Saturday, April 30, 2005

Gannguckerton on Real Time

by Shakespeare's Sister

Crooks and Liars has the video up of Jeff Gannon on Real Time with Bill Maher.

They note, “Pretty tame questioning for Bill after he has lambasted Jimmy/Jeff in the past.,” and I agree. It was pretty tame. Better than most, though. Still, I’d love it if one single stinking interviewer would respond to Gannon’s boilerplate reply about his past as a rentboy—“Those allegations aren’t relevant”—with the obvious follow-up question, “But aren’t they true?” It’s not like his reply is unexpected; he answers the same way every time. Ditto to the follow-up to his assertion that this whole thing started because he asked a question “liberals didn’t like.” When will someone call his ass out on the fact that his question was not objectionable because of its blatant conservatism, but because it contained a blatant lie, attributing a quote to Harry Reid that was not accurate, but instead an imaginary concoction conjured by Rush Limbaugh? Given the opportunity, wouldn’t any of us be willing to ask the tough questions no interview will? Why are they so pathetic?

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Criminally Right

by STP

It often baffles me why the fascist element of our country is referred to as the "right;" they so rarely are. However, they have criminality down pat via their crimes against the people of this country, their crimes against God and their crimes against the world.

With that in mind, I wrote the poem, "Criminally Right." Go check it out.

Friday, April 29, 2005

NC County Commissioner has an unholy anal fixation

by Pam

Commissioners Jennifer Roberts and Park Helms want to bring Mecklenburg County into the 21st century by supporting anti-discrimination laws that include gays and lesbians and add domestic partner benefits. There's a battle ahead of them that includes combatting a level of ignorance that is not to be believed.

Holy sh*t (pun intended). When I posted a few days ago that members of the Mecklenburg County Commission said they would advocate for domestic partner benefits, Commissioners Park Helms and Jennifer Roberts expected a firestorm from the bible-beating, homo-hating Right. The county, which includes Charlotte, has a number of large companies in the area that do offer domestic partner benefits, but it hey didn't have to wait long to find out what the wingnuts thought of the county taking that action...

Bill James, a Repug (of course), is serving his third two-year term on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, representing District 6. This redneck bumf*ck is in desperate need of therapy, and I would add, a bit more literacy, sex ed and access to factual information. His obsession with real or perceived sex acts is, well, insane. Note the preoccupation with male sexuality...

Bill James - one of the ignorant faces of hate and bigotry in NC.

From: Commissioner Bill James
To: =emails deleted=
Sent: Friday, April 29, 2005 8:56 AM
Subject: Perversity is not diversity

You really think that a pool of people (homosexuals) where 45% of them eat feces from the rear end of another male is "normal"? If you do, you are frankly nuts.

A lifestyle where one of their past times is buying gerbils and hamsters from the pet store and cramming them up their rears in an activity called feltching? A group of people who like to urinate on their partners and call them "golden showers"? Where one of the honored members of the Gay Alliance is an organization called the "Man-Boy Love Association" that promotes sex with underage boys?

That behavior is worthy of protection? That behavior is worthy to be taught in our schools? to our children? You are one sick "Independent, white, married-heterosexual, presbyterian" if you do.

The stat's below are unimpeachable. I intend on talking about each and every one of these "behaviors" if this sorted subject comes up. I am lining up speakers including Doctors and Nurses to talk about these in gruesome detail. And these are the behaviors that Parks Helms wants to "insure"?

Attached is a wav file with a Charlotte news account of one of those "feltching" accounts gone wrong. I will play it from the BOCC dais if this comes up.

This attached account stars Robert D. Raiford in a real news account when he read the news from a local radio show in Charlotte . He now plays in County funded show "The Mecklenburgers".

This and more is summarized at the attached web page.

In a 1994 survey of 2,500 homosexual men in The Advocate (a national homosexual magazine). The results were published in the August 23, 1994 issue are as follows (warning again - this material is explicit):

Sex acts homosexual men say they love:

Insertive oral intercourse 72%
Receptive oral intercourse 71%
Insertive anal intercourse 46%
Receptive anal intercourse 43%
Receptive anilingus (tongue in the anus) 45%
Insertive anilingus 29%
Sex acts they engaged in (last five years):

Three-way sex 48%
Group sex (four or more) 24%
Bondage & discipline sex 20%
Use of nipple clamps 19%
Sadomasochism 10%
Where they met their "partners" (last five years):

Bar/disco 65%
Bathhouse, sex club 29%
Adult bookstore 27%
Park, bathroom 26%
Roadside rest area 15%
Most (57%) report having had more than 30 partners over their lifetime, and about a third (35%) report more than 100 partners.

About one quarter (26%) of HIV-positive men who have had insertive oral intercourse have had sex in another man’s mouth, most typically with someone they have just met.

Among men who have had insertive anal intercourse in the past year, 44% had sex with a partner without a condom. Among those who had receptive anal intercourse in the past year, 58% had a partner who had sex with them without a condom.

Among HIV-infected men who have had insertive anal intercourse in the past year, 19% had sex without wearing a condom. They most typically did this with long-term partners or with men with whom they had a purely sexual encounter rather than within the context of a relationship.

Anilingus (tongue on or in the anus) is fairly common:

41% have performed it in the past year, and 47% have received it.
When engaging in insertive and receptive anilingus, only 4% to 5%, respectively, have used dental dams to prevent the sinton led all Democrats with 388 points, followed by former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) with 192, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner with 166, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) with 125 and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) with 90.
George Allen?! Well, I had to do some research on this guy. (Does anyone know anything about him? Is he a former professional athlete or something?) We’ll get back to that in a moment.

A couple interesting points to note. The GOP top 5 slots eluded both Santorum and Jeb Bush, but not Frist. Huh. Also interesting is that Clinton is the first choice for Dems by a much larger margin, considering she’s actually a rather divisive figure among rank-and-file Dems. No real conclusions to be drawn, considering the results are from a fairly vaguely-defined source, but still worth noting.

Now, back to this George Allen character. He’s pretty much our basic nightmare.

He’s rated 20% by the ACLU, likely because of voting NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes (Jun 2002), YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping (Oct 2001), and supporting an anti-flag desecration amendment (Mar 2001).

On the upside (if you’re a wealthy Republican fucknut), he’s got a 100% approval rating from the US Chamber of Commerce and he supported the bankruptcy bill.

He supports trying juvenile felons as adults, tougher sentencing for drug crimes, allowing the FCC to approve larger media conglomerates, and requiring minor mothers to live at home and forcing them to identify their children’s fathers. He’s rated 100% by the Christian Coalition, but 0% by NARAL (abortion rights), APHA (public health advocacy), ARA (rights of seniors), and SANE (anti-war advocacy).

And those are pretty much his good attributes.

I haven’t even covered his stances on tax reform, energy and oil, free trade, government reform, healthcare, or poverty. If you’re interested, go here.

And I think you should be. George Allen: All of the wingnuttiness of Frist and Santorum, but none of the well-known baggage. Watch out.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Sic ’Em!

by Shakespeare's Sister

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) is my new hero.
[Bush] wants to dismantle a program [Social Security] that defines what the Democrats are proudest of. That’s what this is about. The Republicans—almost all of them—opposed Social Security when it was proposed by Franklin Roosevelt. Almost all of them opposed Medicaid. They voted against Medicare in 1965. So these are programs that provide a safety net for the poor and I think the Republicans basically resent the poor and they figure if we can get the poor investing in the stock market, maybe they’ll start thinking like Republicans. God help us.

Except for the religious fundamentalists, most of the hardcore Republicans have incomes over $90,000. I don’t think it’s the taxation system that bothers them, it’s the safety net. They believe in survival of the fullest. The people who are best off in this society are the ones who have been the beneficiaries of all of their policies. And now if they can get people to invest in—the more money you put into the stock market, the higher the average value, [the more] it accrues to the owners of our society. The people who have enough means to own stock, to own the means of production.

I think the Social Security thing is all about ideology. It’s certainly not about fiscal responsibility. If he wanted to get us excited about a crisis, he’d talk about healthcare, and how Medicare is actually going bankrupt, and how 45 million people don’t have health insurance.
Yowza! You tell ’em, Jimmy-boy! But here is the best part:
Raw Story: Do you really think the president is sheltered from those he’s pitching his plan to?

Moran: The only actual news that he reads is the sports section. All the national news, all the opinions that he gets have been filtered, and it goes to his daily briefing that has already been pre-screened to give him what he wants to read. He doesn’t read any books, and he doesn’t talk with people that don’t already agree with him. He’s surrounded himself with ideological sycophants. And the biggest ass-kisser of all is Dick Cheney.

Awesome. Well done, Mr. Moran. Big Brass Balls of the Day Award to you, my good fellow.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Go see the rest of this Microsoft-bashing cartoon

by Pam

This is just a snippet. From Bad Reporter in SF Gate by Don Asmussen

The Chimperor had no clothes

by Pam

Reuters chart.

That was an incredibly content-free press conference last night. It wasn't even entertaining, quite frankly. The transcript is here - part 1, part 2.

Ostensibly, the press conference was mostly about addressing high gas prices and revealing Chimpy's Social Security dismantling plan. As the AP notes
on the SS front: the White House said Bush's proposal could be accomplished with a "sliding-scale benefit formula." That would mean lower Social Security payments for future middle- and upper-income retirees than they are currently guaranteed - a fact Bush himself did not mention in his 60-minute session with reporters." So it looks like a little Ponzi scheme is under way, but he didn't want to talk about it.
What else did Chimpy say? I'll let him speak for himself...

On sh*t continuing to implode in Iraq, and increasing attacks by the insurgency:
"There are still some in Iraq who aren't happy with democracy. They want to go back to the old days of tyranny and darkness and torture chambers and mass graves. I believe we're making really good progress in Iraq, because the Iraqi people are beginning to see the benefits of a free society. They saw a government form today."

"Well, we've made the decision to defeat the terrorists abroad so we don't have to face them here at home. And when you engage the terrorists abroad, it causes activity and action....And we are making good progress. The al-Qaida network that attacked the United States has been severely diminished. We are slowly but surely dismantling that organization."

Responding to James Dobson's statement that judicial filibusters are an attack against people of faith (Bush is already being blasted by the Freepi for this answer):
"Well, I can only speak to myself. And I am mindful that people in political office should not say to somebody, You're not equally American if you don't happen to agree with my view of religion. As I said, I think faith is a personal issue. And I take great strength from my faith. But I don't condemn somebody in the political process because they may not agree with me on religion. The great thing about America is that you should be allowed to worship any way you want. And if you chose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship. And if you choose to worship, you're equally American if you're a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim. And that's the wonderful thing about our country and that's the way it should be."

Freeper: I would have liked the President to say that it isn't right to keep someone off the bench because they are pro life or disagree with the homosexual lifestyle, because that is what it is.

Bush gave his press conference on the same day that Exxon Mobil posted a profit in the last quarter of nearly $8 billion, a 44 percent increase, yet he said:
"There will be no price gouging at gas pumps in America."

On the intensifying criticism over the qualifications of U.N. ambassador nominee John Bolton, known for berating and bullying colleagues:
"John Bolton is a blunt guy. Sometimes people say I'm little too blunt. John Bolton can get the job done at the United Nations....See, the U.N. needs reform. If you're interested in reforming the U.N. like I'm interested in reforming the U.N., it makes sense to put somebody who's skilled and who's not afraid to speak his mind at the United Nations."

On North Korea a country that has the bomb, unlike Iraq, the country we did invade:
Look, Kim Jong Il is a dangerous person. He's a man who starves his people. He's got huge concentration camps. And, as David accurately noted, there is concern about his capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon. We don't know if he can or not, but I think it's best, when you're dealing with a tyrant like Kim Jong Il, to assume he can. hat's why I've decided that the best way to deal with this diplomatically is to bring more leverage to the situation by including other countries. It's better to have more than one voice sending the same message to Kim Jong Il. The best way to deal with this issue diplomatically is to have four other nations beside ourself dealing with him. And we'll continue to do so.

Finally, as you know, I have instructed Secretary Rumsfeld, and I have worked with Congress, Secretary Rumsfeld has worked with Congress to set up a missile defense system. And we're in the process of getting that missile defense system up and running. One of the reasons why I thought it was important to have a missile defense system is for precisely the reason that you brought up: Perhaps Kim Jong Il has got the capacity to launch a weapon; wouldn't it be nice to be able to shoot it down?"

On renditions, the practice of the U.S. "kidnapping" prisoners, taking them to countries that allow the practice of torture for interrogation:
"That's a hypothetical. We operate within the law, and we send people to countries where they say they're not going to torture the people. But let me say something. The United States government has an obligation to protect the American people. It's in our country's interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way. And we will do so within the law. And we will do so in honoring our commitment not to torture people."

Becoming unhinged when asked about lawsuits filed over his No Child Left Behind Act:
"I don't know about the lawsuit. I'm not a lawyer. But I _ you know, I'll ask my lawyers about the lawsuit. But I know some people are trying to unwind No Child Left Behind. You know, I've heard some states say, Well, we don't like it. Well, you know, my attitude about no liking it is this: If you teach a child to read and write, it shouldn't bother you whether you measure."

(Many thanks to all that joined us in the Big Brass Blog chat room; hopefully we'll have another soon - with more advance notice).

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Live chat during Chimpy's conference...

by Pam

Hey folks, I'll be in the Big Brass Blog live chat room, listening to the BS:

Join me at:

Shakespeare's Sister will join us for the after show.

Women’s Rights ON the March – backwards to 1890

by JJ

Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA, H.R. 748) passed yesterday 270-157.

On April 1, 2004, President George W. Bush set precedent for fetal protection by signing into law The Unborn Victims of Violence Act (Laci and Conner's Law), which recognizes unborn children as victims when they are injured or killed during the commission of federal or military crimes of violence. The vast media coverage of the murder of Laci and Conner Peterson helped boost the bill. (…)

"Roe v. Wade stripped all unborn children of being recognized in the eyes of the law. Legislation like Laci & Conner's Law helps to right this wrong by bringing justice to little victims of violence," said Wendy Wright, CWA's senior policy director.
The Concerned Bigots of America are lobbying all states to enact an unborn victim’s law. This is nothing more than an attempt to obliterate a woman’s right to choose.

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a warning to birthing facilities across the United States that the government agency fully intends to enforce the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act.

The Beverly LaHay Institute goes so far as to say the ideology of feminism is a “counterfeit creed" and compares to “The millions of deaths from Hitler’s Nazi horrors or Stalin’s Gulag or the bloody massacres of today’s suicidal terrorists reveal all to clearly the true character and threat of counterfeit creeds…”

She goes on to say that the women of today are too self centered and “Is there any greater tyranny than self-centeredness? “ Apparently all you ladies out there including the Bloggrrrlz should give up all your self centered creativity, throw your ankles behind your ears and start popping out the kids!!! What’s the matter with you anyway???

Nature will not forever be denied; women are beginning to see the costs of imbibing the un-natural cocktail of self-centeredness served up by radical feminism. In the meantime, however, the costs have been staggering. So-called sexual freedom, loudly touted by libertines and radical feminist, has brought soaring rates of sexually transmitted diseases and plummeting rates of marriage. Abortion has eliminated 45 million pregnancies, but it has not erased the countless heartbreaks.

She is saying here that it is un-natural for you girls to not have 10 kids by the time you are 30... It is not natural for you to value a career, independence and reproductive rights. It goes without saying she is supporting the "If you're old enough to bleed you're old enough to breed" mentality; so ladies... Get back in the kitchen where you belong and where the F***k is my beer? OH and by the way its all your fault that there are sexually transmitted diseases and bad marriages! Whew! What a relief, for awhile there it was all my fault because I am gay...

This madness combined with the House and Senate agreed upon definition of a woman in Linnet’s post below is slowly changing the meaning of being a woman with a brain and the ability to make decisions for herself into nothing more than a piece of chattel to be bartered for breeding purposes only.

While we are all standing by thinking Roe Vs Wade can never be overturned the precedent is slowly being picked away; bit by bit, little by little. All of you ladies out there may as well say good bye to your uterus because if these people CONTINUE to have their way it will no longer belong to you! As for me, I have already called my reps and shared my opinions with them, (not likely going to be enough coming from a little old gay boy on the red side of WA) so get off your asses and start fighting for your vaginas!!!!!!

Bibles in the TX classroom -- no problem

by Pam

What separation of church and state? (WaPo):
The school board in this West Texas town voted unanimously to add a Bible class to its high school curriculum.

Hundreds of people, most of them supporters of the proposal, packed the board meeting Tuesday night. More than 6,000 Odessa residents had signed a petition supporting the class. Some residents, however, said the school board acted too quickly. Others said they feared a national constitutional fight.

Barring any hurdles, the class should be added to the curriculum in fall 2006 and taught as a history or literature course. The school board still must develop a curriculum, which board member Floy Hinson said should be open for public review.

The board had heard a presentation in March from Mike Johnson, a representative of the Greensboro, N.C.-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, who said that coursework designed by that organization is not about proselytizing or preaching.
See the Board of Directors and Advisory Board of the organization here. Lest you think the mission of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools is benign and only about the Bible as literature, take a look at some of the folks endorsing its mission (links go to my earlier posts on these organizations):

* Liberty Counsel (Jerry Falwell and legal bootlicker, Mathew Staver)

* N.C. Family Policy Council (local wingnut organization)

* Stephen Melchior, Attorney, representing Judge Roy Moore in the Ten Commandments Case

* Southern Baptist Convention

* Eagle Forum (Phyllis Schlafly)

* Concerned Women for America (Beverly LaHaye and Robert H. Knight)

* Family Research Council President, Tony Perkins

Denny's at it again: FL men sue after being called 'bin Ladens'

by Pam

Ehab Mohamed: "We are in fear of being discriminated everywhere we go."

Is it just me, or do you think that this chain has a recruiting program for prejudiced crackers? Denny's has had to deal with numerous discrimination lawsuits all over the country because, of all things, they seem to have a problem receiving cold hard cash from paying customers simply because they are not white.

One case in 1994 was settled for $54.4 million that involved Denny's asking blacks to prepay for meals. Since then, Denny's has been slapped with at least six more discrimination lawsuits -- by African-Americans and Hispanics -- and at least another two cases involving discrimination against people of Middle Eastern descent. Here's another (with Freeper reaction to the story following)... (Newsday):
Seven men of Middle Eastern descent have sued a Denny's restaurant in Florida City, claiming the restaurant refused to serve them.

Ehab Albarabi, Nabil Arafat, Usama El-A-Baidy, Esam Hessein, Mohammad Natour, Usama Mohamed and Ehab Mohamed, all of Boca Raton, filed the civil rights suit April 22 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. They seek $4 million each from the owner and a former manager of the restaurant. The suit alleges that last year the restaurant discriminated against the men and humiliated them.

"We certainly are very hurt by all of this," 31-year-old Ehab Mohamed said Wednesday. "We are in fear of being discriminated everywhere we go."

The men decided to stop for food at the Denny's in Florida City shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 11, 2004, attorney Alan Kauffman said. According to the suit, the discrimination started when the waitress who took their drink orders took "an unusually long time" to bring their drinks and take their food order.

After waiting more than one hour, Albarabi asked manager Eduardo Ascano about the delay. According to the suit, Ascano called the men "Bin Ladens," referring to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

After waiting another 30 minutes, El-A-Baidy questioned the manager about the remark and delay. According to the suit, Ascano said, "We don't serve Bin Laden's here ... You're not welcome here anymore."
You can see video here.

The Freepi here spew some of the most hateful crap I've seen in a long while. It makes me sick...

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"Ha..Ha..Ha....Get over it...You need to stop your kind from killing people because they are not Muslims...."

"Two guys named Osama, a guy named Arafat and a guy named Hussein. Boy, I hope a Denny's manager doesn't make a crack about Nazis if he gets a customer named Adolph Hilter."

"Why didn't they just self detonate?"

"I think there may be more to this story. They just sat there for an hour politely waiting? I wouldn't have. Anyway. I didn't see anything about them being American. I would like to know where they were going at 2 am."

"In case you haven't figured it out, you're not welcome in this country anymore. Get out, and take your friends and relatives with you."

