Fellow Travelers

Friday, July 25, 2014

Obsolescence of the business model approaches for Redbox

I posted this to the Redbox facebook after a friend of mind had some problems. It was swiftly deleted. They careful police their facebook page to ensure that only the happy things stay. And I've been banned. But not of that will change this:

Redbox deleted a post from a friend of mine complaining about an unfounded "fraud alert" preventing her from renting a movie. All she got was a
"Thank you for the information, Stephanie. We will research this issue, and give you a call as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience."
and then gone.

I suggested that she just use Netflix. Because that's the giant Indiana Jones stone ball rolling down the hallway behind you, isn't it Redbox?

Remember that in May, you announced you'd be closing 500 kiosks due to, what was it, "declining revenue" and "floundering growth"? Perhaps those aren't your exact words, just how they were presented. And the stock price of your parent company Outerwall has fallen 20% YTD compared to the 14.45% YTD growth of Netflix.

I did ask her why she didn't just use Netflix.
"I have netflix, but that takes longer, I want to rent it for tonight...and RedBox has the corner on that market."
Well, that's true enough. You've got market saturation now, as every competing kiosk company has failed and closed. But when it comes down to it, your business model relies on obsolete technology, physical media used for viewing movies. People use Redbox now because Netflix doesn't have new titles as quickly, and high speed internet for movie streaming isn't as widespread as it soon will be.

That doesn't mean you can afford to alienate people. Family Video lingers on in isolated rural areas and run down suburbs, particularly after the death of Blockbuster, but that doesn't mean they're making a lot of money either. And your business can shrink down to sad obsolescence as well. Roll roll roll. The stone ball is coming. 

Christians and government and taxes

It's sad that when the Bible (the New Testament in fact) has a wealth of verses telling Christians not to worry about money, pay their taxes, and respect their government, so many in America do none of those.

Romans 13:1-7 is pretty clear on the topic:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
When it comes to people complaining about their taxes going to the lazy and poor, who complain about welfare programs and government "giveaways", who say it isn't fair that their hard earned money go to others, I have to think of what John the Baptist said in Luke 3:11
John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
Then there's an account from Jesus in Mark 10:17-25:
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is[b] to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 
The best you can find is a lot of people trying to explain that the verses telling Christians to do these things mean that they should get involved in politics and should complain about how their taxes are spent and be participating citizens in their government. Which requires a person to ignore what the Bible is saying and try to interpret a different meaning... and then get mad at inclusive churches that say same-sex marriage is no big deal because they're selectively interpreting the Bible. You can also find no shortage of American fundamentalists claiming that they should be allowed to help the poor on their own, without having to pay taxes. But there's no Biblical basis for that.

And on top of that, how many American fundamentalist Christians today give to the representatives of the government anything approaching respect and honor? Sure, *I* don't think these elected officials deserve these things, but *I* am not a Christian. Being a Christian has higher moral requirements. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Death Penalty

Man, having a nuanced position on the death penalty is a pain in the ass. It's one of those issues where people have been so conditioned to see it in black and white that either side sees you as the extreme opposite.

My position is that the death penalty can be warranted as a means of both protecting society and as punishment for atrocious crimes. I do not see it as stooping to "their level", since for that to be the case, the people carrying out the death penalty would have to be doing it to a random innocent person, instead of someone who has forfeited their life through murdering another.


I think that the criminal justice in the US is broken. There have been too many death row exonerations. Too many forced confessions, too many corrupt DAs, too many mishandled trials. The haphazard defense against these problems is a long and costly appeals process that still is pretty hit or miss. And it can be difficult to get a stay of execution even if the evidence clearly warrants one. Studies have shown that as many as 1 in 25 of the people *executed* were innocent. This is unacceptable.

With that in mind, I have to oppose the death penalty as it stands in the US. We're far too eager to use it, and for terrible reasons with flimsy justifications. People readily accept the prosecution's version of accounts, when that version can be (and has been) based on doctored evidence or suppressed exculpatory evidence. They use this to build up a good head of outrage, and scream for death in person and across social media. And then, when it comes out that someone is (or, regrettably, was) innocent, they still tend to stick to their guns, or simply ignore it.

