28 May 2009

It's a conspiracy!

For those into those sorts of things, AlterNet has released the ten most pervasive conspiracy theories and myths out there.  They cover most of them, but there are a few I would have included that they didn't.  Like...most religions.  Just because a conspiracy theory is old doesn't mean it's any more true.

But I digress...


Sonia Sotomayor's "racist quote"

Here is the full quote from Sonia Sotomayor, a snippet of which is being vomited all over the media, as part of the Right's smear campaign against this highly qualified woman:

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.  Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases.  I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle.  I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement.  First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise.  Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society.  Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case.  I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group.  Many are so capable.  As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give.  For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others.  Other simply do not care.  Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.  My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar.  I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging.  But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.

Huh!  You know, in context...you mean...oh, she wasn't saying what the Right says she was saying at all, was she?

You mean right-wing talkers are unabashed liars, down to a person?

You don't say.

And to anyone who would say a word about Sotomayor's qualifications, I can only point out:

1.  More experience than any Supreme Court Justice from the last, oh, 100 years.
2.  Her actual rate of cases overturned is 3 out of 3,000 cases she adjudicated.  So, um, sorry, that whole "high reversal rate" thing is a big fat lie, too.  By another metric, her reversal rate, taking into account only cases in which she ruled AND the Supreme Court heard an appeal, is 60%.  The average reversal rate for the cases the Supreme Court hears?  Over 70%.  Wait, hey, that means...Sotomayor is better than the average justice out there.  Huh!  Of course, that falls squarely into "Meaningless Right Wing Talking Point" territory anyway, since I guarantee that most people spouting off about Judge Sotomayor's reversal rate have no clue why she was reversed, when she was.  More on this reversal business here, including the fact that, surprise, this lie seems to have come from the Reverend Moon's Moonie Washington Times.  Why does the Right love that Moonie paper so much?  I've always found that so bizarre.
3.  You're talking about qualifications...have you freaks forgotten Harriet Miers?  Seriously?  You people really do rant and drool at whatever your overlords plug into the Two Minutes Hate, don't you?


You can read the full speech at the above link.


27 May 2009

Bush v. Gore lawyers join forces, file federal lawsuit to overturn Prop 8

Hm.  I have to admit that I'm of two minds on this:

Two prominent attorneys who argued on opposite sides of Bush vs. Gore, the legal battle over the 2000 presidential election, announced Tuesday that they will challenge Proposition 8 in federal court and seek to restore gay marriage until the case is decided.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, who represented then-Vice President Al Gore in the contested election, have joined forces to tackle the same-sex marriage issue, which has deeply divided Californians and left 18,000 gay couples married last year in legal isolation.

In a project of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Olson and Boies have united to represent two same-sex couples filing suit after being denied marriage licenses because of Proposition 8.

Their suit, to be filed in U.S. District Court in California, calls for an injunction against the proposition, allowing immediate reinstatement of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

On one hand, it goes without saying that an accurate interpretation of the US Constitution, as well as the California State Constitution, calls for equal protection for all citizens, and that anyone with a sane grasp of reality understands that sexual orientation should be included as a suspect class, and that denying marriage rights to gays is, simply put, unconstitutional.  The California Supreme Court understood that before they decided to lay down and die in front of the bigot steamroller.  So, if these lawyers are truly confident that they will win this, then great.

But this is federal court, which means it's very likely to end up at the US Supreme Court, and the Roberts court is still full of absolute buffoons, and it goes without saying that their names are Scalia, Alito, Roberts, and The Molestor.  That's four worthless votes from four people whose minds will already be made up before they hear the first argument.  So, I'm just not sure the US Supreme Court is grown up enough, yet, to handle something as crucial as civil rights.

