Thursday, May 23, 2013
One of my nephews is getting married this weekend in the Washington, D.C. area. The bride and groom to be are pictured above. Both the wedding and where the boyfriend and I will be staying are in Alexandria, but I am sure we will venture into the District to enjoy some of the gay night spots and attractions. Fortunately, one of the boyfriend's long time clients and one of our personal friends (she and her husband are the friends who hosted us back in February at their beautiful home in Lighthouse Point, Florida) will be loaning us her town house in Old Town Alexandria for the weekend. The wedding itself will be at River Farm, formerly a portion of the Mt. Vernon estate, which is owned by the American Horticultural Society and overlooks the Potomac River. It is a popular wedding venue in the Washington, D.C., area. Photos of River farm are set out below. It will be nice to see family members, including my nephew who is in the Peace Corps in Panama but back for the wedding.
While we are gone, the boyfriend's dad will baby sit the dogs the Terry McAuliffe staffer who we are housing for the coming months will look after the house. In terms of blogging, I will put up as much material as time allows.
For history buffs, here is information via Wikipedia:
The River Farm property was established in 1653-54 by Giles Brent and his wife, a princess of the Piscataway tribe, who received a grant of 1,800 acres (7.3 km2) named Piscataway Neck. In 1739 the land was passed from George Brent to brother-in-law, William Clifton who renamed the property Clifton's Neck. In 1757 Clifton completed the brick house that now serves as AHS headquarters. Following financial difficulties, Clifton sold the land to neighbor George Washington, who obtained the property for £1,210 through a bankruptcy sale in 1760. Washington changed the name of Clifton's Neck to River Farm and leased the property to tenant farmers. River Farm was passed down through two immediate generations of Washingtons and later sold with 652 arces of Washington's original land to the Snowden brothers of New Jersey. The property was home to numerous owners including Malcolm Matheson, who bought the property in 1919. Matheson placed the property on the market in 1971 and received an offer from the Soviet Embassy who planned to use the land as a retreat or dacha for its staff. The public opposed this purchase which resulted in the AHS acquisition of the property.
And for those who read the first post of the day, yes, I am doing better.
Just as the American authorities had to answer why one of the Boston Marathon bombers had slipped through their scrutiny, now MI5 and other British authorities are having to answer why one of the terrorists who literally butchered a British soldier (the victim is shown above on his wedding day) was not in custody. Apparently, just as is the case with the City of Norfolk with the thugs terrorizing the neighborhood where my residence in Norfolk is located, UK security forces were more solicitous of the rights of the trouble maker/terrorist than they were of the rights and safety of law abiding citizens. I'm not in favor of throwing away constitutional rights, but at some point there needs to be a balance that protects the law abiding from those who act little better than vicious, rabid animals. Something is seriously wrong both here in America and in the UK. The Telegraph looks at the questions swirling in the UK. Here are excerpts:
Michael Adebolajo, 28, was the man videoed by witnesses with his hands red with blood following the killing of the soldier, who was named as Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, the father of a two-year-old son.
David Cameron said there would be a full investigation by the Security and Intelligence Committee after it emerged that both of the attackers were known to the police and MI5, but neither was assessed as a major security risk.The Telegraph has learnt that six years ago Adebolajo was arrested after being involved in violent protests by extremists outside the Old Bailey. He was a regular member of a small group of hardcore fanatics who regularly protested alongside some of Britain’s most notorious hate clerics. He was seen preaching anti-Western rhetoric in Woolwich as recently as last week. At one stage he is believed to have tried to travel to Somalia to join the terrorist network Al-Shabaab, but was forced to return to Britain.
The disclosure of his close association with some of Britain’s most notorious Islamic extremists is likely to raise further questions about why he was not deemed a serious threat by the security services.
The second attacker has not been identified but investigators are examining whether he had a criminal past.
Drummer Rigby, of 2nd Bn The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was run over and attacked with knives and cleavers as he walked back to barracks in Woolwich, south-east London on Wednesday afternoon. Known as “Riggers”, he was praised by his colleagues as a “true warrior” who had served in Afghanistan, Cyprus and Germany, and by his family as a loving father to his son, Jack.
