An Online Magazine in the Reality-Based Community.

Focus on the Family goes after music artists contributing to HRC "Love Rocks" CD

Monday, January 31, 2005


Professional heterosexual Melissa Fryrear of Focus on the Family, wants to punish artists, like teen queen Mandy Moore, who participated in a CD of love songs as a fundraiser for HRC.

Here's an opportunity to publicize the thing you're trying to kill...Focus on the Family wants to go after Mandy Moore, Yoko Ono and Dolly Parton. Does this organization have anything better to do? It looks like FoF's "Gender Issues Analyst" Melissa Fryrear's worried about homo Trojan horses (I'm not sh*tting you). From the queer-fixated, AmTaliban Southern Baptist news organ, Baptist Press, an incredible piece of wingnuttery (BP News):
Taking sides in a cultural battle, some of the nation's top artists -- including Mandy Moore, the Dixie Chicks and Dolly Parton -- have contributed to a CD that benefits the nation's largest homosexual activist organization.

All of the proceeds from the CD, "Love Rocks," will go to the Human Rights Campaign -- a homosexual activist organization that has figured prominently in the push to legalize same-sex "marriage" nationwide and works to promote "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights." The two-disk CD set -- which is being released just in time for Valentine's Day -- features some 30 artists, including Yoko Ono, who sings "Every Man Has a Man." Other top artists are Christina Aguilera, Emmylou Harris, Pink and Carole King.

Moore, who in 2002 starred in a movie ("A Walk to Remember") targeted to Christian teens, said she is glad to be a part of the project. "Humankind has its problems, but love isn't one of them," Moore, who sings "I Feel the Earth Move," said in a statement. "When two people -- regardless of gender -- long to care for each other, to protect each other, to treasure each other, we should do everything we can to foster that. I'm proud to be part of this album, which does just that." A statement by the Human Rights Campaign said the artists came together to "celebrate love and commitment regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."

But Focus on the Family's Melissa Fryrear, a former lesbian, said the CD's use of the word "love" is deceptive.

"'Love' is one of the Trojan horses for the acceptance of homosexuality," Fryrear, a gender issues analyst, said in an e-mail to Baptist Press. "Gay activists are trying to find an argument that carries emotional weight: 'love,' after all, sounds good to everyone. "The problem, though, is their definition of 'love' is carefully camouflaged to mean more than Cupid ever meant it to mean. Their definition is meant to mean the acceptance and the celebration of homosexuality."


Yoko Ono, Carole King and Dolly Parton are on the hit list of Focus on the Family.

"I just think it's a human rights issue," Ono told Rolling Stone. "The Constitution of this country is based on human rights and justice and freedom.... For [politicians] to say, 'OK, we're going to change the Constitution so the gays can't get married,' I think it is outrageous.... I just immediately started to feel that it was important to send that message out that anybody can fall in love regardless of the difference of religion, or race, or sex, or age. Love is love. It's beautiful."

Fryrear said that Christians should take note of the policies the Human Rights Campaign promotes. "HRC is about more than simply promoting "love," Fryrear said. "As the most aggressive pro-gay lobby organization today, HRC is about accepting, promoting, and encouraging homosexuality combined with silencing any disagreeing opinion."

The artists that participated, Fryrear, deserve criticism. "This is another example of celebrities using their platforms to promote the liberal ideological agenda that equates homosexuality with heterosexuality," she said.

The complete lineup of artists contributing to the CD follows: Christina Aguilera, Pink, Simply Red, Dixie Chicks, Nada Surf, Dido, Jen Foster, the Bootlickers, L.P., Sophie B. Hawkins, Keaton Simons, Rachael Yamagata, Matt Alber, Kinnie Starr, Eric Hinman, Carole King, Mandy Moore, Melissa Etheridge, the B-52's, Cyndi Lauper, Kimberley Locke, Yoko Ono, BT, Dave Koz, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Garrin Benfield, Ari Gold, Jason and deMarco, Randi Driscoll, Billy Porter and Oleta Adams.


Dunce Bush: "didn't know anything about" the Voting Rights Act



Clarence Page has an unbelievably revealing piece on our president's "gentleman's C" intellect. Civil rights of any kind are not high on the Bush agenda. (Chicago Tribune):
While courageous American troops and Iraqi civilians risk life and limb for the right to vote in war-torn Iraq, President Bush has made the 43-member Congressional Black Caucus, currently all Democrats, more than a little nervous about how much he values voting rights back here at home.

According to various eyewitnesses at a private meeting in the White House Cabinet Room last week, the president was characteristically cordial, yet remarkably non-committal in responding to a wide range of questions, mostly about racial disparities concerning such issues as employment, education, health care and legal rights. But the most "mind-boggling moment," in the words of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), came after Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) asked the president, "Do we have your support in extending and strengthening the 1965 Voting Rights Act when it comes up for renewal in 2007?"

The president responded, according to witnesses, in a way that made caucus jaws drop: He did not know enough about that particular law to respond to it, he said, and that he would deal with the legislation when it comes up.


Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Ma.) and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) were shocked by Chimpy's ignorant response to Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.'s question.

The black legislators were largely not pleased. "I thought the president either needs to fire his staff or pay more attention during Black History Month," Cleaver said. My efforts to reach caucus chairman Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) for a comment were not successful, but former chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Ma.) recalled, "I was shocked. I thought he was going to say that [renewing the law] is something that we need to do to make sure everyone's right to vote is guaranteed--especially when he has been saying so much about freedom and liberty in the rest of the world."

Perhaps, I thought charitably, the president's lack of similar passion for the Voting Rights Act displays persistent differences in the parallel realities of black and white America. I am less than a year younger than he is, yet I have no problem remembering how effectively the act ended poll taxes, literacy tests, gerrymandering, intimidation and other shenanigans that diluted or eliminated black voting power.

Yet, the president should not have to recall episodes like the 1964 deaths of three voting-rights workers in Philadelphia, Miss., or the state trooper attack on voting-rights marchers in Selma, Ala., in 1965, to think of the law those events helped to create. He need only remember the court disputes over ballot access in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio this past November. The Voting Rights Act is a part of his life's narrative too.

I wonder how Bush's new black pastor friends and black wingnut conservatives at Project 21 are taking this news about their fearless leader and advocate?


The Discovery Channel makes me want to hurl but I keep watching...

A disturbing semi-break from politics.

Kate and I were watching some strange program on Discovery ("When Surgical Tools Are Left Behind"). So far, they've shown a surgical sponge, and surgical implements like scalpels "lost" in abdomens. Sick sh*t. Things that left flesh-eating bacteria eating this guy's guts from infection so bad that in order to kill it, the nurses had to roll up gauze and soak it in Clorox and stick it inside him. This left a big gaping open pit in his stomach. The man lived. Oh, and another man had an infection so awful from a dumbass surgeon leaving behind tools in him that one of the patient's testicles died (that was their term) and he has to take testosterone shots every 10 days. The program noted how food products are inventoried better (via bar code) than surgical tools in an operating room. Bar coding is just now becoming a standard in the OR. Thank god.

OK. And Bush wants to limit lawsuit damages?

Somehow, in all this random foulitude we got to talking about other sick stuff. I don't remember how this came up (yes, you should see some of the crazy things we talk about), but I was surfing on my laptop during this program and came across this eBay item (click to enlarge)...



Is this what Dick Cheney was referring to when talking about the eBay economy?


Sad-sack Accuracy in Media calls for halt to funding for public TV and radio


AIM Editor Cliff Kincaid tries to bares his fangs at Commie PBS. The Barney Fife-evoking Don Irvine is Chairman of the wingnut media watchdog group that attacks institutions when they think they smell progressive thinking.

Of course this would happen. Armstrong and Maggie get their ethics-free hands caught in the public cookie jar, so Accuracy in Media is feeling sorry for itself as these media darlings of the Right take a hit. Now they attempting to deflect attention from the little scandal by going after public broadcasting. They must make sure that the perceived liberal institutions can be punished. Read this breathless, snotty press release. It recalls a schoolyard fight over candy.
As another conservative journalist is exposed on the payroll of the Bush Administration, the nation's leading media watchdog, Accuracy in Media (AIM), called on public television and radio to give up their $400 million in taxpayer subsidies. AIM Editor Cliff Kincaid says that it is obvious that the liberal media are only against taxpayer subsidies for journalists when they are conservative.

"The liberal media have found another conservative scalp, that of syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher, to hang on their wall, along with that of Armstrong Williams. But the money involved in these two cases is peanuts compared to the $400 million being taken from U.S. taxpayers every year to finance the Corporation for Public Broadcasting," charged Kincaid. "Yet we don't hear any cries from the press about liberals on NPR or PBS getting government hand-outs."

..."It's wrong to take this money and wrong not to disclose it," said Kincaid. "But it's also wrong to force the taxpayers to pay for public television and radio. The federal government should get out of the business of paying for journalism, whether it's on the right or the left."

[I love this tag, geez, as if they were unbiased...]
Accuracy In Media (AIM) is a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight on important issues that have received slanted coverage.

Hey, if you have something to tell AIM Editor Cliff Kincaid, contact Anne Tyrrell at (703)739-5920 or atyrrell@sbpublicaffairs.com or info@aim.org


Here's a place in Canada that Freepers would feel welcome


Ralph Klein, premier of Alberta, is a strong opponent of gay marriage; people say the public trickle-down effect is reflected in intolerance toward gays.

We've got the Deep South stereotype, Canada has Alberta as its haven for the redneck homophobe. Not easy being gay in Alberta:
"It can be dangerous for them to kiss, hold hands, or hug in public. And members of Edmonton's gay community say hot-button issues like same-sex marriage don't make it any easier to live their lives in peace.

It's gone beyond just that debate about marriage," said Kathy Da Silva, a facilitator at a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) centre in the city, and a teacher. "There are places in Edmonton you can go, but I know two guys who were hugging on Whyte Avenue and someone yelled 'faggot' at them."

..."More than anger, it makes me sad that kids have to live in a place where they have to be very sensitive to who's around them," Da Silva said.

Living in Alberta, with a premier who's vowed to do anything he can to stop same-sex marriage, doesn't make life easier, said Kris Wells, a Youth Understanding Youth group facilitator.

"Being a gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans-identified person in Alberta is particularly dangerous. As a queer person, you're acutely aware of who is behind you, ahead of you, and even beside you and inside you because of internalized homophobia," Wells said yesterday. "When you have a premier who won't support same-sex marriage, there is a trickle-down effect to the public."

Around Pride Week, Wells said, and when issues like same-sex marriage heat up, the local gay community faces a heightened risk of insults and assaults.


U.S. students say press freedoms go too far


Jack Dvorak is director of the High School Journalism Institute at Indiana University in Bloomington. He's concerned that it's not only HS students, but journalists that are ignorant of the First Amendment.

Our nation is f*cked. I don't want to hear any complaints from the Right about the Left corrupting students' minds. Take a look at what our school system is producing -- I knew it was bad, but are they not teaching history or civics anymore, or has the AmTaliban taken over the classroom too? Crap, a frightening number of today's high school students are functionally illiterate, so they wouldn't be reading the newspaper anyway. (USAToday):
One in three U.S. high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them, according to a survey being released today. The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get "government approval" of stories before publishing; 51% say they should be able to publish freely; 13% have no opinion.

Asked whether the press enjoys "too much freedom," not enough or about the right amount, 32% say "too much," and 37% say it has the right amount. Ten percent say it has too little.

The survey of First Amendment rights was commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and conducted last spring by the University of Connecticut. It also questioned 327 principals and 7,889 teachers. The findings aren't surprising to Jack Dvorak, director of the High School Journalism Institute at Indiana University in Bloomington. "Even professional journalists are often unaware of a lot of the freedoms that might be associated with the First Amendment," he says. [No sh*t, Sherlock -- look at the state of journalism today.]

The survey "confirms what a lot of people who are interested in this area have known for a long time," he says: Kids aren't learning enough about the First Amendment in history, civics or English classes. It also tracks closely with recent findings of adults' attitudes. "It's part of our Constitution, so this should be part of a formal education," says Dvorak, who has worked with student journalists since 1968.

Although a large majority of students surveyed say musicians and others should be allowed to express "unpopular opinions," 74% say people shouldn't be able to burn or deface an American flag as a political statement; 75% mistakenly believe it is illegal.


Ken Mehlman on John Kerry's appearance on Meet the Press

Sunday, January 30, 2005



I'll let you all have at him (and the Freepers). Yeah, Kerry wasn't the best candidate. He suffered from the same, establishment "don't play hardball" Democratic Party delusions that we are still seeing as they regroup and grumble, yet again, about needing to become Repug-lite to win. But Mehlman's statement is just ludicrous. The Queen himself:
“On a day when all Americans, regardless of party affiliation, are celebrating the growth of freedom and honoring the sacrifices of American and Iraqi troops with elections in Iraq, it's sad that John Kerry has chosen once again to offer vacillation and defeatism. Even after the first free elections in Iraq in more than 50 years John Kerry still believes Iraq is more of terrorist threat than when the brutal tyrant Saddam Hussein was in power and even more remarkably Kerry is now once again for funding our troops, after being for the funding before he was against it.”
-Ken Mehlman, RNC Chairman


Actual Freeper Quotes™

"Jean Francois was flip-flopping faster than a freshly landed fish."

"I love the rapid response team of the RNC. Clinton's "War Room" had nothing on these guys...kudos!"

"And was it just my boob tube, or were Jean Francois' hands about ten shades paler than his orange face?"

"JF'nK What a LOSER !"

"LOTS of long faces around town here in the People's Republic of East Vermont (formerly known as New Hampshire) today. I love it."

"He's a flouder. LOL"

"Why would the MSM even put Kerry up as a talking head-counterweight to the Bush adminstrartion on such a day as this? Has the MSM decided to hang Kerry out to dry in his own vomitous illogical posturing and to start working for the President?"

"wow. I see that the RNC is still in "rapid response mode"."

"I believe John Kerry is mentally ill." Either than or a certifiable nut case.

"Kerry is mentally ill. I have no doubt. As success in Iraq grows ever wider and becomes apparent to even the most pessimistic naysayer, kerry's behavior will become increasingly aberrant."

"And he intends to run again in '08?"

"While we're at it, we should be blaming the voters of Massachusetts....to get right down to it."




Time's 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America

Here you go...a nice list of folks to monitor for all kinds of hypocrisy and impropriety over the next few years. House Blenders, start Googling these folks so we can add them to the Conservative Values Monitor. Feel free in the comments to add interesting tidbits on our new friends below. I've not heard of many of them, but I don't doubt they're power brokers -- just outside of the spotlight, unlike our favorite media whores. I wonder if Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, Paul Weyrich and Rev. Tinkywinky feel left out? (Time via AmericaBlog):
  1. Howard & Roberta Ahmanson: The Financiers

  2. David Barton: The Lesson Planner

  3. Doug Coe: The Stealth Persuader

  4. Chuck Colson: Reborn and Rehabilitated

  5. Luis Cortès: Bringing Latinos To the Table

  6. James Dobson: The Culture Warrior [SpongeBob Dobson and his Focus on the Family should be #1 on our list.]

  7. Stuart Epperson: A High-Fidelity Messenger

  8. Michael Gerson: The President's Spiritual Scribe

  9. Billy & Franklin Graham: Father and Son In the Spirit

  10. Ted Haggard: Opening Up the Umbrella Group

  11. Bill Hybels: Pioneering Mass Appeal

  12. T.D. Jakes: The Pentecostal Media Mogul

  13. Diane Knippers: A Think Tank With Firepower

  14. Tim & Beverly LaHaye: The Christian Power Couple

  15. Richard Land: God's Lobbyist

  16. Brian McLaren: Paradigm Shifter

  17. Joyce Meyer: A Feminine Side Of Evangelism

  18. Richard John Neuhaus: Bushism Made Catholic

  19. Mark Noll: The Intellectual Exemplar

  20. J.I. Packer: Theological Traffic Cop

  21. Rick Santorum: The Point Man On Capitol Hill [Man-on-Dog-Sex Santorum is being groomed for 2008.]

  22. Jay Sekulow: The Almighty's Attorney-at-Law

  23. Stephen Strang: Keeper of "The Faith"

  24. Rick Warren: America's New People's Pastor

  25. Ralph Winter: A Global Mission



LGBT News Roundup, 1/31/2005

[NOTE: This is an early release on the House Blend of a weekly Daily Kos roundup diary that I post.]

Let's start off with the good news...

* NGLTF: 47% of U.S. Population Now Protected From Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force analysis gives us some good news -- significant positive shifts in public support for recognized civil rights for the LGBT community at the local level. The number of pockets of tolerance are growing, in spite of the hate campaign of the Right.
With Illinois acting last week to ban anti-gay discrimination, 47 % of the U.S. population -- 138 million people -- now lives in a jurisdiction that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, according to an analysis by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. Ten years ago, the figure was 34%.

The analysis also found that more than one in four Americans - 27% - now lives in a jurisdiction that bans discrimination against transgender persons, up from 4% ten years ago, and 5% just five years ago. Illinois's law also bans discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

"Thanks to the hard work of grassroots activists, the glass of basic fairness for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans is slowly filling up," said Sean Cahill, Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. "While we have a long way to go until all of us are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, the progress is undeniable and unstoppable."

The Policy Institute analysis concluded that the actions of state legislatures and town councils reflected strong public support for laws protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination.

As nondiscrimination protections have spread across the nation at the local and state level, a federal bill to ban anti-gay discrimination in employment has languished in Congress for nearly a decade.

The report also noted:

156 million Americans, or 53% of the U.S. population, live in a state or jurisdiction where one can be fired, refused service in a restaurant, or denied housing or a loan simply because of his/her actual or perceived sexual orientation.

215 million Americans, or 73% of the U.S. population, live in a jurisdiction where a person can be fired, refused service in a restaurant, or denied housing or a loan simply because of his/her actual or perceived gender identity or expression.


Anne Stanback of Love Makes a Family is adamant that civil unions are separate and unequal to civil marriage and that gays shouldn't settle for the half-way measure. Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell is opposed to marriage, but hasn't taken a clear stand on civil unions.

* Connecticut conflict: civil unions vs. marriage for gays. What a can of worms this opens, but the good news is that gay rights are being considered instead of being denied. I look forward to seeing how this debate unfolds in this state, which has a Republican governor -- but public support for both civil unions and marriage. "At the start of a legislative session that could for the first time give gay couples legal civil unions in Connecticut, one influential gay rights group says civil unions aren't good enough. Love Makes a Family, a coalition advocating marriage rights for same-sex couples, said that it has sent letters to friendly state legislators saying that they want the state to give gay couples equal marriage rights -- not civil unions, which the letter said confers a "less than" or "second-class" status on the couples' relationships.

"The world changed after Massachusetts," said Anne Stanback, president of Love Makes a Family. "In many states, getting civil unions would be considered a significant victory, but for Connecticut that's a step in the wrong direction. If they were to pass civil unions they might not have the appetite to come back and vote for marriage. We've seen that happen in Vermont. Connecticut has never set up a separate system for one group of people like this."



* Wal-Mart Recognizes Gay Families. The beleaguered discount retailer ( unfair pay to women, wage and hour violations, killing mom-and-pops), is seeing the light. "Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, has adopted a new definition of family that includes same-sex partners recognized under state law. The new definition of "immediate family" was included in a conflict-of-interest policy for employees that the company filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The policy which lays out the terms under which workers would violate that policy says, "You are responsible for advancing Wal-Mart's business interests when the opportunity to do so arises. You may not take any opportunities or use any confidential information for your benefit, or for the benefit of your immediate family members, that you discover or obtain through your employment with Wal-Mart."

It then goes on to define immediate family members to "include (whether by birth, adoption, marriage or Domestic Partnership or Civil Union, if recognized by your state or other local law) your spouse, children, parents, siblings, mothers and fathers-in-law, sons and daughters-in-law and brothers and sisters-in-law." The Human Rights Campaign applauded the change, which came with little fanfare. "We hope that with equal responsibility come equal benefits," said HRC's Daryl Herrschaft, deputy director for HRC's workplace project.

* Freepers react to Wal-mart recognizing same-sex families. I wondered how long it would take the Freepers, who are true-believers in this company as the bastion of all that is conservative, to weigh in on Wallyworld. Wait no longer -- here's what they're saying.


Actual Freeper Quotes™:

"My Uncle's sister is a lesbo assistant manager at Wal Mart. I understand she's ecstatic."

"When Wal-Mart does over to the other side, is there any hope left?"

"I wonder if Wal-Mart will change their little smily face from yellow to pink?"

"This'll be the first of many stores, major or kind of large, to cave into the gay agenda."

"I understand their reasoning but it will read like one more victory for the homosexual agenda. Oh well."

"Sam Walton would be turning in his grave."

"So a male employees can show up for work dressed as women, freaking out the customers and this has "nothing to do with their work."


Proud homophobe Sheriff Mac Holcomb of Guntersville, AL.

* Homo-bigot Alabama sheriff removes 'quaint' letter from county web site. Good old Mac had the Klan sheet ripped right out from under him, lol. He found out that using the taxpayers' money to spew his "nostalgic" views about homos didn't go over well with a good number of people. He is, however, unrepentant and plans to continue sharing his homespun, hate-filled messages on his new web site. "The letter was never meant to be an expression of official county policy," Holcomb said in a news release. "We at the Marshall County Sheriff's Department have always treated all victims of crime, all criminal suspects, all detainees, all inmates exactly the same. "We give them every right afforded them by Alabama law and the United States Constitution." Holcomb said the letter was his expression of personal beliefs, ones that "I still hold and will continue to hold until the day I die."

He said the letter will be removed and placed on a personal Web site, www.macholcomb.org.

"This will prevent the county from having to spend money unnecessarily in defending a frivolous lawsuit and ... this action will make it clear that the views expressed are my personal views and do not represent official policy of the county or the sheriff's department."

* "Ex-gay" leader expelled from counseling group. Wayne Besen, author of Anything But Straight, has an expose on a leader of the "ex-gay" movement on his web site. Richard Cohen, president of P-FOX, has been "expelled for life" out of the American Counseling Association for unethical conduct. The exclusive has the details on Cohen's violations. RawStoryQ/RawPrint.com has a copy of the letter.

Rabid religious wingnuts, Freepers and homo-bigot preachers on the loose.

* 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. This is fraudulent and dangerous and needs to be widely exposed. "When teenager Jeffrey Faircloth wanted a safe place to talk about his growing awareness that he might be gay, he called the National Youth Crisis Hotline - popularized as 1-800-HIT-HOME.

What he heard didn't surprise him. "I'd grown up in a very fundamentalist Christian family, so I wasn't surprised that the woman I talked to said she didn't know any gay people, but she knew they were sinners. She said she would give me the number of a group called Exodus that would help me change. I already knew the religious view, so I wasn't interested."

Luckily, a friend told him about HATCH, an organization in Houston that provides positive reinforcement for gay and lesbian youth. Faircloth forgot about 1-800-HIT-HOME until recently.

"I called the number last month because friends of mine heard rumors that Exodus was coming to Houston, and it seemed like the easiest way to get a phone number for Exodus so we could ask, " he explained. Faircloth referred to the " Love Won Out" conference to be staged in Houston Feb. 19 by Focus on the Family. Graduates of Exodus, a program that claims it can turn people away from homosexuality, or ex-gays are among the speakers at the conference.


Homophobe Rev. Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, TX is on board with the Bush American Taliban agenda and sees strong future support for the GOP based on moral values. Vanderbilt University's Director of Black Church Studies, Forrest E. Harris Sr., thinks the GOP used gay marriage as a political smokescreen.

* Can the GOP count on the black religious vote in '08?. This article is interesting because it has countering voices on the long-term prospects of holding on to that religious vote for the next general election. This is a demographic the Democrats need to be worried about. The party has been way too complacent in expecting the black vote to "come home" when it gets down to the nitty gritty. [I would say this is a running theme with the Dems -- they are doing the same with the gay vote.] "I hope this last election was a wake-up call to the Democrats," said the Rev. Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington and a Bush supporter. Do I see a trend? Yes. ... Blacks who voted Republican made the difference in this election. "And if the same-sex issue is still on the political landscape in the next election, more blacks will vote Republican," said McKissic, who has drawn national attention for his outspoken opposition to same-sex marriages..."The (gay-marriage) issue was used as a political smokescreen" in the November election, said Forrest E. Harris Sr., director of black church studies at Vanderbilt University and president of American Baptist College. "Unfortunately, it was reduced to what it means to be a moral person" as opposed to looking at morality in terms of how "we honor life and are fair and just." ...The Rev. Herb Lusk, pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia and a friend of McKissic's, is a longtime Bush supporter. He gave the invocation at the 2000 Republican convention and called Bush's 2004 win "a great victory."


Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory is under pressure from the fundy group Operation Save America to restrict the use of public parks, specifically targeting Charlotte Pride; protestors at last year's Charlotte Pride.

* Charlotte may restrict use of public parks because of wingnut protest over Gay Pride event. Some people who say pornographic images were displayed at a gay and lesbian event in Marshall Park last spring are pushing officials to consider restrictions on groups who use city parks. A large crowd of concerned citizens showed up at Monday night's city council meeting to press local leaders to reject a permit application by the same group to hold the Charlotte Pride Festival in the park this year.

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory asked the city attorney to investigate possible restrictions on the group before allowing it to use a city park. He said he does not want to approve the Pride Festival permit until he hears back from the city attorney.


Tony Perkins earns the seal of "dangerous" from Al Franken, who has invited him to be on his Air America radio show.

* Get to know your American Taliban -- Tony Perkins, Family Research Council. There's a great profile of over-the-top wingnut and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in the Louisiana Times-Picayune, called "Conservative Christians pray Bush takes Cue." The frequent talking head is favored by the chat shows when they need to get a fringe voice on gay marriage, abortion and "family values." You might laugh at this guy, but he has an $11 million budget and a country full of pastors that are organized to push FRC's agenda, and the piece shows that he knows how to throw his weight around with the Bush admin.

General corporate, legislative, legal and community activism by your jolly neighborhood homophobes...


Shasta Bates sits in the bed of her pickup. A Denver police officer threatened her with arrest Monday for displaying an anti-Bush sticker that includes an epithet. "He said, 'You need to take off those stickers because it's profanity and it's against the law,' " Bates said of the officer.

* Moron alert: Denver cop tries to arrest woman for anti-Bush bumper sticker. I suppose this police sergeant isn't offended by the $88 million Bush has spent on PR flacks/journalists, or the 1,400 dead American troops in Iraq, or any of the other official misdeeds of the administration. But this woman's F*CK BUSH bumper sticker is worthy of an arrest and legal slapdown. He needs to hang up his political beliefs in the locker before he gets into his police cruiser. A Denver police sergeant is under investigation for allegedly threatening to arrest a woman Monday for displaying on her truck a derogatory bumper sticker about President Bush. "He told her that this was a warning and that the next time he saw her truck, she was going to be arrested if she didn't remove the sticker," said Alinna Figueroa, 25, assistant manager of The UPS Store where the confrontation took place. "I couldn't believe it."


Actual Freeper Quotes™
"But a federal court won't allow South Carolina to have a pro life license plate. We indeed live in sick times."

"Unless my eyes mislead me Shasta Bates is a lesbian. I bet the whole thing is made up BS. She should get counseling for her mental illness."

"Perfectly legal for cops to do this in Denver. They are a "home rule" city so whatever the cops and the City Council dream up is pretty much Law inviolate. At least, that is the BS I've been told right here on FR..."

"I don't think it's any worse that "S##T Happens" or those pics of little boys peeing on a Nascar Number...or whatever. It's all offensive and adding to the vulgarity of our society. People don't even make a pretense of an apology anymore with the old "excuse my French" when they curse in public. And I think the feminist movement brought about a lot of it."

"Right before the election we were in Denver and there was a car in our parking lot with a sign in the window.....Somewhere in Texas a village is missing it's idiot. My husband asked the guy if he was the one that was missing!!!! The guy was not amused!!!!! LOL.....Denver and Boulder are far far left kookburgers.....but for the most part the rest of the state is normally sane!!!!"

"But the "right" to use the F word against the President for all to see THAT'S okay! Stunning in the extreme!! Don't know the scripture, but the Bible says Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. "

"The cop probably made a joke and the lesbo went ballistic."

"Suits me, the place is a cesspool. I won't go there or patronize any buisness there. I tell merchents that, I won't pay taxes to support that town. Too bad I have to miss the Sportsmans Exposition again, though."

"some bumbers just beg to be chained to telephone poles" [WTF?!]



* Oklahoma College Republicans Plan 'Straight Pride Week'. This idea at the University of Central Oklahoma is as f*cking dumb as the Straight is Great parade that a radio station held in Chapel Hill, NC over the summer. The Straight Pride Week at Oklahoma is being planned by the College Republicans student group. "The general gist is that if you are a straight student on campus be proud, be loud, this is your time to shine," said college Republican Kyle Houts. The group has posted fliers on campus that read, "we're here, we're conservative, we're out."

Members of the Gay Alliance for Tolerance and Equality say they consider the College Republican's celebration an attack on gay and lesbian students.

"What is there to say about it, 'I'm proud, and I'm straight and I guess white,' I don't know?" said GATE member Jennifer Rodriguez. "I think they definitely are being discriminatory because there's probably a lot of gay Republicans out there."


Actual Freeper Quotes™

"Good for these kids. Sad but true, straight kids have to defend their right to be straight these days. Hopefully they will inspire hundreds of thousands just like themselves to join in celebration of "straight" and run the faggots back into their closets where they belong. I alwaysliked them better when they were in their closets...not out running around with all their "in your face" faggot stuff. They are negative roll models...back in the closet."

"The purpose of such a thing is to point to the ridiculousness of "gay pride". Proud because you have sex with someone in private? That's just stupid. That's not pride, that's vanity."

"If the straight students ever stage "an attack on gay and lesbian students" they will be holding their press conference in the Emergency Room."

"Some months ago, a radio station in my area held a "Straight Pride Parade." The gay activists in my class went absolutely nuts. Apparently straight individuals are not aloud to be proud of their heterosexuality." [Hey, I wonder if he's talking about me, lol?]

" All attempts to assuage their deep-seated guilt. Regardless of the cause or the depth of their homosexual desires and/or beliefs, I honestly think homosexuals know deep inside that its wrong. Many of their bizarre behaviors are simply projection and other manifestations of that guilt. (This concludes todays amateur psychologist minute. Thanks for watching.)"

"The Young Conservatives of Texas, University of North Texas Chapter sponsored a " Capture An Illegal Immigrant" Day on Thursday."


About that "Straight Pride Parade" here in NC, I wrote the radio station to give them a piece of my mind, and my wife Kate and I went and took pictures of the event to show how lame it was. The radio station provided such entertainment as pickup trucks emblazoned with the G-105 logo and they had blow-up sex dolls aboard. They also had classy mascots -- a beaver and a cock rooster -- marching with the sparse crowd. Har-dee-har-har.


Click to enlarge the above pix.

The poor souls couldn't muster enough people to close down the parade route. Or even the whole street during the procession. The Chapel Hill police held off traffic on one side of the street, for less than a block at a time as they marched about a quarter mile.





Jerry Falwell is sending love and prayers to his legal bootlicker, Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel, which has been instrumental in fighting gay civil marriage efforts with legal challenges.

* Get to know your American Taliban: Falwell blows kisses to Matthew Staver. Revel in his ardent support for Matthew as he nears his appearance before the Supreme Court over the ten commandments. "My dear friend Mathew Staver, president and general counsel for the Orlando, Fla.-based Liberty Counsel, will stand before the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the posting of the Ten Commandments in the public square. This is a daunting task, but I have great faith in Mat’s abilities and have confidence that God has raised up this man to take on this crucial undertaking...I want to ask readers to join me in prayerfully supporting Mathew Staver and Liberty Counsel in their battle to protect the Ten Commandments. I want every reader to place Mat’s name at the top of their prayer lists. We need to daily uphold this man as he seeks to legally confirm that the Ten Commandments are a centerpiece of American law and culture.

[Now to the meat and potatoes you faithful have all been waiting for...]

...Finally, I would urge readers to make a donation to Liberty Counsel to help subsidize this costly battle. Liberty Counsel is incurring many expenses. During the final preparation and argument phase of the case, the team will be shuttling to a number of different locations, which means many additional transportation and housing costs. For those who send a $100 donation to Liberty Counsel, Mat will send a copy of his booklet, “The Ten Commandments in American Law and Government,” which he used to help prepare for his Supreme Court argument. He will also send a beautifully matted presentation of the Ten Commandments, suitable for framing, to display in your home or office.

...The battle lines have been drawn and we must support Mat Staver — just as the men raised Moses’ arms when he grew weary in holding high the staff of God in battle — as he valiantly stands on the faith of our Fathers to defend the Ten Commandments.


How precious.


Thursday's anti-gay-marriage rally on Lawyers Mall. African-American preachers, Catholic congregants, lawmakers, mothers with children and busloads from around the state chanted, stomped and prayed during the two-hour rally, which mixed bipartisan religious fervor with political power; Republican Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has steered clear of hot-button social issues -- so far. (Dan Gross/The Gazette)



* Maryland's turmoil over gay marriage
. Gay marriage is one of the hottest of the hot-button social issues, but Maryland's top politicians are treating it like the proverbial hot potato. It became clear Thursday why the issue has become so politically explosive, as roughly 1,000 people demonstrated here in frigid weather for an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage. For Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), who has approached the issue gingerly, gay marriage holds the potential for political gain and pain. Ehrlich, who is pro-choice, has generally avoided conservative Republican social issues such as abortion. Characterizing himself as from the libertarian wing of the party, he has backed away from issues not always popular with conservatives, such as medical marijuana. Ehrlich only mentions his opposition to gay marriage in response to reporters' questions and is not pushing the constitutional amendment this year, although his aides have hinted at doing so next year. He did not attend the rally, which began shortly after his State of the State speech. "The reality is I don't think anything is going to happen in either direction on this issue, so it wouldn't make any sense for the governor to spend political capital on it," Igoe said. The one thing that is making me stark raving mad is this standard Kool-Aid-drinking response by Dems on this issue. It's getting to be such a cliche that it comes across as such in the article. Please Democrats, someone take a f*cking stand on this issue. Everyone knows you are punting because you have no f*cking balls.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan was one of several Democrats interviewed Thursday to cling to the phrase "marriage is between a man and a woman" while saying they see no need for a constitutional amendment. [PUNT!] House Speaker Michael E. Busch, who opposes gay marriage but has backed additional rights for gay couples, agreed."Maryland law is pretty clear. Marriage is between a man and a woman, and I support that [PUNT!], and I don't see that issue changing," he said. Busch added he does not see a need to act unless the courts see otherwise. "If the courts don't act, there is no need to make a change," said Busch (D-Dist. 30) of Annapolis. "Let it play out." [PUNT!]

And then the wingnut makes my point that the Right is not going to let this rest, no matter how much fancy footwork the Democrats do to avoid the issue.


Delegates Donald Dwyer, Herbert McMillan and Charles Boutin don't give a damn about the rights of their gay consituents. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. is one of three openly gay delegates in the Maryland legislature.
"We believe the time is right to bring this issue back and let the citizens of Maryland decide this once and for all," said Del. Donald H. Dwyer (R-Dist. 31) of Glen Burnie, one of the leaders of the rally. "We will not stand any longer for moral depravity." Del. Herbert H. McMillan (R-Dist. 30) of Annapolis said that he respects gay couples' right to live together, but said they "do not have the right to redefine marriage to fit their lifestyle. When anyone can be married to anyone else, no one is really married at all." Del. Charles R. Boutin (R-Dist. 34A) of Aberdeen, who sponsored the amendment last year, accused the Democratic leadership of quashing it in committee. "They know the votes are there to send this to the people," he said.
Meanwhile, gay rights advocates are working to pass legislation that will bring gay couples ability to have medical power of attorney and to add gays to the state's hate cimes law.
"The medical decision-making act will be back and we'll be pushing it," said Del. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington, one of three openly gay members of the legislature. The bill died in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee last year by a single vote but a committee shakeup has advocates hopeful for passage.

Madaleno said he is still hopeful of advancing a gay rights agenda although gay marriage in particular was dealt setbacks at the ballot box in 11 states in November, pointing to successes for advances for limited gay rights measures even in conservative states such as Utah. Madaleno said the issue poses a dilemma for Ehrlich, pointing to William Safire's definition of the Republican Party's two wings, one "righteous" and one "reasonable." ...Madaleno warned that while the governor may reap some political benefits if he jumps on the issue, he also faces pitfalls, pointing to "Morella Republicans" in Montgomery and Howard counties who might abandon him. He added that there is "an influential gay Republican community in this state that worked hard on his election. What happens to those people if Ehrlich comes out in support of a constitutional amendment?"

My question is, how many of these "influential gay Republicans" voted for Bush?


State Senators Jim Forrester and Fred Smith are on a mission to protect marriage in NC from the homos.

* Where we are in NC on a marriage amendment. We have been watching and waiting here for the new legislative session of the NC General Assembly. It was highly likely some of our southern-fried redneck wingnuts would submit another marriage amendment bill. We didn't wait long; Senate Bill S8 was put in the hopper this past week. The good news is that the Democrat-controlled legislature is making it harder for a bill to get to the floor. Sens. Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, and Fred Smith, R-Johnston, filed a bill to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The constitutional referendum, if approved by the Legislature, would go to voters at the May 2006 state primary election. A majority of senators last year sought consideration for a similar bill pushed by Forrester. The bill fell two votes short of the 30 needed to get it out of committee and onto the Senate floor for a vote. The Senate on opening day Wednesday made that rule even more stringent. Now, 34 signatures are needed instead of 30. The text of the bill:
Marriage is the union of one man and one woman at one time. This is the only marriage that shall be recognized as valid in this State. The uniting of two persons of the same sex or the uniting of more than two persons of any sex in a marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar relationship within or outside of this State shall not be valid or recognized in this State. This constitution shall not be construed to require that marital status or the rights, privileges, benefits or other legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried individuals or groups.



Arthur Smelt, left, and partner Christopher Hammer, shown Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2005, at their lawyer's office in Santa Ana, Calif., want to get married. The two men plan to be in federal court Thursday as their attorney argues that the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 22 are gross violations of civil rights akin to slavery or denying women the vote. (AP Photo/Matt A. Brown)

* Calif. Couple to Fight Gay Marriage Laws
. On Tuesday, three gay couples in Florida dropped their lawsuits challenging DOMA; they decided not to risk appeals that the U.S. Supreme Court might reject, setting a precedent. It leaves only a handful of federal cases pending, including this one. "Certainly, eyes are going to be focused on this particular case," said Matthew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, an opponent of gay marriage involved in some 30 cases nationwide. Hammer and Smelt, both 45, met in 1996 and held a commitment ceremony in their Mission Viejo home a year later. They tried to get a marriage license in Orange County at the time but were turned down. "I was laughed at," Hammer said. Their attorney, Richard C. Gilbert, pursued the case in federal court, even though most cases elsewhere were filed in state courts, where activists believe their chances are better...Gilbert, who said his arguments are different from those used in Florida, said he will appeal if he loses before the federal judge in Santa Ana. "I'll fight all the way to the United States Supreme Court if these plaintiffs are willing to fight," he said.


Corpse-like homophobe/anti-feminist head of the Eagle Forum, Phyllis Schlafly. BTW, her son John is openly g-a-y.

* Get to know your American Taliban: Phyllis Schlafly's Conservative Agenda for 2005. Why do I visit these sites? They make me want to hurl. Then, again, I like sharing these unhinged ideas with House Blend readers to keep reminding them that the Right is incredibly consistent and persistent. We know who the enemy is and they are insane. "Curb Supremacist Judges
Congress should pass a law providing that federal judges have no power to hear a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, or to hear a federal challenge to state marriage amendments, or to change the definition of marriage to something other than one man and one woman, or to give unmarried persons the legal benefits of husbands and wives....It's not only right, it is good politics to push ahead on protection of traditional marriage at every level and with all possible legislation.

Congress should pass a law providing that federal judges have no power to ban the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments, and other public acknowledgments of God by public officials or on public property.


Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education, freshly confirmed homo-bigot in the Bush administration, thinks Buster visiting a lesbian couple will corrupt children.

* Lesbian characters on PBS cartoon gets Education Sec's panties in a bunch. The not-yet-aired episode of " Postcards From Buster" shows the title character, an animated bunny named Buster, on a trip to Vermont - a state known for recognizing same-sex civil unions. The episode features two lesbian couples, although the focus is on farm life and maple sugaring. A PBS spokesman said late Tuesday that the nonprofit network has decided not to distribute the episode, called "Sugartime!," to its 349 stations. She said the Education Department's objections were not a factor in that decision. "Ultimately, our decision was based on the fact that we recognize this is a sensitive issue, and we wanted to make sure that parents had an opportunity to introduce this subject to their children in their own time," said Lea Sloan, vice president of media relations at PBS.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said the "Sugartime!" episode does not fulfill the intent Congress had in mind for programming. "Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode," Spellings wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of PBS.


Actual Freeper Quotes™:
"PBS must have come to the realization that after their unsuccessful all-out November liberal media blitz and all out anti-GW campaign (along with their fund-raising telethons) with every PBS talking head that didn't score too well with voters. They are skating on thin ice now. I say SHOW THE LESBIAN CARTOON..and lets all LAUGH when they KISS THEIR PUBLIC FUNDING GOOD-FRICKING-BYE....."

"Education Secretary Margaret Spellings appears to be an ally of us bigoted heterosexuals -I wonder what her take on the NEA is?"

"WGBH, the Boston public television station appears infested with the same homosexual activist scourge infesting Massachusetts..."

"Vermont, a state that recognizes same-sex civil unions. The episode features two lesbian couples, Ironically enough, the group of gay Republicans in Mass. is called the LOG CABIN Club (syrup connection!) :)"

"Is it just me or are our schools and children under a full-scale attack
from the brainwashing pro-homosexual leftists
?"

"Why not force all public schools to sponsor field trips to Adult Bookstores??? Enough of the Evil!!! "

* Florida couples drop challenge to DOMA. Three gay couples dropped their lawsuits Tuesday challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, saying they don't want to risk having a conservative U.S. Supreme Court set legal precedent by rejecting their cases. Attorney Ellis Rubin, who was representing the couples, and the American Civil Liberties Union had said they would take the cases all the way from Florida's federal courts to the Supreme Court. The suits were brought by gay couples married in Massachusetts and Canada who wanted Florida to recognize their marriages. Florida law only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman, a law that is supported by the Defense of Marriage Act. It allows states to disregard gay marriages performed in other states and foreign countries. Rubin said in a statement the decision was made along with the ACLU's Gay and Lesbian Rights Project. Key in the decision was the Supreme Court's recent refusal to hear a challenge to the Florida law that bans gays from adopting children. "That ruling strongly suggests that our case would not be favorably received," Rubin said.

Daily Kos diaries...

* Why Gay Marriage is Important posted by Gracchi
* Sexual Perversion In Your Cereal Box posted by The Truffle
* Spongebob "Unequivocally Welcomed" by the UCC posted by obietom
* Former UK Cabinet Minister is HIV+ posted by ExpatBoy
* Tinky Winky, Spongebob, Buster and Theocratic McCarthyism posted by MAJeff
* Virginia House Attempts to Outlaw Adoption for Gays and Lesbians posted by JulieIde
* TX billboards promote Focus on the Family's "ex-gay" event


Ice storm in Durham - not so bad


Well, I wouldn't want to drive on it right now, but it should melt later. No power outage.


Iraq: Democracy in Action


People gather outside al-Muitasim polling station following a deadly mortar attack, in Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City, on Sunday. (AP)

Low turnout, suicide bombings. All were expected. I am not surprised by the bizarre, fawning and breathless reporting by the media on this. The spin is incredible -- I was watching Michelle Caruso-Cabrera's blathering on about the "historic day of voting" and then mentioning only about 700 votes had been cast in 6 hours in the most violent areas. Does that represent "democracy" or the kindling for civil war?

I then turn to the CBC news on News World International to see some actual reporting and talking head interviews with in-depth discussion of the ramifications of low turnout in specific areas. What is wrong with our news media? Never mind. in a report on MSNBC Iraqi officials predict 57 percent turnout. We'll see if they are blowing smoke. (WP):
Iraqis voted Sunday in their country's first free election in a half-century, defying insurgents who launched deadly suicide bombings and heavy mortar strikes at polling stations, killing 27 people. After a slow start, women in abayas - often holding babies - and men formed long lines, although there were pockets with little or no turnout.

Casting his vote, Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi called it "the first time the Iraqis will determine their destiny."

... In a potentially troublesome sign, the polls at first were deserted in mostly Sunni cities like Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra around Baghdad, and in the restive, heavily Sunni northern city of Mosul.

By midday, however, several dozen people were voting in Samarra and several hundred people - mostly Kurds - were voting on Mosul's eastern side, witnesses said. Yet in Baghdad's mainly Sunni Arab area of Azamiyah, the neighborhood's four polling centers did not open, residents said.

A low Sunni turnout could undermine the new government and worsen the tensions among the country's ethnic, religious and cultural groups. Final results will not be known for seven to 10 days, but a preliminary tally could come as early as late Sunday.

In Ramadi, U.S. troops used loudspeakers to urge people to vote. But in Beiji, a Sunni insurgent stronghold in northern Iraq, polling centers were all but deserted.
***


BTW, last night I caught All the President's Men (1976) on cable. It made me nostalgic for real reporting, instead of the corporate lap-dog drivel you see today. Man it was really low-tech then -- Woodward (Robert Redford), searching through all these phone books for Kenneth Dahlberg's phone number. No Googling, folks, but reporters got the job done.


Email from the Tabors

In the spirit of fairness and balance (unlike Faux News), the Blend posts the following email exchange I had with Jordan Tabor, wife of Nathan Tabor. The latter is the publisher of politically off-the-charts Right web site, The Conservative Voice and a former candidate for state office here in NC. Nathan was featured a while back in the post, The Tar Heel State can claim a homo-bigot of the week for publishing the incredible essay "Homosexuals should pay more insurance." A choice snippet:
Some would say it is a known fact that most homosexuals, and especially gay men, are promiscuous. Their rhetoric is carefully crafted to give the impression they are in “committed, caring relationships” while research suggests that the vast majority of gays are neither celibate nor monogamous. (All heterosexuals are not celibate or monogamous either.)

Some may say, so what? Well, the corollary to this homosexual health hypothesis is another proven fact: most sexually active homosexuals simply don’t live a very long time. The heartier they party, it seems, the shorter the time that party lasts.

...An analysis conducted at the end of 1997 by the Centers for Disease Control revealed that fully 60 percent of all AIDS cases in the United States are found among homosexual men. This is an amazingly high figure, especially when we consider that homosexuals — contrary to Kinsey's flawed study and fabricated “one-in-ten” myth — constitute only about 1 to 2 percent of our total population.

The conclusion is simple. Homosexual activists say they want equal rights and treatment. Fine. Let’s use their own arguments against them here. Let’s start by having them pay their fair share of the healthcare costs that accompany their lifestyle.
He referenced the discredited "scientist" Paul Cameron's "research" that gay men die at 42 to back this position up. [BTW, he didn't address anything about lesbians, because, apparently for the purposes of his commentary, we must not exist.]

Back to the email...Jordan wanted to point out that the Tabors just had a baby (congrats -- a healthy and happy birth is always cause for good tidings, despite political differences), and that the other person folks have been speculating about in some of the political pictures on his web site is a relative. So, here are the letters.
Subject: FYI
From: Jordan
Date Sat, January 29, 2005 6:10 pm
To: pam

Hi Pam,

I was forwarded your website and curiosity forced me to take a look since Nathan is your "homo-bigot of the week." I just wanted to let you guys know that the other man in the pictures is his older brother, definitely not his "pretty friend." Nathan is very straight, we actually just had our first baby two weeks ago.

Thanks for reading the column and passing it along to your friends. It's amazing how much success he's having with it.

Sincerely,
Jordan Tabor

***

Subject: Re: FYI
From: Pam Spaulding
Date: Sun, January 30, 2005 6:00 am
To: Jordan

Hello Jordan,

I will post your letter on the Blend; I have no problem making sure your email is publicly available to clarify that piece of information about Nathan Tabor.

Nathan Tabor's political views and goals, which are committed to legislating gays and lesbians into second-class citizens, are based on fear. The Right's full flower of intolerance in Mr. Tabor's publicizing of homophobic and anti-choice initiatives and events is sadly clear.

The religious theocrats have spent a lot of time and money fraudulently hijacking the words "family," "faith," "patriotism," and "values" for political gain, but the Right is already beginning to overreach. That is guaranteed to continue to expose the Right's unfortunate, narrow-minded, and short-sighted vision of what America should be and its role in the world.

--Pam



Evan Bayh for '08: a centrist's dream, a progressive's wet blanket?

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Indiana Governor Evan Bayh and his father, Birch. The latter made the run for Prez in 1976 and served as a senator from 1963-1981. Will Evan run in 2008?

Another great post by Shakespeare's Sister, this time an analysis of Indiana's Governor Evan Bayh as a possible 2008 Dem candidate. [I remember, way back when his father Birch ran (and lost) to Jimmy Carter in the primaries. Damn, I'm old.]

Evan's political future looks bright, as he's made an impact as one of the 13 votes against the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice for SecState. He's also obviously photogenic, affable and a competent Governor. That means no Senate record to point to for "flip flops" by the GOP. Unfortunately for those interested in his positions on gay rights [civil unions/no-marriage-amendment-unless-activist-judges PUNT!] and abortion, it looks Bayh has another middle-of-the-road, DLC-coaster flavor to him. But we all know that this is what the establishment Dems salivate over, not principles, these days.

Click over to Shakespeare's Sister for some really interesting insight (she notes that she is "perhaps the only blue blogger in the very red state of Indiana").


Can the GOP count on the black religious vote in '08?


Homophobe Rev. Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, TX is on board with the Bush American Taliban agenda and sees strong future support for the GOP based on moral values. Vanderbilt University's Director of Black Church Studies, Forrest E. Harris Sr., thinks the GOP used gay marriage as a political smokescreen.

Here's a followup to the work the GOP is doing to cultivate relationships (and votes) with the religious black vote through the black church. My House Blend post last week was on the "pastor payoff" with faith-based initiative funding. This article is interesting because it has countering voices on the long-term prospects of holding on to that religious vote for the next general election. My belief is that this is a demographic the Democrats need to be worried about. The party has been way too complacent in expecting the black vote to "come home" when it gets down to the nitty gritty. {I would say this is a running theme with the Dems -- they are doing the same with the gay vote.] The election was too close, and the fact that the GOP is able to shave off even a few points of the black vote should be alarming, but I'm not surprised it's happening.

Make note of the names of the pastors in support of Bush here; it's clear that they are going to be, if they are not already, recipients of the administration's largesse, and given access to the President. The White House did not release the names of the religious black leaders that were included in a recent sit-down with Bush, but these stories give you an idea of who might have been on the list. (San Jose Mecury News):
In the first week of his second term, President Bush reached out to black religious, community and business leaders who embraced his moral views in the election. He reassured them that he still supports a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and they discussed his efforts to channel more money into faith-based programs.

..."I hope this last election was a wake-up call to the Democrats," said the Rev. Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington and a Bush supporter. Do I see a trend? Yes. ... Blacks who voted Republican made the difference in this election. "And if the same-sex issue is still on the political landscape in the next election, more blacks will vote Republican," said McKissic, who has drawn national attention for his outspoken opposition to same-sex marriages.

...Some black pastors and political experts say the Republicans shouldn't get too excited about what they believe was a one-time spike in black support. "There was a ballot initiative in Ohio to ban same-sex marriage," said David Bositis, senior research associate for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, a think tank that studies issues and concerns about blacks. "Many of these states are not going to have gay marriage on the ballot in 2008 because many of them have already passed it." Culturally, many conservative black voters relate to issues embraced by the GOP, such as opposition to abortion and to same-sex marriage. But that alignment on social issues didn't produce as many black votes for Bush as some GOP strategists hoped. He won 11 percent in November, 2 percentage points more than in 2000.

Bositis pointed out that "self-identified black conservative Christians" represented only 20 percent of the black population - and even among that group, Democratic candidate John Kerry "still got more support than Bush did."

But, McKissic and other conservative black pastors said that for black churchgoers, how they vote is determined by how they feel about the candidate's moral character. To them, Bush's morals were beyond reproach and his stance on gay marriage, abortion and other issues was in lockstep with their beliefs.

"Name me one issue that is more important than life - that's the abortion issue - and the family, that's the (same-sex) marriage issue," McKissic said. "Those are the two most important issues, and the Democratic Party is on the wrong side of both of those issues. For blacks who vote on morality, these are the issues."


Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III, of the Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas thinks the GOP has hijacked the meaning of morality for political gain. Philadelphia's Rev. Herb Lusk, pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church supports Bush; his coffers have been filled with a cool million for faith-based initiatives by the Administration.

..."The (gay-marriage) issue was used as a political smokescreen" in the November election, said Forrest E. Harris Sr., director of black church studies at Vanderbilt University and president of American Baptist College. "Unfortunately, it was reduced to what it means to be a moral person" as opposed to looking at morality in terms of how "we honor life and are fair and just."

The Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III, senior pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, agreed with Harris, calling the Republican strategy of wooing black voters through morality a "red herring" that does not fully encompass the true meaning of the word. "We've never defined morality simply by those sex or flesh issues," Haynes said. "Biblically speaking, morality has to deal with how you treat the poor, the less fortunate."

The Rev. Herb Lusk, pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia and a friend of McKissic's, is a longtime Bush supporter. He gave the invocation at the 2000 Republican convention and called Bush's 2004 win "a great victory."

Like many other black pastors and church leaders around the country, Lusk has also benefited from the president's faith-based initiative. He has received about $1 million in federal funding for a low-income program in Philadelphia, where he played professional football for the Eagles. But Lusk, like other black religious leaders, said his support of Bush has nothing to do with government money. [Give me a f*cking break.]

"It's very important for both political parties to understand that there is opportunity for growth in the African-American population," he said.

...Like McKissic, Lusk believes that the Republican Party can maintain, and even grow, the number of black voters by sticking to the morality theme.

But Haynes said he doesn't believe those same methods will work as well in the future with black voters. "In this election, he fooled some of the people, big time," Haynes said of Bush. "But I don't think the Republican Party should count on fooling us next time."

I disagree. I think way too many people can and will be fooled by emotional ploys by the GOP and the religious Right. Sadly, the average voter is willing to be led anywhere, and eats up whatever "facts" that are tossed their way without questioning (on either side) whether the information they are being spoonfed is true. Too few people use critical thinking skills and many just don't have the time or interest to pay attention to what they see and read about candidates. Look at how far the Swift Boat liars got with that mountain of prevarication. By the time Kerry responded, and even after they were discredited, polls showed it had an impact on their perception of Kerry. Repeat the lie often enough and it becomes the truth. Dems have to accept that and campaign against the GOP accordingly. Sad, but true.


Freepers react to Wal-mart recognizing same-sex families

As I said yesterday when posting about Wal-Mart requiring gay employees to count partners as family members, I wondered how long it would take the Freepers, who are true-believers in this company as the bastion of all that is conservative, to weigh in on Wallyworld. Wait no longer -- here's what they're saying. [Note to Shakespeare's Sister -- the official return of the word "lesbo" has arrived.]

Actual Freeper Quotes™:

"My Uncle's sister is a lesbo assistant manager at Wal Mart. I understand she's ecstatic."

"When Wal-Mart does over to the other side, is there any hope left?"

"I wonder if Wal-Mart will change their little smily face from yellow to pink?"

"This'll be the first of many stores, major or kind of large, to cave into the gay agenda."

"I understand their reasoning but it will read like one more victory for the homosexual agenda. Oh well."

"Sam Walton would be turning in his grave."

"So a male employees can show up for work dressed as women, freaking out the customers and this has "nothing to do with their work."


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. This is fraudulent and dangerous and needs to be widely exposed. (Houston Voice):
When teenager Jeffrey Faircloth wanted a safe place to talk about his growing awareness that he might be gay, he called the National Youth Crisis Hotline - popularized as 1-800-HIT-HOME.

What he heard didn't surprise him. "I'd grown up in a very fundamentalist Christian family, so I wasn't surprised that the woman I talked to said she didn't know any gay people, but she knew they were sinners. She said she would give me the number of a group called Exodus that would help me change. I already knew the religious view, so I wasn't interested."

Luckily, a friend told him about HATCH, an organization in Houston that provides positive reinforcement for gay and lesbian youth. Faircloth forgot about 1-800-HIT-HOME until recently.

"I called the number last month because friends of mine heard rumors that Exodus was coming to Houston, and it seemed like the easiest way to get a phone number for Exodus so we could ask, " he explained. Faircloth referred to the "Love Won Out" conference to be staged in Houston Feb. 19 by Focus on the Family. Graduates of Exodus, a program that claims it can turn people away from homosexuality, or ex-gays are among the speakers at the conference.


James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family and supporter of "ex-gay" ministries like Exodus International. Mike Haley, right, is chair of the Exodus board and manages the "Homosexuality and Gender" department for Focus on the Family's Public Policy division, and also speaks at Love Won Out conferences.

I discussed the relationships between Focus on the Family, Exodus International and "Love Won Out" in an earlier post. This effort by the religious Right to recruit gays into programs like Exodus, which play on insecurities and self-loathing has been well-documented by Wayne Besen in the book Anything But Straight. The Houston Voice probed further into the murky background of this hotline.
Research by the Houston Voice shows that many Southwestern Bell phone books, including the ones for Houston, list the National Youth Crisis Hotline on the second page of the book, under the Alternate Emergency Number listings. "I wouldn't mind if they were up front about being a Christian group, but they lure people in so they can preach at them," Faircloth said.

When the Voice called the hotline and asked for the name of a media representative, the person who answered the phone did not seem to know whether the hotline had a media relations department. The representative indicated that calls are answered out of a church in San Diego. Asked what sort of training volunteers get, he said those who answer phones are trained at the church and given a reference book regarding homosexuality, he said, volunteers are told to inform callers what the Bible says on the subject and to refer callers to Exodus. Further research revealed that the National Youth Crisis Line is a project of Youth Development Institute in San Diego. Representatives of the organization could not be reached for comment.

The ethical breaches of this kind of counseling can be harmful, even deadly for gay teens, who may be suicidal over their family and life situations. This week, one "ex-gay" counselor, Richard Cohen, president of Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays (P-FOX) was actually "expelled for life" out of the American Counseling Association for unethical conduct.
Chris Kerr, program coordinator for Montrose Counseling Center's Life and Anti-Violence Program, noted, "This Youth Crisis Hotline could be deadly for teens with questions about their sexuality. We run HATCH and the Gay & Lesbian Switchboard and have intimate knowledge of what goes on when someone calls."

Kerr said he fears that, "When a youth calls a hotline like this it's because he or she is already full of shame and has no one he or she feels safe with. The message these people give reinforces those feelings." He compared the 800-Hit-Home group to the anti-choice groups that seem to be like Planned Parenthood.

"From a therapist's point of view, these people are really unethical," he said. "They are taking advantage of people at vulnerable moments. People have a right to quality care and referrals that respect who they are."

If you had any doubts about what the agenda is of the hotline, here is what is posted on the web site. Heaven help you if you're suicidal and happen to be Jewish or Hindu, for instance. You're S-O-L.
Why Do I Need God?
The Bible tells us that God knew us before we were in our mother's womb. It also says that He knows the number of hairs that are on our head. Why are we telling you this?…Because God is intimate. He created you and knows everything about you. We all were born into what is called sin. Sin is when we do something against God's will or instruction and ultimately leads us to hell. From childhood we all were given what's called a conscience that helps us to know right from wrong. The Bible also tells us that it is God's desire that all of us should be saved from hell and know Him. God, seeing how sinful we were, sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Jesus Christ is the only way to get access to God, be forgiven from our sins and escape hell. More than two thousand years ago Jesus Christ was sent by God to pay the price for all of our sins. God is full of compassion and grace! You need God to get to heaven. Contrary to the doctrine of this day and age, heaven and hell are real places and today you can decide which one you want to go to. We all die, but when you have Jesus Christ in your life and are a child of God you can have eternal life. Eternal life means that you with spend eternity in paradise (or heaven) with Jesus Christ. This is not a religion! Jesus Christ is a living person who wants to have a relationship with you. You need God because of your sins and you need God because he can help you through anything.

How Do I Get God?

1. We have all separated ourselves from God… "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." -Romans 3:23
2. But He still loves us…"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." -John 3:16
3. So He has made a way for us to know Him!… "But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8
4. And receive His gift… "(all) are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ." -Romans 3:24

To receive Jesus Christ you must do four things:

ADMIT your spiritual need. "I am a sinner"
REPENT and be willing to turn from your sins
BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross.
RECEIVE Jesus Christ into your life and heart through prayer.

If you want to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior, pray this simple prayer- "Dear God, I ask by faith that you forgive me of all my sin and come into my heart. I receive Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit and take over my life. Change me into the kind of person you want me to be. Thank you, Lord, for saving me."

If you prayed that prayer or have questions about Christianity, call our hotline or visit our chat room or e-mail us.

The frightening thing is that The National Youth Crisis Hotline or 1-800-HIT-HOME can be found on many referral lists if you Google. The Houston Voice also points out that it even appears on the resource list for the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, a group that says it is focused on improving the lives of gay and lesbian youth.

