Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Hot, Humid Sunday

Yesterday my wife and son went to the bank less than a mile from here, and it was raining like crazy there, but we didn't get a drop here at the house -- isn't that weird? You can almost throw a rock from here to there. In these stifling summer days we have little storm-cells that pass from left to right across the map, some people get rain and thunder and lightning and some don't. Sometimes you can see the storm on the horizon, hear the thunder, and it just passes by. Right now it's hazy out there, and I haven't been out but I just know what it's like. Think I'll stay in and have a cup of coffee before I get the paper.

A couple of things in the news this week jumped out at me. One was the deal that the government made with the guy they suspected of mailing anthrax to people a few years back.
The U.S. Justice Department agreed to a $5.8 million settlement with scientist Steven Hatfill, ending his lawsuit that claimed the government improperly identified him as a suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

As part of the deal, the agency will pay Hatfill a $2.8 million lump sum and will purchase an annuity that will provide him $3 million through 20 annual payments of $150,000. Hatfill Lawsuit Settled by U.S. for $5.8 Million

Yes, they improperly identified him as a suspect, and they hassled the poor guy to death.

Remember -- somebody sent anthrax to some people in 2001, it all happened in the fog of confusion following 9/11 when we thought America was swarming with terrorists. Anthrax powder got sent to some journalists' and Senators' offices, and a package broke open in the Brentwood post office; five people were killed altogether and another seventeen were infected with it but survived. Hatfill had worked for government "biomedical" laboratories, and he definitely had some shady stuff in his background, but rather than investigate him as a regular suspect, the FBI decided to make a big publicity stunt out of it all. They invited journalists along when they searched his house, for instance.

To give you an idea what this guy's life was like -- he was parked on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown and the FBI had their van parked right behind him. He got out of his car and was going to take a picture of them, and as they took off they ran right over his foot! The DC cops came and he ended up with a a ticket for "walking to create a hazard" on Wisconsin Avenue. If that isn't being hassled ...

So this week, he and his lawyers quietly closed the case. He will now be receiving nice checks, courtesy of the taxpayer (that's you). I don't know if he mailed the anthrax or not, but this is a perfect example of the deterioration of our sense of justice. In the US we have laws that regulate how the government can investigate a crime and pursue a suspect. They have to gather evidence and build a case, decide whether to charge the person, then there is a trial where the evidence is presented and finally a judgment is offered. You know, I shouldn't have to say this, it should just be what we do. But somebody at the top of the federal government decided along the way that we don't need any of that -- harassment, torture, and interminable confinement should be good enough. Now, finally, at least in the this case the arc of justice is beginning to bend back, and the FBI is going to pay the guy a lot of money.

This reminds me of the case of Richard Jewel, remember him? Somebody set off a pipe bomb at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. Jewel saw a suspicious backpack, cleared the area, saved lives, and the FBI harassed him mercilessly. I can remember seeing live TV shots of his apartment all lit up, swarming with FBI guys trying to find evidence that Jewel was actually the bomber. Another guy, Eric Rudolph, later confessed. Turns out Jewel was a hero, not a terrorist, he was just a security guard doing his job and in the end he sued every newspaper and television network that had said he was the bomber, bringing in a pretty penny.

Again, there is a process, and it works. You think the guy committed a crime, charge him. By all means, investigate, find the bad guys, catch them, bring them to trial. There is nothing like "coddling criminals" in either of these situations. The fact is, we have a criminal justice system that works. Maybe sometimes somebody gets away, and maybe sometimes somebody gets charged wrongfully, but a balance has been found in American justice between protecting citizens' rights and maintaining order. Harassing people and denying them representation doesn't make it any more likely that they are guilty. There is plenty the FBI can do to investigate somebody, and they should do all of it, but the press plays no part in it, hassling people isn't part of it. Invite the journalists to the courthouse, not to the suspect's house when you're searching it. Announce the verdict to them at the end of the trial, don't tell them before you've even charged the guy.

I can't say I like the idea that we're going to pay Steven Hatfill a nice pension for life, but I really don't like my tax money to be subsidizing a federal government that hassles people without having any evidence on them either.

Another thing in the news suffers by having the most boring name ever: FISA. The federal government can listen to your phone calls without a warrant for 72 hours, if they think you're a terrorist and they don't have time to get a warrant. Okay, I think that probably sounds fair to most of us, there is some oversight by the courts and some accountability, in the end if it turns out to be a false alarm they have to throw out the information they gathered.

But for several years the federal government was just listening to everybody, you and me, everybody. They went to the phone companies, asked them to let them listen in, and a number of the big telephone companies did give them access to people's phone calls. They weren't supposed to do that. It is against the law to do that. You aren't suspected of terrorism, are you? Why are they listening to you then?

This week Congress debated what they call a "compromise," and it looks like it's going to pass. The new FISA bill will give the phone companies immunity for giving away our privacy. There is some wording in there that says it's okay to break the law if the government asks you to. I really don't like the sound of that, and lots of other people don't either.

