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Proud Progressive used the comments section of my last posting on yesterday's massive demos to point out that there has been very little "A-list" blog coverage of the actions in 10 US cities against the war in Iraq. This is disturbing, since one of the main purposes for people to have political blogs is to fill in the blanks left by a corporate media that largely downplayed this massive show of opposition to a war which is making so many corporations richer.

It seems like a good idea to highlight examples of blogs (mostly small but not entirely) that get it when it comes to the role of blogs as independent media.

Seattle marchers join nationwide protest day - Sticker Shock Music

Thousands Protest Iraq War- jobsanger

Photos From The Oct 27th SF Anti-War Protest - IndyBay

Great Attendance at Denver October 27 Peace Rally - Metro Denver Greens

Everyday Citizen had two articles on local protests:


There was some big blog coverage, though nowhere near enough.

Thousands call for swift end to Iraq war - Michael Moore

Truthout ran the San Francisco Chronicle article on the protest.

NYC Protest Report and Follow Up

Posted by libhom Saturday, October 27, 2007 3 comments

Despite the rain, it was energizing and reassuring to march along with thousands of people in one of eleven protests today against the insane and illegal war in Iraq. (It also was fun to yell "shut up and enlist" at the three GOP counter protesters.)

One of the things the organizers, United for Peace and Justice, did really well was to host a peace fair after the protest to connect protesters to organizations and build the movement for peace, human rights, and social justice.

The most moving thing for me was seeing the military families holding their signs at the peace fair. You could see how speaking out against the war was part of the grieving process for many of them. It is so tragic knowing that they are suffering so a bunch of war profiteers can make vast, unearned profits.

The best tee-shirt said: "My friends went to Iraq looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction and All They Found Was This Lousy Tee shirt"

Whether you attended or not, you still have a responsibility to follow through on what was done during this protest. Here are some excellent organizations and resources that you should look into both in NYC and nationwide.

United for Peace and Justice
This is the coalition of organizations that is trying to stop the Iraq war and prevent an even crazier one with Iran. They have an excellent events calendar with actions by a variety of groups trying to stop the war.


Kucinich Campaign Site

Kucinich has the strongest anti-war message of the major party candidates, and he supports the broadest range of liberal positions.

Hillary, You're not listening.  Bring the troops home now
Code Pink NYC
They have a variety of actions you can support in the NYC area and had a big contingent in the protest march.

www.listenhillary.org
This is a Code Pink project trying to get Hillary Clinton to listen to the movement to stop the Iraq war. Their Bird Dog Talking Points does an excellent job rebutting the corporate media's claim that Clinton is a liberal.

Granny Peace Brigade
These grannies are some of the most courageous peace activists in the country. Their description tells us a lot about them and one of the more famous free assembly cases in recent memory.

Who We Are: When a group of women ages 59 to 91, many of us grandmothers, tried to enlist in the United States military on October 17, 2005 The Granny Peace Brigade was born. We asked to enlist in order to replace grandchildren who had been deployed in Iraq unnecessarily. However, we were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. After a six-day trial, we were acquitted. That was the beginning.

Here is an action of theirs you can support, and more are available on their web site.
Every Wednesday from 4:30 to 5:30 PM Grandmothers Against the War holds a vigil at Rockefeller Center. All are welcome.

Let Gravel Debate!
I prefer Kucinich to Gravel because I don't like Gravel's tax policies, but he certainly should be included in the Democratic presidential debates. NBC is excluding Gravel from the upcoming debate (actually joint appearance) at Drexel University. NBC is owned by GE, a war profiteer which is why one of the anti-war candidates is being excluded. They want the debate highly biased in favor of the war.

Half Empty has an excellent posting on the issue. The article has a variety of email addresses of NBC/GE executives you can contact as well.

Progressive Challenge 2008
They have an excellent, though abreviated, version of a progressive platform. When rightists ask "what do liberals stand FOR?," you can send them the link.

Peace Action New York State
Peace Action is one of the coalition partners in United for Peace and Justice, and does a lot of important work on its own as well. Staten Island has a particularly vibrant and active chapter.

Military Families Speak Out
They are doing an incredible job framing the war funding debate in a way that cuts through the corporate media spin.
"Funding the War is Killing Our Troops
Support Our Troops
Fund a Safe and Orderly Withdrawal from Iraq and Care for Them as They return"
"Military Families Speak Out continues to call on Congress to end funding for the war in Iraq, save what is needed to bring our troops home quickly and safely. Funding the war is not supporting our troops. The way to support our troops is to bring them home now and take care of them when they get here."

Read How Military Families Responded to the "Betray Us" Report. They also have some excellent actions you can take.

US Labor Against the War
This website has in depth coverage of the Iraqi oil law and mistreatment of Iraqi workers.

International ANSWER
This is the other organization that launches large, anti-war protests on a regular basis. They oppose the war in Iraq in a broader context of fighting racism and social injustice. Our society often ignores the racism involved in the Iraq war, but ANSWER does not. Check their website for future actions.

Stark Apologizes for Telling the Truth About Bush

Posted by libhom Tuesday, October 23, 2007 3 comments

It is a sad time for Congress and the country. A member of Congress actually tells the truth about something that really matters; that member is inappropriately criticized by his party leader; the rest of his caucus either criticizes are keeps quiet; and he is pressured into apologizing for doing absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever.

From the Left is linking to the YouTube video. I don't have the heart to do it.

We really are moving towards a one-party state.

Pride at Work's ENDA Action Alert

Posted by libhom Monday, October 22, 2007 1 comments

Pride at Work, once again, is showing that they understand the meaning of solidarity.

Help Fix ENDA: Tell Your Congressional Representative To Support The Baldwin Amendment

This coming Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives is set to vote on HR 3685, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The bill, as currently written, does not include gender identity. Representative Tammy Baldwin will be offering an amendment from the floor, aptly titled the Baldwin Amendment, that would add "gender identity" to HR 3685.