Youth Development International
PO Box 178408
San Diego, CA 92177
1800hithome@horizonsd.org

Phillip MacIntosh
National Hotline Director
National Youth Crisis Hotline

Thanks to House Blend reader Mike in Texas for the pointer.


Hail, sleet and bad weather



Light or no posting today, as we're just getting into some crappy winter weather here. Hope the power holds out!


Moron alert: Denver cop tries to arrest woman for anti-Bush bumper sticker

Friday, January 28, 2005


Shasta Bates sits in the bed of her pickup. A Denver police officer threatened her with arrest Monday for displaying an anti-Bush sticker that includes an epithet. "He said, 'You need to take off those stickers because it's profanity and it's against the law,' " Bates said of the officer.

I suppose this police segeant isn't offended by the $88 million Bush has spent on PR flacks/journalists, or the 1,400 dead American troops in Iraq, or any of the other official misdeeds of the administration. But this woman's F*CK BUSH bumper sticker is worthy of an arrest and legal slapdown. He needs to hang up his political beliefs in the locker before he gets into his police cruiser. F*cker. (Rocky Mountain News):
A Denver police sergeant is under investigation for allegedly threatening to arrest a woman Monday for displaying on her truck a derogatory bumper sticker about President Bush.

"He told her that this was a warning and that the next time he saw her truck, she was going to be arrested if she didn't remove the sticker," said Alinna Figueroa, 25, assistant manager of The UPS Store where the confrontation took place. "I couldn't believe it."

Denver police have initiated an investigation into the alleged incident, said Police Chief Gerry Whitman. He declined to comment further. About 11 a.m., Shasta Bates, 26, was standing in the shopping center store in the 800 block of South Monaco Parkway when a man walked in and started arguing with her about a bumper sticker on the back of her truck that had "F--- Bush" in white letters on a black background.

"He was saying it was very sick and wrong and you shouldn't be doing that," Bates said. "He was very offended by it. I said, 'You didn't have to take it so personally.' " The two argued for a few minutes, and then the man walked out of the store and stood behind Bates' truck. A few minutes later, the man flagged down police Sgt. Michael Karasek, who was patrolling the area.

Rocky Mountain News reporter Katie Kerwin McCrimmon, who happened to be at the store at the time, walked up to the two and asked what was going on. The man pointed the bumper sticker out to McCrimmon, and then Karasek told her that it was illegal because it was profane, McCrimmon said. Reached late Monday, City Attorney Cole Finnegan said he didn't believe there were any city ordinances against displaying a profane bumper sticker.

Karasek then walked into the store and confronted Bates. "He said, 'You need to take off those stickers because it's profanity and it's against the law to have profanity on your truck,' " Bates said. "Then he said, 'If you ever show up here again, I'm going to make you take those stickers off and arrest you. Never come back into that area.' "

McCrimmon, who had followed the officer into the store, said Karasek wrote down the woman's license-plate number and then told her: "You take those bumper stickers off or I will come and find you and I will arrest you."

Bates said she hasn't had many complaints about her sticker, which has shared the space on the back of her truck with many other stickers since August. She said she put the sticker on her truck because she disagrees with Bush's stance on homosexuality and "other issues." "I get some older men who pull up at the side of me and start yelling and cussing," she said, "but it's not a crime unless they take some action." Colorado ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein said that the alleged threat of arrest clearly violates First Amendment protection.


Actual Freeper Quotes™
"But a federal court won't allow South Carolina to have a pro life license plate. We indeed live in sick times."

"Unless my eyes mislead me Shasta Bates is a lesbian. I bet the whole thing is made up BS. She should get counseling for her mental illness."

"Perfectly legal for cops to do this in Denver. They are a "home rule" city so whatever the cops and the City Council dream up is pretty much Law inviolate. At least, that is the BS I've been told right here on FR..."

"I don't think it's any worse that "S##T Happens" or those pics of little boys peeing on a Nascar Number...or whatever. It's all offensive and adding to the vulgarity of our society. People don't even make a pretense of an apology anymore with the old "excuse my French" when they curse in public. And I think the feminist movement brought about a lot of it."

"Right before the election we were in Denver and there was a car in our parking lot with a sign in the window.....Somewhere in Texas a village is missing it's idiot. My husband asked the guy if he was the one that was missing!!!! The guy was not amused!!!!! LOL.....Denver and Boulder are far far left kookburgers.....but for the most part the rest of the state is normally sane!!!!"

"But the "right" to use the F word against the President for all to see THAT'S okay! Stunning in the extreme!! Don't know the scripture, but the Bible says Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. "

"The cop probably made a joke and the lesbo went ballistic."

"Suits me, the place is a cesspool. I won't go there or patronize any buisness there. I tell merchents that, I won't pay taxes to support that town. Too bad I have to miss the Sportsmans Exposition again, though."

"some bumbers just beg to be chained to telephone poles" [WTF?!]

Thanks to House Blend reader JJ for the pointer


Oklahoma College Republicans Plan 'Straight Pride Week'



This idea at the University of Central Oklahoma is as f*cking dumb as the Straight is Great parade that a radio station held in Chapel Hill over the summer. The Straight Pride Week at Oklahoma is being planned by the College Republicans student group. (KCRA):
EDMOND, Okla. -- A University of Central Oklahoma student group is planning what it calls "Straight Pride Week" on campus. "The general gist is that if you are a straight student on campus be proud, be loud, this is your time to shine," said college Republican Kyle Houts. The group has posted fliers on campus that read, "we're here, we're conservative, we're out."

Members of the Gay Alliance for Tolerance and Equality say they consider the College Republican's celebration an attack on gay and lesbian students.

"What is there to say about it, 'I'm proud, and I'm straight and I guess white,' I don't know?" said GATE member Jennifer Rodriguez. "I think they definitely are being discriminatory because there's probably a lot of gay Republicans out there."

University officials have given the College Republicans permission to put up their fliers, but say their approval does not constitute an endorsement.


Actual Freeper Quotes™

"Good for these kids. Sad but true, straight kids have to defend their right to be straight these days. Hopefully they will inspire hundreds of thousands just like themselves to join in celebration of "straight" and run the faggots back into their closets where they belong. I alwaysliked them better when they were in their closets...not out running around with all their "in your face" faggot stuff. They are negative roll models...back in the closet."

"The purpose of such a thing is to point to the ridiculousness of "gay pride". Proud because you have sex with someone in private? That's just stupid. That's not pride, that's vanity."

"If the straight students ever stage "an attack on gay and lesbian students" they will be holding their press conference in the Emergency Room."

"Some months ago, a radio station in my area held a "Straight Pride Parade." The gay activists in my class went absolutely nuts. Apparently straight individuals are not aloud to be proud of their heterosexuality." [Hey, I wonder if he's talking about me, lol?]

" All attempts to assuage their deep-seated guilt. Regardless of the cause or the depth of their homosexual desires and/or beliefs, I honestly think homosexuals know deep inside that its wrong. Many of their bizarre behaviors are simply projection and other manifestations of that guilt. (This concludes todays amateur psychologist minute. Thanks for watching.)"

"The Young Conservatives of Texas, University of North Texas Chapter sponsored a "Capture An Illegal Immigrant" Day on Thursday."



About that "Straight Pride Parade" here in NC, I wrote the radio station to give them a piece of my mind, and Kate and I went and took pictures of the event to show how lame it was. The radio station provided such entertainment as pickup trucks emblazoned with the G-105 logo and they had blow-up sex dolls aboard. They also had classy mascots -- a beaver and a cock rooster -- marching with the sparse crowd. Har-dee-har-har.


Click to enlarge the above pix.

The poor souls couldn't muster enough people to close down the parade route. Or even the whole street during the procession. The Chapel Hill police held off traffic on one side of the street, for less than a block at a time as they marched about a quarter mile.



Headline of the Day: Three Hogs Escape From Trailer In Pitt County


It's another local story...hey, it's bacon! I guess it's more positive than the story about dead guy on the morgue slab that wasn't really dead.
WINTERVILLE, N.C. -- Some little piggies did not want to go to the market. A Greenville animal control officer had to assist in rounding up three hogs that had gotten out of a trailer on N.C. Highway 11. It's the second time in two months that hogs have been on the loose in Pitt County.

The hogs -- each weighing a few hundred pounds -- headed to a grassy area in front of Pitt Community College, where animal control officers, police and college workers set up a temporary chicken-wire pen before loading them into the trailer.

One of the hogs suffered scrapes from its tumble onto the road. In December, six hogs fell out of the back of a trailer near U.S. 264.



Get to know your American Taliban: Falwell blows kisses to Matthew Staver



Jerry Falwell is sending love and prayers to his legal bootlicker, Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel, which has been instrumental in fighting gay civil marriage efforts with legal challenges. [I've got background on Liberty Counsel here.] Revel in his ardent support for Matthew as he nears his appearance before the Supreme Court over the ten commandments. (The Conservative Voice):
My dear friend Mathew Staver, president and general counsel for the Orlando, Fla.-based Liberty Counsel, will stand before the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the posting of the Ten Commandments in the public square. This is a daunting task, but I have great faith in Mat’s abilities and have confidence that God has raised up this man to take on this crucial undertaking.

The High Court agreed last October to take on the high-profile issue of whether the display of the Ten Commandments in the public square is constitutionally protected. Two lower court rulings reached conflicting views on displays of the biblical tenets on public buildings. Mr. Staver will appear before the nine justices at the Court on March 2. He says this court case, McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, is one of the most important church-state cases of the last half-century. I agree. The Court’s ruling will be consequential in determining the future of public religious historical artifacts throughout the nation.

The opposition is eager to dispel the Ten Commandments from the American public square. This effort is being led by the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Humanist Association, Internet Infidels, Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans and Atheist Alliance International. In addition, the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, Baptist Joint Committee and the Interfaith Alliance Foundation have filed a friend-of the court brief, supporting a 2003 appeals court ruling that found a public display of the Commandments on state government property a violation of the Establishment Clause.

These well-funded groups are uncompromising in their loathing of the public display of the Ten Commandments. If the Court were to rule in their favor, the momentum to eradicate all vestiges of religion from the culture would be dramatically quickened.

What Can You Do?

I want to ask readers to join me in prayerfully supporting Mathew Staver and Liberty Counsel in their battle to protect the Ten Commandments. I want every reader to place Mat’s name at the top of their prayer lists. We need to daily uphold this man as he seeks to legally confirm that the Ten Commandments are a centerpiece of American law and culture.

[Now to the meat and potatoes you faithful have all been waiting for...]

...Finally, I would urge readers to make a donation to Liberty Counsel to help subsidize this costly battle. Liberty Counsel is incurring many expenses. During the final preparation and argument phase of the case, the team will be shuttling to a number of different locations, which means many additional transportation and housing costs. For those who send a $100 donation to Liberty Counsel, Mat will send a copy of his booklet, “The Ten Commandments in American Law and Government,” which he used to help prepare for his Supreme Court argument. He will also send a beautifully matted presentation of the Ten Commandments, suitable for framing, to display in your home or office.

...The battle lines have been drawn and we must support Mat Staver — just as the men raised Moses’ arms when he grew weary in holding high the staff of God in battle — as he valiantly stands on the faith of our Fathers to defend the Ten Commandments.



How precious.


Maryland's turmoil over gay marriage


Thursday's anti-gay-marriage rally on Lawyers Mall. African-American preachers, Catholic congregants, lawmakers, mothers with children and busloads from around the state chanted, stomped and prayed during the two-hour rally, which mixed bipartisan religious fervor with political power; Republican Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has steered clear of hot-button social issues -- so far. (Dan Gross/The Gazette)

This is a state that went Blue, folks, and the wingnuts in Maryland (including a growing number of black religious leaders) are coming out in force to show their opposition to gay civil marriage. (Gazette.net):
Gay marriage is one of the hottest of the hot-button social issues, but Maryland's top politicians are treating it like the proverbial hot potato. It became clear Thursday why the issue has become so politically explosive, as roughly 1,000 people demonstrated here in frigid weather for an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage.

For Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), who has approached the issue gingerly, gay marriage holds the potential for political gain and pain. Ehrlich, who is pro-choice, has generally avoided conservative Republican social issues such as abortion. Characterizing himself as from the libertarian wing of the party, he has backed away from issues not always popular with conservatives, such as medical marijuana.

Ehrlich only mentions his opposition to gay marriage in response to reporters' questions and is not pushing the constitutional amendment this year, although his aides have hinted at doing so next year. He did not attend the rally, which began shortly after his State of the State speech. "The reality is I don't think anything is going to happen in either direction on this issue, so it wouldn't make any sense for the governor to spend political capital on it," Igoe said.

The one thing that is making me stark raving mad is this standard Kool-Aid-drinking response by Dems on this issue. It's getting to be such a cliche that it comes across as such in the article. Please Democrats, someone take a f*cking stand on this issue. Everyone knows you are punting because you have no f*cking balls.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan was one of several Democrats interviewed Thursday to cling to the phrase "marriage is between a man and a woman" while saying they see no need for a constitutional amendment. [PUNT!] House Speaker Michael E. Busch, who opposes gay marriage but has backed additional rights for gay couples, agreed.

"Maryland law is pretty clear. Marriage is between a man and a woman, and I support that [PUNT!], and I don't see that issue changing," he said. Busch added he does not see a need to act unless the courts see otherwise. "If the courts don't act, there is no need to make a change," said Busch (D-Dist. 30) of Annapolis. "Let it play out." [PUNT!]

And then the wingnut makes my point that the Right is not going to let this rest, no matter how much fancy footwork the Democrats do to avoid the issue.


Delegates Donald Dwyer, Herbert McMillan and Charles Boutin don't give a damn about the rights of their gay consituents. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. is one of three openly gay delegates in the Maryland legislature.
"We believe the time is right to bring this issue back and let the citizens of Maryland decide this once and for all," said Del. Donald H. Dwyer (R-Dist. 31) of Glen Burnie, one of the leaders of the rally. "We will not stand any longer for moral depravity." Del. Herbert H. McMillan (R-Dist. 30) of Annapolis said that he respects gay couples' right to live together, but said they "do not have the right to redefine marriage to fit their lifestyle. When anyone can be married to anyone else, no one is really married at all." Del. Charles R. Boutin (R-Dist. 34A) of Aberdeen, who sponsored the amendment last year, accused the Democratic leadership of quashing it in committee. "They know the votes are there to send this to the people," he said.
Meanwhile, gay rights advocates are working to pass legislation that will bring gay couples ability to have medical power of attorney and to add gays to the state's hate cimes law.
"The medical decision-making act will be back and we'll be pushing it," said Del. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington, one of three openly gay members of the legislature. The bill died in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee last year by a single vote but a committee shakeup has advocates hopeful for passage.

Madaleno said he is still hopeful of advancing a gay rights agenda although gay marriage in particular was dealt setbacks at the ballot box in 11 states in November, pointing to successes for advances for limited gay rights measures even in conservative states such as Utah. Madaleno said the issue poses a dilemma for Ehrlich, pointing to William Safire's definition of the Republican Party's two wings, one "righteous" and one "reasonable." ...Madaleno warned that while the governor may reap some political benefits if he jumps on the issue, he also faces pitfalls, pointing to "Morella Republicans" in Montgomery and Howard counties who might abandon him. He added that there is "an influential gay Republican community in this state that worked hard on his election. What happens to those people if Ehrlich comes out in support of a constitutional amendment?"

My question is, how many of these "influential gay Republicans" voted for Bush?


Hooboy -- whore #3 on the Bush PR gravy train


Michael and Harriet McManus are founders and co-chairs of Marriage Savers. Michael had his hand in the taxpayer's pocket, picking out $10,000 to back Bush's marriage initiative.

Michael McManus was a cheap date, in comparison to Armstrong and Maggie. Salon (sub required) has an exclusive on this one. The trend is unstoppable. It's going to be like cockroaches scurrying for cover when the light comes on in a NYC apartment bathroom...
One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, "Ethics & Religion," appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed.

I went digging around and found an interesting article at About.com on "Divorce Rates Can Be Cut", and Marriage Savers figures prominently, alongside the President's Healthy Marriage Initiative. His little venture, Marriage Savers, gets additional business by association with the initiative -- and remember, there is no disclosure of the arrangement with the Bush admin as a flack.
For 30 years there has been one divorce for every two marriages in America. This 50% divorce rate has appeared to be granite that could not be chipped. There has been no proven strategy for reducing the divorce rate across a community, until now. The study, "Assessing the Impact of Community Marriage Policies® on U.S. County Divorce Rates" by the Institute for Research and Evaluation of Salt Lake City - found that clergy can significantly reduce the divorce rate.

...The study's findings have strong implications for the debate over the Administration's Healthy Marriage Initiative, which would authorize up to $1 billion of federal funds to help couples who choose marriage, to be successful. Dr. Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, who will speak at the press conference, says, "Some critics of the Healthy Marriage Initiative, have charged that we don't know how to help more couples to build lifelong marriages or to reduce the likelihood that half of new marriages will end in divorce. This pioneering research by Dr. Stan Weed and colleagues proves them wrong."

..."This is not rocket science," says Mike McManus, creator of the Community Marriage Policy® formula. "This is all based on common sense and existing resources."

"Nine of ten Americans marry in a church. This gives clergy great access to couples. Yet most churches are simply wedding factories," says McManus, a syndicated columnist and President of Marriage Savers, the group which has helped the clergy organize a "Community Marriage Policy®" in 183 cities in 40 states. "The Community Marriage Policy formula includes a step-by-step plan by which clergy can help couples have not only beautiful weddings but also help them have the marriages and families of their dreams. Our couples have a 3% divorce rate.

"What is Marriage Savers? How has it helped cities reduce divorce rates?

First, it works with a local coalition of clergy over a period of months to create a Community Marriage Policy. The group includes Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants, Catholics and minority pastors. They develop a written pledge, which clergy sign in a public ceremony, typically in front of a courthouse. Mike and Harriet McManus often speak at the signing in which clergy pledge to take five steps to revitalize marriage:

* Require rigorous marriage preparation of at least four months during which couples take a premarital inventory and talk through relational issues it surfaces with trained mentor couples, who also teach couple communication skills

* Revive existing marriages with an annual enrichment retreat

* Restore troubled marriages by training couples whose marriages once nearly failed to mentor couples currently in crisis, a step that can save four of five marriages

* Reconcile the separated with a course conducted with a same gender support partner

* Revive stepfamilies by creating Stepfamily Support Groups for parents in remarriages with children, who can save 80% of marriages that normally fail at a 65% rate

Michael J. McManus
Ethics & Religion column
Founder & President
Marriage Savers
9311 Harrington Dr.
Potomac, MD 20854
(301) 469-5873 or (301) 346-5013
MarriageSavers.org

No mention that McManus was grunting and slurping at the public trough. F*cking disgusting.


Hope this rumor is true...

Thursday, January 27, 2005



Atrios is floating the rumor that Paul Newman is going to after Joe Lieberman in '06. Will there be a Draft Cool Hand Luke movement? Newman will be over 80 years old, but hell, Strom Thurmond was drooling and incoherent 100 and he was elected over and over by South Carolinians to the Senate. A with-it Paul Newman should kick Lieberman's ass. But alas, it's only a desperation-fueled rumor at the moment.


Where we are in NC on a marriage amendment


State Senators Jim Forrester and Fred Smith are on a mission to protect marriage in NC from the homos.

We have been watching and waiting here for the new legislative session of the NC General Assembly. It was highly likely some of our southern-fried redneck wingnuts would submit another marriage amendment bill. We didn't wait long; Senate Bill S8 was put in the hopper today. The good news is that the Democrat-controlled legislature is making it harder for a bill to get to the floor. (News and Observer):
Sens. Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, and Fred Smith, R-Johnston, filed a bill to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The constitutional referendum, if approved by the Legislature, would go to voters at the May 2006 state primary election. A majority of senators last year sought consideration for a similar bill pushed by Forrester. The bill fell two votes short of the 30 needed to get it out of committee and onto the Senate floor for a vote. The Senate on opening day Wednesday made that rule even more stringent. Now, 34 signatures are needed instead of 30.


Gay marriage opponent, Gov. Mike Easley (D); openly gay State Senator Julia Boseman.

NC Dem Governor Mike Easley came out for a state amendment at the last minute during the election campaign when he was asked to take a position on it. His direct quote to the Charlotte Observer: "I support current state law (that was authored by Senator Forrester) which expressly prohibits gay marriage," and he would "be happy to sign on" to an amendment "if it's what it takes" to safeguard the traditional definition of marriage (News-Record).

He didn't have to do that -- he had a healthy lead. He deservingly lost the endorsement (which he had up until that point) from Equality NC. Dems here that abandon civil rights issues are going to have their feet held to the fire by progressives here. This state has a lot to lose if they pass a Super-DOMA. The economic engine of this state resides in the Blue counties here, and when it comes to a vote, it's going to be a hard fight if they don't want to see a "brain drain" from this state.

There's good news too: Julia Boseman, an out lesbian, is NC's first openly gay state senator, representing New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington. Her email is Juliab@ncleg.net.

Also, see my post on Triangle area residents discussing same-sex marriage, with excerpts from a great News & Observer article.

For future activism:
Sen. Jim Forrester
Office: 1129 Legislative Building, Raleigh, NC 27601-2808
Phone: (919) 715-3050
Email: Jamesf@ncleg.net

Fred Smith
Office: 520 Legislative Office Building, Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
Phone: (919) 733-5748
Email: Freds@ncleg.net


Connecticut conflict: civil unions vs. marriage for gays


Anne Stanback of Love Makes a Family is adamant that civil unions are separate and unequal to civil marriage and that gays shouldn't settle for the half-way measure. Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell is opposed to marriage, but hasn't taken a clear stand on civil unions.

What a can of worms this opens. I look forward to seeing how this debate unfolds in this state, which has a Republican governor -- but public support for both civil unions and marriage. (PlanetOut):
At the start of a legislative session that could for the first time give gay couples legal civil unions in Connecticut, one influential gay rights group says civil unions aren't good enough. Love Makes a Family, a coalition advocating marriage rights for same-sex couples, said that it has sent letters to friendly state legislators saying that they want the state to give gay couples equal marriage rights -- not civil unions, which the letter said confers a "less than" or "second-class" status on the couples' relationships.

"The world changed after Massachusetts," said Anne Stanback, president of Love Makes a Family. "In many states, getting civil unions would be considered a significant victory, but for Connecticut that's a step in the wrong direction. If they were to pass civil unions they might not have the appetite to come back and vote for marriage. We've seen that happen in Vermont. Connecticut has never set up a separate system for one group of people like this."

The tension reflects a national debate in the LGBT community, as some leaders agree that the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts has made civil unions an option that is less than equal, and therefore unacceptable. Others, however, argue civil unions (or domestic partnerships) are better than no legal recognition at all.

I am, as usual, conflicted about this dilemma. Civil unions will provide basic protections for gay couples, but the fact that the hard-fought rights end at the state line is a huge problem (leaving aside the over 1,000 federal benefits that aren't addressed). However, I keep thinking about wingnut states like Virginia, that passed the heinously oppressive legislation that prevents gay couples from even entering into legal agreements that approximate the benefits of marriage. Is the all-or-nothing approach going to result in even more states going Virginia's way?
According to the Hartford Courant, legislative experts in Connecticut said there might not be enough support in the state House for same-sex marriage, whereas there has been significant support for a civil unions bill. Even a leading House conservative, influential House Minority Leader Robert Ward, a Republican from North Branford, said he supports it. The Connecticut Legislature has been seriously considering the idea of rights for gay couples since 2001, when it held an informational meeting on the topic. A poll conducted by the University of Connecticut in April of last year found broad public support: 74 percent of residents support civil unions. Comparatively, the support of marriage is not as solid: 49 percent of residents support marriage for gay couples, with 46 percent against it.

And even if marriage legislation were to get through the Legislature, Gov. M. Jodi Rell has said she strongly opposed marriage; her opinion on civil unions is murkier. State legislators have said they may still consider a civil union bill anyway. Love Makes a Family has said it will work toward a marriage bill instead.

"Civil unions stop at the state line; they are not equal to marriage, and that's what we're going to try to get legislators and the public to understand," Stanback said. "You know, there are so many kids being raised by gay couples in this state -- those kids understand what marriage is. How can we explain to them that their family's relationship is not as good as their best friend's family across the street? As a group that is advocating for full equality, that's what we want. We don't want a status that is second-class."

Will this conflict over civil unions vs. marriage Balkanize our Union, with gays forced to migrate to favorable states with second class status civil unions (save Massachusetts)?


Wal-Mart Recognizes Gay Families



The beleaguered discount retailer (unfair pay to women, wage and hour violations, killing mom-and-pops), is seeing the light. I wonder what the Freepers, who are true-believers in this company (they hate progressive Costco and Target), think about Wallyworld taking gay families seriously? I haven't seen this story surface there yet. (365gay.com):
Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, has adopted a new definition of family that includes same-sex partners recognized under state law. The new definition of "immediate family" was included in a conflict-of-interest policy for employees that the company filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The policy which lays out the terms under which workers would violate that policy says, "You are responsible for advancing Wal-Mart's business interests when the opportunity to do so arises. You may not take any opportunities or use any confidential information for your benefit, or for the benefit of your immediate family members, that you discover or obtain through your employment with Wal-Mart."

It then goes on to define immediate family members to "include (whether by birth, adoption, marriage or Domestic Partnership or Civil Union, if recognized by your state or other local law) your spouse, children, parents, siblings, mothers and fathers-in-law, sons and daughters-in-law and brothers and sisters-in-law."

The Human Rights Campaign applauded the change, which came with little fanfare. "We hope that with equal responsibility come equal benefits," said HRC's Daryl Herrschaft, deputy director for HRC's workplace project. "We are encouraged by this sign showing America's heartland employer understands same-sex couples share the responsibilities that come with being a family. It's only appropriate for these families to also receive the same benefits as others."

Currently 228 -- or 45 percent -- of Fortune 500 companies offer healthcare benefits to employees' same-sex domestic partners or spouses. The number has increased ten-fold since 1995 when only 21 Fortune 500 companies offered the benefits. Wal-Mart competitors Costco Wholesale, Best Buy and Home Depot all offer domestic partner health benefits.


Contribute your Gag-me witticisms to Shakespeare's Sister's "Official Right-on-Right Get-It-On-a-thon"

What is a Right-on-Right Get-It-On-a-thon? It's an off-the-cuff challenge by the usually politically intense (and always eloquent) fellow bloggrrrl Shakespeare's Sister. We were commenting on her blog about the Arlington Group's Bush kneecap-bashing threat over Social Security. The Right was going apesh*t and plans to withdraw support for the dismantling of SocSec if the Admin didn't support a marriage amendment (my blog on it here). Photogenic wingnut Tony Perkins (president of the Family Research Council) said that the American Taliban's dissatisfaction with the White House ranks an 8 out of 10. I'll let Bloggrrrl Sister take it from here...
Pam commented, “I'm wondering what it would take make them hit the apesh*t 10 level?” to which I responded, “A picture of Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman having wild monkey sex on SpongeBob SquarePants sheets.”

Pam was disturbed by that image for some reason.

But she got me back. In response to my post about Joe Lieberman’s less than stellar performance at Condi’s confirmation hearing, Pam commented, “I imagine Joe licking Condi's sensible shiny patent leather pumps and getting off on it (then feeling terribly guilty).”

This image spawned two things:

1) A dose of the dry heaves
2) The Official Right-on-Right Get-It-On-a-thon

The challenge: Come up with the most abhorrent, gut-churning imagery of two of your favorite GOP operatives in a compromising position. No extra points for ménage e trios or orgiastic shenanigans.

Bush and his Pet Goat in a bestial fling? Laura Bush and Ann Coulter in a hot lesbian love-in? Newt and Rush in a flab-slapping hayroll? No holds barred. Be imaginative, feel free to submit links to any imagery that might enhance your entry, and pass it on!

She also passed along some inspirational images for you to consider...



So run, don't walk, over to Shakespeare's Sister and post your creative coupling -- there are some good ones going already. My visualization is one of Falwell at a Furries Convention as Tinky Winky, getting it on by dry humping Pooh, SpongeBob, and all those other cartoon figures the Right obsesses over.



Calif. Couple to Fight Gay Marriage Laws


Arthur Smelt, left, and partner Christopher Hammer, shown Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2005, at their lawyer's office in Santa Ana, Calif., want to get married. The two men plan to be in federal court Thursday as their attorney argues that the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 22 are gross violations of civil rights akin to slavery or denying women the vote. (AP Photo/Matt A. Brown)

On Tuesday, three gay couples in Florida dropped their lawsuits challenging DOMA; they decided not to risk appeals that the U.S. Supreme Court might reject, setting a precedent. It leaves only a handful of federal cases pending, including this one. (AP):
"Certainly, eyes are going to be focused on this particular case," said Matthew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, an opponent of gay marriage involved in some 30 cases nationwide.

Hammer and Smelt, both 45, met in 1996 and held a commitment ceremony in their Mission Viejo home a year later. They tried to get a marriage license in Orange County at the time but were turned down.

"I was laughed at," Hammer said.

Last year, as the couple watched news reports of gays and lesbians getting married in San Francisco — ceremonies later halted by a court — they decided to give it another shot. Turned down again, they filed a lawsuit.

Their attorney, Richard C. Gilbert, pursued the case in federal court, even though most cases elsewhere were filed in state courts, where activists believe their chances are better...Gilbert, who said his arguments are different from those used in Florida, said he will appeal if he loses before the federal judge in Santa Ana.

"I'll fight all the way to the United States Supreme Court if these plaintiffs are willing to fight," he said.


USA Today: PR spending doubled under Bush


F*cker. Seated under a backdrop showing doctors during an operation, Bush listens to doctors speak about medical record technology during a visit to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Well, now, we're paying for a well-oiled PR machine. Bush has shelled out $88 million on contracts with public relations firms? Good god, this thing is blowing wide open. This article mentions Ketchum, the firm that paid out $240K to our friend Armstrong Williams. I guess we'll see some mini-Halliburton PR agencies that have been getting fat on the taxpayers' dollar now, and I bet they're friends of Chimpy.

The sick thing is we're at war, troops don't have what they need, programs are being cut and money is being burned on flacks. The bottom line is that Bush cannot advance a crap agenda like his without people to massage and sell the hell out of it. I want my money back. USATODAY.com:
The Bush administration has more than doubled its spending on outside contracts with public relations firms during the past four years, according to an analysis of federal procurement data by congressional Democrats.
The administration spent at least $88 million in fiscal 2004 on contracts with major public relations firms, the analysis found, compared with $37 million in 2001, Bush's first year in office. In all, the administration spent $250 million on public relations contracts during its first term, compared with $128 million spent for President Clinton between 1997 and 2000. The analysis did not examine what the Clinton administration spent during its first term.

The top-spending agency during the past four years, at $94 million, was the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The biggest federal public relations contractor in that period was Ketchum, with $97 million.

"While not all public relations spending is illegal or inappropriate, this rapid rise in public relations contracts at a time of growing budget deficits raises questions about the priorities of the administration," said the report by the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee.


Get to know your American Taliban: Phyllis Schlafly's Conservative Agenda for 2005


Corpse-like homophobe/anti-feminist head of the Eagle Forum, Phyllis Schlafly. BTW, her son John is openly g-a-y.

Why do I visit these sites? They make me want to hurl. Then, again, I like sharing these unhinged ideas with House Blend readers to keep reminding them that the Right is incredibly consistent and persistent. We know who the enemy is and they are insane. Here are some tidbits from the January 2005 Phyllis Schlafly Report.
Phyllis's Conservative Agenda for 2005



Curb Supremacist Judges
* Congress should pass a law providing that federal judges have no power to hear a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, or to hear a federal challenge to state marriage amendments, or to change the definition of marriage to something other than one man and one woman, or to give unmarried persons the legal benefits of husbands and wives....It's not only right, it is good politics to push ahead on protection of traditional marriage at every level and with all possible legislation.

* Congress should pass a law providing that federal judges have no power to ban the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments, and other public acknowledgments of God by public officials or on public property.

* Congress should amend a Watergate-era law, the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act, to prevent the ACLU and others from collecting attorney's fees for lawsuits claiming that the public acknowledgment of God is an "establishment of religion" prohibited by the First Amendment. Congress should cut off this taxpayer subsidy for ACLU lawsuits.


Protect American Sovereignty
* The biggest threat to U.S. sovereignty at the present time is the Bush Administration's attempt to lock the United States into a 34-nation Western Hemisphere economic union called the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA)....Americans have everything to lose if we subject ourselves to tribunals dominated by the socialist pro-gay country to our north and the corrupt and Communist governments to our south. The real purpose behind FTAA and CAFTA is to integrate low-wage workers in other Western Hemisphere countries into the U.S. economy. This will make U.S. citizens compete with millions of workers willing to work for pennies a day.



Stop Entry of Illegal Aliens
* Congress should pass a law to cut off highway funds to states that grant driver's licenses to illegal aliens.

* Disease is one of the most important reasons to stop the traffic of illegal aliens. They put an enormous burden on our health care system at the same time that so many Americans lack health insurance. Legal immigrants are required to be free from disease, but no one examines the 4,000 illegals who enter our country every day and disappear into our population. They are bringing diseases that we never had before in the United States or which we eradicated decades ago.

* Congress should stiffen its backbone against the Bush Administration plan to grant amnesty to illegal aliens under the euphemism of giving "the millions of undocumented men and women now employed in the United States



The Federal Spending Power
U.S. colleges and universities are some of the biggest enemies of the values of red-state Americans. Congress can't order colleges what to teach or to fire their tenured Marxist professors, but since universities are among the largest recipients of federal handouts, Congress should use its power of the purse to teach them a lesson. Judicial supremacists recently nullified the Solomon Amendment, which requires universities that take taxpayers' money to allow access on their campuses to military recruiters. The congressional response in 2005 should be to eliminate from the federal budget those universities that exclude the military.



Bush's Feminist Mischief
* Women in combat? The Bush Administration is moving fast to force female soldiers, including mothers, into ground-combat units for the first time in U.S. history...Putting women in all combat positions has been a longtime goal of the radical feminist movement, including advocates of the Equal Rights Amendment, the tax-funded feminist lobby called DACOWITS, and feminist spokespersons such as (now Supreme Court Justices) Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Of course, the feminists who are pushing this uncivilized goal are not the ones who will be on the ground in Iraq. After all our years of fighting against irrational feminist "equality," will George W. Bush — the conservative we just elected — be the one who sends women and mothers out to fight his war? Governor Schwarzenegger invented the best label for men like this: girlie men.

* Title IX. The Bush Administration and Congress should fix the injustices caused by the feminist-enforced Title IX quotas, which specify that the proportion of men to women who participate in competitive sports cannot exceed their proportional enrollment in college. This quota system (not created by the law, but by Carter and Clinton feminists) has caused the senseless elimination of hundreds of men's college teams (such as 171 wrestling teams), and unless Bush or Congress takes action to stop this nonsense, high school sports are next on the feminists' hit list.

Oh, I just can't post any more; it's too painful.



Charlotte may restrict use of public parks because of wingnut protest over Gay Pride event

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory is under pressure from the fundy group Operation Save America to restrict the use of public parks, specifically targeting Charlotte Pride; protestors at last year's Charlotte Pride.

Operation Save America held a protest at a city council meeting in Charlotte on Monday, decrying the use of a public park for a Charlotte Pride Festival. The fundamentalist group called for the police working the Pride event who wore rainbow pins to be reprimanded for this simple act of freedom of speech.

I wasn't at this particular Pride celebration they are protesting about, but I'm pretty certain it doesn't resemble anything described by these people. The state NC Pride event (held in Durham, which I attended) is a certainly a wonderful, fun, tame event. Last year's attendance at the event topped 8,000, and, according to Q-Notes, which covered Charlotte Pride in 2004, OSA members went in and out of the crowd "harassing LGBT festival-goers by videotaping them, and asking them about their sexuality and suggesting they should consider changing their orientation."

(News14Carolina):
Some people who say pornographic images were displayed at a gay and lesbian event in Marshall Park last spring are pushing officials to consider restrictions on groups who use city parks. A large crowd of concerned citizens showed up at Monday night's city council meeting to press local leaders to reject a permit application by the same group to hold the Charlotte Pride Festival in the park this year.

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory asked the city attorney to investigate possible restrictions on the group before allowing it to use a city park. He said he does not want to approve the Pride Festival permit until he hears back from the city attorney.

A Christian group made a presentation to city council in November, describing their complaints of the sorts of activities that occurred at the festival. They complained that the event, which was held in a public place, subjected anyone who happened to walk by to "vulgar acts, references to sodomy and open displays of hostilities toward Christians who were there."

OSA: 'The battle for the culture in the city of Charlotte has just begun'


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Darrel Stephens is also caught in the middle of this brawl with Operation Save America.

OSA is headed by Rev. Philip L. (Flip) Benham. Flip's bio suggests that he spends an unholy amount of time spewing wingnuttery on the air.
Appearing on numerous local and national television and radio programs (Good Morning America, 48 Hours, Sonja Live, David Praegger Live, ABC World News Tonight, CBS News, NBC News, Hannity & Colmes, and CNN), Rev. Benham is a bold witness for the Lord Jesus Christ in the public arena. He has been interviewed by the Washington Post, Washington Times, New York Times, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, World Magazine, and virtually every major newspaper in the country. Flip leads by example, having spent time in jail for the cause of Christ in Wichita, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, Lynchburg and Washington D.C. Flip always preaches Jesus Christ as the answer to the multitude of sins presently savaging our nation.

This American Taliban-style organization isn't even from this area (it's based in TX). The goal of OSA, besides returning homos to the closet, is to get God back in the classroom and the state back into a woman's womb through its Streets movement. According to its web site, the group has people reporting in on activities carried out in: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

His mission to engage in a culture war in Charlotte is clear, based on the group's press release in advance of their appearance before the city council.
The City of Charlotte granted a permit to the "Pride Festival" for the express purpose of celebrating sodomy among "gay, lesbian, transgendered, and bisexual persons." This right next door to the First Baptist Church in downtown Charlotte, and in a public park no less.

The "celebration" included open displays of obscenity with dozens of photos of males displaying full frontal nudity and worse. It included vendor booths selling S&M merchandise, a sound stage with transvestite dancers simulating sodomy in front of children. Foul, vile, and threatening comments were made toward children by homosexuals during the comedic routines from the sound stage. Hundreds of children of all ages were in the park. Many parents were taken completely unaware by what our city fathers had allowed into the park.

For eight months concerned Christian parents have attempted to bring this information to the District Attorney, the Charlotte Police Department, and the City Council -- only to be stonewalled at every turn. We have asked for the prosecution of these lawbreakers. We have asked the city not to reissue a permit to "Pride Festival." We have asked the police department to reprimand the officers who policed the event and turned a blind eye. Many of those on duty appeared to be homosexual themselves, wearing rainbow pins, etc. Seventeen eyewitness testimonies and irrefutable photographic evidence were provided to the Charlotte City Council in November.

In a memo from Chief Darrel Stephens, he equated the homosexual "celebration" to what transpires in adult establishments in the city. Someone needs to remind Chief Stephens that local Statute Section 12.518 restricts adult entertainment establishments from being within 1,000' of any park, let alone being held within a park.

...The battle for the culture in the city of Charlotte has just begun.


Operation Save America Director Rev. Philip L. (Flip) Benham baptizing Norma (Jane Roe) McCorvey.

OSA has been railing about this Pride festival for a good long while on its site.
Each year the radical homosexual agenda attempts to shove immorality down our throats through their pride festivals. The picture these militant sodomites like to paint of homosexuality in America's government schools is a far cry from the stark reality of sodomite culture. It is pornographic, obscene and disgusting and these festivals are tame compared their club scene. The depravity inherent in those choosing this perverted lifestyle of death is flaunted openly at their festivals held in public venues. Their clear intent is to destroy the Christian morality that is the glue that holds our society together.

It's frightening to think that a group like this is making headway. They are on the fringe, but they now have officials running for cover.

If you want to drop them a line, here's OSA web site:
Operation Save America
P.O. Box 740066
Dallas, TX 75374
Phone: 972-240-9370
Fax: 972-240-9789
Please feel free to contact OSA Director Rev. Flip Benham at the above address or telephone number. [That's what it says, right there on its page.]

For general correspondence: osa@operationsaveamerica.org

What's more important is that Mayor McCrory needs to know that Operation Save America doesn't represent the values of North Carolinians (or Americans for that matter).

Mayor Patrick McCrory
Email: mayor@ci.charlotte.nc.us
http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/Mayor/Home.htm





Alabama again: Boy Scouts padding the rolls with "John Does" for $$



Good night. I cannot believe - wait, I can -- how STUPID these people in Alabama are. If you're going to try and bilk money out of the United Way and other charities by padding your list of Boy Scouts, then for goodness sakes, don't put 20 Does on the list. How hard is it to make up names, you dumb f*cks? They padded the rolls by 30-40%! (CNN):
Boy Scout volunteer Tom Willis knew something was wrong when he saw that 20 youngsters on the list for a scouting program all had the same last name: Doe.

Willis said it appeared someone was listing fake members to boost enrollment, perhaps to bring in more funding from agencies like the United Way or to make paid Boy Scout recruiters look better.

"It was just so blatant. They didn't even try to make up names," said Willis, a dentist from Decatur and a former Eagle Scout who serves on the board of the Greater Alabama Boy Scout Council, which runs scouting programs in northeastern Alabama.

Now the FBI is investigating whether the council padded its membership rolls. It is just the latest investigation around the country into whether the Boy Scouts have inflated their numbers. The FBI refused to comment. The council said on its Web site early this month that Scout officials were cooperating with investigators and conducting an internal audit.

...longtime scout volunteer Larry Cox said he got used to seeing paperwork from council headquarters in Birmingham that listed the names of youngsters who had dropped out of scouting or had never been part of the organization.

The council received millions of dollars from United Way chapters during the six-year period, and is slated to get around $1 million this year.


Bush urges patience as U.S. Toll grows, cuts loose his PR pundit ho's


He certainly looks calm, cool, and collected, doesn't he? From today's news conference. (Photo by Larry Downing/Reuters)

Let's see...body count is 1,400 and rising. Let's ask those families to sit, eat a cookie and then pat them on the head, Chimpy. (Reuters):
President Bush urged Iraqis to defy terrorists and vote in Sunday's election, and sought patience from anxious Americans as a Marine helicopter crash Wednesday pushed the U.S. death toll above 1,400.

"The story today is going to be very discouraging to the American people," Bush said on the deadliest day for U.S. forces since the Iraq war began. "I understand that. It is the long-term objective that is vital — that is to spread freedom."

He lashed out at critics who say Iraq has become too costly and deadly, suggesting that such second-guessing could hurt the U.S. mission. The administration plans to seek $80 billion to pay for war costs, bringing the total since the Sept. 11 attacks to more than $300 billion.

"I think the Iraqi people are wondering whether or not this nation has the will necessary to stand with them as democracy evolves," Bush said. "The enemy would like nothing more than the United States to precipitously pull out and withdraw before the Iraqis are prepared to defend themselves."

[The next two paragraphs tell me that the man is completely delusional, a meglomaniac. ]

More than half of Americans think it's unlikely that Iraq will become stable and democratic, according to an Associated Press poll. Undeterred, Bush said he is leading the nation toward an honorable goal — in Iraq and across the world. "I firmly planted the flag of liberty," he said.

To the Iraqis who face daily attacks from insurgents, he said: "Clearly, there are some who are intimidated. I urge people to vote. I urge people to defy these terrorists."

OK. Let's put his unarmed *ss at a Baghdad polling station for a photo op. That would be defying the terrorists.



At the press conference, Bush also officially cut loose pundit pigs-at-the-taxpayers' trough friends Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and whoever else is on the PR payroll. Oh yes, my little media whores, where are your powerful friends now, eh? Note the old "mistakes were made" no-names-attached, blame avoidance.
President Bush, asked about the practice at a news conference this morning, acknowledged that his administration had made a mistake by awarding contracts to commentators who support his policies.

Bush said he expects his Cabinet secretaries to end the practice. "Mr. Armstrong Williams admitted he made a mistake," Bush said. "We didn't know about this in the White House. There needs to be a nice independent relationship between the White House and the press, the administration and the press."

Bush said in response to a follow-up question that the Education Department had made a mistake as well. "All our Cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying commentators to advance our agenda," he said. "Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet."

[He knows it can't, for crying out loud. Without the Right wing media crowd to constantly drum the message into the heads of the sheep, they might pay attention to the disastrous mess he's gotten us into..]

Bush told reporters he was "confident" that the press would provide "an objective look" at his administration's policies, adding: "Won't you?"


Lesbian characters on PBS cartoon gets Education Sec's panties in a bunch


Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education, freshly confirmed homo-bigot in the Bush administration, thinks Buster visiting a lesbian couple will corrupt children.

[UPDATE: Freepers comments added; salt to taste.]

What is it with wingnuts, cartoons and tolerance? Make no mistake, the Bush team is populated with folks like Spellings that see perversion in everything. It makes you wonder what kinds of sick dreams they have at night. (newsobserver.com/AP):
The not-yet-aired episode of "Postcards From Buster" shows the title character, an animated bunny named Buster, on a trip to Vermont - a state known for recognizing same-sex civil unions. The episode features two lesbian couples, although the focus is on farm life and maple sugaring.

A PBS spokesman said late Tuesday that the nonprofit network has decided not to distribute the episode, called "Sugartime!," to its 349 stations. She said the Education Department's objections were not a factor in that decision.

"Ultimately, our decision was based on the fact that we recognize this is a sensitive issue, and we wanted to make sure that parents had an opportunity to introduce this subject to their children in their own time," said Lea Sloan, vice president of media relations at PBS.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said the "Sugartime!" episode does not fulfill the intent Congress had in mind for programming. By law, she said, any funded shows must give top attention to "research-based educational objectives, content and materials." "Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode," Spellings wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of PBS.

"Congress' and the Department's purpose in funding this programming certainly was not to introduce this kind of subject matter to children, particularly through the powerful and intimate medium of television."

She asked PBS to consider refunding the money it spent on the episode.

With her letter, Spellings has made criticism of the publicly funded program's depiction of the gay lifestyle one of her first acts as secretary. She began on Monday, replacing Rod Paige as President Bush's education chief.

Spellings issued three requests to PBS.

She asked that her department's seal or any statement linking the department to the show be removed. She asked PBS to notify its member stations of the nature of show so they could review it before airing it. And she asked for the refund "in the interest of avoiding embroiling the Ready-To-Learn program in a controversy that will only hurt" it.

In closing, she warned: "You can be assured that in the future the department will be more clear as to its expectations for any future programming that it funds."

Oh, the Freeperland lunacy. One of them just seemed to realize that they have an ally in the repressed Margaret Spellings.

Actual Freeper Quotes™:
"PBS must have come to the realization that after their unsuccessful all-out November liberal media blitz and all out anti-GW campaign (along with their fund-raising telethons) with every PBS talking head that didn't score too well with voters. They are skating on thin ice now. I say SHOW THE LESBIAN CARTOON..and lets all LAUGH when they KISS THEIR PUBLIC FUNDING GOOD-FRICKING-BYE....."

"Education Secretary Margaret Spellings appears to be an ally of us bigoted heterosexuals -I wonder what her take on the NEA is?"

"WGBH, the Boston public television station appears infested with the same homosexual activist scourge infesting Massachusetts..."

"Vermont, a state that recognizes same-sex civil unions. The episode features two lesbian couples, Ironically enough, the group of gay Republicans in Mass. is called the LOG CABIN Club (syrup connection!) :)"

"Is it just me or are our schools and children under a full-scale attack
from the brainwashing pro-homosexual leftists
?"

"Why not force all public schools to sponsor field trips to Adult Bookstores??? Enough of the Evil!!! "

Thanks to House Blend reader Marcy for the pointer.


Queue on up to the ballot box, pretty please?


It's all under control...it's all under control...it's all under control. A US soldier secures the area as an armored vehicle is removed following an roadside bomb attack on a U.S. convoy on the road to Baghdad airport, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2005. Insurgents staged attacks against U.S. forces, schools to be used as polling stations and political party offices, as they pressed a bloody campaign to undermine Iraq's weekend elections. (AP Photo/Mohammed Uraibi)


Some local dark humor...man on the slab wrongly declared dead

This happened in Franklin County, NC...newsobserver.com:
Medical examiner J.B. Perdue was startled when he saw the body he was examining take a shallow breath. Larry D. Green was lying in an unzipped body bag in the morgue at the Franklin County Sheriff's Department complex Monday night while Perdue began documenting his injuries to certify a cause of death.

"I had to look twice myself just to make sure it was there, that's how subtle it [the breath] was," Perdue said. Green's status was upgraded -- from dead to alive -- close to two hours after he was hit by a car on a dark road. He was declared dead at the accident scene...Emergency medical technicians declared Green dead and placed him in a body bag for transport to the morgue.

Trooper T.L. Hunt joined Perdue at the morgue at 10:30 p.m. to gather more information about what was assumed to be a fatal accident, McQuillan said. Perdue unzipped the body bag about 11 p.m. and began his examination.

"I saw a slight, irregular breath," Perdue said. "That's when I notified [emergency medical services] to quickly come back and pick up the body."

...Franklin County EMS referred questions to Darnell Batton, the county attorney, who said several members of the Franklin EMS have been suspended pending an investigation.


Get to know your American Taliban -- Tony Perkins, Family Research Council


Tony Perkins earns the seal of "dangerous" from Al Franken, who has invited him to be on his Air America radio show.

There's a great profile of over-the-top wingnut and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in the Louisiana Times-Picayune, called "Conservative Christians pray Bush takes Cue." The frequent talking head is favored by the chat shows when they need to get a fringe voice on gay marriage, abortion and "family values." You might laugh at this guy, but he has an $11 million budget and a country full of pastors that are organized to push FRC's agenda, and the piece shows that he knows how to throw his weight around with the Bush admin.
Since President Bush won re-election and Republicans increased their majorities in the House and Senate -- developments Perkins credits largely to what he calls "values voters" concerned about gay marriage and the continuation of policies that "promote abortion on demand" -- Perkins has not been subtle in suggesting it's time for Bush and the GOP Congress to deliver.

It's fine for the White House to champion overhauling Social Security and the tax code, Perkins said, but voters really want a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and confirmation of conservative judges who will eventually create the impetus to overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that established abortion rights more than 30 years ago.

"These value issues, which have gotten very little play from the White House since the election, need to be kept front and center," said Perkins, who wasted little time in responding when Bush was quoted in the Washington Post in a way that suggested that he wouldn't press senators to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

... Perkins is undaunted by those who suggest he is exaggerating the role of issues such as gay marriage in the most recent election cycle. That includes some liberal religious leaders who say gay marriage is far less a threat to families than fathers who abandon their families or policies that make it hard for parents to provide for their children.

"Yes, religious conservatives were important. Yes, they contributed to the Republican victory, but to say that the victory was dependent on them would certainly be a stretch," said Corwin Smidt, director of the Paul Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics in Grand Rapids, Mich.

...But Perkins said that in Ohio alone a network led by hundreds of ministers helped increase turnout among Christian conservatives. Perkins said that group included African-American ministers who helped Bush get a share of the black vote that historically goes overwhelmingly for Democrats. That was a decisive factor in giving Bush a 118,000-vote margin in a state he had to win to remain in the White House, Perkins said.

Again, I'm beating a dead horse, but the Democratic leadership better wake up. The Right is not going to leave gay marriage alone. You are going to have respond with a real position on gay civil rights. These folks are relentless and will continue to mobilize against candidates that take a mealy-mouth "position" and win. They have the money, the boots on the ground, and most of all, commitment to their agenda because they believe that they are right. Where are the Dems?


Patrick Guerriro hopes Tony Perkins will see the light and endorse the idea of civil unions. Bahahahahahaha.

OK, the next section of this excerpt just about made my head explode. We have fellow talking head and Log Cabin Republican head Patrick Guerriero schmoozing on Perkins. Why doesn't he get that the religious right is unhinged? They have not and will not moderate their position on giving you rights.
Guerriero, who often appears opposite Perkins on cable news segments debating gay marriage, praised Perkins for his civility. "Despite our fundamental disagreement on this one issue, we have always dealt with each other with respect," he said.

His one hope, Guerriero said, is that Perkins eventually will see the "morality and basic fairness" of at least giving gay couples the option of civil unions so they can visit their partners in hospitals, provide their partners with health benefits and pass on their inheritance when they die. [Patrick, keep dreaming -- they want to burn you at the stake.]


White House Predicts $427 Billion Deficit


John Spratt of SC, ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, thinks Bush is in denial.

And we haven't even invaded Iran yet, Chimpy. (NYT):
White House officials predicted this afternoon that the budget deficit would hit a record $427 billion this year, including an additional $80 billion that President Bush will ask for mostly to cover the costs of the war in Iraq.

[...crack smoking alert...]

White House officials said today that they were still on track to fulfill Mr. Bush's campaign promise of cutting the budget deficit in half by 2009.

But the administration is already well behind on its goal. The White House predicted last summer that the budget deficit would decline in 2005 and continue to sink after that. The officials said Mr. Bush would ask Congress next month for the extra $80 billion when he submits his budget next month for fiscal 2006. The new request would bring total costs of the war to more than $200 billion by the end of this year, with spending likely to continue at near current levels through at least 2006.

The new estimate calls for the budget to climb slightly, and a new report earlier today by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows that deficits will remain above $350 billion through 2009 and climb sharply after that. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that continued costs of the war in Iraq and other aspects of the war on terrorism could add $285 billion over the next five years.

..."The administration remains in denial about these fiscal results," said Representative John W. Spratt, Democrat of South Carolina and the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

[...Scotty earning his paycheck...]

The White House defended its fiscal record, and the presidential spokesman, Scott McClellan, said at a news briefing today that the president's deficit-reduction plan was "based on strong economic growth and spending restraint."


NGLTF: 47% of U.S. Population Now Protected From Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force analysis gives us some good news -- significant positive shifts in public support for recognized civil rights for the LGBT community at the local level. The number of pockets of tolerance are growing, in spite of the hate campaign of the Right.
With Illinois acting last week to ban anti-gay discrimination, 47 % of the U.S. population -- 138 million people -- now lives in a jurisdiction that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, according to an analysis by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. Ten years ago, the figure was 34%.

The analysis also found that more than one in four Americans - 27% - now lives in a jurisdiction that bans discrimination against transgender persons, up from 4% ten years ago, and 5% just five years ago. Illinois's law also bans discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

"Thanks to the hard work of grassroots activists, the glass of basic fairness for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans is slowly filling up," said Sean Cahill, Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. "While we have a long way to go until all of us are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, the progress is undeniable and unstoppable."

The Policy Institute analysis concluded that the actions of state legislatures and town councils reflected strong public support for laws protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination.

As nondiscrimination protections have spread across the nation at the local and state level, a federal bill to ban anti-gay discrimination in employment has languished in Congress for nearly a decade.

The report also noted:

* 156 million Americans, or 53% of the U.S. population, live in a state or jurisdiction where one can be fired, refused service in a restaurant, or denied housing or a loan simply because of his/her actual or perceived sexual orientation.

* 215 million Americans, or 73% of the U.S. population, live in a jurisdiction where a person can be fired, refused service in a restaurant, or denied housing or a loan simply because of his/her actual or perceived gender identity or expression.


Maggie Gallagher - another GOP media whore on the take

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Two peas in a pod, aren't they? As the Washington Blade pointed out, conservative syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher was one of the witnesses picked by Republicans to testify on protecting the Defense of Marriage Act. Gallagher wrote in a column that it would be better for the nation to legalize polygamy than it would to legalize gay marriage.

The floodgates of fraud are opening...Howard Kurtz in the WPost has the goods on syndicated columnist and ace homo-bigot Maggie Gallagher. Looks like Maggie took her turn in the taxpayer's trough in 2002, pimping Bush's "strengthening families through marriage" initiative, inking a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services.
"The Bush marriage initiative would emphasize the importance of marriage to poor couples" and "educate teens on the value of delaying childbearing until marriage," she wrote in National Review Online, for example, adding that this could "carry big payoffs down the road for taxpayers and children."

Gallagher explains to Kurtz: "Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it? I don't know. You tell me." She said she would have "been happy to tell anyone who called me" about the contract but that "frankly, it never occurred to me" to disclose it.

... Gallagher received an additional $20,000 from the Bush administration in 2002 and 2003 for writing a report, titled "Can Government Strengthen Marriage?", for a private organization called the National Fatherhood Initiative. That report, published last year, was funded by a Justice Department grant, said NFI spokesman Vincent DiCaro. Gallagher said she was "aware vaguely" that her work was federally funded.

In columns, television appearances and interviews with such newspapers as The Washington Post, Gallagher last year defended Bush's proposal for a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.

Boy, the Bush admin has some explaining to do...who else is going to get their sleazy *ss exposed?

I absolutely love the hand-wringing going on in Freeperville over this one. Hope Maggie and Armstrong see how these cretins turn their fangs on them at the drop of a hat. It's simply delicious...


Actual Freeper Quotes™:
"I want firings in HHS for spending my tax dollars this way."

"I hope it was worth it. As far as I'm concerned, the writing careers of these two are over."

"In Gallegher's case, that would be a real loss. Williams is a shrugger."

"Yeah I used to like her stuff, back when I thought she was honest. So much for that. She's done more damage with this one thing than good with all her writing combined."

"They are taking people who already agree with them and then paying them to agree with them. Whoever's in charge of this mess HAS to be canned. I don't want them anywhere near my tax dollars."

"They must be fired and a list of everyoone on the payroll published. We need to get this behind us, not have names dribble out over the next four years."

"I haven't heard anyone suggest this is illegal. But... I don't see how this can be a good thing if it keeps happening."

"Frankly, she is a columnist, so I give her more of a pass. If a journalist did this, I would demand her firing. However, SHE WRITES FOR NATIONAL REVIEW. I take this more seriously than blabbing on the radio like Williams. Who cares that he was paid. This is a big deal. We can't have somebody write a serious piece defending a proposal in a serious conservative publication and get cash under the table. At the very least, she needs to take a pay cut."

"I think everyone is just plain getting nellier than a basket of fruits at a Queer Eye episode gone terribly wrong. Journalists taking money from a PR firm representing a government agency to promote a product, policy or proposal? Heavens! My heart!"

"The Democrats don't have to pay. Mary Mapes of CBS fame volunteered her services to Kerry's campaign, for instance. Republicans have to cough up for favorable coverage."

"For $21,000! I hope she doesn't get a bad name over this. She writes some EXCELLENT columns in defense of marriage. It would be such a loss.... "

"All the more reason to question why we even need a Department of Health and Human Services!!!....just another bureaucratic swamp rife for political gamesmanship from BOTH major parties.........Goddammit, how long do we have to wait for REAL political change in this country that will RIP THE BUREAUCRACY OUT FROM IT ROOTS, BURN IT IN A BONFIRE, AND STOMP IT INTO THE DUSTBIN OF HISTORY........I'M SICK OF IT!!!! ARGGGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!"



No to Gonzales - our country deserves an Attorney General with ethics



Hop over to the Daily Kos article, No to Gonzales; Kos, the other moderators and many Kossacks have signed on to a letter to Senators asking them not to confirm Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General. Senator Joe Biden (DE) has already gone on record that he's leaning against Gonzales. There is a fighting chance that this will succeed, if people call and write their senators - we cannot win this with votes, but solidarity within the party is a strong message on its own. By signing on to this letter it will send a message that the blogosphere is actively opposing this terrible nomination.

I wanted to repost an blog entry that was on House Blend earlier this month, in reaction to Gonzales's opening statement to the Judiciary Committee. The sheer balls of this man makes your jaw drop, considering his flagrant disregard for the Geneva Conventions. Also, here is the infamous "Torture Memo" (PDF) that he sent to Bush, outlining what Gonzales deemed appropriate (legal) means of physical coercion (my euphemism).

Read Gonzales's prepared opening statement without your jaw dropping. Our country deserves better than this man to serve as our Attorney General. (WPost):
...Mr. Chairman, the highest objective of the Department of Justice is the pursuit of justice. This noble objective -- justice -- is reflected in human terms in the hopeful eyes of a new citizen, voting for the first time; in the quiet gratitude of a victim of crime whose rights have been vindicated in the courts; and in the pride of a person given the opportunity to succeed, no matter the skin color, or gender, or disability. For justice, properly understood, cannot in my view be divorced from the individual. It always has a human dimension and if confirmed as attorney general, I pledge that I will always remember that.


James Byrd, dragged to death in Texas; murdered gay Alabamian Billy Jack Gaither. Will Gonzales care about people like these?

If confirmed as attorney general, I will no longer represent only the White House; I will represent the United States of America and its people. I understand the differences between the two roles. In the former, I have been privileged to advise the president and his staff. In the latter, I would have a far broader responsibility: to pursue justice for all the people of our great nation; to see that the laws are enforced in a fair and impartial manner for all Americans.

Wherever we pursue justice -- from the war on terror to corporate fraud to civil rights -- we must always be faithful to the rule of law. I want to make very clear that I am deeply committed to the rule of law. I have a deep and abiding commitment to the fundamental American principle that we are a nation of laws, and not of men. That commitment is the core principle that has guided all of my professional endeavors.

Our government's most basic obligation is to protect its citizens from enemies who would destroy their lives and our nation's way of life. The Department of Justice's top priority is to prevent terror attacks against our nation.



