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Republicans in Congress

I’m sure all politicians careen between saying what they believe and spouting whatever crap will get them elected. But it seems like* Republicans have adopted a universal strategy of popular deceit, and if they speak truth it’s only by coincidence. Here’s the pattern I’ve seen:

  • Toss out a slew of outrageous lies.
  • Watch for one to capture the public’s imagination.
  • Turn it into jargon (“death panel”) that sticks in voters’ heads.
  • Step back from the lie when it’s debunked, and craft a milder (still dishonest) version. But keep the original jargon.
  • Repeat as necessary. Debunkers eventually move on to tackle some new lie, leaving the last version in place and the jargon established.

Republicans sound like they’re conducting a giant experiment in saying whatever they can get away with, and I suspect they’re surprised as any of us by some of the results. That’s probably too harsh, though. What’s worse is that a good chunk of them might believe the stuff they say. That’s the difference between, for instance, Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann. Either way, the country loses.

Take a closer look at the comments described in the video.

* It’s been pointed out that people might interpret this bit of hyperbole literally. To be clear, I do not believe that all Republicans are liars, or that the average Republican citizen lies more frequently than the average Democrat — merely that the abundance of deception from many leading Republican politicians made it seem so (you know, as when people say something along the lines of “It seems like no one says ‘thank you’ anymore,” without meaning it absolutely literally). I’m a bit surprised I need to clarify my use of this common expression, but I’ll admit it was needlessly inflammatory, and I do apologize to those Republicans who have not uttered lie after lie after lie in an attempt to bring down Obama by any means necessary, including the deliberate deception of their constituency.

If you want to heckle the president during his address to the nation

I’m referring to Addison Graves Wilson — or Joe Wilson, as he prefers to be called. At Obama’s September 9 address to a joint session of Congress, Joe yelled, “You lie!”

Joe later explained, “Illegal aliens could get the benefits, they could get the subsidies.” Politifact has shown this itself to be a lie.

If you want to suggest smacking around your wife doesn’t truly count as assault, and neither does killing homosexuals

Watch this clip of Louie Gohmert. At the 1:00 mark he starts in with outright lies:

I’ve dealt with this sort of analysis in a prior post. Check it out for a complete debunking. For now just note what Louie said about LGBT hate crime victims in 2007, “There were only 242 crimes where there was actually some — truly an assault.”

He’s referring to these figures. Here’s how you get his number:

  • Ignore anti-gay murders. These are listed in his source, just two columns over from the 242 number, but he doesn’t mention them. So killing gays doesn’t count.
  • Ignore anything the FBI calls simple assault. Simple assault simply doesn’t count as assault to him. The FBI give an example of simple assault:

A married couple was arguing about financial problems. The husband slapped his wife and left the house. The wife followed him, and they continued their argument. The police responded to a call by a neighbor. The wife told them that her husband slapped her. The police arrested the husband for domestic violence.

So, to Louie Gohmert, smacking around your wife doesn’t truly count as assault.

Does he believe what he’s suggesting? I hope he’s just an incompetent legislator making a special effort to air false statements that he hasn’t confirmed but believes because they suit his bias and agenda. Yes, that would be giving him the benefit of the doubt.

If you want to warn foreign governments not to trust the United States

In 2009, on a trip to China (which owns $700 billion in US Treasury bonds), Mark Kirk told Chinese officials not to believe budget numbers released by the US government. Why? In order to build their trust in us.

Black is white. War is peace. Disbelief is…trust.

If you want to refute scientific research by quoting Biblical prophecy

John Shimkus quotes Genesis and Matthew to prove we don’t have worry about humankind destroying the earth. I guess all the fuss about nuclear war was no big deal, either.

If you think wives should be submissive to their husbands

Michele Bachmann is low-hanging fruit on the crazy tree, and this is one of her milder statements. Apparently she’s let her husband dictate her career, even entered fields she hated, because “the Lord says, Be submissive — wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.” (1:37 into the clip).

Michele’s statements are so consistently jaw-dropping that she’s had to make them part of her electoral appeal. For a long time, my favorite was her belief that swine flu only rages during Democratic administrations (not that there’s a link, mind you, she’s just sayin’…) — even though the other outbreak she mentions was under Ford, not Carter.

But she’s topped that with her plan for bringing down Obama’s health care plan:

What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t pass.

First, though, make sure your health insurance covers slit wrists (and can you add your blood brother as a family member?).

