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Saturday October 9, 2004

Furious George

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday October 2, 2004


I need to set aside some time to update my blog links. In the meantime, try Shrillblog, which Brad DeLong, among others, posts to. It's a fun day-to-day account of the growing roll call of the shrill; shrillness being an trait the kook pews attributed early on to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who just happens to be very articulate and incisive in his columns on the Bush gang's corruption. Shrillness is not just for Paul Krugman anymore. Thankfully, others have are now taking up the nasty task of writing clearly and honestly about President Daddy's Little Fuckup.

And speaking of shrill:

A Solid Win for Kerry

The East German judges at National Review are awarding points to Kerry:

The Corner on National Review Online: FAIR'S FAIR [Andrew Stuttaford] Kerry is right that nuclear proliferation is the most serious threat to the US (and he’s right, incidentally, about the bunker busters). He’s also right that the administration has not done enough about this threat.
If that's what you think, Andrew--biggest threat, Bush hasn't done enough--then why aren't you out there working for Kerry?

The East German judges... Wow. That's pretty shrill.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday October 1, 2004

Advertising It

The Gay Financial Network is reporting that the CommercialCloset, a website that tracks how business uses images of gay and lesbian people in advertising, has had to go off line after being overwhelmed by traffic from religious right sites. The hits began when organizers of a boycott of Proctor and Gamble products found a four year old P&G ad targeting the gay community on the site. It is a probable, that the site was not merely experiencing heavy traffic due from a link at the boycott organizer's site, but that it was the victim of a Denial Of Service attack:

On Tuesday, the group's Web campaign against P&G included a link to the Commercial Closet site, condemning a four-year-old print ad for Downy Wrinkle Release, produced by P&G for the magazine Xtra, which has a gay and lesbian readership.

"A company doesn't create and run an ad that leaves the impression that homosexual sex is thrilling and exciting unless they support the homosexual agenda," read AFA's article on the group's Web site Wednesday.

The ad for Downy Wrinkle Release features wrinkled clothes tossed on the floor in front of a bed; in the background the blurry images of two men sitting on the bed can be seen, with the caption: "You were more concerned with taking them off than folding them up."

According to the AFA Web site, the ad created by P&G "leaves the impression that homosexual sex is normal, thrilling and exciting."

Mike Wilke, founder of the Commercial Closet Web site, which features 85 years of gay images in advertising worldwide, said the site began getting flooded with hundreds of emails Tuesday night quoting bible passages and others that said gays will "die in hell."

By midday Wednesday, the site was forced to shut down, after it began receiving more than 20 hits a second.

This is not the first time that the religious right has attacked Proctor and Gamble. In the 1980s and 90s, The American kook pews were easily suckered into boycotting P&G products by a rumor campaign, likely started by business rivals, to the effect that the P&G corporate logo was a satanic symbol. Next thing the company knew, they were getting deluged with calls from christian conservatives, for a boycott of their products. To this day, some of them believe that the company president appeared, either on the Phil Donnahue show (in some accounts it was the Sally Jesse Raphael show) and swore allegiance to satan.

Dobson may not be seeing the number 666 in the beard of the man in the moon on P&G's logo now, but the sight of a fortune 500 company opposing anti-gay discrimination in its own backyard was bound to get the same reaction from him. Dobson, who himself shook hands with satan long ago, when he decided to make a career out of rousing violent religious passions toward same sex lovers, knows he cannot allow large American corporations to treat gay and lesbian Americans as if they were just another market. Homosexuals are to Dobson, as Jews were to Himmler, and any company that crafts images of homosexuals as ordinary people, even if it is just to market products to them, is intolerable, because it undercuts his ability to make demons out of them.

But religious hatred acknowledges no master. From John Aravosis' AMERICABlog, comes news that a billboard off a Virginia highway, for the religious right ex-gay group P-FOX, was defaced recently. Here's what their press release has to say about it:

The vandalism of our billboard is another example of the intolerance ex-gays often face. We pray for those who tried to suppress our message, and we are as determined as ever to support the right of self-determination for those who seek help for unwanted same sex attractions.

We see from this attack, and numerous hateful emails we have received from gay activists, that our message is clear, but unsettling...

There is an unsettling aspect to this billboard all right, but not the one they're spinning. Here is a closer look at the damage

It sure looks like a paintball gun attack. What's telling, is that it is only the figure of the young man and the area immediately around him that is hit. Not the message, not the P-FOX logo or name. They were shooting at the guy. The guy identified in the billboard as an ex gay. That distinction, 'ex', is lost on the violent homophobe. Look at those blood red paintball hits again. The target was the guy, not the message.

Anti-gay hatred, stirred up by the religious right, is so intense now in Virginia, that the statehouse there was able to pass a sweeping law, that by some accounts takes away from same sex couples the ability to so much as hold a joint checking account together. Legal experts have called it a "jaw dropping" attack on gay and lesbian citizens, and it passed with a veto proof majority in the statehouse of the state where Pat Robertson called down hurricanes and terrorist attacks on Orlando Florida, when it dared to allow rainbow flags to fly one Pride day, the state where Jerry Falwell, who once stood beside Anita Bryant and declared that "a homosexual will kill you, as soon as look at you." preaches that gay people are trying to destroy America.

Advertising. You can be certain, that the chilling irony of all those blood red paintball gun hits on one of their ex gay posterboys won't give the parents of P-FOX a moment's pause. Yes...that could be my son riddled with bullet holes...but I'd rather he was dead then homosexual anyway... That billboard was not vandalized, it's subtext was made clear by the messages's real audience: that young male age group who is most responsible for violent attacks against homosexuals.

There must be no homosexuals...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday September 29, 2004

Sweet Land Of Torture

By way of Brad DeLong, I see that A. Michael Froomkin gives us the fundamental reason that moral, patriotic Americans cannot vote republican in this, or any election in the foreseeable future. Simply put, the party is utterly indistinguishable from the blood thirsty tyrants and despots it has always claimed to be defending America against: Voting Republican This Year = Voting for Torture: It’s not enough that Rumsfeld and probably Bush not just tacitly condoned but actively encouraged studies of optimal torture regimes, creating a climate in which undeniable and disgusting torture was used against Iraqi civilians, including children. And at Guantanamo (more). Even they at least had the hypocrisy to attempt to do the Iraq torture planning under wraps. (Hypocrisy being “the tribute vice pays to virtue”.) Meanwhile, at home, being too delicate to torture domestically, the Administration quietly subcontracted the job to Syria. (See my post almost exactly a year ago, Maher Arar Affair: What is the Pluperfect of ‘Cynic’?.)

Comes now a group of Congressional Republicans who are pure vice, and are not even trying to hide it: they have proposed that US law be amended to remove protections against torture — ie to legitimate torture, to plan to torture — for people we label “terrorists” (modern unpersons). The full horrid details are at Obsidian Wings: Legalizing Torture. The key move would be to exclude “terrorists” from the protection of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The “terrorists” could be held in secret unless they could somehow overcome (without lawyers or witnesses?) a presumption of guilt. When they failed to overcome this impossible burden they could be subject to “extraordinary rendition” which is bureaucrat for “being ported or transferred to a country that may engage in torture”—a deportation that currently would be a serious violation of US law.

Anyone who votes for people capable of supporting these policies has blood on their hands. Not to mention what they are doing to the image of the US as the ‘City on the Hill’, the beacon to mankind. Once we descend into the torture pit, we’re just arguing about circles in Hell.
by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday September 27, 2004

The Heart Of The Moral Crusade: Karl Rove

In this day and age of cell phones, email and blogs, orhestrating such a thing as a whisper campaign seems anachronistic. But then, we're dealing with a bunch of witch burners here.

Joshua Marshall has a piece up you should read, about one of Karl Rove's little whisper campaigns in Alabama. This, you may recall, is the same Karl Rove who started a whisper campaign in South Carolina, that John McCain's adopted Indian daughter was actually his child by a black mistress. Of course you know it didn't start with John McCain in South Carolina:

An article out this week in The Atlantic Monthly focuses specifically on a series of races Rove ran in Texas and Alabama in the 1990s.

The Alabama races in particular haven't gotten that much national press attention in the past. And one of the most lizardly passages in the article describes how Rove launched a whispering campaign against one Democratic opponent suggesting that the candidate -- a sitting Alabama state Supreme Court Justice, who had long worked on child welfare issues -- was in fact a pedophile ...

When his term on the court ended, he chose not to run for re-election. I later learned another reason why. Kennedy had spent years on the bench as a juvenile and family-court judge, during which time he had developed a strong interest in aiding abused children. In the early 1980s he had helped to start the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama, and he later established the Corporate Foundation for Children, a private, nonprofit organization. At the time of the race he had just served a term as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect. One of Rove's signature tactics is to attack an opponent on the very front that seems unassailable. Kennedy was no exception.

Some of Kennedy's campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children. "We were trying to counter the positives from that ad," a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the See camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile. "It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information," the staffer went on. "That was a major device we used for the transmission of this stuff. The students at the law school are from all over the state, and that's one of the ways that Karl got the information out—he knew the law students would take it back to their home towns and it would get out." This would create the impression that the lie was in fact common knowledge across the state. "What Rove does," says Joe Perkins, "is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin', tobacco-chewin', pickup-drivin' kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile. That was really, really hard to take."

Rove works for Bush. There is no way in hell Bush doesn't know the kind of in the gutter campaign Rove wages. They're birds of a feather.

What Rove does is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Remember this the next time you see a commerical for a republican candidate, emphasizing their own family, and by way of that, their concern for the welfare of families. The republican machine goes after the families of their opponants, deliberately, as a kind of political blackmail, to get them to quit the race or watch their families suffer. Republicans regard the families of their enemies as soft targets. This is how republicans win races. It is also how they govern.

Family Values.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday September 23, 2004

A Brief Glance Into The Pit

Novelist E.L. Doctorow takes a look, and sees the man.

He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the 1,000 dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.


He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

Yet this president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing -- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends.

A war will do that as well as anything. You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children. He is the president who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead, he does not feel for the 35 million of us who live in poverty, he does not feel for the 40 percent who cannot afford health insurance, he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills - it is amazing for how many people in this country this president does not feel.

But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest 1 percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the quality of air in coal mines to save the coal miners' jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their time-and-a-half benefits for overtime because this is actually a way to honor them by raising them into the professional class.

And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it.


The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble.

There is more to this of course. There is the large percentage of Americans who look at this president and see him as one of their own. He is their champion, their embodiment, the perpetual failure, who grabbed the handles of power, and smirking, puts his thumbs into the eyes of his betters.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday September 19, 2004

Postcard From The Fight For Marriage...

As I gave my paralyzed life partner, Phil Anderson, a urinary tract flush on a recent Monday night, his catheter failed. Following two unsuccessful attempts to replace the catheter and a phone call to an emergency room nurse at the Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, we were able to correct his problem on the third try. I got to bed at 1 a.m. and was up at 4 a.m.

The following Wednesday night after I returned to our Kenosha home from making a work-related presentation at a courthouse in Waukegan, Ill., Phil had a temperature of 105 degrees. I slept on a couch so I could get up and put cold compresses on his head. He sleeps in a hospital bed in our sunroom because he has no access to the two bedrooms on our second floor. I had about two hours of sleep that night.

So, when I read columns and letters about gays wanting to get married so rice can be thrown at the ceremony and that loving couples like us are a threat to the "sanctity of marriage," I get angry...

What threat to marriage? - The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

I'll bet he does. Go read the rest of it. It reminds me of a moment during the Sharon Kowalski/Karen Thompson crisis years ago. Kowalski, for those of you unfamiliar with the story, was severely injured in an automobile accident, brain damaged and in need of constant care, and her parents fought a nearly decade long fight to keep her and her lover, Thompson, apart. At one point during the fight, Kowalski's father was quoted as asking, pathetically, what Thompson wanted with his daughter now, "she's in diapers." To the Orson Scott Cards of the world, the love between same sex couples can only be a cheap imitation of the real thing. Gay couples just play house, and nothing more. When evidence of the reality of our feelings stand right in front of them, they flounder for some excuse, any excuse, that will explain it away, so they don't have to see it, so they don't have to see the humanity within us.

Bill Hetland is now taking care of his disabled life partner Phil Anderson, from the same basic attachment of love that kept him by Anderson's side before he was disabled; because when you're in love, your lover's well being, their happiness, is all that matters, because their needs are your needs, because when they hurt, you hurt, because when they smile, you smile. It's not sacrifice. They are the reason life is sweet. They are your proof, that life is good. Love. You do what you must, so long as it means you are still together. Our relationships will always seem unreal to others, as long as they insist on believing that homosexuals don't love, they just have sex.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

God Being Easy To Fool Like That...

Still ruminating on Jimmy Swaggart's sermon the other day. It is such a naked expression of the rotten to the core morals of the religious right that it's hard not to keep looking at it.

I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died.

"I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died." Swaggart opens his trench coat and gives the world a peek at the naked man underneath. And it is not a God fearing man of righteousness you see in the moment before looking away, but a squalid evil little runt, who would kill another man for finding beauty in him, who shakes his fist at God for creating a world where men love, and are loved by men. I'll do it...and lie to God about it afterward..." Oh you will, will you...?

"Where is Able thy brother?"
"I cannot tell, am I my brother's keeper?"

It's worth noting that his audience applauded after he said it. If it shocked anyone there in that moment, I couldn't tell watching the video. These are people who are comfortable with the idea of looking God in the face and lying through their teeth. And they insist that they know more about living a moral life then the rest of us.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday September 18, 2004

It's Not About Hate...Oh What The Hell...Yes It Is...

Quickly many times have you heard a spokes droid for the religious right say that they don't hate homosexuals, that their vitriolic opposition to anything that even looks like gay rights is really based on their compassion for homosexuals? How many times? Too many to count? Me too. Surprised by the following?

CRTC, station receive complaint over comments by Sunday morning evangelist

An Ottawa viewer's complaint about "outrageous" comments on homosexuality by U.S. evangelist Jimmy Swaggart has sparked an apology by the television station, and a complaint to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Vance Strickland wrote to Omni 1, a multicultural station based in Toronto, and to the CRTC after stumbling across the show on Sunday. According to a transcript of the program, Mr. Swaggart said: "I'm trying to find the correct name for it ... this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men. ... I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died." Sandy Zwyer, Omni 1's spokesperson, said Mr. Swaggart's remarks were "a serious breach" of regulations, and the station manager is reviewing the tape of the program.

The National Post (Canada)

Me either.


Talk to the people in rural Pine Grove, Ala., who knew Scotty Joe Weaver and they’ll tell you one thing: The 18-year-old seemed to survive anything life threw at him.

At age 10 he fought off cancer through two grueling years of chemotherapy. At 15 he lost his father. Throughout his high school years in the nearby town of Bay Minette, he weathered the taunts and teases of classmates for being gay. “He always knew how to get through,” remembers his friend Justin Toth, who is also gay. “He had fun even at the worst times in his life.”

This time, however, Weaver did not survive.

He was brutally killed outside Pine Grove, his southern Alabama hometown of less than 1,000 people near the Florida panhandle. Some officials are speculating that it was a hate crime.

On July 22 a man driving an all-terrain vehicle discovered a burned body in a remote field about eight miles from Weaver’s trailer home. The autopsy showed Weaver had been beaten, strangled, stabbed multiple times, doused with gasoline, and set afire. Investigators believe the teen was tied to a chair and killed in his home. “It took a very long and painful time for him to die,” says Baldwin County district attorney David Whetstone, who believes the injuries didn’t all happen at once and that the severity of the wounds suggests Weaver was killed because he was gay.

One of the suspects charged in the case was Weaver’s best friend since the first grade—18-year-old Nichole Bryars Kelsay. Also charged with capital murder are Christopher Ryan Gaines, 20, and Robert Holly Lofton Porter, 18. As the three sit in jail awaiting their trial, the town is struggling to understand how the life of such a tenacious teen could end so horribly...

