Sunday, July 26, 2015

Before Leona Helmsley, Midge Decter was the Queen of Mean

(He also provides vital evidence that, liberation or no, the homosexual sensibility still lives: not a character is introduced without a detailed and knowing description of the cut, color, and quality of his costume; nor is a single indoors occasion, from the quietest to the most squalid, presented without a prior survey of the furnishings and color scheme.)
-Neocon author Midge Decter, describing Edmund White's book, States of Desire, in her astonishingly spiteful 1980 Commentary article on how the gays forced her family to give up their summer place on Fire Island, "The Boys on the Beach." Antigay animus has been an animating principle of neoconservative thought every since, and her long, stereotyping screed is still cited with approval in the very best circles. As a polemic, it is remarkable for the way it packs a roundhouse punch without a single citation of the Bible.

Decter turned 88 yesterday.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Let the bidding begin

Aim higher...

Singapore's 50th anniversary as a city-state is an occasion for a complete rethink of commemorative swag:
Singapore’s independence day falls on August 9, and is slated to be the country’s biggest anniversary celebration ever...brands that have released special products to mark the day include Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Singapore Special Edition watch, a Singapore Airlines plane bearing a special motif, and Ayam Brand’s specially designed sardine cans.
Topping the charts, however, is Rolls-Royce's Silver Ghost SG50 Series II, in a production run of one.

 Based on the Ghost line of vehicles, the limited edition “SG50 Ghost Series II” bears the red and white colors of Singapore’s flag. The white exterior will feature red trim, while the interior seats are dark red in color, with the city’s iconic half-fish, half-lion Merlion symbol stitched into the four headrests.

“This SG50 Ghost Series II, a unique celebratory Rolls-Royce, will sit as a timeless masterpiece in a client’s care to reflect on this significant milestone,” Paul Harris, Asia Pacific Regional Director of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, told CNBC.
To commemorate the occasion, the vehicle’s tread plate will display a detailed sketch of Singapore’s skyline, with an etched statement that reads: “Hand Built in Goodwood, England for Singapore’s 50th Anniversary.”
Those who are looking to buy the car, however, may not find that so easy: The English car manufacturer will be making just one SG50 Ghost model available for purchase, according to CNBC. It will carry a price tag that will probably exceed the $290,000 it would cost you to get an entry-level Ghost Series II.

New NOM event is so fringe, if it was any more so, it would fall off the edge of the flat earth

Casting aside its shredded pretense of being more than a fringe Catholic group largely funded by the Knights of Columbus, the National Organization for Marriage is calling for a press conference, a surrounding of  the White House, and a private lunch at the DuPont Circle Hotel.

Because every child is entitled to a man and a woman as parents, the event is headlined:

500 Men Praying the Rosary on Feast of Our Lady's Assumption (Women Welcome)

Speakers include:

-"Traditional Family Property", in NOM's un-proofread flyer, is The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family & Property, a Pennsylvania-based  offshoot of a Brazilian "counter-reformation" Catholic organization.

-Richard Lane-
...Yes I said homily, as many of you know I am NOT a Priest or a Deacon, yet I am a Roman Catholic LAY (non-ordained) Evangelist. In this particular diocese due to the shortage of Priest’s (USCCB take note), specifically trained lay people are allowed to preach homilies at Masses in this Country... 
After about a two hour drive we reached Moengo. We entered the City on roads that are deplorable. I am shocked that any of these cars still have their suspensions in tact. This entire Village was once (approximately two or three years ago) a Bauxite Mining operation. It was the first and only Bauxite Mine in all of Suriname. The major company set up shop in this City complete with Shopping, Hospitals, schools, etc. The company has decided to leave Moengo and turned over the property to the State. Think about what happens when something is turned over to the Government to run… Yes, you got it… Government Housing. Picture the WORST Government Housing complex in America; now multiply that by 15, and add 4 to that number and you begin to see what I am speaking of in this area. 
The people are wonderful. So very welcoming and inviting. I have good living conditions comparable to the norm here. I am blessed to be able to stay in a room in the basement of the home of a local couple that rents these basement rooms out for additional income. Basement, damp, moldy, (I won’t talk about the smell in the bathroom), but THANK GOD THERE IS AN AIR CONDITIONER IN MY ROOM!!!
-Bill Devlin is a Philadelphia-area minister who co-pastors a New York City Church. His principal claim to fame is running a 42-day hunger strike to protest a New York City Schools decision not to rent its facilities to churches without homes of their own. In 2013 he got arrested for trying to get into the offices of the Pennsylvania General to pray on over her decision not to defend challenges to the state's anti-marriage equality law.

-Mark Houck says Christian Americans "lost" marriage after Obergefell, and now must get it back: 

We need to take back marriage. It is ours. Gifted to us by Almighty God; it is our job as Christians to reclaim it for Him. 
Houck is a chastity educator and co-founder of a Catholic organization called The King's Men, in Philadelphia.