This is our last chance to ensure that ENDA passes as an inclusive bill, including both gender identity and sexual orientation. Without gender identity, Pride At Work can not support the passage of HR 3685.

We would not even have the option of the Baldwin Amendment if it had not been for the thousands of people who have relentlessly called their Congressional Representatives and demanded an inclusive ENDA or no END-a!

Take Action One More Time For Inclusion

Take Action!

"What's Wrong with the New York Times?"

Posted by libhom Saturday, October 20, 2007 0 comments

I found Marc Crispin Miller's excellent blog. I also was impressed when I saw him at a live speaking engagement a while back. He has been a tireless advocate on behalf of people disenfranchised by GOP election fraud and for restoring democracy to America.

"What's Wrong with the New York Times?" is a provocative title for one of his vlog entries. Of course, a 5:48 video cannot begin to discuss everything wrong with the Times and its rightist/pro-GOP bias. However, he does provide an excellent and disturbing example.

Crispin Miller also does an excellent job explaining robocalling and the difference between voter fraud and election fraud.

From an email blast sent to Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) supporting the October 27 protests against the Iraq war:

We had hopes that Congress would have acted by now to bring U.S. troops and private military forces home from Iraq, so we must show them the breadth and depth of antiwar sentiment in this nation.

This reminds us that, while the majority of Democrats in Washington are worthless, there are good people working for change within the Democratic Party.

PDA also has a peace petition:
WE, the undersigned, support the seventy members of Congress who pledged in an open letter delivered to President Bush: "We will only support appropriating funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq."

We call on all other members of Congress to join in this pledge.

The Iraq occupation amid a sectarian civil war cannot be won by U.S. military force. No more funds for this occupation, except for the safe redeployment of all troops.

Sign the Petition!

Why the Democrats Almost Lost the Tsongas Race

Posted by libhom Friday, October 19, 2007 3 comments

The corporate media are working feverishly to right-spin the close results of the by election that the Democrats barely won in Massachusetts. They seem determined to ignore the real cause: the sense of outrage and alienation in the core constituencies of the Democratic Party.

Here are some of the reasons why so many Democrats are angry, demoralized, and disgusted with the party "leadership."

  • Acting as if AIDS no longer exists.

  • The refusal of House or Senate Democrats to cut off funding for the Iraq war.

  • The absence of impeachment hearings for Cheney or Bush.

  • The inability of House Democrats to pass the Armenian genocide resolution, one of the most obvious "yes" votes in the history of Congress.

  • Inaction on Hurricane Katrina that borders on being both Republican and criminal.

  • Trying to sabotage ENDA and divide the queer community.

  • Funding abstinence only scams that promote HIV infections and unplanned pregnancies rather than honest and accurate sex education which prevents them.

  • Efforts by corrupt "Democrats" to push more corporate-controlled trade deals that create economic insecurity and poverty at home while creating malnutrition, disease and misery abroad.

  • A lack of interest, much less action, on global warming.

  • Confirming Bush's most dangerous and extreme appointees after ceremonial hand-wringing.

  • Consistently refusing to acknowledge the fact that the past two presidential elections were stolen.

  • Doing nothing to replace touch screen voting machines with paper ballots.

  • Continuing draconian drug laws that waste tax money and peoples' lives.

  • Reauthorizing the Unpatriotic Act.

  • Avoiding action on making the rich pay their fair share in taxes.

Sigh!

California (Real) Democratic Representative Pete Stark Tells the Truth:

“I’m just amazed that the Republicans are worried that we can’t pay for insuring an additional 10 million children,” he said. “They sure don’t care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you going to get that money? You are going to tell us lies like you’re telling us today? Is that how you’re going to fund the war? You don’t have money to fund the war or children, but you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President’s amusement.”

What Stark said was entirely fair, reasonable, and accurate. There is no legitimate reason to criticize him.

Has anyone forgotten how often Bush smirks when he talks about war?

Demonizing politicians when they take the rare step of actually telling the truth is counterproductive for our nation’s political discourse. Yet, that is exactly what is happening.

As one would sadly expect, Nancy Pelosi and other Republicans have launched irresponsible and unreasonable attacks against Stark.

Pelosi:
"Yesterday’s debate in the House to override the President’s veto of bipartisan legislation to cover 10 million children was heated on both sides. While Members of Congress are passionate about their views, what Congressman Stark said during the debate was inappropriate and distracted from the seriousness of the subject at hand – providing health care for America’s children.”

Pelosi is definitely in a closet. She's a closet Republican.

The Republican National Committee (which blames our troops for what's happening in Iraq):
"Pete Stark's out-of-control rant is an insult to every American, Democrat or Republican. It is one thing to disagree with the war in Iraq, but it is another to go to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and rave that the men and women of the United States Armed Forces are '[blowing] up innocent people.' The Democrats cannot stop playing partisan politics, and they don't care whether they have to tie up reauthorization of children's health care or attack our brave men and women in uniform to do it. The leaders of the Democrat Party, including Nancy Pelosi and their presidential candidates, need to stand up and make it clear that this kind of attack is unacceptable from any elected official."

Since when are Democrats, or really anyone with IQs over 60, suppposed to be under the control of the RNC anyway?

Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, House GOP Whip:
“Pete Stark’s statements on the House floor this afternoon crossed all lines of decency and decorum. As a member of Congress, he should be ashamed. But as a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee –- and the current chairman of its Health subcommittee –- the Democratic leadership ought to be ashamed as well.”

Blunt should be ashamed, for killing our troops in Iraq, for slaughtering innocent Iraqis, for being a bought politician, and for a variety of other reasons.

The culture of dishonesty gets more pervasive in DC as time goes on. Now, telling the truth is the most grave political offense that anyone can commit.

How pathetic!

