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156 posts from December 2011

December 31, 2011

Everyone can believe in cookies

Holiday_cookiesThe above headline was the caption on this photo from the Dec. 17th issue of The Economist. A sentiment I share.

(Hat tip: Jim Baxter)

The neighborhood at night, Christmas week 2011

Clouds-580x413
(15th and Corcoran Streets NW on Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:15 pm. Luis Gomez Photos)

(Hat tip: Borderstan)

Kennedy Center Honors 2011 - tribute to Barbara Cook

Barbara Cook is now 84, still singing gloriously after more than half a century of live performance in the theater and on concert stages. Here is the tribute to her from the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors. Seated behind her in the presidential box is her gay son, actor Adam LeGrant.

New's Year's 2012 in Sydney

Fireworks welcomed the new year in Sydney harbor as the world turns toward 2012. Happy New Year, everyone.

Offensive calendar pulled by on-line retailers

SissycalendarThe Advocate reports that Amazon has stopped selling the calendar "I'm Not Gay, I'm Just a Sissy: 12 Months of Sexual Confusion" by 'Christian' cartoonist Joe King.  This follows an earlier decison by Barnes and Noble to pull the item.  The fight started when popular blogger Andy Towle publicized the item on his blog following which over 800 people condemned the item in reviews with many threatening a boycott until Amazon removed it.  The reviews are no longer available on-line.  Joe King taunted his critics on Facebook, in a posting which is also no longer available.

The LGBT community is certainly not unified in this regard.  Many comments on Towleroad said that threatening boycotts on publishers is censorship.  Others point out that he has constitutional right to publish this type of material and that people who object have a constitutional right to make their objections known.   No one is obligated to buy from Amazon if they choose not to do so.  And Amazon has the right to make business decisions it finds in its best interest.  Having only seen the front and back cover of the calendar it is difficult to make out what they say.  Never-the-less, it seems likely that the illustrations are tasteless, unfunny, offensive and have a meanness of spirit.

In his Facebook comment Joe King wrote "Ironic who the real bullies are isn’t it? Let’s see if I get a call from Oprah’s people or even Anderson Cooper."  He would like to equate being called a bigot with being bullied.  To not be called abigot he only needs to stop saying that gay people deserve fewer rights and protections that enable them to live their lives without discriminationi.  The fact that he cannot see this is the log in his eye.  No doubt if he beseeched God this could be removed. This is called "Pray the bigot away".

Baby Pepper

New_year_baby_pepper

George Takei shares this along with the comment, "Getting misty eyed over 2011."

Steam Room Stories

Nothing like a trip to the steam room to heat up a cold, low news day.  Steam Room Stories have a bunch of episodes on YouTube to amuse you.  This is one of the gayer offerings.

December 30, 2011

'The Birds' mystery solved?

Sarah Anne Hughes at WaPo reports on a scientific study that may explain a real-life incident that partly inspired Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 thriller The Birds:

Alfred Hitchcock's “The Birds” has been terrifying audiences for almost 50 years, thanks in part to a real-life event in 1961, when dying seabirds slammed into coastal California homes. (I’m pretty sure no one was actually pecked to near-death by hundreds of deranged gulls, like poor Tippi Hedren.)

The reason for the birds’ erratic behavior has remained a mystery — until now.

Sibel Bargu, one of the authors of a new study published in Nature Geoscience, told USA Today her team believes the birds were poisoned by toxin-producing algae. The researchers looked at the stomach contents of turtles and seabirds gathered in the affected area in 1961 and found toxins that cause nerve damage present in 79 percent of the plankton the creatures had eaten.

The short video below is a droll tribute to Hitchcock by a fan.

More on Andrew Sullivan and Ron Paul

Two weeks ago, Andrew Sullivan said this after endorsing Ron Paul: "I feel the same way about [Ron Paul] on the right in 2012 as I did about Obama in 2008. Both were regarded as having zero chance of being elected."

Kevin Drum responded in Mother Jones:

Who's crazy here, Sullivan or me? I know I have an unusually sucky memory, but "this point in the last cycle" would be December 15, 2007. And no question about it: Hillary Clinton was considered the front-runner and enjoyed a sizable poll lead. But was Obama really not taken seriously? Considered a fringe candidate? Given zero chance of winning? Hated by the Democratic establishment? That's sure not what I remember. I remember an extremely robust primary contest practically from Day 1, with plenty of support for both candidates from both the grassroots and the establishment. Nobody wrote Obama off, nobody claimed an Iowa victory would be meaningless, and nobody treated him as a vanity candidate. Nobody.

