it seems your cat, lacking a litter pan, decided to relieve itself on the pile of mail that was discarded next to the door. When confronted, your friend admits that the mess you returned home to was all his doing, and he reluctantly agrees to pay to replace the broken window.

When you next see him, you complain about how your foyer still reeks of cat urine, and your friend snarls, "I hear the grievances. Where's the gratitude?"

The simple fact of the matter is that programs like affirmative action would not be necessary in a country that didn't have the institutionalized racism of the United States. It is good that a portion of society wants to make amends for what we did in the past, but why ought anyone fall to their knees in gratitude at someone who is trying--and not even trying very hard--to fix what he did to you in the first place?

Of course, conservatives like Buchanan have been doing their damnedest to dismantle all these programs since... well, the '80s, at best, and probably earlier. Hell, they were opposed to the things existing at all, braying that blacks should be grateful they were brought to this country and made into Christians (gee, where have we heard that before?). But now that it's convenient, Pat want to parade them around as "our" accomplishments, and those uppity negroes should be damn grateful for what "we" do for them!

Secondly, note what he said: "no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans." To Buchanan's mind, programs like affirmative action are not attempts to undo the horrible damage that white America inflicted on black America. No, Pat believes that blacks are impoverished, criminal, stupid, and lazy by nature, and all these are attempts by whites to elevate blacks above their "natural" status.

But hey, at least they're not back in Africa.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I think I like Kathy Stein

Good news from Kentucky:
A House committee yesterday killed a Senate bill that would bar state universities and other public agencies from providing health insurance for domestic partners of employees.

The Health and Welfare Committee voted 9 to 6 to reject Senate Bill 112 -- but not before committee member David Watkins, D-Henderson, delivered a tongue-lashing to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Vernie McGaha, R-Russell Springs.

Watkins, a family physician, called the measure divisive and said the Senate is ignoring the state's biggest health problems, including smoking, obesity and a lack of adequate mental health services for its citizens.

"I am tired of the same petty issues coming before us when we've got major issues to address," he said.


McGaha said his concern is the "sanctity of marriage" and said he was offended by Watkins' comments.

"Dr. Watkins is totally off-base," McGaha said. "He is a disgrace to the process we have here."

Apparently the best way to preserve the sanctity of marriage is to rob people of health insurance. If that doesn't make sense to you, it's okay--these are Kentuckians speaking.
The vote on SB 112 came largely along party lines, with Democrats Bob Damron of Nicholasville and John Arnold of Sturgis voting with four Republicans for the bill. The nine Democrats who voted no included Rep. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington and a longtime opponent of the measure, who snapped "of course not" when asked for her vote on the bill.


Read it

Dave Neiwert at Orcinus has an excellent post up about the contrived pseudo-scandal over the remarks of Sen. Obama's pastor, Rev. Wright.
It's telling that none of [the media] observed that, for the most part, Wright's remarks (aside from his conspiracist comments about AIDS, which were indeed inexcusable, but which received little or no play before Obama's speech) were factually accurate, and deeply reflective of a reality that most African Americans live with -- and which most white Americans do their best to ignore, deny, and forget. The remarks that were broadcast all over YouTube and replayed endlessly on the cable talk shows were, no doubt, were impolitic, but they were also largely true.


Their entire preoccupation, indeed, was with how Wright's remarks might discomfit whites -- while never examining the deeper questions of whether white complacence about race might be something worth challenging, as well as their own roles in failing to make that challenge.


Tolkien probably knew this

But I didn't:
The name "Bilbo," well-loved by collectors of people's-names-that-mean-something, is an antique word for "sword."



I like this passage:
Good Friday, meanwhile, like many of the other most important Christian holidays, is a set number of days before Easter. The only problem is that the date of Easter is probably the most complicated celebratory calculation this side of Hinduism, which has a number of competing religious calendars. The standard rule is "the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the day of the vernal equinox." But in fact, the actual divination of the date is so involved that it has its own offical name: "computus." And so challenging that Carl Friedrich Gauss, one of history's greatest mathematicians, devoted the time to create an algorithm for it. It goes on for many lines. You can look it up. And, of course, it doesn't work for Eastern Orthodox Easter (about one month later than the Western Christian one this year, on April 27).

Unfortunately, "computus" isn't in, but it is in Wikipedia.

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Proximity Edition

I have previously mentioned that some opponents of slavery objected to the institution and its spread, not because they objected to the oppression of blacks, but because they objected to the presence of blacks. I said I'd post about that later, so, here's a post on that.

Following is a lengthy excerpt, of the book Race and the Rise of the Republican Party, 1848-1865, pages 248-53:
Another means by which Republicans sought to reserve the Western states for white people was by advocating the exclusion of free black people from them. Congressman George Julian of Indiana set the tone when he stated that he "opposed setting them [blacks] free among us." Senators Preston King of New York and Benjamin Wade of Ohio were of like mind. King fully supported the wishes of the people of Oregon ". . . to be free from the settlement of blacks among them." Declaring that "free negroes are despised by all [and] repudiated by all," and that white prejudice against them was "immovable," Wade called for the exclusion of Negroes from all the free states; becase "we [Republicans] have objections to them." Forgetting for the moment that the South was the 'black power,' he proclaimed that "this species of population are just as abhorrent to the Southern states," as "to the North."

In various Western states Republican heirs to the Free Soil philosophy continued to support exclusionist legislation. In Iowa, for instance, "stringent bonding, registration and prohibitions against free Negroes" were maintained, and Republican support for these measures was clearly indicative of Republican determination to kep blacks out. In Indiana, too, Republican racial feeling ran strongly. Republicans there "continued to uphold Indiana's laws for the exclusion of Negroes." When the state's black leaders called on the Indiana Republicans to aid their movement to repeal that state's black laws, they were ignored. Albert G. Porter of Indiana candidly told his congressional colleagues his reasons for supporting the black laws: "It is not probable . . . with the prejudices of my early education, that I would be likely to have too great [a] sympathy for Negroes. In Indiana we have adopted a constitutional provision that no negro, whether he be bond or free, shall be allwed to come within its limits." Porter was satisfied that exclusion was the correct course to follow; otherwise white laborers would have to compete with blacks. "[We] Republicans in Indiana," he concluded, "put our advocacy of the exclusion of negroes upon the same ground which it was put in our state constitution." In neighboring Illinois, Republicans spoke similarly. A. Ballinger of that state insisted that "we [Republicans] don't want them, slave or free." In particular, he averred, the "free ones are obnoxious." Another Illinois Republican, fearing the spread of miscegeanation, called for the strict enforcement of black exclusionist legislation in his state. A third son of Illinois, Senator Lyman Trumbull, stated emphatically that "our policy is to have nothing to do with them [blacks]." By "them," Trumbull, of course, meant free blacks as well as slaves. Not only were Republicans in the Western states willing to exclude free blacks from their presence but, according to Trumbull, the "North [in general] does not want a free negro population."

