Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Interruption In Service

I lost a couple blog posts due to the foul circumstance of a bad internet connection at home, which means I'm probably going to have to start blogging at school (oh, I started school and am now a real-life college student.  Isn't that neat?).  This just means I probably won't be able to post as often.  Apologies.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

George Takei Reassures The World

George, I love you.  I love you so much.  If I weren't engaged and you weren't already married...

Plus: John DeLancy is totally a homo, amirite?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: Vile Police Tactics And How You Can Help

Things are intensifying in the continuing occupation of Wall Street, where protests are entering their tenth day tomorrow.  This footage was captured on the scene this weekend, depicting penned-in protesters who were pepper-sprayed without provocation in what appears to be a purely retributive assault on people making use of their First Amendment right to free speech.  The video might disturb some of you, as the female protester's agonized screaming touched a horrified chord for me:

This is heinous.  Not only were these women doing nothing more dangerous than shouting slogans, they were clearly penned in and controlled in a manner that rendered them essentially harmless.  They were clearly no danger to any of the police officers present.

The culprit, one Deputy Inspector Bologna, has been identified, thanks to a photographer on the scene.  However, the NYPD is defending Bologna's actions, as reported by The Atlantic:
According to the NYT, the chief police spokesman, Paul Browne, said that the policeman used pepper spray "appropriately." Great. On the video we can't hear what either side is saying. But at face value, the casualness of the officer who saunters over, sprays right in the women's eyes, and then slinks away without a backward glance, as if he'd just put down an animal, does not match my sense of "appropriate" behavior by officers of the law in a free society.
This is insane.  These women are victims of violent crime at the hands of the New York City Police Department, it's quite clear.  However, the Department's spokesperson has now accused activists of editing the video in order to paint the act as criminal behavior.  Camera people on-site have submitted multiple videos to make it quite clear that no editing has taken place, but still no action has been taken against Deputy Investigator Bologna.

In other Wall Street protest news, Noam Chomsky, a renowned philosopher and scholar in political fields, issued a statement of support for the protests, as found on the Occupy Wall Street website:
Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street -- financial institutions generally -- has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world). And should also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power. That has set in motion a vicious cycle that has concentrated immense wealth, and with it political power, in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of 1%, while the rest increasingly become what is sometimes called "a precariat" -- seeking to survive in a precarious existence. They also carry out these ugly activities with almost complete impunity -- not only too big to fail, but also "too big to jail." 
The courageous and honorable protests underway in Wall Street should serve to bring this calamity to public attention, and to lead to dedicated efforts to overcome it and set the society on a more healthy course.
If you, like me, support the Wall Street protesters, I'm going to ask you to click here and donate to the cause.  You can choose which fund to give to from a variety of options, to include their media fund and their food fund.  You can even order pizzas for them online, as local pizzeria Liberatos has created an "occu-pie" for the occasion (please order vegan or vegetarian pizzas only).

Remember, they may be in New York City, but they're standing up for all of our rights across America.

I was going to ask for original footage if any of my readers are in New York, and it would honestly be great if I could run some original stuff on OAQ, but if you live in NYC and do decide to attend the protests, please be very very careful to not run awry of the local authorities.  Things are getting dangerous.

I really.  Really.  Wish I was in New York.

Advertising Bigotry

Today in dumb billboards:

This billboard popped up in Toledo Ohio, and is a response to another billboard that appeared earlier this year:

The creator of the hate-y billboard has been receiving "hate mail" from gay and lesbian residents of Toledo and had this to say about the controversy his church has generated:
“I love everyone. There’s nothing on that billboard about hate. ... I’m getting hate mail from lesbian and gay people, but my point is that I love them too much to let someone believe a lie. I love this city too much to let a lie be sown.”
Right.  I have a suggestion for the Rev. Tony Scott: if you loved your town, you'd stop using tithe money to advertise oppression for gay people and put it to use-- say, with a homeless shelter.  That probably wouldn't gain you parishioners or additional tithing, unfortunately, as your billboard likely will.  Nothing says "come to our church!" in Ohio like "We hate gays old-fashioned style!"

Obama Slams Republicans (Sorta) Over Booing Of Gay Soldier

The President took the Republican party to task for its actions this weekend in a stern denunciation (well, stern for him anyway) at a San Jose fundraiser, the first of his campaign.  His remarks (via AMERICAblog Gay):
At his first fundraiser in San Jose, President Obama took aim at Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, without naming the Texas governor by name, and was critical of the recent GOP debates. He said the 2012 election will be "a contest of values." 
"Some of you here may be folks who actually used to be Republicans but are puzzled by what's happened to that party, are puzzled by what's happening to that party. I mean, has anybody been watching the debates lately? You've got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change," he said, to applause. "It's true. You've got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don't have health care and booing a service member in Iraq because they're gay. 
"That's not reflective of who we are," Mr. Obama said. "This is a choice about the fundamental direction of our country. 2008 was an important direction. 2012 is a more important election."
While eloquently put and extremely accurate, I worry that Barack Obama's rhetoric on the intractability and intrinsic insanity of the GOP's recent stances (and tacit approval of the rabidity of their supporters) is too little, too late.  Of course these remarks were made at his first fundraiser.  Campaigning has officially begun for the White House, and that's when he needs to be seen as a strong opponent to the ridiculous politics of the right.  However, remarks like this would perhaps have been more useful (and better for his campaign) if he had made them, oh, when policy was being decided.

Calling for an end to Republican craziness is great!  How about we do so when, for example, they're holding the country's economy hostage and threatening shutdowns in order to avoid generating revenue with which to repay our debt?  Strong rhetoric isn't just needed on the campaign trail, but also in the day-to-day operations of our nation.  It's something that's needed, and it isn't necessarily something we've seen.

Interview: There's An Elephant In The Room

One thing that I rarely get to do while blogging is comment on the less dire aspects of gay culture, to include music.  I, frankly, have terrible taste in music and you probably wouldn't want to hear my thoughts on it for that reason.  Additionally, I haven't particularly ever been a fan of "gay music," vastly preferring Nine Inch Nails (yay!) to Lady Gaga (shudder).

However, every now and then I come across a musical group or experience that I find fascinating.  One of those unique experiments in queer culture is gay rap, a genre which has been vastly underrepresented by musical artists or uncovered by the media.  Until now, hip hop on the queer scene has mostly been supported by artists like Cazwell.

However, I found this gay group, Elephant, quite recently and got the chance to speak with them.  They're twin brothers from Oklahoma, Jackson and Coleman, and the first thing you'll notice about these 26 year-old rappers is they certainly are not Cazwell.  I watched their first video, below, and was struck immediately with their ability to comment on far more serious topics than other forays into gay hip hop without sacrificing humor or playfulness.  Watch (language is NSFW):

Jackson and Coleman were kind enough to do an e-mail interview with me, and we discussed their difference from previous forays into gay rap, HIV, and the stigma of growing up in a small town.

OAQ: The group name Elephant brings to mind certain phallic imagery both on the initial experience with your music and, of course, upon perusing your lyrics. Why Elephant, and what message are you trying to convey?