Am I missing something here?

No, I don't think so. Andrew enjoys a fight, and bully for him, but his lapse in judgment regarding Ron Paul is an amazing thing to watch. Even after reconsidering his endorsement a few days ago, he is still trading fire on the subject in the blogosphere. He scores some legitimate points against some of the establishment types who are attacking Paul, and Paul himself has made some valid points here and there; but not all of us have been arguing in stark black and white terms. So far, though, I have not seen Andrew explain away Paul's eager embrace of extremely radical right-wing bigots. When you know that someone knows better, but he persists in a misjudgment, at some point you just shake your head.

Kirchick, getting dishy

Jamie Kirchick tweeted this on December 26:

Andrew Sullivan wants to use Ron Paul's OBGYN skills to investigate Sarah Palin's uterus. @sullydish

That's a reference to this sort of thing. I don't know, though. This kind of dishing, when it's just done to be nasty, reminds me of Boys in the Band. Very old-style, bitchy queen. I'm just saying.

Three myths about Ron Paul

Ben Adler has an interesting piece on Ron Paul in The Nation.

Mitt Antoinette calls someone else out of touch

Mitt Romney, in tune at least with the "say anything" GOP, has compared President Obama with Marie Antoinette. Here's the response:

"It is actually laughable that the 'Quarter-Billion-Dollar Man' would call President Obama out of touch -- and use the example of a French monarch to make the point," DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said in a statement to The Huffington Post on Thursday evening. "This is the same guy who joked that he was 'unemployed,' offered a $10,000 bet as casually as one might buy a cup of coffee, and said 'corporations are people.' He's also the same person who, as a former corporate buyout specialist for Bain Capital, made his fortune firing thousands of workers, cutting benefits, bankrupting American companies and outsourcing jobs overseas. He's the one who won't release his tax returns -- most likely because we would all learn that he pays a lower tax rate than middle class wage-earners. Laughable."

2011 in 100 seconds

 

December 29, 2011

Noebel on Obama's "Radical Homosexual Mafia Plan to Sodomize the World"

Right Wing Watch reports:

Summit Ministries founder David Noebel is out with yet another screed against LGBT rights, this time attacking the Obama administration for pushing back against attempts to criminalize and persecute gays and lesbians abroad. “Obama and his radical homosexual mafia plan to sodomize the world and make such perversion seem as wholesome as apple pie and vanilla ice cream,” Noebel writes, “In reality, such perversion cannot be printed in a family publication or broadcast on any FCC regulated TV or radio stations.”

Imagine how the Jesus of the Gospels would react to what is being said and done in his name.

The argument over Ron Paul and gay people

More on Jamie Kirchick's NYT piece on Ron Paul. Among other things, Paul evidently agrees with the 9/11 "Truthers" (who think the U.S. Government or the Mossad were behind the 9/11 attacks) but told supporters he has too much on his plate (such as taking on the Fed) to deal with it.

Dave Weigel in Slate raises a question: Given the anti-gay statements in those newsletters, why aren't gay activists in more of an uproar against them? Dan Savage explains:

Ron may not like gay people, and may not want to hang out with us or use our toilets, but he's content to leave us the fuck alone and recognizes that gay citizens are entitled to the same rights as all other citizens. Santorum, on the other hand, believes that his bigotry must be given the force of law. That's an important difference.

I agree with that, but Andrew Sullivan, who quotes it approvingly, then states, "The attempt by the left and the neocon right to make Paul out to be the real bigot in this race is gob-smacking." Huh? Who said any such thing? Since when can there be only one "real bigot," or person with problematic views or record on racial or sexual minorities, in a given race? As Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:

I think there's an essay to be written about why any accusation of a racial offense is so often reduced to "Are you a racist?" It would be as if my wife said, "You forgot to check Samori's homework" and I responded, "I'm not a bad father."

