Friday, July 31, 2015

Short: What's in a (nasty) name?

I hate a particular kind of name-calling where you make a nasty play on a person's name. As my rules for commenters says "Insults such as libtard, Obummer, Repug, wingnut, and moonbat are not welcome."

From what I've seen, conservatives tend to be worse in this sort of behavior. Some positively relish coming up with new concoctions on the name Obama. I'm pretty sure it's a major pastime for Limbaugh.

Now there's a new one: cuckservative.

It definitely sounds nasty, but the sound is just the beginning. A cuckservative is a conservative who stupidly isn't on board with ... (how should I phrase this?) ... 'white interests.'

Here's a mostly clean version of the viewpoint. Here's a very raunchy version. Beware before you click.


Extras. This reminds me of Derbyshire and dark enlightenment. More etymology, if you're not repulsed enough already. I've got a strong stomach and training with bodily fluids. That's my excuse.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Analysis of the Cincinnati shooting video

Earlier this month, a security officer for the University of Cincinnati shot and killed an unarmed driver during a traffic stop. The officer was indicted for murder, and also indicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

He was wearing a body camera throughout the incident, and the video was just released. Now, accordingly to the prosecutor, the video shows "the most asinine act by a police officer I have ever seen."

That's not what I saw when I closely watched the video, though admittedly I wasn't able to watch it frame by frame.

The officer pulled over the driver for a minor infraction--not having a front license plate... or did he pull him over for driving while black? The officer asks for his license. The driver searches around for it, but doesn't produce it. That is an expedient move by the driver because his license had been suspended (as investigation showed after the fact). If he had produced his license, the officer would quickly confirm that he was driving with a suspended license. That would probably mean an arrest, towing the car, and lots of fines for the driver.

Here is a chronology of how the altercation unfolds:
  • At 3:12, the officer starts to open the car door. The driver grabs it to keep it closed. He moves his right hand to the ignition. The officer's right hand is on the roof of the car. The driver says "I didn't even do nothing."
  • At 3:13, the officer says "Come on and take your seatbelt off." His right hand is still on the roof of the car.
  • At 3:14, the driver starts the ignition (can be heard) and the officer reaches with his left hand into the car to grab the ignition.
  • At 3:16, the officer yells "stop, stop." At the same time, the sound of the engine revving is audible. The gun is visible in the officer's right hand.
  • At 3:17, the officer fires this gun. The driver slumps to his right. The car is also moving forward.
  • At 3:18, the officer is falling backward. The camera shows the sky.
  • At 3:19, the officer is starting to stand up. His gun is clearly seen in his right hand.
  • At 3:24, he is running after the car down the street.
Clearly, the driver was fleeing the traffic stop. Clearly, the officer reached for his weapon and shot within 3 seconds of the driver starting the ignition. Both men were acting and reacting very quickly. As the prosecutor said:
"You won't believe how quickly he pulls his gun and shoots him in the head."
The officer claimed he was dragged, and that doesn't seem to be true. However, the driver must have put the car in gear while the officer was reaching in, so the officer had good reason to worry that he might be dragged or knocked down and run over.

To understand and judge the criminal charges, we will have to consider how officers should act when a driver tries to flee a minor traffic stop. We have to consider whether the officer was in danger, or whether he was trigger happy, or both. This is not an open-and-shut case.

It does seem to me that many officials in Cincinnati have ganged up on the officer. It's not just the prosecutor, who laid on charges of intentional murder and incompetence, The university fired him. The mayor stated that he wanted charges. No one there wants Ferguson-type riots and demonstrations. The officer seems to have been thrown under the bus as Cincinnati tries not to be the next epicenter of race-based demonstrations.

This isn't my final word on this case. I might write a post on how the video refutes the claims that the prosecutor made in his (grandstanding) press conference. Maybe I'll learn more about police training that leads officers to shoot first and shoot fast. Maybe I'll unravel how a simple traffic stop ends up with someone dead, not just once, but too many times already this year.

