Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fire And Ice

"Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice."

Robert Frost
That's about all I have to say about love and politics today. And, as usual, someone else said it first and best.

Another version of Fire And Ice below.

Friday, December 24, 2010

And in our world of plenty, We can spread a smile of joy

In case you forgot, the reason for this video & charity are still going on. Mean people suck:

The actual video:

Have I the right?

Whenever some rightie raises the " NPR is a Liberal Network™" theme, I slap my forehead against the desk.

See, here's what happens when a stalwart leftie at NPR meets a right-wing pundit on an NPR show. Bloodshed, you think? Well, sort-of:
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Matthew Franck argued that we need robust, even passionate debate on the issue, but that the charge of hate is not a contribution to argument. It's the recourse of people who would rather not have an argument at all.

Have you used the hate charge in an argument over gay marriage? Have you heard it? Our phone number: 800-989-8255. Email: You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Matthew Franck directs the Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute. His piece in the Washington Post is titled "In the Gay Marriage Debate, Stop Using the Hate Card." And he joins us now from his office in Princeton.
Who is Matthew Franck? Look at his blog at American Principles Project and you'll see much criticism of the nomination and approval of Sonia Sotomayor, with praise for Sen's Kyl, Coburn, McCain & Hatch for their principled stands against her. You'll see praise for noted conservative media personality Carrie Prejean as a well . . .

And you'll see his blogroll, full of Hot Air, Weekly Standard, World Net Daily, and other right-wing extremists (and occasional liars).

So does 'Lefty' Neil Conan of NPR take off the gloves and give Franck a thorough bashing:
CONAN: A lot of the debate is framed in terms of the - well, you mentioned the Southern Poverty Law Center, a once-respected civil rights organization. It is framed in the same kind of terminology as the civil rights arguments - that gay men and lesbians want the same rights as other people, and that those opposing it are opposing their right.

Mr. FRANCK: Mm-hmm. So the argument is made. I don't agree with that argument. I'm not persuaded by it, and I think most Americans are not. There's frequently an effort to analogize the situation of gay couples to the situation of interracial couples 45 years ago. As everyone should know and this is history...

CONAN: Before the Loving decision...

Mr. FRANCK: know, there were anti-miscegenation laws that forbade blacks and whites from marrying. Those laws, of course, prevented opposite-sex couples from coming together in marital unions that everyone recognized would actually be marital unions if they were permitted to form them. In other words, people universally understood to be capable of marrying one another were prevented from marrying one another by an intrusion and intervention of the state into their freedom to marry.

The situation is rather different with same-sex couples, who have never been permitted to marry under any understanding of the laws of marriage -common law, statutory law - in any country, until quite recently.

And in order to fold them into the institution of marriage, we don't merely have to remove an obstacle to their marriage. We have to redefine what marriage is. And that's where, I think, the debate needs to be. What is marriage? And what do we take it to be? And what change are we undertaking if we extend it to gay couples? My argument, and the argument of many marriage advocates - traditional marriage advocates - is that the extension of marriage to gay couples is not an expansion of the institution but an inversion of it, and a dismantling of it.

. . .
CONAN: ...we want to give some other people a chance. But thanks very much for the phone call.

We're talking with Matthew Franck. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

And here's an email from Kathleen in Cape Cod: The discussion is absurd. Of course, there are hate groups. What in the world do you call an organization that exists for the sole purpose of fighting a minority group's civil rights? Who, calling for the jailing of gay people simply for being gay, like the National Organization for Marriage board member Mr. Card does, or who demonize gay people with rhetoric that compares us to child molesters, or makes insane claims that the Nazi SS was made up of gay people. The hate card is being played. Here is hatred of gay people.

And I think - well, you might disagree with some of the particulars there, Matthew Franck. Hate is being played on both sides. I think that's accurate.

Mr. FRANCK: Yes. The difference, I think, is this: that on the side of the defenders of marriage, there are no mainstream marriage advocacy organizations that are engaging in hate speech or propagating falsehoods or myths about gay people. I just - it's not happening.

On the other side, there is, I think - on the other hand - a kind of mainstreaming of the strategy to anathematize, which is what I described in my article.

CONAN: Among those you describe as part of the strategy is the judge in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Judge Vaughn Walker held that California's Proposition 8 enacted without reason a private moral view about the nature of marriage that cannot properly be embodied in public policy.

