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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bemused News

If you have not been following the melamine import contamination story, you should be. It's now clear that the imported components were used as feed for animals entering the human food chain in the US. There's no way to know what you are eating. It appears that the contamination was deliberate in order to get a higher price for the feed components (on testing, this additive would make it appear that the feed components had a higher protein content than they really did). It all depends on how much you get, so now would be a good time to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Kids and smaller adults would be the most susceptible. A portion of the population lacks a liver enzyme that breaks down chemicals, and unless you have received specific testing (done by companies that work with chemicals), you would not know you lack it - but you would almost certainly be more susceptible.

I don't want to beat a dead horse, but the corn/ethanol push has raised feed prices very high, but there are also severe end-user price pressures preventing full recoupment of those costs. This has feed producers casting around for anything they can use cheaply. Probably the only way to stop this is with enhanced US testing. Write your Congressman on this one; it's going to cost. The reason I am so sure of this is that I have been following alerts for animal disease in Asia for several years, and I think feed contamination for animals in China is what is causing a big portion of the summer swine deaths there. They never seem to be able to peg it to one disease, but animals are dying by the tens and hundreds of thousands when placed under stress. On the chat boards, a lot of farmers attribute it to bad feed, and in some cases that seems to have been confirmed. My guess is that the animals are semi-poisoned and susceptible to stress and disease.

On Friday we get the monthly employment report; today's weekly unemployment claims report showed a large drop in continuing unemployment. This week's report was for the week ending April 28th and is very important because it's the first clear post-spring break report. Actual continuing claims dropped 181,964. Continuing claims are now exceeding last year's by less than 50,000.

In the face of substantial evidence for a weakening economy, many are wondering how employment can be so strong. My answer is that illegals are leaving due to less unskilled work available and stepped-up enforcement. On my road trip, I noticed a sharp drop in short brown people with confused looks on their faces on road crews, construction crews and in stores. Roaming around GA for a bit confirmed this. My guess is that these people are quietly evaporating and being replaced with the documented population, which would account for the situation. I have no idea about how long this can go on, but overall it should provide not just bolstered employment figures but some stimulus to the economy. A decent portion of the now absent people were crew workers who came to earn but left their families in their native countries (not just Mexico). This meant that they sent as much as they could save to their families elsewhere, and if residents take over those jobs, more of their incomes will be spent in the US.

In GA, I would estimate that at least two-thirds of these people are suddenly gone by checking store traffic. It's almost eerie. I am wondering if epic inflation might also have had something to do with it.

This isn't going to save us, but it will lessen the impact of the construction slowdown on the general economy and defer the month of reckoning. Relative strength in manufacturing is also helping. It is true that manufacturing is a smaller portion of the employment economy, but enforcement for illegals in plants is exaggerating the impact of positive employment trends in manufacturing. Crider is just one example; this is happening around the country. Such raids are often followed by wage increases. Crider, for example, was paying 5.15 an hour and almost immediately raised its wages to 6.15.

We need the stimulus; the full crunch in housing construction and the credit problems are not yet upon us.

To end on an epically hilarious note, Jim McGreevey, the ex-governor of NJ, is slated to attend an Episcopal seminary to New York. This news was released just a couple of days after McGreevey officially became Episcopalian, which is the first red flag.

If you listened to NPR, you would probably get the idea that McGreevey was drummed out of office for being gay. Nothing could be further from the truth; McGreevey's administration was haunted by an unbelievable range of ethical lapses. Indictments of his associates for various severe crimes had become constant. The culmination was that an associate was indicted (and subsequently pled guilty):
David D'Amiano, a prime McGreevey fund-raiser, pleaded guilty to charges that he extorted money to help a landowner get a better price on his farm. D'Amiano also admitted to prompting "State Official One" - acknowledged as McGreevey - to use the word "Machiavelli" in a conversation with the farmer. It allegedly was a code word indicating the governor's complicity in the deal. McGreevey said he used the word innocently.
And if you believe that, you still have to explain another 20 or so federal charges against associates. New Jersey does not demand high ethical standards in its governmental officials, but McGreevey met and exceeded all New Jersey norms of corruption. It wasn't being gay that forced McGreevey out of office; it was being a sleazebag of the most monumental proportions.

Since leaving office McGreevey's conduct has not improved. He wrote a tell-all book which included a purple, passionate description of a sexual encounter at his and his wife's home with Golan Cipel, his alleged gay lover appointed to the top security position in NJ. I heard this on NPR. According to McGreevey, this sexual encounter occurred while his wife was in the hospital having just given birth to his daughter. Even the highly sympathetic NPR lady had trouble swallowing this one. Being massively pregnant is not a time of sexual confidence for most women; even women who gain weight nowhere else assume the general proportions of a pumpkin. (I had a friend who looked thin as a rail from the back, but when she turned it was Whomp! Total eclipse of the sun.) McGreevey's explanation was that being in the closet was what made him act that way, but that's no excuse for humiliating your wife (who had been highly sympathetic and supportive) after you leave the closet by writing such a memoir. His wife and he are now embroiled in an ugly divorce and she has just released her own tell-all memoir.

