Friday, October 31, 2008

Prop 8 Opponents Graffiti Cars for 4 Blocks in San Bernardino County

Yucaipa is in San Bernardino County in Southern California> ABC News reports:
Many residents between 5th St. and 6th St. in Yucaipa found their property had been targeted by unwanted visitors with paint cans, and a possible political motive.

"We woke up this morning and we just had paint on all of our cars and fences. It was on everything. It was bright orange -- beautiful paint," said Yucaipa resident, Dawn Antinucci.

The same political message was painted on a number of vehicles, garages, fences, and on "Yes on 8" signs.

The Antinucci's were angered but not swayed.

"We know what the Lord tells us about this prop. We will be doing what we know is to be true," said Antinucci.

If the graffiti was politically motivated the painters made a big mistake. That is the opinion of Garrett Davis. He is not a supporter of Prop 8.

"Especially in this town. This town is a highly conservative Republican town. To do this is even more radical, because you are just going to persuade the people who are on the line to vote yes anyways. Why would you ever do that? It is just horrible," said Davis.

The vandalism is the talk of the neighborhood and the subject of a sheriff's department investigation.

"Just to thinking that someone has vandalized our home, wow. Someone is obviously angry and upset. What is next? Are they going to destroy more of our property? Is this going to escalate? Anyone would think and be concerned about that," said a concerned resident.

Prop 8 Foes Make Death Threats

This is getting hard to believe:
Someone opposing California’s Proposition 8, White said, had just issued a pair of email death threats. One was directed at Autry, the other at Franklin, both of whom had spoken on Sunday at city hall in support of Proposition 8, which would restore traditional marriage as the only kind recognized in the state.

“Is the threat serious?” Franklin asked White on the phone.

Yes, she said—and specific. The email explained exactly how the sender intended to dispatch the two men.

The threat was also serious enough that the next call Franklin received was from Jerry Dyer, Fresno’s chief of police. “By the end of the day, I had [police] officers with me,” Franklin told WORLD. “They were also at our services that night.”

The pastor said his home, as well as Cornerstone’s church offices and sanctuary, located in an historic theater in downtown Fresno, were also vandalized this week; all three locations are now under police surveillance.

Read it all in the World

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Prop 8 Opponents Vandalize Cars in Chino Hills

UPDATE: I have been wondering if this one is for real. The typical vandal who opposes Prop 8 writes "bigot" or "hater" to castigate the offender. Also, those who oppose Prop 8 are more likely to use language of "equality" or "dignity". "Gay Sex is Love" seems suspicious to me. I hate to say this as I support Prop 8.

Residents displaying Yes on 8 signs in Chino Hills have had their cars marked with pro gay sex messages. (Chino Hills is in Southern California near Orange County.) According to One News Now:
Prop. 8 signs were stolen from the yard of one family belonging to the church, and graphic messages were scratched into their two cars. The vandals keyed "Gay Sex is Love" into the car's paint, while also writing other degrading phrases in permanent marker "all over both vehicles." Additionally, the delinquents broke off an antenna on one car and bent the back windshield wiper on the other.

Progressive Language Games

Move over George Lakoff. The New York Times reports today that the new Professor of Progressive Language is Drew Westen, a psychology professor at Emory University.
Dr. Westen’s advice can be heard when Alisha Thomas Morgan, running for re-election to the Georgia House in a conservative suburb of Atlanta, uses the word “leadership” in place of “government” and speaks about the middle class instead of the poor.

So, when she says Americans need leadership to provide help for the middle class, she means Americans need government to provide help for the poor.

Or when Andrew Gillum, a city commissioner in Tallahassee, Fla., who is fighting a ballot initiative against same-sex marriage, tells members of his predominantly black church of the human desire for dignity and respect instead of lecturing them on the evils of discrimination.

And the response is that we can give people dignity and respect without undermining the meaning of marriage.
Democrats of higher office who have heard Dr. Westen have also shifted their rhetoric, as when Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, fending off a Republican challenger, not only says that “health care is a right for every citizen” but pointedly adds, “Particularly citizens who are working hard every day.”

Hmmm, does this mean that progressives are now advocating health care only for the employed, or that progressives recognize a range of unemployed activities as work? I do resent the idea that stay at home mothers are not working.

Instead of using euphemisms like “pro-choice” and “reproductive health,” his handbook suggests, liberal candidates might insist that it is un-American for the government to tell men and women when to start a family or what religious beliefs to follow, arguments that test well in focus groups with conservatives and independents. On illegal immigration, he recommends, candidates who have said their plan would “allow” immigrants to become citizens should instead say they will “require” it.

“The idea,” Dr. Westen said, “is to start to rebrand progressives using language that’s as evocative as the language of the other side, and stop using phrases that just turn people off.”

The handbook does not offer a script so much as a menu of options, each of which was poll-tested against conservative arguments. On economics, for example, one message begins with “I want to see the words ‘Made in America’ again.” Another reads, “We need leaders who don’t just talk about family values but actually value families.”

We need Irenaeus.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Harassment of Prop 8 Supporters in Davis

More problems for supporters of Prop 8 in another California college town -- Davis, the town just west of Sacramento that houses the University of California at Davis campus. This article from the California Aggie begins with a discussion of the usual (sign thefts and keying of cars in front of houses displaying Yes on 8 signs) but goes on to report some opponents of Prop 8 "went so far as to pretend to support Prop 8 and took 100 signs and dumped them" and another group hit the the Yes on 8 table located on the UC Davis Quad with water balloons while yelling "you teach hate,". The article ends:

"I think yelling 'you teach hate' and exhibiting hate isn't the coolest thing in the world, especially at a university," he said. "People feel very passionately about Prop 8 and they are letting it get the best of them. Unfortunately they're weakening the stance of their argument by acting hypocritically."