Having this position means I take flack from the people who think the death penalty in any and all cases is murder by the state, and from the people who think the death penalty should be used more often and with greater speed, without any care for the reasons why the process is slow. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

"Well, most of the members of the KKK were Democrats"

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 by anti-slavery activists. They were a liberal and progressive party at their inception, being openly abolitionist was an outrageous and extremist position at the time, on par with advocating gay marriage in the 1990s.

During and after the Civil War, socially liberal Republicans found themselves allied with economically conservative wealthy business owners in the North. The political power of the crony capitalists in the Republican Party led to the "Gilded Age" that followed the Civil War. Teddy Roosevelt opposed this, and after his presidency, he took a lot of the progressive Republicans with him to the Bull Moose party. This followed a lot of drama between him and Taft with Taft taking the Republicans in a more economically conservative direction.

Those progressive former Republicans found a new home in the Democrats, especially the northern Democrats who had never been that much into the whole slavery gig. By the 1930s under the New Deal coalition of FDR, the Democrats had adopted a socially liberal and economically liberal platform. The corruption of the Republicans (inescapable because of the political power they'd wielded while Democrats were on the downswing, see "Teapot Dome Scandal") meant that the Democrats were able to get FDR into office, and he was a wildly popular president. The socially liberal Democrats were the ancestors of the abolitionist Republicans, and they began pushing for an end to segregation. They got support in many cases from moneyed interests, because the Socialists and Communists were doing a good job of pointing out the lack of racial freedom in America and tying it to capitalism, so a restoration of racial freedom would weaken the cause of those damned dirty reds. And so it did.

A big first step in establishing racial freedom was Truman's desegregation of the Armed Forces. This was pushed for heavily by returning black WW2 vets. This 1948 desegregation and wider pushes for the same by the national Democratic Party led to a splinter faction of segregationists breaking off from the Democrats in 1948, a group called the Dixiecrats. These guys assumed control of the state-level parties in nearly all of the Southern states. In the 1948 election, they took Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi. They continued to be an electoral force up until George Wallace in 1968 took Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.

It's key to note that the 1948 Democratic Convention is the main switching point. This is the point that people who seek to associate present day Democrats with the KKK and Southern racism most often ignore. It's pretty simple, actually.
1. Hubert Humphrey, the Democrat mayor of Minneapolis, said the Democrats should "get out of the shadow of states' rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights"
2. A bunch of Southern Democrats, led by Strom Thurmond, walked out of the convention as a direct result.
3. Strom Thurmond was originally a Democrat. In 1964, as a direct result of the 1964 Voting Rights act, he switched to the Republican Party.
4. In modern American politics, which political party is talking the most about "states' rights"? Yeah, I thought so.

During the height of the civil rights movement, the Republican Party realized they had a political opportunity, particularly the wealthy economic conservatives. They could go after all these alienated Southerners who were former Democrats, and bring them over to the Republicans. It had been a hundred years since that most hated Republican, Abraham Lincoln, had left the scene. And now under the direction of northerners, the Democrats were definitely coming on strong for racial equality. This led to the Southern Strategy, and it's why there was never a George Wallace style run past 1968. The segregationists and white supremacists had a new home. As Nixon's political strategist Kevin Philips put it:
From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that...but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

His words were prophetic. By courting the Negrophobe whites, the Republicans have never since got more than 10 to 20 percent of the vote. Every state that was part of the Democrat "Solid South" is now part of the Republican "Solid South", and the only thing that changed is which party has the segregationists and its descendants as its members.

