Just a tiny figure, rigid and restrained, blue eyes filled with pain…


The decision of the Supreme Court to grant a stay of same-sex marriages in Utah shouldn’t really come as a great surprise, whatever the actual merits of the stay application.

The attorneys from the Utah AG’s office have shown no particular signs of competence. Take, for example this passage from Judge Shelby’s decision denying the State a stay on December 23:

The court had a telephone conversation with counsel from both parties a few hours after it issued its order. The State represented to the court that same-sex couples had already begun marrying in the Salt Lake City County Clerk’s Office and requested to the court to stay its Order of its own accord. The court declined to issue a stay without a written record of the relief the State was requesting, and asked the State when it was planning to file a motion. The State was uncertain about its plans, so the court advised the State that it would immediately consider any written motion as soon as it was filed on the public docket.

Now, that all sounds fairly innocuous but, although I’m not a constitutional lawyer, I’ve been in and out of a few court rooms in my day, and those last two sentences are like a silk-wrapped brick around the ears. When a judge politely asks you exactly when you were planning on actually filing the motion you are seeking, the correct answer is never, ever, “We’re not sure”. My lawyers call that a CLM.

Rachel Maddow blamed it on incompetence,  and I don’t disagree. However, I suspect there may also have been an element of hubris, a misplaced confidence that Shelby (National Guard, Desert Storm, the United States Army Achievement Medal and the National Defense Service Medal; a BA from Utah State and a Juris Doctorate from University of Virginia; a law firm practice in commercial litigation and personal injury; a registered Republican with a wife and two kids, who was endorsed by Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee for his qualifications and his “unwavering commitment to the law” when he was appointed to the District Court, if you believe the wikipedia) wouldn’t do anything so silly as letting the gays get married. Not in Utah, surely.

The AG’s office has spent the last two weeks desperately trying to stick the ferret back in the bag where the ferret don’t want to go. Their stay application to the Supreme Court (which you can find here, along with the couples’ response here) parroted the usual guff – that the same sex marriages occurring in Utah are an “affront” to the rational interest of the State in banning same-sex marriage, because the ban somehow makes straight, married people have more babies, and that the couples seeking to be married are seeking a new right called “same-sex marriage”, rather than the established right of “marriage” which right, they note, the gays are perfectly free to use as long as they marry someone whose genitals revolt them, like in the bible.

Still, on one front they are right – this is a question that the Supreme Court needs to decide and, until they do so, the better position is probably to preserve the pre-decision status quo in Utah, no matter how touching the photos of gay Utahnanians getting hitched, or how entertaining the freakout by the godbotherers about the gays touching marriage and getting dirty fingerprints all over it.

With the stay issue out of the way, one would like to think that we might be able to get back to talking about the substance of Shelby’s decision, at least until that Duck Dynasty guy gets caught cottaging or one of Mitt Romney’s grandkids turns out to be asian. Read the rest of this entry »

Artists in our midst

First a plug for the theHumble ebook Bundle – thirteen books by authors like Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow, Lauren Beukes, Kelly Link, Randall Munroe and (my favourite) Zach Weiner. Choose your own price and how much goes to the authors and to charity. Only available for two more days. Ad ends.

Second, if you haven’t read the Balloon Juice comment thread in the Artists in the Mist thread, then you’re missing out on a treasure trove of interesting stuff. There are dozens of talented writers, musicians, cat whisperers and artists of all kinds. I particularly liked the beautiful image above by commenter Fuck ALL the chickens! (né Studly Pantload, t.e.u.u.), a delightfully odd poem by Aaron Baker and the lovely ceramics by Peter at Acookblog:

I’m also going to plug this song by Applejinx because he asked so nicely, because he has a sexy voice and because I’m hoping some brony will explain to me what the fuck it is about.

Girls, we do whatever it will take

I’m not writing about the election until the next time Romney opens his mouth and says something stupid (which could be ten minutes from now, so you never know). A book thread (along with physics puzzler), a foodporn thread and a realporn thread are on their way.

How goes it with you all?