3:12 -- Look where their hands are.

Extras. USA Today's list of events at the end of this article differs from mine. They're wrong and they seem biased against the officer: "Without a word, Tensing fires a single shot," "the car rolls a short distance." The car didn't roll a few feet, but probably at least 150 feet. You can hear the rev of the engine as though it was accelerating, not 'rolling.'

More of the chronology:
  • At 3:27, someone asks "Are you alright." The officer, while running, says "I'm good."
  • At 3:41, he is close to where the car has crashed and we can see another security officer enter the frame.
  • At 4:15, we can see that a third security officer is also already on the scene.
Were these other two officers already at the other end of the block? What did they see? Did they have body cameras too? Maybe their footage isn't important since we have video of the entire event at close range. Or maybe it is important if it is shows more of what happened.

Update 7/31/15. Video from the body cameras of the two officers who arrived just as the altercation erupted.

Update 8/1/15. A Cincinnati officer killed in June of this year.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Evidence of the missing conservative voters

A claim I frequently read is that Romney lost the 2012 election because he was too moderate and turned off conservative voters, who stayed home in droves. I've always doubted this claim, and the commenters have never supplied any evidence.

Finally I found links to some pieces that provide some evidence for this assertion. I have to admit that the main article discussing this is two years old. (Well, better late than never.) The author, Sean Trende, is a data-obsessed analyst, as demonstrated by him declining to 'unskew' his reading of poll data in 2012.

Trende reports that demographic projections show that 6.5 million white voters sat out the 2012 election unexpectedly. The map below shows lower turnout in blue and higher turnout in red:


Trende found that areas with a strong Perot vote in 1992 showed declines from expected turnout. He describes a particular kind of voter who seemed to stay away:
[They were] secular, blue-collar, often rural voters who were turned off by Bill Clinton’s perceived liberalism and George H.W. Bush’s elitism. They were largely concentrated in the North and Mountain West...
However, this 'Perot' effect was hardly the biggest factor. The Perot vote was a smaller factor than Hurricane Sandy in keeping people from the polls.

Despite an interesting analysis, Trende has perhaps identified only a small part of the reason for the missing white voters. Still, no one has shown why so many whites stayed home. So those claims about the candidate 'not being conservative enough' are quite empty, no matter how loudly made.


Extras. Poorly done appeals to blue-collar workers here. Site with easy to read statistics. The coal miners shown above and their incentive to attend the Romney rally or else.

Update 2/25/16. More evidence that True Conservatives didn't stay home in droves. Of course, you have to care about data and evidence to be swayed by this information. No True Conservative or True Believer would allow themselves to doubt the legend of the golden horde of lost conservatives.

Monday, July 20, 2015

More reflections on the Iran deal

No one wants to admit how tough making this deal was. There's Iran, who is a very tough negotiator. There's a rickety alliance that backed the sanctions. There's the president and Secretary of State Kerry saying it's a good deal, it's the best we could get outside of fantasy land, and look at all these promising aspects. There's the noisy opponents of the deal pretending that we should have walked away and screwed Iran down even more. There are Iranian leaders who point out all the nuclear work they'll still get to do, but don't explain why such a defiant nation went into negotiations.

Who out there is saying that this deal probably has more holes than swiss cheese, but it's still the best we could get?

But think about it some more. This isn't just the best deal we could get, it's also historic. By my reckoning, it's the first deal limiting a nuclear program that has a chance of working.

Our deals with North Korea were failure after failure. Now they have nuclear weapons but are still one of the most benighted countries on Earth. Israel stopped Syria and Iraq from trying to build nuclear weapons by bombing them, not negotiations. With Iraq, it was a temporary setback. Their continued ambitions led to the American-Iraq war and the devastation of their country. Qaddafi in Libya gave up his nuclear program freely and willingly, perhaps sensing his own end, which nuclear weapons wouldn't have prevented.

If Iran actually abides by the agreement, it may be the first successful hard negotiation to prevent a country from going nuclear. That will be a surprising success in a field where failure is the norm.

