Saturday, November 11, 2006

"Purity Balls"; Dobson, Daddy, and Disgust

How I missed this, I'll never know. Paragon shares this video of Purity Balls, and Feministing adds that this gets federal funding.

Here's what the clip shows: Girls apparently between 2 and 17 go to this Prom-of-sorts with their fathers. It says they get dressed up and some arrive in limos. There's a voice-over by James Dobson (Ted Haggard's "scared straight" coach.) He tells the story of a 17 year old girl who says that she doesn't desire boys the way all her friends do. According to Dobson, this is because she is sitting on her father's lap, and therefore HE is fulfilling "every girls desire for the affection of boys" or something like that.

Then the video shows the dads and daughters reciting and signing these covenants, in which the dads vaguely promise integrity, while the daughters promise to abstain from sex until marriage, so as to give yourself as a wedding gift to her spouse.

I sit here wanting to give commentary to this troubling culture, but I simply can't get my head around it.

I've lived in the South all my life, and I grew up in a church where Dobson's writings were always readily distributed. But I've never in my life heard of anything like this.

I can vaguely recall a couple of "youth revivals" when I was in high school or college when the evangelists asked us to promise God we would abstain until marriage. I don't recall whether I ever made that promise or not, but I don't think I did. Not to give myself too much credit, but I think I was bright enough to realize that I didn't know what the future held, nor what my ability might be to fight off the power of the small brain. (See toward the end of this story to get an idea of how that turned out.

In all seriousness I do know what a noose guilt can be to a young person. It was implied to me, if not outright stated, that guilt was a good and healthy thing. Well, I can maybe see how it got the desired behavior out of me from time to time...but then again, I really believe that when I did the "right thing", it was mainly for very practical reasons.

I don't want my kids to be saddled with guilt. At 41 I generally behave within the bounds of socially accepted norms, and that behavior is no longer driven by guilt, but by understanding the reasons behind these behaviors being wise. What parents are generally saying, then, is that kids aren't capable of wisdom, so let's strap em down with guilt.

Kids ARE capable. But like me and all adults, they are also capable of screwing up. And when they do, I don't want THEM to be screwed up because of it.

I hope to do a better job of blogging this particular story, but tonight I'm just too blown away by the ramifications of this video.

I'm also greatly troubled as to how sex has somehow become the end-all, be-all sin for all time, while most of us have many other planks in our eyes. These other planks may not cause nearly the guilt, but they cause people to go hungry, they cause the earth to exhaust her resources, and they cause division among the peoples of the earth.

Personally, I think sex is the most talked about subject, to be so rarely experienced in the lives of most people. Hey, not that I wouldn't like it to be more of a factor in my life (ok, a factor at all), but at least I won't raise my kids to believe its dirty and filthy. Having a spouse who has been the victim of that upbringing, I know what it does to rob two people of intimacy.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ed Bradley, American Hero, Dies at 65

One of the greatest broadcast journalists in the brief history of television has died today.

As time passes, more and more of the people I grew up with are passing away. That is, of course, an obvious statement. But it does cause me to be very sentimental.

And it also causes me to question....Who can replace Ed Bradley and Mike Wallace and Andy Rooney? I mean really?

Anderson Cooper? Shepard Smith? I doubt it. Nancy Grace or Greta Van Sustern? LMAO! Not.

But isn't what was "journalism" is progressing to today? Opinionated and biased, without the gift of questioning that Bradley, Wallace, Larry King, and other veterans possessed.

Lastly, where are the African American replacements for Mr. Bradley? Since the disappearance of Bernard Shaw, there are too few.

I do fear the loss of the Greatest Generation. I don't think my generation wants the pressure, or possesses the work ethic, to take their place.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Haggard's "Choice" for a Blow Job

Here's the latest on Pastor Ted Haggard from Salon.

I've avoided this issue, for no other reason than its on every blog on the internet. Also, I knew the real story would be how the fundamentalists spun things.

Would they realize that homosexuality is a genetic reality? That the reason homosexual clergy in homo-unfriendly denominations are a reality is that they were once young men who felt they could hide from their true self if only they became ministers?

No. Instead they are putting Ted Haggard in what the communists would call a re-education program, under the leadership of James Dobson.

James Dobson is a demigod where I come from. People swear by him and finance him. That's fine....people do need to "focus on their family". But the belief that gayness rubs off on people is simply wrong.

