xenologer: (Default)
"The one bonus of not lifting the ban on gays in the military is that the next time the government mandates a draft we can all declare homosexuality instead of running off to Canada." ~Lorne Bloch
xenologer: (Default)
"The one bonus of not lifting the ban on gays in the military is that the next time the government mandates a draft we can all declare homosexuality instead of running off to Canada." ~Lorne Bloch
xenologer: (Default)
"The one bonus of not lifting the ban on gays in the military is that the next time the government mandates a draft we can all declare homosexuality instead of running off to Canada." ~Lorne Bloch

Man...

Feb. 12th, 2010 02:51 am
xenologer: (it are fact)
Why in the world should it take me more than an hour to try and explain to a Marine that using the word "Hajji" to refer to all terrorists/Arabs/Muslims/whatever is racist, and that this makes it bad?

Gaaah, such a waste of my time and energy. But whatever. Maybe some white person that he'll actually listen to will give him the lecture again later, and then maybe he'll get another one, and eventually we'll wear his ignorant ass down into something resembling decency. If the best I can do for the universe is to waste a little time explaining to someone that it's not okay to talk about people that way... then hell, I guess I can do that much.

Seriously obnoxious, though. This shit is not fucking sorcery, people. I get that in the military the norm is to be racist to the enemies you kill and rape the allies you serve with, but the rest of the world cannot fucking operate that way. At least, not in my goddamn IM windows. If that's the only space I can police, then so be it.

Man...

Feb. 12th, 2010 02:51 am
xenologer: (it are fact)
Why in the world should it take me more than an hour to try and explain to a Marine that using the word "Hajji" to refer to all terrorists/Arabs/Muslims/whatever is racist, and that this makes it bad?

Gaaah, such a waste of my time and energy. But whatever. Maybe some white person that he'll actually listen to will give him the lecture again later, and then maybe he'll get another one, and eventually we'll wear his ignorant ass down into something resembling decency. If the best I can do for the universe is to waste a little time explaining to someone that it's not okay to talk about people that way... then hell, I guess I can do that much.

Seriously obnoxious, though. This shit is not fucking sorcery, people. I get that in the military the norm is to be racist to the enemies you kill and rape the allies you serve with, but the rest of the world cannot fucking operate that way. At least, not in my goddamn IM windows. If that's the only space I can police, then so be it.

Man...

Feb. 12th, 2010 02:51 am
xenologer: (it are fact)
Why in the world should it take me more than an hour to try and explain to a Marine that using the word "Hajji" to refer to all terrorists/Arabs/Muslims/whatever is racist, and that this makes it bad?

Gaaah, such a waste of my time and energy. But whatever. Maybe some white person that he'll actually listen to will give him the lecture again later, and then maybe he'll get another one, and eventually we'll wear his ignorant ass down into something resembling decency. If the best I can do for the universe is to waste a little time explaining to someone that it's not okay to talk about people that way... then hell, I guess I can do that much.

Seriously obnoxious, though. This shit is not fucking sorcery, people. I get that in the military the norm is to be racist to the enemies you kill and rape the allies you serve with, but the rest of the world cannot fucking operate that way. At least, not in my goddamn IM windows. If that's the only space I can police, then so be it.
xenologer: (smash patriarchy)
[livejournal.com profile] ardent_firesong posted a link to this poll that Fox News is doing to figure out whether Americans want DADT repealed.

Internet polls are ridiculous and skewed and everybody knows that, but I expect Fox News viewers to look at the results of this poll and take them seriously (even though news site polls are generally only reflective of people who watch that station, can pay to watch that cable station, and have money for internet).

So I get that these polls are silly. I still don't feel like giving people like my parents more fuel to argue that we should have a segregated military or any of the other awful suggestions that anti-gay people throw around.

To the reasonable people on my list: Just go click "yes." That shit needs to be repealed, and this poll will be shown directly to the folk who are the reason it hasn't been repealed yet.
xenologer: (smash patriarchy)
[livejournal.com profile] ardent_firesong posted a link to this poll that Fox News is doing to figure out whether Americans want DADT repealed.

Internet polls are ridiculous and skewed and everybody knows that, but I expect Fox News viewers to look at the results of this poll and take them seriously (even though news site polls are generally only reflective of people who watch that station, can pay to watch that cable station, and have money for internet).

So I get that these polls are silly. I still don't feel like giving people like my parents more fuel to argue that we should have a segregated military or any of the other awful suggestions that anti-gay people throw around.

To the reasonable people on my list: Just go click "yes." That shit needs to be repealed, and this poll will be shown directly to the folk who are the reason it hasn't been repealed yet.
xenologer: (smash patriarchy)
[livejournal.com profile] ardent_firesong posted a link to this poll that Fox News is doing to figure out whether Americans want DADT repealed.

Internet polls are ridiculous and skewed and everybody knows that, but I expect Fox News viewers to look at the results of this poll and take them seriously (even though news site polls are generally only reflective of people who watch that station, can pay to watch that cable station, and have money for internet).

So I get that these polls are silly. I still don't feel like giving people like my parents more fuel to argue that we should have a segregated military or any of the other awful suggestions that anti-gay people throw around.

To the reasonable people on my list: Just go click "yes." That shit needs to be repealed, and this poll will be shown directly to the folk who are the reason it hasn't been repealed yet.
xenologer: (Default)
Real person. Real situation that came to a very ugly head tonight. Summary from her and how to help below:

I am a disabled military wife and mother of two elementary-aged kids. Due to a delay in processing transfer orders, my husband's move to his next base isn't lining up with the end of our lease. This means we are having to pay for our move out-of-pocket, with the military reimbursing it later. My husband is currently with his ship in another state, so all details of handling the move fall to me.

We had planned to borrow the money for this from my mother. She has always been slightly mentally disturbed; tonight, this hit new levels. In the past two days, she's attempted to kidnap my kids and threatened to kill my mobility dog. She deliberately chose the time when I would be sickest from my low-dose chemo treatments to do this. I severely doubt she plans to honor her promise to pay for the movers tomorrow.

The movers are going to cost roughly $1300. If you can help, please send money to my paypal account, marna.m(a)gmail.com. Please indicate if this is a gift or a loan; we will begin paying back loan amounts as soon as we can. Thank you.

More: http://deza.livejournal.com/1331013.html
xenologer: (Default)
Real person. Real situation that came to a very ugly head tonight. Summary from her and how to help below:

I am a disabled military wife and mother of two elementary-aged kids. Due to a delay in processing transfer orders, my husband's move to his next base isn't lining up with the end of our lease. This means we are having to pay for our move out-of-pocket, with the military reimbursing it later. My husband is currently with his ship in another state, so all details of handling the move fall to me.

We had planned to borrow the money for this from my mother. She has always been slightly mentally disturbed; tonight, this hit new levels. In the past two days, she's attempted to kidnap my kids and threatened to kill my mobility dog. She deliberately chose the time when I would be sickest from my low-dose chemo treatments to do this. I severely doubt she plans to honor her promise to pay for the movers tomorrow.

The movers are going to cost roughly $1300. If you can help, please send money to my paypal account, marna.m(a)gmail.com. Please indicate if this is a gift or a loan; we will begin paying back loan amounts as soon as we can. Thank you.

More: http://deza.livejournal.com/1331013.html
xenologer: (Default)
Real person. Real situation that came to a very ugly head tonight. Summary from her and how to help below:

I am a disabled military wife and mother of two elementary-aged kids. Due to a delay in processing transfer orders, my husband's move to his next base isn't lining up with the end of our lease. This means we are having to pay for our move out-of-pocket, with the military reimbursing it later. My husband is currently with his ship in another state, so all details of handling the move fall to me.

