Tuesday, October 21, 2008

“Yes, Virginia” the South is a-changing...

...but there’s a special reason why Northern Virginia is hopping mad!

(Warning, the following starts out sounding radical and (metaphorically) militant. Heck, even fulminating-wrathful! But I eventually get around to shining some light on an important - little noted - factor in this election.)


Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory...

It seems that America’s devastating “culture war” -- actually phase three of America’s intermittent, 150 year Civil War -- is starting to follow the course of the first two rounds.

Certainly, at long last, there is a rsising flood tide of anger in Blue America. The nation’s urban and educated people -- along with ethnicities and simply folks who prefer the future to the past -- have had it with hearing their Red countrymen deride their morals and patriotism for more than twenty years. ...

...or to hear endless denunciations of cityfolk decadence from regions that often fall far behind urban-dwellers in most measures of successful marriage or child-rearing. Or panicky, hypocritical war-shrieks about “terror” from people who live far from the crosshairs. But those irksome insults were mere motes and pustules compared to the very worst thing -- the imposition, after a pair of squeaker-elections, of a “mandate” government-by kakocracy, or national rule by the very worst.

Or the glaring, unrepentant shamelessness of repeating all of the above with increasing frenzy -- as Sarah Palin does every day, before frothing throngs -- after their Chosen Ones have already, by every metric, misgoverened America to the verge of destruction.

With Palin’s own words rcocheting across the continent, proclaiming that Red America is the only True America, is it forgivable -- or at least understandable -- that a our patience, here in the Union, is coming to an end? You could see it in John Stewart’s eyes, amid the jokes. And his audience laughed with a tone of barely restrained fury.

Hatred sows hatred and we have had it. We have been patient long enough.

In that light, can it be that some view this 2008 election as our generation’s nation-saving equivalent to the Battle of Gettysburg? A last-chance turning point, when we can draw a line - finally - against sanctimonious, hypocritical, know-nothing hickery and start guiding this great and blessed land back toward being an advanced, egalitarian, educated and scientific nation, less devoted to dogma than to progress.

And, if that means dusting off great grandpa’s uniform from the FIRST phase of this struggle, and singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic? Then so be it.


What is happening in Virginia?

Now, with Obama firming up big leads across the Old Union (except in weird Indiana), along the coasts, and Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico -- the GOP standard bearer now finds himself struggling to defend such formerly reliable Republican strongholds as Virginia and North Carolina... plus possibly North Dakota, Arkansas and Georgia. How did it come to this?

Pundits credit the economy, of course, plus a vigorous democratic “ground game” that featured unprecedented registration of minorities and young voters. Elsewhere, I’ve also spoken of the University Effect in North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, which have invested in higher education far more than other southern states. The upside effects on their economies and general vibrancy had to eventually start manifesting in politics, as well, especially after eight years in which the Republican Party has relentlessly and deliberately driven off America’s educated.

It was long assumed that Red “goodoldboy” Culture would always swamp out the tepid liberalism of northern migrants, but we may be seeing that start to change


Still, I believe there’s more to this phenomenon.

Specifically, in the case of Virginia, you can see America’s First Colony start to fracture in two -- much as it did in 1861, when Appalachian settlers angrily refused to betray their country at the behest of aristocratic tidewater slave owners, choosing to secede instead and form West Virginia. Similarly today, you hear tales of local politicians declaring that Northern Virginia is something totally apart from the “real” parts of the state. One angry neocon called it “Communist country.”

I suspect there are interesting factors involved in the rebellion of Northern Virginia, that go beyond simply the economy, or a demographic shift toward more education, or even a lot of northern migrants. I surely doubt socialism of any inkling has a thing to do with the surge of Obama support in the counties surrounding the District of Columbia. Rather, I think this local phenomenon is due to something largely overlooked.

The swing against the GOP in Northern Virginia is all about the U.S. Civil Service. It is a mini-referendum by members of the professional class who we hired to run the business of America’s government -- by far the top employer of that region. These people are turning to the Democrats, in droves.

Note that it did not start out this way. Polls showed repeatedly that (contrary to some expectations) federal employees are not notable more liberal or democratic-registered than Americans, at large. Indeed, many are deeply conservative by temperament. And remember, Northern Virginia includes a lot of military folk, as well, including the Pentagon and several huge Naval installations. Then why this dramatic swing of political passion, in a region that showed strong GOP streaks in the past?

I’ve tried to make this point repeatedly. The civil servants and members of the U.S. Officer Corps have endured eight years as the very worst victims of this administration. They’ve been stewing under the grip of thousands of political appointees, partisan hacks charged by President George W. Bush with a single, paramount mission -- to bully, harass, divert and demoralize the men and women who actually keep the nation running. From the Justice Department to the intelligence services, to science agencies, to the military, those hatchet men seem to have had no other purpose than to prevent our public servants from doing the lawful jobs that we pay them to do.

Note the cleverness of this neocon stratagem. In most of American life, if workers suffer abuse, the right to complain and seek redress is pretty strong. Civil servants, too, are supposedly protected from direct political interference. But so long as the hacks refrained from anything too overt -- (with the exception of stupidly firing those assistant U.S. Attorneys) -- they could erect barricades of distraction and mal-assignment that would thwart agency workers from accomplishing anything, or solving any problems, causing many to resign in frustration. Moreover, civil servants and military officers are constrained -- by both law and tradition -- against speaking out against their political superiors.

Is there a comeuppance? Apparently, the military did stand up, courageously, a couple of years ago, in what is now quietly known as the Generals and Admirals Revolt -- resulting in the ousting of Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary and the arrival of the Gates-Mullen team, effectively peeling the hands of Bush and Cheney away from the tiller at Defense. An episode when our officer corps bravely kept their oaths once again, to protect us from enemies, both foreign and domestic. And they did it so discretely that most Americans haven’t a clue how much we owe them.

Alas, I’ve been disappointed that few other groups of civil servants have done likewise. Apparently, the FBI and CIA agents and others, who might have blown the whistle on Bush era crimes, proved too timid to stand up and help their country in its hour of desperate need. Instead, they appear to be leaving it up to the People. The ignorant, febrile, much-maligned People will have to fix this mess. Much as they did on 9/11, common citizen voters will work a miracle that the professionals could not. Or would not.

Still, here’s the point: I believe that it is the simmering resentment of the civil service caste that we are seeing erupt in Northern Virginia... and in patches around the country. When our first state joins in the blue rebellion, nobody in the GOP or in Red America should yelp in wounded surprise. They brought it on themselves.


== Fixing the blame and fixing the mess ==

What could better prove the charge of “erratic”?

In the second debate, John McCain was asked who he might choose as Treasury Secretary, and the first name he brought up was Warren Buffet, the chief economics advisor of his opponent, Barack Obama! As “the world’s greatest investor” - who also forecast with eerie prescience that our financial meltdown would happen, and how - Buffett would be a great choice. But... in that case, what about McCain’s own top economics advisor?

Well there is this: Economists unanimous: McCain advisor Phil Gramm most to blame for the current Wall Street crisis.

Well, then, why hasn’t McCain dumped Gramm, or any of the hundred or more lobbyists and Bushadmin factotums that this anti-Washington “maverick” surrounds himself with? Really, it isn’t all lies and hypocrisy. For all his many faults, few have ever accused John McCain of fickleness or disloyalty to his friends. His messy divorce notwithstanding, he does seem to be a very loyal guy. Which, alas, makes it hard for him to convincingly claim to be “anti Washington” or a “maverick” against corrupt members of his own party, who passed the rule changes that brought us to this sorry state.

If he were sincere, would he not call for many of those Republican Senators and Congressmen to be turned out of office? Would that not seal his maverick-cred? Shouldn’t Obama challenge McCain to do just that?

Which brings us to the news that: “In 2001, the last year the Internal Revenue Service estimated the tax gap – the difference between what taxpayers owe and what they actually pay – the figure stood at $345 billion, or $290 billion after subtracting enforcement efforts and late payments.” Yes, this is half of the recent bailout passage. But what I find stunning is that very little has been said about the fact that 2001 was the last year of figures on missing taxes owed! Think about it in light of my earlier contention that the greatest crime of the Bush Gang has been to divert, quell, bully and repress the ability of the entire US Civil Service to perform any function that might help the republic to operate in a healthy way.

Now you have the smoking gun.

==See my more recent essay: Past Keeping Faith with Future…and Day with Night


Oh, before I go.... What a great Buffett comment. Here, from the October 11th Kansas City Star, is the whole quotation: “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”

Edmund Burke once said, “Rage and phrensy will pull down more in half an hour, than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in a hundred years” (Reflections on the French Revolution).

======

I may add some misc items under Comments. But for now...

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.


.

121 comments:

David Brin said...

Let them know... your red friends. This isn't about "wakening ostriches" anymore.

If they want the cityfolk who pay the taxes and generate the wealth and who KNOW all the stuff, from medicine to physics, to start getting really really mad... just keep pushing.

They are so used to us being calm and reasonable and putting up with their unreasoning insults and proud ignorance and seething hatred...

But eventually, you sow what you reap,

For the last time. Get out of the way, Billy-Bob. Let us smartypants have our turn, so we can fix the mess.

"Or else?"
Did you really just say that?
Did you realy jab us and say "Or else what, city boy?"

Or else... you... won't... like... us... when we get .... when we get...

....mad...

.

learner said...

David:
Right on as usual.
Now the hard part starts and that is to solve the problems that keep this civil war coming back. You have been very good at giving us ideas to work on the ostriches. We have to keep to the Obama mantra;
Respect, Include, Empower!
I personally find it very difficult. I stood outside of a early polling place today here in Texas and found myself in heated conversations.
Some how we have to find a way to get through to these people! Some are filled with fear, some with hate. Hate is the most difficult as it is fueled daily by "our friends" on talk radio and Fox. How do we end this? Boycotts? Swamping the call in boards? Other ideas, anyone?

As for the fear, the next few years will feed it as the bad news economically will continue even with Obama. And of course Iraq violence will rage once we leave. The hole we are in is so deep it will take time to get out and all will suffer. To some it will confirm their fears about Obama. With the short attention span of many, the last eight years will be quickly forgotten. We need to continually remind the country about the who and the how of this tragic condition of our country.

Perhaps Naomi Wolfe's My American Project is the answer. what do you think?
http://myamericaproject.org/

Sociotard said...

What if the 2008 Presidential Election were a DnD game?
NSFW due to language.

rewinn said...

Interesting analysis! Let me suggest a few points with respect to the current administration's abuse of the military, and the McCain campaign:

* This first victims of a bellicose foreign policy (other than the targets of our wars of choice) are our military who fight them.

* The function of the Guard and Reserve has changed radically from a forces last resort to an integrated part of initial and ongoing operations. The resulting strain on military families is incalculable; as the saying goes, "A weekend a month my @ss!"

* McCain, by conventional wisdom, should get maximum support form military families and veterans. However, his voting record on veterans post-911 is, at best, negligent, according to Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America; his ratings among older veterans organizations is not much better. These ratings themselves may not be so important as the facts behind them, which military families are not unaware of; "A dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked."

* There's a heck of a lot of military families & veterans in the states turning blue.

* Whatever one's attitude toward current and former military, our duty to support them post-election is plain. This can also reap great rewards for our democracy; by sending the legions to college and professional school, the first GI Bill may have created a middle class interested in civic affairs. The GI Bill 2008 is less generous but a wise citizenry will use it to the same effect. There's a lot of potential doctors, lawyers, teachers and dare I say "community activists" coming on line ... if we help them!

Woozle said...

I took a look earlier at My American Project, but was disappointed. If anyone can point to a page there which explains how individuals can help in some way besides donating, making phone calls, or going door-to-door -- which appears to be the universal recipe for activism, and which helps but doesn't seem adequate to deal with the sort of ideological crises we've been encountering more and more -- I'd like to see it.

My solution is in several parts. Starting with the most important and building from there:

1. A system whereby anyone can post a question for referendum and others can vote on it.

This will use range voting (rate your approval on a scale from -10 to +10, say, rather than just binary yes/no), to allow voters to show their relative approval of the various options and arrive at the best compromise.

Unlike the multitude of online polling widgets currently available (e.g. LiveJournal, PollDaddy), there will be voter verification to minimize sockpuppetry/poll-crashing and also some verification of attributes which may be relevant (e.g. is the voter a doctor? a soldier or veteran? a resident of a particular area? a known expert in a given field?).

I'm also inclined to keep secret balloting to a minimum, to encourage discussion and taking a stand (the system should let you see how any given individual has voted on non-secret items). Yes, it causes problems (vote-buying, intimidation, etc.) -- but I have some ideas for dealing with them, and think they may be less than the vote-verification problems we've been running into with the current system.

2. A system for managing these referenda so that individuals are not flooded by issues of no interest to them: Each referendum will be assigned to one or more "topics"; each topic will have a "feed" to which interested voters can subscribe. Voters can also rate whether the referendum belongs in the assigned topic or not, in order to prevent spamming and minimize mis-filed referenda.

There will probably be a feedback mechanism to reward posting of relevant referenda in appropriate topics and discourage individuals from promoting particular referenda in exchange for material gain.

3. A system for managing "structured debate" on contentious issues, so that logical dependencies can be established on some items. Ultimately such arguments come down to premises which can't be debated -- so participants should be able to pick their premises and see which of their positions are inconsistent with those premises, as determined through the ongoing debate process.

--

It seems to me that just the first two items could seriously change the world; the third item should help keep it civilized. There's a lot more which could be done by building on this infrastructure, too.

Also, key point: the idea is not so much for this to be a centralized system but rather to create a set of standards for managing these things, and (free/open-source) software to implement them -- so that if any one implementation becomes corrupted (e.g. the way Conservapedia corrupts the wiki concept by censoring rather than discussing), voters can move to another one (or set up their own).

Part of the standard needs to be a format for data-exchange, so the various sites can pool their data and aggregate their agreements. If there are a thousand sites, and a thousand users on each can all agree on a set of principles, that would be a million people agreeing on something. What might not be accomplished?

--

"you... won't... like... us... when we get .... when we get... ....mad..."

I already got mad. This is what I came up with. Authoritarian assholes everywhere, beware: the meek are here, and we're ready for our damn inheritance. You may have the power now, but you forget that you need us to cooperate with you in order to keep that power. I think we're ready to stop cooperating.

Robert said...

There is a danger with the path you're espousing, Dr. Brin. If we agents of change (be that agent a liberal, conservative, moderate, non-Neocon Republican, non-Reagan Democrat, or someone who just woke up and has had enough) start beating the war drums and shouting out "we have had enough!" then it will confirm every single snide comment, every innuendo, every accusation that the hate-mongers have been preaching. Worse yet, we will have become the very things we strive against: agents of hate and vengeance.

We should speak softly and carry a big stick. The stick we wield is our vote, and we wield it by tossing out the incompetents and the power-hungry and the greedy in Congress and restoring a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Every word we say needs to be carefully planned. We need to be conservative in speech and in action so not to alarm the true ostriches out there... the sheep in Republican's clothing who are willing to sleep out this election because they feel nothing will get done.

If we startle the sheep through harsh words and rhetoric, then we risk waking the sheep and causing them to stampede. And while Senator Obama will likely still get into office... we will not have swept Congress clean of the filth of Washington.

We won't anyway. But we'll get a good start if we're careful about what we say and how we say it.

You get much further by walking than by running. It takes longer, but you keep your strength and endurance, and it's better for you in the long run. We're taking the first steps... but if we start running now, then the sheep will wake up and realize it's a race and blindly bleat and follow the Neocons into ruin.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Woozle said...

A comment in defense of stridency:

While I think Obama as president would (hopefully will) be worlds better than McPalin as president, I am not expecting that everything will "be okay" from then on. The best he may be able to do is turn down the engines pushing us in the wrong direction; he may be able to steer us away from disaster without being able to put us on the right course. For one thing, we will still have to expect a huge backlash in 2012, from frightened and misinformed people such as these.

It seems to me that speaking softly has only emboldened the abusers, and at some point we have to stake out a position and defend it. They now feel free to lie, cheat, distort, and express the most heinously unrepublican (as in "being compatible with the existence of a republic") sentiments as if they were commonly-known fact. We give them the benefit of the doubt, so they manufacture more doubt. We avoid waking the sheep, so the voice the sheep hear crying "wolf!" is pointing at us.

Wake the sheep. Let them know we're just as angry as their leaders pretend to be. Reclaim our fair share of the doubt. When you see a lie, call it a lie.

Otherwise the neocons will keep tilting the playing field right through election day, and we'll be looking at McPalin 2008-2012, Scudder/Holn 2012-?

Robert said...

Ah, but by remaining quiet, when the economy went into the tank all eyes were on the Republicans, who looked bad as a result. A lot of people soured on the Republican party, despite the fact that some Democrats worked with the Republicans to dismantle the protections that would have prevented this.

Even better, Obama remained quiet and conferred with economists on what to do, while McCain initially rambled on how the "fundamentals of the economy" were sound and then grandstanded on the Bailout package, only to be left with egg on his face. Result? Obama looked presidential while McCain looked ineffectual.

Best of all, when you do speak up, people will notice. I liken it to swearing. If you never swear, the moment you start cursing, people will notice. Likewise, if you are quiet and careful, when you DO speak up about something that TRULY matters... then people will notice.

We can speak loudest in November by, as one group, voting for Obama and eliminating as many pro-Bush Republicans as possible. But shouting back at the slurs of the hate-mongers because we're upset with the growling of a dying political party... that won't do any good. And it may do more harm than good.

Choose your battles. If you want to shout at something? Shout at the attempt by the GOP to eliminate the votes of millions of new voters and registered Democrats. That is a battle worth fighting. But snarling hate for hate is not.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Greetings,

Learner said:
"I personally find it very difficult. I stood outside of a early polling place today here in Texas and found myself in heated conversations.
Some how we have to find a way to get through to these people! Some are filled with fear, some with hate. Hate is the most difficult as it is fueled daily by "our friends" on talk radio and Fox. How do we end this? Boycotts? Swamping the call in boards? Other ideas, anyone?"