Scotty's last moments - The Advocate

How could it happen? How could it not. When religious leaders incite religious passions toward minority groups, this is exactly what happens. This is exactly what is supposed to happen. When you have religious leaders telling at them, that the "gay agenda" is a bigger threat to the United States then Al Qaeda, what they are doing is inciting violence. When they wave Leviticus at gay and lesbian Americans, they are telling their followers that god wants homosexuals killed, and don't worry, the bible says their blood is on them, not you.

How could it happen? In a nation where freedom of religion is a basic principle, and decent people just sit passively in the pews while the figure behind the pulpit screams at them to hate their neighbor, hate them with every fiber in their body, in the name of Christ, or else god will destroy their country, and they just continue to sit there even though they are free in this country to get up, get out, and find another church where the message is to love your neighbor, not hate them in the name of Christ then murder is not hard to understand at all. Murder, is what is being called for from the pulpits of America on Sundays, and every other day of the week. Murder has been the sermon in America for years. And for years the rest of the country has been trying to ignore it, doing its best not to look at the hate coming in waves from the pulpits. And for years it has been killing gay and lesbian Americans.

We shall see how defenders of the Church take pains to distinguish between "anti-Judaism" and "antisemitism"; between Christian Jew-hatred as a "necessary but insufficient" cause of the Holocaust; between the "sins of the children" and the sinlessness of the Church as such. These distinctions become meaningless before the core truth of this history: Because the hatred of Jews had been made holy, it became lethal.
-James Carroll, "Constantine's Sword"

"Love the sinner, hate the sin" is a piece of doggerel that is long past the point of being even plausible self deception. It has been buried in the wave upon wave of anti-gay rhetoric coming from the religious right this presidential campaign. Anyone who excuses their hate mongering now, as being nothing other then expressions of deeply held religious beliefs, as opposed to the exhortations to murder they are, and have always been, have no right to call themselves moral men or women. They are indifferent to anti-gay hate, and the religious leaders who incite it. And that indifference is what allows hate to become murder.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

According To Our Polling, Bush Won The Popular Vote In 2000 By Six Percentage Points

The reason Bush seems to have such a strong lead in the major polls like Gallup's these days turns out to be a simple one: They're oversampling republians.

The Gallup Poll, despite its reputation, assumes that this November 40% of those turning out to vote will be Republicans, and only 33% will be Democrat. You read that correctly. I asked Gallup, who have been very courteous to my requests, to send me this morning their sample breakdowns by party identification for both their likely and registered voter samples they use in these national and I suspect their state polls. This is what I got back this morning:

Likely Voter Sample Party IDs - Poll of September 13-15
Reflected Bush Winning by 55%-42%

Total Sample: 767
GOP: 305 (40%)
Dem: 253 (33%)
Ind: 208 (28%)

Registered Voter Sample Party IDs - Same Poll
Reflected Bush Winning by 52%-44%

Total Sample: 1022
GOP: 381 (38%)
Dem: 336 (33%)
Ind: 298 (30%)

In both polls, Gallup oversamples greatly for the GOP, and undersamples for the Democrats. Worse yet, Gallup just confirmed for me that this is the same sampling methodology they have been using this whole election season, for all their national and state polls. Gallup says that "This (the breakdown between Reeps and Dems) was not a constant. It can differ slightly between surveys" in response to my latest email. Slightly? Does that mean that in all of these national and state polls we have seen from Gallup that they have "slightly" varied between 36%-40% GOP and 32%-36% Democrat? I already know from an email I got from Gallup earlier in the week that in their suspicious Wisconsin and Minnesota polls they seemingly oversampled for the GOP and undersampled for the Dems. For example in Wisconsin, in which they show Bush now with a healthy lead, Gallup used a sample comprised of 38% GOP and 32% Democratic likely voters. In Minnesota where Gallup shows Bush gaining a small lead, their sample reflects a composition of 36% GOP and 34% Democrat likely voters. How realistic is either breakdown in those states on Election Day?

By Steve Soto, The Left Coaster

Gallup's CEO, surprise, surprise, is a GOP donor. Lying and cheating, are family values.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday September 14, 2004

Tales From George Bush's America...(continued)

A gay man has been barred from entering the Hawaii State Library for one year, after a security guard saw him reading

He was told that was a pornographic site. When a local gay rights organization took up the matter, they were told by a library official that the guard issued the warning because the Web site contained photos of shirtless men.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday September 11, 2004

What Steve Said

I shouldn't have taken my laptop along. But no...I have to go check on the path of hurricane Ivan, and then I check in with Atrios and see that he thinks the right has succeeded in destroying the Bush memo's credibility. He quotes Digby.

Steve Gilliard isn't having any of it. I agree with Steve. The Wurlitzer is actually blowing this one.

And one other thing: I can't see how today's 9-11 remembrances are helping Bush any. People see the images from then replayed on TV...and what's happened since then? Al-Quida is still making threats, and if the connection to what happened at that Russian school just a few days ago is true, still killing hundreds of innocent people. The Taliban has retaken a third of Afghanistan. Osama is still out there. Somewhere. One of his henchmen just released another threat the other day.

When I arrived here on the Navajo reservation the other day, I picked up a copy of the Navajo Times, and learned that a young Navajo Marine, Lance Cpl. Quinn A. Keith, was killed the other day in Iraq. The headline made him the third Navajo killed in Iraq. After 9-11 Bush had the whole world behind him, for the fight against the terrorists, and instead of taking on the enemy he uses all that good will, all the lives lost on 9-11, and all the lost lives to come, to go and settle an old Bush family score, make a few of his neo-conservative pals happy, and himself and some of his other pals rich. I don't know if Atrios and Digby are right about the Bush gang never having to answer for their crimes, but I know we should all work toward that day no matter what, or for sure it will never come.

Now. I am going back into the desert and I am not coming out again for a couple of days. I swear to god I am not turning this laptop back on again tomorrow.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Kayenta Break Time

I'm in my favorite little town in the southwest, Kayenta, and I'm taking a break from posting for a few days. I came out here to rest and recover from all the layoff stress at work, and just life in general. Out here, just minutes away from Monument Valley, I'm going to try to slow down to desert time, relax, and unwind. This place is beautiful, everywhere you turn around to look it is beautiful, every little road you take a drive down it is beautiful. The weather here has been producing bright puffy little clouds that is painting slow moving shadows all over the rock formations, and if you take the time to watch you see them change right before your eyes. What seemed a flat wall of rock actually has a small group of chimney-like columns, stretching out from the main formation. What seemed a smooth round bread dough like formation actually has bends and twists in it. As the shadows move across the land new things are always coming out of it.

And it's quiet out here. When you get out of town a few minutes, only the occasional passing car, which you can hear coming for miles, disturbs the silence. In the far distance you might here a horse neigh, or some small critter chirp, or if you're wandering close to one of the big rock formations, an eagle call. Otherwise, you are walking in a silence the likes of which you will never hear on the east coast. You can hear yourself breathing it is so quiet.

I suppose it would drive some people nuts. But it relaxes me like nothing else seems to. the desert, you can remember your name... Work, though I love it, has been stressful. Politics these days is enormously stressful. The relentless ugliness of the opposition to gay and lesbian civil rights, can make you forget what that decent life you're still fighting for looks like. Without a doubt when I get back to my life back east, I'm going to be glad of having had this time to get as far away from all of that as humanly possible, look a million year old rock formation in the face, and remember a thing or two about what being a human being means.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to watch the sun rise over Monument Valley and turn fifty-one. Talk with you after that.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday September 9, 2004

Internet...? What's That...?

Last night I stayed in Torrey, Utah. Today I'm in Kanab. At least here I have a lousy dial up connection (which can't seem to do better then 24k). In Torrey I could use dial-up, if I was willing to spend 13 dollars a minute just to use my 800 number connection.

I've got stuff to post...but at the moment it doesn't look like I'll be doing much posting. Hell...I can't even download my mail with the connection I've got. It keeps timing out.

Hopefully I'll have something better in Kayenta tomorrow. I'll be staying there through the weekend, and I'll fill you in then.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday September 7, 2004

Searching For The Fading Tracks Of Other Travelers

Traveling though southern Kansas via state highway 400 wasn't as fast as taking I-70 but it was rewarding in its own way. I got to see a lot of the wide open plains, where once upon a time the first wagon trains rolled west. I drove though lots of small villages and towns, most of which seemed huddled around the big grain elevators that you can see for miles across the nearly flat landscape. It wasn't barren. In fact, there were a lot more trees then I'd expected. Further north, west of Salina, the trees become very sparse, and the land mostly open prairie. That didn't happen on 400 until past Dodge City, and even then it wasn't as empty as much of the drive west on I-70.

I wanted to visit Dodge City this trip, to see a little of the history of the west. Last trip I visited Tombstone and while it is mostly a tourist attraction now, it still has many of the original buildings standing. You could stand in the middle of the main street, which from the old photographs I saw really hasn't changed all that much, and get a feeling of what it must have been like to be standing there in the old west. Dodge is a famous old west city, and all I knew of it was what I'd seen on TV and in the movies. I knew there were distortions in the Hollywood image before I'd visited Tombstone. But actually seeing Tombstone was a revelation. It's in the middle of nowhere. Tombstone was started over a silver strike. There is nothing else nearby to even think of making a living on. No major rivers or streams. Just miles and miles of miles and miles. A small rough scrub grows in patches all around the territory. I hear there were cattlemen there, but I can't figure how they managed it.

So you have to see the old west cities in their context. Dodge was part of the Santa Fe trail, established west of Fort Dodge, after the fort commander decided he didn't want alcohol served on the military reservation. Someone paced out the exact distance away from the fort to be off the reservation (five miles) and opened a bar, and thus Dodge City was born. It became a trade center along the Santa Fe trail, and then a cattle town when the railroad came through. For a time, there was no law in Dodge. It was an open town that became known as the wickedest little city in the west. Though there is a "Boot Hill" in Tombstone, the Dodge claims the original, established where a man was shot and then buried where he fell with his boots on. I think probably they were all called "Boot Hill" in those days.

Approaching Dodge from the east, you pass the cattle pens. Dodge is still a big cattle interest, and I saw meat plants as I drove through bearing names familiar from tainted meat alerts over the years. I drove into town and looked for Front Street, which was the historic main street from the old days. As 400 passed a small railroad yard, I thought I saw it, and pulled off. There was a large parking lot, which I surmised was for tourists. A row of oldish looking buildings faced it. I parked and walked over.

My first hint that something was amiss came largely from the fact that there just wasn't anyone around. It was Labor Day, and there should have been tourists. As I walked along the row of buildings, I noticed a few cheap food joints and a small gift shop, that sold stuff you might expect to see at a convenience store. Nearly everything else was closed. So I walked around the block. On the other side was "Gunsmoke Street". It was empty. A marquee over Dodge Theater said simply "Support Our Downtown". I walked back to what I thought was front street and found a wall with old pictures of Dodge, and some history. The pictures of Front Street I saw looked nothing like where I was standing, and as it turned out, there was a reason for that.

I saw the dreaded words Urban Renewal in the text. Apparently in the 1960s, the city government decided that Front Street was dilapidated and attracting the wrong sort of people to town (imagine that...the wrong sort of people coming to Dodge...) and so with part of the Federal Government urban renewal grant money that was flowing around those days, they decided to level Front Street. The literally turned it into a parking lot. The same lot, as it happened, that they'd set aside for tourists. Swell. Plenty of parking. Nothing to see though.

Well...not nothing exactly. What do you do when you destroyed your city's history? Why, you build a replica. I kid you not. They built a replica of the old Front Street just a block away.

I was appalled and disgusted. I nearly drove off right then but I figured I'd give it a chance. I walked over to the fake Front Street and peeked at it through the fence. It looked nothing like the old pictures I saw on the wall. In fact, it looked more like an Interstate 40 faux old west gift shop row then an actual old west street. I walked into the replica Great Western Hotel, the entrance to the fake Front Street. Inside was the same kind of tourist crap you can buy anywhere along Interstate 40 west of Amarillo.

Time to get out of Dodge...

I drove west. A few miles outside of Dodge I saw a sign, pointing to a place on a nearby hill, where there were wagon ruts from the old Santa Fe trail still visible. I stopped and walked up the hill to them. It was open prairie, and the wind was constant. The prairie undulated slightly. To my south I could see for miles, to my north, the horizon was much closer. There was placards placed near the trail which explained how the ruts were fading, and you had to look closely at the differences in plant growth and subtle changes in the terrain to detect them. The old wagon tracks the placards said, were best seen as the sun went down.

I stood in the prairie wind and tried to imagine what it would be like to cross this land in those times, but I probably can't. I have the space satellite view of earth those first travelers didn't. I can fit what I am looking at on the ground, with satellite images of it I've seen countless times. I have a car that can take me from one side of the country to the other in just a few days. And I have a cell phone, that can let me speak with friends back east at the touch of a few buttons. I came out here to relax.

But I tried. I stood in the prairie wind and looked around and thought it must have felt like crossing the ocean. The land rolls and swells here like a sea, and it seems to go on forever. You take your wagon and you go over the horizon and you leave all your family and friends behind and its just you and the endless space and the wind touching your face, playing with your hair, as it rushes from lonely horizon to the next.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Technical Difficulties

I have no idea what happened last night, but for some reason I could not only upload new pages to my web host, the pages I did try to upload all resulted in just a few lines of HTML that produced nothing but a blank page. This morning I uploaded from a different location and it worked. I suspect that for some reason the hotel ISP was blocking ftp. Only it wasn't really blocking it, just sending crap back to my web host. Strange. At first I thought my web host was experiencing difficulties, but when I checked this morning it was the same, so I tried another location and then I was able to upload my pages. I have no clue as to what was going on. I'd expect a blocked ftp port to just do nothing. But every time I tried to upload last night, the connection seemed to hang, and my web page had this strange HTML on it that wasn't even a fragment of what I'd sent. It was a complete page, but essentially just the HTML and BODY tags on it, both the open and close tags. Strange. I'll have to look into it later.

If it happens again, I'll switch to the 800 number dialup ISP I signed on to and deal with the slow link.

Clear blue sky this morning in Pueblo. I'm heading though the mountains today. Last night when I checked in, the desk clerk said I might see snow along the way. Ack! I might need to buy a sweater.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday September 6, 2004

Into Colorado via Route 50

The southern route into Colorado is definitely the more scenic. I'm in Pueblo now, and it's late so I don't have an update. Except I'll tell you what, I'm getting spoiled by all the free high speed internet access I've been getting this trip. Suddenly a lot of motels are offering it. Sometimes it's wireless, sometimes you have to connect via an ethernet cable. But I had free broadband in Terre Haute, in Wichita, I saw it offered at least in one motel in La Junta, and it's here in Pueblo. Nice. I went to a bit of trouble to set up an 800 dial-up internet connection before I left, since that isn't offered by Verizon as part of their DSL service. Now it looks like I'm not going to need it. But I'm not complaining.

If all goes according to plan I'll be stopping early in Grand Junction, and I'll post a more thorough update then.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday September 5, 2004


We interrupt this Get Away From It All travelogue to let a little of George Bush's America intrude. But it's important.

A young republican was videotaped during the convention kicking a protestor as she was being held on the ground by three secret service agents. The protestor was arrested, the republican who kicked her was not. A search is on for his identity. If so, reply here.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Followed By A Rainbow.

The drive through the decaying part of St. Louis wasn't as much a shock this trip as it's been in the past, but it's still a gruesome sight. Block after block after block of urban decay...buildings gutted, almost as if by fire, but by neglect instead. Row houses whose roofs have collapsed next to factories and warehouses with blank staring windows, behind which are gutted interiors. They grin back at the highway like bleached skulls in a desert. Last trip I passed a small Safeway grocery store that was still open and doing business. I was amazed to see that there were still people living among the ruins. How could anyone live in that nightmare? Well, if you have no where else to go, you live in a nightmare. This trip, the Safeway was closed.

Several miles west of St. Louis, I passed a large billboard with the banner JOIN THE SONS OF THE CONFEDERACY on it. Above the bold lettering was a narrow strip that read Defend Your Heritage. Below it, another narrow strip that read Visit The Historic Barton Plantation.