We had planned to borrow the money for this from my mother. She has always been slightly mentally disturbed; tonight, this hit new levels. In the past two days, she's attempted to kidnap my kids and threatened to kill my mobility dog. She deliberately chose the time when I would be sickest from my low-dose chemo treatments to do this. I severely doubt she plans to honor her promise to pay for the movers tomorrow.

The movers are going to cost roughly $1300. If you can help, please send money to my paypal account, marna.m(a)gmail.com. Please indicate if this is a gift or a loan; we will begin paying back loan amounts as soon as we can. Thank you.

More: http://deza.livejournal.com/1331013.html
xenologer: (Green Iran)
A WWII vet speaks out about fighting so that all four of his sons (not just the three straight ones) can have freedom and equality.



(HT uhrwerkmensch)
xenologer: (Green Iran)
A WWII vet speaks out about fighting so that all four of his sons (not just the three straight ones) can have freedom and equality.



(HT uhrwerkmensch)
xenologer: (Green Iran)
A WWII vet speaks out about fighting so that all four of his sons (not just the three straight ones) can have freedom and equality.



(HT uhrwerkmensch)
xenologer: (it are fact)
Another run-down of random stuff.

Equal Rights for LGBT Citizens

Hoosiers discuss Prop. 8 and their experiences with gay marriage
Tiffany Dow, board member, Indiana Black Pride: “(Indiana is) not at the forefront, by any means. I believe there will be (legal same-sex marriage) at some point, but I think the only way it’s going to happen in the state is if it’s a federal thing.

“It’s kind of scary to me that with Prop. 8 passing, a right that was already given to people was taken away, at the hands of the voters. Any time you have minorities’ rights dictated by the majority, that’s certainly a civil rights issue.”(...)

There’s no amendment in the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage. A proposal to amend the constitution has been pushed in years past, as opponents of gay marriage fear Indiana’s judges could strike down the law. Such a ban failed to pass out of the General Assembly in 2007 and again this year, which means the lengthy process to amend the state constitution would have to start from scratch in 2009. That’s unlikely to happen.

Democratic House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer has not shown a willingness to allow a floor vote. A constitutional amendment requires passage by two separately elected legislatures, followed by the approval of voters in a general election.

Today in Traditional Marriage
A husband and wife have been charged with torture and other counts after a bruised, terrified 17-year-old showed up at a gym with a chain locked to his ankle, claiming he had just fled his captors, authorities said Tuesday.

Kelly Lau Schumacher, 30, and Michael Schumacher, 34, were arrested late Monday, said Matt Robinson, a spokesman for police in Tracy. (...)

Kelly and Michael Schumacher are legally married—and they can stay legally married, even if they're found to be guilty of this horrendous crime. They can stay legally married even if the decomposing remains of twenty other teenagers are found buried in their backyard. Their marriage license cannot be revoked. If Michael dies in prison, Kelly can remarry—even if she's serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. If Kelly decides to divorce Michael, he can remarry—even if he's sitting on death row. He can remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce until he runs out of prison pen pals. Because the courts have declared that marriage is so fundamental a right that it cannot be denied to convicted rapists or to serial killers.

But it's a right that's denied to me and my boyfriend. Because we're both men and that ain't right.

Why churches fear gay marriage
American families are under a great deal of stress. The divorce rate isn't declining, it's increasing. And the majority of American women are now living alone. We are raising children in America without fathers. I think of Michael Phelps at the Olympics with his mother in the stands. His father was completely absent. He was negligible; no one refers to him, no one noticed his absence.

The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.

Monotheistic religions feel threatened by the rise of feminism and the insistence, in many communities, that women take a bigger role in the church. At the same time that women are claiming more responsibility for their religious life, they are also moving out of traditional roles as wife and mother. This is why abortion is so threatening to many religious people -- it represents some rejection of the traditional role of mother.

In such a world, we need to identify the relationship between feminism and homosexuality. These movements began, in some sense, to achieve visibility alongside one another. I know a lot of black churches take offense when gay activists say that the gay movement is somehow analogous to the black civil rights movement. And while there is some relationship between the persecution of gays and the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, I think the true analogy is to the women's movement. What we represent as gays in America is an alternative to the traditional male-structured society.

Judge Removes Child From Lesbian Parents
Fayette Circuit Judge Paul Blake originally agreed to allow Kathyrn Kutil and Cheryl Hess to be foster parents for the infant girl, following a positive assessment by the Department of Health and Human Resources.

Court records show that the little girl was born to a drug addicted mother and the baby had had cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines in her system. Shortly after birth the baby went through drug withdrawal. The father was unknown.

The Department placed the child with Kutil and Hess, who had been approved as foster parents, when it could not find any blood relatives of the mother.

But nearly a year later when the couple applied to adopt the little girl both the Department and Judge Blake balked. In his ruling Blake ordered the child removed saying the baby should be permanently placed in a home where the parents would be a married opposite-sex couple.

The ruling said that he had agreed to allow the women to foster the child because it was the best option at the time. But he never intended it to be permanent.

New York City LGBT Healthcare Found Lacking
A study by New York’s Public Advocate into the ways the LGBT community receives healthcare has found major barriers and recommends urgent action.

The report, Improving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Access to Healthcare at New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation Facilities, was released by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.

It specifically details the barriers LGBT New Yorkers confront in obtaining health care from New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC).

The report found that both were in sensitive to LGBT medical needs, that there often was homophobia and hostility from providers, and as a result many LGBT people in the city are not accessing basic healthcare services.

Religion

Pope Questions Interfaith Dialogue
In quotations from the letter that appeared on Sunday in Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, the pope said the book “explained with great clarity” that “an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible.” In theological terms, added the pope, “a true dialogue is not possible without putting one’s faith in parentheses.”

But Benedict added that “intercultural dialogue which deepens the cultural consequences of basic religious ideas” was important. He called for confronting “in a public forum the cultural consequences of basic religious decisions.”

Challenging the Order?
Salon.com interviews gay Catholic author Richard Rodriguez about gay marriage, the "Desert religions", and the power of women in religious life. What is striking about the piece, from my perspective, is how close he gets to endorsing a shift away from monotheism (or at least male-oriented monotheism) while discussing religion.

"The desert religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- are male religions. Their perception is that God is a male god and Allah is a male god. If the male is allowed to hold onto the power of God, then I think we are in terrible shape. I think what's coming out of Colorado Springs right now, with people like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, is either the last or continuing gasp of a male hierarchy in religion. That's what's at stake. And women have a determining role to play. Are they going to go along with this, or are they going to challenge the order?"

While Rodriquez talks about how the traditional monotheisms feel "threatened by the rise of feminism", he seems unable to look outside the "desert religions" and see that millions of women are indeed challenging the order by leaving it entirely for a variety of faiths that are more egalitarian in outlook.

Why the Debate Over Creationism Matters
Recently I have been involved in a couple conversations with folks who aren’t really “informed” (I use the term loosely) creationists but have been hounded enough by creationists/biblical literalists who have drawn the battle line twixt themselves and evolutionists/biblical contextualists that they sit down firmly just on the creationists’ side of the fence — just in case evolutionists really are godless heretics. They’re not interested in getting into discussions about the origins question; while not wholly dismissive of those who accept the scientific consensus (biblical contextualists), they’re entirely content to live and let live. They can’t be bothered to investigate the issue on either the scientific or the biblical side, but, when pressed to mark where they stand, figure that they can’t go wrong if they just stick with the (perceived) default: interpreting Genesis as historical.

There are things I believe are true and right that I don’t become an activist for because of their essentially trivial nature; but there are a few reasons that I think this particular issue is no trivial, purely academic dispute.

