Satan's Letter To Pat

From Jay at swimming freestyle (sans links):
A letter to Pat Robertson

OK, is there now anyone left who doesn't think Pat Robertson is a despicable, heartless dick and the very antithesis of Christian charity and compassion?

Via Swampland came this link to a letter to the editor of a Minneapolis newspaper.
Dear Pat Robertson,

I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I'm all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I'm no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth -- glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven't you seen "Crossroads"? Or "Damn Yankees"? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox -- that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it -- I'm just saying: Not how I roll. You're doing great work, Pat, and I don't want to clip your wings -- just, come on, you're making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That's working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.



Question With Boldness...

Sully posted a reader email in which religion is basically rebuked, and the reader gets posted with no comment from Sully.  Good for you, Mr. Sullivan.
You see that "Question with boldness" Jefferson quote at the beginning of the Beck/Palin video? Here's Jefferson's full remark:
"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear."
That's right. In a video in which he claims that God founded America, Glenn Beck references a quote in which our most important Founding Father stood tall and proud for agnosticism, and against the politics of fear.


Haiti, Updated Again

I don't have much to say that hasn't been said by everyone else, I just wanted you all to know that I am painfully aware of the horror and am proud to be an American.  It is times like these that restore my faith(?) in humanity, with the outpouring of aid and money and concern.

So, with that, some Haiti history:

Toussaint Louverture. From a group of engravings done in post-Revolutionary France. (1802)

From Wikipedia:
François-Dominique Toussaint L'ouverture, also Toussaint Bréda, Toussaint-Louverture (20 May 1743 – 8 April 1803) was a leader of the Haitian Revolution. Born in Saint Domingue, in a long struggle for independence Toussaint led enslaved Africans to victory over Europeans, abolished slavery, and secured native control over the colony, Haiti, in 1797 while nominally governor of the colony. He expelled the French commissioner Léger-Félicité Sonthonax, as well as the British armies; invaded Santo Domingo to free the slaves there; and wrote a constitution naming himself governor-for-life that established a new polity for the colony.

Especially between the years 1800 and 1802, Toussaint L'ouverture tried to rebuild the collapsed economy of Haiti and reestablish commercial contacts with the United States and Britain. His rule permitted the colony a taste of freedom which, after his death in exile, was gradually destroyed during the successive reigns of a series of despots. Translated from French, his name means "the awakening of all saints" or "all souls rising". His last words were to his son in France, "My boy, you will one day go back to St. Domingo; forget that France murdered your father."
Santana also has a song titled Toussaint L'overture

Update: Here is a link I should have included with ways you can help Haiti, sent to me by a reader.

Update IIHere is another link to a great piece that gives some background about what Pat Robertson was erroneously referring to when he invoked himself the Devil.

Do You Know This Kid VIIII? Updated

Here we have a wedding picture. The couple are running to the car. Who is the bride? She was born in 1928. She is alive and famous. I think this one is easy.

Update: That was fast! Reader kanor74 knows her child stars! It is indeed Shirley Temple at her first wedding to some guy named John George Agar.

A Good, Socialist Rant

I really enjoy Joe Bageant's rants:
Bass Boats and Queer Marriage
The battle for the American soul is over and Jay Leno won

By Joe Bageant
Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

Holy smoking Jesus, America is losing its middle class! "We're taxing the middle class out of existence," charge the conservatives. "The middle class is being hollowed out," wail the liberals, pouring forth great mock turtle tears (although one wonders how such a vacuum, as middle class life in America could be further hollowed).

For both political camps, high dudgeon over "the vanishing middle class" is supposed to represent some sort of "new populism." Not that the populace disagrees with them, mainly because the populace, if we are referring to the genuine America populace, hasn't the slightest notion of the definition of populism. But the word sounds like it has to do with popularity, the highest virtue in the American mind, and can even lead to the celestial heights called celebrity. So what the hell, they're willing to run with it.
Read the whole thing here.


Palin's Jewish Problem Answered

A Jewish commentator for Commentary Magazine, Jennifer Rubin, wrote that Jews don't like Sarah Palin because we're snobs. Jennifer, a Jew, wrote this in Commentary, a Jewish magazine.

Jonathan Chait, a Jew at TNR, wrote a response at his new blog there taking Jennifer to task, and rightly so IMHO.