The interstate is littered with billboards, some merely ad hoc handmade signs, that warn you to accept Jesus now or burn in hell forever. They don't preach love in these parts, or at any rate, not a healthy love. There are about three times as many billboards advertising adult entertainment of one kind or another..."gentleman's clubs", sex toy emporiums and so forth. I guess that's where you go for love in a place where the churches all preach hate.

Right up to the moment I turned off I-70, I wasn't sure I was going to do the drive to Wichita and Dodge. The drive will be mostly along small state highways and roads and I can not be sure of finding a good spot to bed down for the night, and travel shopping along the interstate has me spoiled rotten. You almost don't have to pack anything if you just drive the interstates. Everything you need you can buy along the way. And if you break down, help is almost always close by. But you can't stop on the interstate and take pictures every time you see a good shot. And I want to see things I haven't seen before.

I was so certain of my path that I didn't bother to look at my Atlas before turning off for Wichita and ended up taking the wrong road. I'd planned on going down 235 from Topeka and instead turned down 435 at Kansas City. I realized my mistake after a few miles, but it lead to the same road Triple-A had designated a scenic route so I stayed on it. I wanted to drive down I-35 from Topeka just to see what kind of road they would call scenic at the edge of the great plains. Now, I find the plains lovely, but most people just think of them as a boring empty flatness. So I was curious.

The landscape starts to suggest the plains some time after Columbia. Prior to that you are in mostly a green rolling hill terrain that is suggestive of the Maryland Piedmonts, but not as lovely. West of Columbia you begin to notice that the land is getting flatter, and the distance to the horizon emptier. On this trip a haze, hanging thickly around the horizon, accompanied me from Indiana almost to Columbia. West of Columbia the sky began to open up and you could tell you were treading at the edge of the big spaces of the west. I was still in it by the time I got to Emporia though, with no sign of the plains in sight. I was beginning to think Triple-A has just designated a stretch of highway scenic, simply because it was a better then average example of this kind of landscape.

Kansas always seems to want to welcome me with a storm of some sort. I was some ways down I-35 and stopped for gas and noticed the big puffy clouds to my west; bright billowing white pile clouds with ominous darknesses lurking beneath. The wind was strong, like it was in 2002 when I brushed paths with two tornadoes. As I drove down the interstate I saw dark shafts of rain hanging off the bottoms of the clouds to my west and southeast, and more ominously, to the west, pale white threads dangling from the cloud bottoms to the ground, that could have been hail shafts. If that was what they were, I thought, that meant the storms were very strong.

I tried scanning the radio for any severe weather reports and found none (if I can find one, I'm going to buy a portable radio that picks up the NOAA weather reports). I scanned the clouds for any sign of rotation or a developing wall could, and didn't see any. I saw no lightning, but there was heavy static on the AM band. But this time it was just rain that hit me.

It was getting late, and I considered stopping at Emporia. When I got there I decided it wasn't inviting enough and kept on driving. The rain I got pummeled with a mile later made me question that decision. It started as a heavy downpour and then became a torrent, blasting the car as if I'd just driven under a waterfall. (Hey...I took off down the road early to avoid hurricane Frances for this reason!) I could vaguely see the SUV in front of me, and kept driving slowly, counting on the torrent to have another side somewhere down the road ahead of me.

The sky grew dark, but not pitch dark. The rain furiously pounded my little car. Then I saw daylight ahead. The sky abruptly cleared. And I was in the plains.

A breathtaking expanse of open space surrounded the highway. My car was zooming over gently rolling treeless hills that flowed from horizon to horizon like a sea of glistening grass. In the distance, dark shafts of rain walked over the hills in front of a sky that was bright and golden. Behind me, the brightest most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen arched in a perfect half circle from one side of the sky to the other. As the interstate rose and dipped over the hills, I saw a lovely landscape full of gentle bends and folds weave around it. There were cattle, and a few lonely windmills dotting the landscape. I crested a small rise and saw some sort of yellow flower covering the plains to my west, as if that part of the rainbow behind me had lightly brushed over the grass.

The rainbow followed me to El Dorado, at times splitting into a double rainbow, then fading away just as I entered the city. I drove on to Wichita. As I unpacked, the remains of the passing storm lit up in brilliant reds and oranges.

Tomorrow, I'll drive to Dodge City, and then follow the Santa Fe trail into Colorado.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Road Dream

Maybe some shrink can figure this one out...

I'm working at the office, but for some reason the Space Telescope Science Institute has spread its offices all across some Kansas plain. My desk is under a tree near the intersection of two small dirt roads. In the distance I can see one of my office mates, James, one of our testers. He is nowhere near talking, or even shouting distance to me. All my other co-workers are scattered, somehow I know this, somewhere over the plains horizon. Luckily, there is email.

James sends me an email, telling me he sees a problem I should come look at. So I walk for an hour or so over to James' desk, which is surrounded by tall stalks of plains wheat. When I get there, and look at his screen, I determine that his network connection is going in and out for some reason. I check the connection to his computer, and it seems fine. His power strip connection runs one way to the horizon, his network cable the other way. I tell him I think the connection at the other end is loose.

I walk off toward the distant flat horizon, following a small twisted pair cable across the plains, certain that when I get to the other end I'll find a loose plug. I follow that damn little cable impatiently across miles and miles of open plains, until I am the only person in sight. At some point before I wake up, I think to myself that the Institute really should go wireless.

Which we have actually. Mostly for the benefit of laptop users.

It's misty and rainy now in Terre Haute. There was some kind of drag strip near my hotel, and the blasting sound of drag racers cold be heard well into the night. Not the greatest location for a hotel I'm thinking. But I brought ear plugs.

Back to the road...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday September 4, 2004


Out of character, I actually spent a whole two weeks leisurely sorting out my travel needs this year and gathering it together. this morning, I pretty much only had to unplug stuff and pack the car. I was on the road early. It felt good. I had put off this year's road trip because I didn't know whether or not I'd survive the layoffs at the Institute. The theory being that if I got laid off I'd need my accrued vacation time in cash (which is part of their severance package), and if I did survive I'd need the time to decompress afterward. By the time I got on the road this year I was still feeling very stressed. But a few hours travelling toward the great plains went a long way toward sloughing it off.

My plans are to travel off the interstate more this time around, particularly in Kansas and Colorado. I want to see the out of the way towns and vistas, and I especially want to travel down highways where, if I see some good photo possibilities, I can just pull over. You can't do that on the Interstate.

While I was driving down I-70 in Ohio, a mid sized SUV came up behind me, with two young male passengers inside. They looked like a couple of college seniors heading off to some Labor Day weekend getaway. The looked like the sort of young guys you might see any Friday night at your local sports bar. Average to slim builds (at least what I could see of them), short but not close cropped hair, and beautiful, intelligent faces. As they passed my car I recall thinking that they were both very good looking, and that the sight of two very good looking guys travelling alone together, particularly on a holiday weekend always makes you wonder if they're a couple. I remember turning that thought over a few times in my head, thinking that it might possibly be just some sort of bullshit stereotyping I was engaging in. Hell...can't a couple of young straight friends want get just away for a while, and just have each other's company for a couple of days?

Then, a few minutes after it passed me, the SUV started slowing down, and I noticed that the passenger was leaning his head on the driver's shoulder. As I passed the SUV I saw two beautiful young men, clearly and delightedly all kinds of in love with each other. As I looked in my rearview mirror, I saw the passenger plant a kiss on the driver's cheek.

Sweet! What you have to understand is that ours were among about a half dozen cars within eyeshot of each other on that stretch of Interstate. The other drivers and passengers couldn't have missed it. The couple didn't seem to care in the least. A happy couple.

It was a wonderful sight to start a road trip on. I perked up and drove all the way to Terre Haute with a smile and a glowing warm spot inside. I always worry about travelling in red state territory, and Ohio in particular has not been kind lately to its gay and lesbian citizens. Yet here was evidence that even now, even surrounded by all the hostility the religious right and the republican party can generate, things are way, Way different then they were when I was their age. We are a people that will let our love grow in the bright good light of day, like it should for everyone. More of us now then ever realize the honor and the dignity of our love. The closet is no place for it. The closet is no place for our lives to be lived. feels great to be alive...

[Edited slightly]

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday September 3, 2004

Well...Okay...Three Cartoons...

Jeeze. Something, probably the GOP convention, lit my fire this week. Between packing for my road trip and work I still managed to produce three cartoons. They're up on the cartoon page now.

God knows what the campaign will do to me when I get back. Well...anyway...

Road Trip!

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday September 2, 2004

Ack...Two More Cartoons!

Friday Night, before I leave for my road trip. Promise.

Republicans make me sit at my drafting table.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Makeup! Makeup, Dammit!

Atrios has a good picture posted of Zell Miller while he was doing his Pat Buchanan impersonation at the GOP convention. Why is it that these people always have the complexion of zombies looking for brains to eat?

Atrios also had this delicious catch afterward (which is Still on Miller's website):

My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend.

He was once a lieutenant governor – but he didn't stay in that office 16 years, like someone else I know. It just took two years before the people of Massachusetts moved him into the United States Senate in 1984.

In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington.

Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so.

John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment. Business Week magazine named him one of the top pro-technology legislators and made him a member of its "Digital Dozen."

John was re-elected in 1990 and again in 1996 – when he defeated popular Republican Governor William Weld in the most closely watched Senate race in the country.

John is a graduate of Yale University and was a gunboat officer in the Navy. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three awards of the Purple Heart for combat duty in Vietnam. He later co-founded the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Senator Zell Miller
Introduction of Senator John Kerry
Democratic Party of Georgia's
Jefferson-Jackson Dinner
March 1, 2001

You don't have to take your conscience around behind the barn and shoot it to be a republican. But it'll sure impress the leadership if you do.

Also...Tom Tomorrow is looking for a clip of that young republican who was caught on camera kicking that AIDS protestor on the convention floor. Oh...right...the compassion theme was the day before...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday September 1, 2004

It Turns Out Genocide Plays Well With The Base

Via Atrios, and War and Peace...The National Review is promoting a book by the spokesman for, indicted Bosnian Serb war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Under the headline, "What Muslims, multiculturalists, and the media hope you never find out about Islam", National Review is promoting a book by a man who mocked the world's concern over ethnic cleansing, and made excuses for a man who, even as he defended him, was committing genocide against muslims. He is on record as saying that "The Kosovo genocide" is the most outrageous lie of the year, perhaps the decade. It did not happen, period.

A few images from that which did not happen...

Fascists of a feather, flock together. And leopards don't change their spots. Of course they don't think ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity. Here's how the National Review defended the virtues of racism once upon a time:

The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes-the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.

National Review believes that the South's premises are correct. . . . It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.

William F. Buckley Jr.
The National Review, 1957.
by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday August 31, 2004

Okay...One More Cartoon...

I said this week's cartoon was the last before I took a vacation for September (considering my output for August was all of only two cartoons you can legitimately wonder if this is really a vacation or just more of the same...). But I am going to squeeze in one more before Friday. Just gotta. Yeah...Schrock.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Swift Boat Rebound

Hesiod, back briefly from blogger hiatus, thinks the Swift Boat Smear will rebound against Bush. I sure hope he's right.

I think, ultimately, the Swift Boat ads will backfire on Bush. That's pretty much conventional wisdom at this point. The first polls taken after the controversy erupted showed a slight amount of slippage in support for Kerry, which is not unexpected. Later polls will show a rebound effect for Kerry. But those won't manifest until a week or two after the GOP convention. There is another way in which these ads will rebound on the Bush campaign: It will make John Kerry a sympathetic figure to the millions of anti-Bush voters out there who were waning in their enthusiasm for the Democratic nominee. John Kerry has now entered the ranks of recent Democratic party martyrs, along with Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Max Cleland and even Gray Davis. Only the Bush campaign and radical Republicans could make Gray Davis a sympathetic figure. Those who had doubts about Kerry previously, are now enthusiastically supporting him. I predict Democratic voter turnout for this election will be at it's highest levels in decades...

Turnout, in general, had better be. Or we didn't learn our lessons from 2000. You sit out the process of democracy, you Will wake up to find your democracy gone one day. The fanatics Will vote. If decent people can't find the time in their day to vote too, then the fanatics will one day rule them.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Soul Of The Republican Party

Take a look at it:

They're calling this a swipe and John Kerry's purple heart at the GOP convention, but I don't see John Kerry's name anywhere on this. What I see is a purple heart...on a band-aid.

Of course they weren't thinking about the insult to the medal when they did this. Of course they weren't thinking about the insult to all the wounded soldiers who got the real thing. They could have put something on a band-aid like "John Kerry's Purple Heart", but they didn't. The GOP operative who created this did it from his gut, and every single GOP convention goer who gleefully put one on did it from their gut, utterly without thought that the insult might go way beyond its intended target. much thought did they give to them before they sent them into Iraq? I read somewhere recently, one of the Swift Boat Liars saying that if Kerry is defeated this election, it will be like the parade Vietnam vets never had. But at least during Vietnam, you could see their caskets coming home. Bush won't even allow that now, and the republicans are fine with it, because they're afraid that if Americans actually saw the cost of their splendid little war, they'd stop supporting it. So now, in this war, the wounded and the dead must be invisible. And now the republicans have reduced the Purple Heart to a band-aid. But of course.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday August 30, 2004

The Fire And The Metal

Rockin' good column on the Time Magazine site from Michael Kinsley:

What do we know about George W. Bush that we didn't know four years ago, when most of us voted for someone else? We ought to know a lot more. Never has anyone become President of the United States less pretested by life. And never has any President been tested so dramatically so soon after taking office.

He was born at the intersection of two elites—the Eastern Wasp establishment and the Texas oiligarchy. He gimme'd his way through America's top educational institutions. In his 40s, he was still a kid, hanging around his father's White House with not much to do. A decade later, without actually winning the most votes, he was President himself. The average gas-station attendant struggled harder to get where he or she is than did George W. Bush. Then came Sept. 11.


In four years, this small man had two historic opportunities to reach for greatness, to lead this country to a new and better place, and he passed up both. The first was when the Democrats patriotically bowed to a Supreme Court decision they believed to be wrong, if not corrupt, so that the U.S. could avoid a further constitutional crisis. What a moment for bipartisanship! Maybe put more than a token Democrat in the Cabinet? Not a chance.

George W. Bush's second opportunity came on Sept. 11, 2001. Past grievances suddenly seemed petty, current disagreements seemed irrelevant, and, even among Bush's opponents, desperate hope replaced sullen doubts that our nation's leader would be up to the task. Bush got this gift from the opposition—the suspension of dislike and disbelief—without doing anything to deserve it. He could have asked for and got anything he wanted in the weeks and months after 9/11.

And he decided to invade Iraq.

For once, George W. Bush was tested. And he flunked.

Go read the whole thing. I particularly liked the line about how Bush's stove hasn't been lit.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday August 29, 2004

Let Us Prey...

There is an unofficial rule that says in any discussion, when Nazism is invoked, that discussion has run its course and should be declared over. Well and good if the comparison is trite. But what about when the discussion is about right wing political fanatics? Then I think, Santayana's law, not Godwin's should prevail:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Via Atrios and John Aravosis... The opening prayers of the GOP convention will be led by a lady who compares support for same sex marriage, with support for Hitler. How...unsurprising. way of Atrios, this reply to Ms. Dew puts things into perspective:


Sheri Dew, President of Deseret Book and former member of the LDS Church Relief Society General Presidency, recently compared those who do not oppose gay marriage to those who did not oppose Hitler’s rise to power. It is not my intent to debate the pros and cons of gay marriage. Such a discussion with her would be pointless.

It is, however, mind boggling that she could make such a naive, outrageous and patently offensive statement. I can’t decide if she simply doesn’t understand the gravity of the Holocaust or if it was a calculated attempt to garner support for her point of view through the use of lies, fear tactics and sensationalistic rhetoric. Either way, it is a sad commentary coming from someone of her education and background.

I would have thought that the President of Deseret Book would at least be educated enough to know that homosexuals were also targeted by the Nazis. Homosexuals were arrested and sent to Dachau, Mauthausen and other concentration camps. Homosexuals were enslaved, beaten, raped, tortured and murdered alongside the Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, common criminals and other “undesireables” considered to be a threat to Hitler, morality and the Nazi Party. Unlike the others, however, upon liberation by the Allied Forces, homosexuals were sent to prison to complete their sentences. Murderers, thieves and other common criminals were released from the camps while homosexuals were re-imprisoned for their sexual orientation. To suggest that those who support gay marriage would have also supported the Nazis is illogical, dishonest and just plain stupid.

