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Wednesday June 8, 2005

Another Gay Teen Abused...

A long and gruesome post. But you should read it all.

Via John Aravosis, I discover another live blog story of a gay teen getting kicked around, only this time the mindless thugs are his own parents. It reminds me how lucky I was growing up, that I had a mother that actually loved me unconditionally. Over the years on the net, I've read growing up stories from gay adults that would make a stone heart break. Now, thanks to the widespread blogging phenomena, you can read about a gay kid's agony as it's happening. As I said before, some days you just want to put your fist through a wall.

Gay teen comes out to parents. Parents are, regrettably a couple of fundamentalist nutcases, whose love for their child is, like all fundamentalist love, grudging and conditional, which is to say it isn't love at all. Parents berate child mercilessly. Then they pack him away, to a nice little fundamentalist camp. But not just any nice little fundamentalist camp. This one's operated by a self hating "ex" gay. So you find yourself torn between the horror that the kid's just been thrown to the protestant version of the catholic abuser priest, or he's in the hands of a nutcase who needs a constant stream of young and innocent kids to take his self loathing out on. Guess which one this guy is.

I'm going to post a link to this kid's blog this time, in part because there is a small but lively youth protest / show of support for the inmates, happening now just outside this little gay kids torture camp, which goes by the ironic name Love In Action, which I would encourage any of my readers who can, to particpate in.

The kid's name is Zach. Here is his blog. Here is some of what he is going through right now:

May 29, 2005

Somewhat recently, as many of you know, I told my parents I was gay. This didn't go over very well, and it ended with my dad crying, my mom tearing, and me not knowing what I'd done - or what to do. It kind of.. went away for about a week or two I think. They claim it's beause they didn't want to interfere with my last week or two of school.

Yesterday they told me that I couldn't go anywhere until I got a job. Out of the blue. Because I'm the most irresponsible child my dad knows - as he told me - mainly because I forget to unload the dishwasher sometimes... it doesn't matter that I have to clean up after my sisters and myself everyday. It just doesn't.

Well today, my mother, father, and I had a very long "talk" in my room where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist christian program for gays. They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they "raised me wrong." I'm a big screw up to them, who isn't on the path God wants me to be on. So I'm sitting here in tears, joing the rest of those kids who complain about their parents on blogs - and I can't help it.

I wish I had never told them. I wish I just fought the urge two more years... I had done it for three before then, right? If I could take it all back.. I would, to where I never told my parents things and they always were mad at me-- It's better than them crying and depressed cause they will have no granchildren from me. It's better than them telling me that there's something wrong with me. It's better than them explaining to me that they "raised me wrong."

June 3, 2005

It's been a week of torture - anger, and crying.
Current mood: worried

Hi. I'm not sure if I'm even supposed to be on. I ran away for a short while. I came back and they took everything from me, they don't want me to have outside influences-- i dont know how long im going to be on, because if tehy wake up, im screwed. The program starts June 6 and is until either teh 17th or the 20th. I'm sorry I don't have time to write back o all of the comments and messages. I'm just here to let everyone know I am still alive, I'm sure you've left messages on my cellphone, they took that.. and my keys... and the computer.. and I've been homebound. -=sigh=- I just need this to be over. Don't worry. I'll get through this. They've promised me things will get better whether this program does anything or not. Let's hope they aren't lying. I've been through hell. I've been emotionally torn apart for three days... I can't remember which days they were.. time's not what it used to be.

June 3, 2005
Thanks.. by the way.
Current mood: numb

Thanks. Thank you for all of the comments and messages, they mean a lot. really. I was shocked to see all of this... of course I haven't been on a computer, phone, nor have I seen any friends in a week almost-- Soon. Soon, this will be all over. My mother has said the worst things to me for three days straight... three days. I went numb. That's the only way I can get through this. I agree, if you're thinking that these posts might be dramatized.. but the proof of the programs ideas are sitting in the rules. I pray this blows over. I can't take this... noone can... not really, this kind of thing tears you apart emotionally. To introduce THIS subject... I'm not a suicidal person... really I'm not.. I think it's stupid - really. But.. I can't help it, no im not going to commit suicide, all I can think about is killing my mother and myself. It's so horrible. This is what it's doing to me... I have this horrible feeling all of the time... I wish this on no person... I'm so satisfied--happy's too strong of a word the state I'm in-- that everyone's taking the time to email and write letters in complaint to these people. I dont know if it will do anything, but if something did happen it would be -- awesome.

Suicide. Can you understand why gay teens are way more likely to take their own lives then all other at risk teen groups? And what of John Smid, the self hating closet case director of Love In Action? How concerned is he that his charges may end up far more likely dead then straight?

I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery.

The Final Indoctrination from John Smid, Director, Love In Action

This is the heart of darkness. Look into it. They would rather gay kids kill themselves then live decent, productive, whole lives as well adjusted gay people, or barring that, live as empty shells with all the wonder and joy of life wrung out of them. And they are the righteous cloth of God Himself. A thief might kill you for your money. A psychopath for pleasure. But only fundamentalist would kill you alive, leave you dead and empty inside of your own skin, in the name of Love, in the name of Jesus Christ, and tearfully praise God at the sight of another sterile heart, another empty soul. Good news more beating heart hardened like a mill stone forever and ever...amen... Here is the heart of darkness. Look into it.

What follows are the Love In Action rules that Zach wasn't supposed to see. It's a tad long but I feel they're worth putting right here in this post, rather then linked to separately. You should read this, not skim it. This is what they're forcibly subjecting gay teenagers to, solely for being gay. This isn't about straightening up a kid who keeps shoplifting or beating up people. It's about breaking down the self image of gay kids, and replacing it with that bottomless void a fundamentalist keeps mistaking for a soul. This is about cutting the heart out of a kid, and making damn sure they are never, never, never again able to love and accept love in return, because if there is anything a fundamentalist hates more then sin, it's love. Note the military prison flavor to these words, and recall while you're reading this, that this that these people regard themselves as followers of Christ, and regard you who are appalled that any of this is being done to children, as a follower of Satan:

Refuge Program Rules
Exceptions to program rules will be granted by C.O.C. (Chain of Command) only.


One of the core functions of the Refuge is the common pursuit of corporate sobriety from sin. The program strives to perpetuate a safe environment that is ripe for growth and for hearing from God. The sobriety of each individual is a key focus.

Galatians 5:19 - 21: 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envying, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:12-15: 12 "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are expedient. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be brought under the power of anything. 13 "Foods for the belly, and the belly for foods," but God will bring to nothing both it and them. But the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 14 Now God raised up the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Don't you know that your bodies are members of Christ? Will I then take away the members of Christ, and make them members of a prostitute? Certainly not!

1 Corinthians 6:18: 18 Flee sexual immorality. "Every sin that a man does is outside the body," but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

1 Thessalonians 4:2-5: 2 For you know what charge we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God: your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality, 4 that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust...

1. No smoking, alcohol, drugs, or inappropriate use of over-the-counter medications. All prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications must be left in the care of a parent or guardian, who will administer them when necessary. Refuge clients may not have prescription or over-the-counter drugs in their possession at any time, exceptions by C.O.C. approval only.

2. No sexual/emotional misconduct. Any temptations, fantasies, or dreams are to be presented to oneıs staff worker only. Sexual misconduct includes viewing pornography, visiting an adult bookstore, emotional dependency, voyeurism, stalking, masturbation, mutual masturbation, or any form of genital or sexual contact with another person. Sexual temptation, as well as the above, is not to be discussed between clients. This includes MI's (Moral Inventories) written on current sexual struggles or temptations).

3. No hugging or physical touch between clients. Brief handshakes or a brief affirmative hand on a shoulder is allowed (exception is when observed by therapeutic accountability).

4. Clients are to remain within the ³safe zone² while in the program. This "zone" is illustrated on a map of the Memphis area in the office. An exception is for clients who reside or are staying outside the safe zone, and commuting to the Love in Action campus.


Small unhealthy habits can either reflect or lead to dysfunctional, life-controlling habits. Attention to the details of daily lifestyle is a pivotal aspect of residential recovery.

Luke 10:27: 27 He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

Luke 16:10: 10 He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. He who is unrighteous in a very little is also unrighteous in much.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20: 19 Or don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

Psalm 139:13-14: 13 For you formed my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I will give thanks to you, For I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. My soul knows that very well.

1. All clients must maintain appropriate hygiene, including daily showering, use of deodorant, and brushing teeth twice daily.

Men: Men must remove all facial hair seven days weekly, and sideburns must not fall below the top of the ear (the top of the ear is defined as where the ear meets the face below the temple). Clean business-like haircuts must be worn at all times. Hair must be long enough to be pinched between two fingers.

Women: Women must shave legs and underarms at least twice weekly.

All: Only natural hair color is allowed. Hair that is colored, highlighted or streaked, mut be dyed back to its original color, or the color must be cut out before entrance into the Refuge program.

2. Attire: General

Modesty is expected. No tight, provocative, or suggestive clothing or spandex may be worn. No provocative or suggestive mannerisms are permitted. Fresh undergarments are to be worn at all times. Boxer shorts of any kind are considered underwear and are not to be worn as outer clothing. All clients must be dressed appropriately in clean, unwrinkled clothes when leaving the house for the day. Men may not wear any jewelry (other than a watch and a wedding band) unless approved through a C.O.C. In addition to a watch and wedding band, women may also wear a pair of simple earrings (one earring per ear.) The clients may not wear Abercrombie and Fitch or Calvin Klein brand clothing, undergarments, or accessories.

