The sheer number of patents in the U.S. is fueling frivolous litigation and drastic action is needed to make patents more difficult to obtain and easier to invalidate, U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit said Tuesday. > more ... (0 comments)
On Amazon.com two days ago, mysteriously, the sales rankings disappeared from two newly-released high profile gay romance books: “Transgressions” by Erastes and “False Colors” by Alex Beecroft. Everybody was perplexed. Was it a glitch of some sort? The very next day HUNDREDS of gay and lesbian books simultaneously lost their sales rankings, including my book “The Filly.” There was buzz, What’s going on? Does Amazon have some sort of campaign to suppress the visibility of gay books?Lest you think it’s just gay romance novels that lost their rank, the pogrom also purged a lot of award-winning gay-related nonfiction as well, including “Becoming a Man” by Paul Monette, which won the 1992 National Book Award, “Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America” by Nathanial Frank and a biography of Ellen Degeneres. Check out Jezebel for a more fulsome list of the books that suffered the Ultimate Amazon Punishment.
It just goes to show you that society is perfectly happy to let the degenerate gays live their lives as long as they relegate themselves to bathhouses, beauty parlors and florist shops. People only become forced to denounce the gays when they actually step out from the shadows, ridiculously try to assert that they’re a Normal part of every facet of our daily existence and demand equal treatment under the law. Why aren’t those horrible, prancing gays more discrete? Why are they always “flaunting” their sexuality? Why can’t they have the decency to just LIE about who they really are? Why don’t they all just crawl into a glory hole in San Francisco and leave the respectable, moral people in society to live their lives in peace?
Update: Ok, my last paragraph is a bit breathless but it bubbled up from a really serious resentment that I hold in my heart. Too much inane shit — like this boneheaded move by Amazon — happens on a daily basis in people’s lives that gets no publicity whatsoever. And it all goes unnoticed or unappreciated because Normal straight society pats itself on the back that they’ve oh-so-magnanimously granted the Gays a restricted license to generally walk free in polite society without too much of a threat of violence or too much of a threat of on-the-job retaliation. It all just makes me so sick and tired that something so fucking innocuous as people choosing to love someone of the same gender has evoked so much blood and pain throughout our history as a “civilization”. To think that this oh-so-enlightened country stood by our ever-modern Muslim allies during the Bush years in refusing to sign a U.N. declaration calling for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality… It really speaks volumes about us as a “civilized country” when our President stood alongside fucking Saudi Arabia in opposition to the simple proposition that people shouldn’t be criminally prosecuted for being gay. Oops, I’m rambling…
Update 2: Ok, ok, so this is my High Gay Dudgeon post for the day. At least frothing gay hater James Dobson threw in the towel and dejectedly admitted that he lost the culture war that he helped unleash upon millions of innocent gay people:
Let’s all take a moment and hope that, for him, the Hell he believes in actually does exist — because at least then we’d have some comfort that he’d actually be punished for all the evil he was responsible for in this world. He’d have good company down there — Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms are waiting.
James Dobson, 72, who resigned recently as head of Focus on the Family — one of the largest Christian groups in the country — and once denounced the Harry Potter books as witchcraft, acknowledged the dramatic reverse for the religious Right in a farewell speech to staff.
“We tried to defend the unborn child, the dignity of the family, but it was a holding action,” he said.
“We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles.”
The occasion of Dobson’s resignation somehow reminds me of a quote I once read:
“In all men is evil sleeping; the good man is he who will not awaken it, in himself or in other men.” – Mary RenaultUpdate 3: In the interest of fairness, I should point out that an Amazon spokesman has now claimed that the purges were there result of a mysterious “glitch”. Not like anyone in corporate PR would say anything other than that, but it’s something.
Update 4: In the interest of more fairness, LiveJournal blogger tehdely has a very interesting theory on how this all may have come about. In essence, his hypothesis is that this whole thing may have been a stealth campaign by religious zealot trolls to flag any gay-related books on Amazon as “Adult”. If true, this would not be a “glitch” (i.e., “A fault or defect in a computer program, system, or machine”) but rather an abuse of Amazon’s technology.
