The mayhem!

It has been complete anarchy in the streets now for nearly 24 hours. Millions have been displaced, thousands injured, hundreds dead. The chaos and destruction would be unimaginable if every American family wasn’t feeling the same exact pain right now. How such terror could happen on American soil is insane, something seemingly only meant for science fiction movies until today. What sort of devil would bring such evil upon us all?

The U.S. military passed a historic milestone Tuesday with the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in uniform, ending a prohibition that President Barack Obama said had forced gay and lesbian service members to “lie about who they are.”

I just wish I had built my bunker earlier.

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2010: FTSOS in review, October to December

This is the fourth and final installment in the 2010 review of FTSOS. See the other three here and here and here.

October:
The most important post I think I have ever made was the one about Tyler Clementi. He was the Rutgers student who was outed as gay by his roommate. As a result – and as a result of a bigoted society – he killed himself. His death was an unnecessary tragedy that ought to bring shame to anyone who has ever voted against civil rights for gays or anyone who has ever made one moment of a gay person’s life more difficult directly because that person was gay.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it was disconcerting to read that a few high school refs were being threatened with punishment for trying to support breast cancer research. They wore some pink whistles during football playoff games in order to raise awareness; they were later told they were in violation of some petty dress code and therefore may be facing suspension – including suspension of the pay they had planned to donate to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. After the blogosphere erupted, the organization that oversees refs in that area (Washington state) backed down.

I also went to some length to explain a few basic things about religion that conflict with science. Miracles, directed evolution, intercessory prayer, and the belief that faith is a virtue are all things which science rejects. It simply isn’t possible for someone to hold belief in any of those things and also logically claim he has no conflict with science.

November:
This was the month the board which oversees local quack Christopher Maloney agreed with me that by not referring to himself as a naturopathic doctor, he was creating confusion; people might think of him as a real doctor. Except for when he insists on putting himself in the spotlight or when there is a special occasion (such as this), I consider the issue he created to be done. He lost.

In this month I used the Socratic Method to explain our likely basis for morality. I largely pointed to our common ancestry and the obvious survival benefits that cooperation offers. I also talked about why we ought to act certain ways. We all use ultimately subjective reasoning, and that’s okay: Most of us share a number of values inherent in our nature. We use these values as our common basis for saying what is right or wrong. It’s sort of like a stand-in for objectivity. And we all have it.

I also used Edwin Hubble’s calculations for the age of the Universe to demonstrate a key point about science. One of the most enduring and annoying criticisms of science by people poorly versed in the sciences is that the practice has a history of being wrong. If it has been wrong about so many things in the past, why should anyone believe it now? Except science really doesn’t have the history everyone seems to think it does. The issue is with poor or limited data (such as what Hubble had). The scientific method actually has no limitations in and of itself. The limits come from our own minds.

I also discussed a paper from Nature which a number of creationists butchered. My focus was a particular creationist familiar to FTSOS readers, but a quick search at the time showed that a whole slew of creationists had fundamentally misunderstood the paper. This is understandable since it is unlikely any of them even read the paper (not that they would be able to understand most of it anyway), merely taking their cues from other creationists. In short, the paper was a study of how alleles become fixed in asexual populations versus sexually reproducing populations . In the former, alleles, if they are particularly advantageous, tend to spread through populations rapidly, quickly becoming fixed. But in drosophila, researchers found that for alleles to spread and become important, fixation was not necessarily required. Alleles act in much more complicated systems in sexually reproducing populations than in asexual organisms, so the way their frequency rises or falls is also more complicated.

December:
Since I mentioned FTSOS hitting the arbitrary number of 100,000 hits in an earlier installment of this review, I suppose I will also mention that it hit 200,000 hits in December. There isn’t much more to add to this, though, is there?

In a more significant post, I pointed out that the Catholic Church thinks (probably without realizing it) that Double Effect is wrong. The Church stripped a hospital in Arizona of its affiliation because the hospital made the correct choice to save a woman’s life at the expense of the not-a-human-being fetus she was carrying. This is pretty much the example textbooks give in order to illustrate the very concept of Double Effect.

