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127 posts from July 2010

July 30, 2010

Milbank to Beck: "Stop encouraging" potential murderers

Glenn_beck_0616 Dana Milbank has a column due out in Sunday's Washington Post taking on Glenn Beck for his incitement of violent wackjobs like Byron Williams, who was recently stopped by the California Highway Patrol before he could carry out a plan to gun down staff at the Tides Foundation:

It's not fair to blame Beck for violence committed by people who watch his show. Yet Williams isn't the only such character with a seeming affinity for the Fox News host. In April 2009, a man allegedly armed with an AK-47, a .22-caliber rifle and a handgun was charged with killing three cops in Pittsburgh. The Anti-Defamation League reported that the accused killer had, as part of a pattern of activities involving far-right conspiracy theories, posted a link on a neo-Nazi Web site to a video of Beck talking about the possibility that FEMA was operating concentration camps in Wyoming. The killings came after Beck told Fox viewers that he "can't debunk" the notion that FEMA was operating such camps -- but before he finally acknowledged that the conspiracy wasn't real.

Beck has at times spoken against violence, but he more often forecasts it, warning that "it is only a matter of time before an actual crazy person really does something stupid." Most every broadcast has some violent imagery: "The clock is ticking.... The war is just beginning.... Shoot me in the head if you try to change our government.... You have to be prepared to take rocks to the head.... The other side is attacking.... There is a coup going on.... Grab a torch!.... Drive a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers.... They are taking you to a place to be slaughtered.... They are putting a gun to America's head.... Hold these people responsible."

Beck has prophesied darkly to his millions of followers that we are reaching "a point where the people will have exhausted all their options. When that happens, look out." One night on Fox, discussing the case of a man who killed 10 people, Beck suggested such things were inevitable. "If you're a conservative, you are called a racist, you want to starve children," he said. "And every time they do speak out, they are shut down by political correctness. How do you not have those people turn into that guy?"

Here's one idea: Stop encouraging them.

Now there's a thought. Beck is perhaps the worst media demagogue since Father Coughlin in the 1930s. Fox News should be pressured not to wait until Beck has a body count before stopping him. His freedom of speech does not entitle him to a contract with Fox. The tables need to be turned on that network for its unscrupulous trafficking in nativist paranoia for the sake of profits; but that cannot be done by Democrats who are themselves governed by fear.

(Hat tip: Media Matters. Photo of Glenn Beck by Richard Drew/AP)

Dan Choi Inc?

(Former Lt. Dan Choi in Iraq, July 2007. Photo courtesy Dan Choi.)

Our left coast friend and troublemaker-par-excellence Michael Petrelis quotes some interesting posts by LezGetReal blogger Melanie Nathan concerning, as Mike puts it, "the motivations, and speaking fees, of former soldier Dan Choi."

Melanie's first post is from July 23:

Later I found out that Dan Choi has an agent. (Gotham Artists).

This led me to question why an agent? Activists put the cause first – they struggle financially, are able to fund their own activism or are openly paid via non-profits with Board responsibility at their helm; they don’t need agents. And they do not make deals for their activism that involve making money.

I have been thinking for some time that Dan Choi is too much about Dan Choi. This is something we seldom encounter here in Washington, where political operatives are selfless, modest, and routinely put their principles ahead of their careers. [Sarcasm alert.] Melanie followed up on July 27:

[M]y question is does he take his risks and jump on stages, hunger strike for a few days and tie himself to the White House to up his price? Or does he do it all purely for the repeal of DADT.

Dan or his agent might say, Why not both? BTW, the Gotham Artists description of Choi includes this: "Lt. Choi is committed to applying the leadership lessons he learned at West Point." This is fine, but it appears to conflict with his recent statement to Sen. Harry Reid, via a Netroots Nation moderator, that his West Point ring no longer had the same meaning to him that it once did. Really? If he still values the leadership lessons he learned at West Point, that would suggest that the things the ring represents remain powerful despite his unjust discharge. Could we, heaven forfend, be witnessing shameless self-promotion thinly disguised as a courageous act of protest? I think the answer to that is yes. I spoke with both Choi and Kathy Griffin at the HRC rally on Freedom Plaza on March 18, and while both were quite personable, Dan gave off more Important Person vibes than Kathy. He is definitely not aiming for the D List.

One last comment. Mike's caption for the above photo is, "Former Lt. Choi serving as a soldier in Iraq in July 2007, fighting the Bush/Cheney war for oil. Notice the oil containers in the background and the gun in Choi hands. What do oil, guns and illegal wars have to do with gay liberation?" Let me suppress my gag reflex while I consider this. Well, Mike, I know lots of gay people who burn up large quantities of petrol, as the Brits call it. When a brutal madman sits atop one of the largest oil fields in the world, that becomes a national security issue whether you acknowledge it or not. As to guns, they are an unavoidable accompaniment to life as a soldier, and we need soldiers to defend our country and its interests. As to whether the Iraq war was illegal, we can certainly agree that it was ill-advised. But it is profoundly misguided to smear a warrior's honorable service by associating him with politicians one opposes. The war may have been wrong, but Lt. Choi's service in it was right as rain. That part should not be in dispute.

July 29, 2010

Jon Stewart: Jason Jones Interview of Scott Lively

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Gay Reichs
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Scott Lively has written a book called "The Pink Swastika" and peddles the theory that the top leadership of the Nazi Party (including Hitler) was gay.  He maintains that gay men are too vicious to be allowed to serve in the military (an interesting contrast to the idea that gay men are too much sissies).  A German historian and a selection of gay activists refute the idea. The interview was lots of fun and did include the following interchange

Lively: "The Nazis persecuted homosexuals to distract public attention away from their own homosexuality." 
 Jones: "So that which you hate the most you secretly are?"  Followed by raised eyebrows.
 ..long uncomfortable pause.. 
 Lively: "I am not gay."
Jones: "I didn't say you are."

However, knowing who Scott Lively is made me less likely to treat him as a joke.