I know, nobody really cares. So the government listens to your phone calls -- you've got nothing to hide, right? What if they caught everybody who ever did anything wrong? If they listen to enough phone calls, they could do it. They could catch kids planning pranks, adulterers, maybe you call somebody when you're stoned or you admit running a red light to somebody. It isn't me, my life is so boring they can watch me every second of the day without catching me at anything, but I think people need to have privacy when they talk to each other, it's just part of being free. Just a second, cussing isn't against the law, is it? Okay, I still don't want them listening to my phone calls.

(Man, some soprano is singing the Lord's Prayer on WPFW -- this is goose-bump stuff!)

In other news that came out this week, HIV rates have gone up in young gay males, especially blacks. The Post:
The number of young homosexual men being newly diagnosed with HIV infection is rising by 12 percent a year, with the steepest upward trend in young black men, according to a new report.

The double-digit increase in young gay men is about 10 times higher than in the homosexual community overall, where the number of new infections is going up about 1.5 percent a year.

The report, released yesterday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appears to confirm impressions that a "second-wave" AIDS epidemic is underway in gay America. HIV Rate Up 12 Percent Among Young Gay Men

I'm pretty sure I can predict how the nuts will play this, whatever, there is a serious epidemic in our community and we need to fight it with education and good practices.

There was one aspect of this that jumped out at me:
Previous studies have found that gay black men on average have fewer sex partners, are less likely to use drugs and are no more likely to have unprotected intercourse than gay white men. Consequently, their higher rate of infection does not appear to arise from riskier behavior.

Instead, it reflects the higher prevalence of HIV -- as well as syphilis and gonorrhea, which increase a person's susceptibility to HIV -- in the black population.

Some people would like to argue that anal sex is a risky behavior that increases your probability of getting HIV/AIDS -- but anal sex with an uninfected person is no risk at all. Some people would argue that "homosexual sex" is dangerous, but in fact "homosexual sex" with an uninfected partner is no riskier than any other kind of sex. This seems obvious but it is important: you risk getting HIV when you have any kind of sex with an HIV-infected person, and you do not risk getting it if you have any kind of sex with someone who doesn't carry the virus.

These warnings about gay sex and anal intercourse only make sense if you assume a person is having sex with strangers. In that case, you don't really know the HIV status of your partner and the laws of probability come into play: it's Russian roulette. This goes for women as well as men, white as well as black, straight as well as gay. Indiscriminate promiscuity equals risk.

In America, the black population has been hit with HIV harder than the rest of us -- the HIV rate for black women, for instance, is twelve times higher than for white women. A CDC web site says, "Of the estimated 18,849 people under the age of 25 whose diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was made during 2001–2004 in the 33 states with HIV reporting, 11,554 (61%) were black " So even though black gay men are more careful than whites, the probabiliity that a new partner is infected is higher. The real problem is that this is also a population that is less likely to have access to medical services, including testing.

The point is that it is not promiscuity that causes the increase in the statistics, but simply the fact that there is a higher probability of a partner being HIV-positive. This is a nasty trap. Well, we know our bigoted friends are going to use this information to "prove" that gay people are disgusting, and it won't bother them if black people look bad at the same time.

I guess the Big News this week had to do with guns. The Supreme Court ruled that people in DC can have guns in their homes for self-defense and hunting, even loaded ones. A couple of people came by to talk to me after the ruling was announced, as if suddenly Washington DC is going become dangerous.

I was in China a year or two ago, and my translators and I went through a rough-looking neighborhood. I said, "Is it safe to walk here?" They just laughed. They said, "Nobody has a gun, they're illegal here. You might be careful of pickpockets though." That's just how it is, where guns are outlawed even outlaws don't have guns. Sometimes I go to Europe, and the people there are absolutely baffled by American gun violence. I have tried to explain about the Constitution, I tell them there is just no way people are going to give up their guns. They look at me like I'm insane, oh well, we are a strange country in some ways, aren't we!

Oh - how about Louisianna and their "academic freedom" idea! This is just great. They passed a bill down there, the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), to ensure what they call "academic freedom." Ars Technica explains it:
The text of the LSEA suggests that it's intended to foster critical thinking, calling on the state Board of Education to "assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories." Unfortunately, it's remarkably selective in its suggestion of topics that need critical thinking, as it cites scientific subjects "including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."

Love the way they twist freedom around to mean the freedom to teach kids stupid things. I mean, there's enough irony there to hang a magnet on. Just watch for a new group in our county: Citizens for a Responsible Academic Freedom.

On more thing, this was kind of nice. Adam at Maryland Politics Watch has been reviewing Maryland political blogs. They got web statistics for several of the bigger sites, but not for us. Well, he could have emailed me, I would've sent him some numbers -- actually, after I saw this I did send him out server stats. But it is interesting to see how they see us there:
One blog for which we do not have data is Jim Kennedy’s Vigilance blog. Kennedy is President of Montgomery County’s Teach the Facts group, which advocates for a liberal, open curriculum on gender identity issues in the county’s schools. Kennedy acts as a patient ringmaster in the Chuck Barris mold while dozens of mostly anonymous liberals and conservatives battle it out on everything from nature vs. nurture to the origins of religion. MPW friend Dana Beyer even made news there by announcing her 2010 candidacy for District 18 delegate against a crowded forum of hostile anons. Vigilance must get tons of visits judging from its comment counts but Kennedy seldom strays into non-gender issues.