I also wrote about a local (real) doctor who supports some quackery. Dustin Sulak is from Hallowell, Maine and he has been making a living making out marijuana prescriptions. That’s all fine and dandy (and I’m sure he is being responsible with his power), but he also supports Reiki. That whole ‘field’ is just a bunch of malarkey that has no place in medicine. I find it unfortunate that a perfectly qualified medical professional would lend credence to something so obviously made-up like that.

Finally, I lamented the fact that Republicans were holding up three extremely important bills this month. All three – the repeal of DADT, the New START treaty, and the 9/11 First Responders health care bill – were eventually passed or ratified. The whole hub-bub was a political creation: the Republicans want to embarrass the President, not get anything done. I don’t think the Democrats are by any means wonderful, but at least they tend to be at least half-way pragmatic. And they want 9/11 First Responders to have fucking health care.

So this concludes my review of FTSOS for 2010. Hopefully the next dozen months will be even better.

When they say Biden had a gaffe…

…what everyone really means is he said something true that a lot of people don’t want to hear.

Vice President Joe Biden predicted Friday the evolution in thinking that will permit gays to soon serve openly in the military eventually will bring about a national consensus for same-sex marriage.

Changes in attitudes by military leaders, those in the service and the public allowed the repeal by Congress of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Biden noted in a nationally broadcast interview on Christmas eve.

“I think the country’s evolving,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.:” And I think you’re going to see, you know, the next effort is probably going to be to deal with so-called DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). He said he agreed with Obama that his position in gay marriage is “evolving.”

Here are the basic facts that support Biden:

  • The U.S. Constitution does not give the states or feds the ability to discriminate against gays as a group.
  • The U.S. Constitution, in fact, bans such discrimination.
  • The point of marriage as sanctioned by the government is to provide a framework of rights to two individuals.
  • As more and more people come out as gay, more and more people realize that they never had anything to fear.
  • Christianity is losing its grip. I mean, let’s not get crazy and feed into the persecution complex so common among Christians: the religion is still extremely strong and to be a Christian in America is to have an overall advantage in so many ways (sort of like how being white is an overall advantage).
  • But it hasn’t the grip it once did.

  • Old people tend to be bigots at a higher rate than young people. They also tend to die at a much higher rate. And if we add 1 and 1…

Now sit back and wait for the bigot organizations to use Biden’s statements as a source of fear; they’ll use his words to try and thwart lesser efforts than gay marriage, all the while claiming that their concern is to prevent a slippery slope to equality in marriage. Of course, that will be one of their concerns, but their bigger concern will be to prevent gays from enjoying any civil rights whatsoever.

Barney Frank embarrasses conservative reporter

Barney Frank has a habit of embarrassing people who ask him bad questions. For example, take this gem:

Now he has another great moment. This time he humiliates an amateur (or at least amateurish) reporter who thought Frank might be caught when asked about gay men showering together in the military now that DADT has been repealed.

The Distinguished Gentleman from Massachusetts, our favorite defender of the “radical homosexual agenda,” immediately goes on the offensive and dismisses the question with mock horror and then says that gay men and straight men have already been showering together for years, including when “don’t ask, don’t tell” was in effect. Can we finally put this lame defense to rest for good now?

This little account doesn’t do the exchange justice. Click the link below to take a look at the video.

Barney Frank Makes a Fool Out of Conservative Reporter Over 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

I actually feel bad for the reporter. Not because he got logically eviscerated; I’m happy that happened. I just feel bad that he is so awful at his job.

Jon Stewart passes 9/11 First Responders bill

Because let’s be honest, it was Jon Stewart who got everyone’s ass in gear.

The 9/11 legislation provides money for monitoring and treating illnesses related to Ground Zero and reopens a victims’ compensation fund for another five years to cover wage and other economic losses of sickened workers and nearby residents. Schumer and Gillibrand had sought $6.2 billion and keeping the compensation fund open for 10 years.

They ended up getting $4.2 billion. Good for them and even better for the 9/11 First Responders. I’m glad the Republicans backed down on their opposition to giving health care to anyone.

In other great news, the bill repealing DADT has been signed by President Obama.

Can I call a bigot a bigot?

Because I’m thinking about writing a letter to the editor in response to this bigot.

In a Dec. 12 column, Richard Connor criticizes Sen. John McCain for opposing repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy on homosexuality and writes it “has outlived its usefulness” and that “We need to do away with it.”