Possible Cave by House Democrats on Genocide

Posted by libhom Thursday, October 18, 2007 1 comments

The New York Times is gloating over the political class' lack of concern about genocide.

House Speaker Now Unsure if Armenian Genocide Motion Will Reach a Vote

Disturbing title, no?

Pelosi's main quote is so typical of what happens these days when Democrats get any pushback from war profiteers and the Bush regime.

“Whether it will come up or not and what the action will be remains to be seen.”

First, the Democrats pretend to have spines; then, there is the pushback; the Democrats start to hedge (see quote); and then, the Democrats do whatever Bush and the Iraq war machine dictate.

Is it any wonder that the congressional Democrats are even or lower in the polls than Bush? (The numbers for the entire Congress are even worse.)

The irony is that the Armenian genocide resolution is such an obvious "yes" vote that opposing it or even refusing to bring it up is inexcusable. Turkey is going to invade Iraq regardless of what the House does. And, the main motive for opposing the resolution is reprehensible: trying to keep military access to Turkey in order to prolong the illegal war in Iraq.

The pro-genocide (and pro-war) tone of the New York Times article was found throughout, though one paragraph showed the complete lack of professionalism so commonly displayed at the Times and throughout the corporate noise machine.
The comments by the speaker, a key supporter of the measure, added to growing evidence that modern-day pragmatism was overwhelming supporters’ demands that the House render a historical verdict on the killings of the Armenians by Ottoman Turks.

Ignoring a genocide in order to prolong a senseless war is hardly "pragmatism." Also, the "historical verdict" of genocide already has been made by historians, though not by propagandists.

Given that queers were targeted and killed in the Holocaust, it is especially important that the queer community support this resolution and oppose any attempts to deny or spin genocide.

Angry Black Bitch on Fred Thompson's Campaign

Posted by libhom Tuesday, October 16, 2007 0 comments

She is spot on with this observation:

Why the fuck is everyone discussing Fred Thompson’s first debate as if the man is five years old and this is his first day of all day school?

The way the corporate media cheerlead for Thomspon because he is a Republican, a Reaganesque bad actor, and a right-wing whackjob is so disgusting.

Can't the pundits and "reporters" (using the term very loosely) try pretending they are doing balanced coverage once in a while just to shake things up?

She has more to say:
A bitch is obviously concerned…and with good reason. Fred Thompson is being pitched to the right as the Mean Enough candidate…the guy who will kick that cute little progressive puppy twice and enjoy it. Those clever conservative spin masters have been all over the place stressing how intellectually lazy he is, how he’ll tow the evangelical line even though he doesn’t go to church and how he’s so allergic to rolling back the tax cut he has to carry an Epi-pen.

They don’t even care that Thompson, who was a young man in the 1960’s, somehow managed to circumnavigate the Vietnam War. It matters not as long as he maintains that pro Iraq War position.

Republicans sure love lazy authority figures. Just look at how they drool over George W. Bush and get all excited contemplating Ronald Reagan's nap-a-thon/presidency. But, what do you expect from people who insist that capital gains be taxed at lower levels than income earned by actually working?

Excellent Video on Burma

Posted by libhom Monday, October 15, 2007 2 comments

Here is a great video on a protest here in the US by Burmese activists. This does a good job of having Burmese explain their own issues themselves, rather than having them filtered by media outlets that barely even know where Burma is.

Almost every day, there is a new headline about Larry Craig. It's not like the media is looking for weird excuses to cover the story. Craig just keeps making noise. His doomed appeal of his conviction for a trivial crime and his factual statement that Romney “through him under the bus” is a calculated effort by Craig to keep his name in the media.

I don't think even a whackjob like Craig is arrogant or foolish enough to think he will ever restore his reputation in the GOP and get reelected to the Senate in a far-right state like Idaho.

If Craig wasn't so homophobic and sexphobic, I would feel sorry for him, given the terrible way the GOP has treated him over something so unimportant. But, we all know that he promoted the very attitudes that are pissing him off when he is the target.

But, does he know or care?

It really looks like he is going to use the “scandal” to hurt the GOP that has proven disloyal to him. You cannot blame Craig, but you can enjoy watching Craig's fellow homophobes and sexphobes alternate between whining and hiding.

I May Be Voting for a Woman for President After All

Posted by libhom Sunday, October 14, 2007 1 comments

Cynthia McKinney appears to be running as a Green. She is one of the few politicians I respect, and has gotten onto the California ballot in the Green Party primary.

IndyMedia is streaming some excellent video of Antonia Juhasz speaking at a Code Pink event, protesting Nancy Pelosi's refusal to even meet with constituents of hers who oppose the war.

Your browser is not able to display this multimedia content.

Ron Paul MUST Run Ads Nation-Wide NOW!!

The preceding is a headline from David Duke's website. (Thanks to Orcinus for tipping me off to this one.)

Ron Paul has been supported by David Duke for some time now, yet Paul never has gotten around to denouncing Duke and rejecting Duke's support. Paul's tacit acceptance of Duke's support is reprehensible. Ron Paul just gets creepier with each passing day.

The following is the text of an email I just sent to the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC.

Subject: Turkey Must Recognize the Armenian Genocide

Message Body: I am writing to express my outrage and horror at your government's continued denial of the Armenian genocide and the pressure your militant, Muslim, fundamentalist government is trying to put on other countries to ignore a genocide against non-Muslims.

The Armenian genocide is a proven historical fact only disputed by pathological liars and crazed bigots. Nothing does more to dishonor Turkey than when it's own government continues to lie about the Armenian genocide.

The current policy of the Turkish government sends a message that Turkey is a backwards country run by religious fanatics. Why would Western tourists come to a country that is getting nuttier every day? Why would the European Union even want a member country that is behaving in such an extreme and insane fashion?

If Turkey wants to be a pariah state, then the current path makes sense. Otherwise, Turkey needs to acknowledge the fact of the Armenian genocide and make reparations.