If you want to pass laws to establish the Bible as the Word of God for all Americans

Randy Forbes wants to place the Lincoln-Obama Bible on permanent display upon the Lincoln table at the Capitol Visitor Center. He introduced a resolution with a long list of WHEREASs, one of which was:

Whereas the Holy Bible is God’s Word

Randy must not know the First Amendment prohibits Congress from establishing a state religion. Randy’s shown his incompetence in other ways, too. He once opposed expanding hate crime protections to gays and lesbians by saying this of the Perez Hilton/Carrie Prejean Miss USA ruckus:

Had [Hilton] done what he said he would do and stormed that stage and pulled that tiara off [Prejean's] head and [inflicted] bodily harm when he did it, there would not have been one ounce of protection under this piece of legislation for that young girl.

As Right Wing Watch points out, the opposite is true:

Under the current hates crimes law, violent crimes targeting someone because of their real or perceived religion are already covered and carry enhanced penalties, whereas violent crimes targeting real or perceived “sexual orientation” are not…

Still, you can’t expect a Congressman to be an expert on everything. It’s not like Randy is a is a former ranking member of the Judiciary Crime Subcommittee. Except, you know, he is.

If you want to scare women with a false link between abortion and breast cancer

Retired Congressman Bill Sali repeatedly asserted that women who have abortions are more likely to get breast cancer. There’s no evidence to support this. Here’s someone impervious to scientific evidence that runs counter to his political beliefs. Or is he an ambitious politician willing to say anything his voting bloc wants to hear? I wish I could see into the heads of these people. Either way, they turn truth and fact into roadkill on the political highway.

One more thing — while in office, Bill fretted mightily over a Muslim elected to Congress and a Hindu chaplain chosen to offer the opening prayer one day in the Senate. “You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike,” Bill said. He’s afraid the Hindu prayer “creates problems for the longevity of this country.”

If you think stiffer penalties for violent attacks on gays are a threat to your freedom

Yep, Louie Gohmert again. He does have a thing about the gays.

Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by, the Constitution.

Religious expression is protected. Actually, any sort of speech previously protected by the First Amendment will remain protected. Did you know Gohmert used to be an appeals court judge?

By the way, what he says around 0:45 in the video? About the legislation duplicating laws that exist in every one of the 45 states in the union? He’ wrong. And not just about how many states there are.

If you think same-sex marriage is a purely socialist concept

Steve King said this on a WorldNetDaily radio show.

If there’s a push for a socialist society, a society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together, living collectively off of one pot of resources earned by everyone. That is, this is one of the goals they have to go to is same-sex marriage because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal. They want public affirmation. They want access to public funds and resources. Eventually all those resources will be pooled because that’s the direction we’re going. And not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis. [emphasis added]

Steve King also was the only vote in all of Congress to oppose a plaque commemorating the role of slaves in the construction of the Capitol Building. He did it to protect our Judeo-Christian heritage. But don’t let your head explode yet. Wait for this quote from his press release:

Last night I opposed yet another bill to erect another monument to slavery…

Yet ANOTHER bill? For ANOTHER monument? My God, Marilyn, what do these people WANT?

If you need someone to call Michelle Obama uppity

In 2008, Georgia representative Lynn Westmoreland was commenting on…oh, just listen to the audio.

And then watch this.

If Obama’s election sends you looking for a great white hope to save the GOP

Lynn Jenkins, from Kansas.

If you want to push your political agenda by exploiting the fears of senior citizens

You know where this is headed.

I love her directness. No meek statement from Ginnie. She’s not worried about seniors dying from neglect or waiting in long lines. No, she’s all about them being put to death. By the government! It takes a special kind of courage to come out against that sort of thing.

…veterans

I can’t say it any better than this:

Representative Stephen Buyer(R-ID) knows that by the middle of next week, the skeptical seniors will realize that they are on a single payer government run Medicare and the “kill granny” scare tactic was a hoax, so he is prepared to use the third bullet in this debacle by going after the veterans. Representative Buyer sent out a letter stating that “Major veterans’ organizations are speaking out against several provisions within the proposed House version of the national health care reform plan that could adversely affect veterans and their families.” Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA), retired United States navy rear admiral and the highest former ranking military officer serving in Congress said “Section 202 prohibits the Health Care reform bill to affect VA benefits and their dependents.” Congressman Sestak went onto say that 265,000 veterans and their dependents that were above the $34,000 threshold limit ,were removed from the rolls of the VA in 2003 , without much fanfare from the republicans but Obama’s new budget will restore many of those same veterans and their dependents back into the system. As of today, 500,000 veterans and their dependents have been removed.

Seriously, pushing your agenda by trying deceive senior citizens — and now veterans? Can Republicans go any lower?