Representative Frank Blair of Missouri agreed with Trumbull that the North would exclude free blacks. Although he believed that the "North may receive an absconding [black] straggler here and there . . . what states," he asked, "would receive five million" blacks? The "Northern states will not receive them," he proclaimed. Blair expressed relief because the "law of the Norht has put its ban upon immigration of negroes into the free states." But, if the legal barriers were not enough, Blair insisted that whits, North and South, were prepared to go one step further. Picturing blacks as dangerous to the safety and welfare of white Americans, he claimed that "there is not a state in the Union, that would not fly to arms, to resist the intrusion of 100,000 free negroes within its limits." Said Congressman Thomas Corwin of Ohio: "I am for the white man;" free blacks, if not excluded, would "destroy" white interests in the free states. The assumption continued: white interests and black interests were mutually exclusive.

While all of the states of the West and Northwest had excluded blacks as slaves and most of them subsequently acted to exclude blacks as free persons, the threat of the extension of slavery and with it a free black population into the Western territories remained. Excluding slavery from these territories was for Republicans, as for Free Soilers, another means of containing the black population within the slave states. Just as they had when Free Soilers, Republican politicians adopted the Wilmot Proviso as the linchpin of their party's position on slavery in the territories. Although prominent Western Republicans might voice ostensible respect for the inviolability of slavery in the South, they were openly adamant that it must be contained there. The party might have no legal right to touch slavery in the states where it existed, admitted Congressman Henry Smith Lane of Indiana, but "in the territories," he insisted, "we have." The immediate "mission of the Republican Party," he announced, while campaigning in Indiana in 1859, "is to restrict slavery to its present limits." Other important Republicans, including Oliver Morton, Edward Bates, Montgomery Blair, William Dennison and the longtime former Democrat, Thomas Hart Benton, agreed. Blair acted as defense counsel for Dred Scott in the historic case, and in his lengthy arguments laid down the Republican axiom that Congress did indeed have the authority to interdict slavery in the territories. The immediate priority of the party, said Ohio Governor Dennison, should be "repressing the invasion of slavery," by "keeping it within its own boundaries." "Prohibition [of slavery] in the territories," declared the retired Senator from Missouri, Thomas Benton, was a central doctrine of the party. As Congressman Dewitt Clinton Leach of Michigan put it: "we say to slavery 'thus far and no further.'"

The fact that the subject of excluding slavery from the territories never strayed far from the subject of excluding black people from the territories merely served one more time to prove that racial concern was a prime chemical in the formula of containment. If Free Soilers had monotonously intoned race to justify their policy in the territories, so too would Republicans. One Illinois party organizer, William R. Wilkinson, wrote during the 1860 presidential campaign that he was not only appealing to the voters on the basis of "free speech" and a "free press," but also for the enactment of legislation to protect the "free territories for free white men." Foster of Connecticut made the same demand in the Senate. David Kilgore of Indiana plead with his Southern congressional colleagues "to keep the negroes to themselves, and not thrust them into our faces . . . ." In neighboring Illinois Republican A. Ballinger wrote likewise that the South could "keep her negroes if they wish them, . . . if they will only keep them to themselves, and not intrude them upon us." As noted in chapter four, the Republicans often pictured the Democratic Party as the surrogate of the slave states and therefore of the black man. As James Harlan saw it, the slavery extension controversy was simply a question of racial preference, and the "policy of the Republican Party would people our vast public domain with the white race . . . ." Harlan, therefore, asked Democrats, "Why not adopt the Republican policy [of exclusion]?"

Trumbull, while attacking the Dred Scott decision, was not so conciliatory. The Illinois Senator was quick to point out that this Democratic decision to expand slavery into the West was "certainly no part of the Republican creed, which seeks to preserve the free white laborer and white man from contamination with negro slaves by keeping it [sic] out of the free territories." Indeed, this creed was for the benefit of "free white men, who do not want anything to do with negroes . . . ." Republican Jesse K. Dubois, one of Trumbull's constituents, added that "when they [Democrats] undertake to make the Negro national, we beg to be excused and say stop."


Exclusion would also avoid that other, often prophesied calamity, miscegenation. Republican Orville Leston of Illinois asserted that the "only remedy to prevent the amalgamation of the white and black race[s] . . . is to separate and consequently prohibit the blacks, free or slave, from immigrating to the free states or territories." Lincoln was in agreement: "[I]f we do not let them [blacks and whites] get together in the territories, they won't mix there." Separating the races was the objective, he told Stephen A. Douglas in their 1858 Chicago debate; "but as an immediate separation [in the South] is impossible, the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together," that is, in the territories. While Lincoln said that he hesitated to speak for the entire Republican Party on this issue, he expressed confidence that "a very large proportion of its members are for it, and that the chief plank in their platform, opposition to the spread of slavery, is most favorable to that separation." During their Carlinville debate Lincoln seized the offensive and referring specifically to the Kansas controversy asked his audience the following: "Douglas pretens to be horrified at amalgamation, yet had he not opened the way for slavery in Kansas, could there have been any amalgamation there?" Whose policies were more favorable to miscegenation, Lincoln queried rhetorically, those of his opponent, who would vote to extend slavery, or his, which relied on legal sanctions to block its expansion? ...

As Lincoln intimated, nowhere was the relevance of race to containment more pointedly made than in 'bleeding Kansas.' Trumbull proclaimed himself "for the government of free white men," whereas under the Lecompton Constitution "they have no right to determine the institutions for the government of white men." That constitution "amounts simply to giving the free white people of Kansas a right to determine the condition of a few negroes." In arguing for a renewal of exclusion, Congressman David Ritchie of Pennsylvania reasoned that if "a free white population is superior to a black slave population . . . in founding a state . . . it follows that the law [Missouri Compromise of 1820] prohibiting the introduction of the inferior race into Kansas . . . ought not to have been repealed." As Robert J. Walker, the territorial governor, formerly from Mississippi, astutely noted, "those who oppose slavery in Kansas do not base their opposition upon any philanthropic principles, or any sympathy for the African race, for in their so-called constitution, framed at Topeka, they deem that entire race so inferior and degraded, as to exclude them all forever from Kansas, whether they be bond or free."


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is this going to be the next theme of attacks on Obama?