In addition to the Free Exercise clause, mosque-blocking violates federal law

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), (U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 et seq.), section 2(a)(1) states:

No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution, unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person, assembly, or institution--
(A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

I would love to see Newt and Sarah explain the compelling government interest in blocking, for example, the Cordoba House in lower Manhattan.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Taking one for the team on the NOM bus tour?

Ryan-McCann-thumb-225x210-13045 Bil Browning has an amusing post on his dates with an anti-gay activist, this time in connection with NOM's summer bus tour:

When the National Organization for Marriage's summer bus tour rolled into Indianapolis, I grabbed the chance to chat one-on-one with Maggie Gallagher, NOM's President. After all, I'd already sat down with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and Ryan McCann, Director of Public Policy for the Indiana Family Institute, and I often go head to head on local media. When I realized I could interview both Ryan and Maggie, I knew I had a winning combo.

Ryan and I have a running bet for when we disagree. The losing person has to go on a date to an event of the winner's choosing. I took Ryan to the movies. He took me to an ex-gay conference. He's such a romantic.

Watch as Maggie and Ryan preach about love and truth at a rally for a group that's faced numerous electoral finance complaints and featured a sign saying that the "solution" to same-sex marriage is to lynch gay couples. But when questioned about those pesky legal troubles, they start squirming and I end up with another date.

This will be our third date and you know what that means! Will I have to take one for the team?

This could open up a new front in the marriage wars. Is there a selfless lesbian out there who'd be willing to "take one for the team" with Maggie Gallagher? (No need to send pictures.)

(Hat tip: Wayne Besen. Photo of Ryan McCann of Indiana Family Institute)

Gag reflex: NOM claims mantle of the civil rights era

Chris Geidner writes at Metro Weekly about the latest demonstration of chutzpah by Brian Brown of National Organization for Marriage.

I think we should rename them NOPE on Marriage, for National Organization to Prevent Equality on Marriage. If Brown's demand for the "right to vote" on gay people's marriages resembles anything from the civil rights era, it is the notion, defended by White Citizens Councils, that the majority had the right to vote away their black neighbors' rights.

DC GOP demands mythical "Republican seat" on Board of Elections

We received the following news release this morning from Paul Craney of the D.C. Republican Party:

*Press Release*
For Immediate Release

July 29, 2010

Contact: Paul D. Craney
Mobile: (202) 550-1450
Email: *paul@dcgop.com*

*Councilmembers Duck Vote on Mital & Get Ducks**
**GOP Council Candidates & Gandhi Hand Deliver Ducks to CMs Today*

*Washington, DC:* Council candidates Marc Morgan (R-Ward 1), Dave Hedgepeth (R-Ward 3), Tim Day (R-Ward 5) & Jim DeMartino (R-Ward 6) hand delivered toy ducks to their opponents to symbolize the DC Council avoiding a vote on Mital Gandhi to the DC Board of Elections and Ethics. The Council is scheduled to vote on Mr. Togo West at 3:30pm today.

*"The law is very clear. Our Councilmembers have a responsibility to fill the Republican seat on the Board. Councilmember Cheh needs to lead her colleagues now," *stated Dave Hedgepeth, candidate for Ward 3 DC Council.

*"It would be nice to see Councilmember Wells have the same passion for obeying the spirit of the law and vote for Mital Gandhi as he does with imposing plastic bag fees," *stated Jim DeMartino, candidate for Ward 6 DC Council.

*"Councilmember Harry Thomas Sr was able to obey the spirit of the law, why can't Tommy Jr,"* stated Tim Day, candidate for Ward 5 DC Council. **

*"We hope toy ducks will catch Councilmember Graham's attention long enough for him to do the right thing and vote for Mital to ensure there is accountability on the Board,"* stated Marc Morgan, candidate for Ward 1 DC Council.

I replied as follows:


Thank you for the press release concerning the filling of vacancies on the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. You refer to "the Republican seat on the Board." According to a website titled Just Means:

"The District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics is established under §3 of the District of Columbia Election Act, approved August 12, 1955 (69 Stat. 699; DC Code §1-1001.01 et seq.). The District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics is vested with authority to administer and enforce the provisions of the District of Columbia Election Act, as amended, and the District of Columbia Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act, approved August 14, 1974 (88 Stat. 446; as codified in DC Code §1-1101.01 et seq. (1981).

"The Board is composed of three members, no more than two of whom shall be members of the same political party, who are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Council of the District of Columbia. The Mayor designates, from time to time, the Chairperson of the Board."

This comports with my understanding of the rules for DCBOEE. There thus appears to be no requirement that a Republican be appointed to the Board. The third Board member could be a Statehood-Green Party member or an independent. If you think I am mistaken on this, please show me the evidence. I would agree that the delay in filling the third position is a matter of concern, but that is a separate issue.


Rick Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance

(Copying Councilmembers Cheh, Wells, Thomas and Graham, referenced in DCGOP press release)

Of course, if Mr. Craney wants to substitute silly stunts for knowing the facts, that's his choice. I don't see how it will build his party in the District. Seven years ago, there were two Republican members on the D.C. Council, both well-respected reformers. One of them (David Catania) was essentially driven out, and the other (Carol Schwartz) was defeated by a primary challenger (Patrick Mara) who then lost in the general election to Democrat-turned-Independent Michael Brown. Thus have they emulated the national party in driving people out rather than drawing them in. Interesting choice.

Interview with Ugandan asylum applicant Kushaba Moses Mworeko

Kushaba_Moses_Mworeko Today's issue of Metro Weekly features an interview by Will O'Brian with gay Ugandan Kushaba Moses Mworeko, who is seeking asylum in the U.S. Here's the opening:

Ugandan politics took a sad walk onto the world stage at the end of 2009, when David Bahati, a member of Parliament, introduced a bill to gruesomely enhance his country's existing laws against gay people – making it a crime not to report gays, and going so far as to call for the execution of gays in some circumstances. The death penalty provisions have not become law, but Uganda remains hostile territory.

