Category Archives: Culture War

Wednesday Night Linkorama

  • Fred Phelps and his gang of assholes have been fined $11 million for their protests at military funerals. And before anyone screams “free speech”, the court decision was that this is a private event. The First Ammendment does not give you the right to bust into people’s funerals and scream at them.
  • Read about Karen Tandy, the outgoing Nanny in Charge of Drugs. Ugh.
  • The Democrats tax and spend and tax and spend. If only we had a conservative option.
  • Dead Potheads

    Just another dead pothead:

    Robin Prosser, a Missoula woman who struggled for a quarter century to live with the pain of an immunosuppressive disorder, tried years ago to kill herself. Last week, she tried again. This time, she succeeded.

    After her earlier attempt failed, Prosser wound up in even more trouble after investigating police found marijuana in her home. She used the marijuana to help cope with pain.

    That marijuana charge was eventually dropped in an agreement with the city of Missoula, and Prosser had reason to rejoice in 2004 when Montanans passed a law allowing medical use of the drug.

    She was a high-profile campaigner for the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, and like others, she was dismayed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that drug agents could still arrest sick people using marijuana, even in states that legalized its use.

    The ruling came to haunt Prosser in late March, when DEA agents seized less than a half ounce of marijuana sent to her by her registered caregiver in Flathead County.

    At the time, the DEA special agent in charge of the Rocky Mountain Field Division said federal agents were “protecting people from their own state laws” by seizing such shipments.

    Another casualty in the War on the Sick. George Bush, Alberto Gonzalez, John Ashcroft, John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia – there is blood on your hands, you puritanical Constitution-raping assholes.

    Friday Morning Linkorama

  • Philadelphia is telling the boy scouts they have to pay the standard rate if they want to use city facilities. Penn and Teller did a wonderful expose’ on how the scouts have been taken over by the Religious Right. I’m fine if they want to exclude gays. I’m not fine with them getting free goodies from the government when they do it.
  • Yep, the Democrats sure are fighting pork.
  • Jonathan Rauch has one of the best articles I’ve read on the Iraq War.

    Some optimists say that in Army Gen. David Petraeus, Bush has finally found his Gen. Grant. That may or may not be true, but it is beside the point. The problem is that Petraeus has not yet found his President Lincoln.

    Read the whole thing. (Hat tip, Lee).

  • Cracked has the worst twist endings in movie history. I agree with their #1 choice. David Gale was a rancid movie and featured one of the most uncomfortable sex scenes in movie history. Signs, massive whomping plot holes and all, was very good. Some twist endings do work: Fight Club, the original Planet of the Apes, The Sixth Sense. Here’s a way to discriminate. If a movie is all about the twist ending, it will usually suck. If, however, it holds together and the twist ending is just an extra, it usually works.
  • Gregg Easterbrook was a running item at TMQ on the earliest appearance of Christmas decorations, music and sales. I can’t remember where, but I recently saw the first appearance of “war on Christmas” hysteria. Ugh.
  • Rosh Hoshana Linkorama!

    I’m not supposed to think today (not that I do anyway), so I’ll just link to those who do:

  • Radley Balko points out that the Democrats seems to have a better notion of federalism than the GOP. I disagree slightly. Federalism was always a ploy by the Republicans to appeal to strates’ rights conservatives like me. What they really supported was the right of the states . . . to be conservative. And I’m sure the Dems will supports states’ rights . . . as long as the states are liberal. Watch how fast their federalism vanishes when the abortion issue comes up.
  • This story makes you wonder how many of those poor assholes with their pictures on the internet are really innocent. Prostitution is an issue where my views have shifted quite a bit. A few years ago, I was in favor of keeping it illegal. I’ve become convinced that criminalization is a disaster for law enforcement, for the public and especially for women.
  • LA wants to limit fast food restaurants in poor neighborhoods. First of all, I’m sure the rich fast food chains will love the ban on new competitition. And the locked-off market will certainly improve the food choices, since we all know effective monopolies best serve the consumer. Second, is it just me or is there something weird about a city council literally trying to take food out of the mouths of poor people?
  • On the video tape I made for my daughter when she was born, I told her that the world is getting to be a better place all the time. Here’s proof. (HT, Sully). Remember, child mortality is not a product of modern life — it is natural. It was the way things were for millions of years. All your Rousseau-wannabee environmentalist luddite shitheads can stick it. This is the result of rich people doing good things with technology and industry.
    There’s a related link from Sully about how geeks have a better perspective on tragedy. Just wait until the Gates money starts pouring into these efforts.
  • Also via Sully, we find a critique of terrorist logos. Personally, I think the IJMP logo looks it’s having a really bad period.
  • Finally, remember how wire-tapping blew up the terrorist plot in Germany? Um, no. I’m getting sick of this spin from the Bushies. They do this constantly. Make some grand claim to grab headlines, then quietly admit it’s a crock.
  • Thoughts on the surge later tonight.