Email the Turkish Embassy!

So far, we have the one and only example of responsible leadership from Nancy Pelosi, as described by the New York Times.

Pelosi Vows to Push Ahead With Genocide Vote

Pelosi is facing similar pressure to that which has gotten her to support the illegal war in Iraq, the Unpatriotic Act, and illegal spying on Americans. Every time she has caved (or never genuinely supported her public stances in the first place).

Seldom is there such a clear cut case before Congress as the Armenian genocide resolution. The Armenian genocide is a proven historical fact only disputed by pathological liars and crazed bigots.

The excuses for opposition are as flimsy as they are offensive.

The Bush administration’s paramount concern is that American forces might lose access to a major hub for shipping fuel and matériel to Iraq, a case that President Bush made Thursday.

Our troops never should have been sent to Iraq in the first place, and they should have all been withdrawn well before now. Denying a genocide in order to prolong an illegal and unAmerican war in Iraq is reprehensible. No patriotic American and no decent human being would seriously consider voting against the Armenian genocide resolution.

If Pelosi blocks the vote, she will be sending the same message that she has been sending throughout this Congress: expect "Democrats" to act just like Republicans.

Free Press Goes After VNRs

Posted by libhom Saturday, October 13, 2007 1 comments

Free Press has an important Action Alert on Video News Releases (VNRs) which are another way that corporate propaganda gets put out as news on publicly owned airwaves.

From the Action Alert:

Despite an ongoing investigation, corporate propaganda continues to
infiltrate local TV newscasts with disguised product advertisements
posing as genuine news reports. This represents a breach of the trust
between broadcasters and their viewers.

Take action to stop fake news today. Demand that the Federal Communications Commission investigate, strengthen disclosure requirements and punish station owners that air fake news.

The default text in the action form has more information on the significance of the issue:
If my local television station is airing fake TV news -- corporate or government "video news releases" (VNRs) -- I want to know.

That's why I support the FCC's proposed fines for several VNRs that were aired without disclosure. Thank you for taking that first step. But more must be done to ensure the public's right to know.

The Center for Media and Democracy just reported on new instances of VNRs being aired without disclosure. Together with Free Press, CMD has already filed complaints on more than 100 TV stations that passed off VNRs as real news. These stations violated the FCC's sponsorship identification rules and failed to serve the public.

(As is always the case, it is better to write your own text if you can come up with something to say.)

Democracy Now has done an excellent job of covering the VNR issue. It is just another example of how the alternative media does a much better job of covering what is going on in the country.

VNRs are more commonly run on stations in small media markets. If you watch a local news show regularly, here are some hints that msy are watching an unattributed VNR.

1) You don't recognize the "reporter."

2) The "news story" seems too favorable to a product or policy.

3) The accent of the person is from another part of the country.

4) The style of the shooting of the video is different than what you usually see on that station.

Take Action Now!

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is the group that raises money for House Democrats as a whole. Giving money to them functions as a vote of confidence in what House Democrats are doing.

The DCCC also was notorious in the last election cycle of raising money from queers and opponents of the war and diverting the money away from pro-queer, pro-peace candidates to homophobic war mongers.

So, it should hardly be surprising that their fundraising tactics were misleading this time around. The mailing said it was a "Presidential Campaign Survey," yet nearly all of the questions on the bullshit survey were designed to make this terrible Democratic Congress look good. And, the real reason for the mailing was to raise money, not get peoples' views.

I decided to include a note with their mailing to express my views on giving money to the DCCC.

I will not give a dime to your organization until the Democratic Congress meets the following minimal and incredibly modest conditions:

1)Passage of a trans inclusive ENDA.

2)Cutting off all funds for the illegal and unAmerican war in Iraq.

3)Living up to the constitutional requirement that Bush and Cheney be impeached for their many crimes against America and crimes against humanity.

If “Democrats” are going to act like a bunch of corrupt, bigoted Republicans, there isn't any point in giving money to Democrats.

I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!


Best of all, those jerks are paying the postage.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who queer baited openly gay SF Supervisor Harry Britt in order to get into Congress, has continued her heterosexist jihad to weaken lgbt civil rights legislation and to use divide and conquer tactics against our community.

From the Bay Area Reporter:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-San Francisco) office issued a statement late Friday afternoon (October 12) saying the House Committee on Education and Labor would proceed with consideration of a sexual orientation-only version of ENDA next week, with a floor vote on the measure expected the following week.

In a previous posting, I outlined Pelosi's heterosexist history and her latest attack on the lgbt civil rights movement. The only question is what to do about it.

The sad reality is that an unreconstructed homophobe like Nancy Pelosi is never going to change. If pretending to represent San Francisco for so long hasn't softened Pelosi's hatred and bigotry against lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people, nothing will. The only hope we have of getting a supportive representative in that seat is to get Pelosi out.

As a practical matter, that means supporting Cindy Sheehan. It's not like San Francisco is going to vote for a Republican, and any Republican would be just as hateful as Pelosi.

Another benefit to getting Pelosi out of Congress would be making it clear to the Democratic Party that they can no longer take us for granted and treat us as second class citizens, both within the party and in society as a whole. Democrats won't take us seriously until we start kicking some of their sorry butts.

I urge you to bookmark and/or link to Cindy Sheehan's campaign website when it is complete and to be prepared to offer Sheehan the kind of support she deserves as the campaign season goes on.

How Did John Aravosis Get in LGBT?

Posted by libhom Thursday, October 11, 2007 1 comments

There goes the neighborhood. Our lgbt leaders keep letting more people in our adorable gated community. For some reason, they have insisted that we allow John Aravosis to be included.

In simpler times, we didn't have this annoying blogger expecting to be included in our august presence. Sometime in the late '90s or early '00s, a few gay rights groups and activists started including him. And that's when today's horrible situation began.