…and parents of disabled children

In September, Trent Franks offered this warning about the Democrats’ healthcare reform bill to parents of disabled kids:

We run into one reality: the rationing of care because you have to decrease the costs. There is always, always rationing and restrictions, which fall on the most weak.

Trent is right about the problem but wrong about the bill. There’s rationing already, done by health insurance companies that deny claims, terminate coverage, and refuse to insure those with pre-existing conditions. The reform bill tries to address those issues. “I’ll never vote for government-run healthcare,” Franks has said elsewhere. But “government-run healthcare” is one of those scary, dishonest bits of Republican jargon. The bill doesn’t put the healthcare system under government control, or put treatment decisions in the hands of government bureaucrats.

It’s hard to cast Trent as a bad guy in this debate. He was born with a cleft palate, and his late brother had Down Syndrome. He has every reason to take a deep and sincere interest in how disabled kids will fare under reform. But that makes him all the more dangerous when he distorts the truth.

Trent portrays himself as a defender of moral values, but that doesn’t prevent him from entering half-truths into the public record. In his opposition to extending hate crime protections to gays and lesbians, he spoke of the “Philadelphia 11″:

Eleven individuals were jailed and faced $90,000 in fines and 47 years in prison for simply speaking the Gospel openly and publicly.

Well, no. Trent doesn’t mention that police intervened when the eleven individuals tried to disrupt a publicly-permitted event and were charged with disorderly conduct after they ignored police orders to disperse for the sake of public safety. And ultimately none of them were tried under Pennsylvania’s hate crime statute, because these laws simply do not criminalize speech. Trent says none of that.

And by the way, existing hate crime legislation protects Christians (and other religious believers). Does his principled opposition include this protection, or was he moved to speak only when the gays got involved?

In this post I’ve only listed comments by US representatives. If you want to include state officials, the world gets even crazier.

  • Gays asking for equality are asking too much. After allwe already let them exist.
  • The world is 6000 years old.
  • The government could save money by offering poor women $1000 each to have their tubes tied.
  • Letting poor teens go hungry might not be so bad, because hunger is a great motivator.

You almost expect this sort of lunacy at the lower levels of government. But everything else in the post came from our representatives in Congress. The Republican party today has little interest in developing constructive policy. Its reps would rather spend their energy offering up ridiculous claims to see if they can ride a wave of deceit back into power. Hopefully, they’ll just catch a riptide and get pulled further out to sea.

"There Are No Homosexuals"

Many of our opponents are starting to deny homosexuals exist.
Matt Barber of Liberty University threw a fit because Prop 8 Judge Vaughn Walker is gay, but he didn’t call the judge a homosexual. No, he called him “an active practitioner of the homosexual lifestyle,” and said, “Judge Walker apparently chooses to engage in homosexual conduct,” and wrote of Walker’s “alleged lifestyle choices.”
The Mormon Church, according to one LDS website, says to use “homosexual” only as an adjective, never as a noun. It prefers the increasing popular phrase, “men with SSA [same-sex attraction].”
NARTH co-founder Joe Nicolosi has reportedly said there are no homosexuals, just heterosexuals with a homosexual problem.
It wasn’t always this way. Conservatives used to be certain we existed. Educational films warned kids about homosexuals. The State Department refused to hire homosexuals. Anita Bryant spread the word that homosexuals are out to recruit kids (since we can’t reproduce, you know).
So why does the far right now insist there’s no such thing? The Family Research Council reveals the answer.

[H]omosexual conduct is not comparable to other characteristics usually protected by civil rights laws (“race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”). Protection against private “discrimination” has historically been offered only for characteristics that are inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous, and/or in the Constitution-yet none of these describe homosexual behavior.

See? There’s no discrimination against homosexuals because there are no homosexuals. Just homosexual conduct. Homosexuality isn’t a state of being — it’s merely a set of actions. Hate crimes against homosexuals? No! Civil equality for homosexuals? No! Anti-bullying laws to protect young homosexuals? No! None of these things are necessary if there are no homosexuals.
This thinking is important when it comes to the “immutability” argument in Constitutional law. Is homosexuality a choice? Our opponents say that deciding to engage in homosexual acts is a choice, and people can stop being gay just by giving up gay sex. That makes sense, though, only if homosexuality is nothing more than same-sex sex. Obviously, though, it’s a great deal more — I was gay before I ever had sex, I’m gay when I’m not having sex, I’m gay right now as I type this (and there’s no man in sight).
Want to see their strategy in action? Here’s that godawful liar Concerned Women of America spokesperson, Janice Shaw Crouse:

Homosexual activists argue that they were born that way. That they cannot change. Actually, scientific research does not agree. They say some individuals have vulnerabilities, but acting on them is not inevitable. Other factors have to weigh in, such as parental disapproval, not being accepted socially, or a situation where the child doesn’t get the appropriate affirmation of their gender identity as a male or a female. In other words, vulnerability alone does not determine a person’s sexual preferences; external factors have to tip the person in the direction of homosexual behavior. Thousands of individuals can testify to the transforming power of their Christian faith that released them from the bondage of sinful behavior and brought them new life, peace, and joy.