Kushaba Moses Mworeko, a 31-year-old Ugandan, knows that firsthand. In October 2009, the same month Bahati introduced his bill, Mworeko, who usually goes by Moses, made his first trip to the United States. While the official purpose of his trip was to participate in an HIV/AIDS conference on South Padre Island, Texas, Mworeko already had hopes of finding a U.S. port to shelter him from the homophobic storm back in Uganda.

"You are subjected to police arrests and torture, and sometimes these people die in jail," Mworeko says of the situation for gays in Uganda. "Unexpected house searches sometimes lead to bribes to protect oneself from being exposed by the media."

Mworeko's willingness to tell his story publicly is an act of courage, as he is appealing an initial denial of his asylum request and would likely face reprisals if forced to return to Uganda. Ending the unjust official practice of minimizing the threats faced by gay asylum applicants requires that people like Mworeko step forward and tell their stories. Read the whole interview here.

(Photo of Kushaba Moses Mworeko by Todd Franson)

July 28, 2010

Congress narrows crack-to-powder disparity

"African Americans comprise 82 percent of those convicted for federal crack cocaine offenses but only 30 percent of crack users...."

Amid the hysteria-mongering about largely mythical dangers posed by illegal immigrants and a handful of wackjobs calling themselves the New Black Panther Party, little attention is being paid to a bill now headed to President Obama for signing, which will reduce the notorious disparity in the quantity of powder cocaine required to get the same criminal sentence as for crack cocaine, from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1. Jasmine Tyler of the Drug Policy Alliance writes:

The 100-1 ratio has caused myriad problems, including perpetuating racial disparities, wasting taxpayer money, and targeting low-level offenders instead of dangerous criminals. African Americans comprise 82 percent of those convicted for federal crack cocaine offenses but only 30 percent of crack users, and 62 percent of people convicted for crack offenses were low-level sellers or lookouts.

Advocates pushed to totally eliminate the disparity but ultimately a compromise was struck between Democrats and Republicans to reduce the 100-to-1 disparity to 18-to-1. The compromise also eliminated the five year mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of five grams of cocaine (about two sugar packets worth). The repeal of that mandatory minimum is the first repeal of a mandatory minimum drug sentence since the 1970s. Overall, the compromise bill is expected to reduce the federal prison population by thousands of offenders and save an estimated $42 million in criminal justice spending over the first five years.

I'm overjoyed that thousands of people, mostly African American, will no longer be unjustly subjected to the harsh sentencing laws enacted in the 1980s. The compromise is not perfect and more needs to be done, but this is a huge step forward in reforming our country's overly harsh and wasteful drug laws.

The continued 18-to-1 disparity is obnoxious, but it represents a big improvement and moves us in the right direction. If this were LGBT legislation, however, it would provoke howls of outrage from those in our community who demand absolute and instantaneous perfection or nothing at all. How wonderful it would be if more working activists around the country would stop pandering to this foolishness and start telling the "zappers" to get serious.

Many lives will be improved when the President signs the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 in the next few days. That is a good thing, even though the job is unfinished. Effective activism requires marrying principle to pragmatism. When we become so enamored of our ideas that we serenely rise above reality, we are placing abstractions ahead of people. That's a frightening prospect all too easy for the relatively privileged to indulge. So I look at the photo above and am grateful to the legislative sausage-makers for their work.

Charles Sherrod: latest right-wing target?

Sherrod_charles Los Angeles-based blogger Derrick Mathis writes:

Uh oh. A black man gets caught on film being pro-black. Yep. He’s in trouble now.

The conservative right are circulating videos of Charles Sherrod around the Net with a vengeance. Now they have their justification for continuing to support Andrew Breitbart and his lying racist ways. Apparently yet another conservative blogger Dan Riel of Riehl World dug up some old video of Charles Sherrod, husband of sista Shirley Sherrod (she’s so proud and black we have to call her sista)—-who as everyone knows was a victim of Andrew Breitbart’s video editing skills in which he made her statements seem rather aggressive towards whites and straight up racist.

After a beating by the liberal media these last few days Breitbart seems to have turned the tables back again on Sherrod with this video of her husband giving a speech in which he talks about how blacks need to support each other and pull together....

Here’s the problem with this perspective and it’s not just white conservatives who see things this way: Black pride or being pro-black is not racism.

I agree with that; but Mathis, in describing blacks who are "careful to not say anything that would indicate they are in tune or aware or even impacted by white abuses against blacks," states, "We know plenty of black folks like that. That’s what Sherrod meant in his video when he mentioned 'Uncle Toms.' The entire gay black activist community in Los Angeles is exactly like that."

I have only visited L.A. once and do not know the background that led to that comment, but it's an awfully sweeping generalization for someone who is criticizing other people's bias. I'd like to assure Mathis that he needn't mince words with me.

BTW, check out the embedded videos in Mathis's post. I am inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to someone like Rev. Sherrod, who is a veteran of the Freedom Rides and a co-founder of SNCC. And the fact that Sherrod is attacked by the right-wing Gay Patriot blogger doesn't hurt him in my eyes. In any case, this story doesn't seem to be getting much traction in the mainstream media.

(Hat tip: Mark Thompson. Photo of Rev. Charles Sherrod)

O'Reilly supports DADT repeal

Add this to your End Times Watch list.

(Hat tip: Mark Thompson)

Ousted evangelical calls for independence from partisanship

Richard-cizik_sq NPR reports:

For 10 years, the Rev. Richard Cizik was the chief lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents roughly 30 million constituents across the United States.

But he was forced out of that position in December 2008, after remarks he made on Fresh Air about his support of gay civil unions, among other things.

On Wednesday, Cizik returned to Fresh Air to discuss how his life has changed since he left the association and why he started a new group called the Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, which he hopes will be an alternative to Christian groups that focus on the culture wars.

Cizik says he has no regrets about what happened to him after appearing on the show.

"In so many ways, this has been good for me," he tells Terry Gross, adding that his support of same-sex civil unions wasn't the only reason he was asked to leave the NAE.