Men: Shirts are to be worn at all times, even while sleeping. T-shirts without sleeves are not permitted at any time, whether worn as an outer garment or an undergarment. This includes ³muscle shirts² or other tank-tops. Bikini-style underwear is prohibited.

Women: Bras must be worn at all times, except while sleeping. Thong-style underwear is prohibited.

Attire: LIA Campus

In addition to the General Attire above, the following items apply. No torn, ragged, or stained clothing is to be worn at any time while on campus. Monday through Thursday, clients must wear pants, a clean shirt, and shoes or sandals with socks. Jeans and a nice t-shirt are acceptable. On Friday, clients may wear clean, knee-length khaki or denim-style shorts. No athletic or excessively baggy shorts may be worn on campus at any time. No hats, jackets, or overcoats are to be worn on campus

Women: In addition to these guidelines, women may also wear skirts which fall at or below the knee. Women may wear tank-tops only if they are worn with an over-blouse. Women may wear open-toed shoes or womenıs dress sandals without socks. Bras must be worn at all times, except while sleeping. Sports bras may only be worn while working out. No sleeveless blouses may be worn. All blouses and t-shirts must fit modestly (not extremely tight).

3. No cologne, perfume, or use of other highly scented hygiene products.

Therapeutic & Staff Issues

A goal of the Source is to be purposeful and strategic in order to help clients pursue growth and transformation. The principles below are common elements of this plan.

Romans 13:1-5: 1 Let every soul be in subjection to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those who be are ordained by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authority, withstands theordinance of God; and those who withstand will receive to themselves judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same, 4 for he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he doesn't bear the sword in vain; for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him who does evil. 5 Therefore you need to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscienceıs sake.

Hebrews 13:17: 17 Obey those who have the rule over you, and submit to them, for they watch on behalf of your souls, as those who will give account, that they may do this with joy, and not with groaning, for that would be unprofitable for you.



3. All clients are expected to memorize the Program Expectations as they summarize the spirit and heart of the rules of Love in Action.

4. All Refuge program members must complete four MI's (Moral Inventories) per week unless otherwise instructed. Detailed instruction on writing MIıs will be provided within the first few days of beginning the program.

5. Refuge clients will be prepared to give an Introduction (³Intro²) at every Intro Rap. Detailed instruction on giving an intro will be provided within the first few days of the program.

6. To make special requests of the staff or inform the staff of something (e.g. asking permission to leave the safe zone for some reason, informing the staff of a breach in program rules, etc.), Refuge clients must communicate appropriately. This means filling out a Chain of Command (C.O.C.) form. All C.O.C.ıs must be signed by the Refuge clientıs parent or guardian before being submitted to a staff member, or the C.O.C. will be returned with no answer. All C.O.C.ıs must be concise and not ³story tell² or ³whine.² Such will be returned with no reply.

7. No continuing education while in the program. Home-school Refuge clients may be allowed to continue their studies during the program, pending approval by LIA staff.

6. Refuge clients and their parents/guardians are required to attend Love in Actionıs host church, Germantown Baptist Church, on Sunday mornings. More information about GBC can be found online at

7. Parents and guardians are expected to attend the Friends and Family support group on Thursday nights from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., held at the Love in Action campus. Refuge clients will be supervised during this time by a Love in Action staff member.

8. Refuge clients and their parents/guardians are expected to attend Love in Actionıs Open Meetings whenever they occur, held on the first Tuesday of every month at Kirby Woods Baptist Church at 7:30 p.m.

9. Refuge clients are expected to maintain a committed pursuit of a positive and thankful attitude.

10. Absolutely no journaling or keeping a diary outside of the MI process unless directed or approved by staff.

11. Absolutely no calling staff outside business hours unless it is an emotional, therapeutic, or physical emergency, or unless prior permission from staff has been obtained.

12. Additional (i.e. beyond one per week) one-on-one counseling sessions will be granted by C.O.C. appointment only.

False Image (FI) Concerns

Through the Source, God renews clientsı minds and lives, helping them to put off the old self and put on the new. False images are items or behaviors that are of the old self.

Proverbs 8:6-8: 6 Hear, for I will speak excellent things. The opening of my lips is for right things. 7 For my mouth speaks truth. Wickedness is an abomination to my lips. 8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness. There is nothing crooked or perverse in them.

Ephesians 4:17-25: 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts; 19 who having become callous gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ that way; 21 if indeed you heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man, that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit; 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new man, that like God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. 25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor. For we are members one of another.

1. LIA wants to encourage each client, male and female, by affirming his/her gender identity. LIA also wants each client to pursue integrity in all of his/her actions and appearances. Therefore, any belongings, appearances, clothing, actions, or humor that might connect a client to an inappropriate past are excluded from the program. These hindrances are called False Images (FIıs). FI behavior may include hyper-masculinity, seductive clothing, mannish/boyish attire (on women), excessive jewelry (on men), mascoting, and "campy" or gay/lesbian behavior and talk.

2. As non-residential clients, Refuge participants must submit to an F.I. search every morning. With the exception of the very first program day, when they may arrive no later than 9:00 a.m., Refuge clients will arrive daily at the Love in Action campus no later than 8:50 a.m., waiting in a designated area until a staff member meets them to perform the F.I. search and check them in. Refuge clients may not enter any of the client spaces on campus before submitting to an F.I. search. All belongings brought to campus will be searched, including book bags, notebooks, wallets, handbags, purses, etc. Items that violate the F.I. policy or the dress code will be held for the client, to be returned no later than the clientıs last day in program. Clients may request to have their F.I. items returned by filling out a C.O.C.

3. All photographs will be taken for the purpose of sobering re-evaluation. Clients may request to have pictures returned to them via C.O.C.

4. Refuge clients will not be allowed to use personally owned computers during the program, whether on campus or at home/in temporary lodging. Computer stations are normally available on campus when clients need to type something.

5. Clients should report all FI's (with discretion), whether their own or another's, to staff.

Campus Rules

LIA honors clients' confidentiality and time. A campus structure has been established that will ensure a fair and balanced approach to every client.

1 Corinthians 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

1. No visiting or entering staff offices unless prior permission is given.

2. While on the LIA campus, Refuge clients must be in phase at all times, whether indoors or out of doors. A client is ³in phase² when he or she is with two or more other clients (whether Refuge or residential,) one of whom must have been in the program for at least eight weeks. Exceptions to phase rules will be granted by C.O.C. request only.

3. Further campus rules which are still being developed and revised will be communicated to Refuge clients on their arrival.

Relationship Issues

Emotional dependency and inappropriate sexual behaviors have their roots in unresolved relationship issues as well as poor personal or relational boundaries. As a key part to his/her recovery, each clientıs program will focus significant attention on resolving relationship concerns and cultivating healthy relationships, both within and outside of the program.

Psalm 133:1-3: 1 See how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, That ran down on the beard, Even Aaron's beard; That came down on the edge of his robes; 3 Like the dew of Hermon, That comes down on the hills of Zion: For there Yahweh gives the blessing, Even life forevermore.

Romans 15:5-6: 5 Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of the same mind one with another according to Christ Jesus, 6 that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 17:22 The glory which you have given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one.

Ephesians 4:1-3: 1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and humility, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love; 3 being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

1. No physical violence or physically threatening dialogue. Violation of this rule warrants immediate dismissal from the program.

2. No breaching another person's confidentiality to anyone outside the program.

3. No talking behind another person's back (TBB).

4. The 24-hour rule is to be used after challenging another client who is in breach of the program rules. If one notices that another clientıs inappropriate behavior continues, the client should be challenged to report to staff. If in 24 hours he/she has not done so, one is required to report the breach to staff via C.O.C. or verbal communication.

5. Due to the nature of many gender identity struggles, issues of enmeshment and emotional dependency can develop not only with same sex, but sometimes even more easily with the opposite sex. Because healthy and appropriate same and opposite-sex relationships are encouraged, dating and exclusive relationships of any kind are prohibited while in the program.

6. Clients may have no contact with anyone who has left the program prior to graduating without the blessing of the staff to do so. Clients may address off-limit persons they inadvertently encounter with a polite "hello" only.

7. While in the program, clients may have no contact with anyone involved in unrepentant emotional dependencies, inappropriate sexual behaviors, or chemical dependencies. This includes any contact with friends struggling with dependency issues or inappropriate sexual behavior that was known about prior to entering the program. If such a person is encountered, the client must make his/her staff worker aware of this.

8. Refuge clients and their parents/guardians will be participating in off-campus events and meetings where non-program strugglers are in attendance. To encourage the safety of all involved, clients are required to be in phase when communicating with non-program strugglers at these meetings, and will be prohibited from establishing contact with them outside of the these meetings.

Safekeeping Rules

1. All new Refuge clients will be placed into Safekeeping for the initial two to three days of their program. A client on safekeeping may not communicate verbally, or by using hand gestures or eye contact, with any other clients, staff members, or his/her parents or guardians. In case of a practical need, Safekeeping clients may write down their question or request and show it to another client, staff member, or their parent or guardian. Writing may only be used when absolutely necessary. Parents and guardians must enforce their childıs safekeeping status at home or in their temporary lodging.

