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Progressive, balanced, committed, tolerant. Proud to represent the unheard voices of same-sex couples and their supporters...Read, think, ACT!

Updated: 2012-04-12T18:56:45.589-04:00


SOTU & Petraeus Synchronicity -- Can a One-sided Will To Win Prove Enough?


Two big but seemingly unrelated things happened on the Hill yesterday -- the State of the Union speech and the appearance of Lt. Gen. David Howell Petraeus at a hearing to confirm him as the new U.S. ground commander in Iraq.You can watch the SOTU at ThinkProgress -- something I suggest doing even if you've seen it already as they've synthesized it in a searchable video form annotated with a relatively comprehensive fact checking. I encourage writing letters to the editor refuting Shrub's speech using these countering facts as a basis. You'll have to comment on the things that were absent -- any mention of Katrina and the failture of the Gulf Coast recovery effort that has Barney Frank referring to it as a form of "ethnic cleansing" and that there were no bones thrown to the religious political extremists and what that means, for instance -- on your own -- well, that and Michele's Manic Prez Grab. Post copies of them in the comments section here for all to see. (I plan to hit the dangerous horsepucky that is Shrub's big healthcare plan hard myself, so critical is that regarding our disproportionately under- and self-employed thus disproportionately dependent on individually underwritten health insurance LGBT population.)What else a fact-checking analysis of the SOTU misses, beyond Shrub's making yet another threat of creating a new front against Iran, in looking just at the section on Iraq, is the folly of relying on our will to win in a war that will depend instead on the will of the Iraqis. We have not been short of will to win -- the sacrifices of life and/or limb of well over fifty-thousand American fighting women and men to date are proof enough of that, not to mention the willingness of hundreds of thousands more to serve and millions more to do without loved ones in service abroad plus the people's engagement in war debt that will haunt our grandchildren and beyond.No, we are not short of will to win.This 'will to win' mantra figured prominently in Gen. Petraeus' remarks at his hearing, too.Before anyone thinks to write me off as some military-hating uber-liberal, let me say that I deeply admire Gen. Petraeus, whose career I first took notice of in the early days of this war when he commanded the fabled 101st Airborne at Mosul and my cousin, Lucian Truscott, was permitted to be an embedded journalist with his troops there for a time. I learned through long, almost daily correspondence with Luc how deeply Gen. Petraeus cares for the troops under his command. (Especially instructive was a description of the general's immediate and blistering phone call to the KBR supplier who was delivering to troops at a forward station moldy fruit and cold-instead-of-hot food from filthy kitchens for premium prices when my cousin brought this to his attention. Even more instructive was the general's attentive follow-through -- the effect of which was extended even beyond his area of command.)I favorably compared his treatment of prisoners to that at Abu G'raib then came to a similarly positive comparison of his method of flushing out insurgents in residential neighborhoods (called "cordon and knock") compared to the more terror-inducing methods being employed elsewhere that were reinforcing the growing insurgency, and how he coupled that with the only reconstruction program in Iraq that really worked. "The real goal is to create as many Iraqis as possible who feel they have a stake in the new Iraq," he said about his program that combines a comparatively low-violence soft hand militarily with lots of direct local diplomacy and dependable follow-through such as ensuring that local contractors are given as much preference as possible and that they are treated fairly and paid on time.I started doing more research into his background and discovered what a strong intellect and fine education he has (West Point, Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (MPA, PhD in International Affairs with a dissertation on how Vietnam has affected U.S. military strategic thought), a post-doc fellowship at Georgetown, and [...]

The Poodle Genuflects To The Rat


The world's most powerful hate group, the Roman Catholic Church, is at it again. According to AmericaBlog, RatCo's latest attempt to undermine fairness and equality under the law in favor of irrational antigay hatred comes in the U.K. via rumored to be Catholic wannabe Tony Blair.

The RCC's opposition to the implementation of a basic civil rights law there, the Equality Act, is taking the same sorry turn we've seen so often from them -- threatened shut down of social services agencies (this time adoption placement) unless they get a religious exemption that gives them a free pass to discriminate not just with church money which nobody argues is their right to do, however despicable of them to do it, but with public money.

Just like the Boy Scouts, they want to have their cake and eat it, too, which their spin machine has masked as concern for children -- a concern which their own priests' actions have time and again proven to be a lie. In this case, their rhetoric is indisputably Orwellian as denying children happy, healthy homes with gay adoptive parents does nothing but keep children in the system longer which has real, measureable negative effects both on the children themselves and the public purse as well as increases the risk to other children at risk by reducing the percentage of the social services resource pool that can be directed towards keeping them safe and sound.

In the the U.S., we've given them a religious exemption in ENDA -- one they don't need to ensure their religious freedom and one of the things that makes ENDA not worth the trouble of passing -- and in some state LGB (and sometimes T)-inclusive civil rights laws. The Brits, Welsh, and Scots should note that such exemptions have not stopped church leaders from opposing our basic civil rights -- only exposing their bigotry has brought occasional relief from their onslaught of hate.



Now that the ballots are in and it's apparently clear that the dems will take both the House and the Senate, the talk on the town is the big "I" word. Will we or will we not see impeachment hearings?I heard from a very liberal friend yesterday that she felt that impeachment should not be the first order of business. Now bear in mind, this person has a hatred for Bush hotter then the heat of a thousand suns. However, she believed that we need to address the business of the people first. Deal with the war, social security, economy, ect... Concluding that in reality probably less the half of the people in the country had the stomach for impeachment, she felt that we need to be the party of reason and stay above the fray. This morning on talk radio on the way to work I heard echoes of the same sentiment.

I plainly and simply do not agree. In the last six years we have learned at immeasurable costs how fragile our democracy is. Six years ago when some of us said, voters fraud, most people thought we were crazy conspiracy theorists. Now, it's a commonly held belief that elections have been tampered with and the office of the President was stolen, not once, but twice. Most of the rest of the world can see clearly that our democracy is broken, if not failed entirely.The issues like the war, the economy, and social security are incredibly important. However, I believe that at this point, our paramount issue, our paramount responsibility, not only to our citizens, but to the world, is preserving our democracy.

