Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sympathy for the devil?

Once again we are faced with a conservative, anti-gay Republican, being revealed to be gay.

This has become so common that it's barely news anymore.

This time, the switch is that after he got caught he decided to speak out in favor of gay rights.

Roy Ashburn, the California legislator who came out in March after years of operating as a "family values" Republican, is now speaking out in favor of gay rights.

It's easy to be hostile and dismissive of these guys. In fact, that is my usual attitude. I am entirely supportive of efforts to out gay politicians who take public positions against gay rights.

On the other hand, you can't help but recognize that they, too, are victims. Just imagine the suffering they must go through, having been raised in a society and religion that has drummed into them that they themselves, at the very core of their being, are irredeemably evil and corrupt.

I', glad that Ashburn has decided to come out as a gay rights advocate. I hope that more of his kind will do the same.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rand Paul Supports Legalized Discrimination

Not a long one here, but it's worth viewing the disembowelment of Rand Paul by Rachel Maddow.

The short version is that when confronted with the obvious import of his positions, which is that he thinks the government has no right to prohibit racial or other discrimination by businesses, he becomes painfully inarticulate, blathering on about "institutionalized racism" and acting as though this is merely an abstract or academic debate.

He claims that he is so pure he doesn't agree with racism, and he would never personally discriminate. Apparently it's just a coincidence that when that position was asserted in the United States in the 1960's, 100% of those who were asserting it were white racists asserting the right to discriminate against black people.

That position has been almost universally rejected because it is impossible to have a free society of equal opportunity for all--not equality of outcome, which conservatives are incessantly whining about--if racial and other types of discrimination are allowed, even by private entities.

Jim Crow, and other racially discriminatory practices, were a way for the South to continue the oppression of black people even after the abolition of slavery. In all parts of the country, racial discrimination prevented black people from having access to all kinds of public and private resources, including employment, housing, and the other avenues of commerce. In the South and in the North, these practices were established and fostered by the power structure to maintain the oppression of black people.

Anyone who pretends that it is merely an abstract question, and not one that has the real effect of perpetuating racial discrimination, is being intentionally dense.

In 2010 nobody is that stupid, not even Rand Paul.

One other thing: if this election is, as Rand Paul claims, a message from the Tea Party, then it's no wonder the teahadists are widely considered a pack of mouthbreathing racists.

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What the Catholic Church teaches

You've probably heard the phrase "primacy of conscience" used to describe the central premise of Catholic morality.

In hearing the phrase one would naturally think that the Catholic Church teaches people of faith that they should examine their faith and their conscience, and that by doing so they will be able to perceive the basis for correct action. In other words, this would appear to be a very modern, tolerant, view.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Newman and the Drama of True and False Conscience
By Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal John Newman's view of conscience is far from that usually held by those who speak of "primacy of conscience" today. Newman believes a good Catholic conscience can never accept a position of dissent against central Church teaching. Moral truth is the key to conscience, and this is very difficult to deny coherently.

In other words, when the Catholic Church talks about the primacy of conscience, it means what any other dictatorial regime means: do and think as you are told.

The news today provides an example of the fundamental morality of the Catholic Church's teaching.

Last November, a 27-year-old woman was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. She was 11 weeks pregnant with her fifth child, and she was gravely ill. According to a hospital document, she had "right heart failure," and her doctors told her that if she continued with the pregnancy, her risk of mortality was "close to 100 percent."

To any decent, rational person, the choice is clear: do what is necessary to preserve the life of this young woman so she can go on living and caring for her four children. This is exactly what Sister Margaret McBride, a hospital administrator, said to do.

Great news: the woman received an abortion, and she survived.

If you're a bishop, though, this doesn't sound like good news. When Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted heard about the abortion, he declared that McBride was automatically excommunicated — the most serious penalty the church can levy.

That's right: excommunicated for the crime of saving the life of a young mother.

In case you're wondering about how Catholic morality works, and whether it is, as it appears, merely a twisted parody of actual moral reasoning, just take a guess at how many priests who raped children, or bishops who protected the child rapists, have been excommunicated.

If your guess is zero, you would be correct.

You can listen to the NPR story, and you'll hear a Catholic apologist bleat on about how he doesn't see how one thing has anything to do with the other, and maybe, just maybe, you'll be persuaded.

Or, you might be someone who desperately clings to some shred of an idea that there is any hint of morality left in the Catholic Church, and you might conclude that you were wrong, and it's just as corrupt as the rest of us have been saying.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Weapons Grade Stupidity

Unitied Nations Convoy sighted in Pennsylvania
Posted by John W. McSherry on May 16, 2010 at 8:52pm
View John W. McSherry's blog
Dateline: 5/16/2010@2030 hrs.
Message traffic Oath Keepers
At approximately 0715 a convoy of 25-30 camouflaged military, Humvees and armored vehicles with
UN markings was observed traveling westbound between State College, PA, and Milroy, PA on US. Route 322.