First, scientific research isn’t on Crouse’s side (thanks to goodasyou.org).
But more importantly, note what Crouse does not say. She does not say that people can change what they feel. Only that they can change their actions. In fact, she uses “preferences” and “behavior” as if they meant the same thing. Her point is that we can change our behavior (true) and this will mean we are no longer homosexuals (colossal failure of an untruth!).
Note one more thing: even with all her slippery, squirming, greasy word-weaseling, she still can’t get away from the idea of a characteristic that we can’t change. Instead of calling it sexual orientation, she calls it “vulnerability.” I don’t see how that alters anything. Are some people born with this vulnerability? She conveniently evades that. Can people change this vulnerability? She evades that too, merely saying they can choose not to act on it. But vulnerability is just a code word for sexual orientation: some people are “vulnerable” to same-sex attraction, some to opposite-sex attraction, and some to both. Not even an ex-gay group like Exodus claims they can change that.
Language matters. Orwell taught us to be wary of political language that “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
Janice Shaw Crouse is pure wind. The claim that there are no homosexuals, just homosexual conduct, is pure wind. The assertion that “gay” is something you do, but never something you are, is pure wind. And it’s a dangerous wind, at that.

Dolly Parton's Other Voice

FACT: Dolly Parton is two amazing singers. If you slow her songs down (as if you were playing an old 45 at 33rpm) she sounds completely different and really terrific.

Here’s her song 9 to 5 at regular speed. Listen for a few seconds just to remember the feel of it.

Now here’s the same song, slowed down to a bluesy lament:

Okay, you say, but that’s a quick, up-tempo song. Surely you couldn’t do it to one of her ballads. No? Try her signature song Jolene.

Here’s the original:

And here’s the haunting, slow version:

I’ve always loved Dolly, but somehow this makes me respect her singing and songwriting even more. Freaky.

Protect the Children (and mean it)

The Prop 8 trial, predictably, has shown our opposition spreading this most vicious lie about the LGBT community.

Homosexuals are 12 times more likely to molest children.

This particular version comes from William Tam, who volunteered be a defendant in the trial against Prop 8 and then dropped out, claiming the publicity might lead us to take revenge on him. Our side called him as a hostile witness anyway, and exposed his hateful ignorance, pathetic illogic, and blind willingness to believe whatever anti-gay crap he reads on the Internet. Even the Prop 8 lawyers tried to distance themselves from him – during cross-examination, I mean, not during the campaign. During the campaign they were happy to have him out there spreading this evil.
But the best cure for dishonesty is truth. We all need to be able to debunk these lies. I hope this will help.

You can find a transcript of the video here. I have to give credit to some great resources I used in making this video:

  • Box Turtle Bulletin. Jim Burroway has put together a thorough analysis of this issue. He goes into far greater range and depth than I could ever attempt in a 5-minute youtube. He’s distilled a great deal of scholarly research and lists his sources in full detail. Box Turtle Bulletin has also been the driving force in exposing Uganda’s kill-the-gays legislation. It’s a great site.
  • Dr. Gregory Herek. This professor at UC-Davis – and witness in the Prop 8 trial – has a wonderful article on the controversy. The most valuable part, for me, is his systematic dismantling of the research our opponents try to use when demonizing us.

And, as much as I hate it, I suppose I’d best link to one more site.

  • Heteroseparatist.com. His post, “The Tisinai Formula,” is what really got this video going. I kind of hate linking to him because it’s probably going to give his blog more attention than it’s even gotten, and he’ll love it. Maybe a little too much. The true reason for his anti-gay crusade should be pretty easy to figure out.

Anyway, thanks for reading the post and viewing the vid. It was incredibly hard to make. And I’ll address that in a blog entry soon.