"We fear your bombs, hijacked airplanes, bulking belts, beheadings, honor killings, all are associated with Islam and yeah...I'm gonna look twice and the second look ain't love."

"Thought just occurred to me - instead of sueing people because there is a finger in your chile - change your name to Osama benladen - then when some one makes a crack about your name sue them. That was you don't have to commit a crime to get the ball rolling."

"yeah, and since this is a free country I am free to not like someone by their nationality if we are at war with it! considering the names their countrymen are calling ours (include cutting off their heads!) I'd say SUCK IT UP ASSHOLES AND DON'T THINK WE'RE ABOUT PAYING MILLIONS FOR HURT FEELINGS and while we're at it....the american people have been about as pc as we're gonna be with you people, thank your lucky stars that we went so far as to NOT inter you in camps or ship you back to your homeland, or beat you sensless! Your lucky you can fly on planes or eat in our restaraunts since we are at war with your kind at the moment and you don't have to common sense to take the towel off your head and be understanding of the position we're in! I swear to god that if these guys get a dime I'm gonna sue the next towelhead i see for offending my sensibilities while we're at war with their dress."

"Calling them bin Ladens was uncalled for. Should have called them disciples of a mentally unbalanced bandit pedophile."

"Don't most eating establishments have a "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" sign?" [Is this knuckle-dragger kidding?]

Liberty students greet Soulforce with open arms, pissing off Falwell

by Pam

Rev. Tinkywinky was blown off by his own students at Liberty University when Mel White's Soulforce came to town. Last week I reported on the Blend that Mel White of the gay rights group Soulforce planned to meet with Liberty students -- some had written White to let him know that they are forced to live closeted lives at Falwell's fundamentalist school. The level of defiance against Falwell is pretty amazing. (The Advocate):
Fifty-five members of Soulforce, a Lynchburg, Va.-based gay rights group, met with Liberty students to discuss academic freedom issues at the campus and the treatment of gays and lesbians. Liberty students went out of their way to welcome the Soulforce members with cookies, bottled water, and lots of friendly dialogue. "I'm glad they're here, and I don't see anything wrong with them being here, getting to know each other and loving each other," said Natalie Bullock, a Liberty student from Cincinnati.

But the notoriously antigay reverend Falwell, who founded the Christian school in 1971, sternly condemned homosexuality during a regular Monday convocation attended by Liberty students, faculty, staff, and Soulforce members. "Contrary to rumors, this is not 'Gay Day' at Liberty University," said Falwell, urging Liberty students not to accept any literature from the group. The university had no comment beyond Falwell's message, and Falwell did not meet with Soulforce members.

Despite Falwell's admonishments, dozens of Liberty students gathered in small groups with members of Soulforce, which represents gay and lesbian student organizations at several Virginia colleges and universities. Members wore brightly colored shirts with the organization's Web site URL printed on the front, and many wore stickers reading "Stop spiritual violence."

Soulforce director Mel White wanted to deliver to Liberty's library copies of a book titled What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality and to give professors small rainbow stickers for their doors to designate their classrooms as safe havens for students with questions about their sexuality. However, after the group left for an afternoon news conference, campus police refused to allow them back on campus. There was heavy security from campus police and Lynchburg city police, but there were no incidents. "We're not here to change Jerry's mind," White said. "We're not here to convince his students that Jerry is wrong. We're here to establish relationships with Liberty's students, and we've done that. This has been a terrific day."

White said his group had dined with 20 gay Liberty students on Sunday evening. He estimated that of Liberty's 8,000 students, "300 to 400 are gay." Seth Croft of Yorktown, a sophomore at the University of Virginia and a member of Soulforce, said he was surprised by the reception from Liberty students. He said some female students brought the group muffins and cookies Monday morning. "We had been told they wouldn't speak or associate with us in any way," Croft said. "It was a great interaction. They wanted to talk to us, which was surprising." Benjamin Williams, a Liberty sophomore from Portsmouth, said Soulforce had a right to be on campus even if the group's views differ from many others' at Liberty. "We shouldn't be judgmental. We shouldn't go out there hating on them," Williams said. "They are still people too, and we need to love them just like Christ does."

Photo on a cell phone = 'honor killing' in Jordan

by Pam

Women's rights are in a sad state in much of the third world, from ritual genital mutilation in many African countries to legal 'honor killings' in Jordan, Morocco and Syria, one has to be thankful we live in the U.S. We have to be alarmed and angry that our rights are slowly being eroded or threatened because of religious extremism by the Am Taliban, but it's the practices like this killing that make your blood boil and your heart sink for women in these countries. (AFP):
A Jordanian man shot dead his divorced sister after seeing her photo on his friend's camera-equipped cellphone in the latest "honour" killing in the kingdom, hospital officials said Monday. The unidentified man shot the 31-year-old mother twice in the head Sunday night and then turned himself in to police saying he committed the murder to "cleanse his family's honour".

The incident is the fifth example of a so-called honour killing in Jordan this year. Those found guilty usually face sentences of a maximum of one year in jail under Jordanian law. Last month, a man stabbed his sister to death after finding out she had agreed an unofficial marriage with a man who subsequently disappeared.

At least 19 women lost their lives in honour killings in Jordan last year, according to the local press.
The link to the information on honor killing notes that while this is prevalent in Muslim-majority countries, the practice is actually pre-Islamic, based on "the patriarchal and patrilineal society's interest in keeping strict control over familial power structures."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Rent boy Gannon makes Advocate cover

by Pam

Almost too ballsy to be believed. And why didn't he assume the Bulldog position? Too bad he doesn't actually shed light on his undocumented "comings and goings" at the White House.

The redeeming feature of the May Advocate article is that writer Jen Christensen talks to a real new media journalist, John Aravosis of AMERICABlog:
On most mornings, over a cup of coffee, John Aravosis sits alone in his studio apartment in Washington, D.C., pushing through piles of computer printouts. He scans new e-mails from around the world, searching for content for his, a blog, or Web log, that mixes commentary and news. Information comes from everywhere—influential newspapers, cable news, other blogs, average people. On one particular April morning the top headline comes from “Chris, in Paris,” who is reporting that a new Iraqi president has been appointed. Another headline reads that conservative congressman Tom DeLay’s approval rating is heading into the toilet, according to a survey conducted by the Houston Chronicle.

Aravosis, 41, is a pioneer among the media-savvy gays and lesbians devoted to the country’s blogs. In February he bolstered his reputation as a gay advocate by helping blow the cover of one Jeff Gannon, who had come under fire for his partisan questions as a reporter in the White House briefing room. Media outlets discovered that Gannon was actually James Guckert, who had been hired to write for a Web site run by a wealthy Republican activist from Texas. And if that wasn’t enough, Aravosis also soon learned that Guckert had apparently advertised himself as a male escort.

“For the Gannongate story, I just really got the discussion going,” Aravosis says. “We finally were asking the question, Should we be coddling a gay hooker who is working just steps away from the Oval Office promoting an antigay agenda?”

Eugenics in NC: forced sterilization of women

by Pam

I don't know how I missed this article in the March 28 Newsweek, "A Shameful Little Secret": North Carolina confronts its shameful history of forced sterilization. This practice was not stopped until 1974.

Elaine Riddick and Nial Ramirez were sterilized by the state of NC; access to formerly sealed records indicate reasons for sterilization were as flimsy as being considered lazy or promiscuous. By that standard, skanky, spoiled rich girl Paris Hilton would have been a prime candidate for the procedure.

We know the state didn't have wealthy white women like Hilton in mind when they took away Riddick's and Ramirez's ability to have children. Newsweek reports that ver the last 15 years of its operation, 99 percent of the victims were women; more than 60 percent were black.

Riddick found out what happened to her when she and her husband were having difficulty conceiving.
She soon learned that the operation had been performed by state order in North Carolina in 1968, when she was just 14, and had given birth to a baby after being raped. At the time, she'd assumed doctors were just performing a routine post-birth procedure. The sterilization-consent form had been signed by her neglectful father and her illiterate grandmother, who had marked her assent with an X.

...Nial Ramirez says she was sterilized at 18 after social workers threatened to cut off her mother's welfare benefits. "We had no way to fight back," says Ramirez, now 58.
The state offered a public apology two years ago, and reparations have been considered by Governor Mike Easley, though not one cent has been paid to a victim of this atrocity. At least the Tar Heel state is the first to appoint a panel to study on how to best handle the health care and counseling needs of these women, along with financial compensation -- it's small comfort to those that suffered under the knife of the state.

Over thirty states had eugenics programs like this one. You may want to do a little digging into your state's history. These procedures were ruled constitutional in Buck v. Bell, a 1924 Supreme Court decision that is still the law of the land.
the health of the patient and the welfare of society may be promoted in certain cases by the sterilization of mental defectives, under careful safeguard, &c.; that the sterilization may be effected in males by vasectomy and in females by salpingectomy, without serious pain or substantial danger to life; that the Commonwealth is supporting in various institutions many defective persons who if now discharged would become a menace but if incapable of procreating might be discharged with safety and become self-supporting with benefit to themselves and to society; and that experience has shown that heredity plays an important part in the transmission of insanity, imbecility, &c.
Do you have any doubt that the wild-eyed American Taliban would find a reason to return to these practices, in the name of the "welfare of society?" They have a clear sense of what they'd like America to be. They are already attempting to control women by restricting access to family planning, attacking abortion rights, and have made it clear that women have taken the notion of equal rights way too far.

And people wonder why minority populations are paranoid about government "science" projects? The whole AIDS-is-a-government-conspiracy rant is not too far-fetched a concept (though I don't buy that particular one) when you have stories like this and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, there's enough evidence that a minority or devalued population is fair game for control and experimentation like lab rats.

Between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) experimented on 400 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These were mostly illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama. They were never told what disease they were suffering from or that it was life-threatening. [President Clinton's apologized to the eight remaining survivors on May 16, 1997.]

STILL Not Concerned??

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Three words:

K. Street. Project.

Google those three words for more.

Read, think, ACT!

Ms. Julien


by Shakespeare's Sister

Ballooning deficits…the war in Iraq…unsecure borders…the ever-weakening separation between church and state…rampant ethics violations by congresscritters…the attack on civil rights…struggling social programs…Social Security…the healthcare crisis…unemployment…environmental concerns…dependency on foreign oil…

The list goes on and on.

And on what is Congress choosing to focus?

Steroid use in the NFL.
If McCain, Davis and the Government Reform Committee's ranking Democrat -- Henry Waxman of California -- do produce a bill, it wouldn't be the first on the topic. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., introduced the Drug Free Sports Act on Tuesday, and his House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection subcommittee scheduled a May 5 hearing.

''There is every reason to believe that most major sports have athletes using illegal steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs,'' Stearns said.
Get with the program, you plonkers. We’ve got bigger fish to fry at the moment.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Does liberalism equal a lack of accountability?

by STP


However, that is partially the argument that conservatives enjoy making when blaming liberals for society's failings. Liberals are called permissive, irresponsible, indulgent, subversive, unethical, immoral, and holding to an "anything goes" philosophy. This image is false and misrepresents liberalism. It is also a strong case for the pot calling the kettle black.

Liberalism does not go hand in hand with the breaking down of societal structure. In fact, it represents the belief systems that should be part and parcel of a community beholden to a system of values, ethics and communal decency that has been stripped away by so-called conservatism.

Let's get something straight; there is nothing conservative about the overwhelming majority of conservatives in this country. There is also little that ties these people to ethics, morals, principle, and responsibility. I point to Enron, election fraud, tax cuts for the rich, growing deficits, and ample sexual dalliances on the part of so-called moral right wingers. Don't even get me started on loving thy neighbor and keeping government out of the lives of individuals!

So what then is liberalism?

Liberalism is accepting people for whatever they are as long as they abide by the laws governing society and do not harm others. Homosexuality is ok. Religious beliefs, or a lack of them, are fine. Liberalism is about allowing people the right to make their own choices; choices involving personal decisions on child-birth and contraception, displays of religiousity, who each person loves (Although this is not a choice. The choice is in being allowed to live the life that is naturally built into our being as we see fit.), or simply what matters to them in their daily lives.

If you are harming no one else, staying within the confines of the law and showing a respect for the world and all its inhabitants (that includes animals and the environment), liberals will let you be what you wish to be. This is not permissiveness in the worst sense, but rather in a best case scenario where people can be who or what they are in a responsible fashion. Liberals trust people enough to allow them their freedoms.

Liberals consider compassion and equality to be critical characteristics of the human spirit. They understand the need for people to take responsibility for themselves - try to work for a living, attempt to be a valued member of the community, obtain education as is necessary, be respectful of others - but liberals also recognize that many in any society need help. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, tax fairness, education reform, treatment as opposed to punishment, universal and affordable healthcare, and the ability to start over again when everything falls apart are simply some of the ways that liberals promote the concept of helping those in need, hand in hand with personal responsibility. The responsibility of individual self-reliance is a beginning. The responsibility of community, mutual interdependence, is the main body of the liberal form.

In large measure, our society is no longer responsible for itself. Much of this results from so-called conservatism and its emphasis on self over society.

Conservatism, as it is practiced in the United States, can be defined as societal indifference, resulting in the decay of communal connectivity. Some examples:

1. Big business interests do not believe they have a responsibility to the planet and all living things.
2. Politicians on the right believe they can whip ignorant, fools into a frenzy in the name of Jesus. 3. A president can lie to a nation about the causes for war, be proven wrong and then change the story to a whole new set of lies to justify his deception to the country.
4. Solutions to issues (ie. Social Security, prescription drugs) can be ignored, instead replaced with demoguagory, in the name of political expediency and gain.
5. Tax cuts can be enacted that destroy the future stability of our economy.
6. Alternative energy sources are ignored in the name of oil and auto companies.

There is no sense of responsibility inherent in conservative doctrine in this country, as its principles seem to revolve around individual greed and profit combined with a disinterest in the greater world and protecting those who cannot keep up. Conservatism masks itself in righteousness, but the holy image is a fraud that belies self-interest.

If any side in this country is representative of a lack of accountability and responsibility it is conservativism. While liberals attempt to provide a community of caring and sharing, conservatives selfishly "get what's theirs," doing so regardless of consequence and who they harm in the process. At the same time, conservatives demand adherence to their beliefs and images of the world. Sadly, those beliefs find their base in the demeaning of others, the pushing aside of the weak, the fleecing of the unaware, and the destruction of whatever stands in their way.

That is representative of not being responsible; for anyone or anything.

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Please, not the 'ex-gay' crap again

by Pam

Stephen Bennett of Stephen Bennett Ministries was a "practicing homosexual" for 11 years before becoming a Christian and "leaving the lifestyle."

Just plain deception and pathetic bullsh*t from American Family Association's wingnut propaganda organ Agape Press, Former Homosexual Reaches Out to Hurting Homosexual Community.
AFAJ: Do you think your own past as a homosexual makes you more compassionate?

No doubt about it. I've lived in a glass house, so I've learned not to throw stones. As a former homosexual, I believe I know what works and what doesn't work in approaching that community. Of course, I'm still in the learning process -- I haven't arrived, by any means.

AFAJ: How does the media handle your claim to be an "ex-gay"?

I very rarely get any respect from the media as an ex-gay man. Former homosexuals are made to look like clowns, like laughingstocks. I was on a CNN show and I was introduced as a 'self-described former homosexual,' and others have done the same thing. When they do that I correct them immediately. I am a former homosexual. Period.

...AFAJ: How do homosexuals respond when you say you've left the lifestyle?

Some will listen, and say they have never heard that before and are really intrigued by the message and are open to hearing about it. And on a regular basis we keep in contact with many of those active homosexuals who are curious.

But in most cases, they will tell me I was never "gay" in the first place. And I tell them, "Yeah, you go and ask my 100-plus partners how 'gay' I was not." I was "gay." Many homosexuals are in extreme denial, and I believe, again, that it's based upon all the rejection they've experienced. So when someone tells them, "I've come out of the lifestyle," they will just verbally attack you. One of my favorite analogies is that the thing a smoker hates the most is an ex-smoker. It's the same situation with homosexuals.

...Stephen Bennett Ministries has produced a brand new one-hour audio CD, "The 10 Most Effective Ways to Reach the Homosexual for Christ." This special CD not only contains Bennett's personal testimony of how he left the homosexual lifestyle, but also instruction about what to do and what not to do in ministering to members of the homosexual community.

..."The whole point of the CD is to develop a heart for the homosexual," said Bennett. "While it is critical for churches to resist the effort to normalize homosexuality in our society, it is equally important for the church to reach out to these hurting, broken people."
You must see this page from his Ministry web site, "Are You Struggling With Unwanted Homosexuality?" It's so over-the-top that you think it has to be a parody. Nope.

The Disappearing Wall

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Great "op-ed" piece in the NY Times (thanks, Holly!). This is a call for all of you who voted for Bush for "protection against terror" - he didn't fight the terror - it is still here.

THIS is the legacy of GW Bush. And do you know what?? It is the legacy of ALL OF THOSE WHO VOTED FOR HIM.

To the dismay of many mainstream religious leaders, the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, participated in a weekend telecast organized by conservative Christian groups to smear Democrats as enemies of "people of faith." Besides listening to Senator Frist's videotaped speech, viewers heard a speaker call the Supreme Court a despotic oligarchy. Meanwhile, the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, has threatened the judiciary for not following the regressive social agenda he shares with the far-right fundamentalists controlling his party.

Apart from confirming an unwholesome disrespect for traditional American values like checks and balances, the assault on judges is part of a wide-ranging and successful Republican campaign to breach the wall between church and state to advance a particular brand of religion. No theoretical exercise, the program is having a corrosive effect on policymaking and the lives of Americans.

The centerpiece is President Bush's so-called faith-based initiative, which disregards decades of First Amendment law and civil rights protections. Mr. Bush promised that federal money would not be used to support religious activities directly, but it is. The program has channeled billions of taxpayers' dollars to churches and other religion-based providers of social services under legally questionable rules that allow plenty of room for proselytizing and imposing religious tests on hiring. The initiative even provides taxpayers' money to build and renovate houses of worship that are also used to offer social services.

Offices in the White House and federal departments pump public money to religious groups, but provide scant oversight or accountability to make sure that the money is spent on real services, not preaching. Indeed, Mr. Bush's goal is to finance programs that are explicitly religious.

A recent want ad posted by a taxpayer-financed vocational program of the Firm Foundation for inmates in a Pennsylvania jail stipulated that a job seeker must be "a believer in Christ and Christian Life today" and that the workday "will start with a short prayer." A major portion of inmates' time is spent on religious lectures and prayer, according to a lawsuit filed by two civil liberties groups.

The Bush administration and Congress have turned over issues bearing on women's reproductive rights to far-right religious groups opposed not just to abortion, but to expanded stem-cell research, effective birth control and AIDS prevention programs. The Food and Drug Administration continues to dawdle over approving over-the-counter access to emergency contraception for fear of inflaming members of the religious right who deem any interference with the implantation of a fertilized egg to be an abortion. This foot-dragging may be good politics from one narrow view, but it harms women and drives up the nation's abortion rate.

The result of this open espousal of one religious view is a censorious climate in which a growing number of pharmacists feel free to claim moral grounds for refusing to dispense emergency contraception and even birth control pills prescribed by a doctor. Public schools shy away from teaching about evolution, and science museums reject scientifically sound documentaries that may offend Christian fundamentalists. Public television stations were afraid to run a children's program in which a cartoon bunny met a lesbian couple.

In a recent Op-Ed article in The Times, John Danforth, the former Republican senator and U.N. ambassador who is also a minister, said his party was becoming a political arm of the religious right. He called it a formula for divisiveness that ultimately threatened the party's future. With the nation lurching toward the government sponsorship of religion, and the Senate nearing a showdown over Mr. Bush's egregious judicial nominees, it is a warning well worth heeding.

Yet another country gets it...New Zealand OKs civil unions

by Pam

Labour Party lawmaker Tim Barnett supported the bill.

What is f*cking wrong with our country? At this point, it's just plain embarrassing. (AP):
A law allowing same-sex partners to have nearly the same legal rights as married couples came into force in New Zealand on Tuesday, with the first of the newly defined civil unions expected this weekend.