Oh, and eye candy for your Friday night:


I’m trying to write something coherent about guns, and a nice shiny new book thread for you, but I’m finding it quite hard.

I keep thinking of those poor people in that cinema, and the terror of their last moments, and the sheer fucking stupidity of it all, none of which is conducive to much besides going back to bed with the dog and a quart of gin. In lieu of those posts for now, then, I offer you some music.

First, the Doves with There Goes the Fear. A few years ago, a young friend of mine died of ovarian cancer. It was horribly quick, and it wasn’t very pleasant for all concerned.

Kathleen was a bright burning spark of a woman, yet she was possessed always of a serenity, a calm inner spirit that soothed anyone who came into contact with her. She had an odd, gentle beauty coupled together with … how shall I put it? … a ribald huskiness and a brazen-cool-50s-brunette languor. She drives me even now to hyperbole.

She loved to dance – usually in dark rooms with bright lights – and it was a moment of joy to catch her eye across a crowded dancefloor as she danced with entirely unconscious grace. At 10am on the morning after the night before, when spirits were starting to flag and someone was on the phone trying to rustle up more drugs, Kath would emerge from the kitchen bearing a tray of breakfast cocktails that would put everyone on their arse smiling like an idiot until the coke turned up.

After her chemotherapy had robbed her of her hair, she strode around the office like Ripley in pursuit of a particularly bothersome facehugger. She fought her cancer every day and cracked jokes all the while. She had many days and moments of pure happiness in that last year, not least at her wedding – a bittersweet day if ever there were one.

And yet she died, as so many do, and I still miss her every day.

This song was played at her funeral, one last smiling “fuck you” to the pain and the terror. It makes me feel a little better on days like this.

Second, The Aikiu with Pieces of Gold. Possibly NSFW for graphically implied sexual content, but it would have made Kath laugh like a drain, and the song is very pretty.

Finally, because Kath would be angry if I didn’t pop this one on on a Friday night, The Return with New Day.

Pinocchio and the capitalists that shall not be named for fear of the spam filter


the Conster points to an article by Anthony Luzzatto Gardner on Bloomberg.

Mitt Romney touts his business acumen and job-creation record as a key qualification for being the next U.S. president.

What’s clear from a review of the public record during his management of the private-equity firm Bain Capital from 1985 to 1999 is that Romney was fabulously successful in generating high returns for its investors. He did so, in large part, through heavy use of tax-deductible debt, usually to finance outsized dividends for the firm’s partners and investors. When some of the investments went bad, workers and creditors felt most of the pain. Romney privatized the gains and socialized the losses.

What’s less clear is how his skills are relevant to the job of overseeing the U.S. economy, strengthening competitiveness and looking out for the welfare of the general public, especially the middle class.

Gardner mercilessly lays out an increasingly horrifying list of Bain deals.

In 1986, in one of its earliest deals, Bain Capital acquired Accuride Corp., a manufacturer of aluminum truck wheels. The purchase was 97.5 percent financed by debt, a high level of leverage under any circumstances. It was especially burdensome for a company that was exposed to aluminum-price volatility and cyclical automotive production.

Forty-to-one leverage is ca$in0 capitalism that hugely magnifies gains and losses. Bain Capital wisely chose to flip the company fast: After 18 months, it sold Accuride, converting its $2.6 million sliver of equity into a $61 million capital gain. That deal, which yielded a 1,123 percent annualized return, was critical to Bain Capital’s early success and led the firm to keep maximizing the use of leverage.

Go read it.

It’s a fine piece with well stated opinion, references to actual facts and a killer ending that would have Glenn Kessler pooping himself.

[Gaston-Theodore Melingue (1840-1914) – Jean Bart In The Galerie Des Glaces At Versailles.]

Bookmark it libs

Well, my dears, I’m back from my little jaunt over to London for Betty Windsor’s Jubilee.

I haven’t seen that much mindless fawning and avid slobbering over one woman since the time I got stuck in a lift with Megan McArdle and Tina Brown. Mind you, that was only about three weeks ago, so it’s been quite a month for the brown-nosing.