As we fight the war on terror, we must always honor and observe the principles that make our society so unique and worthy of protection. We must be committed to preserving civil rights and civil liberties. I look forward if I am confirmed to working with the committee, the Congress and the public to ensure that we are doing all we can to do so. Although we may have differences from time to time, we all love our country and want to protect it while remaining true to our nation's highest ideals. Working together, we can accomplish that goal.

After the attacks of 9/11, our government had fundamental decisions to make concerning how to apply treaties and U.S. law to an enemy that does not wear a uniform, owes no allegiance to any country, is not a party to any treaties and -- most importantly -- does not fight according to the laws of war. As we have debated these questions, the president has made clear that he is prepared to protect and defend the Untied States and its citizens, and will do so vigorously, but always in a manner consistent with our nation's values and applicable law, including our treaty obligations. I pledge that, if I am confirmed as attorney general, I will abide by those commitments.



...Mr. Chairman, it is a distinct honor to appear before the committee today. I appreciate the time and attention that members of the committee and their staffs have dedicated to this hearing and to consideration of my nomination. And I look forward to answering your questions not just at this hearing, but if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, in the months and years ahead as we work together in the noble and high calling of the pursuit of justice.


Homo-bigot Alabama sheriff removes 'quaint' letter from county web site


Proud homophobe Sheriff Mac Holcomb of Guntersville, AL.

Good old Mac had the Klan sheet ripped right out from under him, lol. He found out that using the taxpayers' money to spew his "nostalgic" views about homos didn't go over well with a good number of people. He is, however, unrepentant and plans to continue sharing his homespun, hate-filled messages on his new web site. (Huntsville Times via AmericaBlog):
Marshall County Sheriff Mac Holcomb said Monday he will remove a personal letter critical of the homosexual lifestyle from a county-sponsored Web site.

..."The letter was never meant to be an expression of official county policy," Holcomb said in a news release. "We at the Marshall County Sheriff's Department have always treated all victims of crime, all criminal suspects, all detainees, all inmates exactly the same. "We give them every right afforded them by Alabama law and the United States Constitution."

[Yeah, Mac -- we all feel a little bit safer now. I will make sure I avoid driving through your county at night, though. Thanks a bunch. ]

Holcomb said the letter was his expression of personal beliefs, ones that "I still hold and will continue to hold until the day I die."

He said the letter will be removed and placed on a personal Web site, www.macholcomb.org.

"This will prevent the county from having to spend money unnecessarily in defending a frivolous lawsuit and ... this action will make it clear that the views expressed are my personal views and do not represent official policy of the county or the sheriff's department," Holcomb said in the release.


Florida couples drop challenge to DOMA

It's a setback, but what can you do in the climate that's been created by the Right and when the opposition party isn't fighting back in support of the cause? (Gainesville Sun) :
Three gay couples dropped their lawsuits Tuesday challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, saying they don't want to risk having a conservative U.S. Supreme Court set legal precedent by rejecting their cases.

Attorney Ellis Rubin, who was representing the couples, and the American Civil Liberties Union had said they would take the cases all the way from Florida's federal courts to the Supreme Court. The suits were brought by gay couples married in Massachusetts and Canada who wanted Florida to recognize their marriages.

Florida law only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman, a law that is supported by the Defense of Marriage Act. It allows states to disregard gay marriages performed in other states and foreign countries.

Rubin said in a statement the decision was made along with the ACLU's Gay and Lesbian Rights Project. Key in the decision was the Supreme Court's recent refusal to hear a challenge to the Florida law that bans gays from adopting children. "That ruling strongly suggests that our case would not be favorably received," Rubin said.

"It was a very difficult decision, but it was made in the best interest of my clients," Rubin said. "I felt that if we go to an appeal to the 11th Circuit, chances were very slim of us prevailing there and that would establish precedent for other judicial circuits." U.S. District Judge James Moody's dismissal of the two lawsuits does not set precedent for other jurisdictions.

Tyler said her group's attention will now be focused on changing individual state laws to allow marriage between same-sex couples and other legal challenges in less conservative districts. The group is also battling efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

"You pick your battles, but you continue fighting," Tyler said. "We understand it's a matter of time....Love always wins."


Freepers are erupting about gay marriage and immigration on the back burner

First, Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist placed an amendment to ban gay civil marriage and illegal immigration off the list of Senate priorities. Then the Three Stooges of the Arlington Group sent a letter to Bush threatening support for Social Security reform if wasn't made priority #1. You knew it wouldn't be long before the natives got restless and started frothing over in Freeperville.

Actual Freeper Quotes"

"Dr Frist, good way to commit political suicide!!"

"I'm thinking that the entire central nervous system needs replacing now." Yes. Well put. Time to deluge their mail, e-mail and phone lines. Is there a good constitutional party alternative to move to?"

"We citizens have more guns than does our military. And more four wheelers, bikes, snowmobiles, boats, planes, GPS units, scopes and general hunting gear. And our enemies know it. So, I'm not worried about invasion. Hell, bring it on and let's get it over with once and for all; I'm tired of toying with the cretins. A boy has more real risk from STD's. Gay males have high STD rates. And children are being pushed to 'discover' if they're gay at an early age in our public schools. Legal gay marriage would be a final 'seal of approval'. Do you know how many partners gay boys have, before they might just find 'Mr. Right'? Gay marriage is the blade on the left's spear; once it cuts in, great damage follows. It's happening right now. Our border and immigration are definitely critical. But so is stopping perversity, IMHO."

"Bill Frist is just Trent Lott Lite."

"You are right, and I am sorely disappointed by this fact. We are fighting to save our nation, and the band of clowns we call the Republicans Leadership in the senate are in La-La Land. Is the senate full of drag queens, or does somebody over their have a set?"

"Is there a good constitutional party alternative to move to?
Yes, here are some alternatives to consider:
Constitutional Party
Platform looks solid on border, immigration & visa isssues.
Constitution Party

America First Party
Several bullet points on both illegal & legal immigration in their platform.
America First Party

Independant American Party
I found no mention of immigration or illegal aliens in their platform.
Independant American Party

The American Party
From their platform: "We are opposed to all illegal aliens and, therefore, support laws and enforcement to deport them."
The American Party"


Bush meeting with Mel Watt, black leaders



I'm glad NC's Mel Watt is in on this get-together. I have suspicions about some of the other black leaders, that are, not surprisingly, unnamed. Bush's strategy has been to "reward" selected leaders with taypayer funds for faith-based initiatives. I wonder if some of our friends at Project 21 were invited? (CNN.com):
"I believe in fresh starts," said Rep. Melvin Watt, D-North Carolina, new chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has had an adversarial relationship with Bush but has a chance to get off on a better footing at a meeting Wednesday.


Bishop Sedgwick Daniels of Milwaukee's Holy Redeemer Church of God in Christ buys into Bush's faith-based initiatives and "values." Maybe he 's invited to the little love-in with Chimpy.

The meeting with black lawmakers comes after Bush is to receive about 20 black pastors and other community leaders Tuesday afternoon at the White House. Bush administration officials would not reveal identities of those at the meeting except to say the group includes some of the president's black supporters.

...During last year's political campaigns, Republican officials said they were making a more concerted effort to reach out to blacks through religious leaders. Bush campaign aides cited issues such as school vouchers and the president's support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that could help him gain more support among blacks.

Bush's efforts to steer more federal dollars to social programs conducted by so-called faith-based groups also has been received favorably by church leaders.

Watt, who pledged to pursue more frequent meetings when he took over as chairman of the caucus in December, said the organization is looking for cooperation from the White House, not just conversation. He said he plans to give Bush a written copy of the caucus agenda for the next two years, which focuses on eliminating disparities between blacks and whites in domestic and foreign policy.

"Unless the president can and is willing to assist us in achieving items on our agenda, there's no particular reason that the Congressional Black Caucus needs to be meeting with him," Watt said in an interview. "This is not about being able to say that we met with the president. We actually think it's about advancing and supporting our agenda."


Wayne Besen: "Ex-gay" leader expelled from counseling group

I just mentioned the discredited "ex-gay" movement last night in my post about Dobson's billboards in Texas promoting Focus on the Family's ex-gay" conference. It looks like the movement is taking another big blow this morning...

Wayne Besen, author of Anything But Straight, has just put up an incredible expose on a leader of the "ex-gay" movement on his web site. Richard Cohen, president of P-FOX, has been "expelled for life" out of the American Counseling Association for unethical conduct. The exclusive has the details on Cohen's violations. RawStoryQ/RawPrint.com has a copy of the letter:



Wingnuts threaten Bush's kneecaps on Social Security if he doesn't push FMA

[Welcome Buzzflash readers...comments are encouraged! Also, check out the Freeper reaction to FMA and immigration being back burnered by Frist.]

These folks are like the Corleones or the Sopranos. I expect figurative cement shoes and broken bones shortly. They didn't wait long, as I predicted last night ("The Right is going to be pissed at Bush"), to threaten the Administration in some way. They smartly picked Bush's big ticket agenda to threaten -- Social Security -- because the Right knows he wants and needs their support. (NYT):
In a confidential letter to Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's top political adviser, the [Arlington Group] said it was disappointed with the White House's decision to put Social Security and other economic issues ahead of its paramount interest: opposition to same-sex marriage.

"We couldn't help but notice the contrast between how the president is approaching the difficult issue of Social Security privatization where the public is deeply divided and the marriage issue where public opinion is overwhelmingly on his side," the letter said. "Is he prepared to spend significant political capital on privatization but reluctant to devote the same energy to preserving traditional marriage? If so it would create outrage with countless voters who stood with him just a few weeks ago, including an unprecedented number of African-Americans, Latinos and Catholics who broke with tradition and supported the president solely because of this issue."

The letter continued, "When the administration adopts a defeatist attitude on an issue that is at the top of our agenda, it becomes impossible for us to unite our movement on an issue such as Social Security privatization where there are already deep misgivings."

The letter also expressed alarm at recent comments President Bush made to The Washington Post, including his statement that "nothing will happen" on the marriage amendment for now because many senators did not see the need for it. "We trust that you can imagine our deep disappointment at the defeatist position President Bush demonstrated" in the interview, the group wrote. "He even declined to answer a simple question about whether he would use his bully pulpit to overcome this Senate foot-dragging."

The letter also noted that in an interview before the election Mr. Bush "appeared to endorse civil unions" for same-sex couples. The group asked Mr. Rove to designate "a top level" official to coordinate opposition to same-sex marriage, as a show of commitment.


The Three Stooges: Dobson, Falwell, Weyrich.

The members of the coalition that wrote the letter are some of Mr. Bush's most influential conservative Christian supporters, and include Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the Southern Baptist Convention, the American Family Association, Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, declined to talk about the letter, but said, "The enthusiasm to get behind his proposals is going to require that he get behind the issues that really motivated social conservative voters." Asked to estimate the level of discontent with the White House among the group on a scale from one to 10, Mr. Perkins put it at 8.

Quite frankly, I'm sure the Dems are just as scared of this move, because even in the blogosphere, they don't want to talk about gay civil rights at all. They want the focus to remain on the economy, the war, anything besides this issue, because they don't know how to take the frame away from the Rovian Right (well, Rep. Mel Watt does). Look at these comments yesterday on DKos, when I posted that FMA was being resubmitted by Sen. Allard.
Let's get right past this red-herring issue (4.00 / 2)
Don't get me wrong, we should oppose it. But let's spend the bulk of our energy keeping the spotlight on Iraq.

Yes (none / 0)
The social issues must rear their ugly heads again so they can grandstand on the faux morals platform and avoid be grilled about SS, Iraq and everything else that is tanking in the Republican grand plan. Dare we hope that the media will not take the bait?

good points (none / 0)

we do need to keep our eyes on the iraq/condi/abu gonzales ball. but so do our senators. i think this might be the strongest point in the diary - write this wingnut and his co-sponsor cohorts letters telling them just how skewed their priorities are. how can gay marriage be the single most important issue when the economy, healthcare, employment, foreign relations and military missions are all fuckerpants? any locals up for an LTE?

FMA doesn't deserve legislative priority, but what these Kossacks don't understand is that the Right has already cemented the issue into the electorate and the media, and the government is GOP-controlled at the Federal level. They are driving the train, people, and the opposition party is MIA on a response as to why civil rights for gay people are no threat to society.

Attacking gays is easy and emotional; you just can't tell people not to think about something that has been pummeled into them over this election cycle without taking a real position. The Democrats have no response to the gay rights issue other than "me too" for the DINOs or stumbling, bumbling avoidance -- "no look over there at Baghdad" or punting, hoping DOMA will stand, while state after state codifies discrimination into their state constitutions. People need to hear how the party stands on this, so that they can put the issue to rest in order to focus on the war, Big Pharma, sleaze and corruption. The diversionary tactics just look wishy-washy to people; everyone knows where the wingnuts stand. The Right loves seeing the Dems bob and weave on this; it helps them.


2 Subway Lines Crippled by Fire; Long Repair Seen


Passengers squeezed into a No. 2 train at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn on Monday, made more crowded by riders from the A and C lines. (Angel Franco/NYT)

This sucks. I used to live in Brooklyn -- Stuyvesant Heights, to be specific -- and took the A or C trains in to work every day. Now the service has been crippled for the next 3-5 years because of a fire that destroyed a signal relay room. The cause: a homeless person set a fire in the subway to keep warm that got out of control. (NYT):
The blaze, at the Chambers Street station used by the A and C lines, was described as doing the worst damage to subway infrastructure since the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. It gutted a locked room that is no larger than a kitchen but that contains some 600 relays, switches and circuits that transmit vital information about train locations.

The A line will run roughly one-third the normal number of trains - meaning that riders who used to wait six minutes for a train might now have to wait 18 minutes - while the C train will cease to exist as a separate line, at least for the time being. The C will be replaced by the V in Brooklyn. Long waits and erratic service are likely to be the norm on the two lines, which have a combined ridership of 580,000 each weekday.



..."This is a very significant problem, and it's going to go on for quite a while," said Lawrence G. Reuter, the president of New York City Transit. He estimated it would take "several millions of dollars and several years" to reassemble and test the intricate network of custom-built switch relays that were destroyed in the blaze, which officials believe began when the homeless person - who has not been found - set fire to wood and refuse in a shopping cart in the tunnel about 50 feet north of the Chambers Street station.

...An expert on the city's subways expressed amazement that a single fire in a confined space could have such a long-lasting impact. "It seems astonishing that a single signal room would be so central to the operation of the line that it would take five years to recover from," said Clifton Hood, a transit historian at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. "That's about as long as it took to build that entire line of the IND."

Computerized transit operation is going to roll out; the first, according to the NYT, will be on the Brooklyn L line and Manhattan's lines this summer. That does a lot of good for the rest of the 722-mile system, huh? The roll-out of the rest of the system will be highly political in terms of which neighborhoods get priority to switch over,

As bad as this story is, what does this tell you about NYC's homeland security preparations?? This event is a giant roadmap for Al Qaeda -- target the signal rooms. No need for a dirty bomb or a car bomb. All you need is a match and some dirty rags and you're in business to take out the public transit system of NY. It wouldn't be as emotionally devastating as 9/11, but sure as hell would be more effective at crippling our economic engine if millions of people have no effective way to get to work. Other cities with elderly public transit systems need to take note.


TX billboards promote Focus on the Family's "ex-gay" conference

Monday, January 24, 2005


Sicko James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family and supporter of "ex-gay" ministries like Exodus International. FoF is putting on the "Love Won Out" conference. Melissa Fryrear is "Gender Issues Analyst" for Focus on the Family; she will be speaking at the event.

I am so sick of the promotion of the "ex-gay" movement. It has been discredited over and over, but Dobson's Focus on the Family keeps on plugging away, trying to lure self-loathing homosexuals into a torture of denial through "religious salvation." The latest outrage involves billboards sprouting up around Texas promoting one of its recruitment events to "cure" gays and lesbians. (Galveston Daily News):
"I questioned homosexuality." Such is written in big, bold letters across the top of billboards throughout the county.

"Change is possible. Discover how," continues the text accompanying the faces of either a smiling man or woman, presumably ex-gays. The controversial group Focus on the Family is bringing its daylong conference, billed as "Love Won Out" [You must check out this link; scroll down to see some of the queerest "ex-gays" you have ever seen.] , to Houston next month and organizers have already started recruiting attendees. A Galveston resident is behind the 15 billboards that went up throughout the county and south Houston this week. B. Joe Cline runs the Lighthouse Freedom Ministry, which aims to "bring people up to date on the causes and prevention of homosexuality."

Cline said his son was gay but has now come "all the way back to heterosexuality."

Cline raised money from Christian groups to put up the billboards. He is using them as a way to advertise Exodus International - the most well-known ex-gay group - but also to publicize the Love Won Out conference, which will include a slate of "nationally known experts who have firsthand experience with the seldom-told side of the homosexual issue," according to the Focus on the Family website.

Galveston therapist Carla Willis-Brandon said she was incensed when she heard about Love Won Out from one of her patients. "... it will increase shame," said Wills-Brandon, who works with gay, lesbian and transgender individuals. "People who have shame about their gender, who haven't sought out help, they search and they will go to something like this (conference) and what they will hear is that the feelings they are having - which are normal - are sinful."

Paige Palmer, a 16-year-old lesbian at Clear Creek High School, said there are frightening implications for gay and lesbian teens. She said her first girlfriend committed suicide for fear her mother would not accept her. Palmer can list a number of friends who have been beaten up or run away from home because of prejudice. She said it was often harder to be a gay or lesbian teenager than an adult, “because (adults) don’t have to worry ‘Are my parents going to be mad, are they going to kick me out?’”

The "ex-gay" movement, as I said up top, has no way to prove that they've "cured" anyone of homosexuality. In fact, they may have destroyed more lives than they have saved. In fact, the leading British pastoral couseling movement to steer self-loathing gays to psychotherapy or religion, Courage, has thrown in the towel. They've gotten a sign from above to stop trying to "cure" gay folks.



Also, 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. The irony is that two of the founders of Exodus, Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee, actually fell in love, divorced their wives, and eventually held a commitment ceremony.

And it's not just Exodus in the game...the Mormon church endorses a variation of ministry called "reparative therapy." Though the church says it is not directly affiliated with organizations responsible for the mental and emotional torture of vulnerable gays and lesbians, they are threatened with rejection by both their church and their families if they do not submit to "treatment."

So much for reparative therapy. Maybe someone should tell Joe Cline to pick up a copy of the book.

B. Joe Cline
Lighthouse Freedom Ministry
lfm@houston.rr.com


The Right is going to be pissed at Bush


Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., center, flanked by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., left, and Sen. Rick "Dog Sex" Santorum), R-Pa., brushing aside mixed signals from the White House on the issue's importance at the start of President Bush's second term. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke).

Looks like the support for Wayne Allard's #1 priority to protect marriage is going to be tepid. I'm wondering how long it will be before someone at AgapePress or The Conservative Voice goes apesh*t on Bush and Frist for not jumping right on the bandwagon. (AP):

White House counselor Dan Bartlett (r) will be kept busy dodging mad wingnuts in the press.

...Bush pushed hard for a vote in both houses of Congress on the amendment during last year's election campaign. This year, he said in a Washington Post interview he will not lobby the Senate to pass the amendment, adding there are not enough supporters to approve the measure. When social conservatives complained, White House counselor Dan Bartlett said Bush was talking about the "legislative reality," and will continue to push for the ban.

Additionally, White House strategist Karl Rove did not mention the issue when he spoke to GOP lawmakers earlier this winter and laid out the president's top priorities.

Nor did the GOP leadership include the measure on its list of top 10 legislative priorities for the next two years, an agenda topped by Bush's call for landmark Social Security legislation and an overhaul of the tax code. Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the measure was omitted because it is an amendment rather than traditional legislation, and said he hoped it would pass.

Actually, there are already strong rumblings of discontent with Bush from his evangelical "base," as it were. Look at this news squib from American Family Association's media organ, AgapePress (tip, courtesy of AmericaBlog). The wingnuts are starting to rumble about whether Bush is as committed to the evangelical political mission...

Evanga-wingnut, religious bigot John Lofton.

...Some conservative Christians are asking questions regarding the faith of President Bush based on his recent actions. Christian social commentator John Lofton is upset over some things the president has done lately, including the chief executive's praise of the Koran during his inauguration speech last week. "It was deeply distressing to hear President Bush mention the Koran, which is a vehemently anti-Christian [and] anti-Jewish document, in the same breath with the Old and the New Testaments," Lofton says. The columnist also notes that in his Christmas address, Bush failed to mention the name of Christ -- yet he honored Ramadan and an Indian holiday that features an eight-legged elephant god. And today's (January 24) March for Life in Washington, DC, follows on the heels of the president's approval of a pro-abortion woman for the number-two spot on the Republican National Committee [see my post here on this]. Lofton has written a column wondering just what kind of faith President Bush has.


Bob Jones III To Retire As BJU President


Bob's 35-year-old son Stephen will be taking the reins. Doesn't sound like Stevie has much of a vision.

[1/25 - correction: it was Chimpy, not GHWB that spoke at BJU -- thanks HB reader Ted]

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Bob. You'll recall that Chimpy was criticized for speaking at the school as a candidate in 2000 because the university banned interracial dating. The policy has since been "revised." (MyrtleBeachOnline):
The new leader of Bob Jones University is expected to help the 78-year-old institution connect with young people. Bob Jones III, 65, announced Thursday that he would step down in May, ceding the role of president to Stephen Jones, his 35-year-old son. No one predicts sweeping changes or says exactly how Stephen Jones is expected put the school in touch with young people.

Gary Weirer, the university's registrar, said the younger Jones will bring to the job "a better understanding of how the contemporary culture in which we live affects young people, their thinking, their habits." The younger Jones is faced with the task of keeping the institution true to its moral compass while keeping it relevant to a changing society, said Dr. Bob Wilson, a Greenville plastic surgeon who is a member of the university's board of trustees.

"I think that the change demonstrates the commitment of the administration to reinvigorate the management of the entire university with fresh new ideas that youth always brings," he said. "And I think this will be certainly an opportunity for the university to look at a lot of what they've been engaged in a different light," Wilson said.

For his part, "I haven't thought of any radical change," Stephen Jones said after his father's announcement.

As he announced he was stepping down, Bob Jones III decried the change he's seen in students coming to the school since he became president 34 years ago, particularly how popular culture eroded the basic values they arrive with.

...Certain things won't change with the transition, notably its mission statement: "to grow Christlike character that is Scripturally disciplined; others-serving; God-loving; Christ-proclaiming; and focused Above."


AP: Short on troops to deploy?


ND B Company's second platoon Soldiers receive Army Commendation Medals during a formation at FOB Speicher, Iraq. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tracey Trapp, B Company, 141st Engineer Combat Battalion)

Can you feel the (backdoor, special skills) draft? They are running out of troops even faster than ever imagined, and you don't hear a peep from the Administration about what they plan to do to "fix" the situation. I guess they're praying that democracy will immediately take root in Iraq after the upcoming elections and the troops can scurry back home. (AP):
The National Guard says it has about 86,000 citizen soldiers available for future deployments to Iraq, fewer than it has sent there over the past two years. And it has used up virtually all of its most readily deployable combat brigades. In an indication of the concern about a thinning of its ranks, last month the National Guard tripled the re-enlistment bonuses offered to soldiers in Iraq who can fill critical skill shortages.

Similarly, the Army Reserve has about 37,500 deployable soldiers left — about 18 percent of its total troop strength. The Marine Corps Reserve appears to be in a comparable position, because most of its 40,000 troops have been mobilized at least once already. Officials said they have no figures available on how many are available for future deployments to Iraq. Both the Army and the Marines are soliciting reservists to volunteer for duty in Iraq.

"The reserves are pretty well shot" after the Pentagon makes the next troop rotation, starting this summer, said Robert Goldich, a defense analyst at the Congressional Research Service.

Among the evidence:

—Of the National Guard's 15 best-trained, best-equipped and most ready-to-deploy combat brigades, all but one are either in Iraq now, have demobilized after returning from a one-year tour there or have been alerted for duty in 2005-2006.

The Army Reserve, with about 205,000 citizen soldiers on its rolls for support rather than combat duty, has been so heavily used since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that, for practical purposes, it has only about 37,500 troops available to perform the kinds of missions required in Iraq, according to an internal briefing chart entitled, "What's Left in the Army Reserve?"


The chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, recently advised other Army leaders that his citizen militia is in "grave danger" of being unable to meet all its operational responsibilities. He said the Reserve is "rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force."

The mix of troops in the U.S. force rotation now under way in Iraq is about 50 percent active duty and 50 percent reserves. But that is set to change to 70 percent active and 30 percent reserve for the rotation after that, beginning this summer, because combat-ready Guard units have been tapped out.

...It's not the absolute number of reservists that poses a problem. It's the number who have the right skills for what is required in Iraq and who have not already served lengthy tours on active duty since President Bush authorized the Pentagon three days after the Sept. 11 attacks to mobilize as many as 1 million reservists for up to 24 months.

A portion of the best-trained reservists are approaching the 24-month limit, and some senior officials inside the Army are considering whether the limit should be redefined so that mobilizations over the past three years would, in effect, not count against the 24-month limit.


Brain-dead Bill Thomas - tie Social Security benefits to race and gender


DOA: "We also need to examine, frankly, ... the question of race, in terms of how many years of retirement do you get based upon your race. And you ought not to just leave gender off the table, because that would be a factor."

First the GOP wants to tell you that Social Security is in crisis (it isn't) , now we have a bone-headed Rep. Bill Thomas going on Meet the Press and telling us that it's time to look at race and gender as factors for Social Security. And let's see...what method might the government use to calculate your benefits in a particular way...will we use a brown paper bag as a means test for black people? Good lord, how do people this dumb get elected? Oh, god my head hurts thinking about the stupidity. I should send him my essay on the ridiculous, American social construct of race. (local6.com):
The chairman of the House tax-writing committee said Sunday that President George W. Bush's drive to overhaul Social Security should lead to consideration of a value added tax or other ways to fund the entitlement program.

Congress also should consider basing benefits on such factors as race, sex and the job a retiree once held, said Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif.

"The way we fund the Social Security system, I think, needs to be examined. What we fund it for, chronic or long-term care, has not been addressed, and that's one of seniors' major needs," he told NBC's "Meet the Press."

The last major changes to the system encouraged optional increases in retirement age. That was intended to lower costs by reducing the number of years the average retiree received benefits.

"To move from 65 to 68, which we did in 1983, was a benefit cut, but it also creates hardships based upon the occupation that you have, and it creates inequities on who you are and how long you live," Thomas said.

"You could just as easily have a discussion about occupations, as to when would be a fair or an unfair time to retire," he said.

"We also need to examine, frankly, ... the question of race, in terms of how many years of retirement do you get based upon your race. And you ought not to just leave gender off the table, because that would be a factor," Thomas said.

The senate's top Democrat is blasting some Social Security proposals from the chairman of the House tax-writing committee.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said, "foolish isn't a strong enough description" for Thomas' idea that benefits might be based on factors like race and sex. Reid also shot down the idea of a value-added tax, calling the proposal "dead on arrival."



FMA is back in play - Colarado Senator Allard submits another marriage amendment


Wingnut Senator Wayne Allard is first out of the gate with another version of FMA, and has at least 12 co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

Can you think of things going on in this country that should take top legislative priority and the attention of our elected officials? War in Iraq, Social Security, health care, the environment, maybe? Senator Wayne Allard doesn't think so. Marriage is in serious jeopardy, so the Colorado Republican is submitting the "Marriage Protection Amendment", indicating his top issue of concern. (Rocky Mountain News):
he fight over same-sex marriage is about to vault to the top of the congressional agenda today, when U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard plans to reintroduce a measure that would define marriage nationally as being between one man and one woman. Last year's version of the proposed constitutional amendment was shelved after a hard-fought procedural vote, when it gained only 48 of the 60 votes needed to bring it up for final approval.

"We think we have more support this time than we had last time around," said Allard, R-Loveland.

As of Sunday, he had lined up at least 12 co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. But Allard still does not know if he has the required two-thirds vote for final Senate passage.

Allard's measure, called the Marriage Protection Amendment, faces fierce opposition from gay and lesbian groups and human rights organizations that equate it to adding discrimination to the U.S. Constitution.

"We've never institutionalized a slap against a community in the Constitution before, and there's no reason to do it now," Julie Tolleson, spokeswoman for Equal Rights Colorado, said Sunday evening.

...A law passed during President Clinton's administration, the Defense of Marriage Act, provides that states are not required to recognize same-sex marriages granted in places such as Massachusetts.

President Bush, who supports a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, raised eyebrows among conservative Christian supporters recently when he told The Washington Post that Congress might not take action as long as DOMA remains in effect. "The point is, is that senators have made it clear that so long as DOMA is deemed constitutional, nothing will happen," Bush told the newspaper, according to the White House transcript.

Allard said he believes Republican Senate leaders will send a different message today. He expects his amendment to be designated Concurrent Resolution 1, indicating at least symbolically that it is the top legislative priority.


Thanks to House Blend reader Paul for the pointer.


Supreme Court Punts on 'Choose Life' Plates


In 2001, South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges signed the law allowing the Choose Life license plates.

The wingers are angry at this one. See Freeper comments below...(WP):
The Supreme Court declined Monday to consider whether states may offer plates with anti-abortion messages, leaving lower courts divided over whether the programs in a dozen states unconstitutionally restrict dissenting views.

Without comment, justices let stand a lower court ruling that said South Carolina's license plates, which bear the slogan "Choose Life," violate the First Amendment because abortion rights supporters weren't given a similar forum to express their beliefs.

The high court's move means that South Carolina will either have to eliminate the specialty plates or begin offering plates with abortion-rights views. That ruling is an odds, however, with a decision by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which essentially allowed the plates because it said anti-abortion advocates didn't have standing to bring a lawsuit in the case.

...States offering the plates are: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The states that have "undertaken legislative action to some degree" on anti-abortion plates are: California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia.

The law allowing the "Choose Life" plate was signed by South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges in 2001 and included in a bill that allowed NASCAR and other specialty plates. In 2003, U.S. District Judge Patrick Michael Duffy issued a preliminary injunction blocking South Carolina from issuing the plates until the case was heard.


Actual Freeper Quotes"
"Nah, let 'em come up with blood-red plates that read "Right to Choose." I'll bet that will make their children feel special. Maybe someday they'll ask, "Mommy, did I have any brothers or sisters you didn't tell me about?"

"So Planned Parenthood wanted a plate that said "Choose Death", or "Kill Your Baby"?"

"Well, the Planned Parenthood eugenicists are perfectly free to petition the state to set up a whole series of pro-abortion plates, such as: "Crack Babies - Better Dead than Born"; "Planned Parenthood - 'Exterminating the Negro Population' Since 1939"; "Planned Parenthood - Practical Eugenics"; "Abortion - Practical Solutions for a Cleaner Race"

"I'm still pissed that my state, Nevada, quashed a move to create a specialty plate honoring the nuclear workers of the state. The plate had a beautiful picture of a glowing mushroom cloud. I had plans to get one of those as a vanity plate: KABOOM."

"So, if my state puts out a "Save The Planet" plate, I can demand a "Kill More Whales" plate. Cool."

"Saddam killed several hundred thousand or 1 or 2 million, the PLO kills wantonly, but just say "choose life" and every damn left wingnut has cats."


LGBT News Roundup, 1/24/2005

[NOTE: This is an early release on the House Blend of a weekly Daily Kos roundup diary that I post.]

Let's start off with the good news...


Montana State Senator Ken Toole is sponsor of the anti-discrimination bill 1999.




Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich


Headlines...


***

Rabid religious wingnuts, Freepers and homo-bigot preachers on the loose.





What a hoot. Ripped from
Oliver Willis. Click to enlarge.


Left: Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. Right: Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, archbishop of Toronto. The cardinal is using the talking points right out of the Falwell handbook.



Usually unhinged William Donahue of the Catholic League actually emits less wingnuttery than the other person in this article, Stephen Brady of "Roman Catholic Faithful.




General corporate, legislative, legal and community activism by your jolly neighborhood homophobes...


why...Why...WHY is this jackass president? Please stop the madness.



Pretty boy Nathan, and the source of his factoids about homosexuality, discredited "scientist" Paul Cameron.





Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family think fighting gay marriage is more important than say, war and poverty.



Ralphie, the religious Right wonder-boy -- is he following Zell's lead?




As I've said before, George Wallace would be Alabama's first choice again for gov, but he's uh, dead.




Arkansan wingnut Rep. Bob Adams, D-Sheridan.



A new LGBT news/commentary site launched last week, RawStoryQ, a project of Mike Rogers (BlogActive and John Byrne (The Raw Story and The Blue Lemur). The format is much like The Raw Story. Information on the site is here. Disclaimer/good news: Features from my blog, Pam's House Blend, will be on the site from time to time.

Headlines...

Some Related diaries this week...



Torture Becomes a Matter of Definition

Sunday, January 23, 2005

These are the voices of the Bush administration. (LA Times). Bush nominees refuse to say what's prohibited. U.S. dilemma is that it wants to disavow abuse but retain leeway in pressuring suspects.




Utah bill that will give gay couples rights advances in legislature


Republican Majority Leader Peter Knudson favors the bill; it's also supported by Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr.

Considering the large Mormon population and history of intolerance toward gays, this is great progress...(365gay):
Less than three months after Utah voters approved an amendment banning same-sex marriage the Legislature is considering a bill to give some rights to gay and lesbian couples. The legislation was approved unanimously Friday in committee in the Senate. Even Republican Majority Leader Peter Knudson who moved for a vote said it is "a fine piece of legislation."

Under the proposed bill any two adults even siblings or a grandparent and child could register with the state Health Department. It would grant hospital-visitation rights, inheritance benefits, and allow partners to make organ-donation decisions, make funeral arrangements and emergency medical choices for the other person.

Jane Marquardt, chairwoman of the board for Equality Utah, said the proposed legislation is not a civil union bill. "[It] in no way approaches the more than 1,200 rights and responsibilities that automatically accompany traditional marriage," she said. Nevertheless, she says it is an "excellent start."

The legislation has the support of Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.


Johnny Carson, King of Late Night, Dies



Back in the day, he was late night. Rest in peace, Johnny. (AP):
Johnny Carson (news), the "Tonight Show" TV host who served America a smooth nightcap of celebrity banter, droll comedy and heartland charm for 30 years, has died. He was 79. "Mr. Carson passed away peacefully early Sunday morning," his nephew, Jeff Sotzing, told The Associated Press. "He was surrounded by his family, whose loss will be immeasurable. There will be no memorial service."

Sotzing would not give further details, including the time of death or the location.

The boyish-looking Nebraska native with the disarming grin, who survived every attempt to topple him from his late-night talk show throne, was a star who managed never to distance himself from his audience.

His wealth, the adoration of his guests — particularly the many young comics whose careers he launched — the wry tales of multiple divorces: Carson's air of modesty made it all serve to enhance his bedtime intimacy with viewers.

"Heeeeere's Johnny!" was the booming announcement from sidekick Ed McMahon that ushered Carson out to the stage. Then the formula: the topical monologue, the guests, the broadly played skits such as "Carnac the Magnificent."

But America never tired of him; Carson went out on top when he retired in May 1992. In his final show, he told his audience: "And so it has come to this. I am one of the lucky people in the world. I found something that I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it."


Gay, lesbian, minority and disabled workers find support in corporate 'affinity groups'


Patti Michaud, left, director of records management for Mellon Financial, Susan Whitewood, first vice president for global exposure management, and Maria Anderson, assistant vice president for corporate affairs, are group leaders for several of the "affinity" networks the company has launched in the past year. The groups are an effort by the company to show its support for diverse and minority employees. ( Tony Tye, Post-Gazette)

Companies are realizing that the value of a diverse workforce, and one of the challenges of effectively bringing together talented workers with a variety of backgrounds is to help improve understanding and promote professional relationships. And that applies to both colleagues who do and don't belong to those minority or other diverse groups in the workforce.

Gay employees often fret over when or if to come out on the job. It's not easy concealing your orientation; straight co-workers, even well-intentioned ones, innocently ask personal questions that leave gay people uneasy because answering them may out them -- "Are you married..do you have kids...seeing anyone?" Either you have to lie, avoid the answer, or just come out. And the gay person may not have a good enough sense of what the right thing to do might be at the time. These affinity networks help folks talk about these kind of integration issues in a safe space, either physical, virtual or both. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):
When Susan Whitewood opens e-mail reminders about upcoming meetings of her networking group at Mellon Financial Corp., she's never sure who else received the same message. The network includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees at Mellon, and its leaders are careful to use a blind distribution list that doesn't disclose the names of members or potential recruits. Not that the it doesn't want to grow its ranks. But the group, called PRISM -- which stands for Pride, Respect, Individuality and Support at Mellon -- is adamant about respecting its participants' privacy.

Mellon isn't the only big corporation keen to boost diversity and minority recruitment efforts through affinity networks. Glaxo- SmithKline, General Electric, Xerox and Goldman Sachs are among large employers across the country that have created such networks for gays, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans.

"A large piece of it is retention and recruitment," said Ernestine Harris, director of human resources for Glaxo's Consumer HealthCare division in Moon and a member of the company's African-American Alliance. "My sense is we're starting to recognize the value that diversity can play in the workplace, and I think that's what is leading to the effort to form affinity groups," said Robert Kelley, adjunct professor of organizational behavior at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business and author of "How to Be a Star at Work."

Because most affinity networks are sponsored by employers, members typically meet in corporate auditoriums or other company sites. Over coffee or brown bag lunches, members and guest speakers address issues such as mentoring, business role models and how to cope with being a minority within the corporate culture.

At a recent PRISM network "coming out" meeting, members and potential members could talk openly, if they cared to, about how their sexual orientation impacts their job and relationships with managers and colleagues. The network has about 55 members in Pittsburgh and a dozen or so at Mellon locations elsewhere who keep in touch by telephone or e-mail. "People are bringing lots of baggage, history and some fear about what their boss would think or how their co-workers would treat them" if their sexual orientation is disclosed, Whitewood said.

"If a worker has to hold something back, they're not fully engaged in work," she said. So the network attempts to provide advice and support for people wrangling with the stressful decision about whether to "come out" and also keeps members up to date on issues such as Mellon's domestic partner benefits plan.

At Glaxo, one of the goals of the affinity groups is to provide colleagues with first-hand insight about how to target products to specific minorities. In addition to African-Americans, its Moon consumer operations has networks for Asians, Hispanics and gays and lesbians.



William Donohue: 'What is wrong with white people' -- for accepting gay civil marriage


Just about the most insane commentary I have ever read.

I almost couldn't believe what I was reading. Just when I thought old Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, was becoming a more moderate bigoted flamethrower, he comes out with this gem of an editorial, actually titled What's Wrong With White People. He basically assails the entire white race -- for being won over by the homosexual agenda, I suppose -- because some poll numbers show more support for gay marriage in that community (worldwide), and more opposition within minority communities. This is one of the most racist and homophobic pieces of trash I have ever read (throw sexist in there too, if you manage to read to the end). The worst part of all of this is that it's coming from someone within the faith community that is frequently called upon by the mainstream media to be a talking head. Consider this Bill's wake up call to all the pale folks round the globe. (The Conservative Voice):
The Catholic Church rightfully emphasizes that all human beings share an inherent dignity. It matters not a whit what a person's race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or age is?all are equal before God. Because we do not choose any of these attributes, they are of no moral consequence. It's only when we engage in making value choices that morality kicks in. For instance, having a homosexual orientation is not sinful; acting on it is.

Until recently, such an observation would be regarded as pedestrian. Always allowing for the occasional eccentric, everyone knew that homosexuality was wrong. But all this has changed. First gays wanted tolerance. To tolerate is to put up with, and that's what homosexuals wanted from heterosexuals - to publicly acknowledge their presence without rancor or discord. Having won that battle (deservedly so), they proceeded to reject tolerance altogether. What they did was to raise the bar: they wanted social affirmation. Nothing less than social approval of who they are ?including their lifestyle? would satisfy. Now they want us to say it's okay for a guy to marry a guy.

Americans are a tolerant people. That's good, just so long as tolerance doesn't slide into amorality. For example, it is one thing to put up with immoral behavior, quite another to say we no longer object. Not only is there nothing wrong with registering moral outrage at morally outrageous behavior, there is something immoral about remaining silent. And no segment of society fails this test more than white people; in particular, well-educated white people.

...The Pew Hispanic Center found that 72 percent of Latinos believe homosexual sex between adults is "unacceptable"; 59 percent of whites feel the same way. In New York State, in a poll of Democratic voters taken by Edison Media Research, it was determined that 27 percent of Hispanics thought gays should be able to marry; 47 percent of whites approved. In Florida, a survey by Schroth & Associates found that 20 percent of Hispanics were pro-gay marriage, compared to 29 percent of whites.

The same phenomenon exists worldwide. Virtually every nation in the world where the right of two men to marry is being seriously advanced is white: it is in Canada, the U.S. and Europe where the gay rights movement is flourishing. It is not flourishing in Asia, the Middle East, Africa or Latin America. Just in nations that are predominantly white.

This pattern is evident in the United Nations as well: non-white nations are busy resisting the tide of the gay rights movement that is being foisted upon them by rich white countries.

...So what's wrong with white people? To be sure, many have swallowed the moonshine?served up in copious portions by our cultural elites? that to deny homosexuals the right to marry is to discriminate against them. Lost in this logic is the fact that homosexuals can marry. And many do; some even father or give birth to children. What they can't do is marry someone of the same sex. Neither can brothers marry their sisters; or fathers marry their daughters; or sons marry their mothers; or sisters marry their sisters; or brothers marry their brothers. But all are free to marry someone outside their family who is of the opposite sex.

It is not a good sign when a society passes laws that contravene nature's cues. For example, nature tells us that, on average, men are stronger than women, and that young men are stronger than older men. That is why we draft young men and not old ladies. In the same way, nature, and nature's God, allow for the unity of male-female relations and the prospect of a family. A society that does not ratify that fact of life is simply asking for trouble.

As I said before, I always think the guy is going to have a stroke or heart attack when he gets asked questions about homos on shows like Hardball; he froths, rants and loses his composure. Please folks, tell me this was a joke. Please. This man has a tenuous grasp on reality.


Winners of Perrspectives' "Name That Bush Scandal" contest are announced



John Perr's Perrspectives has announced the winners of the "Name That Bush Scandal." Folks were asked to contribute unique, catchy and original name(s) for Bush administration scandals; looks like he received a bunch of really good ones.

Also, don't forget to check out the hysterical American Taliban feature on Perrspectives, as well as the Conservative Threat Level (above).


Public Agenda survey: If you're "churched," you're less tolerant


Ruth A. Wooden, president of Public Agenda, released the poll. The findings came from a telephone survey of 1,507 adults made in 2000 and a second similar survey of 1,004 adults done during the summer of 2004 that tracked the same issues. Corwin E. Smidt, of The Henry Institute, says 40% of Americans go to church each week.

Look at the various slants of these media outlets on this story, based on the headlines. (Google):


Interesting, eh? All except the Philly story are using the same Reuters report Survey Finds Church-Going Americans Less Tolerant, and just added their own headline. I went with the Reuters link because 1) most outlets regurgitate wire service reports anyway; 2) AP and Reuters don't require registration; and 3) while the wire services are not immune from bias, generally you get a straghtforward, no frills report. I just thought the contrast in headlines this time was pretty stark.
Church-going Americans have grown increasingly intolerant in the past four years of politicians making compromises on such hot issues as abortion and gay rights, according to a survey released on Saturday. At the same time, those polled said they were growing bolder about pushing their beliefs on others -- even at the risk of offending someone.

The trends could indicate that religion has become "more prominent in American discourse ... more salient," according to Ruth Wooden, president of Public Agenda, a nonpartisan research organization which released the survey.

It could also indicate "more polarized political thinking. There do not seem to be very many voices arguing for compromise today," she said in an interview. "It could be that more religious voices feel under siege, pinned against the wall by cultural developments. They may feel more emboldened as a result." The November U.S. election saw voters in a number of states back gay marriage bans, and President Bush won re-election with heavy support from fellow religious conservatives.

...About 40 percent of Americans claim to be weekly church-goers, according to Corwin Smidt, director of the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College in Michigan. Some surveys have placed the figure at 25 percent.


Other stats (the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points):


I'm no regular churchgoer, but I don't recall, in my years of attendance in the Episcopal church that I received a message of intolerance or the kind of closed-minded thinking that this survey suggests. One has to believe that this is reflective of the growing influence of evangelical forms of Christianity, which sees the world in black and white terms, with the bible as a holy document to be taken literally.

This reminds me of a short clip of an interview by Carlos Watson (I think this was a promo for his show, Off Topic, which airs at 10PM tonight) with a black minister whom he asks about Mary Cheney and homosexuality. Watson asks him, "Do you think it was a choice for her?" The minister answers no. So Watson continues, "Then do you think she was born gay?" The minister answers no. So Carlos, looking curiously at him, then queries the minister for an explanation for why Mary Cheney is gay. The minister just gives Watson this blank stare, and pregnant pause, and then says that he interprets the bible as the word of God and doesn't know the answer.

It was one of those "la-la-la-la-la", fingers-in-the-ears moments of denial you see in some fundamentalists when confronted with issues they cannot easily reconcile or find a quick bible reference to explain things. He was clearly trying to find a way not to come off as the one of the hellfire and brimstone crowd, but he was struggling internally and intellectually with the subject.



The minister's response reminded me of the Bennett Marco character (Frank Sinatra) in The Manchurian Candidate, knowing that he has been programmed to say "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life," even though he's keenly aware at some level that he can't stand the man. But he cannot control the words from coming out of his mouth when someone asks him about Raymond Shaw.

I guess the minister's response is better than the knee-jerk Dobson/Falwell damnation answer (at least homosexuality is worth thinking about on this level to him), but it's dangerously lame. I mean, this man is obviously a leader in his community, his church, and he cannot figure out what to say about homosexuality in a public forum? We've got a lot of work to do here, and this survey (and the findings of the Implicit Association Test) suggests it's going to be seriously hard work.



The 'outing' campaign against homo-bigots is going to continue

Tough times require tough action, and BlogACTIVE's been responsible for the some of the most high-profile campaigns to "out" hypocritical homosexuals in power working to roll back the rights of gays and lesbians. I use "out" in quotes, because these are gay people that are socially out. They are just not politically out, choosing to lie by omission because it suits their day jobs sucking up to the likes of the Christian Coalition. These are campaign managers, fundraisers and legislators at in the corridors of power, ready to elect homophobic officials and pass restrictive hate laws, even as they enjoy homosexual activities themselves under the cover of anonymity. Mike Rogers's web site is going to continue to expose these people who are dangerous to the gay community. (Baywindows, via RawStoryQ):
Last August Michael Rogers emerged as a giant-slayer when he ended the electoral career of Virginia Beach's anti-gay Republican congressman Edward Schrock by outing him with the click of a computer mouse. Rogers has a new giant in his sights, the newly elected head of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, about whom gay rumors have circulated since last summer. Rogers has ratcheted up his efforts to out Mehlman, who oversaw President Bush's reelection campaign, in concert with President Bush's Jan. 20 inauguration. On Jan. 18, the day before Mehlman was elected to his new post, Rogers sent an e-mail to what he claims are thousands of Republican activists, describing Mehlman as an out gay man. Not that Rogers is trying to cost Mehlman his job.



"Having a gay chairman of the Republican National Committee, that to me would be a good thing for gay people, because I think when Ken Mehlman sits down with the president and sits down with leaders and [Bush advisor] Karl Rove and they start to beat up gay people, they should know that the guy they're beating up is one of the people sitting in the room right there," said Rogers.

...Rogers, a D.C.-based activist, has been on a quest to expose hypocrisy among closeted elected officials and political operatives since this past summer, when he began outing the staffers of Republican legislators who supported the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA). In July he launched blogACTIVE, where his outing campaign targeted legislators like Schrock and California Republican Rep. David Dreier, as well as RNC National Field Director Daniel Gurley, RNC Chief Financial Officer and Director of Administration Ed Banning, and Mehlman.

...While Rogers' outing campaign began making waves when he started exposing congressional staffers, he had his first major triumph with Schrock. In his two terms in Congress, Schrock had made a name for himself as an opponent of LGBT rights, co-sponsoring the FMA and speaking out against gay and lesbian people serving in the military. In mid-August, Rogers announced on his site that he had tapes of Schrock soliciting oral sex from other men on a phone sex line. By the end of the month Schrock ended his reelection bid, citing unspecified allegations against him that would distract from his campaign and the Washington Post ran a story about how the blogACTIVE accusations ended his campaign. The day Schrock withdrew from the race Rogers posted the audio from the tapes online and challenged Schrock to prove that they were false. Schrock never responded, and when his term ended he joined the staff of the congressional Government Reform Committee, where he had served as a congressman.

...He said blogACTIVE does the work the mainstream media should be doing in exposing closeted gay and lesbian people who work against LGBT equality.

"It's a recognition of the failure of the mainstream media. If the mainstream media would send a pool reporter to sit on 17th street [one of the centers of D.C.'s gay nightlife] and report in the gossip columns the way they report on heterosexual people in Georgetown, the Federal Marriage Amendment would never come up in Congress," Rogers argued.

He said beyond Mehlman he has many more potential targets in the coming months. "I'm working on a member of the president's cabinet, a nominee," he said, although he declined to be more specific.

[Disclosure and all that jazz: I am an occasional contributor to RawStoryQ, which is run by Mike Rogers.]



WP: Many Americans believe they are not prejudiced, a new test can prove them wrong

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Harvard's Mahzarin Banaji is one of three researchers who developed the Implicit Association Test. (Stella Johnson)

The Washington Post Sunday Magazine feature, See no Bias, is a lengthy, revealing piece about findings from Harvard's Implicit Association Test. It provides powerful evidence that a majority of us have prejudicides to some degree on many issues that have strong political implications, despite what we consciously believe. This is not just about feelings or perceptions on race/ethicity; the test covers age, weight, sexual orientation, and many other factors (a description of the test modules is at the end of the post). (WP):
"The Implicit Association Test measures the thumbprint of the culture on our minds," says [Harvard's Mahzarin] Banaji, one of three researchers who developed the test and its most ardent proponent. "If Europeans had been carted to Africa as slaves, blacks would have the same beliefs about whites that whites now have about blacks."

As the tests have been refined, replicated and reinterpreted over the past decade, they have challenged many popular notions -- beginning with the increasingly common assertion that discrimination is a thing of the past.

The research has also upset notions of how prejudice can best be addressed. Through much of the 20th century, activists believed that biases were merely errors of conscious thought that could be corrected through education. This hopeful idea is behind the popularity of diversity training. But Banaji suggests such training relies on the wrong idea of how people form biases.

There is likely a biological reason people so quickly make assumptions -- good or bad -- about others, Banaji says. The implicit system is likely a part of the "primitive" brain, designed to be reactive rather than reasoned. It specializes in quick generalizations, not subtle distinctions. Such mental shortcuts probably helped our ancestors survive. It was more important when they encountered a snake in the jungle to leap back swiftly than to deduce whether the snake belonged to a poisonous species. The same mental shortcuts in the urban jungles of the 21st century are what cause people to form unwelcome stereotypes about other people, Banaji says. People revert to the shortcuts simply because they require less effort. But powerful as such assumptions are, they are far from permanent, she says. The latest research, in fact, suggests these attitudes are highly malleable.

I was pointed to the article by lowkell's Daily Kos diary, You're Prejudiced. Yeah, you! (but ReThugs are far worse!). The diary summarizes the unsettling findings, which I'm posting here. Do visit the diary, since DKossacks are sharing their always interesting feedback on this complicated topic.

The larger discussion is what do we do with the information gathered from the roughly two million people that have taken this test? What we do know is that the results are disturbing.
First of all, almost ALL of us are prejudiced to one degree or the other...
  • 88 percent of white people had a pro-white or anti-black implicit bias (in other words, only 12% of whites show no anti-black bias -- yikes!!!)

  • 83 percent of heterosexuals showed implicit biases for straight people over gays and lesbians (apparently, straight people are still stuck in the dark ages when it comes to gays, despite "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," Richard Hatch, etc.)

  • More than two-thirds of non-Arab, non-Muslim volunteers displayed implicit biases against Arab Muslims (this is actually lower than I expected, post-9/11)

  • Large majorities showed biases for Christians over Jews (anti-Semitism is apparently not dead in America)

  • Large majorities showed biases for the rich over the poor (hmmmm...is this support for Thomas Frank's argument in "What's the Matter with Kansas?")

  • Large majorities showed biases for men's careers over women's careers (Rush says: "yeah, keep 'em barefoot and pregnant!")

    As if those results weren't bad enough, it gets even worse in some ways when you look at minorities' attitudes about themselves.  Turns out that a lot of them INTERNALIZE the negative biases of the majority culture:
  • 48 percent of blacks showed a pro-white or anti-black bias

  • 36 percent of Arab Muslims showed an anti-Muslim bias

  • 38 percent of gays and lesbians showed a bias for straight people over homosexuals

    Now, here are the juicy political findings:
  • Conservatives, on average, show higher levels of bias against gays, blacks and Arabs than liberals.

  • "Very conservative" people were STRONGLY biased against gays, compared to "very liberal" people showing almost NO anti-gay bias.

  • "Very conservative" people hold between "moderate" and "strong" anti-black bias.  Just plain "conservatives" score about the same, while "slightly conservative" people fall right on the "moderate" line for anti-black bias.

  • In contrast, liberals show only SLIGHT anti-black bias, with "very liberal" people showing essentially NONE.

  • "Very conservative" folks show the most anti-Arab bias, but surprisingly only between "slight" and "moderate."  Liberals show between "none" and "slight."

    Interestingly, according to the Post, "Most of the people approached for this article declined to participate. Several prominent politicians, Republican and Democrat, declined to take the tests for this article. The aide to one senator bristled, "You think he is a racist!"

  • The big question is -- do you want to take the test? Do you really want to know what how subconsciously feel about the way you relate to the world on this level, even if it disturbs you? I know it makes me incredibly uncomfortable to think that my results may not mirror what I strive every day to be as a member of society committed to tolerance. What do you think? If you'd like to take the test, here is a list of the categories, as they are broken down on the site.
    Age ('Young - Old' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to distinguish old from young faces. This test often indicates that Americans have automatic preference for young over old.

    Gender - Science. This IAT often reveals a relative link between liberal arts and females and between science and males.

    Race ('Black - White' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to distinguish faces of European and African origin. It indicates that most Americans have an automatic preference for white over black.

    Election ('2004 Presidential Candidates' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to recognize photos of presidential candidates that ran in the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

    Presidents ('Presidential Popularity' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to recognize photos of George W. Bush and one or more previous presidents. The results revealed by this test provide a new method of appraising public support for the President of the United States.

    Sexuality ('Gay - Straight' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to distinguish words and symbols representing gay and straight people. It often reveals an automatic preference for straight relative to gay people.

    Gender - Career
    . This IAT often reveals a relative link between family and females and between career and males.

    Arab-Muslim ('Arab Muslim - Other People' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to distinguish names that are likely to belong to Arab-Muslims versus people of other nationalities or religions. It frequently reveals an automatic preference for other people compared to Arab-Muslims.

    Weight ('Fat - Thin' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to distinguish faces of people who are obese and people who are thin. It often reveals an automatic preference for thin people relative to fat people.

    Religion ('Judaism - Other Religions' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to recognize religious symbols from various world religions, especially Judaism.

    Disablity ('Disabled - Abled' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to recognize symbols representing abled and disabled individuals.

    Native American ('Native - White American' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to recognize White and Native American faces in either classic or modern dress, and the names of places that are either American or Foreign in origin.

    Asian American ('Asian - European American' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to recognize White and Asian-American faces, and images of places that are either American or Foreign in origin.

    Weapons ('Weapons - Harmless Objects' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to recognize White and Black faces, and images of weapons or harmless objects.

    Skin-tone ('Light Skin - Dark Skin' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to recognize light and dark-skinned faces. It often reveals an automatic preference for light-skin relative to dark-skin.




    Religious NC wingnuts: 'The battle for the culture in the city of Charlotte has just begun'


    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Darrel Stephens is caught in the middle of a brawl with Operation Save America over a Pride parade; Nathan Tabor publicizes the activities of OSA. Here he'sgetting cozy with NC Senator, Elizabeth "Empty Wig" Dole. Is Tabor the kind of conservative Liddy thinks represents the future of the GOP?

    Nathan Tabor is at it again. I just wrote about this f*ckwad yesterday. Today he is using his web site, The Conservative Voice, to promote a fundy organization's protest of a Gay Pride Celebration to be held on Monday in Charlotte.

    The disturbing anti-gay, anti-choice outfit is called Operation Save America. I wasn't at this particular Pride celebration they are talking about, but I'm pretty certain it doesn't resemble anything described by these people. The state NC Pride event (held in Durham, which I attended) is a certainly a wonderful, fun, tame event. What is sick is that this group is calling for the police working the Pride event who wore rainbow pins "be reprimanded" for this simple act of freedom of speech. From the whacked, unhinged press release:
    The Charlotte City Council will hear from Christians on Monday, Jan. 24, 2005 expressing their outrage at events that took place in Marshall Park on May 1, 2004. The City of Charlotte granted a permit to the "Pride Festival" for the express purpose of celebrating sodomy among "gay, lesbian, transgendered, and bisexual persons." This right next door to the First Baptist Church in downtown Charlotte, and in a public park no less.

    The "celebration" included open displays of obscenity with dozens of photos of males displaying full frontal nudity and worse. It included vendor booths selling S&M merchandise, a sound stage with transvestite dancers simulating sodomy in front of children. Foul, vile, and threatening comments were made toward children by homosexuals during the comedic routines from the sound stage. Hundreds of children of all ages were in the park. Many parents were taken completely unaware by what our city fathers had allowed into the park.

    For eight months concerned Christian parents have attempted to bring this information to the District Attorney, the Charlotte Police Department, and the City Council -- only to be stonewalled at every turn. We have asked for the prosecution of these lawbreakers. We have asked the city not to reissue a permit to "Pride Festival." We have asked the police department to reprimand the officers who policed the event and turned a blind eye. Many of those on duty appeared to be homosexual themselves, wearing rainbow pins, etc. Seventeen eyewitness testimonies and irrefutable photographic evidence were provided to the Charlotte City Council in November.

    In a memo from Chief Darrel Stephens, he equated the homosexual "celebration" to what transpires in adult establishments in the city. Someone needs to remind Chief Stephens that local Statute Section 12.518 restricts adult entertainment establishments from being within 1,000' of any park, let alone being held within a park.

    ...The battle for the culture in the city of Charlotte has just begun.


    Operation Save America Director Rev. Philip L. (Flip) Benham baptizing Norma (Jane Roe) McCorvey.

    OSA has been railing about this Pride festival for a good long while on its site.
    Each year the radical homosexual agenda attempts to shove immorality down our throats through their pride festivals. The picture these militant sodomites like to paint of homosexuality in America's government schools is a far cry from the stark reality of sodomite culture. It is pornographic, obscene and disgusting and these festivals are tame compared their club scene. The depravity inherent in those choosing this perverted lifestyle of death is flaunted openly at their festivals held in public venues. Their clear intent is to destroy the Christian morality that is the glue that holds our society together.

    It's clear that this frightening, American Taliban-style organization is planning to cause a disruption in my home state and they aren't even from this area. In fact, many House Blend readers could be on the receiving end of OSA's The Streets movement to get God back in the classroom, and the state back into a woman's womb. According to its web site, the group has people reporting in on activities carried out in: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    Contact info directly from the OSA web site:
    Operation Save America
    P.O. Box 740066
    Dallas, TX 75374
    Phone: 972-240-9370
    Fax: 972-240-9789
    Please feel free to contact OSA Director Rev. Flip Benham at the above address or telephone number. [That's what it says, right there on its page.]

    For general correspondence: osa@operationsaveamerica.org
    For information about the streets and how you can help: streets@operationsaveamerica.org


    North Korea: 'We have the bomb'


    Bush: "I don't think you give timelines to dictators."

    Bush foreign policy:
    Saddam = evil dictator, no WMD, must depose.
    Kim Jong Il = madman, dictator, the bomb, give him a pass; let's talk it over.

    Guess this article blows the theory away that Kim Jong Il wasn't just blowing smoke. He's playing coy in the press about intentions, because, hey, he's got Chimpy by the balls on this one. He's probably laughing his ass off - we couldn't take any military action if we wanted to. Makes Bush's chest-puffing about Iran even more scarily demented. (Reuters):
    A top North Korean official has told U.S. legislators that the communist state possessed nuclear weapons, Radio Free Asia reported on Friday. North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said the country was a nuclear weapons state but its nuclear arsenal was defensive in nature and Pyongyang did not intend to possess it forever, Radio Free Asia quoted U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon as saying.

    Weldon, Republican of Pennsylvania, led a six-member congressional delegation to North Korea last week and met with its senior officials. North Korea aimed to denuclearize itself and it was willing to move toward that end in a transparent manner, Weldon quoted the North's Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun as saying. "The president of the country said that he foresaw the day when America and North Korea would be friends," Weldon was quoted as telling a forum in Washington last week about his meeting with the North's number-two official and president of its assembly, Kim Yong-nam. Weldon has said since his return he had not met with the North's leader Kim Jong-il, who rules the country as chairman of its defense commission.