J&C:  We always feel eyes on us when walking down the street together, and un-suspecting crowds tend to look at us like a freakshow as we're walking out on stage, other events, etc. The name Elephant really did come from the proverbial one on the room, saying things people are too afraid to, being impossible to ignore. It seems natural to us.
OAQ: You guys are certainly not the first queer men to attempt to break into the world of rap or hip-hop. Notably, of course, Cazwell has been involved with producing tongue-in-cheek hip-hop for years, however, his style is decidedly different, being a sort of candy-coated commentary on gay culture. You guys certainly don't appear to candy-coat a thing. What inspired you to take this heavier edge? Do you consider yourself a throwback to more traditional gangsta and if so, what in that genre appealed to you?

J&C: We can't really get excited about something unless it's urgent and focused, has a message, etc. Even in our daily lives it's hard for us to candy-coat things. That gangsta throwback sound we have in some our music totally holds true to the way we naturally write, I think. There's something about the attitude and humor of that kind of sound; it makes people instantly listen to you in a different way. It makes people ask more questions than they ordinarily would, and they automatically assume you're not going to take it easy on them, which we don't.

OAQ: Your lyrics are rife with drug references, which some of the more staid, picket fence queers will undoubtedly object to as an unfortunate stereotype of gay culture. I'm a former meth user myself, so I know that it's not necessarily a stereotype, but a very real component to modern gay youth. Why do you incorporate drug themes in your music? Do you consider these references to be central to some of your message, or is it ancillary to a larger one?

J&C:  The drug references are a reflection of us. We've both had plenty of problems with drugs when we were younger and even though we have our shit together now, we're the same people we were back then. Drugs consume a lot of people; even the thought of drugs consume people long after they stop taking them. I think poking fun at yourself--or even being self-deprecating--can give your points more impact; it tells someone that you don't hide from anything and you're not afraid to be yourself.

OAQ:  While your lyrics have a touch of humor to them, I picked up a strong current of underlying anger and resentment towards what I could classify "haters," which I specifically read as homophobes. Do you think that is accurate? If so, what experiences have you dealt with that inspired this playful rancor towards your detractors?

J&C:  Yes, it's completely accurate. Simply growing up in rural America exposed us to homophobia on some level everyday. The general belief among most of our peers in high school, as well as most middle-aged friends of the family, was that gay people are morally beneath and worth less as individuals than that of their heterosexual counterparts. When we came out at the age of 14, we were major targets in school. The specific stories have all been heard before, but I don't think the details remain important anyway.

OAQ:  Queer Nation is a song describing (this is how I read it anyway) strength in the queer community through rather explicit discussions of sexual domination. Can you expand on that at all? What IS the Queer Nation?

J&C:  You're right, but Queer Nation is really our threat to dominate what the world sees as cool. To inspire people to assume any position or title that they feel rights to, whether the general population can imagine it or not.

OAQ:  I listened to your track The Notorious H.I.V.  I'm poz, and many of my readers are as well, so a safe-sex message while still giving an impression that safer sex can be hot is a valuable one that I think many people can appreciate. Have you ever had a personal experience related to HIV that inspired this missive?

J&C:  Honestly, we've both had experiences with men simply not caring about using protection and assuming that one's word is enough to ward off an STD, and that's never been something we've been careless about. It just seemed like an effortless message to piece together, so we tried to keep the song as simple and stripped as possible. Like you said before, we don't get exposed to messages that sexualize people with HIV very often, as well.

You can find their website by clicking here, where they have additional music to this video, to include The Notorious H.I.V., which we discuss in the interview.  While I've never before been much for rap, I'm excited and interested to see what the future holds for Elephant.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Olbermann Covers The Occupation Of Wall Street

Former MSNBC talk show host Keith Olbermann, whose popular show Countdown now running on Current TV, is taking advantage of the mainstream media blackout on the occupation of Wall Street by running a segment on the protest.  Watch the video below, he refers to the arrest of protesters under a 166-year-old statute banning masks as "crap" and questions why major newspapers are refusing to print news about the event.

Favorite quote:  "You'd think it would at least have made it into the traffic reports."

I think his guest's analysis is correct to a point.  I can't help but feeling that the news blackout is more about the corporate interests in the mainstream media, however, than about any sort of disinterest in liberal protests.  Both are probably true.

Confused About "Class Warfare?" Let Elizabeth Warren Break It Down For You

Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the nomination in the Massachusetts Senate campaign against Scott Brown, elucidating the fallacies at the heart of the protections Congress is currently extending to the super-rich:

Maggie's New Gig: Supporting "Victims" Of Marriage Equality

One of the powerful and most often repeated memes of the opposition to marriage equality is the idea that gay citizens fighting for their rights are somehow victimizing people who want to oppress LGBTs.  NOM has tried to hide their donor list for years while repeating this line, insisting that by exposing who their supporters are they'll be left open to harassment and violence by "homofascists."  I'm of the opinion that they simply don't want that sort of transparency because something is fishy in their books, thus inventing this clever myth in order to protect their BS, but it's one the right has latched onto with fervor.

Continuing that myth, the newly-stepped-down former NOM chairwoman Maggie Gallagher has announced, just one day after her resignation, that she has a new project: heading up a support network for people who feel afraid or victimized due to LGBT activism:
If you have been threatened, harassed, or made to feel afraid because you believe in the great, foundational truth of Genesis –we are born male and female and called to come together in love to give children mothers and fathers—Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance is here to help you: you are not alone. 

We want to hear your story, connect you with others who share your deepest beliefs, with legal and other practical help, and with other Americans of good will, who (regardless of their views on marriage) want to put a stop to the shaming and the fearmongering of our fellow citizens. 
The goal of the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance is to create a supportive community for those who have been threatened for standing for marriage, to nip the climate of fear being created in the bud, to expose for fair-minded Americans on both sides of the debate the threats being made, to conduct high-quality qualitative and quantitative research documenting the extent of the harm, to develop legislative and community proposal to protect Americans right to engage in the core civil rights: to organize, to vote, to speak, to donate, and to write for marriage. 
Isolated and alone, we can be suppressed and intimidated. Together we are too many to be treated as second-class citizens.
This idea that conservative Christians are being treated as second-class citizens is insane.  I recommend to anyone that feels like this group speaks to them instead seek out psychiatric care.  Delusions of victimization are regularly characterized in paranoid disorders and can be treated.

Rick Santorum Condemns Booing, Contradicts Self

Rick Santorum gave an interview to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who is shaping up to be quite an advocate (in weak Faux News terms) for the gay community.  In that interview, he addressed the booing of openly gay soldier Stephen Hill, condemning the act and the people that did it:
I condemn the people who booed that gay soldier. That soldier is serving our country. I thank him for his service to our country. I'm sure he is doing an excellent job. I hope he is safe. I hope he returns safely, and does his mission well. I have to admit I seriously did not hear those boos. Had I heard them, I certainly would have commented on them.

I kind of think his condemnation is a bit contradictory to the issues he stands for.  If that soldier is doing an excellent job and is worth thanking for his service, why should he not be allowed to serve?  Isn't the act of coming out, according to Santorum, in of itself destructive to the military mission?  This only serves to illustrate the fallacies of his argument.

And, Rick?  I suggest you get a hearing aid.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"If I Get Back Alive"

This touched me a little bit, and is a sweet response to some of the ridiculous hatred we saw on the GOP debate tonight.