The measure stops short of legalizing same-sex marriages, but it was fiercely opposed by religious groups who called it a "gay marriage law" and said it undermined the importance of traditional marriages.

The law makes civil union ceremonies available for both same-sex couples and heterosexual couples seeking a pact that's nominally less binding than marriage. Registration takes at least three days, and local media said the first ceremony was expected Saturday.

Labour Party lawmaker Tim Barnett, who lobbied for the bill, said he hoped that ceremonies over the weekend would cause opponents of civil unions to reconsider.

"They will see two people who are committed and want the world to know," Barnett said. "I would have thought it's hard for people to feel threatened by that."

Two men who led the fight for the new law, 18-year couple John Jolliff, 75, and Des Smith, 65, planned to tie the knot Sunday at Wellington Town Hall in the capital with Mayor Kerry Prendergast presiding.

Canada's marriage bill is in jeopardy

by Pam

Prime Minister Paul Martin's government may be tossed out because of scandals, jeopardizing the passage of the gay marriage bill. Conservative Stephen Harper smells blood -- if he's elected, he wants to annul gay marriages.

Reader Cat keeps me updated on the status of the marriage bill in Canada that would extend gay civil marriage country wide. The majority of the territories and provinces have legalized gay marriage, but this would solidify and endorse equal marriage as a nation. [In fact, four New Brunswick gay couples filed papers with the Court of Appeal this week, asking it to redefine the legal meaning of marriage in the province.]

There are enough supportive MPs to pass Bill C-38, but it's in trouble, due to the unrelated political scandals swirling around the Liberal government that may end up in an election call, with the Conservatives waiting in the wings.

If an election is called before the bill passes, then it will die. Equal marriage will then be a live issue in the campaign. The bottom line is that if Stephen Harper becomes Prime Minister, it's possible that he will do away civil marriage from same-sex couples -- and annul existing same-sex marriages and water them down to civil unions.

Kate and I were married in Vancouver last year, and this fight is important. The hate-filled forces here have been sending money and people there to prevent passage of this bill. They know if Canada "falls" and allows gay marriage country-wide, that it's very normality will give the US no reason to outlaw it. Stopping gay marriage in Canada for them is setting up a fire break to contain the spread of freedom and tolerance southward to the U.S.

Canadians for Equal Marriage is trying to combat the efforts of Focus on the Family, Defend Marriage and the other far-Reich marriage opponents that are mobilizing for an election and determined to turn back the clock on LGBT rights in Canada. They have an uphill battle -- the Right has money, and is using a phone campaign to target key areas to mobilize support and is funding a massive advertising campaign against equal marriage. Visit the site.

Bill Gates: "We didn't realize that one would get that level of scrutiny"

by Pam

Pious Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer -- kiss my lesbo rear-end and like it.

Microsoft may rethink position on gay-rights bill. The hot flames of the homo outrage have Bill Gates feeling some serious PR pain. House Blender Paul points to a Seattle Times article that shows there's serious backpeddling going on.
Microsoft may re-evaluate whether to support state legislation that would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians, Chairman Bill Gates said yesterday.

Gates said Microsoft was surprised by the sharp reaction after it became known that the company took a neutral position on the perennial measure this year, after actively supporting it in previous years.

"Next time this one comes around, we'll see," he said. "We certainly have a lot of employees who sent us mail. Next time it comes around that'll be a major factor for us to take into consideration."

...Advocacy groups still feel betrayed. The Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center demanded the return of an award it gave the company in 2001.

Gates welcomed the feedback.

"It's perfectly fair for us to be scrutinized on anything," he said. "We didn't realize that one would get that level of scrutiny, but there's people who care a lot. They care a lot about the issue."
Is he f*cking dumb? How could he not know that getting in bed with the Reich wasn't going to cause a sh*tstorm?!

Guess what Bill, it's not over till fundy Ralph Reed stops getting paid $20K a month by your company.

I think I may hurl...

by Pam

We already knew that Chimpy was in bed with the Saudis, but about this display of man-love. Since CNN this AM reports the White House said that the Saudi hand-holding is a "sign of respect," then it should be A-OK with Chimpy when I hold Kate's hand while walking down the street. Especially if I give as loving a glance to her as he does here to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

Let’s Make a Deal

by Shakespeare's Sister

[Please note - I wrote this originally for my blog, and not in response to TCF's post, below. It's definitely a different perspective, though, which is, of course, what Big Brass Blog is all about, so that's why I'm posting it.]

Senate Minority Leader Monty Hall Harry Reid is meeting with Bill Frist to try to hammer out a compromise over Bush’s judicial nominees, thereby avoiding the nuclear option:
Reid is quietly talking to the Senate's chief Republican about confirming at least two of President Bush's blocked judicial nominees but only as part of a compromise that would require the GOP to end its threat to eliminate judicial filibusters, officials say.

Reid also wants a concession from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, officials said speaking on condition of anonymity: the replacement of a third Michigan nominee with one approved by that state's two Democratic senators.


Senators would not confirm details Monday, but Reid said that he has had had numerous conversations with senators in both parties in hopes of avoiding a showdown. "As part of any resolution, the nuclear option must be off the table," Reid said in a statement referring to the GOP threat to change filibuster rules.
Pardon me, but after confirming 95% of Bush’s nominees, why should the Democrats even be considering a compromise with an abusive group of bullies who are creating this entire debacle out of a ridiculous notion that they somehow deserve 100% complicity on anything and everything they want? I’m extremely disappointed with the suggestion that the Dems would even entertain the notion of compromise at this point; such capitulation will not be remembered as a gallant move to the moral high ground as potential disaster was thwarted, but instead will likely not be remembered at all by the people who count—the American voters—even as the GOP will continue to push around their impotent opposition, emboldened with the knowledge that lunatic and shrill threats get them what they want.

I wouldn’t even be surprised if, in the end, the conventional wisdom ends up being that it was the GOP’s decision to not invoke the nuclear option which really won the day. The GOP will walk out of this as gracious heroes, and the Dems will carry the blame for forcing it to the brink in the first place.

Ezra notes:
So why compromise? … Neither the principled Republicans nor the opportunists are going to feel safe on the nuclear option bandwagon. So let him go ahead and try to force the issue. Let's say, hypothetically, he got the votes. Is this a fight he can win? The Senate comes to a screeching halt, the talk shows focus on the protection/dissolution of minority rights, and folks don't understand why Republicans have broken with years of tradition over 10 nutball judges. Public opinion, already against the GOP solidifies, and Senate Republicans begin to defect, handing the right a HUGE loss and effectively ending Frist's presidential aspirations.

Now, it's certainly true that the outcome isn't as preordained as all that, nothing's ever immutable in politics. But it seems that Reid and Co. could gamble, with reasonable certainty, on killing the nuclear option. And serving Republicans with a defeat on that, right after Social Security and Schiavo, would really solidify perceptions -- and thus the media storyline -- of the right as disorganized and on a downward trajectory, while adding significantly to Democratic momentum. So while I recognize that there's more risk in pushing forward, it seems that the potential rewards are much greater. It codifies GOP overreach, it'll empower Republican moderates, and it'll solidify the power and unity of the Democratic caucus. And I think that's worth the risk.
I think it’s worth the risk, too. It’s really too bad the Dems don’t feel the same way. It's not just that they don't know how to play hardball...they don't even know how to get in the game.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Justice Interrupted

by thatcoloredfella

There comes late word, of a possible compromised being hammered out between Bill Frist and Harry Reid, with the threat to the Senate filibuster being traded for the confirmation of two previously rejected nominees, and nothing more. As TCF sees it, the compromise allows Frist and the GOP to save face and further political damage, yet it effectively abandons the Evangelical Right at the alter (once again), who will undoubtedly respond with threats of retribution, pestilence and plagues upon the Party of Lincoln. However, having done their bidding on ‘Justice Sunday’, Frist should not sweat the expected threats to his 2008 Presidential aspirations either, because the Dobson Gang have nowhere to go politically.

Yet, significant credit should be given to Sen. Harry Reid and the Democratic leadership, who by managing their position in opposition to the threat of ‘the nuclear option’ effectively, will emerge as the clear political victors in this fight. But, more interesting, it looks like the Congressional Democrats headed off a clash by having even more leverage to bargain with.

First, to put this unfolding event in its proper perspective, you should read NYTimes’ Paul Krugman’s recent column, The Oblivious Right. Krugman pointedly explains how Americans can unequivocally express no confidence in Bush and the GOP’s handling of the economy, yet Treasury Secretary John Snow has it on good authority that globally we’re in a ‘sweet spot’ and other Conservatives are financially advising of a coming ‘Bush boom’. And, as an increasing number of Americans show objection to Bush’s Social Security plan, and now 50% percent believe they were deliberately deceived by the administration on the existence of WMDs’ in Iraq, an entitled Right trusts that given some self-restraint and patience, they will soon see success in accomplishing all of their second term agenda.

TCF had to look up the definition of comity (n: a state or atmosphere of harmony or mutual civility and respect), which is an unwritten rule of Senate decorum allowing the majority party to set the agenda. Yet, if Bill Frist and the GOP were to prevail on ‘the nuclear option’, the Dems are planning to set the agenda for them! TCF has it on good authority (meaning straight from the office of Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid), that the Democrats are planning to directly address the real concerns of Americans not consulted on the Republicans’ Bankruptcy Bill, or who fail to make the cut to share the stage at one of Bush’s Town Hall meetings.

Go read the list of proposed legislation the Senate Democrats have ready to introduce if they were forced to deliver on their threat of a shutdown, and you’ll find yet another strong incentive for Frist & Co. to capitulate.

If this is the final draft that concludes this averted political showdown, then it reads like a Frank Capra-esque ending to an updated retelling of ‘The Crusades’. And, it lends further credence to TCF’s previous assertions that this was merely a dress rehearsal/run through staged purposely for the Evangelical Right.

However, in light of the preview reviews, this production will not even see opening night.

Monday, April 25, 2005

We SURE support our troops - NOT

by Ms. Julien in Miami

In returning home, the leaders and Marine infantrymen have chosen to break an institutional code of silence and tell their story, one they say was punctuated not only by a lack of armor, but also by a shortage of men and planning that further hampered their efforts in battle, destroyed morale and ruined the careers of some of their fiercest warriors.

Read it all HERE - from Common Dreams....

Why in the HELL Did I Have to Read About This in The Guardian (UK paper)!?!?!?

by Ms. Julien in Miami

But gee, didn't Lou Dobbs say tonight that things were GREAT in Afghanistan??

The UN's top human rights investigator in Afghanistan has been forced out under American pressure just days after he presented a report criticising the US military for detaining suspects without trial and holding them in secret prisons.

Cherif Bassiouni had needled the US military since his appointment a year ago, repeatedly trying, without success, to interview alleged Taliban and al-Qa'ida prisoners at the two biggest US bases in Afghanistan, Kandahar and Bagram.
Read it all HERE.

The Right To Impose Christianity

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Julien's List friend 'Bean sent this over, from Salon...does this scare ANYONE out there who considers him or herself moderate?

The religious right worked itself into a righteous fury at "Justice Sunday," using the stalemate over judges to tar Democrats as enemies of God.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Michelle Goldberg

April 25, 2005 | One of the most telling moments of Sunday night's Justice Sunday rally and telecast came right after Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, bellowed, "We will be disobedient altar boys! We won't be told to shut up and give it over to the secular left! Who are they to say that I don't have a right to freedom of speech?"

At the rally, held at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., the crowd jumped to its feet, whistling and clapping. In the small Long Island, N.Y., Christian youth center where I watched Justice Sunday with a dozen or so believers, people murmured their assent, as if Donohue had bravely spoken truth to power. Apparently, many ordinary Christians believe that some nefarious "they" is saying that believers don't have a right to freedom of speech.

Almost everything uttered at the rally stoked this deeply held feeling of persecution, giving a righteous cast to some of the speakers' vows of vengeance. "Those people on the secular left, they say, 'We think you're a threat,'" said Donohue. "You know what? They're right." This brought laughter, and more cheers.

The message of Justice Sunday was that the Senate's filibuster of some of Bush's judicial nominees constitutes discrimination against "people of faith." Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who delivered a speech by video, tried to distance himself from this inflammatory assertion, but his participation spoke much louder than the wan caveats offered in his remarks. He lent his authority and credibility to the parade of right-wing celebrities who are using the parliamentary stalemate over judges as an excuse to tar Democrats as, essentially, enemies of God.

Thousands crowded the megachurch in Louisville, while others watched via satellite in hundreds of churches nationwide. Still more tuned in online and through Christian TV and radio. They heard from Focus on the Family's James Dobson, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, Watergate felon turned evangelist Chuck Colson and a handful of others.

For an hour and a half, these right-wing eminences spun a political line that was blithely untethered from reality. Priscilla Owen, for example, one of Bush's blocked judges, was held out by Frist as a jurist admired across the partisan spectrum. No mention, of course, was made of the words of one of her colleagues on the Texas Supreme Court, who accused her of an "unconscionable act of judicial activism" in a case dealing with a minor seeking an abortion. The godless leftist who hurled this charge was none other than Alberto Gonzales, now the attorney general.

In one case in which Owen dissented from the majority of the court in an abortion case, her colleagues, Republicans all, wrote that opposition to abortion "does not excuse judges who impose their own personal convictions into what must be a strictly legal enquiry."

What's fascinating, then, is that Owen, a judge known to put her politics before the law, is being held up as the cure for a supposedly ideological judiciary. For the orators at Justice Sunday, judicial activism in defense of biblical literalism is no vice.

Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, angrily recalled something that Judge Charles Pickering, one of the appellate court nominees that Democrats blocked, was asked during his hearings. "He was asked about something he said as president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention. He said, of all things, that Christians ought to base their decision making on the Bible ... that is normative Christianity! There's what it means to be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and to be a Christian incorporated into the body of Christ!"

Of course, the concern about Pickering's comment at the hearings had to do with the implication that when the law contradicts his reading of the Bible, he sets the law aside. In the rhetoric surrounding Justice Sunday, though, expecting judges to put the law before their personal theology constitutes discrimination that threatens all Christians. "If it's Judge Pickering now, it can be you tomorrow," Mohler warned.

The language on Sunday was consistently apocalyptic. Dobson, the avuncular culture warrior, declared, "I think this is one of the most significant issues we've ever faced as a nation, because the future of democracy and ordered liberty actually depends on the outcome of this struggle." After all, the Supreme Court is responsible for "the biggest holocaust in world history" -- the legalization of abortion. "For 44 years, the Supreme Court has been on a campaign to limit religious freedom," Dobson said. He continued, "We do have a right to participate in this great representative form of government." From the way the crowd cheered, you'd have thought someone had told them they didn't.

Conflating the right to participate with the right to evangelize, Mohler said, "We are not calling for people to be moral, we want them to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ."

That's a valid position for a religious figure to take, perhaps, but since Mohler also argued that Christians can't separate their public responsibilities from their spiritual obligations, it seemed as if he was arguing for the right of judges to impose Christianity. If so, the real problem isn't discrimination against "people of faith." It's the claim that "people of faith" have the right to discriminate.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

About the writer
Michelle Goldberg is a contributing writer to Salon. She is working on a book about America's culture war to be published next year by W.W. Norton.

Watching Wal-Mart

by Pam

Not that you need yet another reason to keep your tush out of Wal-Mart... You already know about:
* child labor violations
* keeping workers under 30 hours so they won't qualify for health care
* discrimination against women
* support of legislation that would have put truckers on 16-hour shifts
* using undocumented workers
* quashing attempts at union organizing

Now there's an organization that's uniting the laundry list of this corporation's evil practices. Wal-Mart Watch is a newly-formed nonprofit organization aimed at reforming the business practices of Sam Walton's baby. I heard about it on NPR this morning while driving to work.

Its first effort, an ad campaign focusing on the retailer's abandonment of its "Buy American" business model.
Sam Walton’s bestselling autobiography is titled "Made in America". And as recently as 1994, company literature titled "Bring It Home To The USA" touted Wal-Mart’s commitment to American manufacturers saying "The Buy American program is both a commitment and a partnership." That was then. This is now.

...Wal-Mart Watch Executive Director Andrew Grossman said, “Wal-Mart may say ‘low prices’ but we’re here to ask, ‘at what cost?’ At the cost of America’s manufacturing base? At the cost of well-paying American jobs and the families, communities, and futures they support? Wal-Mart does more than simply exploit and profit from the outsourcing of American industry to China. With its unprecedented leverage in the retail sector and its relentless pressure on suppliers to slash their prices, Wal-Mart has actively forced the shipping of American jobs to China and elsewhere."
You can listen to an NPR story on it here. You can learn more about Wal-Mart facts and figures here.

Phelps fag-haters greeted with a big wet one in Albuquerque

by Pam

In this story, he was picketing in Sante Fe and Albuquerque, NM against the "sodomite whorehouses masking as churches," and "godless Sante Fe promotes itself as a vacation spot for fags and a fag festival." You get the idea. It gives us to try when The Rotting Cryptkeeper comes to Durham on May 6-7. (
Stunned that protesters were flashing hateful anti-gay messages to traffic along a busy street on the weekend, Chris Lucas had to pull over to join a counter-protest. Then, just as spontaneously, Lucas found a way to stun the protesters. The 31-year-old massage therapist and a man he just met locked in a passionate kiss just feet from the protesters.

"I know the protesters were shouting things at me, but I couldn't hear what they were saying," said Lucas, who is gay. "I had my eyes closed. It was actually kind of liberating to do this." The kiss was one of several creative responses to a demonstration by 20 members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. The group travels the country to rally against homosexuality.

"These young adults need to know there is a hell and there is a judgment day on which they will be judged for their sins," said church member Deborah Hockenbarger, 51. "We are trying to warn them about their filthiness. It is not OK to be a fag. God almighty says so."

Hockenbarger waved a sign that read: "Fags are worthy of death." Other church members took shots at Catholicism with signs that read: "Pope in Hell" and "Your pastor is a whore." They view the church as a pro-gay institution.

About 40 gay rights supporters reacted by waving white cloths they called angel wings, dressing up their dogs with slogan T-shirts, chanting or simply quietly turning their backs on the protesters.

...Jacob Phelps, the 21-year-old grandson of Westboro's pastor Fred Phelps, said his church teaches that God hates homosexuals.

"We wouldn't be here doing this protest if we hated people absolutely," he said. "What we're expressing is not our hate, it's God's hate. That's a pure hate. It's the only kind of hate allowed. I feel this is my obligation to God."

The Westboro Church began its anti-gay demonstrations about 15 years ago. Targets include churches — even conservative ones — that the congregation deems too soft on homosexuality and labels "fag-enablers."

Jessica Bachicha, 35, repeated the words of Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez who said the Westboro protesters weren't welcomed in this city. "We don't need them coming to pollute our city or state with hate," said Bachicha, a lesbian.

Poem: Sisters and Brothers

by STP

This blog, and several others, has been correctly and relentlessly addressing the attacks on the GLBT Community by the religious right in this country. The fear that homosexuality will rub off on straight people and cause some sort of "Sudden Gay Syndrome," would be laughable if it were not what so many believe.

The fear of gay marriage and the dismissal of love in any form it may take is tragic. I have had the good fortune to see gay couples in beautiful relationships, some with adopted children, and there is absolutely no difference between their bonds and the bonds of heterosexual couples. Given these observations, I wrote the poem, "Sisters and Brothers," this weekend. I hope you will give it a look.

The 21st Century: Opus Four

by Dark Wraith

While the attacks of September 11, 2001, constituted a national tragedy of historic proportion, they also presented the neo-conservatives with a strategic opportunity of no less historic importance. Although conspiracy theories abound that link certain Right-wing interests to the criminal acts, no such stretch is needed to argue that the outrage against the United States correlated with an opening that has allowed an agenda—an agenda that had already been set forth—to be operationalized in the social, legal, economic, political, and military spheres of the country.

That the neo-conservatives used a national tragedy to bring about change is unarguable. That their effort has been successful is beyond question: America today is a neo-conservative construct in many ways. The economy has been transformed through a diminishing presence of government in the social service of America at the same time it looms large in the domination of the agenda of nations. Even those places in the world that reject American leadership as it now poses cannot avoid the consequences of the new and aggressive manner in which the United States poses militarily.