I do not want impeachment hearings for the arbitrary purpose of sticking it to Bush, I believe he will burn in hell for his crimes against humanity. Impeachment hearing are necessary in our country right now for the purpose of disclosure to the American people of how one administration can destroy a democracy. We need to know what happened and how it happened so we can learn from our mistake.The American people need to learn a hard lesson of responsibility and accountability. Only with a hard look at what happened in the last six years that led us to this catastrophic place can we learn how to prevent a tragedy of the magnitude that the Bush administration has reigned on the world.

I have heard people suggest that yes, we need to call for impeachment, but just not as a first order of business. I strongly disagree. Now that the democrats are basking in the afterglow of a republican ass kicking, it's fun to day dream about having control of not just Congress, but also the Presidency for decades to come. That kind of arrogance is familiar and dangerous. The reality is we may only have two years. God, I hope it's forever, but it may be two precious years for a window of opportunity. We don't have time to waste trying to appear as a party of civility.

This Congress has a moral obligation not only to the citizens of the United States but to the rest of the world to open the books on this administration for full disclosure through impeachment. For more then 200 years the United States was a beacon of democracy, demonstrating that the fragile experiment was something to strive for. Many world governments modeled themselves after our ideal. Now that ideal is in shambles. The first order of business for putting it all back together is facing the devastation and showing the world we are not afraid to say what's wrong for everyone else in the world is wrong for us too. Criminal behavior is just that, criminal and we will address it.

Please join me in contacting your representatives and soon to be representatives to demand immediate impeachment proceedings as a first order of business after the swearing in.The world is waiting for us.Please leave you comments and let us know how you feel about IMPEACHING the PRESIDENT NOW!!

My posting over at Pam's


Julien! Thanks for leaving my access to the blog!Here's what I posted for Pam in her absence - I hope readers here find it worth pondering . . . .Groggy Good-Morning from Rochester in Blue New York 'Bean, formerly a regular contributor to Julien's List, is a Cranky-and-Irritable member of the Democratic arm of the Democratic Party. As a GLBT healthcare-professional-in-training, he is passionately devoted to liberal politics and to his evolving career in the operating room. He also possesses a deep-seated passion for dark chocolate and snazzy cars. 'Bean and his life-partner Eric (a Physics professor at a SUNY university) live in Rochester, New York.Good morning blenders. I'm already behind schedule as I woke at 0100 and 0400 because poor Hubby's congested sinuses rumble when he lies on his back. I needed a bathtubfull of Java in my brain before trying to type - mostly to ensure I pay at least some attention to things like "grammar" and "spelling" and "a little coherence."It's VERY nice to be back at the blend, as briefly as I will be here: I love my work in the operating room as I am finishing this particular phase of my education (and, hence, rarely visit any blogs because I have no life, at all, of any kind) . . . but I confess I miss the intensity, stimulation, and some of the personalities here.That said, I wanted to start my part of the Guest Blend Experience with a gripe.Yep - a gripe: I'm genetically cranky as the long-time regulars know. I just ain't one of those liberals who wants to hug a single damn thing and I don't ooze "caring" and "warmth" from my pores. I never have been "cuddly" and, in truth, I doubt I will ever be.Anyhow . . . .Yesterday, while watching the local 11-o'clock news in Blue New York State, I noted the following:(1) Republican Tom Reynolds, Pedophile Supporter and Enabler (henceforth, PS&E in place of "Pedophile Supporter and Enabler"), airing attack ads stating, "Millionaire Jack Davis will cut Medicare, Medicaid, and job growth programs. Millionaire Jack Davis will raise taxes. Millionaire Jack Davis is just another tax-and-spend liberal New Yorkers don't need." Republican Reynolds, PS&E, and his attack dogs include taped, out-of-context statements right from Davis's mouth to "support" Reynold's claims.I'll be blunt - these ads by Republican Tom Reynolds, PS&E? These ads are good. They're very good.These ads are, not surprisingly, also profoundly dishonest and misleading - but what can one expect from a Republican more vested in protecting his own job, his party, and the most high-profile child molester of this Shining New Century to-date?(2) Democrat Jack Davis is airing the most pathetic "It's time for a change" rebuttal to Republican Reynolds, PS&E, I have ever seen: Davis would have a better rebuttal if he hired a bunch of high school drama students and gave those students a cam-corder and 20 bucks.Worse, Davis and his ads ignore that Republican Reynolds, PS&E, has dutifully followed Dear Leader's policies (Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, other social-service and retiree program cuts), all the while filling his fat pockets (and astoundingly-large belly) along the way.(3) An ad supporting sHillary Clinton, Republican-Lite, with an interesting mix of words and imagery. I don't remember specifics, but phrases resembling "Hillary Clinton voted to prevent further terror attacks on New York and supports legislation protecting the symbols or our great nation," juxtaposed with images of sHillary, surrounded by a forest of American flags; "Hillary Clinton supports legislation protecting mothers and their children," juxtaposed with images of sHillary and an African-American mother holding a newborn baby.(4) A news report following these commercials stating that Republican Reynolds, PS&E, is now ahead in the polls - and this in a DEMOCRATIC state.I think what I am seeing here, in my own small part of the nation, reflects the problems of the Left in the nation as-a-whole.Specifically, these problems:[...]