Of course, the bigger question is when the Hell is religion - be it Christianity or Islam - going to stop being afforded special deference, privileges and exceptions to hate speech? Religion simply deserves no respect or deference. Religion through the centuries has been a pernicious evil. When will the larger public say "enough" and start treating extremists be they ones like the killers in London or GOP nominees Ken Cuccinelli and E. W. Jackson like the potentially dangerous purveyors of hate that they are?
As the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy continues its relentless anti-gay jihad against normal, well adjusted gays, it continues to hemorrhage money in court settlements arising from pedophiles and psycho-sexually stunted priests who abused children and youths. One would think that at some point the bitter old men in dresses would figure out that their twin obsessions - priestly celibacy and condemnation of all things sexual - is going to end up bankrupting the Church. The latest blow to the Church's image - no pun intended - arises from the Cristian Brothers order which filed bankruptcy in order to try to stop the financial hemorrhaging. Here are highlights from the Chicago Tribune:
An order of the Roman Catholic Church has agreed to pay $16.5 million to more than 400 adults who said they were sexually abused as children by religious leaders, the parties announced on Thursday in separate statements.
The victims claimed abuse at schools and child-care facilities belonging to the Christian Brothers and the Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc, in 17 U.S. states and Canada from the late 1940s or early 1950s until the 1980s, said James Stang, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs.
The settlement agreement reached in U.S. bankruptcy court also enables the victims to pursue more assets from the Christian Brothers such as real estate or insurance claims, Stang said.
In 2011, the Christian Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in response to the sexual abuse claims.
Both sides noted the agreement establishes safeguards to protect children from future abuse.
Note that it is the terms of the settlement, not a plan advanced by Rome which will help insure that children and youths are protected from abuse in the future. I ask again, how can anyone truly moral remain a Catholic? Little or nothing has changed.
The Boy Scouts of America's leadership will vote today on whether or not to allow openly gay youth to be members. Even if this proposal passes, it seems likely that once one reaches the age of majority, one will be kicked to the curb as if somehow one magically turns into a pedophile upon turning 18. It goes without saying that Christofascist organizations and the ever familiar anti-gay hate groups are pulling out the stops on their lobbying the Boy Scouts' leadership to maintain anti-gay discrimination across the spectrum. I ceased giving any financial support to scouting some years ago and when I do see scouts fundraising, I make a point of telling the adult supervisors that I'd like to make a donation but cannot do so because of the organization's bigoted policy. A piece in the Virginian Pilot looks at the coming vote today. Here are highlights:
The Boy Scouts of America's national leadership will vote Thursday whether to allow openly gay Scouts in its ranks, a critical and emotionally charged moment for one of the nation's oldest youth organizations and its millions of members.About 1,400 voting members of BSA's national council are to cast ballots Thursday on a resolution that would end a policy that allows youth Scouts to be excluded based only on sexual orientation. The ban on gay adult leaders would remain in place.
While the meeting was closed to the public, it was closely watched by supporters and opponents of a change. Both sides on Wednesday made a final effort to explain their positions. Gay-rights supporters and others who want the policy changed held a summit at a nearby resort, while opponents held signs on the street next to the entrance and a rally nearby.The results are expected to be announced shortly after 5 p.m. CDT Thursday.BSA has faced mounting pressure over its exclusion policy as public opinion toward gays and gay marriage continues to evolve. Obama called on the Scouts to reverse the ban before a national executive board meeting in February, and two high-profile board members - the CEOs of AT&T and Ernst & Young - said they would work from within to change the policy.The national executive board decided instead to leave the final decision to a vote of the national council, and BSA launched a listening tour of surveys and focus groups. BSA President Wayne Perry called on voters to approve the resolution overturning the ban, in an opinion piece for USA Today published online Wednesday.Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions. While these sponsors include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban - notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in April that it supports the new proposal. Leaders of some smaller, conservative denominations have opposed it."Ultimately we can't anticipate how people will vote but we do know that the result will not match everyone's personal preference," said Deron Smith, BSA's national spokesman.
