My Blade column this week looks at the Iran nuclear agreement. Here is an excerpt:
Read the whole piece here.
High in the night sky over Washington, the bright stars Deneb and Vega mark a star field at the center of a probe unrelated to Benghazi or Hillary's emails or whether Iran will get the Bomb.
NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has discovered Kepler-452b, an earth-like planet 1400 light years away. At 6 billion years old, it is 1.5 billion years older than Earth. This raises the question whether any intelligent life there has avoided destroying itself. How might earthlings evolve over a similar time period?
It will be sad but unsurprising if it turns out that Kepler-452b has produced several intelligent life forms in succession, each destroying itself after developing genocidal weapons. Back here, of course, humanity's own ongoing quest of self-annihilation nearly succeeded in the last century. Our latest opportunity is the resolute effort by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American cohorts to foment war with Iran. They are attacking a multilateral accord, reached on July 14 after a two-year effort, designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The Guardian view on the royal archives: open them up | Editorial http://t.co/MVvE3Trfxi— The Guardian (@guardian) July 20, 2015
I have never understood nor sympathized with the fetish for the British royals on the part of some Americans. But in any case, the coziness that existed between Edward VIII and Hitler is well established. The video of the current monarch as a child giving a Nazi salute is embarrassing, but no reasonable person is going to blame a 6-year-old princess for making a gesture at the instigation of her uncle. The archives should be open. There should be more embarrassment over the persistence of a hereditary monarchy, which will probably survive anything because the Brits cling to it to justify inflating their nation’s importance. This is odd, since the imperial heritage that makes them moist with pride includes the Opium War, the Amritsar Massacre, and Boer concentration camps.
Go to 1:57 in this video to see footage of last evening's celebrations in the streets of Tehran over the multilateral nuclear agreement. I posted this on Facebook after seeing it:
I just watched video of young Iranians celebrating in the streets of Tehran. It reminded me of a National Geographic cover 50 years ago featuring a Persian man. Goodness. They were chanting "Death to no one" in Farsi. Big smiles on their faces, their arms wrapped around the MSNBC reporter. Note to Lindsey Graham: damn you. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Gay GOP group blasts ‘bad’ Iran nuclear deal http://t.co/1bl1cM3k4S— Washington Blade (@WashBlade) July 15, 2015
Gregory Angelo says, “Log Cabin Republicans shares the grave concerns about this deal expressed by our allies in Congress." Really? Your allies? The loudest critics in Congress, who condemned the agreement reflexively without bothering to read it, included Speaker Boehner, the quasi-treasonous Sen. Tom Cotton, and the revolting closet case Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose relentless and reckless warmongering seems driven by a need to prove he is a real man. Fine company you are keeping.
The notion that nothing should be done until and unless everything can be done is just as foolish coming from Log Cabin as it was coming from the leftists in 2009 who demanded a single, comprehensive LGBT equality bill immediately--which showed no understanding for the structure and politics of Congress with its multiple committees and power centers, or the different degrees of ripeness of different efforts; nor did it show respect for the many hard-working activists who labor year-in and year-out laying the groundwork for progress. Just "Give us everything right now!" like a baby screaming in a high chair. To suggest that a complex and difficult multilateral nuclear agreement should be halted unless every other concern is simultaneously resolved is sabotage, not serious advocacy.
President Obama is far and away the most pro-gay president in American history. By contrast, his Republican predecessor in 2004 endorsed the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment. On May 9, 2012, after Obama publicly endorsed marriage equality, Log Cabin could not pause from its petty partisan sniping for an hour to celebrate the historic breakthrough of the President of the United States taking such a step. Instead, demonstrating that LGBT equality always comes second for Log Cabin, they belittled the president and boasted of how former Vice President Cheney was ahead of him--despite Cheney and his gay daughter having worked to re-elect President Bush after his call for us to be written out of the Constitution. At least Ken Mehlman has apologized for his role in that, and worked on pro-gay Supreme Court briefs.Notwithstanding Mehlman's efforts, the GOP remains overwhelmingly homophobic. Instead of throwing stones in its glass house, Log Cabin should be working harder to get its so-called allies in Congress to support pro-LGBT measures here at home, and should be battling the virulent bigotry coming from its party's clown car of presidential candidates. And instead of insulting our intelligence with its pinkwashing stance beside the cynical and extreme Bibi Netanyahu, it should demand that he replace his ambassador to Washington with a serious diplomat.
Finally, I would like to note that the fictional Uncle Tom, while no Nat Turner, sacrificed his own life to help a slave girl escape to freedom. While I sympathize with others who criticize Log Cabin, there is no need to insult Uncle Tom by comparing him to moral cowards.
Mandela let the Voortrekker Monument remain. Instead of acting like the Taliban in the Bamiyan Valley, let's focus on stopping police from murdering unarmed black folks.
Dear trans friends: for this nutbag to call you mentally ill is like some drunk fatass on a couch insulting Serena Williams. Frank Kameny used to say he resented for more than six decades having had to lie in order to serve his country. Here again we have Americans who are slandered as they fight not for a benefit but for an obligation, for the right to serve. Thank you for putting up with so much ignorance and bile. You, unlike Erickson, have my respect.
Iran Nuclear Deal Is Reached After Long Negotiations http://t.co/i7HqiukouJ— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 14, 2015
Finally a nuclear agreement with Iran. Israel PM Bibi Netanyahu and his friends in the GOP are angry and scornful. What is their alternative? War. Facile talk of another reckless war is all they've got. I am so eager to hear from freshman ignoramus Sen. Tom Cotton. Not. Bibi could not do more harm to the long-term interests of Israel if he were its sworn enemy. Good for the nations involved in this multilateral agreement, including the U.S.