    North Korea is believed to possess one or two nuclear weapons and possibly more than eight. It has boasted to have transformed spent plutonium from reactors into materials for nuclear weapons, but has never formally declared to possess nuclear weapons.

    Here's another golden oldie from Chimpy about Saddam, from Oct, 2002 (CNN): "The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism and practices terror against its own people. ...Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."



    Access to public documents through Freedom of Infomation Act is in jeopardy


    Jane Kirtley (l) warns that our government's fear of exposure threatens our access to public information. FBI Assistant Director Cassandra Chandler is mum on how much detail a requestor must present in a FOIA request to ensure the agency will investigate its case files thoroughly.

    Is this any surprise in Bush's America? Two items that should alarm you. First, in a specific case of attempted censorship, the Right wants to erase gay rights, anti-war and pro-choice demonstrations from a taxpayer-funded video of the history of political protests at the Lincoln Memorial. Two groups failed to receive documentation of the Park Service's plans to do so under the Freedom of Information Act. (365Gay.com):
    ...People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a lawsuit in federal court this week to force the National Park Service to release the documents.

    The groups allege that the documents demonstrate that Park Service officials were planning to change the videotape to satisfy the objections of right-wing organizations, and the lawsuit follows PEER and PFAWF’s unsuccessful attempts to obtain the documents under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

    In November 2003, under pressure from right-wing organizations, the Park Service announced that it would alter an eight-minute video containing photos and footage of demonstrations and other historic events that have taken place at the Lincoln Memorial. The organizations reportedly complained that brief seconds of footage showing gay rights, pro-choice and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations implied that “Lincoln would have supported homosexual and abortion ‘rights’ as well as feminism.” In response, the Park Service is reported to have promised to develop a “more balanced” version of the videotape that has been playing at the Lincoln Memorial since 1995.

    ...“We are simply trying to unearth the history of an attempt by the Bush Administration to rewrite history,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization represents Park Service employees. “Our tax dollars are being spent so that images of feminists, war protestors and gays can no longer be glimpsed at what is supposed to be a shrine of democracy.”



    Another related and unsettling thing to know is that our right to information under FOIA is under legal attack. The FBI wants to limit the extent of searches performed when a FOIA request is made. Your government doesn't want you to have access to information that is supposed to be in the public domain. The Justice Department of Ashcroft (and probably soon, Gonzales) is not working on behalf of the people's interest when it comes to Bush's beloved word at the Inauguration, F-R-E-E-D-O-M. (AP):
    In court, the FBI is defending a recent automated search that missed some documents released years earlier in a separate FOIA case.

    Representing the FBI, the Justice Department asked a federal judge this month to dismiss the lawsuit and said its request should not be undermined "by an unsuccessful search for a document as long as the search was adequate." Justice Department guidelines say the law requires a search "reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents."

    Legal and academic critics say the search in this case didn't meet that standard. They said they suspect the transfer of records from paper to electronic files has become an excuse for doing cursory searches that the government knows won't retrieve all relevant documents.

    "We all thought that digitization of government documents and electronic FOIA would mean greater public access, but time and again we've seen government agencies use it as an excuse for obfuscation," said Jane Kirtley, a University of Minnesota journalism professor who has waged many FOIA battles. "They say, `We don't have the software set up to find what you're looking for.'"

    The lawsuit in question was filed by a lawyer in Salt Lake City, Jesse Trentadue, who is pursuing a theory his brother Kenneth was murdered in a federal prison isolation cell in Oklahoma City on Aug. 21, 1995. Kenneth's bloody and bruised corpse raised questions of foul play among many officials, but local and federal investigations ruled his death a suicide.

    Last summer, Trentadue requested:

    _A Jan. 4, 1996, message from FBI Director Louis Freeh's office to the Oklahoma City and Omaha, Neb., offices that discussed the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building bombers (the FBI's OKBOMB case) and a Midwest gang of bank robbers (the FBI's BOMBROB case). He enclosed a newspaper story with excerpts from the message.

    _The FBI's record of an interview that Trentadue says he gave an agent and two Justice Department officials on Aug. 12, 1996, which discussed the lawyer's dead brother and the bank robbery gang, including one member who resembled Kenneth.

    _All documents about any connection between the Southern Poverty Law Center and eight named individuals from the OKBOMB and BOMBROB investigations or a white supremacist compound in Elohim City, Okla.

    The FBI told Trentadue Nov. 18 it found no documents matching his requests.

    Trentadue responded Nov. 30 by filing with the court a copy of the January 1996 message, which he had learned in the meantime had been released under FOIA in 1997. Trentadue also submitted a copy of an August 1996 teletype from Freeh's office that said two of the bank robbers were present when Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh called the Elohim City compound. That too was released years earlier under FOIA.

    Trentadue asked the court to order another FBI search.

    But this month, the Justice Department told the court that, despite not discovering those documents, "The FOIA search in this case was reasonable." David M. Hardy, chief of the FBI's record and information dissemination section, told the court the FBI had searched the general indices to its central records system and two shared computer drives in the Oklahoma City office.

    Hardy acknowledged, however, that the indices are not complete. "The FBI does not index every name in its files," Hardy told the court. Other than the subject, suspects and victims, names in FBI files are indexed at the discretion of the investigating agent and supervisors if they are "considered pertinent, relevant or essential for future retrieval." It's not clear whether any other federal agency has an index like the FBI's.

    Given the details Trentadue provided, Rebecca Daugherty, director of the FOI Service Center at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the government's response "doesn't sound reasonable."

    The FBI should not "ignore the map given by the requester," Daugherty said. "If a requester can accurately describe a case so the agency can easily find the file, then it's reasonable to search that case file."

    Citing the litigation, FBI Assistant Director Cassandra Chandler declined to say how much detail requesters must supply to extend a search beyond FBI indices to case files.

    Here is a link to a How-To reference on using the FOIA.


    Religious wingnuts, Freepers react to Mehlman naming pro-choice, gay-friendly co-chair of RNC

    Friday, January 21, 2005


    Jo Ann Davidson's pick by Mehlman has raised the Right's hackles. Do you think an outing campaign on him is not far behind?

    I did a little surfing over to a Christian news site I hadn't visited before, Crosswalk, to see the reaction to the news about "family man" Mehlman naming Jo Ann Davidson as RNC co-chair. I knew there would be a predictable eruption. More from the Freepers in a bit...Some background on Crosswalk, so you can put their reaction in context.
    "We are a for-profit religious corporation dedicated to building up the Church, which is the Body of Christ. ...Our aim is to offer the freshest and most compelling biblically-based content to Christians who take seriously their relationship with Christ..Within this framework, we work hard to provide timely, relevant, life-enhancing material from qualified, respected Christian sources, including major ministries such as Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, The Bible Answerman and Insight For Living."
    With that information in mind, here's Crosswalk's take on Mehlman's pick:
    The selection of the former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives to co-chair the Republican National Committee has outraged a pro-family group, which declares Jo Ann Davidson to be pro-abortion and pro-homosexual rights.

    Davidson, who served as Ohio Valley regional chairman for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign was unanimously elected Wednesday by Republican National Committee members. She will serve as the number two RNC official to Ken Mehlman who helped engineer President Bush's re-election, was then tabbed by the president to head the committee and also was unanimously elected Wednesday.

    But while Davidson may have played an important role for the Bush-Cheney campaign in perhaps the most pivotal state in the Nov. 2 presidential election, it is her record on abortion and homosexual rights that has riled the Pro-Family Network of Ohio.

    "Her positions are completely opposed to the rank and file of the Republican Party," said Greg Quinlan, executive director of the Pro-Family Network.

    [self-loathing homo alert...(Please go that above link for Quinlan...he must be self-flagellating each and every night)]



    Quinlan, a self-described former homosexual activist, said Davidson's positions would certainly influence the Republican Party's platform and negatively impact President Bush's goal of amending the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as an act between one man and one woman.

    "Davidson is a skillful politician," Quinlan said, "and she will have influence everywhere she goes. She's extremely good at what she does."

    He added that while there are Republicans who are pro-abortion and support homosexual marriage, "they are definitely the minority." Quinlan said it is more important "that our team -- the Republican Party team -- that we stand for the values that actually caused President Bush to win."

    In his comments to the committee Wednesday morning after being elected chairman, Mehlman reinforced the pro-life stance of the Republican Party. He said the GOP should "promote a culture of life, where the weakest and most vulnerable are protected, where every child is welcomed in life and protected by law."

    [NUCLEAR self-loathing homo alert...]

    Mehlman also alluded to the president's efforts to define marriage, saying that Republicans should "promote marriage and be sure that government stands on the side of strong families."

    And now it's time for...

    Actual Freeper Quotes™
    "i got a bad feeling about this. first spectre, now davidson -- nothing like flipping off your most energetic supporters to sabotage the party's prospect for the futre."

    "The stupid party strikes again."

    "I know. We Republicans can't adopt Republicans-In-Name-Only (RINOs) into our party."

    "Abortion and homosexuality are not "lifestyles" that we need to reach out to. Rather, we should be seen to recoil from them. It's about having moral values, and being unashamed of those values."

    "The time for the the conservative core to jump to a third party is NOW. In four years it will be too late, when for the health of the country all have to put on a happy face and pull the lever for the whichever anti-Hillary candidate the RNC dredges up. The RNC still thinks we have nowhere else to go and have arrogently played that card for decades- before and after Reagan. It's time to put some pressure on NOW by jumping to the Constitution Party or elsewhere, and letting it be known the RNC will have to change its direction to win us back."

    "If we wanted homosexuality and baby killing, we'd vote for Democrats."

    "I've had enough of all this Big Tent garbage. The Right needs to rid itself of the Kumbaya wing."

    "Majorities are tenuous things, easily frittered away by stupidity. I've never voted 3rd party in my life, but I'm telling you right now, if the GOP goes soft on Pro-Life and continue to put pro-baby killing individuals into leadership positions, I'll vote 3rd party and not even think twice about it. I vote principle over party and Pro-Life is one principle I won't sacrifice. Sorry."



    Same-sex partners of Montana university system employees to get insurance coverage

    I wonder what our friend, NC homophobe Nathan Tabor thinks of this story? (Missoulian.com):
    The Montana Supreme Court ruled in December that the university system's current health insurance policy, which allows unmarried heterosexual couples to receive benefits, violates the equal protection clause of the state constitution since it doesn't afford gays and lesbians the same benefits.

    Cathy Swift, attorney for the office of the commissioner of higher education, will develop health insurance policy options for the regents to consider at their March meeting.

    Commissioner of Higher Education Sheila Stearns said it's more likely that the university system will open its policy to include gays and lesbians, rather than restrict it to heterosexuals who are legally married. A constitutional ban on gay marriage in Montana, as well as a state "Defense of Marriage Act," prevent gays and lesbians from marrying here.

    The current university policy, which allows people to sign an affidavit of common-law marriage for the purpose of attaining health insurance benefits, has been suspended until the problem is solved.

    ...The university system has not removed anyone from the health plan since the Supreme Court ruled, and officials said they hope to have the issue resolved by April 1, when open enrollment in the health plan begins. Swift said she is still gathering data from the campuses as she prepares her list of options.

    Regent Lynn Hamilton of Havre said expanding the policy to include gays and lesbians could boost the university system's ability to recruit and retain employees. She said she's been surprised to discover that many large corporations do offer partner benefits to their employees. Mercer, however, is calling the debate an "insurance question." He said it could make sense to allow more people into the self-funded health insurance pool, since a larger pool tends to be more stable.

    Oooh. I love the slam dunk of that last line. How about that Mr. Tabor?


    SpongeBob...Mehlman

    What a hoot. Ripped from Oliver Willis (contributed by an anonymous reader). Click to enlarge.



    JP Morgan admits US slavery links



    This is one of those stories that makes you sick to your stomach, but it raises opportunities for discussion on race, reparations and society's self-image. (BBC News):
    Thousands of slaves were accepted as collateral for loans by two banks that later became part of JP Morgan Chase. The admission is part of an apology sent to JP Morgan staff after the bank researched its links to slavery in order to meet legislation in Chicago.

    Citizens Bank and Canal Bank are the two lenders that were identified. They are now closed, but were linked to Bank One, which JP Morgan bought last year. About 13,000 slaves were used as loan collateral between 1831 and 1865.


    William Harrison Jr., chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase. James Dimon, chief operating officer.

    ...Because of defaults by plantation owners, Citizens and Canal ended up owning about 1,250 slaves. "We all know slavery existed in our country, but it is quite different to see how our history and the institution of slavery were intertwined," JP Morgan chief executive William Harrison and chief operating officer James Dimon said in the letter. "Slavery was tragically ingrained in American society, but that is no excuse."

    "We apologise to the African-American community, particularly those who are descendants of slaves, and to the rest of the American public for the role that Citizens Bank and Canal Bank played."

    JP Morgan said that it was setting up a $5m scholarship programme for students living in Louisiana, the state where the events took place.

    Important dates
    1831 Canal Bank formed
    1833 Citizens Bank formed
    1924 Citizens and Canal join to form Canal Commercial Trust & Savings Bank (CCTSB)
    1931 Chase Bank takes control of Canal
    1933 CCTSB fails during Great Depression and goes into liquidation
    1933 National Bank of Commerce in New Orleans (NBCNO) formed with some Canal Bank deposits and loans
    1971 NBCNO becomes First National Bank of Commerce
    1998 First National Bank of Commerce merged into Bank One Louisiana
    2004 Bank One merged with JP Morgan Chase & Co.

    I personally don't favor reparations. I don't see how there is any possible way for this country to undo the injustice done to blacks as a result of slavery by writing a check. The wealth of this nation was built on the backs of slave labor, but to just right a check and call things square is not going to address the impact race and slavery has had over the generations in terms of identity, class and prejudice. Besides, how do you identify the aggrieved parties? To resolve the issue there would need to be a true definition of what is "race" for someone to qualify. We've been trying to get away from that artificial social construct both actively (legislation) and passively (intermarriage) over the last century with some measure of success.

    The backlash from both the fight to determine who "qualifies" for any attempt to rectify the situation only increases resentment from other groups that wouldn't benefit from the reparation. Affirmative action as we know it is itself controversial and sometimes bullheaded because the construct of race is artificial and nonsensical. Should a middle class black kid from a family that has been middle class for generations receive a scholarship ahead of a poor white kid from the Kentucky mountains whose family has always been dirt poor? We can easily identify poverty, no matter what the socioeconomic history behind its existence. That is what needs to be addressed. Those are the people, no matter their color, that society has an obligation to help out in constructive, empowering ways.

    But back to the construct of race. I still have a problem with this country's attempt to pigeon-hole everyone into a neat racial box. Katie, my wife, is half-Lebanese, but she is technically "white" as far as government forms are concerned. All Middle Eastern people are considered Caucasian for statistics sake, yet for instance, Hispanics (another artificial construct) have a distinct category. I don't see how someone from Lebanon has any ethnic, cultural or melanin-based resemblance to someone from a Scandinavian nation? I doubt Freepers or the Klan would consider Arabs to be white. In fact, Katie's father was on the receiving end of discrimination in the South as a young man because, in fact, he is darker than I am, and well, the dumbass rednecks don't really give a sh*t whether you check white in a box if they can see you're not "white" to them. This is about politics and numbers and attempts to divide and conquer by creating this implied racial hierarchy, which of course, the masses buy into. The fact that the expliding population of biracial and multiracial people are putting pressure on this inflexible model is a good thing to squirm about -- both for all of us as individuals and for our nation as a whole.

    Yesterday Bush said -- "Our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time." That would be a great goal, though I don't believe that he or his minions even know how to begin to abandon something they internally hold sacred because their power is ensured by keeping the status quo. But hey, it's only my opinion.


    Canadian religious wingnuts rise up against gay marriage as vote nears


    Left: Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. Right: Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, archbishop of Toronto. The cardinal is using the talking points right out of the Falwell handbook.

    The Canadian "Right" is trying the same tactic as the American Taliban, going after religious minorities for support, and attacking judges. The difference here is that legislative leaders opposed to redefining marriage are not against recognition of equivalent rights for same-sex couples. That's obviously a position light years ahead of most politicians in the U.S., and most of the country's provinces and territories have already adopted gay marriage without incident. (AFP):
    Prime Minister Paul Martin is staring down a backlash over his plans to legalise gay marriage, as Roman Catholics, Sikhs and his domestic political foes mobilise to thwart him. The Roman Catholic archbishop of Toronto, who represents more than a million believers here, warned Martin, himself a Catholic, that his plan would trigger serious, and unpredictable shocks to society.

    "The conjugal partnership of a man and woman is the beginning and basis of human society," Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic wrote in an open letter to Martin Wednesday. "Tampering with marriage and family poses significant social risks." The Cardinal, who heads the diocese of Toronto which boasts 1.4 million adherents, argued that the voice of the people expressed through parliament, and not judges should decide such a fundamental issue.

    The Supreme Court last year gave the government the constitutional go-ahead to change the definition of marriage, and seven of the country's provinces and territories have authorized such unions. Canada would follow the Netherlands and Belgium in authorizing same-sex marriage. Spain is moving in a similar direction.

    But the Cardinal argued Wednesday that "judges are not elected, and are ultimately not accountable for their decisions," using a secular argument to advance his faith-based position. "Fundamental social change should only occur with the consent of the people through their democratic institutions," he wrote. The government had taken the unusual step of asking for a Supreme Court ruling on draft legislation last year.

    The bill is expected to be introduced into parliament early this year, where it is expected to pass, despite Martin's perilous position atop a minority government. Martin has said there will not be a free vote, meaning that cabinet ministers are obliged to support his bill. Some members of the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) and the bulk of the separatist Bloc Quebecois are also expected to back same-sex marriage.

    Government plans would see the definition of marriage changed to the "lawful union of two persons," rather than the "lawful union of one man and one woman."

    It is not only Roman Catholics that are mobilizing in the gay marriage debate -- opposition came this week from an unusual quarter, a top Sikh spiritual leader, who embarrassed Martin during a tour of India. Sikh spiritual leader Joginder Singh Vedanti directed his followers around the world to reject gay marriage -- saying it was the product of a "sick mind."

    The same television station reported on Wednesday that the opposition Conservative Party was targeting multicultural publications and religious newspapers with its campaign against legalising gay marriage.

    Party leader Stephen Harper has said he will vote against Martin's bill, arguing that the traditional definition of marriage should stand, though he has also pledged to safeguard the rights of same sex couples.


    No eggs this time, but Cheney got snowballed

    I was looking forward to pictures of egged limos, but so far all I could find was this...


    A snowball melts on the side of a limousine as Vice President Richard Cheney waves during the inaugural parade in Washington, January 20, 2005. Flag-draped coffins and anti-war chants competed with pomp and circumstance on Thursday at the inauguration of President George W. Bush along the snow-dusted, barricaded streets of central Washington. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer


    Should I stay or should I go -- the Canada discussion

    Thursday, January 20, 2005

    In my post last night on Canada's military agreeing to marry same-sex partners, I mentioned that The Great White North is so much more civilized than the U.S. The politics here are really starting to wear on me; our country is turning into a theocracy led by our own American Taliban. My question to those of you willing to speak up, was should we stay and fight? Kate and I need some convincing, as we felt the warmth of total acceptance by all of the folks we came in contact with in lovely Vancouver. You just wanted to close your eyes and wish this country would wake up from this nightmare of political intolerance. What would we do if NC passed a super-DOMA or FMA passed. We'd have to consider Canada.

    I got a great response from a reader; he said I could post his letter. Read and comment, if you wish.
    Hi, Pam.

    Recent blog reader here, also Canadian-gay-married in Vancouver (belated congratulations to you both), currently living across Puget Sound from Seattle.

    On the the should-I-stay-or-should-I-go discussion, my husband and I have an appointment with an attorney at Embarkation Law [www.embarkationlaw.com ] Friday afternoon to get their opinion on whether we'd qualify for residency and/or citizenship. Embarkation held a series of three (mobbed) emigration workshops the first weekend of December in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Canada uses a points system, one category of which is age, and at 52 and 54, we're about to lose the points from that category, but I think we'll qualify in others. My last perusal of the Advocate showed ads from four immigration law firms in Toronto (closer to you, but alas, not Vancouver).

    I'll be glad to give you an update next week.

    We're getting some attitude from leftie friends implying we're chickening out by researching heading north. I don't know about you, but after the national and state elections (P. and I were both speakers for Oregon's No on 36), after everything that was in news and opinion media, after all the information about Iraq and the economy and the shameful treatment of everyone in the LGBT community and their friends, and Bush STILL won another four years, I'm exhausted. I can't keep up that level of whatever for another four years. I figure it will take 25 years to repeal state constitutional amendments. We'll be 77 and 79 then. Why should I spend over a quarter of my life asking supposedly religious straight white men for the same rights they have now when I can drive three hours north and have them by lunchtime Friday?

    Story time: I had a Friday and Saturday alone in Vancouver to get the license, get a commissioner, find and secure a location, and find and secure a restaurant for dinner afterwards, knowing nothing about Vancouver. Sound familiar? I'd just gotten the license and I was thrilled, because it had never occurred to me that I would get married. I met a marriage commissioner in the elevator and asked if it would be a good idea to tell potential locations and restaurants that this would be a same-sex wedding, since the last thing I wanted on my wedding day was attitude. Her response? "Oh, I'm so sorry. All that tells me is that you're not from here. It won't even come up. If it makes you feel better, of course, tell them, but really, it won't make any difference at all."

    I of course thought she was well-meaning but crazy. Guess what? She was right. I went to ten places; all ten immediately congratulated me* and said they'd love to host the dinner. None cared that there were two grooms. How okay do you think that would be in your town? I'd be laughed out of restaurants in my little 8,000-person town; it would vary depending on what part of Seattle I was in. But I would not get spontaneous across-the-board congratulations from total strangers.

    [* Two weeks later, en route to the wedding, the Canadian Customs guy said congratulations three times. I won't even ask the obvious comparison question.]

    Enough for now. Consider it carefully, gather information (we're also researching New Zealand), then decide. But don't beat yourself up for doing what you (plural) think is best for you (plural).

    Till next week...

    -G.


    The Tar Heel State can claim a homo-bigot of the week - Nathan Tabor


    Pretty boy Nathan, and the source of his factoids about homosexuality, discredited "scientist" Paul Cameron.

    [Welcome Buzzflash readers...enjoy!]

    Nathan Tabor has a problem. He has an obsession with homos. He thinks a lot about them in his essay "Homosexuals should pay more insurance," spewing forth a diatribe of nonsensical lies and hysterically insecure commentary. The Kernersville, NC-based Tabor considers himself a "conservative political activist" and is a contributing editor at The Conservative Voice. He also worked with Focus on the Family and BC04 on GOTV campaigns, and made a bid of his own for the Fifth Congressional District here in NC. He thankfully missed the runoff by 8 points. That's way too close, as you will see when you read this crap below.


    Nathan with newly minted NC Senator Richard Burr; Nathan getting cozy with our other Senator, Elizabeth "Empty Wig" Dole.

    Nathan is a two-for-one bigot, because while he may be a Tar Heel, he hails from Huntsville, Alabama. That's my wifey Katie's birth state; I give her no end of grief about possible gubernatorial candidate Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore and various wingnut crackpots such as your friendly bigoted sheriff Mac Holcomb. I will humiliate the state again by tying it to yet another homophobe. More from Nathan's article:
    Some would say it is a known fact that most homosexuals, and especially gay men, are promiscuous. Their rhetoric is carefully crafted to give the impression they are in "committed, caring relationships" while research suggests that the vast majority of gays are neither celibate nor monogamous. (All heterosexuals are not celibate or monogamous either.) Some may say, so what? Well, the corollary to this homosexual health hypothesis is another proven fact: most sexually active homosexuals simply don't live a very long time. The heartier they party, it seems, the shorter the time that party lasts.

    According to a article entitled "The Longevity of Homosexuals" in the Omega Journal of Death and Dying, the median age of death from AIDS for homosexual men is 37, and the median age of death from other causes is 42. This does not compare favorably to the ever-increasing average lifespan of the rest of the heterosexual American population.
    Nathan gets extra bonus points above for referencing the discredited "scientist" Paul Cameron's "research" that gay men die at 42. Therefore, he reasons, gays should be charged more for insurance because of the higher incidence of AIDS in gay men.
    ...The conclusion is simple. Homosexual activists say they want equal rights and treatment. Fine. Let's use their own arguments against them here. Let's start by having them pay their fair share of the healthcare costs that accompany their lifestyle.

    Long-term medical treatment for HIV and AIDS is usually protracted and tremendously expensive. Maybe that's why gay activists are pushing so hard for spousal benefits for domestic partners of homosexuals - so somebody else, like the government or an employer, will pick up the tab. "Risky" behavior is called risky for a reason. It means that by doing it, you put your life in danger. It's really a lot like gambling for high stakes. The more you play, the more you stand to lose. For indulging in this risky behavior, you rightfully SHOULD pay more for both life and health insurance.


    Look! Nathan's smiling with Mr. Viagra himself; And there's a nice one with pious John "Let the Eagle Soar" AssCroft.

    This isn't a religious or even a moral values argument. This is strictly a common sense fiscal argument. You play risky, you pay more. That's only fair. In fact, if these types of policies aren't implemented, then health-conscious people are the ones being discriminated against. You can't blame the insurance companies for charging more. After all, their likelihood of having to pay out large sums of money on behalf of their gay clients is significantly greater.

    Drinking and smoking, for example, are all directly related to dozens of diseases and medical conditions. So insurance companies habitually charge higher premiums. But non-smokers, non-drinkers and those who exercise get better rates than those who don't practice such healthy lifestyle choices.

    What about skydivers, hang gliders, and racecar drivers - do they pay the same life insurance premiums as those who watch birds or collect stamps? Not hardly.

    [Last time I looked there was a skyrocketing rise in the the transmission of AIDS to black, heterosexual women who did nothing more than sleep with their seemingly monogamous partners. Are they engaging in risky behavior?]

    The same logic should be applied to practicing homosexuals. When actuaries and insurance underwriters finally figure out this formula, we may see some instantaneous lifestyle changes. After all, their risky homosexual behavior is a lifestyle choice, not a destiny. If the proven threat to their health won't do the trick, maybe the cost to their pocketbooks will.

    This man is a fool, and thank god he didn't make the runoff when he ran for the Fifth Congressional District seat here in NC. No Tar Heel needs a jackass like Nathan representing them. Take a look at the endorsements he received:


    And no political future is sealed without a kiss up to Rummy! Thanks, Nathan!

    Contact pretty boy at Nathan@nathantabor.com.

    UPDATE: I have a DKos diary up on this as well.




    Black wingnuts at Project 21: pimping for The Man

    [Welcome Buzzflash readers...comments are welcome!]

    What the hell is this? I am sitting here reading yet another hysterical article from the wacky right-wing AgapePress about black conservatives pushing for Thomas as Chief Justice of SCOTUS. Where do they find these people?
    David Almasi is director of Project 21, the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives. Project 21 is calling for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to apologize for telling NBC's Meet the Press that Thomas is "an embarrassment to the Supreme Court." Almasi takes issue with Reid's assessment of Thomas's credentials.

    "Scholars of all stripes have come out saying that he has done some good things on the court, so I don't think that his scholarship can be questioned anymore," Almasi says. "However, Harry Reid has found reasons to do so."

    OK, it's plain old wingnuttery that you expect from the Right, but what is this mysterious "Project 21," I wondered. I surfed over to the site and the first unsettling image is this:


    ...Orrin Hatch in a loving embrace with P21 member Mychal Massie.

    The "Project 21" spokesman says Thomas should be considered a top candidate to become the next chief justice of the nation's highest court. "The best person for the job should be the one who gets it," he says. "But Clarence Thomas has certainly proved himself to one of the leading justices on the court right now -- and he should certainly be one of the final people looked at, if and when that situation comes about."

    As you read above, this group of colored wingnuts is headed by the curiously pale David Almasi...



    Can these GOP-sellout blacks even run their own f*ckwad organization? Do they enjoy being a tool of the Right? I was looking to see if our friend Armstrong Williams was counted among P21's ranks, but alas, I found nothing on him.

    Project 21 is not a free-standing organization; it is a "department" of the conservative think tank, The National Center for Public Policy Research (BTW, I had to trek over to NCPPR to get that Almasi photo, since there's not one to find at P21). The sole purpose of Project 21 is to provide token talking head media whores to represent the right wing when they need a splash of color. They will always be able find someone to Tom for the Right. Here's what is on the web site:
    Project 21 is an initiative of The National Center for Public Policy Research to promote the views of African-Americans whose entrepreneurial spirit, dedication to family and commitment to individual responsibility has not traditionally been echoed by the nation's civil rights establishment.

    Project 21 participants have been interviewed by hundreds of media outlets, including the O'Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes, the CNN Morning News, Black Entertainment Television's Lead Story, America's Black Forum, the McLaughlin Group, C-SPAN's Morning Journal and the Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan, Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Larry King shows, as well as in newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Washington Times and many others.

    Project 21 participants live all over the U.S. and have a variety of careers. What they have in common is a desire to make America a better place for African-Americans, and all Americans, to live and work. Project 21 members do this in a variety of ways in their own communities, and, through Project 21, by writing opinion editorials for newspapers, participating in public policy discussions on radio and television, by participating in policy panels, by giving speeches before student, business and community groups, and by advising policymakers at the national, state and local levels.

    These guys (women, no surprise, are a rarity in this "club") are something to behold. To convince you further of their conservative (and most-heterosexual) cred, we have Project 21 members posing with our favorite Senator, Rick "Man-on-Dog" Santorum, and protesting on behalf of conservative principles...



    ...and P21's Kevin Martin's making sure the Right point of view is shared with good colored folks watching H&C and Hardball...



    And you must check out the New Visions page of the P21 site, which contains scintillating articles such as:

    "Anti-SUV Activists Versus the American Family"
    "One Righteous Dis: Bush Right to Turn Down NAACP"
    "Thanking Bush for His Leadership "
    "Blacks Need Green to Compete with Whites in NASCAR"

    Need I say more...well, yes. My father, I'm sorry to admit, is a black Repug and he'd fit in just fine with this sorry crowd - he voted for Jesse Helms back in the day, for crying out loud (don't ask me to explain that). While I have no problem with blacks taking a hard look at whether the Democrats are getting the job done, becoming a tool for the Right doesn't get you anything but grief, right Armstrong? It's embarrassing to see this feeble minstrel show.

    UPDATE: I have a Daily Kos Recommended Diary up on this.


    Bush Vows to End 'Tyranny in Our World'


    why...Why...WHY is this jackass president? Please stop the madness.

    This is the man that is going to end tyranny? Does he think we are all smoking crack? Is he smoking crack? What on earth does he mean? Here are unbelievable, bullsh*t-laden quotes from his inaugural address. The speech took 22 drafts and he mentioned "freedom" (a concept he has serious trouble understanding) 27 times. (AP):
    "There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom."

    "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world...We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: the moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right...Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way," he said.


    U.S. Army soldiers watch as Iraqi men carry the coffin of a friend killed in a suicide car bomb attack near the Australian embassy in Baghdad . REUTERS/Ali Jasim

    "We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance, preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society," Bush said. "By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear and make our society more prosperous and just and equal."

    "All the allies of the United States can know: We honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel and we depend on your help," said Bush. "Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies."

    "Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth," he said. "And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time."

    Feel free to fisk. I have to vomit now.


    Naked man found roaming elementary school


    A face only a mother could love.

    So much for security in the schools in Albuquerque. There isn't too much you can spin with a story like this, but the hoot is the quote at the from a relative of this whack job. (KOBTV.com): Mark Banashefsky was arrested early Tuesday morning after breaking in to Eubank Elementary School through a window. APS police report it isn’t the first time they’ve been involved with the 50 year old Banashefsky. “The same officer, the same offender, different school,” recalls APS Police Chief Gil Lovato. “The officer responded to a silent alarm at one of our schools, found the same offender, disrobed, doing the same thing five years ago.”

    Old police reports show that Banashefsky had been arrested naked in a girls’ restroom at Hayes Middle School five years ago. Court records show Banashefsky has a history of criminal trespassing and resisting officers. When detained at Eubank Elementary on Tuesday, Banshefsky had a box cutter, Swiss army knives and traces of both methamphetamine and marijuana. "It looked like he had marijuana and other drugs on him,” said Chief Lovato. “There was no question: He was on drugs himself.

    A relative of Banashefsky characterized Banashefsky as a “solid person” who could probably use some psychiatric help.


    Disney World Accused Of Segregating Transsexual Intern

    This is pathetic, and completely discriminatory...and legal. Disney, as one would expect, isn't commenting on this story. (365Gay.com):
    A transsexual student from the University of Maine says she is being segregated in a student intern program at Orlando's Disney World. The woman, who wants to be identified only by her first name, Claire, was accepted last fall to the Walt Disney World College Program for a seven-month internship.

    The 23 year old tells the Bangor Maine News that when she told Disney officials she is transsexual they said they offer only single-sex housing and gave her two options: Cut her hair and go back to living as a male, or live alone in a two-person apartment and pay double the amount of rent.

    "A lot of people don't want to understand," Claire said Monday. "It's so difficult to express [being a transgendered person] to people that haven't dealt with it in some fashion."

    Claire told the paper that the internship is important to her, and rather than fight the directive she opted to live alone and pay double rent.

    It is a decision that has left her nearly destitute. As an intern, Claire will make $6.35 an hour, working 30 to 35 hours a week at a job to which she has yet to be assigned. That adds up to about $200 a week, and rent alone will eat up at least $160, she explained.

    Her friend, Matthew Small who is the liaison to the UM Deans of Students office for UM's LGBT students, is coming to her rescue. "Essentially, option one wasn't an option, and option two is blatant discrimination," Small told the paper. Officials at the University of Maine said they are considering taking action against Disney's recruitment on campus.

    Note: there is no federal bill on the horizon to protect the transgendered/transsexual against discrimination. The failed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) included sexual orientation but not gender expression. Some organizations, including PFLAG want to include trans-inclusive language in ENDA, but this is deemed political suicide for any chance at future passage.


    Is RAND consulting the Bush admin on how to avoid the draft?



    Kos hears rumblings that the RAND corporation has been contracted by the Bush admin to find ways to replenish the depleted boots on the ground while avoiding an official draft. The answer, as you might have guessed, is to farm out the non-combat services to contractors (wonder who will be first to belly up to the taxpayer buffet?) and deploy the unprepared desk jockeys out into the field. He also thought aloud about how this would affect women in combat, as they make up a good deal of the support position staff that would be pushed out into the hot zones if the speculated scenario becomes reality.



    The Pentagon has already been floating the idea of creating "units of action", which are mixed-sex support units that train and deploy with their all-male combat units. This would place women in harm's way of course, since there is no front line against an insurgency. The RPGs and bombs are going off all over Iraq. (WTimes):
    Therein lies the potential problem. Pentagon policy not only bans women from direct combat brigades, such as infantry or armor, it also says they cannot join support units that collocate with those units.

    ...An Army spokeswoman said, "It is my understanding that the November 29 briefing was predecisional. There are a number of Army policies under review." An earlier Army briefing in May, labeled "draft close hold," stated that one option putting FSCs outside a combat brigade in an organizational chart "could be perceived as subterfuge to avoid reporting requirements."

    Congress requires that any change in women-in-combat rules first be presented to lawmakers. The May briefing portrayed the Army as in a bind. If it collocates FSCs with combat teams and keeps them men-only, then it "creates potential long-term challenge to Army; pool of male recruits too small to sustain force," the Army documents stated.

    Bush has repeatedly said "no women in combat," as recently as last week. The right wing has been on the Pentagon's case about the gradual, unofficial slide of women into the combat zone, since they too know that the current definition of what the government considers combat is a slippery one. Of course, the wingnut women's take is that women don't belong there at all. Any change is opposed by Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness.
    Combat commanders will have to cope with significant personnel losses, distractions, and social turmoil that will be more intense in the heat of war. Predictable problems include far higher rates of medical leave and evacuations, primarily due to pregnancy, which Army officials refuse to reveal or discuss. Making the mix even more volatile will be sexual attractions, personal misconduct, and accusations of same.

    ...Politically correct group-thinkers and Clinton-promoted generals in the Pentagon apparently have forgotten certain realities affirmed by overwhelming evidence: In direct ground combat, women do not have an "equal opportunity" to survive, or to help fellow soldiers survive. No one's injured son should have to die on the streets of a future Fallujah because the only soldier near enough to carry him to safety was a five-foot-two 110-pound woman.

    The concerned soldier who contacted me recognized that the Army is about to conduct an unannounced, extremely dangerous live-fire social experiment under wartime conditions. With deployments imminent, what can be done? President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld must intervene to enforce the notification law and encourage the recruitment of young men [How about all those frat boys that voted for Bush -- they should be forming lines at the recruiting office.]. In long-overdue congressional hearings, members should require Pentagon officials to document alleged shortages of males, and explain why female soldiers should have to pay the price for the Army's bureaucratic errors.


    Ex-GI with sick son wins exemption from backdoor draft

    This is about the only exemption that has been successful so far, in the news reports I've scanned. They didn't let a single mom without access to child care was recalled. A 70-year-old surgeon was sent to Afghanistan; there are many more cases of the military's desperation that have made it clear you can't get a pass. This, sadly is what it takes to get out of serving in Bush's folly. (AP):
    A former soldier who completed his enlistment five years ago and now has a seriously ill 16-month-old son has won an exemption from being recalled to active duty for service in Iraq.

    Terry Fitzpatrick, 26, of Milton said an Army representative called Tuesday and told him and his wife, Susan, that his Individual Ready Reserve call-up had been canceled. "I'm really relieved," Fitzpatrick said. "I don't know if it was the publicity or what."

    A spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush said the Army Reserve also informed Bush's military adviser, Glenn Sutphin, of the decision. Sutphin had contacted Army officials at Bush's request after seeing news reports about Fitzpatrick's situation. The Fitzpatricks' son, Will, suffers from multiple birth defects, including a malformed heart and gap between his esophagus and stomach. He cannot yet walk, lags intellectually and needs special feedings and daily medication.

    The Fitzpatricks have adjusted their work schedules to care for Will. Susan Fitzpatrick had said she would have had to quit her job as a restaurant manager to care for Will if her husband had gone back into the Army. Terry, a carpenter, completed a three-year enlistment as an Army mechanic five years ago. He was ordered to report back for duty Nov. 18 but obtained a delay until Jan. 30 while his appeal was being considered.

    He was among more than 4,400 members of the Individual Ready Reserve called back to duty even though they have completed their enlistments and are not required to attend reserve drills and meetings. All soldiers have an eight-year commitment including active duty and the ready reserve.

    Susan Fitzpatrick, 25, also is a former soldier and could face a recall herself. "I am still worried, but because he won't have to go I'm not so worried about myself," she said.



    Martin Luther "Coon" King weatherman's 'gaffe' wasn't live... it was prerecorded

    Wednesday, January 19, 2005

    In my earlier post on KTNV's Rob Blair, the Vegas weatherman that was fired for saying the above slur, he claimed to have had a "slip of the tongue." As House Blend reader Paul found in another news piece on this story, the damn thing was taped ahead of time, so Blair and whatever tech crew was on set, plus the studio editors had ample time to cut and redo that crap. They are now "investigating." (AP):
    A local television station is investigating how a taped broadcast that included a racial slur was allowed to air over the weekend. An official from the parent company of KTNV-TV said Wednesday that the station is reviewing the safeguards it has in place to prevent errors from getting on the air.

    Jim Thomas, vice president of marketing and programming for Milwaukee-based Journal Broadcast Group, which owns KTNV-TV Channel 13, said the weather segment was prerecorded. Thomas said several people were involved in the tape's production at the ABC affiliate and the station was meeting with them for their account of what happened.

    Weatherman Rob Blair was fired Saturday after he used a slur when giving the extended weather forecast for the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He apologized on the air before the station fired him.

    Blair has said the slur was a slip of the tongue and did not mean to offend anyone. [Complete Bullsh*t.]

    Thomas declined comment on whether other staff members might be reprimanded or lose their jobs over the incident.

    Oh, BTW. Here is the contact info for KTNV, via the Journals Broadcast Group's web site:
    KTNV-TV, Channel 13, ABC
    3355 S. Valley View Blvd.
    Las Vegas, NV 89102
    Tel: (702) 876-1313
    Fax: (702) 871-1961

    Marketing, Programming and Media Relations
    Jim Thomas, Vice President, Marketing, Programming and Media Relations
    Tel: (414) 967-5293
    Fax: (414) 967-5255
    jthomas@journalbroadcastgroup.com


    5 Car Bombs Rock Baghdad Before Elections



    Yes, step right on up to the ballot box, folks, and get your *ss blown the f*ck up. Is that what Bush is telling the average Iraqi to do? Never mind most of the residents of Fallujah have no home to go to.

    This election, no matter what happens, is never going to be seen as legitimate. (AP):
    Insurgents unleashed a wave of five car bombings across the capital Wednesday, killing about a dozen people, despite stepped-up U.S. and Iraqi measures to protect this month's elections. North of Baghdad, insurgents killed a British security officer and kidnapped a Japanese engineer, officials said.

    Gunmen fired on the Baghdad office of a major Kurdish party and two senior officials escaped assassination in separate attacks in the north. The U.S. military put the death toll from the day's Baghdad bombings at 26, saying the number was based on initial reports at the scene. Iraqi officials gave a lower toll — 12 people killed in the bombings and one at the Kurdish office.

    Sunni Muslim insurgents have threatened to disrupt the elections, and the five car bombings — four within a span of 90 minutes — underscored the grave threat facing Iraqis at this watershed in their history. U.S. and Iraqi forces have stepped up raids and arrests in Baghdad, Mosul and other troublespots as the elections approach.

    President Bush called interim President Ghazi al-Yawer on Wednesday to discuss preparations for the elections, including security and how to encourage voter turnout among Sunnis.
    Makes you want to queue right on up, doesn't it?


    Why Canada is more civilized than the U.S. - Military OKs gay unions

    Look at what is happening in Canada. The politics here are really starting to wear on me...We got married there -- Vancouver was marvelous. I hate how my country is turning into a theocracy. I should stay and fight, right? Convince me, please? (Cnews):
    Gay and lesbian army couples can now get married on military bases. The Canadian Forces has quietly drafted a policy calling for military chaplains to formally bless same-sex weddings. The guidelines -- considered "interim" until the federal government passes a law redefining marriage -- outline the process for pre-nuptial counselling and using the on-base chapel for same-sex ceremonies.

    Col. Stan Johnstone, a military chaplain who helped draft the policy, said the guidelines reflect the primary role of ministering to all forces members and their families. He said chaplains vary on personal convictions and points of theology, but don't discriminate against anyone in need of counsel.

    "It's essentially a statement of the way the law is going. We don't put any expectations on people. We expect them to function as we always do, according to the tenets of their church, their own conscience and the laws of the province," Johnstone said. "No one is being put under any constraint to do something they wouldn't normally do," he said.

    The roughly 150 military chaplains who work on bases across the country aren't required to perform same-sex marriages if it's against their religious beliefs, but they have the responsibility to find another member of the clergy to conduct the service.


    Florida judge rules legal gay civil marriages do not have to be recognized

    More bad news, but it's a legal cloud with a silver lining. By ruling that the state doesn't have to recognize gay marriages from, say, Massachusetts, it throws the whole legal battle into high gear on a federal level. The attorney in this case intends to take this to the Supreme Court. It's a short term win for the wingnuts, but this challenge was inevitable. (AP via MSNBC):
    In what is believed to be the first ruling of its kind, a judge on Wednesday upheld the federal law letting states ban same-sex marriages, dismissing a lawsuit by two women seeking to have their Massachusetts marriage recognized here. Attorneys for conservative groups hailed the ruling by U.S. District Judge James S. Moody as an important first step, but the plaintiffs promised to appeal.

    This is a legal shot heard ‘round the world,” said attorney Ellis Rubin, who filed the lawsuit on the women’s behalf. “But we are not giving up. ... This case is going to be resolved in the U.S. Supreme Court, and I have said that since the day I filed it.” Although several federal cases are challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, attorneys said Wednesday’s ruling was the first by a federal judge on a direct challenge to the law.

    Moody sided with former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who argued in court filings that the government has a legitimate interest in allowing states to ban same-sex marriages, namely to encourage “stable relationships” for the rearing of children by both biological parents.

    ... Moody said he could not declare marriage a “fundamental right,” as the lawsuit urged him to do, and that he was bound to follow legal precedent. “The legislatures of individual states may decide to overturn its precedent and strike down” the law, Moody wrote. “But, until then, this court is constrained to hold (the law) and the Florida statutes ... constitutionally valid.”


    Yeah, media whore Minnery is commenting again.

    Today we have witnessed a significant victory — for marriage and democracy,” said Tom Minnery of Focus on Family. The group is pushing for an amendment to the Constitution that would ban same-sex marriages.

    “Unfortunately, at any time, marriage in any jurisdiction is only one judge away from being ruled unconstitutional.”

    Last year, a federal bankruptcy judge in Washington state ruled the Defense of Marriage Act constitutional when a lesbian couple sought to file for bankruptcy as a heterosexual couple would. But that decision was not binding on other courts.


    Extreme LA anti-gay marriage amendment ruled constitutional

    Another state falls. The Louisiana super-DOMA has been ruled constitutional by the state Supreme Court. This amendment, which was passed last September, not only defined marriage as between one man and one woman, but also "pecifically prohibits recognition of same-sex “marriages” from another jurisdiction as well as any legal arrangement “identical” or “substantially similar” to marriage." So it's no to civil unions, and yet another state goes for the Virginia/Ohio severe slap-down of gay rights. It's not clear whether this affects private businesses and their ability to provide same-sex spousal equivalent benefits. The sad thing is 78% of voters cast a ballot in favor of this bigoted law. Here's the take by the wingnut American Family Association:
    The lower court had ruled the amendment unconstitutional because it violated the single-subject rule, which prohibits submission of an issue before the people on more than one subject. In this case, the judge found the Louisiana amendment addressed both marriage and civil unions. The Louisiana Supreme Court disagreed, however, holding that the amendment addressed only the issue of marriage, and that inclusion of the language banning civil unions was simply “an element of the plan advanced to achieve this object.”

    “This is a tremendous victory for the family,” said Stephen M. Crampton, Chief Counsel of the AFA Center for Law & Policy, which has been involved in drafting and defending similar amendments. “For too long, efforts to protect the family have been thwarted by activist judges. We applaud the Louisiana court for deferring to the will of the people,” added Crampton.


    Right wing Catholics about children of gays: 'Pawns of the Homosexual Agenda'


    William Donahue of the Catholic League actually emits less wingnuttery than the other person in this article, Stephen Brady of "Roman Catholic Faithful. "That's amazing.

    I love the nutjobs at AgapePress, the "news" organ of the loony religious wingnuts, homo-bashing American Family Association. They released the following story today on the holier-than-thou parents that were pressing for a gay couple to remove their child from their Catholic school because of their homosexuality. The diocese slapped the parents down. Roman Catholics in the Orange County diocese are now accusing the diocese of violating church doctrine.

    The best part is, they actually feature sane, if still bigoted, quotes from the always-belligerent Catholic talking head William Donohue of the Catholic League. I always think the guy is going to have a stroke when he gets asked questions about homos on shows like Hardball. You'd think his doctor would tell him to stop doing these gigs because he just may have a stroke on the air. (AgapePress):
    Catholic League president William Donohue says there are two issues to consider, one being a matter of principle and the other, a matter of prudence. "There is a moral principal, expressed in Judeo-Christian thought," he notes, "that the innocent should not be punished for the transgressions of the guilty."

    In other words, Donohue explains, it would be wrong to make children suffer for the sins of the father, or "in this instance, we can amend that to 'fathers.'" But at the same time, he adds, "On a prudential level, it makes no sense to single out kids whose parents are gay," as opposed to the children of parents guilty of other sexual sins, such as adultery or cohabitation, or children who were born out of wedlock. While the issue may be new, the Catholic League spokesman contends that the heart of the matter is not. "There is no fundamental tension between opposing gay marriage as a matter of public policy and accepting the children of gay parents in a Catholic school," he says. In this case, as in others, he asserts, "the spiritual well-being of the kids is, or should be, the paramount concern."

    So, good old Bill manages to keep his blood pressure on an even keel, but then they quote a truly unhinged f*cktard, Stephen Brady of some organization called Roman Catholic Faithful (check out that site for a truly disturbing editorial cartoon about the Terri Schiavo case).
    Children as Pawns of the Homosexual Agenda?

    But Stephen Brady, who heads the group Roman Catholic Faithful, says the children are in a no-win situation, unless they are removed from the school. "Clearly, these homosexuals -- these sodomites, if you will -- are using these poor children as a political pawn," he says.

    "What father in his right mind would place his children in a school that is so hostile to their very way of life? And that's what they've done," Brady continues. "The spiritual well-being of these children is in no way benefited by keeping them in a Catholic school that is going to someday tell them their whole life is a lie. I mean, it's going to be so traumatic to these children that God only knows what the result will be to their personalities and their faith in general."

    In fact, the Roman Catholic Faithful spokesman contends that a priest should never have baptized the two children in the first place, and should certainly not have permitted the two homosexual "parents" to enter the Catholic school and print their names in a parish directory. "The ones doing real harm to using these children," Brady says, "are the priest and the nun who allowed this to happen."

    What a sick bastard Brady is. Who is he to judge? You just cannot believe the hatred and intolerance coming from people that claim to be spiritual.


    WP: Bush still upsets some homo-bigot supporters after FMA "correction"



    Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family think fighting gay marriage is more important than say, war and poverty. They're not happy with the "family"-focused Mehlman either.

    Even as the White House scurries back to soothe the wingers that he will push FMA, the usual suspects crawl out from under their rocks to scream anyway. They're feeling a little USED, huh. Tough sh*t. (WPost):
    President Bush came under fire from some social conservatives yesterday for saying he will not aggressively lobby the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage during his second term.

    Prominent leaders such as Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and many rank-and-file Bush supporters inundated the White House with phone calls to protest Bush's comments in an interview published Sunday in The Washington Post. "Clearly there is concern" among conservatives, Perkins said. "I believe there is no more important issue for the president's second term than the preservation of marriage."

    Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family said, "I am sure [White House] phone lines are lighting up all over."

    In the Post interview, Bush, for the first time, said senators have made it clear to him the amendment has no chance of passing unless courts strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which protects states from recognizing same-sex marriages conducted elsewhere. Challenges to the act are pending in state courts from California to Florida.

    "It was not articulated that way in the campaign," Perkins complained.

    ...Bush, whose reelection strategy was predicated on record-high turnout among social conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, will need the support of his base to help pressure Congress to approve his domestic agenda over the next four years, Republicans say. While Bush remains wildly popular among most conservatives, some are wondering whether the president will play down social issues in the second term as he seeks to cement a legacy focused more on cutting taxes and creating private Social Security retirement accounts. Last week, some Republicans complained that Bush's choice to head the Republican National Committee, Kenneth B. Mehlman, has picked an abortion rights supporter to be co-chairman.


    “My Ten Days in Prison” - Bible beater wigged out by lesbians in prison

    A group of evangelical Christians is facing hate crimes prosecution for assaulting attendees at a Philadelphia Pride festival. After they were arrested one of the women, Linda Beckman, a 67-year-old grandmother from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, gave a first-hand account of life behind bars to Concerned Women of America. Here are some entertaining excerpts, which prove that a religious wingnut in your cell is as scary as a big BD prison warden! (Concerned Women for America):
    Editor’s Note: Last October, police arrested 11 Christians in Philadelphia for singing hymns and reading Scripture aloud at a homosexual event called “Outfest.” ...Although the other 10 Christians were released on their own recognizance, Linda wound up spending 10 days in jail because of a prior conviction involving actions during a pro-life event. It is Concerned Women for America’s position that Linda was punished unjustly, but nevertheless God used her mightily during her prison stay..

    I must say, when I got up to my block, I felt some fear. It was a very large room with 64 cells (two people to a cell) and two guards for all these women. I was in a women’s prison, but as I looked around, I saw many prisoners who looked like men. Homosexuality is rampant in the prison. I quoted the Scripture 2 Timothy 1:7 to myself, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The fear left me. I was put in a cell with five other women.

    ...Out of the five people in my cell, three were lesbians. Oh, how my heart grieved! I called out to God and said, “I know you created them to be women, but they act like animals.” Their language and actions were more than I could bear. It was much, much worse than when I was imprisoned in the early ’90s for doing rescue work.

    At one point, two girls in my cell had a Bible and were reading out loud and mocking. I would interject when they would say they didn’t understand it. The girl above me leaned down and said, “You know so much, how do you know it?” I explained that I had been a Christian for 26 years and read the Bible all that time. I told them that the Bible said fornicators wouldn’t get into heaven. I explained that fornication was sex before marriage. One lesbian said, “Oh, I guess I’m in trouble.” I told her she was, to which she replied, “Oh, I don’t believe all the Bible!” However, she requested a Bible from the chaplain and said that she would read it.

    After two nights of no sleep, due to the noise from the women in my cell and their vulgar language, I called out to God to bind the spirits of lesbianism and vulgar language. After I returned from a court hearing, I knew that I still had a few more days to spend in jail. One of the women in my cell said, “Now tonight we’re going to be quiet and let ‘mom’ [me] sleep. … And another thing, we’re going to stop this foul language.” When one would slip, another would say, “Watch your mouth.” God is so faithful!

    I could make all sorts of wry comments about the above, but the stuff stands on its own, doesn't it?

    Thanks to House Blend reader JJ for the pointer.


    Opposing anti-gay amendments didn't hurt state-level incumbents

    All of you naysayer, lazy-ass Democrats that were blaming everything from John Kerry's loss to the common cold on gay people after the election can taking a flying, f*cking leap...365Gay.com.
    State lawmakers who opposed constitutional bans on same-sex marriage fared extraordinarily well at the polls even though all the states where the proposed amendments were on the ballot voted to bar gay marriage a new national poll shows.

    The survey released Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign is almost identical to a smaller survey of five key states that was released last week.

    The HRC found that only 1.7 percent of 640 legislators in 28 states, including Massachusetts where gay marriage became legal last year, were voted out of office because they opposed measures banning marriage for same-sex couples. Eleven of the 28 states had constitutional amendments on the ballot in November.

    In releasing the report at the National Press Club in Washington, the HRC said its findings should help dispel widespread speculation that gay marriage was "one of the key moral issues driving voting behavior in 2004."

    "Since the election, political observers have provided compelling arguments to discredit the belief that the marriage issue contributed in any significant way to the outcome of the national elections," the report states.

    Of the 640 legislators for whom the issue of marriage could have factored into their election, 604 or 94 percent won.

    In the races of the 36 legislators who lost, the legislator’s vote against discrimination was cited as a factor in only 11 races. Only 1.7 percent of state legislators running for re-election lost their race because of their vote against banning marriage for same-sex couples.

    “Voting against discrimination is good policy and good politics,” said Seth Kilbourn, HRC’s national field director, as the report was released.

    Anyone trying to score political points by discriminating against same-sex couples should be put on notice. Prejudice does not win at the polls.”

    ...The report found that 100 of 103 of state legislators who voted against anti-gay constitutional amendments and ran for re-election won their races, compared to 196 of the 215 state legislators who voted for them

    OK. Now that the good news has been spun, I totally disagree with Kilbourn's last statement that prejudice doesn't win at the polls. Come on, prejudice did cause a good number of people to vote for the amendments, and that's reason enough to be very concerned. The fact that people are unlikely to vote an incumbent out of office is a known political reality. Unless the person is mired in scandal or doesn't provide constituents with legislative support, most will be re-elected. And some are re-elected despite any logic, look at Marion "The bitch set me up with a crack pipe" Barry.



    Barbara Boxer scorches Condi

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005


    California's Barbara Boxer threw Condi's contradictory quotes in her face. Beautiful.

    It's clear that Condi has been drinking the Kool-Aid for years; she can lie so pathologically and is so unflappable that it boggles the mind. (NYT):
    Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's nominee for secretary of state, refused Tuesday to set any timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, but declared that the United States was making "some progress" in training Iraqi security forces.

    ...By far the most severe questioning came from Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, whose berating tone clearly rankled Ms. Rice and brought an uncharacteristic flash of irritation. In the morning session, Ms. Boxer focused sharply on Ms. Rice's position that Saddam Hussein had been close to acquiring nuclear weapons, showing her statements on a cardboard display.

    "I personally believe, this is my personal view, that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth," Ms. Boxer said. "Senator, I have to say that I never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything," Ms. Rice responded, her voice sharpening. "It is not my nature. It is not my character. And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before, and what went on before and what I said, without impugning my credibility or my integrity."






    Ned Flanders is the gay Simpson?


    Patty vs. "good Christian" Ned Flanders?!

    And we had our money on Marge's sister Patty. (BetUS.com):
    Rumors have been circulating since last summer on who it might be, but in recent weeks the debate and speculation have turned into big money wagers.
    "It appears that many of our customers have an opinion on who the gay character is," says Mike Foreman, spokesperson for BetUS.com. "We've taken more than 900 bets, mostly on Patty and Smithers."

    According to Foreman, Marge's sister Patty was the favorite at 4/5 with Smithers trailing at 4/1 to be "outed." Ned Flanders is posted as 15/1, making the devout-Christian character a long shot; however, several large wagers have been placed on his character, which has come as a surprise to the bookmaker.

    "We were positive that Patty would be the bettors' favorite, seeing that she has been identified in many online sources as the gay character thanks to a leak at Fox," says Foreman. "Nevertheless, it seems that our customers believe that Patty is just a rumor planted by the network to throw viewers off."


    Oops -- Singer curses at inaugural youth concert, corrupting Hilary Duff fans


    Lead singer Brett Scallions of the hard rock band Fuel performs at a pre-inaugural concert, and apparently caused the vapors by using the "F word" in front of teenyboppers and Barbara and Jenna.

    At least this sounds more fun than the pain of listening to headliner Hilary Duff. No boobies were flashed, though. (AP) :
    You might say the Janet Jackson moment of President Bush's inaugural festivities came Tuesday at a youth concert with hundreds of preteen Hilary Duff fans in the audience.

    No nudity was involved, but the Vince Neil-style profanity probably didn't win rock band Fuel any fans at the Federal Communications Commission, nor from the parents at the concert. Now the Pennsylvania band is just hoping the concert, "America's Future Rocks Today," wasn't aired live.

    Borrowing a word from Motley Crue's Neil, the lead singer of Fuel proclaimed, "Welcome to the greatest ----ing country in the world." Brett Scallions followed with a quick apology of "excuse my language."


    Reed may run for Georgia Lt. Gov. in 2006


    Ralphie, the religious Right wonder-boy -- is he following Zell's lead?

    I guess the only good news about this head case is that he's only aiming for Lt. Gov. For now. (Washington Times):
    Republican political consultant Ralph Reed is considering a run for Georgia lieutenant governor in 2006, the Washington Times said Tuesday. A former wonder-boy of Republican electoral politics, Reed ran the South for President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. Bush carried the region by a large margin, helping the GOP to post wins in five open U.S. Senate contests.

    The lieutenant governor's office has served as the launching pad for more than one prominent elected official. Retired U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., held it for 16 years before becoming Georgia's chief executive.

    If Reed can win the No. 2 spot, he would already have a campaign organization, a donors list, a campaign kitty and four years of statewide elected office experience by the time the 2010 gubernatorial contest roles around, at which time Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue -- if he wins re-election in 2006 -- would have to leave office because of term limits.


    Mehlman gets a big "congratulations" from BlogACTIVE



    Mike Rogers of blogACTIVE.com released a copy of his letter to our socially out, politically closeted Ken Mehlman, Bush's nominee for Chairman of the RNC. Ken-doll was Campaign Manager for BC '04. Oh, the congratulatory letter is a blast (click to view on RawPrint).






    Speaking of BlogACTIVE, here's a little blogwhoring, which I don't normally do, but this news is kind of cool...features from the House Blend are now featured links on Mike Rogers' and John Byrne's (The Raw Story, Blue Lemur) new venture, RawStoryQ. The press release. Here's a snippet:
    Raw Story Media, publisher of RawStory.com and BlueLemur.com, is proud to announce the first of its community-oriented web portals, rawstoryQ.com, a site for gay and lesbian news. "We are pleased about this exciting opportunity to expand Raw Story," said John Byrne, Raw Story's publisher.

    rawstoryQ.com is a cutting-edge site providing the links and exclusive news stories to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. "Out news with an attitude," rawstoryQ will be edited and co-published by Michael Rogers, publisher of blogACTIVE.com, one of the most popular and controversial blogs in the gay community.

    "Partnering with Raw Story on behalf of the lesbian and gay community is a natural match," said rawstoryQ editor Rogers, "The entire team at Raw Story Media is top-notch and make up exactly the kind of company I enjoy working with - cutting-edge and forward-thinking. I cannot think of a better media outlet to work with."

    In just a handful of days online, rawstoryQ.com has already been cited by Sirius Radio host Michelangelo Signorile as a must visit site. "Gay news - with some bite," Signorile remarked.

    L.A. Weekly veteran Doug Ireland said, "You should bookmark it now."

    rawstoryQ.com will also provide work by author Wayne Besen and popular blogger Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend. Sections of the site will be dedicated to lesbian and gay organization news (national, statewide and local) and to actions, with direct links to web-based actions of interest to the community.

