Thursday, December 31, 2009

Strike That Political Pose GOP

I am not surprised in the least that the GOP is seeking to capitalize on the attempted terror attack on Christmas. There is nothing like striking political poses in the name of national security (both the Senate and the House campaign committees of the GOP have sent out fundraising letters). Well, if that's the plan, might I suggest getting some proper lessons in truly striking poses?

Now, if you get that practice in, then perhaps the American people will continue to be duped into supporting the GOP's fallacious contentions on Democratic "failures" regarding national security issues. Best of luck (not really)!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How Badly Does the Man Want to Say "I Told You So?"

I think former VPOTUS Cheney wants nothing more than to say "I told you so" to the POTUS. In moves that are still shocking politically, and that I've posted about in the past, Cheney seems determined to convince Americans that Obama is not up to scratch on protecting the U.S., and he will find some Fox News person or right wing radio person happy to let him express that opinion.

Oh, for the days when Cheney hid in his secret bunker and dreamed dreams of torture and the dismantling of American ideals. Now he cannot seem to shut up, and continue his march toward the land of the loud and wrong.

UPDATE 12/30/09: Now this is the type of posturing that should be coming from the White House on all fronts. Ain't nothing like the truth when wielded properly.

DeMint(ed) Actions and Conservative Amnesia

For anyone who has stopped by this blog, I've made it no secret that I totally love and appreciate the work of Rachel Maddow and the staff of her show. Last night's segment on the Nigerian kid who tried to blow up the flight bound for Detroit was yet another reason why I love the work that those folks do.

There are two things about the coverage of this terror attempt that make me mad, and Maddow tapped into both last night. First, WTF is Sen. DeMint talking about, and why is no one beating him with a common sense stick over blocking the nomination of the possible TSA head (imagine if this were during the last administration and a Democrat was pulling a DeMint(ed) stunt like this). Second, how did the conservatives conveniently forget how the Bush administration handled the "shoe bomber?"

The fact that both of these issues were covered last night in two segments was just golden.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Maddow Helping McCain with his Memory, and the Beauty of C-Span

Just watch the clip, and you will totally understand.

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Will Being Gay in Uganda Lead to Execution or Imprisonment? IV

Once again, I was over at Rod 2.0 reading his latest information on what's happening in Uganda. I have also begun checking out the BBC's Africa coverage (here is a great article and video clip). But the comments from that post at Rod 2.0 caught my attention. A couple of the comment writers compared the small community of openly gay Ugandans and black folks in this country on the DL. For all of the excuses that I've heard from black folks afraid to be who they know they are, all I can say is that there are brothers and sisters in Uganda who are out and proud in the face of possible execution or imprisonment by their government. In that world, I can understand being in the closet. Over here, not so much.

UPDATE 12/23/09: Check this out from last night's Rachel Maddow Show, and here is the link to the DC Agenda article she referenced.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ain't Nothin' But Snow in Washington, and All I Can Think About is "Skating"

Washington has begun is slow descent into shut down mode. I can hear the guys clearing the courtyard of my building, as well as the snow plows doing their thing on my street (which happens to be an "Emergency Snow Route"). It was a little comical seeing folks scramble to get their vehicles out of the path of the lurking tow truck (here is the series of fines you will be expected to pay if your vehicle is towed), like the signs weren't as plain as the snow in the sky.

The Smithsonian museums are closed today and tomorrow, and the above ground Metro stations closed (and the buses stopped running) about an hour ago. I am glad that I got all of my provisions yesterday. So, I think I might put in a movie. "Gosford Park?" "The Motorcycle Diaries?" All of the LOTR movies? I'll sort it out.

And even though I am no fan of snow, I cannot deny its beauty. This Washington weather calls for appropriate music. I think that "Skating" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio (from the "Charlie Brown Christmas" special) is pretty near perfect:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Civil Marriage Equality in DC: The Signing of the Legislation

Though I know it isn't over, it is still amazing to watch Mayor Fenty sign the legislation that can bring civil marriage equality to Washington, DC. And even though people will continue to say that the black community is more homophobic than any other in this country, it made me feel good to see that racially diverse group of representatives from official Washington, DC stand proudly as the legislation was signed.

UPDATE 12/20/09: There is a great op-ed in today's Washington Post from the Reverands Wiley explaining why they, as black pastors support same-sex marriage. Their historical contexualization is spot on, and I like the term the Rev. Peter Gomes of Harvard University coined, "bibliolatry," the practice of worshipping the Bible (as opposed to worshipping God).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Will Being Gay in Uganda Lead to Execution or Imprisonment? III

I am glad that the issue of the "Kill the Gays" bill in Uganda has moved more prominently into the public square here in the United States. Rachel Maddow, and a number of GLBT related blogs continue to make sure that this issue remains in the headlines.

Since my last post, the White House has issued a statement against this legislation. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton denounced this move in Uganda at a recent speech on foreign policy at Georgetown. More conservative members of Congress are coming out against the legislation (with chagrin perhaps for many). Over at Towleroad, it was noted that the Archbishop of Canterbury found time to lament the election of a lesbian bishop in the U.S., but seemed rather silent on the activities in Uganda.

In light of some of the rhetoric coming out of some corners in Washington, I would not be surprised if the very people invoking the idea of bringing about "God's war" against the GLBT community in DC were quite comfortable with what is happening in Uganda, particularly since this is a bill that has been inspired by "faith." Thankfully, the Washington Post didn't fall into the trap that the BBC found itself in the other day. The BBC asked its readers if they thought the execution of gays was alright.