If Dew still wishes to ignore documented world history perhaps a refresher course in LDS church history is in order. Concerned members of the LDS Church in Germany asked then-president Heber J. Grant what they should do about Hitler’s rise in power. He told them not to make waves but rather to obey the 12th Article of Faith, which required them to honor and sustain their elected leaders. I could more accurately rephrase her statement to say those who oppose gay marriage are like the members of the LDS church who, at the counsel of their prophet, did not oppose Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Certainly she must aware of the story of Helmuth Hubener. Deseret Book has sold at least three books about him and one of its recent ad campaigns featured his story. He was an LDS youth who, with a few friends, secretly fought against Hitler and the Nazis. He was eventually arrested and executed for those actions but not before the LDS church excommunicated him for “conduct unbecoming a member of the church” or, as she so succinctly put it, opposing Hitler’s rise to power. By her comparison, the LDS leaders of the time, including President Heber J. Grant, were the type of people who would have supported gay marriage.

Maybe she should learn a little bit about Hitler and the Holocaust before calling anyone else a Nazi.

As much as I disagree with her, I am realistic enough to understand that her views vis-à-vis gay marriage will not change. She has been told what to believe and, like so many Nazi soldiers, she will unquestioningly follow orders. Still, she should be ashamed for what she said. She should beg her God, her church and every group that was ever targeted by the Nazis to forgive her for having made such a disgusting and hate-mongering statement.

William H. Munk
Salt Lake City, Utah

Or not. Bush thinks she should lead the Republicans in prayer. There is no bigger laugh in this life then listening to Hitler's soul brothers call the people they hate Nazis. It wasn't all that long ago, that Paul Cameron, the quack whose anti-gay junk science they can't quote often enough, was talking about exterminating homosexuals as a means of controlling AIDS:

Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals.

Paul Cameron, speaking at the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it...

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew...

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Actually...first they came for the homosexuals, though not by much. The Nazi revised anti-gay paragraph 175 went into effect on September 1, 1935. The Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship and Race went into effect on September 15, 1935. And as Mr. Munk points out, when the concentration camps were liberated, the homosexuals were not.

And look who's coming for us now...heads bowed in prayer instead of arms raised. But the sentiment's the same. The sentiment is exactly the same.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday August 28, 2004

Broken Links

Sorry about the broken perma links. They're fixed now.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Man...I never thought I'd find myself getting into a soap opera plot. Damn. Maki Murakami has me waiting impatiently now for each new volume.

It's a pretty twisty (as in convoluted) plot. But aren't they all (soap operas that is)? I haven't enjoyed a story about a gay couple since Mercedes Lackey's The Last Herald-Mage novels.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sing For Me, You Angel Voiced Pervert

While a Orson Scott Card was an undergraduate theatre student, he once wrote in his infamous essay The Hypocrites of Homosexuality he became aware of the "underculture of homosexuality among my friends and acquaintances." He wrote of that time that he learned that being homosexual does not destroy a person's talent, and that for "most of them their highest allegiance was to their membership in the community that gave them access to sex." Thus do homophobes allow themselves to simultaneously dehumanize gay people, while giving themselves permission to enjoy the results of their labors, particularly the artistic ones. We may be sex addicted perverts who just want to rape children every chance we get, but boy we can sure decorate a stage.

And sing beautifully. Card this week, in the Rhino Times reviews K.D. Lang's newest album, Hymns of the 49th Parallel:

Why is k.d. lang so brilliant, when she never does the full-out from-the-belt style that works so well for most of the great country singers? I think it's the fact that she is always singing the words - she finds a way to mean the songs, not just vocalize them. She sings from the heart, yet with an intimacy that makes it so you wish you were in the same room with her - not a concert hall, a living room, listening to a friend break your heart with her music.

You'd almost never know that this is the same man who said that "Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society." Lang has never bothered to hide her Lesbianism, and has taken many a pubic stand against anti gay discrimination. Yet here Card tells his readers she is "brilliant". More obscenely, he wishes she could sing just for him, as a friend.

Expropriation. Something which Card complained about not all that long ago, after the Massachusetts Supreme Court said that same sex couples have the same right to marry that opposite sex couples do. He was complaining then, that homosexuals were stealing something precious from him:

But homosexual "marriage" is an act of intolerance. It is an attempt to eliminate any special preference for marriage in society - to erase the protected status of marriage in the constant balancing act between civilization and individual reproduction.

So if my friends insist on calling what they do "marriage," they are not turning their relationship into what my wife and I have created, because no court has the power to change what their relationship actually is.

Instead they are attempting to strike a death blow against the well-earned protected status of our, and every other, real marriage.

They steal from me what I treasure most, and gain for themselves nothing at all. They won't be married. They'll just be playing dress-up in their parents' clothes.

Orson Scott Card - Humpty Dumpty Logic

Priceless. Not only should Lang's union be denied the rights his is, but for flagrantly violating society's regulation of sexual behavior she belongs in a prison cell. A punch in the stomach one moment, a kick in the face the next, and then...applause. He can work to deny us equal rights, he can use his writing talents and his public voice to keep us second class citizens one day, and the next drink from the beauty gay and lesbian artists create. And gay people are stealing from him.

Sing for me. Sing you angel voiced deviant. Sing for me, in your prison cell. It just breaks my heart how beautiful your song is.

[Edited slightly...]

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday August 25, 2004

Oh Grow A Fucking Brain Rex...

Rex Wockner. Journalist. Commentator. Sucker.

Every once in a while, George W. Bush slips up and reveals that he really doesn't share the radical right's antigay agenda.

Now...where have I heard this before. Oh...right. In 2000. The Log Cabin was babbling this all through the campaign, and kept on babbling it right up to the moment he endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment. What does it say about a journalist, that they can still fall for a load of bullshit that even the Log Cabin Republicans don't buy anymore?

Bush said on the Larry King show several weeks ago that, gosh, he didn't have any problem with the states providing legal protection for gay couples. Oh...but just not marriage. King, being King, didn't press the Smirking Fratboy Jackass on the fact that the FMA prevents the states from doing just that, in language even a dead pig on a stick could read and understand. And it's frustrating sometimes to see straight journalists take the spin doctors at their word about what the FMA would do, instead of actually reading the goddamned thing. But you can reasonably expect more from a gay journalist. Wockner, having a bit more then just a professional stake in knowing what Bush is talking about there, should know better. Instead, he draws this amazing conclusion:

George would support laws that give same-sex couples matrimonial rights. There's no other possible interpretation. Well, I suppose there is one: He says contradictory things. That may be true, but I think if we listen to what George Bush says when he's not reading a prepared speech, we are more likely to hear the real George W. Bush. And that person seems to favor equality for gay people except for granting them access to marriage. Guess who else believes exactly that? John Kerry and John Edwards. Interesting stuff.

The Real George Bush. The Real George Bush. The Real George Bush. Wockner, if you think you glimpsed a peek at the Real George Bush in that little Larry King moment, then you are not merely clueless, you define cluelessness.

I'll show you a glimpse into the Real George Bush:

Every now and again Shrub W. Bush will stop you faster than pullin' on the whoa reins. You can go along for long periods thinkin' to yourself, "Don't agree with him about dog, but he seems like an amiable fellow." And then he says something that sort of makes your teeth hurt.


Probably the best known of the "whoa" moments with W. Bush comes from an interview with Tucker Carlson printed in Talk magazine, concerning the execution of Karla Faye Tucker. Bush has now signed more than 100 warrants of execution, but, as you may recall, the born-again Tucker drew attention both for being female and for having an extensive prison ministry.

In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask. Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions like, "What would you say to Governor Bush?" "What was her answer?" I wonder.

"Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."

I must have look shocked - ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel, even for someone as militantly anticrime as Bush - because he immediately stops smirking.

Tucker also reported that the exchange mimicked by Bush never took place; Bush made it up.

Well, that was a moment.

Molly Ivins, The Nation, December 1999

And one, let it be said, that more people should have paid attention to. Understand the kind of man Tucker Carlson saw in that moment, and you understand the Bush presidency. That Bush is no Fred Phelps is no mark of goodness. There is worse. The human gutter goes deeper then Fred Phelps.

Now, you should still vote for Kerry and Edwards because they will actually work to give us everything short of marriage. Bush, on the other hand, might ignore his personal beliefs and, when push comes to shove, throw raw meat to the carnivores who hate gays. That's too bad, but it's nice to know he's not a crazed, right-wing, fundamentalist-Christian gay-hater himself. And it's nice that he periodically let's that fact slip out. It makes me ever-so-slightly less terrorized by the (still unthinkable) idea of Four More Years.

Gosh that's too bad Rex, because it should scare you even more.

Question: is a man who will do the bidding of bigots even if he doesn't share their prejudices, for the sake of their favor, more or less depraved then those bigots?

This is a question an adult should be able to readily answer. And a lot of people who were not quite grown up in 2000, sure as hell should have grown up since.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

War Is A Continuation Of Politics By Other Means...(continued...)

Brad Delong this morning, quotes a New Yorker article on the origins of World War One:

Two kinds of “inevitablism” have long held sway.... One... is that the war was the certain consequence of imperial overstretch and colonial rivalry.... Of this hypothesis, nothing really remains.... Capital’s overwhelming desire was for peace and continued globalization. It was Lord Rothschild who entreated the Times of London to tone down the belligerence of its articles, and right up to the end the governor of the Bank of England was begging the Liberal cabinet minister Lloyd George, “with tears in his eyes,” to keep Britain out of war. What does survive... is a smaller and more succinct point: in every European country, the center-right establishment, faced with some kind of social-democratic or socialist challenge, reasoned that a national call to arms would be the one sure antidote to internal division. In every case—even in France, where the lines of division ran deepest—this turned out to be true, and “class division melted like butter in the frying pan of nationalism,” as the historian John Lukacs puts it.

Emphasis mine. Capitalism neither requires, nor encourages war. But one thing the free market does very well is act as an engine for social change. Too well for some people, and not just Luddites. My favorite case in point: the effect of the personal computer on the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights. Oh revolutionized the way small businesses work, but look at the social impact on just this one small minority. For the first time in history, we didn't have to see each other through heterosexual eyes. No matter what remote, lonely part of the country we were in, we could reach out to each other, hear our own stories, and see ourselves in them. That was a powerful change in our self awareness as a people. More then anything else I believe this self awareness, this ability to see ourselves through our own eyes, is the motor now powering our struggle for full and equal rights. And look who is howling the loudest about it. It's not the business people, who if anything would rather market to us, if not for the bellyaching from...

...the center-right establishment, faced with some kind of social-democratic or socialist challenge, reasoned that a national call to arms would be the one sure antidote to internal division.

We're loosing control. Let's have a war. A splendid little war. Except that war recognizes no master.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday August 24, 2004

War Is A Continuation Of Politics By Other Means...

Remind me again...what was that rational for invading Iraq? I mean...besides the claptrap about the threat Saddam posed to the United States. That one about how if we could just remove Saddam from power, and establish a democracy right in the heart of the despotic middle east, then all the tyrants of the middle east would fall. Democracy would flower everywhere. I remember now that I heard that one once before. It had a name. The Domino Theory.

Once upon a time it was communism that would make the dominos fall. Now it's democracy. We fought a war to prevent the dominos from falling. We're fighting one now to make them fall. And Iraq, I keep hearing, is not Vietnam. But what was Vietnam if not a product of the bellicose, reactionary, jingoistic, racist, sexist, McCarthyite 1950s. The canard is the Vietnam was Johnson's war. But like the 60s, you can't understand Vietnam without understanding the 50s. The irony now is that you really can't understand Iraq, without understanding the 50s. More to the point, you can't understand what's going on in Washington now, without understanding what we once called The Establishment: that aggregate of powers, political and corporate, that deeply and bitterly and eternally resents everyone who successfully opposed it in the sixties.

I remember precisely when this premonition of perpetual division first struck me. On Aug. 19, 1992, the third night of the Republican National Convention in Houston, Barbara Bush and Marilyn Quayle were the featured speakers. The first lady praised her husband's fine qualities and Mrs. Quayle turned her fire on the Bill Clinton Democrats, who had just finished their convention in New York.

Through almost gritted teeth, Marilyn Quayle declared that those people in Madison Square Garden, who were claiming the mantle of leadership for a new generation, were usurpers. "Dan and I are members of the baby boom generation, too," she said. "We are all shaped by the times in which we live. I came of age in a time of turbulent social change. Some of it was good, such as civil rights; much of it was questionable."

And then she drew the line that has not been erased: "Remember, not everyone joined in the counterculture. Not everyone demonstrated, dropped out, took drugs, joined in the sexual revolution or dodged the draft. Not everyone concluded that American society was so bad that it had to be radically remade by social revolution. . . . The majority of my generation lived by the credo our parents taught us: We believed in God, in hard work and personal discipline, in our nation's essential goodness, and in the opportunity it promised those willing to work for it. . . . Though we knew some changes needed to be made, we did not believe in destroying America to save it."

When she finished, I turned to my Post colleague Dan Balz, a contemporary of the Clintons and the Quayles, and said, "I suddenly have this vision -- that when you guys reach the nursing homes, you're going to be leaning on your walkers and beating each other with your canes, because you still will not have settled the arguments from the Sixties."

David S. Broder, The Washington Post: Swift Boats And Old Wounds

As usual, Broder glosses over Quayle's reliable right wing hypocrisy. Marilyn Quayle can aver of the 60s that "some of it" like the civil rights movement, was good, but the fact is that her kind were busy back then fighting tooth and nail against every small inch of ground gained by the civil rights movement, as fiercely and as bitterly as they could. As far as Quayle and her kind were concerned, all of it was bad. And, let's be real here, without a doubt they still feel that way. What political movement is leading the charge to abolish affirmative action, and laws against race discrimination (under the guise of making the laws "color blind"), and never mind the fact that black people in the United States are still facing powerful and bitter racial discrimination in jobs, housing, and even still, even still in their basic right just to vote. Here's the latest from Florida, the state that "accidently" purged thousands of black voters from its rolls in 2000:

State police officers have been going into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogating them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers, and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.

Bob Herbert, Voters intimidated in Florida

This is Jeb Bush's state. This is a state run by Quayle's fellow True Blue One-Hundred Percent Americans. If there had been no civil rights action in the 50s and 60s, and the much despised Warren Court, the fact that black people couldn't vote somewhere in the south wouldn't even be news. The political movement Quayle represents still thinks they shouldn't be allowed to vote, or at best, should be allowed to vote for republicans only. But they know better then to actually say so.

"Some of it was good, such as civil rights..." This is such transparently rote lip service to the concept of liberty and justice for all that you have to wonder who the hell takes it seriously. Why sakes alive...civil rights turned out to be good after all..! Reading it is comparable to hearing them babbling about how they have nothing against homosexuals really, they just want to protect the institution of marriage. Why is the right so bitter about the culture wars of the sixties? One reason would be that they have to keep mouthing slogans about civil rights that they couldn't more clearly despise. It was a better day, when the starting point of every political discussion in America was the tacit understanding that some Americans were more equal then others.

Fighting the Establishment back then was brutal, and now they are back in power. They remember names. They remembered Bill Clinton. They remember John Kerry. Nixon worked personally on smearing Kerry.

June 16, 1971: Oval Office meeting with John O’Neill

Nixon: I really feel that what you’re doing, you’ll take brickbats, you go on some of these TV shows like the Cavett thing, you’re gonna get banged, but – you’ll get terribly discouraged and say the whole country’s – and so forth. But I think ya gotta remember, uh, you have to remember, that uh, that uh, now {unintelligible] in Vietnam should be enough, that now you would have the [unint] to get back and reassure people that those few that come back – like Kerry and the rest – don’t speak for all.


Nixon: That’s great. Give it to him, give it to him. And you can do it, because you have a pleasant manner, too, because you’ve got – and I think it’s a great service to the country.