I wish Andrew would take Ta-Nehisi's point to heart. But Andrew is on a tear against the political establishment's scorn for Ron Paul. He writes:

Hard to beat Michael Medved, for whom Paul's non-interventionism simply cannot compute. Decades of marination in the view that America can do no wrong ever anywhere, means that Medved can simply appeal to what he calls "the mainstream", which, for him, includes those who want to "cure" gay people, deport 11 million illegal immigrants, invade Iran by land or by nukes, turn the US Congress into a part-time endeavor, increase defense spending while slashing entitlements, and reinvigorate the drug war. Yep: that's the mainstream, and Paul is clearly demented to challenge any of it.

I get Andrew on the folly of neocons and social conservatives who scorn Paul; and I am with him in appreciating Paul's opposition to starting a third war against a Muslim country within a decade. But can we please separate the different issues? I understand that Andrew has a running argument with Jamie Kirchick and others over America's Israeli policy, and with the general tendency of people to cry "anti-Semite!" at anyone who raises a critical word in the direction of Jerusalem (btw, I am a longtime supporter of Israel, and was once called a "Righteous Gentile" by Kirchick). But first, Paul's isolationism goes far, far beyond that, and I can't believe that Andrew really believes that the only answer to excessive American interventionism is to go to the opposite extreme; and second, it has nothing to do with Paul's attitudes toward gay people.

"But remind me," Andrew says, "which of all the candidates has refused to sign the anti-gay Marriage Pledge?" It's Ron Paul, of course. Yes, Paul's leave-us-alone libertarianism puts him in a better place on the law as it relates to gay people than Santorum, Perry, or Bachmann. That's not setting the bar very high, but sure — giving people credit where due is one of the keys of effective activism in my view. But let's be fair on both sides of the ledger. For example, Andrew Belonsky today reported that Paul's campaign is suddenly being cagey about the endorsements he has received from right-wing extremists, including Rev. Phillip G. Kayser who advocates the death penalty for homosexuality. The plain reason for the newfound caginess is Paul's eagerness to get those endorsements (thus a reluctance to repudiate people like Rev. Kayser).

Conor Friedersdorf has a critique of Kirchick's post that ends with this excellent observation:

Kirchick is right to hold Paul accountable for his ugly past. Having done so -- and now that Paul and his movement have grown bigger by disavowing that past and running inclusive campaigns against wars, prohibition, and profligate spending -- perhaps Kirchick can continue his critiques of movements that use paranoia and bigotry. I can point him to candidates and ideological warriors fretting about the imposition of sharia law in America, the need for racial profiling in airports, the special oath Muslim appointees should have to take, what needs to happen in Saudi Arabia before Muslim Americans should be allowed to build mosques in New York, the supposedly corrosive effect that gays are going to have on the military, and whether or not they can be "cured."

In the end, the controversy swirling around Ron Paul, thanks to his surge in Iowa, helps gain greater public attention to these issues. And that's more important than the axes that various writers may be grinding. As Mike Rogers is saying right now on The Ed Show, Paul wants the federal government to be weaker so that states can enact things such as Rev. Kayser advocates. The fact that Paul invokes states' rights should be of no more comfort to gay people than the same justification was to slaves a century and a half ago.

Holiday cheer in the bubble

2011-white-house-christmas-grand-foyer[7]
(Photo by Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

My year-end column, which appears only in Boston's Bay Windows, was written two weeks ago as the holiday parties were at their peak:

I put on a red tie decorated with penguins and left for the White House holiday party on Dec. 15, happy to escape reality for a few hours.

After you pass two security checkpoints, you enter a White House adorned with pine garlands and 37 Christmas trees, with a theme of "Shine, Give, Share" to honor military servicemembers and their families. I suppose the President would be called weak on defense if he had chosen the traditional "Peace on earth." That, though, seems appropriate with the Iraq war ending, even as most Republican presidential candidates are competing to see who can sound the most hawkish on the Middle East.

The party-hardened White House staff efficiently restocked the food and drinks in the East Room and State Dining Room. I had roast beef and potato latkes, spiked eggnog, and a Christmas cookie shaped like the First Dog, Bo. Military officers were on hand to explain the decorations and furnishings.

I happily greeted a lesbian servicemember in full dress uniform and her wife. Then I found Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality sitting in a red chair using her iPhone, on which she had a photo of her cute little dog Puffington. We talked about the problem of gay and trans immigrants being sexually assaulted in detention.