    Additional sites under development

    As part of a long-term effort to provide resources for emerging online communities, Raw Story Media will be announcing a number of other sites. A document storage and display site for bloggers, and a site designed to provide news information for those interested in the environment, will be the next sites to be debut.




    OMFG. Bush to troops: 'Much More Will Be Asked of You'

    Let's see...go to war without proper equipment, get called up after you're retired, diving for metal to make hillbilly armor... What more sacrifice can our troops make for this bastard? (Reuters):
    President Bush told U.S. troops on Tuesday that "much more will be asked of you" in Iraq and elsewhere as three days of ceremonies marking his inauguration got off to a somber beginning. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went to the MCI Center in Washington for an event called "Saluting Those Who Serve" that honored war veterans and the valor of the fallen in conflicts from the Revolutionary War to Iraq.

    ...Among the 7,000 people in the audience were troops wounded in combat, 75 family members of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and as many as 80 winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military award. The event was beamed to troop gatherings in Iraq and Afghanistan.


    How much more? (Caring for the Wounded in Iraq — A Photo Essay, New England Journal of Medicine)

    Bush told the troops that "much more will be asked of you in the months and years ahead."

    "In Afghanistan and Iraq, the liberty that has been won at great cost now must be secured. We still face terrorist enemies who wish to harm our people, and are seeking weapons that would allow them to kill on an unprecedented scale. These enemies must be stopped, and you are the ones who will stop them."

    ... "In coming days, the Iraqi people will have their chance to go to the polls, to begin the process of creating a democratic government that will answer to the people, instead of to a thug and a tyrant," he said.

    He is unf*cking believable. How does this man sleep at night? Never mind. He sleeps like a baby.


    Former Enron CEO to head troubled Krispy Kreme



    Is this a freaking joke? I guess it's time for the NC-based donut maker to sink beneath the waves of corporate ethical standards.
    Chief executive officer Scott Livengood was ousted today as head of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., the once-trendy chain whose stock price has plummeted amid a federal securities investigation and allegations of padded sales figures. Shares of Krispy Kreme jumped 12 percent.

    The Winston-Salem company's board of directors announced the retirement of Livengood, who has been criticized for his handling of the company's recent financial problems, as one of "a number of important actions to address the company's current situation."

    Livengood, 52, who has been at the helm for seven years and led the company's rapid rise, was replaced as CEO by Stephen Cooper, a turnaround specialist who most recently shepherded the Enron Corp. bankruptcy reorganization.




    Montana bill outlawing bias toward gays, lesbians draws fire


    Ken Toole is the sponsor of Bill 1999, which would add sexual orientation to anti-discrimination laws. He's catching heat from some serious wingnuts, including our friends at Concerned Women for America.

    We have another candidate for state of the week -- Montana -- and the unhinged homo-bigots in Big Sky country don't mince their words. I also have a few Freeper comments on this one. (Billings Gazette):
    Montanans should be able to discriminate against gays and lesbians because their way of life threatens society and should be kept at bay, some critics said Monday in attacking a bill that would outlaw such discrimination under human-rights laws.

    "We want the right to say no to something we really think is wrong," said Jeanette Zentgraf, representing Concerned Women of America. Backers of the measure said it is long past time to extend anti-discrimination laws to a minority routinely subjected to mistreatment in many facets of life. "It's time to lift our gay and lesbian neighbors up to the same level where non-gay and lesbian residents live," said Karl Olson, executive director for PRIDE, a gay-lesbian advocacy group.

    Senate Bill 1999, sponsored by Sen. Ken Toole, D-Helena, would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, public accommodations, housing, financial transactions, education, job referrals, licensing, training programs, government services and funding, and public contracts.

    Betty Kijewski of the Montana Human Rights Network said her organization has heard of teachers who refused to have openly gay students in their classrooms, or prohibited such students from using school bathrooms between classes. "That is flat-out discrimination," she told the committee.

    Foes of the bill assailed it as an affront to the rights of others.

    Dallas Erickson of Stevensville, spokesman for Montana Families for Decency, said employers should he able to fire or not hire a person they consider dangerous based on the sexual aspect of his or her lifestyle.

    He said extending human-rights protection based on sexual orientation would extend rights beyond gay and lesbian Montanans, to include people who engage in other "kinky or perverted" practices such as pedophilia, incest, bestiality, exhibitionism and necrophilia.

    "It is a terrible bill that, in itself, is discriminatory against those who feel homosexuality and other sexual orientations are unsafe and dangerous," Erickson said.


    Actual Freeper Quotes™
    "WTF is wrong with you Montanans? Too many Californicators relocated to your midst, I guess."

    "While we are at it why not make it illegal to discriminate against someone because of their listing on a terrorist watch list or because they are a pedophile or because they are into sodomizing animals?"

    "This is my thought... People who side with the homo crowd are no different then those that sided with the nazis. As the invection (AIDS) continues to grow and death spreads through the world, they don't care because it's not happening to them."

    "AHHH Montana! Where men are men and Sheep are nervous!......"

    "It is clear the left has no direction or purpose....Now having said that, I am headed to San Freakcisco, TO MARRY MY DOG AND HAVE A SEX-CHANGE OPERATION. (and don't tell my dog-to-be, but I spotten this cute little sheep at a neighbor's party the other night....)"

    "I think this bill should be expanded to legalize discrimination against alcoholics and other drug users, as well as adulterers and Muslime, all of whom are threats to society and camels."

    "What's wrong with discriminating against a behavior? What is next? People can't discriminate against loud, fat, rude, odoriferous, and / or criminal individuals? And if the prevert keeps it quiet, no one will know he's a prevert."

    "Have to say it, again and again... YOU CAN'T DISCRIMINATE AGAINST SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T EXIST."


    Georgia HS Gay Straight Society Could Incite Violence, Parents Claim

    Well, if you're that homophobic and hell-bent on punishing innocent people because you are insecure in your sexual orientation, I guess it could. Geez. I am so sick of stupid people. (Gwinnett Daily):
    A parents group is demanding that the Gay Lesbian and Straight Society at Berkmar High School in Gwinnett change its name because the mere mention of the word gay could incite violence at the suburban Atlanta school. "I submit to you the name itself is very sexually explicit, provocative and inflammatory," the group's spokesperson Faye Caldwell told the school board.

    "People have very strong opinions about homosexuality. . . . There could be a confrontation. We must protect the well-being of the students." The GLSS was recently formed at the school. Last week two opinion pieces on the club were pulled from the student newspaper after principal Kendall Johnson felt they would disturb students during exam time.

    The parents group and a handful of other parents and members of First Baptist Church of Lilburn, told the board that schools are not the place to discuss homosexuality. School Board members listened to the complaints but have not publicly responded.


    Bush rewarded by black pastors' faith, and they, in turn, get their own 'reward'


    Bishop Sedgwick Daniels of Milwaukee's Holy Redeemer Church of God in Christ buys into Bush's faith-based initiatives and "values." Atlanta's Rev. Timothy McDonald thinks Bush's program is an attempt to prop up identified black leadership of the GOP's choosing with government money.

    I told you so...a portion of the black religious voting bloc is being shaved off by the Rovian Right's ploy of political gay-bashing, and the Dems are sitting back and letting it happen. (LATimes):
    Bishop Sedgwick Daniels, one of this city's most prominent black pastors, supported Democrats in past presidential elections, backing Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

    This fall, however, the bishop's broad face appeared on Republican Party fliers in the battleground state of Wisconsin, endorsing President Bush as the candidate who "shares our views."

    What changed?

    After Bush's contested 2000 victory, Daniels felt the pull of a most powerful worldly force: a call from the White House. He conferred with top administration officials and had a visit in 2002 from the president himself. His church later received $1.5 million in federal funds through Bush's initiative to support faith-based social services.

    Daniels' political conversion, and similar transformations by black pastors across the nation, form a little-known chapter in the playbook of Bush's 2004 reelection campaign — and may mark the beginning of a political realignment long sought by senior White House advisor Karl Rove and other GOP strategists.

    Daniels says it was not the federal money that led him to endorse the Republican candidate last year, but rather the values of Bush and other party leaders who champion church ministries, religious education and moral clarity. It was evidence to many religious African Americans that the GOP could be an appealing home.

    The money that flowed to Daniels' church was part of a broader effort inspired by Bush's contention that religious groups can do a better job than government in providing such services as counseling, education and drug treatment. In 2003, the administration awarded more than $1 billion to hundreds of faith-based groups, some of which hadn't received such public funds in the past.

    The White House adamantly denies that the faith initiative is a political tool. But the program has provoked criticism that the GOP is seeking to influence new supporters, especially African Americans, with taxpayer funds. The Rev. Timothy McDonald of Atlanta, a prominent black minister with Democratic ties, dubbed the program an "attempt to identify new leadership in the black community and use the money to prop these people up."

    There's no question that the faith initiative — combined with the administration's support for banning gay marriage and promoting school vouchers — has already helped reshape Bush's image among some traditionally Democratic African Americans. And the change in black support on Nov. 2, though only a 2-percentage-point increase nationwide, helped secure Bush's reelection victory. The gains were greater in battleground states.

    As I said in an earlier post on Mel Watt and framing gay rights for this population, the Dems have a roadmap, if they only would get some balls and stop being afraid of mentioning the word G-A-Y. It's also depressing to see the White House attempt to and succeed at, buying off the black church vote with his phony faith-based initiatives program.


    No cartoon 'Family Guy' ass on newly spineless Fox


    Family Guy ass=Michael Powell Janet Booby Fine?

    This is a real story on AP. Fox is afraid of showing a cartoon posterior -- Michael Powell's FCC has them scared sh*tless.

    The latest example of TV network self-censorship because of FCC concerns came a few weeks ago during a rerun of a "Family Guy" cartoon. Fox electronically blurred a character's posterior, even though the image was seen five years ago when the episode originally aired. "We have to be checking and second-guessing ourselves now," Fox entertainment president Gail Berman said Monday. "We have to protect our affiliates."


    Alabama wingnut Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore leads the polls for gov


    As I've said before, George Wallace would be Alabama's first choice again for gov, but he's uh, dead. Roy Moore, above, is now their man. Katie, your birth state is hopeless.

    Ace bigot, homophobe and representative of the nostalgia movement for Jim Crow days, former Judge Roy Moore, has a huge lead in initial polls for governor of Alabama. (Tuscaloosa News):
    A Mobile Register-University of South Alabama poll of likely Republican primary voters shows Moore with a lead of 8 percentage points over Riley in a hypothetical primary matchup. Moore drew support from 43 percent of respondents, while the governor garnered 35 percent.

    ...Ousted from the Alabama Supreme Court over his refusal to follow a federal judge's order to remove a Ten Commandments office from the court building, Moore has been traveling the country speaking to conservative organizations and religious groups.

    The poll found that Moore had a favorable rating of 72 percent - a number University of Alabama political scientist William Stewart described as potentially "intimidating to the governor."

    [How the f*ck can he have a favorable of 72?! It's a Republican sample, but damn.]

    ...Poll director Keith Nicholls, a political scientist at South Alabama, said the results indicate the 2006 nomination is "Moore's for the taking."

    Remember, an Alabama law mandating racially separate classrooms is still on the books -- a state amendment to repeal the Jim Crow-era law was defeated last November. Roy Moore was leading the fight. As he said at the time regarding the amendment: "This is the most deceptive piece of legislation I have ever seen and it is simply a fraud on the people of Alabama." Supporters of the measure said it was not about taxes — but about erasing the last vestiges of Jim Crow provisions from Alabama law.

    ***

    To get a flavor of the level of intolerance and backward thinking in this state, read my post: Is Alabama really the worst place to be a gay person in Bush's America?"

    ***

    In a diary on DKos about this, there was an excellent post by Corncam, that I want to repeat here...
    I remember Wallace (4.00 / 2)

    I am an Alabama native, and I can remember when George Wallace was governor of our fair state. I hope that y'all will forgive me for such a negative posting, but I am virtually certain that Roy Moore will win, and I'm afraid that he will bring back the reign of terror that characterised our state for nearly 100 years, up until 1964.
    When I moved out of state twenty years ago, I thought that racism was a dying way of life, and that Alabama would soon rejoin the rest of the modern world, but I have begun to doubt that conclusion. The rejection of Amendment 2 in November was especially alarming, because I know how sensitive Alabamians are to any suggestion that they are intolerant rednecks.

    Roy Moore's hatred of gays, and extreme religious intolerance are, unfortunately, right in tune with Alabama's mainstream. If he is elected, I expect to see police raids on known same-sex families, and increased profiling & harassment of religious minorities, especially Muslims. I wouldn't even be surprised if lynchings started up again.

    The idea that a Democrat might win is just a forlorn hope, and anyway, no one to the left of Zell Miller could possibly be elected. Gov. Riley has been the best man to hold that office in 20 years, and he is a far better man than Alabama deserves right now.

    The fact is that most Southern conservatives don't believe in the US Constitution, and once they are confident that Washington won't step in to enforce its provisions, then they will begin to flagrantly violate the basic rights of their fellow citizens, just like they did during the Jim Crow era.

    "The past isn't dead, it isn't even past." - Faulkner


    "Citizen Kane" actress Ruth Warrick dies



    Most people probably know Ruth Warrick from her role as Phoebe on All My Children (an ABC soap), but I'll always remember her as Charles Foster Kane's (Orson Welles) wife in Citizen Kane. She was the last surviving cast member of the 1941 classic (I've lost count of how many times I've seen CK). She died at the age of 88. (AFP).


    Bush Won't Rule Out Action Against Iran Over Nukes

    Monday, January 17, 2005


    Bring it all on, Bush. Typical pattern of injury among soldiers wearing Kevlar vests to protect the chest and abdomen. (New England Journal of Medicine)

    And who the frick is he going to send over there? More 60 and 70 year old retired soldiers? Bring 'em on, indeed. (Reuters):
    President Bush said on Monday he would not rule out military action against Iran if that country was not more forthcoming about its suspected nuclear weapons program.

    "I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table," Bush said in an interview with NBC News when asked if he would rule out the potential for military action against Iran "if it continues to stonewall the international community about the existence of its nuclear weapons program."


    Arkansas bill seeks to prevent gay people from becoming foster parents


    Arkansan wingnut Rep. Bob Adams, D-Sheridan.

    I haven't had to post anything about this state lately. Guess the wingnuts there want to jump into the race to reach the bottom of the tolerance list along with Alabama and Virginia. Here is the summary of the bill from the Arkansas Legislature web site:
    "To clarify that the Department of Human Services shall not place a child with an adoptive or foster parent who is homosexual or in a home where an adult homosexual resides." (Arkansas News Bureau):
    Last month, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox declared unconstitutional a regulation being enforced by the Child Welfare Agency Review Board that prohibited gay people or any family with a gay member from becoming foster parents.

    Fox said in his ruling the board has the legislative authority to "promote the health, safety and welfare of children," but not morals. House Bill 1119 by Rep. Bob Adams, D-Sheridan, attempts to give the board the authority.

    "What I'm looking at is the well being of the children placed in the Department of Human Services," said Adams, who was Grant County sheriff before being elected to the House. "I was in law enforcement for 32 years and when DHS is involved there is generally some kind of tragedy, an emotional problem that the child is having to deal with and if you put (the child) into a situation that could cause more emotional problems, I just think it is wrong," Adams said Friday afternoon.

    Adams said his bill would simply make legal a regulation the Child Welfare Agency Review Board has been following for some time. He said his proposal was not anti-homosexual. Rita Sklar, director Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, disagreed.

    "If you want to talk about morality let's talk about the kids," Sklar said. "The judge found that Arkansas needs more qualified foster parents and that gay people can provide good homes for foster children and that the exclusion of gay people and people with gay family members may be harmful because it excludes a pool of effective foster parents.

    "The judge said, and I agree, that it is immoral to exclude a perfectly qualified group of people based on bias and opinion and not on fact," she said. "And while this is being cloaked under the rubric of public morality, it is nothing more than a personal dislike of gay people."

    In his ruling, Fox said that court testimony did not show that gay foster parents posed a threat to the health, safety or welfare of children. The judge issued an injunction banning enforcement of the board's regulation.


    Can you believe one word that comes out of his mouth?


    This image is just plain f*cking offensive. President Bush makes remarks at Georgetown University's 'Let Freedom Ring' celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Monday, Jan. 17, 2005, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    Bush: "We need our children to know how great the struggle for racial justice in our society has been and how much work remains to be done," Bush said. "And we need the children of American to know that a single life of conscience and purpose can touch and lift up many lives."



    Vegas weatherman loses job for on-air 'slip' - "Martin Luther Coon"

    The man's name is Rob Blair. KTNV did the right thing. What a damn asswipe this cretin is. (reviewjournal.com):
    KTNV-TV, Channel 13, fired weekend weather anchor Rob Blair on Sunday, a day after he made an on-air racial slur about Martin Luther King Jr.

    Jim Prather, vice president and general manager of KTNV, said Blair "stumbled" during a weather update at 7:55 a.m. Saturday but added that "this kind of incident is not acceptable under any circumstances, and I'm truly sorry that this event occurred."

    Blair was delivering the extended forecast when he said, "For tomorrow, 60 degrees, Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Day, gonna see some temperatures in the mid-60s."

    About 20 minutes later, Blair told viewers at the ABC affiliate, "Apparently I accidentally said Martin Luther Kong Jr., which I apologize about -- slip of the tongue."

    He offered a full apology during Saturday's 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts.

    At 6:11 p.m., co-anchor Christina Brown, who is black, announced, "Right now we want to pause for a program note. Rob?"

    Blair, seated at the news desk with co-anchors Brown and Shawn Boyd, said, "On a weather report earlier this morning, I made an accidental slip of the tongue when talking about the Martin Luther King holiday, and what I said was interpreted by many viewers as highly offensive. For that I offer my deepest apology. I in no way intended to offend anyone. I'm very sorry."

    Give me a f*cking break. It's a real "slip" alright. The only way you can make a slip like this is if you are used to using the word "coon" in that manner. Since he's in Vegas, I doubt the knobend was confusing King with a fond past memory of hunting a raccoon.

    BTW, the KTNV web site has already been cleansed of any reference to Blair....

    Before: Join Nate Tannenbaum on weeknights, Mark Pfister on Action News This Morning, and Rob Blair on weekends for the most accurate forecasts in Southern Nevada.

    After: Join Nate Tannenbaum on weeknights and Mark Pfister on Action News This Morning for the most accurate forecasts in Southern Nevada.


    Actress Virginia Mayo Dies



    She was in two of my all-time favorite films, William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives (1946, opposite Dana Andrews) and White Heat (1949), as the classic gangster wife alongside a psychotic James Cagney ("Made it, Ma! Top of the world!"). (LAT).


    Member wants FCC to probe Armstrong Williams



    Yeah, I wrote that headline on purpose. It was too good to resist. BTW, where are all his GOP friends now? (AP):
    A member of the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday the agency should investigate whether conservative commentator Armstrong Williams broke the law by failing to disclose that the Bush administration paid him $240,000 to plug its education policies.

    Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, a Democrat, said the agency has received about a dozen complaints against Williams. "I certainly hope the FCC will take action and fully investigate whether any laws have been broken," Adelstein said at the commission's regular monthly meeting.

    Williams said that neither he nor any of the stations that carried his syndicated program violated the law because two one-minute ads that aired during the show, and that also promoted the law, specifically stated they were paid for by the Education Department.

    "I was not engaged in any public relations in this campaign. It was strictly advertising," Williams said by phone. "I'm not concerned about this witchhunt because I know that I've done nothing wrong, nothing illegal."

    Nobody is going to save you, house boy.

    BONUS POINTS: BTW, I am somehow distantly related to Stedman Graham (aka Oprah's boyfriend), on my father's side of the family. He is Williams' consulting "partner" at the Graham Williams Group. GWG is a "PR firm" that probably is going to have to fold its tent because of this dumbass's raw greed and stupidity. Love this squib from the disinfopedia entry for GWG:
    According to one promotional brochure, cited by the University of Southern Carolina, "Williams offers clients the knowledge of a Washington insider who understands both the workings of Congress and the concerns of corporations." [2]

    William's biographical note describes the company as "an international public relations and media firm based in Washington, D.C., with clients in entertainment, politics, business, and charitable organizations." [3]

    While Williams biographical notes describes it as an "international public relations and media firm" it does not rate a listing in the databases or archives of the major PR trade publications, O'Dwyers PR Daily, the Holmes Report or PR Week.


    Disclaimer: I am not close to that side of the family (oy, my father is a black Republican that has served as head of the county GOP; that's enough of an embarrassment), so I've got no more dirt on this subject than what I can conjure up in Google, lol.


    Ohio's Gay Marriage Amendment Being Used in Domestic Violence Cases

    You knew the bozos voting for this amendment had no idea that it was a blunt club that could be used to knock out more than gay people. The Ohio amendment, aside from defining marriage and outlawing civil unions: ends domestic partnership benefits offered by private companies; and results in the loss of certain rights for unmarried couples, such as property rights, power of attorney, hospital visitation and inheritance. The latest mess affects domestic violence victims. (AP):
    Ohio's new gay marriage amendment is being used by some attorneys to defend unmarried clients against domestic violence charges.

    The constitutional amendment that took effect on December first denies legal status to unmarried couples.

    In at least two cases last week, the Cuyahoga County public defender's office asked a judge to dismiss domestic violence charges against unmarried defendants. The attorneys say the charges violate the amendment by affording marriage-like legal status to unmarried victims who live with those accused of attacking them.

    Advocates for victims of domestic violence have worried this could happen since the amendment was passed in November. But prosecutors say the notion of dismissing the cases based on this theory is ridiculous.

    No, it's not ridiculous.


    More taxpayer-funded GOP propaganda - slanted civil rights calendar


    This piece of crap is another example of the GOP picking the taxpayer's pocket to do a press release of revisionist history.

    More outrage and disinformation by the Bush administration -- using your money to pimp for the GOP. This time it's a f*cking calendar directed at the black community entitled "The 2005 Republican Freedom Calendar." Read the promotional bullsh*t:
    The History of the Republican Party is as remarkable as it is untold. In commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Republican Party, the Republican Policy Committee has produced the 2005 Republican Freedom Calendar, to put some of the many important Republican achievements in advancing civil rights before today's students, families, and citizens from all walks of life who wish to be better informed about our national heritage.

    While the Dixicrats of the civil rights era have a lot to be ashamed of, take a look at what some of interesting facts left out of the calendar and the incredible "crafted" information inserted about the GOP's role during that time period...all on your dime. Info from (AlterNet):
    Thanks to House Blend reader Paul for the pointer.


    Protesting Bush's inauguration...hail to the thief, part II


    why...Why...WHY??

    There are a lot of options for folks out there that want to make a statement about unhappiness with another four years of Chimpy on January 20th. In addition to "Not One Damn Dime Day" (where you are encouraged not to spend any money as a protest), there are calls to fast, pray, skip work and wear black, according to a story in USA Today.
    The Florida recount energized protesters at Bush's 2001 inauguration. The primary motivator this time is the war in Iraq. Sgt. Scott Fear of the U.S. Park Police said authorities expect an activity level "very similar to last time." He said two of six protest permits went to groups supportive of Bush, the rest to opponents.

    Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), is putting up bleachers in a park along the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route. They'll be filled with opponents of the Iraq war, including veterans, elected officials, religious leaders and families that have lost relatives in Iraq.

    Brian Becker, national coordinator of the protest, says 10,000 people will fit in the park and it is the first time the anti-war movement has had its own bleachers. But he calls that only "a partial victory," contending inaugural organizers have severely limited public access along the rest of the parade route. ANSWER filed a court challenge to the restrictions Friday.

    Leaders of TurnyourbackonBush.org also are concerned about limited space for public viewing. National organizer Jet Heiko says the group expects thousands of people from 41 states to travel here for a silent protest along the parade route. They have been told to leave anti-Bush buttons, banners and signs at home. They will signal their opposition to Bush's policies by turning their backs as his motorcade passes.

    The day promises to be a series of contrasts between gentility and abandon. Anarchist Resistance Call to Action says it plans to "bring anarchy to the streets of DC" during Bush's "coronation." Bicyclists plan to gather at Union Station, near the Capitol, for a "counter-inaugural critical mass bike ride" to protest sites around town. The D.C. Anti-War Network (DAWN) is calling for "non-violent civil disobedience die-ins to draw attention to the dead at the hands of the Bush administration."

    At the Jefferson Memorial, ReDefeatBush is sponsoring a question-and-answer session on democracy featuring Thomas Jefferson and Alexis de Tocqueville impersonators. At the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, the satirical cabaret group Billionaires for Bush ("activists for the corporate elite") will auction off Social Security, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and "other public properties that need to be corporatized."

    ... There's also a candlelight vigil sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee. It's part of "Eyes Wide Open," a traveling exhibit that uses boots, shoes and a 24-foot wall of names to symbolize troops and civilians killed in Iraq.


    What is the price of a soldier's life? $12,420.

    Uncle Sam gives the family $12,420. Even worse, the life insurance benefit maximum offered is only $250K, which those in the military pay $20/month for. How f*cking ungrateful is this Pentagon? Senators are looking at ways to address this shameful treatment of the military family. (WTimes):
    Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, are sponsoring a bill to increase the instant death gratuity payment for troops killed in combat zones from $12,420 to $100,000. The bill also calls for raising the payout from the Serviceman's Group Life Insurance (SGLI) to $400,000 from the current $250,000.

    Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen has a proposal of his own simply to raise the death gratuity to $100,000, and several other senators have said they are interested in other bills to help families of troops killed while serving. The Sessions-Lieberman bill will be introduced when Congress reconvenes after the presidential inauguration.

    ...Right now, any member of the active duty, National Guard or Reserve forces who dies in combat receives a lump-sum payment of $12,420, available within two or three days, that can help cover immediate expenses. That dollar figure was raised from $6,000 in the last defense-authorization bill.

    Many members of the armed services pay $20 a month for life insurance coverage of $250,000. The Sessions-Lieberman bill would boost that maximum coverage to $400,000 and have the government pay for the first $150,000 of coverage for troops in a combat zone.

    D. Michael Duggan, deputy director for national security and foreign relations for the American Legion, said they support the increases, particularly in the lump-sum benefit.

    "A lot of families are finding out $12,000 is not enough, but how much more? " he said. "The cost of a funeral is higher, plus other unpaid bills which the family -- i.e., widows, grieving widows -- have to pay up. How are they going to pay the immediate rent? How are they going to pay groceries? They need that money right away, in a lump sum."

    Here's a little reminder of what the government has seen fit to spend taxpayers' dollars on in this war.



    * Halliburton Iraq Contracts Pass $10 Billion Mark

    * Contrack International had $325m contract before it blew out of town for security concerns;

    * now has won a $63.9 million US Army building deal in Afghanistan

    * Bechtel contract for reconstruction projects -- $1.03 billion.

    * An estimated $2 billion goes into paying for security and insurance costs.

    * The United States has spent $2.6 billion to purchase 50 troubled planes which do not meet the Air Force’s requirements.




    LGBT News Roundup, 1/17/2005

    [NOTE: This is an early release on the House Blend of a weekly Daily Kos roundup diary that I post. It will be up today.]

    Let's start off with the good news...



    Gay rights bill passes Illinois House, ready for gov's signature. Gov. Rod Blagojevich vowed to sign gay rights legislation that won House approval Tuesday afternoon and would ban workplace and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. "This truly is a landmark day in Illinois. This legislation sends a clear message that we will not allow our citizens to be discriminated against," Blagojevich said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to signing this bill." Upon signing, Illinois would become the 15th state to adopt gay rights legislation.

    Dems Tell Bush To Lay Off Gays. The DNC in its Pride at the Polls newsletter to more than 100,000 party supporters calls on President Bush to abandon his call for the amendment and to tell House Majority Leader Tom Delay to " stop discriminating against Americans...In an interview on Good Morning America one week before the election, (story) Bush said that he didn't think "we should deny people rights to a civil union [or] a legal arrangement if that's what a state chooses to do." Bush then went on to call "wrong" and disagree with the portion of the Republican platform that opposed extending to gay and lesbian families "legal recognition and the accompanying benefits." It's good news, but it also pissed me off because of the many elected Dems that haven't the balls to publicly speak about gay issues, so I vented in the diary DNC petition to Bush: lay off gays.


    Mel Watt (D-N.C.) with Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) at recent funeral services for Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress (Photo By Jenny Warburg)

    NC's Mel Watt: reframing gay rights for voters. I went and found an interview with an actual living, breathing, elected Democrat in a Red state that knows exactly how to frame this issue -- on the record -- Congressman Mel Watt, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus. He's a strong liberal representative from the 12th district (Charlotte) of the Tar Heel state. He talked about the challenge of the Democrats to reach and retain the religious (and non-religious) black vote in an excellent interview in the progressive Triangle-area newspaper The Independent Weekly by Barbara Solow, Reframing the issues. Watt tells Dems not to avoid talking about gay issues because of their queasiness; while he's addressing this in the context of the black vote, it applies equally to voters across the board that need to be convinced that civil liberties for gays are a good thing.

    Spokane's 'creative class' plans to build a gay district. Gay activists in this staid Eastern Washington city are planning to create a neighborhood of gay-oriented homes, businesses and nightlife, which religious conservatives complain will be at odds with Spokane's family-oriented culture. A gay district would signal that Spokane is tolerant and progressive, proponents contend, the type of community that can attract the so-called "creative class" that will build the economy of tomorrow. Community Impact Spokane, a network of evangelical Christians, is appalled. "A gay Mecca is not what we'd like to see Spokane marketed as," said Penny Lancaster, director of the group. "I'd rather see us promoted as a conservative, family-oriented community without any reference to sexual orientation."


    Big cheers for ally OR Governor Ted Kulongoski.

    Oregon Gov. to promote gay civil rights, civil unions. In his "state-of-the-state" address to a joint session of the Legislature Monday Kulongoski said he would submit a bill this year to "defend social justice, tolerance and diversity." The speech marked the opening of the 2005 session of the Legislature. "We also face a great moral challenge: To make sure that opportunity is an open door through which every citizen can pass — not a revolving door that turns for some and doesn't budge for others," Kulongoski told lawmakers. "This is a moral challenge because if we do not defend social justice, tolerance and diversity — then the progress we make on the economic front will be bought with compromised principles and a weakened human spirit," Kulongoski said. "That is not a trade-off I can accept."

    Gay Rights Groups Find Common Ground. America's often fractious LGBT civil rights groups have put aside their differences and on Wednesday announced they would work more closely to achieve major civil rights goals. In a joint statement by more than 20 national organizations the country's leading rights groups pledged to work towards a common goal. Among the groups signing the declaration were the Human Rights Campaign - the nation's largest LGBT rights organization - and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, its oldest. Log Cabin Republicans and Stonewall Democrats also signed on. The list includes GLAAD, the ACLU, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. It also includes Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights both of which are involved in a number of suits to win gay marriage rights.

    Other signatories include the Equality Federation, Freedom to Marry, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (which won the Massachusetts gay marriage case), Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute, the Mautner Project, National Association of LGBT Community Centers, the National Center for Transgender Equality, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, National Youth Advocacy Coalition, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the National Latino/Hispanic LGBT Leadership.

    Opposing Gay Marriage Bans Had Little Effect On Incumbents Study Shows. A new examination of how incumbents fared at the polls last November shows that lawmakers who opposed amendments to state constitutions banning gay marriage met with little opposition.

    Move To Protect Gay Students In Texas. Three Texas Democrats have filed a bill to protect students from discrimination based on such things as race, religion, and sexual orientation.



    Gay Students of Color Hold First National Conference. Called the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Students of Color National Summit, it is taking place at Ohio State University in Columbus on January 15-17. The conference was organized with the help of the United States Student Association Foundation. This is a great precedent, because the visibility of gay black Americans on MLK's birthday is so meaningful. With burgeoning homophobia in the community, especially in black churches, the ability for these students to gather and talk about the issues that affect them. Coretta Scott King is strongly in favor of gay civil rights and marriage, but her daughter Bernice is not -- so even within this family dedicated to racial civil rights, it's clear that an open and honest discussion about what it is like to be both black and gay needs to occur.



    Sharpton speaks out against black homophobes. African Americans were taken in by a "con" game by Republicans last November former presidential candidate Al Sharpton said. Speaking to parishioners at Atlanta's Butler Street Christian Methodist Episcopal on Sunday, Sharpton said Bush manipulated the gay marriage debate to draw attention away from the Iraq war and his domestic problems. "I think George Bush manipulated a lot of religious feelings about marriage when the president has little or nothing to do with marriage," Sharpton said. "The president cannot order what marriage is for men or women," Sharpton said.

    Good for him. People like the hateful, allegedly Christian Patrick Wooden, Sr. of Raleigh's Upper Room Church of God need to hear this.


    Rabid wingnut homo-bigot preachers on the loose.


    Two loons -- Michael Marcavage of Repent America, and possible future governor of Alabama Roy "slab-o-ten-commandments" Moore.

    Leader of "Repent America" group cites 'spiritual battle' against gays. These evangelists are facing up to 47 years in prison for protesting at a gay pride event in Philly. He's on a mission...Sane or not? You decide. Michael Marcavage is the founder and leader of a conservative Christian group called Repent America, he faces felony charges in a case that is drawing attention from like-minded organizations around the country. Marcavage is accused of disrupting a gay and lesbian celebration in October, though he says he was simply voicing his religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. He faces felony charges of riot, criminal conspiracy and ethnic intimidation - Pennsylvania's version of a hate crime - and five misdemeanor counts including disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment. His thoughts on homosexuality: "We must go out into the world and declare the word of God in front of the abortuaries and sexually perverse establishments, and at the homosexual parades and other sin celebrations and call them to repentance."



    Pope focuses on anti-gay message for 2005. Pope John Paul II unequivocally condemned gay marriage and weighed in on a host of other social questions on Monday in a strongly worded message meant to define the position and agenda of the Roman Catholic Church. "Today the family is often threatened by social and cultural pressures that tend to undermine its stability; but in some countries the family is also threatened by legislation which - at times directly - challenge its natural structure, which is and must necessarily be that of a union between a man and a woman founded on marriage." Shouldn't the priority be on the church's own internal scandals that have really harmed the family -- the molestation of innocent children, and the massive cover-up and settlements? I guess that would be too obvious; it's easier to gay-bash.


    President of Center for Military Readiness, Elaine Donnelly says Americans "expect the Bush Administration to implement military personnel policies that reflect sound priorities, not social engineering".

    Wingnut Agape Press: "Expert" Doubts Polls Showing Public Favors Homosexuals in Military. I added the quotes to "expert" in the headline, BTW, because the assessment by fundy American Family Association's "news" organ of what an expert is on this issue is questionable. Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, believes the Gallup poll results came about because too many Americans believe homosexuals are already allowed to serve in the military. "The fact that there is any support at all, or any apparent support for open homosexuality in the military, I'm sure, has a lot to do with the fact that people think that is the situation right now," she says.


    Bishop Eugene Robinson of New Hampshire.

    Intolerant Anglicans call for church "apology" for electing gay U.S. bishop. The leaders of the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the worldwide Anglican faith, went into closed door meetings in Salt Lake City Wednesday over demands that the Church "apologize" for the election of a gay bishop.



    Lutheran decision splits on gay clergy. A Lutheran task force handed a victory to homosexual rights groups yesterday by recommending that although the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America should not change its policy against ordaining homosexual clergy, it should not censure churches that break the rule. But "those who feel conscience-bound to call people [as pastors] in committed same-sex unions should refrain from making the call a media event either as an act of defiance or with the presumption of being prophetic," the task force warned...Bishop James Mauney of ELCA's Virginia Synod said he did not see "a basis for affirming homosexual behavior within Scripture or our Lutheran confessions." He added, "Nowhere do I see in the Scriptures where Jesus condones the practice of the tax collectors or the woman caught in adultery or the life of the rich young ruler, though we are told he loves him in the Gospel of Mark."

    General corporate, legislative, legal and community activism by your jolly neighborhood homophobes...



    Bush won't push for gay marriage ban in Senate, then he flip-flops under fire and clarifies: White House Again Backs Amendment on Marriage. The fact of the matter is that it doesn't matter what Bush does, since the Right is perfectly positioned, with so many local legislatures under GOP wingnut control, to continue rolling out the hateful, anti-gay marriage protection amendments around the country. Many of these will pass unless there is a herculean effort, in dollars and activism/outreach, to defeat the tidal wave of religious Right efforts.

    Bank of America survey asks workers about sexual orientation. How about this for workplace privacy? People can still legally be fired for being gay. So why on earth would Bank of America want to survey its staff to disclose their sexual orientation? As you will see in the SF Gate article, the online survey can be traced to individual workstations, so it's not an anonymous survey, and even worse, it is mandatory -- "N/A" isn't an option. If this is the way to develop a tolerance policy, it's boneheaded.


    Kansas State Senators Dennis Wilson, homo-bigot (l) and ally John Vratil.

    Kansas Senate Adopts Ban on Civil Marriage, Civil Unions for Gays. Yet more bad news in the home state of Fred Phelps. A proposed amendment to ban civil marriage for gays that will also ban civil unions or any other legal recognition of same-sex relationships has passed the State Senate and is moving on to the House. This is in the mold of the current Virginia and Ohio amendments. The measure declares that only couples in a union of one man and one woman would be entitled to benefits normally associated with marriage. "Can we be sure that no activist judges or officials exist in Kansas?" said Sen. Dennis Wilson, R-Overland Park, who voted for the measure. "An amendment to our constitution is the only way to protect the sacred institution." Critics consider the proposed amendment discriminatory. "Never before in the history of our state have we added an amendment to the constitution that proactively discriminates against people," said Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, an opponent of the measure. "The people we're discriminating against are not a threat to my marriage or your marriage. They're not a threat to our children."

    Kansas Senate Passes Gay Marriage Amendment. Senators adopted a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution on Thursday that bans same-sex marriage and prevents the state from allowing civil unions or granting other legal recognition to gay relationships.

    Arizona Gay Marriage Foes Plan New Tactic. Arizona conservatives saying they don't trust Republicans or Democrats to push through a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage said Thursday they'll mount their own drive.

    Pentagon Withheld True Number Of Fired Gay Linguists. Records obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request show that the military misled the public and discharged three times the number of gay Arabic linguists that it had said.

    Louisiana Gov. Backtracks On Gay Order. In the face of opposition from GOP lawmakers Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco is backtracking on what her executive order prohibiting employment discrimination against gay and lesbian state workers exactly means.



    Supremes set back gay adoption. The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday by four men who challenged Florida's ban on adoption by gay couples, avoiding another contentious fight over gay rights. Florida is the only state with a blanket law prohibiting homosexuals from adopting children, but the high court was told that other states could now feel free to copy the ban. Opponents argued that the 1977 law, passed at the height of Anita Bryant's anti-homosexual campaign, was irrational because it excluded potential parents for thousands of abandoned children. Supporters contend the state has the power to promote traditional father-mother families. Florida allows gays to be foster parents, but not permanent parents. BONUS: if you want to see how the Freepers reacted to this, visit my blog.



    up2date: Gay Bashing is official business in Alabama (diary by up2date). Marshall County Alabama is truly a scary place to be if you're of color or gay, listening to Sheriff Mac Holcomb. I'm sure he has a sheet with eyeholes cut out down at the dry cleaners...From the Marshall County Web site: "I am proud to be an American and that I was fortunate enough to be born in Alabama. The state that has its motto "We dare defend our rights". I was raised in era, the 1940's as a child and the 1950's as a teenager, which I remember with great affection. Men were men and women were women and there was no mistaking which was which. Both were proud of their individual roles. Homosexuality was very queer and a despicable act... an abomination."


    VA Del. Samuel Nixon, Jr. and Sen. Mark Obenshain.

    Wingnut bill would ban gay news from Virginia libraries. Virginia's giving Alabama a run for its money when it comes to intolerance and legislative wingnuttery. It's got to be tough to be gay in either state, with all the Right wing proposals to restrict rights, and now information on library computers. Two bills that would require any public library that receives state funds to install filtering software on its computers could result in a ban on sites providing gay community news and information. The lawmakers who have proposed the legislation say it is necessary to protect children from unwittingly stumbling across pornography while using the Internet at their local libraries. Opponents of the legislation argue that it amounts to censorship, and relies on imperfect technology that can block legitimate sites on such topics as abortion or gay rights.


    This time Shirley Franklin is at the mercy of the GA legislature. Wingnut Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) has submitted a bill to repeal the city's gay rights ordinances.

    Gay folks in Atlanta, it looks like you are going to have to fight for your rights, AGAIN. Yes, it's more than a lawsuit about obtaining spousal benefits for gay partners at a country club now. The Right wants to trash Atlanta's human rights ordinance, and *ss-wipe Earl Ehrhart, the man behind the country club dispute is leading the charge. It's a sad day when a progressive Southern city like Atlanta is under siege by the religious whack jobs. These few islands of tolerance and freedom are going to be under constant attack by the American Taliban.



    Davis reintroduces bill to ban gay marriage in D.C.. Republican congresswoman Jo Ann Davis of Virginia reintroduced her bill seeking to prohibit the District of Columbia from legalizing same-sex marriage on Jan. 6. Although Davis’ bill died in committee last year, gay activists and Capitol Hill observers say the approval by voters of ballot initiatives banning same-sex marriage in 11 states in the November election could generate more interest in the Davis bill this year. “I wish I could say I’m optimistic that we can defeat it, but I’m not,” said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is gay. “The Republicans have clearly decided that this is a great issue for them to ride.”

    Liberty Counsel’s Mathew Staver is a rising star of religious conservatives. The new face of the right. Staver, the founder and president of the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, and an increasingly influential player in the religious right’s efforts to stop gay marriage, has been involved in trying to thwart more than 30 gay marriage lawsuits nationwide. DKos diary on this: Falwell legal "ministry" has a 50-state agenda



    Three of the Illinois holdouts/naysayers -- Chapin Rose, Roger Eddy, and Bill Mitchell.

    Sore wingnuts on the losing end of the Illinois gay rights vote (same article as above). "I voted 'no' because this is a backdoor way of legalizing gay marriage. This bill is going to be nothing but litigation for the next decade," said state Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet. State Rep. Roger Eddy, R-Hustonville, shared a similar concern about how the proposal is construed by a liberal Supreme Court. "Not to say that I think those folks should not be treated well, (I believe) that they should not be discriminated against, but I think this is more of an issue of as to what the next step is," Eddy said. State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, was concerned that the proposal created a special class of people. "I just don't like how we segment society now, we're segmenting now based on sexual orientation," Mitchell said. "We all as American citizens have certain basic rights, but now we're categorizing people, and I just think it's a dangerous turn."

    ===

    Other newsworthy items




    Homeland nominee reversed 'gay' asylum. (via RawStoryQ) Homeland Security chief nominee Michael Chertoff was a judge in this case. "In a ruling that shows how difficult the conservative federal courts and the homeland security hierarchy have made it for foreign gays to win asylum here, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in Philadelphia, ruled on November 18 against an asylum petition by a gay man from Jamaica, a notoriously homophobic nation, even though an immigration judge had ruled in the petitioner’s favor. Chertoff: “The question boils down to this,” he wrote: “Was there substantial evidence that the government is not unable or unwilling to control violence against gays?” Describing the question as “close,” Chertoff said, “We cannot conclude that the board’s conclusion was unreasonable. Although Jamaican society evidently takes a harsh view of homosexuality, there is some evidence—including Detective Garrick’s letter—that officials recognize that violence against gays is unacceptable. We cannot say that the board weighed this evidence unreasonably.”

    Your tax dollars: Pentagon and the 'homo' bomb. It's nice to see your tax dollars hard at work. The Pentagon reveals rejected chemical weapons that makes you wonder whether we've underestimated the insane thinking that goes on in Washington. The gist of the New Scientist article is that the Pentagon was trying to think up some creative, non-lethal ways to disarm enemy troops. One bright idea was for..."the development of an "aphrodisiac" chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. Provoking widespread homosexual behaviour among troops would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale, the proposal says."

    Long-time gay activist Laurie Linton succumbs to cancer. New York lost one of its best-known and well-liked gay activists when Laurie Linton died of cancer on Jan. 10 at age 46. Linton is survived by her brother Robert and the many friends she made over the years while in school, at work for various gay and human-rights organizations.

    Daily Kos diaries to check out:

    DNC petition to Bush: lay off gays

    MAJeff: Democrats discussing gay issues

    timerigger: Same-Sex Marriage w/Poll

    MAJeff: Homophobia and National Security

    jiffykeen: Gay Ban jeopardizes Battered Women




    Freeperland, home of the all-American misogynist

    Sunday, January 16, 2005

    Most unmarried women voted for Kerry. An unremarkable article about the fact that unmarried women turned out in record numbers for Kerry set off a Freeperstorm of misogyny. More on that a bit later. First read the WTimes piece:
    Unmarried women turned out in record numbers in last year's election and voted overwhelmingly for Sen. John Kerry, while President Bush captured the majority of married women's votes, including a group that Kerry supporters had hoped to attract — married women without college degrees.

    Single women were one of the few demographic groups to increase their share of the electorate last election, according to a report by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

    "Unmarried women played an important part in this election," said Democratic strategist and pollster Stanley Greenberg, who helped compile and analyze the report data. "I think they're the future."

    This just opened the door for the usual ignorant, hate-filled comments by Freepers. It's scary that these people are able to vote (or get a date, or even more frightening, procreate)...


    Actual Freeper Quotes™:
    "There's a reason these women are unmarried."

    "Not this unmarried woman. I think the term "Welfare Queens" would be the better term to use."

    "Most unhairyed women voted for Bush."

    "What a load of cr*p! I know a lot of unmarried women and not one of them were voting for Kerry. The Old Media's B.S. continues...

    "Not conservative chicks like us... the clipped haired mean faced hags of the left."

    "...they gots to have they benefits; if I were a loser, I'd probably vote for the putz, too. At least 37% of them showed some good sense."

    "It would be interesting to see how many of these unmarried women are childless, wouldn't it?"

    "A convergence of the lesbian vote, the most likely to need an abortion vote, and the most likely to end up on welfare vote."

    "I attended a rally once, when a young woman passed by and screamed at me: "You're a WOMAN! HOW CAN YOU VOTE REPUBLICAN???" I take this the same way. I think many of them are childless, and want the option to remain childless in case of an "accident". I honestly think that's what it's about for most of them. (That's my hunch, anyway.)"

    "Do you mean the ones that sorta look like "ahem" boys?, LOL"

    "Ahhhh, the slut and bull-dyke man-hater factor."

    "if unmarried women are the future this country has indeed gone straight to hell. there is nothing on this earth more ornery, unhappy, undersexed, self-righteous, or leftist than an unmarried woman (as a category..i know there are exceptions).

    go to washington and check out all the "professional class" unmarried women and see for yourself. they are pathetic. nobody wants them and they refused to give up their careers for a husband and family because they are virulent feminists who dont think that they should be required to give up their career for the sake of a family. once they turn 40, they turn bitter because they dont want to admit they made a mistake but at the same time they want something other than their volvo, their lonely townhouse, and their pathetic "career." its so easy to spot them."

    "Ding ding and bingo! Single mothers...one of the largest and most predictable bunch of looters around. My workplace is infested with them."

    "Yes, and chances are that between darwin and planned parenthood they are a problem that will resolve themselves."


    Bush won't push for gay marriage ban in Senate



    I hope that Falwell and Dobson are listening. YOU HAVE OFFICIALLY BEEN SH*T ON. He used your grassroots support to win, and now he's leaving you in the dust. I also hope the White House is going to circle the wagons, because the religious Right is going to begin an assault on it like we have never seen. I can't wait to grab some Freeper comments. (AFP):
    President George W. Bush (news - web sites) will not actively seek to ban gay marriage in the United States during his second term in office, a stance certain to anger the social conservatives who helped re-elect him. The Washington Post asked Bush if he would aggressively lobby senators during his second term in office to pass an amendment outlawing marriage in all 50 states.

    "I do believe it's necessary," Bush said Sunday. But he went on to imply that pursuing it in the US Senate, which must approve a constitutional amendment by 67 of its 100 votes, would be futile. Many Senators think the Defense of Marriage Act, an existing law that allows states not to recognize gay marriages enacted in other states, is sufficient, according to Bush.

    "The point is, is that Senators have made it clear that so long as DOMA is deemed constitutional, nothing will happen. I'd take that admonition seriously," Bush told the Post.


    Now, having done a brief happy dance about this, the fact of the matter is that the Right is perfectly positioned, with so many local legislatures under GOP wingnut control, to continue rolling out the hateful, anti-gay marriage protection amendment around the country. Many of these will pass unless there is a herculean effort, in dollars and activism/outreach, to defeat the tidal wave of religious Right efforts.


    Liberals Will Save America

    You must read the kick-ass blog entry byShakespeare's Sister, "Liberals Will Save America". She eloquently blasts the conservative movement's bullsh*t that liberals hate America, when in fact, the wingnuts have done all they can to destroy what makes our country great. The bottom line, she says, is that conservatives want...
    ...a country where their views are imposed upon everyone. (Differences among their own ranks, making this implausible even were all Liberals to disappear, do not register.) Only having rid the country of minorities, gays, feminists, evolutionists, atheists, pacifists, abortionists, stem cell researchers, the poor, the needy, the infirm, immigrants, environmentalists, animal rights activists, non-Christians, and anyone else who disagrees with them could they be happy. Or such is their claim. But without anyone upon whom to pass judgment, I wonder how long such contentment could possibly last.

    In the end, most Americans love what they think America can be, whether that vision is of an oasis from racism, a world leader in humanitarianism, a capitalist beacon, a theocracy, or anything else. But there are two main views—that of a country full of opportunities for control and power concentrated in the hands of a few, or that of a country full of opportunities for individual freedom, from which a collective strength can be drawn.

    The Conservative view ultimately benefits a very small minority; the Liberal view benefits us all. That’s why Liberals are right, and as soon as we learn to effectively communicate that message, it’s why Liberals will save America.


    Congressman Mel Watt (NC): framing gay rights for the black community


    Mel Watt (D-N.C.) with Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) at recent funeral services for Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress (Photo By Jenny Warburg)

    There was a lot of interesting discussion yesterday on DKos regarding the Democratic establishment's aversion to addressing civil rights for gays in a public forum. Here are three diaries that took this topic on:

    * my own: DNC petition to Bush: lay off gays
    * MAJeff's Democrats discussing gay issues
    * timerigger's Same-Sex Marriage w/Poll

    So I went and found an interview with an actual living, breathing, elected Democrat in a Red state that knows exactly how to frame this.

    Congressman Mel Watt is now the head of the Congressional Black Caucus. He's a strong liberal representative from the 12th district (Charlotte) of the Tar Heel state. He talked about the challenge of the Democrats to reach and retain the religious (and non-religious) black vote in an excellent interview in the progressive Triangle-area newspaper The Independent Weekly by Barbara Solow, Reframing the issues.

    The GOP has spun this topic to their advantage and run with it, using it as a battering ram to win elections at all levels, while the Dems have sputtered and floundered or just been silent. Watt tells Dems not to avoid talking about gay issues because of their queasiness; while he's addressing this in the context of the black vote, it applies equally to voters across the board that can be convinced that civil liberties for gays are a good thing.

    First of all, we allowed Republicans to say we were advocates of gay marriage rather than framing it as a personal liberty issue or standing up and saying we don't believe in it. We ran away from that; nobody wanted to talk about it, we knew it made people uncomfortable. Instead of having our community engaged in open discussion about it and moving on to other issues or seeing how it related to pocketbook issues, we let the Republicans control the message...You can't avoid these issues. For us to bury our heads in the sand and say these issues aren't to be discussed, that's just unrealistic. We need to be talking about them in our own terms and not allowing [Republicans] to define themselves as the moral arbiters of what's right and wrong.

    What Democratic leadership has failed to see, even as they try to shave votes from the political center, is that the GOP has successfully done the same thing. It's dangerous to think that black voters are blindly loyal to the Democratic party because "they have no other place to go." Yeah they do, and they can also make their displeasure known by sitting out election day. Watt warns that Dems at the national level are asleep at the wheel on this.
    I think they chipped off more black voters than we would have liked for them to chip off. You don't have to chip off a lot of black voters, Republicans have found over the years. Just as the Democrats have found if they chip off some of that center, you don't have to move a lot of voters but you have to move some. We haven't been able to move those voters at the center toward the Democrats. Republicans have been successful in moving some African Americans and progressives on issues of security, religion, abortion, gay marriage. Those issues move enough people or get them wavering enough that they say, 'Well, the election is too difficult. I think I'll just stay home.'

    Solow's article notes that people have always wondered how the voters of North Carolina could keep sending right-wing whack job Jesse Helms to the Senate. According to Watt (in his research while running the failed Harvey Gantt campaign to unseat Helms) there also wasn't one issue that he was a proponent of where the majority of the voters actually agreed with him. People did, however, know where he stood on any issue.


    Jesse Helms, with his lesbian granddaughter (and recently elected district judge in North Carolina), Jennifer Knox Helms.

    I can tell you personally, having written the former Senator, his office excelled in constituent services. Letters were responded to promptly and with specificity to your concern (even if you didn't agree with him). With Helms, he realized his power to be re-elected was gained by fulfilling his state's needs and communicating effectively on a personal level. That level of communication, infused with southern gentility, goes over well here, and will continue to do so.

    The lesson is that reaching people on any issue, including gay rights, is more than putting out a persuasive argument -- your position needs to reach people in a context they can personally relate to. The Democratic Party has failed tremendously on this front because of its silence when it comes to gay issues. See my blog entry on the lame DNC petition that attempts to chastise Bush and the GOP on this topic.

    Watt's wisdom on the semantics of using the term "civil rights" is meaningful when discussing gay rights with the religious black community. You can discuss the topic in the black community without hitting the GOP-defined third rail of religion and morality.
    I never really talk about it in civil rights terms. I talk about it in civil liberties terms, respecting the individual. It's really a personal freedom issue more than a civil rights issue. It's the ability of a person to be who he or she is.... I have cautioned gay groups not to talk about it that way to black people. Black people tend to think of that as the right to vote and have jobs and things they have fought for over the years. I don't want to get into an argument about whether this is a civil right, human right or individual right. It's, Do you believe an individual has a right to be respected?

    And on winning elections, Watt brilliantly notes why it is downright stupid for the Democrats to cede the South to the GOP in a Red State/Blue state strategy, rather than engage with the enemy on difficult issues.
    The unfortunate consequence of dividing red and blue states is that in many of the states that have typically gone to the Republican Party, while white Americans are in the majority, there are substantial minorities of African Americans in all of those states. Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina--all of those states have significant minority populations. When you concede a state, you are doing two things. First, you're conceding that African Americans are not going to have any input into the presidential selection, at least at the Electoral College level. Second, you are not getting those African Americans mobilized in ways that can affect other things down the ticket--statewide races, judicial elections.

    In North Carolina, we are in a red state in how we've been defined on a federal level. But if you look at what happened at the state level, we have a Democratic governor, lieutenant governor--up until recently, the whole council of state was Democratic. By conceding the race at the presidential level, we have made it easier for Republicans to win further down the ticket.

    ***

    Please visit and link to the The Independent Weekly web site for the rest of this important Barbara Solow interview.

    I have a Daily Kos diary up on this.


    See ya, wouldn't want to be ya...

    Saturday, January 15, 2005


    Charles Graner in shackles: "I didn't enjoy anything I did there...A lot of it was wrong, a lot of it was criminal...I can see, to a layperson, a lot of things happen in prison that may look wrong." Duh. Photo: LM Otero/AP.

    Ringleader in Iraqi Prisoner Abuse Is Sentenced to 10 Years (NYT). Charles Graner is going to have plenty of time to think about what he did at Abu Ghraib while he's in a military prison. "Following orders" isn't a defense; I only hope they can go higher up the food chain because more heads have to roll. The jury deliberated for two hours and the sentence busts him down to private, with a dishonorable discharge.


    Kansas Senate Adopts Ban on Civil Marriage, Civil Unions for Gays



    Kansas State Senators Dennis Wilson, homo-bigot (l) and ally John Vratil.

    Yet more bad news in the home state of Fred Phelps. A proposed amendment to ban civil marriage for gays that will also ban civil unions or any other legal recognition of same-sex relationships has passed the State Senate and is moving on to the House. This is in the mold of the current Virginia and Ohio amendments. (TheKansasCityChannel.com):
    The measure declares that only couples in a union of one man and one woman would be entitled to benefits normally associated with marriage. The 28-11 vote sent the measure to the House. Supporters had one vote more than the two-thirds majority necessary for adoption in the 40-member chamber, and they're hoping for a statewide vote April 5.

    Backers of the amendment said it would protect the traditional definition of marriage -- already defined in state statute -- from legal challenges. They also said such unions form strong families and are vital to society.

    "Can we be sure that no activist judges or officials exist in Kansas?" said Sen. Dennis Wilson, R-Overland Park, who voted for the measure. "An amendment to our constitution is the only way to protect the sacred institution."

    Critics consider the proposed amendment discriminatory. "Never before in the history of our state have we added an amendment to the constitution that proactively discriminates against people," said Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, an opponent of the measure. "The people we're discriminating against are not a threat to my marriage or your marriage. They're not a threat to our children."


    Pam's House Blend up for another Koufax: Most Deserving of Wider Recognition

    I didn't know about this until today, but I was visiting over at the highly recommended Shakespeare's Sister, and saw that the "Most Deserving of Wider Recognition" Koufax category had been released. That blog got my vote, btw.

    Visit Wampum: The Koufax Awards, to see the nominations and cast your vote via comment.


    Bank of America asks workers about sexual orientation

    How about this for workplace privacy? People can still legally be fired for being gay. So why on earth would Bank of America want to survey its staff to disclose their sexual orientation? As you will see in the SF Gate article, the online survey can be traced to individual workstations, so it's not an anonymous survey, and even worse, it is mandatory -- "N/A" isn't an option. If this is the way to develop a tolerance policy, it's boneheaded. (SFGate):
    Bank of America is urging its more than 175,000 employees to fill out an online survey about job satisfaction. Question 64 asks respondents to "indicate which one of the following best describes yourself."

    Clicking on the pull-down menu provides four choices:
    -- Heterosexual
    -- Bisexual
    -- Homosexual
    -- Transgendered

    Human resources professionals say it's highly unusual for a company of BofA's size and stature to seek such information. Privacy advocates say that even though BofA insists all survey results are confidential, the reality is that online forms can be traced back to individual workstations. Employees within the bank say they're afraid the information they provide could be used to generalize about the work habits of certain types of people.

    Tara Burke, a BofA spokeswoman, said employees are free to leave the sexual-orientation question blank if they so choose, and they are told as much in the survey. But she said the bank hopes people will answer because it is "committed to fostering an inclusive environment."

    "We strive to ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace where every associate is respected, empowered and rewarded for good work," Burke said.

    She declined to comment on why the survey's pull-down menu doesn't allow respondents the choice of saying that they'd prefer not to answer.

    It's against the law in California to ask job seekers their sexual orientation or to use such information in any way to discriminate against a worker. But state officials say it appears BofA hasn't crossed the line in asking current employees the question in its survey. Janie Siess, assistant deputy director of program and policy development at the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, said it seems that BofA has skirted California's strict privacy laws by permitting workers not to answer the question.

    "The issue here is what Bank of America will use this information for," she said.

    Yes, my question is, what do they need this information for, considering gay people are not protected in many states from discrimination in credit, housing and all kinds of legal situations? The misuse or theft of this information could actually place BoA in a whole sh*tload of trouble in terms of liability. Has anyone in corporate legal gotten a memo on this?
    "We never advise that clients ask," said Larry Comp, a principal at Humanomics, a Southern California management consulting firm. "It's personal, very personal, and it makes employees uncomfortable."

    Ethan Winning, a Walnut Creek management consultant, said it's very strange that BofA would couple a routine employee satisfaction survey with sensitive personal information.

    Along with sexual orientation, the survey asks respondents to specify their gender, race and whether they have a disability.

    "What's the correlation between sexual orientation and whether or not your supervisor fosters a team atmosphere?" Winning asked. "What the hell does a bank care what your sexual orientation is?"

    BofA employees, who asked that their names be withheld for fear of reprisal, said their chief concern is that the company will use the data for profiling purposes based on race or sexual orientation. "What are you going to do, group African Americans together in terms of their opinions?" one manager asked. "Or group gay people together?"

    Another BofA employee cited an internal memo issued earlier this week in which workers were advised to respond to the online survey "during business hours." This person said many colleagues were nervous that the bank would be able to trace individual responses back to specific computers.

    "A lot of people are putting down 'heterosexual' because they think that the bank is able to track it back to them," the employee said.

    Want to ask BoA's spokesperson Tara Burke about the bank's survey? Her email is: tara.a.burke@bankofamerica.com.


    Man charged after fetus dies in collision

    If Scott Peterson can be convicted of killing his wife and their unborn son...(Cincinnati Enquirer):
    A Hamilton man was indicted Friday in the death of a fetus during a road-rage incident in December.

    A Hamilton County grand jury indicted Scott Crandall on Friday on nine charges, including involuntary manslaughter, aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and felonious assault. A warrant has been issued for Crandall's arrest.

    Crandall's indictment stems from a Dec. 8 crash on Harrison Avenue in which two drivers involved in a minor traffic accident got into a fistfight. That sparked Crandall to jump back into his car and ram it into the other driver's car, said Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

    Ebony Foster, a 16-year-old pregnant with a nearly full-term fetus, was a passenger in the car that was rammed, Deters said. The fetus died from blunt-force trauma.