The Things People Say

I keep an eye on NOM’s Facebook page and the stuff their supporters write on the wall. I wouldn’t hold NOM itself responsible for the crap that appears, except for one thing: NOM aggressively deletes anything they deem offensive (i.e., almost anything by a supporter of marriage equality).
It’s interesting, then, to read what the moderators choose to leave up — the stuff that NOM’s leadership doesn’t find offensive. I saw a wall post that stopped me dead. A wall post, I guess, that NOM has no trouble with. If you’re not sure you want to see it then you probably ought to just skip it. I’ll post it after the jump. In fact, I’ll put a big block of text before the jump just in case.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

People keep saying there is no cure for homosexuality. there are TWO
1. Salvation through Jesus.
2. Dying of AIDS.
Your choice.

There you go. At least some NOM supporters had the decency to object. A decided minority. And apparently NOM’s quick-to-delete administrators just shrugged at this one.

Debt vs. Deficit

I know a bit about economics. I’ve taught it to undergrads at San Francisco State and Stanford, and I’ve created five online economics courses (including one for Dartmouth and two for the University of Chicago). So Rachel Maddow is killing me every time she says extending the Bush tax cuts to the richest segment of our population will add $700 billion to the deficit. She says it in this clip, about 45 seconds in:

Rachel is mixing up the deficit with the debt. That’s a big mistake — and a rookie mistake, at that:

  • The deficit is the amount government spending exceeds revenue in a given year.
  • The debt is the total accumulation of annual deficits (and surpluses) over our nation’s history.

Suppose a country had been around for just five years. If it ran deficits of $100 million in each of those five years, it would now have a debt of $500 million.
Extending Bush’s tax cuts for the rich is projected to increase our national debt by $700 billion over the next ten years. When Rachel said deficit instead of debt, though, she was saying that’ll happen in a single year. And since the tax cut would be ongoing, people might think it would add $700 billion to the deficit year after year, increasing our national debt by $7 trillion over the next decade.
That would be wrong.
It’s important to get this right. I favor extending the tax cuts for the poor and middle class, but not for the rich, and here’s why:
1. Deficit spending makes sense during a recession, especially a severe one.

  1. Tax revenues fall during a recession (because personal and corporate income has fallen, which leads to less income tax revenue).
  2. Right now we need people out there buying things, so businesses have reason to hire more employees.
  3. If the government lowered spending to match its lower revenues, we’d end up with even fewer things being bought, which would worsen the recession.
  4. That’s why the government increases spending in bad times — more purchases means higher employment, and then those newly-employed workers start purchasing more stuff themselves, which means still higher employment, and we find ourselves in an upward economic spiral instead of one going down.
  5. Thus, lower taxes and higher spending make sense during (some) recessions.

2. The deficit is now dangerously high.

  1. Yes, we need to be running a substantial deficit now, but we don’t want to keep doing that when the economy is stronger.
  2. A high deficit means the government is borrowing lots of money that year.
  3. In order to raise more and more money, the government has to pay higher and higher interest on the money it borrows, which raises interest rates across the whole economy.
  4. This make it harder for businesses to borrow the money they need to expand production and employment.
  5. That’s not a problem right now, but it will be once the economy starts to recover and businesses want to invest.
  6. High interest rates also discourages consumers from buying big-ticket items like cars, homes, and major appliances.
  7. Yet it looks like our deficit will just go on and on and on, especially if we implement long-term tax cuts.

3. Because the deficit is so big, we should only increase it if the economic pay-off is huge.

  1. When does giving money back to consumers has the biggest economic impact? When those people go out and spend it on goods and services rather than banking it.
  2. This is especially true in a recession, when businesses are reluctant to borrow investment capital from banks even at low interest rates.
  3. That’s why extending employment benefits has such a huge impact on the economy: such money is almost entirely spent, and spent quickly.
  4. That’s why tax cuts for the poor and middle class have a big impact, too (though not as big as extending unemployment benefits).
  5. That’s why tax cuts for the rich have a much smaller impact: the rich allocate a much smaller fraction of their income to buying goods and services.

In brief:
We need deficit spending to boost the economy, but our deficit is so high we can afford only the most effective measures, and tax cuts for the rich just don’t meet that criterion.
That’s an argument you might have with your relatives over Thanksgiving. If you say tax cuts for the rich will add $700 billion to the deficit, then an informed opponent will call you on it, you’ll be easily proven wrong, and you’ll lose all credibility with anyone around the table who’s still undecided.
Update: Rachel got it right last night. I don’t know if she’s now just using debt and deficit interchangeably, or if she’s now gotten it right.

Regnerus Admits He Lacks the Data to Critique Same-Sex Parenting (*so why is he doing it?)

his is getting uglier.

Prof. Mark Regnerus has been giving interviews about his study on parents who’ve had same-sex relationships, saying things like this:

Well, in the generation that are adults now, kids raised in a same-sex household were more likely to experience instability and shifting household arrangements. For example, 14 percent of kids whose moms had a lesbian relationship reported spending more time in foster care, well above the average of 2 percent among all respondents.