This is why when people say "Well the KKK was mostly Democrats" or "Republicans are the Party of Lincoln!", they're right in a way, but wrong if you know anything about 20th century American electoral and party politics. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Right wing hagiography

There are some alarming conclusions to be drawn from thesuccess of right-wing domestic terrorists in Nevada recently. These conclusions don't have to be inferred, they have been plainly stated. One of Bundy's sons, after the armed showdown between militia thugs and BLM employees, said to the media "We won the battle." He told another outlet, “The people have the power when they unite. The war has just begun.” They see this as a war, and one that is just beginning. Having succeeded once it will happen again. Either the next insurrection is surrendered to or it is brutally put down. Either option will only further inspire and embolden the right wing rebels. We are right now in the early stages of a civil war, by their own admission. And it has been going on for a long time, as indicated in this article which gives multiple examples of domestic terrorism by insurrectionists in Nevada. For example:
March 18, 1996: The federal government, which owns 87 percent of the land in Nevada,  is still worried about potential violence if they try to remove illegally grazing cattle from protected land. Two more pipebombs had exploded in Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management offices in the past two years. The Justice Department has 12 lawsuits pending against Nevada cattle ranchers. A federal court in the state struck down the Nye County ordinance that caused trouble the year before. Not that ranchers took that as reason to stand down, however. One local resident told USA Today, "A single district court decision in one district doesn't settle it. It's just a single day in the year of a revolutionary war. We're going to continue on with the fight." Bundy is also continuing to graze on federal lands. "I'm still saying the state of Nevada owns that land, and the federal government has been an encroacher. I'm not moving my cattle. We have ... rights."
They are insurrectionists engaged in war against the federal government, by their own statements, backed up by acts of violence. And here's why that's a bad thing. Let me paint you a picture of the views held by the right wing in America today, an amalgamated sampling of posts I've seen from them. While these are extreme positions, they are not at the fringes of the right wing. Indeed, this is the new mainstream, by sufficient margins that they have a good chance of winning any Republican primary.

Obama is a nazi socialist communist muslim who wants to take their money and their property and give it to brown people. He wants to destroy Christianity and put conservatives into concentration camps disguised as FEMA camps. Obama gives money, tax dollars, to terrorist groups to make them stronger so they can destroy America. Benghazi was the Obama administration intentionally ignoring warning signs and letting good white American veterans die instead of kill Obama’s muslim brothers. 

The government is trying to use communist regulations to destroy American businesses and force American businessmen, small business owners, ranchers, etc, into poverty so that they become dependent on the government. The government is trying to disarm anyone who might stand up to their tyranny. Radical leftist organizations have corrupted the voting process and stolen the last two presidential elections to get their fascist leader into office. Obamacare forces people to get their health care from the government, redistributing money from hard working whites to lazy black and brown people, and it will kill sick whites so they aren’t a drain on resources. Abortion is infanticide, and gay marriage enables sodomite sin, and God will judge America for these crimes.

The conflict with Bundy and the BLM was the government, under the direction of Harry Reid and with Obama’s approval, trying to force the last rancher in Clark County out of business so that they could sell the land to the Chinese and further weaken America. “First amendment zones” are being used to control and restrict the constitutional rights of honest law abiding white protesters. The BLM is going after Bundy because he’s white, and ignoring tax evaders like Al Sharpton, and they’re focusing on trying to drive a rancher out of business when they wouldn’t use those same resources on the border with Mexico to keep criminals and terrorists and job stealers out, and those wetbacks come over and get their free Obamaphones. The government lined up overwhelming force against an innocent rancher whose family had been there for generations, but wouldn’t lift a finger to stop Benghazi.

You can find every single one of these views repeated incessantly on any right wing website, particularly in the comments. You can probably find it on air on Fox News, which to many of them is a centrist or too-far-left news source. To them, all of it ties together. None of it is rational or sane, but it doesn’t have to be. It is their religion, and religion does not have to be sane. Right wing politics have completed their fusion of religion and politics, and now more than ever, everything is seen as a battle of good and evil and they are the handful of good in a world full of evil. There are pillars of their faith. Words like “ACORN”,  “Muslim Brotherhood”, “Obamacare”, “Benghazi”, and now “Bundy”. They are repeated in litany, recited endlessly, strengthening their faith each time.