Meanwhile, the sponsor of the bill reminded the world that execution is not off the table. So, just to make this clear. If this bill passes in Uganda, those who practice homosexuality and those GLBT folks with HIV who are sexually active will face execution. Those who do not report a practicing homosexual run the risk of being put in prison for not speaking up. Only now, that the situation is being broadcast steadily, and the ties to the American evangelical movement are solidifying, are American conservatives and Christianists speaking out against the bill. I suppose their worlds would have been just fine if the pressure hadn't been applied.

Any wonder what their vision of the United States would be, if they had the power to make it so?

Civil Marriage Equality in DC: Quibbles and Threats

Apparently, there are some upset folks in and around DC.

A Rev. Anthony Evans was even bold enough to say that he would "use the full power of the black church" to derail civil marriage equality in the city. First, Evans is crazy to think that he can actually speak for the whole of the black church. Even in my past posts about the church, I was never silly enough to criticize the whole of the institution. Second, Evans might want to do a quick assessment of his membership just to make sure he can even speak definitively about his own congregants; there may be some of his member praying that this bill will move along just fine. Third, I am so through with this notion that a battle over a secular issue is couched as "God's war." This is, has been, and will remain a civil and secular issue. Churches can marry whom they see fit, and discriminate as they please. It really isn't that difficult a concept to understand.

The Archdiocese of Washington is trying to sort out its position in the wake of the passing of civil marriage equality in the city, and the City Council was quite right not to be bullied by the Church on this issue. The Church has a clear way forward, if it wants to avoid any issue with the city: work with Catholics solely. It shouldn't need government funding, and by not taking the funding, the Church actually is better able to maintain its autonomy and its constitutionally protected freedoms. Works for me.

Then there is the random Congressman, Jason Chaffetz, from Utah vowing to stop marriage here in the Washington. Might I suggest that the Congressman focus on the needs of his actual district, and leave the District alone. We are more than capable of making our own decisions for our city.

I am still amazed that the people in this city, particularly some of the black folks in this city, want to put a civil rights issue (and in DC, gay rights is a civil rights issue) up to a popular vote. I am confident that these same folks would be calling for Armageddon if something similar were proposed that affected black people directly. Their unwillingness even to consider the humanity of the DC GLBT community, regardless of color, is astounding. And the assumption that black folks in DC will rise up en masse to hold at bay "the gay menace" is equally delusional.

I remain hopeful that civil marriage equality will come to my city in 2010, and Washington will be an even more welcoming place for all. See, there really is nothing to be upset about.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wanda Sykes Should Be 'Shamed for This (Okay, Not So Much)

And she was so wrong for that last part. Oh my heavens.

The WSNS Take on Droopy...I Mean Sen. Lieberman

Check out the clip below, and just imagine the health insurance lobby as a woman who just told Lieberman that his campaign dollars for the next election are assured, and gave him a kiss, now that he has come out against any meaningful cost saving apparatus to health insurance reform.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Civil Marriage Equality in DC: Second Hurdle Cleared

I am very proud to be a resident of Washington, DC right now, and I am quite happy with this move by the City Council. I was glad to hear Council member Phil Mendelson remind the City Council that there are a number of religious institutions within the District that support civil marriage equality. Furthermore, Mendelson also reminded the Catholic Church and others that in those places where civil marriage equality has come, little seems to have changed (though I think the Catholic charities in MA elected to stop doing adoptions).

Council member David Catania was magnanimous in his words to Council members Marion Barry and Yvette Alexander, the two members who are against marriage equality. Catania is correct in noting that Barry and Alexander have supported the DC GLBT community in the past, and their votes show that. But they are both on the wrong side of history on this one, and it is that plain.

I really appreciated the words of Council members Harry Thomas, Jr., Kwame Brown, Muriel Bowser and Michael Brown. It is great to hear straight black folks explain with clarity their support for civil marriage equality.

We still have to wait for the 30 day review period in Congress before the law becomes official. And I think that we will get this measure through.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Death Unexpected

There is never a good time to pass along the news of a death in the family, but I think it's worse when the death was wholly unexpected. I lost a cousin of mine last night. He was hit by a car while he was walking in Chicago. He survived the hit, but died at the hospital as a result of his injuries. Was he walking to or from home? Had he been with friends? Was his wife with him? I still don't know the answers to these questions, though I am sure the details will be filled in over time.

Even though my cousin was 16 years older than me, and I didn't know him as well as I would have liked (it's amazing what an age difference and distance can render in familial relationships), he was always armed with a smile and a funny story related to his life. I worry about my great aunt who was just settling from the loss of her husband two years ago, because no child should die before its parents.

As the news of my cousin's death settled on me, both an awareness of the tenuousness of life and the realization not to waste time hit me like a two-by-four to the face. Though most of us ignore it, it is true that there is no guarantee of tomorrow. What were my cousin's holiday plans? Was he going to come back to Virginia to be with the rest of the family, or was it going to be another Christmas in Chicago? What was going to happen at the next meeting at work he may have been preparing for?

I am both profoundly sad about this loss in my family and painfully aware that I do not say "I love you" enough. I hope that for the people who stop by this blog that they will take the time as soon as possible and give love to their loved ones, family, friends, whomever. Life really is too short, though living life can be a wondrous thing.

May my cousin rest in peace.