Some in America's queer community, or rather, its leadership, might be apoplectic over the possible passage of a version of ENDA that did not include John Aravosis. You would think passage of ENDA without Aravosis would be cause for celebration, but apparently not in the minds of those damned people who keep nattering on about "diversity."

ENDA was first introduced in 1874, and it didn't include Aravosis who wasn't even alive at the time. Yet, many activists and national and local gay rights groups would angrily demand that efforts to omit John Aravosis be stopped.

I felt alone. Then an odd thing happened. I started looking around at blogs (as well as listening to the voices in my head) and some people find Aravosis really annoying. Everyone would feel bad about taking anybody out of ENDA; everyone supports John Aravosis' rights; but everyone would say "pass it anyway."

The main argument is practical politics. Politics involves compromise. If enough people realized that a jerk like Aravosis was included in ENDA, it might threaten passage of the legislation.

I have a theory about movements. You cannot force people to accept people I don't like from the top down.

I have a sense that John Aravosis was imposed on the lgbt community from outside, or at least above. A lot of us have been scratching our heads for years trying to figure out what we have in common with John Aravosis. Beats the crap out of me.

It sure is a fair question, but one we know we dare not ask. It is simply not p.c. How dare I ask what I as a gay man have in common with a man like John Aravosis! Tsk. Tsk.

Is it really that wrong for me to simply ask why we have to be stuck with him?

Does this sound arbitrary to you? Does it sound unreasonable?

Tough!

Note: If you haven't figured out by now that this post is sarcastic, I feel really sorry for you.

Proud Progressive found an excellent piece in Fa Blog that debunks John Aravosis' efforts to exclude trans people from the queer community. David Ehrenstein does an excellent job of this from a moral, political, and ideological perspective.

Two things that are left to be done are to debunk some of the factual errors Aravosis made in his transphobic screed on the Salon website and discuss the political culture that helps to generate them.

Let's start with a whopper of a factual error.

ENDA was first introduced 30 years ago. In all that time, it only protected sexual orientation and never included gender identity.

Was ENDA introduced around the time of 1977?

Not even close. ENDA was introduced in 1994. The civil rights legislation from the late 70s was significantly stronger, including housing as well as employment. The employment protections were stronger in the previous bill as well.

The later addition of trans specific protections represented an important improvement in a compromised piece of legislation. It should have started a process of strengthening ENDA, not producing endless transphobic whining by the queer right.

This is especially relevant given Aravosis' main argument against trans inclusion.
Their main argument, which I support: practical politics. Civil rights legislation -- hell, all legislation -- is a series of compromises. You rarely get everything you want, nor do you get it all at once.

If Avarosis understood the fact that ENDA already is a heavily compromised piece of legislation, even including trans queers, then he might see the practical problem with his approach.

There also is another ugly fact that Aravosis ignores. Bush will veto ENDA no matter what form it is in. The only thing that can be accomplished in this Congressional session by excluding part of the queer community is to assist the ongoing process of continually weakening the bill so that it is merely symbolic by the time there is a Congress and a White House willing to allow any lgbt civil rights legislation to go into law.

Aravosis also errs when he assumes that the only reasons that trans inclusion has so much political support in the queer community are moral and ethical. Leaving out gender identity gives homophobic bigots a loophole to try to exploit.

Lambda Legal points out in its legal analysis:
In addition to the missing vital protections for transgender people on the job, this new bill also leaves out a key element to protect any employee, including lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who may not conform to their employer's idea of how a man or woman should look and act. This is a huge loophole through which employers sued for sexual orientation discrimination can claim that their conduct was actually based on gender expression, a type of discrimination that the new bill does not prohibit.

But, it's even worse for at least two reasons.

1) Separating out gender identity suggests that Congress intended to allow this loophole, and courts often give deference to congressional intent.

2) No human being behaves in a "masculine" or "feminine" manner all the time. A homophobic employer's lawyers are given the opportunity to cherry-pick behavior in order to take advantage of the loophole. (Note: being "straight acting" won't protect people, since even hetero men occasionally engage in behavior that could be described as "feminine" in the eyes of an opportunistic corporate lawyer.)

Lawyers fighting sexual orientation discrimination in the courts often already face heterosexist judges and jurors. Why make their jobs even more difficult?

Aravosis' naive logic of compromise and his lack of understanding of our legal system are not the only aspects of his rantings that suffer from an ahistorical perspective. His general premise is downright bizarre.
I have a sense that over the past decade the trans revolution was imposed on the gay community from outside, or at least above, and thus it never stuck with a large number of gays who weren't running national organizations, weren't activists, or weren't living in liberal gay enclaves like San Francisco and New York. Sure, many of the rest of us accepted de facto that transgendered people were members of the community, but only because our leaders kept telling us it was so.

If Aravosis knew and understood queer history, he would know that trans people always have been part of the queer community. The irony is that, if not for the trans people who played the largest role in starting the Stonewall Riots, we wouldn't be seriously discussing passing ENDA or anything like ENDA. Certainly, Aravosis would not have a blog where he regularly speaks out on lgbt issues.

One might wonder why Aravosis is sticking to positions that make no logical or historical sense.

There is a section from his Salon piece that provides a clue into the political culture that produces the mentality of Aravosis.
Then an odd thing happened. I started asking friends and colleagues, ranging from senior members of the gay political/journalistic establishment to apolitical friends around the country to the tens of thousands of daily readers of my blog, if they thought we should pass ENDA this year even without gender identity. Everyone felt bad about taking gender identity out of ENDA, everyone supported transgender rights, and everyone told me "pass it anyway."

Aravosis may have talked to a few people outside of the DC metro area, but his views are steeped in the DC queer social and political culture which is vastly different than queer culture in other parts of the country.

After living in DC for a couple of years, I had realized that the lgbt culture in DC was oddly and strongly conservative, something vastly out of touch with the rest of the country. In fact, the District of Columbia is probably the only large political jurisdiction in the US where the queer community, on average, is more conservative than the hetero community.