A-bomb in the oven?

Extras. One article correctly highlighting how historic this deal is, but perhaps the article is thin on how weak it is. A good look at the problems in the deal, but also the huge obstacles in getting to a deal, including this: "The day [Obama] walked in . . . Iran was already a nuclear threshold state."

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Republicans get the Trump they deserve

Donald Trump on John McCain's war record: 'I like people who weren't captured'

That's the headline for this story and video. John McCain has accused Trump of riling up the crazies in the GOP, and Trump is firing back. In this video, Trump doesn't actually sound that crazy. He complains that McCain doesn't do enough for veterans. But who doesn't think there's another motive for Trump to complain about McCain?

Another thought: As I said, Trump doesn't sound that crazy in the video. Is the MSM making Trump sound crazier than he is? Perhaps they are selectively quoting the outrageous bits. So I'll go to the conservative media and see what they say.
  • HotAir has a slew of posts about Trump. Trumps courts Arizona treasurer to primary McCain. Trump featured on 'Quote of the Day.' 
  • Daily Caller--not too much on Trump. 
  • Breitbart is a bonanza of Trump: Almost half the main stories are about Trump. Trump bragging that he has five sources corroborating what he said about Mexican immigrants. Trump dissing McCain. Trump dissing LA protesters. HuffPo evicts Trump to the entertainment section. Trump dissing the Common Core.
Trump got 5000 people at a rally in Phoenix. He is leading in the GOP polls with 18%. His supporters like that he'll say things that other politicians won't.

Trump is like a big middle finger to the left, to the GOP establishment, to immigrants, and to the media. That is his appeal right now.

But the GOP deserve that because they pandered to him to 2012, vying for his endorsement. This time he's trying to be more than a king-maker--he's trying to be king. Well, they gave him the platform four years ago, and he never gave it up.

Worse than that is the general support he's getting among the party mob, though perhaps being the top at 18% isn't actually a general endorsement. In the raucous conservative media (which plays to the GOP crowd), he's a star. Limbaugh is touting him.

If he brings disrepute on the GOP by saying most Mexicans are rapists, Obama is a Kenyan marxist anti-white thug, McCain is an overrated, almost-dropout, and that Trump himself is the greatest person in the whole country, the GOP deserves all of this embarrassment. They've been a willing audience for all of Trump's antics, so they own him.


Extras. More Trump headlines: "Donald Trump Will Not Apologize to John McCain." "Donald Trumps evades specifics on his draft deferment."

Update 7/23/15. Rick Perry is criticizing Trump. Trump responds by reminding Perry how he sought Trump's support and money. Trump demands to be treated well or he'll run as an independent. This just gets more bizarre.

The Iran deal--wishing it was better

So the US, France, Russia, the UK, China, Germany, and Iran settled on a nuclear deal after years of negotiations to put sanctions in place and years of negotiations because the sanctions worked in putting the screws on Iran.

The deal is not spectacular. Most countries were hoping that Iran would give up its nuclear enrichment capability. Instead, Iran held fast to its sovereign right, and didn't back down on some enrichment. They could have sent a reassuring message to the world, but that's not what they chose to do.

Instead, they played on weaknesses among the countries supporting the sanctions, and got themselves more leeway for producing nuclear fuel. Yes, there are inspections and limits that they've agree to. But they haven't renounced the capability, as most people hoped they would.

Still, this may be the best deal available to hem them in. The alliance for the sanctions was breaking down. Russia is definitely more belligerent than when they agreed to the sanctions. China rarely wants to forego trading partners, so they were probably not strongly dependable on sanctions.

So maybe this weak deal was the best we could do.

Regional arms race next?

I'm not worried about Israeli reaction to the deal. They already have their nuclear weapons, but those weapons aren't particularly destabilizing. Israel has been suspected of having nukes since the 1960s, and that hasn't caused much of a blip in the Mideast compared to other aspects of Israeli policy.