Friday, December 11, 2009

In Praise of Solid Reporting: U.S. Coverage of the Proposed Anti-Gay Legislation in Uganda

Though the outcome of the "Kill the Gays" legislation proposed in Uganda is still to be determined, I think that it is important to offer thanks and praise to "The Rachel Maddow Show." By bringing this issue directly into the homes of her viewers, Maddow has been able to put pressure on some of the more prominent American actors in this sad state of affairs, particularly the Christianist pastor Rick Warren, U.S. Senators Inhofe, Coburn and Grassley, and "ex-gay" "therapist" Richard Cohen.

It is also important to offer praise to all of the various GLBT blogs for highlighting this issue. I've really come to rely on the information I've read on Rod 2.0 and Towleroad, and I would totally encourage anyone who has read this blog to visit those brilliant blogs.

Unless I am mistaken, I sense changes happening as this issue continues to garner more attention. And my thoughts remain with the GLBT community in Uganda. I can only imagine how frightening it would be to know that my country was literally deciding my fate based solely on who I am and who I love.

I will continue to post about this issue until the Uganda legislature makes its decision on this legislation. In the meantime, here is the relevant segment from Maddow's show last night. Enjoy!

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UPDATE 12/11/09: I watched The Rachel Maddow Show tonight, and saw her latest segment on the Uganda issue. I have to give her show further credit for putting this information out there. Now, the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has been contacted directly by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). Check it out.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sade Is Back

2010 is going to be my year now. I just finished listening to "Soldier of Love," the latest from my girl Sade. Helen Folasade Adu has come back to me, right when I need her. The album, also titled "Soldier of Love" comes out 8 February 2010, and I am ready to hear each and every single.

"Curing" the Gay Back in the Day, "The Daily Show" Style

So, I was checking out the latest over at Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog, and noticed that he'd done a post on Rachel Maddow's guest from yesterday, Richard Cohen. One of the folks who left a comment on that post offered an old Daily Show link from '07. It is friggin' HI-larious, and I am posting both parts.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Diagnosis: Mystery Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Diagnosis: Mystery Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

This whole business about "curing" homosexuality is both dangerous and crazy, and the people who perpetuate that lie need to be exposed for the frauds that they are. That this philosophy of "curing" homosexuality is a part of the force behind the effort to pass horrific legislation against GLBT Ugandans is even more distressing.

Jason Jones ("GRR") started back in '07 what Rachel Maddow was able to finish last night, and it was a total pleasure to watch.

Will Being Gay in Uganda Lead to Execution or Imprisonment? II

I am glad that Rachel Maddow is working diligently to keep her viewers informed about the pending Ugandan legislation that would seek the execution of sexually active gays. The information is as helpful as it is shocking. I wonder if people in our government is doing any negotiating with Uganda to derail this potential law.

Here are two segments from Rachel Maddow's show last night (the second clip was just a joy to watch; I was shouting my support for Maddow's questions and statements).

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I also decided to check to see what some of the commentary my be over at the BBC, and I came across this opinion piece by William Crawley. Crawley even includes a link to the proposed legislation (which I hope is not some fake). I also found a debate that was conducted by The Monitor newspaper in Uganda last month regarding the proposed legislation. It really does make for an interesting read, and the sponsor of the legislation, David Bahati, seems like a hot Christianist mess. And this op-ed in The Monitor last Sunday by Amos Kasibante, a chaplain at Leicester University in the UK, was interesting.

I just hope that this whole legislative push will be stopped.

UPDATE: The latest post over at Rod 2.0 is reporting a story from Bloomberg that the legislative discussion on the "Kill the Gays" bill in Uganda can now be called the "Imprison the Gays for Life" bill.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Preserving GLBT Historic Sites II: The Closing of Lambda Rising

I was sad to hear about the closing of Lambda Rising (LR), and so soon after the demise of the Washington Blade. I think that the owner Deacon Maccubbin is right to feel that he can say "mission accomplished." LR was the first gay bookstore I visited as I was coming out. I also bought my first E. Lynn Harris novel, The Invisible Life, there, and I always went back to buy books (my first book about bears and bear culture), magazines or birthday cards (some of the best I've ever read).

But LR was more than a bookstore. It was in many ways a community center, and it was definitely a safe space. The Rainbow History Project has an excellent historical account of LR's coming to be. Yet with the rise of big box bookstores recognizing that the GLBT community read, and the world of online shopping providing virtually anything, niche stores like LR have been hit quite hard. Towleroad recently posted on the closing of a gay bookstore in Indianapolis, Out Word Bound. And I found an interesting posting about the Common Language Bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI. That bookstore, in an effort to survive did a "Book-a-Palooza" fundraising effort over the weekend (I hope that went well).

There is already talk of trying to get an historic landmark designation for one of the spaces tied to LR, and I think that it would be a wonderful way to honor the historic impact that both Deacon Maccubbin and LR had on the GLBT community of Washington, DC and the nation.

It's important to remember that hundreds of thousands of us sought out gay bookstores to help us on our journies to ourselves. Though some may feel that there is no longer a need to go to a gay bookstore anymore, those stores and the people responsible for them still deserve respect and honor for what they have contributed the GLBT community.

And of course, I will be heading down to LR to pick up some Christmas gifts.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How Should We Sacrifice to Support Our Troops and Our Wars (Those of us Who Aren't Military)?

It's early Sunday morning, and it's finally cold in Washington. I just finished reading Frank Rich's op-ed, which is he take on Obama's speech on Afghanistan. It makes for an interesting read, but a point Rich raised that really struck me was something I've wondered since the first calls of war started: general American sacrifice in a time of war.

