1084 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

November 25, 2014

Remembering Marion Barry

MV5BMTU4MjkyMTM3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjk2MzY3Mg@@._V1_SX640_SY720_
(Still from The Nine Lives of Marion Barry)

I have known Marion Barry since the early 1980s, and he was always courteous to me, even twenty years ago on election day when he arrived at Precinct 15 and I was standing outside wearing a Carol Schwartz campaign shirt. Indeed, he came right for me, all smiles. That was always one of his more charming qualities.

After his death early Sunday at age 78, I received requests for comment from several journalists. I was under the weather all day and did not send them my thoughts until Monday morning. Since I missed the news cycle, here are my comments.

In many ways Marion Barry resembled Bill Clinton: smart, politically astute, charming, and with a phenomenal memory. He didn’t just remember people’s names, he remembered their pets and what ailed them. People who disliked him used to dismiss his talents, which was a big mistake. He was the smartest politician in hometown D.C.

In his early years as mayor, before his addictions got the better of him, he appointed more gay officials than any mayor in the country. I remember him announcing the birth of his son Christopher from the stage at Gay Pride. He was an ally of the LGBT community throughout his mayoral years.

I was greatly disappointed when he opposed marriage equality, and said “Shame on you” to him after he led a chant (3:30 on the clip) at an anti-gay rally in Freedom Plaza in the spring of 2009. He replied, “I supported you on everything else.” That did not mollify me, but it was noteworthy that he and the only other “no” vote on marriage, Ward 7 councilmember Yvette Alexander, touted their pro-gay credentials from the dais rather than launching into anti-gay screeds. They were voting with their constituents; but they still, implausible as it seemed, were eager not to be thought anti-gay. That was a tribute to how far the LGBT community had come.

People are calling this the end of an era, but the Barry era really ended 16 years ago when Anthony Williams was elected mayor. After that, Marion was still a force in Ward 8, but not citywide. In recent years he could barely walk, but his mind was still sharp. I was still pleasant with him despite the harm he did to the city, because it cost me nothing and he was still one of our 13 councilmembers. He was a charmer to the end (when he wasn’t trash talking), and enjoyed reminiscing about past battles when he was on our side. It was clear that he would be re-elected in Ward 8 as long as he lived; now the question is when his constituents, so devoted to him, will move on.

November 22, 2014

The five craziest conservative reactions to Obama on immigration

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports. The right wing is losing it.

Regarding healthcare before Obamacare

Moral courage in the face of hatred

November 21, 2014

Trump, unclear about his antecedents

Nikki Giovanni on Bill Cosby, 2007

Leigh Davenport at HelloBeautiful writes:

Rewind back to 2007 when Bill Cosby had just commenced his nationwide tour of telling poor Black America to pull themselves up by their baggy jeans and get themselves together. Black America was unsettled by what seemed to be a never ending crusade waged by America’s favorite Jell-O pudding eating dad and fierce debates were launched on cable talk shows and around the web (yes, the internet was around back then) as many notable figures called Cosby out for being elitist and out of touch....

Now ... imagine heading down to Miami to attend the International Book Fair and take in a lecture from the always enchantingly “honest” writer, poet and scholar Nikki Giovanni and getting a completely unprompted rant on Bill Cosby and his antics.

Dear Mr. Speaker

'We were strangers once, too'

President Obama gave one of his finest speeches last night in announcing his executive action on immigration. Here is my favorite passage:

Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger -- we were strangers once, too. My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.

My friend Walter Dellinger, who was head of the Office of Legal Counsel from 1993 to 1996, explains in Slate that the President is on solid legal ground:

The idea that the immigration plan just announced by President Obama is a lawless power grab is absurd. As the Justice Department legal analysis that was just released amply demonstrates, much of the advance criticism of the president’s action has been uninformed and unwarranted. The opinion is well-reasoned and at times even conservative. The president is not acting unilaterally, but pursuant to his statutory authority. Wide discretion over deportation priorities has long been conferred on the executive branch by Congress, and it is being exercised in this case consistent with policies such as family unification that have been endorsed by Congress.