2. Refuge clients may C.O.C. to be removed from Safekeeping status. Safekeeping clients will be removed from Safekeeping at their staffworkerıs discretion.

3. Any client may be placed into Safekeeping at any time, at a staffworkerıs discretion.

4. Safekeeping clients are permitted to say ³hello² and to communicate enough information to be courteous in public interaction (mostly in the clientsı church setting).

5. Safekeeping clients are required to spend a minimum of two hours (in one sitting) a day alone in their room (note: by ³alone² it is understood that parents or guardians can be in the room but are not to interact or disrupt the alone time of the safekeeping client). During the alone time Safekeeping clients may work on their treatment plans, read program materials or the Bible, pray, or work on other assignments from their staffworkers.

6. In the evenings, all Refuge Safekeeping clients must remain at home or at their temporary lodging with their parent or guardian (i.e. no going out to eat, to the store, etc. during Safekeeping.)

7. Non-Safekeeping clients are responsible to protect and uphold the Safekeeping parameters of the Safekeeping clients.

Rules for the Home/Temporary Lodging

Hebrews 6:11-12: 11 We desire that each one of you may show the same diligence to the fullness of hope even to the end, 12 that you won't be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises.

Ephesians 4:22-24: 22 that you put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man, that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit; 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new man, that like God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.

Refuge encourages all clients to first focus internally. Why is the client here? What is broken? What is the core motivation of the clientıs unhealthy behavior? Staff members will work with clients as they learn what is wrong and as they take the steps to articulate it. Second, staff emphasize the need for each client to seek the truth of God. What does He have to say about each client and his/her pain? The rules that follow are designed to both protect the client and facilitate his/her wrestling with God.

Colossians 3:9-10: 9 Don't lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings, 10 and have put on the new man, that is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator...

1 Kings 9:4: 4 As for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep my statutes and my ordinances...

Psalm 7:8-9: 8 Yahweh administers judgment to the peoples. Judge me, Yahweh, according to my righteousness, And to my integrity that is in me.9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the righteous; Their minds and hearts are searched by the righteous God.

Proverbs 10:9: 9 He who walks blamelessly walks surely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out.

Proverbs 11:2-3: 2 When pride comes, then comes shame, But with humility comes wisdom. 3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them, But the perverseness of the treacherous shall destroy them.

Proverbs 13:13: 13 Whoever despises instruction will pay for it, But he who respects a command will be rewarded.

Proverbs 20:7: 7 A righteous man who walks in his integrity, Blessed are his children after him.

Genesis 32:24-28: 24 Jacob was left alone, and wrestled with a man there until the breaking of the day. 25 When he saw that he didn't prevail against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was strained, as he wrestled. 26 The man said, "Let me go, for the day breaks." Jacob said, "I won't let you go, unless you bless me." 27 He said to him, "What is your name?" He said, "Jacob." 28 He said, "Your name will no longer be called 'Jacob,' but, 'Israel,' for you have fought with God and with men, and have prevailed."

1 Chronicles 29:18: 18 Yahweh, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of your people, and prepare their heart to you...

Isaiah 49:13-15: 13 Sing, heavens; and be joyful, earth; and break forth into singing, mountains: for Yahweh has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted. 14 But Zion said, Yahweh has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me. 15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, these may forget, yet I will not forget you.

Matthew 9:36: 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, as sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 14:14: 14 Jesus went out, and he saw a great multitude. He had compassion on them, and healed their sick.

Matthew 20:34: 34 Jesus, being moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received their sight, and they followed him.

Luke 10:40-42: 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she came up to him, and said, "Lord, don't you care that my sister left me to serve alone? Ask her therefore to help me." 41 Jesus answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her."

Luke 10:29-30: 29 Jesus said, "Most assuredly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or land, for my sake, and for the gospel's sake, 30 but he will receive one hundred times now in this time, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land, with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life.

Exodus 20:12: 12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.

Malachi 4:6: 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse."

1. No discussing therapeutic issues at home. Keep conversations positive.

2. Clients must gain permission through C.O.C. to make or receive phone calls from friends and family members outside the program.

3. No cell phones, beepers, computers, or e-mail/internet access at. Exceptions by C.O.C. approval only.

4. No visitors from out of town without permission via C.O.C.

5. Refuge clients may only read materials approved by staff.

6. No television viewing, going to movies, or reading/watching/listening to secular media of any kind, anywhere within the clientıs and the parentıs/guardianıs control. This includes listening to classical or instrumental music that is not expressly Christian (Beethoven, Bach, etc. are not considered Christian). The only exception to the media policy is the weekly movie.

7. Refuge clients may watch one video/DVD per week that has been approved by staff via C.O.C. Movies submitted for approval must be rated G or PG. The parents/guardians are responsible for securing the video/DVD.

8. Weekend curfew (Friday and Saturday) is 10:00pm. Weekday curfew (Sunday through Thursday) is 9:30pm.

9. Refuge clients must be with at least one parent or guardian at all times when off-campus.

10. On certain occasions Refuge clients have the opportunity, with the C.O.C. approval and their parent/guardianıs permission, to visit the residential houses of the Source program clients. On these occasions Refuge clients must be in phase at all times, and must abide by all the house rules and follow instructions given by Source program house managers. House rules will be communicated to Refuge clients as the need arises. Refuge clients are encouraged to ask for clarification if they are unsure about a particular house rule.

11. Refuge clients may not enter any restuarants with bars, even when accompanied by a parent or guardian.

12. Refuge clients must be accompanied by a parent during any trip to a public restroom.

13. No access to malls of any kind.

14. Clients are not allowed to visit any video, music or media stores that are not expressly Christian, even if accompanied by a parent or guardian. Clients may visit LifeWay Christian stores with a parent or guardian.

15. Refuge clients must report off-casmpus emergencies, illnesses, or injuries to their parents/guardians as soon as possible. Parents/guardians are required to inform LIA staff members of such situations by phone as soon as possible.

16. Total silence time at home begins at 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Refuge clients may use this time for resting, but are encouraged to make a habit of using it for a nightly quiet time with God.

17. Lights-out time will begin each night at 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

18. Refuge clients are allowed a one-time 15-minute maximum closed bathroom door time for shower/grooming purposes. The only other closed-door alone time allowed is for using the restroom.

19. Refuge clients must keep their bedroom doors open at all times, day or night.

20. Proper bedclothes must be worn during nighttime sleeping hours. Appropriate bedclothes include full pajamas (tops and bottoms) or a pair of non-underwear-type shorts and a T-shirt. Nightgowns are not allowed.

21. Refuge clients are expected to eat dinner with their parents/guardians/other family members (if any) at least four times per week.

22. Refuge clients are expected to cook dinner one time per week.

On-Level Rules

"On-Level" is a protective and therapeutic measure that is sometimes implemented between clients who are having relational difficulties.

1. On-level clients may not speak to each other unless there is a potentially life-threatening emergency.

2. On-level clients are to spend no time alone with each other.

3. On-level clients are not allowed to ride in the same car unless C.O.C. permission has been granted, in which case, one must sit in the front of the car, and one must sit in the back of the car.

4. On-level clients, whenever in the same room, must always have exactly one person between them, whether sitting or standing. Planned activities such as church, Open Meetings, and socials are no exception.

5. On-level status can be initiated by any staff member or house manager.

6. On-level status can be removed only by Executive Staff.

Group Norms

1. Be honest, authentic, and real.

2. Active participation is expected. This includes body language and eye contact. No slouching in chairs, sitting back on chairs hind legs, sitting with arms crossed, rolling eyes, or making disgusting faces.

3. No attacking or demeaning another person's character.

4. Raise hand to speak. Speak one at a time as called on by the facilitator.

5. Maintain strict confidentiality of everything discussed in group. "What is seen here, what is heard here, remains here!"

6. Clients are to sit in such a way as to not cause another to stumble.

7. No food or drink during rap. This includes chewing gum and toothpicks.

8. Appropriate attire is required. No hats, athletic or baggy shorts (for men), or extremely short skirts (for women) are allowed. 9. Say "I love you _____" after each person is finished relating.

10. Be on time!

11. Do not talk at, preach to, or teach one another. Each person should keep the focus on him/herself and how he/she feels.

12. Do not be defensive. While being spoken to, one may not respond to defend him/herself or return confrontation to the person speaking.

13. If one needs to leave the group for any reason, he/she must ask permission from the staff in charge of the group session.

14. Stand when speaking, relating, or being related to. During general raps, one must stand while relating. One must also stand when someone is being given feedback or being related to. Standing is not necessary during teaching raps.

Men/Women Dynamics

The following common courtesies apply to relational dynamics between men and women. While these are not rules and may initially feel a little awkward, they are strongly encouraged as practical guidelines to promote mutual respect and honor. It is LIAıs hope that these suggestions will become common practices and help to nurture a value of self and an appreciation for others.

Places of Honor for Women:
Respect for women may be shown by offering them first priority in a number of ways:

1. Please invite women (not just LIA clients) to be the first in line to eat.

2. Encourage women to accept the more comfortable seats in a room. Men should consider offering a woman their chair when there are none left in the room.

3. Men should think about opening doors for women, both when entering a building and when entering a car. This simply adds a level of respect, consideration, and value.