Projecting Hostility
Conservative Evangelicals often project a hostility onto others that simply isn't there, and may in fact reflect an assumption that others are as hostile to them as they are, deep down, to others. My initial point was the irony of a more exclusive group calling a more inclusive group "less friendly". I can appreciate a good bit of irony, but things seem to have gotten seriously out of hand at this stage.

Thinking back to my more conservative days, I wonder whether a key reason for maintaining that one is facing hostility even when one isn't has to do with the Bible. The New Testament reflects contexts in which real persecution (arrest, imprisonment, even execution) were part of the church's experience. Might one reason conservative Christians treat the world as hostile in this way, even when they live in a country that safeguards their religious freedom, be that if the world they inhabit doesn't allow for direct application of the New Testament, then they simply don't know how to make sense of their lives? Could it be the desire for a simple hermeneutic (or conversely, fear of a more complex process of interpretation) that is at the heart of this phenomenon?


Education

Technology is driving down the cost of teaching undergraduates. So why are tuition bills going up?
On August 6, 2008, the Washington Post reported that tuition and fees at public colleges in Virginia will increase by an average of 7.3 percent this year. The article was four sentences long and ran in the Metro section, below the fold, in space reserved for unremarkable news. The drumbeat of higher education price increases has become so steady in recent years that it barely merits attention. But the cumulative effect is enormous: the average price of attending a public university more than doubled over the last two decades, even after adjusting for inflation. The steepest increases came in the last five years.

And there’s nothing routine about the way college costs are weighing down lower- and middle-income families. Students are still going to college—in this day and age, what choice do they have? But some are getting priced out of the four-year sector into two-year colleges, while others are trying unsuccessfully to simultaneously hold down a full-time job and earn a degree. More students are going deeply into debt, narrowing their career options and risking catastrophic default. The lightly regulated private student loan market, which barely existed ten years ago, now controls about 20 percent of loan volume, burdening financially vulnerable undergraduates with high interest rates and few legal protections. State and federal governments have poured tens of billions of new taxpayer dollars into student aid programs, only to see them swallowed up by institutions with a seemingly unlimited appetite for funds.

For years colleges have insisted that rapidly rising prices are unavoidable because higher education is a labor-intensive business that cannot become more efficient. A forty-minute lecture takes just as long to deliver today as it did a hundred years ago, they say; a ten-page paper takes just as long to grade. Because efficiencies in other industries are driving up the overall cost of skilled labor, colleges have to offer salaries to match, which pushes productivity down. (Economists call this "Baumol’s cost disease," after the New York University economist who first made the diagnosis.) Regrettable for students, of course, but what can be done?

In fact, this premise is false. Colleges are perfectly capable of becoming more efficient and productive, in the same way that countless other industries have: through technology. And increasingly, they are. One of the untold stories in higher education is that the cost of teaching is starting to decline, but virtually none of those savings are being passed along to students and parents in the form of lower prices. Instead, colleges are pocketing the difference, even as they continue to jack up tuition bills. (...)

Since it’s effectively impossible to judge institutions by their outputs—that is, by how much students learn—the pecking order in higher education tends to be based on measures of inputs, like the SAT scores of incoming freshmen or the cost of a year’s tuition. As a result, price has become a symbol of quality instead of a component of quality. Colleges have many incentives to raise prices and none to lower them—indeed, lower prices send a negative signal to the market. Instead of increasing the number of customers, lower prices often drive them away. The U.S. News rankings reinforce this. Ten percent of a college’s score in those rankings is based on spending per student, while another 20 percent is based on factors like faculty salaries and small class sizes, which cost money to buy. Colleges that used the savings from technology to cut prices—and thus expenditures—would see their ranking go down. Their status diminished, schools would see their applications for admission and alumni donations fall as well.

Military

Obama and the Brass
The conventional wisdom seems to be that tension is unavoidable. Military leaders are, the theory goes, bound to be skeptical about a young president who didn't serve in the military, and who has articulated a withdrawal policy many in the Pentagon are skeptical of.

But there are at least two key angles to consider here. First, during the ongoing transition, Obama seems to be reassuring military leaders about his plans, and signaling to the brass, through his personnel decisions, that "he will do nothing rash and will seek their advice, even while making clear that he may not always take it."

Second, and just as importantly, Obama has an opportunity, which he plans to fully take advantage of, to make some changes that military leaders and Pentagon officials have wanted for years, but which Bush failed to even consider. Indeed, for all of the perceived conservatism of the military, Obama's vision and agenda for the Pentagon is far more in line with officers' beliefs than the current president's.

Soldiers Who Have Taken a Life More Likely to Defend Iraq War (Thanks to copperstewart)
Wayne Klug, a psychologist at Berkshire Community College, asked 68 Iraq War veterans about their experiences, their thoughts on the war and their opinions about Iraqis and Americans. Compared with soldiers who never saw combat and those who witnessed a death but were not involved, veterans who “were directly involved in an Iraqi fatality” were much more likely to consider the war to be beneficial to both countries.
xenologer: (it are fact)
Another run-down of random stuff.

Equal Rights for LGBT Citizens

Hoosiers discuss Prop. 8 and their experiences with gay marriage
Tiffany Dow, board member, Indiana Black Pride: “(Indiana is) not at the forefront, by any means. I believe there will be (legal same-sex marriage) at some point, but I think the only way it’s going to happen in the state is if it’s a federal thing.

“It’s kind of scary to me that with Prop. 8 passing, a right that was already given to people was taken away, at the hands of the voters. Any time you have minorities’ rights dictated by the majority, that’s certainly a civil rights issue.”(...)

There’s no amendment in the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage. A proposal to amend the constitution has been pushed in years past, as opponents of gay marriage fear Indiana’s judges could strike down the law. Such a ban failed to pass out of the General Assembly in 2007 and again this year, which means the lengthy process to amend the state constitution would have to start from scratch in 2009. That’s unlikely to happen.

Democratic House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer has not shown a willingness to allow a floor vote. A constitutional amendment requires passage by two separately elected legislatures, followed by the approval of voters in a general election.

Today in Traditional Marriage
A husband and wife have been charged with torture and other counts after a bruised, terrified 17-year-old showed up at a gym with a chain locked to his ankle, claiming he had just fled his captors, authorities said Tuesday.

Kelly Lau Schumacher, 30, and Michael Schumacher, 34, were arrested late Monday, said Matt Robinson, a spokesman for police in Tracy. (...)

Kelly and Michael Schumacher are legally married—and they can stay legally married, even if they're found to be guilty of this horrendous crime. They can stay legally married even if the decomposing remains of twenty other teenagers are found buried in their backyard. Their marriage license cannot be revoked. If Michael dies in prison, Kelly can remarry—even if she's serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. If Kelly decides to divorce Michael, he can remarry—even if he's sitting on death row. He can remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce until he runs out of prison pen pals. Because the courts have declared that marriage is so fundamental a right that it cannot be denied to convicted rapists or to serial killers.

But it's a right that's denied to me and my boyfriend. Because we're both men and that ain't right.

Why churches fear gay marriage
American families are under a great deal of stress. The divorce rate isn't declining, it's increasing. And the majority of American women are now living alone. We are raising children in America without fathers. I think of Michael Phelps at the Olympics with his mother in the stands. His father was completely absent. He was negligible; no one refers to him, no one noticed his absence.

The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.

Monotheistic religions feel threatened by the rise of feminism and the insistence, in many communities, that women take a bigger role in the church. At the same time that women are claiming more responsibility for their religious life, they are also moving out of traditional roles as wife and mother. This is why abortion is so threatening to many religious people -- it represents some rejection of the traditional role of mother.

In such a world, we need to identify the relationship between feminism and homosexuality. These movements began, in some sense, to achieve visibility alongside one another. I know a lot of black churches take offense when gay activists say that the gay movement is somehow analogous to the black civil rights movement. And while there is some relationship between the persecution of gays and the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, I think the true analogy is to the women's movement. What we represent as gays in America is an alternative to the traditional male-structured society.