Dellinger's whole piece bears reading. Thank you and bravo, Mr. President.

November 20, 2014

Trans women tell GLAAD their experiences

In honor of Trans Awareness Week and the Transgender Day of Remembrance, our friends at GLAAD have released this video.

#SCOTUS denies stay in South Carolina marriage case

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014

TDOR_2014

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is being observed today around the world, as we can see in the photo above tweeted by Pepe Julian Onziema in Uganda. The observance in Washington, D.C. is at the Metropolitan Community Church at 474 Ridge St NW. Here's the description from the Facebook event page:

Doors Open at 6:00 PM - Program will start closer to 7:00 PM

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

According to The Transgender Day of Remembrance Website:

"The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn't perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who've died by anti-transgender violence."

November 19, 2014

President Obama previews primetime immigration address

More from the Associated Press.

Earl Fowlkes elected Stein Club president

Vince_Gray_and_Earl_Fowlkes_Jr_insert_c_Washington_Blade_by_Michael_Key
(Earl Fowlkes, right, in Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Lou Chibbaro at the Blade reports that Earl Fowlkes has been elected president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club.

Earl received GLAA's Distinguished Service Award this past April. Here is his citation. Congrats to him and the other Stein officers for 2015.

Slackers at the Chalkboard

Ted_Cruz_insert_c_Washington_Blade_by_Lee_Whitman
(Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

My post-election column is now up at the Blade. If you're dreading the holidays and could use a booster shot of snark, this could be just the thing. Here's an excerpt:

With Republicans winning the Senate and Obamacare on the run, a new Era of Good Feeling is surely around the corner. Vote suppression, gerrymandering, and truckloads of secret cash are just another way of saying, "The people have spoken!" Someone please turn this into lyrics for a new Christmas carol.

The best hope for Democrats is Republican overreach. By that I do not mean your right-wing uncle getting gravy on his sweater as he reaches across the table at Thanksgiving. I mean unhinged recklessness driven by hubris and Obama hatred. Profits are up, unemployment and deficits are down -- get that Muslim socialist out of the White House before he ruins us!

Republicans are furious at the President's unrepentant attitude, despite their own intransigence after past losses. Elections must have consequences when Republicans win. Talk of government shutdowns and impeachment is rising. But President Obama has little to lose by picking fights (by which I mean being president, black, and doing anything). If you abuse someone no matter what he does, he might as well stand his ground. That is what our 44th president, at long last, appears to be doing.

Read the whole thing here.

Solomon: Progressives looking for answers from marriage movement

Chris Johnson at the Blade talks to Freedom to Marry's Marc Solomon.

SC AG asks Chief Justice Roberts for stay of 4th Circuit marriage ruling

November 18, 2014

Donnie Swaggart says gay rights activists want to behead Christians

Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch reports the latest from the unhinged religious right. It would appear to be a simple case of projection by Mr. Swaggart.

Pope welcomes anti-gay activists at Vatican conference on traditional marriage

Francis-pope-humanum
(Photo courtesy The Independent)

The New Civil Rights Movement provides a long list of anti-gay obsessives who attended the Vatican conference on traditional marriage, and quotes this:

"We know that today marriage and the family are in crisis," the Pope told his very-willing audience. "This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable."

"We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment."

"Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion. Family is an anthropological fact – a socially and culturally related fact."

Temporary? I have remained committed to my foreign partner for 13 years despite many barriers to our happiness. The complementarity nonsense was refuted centuries before Christ by Plato. In pastoral terms, this conference with so many anti-gay fanatics is I think the first wrong step ‪#‎Pontifex‬ has made in his public ministry. As someone observed, he is talking about us when he should be talking with us.

The Independent also reports.

I have previously counseled caution. The Pope's pastoral instincts are admirable, but he has shown no sign of intending to change Catholic doctrine regarding gay people, women's vocations to the priesthood, or contraception.

David Brooks on 'Obama in Winter'

110705_brooks_bloggers_nbc_328
(Photo courtesy NBC)

Check out the blind privilege, arrogance, and partisan obtuseness in this op-ed. One brief quote cannot do it justice, so just have a look.