Honoring Both Genders:
Be mindful of the types of humor and communication used around one another. Jesting about bodily functions, discussing gender-specific issues when not in rap sessions (at the LIA office), and other conversation which could potentially be inappropriate to the opposite sex should be avoided.

Program Expectations

Therapeutic & Interpersonal Expectations

1. Clients are expected to affirm one another and edify their personal and corporate pursuit of growth and transformation. This includes a commitment to courageous honesty with respect, a commitment to sobriety in all manners of talk, action, and dress, the exercise of prudence, and honoring confidentiality and accountability.

2. Clients are expected to take responsibility for their environment and to inform appropriate authorities of program breaches. This is to be done using the 24-hour rule.

3. Clients are expected to give back. This includes watching out for oneıs brothers and sisters. It also includes the initiative of upper-phasers to provide accountability for lower-phasers.

4. Clients are expected to maintain a committed pursuit of a positive and thankful attitude.

5. Clients are expected to avoid peer-to-peer physical touch. Brief handshakes or a brief affirmative hand on a shoulder is allowed.

6. Clients are expected to actively identify and subsequently remove all personal and corporate FI's.

7. Clients are expected to avoid therapeutic topics of discussion with House Managers.

8. Clients are expected to make their homework a priority. Phase 1 clients must complete four MI's per week unless otherwise instructed. Phase 2 & Training clients must complete two MIıs per week unless otherwise instructed. Phase 1 clients will be prepared to do an Introduction at every Introduction Rap. All clients will be assigned a personalized treatment plan.

9. Clients are expected to plan ahead and communicate appropriately, following Chain of Command (C.O.C.) for any information or communication with staff.

Practical Expectations

1. All clients must maintain integrity in their personal presentation. This includes daily grooming and hygiene maintenance, bed-making, as well as regular bedroom and bathroom cleaning and maintenance.

2. Clients are expected to work either therapeutically or professionally Monday through Friday unless prior permission is granted through C.O.C. Clients who are not working are expected to be in the office.

3. Clients are expected to actively re-evaluate the influences of secular media. Phase 1 clients are restricted from television-viewing, internet access, secular media, or reading of any kind without specific permission. Clients may not enter any non-Christian bookstores. Phase 2 clients may use email and the internet at work for work purposes. Training program clients may listen to secular music. However, they may not listen to secular radio for the first 30 days. No secular music is allowed in residences or when around Phase 1 clients.

4. Clients are expected to honor their home environment by being on-time with cooking responsibilities, attending all weekly house meetings, dinner attendance, curfew, total silence, lights out, and by working cooperatively to complete all stewardships with a positive attitude.

5. Clients are expected to remain accountable with all relationships. No cell phones, phone calls, or contact with anyone outside the program without prior permission. Phase 2 and Training Program clients may make approved relational phone calls.

Refuge Program ­ Parental Rules (not to be given to client)

1. No discussing therapeutic issues at home. Keep conversations positive.

2. Clients are to be picked up from the LIA office no later than 5:00pm each weekday.

3. Respect all Love In Action and Refuge rules. If you do not understand them, support the program in front of client at all times and gain clarification from LIA staff. Do not sabotage or defocus your client.

4. Donıt allow client to split your family. Unite to present stability and unity.

5. Your client is not allowed to talk to anyone outside of your home including friends or family. Do not tell client who has called for them or who is asking about them. Keep the thoughts of the client focused on his/her treatment.

6. The family needs interactive time together. It is very important that togetherness is the priority during this time. The client does not need extended time alone or with only one family member. The only exception is for Refuge clients who are from out-of-town and staying with a significant guardian while here.

7. Family dinner is encouraged to occur at least four times weekly.

8. The client is expected to cook dinner at least one time weekly.

9. The client is expected to complete a weekly cleaning regimen to your satisfaction.

10. Parents/guardians are asked to make themselves available for any special meetings deemed necessary for the successful treatment of their loved ones.

11. If there is an "Open Meeting" during Refuge Program, parents/guardians are asked to attend to enhance their involvement with Refuge. Open meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30pm at Kirby Woods Baptist Church (on the corner of Poplar Ave. and Massey; entrance is located at the ground floor on the east side of building entrance).

Consequences for Rule Violation:

1. Constructive criticism from the group.

2. Ten to thirty-page written paper on rule violation.

3. Program dismissal. This does not need to be addressed with the client (The client may sabotage his/her own program due to purposeful dismissal consequences).

4. Isolation from the group.

Sound unbelievable? Here's that quote from Mr. Smid once again:

I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery.

Other gay and supportive straight youth bloggers have come to Zach's defense. Here are a few good links:

Eyes On The Star Sang Sweet Rest (Who has some good pictures of the protests)

Atomic Mouse

The Flypaper Theory

Cherry Blossom Special

If you can, send the kid a good word (he can be emailed at zach.inbartlett at gmail dot com). And even better, let the gutter crawling maggots who are busy beating his heart to a bloody pulp now, know that the world is watching them, and will remember their names.

Who would do such things to innocent kids? These aren't Christains. To even call them Pharisees is to ennoble them. The Pharisees made their pact with blood thristy tyrants, but at least they were trying to save their people from the tyrants sword. These people are the mob that cried out for Christ's blood, who saw something innocent, good and decent and loving and immediately had no other thought then to deliver it into the hands of butchers. Give us the thief. The thief doesn't shame us...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday June 7, 2005

Summer Arrives With A Bang And A Sudden Chill

The hot muggies have returned to the Baltimore-Washington region. It's been in the 90s with the usual hazy summer air that seems to stick to your skin. Last night we had some good thunderstorms. By good, I mean good for Maryland. Maryland thunderstorms are nothing by the standards of the great plains. But the lightning in the last round of them before I hit the sack was pretty vivid. Lots of cloud to cloud strikes, criss-crossing and wrapping around the sky.

I'd been hoping to wait out the week before turning on the AC, since I have my furnace inspection on Friday. I have nice big ceiling fans in every room above basement level here. It worked until last Sunday, when the muggies came back. I have a refrigerator magnet I bought down in Gila Bend Arizona, that reads Yes...But It's A Dry Heat. Here the saying is that it's not the heat, it's the humidity. I suppose the low nineties is nothing in many places, but here you feel like the sky itself is sticking to your body in thick gooey layers. We had a power outage here in Medfield sometime while I was at work, that took fifty minutes off the clock in my bedroom that I hadn't noticed until I got up this morning. It couldn't have been the thunderstorms, they didn't arrive until after I got home. So it must have been a blackout of some sort caused by the sudden electrical demand. We've been having temperatures in the sixties until just a couple days ago. BG&E may not have been ready for the sudden demand.

Yesterday one of the big Chiefs at work poked his head in my office, to ask where a co-worker sat. I have no idea what it was about, but this particular chief makes everyone nervous when he starts strolling the hallways around here. He's a great guy to work for, very even tempered and always has a smile for everyone who works under him, which makes this all the more unfortunate. We mostly don't see him because he's always working with the other big chiefs on management issues. But when the layoffs come down, he's the one in our division who gently calls people out of their offices to come with him for a little chat...and then they disappear. As I said, it's really unfortunate because he's such a nice guy. But after four years of this, everyone just gets nervous now when they see him walking around our offices. When I heard his voice and looked up and saw him in the doorway to my office I froze, and for a second I couldn't even open my mouth to answer his question.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday June 6, 2005

New Cartoon Up

Sorry about the silence on the cartoon page this past couple weeks. The layoff news at the Institute has really jolted me out of my usual routine here at Casa del Garrett. I've been sketching mostly stream-of-thought stuff about how miserable the news has made me, and trust me you don't want to see those. (Or maybe you do...I'm just not showing them...)

You notice I've gone back to adding a little "News Item" banner across the top of the cartoon. Back in 2001, when I started doing political cartoons again for this space, I added those to the cartoons because I couldn't be sure how informed about current events in the gay and lesbian civil rights struggle the casual reader might be. I get a fair mix of family, friends, and strangers gay and straight visiting here, and let's face it, the mainstream news media doesn't cover gay issues for crap. I couldn't depend on links to news articles saying live for a few weeks, let alone years. So I began putting a little blurb on the cartoons to explain what they were about.

A political cartoonist doesn't like doing that, because the best political cartoons are the ones that make their point decisively and elegantly. You want the viewer to get your meaining right with the first glance. After a couple years doing this, I began to feel that adding the news blurb was making my cartoons busy. So eventually I dropped the News Item banner, and hoped that if someone didn't know what the cartoon was about, it would make curious enough to find out. And I wanted people to take a greater interest in gay civil rights issues anyway.

But I still wanted the cartoons picked up correctly by the search engines. So I began to put a greater emphasis on getting the Meta Keywords tag right for each individual cartoon in the archive. Well, come to find out search engines like Google don't even bother with the Meta Keywords html tag anymore. Too many shady web site operators were easily fooling search engines with it to get page rankings for topics that their pages didn't even cover. You'd be searching for some information about cell phones, say, and get page after page of pornography instead. So most search engines nowadays ignore the Meta Keywords Tag. A search engine like Google will look at the text actually being displayed on a page before deciding how to rank it.