An example. A great example is this comment on a post from a firearms blog. The blog post was talking about an anti-gun group and how it claims 500,000 members but has no evidence for that. Probably a valid point. Then there's this comment in there, talking about how these groups get their membership rolls from Democrat organizations. Look how he syncretically brings together numerous threads of right-wing hagiography:
rlc2 says:
April 16, 2014 at 16:20
I think you can safely assume that any voter registration, get out the vote, union membership, census data, phone call list ever touched by the Democrats is in a big database being squeezed by the Google Geeks who built Obama’s 2012 election database. You know, the one built with taxpayer funds and with un-verified foreign campaign contributions in blatant violation of FERC and other rules. 
That was then turned over to Organizing for America, which of course has distributed it to all the various non-profits and activists- Occutards on up. Remember the campaign worker caught on tape admitting they were capturing voter information, and using it to influence the vote, in Texas, for Wendy Davis. 
Who is going to enforce the rules- DOJ? HAAAAA HAAAAA…. yeah. The same folks who couldnt investigate the Philly New Black Panthers who threatened voters with billy clubs? The same folks who got caught conspiring with the IRS to target the Tea Partiers? The same folks who ran guns into Mexico, while lying about it? 
This would also include your private medical information, officially safe per HIPAA rules, but included in the Obamacare websites, like the one built for Covered California and run by the SEIU who had the contract for training the unlicensed, un-background checked “Navigators”. You remember SEIU- the orange shirted thugs bussed into campaign rallies, that beat up peaceful counter-protesters, the union that represents the customers and beneficiaries of ACORN…
You've got:
  1. Unions bad
  2. Census data is used by "Them"
  3. Google worked to get Obama re-elected
  4. Foreign money gave Obama the 2012 election
  5. Occupy (Occutards) are involved in this
  6. Wendy Davis is in the conspiracy
  7. The DOJ is in the conspiracy
  8. The DOJ enables "Black Panther" terrorists to intimidate white voters
  9. The DOJ and the IRS target the tea party
  10. The feds have been arming the cartels with your tax dollars
  11. Obamacare steals your private information
  12. SEIU are union thug blackshirt fascists who are Obama's enforcers
  13. SEIU and ACORN work hand in hand

For them, it all comes together. Everything that happens is a manifestation of the manichean forces working to control their lives. As an anti-authoritarian, it would be great to have an organized opposition to the authoritarian direction our government is moving in (led by the backers of both political parties), but these are people who view the world as a battle between good and evil, and people who think homosexuality is fine will not be people they view as the good guys. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The rancher in Nevada

There is a cattle rancher in Nevada who has been fighting with the federal government since the 90s because he wants to graze his cattle on federal lands (including protected lands) without paying usage fees. He has consistently lost in court, and now after giving him plenty of time and chances to stop trespassing on federal land, the government is rounding up his cattle. At this point per the court order, those cattle belong to the government. There are reports the cattle are being sent to auction, or being slaughtered on site, either way it's the fed's call because it's their cattle. 