Meirovitz and wife Jo Lynn have since replaced their Yes on 8 signs with a homemade sign made of plywood, attached to a tree in their front yard with a bike lock, a sign that they will not forfeit their right to free speech anytime soon.

Representatives from the No on 8 campaign did not respond to requests for information regarding sign theft or vandalism on their side.

Hate Crime Charge in Prop 8 Scuffle

A man from Torrance is being charged with a hate crime for scuffling with a man pulling out a Yes on 8 lawn sign and throwing it in the street. Torrance is in Southern California in Los Angeles County. Here's how KTLA is reporting the story:

Official: Gay Man Attacked With 'Yes on Prop. 8' Sign

TORRANCE -- Authorities say a Torrance man who used an anti-gay marriage "Yes on Prop. 8" sign to attack an openly gay man has been charged with a felony hate crime.

Joseph Storm, 23, got into a scuffle with a 22-year-old man wearing a "No on 8" button early Sunday in Torrance, according to Deputy District Attorney Janet Wilson.

Storm and the victim, whose identity has not been released, have known each other since junior high school, she said.

During the fight, Storm took the lawn sign and knocked the victim down with it, then punched him in the face and choked him, Wilson said.

Storm is also accused of calling the victim a derogatory name for homosexuals.

Wilson said it was not immediately clear whether Proposition 8 was at the center of the dispute.

Storm, who was arrested Monday night, told police that littering led to the fight.

Storm claimed he saw the victim hold up his middle finger toward the sign, then pull it out of the lawn and throw it in the street, Wilson said.

Storm said he didn't know what the sign said, but got angry because the other man was littering, which is why he assaulted him, Wilson added.

Proposition 8 would amend the state constitution to say that only marriage between one man and one woman would be recognized in California.

The controversial measure has sparked several clashes between supporters and opponents across the state.

Vandals Hit Arcata Church Supporting Prop 8

Arcata is in the far North of California, in Humbolt County and is the home of Humbolt State University. The Willits News reports a church has been vandalized twice. I'm glad to see the article includes the pastor's quote pointing out the irony.
It's a sign of the times.

The marquee in an Arcata church parking lot, which once displayed a political message advocating for Proposition 8, was vandalized Monday night for the second time in less than two weeks.

The Trinity Baptist Church, which will function as a polling place for about 600 voters in two precincts this election, maintained a sign with the message, “God loves you. Protect Marriage.”

On Oct. 18, someone used brown spray paint to scrawl “8 is hate” across the sign, doing about $300 in damage, church officials estimated.

The marquee was not yet repaired when vandals apparently struck a second time Monday night, tearing off the clear plastic face, stealing the letters and breaking the tracks into which the letters fit.

”They don't have the right to tear down our positions, that's our First Amendment right,” said Pastor John “Larry” McCain. “Especially when they're saying equal rights for all. Now that's irony.”

McCain said he has lived and worked in the Arcata community for nearly 30 years, and “this is the first time we've had any kind of issue like this.”

The sign, McCain said, will be fixed at a cost of around $500. The church offers many community service functions, which McCain said will not be affected as he plans to draw from the church's maintenance budget for the repairs.

”I want to fix this,” McCain said. “I'm not going to be silenced by somebody who disagrees with me.”

Gay rights activist Jamila Tharp, who sits on the national board for Marriage Equality USA, said “I agree with Pastor McCain 100 percent. It is his First Amendment rights and it's absolutely wrong to vandalize his church.”

Tharp said although she feels the proposition puts her own constitutional rights up for a vote, the church “certainly deserves their constitutional rights.”

Tharp said the vandalism does a disservice to their position, by violating other people's civil liberties.

”We are about helping to change hearts and minds, and using nonviolent means to do that,” Tharp said.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vandals Egg Pro Prop 8 Church

This news story is from Fresno in Central California:
Vandals targeted a downtown Fresno church that supports a California ballot measure that would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Workers at Cornerstone Church got to their offices Tuesday to find the offices and the sanctuary, which is in the historic Wilson Theater, had been egged. Crews are working on cleaning up the mess.

On Sunday, a rally supporting Proposition 8 was held at City Hall. Cornerstone's Pastor Jim Franklin told other prop eight supporters his home had recently been egged.

Arrests in Theft of Yes on Prop 8 signs in Roseville

This is from the Sacramento Bee about the sign thefts in Roseville, a city in Northern California, east of Sacramento.
Roseville police arrested a man and two women early today who were reportedly stealing "Yes on Proposition 8" signs from residents' yards.

Officers recovered 53 signs from the suspects' vehicle - all in support of Proposition 8, said Dee Dee Gunther, police department spokeswoman.

The arrests occurred about 12:32 a.m. after a resident in the 200 block of Sierra Boulevard spotted someone taking a sign out of a neighbor's yard.

A few minutes later an officer spotted a green sedan, matching the description of the suspect vehicle in the 700 block of Shasta Street. All four doors and the trunk were open and the officer watched as two people walked to the car and placed something in the trunk. The car then drove away but was stopped by police.

Police arrested Brian Joseph Greene (left photo), 18 of Roseville, Kacey Elizabeth Flieder (right photo), 18, of Sacramento and a 17-year-old girl from Roseville. The 18-year-olds were booked on suspicion of possession of stolen property, conspiracy, petty theft and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The 17-year-old was cited and released to her parents.