My comment to David Brooks: A bipartisan immigration bill from the Senate is on Boehner's desk, but he refuses to allow a vote. The GOP's wall-to-wall obstruction and willingness to harm the country in pursuit of power entirely escape your notice, but Obama's a failure? You are contemptible.

Luke Brinker at Salon gives Brooks a drubbing.

My column this week looks at the President and the Republicans. I will post here as soon as it goes online at the Blade.

'Dress for the job you have, not the job you want'

John_Oliver_the_job_you_have

What Mr. Oliver said. BTW, I want to meet the young man in that iconic August photo from Ferguson and tell him how awesome he is. He became John Lewis, Hosea Williams, and six hundred marchers in Selma, right there on W. Florissant. Awesome courage. And thank goodness photojournalists were there, also risking their lives to bring us the story.

November 17, 2014

Michael Sam, GQ Men of the Year coverman

GQ_Michael_Sam

Congrats to Michael Sam for making the cover of GQ's Men of the Year issue. Now when will someone let this athlete's athlete with guts, spirit, talent and discipline play pro football?

November 14, 2014

The implications of PrEP

New York Magazine has an interesting article on the debate over Truvada.

Williams Institute study: Global acceptance rising

A busy week for marriage equality

Multiple developments this week on marriage equality. Above, victory in Kansas. Below, developments in MS and SC.

The Clarion-Ledger on marriage in Mississippi:
Analysis: Judge likely will overturn gay marriage ban

Reuters:
Gay marriage advocates get victories in Kansas, South Carolina

Meanwhile, Justice Thomas weighs in.

Onziema honored in UK

Congrats to our friend Pepe Julian Onziema on his Hero of the Year award from Stonewall UK. A well-deserved honor for an extraordinary man.

Obama’s Unexpectedly Good Week

An interesting look at how the President has responded to the midterm defeat: by continuing to do his job, and doing rather well.

Who are the real thugs?

Uganda's new anti-gay bill

Kapya_Kaoma

Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, a pro-gay ally in Uganda who was featured in the 2013 documentary film God Loves Uganda, writes at Political Research Associates:

Reports of the new anti-gay bill—“Prohibition of the Promotion of Unnatural Sexual Practices Bill of 2014” being considered in Uganda have caught the world unaware. Supporters of Uganda’s LGBTQ community had hoped that the Uganda court’s striking down of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA, formerly known as the “Kill the Gays Bill”), as well as president Yoweri Museveni’s subsequent meetings with President Obama at the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, had buried the tide of anti-LGBTQ persecution in Uganda. But, then the news came—the new bill is in the pipeline. Unlike the “Kill the Gays” proposal, this new potential law is a virtual copy of the recently-passed anti-gay laws in Russia and Nigeria banning recruiting into, or “promotion” of homosexuality—all guided by U.S. exporters of homophobia and sexism.

The new proposed law is a response to international outrage to both the death penalty and life imprisonment for homosexuality previously proposed by the country’s parliament. By tailoring down the punishment for being an LGBTQ person to 5-7 years imprisonment, the authors hope to appear more moderate and assuage some of the international outrage of their treatment of sexual minorities.

But while this new proposal is sure to draw continued (and deserved) international headlines, the Western world’s near-exclusive focus on Uganda, while ignoring identical legislation in countries like Nigeria, have left the African social justice community vulnerable to anti-gay activists....

Local LGBTQ organizations that are on the ground and working day and night to educate and change hearts throughout Africa are fully capable of turning this trend around, if only the spigot of U.S.-based anti-LGBTQ and anti-women money, resources, and talking points were turned off.

Republicans and the burden of power

A blogger at Addicting Info looks at the challenge the obstructionist GOP will face as it takes over the U.S. Senate:

Shooting spitballs from the back of the class at the smart kids doesn’t require much effort. Standing at the front of the class and solving problems requires both brains and discipline....

The writer doesn't think the Republicans in Congress have the brains and discipline. I don't like to underestimate my adversaries. We shall see what they are capable of. But come January, it will be time for them to stand and deliver.