So for example, if you were researching Ohio anti gay activist Phil Burress, and you were looking for stuff about how he organized the petition drive against the Cleveland Heights partners registry, you might type "phil burress cleveland heights petition drive" into Google, and my cartoon on the subject would be right on the first page of the search results. It's got that News Item banner in it. But say you were doing a search on Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern's demand that libraries put every book with a gay theme or character in an "adults only" section. The cartoon I did on that topic doesn't show up no matter how you search, even if you put my name in the search string. That's because I was depending on the Meta Keywords tag to tell the search engines what my cartoon was about, and the search engines are ignoring that tag now.

How important is that to me? Well... A couple months ago I got an inquiry from a lady in the Netherlands about using my cartoon about the assassination of Pim Fortuyn in a history resource for teachers CD. That one had the News Item banner on it. Fact is I regularly get hits on the cartoons with the News Item banners on them, and few if any on the ones that don't. (I get at least a dozen or more hits a month on the "Busy Gay Mafia" cartoon, from people searching on "Gay Mafia")

So the News Item banner is back. I'll try to keep it as brief as I can and still get the cartoon picked up correctly by the search engines. I've added one to last month's cartoon about Sally Kern, and we'll see how it does. If in a few weeks I can pick that one up in a Google search, I'll go back and add banners to all the others too.

I'll probably be fiddling with the placement of the banners for a while too, because I still think they make the cartoons busy. And I don't want to be anyone's only source for news regarding gay and lesbian civil rights. Maybe I'll add links to a few community news resources on the main cartoon page.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday June 5, 2005


Good one from Tom Burka:

Syria To Send Suspects To U.S. For "Interrogation"

Koran Abuse, Certain Human Rights Violations Not Available In Syria, Syrian Officials Explain

The government of Syria has announced that it will send suspects to the United States for interrogation in order to skirt limitations on the handling of prisoners in Syria. "We have determined that we cannot adequately question Syrian suspects in this country," said Syrian Director of Prisoner Interrogation Hosni Washkar today. "We will get better results if they are kept in a gula-- excuse me, in a U.S. base."

...bearing in mind the scary thought that it's been pretty much impossible to satirize these people.

And another!

Bush To Retract War

Cites Protests, Poor Sourcing, Newsweek Debacle as Impetus

George W. Bush retracted the Iraq war today, saying that it had been based on information from an unreliable source and that the original premises for the war were wrong.

This guy is good. Thanks to Brad DeLong for tipping me off.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Traffic Sign, On The Road To History's Landfill

So I'm browsing the Eschaton blog, and therein I see that Atrios has kindly posted a link to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, wherein we can all make a donation...

...I'm sorry...The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans?

The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans???

The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans???

Advocates see veterans of war on terror joining the ranks of the homeless

WASHINGTON ? Advocates for the homeless already are seeing veterans from the war on terror living on the street, and say the government must do more to ease their transition from military to civilian life.

Linda Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, said about 70 homeless veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan contacted her group?s facilities in 2004, and another 125 homeless veterans from those conflicts last year petitioned the Department of Veterans Affairs for assistance.


Boone said the reasons behind the veterans? housing problems are varied: Some have emotional and mental issues from their combat experience, some have trouble finding work after leaving the military, some have health care bills which result in financial distress.

The Stars & Stripes

Okay... I don't want to hear another fucking word from any more asswipe chickenhawk republicans about the patriotism of the left or the anti-war movement or the democrats or even the goddamned communists...I don't want to see One More Goddamned American Flag Lapel Pin sitting all bright and shiny on One More Gutter Crawling republican asswipe chickenhawk until the last homeless veteran walking the streets of America has a roof over their head and some food in their stomach. And I especially don't want to hear one more fucking word about how Same Sex Marriage will be the end of western civilization. A civilized country takes care of the people who bear arms to defend it.

Christ! Can you guys at least Pretend to have a conscience?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday June 4, 2005

Newsweek Got It All Wrong...We Didn't Flush The Prisoner's Koran Down A Toilet. We Merely Pissed On It. Newsweek Should Apologize Immediately...

Bear in mind that we're still only getting little bits and pieces of what's going on in the American Gulag:

The Pentagon confirmed Friday evening ? after the networks' evening news shows had aired ? that a U.S. soldier had deliberately kicked a prisoner's holy book. The report also said prison guards had thrown water balloons in a cell block, causing an unspecified number of Qurans to get wet; a guard's urine had splashed on a detainee and his Quran; an interrogator had stepped on a Quran during an interrogation; and a two-word obscenity had been written in English on the inside cover of a Quran.

Okay...I'm a little fuzzy... How does a guard's piss accidentally "splash" on a prisoner and their Koran? The same way a lightstick accidentally gets shoved up a teenage Iraqi boy's ass at Abu Ghraib prison I suppose...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

See? See? Denal IS A River In Egypt...

In case anyone needed a further clue about Anne Heche:

(Seattle, Washington) Nancy Heche has a message for gays: Find God and become heterosexual.

Heche is the mother of actress Anne Heche who dumped Ellen DeGeneres in 2000 declaring she was no longer a lesbian. She is also the widow of a Baptist minister who died of complications from AIDS in 1983 at age 50 after leading a closeted life.

An evangelical Christian, Nancy Heche is now part of the so-called ex-gay movement which claims homosexuality can be overcome with prayer and faith in Jesus.

Her daughter had a tad less then completely private affair with Ellen DeGeneres. Her Baptist Minister husband died of AIDS after leading a closeted life. And we're told she still thinks that a little prayer and faith can OVERCOME homosexuality. Right. The lady is a classic grudge case. I hate my gay husband, I hate my gay child, and by god I'm going to take it out on every last goddamned homosexual on earth until the day I die. I won't rest until they all hate me as much as I hate them.

Pete Knight. Phyllis Schlafly. Alan Keyes. It's not enough just to hate your own children. You have to hate everyone else's too. Especially the ones that are loved. Family values.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


I ran across this questionnaire on Steve Gilliard's blog today...

Number of books I own:

Couldn't possibly say, but it's easily in the thousands. Book boxes are about two-thirds my moving weight...including furniture. They range the gamut. Fiction and non-fiction split pretty evenly, with science-fiction probably making up the bulk of my fiction. I have a pretty extensive gay non-fiction collection, mostly history and biography, with some art and politics mixed in. I also have a huge comic book collection, going back to my childhood.

Last book I bought:

The R. Crumb Handbook.

Last book I read:

Elmer Gantry.

5 books that mean a lot to me:

Only five?? Ouch. The White Colt by David Rook. Science And Human Values by Jacob Bronowski. The Charioteer by Mary Renault. The Fountains Of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke. Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.

Coyote by Peter Gadol.


Steve posted a music one too...

1. What is the total volume of musical files on your computer?

2.4 gig. None of it stuff I bought or downloaded online. It is all from my own CD/LP collection. I made some mp3s so I could have something to listen to while I work.

2. What are you listening to right now?

Right this second? The Beyondness Of Things by John Barry.

3. Last CD I bought?

Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert

4. Five songs you listen to a lot and which mean something to you

Okay...which mean something to me and I listen to often, as opposed to background music that I just happen to put on a lot. The background music might be a tad more interesting, but here's the stuff that actually means something to me and yes I realize these aren't songs, but this is the music that means something to me: Symphony No. 3 'Pastoral' by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Death And Transfiguration by Ricard Strauss. Symphony No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninov. Symphony No. 6 by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Symphony No. 9 by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Oh...and Symphony No. 1 by Dmitri Shostakovich.

...uhm...and Symphony No. 5 by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

5. Three people I invite to go next

The first three people who read this post can consider themselves tagged.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday June 3, 2005

Sex Is One Of This Life's Great Joys...So Let's Make Sure The Commoners Don't Get Any...

Good post at Pandagon by Amanda who asks, Are The Sex Wars About Class?

Consider that non-procreative sex is pretty much one of the most fun things adults can do. And it's available to poor people - which just has to bug the crap out of your average conservative, you know, the one that complains that welfare recipients are allowed to watch TV. To the pro-aristocratic mindset, fun like that should be a luxury purchased with cold, hard cash, like other indulgences like expensive wine or yachts. One might even suggest it devalues sex a little bit if just any old person can have it. So the interests, in this case, of the wealthy dovetail rather nicely with the neighbor-judgers.

Justice Scalia's reaction to the NYU law student who asked him if he sodomizes his wife really drove this home for me. Scalia, after all, thinks that the government has every right to come bursting into your house and telling you how to fuck, but he clearly thinks that he does not have to disclose his private information to the citizens he works for. Scalia claims he doesnĠt believe you have a right to privacy, but he seems to think he has a right to privacy. From a democratic viewpoint, this is intolerable. From an aristocratic viewpoint, it is the natural order - of course Scalia is not accountable to the peasants.

Republicans demonstrate time and time again that they believe that the ruling class is entitled to non-procreative sex, even as they tell us the rest most go without. Money and power are license to have whatever kind of sex you'd like, even if you're gay. The outcry against John Kerry describing Mary Cheney as a lesbian was rife with this sense of entitlement, and I kept waiting any minute for someone to slip up and just admit that they were angry that Kerry suggested that a Cheney should be held to the same standard as ordinary Americans.

She makes this really eye opening point about the Monica Lewinsky affair...

The moral panic around Bill Clinton's infidelity is another example of this--conservatives never got over thinking of him as trailer trash, and the sex scandal was an opportunity to differientiate him from what they perceive as legitimate, upper class rulers. Clinton doesn't get to be discreet. As someone hailing from the working class, his sexual behavior is to be held up and mocked as crass and cheap.