And, the conservatism is not limited to politics. The culture that produced Aravosis' comments values blandness, conformity, personal income, and social status above all else. It is no wonder that anti-trans sentiment is pervasive among many queers in DC - it gives them another group of people to look down on.

The point of view in Aravosis' blog is that of this conservative DC queer culture that often chokes on the word queer. He does have a faithful following of people in his blog, but one can create a highly successful blog with only a small segment of the queer community. A large blog audience is a small audience in the larger society.

The blog's tone leaves me bored and unrepresented, so I seldom visit it. That's fine. No blog is for everyone. The problem is that Aravosis sees his self-reinforcing blog audience and the DC queer culture as somehow representative of people who aren't "living in liberal gay enclaves like San Francisco and New York." He fails to recognize that he is the one who is out of touch, not his critics.

Do We Really Want $5.00 Per Gallon Gas?

Posted by libhom Wednesday, October 10, 2007 3 comments

There already are a lot of other people who are focusing on the Bush regime's alleged policy justifications for an attack on Iran. This blog can add to the debate by focusing on areas that are not getting adequate coverage in the corporate media or in the alternative media, for that matter.

Even if Iran does not retaliate after being bombed by the Bush regime, that will not protect us from dramatically higher gas prices. Iran may not be a major oil supplier to the US, but the Iranians sell a lot of oil to other countries. Those countries would bid up the price of oil if an attack on Iran were to cut off oil exports. Even business reporting in the corporate media sometimes catches onto this.

Will Iran dispute push oil to $130? (CNN Money 2/2/06)

And, many foreign policy experts expect Iran to live up to threats to retaliate. Iran and Saudi Arabia already have terrible relations. The civil war in Afghanistan was partly a proxy war between the two countries with Iran siding with the warlords (a.k.a. "The Northern Alliance") and Saudi Arabia siding with the Taliban and Al Qaida. The Saudis are arming the Sunnis in Iraq while the Iranians are arming the Shi'ites. (And both sides are getting plenty of arms and training from the US military as their members also pose as Iraqi military and police.)

Saudi oil facilities would be a tempting target for Iran under any circumstances. If Iran's oil production is shut down during an attack, the narrow Straights of Hormuz would be a tempting target for mining. (If the Iranians cannot sell petroleum, why would they allow anyone else too either.) There are plenty of other targets which could cut off oil production and transport for a time, pushing oil and, in turn, gas prices higher.

The US economy is based on petroleum. Any massive increase in oil prices would raise the prices of nearly everything we buy, not just gasoline, since nearly everything we buy is imported and then transported in trucks across the country. Our nation's environmentally unfriendly dependence on plastics also would be problematic, since the vast majority of them are made with petroleum.

A rapid increase in oil prices also would increase the already huge trade deficits we are running, which in turn would make our current credit squeeze even worse. Our country cannot afford an additional borrowing binge. The dollar is in free fall, and an oil shock could make things much worse.

The economy already sucks for middle class and poor Americans. How much more can we take?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Is Not the Dictator of Iran

Posted by libhom Tuesday, October 09, 2007 1 comments

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad certainly is a homophobe and a religious extremist, but he is not the dictator of Iran.

Here is the definition of "dictator."
( from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Main Entry: dic·ta·tor
Pronunciation: 'dik-"tA-t&r, dik-'
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, from dictare
1 a : a person granted absolute emergency power; especially : one appointed by the senate of ancient Rome b : one holding complete autocratic control c : one ruling absolutely and often oppressively
2 : one that dictates

Ahmadinejad usually is described as being a dictator of Iran based on the first definition, being an absolutely powerful autocrat. There is an obvious problem with this description. In Iran, the president is not the most powerful person in the country.

Here is some information from Wikipedia on the structure of Iran's government:
The political system of the Islamic Republic is based on the 1979 Constitution called the "Qanun-e Asasi" ("Fundamental Law"). The system comprises several intricately connected governing bodies. The Supreme Leader of Iran is responsible for delineation and supervision of "the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran". The Supreme Leader is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, controls the military intelligence and security operations; and has sole power to declare war. The heads of the judiciary, state radio and television networks, the commanders of the police and military forces and six of the twelve members of the Council of Guardians are appointed by the Supreme Leader. The Assembly of Experts elects and dismisses the Supreme Leader on the basis of qualifications and popular esteem.[73] The Assembly of Experts is responsible for supervising the Supreme Leader in the performance of legal duties.

After the Supreme Leader, the Constitution defines the President of Iran as the highest state authority. The President is elected by universal suffrage for a term of four years. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians prior to running in order to ensure their allegiance to the ideals of the Islamic revolution. The President is responsible for the implementation of the Constitution and for the exercise of executive powers, except for matters directly related to the Supreme Leader, who has the final say in all matters. The President appoints and supervises the Council of Ministers, coordinates government decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the legislature. Eight Vice-Presidents serve under the President, as well as a cabinet of twenty-one ministers, who must all be approved by the legislature. Unlike many other states, the executive branch in Iran does not control the armed forces. Although the President appoints the Ministers of Intelligence and Defense, it is customary for the President to obtain explicit approval from the Supreme Leader for these two ministers before presenting them to the legislature for a vote of confidence. Iran's current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was elected in a run-off poll in the 2005 presidential elections. His term expires in 2009.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the current supreme leader of Iran. He is the one who has ultimate power in Iran, yet we read and here little about him in the US, especially from the corporate media. Ahmadinejad may make a lot of heinous noise and certainly has important administrative powers, but our media's obsession with him is preventing the US public from forming fact-based opinions on Iran.

Considering all the talk of a US/Iran military conflict, this basically locks the vast majority of the American people out of any informed debate at a time when we as a people should be deciding whether or not we should attack Iran. The politicians and the corporate media are treating the American people like sheep.