I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that many so-called conservative Christians defend so virulently the notion that Americans should be given free reign to covet and amass hugely disproportionate fortunes in finance by gaming the system, especially in the face of so much Biblical scripture and doctrine that speaks forcefully about the evils of unchecked greed and avarice. These are the same conservative Christians that are able to turn on a dime and spend huge amounts of time and anger frothing at the mouth about sins like homosexuality, which Jesus himself never even bothered to mention.
As a random blogger I came across noted:
When Jesus tossed over tables in the temple, he hadn’t just stumbled into an abortion clinic. He didn’t happen upon a homosexual tryst. He reacted in holy anger because he had walked into a cesspool of greed.Say what you will about the fundamentally ludicrous tenets of religion, the thing that really gets to me about all of this is the cafeteria approach to the beliefs they claim to hold (i.e. “Well, today I’ll have the anti-gay-marriage salad, stem-cell parfait and a diet coke, but please hold the deadly-sin-of-greed garnish, sex-before-marriage breadsticks and bearing-false-witness lemon squares.”). It would be one thing if they actually believed in what their religion taught, but it’s quite another when they choose what to defend or get worked up about based on where their darts happened to end up on the Pick Your Christian Beliefs(TM) dartboard.
In fact, you can make a strong argument based on the full context of the Biblical narrative that Jesus was far more gracious and compassionate toward the woman caught in adultery than to the Pharisees and Sadducees whom he once called “vipers” or toward the money changers he saw cashing in on the floor of His father’s temple.
* When I say “greed”, I don’t generally mean enjoying the rewards that come along with hard, productive work. What I mean is the rampant, obsessive, predatory avarice that came to dominate Wall Street, which Matt Yglesias describes so well in his post, The Value of Finance.
Just in case you had any illusions about whether the GOP was interested in serious governance, please allow them to settle your mind on that score:
As Steve Benen notes:
[Republican Rep. Peter] Hoekstra last week introduced a bill in the House to amend the U.S. Constitution to permanently “enshrine” in American society an inviolable set of parents’ rights. The bill had 70 co-sponsors, all Republicans, including Minority Whip Eric Cantor and Minority Leader John A. Boehner.
The bill, said Hoekstra, is intended to stem the “slow erosion” of parents’ rights and to circumvent the effects of a United Nations treaty he believes “clearly undermines parental rights in the United States.”
The treaty to which he refers is the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, a 20-year-old document signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995 but never ratified. The treaty sets international standards for government obligations to children in areas that range from protection from abuse and exploitation to ensuring a child’s right to free expression.
The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, especially controversial. In fact, there are a grand total of two countries in the U.N. that have not ratified the treaty — Somalia and the United States. Both President Obama and Ambassador Susan Rice have stated publicly they’d like to see this change.
But this, in turn, has only encouraged far-right Republican lawmakers and their allies to push a new constitutional amendment to protect “parental rights” from protections for children. One GOP activist, Michael Farris, who helped craft Hoekstra’s proposed constitutional amendment, said the right of parents to “administer reasonable spankings to their children” must be protected.
I am nonplussed. I thought the GOP leadership in was deathly afraid of us getting too distracted from the serious economic crisis we are facing, which they are totally, 100% super serious about addressing. I, for one, applaud the GOP (and our Somali brothers) for standing up for the right to belt your child, against every other member of the United Nations.
Daniel Larison comes up with the best formulation I’ve seen in a while to describe the difference between a realist and an ideologue:
The way to tell an ideologue from a realist, and the reason realists are not simply ideologues posing as something else, is that the ideologue will persist in a course of action long after it has failed and long after everyone knows it has failed because he thinks that his “values” demand it. Instead of “let justice be done, though the heavens fall,” the ideologue says, “I am right, and the world can go to hell if it doesn’t agree.” The ideologue is terrified of having to make adjustments and adapt to the world as it really is, because these adjustments reveal to the ideologue just how far removed from that reality he has become. The ideologue keeps redefining the justification for the policy, he keeps rewriting history to suit his own purposes, and he never accepts responsibility for the failure of his ideas, because he believes they have never been faithfully followed. For the realist, cutting one’s losses and reassessing the merits of a policy are always supposed to be possibilities, but for the ideologue the former is equivalent to surrender and the latter is inconceivable.His post has the added benefit of taking the Doughy Pantload down a few pegs. Bonus!