Iran's nuclear capability causes more worry, partly because it might set off a nuclear arms race in the Mideast. I don't want to imagine what could happen if Saudi Arabia started building nukes. Imagine if ISIS or Boko Harum or a similar successor overran a base and got their hands on nukes. If Saudi Arabia builds nukes, the risk of this kind of scenario would be much higher than we've endured before. I'm not saying it's inevitable, but the risks are definitely there.

So Iran has increased the instability of the Mideast with its nuclear posturing. Sanctions didn't completely stop them, and neither will this deal. I'm not sure whether this deal will increase instability or decrease it. A lot depends on whether Iran misbehaves, and whether other countries will wait to see if Iran misbehaves.

Perhaps this is the best we can do. Iran doesn't want to give up its edge, and they have good reason not to. They have a lot of implacable enemies who wouldn't mind seeing them in ruins. Saudi Arabia would blow them off the planet if they could avoid the consequences of such an action. Lots of countries would blow their enemies to smithereens if they could get away with it. But consequences are unavoidable, and that keeps many people and countries in check.

Cooler heads?

Maybe the Saudis will realize that Iran assures its own destruction (by the US or others) if they ever use nuclear weapons, and therefore the Saudis won't start their own nuclear program. Maybe the Iranians will realize it too, and not proceed to building and testing a bomb.

I've really got to hope for that, since actually stopping them would take entail a huge war--bigger than anything since WWII. No country has the stomach for that.


Extras. I have a strange argument with a hawk who focuses, oddly, on UN issues. His thesis is that Russia and China would be too embarrassed to break a standing sanctions regime. Color me dubious about this claim.

Interesting article that delves into this question: "Is Iran an irrational rogue state or a rational, cooperating party?" Much of the success of the sanctions were due to US financial centrality, and the US could still exercise that power if Iran backslides. Read the funny/devastating tweets in this article.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Painful realization: The Civil Rights Act of 1965

In light of the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the capital of South Carolina, I've been researching and reflecting on the process of securing civil rights. I was born in the late 1950's, so I witnessed some significant parts of the civil rights struggles with my own eyes.

Racial equality

I'm also lucky--I grew up believing in the equality of the races. I didn't have to overcome a nagging or latent belief in white superiority. In fact, the idea of white superiority makes me laugh. I've known too many white chumps to believe that whites are better.

Though I grew up believing in equality, I didn't know how widespread that belief was. When I wanted to date a black friend in high school, I worried how my parents would react. I didn't know if my parents (MY OWN PARENTS) would give me a hard time. Clearly they were OK with me having black friends, but would they draw the line at dating? I didn't know.

I was lucky there too. My parents had no trouble with my dates. They were happy for me in my budding relationship. (But love didn't bloom--we weren't going to be anything but friends.)

What does this have to do with the Civil Rights Act of 1965? I'll explain.

In 1965, how many Americans were inculcated with the belief that blacks were inferior? I wouldn't have been surprised if my own parents had believed that, or had been brought up learning that. Of course that's not what they taught me and my siblings. They were old-line liberals, believers in the New Deal, skeptical of red-baiting, open to all colors and creeds.

How many really believe?

But I didn't know the limits of their beliefs. Would they been like the girl's parents in the movie Guess Who's Coming for Dinner? Yes, they raised their daughter to respect everyone, but they didn't expect her to fall in love and want to marry a black man. My parents could have been like that, but weren't.

But many liberals perhaps were like that, which made the movie of interest. This movie was released just two years after the Civil Rights Act passed. How many white Americans sincerely believed that blacks and whites were equal then? Perhaps a majority of whites didn't believe it. That would be my guess.

But I'd be wrong. Researching this, I found this article citing polling about the Civil Rights Act. In 1965, 76% of Americans supported the act. How many of those people supported the act because that's what they honestly believed? How many supported the act because they agreed with the ideals, but didn't believe it in fact?

