Friday, May 31, 2013

Right Wing World: If the Right is Hyping a Scandal, It's Probably Not Much of a Scandal

Let me predict something: if nothing comes of the IRS/Tea Party thing, the Justice Department/AP thing, and Benghazi thing, Right Wing World will continue to hype them through the end of President Obama's term, and beyond. Years after, when we have a Republican candidate caught in a scandal, you'll hear shrill cries of "Benghazi!!!!" and "Eric Holder was a traitor!!!"

Now, I'm not saying that nothing will come of these controversies, though I suspect there is far less to them than FOX "News" and Right Wing World are hoping for. Only that all it takes for them is an accusation. A patched together conspiracy theory. It can be completely debunked, and it will still be trotted out as though it is the Worst. Thing. Ever! And of course, grounds for impeachment.

So, they'll keep doing it. Truthiness is more important than truth. If it's bad, it's Obama's fault. If it's good, Obama is "spiking the football" if he claims any credit for it. It's all very weird, at least to anyone outside of the RWW bubble. Advice: don't poke your head in there if you don't have a strong stomach.

Image from source, TPM

Why GOP Scandal Mongers Can’t Have Nice Things

As Bill Clinton and John Edwards and Bill Jefferson and various others have made clear, Democrats do have scandals. Plenty of them actually. But here we have another good example of why Republicans so often have bad luck these days with bogus scandals they’re so hyped up about or ones that actually are legitimate scandals but which get overrun by so much hysterical nonsense that the actual scandal gets forgotten amidst a lava-like deluge of The Crazy. In a few words, most of the right-wing press is just astonishingly bad. . .

Read more at: Talking Points Memo

Crazy Eyes, Remixed

Video found (and headline stolen from)

Stephen King on Religion (and How NewsBusters Got it Wrong)

The awesome Stephen King, from
Yes, NewsBusters again. I just extracted myself from a fight I kind of started at the supposed "media watch dog" site that is in reality an arch right-wing commentary site. I've commented before how the NewsBusters headlines often read to me like a big list of "so whats." They list a bunch of things that are supposed to outrage, but instead, I agree with them.

Well, this time, they went too far. They focused on one of my favorite authors--and I know he's considered somehow "not literary," but I don't care--Stephen King. Now, don't think I like King simply because he's a liberal. I like Dean Koontz too, and he's an obvious Orange County conservative. Still, King's stories are more dense, more layered. And with less focus on golden retrievers, Jeep Cherokees, and slightly mismatched male/female couples who verbally spar in humorous ways in the midst of catastrophe.

But one thing they both have in common is a seeming belief in the divine. Sure, they can skew that quite a bit, toward sci-fi, toward other-worldly rather than explicitly God, but other times they'll pretty much spell out a big-time, universe creating deity. As an atheist, this only bothers me a little. I mean, we're talking aliens, monsters, other worlds, alternate dimensions, time travel and IT. I can handle a little make believe.

So, how does this come back around to NewsBusters? Well, they are using him to make it seem that this very successful liberal author has duped NPR in his interview, by supporting Intelligent Design.
I ain't gonna lie, he said something along those lines. But they emphasize that as though it is his main point, but then downplay his conclusion.

My favorite King novel and adaptation was The Stand, 
in which religion is figured heavily. It didn't bother me.
But Randall Flagg and Mother Abigail could just be
"good" and "evil," right?
And I get what he's saying. We humans often say things like, "It must have been meant to be," and "it was fate." We say these things whether we literally believe that time and elements were physically guided or not. We can feel that something was going to happen, and fall into place, without necessarily believing that a supernatural entity was cataloging, manipulating and  guiding time and space to make something happen.

But, typical of NewsBusters, they will focus on what they want you to see. And their readers--as I've learned first hand in the last few days--will take the bait, and argue it strenuously.

Here is the line they highlighted: " if you say, well, OK, I don't believe in God, there's no evidence of God, then you're missing the stars in the sky, and you're missing the sunrises and sunsets, and you're missing the fact that bees pollinate all these crops and keep us alive and the way that everything seems to work together at the same time."

What they don't want you to notice is this, "But at the same time there's a lot of things in life where you say to yourself, well, if this is God's plan, it's very peculiar. And you have to wonder about that guy's personality, the big guy's personality." And then even more clearly, "What I'm saying now is I choose to believe in God, but I have serious doubts."

I'm just saying, that conclusion doesn't really square with their headline.


Stephen King Shocks NPR Audience: Nature 'Suggests Intelligent Design' by God

On Tuesday's Fresh Air on NPR stations from coast to coast, host Terry Gross interviewed author Stephen King on his new book  "Joyland," which features a young man in a wheelchair with muscular dystrophy and his grandfather, a radio evangelist named Buddy Ross, who insists the disease is divine punishment. . .

Read more at: NewsBusters

Marcus Bachmann: Behind the Candelabra (A Kenny Pick Movie Parody)

Oh, I can't help it. I keep finding good stuff. And I just got into such a tussle on this subject with a bunch of conservatives at NewsBusters. They're bastard people! But they seem to think that Marcus Bachmann is straight, so maybe they really need to check this out. Thanks, Kenny Pick!

Can Religious Fundamentalism be "Cured?"

This lady is going to be taking some heat for this!
Image from source, Raw Story.
The atheist in me reads a headline like that and thinks, "hells yeah!" But the gay in me says, "hey, wait a minute." I know the parallels aren't perfect, but gay people would immediately get offended, and tell you they don't have a mental illness, and don't need to be cured. Which is accurate. But a religious fundamentalist would feel the same way, even though it may not be accurate. I don't know. It's an interesting, but very, very incendiary topic.