Mr. FRANCK: Right, exactly right. And that brings us back to what I think is a key to a lot of what's going on. In the courts, a key legal question is: Is there a rational basis for a policy? If there is not a rational basis, then it cannot be upheld on equal protection or perhaps due process grounds. And so I think the full-court press we see in the culture has a kind of judicial parallel. The idea is if you can propagate the idea that defenders of gay marriage have no rational basis for defending marriage, as it has always been known in every human civilization, as the union of men and women, for - chiefly - for procreative ends, but if you can say that there's no rational basis for that, then you achieve a great strategic goal in the courts of law, which is to have judges hold that no rational basis exists for such distinctions in the law and therefore, laws like Prop 8 have to fall.

But if you can see that there's no rational basis for that, then you achieve a great strategic goal in the courts of law, which is to have judges hold that no rational basis exists for such distinctions in the law and therefore laws like Prop 8 have to fall.

CONAN: And we will see what the 9th Circuit decides - and I suspect, eventually, the Supreme Court. Matthew Franck, thank you very much for your time today.

The paragraph I bolded is the main straw man in this whole argument: That the mean gay-lovers are being mean to us non-mean gay haterz. Jeebus!

In Franck's rambling op-ed in the WaPo that led to the NPR piece above, he shows a prejudice and lack of awareness that's pretty stunning:
What's going on here? Clearly a determined effort is afoot, in cultural bastions controlled by the left, to anathematize traditional views of sexual morality, particularly opposition to same-sex marriage, as the expression of "hate" that cannot be tolerated in a decent civil society. The argument over same-sex marriage must be brought to an end, and the debate considered settled. Defenders of traditional marriage must be likened to racists, as purveyors of irrational fear and loathing. Opposition to same-sex marriage must be treated just like support for now long-gone anti-miscegenation laws.

While many "defenders of traditional marriage" are decent people with good intentions, so were many of the "defenders of traditional marriage" that fought against Loving v. Virginia, where inter-racial marriage was made a Constitutional civil right. To claim no similarity between these situations is delusional.

The best retort came in a letter to the editor criticizing Frank by a WaPo reader:
Matthew J. Franck's Dec. 19 Outlook commentary, "On gay marriage, stop playing the hate card," was an extended fallacy. Mr. Franck defended intolerance by arguing that the tolerant should not be intolerant of the intolerant, because intolerance is wrong. He is confused.

He moved on to the fallacy that bigotry against homosexuals is not irrational. He said the function of marriage is to produce children. So the infertile and those past menopause should not get married? He said same-sex marriage dismantles the institution of marriage. His conclusion was used as an argument for his conclusion. Mr. Franck succeeded only in proving that bigotry against homosexuals really is irrational.

Finally, Mr. Franck concluded the piece with an especially obnoxious fallacy: In the interest of robust debate, bigotry should be exempt from criticism, because criticism is a conversation stopper. Bigotry merits no such privilege.


So did liberal NPR spokesman Conan engage in debate and argument with Franck? Nope. Instead he was played as a sucker by a well spoken schoolyard bully. A mention of the SPLC position merely served up a softball for Franck to hit out of the yard in service to his prejudice. Yet I'm betting Franck got off the phone and complained to colleagues about his rough treatment.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Adeste Fidelis

I've heard it said that the unchanged male voice is the most beautiful. I'm not sure I completely agree, but this presents strong evidence to support that contention.

Vienna Boys Choir, "Adeste Fidelis":

Ahh Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in, Are you aware the shape I’m in?

My friend and co-blogger on the other site is packing her bags, loading up the dog, hauling the kid, and joining her Doctor on a move to America's arch. God speed, Joan Glenn!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy we'll be beyond the sea

Perfect music, performed perfectly.

People, this can't be taught, only nurtured.

Here's where the song came from. Bobby's version had different lyrics, telling a different story. But as always, it's the melody that matters:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry . . .

Non-guitarists may not appreciate the artistry of this guy. Only one I ever heard who might do this stuff better might have been George vanEps. And no, Lenny Breau's style isn't like Ted's so on can't really compare except to say they were both wonderful players who we lost too soon.

It gets off to a slow start, and he changes guitars before he starts, but wait, it's worthwhile. And stay for the bonus bit and lesson at the end.

Ah! Ah! beautiful is the Mother! Ah! Ah! beautiful is her child

Christmas music on a harp-guitar. This guy is really good:

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

Certain songs, pieces of music, have been perfected and never, ever, should be recorded again.