As it happens, Freedom to Marry, in concert with other GLBT advocacy organizations, released a statement discouraging people from filing federal lawsuits, as they believe that the voting booth is the next best step in the fight for equality.  I'm inclined to agree.  At the moment, the 50 US states are so different from each other that, quite frankly, while Iowa may be ready to legalize same-sex marriage, Alabama is still butthurt over the fact that they can't arrest "sodomites" anymore.  (Boo hoo, wingnuts.)  There will be a time (long before Alabama is ready to legalize same-sex marriage) that the Supreme Court is the appropriate venue, and at that point, Alabamans (really, I hate to just pick out one state, but they're such a good example) will just have to suck it up and deal with the fact that gay people deserve equal rights in a free society.  (And if they don't like it, you know, leave.)  But at this point, there are enough parts of the country, both geographically and demographically, where public opinion is moving toward supporting equality at a rapid rate relative to, say, the racial civil rights struggles of the mid-20th century.  I just have a sense that these attorneys could be pulling the federal court trigger just a little bit too soon.  

We shall see, I suppose, but I'm just a bit uncomfortable with it.


I'm trying to be nicer and less cussy on this blog

But I just have to ask: 

Who the FUCK cares what John "Torture is awesome!" Yoo thinks about Sonia Sotomayor?

Really?  Like, who?  And what's your name?  Dick Cheney, you say?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Jesus Christ...

Thers has more "WTF!" action at his pad.


Is Mike Huckabee a Shark or a Jet?

Formerly lovably large Arkansas governor and current failure Mike Huckabee has managed to be both campy and racist, mistakenly referring to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as...Maria.  

Embarrassing, really.

I'm going to have to go the route Christy Hardin Smith went (due to how gay I really am, sometimes) and use this as a gratuitous opportunity to post me some "West Side Story."  

"Maria - I've just met a girl named Maria - And suddenly that name - Will never be the same to me..."

Oh, Sonia, I'm truly sorry Republicans are such gratuitous racists.  (As opposed to "reverse racists," as Rush calls minorities when they don't kneel and bob for every conservative white man they see; in Rush's mind, dark-skinned people simply can't be regular racists, because that's for white people, kthx.)

Okay, here's yr "West Side Story."



Tbogg points out that Norm Coleman has released a statement which essentially says that when he gets back to the Senate (cute!), he's totally going to go after that Sonia Sotomayor lady (adorable!).  Tbogg also points out that "when [Norm] grows up he's going to stay up all night and eat candy.  Whenever.  He.  Wants."


So exciting for Norm!

When I was little, I convinced myself, based on no knowledge of reality, that we were going to go to the toy store and buy a real miniature version of the cars my parents drove, which would be street legal, and which I could use to transport myself around from now on.  I was seven or so.  It did not come to pass.

Awwww, Norm!  This is just like that!


Like caged dogs who fancy themselves rabid, but sadly find themselves more Pekingese

Or something.

Continuing with the light posting, but there is nothing so magically wonderfully funny as when wingnuts direct their cheeto-paws inward and fight amongst themselves.


26 May 2009

Yay Boo!

Yay: Obama nominating Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. From what I've read, I like her.

Boo: California Supreme Court for subjugating its authority to the petulant, uninformed will of bigots. That fight isn't over, though. California will have marriage equality. Why? Well, the opposition is dying out. Blunt, yes, but true.

Light posting for a few days (I know, I just started the blog again...), because my computer is misbehaving.

Back soon!


"Welcome To England"

I said there would be music.

Tori Amos is and probably always will be my favorite, so it's fitting that the first music post on the new blog should be a Tori song.  Conveniently, she played "Welcome to England" on The Tonight Show the other night.



Larnin' to Talk Good!

I'm a grammar dork. So is the rest of my family. My mother used to terrorize me whenever I used the word "sentence," because I pronounced it "sinnince," as so many do. These days, I speak in "senTences" and I will correct you if I hear you say otherwise. I told my mother the other day that she needs to stop moaning and groaning about how neither of her children learned any lessons from her, because my insane neurosis when it comes to speaking correctly didn't just appear.  It came from her!  I even use pronouns correctly. For example, did you know that the following exchange is intrinsically evil and stupid?