That leapt out at me because the error is obvious: The second sentence in no way supports the first. Children whose “moms had a lesbian relationship” weren’t necessarily “raised in a same-sex household” — the children might have never even met their mother’s lesbian partner, much less have been raised by her. Jim Burroway has done some great work pointing this out, and I’d like to extend it. In fact, I’d like to go so far as to show that Regnerus himself admits that he has, well, nothing.

Regnerus’s team interviewed 15,058 people. Few of them had a gay parent; even fewer lived with their gay parent’s partner for a significant time; and fewer still came from what Regnerus calls a “‘planned’ gay family.”

Respondents who:

“Lesbian” mother

“Gay” father

Had a parent in a same-sex relationship
175

73

Lived with parent’s same-sex partner more than 3 years
40

1

Came from “planned” gay families (estimated)
30 – 45

less than 1

A couple points:

Regnerus is fond of talking about “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers,” but he defines them as adults who have ever had a same-sex romantic relationship, even if it only happened once, even if it only lasted a few days.
Regnerus has no data on “planned gay families.” He derived those numbers from looking at “respondents who claimed that (1) their biological parents were never married or lived together, and that (2) they never lived with a parental opposite-sex partner or with their biological father.” The numbers are a guess.
Back to those numbers, though. Regnerus obviously can’t draw any conclusions male same-sex parenting based on a sample of less than 1. How about lesbian same-sex parenting? Is his sample of 30-45 respondents enough to significantly describe the broader population?

No. Not unless the total nation-wide population of adults raised by two lesbian parents is about 50 or fewer. And I suspect it’s more.

Here’s the kicker: Regnerus agrees with me. His article bemoans the low sample sizes of studies that offered up good results for same-sex parenting:

It is not surprising that statistically-significant differences would not emerge in studies employing as few as 18 or 33 or 44 cases of respondents with same-sex parents, respectively…Even analyzing matched samples, as a variety of studies have done, fails to mitigate the challenge of locating statistically-significant differences when the sample size is small.

Look at the numbers in that quote. Now look back at the numbers in the table. This is Regnerus telling us he’s got, as I said, nothing.

Now here’s why this is so ugly.

In the study’s introduction, Regnerus frames it as an examination of same-parenting and a corrective to flaws in earlier, positive studies on same-sex parenting.
But Regnerus’s data on same-sex parenting contains the same sample-size flaws for which he which criticized those other studies.
So once he leaves his introduction and enters analysis, he abandons all pretense of studying same-sex parenting and focuses instead on parents who have ever had a same-sex romantic relationship, regardless of whether they raised a child with that same-sex partner.
Nevertheless, he does not correct his introduction in order to frame the issue properly.
And finally, he grants interviews to conservative outlets, claiming that his study shows the harm of same-sex parenting, even though his own words, in his own study, demonstrate that he knows his sample size is just too damn small to say anything with confidence.
Am I wrong to call this ugly? I hope Prof. Regnerus supplies us with an explanation and justification for his statements to the press.

BAD ANALOGIES: Gay Marriage is Like 2 + 2 = 5

Anti-gays hate the word homophobia, but we need it for those times when someone’s reaction to homosexuality makes them take leave of their senses, lose their ability to think clearly, and fail at creating coherent arguments. These are signs of a debilitating psychological disorder in play, and it’s fair to call it out as such.

For instance, conservative darling Ben Carson is a brilliant man. He’s the former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. In 1987 he successfully separated conjoined twins who were joined at the back of the head, in a pioneering 22-hour surgery. The man is extraordinarily gifted.

Within in his field.

At the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, though, he gave a socially conservative speech that launched him into right-wing prominence, and he’s touted now a possible presidential contender in 2016. He wants to end political correctness and replace it with civil discourse. And he’s unhappy with people who say, “Carson is a homophobe because he believes marriage is between a man and a woman.” He tries to explain why they’re wrong, using a “helpful analogy” that mostly confirms his inability to think clearly when it comes to teh gays.

It’s sort of like a new group of mathematicians that come along, and they say 2+2=5. And the traditionalists say, ‘No, it’s 4, it’s always been 4, it always will be 4.’ And the new ones say, ‘No, we insist that it’s 5.’ So, that the traditionalists say, ‘I’ll tell you what, for you it can can be five; we’re keeping it as 4.’ And then, the new ones say, ‘No, no, it has to be 5 for you, and if it’s not, then you’re a mathosaur or a mathophobe. And basically, that’s the situation we find ourselves in.