So recently the voters of New Jersey were not thrillled to discover that a local university had hired McGreevey as a part-time instructor, and that, get this, he was teaching a course in ethics, for which he was receiving state pension credits. This caused considerable heartburn among state workers; New Jersey has a severe unfunded public pension problem which is probably going to require cutting pension benefits for many low-level state government workers who have genuinely and honestly put in their time.

There you have it. Unindicted co-conspirator, Ethics instructor, Episcopal seminary. It's all good. (The pensions for Episcopalian ministers are pretty good.) See TitusOneNine for commentaries about the oddity of the procedure:
Even if, by some strange reason, this parish has done everything to this point on their own, the diocese should step in now and say “WHOA.”

I don’t care who you are, but no one should be starting a MDiv weeks after Confirmation and months after first starting to attend the Episcopal Church. His recent public history, personal and professional, simply moves this from the totally inappropriate to the absolutely absurd.

This really does communicate much about the state of our church.
It is certainly a benefit to the Continuing Anglicans, the fleeing Episcopalians, and the Roman Catholic church. The seminary McGreevey is reported to have been accepted at is known to be exceedingly friendly to those with a same-sex orientation who practice "serial monogamy" with extremely rapid turnover times, such as overnight. Dean Farabee's famed Easter bathhouse sermon aptly expresses the mindset. There are many Episcopalians highly sympathetic to the situation of gays and lesbians and willing to take communion from non-celibate gay or lesbian ministers. However, they are quite perturbed by the acceptance of rampant promiscuity among a segment of the lavender Episcopalian ministry and the rejection of central tenets of Christianity, such as the uniqueness of Jesus as redeemer of the world.

There have been "out" ordained lesbian and homosexuals in the Episcopalian ministry for decades. Nobody cared. What is destroying the Episcopalian church now is theology (or the lack of it), and the efforts of highly liberal bishops to purge ministers who do not follow their version of it. The original split was because when the Episcopalians decided to allow ordination of women, there were many congregations and bishops who disagreed, and the compromise was that each bishop would decide the matter according to his (or her) individual understanding. After about 15 years, a pogrom of sorts started in which those who had conservative theology in this matter were attacked and marginalized. Liberal bishops would not allow congregations in their dioceses to keep or call such ministers, for example. In other words, it's a lack of tolerance, and the lack of tolerance is coming from the "liberals" rather than the conservatives. And it is really a type of extreme feminism that caused the main split.

I know NPR means well, but it also seems cruel and unfair to make an ethically challenged man like McGreevey the poster child of the cause of gay "liberation". What of the legions of gays and lesbians who do not behave this way? Is it fair to equate them by implication with McGreevey?

I'm not as sure that the economy is worsening. ISM service and index are both up, unemployment claims are down, factory orders are up, etc. The Fed hinted that a rate rise may be in the cards. The stock market and bonds both seem to be reflecting a stable economy with stable interest rates. I am not trying to be snooty, but I read a bunch of blogs and the overall attitude is rather pessimistic. Can you expand on that sometime?
ISM Services came in high too.

There is a real pickup.

When one takes a very close and open minded look at all of the men in high profile positions that have been outed should lead one to believe that simply condemning homosexuality does not work in stopping or preventing it. Many of these men are members of the clergy. It obviously will never work in preventing or stopping homosexual behavior or orientation given the many facts we have available if we dare look. If the clergy themselves who vehemently condemn homosexuality on the pulpit but then in private engage in homosexuality and fantasy I believe provides some important evidence. The evidence of which I speak is that homosexuality goes much deeper than simply acting out physically. There is not a gay man that I have ever talked to that hasn’t admitted to trying or wanting to change their homosexual fantasies even before they have their first experience. We, as gay people learn very early on what behaviors are considered normal and which are considered not only abnormal but abhorrent. I, like so many other young children tried with all of our might to pray these powerful yet disdainful feelings away. Many clergy members choose the clergy for the very reason of trying to rid themselves of these overpowering natural urges. They privately hope that if they join the clergy they will be closer to God and then perhaps he will rid them of these feelings. This is what is meant by “the closet”. The closet is an emotional place that many homosexuals choose to live in, in order to prevent anyone from finding out or discovering their deeply hidden feelings. Both men and woman often do this. In fact most gay people start out in the closet once they have been socialized enough to understand that society does not permit these types of activities or feelings of same sex attractions. Instead these young boys and girls are forced into pretending that they have “normal” feelings of attraction like all the other kids. Unfortunately many choose to live in the closet for long periods of time causing more emotional harm to themselves and more victims of the deception.