The whole post is a good read. Pointing out the sexual hypocrisy of Bush's nominee for the head of the FDA, Lester Crawford, who doesn't like birth control because he thinks it encourages promiscuity, and who is currently being investigated over charges he had a relationship with a female FDA staffer who in turn got promotions (Spokane Mayor Jim West can argue that he was just following the example set by the heterosexuals in the republican party...), Amanda goes on to point out that the republican war on Planned Parenthood is about much more then killing off its abortion services. The assault on Planned Parenthood has crippled its contraceptive distribution.

The moral rhetoric about out of wedlock sex is only for the consumption of the religious right voter base...many of whom are just as hypocritical about sex as the right wing billionaires who are funding them. But the reflex that the hoi polloi shouldn't be having sex for pleasure is probably genuine. Taking pleasure in life is something nature grants only to the powerful. If the commoners are having fun...of any kind...that can only mean you're not exploiting them enough. There's still money to be wrung out of them yet. Get them back to work.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tales From The American Theocracy...

Texas, and the end of pretense:

Perry To Sign Abortion, Gay Marriage Bills At Church School

AUSTIN, Texas Governor Rick Perry plans to go to a Fort Worth Christian school Sunday to sign two bills that drew strong support from religious organizations.

One piece of legislation requires parental consent before a girl younger than 18 can have an abortion. The other proposes to voters a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Once upon a time, politicians like Perry would deny that their pogroms against gay and lesbian Americans amounted to a religious jihad. But since November 2004 they're clearly feeling like they don't have to bother with that loathsome pretense anymore. They'll be signing bills like this from the pulpit soon.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Where Knowledge Is The Enemy, Every Book Is Dangerous

What's a good fascist movement without a little book burning? Well...okay... Actually burning books wouldn't result in quite the right PR. And anyway the message here isn't that some books are bad and to be avoided. The message here is that a good party member does not think for themselves.

And to that end, the right wingers at Human Events magazine have compiled a little list of the Ten Most Harmful Books Of The 19th and 20th Centuries. Oh...and a runner-up list of twenty presumably Not Quite As Harmful But Still Considerably Bad Books Of The 19th And 20th Centuries. Why the 19th century too? Because obviously, if they'd limited their search to just twentieth century works, their favorite bugaboo, Karl Marx, would have had to have been left off. Why stop with the ninetieth century? Why not the most harmful books of all time?'re taking this thing way too seriously. This wasn't an intellectual exercise, so much as your usual right wing piss party.

All the usual suspects are rounded up. Karl Marx gets two (count em) spots in the top ten. Charles Darwin's The Origin Of Species (the drooling morons at Human Events can't even get the name of the book right, calling it Origin Of The Species) gets honorable mention. Kinsey is there naturally, for the eternal sin of looking at human sexuality objectively. Betty Friedan and Mao Zedong share the top ten, along with Adolf Hitler and Freidrich Nietzsche because, hey, we're not a bunch of Nazis or anything you know.

But like the dog in the Sherlock Holmes story Silver Blaze, the curious thing about both these lists is what you don't hear. There is a spot for Ralph Nader's Unsafe At Any Speed for instance, but not William Pierce's The Turner Diaries, which inspired Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. Nietzsche's Beyond Good And Evil makes the cut, ostensibly as someone who created the Nazi philosophy, but not Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion, which many more people both in Europe and America actually read and took to heart, and which is still inciting hatred toward jews to this day. Rachel Carson's Silent Spring makes the runner-up list, but Thomas Dixon's The Klansman, the basis for DW Griffith's racist The Birth of a Nation, a film that moved "Colonel" William Joseph Simmons to revive the Klan after it had been disbanded for almost fifty years, doesn't even make runner-up. What does it say about minds that regard the book that launched the environmental movement as more dangerous then the book that gave new life to a dead Ku Klux Klan?

Tucked away in the list, is one entry that gets to the heart of the matter, to the core of everything the right hates about liberal democracy. John Dewey's Democracy And Education made number five in the top ten, beating out Das Kapital, beating out Nietzsche, beating out Betty Friedan and John Maynard Keynes. I am not surprised it made the top ten, I'm surprised it didn't make number one. Dewey probably makes a less appealing bugaboo then Marx and Mao and Kinsey, but what he represents in his book, is a far purer antithesis of everything the right wing stands for then any of the others in either list. Here's what they say about it:

John Dewey, who lived from 1859 until 1952, was a "progressive" philosopher and leading advocate for secular humanism in American life, who taught at the University of Chicago and at Columbia. He signed the Humanist Manifesto and rejected traditional religion and moral absolutes. In Democracy and Education, in pompous and opaque prose, he disparaged schooling that focused on traditional character development and endowing children with hard knowledge, and encouraged the teaching of thinking "skills" instead. His views had great influence on the direction of American education--particularly in public schools--and helped nurture the Clinton generation.

Now dig what they're saying here. In the good old days, kids were just spoon fed "hard knowledge", or in other words, the teacher told you what was true and you got graded on how well you could dispense what the teacher told you on command. Then along comes this, this, this Humanist, who says kids should be taught how to evaluate what's true and what isn't for themselves. And we all know what that leads to, don't we? Questioning Authority. Which, as every good fascist knows, is immoral. Truth is what the establishment tells you it is, and if you have any questions, here's your answer: shut up. Don't ask questions, just do as you're told. See...humanism teaches kids to think for themselves, which makes kids rebellious, and that leads to immorality, which is, by definition, disobeying authority.

Which makes a list of so called dangerous books make sense. A book full of rubbish is only dangerous if people can't distinguish any random nutcase's delusions from reality, so long as those delusions are dressed up in an appealing wrapper. In a civilized nation, people can sort out the truth from the crap for themselves. But in a nation of drones who have been taught to passively accept whatever an authority figure tells them, you have to be careful what the drones absorb.

Given that, the entry for Nietzsche's Beyond Good And Evil, makes a good belly laugh, for it's unintentional irony:

Here Nietzsche argued that men are driven by an amoral "Will to Power," and that superior men will sweep aside religiously inspired moral rules, which he deemed as artificial as any other moral rules, to craft whatever rules would help them dominate the world around them. "Life itself is essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of the strange and weaker, suppression, severity, imposition of one's own forms, incorporation and, at the least and mildest, exploitation," he wrote. The Nazis loved Nietzsche.

You find yourself asking what the hell they think is wrong with him then. That the Nazis loved him openly and proudly, while they, being ersatz citizens of the nation that defeated them have to engage in one loathsome equivocation after another regarding his ideas? That Nietzsche's contempt for religion and human spirituality was more honest then their own? Note that one book missing from this so-called list of most dangerous books of the 19th and 20th centuries, and even from the list of runners-up, is Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion, which arguably did more to make the Holocaust possible then any other book ever published. But some of the judges at Human Events might still regard the book as fact.

But the editors of Human Events are right to have the last laugh over Nietzsche. The philosopher of the superman was dead wrong about their sweeping away religiously inspired moral rules. Instead they found that a better way was to simply co-opt religion, overlay it, and make venerating power tantamount to venerating God. The religious right was an American backwater until right wing billionaires figured out they were the key to seizing power. Now, in the brand sparkling new mega churches of the religious right, Jesus no longer says love thy neighbor, but hate the stranger, no longer teaches that the meek shall inherit the earth, but that might makes right.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday June 1, 2005

Not Much To Say Yet

I've been spending my two vacation days back at home mostly doing some of the chores I haven't had time for around the house, and contemplating my future. Mostly, I am just trying to rest and recover from the stress of the past couple weeks. I'm keeping the world at arm's length for a while, which is why you don't see me posting much political stuff right now. I can understand why some gay folk just don't want to deal with politics these days. But there's a difference between walking away from it for a bit to get your balance back, and living in denial. I was reading the last word column in the June 7th Advocate, Cocktails With The Clueless, wherein Jim David recounts an argument he had with a really cute Focus On The Family Dweeb that another drop dead gorgeous shipmate was busy flirting with. As Jim recounts it, the argument got heated as the nearby crew looked on "unaccustomed to hearing a sociopolitical argument in the disco at 1am". Let it be said that several crew members chimed in on Jim's side. But Jim's drop dead gorgeous shipmate stopped speaking to him.

Hey Jim...Nigel's a jackass. Nothing in this universe says that beautiful people have to have anything between their ears. If he's thAT good looking, then he certainly doesn't need to give himself to 22 year olds who would as soon send him off to some nice little camp with a pink triangle on his chest, no matter how cute they are. Ask him if he'd let James Dobson fuck him if he was cute too. Oh...wait... James Dobson is fucking him. Never mind.

I just had to say...

Anyway...I saw the Fiestaware Lady at Hillsville. She apparently comes to both the Memorial Day and Labor Day flea markets there. We chatted for a bit and I learned that Homer Laughlin wasn't selling at Bloomingdales anymore, which may not be such a good thing for them but it's great for those of us who loath the chalky pale souless pastel colors they've been making the new stuff in. I'd noticed that some of the more recent Fiestaware colors were a bit more vivid. Now I know why. The Bloomingdales buyer who was dictating all their new colors hasn't been doing that for a couple of years now and apparently Homer Laughlin has been asking people what new colors they want.'s Fiestaware okay...not Zoloftware. The colors are supposed to be bright and vivid.