Chuck Barris? Uh, okay, I guess I do feel like this is the Gong Show at times. I have gonged a couple of Anons over the years. And actually, I do feel like a "patient ringmaster" at times. People are always telling me to ban this or that troll, and it is tempting, but I've only had to do it once, the one we called "Illiterate Anon" was just unacceptable, all the time. Oh, I've deleted a lot of comments, there is one guy these days who just doesn't understand the concept of civility, but generally he does us a service by demonstrating just what it is we're up against. I'd have to say it's kind of fun being the patient ringmaster, I post something here and people comment and the issues really do get debated thoroughly. Every comment comes into my email but I don't read every word of it unless something catches my eye. It's also interesting to see the server stats for some of the other blogs. If I'm reading these right, we get a few more visitors than any of the liberal blogs the MPW has reviewed.

I went outside a little while ago to take some pictures, and man it is humid! It's a good day to stay indoors. Of course, having said that, I am going to get my keys and go do some honey-do stuff.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And then there was this news too:

"Scientific Assessment Captures Effects of a Changing Climate on Extreme Weather Events in North America
June 19, 2008

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)
The U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research today released a scientific assessment that provides the first comprehensive analysis of observed and projected changes in weather and climate extremes in North America and U.S. territories. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change previously evaluated extreme weather and climate events on a global basis in this same context. However, there has not been a specific assessment across North America prior to this report.

Among the major findings reported in this assessment are that droughts, heavy downpours, excessive heat, and intense hurricanes are likely to become more commonplace as humans continue to increase the atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The report is based on scientific evidence that a warming world will be accompanied by changes in the intensity, duration, frequency, and geographic extent of weather and climate extremes."

Continues at

Think of how much farther along we'd be on solving this problem had President Gore taken his rightful place as the leader of the free world in 2000. For 8 miserable years Bush has acted like the lousy leader we all know him to be, one who fiddles while the environment burns, floods, and blows away.

June 29, 2008 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I went to a restaurant in Arlington today for crabs, the sort of place where they dump the crabs on the table and you eat them with your hands.

They had two (dumpy) one-person bathrooms. On one of the doors was a big sign (created recently on someone's printer) that said "NO MEN IN THE LADIES' ROOM." Below that was the same message in Spanish.

I didn't get the chance to ask, but what was up with this? I've seen "One person in the bathroom at a time" signs, but never this one.

For some reason, it made me think of anonymous and CRG.

On another note, I read the part of Jim's post about rates of new HIV infection. The government (CDC et. al.) gather HIV and AIDS stats on a number of dimensions, including race, gender, age, and whether people are what they term MSMs (men who have sex with men; they don't use sexual orientation as a parameter) and transgender.

What I haven't seen, and what I suspect would be truly interesting, are parameters around poverty and income level. I do know, just from looking at epidemiological maps, is that HIV and AIDS in Virginia correlate at least loosely with pockets of poverty.

I personally could care less about what anonymous or CRG have to say regarding what these stats say about the relative morality of gay people, and other claptrap such as that. HIV infection is a genuine health issue for a variety of commuhities, and our task, as humane people, becomes examining what we can do about it, not making political (or blogtroll) hay out of other people's problems.


June 29, 2008 6:01 PM  
Blogger Emproph said...

Re the Louisiana Science Education Act:

"Lining up to promote the bill were a coalition of religious organizations and Seattle's pro-Intelligent Design think tank, the Discovery Institute. According to the Louisiana Science Coalition, Discovery fellows helped write the bill and arranged for testimony in its favor in the legislature."
Here's what the judge from the Dover trial had to say about Intelligent Design:

"The goal of the ID movement is to foment a revolution

Intelligent design, as noted, is grounded in theology, not science. Accepting for the sake of argument its proponents' as well as Defendants' argument that to introduce intelligent design to students will encourage critical thinking, it still has utterly no place in a science curriculum. Moreover, intelligent design's backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not intelligent design itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the intelligent-design movement is not to encourage critical thought but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with intelligent design."
Same dominionist thugs attempting to indoctrinate kids into their supremacist "theology" - by hook or by crook.

June 30, 2008 6:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Kennedy acts as a patient ringmaster in the Chuck Barris mold while dozens of mostly anonymous liberals and conservatives battle it out on everything from nature vs. nurture to the origins of religion."

Quite an illusion, uh, Jim?

June 30, 2008 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the first comprehensive analysis of observed and projected changes in weather and climate"

Seems like these firsts come out every couple of months with global warming. The informaion is dated. Temperatures are own this year and skyrocketing oil prices are likely to cut greenhouse gases without any governemental intervention.

Al Gore? If he was President we probably would have had our second amendment rights taken away by now.

June 30, 2008 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Again, there is a process, and it works."

Indeed, it did. The government, which is comprised of human beings, stepped over the line. They aren't bad people, they were just a little zealous- kind of like you when you adulate the scientific method and fail to appreciate the evil caused by science unrestrained by ethical concerns in the past. Everyone kind of takes their own occupation a little too seriously. It's actually better than the alternative.