-Alan Keyes was a functionary in the Reagan Administration and has never gotten over it. He ran for the Senate in Maryland in 1988; he got 38% of the vote. He ran for the Senate in Maryland in 1994; he got 29% of the vote. He ran for President as a Republican in 2000, and did not win the nomination. He ran for the Senate in Illinois in 2004, and got 27% of the vote against Barack Obama. He ran for President again in 2007; starting as a Republican in March, 2008, he sought the nomination of the Constitution Party as well. In April, he left the Republicans for the Constitutionalists,who denied him their nomination; in August he obtained the nomination of the American Independent Party, the right-wig remnant of George Wallace's 1968 third-party presidential run. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party nominee, won 69,478, 516 votes, handily besting Keyes, who got 47,000 votes. Since then, Keyes- smarting from his two Obama hidings- has devoted himself to revenge on Obama, taking redline positions on the President's qualifications to be President, and demanding his impeachment. You can look at his website free five time before you have to start paying to see his thoughts.

-Brian Brown is NOM's president, and spends most of his time raising money so he can keep raising money.

So far 55 men have flocked to NOM's call.

Friday, July 24, 2015

One instance where asymmetrical force levels could be really useful

While I'm not down with the idea that the solution to more mass killings in public spaces- a coulda-been-armed Louisiana survivor thought the massacre was just some teenagers playing a prank- it does strike me that bringing back theater ushers, and arming them, would solve the problems of cell phone junkies; jabbering idiots in the next row; and sticky floors.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's a matter of principle. In fact, just about any principle will do.

...The new conservative campaign for religious exemptions follows a well-established pattern. When advocates suffer defeat and their arguments lose legitimacy, they look for new ways to frame their views, often borrowing from their opponents. Initially, for example, critics objected to affirmative action in the name of “innocent” whites, but when that argument proved insufficient, they reframed their case in the language of civil rights. In 1978 in University of California v. Bakke, Justice Lewis Powell said many of the groups that made up the white majority were also minorities that had faced discrimination, and he appealed to ideals of color-blindness to justify restricting race-conscious efforts to integrate public universities.
Conscience is the new color-blindness. In the debate over same-sex marriage, the opponents at first defended traditional marriage by appealing to moral disapproval of homosexuality. When these arguments began to lose credibility, opponents emphasized the importance of preserving sex-differentiated procreation and parenting. Today many have reframed the defense of traditional marriage as necessary to preserve religious liberty, to promote pluralism, and to avoid discrimination against religious conservatives. Again, conservatives are speaking in the language of civil rights. As Jeb Bush has put it, “People that act on their conscience shouldn’t be discriminated against, for sure.”
This is how RFRA has been drawn into the culture wars. After failing to prohibit abortion and same-sex marriage, conservatives have sought to create religious exemptions from laws that protect the right to abortion or same-sex marriage. Without change in numbers or belief, religious conservatives have shifted from speaking as a majority seeking to enforce traditional morality to speaking as a minority seeking exemptions from laws that depart from traditional morality. If unable to protect traditional sexual morality through laws of general application, conservatives can protect traditional values through liberal frames—by asserting claims to religious exemption and by appealing to secular commitments to pluralism and nondiscrimination.
Conservatives’ claims of conscience in conflicts over abortion and same-sex marriage put liberals on the defensive. After all, don’t liberals still support the free exercise of religion? And if liberals do support religious liberty, shouldn’t they accept the logic of the conservative case? Current controversies seem to confront liberals with two unhappy choices: accept the new claims for religious accommodation or compromise longstanding commitments to conscience and religious liberty. But there is a way out of this thicket. The new claims being made by conservatives today are fundamentally different from the claims of religious liberty that led to the passage of RFRA. These differences are crucial to judging whether and how to accommodate the demands for religious exemption...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Meanwhile, Rand Paul took a chainsaw to the tax code, and That Lindsey Graham beat a cell phone to death.

While the media portrays handwringing among GOP elders over the existential threat of Donald Trump's candidacy, Marco Rubio found it liberating on Fox & Friends:
We already have a president now that has no class. I mean we have a president now that does selfie stick videos, that invites YouTube stars there, people that you know, eat cereal out of a bathtub that accuses his. You just saw the interview he did right now where he goes on comedy shows to talk about something as serious as Iran. The list goes on and on.

Best of times? Worst of times? Or is Fate around the corner, slipping the lead into the glove?