I have published comments left at TNR in the past, most notably from williamyard because he cracks me up and is so smart.  He's not the only one.  jhildner1 seems to have his writing chops too:
I think that I speak for most Jews when I say that one of the things that really caused us to hate Palin as a candidate, and as a person, and not merely view her as utterly lacking any of the substantive qualities one typically seeks in candidates for high office, is that she is what backward Americans refer to as a "straight-shooter." She is without affect or complicated agenda. She is "honest," like a slow Jewish child born prior to the days of genetics counseling. We Jews instinctively react negatively to this quality, as we are inclined toward deceit, unprincipled intellectual argument, and insidiously pragmatic and "values"-free pursuits geared toward enriching our people in the form of cash money and, if possible, destroying the traditional moral fabric of Christian societies such as the United States. Hence our firm grip upon the legal profession and entertainment industry.

Another thing about Palin worried us greatly. That is, the possibility and probability that, with the people's interest at heart, she would recommend taking unfavorable actions in relation to the financial sector of the economy, which we control, and through which we control most of what occurs in the world. Such action might have included refraining from giving us a lot of money -- an unacceptable setback. Although Barack Obama is a Negro Muslim, we knew, based upon secret communications held at our headquarters in the subterranean Gold Vault at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, that he would continue to offer a level of support to the financial industry not justified by what backward Americans refer to as "common sense." (Yes, "common," indeed! Ha ha.) Anyway, Obama wants Malia to go to Juilliard, which we agreed to facilitate. We also taught him how to be a lousy and annoying golfer.

williamyard On Randi Weingarten, Or More Specifically, On American Parents

Randi Weingarten has apparently decided to give in to union busting by acquiescing to the nonsense that is teacher evaluation.  She is now for tying test scores to employment, a supremely stupid idea.  Here is her nonsense, and here are some reactions, as well as here and here.

I think williamyard responds well in this comment to the TNR post linked above:
As I've noted before, discussions about education-system fixes ignore the primary cause for student failure: their parents. One rarely even reads the words "parent" or "parents" in any such discussion. Student achievement is hugely determined before a kid ever walks into an elementary school classroom. Yet for a variety of reasons, parent accountability is rarely discussed.

Education reform needs to start before conception, when a future mother's intake of nutrients and poisons begins to enhance or limit the future brain of a human being who does not yet exist. The reform needs to continue by providing either aggressive preschool availability and standards, successful involvement of parents in early childhood intellectual development, or, ideally, both.

We've come to the place in this country where we think the primary responsibility to educate a child is the society's. It's not. It's the parents', which is one big reason why 30% of our students aren't finishing high school. Unfortunately, reinstating parents' responsibility and authority requires cultural shifts that at this point we seem unwilling to make.

Righting every wrong accrued by bigotry and poverty will do little unless Mom and/or Dad ensures that Junior walks into first grade with a basic respect for his peers, with an understanding of the alphabet, with many evenings of being read to sleep under his belt, with exposure to counting, with exposure to three-dimensional object relationships, with some practice in the hand/eye coordination needed to successfully manipulate a pencil, with exposure to artistic expression (e.g., finger painting, play-doh, beating drums), with the ability to share with peers, with nonviolent behavior, with the ability to practice basic hygiene and personal safety, with regular rest and adequate nutrition, with current vaccinations, with the ability to maintain attention and focus in an environment devoid of electronic stimulation, with hearing and vision tested as adequate and corrected as needed. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera. Every parent should be held accountable for every single item on the above list, and more. We do not allow a parent to beat a kid with a baseball bat--that's child abuse. Failing to prepare a child for society is a softer form of abuse, but it is still abuse. Why is this tolerated?

We lack the courage to attack this problem at its core, so instead we play these little games of throwing good money after bad.
Of course williamyard is correct when he says parents need to do their job. I have said this many times, and any sane person realizes that parents have responsibilities and one of those responsibilities is to raise their children to be good, productive citizens. If they can't do it, it's not that someone else can or will--it's that we're fucked if parents don't start parenting.