What I'd really like to see is the new stuff produced in the four original colors. I realize they can't use the same pigments (the old Fiestaware red glaze was made with uranium oxide), but they can for sure make new glazes of the same colors if they want. The argument that it would harm the collector's market for original Fiestaware is a bit ridiculous in my opinion. The new stuff simply cannot be mistaken for the original stuff. The new stuff is way heavier, and obviously made by a different process. The new yellow is close, but still a tad paler then the original yellow. The new blue is also close, but a tad too dark. They've produced three reds since they started making the new stuff, and none of them come even close to that vivid, in your face red of the original Fiestaware (it's actually more an orange then red, but very deep). Now that Bloomingdales isn't mucking around with it anymore, maybe there's hope.

On the way back home I took a short jaunt up the Blue Ridge Parkway, to the Mabrey Mill. The mill is still in operation by the Park Service, and I wanted to buy some mill ground corn flour to use in my fish fry batter. I bought two small sacks of it, and maybe this week end I'll give it a try. Right now, my fish fry involves both a wet batter and a dry one. The wet batter uses Yingling larger ale, eggs, a few spices and a stone ground all purpose wheat flour I get at Whole Foods (formerly Fresh Fields). The dry batter uses corn flour and some other spices, and is patterned after a ready made Zatarain's fish fry batter I tried once. I use peanut oil in the deep fryer and keep a dish of lemon juice, a plate of dry batter and my mixing bowl with the wet batter nearby. I use hake I buy fresh that morning at Whole Foods. After cleaning and cutting the hake, I dip a piece in the lemon juice, roll it in the dry batter and then dip it in the wet. Then it goes into the fryer until the batter gets a certain golden hue. It's around three minutes at 355 degrees, but I really have to eyeball it while it's cooking. The bigger pieces take a tad longer. I get a nice tasty batter shell that's crispy, but not too hard. Hake is meaty but not very fishy tasting, and it's not nearly as salty as some of the Pacific Ocean fish I've had. Deep fried with a good batter, it's a fluffy, almost melt in your mouth treat. There was a restaurant brand tartar sauce that I liked to go along with my fish, but last time I did a fish fry the bottles of it I bought tasted way different. Not awful, just different, and not what I wanted. So this summer I'm going to start experimenting at making my own tartar sauce.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday May 30, 2005


Between family visits, I steal some time to wander around the countryside, camera in hand ( trunk...). I make it a point to prowl up and down highways I've never been on, or further down some roads then I've been before. The rolling appalachian hillsides around me are beautiful. There are churches about every couple of miles or so.

I pass a rather well-to-do looking one, with a lighted sign out front that reads:

If You Don't Have The Bread Of Life, Your Hereafter Will Be Toast.

Before I drive on past, I feel compelled to make a promise to God.

Dear God...I promise not to smack David Brooks upside the head the next time he tells me I should apologize to these people for my intelligence.
by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday May 27, 2005

Signing Off For The Weekend.

I'm going to visit family in fundamentalist land for a couple of days, which ought to cheer me up considerably. They're nice folks, and they made mom's retirement years some of the best of her life, which is why I feel like I owe them. But it seems like every year I go down there, the territory just gets a little more, and a little more unsettling. I've said before that if the communist party was as thoroughly integrated into the daily lives of the Russian people as right wing fundamentalism is in the daily lives of bible belt folks, there would still be a Soviet Union, and it would be dangerous as all hell. The year they were all wearing Oliver North For President stickers was amusing. Nowadays I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see them wearing Free Eric Rudolph stickers, or Fred Phelps t-shirts.

I'm not staying long, and hopefully after a couple more days off I'll be ready to face my life again. I need to figure I want to stay on the east coast after Hubble, or move, finally back to the land of my birth, California. I'd always told myself I'd do that after mom died, but then I got this job and this cute little Baltimore rowhouse and I had incentive to stay. The only incentive I have not to go, is the cost of living on the other coast. But I may have done all the living I want to do out here. A big change in my life, may call for other big changes. If I'm going to have to do work I don't like anymore, I might as well do it somewhere I'd rather be.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday May 26, 2005

More Bad News...

We had a branch meeting, where it was revealed that our little division would probably bear the brunt of the layoffs. Somewhere between six and twenty people currently working for the Engineering Services division will no longer be working there after August. I don't see how, in that case, I can escape the ax this time. I am among the most junior of the people there. What is worse, my usual ace in the hole, my extensive MS Windows background, may be of little use to me this time. In a workshop that is largely Unix based, I was a tad unique. But my skillset has helped out in areas where they were otherwise thin. Many of our external users run Windows, and our business administration work is (currently) very dependent on Windows software. But there is a plan afoot to reduce computing costs at the Institute by standardizing on a single desktop platform for all work. The choices are Windows, Mac, and Linux. I strongly doubt it will be Windows.

What is making all of this especially painful is that right after the last round of layoffs last August, we were all told that we were at our sustainable staffing level for at least another two years. Since I've come to the Institute, in 1998, there have been six rounds of layoffs. Some very minor, most major and stressful for everyone. And then there was (is still actually) the uncertainty of the future of both our prime mission, Hubble, and JWST.

So at the moment I am not feeling much like doing anything, except my Institute work, and that mostly because I don't know how much longer I'll have it to cherish. I was plugging away at work most of the day (save for the branch meeting) and then when I came home I logged back on to one of the Institute machines and worked some more. I'm not even trying to make myself look good...I think I'm past that now. I just want to have it to remember.

I really don't know what I want to do with my life afterward. I don't think I'm going to care much about anything, really, afterward.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday May 23, 2005

Light Posting For A While

Yes...and I didn't get the cartoon for the week posted either. It's been a stressful weekend, what with the news that we'll be facing more layoffs in August. A dreadful fatigue has set in on me since last week, and I'm having a hard time just getting out of bed in the morning now. I have one last final exam scheduled for this Friday. So I'm going to be offline for most of the week it looks like. But I hope to have the cartoon up anyway, by mid week.

I've started working on the pencils on the next phase of the story I began with My First X Rated Movie. I got a lot of requests to "finish the story", which was a rather pleasant experience, since while I always meant for that one to be a self contained story all to itself, I Did plan on continuing the storyline, in a slightly different form. I hope to have that going regular sometime in June. I'll set up a separate page for it, apart from the political cartoon. I'm shooting for making that a bi weekly thing for now, until I can work up a rhythm for it and hopefully turn it into a weekly thing.

But right now I'm fighting a major case of fatigue, and the plain old blues in general, and my energy is just gone. The single guy life is stressful enough, but in a subtle way you don't really realize until the fatigue gets you. I go for days and days on end just alone in the house with my various projects, and when you just don't talk much to anyone, all the stresses in your life grind you down slowly. You get tired and you really don't know why, because you're not really exerting yourself much. But you spend more energy every day then you realize, keeping the constant stress of aloneness at bay. Eventually it catches up with you. This week it's catching up with me. The layoff news was probably a tipping point. But these periods of massive fatigue happen pretty regularly in my life now.

Understand...I don't live an isolated life. I have co-workers I interact with pleasantly all day long during the week. They are a great bunch...some of the best folks its ever been my pleasure to work with. And I have various online friends I chat with all over the net. And your average Baltimore rowhouse neighborhood is always bustling with neighbors to chat with. If you are some kind of misanthrope you really don't want to live in a rowhouse neighborhood. I take an evening stroll and I encounter lots of neighbors. They greet me by first name, and I get the neighborhood news and gossip and chat easily. My neighbors are a great bunch too, and I love chatting with them. I'm not living a hermit lifestyle here by any means.

It's intimate, heart to heart companionship that I've been missing out on for most of my life, and if you don't know how that can be a source of constant background stress in your day, then you've been luckier in love then me and you should count your blessings. I've never known a time when I wasn't constantly pushing back against that stress, every hour, of every day. Year in, year out. Well...actually there was a time when I wasn't. But it was long, long ago. There's an empty space inside of you, and you are always grieving over it, and you are always just getting on with your life in spite of it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday May 21, 2005

They Decided

Apparently, and according to one of their competitors, Fox News has lost fifty-eight percent of its age twenty-five to fifty-four viewership since the last election:

TV Newser cited a CNN press release which gave these totals for Fox's primetime audience in the 25 to 54 age bracket: Oct. 04: 1,074,000; Nov. 04: 891,000; Dec. 04: 568,000; Jan. 05: 564,000; Feb. 05: 520,000; March 05: 498,000; April 05: 445,000. That amounts to a decline of 58 percent, with no sign of leveling off.

Other cable stations' ratings were also down since the election, but CNN's, for example, appeared to have stabilized last month while Fox's continued to drop.

Of course, that was CNN spinning the numbers too. But this is gratifying to say the least. Fox News is part of the right wing machine that's been poisoning the political dialog in America. If people are turning away from the poison in sizable numbers, that's a good thing.

Fox is Murdoch. The Washington Times (and, alas, United Press International) is Sun Myung Moon, the messianic kook who leads the Unification church. The Times does not pay for itself. It gets a big subsidy from Moon's church to keep running. The rest of the right wing's Mighty Wurlitzer is subsidized by various right wing billionaires, as are their book publishing houses. Murdoch may however, be able to keep Fox News going, simply from the profits the rest of the Fox Network generates. I've always wondered about Murdoch's two-faced media machine...on the one hand his news slant is relentlessly right wing, while on the other his Fox Network, and his tabloid newspapers are chock full of the kind of tits and ass sexual titillation most right wingers loath. Murdoch seems to understand that people will pay to subsidize a right wing propaganda machine whose values don't even come close to theirs, if it is entertaining enough. He's a practical man.