Writing at Good As You, Jeremy Hooper has been sounding an almost triumphalist note since the Obergefell decision. His latest observations:

By the time you read this headline, we'll be ten more seconds beyond stagnant anti-gay 'culture wars'

Since it's summer vacation time, perhaps you've found yourself at a theme park. And at said theme park, perhaps you've found yourself sitting on some sort of tram watching the tableaus of an attraction play outside your moving window. When your car stops and the tour guide is engaging you and your fellow passengers in the show, you might have observations or opinions or debates with your fellow riders or whatever else about the subject matter in front of you. You paid for your ticket; you're immersed in this world. Perhaps it's even one of those 4-D type deals that manages to temporarily lessen your comfort with something that's wet or foul smelling. If it's a good ride, you'll feel enough of an involved party to form and share your reactions. If it's a bad ride, you might just snark at it.
But good or bad, your car soon moves on. When it does, you take the experience and lessons and memories and possibly even nausea with you, but you too move on to the next adventure. Others will follow behind and have their own run-ins with the past, but they too will move on soon enough. And so on and so forth, day after day and season after season. After all, the cars only run in one direction.
And this is what the militant, dogged, increasingly desperate anti-LGBT activists don't realize. They are now a frozen-in-time scene from a much larger human experience, and the vast majority of us—including many of the "us" who flirted with their positions at one time or even currently—are all zooming right past to what comes next.
Yes, right now, pro-discrimination organizations like The Family Leader can get mainstream Republican candidates to join their little summit. Yes, right now people like Ryan Anderson can find an audience for a book insisting that the marriage debate isn't really over. Yes, right now a number of anti-gay conservatives can find a niche media outlet willing to entertain their views. Yes, right now far-right politicians like Kansas governor Sam Brownback can even sign executive (dis)orders that enshrine discrimination. They can even still use marriage and related fear mongering to drive up some electoral support. The conservative movement has been building up its infrastructure for years; that doesn't just disappear overnight.
But all of this is happening in a stagnant swamp. These ideas—their ideas—are old, musty, failed ones. Their conversations are part of a previous generation's "culture war." It's not only that their policy ideas are notions that will either go nowhere or will ultimately be overturned. It's more than that. The ideas themselves, with stopping marriage equality chief among them, are now historical remnants. The notions are themselves dated, with archivists already boxing them up for planned museums and future university study. Their ways, once politically viable and menacing, are now regressive scripts for ever-repeating animatronic characters to act out within an unchanging diorama.
And there is simply no way to upgrade them for a new generation. It's not just that their policy ideas are broken; it's much deeper than that. The very notions that they are pushing (e.g. the "right" to overturn minority rights via majority tyranny, the "right" to exalt discriminatory faith views against LGBT people against civil policies and inclusive faith views, the "right" to limit people's lives in unfair ways simply because of who they are) are false values and flawed notions that the changing tide is sweeping off the table of consideration. It's not like the consensus—the majority of the public, young people, corporate America, the media, universities, intellectuals, power brokers from all walks of life—is saying "Rework this whole lesser-than status thing and we'll see if we can hash out a deal." We are saying to those who made discrimination their bag: "You're drunk with intolerance; go home."
If that sounds dismissive of me, then good. Because it is. Unapologetically so. Proudly so.
With every passing minute, the right (as in correct) side of the debate is distancing itself from a non-moving, non-compromising, non-evolving attempt to justify patently unjust discrimination. A movement that was once a great nuisance in the lives of millions of Americans is now becoming a fading curiosity, at best. By autumn, more so. By next year, even more so. By the time the 2016 election is over (and particularly if it goes one certain direction), I think we'll all be shocked by how much the 21st century gay rights battles seem more like documentary footage than the brutal thing that we all lived.

On the other hand, there is this comment, by the economist Tyler Cowen, at Marginal Revolution:

What makes the Very Serious People so very serious?

I mean that question quite um…seriously.
Paul Krugman, who I believe originated the concept, recently defined it as follows: “…someone distinguished by his faith in received orthodoxy no matter the evidence.”  I would rather have something less normative and also more specific.
I think of it this way: the People are Very Serious if they realize that common sense morality must, to a considerable extent, rule politics.  At least if voters are watching.
So what is common sense morality in this context?  It embodies a number of propositions, including, for instance (with cultural variants across nations):
1. Political decisions should be based on what people and institutions deserve, based on their prior conduct and also on their contributions to the general good.
2. Economic nationalism.
3. Traditional morality, based on respect for authority, repayment of debts, savings, and hard work.
4. Inflation is bad, in part because it violates #1 and #3, and in the case of the eurozone it often violates #2 as well.
5. “I don’t care what you all say, the government should be able to find some way of arranging things so that I don’t have to suffer too badly from this.”
Now here’s the thing: common sense morality very often is wrong, or when it is right that is often with qualifications.
Therefore at the margin there is almost always a way to improve on what the Very Serious People are pushing for.  The Very Serious People realize this themselves, though not usually to the full extent, because they have been cognitively captured by their situations.  They see themselves as “a wee bit off due to political constraints,” instead of “a fair amount off due to political constraints.”  So there is usually some quite justified criticism of the Very Serious People.  Common sense morality is needed at some level, but still at the margin we wish to deviate from it.
That said, it is a big mistake to try to throw the Very Serious People under the bus.  The Very Serious People understand pretty well how to deal with a public which believes in some version of 1-5, and furthermore they often know that such public beliefs, whatever their limitations, are useful too.  Anyone else trying to manage the situation may come up with some favorable breakthroughs, but also may make a total hash of it, as was the case with Syriza.  Syriza failed to realize the import of 1-5 for both domestic and foreign politics,and so they drove the Greek economy to the point of total desperation.  There is a nested game going on, where the public has a big say on the heavily publicized issues, and the politicians must in some way heed that.
If you want to try the “replace the Very Serious People” game, and assume the subsequent risks, that is a judgment which can be made.  The mistake is to think that the partial wrongness of the Very Serious People is necessarily a reason to take matters out of their hands.
Addendum: Via Tim, here is the entry on Very Serious People on RationalWiki, it seems Atrios first put forward the concept.  And here are the remarks of Tsipras.