Rep. Gerry Studds, 1937-2006


Rep. Gerry Studds, age 69, died today due to pulmonary embolism. With the Foley issue hot in the press, Gerry's affair with a page that rightfully earned him censure is the MSM's obituary meme but they're neglecting the critical dissimilarities.Gerry, unlike Foley, had the courage to face his problem with dignity and accept his censure with grace. He used it as a wakeup call to grow into both personal acceptance of himself as a gay man and a strong advocate for our equality under the law.I will never forget the image of him summoning the Congressional liaison team of the office of the Commandant of the Coast Guard into his office after it was made known that the Commandant was joining in with the Navy Secretary's illegal use of official military means to encourage and enable military personnel to lobby Congress during the gays-in-the-military battle of 1992-3 and that the Coast Guard commandant had personally invited Gary Bauer to deliver an inflammatory prayer breakfast speech on the subject in the wake of bigoted servicemembers' attacks on both civilian and military people perceived to be gay in that time of heightened emotion -- and that the commandant had worded the invitation to the prayer breakfast to his subordinates in the D.C. area in a "must attend" manner that was impermissable given its religious nature.The two handsome liaison officers in their impeccably tailored dress whites squirmed uncomfortably in their chairs in Gerry's office where they were unceremoniously commanded to sit as Rep. Studds read the salient portions of the Constitution to them, lecturing with particular emphasis on treason involving the military overstepping its bounds by trying to usurp civilian control of the military.Gerry's was no idle instructional reading. As chairperson of the subcommittee overseeing the Coast Guard, he held their purse strings. The message was not lost on the commandant.I remember, too, Gerry's gentle power when he visited the Holocaust Museum on the pre-opening day set aside for Congressional preview. At the time, visitors were randomly assigned the name, picture, and brief biography of a person who actually experienced life in the Holocaust as they were just before the Nazis came to power. As luck would have it, the machine issued Gerry the information of a young gay man whose birthday he shared but who was just barely a generation older than Gerry. Gerry took the elevator to the exhibit's fourth floor beginning, lingering over the dense information about how the Nazis seized power and remarking about similarities to the present day. He spent extra time at the portion exhibiting pink triangle artifacts.At stations along the museum's tour one put the information pass of the person one was assigned to follow into machines that updated the information as the Holocaust years progressed. Gerry put the ticket into the machine every time with great hope, seeming to hold his breath as he read the fate of "his" shadow fellow each time. One by one, the machines informed everyone else in Gerry's tour group that the person they were assigned had perished but, in a seeming miracle, the young man Gerry was assigned survived. Then, in the bleakest part of the museum came the last machine telling of any remaining peoples' fates in the last days of the Holocaust. Gerry put his card in the machine and it printed out a short statement telling of his young man's capture, internment, and demise in a death camp just days before its liberation. Gerry began to cry, quietly saying over and over, "It could've been me. It could've been me."He kept the young man's information pass and, I've been told, referred to it throughout his life after that, using it as an inspiration to make positive change.Rep. Gerry Studds had the courage to be real, to feel, to grow, and used his life's experiences in the service of others. The angels will welcome him and, I imagine the spirit of the young Holocaust victim he held in his heart[...]

On Gay Men, Police, and the Parks


This is an open letter to a man who was recently detained at a public park because he was talking with his significant other after having walked past a playground with mothers and children present. Apparently one of the mothers complained to the police. It happened in Indianapolis but it could've happened almost anywhere in the United States.Dear Scott,Regarding your recent police detention for having the temerity to talk with another man in Broad Ripple Park:What exactly was the complaint? If you'd wanted to sit in plain view of the others in that park and kiss and touch each other except for genitalia fondling, it was your right, you know.Status is not probable cause.Get the police report. Put it online here. Seek the help of an aggressive attorney who gets that this was outrageous.This is hardly a rare and isolated incident. * People in Indiana have been arrested for legal touching in a manner that could not have been seen by anyone -- constituting private behavior even though it occurred on public property. There have been court decisions in our favor on this.* One fellow was arrested on an officer's lie for reading the Sunday paper at a picnic table, eating his McDonald's take-out breakfast, and not denying that he was gay. * Another case involved a man exposing his penis standing facing a urinal -- the charge was public indecency. I couldn't help but wonder if the Indianapolis Police Department and Marion County Prosecutor expected him to use the urinal by peeing his pants. * One esteemed lobbyist on police issues in Indiana's statehouse was well known as a cop for masturbating while watching men have sex in the park, priding himself on his ability to time his ejaculation so that he got off in time to arrest those he was getting off watching before they had a chance to. * Not that long ago, some Indianapolis City-County Councillors actively pushed to ban all gay people from city parks. The officer/lobbyist above beat one arrestee so badly the day of one public meeting on the subject that the fellow's jaw was broken in several places and his skull was fractured.If the complainant was an obvious idiot, as has been suggested, she should've been treated as such, with simple, discrete observation of you on the part of the officers establishing that there was nothing amiss if they couldn't figure out that she was an obvious idiot by speaking with her enough to leave you alone altogether. There was no cause to accost you demanding identification, much less hold you until you "checked out". Even if you'd had a previous conviction for public indecency in a park, unless you were under probation condition or court order keeping you from such facilities, you had as much right as anyone to be where you were undisturbed.Too many of us have internalized too much guilt about ourselves as sexual beings. It invariably surfaces in discussions about parks and such.Remember, if you were hets, your public gropings would be considered cute, the places you did it would be iconographically nostalgic, with names like "Lover's Lane", and they'd celebrate it with cherry blossom petals falling gently to the ground to the tune of Etta James, calling it "Pleasantville" or, at the very least, the backseat of a '54 Chevy in "American Graffiti".If they wanted to stop it, they would not hire (expensive) hunky plainclothes detectives to invade your private-in-erstwhile-public spaces nor persuade you to have sex in illegal ways when you might well have picked up someone and found some measure of legal privacy. They would not create special extra-punitive legislation that is unequally applied to you. They would not hold pre-election arrest sprees targeting you. They would not harass the private sexual venues that serve as alternatives to public behavior they claim they're trying to stop despite that they've barely done any of the things that have been demonstrated to reduce its incidence.Not only would they stop bel[...]

Wedge This!