Back when Kerry came out against the Vietnam war, and talked openly about atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers, he crossed a divide that was over more, much more, then just that one war. He embraced a vision of America, of the American Dream, that the other side denies, has always denied, will always deny.

"The majority of my generation lived by the credo our parents taught us: We believed in God..." No. You believed you spoke for god. You believed that your religion gave you authority and power over others. You believed that your religion gave you rights that you could deny people who believed differently. You believed that god loves only those who you love, and hates everyone and everything that you hate, because god could not possibly be bigger then you.

" hard work and personal discipline..." No. You believed in privilege and status. You told people if they worked hard they'd succeed, and then you put barriers in their path to make sure the would never escape the status you assigned to them. Women. Racial minorities. Ethnic minorities. Religious minorities, Homosexuals. The working poor. You assigned a place to them all, and tried to keep them there. Discipline, meant people accepting their place.

" our nation's essential goodness..." No. You don't know what goodness is, because you never think to wonder what goodness is. To to do that is itself a moral offence by your reckoning. You don't believe in goodness. You believe in authority. You believe in blind obedience to authority, which is the polar opposite of goodness. What you did was chant "My Country Right Or Wrong", which, like G. K. Chesterson said, is like saying "My mother, drunk or sober." You do not know what goodness is. You do not want to know what goodness is, if it is anything that doesn't answer to you.

"...and in the opportunity it promised those willing to work for it." No. You believed in the entitlement of the rich and powerful. You believed you had a right to keep others down, to deny them jobs or housing, or a place on the ballot, or in the voting booth, because of their race, their gender, their religion, their sexual orientation. All the civil rights laws ever passed in this country, were passed despite your fierce opposition to them. You have always used the rhetoric of opportunity to deny opportunity to others.

"Though we knew some changes needed to be made, we did not believe in destroying America to save it." No. Your kind have never believed in America. Liberty and Justice for all are anathema to you. America was a flag you wrapped yourselves in when you needed an excuse, it was your private garden, walled off from the rabble, the darkies, the commoners, the haphazard artists, eccentrics and non-conformists that you have always despised, but whose work made the garden grow, made the garden beautiful. What happened in the 50s, and the 60s, was that the rest of us decided that the Dream belonged to us too, and we kicked the door to your private garden open. You've never forgiven us, and frankly my dear, we don't give a damn. For generations you told us that we were not worthy of the Dream. Now we see that we are, and that if you could, you would burn it all down, rather then let your fellow Americans live their share of the Dream in peace.

You hear it said that what offends the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth the most about Kerry, was his speaking out against atrocities committed by U.S. troops in Vietnam. Yet, that atrocities were in fact committed by our troops over there is an historical fact. It's not even remotely debatable. The charge cannot be then, that Kerry was lying about it. It happened. So what are you saying, when you say that a U.S. soldier who speaks out against atrocities is a traitor? Traitor to what? Not to America. Not to the American ideals of Liberty and Justice For All. It is no treason to a nation based on the rule of law, to speak out against war crimes. Unless that is, you believe in the America that holds that power is a law unto itself... If that's your America, then there can be no such thing as our troops committing atrocities, since whatever they do is lawful, by virtue of the fact that they are doing it.

Iraq is not Vietnam. But they are both the offspring of that bottomless arrogance the American right keeps mistaking for a conscience:

All the credible evidence, from military records to the testimony of those who served with Mr. Kerry, confirms his wartime heroism. Why, then, are some veterans willing to join the smear campaign? Because they are angry about his later statements against the war. Yet making those statements was itself a heroic act - and what he said then rings truer than ever.

The young John Kerry spoke of leaders who sent others to their deaths because they wanted to seem tough, then "left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude." Fifteen months after George Bush strutted around in his flight suit, more and more Americans are echoing Gen. Anthony Zinni, who received a standing ovation from an audience of Marine and Navy officers when he talked about the debacle in Iraq and said of those who served in Vietnam: "We heard the garbage and the lies, and we saw the sacrifice. I ask you, is it happening again?"

Mr. Kerry also spoke of the moral cost of an ill-conceived war - of the atrocities soldiers find themselves committing when they can't tell friend from foe. Two words: Abu Ghraib.

Paul Krugman, The New York Times - The Rambo Coalition

The soldier who broke the story of Abu Ghraib, and his family are now in protective military custody because of the danger to their lives, for doing the right thing, the moral thing, the American thing. A traitor, not to his country, not to his fellow soldiers, not to his fellow Americans, but to the cause of power over the rule of law, privilege over justice, status over equality. Different decades. Different wars. Different soldiers. Same flags.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday August 23, 2004

John Max Cleland

Arguing with homophobes on the Usenet newsgroup alt.politics.homosexuality, most people went though a stage where at first they simply could not believe that grown men and women would lie so blatantly, and then come to the sickening realization that they were face to face with real human evil. I don't know how many times I watched that play out on Usenet, and always it was a very uncomfortable thing to see. Yes Virginia...there are bad people in this world... They'd see someone write a post that cited Bell and Weinberg's study Homosexualities as evidence that the average male homosexual has over 500 sex partners in a lifetime. They'd see the actual text from the study quoted in refutation. Then, a few weeks or even just a couple of days later, jaws dropping, they'd see the very same posters write the exact same statements again, as though they'd never seen the proof that those statements weren't true. Sometimes it took multiple trips on the merry-go-round before realization finally settled in that, yes, these people know they're lying.

"Have you sir, at long last, no shame...? Never mind their slender grip on reality. Never mind that many of them in the radical religious right may actually think that the Christian belief in the power of faith means that if you just refuse to look a fact in the face it will go away. The sickening truth is that, no, they don't have any shame. Think about it for a moment. How can you be a gutter crawling bigot, a theocrat, a xenophobic nutcase, a devout believer in taking from the poor and giving to the rich, and still have a sense of shame? You can't. You can't get to the place Bush's long term hard core supporters are at now, without shooting your sense of shame in the back of the head when it wouldn't shut up.

Does anyone expect the Mafia to feel shame? Let me put that another way. Does anyone expect the gang that pocketed billions from the U.S. Treasury on the pretext of fighting a needless pointless useless war to feel shame? Understand now?

So nobody should be surprised at the in-your-face lying about John Kerry's war record? Max Cleland had after all lost both legs and part of an arm in Vietnam and the republicans still felt perfectly free to smear him as a traitor.

But...understand this...that's not because the stakes are higher now. Lies are like heroin. There is no maintenance dose. There is only the death spiral, where your self slowly decays into nothing, as your need to lie increases.

The bromide is that the lies eventually catch up with the liar. But what happens is really that it takes people a long time to finally believe that what they are dealing with is someone who has rotted completely from the inside out. Your word is such a dreadful thing to loose, that it's excruciatingly hard for us to pass that kind of judgement on another. Mostly we don't until we can see no other way, and we hate it. It's a judgement inevitably tainted with the ugliest of human emotions: pity.

I do you look someone in the face after they've been a part of something like this:

H & J claim: Passage by Swift boats into Cambodia through the Mekong Delta from their base at Sa Dec was impossible. Fact: Clearly they have no knowledge of the delta. The Swift boats were stationed at Sa Dec precisely because of easy access to the Mekong River complex and the approaches to Cambodia.

Jim Boyd, Editor, Star Tribune - Republican smear machine can't stand up to the facts

Go read the rest of that editorial. It's damning. And it's far from the only response the cynically named "Swift Boat Veterans For Truth" are getting. Brad DeLong gives us this useful link, and the ever helpful Eschaton has been providing all kinds of useful links. Another good blogger on the story is Steve Gilliard. The whole story is dissolving right before our eyes, into the usual rancid brew of right wing lies, jingoism and hatemongering. Surprised?'re not going to stop. Expect, if anything, for it to get worse. The lies will become more blatant, even as more and more people see them, and the people telling them, for what they are. But it would be a mistake to assume this is mere political calculation. No. This is not energizing the base. This is not a tactical loss of some votes, to gain and hold more. This is just what they are. What I learned from alt.politics.homosexuality is that their kind will keep right on smearing, even when almost nobody believes the smears anymore, even when almost everyone who knows them, knows their word means nothing, is worth nothing.

It is the primal howl of the human mind that has lost its connection to civilization, and all the values that make civilization possible, and everything that it makes achievable. When the lie has lost all it's other powers, it still has this one: to remind the rest of us that the jungle is always out there, and that it hates us.

That is why the smear campaign will go on.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Buyer Beware...

If you buy at Circuit City, your money could be going into the pockets of right wing gay hating politicians.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Where The Hell's The Cartoon!?

Yes...I know...some of you are going to murder me if I don't update the cartoon page. All I can say is..."Please Stand By..."

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday August 17, 2004

Oh...We Don't Count The Hispanic Votes...

Once again while trying to prove how sure-fire reliable the new electronic voting machines are, voting machine representatives proved instead that voters should throttle election officials who even think of using them.

During the demonstration of the Sequoia machine last week, the machine worked fine when the company tested votes using an English-language ballot. But when the testers switched to a Spanish-language ballot, the paper trail showed no votes cast for two propositions.

"We did it again and the same thing happened," said Darren Chesin, a consultant to the state Senate elections and reapportionment committee. "The problem was not with the paper trail. The paper trail worked flawlessly, but it caught a mistake in the programming of the touch-screen machine itself. For some reason it would not record or display the votes on the Spanish ballot for these two ballot measures. The only reason we even caught it was because we were looking at the paper trail to verify it."

Let's hear it for paper trails. No...wait...let's hear it for paper ballots. I'm serious. A couple years ago a good friend of mine who is a lawyer and I were discussing all the various ways our respective trades can fail the people they are supposed to be helping. He observed at one point in the discussion that we were both good examples of how the closer you are to a system, the more afraid you are of it. I earn my living designing and coding software. I have earned my living doing this for two decades now. Listen to me: there should never be software anywhere in the path between the person who casts a vote and the people who tally all the votes. Anywhere. Anywhere. Did you get that? Anywhere.

Canada uses paper ballots. Yeah, they're a smaller country, but that only means we have more people available to make it work here too. Yeah, it's a lot of work. But do you want to keep your democracy or not? Nothing is more important then a fair and honest vote. Nothing is more important then everyone generally knows the vote was fair and honest. You win, you loose, there is always the next election. When the votes stop being counted, when trust is lost in the voting process, there may be no next election. Paper trails are not the answer. There must be No Software in the process.

There's a bromide: To err is human, but if you want to really screw things up you need a computer... I am no Luddite. I would not want to go back to the days before the personal computer revolutionized so many aspects of our lives. The liberating force of personal computers in the lives of gay Americans is a story waiting to be told. I would not want to go back. Maybe in some distant golden age no one will have any idea what a software bug is, or how the words 'Virus' and 'Back Door' and 'Trojan Horse' could possibly apply to software. But this is not that age, and the right to vote is vital to the health of a democracy. That right is worthless if your vote goes into the software twilight zone. And gaming a system based around software is entirely too damn easy. For some reason it would not record or display the votes on the Spanish ballot for these two ballot measures. For some reason. For some reason.

There must be no software in the process. None. None. You hear that? None.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday August 15, 2004

Blog Party!

I spent the better part of the weekend in Philadelphia, to attend a blogger's bash that Jim Capozzola of Rittenhouse Review graciously invited me to. Atrios of Eschaton generously lent his apartment to the party and I got to meet him and his wife. Lambert, who has guest blogged on Eschaton was there, and "JM" of Sisyphus Shrugged and Fred Clark of Slacktivist and Julie of Nasty Riffraff and many other bloggers and blog enthusiasts. We talked about politics and the Internet and the coming election and Philadelphia and the art of writing headlines in a language that doesn't have a three or four letter word for "investigation". Bloggers are every bit as talkative in person as they are online, even the otherwise shy ones among us (and there was one other guy there who confessed to being at least as shy in groups as I am). Getting to know people through their blogs it seems, helps break though the barrier. I felt as if I already knew in some sense, everyone there.

As mine is a minor blog beside the heavy hitters like Rittenhouse Review and Eschaton, I was anxious for tips on keeping my blog among the very coolest of the cool, and "JM" of Sisyphus Shrugged was kind enough to take me aside and clue me in on the secret: if you want to have a great blog, you have to have a great deck. Luckily, my little Baltimore rowhouse already has a deck, so now all I have to do is work on making it a great one.

It was great meeting them all, and I sincerely hope we can all get together again sometime in the not too distant future. A better, more decent bunch of people you never met.

Thank you Jim. And thank you everyone. It was a very cool evening.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday August 13, 2004


I'm still a tad confused. Why did he resign exactly?

He was having an affair... Okay...fine...there's an element of trustworthiness there that the people have a right to expect in their elected officials. Cheating on a spouse isn't a good sign.

But I'm from a generation of gay men who know damn well what its like growing up in an environment that almost insures that outcome for gay people. Hell...there are still dozens of so called reparative therapy groups that insist that the cure for homosexuality is to Act Straight. These groups take pride in how many homosexuals they've managed to marry off...and zero responsibility for the broken marriages that follow. Probably one of the most irritating things to come from McGreevey's resignation, is the reliable babbling from anti-gay nutcases that this is all the fault of social acceptance of homosexuality. As if married homosexuals didn't have affairs before Stonewall. You can force gay people into the closet, but you can't force sexual desire, an instinct older then the mammals, let alone the primates, let alone human beings, into the closet. It is an ancient and powerful instinct and when its tide yanks you in some direction, you're going to move. It's not something you can civilize, make wholesome and life affirming and beautiful, by just clamping a lid down on it, which is essentially the only direction homosexuals growing up have had in this culture for generations. That advice, which only seems reasonable to people who think that a homosexual's sexual nature can be dismissed like it was just sort of perverse habit, and not as much a fact of their being as a heterosexual's is, can have profoundly damaging consequences:

And alcohol helped me to escape from my undeserved success because deep inside I knew that there was something dreadfully wrong with me as a person. There was this fatal flaw that prevented me from being the husband and father I wanted to be. At bottom in those darkest recesses of the mind, I knew I was less then a man. And for that terrible offence I had to ether escape or be punished. In drinking I tried escape, and thereby assured punishment.

-Robert Bauman "The Gentleman from Maryland - The Conscience of a Gay Conservative" p219

I don't think its entirely fair to use the affair itself as evidence of McGreevey's untrustworthiness, even in this day and age. There may be other evidence that McGreevey isn't fit for his office, other good reasons for him to be out of there, but to the degree he's now willing to be open with his family, and his community, about his sexual orientation, there should be some understanding here, along with judgement. It was, and still is, hard for many gay people of our generation to be honest with themselves about their sexual nature. And I'm not sure it's really all that much easier these days.

The GOP in New Jersey is bellyaching that McGreevey should resign now, not in November when his seat can be taken by another democrat. I'm sure a GOP governor would do just that in similar circumstances. The best thing the GOP can do for New Jersey right now is shut its trap, but that's expecting miraculous sanity. Their intellectual base is rotten with bigots like Charles Krauthammer, who once insisted that the law should be stacked in favor of heterosexuality, "without disrespect but without apology". But when has the GOP ever apologized for the human wreckage its policies have left behind? When the day comes and gay boys and lesbian girls can grow up in America untouched by guilt or fear that their nature makes them freaks, when they can dream of the day they'll find someone of their own sex to love, and be loved by, and those dreams can be as wonderful and thrilling as any heterosexual boy or girl's ever was, then the GOP can start pointing fingers. But they'll still need to apologize for the hell they've help put generations of gay Americans through, so they could harvest the bigot vote.

They could start, by apologizing to a few of their own, who have had to go through this:

Always there was the guilt, total and enormous, the feeling of culpability and remorse for some indefinable offence, for just existing.

-Robert Bauman "The Gentleman from Maryland - The Conscience of a Gay Conservative" p240

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday Cat Blogging

Oh...wait...I don't have a cat. about...Friday Sketchbook Blogging...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Oh...You Always Get The Jesus Piece!

Friday the thirteenth falls on a Friday this month (that's an old Pogo joke...), and what better way to celebrate then with an end of the world board game?