Video: Santorum's Remarks On DADT

Video from tonight's GOP debate in which Santorum threatens to reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell and, well, incurs the wrath of myself and my readers (video includes audience booing):

If you want to tell Rick Santorum that his remarks were wrong, click here and sign this petition.  Thus far we've dumped 200 e-mails in his campaign headquarters' inbox.  Let's make it 2,000.

Thanks to reader Brad C. and ThinkProgress for video.

GOP Debate: Gay Soldier Snubbed By Crowd, GOProud Shames Santorum

If you were watching tonight's Fox News/Google GOP debate, MAN OH MAN what a circus.  Rick Perry thinks Herman Cain and Newt should mate, Michele Bachmann blames all the problems of the economy on Obamacare, and John Huntsman thinks Romney and Perry should fight to the death, gladiator style.

The part that stuck in many gay advocates minds, however, was the moment when a gay soldier, Stephen Hill, who bravely showed his face just two days after the repeal of DADT in a video asking Rick Santorum if he would reinstate the discriminatory policy.

Before Santorum even answered the question, the teabaggers in the audience booed Hill, presumably because he is gay.  So now the Tea Party hates soldiers and boos them on live TV?

Of course, he answered that he would reinstate DADT.  When pressed as to whether Hill would be allowed to remain in the military, he panicked, stuttered, and insisted that Hill wouldn't be discharged.  We'll see what Focus on the Family has to say about that...

GOProud, the gay Republican group, has already responded.  Chris Barron, who I've often lambasted on here for what I view to be his PR-nightmare inducing Tweets and public statements, published on GOProud's site that Santorum must immediately apologize to Stephen Hill and all gay soldiers:
“Tonight, Rick Santorum disrespected our brave men and women in uniform, and he owes Stephen Hill, the gay soldier who asked him the question about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, an immediate apology. 
“That brave gay soldier is doing something Rick Santorum has never done – put his life on the line to defend our freedoms and our way of life. It is telling that Rick Santorum is so blinded by his anti-gay bigotry that he couldn’t even bring himself to thank that gay soldier for his service. 
“Stephen Hill is serving our country in Iraq, fighting a war Senator Santorum says he supports. How can Senator Santorum claim to support this war if he doesn’t support the brave men and women who are fighting it?”
I agree with Chris Barron, something I never thought I'd say.  So I formed a Change.Org petition, which you can sign if you click here, demanding that Rick Santorum apologize to Stephen Hill and gay soldiers everywhere for his remarks.

The Protest CNN Doesn't Want You To Know About

A couple Fridays ago I reported on a group which was planning on occupying Wall Street in an effort to draw attention to the fiscal inequalities perpetrated on the American people due to the greed and malfeasance of corporate executives and their agendas.  I wondered at the time if it would be effective, not because it wouldn't be a great idea but because I was unsure that their protest could catch attention in the US.

I wasn't that far off.  We are now in the sixth day of the occupation of Wall Street, with hundreds participating, and there has been little to no coverage of the event in mainstream news outlets.  

Seriously, I Googled the term "Wall Street Occupation" with the words "New York Times," "MSNBC," and "CNN" and all I got was an iReport that has not been vetted nor approved by CNN.  The fact that the New York Times isn't reporting on this protest is bizarre and absurd.  

Until, of course, you consider that the protest is against the corporate interference in American fiscal interests and that the New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC are all large, corporate funded news outlets.  

Even more insane is the fact that you couldn't, for a while even e-mail your friends stories about the Wall Street protest if you use Yahoo!.  That's correct.  Their e-mail service was automatically and actively preventing this story from disseminating.  This is nothing short of censorship on the scale of China's news blackout of the Cairo uprising.  They eventually issued an apology and said they would work on the issue, but I'm not convinced this was a mistake.

This is now an arrestable offense in NYC.

People are getting arrested at the protest, of course.  Even though they are peacefully demonstrating as is  their right, protesters were arrested under a statute that is over a century old-- one preventing people from wearing masks.  That's right.  If you appear on Wall Street wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, you run the risk of being arrested.  

ThinkProgress has great coverage of the Wall Street protest, so click on over to monitor.  Event organizers are also requesting food assistance from sympathetic donors, so if you would like to support their efforts, click here.  And if you live in NYC?  Get your ass down there.

UPDATE:  Reader Neska L. points out that CNN HAS in fact covered the story, with a brief video, found below:

Of course, they make snide comments that organizing publication AdBusters is only found in super-granola Whole Foods and the majority of the story seemed to be about the inconvenience the protest is bringing to the thoroughfare.  Of course, this short video falls vastly short of the coverage afforded the Yemen protests on CNN.

Also, Sex Shouldn't Involve Guns. Just Sayin'

This goes out to all the overly kinky folk who read my crap online publication:

Ding Dong, The Witch Is... Resigning

The news broke today that one of the foremost visible opponents in the fight for LGBT equality, Maggie Gallagher, is stepping down as chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage, the secretive yet outspoken group credited with the passage of Proposition 8 in California and defeating marriage equality in the state of Maine.

*cue applause*

She is slated to be replaced by John Eastman, a professor of law who has participated in numerous high-profile cases addressing social issues, to include the Boy Scouts controversy over their anti-gay policies.  From NOM blog:
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced today that John Eastman, a distinguished Constitutional law scholar, is taking on the role of Chairman of the Board for NOM. 
Dr. John Eastman is the former Dean of Chapman University Law School in California and is the Founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, a public interest law firm associated with the Claremont Institute. He has participated in over 50 cases in our nation’s highest courts, including such landmark cases as the Pledge of Allegiance case, the Boy Scouts of America case, the Ohio school vouchers case, the Kelo case involving property takings, and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act case. Dr. Eastman is a former clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He received his J.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in government and political philosophy from Claremont Graduate School. 
Brian Brown, President of NOM, stated, “John Eastman is one of America’s foremost constitutional scholars and has distinguished himself as a fierce advocate for families and religious liberty. As a legal scholar, he has participated in dozens of cases before our nation’s highest courts, including the United States Supreme Court. When important constitutional principles are on the line, people frequently turn to John Eastman to advocate a conservative, pro-family position. He will be a great asset to NOM.”
LezGetReal notes that John Eastman was a failed candidate for California's Attorney General, something not lost on many liberal readers assessing the situation.  With Maggie's tenure as chairwoman being characterized as combative and negative to her cause, has NOM picked a loser to replace a loser?  Only time will tell.  

Maggie says she will continue on NOM's board and will continue to be involved in the fight against marriage equality, but one has to wonder... did she just get tired of being lambasted for her idiosyncrasies?  She recently attended Dustin Lance Black's star-studded staged reproduction of the Proposition 8 trial, in which her involvement in the case and the press storm surrounding it was scripted with her laughable and oh-so familiar tactics of "bulldoze the opposition."  It drew laughs from the crowd, and one has to wonder if maybe this signified that it was time for Gallagher to go?

Whatever the reason, she's going, and good riddance.  I can only hope that with her departure as their chairwoman and spokesperson NOM will hasten its slide into irrelevance.  