From the Green Party of the United States (9/28/07):

Summary of Green positions on the war:

The Green Party of the United States has called for full and immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the occupation of which is entering its sixth year; the party opposes a US military attack on Iran and warns Americans not to believe the new flood of deceptive war propaganda.

Greens stress that Congress could end the war quickly if Democrats refused to move on bills for war funding, including the latest request for nearly $190 billion the Pentagon says is necessary to keep combat troops in Iraq for another year. Greens urge Congress to divert federal funds from war spending to human needs and services in the US, including restoration and rebuilding in the Gulf Coast.

The Green Party has called for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for numerous abuses of power, including misleading the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq. Greens have called the invasion a criminal breach of the US Constitution and international law, motivated by desire for political and corporate dominance in the region, control over Iraqi oil and other resources, and cooperation with Israel's aggressive strategic objectives.

How in the world do Democratic Party strategists plan to keep liberal and progressive voters from voting Green in 2008 when the Democratic Party leadership acts like a bunch of war mongering Republicans? The Democratic leadership seems determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Their cowardice and dependence on big money contributors have left them incapable of acting in their own interests or in the national interest.

Sometimes it's better to let the militant, fundamentalists speak for themselves. They express their values so well. Here's an example.

Delores Williams:

I think you have a set of vindictive professors who agreed with the policies and practices of Oral Roberts University until they got fired.

This is just relatiation at its lowest level. They deserve to be fired for having bad character.

I am not saying that ORU or Richard Roberts are completely right about this, but why are they going after individuals instead of just the corporation? ORU is not Richard Roberts. He can fire them, but my guess is that money is at the other end of this lawsuit.

They held a press conference in order to try to blackmail ORU into settling with them, and now that has backfired.

I think if you file a frivilous lawsuit you should have to pay not only the court costs, but damages as well.

Bush's Broken Promise Worse Than Craig's

Posted by libhom Sunday, October 07, 2007 2 comments

Republicans are suddenly discovering the idea that politicians should keep their word when it comes to Larry Craig. Sen. John Ensign, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, postured self-righteously:

"I think it is best for the U.S. Senate. I think it is best for his party that if he just keeps his word. He gave us his word that he would do something. He's backing out on us, and I don't think it is the right thing to do."

Compare this to Ensign's silence on Bush.

In his pre-war rhetoric, Bush continually promised the American people that he was pursuing diplomatic options with Iraq and that he wanted peace.
"I'm willing to give peace a chance to work," Bush said. "I want the United Nations to work. I want him to do what he said he would do. But for the sake of our future, now's the time. Now's the time."
(CNN.com 9/22/02)

We now know that Bush was determined to go to war with Iraq no matter what. This was a promise broken by Bush to get Congress and the American people to go along with a war resolution on Iraq, despite growing doubts about his lies on WMDs in Iraq and supposed links between mortal enemies, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

Why are Republicans more upset by a relatively minor broken promise by Craig than a devastating broken promise by Bush?

The answers are homophobia and political offices that are for sale to the highest campaign contributors.

War profiteers own the politicians and much of the media (e.g., GE owns NBC and MSNBC). So, it is not surprising that little would be said of Bush's catastrophic broken promise.

Craig himself invokes little sympathy. Throughout his slimy political career, he promoted and reveled in the very heterosexist bigotry that is falling upon himself. He is getting a terrible taste of his own medicine.

Gay Lib 101 - a refresher course

Some Notes on Living has one of the most moving and powerful statements on queer liberation I've seen in years. It uses efforts to exclude our trans sisters and brothers from ENDA as a jumping off point to discuss a lot of important issues that currently get spun away by the corporate media, including the corporate queer media.

Bravo!

Boycott Sex with Republicans

Posted by libhom Saturday, October 06, 2007 1 comments

The Republican Party is literally a homophobic, racist, misogynist, AIDSphobic, Christian-supremacist hate-group. The GOP and the KKK share the same values and agenda.

All Republicans are promoting discrimination and violence against queers. There is no possible way to support the GOP without promoting said discrimination and violence. Have you ever noticed how many Log Cabin Republicans glorify Ronald Reagan, whose AIDS policies resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of gay and bisexual men?

Every Republican is personally responsible every time:

- someone is fired from their job for being lgbt

- someone is denied housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity

- someone is beaten or even killed by bashers

Why should we have sex with people who are endangering our jobs, our homes, and our very lives?

When Log Cabin is faced with any deserved criticism (usually understated quite a bit), they cry "intolerance." By doing so, they are using a rhetorical ploy invented by the KKK to spin their racism. The ploy was picked up by other Christian Right hate-groups to lash out at condemnations of their heterosexist and misogynist bigotry. They are claiming:

It is "intolerant" to speak out against intolerance.

There is no reason why we have to have sex with members of a homophobic hate group. It is repulsive to even think about sex with these bigots and traitors.

Eleven Regional Protests Against Iraq War October 27

Posted by libhom Friday, October 05, 2007 1 comments


United for Peace and Justice is organizing regional protests against the war in eleven cities on October 27.

  1. Jonesborough, TN

  2. Boston

  3. Chicago

  4. Los Angeles

  5. New Orleans

  6. New York

  7. Orlando

  8. Philadelphia

  9. Salt Lake City

  10. San Francisco

  11. Seattle

The Tennessee protest is listed first here because it is particularly interesting that a major anti-war protest is taking place in the South. Also, the protest is calling attention to highly dangerous depleted uranium ordinance in that state.

The New Orleans march has the added interest of booths at the rally from various groups offering volunteer opportunities for people wishing to help with the Katrina recovery while they are there.

Salt Lake organizers are reminding people that we should "Build bridges, not bombs." Such logical thinking is seldom heard in the corporate media. Seattle has a great poster.

Personally, I will attend here in NYC.