Henry Farrell has weighed in at Crooked Timber, and his thoughts are always worth a read:

Tyler Cowen argues that the concept of “Very Serious People” refers to people who “realize that common sense morality must, to a considerable extent, rule politics.” I’m not either the originator nor the popularizer of the term, but I think that’s wrong. As I understand it, the theory underlying the concept of Very Serious People is as follows.
1. Everyone has a mix of beliefs, some of which are right, and some wrong.
2. Everyone co-exists in a social system that tends to value, heavily reinforce and widely disseminate some people’s beliefs while disparaging, heavily discounting, and tending to limit the circulation of certain other people’s beliefs. This bias is not random, but instead reflects and reinforces existing power structures and asymmetries.
3. People whose beliefs are reinforced and widely circulated so that they are socially and politically influential, even when they are manifestly wrong, are Very Serious People. The system provides them with no incentives to admit error or perhaps to understand that they have erred, even when their mistakes have devastating consequences.
Or: Shorter Theory of Very Serious People.
1. Being Tom Friedman Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry.
Unless my memory is badly mistaken (it might be), Duncan Black arrived at the concept of Very Serious People during the intra-US Iraq War debates. Duncan, Paul and others (including many of us at CT) were very, very unhappy with how debate on the Iraq War was conducted. Those who advocated the pro-invasion case were treated as serious thinkers, of enormous gravitas, who were taking the tough decisions necessary to protect America’s national security. Those who disagreed were treated as flakes, fifth columnists, Commies and sneaking regarders. As we know, despite the agreement of the Very Serious People that the Iraq war was a grave and urgent necessity, it turned out to be a colossal clusterfuck. As we also know, many of the People who were Very Serious about Iraq still continue to be Very Serious about a multitude of other topics on our television screens and in our op-ed pages.
Being a Very Serious Person is about occupying a structural position that tends to reinforce, rather than counter, one’s innate biases and prejudices. Put slightly differently, the Very Serious Person theory is one that is at least as much about collective structures of opinion as it is about individuals. We all err, sometimes very badly. The theory says that VSPs face less incentive either to second guess their errors as they are making them, or to think through their errors after they have made them, because collective structures reinforce their tendency to think that they are right in the first instance, and their tendency to think that they ought to have been right (if it weren’t for those inconvenient facts/specific and contingent circumstances that meant that things didn’t go quite as predicted just this once) in the second.
My version of the VSP problem would hence lead one to focus more on the weaknesses of collective structures of error correction than on trying to correct individual biases. We all have biases which lead us to understand the world in particular ways.
These biases, however, can be valuable as well as problematic. I’ve been looking for years for a Joseph Schumpeter quote that I think I saw once, but may have inadvertently reconstructed for my own convenience, to the effect that our vision is blinkered because of our ideological biases, but that without these ideologies we would not be able to see at all. As Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber have argued, individual biases, together with a certain degree of pigheadedness can have advantages for group problem solving, as long as people have a minimal capacity to come around to recognizing the advantages of a better perspective, however grudgingly, and (my addition) as long as collective structures of decision making do not systematically entrench certain kinds of bias.
This is the advantage of democracy when it works; it harnesses mulishness and rancorous dispute, to reveal the information that is latent in the disagreements between our various perspectives on the world (which are inextricably intertwined with our value judgments). However, when certain people’s perspectives are privileged, the value of democracy is weakened. Their perspectives will continue to prevail, even when they are wrong. Weak arguments that they make will be treated as strong ones, while strong arguments made by their opponents will be treated as weak ones.

One implication of this argument is that centrist opinionators – those whose opinions are closest to the social core and hence most likely to be reinforced by the social system they live in – are especially likely to be prone to VSP syndrome. So too, perhaps, are people (on left, right or center) who believe that their reasoning capacity makes them more likely to be free from bias than those around them – Mercier and Sperber convincingly argue that reasoning evolved less as a way to figure out the world than to defend one’s one biased view of it and hence to win arguments. The problem with VSPs is not that they are biased (we all are) – it’s that the systems around them magnify that bias, reinforce it, and reflect it, creating the risk of vicious feedback loops of self-satisfied yet consequential ignorance (as in the Iraq war).