Exceptionalism Defined By Alan Grayson

Grayson slams Giuliani's claim about 'no terrorist attacks during Bush':

Hitchens Humor

Christopher Hitchens, love him or hate him, is one smart, funny, pugnacious dude. Some lighter stuff comes out of him now and again, like the following:
The Other L-Word

Since, like, the 60s, and definitely since Clueless, one word has been, like, everywhere. Hitchens examines the, like, unstoppable onslaught of “like.”

By Christopher Hitchens

January 13, 2010

When Caroline Kennedy managed to say “you know” more than 200 times in an interview with the New York Daily News, and on 130 occasions while talking to The New York Times during her uninspired attempt to become a hereditary senator, she proved, among other things, that she was (a) middle-aged and (b) middle class. If she had been a generation younger and a bit more déclassé, she would have been saying “like.” When asked if the Bush tax cuts should be repealed, she responded: “Well, you know, that’s something, obviously, that, you know, in principle and in the campaign, you know, I think that, um, the tax cuts, you know, were expiring and needed to be repealed.”

This is an example of “filler” words being used as props, to try to shore up a lame sentence. People who can’t get along without “um” or “er” or “basically” (or, in England, “actually”) or “et cetera et cetera” are of two types: the chronically modest and inarticulate, such as Ms. Kennedy, and the mildly authoritarian who want to make themselves un-interruptible. Saul Bellow’s character Ravelstein is a good example of the latter: in order to deny any opening to a rival, he says “the-uh, the-uh” while searching for the noun or concept that is eluding him.

Many parents and teachers have become irritated to the point of distraction at the way the weed-style growth of “like” has spread through the idiom of the young. And it’s true that in some cases the term has become simultaneously a crutch and a tic, driving out the rest of the vocabulary as candy expels vegetables. But it didn’t start off that way, and might possibly be worth saving in a modified form.

Its antecedents are not as ignoble as those of “you know.” It was used by the leader of the awesome Droogs in the 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess, who had possibly annexed it from the Beatnik Maynard G. Krebs, of Dobie Gillis. It was quasi-ironic in Scooby Doo by 1969, and self-satirizing by the time that Frank Zappa and Moon Unit deployed it (“Like, totally”) in their “Valley Girl” song in the early 1980s. It was then a part of the Californianization of American youth-speak. In an analysis drawing upon the wonderfully named Sonoma College linguist Birch Moonwomon's findings, Penelope Eckert and Norma Mendoza-Denton phrase matters like this: “One of the innovative developments in the white En­glish of Californians is the use of the discourse-marker ‘I’m like’ or ‘she’s like’ to introduce quoted speech, as in ‘I’m like, where have you been?’ This quotative is particularly useful because it does not require the quote to be of actual speech (as ‘she said’ would, for instance). A shrug, a sigh, or any of a number of expressive sounds as well as speech can follow it.”

So it can be of use to a natural raconteur. Ian McEwan rather surprised me when I asked him about “like,” telling me that “it can be used as a pause or a colon: very handy for spinning out a mere anecdote into a playlet that’s full of parody and speculation.” And also of hyperbole, as in “She’s been out with, like, a million guys.”

Its other main use is principally social, and defensive. You will have noticed the way in which “uptalk” has also been spreading among the young. “Uptalk” can be defined as an ostensibly declarative sentence that is uttered on a rising note of apology and that ends with an implied question mark. An example: the statement “I go to Columbia University?,” which seems to say, “If that’s all right with you.” Just as the humble, unassuming, assenting “O.K.” has deposed the more affirmative “Yes,” so the little cringe and hesitation and approximation of “like” are a help to young people who are struggling to negotiate the shoals and rapids of ethnic identity, the street, and general correctness. To report that “he was like, Yeah, whatever” is to struggle to say “He said” while minimizing the risk of commitment. (This could be why young black people don’t seem to employ “like” quite as often, having more challenging vernaculars such as “Nome sane?”—which looks almost Latin.)

The actual grammatical battle was probably lost as far back as 1954, when Winston announced that its latest smoke “tasted good, like a cigarette should.” Complaints from sticklers that this should have been “as a cigarette should” (or, in my view, “as a cigarette ought to do”) were met by a second ad in which a gray-bunned schoolmarm type was taunted by cheery consumers asking, “What do you want, good grammar or good taste?” Usage of “like” has now almost completely replaced “as,” except in the case of that other quite infectious youth expression “as if,” which would now be in danger of being rendered “Like, as if.”