Rich linked to the text of a speech from Bush trying to urge Americans to get back on airplanes to show the world that things are alright. "Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed..." is what Bush said then, and I don't begrudge him that. We needed, at that time, to re-establish some semblance of normalcy. My problem came from the fact that what was asked of the majority of us stopped there.

It is no secret that our military families are the ones who have sacrificed in ways that the rest of us cannot imagine. But what have we been asked to do as a people? At the height of the bubble, when things seemed to look good, I think it would have been a good thing to consider a temporary war tax, so that we could have paid more directly for the war in Afghanistan. Why didn't we consider either raising the gasoline tax, or ration the amount of gas available to non-military consumers, because our troops needed the gas that we didn't need to use?

Think of all of the sacrifices that were made during WWII. The country as a whole sought ways to do its part to meet the needs of the mission, and there was little questioning about whether or not to sacrifice in that manner. In the end, most Americans, who were not actually in service, were doing their part to help. Right now, if it weren't for occasional news reports, and/or cynical reminders whenever politically expedient, one would not really think that the United States was engaged in one war, let alone two.

Hell, I feel guilty for not having done more for my part. We all should, and we need to do more than simply say "thanks" to our service members. And we damn sure need to move beyond the empty platitudes like "support our troops." I need to think about how I can help in some substantive fashion. I know that something like a war tax in these economic circumstances are not helpful at this time, but since it seems that we will be at war in some shape or form for a long time to come, then we need to consider better ways to sacrifice for our troops and for ourselves.

Will Being Gay in Uganda Lead to Execution or Imprisonment?

The developing situation in Uganda is horrific. It's bad enough that homosexuality is already criminalized there, and that remains the case in other parts of the world. But to introduce legislation that would execute sexually active gays, imprison non-sexually active gays generally, and imprison people who harbor gays is bat shit crazy. Sadly, there are people in this country who probably think this is a proper means for dealing with homosexuality.

The folks at Towleroad have put together what they call the "Uganda Hub," and there is also a good gathering of information under "Uganda" over at Rod 2.0. Definitely take a look at the compilation of information from both sites. It will make you angry, sad, or both.

Rachel Maddow, meanwhile, has presented excellent segments on what is happening in Uganda, and she has been pointing out the links to members of Congress and Christianists here in the U.S.

November 30, 2009

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December 2, 2009

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December 3, 2009

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December 4, 2009

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In that last segment, Melissa Harris-Lacewell really hit the nail on the head regarding our country's lack of moral standing on the issue of GLBT rights. It will be interesting to see how the Obama administration and/or the Congress will handle this tragic turn of events in Uganda.

The Legitimate Meaning of Teabagging for the Fools Who Didn't Know Before They Started Using It

Rachel Maddow broke it down with the help of the fabulous John Waters, and her righteous indignation is totally justified. And yes, it is funny as hell each time one of these "teabagging" individuals talks about "teabagging." This is what happens when one is sexually repressed and/or uninformed.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Autumn in New York Without Gay Marriage

I followed the sad news that came out of New York this afternoon, and it is disappointing that civil marriage equality did not move the majority of New York State Senators to follow the lead of the Assembly. It's a reminder of how proud I am of the DC Council for its vote for marriage equality yesterday (as well as the second vote coming soon).

Over at the blog Good As You, there is a post showing the photos of all of the State Senators grouped by their vote on marriage. What is heartening to see is that the supporters of marriage equality was a really diverse group of people. Yet when you look at the roster of folks on the side of marriage inequality, it looks like the make-up of the Republican National Convention of 2008.

I raise this, just like the folks over at Good As You, to remind the GLBT community that the line that black folks are more homophobic that other communities is a red herring. The motivating factor for most of the people who are against GLBT rights of any sort is religion, not race. My guess is that each and every one of the people who voted against marriage equality in New York would invoke religion in the explanations of their votes.

It's that simple.

Now over at Pam's House Blend, I saw the statement from the Log Cabin Republicans of New York. Considering that not a single Republican voted for marriage equality, it took balls/breasts of steel to put a statement out blaming the Democrats for this outcome. They might want to revisit the votes of their side of the aisle one more time, and put the cocktail down this time.

Finally, I thought that the statement issued by Governor David Paterson was spot on. That dude is a fierce advocate for the GLBT community.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Conservadem Strategy: Make the Liberal Democrats Kill Health Insurance Reform By Making the Debate About Abortion

Now it makes sense. Conservative Democrats who don't want any form of health insurance reform have devised a plan, so it seems, to make reform unpalatable to liberal/progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Sen. Nelson (D-Nebraska) will introduce an amendment to the current bill that will mirror the amendment introduced by Rep. Stupak (D-Michigan).

By taking this action, conservative Democrats seem to want to force the hand of liberal Democrats by creating a bill that they would be unwilling to support. The public option component seems too up for grabs in terms of support from the general public. But to put into the legislation stronger restrictions on federal financial support for abortion procedures effectively turns the health insurance reform issue into an abortion rights issue, thus blurring the lines regarding overall issue.

Civil Marriage Equality in DC: First Hurdle Cleared

I just found out that the DC City Council passed the legislation for civil marriage equality this afternoon by a vote of 11-2 (Council members Marion Barry (ward 8) and Yvette Alexander (ward 7) were the dissenting votes). There is another vote later this month, Mayor Fenty has promised to sign the legislation, and then there is the Congressional review period (30 days).

I am sad to see that the two Council members who represent both wards east of the Anacostia River voted against the legislation, but I am also not surprised. Alexander in particular has been getting pressure from ministers (most likely Marylanders) to oppose this legislation.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hip Hop Remembrances: MC Lyte

Okay, so technically I was around 20 when MC Lyte came onto the scene, but man did she have an intro to the world with the classic "Paper Thin."