Karen England, a local coordinator for the Yes on 8 campaign said theft and vandalism of Proposition 8 signs has become a continuing problem. In some cases, signs have been stolen multiple times. Proposition 8 backers along Misty Creek Drive, off Foothills Boulevard, have started bringing their signs in at night but recently they also have experienced spray paint vandalism as well as sign theft.

"This has been happening all over Roseville," England said, noting that she has filed two police reports related to theft of signs from her yard. Her organization recently posted a $1,000 reward for information leading the arrest of sign thieves and vandals, England said.

The End of the Long Boom

I have been wondering how much of the market sell-off is related to the increasing likelihood of the next president being Obama, with the attendant increases in taxes for capital gains. I am thinking that people want to take all their capital gains this year to avoid the higher capital gains tax rates in the Obama years.

So I was interested this morning to see this in Investor's Business Daily:
He wants a 33% increase in the tax rates on capital gains and dividends, an increase of 16% to 32% in the top payroll tax rate, reinstatement of the death tax with a 45% top rate, and a new payroll tax on employers estimated at 7% to help finance his health insurance plan. He's also contending for higher tariffs under his protectionist policies.

Finally, he would increase corporate taxes by 25%, though American businesses already face the second-highest marginal tax rates in the industrialized world, thus directly harming manufacturing and job creation while weakening demand for the dollar.

Obama argues disingenuously that his tax increases would only affect higher-income workers and "corporate fat cats." But it is precisely these top marginal tax rates that control incentives for savings, investment, entrepreneurship, business expansion, jobs and economic growth. While he wants to tax the rich, the burden will fall on the poor and the middle class.

In their new book, "The End of Prosperity," Art Laffer, Steve Moore and Peter Tanous argue that the threat of this tax tsunami is already destabilizing our financial markets and causing capital flight from America.

They write, "Hot capital is escaping over the borders out of the United States and flowing into China, India, Europe, and even Japan. . . Starting in late 2007, foreigners started pulling their money out of the United States, and Americans started investing more abroad. Global investors are losing confidence in the U.S."

I included that last paragraph just because it is so wrong about right now. What is happening right now is the opposite, money is flowing into Japanese Yen and US Dollars. But not into investment in the stock market. And I am thinking the reason for that is the increased taxes mentioned in the editorial.

The value of stocks is based on the expected earnings for shareholders. If the shareholders are going to be hit with a higher capital gains rate, then the expected value of the earnings for shareholders is lowered. That means people are not willing to pay so much for equity investments.

The higher the probability of Obama's election, the greater the sell off.

(I am not in denial of the other factors, e.g., mortgage melt down. Just wanted to mention this one.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Now Vandalism? Prop 8 Opponents Getting Desperate

The opponents of Prop 8 are getting more aggressive. Before they were just stealing the Yes on Prop 8 signs, or changing the signs to read No. But now they are spray painting other property of those advocating Yes on Prop 8. Here is a story about a trailer that was spray painted. And here is one about a garage door that was spray painted.

The opponents of Prop 8 are showing their true colors. And it doesn't look like a rainbow to me. It looks like they don't respect freedom of speech or the political process.

Friday, October 24, 2008

More on Prop 8 Funding

As of October 23, "Supporters have raised at least $27.7 million, while opponents have taken in $29.2 million, closing a fundraising gap that had them $10 million behind at the beginning of the month."

Almost 75% of the total contributions have been from individuals or institutions based in California. Only 20% of supporting money is from out of state while opponents have raised 36% from out of state. There have been 80 international donors, 3 in support and 77 in opposition.

From here.

Gay Marriage -- It Won't Be OK to Disagree

Woman arrested for theft of pro-Prop. 8 signs

From North San Diego County the North County Times reports:

CARLSBAD ---- A 28-year-old Carlsbad woman was arrested Thursday morning after she admitted to removing campaign signs opposing gay marriage from a Carlsbad Village Drive median.

Someone called Carlsbad police about 8:30 a.m. to report the theft of several signs supporting Proposition 8, a statewide ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage, police spokeswoman Lynn Diamond said.

Kimberly Erlenwein, who was there when police arrived, admitted to taking the signs and was arrested on suspicion of petty theft, Diamond said.

Erlenwein said later that she was on her way to get coffee Thursday when she saw half a block of the median covered in pro-Prop. 8 signs. They upset her enough that she left the coffee shop, walked into the median and took 11 of the 22 signs to her car, she said.

"To me, it's the equivalent of 22 Confederate flags in the median," Erlenwein said. "Laws should be written to protect people's rights, not to take them away."

Erlenwein, who married her wife in July after the state Supreme Court upheld same-sex marriage earlier this year, said she didn't know it was a crime to take the signs.

"I thought that, because the signs were on public property, I had as much right to take them down as the other person did to put them up," she said Thursday.

Erlenwein said she would not have removed the signs if she'd know the city had issued a permit for them to be placed in the median near Interstate 5.

Less than a week before Erlenwein's arrest, Carlsbad-based Prop. 8 supporters reported that most of the 100-plus signs they put up throughout the city had disappeared.

Police said Thursday they don't know whether Erlenwein was responsible for those thefts.

Erlenwein denied any involvement, saying she wasn't aware of the earlier incidents until the man who called the police Thursday accused her of additional thefts.