Leading neuroscientist: Religious fundamentalism may be a ‘mental illness’ that can be ‘cured’

A leading neurologist at the University of Oxford said this week that recent developments meant that science may one day be able to identify religious fundamentalism as a “mental illness” and a cure it.   . .

Read more at: Raw Story

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Michele (A Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

I know these Michele Bachmann posts are piling up, but I can't get out without posting one more from Rocky Mountain Mike. To the tune of The Beatles' Michelle.

A Michele Bachmann Retrospective

Today, I did something I do every so often. I made a comment on a conservative site. This isn't always possible, as many of them are strictly moderated and do not tolerate dissent. NewsBusters, the site I visited, does allow comments. They are moderated, but much less strictly than, say, FreeRepublic, where I've never successfully posted something. My visit was strictly curiosity to see what they were belly aching about today, after I ran a piece on them the day before.

The one item that caught my eye was a whine that sex advice columnist Dan Savage had made an "offensive" tweet. It was, in full: "Good riddance to batshit rubbish," with a link to a story about Michele Bachmann's retirement announcement. I found the statement amusing, and after retweeting it myself, I made this comment to their complaints about Savage's tweet: "Oh, lighten up. Michele is famous primarily for her loonyness. And for her husband, Liberace."

Now see, I thought I was being cute and light, especially for including a recent cultural reference to the Behind the Candelabra movie. But I forgot that NewsBusters isn't polite company. It isn't a mixed forum for all audiences. It isn't even this blog, where I occasionally get irate right-wing comments. It's an acid bath of festering rage. All dissent must not just be answered, it must be attacked and destroyed. Commenters at site don't say "hi," they have their fangs and claws bared at the first hint that you are not one of them! And for a group of (mostly) homophobes, they were especially put out that I made fun of Marcus Bachman for um. . .his. . .well, obvious contradictions.

I'd like to say I held my own, and other than one largely for effect rant, I even kept my responses even-tempered for the most part. They, um. . .do not. But before I get too far off tangent, let me say that Right Wing World sees Michele Bachmann as a hero. I don't know why. I don't know what the heck they see in her (and her cartoonish husband) that inspires such allegiance, but for all of their charges of "Obamabots," they sure can get all "Mama
Bear" about their heroes. When I pointed out that Bachmann is only well known because she is daffy, prone to mistakes, and often says outrageous things. They wanted proof (!). I provided it, but it was from a left leaning site, so they wouldn't even discuss it. On their archly right wing site. Sigh.

At this point, we'd strayed pretty far into tangents (I mean why is NewsBusters "busting" a sex advice columnist anyway?), but this had at least put it back on track. But this is my blog, and I don't find it necessary to do intensive research from strictly non-partisan sources about all the batshit things to come out of Bachmann's mouth. Not with a case so obvious. They wouldn't accept my sources anyway, no matter how good they are. I've been down that road before. But if you're curious why Ms. Bachmann has such a reputation, please watch this video from an admittedly liberal but factual source.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Glenn Beck is Caught in a Conspiracy Theory Moebius Strip

So, according to Glenn Beck, there is a conspiracy afoot. See, his conspiracy theory is that the mainstream media is conspiring to make Beck out to be a conspiracy theorist. See, and the proof that this is happening, is that Beck--by revealing his conspiracy theory--is in fact a conspiracy theorist. But then, if Beck really is a conspiracy theorist, then. . .Oh, I'm lost now.

Epic suffering Beck image from NewsCorpse

Glenn Beck’s Latest Conspiracy Theory: The Media Is Conspiring To Label Him A Conspiracy Theorist

Before anyone asks — No, that headline is not from The Onion. And the best way to demonstrate the lunacy in Glenn Beck’s most recent harangue is to let Beck do it himself: “The media has a story line and an agenda, and they will get to it. And they certainly don’t want anybody to ever think that anything is ever planned. The media has their own agenda, and if the media has a storyline, it just writes it in. And currently the storyline is ‘conspiracy theorist. . .’"

Read the rest at: NewsCorpse

Blast from the Past: Michele Bachmann Gets the Bad Lip Reading Treatment

I know that Michele Bachmann still technically has a year and a half to go to finish out her last term. But on this, her retirement announcement day, I feel moved to revisit some of the fun things about Marcus' best gal. This is a funny one from during the 2012 election, when Bachmann actually seemed to have a shot at winning the Republican nomination.

Ode to Michele Bachmann (Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

The demise of Michele Bachmann's political career (in no way related to her campaign finance scandals, no, no) gets the Rocky Mountain Mike treatment. Need I point out it parodies Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train? Enjoy.


Michele Bachmann Not Running for Re-Election in 2014

Wha?!? Really? It's a blow to comedy, that's for sure. Maybe Marcus can now be free to let his glorious rainbow flag fly?


Michele Bachmann Will Not Seek Re-Election In 2014

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) announced early Wednesday that she will not seek re-election in 2014. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

GOP Charges Obama with "Court Packing" for Attempting to Fill Seats

Two out of three look like cartoon characters. From Huffington Post.
I'd like to tell you that my reason for passing this story along is that I'm outraged that the Republicans in the Senate are misusing terminology, lying, and blocking the president's nominations all for political reasons, and showing a complete disregard for and lack of respect for the office of president.

And I am. But the real reason this inspired me was the hilariously turtle-like picture of Mitch McConnell. I mean, we've been calling him a turtle for years, but does that say it, or does that say it. Anyway, I know that's silly but there you go. It's no sillier than what the GOP is alleging here.


Republicans Charge Obama With Court-Packing For Trying To Fill Empty Seats 

Republican senators are fuming about President Barack Obama's attempt to fill empty seats on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, charging him with "court-packing" and alleging that his push to confirm nominees is all politics. But not only is Obama not "court-packing" -- a term describing an attempt to add judges to a court with the goal of shifting the balance, not filling existing vacancies -- but Republicans' efforts to prevent Obama from appointing judges amount to their own attempt to tip the scales in their favor. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Does Anybody take NewsBusters Seriously?