Person A:  Was that Bill, passing in his car?

Person B:  Yes, that was him!

(NO!  It wasn't "him," Stupid Person B!  It was he, dammit, HE!  Why are you so stupid?!)


So it follows that this website makes me very, very happy.


25 May 2009

Catch These Men

If you didn't see SNL the other night, there was a special all-star Celebrity Jeopardy skit, and it was just as good as you would expect, right down to the Sean Connery.


Thanks and No Thanks

Thank you, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for calling for equal benefits to be given to same-sex spouses of State employees.  It may require repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (in which case, go on, do that), but she's on the right track.

No thank you, Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons, who vetoed legislation providing for domestic partnerships in that state.  The veto could be overridden, especially if the very large, very powerful gaming interests in the state have their way.  So we'll see.


Reminder: Fate of Proposition 8 to be released tomorrow

At 10 AM Pacific time.

Keep your fingers crossed, pray if you pray, whatever else, that hatred and bigotry will not win the day, and that the California Supreme Court sticks to its original reasoning, which understood that the US Constitution must be interpreted in light of actual reality, rather than the reality conjured up by politically active, anti-gay religio-bigots.


What purpose does Stephen Baldwin serve?

It's unclear.

The fact that he's allowed to give political commentary of any kind is a testament to the sorry state of the American media.  (I know it's Fox & Friends, which doesn't really qualify as "news," but still!)


"Angels and Demons"

I've heard from multiple parties that the film kind of blows, and I don't care, because I read the book, and it was sort of middling, so whatever.

But Choire Sicha's review of it is wonderful, choosing as it does to dispense with the "plot" entirely and just focus on the fact that Ayelet Zurer keeps losing and finding and again losing her purse throughout the film.  Read it!


A digital tribute to fallen heroes

This is pretty wild...Google Earth has unveiled this digital tribute to the troops lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Definitely worth a watch.


The true meaning of Memorial Day

I could write a whole post about it, but Ed at Gin and Tacos has already said it better than I could.

Memorial Day is about a lot more than yellow ribbons, slogans and catchphrases about "supporting the troops."

Go read it.


The strangest screed against gay marriage I've ever seen

A little while back, Amanda at Pandagon said something profound about the deepest roots of opposition to marriage equality:

This is part of the reason that same-sex marriage is such a major league threat to conservatives.  Same-sex weddings don’t have the person with power and the person whose status was elevated by being chosen.  So you’re stuck with celebrating their love, and that’s going to have an influence on how straight weddings are understood.

I thought it was profound, but I really hadn't considered just how utterly correct she really was until I came upon this screed from a writer named Sam Schulman.  At the outset, he acknowledges, in a backward kind of way, that the only arguments against same-sex marriage are based in either religious fundamentalism or general bigotry, neither of which have any place in deciding or allotting rights in a free society.  So he embarks on the noble task of making an argument against marriage equality based in neither of those things, and oh wow, it's strange.  You see, the real reason gay marriage is bad is because, um...well, because straight marriage is miserably bound up in the patriarchy and keeps women in their place, and, like, gays can't be part of that!  Seriously, it's weird.  Brad at Sadly, No! has already parsed this piece up one side and down the other, and you should read that in its entirety, but I'll highlight a couple of the atrocities, and you can read the rest for yourself.

Schulman argues that the REAL reason gay marriage is bad is because it's not part of the "kinship system," which has nothing to do with love, and really, it sucks, my god, it sucks, but it's also "majestic," and...

Reason #1:

The first is the most important: It is that marriage is concerned above all with female sexuality. The very existence of kinship depends on the protection of females from rape, degradation, and concubinage. This is why marriage between men and women has been necessary in virtually every society ever known. Marriage, whatever its particular manifestation in a particular culture or epoch, is essentially about who may and who may not have sexual access to a woman when she becomes an adult, and is also about how her adulthood--and sexual accessibility--is defined. 