As long as any kind of gay ban remains, the Boy Scouts will not see a penny from me.
The Republican Party of Virginia's nomination of a slate of extremists for its state wide ticket last weekend is drawing a great deal of media attention to Virginia, most of it negative. One can't help but wonder what progressive business would want to consider relocating to Virginia as the utter batshitery of Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson and Mark Obenshain gets increasingly disseminated across the country and world. The one irony is that all the attention is ruining Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli's effort to avoid social issues in his campaign to dupe voters into believing that his not a religious extremist. An article in Politico looks at how the campaign season may shape up and how Virginia is suddenly a gay rights battle ground. Here are article excerpts:
Welcome to the gay rights battleground of Virginia. Yes, you read that right. In the 2013 off-year elections, a state that once leaned solidly to the center-right has become the newest focal point in the national debate over same-sex relationships. A gubernatorial race already defined partly along culture-war lines has grown even more contentious since last weekend, when Virginia Republicans nominated as their lieutenant governor candidate a firebrand minister who has called gays “very sick people psychologically” and suggested a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia.
Remarkably, in a New South battleground where Democrats have traditionally won by carving out independent, non-partisan reputations, it’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe who’s most eager to keep gay rights on the political front burner.
After Republicans nominated Rev. E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor at their state convention last weekend, the Virginia Democratic Party held a conference call – led by openly gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin – to accuse the GOP ticket of representing “the biases of the past.” McAuliffe’s campaign issued a statement Wednesday charging that the gay-rights views of Jackson and GOP gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli were “divisive,” “dangerous” and bad for business.
Gone, in other words, is the conventional Southern Democratic playbook of running away from the national party on culture. Encouraged by last year’s joint victories by Sen. Tim Kaine and President Barack Obama, Democrats argue this is simply The Way We Live Now in Virginia.
Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee said the fundamentals of Virginia’s cultural politics have changed so sharply that it makes sense for the party to trumpet cultural views that appeal to the state’s increasingly urban and diverse population.
The McAuliffe campaign’s research backs up that assessment, according to multiple operatives involved in the race, who see Cuccinelli and Jackson’s culture-warrior history as a valuable tool for motivating low-turnout Democrats in the off-cycle campaign.
Democratic polls and focus groups have consistently found that voters react with horror to a 2008 statement by Cuccinelli that the “homosexual agenda” brings about “nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul,” as well as to Cuccinelli’s opposition to public universities including gay-rights protections in their anti-discrimination policies.
One private Democratic poll taken last month showed that 81 percent of targeted young voters – aged 18 to 29 – called that information a “very strong reason to vote against” Cuccinelli. A March focus group of middle-class, Democratic-leaning women in Virginia Beach found Cuccinelli’s quote about the “homosexual agenda” similarly powerful.
University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato said that “twenty years have made a world of difference” in Virginia politics, as far as which side of the cultural divide is safer for statewide candidates.
“The gay rights issue here is emblematic. In the Old Dominion, a party associated with gay rights would be headed for a tumble. Now, it’s exactly the opposite. A sizeable majority in Purple Virginia do not consider the anti-gay views of Cuccinelli and Jackson to be acceptable,” Sabato said. “It’s old versus new. If the Democrats had a nominee like Tim Kaine, this contest would be over.”
Republicans have responded to the emergence of Jackson with reactions that range from cautious to downright critical.
On the Democratic side, too, there’s a recognition that the social-issue message will only be effective if voters believe it’s tied directly to their daily lives. Some voters may turn out simply to send a message to a politician they view as bigoted. But more will turn out and vote if McAuliffe and the rest of the Democratic ticket successfully argue that right-wing cultural views – embodied most vividly by Jackson – will cost Virginia jobs.