That, if he isn't elected, blacks will riot in the streets? We already heard it from Jonah Goldberg, but since then I don't think it was mentioned much. But now we're hearing the same thing from Tom Sullivan:
Let me put it to you a different way. What if Barack Obama is not -- does not win the Democratic nomination, or he does win it, and loses in the presidential race against John McCain? Is black America going to throw their hands up and say, "Man, you know, I thought we were getting somewhere in this country, but this is just a bunch of racial bigots in this country and they still hate blacks and, I mean, if Barack Obama can't get elected, then we're never gonna have anybody that's a black that's gonna be elected president." And will there be riots in the streets? I think the answer to that is yes and yes.


I think this guy needs to attend a few seders

This isn't really racist enough to be a Dead Racist blogging post, but I found it amusing enough that I wanted to share it:
And where this amalgamation cannot be effected--as in the case of the Israelites--who are too homogeneous for commixture or even communion with other people,--the slave, in the progress of events, acquires the knowledge of the master. When Moses could emulate the Egyptian priesthood, he was able to embody and to represent his people, and to lead them forth from bondage; for then they had acquired all the knowledge which was possessed by the Egyptian; and as they could derive nothing further from the instruction of their masters, the period had naturally arrived for their emancipation. Upon this susceptibility of acquisition, on the part of the slave, depends the whole secret of his release from bondage. It is his mental and moral inferiority which has enslaved, or subjected him to a superior. It is his rise, morally and intellectually, into the same form with his master, which alone can emancipate him.

Y'know, it's been a while since my last seder, but I don't recall any natural emancipation that happened because the Israelites were so much more learned than when they entered Egypt. I'm pretty sure there were some miracles, some divine intervention that got them out of there--the very quintessence of supernatural occurrences. It's not like they were kept as slaves because they kept failing a written test, and were just allowed to leave once they learned enough to pass it, or they one day realized that the Egyptians didn't actually lock their pens.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Immigration follies

The most recent AARP Bulletin has an interesting article about people unable to get Medicaid due to fears over undocumented immigrants. New federal rules require people to have proof of their citizenship before they can collect Medicaid--all this despite the fact that there's no record of immigrants abusing the system:
States have always been required to check a Medicaid applicant's eligibility, which includes citizenship. But a July 2006 rule, enforced by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), now demands specific documents as proof, such as a passport or a birth certificate, driver's license or military record. States face fines if they don't comply.

The rule, which neither CMS nor the Bush administration requested, was adopted by the Republican-dominated Congress in 2005 despite the fact that there was no evidence that undocumented immigrants were falsely claiming U.S. citizenship to get Medicaid.

"This rule was the answer to a problem that really doesn't exist," says Donna Cohen Ross, an analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, a nonpartisan research organization.

In fact, the year the rule was passed, Mark McClellan, then the administrator for CMS, said that a report by the CMS inspector general did "not find particular problems regarding false allegations of citizenship, nor are we aware of any." Most states agreed with that assessment.

The result is that plenty of people who qualify for Medicaid are unable to get it, and a large proportion of them are Native Americans, and we're wasting a lot of money that could have been better spent than denying people medical care that they need:
In Oklahoma, for example, more than 20,000 of its 700,000 Medicaid recipients—almost 13 percent are American Indians—have been dropped from the program, "not because they aren't citizens, but because they're having a tough time coming up with the right pieces of paper at the right time," says Mike Fogarty, chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the agency overseeing Medicaid.

Fogarty says Oklahoma, like most states, has been doing aggressive outreach to help residents get the documents they need, diverting resources and effort that "could have been spent improving our program."

So far, he says, Oklahoma has uncovered no illegal immigrants on its rolls. And Arizona, where immigration is a huge issue, has filed two reports since the rule went into effect, each saying the state uncovered "zero" illegal immigrants among its 1 million Medicaid recipients. Kansas has found one illegal immigrant on its Medicaid rolls.


A U.S. Government Accountability Office survey of the states last year found that that the requirement caused eligible U.S. citizens to lose Medicaid coverage while increasing administrative costs. A close analysis of six states, the report says, showed that for every $100 spent to implement the rule, only 14 cents was saved.

In fact, nationwide the rule has added millions of dollars in administrative costs.

In Wisconsin, the legislature and the governor initially authorized $1.8 million "just to deal with this rule," says James Jones, a deputy administrator in the state Department of Health and Family Services. "And we estimate it will continue to cost $800,000 a year."

So, because we were worried that foreigners might be using up our precious medical supplies (which was one of the top concerns over immigration on this poll, and of course isn't true), we have adopted a "solution" that instead deprives thousands of actual citizens of health care. Brilliant.

Racism ended in the '60s! Everyone knows that!

Barack Obama says:
As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

That's part of what I meant when I said:
The effects of actions like child-snatching, or slavery, or Jim Crow, or apartheid, echo throughout multiple generations. They don't only affect the people who were victims at the time, but also their children and their children's children. You can't sweep that all under the rug by saying "Well, that all happened in the past." No! Its effects are still happening today!

I'm glad to see a politician talking about it instead of insisting that abolishing legally-enforced inequality is enough, and there's no reason to pursue actual equality.

Son of separate but equal

Civil unions are not marriage (they're a good step, mind), and everyone knows it:
Eager to celebrate their partnership, Tracy and Katy Weber Tierney were among the first in line when Connecticut created civil unions three years ago as a way to formalize same-sex relationships without using the word "marriage."

But when Tracy was giving birth to their son, Jake, five months ago, a hospital employee inquired whether she was "married, single, divorced or widowed."

"I'm in a civil union," she replied. When the employee checked "single," Tracy protested. "I'm actually more married than single," she said, leaving the employee flustered about how to proceed.


Though such arrangements were created, often under court mandate, with a promise of treating same-sex couples the same as opposite-sex couples, many gays and lesbians say they have not delivered and can never do so because separate institutions are inherently unequal. Many also resent being denied use of the word marriage, which they say carries intangible benefits, prestige and status.


Civil unions require constant "haggling, litigation and explanation," said Evan Wolfson, the founder of a New York-based advocacy group called Freedom to Marry. Being married, he said, means "you don't have to fumble for documents. You don't have to hire an attorney, and you don't have to consult a dictionary. You're married. You know what it means, and everyone else knows what it means."

Barbara Upton and Suzanne Rogers, who live in Avon and snapped up a civil union license the day it became available, carry proof of their reciprocal ties wherever they go. Ms. Rogers, a 62-year-old nurse, said the frustrations begin with trying to describe themselves: "We're civilized? We're unionized? Whatever. That's part of the problem. Nobody really understands it, and that includes me."

For Jean Csvihinka, 48, who works at a bank in Milford, getting a civil union meant paying tax on an additional $6,000 a year. Ms. Csvihinka said that adding her partner, Gina Bonfietti, 43, a self-employed piano technician, to her health insurance obligated her to pay a federal tax on the value of the additional coverage that married couples would not owe, and that since the civil union she has also had to pay tax on her daughters' coverage even though the girls were on her plan, tax-free, before. She said she was told that "it's a systems issue."