Uhm.  Because the last thing we want is women themselves deciding who has sexual access to her.  Must.  Have.  Patriarchal.  System.  To.  Guard.  Vaginas!  He continues:

This most profound aspect of marriage--protecting and controlling the sexuality of the child-bearing sex--is its only true reason for being, and it has no equivalent in same-sex marriage.

Like, he's not even pretending this screed isn't anti-woman at its core.  Usually base misogyny is covered by euphemisms, but not this guy!

Reason #2:

...kinship modifies marriage by imposing a set of rules that determines not only whom one may marry (someone from the right clan or family, of the right age, with proper abilities, wealth, or an adjoining vineyard), but, more important, whom one may not marry. Incest prohibition and other kinship rules that dictate one's few permissible and many impermissible sweethearts are part of traditional marriage. Gay marriage is blissfully free of these constraints. There is no particular reason to ban sexual intercourse between brothers, a father and a son of consenting age, or mother and daughter.

Uhm, what?  First of all, no one's arguing that parents and children should have romantic relationships...in fact, the center of the argument is that any two consenting adults should be able to enter into marriage.  We, as a society, understand (or at least liberals do) that children are too young and immature to be considered "consenting," and so we protect them.  But basically he's saying that in gay marriage, your parents can't force you to marry the boring guy with the big "vineyard," instead of the saucy red-headed girl next door, who has no big vineyard.  Again, what?  Also, he says that gay marriage is "blissfully free" of these constraints.  It's a recurring theme in this article:  hetero marriage, with all its constraints, really sucks, and why should gays get to have all the fun marriages?

Reason #3 is just an extended riff about how gay marriage takes all the healthy, gutwrenching shame out of sex, and really, boo that, because if straight men and women have to deal with sexual shame, then the whole class does too, so nyah.

Reason #4 is where the weirdness reaches its climax:

Fourth, marriage defines the end of childhood, sets a boundary between generations within the same family and between families, and establishes the rules in any given society for crossing those boundaries. Marriage usually takes place at the beginning of adulthood; it changes the status of bride and groom from child in the birth family to adult in a new family. ... Even in modern romantic marriages, a groom becomes the hunting or business partner of his father-in-law and a member of his clubs; a bride becomes an ally of her mother-in-law in controlling her husband. There can, of course, be warm relations between families and their children's same-sex partners, but these come about because of liking, sympathy, and the inherent kindness of many people. A wedding between same-sex lovers does not create the fact (or even the feeling) of kinship between a man and his husband's family; a woman and her wife's kin. It will be nothing like the new kinship structure that a marriage imposes willy-nilly on two families who would otherwise loathe each other.

First of all, who says gay marriage doesn't bind families together?  Does this man have lots of experience with gay couples to draw this strange conclusion?  And secondly, what is with this myth, prevalent among social conservatives, that, along with controlling womens' wandering vaginas, men have to be controlled or tamed as well?  They seem not to grasp the concept that men, as sentient adults, should bear the responsibility, on their own, for acting as respectable adults, faithful to their partners, etc.  

He's starting to wrap it up now:

These four aspects of marriage are not rights, but obligations. They are marriage's "a priori" because marriage is a part of the kinship system, and kinship depends on the protection, organization, and often the exploitation of female sexuality vis-à-vis males.

Again, with the misogyny affixed firmly to his sleeve.

Few men would ever bother to enter into a romantic heterosexual marriage--much less three, as I have done--were it not for the iron grip of necessity that falls upon us when we are unwise enough to fall in love with a woman other than our mom. 

Weird Oedipal reference, and also this guy's been married three times.  We have an authority on our hands, folks.

Anyway, to sum up, marriage is Teh Suck, women's vaginas need to be regulated, men are beasts who wouldn't treat women nicely if they didn't have to, authoritative patriarchy is necessary for propping up straight men's fragile egos, and what the hell does gay marriage have to do with any of this again?  Oh:

So if the failure of gay marriage will not affect gay people, who will it hurt? Only everybody else.