At approximately 0900 the same member encountered another convoy of UNMARKED military vehicles, refueling at Toms's Travel Center on U.S. Route 322 at Milroy, PA. The member tried to engage the troops, but was ignored. They were in uniforms without insignia, but the covers did have ranks, from colonel to private. Convoy was a similar size, with Humvees and personnel carriers.

IT is hard to say what the destination is so I am posting onstate sights west and south of Milroy, PA. I am speculating possible routes are 322 W, 99S, 70W, 81 S. 322 is not a major interstate, so it is possible secondary routes are being use. If you see the convoy, please photograph and/ or video tape.
This is not a drill, request verification
John W. McSherry
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Buchanan? Really?

You heard about this?

Pat Buchanan has a theory about what's wrong with the Supreme Court: Too many Jews.

If you think this is hyperbole, just look at his actual words:

If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats.

Is this the Democrats' idea of diversity?

And this is the guy that all those Jewish retirees supposedly voted for in 2000?

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

More crazy from the fringe, chapter two

Okay, you know the idea now.

Today is kind of an all-purpose loony tunes. When you get a natural disaster, or even a run of bad weather, it tends to bring the nuts out, like the woman who commented to me one summer when I was working as a letter carrier that the reason for the hot weather was because we had sent manned spacecraft to the moon. "We should never have started messing with that," was her concise explanation.

What's bigger these days than the oil spill? Not really a natural disaster, but close enough.

It's also big enough to spawn multiple unhinged theories:

Questions about the oil spill
1. Could it have been sabotage by radical enviornmentalist's seeking to poison the debate about off shore drilling? Nobody has indicated such a thing, but would they?


Oil rig in the Gulf sunk by a North Korean torpedo

Any comment needed? I think not.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Torture by Philadelphia Police

More evidence that law enforcement can't be trusted with Tasers. In this incident, the victim was a 17-year-old idiot who decided to run out on the field during a Philadelphia Phillies game. These guys are annoying, but the present absolutely no threat to anybody; the crime, if there is one, is undoubtedly a misdemeanor and probably never results in jail time.

So what's the justification for the use of deadly force? According to the chief of police, "He was attempting to make an arrest and the male was attempting to flee."

In case the chief didn't notice something, I'll point it out to him: He was attempting to flee in an enclosed space. He had nowhere to go, he was surrounded, and he was within a few feet of the cop and several security people at the time they hit him with the Taser.

There was also an interesting comment from Tony LaRussa, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals:

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa agreed the use of a Taser was appropriate.

"If somebody comes up there and does some damage, they're going to be second-guessing not doing anything," La Russa said. "I just think it's acceptable, because it's a good deterrent."

This shows an appalling lack of understanding from someone who is well known to be not only a baseball manager but also a lawyer, or at least a law school graduate. Maybe what they teach at Florida State is different, but where I went to law school the theory of deterrence applied to punishment administered by a court after the defendant is charged and convicted. The police don't get to decide that they're going to torture criminal suspects and chalk it up to deterrence.

Once again, the answer is clear: Take the toys away from the boys.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

More crazy from the fringe

I have to admit, I've fallen behind on pointing out stupid things that wingers are saying, so I'm going to try to get caught up in the next little while.

Here's one you may have heard of already. Now that health care reform has passed, you probably want to be prepared for all its scary consequences.


Approved by the FDA, a class II implantable device is a "implantable radiofrequency
transponder system for patient identification and health information." The purpose of a class II device is to collect data in medical patients such as "claims data, patient survey data, standardized analytic files that allow for the pooling and analysis of data from disparate data environments, electronic health records, and any other data deemed appropriate by the Secretary."

Some of these people are so stupid you have to wonder how they dress themselves in the morning.

In case you're wondering, the provision of the law we're talking about does talk about registration of implantable devices. Artificial hips. Stents. Pacemakers. If you think about it, it is probably useful to know who gets them, so if it's discovered a few years later that the pacemaker you got was defective, they can come and tell you about it and maybe give you one that works.

And these are the people with supposedly above-average educations?

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We must remember

Up until forty years ago today, there was only one thing I knew about Kent State University: it was where Sam Bair ran. He was a miler who was known for running very well during the indoor season but fading in the outdoor season (he was short, so he had an advantage in the tight turns on the indoor tracks).

Then the National Guard murdered four students for the crime of disagreeing with their government.

This is a day to remember.

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