NewsBusters is an outlet of the "Media Research Council." Sounds legit.
When I scroll through the headlines at NewsBusters, I'm often a really bad audience for them. Far from being outraged, my response to most of them is, "Yeah. So?!?"

NewsBusters is a "media watchdog"-type website, but unlike a left-leaning counterpart like Media Matters for America, this right-leaning outfit is all about editorializing and faux outrage. They bristle at any perceived slight against conservatism, Republicans, or Christianity. And they get particularly riled if a news report is favorable to abortion rights, gay people or gun control. But it doesn't have to be from an actual news source. They get all up in the business of sex columnists like Dan Savage, talk show hosts like Stephanie Miller and Randi Rhodes, and virtually anyone who makes a big enough splash to get their notice.

Most liberals would consider a rip from NB to be a badge of honor. Because the write-ups are so drenched in right-wing-world bias, it's hilarious that the site is supposed to be ferreting out bias.

Just for fun, here are just a few headlines from this goofy site, with my comments.

This one shows the hilarity of what NewsBusters thinks is a news bias item. Michael Bolton is an entertainer. A largely non-influential entertainer at that. Who cares who Bolton supports politically, besides people interested in reading about it? What news was busted here?

In this item, NewsBusters provides a forum to "global warming skeptics"--known to most of us as crackpots--since Face the Nation didn't provide one for them. Which sounds a lot less like "news busting" to me, than trying to make your own news. And on this, they should be busted.

Brit Hume Hammers Juan Williams for Saying Eric Holder's the 'Exact Right Person' to Probe His Own Department

This is a weird one. NewsBusters is spending its "media watchdog" time to keep tabs on the opinion portion (not that it isn't all opinion) of FOX "News" Sunday, a decidedly conservative media outpost. This isn't news busting, it's highlighting the side of an argument they agree with! Talk about goofy.

NYT Feminists Still Giddy About Hillary's Chances In 2016: Any Gender Problems Have Been 'Wiped Out'

This is just one of those "yeah, so?" ones. Not at all controversial. Who cares?

NPR’s On the Media Show Mocks Glenn Beck and TheBlaze

First, On the Media sounds like less than a "hard news" show in the first place, but mocking Glenn Beck and his internet presence, The Blaze is the only rational thing you can do with the subject matter. It isn't just mock-worthy, it is itself a mockery.

So, I hereby prounonce NewsBusters busted. Their site is unworthy of notice.

Ode to Billy Bob's GOP (Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

I'm rescued from my blogging blues again by Rocky Mountain Mike (famous from The Stephanie Miller Show), with another great song parody. This one's a take on Ode to Billy Joe, and worth a listen. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Republicans Rate 3 Times More "False" Ratings Than Democrats (Politifact)

The GOP poster child for dishonesty (and bat shittery). Image from
source, Raw Story.
Politifact may have sullied its reputation--in the eyes of Rachel Maddow and her viewers at least--but they're not usually criticized for being left-leaning. But get ready for charges that they are, since they came to the unsurprising conclusion that Republicans are more dishonest than Democrats. Three times as dishonest, in fact. Politifact.


Republicans get three times more ‘false’ ratings from PolitiFact than Democrats

An analysis of PolitiFact ratings suggests Republicans are significantly less credible than Democrats.
The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University found Republican’s had made three times as many false statements as Democrats this year. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

Just Who are these "Experts" Anyway?

As a blogger, people sometimes write to me, and ask me what business I have opining on the subjects of the day. Sometimes, they call me on the carpet for my opinions, and hold me to the standards of journalism, though I do not claim to be a journalist. My retort to these people is, hey, who do you think YOU are?

For example, do these four people have any qualifications beyond what I have, as the average American citizen? I maintain that they do not. All of these men are contemporaries, within a few years either way of my age bracket. All of them would have graduated high school and come of age in the late 1970s to mid-1980s.

One is a national celebrity of little talent, and dubious mental capacity. That would be Glenn Beck, a tea bagger so far to the right that he was fired by FOX "News." One of them sells himself as more mainstream, even though he's equally bonkers (and at least as egotistical). That would be Wayne Allyn Root (WAR!!!).  One is an Iowa conservative radio host with national aspirations, a huge religious block on his shoulder, and a case of "gay face" I couldn't hope to equal. That would be Iowa's Steve Deace. And one is a hopelessly bananas right-wing conspiracy theorist who puts even the tornadoes in Oklahoma in Barack Obama's anti-American Kenyan, Socialist quiver. That would of course be the batshit crazy Alex Jones.

The point to this post is only to point out that none of these ridiculous men--or any of their opinions--is any more valid than mine--OR YOURS. I'm a random, southwestern American hobbyist blogger.  The difference between me and these guys? I'd never ask you to take my word for anything, unquestioned. Do your homework, and don't trust blindly. Don't fall, hook-line-and-sinker for a line that sounds like it lines up with your way of thinking. Dig deeper, ponder things that don't sound quite right, pay attention, and don't jump to conclusions. It's all I ask.

*Sorry, can't help it. When the gaydar goes off that loudly, I have to say something.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Blast from the Past: Brilliant, But Cancelled

Well, when I decide to take a blogging break, I can really get into it. Especially when something monumental, like the release of 15 long-awaited Arrested Development episodes come out on the same day. In one of the rarest moves in episodic TV history, seven years after the too-early cancellation of the beloved show, Netflix produced a season four, and made a lot of people very happy. Getting a cast as talented--and busy--cast together to do was a remarkable accomplishment on its own.