"It was a sum total of everything [I said on Fresh Air]," Cizik explains. "It was speaking out on behalf of creation care, climate change, a broader agenda — speaking out on a host of levels that just offended the old guard. Civil unions, well that was just one part of it." ...

He also explains how he believes the evangelical movement has changed in the past several decades — and why he believes the evangelical movement is overdue for another ideological shift.

"Most important, [we need to become] independent of partisanship and ideology rather than subservient to partisanship and ideology," he says. "Evangelicalism [has] become so subservient to an ideology and to a political party that it needs, as I say, to be born again."

(Hat tip: Jon Carl Lewis. Photo of Richard Cizik by David Hathaway)

Study: Same-sex couples can thrive as adoptive parents

WaPo reports:

A groundbreaking study by researchers at the University of Virginia and George Washington University finds that children adopted by lesbian and gay male couples develop just as well as those adopted by heterosexual parents.

The findings, published in the August issue of the journal Applied Developmental Science, are important because of the debate surrounding gay parenting. Same-sex couples are barred from adopting children in Florida, Mississippi and Utah. A similar case is in the Arkansas courts.

All this is rooted in "the deeply entrenched belief that children need one male and one female parent for optimal development," the authors write. Numerous studies have affirmed the parenting skills of lesbian parents -- less is known about the capabilities of gay male parents -- but the studies have been criticized for using self-reported data or for lacking comparison groups of heterosexual couples.

There are no such deficiencies in the current study, titled "Parenting and Child Development in Adoptive Families: Does Parental Sexual Orientation Matter?" It was penned by U-Va. researchers Rachel Farr and Charlotte Patterson and GWU scholar Stephen Forssell.

NOM Prevent Marriage tour stops in Madison

Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice writes:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) "descended" (all 5 of them, in Madison!) upon Madison on Tuesday, July 27 as part of their nationwide "Summer of Marriage" tour. The tour is busing in individuals from across the country to spread their distortions and discriminatory agenda. We are glad to join NOM in drawing attention this summer to the importance of marriage. In announcing their summer tour, NOM declared that this is "an urgent time for marriage" and that "a strong marriage...makes a strong family," "strong neighborhoods," and "strong towns, cities and states." We couldn't agree more, which is why we believe that it is time to stop excluding loving and committed same-sex couples from marriage. Unlike NOM, we are demonstrating what it means to really be for marriage.

That's why Fair Wisconsin, ACLU, Raging Grannies, WNPJ and other fair-minded organizations and individuals from every corner of our state march for marriage equality on July 27th.

GetEQUAL arrested at protest in Capitol Rotunda

Metro Weekly reports:

On Wednesday, July 28, eight individuals associated with Get Equal were arrested for "Unlawful Conduct - Demonstrating in the Capitol Building," according to the U.S. Capitol Police, following a protest in which the eight stood silent with signs serving as a "reminder" to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) that she had promised a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act this year. The eight then, as the Rotunda was being cleared of visitors and media, sat down, began pounding the marble floor and called for a vote on ENDA. Among those arrested was Zack Rosen, of the blog The New Gay.

I feel liberated already.

But don't call them bigots

Right Wing Watch reports:

The Islamic Center of Temecula, California has been seeking permits to build a mosque for over a year and a half and its proposal is scheduled to come before the Temecula planning commissioners on Aug. 18.

And so Tea Party activists are planning to protest outside of the Islamic Center's existing facility and urging participants to bring dogs in order to intimidate worshipers because "Muslims hate dogs."

Andrew Sullivan comments:

This is great news for al Qaeda, and for all those Jihadists who want a civilizational war over religion. Are there any countervailing voices in the GOP? Anyone willing to stand up to this? When Gingrich has signed on, you realize that there are no moderating elites any more. Just opportunists willing to ride the tiger of polarization.

What could be more un-American than to attack religious freedom? But of course that's not how the Tea Partiers see it. They are attacking an easily-demonized religious minority. Defenders of tolerance and the Free Exercise clause need to make themselves heard before this dangerous nonsense gets any worse.

July 27, 2010

If you think we have it bad...


Amazing Women Rock posts twenty-three shockingly sexist vintage ads, including the ones above and below. My question is, what exactly is this woman planning to do with the Hoover that is going to make her so happy? I'll have to ask my friend Ester about this.


(Hat tip: Denise Sudell)

Boehlert: Beck is close to having a body count

Eric Boehlert writes at Media Matters:

On his Monday radio show, Glenn Beck highlighted claims that before he started targeting a little-known, left-leaning organization called the Tides Foundation on his Fox News TV show, "nobody knew" what the non-profit was.

Indeed, for more than a year Beck has been portraying the progressive organization as a central player in a larger, nefarious cabal of Marxist/socialist/Nazi Obama-loving outlets determined to destroy democracy in America. Beck has routinely smeared the low-profile entity for being staffed by "thugs" and "bullies" and involved in "the nasty of the nastiest," like indoctrinating schoolchildren and creating a "mass organization to seize power."

As Media Matters reported, the conspiratorial host had mentioned (read: attacked) the little-known progressive organization nearly 30 times on his Fox program alone since it premiered in 2009, including several mentions in the last month. (Beck's the only TV talker who regularly references the foundation, according to our Nexis searches.)

So yes, Beck has done all he can to scare the hell out of people about the Tides Foundation and "turn the light of day" onto an organization that actually facilitates non-profit giving.

And guess what? Everybody in America would have found out about the Tides Foundation last week if Byron Williams had had his way. He's the right-wing, government-hating, gun-toting nut who strapped on his body armor, stocked a pickup truck with guns and ammo, and set off up the California coast to San Francisco in order to start killing employees at the previously obscure Tides Foundation in hopes of sparking a political revolution.

Thankfully, the planned domestic terrorist attack never came to pass because California Highway Patrol officers pulled Williams over for drunk driving on his way to his killing spree. Williams quickly opened fire, wounding two officers during a lengthy shootout.