Lyte reminds me of the best aspects of hip hop, before all of the openly violent, homophobic and misogynistic lyrics really took over. Just sit back and enjoy pure talent.

"Lyte as a Rock"

"Cha Cha Cha"

Wanda Sykes Broke Down the Tiger Woods Story So That it is Forever Broke

Sunday, November 29, 2009

They Let Our Top Enemy Get Away in 2001

As we prepare to listen to Obama speak to the nation from West Point on Tuesday night, I think that it is important to remember something that was known years ago: George W. Bush and his minion Don Rumsfeld let Osama bin Laden get away. The war in Afghanistan was justified. We had the world on our side, and our troops were getting it done. Yet, the requests for support to go after bin Laden while he was at Tora Bora, were denied time and again. It's believed that bin Laden escaped in mid-December 2001 into the nether world of northwest Pakistan.

I just finished reading the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report (not including the appendices), and the reading was as fascinating as it was infuriating. The report makes clear that at the time our forces had bin Laden cornered, the "deciders" in this conflict, from Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to Gen. Franks and Lt. Gen. DeLong either didn't believe the overwhelming evidence that bin Laden was close to being captured or killed, or they were focused on Iraq (which again had nothing to do with 9/11).

What is remarkable to me is that I am sure that people who supported Bush during his presidency (and called anyone who challenged him unpatriotic) will see this report as nothing more than some "liberal" hatchet job designed to embarrass Bush. Hell, some of them still think that Iraq had something to do with 9/11.

Imagine if this was a report about Obama's failing to capture bin Laden.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The "Horror" of Two Men Kissing on Television

I just saw this post over at Towleroad, and I have to say that I am not surprised. The faux controversy surrounding Adam Lambert's performance on the American Music Awards has reached a new level of stupidity. As the post at Towleroad noted, the CBS Early Show blurred the kiss between Lambert and a dude, and then went right into the lesbianic kisses among Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera:

For me, this shows how the reaction to male homosexual images is essentially rooted in misogyny. I would love to know why the person who green lit those clips thought that it would be fine to "expose" an early morning audience to women kissing, but felt the need to shield us from men doing the same. Of course the het male fantasy of two women going at it seems to have moved safely enough into the culture that two attractive women can kiss, even with passion, without much fanfare.

I wonder what it will take for a male/male kiss to become as non-controversial as a female/female kiss? I am glad that Lambert has given the country a teachable moment on just this very point.

Dana Perino Misspoke (?) in Her Haste to Pin a "Terrorist Attack" on Obama's Watch

I must have simply dismissed it as a misprint, or that clearly Dana Perino, the former Press Secretary under George W. Bush, misspoke. That she could say, in all seriousness, that we did not suffer a terrorist attack (two, if you count the anthrax scare that had all of us in DC freaked out for weeks, just after 9/11) during the Bush administration is bat shit crazy.

Maybe in her haste to suggest that the events at Fort Hood constituted a terrorist attack, which I don't think it does, she misspoke. I will look forward to her retraction and correction for the record. I also wonder if Ms. Perino believes that all mass murders qualify as terrorist attacks. If that is the case, then perhaps we need to re-examine the past to see how many lone gun did things similar to the Fort Hood shooter.

Sadly, I bet there will now be some viewers of Fox News who will begin thinking that 9/11 happened under Clinton and the ACORN helped to organize it. Actually, some of them may have felt that way already, now that I think of it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Black GLBT Youth Are Under Siege, and the Broader Black Community Seems Not to Care

There were a couple of posts that I read over at Rod 2.0 that truly hurt my heart. The first involved the rape and murder of a black openly gay teenager in Baltimore, apparently by a family friend. The second involved the beating of a black openly gay teenager in Houston, by schoolmates, while school authorities failed to heed the boy's pleas for help.

In a letter to the editor of the "Baltimore Sun" honoring the memory of Jason Mattison, Jr., Baltimore teacher J.B. Salganik asked an extremely important question: "Why does the black community reject civil rights for gays?" This is a question that needs an answer.

When I think of these two stories, coupled with the psychological abuse inflicted upon black gay youth by Donnie McClurkin, I cannot help but get angry. Too many within the black community are digging their heels in on this issue. I don't understand it. Religion and religion as a crutch seem to me to be the biggest culprits, combined with the classic "eww factor" that hets have regarding sexual relations among members of the same sex (how about getting out of our beds, because Lord knows I am not trying to envision hets having sex when I see them).

I am offended by the selfish hording of the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. What happened in this country in the middle 20th century was something that the world recognized as both remarkable and worthy of emulation. Several groups, the world over, seeking civil rights have looked to the Civil Rights Movement as a template. The gay rights movement does the same, just as the women's movement and any other movement one can think of in this country. The fact that the GLBT community, which represents the totality of the racial and ethnic communities in this nation, looks to the Civil Rights Movement in reverence should be seen as an honor. Instead, the so called defenders of the realm see it as a usurpation, and I call them, each and every one, fools for doing so.

Too often, the black GLBT community is ignored by the larger black community, summarily dismissed to try to maintain some bizarre fiction that homosexuality is a "white thing." Too many within the broader black GLBT community cower within the confines of the closet more concerned about "clockability," masculinity and perceived femininity than with their own sense of dignity and self worth. Mind you, I am not talking about the people who are really working their way toward more full and open lives as out black folks. No. I am talking about the people who have given up and convinced themselves that some half-life is better than owning their truth and letting the world know it.