Laurie Haslam, a local leader of the pro-Prop. 8 group Coalition to Protect Marriage, said it was her signs that Erlenwein took. She said she had mixed feelings about Erlenwein's arrest.

"I'm sad that someone feels like they have to take our signs down, because one of the things that I love about our nation is we have freedom of speech," Haslam said."But I hope this arrest will show people we're serious."

Petty theft ---- theft of property valued at $400 or less ---- is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail, according to state law.

SUV denouncing family's support for Prop 8

When a family in San Jose put out a banner in support of Prop 8, strangers came and parked their SUV across from the house with angry epithets.

From the San Jose Mercury News
At last, the SUV with the inflammatory slogans denouncing a San Jose family for supporting Proposition 8 is gone from Harwood Road.

"They came last night, washed the paint off and drove away," said Bob Sundstrom, whose family incurred the wrath of two gay-marriage supporters after the family hung a huge banner on their garage in favor of the ballot measure banning same-sex marriage. "What a relief, I'm happy it's gone."

Sunday, two women in a Chevrolet Surbuban drove up in front of the Sundstrom's home and painted the sport-utility vehicle's windows with slogans accusing the devout Mormon family of seven of being "bigots" and "haters." So for the next few days, the Sundstroms were forced to reckon with the eyesore. Police told them the vehicle would be towed away if was not moved in three days.

Tuesday evening, however, one of the women whom Sundstrom recognized from the previous encounter showed up, washed off the slogans and then left in the SUV.

"She wasn't in the mood for conversation. It's obvious we weren't going to change each other's view," Sundstrom said. "She brought her own bucket to wash off the paint."

The SUV is registered to Mara McWilliams and Renee Mangrum, who married in 2004 when San Francisco began performing gay marriages. Neither could be reached for comment.

Even now, the entire episode still rankles Sundstrom.

"It astounds me that someone would do this," he said. "It's been quite a civics lesson for me and my friends."

In an earlier article on this, the Mercury News reported:
The Sundstroms, devout Mormons, say they put the large banner on their home only after their lawn signs had been stolen.

"We are not motivated by hate and anger in any way," Michele Sundstrom said. "We think same-sex couples should enjoy the same rights and privileges as married couples, as it says in the California family code. We just don't want to redefine the word marriage."

More than 200,000 Yes on 8 campaign signs have been removed or damaged across the state, including about 30,000 in the Bay Area, said Robert Warnick, who coordinates campaign signs for the Yes on 8 campaign. Supporters of a ban on same-sex marriage have suffered more than $20,000 in damage to cars and other property, he said.

The Yes on 8 campaign is shipping in 250,000 signs, which cost about $2 each, for the conclusion of the campaign.

A Black List / Boycott Case Study

Here is an example of how Californians Against Hate operates. They identified that a $100,000 donation to help get Prop 8 on the ballot was from William Bolthouse, the founder of Bolthouse Farms. Although William Bolthouse had sold his stake in the company in 2005, Califonians Against Hate targeted Bolthouse Farms, a large producer of fresh-cut carrots in the world and the maker of juices and smoothies sold in foodie haunts and upscale markets.
Demonstrations at the "rock 'n' roll" Ralphs on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and Whole Foods markets in New York City and Washington, D.C., ensued. The gay blogosphere lit up, indignant.

Read it all here.

More on Prop 8 and Blacklisting

Following up on yesterday's post, there is a "blacklist" at Californians Against Hate that has a two page list of donors giving $5,000 and up to the California Marriage Amendment which they call the Dishonor Roll.The list is based on the required material filed with the state, but has been augmented with contact information and other information if known.

The Protect Marriage group appears to be considering publicizing a list of its own -- the 35 public companies that have made major donations to the opponents of Prop 8. This would include Pacific Gas and Electric, Levi Stauss and AT&T. Protect Marriage sent these 35 companies a letter that indicated they would be exposed to the public unless they made a balancing contribution to Protect Marriage. Now Protect Marriage is being accused of extortion. I guess it would have been better to just pass on the list to a friend to publish under the name of an anonymous group.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The New Blacklisting?

I knew these sorts of lists were kept, but was still disturbed to come across this specific one today. Someone has taken the list of everyone who had contributed to support California's Marriage Amendment, Prop 8, as of early October. The list is conveniently sorted by state and then city to facilitate the research.

This list is an attempt to determine which contributions were from Mormons. But such a list could easily be used to blacklist anyone who contributed in one's community.

Notice the careful way the have framed this as mere information gathering. Can you imagine what the GLBT activists would be saying if a comparable site was set up with the full list of donors for the campaign against Prop 8?

Why the elite media hate Sarah Palin

The elite media loathe Sarah Palin and cannot allow the McCain/ Palin ticket to win, because it would significantly undermine the self understanding of the social class of the members of the elite media themselves. As a recent emailing from the Marquis Who's Who in America explained:

Who's Who in America contains a diverse cross-section of American achievers, serving as a historical record of success and documenting trends and changes in America's professional landscape at any one time. Here are just a few interesting facts from the 2009 edition.

There are more graduates of Harvard University listed this year than any other college, making it the top source of future achievers in America. Rounding out the top five are Columbia University, University of California, Yale University, and University of Michigan.

In this age of technology it may not come as a surprise to many that Microsoft, with 122 current employees listed, is the most represented corporation.

Proving that greatness can be found in every corner of America, the top 5 most represented cities are New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston.
Just as Americans come from all ethnicities and nationalities, Who's Who in America includes many listees born outside the United States. The top five foreign birth nations represented in this edition are India, China, Canada, Germany, and England.