The victim was compensated. Nothing new. Whenever, a victim has the financial resources to afford legal counsel, they will generally achieve justice in the U.S.. Too bad that there is the financial component but it is certainly preferable to the situation in most of the world. Hatfill seems to be better off now than he would have been had the government not harassed him. Find a case where that isn't true and you'll have a worthy blog post.

"Man, some soprano is singing the Lord's Prayer on WPFW -- this is goose-bump stuff!"

Could you explain why that gives you goosebumps?

"I'm pretty sure I can predict how the nuts will play this, whatever,"

Oh yeah, the "nuts" will actually try to apply the data to reality and the "sane" gay people will say, you know what, that's just a coincidence.

Jim, I've told you before that there is tendency among young gays to reject the need for safe practices. It's not that they lack knowledge, they just believe that sex without condoms is more pleasurable and they think that is worth the risks. The government has spent billions trying to teach them about how nature works and how to do these things safely but it will never be effective because homosexuality is inherently a rejection of the natural.

It's obvious that the natural state of man is heterosexuality. Male and female bodies and minds are designed to be complementary but gays have rejected nature.

By the same token, when it's obvious that exchanging bodily fluids with numerous partners puts one at risk, they reject any consideration of the natural consequences. For them, nature is the "man" they struggle against. Their deviant passion is impervious to education or counsel.

That's the facts!

June 30, 2008 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Love the way they twist freedom around to mean the freedom to teach kids stupid things."

Funny, academic freedom used to mean the freedom to question and critically examine even commonly accepted theories. Now, liberals tell us, that doesn't apply to theories of evolution and global warming. Those are sacred principles, part of atheist doctrine.

June 30, 2008 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Oh, I've deleted a lot of comments, there is one guy these days who just doesn't understand the concept of civility"

I didn't know Derrick and Emslob were the same person as Andrea!

June 30, 2008 12:21 PM  
Blogger Emproph said...

"evolution [...], part of atheist doctrine."

Pants on fire!

"Evolutionary theory is not antithetical to religion

Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of intelligent design make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs' scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator."
And for the record, personally, I believe in an intelligently designed system of evolution.

Creationism/ID supposes that the design of 'survival of the fittest' was the result of the "fall from grace."

Which is absurd, it's completely out of order.

The whole purpose of 'survival of the fittest' was to foster the development of the human species.

I would think that a God who knows everything would know that.

After all, intelligence is the ability to understand the order of importance.

June 30, 2008 12:59 PM  
Blogger Emproph said...

"I didn't know Derrick and Emslob were the same person as Andrea!"

~~ It’s true anon, we’re all one ~~ come join us ~~

June 30, 2008 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Due to lightning storms, there are roughly 1,000 fires burning in California right now and in the midwest folks are trying to clean up after multiple storms led to multiple levee breaks up and down the Mississippi River and to the historic, 500 year record breaking flooding in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Catastrophes like these were predicted by scientists based on decades of careful data analysis. Go hang all your hopes on one average annual temperature and ignore the open seas in the Arctic and all these disasters here at home, as well as those around the world.

When the Artic ice is all gone and all the carbon currently trapped in the former permafrost is released to the atmosphere, this summer's weather-related damages will seem like a picnic. Keep pretending these facts do not exist just like you always do, with your head firmly planted in the sand and yourself unaccountable for the comments you make ("it wasn't me, it was some other Anon").

This article in today's Salon is informative. Global warming isn't about politics, it's about survival for all of us. We need a leader who acts based on scientifically sound facts, not what his biggest campaign contributors' claim.

Anti-science conservatives must be stopped
Americans must not allow global warming deniers to block the policies needed to avert catastrophic climate change. Our future is at stake.
By Joseph Romm

Jun. 30, 2008 |Conservatives put on a spectacular display of scientific ignorance this month in the U.S. Senate. During the debate on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, which would regulate carbon dioxide by setting a cap on emissions and allowing emitters to trade carbon allowances, most Republican senators questioned the reality of human-caused climate change or ignored the climate threat entirely and repeated the talking point that the bill would raise gasoline and electricity prices. It was as if they had been locked in an isolation booth for the past decade. Let's go to the highlights.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.: "The vast majority of scientists do not believe that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are a major contributor to climate change."

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.: This bill means "people must turn off air-conditioning in the summer."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.: "This bill will attack citizens at the pump" and "increase job losses."

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.: This bill will "leave us less competitive in the world marketplace."

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.: This bill "could bankrupt U.S. air carriers."

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo.: "Nobody in their right mind" believes we can get half our power from wind and solar or drive a "fleet of golf carts."

Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo.: "It's unclear as to what the long-range trend is as far as the temperature of the Earth is concerned."

Conservatives sure are good at staying on message, even one that has no basis in fact. None of their scientific or technological claims is true and most of the economic claims are a wild exaggeration based on studies funded by fossil fuel companies. This may be a defining moment for humanity according to the world's increasingly desperate climate scientists, but to many conservatives it's apparently just another moment to score political points at the expense of future generations.