Those of us who are out need to speak more forcefully, and we need to remind the black community. We need to continue participating in the advancement of the community. But we need also to be out as black gay adults, if only to remind black GLBT youth under siege that they can make it through, that the bullying, whether from the school yard or the pulpit, isn't really about them.

I need to do more to help out. The future generation of black GLBT youth deserves our help. We can't let more of our youth die or be beaten because of who they are. This has to stop. Black GLBT adults need to come out in droves, need to show the world that we are an integral part of the broader black community, as well as an integral part of the broader GLBT community.

We owe it to people like Jason Mattison, Jr. and Sakia Gunn and Jayron Martin and the thousands of other black GLBT youth who suffer at the hands of a community that tries continually to say that you are not welcome, worthy or wanted.

Man, I hate it when I get emotional.

A Clear Case of Straight Up Chicken: Joe Lieberman

I agree with others who say that Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman is afraid to go on Rachel Maddow's show. I am confident that he knows that she would have him for lunch regarding the claims he has made with regard to the health insurance reform effort meandering through the Senate as we speak. I am sure that she would want to discuss what he had to say about the Senate legislation on Sunday.

Check out this dodge:

"Velvet Goldmine"-ish Circa 2009

I didn't check out Adam Lambert's American Music Awards performance until this morning, and for all of the talk going on about it, I immediately thought of "Velvet Goldmine." I also thought that this guy was paying tribute to the golden age of Glam Rock, which is a really interesting period in music history, and I am glad to see someone attempt to bring some of that back.

But I find it funny that there is a bit of an uproar about Lambert's antics on stage (well after a normal bedtime for many children on a school night). The man was going for shock value. I was glad to know that the country saw an openly gay performer do things akin to what a straight performer would do for shock value. What I don't understand, however, is this continual discomfort with things sexual.

Our society continues to embrace violence in ways that are truly disturbing, and the Christianists don't really say much about that (I mean just check out "The Passion of the Christ" to see pornographic violence; and I was in a theatre with children when I saw it). Yet, sex continues to be something that we must "save children" from understanding.


I hope that Lambert continues to go down this path, bringing an open gay sensibility to the realm of rock and pop music, and pulling the rest of us with him. And as for my rememberances of "Velvet Goldmine," enjoy this little clip. By the way, Jonathan Rhys Meyers looks perfectly fetching in this film.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fire Geithner and Summers? FINALLY!!!

Right now, I am totally loving Rep. Peter DeFazio. Citing the dubious connections to Wall Street that Obama's two top economic appointees have (not to mention Summers role in decimating Great Depression era restrictions that kept the economy in good stead for decades, while he was under the Clinton administration), DeFazio is calling for increasing the unemployment numbers by two.

I've registered my complaints with these two in the past (see here), and I have yet to believe that they are beneficial to our economy. I know that there are those who feel that Obama has all of these long range, chess strategy based moves that he will make over the course of his administration, but the appointments of these two have always just left me cold. Always. The bizarre ties with Goldman Sachs, an organization that Matt Taibbi has been eviscerating with each new blog post, are only the beginning. And it seems that Rep. DeFazio has had enough.

I hope that there is a groundswell of support for dumping these two men from the Obama economic team. Paul Volker, Robert Reich and/or Paul Krugman would be much better choices for dealing with this economy. And God knows that Elizabeth Warren has been doing everything but self-flagellation to bring attention to the problems that are not changing under these men.

It's time for change we can believe in, and I will not believe that change is beginning to come economically until Geithner and Summers are out of work, and some people with genuine concern and empathy for Main Street are devising economic policy for the Obama administration.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Love of Palin: Is It a White Thing, and I Just Don't Understand?

Remember that annoying tag line from the '80s: "It's a black thing; you wouldn't understand?" Well, I feel like Sarah Palin is a phenomenon that really is a kind of "white thing," because whites seem to be the only demographic group that really likes her. I want to hear from white folks (well really anyone who wants to chime in, but....). In the past, I've tried to explain Marion Barry for a white buddy of mine. Now, I am asking for help understanding the appeal of Palin. The best I've heard thus far, from conservative friends of mine, is that she reminds them of themselves.

Is that really it? I think of myself as a smart guy, but I can tell you that I want someone as POTUS who is beyond smarter than I am. I want someone who is, at the very least, curious about the world. Palin is not that person. She strikes me as someone I would see at Target who somehow managed to do well in politics, sort of.

After I watched this installment of "Countdown," I was just lost regarding the appeal that she continues to have. And, it is clear that she has some real difficulty with the truth.

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Furthermore, there is no substance to much of anything that she has to say. If this post really is quoting Palin from her appearance on Rush Limbaugh's show, then I am mortified for her supporters. Asked a series of policy-like questions by Limbaugh, Palin provided nothing that could even be construed as substantive in her answers.

So, I am asking for help here. Help me understand Palin's appeal, because it just makes no sense to me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Washington Blade Shutting Down?

If the report that I just saw on Towleroad is correct (and I don't have any reason to doubt it), then the venerable "Washington Blade" will be shutting down.

I am in shock frankly. This is the 40th anniversary of the publication, and the Blade is a total institution here in Washington. I hope that the Blade will manage to weather this storm. Perhaps someone(s) with deep pockets here in DC can help to save it.

UPDATE: Here is another story coming in about the closing of Window Media. And here is a segment of NPR's show "Tell Me More" on the Blade journalist Lou Chibarro, Jr. (a 2009 Community Pioneer recognized by the Rainbow History Project). This is really sad.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Overreach by the Archdiocese of Washington

We have a very interesting situation developing here in Washington, DC.