How could one preserve what’s useful about “like” without allowing it to reduce everyday vocabulary and without having it weaken the two strong senses of the word, which are: to be fond of something or somebody (As You, Like, Like It) or to resemble something or somebody (“Like, Like a Virgin”)? Believe me when I say I have tried to combat it when teaching my class, and with some success (you have to talk well in order to write well, and you can’t write while using “like” as punctuation). But I realize that it can’t be expelled altogether. It can, however, be pruned and rationed, and made the object of mockery for those who have surrendered to it altogether. The restoration of the word “as,” which isn’t that hard a word to master, along with “such as,” would also be a help in varying the national lingo. A speech idiosyncrasy, in the same way as an air quote, is really justifiable only if it’s employed very sparingly and if the user consciously intends to be using it. Just to try to set an example—comparing “like” to “like,” as you might say—I have managed to write all the above without using the word once, except in inverted commas. Why not try it? You might, like, like it.


Reaction Of The Day: digby

California, the 8th largest economy in the world, is in fiscal trouble. Here are some frightening outcomes for California that seem to be headed our way:

The scary stuff from digby and her perfect reaction:
At least 200,000 children are slated to lose eligibility for Healthy Families, with that number growing to 900,000 if the program is gutted entirely.

Nearly 90 percent of the 400,000 recipients of In-Home Support Services stand to lose care under Schwarzenegger's best-case scenario, and state reimbursements to providers of those who remain would be slashed to minimum-wage levels. Otherwise, the program would be abolished, throwing 350,000 caregivers out of work.

For Medi-Cal, Schwarzenegger has proposed clamping new limits on health services while raising premiums and patient co-pays if he gets the extra federal money he wants. Medi-Cal for legal immigrants in the country less than five years would be eliminated, unless they were pregnant.

If additional federal funds fail to arrive, some 450,000 Medi-Cal recipients would be stripped of eligibility and most optional adult benefits, such as reimbursements for hearing aids and other medical equipment, would be scrapped.
All these health care programs being cut are especially worrying. These patients will logically be coming into the already stretched emergency rooms, costing far more money, so the only real purpose here must be to let them die. I can't see how it will work otherwise.

The good news, though, is that the most productive members of our society are making 8 figure bonuses this year. At least we don't have to worry that the really important people are being unfairly compensated for all their hard work, so that's good. [emphasis TFT's]

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Has 2 Paragraphs For Republicans

I was a big Lakers fan back when the Dream Team was in action. I always had a certain respect for Kareem--his intelligence, his politics, his ass-kicking round-house to the water cooler, and his goggles.

Here we have the usually quiet Kareem speaking out about Harry Reid's ill-chosen words and the Right's new-found disgust with certain terminology and racism:

Coppertone Politics

It's really interesting how the conservative movement has jumped on Harry Reid's racial observations regarding Barack Obama's candidacy. They feel that Reid made some type of faux pas. Senator Reid was making a candid observation about racial attitudes in America. For many Americans, dark skin and the Negro dialect are a definite negative when considering a political candidate. Those attributes are associated with all of the negative stereo types of blacks that have become part of America's history.

The conservatives are trying to say that those statements by Reid are the equivalent to Trent Lott's praise for the racist segregationist presidential campaign of Strom Thurmond. There is no rational way that speaking about racial attitudes that have been in play since the beginning of our nation is the equivalent of endorsing a racist presidential candidate. But the conservatives insist it's a match. Go figure. I hope Mr. Reid continues to lead the Dems successfully. The conservatives will continue to live in their fantasy world.

Those Greedy Bastards!

Health Insurers Funded Chamber Attack Ads

By Peter H. Stone

Updated at 6:45 p.m.

Just as dealings with the Obama administration and congressional Democrats soured last summer, six of the nation's biggest health insurers began quietly pumping big money into third-party television ads aimed at killing or significantly modifying the major health reform bills moving through Congress.

That money, between $10 million and $20 million, came from Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, UnitedHealth Group and Wellpoint, according to two health care lobbyists familiar with the transactions. The companies are all members of the powerful trade group America's Health Insurance Plans.

The funds were solicited by AHIP and funneled to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help underwrite tens of millions of dollars of television ads by two business coalitions set up and subsidized by the chamber. Each insurer kicked in at least $1 million and some gave multimillion-dollar donations.

Tuesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: Playing Army Edition

Tuesday Cartoon Fun: Mighty White Edition

Do You Know This Kid VIII? Updated Again

July 1934 E.E. Moore stands next to young Teddy Kennedy, who is wearing a sailor suit, in Hyannisport, July 1934. Photograph copyright the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

This photo was taken in 1934. The little fella (yes, fella) is now dead. He was quite famous. The man standing next to him was his namesake.

Update: Not even a bite yet?  Need some more hints?  Here you go:
  1. He had a famous sibling.
  2. He died recently.
  3. I think this picture was taken on the east coast of the USA.
  4. The grown-up in the photo (who is the namesake of our kid in question) was a trusted aid to the kid's father, who also may have been famous at one point.
  5. Remember, the he is a boy (they dressed funny back then).
  6. All of these hints are true, but may not be complete!
Now, let's get some guesses!

Update II: Reader "Nonny" figured it out.  She claims says she got it right away but waited for the rest of you who never guessed.  The little feller is Senator Edward Moore (Teddy) Kennedy, his namesake is E. E. Moore.

"I don't know. I don't know."

The Yes on 8 lawyer can't explain his central beef with gay marriage:
It may be that evolving “standards of decency” regarding homosexuality have given the Olson and Boies team a key advantage over its opposing counsel. Public opinion has changed enough so that many anti-gay claims can no longer be made in public. “In the early nineties, lawyers defending traditional marriage were willing to make these very broad anti-gay arguments,” Thomas Keck said, but that has become more difficult, and sometimes seems to leave advocates of traditional marriage rhetorically disarmed—especially, perhaps, in a courtroom in San Francisco.

For example, one of the arguments that the anti-gay-marriage side has increasingly turned to outside the courtroom is that allowing same-sex marriage would hurt heterosexual marriage. At the pretrial hearing, Judge Walker kept asking Charles Cooper, the lawyer defending Proposition 8, how exactly it did so. “I’m asking you to tell me,” he said at last, “how it would harm opposite-sex marriages.”

“All right,” Cooper said.

“All right,” Walker said. “Let’s play on the same playing field for once.”

There was a pause—it seemed like a long one to people in the courtroom, though it was probably only a few seconds. And Cooper said, “Your Honor, my answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know.”


For Sully

A View From A Window:

Monday Cartoon Fun: We're Atheists Edition

Ted Olson's Opening Statement At Prop 8 Trial

Sully surely will be on this, as shown by his posting of Ted Olson's opening statement. I like it! I hope Olson and Boies beat it! 
Ted Olson's Opening Statement

For the record:

This case is about marriage and equality. Plaintiffs are being denied both the right to marry, and the right to equality under the law.

The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly described the right to marriage as “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men;” a “basic civil right;” a component of the constitutional rights to liberty, privacy, association, and intimate choice; an expression of emotional support and public commitment; the exercise of spiritual unity; and a fulfillment of one’s self.

In short, in the words of the highest court in the land, marriage is “the most important relation in life,” and “of fundamental importance for all individuals.”

As the witnesses in this case will elaborate, marriage is central to life in America. It promotes mental, physical and emotional health and the economic strength and stability of those who enter into a marital union. It is the building block of family, neighborhood and community. The California Supreme Court has declared that the right to marry is of “central importance to an individual’s opportunity to live a happy, meaningful, and satisfying life as a full member of society.”

Proposition 8 ended the dream of marriage, the most important relation in life, for the plaintiffs and hundreds of thousands of Californians.

In May of 2008, the California Supreme Court concluded that under this State’s Constitution, the right to marry a person of one’s choice extended to all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation, and was available equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

In November of 2008, the voters of California responded to that decision with Proposition 8, amending the State’s Constitution and, on the basis of sexual orientation and sex, slammed the door to marriage to gay and lesbian citizens.

The plaintiffs are two loving couples, American citizens, entitled to equality and due process under our Constitution. They are in deeply committed, intimate, and longstanding relationships. They want to marry the person they love; to enter into that “most important relation in life”; to share their dreams with their partners; and to confer the many benefits of marriage on their families.

But Proposition 8 singled out gay men and lesbians as a class, swept away their right to marry, pronounced them unequal, and declared their relationships inferior and less-deserving of respect and dignity.