Scary, eh? Read the whole thing. The ones most threatening America are the ones most loudly crying about a threat from within. Andrew Sullivan is right: this is reminiscent of Weimar Germany. Is our republic more robust than Weimar? Let's hope so.

BTW, the Tides Foundation was the fiscal sponsor of last October's National Equality March. Tides CEO Drummond Pike issued this statement on the incident, and wrote this call for civil discourse in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle.

NOM rally sign calls for lynching gay couples


Bil Browning reports at Bilerico:

The National Organization for Marriage's "One Man, One Woman" bus tour hit Indianapolis today and the LGBT community came out to greet them. Since we're hospitable Hoosiers, of course, our welcome wagon outnumbered the small dog and pony show put on by NOM and local religious right groups.

Over 250 LGBT and allied folks protested the rally, but only 40 fundies showed up. At least 10 of the anti-marriage equality crowd were NOM staff or local speakers; the rest of the group were older Caucasians and skewed slightly female.

One older attendee held this sign and the Courage Campaign, there to document the entire tour, got an interview with the man. It's included after the jump with another photo of the guy with the sign....

UPDATE: Freedom To Marry has launched a petition asking NOM to disavow the man and his sign. Sign it here.

Here's to freedom of speech: give these fanatics enough rope and they hang themselves.

Gingrich launches another Obama-as-traitor campaign


CNN reports:

Newt Gingrich will deliver a major national security address at the conservative American Enterprise Institute on Thursday in which he will reprimand the Obama administration's "willful blindness" to the threat of extremist Islam.

The speech - a direct challenge to the president's foreign policy judgement at a venue that's become an important stopover for Republican luminaries - is the latest sign that Gingrich is serious about a potential White House bid in 2012.

Gingrich "will warn," according to a synopsis of the event, "that now is the time to awaken from self-deception about the nature of our enemies and rebuild a bipartisan commitment, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, to defend America."

Never one to shy away from his somewhat professorial reputation, Gingrich plans to draw on "the lessons of Camus and Orwell" to explain "the dangers of a wartime government that uses language and misleading labels to obscure reality."

Andrew Sullivan responds:

No word, one supposes, of "enhanced interrogation techniques". No grasp that fighting Jihadist terror may take more than polarizing rhetoric - or that polarizing rhetoric might actually make things worse. Notice too the "wilfull" blindness. That means the president is knowingly aiding and abetting the enemy. You can see the crude Cheneyism of all this: set up a fall campaign premised on the absurdity that the Obama administration is targeting white Americans for discrimination, run against the mosque blocks away from Ground Zero, and then accuse the president in code of being a traitor to his country.

It's all so Weimar, isn't it?

As Sullivan notes, this is playing the Dolchstoss card, which refers to a false claim that gained currency during the Weimar Republic that Germany had not lost World War I but had been "stabbed in the back" and forced to surrender by Jews, socialists, and liberals.

Gingrich routinely says howlingly ignorant and false things with great confidence and a tone of barely restrained outrage. He is an utterly unscrupulous opportunist who aggressively tried to bring down President Clinton in 1998 for womanizing despite his own womanizing. The blithe way he trafficks in the most inflammatory slanders against the President makes it clear that if anyone is stabbing someone in the back, it is Newt and his fellow right-wing fanatics. Of course there is a core of voters who lap up this stuff; but if moderates and independents are prepared to swallow it, God help us as a country.

Gingrich and his compatriots, and those whose fears they stir up, will fight for their nasty version of America in which, to cite one perversion of our founding principles, religious liberty is selectively repealed. The question is, are we going to fight for our vision of America?

July 26, 2010

TWO fact-checks Bill Donohue

Bruce Garrett writes at Truth Wins Out:

The Washington Post dug itself a little deeper into the gutter the other day (I guess that’s still possible), when it allowed Bill Donohue, of the One Man Catholic Defense League, to repeat in its pages one of the older and more enduring lies in the kook pew’s arsenal…

"Alfred Kinsey was the first to identify a correlation between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of minors. In 1948, he found that 37 percent of all male homosexuals admitted to having sex with children under 17 years old."

This is why I own a copy of Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior In The Human Male. Nobody but other sex researchers, and those of us with an interest in fact checking the bigots, actually takes the trouble to go through its page after page after page after page of dry, meticulously documented tables. Which makes it an easy book for the bigots to to lie through their teeth about. In fact, Kinsey said no such thing as, happily, some of the comments to that Washington Post column are pointing out. What Kinsey discovered, was that 37 percent of all males had some overt homosexual experience to the point of orgasm, sometime between adolescence and old age.

Notice the difference? It’s not even 37 percent actually had sex when they were teenagers. But never mind that for a moment. If having had gay sex with a teenager, when you yourself were also a teenager makes you a pedophile (and yes, remarkably, some of them will insist even that is so), then tell me what percentage of the heterosexual population are also pedophiles? Is everyone who ever took a roll in the hay with their high school sweetheart a pedophile now? The line to register as a sex offender is going to be a tad long then. Maybe we can all just check a box off during the next census.

This kind of mendacity doesn’t happen accidentally and this one is actually quite old now. I saw them dispensing this back in the 80s, when all the kook pews had to vent on was the letters to the editor page and Usenet. I don’t know if Paul Cameron floated this one first but it has his touch written all over it.

Thanks, Bruce. (We had a bit of fun earlier when Bruce initially slipped and wrote "Phil Donohue" instead of "Bill Donohue." Phil, of course, is the one married to Marlo Thomas, and is a gay-affirming Catholic.)

Sixty-two years ago today

President Harry Truman


Establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity In the Armed Forces.

WHEREAS it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country's defense:

NOW THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, by the Constitution and the statutes of the United States, and as Commander in Chief of the armed services, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.

2. There shall be created in the National Military Establishment an advisory committee to be known as the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, which shall be composed of seven members to be designated by the President.

3. The Committee is authorized on behalf of the President to examine into the rules, procedures and practices of the Armed Services in order to determine in what respect such rules, procedures and practices may be altered or improved with a view to carrying out the policy of this order. The Committee shall confer and advise the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Air Force, and shall make such recommendations to the President and to said Secretaries as in the judgment of the Committee will effectuate the policy hereof.