Hate is an extreme form of fear.

Keep asking them, "What is it about X that causes you concern?".

Then address that concern.

"He's a Muslim/Arab/etc". Show them the proof which belies the lies that clouds their minds.

People have tinted shades on their minds which colour their perceptions of the world around them.

Most often, these are deliberately slipped past our conscious mind - our guard-dog, as it were - into our unconscious mind by special-interest groups.

Special-interest groups use these to control the masses by waving slogans/banners/labels, which elicit the desired response.

"Tax cuts" become "Socialism", and so on.

Once they become aware of these tinted shades on their minds, people will become less prone to such control.

Those filled with hatred (fear) of Jews need only be told that Jesus was himself a Jew to make them realise that they're wearing tinted mind-shades.

"No he wasn't! - he was a Christian!"

His followers are "Christians" - he was a Jew.

And so on.

Remember the story of the little old lady with a hammer, steadily chipping away at a vast boulder, until it all turns to dust.

Kindest regards,

James

Stefan Jones said...

My opinion of rubes, rebs, and racists is very low. I'd really love to rub their noses in socioeconomic reality.

But I'm with Robert. But you don't carry a big stick, you offer a big carrot. You don't teach them better, you show them better.

Picture a teacher dealing with unruly teenagers. You have to be an authority, but you don't sink to their level. You don't smash them upside the head, even if they deserve it.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic? You save that for special occasions.

Boot said...

Stefan it seems like the gang of teenagers is happy running around town and smashing things.

What carrot are we going to give these ruffians? Better treatment than we give ourselves? I'd expect and accept a little of this, but only to a point.

I don't see a carrot we can offer. Can you explain to me a couple of things we could?

Robert said...

Easy. You wait for the new sheriff, who is working on a platform of enforcing laws and on programs/regulations to stop the lawlessness, to be elected. Better, you help get him elected. Then the new sheriff throws the worse of the lot into jail, the rest suffer fines and the like, and work to fix the damage.

But if you chase them into the street while brandishing a stick, you'll end up ganged up on and overwhelmed. If you get into a large mob and start marching down the street chanting threats against the gangers, they vanish and wait for sentiments to die down and for other people to get angry at YOU for your "rabblerousing" and the like.

Pick your battles. This isn't the battle to fight. If you want to fight, fight to end voter disenfranchisement. It's a cause that few people can honestly say is wrong.

Rob H.

Boot said...

Let me follow up to say, I believe we should move most of the unsolvable national issues to the state level.

This would allow the North East to teach/show the rest of the national how great Universal Healthcare or Political Issue X is.

So I agree with you in principle, but I don't see us shifting towards states based solutions rather than national solutions.

Aric said...

According to this poll career military still overwhelmingly supports McCain. Any thoughts?

http://www.militarytimes.com/news/2008/10/military_poll_100508w/

David Brin said...

Robert, you are right that Obama needs to speak softly and that's his nature (read that David Brooks piece!) He needs to reach out.

But we blue citizens are another matter. We too need to reach out and wean our neighbors away from Limbaugh. But it is time to also let them see a flash of anger in our eyes and hear that tightly controlled Bruce Banner voice, struggling to keep The Hulk contained.

Two possibilities. We win Gettysburg:
One result will be a surge of Timothy McVeighs. Scratch the surface, and the "patriotic" Red America will be waving Confederate or Alaska secessionist flags. Their love of America is so frantic because it is only skin deep.

Or we lose Gettysburg:
At which point we need to make it clear that they have made a big mistake. We are fighting for our nation, civilization and lives. And we are the biologists, physicists, doctors, innovators, taxpayers, and heroes who stood up on 9/11.

David Brin said...

The military polls should parse between enlisted men and senior officers. The latter have been switching big time.

Jester said...

Dr. Brin

As a California specific matter (sort of) there is an alliance between the senile Salt Lake Mullahs and the folks who have long reviled them as "satan worshipers" trying out its legs for the first time in order to try to alter our constitution.

Thoughts?

BTW - You're a more civil man than I...and more civil than the men who first marched south into Maryland.

John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave
His soul's marching on!
(Chorus)
Glory, halle—hallelujah! Glory, halle—hallelujah!
Glory, halle—hallelujah! his soul's marching on!
.......

His pet lambs will meet him on the way;
They go marching on!
(Chorus)
They will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree!
As they march along!

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

(previous deleted comment was a variant of this one.)

"senile"? "Mullah"?

You could not be more incorrect about those men.

I say this from specific experience, *having met and conversed with at least three of them.*

I can think of at least three reasons to support CA's Proposition 8 which touch no religious premise. If anyone wants to see them, I'll write it up.

And incidentally, LDS and EC's have many tactical alliances going back for years, just as the LDS have tactical alliances with Muslim charities, Catholic charities, and even the ACLU in some cases, in order to forward our own temporal causes. The Church's support of Prop 8 through an issue campaign organization is nothing new, along those lines.

Robert said...

You know, one of the first things I'm going to try and do once (hopefully) Obama gets elected is introduce legislation to the U.S. Congress that states Marriage is a religious institution and thus the Federal Government cannot regulate it due to the Constitutional separation of Church and State. As such, all marriages will be legally replaced by Civil Unions for tax, insurance, and legal purposes.

All existing marriages will be grandfathered into the new Civil Union law. Marriage licenses will no longer be issued by state governments and instead will be replaced by Civil Union licenses.

Religious marriages are still allowed, but if the married couple wishes to have legal protections and rights, they must get a Civil Union license. Oh, and Civil Union licenses are available to any and all couple of the appropriate age, regardless of gender, sexuality, or race.

Because let's face it. The huge argument concerning gay marriage is that it's against God's will. If they want to use that argument, then Constitutionally, marriage cannot be licensed by the government and should be replaced.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Just passing these from Daggatt.

A contest to photoshop Tongue McCain... keep scrolling down past the black:

http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2008/10/photoshop-conte.html#more

Then - yipes! - there's this new one:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/10/15/232228/81/666/631918

I mean, come on guys. What does it take to start getting creeped out?

Cliff said...

I agree with woozle here:
While I think Obama as president would (hopefully will) be worlds better than McPalin as president, I am not expecting that everything will "be okay" from then on. The best he may be able to do is turn down the engines pushing us in the wrong direction; he may be able to steer us away from disaster without being able to put us on the right course. For one thing, we will still have to expect a huge backlash in 2012...

And this goes back to David Brin's posted answers to the Reason questions, on the last thread.

He said:
I will swallow my anger when Bush pardons thousands... and then lets Cheney pardon him. I am too busy for vengeance.

I think this is the exact wrong approach.
Think about it: thanks to the Great Raids of the past eight years, these people have the resources to lay low if the Dems win big in November. All they have to do is snipe here and there, undermine as much as they can.
And a decade later they will be back to their old games once again.

They need to be brought to justice, hounded, harried. They need to be stripped of their resources. We need to throw open the records and expose everything to day.

That's what needs to happen, and that's why I will push for retribution.
As to whether it can and will happen, I am extremely pessimistic.

Jester said...

Wow, that was a raw nerve.

I know Mormons generaly belive that bigotry should be expressed politely and masked with a veneer of reason, and are loath to honestly discuss their Churches nearly perfect record of being on the wrong side of every Civil Rights issue to come along since Brigham Young took over.

But, you're right that this Fatwa is no different than the Fatwa issued in regard to Perez decision and the ERA. I didn't say it was anything new.

After all, they still publish "To Young Men Only". Should Young Men really assault any male who makes a sexual advance toward them?

The First Presidency still thinks so.

Rob said...

A raw nerve? Again, you could not be more incorrect. I'm not sure I know how to converse with someone whose conversation connotes an unwillingness to converse.

Besides which, claiming that Mormons have been on the wrong side of every civil rights issue clearly shows that you have no faint idea, even a slight clue, what you're talking about.

I suggest getting yourself better informed, before popping off again. Unless you wish me to categorize you in the same bucket as those equally ignorant Evangelicals who, in your words, revile us as "satan worshippers"?

David Brin said...

Jester damp it, please? Consider this. We have LDSers who are members of this community - who lean toward what I call the "Scifi friendly side" of Mormonism.

Isn't that proof enough that guys like Rob are worthy of engaging and even contemplating that your assumptions are too simple?

Granted, there is also a divide among evangelicals, between the bigot- troglodytes and the rising "Creation-tending" and "red-letter" side. (Jimmy Carter's wing, now trying to make a comeback.) We can root for the better half. But alas, we have no representatives of EITHER kind here.

So please. Ask questions instead of making assumptions. Anyway, Utah was neutral in Civil War Phase I and quickly made doctrine changes after Phase II. It won't be much help in Phase Three but we do NOT need to antagonize them.

Remember Heinlein's "Coventry." He forecast the Mormons as victims of Scudder, not allies.

Rob said...

OK, fine.

Please do better at history, everyone.

Utah was, by a territorial declaration issued by Brigham Young himself, firmly on the side of the Union. No battles made it out that way, is all.

The Mormons themselves, after being harried out of their homes in Illinois, also took the at the time impossibly confusing step of allying themselves with the United States during the Mexican American War. This would be the action that brought California in the Union in the first place.

During that war, they built a wagon road which today is roughly the same route as parts of I-25, and I-8 on the Interstate Highway system, in much the same way as I-84 mirrors the old Oregon Trail. They were disbanded somewhere close to David Brin's home.

During the territorial years, Mormons, against the logic of the rest of the United States, afforded women full suffrage in the Territory. Some women during that time served in the Territorial legislature. Women lost suffrage when Utah was made a State, by dint of federal law.

The Civil Rights era was not one of neutrality. The Mormons are organized so that 15 leaders have to act in unison before any policy can change.

(Compare this to Brown v Board of Education, where only five like-minded judges were required to force a change.)

It took an extra 14 years after the Civil Rights Act was passed to reach that level of unanimity, and it should be noted that during those 14 years (only nine of which I was actually alive for) we had the White Flights from city centers, the establishment of private CC&R-based neighborhood associations to maintain defacto segregation in cities and towns as far north as Chicago and further, and Nixonian conservative politics had seen its debut.

In other words, by 1978, "Civil War Phase II" was still in some of its most heated "battles", and in a departure from David's rubric, I think it's the phase we're still fighting.

It was in 1978 that those 15 Mormon leaders, all elderly men born well before World War II, turned on a dime, implementing policies that shot way past the status quo of the rest of the world, let alone the country. And, our public records will show that Mormon leaders had been wondering and agonizing about the issue in the 40's and earlier, long before the country at large was willing to consider it, let alone accept it.

If you thought that was long-winded, then I apologize. But when even our host has misconceptions about an admittedly obscure bit of Americana, I feel compelled to toss a few facts into the ring.

If a sufficient number of people ask for it, I'll provide references, but Obama's memoirs should be enough evidence about the White Flight for this crowd.

Sociotard said...

A Halsey, Oregon woman was so offended by a book her son took out from the school library that not only is she not going to give it back, but she plans to burn it. She has also said that any other copies of the book (a cartoon collection called The Bunny Suicides) the library obtains will meet a similar fate.
Link.

arcanedesigns said...

David, Everyone,
I'm sorry - everything's going to have to turn around and we're going to need to all go home. I'm afraid we've been quite bamboozled, because Obama uses hypnosis.

Yes, indeed, all our hopes and dreams of stopping the nation from sliding into despair were merely an exploitative fantasy created by a machiavellian individual for personal power . . .

Or something like that. I really pity anyone who reads the full 67 page report, I just thought I would mention it.

atomicsmith said...

@Rob

> I can think of at least three reasons to support CA's Proposition 8 which touch no religious premise. If anyone wants to see them, I'll write it up.

go right ahead if you can

Jester said...

I used to be very much of the "The Past is the Past, and Mormons mostly just want to be left alone, so who cares about the bigoted teachings that come out of salt lake, and besides they've changed a lot" school of thought.

It's only reflection for years after leaving that has led me to view things the way I do now.

The fact is that the First Presidency has always engaged in a "double message" strategy, largely to maintain a positive image of their Church for folks like you and me.

They tried to build "reasonable" cases for opposing "race mixing" that were also "not about hate".

Not all Mormons have ever obeyed all the Fatwas issued from Salt Lake. I mean, some of them even argued that the Church was wrong to institute and defend Segregation and to allow Slavery in Utah. Even now, plenty (not most, but plenty) are repudiating what their leadership is doing.

Also, I don't doubt the long overdue apologies will be issued in 50 years time.

"For Young Men Only" will probably be re-written in a decade or two so that it no longer encourages hate crimes.

For now, though, they're providing 40% of the funding for ads claiming that a Proposition to block same sex marriage will "Protect children from Predators"...so no, I'm not in a real reasonable mood when comes to the Old Men who still publish a book advocating hate crimes.

I have no more ill-will for the average Mormon than you do for Republicans, Dr. Brin, but I have no more patience or consideration for these aspiring Theocrats in Salt Lake than you do for the Kleptocrat Cabal in Washington.

I spent more than a few of my formative years in the Church of Latter Day Saints, BTW. Accusations of ignorance are always one of the first lines of defense from people who don't want to own up to the uglier side of their community...see also: Republican reactions to your Ostrich Essay.


"To The One" is still published, a pamphlet claiming that only selfishness prevents the "mechanically broken" from overcoming their homosexual impulses. This was written by Boyd K Packer, the current President of the Quorum of Twelve.

"To young Men only", which advocates violence against men who so much at make a pass, was also written by Boyd K Packer and is still available.

"Letter to a Friend" is still published, which calls homosexuals "perverts," "abominations," and "servants of Satan". This was written by (now deceased) President Kimball.

"For The Strength of Youth" is still published, which compares Homosexuality to rape and incest.

If Rob was worthy of my respect he'd be investing time in demand his church stop publishing and renounce those three publications instead of playing volunteer public relations flunky.

They've led to more than few suicides, and I haven't actually listed the most disgusting quotes from them. People know how to google.

Russell Henderson, one of the two young men who beat and tortured Mathew Shepard to death, was a holder of the Melchizadec Priesthood raised on these publications.

So, no, I don't intend to tamp it down, but I will clarify the target.

I don't hate muslims, either, but you can expect some words from next time the mullahs in Saudi Arabia knock a wall over on some gay kids.

Rob said...

@jester

"To Young Men Only", which largely warns about the addictive potential of masturbation, is no longer published by the LDS Church, as far as I can tell.

If I hazarded a guess as to why, I'd have to conclude that certain passages were being taken out of context, and that the advice given there has been refined by a higher level of knowledge everyone has today about human addiction patterns. Specifically, I'd suppose that its author is now aware that addiction patterns cannot simply be wished away with a song, which at the time of its mid-70's/early 80's publication was a popular supposition.

This serves, actually, as a data point against the implication of "senile mullahs", since that pamphlet's author is now presides over our Church's second-line general leadership. He is in a position to shoe-horn further publication of his pamphlet, and has not.

Jester said...

Don't appologize for being long-winded, Rob.

Appologize for almost completely avoiding the issue other than to mention that Territorial Utah recognized the right of women to vote.

No comment on the fact that Utah was the only territory west of the rockies to condone slavery? Or that it was the last Western state to overturn Anti-misgecination laws? Or that it was the last western state to stop throwing consenting adults in jail for what they did in their own bedrooms?

"Yay, we built a wagon trail!!! Yipeeeee!!! It's so relevant to the conversation at hand!!"

I don't think I've ever met a Mormon who has tried as hard to gloss over the negative parts of the Churches history.

Jester said...

Rob, the last printing was in 1999, and at least as late as 2004 it was still being given to young men (that I know of personally).

No statement has ever been made repudiating it, and you know as well as I do how many homes it is probably still in and how many earnest young men are probably still reading it, especially given the Authors current position.

Instead of engaging in appologetics, demand your Church appolgize for the harm it has caused.

David Brin said...

Jester, you've made clear that your anger is similar to that of lapsed catholics who were traumatized by nuns. Okay, gotcha. Rob can't accuse you of ignorance. In return, please admit that there's added heat to your rancor. Heat that may be merited...

...but not here. Please.

We are all edified by the portions of your exchanges with Rob that qualify as "debate". We're learning a lot!

But we are not edified by the heat. Please ratchet it down. Rob is one of us. Moreover, I find the sci fi side of LDS fascinating.

Dig it. If the loonie-fundie-Scudderite-trogs ever do get complete power, I think you'll find the Mormons on our side of the barbed wire.

Matt DeBlass said...

Glory, Glory Hallelujah!

I'm inclined to agree, it's time to get mad. There are thousands of good folks out there putting their brains to good use trying to make the world a little better, or at least hold off the chaos a little longer, whether they be in the military, civil service, science, medicine or journalism, and telling us they're not the "real America" is flat out insulting not just to them, but to the whole nation they work for.

And about that word, "elitist?" We don't want "elites" in charge? Really? If not our best and our brightest, then who?

When did elite become bad? Navy SEALs are elite. Pro athletes are elite. Our founding fathers were elite. George Washington wasn't just elite, he was the most elite motherf*cker in the room.

Oh, and those "media elites?" I don't know about the guys at FOX, but here at the little local paper I work for, I spend my hours sifting through the details of land use decisions and local elections for about one-seventh of what Joe the Plumber allegedly expects to make. No, I don't have a degree, I had good grades but I ran out of money, I'm taking the classes when I can, but it's hard to keep up on the bills, and the schedule, and find time for my kid... yep, elite here.

I hope I'm not coming across as foaming at the mouth here, but it's a little exasperating to hear these same points over and over from the right, while the left keeps whinging and saying "no, we're not elitists."

Rant off.

Stefan Jones said...

I'll second the call to take the LDS kerfuffle outside.

* * *

I don't listen to Air America too often. I did today; the local NPR affiliate has a pledge drive.