You can’t avoid shop talk at a White House reception. The struggles outside the fence intrude even if you leave your electronic devices at home. The military staff, for all their smiles and smart dress, remind us of the thousands who remain far from home during a season that calls us to gather scattered family members together.

While we waited for the First Couple to arrive....

Read the whole thing here.

Here's wishing everyone a happy and productive 2012.

WH_buffet-1
(Photo by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama)

GLAA officers for 2012

Greetings from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.
www.glaa.org
www.glaaforum.org (blog)
www.DCGayEtc.com (news aggregator)


Friends,

The following officers were elected for 2012 at GLAA's regular meeting on December 13, 2011:

President: Miguel Tuason
Vice President for Political Affairs: Rick Rosendall
Vice President for Administration: Kevin Davis
Secretary: Alison Gardner
Treasurer: Gary Collins

Congratulations and thanks to these volunteers, whose terms begin on January 1. Brief bios of our 2012 officers can be found online at:
http://www.glaa.org/officers.shtml

Many thanks to outgoing president Mitch Wood, who kept us on a steady keel through three terms that saw our greatest achievement — the enactment of civil marriage equality in D.C. — and a renewal of our longstanding commitment to working in coalitions, not to mention the rollout of our latest policy brief, "Agenda: 2012," online now at:
http://www.tinyurl.com/glaa2012pdf
News release at:
http://www.tinyurl.com/glaa2012rel

We look forward to working with you in the new year to keep our city at the forefront of the fight for LGBT equality.

Best,

Rick Rosendall

Ron Paul's paranoid, conspiracy-bound world view

Ron-paul-gopJamie Kirchick, who exposed Ron Paul's bigoted newsletters four years ago in The New Republic, has an excellent piece in The New York Times on Paul's conspiracy mongering:

[T]here is one major aspect of the newsletters, no less disturbing than their racist content, that has always been present in Paul’s rhetoric, in every forum: a penchant for conspiracy theories....

Paul [told] the Times Magazine in 2007, “I have a lot of friends in the John Birch Society. They’re generally well educated, and they understand the Constitution.” In 1998, Paul appeared in a Birch Society documentary which lauded a bill he had introduced to force American withdrawal from the United Nations. With ominous music in the background and images of United Nations peacekeepers patrolling deserted streets, the film warned that the world body would destroy American private property rights, replace the Constitution with the United Nations Charter and burn churches to the ground.

... In a 2006 column published on the Web site of Lew Rockwell (his former Congressional chief of staff and the man widely suspected of being the ghostwriter of the newsletters, although he denied it to me), Paul addressed the alleged “Nafta Superhighway.” This is a system of pre-existing and proposed roads from Mexico to Canada that conspiracy theorists claim is part of a nefarious transnational attempt to open America’s borders and merge the United States with its neighbors into a supra-national entity ... which Paul said “would represent another step toward the abolition of national sovereignty altogether.”

In his newsletters, Paul expressed support for far-right militia movements, which at the time saw validation for their extreme, anti-government beliefs in events like the F.B.I. assault on the Branch Davidians and at Ruby Ridge. Paul was eager to fan their paranoia and portray himself as the one man capable of doing anything about it politically....

Finally, there’s Paul’s stance on the most pervasive conspiracy theory in America today, the idea that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were perpetrated not by Al Qaeda, but by the federal government or some other shadowy force.

Read the whole thing. The enduring nature of the 9/11 conspiracy theories (GWB was behind it, or the Mossad) makes Paul's candidacy useful in my view. It is easier to combat something that shows itself. When the crazy stuff emerges from the fringes to center stage, that gives us a chance to engage more people in confronting it. Jamie's NYT article, and the examination of Ron Paul's disturbing old newsletters, demonstrates this. Paul's surge in Iowa has brought scrutiny without which it would have been easier for the mainstream media to portray him as an amusingly eccentric small-government, anti-war conservative. In fact, as Jamie concludes, "Ron Paul is a paranoid conspiracy theorist who regularly imputes the worst possible motives to the very government he wants to lead."

Yes. If he were on the political left, Paul would be accused of hating America and his crazy views called treasonous or close to treasonous. The only reason his crazy views are not regarded as a threat is that so many people dismiss him as a joke. The better he does in the Republican primaries, the more he helps Democrats turn the tables on the true radicals in this country, who are on the far right and not in the White House. Keeping them out of the White House is part of what the coming election is about.