I had a surprise here, too. In my pessimism, I thought that that majority of whites didn't truly believe in equality. However, I found polling from 1964 showing that 70% of whites believed in the equality of intellect (National Opinion Research Center, p. 20). Of course, it's hard to know how accurate that polling was. Was the sample skewed toward the wealthier and better educated? Would beliefs be different by income level? It's hard to drill down into 50 year old data. (And the graphics are so primitive. Wow, have computers changed our world.)

Though I've been lucky to grow up without racism entrenched in me, I'm still disappointed by how slow the decline in racism has been. When I was young, I was more hopeful for the future, and even for the present. As I've gotten older, I've been become more pessimistic about achieving a country with no significant racism. Every year shows me that racism persists.

Racism surfaced in my dad as he got older. My daughter worries that it might surface in me. She's not wrong to worry, but I hope and pray that it's not hiding somewhere in my psyche. So far, though, even when I delve deep, my instincts are to believe in the essential equality of all people. I'm immensely grateful for that.


Extras. National Opinion Research Center, starting p. 104, expectations of racial troubles. And as with my other posts on race, I realize that discussions of racial superiority or inferiority are deeply painful and deeply insulting. I wish that it wasn't an active issue, but it has been during my lifetime.

Read about the fascinating Civil Rights Act of 1875, which mandated equal treatment in public accommodations. What happened to it? Guess who was the most likely to shoot it down, and you're probably right.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Short: The flag almost wasn't removed

This report details the machinations in the South Carolina House as they debated whether to approve the Senate's bill to remove the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds. Unlike the Senate, the House didn't have a member shot and killed in that Charleston church. The loss in the other chamber wasn't enough to put enough of them in the mood to be conciliatory. Or perhaps they knew what their constituents would demand, and it was to keep the flag in place.

Finally, there was a compromise that brought a few extra votes to approve the Senate measure. Some legislators needed extra money to go to a Confederate museum before they'd bow to the pressure and take the symbolic flag down.

So much for doing the right thing--the right thing was resisted, and had to be sweetened.  

A good place for an honorable flag

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Donald and The Clintons

"The Clinton Foundation has no plans to return tens of thousands of dollars in donations it received from Donald Trump"

I don't need to read anymore than that. It's so funny and ironic in so many ways. I've even broken my moratorium on Trump news to share it. But I still can't bring myself to thank him.

Better hair, better personality, better chance of winning.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Surviving the same-sex marriage decision Part 2

First Things had a convenient round-up of reactions to the ruling.

As expected, we had the 'Oh-no-they-didn't' talk about five justices trampling the Constitution. They also trampled the truth about marriage and what's good for society. (Per Ryan Anderson--boy wonder proponent for traditional marriage, now raking in the money as one of the few millennials who's against marriage equality. Save your money, Ryan. That gravy train isn't going to last till retirement.)

Do Something!!!!!!! 

The next writer complained that Anthony Kennedy thinks opponents of gay marriage are motivated by "irrational" animus. If 'irrational' includes religious dogma that you want exempted from rational, non-religious-based scrutiny, then I guess Kennedy is right. The objections to same-sex marriage don't seem to pass the test of secular rationality.

But quick, before someone notices, change the subject to ensuring that plural marriages can be prevented. But will that be effective if you use the same approaches that just failed to protect traditional marriage? Will a Defense of Monogamous Marriage Act work where DOMA failed? Hadley Arkes isn't asking these obvious questions. He's in 'Do something' mode.

Oh, the humanity!

Patrick Deneen:
"What has been most striking all along is not the division, the passion, at times the vitriol. What has been most remarkable is the insistence by same-sex marriage proponents that all dissent be silenced—whether through threats of economic destruction, legal bludgeoning, and now, increasingly by appeal to the raw power of the State. The firing of Brendan Eich was a bellwether for what has now become a commonplace: the fanatical insistence that all opposition be squelched, and more—that even belief in an alternative view of marriage be eradicated."
I'm not sure whether this is correct or not. Same-sex marriage has been a heated political issue largely because traditionalists didn't want to compromise. They have fought reasonable compromises, sponsoring referenda to undo compromise, and now they complain about how passionate it's become. Well, it didn't have to be this way. In fact, I don't know of anyone who's been outed in Massachusetts because they gave money years ago, or voted the wrong way. It was a quiet, fairly peaceful transition. But if you want to turn it into a drag-out fight, then there will be casualties. But you don't get to foist all the blame on the other side when you put on boxing gloves.