Anyway, because of this big event, I didn't write my Blast from the Past column this weekend. So, I'm rerunning one that featured the show, from last year. Maybe it will inspire you to check Arrested Development out, if you're still not sure what all the fuss is about!


I don't know if the term "brilliant, but cancelled" is copyrighted. . .I hope not. I mean, it's just a concept. But then, I've used Blast from the Past for six years, so I guess if I'm gonna get in trouble, I'm already screwed! Anyway, this being a Labor Day weekend, I'm a little behind in my blogging chores. But I didn't want the week to start without a new edition, since I've already skipped one recently.

So, I got to thinking that I needed to do something different this week, not music related, not current events. Then, today I re-watched a couple of episodes of Better Off Ted, the badly named but wonderful sitcom from a couple of years ago. It got me to thinking of my favorite shows that got cancelled far too soon. Keep in mind that these are my personal favorites, and that it is a partial list. Hey, it's labor day, why should I over do it? Heh. It does strike me that all of these shows managed more episodes than some classic British programs, even those considered to be very successful.

1. Better Off Ted (2009-2010, 26 episodes) - BOT had a marvelous cast, a manic, off-kilter style and originality off the charts. It took place in the corporate offices of "Veridian Dynamics," a behemoth of a company with sketchy morals. It involved mid-level executives, product testers and nerdy science researchers. The stars--including Jay Harrington as Ted, Andrea Anders as Linda, and especially Portia de Rossi as Veronica, Jonathan Slavin as Phil and Malcolm Barrett as Lem--formed a dream cast that could only be rivaled by the next show in this list. I can't say enough good things about this show, or how likely the chances that viewing it will lift your mood.

2. Arrested Development (2003-2006, 53 episodes)
- AD did get a two-and-a-half-year run, so it lasted longer than most "brilliant but cancelled" shows. But it was the kind of show that just felt far too good to be treated so badly by its network (FOX TV). Its fan base is rabid, so it has managed a sort of rebirth, with new episodes and a movie on the horizon. Which is astonishing when you consider the heft of the cast: Jason Bateman, Jessica Walter, Michael Cera, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Will Arnett, Tony Hale and. . .oh, looky there, Portia de Rossi. TWO brilliant shows, both cancelled too soon. It's a crime, I tells ya. Anyway, if you never caught the Arrested bug, by all means do so now. You'll increase your pop culture knowledge, and have a helluva time doing it!

3. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009, 31 Episodes)
- I wrote about this one a lot when it was on the air. I was a huge fan of the first two Terminator movies, but not so much on the follow-ups. This show took care of that by starting an alternate timeline right after T2. Lena Headey made a great Sarah, Summer Glau a terrific Terminator chick, Shirley Manson was the icy liquid Terminator, and Garret Dillahunt fantastic as Chromartie/John Henry, the captured, reprogrammed Terminator. The show is probably derided by Terminator "purists" (though there are  probably more splinter groups in this franchise's fandom than I could ever sort out), but think of it this way: the running time of this series amounts to about a dozen movies, in 31 chapters; far more than the movie series can offer. And though the series ends on a cliffhanger, it also resolves most of the story threads, and merely offers a new tangent to potentially be explored.

4. Dollhouse (2009-2010, 27 episodes) - I could easily put Firefly in this brilliant but cancelled group, but that one has been done to death. Dollhouse, also by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Marvel's The Avengers) actually got a little longer life than Firefly did, but still only eked out two half seasons. Still, since they had a good inkling that they'd get no more rope, they fashioned a complete narrative for the series, ending it with a (literal) bang. The show dealt with moral ambiguity, offering programmable "dolls"--actual people with their real minds stored on hard drives, and new identities installed--out to paying customers. The logical extension of this sort of technology getting into the wrong hands plays out pretty much how you think it would. If you read a lot of dystopian future fiction! Anyway, I adore Eliza Dushku, so will mourn this one for a while.

And that's it for this week kiddies. This theme will probably be sequelled eventually. They're always cancelling shows I like, in fact I think it's something of a curse. So, stay tuned for that. And this time when I say "Happy Monday," you can actually have one, because it's a holiday! So, Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weekend Update: So, What's Going On?

So, we're in the back half of a long weekend now, and I would seemingly have all kinds of time to blog. And yet, I've not put a darn thing on the blog since Friday! Why not? Several reasons. 1) There was no Real Time with Bill Maher this weekend, which took away one of my regular posts. 2) Saturday Night Live is now in reruns, so no clips from that. 3) My DVR screwed up and copied two simultaneous episodes of FOX "News" Sunday of all things, and no other Sunday politics shows. So after watching that--and only that--I'm actually dumber than I was going in.

F"N"S is still desperately trying to hang scandals around the President's neck, and other than a droning Bob Dole interview, that's really all there was to it. Of course, everyone's favorite Southern belle, Lindsey Graham was there. My goodness, and I declare, how could he ever have time to get hisself to church when he's always working on the sabbath? Mercy!

Anyway, that's why I haven't posted much today. I still intend to get a Blast from the Past up today, and if there is any interesting news, I'll get up some more posts. Otherwise, I just intend to enjoy my time off, and also do a little spit of work I have to do on my part-time job. Everyone, try to get your nose out of the screens you're looking at too much (like me) and enjoy the out of doors!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Gay Thing: Living With Success and Setbacks

Back when I started this blog (almost 6 years ago now), I did a series of Behind the Blogger posts to introduce myself to whatever scant readership was around in those early days. I titled those segments in a similar way, The Politics Thing, The Religion Thing, The Writing Thing, The Debt Thing and ultimately The Gay Thing. I started the blog as an outlet for my frustrations during the second George W. Bush administration, not as a gay rights blog, neither primarily or even secondarily.