In the words of the California Supreme Court, eliminating the right of individuals to marry a same-sex partner relegated those individuals to “second class” citizenship, and told them, their families and their neighbors that their love and desire for a sanctioned marital partnership was not worthy of recognition.

During this trial, Plaintiffs and leading experts in the fields of history, psychology, economics and political science will prove three fundamental points:

First – Marriage is vitally important in American society.

Second – By denying gay men and lesbians the right to marry, Proposition 8 works a grievous harm on the plaintiffs and other gay men and lesbians throughout California, and adds yet another chapter to the long history of discrimination they have suffered.

Third – Proposition 8 perpetrates this irreparable, immeasurable, discriminatory harm for no good reason.



Plaintiffs will present evidence from leading experts, representing some of the finest academic institutions in this country and the world, who will reinforce what the highest courts of California and the United States have already repeatedly said about the importance of marriage in society and the significant benefits that marriage confers on couples, their families, and the community. Proponents cannot dispute these basic facts.

While marriage has been a revered and important institution throughout the history of this country and this State, it has also evolved to shed irrational, unwarranted, and discriminatory restrictions and limitations that reflected the biases, prejudices or stereotypes of the past. Marriage laws that disadvantaged women or people of disfavored race or ethnicity have been eliminated. These changes have come from legislatures and the courts. Far from harming the institution of marriage, the elimination of discriminatory restrictions on marriage has strengthened the institution, its vitality, and its importance in American society today.



Proposition 8 had a simple, straightforward, and devastating purpose: to withdraw from gay and lesbian people like the Plaintiffs their previously recognized constitutional right to marry. The official title of the ballot measure said it all: “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.”

Proponents of Proposition 8 have insisted that the persons they would foreclose from the institution of marriage have suffered no harm because they have been given the opportunity to form something called a “domestic partnership.” That is a cruel fiction.

Plaintiffs will describe the harm that they suffer every day because they are prevented from marrying. And they will describe how demeaning and insulting it can be to be told that they remain free to marry—as long, that is, that they marry someone of the opposite sex instead of the person they love, the companion of their choice.

And the evidence will demonstrate that relegating gay men and lesbians to “domestic partnerships” is to inflict upon them badges of inferiority that forever stigmatize their loving relationships as different, separate, unequal, and less worthy—something akin to a commercial venture, not a loving union. Indeed, the proponents of Proposition 8 acknowledge that domestic partnerships are not the same as traditional marriage. Proponents proudly proclaim that, under Proposition 8, the “unique and highly favorable imprimatur” of marriage is reserved to “opposite-sex unions.”

This government-sponsored societal stigmatization causes grave psychological and physical harms to gay men and lesbians and their families. It increases the likelihood that they will experience discrimination and harassment; it causes immeasurable harm.

Sadly, Proposition 8 is only the most recent chapter in our nation’s long and painful history of discrimination and prejudice against gay and lesbian individuals. They have been classified as degenerates, targeted by police, harassed in the workplace, censored, demonized, fired from government jobs, excluded from our armed forces, arrested for their private sexual conduct, and repeatedly stripped of their fundamental rights by popular vote. Although progress has occurred, the roots of discrimination run deep and its impacts spread wide.



Proposition 8 singles out gay and lesbian individuals alone for exclusion from the institution of marriage. In California, even convicted murderers and child abusers enjoy the freedom to marry. As the evidence clearly establishes, this discrimination has been placed in California’s Constitution even though its victims are, and always have been, fully contributing members of our society. And it excludes gay men and lesbians from the institution of marriage even though the characteristic for which they are targeted—their sexual orientation—like race, sex, and ethnicity, is a fundamental aspect of their identity that they did not choose for themselves and, as the California Supreme Court has found, is highly resistant to change.

The State of California has offered no justification for its decision to eliminate the fundamental right to marry for a segment of its citizens. And its chief legal officer, the Attorney General, admits that none exists. And the evidence will show that each of the rationalizations for Proposition 8 invented by its Proponents is wholly without merit.

“Procreation” cannot be a justification inasmuch as Proposition 8 permits marriage by persons who are unable or have no intention of producing children. Indeed, the institution of civil marriage in this country has never been tied to the procreative capacity of those seeking to marry.

