(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
Michael K. Lavers at the Blade reports. President Obama has endorsed Secretary Carter's statement.
Michael K. Lavers at the Blade reports. President Obama has endorsed Secretary Carter's statement.
My latest column, now online at the Washington Blade, looks at the controversy over President Obama's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. Here's an excerpt:
At its best, faith challenges us to reflect on how far our actions have strayed from the standards we profess. The Christian Right, by contrast, uses faith as a weapon against its political opponents. Its standard bearers cannot acknowledge crimes even nine centuries in the past. So forget the anti-Semitic Rhineland Massacres of 1096; the sack of Constantinople in 1204; the destruction of ancient libraries and art treasures; the hundreds of thousands who died from slaughter, famine, and disease before the Crusaders even reached the Holy Land. Do not mention the estimated 1.7 million deaths from the Crusades, or that the savagery was launched by Pope Urban II in 1095.
The denial is not only about the Middle Ages. Millions were caught up in the Middle Passage that brought slaves to the western hemisphere, and black men in America were being burned alive in public lynching festivals well into the twentieth century. People cut off parts of the victims for souvenirs. Innumerable photos of these horrors are a few clicks away.
We can talk about this. At bottom, that is the president's message. He does our country a service by raising it, though he knows his opponents are waiting to pounce on whatever he says. He can speak less guardedly with his last race and last midterm election behind him.
Above, Mister Smith Media mocks NBC News anchor Brian Williams for his enhanced memories of being under fire in a war zone. The mockery continues on Twitter with hashtag #BrianWilliamsMisremembers. Here is some coverage:
On this Super Bowl Sunday, a look back twenty-four years to the memorable rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by Whitney Houston before the 1991 Super Bowl. As Tom Sherwood said in sharing it, "This is how you do it." Amen.
PS: Best wishes for her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown's healing.
My year-in-review is now up at the Washington Blade. Here is an excerpt:
Military and international. The transition to openly gay military service has gone so smoothly it has generated little news. The fight to end discrimination against transgender service members continues; two dozen have been discharged in the past two years. The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lawsuit by Sexual Minorities Uganda against Scott Lively for crimes against humanity can proceed. In diplomatic news, Ted Osius III joined a growing list of openly gay envoys when he was sworn in as ambassador to Vietnam.
Health. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led 80 senators and House members in urging an end to the lifetime ban on blood donations by men who have had sex with men, calling for science to replace stereotypes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for wider use of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention, despite strong opposition by Michael Weinstein of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. There have been no new HIV infections among more than 500 Kaiser Permanente customers using PrEP. New York and the District of Columbia adopted rules forbidding health insurers from denying medically necessary treatment to transgender people. D.C. joined California and New Jersey in passing legislation banning "ex-gay" conversion therapy for minors.
Media. Schadenfreude was rampant after Sean Eldridge failed in his bid to buy a congressional seat and husband Chris Hughes provoked a mass walkout at The New Republic by sacking top editors. Hughes was faulted for wrecking a century-old magazine in his effort to create a "vertically integrated digital media company," that is, a word salad. Former TNR writer Jamie Kirchick at The Daily Beast dubbed them "America's worst gay power couple," but their youthful hubris and confusion of wealth for wisdom transcend sexual orientation.
President Obama, in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley, makes short work of Russia's Vladimir Putin and Republicans who call him weak on national security.
(Hat tip: Occupy Democrats)
I agree with The New York Times.
For years I've thought that we cannot be like countries where leaders of the outgoing regime are jailed by the incoming one. The resulting political turmoil would not be worth it. But I am changing my mind. Dick Cheney's brazen, no-apologies trash talk has helped me reconsider. If he had the sense to choose a quiet retirement it might be one thing; but he continues his provocations and his aggressive contempt for international norms to which America is a signatory, and for simple decency. So we got the turmoil anyway. Meanwhile, the lack of justice looms larger. Indict him or give him a one-way ticket to The Hague.
The U.S. Navy demonstrates its new Laser Weapon System (LaWS) aboard the USS Ponce.
This year's Christmas ad by Sainsbury's, the British supermarket and convenience store chain founded in 1869, recreates the legendary Christmas Truce that occurred on the Western Front one hundred years ago during World War I. After the jump are videos about the making of the advert in partnership with the Royal British Legion, and the story behind it.
The video's moving reminder that humanity can emerge under the worst circumstances also reminds us of the pointlessness of war. It was rising anti-German sentiment during WWI, in 1917, that caused the British House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to become the House of Windsor, and Battenberg to become Mountbatten. The British, German, and Russian royals were cousins. The Tsarevitch Alexei, for example, famous hemophiliac son of Tsar Nicholas II, was the great-grandchild of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. If you didn't know better, you might think that as the world grows smaller, it would grow less violent.