Look, if it were contagious, I woulda caught it. I've worked closely with some great guys who were gay, and I've gone out drinking with them, and talked politics with them. Here's the scoop, folks: I could be at the bar after five beers and four months without sex (which is usually), and I'm STILL LOOKING AROUND APPRECIATING THE FEMALES IN THE ROOM. That is who I am.

(And by the way...they are smart enough to know that, so Dobson should know that these folks aren't "recruiting" anybody, EVEN IF that were possible.)

A couple of issues here, and I'm not going to try to document any of this, so you'll have to search for the supporting research.

First, I'm beginning to believe a premise I first heard from an Episcopal priest, a heterosexual I respect greatly. He believes that every person has within their genetic makeup SOME formation of BOTH homo- and hetero- attraction genes. This wouldn't be on a bell curve distribution, because it appears obvious that hetero behavior, not in small part due to procreation, is the predominate preference.

But when you look at people like Ted Haggard, who have five kids, it would support the notion that he would sit somewhere in the middle of that distribution. A "flaming queer" on the other hand, would safely fall on the homosexual end of the scale. And me? Well, I'm in the George Castanza category.

Remember that episode of Seinfeld, when George got the massage from a man? It moved. The fact that it moved convinced George, to his holy terror, that he was gay. Like George, my homo genes are rather non-existent. It would take my back being turned on the massage table for "it to move", and the movement would stop suddenly once I turned around.

Men don't do it for me, therefore I can't be recruited. Therefore I have no stake in voting for anti-gay laws rather than electing officials who will care for my safety and economic well-being.

Second Issue: If you think the above might be true, it would stand to reason that SOME homosexual experiences do amount to a choice by people, no different than any sexual one-night stand is a choice. So yes, probably there are teenage boys (and probably more girls) who are doing same-sex stuff because it is counter-culture and cool. Perhaps the battlefield that James Dobson has made this issue is the REASON it is counter-culture and cool. However, I can tell you that when I was in college, the only thing that would have made me try it would have been a large handgun aimed at me....therefore I still say its about the genetic makeup that would even make it possible. Just as a "flaming queer" would have never been able to stomach experimenting with the opposite sex.

Which brings me to this: If you read the Salon story, or just the quote issued by Haggard's overseer, what do you notice. Let me post it:

"I am a sinner. I have fallen," Haggard wrote. "The fact is, I'm guilty of sexual immorality." Mike Jones' allegations, the pastor insisted, are not all true, but "enough of them are true."

"Part of my life is so repugnant and dark," Haggard said in the letter Stockstill read. "I've been warring against it all my life." He told of how he had sought counseling to address his sexuality, which he said cured him for spells. But then, he wrote, "the dirt I thought was gone would resurface ... the darkness increased and dominated." Haggard asked his congregation for forgiveness for him, and also for his accuser, who he suggested was inspired by God to reveal his "deception and sensuality."

What do you see about illegal drug use, adultery, or paying someone for sex? Nothing. Why would that be?

Its simple. Gay sex is the end-all, be-all sin these days. I'll never forget in about 1984 a girl asked me out to homecoming at another university after she saw me in a play. I gladly accepted.

I drove down there and went to the game, and then came the time for "what do you want to do now?". This question was posed to me, since I was the guest. I suppose I answered nervously with the usual choices, which led her to ask, "you aren't gay are you?".

Being only 19 years old, I didn't have the self-understanding and presence to say, "no, not at all. I just come from a very conservative upbringing, which can be very tough in the guilt arena, and on top of that, I'm a little afraid of a girl this aggressive, cause I've never met one."

A few hours later, after things obviously went her way, I rationalized the guilt with the argument, "I damn shore proved I wasn't gay!".

What does this have to do with the topic? That was over TWENTY years ago. Admittedly that was a time that "are you gay" would have been the ultimate insult. But even then I had justification for meaningless hetero sex, DUE TO the gay issue.

What about kids today? Don't you think their young horny minds can build those rationales even stronger? Look again at the Haggard quote and ask yourself.

What about committed married men today? How long will it take someone to go on a business trip and meet someone and think, "well, pastor Ted's sin was queerness...what's the harm in hiring one of these poor whores as long as its a she?"

What about that married woman who gets so little real conversation at home? How easy today is it for her to say, "My husband is probably gay anyway. I need attention, and there's nothing wrong with this."

Now I'm one who believes that the mind will come up with rationale for sex if the body wants it bad enough, but still....does the evangelical church REALLY want to continue this process of RANKING sins like this?