Pleasant surprises: A bit of empathy, a bit of realism

Not all the writers were hellfire over the ruling. A nice surprise came from Wesley Hill:
"In countless sermons, songs, Bible studies, and informal pew-side conversations, I heard that message like the peal of a gong: singleness equals alienation, marriage means home. (It’s no wonder, given this theology, that whole ministries sprung up to try to rescue gay people from promiscuity and point them toward “traditional” heterosexual marriage.)"
Unfortunately, Hill thinks the answer is celibacy and spiritual friendships and callings. But he gets part of reason why gays want to marry. Most of the authors don't give a hoot about the deep personal reasons for wanting a spouse.

The realism was from Peter Leithart:
"We should stop acting like an exiled Tsar, hoping for the coup to put us back in the Winter Palace... Culture war continues because, in response to our displacement, we’ve tried to politick our values back on top. We failed...  Attending to our own house is now our best strategy... It’s also the way of peace, perhaps the only way of peace remaining."
Yes, I hope there will be peace. I'm not counting on it, because the resistance to change, compromise, and other people's needs has inflamed a lot of passion and a lot of warriors. And warriors tend to keep on fighting.

Rights for me, not for thee.

Extras from the same round-up of opinions:
  • We should have unleashed Bork on them: "Incidentally, today’s ruling demonstrates again how important the 1987 defeat of Robert Bork was, and how much Senate Democrats gained in putting up such a fight against him. It was the defeat of Bork that led to the nomination of Anthony Kennedy."
  • It's all due to those bad, bad Christians who wanted to have sex: "Marriage would not now be hymned as a realm of personal discovery and individual autonomy if Christians had not denigrated celibacy, embraced divorce, and popped the Pill." 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Short: The pandering has begun

Of course it's begun. It started long ago. However, it's also very good to read an article that so clearly points out the pandering, as this NY Times article does. The article focuses on how Scott Walker has been changing his positions to influence the very conservative GOP voters in Iowa. Walker has flipped on ethanol, immigration, and marriage equality.

Of course others have used such a strategy, and it tends to work. If some of your previous policies or principles don't align with your target voters, it's a no-brainer to change your position--if you're an ambitious politician, that is.

Those of us attuned to national politics already knew Scott Walker was a kiss-up. There was the hilarious faux phone call from the ultra-rich David Koch, actually an impersonator who released the audio. That Walker is going to kiss-up to Iowa voters, that's not a surprise.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

My pocket analysis of the same-sex marriage ruling

Ok, I broke down and read much of the Supreme Court's same sex marriage ruling. We have conservatives calling the majority opinion jumbled and impossible to follow, and progressives calling the dissents 'hysterical.' So I have to read them, don't I?

I started with Clarence Thomas's dissent. Why? Because the outtakes listed here were the most hilarious. Thomas's dissent was a mess. First he defines 'liberty' as mostly meaning 'freedom of movement.' So he ignores the freedom or right to marry. Even in discussing the most relevant earlier case, he ignores the right to marry, and says the case was important because people could be imprisoned for being a spouse or a minister in an illegal wedding. Yes, it's a bad opinion.

Comparison to prior case law

The most relevant case, Loving v. Virginia, was a 1967 case where Virginia refused to recognize the marriage of a white man and black woman who had married in Washington DC but returned to Virginia to live. The Supreme Court, in its ruling, overturned all state laws against interracial marriages. The analogy couldn't be clearer.