For all intents and purposes, the city is poised to approve civil marriage equality next month. The majority of the City Council supports the measure, and Mayor Adrian Fenty is prepared to sign the legislation when it reaches his desk. Of course, there is that pesky little 30 Congressional review period for all of the District's laws. Barring any real problems there (and it is far from guaranteed that there will not be problems during the review period), then Washington should have civil marriage equality in early 2010.

However, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has issued a full on threat to the city. If civil marriage equality comes to Washington, then the all social service programs administered by the Catholic Church in the city will have to come to an end; so they say. The Church is concerned that the Human Rights Act of 1977, and the religious exceptions within it, do not provide it with sufficient coverage to discriminate against GLBT residents of the city who may want to use some of the social services that the church provides. Therefore, if the Church cannot secure an exemption from the civil marriage legislation, which is essentially an exemption from the Human Rights Act of 1977, then it is prepared to abandon all of those individuals (gay, straight and all in between) aided by its programs.

The Human Rights Act of 1977 is quite comprehensive in terms of who is covered. It even bars discrimination based on appearance. I, however, am more interested in the exceptions. Section 2-1401.03 (b) states the following:

"Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to bar any religious or political organization, or any organization operated for charitable or educational purposes, which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious or political organization, from limiting employment, or admission to or giving preference to persons of the same religion or political persuasion as is calculated by the organization to promote the religious or political principles for which it is established or maintained."

Section 2-1401.03 (d) states the following:

"Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit any religious organization, association, or society or non-profit organization which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society from limiting sales, rental or occupancy of housing accommodations which it owns and operates for other than a commercial purpose to members of the same religion or organization, or from giving preference to these persons, unless the entity restricts its membership on the basis of race, color, or national origin. This chapter does not prohibit a private club, not open to the public, which incident to its primary purpose, provides lodgings which it owns and operates for other than a commercial purpose, from limiting the rental or occupancy of these lodgings to its members or from giving preference to its members."

After reading these two exceptions to the Human Rights Act of 1977, it seems to me that the Catholic Church will be well within the law if it stopped taking money from the city, and generated its revenue from its members, and if it simply restricted its services to practicing Catholics. Yes, there would be thousands of people who would temporarily be in trouble because of the loss of services currently provided. However, Rev. Dennis W. Wiley (co-chairman of D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality) made it clear to the "Washington Post" that "[t]here are others who can step up to the plate who would love to have the contracts [that the Catholic Church currently holds]."

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington wants to have its cake and eat it too. It has no intention of operating within the existing laws of the District. It did not have to seek public money to do its charitable work. The Church can continue to provide all of the services that it currently provides, but it will need to do it within the confines of the Human Rights Act of 1977. I don't think that is too much to ask.

This whole situation is essentially a power play. As D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells stated in an article in the "Washington Post," [i]t's a dangerous thing when the Catholic Church starts writing and determining the legislation and laws of the District of Columbia...."

I agree.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Abolish Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions II

I just finished reading this post over at Towleroad about the Archdiocese of DC threatening to sever its ties with DC government over the possibility of civil marriage equality coming to the District.

Once again, if religious institutions want to play politics, and try to dictate policy, then have at it. Just make sure you make that check out to the IRS. Regarding DC, I pay taxes here, so should I start demanding that the city not direct its funds to the various church services? Should I begin a campaign to pass legislation forbidding religious institutions from seeking government funds of any sort?

This issue needs a genuine remedy. I think that if you accept public funds, then you need to adhere to the public laws. David Catania crafted the legislation for marriage equality in a way that affords religious institutions real breathing room. The Archdiocese of DC, on the other hand, is indeed trying to strike fear into the city council. Catania's response that the city should end its relationship with the Catholic church was the right one.

If churches really want to jump into the political fray, from either the left or the right, then have at it. But they also need to have those tax exemptions abolished. We still need that money, and the new revenue would be most welcome.

Everybody wins, right?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Regarding the Black Church II: On Gay Youth and Vampires

I want to give credit to the blog Rod 2.0 for posting this bit of sad information about gospel singer and "ex-gay" Donnie McClurkin, a man whom the Obama campaign asked to help out in the South Carolina primary back in 2008 (raising the ire of the GLBT community generally). Apparently, McClurkin felt the need to attack gay youth last week. He blasted fem boys and butch girls, and chastised another gospel singer (someone called Tonex) who recently decided to be honest and come out of the closet, which seems like a minor miracle in that world.

As I read the post, I could not help but think about the young people who have been struggling with their sexuality having to be subjected to nothing short of psychological child abuse. Gays as vampires? Really? I think the gentleman doth protest too much, if the comments on Rod 2.0 are even close to correct. And let's not start on the completely mixed signals most likely coming from all of the closet cases that abound.

It was just another reminder of why I'd stated before that I am glad I was not raised within the church; I would have been a mess. How many of those children, who had to listen to the propagandist crap put forth by McClurkin, will end up like that kid "Jeffrey" from the "Tyra Banks Show" who was subjected to an "exorcism" to cast out the "gay demon?"

For every one of those children struggling and suffering within their faith communities, there are other children who are coming out to welcoming families and communities. Those children will be able to develop into healthy and happy adults. I pray that those children in that hall in Memphis last Saturday who continue to struggle with being honest about who they are will find their way from the real vampires in their paths (closeted and so called "ex-gay" church folks, and their straight enablers) toward their own happiness. Amen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Adolescent Music Flashback: Frankie Goes to Hollywood

I was one of those kids who would stay up late on Friday nights to see if I could catch a racy music video that a television show like "Night Flight" would play on occasion. One of those racy videos that I remember seeing one late night was "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood (FGTH).