Proposition 8 has no rational relation to the parenting of children because same-sex couples and opposite sex couples are equally permitted to have and raise children in California. The evidence in this case will demonstrate that gay and lesbian individuals are every bit as capable of being loving, caring and effective parents as heterosexuals. The quality of a parent is not measured by gender but the content of the heart.

And, as for protecting “traditional marriage,” our opponents “don’t know” how permitting gay and lesbian couples to marry would harm the marriages of opposite-sex couples. Needless to say, guesswork and speculation is not an adequate justification for discrimination. In fact, the evidence will demonstrate affirmatively that permitting loving, deeply committed, couples like the plaintiffs to marry has no impact whatsoever upon the marital relationships of others.

When voters in California were urged to enact Proposition 8, they were encouraged to believe that unless Proposition 8 were enacted, anti-gay religious institutions would be closed, gay activists would overwhelm the will of the heterosexual majority, and that children would be taught that it was “acceptable” for gay men and lesbians to marry. Parents were urged to “protect our children” from that presumably pernicious viewpoint.

At the end of the day, whatever the motives of its Proponents, Proposition 8 enacted an utterly irrational regime to govern entitlement to the fundamental right to marry, consisting now of at least four separate and distinct classes of citizens: (1) heterosexuals, including convicted criminals, substance abusers and sex offenders, who are permitted to marry; (2) 18,000 same-sex couples married between June and November of 2008, who are allowed to remain married but may not remarry if they divorce or are widowed; (3) thousands of same-sex couples who were married in certain other states prior to November of 2008, whose marriages are now valid and recognized in California; and, finally (4) all other same-sex couples in California who, like the Plaintiffs, are prohibited from marrying by Proposition 8.

There is no rational justification for this unique pattern of discrimination. Proposition 8, and the irrational pattern of California’s regulation of marriage which it promulgates, advances no legitimate state interest. All it does is label gay and lesbian persons as different, inferior, unequal, and disfavored. And it brands their relationships as not the same, and less-approved than those enjoyed by opposite sex couples. It stigmatizes gays and lesbians, classifies them as outcasts, and causes needless pain, isolation and humiliation.

It is unconstitutional.

How The Middle Class Will Pay For Health Care Reform

By Robert Reich:
The Last Big Question: Will Health Care Reform Be Paid For By The Rich or the Middle Class?

Monday, January 11, 2010

There’s only one big remaining issue on health care reform: how to pay for it. The House wants a 5.4 percent surtax on couples earning at least $1 million in annual income. The Senate wants a 40 percent excise tax on employer-provided “Cadillac plans.” The Senate will win on this unless the public discovers that a large portion of the so-called Cadillacs are really middle-class Chevys, expensive not because they deliver more benefits but because they have higher costs.

The dirty little secret under the hood is that less than 4 percent of the variation in the cost of current health-care plans has to do with how many benefits they provide. Most plans that cost more do so because (1) a particular set of employees is older and tends to get sicker than the average set of employees (that’s true for a lot of old rust-belt firms), (2) the plan is offered by a small business that lacks bargaining clout with insurers (small businesses pay, on average, 16 percent more for the health insurance they provide, per capita), (3) the work that employees do subjects them to greater risk of medical problems (health-care workers, for example), or (4) most employees are women (who tend to have higher health-care costs than men because women are the ones who bear children). Plans could also cost more but deliver average benefits because (5) insurers in the area don’t face much competition (one main reason for the public option).

So by taxing so-called Cadillac plans, the Senate bill would actually end up taxing the Chevy plans of a large portion of the middle class. And as time goes by, a still larger portion, since the Senate plan is geared to the overall rate of inflation rather than to the (much higher) rate of increases in health-care costs.

Defenders of the Senate plan say not to worry. Employers who bear the tax and therefore have an incentive to cut back on health care for their employees will make it up to employees in higher wages. But anyone taking even a passing glance at today’s labor market knows this is wishful thinking. Employers have no incentive to raise wages when almost everyone is worried about keeping their jobs. (Besides, a dollar’s worth of tax-free health benefit is worth more than a taxable dollar of wages.)

In any event, I thought a major purpose of health-care reform was to get more care to more people, not to cut it back. Even employees who get extra dollars of wages to make up for the cutbacks won’t necessarily plow those wages back into health care.