In terms of economics, the progressive use of world capital markets in the service of American needs that exceed its revenues from domestic taxation have slowly and inexorably re-aligned the geography of interdependencies. China is the most striking example: although its long-standing policy of enforcing an undervaluation of its currency has, for more than a decade, drained liquidity from other nations, it has been only during the Bush Administration, which has run massive federal budget deficits, that the dollars being drained from the United States have found an open channel for return by providing the funds to finance those excesses of spending over revenues from taxation. Absent the magnet those Chinese reserves of dollars have in returning to America as lendable funds, and the impact of those domestic trade deficits would have been considerably less, particularly on the outflow of American jobs to overseas markets, although that process had been on-going for some years, simply because of the undervaluation of the yuan.

But while the neo-conservatives have been wildly successful in implementing their agenda, the long-term goals that agenda has been designed to promote are far less certain in outcome. In the first three parts of this series, the agenda was set forth, presenting it as a plan whose implementation literally forces the rest of the world to parallel American neo-conservative methods and policies or be left crippled by American dominance of global trade and the military might to enforce that dominance. Critical to the neo-conservative model is the United States military, which must fully and effectively cooperate. As noted in Part One, Part Two, and Part Three of this series, that key alliance between the policy implementers and the military enablers has gone so far as a full and comprehensive document at the Pentagon, reported by The Wall Street Journal, which sets forth the specifics of how the U.S. armed forces will participate in bringing about a 21st Century that achieves the neo-conservative objectives.

It is insufficient for those shocked or otherwise opposed to the neo-conservative plan for American empire to claim that it will not work merely because such long-range and detailed plans never do. The ambition of the plan, as set forth in the previous parts of this series, poses to reshape the world, the alliance structure of the United States, and the course of social, political, and economic development in virtually every nation-state on Earth. If such a plan goes awry for one reason or another, the failure will be more than a passing phase in future American history; it will, instead, be the beginning of a world entirely different from the one for which the neo-conservatives planned, as well different from the one planned by those opposed to the neo-conservatives. As the neo-conservative Francis Fukuyama described it, the "end of history" might well be nigh.

Twilight Scenarios
The documentation produced by the Project for the New American Century, and particularly the Pentagon document that specifies both domestic military and geo-political economic structures arising from the neo-conservative agenda, provides a sense of certainty about how events will proceed over the coming years and decades. Consequences will necessarily proceed from actions taken by the United States, and responses of both allies and adversaries will follow predictable, even inevitable, paths. While the documents do not address irrational responses by others, the sense of what constitutes rational response is narrow, and the consequences of any given response are well understood and always within the model's scope of readiness. It is in this way that the plan may have its deepest flaw: by setting a course that is already beyond rectification, consequences gain magnitude in ways that neither the political nor the military spheres of influence may be able to predict, much less manage while still maintaining the underlying goal of progressive American empire. What follows are examples of speculative scenarios that could derail empire while preventing a reasonable alternative course from being available.

The Middle East is, and has been throughout history, a powder keg of rival interests vying for geographic, religious, economic, and resource-control position. Over the millennia, small and giant armies have clashed in the cradle of civilization, empires have come, stayed for a while, and been driven out. The land is harsh, even as some of it is enormously valuable for its reserves of oil, and this resource will become even more worthy of violence as the world reserves of petroleum are depleted over the next half-century.

Iran is in the later stages of becoming a nuclear state, the third in the region to seriously attempt this transformation. Israel came first, with a successful, secret program that has now yielded a respectable stockpile, the very existence of which the Jewish State denies even as every country on Earth knows better. The second nation to attempt to build nuclear weapons was Iraq, starting in the 1970s. That country's program ended when Israel obliterated its production facilities in an aerial bombing raid at the beginning of the 1980s. The third country is Iran, which learned from the destruction of the Iraqi Osirak facility to conduct its program in hardened, underground bunkers that can withstand even a robust aerial assault with sophisticated, highly destructive, conventional weapons.

Even as the United States postures with a hint of military threat, all eyes are on Israel to destroy the facility. Even the Europeans, trying as they are to broker a means by which Iran can provide verifiable assurance that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, knows at this stage that nothing short of a bombing raid can stop the Iranians from becoming an openly declared nuclear state, one with its own ambitions of empire, considerable leverage through its oil reserves, and a far-from-fledgling capability in intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Unfortunately, Israel may not have the conventional weaponry to destroy the Iranian facility and thereby set Iran's nuclear ambitions back for the foreseeable future. In fact, despite the United States propaganda about its own conventional, so-called "bunker-buster" bombs, highly effective generations of such weapons—models that could go deep enough and deliver enough kinetic energy to massively breach Iran's underground complex—are probably not in the arsenal at this time.

That leaves Israel with only one viable option if it wants to ensure the destruction of the Iranian nuclear program. Although Israel can certainly use conventional weapons to deliver massive damage to surface and even much sub-surface infrastructure at the Iranian nuclear weapons production site, to deliver the program-stopping blow, it would have far higher probability of success by using at least one warhead from its own nuclear arsenal.

Should this happen, Israel would earn the condemnation of a grateful world, even as it sustained attacks from a humiliated but militarily rather capable Iran. Fortunately, Iran has few friends, although it has a considerable number of dependents for its oil, and the price shocks in global petroleum markets would far exceed any lasting military conflagration. The United States, Europe, and China have all been harmed economically by recent surges in oil prices, and these were not even comparable in real dollars to the sky-high levels oil attained in the last Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s. With national economies as fragile as they are right now, the price shocks resulting from Iran striking out economically would be devastating; and the American economy would be spared none of the recession-inducing damage, as both businesses and consumers, unable to rapidly re-assemble expenditures away from fossil fuel-dependent lifestyles and production methods, withered under the staggering oil prices.

China is not ruled by stupid men. Its saber-rattling at Taiwan is largely for both domestic consumption and for longer-term positioning with respect to influence in world affairs. Should Taiwan declare its independence, however, China would be presented with the problem of having to follow through with military action consistent with its belligerent words. Although no one knows for sure, Taiwan is part of a nuclear axis that encompasses Israel and other nuclear states, and China would attack Taiwan at the risk of profound destruction visited upon its own cities. This would be especially true if China were to use its overwhelming forces against Taiwan, the classic scenario in which an outgunned nation uses its ultimate force. This possibility leads to the interesting scenario of China choosing, instead of a massive assault, to institute a military blockade of Taiwan.

While the United States for several generations has posed as an ally of the break-away island, its political and economic support of Taiwan has waned in favor of closer ties with the mainland. As the neo-conservatives see it, this is entirely consistent with long-term interests of the United States in the 21st Century, in that the relationship between America and the People's Republic of China will grow into a military alliance that parallels the deep economic alliance the two huge nations already have.

This would, however, run at odds with some hard-line interests in the United States that would see China's attempt to strangle Taiwan as a revival of the Cold War, with a Communist state trying to wreck a democracy. Few in the United States care in any event, and Taiwan's openly committed allies around the world are few. And that puts Taiwan essentially in the same position it would have been in had China attacked with the full force of its military.

If Taiwan does, indeed, have nuclear weapons, it will undoubtedly lay waste to Hong Kong, thereby crippling not just the financial nerve center of China, but arguably one of the critical nodes of global financial trade. While a bit of justice might be seen in the annihilation of the personal banking system of China's corrupt gerontocracy, the consequences on the world's financial markets would be staggering and would touch deep into the pockets of the United States, which has become wholly and almost irrevocably dependent upon the free-flowing loans from China to finance a significant portion of its year-over-year deficits that are funding the neo-conservative transformation of both America and the world outside of America. In that way, then, a small country like Taiwan, either by deliberate calculation or foolhardy bravado, could throttle the money wellspring of the neo-conservative agenda.

But if Taiwan were the only problem that could arise from Chinese ambitions, there would be little to worry about, since a rough stalemate may very well continue for years between the giant and its rebellious province. Perhaps more troubling has been the recent escalation of rhetoric between China and Japan, the heated words coming mostly from China, which is using the pretext of admittedly awful, but nevertheless long-ago, offenses against it by Japan to make for some political mileage at home and some further political leverage at the United Nations. China has no desire to see Japan end up securing a potential new seat at the U.N. Security Council, and it also does not want recent, tentative moves toward re-militarization in Japan to become too serious. However, Japan has considerable economic power, and China could end up suffering severe punishment should Japan elect to quiet the Communist state down with a lesson in how years of China’s printing extraordinary excesses of yuan to peg its exchange rate could come back to haunt it.

If Japan so chose, it could put China in a terrible position from which a military option might appear viable. The United States would then be in an awkward position: under the neo-conservatives, the U.S. has demonstrated consistent inability to achieve diplomatic solutions to crises; thus, it would be forced either to do nothing or to resort once again to its military. In the latter circumstance, it would have to choose between an old, reliable ally in Japan and a new, powerful ally in China. Either option would be highly undesirable. While the United States simply cannot function without the financial help of China, neither can it afford to abandon Japan, which provides no small percentage of the funds that both the public and private sectors in this country borrow every year.

Hence, a stable, if unfriendly, situation between China and Japan will depend upon forces beyond the United States, but the success of those stabilizing interests will impact the American economy to an untold magnitude.

Economic Collapse and a Military Coup
Disturbingly, several years ago a fictional piece about a coup d'état by the United States armed forces was written by a military officer, and that work earned an award conferred by other military personnel. That such a concept would be openly offered by a standing military officer is troubling in and of itself, given the high value placed upon loyalty to civilian commanders by the U.S. military. That the story was honored by other armed forces personnel is of even greater concern; but it comports with other surprising signs of erosion of fealty to civilian command. The 2004 Presidential Election saw a decidedly strong, anti-Bush Administration stance taken on occasion by the Army Times, an unofficial publication widely read by both rank-and-file as well as higher military personnel.

Even though some fringe groups on both the Right and the Left have long warned of an impending military take-over of the U.S. government, among people better grounded in reality, that prospect is far-fetched to the extent of being unimaginable: it has never happened before; in fact, it has never come even close to happening before; therefore, it will never happen.

But the world is different, now. The United States is in the precarious position of running massive federal budget deficits that are funded by a continuing flow of capital that is earned by foreign interests through their imports to the United States. On the surface, this use of foreign investment can be blamed on the low savings rate of Americans, but that is a simplistic and worthless perspective. Essentially, by purchase low-priced imports, Americans actually are saving money, and that money is being deposited in the foreign reserves of other nations, which then—like any bank—lend a sizeable proportion of those funds to borrowers, in this case the federal government of the United States. In lieu of interest on these savings accounts, Americans are realizing compensation through the lower prices they pay for the imports they purchase. They reclaim the principal in these accounts by living in a situation of permanent leverage, both as households and as a nation.

This is how a banking system works, but it does so through heavy, sustained, and highly effective regulation by a central bank, which oversees the solvency and integrity of each and every member bank in the system. On the global scale, no such regulatory mechanism exists either to regulate or to coordinate, so the global system is left to the geographically limited management of nation-states, the weak oversight of such bodies as the G-8, and—most importantly—to the self-interests for profitability and survival of the member central banks in the system.

If this enormously complex structure were unable to manage a destabilizing crisis like one of those summarized above, the U.S. economy would rapidly feel the effects; and to say that they would be dire would be an understatement of grand magnitude. The inability of the United States to secure its borrowing needs at a series of Treasury auctions is unlikely: the Treasury will simply continue as it has recently in forcing the debt instruments off into private hands to handle as they can; but that means of raising capital has its limits, anyway; and if the world capital markets are simply incapable of or unwilling to provide all of the money the government needs, the system will break. The federal government will be forced to slash its budget to an extent that even the neo-conservatives could not abide because of the political backlash against them. The only temporary out they would have is if the Federal Reserve were to start printing money far in excess of the real growth rate of the economy, but this would induce a swift hyperinflation, since the past four years of excess money supply growth has already begun to show up in rising price levels. Boxed in by economic events uncontrollable and by what could turn into wholesale loss of confidence in and possibly rebellious actions by certain political and activist segments within American society, the United States military might have to step in to restore order.

The problematic part of this scenario is not the coup, itself, but the fact that the Pentagon is fully engrossed in the neo-conservative plan for American empire. That would mean the temporary take-over would be marked by something less than unanimity in the domestic military posture, for on one side would be that faction of the military dedicated to operationalizing global plans of neo-conservatism, and on the other side would be the faction that seeks a return to a far more traditional, if less ambitious, American political/military culture. And even though the Pentagon's neo-conservative hawks would rule the day in the short-run, a smooth transition back to civilian control of government would be less than assured as schisms within the armed forces could begin to emerge and disrupt a monolithic posture that would be critical to social stabilization and swift re-establishment of constitutional bindings.

One way or the other, though, the neo-conservative agenda would be ruined as the world's nations unraveled from each other into alliances that did not include the politically crippled and militarily pre-occupied pretender to empire in the United States.

The United States might well be the great empire of the 21st Century. Naysayers and doomsday merchants notwithstanding, the neo-conservative project for the new American century could work, and it could work according to plan. As the United States shifts away from a social services society with emphasis on the production of consumer goods and toward a global power society with emphasis on the production of military/industrial goods, the other nation-states of the Earth could very well assume their roles properly, with Europe following suit to engage a friendly but contentious arms race, with China fully allying itself with the United States to carve up the world into de facto economic colonies, and with none of the minor players having the resources or the wherewithal to commit some grave miscalculation based upon a self-interest that would cause collapse of the world economy and that of the United States.

Twilight scenarios could be just as improbable in reality as they appear in print; and the outcomes of the neo-conservative plans could be just as favorable in reality as they are presented in print.

It remains for the reader, then, to decide which way to believe the future will turn and in so deciding, find comfort or fear in contemplating what lies ahead.

In the gathering night of Empire, the Dark Wraith has spoken.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

David Broder Gets It Wrong

by John

I think David Broder is wrong:

Democractic Senate leadership should agree voluntarily to set aside the continued threat of filibustering the seven Bush appointees to the federal appeals courts who were blocked in the last Congress and whose names have been resubmitted. In return, they should get a renewed promise from the president that he will not bypass the Senate by offering any more recess appointments to the bench and a pledge from Republican Senate leaders to consider each such nominee individually, carefully and with a guarantee of extensive debate in coming months.

First of all, any suggestion of compromise that hinges on the Democrats placing trust in the Republicans not to do something is dead on arrival, in my opinion. The list of instances where this has ended badly for the Democrats is too long to get into now, but it's important to note that the President previously promised he would not get involved in this matter. But it was just two days ago that Cheney entered the fray, saying he'd vote to end the filibuster.

Secondly, Broder's suggestion that the Republican Senate leaders should pledge to "consider nominees individually, carefully and with a guarantee of extensive debate" is silly, because that's precisely what they should have done in the first place. Asking them to do so again only provides them cover for the next time they try to appoint judges that are outside the mainstream.

But it's not just that Broder is wrong, it's that he just doesn't get it:

Instead of sending a message that they do not trust their Republican colleagues' judgment -- and therefore feel justified in preventing a vote -- the Democrats would be saying to their colleagues and the country: We trust you to take your "advise and consent" duties seriously.

To write such a sentence, a person would either have to have been living in a cave for the last five years, or be a dishonest hack. Considering I've seen Broder on the teevee a few times over the last few months, I think the answer is clear. Particularly after this:

And they should feel such trust. The balance of power in the Senate is not in a right-wing cabal; it is in the moderate center. You can see that in the careful way the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is weighing the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. You saw it also in Senate debate on the budget resolution.

This misses the point entirely. The battle over the Senate filibuster is not about Senators having trust in their across the aisle colleagues. Instead, it has everything to do with checking the power and agenda of the Executive Branch. The fact that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee even has to weigh the possibility of John Bolton for UN Ambassador is the real problem. It's about making sure that people with an agenda don't get placed in a position where their agenda becomes our agenda.

(cross posted @ blogenlust)

Justice Sunday

by Pam

Were HIV Positive Foster Kids Used As Guinea Pigs?

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Holy crap -
A potentially big scandal is unfolding in New York City that — if proven true — has serious implications on two fronts.

The two-pronged allegations entail powder-keg charges that the city tested AIDS drugs on foster children and that if a foster parent objected the children were then placed elsewhere.

The New York papers have started breaking this story and if it isn't proven incorrect it could prove to be quite explosive. First, some tidbits from The New York Times:

The city's Administration for Children's Services has hired an outside research firm to investigate allegations that the city inappropriately put foster children into medical trials for AIDS drugs in the 1980's and 1990's and that foster parents who objected to the trials lost custody of the children.

The agency also said it would form a panel of national health care experts to review the findings of the investigation, to be conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York-based nonprofit research group. The agency's commissioner, John B. Mattingly, said he thought that children's services had acted appropriately but that he has asked for the outside investigation to allay concerns raised by some reporters and by a minority advocacy group. Most of the children in the trials were African-American or Hispanic.

"We are taking this step because, while we believe that the policies in place at the time reflected good practice, we acknowledge the need for transparency in all of our dealings with the public," Mr. Mattingly said. "For us to be effective in our mission to protect New York City's children, we must have a sense of mutual trust with those families we seek to serve."

Accusations that the city had allowed babies in foster care who were not perilously ill to be used in medical testing of AIDS drugs were first reported in The New York Post in 2004.

At the time, officials from the agency and from the hospitals where the trials had taken place said they had been legitimately conducted on only foster children dying of AIDS who had no other medical options at the time.

The Times' story gives Mattingly's explanations that nothing untoward happened. Some facts he offers:

The review by the agency staff, he said, determined that about 465 children had taken part in the trials between 1988 and 2001, with most participating before current treatments for AIDS became commonly available. He said that according to the records only two children were removed from foster parents who refused to undergo the trials and that both of those children had serious medical conditions that required treatment.

But Vera Hassner Sharav, the president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection says the agency can't be trusted to in effect investigate itself:

She said that documents filed with the federal government showed that many of the foster children were only presumed to have AIDS. "It's a hell of a thing to give a child toxic drugs when they are only presumed to have AIDS," Ms. Sharav said.

And it doesn't end there.

News-Medical.Net focuses on the outrage and includes these questions raised by New York State Assemblyman Keith Wright:

--Who made the decision to administer the drugs?
--How old were the children, and where were they from?
--Given that this program began in an era when people had yet to fully comprehend the how and why people contracted HIV, were the children made aware of what medications they were taking, and for what they were taking them?
---Given that medical science was not nearly advanced at the time this program began, was sound medical science utilized in administration of these drugs?
--Were the foster or birth parents made aware, and was permission given?

Meanwhile, the AP has lots of info on the controversy and offers this on what comes next:

The review also will examine whether the children fit the medical criteria to be included in the tests and if the enrollments were appropriate given the medical knowledge of the time, according to the ACS.

Mattingly said he did not believe that any children had died from their participation in the research.

He said investigators will try to find as many of the participating children as possible to assess their current medical condition, and the agency will also be reviewing records to see if there were more children who participated.

If you ponder this case, you can see that the key questions (as from the ones Wright raised) are these:

  1. If this indeed happened, what kinds of drugs were tested?
  2. Who ordered them to be tested?
  3. Who specifically got the drugs?
  4. What, if anything, resulted from the drugs? Did the drugs help or hurt these children? If so, specifically, in what ways?
  5. What are the specifics — even if it only occured with one case — regarding any foster parents whose kids were removed because they would not agree to it? What do these foster parents (if they are still around) have to say under oath to investigators? Every effort should be made to locate them.

On a case like this there seem to be several possible outcomes.

It could turn out that this is a case of a group and some elected officials making allegations that prove to be overblown. Credibility is like oil in a well. Once removed, you can't put more back in.

Or it could turn out that for some 20 years foster kids were used as human guinea pigs and pulled out of homes where their foster parents wouldn't agree. The argument will then be made that the intentions weren't bad and that if the drugs succeeded millions of lives could be saved. But if the allegations are proven true then those arguments, we are sure, will tested extensively by some lawyers who could become quite rich.

Gay news roundup and incredible sh*t over at DKos

by Pam

UPDATE (8 PM): I'm moving the DKos stuff up to the top, because it's getting to me. What on earth possessed him to do this?