Now I'd seen the non-banned concert style video of the song, but the racy version was a revelation to me. I also realized that I totally had the hots for the openly gay Paul Rutherford (in his leather gear at the beginning of the video).

Of course growing up in the era of the Cold War (albeit the end of the Cold War, which was unbeknownst to any of us at the time), there was always the concern that the Russians might launch a nuclear attack, so FGTH's single "Two Tribes" was not only a cool song, but culturally appropriate.

"Two Tribes"

The only other song (and video) of FGTH that I really liked was "Welcome to the Pleasuredome." I just thought it was an interesting conceptual video in the tradition of the others that they'd done.

"Welcome to the Pleasuredome"

It seemed back then that saying you were a fan of FGTH was like a badge of coolness. Clearly, one stayed up late at night to catch the racy "Relax" vid, or one was quasi-intellectual for embracing the meaning behind "Two Tribes." For me, FGTH represented another link in the chain toward my acknowledging being gay. And I would like personally to thank Paul Rutherford for his part in that process.

Binging and Purging, GOP Style

I learned years ago that politics is essentially the art of compromise. No one really gets exactly what he/she wants. Legislation is cobbled together. There is give and take from all sides, and then you push forward with something that can appeal to the broadest segments of your constituency. It makes perfectly good sense, even when some of the compromises seem maddening (the best current example is the Democratic sponsored House health insurance legislation, and that was just compromise among Democrats).

I raise this because I simply don't understand this current push to make the Republican Party into a purely ideologically conservative political party. There is a cool story in the Washington Post today that zeroes in on what happened in New York last week, with the solidly Republican New York 23rd congressional district voting for a Democrat for the first time since the Grant administration (yep, Grant). The GOP choice, Dede Scozzafava, came under fire from her right, and eventually withdrew from the race, and endorsed her Democratic challenger. Meanwhile, the conservative candidate went on to lose the race on Election Day.

There is an even better interview that Michael Smerconish (very bear-like, by the way) did with Scozzafava on his radio show. In the interview, Scozzafava presented what she felt were eight primary principles of the Republican Party: "...less government dependency, promoting self sufficiency, believing in lower taxes, believing in fewer government regulations, believing in less government spending, or believing in individual liberty, individual freedom, and less government interference in the lives of people." Why do these principles not somehow jibe with conservatives?

I simply do not believe that the GOP, as a party, can thrive on basically the ideology of a conservative straight Christianist white male Southerner (and those who love them). That seems to me what this push for "purification" of the party means. It's binging on a very narrow perspective of the world. And it is remarkable that the idea of having a variety of positions within a political party is so offensive to conservatives. Liberals within the Democratic Party certainly complain about their more conservative colleagues, but conservatives are literally prepared to boot their moderate (are there even liberal Republicans anymore?) colleagues out of the party altogether. Remember those comments about Colin Powell?

Some of the aforementioned principles named by Scozzafava were reasons why I considered the GOP when I was younger, reasons enough to join the party. The fact that the rising conservatives within the party seemed not remotely to be about many of those principles genuinely turned me off with the quickness, and I left. Conservatives were horrified, for example, by Scozzafava's pro-choice position, and by her support of gay marriage. Those two issues, I think, actually fit the principles of Republicanism she articulated, specifically individual freedom and less government interference.

Maybe what conservatives need to admit is that they would really rather have a theocratic, fear-based defense state, where the people they don't like would suffer at the hands of government, and the people they like would benefit financially (if they have the right credentials, associations and networks) or be placated by having people around them to look down upon and bully.

The GOP cannot survive as simply a party of conservatives, but I think the party will do its best, in the end, to prove me right.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wanna Know What Happens When Crazy Meets Silly?

I just finished reading Sam Stein's post on Thursday's rally on the U.S Capitol grounds. I'd considered going down there myself, but I suspect my laughter would have given away my position. Lately, I haven't been sure whether I should laugh or shake my head at the open ignorance of what these tea party types espouse.

I certainly would not be surprised if many within that lot would go all Malcolm X on us to get Obama out of the White House. Meanwhile, watching House Republicans spew their sham patriotism was sickening, especially, as Rachel Maddow showed, when a couple of them didn't seem to know basics things related to American civics:

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Maddow even provides a correction to the above segment that includes the perfect "School House Rock" reference and video:

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So what happens when crazy meets silly? You end up with what we have witnessed coming from the GOP. These people have offered painfully little to the broader health insurance reform debate that is substantive. And even when the little substance that they have offered is considered, say tort reform for example, we already know that Republicans on the Hill have no intention of supporting any bill that is not their own.

You also end up with these people protesting here in Washington who seek only to complain about being pissed that Obama and Democrats won last year's election. You end up with people who most likely could not tell you the distinctions among fascism, communism and socialism, because they are on the ready to invoke Hilter and or Mao, for whom I am sure they know just as much. It's pitiful to watch.

As I've said in my various posts on health insurance reform, there are plenty of areas where critiques of the Democratic plans could be beneficial, where substantive debate could help to craft stronger health insurance reform that would benefit the overwhelming majority of Americans. The GOP and these tea party people are not interested in substance or debate, and they should recognize how far off of the cliff they've fallen, because these folks are following the lead of the queen of crazy herself, Michele Bachmann. That more than anything says oh so much.