At least at this point regarding the English and Germans, the prospect is not war but whether Britain will leave the European Union. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned Prime Minister David Cameron that she would sooner see the UK leave the EU than limit the freedom of movement within EU, with which Britain has a problem. The Iron Lady's ghost hovers, saying "No, no, no."
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.
Ah, the endless font of stupidity that is Rep. Louie Gohmert.
American drones are not frightening only if you are not living under them. John Oliver of HBO's Last Week Tonight makes it real.
A friend on Facebook posted this story from a conservative blog and commented, "What you don't want to know, but need to..." Follow the link if you want to see the photo, as I will not.
Speaking of what we don't want to hear but need to know, shall we keep track of the number of Christian babies crushed by ISIS as well as the number of babies and children of all faiths killed by American bombs? There are many horrors in the world. Are we obligated to go to war over each one? The fact is American warfare has made the Mideast less stable, not more. We must not allow ourselves to be stampeded. That is not just my opinion; it is what every damn one of you knows to be true. The neocons refuse to learn any lessons from the past decade. For God's sake, let us not emulate them.
Media Matters shares this. Here's the transcript:
BOLLING: A personal comment before we go to break. Earlier this week I made a comment that was wholly inappropriate, and I apologize for it. The comment became during K. G.'s One More Thing honoring UAE bomber pilot Major Miriam al-Mansouri, who bombed ISIS. My remark was not intended to be disparaging of her, but that's how it was taken. I should have known better and used better judgment.
Yesterday I made an apology on this show, but it was inadequate. Fox News has received letters from viewers including from women in the military, and I have taken them to heart. Therefore, let me speak clearly and sincerely. I'm sorry for what I said, I believe that Major al-Mansouri is a hero, she's courageous, brave, and she deserves our praise, not inappropriate jokes. I appreciate that she is fighting the extreme radicals that threaten all of us. She has my admiration and my very, very sincere gratitude.
He didn't mean to offend. Pardon me, but fuck you, Mr. Bolling. Some men will die before they honestly confront their male privilege and disrespect of women.
President Obama, in demolishing a Fox News reporter's loaded question on his allegedly weak foreign policy, shows that he agrees with me on the unwisdom of launching another ground war in the Middle East. As he notes, his critics say they don't want a ground war either. So what DO they want? Other than wanting him to fail, that is.
(Hat tip: Ronald King)
My first column in my new perch at the Washington Blade is on America's latest Mideast war: How often do we have to respond to distant problems by charging in and making things worse before we bloody well stop doing it?
Also, Blade editor Kevin Naff graciously welcomes me to the Blade's list of opinion writers. As I start this new professional relationship, I want to thank Metro Weekly and editor Randy Shulman for giving my work a home for so many years.
Larry Klayman at right-wing site World Net Daily thinks nuclear weapons are the best way to deal with ISIS. Because sanity sometimes gets in the way of fun.
In lower Manhattan last night, a tribute in lights on the eve of today's 9/11 anniversary. Among the legacies of that awful day have been reckless military adventures abroad and threats to civil liberties here at home. Citizen, awake!
NYT offers a preview of the Sunday morning political shows on its op-ed page.
As predictable as the dawn. This week the President is a hapless weakling; next week, if he issues an executive order on immigration, he'll be a tyrant. It would be nice if those interviewing McCain and his closeted and overcompensating sidekick would ask them how their hawkish approach worked under Mr. Obama's predecessor. But the media has been much more interested in the President's haberdashery.
Justin Snow reports at Metro Weekly:
More than three months after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the White House voiced support for a review of the military’s ban on transgender service, a new report finds the Pentagon could immediately open the armed services to transgender Americans in a way that is consistent with military readiness and core values.
Kyle Mantyla reports at Right Wing Watch on the latest lunacy from Bryan Fischer of AFA.
Tell it, Martin. Words from 46 years ago that are as apt as when he spoke them, the day before he was taken from us.
My latest column is now up at Metro Weekly. It is subtitled, "Amid war and plague, right-wing Americans export religious intolerance." Here's an excerpt:
In Entebbe on August 9, more than one hundred LGBT Ugandans celebrated the first Pride Uganda since the Constitutional Court overturned the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) for being passed without a quorum. Entebbe is on Lake Victoria, and the paradise suggested by some of the photos would not make you think the revelers risked mob violence, unless you noticed the masks some wore.
A British name for an African lake is a relic of the same colonial legacy that keeps homosexuality illegal despite AHA being tossed out. African leaders are strangely selective in their outrage over Western influences. They embrace foreign laws, religions, and aid while treating sexual minorities who have always lived among them like hostile aliens. American evangelicals like Scott Lively incited the persecution with the slander that gays recruit and sexually abuse children. This pious vulture denies any responsibility for the consequences, including LGBT Ugandans being hunted like animals.