As the blog has evolved, and as news has more often been about The Gay Thing, there have been days--hell, sometimes whole weeks--where it seemed like this was full-on gay rights news blog. For some reason, I feel compelled to apologize for that, and explain it away with humor. This isn't due to some sort of lingering shame or self-loathing, it's just not the mission I set out for the blog. But maybe it should be.

My turn was 1996. A lifetime ago!
Or rather, maybe I should just allow the subject to be more front-and-center. Oh, I doubt things will change too much around here. In fact the extent of the changes are thus: the banner above has been created, and will be used for most stories with this subject. And I'm not apologizing or explaining the reason for the posts anymore. They are just part of the blog. I started making banners for different subjects a few years ago, and continue to add them when I recognize that I'm continuing on a theme. It's time The Gay Thing was it's own thing here at Greenlee Gazette.

Being gay in America has always had its challenges. I became an adult in a very scary era for gay people, the birth of the AIDS crisis. It kept me fairly monk-like in my behavior through much of the 1980s, which I can credit for a very lonely early 20s, and with potentially saving my life. I also never experienced the mass death of a circle of friends, because I was not in or of the community. I was unplugged, and am in some ways removed from my own generation.

But I was always clued in to any scrap of news, so it's not like I didn't know what was going on. And by the time I came out to the world at large at age 30, America was an easier place to be gay than at any earlier time. Sure, we were still used as a wedge issue, a scare tactic. Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) had only been law--by Bill Clinton of all people--for a couple of years. But friends and family were immediately (or almost immediately) accepting and supportive. It was practically painless.

Married for almost 5 years now, legally, though not in NV.
One reason that it is frustrating to have the topic of gay
marriage treated as a hypothetical. We've been getting
married for almost a decade now.
There was a dark time not long after that, for gay people across the country. There were rumblings of activity in Hawaii, where it appeared that gay marriage might become legal. In a panic--or in a shrewd fundraising/electoral move--the right wing went into heavy demonizing mode. In states across the country, they started passing preemptive laws and constitutional amendments that barred gay marriage. Often times, the laws were redundant, where marriage was already defined as "one man, one woman." Didn't matter, it was time to make a stand. The biggest move--again, by Bill Clinton--was the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The most head-scratching was the constitutional amendment in Nevada, home of the quickie marriage and quickie divorce.

All through this, the right maintained that it wasn't an anti-gay movement, no, no. They were merely "protecting marriage."  This focus-tested phrase came straight from groups with likewise focus-tested names, usually including the word "Family." But their motives have always been transparent. It doesn't take much effort to find a "traditional marriage" crusader's core motives, if you simply engage them in conversation. It's largely a fundamental inability for them to separate holy matrimony from civil marriage. And an inability to truly get them to acknowledge a separation of church and state.

A lot rests in SCOTUS's hands. Not scary at all. . .
But the tide has turned! The wave of anti-gay marriage measures seemed to not only recede, but race in the opposite direction. In April, we were up to 9 states plus the District of Columbia with full marriage equality. In this month alone, we've gained 3 more, with the possible inclusion of Illinois by month's end, plus very likely regaining California in June.

June is when the Supreme Court announces their rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 (the referendum that rescinded same-sex marriage rights in California). Most SCOTUS followers believe we will get modest gains for marriage equality at the very least, with the possibility for a broader ruling. And this happens on my 5th wedding anniversary, which is very cool!

But any celebration is tempered by reality. In recent days, there have been reminders that gay people are not fully equal, or sometimes even safe in our own country. There's a teenaged girl whose girlfriend's parents conspired with police to arrest as soon as she turned 18, because the girl was dating their 15-year-old daughter, the motivation being that they didn't want their daughter to be gay. A Texas lesbian with a child by a previous marriage was ordered that she cannot reside with her partner and retain custody. There was a man shot in the head in New York City, killed just for being gay. There has been a rash of assaults in that city, all motivated by anti-gay animus.

A veritable anti-gay crime wave has hit NYC
Read about it here.
Gays are routinely viciously maligned on Twitter, Facebook, message boards, blogs, letters to the editor, and any other forum when a gay related issue is being discussed. "Good Christian" business owners are fighting for the right to refuse the sale of goods and services to gay people, because they "disagree with the lifestyle." Organizations like the "Family" ones mentioned above and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) exist solely or primarily to actively fight gay civil rights. The Boy Scouts--who, to their credit just decided to allow gay scouts to be members--won't allow gay leaders. Arguments on that subject (and many others) falsely equate homosexuality with pedophilia. And finally, gays were used as a weapon again by the GOP, who held the immigration reform bill hostage, so long as it allowed gay married bi-national couples to be covered under it.

In short (I know, too late), there are still many mountains to climb for full civil equality.  And while I haven't been silent by any stretch, I have been reserved, timid even, though less so lately. I'm going to stop shying away. This is my blog after all, and it isn't as if I have an enormous and dedicated following anyway. So, expect to see the subject covered without apology from now on. Thank you.

GOP Approval Rating in Dumper Amid "Scandal Week"

What a boner. Image from source,
It's made the news in the last few days that several polls show President Obama's approval rating to be doing just fine, even amid the heavy focus on three or four (if you count the idiotic umbrella-gate) potential scandals. But did you know polls are now showing that the GOP's approval raging is going down? I didn't know they could go lower, but there you go. And good for America, you're making me proud.


New poll: GOP favorability hits record low following 'Obama scandal' week

After a week of scandals, the dreaded "three-headed monster" of Benghazi, the IRS/Tea Party and the AP/DOJ phone records were supposed to sink the president, harm Hilliary Clinton and catapult the Republican party into the 2014 mid-term elections. While the media focus has highlighted the "three-headed monster," the American people don't seem to be pointing the finger of blame at the president. . .

