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November 28, 2015

Chiraq And The 'Sex-Strike' Myth

With all due respect to Spike Lee, some of whose movies I have admired very much, rape is about power, not sex. Thus his suggestion to Stephen Colbert the other evening that the sex strike in his new movie Chiraq, inspired by the Aristophanes play Lysistrata, would be useful in combatting campus rape, is foolish. Ta-Nehisi Coates does a nice take-down.

November 26, 2015

David Cameron: a ‘personal priority’ to make gay sex legal worldwide

The First Family Serves Thanksgiving Dinner 2015

The White House writes:

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Malia, and Sasha volunteer at Friendship place, a local organization in Washington, DC that serves the local homeless population. November 25, 2015.

November 25, 2015

Kasich on Trump's dangerous rhetoric

Thank you, Gov. Kasich.

President Obama Awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Sondheim, Spielberg, Streisand were among this year's honorees. It was good to see William Ruckelshaus honored; he resigned as Deputy Attorney General rather than obey President Nixon's order to fire the Watergate Special Prosecutor, on Saturday, October 20, 1973. Attorney General Elliot Richardson had resigned before him. That was called the Saturday Night Massacre, and was the beginning of the end for Nixon. Among many other posts, Ruckelshaus also helmed the Environmental Protection Agency. Yesterday's honor was a reminder of a time when public servants could put their country before their party.

White House honors LGBT artists as 'Champions of Change'

KKK targets LGBT ordinance in Florida

Nigerian police arrest 21 men on sex charges

Hundreds march in Minneapolis, 3 held in 4th Precinct protest shooting

Chicagoans protest police murder of Laquan McDonald

Chicago police officer charged with murder in killing of teen

The dashcam video of the police killing of Chicago teenager Laquan McDonald was released yesterday after more than a year. The reporter who forced the release of the video was barred from Mayor Emanuel's news conference. The officer charged with first degree murder in the case, Jason Van Dyke, is shown shooting McDonald 16 times, including after the 17-year-old was on the ground. The teen, who according to a toxicology report had traces of PCP in his system, was walking in the street with a 3-inch knife in his hand, but was moving away from the officers and police cars when he was shot. Police had claimed that Van Dyke was in fear for his life when he emptied his gun into McDonald, but the video shows that was not true. Other officers did not see a need for deadly force. After shooting McDonald 16 times, Van Dyke was reloading his gun when another officer told him to hold his fire.

November 24, 2015

The truth about Marion Barry


Former DC Mayor Marion Barry's hagiographers were at it again yesterday on the anniversary of his death, and I am calling them on their bullshit.

When Marion was still with us I always maintained cordial dealings with him, because he was still an elected official. No good would have been served by burning that bridge, though he himself burned many. But that is behind us. We are strong enough, all of us, to confront the truth.

Marion was a smart and politically gifted man. But his utter lack of personal discipline brought discredit to the District and gave comfort to those bent on denying us self-determination. He saddled us with the Financial Control Board. He made racist statements about Asian shop owners. He so abused earmarks to reward his friends that the Council abolished them. He was the most piggish womanizer. He led an anti-gay chant at a rally organized by Bishop Harry Jackson. Just 28 months ago, this was the headline: "Marion Barry Fined And Censured By D.C.'s Ethics Board Over Gifts From Contractors."

He set himself up for a fourth "comeback" term as mayor by running against his most loyal ally on the Council, Mrs. Rolark. After his years as Ward 8 councilmember, it remains the poorest ward; but not a tiny shred of that is ever put on him by his hagiographers. That was his way--treating every bit of every failure as entirely other people's fault. If that is true, what did he keep running for? He used people.

He has been gone a year. Yet some people cling to fantasy nonsense about his greatness, largely based on things he did in the late 1970s and early 1980s and refusing to confront how he went off the rails. The denial is pathological. The pandering by others is pathetic. It is time to stop this nonsense. Marion did some good things. But the Mayor-for-Life glorification requires a highly selective memory. Who is helped by this? Nobody, certainly not his troubled son who was exploited by people who wanted to create a Barry dynasty. It is time to move on for the sake of all of the city, including and especially its most downtrodden.

November 20, 2015

Rep. Polis defends vote to block Syrian refugees

Rep. Jared Polis defends his disgraceful vote to block Syrian refugees.

Remembering trans lives lost

The President's statement on 2015 Transgender Day of Remembrance

France's long history in Mali

Hostages rescued from Mali hotel

Book review: Keith Hamilton Cobb's The Odd Purgatory of My Personal Perception


Here's a link to my rave review of Keith Hamilton Cobb's short story collection, The Odd Purgatory of My Personal Perception. I encourage you to purchase it in one of its three formats.

Hillary Clinton addresses national security at Council on Foreign Relations

Solid presentation by the former Secretary of State on the need for America to choose resolve over fear.

November 19, 2015

Battle Hymn of the Blowhards


My Blade column this week responds to the right wing's disgraceful exploitation of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Here's a portion:

As many Americans sang "La Marseillaise" and expressed solidarity with the French after the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, Republicans rushed to seize political advantage.

Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee threatened savage bombing campaigns. Cruz, possibly inspired by Herod the Great, promised he would not worry about slaughtering innocents. These holy warriors will say anything to win cheers from the xenophobic, Christianist GOP base, ignoring the spectacular failure of reflexive, ill-targeted militarism in the past. Meanwhile, President Obama's Pentagon quietly took out ISIS leaders in Syria and Libya.

Instead of showing strength amid tragedy, conservatives turned cowardly and demanded that Syrian refugees be turned away lest a jihadist be lurking among them. Never mind the major role America played in creating chaos in Syria, where civilian deaths dwarf those in Paris. On the night of the attacks, ordinary Parisians took stranded strangers into their homes. They displayed more courage than is being asked of Americans. Despite more than half of America's governors absurdly announcing their own harsh immigration policies, refugees face extensive screening procedures.

Muslims across the world have denounced the attacks. Ignoring this hampers the relationships we need to defeat the extremists. Appropriately, many Western leaders have begun using the Arabic acronym for ISIS, "Daesh," which has a mocking connotation. Declaring yourself a caliphate does not make you one.

We must respond to the attacks intelligently and in cooperation with our allies. We cannot simply bomb our way to safety. We cannot wall ourselves off from a world in which we are deeply engaged commercially and culturally, and in which we extensively project ourselves militarily. We cannot prevail unilaterally or by holding ourselves above the rest of the world. We cannot paper over legitimate grievances resulting from our past actions.

Read the whole thing here.