View from the Loft 

war and peace, politics, books, rants, the passing parade ...


Thursday, March 11, 2004

It IS Genetic!

A friend sent me this and I just had to share.


The discovery that affiliation with the Republican Party is genetically determined was announced by scientists in the current issue of the journal NURTURE, causing uproar among traditionalists who believe it is a chosen lifestyle.

Reports of the gene coding for political conservatism, discovered after a decades-long study of quintuplets in Orange County, CA, has sent shock waves through the medical, political, and golfing communities.

Psychologists and psychoanalysts have long believed that Republicans' unnatural disregard for the poor and frequently unconstitutional tendencies resulted from dysfunctional family dynamics -- a remarkably high percentage of Republicans do have authoritarian domineering fathers and emotionally distant mothers who didn't teach them how to be kind and gentle.

Biologists have long suspected that conservatism is inherited. "After all," said one author of the NURTURE article, "It's quite common for a Republican to have a brother or sister who is a Republican."

The finding has been greeted with relief by Parents and Friends of Republicans (PFREP), who sometimes blame themselves for the political views of otherwise lovable children, family, and unindicted co-conspirators.

One mother, a longtime Democrat, wept and clapped her hands in ecstasy on hearing of the findings. "I just knew it was genetic," she said, seated with her two sons, both avowed Republicans. "My boys would never freely choose that lifestyle!"

When asked what the Republican lifestyle was, she said, "You can just tell watching their conventions in Houston and San Diego on TV: the flaming xenophobia, flamboyant demagogy, disdain for anyone not rich, you know."

Both sons had suspected their Republicanism from an early age but did not confirm it until they were in college, when they became convinced it wasn't just a phase they were going through.

The NURTURE article offered no response to the suggestion that the high incidence of Republicanism among siblings could result from their sharing not only genes but also psychological and emotional attitude as products of the same parents and family dynamics.

A remaining mystery is why many Democrats admit to having voted Republican at least once -- or often dream or fantasize about doing so. Polls show that three out of five adult Democrats have had a Republican experience, although most outgrow teenage experimentation with Republicanism.

Some Republicans hail the findings as a step toward eliminating conservophobia. They argue that since Republicans didn't "choose" their lifestyle any more than someone "chooses" to have a ski-jump nose, they shouldn't be denied civil rights which other minorities enjoy.

If conservatism is not the result of stinginess or orneriness (typical stereotypes attributed to Republicans) but is something Republicans can't help, there's no reason why society shouldn't tolerate Republicans in the military or even high elected office -- provided they don't flaunt their political beliefs.

For many Americans, the discovery opens a window on a different future. In a few years, gene therapy might eradicate Republicanism altogether.

(But why should they be allowed to marry?)

Make 'Em Pay

Recently I was horrified to find that the Republican National Committee had sent me a plea for money. How did I get on their list, I who have never, ever voted for a Republican in my life; I, who would rather have bamboo shoots under my fingernails than give them so much as a dime; I, who would even have voted for Holy Joe Lieberman rather than see Dubya elected?

My first impulse was to rip the offending letter to shreds, but then I realized that I could cost them some money.

These sorts of things always come with a postage-paid return envelope. If you send the envelope back, they have to pay the postage. Now, if only one person does this, it doesn't amount to anything, but think of what it could cost them if all of us who mistakenly got on their mailing list dropped those envelopes into the nearest mailbox.

I had the additional pleasure of writing on a blank piece of paper "I'm voting for Kerry" and signing it "a FORMER Republican." Okay, the last part is a lie, but so what? I figured maybe whatever poor soul has to process these things might think, man, Bush is turning them off right and left!

My story doesn't end here. Yesterday I received a letter from AmeriCares, with the name in the return address on the envelope being none other than Barbara Bush! I feel that I must be the victim of a heartless prank. Perhaps I pissed someone off enough that they cruelly gave my name to the Rethugs. In any case, AmeriCares calls itself the "humanitarian lifeline to the world" and sounds like a good organization. But what a mistake to make Barbara Bush your ambassador! Which I tried to explain to them via a little note I wrote. I realize that Barbara herself won't see the note, but since the letter purported to come from Babs herself, I addressed my note to her. I said, "You have some nerve! Your son bombs people into oblivion, denies Americans health care, impoverishes people with his economic policies, and you turn around and work for a charity whose burden has become all the greater because of YOUR SON. Oh, the irony!"

I'm sending the AmeriCares envelope back but putting a stamp on it, as I can't bring myself to stiff a charity, but I hope someone reads my note.

Who knows what today's mail will bring. I can't escape the feeling that I've been targeted by the Bushes.

Anyway, if you get anything from a really vile organization such as the RNC, Right to Life, etc., be sure you send the envelope back, whether empty or with a satisfying little note. Think of what would happen if everybody did!

The Truth About the Pentagon's Global Warming Report

You've probably heard about the Pentagon's report on global warming and the nightmarish scenario it describes were climate change to happen suddenly. (The link works, but it takes a while to load the pdf file.)