4. All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government are authorized and directed to cooperate with the Committee in its work, and to furnish the Committee such information or the services of such persons as the Committee may require in the performance of its duties.

5. When requested by the Committee to do so, persons in the armed services or in any of the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall testify before the Committee and shall make available for use of the Committee such documents and other information as the Committee may require.

6. The Committee shall continue to exist until such time as the President shall terminate its existence by Executive order.

Harry Truman

The White House
July 26, 1948

Dionne: Enough right-wing propaganda

E.J. Dionne Jr. nails it:

The traditional media are so petrified of being called "liberal" that they are prepared to allow the Breitbarts of the world to become their assignment editors. Mainstream journalists regularly criticize themselves for not jumping fast enough or high enough when the Fox crowd demands coverage of one of their attack lines.

Thus did Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander ask this month why the paper had been slow to report on "the Justice Department's decision to scale down a voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party." Never mind that this is a story about a tiny group of crackpots who stopped no one from voting. It was aimed at doing what the doctored video Breitbart posted set out to do: convince Americans that the Obama administration favors blacks over whites....

This is racially inflammatory, politically motivated nonsense -- and it's nonsense even if Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh talk about it a thousand times a day. When an outlandish charge for which there is no evidence is treated as an on-the-one-hand-and-on-the-other-hand issue, the liars win.

The Sherrod case should be the end of the line. If Obama hates the current media climate, he should stop overreacting to it. And the mainstream media should stop being afraid of insisting on the difference between news and propaganda.

And those who want to defeat the radical right need to FIGHT BACK.

Sen. Reid makes gold out of Choi's attempted zap

Steve Friess describes how Dan Choi's attempted zap of Sen. Harry Reid at the Netroots Nation conference on Saturday was flipped by the senator into a warm-and-fuzzy moment. Here are some observations by Friess interspersed with comments that were just emailed by blogger Michael Petrelis:

SF: So how did an effort to embarrass Reid turn into something of an emotional triumph for him?

MP: was GE even thinking that reid's people might have planned for a zap or action of some sort during his NN speech? um, after GE [GetEQUAL] zapped the traffic on the strip and cited reid's name, just maybe his staff was prepared and GE wasn't, again?

SF: Choi's protest at Netroots on Saturday? Not so much. It was nuanced and complex, it was so easily misinterpreted that even the person Choi wanted to embarrass didn't get it. And in the end, the media got this warm moment of Reid and Choi embracing, and the idea of boiling into a soundbite everything I've written here was absolutely impossible. Mission failed.

MP: mission failed are the words i have associated with kip and robin, when they were in one struggle, one fight and meed in the middle, and didn't keep promises made about CA organizing, and the same words i associate with them and dan choi and the other GE members who put on the DC march in october and failed to deliver a national network in 435 congressional districts, and the same words i associate with their inability to stage a single public meeting of their own to explain whatever their agenda is, get a decent and interactive web site operating, present a plan to the community. lurching from zap to zap and spending jonathan lewis' money generating small news quick to fade, ain't a plan.

GE has sucked all the activist oxygen out of the movement and they have little support, or community engagement, or measureable successes to tout.

What happend in vegas by the gays for NN will stay in vegas and have little impact on moving the gay agenda forward. harry reid ain't gonna do a damn thing for us because he was gifted a ring from a drama queen.

This makes my day. You go, leader Reid!

I happened to be standing right next to Robin McGehee on March 18 in D.C. when she (on behalf of GetEQUAL) threatened to disrupt HRC’s Kathy Griffin/DADT repeal rally unless they let Dan Choi speak. Since boorishness, attacks on our friends, and hijacking other groups’ events are not my idea of effective activism, and since it would be insanely harmful to our cause to help Reid’s nutbag opponent get elected, and since the lovely Mr. Choi has shown more drama than judgment, I’d say the attempted zap worked out surprisingly well — at least for the candidate I want to see elected. GetEQUAL may find the prospect of a Senator Sharron Angle and a Majority Leader Mitch McConnell somehow liberating, but I do not.

July 25, 2010

"Oh, I sure want to meet them"

From 43 years ago, in a conversation with a most uncomfortable liberal, Hollywood's first black leading man "predicts" a president born of an interracial love cemented in Hawaii. This was six years after Barack Obama was born, and (incidentally) was about the time when civil rights activist Charles Sherrod met and married his wife Shirley in Georgia. Shirley's father was murdered by a white farmer when she was 17; she would go on to help hundreds of poor farmers, white and black.

Fighting the silence

Andrew Sullivan uses a discussion of Michael Petrelis's openness about his HIV status as a jumping-off point for consideration of the reasons for his own blogging.

U.S. Catholic Latinos: liberal on gay marriage?

Joseph-Palacios_med Our friend Joe Palacios, Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, has a fascinating piece on WaPo's On Faith blog:

Have Latino Catholics become the most progressive political group supporting gay rights in the U.S.? The casual observer of culture often perceives that Latino Catholics are one of the most conservative groups regarding family values and faith. Yet the Public Religion Research Institute's July 21, 2010, report on "Religion and Same-Sex Marriage in California" found that Latino Catholics stand in sharp in contrast to many sectors of American public, especially Latino Protestants, illustrating the sharp effect of religion on Latino attitudes towards homosexuality and civil and human rights for the gay community. Regarding Latino Catholics the report, based on June 2010 polling of 3,351 California adults with oversamples for Latinos, highlights these two social dynamics:

• 57% of Latino Catholics would vote for the legalization of same-sex marriage compared to 22% of Latino Protestants
• Latino Catholics "say they trust the parents of gay and lesbian children more than their own clergy as a source of information about homosexuality."

These two dynamics illustrate the new face of Latino Catholicism in California. According to the Pew Forum an estimated 31% of California's population is Catholic. And of that between 40-50% is Latino. This Latino trend helps pull Catholic social attitudes, already more liberal than Protestants, towards greater support of gay rights....