How Troy Davis Changed My Mind

I have long hemmed and hawed over the death penalty.  Everyone who reads this blog knows that I am, without a doubt, one of the most liberal people you could possibly know.  I support a woman's right to choose in regards to both abortion and her right to dress anyway she wants without fear of rape, I support full equality for LGBT citizens, and I stand firm in the idea that America became great because of immigrants and will continue to become great by allowing foreign nationals to become Americans.  I think unions are the backbone of our workforce, and I think social programs are necessary for the continued functioning of a free society.

The death penalty, however, is something I've never really decided on.  It seemed to be a big black mark on my progressive "resume."  You see, I have long felt that there are people who just deserved to die.

It is true that there are people who commit despicable, heinous crimes.  Many of these criminals most likely had nothing left to contribute to society aside from lasting harm, death, and horror.  The death penalty, I thought, provides a solution to the Jeffrey Dahmers, Charles Mansons, and John Wayne Gacys of the world.  These people were irredeemable and seemed not only a drain on our nation's resources, but a genuine danger to its citizenry.  Should they not be put to death?

Troy Davis changed that for me.

If you haven't heard of Troy Davis by now, you likely live under a rock.  His story, marked with tragedy and heartbreak, is a long one I won't repeat in full here, save for some few salient points.

He was first arrested in 1989 for the shooting of an off-duty police officer, Mark MacPhail, in the idyllic city of Savannah, Georgia.  He was given what many called a fair trial, though it seemed marked by inconsistencies.  Evidence was barred due to alleged police brutality in its gathering, conflicting testimony was given, and a lack of murder weapon seemed to throw the proceedings into doubt.  However, it took a jury of his peers only two hours to decide his guilt and an additional seven to sentence him to death.

He maintained his innocence the entire time.

His conviction started a long-drawn out saga that stretched decades.  He, of course, appealed his sentence numerous times on numerous terms.  All of his appeals were denied, and he was scheduled for death.

His first execution date was set for July of 2007.  At the last minute, a stay of execution was ordered, as there had been several key witnesses who recanted their testimony, stating that they did not believe Davis committed the crime for which he was convicted.  All of these recantations and considerations were discarded, clemency was denied by the state of Georgia, and Troy Davis was scheduled to be executed in September of 2008.  Once again, just two hours before he was due to be put to death, a stay of execution was ordered in order to examine pertinent facts.

Those pertinent facts, however, weren't deemed pertinent enough, and his third execution date was for October 2008.  Once again death was averted, as his lawyers won a third stay in order to examine further documents proving his innocence.  The evidence was barred, as the judge ruled that recantations that late in the game were highly suspicious.

And so on and so on.  For years Davis was brought to the brink of death and snatched back, a traumatic process that many exclaimed was cruel and unusual.  The case went to the Supreme Court and back, with Justices Scalia and Thomas declaring that Davis' claim of innocence was "a sure loser."  The court case dragged on and on, with the defense repeatedly attempting to have evidence examined that could exonerate Davis and the State dismissing it out of hand.

He maintained his innocence the entire time.

His fourth execution date was September 21st, 2011.  He once again sought clemency and was denied.  He once again waited to die.  The White House refused to intervene and he filed a petition for the US Supreme Court to hear his case.  This gave him scant few extra hours as his execution on the 21st was delayed, waiting to hear whether the highest court in the land would deign to sit for the case.

It refused.  At 11:08 on September 21st, Troy Davis was put to death.  Witnesses to his execution reported that his last words were simple appeals maintaining his innocence, one last time.  He then prayed to God that He would bless his executioners.  He was injected with a fatal dose of drugs, he yawned, and then he died.

Troy Davis has changed my mind.  This is... more than a disappointment in our judicial system.  It is a genuine, tragic, and murderous failure of Justice.  It is one of the cornerstone tenets of our court system that we cannot put a man to death unless we are sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is guilty.  His guilt, while asserted as fact by that first jury, countless judges, and the Chatham County prosecutor, was called into question dozens of times in the last twenty years.

He maintained his innocence to the last, and the evidence piled up, sky-high, indicating that he actually might be.  It was disregarded and he was executed, and I have unease.  I believe we may have executed an innocent man.  That is unacceptable.

How is it that his evidence, over and over again, was discarded as irrelevant?  I can't help but think that the people who put him to death through their refusal to hear his story are now guilty of the worst sort of callousness.  Perhaps, after so many stays and so many delays, they just looked at this human being and said "Oh, kill him already.  He's wasting our time."

Is this bloodlust?  Or just a lack of concern for the life of one man?

That is why I now can firmly say that I am against the death penalty.  Do I think some people deserve to die?  Yes.  I do.  I think some people's crimes are heinous enough that they should no longer be on planet Earth.  Do I think our system is perfect enough to judge whether or not a person should die?  No.  No way.  Clearly, miscarriages of justice can and will occur.  Our methods of prosecuting criminals are imperfect, and when the lives of men and women are at stake we cannot use imperfect means to consider their deaths.

Troy Davis maintained his innocence to his last minutes, and we didn't listen.  He asked God to forgive us that sin, but we are as yet unabsolved.  The only way that we, as a society, can excise this stain on our collective conscience is to ensure that this does not happen again.  In order to safeguard the lives of the innocent, we must cease to slay the guilty, or Troy Davis' last words, asking God to bless us, his executioners, may fall on deaf ears.

While I've been Out

I took a few days off, and some pretty explosive stories happened during those few days sure to enrage many of my readers.  Sorry I haven't been covering them.  I have been getting my school situation squared away as well as doing a lot of thinking about the repeal of DADT and how it affects my life and writing.  This means that some of the things I'll be putting up in the next few days you may already know about, so I will attempt to keep reiteration of obvious facts brief.  However, these are developing stories that have affected myself and many of you, and I would be remiss in not including them in the content on this blog, so bear with me as I jump into many of these crazy happenings mid-story.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

OneAngryAlly: The Heartbeat Bill Keeps on Pumping

What a wonderful week this has been! I rejoiced as DADT finally ended, college students continue to express reverence for soldiers missing in the line of duty, and Oregon won't be playing Texas in football anytime soon. Not all news this week, however, was worth rejoicing.

On the same day that surely saw countless celebrations of our equal freedoms finally progressing forward, in Columbus, Ohio, there was another sort of mass gathering. Yesterday, several hundred pro-lifers gathered at the Ohio Statehouse to demonstrate in support of HB 125. Nicknamed the "heartbeat bill," this piece of legislation would give Ohio one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country; approved by the Ohio House in June, it's awaiting Senate approval.

Apparently this is as crazy as those anti-abortion activists get.

The bill would outlaw any abortions after a heartbeat could be detected. This usually happens by 6-7 weeks, and as early as 22 days after conception. At this point, many women are indeed fortunate enough to know that they are pregnant, to have surveyed their options, and to be ready to choose abortion. However, for many, many women this is not the case. This law would effectively ban abortions in the state of Ohio, and it is so extreme that even the Ohio Right to Life group (which exists mainly to support pro-life legislation) opposes the bill.

Other pro-lifers are not so wise, querying (this is my favorite), "How many wonderful Americans are not on this earth because of abortion?" Yeah. Because our biggest problem these days is underpopulation.