John Kasich, Platonist

“Policy is far more important than politics or ideology,” Kasich declared.

Read more at:

Falwell's Vision: The Welfare University

Sunday, July 19, 2015

GOP candidates: still poll-testing how much discrimination they can sell

Think Progress reported today:

"Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd asked Perry, who served as the governor of Texas from 2000 – 2015, whether his views on openly gay scout leaders had changed since 2008, when he wrote that “openly active gays, particularly advocates, present a problem. Because gay activism is central to their lives, it would unavoidably be a topic of conversation within a Scout troop. This would distract from the mission of Scouting; character building, not sex education.” 

"Perry said he still stood by that statement."

Having spent thirty years in Scouting, from a Cub pack to Eagle Scout to Explorer post advisor- I can look Governor Perry eye to eye to unpack this nonsense.

For one thing, I'm one of the handful of readers who bought and got to the end of, his 2008 book, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For. It's an odd book- really two in one. The good one is Perry's memoir of growing up in rural Texas in the late 1950s; I remember a similar world- and world view, from starting in Scouting in North Carolina a few years later.

The other book Perry shoehorned into his work is a political tract in which he totted up the score against his- and, naturally, America's- enemies. They are the usual suspects. Like most who share his views, and age, Perry wanted to stop the clock at the America of his childhood, and roll everything back to how it was then.

He still does. And so did the Boy Scouts. Since the 1970s, every year their numbers fell, they seemed to double down on their vision of America as  a fixed, never-changing Norman Rockwell cover from Boys' Life. They spent 25 years flogging gay Scouts and leaders through the courts while fighting to keep their pedophilia files secret, in 1971 they launched anti-drug campaign Scouts and leaders alike thought made no sense (I was one of the hapless trainers for it, before it was quietly shelved a year or so later). They fought cities and states to retain their privileged access to public facilities and taxpayer support while demanding the right to discriminate as they pleased.

Now they are trying to salvage a tarnished brand while the Perrys of Scouting roast them and threaten to leave, or defy new policies. Meantime, the Girl Scouts have, without fanfare, adapted over time to the realities of life, and enjoy  enormous respect and relevance.

Perry's double-down response to Chuck Todd today illustrates the tone-deafness of those who believe nothing should ever be done for the first time, and certainly not after 1959.

What are "openly active gays," anyway? Doubtless Frank Luntz would approve the louche implication of bolting those words together, but what do they mean in fact? Perry won't say.

And what of this clanger? "Because gay activism is central to their lives, it would unavoidably be a topic of conversation within a Scout troop." Poor Governor Perry. He was long aged out of Scouting before "gay activism" existed anywhere. He was 40, and running for Texas agriculture committee under Karl Rove's management, before it became an issue in Scouting. He probably, truly, believes, in his heart, gay Scout leaders just can't can't help bringing up being openly active gays every other breath at Scout meetings. In his book, he wrote that gay Scouts are incapable of living up to the precepts of Scouting, and compared being gay to being alcoholic. To do so, of course, means that gay Scouts must join to subvert the movement, and ruin its value to all, just because they can't stop jabbering about being openly active gays.

If, however, one edits his sentence slightly, to read, "Because religious activism is central to their lives, it would unavoidably be a topic of conversation within a Scout troop. This would distract from the mission of Scouting; character building, not a seminary education," would he also agree? That sort of thing I saw plenty of over three decades.

Friday, July 17, 2015

It seems to have worked for Jeb! 2016


Steve King: I’m as Hispanic as Julian Castro

Iowa Rep. Steve King, a hard-liner on immigration issues, took an unusual shot on Friday at Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.

“What does Julian Castro know? Does he know that I’m as Hispanic and Latino as he?” King tweeted Friday morning.

Read more:

How campaign finance laws let pols keep private Legal Services Corporations

The only presidential candidate under indictment is spending big:

Former Gov. Rick Perry has now spent more than $2 million in state campaign cash fighting the abuse-of-power indictment against him, according to finance records made public Thursday.
In the first half of this year, Perry, now a presidential candidate, tapped his Texas campaign coffers to pay just over $1 million to four law firms for "legal defense," the records show. The bills climb even higher with tens of thousands of dollars paid to a New York firm for what the Perry's campaign described as "legal defense consulting." 
His state campaign had already disclosed spending more than $1 million on legal defense during the second half of last year.
The steady stream of legal fees has left Perry with roughly $1.3 million in the account, a fraction of the $4.4 million he had stockpiled a year ago. And with Perry no longer holding statewide office, very little money is flowing into the account — $685 from January through June, to be exact.

In Alabama, only "traditional marriage" couples can have "traditional wills"

Alabama pols have a history of pulling strings from behind women's skirts. Term-limited race-baiting Governor George Wallace elected his wife, Lurleen, to his third term, for example.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore set his second wife, Kayla, up as administrator of his personal PAC, the Foundation for Moral Law, to do the sort of extra-judicial political stuff that got him ousted as chief justice over a decade ago.