We must get past this issue in America, just as we had to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1969. Homosexuality is no more a choice than race. If it were, Pastor Ted would have NEVER chosen a man for a massage and a blow job.

Sex Is Still All They Got, President Clinton

If you want to know what thrills an old man of 41, I'm about to share it with you:

Click here for video

Unfortunately I don't know how to post a click thru image to YouTube. If anyone knows, please tell me.

Now....go watch that clip.

Here's part of the transcript...but reading it absolutely can't describe the genius of Bill Clinton:

The campaign that has been run against Jim Webb is just the sort of most grotesque example of this formula they're running all around the country. It goes something like this. This is their message, pretend I'm their guy: 'OK, we really messed up. I mean, this Iraq deal didn't work out too good and now we put Afghanistan at risk. And we probably shouldn't have put that horse show association guy in charge of FEMA... And you know, it was embarrassing when our senior White House aide that dealt with Mr. Abramoff had to go to prison. But Karl Rove didn't know him very well, he only had 485 contacts with the White House. And he's shy, Karl Rove, you've got to know him 486 times before he knows you. Yeah, we've got a lot of problems but you've still got to vote for us. 'Cuz my opponent is a slug. And they're going to tax you into the poorhouse. On the way to the poorhouse you'll meet a terrorist on every street corner. And when you try to run away from that terrorist you're going to trip over an illegal immigrant. You can't vote for 'em. I mean, is that it?'

(Credit to lowkell at Daily Kos for the transcript.)

I overstated, right? This doesn't REALLY thrill a man of 41.

Actually it did thrill me. I realize I'm a person watching life from the sidelines if life involves anything outside my children...which is rather sad. But Clinton's words, and more so, his abilities, produce joy and sickness at the same time.

Its a joy to watch a true extemporaneous speaker (a key requirement in my own job) craft his art.

Its sick to realize what we lost in Clinton and what we gained in Bush. And I love comments to my blog, but PLEASE don't leave the tired message, "At least Bush didn't shoot off on a blue dress."

At this point, I would be in favor of allowing Clinton to have "Fireside Jerks" on CSPAN if we could get our war dead back...if we could un-create all the terrorists we have created....if we could help the people of the Gulf Coast...if we could regain our stature as the world's MORAL AND FAIR leader.

Yes, I know Clinton's speech is partisan. That was his job last night. But is he wrong? "My opponent is a slug". That's a campaign?? "The terrorists will get you". HOW? HOW will they get me ANY different if a Democrat is making cash deals to give away control of ports instead of Republicans???

Let's all just wait about five or ten years. At that time, we'll see if Bush will be able to stand on his own two feet and make even an AVERAGE speech without five teleprompters. We'll see in another ten or twenty years how Bush is remembered (Nixonesque?) and how Clinton is remembered (the last person to deal with deficit?).

For now....we must each do all we can, and vote is all we can do. Today I will vote against two Republicans who have no chance of losing. But I go out in the rain for two reasons (other than my own conscience):

1) Because I've never missed a chance since my oldest was four of taking my kids to the polls. And by the way...she is 13 now, and a STAUNCH Republican, although she is beginning to doubt due to Iraq. I don't try to change her mind on that...on the contrary, I am proud I have helped her to be interested and informed. (Alas though, for all my Episcopalian leanings, she is all Baptist.)

2) Because today all across the land, people whose vote MATTERS need desperately to get out in the rain and stand in line and VOTE. I stand with them in my own line, even though my vote is a hoax in Mississippi.

And I must say: If I have a hero alive today, it is William Jefferson Clinton. (And yes...I do happen to like big girls with dark hair. I'd actually take Monica out in public.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Get Your Very Own Presidential Pardon

Look, we all make mistakes.

And for those of you who have accumulated enough wealth, there's no longer any reason to fret about the consequences.

Visit Bush's Prez Pardon Site to get all the details.

But see the FAQ's for information on prepayment options, wire transfers, and accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. And if you order today, you can get an 8X10 of Barney, the First Dog.

The Legal Drug Debate

Salon had a humorous article today, about an African-American professional helping her aged mother with her ballot. On the ballot was an initiative concerning marijuana.

In short, her mom said, "Jesus didn't smoke no weeds"....which was all she needed to know. Thus, her vote was no.

Well, I happen to believe that legalizing AT LEAST marijuana is one of the most important steps we could take in 1) reducing the deficit, 2) getting people out of jails who don't belong there, and 3) stopping crooks, black marketers and terrorists from profiting in this trade.