That this bill could pass in the state of Ohio alarms and offends me; I am comforted only by the knowledge that it is unconstitutional, going against Roe v. Wade, and would ultimately not stand up in court. Nonetheless, I wrote my state Senator Troy Balderson (who was appointed a few months ago - the senator he replaced turned his back on the working-class families in his district, advocating and voting for a major anti-union bill before magically remarkably getting a job as a lobbyist for a coal-related company. Just another day in the life in Ohio....):
"HB 125 is an assault of the most egregious sort on women's health in the state of Ohio. This bill allows women no control over their own bodies; this assumption of women's decision-making capabilities is downright offensive in this day and age. What would you do if it were your daughter or sister who found themselves with a pregnancy at a time where they would have been absolutely unable to care for the child?

This bill could ban abortions as early as three weeks into a pregnancy
- a time where even the healthiest, wealthiest women rarely know they
are pregnant. It essentially outlaws abortion, giving Ohio one of the
strictest anti-choice laws in the nation. Do you want that on your

As you try to balance the state budget, think about how much more
difficult it will become as you have to educate, feed, and clothe these
offspring of what will surely be Ohio's newest baby boom.

You were appointed to serve in the Ohio senate to represent the wishes
of your constituency. Please abide by that promise, and show us that
the 20th District can yet again be proud of its senator who, regardless
of party lines, respects the demographic from which he hails."
Are you from Ohio? Email or call your senator and ask him or her to respect women's rights, and the constitution! Ah, there's nothing sexier than a man or lady who respects my anatomy, autonomy, and America!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DADT Ends, Ian Takes A Day Off

Today, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is history.  Clearly this has been a long time coming and something I've been working for for a long time, and so I'm going to treat myself to a day off from blogging.  I'm sure I'll master my emotions by tomorrow and have loads of things to bitch about at that time (to include the second-class status of gay military personnel).  See you tomorrow!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Army Sez: Repeal Is Here, Suck It Up And Drive On

The Secretary of the Army, Army Chief of Staff, and Sergeant Major of the Army have now released a letter officially announcing the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.  I especially like the part where they remind possible dissenters about orderly conduct and the core values of the largest component of our defense.

"At the heart of our success is adherence to the Army Values.  These standards not only infuse every facet of our culture and operations, but also guide us as we adapt to change.  Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage are not mere words to us-- they are the very principles by which we live, train, and fight. 
"Accordingly, we expect all personnel to follow our Values by implementing the repeal fully, fairly, and in accordance with policy guidance.  It is the duty of all personnel to treat each other with dignity and respect, while maintaining good order and discipline throughout our ranks.  Doing so will help the U.S. Army remain the Strength of the Nation."
I have to admit, having been in the Army myself, this de facto explanation of the core values and duties each soldier must cleave to, regardless of their ideas of who is acceptable to have sex with, was a bit stirring.  Serving in the military is about duty, not about your personal agenda.

Countdown To DADT Repeal: Day 1

Today is the last day of DADT's existence.

Michael Bedwell, from whom I've been blatantly stealing content over the past five days, reminds us today of a different sort of veteran than one we normally associate with the struggle for LGBT equality in the armed services.

Dusty Pruitt's story in many ways is remarkable.  Coming to terms with her homosexuality later than we consider commonplace today, she did not realize she was a lesbian until she had already gained a commission in the US Army as a 2nd Lieutenant.  Like many of us, she came from a religious background, but unlike so many in our community, her sexual orientation did not detract from her spiritual pursuits.  While still in the Army, Pruitt became familiar with the Metropolitan Community Church, an LGBT-oriented Christian church dedicated to furthering the case of equality.  Also during her military service, she joined an MCC in Forth Worth, TX as a charter member, a brave decision for a commissioned officer at that time.  She eventually became a minister to that church.

This was a secret... at first.  Michael writes:
After a "Los Angeles Times" reporter violated her request that she not reveal she was an MCC minister AND in the Army Reserve, Dusty Pruitt was kicked out in 1983 but eventually won a 12-yr. court battle for full reinstatement. Now pastoring a United Church of Christ congregation, she once expressed concern about how many years it would take after the ban was lifted for homophobia in the ranks to end.
While the battle for the right to serve appears to have been won (for cisgender servicemembers, at least), I, too, wonder how long it will be for homophobia in the ranks to evaporate.  I myself was exposed to very limited amounts of homophobia other than my official discharge.  I was a translator surrounded by translators with a high level of education, and the idea of discriminating against me due to my sexual orientation was almost laughable.

However, it exists.  One only has to peruse the comments of a recent Military Times article to see the virulently homophobic sentiment that still exists in the rank and file (yes, you'll see my comments in there, somewhere, and I'm pretty PO'd).  Does this illustrate that the fight for full equality, not just legislatively but in the hearts and minds of the people, is a lost cause?

No.  Just as I feel that with renewed efforts our trans battle buddies will be able to serve openly without repercussions, I feel even stronger about the notion that when our children grow up and serve in the military (should they choose to do so) it will be without any iota of bias towards their sexual orientation.

After all, not only did Dusty Pruitt challenge modern ideas of faith and how sexuality can be cherished within one's church, she challenged the military's ban and was reinstated in full in the military.  It's remarkable, and it appears to be against all odds.  If Pruitt, now Reverend Pruitt, can find bridge so many divides just within one woman, how can the greatest military on Earth not do the same?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Today In Creepy Asshole Weirdoes

Televangelist John Hagee below, warning his flock about the dangers of secular humanism.  Is he really comparing rape crisis centers and shelters for battered women to single's bars and penitentiaries?  Plus: I've tried the magic spells in Harry Potter (oooooh, some days I want to Expelliarmus the hell out of Adam) and sorry, they don't work.  No danger of teaching your children witchcraft there.

Joe Jervis of Joe. My. God. reminds us that John Hagee is the dude who blamed Katrina on the gays and has called for a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Iran.

Time Lapse: Circling The Globe

This mesmerizing video, taken from the International Space Station, is footage of planet Earth taken at night as the ISS circles the globe.  It's pretty amazing.

Countdown To DADT Repeal: Day 2

Tomorrow is the last day of DADT's existence, and Michael Bedwell, historian extraordinaire, reminds us of some of the more dire times in our nation's legacy of gay military service: the queer stockades.  When soldiers were outed as gay or lesbian during the WWII era, prior to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, they were subject to horrific abuses at the hands of military personnel.  Quartered in separate living conditions, they were treated as pariahs and basically were denied their humanity.

Michael adds:
Many abuses continued after the WWII ban became DADT, but they were rarely as bad as the earlier open air "Queer Stockades" like the enclosure in the top picture or the mental wards as in the second actual photo. Gays were often marched through gauntlets of ridicule, sometimes raped by MPs, and sometimes attempted or succeeded at suicide. In the 80s, locking them in closets for hours until they named names became the "funny" method of choice. 
While some in the medical profession urged even acceptance of gay soldiers as far back as WWII, the "they're not just sick but evil" mindset prevailed, and the depth of today's homophobia can be largely traced to the homophobic lectures troops received either during the war or in the years following, after a brief period of more benign attitudes. It reached its worst post war phase during the Reagan Administration when homophobia combined with AIDSphobia resulting in multiple horror stories about the treatment of those living either with HIV or with actual AIDS.
In a separate post on his Facebook, however, Michael links some of that culture of despair and suicide with one of our happier triumphs as a community: the adoption of a common symbol that links us all as one people in all our diversity.