Here's a statement by the family, with grammar and spelling errors left in situ but with paragraph breaks added to achieve some semblance of readability. It is a great example of something people involved in legal work see a lot; somebody who has an idea in their head of the law as they would like it to be, but a version that is completely different from the law as it exists in reality. The "law" of the Bundys is not the law of the land, or of the Constitution. They disagree:
I have had people ask me to explain my dad's stance on this BLM fight. Here it is in as simple of terms as I can explain it. There is so much to it, but here it s in a nut shell. My great grandpa bought the rights to the Bunkerville allotment back in 1887 around there. Then he sold them to my grandpa who then turned them over to my dad in 1972. These men bought and paid for their rights to the range and also built waters, fences and roads to assure the servival of their cattle, all with their own money, not with tax dollars. These rights to the land use is called preemptive rights.  
Some where down the line, to keep the cows from over grazing, came the bureau of land management. They were supposed to assist the ranchers in the management of their ranges while the ranchers paid a yearly allotment which was to be use to pay the BLM wages and to help with repaires and improvements of the ranches. My dad did pay his grazing fees for years to the BLM until they were no longer using his fees to help him and to improve. Instead they began using these money's against the ranchers. They bought all the rest of the ranchers in the area out with they're own grazing fees. When they offered to buy my dad out for a penence he said no thanks and then fired them because they weren't doing their job. He quit paying the BLM but, tried giving his grazing fees to the county, which they turned down.  
So my dad just went on running his ranch and making his own improvements with his own equipment and his own money, not taxes. In essence the BLM was managing my dad out of business. Well when buying him out didn't work, they used the indangered species card. You've already heard about the desert tortis. Well that didn't work either, so then began the threats and the court orders, which my dad has proven to be unlawful for all these years. Now their desperate.  
It's come down to buying the brand inspector off and threatening the County Sheriff. Everything their doing at this point is illegal and totally against the constitution of the United States of America. Now you may be saying," how sad, but what does this have to do with me?" Well, I'll tell you. They will get rid of Cliven Bundy, the last man standing on the Bunkerville allotment and then they will close all the roads so no one can ever go on it again. Next, it's Utah's turn. Mark my words, Utah is next. 
Then there's the issue of the cattle that are at this moment being stolen. See even if dad hasn't paid them, those cattle do belong to him. Regardless where they are they are my fathers property. His herd has been part of that range for over a hundred years, long before the BLM even exsisted. Now the Feds think they can just come in and remove them and sell them without a legal brand inspection or without my dad's signature on it. They think they can take them over two boarders, which is illegal, ask any trucker. Then they plan to take them to the Richfeild Aucion and sell them. All with our tax money. They have paid off the contract cowboys and the auction owner as well as the Nevada brand inspector with our tax dollars. See how slick they are?
For comparison, and for something written with proper spelling and grammar, as well as paragraph breaks, that goes through and lays out the government's case and why the Bundys are wrong, read the most recent court order. The court order shows why they're wrong, with an argument that carries the weight of the law. After reading that, come back here and read my dissection of the family's statement.

Here's my take on each of their main points:

1. “My great grandpa bought the rights to the Bunkerville allotment back in 1887 around there. Then he sold them to my grandpa who then turned them over to my dad in 1972.” 

They don't have papers documenting these rights. In 1848, the US federal government bought a whole lot of land from the Mexican government. If the family does not have title in hand, they don't have the land. And they didn't claim that they owned the land, they were paying usage fees, up until they decided not to do it anymore.

2. "These rights to the land use is called preemptive rights." 

Well, "preemptive rights" don't mean what she thinks they mean. What she's thinking of is "adverse possession". Basically they’re trying to claim title as a result of adverse possession against the government. There is always going to be a court case that goes with trying to get title to land through adverse possession, and they have lost those court cases. 

3. “Some where down the line, to keep the cows from over grazing, came the bureau of land management.” 

So she admits that the ranchers were engaging in overgrazing before the big bad federal government came along.

4. “My dad did pay his grazing fees for years to the BLM until they were no longer using his fees to help him and to improve. Instead they began using these money's against the ranchers.” 

You don’t get to choose to stop paying a legal fee that you have been paying simply because you decide you don’t want to pay it any more.

5. “When they offered to buy my dad out for a penence he said no thanks and then fired them because they weren't doing their job.” 

You don’t get to “fire” the federal agency whose jurisdiction you legally fall under.

6. “He quit paying the BLM but, tried giving his grazing fees to the county, which they turned down.” 

Yes, and if you tried to pay federal taxes only to your state, refusing to pay those taxes to the federal government, you’d have a bad time with that as well. You don’t get to pay your electric bill by sending a check to the water company, it doesn't work that way.

7. “So my dad just went on running his ranch and making his own improvements with his own equipment and his own money, not taxes.” 

Lovely, but it’s still public land, as determined in court. I can build a swingset and a cabin in Yosemite but it doesn't mean the land belongs to me. 

8. “Well when buying him out didn't work, they used the indangered species card. You've already heard about the desert tortis. Well that didn't work either, so then began the threats and the court orders, which my dad has proven to be unlawful for all these years.” 

Translation, they want to overgraze on lands protected because of endangered species, and prior to that they refused to pay grazing fees, and they have been defying court orders for years. Those court orders have not been “proven unlawful” except in the legal theater of their own imaginations.