Sen. Ken Gordon, proud new grandfather and Majority Leader of the Colorado Senate, just reminded me why I think he's the bee's knees. He's a Democrat who has, in a long career of political leadership, avoided partisan warfare, preferring to fight his battles on the merits of the issues with humor and integrity. He's running an uphill battle for that state's Secretary of State job * so that he can ensure that voting there is fair for all. If you can help his campaign, please do.The Special Session: In 2004, a number of states put the issue of gay marriage on the ballot. Some say this helped turn out conservative voters and was a factor in Bush's reelection.I'm not sure this is true, but it is part of the mythology of 2004, and it has caused both parties to look for ballot measures to help turn out their voters. In Colorado, the Republican ballot measure that was supposed to turn out conservative voters in 2006 was Initiative 55, the ban on services to illegal immigrants.This is why some Republican leaders insisted we have a special session after the Supreme Court's decision to prevent 55 from going on the ballot. It had more to do with winning candidate elections than actually dealing with the issue of immigration.During this special session, Republicans did not advocate for passing a law to prevent immigrants from receiving services. Instead, the Republicans pushed to put a measure on the ballot so that "the people can have their right to vote."When Ed Jones (R- El Paso), went to the microphone and spoke of the "people's right to vote," I asked him if the people had a similar right to vote on domestic partnerships. I handed him a petition to help put domestic partnerships on the ballot. He wouldn't sign it. I tried to place a pen in his hand."Get your hand off of me," he said.I said, "What about increasing the minimum wage? Do the people have a right to vote on that?"Apparently the people only have a right to vote on services for illegal immigrants.Let me be clear: I agree that immigration is a real issue that needs action. My objection is to those who would use it for political purposes in ways that cause collateral damage to people who are American citzens.Joan Fitzgerald had a bill that allowed services only to those legally here, and would have done it as of August 1st, rather than after a November election. The Governor blasted it during a rare committee appearance.But then something happened. Business went to the Governor and pointed out that nearly 200,000 people who would not be able to provide documentation are working in Colorado. There was a bill pending that would have caused all of these people to lose their jobs. I wasn't in the meeting, but when I heard that statistic, I thought we need to understand the impact of what we are doing a little better before we risk the economy of Colorado.Maybe the Governor decided the same thing. In any case, he worked out a compromise with Democratic leadership, and we passed legislation that does require proof of citizenship before people can receive services, but doesn't put it on the ballot.Some Republicans were outraged. Senator Mitchell (R-Broomfield) said in the Rocky Mountain News, "Bill Owens is the Bill Clinton of Colorado politics. He took over eight years ago, when the Republicans were in the majority in the legislature, and he's lost that. Now he continues to triangulate and make clever deals and treasure his personal approval rating."This is an amazing statement from a Republican legislator about our Republican Governor. What has happened is that the Governor, as he did on Referendum C, has decided not to be a knee-jerk supporter of far right positions. He has this troublesome ability to pay attention to the welfare of the state and work across the political spectrum.In the end, Colorado benefits from the compromise and a divisive issue does not end up on the ballot. We passe[...]

Lesbian By the Grace of the Goddess, Queer By Choice


I've never been comfortable basing our rights on a 'we can't help it' rationale. It suggests that we're somehow pitiful things -- that non-exclusively heterosexual sexual orientation is a defect, not the 'every other point on the infinite-points line segment that is normal human sexual orientation' that they are.It also begs the denial of rights to those who do exercise any level of control over their attractions (the stuff of sexual orientation at the combined sexual, affectional, and emotional levels) if such a thing is possible or to make conditional of those rights the exercising of abstinence or other-directional control of behavior related to those attractions a la the pre-Dos-Equis Exodus zombies.Rights are rights. They are not meant to be conditional on accidents of birth or behavior one wouldn't expect of others. They are meant to just be -- as we are meant to just be.I'm always suspicious when someone even wants to know why we're other than exclusively heterosexual without wanting to equally understand why people are exclusively heterosexual. I mean, when was the last time you heard such a balanced inquiry outside of a university sexology department anyway?Worse, this be-nice-to-the-queers-'cause-they-can't-help-it strategy sends a message of brokenness to our people when we should be instilling pride and strength in who we are.The Kinsey researchers, as if they were precursors to The Matrix's Morpheus, used to ask a question of their gay-identified subjects, "If you could take a pill that would make you heterosexual, would you?" Most in those dark days near the dawn of our fight answered that they would.How often today do we hear the question, "Who in their right mind would choose to be gay?" Can you imagine anyone asking who in their right mind would choose to be black or Jewish or any number of other non-majority members of protected classes just because they're oppressed?'Neo'-queer that I am, I would not take that pill. I prefer to live an authentic life, unplugged from the matrix of het convention, demanding in body, soul, word, and deed to be exactly the queer I am blessed to be. If truth be known, I'm a gay supremacist, firm in the knowledge that we're better than hets in many ways that matter to me (and were proven superior by researchers acting on behalf of the U.S. Army, no less, trying to figure out if they could more easily tell who the queers were so they could more efficiently keep us out of the service). Even if I wasn't a queer supremacist and despite having suffered loss of family, jobs, and other opportunities, as well as having been subjected to antigay violence, including rape, due to my sexual orientation -- enough of the standard reasons given for why people in their right minds wouldn't choose to be queer to count and then some, I'd still choose to be a lesbian -- and it doesn't define me as crazy.How else, after all, would I have the spousal love of my wife that grows fuller and deeper with every day of our lives? Where would I find such a delightful subculture so rich with beauty and humor and the sort of strength forged in adversity that so fits my soul? I love how big our hearts are that we care not only for each other as if we're all each other's family -- which we are having defined family beyond mere blood to encompass all those who act like it -- but also care for those who've been our oppressors and their unwanted offspring when their own have discarded them as if the Sisters of Perpetual Annoyance were the inspiration of Mother Teresa (which, in an odd way in HIV-driven urban need, they were.) The highest per capita queer occupations are not hairdressers or actors, they're allied health professionals.I love our freedom to define ourselves as we see fit and the creative diversity with which we've done so. And hets are now benefitting from the heightened ability we've achieved to cr[...]

Truth, Justice, and the American Queer


When a group of otherwise law-abiding citizens is made felons because they will not lie to their government, as the lawfully civilly married same-sex couples in the United States are who refuse to buckle to government coercion to deny our marriages with the federal and all but a handful of state and municipal governments will not lie, something is deeply wrong so far beyond economic injustice as to make a lie of the very notion of a free and just nation.