Yesterday we saw Islamic barbarism in London. Last weekend we saw what was likely the result of Christofascist barbarism when a gay man was shot to death in New York City's West Village. Clerics of both religions preach hate and violence. Muslim leaders in the United Kingdom are thankfully speaking out against yesterday's barbaric murder in London. But here in America hate merchants like E.W. Jackson, Republican nominee for Lt. Governor refuses to apologize for his extremist rhetoric. Sadly, few Christian leaders have denounced Jackson. The bigger question for adherents of both religions is what will they do beside talk? Will they confront jihadists and extremists like Jackson? Will they go on an offensive against their foul co-coreligionists? Or will they act like the "good Germans" and after perhaps a few words yield the field to the hate merchants? My money is unfortunately on the latter. It's a cynical view, but realistic when one looks at the fruits of both Christianity and Islam over the centuries: wars of religin, endless bloodshed, hatred and persecution of others. Yesterday's murder victim is just the latest death in the countless millions who have died because of hate based religious belief. Andrew Sullivan summarizes yesterday's horror in London:
The monster who paraded around on the street after hacking a soldier to pieces is chilling in many ways. But everything points to a religious act of terror, motivated by the same Jihadist rage that captured the Tsarnaev brothers. For these men, “our land” is not Britain; it is the land of Islam in their minds. . . . . this was a religious sacrificial murder, authorized by God in the eyes of the killers.
Sadly, Andrew fails to acknowledge that hatred is not unique to Islam. Here in Virginia the GOP has just nominated a trio of hate merchants motivated by religious fervor. The face of E. W. Jackson below is different from the London murderers only by degree. In both instances, the poison of religion is what powers the hatred and language that fuels violence. Huffington Post looks at Jackson's refusal to rescind and of his awful statements:
The Virginia Republican Party took a post-convention victory lap on Tuesday in a parking lot outside gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli's headquarters. While the gatherers had come to propel the top of the ticket to a November victory, it was Cuccinelli's newly minted sidekick who stole the show.
Jackson made no attempt to soften the edges on Tuesday, despite whispers from Virginia Republicans that his selection may doom Cuccinelli's chances. Instead, Jackson charged forward with gusto.
"I don't have anything to rephrase or to apologize for," Jackson told reporters.
For those new to the blog, here are a few of the statements that Jackson feels no need to apologize for:
E.W. Jackson: Gay People Are "Perverted" And "Very Sick." In October 2012, Right Wing Watch reported about E.W. Jackson's appearance on a radio show with Peter LaBarbera and John Kirkwood. Jackson said about gays and lesbians: "Their minds are perverted, they're frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they're not talking about love, they're talking about homosexual sex. So they can't see clearly." [Right Wing Watch, 10/25/12]
E.W. Jackson: Homosexuality "Destroys Families, It Destroys Societies; It Brings The Judgment Of God." In October 2012, Right Wing Watch reported about E.W. Jackson's appearance on a radio show with Peter LaBarbera and John Kirkwood. Jackson said: "Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of." [Right Wing Watch, 10/25/12] E.W. Jackson: Homosexuality Tries To "Poison" And "Sexualize" Children. In October 2012, Right Wing Watch reported about E.W. Jackson's appearance on a radio show with Peter LaBarbera and John Kirkwood. Jackson said of homosexuality: "Look, it also attempts to poison our children, divide them from their parents and the teaching of the church and basically turn them into pawns for that movement so that they can sexualize them at the earliest possible age. It really is insidious and I agree with you, it is a super sin." [Right Wing Watch, 10/25/12]
E.W. Jackson: Gays And Lesbians "Want To Destroy" Culture; Said They Were Forcing Christians To Change Their Beliefs. In October 2012, Right Wing Watch reported about E.W. Jackson's appearance on a radio show with Peter LaBarbera and John Kirkwood. Jackson said of homosexuality: "They've got to transform the culture in order to make their lifestyles fully acceptable to everyone. I used two words to describe what they're trying to do: authoritarian and totalitarian, and I believe that. I believe that they are of a mindset that says we want to destroy in any way we need to anyone who dares oppose this agenda, that's a very, very dangerous approach.