While on the surface, inclusion in Who's Who is an acknowledgment of individual achievement, on another level, it is recognizing membership in an elite class who claim to be achievers. Members of the elite media, while many may not actually be listed in Who's Who, conform to the specifications of the class: have attended the specified, or comparable, colleges and have resided in one of the specified cities, even if it is not their current city of residence.

Obama is stunning in how completely he has obtained these markers of the class. He received his undergraduate degree from Columbia and his law degree from Havard. He lived in Los Angeles when he attended Occidental, New York when he attended Columbia and then Chicago and Washington D.C. Even his multicultural ethnicity proves this system is based on merit, not inherited "social class" as it once was understood. Thus, Obama's rise is the validation of this new version of social class in America, and validates all the others whose claims to social class are based on this system.

Conversely, Palin has achieved without obtaining any of the markers of the class. She graduated from the University of Idaho and did not attend graduate school. She has lived only in Alaska, Hawaii and Idaho. She has absolutely no claims to elite status based on education or city of residence. Her rise to the most elite government position in the America would invalidate all those who base their claims to elite status on these markers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Prop 8 Funding in Time Magazine Misleading

Time has an article on California's Marriage Amendment that lists major funding sources for both the Yes and No campaigns:
California's fight over the initiative to ban gay marriage (popularly called Prop. 8) has attracted its share of million-dollar donors. The big contributors in the fight to approve Prop. 8 include the Knights of Columbus ($1 million); the National Organization for Marriage ($500,000); Dr. John Templeton, the son of the philanthropist Sir John Templeton ($450,000); and Focus on the Family ($500,000). Fighting against approval of Prop. 8 are celebrities like Steven Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw ($50,000 each), as well as former GOP U.S. Senate candidate Michael Huffington ($100,000); Robert Haas, chairman emeritus of Levi Straus ($200,000); and the California Teachers Union Issues PAC ($2 million). The media battle has been intense. Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres (who had vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden on her show to oppose Prop. 8) has thrown $100,000 to buy TV time to fight the ban. Meanwhile, proponents of Prop. 8 — conservative groups and churches among them — have put up their own ads.

The lead sentence indicates that the paragraph is about million dollar donors. The following sentence does list "the big contributors in the fight to approve Prop 8". But then the next sentence leaves out the biggest contributors for the fight against Prop. 8. I know this because the San Francisco Chronicle did a story earlier this month and listed some million dollar contributors to the No on Prop 8 campaign:
Among the largest donations to the anti-Prop. 8 effort have been $1.2 million from Robert W. Wilson, a retired Brooklyn hedge-fund manager, $1.1 million from David Bohnett, a Beverly Hills producer, $1 million from David Maltz, a Cleveland philanthropist, and $1 million from Bruce Bastian, a former software executive from Utah.

So, why would the Time article be constructed this way? It works to leave the impression that the only million dollar donations came from the Knights of Columbus (in support of prop 8) and the California Teachers Union (against Prop 8). The article creates the impression that the big money for Prop 8 is from out of state and the money against Prop 8 is from in state, when in fact, very rich out of state gay men are making huge contributions to the No on Prop 8 campaign.

Notice also that the second page of the Time article features quotations from two individuals who are opposed to Prop 8 (Kristina Wilfore and Gavin Newsom) but has no quotations from people in support of it. The final quote from Wilfore was a little disturbing:
"A lot of people are going to have to die" before Election Day is an easy day for gay marriage, she says.
So, it was wise of Time to throw in the Newsom material so as not to end the article that way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Poll Shows 52% Support California Marriage Amendment

The Knights of Columbus have released the results today:
A new poll of California voters shows Proposition 8, a proposed constitutional amendment that would reserve marriage for opposite-sex couples, has a 9 percentage point lead among likely voters, 52% to 43%. The poll was conducted for the Knights of Columbus by the Marist College Institute of Public Opinion between September 28 and October 5, 2008.

The survey shows that Proposition 8 has majority support among men (53%), women (51%), whites (51%), Latinos (57%), those who are married (59%) and those age 45 and older (59%). Those opposed include likely voters under age 45 (54% opposed) and those who are not married (54% opposed).

The poll also shows that Proposition 8 leads in every region of California except the Bay Area, where 58% are opposed.

Remember, the Knights of Columbus came in with $1 million to support Prop 8. The poll appears to be designed to help concept ads to make for the final weeks before the vote:
Poll respondents were presented with several arguments and asked whether each one would make them more or less likely to vote for Proposition 8. A majority (58%) were more likely to favor Proposition 8 when reminded that if it passes, same-sex couples will still be able to form civil unions in California. More than half of those describing themselves as opponents of Proposition 8 said they were more likely to shift from opposing to favoring the referendum because of this argument.

See the details in a slide show here.

Stop Worrying: There's Probably No God ???

Ruth Gledhill reports:
Richard Dawkins is helping fund a campaign by the British Humanist Association to persuade people that God does not exist. Posters are to be placed on 30 bendy buses in London in January with the slogan: 'There's probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy your life.'

Ruth points out that this assumes that thinking there is a God would cause people to worry and not enjoy life. But, that's not the way most Christians actually experience faith.

The assumption that others are worrying and not enjoying life may be a case of projection. Perhaps the people who are worrying and not enjoying life are Richard Dawkins and the other members of the British Humanist Association. As Ruth puts it:
This could be a classic case of what psychotherapists describe as 'transference'. I take some delight in learning from this that Richard Dawkins and the small number of people who belong to the British Humanist Association have clearly been worrying about the existence of God.