    Weekend Linkorama

  • Obama wants to bring back merit pay for teachers. The thing is, this has been tried. And you end up giving merit pay raises to everyone to avoid nasty lawsuits and union actions.
  • Half the public wants Bush impeached. The numbers sound a little bit fishy to me. But as I said during the Clinton business, impeaching a President would be a lot of fun, would serve to keep future Presidents on their toes and wouldn’t do much harm. Of course, if Clinton hadn’t been impeached, we might have gotten Social Security reform.
  • Balko is on fire lately. He has a little note on some bizarre arrests and a brutal takedown of Michael Gerson’s bizarre assertion that Second Life represents Libertarianism.
  • Continuing with Balko, he links to this article on politically incorrect truths about human nature. Some of this is pseudo-science, however. Scientists have been speculating for decades why men are attracted to big breasts, and their theories have no more predictive power now than they ever have (or explanation as to why many men are attracted to small breasts). Oh well, at least they’re not longer trying to say that women’s breasts look like their backsides.

    Additionally, the allegation that polygyny creates Muslim terrorism out of poor woman-less men flies in the face of the well-off physicians who were attacking Britain last week.

  • Brink Lindsey takes out Ramesh Ponnuru. Mr. Party-of-Death is admitting the conservatives can’t win the culture war. So what was the fucking point of the culture war and the incredibly divisive books, statements and party platforms associated with it? I must conclude that it was a cynical ploy to whip the culturally conservative American people into a Bush-electing frenzy by taking advantage of their beliefs and prejudices. And if a few gays and women got trampled in the puritanical stampede . . . well, that’s just politics.
  • Fail the bar exam? It must be the fault of them evil homersexuals!
  • A proper way to celebrate independence day — put flag-flying Americans in jail.
  • NYC now has thousands of police officers enforcing a noise ordinance while Mississippi saves their women from the perils of orgasm. Guess they’ve got nothing better to do.
  • Linkorama

    What does a baby-driven sleep-deprived blogger do? He links!

    Reason has more on the students punished for excessive celebration. It makes some good points, but I am still sympathetic to the students. Stopping “Students crossing the stage were dancing and flashing hand signs; friends in the audience were jumping up, whooping and raising a racket with air horns.” does not mean you stop all cheering.

    Cato fisks Romney on health care. I swear. This election is looking like a choice between the little socialists and the big socialists.

    I suspect the rise in violent crime has little to do with Bush. Social factors are critical here – especially the rise of Meth. Yeah, the libs will go on about poverty and race and Katrina or something. But our economy is healthy. No, I don’t think this is Bush’s fault.

    But you KNOW that if violent crime had gone up under Clinton, the Right would have blamed him in a heartbeat.

    This is why things like TABOR, which set strict spending limits and refund tax excess to the taxpayers, are critical.

    The typical Fairfax homeowner is paying $4830 a year in property taxes. The FCTA points out that “if during the past seven years the Supervisors had held real estate tax increases to the rate of inflation, which averaged three percent per year, the typical homeowner would be paying $3,079.” … The supervisors–in Fairfax County and everywhere else–respond, “Would you have us close fire stations or fire teachers or throw widows out in the snow?” Somehow they never discuss, as another item in the FCTA newsletter does, the fact that salaries and benefits have increased far more than population growth or any other measure over the past seven years.

    If you give government money, it will spend it. Part of the reason for our massive federal deficits now is because Congress responded to the budget surplus with an orgy of spending rather than a tax cut. And when revenues dropped to normal growth, deficits returns — as every Libertarian predicted.

    Even thought I somewhat support the death penalty, I have to disagree with SCOTUS on death penalty juries. Jurors judge the case and the law and a prosecutor’s fucking job is to persuade them that the defendent deserved to be killed. Banning jurors who even question the death penalty is rigging the deck and very likely to produce “hang ’em high” juries that have very high false conviction rates.

    Michael Moore. As pig ignorant as ever.

    Another sex crime outrage.

    This is fricking hilarious.


    Reason on a drugstore that refuses to stock contraceptives. This is becoming a weird battleground where Leftists assert women have a “right” to get the pill and Rightists assert pharmacists have a “right” not to dispense medication they don’t agree with.

    To me, the issue comes down to ownership. The people who own the store get to decide what medication is sold there. If you don’t want to give birth control to women, don’t work there. You don’t have a “right” to pick and choose the medication you dispense for your employer any more than I have a “right” to tell my boss I won’t do the work he assigns. But I both of us have the freedom to quit and get a different job.