    ...While he was prosecutor 10 years ago, Deters was instrumental in changing Ohio law to make it a crime to kill or harm a fetus.

    The case that sparked that began in 1995, when a driver lost control on Interstate 275 and slammed into a car driven by Suzanne Daly, killing Daly and her fetus. In the months after, her husband, Joseph Daly, and Deters began lobbying for the change.

    Now an Ohio law, named for the Daly family, allows prosecutors to seek a range of charges when a fetus is the victim of a crime.

    These kinds of cases can be intellectually problematic for those of us that are pro-choice, and I think that it this is a good thing. Clearly this fetus was probably going to make it to term, but because the mother had not given birth, it didn't have "personhood" status -- until the passage of these laws protecting a fetus have come into play. What does this mean in the pro-choice/pro-life debate? I am asking this as an honest question -- I am a woman that hasn't had an abortion and known that anguish, or tried to conceive without success (or miscarried several times trying to have a child at various stages of pregnancy). I'd like to hear perspectives on this. How does a story like this make you feel?

    Thanks to House Blend reader Holly for the pointer.


    DNC petition to Bush: stop using gays as political punching bag


    UPDATE (1/15, 8AM): I also have a Recommended Daily Kos diary up on this.

    365Gay.com is reporting that the DNC is calling on Bush to abandon the Federal Marriage Amendment push and to tell the GOP to back off on legislative gay-bashing. That's all well and good, but I want to see some actual, live elected Dems talking about this civil rights issue, not pussyfooting around, jabbering about "leaving the decision to the states" or completely dodging questions about gay rights in order to get elected.


    Gay rights aren't state's rights issues any more than anti-miscegenation laws were -- and both parties know it. It's a feet-to-the-fire moment, and the DNC needs to get its house in order on this issue pronto if they are going to start calling the GOP on their social and political intolerance.

    Don't get me wrong - I applaud the DNC for taking some sort of proactive approach here, but how can they call on the GOP to behave when they cannot get a coherent statement out by all the folks that they helped get elected this year?

    Almost all of them had an unsettling aversion to the subject, as if they just couldn't muster up the courage to say that gay people:


    That said, here's the "official" information on the DNC's petition and its goal.
    The DNC in its Pride at the Polls newsletter to more than 100,000 party supporters calls on President Bush to abandon his call for the amendment and to tell House Majority Leader Tom Delay to " stop discriminating against Americans."

    ...In an interview on Good Morning America one week before the election, (story) Bush said that he didn't think "we should deny people rights to a civil union [or] a legal arrangement if that's what a state chooses to do." Bush then went on to call "wrong" and disagree with the portion of the Republican platform that opposed extending to gay and lesbian families "legal recognition and the accompanying benefits."

    "But Bush can't have it both ways, supporting an amendment that takes away our rights while saying he wants to leave it up to the states," the DNC newsletter says.

    "It is time for Bush to move America forward and come out publicly against this amendment."

    Eric Stern, Director of GLBT Outreach told 365Gay.com that the petition will be delivered to the White House just before the State of the Union Address.

    "We are not going to stand by and let the Republicans in Washington discriminate against GLBT Americans, who have always been an integral part of our party and our country," Stern said.

    "Democrats are ready to fight back for the rights of GLBT Americans."

    [Well, I'll believe that when I actually see some elected and up-for-election Dems in swing states go on the record as being pro-gay. =crickets chirping=]

    Here is the text of the petition:
    Dear President Bush:

    I urge you to use your State of the Union address as an opportunity to tell your Republican friends in Congress to stop trying to write discrimination in the U.S. Constitution.

    The amendment you and your fellow Republicans are again advocating for will forever invalidate civil unions and other legal protections for gay and lesbian families, like the right to partner health benefits, hospital visits, parental rights and death benefits- even if state legislatures or voters approve measures to protect them.

    During the State of The Union, tell your colleagues to withdraw their support for this measure. This measure threatens the freedom of all Americans because it denies civil rights to a whole group of individuals.

    The online form to sign it is here.

    Remember, when cornered, most Dems in close races this past cycle either:
    That's a real strong stand for civil rights, huh? That isn't strategy. The discomfort Dems had embracing the topic was palpable, and the Right picked up on it, ran with it, and stole the frame. [I wrote a DKos diary on this on November 3, The Gay Blame Game -- not just the GOP, and more recently here on the Blend, "I am sick of the Dems having no balls, afraid of the Religious Right".]

    It's going to take time, hard work and communication at the grassroots level to change hearts and minds about gay rights. Silence, wound-licking and strategizing about recapturing the NASCAR vote and security moms by becoming GOP-lite is just plain sick.

    Civil rights are not achieved by showing political cowardice, or by a popular vote -- it will be in the courts. The Right knows this and you see them organizing to get the judges they want on the bench, working the anti-gay the message hard through the church (moderating the tone enough to be palatable to pass onerous legislation). Say "protecting marriage", not "denial of rights to a group of Americans." It worked every time. Dem leadership was either too afraid or too dimwitted to think outside the box on this one. We call the Right stupid all the time (myself included), but they are formidable in their ability to clarify and communicate with its "target audience."

    Dems should seriously begin talking about gay civil rights and reframe it NOW -- they need to start actually believing in their own platform enough to talk about it.

    We cannot wait for the media to ask what our politicians' stance on the issue is -- we have to lead the way, offense, not defense. When you see talking heads on discussing gay issues, it's the Falwell/Dobson crowd on the Right eagerly spouting off their well-honed positions, and usually some rep from a gay organization of some sort on the other side. When will there be major elected Dems out there front and center taking these people on to reframe gay civil rights, or promote the DNC's stance on it?

    ***

    I hope folks remember that it was in most American's lifetimes that there were "Public Dems" asking blacks to be patient about civil rights while on people down South were being fire hosed and Bull Connor's dogs were being sicced on them.

    It's the same f*cking political mentality now. "Be patient" while the Scotty Joe Weavers of the world are beaten, strangled, stabbed, mutilated, partially decapitated, dumped in the woods and set on fire. [See Alabama: the worst place to be gay in Bush's America?] We're talking about human beings, not a policy paper.


    Martha Weaver holds a photo of her son Scotty Joe Weaver who was murdered in Pine Grove, Alabama, during the summer of 2004. Photo from OUT Magazine.

    The discussion continues in another diary on DKos by MAJeff, Democrats discussing gay issues.





    Hog Heaven for Bush: No Limits for Inaugural Fund-Raisers

    Guess who's on the list of fat cats contributing to the pomp and circumstance? I posted a list of Inauguration suck-ups a little while back. This NYT article takes a look at the cash generator, Mercer Reynolds. (NYT):
    President Bush's top fund-raisers, who gathered a record sum in a marathon campaign, have shown that they can sprint, as well, collecting up to $40 million in six weeks for the inaugural celebrations.

    ...With so much money to raise in such a short time, Mr. Bush turned to his most prodigious fund-raisers. Chief among them is Mr. Reynolds, a longtime friend and supporter of the president who presided over the most effective money machine in presidential history.

    "Mercer is really his nickname," said Al Hoffman of Florida, an inaugural fund-raiser who also contributed $100,000. "His real name is Merciless.

    ...The committee took advantage of campaign finance laws that allowed companies, which are prevented from contributing to candidates during the election, to donate freely to the inauguration and offered packages that include premium tickets to the festivities and special events with the president.

    ...Military contractors including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, which have lobbyists working on a wide range of topics like government appropriations and weapons systems, each gave $100,000, records show.

    Energy firms like ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobile, Occidental Petroleum and the Southern Company, whose interests encompass environmental legislation and the energy bill that has been stalled in Congress, each gave $250,000.

    Technology firms including Microsoft and Oracle, with interests in patents, software licensing and cybersecurity, gave $100,000 each. Transportation companies, including Union Pacific, which gave $100,000, and the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway, which gave $250,000, monitor issues like railway safety.

    Major Republican benefactors also responded like Alex Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers football team, and T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oil magnate. They supported Republicans heavily in the election and each gave $250,000 to the inauguration.


    Ex-aide: Dr. King would have approved of same-sex marriage. Freepers wig out.



    Jack O'Dell, former Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) activist and aide to Dr. King, thinks Martin Luther King would have fully supported civil marriage for gays. [Coretta Scott King agrees, see item at the end.] (WTimes):
    Speaking of King's "Christian commitment to a socially conscious democracy," former Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) activist Jack O'Dell asked, "Why would he exclude people because of their sexual preference?"

    The homosexual rights movement is "another dimension of the struggle for human rights," Mr. O'Dell said at an annual observance of King's birth, held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. He described as "unconscionable" the November passage of ballot initiatives against same-sex "marriage" in 11 states.

    An October survey by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that blacks were more likely than whites to oppose recognition of same-sex "marriage": 46 percent of blacks and 37 percent of whites said they opposed any recognition of homosexual unions; 29 percent of whites and 23 percent of blacks favored it.

    The article, from the Moonie, wingnut Washington Times, also critically refers to O'Dell's colorful political history as a Communist, more specifically with quotes affiliating him with the "far pro-communist left of the '50s." As you might expect, the cretins in Freeperland had much to say about this.


    Actual Freeper Quotes™:
    "I don't agree that King would accepted gay marriage. In face, the dems won't mention it, but a lot of black Baptists voted for Bush because of the gay marriage and abortion issues."

    "and John F. Kennedy would have supported adultery laws."

    "Well of course King was homosexual. He was trying to emulate his hero Lincoln. (I'll bet this thesis would get someone a book deal nowadays)."

    "I don't think so. When the Gay guy down the street gets into his $55,000 dollar Mercedes and drives away from his $400,000 dollar condo and complains he just doesn't have any rights...makes me wanna barf."

    "Kennedy was gay. All that fooling around with Monroe or whomever rumor was cover up."

    "He may not have have excluded gays. But he also wouldn't have condoned the gay life style"

    "I believe Mr. O'Dell is correct. I think it would be fitting if we combine the MLK birthday celebration with Gay and Lesbian Day."

    "And he might have given up working for civil rights to pursue video games full time with the advent of the Atari. We'll never know; he's dead..."

    "Gee Whiz, maybe We should drop the charges against Mikey Jackson!"

    "So with the same "logic" one must conclude Dr. King would be pro-life? For without question the struggle for an unborn chlid to escape its murderous parents and procedure provider and simply live is "another dimension of the struggle for human rights...."

    "You mean the struggle for human "sin". And you will never convince me that Dr. King would have condoned sin."

    "The plagurist himself? Womanizer too so I've heard.

    This is one holiday that we must do away with. I've no problem with a civil rights holiday but we're forced to celebrate this fella, and in CA add in Caesar Chavez, and that great emancipator Abe Lincoln gets lumped into President's Day with the likes of Jimmy Carter & Bill Clinton? Doesn't seem right. It's unAmerican, multi-cultural panderism, part of the great socialist brainwashing. Go read Mein Kampf and "book 2" reads like a Democrat playbook."

    ***



    (AP):
    Coretta Scott King, a longtime supporter of gay rights, has often invoked her late husband's teachings while advocating tolerance and equality for homosexuals. Most recently, she denounced a proposed national constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in a speech at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

    'Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union,' she said in her March 23 address. 'A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages.'

    The Kings' youngest child, Bernice King, took a very different stand when she helped lead thousands of people in an Atlanta march last month that drew national attention for its anti-gay agenda.

    The march, organized by Bishop Eddie Long and his 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, also advocated other issues, including education reform and affordable health care, but the first goal listed by the church was to push for a constitutional amendment to 'fully protect marriage between one man and one woman.'...She has repeatedly declined interview requests made by The Associated Press over the past month.

    'Bernice says herself that she knows deep within that her father did not march and did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage,' said Alveda C. King, niece of the slain civil rights leader and founder of the faith-based King for America Inc.



    As I said earlier today, I'll be writing an entry on the black church and homosexuality soon. There is a great article by Rev. Carl Kenney in our local progressive paper, The Independent, that's thought provoking, especially in light of MLK day.


    "W" is for Whacked - Concerned Women for America on Feminism

    Friday, January 14, 2005


    Unhinged CWA mouthpiece, Janice Shaw Crouse (l) and her idol, CWA wax museum piece Beverly LaHaye.

    "W" is also for wingnut. Janice Shaw Crouse is a former Bush speech writer (strike 1), and executive director and senior fellow to Beverly LaHaye's conservative women's organization Concerned Women for America (strike 2). Of course they wouldn't be labeled feminist; but they've benefited from the feminist movement even as they wish to march us back into the bedroom and kitchen, subservient to men.

    Her bizarre article, "Tough and Tougher, Meet Toughest" has the most ridiculous subhead:"While feminists became fat cats, conservative women have become the toughest gals around." (Strike 3).

    (Concerned Women for America):
    Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, has said that the next four years under a Bush administration are going to be “tough” for the feminists and that they are just going to have to be “tougher.” Well, conservative women, who have been marginalized, stereotyped, put-down, and humiliated at every turn over the past couple of decades, have gone through tough and tougher and, now that our time is here, we’re the toughest gals around.

    Being called “anti-woman” because we didn’t embrace abortion-on-demand and alternative lifestyles has produced a hardy bunch while the feminists became fat cats dining on preferences and gorging on government and corporate subsidies for their women’s studies programs and other enterprises that promote their radical “politically correct” agenda.


    Corpse-like homophobe/anti-feminist head of the Eagle Forum, Phyllis Schlafly. BTW, her son John is openly g-a-y. That's a real psychologically healthy family.

    Conservative women came out of their enclaves determined to battle for their daughters’ futures. Women like Beverly LaHaye and Phyllis Schlafly worked tirelessly to break the force of years of liberal momentum when it looked like there was no end in sight. Women like Kathleen Sullivan and Leslee Unruh launched an abstinence movement to combat the notion that adolescents would inevitably become sexually active because it is “normal” and they are simply “at the mercy of their hormones.” Common sense and experience knew better, but liberalism cowed a whole generation of people into silence until conservative women had had enough.

    ...Clearly, current trends are passing the feminists by and they are out-of-step with the concerns and issues that are important to women today. Mothers don’t want federally funded day care; they want the opportunity to nurture their own children without government interference. Women don’t want abortion-on-demand; they want a husband who will cherish them and be committed to wife and children for a lifetime. Girls don’t want a one-night stand; they want a great guy to take them out for a nice dinner, pleasing conversation or good entertainment and not have to worry about fighting off a jerk who treats them like a sex object and won’t be calling the next day.

    What on earth is she talking about? How does she correlate access to abortion to getting married? And who, man or woman doesn't want to go out on a pleasant date? What does that have to do with feminism. This chick has some seriously misfiring synapses.

    Thanks to House Blend reader JJ for the pointer.


    Dumb*ss Bush: Has second thoughts about 'Bring 'em On'


    "One of the things I've learned is that words have consequences that you don't intend them to mean."

    Words have consequences. And wifey Katie says, "It took him this long to figure that out?!" This set of quotes from an interview with several newspapers yesterday is full of so many Bushisms, that you don't know where to begin fisking. (Second Thoughts About 'Bring 'em On'):
    President Bush, pausing to reflect on the lessons of his first term, yesterday admitted his "bring it on'' and cowboy-style "dead or alive'' call for Osama bin Laden's capture after the 9/11 attacks were gaffes - and vowed to choose his words more carefully.

    "I can remember getting back to the White House and Laura said, `What did you say that for?' '' Bush said. "I said, `Well, it was just an expression that came out. I didn't rehearse it. It just was there when they asked me my opinion.' ''

    Added Bush: "One of the things I've learned is that words have consequences that you don't intend them to mean.''

    " `Bring 'em on' was a classic example,'' he said. ``Those words had an unintended consequence. Some interpreted it to be defiance in the face of danger. That certainly wasn't the case.''

    [Um...like...something unintended such as encouraging an insurgency? Egging on on a holy war?]

    As the interview session ended, Bush - who has drawn criticism for declining to admit any mistakes in the past - added, "I speak plainly sometimes, but you gotta be mindful of the consequences of the words. What would you call that? A confession, a regret, a something?''

    Please, can someone give this guy the hook? What a f*cking embarrassment to the country.


    Rehnquist at death's door

    That's what Vincent Morris of the NYP is saying in his column. "A Shocking Look At An Ailing Rehnquist." Here is the first-hand account:
    One of the most powerful men in America, cancer-stricken Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, looked very, very ill yesterday.

    I say that because I unexpectedly came face to face with the 80-year-old, wheelchair-bound Rehnquist as his aides pushed him down an endless series of basement corridors in the Capitol.

    The longtime chief justice hasn't been seen in public in several months and it was clear to me why. Rehnquist was hunched over in his wheelchair, an old hunting cap pulled down low over his ears to cover up his blotchy skin and near baldness, possibly the result of the aggressive treatment he's getting for his thyroid cancer.

    His eyes looked sunken and lifeless. A plastic collar was wrapped tightly around his neck, where his throat had been opened recently for a tracheotomy. I tried to make eye contact and wanted to offer a word of encouragement. Our eyes never met. "




    And if another Scalia-type appointment is successful is appointed and subsequent vacancy comes up, we could kiss several things goodbye -- abortion rights, gay rights, privacy rights...you name it. Remember, Scalia said that a religion-neutral government does not fit with an America that reflects belief in God in everything from its money to its military. We don't need any more wingnuts like this "protecting" our freedoms.


    Lutheran decision splits on gay clergy

    So it was the Anglicans yesterday, fretting over openly gay Eugene Robinson's election to Bishop causing strife within the church. The Lutherans are also struggling with how to address gay issues. ( WTimes):
    A Lutheran task force handed a victory to homosexual rights groups yesterday by recommending that although the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America should not change its policy against ordaining homosexual clergy, it should not censure churches that break the rule.

    But "those who feel conscience-bound to call people [as pastors] in committed same-sex unions should refrain from making the call a media event either as an act of defiance or with the presumption of being prophetic," the task force warned.

    ...What emerged in their report -- released at church headquarters in Chicago -- was a compromise in which congregations could hire homosexual clergy without making this the official policy in the 4.9-million-member denomination.

    The compromise came as three recommendations:

    • That Lutherans "learn to live together faithfully," while disagreeing, thus avoiding the splits over homosexuality that have dominated the Episcopal Church, which has shared sacraments, clergy and ministry with the ELCA since 2001.

    • That the ELCA continue to have no official policy on same-sex unions, but "respect" a 1993 ELCA bishops' statement that does not approve such ceremonies as official church acts;

    • That the denomination not discipline churches that hire homosexual clergy, nor the clergy themselves. At least 14 openly homosexual seminarians or clergy serve in ELCA churches, according to the San Francisco-based Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries.


    ...Bishop James Mauney of ELCA's Virginia Synod said he did not see "a basis for affirming homosexual behavior within Scripture or our Lutheran confessions." He added, "Nowhere do I see in the Scriptures where Jesus condones the practice of the tax collectors or the woman caught in adultery or the life of the rich young ruler, though we are told he loves him in the Gospel of Mark."



    On a related note, I'll be blogging later on the black church and homosexuality. There is a wonderful piece by Rev. Carl Kenney in our local progressive paper, The Independent, that sheds light on the conflict and its origins that deserves discussion.


    Defying Pentagon Ban, La. Guard Unit Allows Footage of Returning Coffins


    A Louisiana National Guard Honor Guard carries one of six caskets out of a transport plane Wednesday at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Belle Chasse.

    What's wrong with this picture? The fact that you are seeing it. Remember, the Bush admin has banned photography (moving and still) of flag-draped coffins, ostensibly for the "privacy" of the families. A Louisiana National Guard unit has had enough -- they want people to know of the sacrifices that are being made for Bush's folly. (E&P):
    A Louisiana National Guard unit defied a Pentagon request to prevent television news crews from filming six flag-draped soldiers' coffins arriving in the state following the men's deaths in Iraq last week, according to a report by CBS News.

    The Louisiana National Guard allowed a CBS crew to film the arrival of six soldiers' coffins at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, La., near New Orleans. Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, a spokesman for the Louisiana National Guard, told CBS: "What we thought was, we're going to do what the family asked us to do."

    Footage broadcast by CBS showed an honor guard carrying the soldiers' flag-draped coffins out of an aircraft to six waiting hearses, watched by grieving families. The six guardsmen died last Thursday after their armored vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

    This kind of thing is going to continue to happen; there is no emotional valve to release the tension building up in military families against this war. They have so few legal ways to openly express their frustration, anger and grief at the administration -- open defiance, desertion and increasingly public anti-war statements are going to increase.

    Also, here is an excellent article from Louisiana's Daily Advertiser with more detail on the soldiers, their families and their unit.

    Thanks to House Blend reader Paul for the pointer.


    Now doctors get into the act: patient dropped for not signing malpractice-limit petition

    Yesterday, it was an insurance company dropping coverage an 80-year-old for her benign political activity, now this. Last time I looked, the Hippocratic oath didn't say anything about not treating the sick unless they held the same political viewpoint as the doctor? (Seattle Times):
    Jamie Chavez knew her Richland obstetrician felt strongly about limiting medical-malpractice awards. He bent her ear and offered pamphlets every time Chavez, pregnant with her first baby, visited him for prenatal care.

    But she couldn't believe Dr. Mark Mulholland's reaction in November when she refused to sign a petition at the doctor's office for an initiative to limit jury awards in malpractice cases.

    "I was kind of fired as a patient," she said.

    Mulholland, whose malpractice-insurance premiums jumped 30 percent last year, said he told her he couldn't in good conscience provide medical care to someone with such contrary views on the issue...Chavez, an elementary-school special-education teacher, says she left Mulholland's office in tears, worried that she might not find a doctor she trusted to help her through pregnancy and delivery. "I was four months pregnant. I had no idea where to go."

    Mulholland emphasizes that he didn't abandon Chavez: He promised to provide emergency care for 30 days, and offered to refer her to one of his partners or to another physician in the community.

    Even so, for medical-ethics experts, Mulholland's action raises issues about how far doctors should go in support of a political cause. Some worry about the effect that exam-room lobbying might have on the doctor-patient relationship — or on the perception of the profession as a whole.

    "Physicians ought not to lobby patients on political issues — or any other issues," said Dr. Wylie Burke, chairman of the Department of Medical History and Ethics at the University of Washington. "In my view the discussion of tort reform should never have occurred."

    How many of the more than 2,000 signatures were coerced from Mullholland's patients? I know the malpractice insurance problem is a real concern for doctors, but strong-arming patients in this manner is ludicrous.

    Thanks to House Blend reader Scooter for the pointer.


    Headline of the day: PA Man Has Pig Roast in His Basement

    Thursday, January 13, 2005



    This man is a dumb*ss; the only saving grace in this story is that the guy isn't a redneck from the south. (WPost):
    A man who had a pig roast in his basement was ordered to remove propane tanks and other cooking equipment after he and 13 others got carbon monoxide poisoning, authorities said. Fire Marshal David A. Janiszewski said the citation issued to Rubin Cornejo, 57, does not carry a fine and added that he believes Cornejo made an honest mistake. Janiszewski said Cornejo could be fined and face further legal action if he does not remove the equipment immediately, or if he has another pig roast in his home."


    Your tax dollars at work: Pentagon researched developing a "homo-bomb"

    I am not sh*tting you. New Scientist News has an article up, Pentagon reveals rejected chemical weapons that makes you wonder whether we've underestimated the insane thinking that goes on Washington The gist of the article is that the Pentagon was trying to think up some creative, non-lethal ways to disarm enemy troops. One bright idea was for...
    the development of an "aphrodisiac" chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. Provoking widespread homosexual behaviour among troops would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale, the proposal says.
    A smart homo-bomb. A queer cocktail. Think up some other crazy name. This is just about the dumbest thing I've ever seen. But as numbskull as that idea is, there are some more gems...

    Other ideas included chemical weapons that attract swarms of enraged wasps or angry rats to troop positions, making them uninhabitable. Another was to develop a chemical that caused "severe and lasting halitosis", making it easy to identify guerrillas trying to blend in with civilians. There was also the idea of making troops' skin unbearably sensitive to sunlight.

    The proposals, from the US Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, date from 1994. The lab sought Pentagon funding for research into what it called "harassing, annoying and 'bad guy'-identifying chemicals". The plans have been posted online by the Sunshine Project, an organisation that exposes research into chemical and biological weapons.

    Spokesman Edward Hammond says it was not known if the proposed $7.5 million, six-year research plan was ever pursued.


    I went to the Sunshine Project web site, and I downloaded a copy the redacted Marine Corp report, Harassing, Annoying, and "Bad Guy" Identifying Chemicals.

    I say drop a homo-bomb on Fred Phelps's Westboro Baptist Church.

    Thanks to House Blend reader Paul for the pointer.


    Holy Hell alert: Woman's insurance policy canceled because of her politics

    WTF is happening in this country? An eighty-year-old pediatrician in New Hampshire had a portion of her coverage dropped by her insurer because of her political activism. And the excuse is lame - liability for the insurer. The real danger is this leaves legislators at risk for being dropped as well. Good god. (AP):
    Helen Johnston is an 80-year-old retired pediatrician who hardly considers herself much of a risk for being sued. Johnston is losing extra coverage she bought years ago while she still practiced medicine — not because she’s a retired doctor, but because she is active in Francestown politics.


    Dale Groves

    The Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Co. sent her a letter last month notifying her it is not renewing her $1 million umbrella policy next month due to "the political positions the insured holds." "If she was just a retired doctor, it wouldn’t be an issue," said Dale Groves, vice president for underwriting for the Providence, R.I., company.

    Johnston is vice chairwoman of her town’s Democratic committee and a member of the Hillsborough County Democratic Committee. She helps campaigns by distributing posters and making calls, and she held a get-out-the-vote session for Howard Dean at her house.

    Groves said that’s enough.

    "It’s a common practice within the industry not to cover that because of libel and slander (risks)," he said.

    The nonrenewal letter prompted state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, Rep. Claudia Chase and Rep. John DeJoie, all Democrats, to file legislation to require insurers to cover politicians. "It’s a matter of First Amendment rights," said DeJoie, of Concord.

    DeJoie is reviewing existing law to see what if any protections there are for lawmakers.

    "I as a state legislator could conceivably lose my insurance," he said.

    Most likely, DeJoie and other lawmakers don’t have coverage now against libel and slander, Groves said. Such coverage isn’t standard under the home and auto policies most people have.

    ...The Providence renewed Johnston’s policies covering her home and car because they don’t cover libel or slander from her political activities, Groves said. But it would not renew her $1 million umbrella policy, which, as its name suggests, kicks in for claims not covered by the narrower policies.


    Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company
    Sandra G. Parrillo, CPCU
    President & CEO

    Here's the Feedback form

    Here's the board of directors.

    And other contact info:

    The Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company
    P.O. Box 6066
    Providence, Rhode Island 02940-6066
    Tel : 877.763.1800

    E-mail to TheProvidence@providencemutual.com

    UPDATE: There's a Daily Kos diary up on this by zgw.


    Intolerant Anglicans call for church "apology" for electing gay U.S. bishop


    Bishop Eugene Robinson of New Hampshire.

    Disclaimer: I am a non-practicing Episcopalian. It's still sad to see this happening within the church. Because the man chose to live his life openly as a partnered gay man and wants to lead, the wingnuts within the church want someone to be punished for his elevation to bishop. (365Gay.com):
    The leaders of the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the worldwide Anglican faith, went into closed door meetings in Salt Lake City Wednesday over demands that the Church "apologize" for the election of a gay bishop.

    Conservatives and moderates within the Church have been at odds since the election of Eugene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. Some American diocese have withheld their contributions to the Church, while semi-autonomous Churches in Africa and Asia have threatened a schism.

    In October, a blue ribbon commission set up by the world leader of the Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, called on the Episcopal Church to "apologize" for Robinson's election.

    The report, prepared by Irish primate Robin Eames invited the Episcopal Church "to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached" in Robinson's election. Until there is an apology, the report says, those who took part in consecrating Robinson — which would include Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold — should consider whether to withdraw themselves from functions of the Anglican Communion.

    In an earlier story on this, the acrimony and bigotry during Robinson's selection was no holds barred. It even included an appearance by our friend Fred Phelps...
    The Rev. Earl Fox of the Diocese of Pittsburgh then stood and delivered a description of gay sex so graphic that many in the congregation of 4,000 were visibly uncomfortable. Griswold finally told him to "get to the point." Fox said the "health consequences" of homosexuality were "devastating". He then stormed from the building.


    Outside, more than 200 representatives of LGBT groups and gay Episcopalians rallied in support of Robinson's elevation. But, a short distance away, separated by police on horseback were a handful of demonstrators from the Fred Phelps clan, carrying "God Hates Fags" placards.

    "I have a problem with any church calling a homosexual its leader when he is an unrepentant homosexual," said Joshua Phelps-Roper.


    How low can the expectations go?


    White House spokesman Scott McClellan shovels the sh*t.

    U.S. Lowers Expectations for Iraqi Vote (AP). I mean really, who thinks these elections are going to occur without: 1) sh*t blowing up; 2) people blowing up; and 3) whole segments of the Iraqi population staying home (assuming they have a home to go to --the U.S. has blown most of Fallujah away)).
    "The election is not going to be perfect," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday. "This is the first time Iraqis will be able to freely choose their leaders. It's for a transitional government, and it's one of three elections that will take place over the course of this year."

    "We want to make sure that there's as broad a participation as possible in those elections," he said. One idea being considered is to let people who are prevented from voting by violence to vote later.

    White House officials said that while there has been little preparation for the vote in Anbar province and part of Nineveh province, there remains some hope that ballots can be distributed, voting lists drawn and polling places set up by Jan. 30.

    One provision that may help overcome logistical challenges and encourage turnout in troubled provinces is to allow people in those parts of the country to vote anywhere they like, rather than only at a specified polling place, officials suggested.

    In Iraq, 14 million of Iraq's 26 million people have so far registered to vote, according to the White House. There are 111 political parties and other entities competing for shares of representation in the 275-member National Assembly. The results of the Jan. 30 election are not to be announced until around Feb. 15.

    Absentee balloting by mail will not be permitted, but there will be provisions for overseas voting in 14 countries, including Iran and the United States.

    Now that's a recipe for an accurate, "free and fair" election.


    I want a refund: FBI anti-terror software is crap


    We're back to "waste, fraud and abuse". Tax season is coming up. Are you concerned that all those tax dollars are going into the rat hole, with Humvees still unarmored and troops still short on all sorts of supplies? It gets better. The government might as well take the money getting sucked out of your paycheck and set it on fire. This time it looks like $500 million has been wasted on software that is likely to be trashed. Do you feel safer yet? (LATimes):
    A new FBI computer program designed to help agents share information to ward off terrorist attacks may have to be scrapped, the agency has concluded, forcing a further delay in a four-year, half-billion-dollar overhaul of its antiquated computer system.

    The bureau is so convinced that the software, known as Virtual Case File, will not work as planned that it has taken steps to begin soliciting proposals from outside contractors for new software, officials said.

    The overhaul of the decrepit computer system was identified as a priority both by the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks and by members of Congress, who found that the FBI's old system prevented agents from sharing information that could have headed off the attacks.

    Since the attacks, Congress has given the FBI a blank check, allocating billions of dollars in additional funding. So far the overhaul has cost $581 million, and the software problems are expected to set off a debate over how well the bureau has been spending those dollars.

    The bureau recently commissioned a series of independent studies to determine whether any part of the Virtual Case File software could be salvaged. Any decision to proceed with new software would add tens of millions of dollars to the development costs and render worthless much of a current $170-million contract.

    ...The FBI has had preliminary discussions with a number of vendors about the possible design of new software. One approach that the bureau is considering is a case-management system that could be used by other agencies, including the departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

    It is also looking into using off-the-shelf technology as a way to save money.


    Ooops...Bush on WMDs before and after the war - AP

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005



    Holy crap. What are they thinking over at the AP? This is a blistering comparison piece. Just brilliant. Let the man's words hang him out to dry. I plucked the Chimpy comments only; there are some entertaining ones in the article by Cheney, Rice, Powell and Rumsfeld too. (AP):
    BEFORE THE WAR

    "After 11 years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more." — President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002.

    "Saddam Hussein is a man who told the world he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, but he's got them." — Bush, Nov. 3, 2002.

    ***

    AFTER THE WAR

    "Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq. ... We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder." — Bush, July 12, 2004.

    "He retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction and he could have passed that knowledge on to our terrorist enemies." — Bush, Oct. 7, 2004.

    "Based on what we know today, the president would have taken the same action because this is about protecting the American people." — White House press secretary Scott McClellan, on Wednesday.


    Shrub on God and freedom -- "That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban"


    Bush is all for faith-based initiatives. Would he object to a program run by Pastor Pete Peters of La Porte Church of Christ in Colorado, who preaches the anti-Semitic, homophobic word of Christian Identity?

    Moonie Washington Times interviews Chimpy about how faith infuses his "thinking." I've got no problem with commitment to faith for our President, but reading this interview, it's clear that his idea of faith is narrowly defined to his particular evangelical flavor. Read this and then imagine if he'd have no problem with a faith-based program sponsored by what he would term a non-traditional religion, such as the Church of Satan, Christian Identity (white supremacists), or the Nation of Islam. (WashTimes):
    "I think people attack me because they are fearful that I will then say that you're not equally as patriotic if you're not a religious person," Mr. Bush said. "I've never said that. I've never acted like that. I think that's just the way it is.

    "On the other hand, I think more and more people understand the importance of faith in their life," he said. "America is a remarkable place when it comes to religion and faith. We had people come to our rallies who were there specifically to say, 'I'm here to pray for you, let you know I'm praying for you.' And I was very grateful about that."

    Liberals have challenged his faith-based initiative, which allows religious organizations to apply for government funds to administer social services such as drug rehabilitation and food banks.

    ..."I fully understand that the job of the president is and must always be protecting the great right of people to worship or not worship as they see fit," Mr. Bush said. "That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban. The greatest freedom we have or one of the greatest freedoms is the right to worship the way you see fit.

    "On the other hand, I don't see how you can be president at least from my perspective, how you can be president, without a relationship with the Lord," he said.

    [WTF is he saying here?!]"This is a country that is a value-based country," he said. "Whether they voted for you or not, there's a lot of values in this country, for which I'm real proud."

    Mr. Bush said he has "still got a rigorous agenda" for his faith-based initiative.

    The federal government has funneled "about $1.2 billion" to religious groups so far, the president said, and he hopes to improve on that in the next four years.


    Leader of "Repent America" group cites 'spiritual battle' against gays


    Two loons -- Michael Marcavage of Repent America, and possible future governor of Alabama Roy "slab-o-ten-commandments" Moore.

    These evangelists are facing up to 47 years in prison for protesting at a gay pride event in Philly. He's on a mission...Sane or not? You decide. (TimesLeader):
    In 1999, then-Temple University student Michael Marcavage complained about a school play featuring a gay Christlike character and ended up being sent to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

    Now, as the founder and leader of a conservative Christian group called Repent America, he faces felony charges in a case that is drawing attention from like-minded organizations around the country.

    Marcavage is accused of disrupting a gay and lesbian celebration in October, though he says he was simply voicing his religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. He faces felony charges of riot, criminal conspiracy and ethnic intimidation - Pennsylvania's version of a hate crime - and five misdemeanor counts including disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment.

    He and three co-defendants are due back in court twice next week, including to appeal an order they stay at least 100 feet away from any "homosexual event."

    Marcavage, 25, has been arrested, detained or cited by police around the country since founding Repent America in 2002, including at a demonstration against same-sex marriages in San Francisco and at a graphic traveling protest in Connecticut against abortion.

    On the group's Web site, Marcavage says that Repent America's mission is to "go out to where the sinners are."

    "We must go out into the world and declare the word of God in front of the abortuaries and sexually perverse establishments, and at the homosexual parades and other sin celebrations and call them to repentance," the statement says.

    ...Marcavage and the dozen or so key members of Repent America have traveled around the country. They protested abortion at a Philadelphia convention of obstetricians and gynecologists and rallied in support of ex-Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was ousted in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a judicial building.


    Gay rights bill passes Illinois House, ready for gov's signature


    Gay rights supporters, standing, from left, Rev. Jennifer Kottler, Rick Garcia, and John Cepek, applaud along with other supporters in the gallery after the Illinois House passed Senate Bill 3186, a measure to protect homosexuals from discrimination. (AP)

    Wonderful news -- as we said yesterday, it was up to the IL House to pass gay rights legislation, which Governor Rod Blagojevich will sign. (Herald & Review):
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich vowed to sign gay rights legislation that won House approval Tuesday afternoon and would ban workplace and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    "This truly is a landmark day in Illinois. This legislation sends a clear message that we will not allow our citizens to be discriminated against," Blagojevich said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to signing this bill." Upon signing, Illinois would become the 15th state to adopt gay rights legislation.

    Central Illinois lawmakers voted against the proposal for a variety of reasons.


    Three of the holdouts/naysayers -- Chapin Rose, Roger Eddy, and Bill Mitchell.

    "I voted 'no' because this is a backdoor way of legalizing gay marriage. This bill is going to be nothing but litigation for the next decade," said state Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet.

    State Rep. Roger Eddy, R-Hustonville, shared a similar concern about how the proposal is construed by a liberal Supreme Court.

    "Not to say that I think those folks should not be treated well, (I believe) that they should not be discriminated against, but I think this is more of an issue of as to what the next step is," Eddy said. State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, was concerned that the proposal created a special class of people. "I just don't like how we segment society now, we're segmenting now based on sexual orientation," Mitchell said. "We all as American citizens have certain basic rights, but now we're categorizing people, and I just think it's a dangerous turn."


    Wingnuts give Kid Rock the Inaugural boot



    I loved seeing the Right squirm at the prospect of Kid Rock (the talentless, redneck, unbathed, "rock-rap" star known mostly for boinking Pam Anderson) performing at the Bush Inaugural. There was a huge lobbying campaign, spearheaded by Donald Wildmon's American Family Association and Randy Thomasson's Campaign for Children and Families to make sure that it didn't come to pass. They were wholly fixated on Kid's affinity for discussing oral sex and "pimping Barbara Bush" (Shrub's mom, not his kid). Bleh. (WingNutDaily):
    Kid Rock, the vulgar rock-rapper whom inauguration staff initially talked of headlining the youth concert next week as part of the festivities for President Bush's swearing in, will not be appearing after all.

    "He's not performing," a spokesman for the Presidential Inauguration Committee confirmed for WND. Committee spokeswoman Jill Willis would not comment on the decision not to have Kid Rock perform.

    ...So, why was Kid Rock bumped?

    "I don't have a comment," Willis told WND. "We'll talk about the performers who will be performing after that information is released."



    ...After reading some of Kid Rock's lyrics, Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, was outraged the rapper would be a part of the president's festivities.

    "I just read Kid Rock's sexually explicit lyrics and feel ashamed and dirty for even looking at his songs," he told WND. "If this sex-crazed animal, whose favorite word is the F-word, is allowed to sing at Bush's inauguration this will send a clear message to pro-family Americans that the Republican Party has taken them for a ride and ditched them in the gutter."

    Clearly this decision to nix Kid Rock came not a moment too soon for Thomasson, or he would have actually been compelled to have sex as a result of all this talk about it.


    There's nothing like your average, homo-hating, racist Alabama sheriff


    Proud bigot Sheriff Mac Holcomb of Guntersville, AL.

    Back from a meeting and had to post more crap about wifey's home state again. Alabama and Virginia are definitely battling it out for homo-bigot state of the week again. Marshall County Alabama is truly a scary place to be if you're of color or gay, listening to the guy. I'm sure Mac Holcomb has a sheet with eyeholes cut out down at the dry cleaners...
    I am proud to be an American and that I was fortunate enough to be born in Alabama. The state that has its motto "We dare defend our rights". I was raised in era, the 1940's as a child and the 1950's as a teenager, which I remember with great affection.

    Men were men and women were women and there was no mistaking which was which. Both were proud of their individual roles. Homosexuality was very queer and a despicable act... an abomination.

    ...The "Ten Commandments" were proudly displayed as a reminder that the real Commander in Chief and Final Judge is God and that this nation was founded on Judeo/Christian principal. Neighbors helped each other instead of jumping at the chance to file a lawsuit.

    A man's word was his bond. My word and bond to you, the citizens of Marshall County, is to do my very best to devote all my energy to do my part to return our society to the values that we once held dear.

    Please join me. I need your help. Our children deserve no less.
    The web site also has a photo of the Sheriff's lily-white department. Not much progress on any civil rights front in his county, eh?

    Want to contact Mac?
    Sheriff: Mac Holcomb
    425 Blount Avenue
    Guntersville, AL 35976
    Phone: (256) 582-2034
    Fax: (256) 571-7774
    Email: sheriff@marshallco.org

    You can also file a complaint with the Alabama Secretary of State here. The telephone number for the Alabama Attorney General's Public Corruption office is 334-353-8494. The AG is Troy King. [Thanks for the info, AmericaBlog.]

    Up2date's has a Daily Kos diary on this abomination, Gay Bashing is official business in Alabama.

    And if you haven't seen this already, please visit my blog entry on Alabama's unique place in the homophobic hall of shame, Out Mag: "Is Alabama really the worst place to be a gay person in Bush's America?". It's a scary tale of intolerance and violence in the state.


    Striking Back at Hate: A “political funeral” held in New York City for murdered Alabamian Billy Jack Gaither and other victims of antigay and antiminority violence, March 1999. Photo from OUT Magazine


    Wingnut bill would ban gay news from Virginia libraries


    VA Homo-bigots of the week Del. Samuel Nixon, Jr. and Sen. Mark Obenshain.

    As I've said before, Virginia's giving Alabama a run for its money when it comes to intolerance and legislative wingnuttery. It's got to be tough to be gay in either state, with all the Right wing proposals to restrict rights, and now information on library computers. (365Gay.com):
    Two bills that would require any public library that receives state funds to install filtering software on its computers could result in a ban on sites providing gay community news and information.

    The lawmakers who have proposed the legislation say it is necessary to protect children from unwittingly stumbling across pornography while using the Internet at their local libraries.

    The House bill's sponsor, Del. Samuel Nixon, Jr. (R-Chesterfield) unveiled his bill at a press conference for the conservative Family Foundation. Nixon is also a backer of a state constitutional ban on same-sex civil unions. The Senate bill was filed by Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg). The bill would simply put Virginia in line with federal law, said Nixon, who filed a similar bill last session that was killed in committee.

    A 2000 federal law mandated that public libraries put blocking technology on computers as a condition for receiving federal money. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 upheld the use of anti-pornography Internet filters in public libraries.

    But, opponents of the legislation argue that it amounts to censorship, and relies on imperfect technology that can block legitimate sites on such topics as abortion or gay rights. Librarians would be able to temporarily disable filters for legitimate research purposes the two lawmakers said. The American Library Association has opposed the federal law.

    Many of the available filters block news sites such as 365Gay.com and rights groups such the Human Rights Campaign.

    Ironically, Nixon is "one of the two most-knowledgeable people in the General Assembly when it comes to technology," according to the Chesterfield GOP, and carried the legislation in last year's session that created the Virginia Information Technologies Agency.

    Just so you know...

    Del. Samuel Nixon, Jr.
    PO Box 34908
    Richmond VA 23234
    804-745-4335
    804-745-4432 fax
    del_nixon@house.state.va.us

    Sen. Mark Obenshain
    Senate of Virginia
    P.O. Box 396
    Richmond, VA 23218
    Phone: (804) 698-7526
    Fax: (804) 698-7651
    Email: district26@sov.state.va.us, or mobenshain@ntelos.net






    Gay folks in Atlanta, it looks like you are going to have to fight for your rights, AGAIN.


    This time Shirley Franklin is at the mercy of the GA legislature. Wingnut Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) has submitted a bill to repeal the city's gay rights ordinances.

    Yes, it's more than a lawsuit about obtaining spousal benefits for gay partners at a country club now. The Right wants to trash Atlanta's human rights ordinance, and *ss-wipe Earl Ehrhart, the man behind the country club dispute is leading the charge. It's a sad day when a progressive Southern city like Atlanta is under siege by the religious whack jobs. People need to fight this; we cannot allow these few islands of tolerance and freedom fritter away by the unhinged actions of the American Taliban. Atlanta's Same-Sex Rights Contested (LATimes):
    There is a saying in this city's artsy, edgy neighborhoods: We're not in Georgia here, we're in Atlanta. Congenial to gays and lesbians as well as Fortune 500 companies, Atlanta has thrived as a liberal enclave distinct from the conservative state that surrounds it.

    But a bill submitted Tuesday in Georgia's newly Republican-dominated Legislature would repeal a section of an Atlanta city ordinance that prohibited discrimination against same-sex couples. "You have a true philosophical divide between the state Legislature and the city of Atlanta," said Rep. Earl Ehrhart, the bill's sponsor, a Powder Springs Republican and the incoming chairman of the House Rules Committee.

    This challenge affects one of the city's major interest groups. According to the 2000 census, Atlanta has 12,000 same-sex households — the fourth-highest concentration of gay couples among America's big cities, after San Francisco, Seattle and Oakland, said Gary Gates, co-author of "Gay & Lesbian Atlas."

    Since the 1970s, when Mayor Maynard Jackson made a groundbreaking proclamation in honor of Gay Pride Day, Atlanta's leaders have been openly supportive of the city's gay community, said Berl Boykin, who is working on a history of gay activism in Atlanta. Mayor Shirley Franklin, he said, has carried on that tradition.

    "It is certainly one of the freest cities in the South and one of the freer ones in America," Boykin said. When gays and lesbians grow up in the conservative South, "where are they going to come? Atlanta — fabled, fabulous Atlanta.""

    Never mind outright secession. The Right intends to quietly elect officials at the local levels over time to effect the same result, culturally cordoning off as much Red space as they can through legislative efforts, further isolating progressive voices. The lazy, and apparently blind Democrats at the national level seem unable or unwilling to see how this is all unfolding and to counter it with equal diligence. They are too busy trying to figure out how to win back the NASCAR voters. Trust me, there are plenty of Blue votes to be had in the South. The civil rights struggle for any minority group will not be won by a public vote.


    WMD search: It's over



    No big announcement from the White House. The main justification for this action in Iraq by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld has now proven to be an official big fat lie. Search for Banned Arms In Iraq Ended Last Month (WP):
    The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley.

    In interviews, officials who served with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said the violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas.



    Four months after Charles A. Duelfer, who led the weapons hunt in 2004, submitted an interim report to Congress that contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials, a senior intelligence official said the findings will stand as the ISG's final conclusions and will be published this spring.

    President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials asserted before the U.S. invasion in March 2003 that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, had chemical and biological weapons, and maintained links to al Qaeda affiliates to whom it might give such weapons to use against the United States.

    Bush has expressed disappointment that no weapons or weapons programs were found, but the White House has been reluctant to call off the hunt, holding out the possibility that weapons were moved out of Iraq before the war or are well hidden somewhere inside the country. But the intelligence official said that possibility is very small.


    FBI Probes More Lasers Shot at Airplanes

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005



    "It's happening all over the place," according to an FBI spokesperson. If you get caught flashing your laser pointer toward a plane, you're violating the Patriot Act. I'm still trying to figure out what bonehead would want to do something so dumb.


    Gay African American Students To Hold First National Conference



    This is a great precedent, because the visibility of gay black Americans on MLK's birthday is so meaningful. With burgeoning homophobia in the community, especially in black churches, the ability for these students to gather and talk about the issues that affect them. Coretta Scott King is strongly in favor of gay civil rights and marriage, but her daughter Bernice is not -- so even within this family dedicated to racial civil rights, it's clear that an open and honest discussion about what it is like to be both black and gay needs to occur.

    Hopefully, this conference will open the eyes pf some and help to dispel the myths. The irony is that it is being held in Ohio, a state that, last November, passed a hateful, anti-gay state amendment. (365Gay.com):
    Gay African American university students will hold their first ever national meeting over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

    Called the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Students of Color National Summit, it will take place at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The conference was organized with the help of the United States Student Association Foundation.

    "Over the past decade we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of college student organizations devoted to empowering LGBT students of color said Nicholas Sakurai, organizer of the summit and Director of USSA Foundation's LGBT Student Empowerment Project. "Now, dozens of colleges across the country have such groups." The National Summit will include roundtables, skills trainings, and strategic planning sessions to help build spaces that support LGBT students of color on campuses across the country.

    "In the often isolated world of LGBT student of color campus activism, this summit is an invaluable opportunity to share strategies for success and work together on the challenges ahead," said Eddy Morales, U.S. Student Association Vice President.

    As a visibly emerging campus community, LGBT students of color face significant barriers to higher education, from being targeted for hate crimes and verbal harassment to the lack of presence in the curriculum, Morales said.

    Campus groups for LGBT students of color often provide supportive spaces, conduct educational forums for staff and students, and advocate for policies that promote the recruitment and retention of LGBT students, faculty, and staff of color.

    "Change is coming and young LGBT people of color are here to bring it," said Lilia Williams, one of the lead facilitators for the summit. "We're tired of facing anti-gay and anti-transgender attitudes within communities of color and sometimes in our own families. We're tired of watching racism silence our voices in LGBT organizations. We want to see students united, not divided."

    More than 50 students of color from will represent colleges across the country at the January 15-17 event.


    Textile maker lays off nearly 2,500...

    The shame and outsourcing of Bush's Economy. North Carolina used to have a booming textile industry, but it's been decimated as factories have closed or moved their production facilities overseas for the even-cheaper labor (NC is a right-to-work state). (heraldsun.com):
    Bedding and bath textile maker WestPoint Stevens Inc. said Monday it will cut 2,465 jobs and close plants in four states because of the Jan. 1 end of worldwide quotas limiting cheap imports. The West Point, Ga.-based maker of brands including Martex, Stevens and Lady Pepperell will close plants in Burlington, Clemson, S.C.; Middletown, Ind. and Drakes Branch, Va.

    About 560 will lose their jobs in Burlington, 1,345 in Clemson, 450 in Drakes Branch, and 110 in Middletown. The plants are expected to close by late March or early April, the company said.

    The closings and layoffs "are directly related to the removal of textile quotas from low-wage countries," the company said in a statement. Much of the work will be shifted overseas.

    "We must be flexible in maintaining the most profitable balance between our domestic manufacturing and goods sourced from overseas. This becomes more critical with quotas removed," WestPoint Stevens President and Chief Executive M.L. "Chip" Fontenot said.



    The company, which was founded almost 200 years ago, also closed its Roanoke Rapids, N.C., towel-making complex, the South's first major unionized textile mill and the inspiration for the award-winning 1979 film "Norma Rae," which starred Sally Field.

    Thankfully, much of NC has moved to a more technical, research and science-based economy, it is still very much an agricultural and textile state at heart. A lot of the workforce losing jobs are in desperate need of retraining for the hi-tech jobs that are out there. It's a permanent shift.


    Headline of the day: Woman Wants to Cleanse Colons in Her Home

    A few days old, but damn...I'll just leave this one alone...(WP).


    Sadistic bastard -- Inmate Says Graner Laughed During Abuse



    I guess there are really no words to describe how sick and depraved this behavior was. He shames all those in the uniform that have a sense of decency. This animal conduct is not just "following orders" or "softening up" prisoners for interrogation, this is pure sadism. I cannot fathom what Graner's defense is going to come up with. (AP):
    Syrian insurgent held at Abu Ghraib prison testified by video Tuesday that Army Spc. Charles Graner merrily whistled, sang and laughed while brutalizing him and forced him to eat pork and drink alcohol in violation of his Muslim faith.

    An Iraqi detainee later told the court that he was among a group of prisoners stripped by Graner and other Abu Ghraib guards, stacked up naked in a human pyramid while female soldiers watched, and later told to masturbate.

    ...The inmate also said he listened through his cell wall as Graner and other Americans forced a Yemeni prisoner to eat from a toilet.

    Asked if Graner appeared to enjoy hurting him, al-Sheikh said through an interpreter: "He laughed. He was whistling. He was singing."

    He described Graner as the "primary torturer" and "a naturally aggressive man" — a characterization that led Graner, sitting in the courtroom, to roll his eyes and chuckle.



    ...Al-Sheikh said he was later sent to Abu Ghraib, where Graner jumped on his wounded leg and struck it with a collapsible metal stick. Another time, he said, Graner handcuffed him to his cell door with his arms behind his back for eight hours.

    Graner also accompanied a U.S. soldier who urinated on him, and that the defendant was present when another American threatened to rape him, al-Sheikh said.

    ...Graner is charged with conspiracy, assault, committing indecent acts and other offenses. He could get to 17 1/2 years in a military prison if found guilty by a jury of four Army officers and six enlisted men.

    Remember, Rush Limbaugh compared Abu Ghraib behavior to college frat pranks. One of two things will occur: 1) the Right will come up with a lame defense that this is the kind of unruly "discipline" that Alberto Gonzales approved of when he made his recommendations to the White House (and the left just can't stomach appropriate "tactics" used in wartime; or 2) everyone blames everything on rogue elements in the prisons (i.e. Graner), totally hanging him out to dry. Who bets on the latter?


    Gay Servicemembers Seeking Help Hit New High

    Guess it's more important to discharge and discriminate against the gays in the military than to let them openly serve when they don't have enough warm bodies. That's a winning strategy. (365Gay.com):
    An organization that provides legal advice to gays and lesbians in the military said Tuesday that it received a record 1025 requests for assistance in 2004, up from 991 similar requests in 2003. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network also said that the number of gays being drummed out of the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” despite a shortage of troops in Iraq and Afganistan.

    “Service members continue to report to SLDN that they face a hostile military environment rife with anti-gay harassment and discrimination,” said SLDN Executive Director C. Dixon Osburn.

    Even as their talents are more urgently needed than ever before, lesbian and gay service members face investigation, harassment and discharge. Their courageous service to our country, and not their sexual orientation, should be what matters.”

    Among the cases that SLDN attorneys successfully fought in 2004 was a suit to save the retirement benefits of a 22-year Air Force war veteran who was ‘outed’ by two civilian women. Air Force Master Sergeant David Cooper was a veteran of the 1992 Persian Gulf War who faced losing his entire retirement benefits package. “Without SLDN’s help,” Cooper said, “everything I worked hard to achieve would have been stolen from me.”

    SLDN attorneys also saved the careers of two service members who faced ‘outing’ by their family members and assisted a Jewish Naval Chaplain who faced investigation and discharge after being outed by a friend’s husband.


    Freepers React to the Supreme Court's decision on gay adoption

    Earlier on the Blend, I posted on the Supreme Court declining to take up a case challenging the State of Florida's ban on adoption by homosexuals. The Freepers have gone apesh*t in their usual filthy, evil manner. Keep in mind that these idiots claim to be truly concerned about the welfare of children and the sanctity of marriage...


    Actual Freeper Quotes™
    "And they were THAT close to being able to gain legal custody over their rape targets."

    "That is a setback for DECENCY & MORALITY -- not for homosexuals! This needs to be settled NOW! And it better be against the homosexual radical agenda!"

    "Gays still can't adopt? Awww. Hear that? It's the smallest violin in the world. Playing just for them."

    "To understand the whole "same-sex" marriage debate, just remember: MARRIAGE IS NOT A RIGHT, IT'S A PRIVILEGE. like a driver's license, or welfare - granted, or not granted, at the discretion of the State. In most places now, the State chooses not to grant it to homosexual couples. Got it? I sure the US Supreme Court does, because Canada's is apparently way too dumb to grasp such a simple concept."

    [and more here...]

    "First, this is not about a "lifestyle". It's about evil, irresponsible, and unnatural sexual behavior. Every state should follow Florida's example by banning gays (and lesbians) from adopting children. Sodomy is practiced by homosexuals, and for them to legally acquire children to exploit is an abomination, just as the Catholic priests sodomizing children is a despicable crime. Even if the adopted children are not physically abused, they will have a sick, distorted view of the institution called marriage between a man and a woman, which is the basis for civilization. Sodomites do not produce children, and they should not raise children. Homosexuals (sodomites) seek to defy the laws of nature, resulting in the world wide AIDS epidemic."

    "Yes, and Sodomy is an unhygienic practice. Men are by nature promiscuous."

    "Good news. NAMBLA can't legally adopt sex toys of their very own."



    Fallujah Residents Angry Over Destruction


    A US Marine from Lima Company passes a leveled house on patrol in the devastated city of Fallujah. Photo: AFP/Hrvoje Polan

    It's nice to see that we're winning the Iraqis over with gestures like, say, destroying almost all of their homes, and an entire city's infrastructure. And you wonder why the insurgents have a stronghold over much of the country? (AP):
    When Ahmed Hussein Nasser returned to Fallujah weeks after a devastating U.S.-led campaign to retake the city from insurgents, he could barely recognize the city where he had spent all 66 years of his life.

    His anger against the Americans and Iraqi forces allied with them has only grown since his return — a worrisome sign for U.S. officials letting people back into Fallujah, a one-time insurgent stronghold where the population was generally believed to support the fighters.

    "When I see Americans in Fallujah I feel as if I am seeing devils in front of me," he said.

    On Dec. 23, the first people allowed into the city were residents of the western neighborhood of Andalus. The Iraqi government announced over the weekend that all the city's neighborhoods will be open for returnees this Friday. The government said so far some 60,000 people have returned to the city.

    About 85,000 residents have gone back to inspect their houses and general conditions in the city, but only about 10 percent of them stayed, said Jennifer Pagonis, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.



    Few houses escaped damage from the intense American air raids late last year and the insurgent bombings and shootings that followed. Work teams have cleared rubble from the streets, but it is still tangled with downed power lines. Craters cut off access to side streets, and some buildings have walls or ceilings missing if they weren't simply destroyed. "Many Iraqi residents have made it clear to me that they realize that foreign fighters brought about the destruction and are ultimately the ones to blame."


    If there is a hell, these people are surely going there

    The almighty dollar is all that matters to these f*cktards, in the aftermath of the tsunami. Crooks faking Web sites to bilk unwitting donors.


    Saudi female PC users face privacy intrusion by men

    Sigh. Despite all the attempts by the American Taliban to roll back the clock on women's rights, you have to be thankful that you aren't a gal in Saudi Arabia. When you read this, it just makes you ill. (AFP):
    Saudi female users of personal computers are facing the danger of privacy intrusion by men due to the lack of maintenance shops run by women in the conservative kingdom.

    Amina, who had desposited her computer for repairs in a shop in Riyadh, was "shocked to receive a phone call from the shop owner asking her about the identity of some women appearing in photos saved on the hard disk," the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper said Saturday.

    He told her that she should save her photos somewhere else "because they are tempting," the paper said, adding that "he offered her a booklet of Islamic fatwas (religious edicts) as a present when she collected her PC."

    ...It is apparently difficult to open computer maintenance shops operated by women in Saudi Arabia as the expertise is not available, Omar Salah, a computer engineer, told the paper. "Computer science is not available for women in (local) universities," he added.


    Oregon Gov. to promote gay civil rights, civil unions


    Big cheers for ally OR Governor Ted Kulongoski, left; House Majority leader opposes the bills.

    (Gay News From 365Gay.com):
    In his "state-of-the-state" address to a joint session of the Legislature Monday Kulongoski said he would submit a bill this year to "defend social justice, tolerance and diversity." The speech marked the opening of the 2005 session of the Legislature.

    "We also face a great moral challenge: To make sure that opportunity is an open door through which every citizen can pass — not a revolving door that turns for some and doesn't budge for others," Kulongoski told lawmakers.

    "This is a moral challenge because if we do not defend social justice, tolerance and diversity — then the progress we make on the economic front will be bought with compromised principles and a weakened human spirit," Kulongoski said. "That is not a trade-off I can accept."

    Kulongoski has been a longtime supporter of a gay civil rights law but attempts to get a bill through the Legislature have faced tough opposition in the past. This time he linked the issue to the state's economy saying a civil rights law would help bring new business into the Oregon. Kulongoski also said he supported a proposed bill to legalize civil unions. The legislation would give gay couples many of the rights of married people.

    House Majority Leader Wayne Scott (R-Canby) said he would oppose both bills calling them "unnecessary."

    In November Oregon voters joined voters in 10 other states to approve a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.


    Check out Perrspectives' "Name That Bush Scandal" Contest



    John Perr's Perrspectives is a kick-ass site that I highly recommend. It's home of the rightious American Taliban wrecking crew, and a great new contest, "Name That Bush Scandal":
    "If Reagan had "Iranamok" (Iran/Contra) and Clinton had "Bimbroglio" (Lewinsky scandal), what should Bush's contributions to posterity be? Simply send us your suggested names for any or all of the Bush scandals below and you could win great prizes like an Apple Mini iPod, Amazon.com gift certificates, and international acclaim. More important, you could earn the eternal thanks of a grateful nation."

    How to Enter

    To play “Name That Scandal”, simply send Perrspectives your unique, catchy and original name(s) for any or all of the Bush administration scandals below.