Amy Pear, a 39-year-old police captain in Middletown, said she was reminded again this month of her own murky legal status when she returned home from an overseas trip with June Lockert, 46, her better half for the last 14 years.

Arriving at Kennedy International Airport, the couple were asked whether they were one household. Captain Pear said she explained that they were, in Connecticut, because of their civil union. She said the customs officer sent them back to be processed separately since the federal government took a different view, and remarked "Welcome home" as she passed.

Captain Pear said she has also been unable to get a firm answer from Middletown officials as to whether Ms. Lockert would get survivor benefits if she died in the line of duty. "Unfortunately, a lot of people don't know how civil unions will work because it's not marriage," Captain Pear said. "You ask does this apply or not, and they say maybe."

I rather liked this quote:
"Being in a civil union is not the same as married," he said. "If it was, they would call it marriage. I don't know anybody who would give up their marriage for a civil union."

Everyone knows at heart that having a civil union is not the same as being married--even if, by some miracle, all the rights and privileges, at the city, county, state, and federal levels were the same for both, it still wouldn't be equal. Civil unions and domestic partnerships and the like are all ways to provide a semblance of equality (in the form of these benefits) while at the same time declaring that gay relationships--and implicitly gay people--are not equal to straight ones.

I was kinda miffed at this portion of the article, though:
The state also argues that the plaintiffs have no case because they are free to marry, just not to someone of the same sex, and that there is no gender discrimination because men and women are equally constrained.

I suppose it would be too much to expect the New York Times to point out that this very same logic was dismissed over 40 years ago when applied to interracial couples.

Via Shakesville.

Four more years! Four more years!

John McCain doesn't understand what's going on in Iraq:
Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back."

Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was "common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate." A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate's ear. McCain then said: "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda."

The mistake threatened to undermine McCain's argument that his decades of foreign policy experience make him the natural choice to lead a country at war with terrorists. In recent days, McCain has repeatedly said his intimate knowledge of foreign policy make him the best equipped to answer a phone ringing in the White House late at night.

Glad to know he's so very different from our current president.

Via Greg Saunders and Matt Yglesias.

Well, we knew someone was gonna say it sooner or later

Say that Obama's candidacy is proof that America is no longer racist, that is.
Leading opponents of affirmative action are increasingly seizing on Illinois Senator Barack Obama's historic run for the presidency as proof that race-based remedies for past discrimination are no longer necessary.

Influential Republicans and a growing number of policy specialists at conservative organizations, including the Goldwater Institute, Project 21, and the Manhattan Institute, are citing the fact that large numbers of white voters are supporting Obama, who leads in the race for Democratic delegates, as evidence that affirmative action has run its course.

Ward Connerly, a black conservative who is leading a national effort to ban racial preferences, vowed to use Obama's success as evidence for anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives his organization is promoting in five states. Connerly, who helped dismantle affirmative action policies in California universities and public hiring in the 1990s, said he has donated $500 to Obama's campaign.

"I've been saying for a number of years that the American people are not institutionally racist," and Obama's strong support among white voters proves it, said Connerly, founder of the American Civil Rights Institute, an organization that backs proposals to end affirmative action in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. "It underscores my position . . . that affirmative action is an idea whose time has passed.

"The whole argument in favor of race preferences is that there is 'institutional racism' and 'institutional sexism' in American life, and you need affirmative action to level the playing field," he said. "How can you say there is institutional racism when people in Nebraska vote for a guy who is a self-identified black man?"

Seriously, that's their argument. Because (some) people will vote for a black man, there's no institutional racism in America anymore! Never mind that Clinton is getting the majority of the white vote, and never mind the people who won't vote for a black man--this one, solitary gesture overturns centuries of white privilege and black oppression, erases all the racist stereotypes from our country's mind, and bridges the gap between black and white welfare in this country.

Sure, according to the census (warning: PDF) the median income for non-Hispanic whites was $30,000 in 2006, while that of blacks was $18,000. And sure, 8.2% of whites were below the poverty line that same year while 24.3% of blacks were. And sure, only 10.8% of whites had no health insurance whereas 20.5% of blacks remained uninsured. I'm sure that the fact that some white people are willing to vote for a black man will change all of that! Why, with each white hand that throws a ballot switch for a black man, a black person gets health insurance and an extra $100 in wages, right? They probably get a diploma, too, which will help bridge the education gap in the races--in 2005, only 17% of black adults had a bachelor's degree compared to 30% of whites.

But we as a nation aren't racist, because a few whites will vote for Obama! Hallelujah! Who knew that eliminating racism in this country was so easy as voting for a black candidate?

[Edit] Hopefully each vote for Obama by a white man will also cure one African-American girl of an STD, since 50% of them have at least one, compared to 20% of white girls.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Republicans voting for Clinton?

It's true!
For a party that loves to hate the Clintons, Republican voters have cast an awful lot of ballots lately for Senator Hillary Clinton: About 100,000 GOP loyalists voted for her in Ohio, 119,000 in Texas, and about 38,000 in Mississippi, exit polls show.

A sudden change of heart? Hardly.

Since Senator John McCain effectively sewed up the GOP nomination last month, Republicans have begun participating in Democratic primaries specifically to vote for Clinton, a tactic that some voters and local Republican activists think will help their party in November. With every delegate important in the tight Democratic race, this trend could help shape the outcome if it continues in the remaining Democratic primaries open to all voters.

A lot of it appears to be because they're afraid of Obama, and think Clinton would be easier to beat in the general election:
Spurred by conservative talk radio, GOP voters who say they would never back Clinton in a general election are voting for her now for strategic reasons: Some want to prolong her bitter nomination battle with Barack Obama, others believe she would be easier to beat than Obama in the fall, or they simply want to register objections to Obama.

"It's as simple as, I don't think McCain can beat Obama if Obama is the Democratic choice," said Kyle Britt, 49, a Republican-leaning independent from Huntsville, Texas, who voted for Clinton in the March 4 primary. "I do believe Hillary can mobilize enough [anti-Clinton] people to keep her out of office."

Britt, who works in financial services, said he is certain he will vote for McCain in November.


Conservative radio giant Rush Limbaugh said on Fox News on Feb. 29 that he was urging conservatives to cross over and vote for Clinton, their bĂȘte noire nonpareil, "if they can stomach it."

"I want our party to win. I want the Democrats to lose," Limbaugh said. "They're in the midst of tearing themselves apart right now. It is fascinating to watch. And it's all going to stop if Hillary loses."


Walter Wilkerson, who has chaired the Republican Party in Montgomery County, Texas, since 1964, said many local conservatives chose to vote for Clinton for strategic reasons.