AA's afternoon guy had some good stuff on the "Real American" / "liberals hate successful people and people who believe in God" / "investigate anti-Americanism in congress" meme that the loony right is using to stir up their base.

Utterly sickening. The fact that they deny it and then have to apologize when someone rolls some tape is satisfying, but it doesn't really help. The rubes and soreheads don't care.

One reason I'm not too hot about the "second civil war" theme above is that it isn't just the South. The rubes are all over. And we're going to have to live with them.

I'd like to win them over with confidence and competence.

The "government is the problem" factoid and self-fulfilling prophecy has been around so long that a lot of people don't know any better.

A competent administration can show otherwise. Like: A FEMA that not only does its job, but asks people to do theirs.

atomicsmith said...

While this is somewhat on topic...

...for a good laugh/cry/rage-on, take a look at Orson Scott Card's latest screed of tortured logic against same-sex marriage. As a bonus, at the end he manages to bring Obama into it.

So much fail.

Rob said...

I can and do allege ignorance, but this is a definitional thing; I am far from angry.

Ah, the slavery thing. Federal law enforced the institution of slavery upon Utah Territory, as part of the many compromises wrangled before the Civil War. Thus, there was nothing a staunch Abolitionist like Brigham Young could have done to free slaves without the South howling in the Congress even more than it did, when it sent Johnson's Army over the Plains to invade Utah in the 1850's, based on false premises.

(This sort of thing has its roots deep in American history, not just with the invasion of Iraq. Recall too that the U.S. invaded Russia, Mexico... The Spanish-American war was sparked on a pretense... etc)

Re "To Young Men Only" What I do know is that I couldn't find the document you brought up, anywhere ldscatalog.com, by typing in parts of its title. That's where you'll find the sum of documents published today, and supported today, by the Church.

This is evidence that the Church is taking a more nuanced role in managing addiction patterns among its members.

Leaders in local units today are explicitly directed to offer professional counseling instead of platitudes, when they encounter addiction patterns. And the Church employs board-certified psychiatrists and psychologists to treat people who come in and ask for help, though LDS Social Services.

If I weren't *one of those leaders*, right now, fully versed in all the policies and procedures of the Church, I might not have a case to make for you. But the fact is that I am, and have worked in the halls of local leadership, and in the Temples, for most of my adult life, on one capacity or another.

We here would rightly condemn any organization which said apologies but organized itself to create a de facto situation which gave the lie to the apologies.

The LDS Church has, indeed, made apologies, mostly in the form of explanations to its own members. Statements against hiding the particulars of child abuse, against mistreatment of minority nonmember groups in Utah, against racism, against gay-bashing, have all been made and are on record in the General Conference Reports of the Church.

But you're not looking for that, I think, quite nearly as you're looking for some superficial humiliation, some outward kow-tow that would give the Church's critics the opportunity to exult in its leaders' failings.

I have no authority to offer that humiliation.

Rob said...

And with that, and Stefan's second, I'm done talking about the History Of Mormons in any detail. I ask for unanimous consent to lay the topic on the table.

Cliff said...

Remember Heinlein's "Coventry." He forecast the Mormons as victims of Scudder, not allies.

What am I not getting here? Why does Brin keep pointing to a work of fiction by Heinlein to show that the Mormons wouldn't like a theocracy?
I mean, I don't know how they'd react if Palin created a Bibleocracy (I'm guessing they'd be as conflicted as everyone else), but I don't see how Heinlein's story has any bearing.

Also, jester - I'm there with you on the dislike of the Church. (My grandparents are Mormon, my mom is a former Mormon, so we've had plenty of experience with them.)
But it's easy to get raging religious arguments going, and I'd prefer to keep Contrary Brin clear of it, so I'll say no more.

Rob said...

Regarding Card's alleged "fail", I submit that I agree with some of his premises regarding marriage, but his connection with Obama is tenuous and I don't accept it.

His "full faith and credit" reasoning is also specious; there are already well-preceded cases preventing Kentucky from having to recognize a Massachusetts marriage which doesn't fit its definition.

"If you can", I was dared. Very good. Here are some first tries.

Secular reason number one to support Proposition 8: The creation of a "right of Marriage" to same sex couple is too unpopular.

Wherever this issue is put to election, it has failed, not just by a thin margin, but in most places by enough that it is clearly not in the majority's direct interest.

Refutations can be offered by people who would say that the Civil Rights issues were equally unpopular.

I reject that reasoning on the bases that racial equality is not the same as marriage equality.

Racial civil rights were about eliminating exceptions to a long-stipulated definition of "all men" being created "equally", and to decades of dishonest and inequitable provisioning of public services. (Segregation could have worked, were it not a bitter and brutal lie in the first place.)

Marriage rights, as proposed by gay marriage advocates, are about changing the basic and historical definition of a concept not yet accepted by enough of the polity.

If I am wrong about this angle, Proposition 8 will fail to pass, or it will pass by such a small margin that its opponents will float Initiatives every chance they get, to overturn it.

Secular reason number 2 to support Proposition 8: It will foment new levels of "Culture War", ultimately bifurcating California.

The progression goes like this: We establish, as a premise, that the people opposed to gay marriage are opposed on fundamental grounds. They define marriage differently and traditionally, moreso than progressive elements. For them it is about families and the protection of children.

Based on that premise, it is reasonable to assume that people who find that their children are being taught a different definition of marriage in schools, even at a young age (reference, for example, reports of kids reading "King and King" or the story reported about the first grade teacher who took her class to city hall to witness her gay marriage), they will opt out of the schools.

If they cannot opt out of the schools, they will leave California if possible.

Trends like this are already seen, or else there would not be a movement in California to pass laws making it effectively impossible for children to be home-schooled. Fortunately, the governor vetoed it, but the force of government to push ideas at families that their parents don't want will cause those parents to withdraw from the Commons, in spirit if not physically.

Secular reason number 3: It will eventually infringe on first amendment rights of Churches to practice marriages according to their own definitions.

In that scenario, the State gets lawsuits filed against Churches, such as the Catholic or Mormon churches, the moment that a Priest or Bishop kindly refuses to solemnize a gay marriage. If a State Supreme Court elevates the right of gays to marry as they've defined it above the right of a Bishop or Priest to marry only those who qualify under their religious requirements, then there will be a national Supreme Court case.

This would have the effect of, in certain cases, shutting down the operation of churches on the basis of their beliefs, which today is a clearly unconstitutional move. Even so, we find the activities of the Catholic Church constrained in Massachusetts precisely for that reason.

Each of these three outcomes would serve to alienate much larger majorities from the Commons, than the minority which directly benefits from a legal redefinition of marriage.

Am I wrong? I'm happy to *be* wrong, if the evidence shows to the contrary after a time. For now, I'm content to let Massachusetts alone and watch carefully to see what the results of legalizing gay marriage is. If it is as harmless as advertised, then my concerns will be groundless and can be completely dismissed. I don't think a 10 or 20 year wait, while affording gay couples all the effective household rights a State can offer, is too long to really discover the consequences of such a fundamental social change.

Rob said...

As I recall, in "Coventry", Mormons were an integral part of the Cabal, where they sheltered the main character for a time.

Heinlein was familiar enough with Mormons to depict them more or less accurately, and without rancor. He thought they'd go into space along with the rest of humanity, and mentions them in passing in several short stories, in /Starship Troopers/, and a couple of other places.

William_Shatner said...

Robert said...
There is a danger with the path you're espousing, Dr. Brin. If we agents of change ... start beating the war drums and shouting out "we have had enough!" then it will confirm every single snide comment, every innuendo, every accusation that the hate-mongers have been preaching. Worse yet, we will have become the very things we strive against: agents of hate and vengeance.


Hah! You know what the great thing about being accused of all the crap the NeoCons have thrown at us is? We are already guilty -- live it up. The illusion you live under is that there is ANYTHING you can do, other than roll over and show your belly, that won't be derided or used as fodder for these fascists. The Media, is going to show the protester throwing the rock or the anti-war-monger in the pink bunny outfit, regardless of how many upstanding and well dressed people join the march. You are whatever the central casting wants you to be.

The only advantage you have is that you are up against cowards. "The stick we carry is our vote..." huh, seems we won the vote in 2000, 2004, and only barely due to 7 million extra voters in 2006 -- our vote stick does not impress Diebold, and all the tricks to cage voters. Hopefully, with all the Republicans joining the ranks now -- I mean, even Georgia seems to poll dead even, we can squeak by. But really, what are we going to do on November 4th, if after all this, McCain wins and the Republicans don't lose a lot of seats so that they can filibuster for years, while that $800 Billion in the hands of robber barons is used to bribe and corrupt the DINOs in office?

There are not enough rules, regulations, poll watchers to deal with these jerks. The Republican party is a Criminal Organization, with the thin beard of some sort of Libertarian free market philosophy, and the flag pin of Patriotism and the plastic Jesus on the dash board. If Obama wants to be successful, he is going to have to make some massive arrests after he takes office. These people have committed vary serious crimes -- you know, like selling nuclear secrets, like war profiteering, and to me -- lying a country into a war so that you can help skim the money is mass murder for profit. These people who send kids and dads to floating Gulags are the type of people who would do ANYTHING. The Ayn Rand club is not hampered by the truth, ethics, or a small budget.

If we do not put most of the Bush administration on trial, they will haunt us forever. I think Obama should make good use of the powers Bush and Cheney gave the Presidency and just ignore any pardons. This is a matter of national security.

Do we know for certain, that the many weapons Depots in Iraq, were just left unguarded because nobody thought they might be used against our troops? Can you tell me, that Paulson hasn't at least READ about the Great Depression -- and yet he seems to be using it as a play-book ... is it always going to be "well, they is just dumb" or are we going to quit relying on wishful thinking? Just a few of the things we know about -- what do they do, when all the people with oversight are crooks like them -- what do you think we will find when the tide goes out?

This election is going to have every trick, cheat, quasi-legal and illegal attempt to throw the election, because the Republicans in office know they are guilty as hell. These guys were playing Cold war with Russia, convincing Georgia to attack Ossetia. These guys may or may not be blackmailed by the Mossad. They did not give the Presidency so much power to hand it over... that makes no sense at all.

The support for BushCo has been from cowards, the fearful, the petty who will put on a flag pin and sell out their country for a discount coupon at Stuckeys. They look upon niceness and intellectualism as if it were a sign of your own fear.

The mistake a lot of my liberal friends make is thinking that everyone thinks the same way. Listen to how the NeoCons always describe whatever "enemy" they are concerned with this week, and you will understand how they actually think of themselves.

David Brin said...

Matt that is quite a well-written and concise-but-moving self-portrayal. My dad ran a small community newspaper and my brother served a stint on the Chicago City News Bureau, so I know what it means to do your job. Good luck. And I hope others will occasionally step up to tell their stories.

I am long past feeling sad about the train wreck that is OS Card. This guy is a doppelganger pod replacement of the fellow who ran those "secular humanist revival meetings" in the 1980s. Or else THAT one was a liar.

=======
Stefan, the map does not have to be identical. Mark Twain would say that the divide was always cultural, between those who grew up reading Washington Irving and those who read Sir Walter Scott... the latter being a wretched nostalgist romantic and the George Lucas of his day, who Twain blamed for the southern psychosis.

Today's equivalent? Larry the Cable Guy. Seriously. The charming and disarming self-deprecating humor of the whole Foxworthy, Engvald, goodoldboy comedy crowd masks some deep undercurrents.

Beneath "Hey I'm a stupid redneck and ain't it cute that I admit it and own it?" there lies a deeper message. "I am the salt of the F***ing Earth and even if I beat my wife and shoot up road signs and break every commandment that I scream about -- and despite the deep down secret that I am only "patriotic" when I'm not fantacizing about riding with Nathan Bedford Forrest -- despite all those hypocrisies and a million others, I am BETTER than all you eggheads BECAUSE I am a stupid redneck. And to hell with you and knowledge, anyway."

It's not entirely their fault. Their best and brightest have fled the "real America" as fast as possible, running off to the universities and cities. This has to have left psychic scars. Now add the relentlessly stupid preaching of lefty flakes who have never offered compassion or compromise when they crammed political correctness down the throats of rural folk who have some validity to their conservative temperaments, and you have a cocktail for resentment...

...that was exploited by Rupert Murdoch and his cabal, in much the same way that aristocratic southern slaveowners manipulated poor whites to rally and march and fight and die to preserve the aristocrats' privileges.

Yes, we have cause to be angry. Very, very angry. But the REAL people who should feel our wrath, right away, should be the companies that buy commercials on Faux and on Limbaugh and all the rest. Lists of names and companies need to be posted and we blues need to adjust our buying habits. If we did that, a lot of the heat would go away. (Does anyone know if such a project already exists?)

Hey, I LIKE Engvald! I think he's hilarious and I'd have a beer with him, any day. But Robert Lee was likeable too. And we had no choice but to whip his sorry butt, in order to save a civilization.

William_Shatner said...

matt deblass said...
Glory, Glory Hallelujah!

I'm inclined to agree, it's time to get mad. ...
Oh, and those "media elites?" I don't know about the guys at FOX, but here at the little local paper I work for, I spend my hours sifting through the details of land use decisions and local elections for about one-seventh of what Joe the Plumber allegedly expects to make. No, I don't have a degree, I had good grades but I ran out of money, I'm taking the classes when I can, but it's hard to keep up on the bills, and the schedule, and find time for my kid... yep, elite here. 

I hope I'm not coming across as foaming at the mouth here, but it's a little exasperating to hear these same points over and over from the right, while the left keeps whinging and saying "no, we're not elitists." 

Rant off.


Yeah, elite mind with a beer budget. What makes you "elite" is that you strive to do something that is worth doing, rather than be motivated by what gives you the most status and money. I'm not a devout Socialist -- but I suspect that is the sort of Elite the Right really dislikes and doesn't understand. You aren't driven by fear, or trying to impress the graduating class at high school.

I want people to understand what I just posted -- I'm sounding a bit like a hypocrite, but I think there REALLY is, a difference in people. Be it Maslov's hierarchy of needs which presumes that people who did not get enough safety, food, shelter and affection as children will never be secure when they get older -- some of the people around you are NOT a fully formed adult. Most people are just pretending to have their lives together. We've all learned appropriate behavior because most of us can't interact if it means thinking about it.

Some people are born with a predisposition to be attracted to the same sex. Some people get a high, when they think about a higher being. Some people can be hypnotized and some can't. Some people have rhythm -- and none of them, apparently, are in the GOP -- but I digress.

I think Brin has touched on it so many times -- and maybe I missed where he talked about the implications of "Uplift." It is right there in the discussion about Modernists vs. Romanticists -- and I believe there is more at work here than just preference or that half the population was beaten as kids. I got a lot of abuse, but I never turned around to beat others into the ground when I got the upper hand... I had a predisposition to be compassionate. Either I was afflicted with empathy, or I was merely a sucker and didn't know it.

But I think, that either its by choice, or genetic predisposition, that people make a choice in life to either examine reality, or just accept it and take advantage as much as possible.

Somehow, there is this assumption we make about Homo Sapiens, that a light switch got turned on, and we were suddenly walking upright and no longer swinging from trees. To me, evolution was in fits and starts and uneven, and we are still only partially conscious -- only a few tricks away from being monkeys. We can understand that commercials on TV are manipulative -- but we still MUST HAVE THAT MERCEDES -- and we find some cognitive rationale to justify the choice we made emotionally.

I really get a sense from people, all the time, of this "difference." I can walk into a room, and talk to someone for 30 seconds and tell if the "get it" and are aware. It's like the ability to see color -- you can only fake it, and get cues from other people, but unless you can see color, you cannot appreciate this added dimension. The people who "get it" are not necessarily going to be "big winners" -- they don't seem to have as much drive. They get comfortable, but as soon as money isn't an issue, they are driven by family, accomplishment, deeds -- living for life. Now, success is great, and can motivate -- but getting money and power is seen as a means to do more great things and not the end in itself. To me, the difference is like looking at Donald Trump and then looking at Richard Branson. Both successful people -- but Branson seems to me in my color vision, to be a person who "gets it."

I tried religion, and it annoyed and embarrassed me to be in church because it seemed like a huge distraction from anything "godly." Morals trumps ethics because everyone is forced to deny they nature of humanity. We are horny, smelly, curious apes and we institutionalized sin while everyone was marching about cuss words on TV. Individuals can "get it" but the practice of praying in public seems to me a very depressing way for those who have no hope of achieving spirituality to feel more comfortable that we at least won't leave them behind.

I look forward to meeting aliens any day now,... because the kids on the short bus have control of the worlds governments. While Brin has a lot of hope for transparency, I'm worried about the technology and asymmetric warfare making their way into the hands of clever monkeys without conscience.

There is hope, and this is just a small chunk of history we are living through -- corruption happens all the time, to paraphrase my Indian friend Vinod; "Corrupt governments have always been there, in every country, you are only just discovering that it is here."

But it seems to me the stakes are bigger now. The industrial revolution really did change things for everyone. And the American Revolution that our founding fathers started, really did raise the bar and get the world out of the Middle Ages and serfdom. I think we are right on the cusp of a huge psychological change, and we really cannot go to business as usual. We either have some restraint on Robber Barons and a Green Economy, or we will plunge into resource wars. Remember, it is predicted that over 2.5 million people will be unemployed world-wide in a few short months. That is fertile ground.

What we did not have, at other turning points in history, is angry, color-blind monkeys with nuclear weapons.