It's a terrifying thought. If the science of the last few years and the painful reality of a changing climate haven't persuaded the conservative movement of the dire nature of human-caused global warming, I can't imagine what chain of catastrophes would. We've already had record-breaking droughts, heat waves, wildfires, deluges, super storms and flooding at home and abroad -- just as climate science predicted. And we've had far more loss of ice from Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic Sea than anyone expected.

A National Journal poll in June found that only 26 percent of GOP Congress members believe "it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the earth is warming because of man-made pollution." That matches their constituents -- only 27 percent of Republicans say the earth is warming because of human activity. Needless to say, if you don't believe humans are the cause of global warming, you're not going to believe that humans are the solution to global warming...

June 30, 2008 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The theory of evolution can be compatible with creationism, em.

It becomes a religion when it is considered beyond question and immune to criticism as atheists like Dawkins suggest.

In Louisiana, their terrific governor supports combatting pressure from atheist religious groups by specifically mentioning that evolution is as open to criticism as any other scientific theory. Jim, for some reason, has a problem with not pushing atheist doctrine in school. The public schools shouldn't be favoring atheism over other religious theories.

June 30, 2008 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It [evolution] becomes a religion

What a stupid thing to say! Nobody worships and prays to the "survival of the fittest."

June 30, 2008 1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, many religions don't have a personal god that is prayed to

there are indeed those who worship the concept of evolution

June 30, 2008 1:47 PM  
Blogger Emproph said...

"Nobody worships and prays to the "survival of the fittest.""

Come to think of it, anonymous an ilk do. "survival of the fittest" is the basis behind supremacist theology.

Except that in addition to being born with this survival mechanism (as humans), "Christians" like him feel that a God of love actually had to come down from infinity to tell them to feel better than everone else.

June 30, 2008 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
"I am the eggman
they are the eggmen
I am the walrus"

But anon is still a sad pitiful thing.

June 30, 2008 2:57 PM  
Blogger Emproph said...

Yes, but he's our sad pitiful thing...

June 30, 2008 3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, she's talking to herself.

You had me fooled, Andrea.

You crazy rainpeople!a

June 30, 2008 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are indeed those who worship the concept of evolution

Really? Do tell us about the adherents of the Church of Evolution. Where do they hold their services? Which day of the week is their sabbath? How many commandments do they follow? If they evolve and lead good lives, what happens to them when they die?

June 30, 2008 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you even understand what worship is?

June 30, 2008 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Supreme Court ruled that people in DC can have guns in their homes for self-defense and hunting, even loaded ones. A couple of people came by to talk to me after the ruling was announced, as if suddenly Washington DC is going become dangerous."

Could you imagine that? Anacostia suddenly becomes dangerous. Well, I've got a good idea: let's not tell anyone that guns are now legal. Most people have never seen a gun in DC anyway since they're illegal. We won't tell everyone about them.

Southeast DC, it's a tranquil Shrangr-i-la and I'll be darned if I'm going to let a bunch of Republican Supreme Court judges mess it up!

"I was in China a year or two ago, and my translators and I went through a rough-looking neighborhood. I said, "Is it safe to walk here?" They just laughed. They said, "Nobody has a gun, they're illegal here."

See. That's how it is in Southeast DC. We just laugh when people ask if it's safe. I mean, do they know guns are illegal here.


"You might be careful of pickpockets though." That's just how it is, where guns are outlawed even outlaws don't have guns."

You're right about that. All those drug dealers shooting people in DC are just a story made up by the media. There is no proof any outlaw in DC has ever had a gun since they were outlawed over thirty years ago.

We took care of those outlaws then and there.

We just told 'em: you can't have guns anymore. They're illegal.

That scared the heck outta them!

Thus has worked so well, we oughta take it global. If the U.N. would just outlaw guns worldwide, that would be the end of al-qaeda.

June 30, 2008 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know: let's make it illegal for gays to not use a condom.

Then, they'll have to use them.

Voila! No AIDS.

June 30, 2008 5:43 PM  
Blogger Emproph said...

"Anonymous said..."
"Imagine - if you can - not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.

And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools.

Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless.

You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience, that they seldom even guess at your condition.

In other words, you are completely free of internal restraints, and your unhampered liberty to do just as you please, with no pangs of conscience, is conveniently invisible to the world.

You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences will most likely remain undiscovered.

How will you live your life?

What will you do with your huge and secret advantage, and with the corresponding handicap of other people (conscience)?

The answer will depend largely on just what your desires happen to be, because people are not all the same. Even the profoundly unscrupulous are not all the same. Some people - whether they have a conscience or not - favor the ease of inertia, while others are filled with dreams and wild ambitions. Some human beings are brilliant and talented, some are dull-witted, and most, conscience or not, are somewhere in between. There are violent people and nonviolent ones, individuals who are motivated by blood lust and those who have no such appetites. [...]

Provided you are not forcibly stopped, you can do anything at all.

If you are born at the right time, with some access to family fortune, and you have a special talent for whipping up other people's hatred and sense of deprivation, you can arrange to kill large numbers of unsuspecting people. With enough money, you can accomplish this from far away, and you can sit back safely and watch in satisfaction. [...]

Crazy and frightening - and real, in about 4 percent of the population...."