Judge Removes Child From Lesbian Parents
Fayette Circuit Judge Paul Blake originally agreed to allow Kathyrn Kutil and Cheryl Hess to be foster parents for the infant girl, following a positive assessment by the Department of Health and Human Resources.

Court records show that the little girl was born to a drug addicted mother and the baby had had cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines in her system. Shortly after birth the baby went through drug withdrawal. The father was unknown.

The Department placed the child with Kutil and Hess, who had been approved as foster parents, when it could not find any blood relatives of the mother.

But nearly a year later when the couple applied to adopt the little girl both the Department and Judge Blake balked. In his ruling Blake ordered the child removed saying the baby should be permanently placed in a home where the parents would be a married opposite-sex couple.

The ruling said that he had agreed to allow the women to foster the child because it was the best option at the time. But he never intended it to be permanent.

New York City LGBT Healthcare Found Lacking
A study by New York’s Public Advocate into the ways the LGBT community receives healthcare has found major barriers and recommends urgent action.

The report, Improving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Access to Healthcare at New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation Facilities, was released by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.

It specifically details the barriers LGBT New Yorkers confront in obtaining health care from New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC).

The report found that both were in sensitive to LGBT medical needs, that there often was homophobia and hostility from providers, and as a result many LGBT people in the city are not accessing basic healthcare services.

Religion

Pope Questions Interfaith Dialogue
In quotations from the letter that appeared on Sunday in Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, the pope said the book “explained with great clarity” that “an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible.” In theological terms, added the pope, “a true dialogue is not possible without putting one’s faith in parentheses.”

But Benedict added that “intercultural dialogue which deepens the cultural consequences of basic religious ideas” was important. He called for confronting “in a public forum the cultural consequences of basic religious decisions.”

Challenging the Order?
Salon.com interviews gay Catholic author Richard Rodriguez about gay marriage, the "Desert religions", and the power of women in religious life. What is striking about the piece, from my perspective, is how close he gets to endorsing a shift away from monotheism (or at least male-oriented monotheism) while discussing religion.

"The desert religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- are male religions. Their perception is that God is a male god and Allah is a male god. If the male is allowed to hold onto the power of God, then I think we are in terrible shape. I think what's coming out of Colorado Springs right now, with people like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, is either the last or continuing gasp of a male hierarchy in religion. That's what's at stake. And women have a determining role to play. Are they going to go along with this, or are they going to challenge the order?"

While Rodriquez talks about how the traditional monotheisms feel "threatened by the rise of feminism", he seems unable to look outside the "desert religions" and see that millions of women are indeed challenging the order by leaving it entirely for a variety of faiths that are more egalitarian in outlook.

Why the Debate Over Creationism Matters
Recently I have been involved in a couple conversations with folks who aren’t really “informed” (I use the term loosely) creationists but have been hounded enough by creationists/biblical literalists who have drawn the battle line twixt themselves and evolutionists/biblical contextualists that they sit down firmly just on the creationists’ side of the fence — just in case evolutionists really are godless heretics. They’re not interested in getting into discussions about the origins question; while not wholly dismissive of those who accept the scientific consensus (biblical contextualists), they’re entirely content to live and let live. They can’t be bothered to investigate the issue on either the scientific or the biblical side, but, when pressed to mark where they stand, figure that they can’t go wrong if they just stick with the (perceived) default: interpreting Genesis as historical.

There are things I believe are true and right that I don’t become an activist for because of their essentially trivial nature; but there are a few reasons that I think this particular issue is no trivial, purely academic dispute.

Projecting Hostility
Conservative Evangelicals often project a hostility onto others that simply isn't there, and may in fact reflect an assumption that others are as hostile to them as they are, deep down, to others. My initial point was the irony of a more exclusive group calling a more inclusive group "less friendly". I can appreciate a good bit of irony, but things seem to have gotten seriously out of hand at this stage.

Thinking back to my more conservative days, I wonder whether a key reason for maintaining that one is facing hostility even when one isn't has to do with the Bible. The New Testament reflects contexts in which real persecution (arrest, imprisonment, even execution) were part of the church's experience. Might one reason conservative Christians treat the world as hostile in this way, even when they live in a country that safeguards their religious freedom, be that if the world they inhabit doesn't allow for direct application of the New Testament, then they simply don't know how to make sense of their lives? Could it be the desire for a simple hermeneutic (or conversely, fear of a more complex process of interpretation) that is at the heart of this phenomenon?


Education

Technology is driving down the cost of teaching undergraduates. So why are tuition bills going up?
On August 6, 2008, the Washington Post reported that tuition and fees at public colleges in Virginia will increase by an average of 7.3 percent this year. The article was four sentences long and ran in the Metro section, below the fold, in space reserved for unremarkable news. The drumbeat of higher education price increases has become so steady in recent years that it barely merits attention. But the cumulative effect is enormous: the average price of attending a public university more than doubled over the last two decades, even after adjusting for inflation. The steepest increases came in the last five years.

And there’s nothing routine about the way college costs are weighing down lower- and middle-income families. Students are still going to college—in this day and age, what choice do they have? But some are getting priced out of the four-year sector into two-year colleges, while others are trying unsuccessfully to simultaneously hold down a full-time job and earn a degree. More students are going deeply into debt, narrowing their career options and risking catastrophic default. The lightly regulated private student loan market, which barely existed ten years ago, now controls about 20 percent of loan volume, burdening financially vulnerable undergraduates with high interest rates and few legal protections. State and federal governments have poured tens of billions of new taxpayer dollars into student aid programs, only to see them swallowed up by institutions with a seemingly unlimited appetite for funds.

For years colleges have insisted that rapidly rising prices are unavoidable because higher education is a labor-intensive business that cannot become more efficient. A forty-minute lecture takes just as long to deliver today as it did a hundred years ago, they say; a ten-page paper takes just as long to grade. Because efficiencies in other industries are driving up the overall cost of skilled labor, colleges have to offer salaries to match, which pushes productivity down. (Economists call this "Baumol’s cost disease," after the New York University economist who first made the diagnosis.) Regrettable for students, of course, but what can be done?

In fact, this premise is false. Colleges are perfectly capable of becoming more efficient and productive, in the same way that countless other industries have: through technology. And increasingly, they are. One of the untold stories in higher education is that the cost of teaching is starting to decline, but virtually none of those savings are being passed along to students and parents in the form of lower prices. Instead, colleges are pocketing the difference, even as they continue to jack up tuition bills. (...)

Since it’s effectively impossible to judge institutions by their outputs—that is, by how much students learn—the pecking order in higher education tends to be based on measures of inputs, like the SAT scores of incoming freshmen or the cost of a year’s tuition. As a result, price has become a symbol of quality instead of a component of quality. Colleges have many incentives to raise prices and none to lower them—indeed, lower prices send a negative signal to the market. Instead of increasing the number of customers, lower prices often drive them away. The U.S. News rankings reinforce this. Ten percent of a college’s score in those rankings is based on spending per student, while another 20 percent is based on factors like faculty salaries and small class sizes, which cost money to buy. Colleges that used the savings from technology to cut prices—and thus expenditures—would see their ranking go down. Their status diminished, schools would see their applications for admission and alumni donations fall as well.

Military

Obama and the Brass
The conventional wisdom seems to be that tension is unavoidable. Military leaders are, the theory goes, bound to be skeptical about a young president who didn't serve in the military, and who has articulated a withdrawal policy many in the Pentagon are skeptical of.