From Joe.My.God, here's the sort of work Kayla Moore funds for her constituency of one:

Let Dead Son's Husband Have His Estate

Remember Patricia Fancher, the evil Alabama mother who hired the Foundation For Moral Law to petition SCOTUS to keep her former son-in-law, Paul Hard, from inheriting his dead husband's estate? Despite the Obergefell ruling, she is still fighting. From the FML's executive director Matthew Kidd:
"The issue is not whether someone may marry a member of the same sex today. The issue is whether a court may or should look back four years and recognize a marriage that was not legally valid. Of course, if the marriage is recognized it will only cause further economic harm to a family which has already lost one its own. And if recognized, this man will be awarded an entire spousal share of the wrongful death proceeds which would be unjust even under normal circumstances considering the two were 'married' less than 3 months."
From FML president Kayla Moore, wife of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore:
"It is outrageous that five unelected lawyers on the U.S. Supreme Court think they can invalidate a constitutional amendment adopted by 81% of Alabama voters in 2006, on the flimsy ground that violates a so-called 'right' found nowhere in the Constitution. It adds insult to injury to contend that this so-called 'right' should be applied retroactively to matters that should have been settled long ago."
Back in November 2014 the Social Security Administration advised Paul Hard that since he and his late husband were not married "under the laws of Alabama," he is not eligible for federal death benefits. In February 2015, when same-sex marriage first became legal in Alabama, Paul Hard was granted an amended death certificate declaring him to have been the legal spouse of his late husband. That's when Hard's evil former mother-in-law employed the FML in an attempt to thwart Hard's receipt of his share of the settlement in a wrongful death suit filed following his late husband's car accident. According to yesterday's press release, the FML is now claiming that Obergefell does not retroactively apply to unsettled legal actions. Not incidentally, the FML openly advocates for replacing the government of the United States with a Christian theocracy ruled by "biblical law."

A good man

A presidential candidate complains the incumbent president should be faulted for using big words; his brother's minions attacked his opponents as being elitists, and even "French."

Attacking higher education is de rigueur among the Ivy-educated contenders of 2016. One authentic thing about Governor Scott Walker is that, in college, he blow off his classes to run for student association president; defeated, he blew off his degree to run for the Wisconsin state senate.

Anti-intellectualism is a strain of American political strategy going back to the earliest days of the Republic. The phrase "bunkum," shortened to "bunk" sprang from a cant-filled speech by North Carolina Congresscritter Felix Walker around 1820, the inanities of which he defended by saying, "I'm from Buncombe, I have to speak for my people."

Still, sometimes American has benefitted from the service of men of the mind. One of the better presidents America never had, Adlai Stevenson, died fifty years ago July 14. American had two chances to elect him. At a rally during one of those doomed campaigns, a man in the crowd shouted, "Governor, all thinking Americans are voting for you!"

Stevenson beamed, then replied,"That's not enough, I need a majority."

Adlai Stevenson II (1900-1965)
Governor of Illinois
Democratic nominee for President, 1952, 1956
US Ambassador to the United Nations

Aaron and Melissa Klein, of Sweet Cakes by Melissa fame, are around 60% of Memories' Pizza epic hate beg total

Sweet Cakes by Melissa, whose owners claim to be the victims of those they have attacked, has now raised close to $500,000 in the name of violating antidiscrimination laws. Continue to has raised $372,000 for them; they got $109,000 more from; and Fraklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse is sitting on a secret stash of undisclosed size.

Jeb! 2016: Everything changes, nothing changes

In an exquisite bit of ideological cheeseparing, Jeb Bush says wedding goods sellers like Barronnelle Stutzman should have to sell to gay couples, but shouldn't have to attend the event for any setup.

He also says housing and employment discrimination is wrong, but leaves it up to the states to find it in the goodness of their hearts to make it so.

It's a sort of Gay Missouri Compromise: states can keep their peculiar institutions of discrimination, now called "religious freedom restoration." Others can embrace freedom.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


The other day Waldo predicted the Major League Baseball shortlist of possible expansion cities will trigger a new wave of corporate welfare begs to get stadium-worthy.

The Kingdome demolition, March 2000. It took another fifteen years to finish paying it off. In 2002 the Seattle Seahawks opened CenturyLink Field, for which taxpayers are carrying $300 million of the $460 million cost, on the site. Next door is the Seattle Mariners' $517 million Safeco Field, which opened in 1999.

Now comes The Stranger, out of Seattle, piling on John Oliver's HBO takedown of stadiinsanity with some reminders how Seattle and King County paid off the long-leveled Kingdome just this year, has a WNBA team keeping the Seattle Center arena the Sonics abandoned to move to secesh-flag waving, Pride-flag target-shooting Oklahoma, looking marginally busy, and from those fiascos finally learned its lesson when it comes to new facilities and upgrades.