KAL's cartoon, from The Economist.
Meanwhile, in NYT, a clear, sensible voice on Israeli colonialism that most Americans just don't want to hear.
I will be Mark Thompson's guest at 7 pm Eastern Time this evening on SiriusXM Progress, Channel 127, to discuss my column for this week, "Blood on a Beach," concerning the current conflict between Israel and Gaza.
The photo below, taken from the International Space Station, shows the border between Israel and Egypt and the Mediterranean coastline.
My latest column was painful to write. Its subhead is: "The taboo against criticizing Israel hurts both Israel and America." Here is a portion:
We are all implicated in what is done in our name. We must face our shared responsibility for American politics and its bloody consequences abroad. We war with our own values when we condone behavior by an ally that we would condemn back home.
Last week I told bereaved Jewish Iranian immigrant friends who had lost their mother, "May her memory be for a blessing." What would I say to relatives of children killed in Gaza? Sorry my taxes subsidized it? Sorry our politics makes it hazardous to talk about innocent Palestinians? There are no innocents? That last one would do Al Qaida proud. One friend said the deaths were regrettably necessary. Isn't that a line from Dr. Strangelove?
Speaking of cold-blooded analysis, demographic trends show that without a two-state solution, Israel must eventually choose between being a democracy and being a Jewish state. What will America do then? Israel's bunker mentality, and its posturing as a victim despite its power, blind it to its slow self-destruction. Assisted suicide is still suicide.
Our ubiquitous social media are a game changer: having seen pictures of dead boys on a beach, we cannot un-see them.
Think Progress reports:
Cameras on Wednesday captured a spokesman for the United Nations mission devoted to assisting Palestinian refugees breaking down in tears over the latest artillery fire against a U.N.-run school killed at least twenty civilians.
United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman Chris Gunness has been a go-to source for information on what’s happening on the ground in the Gaza Strip for the past three weeks, as first airstrikes, then Israeli ground forces, have waged a war. The Israeli government has defended its actions as protecting Israeli citizens, focusing its assault on Hamas — which the United States and many other governments rank as a terrorist organization — and the militants allied with them. But in the course of the latest incursion, the dead have been almost entirely on the Palestinian side of the conflict, with the vast majority of them being civilians.
Note: YouTube keeps taking this video down. Contemptible. If they keep doing it, I will look for another copy to post.
Quick, hide under a picnic blanket!
Early in the week, Jon Stewart illustrated the response often received by anyone who criticizes Israel in any way, or simply expresses sympathy for innocent children killed in a conflict.
Pretty well sums it up. Lovely singing by Andy Williams.
The latest incoherence from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).
Very Old Testament. Bibi (and I mean you and your fanatical supporters and not your nation), may you reap what you sow.
WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning has been approved to begin receiving hormone replacement therapy while serving her 35-year prison sentence at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Associated Press reports.
This is the right decision. Denial of healthcare is not an appropriate form of punishment. All prisoners are entitled to proper healthcare, and transgender prisoners are no exception.
Update: London-based Russia Today reporter Sara Firth has resigned in protest over the lies her employer demanded regarding the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. Good for her.
Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed yesterday’s killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach and who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage of the conflict, has been told by NBC executives to leave Gaza immediately. According to an NBC source upset at his treatment, the executives claimed the decision was motivated by “security concerns” as Israel prepares a ground invasion, a claim repeated to me by an NBC executive. But late yesterday, NBC sent another correspondent, Richard Engel, along with an American producer who has never been to Gaza and speaks no Arabic, into Gaza to cover the ongoing Israeli assault (both Mohyeldin and Engel speak Arabic).
Mohyeldin is an Egyptian-American with extensive experience reporting on that region. He has covered dozens of major Middle East events in the last decade for CNN, NBC and Al Jazeera English, where his reporting on the 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza made him a star of the network. NBC aggressively pursued him to leave Al Jazeera, paying him far more than the standard salary for its on-air correspondents.
Yesterday, Mohyeldin witnessed and then reported on the brutal killing by Israeli gunboats of four young boys as they played soccer on a beach in Gaza City. He was instrumental, both in social media and on the air, in conveying to the world the visceral horror of the attack.
NBC, you are beneath contempt.
Gay actor George Takei tells of when soldiers with bayonets came to his Los Angeles home when he was 5 and sent his family to a Japanese-American internment camp on a presidential order, without due process. He then talks about his heroes, including the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in American military history. And he explains why he loves America and is committed to democracy.