Read more at:

Gay Boy Scouts Now Allowed to be Honest (and Stay in Scouts)

All right gays! Time to get cracking, and fix up that
uniform! Image from source, USAToday.
This story is good news for any Boy Scout who is a) gay and b) unable or unwilling to hide that fact. It is of less help to devoted scouts who happen to be gay, and were hoping to move from membership to leadership. Gay scout leaders are still verboten. Or rather, they can't be open, which means they have to lie, which pretty much wrecks the scout oath.

The funny part is, there have always been and will always be both gay scouts and leaders. I was a Cub Scout and a Webelo and though I may not quite have put a name to it, I was most certainly a gay kid. I first started trying to "cover" for that when I was maybe 4 or 5, though I identified it as "don't let them know you're a sissy." A lot of us seem to have that inborn. It might be why I was in scouts in the first place, to toughen up.  Anyway, there was never any hanky panky, none involving me anyway. But we did have a raging alcoholic den leader who had to let his wife take over, so there's that.


Boy Scouts vote to allow gay members

The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to allow gay youth to participate in scouting. The historic vote, with 61% in favor, signals another shift in American public opinion about homosexuality but still leaves the organization with many future hurdles.. .

Read more at: USAToday

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bridge Falls into River in Washington State

They're not supposed to do that. Image from source, MSN.
Okay, if I bring up the subject of infrastructure spending, would that be considered "too soon" and "playing politics?" Would I be told, "now is not the time" to bring up something so obvious? Harumph. Sounds like nobody died, and that is a very good thing. Of course, this is a developing story, so that could change. Hope not.


Interstate-5 bridge collapses into river north of Seattle

A bridge on Interstate 5 has collapsed into the Skagit River north of Seattle sending cars and people into the river, the Washington State Patrol reports. Both north and southbound lanes of the freeway collapsed, according to the Washington State Patrol. . .

Read more at:  MSN

Right Wing World: Obama Responsible for Everything Bad, Nothing Good

I realize that isn't a place you go if you want internal consistency. But I have to share this quote from a FReeper named mardi59 today, during the President's speech on drones and Guantanamo Bay:

"He is trying to fight the scandals by now acting like he knows what he’s doing. He is a miserable failure. All he knows how to do is spike the football and take credit for what others have done. He’s a joke."

If you parse that, you'll see that President Obama is responsible for the State Department's decision making in Benghazi, the Justice Department's actions with the AP and the IRS's internal policymaking on the Tea Party affair. He should've been on top of all of these issues, and has instead been absent and/or bad at his job.

However, in the second part of that quote, Obama's not apparently supposed to take credit for what "others" have done that has turned out well. So, which is it? Is the President responsible for all the agencies and divisions of the government he oversees, or is he not?

Source of quote:


K Mart's Funny Ad Campaign Continues: "Big Gas Savings"


Quote of the Day: The Rude Pundit on "Playing Politics"

This probably doesn't belong under Quote of the Day, because it wasn't today, but it's worth pointing out anyway. Have you noticed that after there is a mass shooting, if anyone dares talk about what might be done to prevent a future occurrence, they're met with, "Now is not the time! Don't play politics with gun control after this awful tragedy!" After Sandy Hook happened, and it felt like there might actually be some meaningful change, parents of slain children who were working toward that change were criticized for "playing politics" and exploiting the deaths of their own children. Wow. Harsh, right? It happens all the time, on a variety of subjects.

Oddly though, the right wing is allowed to play their version of politics. If a mass shooting happens, they are instantly on the defensive, shooting down (heh) any whisper of talk about gun control. Isn't that playing politics? Anyway, that's The Rude Pundit's point, and I should just stop yammering and give it to you:

His royal rudeness, Lee Papa
". . .In the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, it was wrong, according to you, to talk about gun control. Now, in the wake of the nightmarish destruction of the Moore tornado, you tell us it's wrong to talk about climate change and it's wrong to say things that mock right-wing responses to other tragedies. We should wait, you say, wait until the bodies are recovered, the bodies are buried, the bodies are mourned. Of course, even when politicians and pundits wait, you then say that they are exploiting a tragedy for political gain. Like 9/11. Oh, wait. That was you, so it doesn't count, of course, sorry, forgot. . ." --The Rude Pundit

Please Stand By: Blogger is Overwhelmed!

I'm on a collision course. I have my work-a-day job, which is really only a work-four-days-a-week job. I have my part-time job from home, which is really anywhere from zero hours in a given weekend, so several hours a day for days and days at a stretch! I also have this blog, I have its presence on Facebook and Twitter. I have my family obligations, and my time with The Other Half. And somewhere in the mix, I'm supposed to get energized about the news items of the day; the scandal, the outrage, the horrible and the exciting.

Sometimes, that gets difficult. Especially when the things the news tells you to be energized about leave you. . .disengaged? I mean, beyond the four deaths that happened which were awful, I don't give a damn about this nitpicky crap about Benghazi. Yes, fix whatever can be fixed. Ascertain if there are any failings that should be addressed. Stop using it as a political sledgehammer. It's obvious, and it's  not at all engaging. IRS? Still not getting it guys, I don't see the scandal, at least not where you're
sniffing. And the Justice Department thing seems to be on a low simmer, doesn't it?

Of course, the tornadoes this week in Oklahoma and Texas were awful, but the news treats it as tragedy porn. There are nuggets in there that bring us together, some uplifting things, like the old lady who found her dog. But I tell you the truth, I find myself consuming more and more information, but simultaneously missing the things I feel I should be paying attention to. Nothing crucial, I just feel scattered. Stretched too thin? Burned out? Maybe just an angsty period. Maybe I need to score some Xanax for a week or two. Do we have pot dispensaries in Nevada? Heh.