There is an ad appearing in the classified section of Daily Kos that is unfortunately real...(I took a screenshot it case it "disappears"). I've just gotten confirmation that BlogAds classifieds are indeed reviewed by the site owner and approved to run. There is no reason than Kos could have "missed" this; he chose to accept the money and run the ad. The almighty dollar cannot be worth shilling for a wingnut outfit, this vendor is called ShopMetrospy:

Looking up this outfit, I found this information:
METROSPY, based in San Bernardino, CA is a designer and marketer of politically conservative apparel, gifts and accessories. The company"s target consumers are the growing number of young Republican conservatives ages 18 - 35. MetroSpy markets t-shirts, jackets and caps printed with edgy, often controversial political slogans. The company has recently added posters, wristbands and key chains to its product mix. MetroSpy currently employs 7 full and part time employees with annual sales of $500,000.
There's plenty more garbage on its web site, but I'm not providing a link to it here. Someone over at DKos needs to explain this sh*t pronto.

[UPDATE]: Shakes Sis comments on her blog with the following:
I don’t know whether Kos has to approve the ads that go on his site or not, but surely by now he or one of his writers has seen it. Is Kos’ opinion that money from his ads is worth more than preventing homophobic sentiments from running on the biggest Lefty site? Does this have anything to do with Kos’ curious assertion that gays “might or might not qualify for ‘minority’ status”?

This is pretty discouraging, I have to say. Although there’s some satisfaction to be gained knowing that a company like this is helping pay for Daily Kos, that the content of its ad includes what can only be described as a thinly veiled threat against gays (or was that odd juxtaposition between killing bugs and the rights of gay men just coincidence?) surely warrants its deletion.

I certainly hope that the ad is removed from the site.
I wrote Kos a few minutes ago (like I expect a response, but whatever -- I fear the big lefty blogosphere will circle the wagons on this one):

Why on earth are you running a classified ad for [Metrospy's link]?

The text is profoundly offensive: "We don't have a problem with gays. They should have all the same rights as heterosexual men. They should be allowed to marry the woman of their choice."

I understand you need to pay for the site, but damn, don't you have standards? It's painful to see something like that running on a progressive site.



Back to the news roundup...

This has been a tough week for the homos. We've gotten good news and bad news, but we're still here and we won't be quiet.

The Good

* Connecticut passes civil unions. The state became the first to legalize civil unions for gay couples without the prodding of a court. The State Senate voted 26-8 in favor of establishing civil unions giving same-sex couples all of the rights afforded married couples under state law, such as inheritance and hospital visitation. The law takes effect on Oct. 1.

* Spain nears approval of gay marriage. The bill, which also will pave the way for gay couples to adopt children, will now go to the Senate — where the Socialists have ample support — for final approval. Belgium and the Netherlands are the only two other European countries that have legalized gay marriages. Representatives of gay and lesbian groups cheered and applauded from the chamber's public gallery when the vote result was read out. The bill passed by a 183-136 vote, with six abstentions. Pope Ratz went apeshit and delivered his response via one of his homophobe lackeys.

* Virginia ordered to honor gay adoptions.The Virginia Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state must provide new birth certificates for children born in Virginia and adopted by gay couples in other states. The 5-to-2 ruling overturned a lower court's decision that the state is not required to issue new birth certificates for such children. The case was brought by three same-sex couples denied birth certificates for their adoptive children. The issue is co-adoption legal in some states but illegal in Virginia. Although it permits single gays and lesbians to adopt, Virginia does not recognize same-sex unions.

* Equality Forum in Philly will make the wingnuts crazy. The huge celebration,will commemorate 40 years of the gay rights movement on May 1. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has approved a historical marker recognizing the area around Independence Hall as the site of the first organized and annual gay and lesbian civil rights demonstration. Fred Phelps will be going to demonstrate and has challenged Barney Frank to a debate on homos.

* Colorado gay rights bill moves forward. Legislation to make discrimination against members of Colorado's LGBT community passed the first of two Senate votes Thursday night. Going into the session it was unclear if the bill would have enough votes to carry, but the clincher came when Sen. Abel Tapia made a personal appeal, telling the chamber about the bias experienced by his own gay son. "Until you have that in your family and it affects you directly, don't be talking about 'abomination,' because I don't believe that's true," Tapia said.

* L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center asked Microsoft to give back its civil rights award. "Because of Microsoft's apparent capitulation to the demands of anti-gay extremists and withdrawal of support for a bill that would do nothing more than protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination, we believe it's no longer worthy of our highest corporate honor" -- Darrel Cummings, chief of staff for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.

The Bad and the Ugly

* Microsoft tosses gays overboard by withdrawing support for an anti-discrimination bill in Washington state. It would have banned discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and insurance -- and it failed by one vote Thursday in the state Senate. "We have exposed bigotry and prejudice," said Rep. Ed Murray, an openly gay Democrat from Seattle. "We didn't win today, but we will win." AMERICABlog has had extensive coverage of the damnable behavior by the $30 billion company, which you should read. Blend posts are here, here, here, and here. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, released a lame email to attempt some butt-covering, but it's pathetically bad: "Ballmer said that personally, both be and Chairman Bill Gates supported the gay-rights bill. "But that is my personal view, and I also know that many employees and shareholders would not agree with me." he wrote."

* GOP Threatens DC Mayor Over Gay Marriage. Republicans in Congress have issued a veiled threat to DC mayor Anthony Williams that if his administration recognizes same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts or Canada the District could face a battle over funding. Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) issued the warning after D.C. Attorney General Robert J. Spagnoletti issued a legal yesterday that legally married gay couples could file joint city tax returns. Williams told the Post that the D.C government "will have a decision soon" but declined to say whether the District would recognize same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts or Canada.

* Alabama wants to ban any texts that "promotes" homosexuality. Never mind this is a completely subjective measure, but the dumbasses lawmakers considered a bill aimed at keeping books tolerant of homosexuality out of public schools. A despondent lesbian activist, Patricia Todd, told a House committee: "I feel you all hate us."

* Navajo outlaw gay marriage. The Tribal Council voted unanimously in favor of legislation that restricts a recognized union to that between a man and a woman, and prohibits plural marriages as well as marriages between close relatives. Critics have said the measure's sponsor, Del. Larry Anderson, was attempting to rewrite cultural history to parallel the clash across the United States between conservative Christians and gay rights activists.

* Texas wants to bar gays from being foster parents. The Lone Star State could become the only state to bar gays from becoming foster parents under legislation passed by its House. It passed 135-6 with two abstentions and now heads to the Senate. "It is our responsibility to make sure that we protect our most vulnerable children, and I don't think we are doing that if we allow a foster parent that is homosexual or bisexual," said Republican Rep. Robert Talton, who introduced the amendment.

More on Microsoft

by Shakespeare's Sister

There’s a lot of discussion going on in the blogosphere right now (see here for a start) about the reaction to Microsoft’s decision to “remain neutral” on the gay rights bill in Washington state. There are those who believe that after Microsoft has done a lot of good things for the LGBT community, a backlash over their position on a single piece of legislation is unfounded.

They are, however, wrong. And here’s why.

First, quite simply, I believe that if there were a piece of legislation proposing the rescinding of protections for people of color, or women, or people with disabilities, and Microsoft remained neutral, there would be no criticism of those who reacted with horror.

Secondly, regarding Microsoft’s assertion that they must respect the views of their religious employees and shareholders, the legislation itself was an anti-discrimination bill, which should not be controversial by any stretch of the imagination. Irrespective of one’s views on whether homosexuality is right or wrong, there’s no religious precedent for this type of discrimination. (I don’t see a national movement for adulterers, compulsive gamblers, inveterate liars, etc. to be denied equal employment, housing, or other opportunities, and I’m sure that has nothing to do with the fact that such legislation would discriminate against the majority of the members of GOP’s top echelon.) A basic understanding of the tenets of every major religion will easily confirm this contention—allegedly religious justifications for the continuation of slavery and the prohibition of interracial relationships were similarly rejected.

Thirdly, in response to those who suggest that social activism isn’t the responsibility of corporations, I would remind them that any time a corporation (or group of corporations) lobbies Congress for something like deregulation on pollutants or stricter bankruptcy laws, or against family leave or universal healthcare, that is social activism. Corporations are collectively one of the primary social activists in this country; it's just that they tend to be pro-corporate and anti-society. The redistribution of taxation is a primary example of that of which I speak. A century ago, the vast majority of federal taxes were paid by corporations; now the vast majority is paid by individuals. That is a massive societal shift. We didn't lobby for that—corporations did. And, as a matter of fact, corporations are currently engaged in a comprehensive lobbying effort against the eradication of the filibuster:
The country's leading business lobbying associations, close GOP allies in recent legislative efforts and political campaigns, have told senior Republicans that they would not back the Frist initiative to force votes on President Bush's judicial nominees.

Business leaders say they fear the move would lead to a shutdown of Senate action on long-awaited priorities…
Even as the dominionists have their panties all in a bunch with excitement over the nuclear option, which is itself social activism of the highest order, Big Business is busily trying to thwart it because they believe it will be bad for business. Corporate America is constantly engaging in social activism; whether one agrees or disagrees with their involvement in our legislative process is another issue altogether. The point remains that suggesting social activism isn’t the obligation of corporations ignores their decidedly eager participation as social activists on a regular basis.

Finally, should a community whose support Microsoft used (rather effectively) as a marketing tool not have a reasonable expectation to receive continued support in return? Of course the LGBT employees of Microsoft were given great benefits by the company, but every member of the community was used in Microsoft’s not-so-subtle marketing campaign to position itself as a progressive company, which was used in no small manner to both attract the best and the brightest from that very community as employees and the LGBT community as consumers—not a small market share when you consider their disproportionate representation in creative fields utilizing cutting edge technology. One might fairly note that the relationship between Microsoft and the LGBT community has been a mutually beneficial one—Microsoft was able to promote its progressive ideals on social issues concerning the community, and in return, members of the community were offered benefits (if employed by Microsoft) and the hope that other corporations would follow the monolithic Microsoft’s leads (if employed elsewhere).

If the LGBT community and their supporters don't vociferously stand up to those who would throw gays to the wolves for political expediency, it's likely to happen with increasing frequency. Most corporations are not as gay-friendly as Microsoft. If they see Microsoft taking the lead on abandoning gay issues without any notable backlash, what hope does the LGBT community have that the good things Microsoft has done, in terms of partner benefits, etc., will ever be extended by companies who have not already started down that road?

When Microsoft first decided to use its progressive policies as a marketing tool, they took on a responsibility to the LGBT community and an obligation to protect them against discriminatory legislation. When the richest corporation in the world takes you dinner then sticks you with the bill, you have a right to get angry.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Note to Pope Ratz: it's all about the coverup

by Pam

More in common than we ever thought.

Pope Ratz had no problem covering up for the pedophile priests in the faithful flock's midst; didn't he learn anything from a famous former U.S. president that the coverup is as bad as the crime itself? Wait, in the Catholic church's case, the actual events in question -- the sexual abuse of countless minors at the hands of spiritual and moral leaders of houses of worship -- are beyond the pale. This particular obstruction of justice makes Tricky Dick and his partners in crime look like choirboys. (Guardian):
Pope Benedict XVI faced claims last night he had 'obstructed justice' after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret. The order was made in a confidential letter, obtained by The Observer, which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001.

...The letter, 'concerning very grave sins', was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that once presided over the Inquisition and was overseen by Ratzinger. It spells out to bishops the church's position on a number of matters ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric 'with a minor below the age of 18 years'. Ratzinger's letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been 'perpetrated with a minor by a cleric'. The letter states that the church's jurisdiction 'begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age' and lasts for 10 years.

It orders that 'preliminary investigations' into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger's office, which has the option of referring them back to private tribunals in which the 'functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests'.

'Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,' Ratzinger's letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.
Does the Pope have someone to break arms and bash kneecaps too? Not only is this thinking diseased and immoral, it is incredibly arrogant. The desire to hide the crimes is indicative of the admission of the gravity of the situation. Why was this man elevated, and why is the broadcast media participating in the pageantry and image-making of this Pope when it should be doing its job of reporting?


A reader over at my blog noted in the comments that the above headline also applies to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. He has been rushing to paper over his company's cowardly, politically motivated withdrawal of support for an enti-discrimination bill in Washington state this week.

It's too late Steve, your company messed with the wrong crowd; the coverup is just pathetic mewling.

Happy Justice Sunday!

by Shakespeare's Sister

On June 14, 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill that added two words to the US Pledge of Allegiance: under God. Ever since, there has been a debate about adding those two words to what was designed to be a secular oath to the country. Today, however, I’m not concerned with those two words; I’m concerned about the other two words that are slowly being erased from the Pledge by those who are, in part, the architects of Justice Sunday. On Justice Sunday, I would like to remind those involved that when we pledge our alliance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, we are pledging to fight for liberty and justice for all.

Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith, a live nationwide television simulcast hosted by FRC Action, the legislative arm of Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family Action, will make its way into 61 million households in 44 states today.

We have had an amazing response because people of faith are realizing that actions in Washington have a direct impact on their lives in the heartland," said Tony Perkins President of FRC Action.


"This is not about faith, but a debate and fairness for people of faith, any faith."
Except, of course, people of faith, any faith, who believe in a strict separation of church and state, who believe that God endowed humans with free will and the right to choose one’s own path, who believe in the equality of all people, who believe that homosexuality is not wrong, who believe that even if homosexuality is wrong homosexuals still deserve equal protection and rights under the law, who believe that women have the right for final decisions over their bodies, who believe that sex can have other purposes aside from procreation, who believe that victims of rape and incest should have legal solutions to end pregnancies that may result, who believe that we live in a country that is meant to protect the religious freedom of people who practice all religious and people who choose not to practice religion at all, and who disagree with the limited, oppressive viewpoints espoused by Perkins and his ilk.

For all.

Faithful liberals and secular people of any political persuasion are not of concern to the perpetrators of a cynical maneuver like Justice Sunday, who have conveniently ignored the 95% of Bush’s judicial appointments already approved. The remaining 5% are not interested in championing justice for all, which is exactly why the dominionists behind Justice Sunday are so keen to create a furor over their blocked appointments.

For all means nothing to them, and nothing to their supporters, but it does mean something to me. To that end, here is my protest, and my solemn vow:

On Justice Sunday, I vow to passionately pursue true justice for all. I will fight for the rights of the oppressed and minorities. I will fight for people of every race, creed, color, ability, sexuality, gender, religion or lack thereof, class, and political affiliation to have a voice and a place in our democratic process, guided by the principle my rights end where yours begin. I will fight for an honest national discourse. And I will not be deterred by those who claim to have cornered the market on faith. I acknowledge the potential for goodness and wickedness in all people, and I will not bow to those who seek to harm any of my fellow Americans for any reason, even if they come carrying a cross and wrapped in a flag. The stars and stripes represent us all, and my voice will be heard. For all.

That flag, and all it stands for, represents a struggle for freedom, for equality, for the rights of all, and I’m taking it back. It’s my fucking flag, too, and it doesn’t belong in the hands of those who would ignore the two most important words in the oath which we use to pledge our allegiance to that for which it stands. Liberty and justice for all.

I believe in those words. To those who support Justice Sunday: do you?

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Grave Sinner

by John

Caption this.


(via AP)

(x posted @ blogenlust)

Let's Answer John's Question...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Great post from Julien's List guest contributor "'Bean" in response to the many, many excellent posts on AmericaBlog about the Microsoft betrayal (there are too many to post here - just follow the AmericaBlog link above and you can see them all).

John - to respond to your question . . . .

I think Ohio is their final goal.

Ohio seems to be their giant "test market" for their agenda: remember the discussions here regarding how Ohio is changing starting here over a year ago?

What does my theory mean? What if the nation is to become Ohio?

It means:

(1) No Darwin in the public schools - their Great Maker (even as they themselves made that maker bereft of it's Catholic and Jewish roots; they embrace a tradition of their own making) made the world.

Science "proves" it, or so they argue. So Ohio took science out of science class. Who needs science when Jeeeezzuzz tells ya?

(2) No gays welcome - their 2002 changes to the Ohio Revised Code and the 2004 changes to The Ohio Constitution (the most Draconian in the USA) prove this attitude.

(3) No Non-Christians welcome. In Ohio, the city, county, and state offices show overt expressions of Christianity; especially when Christmas and Easter come to pass. Nobody else gets to express their religious sentiments - just the Friends of Ken Blackwell and the Ohio Restoration Project. Jews, Buddhists, etc. need not apply: they have no rights.

(4) Massive tax breaks for business in the name of "job growth." Given Ohio has lost the most jobs under Bush, that means, in reality, massive tax breaks for business in the name of moving that business to China or India.

(4 1/2) Massive "relaxation" in environmental rules - more breaks for business in the name of "job growth." Given Ohio has STILL lost the most jobs under Bush, that means, in reality, massive tax breaks for business in the name of moving that business to Mexico - so the business owners can argue the regulations in Ohio are still not sufficiently "relaxed."

(5) Higher unemployment. See 4 and 4 1/2.

(6) Higher gas prices.

(7) "Job retraining" to work at McDonalds.

(8) Faith-based anything and everything. Faith-based urination will shortly be mandated in bars (just kidding - I hope).

Which leads me to the following conclusion: WE ARE SCREWED

As the economy and social fabric (that "social fabric" was, after all, once provided by the government) decline, we will become the source of the blame.

We want science in place of faith because we are immoral secularists - as dictated by our homosexual practices.

We are greedy, single yuppies wanting high returns on our investments (all gays are well-to-do: ever watch 'Will and Grace?'): it is our fault companies are divesting of better paying jobs here to feed our hungry, bottomless portfolios.

We are ridden with AIDS, syphilis, and other illnesses brought about by our practices. Even Andrew Sullivan (bare-backing studfucker he is) will take blame because it's our drain on Medicare/Medicaid that is putting our "system in crisis."

Sure - this is hyperbole: but my point is I am reflecting John's comment back.

We *WILL* be blamed for everything. We will be blamed for we already *ARE* being blamed for everything.

I've been pushing the idea (very, *VERY* hard) that those of us on the progressive side of things need to move to Blue States *PRONTO*. If needed, we need to get help from our friends already in blue states to get the "Red Refugees" among us to blue havens, too.

Why have I been arguing that the "Red Refugees" need to relocate Blue?

Because the Microsoft event proves what I have suspected all along.

What I have suspected is: (1) the red-states are utterly past redemption at this point.

(2) the Blue States are under heavy assault and need *ALL* the help they can get.

What more evidence do you want now that our own long-time supporter has turned-tail???

In the short term, I have an even greater concern for those in Red States.

That concern is overt violence against gay-lesbian folk from far-right Christian radicals; the types who used to burn crosses and hang blacks.

Given such people are only one step away from power in many Red States, I expect to see murder, in the "Name of Jeeeezuz and Christianity" go unpunished because the murderer's friends sit in government and the courts.


Possibly as early as this summer; summer seems to be the time for that kind of behavior (think "race riots" of the 1960s - but this time, we're the targets).

Just my two cents worth . . . .


Saturday, April 23, 2005

Ken's new Barbie

by Pam

Another bit of political P'shop brilliance from Mike Tidmus...

Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Pastor Ken Hutcherson.

I love Mike's headline - "Looks like Papa’s gotta brand new hag!" It's the damn truth. Check it out, especially the link to Operation Rebirth, a site dedicated to monitoring black churches with hostile positions on gay rights.

From the essay "Has the Black Church Failed the Same Gender Loving Community?" by Tuan N' Gai of Biazo Ministries:
Instead of giving us an atmosphere of affirmation, we are more often than not treated with hostility. We need to know that the same God that loved and brought "Big Mama" thus far is the same God that loves us and is carrying us through our tough times. We need to know that the same Bible that's being used to beat and bash our heads in, has words of comfort, encouragement, and inspiration for us. The same Word of God that most of the preachers of today use to kill us speaks to our many dilemmas and gives us victory over our issues, just like it does for everyone else.