"These people felt that Clinton would be maybe the easier opponent in the fall," he said. "That remains to be seen."


If Republicans and conservative independents continue their tactical voting, it may be more likely in Indiana, Montana, and Puerto Rico, which allow anyone to vote, and possibly in North Carolina and West Virginia, which open their primaries to Democrats and independent voters.

"If you are a Republican you could pull a Democrat ballot and vote for the Democrat presidential candidate you think will stand the least chance of beating McCain in the fall general election," the assistant editor of the Greene County Daily World, in southwestern Indiana, wrote in a blog post earlier this month.

There's apparently been some musing that the number of crossover / sabotage votes could have given Clinton more delegates than she would've gotten otherwise, possibly even enough to make her win in those states where she otherwise would've lost. But that's the risk we run with these stupid open primaries.

"Just passin' 'em out!"

I just got a piece of mail today from my university, saying that I "achieved academic honors within the last year."

I find this very amusing, since I haven't attended university in the last year. Apparently, they just hand out academic honors to anyone nowadays.

Kinda devalues the academic honors I got when I was a student.

"It's been St. Patrick's Day for hours and I'm still not drunk yet!"

I didn't know it was St. Patrick's Day, so I was wearing tan and black today by accident.

If I'd known, I'd've done it on purpose.

May your day have been liquor-filled, unless you drive.

This makes me feel warm and giddy

A poll of European Scouts and Girl Guides find that they're perhaps not what their Scoutmasters have tried to make them:
One quarter of the girls and 12 per cent of the boys said they would consider a same-sex experience. Some Scout associations around the world bar homosexuals from their ranks although this is not the case in Britain.

More than 80 per cent of those questioned said they were happy to get drunk and almost half said they would smoke marijuana if offered.

Nine out of 10 Scouts and Guides said they expected to have sex before they got married, and almost half said they would be happy to commit adultery.


Half the respondents said they believed in God, 39 per cent said they had the right to an abortion if they needed one, and 91 per cent said they happily downloaded pirated material from the internet.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Attempted throwback in Oregon

Two legislators in Oregon are trying to repeal the law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing and employment:
Two Yamhill County lawmakers are planning a statewide ballot initiative to repeal the gay-rights law passed by the 2007 Legislature to prohibit discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation.

State Sen. Gary George and Rep. Kim Thatcher, both Newberg Republicans, have submitted a ballot title to state elections officials, who said they will accept public comments through March 25.

The draft title of the proposed statutory amendment reads: "Removes sexual orientation from statutes listing impermissible discrimination grounds; deletes other sexual orientation-related provisions."


George said Friday that the backlash might help his initiative, because it exposes the intolerance of gay-rights supporters.

Senator George wants to be able to fire people for no reason other than that they are gay... but we're the intolerant ones.

Thus runs the convoluted mind of the homophobe.

Return of Spreading freedom and liberty as only Americans can. Or at least only as Americans do.

The Red Cross says that Iraq is now in worse shape than it was under Saddam:
Iraq is now in a "worse shape" than it was under Saddam Hussein, with millions living without even the most basic medical care or access to clean water.

This is despite five years of military operations which have cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, 135 British personnel killed and £6.4bn of taxpayers' money.

The grim picture emerged as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published a report warning that Iraqi hospitals were still lacking beds, drugs and medical staff, while the poor public water supply has forced some families to use at least one-third of their average monthly income buying clean drinking water.

"Five years after the outbreak of the war in Iraq, the humanitarian situation in most of the country remains among the most critical in the world," it said, describing Iraq's healthcare system as "now in worse shape than ever".

It warned that those who had fled their homes during the conflict remained extremely vulnerable.

This article has a little more to say about the health care:
Iraqi hospitals are among the hardest hit, with many lacking qualified staff, basic drugs and facilities that are not properly maintained, the Red Cross said. Public hospitals only provide 30,000 beds — less than half of the 80,000 needed.

With an average daily wage of less than $5, few Iraqis can afford to seek help in private clinics where consultations cost from $2 to $7.

The Red Cross said Iraqi officials estimate that more than 2,200 doctors and nurses have been killed and more than 250 kidnapped since 2003. Of the 34,000 doctors registered in 1990, at least 20,000 have left the country.


But what about the Australian Canadians?

This is a couple months old, but I myself just learned about it (initially via BoingBoing): in the South, "Canadian" is being used as a code word for "black":
It was a routine e-mail from the boss sent to congratulate a junior prosecutor in Houston, Tex., who had won manslaughter convictions against an intoxicated driver.

"He convicted Mr. Sosa of a double intoxication manslaughter, got a weak jury to give him 12 years in each, and then convinced Judge Wallace to stack the sentences," Harris County assistant district attorney Mike Trent wrote in an office-wide memo. Then came the odd part: "He overcame a subversively good defence by Matt Hennessey that had some Canadians on the jury feeling sorry for the defendant and forced them to do the right thing."

The e-mail was sent in 2003 but came to light only this month as part of an unrelated controversy with his office, forcing Mr. Trent to defend himself against accusations of bigotry -- not because he offended the people of Canada, but because "Canadian" has apparently become a code word for blacks among American racists.


An online directory of racial slurs defines Canadian as a "masked replacement" for black.

Last August, a blogger in Cincinnati going by the name CincyBlurg reported that a black friend from the southeastern U.S. had recently discovered that she was being called a Canadian. "She told me a story of when she was working in a shop in the South and she overheard some of her customers complaining that they were always waited on by a Canadian at that place. She didn't understand what they were talking about and assumed they must be talking about someone else," the blogger wrote.

"After this happened several times with different patrons, she mentioned it to one of her co-workers. He told her that 'Canadian' was the new derogatory term that racist Southerners were using to describe persons they would have previously referred to [with the N-word.]"

A similar case in Kansas City was reported last year on a Listserv, or electronic mailing list, used by linguistics experts. A University of Kansas linguist said that a waitress friend reported that "fellow workers used to use a name for inner-city families that were known to not leave a tip: Canadians. 'Hey, we have a table of Canadians.... They're all yours.' "

The "online directory of racial slurs" is the Racial Slur Database, found here. CincyBlurg's post on the issue is here. The Language Log has a post with links to the Listserv mentioned in the final paragraph.

This page has some more on that Texas case (though if you really want to know more, go here). It also includes this gem:
Canadian is the racist code word for Nigger, like Australian is the code word for gays

Isn't it fascinating what people will do in order to cling to their bigotry yet avoid societal repercussions for it? Really, this is brilliant--Canada is a majority white, so people wouldn't suspect you were using the word to refer to black people. But it's also a fact that most Americans wouldn't care if you slander someone by nationality rather than race (or even sexual orientation)--and especially not in the case of Canada, the brunt of so many American jokes. You could talk about how stupid you think "Canadians" are, or how violent they are, and you might get some weird looks ("Violent Canadians?") but wouldn't face the stigma of racism.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am enthralled by this revelation.