Be on the right side of history

Pink news reports that the US State Department has released a video of the speech given to a United Nations summit in Geneva by Hillary Clinton earlier this month.  Extracts from the speech have been set to music with a montage of images of gay couples, and pro-gay demonstrations from around the world.

The speech was following President Obama’s memorandum earlier this month which instructed government agencies for the first time to consider gay rights when deciding aid and asylum cases, to combat criminalization, protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, and ensure “swift and meaningful” reactions to human rights abuses.

December 28, 2011

About those North Korean mourners

Our friend Ester Goldberg mocks the choreographed wailing of Kim Jong-il's mourners in North Korea. I myself commented on Facebook, "They were all told that whoever looks the most grief-stricken will get dinner."

I wonder, though, if some of the grief might be real. Given the context of a brutally repressive police state topped by a cult of personality, it would be surprising if there were no Stockholm Syndrome dimension to the funeral observances. To paraphrase William Faulkner, "She clung to that which had robbed her, as people will." But all that means is that decades with Kim's and his father's boots on their necks have immeasurably damaged the people of that country, with the assistance of subsidies from China. It's an interesting model of foreign aid — designed not to raise people up but to hold them down.

Not that we should be surprised. Countries give foreign aid based on their own perceived self-interest. Sometimes that prompts them to perpetuate conflict or dysfunction in other states. It takes a lot of trouble, and help, to destroy a country as thoroughly as this one has been. The satellite photo of the Korean peninsula at night, with the borders outlined, shows the impoverished North Korea is a sea of darkness. One can glibly say that they simply don't believe in wasting energy and causing light pollution, but that is not it. Where there is freedom and thriving commerce and flourishing culture, there is light. None there.

Northkorea-at-night

Gay and Lesbian couples pay thousands more in taxes, study says

HuffPo reports on an unsurprising consequence of marriage inequality.

Far-right rabbis denounce Romney as a "Dangerous Homosexualist"

Notorious radical-right Rabbi Yehuda Levin has this to say about Mitt Romney:

At a special Chanukah conclave, The Rabbinical Alliance of America, a 70 year old organization of over 850 Orthodox Jewish Rabbis in the United States and Canada, serving approximately one half-million religious Jews, has condemned the decades long pro-homosexual record of former Governor Mitt Romney.

Spokesman Rabbi Yehuda Levin declared that "Chanukah commemorates the defeat of the Syrian Greek efforts to impose their pagan culture on the Jewish people. The Jews rejected the intergenerational homosexual activity which was a prominent aspect of the Syrian Greek culture. While our organization does not make any endorsements of political candidates, in view of the disastrous national decline in morality, we are compelled to condemn Mitt Romney's support and promotion of the immoral homosexual lifestyle and agenda.... Governor Romney over a long political career has earned the title: 'Dangerous Homosexualist'-one who constantly advances the militant anti-religious, anti-society, immoral homosexual agenda to the detriment of family people....

Furthermore, religious people should realize that the increasing homosexualization of society increases the likelihood of Sanduski-like child abuse. Craven politicians like Mitt Romney should not be empowered to destroy the moral fiber of our country. They must be held accountable, RIGHT NOW!"

This should help Romney in the general election if he makes it past the wingnuts voting in the Republican primaries.

Eddie Long's Christian school closes

Bishop_long_bush

The Christian Post reports:

New Birth Christian Academy, a school affiliated with Bishop Eddie Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, sent a letter to parents saying that the school would not continue with classes after the Christmas break.

With the 18-year-old academy closing, over 200 students will find themselves without a school....

Although the school denies any connection between the decision to close and the many recent scandals connected to Eddie Long, some parents are skeptical.

“I don’t believe that. I believe that this last straw with the divorce, the sealed settlement, it just does not look good,” said one parent to WSB TV Channel 2.

All those people who were enablers for so long finally realized they'd been had. I am reminded of a scene at the end of the great 1955 film Night of the Hunter, concerning another predator who thrives for a time on the gullibility of others. There's nothing like the fury of a person who's been played the fool. Call it rough justice.

BTW, check out this thoughtful article by Anthea Butler in September 2010 on why the "Eddie Long Case Should Mark the End of Black Church Homophobia."

Gingrich blames Virginia debacle on campaign worker fraud

Newt-gingrichCNN reports.