But there are at least two key angles to consider here. First, during the ongoing transition, Obama seems to be reassuring military leaders about his plans, and signaling to the brass, through his personnel decisions, that "he will do nothing rash and will seek their advice, even while making clear that he may not always take it."

Second, and just as importantly, Obama has an opportunity, which he plans to fully take advantage of, to make some changes that military leaders and Pentagon officials have wanted for years, but which Bush failed to even consider. Indeed, for all of the perceived conservatism of the military, Obama's vision and agenda for the Pentagon is far more in line with officers' beliefs than the current president's.

Soldiers Who Have Taken a Life More Likely to Defend Iraq War (Thanks to copperstewart)
Wayne Klug, a psychologist at Berkshire Community College, asked 68 Iraq War veterans about their experiences, their thoughts on the war and their opinions about Iraqis and Americans. Compared with soldiers who never saw combat and those who witnessed a death but were not involved, veterans who “were directly involved in an Iraqi fatality” were much more likely to consider the war to be beneficial to both countries.
xenologer: (it are fact)
Another run-down of random stuff.

Equal Rights for LGBT Citizens

Hoosiers discuss Prop. 8 and their experiences with gay marriage
Tiffany Dow, board member, Indiana Black Pride: “(Indiana is) not at the forefront, by any means. I believe there will be (legal same-sex marriage) at some point, but I think the only way it’s going to happen in the state is if it’s a federal thing.

“It’s kind of scary to me that with Prop. 8 passing, a right that was already given to people was taken away, at the hands of the voters. Any time you have minorities’ rights dictated by the majority, that’s certainly a civil rights issue.”(...)

There’s no amendment in the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage. A proposal to amend the constitution has been pushed in years past, as opponents of gay marriage fear Indiana’s judges could strike down the law. Such a ban failed to pass out of the General Assembly in 2007 and again this year, which means the lengthy process to amend the state constitution would have to start from scratch in 2009. That’s unlikely to happen.

Democratic House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer has not shown a willingness to allow a floor vote. A constitutional amendment requires passage by two separately elected legislatures, followed by the approval of voters in a general election.

Today in Traditional Marriage
A husband and wife have been charged with torture and other counts after a bruised, terrified 17-year-old showed up at a gym with a chain locked to his ankle, claiming he had just fled his captors, authorities said Tuesday.

Kelly Lau Schumacher, 30, and Michael Schumacher, 34, were arrested late Monday, said Matt Robinson, a spokesman for police in Tracy. (...)

Kelly and Michael Schumacher are legally married—and they can stay legally married, even if they're found to be guilty of this horrendous crime. They can stay legally married even if the decomposing remains of twenty other teenagers are found buried in their backyard. Their marriage license cannot be revoked. If Michael dies in prison, Kelly can remarry—even if she's serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. If Kelly decides to divorce Michael, he can remarry—even if he's sitting on death row. He can remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce until he runs out of prison pen pals. Because the courts have declared that marriage is so fundamental a right that it cannot be denied to convicted rapists or to serial killers.

But it's a right that's denied to me and my boyfriend. Because we're both men and that ain't right.

Why churches fear gay marriage
American families are under a great deal of stress. The divorce rate isn't declining, it's increasing. And the majority of American women are now living alone. We are raising children in America without fathers. I think of Michael Phelps at the Olympics with his mother in the stands. His father was completely absent. He was negligible; no one refers to him, no one noticed his absence.

The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.

Monotheistic religions feel threatened by the rise of feminism and the insistence, in many communities, that women take a bigger role in the church. At the same time that women are claiming more responsibility for their religious life, they are also moving out of traditional roles as wife and mother. This is why abortion is so threatening to many religious people -- it represents some rejection of the traditional role of mother.

In such a world, we need to identify the relationship between feminism and homosexuality. These movements began, in some sense, to achieve visibility alongside one another. I know a lot of black churches take offense when gay activists say that the gay movement is somehow analogous to the black civil rights movement. And while there is some relationship between the persecution of gays and the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, I think the true analogy is to the women's movement. What we represent as gays in America is an alternative to the traditional male-structured society.

Judge Removes Child From Lesbian Parents
Fayette Circuit Judge Paul Blake originally agreed to allow Kathyrn Kutil and Cheryl Hess to be foster parents for the infant girl, following a positive assessment by the Department of Health and Human Resources.

Court records show that the little girl was born to a drug addicted mother and the baby had had cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines in her system. Shortly after birth the baby went through drug withdrawal. The father was unknown.

The Department placed the child with Kutil and Hess, who had been approved as foster parents, when it could not find any blood relatives of the mother.

But nearly a year later when the couple applied to adopt the little girl both the Department and Judge Blake balked. In his ruling Blake ordered the child removed saying the baby should be permanently placed in a home where the parents would be a married opposite-sex couple.

The ruling said that he had agreed to allow the women to foster the child because it was the best option at the time. But he never intended it to be permanent.

New York City LGBT Healthcare Found Lacking
A study by New York’s Public Advocate into the ways the LGBT community receives healthcare has found major barriers and recommends urgent action.

The report, Improving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Access to Healthcare at New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation Facilities, was released by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.

It specifically details the barriers LGBT New Yorkers confront in obtaining health care from New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC).

The report found that both were in sensitive to LGBT medical needs, that there often was homophobia and hostility from providers, and as a result many LGBT people in the city are not accessing basic healthcare services.

Religion

Pope Questions Interfaith Dialogue
In quotations from the letter that appeared on Sunday in Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, the pope said the book “explained with great clarity” that “an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible.” In theological terms, added the pope, “a true dialogue is not possible without putting one’s faith in parentheses.”

But Benedict added that “intercultural dialogue which deepens the cultural consequences of basic religious ideas” was important. He called for confronting “in a public forum the cultural consequences of basic religious decisions.”

Challenging the Order?
Salon.com interviews gay Catholic author Richard Rodriguez about gay marriage, the "Desert religions", and the power of women in religious life. What is striking about the piece, from my perspective, is how close he gets to endorsing a shift away from monotheism (or at least male-oriented monotheism) while discussing religion.

"The desert religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- are male religions. Their perception is that God is a male god and Allah is a male god. If the male is allowed to hold onto the power of God, then I think we are in terrible shape. I think what's coming out of Colorado Springs right now, with people like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, is either the last or continuing gasp of a male hierarchy in religion. That's what's at stake. And women have a determining role to play. Are they going to go along with this, or are they going to challenge the order?"

While Rodriquez talks about how the traditional monotheisms feel "threatened by the rise of feminism", he seems unable to look outside the "desert religions" and see that millions of women are indeed challenging the order by leaving it entirely for a variety of faiths that are more egalitarian in outlook.

Why the Debate Over Creationism Matters
Recently I have been involved in a couple conversations with folks who aren’t really “informed” (I use the term loosely) creationists but have been hounded enough by creationists/biblical literalists who have drawn the battle line twixt themselves and evolutionists/biblical contextualists that they sit down firmly just on the creationists’ side of the fence — just in case evolutionists really are godless heretics. They’re not interested in getting into discussions about the origins question; while not wholly dismissive of those who accept the scientific consensus (biblical contextualists), they’re entirely content to live and let live. They can’t be bothered to investigate the issue on either the scientific or the biblical side, but, when pressed to mark where they stand, figure that they can’t go wrong if they just stick with the (perceived) default: interpreting Genesis as historical.

There are things I believe are true and right that I don’t become an activist for because of their essentially trivial nature; but there are a few reasons that I think this particular issue is no trivial, purely academic dispute.

Projecting Hostility
Conservative Evangelicals often project a hostility onto others that simply isn't there, and may in fact reflect an assumption that others are as hostile to them as they are, deep down, to others. My initial point was the irony of a more exclusive group calling a more inclusive group "less friendly". I can appreciate a good bit of irony, but things seem to have gotten seriously out of hand at this stage.