I am, by definition not my own, a scofflaw. The rule of law, thus, by all rights, has no more hold over me. I am left to my own devices with regards to justice. Strange that by my government's attempts to rob me of freedom and justice, I am freer than I have ever been, including free to define justice and good citizenship as I see fit.

Of course, this is just another exercise of honesty in fulfillment of personal integrity -- the culmination of a lifetime's worth of choices. And I am, after all, just one in a long line of increasingly free people who have chosen personal truth over the pressure to lie. In the last hundred years alone we've lived authentically despite Comstock, Pink Triangles, McCarthy, Livingston and the Postal Indecency laws and witchhunts, professional licensure bans, touching while dancing bans, college student witchhunts, liquor sales bans, Stonewall Riots, Don't Tell the Truth to the Military Lest the Generals Get the Vapors, sodomy laws, and the ever-pervasive coming out -- so many ways to try to silence a people, to shame a people, to try to erase our very existence.

Telling the truth is so human, so perilous, so simple, so revolutionary.

Mission Accomplished!


The memo from Ambassador Khalilzad to Condi says, if not all, plenty enough.Point 1 (of 23):Iraqi staff in the Public Affairs sector have complained that Islamist and Militia groups have been negatively affecting daily routine. Harassment over proper dress and habits is increasingly persuasive. They also report power cuts and fuel prices have diminished their quality of life.These are the privileged ones with access to the power. Goddess only knows what life is like for Iraqis who aren't so well-connected!Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of Saddam Hussein but, under his rule, women had freedom of choice about dress, religious observance, full access to the professions, and didn't suffer the sort of restrictions to things like automobile driving and use of modern communications that women in much of the Middle East do. American occupation has let things devolve to the point that women are now being threatened into conservative, Persian-style religious dress, including demands by some government ministries that their employees wear the hijab at work. Taxi drivers fearing retaliation by religious death squads are demanding their female passengers not only comply with conservative dress requirements but refrain from using cell phones in the taxis. Women report being pressured not to drive. No single sect is responsible. Factional fighting among employees over religious dress codes has surfaced in the embassy.Men and children are also under dress scrutiny -- shorts and jeans are out.Early signs of the ethnic cleansing faced by Kurds elsewhere in Iraq are now surfacing in Baghdad -- and militias are often involved.Electricity is avaliable intermittently only 4-8 hours per day -- in 115-degree heat -- and none after 2 a.m. -- and that's with generator supplementation, for which they pay more per month than most Iraqi families' incomes. In a country with so much oil that it flows freely from the ground like Jed Clampett was making like Johnny Buckshotseed, people wait twelve hours in line for gas.The middle class is leaving in droves -- particularly on the heel of kidnapping threats and kidnappings themselves. Being identified as a government employee -- particularly a U.S. government employee -- is a potential death sentence. Things are so bad that even Green Zone gate guards are acting more loyal to partisan militia forces, adding to the danger. Green Zone employees hide this from their families, thus they can't come in to work on weekends or holidays.The most telling bit was this report from one female Iraqi embassy employee:She told us ... that most of her family believes the US -- which is widely perceived as fully controlling the country and tolerating the malaise -- is punishing the population as Saddam did (but with Sunnis and very poor Shia now at the bottom of the list.) Otherwise, she says, the allocation of power and security would not be so arbitrary.A male employee describes a "burden of responsibility, new stress coming from social circles who increasingly disapprove of the coalition presence, and everyday threats weigh very heavily." The Iraqi Christian district is now under mukhtar control.The embassy has now begun shredding documents with employees' names on them and they haven't been able to use locals as on-camera translators for over half a year.Factionalism requires stealth and good acting skills to travel within the city, adopting the dress and habits of the area one is in at any given moment -- if one can get past the neighborhood barricades that I started noticing in pictures in the last year. Spies called alasas are common. The only security that embassy employees can now trust is the mercenary goon squads run by American contractors sans Iraqis.This is a land that has had enough KBR gravel dumped on it to practically pave it wholesale. There are e[...]

Free mp3 Folk Music Downloads


... and blues, bluegrass, celtic, children's, gospel, traditional music ...

I realize this is off topic for this blog, but I'd like to take a moment to invite you to visit eFolkMusic. It's an amazing nonprofit organization and website dedicated to supporting and promoting folk music and folk musicians.

eFolkMusic offers some free mp3 downloads to nonmembers. It offers 1,000 free downloads to new members, plus you get a 100-song cd sampler when you sign up. You also get a 10% discount on merchandise purchased through the site. Membership only costs $30, so you get about $1,000 of value from your $30 membership fee. I think that's pretty cool.

If you're wealthy and benevolent, eFolkMusic also has ways you can support their work (with higher-level memberships). If you'd like to help by promoting artists locally, I think they'll let you do that,too. It's a great site and a great organization.

I joined eFolkMusic with an artist membership last week. My profile is now active. I'll be posting another song every week or so. If you like the music, please visit often.