So how does Loving v. Virginia figure in this latest ruling? In the text, Loving is cited 22 times, mostly by the majority. Both Scalia and Alito ignore it, and Thomas makes the wackadoodle argument about imprisonment being the issue, not marriage. No one says that Loving was wrongly decided because it clearly wasn't wrongly decided.

So if Loving was decided correctly, how does this inform the current case? Neither side makes a slam-dunk argument. The majority doesn't hammer home the point of a couple's status changing as one or both cross a state line. That is the most ridiculous aspect of the situation, and why states are compelled to recognize the marriages and divorces performed by other states.

Recognition or chaos

But it's also a bit ridiculous for one state (Massachusetts) to unilaterally change marriage law in all other states. I supposed the other states could have decided to recognize marriages performed in other states, and maybe we wouldn't have had this ruling. But so many states resisted doing so, and the conditions were set for this confrontation. This was absolutely inevitable. Same-sex couples were:
  • Going to get married where they legally could.
  • Going to move to states that refused to recognize their marriages.
  • Going to sue for their rights. 
I can't respect Roberts' dissent because he doesn't acknowledge this. He wants the legislative process to carry on. To make that decision, Roberts has to ignore the rights of couples who are legally married in one jurisdiction but living or traveling in another.

I stopped reading Alito's dissent because he was whining about how religious people were being labeled as bigots. Alito seems to have missed the facts that 1) a Supreme Court ruling can't prevent public opinion from going that way, and 2) a whiny dissent can't prevent it either. I didn't read Scalia's dissent because I figured it would make me too angry.

So, overall, I was disappointed with the reasoning of this decision. No group really wrestled with the problem of states being required to recognize marriages of other states, and what we're going to do when there are conflicts. Are we going to follow Loving, and now this decision, and force them to recognize the marriages, or are we going to do something else? Who gets to decide?

Finally, what happens when a state allow plural marriage? All hell breaks loose again.

Conservative Christians picked the wrong fight

Conservative Christian values have been losing ground for my entire lifetime, so I'm probably not the best person to write about it. I don't know what's good about this set of values--I only know what's passable and what's hypocritical.

It seems to me that conservative Christians made their first mistake vilifying those who pushed for some latitude on sexual issues. Christians stuck to the maxim that "good girls don't" even in the face of a lot of good girls doing it. These good girls didn't turn into sluts, prostitutes, or broken people, and that was a clear, scientific repudiation of what the conservative Christians warned.

Did the conservative Christians admit they were wrong? No. For many, their belief in the inerrancy of the bible or of their catechism doesn't allow them to admit the scientific evidence, so they are completely stuck. Their rules have been shown to be incorrect, but they can't do anything about it. They can't amend the rules and they can't admit they're wrong. So maybe they're quiet about the case where good people don't follow the rules, and noisy about the next topic on the agenda.

What was next on the agenda? Maybe divorce, which they mischaracterized first as a moral failing and then as a whim. However, too many conservative Christians found themselves divorced at some point, so they let that slide too.

Being against homosexuality had and continues to have more staying power as an issue because it's less common than straight pre-marital sex or divorce. However, as more gay people come out to their religious parents or to neighbors or coworkers, the general public is finding it harder to see homosexuality as scary, evil deviance.

I remember Anita Bryant warning about the scourge of homosexual teachers in our schools. That worked for a while, until we found out that many sexual predators had a front as regular, married guys.

Ok, so maybe homosexuals weren't particularly predators, there was still the 'abomination' factor, where abomination is the biblical term for 'icky.' But restrictions based on ancient biblical rules don't fly when so much of society is modern and educated, not to mention the many who have tried sushi and realized that 'icky' doesn't always pan out. Just as sushi turns out not to be icky, other forms of sex often turn out not to be icky either.

So the biblical restrictions against pre-marital sex, divorce, and homosexuality fell apart in our modern era. Why do conservative Christians cling to their outdated viewpoint on homosexuality so much more tightly than they did to the biblical view of pre-marital sex or divorce? I really don't know why they keep fighting this one. Unfortunately, I don't currently have any close friends  who are religious and hold this view, so I have no one to ask this sincere question. I wonder whether it's the desperation from so many losses that makes them fight this one with all the energy they have left.