Just a point of personal privilege. Bill Maher is licking Ron Howard’s sack right now about his directing of The Da Vinci Code. Leaving aside how much the story pissed off the Catholic Church (which is great), the silver screen adaptaption of The Da Vinci Code was a really shitty movie. To think that it made $760 million just boggles the mind. It just goes to show you that a shitty movie with a clever premise can sop up the dollars from the unsuspecting public like nothing otherwise imaginable. Feh.
I recently received a message from a friend from law school in response to a series of posts I’ve been exchanging with some Facebook friends on the topic of how our political beliefs have changed and how we view the modern GOP.
I wrote a long reply (which I’ve copied in and cleaned up below), which expands on some of the themes I touched on in my earlier post, The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Today’s GOP. I decided not to post in his original message but I think you’ll be able to follow my thinking without reference to it.
Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful message on the subject. I’ve been pondering it for a bit now and wanted to take the time to sit down and write out a worthy reply.
First of all, I’m glad to see that the last eight years have also led you to a crisis of faith. I consider it to be a leading indicator of wisdom to be able to question and abandon views and movements that prove to be on the wrong course. So, for this, I salute you.
As a general matter, when reading your message and thinking about it later on, I kept coming back to the idea of faith. This is pretty strange coming from me, considering that I’m a rabid antitheist, although I really shouldn’t say that because, of course, “faith” exists outside the confines of religion, but it’s still pretty remarkable that the key concept I keep coming back to is faith.
I’d first like to address this point:
“If you believe President Obama is deploying the correct strategy to combat the economic crisis, doesn’t it follow that you have evolved away from fiscally conservative economic principals that I imagine drew you to the Republican party at some point?“To be honest with you, i really don’t know whether Obama is deploying the correct strategy to combat the economic crisis. At one time, a tenet of my “faith” was that, generally speaking, less regulation, lower taxes, free enterprise, constrained spending (etc., etc.) were the proper prescriptions in order to support the health of our economy. I considered myself right-of-center on economic issues and well left-of-center on social issues (ergo the tag I generally used to describe myself was ‘libertarian’). I generally didn’t place too much emphasis on social issues because i subscribed to the notion that the right changes would come over time as the calcified elderly in our society died off.
I describe the above as a “tenet of my faith” because ultimately that was what it was: faith. It was not informed by a personal expertise in economics, it was informed by reading various sources who claimed to know what they were talking about and synthesizing it into my own fundamental set of tenets.
And here we come to the “crisis of faith”. The last eight years we spent under republican rule, with the almost wholesale implementation of every tenet of the conservative faith, was a catastrophic and unmitigated disaster. It is difficult to find one metric that paints the state of the country in a better position when Bush left office compared to when he came into office.
Bush and his Republican enablers in Congress presided over the largest expansion in government spending since the great depression. And, more importantly, Bush became the first President in American history to cut taxes during a time of war. Never before in our country’s history has our government decided to drain the country of tax revenue at the one fundamental time when the government unequivocally needs such revenue! There is no greater responsibility, and no greater demand on the federal treasury, than the need to support the active military operations we decide to enter into (whether such wars are justified or not). Yes, I realize that Bush and his criminally incompetent cronies thought that the wars would be a “cake walk”, that we would be “greeted as liberators”, and would probably be over in just a few short months, which would thereby negate the reckless decision to drain the treasury of revenue because, after all, it wouldn’t cost very much because it would all be over soon!
So do I have faith that Obama has all the right answers? I do not. I don’t have a lot of faith in any economic theories at the moment right now. What i do know, however, is that many of the economic theories of the conservative movement have proven themselves to be unmitigated disasters. No, I do not have faith in the laffer curve (i.e., cutting taxes produces more revenue). No, i do not have faith that slashing regulation of the financial industry will lead to lasting prosperity and growth.