View and share the promo video:


Learn More

 

People for the American Way (PFAW) is asking people to contact sign a petition calling on Congress not to renew their temporary gutting of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

From their petition acknowledgment page:

Last August, the Senate and House caved under White House pressure and voted to OK the gutting of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). For 30 years, FISA has served as a check on the government’s surveillance activities for intelligence purposes.

I just signed a petition telling Congress to "get a spine", and stand up to the White House and fix FISA. We can’t accept anything less than a law that will protect Americans’ constitutional rights and provide oversight of government surveillance.

Will you join me in signing this petition?

Sign the Petition

The original FISA law has been criticized for insufficiently protecting civil liberties, but the Bush regime and the Democratic Congress have gone along with gutting the few protections in that law.

Learn more about FISA from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Trans Activists to Picket HRC Dinner

Posted by libhom Thursday, October 04, 2007 4 comments

Trans activists have been resigning from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) over the organization's refusal to condemn the efforts of Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank to split ENDA into two pieces of legislation, effectively kicking trans people out of the only version of ENDA that the House Democratic leadership wants to pass. There also is perfectly understandable anger over the HRC's decision to support the trans exclusive version of ENDA.

Pride at Work has postponed its picket over Nancy Pelosi's presence at the dinner in response to her decision to delay the ENDA split for now. However, trans activists are picketing the dinner over the lack of support from the HRC for the unified bill.

From the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) press release:

Recently, Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights
(NCLR) authored and circulated a letter signed by more than 150 different state and national organizations and submitted to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi petitioning for a return to one inclusive bill for the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), HR 2015 in its inclusive form.

From this effort has come a new ad-hoc campaign: United ENDA, the new collective of over 150 organizations (www.unitedenda. org) that have agreed to the principles of explicitly inclusive legislation submitted to Congress.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which claims to be the largest U.S. LGBT civil rights organization, has not signed onto an endorsement of the statement signed by the members of United ENDA, opposing the split of the proposed bill into separate legislation,“ one for sexual orientation and one for gender identity.

"We are very disappointed and angry that any civil rights organization claiming to advocate for our rights can turn their backs on us when the going gets tough," said Ethan St.Pierre, Board Chair of NTAC. "It amounts to a betrayal, since HRC earlier promised to support only an inclusive ENDA."

The call to action:
All those who stand in solidarity with the transgender community, including HRC Board members wishing to make a statement, are welcome to join us on Saturday, October 6th at 4:30 p.m. before the Major Donors Reception. The picketing will continue throughout the General Reception and Banquet.

There are lots of things I wish I had known before I moved here. Here are some things that will make life less confusing for newcomers.

311 is run by the Dept. of Wrong Answers.

Michael Bloomberg hates middle class people.

Bloomberg is a major homophobe and racist, though he pretends otherwise.

Some women here love cutting in line.

Staten Island is bigger than Manhattan.

NY1 is as right-wing as it is bland.

From Bloomberg's perspective, recycling primarily serves as a pretext to fine people.

The New York Times doesn't bother with much local news coverage.

Corporations get more government support here than poor people.

New Yorkers are much nicer than they seem at first.

You see a lot more good looking people in Soho than in the Financial District.

There are lots of trees in NYC.

The overwhelming majority of people in NYC do not live in Manhattan. They live in one of the other four boroughs.

The buses in NYC are much more useful than in most places.

Many of the bicyclists are predatory in their behavior towards pedestrians. Watch out.

The state and local governments live up to the negative stereotypes of government far more than governments do in other parts of the country.

The City Council has far less power than city councils do in most places.

The state's supreme court is called the "Court of Appeals."

There are a bunch of "Supreme Courts" that are really district courts.

The boroughs have the same boundaries as counties in NYC, but the names aren't necessarily the same.

There are lots of Republicans in NYC, though not close to a majority. Most are either rich or live in Staten Island.

A major share of campaign money in NYC comes from rich Republicans. It influences local policies more than most people realize.

The MTA mismanages the most extensive public transportation system in the country.

Most politicians here are anti-union, though most pretend they are pro-union.

From Pride at Work's email:

House Democratic Leaders Back Off On Plan to Cut Gender Identity Out of ENDA, Pride at Work Holds Off on Demonstration

House Democratic leaders decided on Monday, October 1st, to delay a scheduled committee meeting on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) where a new version of the bill that would eliminate protections for transgender people was going to be substituted for the original, fully inclusive bill. The House leaders said they were postponing the meeting in order to give the LGBT community more time to line up support for the original bill, HR 2015.

Pride at Work welcomed the postponement, and called off plans to picket the Speaker of the House, Representative Nancy Pelosi, at the Human Rights Campaign's national dinner in Washington, DC on Saturday, Oct. 6. Speaker Pelosi, who along with Representative Barney Frank, the prime sponsor of ENDA, had announced plans last week to cut gender identity from the bill, was to be the keynote speaker at the HRC gala.

"We're glad that Congressional leaders have recognized that the LGBT community will not stand for any attempt to leave any part of our community behind," said T Santora, Pride At Work Co-President. "We're confident that we can overcome any obstacles to a fully inclusive employment discrimination bill, and we stand ready to call a demonstration again if any further effort is made to divide our community. Unity and solidarity are essential."

Pride at Work, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituency group of the American labor movement, has organized impressive labor support for ENDA, with an unprecendented 24 International Unions and labor organizations among the 60 national allied groups that have endorsed the bill. "We thank our unions brothers and sisters, from the United Steelworkers, to the Service Employees International Union, to the AFL-CIO for speaking out and demanding an inclusive ENDA. We know the power of working people speaking up for justice," said Nancy Wohlforth, Pride At Work Co-President. "We will never sit idly by and watch one part of our community abandoned for political expediency. If our elected officials and leaders try this tactic again, they can expect to see Pride At Work members in the streets wherever they go."

It is good to know that a lot of people are making a lot of noise. But, don't trust Pelosi and Frank.

Contact Pelosi's Office Now!

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