Anyway, it's nothing serious, and probably transitory. I just wanted to pop a note up on the page explaining the seeming lack of focus and small amount of posts lately. This week, it's mostly the part-time job. On the up side, it's summer, it's light out later, and there are a number of holidays and events on the horizon! It gets better!

Gays Punted from Immigration Reform

Now see, the guy on the left you can call anything you want. Mary. Miss
Scarlett. But the guys on the right? I'm disappointed, but I don't think
they're homophobes. Image from DailyKos.
I'm not sure where I come down on this one. What it boils down to is, leading Democrats fought for Senator Patrick Leahy's amendment that would allow legally married gay couples to petition for their spouses to get legal status, if they are foreign born. Republicans balked, and will kill the immigration reform bill if it doesn't include discrimination. Ain't that sweet? And the Democrats--as they are wont to do have pulled the amendment. This includes some pretty staunch liberals, including Charles Schumer and Al Franken (a personal fave).

Some gay activists--as they are wont to do--are going full-bore against those Democrats, and presumably the President. So, one of my favorite bloggers--John Aravosis of the Senators emblazoned with "HOMOPHOBE" in red letters. Yikes. Me, I'm not quite so reactionary. And I don't believe Leahy and especially Franken in particular are homophobes. I think they're pragmatists, and they really want this legislation to pass. The Republicans are holding it hostage, because they insist upon enshrining their bigotry into law. To me, it is the Republicans who are the villains in this, the question is whether the hostage negotiators did a bad job.

And I get it, I do. It sucks, but I do. The Supreme Court's decision in June could render the question moot, if we get federal recognition for legally married couples. If that happens, I've gotta think it would be at most some changes to verbiage. This situation is ultimately a reminder that gays are still not completely equal in this country. We're still treated as though we're criminals or some alien "other." I mean, can you imagine if this fight was over married interfaith couples? Married mixed race couples? But even I will concede that though we've made amazing progress in civil rights, we have a ways to go. And we have a whole generation that might need to shuffle off before we get there. Unfortunately, I'm right behind them!


Immigration Reform Amendment For Gay Couples Withdrawn

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had to make what the New York senator called an "excruciating" decision on Tuesday to come out against including LGBT couple provisions in their immigration reform bill, citing the need to keep the fragile balance in the "gang of eight."

Sounding disappointed, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) withdrew the amendment after debate during a markup on the bill. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Captain Obvious: Doesn't "Get" Atheism

In my previous post, I acknowledged my difficulty with all of the talk of "prayer" and God whenever we have a natural disaster like the tornadoes of the last couple of days. I even got some fairly large readership out of it on Tuesday, for some reason. And a bit of back-and-forth with readers here on the blog, on Twitter and on The Huffington Post. It struck me--since religious people often do not take atheists' word for their lack of belief--that I ought to look up the dictionary definition of "atheism."

I was disappointed, to put it mildly. My understanding of the word is "without religon," or perhaps "without god(s)." The second version is problematic because there are religions that don't have gods, per se. To me, what my atheism means is: I don't have a religion. That's it. I don't have a doctrine, don't have holy books, a place of worship, a congregation, the belief in a higher power, "spirituality," or even a vague notion that there is an entity or entities with magic powers who oversee the universe and/or my sex life. I have no portion of my life devoted to any sort of religion, beyond whatever arguing I do about it in forums like this.
Fig. A -'s first set of definitions.

But, back to the dictionary. is, of course, the easiest to remember site to go to online to look up the definition of a word, unless you just Google it. Maybe Google would have been the way to go though, because--as you can see in Fig. A--the definition offered up first by is not good.

First, check out the two ads. Kind of goofy, at least from my perspective. Then, there is the first definition, "1. The doctrine or belief that there is no God." What's wrong with that? Well, there is no doctrine, for one. You can be an atheist without ever having heard of God, gods or even atheism itself, for that matter. And secondly, as I said before, it's a lack of belief in religion as well as any particular god, which covers more than "God." Second definition: "2. Disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings." This one is closer, though it doesn't adequately cover all religions. I'd also substitute "lack of belief," rather than "disbelief," because the latter sounds a bit too active for me, as though it takes effort.

So, I scrolled down to see if somewhere in there was something that I recognized as atheism. Fig. B shows what I found next. The Word Origin and History's "1580s, from Fr. Atheisme (16c.), from Gk. atheos 'without god,'" may reflect how the word came to be, but it still is narrowly focused on apparently the Christian God (though it is not capitalized). Moving down to the World English Dictionary, it gets worse, "Rejection of belief in God or gods." This one is really bad, because "rejection" denotes a strong action, as though one is belligerently casting aside a known truth or something. See, this is something many staunchly religious people believe about atheists, that they are really believers who have rejected God/Jesus. Not true. We simply don't believe. And then, the Cultural Dictionary's "Denial that there is a God." is a mixture of all of the above, focusing on a solitary God, with a strong action of denial.

Fig. B - More not quite right stuff.
So, let me make simple what the dictionary can't seem to do. Atheists merely lack belief in religion in all its forms. That includes God, gods, angels, saints, all doctrines and edicts, spirituality, and anything supernatural. There are "strong" atheists who won't much mind the "rejection/denial" type language, and they'll vehemently state plainly: "THERE IS NO GOD!" There are agnostics and agnostic atheists who simply don't know and/or care if there are gods or true religions. And there are people like me who find all that I've heard on the subject to be preposterous and vanishingly unlikely. Nearly all of us simply lack religion in our lives. It's not there at all. And yet, people will still insist that we have a "religion." It can be frustrating. . .