And in Wisconsin, where Scott Walker is finishing up his carpet-bombing of the state's education system- money is tight, he says, so make do with $300 million less- the legislature that jumps when he says "UP!" has just passed a new stadium swag bag worth $250 million.

Bright ideas ain't always smart ones

The O'Connors of Memories Pizza; Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene's Flowers; Aaron & Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa: these five people have soaked up $1.45 million+ this year to cover claims of damages and losses that are less than 10% of that. 

Jeremy Hooper of Good As You makes a telling point about these snake oil peddlers and the nostrums they sell:

First and foremost is the fact that it changes nothing. These pro-discrimination business owners can each raise a billion dollars, and it won't make one dent in any law or policy or ordinance that protects LGBT customers from unfair business practices. Not one deciding body or judge who put accuracy above activism would allow himself or herself to be swayed by the fact that the guilty parties can find enough like-minds to pay off their legal bills (and car loans and mortgage and...). Just like so much of what the anti-LGBT movement is doing these days, these crowdfunding efforts do little more than make themselves feel better about their cause. Which is fine, if that is the purpose. But if their aim is to change policies with which they disagree, then this is about as effective as setting the cash on fire and making s'mores. Far less delicious, too.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We can always put out more

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Wednesday likened controversy over the court's decision to allow gay marriage to public reaction over the 1989 ruling that said burning an American flag was protected free speech.
Kennedy, who was the deciding vote in both cases, described how the reaction decades ago was critical at first but changed over time.
His remarks at the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference were his first public comments since he wrote the decision last month that put an end to same-sex marriage bans in 14 states. Kennedy drew the comparison in response to a moderator's question about how justices weather reaction to closely watched rulings.
"Eighty senators went to the floor of the Senate to denounce the court," he said of the 1989 ruling. "President Bush took the week off and visited flag factories, but I noticed that after two or three months people began thinking about the issues."

And the Scouts' Secret Files protected the leaders

The MoonWalker riffs another gaffe with the classic, catchall, word salad ending:
Scott Walker stumbled over his own prior comments Wednesday, saying that when he called on the Boy Scouts to reinstate a ban on gay leaders because it “protected children,” he meant the ban protected them from media scrutiny. 
“The protection was not a physical protection,” Walker said Wednesday at an event in South Carolina, according to The New York Times. 
Rather, the Wisconsin governor continued, he was referring to “protecting them from being involved in the very thing you’re talking about right now, the political and media discussion about it, instead of just focusing on what Scouts is about, which is about camping and citizenship and things of that nature.”
Read more:

"He spoke to me."

God has another word or two for Scott Walker:

Sometimes, just isn't enough

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has donned his rags and settled on a prime Wall Street corner with a very large cup labeled "$1 Billion," while handing out leaflets listing nine cities MLB thinks could host an expansion team: Montreal; San Antonio; Portland; Las Vegas; Oklahoma City; northern new Jersey; Mexico City, and Monterrey.

You have to start early these days; Manfred says Montreal, one-time home of the Expos, is a prime contender for a sequel team, but....tsk, tsk, that dingy old Olympic Stadium. It just won't do: "[I]t's a long ways from two exhibition games to 81 home games in a facility that is consistent with major league standards."

Raising the political and business steam to foist a new, billion dollar stadium on any city takes some doing, even though most of them are the sort of places where they never saw a pro sports welfare scheme they couldn't slather enough lipstick on to build out at public expense.

If Montreal is the front-runner, Mexico City, Monterrey and San Antone are surely sops to ward off the inevitable collision between demographic change and anti-Mexican animus in the US.  If Oklahoma City wants a team, they can poach an existing one faster than waiting for an expansion slot; it worked when they pinched the Seattle Supersonics.

Northern New Jersey? Fuggeddabout it. Although Chris Christie, who governs the state from various upstate corporate sky boxes, will surely jump, if barely discernible- for joy at the prospect of a new one on whose builders and owners he can shower favors.

Vegas? Baseball is too slow. Unless there's video gambling at every seat, no one will go.

Portland? If Paul Allen says he'll front the money, it may fly. But then the taxpayers' and seat license season ticket holders' money will fly back to him forever.

Which leaves Charlotte. With new basketball, football and minor league baseball arenas uptown, surely there's another neighborhood or two that can be leveled.

It's just a coincidence.

North Carolina's on trial in federal court again.

As Charlie Pierce notes, it's like when South Carolina used enforcement of civil rights to run up the Confederate battle flag: as soon as the Supreme Court freed the Old North State from getting approval of changes to its voting rights laws, the Art Pope legislature went after them with a vengeance.