So the next time you find yourself watching That Seventies Show and laughing at the sex and drugs and rock and roll from days gone by, picture Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity laughing at you.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday May 20, 2005

Slouching Toward Dachau

We're From The United States And We're Here To Liberate You...

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

And after 9/11 I fully supported the war in Afghanistan. But it's like William Saletan said about Iraq:

I remember when Bush addressed Congress after Sept. 11. I thought history had given him a mission he couldn't screw up. Bush had only two virtues--moral clarity and resolve?and a terrorist attack on our country called for both of them. I didn't realize that his judgment was so bad it could turn these virtues into vices, confusing two enemies and letting the more dangerous one get away.

Later, I remember defending the buildup to the Iraq war. Some of my friends refused to support the war because it was Bush's. I thought that was petty of them. Now I understand. When you support a president going to war, you don't get your war. You get his.

It always comes back to the fact that the president of the United States is Bush. Everything he's ever touched in his life has turned to shit, and always, always, it's been somebody else's fault. He was, from the beginning, as presidential as a drunken bar stool loudmouth, full of bitter, unfocused resentment for his betters, and for his maker for making him way too stupid to amount to anything, but not stupid enough not to know it. A drunken bar stool loudmouth, with a laundry list of grievances and a voice you can hear from one end of the bar to the other, babbling on and on about how things would be different around here if He was in charge. We gave one of these the keys to the United States Federal Government, and the most powerful military on earth, and no one should be surprised that it immediately set about dragging the nation into its gutter. But that was why the radical right wanted him at the top of the republican ticket in the first place.

Could it be any clearer now, that the agenda of the radical right isn't simply to undo the Great Society or the New Deal, or even Lincoln's pledge that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth? They just want to destroy America, burn it all down to the ground, and make history forget that America ever stood for anything at all, let alone something as fine and noble as liberty and justice for all. Bush is their man. Bush is the pure and perfect essence of everything they have in mind for America, and the values it was once built on.

In some instances, testimony shows, it was directed or carried out by interrogators to extract information. In others, it was punishment meted out by military police guards. Sometimes, the torment seems to have been driven by little more than boredom or cruelty, or both.

In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.

The face of America, that the whole world now sees. Some days I want to scream that no, no, that isn't us, we're not all a bunch of gutter crawling thugs...there are still many, many people in this country who are shocked and appalled that these things are being done in our name. But at the end of the day, seriously, why should anyone care that we're shocked and appalled? I's not like it makes one whit of difference.

The interrogators worked from a menu of basic tactics to gain a prisoner's cooperation, from the "friendly" approach, to good cop-bad cop routines, to the threat of long-term imprisonment. But some less-experienced interrogators came to rely on the method known in the military as "Fear Up Harsh," or what one soldier referred to as "the screaming technique."

My Country Tis Of Thee... Well anyway, when they speak of heartland values from now on, I'll know what they mean. There isn't a single Bush voter who, in 2004, either didn't know this kind of thing was happening, or couldn't have seen it coming if they'd bothered to look. Here is the face of red state America:

Some of the same M.P.'s took a particular interest in an emotionally disturbed Afghan detainee who was known to eat his feces and mutilate himself with concertina wire. The soldiers kneed the man repeatedly in the legs and, at one point, chained him with his arms straight up in the air, Specialist Callaway told investigators. They also nicknamed him "Timmy," after a disabled child in the animated television series "South Park." One of the guards who beat the prisoner also taught him to screech like the cartoon character, Specialist Callaway said.

Eventually, the man was sent home.

Way to go, Team America.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Governor Who Waged A Smear Campaign About The Mayor Of Baltimore's Marriage, Stands Up For The Sanctity Of Marriage.

In March of 2002, officials at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center barred William Robert Flanigan Jr. from his dying partner's bedside, saying he was not "family", and that 'partners' did not qualify. Though Flanigan had legal power of attorney for his partner, Robert Lee Daniel, officials at the Shock Trauma Center insisted he would not be allowed his partner's bedside. Only when Daniel's mother arrived from New Mexico, was Flanigan allowed into Daniel's room. By that time, Daniel had lost consciousness. He would die two days later.

Today, republican (surprise, surprise) governor Robert Ehrlich vetoed a bill that would have given same sex couples some small measure of protection against the bleeding nightmare that Robert Flanigan went through:

While I am sympathetic to the needs of mutually dependent couples and want to support compassionate efforts to expedite health related decisions for Marylanders in need, ultimately I am disappointed in the current form of Senate Bill 796 and am therefore unable to support it. Instead of addressing the mechanics of expediting health care decisions, Senate Bill 796 codifies a new relationship of life partner and could lead to the erosion of the sanctity of traditional marriage as already codified in Maryland law.

It's not Ehrlich's utterly bogus sympathy for same sex couples, a people he could not even bring himself to name in his veto message, that's worth pointing out though. It's the hollow laughter Marylanders, and in particular, we who live in Baltimore, can hear behind Ehrlich's defense of the sanctity of marriage. respect that do you Robert...?

Mayor Martin O'Malley and his wife stood hand-in-hand outside City Hall yesterday to denounce "orchestrated" and "relentless" rumors about their marriage, while Democrats called for an independent investigation into the Ehrlich administration appointee who admitted spreading stories about the mayor on the Internet.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., saying he was "angry" about the actions of Joseph F. Steffen Jr., said he would consider asking the state prosecutor to look into his longtime campaign and congressional aide, who resigned Tuesday because of his postings about O'Malley on a Web site.


"These are despicable lies. These are falsehoods," said O'Malley, a Democrat who is expected to run for governor next year. "I have always been faithful to my wife, from our first date until this date."

Ehrlich insisted that Steffen is a rogue state employee - not part of any kind of orchestrated GOP effort. He called on Steffen to tell O'Malley he is sorry.

Steffen appeared anything but contrite in messages posted on late Tuesday, hours after his firing.

"Hell, this might even burnish my reputation," read one posting from him on the Web site that included the rumors about the mayor.

Republicans, I seem to recall, are wont to say that living in same sex households is a cruelty to children...that same sex couples that want to raise children are being selfish and cruel...

Katie O'Malley said the rumors had taken a toll on the couple and three of their four children. The youngest, at 2 years old, isn't old enough to understand, she said. But their 13- and 14-year-old girls have been affected.

So has their 7-year-old son, William, she said, recalling what happened when he brought home his report card for a parent's signature last week. Only one parent had to sign, but William insisted that they both do, she said.

"He said to me, 'If Daddy doesn't sign it, then they're going to think that we're in a divorce,'" she said. "And I just looked at him and my heart broke that this poor, 7-year-old kid has to worry about these lies."

Not that we Marylanders are much surprised by any of this. Baltimore Sun columnist Michael Olesker sums it up pretty well:

Well, there is a history here. From his first political campaign, nearly two decades ago, when he ran for a seat in the House of Delegates, Ehrlich said he wanted to "make a new beginning for the Maryland Republican Party." Some beginning. For openers, he went after a vulnerable Republican incumbent, Del. Thomas W. Chamberlain, so harshly that Chamberlain accused Ehrlich of being "deliberately divisive" and using "dirty tricks."

"How long could you keep your job if you didn't show up for work 28 times?" an Ehrlich campaign brochure asked about Chamberlain. Supposedly, Chamberlain had missed that many days at work. Actually, he had missed that many votes, not days of work, and the 28 missed votes were accumulated over 12 years.

But that was just a warm-up act. By the time he ran for Congress, Ehrlich had Dirtball Steffen working for him. That's when salacious rumors were floated about Democratic opponent Gerry L. Brewster. Dirty tricks, Brewster called them. Two years later, when Ehrlich ran against former state Del. Connie DeJuliis, there were ugly rumors spread about her. Dirty tricks, DeJuliis said.

Two days ago, when Mayor O'Malley and his wife held their news conference outside City Hall, there was an odd juxtaposition. If you looked directly past the O'Malleys, a short block away were the lights of the Sweden Book Store and the Hustler Club and the rest of Baltimore's Block.

In a time of political pornography, the positioning seemed appropriate. Except that, compared with the likes of Steffen, regulars on The Block seem like church deacons. At least they don't go after a man's family.

Ehrlich responded to all of this in typical Bush republican style, by issuing an order banning anyone in the Maryland executive branch from speaking to reporters from the Baltimore Sun.

So, to summarize: our republican governor, who has been waging a smear campaign on the family life of a political opponent, without a shred of concern for the impact on O'Malley's kids let alone his wife, has vetoed a bill that would have given a few basic human rights to same sex couples on the grounds that it would erode the sanctity of marriage. And just how deeply, you reckon, is that sanctity eroded when our top government officials turn families into political weapons?

I know...I know... The republicans turned families into political weapons long ago. Hell...they've turned the very words Family and Marriage into code for intolerance and hate. Eroding the sanctity of marriage anyone? Listening to republicans yap about the sanctity of marriage is a bit like listening to Al Capone rhapsodizing about the rule of law, or Cardinal Bernard Law sermonizing about the innocence of childhood.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

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