Seriously. My copy of Barbara R. Rossing's The Rapture Exposed came in the mail the other day, and I hardly get into its preface when I learn about this:

Well...I declared satire officially dead back when I saw those Passion Nail keyrings, didn't I...

Perhaps while that favorite Darbyite family in your life is waiting for the rapture, they can also play with the Action Figures over at Jesus Christ Superstore!

"His is the kingdom, the power and the glory"

* includes Kingdom-Come
Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle

* wearing Hallowed cloak of invulnerability

Just let them go ahead and protest that those action figures are making a mockery of Christianity...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday August 12, 2004

Null And Void

With no apparent effort or sign of conscience, the California supreme court declared the marriages of around four-thousand same sex couples null and void, by popular demand. They would like us to know that the issue of whether or not discriminating against us is constitutional wasn't what they were ruling on. was. Whether the law they are now saying must be enforced is constitutional was the gravamen of the case. They ducked it. Did they duck it because they are political cowards? Did they duck it because they can't see the people for the homosexuals? Did they duck it because, like justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., they just didn't think it was all that important a case? They just erased four thousand marriages as if they were nothing, as if the people who vowed to love honor and cherish were nothing. And maybe it happened, because when they looked down from their bench at their gay and lesbian neighbors, nothing was what they saw.

It's not that there are people who hate us. There really aren't that many people with such a deep personal investment in anti gay hate that they like nothing better then to dance in the ashes of our hopes and dreams. It's not that there are people who hate us. It's that so many people just don't care. It's one thing to express a little sympathy for that gay couple you heard about once in the news, whose lives were shattered by legalized anti gay persecution, and it's another to actually care as if that gay couple were people whose humanity seems real to you. The problem isn't that some people can only see monsters when they look at us. The problem is that many people still can't see human beings. They see some dancing scarecrow image of homosexuality made from ad hoc rags of prejudice, folklore, dirty jokes, and pop culture stereotypes. They don't see how our lives can be devastated when our intimate relationships are torn asunder. But then how can they, when the most popular image of homosexuals comes from shows like Will and Grace or Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, shows where gay people can be witty and fabulous and well dressed, but not in love? It's not that we are monsters to some, but that we are pale images of human beings at best to so many others. So what happens to us, isn't really all that much of a concern. Why should it be? We heard the rumors, but we did not believe them.

So a right number of Californians will be busy today venting the usual expressions of sympathy and then forgetting about it at best, or at worst, lecturing us about how it's not politically wise to make a big deal out of same sex marriage. I have two words for them: Fuck Off! In November of 1983 Sharon Kowalski was injured in an automobile accident, that left her almost completely paralyzed and with an impaired ability to speak. For the next eight years her lover, Karen Thompson endured a legal nightmare no one should ever have to endure, because as far as the state was concerned, they were strangers. To say, as the anti same sex marriage forces do, that we brought this fight over same sex marriage on ourselves, is to deny that things like what happened to Sharon Kowalski and Karen Thompson ever happen. I'll accept that gay haters can say this because they really believe that what happened to Kowalski and Thompson is merely our due as homosexuals. But I'll be damned if I'll accept that from anyone else.

Bigots all over the country are dancing right now in the ashes of four-thousand marriages. It's not them I'm angry with right now. It's the people with their heads down, walking through the ashes as if nothing had happened.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The President Of The United States

Via Tom Tomorrow and Bob Harris...a snapshot of the soul of George Bush:

See the link to Tom Tomorrow's blog for the details, which aren't all that important all things considered. It's not the poor sportsmanship. It's not the calculated rule breaking. It's not the sucker punch. It's the face. Look at Bush's face at the moment he took the shot. There's the man.

Now does the Bush presidency make sense?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Oh. Really?

"We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power"
Karen DeYoung, Former Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor

Inevitably? Somewhere in hell, Richard Nixon is laughing his ass off.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday August 11, 2004

Where Do I Send The Good Riddance Card?

Via Joshua Marshall...

I must leave the land of my forefathers [i.e., Maryland] in order to defend the land of my spirit, of my conscience and my heart -- and I believe that that land is Illinois.
Alan Keyes, on moving to Illinois to run for the U.S. Senate

I saw a photograph the other day of a Keyes protestor with a sign complaining that Maryland had sent Illinois a crab. Na. Our crabs are good. That would be one of our sea nettles. Yeah...we hate them too.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Amateur Photographer As Terrorist Suspect

Snapshot of a moment in the future. I'm driving down a local highway somewhere on the great plains. The scenery around me from horizon to horizon is flat, spacious and beautiful. Golden wheat rolls gently in a plains breeze like waves on a deep sea. The sky is deep blue, and dotted with brilliant white clouds like big puffy cotton balls. The clouds cast slowly moving patterns of shadow and light across the waving stalks of wheat. The air is clear and crisp, but it's hot, and the horizon melts into a pale yellow haze.

The road I am travelling begins to rise slightly from the plains. Ahead of me, a small bridge crosses over a single line railroad track. As I cross the bridge, I look to my right, which is due east, and see a lovely sight. The railroad tracks, now just beneath me, run in a straight line for a few hundred feet, then curve slightly, and run straight to the east, and to a small gathering of grain elevators near the horizon, the only visible human structures for miles around. The bridge I am driving over, and ground nearby, is under the shadow of a passing cloud. But further east a shaft of golden sunlight from between the clouds falls over the grain elevators, making them stand out brilliantly against a hazy plains horizon. The bright sunlight falls on the railroad tracks just in front of the grain elevators, making them dazzle.

I gotta get this... I cross the bridge and find a place to pull off the road. Then I get my camera bag and tripod and walk back to the bridge. There is a pedestrian walkway and thankfully it is on the side of the bridge I need it to be. I set up my camera quickly, hoping that I can catch everything while the clouds overhead are still casting the sunlight where I want it.

As I work, I hear a car drive up to the bridge. Then it stops. I look up. It is a police car. A policeman gets out and walks over to me. I think for a moment about whether my car is parked illegally.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm just taking some pictures."


Here's where I'm likely to start looking either a bit muddled, or a bit evasive depending on your point of view. Why? The simple straightforward answer to that question would simply be, "Because it's a nice looking shot." But that seems like such a trite answer I'd probably give it with a look like I was just brushing you off, which probably wouldn't be a good look to give to a policeman just then. But what the hell do I say? I can't explain it officer, when I'm seeking out images to photograph my thoughts are almost completely non-verbal. I look for things that strike a deep emotional response in me that I can't describe in words. If I could use words to reach that space inside me then I'd write about it. But I can't. The only way I can get there, get to that particular space inside of me, is with images. So I use a camera. I saw railroad tracks running indifferently through an empty landscape. I saw them touch a solitary building on the horizon, that was bathed in golden sunlight. I saw loneliness, endurance, beauty, and time and space, vast, indifferent and relentless. But words like those are only poor approximations that don't really describe what I'm feeling. The closer answer to your question is over there, where my camera is pointed now. Look there. Maybe you can see why. Now if you can wait a few weeks, when I've had time to develop this film and make a print, I'll be able to show you why. This would probably be an unsatisfactory answer.

So I muddle about for an answer which doesn't sound like a brush-off, and yet doesn't make me sound like a nutcase, and in the process I come off like an evasive nutcase anyway, and I'm arrested and driven back to the police station for further investigation. Why arrest me at all? Well, as it turns out, everything I'm taking a picture of is a terrorist target. The rail line which is part of the economic infrastructure, and the grain elevators, which can be powerfully explosive all by themselves if the grain dust in them isn't kept carefully under control. All potential targets. Perhaps I am just another harmless oddball longhaired art geek. Perhaps I am a terrorist scouting for targets. Best not to take chances.

And I'm reading the news accounts of that guy who was arrested in Charlotte, who they say was arrested when he was observed "acting suspiciously" while videotaping buildings in downtown Charlotte, and who they say has an "extensive collection" of video tapes of buildings and public transportation facilities...and I'm thinking that if taking pictures around buildings and transportation facilities now amounts to acting suspiciously, then anyone who regards photography as a form of artistic expression had better resign themselves to some close encounters with the police in their future. Hopefully they don't have to spend time in the slammer while the police try to figure out if they're a terrorist or just a harmless art geek. But as I read this story, they didn't arrest this guy on much more then that.

A good deal of my photo collection, which can be reasonably described as extensive since I've been doing photography since my teens, is city still lifes. And I have a lot of images taken around public transportation facilities, most of pictures taken around those lonely areas where all we do is spend our time waiting. Those pictures have artistic value to me. But what would the police think seeing them? I have taken many pictures around the backs of buildings, in the alleys and around the loading docks and the service entrances, where people do the hidden work of making buildings serviceable and livable. Every building has its public face, and its private one, and often the private one is more interesting artistically. The same with every tourist haunt. Maybe even more so with the tourist haunts. The places behind the facades are often far more interesting artistically then the places where everyone is supposed to point their cameras. But it's not obvious why anyone would want to take pictures around a loading dock or in an ally or a service area. What do I say to the policeman who asks me what I'm doing? He was taking pictures of buildings...when the police questioned him he gave them conflicting nonsensical answers...he has an extensive collection of pictures of buildings and public transportation sites... I wonder if even David Plowden could find himself at the wrong end of something like this.

From what I'm gathering in the news accounts I'm reading about Kamran Akhtar, it does seem like he was scouting for targets. Problem is, every single piece of evidence I've read so far adding up against him, could easily fit me, and thousands of other photographers, tourist snapshooters, art geeks and hobbyists alike, and that worries me. And I've seen how suspects in stories like this start out being obviously guilty as hell, and then upon further investigation, end up being probably not guilty of anything at all. So I'm taking a wait and see attitude. But there are implications here that really bother me. So is taking pictures now regarded as a suspicious activity? How does a photographer, in sixty seconds and fifty words or less, prove that they're not a terrorist? How many photographers have already been hauled off the streets for questioning, only to be released later after the police figured out that, well yes, they were just photographers after all. In the current climate, I strongly doubt any stories like that would get much play. I'm sure it's already happened to people.

My Mamiya C330 (it turned out to be an "f" series), arrived the other day, in exactly the condition the dealer, B & H Photo, said it was. I'm relying more and more on them for used equipment then eBay, which can be a dice toss. I was planning to run a couple rolls of film through it this week, before taking it out west next month. What kind of answer is, "Oh, I'm just testing out my new camera Officer"?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday August 8, 2004

Atlas Browsing

When the calls went out last spring for us to sign up for vacation time (so the managers could work out their summer scheduling) I signed up for a couple of weeks late in July, which at the time was supposed to be after the layoffs at the Institute were happening. As the planned layoff time got pushed back, I slid my vacation time back (with my manager's approval). I reckoned that if I was going to be laid off, I'd need the vacation time I'd accrued as cash, and if I wasn't, I'd need the time afterward to decompress.

And so layoffs have come and gone and I'm still there and I am really, really looking forward to my next southwest road trip. The other day I went down to my local triple-A office and got all the latest travel guides and a new U.S. road atlas. I've been flipping through it since, like a kid with a new Christmas catalog.

For me, the road is the vacation. And I love driving the vast open spaces of the American southwest. This year, I think I'm going to do more of it off the major interstates. I want to see the Kodachrome Basin, something I missed last time after taking too many detours. I'm thinking at the moment, of driving through southern Kansas to Dodge, then into southern Colorado, then southern Utah to Bryce Canyon. Spend a couple of days there, then back down to Arizona and my favorite place in the world, Kayenta and Monument Valley. At the moment, I don't have anything more in mind then that, although I'd like to see Gallup on this trip again.

My little Geo Prism is still in great running shape, despite its 178k millage. If it wasn't just a good running little dickens I'd strongly consider replacing it before taking another cross country trip. But I'll have my local mechanic give it a once over and unless he uncovers anything serious come next month I'll just throw my stuff in its trunk and go. I love the open road. If I could, I retire to an RV and just drive until I was too old to drive anymore.


Last trip I took my new digital camera, a Minolta Dimage 7hi. This trip, I'm going back to film. Why? Film is still better, and I just work better with my film cameras. The Minolta is nice, and exceptionally convenient in many ways, but I was so unsatisfied with some of the images, and its not-always-reliable autofocus mechanism, that if I even bother to take it with me this trip, it will only be to post a few Wish You Were Here pix to my blog. I found diopters for my Canon F1s, and focusing them is as trivial now as it used to be before I needed reading glasses. The F1s have nice bright focusing screens and things really snap into focus on them. By comparison the electronic viewfinder in the Minolta, while nice in low light situations, is almost unusable for manual focus. It's pixel dense compared to other cameras, but there still aren't enough of them. And because of it, there have been times when I could not tell that the auto focus mechanism wasn't focusing where I thought it was, and I lost a picture.

The digital camera's small size and weight were a big advantage for a road trip. One reason I bought it was to free myself from the clutter of camera bodies (one for black and white, one for color, one as a backup) and lenses. But having played with a fully automatic digital camera for a while, I find myself gravitating back to my all manual film cameras because, oddly enough, they're easier to use. I've used them for so long, setting speed aperture and focus are second nature to me. So a camera that does it all for me is no great advantage. One thing I liked about the Minolta, was that it let me do everything manually if I wanted. But the Minolta has frustrating quirks.

For one, if I'm on autofocus, the damn thing will try to focus before every damn shot. So if I'm taking a series of shots of something, and my subject isn't moving out of focus between shots and I'm not either, the damn camera will still insist on focusing before taking the picture when I hit the shutter release.'s fast all right...but there is still a lag and if you're taking people pictures that lag can be fatal. Fine, so you go to manual focus. But for some reason I can't fathom, the makers of the Minolta decided that if you have the camera in manual focus mode, whenever you turn it on, the focus point will always start out at 1.5 meters away...even if you had it set at infinity when you turned the camera off. And you can't always tell in the viewfinder that you're off focus. It's been a big frustration.

It may seem counter intuitive, but the shear dumbness of an all mechanical camera, makes working with one easier for me. It just does what I tell it to do. A Canon F1s guts are all mechanical. When I set a shutter speed, an aperture, and my focus, they stay set. The only on switch an F1 has is for the light meter, and when you turn it off and back on again the camera's settings don't revert back to a preset startup state. Its just a light meter. When I press the shutter release on an F1, it takes a picture (unless I haven't cocked the shutter first). I've yet to work with an automatic camera that hasn't eventually started getting in my way. I can't really love a camera that fights with me.

I'm considering taking a medium format film camera along with me this trip. My old Mamiya 6x7 is dead, the victim of frozen shutter speed and aperture dials. I've been wanting to buy a better medium format camera anyway. A Hasselblad, even a used one, is not in my budget, but I can probably do a Mamiya C330. I've actually used the C220 a few times and they seem like good, if somewhat big and heavy for TLR cameras to be. Being as my workhorse 35mm cameras are all Canon F1s, obviously I don't think big and heavy are a bad things for a camera to be.

So I'll have to make room for all this camera stuff, and film too, since I can't count on being able to buy the film I like to work with on the road. Places that sell rolls of tri-x, and high quality color slide film are actually starting to get hard to find, even in the cities and towns.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday August 3, 2004


The lions came. The lions have (mostly) gone. Things are still happening around here, but it's almost all over. I survived.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday August 2, 2004

Very Stressed

The herd is still intact. No lions today. Probably lions tomorrow though...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday August 1, 2004

Very Stressed cartoon this week after all. I'm way too stressed to concentrate on anything...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday July 30, 2004


As you can see, I haven't posted much this week, even though there's been a lot to talk about. But this is an exceptionally stressful time for me, because layoffs are coming at Space Telescope, probably Monday, although I heard a co-worker say it might not be until Tuesday. Management hasn't told anyone the exact date of the layoffs, just given us a general sense that it's happening sometime in the beginning of August. The mechanics of it say it'll happen Monday. We have to vacate some office space we've been leasing, and that means consolidating offices, and that means staff moves. We've been told those have to start mid August. They're giving the laid off a week to settle their affairs, clean out their offices, say their good-byes, and leave. But it's optional. If you get the notice, and you don't want to hang around a week saying goodby to everyone, you can just clean out and leave and still get that weeks' pay (it's part of the severance). Since we have a two week pay period that ends next Friday, Monday is the logical time for it to happen. Everyone is braced for it, and everyone is stressed.