So, HAS the Black Church failed the Black Same Gender Loving Community? In the ways that really matter…YES. The purpose of the church is to show the love of God to ALL people. The church's JOB is to behave like the Bible says Jesus did. He walked and taught unconditional love, and received whoever would follow Him. Instead, the church has become this elitist religious social club that it's become. Some have gone so far as to start HIV/AIDS ministries that offer testing and counseling. And that's a very good thing…FOR THEM! They stand to get hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate these "ministries". But what good does it do when they preach and teach that God hates the ones they are testing?

What's the Same Gender Loving Christian to do? I suggest seeking more affirming spiritual homes of worship where the TRUE love of God is being taught and displayed. There are churches out there that are not prejudiced. Churches that provide a safe place of worship for EVERYONE. Seek them out. We need to start supporting those who support us. Lend our gifts and talents to those who will in return nurture and edify us spiritually. We must empower ourselves, and stop giving our all to organizations that in their ignorance have proven to have failed us.
The site is a great resource for locating affirming churches and has a feature called "Is This Your Pastor," featuring reviews of recent anti-gay sermons, articles and books from pastors throughout the U.S.

Just a sample homophobic quote from a sermon:

"That's why you can't even walk right when you doin' that stuff. You hurtin' 'cause it ain't natural."
-- Bishop Paul Morton, God vs Gays

Don't forget to grab and use Mike's great Microsoft "Powered by Bigotry" logo.

What makes a woman?

by Lanoire

According to the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2005 (Senate Bill 51 and House Bill 356, if you're curious), it's the ova and the uterus and nothing else. The Act, which has been criticized for its possible effects on abortion law, has been referred to committee in both the House and the Senate. It contains this excellent definition:

WOMAN- The term `woman' means a female human being who is capable of becoming pregnant, whether or not she has reached the age of majority.

This definition of 'woman' was considered appropriate by both House and Senate. There are several interesting implications to this:

A. A female human being who is not capable of becoming pregnant does not qualify as a woman under this definition.

B. This definition implies that a woman is not, as any dictionary will tell you, an 'adult female human.' A thirteen-year-old female child is a woman if she has reached puberty. Fertility is the sole measure of womanhood, not maturity and the capacity to make one's own decisions.

C. This definition could be used in other laws if this bill is passed and signed.

All of this reminds me of the definition of 'woman' in Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale, wherein infertile women were considered Unwomen.

(crossposted to Looking at the Stars)

Sin Alert!

by John

Jeb Bush will be the head of the US delegation at Pope Benedict XVI's inauguration on Sunday, and by the standards of the new pope, I'd like to condemn Jeb's participation in the Holy Communion.

Afterall, a Catholic politician consistently campaigning for capital punishment and unjust wars is guilty of grave sins. Any priest, including the pope, that might be confronted with such a politician must refuse to distribute Holy Communion. And it should go without saying, that any Catholic who votes specifically for such a politician because he or she holds a pro-capital punishment or pro-war position would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion.

So, go ahead and contact the Most Reverend John H. Ricard, S.S.J, the Fourth Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, and demand him to uphold the standards of the Holy Father by denying Jeb Bush Holy Communion until he eliminates the death penalty, and denounces the war in Iraq.

Better yet, email Pope Benedict XVI and kindly ask him to deny communion to Governor Bush until he stops participating in such grave sins.

(cross posted @ blogenlust)

Naming Names...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

The tone of our country does make one think about the McCarthy era - and I am so sorry to think that those young enough not to remember it personally (including myself, at age 37), will most likely see - sooner than we think - family members literally pitted against family members.

Remember, those of you who say what they are doing to the "gay community" doesn't affect you ... if they can get into our bedrooms and personal lives, they will come after YOURS next. Complacency and apathy will be your biggest enemies, moderates - NOT the gay community.

Ms. Julien

'Ex-gay' quack reinstated on health care advisory panel

by Pam

Throckmorton says his reinstatement at Magellan confirms support for his contention that gays and lesbians can become 'ex-gay' with recommended 'therapies.'

Lest anyone doubt the power of social activism, here's another case of the Religious Reich having an effect -- they've forced the reversal of a decision by the country's largest mental health management company, Magellan Health Services, to boot 'ex-gay' advocate Dr. Warren Throckmorton from its advisory board.

The AmTaliban marshalled its forces to make hundreds of phone calls and e-mail messages Magellan received from bible-beaters, employers, and 'ex-gays' to put pressure on the company. The end result, of course, is that now he feels vindicated and that his policies have merit in the eyes of the general public. From the wingnut propaganda organ AgapePress:
In February, Dr. Warren Throckmorton, Ph.D., was dismissed from his advisory position with Magellan Health Services, the largest mental health management company in the United States. His dismissal came about due to his views concerning sexual orientation and change -- specifically, his belief that homosexuals have the ability to leave that lifestyle and the right to seek help in doing so.

...The upshot of all that has happened, the psychologist says, "is that a very positive statement has come out of this from the company -- that a person has a right to explore a variety of therapies when they're grappling with sexual orientation issues."

...He believes this change of heart sends a message to those the mental health organization exists to serve -- particularly those who struggle with unwanted sexual feelings.

"I do think that it's a great support for people who have changed," Throckmorton says, "and for people who have often been told that they don't exist. Here's a company saying that people in that position have a right to choose that kind of approach if that's what they desire." The professor is pleased with Magellan's decision to invite him back on its advisory panel and notes, "This is a good move to get the focus back on providing quality mental health management."
These are mental health professionals? This therapy is not about medical science.

The list of resources on Throckmorton's web site is a laughable one, containing the usual quack suspects -- fundamentalist/evangelical ministries: Exodus Youth, New Direction for Life, Regeneration, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays. 'Ex-Gay' mill Regeneration, for example, is religious program endorsed by James Dobson and Chuck Colson.

Wayne Besen's excellent Anything But Straight exposed the hypocrisy, scandal and lies perpetuated by these ministries, including details on a professed "cured" leader of the movement photographed by the author cruising in a gay bar. Two of the founders of Exodus, Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee, actually fell in love, divorced their wives, and eventually held a commitment ceremony.

Read earlier posts on this 'ex-gay' nonsense:

* "Ex-Gay" and in absolute denial. A post on two articles forwarded to the Blend published in Christianity Today that were deeply disturbing. Both involve people that have felt such self-loathing about their sexual orientation that they have created tortured arguments about what is to blame, and what is the solution. These folks have experienced dysfunction in their families or were in the grips of addictions that overwhelmed them, but they point the finger at their orientation as the root cause or an outgrowth of their negative emotional experiences.

* Head of Mormon church: "Gays have a problem". The Mormons don't want you to know that they have unfortunately played a role in practice of "reparative aversion therapy" to rid gay Mormons of their homosexual orientation.

* Crisis line refers gay youth to discredited Exodus "Ex-Gay" ministry. If you're a teen, scared and calling a hotline for support in coming out, here's where you don't want to call. The Right is now using subterfuge to reach out to vulnerable gay people with the "condemnation and conversion" approach, steering them to the discredited "ex-gay" ministry Exodus International

* An "ex-gay" ministry in my own back yard.... I had no idea about this local (Raleigh) crap ministry, Beyond Imagination. It's Exodus-affiliated as well.

* 'Ex-gay' leader expelled from counseling group. Richard Cohen, president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (P-FOX), has been booted out of the American Counseling Association for unethical conduct.

* 'Ex-Gay' & 'Everstraight' Student Clubs promoted at schools. P-FOX is attempting to counter gay-straight alliances with this crap. "The purpose of an ex-gay & everstraight club is to provide a safe environment for all students to discuss alternatives to homosexuality and find ex-gay resources. Clubs can be started by students who have never been gay (everstraights), ex-gay students, and those struggling with unwanted same sex attraction."

The brass balls of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center

by Pam

"Because of Microsoft's apparent capitulation to the demands of anti-gay extremists and withdrawal of support for a bill that would do nothing more than protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination, we believe it's no longer worthy of our highest corporate honor,"
--Darrel Cummings, chief of staff for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, said in a statement released Friday.

(via AMERICABlog): I want the Democratic Party to see what brass ones look like -- they need to grow some. This pair goes to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, which asked Microsoft to give back its civil rights award. The $30 billion company earned its award four years ago because it offered benefits to same-sex couples since the early 1990s. The goodwill was blasted away by the Redmond-based computer behemoth when it withdrew its support of a bill that would have outlawed discrimination against gays and lesbians in Washington State.

The bill failed by one freaking vote.

NOTE: The initial thought was that, as improbable as it may seem, an unknown outside WA wingnut preacher rolled MS with a threatened boycott. At this stage in the political game, wingnuttery has been known to roll more than a few politicians and companies. Another interesting and plausible theory, promoted by Chris Patil of Marching Orders, is that the company's a 2.2 million square foot expansion plans required support by senators, and MS bought off their support by going "neutral" on the rights bill:
It never seemed right that Microsoft, which has been decorated by LGBT organizations for its support of gay rights in the workplace and in society at large (link mine: Waveflux), would have reversed itself because of hassling by one ornery preacher - if that were how it worked, and individuals had that much power over the corporate giant, Bill would have fixed the security holes in Windows a long time ago.

What if the conservative preacher was a red herring, and instead, Microsoft bargained away its support for the gay rights bill in exchange for the future support of key Senators for the expansion project?

The bargaining could have occurred either actively on Microsoft's part (e.g., Microsoft approaches socially conservative opponents of the expansion and offers them a trade) or less voluntarily (i.e., social conservatives approach Microsoft and make them an offer they can't refuse, threatening opposition of the expansion project unless Microsoft pulls support for gay rights legislation).
This makes sense, but MS still has it's softies in a vise because Brad Smith, Microsoft's top attorney, admitted to Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, the bill's openly gay sponsor, that the company was feeling pressure from Rev. Hutcherson and was concerned about how Christian employees might react if it supported the bill.

In either case, the damage is done. I hope the Microsofties sleep well at night, knowing they just tossed gay rights overboard.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Why is Hugh Hewitt Taken Seriously?

by John

Do people actually take Hugh Hewitt seriously?

I see losses for Senators Chaffee and Snowe if they desert on the filibuster because I read my mail and get calls from across the country every day--mail and calls that are flowing in from serious supporters and contributors to the GOP and enthusiastic participants in the Bush-led victories of 2000, 2002, and 2004. Not only are they dismayed with the dithering of GOP senators, they are not willing to sidestep battles over first principles, especially when they understand that underlying the filibuster argument is an effort by the left to define "mainstream" to exclude the very center of American tradition and politics.

There's that all powerful Left I keep hearing about. It's amazing how much power they have when they don't control the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branch of the government. Imagine what they could do if they actually won elections!

Unfortunately, Hewitt keeps going:

Understand that Senate Democrats will certainly define every faithful adherent to Benedict XVI's teachings as "outside of the mainstream," just as they have defined Focus on the Family's James Dobson as "outside the mainstream," a laughable indeed risible assertion for anyone with even a surface knowledge of American religious practice or Focus' reach here and abroad. This amazing transformation of the party that once represented devout immigrant Catholics by the tens of millions is astonishing and troubling. It is not acceptable to most Americans to be defined as "outside of the mainstream," and the GOP is defending much more than its judicial nominees when it engages in this battle.

Interesting that Hewitt juxtaposes Pope Benedict XVI and Focus on the Family, particularly in light of this:

Salazar responded Thursday with a terse letter to Dobson. In it, he defended Senate colleagues of various faiths, and he called on Dobson to repudiate a Focus board member who once referred to Catholicism as "a false church."

The board member, R. Albert Mohler Jr., said Thursday he stands by the comments he made in March 2000 on the cable news show Larry King Live.

"I believe that the Roman church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel," Mohler said at the time. "And indeed, I believe that the pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office."

In other words, the world's 1.1 billion Catholics are fools, and a group of religious extremists in Colorado the Senate Democrats define the mainstream.

Again, do people really take Hewitt seriously?

Bolton will never be 'Boss of the Year'

by Pam

The Chimperor urged the Senate to 'put aside politics' and confirm "Massa" John Bolton to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Bush opened a speech about his Social Security plans with a personal plea on behalf of the marginally sane Bolton, whose nomination is in doubt due to allegations of abusive behavior the White House says are being trumped up by Democrats. (Jason Reed/Reuters).

"Brusque, arrogant, abusive." One of the relevent reasons people think John Bolton isn't qualified to be an ambassador to the United Nations is that he's a freaking psycho embarrassment. Everyone at one time or another has worked for a bastard like him or knew someone equally unhinged in the workplace. It's good to see these type-A blowhards exposed for what they are. Results matter, but creating a culture of fear in the workplace is not the best motivator -- it certainly isn't on the international diplomatic stage. (USA Today) :
Carl Ford, the former chief of intelligence and research at the State Department, told the committee Bolton was a "serial abuser" of low-level employees and a "quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy." Melody Townsel, a businesswoman working on a government contract in Moscow in 1994, said Bolton, sent to persuade her to withdraw a complaint about lack of funds, threw a tape dispenser at her and made remarks about her weight and sexual orientation.
or how about these management techniques...
"Mr Bolton chased me through the halls of a Russian hotel, throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and genuinely behaving like a madman," she wrote.

"Mr Bolton then routinely visited me to pound on the door and shout threats."
I don't know what part of that is "trumped up," Chimpy, but then maybe you like it when Daddy Cheney gives you a little discipline.

Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar blasts Focus on the Family

by Pam

• "I think that the way Focus on the Family and the conservative right wing is attempting to take the country will threaten the basic cornerstone of our freedom."
- Sen. Ken Salazar, who says evangelical Christian leaders are trying to turn the U.S. into a theocracy

• "This is not about Catholicism. This is about an effort in the Senate to block people of faith and also people with conservative views. It's not just those with Christian views."
- R. Albert Mohler Jr., of James Dobson's Focus on the Family on Salazar's criticism of the group
Things are heating up as Justice Sunday approaches. It's getting really ugly; it's like something out of a bad movie at this point. (RockyMountainNews): has escalated into a brawl in which the sides are trading shots over whether the U.S. Senate is anti-Christian and whether Focus on the Family is anti-Catholic.

A political arm of the Colorado Springs-based ministry has mounted an aggressive ad campaign against Salazar and senators from 15 states. It is pressuring them to scrap filibuster rules that have allowed Democrats to block a handful of controversial judicial nominations.

Salazar, a Democrat and lifelong Catholic, blasted the ads on Wednesday, saying Focus on the Family was "hijacking" Christianity and becoming an appendage of the Republican Party. The ministry reaches millions of evangelical Christians through the leadership of its founder, James Dobson.

"I think the kind of attack that is being used against (Democratic senators) and against me has the potential of moving our country to abandoning the freedom of worship which we enjoy in this country, and moving toward the creation of a theocracy," Salazar said.

After his first verbal barrage on Wednesday, a Focus on the Family spokesman said Salazar was aligning himself with Democratic senators who allegedly showed an anti-Catholic bias in rejecting one of the appeals court nominees, former Alabama attorney general William Pryor.

Salazar responded Thursday with a terse letter to Dobson. In it, he defended Senate colleagues of various faiths, and he called on Dobson to repudiate a Focus board member who once referred to Catholicism as "a false church."

The board member, R. Albert Mohler Jr., said Thursday he stands by the comments he made in March 2000 on the cable news show Larry King Live. "I believe that the Roman church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel," Mohler said at the time. "And indeed, I believe that the pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office."

Pope Ratz is right out of the gate slamming gays

by Pam

The Pope's family policy buttboy Cardinal Trujillo says the possibility of gay marriage in Spain is "profoundly iniquitous." For those Freepi and trolls out there, the word means "wicked because it is believed to be a sin." (Pope Ratz photo illustration by "evilgenius" Doug at Reality Stick).

Friends and colleagues said the world had yet to see the warmer side of a man who has been dubbed in the Italian press as the "panzer cardinal" and "God's Rottweiler." "You will see that his personality will surprise many, a great many people. It will surprise them because of this slightly caricature-like image that people have of the cardinal he was."
-- Spanish Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo
Just as the Vatican was spinning to the world that we would see his soft side, out comes this hotheaded gay-bashing commentary from Ratz's lackey, following Spain's move to legalize gay marriage. (BBC):
Pope Benedict XVI has responded firmly to the first challenge of his papacy by condemning a Spanish government bill allowing marriage between homosexuals. The bill, passed by parliament's Socialist-dominated lower house, also allows gay couples to adopt.

The head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council on the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, denounced the legislation as profoundly iniquitous.

Interviewed in the Italian newspaper, Corriere de la Serra, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo said the Church was making an urgent call for freedom of conscience for Roman Catholics and appealing to them to resist the law. He said every profession linked with implementing homosexual marriages should oppose it, even if it meant losing their jobs. The cardinal insisted that just because something was made law it did not make it right.
Let's see, might some of the following be described as iniquitous? A church that:
* covered up for pedophiles in the priesthood
* has a former member of the Hitler Youth as a Pope
* has a record of past coziness with Nazis -- Ratzinger's spiritual mentor, Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber dined with the Führer at Hitler's mountain retreat
* facilitates the death of millions in Africa from AIDS because of it cannot reconcile its stand against condom use with public health.
* thinks women have no place in the leadership of the church

And the list goes on and on. His words ring hollow.

Ready to Rumble

by Shakespeare's Sister

Normally, I don’t do this, but because this is an important issue, as it very well could be indicative of a very unsettling sea change, and because John Aravosis covers so many important issues here, including explaining what Microsoft’s role in similar situations has been in the past, I’m going to repost one of his posts in its entirety (his emphasis throughout). Some additional comments of my own follow at the end.

* * *

Microsoft caught lying to New York Times about abandoning gays
by John in DC - 4/22/2005 12:27:00 AM

What a bunch of pigs.

Here I am getting all sorts of tips that this was all a big misunderstanding and that Microsoft would issue some wonderful statement shortly, and then I look at tomorrow's New York Times, and what do I read? One big fat lie after another.

Per the NYT:

Microsoft officials said that the meetings with the [anti-gay religious right] minister did not persuade them to back away from supporting the bill, but that they had already decided to take a "neutral" position on it. They said they examined their legislative priorities and decided that because they already offer extensive benefits to gay employees and that King County, where Microsoft is based, already prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, with a law as stringent as what the state bill proposed, they were focusing on other legislative matters.
Excuse me? Well if that's your rationale, that you don't need to support gay rights legislation when your employees are already covered by your own company policy, then why did you support the state legislation LAST YEAR when your employees were ALREADY covered by your company policy back then? Or were you wrong all these years to support gay civil rights legislation?

And why do you NOW support the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would protect gays nationwide from on-the-job discrimination, since your employees are already protected from anti-gay discrimination by your own company policy? Are you planning to pull your support from ENDA now too? Or are you going to stay on ENDA and prove that you just lied to the New York Times about not supporting civil rights bills when your employees are already covered?

And you got an award from the LA Gay & Lesbian Center a few years back for, among other things, fighting anti-gay ballot initiatives. Well, call me crazy, but those initiatives wouldn't have revoked any job protections YOUR employees get since your own company policy already covers them. So are you going to pull your opposition to the anti-gay ballot initiatives in the future too? And if so, when we do get our award back?

And by the way, what does the fact that your county has a gay rights law have to do with anything? Your employees are covered by your company policy regardless of the county law, so why does that factor into your opinion on the state law? Your response is simply bizarre.

There's more:

"Our government affairs team made a decision before this legislative session that we would focus our energy on a limited number of issues that are directly related to our business," said Mark Murray, a company spokesman. "That decision was not influenced by external factors. It was driven by our desire to focus on a smaller number of issues in this short legislative session. We obviously have not done a very good job of communicating about this issue."

Mr. Murray added that company officials had met twice with Dr. Hutcherson but that it was "long after our decision to focus on a tighter legislative agenda."

”We're disappointed that people are misinterpreting those meetings," he said.
Yes, well we're disappointed that you just confirmed what we've been saying for the past 24 hours. You used to support the gay rights legislation and now you don't. Spin that, Sherlock. And you're admitting that this is part of a larger change in strategy by which Microsoft will focus more closely on what matters. And clearly, we are not what matters any longer.