Thinking back to my more conservative days, I wonder whether a key reason for maintaining that one is facing hostility even when one isn't has to do with the Bible. The New Testament reflects contexts in which real persecution (arrest, imprisonment, even execution) were part of the church's experience. Might one reason conservative Christians treat the world as hostile in this way, even when they live in a country that safeguards their religious freedom, be that if the world they inhabit doesn't allow for direct application of the New Testament, then they simply don't know how to make sense of their lives? Could it be the desire for a simple hermeneutic (or conversely, fear of a more complex process of interpretation) that is at the heart of this phenomenon?


Education

Technology is driving down the cost of teaching undergraduates. So why are tuition bills going up?
On August 6, 2008, the Washington Post reported that tuition and fees at public colleges in Virginia will increase by an average of 7.3 percent this year. The article was four sentences long and ran in the Metro section, below the fold, in space reserved for unremarkable news. The drumbeat of higher education price increases has become so steady in recent years that it barely merits attention. But the cumulative effect is enormous: the average price of attending a public university more than doubled over the last two decades, even after adjusting for inflation. The steepest increases came in the last five years.

And there’s nothing routine about the way college costs are weighing down lower- and middle-income families. Students are still going to college—in this day and age, what choice do they have? But some are getting priced out of the four-year sector into two-year colleges, while others are trying unsuccessfully to simultaneously hold down a full-time job and earn a degree. More students are going deeply into debt, narrowing their career options and risking catastrophic default. The lightly regulated private student loan market, which barely existed ten years ago, now controls about 20 percent of loan volume, burdening financially vulnerable undergraduates with high interest rates and few legal protections. State and federal governments have poured tens of billions of new taxpayer dollars into student aid programs, only to see them swallowed up by institutions with a seemingly unlimited appetite for funds.

For years colleges have insisted that rapidly rising prices are unavoidable because higher education is a labor-intensive business that cannot become more efficient. A forty-minute lecture takes just as long to deliver today as it did a hundred years ago, they say; a ten-page paper takes just as long to grade. Because efficiencies in other industries are driving up the overall cost of skilled labor, colleges have to offer salaries to match, which pushes productivity down. (Economists call this "Baumol’s cost disease," after the New York University economist who first made the diagnosis.) Regrettable for students, of course, but what can be done?

In fact, this premise is false. Colleges are perfectly capable of becoming more efficient and productive, in the same way that countless other industries have: through technology. And increasingly, they are. One of the untold stories in higher education is that the cost of teaching is starting to decline, but virtually none of those savings are being passed along to students and parents in the form of lower prices. Instead, colleges are pocketing the difference, even as they continue to jack up tuition bills. (...)

Since it’s effectively impossible to judge institutions by their outputs—that is, by how much students learn—the pecking order in higher education tends to be based on measures of inputs, like the SAT scores of incoming freshmen or the cost of a year’s tuition. As a result, price has become a symbol of quality instead of a component of quality. Colleges have many incentives to raise prices and none to lower them—indeed, lower prices send a negative signal to the market. Instead of increasing the number of customers, lower prices often drive them away. The U.S. News rankings reinforce this. Ten percent of a college’s score in those rankings is based on spending per student, while another 20 percent is based on factors like faculty salaries and small class sizes, which cost money to buy. Colleges that used the savings from technology to cut prices—and thus expenditures—would see their ranking go down. Their status diminished, schools would see their applications for admission and alumni donations fall as well.

Military

Obama and the Brass
The conventional wisdom seems to be that tension is unavoidable. Military leaders are, the theory goes, bound to be skeptical about a young president who didn't serve in the military, and who has articulated a withdrawal policy many in the Pentagon are skeptical of.

But there are at least two key angles to consider here. First, during the ongoing transition, Obama seems to be reassuring military leaders about his plans, and signaling to the brass, through his personnel decisions, that "he will do nothing rash and will seek their advice, even while making clear that he may not always take it."

Second, and just as importantly, Obama has an opportunity, which he plans to fully take advantage of, to make some changes that military leaders and Pentagon officials have wanted for years, but which Bush failed to even consider. Indeed, for all of the perceived conservatism of the military, Obama's vision and agenda for the Pentagon is far more in line with officers' beliefs than the current president's.

Soldiers Who Have Taken a Life More Likely to Defend Iraq War (Thanks to copperstewart)
Wayne Klug, a psychologist at Berkshire Community College, asked 68 Iraq War veterans about their experiences, their thoughts on the war and their opinions about Iraqis and Americans. Compared with soldiers who never saw combat and those who witnessed a death but were not involved, veterans who “were directly involved in an Iraqi fatality” were much more likely to consider the war to be beneficial to both countries.
xenologer: (simon smile)
Yes, yes. Another quick run-down. I knew I had to do one, because I leave each of these pages open in a tab until I can get to it. Means that I don't always get to them until my browser begins groaning in pain because of all the open tabs. For the sake of my Firefox, here are some of the pages I had open.

Civil Rights

Meet the Hip Young People Who Hate Gay Marriage
This. Is. Hilarious. And also sad. The ads for Proposition 8, the voter initiative in California that'll undo the state's gay marriages, are out of control.

Miami judge rules against Florida gay adoption ban
The state presented experts who claimed there was a higher incidence of drug and alcohol abuse among gay couples, that they were more unstable than heterosexual unions and that the children of gay couples suffer a societal stigma.

Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association all support permitting same-sex couples to adopt.

Lederman rejected all the state's arguments soundly.

"It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent," the judge wrote. "A child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent. The exclusion causes some children to be deprived of a permanent placement with a family that is best suited to their needs."


Religion

Why American Christians look so stupid and what you can do about it
On our trip out to Wyoming I listened to the program on Crosstalk Radio where they allowed callers to tell who they were going to vote for and why. Almost every single one said, “I’m voting for McCain because I’m a Christian.” Well guess what, folks, I voted for Obama because I’m a Republican and a Christian.(...)

We don’t just look like a bunch of kooks. We are a bunch of kooks. I’d be willing to put up with Christians speaking out on the election if they displayed the slightest semblance of a biblical worldview and a marginal ability to exegete a Biblical text. But they don’t. The eschatology of someone who can find “an olive-skinned Muslim” in the Book of Revelation is that of a deluded moron.

Not only that, our Biblical rhetoric thinly veils a Republican partisanship that is downright idolatry. Bible-Thumpers across the spectrum reveled in the lurid missteps of Clinton. But when Bush showed the militancy of a Caligula we were the first to bow before his throne and overlook war crimes, trampling of civil rights and the most disgusting waste of America’s bounty on bombs rather than bread. We’re not a city on a hill. We’re temple prostitutes at the altars of materialism and neo-imperialism.

There’s no escape from your husband
I believe that long-term emotional and verbal abuse is a sin of unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant. If headship means anything, it means that the husband should take the lead in creating a safe and nurturing environment for his wife and children where everyone can develop the gifts they have been given by God. Unfortunately, a lot of the headship and loving submission dogma I’m hearing is nothing but misogyny with a makeover. I recently listened to a woman who had been very active in directing a crisis pregnancy center who resigned because she wanted to “restore Godly submission in her home” and “find her fulfillment in building up her husband.” That is a bunch of baloney. Her husband is a couch potato. Hasn’t anyone ever told her about Priscilla and Aquila? Or Andronicus and Junias? Or Martha and Mary? Or Mother Teresa? Or Ladybird Johnson? Or Marie Curie? Or Aimee Semple McPherson? Or Corrie Ten Boom? Children of God are called to impact this world regardless of their reproductive organs. And husband and wife teams have a huge potential to fulfill God’s kingdom and that doesn’t merely mean she keeps his shirts ironed so that he can fulfill his ministry.