Will there be some that take this rhetoric to heart and act? Words can and do have consequences.
It's 5:00 AM and I can't sleep thanks to anxiety issues over work, what I am going to do with my house in Norfolk now that my daughter and her family have moved out to escape the lawlessness seemingly escalating around the ODU campus while the City of Norfolk remains indifferent, and a host of other things. I know that I have depression issues and maybe this is just a low point. Or maybe it's just a realization that my life has been one succession of disasters after another which makes me wonder what's the point of going on. Any happiness seems to be negated ten fold by the bad. I've been in this place before.
Once I addressed this kind of low point with a bottle of Xanax. Another time with lots of alcohol in a running car in a closed garage. Would it have been better if those attempted solutions had succeeded? I honestly don't know. The "It Gets Better" campaign argues that things are improving for gays. It's an outlook that is hard to hang on to living in a state like Virginia where progress isn't happening. And where the Virginia GOP just nominated the most frightening anti-gay ticket in the history of the state. Congressional Democrats throwing gays under the bus on immigration reform doesn't instill confidence for the future either. It is exhausting waiting for things to get better - especially when deep down you know they won't. Not for you, not in Virginia.
We are supposed to be heading to Washington, D.C., for a wedding this weekend. I don't even want to go any more. I had thought it would be a great get away. Now, with the house and other things hanging over me, the prospect of fun and happiness are gone. A cloud hangs over everything. I feel like a swimmer swimming against the current and wonder if I shouldn't just end putting on a brave facade and let the current sweep me away.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
|Jason Richwine - An Equivalent to Paul Cameron?|
This is the chapter’s full definition of the term Hispanic and defense of its use:
Over 56% of immigrants living in the U.S. in 2006 were Hispanic — that is, born in either Mexico (32% of total immigrants), Central American [sic] and the Caribbean (17%), or South America (7%)…Hispanics are not a monolithic group either ethnically or culturally, but the category still has real meaning. Hispanics can be of any race, but they are most often “Mestizo” — a mixture of European and Amerindian background. Mexico, for example, is 60% Mestizo (LV 2006, 241). Hispanics also share ethno-cultural tendencies that are different from the majority Anglo-Protestant culture of the United States (Huntington 2004, 253-255). Most come from Spanish-speaking nations with cultures heavily influence by Catholicism. And many Hispanics choose to identify themselves as such, as the existence of groups like the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Council of La Raza (“the race” or “the people”), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus readily demonstrates.
Von Vacano sees this as fatally inadequate. “Any serious work at the doctoral level on these issues (even if mainly quantitative or policy-oriented),” he told me, “requires a substantive component of analysis from the qualitative, historical, cultural, normative, and theoretical perspectives (at least one or two dissertation chapters).”
These are not merely scholarly niceties: what Richwine means by “Hispanic” is critical to the success of both of his two core arguments. First, to prove that “from the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent,” he needs to show that one can speak meaningfully about“Hispanic” IQ. Richwine needs this claim to be true for the entire third section of his dissertation, the one that spells out the dangers of low IQ Hispanic immigration, to succeed. Establishing the negative consequences of Hispanic immigration means first establishing there’s such a thing as “Hispanic immigration” in a scientifically useful sense.
Because Hispanic identity is so hotly contested among scholars of race and ethnicity, that means both providing a clear account of why people from an arbitrary set of geographic locations are homogenous enough for generalizations about them are meaningful, controlled social science. Richwine fails to do so.
First, Richwine asserts Hispanics are mostly some “Mestizo” mix of Native American and European, making them genetically similar. But in the unnerving world of race and IQ research, what mix they are matters. Richwine believes that “socioeconomic hierarchies correlate consistently with race all across the world” because some races are biologically smarter; “there are no countries,” he writes, “in which ethnic Chinese are less successful than Amerindians.” It stands to reason, on his theory, that “mixed” Hispanics with more European or Asian DNA will be concomitantly smarter, on average, than more heavily Amerindian or African ones. But Richwine doesn’t attempt to show that the mix of racial DNA inside any one “Hispanic” subgroup is consistent enough for generalization, let alone the category as a whole.