If only they had pigs to drive the demons into

This is abhorrent. A secretive ministry in Australia, Mercy Ministries, has been taking in young women with the promise of helping them, giving them psychiatric and medical treatment, but instead it's been berating them with Bible studies and exorcisms.

A SECRETIVE ministry with direct links to Gloria Jean's Coffees and the Hillsong Church has been deceiving troubled young women into signing over months of their lives to a program that offers scant medical or psychiatric care, instead using Bible studies and exorcisms to treat mental illness.

Government agencies such as Centrelink have also been drawn into the controversy, as residents are required to transfer their benefits to Mercy Ministries. There are also allegations that the group receives a carers payment to look after the young women.

Mercy Ministries says 96 young women have "graduated" from its program since its inception in 2001. But many have been expelled without warning and with no follow up or support.

Three former residents who have felt the full force of Mercy's questionable programs are blowing the whistle on its emotionally cruel and medically unproven techniques, detailing abuse including exorcisms, "separation contracts" between girls who became friends, and harsh discipline for those who broke the rules.

Naomi Johnson, Rhiannon Canham-Wright and Megan Smith (Megan asked to use an assumed name) went into Mercy Ministries independent young women, and came out broken and suicidal, believing, as Mercy staff had told them repeatedly, that they were possessed by demons and that Satan controlled them.

Only careful psychological and psychiatric care over several years brought them back from the edge.

Taking in girls and women aged 16 to 28, Mercy Ministries claims to offer residents support from "psychologists, general practitioners, dietitians, social workers, [and] career counsellers". These claims are made on its website, and the programs are promoted through Gloria Jean's cafes throughout Australia.

But these former residents say no medical or psychological services were provided - just an occasional, monitored trip to a GP, where the consultation takes place in the presence of a Mercy Ministries staff member or volunteer.

Instead, the program is focused on prayer, Christian counselling and expelling demons from in and around the young women, who say they begged Mercy Ministries to let them get medical help for the conditions they were suffering, which included bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and anorexia.

The Ministry didn't bother to deny the charges; instead, they fell back to the standard woo claim of offering "a holistic client-focused approach"--which essentially means "stuff that doesn't work".

Psychiatrists are likening this ministry to a cult and say that it's just going to damage people if they don't get proper treatment:
THE Christian-based counselling program run by Mercy Ministries has been condemned by psychiatrists, who have labelled it cult-like and warned that it puts the lives of young women at risk.

"What an organisation like this is doing is quite high risk - high risk for the young women and high risk for these [Bible college] students to be taking on these complex cases," said Louise Newman, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Newcastle and a former director of the NSW Institute of Psychiatry.

"There is always the potential of self harm and possible suicidal behaviour."

Placing young women with mental health issues in an isolated house with little contact with their families or qualified medical and psychiatric care could exacerbate, rather than alleviate, their symptoms, she said.


People with mental illness had long been vulnerable to cult-like movements run under the guise of churches or religious groups such as Mercy Ministries, said Ian Hickie, the executive director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney.

"They are one of the groups most preyed upon by those fundamentalist religions. You have to worry about any group that takes in young women without review - the more secretive, the less open to review, the more likely abuse is to happen, that has been the repeated history of closed institutions and cult-like groups throughout the ages."

And this article has a lot more detailed accounts of what the three women who've stepped forward went through at Mercy. A snippet:
Counselling involved working through a white folder containing pre-scripted prayers.

"Most of the staff were current Bible studies or Bible college students, and that is it, if anything. You just cannot play around with mental illness when you do not know what you are doing. Even professionals will acknowledge that it is a huge responsibility working in that field, and that is people who have six years, eight years university study behind them."

And while there was nothing that was formally termed "exorcism" in the Sydney house, Naomi was forced to stand in front of two counsellors while they prayed and spoke in tongues around her. In her mind, it was an exorcism. "I felt really stupid just standing there - they weren't helping me with the things going on in my head. I would ask staff for tools on how to cope with the urges to self harm … and the response was: 'What scriptures are you standing on? Read your Bible."

Johnson had grown up in a Christian family; her belief in God was not the issue; anorexia and self harm were. "A major sticking point was when they told me I needed to receive the holy Spirit in me and speak in tongues, to raise my hands in worship songs and jump up and down on the spot in fast songs. I told them that I really didn't understand how jumping up and down to a fast song at church was going to fix the anorexia, and yet that was a big, big sticking point, because it showed I was being resistant, cynical and holding back."

And for balance's sake, here's Mercy's reply to some of the allegations:
The executive manager of programs with Mercy Ministries, Judy Watson, is proud of the organisation's achievements, and rejects the claim that there are no staff qualified in psychiatry, psychology or counselling.

It appears that there is one registered psychologist at Mercy's Sydney house, although the Herald understands that the little contact she has with the residents is around scriptures, not psychological care. She did not respond to a request for an interview.

In a written statement, Watson said: "Mercy Ministries counselling staff are required to have tertiary education and qualifications in counselling, social work or psychology. Staff also participate in externally provided supervision from psychologists."

Yet she was unable to detail what qualifications each staff member had, or how many had qualifications beyond their one registered psychologist.

On the allegations that young women are denied medical and psychiatric care, Watson had this to say: "Residents' mental and physical health concerns are taken very seriously, and appropriate treatment is made available.

"Mercy Ministries provides a range of services to young women in the program. Mercy Ministries provides services through either health professionals employed by Mercy Ministries, subcontracted to provide services to residents at Mercy Ministries, or taken to specialists at their practice."

In short, empty claims without any evidence to back them up.


Get a free copy of A Practical Guide to Racism!

Hoy there! Do you want a copy of A Practical Guide to Racism? Are you too niggardly to fork over the mere $20 to buy a copy of the book? Well, now you can get one for free! C.H. Dalton is running a contest with the prize being an autographed copy of his book.
Create your own stereotype and e-mail it to chdalton (at) by April 12th for a chance to win a copy of A Practical Guide to Racism.