Here is what Gingrich told Sean Hannity a few weeks back, after saying President Obama is both incompetent and radical:

You can either be incompetent or radical, but if you're both incompetent and radical it's probably more than the system can bear.

Rick Perry annexes Canada

Rick_perryHere's Rick Perry's latest:

“Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil we don’t have to buy from a foreign source,” Perry told a campaign stop in Clarinda, Iowa.

Rick Perry for President. Get in touch with your inner nitwit.

25 years ago today: Terry Dolan died

Jim Burroway at BTB writes:

Terry-Dolan-200x293

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Closeted Anti-Gay Activist Dies of AIDS:
1986. Terry Dolan, who helped to found the National Conservative Political Action Committee, was pretty well known in elite gay circles. According to Randy Schilts’s And the Band Played On, when playwright Larry Kramer recognized him at a Washington, D.C. cocktail party, he walked up to Dolan and threw a drink is his face. “How dare you come here?” he shouted. “You take the best from our world and then do all those hateful things against us. You should be ashamed.” Among those awful things was sending out fundraising letters for NCPAC, which claimed that “Our nation’s moral fiber is being weakened by the growing homosexual movement and the fanatical E.R.A. pushers (many of whom publicly brag they are lesbians).” Meanwhile, Dolan had, at the time of that 1984 encounter with Kramer, had just ended an affair with a male epidemiologist at the New York City Health Department, and was then enjoying everything the gay social scene had to offer.

Terry Dolan was closeted (he couldn’t have been open without suffering right-wing banishment), but as is often the case, it was an open secret in the gay community. He went to gay bars in DC, including the Eagle, and he cruised me a few times when we passed each other on the sidewalk on 17th Street in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Perry Deane Young's 1982 book “God’s Bullies” described a gay sexual liaison Dolan had with Richard Anderson, an information specialist at the Library of Congress. But mainstream news organizations, even more than they do now, treated the practice of "outing" as unseemly and avoided covering such efforts.

One small act of decency I remember of Dolan’s was defending Robert Bauman from an effort to remove him from the board of a right-wing organization after Bauman’s gay-hustler scandal ended his congressional career in 1980. I do not remember if the organization in question was NCPAC, YAF, or the American Conservative Union. While both men’s consorting with the anti-gay right was despicable, Dolan appeared to have a pang of conscience and resisted doing the obvious thing in response to Bauman’s scandal, which would have been to throw him overboard. (Note: I said it was a small act of decency. I am not suggesting that it would get Mr. Dolan out of hell. Not that I believe in hell either.)

Update: I meant to type "25 years ago today," but somehow typed 26. I have corrected the headline.

Marriage equality year in review

Matt Baume of AFER reviews the progress made in 2011.

Gingrich trashes Ron Paul

Jonathan Capehart finds himself in rare agreement with Newt Gingrich, and in this case I agree with him. I hasten to add that I don't think Gingrich would be any better a choice for President; but his plummeting poll numbers make that pretty much an idle concern at this point.

Surprise: President Obama's position on Morning After Pill doesn't prevent another Bachmann lie

Christina Wilkie at HuffPo reports:

"The president can put abortion pills for girls 8 years of age, 11 years of age, on the bubblegum aisle," Bachmann continued, apparently in reference to a recommendation by the FDA that the morning after pill be available over the counter, which both the administration and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently rejected.

This is what the President gets for his pandering. Just thought I'd mention.

GOP candidates compete in supporting "Personhood" amendment

HuffPo reports on the spectacle of Republican presidential candidates trying to outdo one another in their support for efforts to define fertilized eggs as persons. Basically, if you think that's a fine idea but suggest that legal personhood should begin only after successful attachment to the uterine wall, you are a baby killer. The fact that such an extreme position was rejected even by the voters of Mississippi does not deter these candidates from pandering to the most extreme wing of the GOP base, which is to say Republican primary voters in Iowa.

Meanwhile, Ron Paul still leads in Iowa (surprise: his far-right supporters are not troubled by revelations of his far-right associations), and Rick Perry tops the Republican field on the EMILY's list scorecard.

Update: According to this, the story on Ron Paul's bigoted old newsletters isn't even hurting him on the left. Go figure.

Was Dick Nixon gay?