Even a cursory examination of research on Latin American genetics uncovers an impossibly complex genetic admixture, one that varies widely from country to country or even region to region. . . . . As von Vacano puts it, “there is no literature that can meaningfully support the idea that ‘Hispanic’ is a genetic category,” let alone one that can be equated with the colonially-superimposed “Mestizo” identifier...
Second, Richwine asserts that Hispanics share a similar culture that’s distinct from so-called “Anglo” culture. Richwine’s only support for this claim is a citation of Samuel Huntington’s Who Are We?, a book that warns of a wave of Hispanic immigration irrevocably altering American culture for the worse. Huntington’s claims about Hispanic inability to assimilate have been subjected to serious quantitative challenge, but more to the point, citing a polemic tract about immigration does not constitute explaining what the purportedly unified Hispanic culture is and why the fact that it involves a lot of Spanish-speaking and Catholicism might be seen as allowing one to make generalized claims about the group.
There's much more that deserves a full read. The point is that, like Paul Cameron and his bogus "studies" on gays, Richwine seemingly has set his definitions so as to support his preordained conclusion. It's sloppy scholarship at best and a deliberate effort to malign an entire social group at worst. Richwine's "research" is all too familiar to those of us who have followed faux Chritofacist "research" for many years. The goal was to malign Hispanics and the definitions and facts were manipulated to achieve the predetermined conclusion.
I will admit that I am hard on those I call the "good Christians" - those Christians who silently stand by and never speak a word of condemnation against far right Christians who spew nothing but hatred towards others. They are akin to the "good Germans" who stayed silent as the Nazi regime rose to power and who later denied any knowledge of the horrors done by Hitler, et al, including the wholesale murder of Jews. In London today a horrible murder occurred and now, I am waiting for Muslims around the globe to rise up out of silence and condemn the horrible deed and also condemn clerics who preach such hate and violence. Bad things happen when good people remain silent. And silence ultimately translates into complicity. I am an equal time critic of fundamentalist religion and the evils which seem to be its principal fruits. I expect nothing less from "good Muslims" than I do of "good Christians." The Daily Beast looks at events today in London when a soldier was attacked and beheaded by apparent Jihadists. Here are highlights:
A blood-splattered jihadist with a meat cleaver in one hand declaring to a bystander’s smartphone camera “Allahu Akbar” and “we will always beat you” in a pronounced south London accent? While waiting twenty minutes for the police to arrive after he’s taken part in what seemed like a ritual assassination of a British soldier? Exactly what terrorist profile does this conform to? None.
And that’s what concerns British terrorism officials. Is this bizarre episode the beginning of a new, unpredictable pattern of loners operating without any organized backing behind them, or a one-off?
The two assailants could, indeed, just be a couple of deranged freelancers. But the guidance British ministers have been giving reporters assumes something much graver, a form of terrorism so unsophisticated and amateur that it can’t be detected by existing surveillance methods.
The fact that the wild, bloodied harangue to camera was delivered by a black man with no trace of a foreign accent – indeed, in an accent that seemed to originate in south London in particular – suggests homegrown militants, perhaps men radicalized via the Internet, through a form of widely dispersed propaganda rather than targeted brainwashing.
Many witnesses saw two men in a car deliberately run down the off-duty soldier, then hack away at him with a meat cleaver, apparently attempting to decapitate him.
Fundamentalist religious belief to me is a form of sickness or, better yet, a form of mental illness. How else to explain the hate and savagery that seems to go with it? But, this judgment doesn't apply to all members of faith groups. That said, I have a number of Muslim clients who are decent, respectful individuals. Unfortunately, they and others will be painted with a broad brush if Muslim leaders do not immediately condemn this atrocity in the strongest means possible. Fundamentalist religion of all faiths is a dangerous evil that needs to be eradicated from the face of the earth. Once again I find myself believing that a world entirely without religion would be a far better place.