This is one:

But then again, you might like Miley Cyrus's version.

If so, I pity you.

Hark, the herald angels 'n' stuff

Here's a repost from 12/23/06, with some additions:

Here's some pre-Christmas music goodness from The Roches. In case anyone wasn't sure, Handel rocks:

Here's more Christmas goodies from the girls:

And the 2 best alternative Christmas albums ever? In my authoritative opinion:

The Roches: We Three Kings

Barenaked Ladies: Barenaked for the Holidays

Here's a sample of the Ladies' men:

Of course, YMMV. But I'm right, I'm just saying...

You make me feel like dancing!

My youngest brother has had a brain tumor growing in his head since he got treated for leukemia when he was 9.

At the time it was an experimental treatment, and involved chemo and radiation, massive doses of each.

All those pictures of skinny little bald kids and such that you've seen on TV? Yeah, that was him. But he survived and has been in remission for 40+ years.

But survival doesn't come without a cost. He had a seizure a few weeks ago. The local hospital he was ambulanced to knew they were unable to deal with it and ambulanced him to a hospital that had the facilities to diagnose what was going on. Massive BENIGN brain tumor.

He was in brain surgery for 14 hours. He was in ICU for days, the dainbramaged [sic] ward for weeks, a rehab facility for more weeks, but Monday he gets to come home for more rehab, but at least he's home (well, not exactly home, it's a friend's house. A competent friend who can do more for him than I/we can.)

He's had problems as an adult, and he and I have been estranged for years. But maybe that damn thing in his head was part of that. Even if we're not as close as we were at one time, I think he's going to be better than he has been for years.

It makes me feel like dancing.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

You may say I'm a dreamer

No better liberal ever lived. Even after her husband squandered his good will and good ideas, she stayed relevant and dignified.

Bon Voyage, Elizabeth.

And to honor Elizabeth, John Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) offers Imagine:

Walking down the Line

Need any additional proof that the Republican congresspeople are hypocrites and liars?

The deal Obama and Republicans have struck also includes a one-year cut in payroll taxes, from 6.2% to 4.2%. The tax is applied to a worker's first $106,800 of wages. If implemented, it would mean that someone earning $50,000 a year would pay $1,000 less in Social Security contributions next year. Someone earning $100,000 would pay $2,000 less. The payroll tax rate would go back up to 6.2% in 2012.

The estate tax -- currently scheduled to return in 2011 to a top rate of 55% along with a $1 million exemption -- would instead come back with a lower top rate of 35% along with a $5 million exemption.

Agreeing to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans represented a major concession for Obama. In a concession to Democrats, Republican negotiators agreed to leave in place for 13 months the option to file for extended federal unemployment benefits. That will not, however, affect how long someone can collect unemployment benefits -- the maximum will remain 99 weeks in states hardest hit by job loss.

. . .

Extending the Bush-era tax cuts for two years would cost $458 billion, the Treasury Department has estimated -- $383 billion for lower and middle income Americans plus $75 billion for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families making $250,000 or more. The White House has estimated that lowering the payroll tax would cost $120 billion. Extending unemployment benefits for 13 months comes with a $62 billion price tag, according to CNN estimates.

Lowering the top estate tax rate to 35% -- combined with the $5 million exemption -- costs $88 billion over two years, according to the Tax Policy Center.

To make this clear, the continued tax cuts for everyone raises the deficit. And additional unemployment and stimulative tax credits raises the deficit.

So after all the sturm und drang about fiscal responsibility, the R's go along with the program because it keeps taxes lower on their base. Only reason, to pander to the wealthy.

Tea-party folks, here's what's coming down the line: Republican interests are always aligned with the wealthy.

Not you.

Monday, December 06, 2010

So I sing a song of love for Julian

PayPal Cuts WikiLeaks from Money Flow [They didn't just cut the account, they confiscated the money. Fuck PayPal/eBay.]

Calls from Joe Lieberman help force Amazon and EveryDNS to dump Wikileaks [Fuck Amazon/EveryDNS & Joe LIEberman.
My cyber shopping list is getting shorter by the minute.]

Swiss bank freezes WikiLeaks founder's legal defense fund [Oh sure, they'll help American scofflaws evade taxes, and help Nazi's confiscate Jews' money, but here they draw the line.]

Federal employees warned away from Wikileaks

Students warned: Read WikiLeaks and you're out of a government job [And it's the Universities that are telling them this. In the latest new, the US also claims to have a method of removing pee from a swimming pool.]