November 12, 2014

Science vs. Know-Nothingism

20141112-comet-hp-slide-1LNN-jumbo

Lay these two news items side by side: The European Space Agency today landed a space probe on a comet. Meanwhile in America, Sen. Ted Cruz appears set to become chair of the Subcommittee on Science and Space. We can either fight the Know-Nothings, or consider moving to Darmstadt.

November 08, 2014

Pastor calls Obama communist ‘bastard’ with ‘whore’ mother

Valerie Beaumont at Addicting Info reports on the latest anti-Obama slander by Pastor Stephen J. Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church, who (you might say) takes the Christ out of Christianity.

Judge Sutton's desperate effort to hold back the marriage equality tide

110630_jeffrey_sutton_605_ap
(Photo of Judge Jeffrey Sutton by Associated Press)

Jay Michaelson at The Daily Beast looks at the ruling by Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton upholding gay marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

One of Sutton's arguments, designed to establish a rational basis for preventing gay couples from marrying, is the so-called natural law argument, which says that we are violating "nature's laws." As I have said before, natural law is merely religion in pseudo-scientific drag, cooked up by people who haven't the slightest understanding or respect for the scientific method. It amounts to a more polite rephrasing of the great line by playwright Christopher Durang's Sister Mary Ignatius, "You do the thing that makes Jesus puke." Instead of studying what nature has actually produced in all its diversity, they try to dictate to nature to stay within their comfortable boxes. Or, if you will, instead of studying God's creation, they tell God what to do. It's both bad science and presumptuous religion.

Sutton, by the way, is a respected conservative jurist. But as for those who say that the Sixth Circuit ruling sets back the cause of marriage equality, that is only true if you ignore the fact that this almost certainly propels the issue of marriage equality back to the Supreme Court of the United States, by creating a conflict among the federal circuit courts. That's less like losing and more like luring your enemy into a trap. Not that I am calling marriage opponents my enemies. We are all loyal Americans with an honest disagreement. If you ignore our opponents' endless lies and slanders, that is.

Fischer: God kicked Native Americans off their land as punishment for sins

If you had any doubts that the brand of religion practiced by the likes of AFA's Bryan Fischer is a conglomeration of the worst human impulses, check out his vile comments in this video.

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)

Five crazy conspiracy theories the freshman GOP class will bring to Congress

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports on five conspiracy theories touted by incoming Republican members of Congress, concerning a sustainable development project, ISIS, blood moons, gay recruitment of children, and Hillary Clinton as the Antichrist:

It turns out that by branding themselves as members of a party that has returned to its mainstream, center-right roots after successfully stamping out a Tea Party rebellion, even “establishment” Republican candidates are able to hold all sorts of extreme views without any consequences.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that a party that regularly endorses candidates who deny climate science and denounce evolution has moved the political center so far to the right that even candidates with radical views can still be treated as moderates. These days, Republicans win kudos simply for stating that they don’t want to ban birth control or destroy the economy by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.

This dynamic has allowed any number of conspiracy theories to flourish in the GOP.

Gorillas in the Crossfire

NYT writes:

A national park ranger in the Democratic Republic of Congo struggles to protect gorillas from a brutal civil war.

How anyone could bear to harm such wonderful creatures I do not understand. But then the same applies to the children that are seen in the film. Unending war in this beautiful land harms both. Those who protect them are heroes.

November 07, 2014

Sixth Circuit ruling against marriage equality sets up #SCOTUS review

Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed reports here and here.

Federal judge strikes down Missouri ban on same-sex marriage

Metro Weekly reports.

Richard Land Calls For 'A Two Year Moratorium On Any Confirmation Of Federal Judges'

Because they're all about governing.

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)

Nutso pastor says Starbucks uses semen to flavor lattes

Harlem-pastor-James-David-Manning-YouTube-800x430
(Harlem pastor James David Manning, via YouTube)

Pastor Manning just wants the job himself.

#‎Pointergate

Possibly the most racist news story of 2014.