June 30, 2008 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched the Lehrer show on PBS the night of the 2nd amendment ruling and they were interviewing a D.C. official. She asked him point-blank, if banning guns reduces violence why does D.C., with the strictest gun control in the country have some of the worst violence in the country?

He said: hubba-hubba-hubba-ummmm!

It must be a new Democratic Party mantra or something.

I heard one of Obama's advisors say the same thing to Chris Matthews when he asked him to name one legislative achievement by Obama during his partial Senate term.


June 30, 2008 6:38 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, you might want to look up on this thread and see that no one here has expressed any opinion about the gun-law ruling at all. I don't believe there is a "Democratic Party mantra" on the topic, and if there was one you probably wouldn't read it here. Americans like their guns and claim the right to own them, right or wrong we are different from just about every other country in that regard.

I personally don't have an opinion one way or the other about it, I know plenty of well-armed people but for myself I decided my family was safer without a gun in the house. Sadly, we have lost several neighborhood children to guns, never used in self-defense, so I think I made the right choice, but it's a personal decision, you may decide differently from me. I imagine if you asked the other commenters here, you would find about the same range of opinions you'd find on any street of America.

If you had a sense of shame you would be embarrassed putting words in people's mouths and then making fun of them -- but everyone reading this can see it's your words, nobody else's.


June 30, 2008 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure Anonymous is looking forward to the day when women will be able to carry a Uzi or some such weapon into a rest room or locker room to protect themselves from those pesky transgender women who will be in there, trying to seduce them or rape their daughters. Nothing he/she would like more than to see those damned transgenders or gay people mowed down on the streets by all of those good "Christians".

June 30, 2008 9:56 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

July 01, 2008 4:40 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Robert unceremoniously pointed out the “pinkpistols” page, so I went and visited it, having never been there before.

The first thing that comes to mind is that this is just BEGGING for Weird Al Yankovic ( to do a parody of Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun.” ( The remake of course would be called “Trannie’s Got a Gun.” ;)



July 01, 2008 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

name one legislative achievement by Obama during his partial Senate term

John McCain didn't do much in his first term in the US Senate either, and neither did John F. Kennedy. Few first termer US Senator do. Here's a partial list of Obama's accomplishments during his 8 years as an Illlinois State Senator from the NY Times:

Mr. Obama helped deliver what is said to have been the first significant campaign finance reform law in Illinois in 25 years. He brought law enforcement groups around to back legislation requiring that homicide interrogations be taped and helped bring about passage of the state’s first racial-profiling law. He was a chief sponsor of a law enhancing tax credits for the working poor, played a central role in negotiations over welfare reform and successfully pushed for increasing child care subsidies.

“I learned that if you’re willing to listen to people, it’s possible to bridge a lot of the differences that dominate the national political debate,” Mr. Obama said in an interview on Friday. “I pretty quickly got to form relationships with Republicans, with individuals from rural parts of the state, and we had a lot in common.”

Salon has another interesting article up today, called "Can't Darwin and God get along?" It's an interview with Karl Giberson, professor at Eastern Nazarene College, and director of the Forum on Faith and Science at Gordon College, discussing his book called "Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution." Like Obama, Professor Giberson is looking for common ground between scientists and believers rather than trying to drive a wedge between them.

July 1, 2008 | With biologist Richard Dawkins leading the way, many scientists today are locked in an unending match of whack-a-mole with Christian creationists, who insist that God created heaven, earth and humanity in its present form, and with disciples of intelligent design who want to expel evolution from its scientific prominence in public schools. If you've been following the battle, you might be inclined to believe that Americans are faced with a choice between believing in God and scientific fact.

In his new book, "Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution," Karl Giberson calls this a false choice. A professor of physics at Eastern Nazarene College, and director of the Forum on Faith and Science at Gordon College, Giberson believes in evolutionary theory as adamantly as he does in God. For Giberson, evolution and Christianity are not in competition but complement one another. Holding equal disdain for creationists who read the Bible literally and scientists who disregard God altogether, Giberson seeks a middle way, and attempts to resuscitate Darwin's reputation as both a religious man and a scientist. In conversation, Giberson possesses a boundless inquisitiveness typical of many scientists, but also displays the wry wit of a seasoned polemicist. He seems to know how to counteract your best arguments before you have even made them.

Why does Darwin need to be saved?

He has been vilified in American evangelical culture and even more broadly than that. Yet his important contribution to science reaches into theology and religion, and so it's important to rehabilitate him so that you can't simply call something Darwinist and have people say, "Oooo, that smells bad."

Why do misconceptions about Darwin persist?

Because in the latter part of the 20th century, evolution became identified with negative social agendas, and some very effective polemicists like Henry Morris and Ken Ham convinced people that evolution was responsible for the breakdown of the family and drug abuse and all manners of evil. Christians who tend to see satanic or sinister influences behind those things were only too ready to demonize Darwin and say he had an agenda to destroy their faith. In their eyes, Darwinism destroyed belief in God the creator.

Darwinism became associated with repugnant beliefs like Nazism and eugenics. But as you point out, evolution doesn't make judgments, it merely describes.