>> Obama really can be a transformative figure -- if the Robber Baron proxies in politics and the media don't beat him down or bribe him. Day 2 of his Presidency, every NeoCon on the radio will say; "Would you look at this economy and country? This, is what happens when you put Socialist in charge. Where is this change they've been talking about?" Adults will tell you to pay off the credit card and stop eating candy--but not Santa Klaus... but there are going to be so many Americans who think the coming hardship has nothing to do with the last 8 years. For the last 20 years, we've heard the whining about taxes, as if this is the only burdensome expense any of us undergoes--like NOT HAVING A RAISE IN 8 YEARS, while the government lies about the inflation rate and prints money. There are people addicted to the fantasy notion that Americans are good because we are exceptional (pay not attention to what we do), and that we can keep being the bestest ever and growing profits 15% year over year and stock market crashes are only caused by forcing banks to be nice to poor people by giving them NINJA loans and then sticking them with high interest. All these helpless giants afflicted by the powerful poor people, and the Trillion dollar oil industry thwarted from making us cheaper gas because of Green Peace -- pay no attention to the throttling of production at the refineries that haven't been added to in 25 years. Unless we force real education on the public, this ignorance is going to be fertile ground for more weeds.

>>My two cents: I also think that Heinlen, while a great Sci-Fi writer, did not do a great job at writing characters. It always seemed to be a little twist on himself, and every hero was smart, very rational (and horny). He didn't seem to have a great grasp of Joe the Plumber, dumber characters seemed to be Heinlen without math skills, women seemed to be Heinlen, dogs seemed to be Heinlen with just a little more penchant for "package cleaning" -- so I don't think he was a good predictor of how different tribes on earth would react.

William_Shatner said...

Robert said...
There is a danger with the path you're espousing, Dr. Brin. If we agents of change ... start beating the war drums and shouting out "we have had enough!" then it will confirm every single snide comment, every innuendo, every accusation that the hate-mongers have been preaching. Worse yet, we will have become the very things we strive against: agents of hate and vengeance.


Hah! You know what the great thing about being accused of all the crap the NeoCons have thrown at us is? We are already guilty -- live it up. The illusion you live under is that there is ANYTHING you can do, other than roll over and show your belly, that won't be derided or used as fodder for these fascists. The Media, is going to show the protester throwing the rock or the anti-war-monger in the pink bunny outfit, regardless of how many upstanding and well dressed people join the march. You are whatever the central casting wants you to be.

The only advantage you have is that you are up against cowards. "The stick we carry is our vote..." huh, seems we won the vote in 2000, 2004, and only barely due to 7 million extra voters in 2006 -- our vote stick does not impress Diebold, and all the tricks to cage voters. Hopefully, with all the Republicans joining the ranks now -- I mean, even Georgia seems to poll dead even, we can squeak by. But really, what are we going to do on November 4th, if after all this, McCain wins and the Republicans don't lose a lot of seats so that they can filibuster for years, while that $800 Billion in the hands of robber barons is used to bribe and corrupt the DINOs in office?

For now, we should follow Obama's example and yes -- be as calm and thoughtful as possible to not startle the Sheeple.

I, however, am going to have to leave the country, because I'm going to have a hard time controlling my rage... because we probably won't know who won the election until January. And of course, the REAL economic surprises will come forth, and maybe the Media will cover the reduction in shipments from China --- of course, the day after everyone already knows.

There are not enough rules, regulations, poll watchers to deal with these jerks. The Republican party is a Criminal Organization, with the thin beard of some sort of Libertarian free market philosophy, and the flag pin of Patriotism and the plastic Jesus on the dash board. If Obama wants to be successful, he is going to have to make some massive arrests after he takes office. These people have committed vary serious crimes -- you know, like selling nuclear secrets, like war profiteering, and to me -- lying a country into a war so that you can help skim the money is mass murder for profit. These people who send kids and dads to floating Gulags are the type of people who would do ANYTHING. They are not hampered by the truth, ethics, or a small budget.

Take everything that NeoCons have said about the Left, and you have a reflection of the true heart of a NeoCon. They've projected their inner-most shortcomings on everyone else, to rationalize their low class with "everybody does it." No, everyone does not -- but when they do, you better learn to like Tar and Feathers.

If we do not put most of the Bush administration on trial, they will haunt us forever. I think Obama should make good use of the powers Bush and Cheney gave the Presidency and just ignore any pardons. This is a matter of national security.

Does anyone know for sure, if the 6 lose Nukes (5 were recovered), were just an accident? Do we know for certain, that the many weapons Depots in Iraq, were just left unguarded because nobody thought they might be used against our troops? Can you tell me, that Paulson hasn't at least READ about the Great Depression -- and yet he seems to be using it as a play-book ... is it always going to be "well, they is just dumb" or are we going to quit relying on wishful thinking? Just a few of the things we know about -- what do they do, when all the people with oversight are crooks like them -- what do you think we will find when the tide goes out?

This election is going to have every trick, cheat, quasi-legal and illegal attempt to throw the election, because the Republicans in office know they are guilty as hell. These guys were playing Cold war with Russia, convincing Georgia to attack Ossetia. These guys may or may not be blackmailed by the Mossad. They did not give the Presidency so much power to hand it over... that makes no sense at all.

It drives me nuts, that every incident seems to be compartmentalized -- you aren't looking at the big picture. The head of the CIA quit in shame, when they were caught bribing and extorting un-named politicians with prostitutes and poker at the Watergate hotel. They didn't stop this practice--they just got caught. Nobody was punished and the game continues. They didn't stop the drug trade after Ollie North used cocaine money to buy weapons to send to the anti-American factions in Iran. They have not stopped, and never will stop, until someone puts them in a covered pit and sprinkles it with holy water.

We read history books and somehow think that all those really bad things are in the past. No, we are just in a long vacation right now from really bad things. Just because everyone got teased for conspiracy theories about the Illuminati, doesn't mean that there isn't a shadow government, manipulating world leaders for their own power and profit.

The book; "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" gives you an outline of what factions in the security industry have been up to. But now these things are not confined to the "third world." Multinationals only use the USA as a leg-breaker. They can easily live the high life in Dubai, and start corrupting China -- well, maybe just take advantage of the weaknesses already there.

"Be careful about what we say...." if the propaganda machine wants us to say something, they don't actually need a Liberal to say it. Martin Luther King or Ghandi would have gotten nowhere with their peace movements, if people weren't already afraid of having to deal with the REALLY angry crowd. If you notice, your Conservative friends didn't show much of a conscience until gas prices went up and their mortgage was at stake. Next Ostrich I see, I will be tempted to put a but up his ass while he hides his head in the sand.

The support for BushCo has been from cowards, the fearful, the petty who will put on a flag pin and sell out their country for a discount coupon at Stuckeys. They look upon niceness and intellectualism as if it were a sign of your own fear. There has been a lot of calm voices, making rational arguments -- but what has really swayed public opinion is the Daily Show, and a constant dosage of ridicule by those of us who are fed up. There are evolved folks and slightly less evolved folks, and we all aren't stampeded the same way. How did Bush and Rove harness the NeoCons -- listen to Rush Limbaugh and Hannity and tell me if calm, thoughtful discussion are in play. You should respect everyone, until you come across people who only know domination or being dominated.

The mistake a lot of my liberal friends make is thinking that everyone thinks the same way. Listen to how the NeoCons always describe whatever "enemy" they are concerned with this week, and you will understand how they actually think of themselves.


****

matt deblass said...
Glory, Glory Hallelujah!

I'm inclined to agree, it's time to get mad. ...
Oh, and those "media elites?" I don't know about the guys at FOX, but here at the little local paper I work for, I spend my hours sifting through the details of land use decisions and local elections for about one-seventh of what Joe the Plumber allegedly expects to make. No, I don't have a degree, I had good grades but I ran out of money, I'm taking the classes when I can, but it's hard to keep up on the bills, and the schedule, and find time for my kid... yep, elite here. 

I hope I'm not coming across as foaming at the mouth here, but it's a little exasperating to hear these same points over and over from the right, while the left keeps whinging and saying "no, we're not elitists." 

Rant off.


Yeah, elite mind with a beer budget. What makes you "elite" is that you strive to do something that is worth doing, rather than be motivated by what gives you the most status and money. I'm not a devout Socialist -- but I suspect that is the sort of Elite the Right really dislikes and doesn't understand. You aren't driven by fear, or trying to impress the graduating class at high school.

I want people to understand what I just posted -- I'm sounding a bit like a hypocrite, but I think there REALLY is, a difference in people. Be it Maslov's hierarchy of needs which presumes that people who did not get enough safety, food, shelter and affection as children will never be secure when they get older -- some of the people around you are NOT a fully formed adult. Most people are just pretending to have their lives together. We've all learned appropriate behavior because most of us can't interact if it means thinking about it.

Some people are born with a predisposition to be attracted to the same sex. Some people get a high, when they think about a higher being. Some people can be hypnotized and some can't. Some people have rhythm -- and none of them, apparently, are in the GOP -- but I digress.

I think Brin has touched on it so many times -- and maybe I missed where he talked about the implications of "Uplift." It is right there in the discussion about Modernists vs. Romanticists -- and I believe there is more at work here than just preference or that half the population was beaten as kids. I got a lot of abuse, but I never turned around to beat others into the ground when I got the upper hand... I had a predisposition to be compassionate. Either I was afflicted with empathy, or I was merely a sucker and didn't know it.

But I think, that either its by choice, or genetic predisposition, that people make a choice in life to either examine reality, or just accept it and take advantage as much as possible.

Somehow, there is this assumption we make about Homo Sapiens, that a light switch got turned on, and we were suddenly walking upright and no longer swinging from trees. To me, evolution was in fits and starts and uneven, and we are still only partially conscious -- only a few tricks away from being monkeys. We can understand that commercials on TV are manipulative -- but we still MUST HAVE THAT MERCEDES -- and we find some cognitive rationale to justify the choice we made emotionally.

I really get a sense from people, all the time, of this "difference." I can walk into a room, and talk to someone for 30 seconds and tell if the "get it" and are aware. It's like the ability to see color -- you can only fake it, and get cues from other people, but unless you can see color, you cannot appreciate this added dimension. The people who "get it" are not necessarily going to be "big winners" -- they don't seem to have as much drive. They get comfortable, but as soon as money isn't an issue, they are driven by family, accomplishment, deeds -- living for life. Now, success is great, and can motivate -- but getting money and power is seen as a means to do more great things and not the end in itself. To me, the difference is like looking at Donald Trump and then looking at Richard Branson. Both successful people -- but Branson seems to me in my color vision, to be a person who "gets it."

I tried religion, and it annoyed and embarrassed me to be in church because it seemed like a huge distraction from anything "godly." Morals trumps ethics because everyone is forced to deny they nature of humanity. We are horny, smelly, curious apes and we institutionalized sin while everyone was marching about cuss words on TV. Individuals can "get it" but the practice of praying in public seems to me a very depressing way for those who have no hope of achieving spirituality to feel more comfortable that we at least won't leave them behind.

I look forward to meeting aliens any day now,... because the kids on the short bus have control of the worlds governments. While Brin has a lot of hope for transparency, I'm worried about the technology and asymmetric warfare making their way into the hands of clever monkeys without conscience.

There is hope, and this is just a small chunk of history we are living through -- corruption happens all the time, to paraphrase my Indian friend Vinod; "Corrupt governments have always been there, in every country, you are only just discovering that it is here."

But it seems to me the stakes are bigger now. The industrial revolution really did change things for everyone. And the American Revolution that our founding fathers started, really did raise the bar and get the world out of the Middle Ages and serfdom. I think we are right on the cusp of a huge psychological change, and we really cannot go to business as usual. We either have some restraint on Robber Barons and a Green Economy, or we will plunge into resource wars. Remember, it is predicted that over 2.5 million people will be unemployed world-wide in a few short months. That is fertile ground.

What we did not have, at other turning points in history, is angry, color-blind monkeys with nuclear weapons.

>> Obama really can be a transformative figure -- if the Robber Baron proxies in politics and the media don't beat him down or bribe him. Day 2 of his Presidency, every NeoCon on the radio will say; "Would you look at this economy and country? This, is what happens when you put Socialist in charge. Where is this change they've been talking about?" Adults will tell you to pay off the credit card and stop eating candy--but not Santa Klaus... but there are going to be so many Americans who think the coming hardship has nothing to do with the last 8 years. For the last 20 years, we've heard the whining about taxes, as if this is the only burdensome expense any of us undergoes--like NOT HAVING A RAISE IN 8 YEARS, while the government lies about the inflation rate and prints money. There are people addicted to the fantasy notion that Americans are good because we are exceptional (pay not attention to what we do), and that we can keep being the bestest ever and growing profits 15% year over year and stock market crashes are only caused by forcing banks to be nice to poor people by giving them NINJA loans and then sticking them with high interest. All these helpless giants afflicted by the powerful poor people, and the Trillion dollar oil industry thwarted from making us cheaper gas because of Green Peace -- pay no attention to the throttling of production at the refineries that haven't been added to in 25 years. Unless we force real education on the public, this ignorance is going to be fertile ground for more weeds.

>>My two cents: I also think that Heinlen, while a great Sci-Fi writer, did not do a great job at writing characters. It always seemed to be a little twist on himself, and every hero was smart, very rational (and horny). He didn't seem to have a great grasp of Joe the Plumber, dumber characters seemed to be Heinlen without math skills, women seemed to be Heinlen, dogs seemed to be Heinlen with just a little more penchant for "package cleaning" -- so I don't think he was a good predictor of how different tribes on earth would react.

***
Brin said...
"...that was exploited by Rupert Murdoch and his cabal, in much the same way that aristocratic southern slaveowners manipulated poor whites to rally and march and fight and die to preserve the aristocrats' privileges. "


True, true. Every Republican I know, wants to preserve the privileges of the CEO, because they hope to be one, one day. You know what? There can only be so many CEOs. The whole concept of raising the bar -- for those at the bottom, is for people who actually hope they DON'T have to be there one day -- but wouldn't mind a little insurance.

Pay attention to the Kung Fu that Tina Fey served up against Palin. Between Fey and Collin Powell's speech (is there hope for you, Powell?), there is real hope in getting the Jeff Foxworthy crowd on our side -- beyond just kidnapping him and getting him hooked on Skittles so he will do our bidding.
Tina Fey has just destroyed the BushCo ju-jitzu they used when BushCo was America, the troops and Apple Pie. This is the line that finally starts the counter-strike in the culture war;
WILL FORTE (as reporter) - "At a rally in North Carolina this week you said that you like to visit the quote pro-America parts of the country. Are there parts of the country that you consider un-American?
FEY AS GOV. PALIN - Y'know , that was just my lame attempt at a joke. But um, yes - New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware and California (SHE GIVES A THUMBS DOWN). But then also too you have states like Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida which could be real real anti-American or real real pro-American. It's up to them. (SHE winks) And now I'd like to entertain 
everybody with some fancy pageant walkin.'

You see, you are American, as long as you do what we NeoCons want you to do -- and this hot chick might sleep with a patriot -- you hope. There isn't anything more to it than that to be a Bush patriot; sit down, shut up and do what we say.

Jester said...

Well, I believe Dr. Brin asked us to drop this Rob, so I can only liken you to the kid who throws a punch over the teachers shoulder once the fight has been broken up.

Honest men find nothing humilating in appologizing for the harm they cause.

Honest men also don't try to flagrantly re-write history.

The compromise of 1850 allowed the Utah and New Mexico territories to decide the issue for themselves as a matter of Popular soveriegnty while California was admited as a free State.

The Utah Legislature voted to allow Slavery in 1852, while passing legislation that slaves be treated relatively humanely as compared to typical treatment in the South. The Federal Government did not force them to do this.

http://historytogo.utah.gov

/utah_chapters/pioneers_and

_cowboys/slaveryinutah.html

That's from utah.gov . Not one of the nut-job sites obsessed with libelous insane "secret" theories about "what really happens in the temple".

Own the bad, and you'll get a lot more credit for the good. And, God Knows, ordinary Mormons really do plenty of Good in this world.


We're talking about literature that has directly led to both sucides and hate crimes.

We're talking about an extremely conservative religious organization dumping 15 million into trying restrict basic human rights.

There is literally no difference between this, and if they had dumped in millions 59 years ago to try to overturn the Perez decision....and they had mostly the same arguments against that one.

Dr. Brin

I get that you developed some warm fuzzy feelings based on Heinlein...but Heinlein based most of his understanding on pleasant interactions with ordinary mormons (who, for the most part, are among the nicest people you could meet) and Historic Roadside Placard version of the history of the Church.

Mormons were once also big promotors of "I don't hate The Blacks...but really...'race mixing' would hurt us all in the following ways (which, trust me, are totally unrelated to the teachings of my religion against 'race mixing')...." untill external pressure applied to their membership and threats from the IRS led their leadership to a "turn on a dime".

"Don't you think the gay members of your family deserve to have families" has about a 50/50 chance of reducing even a "Yes on 8" mormon sign waving recruit to tears, based on personal observation.

That's the thing, you know, when you've got 50 cousins. Odds are, at least ones gay.

Most of them aren't nasty homophobes, but that can't be said of their leadership, as is proven by what that Leadership has written.

So, what can I say? There are only 200,000 white and black married couples nation wide, and 20,000 same sex couples will be married in California by November the 4th.
I don't think it's right to pull punches out of a desire to be "polite" while those families are under threat by a theocratic alliance making libelous claims about how destroying their marriages will "protect children from Predators". Latter Day Saints, at the direction of a pack of very old men several of whom have a history of making extraordinarily noxious claims about gays, have paid for 40% of those ads.

Rob, though? Well, Rob can't do anything as "humiliating" as admiting wrong doing by his Church...which means Rob has alreay told us he can't admit that the Mullahs attempt to destroy civil rights for tens of thousands is WRONG untill THEY first say it was wrong.

But, hey, Rob reads some Sci-Fi, and Heinlein said some nice stuff about Mormons.

That's got to be more important than our neighbors basic human rights...


Back to you, Rob

In the year 2000, Alabama finally had a referendum on the archiac, overturned, unenforcable anti-misgecination laws still on it's books. Only 59% voted to remove the law.

How do you think Alabama would vote if the ballot questions was "Should the State of Alabama recognize Marriages performed in Mormon Temples"?

Ready for the vote on YOUR civil rights, Rob?