Gilbert Baker, as a result of being rejected by his first love while in the military between 1970 and 1972, compounded with the homophobia he experienced while in the Army, attempted suicide... but survived.  He received an honorable discharge from the military, but afterwards became active in the gay and anti-war activism movements.  What did he bring to the table?  Creativity... and the ability to sew.

Eight years after his suicide attempt, he created the Rainbow Flag, the symbol for LGBTs the world over.  Since its creation, it has been reproduced thousands of times in a hundred different permutations, and is the most widely-known representation of our community.

Once, while I was serving in the United States Army at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, myself and three other soldiers took a trip to San Francisco.  We went to the Castro, of course, being the young gay kids that we were, and our first sight of this mecca of gayhood was the massive Castro Rainbow Flag, on the corner of Castro, Market, and 17th.

We weren't in uniform, but we decided to honor our community in the best way that a soldier knows: I stood at attention, called my battle buddies into formation, and ordered "Present ARMS!"  We saluted that flag, and I like to think we brought that flag's history full circle; born out of a tragic experience of shame and homophobia in the military, the flag has come to stand for hope and renewal, an honoring of the ties that bind our diverse community together.  An ex-soldier with emotional scars set aside his pain and created a symbol, and we, as modern soldiers, honored that symbol and the warriors that have carried it in intervening years.

Perhaps these simple (and sometimes horrific) stories are the ones that really express what the struggle for acceptance for gays in the military has meant all these years:  tragedy, renewal, and rising in the face of the adversities brought to us through institutionalized discrimination in order to plant our flag and say:

We're gay.  Get over it.

Westboro Baptist Church Counter-Protested By AIDS Denialists

The Foo Fighters had a concert on the 30th in Kansas City, MO, but received some unwelcome attendance from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, who naturally showed up with their usual "God Hates Fags" schtick. The band, to their credit, responded by coming out of their trailer and serenading America's least favorite church with "Keep It Clean," including one lyric:
I've got a hankering for something, think I'm in the mood for some hot man-muffins.


Towleroad, however, reminds us that the Foo Fighters are no stranger to dangerous propaganda that affects the gay community. This particular musical group has notably supported the theory of AIDS denialism, a movement which nonsensically denies that HIV has any connection whatsoever to AIDS. In fact, Mother Jones reported in 2000 that the Foo Fighters had a benefit concert for Alive and Well, an organization that urges people to forgo HIV testing and drug treatment:
The multimillion-album-selling alternative rock outfit has thrown its weight behind Alive and Well, an "alternative AIDS information group" that denies any link between HIV and AIDS. In January, Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel helped organize a sold-out concert in Hollywood to benefit the group. Foo fans were treated to a speech by Alive and Well founder Christine Maggiore, who believes AIDS may be caused by HIV-related medications, anal sex, stress, and drug use, and implies that people should not get tested for HIV nor take medications to counter the virus. Free copies of Maggiore's self-published book, "What If Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong?," in which she declares "there is no proof that HIV causes AIDS," were also passed out to the concert-goers.
While the Foo Fighters' hearts were in the right place with WBC, one wonders when Nate Mendel and crew will address this dangerous misinformation that they have espoused? Who knows how many people living with HIV attended that concert and are now dead from refusal to take their meds?

While Alive and Well is no longer listed as one of the group's pet causes on their website, if Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters want to be seen as role models for heterosexual allies of the LGBT movement, they should repudiate this dangerous and factually incorrect vision of HIV/AIDS.

SLDN Celebrates Repeal Without Radical Activists

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network created a short video celebrating the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell by recounting key discussions, landmark court cases, and the efforts of advocates to end DADT on Capitol Hill.

While this video is nice and all, to me it sort of highlights the divides between the gay advocacy and activism movements.  While we both have the same goals, radical activists (the ones who choose to express outrage through civil disobedience) tend to be snubbed by advocates who regard their stunts as childish while activists lean towards viewing Capitol Hill advocates as milquetoast fundraisers who avoid rocking the boat.

Why is Dan Choi-- the most recent and arguably most powerful face of DADT-- absent from this video? While GetEQUAL is thanked at the end of the video, why are they not pictured?  Many may think I'm being whiny, but I believe that DADT was repealed because of efforts both from paid advocates and volunteer activists.  Aubrey Sarvis certainly helped pass repeal, but in order to present a complete picture of the story of repeal these other elements are necessary.  

Whatever.  It's a fine video.  I hope as the movement progresses further in order to afford the same freedoms LGBs are achieving in the military for our transgender comrades in arms, the divide between advocates and activists can be bridged.  I'm not particularly holding my breath, though.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

DADT Repeal Countdown: Day 3

Today's historical reminder in the fight for gays in the military takes us back 35 years as of this month, to the remarkable story and struggle of Staff Sergeant Robert LeBlanc, a decorated Vietnam war vet who served the Marines with such bravery and excellence that that he received a Navy Commendation Medal for his brave actions:

This American hero, however, had to fight, after his 17 years of service, to keep an honorable discharge after his men reported that he might be gay.

Michael Bedwell writes:
Administrative discharge boards had voted twice to retain him when no evidence was submitted that he was gay other than claims by men LeBlanc had disciplined as a narcotics enforcement officer with the MPs. When asked directly if he was gay, LeBlanc told his superiors and the boards, “You have no right to ask the question!”—the kind of response the military does not like to hear. Despite all of Robert's medals, despite his repeatedly risking his life for his country and his fellow Marines, despite his having "upheld the finest traditions of the Corps," Gen. Louis H. Wilson, then-Commandant of the Marines, insisted that the accusations alone were adequate proof he was unsuitable, and ordered him discharged with the less-than-honorable designation which limits the kind of benefits a veteran can receive—most importantly, access to Veteran's Administration medical care. The local MCC organized a then-rare-military-related protest of his treatment outside the gates of Marine Barracks, Terminal Island, Long Beach, California.
Robert LeBlanc fought his less-than-honorable designation until Anthony Kennedy, who now serves on the Supreme Court, ordered the Marines to either give him his honorable discharge or retain him until the matter could be brought to trial.  The Marines chose to discharge him honorably rather than keep him in the military.

General Wilson, as a result of the court case, had this to say to People Magazine:
“If we discover a man is a homosexual we'll discharge him, because it's simply a morale factor that we can't have. If laws are passed that allow homosexuals in, then we'll negotiate.”
Unfortunately for the General Wilsons of today, when laws are passed, there is no negotiation.  The military does what it is told to do.  Holding the rights of soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen hostage through disobedience of lawful directives simply isn't an option.  That doesn't keep some lawmakers, however, from attempting to stall DADT repeal by requesting additional study on the issue just days before repeal is to happen:
Today, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) released the following statement in response to a letter issued by House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) asking for a delay of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal, set for September 20, 2011: 
“This is another example of the hardcore opposition attempting to delay or undo ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal. I expect they will continue to look for openings to deny gay and lesbian service members the same rights and dignity as their straight counterparts,” said Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis. “On the substance, Mr. McKeon and Mr. Wilson are simply wrong. The statute only requires that the new regulations be prepared – not issued – before certification.”
I have never been happier to say:  Too late, guys.  It's happening on midnight, September 20th.  Even though some crackpot politicians have hinted at reinstating DADT, I highly doubt it will happen.  I look forward to the day that every LGB, and yes, T, soldier doesn't have to fear the sort of scrutiny and dishonorable treatment Robert LeBlanc was subjected to so long ago.  Because much like his court victory 35 years ago this month, we're winning, and complete victory can't be that far away.