9. “Everything their doing at this point is illegal and totally against the constitution of the United States of America.” 

Except that Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the US Constitution says “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States....” 

Even under the narrowest conception of the Property Clause of the Constitution, the federal government has this authority. The problem is that most people who hide behind the constitution never read any further than the amendments.

10. “See even if dad hasn't paid them, those cattle do belong to him.” 

Except that the court order said last year that unless he stops trespassing on federal land, the United States is entitled to seize and impound any of the cattle that remain in trespass. The court order gave him 45 days, but the federal government has given him months.

11. “His herd has been part of that range for over a hundred years, long before the BLM even exsisted.” 

It’s been federal land since the US got it from Mexico in 1848. He has no paperwork to the contrary.

12. “Then they plan to take them to the Richfeild Aucion and sell them. All with our tax money. They have paid off the contract cowboys and the auction owner as well as the Nevada brand inspector with our tax dollars.” 

Yes, tax money is used by the government to enforce the law. That’s not slick. That’s just how it works. Police officers pull you over for speeding and give you a ticket, that you have to pay, and they’re using your own tax dollars! The horror!

For the supporters of the Bundys, their complaints seem to center around three key points:

There's a "free speech zone" for the protests associated with this. People are outraged that "free speech zones" could exists. Another horrific invention of that tyrant Obama! 

Well, I realize that this is the first time pro-war pro-business conservatives have ever heard of free speech zones, but those have been around since the 90s, almost as long as Cliven Bundy has been losing his court case. The 1992 and 1996 presidential conventions, the 1999 WTO meeting, the 2004 DNC and GOP conventions, they all featured free speech zones. It's a practice that goes back to attempts by universities to limit student protests *in the 60s*. No wonder conservatives are just hearing about them now. They've always been on the anti-speech side. 

So yeah, it's a shitty thing to have now, but where the fuck were these people a decade ago when we were getting penned up during the Iraq War? Oh, right, watching Fox and masturbating over how many towelheads were being killed.

The feds have indefinitely detained the ranchers son!

Oh no! NDAA is finally showing its hand! Except, as indicated in the article from the Review Journal;
"As for Dave Bundy, he was kept at the Henderson Detention Center overnight, then released late Monday morning with his misdemeanor tickets in hand.

“They came in, wrote these citations, gave me a sack lunch and turned me loose,” he said."

Overnight is not indefinite. He got arrested for interfering with government representatives doing their work? Welcome to Occupy. The protesters there got arrested far more often for much less.

The feds are overly militarized! Why so many armed agents? 

I don't know, maybe because Cliven Bundy has said 
“Range War begins at the Bundy ranch at 9:30 a.m. We’re going to get the job done!”
"I've got to protect my property. If people come to monkey with what's mine, I'll call the county sheriff. If that don't work, I'll gather my friends and kids and we'll try to stop it. I abide by all state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws."

And armed militia from Nevada and other nearby states is showing up to "support" the Bundys.

With that in mind, gee, I don't know why the feds, who are carrying out a court order, might want to be heavily armed and prepared. It's like carrying out a court order against a known and heavily armed drug dealer. You're not going to send Barney Fife with a baton to knock on that door.


So these idiots out in Nevada, the Bundy family, have been grazing their cattle on public land and refusing to pay the fees associated with that. They've also been grazing their cattle on protected lands that are protected because of overgrazing. They've been fighting this out in the courts for 20 years, and they've lost. 

The court ordered them to stop using public lands. The court also ordered that if they don't stop using public lands, the cattle can be impounded. The family continues to trespass and to use public land, so the cattle are getting impounded. 

Fairly straightforward. Except that the "Oath Keepers" crowd and other associated heavily armed anti-governmental wackos have picked this as the hill they want to die on. The Infowars, beforeitsnews, Fox Nation, and related internet groups are all over it, hoping that this will be the spark for the revolution they so desperately want.