The Web We Love is Endangered


The Web We Love is EndangeredBy Annalee Newitz, AlterNetPosted on May 8, 2006, Printed on May 9, 2006's been a lot of hysteria on the Internet lately over something called "network neutrality," and you can blame it partly on AT&T chair Edward E. Whitacre Jr. Whitacre, whose company's recent merger with SBC Communications makes it one of the biggest owners of telecommunications cables in the country, got all huffy late last year about sharing AT&T's precious wires with any old Internet service provider who felt like sending packets. "For a Google or a Yahoo or a Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes for free is nuts!" he told a Business Week reporter in one of those classic "will somebody please tell our chair to shut up" moments.However crudely put, Whitacre gave voice to a sentiment that's becoming common among execs of companies like AT&T, Comcast, BellSouth, and others that provide the actual physical wires (often called "pipes") that bring us the shiny Web. Because companies like Google take up a lot of space on AT&T's wires, AT&T wants to get paid extra to handle that. Think how much more cash it could be making if Google paid for the privilege of offering faster searches over AT&T. That's exactly the way Whitacre and his ilk see it.The problem with this moneymaking idea is that the architects of the Internet and industry regulators at the FCC are enamored of something they call the network neutrality principle. Although never written into US law, this principle holds that nobody's Internet traffic should be privileged over anybody else's -- to do so would be like letting an electricity company cut a deal with GE so that only GE appliances got good current. As it turns out, the neutral network provides an excellent platform for business models that cluster at the ends of the wires: Everything from Google and eBay to ISPs and music-downloading companies are based on the idea that money is made by shooting good stuff over the wires, not by making some wires better at getting good stuff.Underlying network neutrality is the idea that people should be allowed to attach whatever they like to the ends of the Internet's wires -- and they should be able to do it without significant hindrances, like paying steep access fees to AT&T to get their businesses online. Neutrality is why we routinely get cool new "end" innovations like virtual reality world Second Life or smart phones that connect to the Internet. As both Internet protocol inventor Vint Cerf and former FCC chair Michael Powell have argued, these kinds of new worlds and widgets are only possible because the wires are neutral and their ends are open.What would a world without network neutrality be like? The worst possibility is that companies like AT&T would create "prejudiced pipes" that push paying customers' traffic along more quickly than nonpaying customers'. If indie bookstore Powell's wasn't able to pay AT&T's fees, its online store might load far more slowly than Amazon's -- if it even loaded at all. Some companies might force music and movie companies to pay extra to make their downloads work, thus preventing anyone but the major labels and studios from making their wares available online. Ultimately, consumers would have less choice online, and small "end" start-ups would be at a great disadvantage when they put their stuff online. If established players like the New York Times can pay the prejudiced-pipe owners for quicker load times, who will bother to read slow-moving blogs?Many fear that this scenario may come to pass rather soon, because Congress is in the yearlong process of trying to replace the Telecommunications Act of 1996 with an updated legislation package. Several potential drafts have[...]

Privacy Invasion - Dead or Alive


Liberals just don't get it.

The whole idea is that by invading every American's privacy, the government can reduce via prevention the death and injury toll that terrorists might inflict upon Americans as they did on 9/11.

Clearly the focus is upon preventing violent crime.

Does anyone think that a victim of criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, or aggravated assault, truly cares whether she died by the hands of Muhammad Atta of the Middle East, or at the hands of Harold Sweeney of Boston? Dead is dead, raped, robbed assaulted, it is all the same to them, correct?

Can you even begin to calculate the number of violent crimes we could prevent if the government could listen to every phone or oral conversation every person in America is having, read the mail or email of every person in America, or know there every location at the snap of a finger?

When you consider that in 2004 there were
1,367,009 violent crimes committed in the US, why stop with terrorists, when we could prevent thousands and thousands of violent crimes through the logic of privacy invasion. These criminals terrorize Americans daily.

Invade their privacy, stop crime. It's a no brainer.

The Fourth Amendment had its chance. It was good for a couple of hundred years or so, but given George Bush's inherent executive power during the war against terrorist inflicted violent crime, why stop at preventing the small number of terrorist casualties we imagine, when we can prevent so many violent crimes?




Karl Rove Indicted


"Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators By Jason Leopold t r u t h o u t | Report Saturday 13 May 2006 Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove. During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning. Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, did not return a call for comment. Sources said Fitzgerald was in Washington, DC, Friday and met with Luskin for about 15 hours to go over the charges against Rove, which include perjury and lying to investigators about how and when Rove discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative and whether he shared that information with reporters, sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said. It was still unknown Saturday whether Fitzgerald charged Rove with a more serious obstruction of justice charge. Sources close to the case said Friday that it appeared very likely that an obstruction charge against Rove would be included with charges of perjury and lying to investigators. An announcement by Fitzgerald is expected to come this week, sources close to the case said. However, the day and time is unknown. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the special prosecutor was unavailable for comment. In the past, Samborn said he could not comment on the case. The grand jury hearing evidence in the Plame Wilson case met Friday on other matters while Fitzgerald spent the entire day at Luskin's office. The meeting was a closely guarded secret and seems to have taken place without the knowledge of the media. As TruthOut reported Friday evening, Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources. Details of Rove's discussions with the president and Bolten have spread through the corridors of the White House, where low-level staffers and senior officials were trying to determine how the indictment would impact an administration that has been mired in a number of high-profile political scandals for nearly a year, said a half-dozen White House aides and two senior officials who work at the Republican National Committee. Speaking on condition of anonymity Friday night, sources confirmed Rove's indictment was imminent. These individuals requested anonymity saying they were not authorized to speak publicly about Rove's situation. A spokesman in the White House press office said they would not comment on "wildly speculative rumors." Rove's announcement to President Bush and Bolten comes more than a month after he alerted the new chief of staff to a meeting his attorney had with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in which Fitzgerald told Luskin that his case against Rove would soon be coming to a close and that he was leaning toward charging Rove with perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators, according to sources close to the investigation. A few weeks after he spoke with Fitzgerald, Luskin arranged for Rove to return to the grand jury for a fifth time to testify in hopes of fe[...]