Michele Bachmann Isn't Just Dumb, She Makes Bad Jokes Too

Around the 00:30 mark, Bachmann, during her appearance on Leno, tries to explain away the reparative therapy scandal surrounding her Christian counseling clinics by asserting that when asked about it, she misheard "pray the gay away" as "pray the gray away."  Uh, the joke... falls flat.

She also seemed to confuse her beliefs and convictions with a criminal conviction.  Which, in my mind, isn't too far off:
“If you become president — and you seem pretty strident in your views…,” Jay Leno said, before Bachmann interrupted him. 
“Convicted. I’m convicted,” she said. 
“Convicted?” Leno replied. “No, you don’t get convicted until after you’re in office. That’s later. You have to get elected first.”

Because We ALL Just Want To Live Long And Prosper

Thanks to reader Matthew C.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ian Awesome And The 2011 Seattle AIDS Walk

So I'm participating in this year's AIDS Walk here in Seattle.  Basically, it is a 5k walk or run that, should you sponsor me, will raise money for a local charitable organization called Lifelong AIDS Alliance.  Lifelong provides essential services (to include social work and food benefits) to people living with HIV/AIDS in King County.  I have made use of their services before and most likely will again, so please give generously to this very worthy organization.  Click here!  You can make a one-time donation for as little (or as much!) as you want.  Do it!

DADT Repeal Countdown: Day 4

Michael passed along this historical curio this morning, a newspaper clip reporting on Leonard Matlovich's court case.  When Leonard came out, he sued the government for a wrongful discharge, and though he ultimately was not successful, his court case laid the groundwork for the ensuing decades of struggle for LGBT equality in the military.

Michael adds:
On September 16th, 1975, the Administrative Discharge Board Hearing for TSgt. Leonard Matlovich resulting from his having purposely outed himself that March began at Langley Air Force Base. Two "prosecution" witnesses upset the hearing when they said they'd eagerly work with him again and two board members were dismissed after saying the prosecutor was doing a bad job.
It's odd the parallels that military LGBT people are facing today in the court-- Dan Choi's recent ongoing criminal trial related to our arrest in November also includes farcical elements, to include a prosecutor refusing to use Dan's rank and referring to him as "Mister Choi" in order to denigrate the defendant.  Will such selective treatment of gay servicemembers end in four days?  Only time will tell.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

DADT Repeal Countdown: Day 5

Michael Bedwell, a tireless and stalwart activist who has worked to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military openly, wanted to remind many of us in the days leading to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell of the history of the struggle that so many of us have worked in.  Bedwell is the webmaster of and also was arrested with me in Washington DC.

One piece of that history is, of course, the legendary Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, the father of the American LGBT military movement.  Matlovich was the first gay man to ever come out while in the US military, an action that catapulted him into the national spotlight and began the long road which, for many, will be resolved in five days.

This gem is a video excerpt that Michael passed me of a made-for-TV movie documenting Matlovich's court case in which he sued to stay in the military.  He was unsuccessful, but the case was the first shot fired in a long, tireless war against government-sanctioned bigotry.

 Michael included these comments:

17 years before their film on Grete Cammermeyer, NBC broadcast this made-for-TV movie [the 1st about a living gay person]. While all concerned [including Rue McClanahan as his Mother] were well-intentioned, Leonard's real-life charisma was missing behind the cartoonish moustache they gave Dourif. Still, America learned more than they had before about gays in the military—and that same day the DoD announced that those discharged could apply for upgrades to Honorable.
I wonder how Leonard would feel today, as repeal approaches.  Would he celebrate?  Or would he be stopping short of jubilation and remind us that our transgender brothers and sisters still do not have the freedoms we are about to attain?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thank God For Snooki

Okay, I think that Snooki is probably a space alien, but she at least got Anderson Cooper shirtless on his show, for which I say, "Thank you.  Thank you so much Snooki.  And thanks to whatever planet you come from."

Daniel Hernandez Running For Local School Board

Here's some good news!  Daniel Hernandez Jr, the openly gay campaign staffer that kept Gabi Giffords alive following the fatal attack on her supermarket event in Arizona this past January, has decided to run for the Governing Board of his local school district:

So go ahead to his website, found here, in order to support this hero of the LGBT community in his efforts.  Do it!

Ron "Let The Uninsured Die" Paul's 2008 Campaign Strategist Died Uninsured. Also, Here's A Drunk Guy.

Wolf Blitzer's cornering of Ron Paul on the rights of Americans in regards to health care has now become legendary: he asked, and Ron seemed to agree, whether society should let uninsured sick people just die.  While Ron's position on the matter seemed shocking, what was even more sickening and disappointing was the audience, who shouted "Yes!" and burst into applause.

The incident has had repercussions through the GOP, with a Huntsman staffer exclaiming that the incident made her "sick and sad" for the Republican Party, while Rick Perry admitted himself, after being raked over the coals for a few of his more liberal policies, that he was "taken aback" by the crowd's reaction.  

Ron Paul, who is a medical doctor, took what many feel is a callous stance, stating that it would be up to churches and charities to take care of people who don't have the appropriate insurance to deal with a life threatening illness.  Before he said that, unfortunately, he should have thought back to his own past, when his campaign chairman-- his uninsured campaign chairman-- died of pneumonia complications.  Because he was uninsured, Kent Snyder (who is widely credited with being the man who pushed Ron Paul to run in the first place), left his mother a whopping $400,000 medical bill, leading some to express shock that the campaign didn't have a health plan.
“I can’t believe he didn’t have health insurance,” said one political activist who read about Snyder’s unpaid medical bills in a story published last month in the Wall Street Journal. “I can’t believe that Ron Paul didn’t give him health insurance,” said the activist, who asked not to be identified.
As far as we know, charities have only covered a fraction of the cost of Snyder's hospitalization and subsequent death, leaving the rest to the responsibility of his family.

At least we can say he is consistent, as he didn't lift a finger to financially help the Snyder family.  However, one wonders-- if he's such a fan of private insurance companies, why didn't he have a private health plan for his campaign employees?

In much lighter Ron Paul news, this Paulitician was arrested for drunk driving and spent the whole time shouting "Ron Paul 2012 First Amendment!"  You have to give him this: he knows how to keep idiots on-message.

Blockbuster New Sarah Palin Book: Gossip Or Biography?

Joe McGinniss, a controversial American writer and novelist who has written New York Times bestsellers since the age of 26, has long been shadowed by accusations of plagiarism and sensationalism, but is returning yet again to the literary scene this year with a controversial topic: the secret life of Sarah Palin.

McGinniss made headlines during the writing of his tell-all, even going so far as to rent a home next door to the Palins, prompting them to put up a tall fence between the properties.