Jester said...

"Secular" rationalization number one to support Proposition 8: The creation of a "right of Marriage" to same sex couple is too unpopular."

Absolutely specious reasoning. This Proposition will be decided by absolutely no more than 10 points either way, and more likely will be within 5 points.

If it was so unpopular, resorting to fear-mongering ads and pumping 30 million dollars into trying to pass it and importing volunteers from around the country would not be needed.

In 1967, 83% of white Americans were opposed to the Loving V Virginia decision. That's why we don't vote on basic human rights.

"Seccular" Rationalization number 2 is worthy of being a closing argument on Lewis Blacks new show "Root of all evil"

Nothing remotely similar has happened in Massachussets. It's been long enough. You would be amazed what people will get used to when they realize it doesn't affect them.

The people so frightened that they think hearing that "two men can love each other and get married" would somehow damage their child have mostly already pulled them out of public school so that they won't be told that people and dinosaurs didn't really live together before the flood.

That ship has sailed. It actually wasn't built by Noah.

"Secular" rationalization number 3: It will eventually infringe on first amendment rights of Churches to practice marriages according to their own definitions.

Completely false. I can take you to a Church in El Cajon, CA, still preaching against "race mixing" which would never perform an interracial marriage.

Divorced persons have a right to a civil marriage, but no one is forcing the Catholic Church to marry them.

No one is forcing Orthodox Jewish Synagagues to marry uncircumsized goyim.

This one is right in the "idiotic fearmongering" waste-bin.

"Even so, we find the activities of the Catholic Church constrained in Massachusetts precisely for that reason. "

Roughly as accurate as the history of slavery in Utah you offered.

An adoption agency forbiden by law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation had been hiding behind discriminating on the basis of marital status.

After gays could marry, they simply "came out"...but still wanted tax payer dollars.

Well, you can't take our money and then apply your own religious test to who benefits.

There's no reason to wait twenty years to see what happens when we change from "Domestic Partnership" to "Marriage". That argument is about as sound as saying we should have only overturned anti-miscegination laws in one southern state, and tried it out for a generation.

"Justice delayed is....."

Should we get down to the truth about what will happen if Prop 8 passes?

Have you read the courts opinion in Re: Marriage Cases?

They said the State could give everyone "Marriage" or give everyone "Domestic Partnerships".

Prop 8 doesn't change that. At all.

The Court will, have no doubt, rule that the word "marriage" is stricken from all california laws and statutes and regulations and replaced with the words "Domestic Partnership".

The Federal Government will not recognize "Domestic Partnerships"....same sex or otherwise.

Californians will be truly, utterly, totally, and completely screwed on Federal Taxes and Federal Benefits.

So, yeah, this ill-conceived effort to destroy other peoples rights will hurt us all.

rewinn said...

aric and david brin - The Military Times poll was not a scientific poll of the military; to the contrary, its sampling bias was pretty large because it consisted solely of subscribers to that magazine, and wasn't even a scientific poll of that population.

For an account of the only scientific poll that I know of (...admittedly, I'm not an expert...) of the political leanings of our military personnel, please see Jason Dempsey's recent article in the New Republic.

It may cheer you up!

rewinn said...

About anger, stridency, the effect of gamma rays on champions of human rights (... you wouldn't like me when I'm angry...)

The issue may not be whether to shout or to whisper, but how to frame the thing we are arguing about (loudly or softly) in a way that no-one will feel happy arguing against us.

Logic and facts are the least important parts of persuading the human animal. As George Lakoff lays out in The Political Mind our beliefs about the way we think ( that we make decisions based on rational, dispassionate calculation of marginal utility ) is utter bosh. For one of many of examples: given a split-second to choose between a 90% chance to live or a 10% chance of dying, nearly everyone will pick the 90% of living rather than say, hey, they're the same thing.

The bumpkin facists (or whatever you may call them) are Strong-Daddy authoritarians; they instinctively oppose liberalistical thinking because it questions the hierarchical order, in which Daddy rules Mommy, both rule the children, and Jesus or Marx or Darwin reward the most virtuous or hardest working. That this leads them to make political choices that hurt themselves and their families is completely irrelevant. Their leaders may rip them off, destroy their towns and poison their children, but by golly! they are adhering to the Natural Order of things!

Naturally, the aristocratic class exploits this tendency to the max. And I can't magically expect people who think that way to change by mere logical argument.

Lakoff's recipe for action offers hope: offer alternative frames, non-authoritarian ways of thinking about the problems that matter, thus gradually getting people used to non-authoritarian conduct.

We often do this without knowing it. It's the heart of every potluck supper, neighborhood watch or other volunteer community organizing event. When you establish yourself as the person to trust on an issue, you can offer any advice you want ... and the irrational will invent a rationale for going your way.

Is this manipulative? yes. But it's also respectful of the way people think.

It's also delightfully subversive. Any act of community is an inherently liberal act; draw the bumpkin fascists into your community and they will act liberal, while denying the label.

Cliff said...

rob said:
Secular reason number 3: It will eventually infringe on first amendment rights of Churches to practice marriages according to their own definitions.

In that scenario, the State gets lawsuits filed against Churches, such as the Catholic or Mormon churches, the moment that a Priest or Bishop kindly refuses to solemnize a gay marriage. If a State Supreme Court elevates the right of gays to marry as they've defined it above the right of a Bishop or Priest to marry only those who qualify under their religious requirements, then there will be a national Supreme Court case.

I'm not having it.
I'm not buying it for a second.
Not while we allow flat-earthers to home school their kids, while we allow Christian Scientists to deny themselves and their families medical care because they want to follow God's will. Not while we allow the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints to practice polygamy and institutionalized child abuse.
If, due to freedom of religion, we allow people to harm themselves and (to a far more arguable extent) others, then nobody will be infringing on the right for a religion to refuse to sanctify gay marriage.

I'm not having it, not unless you provide evidence of similar lawsuits being pursued.

If you want to get a gay marriage, don't try to get married at a Catholic church or a Mormon church. It's that simple. Anyone and everyone can figure it out.

Secular reason number 2 to support Proposition 8: It will foment new levels of "Culture War", ultimately bifurcating California.

I'm not having this, either. To me that sounds like letting the loonies hold us hostage.
It's easy for me to go from this issue to a statement like: "We can't start addressing global warming, because it will ratchet up the Culture War and bifurcate our society!"

It has to be addressed. It has to be faced and defeated. We can't let Armageddon-worshippers keep us from greening the economy. By the same token, we must have, as a logical extension of our founding principals, equal rights for all.

Rob said...

A trick of posting lag can explain why it appears that I continued after David told you to stop.

I am, however, becoming offended at allegations of dishonesty, and will not truck with you further on that basis alone.

I will not discuss Utah history further here, even if it does appear, superficially, to place me on the losing side of an argument.

Unless someone else offers a, "pray, continue?" I can counter Jester's ire with more apologetics, but there has to be interest. I find that too few people actually share my interest in history.

Rob said...

Counterarguments, so far, to my offerings, which are not openly emotional or fallacious:

Secular reason number 1 (it is too unpopular):

"It is specious reasoning".

This counter argument, as a comparison of a result to a prediction, is itself not well constructed.

It is provably true that Prop 22 passed with about a 20 point margin. Oregon's equivalent, 14 points. Michigan, I think 13 points.

Those are three of the most progressive states in the Union.

These are not margins which can be completely explained by a well-funded ground game.

A narrower margin of victory either way might connote something about ground games or funding disparities. It also might connote a difference in willingness to ensconce something like that in a constitution, or a change in demographics or public attitude.

But I dunno. I suppose we'll find out after the election. And whether or not you support or oppose Prop 8, I have no vote in it, since I don't live in California. But if you do, then go and vote.

(For what it's worth, I have not sent money from out of state to either side, and am relatively sure that my Church has not used donations I've given for the purpose, since I've earmarked them otherwise. But I would support the Church's right to speak out on the issue; there are hundreds of thousands of Mormons in CA)

I've offered one way in which this implicit right is not the same as explicit racial equality rights. I got back a restatement that it is so the same.

I am genuinely curious for an actual refutation which does not have crossed premises.

Reason #2 (foments culture war):

"It's been long enough." This is premise-based. I disagree (at least for the sake of this argument) on a different basis.

"It sounds like the loonies holding us hostage." This is fallacious (begs the question, by alleging we can't respect loonies because they're loonies, without examining whether they're loonies), and not-so-vaguely insulting (appeals to emotion) and as such is not really a counterargument.

And again, a statement of "equal rights for all" does not satisfy the problem of crossed premises. (That is to say, defining "what marriage is".)

Conflating an issue with clear scientific basis with one which is more emotional is also unpersuasive. A call to arms ("it has to be faced and defeated.") is likewise unpersuasive.

If you oppose Prop 8, please remember that the people who support it probably don't define "marriage" the way you do!

Secular reason #3 (may conflict with second amendment rights):

Cliff's counterargument is partially persuasive here. I can't produce lawsuits, since none have been filed that I know of. The argument is simple slippery-slope, but it is based in part on a past willingness of the Court to infringe upon Mormon polygamy.

Some of it is not persuasive; the FLDS are not legally permitted to institutionally abuse children, or there would not have been a compound raid. Flat-earthers can homeschool, but their numbers are a vanishingly small minority, unlike Prop 8 supporters. And Christian Scientists are indeed permitted to refuse medical treatment, but then again so is anyone else.

O wait, that's all of it, except for "prove the harm", which I cannot. Well, except for the expulsion of the Boy Scouts from all the public spaces in San Diego...

I'm grateful for Jester's point that in re Marriage decision offered the State the option of solemnizing only civil unions. Of course, if that were enacted, the case for Prop 8 would be legally completely moot.

I only have religious bases for opposing legal civil unions (and my church has been particularly silent about that matter as a legal issue), which are not enough for this particular Commons.

As to whether lawsuits will actually be filed and won against stubborn Bishops and Priests (and here's a hint: the Bishops lose their Church membership altogether if they relent), well, all I can say is that California is big, and that if such a lawsuit does not come within four or five years of the failure of Prop 8, I will be surprised.

I hope this has helped a bit with refining arguments.

Jester said...

Great, let's leave all that alone and discuss the effects you've alleged the failure of Prop 8 would have, and the almost certain outcome of the first challenge to it before the California Supreme Court.

I ask again, have you read RE: Marriage Cases?

------------
This whole thing spiraled because, frankly, I'm ticked off - but my opinion of Packer and Oaks isn't a spur of the momment thing. It was something I didn't talk about much until my State was invaded by Utah.

But, you know, I also know that those jerks aren't representative of most of the membership of the Church. So, I sincerely hope no one takes anything I've said as incitement to do anything other than converse with Mormons about these problems.

Marginalization and isolation don't bring about openess or tolerance. Still, I'm beating drums of war right now. 77% of "Yes on 8" funding has come from one Church, and 85% of that has been from out of State.

It's got nothing to do with what Dr. Brin would term "Lapsed Catholic Syndrome" - untill the last two weeks, my standard answer to any question about Mormons would have been "Mostly a bunch of nice people, some of their leaders are real jerks, and they're a little clanish and insular."

I can't count the number of times I've argued with idiots claiming mormons aren't christians, or...well...crap that you're probably familiar with and I don't think should be dignified with repetition.

Think about the feelings you've had in the course of this conversation, Rob, and think about the feelings of 20,000 couples and their friends and parents and children and siblings when they see the ads your church is paying for.

I believe what I say, and I say it as the result of a rather long process of investigation. I'll stop being an ass and grant that the same is true for you, Rob. I agree I got way too personal with you and you didn't deserve it.

I'm not putting anything I'm saying to you in ads appearing during Saturday Morning Cartoons for your seven year old niece to see.

Your church is hurting people, Rob. It's hurting families. It's causing seven year old girls to burst into tears terified that someone is going to make her Dads split up.

Two weeks after she was their flower girl.

Got it?

It's not ok. And I'm angry as hell.

For all that, when I made my initial post, I was pretty much just interested in talking about the issues adressed in the Proposition and things like whether or not we ought to limit donations to Initiative campaigns in California, and whether or not Civil Rights should be subject to a 50% majority vote, because Dr. Brin is a fellow Californian and so has a vested interest in the subject.

I really wasn't trying to flamebait a random LDS contributor so much as venting a little bit. I still don't think it's any worse than terms like "Radical Leftists" or "The High Priests of the NeoCon cabal".

Maybe I don't grok the depth of anti-muslim sentiment in some quarters either.

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jester said...

Rob, in 2000, 2.7 million Republicans and 2.3 million Democrats voted in the Presidential Primary on which Prop. 22 was riding. I think you probably understand that doesn't represent the Calfornia Electorate.

It was the lowest youth turnout for a Presidential Primary (and, back when we had our notoriously late Primary, turnout was always low) since 18 year olds got the vote.

The State hasn't really changed that massively in eight years, it's just that the turnout is expected to be a heck of a lot different.

In California, we know the difference between Legislative and Constitutional initiatives. The prop 22 campaign - and I'm talking political strategists here not trying to insult supporters - made a strategic decision to make sure resistance was low.

I'm not crying "not fair", or anything, just pointing out that for more than a few reasons it wasn't in any way indicative of this years outcome, and that everyone involved in 2000 knew it was by no means the end of the issue.

It was, honestly, a glorified opinion poll.

Robert said...

And once again, I would like to point out that if we were to replace "marriage" with "civil union" across the entire country, for everyone, and relegate "marriage" to religious institutions (and thus having no legal protections or the like), then the teeth of the argument are yanked.

In essence, neither side gets to have their cake, and neither side gets to eat it. However, they can partake of this plate of brownies. ^^

As I have stated before, marriage is a religious institution, and thus has no constitutional validity (if I'm remembering my U.S. Constitution correctly; I may be incorrect in that it's mentioned in certain parts, such as in the Amendments). If we use "civil union" for everyone, then gays and lesbians can be in a legal union and can benefit from the rights and benefits that married people currently have.

(BTW, I can think of one specious argument among the religious groups that are anti-gay marriage. They speak of the immorality of gays and lesbians and of their having multiple partners and all of that... but you know something? If they get married then they'll be with a single partner. So in short, by allowing them to marry you're helping them settle down and not be promiscuous.)

I'm going to garble a quote here, I probably heard it from Heinlein, but "the purpose of Democracy is to protect the Minorities from the Majority." Thus, legally, gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry... and the federal government should do what it can to assist in this, much as it protected desegregation despite the will of the majority.

(BTW, Dr. Brin... I'm going to have to burst one of your sacred cows here. Heinlein? He's not the cat's meow when it comes to envisioning the future. In fact, some of his later works are downright inferior. And yes, we might look at the story of Scudder as a cautionary tale, but it's not bloody prophetic, and in 2012 we're not going to have a Scudder elected and strip away all of our rights. It's just a book.)

(I can't believe I just said that. To another author. ^^)

Robert A. Howard, of one of the Howard Families. :P

P.S. - If I ever got my Wolf PACT novels beyond the planning phase, I was thinking of homaging Heinlein with a government breeding program to create psychics by forcing couples with psychic potential to mate. Naturally enough, it was going to be called "Project Heinlein." He'd probably be amused by a Howard doing this. ;) Rob H.

Matt DeBlass said...

Thanks Dr. Brin, concise and well-written is what we aim for ;-)

What I didn't mention, by the way, is that my job is FUN. I get to know a big slice of the local community, from business owners to politicos to aspiring contestants for both the Olympics and American Idol.


I read the bit by Orson Scott Card and wasn't impressed. Although I have to agree with him when he says "I think marriage is a bad idea..." oh, no wait... he said "I think GAY marriage is a bad idea," never mind.

This is one of those topics that is ultimately pure culture war. "Gay marriage is a threat to the institution of marriage" sez the critic, but ask them how it threatens his or her marriage and what kind of specific will they give you? Is it "polluting" the institution of marriage by allowing "others" into it (like allowing black people into a country club)?

Who cares? It's not so much about any danger to marriage as it is about the idea that this somehow legitimizes gay sex. And, from a rational point of view, again, who cares? For a long time in Western culture people who are drawn to the same sex (and I'm of the opinion that this is a hardware thing, not a software thing, you can't talk them out of being gay) have been forced to hide, suppress themselves and be miserable. Why? There's not good reason for it. The fact that my buddy Carl like boys has zero impact on the fact that I like girls. "We've never accepted open homosexuality," sez the critic, well, we used to treat fevers by sticking on leeches. It's time to grow up and get over it. If God didn't like gay people, he wouldn't'a made so damn many of 'em.

Besides, in these overpopulated times, there's a certain pragmatic value to same-sex couples, especially if they adopt kids who would otherwise have nowhere to go.

And on a more abstractly interesting ground, Olivia Judson, who generally makes me feel especially heterosexual (geek-crush anyone?), wonders about how obesity in the mother might affect the political bent of the kid in her NY Times column this week: http://judson.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/weighing-the-vote/?8dpc
(which builds on some of William Shatner's comments, I think, she doesn't get too detailed, but it's something to think about).

Rob said...

Oh, Heinlein was an unrepentant gadfly, when it came to marriage. His books depict every sort of arrangement with sublime equanimity.

You're right, of course: Separate the Church from the State, and let the Church have the word "Marriage" for its traditions, and the problem basically evaporates, legally speaking.

Socially, though, there would still be work to do.

By the way, I never offered that my "secular reasons" were actually persuasive.

NoOne said...

On Fresh Air with Terry Gross on Tuesday, Oct. 21, Paul Krugman (about 26 minutes in) explicitly cites the purge of the Treasury of good civil service employees as the reason why Paulson is having such a hard time. He states that (and I'm paraphrasing here), that "while people think of the govt. as made up of useless bureaucrats, there is actually a need for good ones in the Treasury at the moment". He is also explicit about the fact that this is not the Treasury dept. of 30 years ago in terms of the civil servant makeup.

tacitus2 said...