    But by the same token, if a store refuse to carry birth control, don’t shop there. Women don’t have a “right” to demand a store carry birth control any more than I have a “right” to demand McDonald’s sell healthy salads. But we do have the freedom to go to another store.

    Use it.


    I’m working on two big posts on immigration. In the meantime….

  • Why I’m sometimes embarassed to life in Texas.
  • Yeah, right. I call BS.

    In a recent study, sociologist Diane Felmee found only a third of women said looks were the first thing that attracted them to a man. Most preferred a sense of humour or financial and career success.

    This has never been my experience. And I mean ever. I have known precisely one woman in my life who preferred geeky men. She was also my first girlfriend (and eventually moved on to better looking ones).

    No, these are women who want to have their cake and eat it, too. When they’re young, they want to have sex with hot men. And now that they’re older, they want to settle down with the other ones. And the plain or ugly men are supposed to settle for never having a wild and crazy youth. Garbage.

  • Johns Stossel breaks out the nun-chucks on ethanol. If you’ve read my blog (cue crickets chirping), you know how I feel about this boondoggle. On this blog, we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
  • Christian Hysteria

    The latest. Apparently, book sellers can sell both Christian books and porn. The horror. The horror.

    I wonder what they’d do if they found out the my library of 1100 books includes the New Testament, three copies of the old, the Koran, commentaries on all of the above as well as Lolita, Gravity’s Rainbow and the Origin of Species.

    Hangings too good for me.


    I’m not sure what to make of today’s Supreme Court decision on partial birth abortion. While I oppose the procedure I get nervous when the government starts deciding what methods may be used. In this case, these feti will just be aborted by a different and, as I understand it, more dangerous procedure. Government doesn’t know medicine. If they want to ban late-term abortions, that’s one thing. I might even support that on the state level. But having a bunch of lawyers decide approprate medical methodology is asking for trouble.

    I also think this puts the lie to the standard Republican talking point of “We just want to the decision on abortion to go back to the states!” This is a very anti-federalist law and tells me that, if they had the votes, they would ban abortion on the Congressional level and screw federalism. After all, that’s what they did on medical marijuana.

    I do think having these things debated politically is better than having the Supreme Court impose a unilateral ruling on the nation. We’ll get better debate on the subject. And as I said in this space, if Roe vs. Wade were ever struck down, it would be he best thing that ever happened to the Democrats.

    Expect Planned Parenthood and NARAL to shit bricks. But the court is still at least 5-4 pro-Roe, as Kennedy is usually an abortion supporter. And we’ll see how Alito and Roberts rule on more restrictive laws. I suspect that, as with everything, the GOP will make sure that they can get abortions when they need them. It’s the rest of us that are in danger of hellfire.


    Read this story about the how the Bush Justice Department has been recruiting heavily from Pat Robertson’s law school. Regent has actually improved its reputation remarkably over the last few years but was a bottom-tier school when Bush began recruiting from it.

    The law school’s dean, Jeffrey A. Brauch, urges in his “vision” statement that students reflect upon “the critical role the Christian faith should play in our legal system.” Jason Eige (’99), senior assistant to Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, puts it pithily in the alumni newsletter, Regent Remark: “Your Résumé Is God’s Instrument.”

    This legal worldview meshed perfectly with that of former Attorney General John Ashcroft—a devout Pentecostal who forbade use of the word “pride,” as well as the phrase “no higher calling than public service,” on documents bearing his signature. (He also snatched the last bit of fun out of his press conferences when he covered up the bared breasts of the DoJ statue the “Spirit of Justice”). No surprise that, as he launched a transformation of the Justice Department, the Goodlings looked good to him.

    The problem here is not so much where Bush is recruiting from or what battles they choose to fight. If they think “persecution” of Christians is more worthy of being investigated that blacks being denied votes, that’s their perogative. What bothers me is the same thing that always bothers me about the Religious Right. When you think that God is on your side, anything is justified. How can laws, the Constitution or fundamental rights stand up to the Will of God? How can you can accept an election that will turn out his chosen candidate?

    A lot of the problems in the Bush Administration become clearer when they are seen through the lens of religious dogma. The insistence on loyalty and having “our guys” in charge, the treating of unbelievers as though they were subhuman (Abu Ghraib, etc.).

    As I have said many times, I have no problem with a religious President. But I get concerned with one who thinks God talks to him.

    Get That Off My Silver Screen!