PhoneGate 'Net ReMix


Raw Story:Reps. Jane Harman (D-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI) today introduced the "Lawful Intelligence and Surveillance of Terrorists in an Emergency by NSA Act" (The LISTEN ACT).The Act would require any attempt to listen in on Americans or collect telephone or e-mail records to be be conducted in accordance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), or Title III of the criminal code. In both cases, court warrants based on probable cause are required. The Act states that FISA is the exclusive way to conduct electronic surveillance of U.S. persons on U.S. soil for intelligence purposes.It also states that the 2002 Congressional Act authorizing the use of military force did NOT authorize spying outside of FISA. Rep. Conyers further says:"It is a sad day when the Congress of the United States must compel the President to abide by the onstitution." The Ranking Member on the House Committee on the Judiciary said further, "I regret that we have to legislate once again on an issue that was clearly settled by this Congress nearly 30 years ago in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."But the problem isn't a lack of laws, it is a lack of enforcement of our current laws.If this proposed legislation truly covers the same ground as does FISA (which is what Conyers and the article seem to be saying), it may actually harm the Dems' best position on the issue, since the Repugs will say that Bush's spying must be lawful and not covered now by FISA, if the Dems are trying to pass legislation to have FISA cover it. It also could make Harman appear to be doing something, when she was one of the few Dems in the world who knew about the eavesdropping and kept Bush's secret(s).Maybe they're hoping that two statutes trump a signing statement!GREAT telecommunications (Daily Kos):1844: In the first demonstration of Morse Code, the message What God Hath Wrought is transmitted from the Supreme Court room in the Capitol to Baltimore, Maryland.1876: "Mr. Watson, come here...I want you! (If ya know what I mean...)" [and Watson, tears in his eyes, arms outstretched, comes running...]1878: Emma Nutt becomes the first telephone operator in America, earning 10 bucks a month.1927: The first transAtlantic telephone service begins between the U.S. and London.1951: Long-distance calling without operator assistance begins.1954: The Ericofon becomes the coolest phone ever made.1965: Maxwell Smart foils KAOS terrorists thanks to his shoe phone.1964: World's first videophone system.1983: Chicago becomes the site of the first cellular phone system in America.2004: Mink, Louisiana becomes the last community in the United States to get phone service.2006: "The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call recordsof tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY. The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans -- most of whom aren't suspected of any crime."Holy police state, Batman![Paean to Mother's Day:Batman's Mother:"It's a nice car, Bruce, but do you realize how much the insurance is going to be?"George W. Bush's Mother:"Well, George, why can't you be more like your father?"]My fellow Americans, in the eyes of Republican President George W. Bush, we are all al Qa'ida suspects. (Complimentary AK-47s are now available in the lobby. Make sure you grab an extra one for Grandma.)Just be thankful the MSM aren't calling it "freedom listening" or something similar.But hark! WAPO uses the L word (no, not that L word, silly -- the L-ying one!) in a headline...[...]

Dean Recants, Sorta


Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana blog has an update wherein he describes "a red-faced Dean" backpedalling. Dean also says, in so many words, that the platform plank is nothing more than toothless, platitudinous mush except for the important difference that it opposes a constitutional amendment designed to "short-circuit" the pathway to justice.

In other words, virtual equality lives on at the DNC, continuing to push actual civil equality aside.

HRC's Joe Solomonese wasn't buying Dean's denouement, either:

"Governor Dean's comments weren't a mere slip of the tongue but a glaring reminder of the governor's lack of leadership on this issue.

"As we face a Senate vote in June that threatens to put discrimination in our Constitution, Governor Dean should not only have known better but he should have used the opportunity to speak out about the lack of values involved in the current constitutional debate.

"While Governor Dean's clarification of the Democratic platform's inclusive message is a step in the right direction, it's imperative that the Democratic National Committee and Governor Dean himself continue on that path in a clear and unequivocal way. We join fellow gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender leaders in concern over a troubling series of missteps that fail to convey Governor Dean's and the DNC's commitment to equality."

Nor did Rusty Shackelford in his response to the Stonewall Democrats' doing their best "yeller dawg":

"Oh please mary,

We know this wasn't a mistake. Gay Democrats have corrected Dean on this very issue before.

"Are you going to tell me that Governor Dean just didn't know what his own party platform says?

"Are you going to tell me that Governor Dean went to speak to Pat Robertson at the 700 club and WASN'T prepared by his communications team to answer a question on marriage?

"This was planned. And Dean is intentionally distancing the DNC from the LGBT Community because he mistakenly believes it will help come election time. He is wrong!"

Rusty then gets down to brass tacks:

"If you don't take a stronger stand on this issue, and soon, you might as well go to your conference with a big sign around your neck that reads 'Kick Me'."

Howard Dean Flies His True Colors


PREFACE: If the following strikes a nerve, please help replace the money NGLTF had to give back to the DNC in order to maintain The Task Force's integrity. Call S. Ezra Towne at NGLTF's Washington Office: 202-639-6312 or go to the Task Force website.Never one not to say, "I told you so", irritating cuss that I am, let me remind people that I tried to warn them about Howard Dean, who this morning appeared on the 700 Club emphasizing his view of the Democrat's national platform plank on gay families, which is that it supports the notion that "marriage is between a man and a woman".NGLTF has already taken umbrage, chastising Dean and giving him back the donation they recently got from Dean's Democrats:PRESS RELEASE:MEDIA CONTACT:Roberta Sklar, Communications Director(Cell) 917.704.6358rsklar@thetaskforce.orgNational Gay and Lesbian Task Forcedenounces DNC Chair Howard Dean's misrepresentation of party platformReturns $5,000 donation from Governor Dean in protestWASHINGTON, May 10 -- In a Christian Broadcasting News segment aired today on The 700 Club concerning how Democrats are reaching out to evangelicals, Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee, said, "The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says. I think where we may take exception with some religious leaders is that we believe in inclusion, that everybody deserves to live with dignity and respect, and that equal rights under the law are important."In fact, the DNC 2004 platform says, "We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families. In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a 'Federal Marriage Amendment.' Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart."This plank was considered a victory for its inclusive references to gay families and activists. We are proud that two of our current Task Force board members -- Roberta Achtenberg and Jeff Soref -- fought hard for it. The platform was approved by the more than 4,000 elected and at-large Democratic delegates who met in Boston in 2004 to pick a presidential candidate, and there have been no official revisions of the platform since 2004.Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive DirectorNational Gay and Lesbian Task Force"Governor Dean is wrong about what the Democratic platform says about marriage equality. Disturbingly, this is not the first time he has misrepresented this important and affirming plank, and he has been asked before to correct the record and to cease making these misleading statements."Governor Dean's record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues since becoming DNC chair has been sorely and sadly lacking. The Democratic Party chair should stand by and fight for the party's own platform and values. In light of Governor Dean's pandering and insulting interview today with the Christian Broadcasting Network, we have decided to return the DNC's recent $5,000 contribution to us. We do so with great sadness, knowing that the Democratic Party has long been a champion of our rights. Once again, we urge the governor to accurately represent the party's commitment to equality for LGBT people and our families, and to do everything in his power as chair to realize this vision. This would include but not be limited to fighting anti-gay ballot initiatives in various states this November. We urge him to take t[...]