I have not been in for a few days. Busy, plus the discussions have been either out of my interest range or, frankly, tedious.

Mormon cosmology? Well, at variance from the legions of strawmen conjured up here, real conservatives regard your religious beliefs, or lack thereof should that be so, to be your business. Oh, I guess we would have to say no to human sacrifice by Cthulu cultists, but otherwise, your business.

Abortion? Essentially an unanswerable question. I do have respect for the ardent prolifers, indeed, if they believe that there is no difference between a fetus being aborted in a clinic and a child being murdered on a public street I can see how they would feel a moral impertative to act in all areas short of committing crimes themselves. But I am going to leave this and many other matters to a Final Accounting at the end of our days, and anybody who can say with assurance that they understand the Grading Curve is both wrong and blasphemous, imho.

It might be fun to goad some of the less temperate posters here....I bet I could get a few to ante up for post election Show Trials, and maybe one or two for re-education camps! But provoking the impassioned to say stupid things is really just more Strawmanship, and contributes naught to real understanding.

I will wander back in a while.

In the meantime, a thought. Moral certainty is not just a two edged sword, it is a sword with no cross guard. Wield it with gusto and you will almost certainly lacerate yourself.

How much of the admitted nonsense of the past 8 years would have been mitigated had Pachydermis Triumphant retained the ability to say "hey, wait a minute, that does not look right" about their own leaders and ideas.

Just a Contrary Thought.

Tacitus2

rewinn said...

"...the State gets lawsuits filed against Churches... the moment that a Priest or Bishop kindly refuses to solemnize a gay marriage..."

Nonsense.

First Amendment means the State can not force any religious ceremony on anyone.

For example, the Roman Catholic Church has refused to solemnize Protestant marriages since for-ever, and you won't find any successful lawsuit to force it. Of course, you can always file papers in any court to compel anyone to do anything; you will be laughed out of court and left hoping the judge doesn't assess costs. The Supreme Court has better things to do than revisit matters decided around 1818.

(It's largely a Catholic Court now-a-days anyway. A-hem!)

learner said...

James you said,
"Remember the story of the little old lady with a hammer, steadily chipping away at a vast boulder, until it all turns to dust."

I understand. You are describing "chunking down" to get to the actual objection and I agree with that for one on one discussions. I also agree that hatred is usually a form of fear. However "hatred" is also usually anchored at a very deep level of one's belief system and it is difficult to replace the anchor without repetitious change statements that the owner hears. Very difficult to accomplish if they only listen to FOX:-)

Which is my question. How do we do this on a macro level not on a one to one level. Or is the only way, one person at a time.

One of the reasons I have supported Obama is that he is very good at delivering these change statements and as President even Fox viewers will hear him frequently.

Rob said...

Regarding Fox News...

There are only 90 minutes of "hard news" left on that channel, in any 24 hour day. ("The Fox Report", which the last time I watched played it very straight, and the first half or so of Brit Hume's show)

Its commentators have become so much more partisan since 2003 that it doesn't resemble, any longer, the "fair and balanced" approach they seemed to take eight years ago, when my family started watching.

Beyond that people should really start noticing that their focus is not really "conservative viewpoints" any longer. More accurately, they earn the name "faux news" with an editorial position of hyper-sensationalism. They were just as eager to excoriate Rush Limbaugh for drug addict behavior as they were to malign Michelle Obama for fist-bumping her husband.

Of course, the stakes are different in each of those examples. My point is that Fox is better seen through the lens of sensationalism than conservatism. They use the latter with a kind of cynical manipulation to get ratings, in my opinion.

Either way, not news. And all that whooshing and crashing gets on my nerves.

"Oh, I guess we would have to say no to human sacrifice by Cthulu cultists, but otherwise, your business."

Walk into a Christian bookstore sometime, and peruse the "cults" section. It will refute your position, which if true would find that section empty.

tacitus2 said...

Rob
I am giving you my views. Others are welcome to theirs. And you to yours.
I don't feel particularly refuted.
Tacitus2

Cliff said...

This is fallacious (begs the question, by alleging we can't respect loonies because they're loonies, without examining whether they're loonies), and not-so-vaguely insulting (appeals to emotion) and as such is not really a counterargument.

Let me explain the context of my argument (which was subjective, as I pointed out):
Eight years of having the right wage culture war against the left, ranging from Christmas through gay marriage to global warming.
So the argument that we shouldn't do anything to piss the culture warriors off, even if it's the right thing, doesn't carry any water with me.
"The loonies" was a little bit of hyperbole I threw in for flair, and to criticize it as an objective argument is disingenuous.

Some of it is not persuasive; the FLDS are not legally permitted to institutionally abuse children, or there would not have been a compound raid. Flat-earthers can homeschool, but their numbers are a vanishingly small minority, unlike Prop 8 supporters. And Christian Scientists are indeed permitted to refuse medical treatment, but then again so is anyone else.

First: the FLDS compound was raided this year, in Texas. Their kids were taken from them, and evidence of child abuse was found (IIRC). But because the raid was provoked by a fraudulent call, the kids had to be returned.
So they're not legally allowed to abuse children, but they are allowed.

Second: the population size doesn't matter for my point. The point is that there is a precedent of allowing people to act in a harmful or extreme manner because of their religious beliefs.
Because this precedent has been set, no one is going to go after the Mormons or the Catholics or the Jews or the Orthodoxers for engaging in practices that are consistent with their beliefs and harm no one.

Robert said...

So.

Two weeks. And Obama is doing well enough in the polls that he feels able to take time off to visit a very-ill grandmother in Hawaii for a couple of days. Indeed, some commentators even believe this break for family may humanize him to conservatives who fear him and think him a monster who will destroy their way of life.

(Brief aside, my prayers are out to her and the Obama family, if they'd accept the prayers of this non-Christian, and I hope that not only does Obama's grandmother survive long enough to see her grandson elected President, but that she makes a full recovery.)

The interesting thing is that the Obama campaign is not taking their lead lightly. They are treating this as if they were still behind, and that they can still lose this election at any moment.

(Another side note - I've heard rumors that Al Qaeda said on their website that they want McCain to be elected as this would guarantee the U.S. remain in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and thus allow them to expand on their own efforts. How accurate this news article is remains to be seen.)

Also heartening is the number of races which are looking tighter and tighter to eliminate a lot of Republicans. This is heartening because one of the problems that the Clintons faced was a house divided. While I normally wouldn't want either party to have a supermajority... I think that we need this, if only to send a stern message to the Republicans: reject the path of greed and corruption, and return to the roots that were for so long the battlecry of the Republican Party: Smaller Government and Reduced Spending.

Hopefully Obama will do part of this himself. His idea of going through the budget line-by-line to find waste and eliminate it is something that has been needed for a while now. If he follows through with it, and keeps the process transparent... then I suspect we'll see reductions in government spending as outraged voters demand that overspending be trimmed and certain completely unnecessary projects are removed from the tax rolls.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

gmknobl said...

Just a note from "rural" Virginia - Blacksburg, SW VA, Virginia Tech.

Long seen as a lone liberal holdout, presumably because of THE University (my emphasis ;) being there, Blacksburg is awash in Obama and Democratic signs. We are even more visited this time around by Democratic representatives than at any time in the last two elections. That's saying something since in both 2000 and 2008 this area displayed more Dem signs than Rep. But in 2000 there were a lot of spoiler Nader signs. In 2004 there was only one that I saw. Now there aren't any. There is one lone Libertarian holdout but that person I know would have voted Rep rather than Dem last time (he told me). Now, most of the Libertarians I know will vote Obama, disgusted at the results of their own "let the government rot" philosophy (again, they tell me so) rather than vote for Bob Barr.

And in the surrounding countryside, you still see more McCain signs than Obama, but not by much. In short, here in rural Virginia, people are finally changing their minds and not voting along strict party lines.

HOWEVER, I predicted this much earlier since McCain was widely hated by many hard-line Reps just as much as Hillary. My default position was that Hillary would be the worst person from the Dem side to win in terms of who would likely vote for her from the Reps while McCain would be the worst from the Rep side for the same reason. This has held true, likely due to what was done to McCain back before 2000 and several times since then on silly AM talk and Faux news.

Obama, for me, not the person I'd vote for - but neither was Kerry - is still heads above McCain. McCain could have kept to a more moderate Rep viewpoint, one that he had kept publicly for years, despite his excoriation by neo-cons, and would have taken many Dem votes (my mother's among them) had he not switched to the screed he's choosen, this despite having people like Gramm on his team.

The best sign that Virginia was changing was the first run of Mark Warner for senate. He didn't win but considerable interest was shown for the Internet Magnate from NoVa. He lost to the other Warner, John.

But then a few years later, Mark ran for governor versus Football son, George Allen, Jr. Mr. Allen was unpopular with everyone except the prejudiced and neo-cons (being one himself). He did horrible things to the VA bureaucracy, changing scientist's statements in the Department of Environmental Quality, cutting extension (farmer's don't need help, ever) and education funds and generally being a dictatorial jerk, all while keeping a noose and rebel flag in his office as representative of "VA's past."

Warner won this election in large as a rejection of the Allen years. But Allen won a senate seat! Later, his senate seat was lost too as a reaction to his years supporting Bush in the senate AND because of his continued obvious prejudices.

Since Republicans lost the governor's seat they have been in a long, erratic slide downward in popularity here in Commonwealth. Sure there have been bumps where Reps still continue to rule (Virgil Goode - at one time a Democrat but always filled with suspect money and self-serving actions).

The opposition to Reps is now quite high, at least for this state historically. It remains to be seen if Anti-Clinton tactics, sure to raise their ugly head against Obama in his chance as President, will be successful or not. I'd like to think the opposition to neo-cons (which I use interchangeably with Reps 'cause it's almost always true for our VA reps) will remain when the constant attacks occur. I hope it does and I hope Obama continues to use reason to win against illogic once in office.

Lastly, I pray to God that the assassination attempt(s) against him fail.

David Brin said...

Jester, I can read the nuance in your views, that you try to put there. Nevertheless, your tone is very angry and borders on provocative. I am hereby asking you to set aside drafts of your religion missives for at least six hours and rewrite them calmly before submission. That’s actually quite a mild request. Please, treat Rob as a fellow blogizen.

Re Gay Marriage, it’s just about the only reason many Californians will vote, this year. Indeed, that is the whole purpose of Proposition 8 – to drag demoralized Republicans off their couches and into the polling booths, where the REAL agenda of the GOP revolves around Prop 11 – to end gerrymandering in California.

For you Californians, do please vote no on both of those. True, I have inveighed against gerrymandering more strongly than anyone! http://www.davidbrin.com/gerrymandering1.html
But I have also made clear that those fighting against it one state at a time are nearly always partisan jerks and hypocrites. There is no reason for California democrats to drop their pants first. We need a nationwide or multi-state solution.

Likewise, my opposition to Prop 8 is quirky and nuanced. Frankly, I understand the pain of my conservative neighbors. This whole fight was never necessary. All that our gay friends needed was a little imagination and compassion. Make up a new word – say “Garriage” instead of marriage – and insist on it getting all the same rights and privileges and status as marriage. Functionally, the left wins, but allows old farts and trogs to keep their nostalgia-word. Big deal! Garry - or Gay-ry - the one you love. Embrace it, own it, like you did gay and queer. Imagination is supposed to be your strong suit! We did not need a useless and pointless and easily avoidable socially dividing battle over a word that only brings Goppers to the polls and hurts other issues.

Still, the ones pushing Prop 8 are the real villains. And I have to oppose them. Because they are – down the line – the same assholes who have torched my country. Given a choice between intolerant-inflexible troglodytes and somewhat flawed and unimaginative tolerance-fetishists… well… the choice is clear.

Yes, I will be surprised if Al Qaeda doesn’t issue a missive tuned to help McCain.

You folks have GOT to have a look at a new book: Generation We: How Millennial Youth are Taking Over America And Changing Our World Forever
By Eric Greenberg and Karl Weber. It makes the point that we may be emerging, at last, from the shadow of the Boomers, who may be best known for one accomplishment – raising a super next generation.
http://www.amazon.com/Generation-We-Millennial-America-Changing/dp/0982093101/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224561153&sr=8-1

Robert said...

And once again, Dr. Brin, I have to suggest: eliminating marriage as a legally-binding mechanism in the government, and replace it with a blanket Civil Union policy. Gays want marriage and rightfully see "civil unions" as "separate but equal" while anti-gay advocates see homosexuality as a great evil that will be stamped out, with their bootsteps being the feet stamping it out.

So eliminate the reason for strife. Gays will get civil unions... but will not be separate because non-gays will ALSO be required to have civil unions in order to gain the same protections. Let marriage be the venue of churches, and separate from the government.

Rob H.

Sociotard said...

Regarding eliminating marriage as a legal institution in favor of "civil unions":

I agree that this might result in more equality for homosexual and heterosexual couples. However, this idea really annoys the athiest couples I've met. They want to be married, and they don't want to have to involve a church to do it.

Citizen James said...

Rob,

For some reason I feel like responding to your secular reasons by turning them on their side and seeing if they still fit for you.

Let's take a hypothetical example and say that a red state with a lot of fundamentalist Christians (say, perhaps, Kentucky)decides to hold a referendum on whether on not Marriage is really defined as being a union between two Christians. Being a fundamentalist created measure, Mormons and Catholics are not viewed as Christian in the eyes of this new initiative.

Reason #1 to support the measure:
Allowing non-fundamentalist groups to marry is too unpopular. In a place like Kentucky you might actually find a majority holding such a position. Heck, you might even be able to find a sizable proportion still opposed to school desegregation (another law forced on the states by the courts, which was extremely unpopular in some regions at the time).

Do you really believe in pure majority rule, or are individuals entitled to certain inalienable rights under the law.

Reason #2:
People would get angry if it didn't pass. People will get angry if/when Obama wins too (or if McCain won). In any matter of controversy, it is likely that some people are going to be displeased with the result.

The idea of ending slavery ignited a huge culture war - and a very bloody real one. And yet it was the right thing to do.

Desegregation ignited another one, once again, the right thing to do. If we capitulated to fearmongers no progress would ever occur. Heck, there was even heated opposition to the polio vaccine and water fluoridation.

Reason #3
If this wasn't enshrined into law, fundamentalist churches might be forced to marry non-fundies. This makes about as little sense as your argument - though if someone really wanted to a Catholic could sue the Southern Baptists to try and marry in their church - they just wouldn't get anywhere.

I suppose in a way, gay is the new black. In some ways there is an eerie echo of the anti-miscegenation laws of years past in this current batch of controversies.

Cliff said...

Make up a new word – say “Garriage” instead of marriage – and insist on it getting all the same rights and privileges and status as marriage.

South Park is way ahead of you. Only it suggests the term "Butt Buddies."

David said...

1. I'm not sure asking those who have homosexual marriages to put a big "G" (for 'garried') on their driver's license (and all other official documentation) really solves the problem. When I'm pulled over by a cop, I'm not sure he needs to know whether I'm gay or not. Nor does my employer.

2. There is such a thing as tyranny of the majority and the founding fathers designed our political system with this in mind. So while some complain about activist judges, it seems that the system is working as designed.

3. I've yet to hear any compelling arguments that homosexual spouses should be denied the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as heterosexual spouses. For the most part, what I hear is homosexuals shouldn't get married because of opposition to what homosexuals do when they consummate the marriage.

-David Smelser

Rob said...

David,

Jester has softened his tone, and I am willing to continue any dialogue.

I could not agree with you less on the categorization of trogs vs. angry tolerance-fetishists.

*Many* match your pattern, but it is not enough of an overlap for your generalization to be fair.

Even so, if you feel like voting "no", I say go and vote "no."

But I know many of these people, and have met some of the Mormon leaders behind the push. They are not the screaming bigots/mullahs that have been alleged.

Their reasons are not secular, unless one wishes to accept as secular the premise that the basic building block of any successful civilization is the 6000 year old pattern of married heterosexuals raising their biological children, with exceptions.

Without stipulating that, you might as well be screaming past one another.

Frankly, the entire fight sickens me. Either way it goes, it foments culture war. Either way, a double-digit minority feels maligned. Respect diminishes and the commons is poisoned by fear and reduced trust.

And my prediction is that Prop 8 will pass, creating even more mayhem and dismay, and setting back the cause of its opponents by more decades than if they had taken Brin's compromise and proven their claim that there is no difference over the years that it will take for the Baby Boomers' influence to wane.

Washington State found a much more peaceful political compromise when its Supreme Court found for a different balance.

@Citizen James

Each of my secular reasons are relatively weak cases, centered around a concern that the gay marriage fight continues a poisoning of the political commons that began a few years before I was even born.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91486191

The dismissal of a potential loss of marriage solemnization authority for unwilling religious leaders is not discussed in that link. But, it is down the same trajectory.

ToddR said...

Sorry, but I guess I just don't get it.

If homosexuals are allowed to "get fully married" or whatever your preferred locution, would it mean that fewer heterosexuals will marry each other than otherwise? I don't see how or why.

Would it mean that heterosexual married couples would take their marriage vows less seriously? Again I don't see how or why.

So why would homosexual marriage threaten/erode/whatever-the-word-is the putative foundation of civilization?

Marriage between heterosexuals is already a human social construct. If we decide it's OK to generalize the term term to also include denoting the same sort of formalization of a relationship between homosexuals, what's the damage?

I don't see any.

David Brin said...

David raises a good point. Clearly LEGALLY (and on driver's licenses) it would remain simply "M".

Still, this is the kind of imaginative olive branch that gays really should have been smart and agile enough to come up with.

Rob said...

The best explanation I can think of for why people don't get it, and can't see the harm, is that they don't accept the premise that the traditional human family is fundamental to civilization.

And... wait just a minute... your driver's license displays your marital status?

Why would the DMV care about that? I've had licenses in Washington, Utah, Ohio, Kentucky, and Switzerland. At no point does it disclose my marital status, not on any driver's license, or on my passports, or Swiss worker permits.