Recently same-sex marriage and adoption rights were legally approved in the Catholic countries of Argentina, Spain, and Portugal, as well as Mexico City. It is important to note that modern Latin Catholicism has a dual nature: it is "conservative" in the sense of family communalism and tradition that the church offers, yet it is classically "liberal" in the sense of not wanting the Catholic Church to have power in political life-- particularly after the long historical experience of the Latin American Church "meddling in politics." As Mexicans put it: "No meta en la política." A sizeable majority of U.S. Latino Catholics shares these attitudes with them. Increasingly they are joining their Latin counterparts in accepting gays and lesbians as part of the social family that is both Catholic and liberal.

Read the whole thing for an insightful analysis of why the Hispanic world is trending pro-equality on marriage.

Predator lurking in the schools

The Washington Post reports:

While Kevin Ricks was tutoring a student in Fauquier County in 2008, he reached out to the teenager's friend Joel Kaiser via myspace.com and began asking personal questions about the boy. Elena Kaiser, Joel's mother, caught her son moments before his first scheduled meeting with Ricks, and then warned the principal of Osbourn High School. (Video by Anna Uhls/The Washington Post)

July 23, 2010

Fred Phelps meets Bender


Comics Alliance reports on the greeting that Fred Phelps and his clan received when they showed up to protest outside San Diego's Comic-Con:

Unbeknownst to the dastardly fanatics of the Westboro Baptist Church, the good folks of San Diego's Comic-Con were prepared for their arrival with their own special brand of superhuman counter protesting chanting "WHAT DO WE WANT" "GAY SEX" "WHEN DO WE WANT IT" "NOW!" while brandishing ironic (and some sincere) signs. Simply stated: The eclectic assembly of nerdom's finest stood and delivered.


(Hat tip: Rick Norton. Photos by Comics Alliance)

Passage to Uganda


My boyfriend spent Thursday on a bus traveling with his sister from Burundi through Rwanda to Uganda on business. This area has been known in recent years for genocide, war, lawlessness and virulent homophobia. What a great choice for a bus tour! Patrick is supposed to let me know when he has arrived safely in Uganda, "safely in Uganda" being an oxymoron. While there, he is going to contact a gay farmer who has been seeking help obtaining asylum. Patrick is from this region.

Images from Hotel Rwanda run through my mind. Of course, those events were sixteen years ago and things are quieter now. A friend last evening on 17th Street helpfully mentioned that there are bandits in Rwanda who will shoot you as soon as look at you. I am waiting for Patrick to send a message with a phone number where I can reach him. I feel selfish for worrying; my thoughts go to the countless people who have waited for word from loved ones under much worse conditions — and to those like Paul Rusesabagina who fight to preserve humanity in the midst of horror.

Update: I just got a note from Patrick. I now have a phone number with a 256 country code to call. Thank goodness for laptops and cell phones.

Marriage support in the Americas


BTB shares this graph from Americas Quarterly showing the support for marriage equality in various countries in the Americas. Kisses to the 3.5 percent of gay-affirming Jamaicans.

Update: Amanda Hess liked my wisecrack about Jamaica.

NOMTourTracker.com: Videographer threatened with arrest in Maryland

Even after the NOMTourTracker videographer moves well back from Brian Brown and his small group of demonstrators, a police officer pretends that the videographer is somehow interfering with NOM's demonstration and threatens arrest. The cop also orders the videographer not to photograph him. I would love to know the legal basis for a cop demanding not to be photographed. Sorry, but police are not laws unto themselves, and are not entitled to make up their own rules.

BTW, I do not use the heading "NOM Tour Fail" because, contrary to the overwhelming majority of bloggers these days, "fail" is not a noun. The correct noun is "failure." There is something sad about this desperate need on the part of so many to be trendy. Demonic neologisms, I rebuke thee!

(Hat tip: Michael Crawford)

Update: DreamHost is way ahead of me. The top response to their January 27 "Death of Fail" contest is: 'I wholeheartedly support this endeavor and have dubbed it the “2010 FINANCE ACT”. As in “2010 Fail Is Not A Noun Customer Education ACT”.'

Video: Maddow takes on O'Reilly, military surveys

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In the video above, Rachel Maddow gives a righteous drubbing of Bill O'Reilly for gloating about his ratings in response to her criticism of Fox for its habitual touting of fabricated scandals. She says that even if only "my mom and my girlfriend" watched her show, she was still right and he was still wrong on what counted, which was the facts. Tell it, sister.

Below, Rachel explains the irrelevance of Pentagon surveys of the troops to the question of constitutional rights, and points out that the Pentagon did troop surveys in the 1940s on the subject of racial integration. Those surveys showed most troops opposed to integration; President Truman integrated the armed forces in 1948 anyway.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

That's Estertainment - Episode 1

Our friend Ester in Tinsel Town debuts her new weekly dose of showbiz schmooze, political crap and weird-ass news ya might have missed:

This Week's episode: Lindsay hits the slammer - Mel give sa shiner - the Palins are totally Slimier - and Whips buggies and Amish Hot boys. So sit your tookus down and enjoy.

July 22, 2010

Rangel, above the law and impertinent questions

After the House Ethics Committee ruled today that Rep. Charlie Rangel will face a trial in the House for ethics violations, MSNBC reporter Luke Russert had some questions for him. His arrogant response in this video would give you the impression, if you did not know better, that Russert's questions had come out of the blue and amounted to a baseless smear. But there is something more in Rangel's behavior: an attitude that he should not be subjected to such impertinence. This is a man who thinks he is above the law. However the trial goes, he has already made his corruption evident. Fortunately, Russert shows his late father's persistence and fearlessness.

How did an Atlanta CEO end up dead at the hands of a New Jersey cop?

Defarragaymon Black Cafe Network News reports:

The ACLU and gay rights groups in New Jersey are calling for an independent investigation into the shooting death of an Atlanta bank CEO during a raid of a New Jersey park last Friday.