(I think she meant projection, not transference.)

But what are they worried about? Could it be that if there were a God, then that God would not approve of their activities?

I notice something else that Ruth didn't mention -- "probably". Probably? This is not a confident statement.

So they can't stop worrying because ... they are really not sure. Their incisive logic refuses to let them claim absolutely that there isn't God. Could it be that they think there isn't a God but they can't stop thinking about God, the idea keeps nagging at them, worrying them and keeping them from enjoying life.

So, maybe they thought that if they post big signs that will move around and catch them unawares it will help. Perhaps they think that by seeing the signs on buses it will comfort them to be reminded of their belief at those moments when they are falling into a moment of thinking "Well, possibly there is God."

The problem with this signs on buses scheme is that their internal integrity requires that "probably" on the signs, and really, wasn't it the lack of certainty that was the problem all along.

(Anyway, that is what popped into my head when I read it.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Widow Hears Voice of God in Bangladesh

Hosea 6:6 shared this from his parish listserve:
As many of you know, I recently returned from a month in Bangladesh and India, working with people of many faiths on religious freedom issues. I also had the privilege to fellowship with and teach people from the indigenous churches.

To give you a brief glimpse, I visited Orissa, India, where since August Hindu extremists have killed dozens of Christians, burned over 4,000 churches and homes, and driven some 25,000 into hiding in the jungle. Police have been helpless to overcome the violent mobs and in some cases have been complicit in the attacks. The extremists continue to tell Christians they must convert to Hinduism if they want to return home, and many who remained in their villages have already been forcibly “converted” to Hinduism.

The Hindu extremists claim that the violence is due to aggressive Christian evangelism that destroys local Hindu culture, and so the Indian government has said one of its responses to the violence will be to enforce existing anti-conversion laws aimed at curbing Christian mission work. Despite all these difficulties, one Indian Christian leader told me that he remains confident: “Ultimately there will be justice. God will prevail. People will know the truth.”

In Bangladesh, a Muslim-background woman told me that she and her adult children converted to Christianity after her husband died. After many years they are still the only Christians in their village of 100 Muslim families. In the beginning, the villagers pillaged and destroyed her small store, beat her, shunned her, and even threw feces at her door. She was thinking one day of where she could go to escape when she heard the Lord tell her to stay put: “If you leave, the people will not receive the light.” So she stayed. When her neighbors came and mocked her, she thanked them. That was in 2005. Today there is a meeting of seekers in her home every Friday night.

This is how the Kingdom of God is growing in the most challenging circumstances— with love, obedience, and faith. Thank you for your prayers for me while I was gone. I’ve learned a lot and hope to share more with you this Sunday after service.

In His grace,

I see similarity to the case of Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was ready to give up and leave Birmingham because of the threats on his life. It was then that he heard the voice in his kitchen telling him to "Preach the Gospel, stand up for truth, stand up for righteousness". Through out his life he credited that night as exceptional and the source of his courage. In both cases the person was ready to give up and leave the hostile situation when they heard the voice of God encouraging them to stay to spread the gospel.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hanged for Being a Christian

Very sad article by Alasdair Palmer in the Telegraph begins:
Eighteen years ago, Rashin Soodmand's father was hanged in Iran for converting to Christianity. Now her brother is in a Mashad jail, and expects to be executed under new religious laws brought in this summer. Alasdair Palmer reports.

A month ago, the Iranian parliament voted in favour of a draft bill, entitled "Islamic Penal Code", which would codify the death penalty for any male Iranian who leaves his Islamic faith. Women would get life imprisonment. The majority in favour of the new law was overwhelming: 196 votes for, with just seven against.
Further down we learn:
Rashin Soodmand is a 29-year-old Iranian Christian. Her father, Hossein Soodmand, was the last man to be executed in Iran for apostasy, the "crime" of abandoning one's religion. He had converted from Islam to Christianity in 1960, when he was 13 years old. Thirty years later, he was hanged by the Iranian authorities for that decision.

Today, Rashin's brother, Ramtin, is also held in a prison cell in Mashad, Iran's holiest city. He was arrested on August 21. He has not been charged but he is a Christian. And Rashin fears that, just as her father was the last man to be executed for apostasy in Iran, her brother may become one of the first to be killed under Iran's new law.

Not surprisingly, Rashin is desperately worried. "I am terribly anxious about him," she explains. "Even though my brother is not an apostate, because he has never been a Muslim – my father raised us all as Christians – I don't think he is safe. They assume that if you are Iranian, you must be Muslim."

Her brother's situation has ominous echoes of her father's fate. Rashin was 14 when her father was arrested. "He was held in prison for one month," she remembers. "Then the religious police released him without explanation and without apology. We were overjoyed. We thought his ordeal was over."

But six months later, the police came back and took her father away again. This time, they offered him a choice: he could denounce his Christian faith, and the church in which he was a pastor – or he would be killed. "Of course, my father refused to give up his faith," Rashid recalls proudly. "He could not renounce his God. His belief in Christ was his life – it was his deepest conviction." So two weeks later, Hossein Soodmand was taken by guards to the prison gallows and hanged.

Read it all here.