I did enjoy the Jubilee flotilla. I was delighted to be invited onto the Royal Barge (although I was confused for a while because that’s what Phillip always used to call Fergie).

However, after a few glasses of bubbly and half an hour listening to Kate wittering on about how big her castle is, I did consider taking a fire axe to the bottom of the boat and drowning the whole bloody lot of them (except Harry, of course, who is such a dear and who hooked me up with some smashing coke (but then the sweet thing doesn’t have a Saxe-Coburg gene anywhere in his little ginger body)).

Thankfully I was distracted by a lustful look from a particularly dishy Gurkha, so a major international diplomatic incident was averted for the time being.

Anyway, I arrived back at Shady Pines to find that the righties at the Corner have been smoking the post-Wisconsin crack pipe and worked themselves up into jittery, pock-marked frenzy and are now wandering the streets muttering Halperin quotes:

“With five months until Election Day, Barack Obama faces a grim new reality: Republicans now believe Mitt Romney can win, and Democrats believe Obama can lose…”

in between trying to cadge subscriptions from the punters so Kathryn Jean can buy her own blow-up Timothy Dolan doll.

Nooners, never one to turn down a passing bandwagon (particularly if it has a Smirnoff logo on the side), is actively crowing about how Obama has lost the election six months out because he doesn’t lie and dissemble like his opponent. I shit you not:

Mr. Obama has become actively bad at politics. Here is an example of how bad. Anyone good at politics does not pick a fight with the Catholic Church during a presidential year. Really, you just don’t. Because there’s about 75 million Catholics in America, and the half of them who go to church will get mad. The other half won’t like it either.

If you’re good at politics, you quietly allow the church what it needs to survive, which actually is no more or less than what’s long been provided by the U.S. Constitution.

If you’re good at politics but ideologically mean, you string the church along throughout the election year, offering “temporary full waivers” or some such idiotic phrase—politicians love to make up idiotic phrases—on conscience, and then revoke all protections in 2013, after you’ve been re-elected, and have the fight then.

Even worse, Obama is apparently a loser because he’s attacking his opponent:

A more important example, and then we’ll move on. The president opened his campaign with a full-fledged assault on his opponent. This is a bad sign in an incumbent! An incumbent should begin his campaign with a full-fledged assertion of the excellence of his administration—the progress that has been made, the trouble that has been avoided, the promise that endures. You’ve got to be able to name these things. Then, once you’ve established the larger meaning of your administration—with wit and humor, and in a tone that assumes fair minded Americans will see it your way—you turn, in late summer, to a happy, spirited assault on the poor, confused, benighted and yet ultimately dangerous man running against you.

All of which means, in the warm haze of Nooners’ post-Wisconsin bender, that

The Obama administration suddenly looks like a house of cards.

The collective Tarantos are also excited. You can almost see the desperation oozing off the page as they try to paint Wisconsin as the penultimate victory in a string of Republican triumphs, which will culminate in the crowning of King Mitt in January.

To be sure, it’s possible that Obama will stage a comeback and defeat Mitt Romney. Only time will tell. But it’s not as if time took a vow of silence in January 2009. The other day Commentary’s John Steele Gordon provided a helpful list of events that “sure looks like a trend to me”: the emergence of the Tea Party in early 2009 and the town-hall confrontations that summer, Republican victories in New Jersey’s and Virginia’s governor races in November 2009, Scott Brown’s upset in January 2010, the Republican landslide in November 2010, and Walker’s vindication Tuesday, along with the approval of ballot measures curtailing public-sector pensions in California’s second- and third-largest cities. …

“If Republican Mitt Romney is inaugurated as president in January, history may look to June as the month in which President Obama’s fate was sealed,” writes National Journal’s Reid Wilson. If so, we would argue history will be wrong. The crucial month was March 2010, when ObamaCare became law. Obama’s determination to push it through despite overwhelming public opposition was the apotheosis of his contemptuous approach to governing. Pundits who took until this week to notice that Obama is out of touch were themselves out of touch.

Now, I know there are no sure things in politics, and the stupidity and self-destructiveness of a major part of the American electorate is never to be underestimated.