Stonewall Dems Gone Mad?


Stonwall Dems, with all the hotels in Pittsburgh owned by queer-friendly corporations to choose from, is holding its conference* at a HILTON hotel -- you know, the corporation that worked overtime to pass the anti-marriage-equality amendment in Hawaii and it's touting de-gay-the-DNC Dean as a big draw to boot.

What, are they selling mushy tomatoes and rotten eggs for the occasion and think this is going to boost sales???

I may have been as close to born a Democrat as they come but it doesn't require me to check my brain or my integrity at the door. Why are they asking me to?


Child Porn Legislation -- Not Always What It Seems


It's no secret that I'm a staunch opponent of child pornography and other forms of child sexual abuse. I've risked much to expose abusers and taken an active role in passing legislation to deal with the problem. But I've always fought simultaneously to keep that legislation narrowly tailored to that purpose and fought, usually successfully, to keep legislation in my sphere of influence from overreaching by using the penalties and tactics appropriate to stop child predators against the illegal acts of mere consenting adults with each other, not to mention the legal and often good acts involving sexual subjects, including HIV and sexuality education and just plain old adult pleasure.

As Attorney General Gonzales and the issue of child pornography on the internet have been much in the news of late, it wouldn't hurt to revisit the last overreach this administration pushed in a sleazy attempt to use the best desires of all decent people to protect the weak to accomplish a far broader, by no means all laudable goal. Make no mistake about it, they want to get that unconstitutional trash reinstated.

I encourage you to communicate to your Congressional representatives that you support strong enforcement against traffickers in children and child pornography but that legislation must be crafted so as not to weaken the First Amendment nor reward the Dominionists with yet another step into the mire of invasive hyper-Calvanism run amok.

I also encourage support of those groups like Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund that help keep the line between enforcement of the unthinkable and persecution of the merely lawfully discomforting bright.


What a friend said to me about how she feels about war:

"War is nothing but government-mandated retroactive abortions. If they want to take my child to fight in the war, I'd say to them, 'If I hadn't wanted this child, I wouldn't have gone through 9 months of puking and misery. I could have had an abortion.' That could have been my choice. They want to tell you that you can't kill them when you conceive, but then they take them without your consent and kill them after you've had all that time to get attached, and you have no choice. People don't think about how mothers feel. We don't want people to take our babies ... EVER. I mean, really, think about it. How can they say abortion is so wrong? They throw a big fit saying, 'You can't kill. You can't kill. It is a viable life.' An eighteen year old is definitely a viable life. It's not that I'm for abortion. I'm not. But, I think the two are comparable."


I Can't Afford My Gasoline

Quote of the Day


"Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."
-- Nelson Mandela, Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize


Ben Cohen (of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream) explains the national budget using Oreo Cookies.

Most Recent UCC Ad


Here's another ad that's 'too controversial' to be aired on network tv stations. (African American mom and crying baby, gay couple, person with a walker, Middle Eastern man ... all are ejected from church pews.) The written tag line is, "God doesn't reject people. Neither do we." The voice over at the end says, "The United Church of Christ. No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here."

Brokeback Lost and Found


On the Brokeback Mountain website, there's a place for people to write their own stories...I may be one of the few queers in America who hasn't seen Brokeback Mountain. I sense that it will take much courage and time to process and haven't had the luxury of time for that lately, especially as I've been dealing with the resurfacing in my life of the woman I lost at twenty-one to family prejudice, her internalized religious bigotry, and my fears of destroying the relationship by letting it grow where it should have -- fears born from having previous ones fall apart as soon as the other person crossed that line to sexual expression and scared herself enough to need to run far and fast away from that part of herself -- only to have the non-blooming-non-growth stymie my relationship with my girlfriend all by itself until she ran into the arms of the first man who offered.I remember my mother calling me a liar when my father spilled the beans my stepmother had broken my confidence about, saying, "R. would never do a thing like THAT!" -- "That" said with all the disgusted vehemence of a slap across the face -- "That" being the look in R's eyes I saw when I awoke to find her kneeling by my bed watching me sleep, wanting desperately to wake me and make love with me but too afraid of herself, her mother's already profoundly expressed disapproval, her fear of eternal damnation -- "That" being my very being -- me wrapped definitionally in a sense of love and being orchid-fragile and years from being able to stand tall and take for myself from myself.I remember flying back to town for R's wedding just a few months after that confrontation that ended with me leaving home for good -- going to a shower, spending precious moments with her after the clueless gaggle of girls had left...She showed me the dress she and her mother had finished just the night before and we talked about her plans and I tried so hard to be happy for her. The next day, though, I sat next to my mother in the church with tears silently escaping down my cheeks, mother all stone cold disapproval, fully sure that everyone there could read my mind and were staring not at the bride but at her -- she feeling enough misappropriated embarrassment and shame that she broke her icy patrician facade with a whispered scolding that actually did draw the puzzled attention of a few.I took the groom aside at the reception and promised him in graphic terms that, if he ever hurt her, he'd have to answer to me. R, believing that I would be the one hurt instead, never told me that he was physically and emotionally abusive, beginning within hours of their wedding with a pronouncement that she was to stop the music and dance performing that was so central to her soul. She cut off communication very quickly because she knew that, if she didn't, I'd know and would act and that the chances of tragedy were too high for her to let that happen. She rapidly lost herself in the recurrent spiraling cycles of abuse and only after all but the youngest of their four children were on their own did she finally manage to leave him.As I'd changed my name, having dropped my stepfather's last name she'd known me by and reclaimed my old family names I'd originally been given from my mother's maiden names instead, it took her some years to find me after she took her first tiny steps into freedom, finally finding me through Julien's List. Only then did she say th[...]