The police say the shooting was a lone officer’s response to being physically threatened; the CEO’s family dispute that claim, and civil liberties groups suspect anti-gay sentiment may have played a factor in the police raid.

DeFarra Gaymon, described in the press as a 48-year-old father of four and the CEO of the Credit Union of Atlanta, was shot and killed by an unnamed police officer in Newark’s Branch Brook Park during an undercover police raid of “public sex” in the park on July 17. Gaymon was shot once in the chest and died in a nearby hospital. He had been attending his 30th high school reunion at nearby Montclair High.

Now the Essex County prosecutor’s office has released the police officer’s account of the events that led up to Gaymon’s death, and the CEO’s family says they’re not buying it.

Garden State Equality has asked the Essex County Sheriff for a meeting on the case. Michael Petrelis blogs about the case (and the general silence from "Gay Inc.") here.

(Photo of DeFarra Gaymon)

Borowitz: USDA offers Sherrod authority over Farmville

Andy Borowitz reports:

In an effort to rectify its treatment of former employee Shirley Sherrod, the USDA today offered Ms. Sherrod an expanded job at the Department of Agriculture, including total authority over Farmville.

With Facebook now claiming over half a billion members worldwide, Ms. Sherrod's new job would mean responsibility for approximately 2.3 trillion imaginary sheep.

This will cut her long drive times. But let's hope Farmville isn't in Baker County.

Why is WaPo publishing Bill Donohue's lies?

Donohue If you want to read the latest lies from Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, you have only to check out the On Faith blog of The Washington Post. In short, he says the Catholic Church's problem is not pedophilia, but homosexuality.

Donohue is forever decrying alleged smears against the Catholic Church, even as he peddles in his own smears against gay people. It's really gay people's fault, he insists. In this he is like the late Richard John Neuhaus of First Things. I addressed all this in 2002. What I'd like to know is why WaPo publishes Donohue's noxious falsehoods. Homophobia, alas, still has mainstream respectability.

(Photo of Bill Donohue)

Robinson: Obama needs to stand up to 'reverse racism' ploy

Eugene_robinson Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post has an excellent commentary on Andrew Breitbart's latest smear:

After the Shirley Sherrod episode, there's no longer any need to mince words: A cynical right-wing propaganda machine is peddling the poisonous fiction that when African Americans or other minorities reach positions of power, they seek some kind of revenge against whites.

A few of the purveyors of this bigoted nonsense might actually believe it. Most of them, however, are merely seeking political gain by inviting white voters to question the motives and good faith of the nation's first African American president. This is really about tearing Barack Obama down....

Before Sherrod, the cause celebre of the "You Must Fear Obama" campaign involved something called the New Black Panther Party. Never heard of it? That's because it's a tiny group that exists mainly in the fevered imaginations of its few members. Also in the alternate reality of Fox News: One of the network's hosts has devoted more than three hours of air time in recent weeks to the grave threat posed by the NBPP. Actually, I suspect that this excess is at least partly an attempt by a relatively obscure anchor to boost her own notoriety.

The Sherrod case has fully exposed the right-wing campaign to use racial fear to destroy Obama's presidency, and I hope the effect is to finally stiffen some spines in the administration. The way to deal with bullies is to confront them, not run away. Yet Sherrod was fired before even being allowed to tell her side of the story. She said the official who carried out the execution explained that she had to resign immediately because the story was going to be on Glenn Beck's show that evening. Ironically, Beck was the only Fox host who, upon hearing the rest of Sherrod's speech, promptly called for her to be reinstated. On Wednesday, Vilsack offered to rehire her.

Shirley Sherrod stuck to her principles and stood her ground. I hope the White House learns a lesson.

Please, White House. Please learn the lesson.

(Photo of Eugene Robinson)

Chait on the conservative pseudojournalist method

Breitbart_0 Jonathan Chait writes at TNR:

Breitbart claims he did not splice the video, and that he obtained it in the misleading, fragmentary form in which he published it. Coincidentally, Breitbart was the victim of the exact same trick. Last year, Breitbart published video purporting to show a man dressed as a pimp soliciting help from Acorn. It turned out, the video was deceptively edited. He dressed as a pimp for the cameras, but wore conservative attire to meet with Acorn. In meeting with Acorn, he presented himself not as a pimp but as a law student trying to rescue his prostitute girlfriend from a pimp. Yet the narrative presented by Breitbart took hold from the outset. When pressed, he claimed here too that he was the victim of deceptive editing.

A similar tactic is at work in the Daily Caller's expose on Journolist. It is the selective presentation of fragments of data, containing multiple factual misstatements, and filtered through the reporter's deceptive analytical take, to present a "discovery" as something wildly at odds with reality. The story takes hold as news because it is, literally, new information. But the information bears no resemblance to what the conservative journalist claims it is. This seems to be the method of the new breed of conservative pseudo-journalists....

There is room for enterprising journalism from conservatives. The problem is that the product of sites like Breitbart's Big Government and the Daily Caller is not journalism but pseudo-journalism. It does not hew to conventional journalistic standards. It is opposition research -- bits of data placed in the most damaging possible context and packaged in such a way as to encourage other reporters or pundits to pick it up and hopefully repeat its analytic thrust.

Now, opposition research can be useful, and it often produces good journalistic leads. But people who do hew to conventional journalistic standards do need to be very cautious when handling pseudo-journalistic stories. You can't assume that the information is being provided in context, or that the interpretive frame bears any relation to reality.

A number of factors play into the hands of people like Breitbart, including the laziness, gullibility, impatience, ambition, and cynicism of journalists, politicians, and the public. Another is political cowardice or lack of nerve, but this translates into lack of trust in the capacity or willingness of readers, viewers, and voters to deal with the truth. Shirley Sherrod's compelling true story — which ironically is getting wide national play only because of Breitbart's smear — offers a glimpse of a better alternative. But yes, pursuing that alternative does require some leadership, some backbone, some nerve. I hope for its sake that the White House even now is summoning those qualities. They are sorely needed if scoundrels are to be kept from profiting by their mischief.

(Photo of Andrew Breitbart)