Now, these are carefully considered remarks offered in a friendly setting. Nevertheless, there is so very, very much wrong with this analogy.

First, we have a term for mathematicians rely on “tradition” to explain why 2+2=4; we call them not mathematicians. Just as we’d refer to deep thinkers who rely on tradition to oppose same-sex marriage as not deep thinkers. Turns out it’s surprisingly complex to prove 2+2=4, but tradition is not the way to do it.

Second, this business about, “I’ll tell you what, for you it can can be five; we’re keeping it as 4,” is exactly wrong. We’re the ones saying, “I’ll tell you what, some marriages can be a man and a woman, and others can be a woman and a woman or a man and a man.” And they’re the ones saying, “No, no, it has to be a man and a woman, and if you disagree then you’re a name-calling anti-Christian homofascist.”

Finally, of course, we’re not saying that 2+2=5. I don’t want to get too literal, but an analogy ought to at least feel like the thing it’s analogizing. Look at the structure of 2+2=4. It’s about two things coming together to form a unit. That’s an obvious analogy for marriage, and because we’re saying our marriages are real and genuine marriages, we’re saying that our marriages add up to 4 just like Carson’s does.

Which leads to my suggestion for how to counter his analogy — because let’s face it, you don’t want to lecture for three or four paragraphs to make your point. Instead you can just reply:

We’re not saying 2+2=5. We’re saying 2+2=4. And so does 1+3. And 3+1. Different combinations can add up to 4, just like different combinations can add up to marriage. Saying only a man and a woman can create a marriage is like saying only 2+2 can equal 4.

And I think that’s the best way of dealing with these bad analogies. Take them over, make them better, and turn them against the speaker’s original point. There’s something very satisfying about that.

This is fun. I’m working up something on Same-sex marriage is like a square circle, and if you’ve come across any other bad analogies you want to examine, put them in the comments (with a link, if you can).

Nice Work If You Can Get It

How's this for a plan:

  1. Send people letters and email, pleading for money to fight a terrible (yet non-existent) danger.
  2. Use that money to finance another round of dishonest pleas for money.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2, month after month, year after year, while taking a “management fee” for my efforts.

Nice, huh? Actually, I didn’t invent it. I’m trying to figure out if that’s what anti-gay activist Eugene Delgaudio is doing.

Eugene Delgaudio


Delgaudio is kind of a joke, known for extreme, over-the-top, even messianic fundraising appeals. On the other hand, he’s an actual elected official, and pulls in well over a million dollars a year in donations. He’s also in the news right now, because he rented the Weekly Standard‘s email list to send out an anti-gay fundraising request so appalling that the conservative magazine has actually issued a statement of regret.

For some reason, I’m on the mailing list for Delgaudio’s organization (“Public Advocate of the United States”). Last month he asked for money with a novel and ballsy approach. He was about to file his 990 with the IRS (a financial disclosure form) and he was short of his 2011 fundraising goal. This would devastate the nation:

If I fail to raise $46,359.17 by December 31st, I’ll be forced to broadcast our weakness and vulnerability to the Homosexual Lobby…

…if they see Public Advocate’s treasury depleted they will see an opening to ram through the Gay Bill of Special Rights, the Homosexual Classrooms Act and the repeal of DOMA…

No wonder they’ll be pouring over my finance report like demented hyenas cackling as they stalk their prey, ready to rip it to shreds…

Robert, that’s why your emergency gift of $50, $100 or $200 is so important.

Without it, the Homosexual Lobby will be able to show Public Advocate’s 990s to moderate politicians as proof there is no effective opposition to their agenda.

His chutzpah is breathtaking, as he pretends NOM, AFA, TVC, FRC and a host of anti-gay groups don’t exist. But that’s not even the ballsy part: Delgaudio is openly asking for money just for the sake of having money!

He’s not even saying what he plans to do with it. But that’s not important — all that matters is making sure everyone knows Eugene Delgaudio has your money. Literally, that’s his pitch.

Delgaudio’s been sending me junk for months, but it never occurred to me “pour over” his 990s until he brought them up. Then I figured, Why not? What does he do with all this cash? I’m no accountant, but I can read a 990. Let me walk you through what I found. And I’ll try not to cackle like a demented hyena stalking its prey.

In 2009 (the latest year on file), Delgaudo received $1,276,232 in donations (plus another hundred grand in investment income). Here are his expenses.