Then State Representative Ed Murray, an openly gay Democrat and sponsor of the bill, catches Microsoft in a bold-faced lie:

But Representative Murray said that in a conversation last month with Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president and general counsel, Mr. Smith had made it clear to him that the company was under pressure from the church and the pastor and that he was also concerned about the reaction to company support of the bill among its Christian employees, the lawmaker said.
Excuse me? The reaction from the "Christian" employees? What kind of bigoted comment is that? Newsflash, Microsoft: The religious right doesn't represent all Christians, thank you very much. Speaking as a Christian myself, lots of your "Christian" employees are surely pro-gay and support the bill, and even some of those "Christians" are actually gay themselves. It is unbelievable this man has these Neanderthal views on religion and sexual orientation and he's the freakin' general counsel of Microsoft?

And more:

Mr. Smith [the general counsel] would not comment for this article.

Mr. Murray [the good gay state rep.] said that in a recent conversation with Mr. Smith, Mr. Smith said that the minister had demanded the company fire Microsoft employees who testified this year on behalf of the bill, but that Mr. Smith had refused. Mr. Smith also said, according to Mr. Murray, that the minister had threatened to boycott the company if it did not withdraw its support for the bill and that the company was going to take a "neutral" position on the bill this year.

According to Mr. Murray, Mr. Smith said "that while he did not do the many things that the minister had requested, including firing employees who had testified for the bill, he believed that Microsoft could not just respond to one group of employees, when there were other groups of employees who felt much different."
Oh really? Then I assume Microsoft is equally sensitive to its evangelical employees who believe that their Jewish employees killed Christ. Then there are those employees who hate blacks, of all the thousands of employees you must have a few - does Microsoft make policy decisions based on the opinions of employees who feel differently about "Negroes"? Or does Microsoft now have a double standard on prejudice? Jews and blacks good - gays, not so much, or at least open to debate.

And, last time I checked, the evangelical employees have federal civil rights protections based on religion, so in fact, the two groups are not equal - unless Microsoft now plans on coming down as "neutral" on the freedom of religion? That should be fun.

Here's more from the state rep:

"My refrain back to him was that this is a historic moment, that I only had a few weeks and I wanted Microsoft to do the right thing, to support an issue of justice, an issue of justice of concern to the huge number of his employees who happen to be lesbian and gay," Mr. Murray said. "Their concern, he said, was that obviously they were hearing from fairly conservative employees who were connected to this minister. They needed to sort out how they were going to deal with those problems."

Mr. Murray said the company's contention that the decision not to support the bill had nothing to do with the Christian church was "an absolute lie."

A Microsoft employee who said he attended a meeting this month with Mr. Smith and about 30 employees, most of them gay, said that Mr. Smith discussed his meetings with Dr. Hutcherson and left the impression that the company was changing its policy on the bill as a result of those meetings.

"Brad was very clear that the decision to be neutral on the bill was made subsequent to his meeting with Ken Hutcherson," said the employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from the company. "My gut feeling is that the pastor and his threat of a boycott and the general sensitivity around this issue was a factor in this decision."

He added, "At the meeting, what Brad told us was that Microsoft made its decision on the bill between the first and second meetings he had with Hutcherson."
Yep, Microsoft lied. And continues to lie to spin and spin and spin this story rather than come clean and admit it. They screwed us, and it wasn't a mistake. It was a corporate decision reached at the highest levels and they stand by it. They threw us to the radical right dogs and now are risking every other company in America withdrawing its support for our civil rights legislation as well.

Thanks for nothing, Microsoft.


Gang, this is a big deal. There is no other way to cut it than Microsoft has decided to back off of its previously staunch defense of gay rights. NO other way to cut it.

Sure, they've been great on gay stuff in the past, and they're now signaling that those days are over. They're more concerned now with focusing on their business. Well what we're they doing before? Supporting gays just for the hell of it?

And the bigger impact, which remains to be seen, is whether Microsoft now chucks us overboard at the national level and if other companies start to follow suit, following the corporate leader, as it were.

Microsoft should be ashamed of itself. And we should consider this a warning. It is no longer safe in America to be gay - or liberal for that matter. We've taken our rights for granted. And now they're being taken away, and our friends are being taken away by an ever-growing climate of hostility fed by an extremist administration and their Sieg Heil friends in America's Taliban.

It's time we started fighting back, and fighting back hard. It's time we took the gloves off and stopped playing nice. You're either with us or you're against us, as our enemies like to say.

Microsoft has chosen its side.

Have you?

* * *

Yep. And it isn’t Microsoft I’ve got my sites set on. I’ve got bigger fish to fry. And I’m done dancing around. I’m calling it like I see it: There’s an entire network of sick fucks who want to legislate the oppression of gays and women under the guise of religion. They’ve hijacked the term “Christian” for their own, because it makes it harder to attack them, but there’s nothing Christian about what they’re doing, and there’s nothing American about what they’re doing, either. They stand under the cross and wrap themselves in the flag, and then they look at people like me and tell me I shouldn’t have control over my body or whether I procreate, and they look at people like Mr. Furious and tell him he shouldn’t have equal rights. I know plenty of Christians and plenty of patriots who disagree.

It’s on, motherfuckers.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Soulforce, Falwell, and the Rotting Cryptkeeper

by Pam

Rev. Mel White was a former ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson that put himself through over $100K of therapy, electroshock treatment and even exorcism to "rid" himself of his homosexuality. It didn't work. When he reached peace with his orientation, he reached out to others struggling with their faith and identity by founding Soulforce.

The group plans an 'equality ride' to Falwell's Liberty University on Monday to speak with students at the conservative, religious institution and to meet with students that "are forced to live closeted lives."(
"We're concerned about the treatment of students at Liberty," Jake Reitan, director of youth programs for Soulforce, said Thursday. "We're going to bring Falwell letters from (gay and lesbian) students who are in the college and show him the problem that exists now."

Reitan said about 60 students from a dozen other Virginia colleges and universities will arrive at Liberty by bus at 9 a.m. to spend the day talking to Liberty students about sexual orientation and gender identity. Soulforce, also based in Lynchburg, plans a news conference at 1 p.m.

"Liberty's gay and lesbian students are forced to live closeted lives, always fearful that if found out they will be expelled with their transcripts locked and their tuition lost," Reitan said.

Liberty officials did not return telephone calls from The Associated Press, but said in a statement they were aware of Soulforce's plans to make an "uninvited visit."
Mel White also has some interesting things about our friend Fred Phelps. In another article at, he gives a clearer picture of where the man is coming from (not that it helps any):
Indy: What about Fred Phelps, of "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for 9-11" fame, who is planning to come back to Colorado Springs while Soulforce is here? One of their announced stops is in front of Focus on the Family to protest the ministry's empathy for gays.

MW: I spent an hour and a half, two hours, with Fred in his office in Topeka and talked to him about his theology. He believes that God wants homosexuals dead. And any kind of tolerance, any kind of discussion less than that is not fulfilling the call. So [according to Phelps] anybody who says anything less than what the Bible says -- and the Bible makes it clear that a man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be executed -- is a traitor to the Bible and should be executed.

So Phelps is an extremist, but he gives this insight into the stealth of people like Dobson who say they're biblical literalists but then refuse to go all the way. Phelps says that while Mel White is obviously doomed to death, Dobson, just by being a selective literalist, is also dooming himself because he's not taking the stand that homosexuals should be killed.

Mel White of Soulforce is an "old fag preacher," according to Fred Phelps."

Indy: Why did you spend two hours with this man?

MW: Because nonviolence demands that we take our enemies seriously, that we hear them. Fred Phelps has an earned Ph.D., he has a major library in both Greek and Hebrew texts, he is a long-term biblical scholar who, like John Calvin, is consistent. He has gone all the way with those texts; he takes them literally. So I wanted to see really whether he was a nutcase or whether he had an analyzable theology, and he does. He's very articulate.

Indy: So how did the conversation go? I'm trying to envision it ...

MW: Oh man, he was concerned about my soul and I'm concerned about his. For me, the Bible is not inerrant, the Bible is inspired and trustworthy in all those areas to which it was called to speak -- but it's not trustworthy in terms of science.

[Phelps] and I debated all these issues that a literalist would debate with a person like myself, who loves and respects [the Bible] but isn't a literalist. So we had a great time, and then I went out and held up signs in front of his place saying, "God loves fags, God even loves Fred Phelps."

Special Announcement:
The Compleat Bloggrrrlz Gallery

by Dark Wraith

Big Brass Blog, in association with The Dark Wraith Forums, is proud to announce that the Bloggrrrlz Gallery slate of blogs has now been completed. That's right: the very best blogs by women can now be read at one meta-site portal where you can spend a minute, an hour, or an entire day working your way across the freshest, most dynamic, most interesting voices in the Blogosphere. If you haven't visited the Gallery yet, you have no idea what you've been missing. Creative coding architecture makes the Bloggrrrlz Gallery something unique on the Web. We think you'll agree.

Although every effort has been made to include all of the best of the women bloggers, if you know of one we've missed, send Shakespeare's Sister an e-mail message. Also, if your blog is already in the Gallery and you would prefer that it be removed, just drop us a message; we'll pull it immediately.

And finally, if you like the Bloggrrrlz Gallery, let us know; but more importantly, let other people know. In fact, you can put the Bloggrrrlz logo link on your own blog by copying one of the following two code snippets into your sidebar:

For a black background logo, use this snippet:
<a href="" target="_blank" title="The Bloggrrrlz Gallery"><img src=""></a>

For a white background logo, use this snippet:
<a href="" target="_blank" title="The Bloggrrrlz Gallery"><img src=""></a>

And be sure to visit the Gallery regularly.

The Dark Wraith insists.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Spain nears approval of gay marriage and adoption

by Pam

Gay rights campaigners cheers as the vote was read out.

Yes, while the American Taliban and its friends like Microsoft are supporting the cultural regression in the U.S., Spain is about to join other civilized countries that recognize gay relationships. (BBC):
Spain's lower house of parliament has approved the right of homosexual couples to marry and adopt children.

The government-backed bill now passes to the Senate, where it is expected to get final approval in the coming weeks. The opposition centre-right Popular Party voted against, saying that gay relationships fall outside the traditional institution of marriage.

...Under the proposed bill, Spanish Civil Law would include the phrase: "Matrimony shall have the same requisites and effects regardless of whether the persons involved are of the same or different sex."

Justice Minister Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar argued that the bill overcomes "the barriers of discrimination, many of them with deep historical or primitive roots, which affect rights and freedoms and, in a specific way, the extension of free choice in the search for happiness, an unwritten basic right".

The vote in parliament was passed by 183 votes, with 136 against and six abstentions.

Injudicious Rhetoric

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Thanks to Julien's List co-contributor Holly for sending this. We need to be very, very afraid at what is happening and what WILL happen if the last leg of our government becomes "free" of checks and balances...
The federal judiciary has an enormous impact in shaping life in America. The political debate over what kind of judges we want in these lifetime positions is legitimate and important.

Not so legitimate is the use of exaggerated, inflammatory rhetoric and religious invective by conservative groups that are waging all-out war on judicial independence — a dangerous trend that has alarmed a broad spectrum of Jewish leaders. And politicians who should know better are joining the chorus.

This week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was scheduled to appear on a simulcast organized by conservative Christian groups to support Republican efforts to end filibusters on judicial nominees. The filibuster is a legitimate issue for debate. What is alarming is the claim by some of these groups that their opponents, as well as the judges they accuse of “judicial tyranny,” are waging war against people of faith.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) recently appeared at a forum on “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith” with activists who called for the wholesale impeachment of federal judges and at least one who suggested that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was driven by “satanic” principles. And in a Senate floor statement that may have set a new low for irresponsibility, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) seemed to suggest a possible connection between several recent courthouse attacks and public dissatisfaction with liberal judges.

Taken together, all of this points to an escalating assault by forces with little understanding of the separation of powers in the American system and a reckless willingness to use the most dangerous, inflammatory kind of rhetoric.

As Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman noted last week, the fight over the judiciary is a political one, not a religious struggle.

“Whatever one’s views may be on this or any other issue, playing the religious card is as unacceptable as playing the race card,” Foxman said.

We agree. It’s important to support judicial independence even when it produces unpopular results, and it’s critical to avoid escalating what has already become a bitter culture war with ugly religious overtones.

Silence becomes a lesson in isolation, tolerance of others

by STP

I am admittedly not familiar with the National Day of Silence that many high school kids apparently participated in on April 13th. I came across this piece published in today's Asbury Park Press by Patricia Miller, and I believe it speaks for itself. Patricia brings a unique view to the topic she covers, being a homosexual, young person (although she is heterosexual) and having to lead a secret and isolated life surrounded by fear, gossip and frustration. I have copied it in its entirety as I believe it is that good.

This was my second year participating in the National Day of Silence, described by the official flier as "a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies."

Last year, as a junior at Communications High School in Wall, I bore my silence like a badge of honor. I was making a difference. For nine hours, my mouth stayed stubbornly shut (a remarkable feat for me). I walked down the halls with my head held high, a proud little smile on my face. That's what the day is for, right? To show the world that you stand for something more than discrimination or complacency. You're making a difference.

This year, things went a little differently. April 13 dawned clear and pretty, and I walked out of my house tired but sure of myself. First period, I walked confidently into my class, showing my teacher the flier that explained why I was not speaking. Yet, some time between taking my seat in class and rising from it an hour and a half later, something changed.

I was no longer confident. I was no longer proud. I was frustrated. There were things to say, and I couldn't say them. They were only little things, like "What was the answer to No. 9?" But, with my mouth so tightly shut, I walked out of class not knowing the answer.

By the time lunch arrived, I felt only the heavy weight of this silence. My inability to speak was oppressive. It blocked all other thoughts. I sat silently while my friends jokingly began a discourse on the proper usage of words like "queer" and "gay." Despite being undeniably straight, I was (jokingly) referred to as both those terms. Normally, I shrug off any such reference. But when faced with the inability to defend myself, the jokes weren't as funny.

I felt myself isolated from my friends and peers. "This must be what it's like to be in the closet," I thought. "All I can think about is my silence, and all the reasons I shouldn't break it." Because, by that time, I was considering breaking it. I probably would have, but what would people say if I did? I couldn't spend half the day in protest, only to give up when the going got rough. It seemed that must be worse than not trying at all. I pursed my lips, closed my eyes and wished for the end of the day. I had only a few hours left. I would not break my silence.

When the clock struck 3:30, and my nine hours were up, I screamed at the top of my lungs. I couldn't hold it in anymore. I was home from school by then, and I picked up the phone, to call someone (anyone) and talk. Yet, I hung the phone back up without dialing one number. What I realized was that all the things I wanted to say didn't matter. My frustration wasn't about question No. 9, any more than it was about reiterating the fact that I was not homosexual. It was about isolation. I feared judgment too much to break my silence, but I hated being ostracized for it.

I don't think that the National Day of Silence is about being miserable for a day. But it's not about pride either. Rather, I think it is a combination of the two. You should be proud of yourself and those around you. At the same time, you should endeavor to understand the trials fellow humans endure. The Day of Silence is a protest, but it is also a chance to better yourself through understanding of others. It is a day meant to further tolerance, not only in others but in yourself as well.

Microsoft officially screws gays over -- WA bill fails

by Pam

Thanks again to Mike Tidmus for the cool, subversive graphic.

Feel free to take this graphic and use it everywhere and anywhere; it's going on my sidebar. The bigots at Microsoft need to see our solidarity against its slimy suckup to the Religious Reich by withdrawing its support of an anti-gay-discrimination bill.

It failed by one freaking vote in Washington State's legislature today.

As AMERICABlog notes:
The gay rights bill just lost in the Washington state Senate minutes ago by a 24-25 vote, i.e., by one vote.

All the Republicans voted against the bill, and at least one Democrat. Apparently the forces of good did win a procedural vote to force the bill out of committee and onto the Senate floor, but then it was killed by the 24-25 vote. As an interesting aside, if you can call it that, one of the moderate Republicans voting against the bill was the guy representing Redmond, Microsoft's district.

How many have to die?

by John

How many contractors have to die before we can have a serious public discussion about their use and purpose in Iraq? Moreover, when can we stop obfuscating their identity and mission?

From the most recent example:

BAGHDAD (Reuters)-- Guerrillas shot down a Bulgarian commercial helicopter in Iraq on Thursday, killing all 11 on board including six Americans, the aircraft's Bulgarian owner said.

The Russian built Mi-8 helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade as it flew over a deserted area north of Baghdad, Bulgarian officials and the U.S. military said. It was believed to be the first downing of a civilian
aircraft in Iraq.

I don't know if this is because of Reuters' editorial policy, but clearly the helicopter was not commercial in the sense that a United airplane is a commercial airplane. The New York Times reports that the helicopter was contracted to the Defense Department, and the CBC notes that the six Americans were civilian defense contractors. Thus, reporting on the situation by saying a Bulgarian commercial helicopter was shot down killing six American civilians, while technically true, does not necessarily present a clear picture of why and how this happened.

I bring this up because I've written before about the use of private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I've expressed concern about using them for jobs that in the past were the responsibility of the military. The rules of war these contractors operate under are not well-defined, which makes it hard to determine accountability and their responsibility. Furthermore, these contractors are often paid salaries that dwarf the standard military salary, creating yet another incentive for soldiers to leave the military. My point is that there are a lot of questions and consequences surrounding their role, and there hasn't been a lot of public discussion (or awareness) about it. This is a problem because, even though our military might distinguish between civilian contractors and regular soldiers, our adversaries and the people of Iraq don't.

Just to be clear, in the event that I'm flamed a la Kos, I have no idea what these contractors were doing when they were shot down, or even before. Their deaths are as horrible as all the others, and equally unnecessary. However, there needs to be more public transparency about who these people are, and what they are doing, especially since our tax dollars are paying them.

Update: Since writing this post, I notice that the original NY Times article has been amended, and now notes that the contractors were from Blackwater and were providing security detail.

(Cross posted at Blogenlust)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Microsoft f*cks over gays

by Pam

Here's the homo-bigot that Microshaft's newly-pious Bill Gates is cowing to.

Building on Ms. J's emergency post, John over at AMERICABlog has the scoop on the lying, filthy, lowdown corporate bigots at Microsoft that have decided to toss gays overboard after years of supporting the community...all because of pressure from ONE Religious Reich activist. From the Washington state publication, The Stranger:
The Stranger has learned that last month the $37-billion Redmond-based software behemoth quietly withdrew its support for House bill 1515, the anti-gay-discrimination bill currently under consideration by the Washington State legislature, after being pressured by the Evangelical Christian pastor of a suburban megachurch.

The pastor, Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, met with a senior Microsoft executive in February and threatened to organize a national boycott of the company's products if it did not change its stance on the legislation, according to gay rights activists and a Microsoft employee who attended a subsequent April 4 meeting where Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, told a group of gay staffers about Hutcherson's threat....
And what is worse, Bill's Money Machine planned to hide the fact that it was withdrawing support for the anti-discrimination legislation.
DeLee Shoemaker, an aide to former Governor Gary Locke who now handles state-level government relations for Microsoft, had issued a letter in support of the bill. "We are going to be providing copies of that letter to the committee," he said. McCurdy spoke too soon. Murray says that beginning on February 7 he began receiving calls from company employees informing him that Hutcherson was pressuring the company to change its position on the bill. Murray eventually contacted Shoemaker. She admitted to him that Microsoft was planning to change its position on the bill. "I told her, 'This is a crisis. It will kill the bill,'" he says. "She said no one will know."....
This company is so f*cking huge that it doesn't need to be the doormat of the Right. Is this company as ball-less as the Democratic Party?

John has several action items with Microsoft contact information; please go to AMERICABlog for the latest efforts and requests.

Onward, Christian Cadets

by Shakespeare's Sister

This is the story that has lots of people talking:
Less than two years after it was plunged into a rape scandal, the Air Force Academy is scrambling to address complaints that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the school that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive.

There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.


More than 90 percent of the cadets identify themselves as Christian. A cadet survey in 2003 found that half had heard religious slurs and jokes, and that many non-Christians believed Christians get special treatment.
As I noted earlier today, I don’t have an intrinsic hatred for religion. What I have is a pretty stringent policy of intolerance once people start using religion (or anything else) as a justification for restricting the rights of others, which includes the right to be free from harassment and prejudice, and a shield against criticism. We’ve come to a point in this country where if someone can be described as “religious,” it is automatically presumed to mean “ethical.” This story is indicative of why such uncritical associations are fallacious.
Critics of the academy say the sometimes-public endorsement of Christianity by high-ranking staff has contributed to a climate of fear and violates the constitutional separation of church and state at a taxpayer-supported school whose mission is to produce Air Force leaders.