Assange an ‘enemy combatant’ but fault is Obama’s [sez newt Gingrich, that moral paragon.]

"Why was [Assange] not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?" - Sarah Falin [Umm, where IS OBL?]

GOP leader Mitch McConnell calls WikiLeaks founder ‘a high-tech terrorist’ [Really!? He doesn't scare me as much as you folks do.]

Julian Assange's lawyers say they are being watched WikiLeaks founder's lawyers also accuse US state department of inappropriate behaviour in not respecting attorney-client protocol [This isn't news, the Feds have been listening in on bedrooms, lawyers and clients, cell phones and all other communications for years, with out any warrants. And that's just the U.S.]

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange says militant supporters of the US military have made death threats against his family in Australia.

Assange threatens to release ‘poison pill’ if arrested or killed [Can you blame him?]

Folks, what we're seeing here is the first shot heard 'round the world of a cyber-war. Black hats and white hats, (I spend way too much time doing cyber-security), are targeting a man and his family.

It's not that simple. You can't stop Al Keda [sic] by killing Osama Bin Ladin. You can't stop WikiLeaks by killing Julian Assange. I've mirrored the site, I've downloaded the insurance file and uploaded it to other sites. I have multiple copies on media. And I'm not the only one.

What you can do is ensure everyone on the globe gets an even break AKA freedom. No starving, no imprisonment without a fair trial, (no inhumane conditions even then), health care for all.

This is the exact opposite from libertarians; they think they're special and they should get to do what ever they want. But since they rode the short bus to school, and philosophy, and economics, I'm just going to ignore them as a parent does to a child having a tantrum.

It's easy if you try.

Now for my musical selections:

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday random 10

She's Not There - Zombies
All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
Since I Met You - The Temptations
The Boys are Back - Thin Lizzy
The Way You Look Tonight - Frank Sinatra
The Wreck Of The Old Number 9 - Doc & Merle Watson
Wasn't Born To Follow - The Birds
Oh Sheila - Prince
Bugle Call Rag - Benny Goodman
Asylum - Supertramp

And a bonus video:

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

And Iran . . .

A lot has been said about the Wikileaks cable dump. Bill Kristol, the dumbest smart guy on the planet, even said:
Why can't we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are? Why can't we disrupt and destroy WikiLeaks in both cyberspace and physical space, to the extent possible?

Sounds like movie tough guy talk for kill Assange.

Funny though, Kristol also says this:

Yesterday on Fox News, top neocon Bill Kristol broke through all the media noise about WikiLeaks’ release of U.S. diplomatic cables and came up with his top headline: that the U.S. should forget about Middle East peace and attack Iran.

KRISTOL: The world really did not want Iran to get the nuclear weapons and Iran’s neighbors in particular don’t want Iran to get nuclear weapons and they’d like us to act to prevent it.

They’re not worrying about Israeli settlements on the West Bank or the Arab street disliking an attack on Iran. They understand that Iranian nuclear weapons would change the balance of power in the Middle East and call them to go nuclear. It would be an incredible setback for all American efforts to check the spread of radical Islam and terror and further nuclear proliferation in Middle East and around the world. That’s the headline.

Iran is a country with a special relationship with the US that too many too often forget. It didn't start with the hostages in '79. In fact, that, and virtually every gesture made by them toward us stems from this little event that Juan Cole discusses:
It should be remembered that then Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh angered Washington in the early 1950s by nationalizing Iranian petroleum. Eisenhower slapped sanctions on Iran and destroyed its economy. Washington at that time thought Mosaddegh was a pinko, though in fact he was a relatively conservative aristocrat. At the height of the crisis, Mosaddegh wrote a letter to Eisenhower, which was ignored. Ike had the CIA overthrow the elected, parliamentary government of Iran and install the Shah as a megalomaniacal dictator. So the tradition of letter-writing by Iranian leaders at times of tensions with Washington isn’t replete with successes. Of course, the Iranians took revenge for the heavy-handed US interference with their form of government. They made an Islamic Revolution in 1978-79, and more recently elected Ahmadinejad. What Washington wouldn’t do to have that nice Mr. Mosaddegh back.

In-freakin'-deed. That's some modest diplomacy right there.

And now the obligatory Flock of Seagulls Youtube. I worked a show with them in '83, the were charming, funny, a joy to work with. And Mike Score, the dude with "the hair" was the nicest of the bunch.