Nixon_and_rebozoThe Daily Mail reports:

A new biography by Don Fulsom, a veteran Washington reporter who covered the Nixon years, suggests the 37th U.S. President had a serious drink problem, beat his wife and — by the time he was inaugurated in 1969 — had links going back two decades to the Mafia, including with New Orleans godfather Carlos Marcello, then America's most powerful mobster.

Yet the most extraordinary claim is that the homophobic Nixon may have been gay himself. If true, it would provide a fascinating insight into the motivation and behaviour of a notoriously secretive politician.

Fulsom argues that Nixon may have had an affair with his best friend and confidant, a Mafia‑connected Florida wheeler-dealer named Charles 'Bebe' Rebozo who was even more crooked than Nixon.

I suppose that as long as some gay people insist on validating themselves by recruiting various historical figures into the gay pantheon, we shouldn't complain about the prospect of being saddled with a disreputable person like Richard Nixon.

Sedaris on other countries' silly Christmas traditions

John Aravosis shares a set of three videos of David Sedaris getting a great deal of comic mileage by simply describing the Dutch version of St. Nick. What he fails to mention is that, judging by the photos used in the video, the "six to eight black men" who traditionally accompany the Dutch version of St. Nick on his illicit house visits appear to be white guys in blackface. Okayyyyyy, so that takes us to America circa 1927. (Or Whoopie Goldberg and Ted Danson in 1993, but let's be charitable and try to forget that one.)

According to the Dutch, St. Nick is also the former bishop of Turkey, is much thinner than America's fat and jolly version, and might beat and kidnap a child rather than stuff its shoes with gifts. (Wouldn't you prefer a lump of coal?) Sedaris points out that, lest you find this version of Christmas distasteful, the Dutch sweeten the deal with legalized drugs and prostitution, so what's not to love about the Dutch? Actually, I'm not so sure about the answer to that breezy question. I just found out from my enterprising niece Missy that she and I are descended from someone named Nieuwenhuize from the southern Dutch town of Roosendaal. A Miss Nieuwenhuize sometime in the latter part of the 19th century married a guy named Janse. I've lost track of whether it was they or their progeny who emigrated to America, but I don't think it reasonable to flatter myself by assuming that the journey was motivated purely by adventurous spirits.

What I want to know is, were my Dutch ancestors fleeing something? Was it, for example, an arrest warrant, or (I speculate with Ron Paul's rants ringing in my ears) stifling government regulation? Clearly, I'll have to get Missy to continue her investigations. After all, the Dutch may seem peaceful and tolerant enough today, but let's remember that those bloody Boers in South Africa are descended from the Dutch; and Holland's colonial past (along with that of the Americans, British, Russians, and French) is enshrined by Stephen Sondheim in Pacific Overtures in his historically accurate "Please Hello." In short, if the Dutch Christmas tradition bears whiffs of racism, trust your nose.

A guy who really enjoys his workout

Ulisses_williamsRon Buckmire thoughtfully shares this eye candy of bodybuilder Ulisses Williams, Jr. He writes:

Ulisses Williams, Jr. is a 34-year-old natural bodybuilder of West Indian and West African descent (according to Black Flex) who lives and works in New York City.

More shots of Mr. Williams here. But if you run into him on the street, please restrain yourself. He's obviously terribly shy.

December 27, 2011

93-Year-Old Tennessee Woman Who Cleaned State Capitol For 30 Years Denied Voter ID

Marie Diamond at Think Progress reports:

A 93-year-old Tennessee woman who cleaned the state Capitol for 30 years, including the governor’s office, says she won’t be able to vote for the first time in decades after being told this week that her old state ID failed to meet new voter ID regulations.

Thelma Mitchell was even accused of being an undocumented immigrant because she couldn’t produce a birth certificate....

A spokesman for the House Republican Caucus insisted that Mitchell was given bad information and should’ve been allowed to vote, even with an expired state ID. But even if that’s the case, her ordeal illustrates the inevitable disenfranchisements that result when confusing voting laws enable state officials to apply the law inconsistently.

The incident is the just latest in a series of reports of senior citizens being denied their constitutional right to vote under restrictive new voter ID laws pushed by Republican governors and legislatures. These laws are a transparent attempt to target Democrat constituencies who are less likely to have photo ID’s, and disproportionately affect seniors, college students, the poor and minorities.