At no point does anyone care. Is it really that different, in CA?

David Brin said...

Rob, the nuclear family IS vital. But Prop 8 does not defend it.

It is children who matter. Childless hetero spouses... how are THEY specially privileged?

Oh, a society that leaves children uninsured. Americans may be more frontier individualist... but kids deserve the same medical care that Canadian kids get

David Smelser said...

@Rob, you are correct CA driver's licenses do not require marital status. But the concept is the same, I'm not sure every situation that asks my marital status needs to know whether or not I am homosexual or not.

Lets stipulate secular reasons are what matter. (Since I don't think you are suggesting that laws should be passed for purely religious reasons).

Are you suggesting that raising biological children should be the litmus test for marriage?

If so, would you exclude me and my wife who do not have children, do not plan to have children?

If so, would you exclude my aunt who is unable to have children?

If so, would you exclude my 82 year old grandfather from remarrying because at that age he has no intention of starting another family?

As a married couple, Kris and I have shared rights (inheritance, power of attorney, medical power attorney) and responsibilities (assumption of debt, taxes, etc.).

Are you going to take these from us because we don't have/plan to have children and that we enjoy sexual acts as recreation (I won't spell them out)?

Should it make a difference if Kris is male, or not?

atomicsmith said...

@ Rob et al.

Thanks for replying. I hope you didn't infer that I was assuming your arguments would be like Cards; he is infamous for decades of wacky arguments, from the "Gays and Straights already have equal rights, the right to marry a woman!" to gibberish about infringing on "women's reproductive rights" (I guess he's ok with Lesbian marriage then? Maybe he'd let Gays marry if they got a vasectomy...).


Curiously, he's not recycling these arguments, but the new ones are not even internally consistent. He first appeals to the false distinction between some supposed "natural" interpretation of the constitution and an interpretation made by judges. This is barely masked code for what he really means, that he interprets the constitution differently from the professionals. The funniest part his slavish devotion to the constitution's "literal meaning," except the part where judges interpret it!

The "full faith and credit" argument is more nuanced, but I argue it is irrelevant to Proposition 8. Firstly, the onus of resolving this inter-state issue is *not* California's. California has an obligation to its citizens, not to ensuring its laws are in harmony with other states', which is of course, the function of the federal government. Secondly, this argument seems inherently unethical: it is not conditioned on whether or not denying same-sex marriages is an inequity, and therefore argues that even if same-sex marriages are just, we should compromise our ethics and deny that right in order to prevent inter-state squabbles.

---------------

Now for your reasons:


***"Secular reason number one to support Proposition 8: The creation of a "right of Marriage" to same sex couple is too unpopular."

Are you really saying "Don't support equal marriage-rights because not enough other people will?" This doesn't seem like an argument at all. And, as others have brought up, our constitutional/republican democracy is quite explicitly intended as a protection of minorities, not as a tool of dominance for the majority.

* Tangent on reason 1: "I reject that reasoning on the bases that racial equality is not the same as marriage equality...Racial civil rights were about eliminating exceptions to a long-stipulated definition of "all men" being created "equally", and to decades of dishonest and inequitable provisioning of public services. Marriage rights, as proposed by gay marriage advocates, are about changing the basic and historical definition of a concept not yet accepted by enough of the polity."

Fine, you reject it. You have not, however, made the connection between the two classes of rights being different to why one should be supported despite unpopularity, and the other should not: A right is a right, is it not?

Your reference to a supposedly uniform historical definition of marriage has several problems. First the definition of marriage has greatly changed over history, from property inheritance procedures arranged before/near birth, the many examples of same-sex unions, polygyny/andry, to the loving binary unions we think of today. There is no historical argument; this argument is either made by those ignorant of history, or those who really mean to refer to contemporary consensus, but call it historical tradition.

Second, even if there were a monolithic, ancient tradition of heterosexual, binary, love-based unions, the argument is a mere appeal to a tradition, a tradition of inequity. "Because this group has for eternity been discriminated against, they should continue being discriminated against." Obviously this leads to dangerous places, like Shirley Jackson stories.


***"Secular reason number 2 to support Proposition 8: It will foment new levels of "Culture War", ultimately bifurcating California. Based on that premise, it is reasonable to assume that people who find that their children are being taught a different definition of marriage in schools, even at a young age ..., they will opt out of the schools. If they cannot opt out of the schools, they will leave California if possible."

First off, I have very little sympathy for parents who get cranky when teachers teach their children the truth, whether it be that some people turn out gay, that California is one of the first states to let them marry, or that selective pressures created the species over billions of years.

Second, Prop 8 contains absolutely no references to the California Education Code, which will remain unchanged. This is the current theme of attack ads on TV (probably coincidence, since you don't live in CA). It has been thoroughly debunked, even by LDS legal scholars (google news "proposition 8 school").

"There is nothing in the state education code that requires schools to teach anything about marriage. Even the decision about whether to offer comprehensive sex education is left up to individual school districts. What state law does require is that districts that offer sex education "teach respect for marriage and committed relationships." (link) If that's too much for parents to handle, I would say good riddance, but it's upsetting to think of the inherited dogma their children will have to struggle to overcome.


***Secular reason number 3: It will eventually infringe on first amendment rights of Churches to practice marriages according to their own definitions.

Refuted by others; churches already have had for centuries extra-legal restrictions on marriage that have never been successfully challenged, and are supported by the first amendment.

-------------------------------------


"I don't think a 10 or 20 year wait, while affording gay couples all the effective household rights a State can offer, is too long to really discover the consequences of such a fundamental social change."

Well, I guess this sums up our difference in thinking. Ethically, I feel that if there is a fundamental injustice, it must be corrected as soon as possible, and the consequences can be dealt with later; there can be no excuse for a government to oppress.

atomicsmith said...

The best explanation I can think of for why people don't get it, and can't see the harm, that they don't think families or children with gay parents deserve the protection of a legal marriage.

Cliff said...

The best explanation I can think of for why people don't get it, and can't see the harm, is that they don't accept the premise that the traditional human family is fundamental to civilization.

No, it's that I don't accept the premise that homosexual unions threaten traditional families in any conceivable fashion.

Tony Fisk said...

An interesting article on 'October surprises'

(you will recognise terms like 'jiu-jitsu', : who are Jonathan Alter's sources? ;-)

(yep: BinLaden calling Obama a 'good muslim' would do it... except he called Robert Fisk that once, as well, when he accepted Fisk's reasons for rejecting a 'recruitment' offer... the interpretation to take is that it means he is scrupulously honest)

rabble rouser said...

Sickening condescension, Rob. Grow out of irrationality. Omniscience and omnipotence can't co-exist (can't change the infallibly Known); the bible was authored and edited by men, not gods, the current corpus most famously at Nicene (only the Ethiopians were remote enough for the changes to go unenforced; theirs is an archaeologically mind-blowing "director's cut" bible); John Lloyd Stevens categorically disproved, going on 170 years ago, every pre-conquest assertion of Mr. Smith.

Religion deserves no sacred exemption from critique. I bring up these points because you, and others like you, wouldn't need to invent verbose and convoluted "secular" defenses of intolerance were you not ultimately motivated by cherished god-fear and supernatural convictions.

Comfort, warmth, solace, "child-like" awe and wonder are not worth what religion has wrought -- and religion is not the sole means of their invocation.

Give up your addiction to it.

Ironically, the world of Lennon's "Imagine" can only come once imaginary balms are discarded utterly.

Rob said...

OS Card's cases have received no help from me.

I am unpersuaded on the historical refutation; I made a side study of the subject as part of an accredited survey course I finished last year, which a wiki article is not sufficient to refute.

For one, the article equates pederasty with a union. Today, we would call it child abuse.

Contubernia, likewise, carried no equivalence to marriage, other than being tolerated or encouraged, depending on the military commander. Largely, marriage in Roman antiquity was about duty to children.

This is the basic thing Prop 8 proponents like the LDS church wish to preserve: "Marriage" as defined as a faithful hetero, bio-parent child-nurturing institution, with other stepping in at need as exceptions.

You may not be surprised to learn that LDS attitudes towards convenience divorce, and its ideas about the mechanics of filial and marital loyalties are not at all the same as, say, Nevada's.

Thus, the claim "ancient tradition of heterosexual, binary, love-based unions, the argument is a mere appeal to a tradition, a tradition of inequity..."

...is a straw man.

"If that's too much for parents to handle, I would say good riddance, but it's upsetting to think of the inherited dogma their children will have to struggle to overcome."

Is a right a right?

Is the right of parents to bring up their children, teaching them the beliefs they want imparted without governmental or quasi-governmental ideologies at odds getting at them before they have brains developed enough to sort it out, in fact a right?

Or is it subordinate to the implicit right of marriage.

The counterclaim to Prop 8 proponents' fears about the educational slippery slope is supported by actual anecdotes from MA, which don't support the idea that "it could never happen." In fact, it could; the Knight Initiative has been overturned by just such a possible change.

"churches already have had for centuries extra-legal restrictions on marriage that have never been successfully challenged, and are supported by the first amendment."

Not to put too very fine a point on this, but that's what the Mormons thought...

...before an Army was dispatched from Washington on false rumors of treason and sedition surrounding polygamy and a couple of other matters. (Did you think that impulse was a 21st Century Republican phenom?)

...before court cases were filed, lost, appealed, and lost again before a Supreme Court which affirmed the 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act and declared the United States a Christian nation privileged to ban any kind of marriage it didn't like...

So... yeah, shoe's on the other foot these days and all that, but that alone refutes your faith that a first amendment right cannot be claimed, and then trampled based on an ideology foreign to the claim.

rewinn said...

...I don't accept the premise that homosexual unions threaten traditional families in any conceivable fashion.

I don't either.

But others do. Because they aren't defining "threat" in what you or I would consider "a reasonable fashion."

The maddingly complex and contradictory grab-bag that is modern conservativism holds together because it has one consistent vision of society: Strong Daddy, Subservient Mommy, Obedient Children. Why is it o.k. for the government to spy on you without a warrant, beat up prisoners and engage in a drunken orgy of aggressive war? Because the Executive is Strong Daddy; citizens are children who need Daddy's loving oversight, prisoners are disobedient children who need the rod, and people outside the family aren't even human.

Gays break this picture. If a gay couple isn't miserable;much worse, if a happy gay union is civilly recognized, then in the heart or other organs of a Strong Daddy Family, it calls into question the justification for daddy's whupping of his woman and his kids, not to mention their acceptance of the whupping therefrom.

We're not dealing with facts and logic and all that good stuff; it's raw emotion and denial. If logic were all it took to change minds, gay marriage would've been part of our culture ever since the bisexual Spartans saved Greco-Roman culture at Thermopylae.

rabble rouser said...

Rob:

"Faithful hetero" is an arbitrary argument. As is "bio-" --

succor and nurturing do not depend on these.

See prior comment.

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

So, I'm pretty much done with this topic, here, and don't intend to really offer more refutations or cases where they're not wanted.

It appears that at least for this group, the reasons offered are not persuasive. In the process, I have been called "specious", "dishonest", and "[sickeneningly condescending]", and it has been alleged that I am arbitrary, unethical and a religious addict.

Imagine how *you* would feel, please, if all of that were directed at you in two days' time.

(In the process, "rabble rouser" managed to conflate my beliefs with the Nicene Creed, misnaming them with an ignorance so wearingly complete, that no other reply is really required, except to point out that Mormonism has never been free of critique, and that I am the furthest thing from a supernaturalist.)

I have been offered some very clever restatements of the three cases I've made. A few successfully restate things, a few do not.

I've attempted, through all of that, to be as civil, technical, nuanced, and reasonable as I can possibly be.

Very little of what I have named as fallacy has been conceded as fallacy, or refuted as not-fallacy. Through it all, I see this issue as a white-hot emotional issue, with people on both sides claiming pain and agony.

I mourn the fact that there has never actually been sane and reasonable discourse on the subject, and I cast blame on both sides for that.

I have cited history, (I have a better knowledge of history than most Americans) and even a law case or two, and acknowledged compromises which would evaporate the problem.

I have tried to explain that if a judge can overturn a law like Prop 22, it can overturn the California Education Code, later on.

There has been an intimation that California records marriage status on its identification documents, which turns out to be completely false, and therefore not supportive of any refutation of David's "Garriage" idea.

David recognized some of this.

In all this, I have not offered my own opinion on the subject. In summary, *that* is here, where I confess a lot of helplessness and dismay at the issue. I invite comment there.

So... yeah, if you're in California, the only real guilt I want to lay at your feet is if you don't *vote* on election day, with your full conscience.

If nothing else, this issue needs to be decided, so that the slippery slopes can either play out or be put to rest.

Rob said...

Odd... my link didn't get processed properly.

My opinion of things is at:

http://www.onemormon.org

Did google enforce an upgrade to blogspot? Everything is different...

Big C said...

I know I'm late to the party, but I'd like to offer my $0.02:

Rob said:
"Their reasons are not secular, unless one wishes to accept as secular the premise that the basic building block of any successful civilization is the 6000 year old pattern of married heterosexuals raising their biological children, with exceptions."

and later atomicsmith responded to this with:
"Your reference to a supposedly uniform historical definition of marriage has several problems. First the definition of marriage has greatly changed over history, from property inheritance procedures arranged before/near birth, the many examples of same-sex unions, polygyny/andry, to the loving binary unions we think of today. There is no historical argument; this argument is either made by those ignorant of history, or those who really mean to refer to contemporary consensus, but call it historical tradition."

I agree with atomicsmith's point here, and I'll add that I have yet to see a credible argument that allowing same-sex marriage somehow threatens traditional marriage or traditional families. It is asserted as if it were a known fact, but there is not any reasoning that I've seen that justifies that assertion. And any line of reasoning that attempts to justify limiting marriage to heterosexual couples based on the premise of preserving the nuclear family would lead to the slippery slope arguments that we should force childless heterosexual married couples to bear fruit, adopt, or divorce, or force single parents to remarry or have their kids taken away. Most would reject these arguments out of hand, but they are the logical conclusion of claiming that the nuclear family and civilization itself requires retricting marriage to one man and one woman. Why can't same-sex marriage be one of the "execeptions" you qualify your statement with, Rob?

As atomicsmith noted, the modern concept of marriage in the US is the notion of romantic love between two people who want to become lifelong partners and be considered part of each other's family. Most married couples do want to have children, but the intent to have children is not a requirement for getting married. And the state has no right to inquire as to the reasons the couple wants to get married. As long as they are consenting adults, the state issues the marriage license, no questions asked. Las Vegas has a whole industry built on facilitating frivolous marriages. Isn't that more of a threat to the traditional family than letting committed gay couples declare themselves?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but for those 6000 years of civilization, hasn't marriage always been a more or less a matter of legal contracts that formally declare family connections? There is almost always a religious ceremony to mark the pact, but the actual marriage is about two (or more in some cases) people joining with each other to form a new family in the eyes of their society. What stake does the secular state have in denying that right to form a family to same-sex couples? How would those non-traditional families hurt traditional families in any way?

Rob also provided a link discussing gay rights vs religious liberties:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91486191

The dismissal of a potential loss of marriage solemnization authority for unwilling religious leaders is not discussed in that link. But, it is down the same trajectory.


I disagree that forcing churches to marry gay couples is on the same trajectory as the examples cited in that article. Each case in the article is the result of the opposing groups clashing over the use of the public commons or violating public discrimination laws. The Boy Scouts are free to exclude openly gay troop leaders, but they cannot maintain this discrimination policy and also expect to use public areas and services for free. Likewise with religious adoption agencies. Child adoption is facilitated and regulated through the state, which upholds anti-discrimination laws. If you want to provide adoption services, you can't also discriminate.

However, the state has no stake in religious marriage ceremonies. The state issues the marriage license and provides the optional civil marriage ceremony for interested couples. It's a clear violation of the First Amendment to force a church to perform a wedding ceremony for anyone, and I don't see the equivalence between that and any of the cases presented in that article.

Finally, I want to address Dr. Brin's lament that gay couples didn't use ju-jitsu to push for civil unions instead. He said:
Likewise, my opposition to Prop 8 is quirky and nuanced. Frankly, I understand the pain of my conservative neighbors. This whole fight was never necessary. All that our gay friends needed was a little imagination and compassion. Make up a new word – say “Garriage” instead of marriage – and insist on it getting all the same rights and privileges and status as marriage. Functionally, the left wins, but allows old farts and trogs to keep their nostalgia-word. Big deal! Garry - or Gay-ry - the one you love. Embrace it, own it, like you did gay and queer. Imagination is supposed to be your strong suit! We did not need a useless and pointless and easily avoidable socially dividing battle over a word that only brings Goppers to the polls and hurts other issues."

I've heard Dr. Brin make this argument several times on this blog, and I used to agree with it. Pragmatically, it makes sense and appears to address both sides' concerns while neutralizing needless culture war.

However, I can't avoid the feeling that this argument bears little difference from the "separate but equal" reasoning used to justify segregation. Way upthread Rob made a tangential assertion:
"(Segregation could have worked, were it not a bitter and brutal lie in the first place.)"

I also thought that the main argument against segregation was that the "separate" was never ever intended to be "equal." However, in Brown v. Board of Education, there was also an argument against the fundamental practice of separating the races, not just because of the resource inequities. They argued that even if both races had access to similar resources, segregation would still be deprive the minority group of opportunities. Some excepts from the Brown ruling:

"(d) Segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprives children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal.

...

We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does.

In Sweatt v. Painter, supra, in finding that a segregated law school for Negroes could not provide them equal educational opportunities, this Court relied in large part on "those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness in a law school." In McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, supra, the Court, in requiring that a Negro admitted to a white graduate school be treated like all other students, again resorted to intangible considerations: ". . . his ability to study, to engage in discussions and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn his profession." Such considerations apply with added force to children in grade and high schools. To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. The effect of this separation on their educational opportunities was well stated by a finding in the Kansas case by a court which nevertheless felt compelled to rule against the Negro plaintiffs:

Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system."