One odd thing--conservative Christians have had one moderately successful fight--the fight against abortion. Why is the abortion fight still going, while all these others are basically lost? Conservative Christians should be asking themselves that.

Scare Tactics

What a relief!

Extras. Conservatives complaining the liberals were just pretending to care about marriage, but really they don't. Of course, in this view, all liberals are a single massive blob of wrongheadedness, not individuals, some of whom dislike marriage while others strongly support it. Me, I'm a big fan, in case you forgot.

Do you have to read the post after seeing this graphic? I did.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Surviving the same-sex marriage decision

As I wrote often, Rod Dreher, a religious/cultural blogger, regularly moaned about the growing support for same-sex marriage. His complaints reached a pinnacle (or maybe more than one) as he tried to find the culprit for the fall of marriage from a holy sacrament (joining man, woman, and God) to a piece of toilet paper freely available to perverts.

How badly has Dreher freaked out now that the US will have legal same-sex marriage all over the country?

He's not doing too badly. He's on a trip to Italy right now, enjoying the food, history, and street festivals, or preferable all three at the same time. He's got the right idea. Before the total downfall of Western civilization, I'd like to spend more time in Italy too.


It's rather sentimental of me to wonder whether this opponent has survived the ruling. Not that I really worried that anyone was going to kill himself over this ruling. Nearly everyone saw it coming. Justice Kennedy, the usual swing vote on the Supreme Court, had voted to declare some of DOMA unconstitutional two years ago, so it wouldn't take clairvoyance to foresee this ruling.

So almost all saw this coming. Almost all let the LGBTQ and allies celebrate their victory unmolested. There were rainbow sprinkles all over Facebook, and, with triumphalism, rainbow lighting on the White House. Not exactly tactful or magnanimous.


Some GOP presidential candidates said stupid things, but that's an everyday occurrence. Let's see, Bobby Jindal called for the money-saving move of abolishing the Supreme Court. I wonder if he followed up with a paean to the Constitution. Based on headlines, Jindal won the 'GOP leader stupid contest' over the perennial winner Ted Cruz. Cruz was probably runner-up, though, with the suggestion that Supreme Court justices face elections every 8 years. This idea suffers from being too complex, especially compared to Jindal's simple and pure stupidity.

Culture warriors warn of several looming crises.
  1. The polygamists are coming!
  2. The pedophiles are coming!
  3. It won't be safe to express anti-gay beliefs.
  4. Churches will lose their tax-exempt status.
  5. This is the final straw that ends marriage in the US.
  6. This is the final straw that ends the American experiment in democracy.
  7. Anyone who doesn't cheer on same-sex marriage will risk losing their job.
Except for the panicking dissenting justices, there aren't many who are still predicting the swift demise of the US, so the response is more moderate than expected. After all, not all these looming crises are completely ludicrous. No, pedophilia won't be legalized, but the concerns about the chilling of viewpoints are well founded. (More posts later on that.)

One fascinating thing I learned is how widespread the gay pride movement is. I looked for images of the rainbow flag, and found it in Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Turkey, Israel, Russia, Serbia, Taiwan, Cambodia, China, and a huge number of images for India. The movement for tolerance is a world-wide phenomenon, not just a parochial battle in the US culture war. I still haven't grasped how momentous this movement is.


Extra. Perhaps before he left for Italy (judging from the tone), Dreher wrote a hilarious post about the future. It includes: polygamy, gay gated communities, all marriages gone queer, and no religious institutions left standing. No irrationality there! Here is Chicken Little:
"I remember a time, practically the day before yesterday, when conservatives who warned that gay marriage would inevitably deconstruct marriage and family entirely were called paranoid bigots."
This prediction is based on one gay novelist's imagination of life in 2035. But that is enough to declare "gay marriage [will] inevitably deconstruct marriage and family entirely." Yeah, right.