Right. There's an important distinction between a theory that tells us the way the world is and a theory that tells us the way it ought to be. In practice, however, we think we should behave by the way we think the world is. That's why there's such an intense debate about homosexuality. Conservatives don't want homosexuality to be perceived as something natural because that would force them to reevaluate the way we treat it from a moral perspective. While it's true that you can't justify eugenics on the basis of Darwin's observations, as soon as genetics was recognized to be as important as it is, people began to realize that genetics could be used to improve the species. This was kind of a natural extension but it's certainly not implied in Darwin's work.

Aren't some people threatened by evolution because they can't reconcile biblical literalism, or "young-earth" creationism, with the fact that the earth is not 10,000 years old but billions?

Yes, but young-earth theory is an interpretation of Genesis that requires that you bring a certain set of suspect assumptions to the text. The early chapters of Genesis do not read like history. They have a different sort of character to them. People who read Hebrew and understand the ancient Near Eastern worldview, and the cosmology that informed it, have given us ample reasons why you would not read Genesis that way, even if you weren't worried about reconciling it with a billion-year-old planet.

Yet Americans do. One poll you cite shows that 51 percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form. You write that the strength of creationism in the U.S. "has more to do with American culture than biology or Christian theology." What is it about our culture that has led to creationism's popularity?

In short, intellectual laziness. We're not prepared to do the hard work to make our culture more sophisticated. We don't drill into our children in Sunday school or church the fact that ancient people thought differently about the world than we do. Even a modest amount of sophistication in biblical interpretation will show that the biblical authors, in both the Old Testament and New Testament, are not writing history.

In the Bible, you read the same events chronicled by different writers, and they put things in different orders or leave things out. If someone is really chronicling events, then events would be lined up in the right order. We know the Civil War comes after the American Revolution. But a biblical author, who thought for some reason that the American Revolution seemed more relevant, might reverse the order. It wouldn't be because he was incompetent historically, it would be because he was presenting these events from an agenda that's not that of a historian.

Many Christians insist the Bible is the literal word of God.

Yes, that's widespread and again it's because of a certain lack of sophistication from a literary point of view. Many people translate "the word of God" into the "words of God." They don't recognize that when you talk theologically about the Bible being the word of God, you mean that it contains an important message, that God is revealing himself through the history of Israel and Jesus Christ. New Testament theology gives us the "Word made flesh in Jesus." But that phrase makes no sense if you're talking about words and sentences. But it does make sense if you're talking about some kind of revelation about the nature of God.

The Bible is correctly understood in Christianity as the Word of God. But it's a distortion to say the Bible contains the words of God as if God had dictated these things. We need to grant that there are differences in the way that biblical authors talked about the world. We can't just pull all of this into the 20th century as if it was just recently written down by God for our benefit...

Unlike Anon and the four other homophobes in MoCo, many of us seek common ground and want to work together to help raise each other up rather than hold each other down; we look for mutual goals we share instead of the differences that separate us.

July 01, 2008 8:18 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Some encouraging news on from the transgender kids’ corner of the world:
(Click on the link for “A Better World for Transgender Children”)

You can also find this at the ABC news website if you search for “better world transgender children” and click on the video link.



July 01, 2008 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Trannie's got a gun.



July 01, 2008 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"John McCain didn't do much in his first term in the US Senate either"

Yes, Bea, but McCain didn't go out and run for President until he actually had some experience.

This fall, the voters will tell Barack:

Get back to us when you've actually done something to merit your being considered for the position of the leader of the free world.

July 01, 2008 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

This fall American voters will tell Obama thank you for being a leader like JFK and for digging us out of this hell hole we're in because of the GOP lead by Dumbya. Americans are outraged at the damage this adminstration has brought to our nation, such as:

- record gas prices coupled with record windfall oil company profits

- the subprime mortgage collapse that is turning the American dream of homeownership into a foreclosure frenzy

- the money pit AKA the Iraq occupation, which "would be fine with" McCain if it lasted another 100 years

- the corruption of once highly regarded scientific federal agencies by political appointees

- the politicization of the Department of Justice

- having a President who opted to play guitar while the Gulf Coast was being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina

to name a few.

July 02, 2008 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I use to think Bush was stupid to name this old guy as VP and not have someone to extend his legacy.

Now, I see. The plan all along was for Obama to run for Bush's third term.

In the primaries, Obama said he would personally filibuster any bill that gave telecommunication companies retroactive immunity for assisting electronic eavesdropping.

Now, he favors the bill.

In the primaries, Obama told factory workers he would abolish NAFTA. When an advisor went to Canada and told them Obama was just saying that to get votes, the advisor was denounced by Obama.

Now, he favors free trade.

In the Senate, Obama voted against Roberts and Alito.

Now, he favors their ruling on the 2nd amendment and their dissent on abolishing the death penalty for child rape.

In the primaries, he called for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

Now, he tells his supporters to stop criticizing General Petraeus.

In the past, Obama has repeatedly opposed the 1996 welfare reform.

Now, he's running ads declaring his support for it.

Heck, he even supports increased government support for faith-based charities.

This are good and bad aspects to all this.

Good: Obama may win so it's reassuring that he recognizes that despite the media myth of a liberal resurgence, Americans generally hold the same positions as George Bush.