They also say academy leaders are desperate to avoid the sort of uproar that came with the 2003 scandal in which dozens of women said their complaints of sexual assault were ignored.

"They are deliberately trivializing the problem so that we don't have another situation the magnitude of the sex assault scandal. It is inextricably intertwined in every aspect of the academy," said Mikey Weinstein of Albuquerque, N.M., a 1977 graduate who has sent two sons to the school. He said the younger, Curtis, has been called a "filthy Jew" many times.
A filthy Jew?! Fucking hell. Like that “filthy Jew” Jesus Christ?

How is such behavior remotely defensible? There is nothing, nothing, in Christian doctrine that advocates such behavior.
[Lt. Gen. John Rosa] himself intervened when Christian cadets began promoting "The Passion," Mel Gibson's movie about the crucifixion of Christ. He told cadets they should not use government e-mail or other facilities to promote their personal agendas.

Two of the nation's most influential evangelical Christian groups, Focus on the Family and New Life Church, are headquartered in nearby Colorado Springs. Tom Minnery, an official at Focus on the Family, disputed claims that evangelical Christians are pushing an agenda at the academy, and complained that "there is an anti-Christian bigotry developing" at the school.
Incorrect. People would have to be acting like Christians for that to happen.

Those who refuse to excuse behavior that’s taking place at the Air Force Academy are not bigoted against Christians, or Christianity, or religion. They’re rightfully angry at the inappropriate actions of a select group of pricks who use a disfigured notion of Christianity as means to rationalize regular, old-fashioned hatred. That such repulsive behavior is associated with Christianity is their doing, not their critics’.

Indeed, those who seek to denounce these incidents for what they are—the shameful conduct of bigots using religion as a shield—without indicting the religion itself, are greater protectors of the true nature of the religion than men like Minnery, who would defend the actions of any adherent, no matter how repugnant.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Who Uses Microsoft More - the Educated or the Wingnuts??

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Will this ever stop? Please read this, and if your heart tells you to, take action. Please.

Ms. Julien

Guess Pope Ratz thinks he's going to kick it soon

by Pam

The official pic, so says Jesus General.

CNN says the new Pontiff knows he's not long for this world.
The 78-year-old cardinal, chosen on Tuesday to become the new pope, now "appears to be in basically good health," but also is aware that his pontificate may not last "very long," said [CNN Vatican analyst John] Allen, author of a 2000 biography of Ratzinger, "Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith."

"About two years ago he was experiencing fatigue, but appears to have picked up from that," Allen said.

Ratzinger's brother Georg Ratzinger has raised questions about whether someone of the pope's age is fit for the post. [I saw this clip on CNN this AM; Kate and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. He didn't mince words; read on.]

Before Benedict was elected pope, Georg Ratzinger said he was "convinced" that his brother would "be spared from this burden. At age 78, it's not good to take on such a job which challenges the entire person and the physical and mental existence," Allen said.

"At an age when you approach 80, it's no longer guaranteed that one is able to work and get up the next day."

...When Ratzinger told cardinals in the conclave why he wanted to take on the name Benedict XVI, "one of the things he alluded to was the fact that Benedict XV, the last pope to have that name, had one of the shortest pontificates of the 20th century," Allen said."

Absolute Power

by Shakespeare's Sister

So, it looks like the nuclear option will be voted on sooner rather than later. (I suppose it’s mere coincidence that Frist seems likely to push it immediately after Justice Sunday. Ahem.)

John Warner, R-VA, is one of the Republicans currently being courted by both sides—a swing voter:
"I just look at this institution as really the last bastion of protecting the rights of the minority," Mr. Warner said, "and we should be very careful before we try and make any changes."


At stake is the future of the filibuster, a two-century-old parliamentary tactic that has recently been used by Democrats to prevent 10 of President Bush's appeals court nominees from being confirmed. The filibuster can be broken with 60 votes. Republicans, who have 55 members in the Senate, want confirmations to depend on a simple majority of 51.
Normally, I tend to think Warner’s a pretty okay guy, but his statement is completely incomprehensible to me. He acknowledges the filibuster as “the last bastion of protecting the rights of the minority” yet remains willing to entertain the notion of eliminating it. That his position is considered moderate is illustrative of how extreme, how blind with control, the GOP has truly become.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I despair for our country’s future if this madness goes forth as I fear it will.

[Kudos to Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island for going on record in opposition to this insane and antidemocratic power-grab.]

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

More P'shop Coulter brilliance

by Pam

Mike Tidmus keeps them coming...since the bony-*ss, bedworn, b*tch of the Reich is so unhappy with the photography of her Time cover, I thought I'd share Mike's retouching so that it might soothe her raggedy ego:

Boxer Benny (Kid) Paret died because of homophobia

by Pam

Benny "Kid" Paret, wearing white trunks, met Emile Griffith, wearing black trunks, in a 1962 fight that would prove fatal to Paret. (Corbis)

Boxer Benny (Kid) Paret died because of homophobia.

Ten days after being savagely beaten to a pulp in a boxing match by Emile Griffith, Benny Paret died. The fight, televised back in March of 1962, was not the first or last tragedy of its kind, but the back story -- the homophobia that unleashed Griffith's fury -- is now revealed in a documentary by Dan Klores and partner Ron Berger. Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story airs tonight on USA at 9PM.

This story is really about the machismo of sports and the closet, something that has changed little since this tragedy.

Before the fateful fight, the Cuban Paret called Griffith "maricon" (the Spanish equivalent of "faggot") at their weigh-in, enraging Griffith. At the time there were rumors about Griffith's homosexuality floating around in the boxing world (he had been spotted in gay bars), so to have it called out was not just a slur but a perceived call to the defense of his manhood. The beating resulted in Paret being carried out on a stretcher, later falling into a coma and dying. In this case words did kill.

Certainly back in the 1960s, I can't imagine athlete being out of the closet, and for a black man at that time, well, the end result tells you how bad it was to be thought of as gay. [The situation hasn't gotten much better -- imagine what would happen if a hard-core rapper was exposed as a homo?]

The filmmakers interviewed Paret's wife and son, and Griffith himself, now 67 and still tormented by what happened to Paret and his own lifetime of struggle with his sexuality. Bob Herbert spoke with the boxer for his recent column, "The Haunting of Emile Griffith":
It still infuriates. At lunch, Mr. Griffith's smile faded as he recalled the taunts he took from Paret. "I got tired," he said, "of people calling me faggot."

He said again, as he has many times, that he was sorry Paret had died. But he added: "He called me a name. ... So I did what I had to do."

...I asked Mr. Griffith if he was gay, and he told me no. But he looked as if he wanted to say more. He told me he had struggled his entire life with his sexuality, and agonized over what he could say about it. He said he knew it was impossible in the early 1960's for an athlete in an ultramacho sport like boxing to say, "Oh, yeah, I'm gay."

But after all these years, he wanted to tell the truth. He'd had relations, he said, with men and women. He no longer wanted to hide. He hoped to ride this year in New York's Gay Pride Parade.

He said he hadn't meant to kill Benny Paret, "but what he said touched something inside."
Outsports published some seriously conflicted/confusing poll results about public attitudes about gays and sports gathered by NBC/USA Networks, conducted to coincide with the airing of the documentary.
The survey finds people either conflicted about their own views of gays in sports or certain their neighbor is more bigoted than they are.

* 68% thought it would hurt an athlete’s career to be openly gay.
* Half (49%) thought gay athletes could get the same endorsements as their straight counterparts
* But a few questions later, by a 64% to 11% margin, people said that “brands and products are unlikely to select athletes as endorsers if the athletes are gay or even have been accused of being gay.”
* 15% say it’s not appropriate for an umpire to be gay.
* 46% to 44% say it’s a sin to engage in homosexual behavior.
* But 61% said homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society.
* 78% says it is OK for gay athletes to participate in sports, even if they are open about their sexuality.
* By a 42% to 22% margin, people thought “if ESPN created a television special on the accomplishments of gay athletes, viewers would be enraged.”
* 79% agreed that Americans are more accepting of gays in sports than they were 20 years ago.

"I now understand why gay athletes would choose to stay in the closet," said Doug Schoen of Penn, Schoen & Berland. "The poll shows us that we still have a long way to go in this country before homosexuality is accepted in sports."
The only conclusion that one can draw from these findings is that the American public is f*cked up -- my scientific analysis. The allegedly powerful homo agenda is not making the huge inroads that the AmTaliban rails on about. The sheeple are being shaped and led by the Rovian Right, and the saddest aspect of this development is that there are way too many homophobic, intolerant black pastors willing and able to lead their parishioners even further down this path, driving gay men and women of color like Griffith even deeper into the down low closet.

Benny (Kid) Paret died because of homophobia and gay self-loathing that still exists today, make no mistake, in both Red and Blue states. It's still cultivated in way too many homes, schools, workplaces -- and especially in too many houses of worship.

It's why kids that are effeminate still get the sh*t kicked out of them in school and "fag" and "dyke" are easy epithets tossed around the classroom; it's why a Texas teacher can be fired from her job because people think she's a lesbian. It's why Martina Navratilova dominated the tennis scene in the 1980s, yet lost her endorsements when she came out. And for the guys, well, you all are sh*t out of luck if you're in a team sport; the number of out gay male athletes in active team competition is...are there any?

Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story airs commercial-free tonight at 9PM on USA.

Also: check out OutSports Anti-Gay Slur roundup. Homophobic comments by athletes are rated on a scale of 1-5 John Rockers, for the Atlanta Braves pitcher notorious for his bigoted comments, including:

"Imagine having to take the 7 train to (Shea Stadium in New York) looking like you’re (in) Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing."

(Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend)

Faith-Based Pandering

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Great article by Richard Cohen - ran in the Washington Post, re-run on Common Dreams.
Totally by mistake, I was summoned to meet Sen. Bill Frist shortly after he first arrived in Washington. This happened because someone in Frist's office confused me with the congressional affairs correspondent of the National Journal, Richard E. Cohen, but I stayed to meet Frist anyway and found him impressive. Time and tide have changed my view. He is now the Senate majority leader and an undeclared but neon-lit presidential candidate who is getting into shape for the long run to the White House by shedding anything that weighs him down. In his case it's principles.
Read the rest of the article HERE.

Read, think, ACT!!

Ms. Julien

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Gay-Bashin’ for God

by Shakespeare's Sister

Da New Pope (as Ezra would say) doesn’t like da faggots. As anyone who’s spent more than five seconds hanging around this joint knows, at Shakespeare’s Sister, we likes da faggots, and so we don’t likes da new pope.

In 1986, Pope Ratz (as by which he will heretofore be referred) wrote a Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, in which he recommended that “appropriate forms of pastoral care for homosexual persons” be developed with “the assistance of the psychological, sociological and medical sciences, in full accord with the teaching of the Church,” even though homosexuality had been removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) thirteen years earlier. By 1986, the psychological, sociological, and medical sciences didn’t regard homosexuality as a “disorder” in need of treatment, but clearly, Pope Ratz (and the rest of the church) did.
Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.
If it weren’t for the fact that this gay-hating bigot was just made head of the largest network of institutionalized homophobia in the universe, that would almost be laughable. A strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil, says the former member of the Hitler Youth. Whether he was compelled to join or joined voluntarily is a matter of debate, but regardless of the origins of Pope Ratz’s former Nazi associations, including serving in the German army, they surely gave him the opportunity to see intrinsic moral evil up close and personal. Those fuckers were marching the fags off to the gas chambers, not the other way around.

As many as a million gays and lesbians were killed in the concentration camps during the Holocaust, with particularly harsh treatments reserved for gay men, who were also widely recruited for bizarre scientific experimentation, in search of a cure for future Aryan homosexuals. Gay men also had the highest death rate (60%) of any other social group relegated to the camps by the Nazis. Lesbians and gays were viewed as a threat to the future of the Aryan race, because they did not procreate, and when the Nazis came into power, they facilitated a swift backlash against the progressiveness of Berlin which had fostered a vibrant and thriving gay community. The entire country was delivered a steady stream of anti-gay propaganda, and the Hitler Youth were indoctrinated with virulent homophobia, which may well explain Pope Ratz’s strange acceptance of violence against gays, even as he condemns it:
It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.

But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.
A man like this has no business leading the church.

Using the same logic that instituting protections against lesbians and gays will incite violence against them, because they have no right to be protected, it is understandable why the church makes no exceptions for abortions when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. Clearly, the victims of crime deserve no remedy, if such remedy is anathema to church teaching. Once brutalized by an attacker, prepare to be victimized again by the church if you want anything more than prayer.

I reject this pope, I reject his church, and I reject its teachings. I reject the notion that people I love are evil for being gay, or that any expression of love between two consenting adults is somehow sinful. There’s nothing sinful about love, and there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the way I love Mr. Shakes, and the way Pam loves Kate, and Mr. Furious loves Mr. Curious; I reject all claims to the contrary. And if that consigns my eternal soul to the fires of hell, then off I go, tra la la. I never fucking liked harps, anyway.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Ooops. Chimpy didn't secure

by Pam

Scarlet P. sent me this hysterical link -- As Scarlet aptly noted, "this is what happens when you spend $400 million on abstinence only education and neglect to secure the domain name."

It's essential to go to this site, especially in light of the ascension of the new Pope, and his hard line regarding sexual matters. Just brilliant. Get a load of this...
Congratulations! You and your faith partner have chosen a path of mutual love and adoration through physical respect. Resisting the temptations of sexual intercourse may not always be easy, but with the help of, we guarantee you'll have a lot of fun!

... Here's some fun things that faith partners can do besides have sex.

1) Go out to a movie or watch TV! Make some popcorn and have a popcorn party!

2) Engage in wholesome sports activities or play board games like checkers, chess or Monopoly!

3) Rigorously rub your face, body and genitalia against those of your faith partner until orgasm. (Also known as 'faith-fucking')
Here's the section on Homosexual Abstinence...
The Bible states it plainly in Leviticus: "Man shall not lie with man as he does with woman.' So there you have it: Standard Missionary is right out. For the gals: you're off the hook. Anything goes. As far as the Lord's concerned, it's Beaver Season all year 'round.

In the interest of avoiding STDs, and believe me there are some doozies out there, you gents might want to keep it to blowjobs, and we mean this literally: Take your faith buddy's penis and blow on it from a distance. Or you can rub it against your face, neck, buttocks, etc. (see Anal Abstinence)
You can also get some abstinence advice from Dr. Frist.

Dear Doctor Frist, You recently implied it was possible to contract AIDS through tears and that simply touching another persons genitals could result in pregnancy. Is this true?
Signed, Young and Scared

Dear Young and Scared,
When I said that you could get AIDS from tears what I meant was that getting AIDS could make you cry. Also, you CAN get pregnant from simply touching another person's genitals, providing they're ejaculating and you're touching them with your cervix. I hope this clears things up for you. Remember also that whenever you masturbate, God kills a kitten.

Yours Truly, Senate Majority Leader, Dr. Bill Frist
There's plenty more to take in at the site. I couldn't stop laughing.

New Pope - Former Card-Carrying Member of the Hitler Youth

by Ms. Julien in Miami

You will hear all about the new Pope ad nauseum over the next days, so this will be my main post on the subject.

Lest you doubt about what the new pope has in store for gay people...
In 1986, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the infamous Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. Ratzinger wrote that a homosexual orientation, even if the person is totally celibate, is a "tendency" toward an "intrinsic moral evil". Moreover, a homosexual inclination is both an "objective disorder" and a "moral disorder", which is "contrary to the creative wisdom of God". "Special concern and pastoral attention should be directed towards those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not." Ratzinger's 1986 Letter concludes that pastoral care for homosexual persons should include "the assistance of the psychological, sociological and medical sciences", and that "all support should be withdrawn from any organisations which seek to undermine the teachings of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which ignore it entirely".
Thanks to pdxCraig for this.

Ms. Julien

Dennis Prager: College produces homos

by Pam

What a moron. Dennis Prager, wingnut columnist, has come to the conclusion, by interviewing a sexually confused college student, that homosexuality is culturally determined. It's all about the Homosexual Agenda steamrolling the influence of heterosexual "normality." (WingNutDaily):
Perhaps the most important argument against same-sex marriage is that once society honors same-sex sex as it does man-woman sex, there will inevitably be a major increase in same-sex sex. People do sexually (as in other areas) what society allows and especially what it honors.

One excellent example illustrating this is an article recently written in the McGill University newspaper by McGill student Anna Montrose. In it, she wrote:

It's hard to go through four years of a Humanities B.A. reading Foucault and Butler and watching 'The L Word' and keep your rigid heterosexuality intact. I don't know when it happened exactly, but it seems I no longer have the easy certainty of pinning my sexual desire to one gender and never the other.

Michel Foucault is a major French "postmodern" philosopher; Judith Butler is a prominent "gender theorist" at U.C. Berkeley; and "The L-Word" is a popular TV drama about glamorous lesbians.)

I interviewed Anna Montrose, a bright and articulate 22-year-old woman, on my syndicated radio show. She is a fine example of the type of thinking and behavior a homosexuality-celebrating culture -- such as that at our universities -- produces. "

DP: So you and I both believe that how people behave sexually, including which sex they will engage with sexually, is largely determined by society and not by nature.
AM: Yeah, I completely agree.
DP: Gay rights activists say the opposite. They say that whether you act homosexually or not is fixed; and I don't believe it's fixed necessarily at all and neither do you.
AM: But I think that [the activists'] argument has a political purpose, which is to counter the argument that heterosexuality is fixed.
DP: I agree with you. But we both think that they're not telling the truth for the sake of making a political argument. Since we both agree that largely whom we have sex with and sexual behavior generally are culturally determined, the only question is: Would we like culture to determine [these things] one way or the other? I think 'yes' and you think 'not'. I have a heterosexual preference because my values tell me that male-female love is the ideal. You don't think it's the ideal. Is that fair?
AM: I think that it's one of many options.
DP: It's not necessarily a good thing to teach heterosexual behavior as the ideal?
AM: Yeah.
Has it not occurred to either of these dimwits that sexuality is a continuum? If this woman feels her "fixed heterosexuality" is up in the air, perhaps it wasn't fixed to begin with, hmmm?

Heterosexual couples produce and raise children assuming they are straight. It's not surprising that many gay people take years to come out to themselves or to others, if ever. The social pressure to be het is enormous, despite my hard work on the homo agenda.

All the Foucault and "L Word" in the world can't make someone jump in the sack with a person of the same gender unless they want to. I guess the issue for Prager is that he has to make it clear the sheeple that are too stupid to think for themselves when it comes to fornicating.

Joseph Ratzinger of Germany - the ex-Nazi pontiff

by Pam

He's taken the name Pope Benedict XVI. Well, more of the same hard line. For those of you that are Catholic and progressive, you just got the finger.

The Vatican continues its descent into irrelevancy. More homophobia, more head-in-the-sand about contraception and AIDS prevention. No marriage for priests, no increased role for women in the church. I don't even want to guess how he's going to handle the church's utter failing regarding its child-molesting priests. Sad.

Major Headlines

by STP

Smoke from Vatican is pink! Could Carson ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy") be the new Pope!? ** Sadly, it appears the Vatican went the Hitler Youth route instead.

Ultimate judge, God, rules: "American zealots are not representative of any belief system of virtue." Tom DeLay announces, "God better watch it because there could be repercussions!"

Senator Rick Santorum starts fetal, daycare center. Quits Senate. Promises cuddling sessions, games and snacks for all fetuses.

Florida sold on EBAY for $475. Buyer is an eighty-seven year old, Jewish woman transplanted from New York. She plans on increasing temperatures in the former-state, claiming "it's too damn cold here!"

Scientific analysis concludes: Ann Coulter not human. Ann Coulter not of this planet. Not sure what the hell she is!

President lies about threat posed by country to U.S. interests, creates false associations to terrorist groups, manufactures fake evidence, ignores threats where they legitimately exist, dismisses need for a post-war plan and viable exit strategy, alienates all U.S. allies, inflames I