To justify his position, Connor writes about “cultural and social changes” and advancing gay marriage. Political correctness run amok.

Social acceptance doesn’t necessarily make something right. Furthermore, a behavior that is socially acceptable in a civilian environment does not necessarily make it right in a military environment.

Can anyone imagine the military maintaining unisex sleeping quarters and unisex bathing facilities with group showers? I cannot.

Similarly, I cannot imagine homosexuals serving openly in the military. A barracks will house 80-plus men and have group bathrooms and showers. As I can’t image a military environment where men and women take group showers because animal instincts may surface, I cannot image the military maintaining group showers where men with a known sexual attraction for men taking group showers with men.

What I write may invite the PC police to charge me with homophobia and intolerance. In my defense, I love the relatives I have who are gay and the gays I know in business.

They know I don’t agree with their lifestyle, but to love someone does not mean you have to agree with them. True love is often tough love and means having to tell those you love the truth.

Failure to practice tough love in our families may have contributed to the growth and social acceptance of homosexuality in society. I don’t believe homosexuality is normal. I believe it is a personal choice from someone who has tasted the proverbial forbidden fruit. Society’s sexual preferences don’t justify overhauling military standards.

Harold Alexander

Augusta

I also find “dolt” to be a fair and accurate label.

Let’s do this one quickly, shall we?

  • Being gay does not mean being obsessed with sex or unable to control sexual desires. Assumptions like that is how we get those horribly bigoted comparisons of gays to pedophiles. And “animal instincts”? How sexually immature is Harold Alexander? While where evolution and taxonomy are concerned I have to agree we absolutely are animals (though I’m not so sure about the instincts part), we have the ability to be rational and critical and thoughtful.
  • Does this guy really think that gay sex in showers is going to be an issue? I don’t really see anyone trying that, much less getting away with it.
  • No, Alexander does not love the gays he knows. If he did, he wouldn’t try to make their lives worse. I’ll grant that he sorta, kinda, maybe loves them. A little.
  • Gays have loving families.
  • No one wakes up and decides one day, “Gee, I think I’m going to start liking people with the same genitalia I have. That will surely make my life better. And probably socially easier…right? Right.”
  • What justifies overhauling military standards is the exhaustive study that found that most service members are fine with the repeal of DADT. And let’s not forget the 13,500 qualified individuals who have been kicked out – only to the detriment of the effectiveness of the U.S. military.

Sacrifice, Valor, and Integrity; the ending of DADT

The Senate has voted to adhere to American principles while simultaneously making the nation stronger and safer.

In a historic vote for gay rights, the Senate agreed on Saturday to do away with the military’s 17-year ban on openly gay troops and sent President Barack Obama legislation to overturn the Clinton-era policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“It is time to close this chapter in our history,” Obama said in a statement. “It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed.”

The vote was a relatively overwhelming 65-31. I say relatively because it ought to be 100-0 (or apparently 96-0), but the fact that 8 Republican’ts actually did something right makes this overwhelming. It isn’t like them to do the right thing. For example:

Sen. John McCain, Obama’s GOP rival in 2008, led the opposition. Speaking on the Senate floor minutes before a crucial test vote, the Arizona Republican acknowledged he couldn’t stop the bill. He blamed elite liberals with no military experience for pushing their social agenda on troops during wartime.

“They will do what is asked of them,” McCain said of service members. “But don’t think there won’t be a great cost.”

This is the same guy who said he would always ask those he commanded what they thought he ought to do. “Do you want to go out and attack the enemy? No? Why, that sounds like good ol’ fashion American values!” But maybe it’s just my elite liberal eyes that make me question if that fits the definition of leadership.

The repeal of this discriminatory law is the most significant federal civil rights legislation in decades. Far from being another meaningless lame duck session, this Congress has made a difference in both the effectiveness of our military and in the personal well-being of real, living human beings who matter. But while DADT is discriminatory, it cannot be overlooked that it was an important stepping stone. As frustrating as it is to approach civil rights in such a piecemeal fashion, that’s just how it often is. Just as Thomas Jefferson made the first step towards ending slavery by putting an end to the slave trade in 1808, Bill Clinton made the first step that has led us to where we fortunately stand today. As Adm. Mike Mullen said:

“No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so,” he said. “We will be a better military as a result.”