My main point is that if a woman in your church is seeking separation from her husband, give her the benefit of the doubt. It’s highly likely that she is being intimidated by her husband, she’s ashamed of “failing” as a wife, and she’s feeling condemnation from everyone in her church.

Misc. Politics

Obama to Create Commission on Torture?
Obama aides are wary of taking any steps that would smack of political retribution. That's one reason they are reluctant to see high-profile investigations by the Democratic-controlled Congress or to greenlight a broad Justice inquiry (absent specific new evidence of wrongdoing). "If there was any effort to have war-crimes prosecutions of the Bush administration, you'd instantly destroy whatever hopes you have of bipartisanship," said Robert Litt, a former Justice criminal division chief during the Clinton administration. A new commission, on the other hand, could emulate the bipartisan tone set by Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton in investigating the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 panel was created by Congress. An alternative model, floated by human-rights lawyer Scott Horton, would be a presidential commission similar to the one appointed by Gerald Ford in 1975 and headed by Nelson Rockefeller that investigated cold-war abuses by the CIA.

Supporting Our Troops
Marine Cpl. James Dixon was wounded twice in Iraq -- by a roadside bomb and a land mine. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, a dislocated hip and hearing loss. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Army Sgt. Lori Meshell shattered a hip and crushed her back and knees while diving for cover during a mortar attack in Iraq. She has undergone a hip replacement and knee reconstruction and needs at least three more surgeries.

In each case, the Pentagon ruled that their disabilities were not combat-related.

In a little-noticed regulation change in March, the military's definition of combat-related disabilities was narrowed, costing some injured veterans thousands of dollars in lost benefits -- and triggering outrage from veterans' advocacy groups.

The Pentagon said the change was consistent with Congress' intent when it passed a "wounded warrior" law in January. (...)

Years ago, Congress adopted a detailed definition of combat-related disabilities. It included such criteria as hazardous service, conditions simulating war and disability caused by an "instrumentality of war." Those criteria were not altered in the January legislation.

The Pentagon, in establishing an internal policy based on the legislation, in March unlawfully stripped those criteria from the legislation, the Disabled American Veterans said.

"We do not view this as an oversight," Baker testified before Congress in June. "We view this as an intentional effort to conserve monetary resources at the expense of disabled veterans."

Did Talk Radio Kill Conservatism?
It is not that conservatism generally permits less nuance than liberalism (in terms of political messaging, that is probably one of conservatism's strengths). Rather, the key lies in the second passage that I highlighted. There are a certain segment of conservatives who literally cannot believe that anybody would see the world differently than the way they do. They have not just forgotten how to persuade; they have forgotten about the necessity of persuasion.

John Ziegler is a shining example of such a conservative. During my interview with him, Ziegler made absolutely no effort to persuade me about the veracity of any of his viewpoints. He simply asserted them -- and then became frustrated, paranoid, or vulgar when I rebutted them. (...)

Moreover, almost uniquely to radio, most of the audience is not even paying attention to you, because most people listen to radio when they're in the process of doing something else. (If they weren't doing something else, they'd be watching TV). They are driving, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes -- and you have to work really hard to sustain their attention. Hence what Wallace refers to as the importance of "stimulating" the listener, an art that Ziegler has mastered. Invariably, the times when Ziegler became really, really angry with me during the interview was when I was not permitting him to be stimulating, but instead asking him specific, banal questions that required specific, banal answers. Those questions would have made for terrible radio! And Ziegler had no idea how to answer them. (...)

Conservatives listen to significantly more talk radio than other market segments; 28 percent of conservative Republicans listen to talk radio regularly, as opposed to 17 percent of the public as a whole. (Unsurprisingly, conservative hosts also dominate the the Arbitron ratings). It may have gone to their heads a little bit; they may have forgotten about radio's idiosyncrasies as a means of communication. The failures of the Bush administration have woken the country up; conservatives now need to find a way to communicate with people who are actually paying attention.

Blog Coverage Matters!
And [Obama] does indeed respond to pressure from bloggers:

A number of bloggers -- most notably Glenn Greenwald, Digby, and Andrew Sullivan -- have raised serious concerns about intelligence official John Brennan, who's been rumored to be a possible candidate for either the CIA director or the Director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration.
Brennan's critics accused him of supporting some of the Bush administration's most offensive intelligence-gathering policies, including rendition and "enhanced interrogation techniques." Obama, they said, even if he intended to move far away from those policies, should not make room for Brennan in his administration.
The criticism seems to have had the desired effect. Brennan has withdrawn from consideration for any intelligence post in the Obama administration.

[snip]

As for the broader context, Brennan's withdrawal appears to be the direct result of blog coverage. For those who believe bloggers' concerns are inconsequential, this is clear evidence to the contrary.
Most excellent. Brennan wasn't the most outrageous choice Obama could have made, but he was, nevertheless, an apologist for the Bush regime and has no place in the next administration. I'm glad our objections made a difference.
Why Center-Left Blogs Dominate
For more than two years, I was the editor for Salon' "Blog Report," featuring posts from the left and right. It led me to read dozens of conservative blogs every day, and I quickly realized that when it came to depth and seriousness of thought, the two sides weren't close. (James Joyner, who is both thoughtful and knowledgeable, is a noticeable exception.)

Indeed, to help drive the point home, earlier this year, Erick Erickson, RedState's editor, acknowledged that the "netroots" have an advantage over the "rightroots," but attributed it to an asymmetry in free time, since conservatives "have families because we don't abort our kids, and we have jobs because we believe in capitalism."

This is largely the kind of thinking that dominates on conservative blogs. They can't quite get to policy disputes or serious analysis, because they're too busy mulling over the implications of liberals joining forces with Islamofascists, the United Nations, and Mexican immigrants to execute some kind of nefarious plot.

Worse, Kevin noted that when these blogs do consider key policies, such as global warming and growing income inequality, they tend to believe the problems don't exist.

"Global warming and skyrocketing income inequality are problems that didn't even exist in 1980, which means there is no 'Reaganite' solution to appeal to," Kevin concluded. "There might still be conservative takes on these things, but they won't do any good until conservatives actually accept that these are real problems that people genuinely care about. That day still seems pretty far off."
xenologer: (simon smile)
Yes, yes. Another quick run-down. I knew I had to do one, because I leave each of these pages open in a tab until I can get to it. Means that I don't always get to them until my browser begins groaning in pain because of all the open tabs. For the sake of my Firefox, here are some of the pages I had open.

Civil Rights

Meet the Hip Young People Who Hate Gay Marriage
This. Is. Hilarious. And also sad. The ads for Proposition 8, the voter initiative in California that'll undo the state's gay marriages, are out of control.

Miami judge rules against Florida gay adoption ban
The state presented experts who claimed there was a higher incidence of drug and alcohol abuse among gay couples, that they were more unstable than heterosexual unions and that the children of gay couples suffer a societal stigma.

Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association all support permitting same-sex couples to adopt.

Lederman rejected all the state's arguments soundly.

"It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent," the judge wrote. "A child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent. The exclusion causes some children to be deprived of a permanent placement with a family that is best suited to their needs."


Religion

Why American Christians look so stupid and what you can do about it
On our trip out to Wyoming I listened to the program on Crosstalk Radio where they allowed callers to tell who they were going to vote for and why. Almost every single one said, “I’m voting for McCain because I’m a Christian.” Well guess what, folks, I voted for Obama because I’m a Republican and a Christian.(...)

We don’t just look like a bunch of kooks. We are a bunch of kooks. I’d be willing to put up with Christians speaking out on the election if they displayed the slightest semblance of a biblical worldview and a marginal ability to exegete a Biblical text. But they don’t. The eschatology of someone who can find “an olive-skinned Muslim” in the Book of Revelation is that of a deluded moron.