Indeed, "nightmarish" hardly begins to describe it: a world where
major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies.
The authors of the report, however, point out that scientists they interviewed "caution that the scenario is extreme in two fundamental ways":
First, they suggest the occurrences we outline would most likely happen in a few regions, rather than globally. Second, they say the magnitude of the event may be considerably smaller.
Still, they insist that
We have created a climate change scenario that, while not the most likely, is plausible, and would challenge national security in ways that should be considered immediately.
The British newspaper The Observer broke the story in an article entitled "Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us," calling the report "secret" and claiming that it was "suppressed." But the authors of the study, Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, state flatly: "Contrary to some recent media coverage, the report was not secret, suppressed, or predictive."

I hate it when the truth is twisted in order to serve an agenda, even when it's an agenda I happen to agree with. In this case, a report that envisions a global catastrophe as an unlikely worst-case scenario has been made to seem inevitable. It isn't as if global warming isn't bad enough, or that Bush's refusal to believe in its existence won't have some pretty dire consequences. His willful blindness to the dangers of global warming is indefensible. But to distort the intent of the report and mischaracterize it doesn't help the environmental cause.

What should alarm us all is that almost all scientists now recognize global warming as a very real danger and that those in power are ignoring it. Bush isn't alone in his stubborn refusal to address the problem: the World Bank has rejected the recommendation that it phase out all investment in fossil fuels over the next eight years. According to a panel the Bank appointed,
"The WBG [World Bank Group] should aggressively increase investments in renewable energies by about 20 percent annually. WBG lending should concentrate on promoting the transition to renewable energy..."

The World Bank's current energy lending dedicates 6 percent to renewables, 94 percent to oil. In rejecting the recommendation of the independent panel, the Bank is targeting $US 300-500 million annually in loans promoting development of oil -- and the slow cooking of our planet.
What will it take to convince these people that they are irresponsibly heading the planet toward disaster?

I don't know, but the answer is surely not to distort an already frightening possibility into something even worse. That simply robs environmentalists of credibility and opens the door to charges of hysteria and exaggeration.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Taking Aim at American Families

I'm talking about the Bush-backed gay marriage ban. This is how it feels to one gay couple.

(Thanks to Cheryl for forwarding this.)

The Strange World of the Pro-FMA Folks

What with the civil disobedience that started in San Francisco and the recent pro-gay-marriage boosts in Seattle and Asbury Park, NJ, we seem to be headed for a showdown on the issue of gay marriage.

Supporters of the Hate Amendment (known as the Federal Marriage Amendment by its supporters), which would write a ban on gay marriage into the U.S. Constitution, believe that the very fabric of civilized society will be torn beyond repair if we allow people of the same sex to marry each other:
But homosexual "marriage" is an act of intolerance. It is an attempt to eliminate any special preference for marriage in society -- to erase the protected status of marriage in the constant balancing act between civilization and individual reproduction.

So if my [gay] friends insist on calling what they do "marriage," they are not turning their relationship into what my wife and I have created, because no court has the power to change what their relationship actually is.

Instead they are attempting to strike a death blow against the well-earned protected status of our, and every other, real marriage.

They steal from me what I treasure most, and gain for themselves nothing at all. They won't be married. They'll just be playing dress-up in their parents' clothes.
There's a lot of curious reasoning going on in this typical argument against gay marriage, in this case made by Orson Scott Card.

In this argument, marriage--which is already taken to be in dire straits because of unwed mothers, divorce, and that deplorable modern habit of including other-than-nuclear under the heading of "family"--will suffer a "death blow" if gay marriage is allowed. Why? Because gay marriage would "erase the protected status of marriage" in the "constant balancing act" between civilization and the unbridled mating drive.

I have a lot of trouble following the thinking here. What gays want is to extend the protections of marriage, not end them. Then there's the assertion that homosexual marriage "steal[s] from me what I treasure most." Huh? How do two people of the same sex marrying each other steal anything from me?

Does this mean that despite nearly 35 years of marriage, my husband and I will immediately find our marriage reduced to meaninglessness if gay marriage is allowed to stand? "Well, hon, we've had a good run, but it's just a sham now. We might as well just start having wild, anonymous encounters and indulge our urges, now that marriage no longer has any meaning."


At the same time that gays are trying to steal what is most precious, they nonetheless can't really be married, because ... well, because. Is marriage a matter of religion? Then I would think that a given religion would define what marriage is or is not. Is marriage a matter of a legal contract acknowledged by the state? Then I would think that the state has the power to say what is or isn't a marriage. (For example, it used to be quite ordinary for states to recognize common-law marriages.) Apparently, though, these pro-Hate Amendment types believe that they, and only they, will determine what does or does not constitute marriage. Yet at the same time that they stubbornly affirm that there is no such thing as homosexual marriage, they continue to feel threatened by it. Why, if it isn't even marriage?

Eventually, after making the usual bows to tolerance, etc., these folks get around to what it's really all about:
What happens now if children grow up in a society that overtly teaches that homosexual partnering is not "just as good as" but actually is marriage?