H/T to Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans at Get Religion

Pro-Gay Marriage Priest Trained at Infamous Seminary

The Catholic priest in Fresno who defied his bishop and preached a sermon in support of gay marriage instead of one affirming the Catholic doctrine of marriage and supporting Prop 8 is a graduate of the infamous seminary St. John's Camarillo. Here's some of what Bishopaccountablity.og has posted about St John's Camarillo:
About 10% of St. John's graduates reported to have been ordained in the Los Angeles Archdiocese since 1950 — 65 of roughly 625 — have been accused of molesting minors, according to a review of ordination announcements, lawsuits, published reports and the archdiocese's 2004 list of alleged abusers. In two classes — 1966 and 1972 — a third of the graduates were later accused of molestation.

The St. John's figures are much higher than the nationwide rate of alleged molesters in the American priesthood, as calculated by a church-commissioned survey. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice study found that 4% of priests and deacons between 1950 and 2002 have been accused of abuse.

The John Jay survey determined that the quarter-century from 1960 through 1984 was particularly troublesome for alleged abuse by clerics nationwide. At St. John's, about 15% of priests who graduated during that period and served in the Los Angeles Archdiocese were accused of sexual abuse, records show.

The SF Chronicle article said that Farrow is 50, so I am thinking that he would have graduated from St. John's during that period.

Please understand that I am NOT suggesting Farrow is a child molester. I am suggesting that he was trained in his religion at a seminary where deviant behavior was the new normal. For example, consider this snippet from Bishopaccountablity.og:
Luis Godinez, who briefly attended St. John's in the late 1980s, said he left because he was offended by the promiscuity on campus.

He said he often could not use his dorm bathroom at night because it was occupied by men having sex.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

1st Graders' Field Trip to Lesbian Wedding

The 1st graders of a San Francisco public charter school had a field trip to see their lesbian teacher marry her sexual partner. Please click here to watch the video on the San Francisco Chronicle website. (If anyone knows how I can embed this, please let me know.)

The Mayor of San Francisco is officiating and the children are participating by throwing flower petals as their teacher comes down the steps of City Hall. This is a public funded educational field trip during the school day.

The article is here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hindu Threat to Christians: Convert or Flee

Front page story in the New York Times today on Christians in India being forced to convert to Hinduism:
BOREPANGA, India — The family of Solomon Digal was summoned by neighbors to what serves as a public square in front of the village tea shop.

Borepanga has been rocked by weeks of religious violence.

They were ordered to get on their knees and bow before the portrait of a Hindu preacher. They were told to turn over their Bibles, hymnals and the two brightly colored calendar images of Christ that hung on their wall. Then, Mr. Digal, 45, a Christian since childhood, was forced to watch his Hindu neighbors set the items on fire.

“ ‘Embrace Hinduism, and your house will not be demolished,’ ” Mr. Digal recalled being told on that Wednesday afternoon in September. “ ‘Otherwise, you will be killed, or you will be thrown out of the village.’ ”

USA Today has already published a rebuttal from the Times of India:
Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, a BJP politician who runs the South Indian state, blames Christian groups for the violence.

"While Christians and Hindus have co-existed peacefully in the state, there have been unconstitutional and illegal efforts by some Christian organisations such as 'New Life' to forcibly convert or to induce conversion to Christianity," he says, according to The Times of India, adding: "Efforts of such organization include publishing booklets like 'Satya Darshini' in which Hindu gods and goddesses were denigrated. Our constitution provides for freedom of religion but does not permit forcible or induced conversion."

But I don't think booklets denigrating Hindu gods is a "forced conversion" in the same league with threatening to kill people. Actually, this response to the situation only serves to confirm the danger to Christians.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Educator as Gardener: Bringing Down the Tree

Thinking of Bill Ayers commitment to education as a radical act, I thought I would share this poem from a book of poems for educators, Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach. The poem uses the metaphor of a garden. The poet is suggesting that the intention of radical educators is to send out thoughts that will metaphorically gnaw away in the dark and eventually uproot the tree at the center of the garden. But what does the tree represent for them? America’s cultural values? Political system?

The Seven Of Pentacles

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

by Marge Piercy

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Research Study Debunks Claim Christians are Homophobic

It would appear to be true that Christians love the sinner and hate the sin according to the results of a study published in the latest issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. The researchers from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University found that people who scored high in religiousness do distinguish between same sex attraction and same sex behavior in their responses to others.

The study had 100 female participants who were scored for interest in religion. The participants were led to believe that they were working with another participant as a two person team. The participants received hand written notes from their ostensible team partners with personal disclosures. Half the notes disclosed that the writer was gay, the other notes did not disclose sexual orientation. Half the notes disclosed that the writer was engaging in sexually promiscuous behavior outside of marriage. This created four cases: gay sexually active team member, gay celibate team member, heterosexual sexually active team member and heterosexual celibate team member. The participants were then given two minutes to perform tasks that could benefit the team member or a third student.

In general the participants helped the team member more than the unknown student. Participants did not help a gay team mate less than a heterosexual. The promiscuous were helped less than the celibate. The participants did not differentiate between a gay and a straight promiscuous team mate. Participants who scored high on religiousness helped the promiscuous person less.

The researchers concluded that the participants were able to distinguish between out group status (having same sex attractions) and value violation behavior (promiscuity). Ironically it would appear that it is previous researchers who failed to distinguish between out group status and value violation in previous studies that concluded that subjects who scored hign in religiousness were prejudiced in their behavior toward gays. The previous studies failed to provide the straight promiscuous category for comparison.

Here is the abstract. The site requires a fee to see the whole article.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

California Marriage Amendment Winning According to New Poll

Following a recent spate of television and radio ads on behalf of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, a new poll suggests a rise in support for Proposition 8, the ballot measure that would block gay men and lesbians from marrying.