Bad: Can anybody really trust Obama?

July 02, 2008 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Americans generally hold the same positions as George Bush.

Well, they did in 2001 when he went after bin Laden in Afghanistan, but since his blunder into Iraq and the way he's destroyed America's once stellar standing and reputation around the world, Americans have wondered if Bush is hitting the bottle again.

If lots of Americans did "hold the same positions" as the dumb one, he'd have approval ratings he could crow about. But the truth is, Bush's approval ratings are the lowest in recorded history.

The more the Senator from Arizona flip flops into lockstep with Bush in an effort to win at least the 30% or so who make up the GOP base (who really hate his former "maverick" ways), the more the 70% come to see him as McBush.

Every time Americans cough up the dough to fill up their gas tanks, they are reminded of Bush's failings.

July 02, 2008 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Well, they did in 2001 when he went after bin Laden in Afghanistan, but since his blunder into Iraq and the way he's destroyed America's once stellar standing and reputation around the world,"

This is actually a bunch of media crap. America was resented by a certain noisy group of the world before the Iraq. We had a brief moment of sympathy after 9/11. It dissipated but it would have done so without Iraq. Our supposed decline in reputation is mostly an exaggeration though. We have tons of supporters outside of the Middle East. Try India, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Japan. If we're so despised why have Germany and France elected the most pro-American leaders running?

"If lots of Americans did "hold the same positions" as the dumb one, he'd have approval ratings he could crow about. But the truth is, Bush's approval ratings are the lowest in recorded history."

And the Democratic Congress's is lower. It's obvious approval ratings have nothing to do with policy positions and everything to do with competence and leadership skills. These are missing in both the legislative and executive branch.

"The more the Senator from Arizona flip flops into lockstep with Bush in an effort to win at least the 30% or so who make up the GOP base (who really hate his former "maverick" ways), the more the 70% come to see him as McBush."

Actually, polls show that most Americans don't associate McCain with Bush. After all, that had a pretty nasty competition in the year 2000.

"Every time Americans cough up the dough to fill up their gas tanks, they are reminded of Bush's failings."

Oh, brother. The Democrats insistence on banning drilling where most of our reserves are and the ignorant blocking of nuclear energy have more to do with this than anything Bush has done.

Bea, you are stupid and ignorant.

July 03, 2008 1:52 PM  
Blogger Emproph said...

"Actually, polls show that most Americans don't associate McCain with Bush."

Do you even know what a search engine is?

Americans Worry McCain Would Be Too Similar to Bush

PRINCETON, NJ -- A recent USA Today/Gallup poll finds about two in three Americans concerned that John McCain would pursue policies as president that are too similar to what George W. Bush has pursued. Nearly half -- 49% -- say they are "very concerned" about this.

July 03, 2008 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Thanks for the assist, Emproph.

That's quite a revisionist history you've written there, Anon.

This one's a real humdinger.

We had a brief moment of sympathy after 9/11. It dissipated but it would have done so without Iraq.

The whole civilized world was with us after 9/11 and quite willing to help us bring about the destruction of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Then the dumb one and his stupid neocon advisors decided to attack Iraq for one reason and one reason alone -- not WMD or a link to al Qaeda, not Iraq's nuclear program, and not to be greeted as liberators. The real reason we went into Iraq was oil.

Cheney's crony Don Rumsfeld insulted our allies by calling them "old Europe". Bush would hear no criticism and would not reconsider his decision, he was on a crusade for oil. His arrogance had everything to do with the fact that good will among our tried and true allies "dissipated."

Congress's is lower. It's obvious approval ratings have nothing to do with policy positions and everything to do with competence and leadership skills.

GOP leadership in Congress has called for the filubustering of so many pieces of legislation this term, that they have renamed themselves the Grand Obstructionist Party.

"Republicans in the Senate have filibustered more than 70 pieces of legislation (73) in the current session of Congress. Not all of these attempts have ended in success. Bills have passed. But the modern rate of obstructionism has been historic, far surpassing the previous record of 62 cloture votes.

"The use of a filibuster as a routine measure on virtually every bill and the use of the filibuster on bills were there is a consensus on a tactic to slow things down, to make the place look bad, that is new," said Norm Ornstein, a congressional expert with the American Enterprise Institute. "It is sending Congress' approval down into the sewer but it is also sending Republicans even further into the sewer."

The Democrats insistence on banning drilling where most of our reserves are and the ignorant blocking of nuclear energy have more to do with this than anything Bush has done.

Drilling along our shores will make no difference for at least a decade, and the difference will be negligible.

"Drilling offshore to lower oil prices is like walking an extra 20 feet per day to lose weight," said David Sandalow, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and author of Freedom from Oil. "It's just not going to make much difference."

It takes years to bring new oil wells online, said Mike Rodgers, a leading oil expert with PFC Energy in Washington. Companies need to drill exploratory wells, then discovery wells around the exploratory wells that show promise. Shipyards that build platforms, a two to three year endeavor, are already booked solid.

"It's foolish to sell it as a short-term solution to high gas prices," Rodgers said. "Opening off-shore drilling would have no impact whatsoever on gas prices today."

July 05, 2008 1:20 PM  

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