Both houses of the South Carolina have voted by overwhelming majorities to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol. WIST News reports.
Above, Republican state Rep. Jenny Horne, a descendant of Confederate States President Jefferson Davis, spoke passionately last night during debate on the removal bill.
The South Carolina senate today, in the second of three required votes, voted 37-3 to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol. The lower house of the legislature is also expected to act this week.
Today I heard Langston Hughes being read in the South Carolina senate. The blood of the Mother Emanuel martyrs is buying an extraordinary moment of grace. The step the senators are about to take, the removal of a flag, will open the way to other steps. It will not magically end the hate (indeed, there were some less-than-enlightened comments on the senate floor today, including anti-gay comments), but it will mark a significant political shift. The name of Clem Pinckney is much on his colleagues' lips. If only we could have him back. His state needs him. May his memory continue to lift his state and nation.
Senate Rejects Same-Sex Benefits For Veterans In Non-Marriage Equality States: Via the Washington Blade: An am... http://t.co/pXASLHSYwQ— JoeMyGod (@JoeMyGod) June 5, 2015
As the SCOTUS ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges approaches, Republicans are stuck in their denial. Take out a blank sheet of paper, and there you will see a complete list of everyone who is helped by this bullheaded meanness.
An HRC-commissioned study shows it has diversity issues. Some are inevitably using this for another round of pointless sniping at the gay rights behemoth, which has an enduring base of supporters. There are many other groups for people to support. But to give HRC credit, they work with statewide and other national groups on a range of issues. They helped DC on marriage equality, bullying, and conversion therapy, and are helping on surrogacy agreements and LGBT cultural competency for healthcare providers. I am glad they are looking at where they need to improve.
U.S. Special Forces Kill Senior ISIS Commander in Syria Raid, Defense Department Says http://t.co/ERcsWBPq26— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 16, 2015
President Obama seems to be going after ISIS pretty aggressively, considering the far right's claim that he wants the terrorists to win. Below, 19-year-old college student Ivy Ziedrich confronts Jeb Bush on the campaign trail, saying, "Your brother created ISIS." You will perhaps not be shocked that a college student appears far better informed on recent Middle Eastern history than the scion of a distinguished political family who wants to be our next president.
Jamie Kirchick has an interesting piece in Slate on Sy Hersh's ill-sourced alternative version of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Also, A blunt interview of Hersh by Isaac Chotiner.
George W. Bush warns peace w/Iran could ruin his legacy of dumb, pointless wars that conservatives refuse to pay for http://t.co/lfm0e2XwlP— The Daily Edge (@TheDailyEdge) April 27, 2015
Until now, I could at least give George W. Bush credit for keeping his mouth decently shut about his successor. That is now over. Like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and others from his administration, he appears to have learned nothing from his destabilizing and financially ruinous military adventures.
My latest Blade column takes a look at how the GOP's overreach has exposed its weak game. Here is an excerpt:
Republicans had a bad week last week. When not failing in their effort to sabotage nuclear nonproliferation negotiations, they were denouncing the Indiana and Arkansas legislatures for undermining their so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts by adding clarifying language. Retail giant Walmart was instrumental in pressuring Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to demand a fix to that state's RFRA.
The only homophobes who had a good week were the owners of Memories Pizza, who received over $800,000 in donations in a right-wing media scam that hailed them as Christian martyrs for refusing to fill the previously unknown demand for pizza at gay weddings.
This delightful clip of Pat Buchanan schooling Sean Hannity on Iran makes me think that a reality show called "Battle of the Wingnuts" could be a smash hit.
To those who say there's not a dime's worth of difference between the Democrats and Republicans regarding the Middle East because both support Israel and both use American military, look at this: a Democratic president using multilateral diplomacy while Republicans, aggressively and willfully ignorant of recent history, clamor for another preemptive war. This negotiation is not finished, but congrats and thanks to the president and Secretary of State Kerry for their persistence.
Republican Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and James Lankford (OK) have introduced a resolution of disapproval against two bills passed by D.C., one prohibiting employer discrimination for reproductive healthcare decisions, the other protecting LGBT students. Cruz and Langford claim that the bills are attacks on religious freedom.
Cruz is setting a pattern of fibbing about legislation. Last week he demanded the repeal of the non-existent federal Common Core law. His cries of religious freedom being under attack are the opposite of the truth. He is defending discrimination. A growing GOP trend is to dress up anti-LGBT discrimination as religious freedom. What they want is not freedom but supremacy.
As you may know, one of the two targeted bills, the Human Rights Amendment Act, which among other things repeals the noxious, congressionally imposed Armstrong Amendment dating from the late 1980s, was requested by GLAA. Here are other news stories on the senators' disapproval resolution:
You cannot be too crazy to be taken seriously by a politician like Rick Santorum.
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long enjoyed bipartisan consensus in America until now. Netanyahu appears headed to another term as PM after reversing his previous stated support for a Palestinian state and stoking racist panic to turn out the far-right base. The American far right is already in bed with him and will surely back his reckless position. Will liberals and responsible conservatives stand up to this madness, or be intimidated by charges that they are anti-Israel? Netanyahu is harming Israel's long-term interests by embracing a policy of apartheid west of the Jordan River. If we do not say that loudly and clearly, we might as well dig her grave, and the world's with it. #SupportJStreet
The junior senator from Arkansas actually said this today on Face the Nation: "Moreover, we have to stand up to Iran’s attempts to drive for regional dominance. They already control Tehran."
Well, yes, Professor Marvel, they do indeed.
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.