Not only that, our Biblical rhetoric thinly veils a Republican partisanship that is downright idolatry. Bible-Thumpers across the spectrum reveled in the lurid missteps of Clinton. But when Bush showed the militancy of a Caligula we were the first to bow before his throne and overlook war crimes, trampling of civil rights and the most disgusting waste of America’s bounty on bombs rather than bread. We’re not a city on a hill. We’re temple prostitutes at the altars of materialism and neo-imperialism.

There’s no escape from your husband
I believe that long-term emotional and verbal abuse is a sin of unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant. If headship means anything, it means that the husband should take the lead in creating a safe and nurturing environment for his wife and children where everyone can develop the gifts they have been given by God. Unfortunately, a lot of the headship and loving submission dogma I’m hearing is nothing but misogyny with a makeover. I recently listened to a woman who had been very active in directing a crisis pregnancy center who resigned because she wanted to “restore Godly submission in her home” and “find her fulfillment in building up her husband.” That is a bunch of baloney. Her husband is a couch potato. Hasn’t anyone ever told her about Priscilla and Aquila? Or Andronicus and Junias? Or Martha and Mary? Or Mother Teresa? Or Ladybird Johnson? Or Marie Curie? Or Aimee Semple McPherson? Or Corrie Ten Boom? Children of God are called to impact this world regardless of their reproductive organs. And husband and wife teams have a huge potential to fulfill God’s kingdom and that doesn’t merely mean she keeps his shirts ironed so that he can fulfill his ministry.

My main point is that if a woman in your church is seeking separation from her husband, give her the benefit of the doubt. It’s highly likely that she is being intimidated by her husband, she’s ashamed of “failing” as a wife, and she’s feeling condemnation from everyone in her church.

Misc. Politics

Obama to Create Commission on Torture?
Obama aides are wary of taking any steps that would smack of political retribution. That's one reason they are reluctant to see high-profile investigations by the Democratic-controlled Congress or to greenlight a broad Justice inquiry (absent specific new evidence of wrongdoing). "If there was any effort to have war-crimes prosecutions of the Bush administration, you'd instantly destroy whatever hopes you have of bipartisanship," said Robert Litt, a former Justice criminal division chief during the Clinton administration. A new commission, on the other hand, could emulate the bipartisan tone set by Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton in investigating the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 panel was created by Congress. An alternative model, floated by human-rights lawyer Scott Horton, would be a presidential commission similar to the one appointed by Gerald Ford in 1975 and headed by Nelson Rockefeller that investigated cold-war abuses by the CIA.

Supporting Our Troops
Marine Cpl. James Dixon was wounded twice in Iraq -- by a roadside bomb and a land mine. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, a dislocated hip and hearing loss. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Army Sgt. Lori Meshell shattered a hip and crushed her back and knees while diving for cover during a mortar attack in Iraq. She has undergone a hip replacement and knee reconstruction and needs at least three more surgeries.

In each case, the Pentagon ruled that their disabilities were not combat-related.

In a little-noticed regulation change in March, the military's definition of combat-related disabilities was narrowed, costing some injured veterans thousands of dollars in lost benefits -- and triggering outrage from veterans' advocacy groups.

The Pentagon said the change was consistent with Congress' intent when it passed a "wounded warrior" law in January. (...)

Years ago, Congress adopted a detailed definition of combat-related disabilities. It included such criteria as hazardous service, conditions simulating war and disability caused by an "instrumentality of war." Those criteria were not altered in the January legislation.

The Pentagon, in establishing an internal policy based on the legislation, in March unlawfully stripped those criteria from the legislation, the Disabled American Veterans said.

"We do not view this as an oversight," Baker testified before Congress in June. "We view this as an intentional effort to conserve monetary resources at the expense of disabled veterans."

Did Talk Radio Kill Conservatism?
It is not that conservatism generally permits less nuance than liberalism (in terms of political messaging, that is probably one of conservatism's strengths). Rather, the key lies in the second passage that I highlighted. There are a certain segment of conservatives who literally cannot believe that anybody would see the world differently than the way they do. They have not just forgotten how to persuade; they have forgotten about the necessity of persuasion.

John Ziegler is a shining example of such a conservative. During my interview with him, Ziegler made absolutely no effort to persuade me about the veracity of any of his viewpoints. He simply asserted them -- and then became frustrated, paranoid, or vulgar when I rebutted them. (...)

Moreover, almost uniquely to radio, most of the audience is not even paying attention to you, because most people listen to radio when they're in the process of doing something else. (If they weren't doing something else, they'd be watching TV). They are driving, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes -- and you have to work really hard to sustain their attention. Hence what Wallace refers to as the importance of "stimulating" the listener, an art that Ziegler has mastered. Invariably, the times when Ziegler became really, really angry with me during the interview was when I was not permitting him to be stimulating, but instead asking him specific, banal questions that required specific, banal answers. Those questions would have made for terrible radio! And Ziegler had no idea how to answer them. (...)

Conservatives listen to significantly more talk radio than other market segments; 28 percent of conservative Republicans listen to talk radio regularly, as opposed to 17 percent of the public as a whole. (Unsurprisingly, conservative hosts also dominate the the Arbitron ratings). It may have gone to their heads a little bit; they may have forgotten about radio's idiosyncrasies as a means of communication. The failures of the Bush administration have woken the country up; conservatives now need to find a way to communicate with people who are actually paying attention.

Blog Coverage Matters!
And [Obama] does indeed respond to pressure from bloggers:

A number of bloggers -- most notably Glenn Greenwald, Digby, and Andrew Sullivan -- have raised serious concerns about intelligence official John Brennan, who's been rumored to be a possible candidate for either the CIA director or the Director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration.
Brennan's critics accused him of supporting some of the Bush administration's most offensive intelligence-gathering policies, including rendition and "enhanced interrogation techniques." Obama, they said, even if he intended to move far away from those policies, should not make room for Brennan in his administration.
The criticism seems to have had the desired effect. Brennan has withdrawn from consideration for any intelligence post in the Obama administration.

[snip]

As for the broader context, Brennan's withdrawal appears to be the direct result of blog coverage. For those who believe bloggers' concerns are inconsequential, this is clear evidence to the contrary.
Most excellent. Brennan wasn't the most outrageous choice Obama could have made, but he was, nevertheless, an apologist for the Bush regime and has no place in the next administration. I'm glad our objections made a difference.
Why Center-Left Blogs Dominate
For more than two years, I was the editor for Salon' "Blog Report," featuring posts from the left and right. It led me to read dozens of conservative blogs every day, and I quickly realized that when it came to depth and seriousness of thought, the two sides weren't close. (James Joyner, who is both thoughtful and knowledgeable, is a noticeable exception.)

Indeed, to help drive the point home, earlier this year, Erick Erickson, RedState's editor, acknowledged that the "netroots" have an advantage over the "rightroots," but attributed it to an asymmetry in free time, since conservatives "have families because we don't abort our kids, and we have jobs because we believe in capitalism."

This is largely the kind of thinking that dominates on conservative blogs. They can't quite get to policy disputes or serious analysis, because they're too busy mulling over the implications of liberals joining forces with Islamofascists, the United Nations, and Mexican immigrants to execute some kind of nefarious plot.

Worse, Kevin noted that when these blogs do consider key policies, such as global warming and growing income inequality, they tend to believe the problems don't exist.

"Global warming and skyrocketing income inequality are problems that didn't even exist in 1980, which means there is no 'Reaganite' solution to appeal to," Kevin concluded. "There might still be conservative takes on these things, but they won't do any good until conservatives actually accept that these are real problems that people genuinely care about. That day still seems pretty far off."

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