Now, I may be straining the analogy a bit, but when we argue that civil unions or "garriage" is just as good as marriage as long we preserve all the material benefits provided by the state (tax & health benefits, ability to visit in the hospital and make medical decisions, inheritance, etc.) how is this not the same argument for "separate but equal?" It's as if we're saying, "Yeah, you get all rights and privileges of marriage, but you're not a real family, and the rest of society doesn't recognize you as a family. Check back in 10 or 20 years when the rest of us are more tolerant."

It's not pragmatic or politically savvy, but I feel I must reject this argument. The Civil Rights movement was not considered pragmatic, incremental, or politically savvy in the 60's, but it still happened, and it fundamentally and irrevocably changed our society. Personally, I don't feel gay marriage as a visceral civil rights issue of equal import with the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's, but I'm also not a gay person longing to declare my life partner as a legitimate part of my family. So even though I'm not emotionally invested, I must stand for what I see as civil rights that are rightfully due to this minority. Unfortunately I don't live in California, so I can't vote on the issue. But this is my rationale for supporting full civil marriage rights for both opposite and same sex couples as opposed to civil unions.

Also see this blog post that draws a comparison between the legal arguments against gay marriage and the legal arguments against interracial marriage in the 1967 supreme court case Loving v Virginia.

Big C said...

Just a side note: my comment was composed before that last exchange between rable rouser, Rob and rewinn. So there's no need to prolong the discussion if everyone want to move on.

atomicsmith said...

'>' citing Rob's comments

(out of order)

> For one, the article equates pederasty with a union. Today, we would call it child abuse.

The article does no such thing. It includes pederasty (or, more correctly, ephebophilial relations) as a subset of same-sex unions (not to mention, most heterosexual unions in those cultures were equally as age-disparate). It is fallacy to use this as an excuse to ignore the examples of same-aged relationships in the article, even if you don't believe the Roman one; it is an undeniable fact that historically, same-sex relationships existed, and some cultures did not try to quash them, but enshrined them.

> Thus, the claim "ancient tradition of heterosexual, binary, love-based unions, the argument is a mere appeal to a tradition, a tradition of inequity..." ...is a straw man.

This was an entirely separate argument. Try again, I will rephrase: For the moment I will grant you that no culture in history has enshrined anything other than a heterosexual marriage as legally defined and culturally accepted in the 1950's USA (e.g.). Why is this evidence that continuing to deny same-sex marriage is not an injustice? The only argument here is that it hasn't historically been understood to be an injustice, which is really no argument at all.

> Is the right of parents to bring up their children, teaching them the beliefs they want imparted without governmental or quasi-governmental ideologies at odds getting at them before they have brains developed enough to sort it out, in fact a right? Or is it subordinate to the implicit right of marriage.

First, I cannot comprehend how anyone could construe these two to be in conflict. Let people marry whom they want, let parents teach what they want. What's the problem? The law in California at this moment entirely supports this. (And, yes, that's why we have Governators provided for in our constitution.)

Second, the right to marry was unequally applied to all California residents. This is constitutionally intolerable! The solution cannot be to keep doing it, which is the core of Prop 8.

The "right" to raise a child believing whatever cockamamie ideas his/her parent wants (in addition to the equal protection and application of said right) is unchanged and even unchallenged by Prop 8. That is why I did not make any sort of constitutional argument against why parents should be allowed to do this; I only made a personal statement of belief, which in retrospect was an unnecessary distraction.

When something comes along that actually does infringe, challenge it! And I will probably support you. But it is not same-sex marriage.

> The counterclaim to Prop 8 proponents' fears about the educational slippery slope is supported by actual anecdotes from MA

Provide them. The overturning of the Knight Initiative has nothing to do with schools or the CA Educational Code, but with equal application of rights afforded by the state.

> that's what the Mormons thought ... before an Army was dispatched... So... yeah, shoe's on the other foot these days and all that, but that alone refutes your faith that a first amendment right cannot be claimed

This an inappropriate generalization of my claim. Of course I would not claim that the first amendment protects any sacrament of a church. (If the Wiccans, Goddess bless them, suddenly started beating up grandmas and claimed it was a sacrament, obviously the first amendment would not apply.) My only claim was that the sacrament of Marriage (and others) as practiced today in churches would not be forced to change by the government. Do you really think the US government would force the Catholic church to perform same-sex marriages? Or force the church to give Eucharist to unbaptized, etc.?

Heck, you could probably get both the pro-prop-8 and the anti-prop-8 crowds to support an amendment to prevent such interference. I know I would!

> This is the basic thing Prop 8 proponents like the LDS church wish to preserve: "Marriage" as defined as a faithful hetero, bio-parent child-nurturing institution, with other stepping in at need as exceptions.

Prop 8 has nothing to do with hetero marriages. It will not affect *any* marriage currently sanctified by the Church of JCoLDS. I can only speculate as to their real motives. Outlawing sin, fighting cultural evolution and such.

-----------------------------

> So, I'm pretty much done with this topic, here, and don't intend to really offer more refutations or cases where they're not wanted.

Well, thanks anyway. You made me hammer out the precise logic of my ethics, which I'm not often required to do! I hope I haven't allowed my enthusiasm for debate to turn personal...

> Imagine how *you* would feel, please, if all of that were directed at you in two days' time.

Oh, boy... You'll get no sympathy from me! Imagine how you'd feel if tens of millions of dollars were directed at ensuring you couldn't get married!


Cheers, and don't disappear!

David Brin said...

Guys! Stop ganging up on Rob!

The LDS discussion should only be interesting to us if all parties are enjoying it. Abstract religious issues -- as opposed to legitimate complaints about religious fanatics trying to impose stuff on us -- should be discussed by consensus only, in a spirit of collegiality.

rabble rouser said...

Rob:

A resounding, nearly-eloquent reinforcement of my charge. Burying me under parentheses as a mere noisome flea was a particularly delicious move. I'm glad to've struck so deeply.

Thank you, and every religious denomination -- LDS through Orphic -- is an indissoluble synonym of supernaturalism. Until you're an out-and-out atheist, agnostic, "Jeffersonian" Christian or irreligious humanist, you're a supernaturalist.

"I have a better knowledge of history than most Americans." Laughable. Your "better knowledge" is an obsolete Servian tracery, robbed of merit by religion. But another thank you for exampling such depths of condescension.

I predict you'll either ignore me or continue to pretend you're being wholly civil and innocent, spewing the PR fiction that you're addressing issues detachedly and without trampling feelings or exhibiting a throbbing superiority complex. I suspect you'll continue to redefine nuance and subtlety as "non-obvious attack and ridicule," weaving your insults artfully.

Do so as you please. Reality, too, persists whether we engage it or not.

(And done, for now, Dr. Brin).

Robert said...

And on a different note:

X-Rays can be generated from peeling Scotch tape in a vacuum. Before you start to worry about irradiating yourself every time you peel some tape, please note that this only works when the tape is in a vacuum. Researchers believe it can be used for low-cost and low-energy x-ray machines. The article even includes a picture of someone x-raying his thumb (showing the bone structure of the thumb on a film) using this technique.

Also, researchers have found a means of erasing select memories. It is thought this could be used to eliminate bad memories such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, John McCain losing the Presidency, and so forth. ^^

Take care!

Rob H.

Jester said...

What Prop 8 Should have said -

1) No Religious Institution or Clergy may ever be penalized by law or subject to civil damages for refusing to perform a marriage between any two persons for any reason.

2) All Religions are free to encourage any guidelines of sexual behavior for their adherents that they wish, so long as those guidelines do not demand the violation of laws restricting sexual behavior.*

3) The California Educational Code shall be changed to include a requirement that Teachers dealing with the subject of marriage/family shall read a statement clarifing that for many Californians, Marriage has certain meanings that can only be defined by an individuals own conscience, or by consultation with ones parents, but that Course Material will be dealing solely with the Civil Institution.

It would have passed with 80-90% support. I would have voted for it.Please, Rob, if you do talk to any of the 70 or the 12 very often...please suggest that if they want to try again it's something more like THAT.

* I'm not a lawyer - what I'm trying to say here is that it's fine if a Church wants to teach that homosexual acts are sinful, but they can't hide behind the First if they're telling parishoners to rape people.


One big Problem with just calling everyones Marriage a Domestic Partnership is that the Feds will screw us. Hard. An awfull lot of Benefits and Tax Code are based around that M word.

The other is that it *is* "seperate and unequal". I don't think most Jews would be cool with having a "Hebiage" with all the priveleges and responsibilies of "Marriage" in Idaho, even if it would make some Militia dudes happier...so why should a same-sex Unitarian Couple be told by the state that what their church calls "marriage" ---- is not?

I used to think "just using a different word" was the reasonable course too, but the Supreme Court of California changed my mind. I'm serious, the Majority Opinion in RE: Marriage Cases is worth reading.

Now, what I actually wanted to discuss before I accidently trolled someone and then got all heated up -

Overall I'm VERY proud of what has been accomplished through the CA Ballot initiative process, but I do wonder if we need to use one to alter how it's done. 60% requirement to change the constitution seems a lot more reasonable to me, and not just because of Prop 8 by any means.

First, voters in this State get to hold Judges accountable. I think that makes things a little different than dealing with the SCOTUS or most State Supreme Courts.

Second...we've passed some real doozies, like trying to demand "english only" on all State publications and trying to preserve red-lining and real-estate exclusivity compacts back in the 60's.

Lastly, we just provide WAY too much oportunity for a few rich jerks to put something on our ballot that fails...and then keep putting it up there.

I don't know of a feasible way to institute a "waiting period"...I mean, Prop 2 is well-intended, but it's got a major flaw. If it failed, I'd like to see an improved version on my next ballot. I don't think that would cause a whole lot of rancor and discord.

If Prop 8 fails, we REALLY don't need that sucker back up next year. (BTW - odds of passage are about 70-30 against. Only one Iniative in the last 20 years has passed without breaking 50% support by the two week mark).

Honestly, I'd say the same thing if it was a really divisive issue on which I was on the other side. Let's say, a proposition to legalize Marijuana that was narrowly defeated after a big 'ol heated public fight.


Sorry again, Rob, I really should have just said that those are my views about the First Presidency and the Quorum, and tough noogies if you didn't like it ;)

BTW : LDS have *relatively* clean hands compared to a lot of other Major Organized Religions. I honestly think another hundred years of being around will make Mormons a lot less insecure and lead to a bit more honest look at the bits of grime under the finger-nails.

I mean, I *do* know it's only been 60 years since the beards came off ;) I understand there's still a struggle going about how to relate to "Gentiles" and get along with them...without comprimising anything essential.

I don't hate Catholics for the Burning Times, but I'll argue like hell if they try to deny their churches role in them. I do hate me some Popes, though.

Robert said...

The thing that Pagans have to realize about the Burning Times, however, is that it wasn't just the Church. A lot of the trials were secular, and there are recorded instances of the Inquisition stepping in and freeing women who were wrongly accused. The Church did some horrible things back then in the name of spreading their faith among the rural populations. But blame cannot be laid completely on the Catholic Church's doorstep.

For that matter, the Salem Witchcraft Trials in Salem, Massachusetts were done under a Protestant church setting. You have to wonder... how many "witches" (real or just innocent people who were victimized) were put to death by Protestants?

Give the Pagan faiths long enough, and they'll start persecuting people as well. I have faith in the inhumanity of man... even among those who were once persecuted.

Rob H., speaking as a pagan

Rob said...

Oh, I have little or no pull with the Seventy or other general Church leaders regarding policy; we don't operate quite in that way.

What I am sure of, though, is that the Church's California members would put energy behind the refinements to Prop 8 that you suggest.

BTW: at only 13 million members (or so) LDS hardly qualify as a major organized religion. And I do wish that many of us would stop being insecure, but that's probably just a characteristic of an org with far more very new members than most religious traditions.

Jester said...

Just an analogy for illustrative purposes.

With any luck, no Catholic commenter will take it personally :)

David Brin said...

Yowp!

TOKYO – A 43-year-old player in a virtual game world became so angry about her sudden divorce from her online husband that she logged on with his password and killed his digital persona, police said Thursday.
The woman, who has been jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his ID and password to log onto the popular interactive game "Maple Story" to carry out the virtual murder in May, a police official in the northern city of Sapporo said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081023/ap_on_re_as/as_japan_avatar_murder

Boot said...

If we put aside the natural... "It's just a game." We are dealing with one citizen causing significant emotional damage to another one. Potentially causing significant property damage "if" Maple Story is unwilling to restore said character.

Frankly I think the idea of throwing her in jail is silly. How is she a danger to society?

I would say that emotional, financial damages would apply.

Robert said...

Sounds like she could have benefited from that memory erasure technique they're working on. ^^;;

Matt DeBlass said...

"The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind" type deal?

This sounds more akin to keying a car or trashing a living room than physical assault.

Sociotard said...

Dr. Brin, you publish stuff through Baen, right?

I ask because that company came up on another forum I read. The following was posted without references/authentication. Can you confirm or deny Baen thinks their audience is so delicate?

Though Victorian Scientific Romances are quite a trip, I'm much more familiar with "Classic SF" of the Nifty Fifties and First 1960s, and want to tell you a cultural quirk of that period. (Besides the Cold War extending into that future, no matter how far into the future they were.) Everybody smoked in the future. Tobacco use for both sexes peaked in the US from the 1920s through 1970s at around 50-60% of the adult population, and the Far Future of that period totally reflected this. (These days, Baen has a special editor/censor to censor out all smoking scenes in their reprints of classic SF from this period. Victorians cut out anything even remotely publicly sexual, we cut this out. Go fig...)

Tony Fisk said...

Without knowing the details of the technique, memory construction shouldn't be too different in principle from memory erasure (apart from being trickier).

Trust the Corps!

('mindsets' will ensure that you do.)

My suggestion: the crime occurred in Maple Life, so why not correct it in Maple Life? Said lady's avatar to serve x years of penitence of some sort or another.

David Brin said...

SUBSCRIBE to Baen's Universe using that special coupon code EE329517B2 which is good for $5 off JUST for you guys!!!

I have several really cool items.

Robert said...

The lady's in jail for hacking into the guy's account and maliciously altering it, not for "virtually killing him." It would be like she defaced his website (and they toss people in jail for that).

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

That's the crime in real life. I was speculating on an appropriate response in virtual life.

Rob said...

Scott McClellan endorses Obama.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/10/24/former-bush-aide-voting-for-obama-2/

rewinn said...

Perhaps if Maple Life were to adopt Java Scotch Tape Extensions, we could use X-Rays to erase memories of being virtually married.

Jumper said...

I'll chime in to note I'm publicizing my "new" meme:
"Religion Hijackers."

Formerly applied to Islam, the new term is more inclusive. Apply where necessary; use often.

On gay marriage, my usual question is just "what's it gonna cost me?" Benefits. Spousal, social security, civil service, etc. All else is just squishy. Incorporations and public vows of eternal bonding are already legal. But I'll stand up for the benefits, too. Only seems fair.

David Brin said...

Quick! See how famous I have gotten for all my political work!

http://www.cnnbcvideo.com/index.html?nid=msnU8INNknHavZK5v5QpUDExMDA0Nzg-&referred_by=11249219-7Hesk5x

And then pass it along ;-)

Boot said...

You have voted already right? ...right?

ARGH!!!!!

rewinn said...

david - No doubt you're already miles ahead of me on how
MoveOn's CNNNBC/superfocussed GOTV ad, (combining personalization, social networking and advertising) can be the start of massive change in how we politic.

If YouTube's "Macaca" video threw the Senate to the Democrats in 2006, think what personalized GOTV videos might do.

When I used it to send the video to my friends (... blaming THEM for the loss of the election ...), I wanted to personalize it more with images & issues I knew were relevant to them. But even as is, it's a great start; the humor makes it palatable but the images makes it more compelling than any amount of dunning text.

I hope that there's something about fascism that makes its advocates too uncreative to come up with something like this. I don't know why this seems to be, but I'm grateful it's the case.

Tony Fisk said...

It's part of why you don't like fascism perhaps!

(After watching that inspirational clip, I have the chorus to Ian Drury's 'Reasons to be Cheerful' going around my head)

Woozle said...

(Very late catching up with the party here...)

Dr.B said: "But the REAL people who should feel our wrath, right away, should be the companies that buy commercials on Faux and on Limbaugh and all the rest. Lists of names and companies need to be posted and we blues need to adjust our buying habits. If we did that, a lot of the heat would go away. (Does anyone know if such a project already exists?)"

BuyBlue, perhaps? (Currently undergoing maintenance, so I can't check and see if it's more or less as I remember it...)

I also had plans to turn issuepedia.org and htyp.org into engines of accountability, with the former being more oriented towards ethical issues (such as supporting sleazy news-distorters) and the latter more towards practical issues (good/bad customer service).

I suppose I'd be more likely to scare up more active participation on those sites if I advertised their existence, but this tends to get shoved towards the back burner since I don't get any income streams from them at present.

Maybe it would be worth sacrificing a little credibility (e.g. accepting donations, at least) in order to be able to deliver a better service? Ah, the ironies of the free market...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Larry C. Lyons said...

Regarding your comments about Virginia, you do have it right in part. However since you are not a resident of northern Virginia, its easy to miss some of the real reasons for NOVA going solidly democrat. The prime one is that the state legislature is mostly Republican, and those republicans mostly represent the other part of Virginia. People in NOVA are very tired of being treated like a colony by Richmond and the republican regions of the state.

Traffic is horrid in this area, the second worst in the country according to the AAA. Yet every attempt to rectify the situation has been blocked by the Republican legislature. Even very small gas and income tax increases that would only affect northern Virginia have been blocked by the Republican legislators. People are simply getting tired of the BS. There are similar issues involving schools, health care etc. When these are combined with the points you raised about the military and civil service, its no wonder why this area is a solid blue.

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