I'll put a button on this by saying that we're all born atheists. Nobody has religion downloaded into their brains on day one, it has to be learned. And almost everybody is an atheist as it pertains to ALL other religions but their own.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CNN's Wolf Blitzer Embarrassed On Camera by Atheist

Image from source, Raw Story
As an atheist, I can get tripped up on language, so I shouldn't be too hard on Wolf Blitzer. I had to train myself to say gesundheit when somebody sneezes, rather than "god bless you." But not all nearly automatic religious phrases are so easy to extract from the vocabulary. There are so many, most people probably don't even realize they come from the Bible. "Oh, god," and "Jesus Christ" are just the most obvious ones. But then, I'm not a high-paid journalist on CNN, I'm a hobbyist blogger.

What Blitzer does in this clip is make the assumption that if you are from Oklahoma, you must be a Christian. And while it is kind of the default there, and in much of America, it's not something you should assume. It's like assuming that the person you are talking to is heterosexual, it's not always the case, and could be embarrassing, depending upon the question. Anyway, part of Blitzer's mindset may have been that so many people when commenting upon a tragedy automatically resort to "prayer."

Whether it's a sincere belief that it will somehow do some good, or it's just a reflexive thing to say, "I'm sending my prayers" and similar phrases just filled Facebook and Twitter, not to mention the news channels*. Most people probably mean well, and surely some are in the same situation as I am, with a religion-saturated mental English phrase book. It has something to do with why I haven't blogged about the Oklahoma tornadoes until now. What can I add to this discussion?

Sure, I'm sorry, and it's heartbreaking to see and hear the details of what's going on. I can say "my heart goes out to the survivors," of course, which is exactly as helpful as prayer, which is to say, not much. So, I donated to the Red Cross. And I'm asking you to do it too. It's not even difficult.

Just get out your cell phone, start a new text to 90999 (where you'd ordinarily put a phone number), with the message:  REDCROSS   That will automatically donate $10 to the American Red Cross, and will be added to your phone bill. It literally couldn't be easier.


CNN’s Wolf Blitzer tells atheist tornado survivor: ‘You gotta thank the Lord’

With the number of atheists continuing to rise, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday afternoon learned the danger of assuming on live television that his interviewee is a Christian.

“I guess, you gotta thank the Lord, right?” he told the survivor of a deadly tornado that ripped through Oklahoma. “Do you thank the Lord?. . .”

Read more at: Raw Story

*As an aside, I've got to say that I find the notion of prayer in these situations to be hard to fathom. To me, prayer is basically wishing, hoping, begging to get what you want, with the intensity going up according to the direness of the wish. When something good comes to pass (survival, good health, good fortune), "God answered our prayers." When something bad happens, you have to get down on your knees and pray some more. And have people pray for you, even if who you're praying for is already dead, or missing. For the missing, prayer is really perplexing. It's almost like a Schrödinger's cat exercise. Since we don't know whether the missing person is alive or dead, offering up a prayer essentially makes them that cat in the box, and our prayer can decide its fate. When in reality, that person is either really alive or dead. The prayer isn't going to change that. And you're offering these prayers to a deity that is responsible for the natural disaster in the first place! Further, what are the implications of being saved by a prayer, when there is death and devastation all around you? They didn't pray (or have loved ones who prayed for them) hard enough? They weren't worthy? 

So, now maybe you understand why I have such difficulty expressing myself and dealing with others' expressions after tragedies like this. When you are a person who puts "God" (as a concept and a being) on more or less equal footing with Superman and Yosemite Sam, it is difficult  to hear this imaginary being invoked repeatedly as though it does any good. Besides making the person who expresses the sentiment feel better, of course.

Scandal: Does it Matter That Bush Targeted Enemies with Gov't Agencies?

In politics, there are double-standards. For instance, if something pertaining to treatment of the president is perceived as racist, simply calling it that can be labelled "playing the race card," which is treated as an equal and opposite infraction. Similarly, if Party A is upset with something Party B has done--even though Party A has done precisely the same thing in the past that they're accusing B of--just pointing that out is seen as somehow out of bounds.

But this is my blog, and I really don't care about those dumb rules. The plain fact of the matter is, the various "scandal-ettes" as I'm calling them, the IRS/Tea Party one--the Justice Department/AP one and the Benghazi one--all have analogs to things in the Bush administration. And let's make this clear: all three of these controversies (umbrella-gate doesn't count) are merely alleged. There has been, as far as I know, no proven misbehavior by the President himself, or the executive branch on any of them.

Someone in this photo likely causes a visceral reaction in you, right?
Image from Alternet.
The same cannot be said of Bush and Co. Their politicization of every department of the government was legendary. They couldn't govern or conduct foreign policy for beans, but they played politics hardball well. Not good mind you, well. So, I think it's worth pointing out that even if each of these brouhahas, even if the go all the way to the top, has a precedent in the previous administration. And it's also worth pointing out that "impeachment was off the table." I always knew that Nancy Pelosi's diplomacy in that area was a bad idea that would never be repaid.


Bush Used the IRS, FBI, CIA and Secret Service to Go After Opponents -- Where Was the Fox and GOP Outrage?

As your kindergarten teacher probably told you, two wrongs do not make a right. But the discrepancy in reactions to wrongs does, indeed, show how Washington so often serves the interests of the political right. . .

Read more at: AlterNet

Monday, May 20, 2013

Meanwhile, on Facebook: Enough with the Umbrella-gate

The moment I smelled the first whiff of "Umbrella-gate," I knew it was ridiculous. The more I saw about it, the more evident it was that this was nothing more than naked racism and/or full-blown Obama Derangement Syndrome. It's nothing short of ridiculous. Let this photo, currently floating around on Facebook, be the last word on it, all right? Okay then.

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