Safe districts, and rich donors, do not for independent thinking make

National Journal reports on the latest news of the GOP split:
Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers estimated that some 100 Republicans would have voted against his Interior spending bill had it moved forward with an amendment banning the Confederate flag in national cemeteries. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy met with civil-rights icon Rep. John Lewis last week, but it remains unclear how the parties reconcile the desire of some Republicans to protect the rights of their constituents to adorn graves with the Confederate flag with the desire of Democrats to entirely banish what they see as a symbol of hatred and racism.
Rep. Curt Clawson was the only Republican to vote with Democrats last week on the Confederate flag issue. He said his vote was informed by his time playing college basketball with African-Americans, in addition to his other friends and family members of color.
"If we want to get those kinds of folks in the next election we have to show that we're not afraid of social topics and racial topics," Clawson said. "Will there be tough days when we finally decide to cross the Rubicon? Of course. But the sooner we do it, the quicker we get it behind us, and it shows that we are a more welcoming party."

Go for the Gold, Sweet Cakes!

Waldo's feeling celebratory, what with the news that Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Oregon martyr-bakers, have reached a new high in their anti-equality profiteering.

As we reported yesterday, the Kleins, who are busy spreading the lie that they have been subject to a gag order along with the truth of their $135,000 judgment for violating Oregon law, have reached 55% of the high-water mark for antigay crowdfunding. They have a confirmed $461,000 from two online money begs, plus whatever Franklin Graham has raised for them at Samaritan's Purse. They won't say how much that it.

Curious thing, that- how all these opportunities seem to keep a card hidden up their sleeve. Barronelle Stutzman, the martyr-florist of Richland, WA, has raised over a quarter mil online, but won't say how much she got from the record-setting Memories Pizza crowdbeg of $842,000- whose winners said they were giving some of to her.

Although the Kleins have subbed out their marketing efforts to the once-respected Heritage Foundation, here's an idea, just because:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Did you bring the charger?"

Will we all drive electric cars shortly because the filling stations will go away? A Marginal Revolutionist thinks not:

The Electric Vehicle Tipping Point?

by  on July 14, 2015 at 7:25 am in Economics | Permalink
Geoff Ralston, a partner at Y Combinator, argues that electric cars will soon dominate the world. He gives several arguments regarding cost and convenience that I take no issue with but his most interesting argument strikes me as wrong:
Gas stations are not massively profitable businesses. When 10% of the vehicles on the road are electric many of them will go out of business.  This will immediately make driving a gasoline powered car more inconvenient.  When that happens even more gasoline car owners will be convinced to switch and so on.  Rapidly a tipping point will be reached, at which point finding a convenient gas station will be nearly impossible and owning a gasoline powered car will positively suck.  Then, there will be a rush to electric cars….
Why is this wrong? Consider that in 2009 there were 246 million motor vehicles registered in the United States. A 10% reduction would be 221 million vehicles but that is how many vehicles there were in 2000. Was driving an automobile so much more inconvenient in 2000 than it was in 2009? No. Even a 25% fall in gas vehicles would bring us back only to the number of vehicles circa 1998.
More fundamentally, the argument goes wrong by not thinking through the incentives. Suppose that gasoline stations did become so uncommon that finding one was inconvenient. What will happen? More gasoline stations will be built! Ralston has implicitly assumed that building gasoline stations will add so much to the price of gasoline as to render that option uneconomic. In fact, gasoline stations are relatively simple, small businesses that easily expand or contract in response to the pennies on a gallon that people are willing to pay for convenience.
Addendum: By the way, even though the number of vehicles in the United States has been increasing, the number of gasoline stations has actually been decreasing, largely because greater fuel efficiency means that we want fewer stations.
Hat tip: Vlad Tarko.
- See more at:

Spencer Tunick says, "Been there, done that."

Kenyan anti-gay groups are calling for massed naked demonstrations against President Obama's visit, given his support of equality over criminalization, shaming, and mob violence.

They say they want to show the President the difference between a man and a woman.

Of course, in the civilized world, that is called art:

The wages of sin are up 237% this week

Aaron and Melissa Klein, who have been boo-hooing their way through conservative media outlets and for the once-respected Heritage Foundation's propaganda arm, claiming they will be ruined by a $135,000 judgment for violating Oregon's antidiscrimination law, are far from broke.

In addition to the free legal services they have gotten from a phalanx of lawyers who believe equal justice under law is a joke, the Kleins have run three major money begs over the Internets this year.

The first, on, netted them $109,000 before the company decided not to facilitate profiting from violating the law.

Then Farnklin Graham's international relief agency, Samaritan's Purse, leapt into the gap, raising even more. The Kleins have ignored repeated questions from Waldo about how much that has raised.

Then the Kleins launched a third beg on the Continue to Give site. Latest reports from the cheerleading Washington Times paper say the Kleins have now raised $352,000 there. They have exceeded their $150,000 goal by 237%.

That's upwards of $461,000 the Kleins have made off their multiyear media campaign to vilify the lesbian couple they called an abomination when they rejected their attempt to buy a wedding cake, including attacking them in endless speeches and interviews, and making the publicity-shy couple's address public.