The length of time one chooses to live in the closet has to do with so many variables. Some choose to live in the closet for religious reasons. They may be from deeply religious and socially conservative families. They may feel that by exposing their true nature that they may lose the love of their parents, families or their caretakers and are terrified of being shut out in some way such as losing their love or being punished for their feelings. They may also choose the closet for professional reasons. They may carry fear of losing their jobs or have fear of moving up in a company. Therefore economics can be a very powerful reason for staying in the closet way into their adulthood. I believe strongly that the topic of “the closet” needs to be addressed and understood. I believe it is essential to discuss “the closet” to provide the necessary context from which to view this issue and the many scandals. Particularly now however I am speaking of men at this time. The reason being is because I believe men use the closet even more often than woman because of societies more narrow view and expectations of what behaviors are considered acceptable and “normal” for men. This discussion needs to be civilized, and our knee jerk reactions and judgments held in check. We need to discuss this subject with compassion because there is a lot of emotional pain involved in living in the closet. We have to discuss this with a very sincere desire to try and understand why so many men are seemingly suddenly becoming gay. Of course this is an impression to some but far from the truth. These men have been living extremely lonely double lives, riddled with guilt in “the closet”. Woman can be tomboys much easier than men can be sissies. Of course not all gay men are effeminate by a long shot but that is a stereotypical image of gay men and therefore many men attempt to cover up any behaviors they may have and believe may bring unwanted suspicion onto them. Therefore men, whether they be gay or straight, will practice stereotypical masculine behaviors to thwart any suspicion out of fear and/or necessity. This is especially true if they feel pressure to do so to protect their careers, career advancement, fear of social denunciation or they have difficulties reconciling their religious views with their natural inner feelings and same sex attractions etc. These are however the most common reasons for men to join the astounding numbers of other men that are also hiding in the closet.

The fear of being discovered can be enormous and absolutely terrifying. These men will often then do whatever they believe society expects from them. They will marry and have children out of desperation in an always unsuccessful attempt at suppressing these natural longings and hoping that they will eventually go away. To Gays these attractions feel perfectly normal and are. Would we rather they try and unsuccessfully continue to hide by getting married and have homosexual secret liaisons with men and feel terrible guilt in doing so. They will do their very best to compartmentalize their lives and be successful at it for awhile but not forever. However I believe and have found while researching my book that the longer one stays in the closet the more damage is done. It is generally very difficult to compartmentalize ones life for long without some emotional problems developing in varying degrees and manifesting in a variety of ways. Many closeted men develop coping mechanisms such as addictive behaviors of all sorts whether they are alcoholism, prescription or non prescription drug abuse. They may develop addictions to pornography, sexual addiction or other self-destructive ways of acting out. Once again unfortunately the longer one stays in the closet there will then also generally be more victims because of their closeted lifestyle choice. This is the only place where the word choice can be used correctly within the context of this subject. They can either “choose” to live in the closet or “choose” to live out their truth of who they really are. The victims may be their wives and children, their friends, parents and siblings. All feeling like they have been betrayed and deceived when the closeted individuals true nature is discovered as it was for ex-governor of New Jersey, Mr. McGreevy, ex-congressmen Foley and now the president of the Evangelicals, to name just a few of the staggering number of men that have also been hiding their true selves. I feel very sad for the victims as well as I very much understand the humiliation, despair, and profound depression that the closeted individual feels that soon follows once that door to the closet is flung open. For some, the shame and fear is just too unbearable and suicide seems like the only alternative to ending their unbearable pain and shame.

Society needs to take some responsibility with this matter of the closet by being more accepting of alternative lifestyles. Without the closet, try and imagine how much less pain many people and families would have to endure. Not only the ones that feel that living in the closet is their only alternative, but for the victims that find themselves feeling betrayed and the breaking up of families that soon follows. We as a culture have some soul searching to do on this matter and not be so self-righteous. There are a variety of ways of loving and living. We need to accept the fact, that which seems to be normal for some is not necessarily normal for all. However, as I said the closet can cause deep and very troubling emotional problems that can eventually manifest in abhorrent behaviors. Unfortunately homosexuality is still frowned upon by many in American culture, which in turn renders same sex marriage completely out of the realm of possibilities for especially the conservative religious right.

For gays that feel the need to come to terms with their same sex attractions, I generally do not recommend discussing these issues with clergy. The reason I feel this way is because it can cause further damage due to their religious agendas which can deepen one's guilt, shame and depression. This is a very complicated issue that society has to become more compassionate about. If we do not, we will continue to shame many people with same sex attractions enough that will perpetuate their confusion. It will also inhibit many from being true to themselves from the beginning and also prevent them from seeking the appropriate help for any specific personal issues in which they may be struggling with. Thank you, Aaron Silver Fennville Mi 49408 www.aaronjasonsilver.com
Thanks for sharing Aaron;

Mama; Do you think the drop of claims could be due to people's benefit running out?
For older people, yes. I think that's been a factor for a long time. But this would not be a sudden change.

I think the majority of the drop in claims is due to illegals moving on and legals taking up those jobs.
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