I have a good record at the Institute, but I am hardly the most experienced software engineer there, and my skill set, for all I've learned since joining the Institute, is still primarily Microsoft centric. That's slowly changing. I've done nearly everything in Java for the past year and a half, and I'm learning C++ and Python while I go back to school for my degree. For the past half year I've managed the Linux machines in our test center (I'm composing this on an SuSE Linux box I have running at home), and I've composed, tested and debugged Java applications on it, and a smattering of shell scripts. I've worked with iptables to set up test firewalls, and Squid to set up a test proxy server. I like Linux. But I have no idea how much they're going to need anyone with my particular portfolio of skills in the future. I'll probably find out Monday.

So I'm stressed. I have no idea what's going to happen next week. I'll try to handle whatever as best I can, but even if it turns out well for me I'm probably not going to be very talkative for a while. There'll be a cartoon Monday as usual though. Drawing is a release.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday July 26, 2004

Hi. Me Again.

When I stepped out to go to work, I saw the letters to the editor page of this morning's Baltimore Sun on my doorstep, with a sticky note attached from my neighbor bearing a word of thanks. I saw they'd printed my letter to the editor on one of Gregory Kane's recent columns (see below). They trimmed it quite a bit but I figured they would. Letters to the editor need to be spare and to the point, but there was a lot about that Gregory Kane column that needed responding to. I tried my best to keep it simple and clear but I knew if it was printed that it wasn't all going to get in. At least the Sun's edits are fair.

On this topic, my name should ring a bell with Kane by now. That's maybe the third or forth column of his on this topic, that I've had a letter printed in the Sun in response to. Then again, we're probably all alike as far as he's concerned.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday July 25, 2004

Art And Obscenity

When I started doing the political cartoon here I made a few rules for myself. One was that I'd try to make the cartoon something that any mainstream newspaper could theoretically run, apart from the topic, gay and lesbian civil rights, was as is something most mainstream newspaper still regard as too risque to print. Part of the reason was that I wanted to thumb my noise at that thinking. There is nothing inherently obscene or risque about gay and lesbian issues. Part of it was about my belief that a few rules that you stick to make you think harder about what you're doing. And using obscenities just to prove that you're not an establishment clone is trivial.

The caption on this week's cartoon was the one that came to mind while I was pondering Tom Delay's move this week, to run a bill through the House that bars the federal courts from hearing same sex marriage cases. As is usually the case, the imagery and the caption pretty much came to mind at the same time. But I had my rule. So I played with it for hours. Try as I might though, I couldn't think of a different caption that, taken together with the imagery, said what I meant.

If I was actually working for print, I'd have been in a fix. But I'm not, and this is my space. When I look at the career and politics of Tom Delay, what I see is a person with the character and morals of a common street thug, a gangster, who thinks his money and power conceal the gutter he lives in, who thinks laws are for little people, regards judges as either to be bought, or to be run over. Delay epitomizes the republican leadership that is now raping the American way, I am convinced as much for the want of power, as a bottomless contempt for the entire concept of liberty and justice for all. I fussed for hours trying to find a family newspaper way of expressing what I saw him do to America this week, and I couldn't. It's come to this now. As the composer Ralph Vaughn-Williams said once, I don't like it but it's what I meant.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday July 24, 2004

Corporate Log Rolling

I'm flipping channels while eating dinner. I flip to the local NBC station and just catch the tail end of the newscast. There is a story, occupying about a minute or so of primetime newscast real estate, on Chrysler's new 300C. I am told that this new Chrysler is hot. Very hot. Men love it. Hip Hopsters love it. It is powerful, yet refined. I am told it has been called Arnold Schwarzenegger in an Armani Suit. A proud new owner tells me how great it feels when you push the pedal and the car rises up as it accelerates. I am told it looks like a high priced luxury car, yet costs surprisingly little. A Hip Hopster looks into the camera and tells me that when you drive the 300C your woman will think you are driving a hundred-thousand dollar car. "So don't tell anybody." he says with a smile. It was the last story of the NBC news broadcast. Maybe a full minute. The parent company of NBC is General Electric.

The credits roll. I finish my dinner, get up off the sofa, bop upstairs and sit down at my computer. I call up Mozilla, then Google. I enter the search phrase:

"general electric" chrysler

This is the first link.

Daimler Chrysler Unit Chooses GE Plastics Film for Smart(TM) Roadster
Smart GmbH, a Daimler Chrysler business unit that produces the innovative smart(TM) city car in Europe, has picked GE Plastics new LEXAN® SLX film for the hard top of its new Smart Roadster-Coupe.

The page is dated July 23, 2004.

You scratch our backs...we'll scratch yours...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Homosexuals Want To Cut Off Our Heads. No...Really...

Today's example of how much the anti-gay religious right hates gay and lesbian people comes via Tom Ashcraft (that's AshCRAFT...not Ashcroft...but the mistake is forgivable) in today's Charlotte Observer (registration required).

Who will stop them? That is a question asked many times in history by defenders of religion, family, property and tradition in the face of various fanatical revolutionaries.

Despite the question, the guillotine kept snapping heads in 18th-century France until the revolutionaries exhausted themselves, in part by killing each other off, leading to military strongman Napoleon Bonaparte.


Despite the question, red terror ruled a massive, artificial Soviet Union for most of the 20th century before Marxism collapsed as a self-evident laughingstock. Of course, the laughter cannot erase the fact of millions of people murdered and imprisoned, often for their Christian faith, by Communist fanatics. Nor does it change the pitiful spectacle today of Russia and other former "Soviet Socialist Republics" struggling to establish some semblance of justice after so many generations of systematic injustice.

"Who will stop them?" is also a relevant question in America in 2004.

We don't ask it while watching heads chopped off by guillotines or the erection of a far-flung gulag archipelago. We ask it, instead, in view of the revolutionaries hacking away at what it means to be a human being with gender and humanity's oldest institution, marriage.

Those leading the homosexual movement may be less violent than their French and Russian revolutionary brethren, but their aims are just as radical.

Ashcraft goes on to quote the Human Rights Campaign:

"Marriage equality would build on America's tradition of moving civil rights forward and erasing the inequities of the past."

"Separate is not equal. Although any step toward legal recognition of same-sex couples and their families is a step in the right direction, GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) families will not be truly equal until they, too, can receive marriage licenses."

"GLBT people deserve equal access to the American dream. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people grow up dreaming of falling in love, getting married and growing old together. Just as much as the next person, same-sex couples should be able to fulfill that dream."

...and from these quotes, makes a case that the basis for the arguments in favor of same sex marriage, is one of "radical equality". Turn that phrase over in your mind a few times. Radical Equality. Radical Equality. Radical Equality.

The presumption of democracy, is that we are all equal before the law. That concept, as I have said before, is anathema to fundamentalists. It is said that homosexuals have become the new demon of the right. Where before it was the dark skinned other, the foreigner, socialists, liberals, feminists, atheists, secular humanists, now it is the homosexual demon they thunder against, now it is the homosexual monster they turn out in droves to burn in effigy. We are the destroyers of civilization. We are hacking away at what it means to be human. We want to cut everyone's heads off. But peel back the image of the homosexual monster, and what you find beneath is another object, of much, much deeper fear and loathing.

The scales of justice do not favor one side or the other. Justice is blind. Take apart all the scarecrows of fundamentalists everywhere, whether here in America or halfway around the world in the middle east, and what you find is her. If fundamentalists hate anything, it is her.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tales Of The Liberal News Media...(continued)

Via Atrios, now back from vacation, a little insight into why the Washington Post is a tad soft on the Bush Administration:

Sources in the paper's top echelon say both the publishing and news sides are close to obsessed by the declining circulation. In surveys, readers say they want more local news. Says Bo Jones: "We are trying to do a number of things across the paper to try to address the changing interests, habits, and nature of the Washington area."

One thing the Post has not done is lay off reporters or editors, a tactic many major dailies have chosen. The Post's recent buyout was the closest it has come to improving its bottom line by trimming staff.

The bottom line--and the share prices--of the Washington Post Company are in quite good shape. The flagship daily newspaper is now only a small division of the Post Company, which reaps its largest profits from other divisions, especially the Kaplan education training group. [emphasis mine]

If only Kaplan could train newspaper readers.

From the About Kaplan page on the company web site:

Kaplan, Inc. -- Headquartered in New York City with locations throughout the U.S. and abroad, Kaplan is one of the nation's leading providers of lifelong education. The company has evolved well beyond its historic test preparation roots into areas that include after-school education centers, programs for K-12 schools, post-secondary education, and professional training.

Nice. Pretty well positioned to take advantage of Bush's No Child Left Behind mandatory uniform school testing initiative, aren't they?

When newspapers are owned by industries that benefit from the favors of politicians, the incentive for them to pull their punches is undeniable. I'm not saying this one thing is why the Post's reportage of the Bush administration is so lackadaisical, but it fits the pattern of media-industry-political incestuousness that has turned reporters into stenographers. You can't be this close to power, and disturb power. Once you've bought this many shares in the status-quo, you are going to want to protect your investment.

The loss of newspaper readership may be worrisome to the "top echelon" of the Washington Post but don't think that worry is going to translate into anything more then how to make selling out seem somehow hip and fresh. There is no point in reading a newspaper that aspires to being little more then a conduit for whatever claptrap any capital hill politician wants to spread around.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Other Reason Some Gay Americans Vote Republican

I'd have just shrugged my shoulders and said, "Stephanie Herseth? She doesn't speak for the party any more then Zell Miller does. Look at that 233 to 194 vote to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over state same sex marriage cases. It was a nearly party line vote, and democrats were solidly against it. If we can elect more democrats we can put an end to republican gay bashing like this."

And that would be a good argument...provided the democrats we elect, don't just vote with gay bashing republicans anyway. But Kos over at The Daily Kos is of a mind that gay and lesbian voters should just look the other way when we're punched in the stomach. After all, a punch in our stomach isn't nearly as bad as...say...a punch in his...

So there's plenty of wailing from the ideological rigid. But it seems silly for anyone to be surprised at the vote.

Herseth is pro-choice in a fiercely anti-abortion state. You can only take so many contrarian stands before you become unviable. And being pro-choice and pro-gay marriage is a non starter in states like South Dakota. Or Oklahoma. Or Utah. You get the idea.

"...the ideological rigid."

A gay man dies alone in an unfamiliar hospital while his longtime partner tries fruitlessly to get permission to be by his side. It's a too-common scenario that documents such as living wills, powers of attorney, and domestic-partnership registration are supposed to prevent. But in the death of Robert Lee "Bobby" Daniel, 34, at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in October 2000, none of that mattered, according to a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund on February 27. San Franciscan Bill Robert Flanigan Jr., 34, had power of attorney for Daniel, his registered domestic partner, but was barred from his room and from consulting with physicians because Flanigan was not considered "family" by the hospital, charges the suit, which seeks unspecified damages.

The couple had been driving to meet family in northern Virginia when Daniel became ill. He died without being able to say goodbye to his partner. "I have a huge hole in my heart, and my soul, because I wasn't allowed to be with Bobby when he needed me most," Flanigan said in a statement.

Hospital officials denied any wrongdoing. "We deliver compassionate care to every patient, with sensitivity to the wishes of our patients and their loved ones," spokesperson Ellen Beth Levitt, told The Baltimore Sun.

Bad medicine - The Advocate, April 2, 2002

Flanigan and Daniel, both residents of San Francisco, signed a legal document giving Flanigan the power to make medical decisions for Daniel in expectation that doctors might not recognize Flanigan. Daniel confided to Flanigan that he did not want to go on life support at the end of his life.

Daniel was transferred to the Shock Trauma Center from the Harford Hospital in Havre de Grace, Md. That night, Flanigan sat in the waiting room for four hours while they worked on Daniel but was never consulted about medical decisions, according to the claim. When Daniel's sister and mother arrived at the hospital, Flanigan was allowed to see Daniel for the first time.

When Flanigan and the family saw Daniel, he was unconscious with his eyes taped shut, and a breathing tube had been inserted, contrary to Flanigan's requests, according to the claim.

UM hospital focus of discrimination suit - The Diamondback, March 7, 2002

"...the ideological rigid."

Herseth is pro-choice in a fiercely anti-abortion state. You can only take so many contrarian stands before you become unviable. And being pro-choice and pro-gay marriage is a non starter in states like South Dakota. Or Oklahoma. Or Utah. You get the idea.

The Daily Kos

Yeah. Yeah. I get the idea. Abortion rights are something mostly straight couples need. They don't need same sex marriage. That's our issue. And you just want your gay and lesbian neighbors to know that if straight democrats have to choose between their issues and ours, then ours are disposable.

I know...I know...nobody sane wants four more years of George Bush. I don't want four more years of George Bush. I know republicans who don't want four more years of George Bush. But if I lived in South Dakota I would not vote for Stephanie Herseth, and I will not vote for any politician in my own state, regardless of party, who votes for legislation that strips rights from same sex couples. And if you think I'm just suffering a case of ideological purity because of that...go to hell.

Copyright © March 4, 2002 by Bruce Garrett
All Rights Reserved.


Your gay and lesbian neighbors are not a special interest group...we are people whose core humanity is under constant attack by relentless and sadistic bigotry. Our lovers are taken from us. Our children are taken from us. Jobs and housing are routinely denied to us. And before the Supreme Court repealed the sodomy laws, liberty itself was taken from us. And the pervasive climate of anti-gay hate, stoked now by republicans for votes, takes our lives from us. To the republicans, all this is merely our due. Is it, at long last, to much to ask democrats to stop looking the other way? Is parsing the difference between marriage and civil unions the best the democratic party can do while republicans fag bait them? We are not a special interest group. We are human beings. Our humanity is under attack. Do you see people when you look at your gay and lesbian neighbors? Where is your outrage? Where is your goddamn conscience?

Look...let's just all try to get along for the next several months...okay...and...look...just between now and November...okay...the next time one of you gets an urge to tell the gay community that the alternative to voting for politicians who want to put knives in our hearts, is getting someone elected who is bad for your issues too, stop and drink a nice warm glass of Shut The Fuck Up!

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday July 21, 2004

The Uncase Against Same-Sex Marriage


What is striking about Gregory Kane's column against same sex marriage, is how little he has to say in it about same sex marriage.

Mr. Kane asks if there isn't a compelling state interest in preserving the nuclear family unit of husband, wife and children. What he doesn't say is how equal marriage rights for same sex couples will destabilize those marriages. He argues that polygamy was once found to be against compelling state interests. But if the stability of families is an issue, then polygamy is categorically different from same sex marriage. A marriage means the individuals are bound by oath and the law to stop looking for other partners. A polygamous union by definition, allows for remarriage at will, bringing new people into the household at any time. You can debate the effect this has on families, but what you can't argue is that this doesn't make polygamy a fundamentally different thing.

But why should society encourage or even care about the fidelity and stability of homosexual couples? Mr. Kane's own column of June 2 on the "down low" may provide a clue or two.

Mr. Kane says that it was not heterosexuals, but the culture of whoopee, that has ruined the institution or marriage. Well, that explains why the bible belt states have such high divorce, teen pregnancy and STD rates compared to elsewhere. It was not the left that made moral seriousness laughable. It is the right that has encouraged people to turn away from moral concerns, by making morality a byword for small minded prejudice. If society seems to have no brakes nowadays, thank the right for making moral seriousness look ridiculous. I disagree that marriage is in ruins, but if it ever were to become so, it will in large measure because of the efforts of conservatives like Mr. Kane to turn it from a celebration of love and mutual commitment, into a ritual of intolerance and exclusion. Does Mr. Kane really want people to one day come to regard marriage in the same way they now regard separate drinking fountains? If anything is going to ruin marriage, it will be that.

In a column arguing against same sex marriage, Mr. Kane talks about polygamy, whoopee, teen pregnancies, STDs, and incest. What he doesn't talk about is same sex marriage. But an argument against same sex marriage is not made, by making an argument against something it isn't. Same sex marriage is not polygamy and does not get teenagers pregnant. Holding sexual fidelity up as a standard for gay couples too is not cultural whoopee, but its opposite, and how that would contribute to the spread of STDs I don't know, and Mr. Kane does not explain. If Mr. Kane has any actual arguments to offer as to why two devoted people of the same sex should not be married, then like the preacher says, "speak now, or forever hold your peace."