As kinship fails to be relevant to gays, it will become fashionable to discredit it for everyone. The irrelevance of marriage to gay people will create a series of perfectly reasonable, perfectly unanswerable questions: If gays can aim at marriage, yet do without it equally well, who are we to demand it of one another? Who are women to demand it of men? Who are parents to demand it of their children's lovers--or to prohibit their children from taking lovers until parents decide arbitrarily they are "mature" or "ready"?

Right.  So basically, he reaches a conclusion similar to Amanda's at the top of this post:  that the existence of marriage equality will, for some couples, filter into the mainstream, and we'll finally be able to start disposing of some of the antiquated, misogynistic and medieval aspects of chattel marriage that still exist in our culture, and start moving to a place where people truly get married because they want to marry each other, not to fulfill some sort of patriarchal societal expectation.

The difference is that people like Amanda and me see this as a good thing.  Writers like Schulman see a more egalitarian future and tremble in fear that if the jig is up, and women start to really figure out that they don't need men to make their decisions for them, then where will that leave him?

I don't know, his fourth marriage?   

Update:  Tbogg has weighed in, with a post titled "I will keep your vagina safe and warm."  You should definitely read that, too.  He's one of my favorites for a good reason.


Simply being asked to abide the law is just too much

How about some afternoon whine?  In this piece, noted Christian Right leader Gary Bauer uses the occasion of the possibility of repeal for Don't Ask, Don't Tell, to suggest that "[i]f the Left had its way, President Obama would promptly rescind the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the military and apply it to govern the conduct of another demographic -- Christians."  

That's right.  I'm sorry, but the left actually doesn't care how people worship, but we do expect all people to abide by the laws equally, and I'm so sorry, Mr. Bauer, that the rules of this war forbid us from "spreading the Word" to all the "turrists" in Afghanistan, but that's just how it is.  If Fundamentalist Christianity is really a faith for grown-ups, they should be able to handle things like that.

The rest of the piece is just the usual diatribe about Bad Things Brown People Did, and Why Do We Have To Be Nice To The Koran, blah blah blah.  

So there you go.  


Unclear on the concept

Look, I came from the "Christian world," and I'm quite aware that there's a Jesus-ified version of every product imaginable (including, they would say, "music"), but, um, cross-shaped suckers?  Really?

Because, um, not to spoil the Sunday School party or anything, but, um, that's an execution device.  A sweet, melts-in-your-mouth execution device that was, incidentally, according to the lore, used to kill God's son, and not some bastard kid either, but the one who was so close that he was also his father.  Put another way, if all of that had gone down this year, rather than 30 whatever A.D., it would be the equivalent of giving the little children sweet, miniature electric chairs or syringes to suck on.  And medieval French kids would be sucking tiny guillotines, which would cut their faces off.

Nom nom, kiddos!

Full product description here.

(h/t, in a roundabout way, Jenny, who you should be reading anyway, so clicky.)


Well, this is kind of gross

If you were needing to vomit for some reason, this ought to do the trick:

“This isn’t like your typical Nor’easter where a tree falls and your lights flicker,” said Michael Daly, founder of the buyers’ brokerage True North Realty Associates in North Haven, New York, and a Hamptons real estate blogger. “This is more like a Katrina,” he said, alluding to the historic 2005 Category 5 Hurricane. “It’s going to be a number of years before the market recovers.”

Yes, that was Hamptons home prices falling = Hurricane Katrina.  Poor people starve, lose their homes, some die...yes, it's just like when Bitsy, oh dear, wakes to find that the country manse is worth less than she paid for it.

(h/t Balk)


24 May 2009

Stand by...

New day, new city (for the moment), new blog.

There was an old blog.  It was unruly.

This one will be just as unruly, I promise.

We'll be writing about whatever we feel like writing about, though that will probably be all things related to progressive politics, gay rights, religion or the lack thereof, science and music.  Maybe some book reports.  And no clowns.  Never, ever will there be any clowns on this blog.