    My favorite movie critic, James Berardinelli has a fascinating post on the recent apperance of explicit sex scenes in mainstream movies. He doesn’t think this is the beginning of a trend. To wit:

    Then there’s the question of how a graphic sex scene impacts a movie. People generally watch porn for stimulation. People watch legitimate films for less primal reasons. Confusing the two can lead to frustration. The conflict is evident. There’s also an issue of pacing. No movie can afford to take a several-minute “timeout” to show a sex scene, unless the movie is all about sex in the first place (in which case it’s almost certainly straight porn rather than art-porn). There’s another issue that Roger Ebert once raised. Graphic sex is documentary in nature. As he wrote in Roger Ebert’s Book of Film, speaking about Norman Mailer: “Mailer, like so many before and since, awaits the cinematic marriage of Sex and Art. I am not convinced such a thing is possible. In traditional fiction films, art involves the filmmakers in creating a fiction about characters whose lives we care about. Sex, to the degree that it involves nudity and explicit detail, brings the whole story crashing down to the level of documentary. The actors lose not only their clothes but their characters, and stand (or recline) revealed only as themselves.”

    Here’s the response I e-mailed to him:

    I’m afraid I have to disagree with you and with Ebert. It seems to me that you are still stuck in thinking of any explicit sex as porn and not as what we’re seeing — a more explicit extension of the sex scenes that have been in mainstream films since the fall of the Hays Code. A number of the films in your top 100 include scenes that are fairly explicit — albeit mostly in a disturbing context (War Zone or Requiem for a Dream, for example). These would have been considered pornographic — hell, they would have been banned — just a few decades ago even though they don’t “show everything”.

    I think our perception of art-porn has been heavily tainted by the disastrous Showgirls foray into this. But just as there is a difference between the soft-porn that shows up on Cinemax and the erotica that shows up in, say, Secretary, I think there can be a similar difference between pure pornography and art-porn. An example that you didn’t mention and doesn’t show up in your archive is Sex and Lucia, a movie which is fairly graphic, although not pornographic, but compelling, interesting and romantic. I don’t see that the movie would have come to a screeching halt had it been slightly more explicit.

    I think the word we’re both scrounging around for is “tasteful”. There is a way to make porn tasteful, but the political situation in our country has branded all explicit erotica — and most non-explicit — as evil. But films like Secretary and Lucia show that it can be done.

    Of course, there’s always Sturgeon’s Law. Most movies that blur the line between art and porn will be crap, because most movies are crap anyway. And the best talent will shy away from “art-porn” because of the stigma — which is why we’re seeing the new wave emerging in countries like France and Spain, which aren’t as hysterically puritanical as we are.

    Back to blog-Mike:

    Sex and Lucia is a movie I have a lot of arguments about. Some people think it’s just a skin flick. I enjoyed it. Not that those two things are mutually exclusive, of course. But I do think any trend that breaks us out of “sex bad, sex evil, violence OK” mentality that has gripped his nation for the last three centuries is a good thing.

    Die Hippies!

    The US government would rather you die screaming in pain than smoke pot. Interesting note:

    What becomes abundantly clear from Baum’s reporting: Everything, everything about the prohibition of marijuana is and has always been political. It basically boils down to Richard Nixon needing a wedge issue and a hammer with which to beat the dirty hippie anti-war protesters over the head. With just a bit of research, even hardened drug warriors in Nixon’s own administration in the late 1960s and early 1970s quickly realized marijuana was basically harmless.

    From that, we have descended to a point where the government has determined it’s better that sick, crippled, suffering people (a) die, and (b) die in pain, than to give those dirty hippies the smallest of victories, even 35 years later.

    I have another take on this. I think we are seeing the witch-trial mentality.

    Huh? Bear with me.

    The people who tortured, burnt, drowned and hanged witches in the last millenium always justified it by saying they were saving the witch’s soul. Yeah, they were going to die in pain and terror. But that was a small price to pay for the eternal salvation of having the demons driven from them.

    (Whether they actually thought this, or just used it justify/rationalize a process that, not coincidentally, gave them the condemended witch’s property, is another issue.)

    I see this in the drug warriors and the teetotalers — especially when it comes to denying Angel Reich marijuana or Richard Paey percocet. Yes, they will die in pain. But their souls will be saved because their minds won’t be cloud by those filthy drugs. Well, that and the pathological need to enforce the letter of the law beyond any boundaries of common sense.

    I can’t find the link here, but when the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous was dying, he asked for a drink. He was denied. That is, a man who was quite understandably scared of what was happening to him was denied even a modicum of comfort. Because it would save his soul.

    Hogwash. One of the most scared duties of a human being is to comfort the dying. It is something we will all need at some point. And if that comfort involves a drink, a pill or a joint, so be it.

    Especially if that drink, pill or joint might keep them around for just a little bit longer.