Once this is regarded as settled law, anyone who tries to teach children to aspire to create a child-centered family with a father and a mother will be labeled as a bigot and accused of hate speech.


The propaganda mill will pound our children with homosexual marriage as a role model. We know this will happen because we have seen the fanatical Left do it many times before.

So when our children go through the normal adolescent period of sexual confusion and perplexity, which is precisely the time when parents have the least influence over their children and most depend on the rest of society to help their children grow through the last steps before adulthood, what will happen?

Already any child with any kind of sexual attraction to the same sex is told that this is an irresistible destiny, despite the large number of heterosexuals who move through this adolescent phase and never look back.

Already any child with androgynous appearance or mannerisms -- effeminite boys and masculine girls -- are being nurtured and guided (or taunted and abused) into "accepting" what many of them never suspected they had -- a desire to permanently move into homosexual society.

In other words, society will bend all its efforts to seize upon any hint of homosexuality in our young people and encourage it.
Card goes on to state that the idea that "homosexuals are born that way" is a myth--without stating any evidence whatsoever--and that
The dark secret of homosexual society -- the one that dares not speak its name -- is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.

It's that desire for normality, that discontent with perpetual adolescent sexuality, that is at least partly behind this hunger for homosexual "marriage."
Did you catch that "perpetual adolescent sexuality"? Yes, according to Card and his ilk, homosexuals have never moved beyond adolescence. With the right therapy, they, too, could become normal, if they would but admit it.

What utter crap.

Perhaps there are some homosexuals who'd like to live "normally"--note how they're abnormal, in Card's view!--I don't know. If so, it may be because it's not easy being gay in this society, where people like Card write about abnormality and "dark secrets," all the while refusing to grant gays full humanity.

And why would society "bend all its efforts to seize upon any hint of homosexuality in our young people and encourage it"? It will be long, long time before gays are fully accepted, and--as even Card admits in his hysterical screed--most people's hormones decide in favor of heterosexuality, in any case.

He then goes on to say that "there is nothing irrational about parents grieving at the abduction-in-advance of their grandchildren." The "abduction-in-advance"? Perhaps we should add homosexuality to the list of terrorist activities. Card also uses the phrase "reproductive dead end" in speaking of homosexual partnerships. When I hear rhetoric like this, I just shake my head. Do these people really think that gay marriage will result in the "recruitment" of so many people into the gay lifestyle that it will be a common thing for parents never to become grandparents? I guess they do ...

If homosexuality is so unnatural, then how could it be possible to "recruit" that many people into it? You can't have it both ways.

Then there's this little gem:
Don't you see the absurd contradiction? A postulated but unproven genetic disposition toward homosexuality is supposed to be embraced and accepted by everyone as "perfectly natural" -- but the far stronger and almost universal genetic disposition toward having children and grandchildren is to be suppressed, kept to yourself, treated as a mental illness.
Whoa, Bessie, who-o-o-oa! Where does he get the idea that if gays can legally marry, then suddenly the desire to have children will be "treated as a mental illness"? I just don't see that as a logical outcome.

If there was ever a demonstration of the slippery slope fallacy, the arguments of the anti-gay-marriage folks are it.

And it's not as if gay couples don't have children. There are ways to go about it, just as there are for heterosexual couples who are infertile. As far as I know, no studies have shown that children of these couples have any more propensity toward homosexuality than the population at large.

What it all comes down to is homophobia. These people are fearful of homosexuals and homosexuality. And, in the end, that's what I don't understand. I know a number of gay people, and none of them is frightening in the least. None of them goes around trying to convince impressionable adolescents to switch teams. As far as I know, all of them feel they had no choice in the matter of sexual orientation. I know a lesbian couple who have been together for many years and are raising a child, and for the life of me I can't think why they should not be allowed to marry, nor why, if they did marry, they would pose a threat to civilization. These are people who have a home and a family, who want to do the best for their family, who have all the obligations and responsibilities of marriage without the rights and benefits that accrue to married couples. My gay friends are of various religions, churchgoers and non-churchgoers, taxpayers, community activists, homeowners, dieters, fitness buffs, couch potatoes, keepers of pets, caretakers of parents ... in other words, they're just like the straight people I know.

Maybe if people like Card (and I used his essay only because it so well sums up the sort of thing being put forth by the FMAers, except that it's actually more tolerant than some) stopped theorizing so much and actually got to know some gay people, we wouldn't have to read such rubbish. Oh, he says he has gay friends, but I can't believe you'd write about a friend the way he writes about gays. No, there's hatred under that veneer of tolerance.

Hatred and fear. But isn't that always the foundation of Christian rightwing thought?

I'm Baaaack

What a week it's been.

We threw an 85th birthday party for my mother-in-law on Saturday and I'm still recovering. In addition to doing what amounted to a good spring cleaning, I cooked an ambitious menu for 40 people. Took me until yesterday to get all the pots and pans cleaned up. I think I used every pot and baking pan in my cabinets!

Onward and upward.

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