    Iraq WMD (or lack thereof)
    Armstrong Williams (the Bush administration’s pay-for-play pundit)
    Abu Ghraib torture scandal
    Medicare reform fraud (including budget lies, tax-payer funded fake new stories)
    Enron (including stock disaster, California energy fraud and Bush denial of Ken Lay friendship)
    Secret Cheney energy plan
    "Mission Accomplished" speech on USS Abraham Lincoln
    Valerie Plame CIA agent outing
    Bogus Iraq/Niger yellow cake uranium claims
    Bush National Guard non-service

    BTW, I also find Perrspectives' Conservative Threat Level a riot:



    ***


    Police shoot Marine dead in possible "suicide by cop" incident


    An alley in Ceres after a Marine was shot by police. A trail of possible evidence is marked in yellow. Modesto Bee photo by Joan Barnett Lee via AP

    This is one of those "suicide by blue/cop" cases that breaks your heart. The man didn't want to back for yet another tour in Iraq. The real crime is that hundreds in uniform are going to return with psychological and emotional issues as a result of being in the war zone. After they've sacrificed their mental health for the military, do you think Bush's VA is going to give them the follow up care that they require? (SFGate):
    Authorities are trying to understand why a Marine who had spent seven months fighting in Iraq allegedly shot to death a police sergeant in the Central Valley town of Ceres [CA] and critically wounded another officer before being shot to death.

    "We're still in the very early stages of investigating this," Deputy Jason Woodman, spokesman for the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, said Monday. "We still have a long way to go."

    Investigators are exploring the possibility that the gunman, whom authorities identified as 19-year-old Andres Raya of Modesto, may have wanted to die in what police call "suicide by cop," because he didn't want to go back to Iraq. Although the Marines said Raya's unit had already been deployed to Iraq twice and was not scheduled to return, his family told investigators that Raya had expressed concern he would be shipped out again.

    Raya, who was supposed to have reported back to Camp Pendleton in San Diego County after taking holiday leave, walked into George's Liquor Store in Ceres Sunday night carrying an SKS assault rifle, authorities said. Raya began making odd statements and asking the clerk suspicious questions, said Modesto police spokesman Rick Applegate.

    Raya walked out of the shop and fired off a couple of rounds from his rifle, Woodman said, then went back into the store and told the clerk that he had been shot and to call police.

    Officer Sam Ryno, a 22-year police veteran, arrived a short time later. Raya opened fire and hit the 50-year-old officer, who took cover and fired back, authorities said.

    About this time Sgt. Howard Stevenson pulled up. Just as he was getting out of his squad car, Raya shot him twice in the head, probably at close range, then fled through nearby backyards, police believe.

    Stevenson, 39, had been a member of the Ceres police force for 20 years and was the department's first officer ever killed in the line of duty. He is survived by a wife and two daughters, ages 19 and 13, and an 18-year-old son.

    ...Woodman said Raya's family told investigators that he didn't want to return to the Middle East. He was due to report back to Camp Pendleton on Sunday.

    We are already seeing an increase in homeless Iraq vets showing up in shelters. Many of them have suffered injuries and many are dealing with PTSD. This another Bush shame of the nation.


    VA Delegate to withdraw HB 1677


    John A. Cosgrove (R-78) thought "all your wombs are belong to us," but the blogosphere kicked his *ss.

    Wingnut Virginia Delegate John Cosgrove folded his tent, after over 1,000 blogs got into action as a result of Maura in VA's posts at Democracy in VA and Daily Kos. (Augusta Free Press):
    Legislation that would have required mothers who had failed to report fetal deaths to the police within 12 hours of the delivery to face a possible misdemeanor sentence will be withdrawn, its patron said on Monday.

    "I've elected to withdraw HB 1677 from consideration by the General Assembly this year. The language is just too confusing," Del. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, told The Augusta Free Press.

    Cosgrove's surprise move came after a firestorm of controversy spread across the World Wide Web over the weekend about the possible far-reaching effects of the measure.

    My entry on this from last week, "Virginia bill HB1677: That fetus is mine, all mine" is here.

    Maura's followup DKos diary is here.


    Gay Civil Rights Bill Passes Illinois Senate


    State Senator Christopher Lauzen (R-25 District) is against the measure because "small businesses would be hit with a flood of lawsuits by gays who have been denied jobs." Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich plans to sign it.

    The Illinois Human Rights Act was passed by the state's Senate on Monday night, and now moves on to its House, where it will easily pass. This bill will prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit. (Gay News From 365Gay.com):
    Gay rights advocates have been pressing for the law to be passed for nearly a decade. A recent poll sponsored by Equality Illinois shows that a wide majority of Illinois residents support granting civil rights protections to gays.

    The House has passed bills to provide protections for gays and lesbians in the past only to have the legislation die in the Senate.

    State Sen. Carol Ronen (D-Chicago) took the measure off the floor in November, at the time saying that she did not have the votes needed. Her decision followed an often acrimonious hour long debate, mostly along religious and moral grounds.

    She reintroduced the legislation late last week saying she now had the votes needed for passage. It passed Monday night by a 30 -27 vote following a heated debate.

    [WTF?!] Sen. Christopher Lauzen (R-Aurora) speaking against the measure said statistics link homosexuality to lower life expectancy and warned that small businesses would be hit with a flood of lawsuits by gays who have been denied jobs.

    Today is the final day of business for the House. Gov. Rod Blagojevich has indicated he would sign the bill if it is passed.


    Wingnut Agape Press: "Expert" Doubts Polls Showing Public Favors Homosexuals in Military


    President of Center for Military Readiness, Elaine Donnelly says Americans "expect the Bush Administration to implement military personnel policies that reflect sound priorities, not social engineering".

    I added the quotes to "expert" in the headline, BTW, because the assessment by fundy American Family Association's "news" organ of what an expert is on this issue is questionable. (Agape Press):
    A military watchdog says she is skeptical about a recent survey that found 63 percent of Americans favor allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the U.S. Armed Forces.

    Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, believes the Gallup poll results came about because too many Americans believe homosexuals are already allowed to serve in the military. "The fact that there is any support at all, or any apparent support for open homosexuality in the military, I'm sure, has a lot to do with the fact that people think that is the situation right now," she says.

    Donnelly says she learned how polls can be influenced by pre-conceived notions when she worked with the Roper Center for Public Policy Research in 1992. "They showed us in a very scientific way," she notes, "how you can determine just how much of a given figure is a reflection of people believing a situation already exists, and those that do not. If they believe a situation is not already the case, then their opinions shift quite a bit."

    Unfortunately, the CMR spokeswoman says, most Americans are ignorant of the law which currently prohibits homosexuals from serving in the military. And, she contends, there is at least one good reason why so many people already think that homosexual men and lesbian women serve openly in the military: "Most news reports report it that way," she says.

    I don't know what she is smoking. Who doesn't know gays are banned from openly serving?


    Mother Awarded Custody Of Slain Boy's Sister

    On Monday, I posted on the Blend about the Supreme Court rejection of an appeal by four men who challenged Florida's ban on adoption by gay couples. This sets a sad, discriminatory precedent that other states can now follow.

    Let's take a look at another story, one that illustrates how sick the situation is. Two loving gay people cannot adopt, but children can be exposed to toxic family situations like this. (nbc6.net):
    A South Florida man accused of beating his 2-month-old son to death appeared in court Monday as the victim's mother sought to gain custody of her son's twin sister. Natasha Thornton was visibly upset during the custody hearing.

    Jordy Foster, 21, is charged with aggravated child abuse and first-degree murder after allegedly slamming Tyrone Foster's head against a kitchen table because the infant would not stop crying. Tyrone died of extensive blunt head trauma at Plantation General Hospital Sunday.


    The children's mother, Natasha Thornton, went to court Monday seeking full custody of Tyrone's twin sister.

    NBC 6's Hank Tester reported Thornton was visibly shaken when Foster appeared at the hearing. Thornton's mother and father were there to support her.

    "We are trying to figure it out. It's senseless. It doesn't make sense that this happened," Thornton's mother, Tricia Clark, said. Clark said Foster's involvement in Tyrone's death was shocking because Foster had been a good father.

    "When the twins were born and at the hospital, he was there plenty of times every day. He would feed the babies with me and he was a good dad until now," Clark said. The judge granted custody of the 2-month-old girl to Thornton.

    And so how is this a better environment for a young child? How has this helped the state protect the "sanctity" of family by ruling gay couples cannot adopt?

    Thanks to Ms. Julien in Miami for the pointer.


    How'd you like to see this when you're coming down the road?

    Monday, January 10, 2005


    A boulder some 25 feet high blocks both lanes of the Topanga Canyon Road, Monday, Jan. 10, 2005, as electrical contractors fix broken power and communication lines in Malibu, Calif. No injuries where reported, but the road remains closed. The storm system was blamed for at least nine deaths during the weekend in Southern California, including a man killed when his vehicle plunged into the surf off Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, and a homeless man killed when the hillside where his tent was pitched gave way. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)


    Pope focuses on anti-gay message for 2005



    Shouldn't the priority be on the church's own internal scandals that have really harmed the family -- the molestation of innocent children, and the massive cover-up and settlements? I guess that would be too obvious; it's easier to gay-bash. (NYT):
    Pope John Paul II unequivocally condemned gay marriage and weighed in on a host of other social questions on Monday in a strongly worded message meant to define the position and agenda of the Roman Catholic Church.

    The 84-year-old pope addressed the 174 ambassadors who make up the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See with an incisive account of the Vatican's definition of family.

    "Today the family is often threatened by social and cultural pressures that tend to undermine its stability; but in some countries the family is also threatened by legislation which - at times directly - challenge its natural structure, which is and must necessarily be that of a union between a man and a woman founded on marriage," said the pope, who spoke in French.

    Family, he said, "must never be undermined by laws based on a narrow and unnatural vision of man."

    In recent months, senior Vatican officials have increasingly attacked what they see as the decaying of Christian tradition. In October, the Vatican rallied around Rocco Buttiglione, an Italian minister whose effort to win a post in the European Union was rejected after he expressed his conservative Catholic views, like considering homosexuality a sin.

    But today's message was perhaps an even stronger indictment of what the church sees as loose secular values, both because it was delivered in the pope's own words and because it came during the so-called state of the world address, which establishes the Vatican's priorities for the coming year.


    Freepers wig out on the Armstrong Williams debacle



    First off, I have to print this un-f*cking-believable "apology" by Armstrong Williams. Thank god he isn't named Pinocchio. I don't know who would hire this guy at this point, after all this dissembling. He posted this, "My Apology" at townhall.com:
    I understand that I exercised bad judgment in running paid advertising for an issue that I frequently write about in my column. People need to know that my column is uncorrupted by any outside influences. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for my bad judgment, and to better explain the circumstances.

    The fact is, I run a small business. I am CEO and manage the syndication and advertising for my television show. In between juggling my commentaries and media appearances, I stepped over the line. This has never happened before. In fact, my company has never worked on a government contract. Nor have we ever received compensation for an issue that I subsequently reported on. This will never happen again. I now realize that I have to create inseparable boundaries between my role as a small businessman and my role as an independent commentator.

    I accept full responsibility for my lack of good judgment. I am paying the price. Tribune Media has cancelled my column. And I have learned a valuable lesson. I just want to assure you that this will never happen again, and to ask for your forgiveness.

    How do you think folks in Freeperland responded to this Bush whore?


    Actual Freeper Quotes™
    "I like Mr. Williams. I'm glad he apologized. It was a dumb thing to do. Having done a number of dumb things myself, I can understand it happening. He has certainly taken a pummeling over this."

    "I saw him on O'Reilly. He messed up, and he knows it, and admits it. It's been a learning experience for him. I'm satisfied the problem has been fixed, and I'll continue to read what he says."

    "Now we know what happens when a conservative says he made a mistake and is sorry. Good thing that Pres. Bush didn't fall into that trap. Armstrong Williams is a commentator and not a reporter. He should have just said that he never wrote or stated anything that that he didn't already believe and that he wouldn't have written about anyway. It was their business if they wanted to pay him to KEEP writing what he was already writing and for the rights to publish it in the DOE journals. Commentator...not reporter. I can't believe he fell into this remorse trap. It's so unnecessary."

    "Armstrong is guilty of nothing more than a petty technical oversight. He is and always has been a good and decent man of morals. OPPORTUNISTS WHO SEEK TO USE THIS MATTER AND ARMSTRONGS BACK AS A STEPPING STONE SHOULD BEWARE!"

    "I can't believe the wailings of the liberals on this board [Who are these liberals that this Freeper is talking about? -- Pam]--- "I can never trust Williams again because he was paid for an advertisement!" ALL radio shows, tv shows are PAID for advertising you brainwashed fools! All hosts talk about their advertisers also during their programs --- it is expected in many cases and it is nothing unusual, rare, or below the board --- try listening to a LEFTIST SHOW -- they are easy to find on every tv and most radio news shows. "

    "I see the left-wing radicals in this country have WON the case against the FIRST AMENDMENT and now if you are Christian abnd Conservative you are not allowed the FREE exercise of your rights. Well I have one (two?) words gfor all of you who scream out that Willimas is GUILTY!!! BULL-SH*T!!"

    ""If that means that I'm throwing him under the bus, I'm sorry."
    Bullshit. You're quite happy to do it......the campaign you are running here and elsewhere is only thinly disguised (as indignation) self-promotion of yourself. "

    "Chicken or the egg. Does he believe it because he's getting paid, or is he getting paid because he believes it?"

    "I wish you well in your effort that is going to harm you and ultimately assist Armstrong. He didn't need YOUR blessing to get where he is......and he sure doesn't need it now, either. Get off his back, man, in the long run it will only harm you."

    "The only problem here, as I see it, is that a LIBERAL guilty of the same actions would be given a complete pass... whereas this fine conservative man has to do a gigantic mea culpa for something relatively trivial (when compared to- oh..., I dunno..., AIRING FORGED DOCUMENTS)"


    Some technical updates to commenting on the Blend

    Good news and bad news as I tweak the new site...

    Good news: I just switched over from the native Blogger commenting system to Haloscan, which is faster loading and doesn't take you to another page to nag you to sign up to Blogger before you can post a remark.

    Bad news: All the comments folks have posted in the past are toast. Actually, they all still exist, but you just can't see them anymore, since they are in the Blogger system. If I put the old code back, then the old comments would reappear.

    So start commenting (again) -- thanks!


    Pam's House Blend is up for "Best New Blog" in Koufax Awards

    I still cannot believe it, but there are people out there actually reading/enjoying the Blend. Many thanks. Do take time to visit Wampum and look over this list of really worthy lefty bloggers and cast a vote -- Wampum: The Koufax Awards: Best New Blog.

    I went and voted (not for my blog, of course, I'm too modest). I mean it when I say that it is an honor just to be nominated.

    Here's background on the categories, which I posted a while back.


    Parties Take Shape for Inaugural Parade


    While George and Laura do the fox trot in luxury on January 20, there will be more modest accommodations where the tsunami victims are.

    Yes. There will be bountiful celebrations, funded by many friends and contributors (AP):
    At inauguration parade time, it's not so much who you are, but where you live and work that matters. It can be the difference between standing on the curb in the cold weather or nibbling on caviar while hobnobbing in the warmth of a cozy office or home as the parade unfolds.

    People in law firms, corporate offices and residences lining the parade route from the Capitol to the White House have prime perches for watching a long-standing American tradition, and even with the tightest security cordon in history, they're making the most of it with bird's-eye view parties.

    "It's all about location and when you're on a parade route and you have full view — if you've got that space — flaunt it," said Susan Lacz Niemann, one of the owners of Ridgewells catering company.



    Supremes set back gay adoption


    If Rehnquist goes, the Right is going to have a crack at changing the legal fabric of our nation. Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Associate Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy. From left, back row are: Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. (AP)

    This is so unfortunate. Florida allows gays to be foster parents, but not permanent parents, so the refusal of the Supreme Court to take a stand on this issue leaves it wide open for discriminatory laws to spread around the country. And who will suffer? The children that would otherwise not have a chance at a permanent, loving home. (CBS News):
    The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday by four men who challenged Florida's ban on adoption by gay couples, avoiding another contentious fight over gay rights. Florida is the only state with a blanket law prohibiting homosexuals from adopting children, but the high court was told that other states could now feel free to copy the ban.

    Opponents argued that the 1977 law, passed at the height of Anita Bryant's anti-homosexual campaign, was irrational because it excluded potential parents for thousands of abandoned children. Supporters contend the state has the power to promote traditional father-mother families.

    The high court's refusal to hear the case, made without comment, avoids a second showdown over gay rights there in two years. Justices, in a historic civil rights ruling, barred states in 2003 from criminalizing gay sex. The court said then that states 'cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.'

    The ruling set off a firestorm of criticism by conservative and religious groups. Three justices also complained that the court, generally known for its conservatism, had gone overboard in pandering to the 'homosexual agenda.'

    The latest case involves gay foster parents in Florida who want to adopt children in their care. The American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, representing the parents, argued that that the state unconstitutionally singles out gays, based on discrimination.

    'The plain and well-understood purpose of the ban was to tell gay people to go back into the closet,' ACLU attorney Matthew Coles told justices in a filing.


    White House: Williams Case Was Isolated

    Yeah, right.. That's not what Armstrong said to David Corn of The Nation.
    I asked if Williams had yet been conducted by the inspector general at the Education Department, the agency that had awarded the contract that supplied him $241,000 for promoting the NCLB measure within the African-American community. Representative George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the education committee, and other House Democrats had already called for an investigation. Why should the IG contact me? Williams replied, noting he had been merely a subcontractor. Any thorough investigation, I remarked, would include questioning the subcontractor. He scratched his head. "Funny," he said. "I thought this [contract] was a blessing at the time."

    And then Williams violated a PR rule: he got off-point. "This happens all the time," he told me. "There are others." Really? I said. Other conservative commentators accept money from the Bush administration? I asked Williams for names. "I'm not going to defend myself that way," he said. The issue right now, he explained, was his own mistake. Well, I said, what if I call you up in a few weeks, after this blows over, and then ask you? No, he said.


    Sharpton speaks out against black homophobes



    Good for him. People like the hateful, allegedly Christian Patrick Wooden, Sr. of Raleigh's Upper Room Church of God need to hear this (365Gay.com):
    African Americans were taken in by a "con" game by Republicans last November former presidential candidate Al Sharpton said. Speaking to parishioners at Atlanta's Butler Street Christian Methodist Episcopal on Sunday, Sharpton said Bush manipulated the gay marriage debate to draw attention away from the Iraq war and his domestic problems.

    "I think George Bush manipulated a lot of religious feelings about marriage when the president has little or nothing to do with marriage," Sharpton said. "The president cannot order what marriage is for men or women," Sharpton said.

    "It was the place for a debate on Iraq, he's in charge of the military; health care, he's in charge of that; on Social Security, he's in charge of that," he told church goers. "But we should not relinquish the morality of the church to the office of president. He has nothing to do with that."


    Black "leaders" like Wooden are the problem, and those that follow them will drift to the GOP. It's part of the Rovian plan to divide and continue to conquer. Listen to Wooden's filth: "We have to block the use of euphemisms when we talk about homosexuals," Wooden said. "They are not gay. We've got to use terms like 'deviant' and 'abomination.'" The News and Observer article. With messages like that, it's no wonder you've got black men running on the down low.


    Armstrong Williams probably prefers the $240K payola story over this one



    The Raw Story is giving Armstrong Williams some heartburn over this not-so "down low" behavior resurfacing:
    The conservative columnist who was fired after accepting $240,000 to promote Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ law rebuked the NAACP for “charges of sexual harassment and economic improprieties” after settling a sexual harassment suit himself, RAW STORY has learned.

    ...In 1997, Williams was sued in a massive $200,000 50-charge sexual harassment suit for repeatedly kissing his once male trainer Stephen Gregory who he had promoted repeatedly into his talk-show staff. Gregory claimed Williams had also grabbed his buttocks and genitals and climbed into bed with him on business trips. After rebuffing him, Gregory alleged, the pundit retaliated by reducing his pay and subsequently firing him.


    At the time, the Williams had just teased an explosive quote from then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott who said that gays should be treated like those who have a problem with “alcohol … or sex addiction … or kleptomaniacs.”



    Falwell legal "ministry" has a 50-state agenda



    I saw a little news brief, earlier today -- "Conservatives Drop Gay Marriage Suit." It was a story about a group of wingnuts that apparently felt they couldn't follow through on a challenge to keep a lesbian couple from fighting for the right to marry in Florida. Liberty Counsel, was involved in this lawsuit. I didn't know of this outfit and the article didn't have any details. I did a little surfing and found out it is an arm of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. Its motto is "Restoring the Culture One Case at a Time by Advancing Religious Freedom, the Sanctity of Human Life and the Traditional Family." And they have plans to stay true to that motto by filing lawsuits across the country.

    Here's a snippet of the article on the suit that was dropped in Florida. (365Gay.com):
    A lawsuit by a group of Christian conservatives against a lesbian couple seeking to marry in Lee County, Florida has been dropped. The group, made up of a county clerk in Florida's Panhandle, more than a dozen notaries public, wedding chapels and churches, are still battling same-sex couples in other parts of the state.

    The were represented by Liberty Counsel, a Christian law firm that is fighting gay marriage throughout the country. Liberty Counsel has filed notice that it is abandoning the Lee County case.

    The other suits may also be abandoned, legal experts say, in light of a ruling last month in federal court where a judge dismissed a Liberty Counsel lawsuit seeking a legal ruling that upholds the state's defense of marriage act banning same-sex unions. All of the suits were meant to challenge cases brought by same-sex couples in the state seeking the right to marry.

    In the Lee County case, Liberty Counsel named Margaret Kelley and Cindy Koenig who are challenging the Florida's ban on gay marriage.


    Background on Liberty Counsel -- according to its web site, it is "a nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family. Established in 1989, Liberty Counsel is a national organization headquartered in Orlando, Florida, with branch offices in Virginia and hundreds of affiliate attorneys in all 50 states."




    Center for Constitutional Litigation and Policy's saviour of marriage Mathew D. Staver, president, general counsel, and lackey for Rev. Tinkywinky. Staver is also the author of "Same-Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk."

    The Center for Constitutional Litigation and Policy operates as one component of Liberty Counsel’s training, education and public policy program. The Center is headquartered on the campus of Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Center trains attorneys, law students, policy-makers, legislators, clergy and world leaders in constitutional principles and government policies.
    Also of note on their site is that they are listed as a non-profit "ministry." Here is their donation form. And listen to Rev. Tinkywinky:
    "Dr. Jerry Falwell, Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Chancellor of Liberty University, remarked, 'We want to infiltrate the culture with men and women of God who are skilled in the legal profession. . . . We'll be as far to the right as Harvard is to the left.' Every law school has a perspective from which they educate. The difference between Liberty and many other law schools is that we will tell you up front we intend to draw upon the best of the Western Legal Tradition while others will hide their perspective and claim they are objective. We make no apology that the Liberty is a Christian school and that we will draw from the well of the greatest thinkers who shaped our Western Legal Tradition."


    The agenda of this organization is comprehensive. Apparently not concerned with judicial activism anywhere in the 50 states, they plan to use their own brand of legal activism, guided by divine intervention, to reach their social engineering goals.
    Religious Freedom

    • California: a school district must allow a Christian group to meet in public schools at no charge, so that the first after-school Good News Club can share the gospel and teach character and morals to elementary students in the nation’s second largest school district
    • Florida: court ruled that Christian church could locate in the heart of Cassadaga, Florida, thus becoming the first Christian church to operate in the all-spiritualist community since 1894
    • Florida: settled prior to trial, requiring that a community college revise its literature distribution policy, after students were threatened with arrest for distributing religious literature on campus
    • Iowa: settled prior to trial, requiring school to repeal policy and adopt a new one which allows students to pass out religious literature
    • Kentucky: Ten Commandments set among historical documents regarding the development of American law and government is constitutional
    • Massachusetts: students must be allowed to pass out scripture verses; case resulted in best published legal opinion on the rights of students to distribute religious literature in public school
    • Michigan: settled before trial, requiring government housing authority to pay damages for attempting to evict woman for placing a religious sign in her window
    • Michigan: settled before trial, requiring school to adopt a new policy allowing students to distribute religious literature, including Campus Crusade For Christ “Survival Kits”
    • Ohio: settled prior to trial, causing city to drop criminal charge against owner of facility for allowing church to meet there, and causing city to adopt ordinance favorable to churches
    • Pennsylvania: court ruled that banning religious meeting in community center is unconstitutional
    • Texas: required county to repeal policy banning use of community room for religious meetings
    • Virginia: part of the state constitution found unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution, so that churches can incorporate and own unlimited amount of property for first time since 1777
    • Wisconsin: ruled that a city and state law banning literature distribution to occupants of vehicles or placing literature on cars are unconstitutional

    Sanctity of Human Life

    • Florida: court ruled against pro-abortion groups seeking to block “Choose Life” license plates
    • Florida: argued in favor of state law requiring informed consent for women considering abortion
    • Florida: successfully argued before U.S. Supreme Court, regarding rights of sidewalk counselors
    • Tennessee: settled before trial, requiring city to repeal law used to stop pro-life picketers

    Traditional Family Values
    • Florida: Took over case on appeal where judge ruled that sex and gender are in the mind, granting child custody to a transsexual
    • Georgia: first case ever to declare a Vermont civil union is not equivalent to marriage, and a state and federal Defense of Marriage Act permits a state to ban same sex unions

    Falwell and his bumper crop of legal eagles that he will ship out of his law school to push the Right's social agenda have a clear plan. What are we going to do to counter these tactics?


    NC's Coble suggests pullout in Iraq


    The gnome-like Greensboro congressman once said about internment of the Japanese, "We were at war. They [Japanese-Americans] were an endangered species. For many of these Japanese-Americans, it wasn’t safe for them to be on the street.”

    Southern-fried wingnut Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) had enough of the debacle in Iraq, and wants to bring troops home. As you see in the above caption, he is often given to shooting his mouth off without thinking, but if this staunch conservative is publicly turning on Bush's policy, Rove better shift into another spin gear. (Greensboro N&R):
    The 10-term congressman, head of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, said he is "fed up with picking up the newspaper and reading that we've lost another five or 10 of our young men and women in Iraq."

    Coble said he has noticed a shift among his constituents in the 6th Congressional District regarding their feelings about the war. Letters, phone calls and messages that had been overwhelmingly supportive of the war are now about even, his office said.

    "What we have are Iraqis killing Iraqis and American troops," Coble said. "All I'm saying is that a troop withdrawal ought to be an option. It ought to be placed on the table for consideration."

    Coble said he is seriously considering raising the issue of a troop withdrawal with his subcommittee, although he acknowledged the panel might not be the forum for it. "I'm going to keep talking about this," he said.

    OK. That last sentence is a shot over the bow at the White House. We know Coble isn't going to keep quiet on his own, so what will Shrub do to "correct" him? He goes on shoving the hot poker in the administration's eye...
    ... Coble voted to grant Bush the sweeping war-making powers believing that the administration had a "post-invasion strategy." Apparently, there was none, he said.

    "If there was, I wish someone would tell me what it is or show it to me," he said. "I'd like to see it."

    Coble said that if he had known there was no post-invasion strategy at the time of the vote on the war-powers resolution he would have "insisted that we keep our powder dry while we do some probing and planning."

    I'm no fan of his, but Howard better watch his back.


    House Blend LGBT News Roundup, 1/10/2005

    These are items of interest from the last week or so...

    Let's start off with the good news.

    Rabid wingnut homo-bigot preachers on the loose.




    General legislative, legal and community activism by your jolly neighborhood homophobes...


    State of the week -- Virginia.



    This is a smart bomb, right?

    Sunday, January 09, 2005



    The United States military acknowledged dropping a 500-pound bomb on the wrong house outside the northern city of Mosul on Saturday, killing five people. But the man who owned the house said the bomb killed 14 people — including seven children. (AP Photo)


    Civil unions take root in Vermont: the world has not ended.


    In an April 2001 photo, Vermonters who had entered civil unions gather on the steps of the Statehouse in Montpelier. (AP)

    Take note, folks in the homo-pocalyptic camp of Dobson, Falwell and Phelps. Vermont expected all sorts of political and social upheaval, and what happened when civil unions came to be? =crickets chirping=...From the Buffalo News.
    Less than five years ago, the idea of same-sex couples joining in a legal union akin to marriage was enough to rip apart the very social fabric of this small New England state that prides itself on its sense of community.

    ...Now, though, after 7,364 same-sex couples from around the world have been legally joined as spouses, civil unions have become a part of that social fabric. In a remarkable turnaround, Democrats who were largely blamed for forcing Vermont to confront the issue have returned to political dominance in the Statehouse. The new General Assembly includes five openly homosexual men, up from just one when civil unions were enacted.

    "I think there's still a small slice of the population who, for their own personal, religious reasons, can't abide anything to do with gay and lesbian people," said Steve Kimbell, a lawyer and lobbyist who represented civil union advocates in 2000.

    But "for a growing majority, the fact that life has gone on as usual means it's OK. More and more people are understanding who gay and lesbian people are around them," Kimbell said. "You can't be mean to people you know. These are people in the fabric of everyday life."



    NC: Triangle residents discuss same-sex civil marriage


    Suzanne Luper, left, the director of Triangle Pastoral Counseling, thinks marriage revolves around love whether or not the partners are of different sexes. David Kesterson, an accountant, opposes marriage between same-sex partners. Staff Photos by Ethan Hyman

    [Welcome, readers from RawStoryQ. There's an update at the end, with a short feature on what life is like in the Triangle for gay folks.]

    There's a great article by Yonat Shimron and Martha Quillan in today's Raleigh News & Observer, A struggle to define marriage, that takes a look at the issue at the local and national level. This area is generally a gay-friendly bubble of tolerance in an otherwise Red State, but it's interesting to read what is going through the minds of straight residents these days. The state has not yet placed an amendment to its constitution on the ballot, though two attempts failed prior to the election. Those that proposed the measures plan to bring them up again in this legislative session.
    David Kesterson and Suzanne Luper have much in common. Both their fathers were Baptist ministers. Both were born and reared in the South. Both married and had two children. Both are in their 50s. But on the thorny issue of same-sex marriage, they part ways. Kesterson of Raleigh thinks marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman. Luper of Wake Forest thinks it should be extended to two people who love each other, regardless of gender. Kesterson and Luper have made their decisions. Others may be prompted to make one soon.

    On Jan. 20, President Bush will be sworn in for his second term. If his campaign promise holds true, he will push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. If he doesn't, North Carolina's General Assembly, which convenes this month, may consider a state constitutional amendment.

    ...In North Carolina, where there was no ballot initiative, hundreds boarded buses to Washington to attend a "Mayday for Marriage" rally in October. A month earlier, they packed Raleigh's RBC Center to hear child psychologist James Dobson of the Colorado-based Focus on the Family speak of the sanctity of traditional marriage.

    ...An October poll by The News & Observer showed that 61 percent of North Carolina voters would favor an amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage. The poll's margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

    "There are a lot of people out there who hold traditional values," said Bill Brooks, president of the N.C. Family Policy Council. "It's hard to get them riled up. But they're willing to go to the polls and express their beliefs about marriage."

    Although a majority of North Carolinians appear to oppose same-sex marriage, gays and lesbians across the state have made strides in the past decade. Several municipalities, including Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Durham, have offered benefits to partners of gay employees. In November, Wilmington lawyer Julia Boseman was elected the first openly gay legislator in North Carolina history.


    Julia Boseman.

    [Julia Boseman's election was quite contentious with a great deal of homophobia dealt her way by her opponent, Woody White . The Wilmington (NC) StarNewsOnline withdrew its endorsement of White when he decided that gay baiting/gay bashing was a legitmate campaign tactic. I posted about that battle here.]

    "Despite the efforts to deny equal marriage rights, there's no going back culturally," said Mark Kleinschmidt, a Chapel Hill councilman who is openly gay. "The horse is out of the barn."

    ...For Kesterson, marriage is all about children. "With a mother and father you get balance," said Kesterson, who works from his home as an independent job recruiter. "I know there are husbands and wives that abuse their children. But I just think in the long run it's better for the parents to be a mom and a dad."

    ..."I can't condemn somebody to the point where I would deny them human companionship," Kesterson said. Gay and lesbian couples should be able to visit each other in hospital intensive care units, he said, and be able to handle other benefits legally.

    Several years ago, a gay couple moved in next door in their neighborhood, Cameron Park. Kesterson and his wife hoped for a family with children. But they've come to respect the two men.

    "These guys are great," he said. "They're kind, thoughtful, friendly, and they look after the neighborhood." He would go even further. If asked, he would be happy to be a witness to their civil union. But, he added, he would not attend a marriage ceremony.

    "Marriage is all about bringing people together who can make families," he said. "I don't buy that two fathers or two mothers are just as good."

    Preserving bonds

    ...In her 15 years as a counselor, Luper has come to believe that same-sex couples need marriage as much as straight couples.

    Growing up in Texas, Luper said she was influenced by her father's sermons, which stressed God's unconditional love. Her father was not the most progressive Baptist, she said, but he believed strongly in civil rights.


    "He used to say that God was big enough that he didn't need to be defended. God would allow us to ask questions."

    [Luper] went to work for Triangle Pastoral Counseling and expanded her client base to include many straight couples. Still, she says, 70 percent to 80 percent of her clientele is gay or lesbian, and she has spent thousands of hours talking with them about the difficulties they face, their fears, their joys, their heartbreaks.

    To those who fear that same-sex marriage would unravel the fabric of society, Luper claims just the opposite. "A marriage covenant plays a significant role in keeping people together during the times when everything is not perfect," Luper said.

    N&O staff writer Yonat Shimron's contact info:
    919-829-4891 or yshimron@newsobserver.com.





    Gay Christians from St.John's MCC Church. Photo: M.J. Sharp

    UPDATE: For an idea of what gay life is like in the Triangle, I highly recommend the Bob Moser article in the Independent Weekly, entitled In the Triangle, gay-bashing wasn't happening to us. Compared to the horrors of being gay in Alabama, this area is a queer paradise.
    In the 20-odd years since, the Triangle has been part of a revolution so quiet that even the revolutionaries hardly noticed it. Back in the early '80s, folks who wanted genuine queer culture--and genuine safety--still had no choice but to high-tail it to a handful of ultra-urban destinations: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, D.C. Now, the Triangle is part of a slowly expanding list of smaller cities and midsize metro areas where the sight of two women smooching in public is no more remarkable than a traffic jam.

    Becoming one of America's islands of tolerance is one hell of an accomplishment, especially when your island sits smack in the middle of a state that kept Uncle Jesse in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. For gay people lucky enough to live in the Triangle, the benefits are abundant. You can be openly queer without feeling like you're walking around with a "kick me" sign. You can read honest coverage of queer issues in predominantly straight media outlets like The Independent. You can sit back, send your $50 a year to the Human Rights Campaign, and feel like you've done your bit for gay rights.

    But there's something weird about living a life of such relative luxury when you know that just a few miles down the road, there's no shortage of places where being gay (or even suspected of it) means constantly looking over your shoulder, constantly wondering where the next taunt, the next wad of spit, the next blow might come from.




    Here's a real winning idea - Death Squads in Iraq



    Insanity. This is a solution to the mess Bush has created? In the latest Newsweek, it's revealed that the Pentagon is considering Special-Forces-led assassination or kidnapping squads in Iraq. You think civilian deaths are bad now? If this is put into place, we'll never know how bad it is, since it will be a black-ops-type affair. (MSNBC - "The Salvador Option"):
    ...the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. "What everyone agrees is that we can’t just go on as we are," one senior military officer told NEWSWEEK. "We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last November’s operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency—as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time—than in spreading it out.

    Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s.

    ...It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.


    Virginia's legislative mouthpiece for fundies, Cosgrove, responds

    In my prior post, "That fetus is mine, all mine," it covered the horrible bill that Alabama-native, and now Virginia state legislative delegate John A. Cosgrove has proposed. A woman could be thrown in jail for up to 12 months and pay a $2,500 fine for not filing with the police a record of "fetal death."

    Cosgrove obviously was sweating and had to put out some kind of response; it's lame. His bill isn't clear at all. Here is the full text, with the strikethroughs indicating his changes. What interest does the state have in knowing this information? How does collecting information serve any interest, other than moving to define a fetus as a person? He didn't answer that question at all. Cosgrove knows he just stepped on the third rail. Watch for more dissembling. Thanks to LisaDawn82 on Daily Kos for the letter:
    Hello:

    I am Delegate Cosgrove and I wish to respond to the allegations that have been made by those who have emailed and called my office. The intent of House Bill 1677 is to require the notification of authorities of a delivery of a baby that is dead and the mother has not been attended by a medical professional. This bill was requested by the Chesapeake Police Department in its legislative package due to instances of full term babies who were abandoned shortly after birth. These poor children died horrible deaths and all that the person responsible could be charged with is the improper disposal of a human body.

    The requirement for twelve hours comes from the method that a coroner would use to determine if the child had been born alive or dead. After twelve hours, it becomes next to impossible to determine if the child was alive due to decomposition gasses that build up in the body.

    My bill in no way intends that a woman who suffers a miscarriage should be charged for not notifying authorities. The bill in no way mentions miscarriages, only deliveries. After discussing the bill again with our legislative services lawyers, I will include language that will define the bill to apply only to those babies that are abandoned as stated above.

    I would never inflict this type of emotional torture on a woman who has suffered such a traumatic event as a miscarriage, and I am confident that the General Assembly of Virginia would also not pass such a terrible imposition on a woman.

    I hope that you will understand the original intent of this bill. This bill has nothing to do with abortion, contraception and especially miscarriages. If you were alarmed by this bill or by the websites, I am sorry. I hope that this will explain the concept and intent of this bill.

    Sincerely,

    John A. Cosgrove



    Cosgrove also earns bonus wingnut points for being part of the effort to strengthen Virginia's already oppressively homophobic laws. Virginia's Affirmation of Marriage Act prohibits a civil union, partnership contract or "other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage."

    Email: Del_Cosgrove@house.state.va.us

    UPDATE (1/9/2005): He also responded to Maura in VA, whose original post started all of this.
    I am delighted to report that Delegate Cosgrove has contacted me directly about HB1677. Delegate Cosgrove has been inundated with calls and emails today in response to the viral spread of this story via the internet, and he is doing his best to respond to them.

    He has asked me to share his email with you here, and I do so with thanks to him for his time and thought in composing it (emphasis mine)
    Dear Maura:

    I am Delegate Cosgrove and I wish to respond to your website and the allegations that have been made by those who have emailed and called my office. The intent of House Bill 1677 is to require the notification of authorities of a delivery of a baby that is dead and the mother has not been attended by a medical professional. This bill was requested by the Chesapeake Police Department in its legislative package due to instances of full term babies who were abandoned shortly after birth. These poor children died horrible deaths. If a coroner could not determine if the child was born alive, the person responsible for abandoning the child could only be charged with is the improper disposal of a human body.

    The requirement for the twelve hour notification timeframe comes from the method that a coroner would use to determine if the child had been born alive or dead. After twelve hours, it becomes next to impossible to determine if the child was alive due to decomposition gasses that build up in the body.

    My bill in no way intends that a woman who suffers a miscarriage should be charged for not notifying authorities. The bill in no way mentions miscarriages, only deliveries. However, after discussing the bill again with our legislative services lawyers, I have decided to include language that will define the bill to apply only to those babies that are claimed to have been stillborn and that are abandoned as stated above.

    I would never inflict the type of emotional torture on a woman who has suffered such a traumatic event as a miscarriage by making her notify authorities of her loss. I would also never impose criminal sanctions on a woman who has gone through this loss. And I am confident that the General Assembly of Virginia would also not pass such a terrible imposition on a woman. My mother experienced several miscarriages and I have other friends who have been devastated by losing their children through miscarriages.

    On a final note, your website advocates the use of emailing comments to my office. As for the emails that I have received, I have answered a few and will forward a similar explanation to those who sent them. I always seek to receive emails that express a point of view either in support or in opposition to an issue. The majority of emails I have received from this site, however, have been extremely abusive, condescending, and mean-spirited. That is never the way to communicate with another person and I hope that civil discourse would be your desire as well.

    I hope that you will post this explanation on your website and understand the original intent of this bill. If you feel the need to discuss this matter more fully, please do not hesitate to call. Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.

    Sincerely,

    John A. Cosgrove

    I have sent him an initial reply thanking him for his thoughtful response, and I plan to spend some time tomorrow night or Sunday in composing a more substantive post which addresses the information he provides here and asks him questions about the revisions he plans.




    CA wingnut: sex education=homo recruiting, necrophilia

    I don't have to make crap like this up; how this idiot equates sex ed with fornicating with a dead body is beyond reason. What's even more amazing is that the measure has approval by the Secretary of State's office. With kids having kids and the spread of all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases, especially in young people, this is part of the problem, not the solution. (365Gay.com):
    A Bay Area Christian conservative has begun to gather names for a ballot initiative to limit sex education in California public schools.

    The measure has received approval from the Secretary of State's office and Attorney General Bill Lockyer's staff has carefully worded the petition to include only a ban on sex ed in kindergarten through sixth grade and for daily parental permission slips for older students.

    The man behind it, Tony Andrade [a Republican businessman and one of the key figures behind the recall of former Gov. Gray Davis], says fears "homosexuals are using high schools as a recruiting ground".

    ...In his promotion for the new initiative he links classroom discussions of homosexuality and domestic partnership with bestiality, pedophilia and necrophilia.

    Along with media whore Lou Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition and Save California (part of Randy Thomasson's wingnut effort), Andrade gathered 100,000 signatures for a similar initiative last fall before a legal challenge derailed it.


    Check out the Actual Freeper Quotes™ on this...:
    "SEPARATION of SEX and STATE!!!!"

    "Today academics are talking about bestiality and pedophilia. What's to stop those from entering daily life and education in the future? The Bible? I don't think so. Either sexual perversions exist or there are no such things. You can't pick and choose among them."

    "Good for him! We need more courageous individuals to initiate similar challenges, especially in the state of Massachusetts."

    "Better than nothing. Meanwhile, young girls can get abortions without parental knowledge/consent. CALIFORNIA STINKS any way you look at it."




    University Worker Fired For Being Gay

    The sequence of events for this dismissal are obviously suspicious. Apparently if you are gay it hampers your ability to provide security to this Christian school. (365Gay.com):
    A Florida man who says he was fired from his job as a security guard because he is gay has filed a discrimination suit against Palm Beach Atlantic University.

    In court papers filed Friday Robert Oskey says that his problems with the Christian college began when someone gave his boss a copy a gay personals ad - which Oskey says he did not write. The supervisor, the suit alleges, threatened to fire Oskey if he were gay. At the time Oskey denied to the boss that he was gay.
    Several weeks later his supervisor confronted him again, this time with a nine-month-old police report showing that Oskey had been mugged near a gay bar. The university suspended him immediately. Several weeks later it fired him and when he appealed he was turned down without explanation when he appealed it, the complaint filed in state court says.

    ...Becky Peeling, a spokesperson for the university, refused to comment on the suit.

    The motto of this Christian college, BTW, is "Enlightening Minds, Enriching Souls, Extending Hands."

    Just so you know...
    Palm Beach Atlantic University
    901 S. Flagler Drive
    West Palm Beach, FL 33401
    561-803-2000 / 888-GO-TO-PBA
    Becky Peeling: becky_peeling@pba.edu


    Googlism and Neil Bush...



    Surf over to Googlism and enter Neil Bush for a few laughs. Here's what came back for me.
    neil bush is now an education reformer pushing history curriculum
    neil bush is best known for his business failures
    neil bush is a a principal in ignite
    neil bush is the founder of "open door ministries
    neil bush is crisscrossing the globe promoting a
    neil bush is founder
    neil bush is traveling the world raising money for his new education company
    neil bush is coming to town
    neil bush is condemning the practice for very personal reasons
    neil bush is selling software to jeb bush that
    neil bush is selling software to jeb bush that helps kids pass the tests
    neil bush is certainly exploiting his brother's name
    neil bush is the real billy carter
    neil bush is the founder
    neil bush is scheduled to attend a private reception monday welcoming ignite
    neil bush is the president’s brother and son of the former president who began the points of light award during his presidency over a decade ago
    neil bush is implicated in a
    neil bush is $145 per person
    neil bush is ranked 66 and has played for 4h31m in 14 days
    neil bush is chairman and chief executive officer of ignite
    neil bush is misguided in his suggestion that students be required to volunteer as part of the school curriculum
    neil bush is a former
    neil bush is a billion dollar punk
    neil bush is the andrew ridgely of the bush clan
    neil bush is her broker
    neil bush is traveling the world
    neil bush is in saudi arabia
    neil bush is set for life
    neil bush is about this year
    neil bush is the ceo of ignite learning and the son and brother to two presidents was supposed to be here to share his family's experience with a
    neil bush is sinking his toxic mitts into the education budget
    neil bush is convicted of offences in connection with the looting of millions of dollars from us savings and loans
    neil bush is the chairman and ceo of ignite
    neil bush is back
    neil bush is george's brother
    neil bush is spending wild
    neil bush is also involved in the testing business
    neil bush is on the board of silverado savings and loan
    neil bush is facing civil charges of improper conduct in his directorship of silverado savings and loan
    neil bush is president of the company
    neil bush is planning a run for mayor of toronto
    neil bush is not the only son of the president involved with a failed savings and loan
    neil bush is hooked on phonics
    neil bush is aa principal in ignite
    neil bush is involving himself in foreign policy
    neil bush is ranked 54 and has played for 3h34m in 30 days
    neil bush is ranked 124 and has played for 4h48m in 30 days
    neil bush is and what
    neil bush is traveling the
    neil bush is crisscrossing the
    neil bush is also involved in the
    neil bush is these days? remember


    Good news on the LGBT front...

    Saturday, January 08, 2005

    Nice to post some good news like this! (Advocate.com):
    The Point Foundation, the first national foundation to support academic achievement in higher education by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths, has opened its 2005 application season by announcing 10 new scholarships.

    This year Point will offer three additional scholarships for undergraduates at American University in Washington, D.C., funded through the foundation's Carlos Enrique Cisneros Scholarship Fund; five new scholarships to San Diego-area students, funded by San Diego-area community leaders Norman Blachford and Peter Cooper; and two new scholarships, sponsored by MTV and mtvU, for students attending colleges or universities that broadcast the mtvU campus television network.

    In addition, the foundation increased the total number of scholarships for 2005-2006. "Last year more than 1,000 deserving students opened applications with us," said Vance Lancaster, the Point Foundation's executive director. "We are thrilled to move a little closer to meeting the demand for support in the transition from high school to college and from college to career or graduate studies. So many young people get lost in these transitions. This is even more true for gay youth who have lost the support of their families and friends."

    Point scholars are chosen for their demonstrated leadership, scholastic achievement, extracurricular activities, involvement in the gay and lesbian community, and financial or emotional need. Point scholars are currently attending many of the nation's most prestigious universities, including Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, the University of North Carolina, and many others.

    The application deadline for this year's scholarships is March 1. The application process is open to students nationwide for both undergraduate and graduate studies. For additional information visit www.thepointfoundation.org.


    ***

    Louisiana group endorses openly gay candidate. Chris Daigle is running to become the first openly gay, HIV positive member of the Louisiana Legislature. He's running for the House of Representatives seat vacated by Ed Murray of New Orleans, who was elected to state Senate. Equality Louisiana announced it was endorsing Daigle's candidacy. Group members say they're tired of the narrow-mindedness and bigotry shown against gays and lesbians by current lawmakers.


    Archbishop in Spain: "homosexuality is an epidemic"


    There's a lot I could say here. I'll just leave it alone.

    Oh come f*cking on -- this man is saying things right out of the discredited "ex-gay" movement manual. Spain's government is going to legalize same sex marriage anyway. The British pastoral counseling movement has abandoned the attempt to change orientation; perhaps Archbishop Fernando Sebastian should be sent the link to their conclusion. (The Australian):
    Spain's government may be bent on delivering legislation to allow marriages between same-sex couples, but Catholic church opposition hardened today with an archbishop labelling homosexuality an "epidemic".

    "(There is) a veritable epidemic of homosexuality, a fount of psychological problems and painful frustrations," said Fernando Sebastian, archbishop of Pamplona in northern Spain and secretary of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

    "Homosexuals, if they wish, and with well-targeted help, can change their situation," he said, adding: "For me, all are sons of God, and all deserve the same respect."

    The churchman said it was justifiable for the state to regulate "some aspects and some consequences" arising from gay cohabitation, but he was opposed to changing legislation on the definition of marriage, which the church regarded as a sacred partnership between a man and a woman.


    No Child Left Behind: the Bush family cashes in too


    Neil Bush has a colorful history, including failed S&Ls, insider stock trading scandals, and well, general Bush family corruption.

    We already know that Armstrong Williams received a handsome payday from the taxpayer for pimping No Child Left Behind for Bush, but House Blend reader Ms. Julien in Miami pointed out that the Bush family (it turns out Neil) benefits directly from No Child Left Behind. We went digging and collected a bit of info that is quite interesting.

    Neil Bush founded Ignite Incorporated, a software company that helps students prepare to take comprehensive tests required under the No Child Left Behind act. A phone call to Ignite's toll free number (1.866.464.4648, ext 113) with a search for a company directory by name for Neil Bush gets his extension, so it's still his baby with the dough rolling in.

    Here's a little more info on Neil's profiteering down in Florida: Governor's Brother Marketing School Software (FlaNews.com):
    Some politicians are questioning whether Governor Jeb Bush's brother Neil is trying to use the FCAT to make a buck. Neil Bush founded a company that provides software to help students take standardized tests. Critics say it doesn't look right for Neil Bush to be marketing his software to Florida schools.

    Ignite, Incorporated makes computer software to help children prepare for standardized tests like florida's FCAT. Students at an Orlando-area middle school are using the software as part of a pilot program. Founder Neil Bush is the brother of Governor Jeb and President George Bush.

    The arrangements is raising eyebrows at the state Democratic Party. Spokesman Ryan Banfill says having one brother selling something to help students on a test spearheaded by another brother and sanctioned by the president doesn't look good. "We think that there's an appearance of impropriety here," Banfill said. "We think that in the name of all that's good and ethical, that maybe Neil Bush should step back and not try to make money off of Florida's FCAT."



    Here's a little more info on Neil's profiteering down in Florida. This was back in 2002, probably long before Armstrong Williams got to belly up to the taxpayer's bar: Governor's Brother Marketing School Software (FlaNews.com):
    Some politicians are questioning whether Governor Jeb Bush's brother Neil is trying to use the FCAT to make a buck. Neil Bush founded a company that provides software to help students take standardized tests. Critics say it doesn't look right for Neil Bush to be marketing his software to Florida schools.

    Ignite, Incorporated makes computer software to help children prepare for standardized tests like florida's FCAT. Students at an Orlando-area middle school are using the software as part of a pilot program. Founder Neil Bush is the brother of Governor Jeb and President George Bush.

    The arrangements is raising eyebrows at the state Democratic Party. Spokesman Ryan Banfill says having one brother selling something to help students on a test spearheaded by another brother and sanctioned by the president doesn't look good. "We think that there's an appearance of impropriety here," Banfill said. "We think that in the name of all that's good and ethical, that maybe Neil Bush should step back and not try to make money off of Florida's FCAT."

    Ignite wanted 30 dollars-per-year-per-student for its software for this deal, netting 60 million dollars.

    Check out Ignite's News Page to see how kids all over the country are "benefiting" from its programs as Neil carries bags of cash to the bank.


    Armstrong Williams, man of principle


    Hilarious graphic, grabbed from Moeman on DKos.

    UPDATE (1/8):
    Williams' lame response to the criticism of being Bush's whore on NCLB, taking $240K of the taxpayers' money: "It's a fine line," he said Friday. "Even though I'm not a journalist — I'm a commentator — I feel I should be held to the media ethics standard. My judgment was not the best. I wouldn't do it again, and I learned from it."

    Editor and Publisher: Armstrong Williams Column Axed by TMS

    Three Democratic senators — Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Harry Reid of Nevada wrote the president demanding Bush recover the money paid to Armstrong. PDF of the letter is here.

    National Association of Black Journalists Blasts Armstrong Williams-White House Pay-Off.
    The National Association of Black Journalists calls on the White House to rebuke those in the Department of Education who used taxpayer dollars to pay off conservative commentator Armstrong Williams in an attempt to influence public opinion on administration policy...NABJ calls on all media outlets – radio, television and print – that feature Williams’ show, use him as a TV commentator or run his syndicated column to drop him immediately. “I thought we in the media were supposed to be watchdogs, not lapdogs,” said NABJ Vice President-Print Bryan Monroe, assistant vice president-news at Knight Ridder. “I thought we had an administration headed by a president who took an oath to uphold the First Amendment, not try to rent it.” [And more piling on...] “He’s lost his credibility,” said NABJ Vice President-Broadcast Barbara Ciara, managing editor-anchor at WTKR-TV in Norfolk. “He’s tainted fruit. And he’s unfairly indicted all commentators who have their own independent opinion, don’t need a script from the administration and don’t need to be paid off.”

    Thanks to House Blend Reader Katherine, who shared her letter to the NABJ:
    From: [email address omitted]
    Sent: Friday, January 07, 2005 9:45 AM
    To: nabj@nabj.org
    Subject: armstrong williams

    I am so thoroughly disgusted to learn that this current administration can successfully buy the work of a journalist to promote its propaganda regarding the No Child Left Behind program and other educational policies. I hope that the NABJ will stand up and speak out on this distortion of journalism. Your organization once honored my dear late father-in-law...He devoted himself to encouraging minorities and the disenfranchised to consider journalism as a career. I know he would be heartbroken to see the sorry state that journalism has fallen into in recent years. Please speak out for ethical and professional behavior of all journalists.

    Sincerely,

    Katherine [last name omitted]

    And she received a prompt response from NABJ's VP/Print Bryan Monroe (bmonroe@knightridder.com), indicating that the above statement had been released. Thanks, NABJ and all those that registered their disbelief and outrage at this idiot Williams. Let's see if the money is forthcoming; Armstrong doesn't want to give it back.


    ***

    1/7/2004:
    More on the fallout from the Williams payola here: Feds paid pundit to push Bush policy.

    And here is a transcript of CNN's Bill Hemmer kicking Armstrong's *ss. Scroll about halfway down for the goodies.

    Oh, and I had the first DKos diary up on this story this AM, here.


    Virginia bill HB1677: That fetus is mine, all mine.


    Virginia legislative delegate John A. Cosgrove (R-78) says "all your wombs are belong to us."

    I've been warning that this climate of legal antagonism and irrational hatred toward gays is just the start of the Right's culture war. As much as they want to wind the clock back and re-closet homosexuality, they also intend to put women back "in their place," where the womb can be controlled.

    The latest attempt by a state legislature to intrude into a woman's privacy was submitted by cretin John A. Cosgrove. Here is the summary of HB 1677:
    Provides that when a fetal death occurs without medical attendance, it shall be the woman's responsibility to report the death to the proper law-enforcement agency within 12 hours of the delivery. Violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

    What does this mean? A woman can be thrown in jail for up to 12 months and pay a $2,500 fine. There is comprehensive coverage on this by Maura in VA on the blog Democracy for Virginia, and I'm excerpting from there:
    Does the punishment fit the “crime”?
    Suffering a miscarriage is no crime, but Delegate Cosgrove wants to make it a crime for a woman to fail to violate her own privacy in the first 12 hours after a miscarriage, so let’s look at his proposed penalty.

    Cosgrove's bill says, “A violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

    Let's see. What other crimes are punishable as Class 1 misdemeanors in Virginia?  A cursory Google search reveals just a few...

  • A person 18 years of age or older engaging in consensual intercourse with a child 15 or older not his spouse, child or grandchild (more commonly known as "statutory rape")

  • burning or destroying a building or structure if the property therein is valued at less than $200 (arson)

  • a bomb threat made by someone younger than 15

  • carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

  • possession or distribution of fraudulent drivers’ licenses or official identification

  • stalking

  • threatening any public school employee while on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity

  • purchasing or providing alcohol to minors


  • So, Delegate Cosgrove is basically saying that failing to violate your own privacy within 12 hours of a miscarriage is the criminal equivalent of statutory rape, arson, stalking, and other serious crimes.

    ...The legislative agenda of numerous anti-abortion groups includes increased reporting of fetal deaths and issuance of death certificates for miscarriages.  The point is to advance the legal recognition of "personhood" for all "products of conception".

    In the 2003 legislative session in Virginia, a law was passed allowing parents to request a “birth certificate” for a stillbirth, a law that is clearly in line with the agenda of anti-abortion extremists to recognize embryonic and fetal personhood.  The fact that Virginia is one of the few states that requires reporting of deaths of all "products of conception" regardless of gestational age plays in to this anti-abortion agenda.

    Though there is no practical benefit to the Commonwealth in collecting this information from women - in fact, there would be considerable burden placed on local law enforcement agencies This bill places the advancement of the cause of recognizing legal "personhood" for all products of conception far above the concerns of the Commonwealth and of the dignity of individual women whose privacy would be violated.

    I will give this heinous bill some props for honesty by the Right wing in Virginia -- they are being both clear honest about the intent, putting the onus and legal resposibility on the woman for the fetus and what happens to it. Most of the time the argument surrounds punishing the doctor, or having no real answer when pinned to the mat by someone about who gets punished if, say, abortion was recriminalized. For instance, Tom "sterilize-'em Dr. Mengele" Coburn, the new Senator in OK, has called not just for outlawing abortion but for the death penalty for doctors who break such a law. You see where this is going.

    I hope and pray that the Right follows Cosgrove's lead and makes it clear what the real intention of the Right is for the culture war -- control of women and devaluation of their rights. Let's make the real intent an open discussion.

    Obviously, this is something Virginians should take action on with their local officials, and for all others to spread the word. Cosgrove is an agent of the anti-choice Right's "values" agenda. If he succeeds, there will be a domino effect in other states.

    Delegate John A. Cosgrove
    General Assembly Building
    P.O. Box 406
    Richmond, Virginia 23218
    Phone: (804) 698-1078
    Fax: (804) 786-6310
    Constituent Viewpoint: (800)-889-0229
    Email: Del_Cosgrove@house.state.va.us

    There is also a Daily Kos diary on this by Maura in VA.

    Thanks to House Blend reader Winged Cat for the pointer.


    Reputed Klansman arrested in 1964 Neshoba County civil rights slayings

    Friday, January 07, 2005


    On June 29, 1964, the FBI began distributing these pictures of civil rights workers, from left, Michael Schwerner, 24, of New York, James Chaney, 21, from Mississippi, and Andrew Goodman, 20, of New York, who disappeared near Philadelphia, Miss., June 21, 1964. The three civil rights workers, part of the 'Freedom Summer' program, were abducted, killed and buried in an earthen dam in rural Neshoba County. (AP Photo/FBI)

    In an earlier post, I talked about an anonymous donor offering $100K reward for information leading to murder charges. They've finally arrested one, and are looking for more. (AP):
    Reputed Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen was arrested late Thursday on murder charges in the 1964 slaying of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, officials said.


    Edgar Ray Killen, pictured as a thirty-eight-year-old, was the point man in the conspiracy to murder three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi on June 21, 1964.

    Neshoba County Sheriff Larry Myers told The Associated Press that Killen, a 79-year-old preacher, was arrested at home without incident.

    The grand jury considered whether sufficient evidence existed after 40 years to bring charges in the crimes that were dramatized in the movie "Mississippi Burning." Killen was identified in testimony in earlier federal court proceedings as having a role in the killings.

    ...Seven Klansmen were convicted of federal conspiracy charges in the killings and sentenced to prison terms ranging from three years to 10 years. None served more than six years. But the state never brought murder charges.

    [Read what this self-serving sadistic (and unrepentant) bastard below has to say. --Pam]


    Billy Wayne Posey, one of the handful convicted for heinous crime so far.

    "After 40 years to come back and do something like this is ridiculous ... like a nightmare," said Billy Wayne Posey, one of the men convicted. The graying Posey, supported by a cane, refused to say what he expected to be asked by the grand jury.

    Goodman's mother, Carolyn Goodman, said she "knew that in the end the right thing was going to happen."

    "As I have said many times before, I'm not looking for revenge. I'm looking for justice," Goodman, 89, said from her home in New York.




    AZ voters will be asked to ban gay marriage, civil unions

    This is the kind of hateful amendment that we have to work hard to stop from passing as they come up in vulnerable states. There is no other reason for also barring civil unions except homophobia. The wingnut supporters of the amendment want it styled after the Ohio one, which says the state "shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage." (Arizona Daily Star ):
    Arizona voters will be asked to ban gay marriage, bar courts and lawmakers from approving civil unions and preclude cities and counties from providing benefits to the domestic partners of their workers.


    Cathi Herrod, director the f*cktard Center for Arizona Policy, needs to bash gays to feel comfortable about her marriage.

    The decision was made Wednesday in a meeting with lawmakers to have the Legislature put a constitutional amendment on the 2006 ballot that is as expansive as possible, said Cathi Herrod, lobbyist for the Center for Arizona Policy. She said that means not only defining marriage as between one man and one woman but ensuring that government does not grant 'substitutes' to marriage.

    If approved by voters, the measure would annul the practices of several localities, including Tucson, Tempe and Pima County, which extend the same benefits given to spouses of workers to their partners. And it also would nullify the domestic-partner registry run by the city of Tucson.

    The proposal appears to have sufficient legislative support to send it to the ballot, according to a Senate Republican leader, Majority Whip Jay Tibshraeny. It would not affect practices of private companies.

    ...Herrod, whose group promotes itself as 'restoring traditional moral principles,' said the proposal would cement an exact definition of marriage into the state constitution."


    Actual Freeper Quotes™:
    "We made the mistake in California of restring the marriage amendment to marriage only and not to civil unions as well. Now we have a "Marriage in all but name" bill passed in our legislature. Good luck Arizona."