The stereotype can be about any race, species, nationality, or gender, and will be judged on creativity and insightfulness. The winning entry will be awarded a copy of the book signed by the author.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Damned if they do, damned if they don't, damned if they exist

I just found this poem about prejudice against Asian immigrants and workers in the United States, and I liked it so much I thought I'd share. It was written by Ambrose Bierce for one of his newspaper articles in 1878, which was reprinted in S.T. Joshi's Documents of American Prejudice:
John Chinaman, your race I hate,
Because you "won't assimilate."
You say you will? I know you will,
And so, my lad, I'll hate you still.
For what you will, or will not, do,
I hate you, and for t'other too.
Severely hold yourself aloof,
Or eat of salt beneath my roof.
A beggar be, or earn your bread
By thieving, or by work instead.
Bring Mrs. John and make a home;
Or mateless o'er the country roam;
Or, if your taste incline you, bring
That other woman--horrid thing!--
To learn our language and compete
With ladies of the larger feet.
Eat rat unspiced, or mutton spiced,
And worship Joss, or Jesus Christ.
(Man's creed depends, and much beside,
On what he eats, and if it's fried;
And heathen merely are a folk
Their pig that purchase in a poke
And cook it like John Rogers, one
Or Persecution's overdone.)
Our laws examine, with intent
To guilty plead, or innocent,
When haled before the magistrate
To justify your broken pate;
Or don't examine. All is one--
I'll hate you from the rise of the sun
Until (also because) the seas
Allay his flame--until you please
To stand aside and make a ring
For Paddy when he's brandishing
His fair and lordy length of ear
In this contracted hemisphere.


You always hurt the country you love

Bush thinks that patriotism = breaking the law and encroaching on civil liberties:
Companies that may have helped us save lives should be thanked for their patriotic service, not subjected to billion-dollar lawsuits that would make them less willing to help in the future.

I think that explains most of his presidency.

So maybe we shouldn't be asking, "Why does Bush hate America?", but rather "Why does Bush love America?"

Really, please stop it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

But they're brown, and therefore evil

Dave Neiwert has an excellent post up debunking six major myths surrounding undocumented immigrants.
An early page in the poll, headlined "Biggest Concerns About Illegal Immigration," featured the public responses to a set of concerns that were identified by the pollsters as the most common issues raised in focus groups, letting the poll respondents say what their "one or two biggest concerns about illegal immigration today" might be. They ran thus:
Immigrants receiving free public services such as health care (48%)

Immigrants not paying taxes (35%)

Takes jobs from Americans and lowers wages (20%)

Too many immigrants aren't learning English (20%)

Weakens our security against terrorism (18%)

Causing crime problems in many communities (17%)

If you look down that list, something stands out: Each item reflects a fear based either on outright false information or on gross distortions from a highly selective set of facts.

Readers of our earlier discussions of the immigration debate will already be familiar with the groundlessness of most of these concerns, but it's still worthwhile going through them, and getting the requisite reality checks, so we can see just how far astray from anything rational we're wandering in this debate.

Read the whole thing.

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Recreational Sex Edition

If you'll recall, in this post I said that a key rule in defaming a class of people is to convince people that, in Zapp Brannigan's words, "they stand for everything we don't stand for." If you value truthfulness, say that they are liars; if you value bravery, say that they are cowards; if you value strength, say that they are weak; if you value brevity, say that they are garrulous. You may think that last one is silly, but this simple principle can be--and has been--applied to pretty much anything.

As an example, here's a paragraph from R.W. Shufeldt's 1907 work, The Negro a Menace to American Civilization:
In the negro all passions, emotions and ambitions are almost wholly subservient to the sensual instinct, and that quite apart from the sexual or procreative instinct, for an individual of this race is yet to be found who has ever had congress with the opposite sex, having only in mind the making of a child. They copulate solely for the gratification of the passion--for the erotic pleasure it affords them. In other words, negroes are purely animal, that is, in the sense of quadrupedal animals, in this respect. Nor should we expect anything different from this; civilization and progressive civilization are altogether meaningless to them, consequently posterity has practically no interest for them. They live in the present, and being essentially without morals, and, as a rule, being equipped far above the average man for sensual indulgences, he gives that side of his nature full sway, when no restrictions of any kind whatever are present to hinder.

Shufeldt thought sex should only be for making babies, so he has to say that Negroes don't. They fuck for fun! Can you imagine anything more heinous?

Thursday, March 13, 2008


The Senate investigation of "prosperity gospel" churches has gotten an influential ally:
The Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has thrown his support behind an investigation of allegations of lavish spending and lax oversight at a half-dozen "prosperity gospel" Christian ministries.

The investigation into the ministries' private planes, oceanside mansions, board oversight and involvement in for-profit businesses has divided the broader evangelical community, with some worrying about the potential for stricter regulations on all religious nonprofits. Others praise it as an overdue check on a corner of the movement that preys on the vulnerable and thrives despite years of negative publicity.

Sen. Max Baucus of Montana joined with Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley in urging cooperation from four ministries. According to a statement from Grassley's office Wednesday, the four ministries have not responded to questions he posed in early November.


While Grassley has emphasized he is not interested in theology, [Kenneth] Copeland and [Creflo] Dollar in particular have questioned whether he is targeting the ministries' shared prosperity theology. That teaching says that God wants people to flourish financially and spiritually.

Funny how god wants people to flourish financially, but the only ones who he seems to reward with riches are the pastors of these churches and not their members....

Top wo nerae!

Astronauts to Work on Giant Robot!

I don't care what the article says. I will imagine that they are constructing Gunbuster up there.

Hooray for APsaA!

The American Psychoanalytic Association issued a position statement on gay marriage. They're for it:
WHEREAS homosexuality is a normal variant of adult sexuality and,

WHEREAS gay men and lesbians possess the same potential and desire for sustained loving and lasting relationships as heterosexuals and,

WHEREAS same-sex couples are raising children and have the same potential and desire as heterosexual couples to love and parent children and,

WHEREAS existing marriage laws in the United States discriminate against same-sex couples and,

WHEREAS same-sex couples and their children are adversely affected by these discriminatory marriage laws and,

WHEREAS the milestone of marriage moves a couple and its children into full citizenship in American society and, WHEREAS discriminatory marriage laws deprive gay and lesbian couples of over 1000 federal rights and benefits and,

WHEREAS the denial of such benefits has been demonstrated to have significant psychological and social impact on gay and lesbian couples and their families, and the converse, that research is now substantiating the benefit that accrues to married same-sex couples and their children

The American Psychoanalytic Association supports the legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage with all the rights, benefits and responsibilities conferred by civil marriage, and opposes discrimination against same-sex couples, and the denial to same-sex couples these same rights, benefits and responsibilities.

That page dates the statement as being from January 2007, but for whatever reason it's getting into the news now:
We want people to think about the broad impact the denial of same-sex marriage has on Americans today, says Ethan Grumbach, Ph.D., chair of APsaA's Committee on Gay and Lesbian Issues. Families exist in many different ways and it is important for same-sex couples to have legal and societal recognition of their unions for themselves, their children, and their extended families.