As for the things I do believe at the moment, which form the basis of my newly crafted “faith”, here is a sampling.
I believe that the Phil Gramm-led repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act was one of the largest factors in creating monstrous financial institutions that became too big to fail, which ultimately required trillions of dollars of our hard-earned tax money to be given to them as bailouts.
I believe that Bush was the worst criminal to inhabit the oval office in at least the last century (Monica Lewinsky and Watergate pale in comparison to the politicization of the Justice Department and the indiscriminate torture of detainees in U.S. custody).
I believe that Bush and the Republican leadership of the last eight years are guilty of at least gross negligence and incompetence when it comes to the management and stewardship of our country and our economy.
I believe that most of the problems that Obama is being forced to deal with right now were created by the criminality and mismanagement of the country during the Bush years.
I believe that certain conservative economic precepts (such as restrained spending, balanced budgets, less statism, etc.) still have some merit, yet are generally not appropriate during a severe recession in which consumer spending has cratered and banks are not lending to small businesses.
I believe that it is largely unfair to blame Obama for the spending that he is being forced to undertake in order to bring the federal government back from the edge of the cliff it was pushed onto by Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress. It is as if an arsonist mayor spent eight years burning down a city block and then the city council complains that the new mayor is asking the council for money to rebuild.
On to a few closing points with regard the the following excerpts from your email:
“The President will need to raise taxes on the highest earners and probably the middle class, too, to pay off his recent stimulus and budget.”I agree with you that we will likely need to raise taxes. I encourage you, however, to include the last eight years in your analysis of why this was warranted. In my view, Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress wrecked the country to such an extent they left Obama with a gaping, smoking crater on the day he took office. From just a simple arithmetic perspective, let me again highlight that Bush cut taxes (thereby leaving a gaping hole in government revenue) for the first time in American history during a time of war. By cutting taxes at a time when they should have either stayed stable or risen, Bush made the explicit decision to pass on the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the next President and our children and grandchildren.
“I just feel like we’ve gotten ourselves into a hole that will require years of heavy taxation and a declining dollar to dig out of.”
Although I believe there is merit in cutting taxes when times are good in order to disincentivize government waste, I also believe (and this isn’t just dewy-eyed naivete) that it is our patriotic duty to pay taxes into a progressive tax system, especially when we are in a time of grave peril with two foreign wars and an economy teetering on the brink. One of the precepts of conservative dogma that I never signed on to (which, as an aside, every notable leader of the Republican party currently does sign on to) is that tax increases are never warranted under any circumstances. Because Bush blasted a crater in government revenue with his reckless and poorly targeted tax cuts and his spending like a drunken sailor on things like a horribly designed medicare prescription drug benefit that just poured money into the pockets of the drug companies, I believe that the only responsible thing to do right now is to reverse some of the bush tax cuts. I will probably sign off on another tax increase down the road if it is warranted.
Great to hear from you again, and great to see that you had the presence of mind, and the wisdom, to see at least some of the horrors of the last eight years for what they were.
Update: Just to highlight why I have zero faith in conservative economic philosophy right now, consider this:
Though economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin spent the 2008 presidential campaign advising Sen. John McCain to defend the massive Bush tax cuts, he now thinks they should be allowed to expire at the end of 2010 due to “the prospect of an Argentina-style fiscal meltdown.”In essence, Holtz-Eakin is saying that unless we allow the Bush tax cuts to expire (i.e., “raise taxes” in current GOP parlance), we will find ourselves in financial armageddon (i.e., a disaster like what happened in Argentina) because we don’t (and won’t) have enough tax revenue to cover the immense crater that Bush left us with.
Said Holtz-Eakin: “If you ask: ‘Who pays the taxes?’, it’s the first step toward not having the answer be: ‘Our kids.’”
The second part is particularly poignant — it’s either the people of today who are going to pay it, or we can just punt it down the road to our kids. All this from the mouth of McCain’s biggest champion of More Tax Cuts NOW! If you can explain the words coming out a particular side of this guy’s mouth, please do let me know.
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