The new poll found that 47 percent expected to vote yes on Proposition 8, which would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, while 42 percent expected to vote no. That is a notable difference from a SurveyUSA poll released Sept. 25 which found 44 percent planned to vote yes, while 49 percent planned to vote no — an apparent 10 point swing.

The San Jose Mercury News article concludes:
Surprisingly, the new poll showed some of the strongest support among younger voters, those aged 18 to 34, a group that has been consistently opposed to a same-sex marriage ban in polls by other organizations and in an earlier poll by SurveyUSA.
SurveyUSA noted, however, that the youngest voters "are the hardest to poll" and are "the most unpredictable voters."

(Actually, this youth vote result is consistent with the May LA Times poll results. We have frequently been told that as more and more of the young people vote, same sex marriage is inevitable because the younger generation has been "educated" to be far more supportive of it. However, for the LA Times poll in May, when asked if they supported same sex marriage, civil unions or neither, only the people 65 and older had a higher percent that said "Neither" than the 18-34 year olds. See here.)

The game changer ads:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Totally OT: Aggressive Short Selling of S&P Futures

(This is my second totally off topic economic post.)

I've been wondering if the current market collapse is being driven by hedge funds aggressive short selling of S&P Futures in order to hedge their long positions on individual stocks. I was glad to see that someone else has been wondering the same thing:
Beginning last Monday, I began to see a number of big hedge funds in the S&P 500 futures pit, boldly selling futures to hedge their core long holdings. As the market dropped precipitously on both Friday afternoon and Monday afternoon, they got ever more aggressive -- according to my sources, more aggressive today than at almost any point in a decade or more.

If my observation is correct -- and we will get some sense of this on Friday afternoon when the size of the professionally hedged S&P futures positions are released; our thesis will be proven correct if there is a large increase in open interest -- it will be proof positive that those hedge funds are now shorting the hell out of S&P futures in order to hedge their cratering longs. Indeed, some of those hedge funds might now even be overhedged and short S&P futures, as it has been working.

This strategy is a classic tactic one sees at panic/capitulation lows as hedge-hoggers sell short what they can sell easily -- the S&P futures market is deep and liquid -- while they retain what they can't sell easily (i.e., large blocks of individual equities). I have always been concerned about where the marginal buyer would come from, especially with the SEC ban, and, again, if I am correct, the momentum of a rising market into the all-important year-end could now cause a reverse panic to the upside as hedge fund managers that have overhedged their portfolio with futures buy them back and cover their positions just as fast as they sold them short.

Indeed, it is quite possible that those managers could lose both ways -- on the upside on their short futures positions (which some have overhedged because it's been working!) and as their core holdings fail to perform in line with an advancing market.

That's what I see happening recently in the S&P futures pit, and even if I am only half correct, those hedge-hoggers could be on a sinking ship without a life preserver as the stock market might have bottomed under the weight and intensity of their aggressive short selling of S&P futures.

In summary, investors and traders might now be looking for the answer to the market's recent drubbing in all the wrong places. The fundamental news is bad, but this is known and is arguably being cured by public and private sector initiatives. Rather, it could be that the recent behavior of hedge funds -- namely, their imperious and aggressive shorting of S&P futures -- is even worse than the fundamentals and might be a root cause for the precipitous market drop over the past 10 days.

As with Kass, I'm not denying the weak fundamentals. I am just wondering if something else is going on as well.

From Doug Kass on

Saturday, October 4, 2008

More dreams about Sarah Palin

As you may recall, the Huffington Post posted a piece by Eve Ensler that began with her dream of Sarah Palin. It turns out that Slate's editor, David Plotz, has also posted a piece about dreams of Sarah Palin:
I rarely remember my dreams, but for the past week, GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin has been haunting me. Night after night, she appears in my dreams, always as a scolding, ominous figure.
When I mentioned my Palin dreams to Slate colleagues, they volunteered their own. One Obama-supporting colleague dreamed she had urged her young son to kill Palin with a string bean. Another dreamed she was at a fashion show and Palin served her crème fraîche on little scooped corn chips. A third says, "In the Sarah Palin dream I keep having, she has superhuman powers but is not really a person at all. In fact, she is more like the weather with glasses and an up-do, pushing clouds around and pitching lightning bolts."

Plotz is requesting that readers submit their own dreams. I am not sure what he has received by email, but there is one dream posted in the comments to his article:
So whatever it was I have actualy dreamed, I don't actualy remember. What I do remember is that I woke up with a totaly different feeling for her then I actulay have in real life. In the real life I think she would make a pathetic VP and the worst president ever, now and next year and in four years, and in 10000 years because she proved to be both silly and mean. The feeling I woke up with however, was that she was actualy very nice... I think in my dream I must have been one of her kids or someting and she was sweet and kind to me and gentle and very protective. I felt a bit like a baby chick under his hatching hen...

At first when I red David's invitation to write our dreams about her I thought that I have nothing to say since I don't actualy remember anything that can be narrated. But then I thought more about it... I believe it could be relevant however regarding what makes her fans adore her, beyond the fact that she is a lot like them. Those people that are so childish and naive and feel so unprotected and long for a mommy that would tell them "it's ok, baby, don't worry, mommy will look after everything, mommy has solutions for everything, it's ok...! All will go good, dear, just... "trust and obey" " as one of those hymns goes... And if there is something nice about her is that she really seem to be one of those "hatching hen" kind of mother... But this may help with one, two, five, 12 kids... When it is about so many, I still believe that a smart dad may be a better solution...:)