Now, the book is done, and some publications are hailing it as "explosive," as it details several shocking details about the Palins' private lives:
  • Former vice presidential candidate alleged to have snorted cocaine off an oil drum
  • Said to have had night of passion with basketball star
  • Husband Todd said to have dissolved snowmobile firm after discovering affair with business partner
  • Ex-governor of Alaska has yet to announce whether she will run for president next year
I would be more interested in the book if, say, Sarah purchased blow with state money and snorted it off an oil drum during a pipeline grand opening, but this is sure to cause waves within the political community, especially the one surrounding Mama Bear.  Will I read it?  Uh, maybe.  If someone else has a copy I can borrow.

Hey Look! This Rich White Elderly Person Is Fed Up!

When I'm 81, I plan on being a curmudgeonly old coot who yells at strange children and smacks my own with a cane.  I like that Clint Eastwood has a similar philosophy, as he recently spouted off to GQ how fed up he is with the modern GOP's stance on gay marriage:
I was an Eisenhower Republican when I started out at 21, because he promised to get us out of the Korean War. And over the years, I realized there was a Republican philosophy that I liked. And then they lost it. And libertarians had more of it. Because what I really believe is, let's spend a little more time leaving everybody alone. These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage? I don't give a fuck about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We're making a big deal out of things we shouldn't be making a deal out of.
They go on and on with all this bullshit about "sanctity"—don't give me that sanctity crap! Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.
Way to go, cranky old dude!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Attacker Sentenced To 5 Years In McDonald's Trans Assault

April 18th, a 19 year old woman attacked a transwoman in the restroom of a Baltimore area McDonald's in an incident that was captured on a cell camera by an employee and was posted online.  The attacker was sentenced today to 5 years in prison in the beating of Chrissy Lee Polis:
The video shows Teonna Monae Brown and a 14-year-old female, whom authorities have not identified, repeatedly punching and kicking Chrissy Lee Polis, 22, in the head and body while dragging her by her hair across the floor of the restaurant. 

Mark Scurti, Polis’s attorney, said Polis planned to attend the sentencing hearing on Tuesday but was unable to do so after experiencing recurring symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, for which she was diagnosed following the beating. 
Scurti said Polis checked herself into a crisis counseling facility last Friday, which has provided assistance to Polis since the incident occurred in April. 
“I continue to suffer seizures, bouts of crying, mental anguish and anxiety,” Polis said in a victim impact statement submitted to the judge prior to Tuesday’s sentencing. “I fear being alone. I have flashbacks about the attacks. I have twice now been admitted to a crisis center, and I am having extreme mental difficulty.”
While I am glad justice has been served, it breaks my heart to hear of the continued mental anxiety suffered on the part of Polis as a result of the attack.  OAQ wishes her well and hopes she has a speedy recovery.

Petition: Appoint An LGBT Youth Advisor

Caleb Laieski, a courageous young man who left school at the age of 16 in order to become a youth advocate for LGBT teens, has taken his crusade against bullying all the way to Congress.  When I first met Caleb, he was getting ready for the day to lobby Congresspeople for anti-bullying measures.

Now he's handing around an online petition urging the President to appoint an LGBT Youth Advisor at the White House in order to work on issues that specifically affect high-school age LGBTs:
Urge the Obama Administration to appoint a youth advisor to work with the administration on the everyday emotional and complex issues that LGBT youth face. 
In the past couple of years, our country has seen a tremendous swing in regards to the acceptance of minority groups, but research and statistics still show that LGBT youth are going through personal struggles both at school and at home. Some of these struggles consist of bullying, drug abuse, homelessness, isolation and even suicide. 
According to PFLAG, approximately 30% of gay and lesbian youth drop out of school due to hardships from physical and verbal abuse. This statistic is caused by the lack of support and intervention for LGBT students by teachers and school administrators. Additionally, the few teachers that would like to intervene often do not have the proper training on how to intervene in anti-LGBT bullying.
So click here and sign it!

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Are You Saying That Society Should Let Him Die?"

Ron Paul, during tonight's debate on CNN, suggesting that if someone doesn't have insurance due to the exorbitant cost of premiums, we should let them die if unforeseen medical catastrophes ensue:

The "YES!" and applause on Wolf Blitzer's shocked question turns my stomach.

UPDATE:  Alan Grayson, a congressman who famously said two years ago "Republicans want sick people to die quickly," had this to say to the Huffington Post:
My speech was about the fact I had been listening to the Republicans for months, and they literally had no plan to help all those millions of people who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick. So I said, in sort of a wry manner, that their plan was "don’t get sick." All I really wanted to do was just call attention to the stark absence of a Republican plan. But Fox, trying to take the heat off Joe Wilson and Sarah Palin I guess, transmogrified that into a charge that Republicans want to kill people. 
What you saw tonight is something much more sinister than not having a healthcare plan. It's sadism, pure and simple. It's the same impulse that led people in the Coliseum to cheer when the lions ate the Christians. And that seems to be where we are heading -- bread and circuses, without the bread. The world that Hobbes wrote about -- "the war of all against all."
I agree, it seems that this farce is quickly devolving into nothing more than a circus without substance.


I am astounded by some people's ability to make the worst decisions possible.

Mike Harmon, for instance!

The Kentucky House Committee has overwhelmingly approved HB 370, a bill which would prohibit any and all bullying on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or religion.  That's great, right?

Not everyone thinks so.  Harmon, a religious Republican lawmaker in that state, wants to amend the bill before it is brought to a vote making provisions that allow children to condemn another student's sexual orientation as sinful in order to protect Christian students' right to be true to their religion.  In essence, he wants Christian kids to be able to bully, thus invalidating the entire scope of the bill.

 Not only would he want to allow continued bullying against gay students, but he also wants an amendment permitting the carrying of concealed firearms on school campuses.  What could go wrong?

The Free Market At Work: Bank Of America To Cut 30,000 Jobs In Upcoming Years

At a time when Americans are desperate for jobs, one of the top lenders in the country has decided to bolster their boom profits by firing 30,000 people in the next few years in cost-saving measures:
The reductions, equal to about 10 percent of the firm’s workforce, are part of the first phase of an overhaul that aims to remove about $5 billion in annual costs by the end of 2013. Moynihan’s plan, dubbed Project New BAC, included a management shakeup last week that elevated Thomas K. Montag and David Darnell to co-chief operating officers and left Sallie Krawcheck and Joe Price without jobs.

“We don’t have to be the biggest company out there, we have to be the best,” Moynihan, 51, said today at an investor conference in New York. “We can get out of things we don’t need to do, make the company leaner, more straightforward, more driven.”
I find this not just horribly sad but ridiculously ironic.  Keep in mind of course, that Bank of America didn't pay a red cent last year in taxes and reported boom profits for the fiscal year.  This news may surprise you, but don't let it.  These sorts of tax cuts, ensuring that wealthy corporations don't contribute to social programs, are the cornerstone of the modern GOP.

Here's the kicker, though... those tax cuts that Republicans are so dead-set on protecting?  Are supposedly there to create jobs.  The Reagonomically-inspired party line is that if a company saves money on taxes, they will put that money towards growth of the workforce and hire more people.  The fallacy of this argument, of course, is that corporate America is not concerned with putting people to work, but instead dedicated to making more money.

So tell me, GOP, is your plan working?