The outrage this disenfranchisement commits against fundamental American principles is beyond words. To express my sentiments, here is tenor George Ingram:

The 2011 Kennedy Center Honorees at the White House

The 2011 Kennedy Center Honors will be broadcast tonight at 9 EST on CBS. As this video shows, the honorees — Yo Yo Ma, Meryl Streep, Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond and Sonny Rollins — were honored at the White House prior to the awards show, which was taped earlier in December.

Zach & Donald: Baby, it's cold outside

Here's a holiday video from Zach Braff and Donald Faison, the bromancing co-stars of Scrubs, the TV medical comedy-drama that ran from 2001 to 2010. They are straight but very gay-friendly, as is clear by the time Donald tells Zach that his lips look delicious. Speaking of delicious, I have a thing for Mr. Faison, so I appreciate Adam Polaski at Bilerico for sharing this charming video. Braff, btw, turns out to be a pretty good crooner.

Update: In the comments, Craig Howell suggests that the version of this song on "Glee" out-charms this one. Oh, please! There's no disputing in matters of taste, but I thought I would get hyperglycemia from watching the "Glee" version. You can have your silly twinks, and I'll take Donald Faison.

BTB: Ron Paul’s Iowa state director is also a leading anti-gay extremist

Jim Burroway reports at Box Turtle Bulletin (via Warren Throckmorten):

This guy: Michael Heath. He’s the former director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, who resigned in 2009 because he was too much of a “lightning rod” when anti-gay activists began gearing up to repeal the recently-passed marriage equality bill. In 2008, Heath had blamed the economic crisis on “America’s sinful sexual culture, including the acceptance of gay unions.” In 2010, Peter LaBarbera announced that Heath would serve as board chairman for LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, just one of a small handful of groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. Last September, he joined the Ron Paul campaign in Iowa as that state’s director.

Ron Paul's bigoted right-wing associations are not likely to hurt him with the Republican primary voters in Iowa. But of course the 2012 campaign does not end there.

Being gay is a gift from God

We need more ministers like this one. Our friend Alan Sharpe (a GLAA Distinguished Service Award recipient) shares this clip from Oprah. It makes a fine year-end message.

Newt Gingrich, defender of religious freedom. Really?

Newt Gingrich, that fearless defender of the nation and little babies, announces that if elected President he will issue an executive order establishing a commission on religious freedom. Which is to say that he will launch the final battle to end the war on religion by the liberal secularists who are ruining America. Of course everything he says is a lie, but set that aside, Why would liberals need to destroy religion when the fundamentalists are doing such a good job of it themselves?

As Newt sees it, any respectful mention of the existence of gay people constitutes forcibly imposing a pro-gay religion on God-fearing, homo-hating Christians. In other words, ending anti-gay discrimination is itself a form of religious tyranny. The radical religious right feels trampled if it is not allowed to trample everyone else. This is the rabbit hole Newt would drag the country down.

My question is this: if rescuing that Old-Time Religion requires the White House to be occupied by a man with a First, Second, and Third Lady, isn't it already too late to rescue? I mean, Newt Gingrich as Defender of the Faith? Really?

That is the one-word response I think the Democrats should use to answer Republican candidates, attacks, and proposals in 2012: "Really?" Just recite the catalog of outrageous lies, loony candidates and reckless proposals, and end with President Obama calmly looking into the camera and saying, "Really?"

Newt trotted out his religious-freedom rhetoric at a presidential debate in November; see the clip above. Newt decries what he calls "the use of government to repress the American people," which overlooks the fact that most Americans do not share his views (or at least the views he is expressing, since it's hard to know what this unscrupulous man actually believes, if anything). Of course, if you disagree with Newt you're not American. The "wall of separation between Church & State," a phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson 210 years ago this Sunday in his letter to the Danbury Baptists to describe the protections of the First Amendment, is what Gingrich actually is calling "a mortal threat to our civilization." Newt's proposed fix is like "Team America" destroying Paris to save it from the terrorists. But it appears the republic is strong enough to withstand the threat posed by the former Speaker. At the moment he has been reduced to attacking Virginia for its primary rules that prohibit write-ins — which is to say that the rules should be changed for his benefit after his failure to do the basics of campaign organizing.

December 26, 2011

Christmas on the Unicorn Planet

Perhaps I am a day late with this.