Various basic expenses
(Payroll, legal, accounting, etc)
$224,942

Management fee
163,944

Grants, travel conferences
16,579

Lobbying
0

Postage
390,855

Printing
392,961

Computer and list maintenance
65,875

Creative and Coordinating
129,658

Other (mystery)
71,697

Total
$1,456,511

So it costs him almost a quarter of a million a year just to maintain his basic operation. That’s actually not too bad. You might be wondering how much of that sum is Delgaudio’s salary. Well, none. Zip, zilch, nada. The records are clear. He doesn’t draw a salary. What selfless devotion to the cause!

Except for…well, except for the management fee paid to Eugene Delgaudio & Associates, Inc., a management consulting company wholly owned by, of course, Eugene Delgaudio. It’s $163,944, plus another $7662 buried in other expenses, for a grand total of $171,606.

$171,606. That’s what Delgaudio pays himself every year.

Next, we see a tiny bit of money for grants and travel conferences. Sure, why not. Actually, I’m surprised it’s not higher, given his superhuman activist persona. In fact, there’s a deeper mystery: his listed lobbying expenses are zero. Again, I have to ask — what is he doing with his donations?

The next three items (postage, printing, and computer and list maintenance) add up to $849,691. And you know what I call those expenses? Fundraising.

Delgaudio would disagree. He’d say he’s sending letters and emails asking for money so he can fight the homosexual agenda by…sending out letters and emails asking for money.

I guess I don’t know what he’d say. The letters, though are a hoot. Not just because they’re full of lies (e.g., if anti-discrimination law passes, “Churches would be forced to hire homosexual youth pastors” and there will be “pro-homosexual hiring quotas in workplaces” — both demonstrably false). No, the letters are hilarious because, well, read for yourself:

One stormy night I drove to a mailshop hidden deep in a nearly deserted stand of warehouses. I’d heard something was up and wanted to see for myself. As I rounded the final turn my eyes nearly popped. Tractor-trailers pulled up to loading docks, cars and vans everywhere and long-haired, earring-pierced men scurrying around running forklifts, inserters and huge printing presses. Trembling with worry I went inside. It was worse than I ever imagined. Row after row of boxes bulging with pro-homosexual petitions lined the walls, stacked to the ceiling. My mind reeled as I realized hundreds, maybe thousands, more boxes were already loaded on the tractor-trailers. And still more petitions were flying off the press. Suddenly a dark-haired man screeched, “Delgaudio what are you doing here?” Dozens of men began moving toward me. I’d been recognized. As I retreated to my car, the man chortled, “This time Delgaudio we can’t lose.” Driving away, my eyes filled with tears as I realized he might be right. This time the Radical Homosexuals could win.

I love this trembling, bulging, homoerotic vision of a shady warehouse filled with gay men on forklifts, loading boxes of petitions onto tractor-trailers, using a firefly 2 vaporizer. Of course, you have to believe some unbelievable things. First, that gay men have never heard of Kinko’s. And second – long hair? Dude, it’s not 1977. Update your stereotypes.

I’ve screen-capped a recent email from Delgaudio. You can view it here. Typically, it starts with a grandiose description of his personal martyrdom, breathlessly describes “a new threat,” and pleads for your money. He also asks you to update your contact info for future fundraising sign an online petition.

What are we left with now? A little over two hundred grand for “Creative and coordinating” and “Other.” That’s mysterious. In this frustrating effort to find out what he actually does, I checked his website and found a list:

public demonstrations, news conferences, media campaigns, petition drives and face-to-face confrontations with leading liberal politicians

That’s his claim. I found scant evidence of it though. He’s got:

An online petition to members of Congress, which hasn’t been updated since the 2008 elections.
“Press releases,” which are like tiny blog entries linking to work done by people who are not Eugene Delgaudio.
Some youtube videos cribbed from other sources (newscasts, etc.).
A few original youtube videos. Stuff like Delgaudio wandering around other people’s events with a camera. Or running down an empty sidewalk waving a flag, and then shouting at the White House. (Seriously, check it out. I’ve cued it up to the funniest bit.) These have petered off lately: just one video in 2010, and two in 2011.
Also, in a sudden fit of actually doing something, he printed out what he claims are “over a million petitions” against special rights for gays in 2010 (not 2009, the year detailed above), and delivered them to the Senate, whatever that means — apparently dropping them off at the back of a building after a cop tells you to move your boxes. The video of that is pretty funny, too.
Crap, I do more than that for free. But it’s what you get for your $1,276,232. What Eugene Delgaudio gets, of course, is $171,606.

Delgaudio has the public’s eye right now, and he’s working it. This might be a good time for him to step back from his cries of persecution and tell his donors exactly what it is he does with their money — besides using it to ask them for more money.

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