I've no sympathy for anyone on the rancher side of this. And any of them that use force against government representatives who are carrying out their constitutional duties will have a bad time, and deserve it. If this is the revolution they want, they can have it without me. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

This I can work with

I wanted my brother to tell me why he does not approve of homosexuality. His reasons that he gave were:
  1. Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.
  2. Romans 1:27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
  3. Sanitary viewpoint: STDs higher among LBGT community - http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/STD.htm
These I can work with.

1. There are a lot of laws in Leviticus that aren't relevant today, or observed by the Church. 
You can't eat anything with fat in it. And this is a command for forever from the eternal Lord.
Leviticus 3:17 "This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live: You must not eat any fat or any blood."

You can't eat shellfish.
Leviticus 11:10-12 "But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to regard as unclean. And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat; you must regard their carcasses as unclean. Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you."

Ligers and Mules violate Biblical law, as does blended clothing, and fields with multiple types of plants.
Leviticus 19:19 "Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material."

No tattoos.
Leviticus 19:28 "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord."

Certainly, modern anti-gay church leaders find no end of ways to explain or equivocate around why they oppose homosexuality but still eat shrimp. But this comes down to differing interpretations of the Bible at that point, and in that case, why not err on the side of inclusiveness?

2. For a Christian perspective on this, How do you interpret Romans 1:27?
For my formerly-Christian perspective on this, there are a lot of directives laid out by Paul that are not observed today, and here are examples:

Women should be quiet in church and only ask their husbands if they have questions
1 Corinthians 14:34-35 "the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church."

Women aren't allowed to teach or be in positions of authority.
1 Timothy 2:11-12 "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet."

1 Corinthians 11:1-16 would be a big chunk to paste here, but it says that women should have long hair, men cannot have long hair, and that the churches of God have no other practice. It's not exactly negotiable!

Now, today, the modern church doesn't prevent female Sunday School teachers. Many churches have female pastors, or women in other positions of authority. Ours did, when we were growing up. And today it's considered quaint and old fashioned at best to follow the directions explicitly laid out in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians. But that wasn't always the case. For a long time, the Christian church strictly adhered to those directions. They were used to oppress and control women. They were used as justification to oppose female politicians, female executives in business, female church leaders, on and on. Christianity grew out of it. And Paul said a lot less about homosexuality than he said about women in the church.

That's it from a perspective of Christianity. But a good question to ask yourself would be, why do I follow these religious laws? Why do I, as an independent person, choose to have a negative attitude towards homosexuals because of something somebody said two thousand years ago? Why is this a rule of this specific interpretation of the religion that I choose to follow?

3. Marriage equality has been a long time coming for homosexuals. This is key to the STD issue because it's been documented that, while STD factors are higher for gay and bisexual men, they're also much higher for unmarried people as opposed to married people. This isn't a moral argument in favor of marriage, it's a statement of fact that if you're only having sex with the same person, then the risk of STDs, if both of you don't have them and have been tested clean, is effectively nonexistent. For sex outside of marriage, condoms are important, and that's for both heterosexual and homosexual activity.

Anal sex has a higher likelihood of STD transmission, but that's true for men having anal sex with women as well as with men, and nobody I've seen in the maintstream has been pushing to prohibit what kind of sex men can have with women. Although in the past, anti-sodomy laws (many of which still exist on the books) targeted all forms of sex that aren't missionary PIV for the purpose of procreation. And even with the higher STD likelihood from anal sex, if you have two clean partners in a monogamous married relationship, they can have all the gay butt sex they want and they're not going to get an STD.

What it comes down to is, some people are born gay. Some are born straight. Some are born at a midpoint somewhere on that scale. This is how we are. And it's not unique to humans, non-heterosexual behavior has been observed repeatedly in numerous species. It's natural. Excellent examples include the bonobo and most dolphins. Deciding for whatever reason to "not approve of homosexuality" is to not approve of nature, and it's clinging to an outdated and quaint mode of thought, out of misunderstandings of scripture or out of tradition. I wouldn't try to change my parents' minds on it, just the same as my parents wouldn't try to change my grandparents' minds when it came to their old fashioned folksy racism. However, I would greatly prefer that my daughter not be as embarrassed by her uncle as my siblings and I are of our own drunk and proudly ignorant uncle.