Nonetheless, I think Obama is going to win and win handily.

The more the electorate sees Willard, the more they will dislike him (particularly that part of the electorate which is brown or gay or has a vagina and/or something functioning above the level of their brainstem). The debates are going to be more of a disaster for the Republicans than that time when Uncle Cranky McCain wandered around the stage looking for his doggy mid-debate.

My money’s on the smart black guy that most of the country likes, rather than the dull, awkward, unpleasant, unprincipled trull who thinks that cops, firefighters and teachers are parasites holding back the American economy.

Bring it on.

[Image: Hans Makart (1840-1884) – Der Triumph der Ariadne]

Gratuitous plugging on the internet

A cat - by Jen Hill

I confess myself fascinated by the referral statistics to my blog, tiny in number though they may be.

It is partly driven, of course, by a brazen need to find out whether I am being talked about, for good or ill. I even love my trolls. “Let them hate, so long as they talk about me.” (I think it was Seneca who said that. Or Madonna. I can’t remember now.*)

There is also, however, the pleasure of stumbling across a very good writer because both my post and his are linked to in the same thread. A fine example is Paul Bibeau at Goblinbooks who I came across in a Cracked.com forum thread in which I got a plug. Paul is channeling Ayn Rand, and it is good:

Back in the early 1940s I was living in Tenafly, New Jersey with a guy named Ronnie Hubbard. He was hiding out in his brother’s basement so he could avoid the draft, and I was working at a rendering plant. Most nights we’d lie on this cot he’d found on a curb and drink, fuck like weasels, and smoke opium. I’ll be honest: We smoked a shit-ton of opium. Anyway over the course of a few weeks — it’s hard to piece it all together — we started talking about pranks.

I also get the chance to hook up with old friends, such as AsiangrrlMN who, along with her Angry Black Webmistress, is employing her anger quite effectively:

The second bill is the lovely, “Hey, we’re going to do a completely meaningless procedure before you’re allowed to have an abortion and stick something up your vagina at the same time” bill. It passed the House in VA, 63-36.

Susan of Texas gets Ross Douthat in a headlock and administers some well deserved noogies, while Anita at I Read Odd Books is dumping her 4am findings from the depths of the internet, including a delightfully deranged analysis of bestiality and pedophilia in The Simpson’s Movie.

Over at my other home, the ever magnificent Kay does some straight talking about Senator Roy Blunt, who:

suggests that workers who are denied coverage take their claim to a federal court, so that’s helpful, and I appreciate that advice.

Meanwhile, TBogg takes James Poulos out behind the woodshed and administers the statutory fifty whacks with the stupid stick (and makes straight vodka come out my nose (which, I can now tell you, is not at all pleasant)):

Yesterday James Poulos writing for Tucker Carlson’s Chronicle Of A Career Death Foretold penned an gaseous belch of a post called “What Are Women For?” which was, offensive title aside, what you might expect if you were to dump two scoops of over-educated rhetorical flatulence, a half-cup of undercooked thought experiments, a few overly-ripe bon mots, and a soupçon of undeserved self regard into a blender set at ‘blather’. The end result is what Empedocles fondly referred to in his Purifications as a “steaming pile of donkey poop.”

Best of all, though, I love the pleasure of stumbling across a blogger or artist who has shown the ineffable good taste to have inserted me into their blogroll. Not surprisingly, most of them turn out to also be talented, erudite and funny (and sometimes quite sweary and a little bit odd).

I adore, for example, The Perils of Palins, particularly when she is channeling her inner troll (with troll doll pictures and added cat):

You never know if you have one or two trolls being four or five people, three or four trolls being themselves, or perhaps just one dysfunctional person.

A dog - by Jen Hill

Also deserving of a look is the lovely and very talented (and neither sweary, nor odd) Jen Hill, who has a book coming out and who drew the delightful dog and cat doodles in this post and kindly allowed me to show them to you.

Now then, what delights have you found (or, indeed, created) on the internets, my dears?

* Attributed by Seneca to the playwright Lucius Accius, and said to be a favourite saying of Caligula. Apparently.