Some say the Senate’s excise tax is the only way to control long-term health care costs. Baloney. If a portion of the middle class loses their health care, they won’t get the preventive care that’s so crucial to containing long-term costs. If Congress wanted to do more cost containment it would allow Medicare and Medicaid to use their huge bargaining power to get lower costs from pharmaceutical makers and medical suppliers. And it would have a public option to compete with private insurers.

Of course, we’re playing with probabilities here. No one knows exactly what will happen when the Senate excise tax hits — how many employers will cut back coverage without raising wages to compensate, how many middle class people will be hit hard by this, how many who do get higher wages will use them to buy health care, including preventive care.

But why even take these chances when the House bill simply and cleanly goes after the top 1 percent? It’s not as if couples earning over a million can’t afford to pay the tax. When I last looked, the top 1 percent was taking home a record 23 percent of total income. If anything, the Great Recession is widening the gap. It’s bonus time on Wall Street again. But the middle class is taking a beating.

This is the last big fight on health care reform. It’s being fought right now. Make your voice heard.

Mark McGwire Used Steroids

Really? He came clean so he could restore his image now that he is back in baseball. Jerk.

Krashen's Open Letter To Congress Re: LEARN Act

The LEARN Act promotes direct instruction at the expense of education. Sure, good teachers use all different kinds of techniques and tools in a day of teaching. All this scripting and removing of the human component means we are growing robots, not people. Thank goodness for the Stephen Krashens, the Deb Meiers, the Jim Horns, and the rest who keep the eduformers somewhat honest.

This is long, so I have chopped it (just read the rest when the time comes).
January 11, 2007

Senators Murray, Franken, Brown, Boxer, Feinstein Representatives Polis, Yarmouth, Miller, Waxman

Dear Members of Congress:

The Congress will soon vote on the LEARN Act (Senate Bill 2740, House Bill 4037). Enclosed are some documents outlining my concerns with LEARN. I tried to make them as straight-forward as possible.

The conclusions are simple: The core element of LEARN, namely the emphasis on "direct instruction" of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text structure, is not supported by scientific research. The research shows again and again that we acquire our competence in literacy through wide, extensive reading, which has been marginalized in LEARN.

The documents also comment on the fact that LEARN opens the door to an unprecedented amount of testing, a very bad idea at a time when children are already over-tested, when our schools have been turned into test-prep factories, and when our budgets are strained.

I conclude with some simple suggestions for improving education that cost far less than what LEARN calls for.

1. LEARN Introduction
2. LEARN and Phonemic Awareness
3. LEARN and Phonics
4. LEARN and Vocabulary
5. LEARN and Text Structure
6. LEARN and Testing
7. LEARN Recommendations


Stephen Krashen, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern Californa

1. Comments on the LEARN Act:


I do not support the LEARN Act. As described in the Senate Bill, the LEARN Act is Reading First expanded to all levels. It is Reading First on steroids.

The approach required by LEARN for K-3 is identical to the five "essential components" of the National Reading Panel: "systematic, and explicit instruction in phonological awareness, phonic decoding, vocabulary, reading fluency, and reading comprehension."

The conclusions of the panel were thoroughly criticized by some of the most respected scholars in the field. The same five components became the foundation of Reading First, which failed every empirical test (e.g. Krashen, 2006, 2007, 2008).

To make matters worse, LEARN presents the same philosophy of literacy development for grades 4- 12: "direct and explicit instruction that builds academic vocabulary and strategies and knowledge of text structure for reading different kinds of texts within and across core academic subjects."

LEARN thus assumes that direct instruction is the only way children become literate, that "The intellectual and linguistic skills necessary for writing and reading must be developed through explicit, intentional, and systematic language activities" and assumes that there is no contrary view.

There is massive evidence that this approach is incorrect, as I will show in subsequent sections of this report. Even if it were valid, however, it is not at all clear that a certain methodology or theory should be enforced in the schools by law.

LEARN also endorses excessive testing, requiring "diagnostic, formative and summative assessments at all levels." This is an astonishing requirement at a time when children are already overwhelmed with tests, when schools are being turned into test-prep academies, and when education is facing severe budget cuts. It also presumes that we do not trust our teachers to evaluate their students (see LEARN and Testing).

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