    "A great developement! Hopefully more and more states will get these amendments. We will NOT accept further degredation of this 2000 year old institution upon which western society is built, as appeasement to 2% of the population."

    "I agree. The gays have clearly overplayed their hand by trying to force it down our throats."


    Rotting Cryptkeeper Phelps heaps misery on family of Swedish boy

    In the name of Christianity, not even a missing child, is free from Fred Phelps's hate machine...

    Thanks to House Blend reader JJ for the pointer.


    More Bush propaganda shilling policies disguised as "news and commentary"

    As we watch Armstrong Williams squirm on the networks about prostituting himself for the Bush administration, there's wind that this kind of deceptive activity is more than a one-off experiment for the White House. (WPost via Boston.com):
    Shortly before last year's Super Bowl, local news stations across the country aired a story by Mike Morris describing plans for a new White House ad campaign on the dangers of drug abuse.

    What viewers did not know was that Morris is not a journalist and his ''report" was produced by the government, actions which constituted illegal ''covert propaganda," according to an investigation by the Government Accountability Office.

    In the second ruling of its kind, the investigative arm of Congress this week scolded the Bush administration for distributing phony prepackaged news reports that include a ''suggested live intro" for anchors to read, interviews with Washington officials, and a closing that mimics a typical broadcast news sign-off.

    Although television stations knew the materials were produced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, there was nothing in the two-minute, prepackaged reports that would indicate to viewers that they came from the government or that Morris, a former journalist, was working under contract for the government.

    ''You think you are getting a news story but what you are getting is a paid announcement," said Susan Poling, managing associate general counsel at the Government Accountability Office. ''What is objectionable about these is the fact the viewer has no idea their tax dollars are being used to write and produce this video segment."

    In May, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the Department of Health and Human Services violated two federal laws with similar fake news reports touting the administration's new Medicare drug benefit. When that opinion was released, officials at the drug control office decided to stop the practice, spokesman Thomas Riley said.

    ''Our lawyers disagree with the GAO interpretation," he said. Nevertheless, if the video releases were going to be ''controversial or create an appearance of a problem," the agency decided it was not worth pursuing, he said.

    If the videos had been identified as coming from the federal agency, that would have been legal, Poling said. But the television package looks like an authentic piece of independent journalism.

    This is truly scandalous and illegal activity, designed to manipulate the distracted audience, who isn't going to ask whether the news source is a legitimate one. Actually, there's not much you can trust out there as unbiased, but this activity is government-sponsored, and therefore propaganda. ILLEGAL. Where is the Dem outrage?

    Thanks to House Blend reader Patrick for the pointer.


    Army wants reservists for longer tours

    Want to see recruitment plummet to the floor? Let this go into effect. (MSNBC):
    Stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army is considering a National Guard and Reserve policy shift that could result in part-timers’ being called to active duty multiple times for up to two years each time, a senior Army general said Thursday. The officer, who discussed the matter with a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity because the matter has not been fully settled inside the Defense Department, said the Army would probably ask Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to change the policy in the next several months.

    The officer also said it appeared likely that the Army would ask Congress to permanently increase the statutory size of the Army by 30,000 soldiers, to 512,000. He said that decision would be made next year. The Army has the authority to add 30,000 soldiers, but it arranged for the boost to be only temporary because it did not want a long-term commitment to the cost of a larger force. But now it appears that the Army has no choice but to accept a permanent increase, the general said. The Army estimates that a permanent increase of 30,000 soldiers would cost it about $3 billion a year.

    ...Under current policy, set by Rumsfeld, a Guard or Reserve member is not to serve on active duty for more than 24 total months. Thus, for example, if a Guard or Reserve member was mobilized for six months after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and later for nine months in Afghanistan, then that person is off limits for duty in Iraq because a yearlong tour there would exceed the 24-month limit. A standard tour in Iraq, for both active-duty and reserve forces, is 12 months. If the limit were set at 24 consecutive months, with some break between tours, then in theory a Guard or Reserve member could be mobilized for multiple 12- or 24-month tours in Iraq or elsewhere.

    That is the kind of flexibility the Army has decided it needs to sustain the forces needed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the officer said. He stressed that the Army would make only sparing use of the authority to call up soldiers for longer tours because it would not want to alienate soldiers.

    The draft is coming.


    Black wingnut Armstrong Williams - whore of the Bush admin



    I'm not shocked that the White House has to buy support for its policies, but this is just one more reason why you cannot trust the media any more. Armstrong Williams is a real, honest-to-god whore for No Child Left Behind. Who else in the media is on the payroll and pretending to spout their "own opinions" on relevant issues? This is complete bullsh*t, completely illegal. This is government propoganda, officially sanctioned and paid for by your tax dollars. White House paid commentator to promote law (USA Today):
    Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.

    The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.

    Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."

    The top Democrat on the House Education Committee, Rep. George Miller of California, called the contract "a very questionable use of taxpayers' money" that is "probably illegal." He said he will ask his Republican counterpart to join him in requesting an investigation.

    The contract, detailed in documents obtained by USA TODAY through a Freedom of Information Act request, also shows that the Education Department, through the Ketchum public relations firm, arranged with Williams to use contacts with America's Black Forum, a group of black broadcast journalists, "to encourage the producers to periodically address" NCLB. He persuaded radio and TV personality Steve Harvey to invite Paige onto his show twice. Harvey's manager, Rushion McDonald, confirmed the appearances.

    Williams said he does not recall disclosing the contract to audiences on the air but told colleagues about it when urging them to promote NCLB.

    "I respect Mr. Williams' statement that this is something he believes in," said Bob Steele, a media ethics expert at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies. "But I would suggest that his commitment to that belief is best exercised through his excellent professional work rather than through contractual obligations with outsiders who are, quite clearly, trying to influence content."

    The contract may be illegal "because Congress has prohibited propaganda," or any sort of lobbying for programs funded by the government, said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "And it's propaganda."

    ...Williams' contract was part of a $1 million deal with Ketchum that produced "video news releases" designed to look like news reports. The Bush administration used similar releases last year to promote its Medicare prescription drug plan, prompting a scolding from the Government Accountability Office, which called them an illegal use of taxpayers' dollars.

    Who else in the media is on the payroll and pretending to spout their "own opinions" on relevant issues? I'd like to see The National Association of Black Journalists take this whore out.



    Freepers react to SpongeBob and Barney promoting tolerance

    Thursday, January 06, 2005



    Remember my post on the American Family Association's unhinged thinking that a children's video on tolerance is "opening the door" to discussing homosexuality? I decided to visit the Freepers, and they are dribbling and oozing over this as well...


    Actual Freeper Quotes™

    "Oak Hay, so I'm very disturbed and continually puzzled about how a small bunch of contrary to nature freaks can destroy our entire civilization. . . BUT DAMMIT, THEY'RE DOING IT !!! These unsavory and unclean sub-human creatures delight in ramming their urine exhaust pipes into the rectal relief tubes of young boys (and of each other) !!! They brag and crow loudly about their filthy behavior !!! They demand access to our young and innocent children... so they can commit sodomy and oral sex acts upon them!!! Then they scream and holler..."Homophobe"... when we seek to save our children from their filthy and immoral activities!!! WHY IS THIS ALLOWED TO CONTINUE IN THIS ONCE-FREE REPUBLIC ??? DO WE NOT HAVE THE RIGHT AND MORAL DUTY TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM SLIME LIKE THIS ???"

    "Well said and shouted--we must fight these idiots every chance in every venue--and it ain't happening yet! When will a truly rights group take center stage? Lawsuits, boycotts, protests, shunning, and physical violence when prompted--is the only things that'll work. I'm ready."

    "SpongeBob rules, these guys should be shot for defaming him so."

    "I don't know about Barney but a gay acquaintance of mine really likes Sponge Bob a lot."

    "Barney, the lisping, lavender, light-in-his-loafers dinosaur is gay-friendly? Gee, go figure."

    [And one sane Freeper -- shhhh - don't let them know -- Pam]

    "Another Not this S### again moment. People will see in these cartoons what they want to see. The arguments against these, just like those against the Telltubies (sp?) or Bert and Ernie, are a real stretch. Some people are just obsessed with anything that could be considered gay. I am waiting for the same crowd to now complain about purple cars and want to boycot GM.!"

    [...who then gets slapped down by a genuine Freep -- Pam]

    "Maybe before you open your trap you should check out the teacher guide that goes along with this propoganda crap that they are pushing. People are sick and tired of the liberals forcing their agenda on us and especially our children. Liberals take small steps to change the culture do you need to see examples or are you really that stupid?"




    NY town drops domestic partnership coverage

    They are claiming the expense (only two employees are signed up), but it's intolerance rumbling. (NYT):
    our years ago, Eastchester became one of the first communities in Westchester County to offer health benefits to the domestic partners of its employees. Critics charged that the town supervisor had rammed the plan through and voted him out of office. Now Eastchester has become the first town in New York to end the benefits.

    At a meeting Tuesday night, the Town Board voted 3 to 2 to approve new union contracts and to end a town policy of providing coverage for domestic partners. The town's Civil Service Employees Association and police union agreed to dropping the coverage, saying their members had more pressing concerns. The two employees who have made use of the benefits will be allowed to continue to do so, but new employees will not be eligible.

    Town officials say they took the action to save money, but when the issue arose four years ago, one local group condemned the idea of domestic partner benefits as an effort by gay activists to promote same-sex marriage. Gay rights groups said yesterday that the town's decision was a dangerous step backward that could eat away at policies that have become common in government and the private sector.

    "The town is out of step with what has become an established trend," said Ross Levi, director of public policy and government affairs for Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay rights group. "One set of families is going to get protection, and another set is going to be left out in the cold."

    "This is a real victory," Raymond W. Belair, a lawyer with Family First, a local group that opposed the policy, said yesterday.

    In 2002, the group filed a lawsuit against the town, which it now plans to drop, and collected more than 1,100 signatures on a petition opposing the policy. After Mr. Colavita said he was willing to end the policy, the group endorsed his candidacy, and he narrowly won the 2003 primary.

    "This was always about the gay lobby chipping away to get to marriage," Mr. Belair said. "And right now there is nothing more important than preserving marriage."


    Kid Rock: tasteful "values-based" entertainment for the Bush inauguration


    Please give this man a bar of soap.

    Via AmericaBlog. The family values Right crowd is losing its cookies over the fact that Kid Rock (the talentless, redneck, unbathed, "rock-rap" star known mostly for boinking Pam Anderson) will be performing at the inauguration. How delightful to see them riled up, fixated on "oral sex" and "f*ck"...I think someone there is getting a woody. (WorldNetDaily):
    Kid Rock, a popular vulgar rock-rapper whose lyrics wouldn't begin to pass muster with the Federal Communications Commission, is headlining the youth concert during the inauguration festivities for President Bush – a politician who was re-elected largely due to the participation of traditional "values voters."

    The Detroit-based rapper, who dedicated his first album to songs about oral sex and who was voted the Sluttiest Male Celebrity at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards, will perform Jan. 18 at the Washington, D.C., Armory in a concert hosted by Bush daughters Jenna and Barbara. Teenage singer JoJo also will appear at the event.

    Kid Rock's first album, "Grit Sandwiches for Breakfast," fixates on oral sex, including one song, "Yo Da Lin In The Valley," that describes the lyricist's exploits with multiple women in detail. Another similar tune is "Wax the Booty."

    Also featured on his 1990 debut album is "Pimp of the Nation," which ironically takes a swipe at Bush's mother. The lyrics include:


    I hope he doesn't mean this Barbara.

    Pimp of the Nation, I could be it
    As a matter of a fact, I foresee it
    But only pimpin' hoes with the big tush
    While you be left pimpin' Barbara Bush


    Some of Kid Rock's songs include the F-word in their title, such as "F--- U Blind" and "F--- Off."


    And then we have some precious commentary from our homo-hating friend Randy Thomasson...he's really getting horny over Kid...
    After reading some of Kid Rock's lyrics, Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, was outraged the rapper would be a part of the president's festivities.


    "I just read Kid Rock's sexually explicit lyrics and feel ashamed and dirty for even looking at his songs," he told WND. "If this sex-crazed animal, whose favorite word is the F-word, is allowed to sing at Bush's inauguration this will send a clear message to pro-family Americans that the Republican Party has taken them for a ride and ditched them in the gutter."

    ...Concluded Thomasson: "It makes me angry. … This is a good reason to leave the Republican Party."

    Fear not, gentle GOP attendees, there will be a performance of John Ashcroft's "Let the Eagle Soar" to soothe your ears.


    Barbara Boxer supports debate on Ohio vote



    The Brad Blog has been all over the election/vote rigging story, and so when it manages to get this far, you know the hard work, phone calls and motivation of folks has paid off. I'm wondering why lame-o Kerry, who wanted "every vote to be counted", is not on board. Democrats to Force Debate on Ohio Results (AP):
    A small group of Democrats agreed Thursday to force House and Senate debates on Election Day problems in Ohio before letting Congress certify President Bush's win over Sen. John Kerry in November.

    While Bush's victory is not in jeopardy, the Democratic challenge will force Congress to interrupt tallying the Electoral College vote, which had been scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. EST Thursday. It would be only the second time since 1877 that the House and Senate were forced into separate meetings to consider electoral votes.

    Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., signed a challenge mounted by House Democrats to Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which put Bush over the top. By law, a protest signed by members of the House and Senate requires both chambers to meet separately for up to two hours to consider it. Lawmakers are allowed to speak for no more than five minutes each.

    "I have concluded that objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate way to bring these issues to light by allowing you to have a two-hour debate to let the American people know the facts surrounding Ohio's election," Boxer wrote in a letter to Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, a leader of the Democratic effort.

    The action seems certain to leave Bush's victory intact because both Republican-controlled chambers would have to uphold the objection for Ohio's votes to be invalidated. But supporters of the drive hope their move will shine a national spotlight on the Ohio voting problems.

    Underscoring that the outcome was not in doubt, Kerry, who conceded to Bush the day after the Nov. 2 election, said he would not join the challenge.

    UPDATE: The Brad Blog reports that Boxer will also be supported by at least the following Democratic Senators: Hillary Clinton (NY), Harry Reid (NV), Barack Obama (IL), Dick Durbin (IL) and Christopher Dodd (CT).


    CNN lets dork 'Crossfire' host Carlson go, cans the show


    See ya...

    CNN's also putting Crossfire out of its misery with a bullet to the head. I love the quote from CNN's Jonathan Klein, basically agreeing with Jon Stewart that Crossfire sucked rocks. (AP):
    CNN said goodbye to pundit Tucker Carlson on Wednesday, and with him likely the "Crossfire" program that has been the granddaddy of high-volume political debate shows on cable television. CNN will probably fold "Crossfire" into its other programming, perhaps as an occasional segment on the daytime show "Inside Politics," said Jonathan Klein, who was appointed in late November as chief executive of CNN's U.S. network.

    Klein on Wednesday told Carlson, one of the four "Crossfire" hosts, that CNN would not be offering him a new contract. Carlson has been talking with MSNBC about a prime-time opening replacing Deborah Norville. [God no... --Pam]

    ...The bow-tied wearing conservative pundit got into a public tussle last fall with comic Jon Stewart, who has been critical of cable political programs that devolve into shoutfests.

    "I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp," Klein told The Associated Press.


    Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales Shovels the Sh*t

    Read Gonzales's prepared opening statement without your jaw dropping. I am excerpting here, the rest is online. (WPost):
    ...Mr. Chairman, the highest objective of the Department of Justice is the pursuit of justice. This noble objective -- justice -- is reflected in human terms in the hopeful eyes of a new citizen, voting for the first time; in the quiet gratitude of a victim of crime whose rights have been vindicated in the courts; and in the pride of a person given the opportunity to succeed, no matter the skin color, or gender, or disability. For justice, properly understood, cannot in my view be divorced from the individual. It always has a human dimension and if confirmed as attorney general, I pledge that I will always remember that.


    James Byrd, dragged to death in Texas; murdered gay Alabamian Billy Jack Gaither. Will Gonzales care about people like these?

    If confirmed as attorney general, I will no longer represent only the White House; I will represent the United States of America and its people. I understand the differences between the two roles. In the former, I have been privileged to advise the president and his staff. In the latter, I would have a far broader responsibility: to pursue justice for all the people of our great nation; to see that the laws are enforced in a fair and impartial manner for all Americans.

    Wherever we pursue justice -- from the war on terror to corporate fraud to civil rights -- we must always be faithful to the rule of law. I want to make very clear that I am deeply committed to the rule of law. I have a deep and abiding commitment to the fundamental American principle that we are a nation of laws, and not of men. That commitment is the core principle that has guided all of my professional endeavors.

    Our government's most basic obligation is to protect its citizens from enemies who would destroy their lives and our nation's way of life. The Department of Justice's top priority is to prevent terror attacks against our nation.



    As we fight the war on terror, we must always honor and observe the principles that make our society so unique and worthy of protection. We must be committed to preserving civil rights and civil liberties. I look forward if I am confirmed to working with the committee, the Congress and the public to ensure that we are doing all we can to do so. Although we may have differences from time to time, we all love our country and want to protect it while remaining true to our nation's highest ideals. Working together, we can accomplish that goal.

    After the attacks of 9/11, our government had fundamental decisions to make concerning how to apply treaties and U.S. law to an enemy that does not wear a uniform, owes no allegiance to any country, is not a party to any treaties and -- most importantly -- does not fight according to the laws of war. As we have debated these questions, the president has made clear that he is prepared to protect and defend the Untied States and its citizens, and will do so vigorously, but always in a manner consistent with our nation's values and applicable law, including our treaty obligations. I pledge that, if I am confirmed as attorney general, I will abide by those commitments.



    ...Mr. Chairman, it is a distinct honor to appear before the committee today. I appreciate the time and attention that members of the committee and their staffs have dedicated to this hearing and to consideration of my nomination. And I look forward to answering your questions not just at this hearing, but if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, in the months and years ahead as we work together in the noble and high calling of the pursuit of justice.



    Gonzales is going to get grilled on role in torture, FMA



    Can Alberto Gonzales be any more of a crap candidate for AG? The more you learn, the worse it is. The bastard is already known for being responsible for the leeway taken at Abu Ghraib for "softening up" prisoners, now we hear are going to hear about the bastard's key role behind the Bush admin's anti-gay initiatives. The president has real balls putting this guy up, but let's see if anyone is going to play hardball during questioning. I'm not holding my breath. (365Gay.com):
    Senate confirmation hearings for White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales will begin Thursday amid allegations Gonzales secretly helped write the Federal Marriage Amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

    The American Civil Liberties Union said on Wednesday that Gonzales' White House office undertook the legal thinking behind Bush's decision to support the amendment and helped formulate the legal framework for it and for the president's 'faith-based initiative' which would allow faith groups to circumvent local laws which prevent discrimination against gay and lesbian workers.

    In discussing the administration's consideration of the Federal Marriage Amendment, Bush announced in August 2003 that he had assigned 'lawyers' to examine the different legislative approaches to banning same-sex marriage. 'Although President Bush did not identify Gonzales as one of the assigned lawyers, the Senate Judiciary Committee ought to explore Gonzales's role on the issue,' the ACLU said in a statement Wednesday.

    'Gonzales, who may have been responsible for the legal vetting of the different amendatory approaches, should make clear his position on the Musgrave-Allard amendments, which would bar all marriage rights for same-sex couples, and would likely ban civil unions,' the ACLU said."


    No one should forget this. We're the "shining beacon of democracy."

    It is also likely that Gonzales will be questioned on his role in developing legal arguments that permitted aggressive interrogation tactics in the months after 9/11, and denying detainees in the "war on terror" any formal legal protections. He is also expected to be asked if the White House counsel’s office played the leading role in creating the system by which the president could move American citizens from the criminal justice system into detention as "enemy combatants," without any formal due process protections.





    Body Armor Collected For Troops Sits In Storage

    Wednesday, January 05, 2005

    Sigh. The story about the starving Iraq police dogs was bad enough, but this one is distressingly bad. Can our government be any more incompetent or uncaring about our under-armored troops? Old armor is better than NOTHING, until they can get what they need. (WESH):
    One of the big complaints from troops in Iraq is lack of armor for their vehicles, but a campaign to collect armor in Central Florida was apparently a wasted effort.

    Marion County Sheriff Ed Dean and other sheriffs around the state of Florida started gathering old bullet-proof vests last February to send to American troops, WESH NewsChannel 2 reported.

    The vests were meant to provide yet another layer of armor for Humvees and other vehicles vulnerable to roadside explosions. NewsChannel 2 has learned those vests are still sitting in storage in Ocala, and they may never be used by the military.

    Sgt. Fred Chisholm said he is glad to be back on the job as a sheriff's patrol deputy. A year ago, he was a sergeant in the Army Reserves serving as a military policeman with others from the 351st military police company in some of the hottest spots in and around Baghdad.

    "I was just trying to take care of the troops and make sure everybody got home in one piece," he said.

    The motivation to protect his troops started a firestorm of controversy when he sent a simple e-mail he sent his boss -- the sheriff -- asking for help protecting his troops.

    "First Sgt. Fred Chisholm e-mailed me and said, 'Sheriff, if you can help me get these vests, my men can use them,'" Dean said.

    So, Dean helped collect 1,400 old bullet-proof vests from other sheriffs around the state. They intended to use the vests to help further armor the troops' Humvees and other vehicles. The only trouble was that the vests, though still useful, were old and they were well past their guaranteed lifetime.

    "It's not to be used as a ballistic vest. They already have those. That's never been the question. It's this interim before they have the up-armored equipment. Why can't we, as Americans, say, 'We've got war material, let's get it to our boys?'" Dean said.

    But instead of using them, the vests still sit in storage at the 351st headquarters in Ocala, and troops in Iraq, who are still pleading for more armor to protect them, have never seen the vests.

    Several people who serve in the Reserves told NewsChannel 2 that the Pentagon now says they won't send the vests at all, even for training, because the vests are past the date the maker has guaranteed them and the Army is worried about liability if someone got hurt.

    Thanks to House Blend reader Paul for the pointer.


    Senior General: Army Reserve "Rapidly Degenerating"


    L: Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, Chief, Army Reserve, has some harsh words to say about how the Reserve is being used/abused by the Bush administration; R: Gen. Peter Schoomaker was on the receiving end of the blistering memo.

    Can you feel the draft? It's all falling apart, and when you've got the head of the Army Reserve saying it's a "broken force," the alarms should be going off. (AP):
    Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, chief of the Army Reserve, wrote in an internal memorandum to the Army's top uniformed officer that the Reserve has reached the point of being unable to fulfill its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and to regenerate its forces for future missions.

    The Army Reserve has about 200,000 soldiers, nearly 52,000 of them on active duty for the war on terrorism, mainly in Iraq. They provide combat support, medical care, transportation, legal services and other support. About 50 have died so far in the Iraq war.

    Helmly's Dec. 20 memo is addressed to Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, and was first reported in Wednesday's editions of the Baltimore Sun, whose Web site has a link to the eight-page document. Two officials who saw the original memo confirmed its contents to The Associated Press.

    "The purpose of this memorandum is to inform you of the Army Reserve's inability under current policies, procedures and practices ... to meet mission requirements associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom," Helmly wrote, using the military's names for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

    "The Army Reserve is additionally in grave danger of being unable to meet other operational requirements," including those in classified contingency plans for other potential wars or national emergencies, "and is rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force," Helmly wrote.

    [Here's a real holy sh*t moment... -- Pam]

    Helmly also referred to a practice, not previously disclosed, of requiring each Reserve soldier who receives a mobilization order with less than 30 days notice to sign a "volunteer statement." From his brief description of the practice it appears that this is done to reduce the number of reported cases of short-notice, involuntary mobilizations. He also criticized the practice of offering Reserve soldiers an extra $1,000 a month if they volunteer to be mobilized a second time. This confuses "volunteers" with "mercenaries," he said.

    Helmly's blunt description of these problems is the sort of internal attack that rarely becomes public, although some private defense analysts and members of Congress have openly questioned whether the strains on the Army caused by the Iraq war would eventually threaten the all-volunteer force.


    Soldier Begging For Dog Food For Iraq-Deployed Canines



    Sh*t. They cannot even feed the damn police dogs over there. How hard can it be for the government, spending BILLIONS to pay Halliburton for jack performance, to muster up chow for the canines that are sniffing out bombs. It's a disgrace. How does this make any sense? (TheKSBWChannel.com):
    The commander of an Army Reserve detachment is begging friends back home to send food for Iraqi police dogs.

    "The dogs are starving and urgently need dry dog food," Capt. Gabriella Cook, commander of the Las Vegas-based 313th Military Police Detachment, said in a Dec. 28 e-mail reported Wednesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

    "Some of them have already died," Cook wrote. "Half of them are sick. We have no way of buying actual dog food here."

    Cook's unit arrived last month in the Iraq capital. She said 12 German shepherds and one black Labrador retriever trained for bomb-detection and attack at the Iraqi Police Academy in Baghdad have been eating table scraps and garbage.

    "It seems like an emergency situation," Diana Paivanas, a Henderson pet-care provider and Cook's friend, told the Review-Journal. "Something needs to be done now to save these dogs."

    ...Henderson Veterinarian Terry Muratore estimated that each of the 13 working dogs would consume a 40 pounds or more of dry food per month. "If securing the country entails having security dogs that are healthy.


    Does this Phelps sh*t not end?


    Seems like I'm running this nasty pic of the man every freaking night.

    The hate-monger has collected the signatures to put Topeka's anti-discrimination laws up for a (365Gay.com):
    Opponents of a Topeka city ordinance banning discrimination against gays in city hiring have collected enough votes to either force the city council to repeal the law or put the issue to voters.

    Followers of anti-gay crusader Fred Phelps gathered 6,333 names on a petition to reopen the issue - more than enough required under the city charter.

    If the petitions are certified the city has 20 days to decide whether to rescind the law or put it to voters. A vote would have to come within 90 days. If approved, the measure would not only rescind the ordinance but try to prevent council members from passing a similar one in the future.

    The ordinance was passed in November by a 5 - 4 vote of city council. While the law bans discrimination in city hiring practices it does not affect the private sector. Nor does it cover the transgendered.

    During the debate in council Phelps' followers attacked the ordinance claiming it "endorses sin".

    Several times during presentations Topeka Mayor James McClinton interrupted speakers. "We will not become a circus in here tonight," the mayor said.

    Phelps runs Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church, which is mainly made up of family members. Church followers regularly held demonstrations against homosexuality across the nation, carrying signs with slogans such as, "God hates fags."

    Councilwoman Tiffany Muller, one of the sponsors of the ordinance said many people who signed the petition didn't understand what it did and said they were tricked into signing it.

    County Election Commissioner Elizabeth Ensley said 64 people asked that their names be removed from the petition after it was submitted.

    Phelps supporters also announced on Wednesday that they would travel to Montana next month to demonstrate at that state's Supreme Court to protest last week's ruling that lesbian and gay employees of the University of Montana System must be provided with the option of purchasing health insurance and other employee benefits for their domestic partners.


    Pentagon shuts down military doctor's blog

    I didn't get to see it before it was pulled -- you won't get a chance to either. (AP):
    A military doctor whose Web site chronicled the bloody aftermath of the suicide bombing of a mess tent in Iraq has shut down the site after being told his postings violated Army regulations.

    In an e-mail from Iraq on Tuesday, Maj. Michael Cohen, a doctor with the 67th Combat Support Hospital unit, said he received a written warning but was not told which Army regulations were being violated.

    A short notice replaced the account on Cohen's site, www.67cshdocs.com. On his Web log, Cohen had described the chaotic scene after the Dec. 21 mess hall bombing in which 22 people died. He reported that eventually there were more wounded than emergency room beds.


    Photo:U.S. Army/Spc. Blair Larson-Handout

    Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq, said he could not confirm the investigation into Cohen's blog. He said the Pentagon allows blogs that do not disrupt unit discipline, make statements on behalf of commanders or the Army, or reveal details that could aid attackers. "Sometimes a blog might contain subtle nuances from which you can put together a complete picture of our operations, which insurgents can use to attack us," Boylan said.


    Tsunami blame game: Phelps has good company

    Via AmericaBlog. WorldNetDaily, another Repug "news" site has decided to get in bed with the homo-pocalyptic Phelps crowd and posted a story called "Homosexuality, fornication cause of tsunami?: Saudi professor says sinful acts at Christmastime caused disaster". Well, isn't that special? Read the wisdom of Sheik Fawzan Al-Fawzan, a professor at the Al-Imam University:


    "These great tragedies and collective punishments that are wiping out villages, towns, cities and even entire countries, are Allah's punishments of the people of these countries, even if they are Muslims," stated Al-Fawzan. "Some of our forefathers said that if there is usury and fornication in a certain village, Allah permits its destruction."

    The professor singled out beach resorts as places of sexual sin.

    "We know that at these resorts, which unfortunately exist in Islamic and other countries in south Asia, and especially at Christmas, fornication and sexual perversion of all kinds are rampant," he said. "The fact that it happened at this particular time is a sign from Allah. It happened at Christmas, when fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come to commit fornication and sexual perversion. That's when this tragedy took place, striking them all and destroyed everything. It turned the land into wasteland, where only the cries of the ravens are heard. I say this is a great sign and punishment on which Muslims should reflect."

    Yes, the power of queerdom is destroying our society, in fact the world, each of us with the master plan in our back pockets, ready to unleash dastardly plagues, locusts and other biblical disasters of epic proportions, including the corruption of Barney and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

    Somehow our homosexual cabal must have gotten our political wires crossed because I think we wouldn't have let Bush win. We certainly wouldn't have allowed Ken Mehlman to run the campaign, and now the GOP.


    Why do these "pro-family" organizations hate Barney? They think he likes homos.



    Barney is the new Tinkywinky. Not since purse carrying character caught Falwell's eye have we seen such a menace to society... I know Barney is evil for being obnoxious, but Donald Wildmon's American Family Association says he's now promoting the homosexual agenda as well.

    Agape Press, "news" organ of the loony religious wingnuts, homo-bashing American Family Association, says that a children's video on tolerance is "opening the door" to discussing homosexuality. Participating in this debauchery, they say, are: SpongeBob SquarePants, Barney the Dinosaur, Arthur, Dora the Explorer, JoJo, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Big Bird, and Bob the Builder.
    ...those and many others are among the characters starring in a music video remake of the 1970s song "We Are Family" that is designed to promote diversity and tolerance in the classroom. A special DVD version will be distributed to 61,000 public and private elementary schools nationwide, along with lesson plans for teachers. Distribution of the DVD is being donated by FedEx.

    Ed Vitagliano, a researcher for the American Family Association, questions the motives behind the project. The problem, he says, is that it is an "open door" to a secondary discussion of homosexuality.

    "When you go to the We Are Family Foundation website, there is a 'tolerance pledge' that children and others are encouraged to sign, which includes sexual orientation," he explains. That, he says, is the crux of the problem. "While we want everyone to respect other people's beliefs, we do not consider it appropriate for children's television to be used in an effort to indoctrinate children to accept homosexuality."


    SpongeBob and Clifford, are also helping out the gay cabal, according to the AFA.

    And then Ed Vitagliano becomes even more unhinged...
    The pro-family researcher sees an age-old tactic being employed by those behind the project. "This is a bait-and-switch approach. It's been used for years," he says, "and homosexuals are now using well-known and beloved children's television characters in an effort to use [them] as bait and switch."

    Vitagliano says the objective behind the video is to get children to the Foundation's website -- "and there they're given the full pitch about homosexuality," he adds. In addition, the researcher says he has been told by numerous homosexual activists that teaching tolerance for all people while excluding discussion of homosexuality is not an appropriate approach.

    The new video, recorded in November 2004, is scheduled to air simultaneously on Nickelodeon, PBS, and the Disney Channel in March 2005.

    BTW, the feedback form for the AFA is here.


    Pentagon issues tougher policies on sexual assault -- we'll see how tough they are

    After humiliating acts like telling a raped soldier to report for duty where her attacker was still working there, the Pentagon is attempting to work on its systemic problems in dealing with harassment and sexual assault. The problem starts at the top, these women will only come forward if they know they will not be subject to retaliation by peers and commanding officers. (LA Times):
    Victims of sexual assault in the military will be able to speak in confidence with medical professionals and victims' rights advocates for the first time under a new policy being developed by the Pentagon, officials announced Tuesday.

    The change, designed to persuade more victims to come forward, is one of several to be instituted by the Pentagon following sexual assault scandals in Iraq and at the Air Force Academy. The Pentagon plans to establish definitions of sexual assault and sexual harassment, bolster education and training about sexual assault prevention and response, and designate a sexual assault response coordinator at every U.S. military installation in the world.

    ...But even as the policy changes were made public, victims' rights groups expressed skepticism that they would work. They said that as long as the Pentagon insisted on policing and investigating itself in allegations of sexual abuse — rather than ceding to independent groups — sexual assault would continue to be pervasive in military culture.

    "It will not make a difference," said Dorothy Mackay, a former Air Force officer who is executive director of Survivors Take Action Against Military Personnel, or STAAMP, a national advocacy group for military sexual assault victims.

    ...Victims' advocacy groups say dozens of women serving in Iraq and Kuwait have reported being assaulted, primarily by male military colleagues. Last year, Pentagon figures showed that more than 100 service personnel in the Persian Gulf region — including Iraq and Afghanistan — reported being sexually assaulted. Military officials did not update the figures Tuesday. Nearly 150 women came forward in 2003 with accusations that they had been sexually assaulted by fellow cadets at the Air Force Academy during the previous decade.

    Many said that after they reported the assaults, they were punished for infractions such as drinking, or were ignored or ostracized by commanders.


    Over 10,000 combat-related injuries in Iraq

    This CNN story is a roundup about the latest carnage in Iraq - a car bomb killed 10 near a police academy, and a variety of other incidents that make it clear there's no control over the situation. However, buried in there is a terrible stat about the toll this war is taking.


    Department of Defense officials said 10,252 U.S. troops had suffered combat-related injuries since the Iraqi war began on March 19, 2003. Of those, 5,396 have been wounded seriously enough that they were unable to return to the battlefield, and 4,856 U.S. troops have been wounded and were able to return to duty in Iraq, according to the statistics

    I had an earlier post that highlighted how medical needs are not being met because of budget cuts, and that these troops are returning home from Iraq after surviving hellish wounds (that in earlier times would have not been survivable), left to pick up the rest of their lives.

    Meanwhile, you've got our dear leader talking about the ultimate sacrifice he's made -- dealing with politics, as he welcomes incoming members of Congress. Damn him -- perhaps he'd like an encounter with an RPG to get a real sense of sacrifice.
    I particularly want to say a thanks to your spouse for having supported your run for the Congress or the Senate. Laura and I know how hard it is on a family to be in the political arena. It's the ultimate sacrifice, really: sacrifice your privacy; it's a sacrifice of time with your kids. But you're going to find it's worthwhile -- serving this great country is an unbelievable honor, and both the elected official and the spouse are serving our great country.
    (Thanks to AmericaBlog for the pointer to the quote)

    Bush also can't even open his personal f*cking wallet for tsunami relief.


    AZ Governor pushes vote on gay marriage in '05


    Governor Janet Napolitano (l) has homo-hating AZ Senate President Ken Bennett squirming over a possible 2005 amendment vote on gay marriage.

    The Republicans in Arizona are furious because Governor Janet Napolitano is challenging them to put a state consitutional amendment to ban civil marriage for gays to a public vote this year, instead of November 2006 (which is what they want. This seems like a game of political chicken, since putting this to a vote, no matter what year, is a chance to permanently add discrimination to the state's constitution. (Arizona Republic):
    Napolitano's idea, which would require a special election in 2005, will inject a new twist into a divisive debate that is sure to resonate at the Capitol during the legislative session that starts Monday.

    In November, conservative social activists and key lawmakers said they would pursue a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages in Arizona. The popular thinking in Republican circles is to put the measure on the 2006 ballot, which includes the election for governor, a U.S. Senate seat and every statewide office.

    Republicans quickly chastised Napolitano's move as a political ploy to keep a gay marriage referendum off the 2006 ballot because it could bring more conservative voters to the polls.

    "This is political chicanery. She doesn't want it on the ballot in 2006 because it brings out the wrong people for her," said Senate President Ken Bennett, R-Prescott. "It's not so much urgent as it is important. To spend about $3 million in taxpayer money to have a special election when far fewer people will vote is wrong."

    Sen. Ken Cheuvront, one of two openly gay state lawmakers, said the same-sex marriage ban is pure politics.

    "The reality is that Republicans are doing this to embarrass her (Napolitano)," said Cheuvront, D-Phoenix. "By them waiting until 2006, it shows their hypocrisy. This will be a very contentious issue, no matter when it happens."

    Members of Arizona's gay community said they view such a referendum as an infringement on their rights.

    "It's ridiculous and hypocritical. . . . This is not about gay rights; it's about human rights," said John Duncan of Tempe.

    Former Republican lawmaker Steve May, who is gay, said the whole issue of banning same-sex marriage is "downright silly."

    "The intent of this is to influence the outcome of the 2006 governor's race," May said. "If this makes the right-wingers happy, good for them. But there are so many more important issues to tackle."


    Canadian officials quit over gay marriage, but people flock to replace them

    It looks like 20 marriage commissionaires in British Columbia and Saskatchewan have resigned because of their objection to gay marriage. These positions are the equivalent of a Justice of the Peace here in the States. The great news is that many more are waiting to take their place.
    In all cases they commissioners, who are licensed by the provincial governments, quit saying gay marriage is against their religions.

    Saskatchewan Justice Minister Frank Quennell said the law makes it unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to get married.

    But, Quennell said gay and lesbian couples wishing to marry won't have any trouble finding someone to perform the ceremonies. There are 321 marriage commissioners in Saskatchewan, and the 8 who quit have been replaced. Quennell there's a waiting list for people wanting to be commissioners and the jobs have already been filled.

    Marriage commissioners in B.C. who resigned have also been replaced.

    Kate and I were married by the wonderful Marriage Commissionaire Pat Mitten on July 1, 2004.



    Here is a list of gay-friendly MCs (including Patricia Mitten), from GayVancouver.net


    Phelps is at it again: thanks God for Americans killed in tsunami

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005


    The Raw Story has the latest evil from Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps. Clearly he isn't donating to tsunami relief. He got his rocks off on the Swedes dying, so it was only a matter of time before the thought of Americans being washed away got him hard.



    Woman confesses to beating gay man to death with bat

    A Tucson man is on trial for beating a gay man to death, but a woman involved with the killing, has confessed to murdering the victim with a baseball bat, for spurning her sexual advances. Good god, what in the hell was she thinking? Is this some new, perverted form of "gay panic?" (Tucson Citizen): The woman, Kathleen Farabaugh Turner, 21, has also claimed she didn't kill the victim, 24-year-old Philip A. Walsted, according to court records. David Augustine Higdon, 22, is charged with murder in Walsted's death.

    Pima County Superior Court Judge Frank Dawley said yesterday that Turner may, under the Fifth Amendment, choose not to incriminate herself in the slaying. However, Dawley said Higdon's attorney, Bobbi Berry, may use a statement Turner made in which she said she killed Walsted.

    ...in a statement made to Higdon's former attorney, Ralph Ellinwood:
    Turner and Higdon, who were lovers, were smoking 'a lot' of crack cocaine when Walsted approached. Turner, who had prostituted herself with Higdon as her pimp, decided to 'hustle' Walsted, even though he was gay.

    'I felt like I had to prove something to David, so I kept coming on to this guy,' she said.

    When Walsted rejected her, Turner said, she killed him in anger."


    Study: Women skipping birth control, cost may be factor

    The Washington Post has an article today, More Women Opting Against Birth Control, Study Finds, that is disturbing on many levels. There is speculation that the cause of adult women forgoing birth control is more that they may be trying to get pregnant, but the real fear is that it might be due to the cost of birth control, given the growth of those without health insurance. It translates into over 4 million sexually active women at risk of an unintended pregnancy.

    If the GOP says it wants to make abortion rare, these statistics have to be worrisome. Then again, the Ashcroft Justice Department don't even want women to have information about contraception after a rape. I guess they don't care about women and contraception unless they knock someone up.
    Federally funded abstinence-only education programs have been put into place that, by law, prohibit discussion of contraceptives (except to inform people of the failure rates). This is a serious concern that cannot be ignored.

    From the article:

    At a time when the medical community has been heartened by a decline in risky sexual behavior by teenagers, a different problem has crept up: More adult women are forgoing birth control, a trend that has experts puzzled -- and alarmed about a potential rise in unintended pregnancies.

    Buried in the government's latest in-depth analysis of contraceptive use was the finding that the number of women who had sex in the previous three months but did not use birth control rose from 5.2 percent in 1995 to 7.4 percent in 2002. That means that as many as 11 percent of all women are at risk of unintended pregnancy at some point during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44).

    Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics took pains to point out that the "increase is statistically significant" and that the "apparent change merits further study." Other analysts called the spike a troubling development that translates into at least 4.6 million sexually active women at risk of conceiving a child they had not planned on.

    Because the survey is so large (more than 7,600 women) and known for its accuracy, "an increase of even two percentage points is worrisome," said John S. Santelli, a professor of population and family health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

    ...Physicians, statisticians and advocates who specialize in reproductive health had several theories for the rise in unprotected sex. They pointed to possible factors such as gaps in sex education, the cost of birth control, declining insurance coverage, fears of possible side effects of contraceptives and personal attitudes about childbearing.

    It is possible, said Paul Blumenthal, that many more women are trying to conceive and thus have stopped using contraception. But the Johns Hopkins University professor said it is more likely that more women have found the cost of birth control burdensome.

    "Because the number of uninsured has increased, these women might be on the short end of that stick," he said. Since 2001, the number of uninsured Americans has risen by 4 million.

    Jeffrey Jensen, director of the Women's Health Research Unit at Oregon Health and Science University, said he regularly encounters patients who have trouble affording birth control, even if their private insurance covers it.

    "It is absolutely unconscionable that women have a co-pay of $20 or $25 [a month] for contraceptives and men are getting off scot-free," Jensen said. Drug companies "have cut way back" on free samples and many women turn to less effective types of birth control because of cost, he said, "running a greater risk of pregnancy as a result."

    Our government is asleep at the wheel yet again, even as it seeks to control a woman's womb. It's the slippery slope. Some women probably are trying to conceive in those numbers, but there's real confirmation here why abortions went up under Shrub's watch.

    But let's take a look at some Actual Freeper Quotes, for some objective insight and sensitivity on this issue:
    "The Post is worried that young women are not using birth control. Of course, they would want all these babies aborted, as a form of birth control."

    "I guess we won't need amnesty afterall to shore up the population numbers."

    "Maybe Christians will return to the practice of not using it either... Christianity and birth control are incompatible.... Don't think so? Well, that's largely due to modern doctrine. Most, if not all, of the "reformers" were against it. Historical Christianity (Catholic, Orthodox) condemned it for two millinea. The funadamentalist movement, along with the fogginess of doctrine of the mainline churches, and ESPECIALLY silence from the pulpit, has made birth control a "chrisitian discipline" instead of the anathema it is."

    "And later in the article it whines about how expensive prescription birth control is. Sorry, but even a $20 or $25 copay shouldn't be a big deal, especially for a married couple with two incomes. We are not yet financially ready for parenthood and although an "oops" would not be the end of the world, we'd still prefer to wait a little bit before starting our family. My $16 copay every month is a small price to pay for 99% effectiveness."

    "On the flip side, perhaps the number of lesbian relationships is increasing, and obviously birth control is unneeded. Or, maybe ugly women are giving up on relationships."




    IRS: Legally married gay couples cannot file joint returns

    If your same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts and Canada, it's still a no-no to file a joint federal tax return because of DOMA and court rulings on Monday in Minnesota. This ruling, of course, is no surprise, but the challenges will continue.
    The IRS says it is basing its denial of joint filings on Federal DOMA which restricts marriage to opposite-sex couples. The warning follows a court ruling in Minnesota where a federal judge Monday dismissed a lawsuit that was filed by a gay couple.

    Jack Baker and L. Michael McConnell claimed they deserved a tax refund because they were legally married and should be granted married taxpayer status.

    McConnell had sought to change his taxpayer status to married, and claimed he deserved a refund of nearly $800. The suit asked U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen for an order "declaring plaintiff to be a full citizen who is lawfully married" in Minnesota.

    In 1971, Baker and McConnell sued Hennepin County when they were denied a marriage license. They lost that case - but while it was before the court they managed to get a marriage license in Mankato County and were married before a Methodist minister in St. Paul.

    Four years later the couple returned to court seeking to force the Veterans Administration to increase Baker's educational benefits, claiming McConnell was a dependent spouse.

    The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the fundamental issues of joint tax status were the same as those raised regarding veterans benefits.

    That decision formed the basis for Ericksen's ruling Monday which said that the earlier ruling barred the couple from "relitigating claims against the IRS."

    An issue that isn't discussed here is whether there needs to be some notation on the tax returns that the individuals are legally married elsewhere so that it is on file with the government that there can be no future claim that the couple intended to deceive telling the IRS of marital status.


    Boy, Virginia's coming out strong for homo-bigot state of the week


    Left: Virginia legislative delegate and homophobe L. Scott Lingamfelter, wants "traditional marriage" on license plates to enhance his sense of sexual orientation. Right: Delegate Mitchell Van Yahres wants to repeal the law in place that prevents recognition of same-sex couples.

    The Virginia legislature is moving forward to amend its constitution to prevent civil marriage for gays. As a bonus, they want to make it possible for folks to drive around with license plates that shout out your wingnuttery. The only saving grace is that there is a lonely member of the legislature willing to fight for gay rights by repealing the state's incredibly homophobic laws. (365Gay.com):
    The state is one of what is expected to be up to a dozen states to take up the issue following voter approval in 11 states last November of similar amendments.

    But, the legislature will also look at a measure that would put the marriage issue on license plates. The bill calls for traditional marriage to be displayed on car licenses. If passed the plates would have interlocking gold wedding bands superimposed over a red heart over the legend "Traditional Marriage."

    The bill was authored by Delegate Scott Limgamfelter (R-Prince William) a supporter of the marriage amendment.

    Some Democrats call the amendment repressive and unnecessary. Virginia already has legislation that prevents recognition of same-sex couples.

    The law, passed last year, prevents the state from recognizing gay marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships and block any "contract or other arrangement" same-sex couples may enter into.

    Democratic Del. Mitchell Van Yahres has filed a bill that would repeal the law, but most observers say it has little chance of passing. Most delegates have indicated they will vote for the amendment.


    ***
    Contact information for low-life Mr. Lingamfelter:
    P.O. Box 7175
    Woodbridge, VA
    22195-7175
    (703) 580-1294
    info@va31st.com

    Give props to:
    Mitchell Van Yahres
    223 W. Main Street
    Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
    (434) 977-7863
    Del_VanYahres@house.state.va.us

    ***



    Gunmen Slay Governor of Baghdad Region, Chaos Continues


    Iraqis are seen through the bullet riddled windscreen of a vehicle that was carrying some of the bodyguards of the governor of the Baghdad province, Ali al-Haidari in Baghdad's northern neighborhood of Hurriyah. (AP Photo/Mohammed Khodor)

    Nice to know that it's safe enough for elections in a couple of weeks...not. They cannot keep officials alive. (AP):
    Gunmen assassinated the governor of Baghdad province and six of his bodyguards on Tuesday, and a suicide truck bomber killed 10 people at an Interior Ministry commando headquarters in western Baghdad, the latest in a steady drumbeat of insurgent violence ahead of Jan. 30 elections.

    Al-Haidari was the target of another assassination attempt last year that killed two of his bodyguards. He is the highest-ranking Iraqi official killed since the former president of the now defunct Governing Council, Abdel-Zahraa Othman, better known as Izzadine Saleem, was assassinated in May.



    Tuesday's attacks came a day after violence that saw three car bombs and a roadside attack, one near the prime minister's party headquarters in Baghdad. and others targeting Iraqi troops and a U.S. security company convoy. At least 16 people were killed Monday.


    DeLay, GOP House Reverse Course on Ethics Rules

    Monday, January 03, 2005



    Guess it got a little too hot in there for Hastert and DeLay, but in the end, the move was self-serving for the Hammer...(AP):
    House Republicans suddenly reversed course Monday, deciding to retain a tough standard for lawmaker discipline and reinstate a rule that would force Majority Leader Tom DeLay to step aside if indicted by a Texas grand jury.

    The surprise dual decisions were made by Speaker Dennis Hastert and by DeLay — who asked GOP colleagues to undo the extreme act of loyalty they handed him in November. Then, Republicans changed a party rule so DeLay could retain his leadership post if indicted by the grand jury in Austin that charged three of the Texas Republican's associates.

    When Republicans began their closed-door meeting Monday night, leaders were considering a rules change that would have made it tougher to rebuke a House member for misconduct. The proposal would have required a more specific finding of ethical violations.

    Republicans gave no indication before the meeting that the indictment rule would be changed. Even more surprising was DeLay's decision to make the proposal himself.

    Jonathan Grella, a DeLay spokesman, said DeLay still believed it was legitimate to allow a leader to retain his post while under indictment. But Grella said that by reinstating the rule that he step aside, DeLay was "denying the Democrats their lone issue. Anything that could undermine our agenda needs to be nipped in the bud."


    Kentucky: not as many "churched" bible beaters as they thought

    This report has to make a few fundy hearts in Kentucky sink -- they've got some recruiting to do. (The Montana Standard):
    A new survey commissioned by the Kentucky Baptist Convention shows that about one in three Kentucky adults are ‘‘unchurched,'' meaning nearly 1 million residents have no meaningful connection to any of the thousands of churches in this Bible Belt state. The California-based Barna Research Group, which conducted the survey in October, defines the ‘‘unchurched'' as those who have not attended services once in a six-month period except for special occasions.

    The survey says another 650,000 Kentucky adults, or 21 percent of the population, don't view themselves as committed to the church they attend. Barna, a prominent Christian research firm, based its data on a telephone survey of 2,175 people and more extensive interviews with those who identified themselves as unchurched. The margin of error was plus or minus 2 percentage points.

    The unchurched in the study included atheists and followers of non-Christian religions, but the vast majority considered themselves to be Christians. ‘‘... Most of the unchurched are not opposed to faith, or even to Christ. ... But they have tried Christianity and found it wanting,'' the report states.

    The report was commissioned to better define the challenges that Baptist churches face in trying to reach people with the Christian Gospel, said Dan Garland, leader of the Kentucky Baptist Convention's Evangelism Growth Team. ‘‘Screaming at the culture is not going to change the culture,'' Garland said. ‘‘We're going to have to understand it ... and get involved in offering people help and hope and healing.''

    The Barna Research Group says the number of unchurched American adults has nearly doubled to 75 million since 1991.


    Mass. Gay Marriage Implications Spread Beyond State Lines

    The following story is why civil marriage for gays is more than a states' rights issue. The Dems and the GOP aren't going to be able to hide behind this fig leaf much longer, as the impact of legal marriage for gays spills over into practical matters when state lines are crossed. 365Gay.com reports that a Rhode Island court will have to rule on whether domestic partner benefits, specifically health care, must be extended to a same sex partner.
    Cheryl McCullough married Joyce Boivin in June in Massachusetts where same-sex marriage is legal. McCullough, 60, and Boivin, 54, live in Swansea, Mass. McCullough, who worked for 27 years as a health teacher and guidance counselor at Tiverton High School, applied for health insurance shortly after the couple was married.

    Although same-sex marriage is not legal in Rhode Island it is not banned either. The law is silent on a definition of what constitutes a married couple.

    The labor contract between the teachers' union and the school system recognizes a marriage as long as it's valid in the state in which was performed. But, Tiverton schools was uncertain of the legal implications and decided to ask a judge.

    To be certain that all bases where covered the school committee agreed to add Boivin to a family health plan with McCullough as long as the couple pays all extra costs. The increase in monthly fees for Boivin amount to about $500 a month.

    If the court rules the school committee cannot provide the benefits Boivin and McCullough will be reimbursed.

    In New England, where many people live in one state and work in another the court's decision could have far reaching consequences.


    Trial Set In Kentucky Gay Bias Attack

    You too can be beaten for coming to the aid of a gay person; thankfully Kentucky is taking this bashing attack seriously. (365Gay.com):
    The trial of a Kentucky man charged in the baseball bat beating of an Ohio National Guardsman will begin this week in Newport.

    Matthew Ashcraft, 19, was attacked after he came to the defense of a gay man who was being beaten outside a Newport bar last June.

    Ashcraft, who is not gay, was with two gay friends on their way to Woolly's, an LGBT friendly bar. As they approached the club they saw Leon Hughes being harassed outside. When Ashcraft intervened, the man who was assaulting Hughes left, then returned with a baseball bat and beat Ashcraft unconscious prosecutors said.

    Ashcraft was struck on the back of his skull with the bat. As he slumped to the ground witnesses shielded Ashcraft from receiving more blows by putting their own bodies at risk until police arrived. Ashcraft was rushed to University Hospital in Cincinnati July 1, where he was treated for skull fractures, cranial bleeding and a blood clot on his brain.

    Steven Ard, 38, is charged with assault. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

    In an unusual move both Commonwealth Attorney Jack Porter and Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Anthony Bracke will prosecute the case.

    "Part of it is the severity of the case,'' Bracke told the Cincinnati Post. "All individuals who commit violent assaults need to be prosecuted appropriately, whatever reason they may have. However, individuals who target victims because of race, gender, or sexual orientation need to be looked at even more closely.''

    Kentucky has no specific hate-crime legislation, but Bracke said that if Ard is convicted he may bring up the reason for the assault if they argue for a stiffer sentence.


    Essence Magazine lashes out at hip hop's abuses


    Essence Magazine's response to hip-hop's degradation of black women is Take Back the Music. Graphic: Essence Magazine.

    Stanley Crouch, in a New York Daily News column, discusses Essence Magazine's "movement", as it were, to combat the image of black women in hip-hop. I'm no big fan of the music medium (I must be getting old), but the way women are treated and depicted in music videos is enough to make one sick. The pathology runs deep, as the women in these videos obviously don't mind degrading themselves in the 'ho vein.
    Essence is taking on the slut images and verbal abuse projected onto black women by hip hop lyrics and videos.

    The magazine is the first powerful presence in the black media with the courage to examine the cultural pollution that is too often excused because of the wealth it brings to knuckleheads and amoral executives.

    This anything-goes-if-sells attitude comes at a cost. The elevation of pimps and pimp attitudes creates a sadomasochistic relationship with female fans. They support a popular idiom that consistently showers them with contempt. We are in a crisis, and Essence knows it.

    When asked how the magazine decided to take a stand, the editor, Diane Weathers said, "We started looking at the media war on young girls, the hypersexualization that keeps pushing them in sexual directions at younger and younger ages."

    Things got deeper, she says, because, "We started talking at the office about all this hatred in rap song after rap song, and once we started, the subject kept coming up because women were incapable of getting it off their minds."

    At a listening session that Weathers and the other staffers had with entertainment editor Cori Murray, "We found the rap lyrics astonishing, brutal, misogynistic. ... So we said we were going to pull no punches, especially since women were constantly being assaulted."

    Essence's web site on this issue, Take Back the Music pulls no punches.
    In videos we are bikini-clad sisters gyrating around fully clothed grinning brothers like Vegas strippers on meth. When we search for ourselves in music lyrics, mixtapes and DVDs and on the pages of hip-hop magazines, we only seem to find our bare breasts and butts. And when we finally get our five minutes at the mic, too many of us waste it on hypersexual braggadocio and profane one-upmanship. The damage of this imbalanced portrayal of Black women is impossible to measure.

    An entire generation of Black girls are being raised on these narrow images. And as the messages and images are broadcast globally, they have become the lens through which the world now sees us. This cannot continue. We have debated this topic, often heatedly, at Essence. Some of us are fed up; others don’t see the big deal. But all of us agree that as representatives of the world’s foremost publication for Black women, we need to provide a platform for public discussion.

    The question that is being asked now is why do these artists, these black men, feel it's OK to portray women this way, and where is that sentiment coming from? Why have women allowed this portrayal to remain popular and accepted?

    What this discussion of culturally-approved misogyny by a segment of the hip-hop community will bring to light is another view of the sad, seemingly widening gulf between black men and women in mutual trust and regard, and in education and economic opportunities. You see it in the disparity between college-educated black men and women, the incarceration and unemployment rates for young black men, and, if you read Essence regularly, the grim dilemma of women looking for "marriage material" with those long odds and concern about men on the DL.

    It's another case of "airing dirty laundry" in public that needs to occur, if for no other reason but for the sake of young black men and women. These images are not positive role models and everyone knows it; black women, up until this time, didn't put it out on the table. Essence is. The magazine also asks for feedback on the topic on its site.


    Blog Creation, Readership Rise in 2004

    Interesting AP piece on the rise of blog readership and influence.
    Readership of online journals known as blogs grew significantly in 2004, driven by increased awareness of them during the presidential campaign and other major news events, according to a study released Sunday.

    Twenty-seven percent of online adults in the United States said in November they read blogs, compared with 17 percent in a February survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

    ...Democrat Howard Dean embraced blogs early, allowing supporters from around the country to organize and talk about the campaign informally, without needing to clear remarks with campaign headquarters. Many bloggers who supported his campaign provided links for readers to easily make campaign contributions over the Internet.

    Even after Dean's campaign fizzled, bloggers continued to pundit, and a handful were invited to cover the Democratic and Republican national conventions for the first time.

    Time magazine even named its first Blog of the Year, crediting the Power Line blog created by three lawyers for challenging mainstream media and questioning the validity of documents behind a "60 Minutes" report on President Bush's National Guard service. CBS News anchor Dan Rather later apologized for airing the report.

    Blah on Powerline.


    LGBT News Roundup, 1/3/2005

    I've posted my first of a regular series of diaries on LGBT news on Daily Kos. I'm also posting it here on the Blend. Most of these items I've blogged about here as well, but if you're short for time it's a good way to catch up...
    Rabid wingnut homo-bigot preachers on the loose.


    • Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps damns gay-loving Swedes washed away in the tsunami. The king of hate posted an unbelievably sick flyer on his site. Here's a DKos story on it; Also see Carnaki's God bless gay-bashing Rev. Fred Phelps.



    • American Taliban Member, Rev. Keith Butler, Considering Senate run: This loser is a former Detroit councilman who has helped Republican candidates for governor and president, is considering running against first-term U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2006. He subscribes to the belief that being gay is a sin and that any comparison of any kind between the struggle for gay rights and the black civil rights movement is an insult. Here's are homo-bigot gems: "The gay lifestyle is based on a behavior choice that endangers family, children, and the core of society," and "Common sense tells us that if this lifestyle were to become the dominant choice of our culture, our culture would soon be extinct." DKos diary here.


    • Head of Mormon church: "Gays have a problem": Ninety-four-year-old Gordon B. Hinckley appeared on Larry King Live and said of gays, "We love these people and try to work with them and help them. We know they have a problem. We want to help them solve that 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. Though the church says it is not directly affiliated with organizations responsible for the torture, gay Mormons have been referred these kinds of centers for "help." DKos diary here.


    • James Dobson Threatens to Use His Political Muscle Against Some Democrats (NYT): Dr. Dobson recalled the conservative efforts that helped in the November defeat of Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate minority leader who led Democrats in using the filibuster to block 10 of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees. "Let his colleagues beware," Dr. Dobson warned, "especially those representing 'red' states. Many of them will be in the 'bull's-eye' the next time they seek re-election." See other DKos diaries on Dobson here by animaux, here by rosieeriter, and on my blog here.

    • Virginia wingnuts on the legislative warpath against gays, women. The General Assembly will attempt to strengthen its already-in-place anti-gay laws, including the Affirmation of Marriage Act which prohibits a civil union, partnership contract or "other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage."


    General legislative, legal and community activism by your jolly neighborhood homophobes...


    • Wingnut in Atlanta plans to gut the human rights law that the mayor planned to enforce. Conservative whack job Rep. Earl Ehrhart is going after the ordinance full-bore after Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin was going to fine a local country club for denying spousal benefits to gay partners that are legally registered with the city as domestic partners.

    • S.F. can't challenge 'mental disorder' argument: Judge won't allow city to submit opposing evidence. The presiding judge in the current California case deciding the constitutionality of gay marriage is refusing to let the city counter the ludicrous fringe arguments that children need opposite sex partners and that you can change your sexual orientation. How in the hell is this possible?


    • Rainbow Flag Causes Flap At Local High School. Members of Detroit's Howell High School's diversity club hung the flag over a staircase to promote unity, but some students and parents are viewing it as a symbol for gay and lesbian activism. Actual quote: "I believe there's a hidden meaning behind it and I believe some of the students are being lied to by the teachers."

    • Gay club at med school asked to disband, apparently for changing its name. A student club at New York Medical College in Westchester County actually had a club - called Student Support Club - but when they changed the name to Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender People in Medicine, the college asked them to disband.

    • The wingnut "three-point plan" to stop "Gay Days" at Walt Disney World. The knuckle-draggers at the Christian Action Network's (CAN) efforts will involve: posting large road signs around the Orlando area that read: "Warning! Gay Days at Disney in June"; having a van drive up and down Interstate 4 with a similar warning and the specific dates of the homosexual celebration; and distributing pamphlets at the Orlando International Airport informing families about the kinds of things to which families and children would be exposed in public areas of the park during the homosexual celebration."

    Wingnut commentary...