APsaAs Committee on Gay and Lesbian Issues reviewed extensive research on homosexual relationships and gay and lesbian parents and their children prior to issuing this statement in January 2008. Some relevant statistics and research results are:


-- In a 2006 paper, Charlotte Patterson concluded, Results of the research (of various population samples of lesbian and gay families) suggest that qualities of family relationships are more tightly linked with child (development) outcomes than is parental sexual orientation.


How dare gays think they're a minority!

So protests Bishop Joseph Devine:
Gay rights activists hit back yesterday after a Catholic bishop challenged the homosexual community's attendance at the annual Holocaust memorial service.

The Rt Rev Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell and president of the Catholic Education Commission, said in a lecture that the gay lobby went to the memorial to present the "image of a group of people under persecution".

He also pointed out that actor Sir Ian McKellen was given a New Year's honour for services to gay rights, whereas Oscar Wilde was locked up only a century ago for homosexual acts.

Yeah. I mean, sure, gays aren't afforded the same rights as straights, and you've got people who insist that they can't be allowed to adopt, or even be allowed near children. You've got people who compare gays to cancer and terrorists. You've got people who kill people because they're gay or because they're thought to be gay. You've got countries where people can be executed for being gay, and those people have to try to flee the country. And it wasn't even five years ago that the U.S. stopped throwing gays in jail "for homosexual acts", much less a full century.

But Britain doesn't throw gays in jail anymore!

Well, yes. That's progress--but that doesn't mean they're not persecuted.
Bishop Devine said: "The homosexual lobby has been extremely effective in aligning itself with minority groups. It is ever-present at the service each year for the Holocaust memorial, as if to create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution. We neglect the gay movement at our peril.

How dare the gay population align itself with minority groups! Everyone knows that gays are a majority of the population. (Maybe that's just among the repressed homophobes that Bishop Devine fraternizes with?)

And yes, damn the "homosexual lobby" for showing up at the Holocaust memorial, sucking up sympathy like a vampire! They're just taking sympathy away from real victims of the Holocaust, like the gays:
Calum Irving, director of the gay rights group Stonewall Scotland, said yesterday that lesbian and gay people were among groups targeted by the Nazis for extermination - together with Jews, communists and gypsies.

He said: "It is a shameful disgrace anyone should try to deny that, especially a man supposedly of the Christian faith. A lot of his remarks are unchristian and out of step with a great swathe of Christian people throughout Scotland. As for Oscar Wilde - is he saying gay people should be thrown in jail now as they were a century ago?"

According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, approximately 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals by the Third Reich between 1933 and 1945.

Estimates of the number of homosexuals who died in internment camps range upwards from 10,000. Nazi doctors also experimented with medical procedures, including castration and hormone injections, in bogus efforts to "cure" homosexuals.

A Catholic Church spokesman said: "The Bishop was accusing the gays of today of trying to adopt the mantle of victimhood of those who were persecuted by the Nazis."

The nerve of those people to remember that gays were persecuted by the Nazis! Isn't it enough for them that we don't throw them in jail for having sex? What more do they want!?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Your zombie racist of yesteryear

I know this is back from 2005, but I just found it. Your zombie racist is Rush Limbaugh:
So invasive species like mollusks and spermatozoa are not good, and we've got a federal judge say, "You can't bring it in here," but invasive species in the form of illegal immigration is fine and dandy -- bring 'em on, as many as possible, legalize them wherever we can, wherever they go, no matter what they clog up. So we're going to break the bank; we're going to bend over backwards. The federal judiciary is going to do everything it can to stop spermatozoa and mollusks from coming in, but other invasive species? We're supposed to bend over and grab the ankles and say, "Deal with it." Well, the mollusks may be brought in against their will. My point is they don't know where they are, and they, frankly, don't care. So if you ship them out -- but we can't ship 'em out. It's not that we can't ship 'em out. We're not going to be able to bring 'em in now, but invasive species that, say, on their own power and of their own desire and volition cross the border and come here, we can't say diddly-squat about it.

Man, I hardly thought anyone was a polygenist nowadays, but leave it to Rush Limbaugh to prove me wrong.

It's just amazing

...the sort of things Bush vows to veto:
President Bush has pledged to veto any legislation that would "stifle" Christian broadcasters' freedom to spread their message.


President Bush said, "We know who these advocates of so-called balance really have in their sights: shows hosted by people like Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson."

He would veto legislation (admittedly, I think it's ludicrous and lousy legislation) so he can keep Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson on the air.

That probably says something profound about our president and our culture at large, but I'm blanking.

The first female running mate bashes the first black candidate

I just want to echo the sentiments of this post:
"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up," Ferraro said. "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

How's that? It's insipid and petulant. It mocks the very real racism that has dogged Obama on this campaign (and don't think that there hasn't been any) and makes light of the very real culture of racism that affects every black person in America.

Fortunately, Ferraro has stepped down from her position in the Clinton campaign.

John Howard is a dick

Remember how Australia finally apologized for its treatment of Aborigines a month ago? In that post I mentioned "The previous prime minister, John Howard, refused to apologize for what previous administrations had done."

Now he's come out and defended that decision:
FORMER prime minister John Howard has defended his decision not to say sorry to Australia's Aborigines during his 11 years in power and criticised the Rudd Government's apology to the stolen generations.

In a take-no-prisoners question and answer session with students at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Mr Howard said he did not believe that one generation could apologise for the actions of another, and, anyway, some children had been removed from their parents for good reason and others were given up voluntarily.

"I do not believe as a matter of principle that one generation can accept responsibility for the acts of earlier generation," he said. "In some cases, children were wrongly removed, in other cases they were removed for good reason, in other cases they were given up and in other cases, the judgement on the removal is obscure or difficult to make."

I find this attitude, common among libertarians and conservatives, that the present-day population cannot be held accountable for the atrocities of the past, to be abhorrent. Why do you insist on letting these wounds fester and linger just because someone else inflicted them? Kevin Rudd himself might not have snatched Aborigine babies from their cribs in the night, but the country he represents did--and the country needs to make clear that it regrets having done so. The effects of actions like child-snatching, or slavery, or Jim Crow, or apartheid, echo throughout multiple generations. They don't only affect the people who were victims at the time, but also their children and their children's children. You can't sweep that all under the rug by saying "Well, that all happened in the past." No! Its effects are still happening today!

And don't even get me started on the "stealing their babies was a good thing in some cases, maybe it's a gray area."
Mr Howard warned that an apology also ran the risk of people thinking they had now "ticked the box" on action to redress the problems of indigenous Australia, which he said included unacceptably high mortality compared to whites.

This is a valid issue: just an apology is not enough. There must be more action taken to address the woes of these people, and we should let no-one think otherwise. However, that is no reason to avoid apologizing in addition to working towards bettering their condition.