Bruce Garrett
Baltimore, Maryland.
by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday July 20, 2004

Sea Of Tranquility

I'm fifteen years old. I'm sitting in front of the family television set. Its cabinet is mahogany, and inside it is full of vacuum tubes and multi-colored wires. The image it will display is black and white, but that was okay because much of what I watched on television, even then, was only broadcast in black and white. When my parents bought it I felt it was the high tech of its day, because it came with a UHF tuner built right in. Now I could watch all those mysterious stations above channel thirteen. But the previous year a neighbor had let me watch the premiere of the second season of Star Trek on her color TV and I think my jaw spent the whole hour on the floor.

But at the moment, I don't reckon color important. The broadcast I am waiting for, breathlessly, would be in black and white, just like all the episodes of Outer Limits or The Space Explorers or Radar Men From The Moon I'd once sat raptly through. I'm holding my camera in my hands, a Kodak Brownie Fiesta, which took twelve shots on a roll of 127 film. I had it loaded with a film I'd never used before, a high speed black and white film designated by Kodak as Tri-X. Several weeks before I'd done some experiments with it, to make sure that what I was about to attempt was even possible. It was July 20, 1969, and the personal VCR was still years in the future.

Here is one of the twelve pictures I took. I snapped this particular one right when I heard the voice on the television say, "I'm going to step off the LM now..."

The August processing date on the photo is probably due to the fact that in those days you often had to wait a week or more to get your pictures back, and during the summer vacation months, the film labs were anything but fast.

I have a digital camera now (in addition to my trusty Canon F1s), and desktop computer for processing its images that is more powerful then anything in any 1969 computer room. If I wanted to capture a television news broadcast I could pop a TV card into it, and make a DVD. Chances are I'd be recording it off of one of the channels my satellite TV receiver gets from the dish on my rooftop, which picks up signals from two different geosynchronous satellites. I could rattle off dozens of items of space technology that even members of my generation now take utterly for granted, but let me note just one other: weather satellite imagery. Every morning, before I take my walk into work, I always look at the weather satellite pictures. I am thoroughly used to watching the weather from space now. My mental image of the weather now irrevocably includes that space point of view. I'm certain the class of 2004 takes that point of view for granted. And so do I. But I can call that 1969 point of view back to mind and I'm telling you, our world may have become much smaller in one sense, but its richer, and vastly more beautiful.

The last person to walk on the moon did so in December of 1972, the year I graduated from High School. Star Trek is not only still on the air, it has become a franchise. And space opera has become much more convincing now, then it was back when the Jupiter II dangled from wires on Lost In Space. Don't get me wrong here, I like Science-Fiction, but my prayer is that this isn't because when we saw how difficult and dangerous turning the dream of reaching for the stars would be in reality, we decided to settle for fantasy instead. To paraphrase the writer Mary Renault, dreams are the food of the soul, but the soul can't live to eat, it must live to do.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday July 19, 2004

Seymour Hersh And The Rape Of Young Boys At Abu Ghraib

A reader brings to my attention the fact that there is evidence supporting Hersh's statements in the Taguba Report.

What the public has seen of the Taguba Report is little more than a 50 page summary. There are over 6000 pages in the report, however, with supporting evidence.

Among that evidence is testimony that backs up Seymour Hersh's assertions. See these actual copies of documents from the Taguba report, which are on the Washington Post website:

Here, and here. When I get a chance later today...I'll dig into these. Man...this is one of those few times I could wish I had a comments section implemented.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

This Week's Cartoons.

I did two this week, and with everything going on over the Federal Marriage Amendment I could have wished for the whole week off to just do political cartoons. There's a lot I still have left to get off my chest about it. Hopefully I can get to some of it this week too.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday July 18, 2004

The Bomber's Brother

Nicholas Kristof has a column in yesterday's New York Times, which is a rare sight: somebody in a major news organization takes note of the similarities in the bloody mindedness of Islamic fundamentalists, and America's own religious right.

If the latest in the "Left Behind" series of evangelical thrillers is to be believed, Jesus will return to Earth, gather non-Christians to his left and toss them into everlasting fire:

"Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and a yawning chasm opened in the earth, stretching far and wide enough to swallow all of them. They tumbled in, howling and screeching, but their wailing was soon quashed and all was silent when the earth closed itself again."
These are the best-selling novels for adults in the United States, and they have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. The latest is "Glorious Appearing," which has Jesus returning to Earth to wipe all non-Christians from the planet. It's disconcerting to find ethnic cleansing celebrated as the height of piety.

But doesn't all ethnic cleansing have that taint of piety to it? The evil other, vanquished from the earth...the people at the right hand of god, victorious? To find it disconcerting that genocide and religious piety are somewhat more then friends, is to confess to an astounding degree of innocence for an adult. And it is especially ironic in the context of a discussion of arab, verses western religious piety and murder, because in the arab world they still talk about the Crusades as if they only happened yesterday. But yes, it's high time we started talking about our own Taliban and their appallingly similar hatreds, their bloody, militant rhetoric.

If a Muslim were to write an Islamic version of "Glorious Appearing" and publish it in Saudi Arabia, jubilantly describing a massacre of millions of non-Muslims by God, we would have a fit. We have quite properly linked the fundamentalist religious tracts of Islam with the intolerance they nurture, and it's time to remove the motes from our own eyes.

Kristoff notes with some amazement, that the Jesus of Glorious Appearing doesn't merely disembowel the heathens, but their horses too.

In "Glorious Appearing," Jesus merely speaks and the bodies of the enemy are ripped open. Christians have to drive carefully to avoid "hitting splayed and filleted bodies of men and women and horses."

"The riders not thrown," the novel continues, "leaped from their horses and tried to control them with the reins, but even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted and their tongues disintegrated. . . . Seconds later the same plague afflicted the horses, their flesh and eyes and tongues melting away, leaving grotesque skeletons standing, before they, too, rattled to the pavement."

If your first thought is, what on earth did the horse do to deserve that, consider that for ages these people have been waving not only Leviticus, but the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the faces of your gay and lesbian neighbors, the denoument of which you may recall, is the casting of the cities and all their people into eternal fire...including children and infants. This is what they call righteousness. Another name for it would be genocide. But realize that even genocide is not enough for them. Satisfaction doesn't just come from seeing the hated other merely wiped off the earth, they must endure screaming pain for eternity. What kind of person revels in that? What kind of person calls it righteous? What Kristof is seeing there, is the bottomless Pit that is all that is left, when hate has dissolved away the last shred of human conscience. It is not religion. It is hate, using religion as its old and reliable excuse. We can point our fingers at Islamic fundamentalists in the arab world and their venomous hate, but there's a lot of that here in America too.

For generations in this country, we have allowed fundamentalism to excuse itself on the grounds that it is a deeply held religious belief. Somehow, that is not only supposed to silence any debate about the role of fundamentalism in society, but also stop anyone from looking too closely at it. Its essential ugliness has also acted as a kind of natural defense mechanism too, as people shrink away from the sight of their seemingly civilized neighbors, waxing rhapsodic about lakes of fire filled to the brim with men, women and adolescent children in screaming agony for all eternity. As a society, we have practiced avoidance, not only in the name of religious pluralism, but just getting along. We have written fundamentalism off as an irrelevant backwater. We have been encouraged to paper over the irreducible difference between it and democracy, and blithely accept the smiling reassurances of the fundamentalists, that they really mean us no harm, that they are just warning us, in love, about the hellfire that awaits us if we do not renounce our own deeply held values, and become one of them. We grant the essential good will of the fundamentalist, in a way that is never considered when the topic is, say, communism. Communism is evil, because it exists in opposition to democracy, because it cannot tolerate freedom of conscience, because communists want to overthrow our democracy, and replace it with a totalitarian state, because communism in practice is fantastically bloody. And fundamentalism is...what again?

No, I don't think the readers of "Glorious Appearing" will ram planes into buildings. But we did imprison thousands of Muslims here and abroad after 9/11, and ordinary Americans joined in the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in part because of a lack of empathy for the prisoners. It's harder to feel empathy for such people if we regard them as infidels and expect Jesus to dissolve their tongues and eyes any day now.

Eric Rudolph didn't use a plane, and perhaps he was not a regular reader of the Left Behind series. But he is to American Christian fundamentalism, what Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is to Arab Islamic fundamentalism. They are brothers in arms, against a common enemy. a prison interview, Mahmud Abouhalima, convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, stated that his war isn't against Christians but U.S. "secularists" who are exporting their way of life to the Muslim world. As Abouhalima told professor Mark Juerensmeyer of the University of California at Santa Barbara, living in America allowed him "to understand what the hell is going on in the United States and in Europe about secularism of people, you know, who have no religion." He said the United States would be better off with a Christian government because "at least it would have morals."
-Robert Scheer, Salon.Com

Its been well said that one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. We need to clear the smoke from our eyes about the events of 9-11. This isn't a fight against terrorism. Terrorism is just another form of war, and the last time we fought a war to end all war, it turned out to be the prelude to another world war. This is not about terrorism. It is about tyranny verses democracy. It is about totalitarianism verses liberty and justice for all. We are fighting throwbacks to the rule of tyrants, who always claimed to be the hand of god, if not gods themselves. We are fighting against an enemy that cannot endure any form of government that treats the heathens as their equal, and allows them to live their lives in peace. It is anathema. They hate it. They will always hate it.

We must defend it. But to do that, we must confront fundamentalism not only abroad, but here at home too. We can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to it, when they wax rhapsodical about the genocide of millions of non-believers, whether it's a moslem cleric calling for the extermination of Jews, or a couple of best selling American novelists writing about Jesus filling the streets of America with the disemboweled bodies of Americans they regard as heathens. We need to stop ignoring the rhetoric of fundamentalism, and call it for what it is: bloodthirsty, genocidal pornography. It is anti-democratic. It will always exist in opposition to the American values of liberty and justice for all. This is not so much a clash of civilizations and a clash of opposing morals and values, a fight between free people and tyrants that has echoed through the ages. The best way to engage the fundamentalists, is to shine a hard bright light on their morals and values. And when they bellyache that people are attacking their religion, the proper response to that accusation is these are your own words pal!

Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and a yawning chasm opened in the earth, stretching far and wide enough to swallow all of them. They tumbled in, howling and screeching, but their wailing was soon quashed and all was silent when the earth closed itself again.
"Glorious Appearing", Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

Genocide as righteousness. The hand of God, wiping the heathens off the face of the earth. Dachu. Srebrenica. Rwanda.

The genocide stunned Rwanda's Christian community. While clergy in many communities struggled to protect their congregations and died with them, a number of prominent Christian leaders joined in the killing spree and are facing prosecution. Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, the head of Rwanda's Seventh-day Adventist Church, is on trial, charged with luring Tutsi parishioners to his church in western Kibuye province then turning them over to Hutu militias who slaughtered 2,000 to 6,000 in a single day. The day before the massacre, Tutsi Adventist clergymen inside the church sent Ntakirutimana a now-famous letter, informing him that "tomorrow we will be killed with our families" and seeking his help. Survivors report that he replied: "You must be eliminated. God doesn't want you anymore."

Chicago Tribune, August 9 2002, "Rwandans Turning To Islam As Faith Shaken By Genocide"

That few Christians, and actually very little of Christianity embraces the genocidal impulse, is obvious, and bears repeating only because the fundamentalists insist that calling them on their bloody-mindedness is to attack Christianity itself. But to look away when religion is used as a means to incite hate and encourage the faithful to revel in bloodshed, is to leave the door open to mass murder. If 9-11 changed anything, it had better have changed this. No more looking the other way when fundamentalism incites hate. No more excuses when it rejoices in the suffering and death of the heathen. The beast it is teasing will not be leashed once it is out. The heathen could be any one of us. No more excuses. No more silence.

[Edited a tad for clarity]

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday July 16, 2004

Soundtrack To The Neoconservative Dream

The Daily Kos has an chilling transcript of the part of Seymour Hersh's speech to the ACLU 2004 America At A Crossroads conference, where he talks about the rape of young boys at Abu Ghraib:

Some of the worse that happened that you don't know about, ok. Videos, there are women there. Some of you may have read they were passing letters, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib which is 30 miles from Baghdad...

The women were passing messages saying "Please come and kill me, because of what's happened". Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it's going to come out.

It's impossible to say to yourself how do we get there? who are we? Who are these people that sent us there?

If these charges are proven, it is calamity. But there is still time to save our place in the civilized world...but only just. We have to come clean. Now. Right now. And then hold every single person involved, from the bottom of the totem pole, all the way to the oval office, accountable! Now! Right now! Every second we put off that terrible accounting, puts a distance between us and the rest of the civilized world. It could easily come to a place where we will never get it back, where the rest of the world will never look at us the same way again. We will be, at worse, pariahs, at best, wretched, disreputable denizens of a miserably failed experiment in self government, forever tainted by the sound of young boys screaming. In Vietnam we could always argue that we didn't intend to douse the screaming little girl with napalm. If what Hersh is saying there is true, and we do nothing proactively to confront it, but try pathetically to cover it up as though we are a nation of weak, miserable cowards, then Iraq will make us infamous.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


The Traditional Value Coalition is running a series on "Homosexual Urban Legends"...

This informational service is designed to provide reporters, editors, and other opinion leaders with accurate information on the relationship between homosexuality and the molestation of children. It will also expose and debunk dozens of factually inaccurate urban legends created by homosexual activist groups to promote their political and social agenda.

So it's anti-gay propaganda from a group well known for it, you say. So what else is new? But here's the graphic for this series:

They even include a helpful link, to let you add a banner for the series to your website. Here's the banner:

In case you're still not seeing the picture clearly, here are a couple of the icons they use in their home page, to identify the entries in their news list (I've enlarged these a tad, but they are otherwise unchanged). First, their "Homosexuality" icon:

And here's their "AIDS" icon:

Look at that last one again. Really look at it. It says it all. A peaceful, contented, happy couple in love, is their AIDS icon. I have talked here from time to time, about how the bigots can't see the people for the homosexuals, by which I mean they are constitutionally incapable of seeing us, of seeing our lives, as they actually are, apart from what their prejudices tell them to see. That's how prejudice works. That's how bigots think. But this really lays it bare. When these people (TVA and the anti-gay activists they speak for) look at a same sex couple in love, they see disease, they see filth, they see vermin.

And its imagery like this that gets people killed. This is hate mongering at it's most basic. It is dehumanizing the homosexual, stripping our humanity from us, turning us into monsters. And when gay bashers kill, it is those monsters, not people, that they are killing.

Gay Man Burned to Death in California

The Datalounge
Friday, 1 March 2002

SANTA BARBARA -- Hate crime charges were filed on Thursday against a California murder suspect who allegedly set an acquaintance on fire after learning the man was gay.

Martin Thomas Hartman, 38, surrendered to authorities on Tuesday and was held pending bond in the Santa Barbara County Jail. Prosecutors expect he will be arraigned shortly on charges of murder and arson.

The Associated Press reports Hartman could face the death penalty if convicted of all charges, including the recently added hate-crime allegation.

Hartman apparently broke into the 37-year-old victim's home, crept into his bedroom and set on fire. Police say the man burned to death fully conscious. When firefighters arrived he was dead. Hartman knew the man for about six months, but only recently found out he was gay.

"Marty Hartman said he has ill feelings toward gay people and decided to put the person out of his misery," said police Sgt. Mike McGrew. "He said he thought it was the right thing to do. ... He said he felt this person deserved to die."

Hartman's mother said she is certain her son is innocent. "It is not true," said Waltraudt Hartman. "He is not capable of this. He is a very religious man."

"The effort to create a new category of crime, the so-called hate crime, is actually an effort to punish individuals who stray from the current politically correct orthodoxy."
-The Traditional Values Coalition

Remember these images the next time you hear one of them say that they hate the sin, but love the sinner. Remember these images when you hear one of them say that their campaign is not anti-homosexual, but pro traditional values.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

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