Anyway....what I wanted to share was this response to the article. The following paragraph states my fundamental opinion on this better than any I've ever seen:

I am sure most of the posters could care less about those folks. A not too wise man once said "George Bush doesn't care about black people." The truth is most of us really don't. If we did then we would not turn so many of their neighborhoods into war zones so that fewer of "us" run the risk of addiction.

The reason this is SO powerful is because this response is written to LIBERALS who read Salon. Many of the responses were from liberals who simply wrote off and discounted legalizers as "dope addicts" and "justifiers of their own addiction".

I must say now that I have never inhaled. (As a matter of fact, I've never even held a joint or pipe or whatever. I'm not a saint...I've been known to partake of hydrocodone recreationally, but I've never even seen marijuana outside of "drug education".

Forget the scientific evidence of how much safer weed is than alcohol (and tobacco). Forget the tax dollars and ridding us of crime. Just think about this man's point:

We care so little for black people that we are willing to turn their neighborhoods into war zones, JUST cause our own white folks MIGHT be less likely to try it.

How powerful.

And yet....we've already HAD an experiment in prohibition. Far as I know, there's NO proof whatsoever that fewer people TRIED alcohol, LIKED alcohol, or GOT HOOKED ON alcohol back in the days it was illegal.

The only difference was the supply and demand realities: Crooks, politicians, bureaucrats, policemen...many of them were the ones who profited. And even sadder....the ones who were HONEST were in more danger in their jobs. Its the same today.

I believe that if drugs were available in the same way that alcohol is available, that crime in this country would decrease by 70% at a minimum.

And believe, my family, my friends....we are ALL more likely to be a victim of CRIME than we are a victim of drug abuse in today's world. You know why?? Because IF WE'RE GOING TO BECOME A DRUG ABUSER, WE CAN DO THAT JUST AS EASILY NOW AS IN A LEGAL DRUG ENVIRONMENT. The only difference is the crime and who profits.

I'm for the crime to go away.

Diebold & Repubs; Arms Length?

The War Room reports on a troubling communication from Ken Mehlman to his flock. I've already reported satirically on my opinion of voting machines, and this seems to reinforce my fears.

Here's the story: Taegan Goddard reports the following:

The RNC just sent out detailed talking points about how unreliable exit polls have been over the past several elections. The key arguments are that exits polls typically have a Democratic bias and have wrongly predicted Democratic victories in recent years.

According to a source, the RNC expects leaked exit polls to show Democratic victories and do not want the news to discourage Republican voters from going to the polls late in the day.

Ok, so let's examine. Some believe that once the winner is obvious, people will just stay home from the polls. I think this is over-stated.

The two Democrats I look most forward to voting for are running against Trent Lott (MS Senate) and Roger Wicker (MS House). I don't even know those Democrats' names, and I DO know they are going to lose. But I can't wait to vote for them.

People who care vote. (Some of them even know the candidate names, unlike me.)

So is there another reason for the "talking points memo"?

Well, remember 2004? Exit polls showed significant victories in Ohio for John Kerry. When the voting machines tallying the "actual" vote count, he lost.

Do exit polls "favor Democrats"? Or do those voting machines favor REPUBLICANS?

How do exit polls favor Democrats, by the way? Is this yet another racist and elitist argument? Sounds like they're implying that "the smarter, whiter Republican voter is smart enough to lie to those librul exit pollers. The poor, dumb, minority libruls are honest."

Yes, honesty is such a Right-Wing Christian trait until libruls ask questions (or until a male prostitute outs you.

Maybe there's another reason that asking people questions "favor" one side or another....but take out pure lying, and I can't figure out what it is.

I'm concerned about this....I really am. Have we seen ANY sign that people are NOT willing to rig an election to hold office? Have we seen ANY sign that other people wouldn't take 20 or 30 million bucks to reprogram a computer program? No to both. And 20 to 30 million is chump change for what's at stake here. (Disclaimer: Yes, Democrats have people willing to cheat, just as much as Republicans. I'm just not sure Dems know any computer literate people. Just kidding.)

Look, Diebold is a company that 1) has an interest in Bush's tax cuts, and they ain't worried about the deficit, just their own stock price, and 2) Most of their bucks come from the banking business historically. Now what party do you think the banks are all for? (Hint: They ain't worried about the deficit either. They need the artificial prop-up in housing prices to stay put for as long as possible.)